Discussion in 'Team Blogs' started by Werebat, Feb 25, 2019.
Spider snapped his gaze up from the crumpled paperwork sprawled across the crooked desk to glare at the intruder to his grubby little low-ceilinged office. His mismatched eyes - one red, the other a lambent green - were wide in surprise and irritation, but the harsh scowl on his face melted into an unctuous smile when he recognized the unmistakably swollen cranium of his visitor.
"Squid'ead, me boyo!" Spider's crook-fanged grin widened as he stood from his low chair and sauntered toward his guest with exaggerated enthusiasm. "It's been a long time!" He held out a scabby hand - the normal one, not the oversized monstrosity - and offered it to the goblin apothecary, who eyed it warily.
"Ah, come on, Squiggy!" cajoled Spider when it became apparent that the balloon-headed goblin wasn't going to shake hands. "You an' me go way back! Ain't no tricks 'twixt us, aye?"
"Aye?" piped a snotling who had been skulking about behind a dingy file cabinet. The pathetic little creature eyed Spider like a lapdog, cringing hopefully and wringing its hands. "Aye?" Squighead noticed that it sported tiny horns and a barbed tail, giving it an implike appearance.
"Shut yer face, Diptwit!" snapped Spider, instantly dropping the grin he had been wearing only to regain it just as instantly when he turned his face back to Squighead. Diptwit cowered and hid itself back behind the files.
"New snotling?" Squighead asked dryly.
"Old, more like," replied Spider. "Diptwit's been wit' me ever since Wyrmwood - wewl... YOU know."
"I do," said Squighead flatly. "Thanks for the warning about the Hagpox, by the way." The apothecary's hostile sarcasm was palpable - Spider had not, in fact, warned anyone.
"Ah, dat," said Spider apologetically. "Unnerstan', I didn' know 'zactly what da Bog Hag 'ad in mind..."
Squighead dismissed his erstwhile co-worker's statement with a wave of his hand. "It's no matter. I overheard her cackling with her sisters - she has two sisters, you know - right before they infected everyone. Heard just enough to know to take my chances getting out of there, or I'd have been on the pitch soon after. And dead by now, like as not. As it stands I'm the only one affiliated with the team who avoided infection - besides you, of course. And Zeem."
"An' 'ow IS ol' Zeem?" asked Spider, his eyes glittering. "You still in touch wit' da big rattie?"
"No," said Squighead. "No one is. He set out to freelance, and no one heard from him again. Some say the Bog Hag caught up with him and killed him for leaving the team."
Spider looked crestfallen and oddly worried for a moment before refocusing on his guest. "Ah, wewl," he said with strained joviality. "Da important fing is, yer 'ere."
"I didn't have much choice, did I?" challenged Squighead. "I ignored your first invitation because I have some sense. The second came after my laboratory burned down."
"Ah, unfortunate, dat," mused Spider. "It'd been a good business fer ya, if I unnerstan'. Ya gots my, ah, con-dolensez."
"Let me clarify," replied Squighead crossly. "I found the second invitation stabbed into one of the smoking beams that were all that was left of my lab, the day after it burned in a mysterious fire."
"Accidents do 'appen," said Spider, settling back into his chair with an unimpressive show of sympathetic innocence. "But da pas' be inna pas'. 'Ave a seat, Squiggie - we got bidniz ta discuss." He snapped the fingers of his gargantuan hand and Diptwit rushed over from behind the files, pushing a small chair into place for Squighead.
"Aye?" said Diptwit, bobbing its head to Squighead and motioning toward the chair. Its thin, barbed tail lashed nervously.
Squighead ignored the puny snotling and remained standing. "There is nothing to discuss," he told Spider. "My answer is no. And it will always be no, because your plan is going to get you and anyone who goes along with it killed."
Spider spread his hands to the apothecary. "Ah, Squiggy, it ain't gonna get nobody killed - wewl, no one who ain't on da pitch, anyways," he said with a wink. "What're ya worried 'bout?"
"The BOG HAG?" exclaimed Squighead with exasperated incredulity. "You think she's forgotten about you?"
