Season’s End: The Harbingers’ Last Stand

The glass lenses on the apothecary’s mask glinted in the sun as they rolled an unconscious Sir Bretonnian onto the litter. They applied a green, foul-smelling paste to the thrower’s bleeding torso.

“He’ll live.” The mask muffled their voice. Znut Mournmaul, Kritt Crowbasher, and Varisk Trollcleaver stood quietly over their fallen teammate.

“At least the heat’s let up,” the apothecary added. “I’ll take care of blondie, here. The rest of you try not to die. New contracts are expensive.” They began dragging the litter and its unconscious passenger back toward the dugout.

Varisk looked back over his shoulder at the line of scrimmage, where some of the Worsca were milling around. Several of them were prodding the yhetee to keep it in check.

“I’m not a betting rat, but I think our chances ain’t good. Three of us, and… well I was never any good at counting, but a lot more of them!”

“Great match so far,” Kritt said, wiping blood off one of his knuckle-dusters.

Znut grunted, his attention focused on the receding Sir Bretonnian. Sweat and blood dripped from his mask.

Varisk shook his head at the two Stormvermin. “You both have issues.”

The three Harbingers lined up, assembled against the full strength of the Worsca of Norsca. Varisk stared up at the tower of white fur and claws that was the yhetee and said a silent prayer to the Horned Rat. Just then, one of the goblin referees approached.

“Overtime’s done, players!” the goblin said. “Since the score’s tied at two to two, it’ll be down to a coinflip!” This didn’t draw happy looks from the humans across the line.

“Hell Pit Harbingers, since you have the fewest players remaining, the call will be yours!” The goblin waited for a moment and then tossed a brass coin into the air. It spun several feet above their heads.

Znut grabbed the referee’s arm and twisted hard. There was the sound of snapping bone, and a scream. Varisk’s eyes widened, but Kritt was already shouting at the Worsca. “Kick it, you bastards!”

The ball flew through the air, as the referee went to one knee, his coin falling forgotten on the pitch. “Double overtime!” he choked out.

Varisk shook his head, dodging the yhetee’s claws just in time as the ball landed somewhere behind him. He never thought he would miss Sir Bretonnian quite as much as he did now.

Rats in the Locker Room

The sound of crunching metal echoed through the Hell Pit Harbingers’ locker room as Qarsk Slategrip crashed into one of the steel lockers and left a sizable dent. Several hoots and cheers erupted from the rest of the Harbingers. Varisk Trollcleaver stood over Qarsk, a wicked grin curling on his muzzle.

“Stay down,” he sneered.

“Leave him alone,” one of the other players said. Varisk looked his way and laughed.

“And just what are you gonna do about it, Your Lordship?” He spat.

Sir Bretonnian—that’s what the other Skaven on the team called him ever since he came back from the surface a few years ago a changed rat, obsessed with ‘honour’ and ‘chivalry’—stared Varisk down.

“Attacking thine own teammate is a churlish thing to do. Thou art no better than a—”

“What? A rat? Well if you haven’t noticed, Sir, WE’RE ALL RATS HERE!”

“I will duel you, fiend!”

“Let it go, Bretonnian.” Qarsk spoke, slowly climbing to his feet. It was then that the Runt came over and kicked him square in the chest. But Qarsk held firm, pushing the Runt back and standing.

“You can take a lot, Qarsk. I like it.” Varisk looked around at the other players. “But he’s gonna have to take a lot more. We’re ALL gonna have to take a lot more than a few kicks. We’re playing the Worsca next. You know what that means? That means WOLVES!”

Even Sir Bretonnian looked cowed. Varisk seized the moment and continued on.

“That’s right! We’ve all heard about Quik the Unseen, that skinny bastard who can put our Gutter Runners through their paces! But you also know Bjorn the Bear! Man turns into a wolf, but they call him a bear! These humans can’t even name their animals right.

“But they’re big! And they’re strong! And they want to eat each and every last one of us! Well, we all know who eats them all in the end, right? THE RATS! And we’re gonna—”

Varisk’s eyes rolled back in his head as he fell forward with a thud. Standing behind him was Skurrskiq Frostweaver, the best Runner the Harbingers had. He smirked, waving the butt of the dagger he had used to knock Varisk out.

“Don’t know about the rest of you, but I was getting tired of hearing him.”

“He’s not wrong though.” Qarsk sighed.

“True,” Sir Bretonnian added ruefully. “Methinks the Apothecary will be working overtime…”