The Rip-Roaring, Unabridged and Entirely True History
of The Pink Horrors!
From the Journal of Head Coach Lysenko.
"Sigh. Just get on with it. Don't make this any longer or more painful than it needs to be..."
The Green Glade Hackers: A Requiem.
...I watched the last game of the season from the stands and I had to admit, despite my loathing for Stark-Elm, there’s little that I might have done differently. If I hadn’t hated her so much, I would have truly admired her, the way she commanded the field, orchestrating every movement of the Hackers’ game while herself playing with her usual ferocious grace.
In all the jubilation at the final whistle - the Hackers cheering and dancing like the league was already theirs - nobody noticed as I slipped past the dryad bodyguards and into the tunnel to the dressing rooms, hidden amongst the shambling forms of the defeated Blessedof Nephren-Ka players as they headed for their sombre dust-baths.
I made my way to the Hackers’ dressing room through the narrow wooden corridors, one hand hidden beneath my robes and clutched tightly to my chest. I knew the stadium well and didn’t need to follow the light footfalls in the loose earthen floor to find where I was going, like any common assassin might. I saw not another soul by the time I had reached my destination and slipped inside.
It was there that I intended to wait for the return of Stark-Elm and the others who had betrayed me. Yes, they would burst through those doors, songs of merriment and victory upon their lips, joyous and gay as I sat ready for them, waiting to cut the head from the serpent who had taken my team away from me.
I did not have to wait long.
Footsteps approached. Were they whispers outside? Slowly, silently, I drew the weapon...
The door opened and it was not who I was expecting. Then everything went very black.
I awoke with a scream and it was as dark as pitch. Wooden walls pressed in all around me! The air was hot and so thin that I could barely breathe. It felt like I was being suffocated within my own untimely coffin! Naturally, panic defeated any sense which I had left and my fists and feet pounded at the sides of my casket. My fists were grazed bloody and raw before they managed to splinter the door of the locker. I fell graceless and shivering into a heap on the floor, sucking in the dirt with my desperate breaths.
Any ecstasy of relief which I felt was short-lived when I finally found strength to look up: My eyes were drowned by an ocean of gore and I knew in an instant that the Green Glade Hackers were dead. Their bodies lay strewn about, limbs bent in ways that even their limber frames could never have dreamt of. Puddles of blood congealed on the soft floor, fountained from headless necks or limbless torsos; run like rivers from their eviscerated carcasses.
Few of them, could I now name. The shock of magnificent red hair could only have belonged to Stormwind, perhaps my favourite of all, though now it hung swaying from the ceiling, dangling only the dripping cap of her skull beneath it. And who could mistake loyal Clooney? Oh, confined to the bench for the last game, could he not have turned his back on this team when I had? If so, then maybe one of the ragged ears of his trademark bearskin hood would not be protruding from his gaping mouth while the rest burst from his rent chest like the stuffing of a broken toy. And finally of course, there was Stark-Elm herself. In the end, I took no pleasure in seeing her dead, lain there as she was, failing to hold in her disembowelled innards with a copy of Spike Magazine. One of her hands was smashed and the other missed two fingers. In her eyes there was fear, which I had never seen before. In death, the Queen of the Blood Bowl Field had departed and all that was left had become ordinary.
I had barely staggered to my feet when cries could be heard far and wide of Calamity!and Woe! My clothes felt heavy and wet and, when I looked down at myself, dread settled into the pit of my stomach. I was smeared from head to toe in streaks of fetid offal and oozing blood. Indeed, a hand to my face revealed that it had been plastered there like the war-paints of the Savage Orcs or the wild Giants of the North. I could hear the corridors fill with approaching elves, screaming their hatred and I knew that I would never live long enough to explain myself. I did not need to check my pocket to know that my marvellous weapon, the scroll which proved Stark-Elm’s role in the death of Twister Pine-Cone, was gone! It lay scattered and illegible amongst the red ruin of my former team.
I bowed my head, my life was undone.
Yet from behind me, something stirred. Before I heard its movement, I could smell its bovine hide; animal, mixed with sweat and slaughter. Hot breath steamed down from above me, condensing into foul droplets which ran down my neck and back. I dared turn only enough to see the hand which clenched about my shoulders, so tight it felt like my whole body would break. Its skin was black like scorched leather, cracked and hard, glistening with flecks of dried blood and run throughout with old scars and new. Yet amongst this silhouetted form, five shards or colour rang out – Each of the monster’s fingernails had been painted a violent shade of pink!
The creature pulled me closer to itself and I cried out in pain as my bones almost snapped. I could hear it trying to form words from whatever it had for a mouth. They came out as wild brays at first, then hacking grunts, before finally, it managed:
‘YOU. WORK. US. NOW.’
The creature’s breaths burned hot in one ear, the murderous cries of the approaching elves rang in the other, and I knew then that I had no choice...
The Thing in the Skin-Tent
The entrails bubbled and spat as they slopped onto the fire, sending up a squealing hiss of blood-steam which made my stomach clench. It was perversely comforting, the feel of my gorge rising, despite everything I’d seen both on and off the Blood Bowl field. Yes, I was certainly no stranger to the sight of red stuff, grey stuff, oozing black stuff... But still, it made me want to vomit every time I saw it and that made me glad. I was still human, at least.
The same could not be said for the thing which sat hunched before the fire, or at least that was my assumption. I had never seen its face, shrouded as it was in stinking, heavy robes from head to toe, but its grunting voice bore the same guttural rasp as the brutal man-goats who had imprisoned me in ‘gainful employment’. The only ever glimpses of the creature beneath were the brief flashes of clawed fingers as they threw bloodied offerings into the dazzling blue flames, sickening gifts to the foulest of gods.
The stench of the tent was almost overwhelming, a heady mix of putrid meats and mouldering animal hair, acrid smoke and burned flesh, all trapped within walls of skin which, I had been assured, had been hewn from the screaming forms of the more disappointing of the Pink Horrors’ previous Head Coaches.
I slumped to the ground, awaiting the words of ‘He’. I had been summoned, and I knew that it was my life to disobey.
The impenetrable blackness beneath the hood surveyed the dancing flames and the only sounds in the tent were the crackle of burning wood and the sizzling of bodily fats. It seemed like half an age of the world before a yellow-brown claw flashed from beneath the robes, swiping at the fire.
‘It... It say you... bad omen,’ He struggled to form the words, like his tongue was unsuited to the intricacies of human language. ‘It say... you bring shame...’
He looked me in the eye, so far as I could tell and I couldn’t help but shiver.
‘...It say I should geld your billy-plums and feed them to the minotaur.’
‘But we don’t have a --’ I ventured.
‘YOU BAD COACH! WILL BRING SHAME TO THE GODS!’
‘I might not. Last team I coached, won the league.’
‘LAST TEAM YOU COACH, ALL DEAD!’
‘But that was you!’
He fell silent and I edged back slightly. I was still bloodied and purple from the last time I had disagreed with ‘He’.
I watched him, the breath caught in my throat. Waiting.
When it came, the low, moaning bray which thundered from beneath those filthy robes shook the very skin-walls of the tent and, if only for a moment, dampened the fire itself. In those few moments of flickering darkness, I allowed myself a nervous half-smile. I think He was laughing.
The sound stopped abruptly, my smile faded. A claw stretched up from beneath the robes and my gaze followed it up to the roof of the tent.
‘You... see this?’
I watched as the thick smoke from the fire rose up through the rent in the ceiling, spreading in the night air to blot out the foreign stars. Ragged flaps of sewn skin - human, elf, perhaps even orc - shivered around the edges of what I could only describe as -
‘A smoke hole. It’s a smoke hole,’ I said.
‘No.’ The claw slowly dropped and stretched out over the flames, immersed in them but untouched by them, until it rested but a hair’s-width from my broken nose. ‘It is your hole.’
‘My...?’ But I knew exactly what He meant.
‘Tomorrow you play elves – You want keep skin, you not lose...’
It was going to be another one of those seasons...
Like most base animals, the Pink Horrors were often made nervous by sudden changes to their habitat, and the appearance of the towering stage and speaker stacks at the north end of the Pink Pyre Stadium set the beastmen’s hearts pounding.
Perhaps more off-putting was the distinct lack of cheering, stomping and clapping from the crowd as the home team roared from the tunnel at the start of the match. In fact, to their dismay, the Pink Ones were met with absolute silence as they took to the pitch. They brayed fiercely, then mournfully to the crowd, but all eyes were on the stage...