"Ah, I'm ancient 'istory to 'er," asserted Spider, waving his good hand dismissively. "She's moved on ta udder t'ings, mos' like. You know she weren't even involved wit' what was left o' Wyrmwood o'er da las' few seasons? Los' in'rest, 'ats what dey says."
"You'll forgive my suspicions to the contrary," said Squighead coolly.
"An' dis be a woal different LEAGUE, Squiggy," pressed Spider. "Even if she cared, she wouldn' even notice - "
"You're naming the team after YOURSELF, Spider!" exploded Squighead, throwing his arms wide. "Are you daft? You might as well just march yourself into the Wyrmwood bog and turn yourself in!"
"Relax, Boyo! Da Bog Hag ain't gonna catch wind o' nuttin', an' even ef she DOES, I gots me own 'ag now, so we'll be safe, aye?"
"Aye?" squeaked Diptwit plaintively from beside the empty chair it had moved for Squighead, giving his master a questioning look. Spider wordlessly scowled and lobbed a paperweight at the snotling, who ducked and covered behind the files again.
When he turned to look back at Squighead, the big-headed goblin was giving him the same incredulous stare he had been before he threw the paperweight. "What?" Spider asked.
"You're working for ANOTHER hag?" Squighead spoke the words tightly, the tension in his swollen temples rising.
"No, no!" laughed Spider, who leaned forward and waggled his eyebrows. "I gots one workin' fer ME. She'll be joinin' da boyos on da pitch!"
"A *hag*," asked Squighead, although the words were equal parts question and disbelief.
"Wewl - not like da Bog Hag, no. She's more of a - witch. Elf."
Squighead goggled. "A witch elf? From Naggaroth?"
"Oh, yus - an' she's 'ard as nails, too. Signed up wit' a couple of 'er own boyos, an - "
"You can't do that, Swindlegrin. Have you totally lost your mind?"
"Why not?" asked Spider.
"Well for one, because the dark elves are murderous psychopaths who will slit your throat as soon as look at you, but also it's against regulation. They're not Underworld."
"Yeah, I wunnered dat meself, atter I learned dey don't actually live unnergroun'," Spider confessed. "Don't know why I figgered dey did. Musta read it somewheres. But it's no matter, see?"
"Ignoring for the moment the bit about them being murderous psychopaths, why is it not a problem?"
"Because dis 'ere league ain't got no rules an' whatnot!" laughed Spider. "Wewl - dere is SOME - but dey got rid o' so much rot, aye? An' bringin' some pointy eared Naggaroth dark elfies onna da pitch wif da boyos ain't no big fing, 'ere."
Squighead rubbed his head with the air of a goblin who had been drawn far deeper into a conversation than he had cared. "So you figure a witch elf can fend off the Bog Hag?" he asked dubiously.
"Ef she needs ta," nodded Spider. "An' she won't need ta."
Squighead began pacing the cramped little office. It meant he was thinking, Spider knew, and that was better than nothing. It meant he might be persuaded yet.
"No," Squighead shook his ponderous head as he stopped pacing. "Even if this plan of yours WEREN'T a poorly constructed deathtrap of a scheme, I have NO interest in wasting my talents brewing Toadbrew for you and another band of underworld - "
"Toadbrew?" interrupted Spider with a chuckle. "Ah, you got it all wrong, Squiggy. Wewl - I mean, Toadbrew, yes, but 'at's not da woal of it. No, I asked ye 'ere 'cause dis team be needin' an apoffecary."
Now Squighead's eyes widened. His mouth closed, then opened, then closed again. He wrinkled his vast brow, and his moment of indecision prompted Spider to reach under the desk and palm the secret weapon he had been planning to use on his old rival in his immense hand.
"Whyn't ya jus' stick aroun' a bit, meet da boyos, eh? We got some real dodgy gobbos and' some right bashy ratties. An' we got a cave troll..."
"And some backstabbing Naggaroth elves," said Squighead darkly.
