BEYOND THE MISTY GLADE
In this month’s feature article, VANITY FEY's own Elbereth the Scribe visits the Unseelie Varsity’s Blood Bowl star players as they bask in the glow of a successful season in the Bloodweiser Inter-Regional Blood Bowl League that has had the public practically falling into their palantir in excitement.
The portal opens on a beach on the West coast of our island. My sources told me that the Chancellor of Unseelie Varsity was a fierce negotiator, and had somehow persuaded fire and water elementals to cooperate to some mutual benefit. As I step forward and my feet sink in to the soft yellow sand, I see that this was no fib. Although it is the dead of Albion winter, a mild breeze comes off the waves, and the plants that grow here aren’t seen elsewhere on the island, making this the perfect place to escape the chill climate, as well as the crowded UV campus.
I had hoped to meet the Chancellor herself, and ask her about certain irregularities, most notably a missive from one of my sources that ARC (Arcane Research Council) funding had been diverted to creation of some sort of scrying facility which was devoted entirely to Blood Bowl, and not astronomical phenomena. I also noted some months ago that the BIBBL vault gnomes recorded an unexpected deficit last year, a certain amount of gold missing, and a small quantity of leaves and twigs sitting in its stead – such things seem to happen frequently in the world of sport, but I did find it curious that the missing sum was equivalent to Unseelie Varsity’s initial BIBBL registration fee.
However, I was informed the Chancellor was away on urgent business. I was expecting to be chaperoned by Billy The Nyx throughout my visit, but having opened the portal for me he promptly stepped straight back through it before it closed once more, citing some “important Yew-Vee business” of his own, and leaving me alone on the beach. No doubt an oversight somewhere…one that gave me unexpected and unfettered access to the team.
I hear wind chimes, and a short walk brings me to the glade where the team is taking their rest. A host of ancient trees, gnarled and contorted by decades being bent by the harsh winds from the ocean surround a deep pool, which is still and smooth enough to see the reflection of the waning moon above it.
Looking over, I see the Fata Disgleirio and Phlogiston engaged in some kind of competition involving drinking directly out of foxgloves. Other fey are chasing, laughing and playing dice around the pool, and a shadow looms in the corner; one of the domesticated Humans. It is not clear, as ever, if it is asleep or merely moving too slowly for me to remain interested. A surly-looking Zharr-Naggrundian chef tending a quietly-sizzling grill at the opposite side of the pool gives me a curt nod of acknowledgement.
I take a seat on a stone next to Yung Bae, exchange student from the Far East. He’s kept a low-profile on the team, despite being a member since its early days. In his home country he was a semi-famous bard, and he tells me he came to attend Unseelie Varsity while trying to break the Albion market, but was unsuccessful, his unique brand
of music failing to catch the attention of the locals. However, his small but loyal fanbase provided some of the Boggarts’ first fans, willing to see their idol perform on the pitch if not the stage. His performance on the pitch has been…low-key to say the least, and it is only in a recent friendly that he scored his first touchdown. “My agent told me to join the team. I really thought they wouldn’t take me, but in the beginning, there was no-one else willing to risk their lives so easily. It was this, or go back to be a slave for the wu-jen.”
In general, however, the Boggarts’ performance has been surprisingly robust this Autumn. Although the Summer’s Anarchy cup had not been kind to the Boggarts, they had won enough games to qualify for BIBBL’s Bronze Division the following season. However, they would be facing some formidable teams, and were starting with a number of players, notably the formidable Abbey Lubber
, absent. Nevertheless, the Boggarts showed surprising resilience, and managed to hold their opponents to an improbable series of draws
before ending the season in 4th place.
No small part of that feat were a number of daring plays by Fata Tegeirian
, who is making a name for us for felling ball carriers with daring chop blocks. I find her overseeing a training session with Aneurin outside a set of stables away from the beach; they watch as a small squad of tattooed giant Humans are turning some kind of heavy wooden wheel, their bare feet immersed to the ankles in thick, black mud. Tegeirian appears to be engaged in some spellcraft, and does not notice me.
I speak to Aneurin, who is one of the hulking campus wardens. He has few words, but more than I would expect from one of the tamed Humans. Human speech is slow, and I find myself using three sprites for the interview; one to record his current word, and one to replay the previously-recorded word at normal speed to the third, which adds that word to the end of the recording. By alternating the first and second sprites I am able to record each word as he speaks, but it takes nearly a whole three minutes, and my attention span is defeated by the end.
I ask what would possess Tegeirian to risk such plays, having seen the fragility of fey on the pitch, and he intimates a secret to me. He is ignorant of the details, but it seems an enchantment is maintained to protect the Boggarts the more risks they take. It sounds improbable, but I realise that pixie fatalities are highest amongst new recruits to the teams, and the older members seem to get away with going H.A.M.M. (Hard As a Mus Masculus
) on the pitch more than you would expect.
Following the retirement of Slumbering Dragons, the Boggarts were the only fey team participating in the twinned leagues, but that has changed with the arrival of Londinium’s Lunatics
and Beerbog Behemoths
. The Lunatics in particular have adopted radically different tactics to the Boggarts, presumably being a professional team – I reviewed their matches at the Cabalvision Rewind archives, and saw them not only employing traditional cages, but also allowing Humans to handle the ball, with some success. The Boggarts' view of Humans seems much more traditional, however, and I anticipate them continuing to shun such approaches.
The Boggarts now enter Spring, in which the twinned leagues play their regional tournaments. The Boggarts face strong competition from Human, Dwarf, and Fimir opponents, but have experience and speed on their side, and showed good form in the Winter friendlies against Monastery of the Burning Fist
and Globadiers of Skavenblight
As I was returning to the pool Billy the Nyx caught up with me to escort me back through the portal on the beach…and I have so many questions yet outstanding! I wanted to question Phlogiston about the recent rumours that he has been scandalously refusing to snort pixie dust, leading to his much-publicised bad-boy behaviour on the party circuit, seek the mysterious Abbey Lubber for myself, and find out whether the rumours about poor academic performance by the team players being overlooked as a matter of policy were true, but alas.
Never fear though readers – I have attuned a Ring of Cheshnakk to the location, and will return at a later date!