The Grinning Butcher raised his right arm, flexing the muscles in his hand. As he tried to clench his aged, calloused fingers into a fist, bolts of pain shot from his wrist to his shoulder and he knew that his best Blood Bowling days were behind him. He snarled, spitting hatefully onto the pitch before wiping spots of stray saliva from his pink beard. It would not be a good day.
He looked around the stands. The roar of the crowd was somewhat muted today, the ferocious brays of the home fans tempered by the ragged groans of the rather ill-looking Ravens fans. Necro supporters certainly weren’t what they used to be. This once-mighty Warrior of the Blood God would at one time have relished sullying the virtue of countless necromantic fans, with their faux-black hair, their heavy eyeliner and – most importantly – their voluptuous chests that could smother the life out of a randy Bloodthirster. But those were the good old days, before the fads changed, the girls got fat and the vampire teams lured them away with their moping lamentations on the miseries of an immortal life. Now all that sadly remained were hordes of mindless zombies who, if they had the faculties at their disposal to be completely honest with themselves, didn’t have the faintest idea where their own feet were, let alone any sort of clue as to what everybody in the stadium was cheering about.
Indeed, the Horrors fans found plenty to cheer about as their newest signing, the minotaur Ermintrude Gayhammer, roared onto the pitch, scenting the blood of a werewolf. As soon as the ball was kicked-off to the Pink Ones, the Gayhammer thundered across the turf, tearing out chunks with its great hooves, straight for the wolf-man. While the minotaur pounded his way through the necromantic front line, the rest of the Horrors huddled around the ball and waited to see how the situation would play out.
The Ravens fans groaned as seventeen tonnes of angry bull managed to catch ‘Howling Mad’ Murrdok Von Drakk by the tail and launch him flailing across the pitch. The snapping of broken bones as the werewolf landed was drowned out by the ferocious brays of the man-goats. Their celebrations were quickly silenced though as the wolf-man defiantly stood, his bones mending themselves before their very eyes. Von Drakk was alive and well, though thankfully out for most of the rest of the first half.
With the wolf out of action, the Horrors decided it was time to make their move. Sadly, getting carried away while clutching the ball, the Drowned Lover ran in completely the wrong direction in order to lay a heavy punch in the face of an ambling zombie who had ‘looked at him funny’.
Once they had calmed down, the Horrors succeeded in forcing their way down the field with the ball, managing to whittle away most of the first half and denying the Ravens any hope of an equalizer before half-time.
By the second half, the Horrors had grown in confidence; they were leading by one touchdown, they had the entire team still alive on the pitch and Ermintrude was proving to be a fine investment. But as the Ravens lurched onto the field for the second half, the Horrors realised to their dismay that the necromantics had been keeping a little something back...
The crowd was silenced by the roar of a chainsaw as Hack Enslash marched out to join the Ravens on the pitch and it was clear from the start that his churning blade had the minotaur’s name written all over it. Barely a second had passed after the whistle blew before Ermintrude was nose-down in the turf being dragged bleeding from the field on a stream of his own blood.
In a rage of blood-lust, Hack Enslash ploughed on into the rest of the Horrors, lopping off the arm of the Oozing Gash with one wild swing of his chainsaw. Luckily, the warrior was tough enough not to need too much attention from the Horrors’ apothecary, who managed to successfully sew the limb back on.
The real controversy of the match came when Me? the zombie laid an apparently foul block against the Weeping Widow. After some violent protestations to the referee from the Horrors coach, along with many cutting insults from the players, the official resolved the situation by holding down the wronged man-goat while the offending zombie stamped on his head until he stopped twitching.
That was the last time anyone argued with the ref.
Aside from the Weeping Widow’s unfortunate death, the rest of the match seemed to go completely in the Horrors’ favour. Despite the Ravens taking possession at the start of the half, and then being particularly vocal with their fists throughout, their game plan fell foul when the wight carrying the ball was tripped as he tried to dart away from a scrum of man-goats. The Blushing Doxy, Concubine of Slaanesh, easily scooped up the flailing ball and threw it to Grull-Maggath, the Drowned Lover, who scored a second magnificent touchdown in the final stages of the game.
Their chances of victory evaporating before their glazed and vacant eyes, the rest of the match became an exercise in vengeance for the Ravens, who took every opportunity to try and kill off their opponents.
The Grinning Butcher was sent hurtling backwards through the air by the fist of a flesh golem, landing face-skywards in the dirt. Before his hand was destroyed and the subsequent foul infections of Nurgle had taken their toll, the blow would barely have tickled him. Now he lay staring at the stars which wheeled overhead, a weak and crippled old man, all use having abandoned him.
But as he stared upwards, the moon above grew red and something in the air changed. Thunder cried out, though the sky was cloudless and, from nowhere, a searing bolt of pink lightning pierced his chest. All was blackness and agony and the scream of tortured souls. And then there was stillness.
He awoke at dawn to find the rest of the team looking down at him. He was still lying in the middle of the pitch and, but for his team-mates, the stadium was empty.
‘We thought you dead,’ grunted the Drowned Lover.
‘Aye,’ he agreed.
‘What with lightning and all,’ explained the Broken Oath.
‘Aye,’ said the Butcher.
‘And your legs,’ he added.
‘Aye.’ The Grinning Butcher sat up. ‘What? What you sayin' 'bout my legs?’
The team shuffled nervously, staring at their hooves.
‘What’s wrong with my legs?’
The Butcher looked down.
‘Oh,’ he said.
They were glowing.