Spider spread the palm of his smaller hand in an attempt to look reasuring. "Relax, Squiggy! Who AIN'T backstabbin? Da ratties?" he laughed at the idea.
"You've got me there," Squighead conceded reluctantly.
"Lookit, Boyo, ya know dat lab ya was workin' was a dead-end tunnel, aye? I'm offerin' ya a chance ta git back in da GAME, 'ere! As a real Blood Bowl apoffecary - like I allus figgered ya ta be. Ya know da Bog Hag made a mistake when she pulled ya off da roster. Which reminds me," said Spider as he leaned forward with a look of dark conspiracy. "I gots ya somethin' ta sweeten da pot, 'ere." He shook his huge clenched fist in the air and tossed something pale and roundish from it through the air towards Squighead. "Catch!"
Almost in a panic, the goblin apothecary caught the object, fearful as to what it might be. It was a skull - a goblin skull, by the look of it, and with needling fangs that were crooked in just such a way as to remind him of...
He stared in wonder at Spider. "Nosebender?" he asked.
"Aye," grinned Spider. "I figgered I owed ya somethin', aye? Uz bein' such good friends, an' all."
Squighead eyed the skull in his hands with some measure of satisfaction. Wirt Nosebender had replaced him as Wyrmwood's apothecary when the Bog Hag had stripped him of the position, thanks to one too many failed chirurgery attempts. He had wanted the rival goblin dead for years, and now here he was holding what was left of his head. Spider might be snotling-brained, but he'd pulled through on this, anyway. Despite himself, despite the fact that any goblin who calls another goblin "friend" invariably means them some future ill, he cracked a crooked smile across his vast face.
"Aye?" peeped Diptwit from the cover of the filing cabinet. "Aye?"
This was almost certainly a stupid idea, Squighead knew. But his lab was burned to the ground, and he had nothing else in particular to do - and even if Spider had been the cause of that, he HAD given him Nosebender's skull. What would it hurt to collect a Blood Bowl apothecary's salary for a season or two? He could always leave if things got hairy. And in the meantime, Spider would have to finance a new laboratory if he wanted him to keep his players alive...
"Aye," said the big-headed goblin, to Nosebender's skull as much as to Spider or Diptwit. "I'll meet your crew, and make my decision then."
"Atta boyo," crowed Spider, his face split in the swindliest grin he could make. "Trus' me - ya won't regret it!"
"I'm telling you, I could have fixed this if you'd have let me!" groused Squighead as he tended the moaning goblin, Fangly Batbite, who lay in traction after having his neck broken on the pitch by one of the human Fake Wings players. "If we'd had him on the pitch, we might have WON instead of just tying!"
"Wewl, yas kin fix 'em now, aye?" asked Spider. "We gots two weeks afore the nex' match..."
"Aye?" repeated Diptwit, peeping out from behind his leg. "Aye?"
Squighead turned to face his employer. "You know it's too late for chirurgery, Spider," he scowled, shaking his massive head. "Why'd you hold me back?"
"Jus' tryin' ta pertect me inves'ment," shrugged Spider as he brushed off his battered fedora - the only article of raiment left remaining of the suit Guido Girgenti had gifted him with years ago; the rest had long since rotted off of his filthy body. "The match were still young, an' you don't wanna KNOW 'ow much coin dat elf witch forced me ta part wit' ta git 'er ta sign on..."
"So you're turning into an elf lover, are you?" accused Squighead.
"Watch yerself dere," threatened Spider, his eyes glowing menacingly. "I ain't no elf lover, I'm a businessman, an' dis were strickly business. Ya seen what dem elfies were capable of onna pitch!"
"You never had to send me in to treat one o' THEM!" snarled Squighead, rising from Fangly's prone body. "My talents were WASTED that match, Spider! And now we're out a player for the next!"
Spider's eyes reached an intensity of light that was generally reserved for violence - but he choked it down and they dimmed. He needed the freak apothecary, even if only for the toadbrew. It irked him, but he'd need another tactic.
He spread his mismatched hands and tried to reason with the other goblin. "Squig'ead, me boyo," he cajoled. "Les' not fight, aye?"