Most of the beastmen fell to the ground and even the massive forms of the iron-clad warriors were forced to shield their eyes as the stage suddenly burst bright with the shattering light of a thousand dancing flames. The wailing of slaves and the unmistakable scent of burning flesh filled the air as the Twisted Sisters leapt onto the stage, shrieking laughter at their blazing prisoners.
The crowd jumped to their feet, almost buckling the wooden bleachers of the Pink Pyre, the force of their cheers ringing for miles around.
The Starchild held the mic close, a crooked smile ghosting his lips as his eyes surveyed the adoring crowd. With barely an ounce of effort, his voice powered through the speakers by a crashing wave of audiomancy, he intoned:
‘Do. You. Love. Us?’
The crowd cried out their affirmation, weeping adoring tears of pure rapture. A swathe of them burst forth onto the pitch, rushing the foot of the stage. Some were beaten back by the force of the flames, but most were able to gladly throw themselves upon the raging conflagration, jumping –oblivious - in excitement, reaching to touch the form of the Starchild even as their muscles shrank and cracked.
The Starchild laughed gleefully as he dropped his trousers and urinated on his burning fans. The rest of the crowd cried out their joy all the loader and even the beastman Ug-Gruff-Gaw, ‘the Darkling Heart’ brayed his approval.
The rest of the Horrors glared in silence as the ‘Darkling Heart’ punched the air, overjoyed. When he eventually noticed their disdain, he shrugged.
‘Their live album... really good,’ he explained and grudgingly fell silent.
The Starchild took up the mic once more.
‘Let’s. Play. Blood Bowl!’
And with that, the Twisted Sisters stormed the pitch, the referee blew his whistle, and the dooming of the Pink Horrors began...
Both teams lost time as fans rioted to get autographs from the Starchild, but once the pitch was cleared, it was a cagey start to the beastmen’s game, having received the ball but not quite daring to pick it up in case of catastrophe. Their uncertainty as to what this strange, round piece of inflated skin was led to the Starchild rushing forth and scoring an early touchdown – pushing the Horrors onto the back-hoof.
The children of the Dark Gods now had it all to do – at best hoping to equalise before the half-time whistle. But as they became bogged down in surrounding elves, they were forced to fall back upon their favoured tactic of hitting problems until they were solved. Sadly though, the audacious sacrifice of the Twisted Sisters at the outset seemed to have secured the favour of the gods.
Each time the elves were beaten to the floor, they merely jumped back to their feet, unscathed, much to the annoyance of Head Coach Lysenko. In the end, the Horrors were unable to punch their way through the Dark Elf lines and, predictably, the Sisters scored their second touchdown at the beginning of the second half.
Hopes of a win were quickly fading for the Horrors and they moved from a scoring stance to one of damage control, knowing that under the circumstances, a two-nil defeat would perhaps be better than they deserved.
Typically, as the ‘Weeping Widow’ awkwardly scooped up the ball from the pitch, he was swamped by the elves and forced to lob the ball down the field and hope for the best. Equally typically, Mendaitha, plucked the ball out of the air with magnificent grace. In a bizarre twist though, the gods’ interest waned - perhaps becoming more excited by the sight of Khorne’s Killers butchering what was left of the Slaves to Pleasure – and the Sisters were unable to immediately capitalise on their good fortune.
What followed was a catalogue of fumbles, trips, slips, drops and knock-outs, leaving both coaches wondering what their teams were doing, but – inevitably – the Horrors were unable to stop the elves scoring one last crowning touchdown.
It was then left to the Violated Virgin to restore at least some honour to the Horrors by smashing the teeth out of Snidjer’s head and forcing him to miss the next game.
In the end though, as the final whistle blew and the Twisted Sisters took to the stage to sate the crowd with a medley of their greatest hits (The Dark Gods Gave Rock and Roll to You, We Built This City on Broken Bones and Clanrat Out of Hell...), the Horrors slipped quietly off the pitch, only able to cling to the consolation that though the elves may have scored lots of those touchdown thingies, the immoral victory was theirs – winning one-nil on injuries caused.
In the dugout, Head Coach Lysenko was observed pinching and stroking the skin on his face sadly, as though one day soon, he would miss it...
The mist which clung to the ground covered Coach Lysenko like a cold and wet blanket. Though he woke to find his head resting upon a pillow of goat dung, it was the swift kick in the stomach from the hoof of ‘the Murdered Maid’ which he found to be the least welcome part of what had become his daily routine.
After the Pink Horrors’ defeat to the Twisted Sisters, the dungeons of the Pink Pyre Stadium had been deemed too ‘extravagant’ for Coach Lysenko, so the last six days and nights had been wallowed away in the goat pen, which – if he were to be honest – made it very difficult to coach Blood Bowl. In fact, from his wood-fenced prison amongst the squalor of the breeding-goats (or ‘four-legs’ as the man-goats called them), it wasn’t actually possible to see the pitch. ‘Did he catch it?’ the coach would call over the fence. ‘No? Okay, I think next time he should try to catch it...’
‘The Murdered Maid’ - as Lysenko understood its name to be translated - lifted the coach from the boggy filth by the scruff of the neck and grunted in his face.
‘...Today... Fight day. You give us... win?’
Coach Lysenko nodded his head, as best he could under the circumstances.
The man-goat glared, tightening his grip. He sneered and then effortlessly threw the frail human back down into the filth.
The coach looked up at the beast which towered above him, framed by the iron-grey sky, and asked:
‘So who are we playing?’
Disdainfully, the man-goat gestured with a nod of his head, ‘Them next-door...’
The Lashor Devestation Domewasliterally next-door - approximately fifty paces (as the goat trots) from the Pink Pyre Stadium; but dragged by a chain tied around the ankles, the journey seemed much further. The game was going to be a sell-out, if all of the queuing hooves that the Horrors’ coach saw as he bumped along the stony dirt were anything to go by.
The noise inside the stadium was agony to human ears, a cacophony of brays and roars which shook the very ground itself. Every now and then, the air was pierced by an unearthly squeal as warring fans successfully managed to geld their rivals using nothing but teeth and determination, while the stadium chef’s assistant rushed from stand to stand, collecting the dropped treasures for his testicle pies.
Animosity between the Devastation and the Horrors was running high, fuelled by a long and bloody dispute which began with one team or the other (nobody could exactly remember) accusing their neighbour of shamelessly pilfering their colour scheme. As a result , the stadium today was a violent wash of pink, with both teams steadfastly refusing to don their ‘away’ kit.
The referee examined the sky, checked the position of the pale sun, and blew his whistle.
A bladder filled with air was kicked down the pitch. It landed. Bounced. Lay forgotten.
A score of hooves gouged the field as the two sides thundered towards each other, fists clenched and teeth bared.
The pink pounding had begun...
‘The Grinning Butcher’ opened up the scoring for the Horrors by smashing Dark Horn to a bloody pulp, though it wasn’t long before the Lashor Devastation equalised with a vengeance, when Marius went toe-to-toe with ‘the Grinning Butcher’ and (with a vicious elbow) put him out of the game, to the crowd’s delight.
Scrugg-Ruff, ‘the Weeping Widow’ put the Horrors back ahead again before the end of the first half when he ferociously impaled the Devastation’s warrior Marius with a horn to the groin.
‘He back next game,’ Scrugg-Ruff laughed, ‘but he no pleasure breeding-goats tonight!’
The crowd-pleaser of the match though was no doubt the second-half incident involving the now-lauded Scrugg-Ruff and his opposite number, Vilehoof. After various comments and insults were exchanged between the two about their respective nanny’s, the fans watched in awe as the two man-goats powered down the pitch towards each other, butting heads so hard that their horns splintered. Both players collapsed beside each other, the sound of the crowd’s roars echoing in their ringing ears as everything went black...
In the end, the Pink Horrors claimed the victory, winning by three casualties to two.
Elsewhere on the pitch, the Horrors also scored two ‘touchdowns’, while the Devastation only scored one.
It was with a huge sigh of relief that Coach Lysenko was dragged away from the pitch, while Coach Rid was left on the sideline, wondering what went wrong as he picked testicle pie out of his teeth...
The crowds brayed in ferocious anticipation, the very walls of the stadium throbbing and swelling as the home team, the Slaves to Pleasure, took to the field. As always, the daughters of Slaanesh had promised a spectacular display, predicting debauchery and death in equal measure.
The Pink Horrors could but stare in wonder as the lithe, fey, grotesquely beautiful daemonettes whimpered and moaned their way pleasurably down the pitch towards them.
