Up and Under

A gripping tale from recognized writer of fiction, Ian H. McKinley, and award-winning artist, Meunier, in which elves, orcs, humans, dwarves, rodentiens and exotherms play football. Explore Guayamartí, the great city of the Hierarchs and home to the famous Eztadio Sanger, a stadium that has seen the greatest exploits in the history of sport. Follow the fortunes of an owner, a coach, and a player as they navigate the perilous world of “footy”.

Cassandra Thordwall, a pirate who wishes to leave her old life behind her and start a footy team, tracks down the infamous former coach Karsgaard Neuvil and proposes forming a new team, the Mytilan Militantes. What happens next will leave you longing for the next episode of Up and Under.

44: Is this a letter of resignation?

Umberto nodded. “That’s right. Grimmy Grimejacket told me the right words to say and put on that letter. ‘I   have   enjoyed   my   time   serving   as   your   bodyguard   and   I   thank   you   for   having   given   me   employment.   I   have   decided   I   need   to   head   in   a   new   direction   and   I   hereby   resign.’ So, that’s it Mistress Thordwall, I’m done.”

43: I don’t coach motivation

Jacyntha glanced at her sisters; it was clear they didn’t know what to make of Umberto’s declaration either. She breathed a sigh of relief; she had been worried she’d missed some special instruction he had given over the past fortnight when she had been forced to train in private at the grounds of Catherine de Bellême with the Elf Miranda Esquiv and the Orc, Agony Muerevarg.

42: Where’s my daughter!?

Cassandra Thordwall noted that Queen Beatriz, upon entering the Militantes’ dressing room, hadn’t directed the question at her, but instead, at the team physician, Huaco-chic’ya. That made sense; the doctor was a court physician on loan to the Militantes and thus Beatriz would have no doubts about where the woman’s loyalties lay. And, having treated Jacyntha after the referee had injured Beatriz’ daughter, the physician was best placed to know the answer.

41: The Uber-vermin’s got the ball!

Hansi would have burst Nykal’s eardrums had he yelled any louder. Alas, it was all-too true. For some unknown reason, after the Militantes received the kick-off after going down 1-0, they had gone and kicked it right back to the Skitteringi! But not before flooding the right flank. Instead of their notorious high, arching up-and-under kick, this had been an odd thing, thumped along the ground so it bounced in strange ways. It had hit a Militante in the butt and bounced right into the arms of the giant rat-thing, Gnashnash Flailtail.

40: The armband’s yours

Karolyse stood holding her hand out, offering up the captain’s armband, but Jacyntha shook her head. “Come on, ’Cyntha,” she said to her cousin. “Just because you couldn’t play last game doesn’t mean you’re not our leader.” “We need lots of leaders.” Jacyntha shook her head and put on one of those false smiles she’d been wearing since finding out about Coach Karsgaard’s death. Anahuark stepped forward and snatched the armband. “That’s all we need! A princess and a duxa’s daughter arguing about who gets to lead the unwashed masses.” She pulled the armband up around her left bicep.

39: Many were the martyrs

The vast majority of the congregation did not know the rite, so only Xonyxa voices sounded in the temple. Even so, Karolyse marvelled at how loud she and her compatriots sounded. There were more than just the Mytilan Militantes’ players; evidently much of the expatriate Xonyxa community in Guayamartí were in attendance as well as many fans who had arrived to attend the semi-final. The monks who ran the temple had opened the doors so that an overflow crowd could listen to the service from the street. Old friends of Coach Karsgaard were there, including Pierce Rosethorn and Dwarrig son of Dwarran. Other league officials attended, including most of the Board of Governors. Indeed, Eguardo Giamucci looked genuinely distraught, a knobby hand dabbing his eyes with a handkerchief. Although Coach Karsgaard’s service with the Imperials had led to his infamy, Duc Tancred de Baston was in attendance alongside a morose Anne d’Arc and a steadfast Stéphane de Bellefleure. Sam Gosling and the staff of the Luffing Lateen had crowded into a far corner. Even the Xonyxas’ new agent, the Goblin Grimmy Grimejacket, held his bicorne over his heart, his scabby grey-green head bowed in respect for the dead.

38: I’m no one’s property!

Jacyntha whispered the words to herself, she realized, to give herself the courage she needed as she studied the darkened wharf in Halos’ Foreigners’ Quarter. She had never imagined the turn of events that would occur after she had tied the slave galley up to that same wharf just three days prior. Port officials had reacted in shock. They had ordered her to stop unlocking the slaves’ shackles. She had ignored them and with every freed rower, the officials realized it would be harder to get the situation under control. One called for the Foreigners’ Quarter guards and threatened to hand everyone on-board over to the Dark Elf rulers. Another warned that these same rulers might order their troops to clean the quarter out, seizing the liberated slaves and maybe even enslaving every non-Dark Elf in the city. A third had called the other two savages and had come aboard to help Jacyntha unshackle the victims at the thwarts.

37: No one’s even rioting!

Nykal would have said his cousin Hansi sounded disappointed were it not for the general gloom that hung over the Eztadio de Sanger. Works like a dog on the wharves loading and unloading ships six days a week; he deserves better fun than this. But the crier shouting out the team lists triggered nothing like the reaction last time the Militantes played, when the crowd grew violent upon realizing the Imperials were fielding a weakened line-up.

36: Now you die!

Nytmir Curseweaver’s screech filled Umberto’s ears as he bounded up the stone staircase that curved around the outside of the cylindrical granary in the El Bosque Quarter. He hoped the Xonyxas were following him because he’d need help … if he made it on time. His heart was pounding in his chest, he was blowing hard, and his left hand ached from how tightly he held his dagger. He heard Neuvil yell, “Nytmir! Don’t do this!” Panic gripped him for the first time in many long years. He clenched his teeth and kept bounding up the steps three at a time.

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