"Aye?" piped Diptwit.
"SHADDUP!" snapped Spider, wheeling on the snotling and releasing some of his anger at Squighead with a swift kick to the little snotling. Diptwit yelped as it went flying across the room, crashing into an alembic stand.
"WATCH it!" shouted Squighead, rushing to the stand and stabilizing it before it crashed to the floor. "You want to wreck the toadbrew?"
Spider silently ground his teeth. Toadbrew. The OTHER reason he needed Squighead...
"Squig'ead, me boyo," he repeated. "I knows yer concerned wit' da boyos, an' I am too. Greenskin pride an' all dat. Don' worry! We both know who da true stars o' dis team be - da gobbos!"
"Then why didn't you let me treat this one before it was too late?"
"I done tole ya! Dem elfies made me pay through da nose fer dere contracks! An' now we gots 'em, I intend ta keeps 'em! Ya fink it'd be a good idear ta lose dat Wareyes witch? Ya knows who she be pertecktin' uz from..."
Squighead swallowed. The Bog Hag. The Dark Elf witch, Valeria Wareyes, was the Swindlegrinners' ace in the hole when it came to keeping the Bog Hag at bay - if she caught wind of their operation. He nodded slowly at Spider.
"All right, Swindlegrin," he said. "But don't be so stingy in letting me work my own magic." He nodded towards his bone saws.
"O' course," agreed Spider. "Now, as fer Fangly 'ere... Ya fink 'e might not make da night, eh? I'm a mite peckish meself..."
Squighead caught his meaning.
"Aye," he said, bobbing his head like a great buoy on the waves. He reached for one of his saws. The league would assign them a makeweight for the next match.
"Aye?" cringed Diptwit from the safety of some corner debris. "Aye!" The little snotling sidled closer and licked its lips. Sometimes, its master left scraps...
"Where-where Zeem Warpfire?" chittered Zeetch. "Spider-thing vow-say we have mighty-great Zeem as trainer! Find-bring Zeem here-now, quick-quick!" Chitchit Riprip and Lurk Slyce, both larger and darker than the thrower, bristled their whiskers in agitated assent, the lambent rheum of toadbrew flickering in their sharp, feral eyes.
Squighead closed his own eyes momentarily and pinched the bridge of his squashed nose in an effort to relieve the pressure in his head. Of course, Spider had never mentioned to HIM that he had promised these ratties tutelage under the amazing Zeem Warpfire, the best blitzer Wyrmwood had ever fielded. With phenomenal strength and agility coupled with the somewhat focused ability to set his arms ablaze with warpfire, the fans had celebrated Zeem as a double threat - half gutter runner, half rat ogre, they'd said. It was always a contest between whether he'd scored more touchdowns or inflicted more injuries - and with the exception of Gorbo the troll, he had killed more opposition players than anyone the team had ever fielded. He was truly a legendary blitzer.
And he had disappeared shortly before the Bog Hag had infected the rest of the team with hagpox in a sadistic effort to improve its standing. Squighead had heard he had intended to strike out on his own as a freebooter, hiring out his services on a match-by-match basis - but he'd never seen or heard of him having played in a game after he'd left Wyrmwood. He'd personally assumed that the Bog Hag had caught up with him and eaten him, or worse, out of spite for quitting her team.
"I don't know where Zeem is," he sighed. "I'll ask Spider, right after I finish interviewing you three." He'd ask him some other things, too - Swindlegrin had asked HIM if HE knew where Zeem was, and now it was painfully obvious why he'd been so keen to find out. And there were few things Squighead found more bothersome than trying to cover for another goblin's lies. Even when he was prepared to do it, it always complicated things - and Spider had sent him on this errand to interview the players without so much as a warning about his deceptions. Zog knew what had he'd told the others to entice THEM to sign on...
"Not ask-sniff! TELL-BITE!" shrieked Chitchit, his tail lashing impatiently.
"And get-send much-more toadbrew!" added Lurk. "Spider-thing write-mark in contract!"