The referee’s hand trembled as he drew the whistle from his pocket and a sweat broke on his reddening brow.
It took three attempts before he could find his mouth with the whistle, but when he finally managed to sound the start of the match, the Slaves launched the ball down the field and... nothing happened.
The Horrors could only grin longingly as they watched their opponents writhing around on the pitch, all thoughts of Blood Bowl forgotten. Some of them began to applaud.
‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING???’ screamed the Blushing Doxy. A disciple of the Prince of Pleasure herself, she was immune to the spell woven by her Slaaneshi sisters. ‘GET THE BAAAAAAALL!’
‘But my billy-plums are tingling,’ moaned the beastman, Broken Oath.
The Blushing Doxy broke the hex with a swiftly-delivered iron-clad boot between the hind legs of the man-goat. He dropped to the floor, but his keening howl certainly gained the attention of the rest of the team.
‘Now GET THE BALL!’ screamed the Doxy.
‘Billy-plums sad...’ he groaned.
The rest of the team leapt for the ball, huddling around it, the beastman carrying it becoming lost in the protective scrum, and that’s where it stayed for the majority of the half as the Horrors fought off the attacks of the Slaves, but little daring to advance themselves.
In the end, this tactic led to a mad scramble for the endzone in the dying seconds of the first half. Thankfully for the Horrors, their caution paid off, scoring just as the half-time whistle blew. To the anger of the crowd though, this half had been sadly bereft of any serious injuries.
The second half was as tense as the first. The Horrors needed to fiercely defend their lead against the Slaves’ attack and several lucky knock-outs certainly helped them. In a huge stroke of luck for the Pink Ones, the Drowned Lover managed to counter a block from Escalvo, taking her out of the game and – potentially – cutting short her career.
After a scrappy defence, the Horrors managed to capitalise when Skavle of the Slaves tried to make a break for the endzone – the Betrayed Bride knocked him to the floor and sent the ball scattering.
The rest of the Horrors were quick to huddle around the ball, making it almost impossible for the Slaves to equalize. However, in a fit of madness and glory-lust, the Broken Oath leapt into the scrum of man-goats and attempted to pick up the ball, much to his team-mates’ dismay. He fumbled the pick-up and the ball bounded to the feet of Esclave, who danced around the scrambling Horrors to score a welcome equalizer.
With precious minutes left in the game, the Horrors were forced to try and emulate the strange and mysterious ways of the accursed elves. The Betrayed Bride picked up the kicked ball as it bounced across the pitch and, waving his arm while at the same time letting go of the air-filled bladder, managed to launch it down the field.
This was an entirely unexpected turn of events as far as the rest of the team were concerned and they were content to watch it land and tumble across the grass as they continued to pummel their opponents.
When the final whistle blew, the crowd were left longing for the orgy of death that they had been promised, while Coach Lysenko was left kicking himself for the simple error that had lost his team the advantage and the win...
The burial was at dawn, but there was no colour in the morning sky, just a pall of iron grey.
A keening wail pierced the mist, a mournful ballad butchered by a foul tongue as the Murdered Maid sang the eulogy. The funeral, if that it could be called, was in stark contrast to the graceful farewell bid to Twister Pine-Cone of the Green Glade Hackers.
Coach Lysenko remembered that occasion well; the scattered flowers, the silver-grey shroud that was intricately, lovingly, embroidered with the tapestry of the wood elf’s proudest achievements. And the words. The words which, though foreign and beyond the grasp of his human understanding, filled his very soul to the brim with sadness.
As the Drowned Lover and the Broken Oath dumped the smashed body of Ug-Gruff-Gaw, the Darkling Heart, into the shallow and hastily scored out pit, Lysenko realised that this burial would be something completely different.
The game had been a blood bath. Even now, in the healing-dungeon, the Grinning Butcher lay bandaged and bloody – and as he slept in his sweat-soaked bower, the nightmares made him scream as over and over again in his fever, the Jagermonsters came for him.
The nightmare for the Pink Horrors began at the outset. The Jagermonsters surged forwards on the whistle and the butchery began in earnest as the Repeated Scream was bludgeoned from the pitch. The Horrors tried to match the Norse-men’s ferocity by removing one of the fat-bearded ones in response, but the humans maintained their advantage shortly afterwards when the Oozing Gash was brutally removed from the game.
Thought the Horrors initially managed to stand firm in the face of the false-horns, scoring the first touchdown of the match, the Norse-men easily equalized in the remaining seconds of the first half, and a knock-out from the humans meant that the Pink Ones were a player down on their foes at the beginning of the second.
The whistle blew, the Horrors kicked, and then the slaughter began.
The Darkling Heart was the first to fall, killed mercilessly as the team’s apothecary tended the wounds of the Grinning Butcher, who barely survived a ferocious Yhetee-mauling.
By the end of the match, barely two players were left on the pitch for the Horrors as the Jagermonsters sat the ball beside the endzone and proceeded to foul the prone man-goats into oblivion. The Norse-men, drunk on dishonour, waited until the referee raised his whistle in preparation for the end of the match before easily stepping over the line to score.
It was the second loss of the season for the Horrors, but for Coach Lysenko it was a loss counted in more than touchdowns. It was a brutal loss that may well have taken his team out of contention for the league title.
Though the coffers had only swelled slightly after the game, the Horrors coach had already planned a mid-week pilgrimage to the local livestock auction. He was starting to think that he might need a minotaur after all...
Night-time was falling fast around the Pink Pyre Stadium and - as he was being dragged through the dirt by the chains around his ankles - Coach Lysenko couldn’t help but notice that with daytime’s thick pall of black clouds shrouding the sun, there was very little difference between the two at all.
The coach had become used to travelling around on his back and, if he were honest, the ground had been so worn by his prone body eroding its stony clay that his journeys were now almost what he’d call comfortable.
The Drowned Lover, probably the most proficient of all the man-goats, barged the stadium’s rotting wooden gates open with a pink-furred shoulder. Coach Lysenko didn’t need to trouble his neck to see where he was being taken as his head bounced off each and every one of the six-hundred-and-sixty-six stone steps leading down from the Pink Pyre.
Today had been Match Day, which meant only one thing.
Lysenko was being taken to He, the thing in the skin-tent.
At the foot of the almost-sheer slope of rock which ascended jaggedly towards the clouds, cradling the Pink Pyre Stadium at its peak, there sat a tent; an old tent, worn and weather-beaten, erected before the time of any now living. From without, its walls were hued a pale and ghostly blue by the flames which roiled inside – but those walls, at first glance ragged sheets of heavy cloth bound tight with twine, were not in fact what they seemed. Every inch of leathery material which sheathed the crudely-hewn wooden frame was all that remained of the coaches who had displeased the thing which dwelled within.
Whatever it was which resided beneath those tanned flaps of skin, its form shrouded in heavy, mouldering robes, had no name of which the coach was aware. ‘He’ was all anyone said; ‘Hewants to see you,’ or ‘He is angry,’ or ‘You must go to He and hope him not want to skip with your gizzards.’
The Drowned Lover threw back the entrance flap (Grolgar Mittenfeugen, Head Coach, circa I.C. 2168-2173...) and slung Lysenko inside. The coach scrambled to his knees and stared across the sapphire-blue flames. The form opposite was unmoving and the tent fell silent as the grave.
Seconds passed, dragging into minutes, and Lysenko began to sweat.
The creature, He, neither mover nor spoke.
The silence was unbearable and Coach Lysenko broke it before he was driven mad:
‘So... Not a bad result today, then?’
‘You know what they say,’ the coach tried to force a smile, ‘it’s not easy being green.’
Indeed, today it hadn’t been. In a rare show of skill, the Horrors had managed to convincingly keep their orc opponents at bay. Astun Killa had put up a ferocious fight, to be sure, leading with their fists the way that only an orc team can do, but so furious were the Pink Ones after their defeat to the Jagermonsters the week before, and so determined were they not to be humiliated in that manner again, the Horrors came out punching from the kick-off and didn’t stop until the last dregs of the crowd had begun their dismal walk home at the end of the match.
The war-master Khorne, fortunately for both sides, had been slumbering for much of the match and the most serious injuries suffered were knock-outs and bruised pride – though he did open one sleepy eye in time to see Baa-Ram-Ewe of the Horrors disembowelled by Jow Hurt of the Killas; but both orc and Chaos cheered his death in equal measure as nobody likes a journey-goat.
