A Green Duke Mystery Solved, Part 4: “For Every Winter There Is a Spring”
Below is part four, the final installment, of The Duqueswoodian’s “Investigative Series on the Final 4 Games of Duqueswood University’s NCBB Season 43.”
In this fourth recovered recap from the team’s last four games, we present incontrovertible evidence for why the university’s blood bowl program should continue:
Green Dukes Salvage Program With Shocking 2-1 Win Over Bro-hio State
The Duqueswood University Green Dukes
shocked the realm and gave their blood bowl program new life with a stunning come from behind 2-1 victory over the heavily favored Bro-hio State Buckeyes
in their final game of the NCBB Season 43. The Green Dukes got touchdowns from freshman catchers Gladryl Stormfoot (fae dance science) and Scootyr Spinleaf (undeclared), the younger brother of the recently deceased team captain, Milin Spinleaf (tree bark studies)
. Despite an early score from Buckeyes’ freshman receiver Carnell Tate, Duqueswood used a season-high 36 successful blocks leading to 8 combined casualties and KOs to physically dominate their wood-elf opponents and earn the comeback victory.
“All this time I’ve wondered why the teams we’ve played against took so much joy in killing and injuring my teammates,” said sophomore linewoman Zephyra Gettleaf (double major: Oakish, women's & arbor studies). “But now I get it. Bashing elves is just … fun.”
Gettleaf stands on the sidelines relishing the joy of finding someone else’s blood on her hands for a change
The game had more than its share of excitement and controversy before the opening kick-off, as recently fired Duqueswood Coach Gerric Smithson showed up for the match despite being barred from campus. Simthson’s dismissal came following the team’s fifth death last week, when Vice President of Student Safety Baerys Pondripple filed a motion with the university’s Board of Elders to end the program. The board then fired Smithson and ruled that the program would be disbanded unless the team won its final game (raising its shameful death-to-win ratio from 5-to-1 to an apparently acceptable 5-to-2). Pondripple, who said he would have the team simply lie down on the field to avoid injury, was named interim coach.
However, sophomore wardancer and newly named team captain Angorn Windfoot (undeclared) sparked a team revolt against this decision. “I would never shame my ancestors by lying upon the field and letting my opponent score,” he said. “But I knew if we were to win this game, we needed Coach Smithson. I know we’ve had our share of trouble and miscommunication, and many question his coaching skills, but I knew his game plan would at least be better than lying upon the grass.”
After receiving a message from Windfoot, Smithson showed up at the stadium, and that’s when the confusion and controversy broke out. “I didn’t even really know why I was supposed to come there,” Smithson explained. “The message was written in tree sap on a leaf and delivered by a sparrow. I could barely read a word of it, but I knew someone wanted me there.”
As Pondripple directed the Duqueswood University security guards to draw their swords and charge at Smithson, something remarkable happened. Every elf on the Green Dukes team rose from the bench, and ran down the sidelines to stand between the guards and Smithson. Grasping hands, they formed an elf-screen between their former coach and the swords and led the crowd in a rousing chant of “let him coach!” Rather than see a dozen of the university’s students butchered in front of a crowd of thousands, Pondripple waved the security team away, and allowed Smithson to take his place on the sidelines and coach the game.
“It matters little and less,” Pondripple was heard muttering as he stalked away. “After they lose this game—something Coach Smithson is quite good at doing—we will be rid of this barbaric sport for good.”
The Green Dukes team forms an elf-screen between Smithson and the university security guards
Bro-hio State started the scoring early in the first half on a dazzling pass from their fleet-footed and acrobatic senior catcher Lejond Cavazos to Tate after Duqueswood had the Buckeyes hemmed in along the northern sideline deep in their own territory. With three Green Dukes surrounding the loose ball, Duqueswood looked poised for a defensive touchdown when Cavazos dodged in, performing a back hand-spring to pick up the ball and a front flip to dodge away from tacklers before completing a perfectly aimed deep pass to Tate, who then dodged away from two tacklers for the score.
“For the last two seasons, I’ve heard our opponents using this prhase ‘elf B.S.’ whenever we scored,” said Coach Smithson after the game. “I never really knew what they meant. Now I do. Now I definitely do.”
Bro-hio State then looked to seize complete control of the game, executing a perfectly timed onside kick blitz, which ended with Tate catching the kick before any Duqueswood player could get near it. But Windfoot quickly charged from behind Tate and delivered a flying kick to the back of his head. Junior lineman Kioric Rainwalker (creative foliage) quickly scooped up the ball, and handed it forward to Stormfoot. With much of the Bro-hio State team committed forward for the onside kick, Stormfoot broke loose deep in Buckeye territory, and Duqueswood established a solid cage around the catcher allowing them to stall and make the tying score in the closing seconds of the half.