"I... will tell Spider," agreed Squighead, wrinkling his own nose at the thick scent permeating the Skaven section of the clubhouse quarters. It had been dug out from the stone underneath the stadium - Swindlegrin Stadium. The apothecary almost rolled his eyes again at the thought of Spider naming the stadium as well as the team after himself. Things never went well for self-aggrandizing goblins. "Now, the interview?"
The three Skaven looked at each other. Zeetch chuffed. Chitchit sneezed. Lurk chattered something in thier weird, frantic language, and they all turned their beady eyes on the goblin freak.
"Ask-say your questions, Head-thing," said Zeetch. "We will tell-speak."
Squighead took out his notes and sat gingerly on the edge of one of the precarious nests of junk and debris the Skaven players had built for themselves.
"We have no use for that... toxin," said Valeria Wareyes, her words dripping with disdain as she regarded Squighead with naked contempt from atop the dark, thronelike chair she lounged in, the ornate back of which rose up above her lithe but curvy body and white mane of hair in a network of cruel looking barbs and spires. Her entire chamber, he noticed, was more lavishly furnished than that of any Blood Bowl player he'd ever known - which admittedly wasn't saying much, as he'd only ever worked with goblin and skaven players.
Despite being seated at the goblin apothecary's level on silken floor cushions, the two dark elven blitzers Vitrix Shadeheart and Elizear the Scarred looked up from massaging their mistress' feet to shoot him looks of mocking superiority - although it was easier to see with Vitrix Shadeheart than Elizear the Scarred, who wore a stylish cloth mask over the bottom half of his face.
The goblin apothecary hesitated, then placed the glowing bottle of toadbrew back in the case with the others he had wheeled in. He'd thought it odd that the dark elves' supply hadn't been picked up, and figured his delivering it would facilitate their portion of the team interviews Spider had tasked him with. The last thing he'd expected was that they wouldn't WANT it. Who didn't want toadbrew? No player HE'D ever worked with...
"So... you want me to take it back?" he asked the Druhir witch, still not believing that they were turning it down. The original recipe Pynch Toadbrew had developed was derived from dark elven absinthe, after all - he'd just assumed that Spider had offered them a steady supply of the highly addictive spirit as part of his sales pitch to recruit them for his team, just like he had everyone else.
"We have our own absinthe, if we feel the need, and courva as well. Give your goblin swill to the rats, if they'll have it - or your own kind. It matters not to us."
Squighead's eye twitched. These elves were an arrogant lot, but that was only to be expected, and their rejection of their allotment of toadbrew solved the problem of finding more for the skaven. Minus a few bottles for himself.
"As you wish," he said, closing the case. He took out his notes and gestured questioningly at an empty cushion on the floor. "If you don't mind, Spider asked me to get interviews from all of the players; trying to drum up support for the new team."
Valeria rolled her dark eyes and sighed in disgust. "Sit on the floor - if you must," she snubbed. "My cushions are from far Cathay, and I don't want you getting your filth all over them." She snapped her fingers at Elzear and shifted her supple form in her chair, reaching languidly for a sweet from a tray the masked blitzer proffered with haste. Vitrix smirked at the goblin before kissing the witch elf's foot.
Squighead scowled and remained standing. Despite the anger sparked in his chest, fanned by the throbbing pain of his headache, the little chirurgeon wasn't about to tell the witch elf what he thought of her attitude and her precious cushions - not while so outnumbered, anyway. instead he cleared his throat. "Very well," he went on. "This won't take long - only a few questions for you and your..." He shifted his gaze meaningfully to the blitzers on the floor and then back at Valeria, uncertain of exactly what the relationship between the three of them was.
Valeria smiled cruelly. "These two," she said, pointing at the blitzers with a sweep of one bare foot, "are kaelklath - the word does not translate well into your foul tongue. They are my lovers, and my slaves." She shifted her form again, accentuating the firm curves of her pale-skinned body.
Squighead nodded his ponderous head, scribbling in his notes. Valeria was right - greenskins had no word for "lover". "Slave," though - that they understood.
Separate names with a comma.