In the end, it had been a close game, the Horrors managing to cling to the narrow lead they had secured early in the first half. The orcs had put up a fine fight, but in the end the Horrors simply had to wait for the clumsy greenskins to do what they do best – drop the ball at every opportunity.
It wasn’t a comfortable win, or a glorious one, but it was at least a win which Lysenko felt merited him keeping his skin.
As if reading the coach’s thoughts, a finger – long-clawed and bony – appeared from beneath the creature’s robes.
‘Oh. I understand. Yes, yes please. I would like that very much.’
There came a snort from somewhere inside the robes.
‘Then...’ He said, ‘Someone you need to meet...’
Lysenko heard the tent flaps thrown open behind him and felt hot breath as something large and foul sniffed the back of his neck. He slowly turned to see the unmistakeable form of a minotaur trying to untangle its horns from the guy ropes.
The coach sighed.
‘Alright, if you insist. But the bell has got to go.’
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.
The usual cheers and roars from the packed stadium of the Vitesse Arnheim fell abruptly silent as the home team sheepishly crept out onto the pitch. The Pink Horrors’ players were forced to stare at their hooves, desperately trying to hold back fits of giggles as the minotaur hid its face and swallowed down the last of its mouthful.
It began with a single chuckle from somewhere at the back of the stands, growing into a smattering of guffaws from several small groups of supporters throughout the crowd before swelling infectiously, slowly spreading to all corners of the stadium until it became a howling roar of laughter from fans both elf and beast alike. The crowd were shrieking hysterically by the time the elf Marko van Ginkel had stormed naked to the scrimmage line to face off against the newly-promoted captain of the Horrors, the Spry Butcher.
‘WHEREIS IT?’ the elf spat through gritted teeth.
‘Where’s what?’ The Butcher fought to keep a straight face. ‘You missing something?’
‘You know exactly what we are miss–‘ van Ginkel looked down. ‘Your legs are glowing!’
‘Aye, sonny. They do that now.’
‘Where is our kit?’
Behind them, the minotaur belched loudly. The towering creature made a lunge for the elf but the Butcher raised his arm.
‘Easy, Ermintrude. Pointy’s lost his trousers, haven’t you, Pointy?’
‘Just give us our kit back!’
Lost in daydreams of violently hitting small furry things with sticks, the orc referee obliviously raised the whistle to its lips.
‘Wait,’ cried the elf, ‘we haven’t got our uniforms. Or our armour!’
The orc shrugged its swarthy shoulders.
‘You not bring kit,’ it slurred, ‘you play in your pants.’
The orc blew for the start of the match and that was the highlight of the elves’ game. Without any armour and being forced to protect their dignity with at least one hand at all times, things went downhill pretty quickly...
The Horrors had won the toss and, the Drowned Lover having expertly scooped up the ball, the Pink Juggernaut marched its way down the pitch as any man-goat and warrior with a free fist proceeded to punch the elves into the middle of next season. The lack of armour was obviously hampering the efforts of Vitesse as one by one they were ejected from the game and piled in a bloody heap by the side of the pitch.
The elves’ apothecary was forced to watch one of their journeymen bleed to death after being gored by Ermintrude Gayhammer – who was on astonishingly violent form, taking out no less than three opponents. Even when the apothecary did spring into action, the absence of armour on thrower Eloy Room meant that though almost certainly saved from a horrible death, his resilience had been as diminished as his once flawless (and now shredded) face.
While Gayhammer, the Butcher and new goat the Silent Blade tore their way through the poor elves, star scorer the Drowned Lover thought he’d have a crack at getting some more of those touchdown things that seemed to please the crowd so much. By the middle of the second half, the elves were so outnumbered that both he and the Murdered Maid found that they could score almost at their leisure while the rest of their unscathed team were urinating on the prone bodies of what was left of the elves.
By the final whistle, the surviving elves barely had the strength to breathe a sigh of relief. In fact, as the departing Horrors set fire to the stadium on their way out, most of Vitesse Arnheim barely had the strength to escape the raging inferno...
Coach Lysenko roared expletives, but they were all drowned out by the crash of splintering wood as the Turfinator brought the subs’ bench crashing down onto the top of the minotaur’s head. The beast went down like a sack of steak and the coach knew that he could well be out cold for the rest of the match. The black orc cheered gleefully, dancing on the spot for a moment before realising that he’d forgotten what he was so happy about.
The match had only just begun and this was not the start that Lysenko had wanted.
The Pink Horrors faced an insurmountable wall of green muscle and teeth in their opponents, Da Turf Trashers – a far cry from the delicate elves that they had crushed just days earlier.
Receiving the ball at the kick-off, the Horrors huddled tightly around the Drowned Lover – ball clutched in-hand – and proceeded to march in a cloven-hoofed phalanx down the pitch. Frustratingly, several fierce attacks on the orcs who stood between the Pink Ones and the endzone barely knocked the greenskins back more than a few paces, let alone slammed them to the turf and, half-way through the first half, the Horrors had barely managed to advance more than a few steps.
The situation was worsened, noted their coach, by a suspicious-looking old man with grey robes and a pointy hat standing casually on Da Turf Trashers’ side-line, absently twisting his beard around a heavily-engraved wand. Every now and then, he would look across the pitch and smile pleasantly at Coach Lysenko. This was not a comforting sign.
Lysenko hadn’t mentioned the potential for a searing bolt of lightning to roar out of nowhere and rend any one of them into a steaming pile of scattered limbs to the players, but by their nervous offense, Lysenko could only assume that they had worked that out for themselves.
In a final push to take the lead, the Drowned Lover broke free of the cage of man-goats which protected him and pelted down the pitch in the last seconds of the half. With the rest of the orcs tied up in furious melees, there was no-one to stop the Horrors’ star from scoring. Cursed by fate however, the Drowned Lover spent so long looking nervously up to see if the dark clouds overhead had in anyway thickened or ‘turned lively’, that he tripped over his own hooves.
The rest of the half was spent scrambling the ball between green players and pink players until the final grains of sand in the hourglass ran down.
By the start of the second half, both sides were down two players – the Blushing Doxy in fact requiring urgent help from the apothecary to set her smashed limbs – and still the minotaur Ermintrude Gayhammer was unconscious.
The orcs wasted little time in starting their sluggish yet relentless advance. Now it was time for the Horrors to form an impassable wall of their own. Wave after wave of charges crashed against the Pink Ones, but – many times only by sheer fortune – the man-goats managed to fend off each attack. Time ground on and the Trashers pushed closer and closer to the endzone. Finally, in the dying seconds, the ball was slipped to the Lawn Ranger who made a final dash for glory. The Silent Blade reacted instantly, darting away from several opponents, barrelling towards the orc Blitzer.
With a deafening clash, goat struck orc and the ball was sent spiralling into the air beyond the reach of either player. Before anyone could scramble their way down to scoop it up, the referee blasted his whistle and signalled the end of the game.
Both teams trudged back to their dugouts, heads hung, knowing that they should have won the game but silently thanking Nuffle, sure in the knowledge that they were both damned lucky not to lose it.
Coach Lysenko looked across to the wizard, but he was gone. It just went to show, sometimes you could earn your money by doing absolutely nothing at all...
The Horrors filed down the slick, mossy, stone steps which led into the crypt, each of them nervously looking back over their shoulders as they left the moonlight behind them and descended into darkness...
The team’s caravan of lurid chariots had ground to a halt outside the rusted gates of the graveyard and it was the Blushing Doxy who was the first to ask what everyone else was thinking:
‘Um... Are you sure this is the right place?’
The Nav-Mancer looked up from his scrolls and potions and fixed his eyeless sockets upon her.
‘You have weached your deathstination,’ he lisped.
‘It’s just that –‘ she began to protest.
The Nav-Mancer’s cave-like eyes erupted a gout of blue flame, and lightning crackled between the matted strands of his greasy beard.
‘YOU HAVE WEACHED YOUR DEATHSTINATION,’ he bellowed and everyone had seemed to agree that this signalled a fairly definite end to the discussion.
Coach Lysenko leapt down from the lead chariot, gesturing towards the crazed wizard with the flaming eyes. ‘We’d better put him out of sight, someone’s liable to nick him if we leave him on display...’
The Blushing Doxy nodded and threw a blanket over him.
They passed through the crumbling iron gates and headed up the stony path, lined on either side by its ancient gravestones and broken monuments.
‘Not much of a stadium...’ spat the Spry Butcher, looking around.
But beneath their feet, there was a sight to be beheld indeed!