“That put us in a great position to go for the win in the second half,” said Coach Smithson. “But as you know, we’ve been in that position many times this season and still managed to lose. So I gave the fellas a different kind of second half game plan.”
Gathering in a huddle on the sidelines, Smithson was brutally honest with his players. “Look, this team is just better than us,” he said. “They’re faster. They’re more agile. Hell, that Cavazos fella looks like he can damn near fly. But I tell you what they don’t have on us. Rage. Anger. All season long, we’ve had our faces kicked in—by the other teams, by this damned university, by Pondripple. Well, today, you take all that anger you’re feeling, you take all that rage, and you don’t worry about winning, you go out there and you hurt somebody! You go out there and you bash the points right off their damn ears!”
Roused by their coach’s words, the Green Dukes played their most violent half in the program’s history. Midway through, they’d removed 5 Buckeye’s from the pitch. By the last minute, 7 were either KO’d, dead, or badly hurt. At the final whistle, only 2 Buckeyes were still standing.
“Me bash good today,” said Duqueswood treeman Oakward Weatherborn who had 6 successful blocks and 1 casualty on the day. Weatherborn definitely seemed to have some extra bite in his bark as the team was once again joined by star player Willow Rosebark, whom the treeman seems to have come to regard as more than just a teammate. “Must show Willow me root is strong.”
Weatherborn knocks Bro-hio State’s Tywone Malone out of the game with a crushing limb blow to the head, face, neck, and entire body, as Rosebark looks on with what appears to be budding admiration
Still, the Buckeye defense was relentless, led by Cavazos, whose freakish speed, agility, and strength enabled him to break into three Green Dukes cages and knock the ball loose from three different carriers. In the end, however, it was fitting that the last Green Duke to scoop up the loose ball in the closing seconds of the game was Spinleaf. As he stood just 15 yards from the endzone, and the clock ticked down the last second of the game, every fan in the Uther J. Rune-Elf Athletic Field Stadium was on their feet, and a single cry rang out: “For Mirlin!”
As if carried by that cry, the memory of his fallen brother, and his desperate wish to see his teammates play another season, an exhausted Spinleaf ran forward with tears streaming down his face and crossed the goal line just before the final whistle. Coach Smithson and the rest of the Duqueswood team charged into the endzone to join him, hoisting Spinleaf on their shoulders as the crowd rushed the field.
Scootyr Spinleaf honors the memory of his deceased brother by scoring the game-winning TD
“Naught can ever take the place of my brother,” Spinleaf said after the game. “And the only true way to honor his memory would be to capture the glimmering sunlight dancing on a leaf carried by a springtime stream and shape it into his likeness to dance in the morning sky. But, hey, I figure a game-winning touchdown is the next best thing.”
Following the game, the university held its official memorial service for Mirlin Spinleaf. The team gathered deep in the Duqueswood for the return-to-the-forest ceremony, which included a tree planting a top his burial mound. As the sun set in the distance, Weatherborn and Rosebark presented the sapling, which rumor has it they produced during their post-game “celebration.”
“They tell me treemen grow quickly,” said Coach Smithson during the service. “So, who knows? Maybe by the time Oakward here graduates we’ll need another treeman on the squad. And if the elf priests are right, and this sapling draws its nourishment from the body given to the forest today, maybe Duqueswood hasn’t seen the last of Mirlin Spinleaf.”
The Green Dukes gather for Mirlin Spinleaf’s return-to-the-forest ceremony
Later, however, when asked about his future with the program, given that the team won its final game and that Pondripple was trampled when the crowd rushed the field, Smithson was noncommittal. Instead, he chose to focus on what he’d learned from his team’s pregame display of loyalty.
“Who knows what the future holds,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of strange things in my time with this team. But the strangest of all may have been when they came to my aid before the game …” Choking up slightly, and clearly holding back tears, he finished, “Who would have thought it would take a bunch of elves and a friggin’ tree to teach me what it means to be a man.”
With the full account of Green Dukes’ final game now published, the university cannot deny that the team met the necessary conditions to continue the Duqueswood blood bowl program. Coach Smithson raised the team’s death-to-win ratio, and yet in the weeks following the match no announcements were made—neither of the future of the program nor of Coach Smithson’s reinstatement as coach.
Fortunately The Duqueswoodian has presented these facts, and the accounts in these recovered game reports to the university’s Board of Elders, and demanded a full explanation on the Green Dukes' future.
Shortly before this issue of The Duqueswoodian went to press, we received the following official response from the Board of Elders:
“Fine, we’ll reinstate the program. But let’s try to maybe have more wins than deaths next season.”