The tomb door rumbled shut behind them, drowning them in the silent and seemingly endless dark of the crypt. But as they descended deeper and deeper and their eyes became more accustomed to the blackness, a faint orange glow could be seen in the bowels of the earth, down to which this endless staircase seemed to lead them.
Voices too drifted up from the deep now, thundering chants growing louder and closer until the roar was deafening and the blaze of flaming braziers burned their eyes. The stair ended and the damp, glistening stone tunnel opened out onto a vast cavern, a hundred feet tall, carved out to form the most beautiful Blood Bowl arena that the team had ever seen.
Vast chiselled tapestries spanned the walls, images of Death in all its guises throughout the history of the Old World; swathes of humans, falling at His feet, their faces bulbous with the Pox; elves and dwarfs cleaved asunder by their own petty wars; rat-men, silently squealing as their kin devoured them alive... Every inch of wall not decorated so was hung with bloodied cadavers, their faces locked in wails of despair. And all the while, as the Horrors gazed about them in wonder and admiration, the crowd of un-dead, living-dead, re-animated-dead, nearly dead and simply... well, dead, groaned in excitement and anticipation.
The Grenzstadt Gravediggers stood waiting...
It was the Pink Horrors who had won the toss and they elected to receive the kick-off, hoping that they might gain some advantage by keeping the ball from their undead opponents long enough for bits to begin dropping off the zombies. When the Gravediggers lined up their defence though, the Pink Ones realized from the sight of not one but two eight-foot tall mummies on the front line that the zombies would be the least of their worries.
Using the relative slowness of the Gravediggers to their advantage, the Horrors grabbed the ball as soon as they could and caged their way towards their opponent’s line. The huddle of goats had an advantage in that it would take the undead players some time to reach them, by which time they could hopefully break through the shambling horde and make a mad dash for the endzone.
As the zombies and wights slowly approached, all of the real action (as far as the fans were concerned) took place on the centre line as Chaos warriors and mummies spent the first half smashing each other into oblivion, a tactic which ended badly for the Spry Butcher, who spent the second half of the match nursing a sprained skull...
The tide of violence had started to turn against the Horrors by the middle of the half, having two man-goats out cold as well as an injured Chaos warrior, and so the Horrors decided it was high time they made their run for it. The Drowned Lover burst from the cage and the zombie in front of him could do nothing as he pushed it to the ground, tearing his way down the pitch. It was a comfortable touchdown for him, knowing that there was not a player on the undead team who could match his speed.
The second half started in much the same way as the first, though both teams by this time were down one player. The mummies and the Chaos warriors pummelled away at each other as the Gravediggers’ gouls took the ball at the kick-off and steeled themselves ready for their attempt to equalise. It was a fine start to their offence as their mummies and wights managed to floor a swathe of man-goats, leaving a gaping hole in the Pink Ones’ defensive line.
The undead wight, Silver, was left with the perfect opportunity to equalise as the ball was thrown to him. He caught it skilfully and made a break for the endzone. In a bizarre mirror of the previous half, he had managed to position himself so that none of the Horrors would be able to reach him in time to stop him scoring without anything less than an elvish display of agility. Sadly for the Gravediggers, with a cry of ‘Hi-ho Silver!!’ the wight succumbed to a fit of blood-lust and instead ran straight for a crowd of man-goats, intending to do some damage.
The tide sadly turned with his crazed foolhardiness and suddenly the Gravediggers found themselves without a man left standing apart from the ball-carrier. The Drowned Lover soon convinced him with a hefty smack in the face that he should have a little sit down and so, to a chorus of groans from the festering Grenzstadt fans, the man-goat soon to be nicknamed ‘the Cloven Elf’, danced home to yet another touchdown.
The final whistle blew and the Horrors were elated with their victory against a fine opponent, though they were not so happy when they reached their chariots only to see their Nav-Mancer disappearing over the horizon, carried on the shoulders of a crowd of hoodie-wearing gouls...
The image of the pyres was still burned into the back of his eyes and he could see them as clearly as if he were there again, blazing against the impenetrable blackness of the night sky. Palls of smoke had filled the air and his blackened lungs could even now barely draw breath. In quiet moments his ears still rang with the screams of dwarfs, elves and men, piled sometimes eight or ten high, burning alive.
The Dhawii Zharr Rockets certainly knew how to celebrate a victory.
It was the night after the Pink Horrors’ final game of the season, the night after they had been denied a place in the league play-offs, the night that Coach Lysenko was being dragged to see the thing in the Skin Tent for the very last time...
The man-goat pulling him along suddenly hoisted him off the sodden ground by his chains and threw him through the heavy flaps of the tent. He shuddered, knowing that every inch of that tent’s material had once been the skin of one of his predecessors. Now it was nothing more than tanned hide, sewn roughly together by the hands of who-knew-what.
On reflection, the coach didn't think he’d done too badly this season. After all, his team had only lost three games out of ten. But sadly for Coach Lysenko, he thought to himself as he landed face-first before the broiling fire, whatever thing which dwelled beneath the heavy, mouldering robes opposite him didn't take stock in numbers and statistics. He, as he was named, reckoned in blood and offal and things which no mortal could count without going mad.
And, imagined the coach, He would not be happy.
The Horrors had been thrown from the outset. Looking at their opponents lined up at the start of the match, the Dhawii Zharr Rockets seemed like little more than huge beards in tall hats, carried awkwardly on stumpy legs. What they sadly found once the fists started flying was that the Chaos Dwarfs were tough. Really tough. In the end, it was only the Oozing Gash who managed to use his Warrior’s strength to garrotte one of their hairy rivals with his escaping innards. It wasn't long before Ermintrude the minotaur was knocked out cold and had decided, on reflection, that even he was out of his depth and perhaps he should spend the rest of the game recuperating.
Despite receiving the ball in the first half, no matter how hard the Horrors tried, they simply could not get it down the field. It was a long and slow grind through the centre of the dwarf line, ending in dispossession and a sigh of relief at half-time that the Rockets hadn't managed to sneak ahead before the break.
The Horrors were two players down at the start of the second half, facing a nigh-unstoppable team. They couldn't help feeling that this was exactly the situation that the term ‘damage control’ was invented for. The Chaos team put up a good job of defending, but in the end couldn't stop Centaur Moomin Papa from smashing through their line and scoring.
Even as the Cloven Elf, the Horrors’ star man-goat, prepared to snatch up the ball after the resulting kick-off, Coach Lysenko could see the ref checking his hourglass and putting the whistle to his lips.
Coach Lysenko’s time was up; the match and the League were over.
And now, here he sat, staring upwards, watching billows of thick smoke escaping through the smoke-hole of a tent made out of hewn skin; a tent of which his own skin would soon be a part of. Indeed, he had to admit, Blood Bowl could be a funny old game.
The man-shaped shroud of robes behind the dancing flames shifted, grew taller.
‘YOU. HAVE. FAILED.’
The coach thought about speaking, but before the words had even reached his lips, a clawed fingers appeared from beneath the robes and pressed itself where Lysenko could only imagine the creature’s mouth to be.
The coach’s lips snapped tightly shut and he looked up to the hole in the roof, imagining his own dismembered face staring down.
‘YOU HAVE ANGERED GODS. ALL OF THEM. THAT NOT EASY, EVEN FOR BILLY-PLUMB TICKLER LIKE YOU.’
Lysenko didn’t dare speak. He just whimpered instead.
‘VERY DISAPPOINTING.’ Was he..? Yes, He seemed to be slowly shaking his head. ‘I AFRAID... WE...’
Here it comes, the coach thought. A sad end to a mediocre coaching career.
‘WE... GOING TO HAVE TO FIRE YOU.’
Finally, Lysenko broke his silence. ‘But wait! Wait! Hang on, you don’t – What?’
‘WE MUST FIRE YOU.’
‘Fire me? Is that all?’ Lysenko laughed. ‘Fire me! Phew! I thought for a minute there, you know –‘
The coach pointed up at the smoke-hole. ‘I thought you were going to stick me up there!’
The creature He laughed. It was a rare and uncomfortable sound.
‘YOU? NO! ONLY BEST COACHES ADORN MY MAGNIFICENT TENT!’
‘Really? Oh, well, glad to disappoint you then I suppose...’ Lysenko clambered to his feet, which was tricky, chained as he was. ‘I’ll just be off then...’
The coach hopped about-face, trying not to trip over his ankle chains only to find himself face-to-face with the Oozing Gash. Lysenko tried to conceal his shock with a surprised grin.
‘WHERE YOU GOING, ‘COACH’?’ sneered He.
Lysenko turned around to see, for the very first time, the thing in the Skin Tent standing – or at least as best it could in the confines of the tent. Despite being hunched forwards as it was forced to be, the (former) coach could tell that the creature beneath the robes must have been twice the size of a man, if not more.
Lysenko’s heart began to race. Something felt very wrong.
‘But I thought...’ he pleaded.
‘GASH. FIRE HIM.’
The Warrior was faster than he looked. Before Lysenko knew it, Gash had looped a length of his fetid intestines around the coach’s neck and had pulled it tight. Lysenko gasped for breath, clawing at the slippery entrails that were throttling him. A huge, meaty fist grasped his hair and the Warrior pushed down hard. Lysenko’s legs buckled under the force and he found his face just inches from the dancing blue flames of the fire.
He knew it would be useless to struggle, but then what else was there to do? He tried to grab Gash’s hands, to claw at his very flesh if he had to, but dripping as they were with the pus from countless weeping sores, his own feeble grip just slid away from them.
All the while, he was being inched closer and closer to the searing coals, He’s laughter ringing in his ears as his cheek began to blister and crack. The coach could do nothing but cry out in pain and hope that the end would come quickly...
But as with most things this season, the end didn't come quite how he expected.
The draw was made in a clearing of torched woodland, overseen only by the Adjudicator and a thousand blackened tree carcases.
And the naked, screaming elf maid.
There was always one of those at these sorts of things.
The Adjudicator could feel the sweat running down his back and his bony fingers were slick with it as well. It wasn’t the fact that those same fingers were about to delve into the slit belly of the struggling elf as she lay pegged to the floor by her wrists and ankles that was causing him to sweat. Oh no, it was more the featureless iron facemask behind which the Adjudicator felt his head was beginning to bake.
These Chaos gods didn’t half love their ceremonies, what with all their masks and robes and burning braziers, and they were always so bloody hot. Just nailing down a human sacrifice or decapitating a copulating goat could really take it out of you. No wonder every bit of him was dripping with sweat.
Still, the rewards were good (the naked, screaming elf maids for a start).
The modest leather sack gave a sickly squelch as the Adjudicator slipped it from beneath his robes.
‘Now, now. Shhhh...’ he whispered to the she-elf, before shaking out the contents of the bag into her rent navel. ‘Just give these a good mix...’ His tone was airy, completely at odds with the task ahead.
He plunged his hand into her warm gut, swirling it around amongst her organs. Her screams made his ears ring, but they probably wouldn’t last – his entry-level Necromancy wasn’t really up to much and wouldn’t be able to sustain her life for too much longer. Just long enough to get the job done.
The Adjudicator’s fingers found one of the foreign objects which had been stirred into the gut soup. He plucked it out and held it up to the moonlight. It was roughly the size and shape of a he-elf’s testicle, probably because that’s what it was. It had been branded with a name, and that name still burned in white-hot flames.
‘The Lashor Devastation...’ he mused as read out the inscription, before casting the elf-nut over his shoulder.
He delved once more into the elf’s belly, plucking out another testicle.
‘I think this one was your dad’s,’ he noted to the still-writhing maiden. She made no sign that she’d understood so he shook his head and read ‘Khorne’s Killers.’
The air was split by a crack of thunder. The gods had understood.
The Adjudicator snorted to himself. The Chaos gods certainly had a flair for the dramatic and couldn’t ever let a cliché slip by unnoticed.
He cast aside the testicle and pulled out the next. ‘The Slaves to Pleasure...’ he intoned. ‘Versus...’
He was reaching deep into the elf for the final time when a shadow fell across his facemask.
He looked up at the figure standing over him. ‘Who the hell are you?’
Coach Lysenko stared out across the pitch, absently rubbing the blisters on his scorched cheek. He’d probably have the scars for the rest of his life, but the way the league was running, that might not be very long at all.
He still had nightmares about being barbecued alive and he could only thank the gods that Filthy Agnes - the team’s new cheerleader - had burst into the Skin Tent only seconds before the coach’s hair had caught fire.
‘Wait!’ she had cried, brandishing a tattered scroll.
Everything had stopped (except the burning sensation). The Oozing Gash and He glared at the cheerleader, silenced. Coach Lysenko on the other hand had barely noticed her presence, his attention being more appropriately drawn to the searing coals towards which his head was being inexorably pressed by the meaty grip of the Chaos warrior.
‘It’s from the Chaos Cup!!!’ she squealed. ‘ We’re in the last four!’
The Oozing Gash threw up his hands in excitement, but his low murmur of ‘Yay!’ was muffled by his bronze faceplate. Lysenko was dropped straight onto the flames but, free of his executioner, managed to roll, screaming, to safety.
The Oozing Gash pulled him to his feet.
‘THE... CHAOS... CUP...?’ Even He’s guttural tone betrayed the hint of the excitement which had begun to broil beneath his mouldering robes.
‘What we do now, boss?’ asked the warrior.
The Oozing Gash was looking at his head coach, and not the thing beneath the robes.
The coach didn’t have any choice. They played.
The semi-final against the Slaves to Pleasure had been too close for comfort. When they had met in the league, their match had been a hard-fought draw, though one that the Pink Horrors had all but thrown away. This time, though, they had been prepared.
The Horrors had, after extensive training, become inured to the effects of the Slaves’ seductive wiles – helped mainly by the iron spikes which had been sewn onto the inside of their loin cloths.
The match was so closely run that both coaches had spent half of the game planning for extra time. Luckily for the Horrors however, their star man-goat ‘the Cloven Elf’ had managed to sneak in the winning touchdown as the second half reached its final few minutes. After a tense and scrappy defence which relied more on the Slaves making errors than on the Horrors successfully stopping their drive, the final whistle blew and the Pink Horrors had not so much sailed into the last game as merely weathered the storm and struck land there by accident.
And here they were. The Chaos Cup final.
Maybe a victory here would make up for the Horrors’ lacklustre performance in the league and -crucially – save Coach Lysenko’s skin. But then maybe it was too late for that.
‘Pretty lucky, getting drawn for the Chaos Cup,’ Filthy Agnes whispered to him as they watched the teams file out onto the pitch. ‘Someone up there must like you.’
The head coach’s blistered face still felt like it was on fire.
‘Oh, I very much doubt it,’ he replied.
He followed the cheerleader’s gaze to the Regal Box, though what lords or kings could dwell there he knew not. Perched high in the walls of the stadium, a broiling fissure in the skin of the world, it was shrouded by palls of smoke which glowed at their heart with the light of unseen flames. The wails and cries from within almost drowned the roars and jeers of the exuberant crowds below, and every now and then a monstrous tentacle or flashing talon would strike out from within this unknown hell to snatch more victims from their number.
After both teams had finished squaring off against each other and the occasional fight had been broken up, the referee’s whistle echoed across the pitch and the coach quickly turned his eyes to the game. The Horrors had opted to receive the ball and, as soon as ‘the Cloven Elf’ had scooped it up into his many arms, the rest of the team quickly swarmed to him. All except for the minotaur, that is. Ermintrude Gayhammer had geared himself up to slaughter Viper, his opposite number on the Killers’ team, but soon got distracted by the smell of his own anus and spent most of the first half investigating it further.
Such a large gap in the Horrors’ defences left them painfully unguarded and the Killers couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hit them where it hurt. Several of the Pink Ones were knocked off-balance by a unified assault from their opponents and then, from nowhere, came a blur of fur and horns which smashed into ‘the Cloven Elf’ and launched him skywards and sent the ball into the waiting arms of one of the Killers’ man-goats. After that, the Horrors were forced to switch to a desperate defensive stance, trying to keep a touchdown at bay – but try as they did, they could not stop the Killers from scoring as the half-time whistle blew.
This was not looking good. The teams sloped off the pitch and Lysenko followed them, wringing his hands in frustration. Across the pitch, the masked face of the Adjudicator was watching the Head Coach intently...
As the second half began, the Horrors knew that all advantage lay with the Killers, who were now receiving the ball. Throughout the season, they couldn’t help feeling that they’d started to let trying to score touchdowns get in the way of simply slaughtering their opponents. Had their instinct for butchery been dulled in all of this mess of tactics and ‘sport’?
In answer to their worries, the Horrors had decided to ramp up their aggression. As soon at the whistle blew for the second half, they surged forwards, fists flying. Sadly, their blows all but bounced off the Killers and the half began in earnest with barely a scratch on their opponents. Even the minotaur failed to make any dent in their front line.
So with that, it was back to the tactics.
The Killers grabbed the ball and surged forwards, being careful to avoid the nigh-impotent Ermintrude who was still a bit shaky from a blow which led to him having to be resuscitated by the team’s apothecary in the first half. However, the Killers’ lust to score became their undoing as the ball carrier rushed forwards unaided and left himself open to a counter-attack. He was swiftly de-balled in every sense by ‘the Silent Blade’. The pink half of the crowd cheered as the ball fell to ‘the Cloven Elf’ who managed to lob it down the pitch into the eagerly-waiting hands of ‘the Betrayed Bride’ who was completely unmarked. The man-goat managed to trot to a glorious equaliser and the Horrors were still in the game.
Time was slipping away fast. By the time the Horrors had pelted the ball back down the field to the Killers, the second half had almost gone. The Killers responded to the Horrors’ equaliser with fierce enthusiasm, landing a hail of blows against their opponents. Half of the Pink Ones were lying flat out on the pitch – or worse – as the Killers sailed through their lines with the ball. One consolation was the timely slaughter of their minotaur, Viper, which gave the Horrors new hope.
But by the time they had regained their hooves, they could but watch as one of Khorne’s blood-soaked man-goats charged for the line. None of the Horrors could reach him, and they knew it. All they could do, like the crowd, was watch the Killers’ victory unfold. For a moment – just a moment – their hearts pounded and their hopes were rekindled as the Killer slipped, losing his footing on the blood-soaked pitch. The ball almost escaped him, but his scrambling hands managed to clutch it tight to his chest as his flailing feet found stable ground once more. The man-goat brayed triumphantly as he crossed into the endzone.
The blackened sky was sundered by lightning and the crowd’s roars exploded around the stadium as gallon upon gallon of crimson blood sprayed from the Regal Box, falling upon all like rain. Khorne’s Killers collapsed to their knees, punching the air in victory, their gaping jaws drinking the bounty which fell from the sky. The Horrors hobbled silently from the pitch, their heads bowed.
‘Well, that’s that, then,’ Coach Lysenko sighed.
Lysenko wasn’t shocked to note that He had suddenly appeared beside him. As the blood rain fell, soaking him to the skin, and human sacrifices were being butchered in their scores throughout the stadium, it really did feel quite inevitable.
‘Um... There’s always next year...?’ the coach ventured.
‘NOT... FOR... YOU.’ It stretched out a clawed hand, quick as a striking snake, which closed around the coach’s throat. Lysenko choked and struggled to free himself, but the grip was immoveable. Slowly, his angry and dejected players gathered around to watch. His death, it seemed, would be some consolation to them.
Blinding white fire burst up from the palm of He’s left hand, crackling and spitting as the blood-rain fell upon it. Lysenko could feel its heat as it approached his face and his already-burned cheek began to sting as it drew nearer. A murmur of excitement grew from the eagerly-watching Horrors players.
‘TIME... TO... DIE...’
Lysenko closed his eyes, bowing to the inevitable, waiting for the –
Salvation came out of nowhere as the Adjudicator shoulder-barged He, knocking him to the ground. Lysenko staggered back, gasping for breath.
The coach could barely speak, and didn’t bother wasting what were probably his last breaths by asking what the hell was going on. He’d given up wondering that about two seasons ago.
In an instant, He was back to what were presumably, beneath the robes, his feet. The creature drew itself to its full height and was standing eye-to-iron-mask with the Adjudicator.
The Adjudicator didn’t cower away, which was something quite new to He. In fact, the madman in the iron mask actually leaned closer and said:
‘Listen, love, if you don’t bugger off I’ll shove my kitchen set so far up yer jacksy that yer’ll be chewin’ on my pan-handle for a year.’
‘WHAT???’ Over countless millennia and wars which spanned longer than the feuds of gods, no-one had ever dared speak to He like that.
‘Oh, sod it!’ The Adjudicator reached into his robes and – to everyone’s surprise - drew out a heavy iron skillet. The pan moved with such astounding speed that those watching could barely follow it as it arced through the air, cracking down onto what could well have been He’s skull. The thing in the robes dropped straight to the ground so fast that the Head Coach assumed that indeed it was.
PONK! In years to come, it was a sound that Coach Lysenko would recall with immense fondness.
PONK! PONK! Ah! It was like the first rays of sunlight after the longest and blackest of nights!
PONK! PONK! PONK!
Coach Lysenko’s tormentor barely moved, aside from the occasional twitch of its fingers, as the dented skillet rained down blows upon him.
PONK! PONK! PONK! CRACK!
He spasmed violently and then suddenly fell still.
THUCK! THUCK! THUCK! THUCK!
‘I think he’s dead,’ said the Head Coach, in response to the tar-like black fluid which was oozing freely out of every fibre of the creature’s robes.
‘Phew! Knackered now!’ The Adjudicator threw the buckled skillet to the ground. ‘Anyone fancy a pint?’
The Adjudicator threw of his robes and suddenly then entire stadium fell still.
It was Filthy Agnes who broke the silence with her scream. ‘A DWAAAAAARF!!!’
‘ON STILTS?!’ yelled the Spry Butcher.
‘WITH THE BIGGEST BREASTS I’VE EVER SEEN!’ Lysenko blurted out.
Everyone was looking at him. ‘Sorry,’ he shrugged.
‘I’m lookin’ fer a coach,’ announced the dwarf, hopping to the ground. ‘You’ll do,’ she nodded to Lysenko.
‘Me? Oh, no. I’m through with Blood Bowl,’ he explained.
‘Looks like yer through with a lot o’ things.’ A circle of frothing Chaos minions had begun to close around them and was drawing in on them like a noose.
‘Well, what about him?’ Lysenko pointed to the Killers coach who was by now dancing naked around the pitch, drinking blood-rain from the Chaos Cup trophy.
‘Him? Yer joking, aren’t yer? I can’t afford ‘im. He’s actually good.’
By now, the dwarf and the human were surrounded by a phalanx of frothing beasts and daemons as the whole stadium slowly descended upon them.
‘Look, thanks and all that, but I don’t think we’re actually getting out of this stadium...’
‘Leave that ter me,’ she bellowed over the slavering din. ‘Are yer in or not?’
Coach Lysenko looked at the carnage around him and, for the second time in his career, knew that he didn’t really have a choice.
He said nothing, just sighed and nodded.
‘Righto. Might be a good idea to discuss yer fee later...’ She picked up her gore-drenched skillet in one hand and threw the coach over her shoulder with the other.
She shouted something, but the coach didn’t quite catch it, his head, as it were, being upside down and buried ear-deep in cleavage.
‘WHA--?’ he mumbled into her chest.
‘I said “BETTER FIND SOMETHING TO HOLD ON TO!”’
Coach Lysenko’s mind boggled.
‘MHOO ELL ORR UUH?’ Who the hell are you? he asked.
‘Me, love? The name’s Brimstone. Belladonna Brimstone!’
What can I say? As always, it was an absolutely fantastic two-day event put on by the Chelmsford Bunker in Essex. This was the tournament's third year now and I'm proud to say I've managed to attend all of them.
The Saturday was a great day and lots of fun, despite my run of dreadful results.
The first game was played against my friend Tom and his Norse team, the dreaded Jagermonsters. The Pink Horrors, my Chaos team, had come up against these guys during the CBBBL V league and were absolutely torn apart by them. And this was no different! Although Tom failed to do as much damage casualty-wise this time, he still managed to pull off a 2-1 victory. It was close, but I was definitely beaten by a better player!
The second game was against an excellent coach, Rodders. He too had beaten me in the league with his Chaos Dwarf team, but this time he had decided to field Amazons. We were allowed to give our teams five skills for the duration of the tournament and I had chosen Block. Rodders had cunningly taken Guard across the board, making it extremely difficult to get a two-dice block against him! It was also pouring with rain for the whole match as well. Rodders scored a touchdown in the first half and I simply could not manage to pick up the ball to equalise, meaning a 1-0 loss!
The final game of Day One was against a Necromantic team. I had never played this particular coach and, as he too had lost both his games so far, I hoped that I might be in with a chance of victory. It was not to be, however. His werewolves had the run of the pitch, and despite managing to make two 5+ dodges, a 4+ dodge, two Go For Its and a successful block against the ball carrier with one of my Chaos Warriors, my luck just wasn't holding for the rest of the game and I lost 2-0.
Three defeats in a day was my worst ever Blood Bowl performance, so I could rest safe in the knowledge that Day Two could only get better!
And, being paired against three Stunty teams, it did!
The first match was a very entertaining fight with a Goblin team along with all of the Secret Weapons, bombs, chainsaws and Bribes that they could field. Luckily, I managed to smash my way through them with my superior strength and make it impossible for them to act effectively. Despite this, I still only managed a 1-0 win!
The second game started badly. It was against (with the exception of one Kroxigor) an all-Skink Lizardman team. Skinks are fast, anyone who plays Blood Bowl will know this. After receiving the kick-off, they managed to score almost immediately, despite one of the faithful Horrors fans Stunning the Krox with a thrown rock. I honestly though I wouldn't stand a chance here, so I decided to just kill as many Skinks as I could and hope for the best. Luckily, this tactic cleared the pitch enough for me to stroll home with a touchdown. And, as luck would have it, I managed to roll a Blitz! in the subsequent kick-off, allowing me to place a Beastman under the ball and successfully catch it. After that, it was merely a case of stalling the Skinks by smashing them into the floor until I could safely score the winner in the knowledge that there was no coming back for the scaly ones!
The last game was against my friend Erik. We have a long and bloody history of hard-fought draws and today was no different. Fielding two Treemen, including Deeproot Strongbranch, the Halfling team managed to relatively easily score their first touchdown. After that, a catalogue of errors (and the Masterchef staling my rerolls!), most involving failure to pick up the ball, prevented the Horrors from scoring. However, a second wind lifted them when we managed to kill Puggy Baconbreath who had been something of a thorn in our side. We still only managed to equalise in the last turn - the ball spent most of the second half sat between two seemingly-immoveable Treemen! Luckily for Erik, my fortunate draw didn't stop him from winning the Stunty Cup!
In the end, despite a severe lack of wins, we managed to finish in the top half of the table thanks to a huge number of Casualties scored against the Stunty teams.
Better yet, the Horrors managed to take home the Best Painted trophy - which for me is my third year running! Hurrah!
I just want to extend my thanks to all at the Chelmsford Bunker who helped to organise this excellent tournament, and to Mantic Games who supplied some great prizes (I got a metal Dreadball Refbot!!!).
Having just finished work on the first wave of Beastmen for the 'Pink Horrors' - the latest of myBlood Bowl teams - I thought that they'd make a great subject for this instalment of the Flare Blog.
Blood Bowl teams are probably my favourite of all things to paint - they're fantastically characterful and a great opportunity to relax and add humour and fun to your miniatures (quite frankly, anyone who takes their Blood Bowl team too seriously shouldn't be playing Blood Bowl!).
But who are the Pink Horrors?
Having spent the last few years playing a Wood Elf team, a team which relies on pace, agility, and not getting punched in the face(!) I decided that my next team should be something of a departure from this. Don't get me wrong, I love playing with the Green Glade Hackers, but as the word 'blood' is in the very name 'Blood Bowl', I thought it might be nice for this to refer to my opponent's team's, rather than my own...
So that's why I decided to go for a Chaos team, a team which is almost the exact opposite of the Wood Elves. They are slow and clumsy, but wow - they can be vicious! And with a bit of luck, they will smash, rip and tear their way up the Chelmsford Bunker's CBBBL V league later this year...
But of course, I need to get them painted first!
(And this is how I started...)
I began, as I begin most miniatures, with the metallics.
The main reason for this generally is that for a lot of metallic methods I will employ a great deal of washes and drybrushing to create various ageing effects and, as any painter will know, drybrushing can getvery messy!
For the Horrors however, I didn't use drybrushing as I wanted the metals to look a little more prestigious and new, but as the pigmentation in many of the metallics I use is so strong, I find it's much easier to fix errors if colour paints are accidentally slipped onto metal parts, rather than hiding metallic slips on colour paints.
I used the following method for the gold and silver:
2:1 Burnished Gold and Dwarf Bronze mix as a basecoat (gold areas only)
Chainmail basecoat (silver areas only)
Scorched Brown wash over all
Pure Ogryn Flesh wash
3:1 wash of Devlan Mud and Hawk Turquoise (silver areas only)
Re-apply basecoat on both silver and gold
Burnished Gold to highlight gold areas and shade the silver areas
Highlight gold with Chainmail and silver with Mithril Silver
Weather joints in metallics with Hawk Turquoise followed by Devlan Mud
The blackened skin was a much simpler affair. Being the largest area on the models, it seemed like the most logical place to start, and it consisted of nothing more than theChaos Black undercoat, blended up to Graveyard Earth.
Though the colours were simple, the skin was probably the most technically difficult part to paint because what I had to keep in mind throughout was that nothing should diminish the brightness of the pink, so I had to make the Graveyard Earth prominent enough to define the features while scarce enough to make the skin appear almost completely black.
On the test model, I originally made a bit of a mess of things, trying to add various blues and washes into the mix, but quickly realised that I was just over-complicating matters. In the end I was compelled to paint the skin Chaos Black once more and begin again, this time with the much simpler method!
The pink was the colour I most looked forward to doing as it was what would define the look of the team. On the players themselves, I kept the pinks solely to their furs, rather than anything else such as cloth or straps, etc. Too much would have been, well, too much.
I used the following method for the furs:
Basecoat Dwarf Flesh
Wash with Baal Red
Wash with Leviathan Purple (recesses only)
4:1 Dwarf Flesh and Red Gore mix for initial highlight
Dwarf Flesh as a further highlight
1:1 Dwarf Flesh and Bleached Bone as an extreme highlight
Finally, re-apply the Baal Red wash to add definition to the recesses where needed
Again, to keep the pink as the most eye-catching colour, I went for a very understated dirty-white for the cloth. I think it looks simple, but rather effective:
Firstly, basecoat with Graveyard Earth
Blend up to pure Kommando Khaki
Bleached Bone as an extreme edge highlight
Pure Devlan Mud washed into the recesses
Again, with simplicity in mind, all of the belts and cords and other embellishments were painted the same colour, but using a more basic three-colour technique of Graveyard Earth for the basecoat with a highlight of Kommando Khaki and an extreme highlight of Bleached Bone.
It is worth mentioning that, though a brilliant colour, the pigment in Graveyard Earth can be very weak and it is extremely important to apply several coats of this at the start to ensure a good solid base to work from - or else there is no chance of achieving a smooth, un-patchy blend.
The bone was painted using a tried and tested method which one of my favourite painters, Anja Wettergren, used in a tutorial for painting the Crux Terinatus of a Blood Angels Terminator.
I 'borrowed' this once for a miniature I was working on and completely fell in love with the method and tend to use it on most miniatures somewhere. It is worth noting that it's stated purpose is to give the effect of ancient stone, but I find it substitutes for bone just as well!
1:1 Scorched Brown / Codex Grey basecoat
1:1:1 Scorched Brown / Chaos Black / Badab Black wash
Codex Grey on all but the recesses
Highlight with Fortress Grey
Highlight with Dheneb Stone
2:1 Dheneb Stone and Skull White
1:1 Dheneb Stone and Skull White
Extreme highlight with Skull White
Devlan Mud painted into the recesses
To give the team a 'darker' feel, I decided to use cobbled, resin, bases to give a 'dungeon-floor' effect to the players, rather than that of a bright and sunny grass pitch.
Though the effect looks quite complex on the bases, they are all painted with a series of drybrushes and washes:
1:1 Codex Grey and Graveyard Earth base
1:1 Wash of Devlan Mud and Badab Black
1:1 Fortress Grey and Graveyard Earth
Drybrush Fortress Grey
Wash with Thrakka Green
Wash with Devlan Mud (with extra dabbed onto the centre of the stones while still wet)
Finally, the eyes were painted Skull White and washed Baal Red. After a white dot was added to the eyeball, Asurman Blue was washed around the eye area before pure Baal Red was re-applied to the eye itself.
The only think left to paint now were the few displays of dead flesh dotted around the team (mainly on the Re-Roll Counter, right).
The method I used was as follows:
1:1 Tallarn Flesh / Rotting Flesh
Thinned Baal Red wash
Thinned Leviathan Purple wash
The basecoat was then re-applied and blended up to pure Rotting Flesh
And extreme highlight of Skull White was added.
The blood was simply thinned Blood Red, followed by a 1:1 mix of Blood Red and Chaos Blackon the more concentrated areas, with a gloss varnish finally added to give that extra 'shine' once a protective matte varnish had been applied to the miniatures as a whole.
And that's those guys finished! Though with a Minotaur and some Chaos Warriors needed (and with four more Beastmen lined up for the bench...), I think I'll be back in the pink very soon...