Welcome to Up and Under, the tale of a rookie team playing its first season of “footy” in the Sommer Sea Football League. You’ve missed a lot and you’ll find it both informative as well as entertaining to go back and read the earlier episodes. But in case you just want to dive right in, look over the who’s who listing below. Once you’ve done that, here’s what you need to know:
First, the easy bit! The rookie team, the Mytilan Militantes, have played 6 of their 8 games and have a record of 2 wins, 1 draw, and 3 losses. They’re in 6th place and need to get into at least 4th to make the play-offs. The Militantes now face the Mongrels, a team of Orcs and Goblins, in their first must-win match if they’re to keep their post-season hopes alive. Luckily, coach Karsgaard Neuvil and Umberto de la Calle bribed match officials to ensure a couple of the Mongrels’ top players received suspensions for the upcoming game.
Second, the Militantes are coming through a rough patch. In their last game against the Duskdaggers, a Dark Elf assassinated their captain, Ocllo. This horrible event shook their confidence and Neuvil forced the Xonyxas making up his team to undertake a hard reckoning about whether they were real footy players or mere dilettantes. The team’s natural leader, Jacyntha, inspired the players to rise up to Neuvil’s challenge, putting in a month of hard training to get themselves ready to face the Mongrels.
Third, there’s lots going on off-pitch! The killing of Ocllo was in clear contravention of the laws of the game and a violation of the treaty ensuring footy-playing nations don’t go to war against each other, the Pact. Mytilan used its navy to transport 22,000 troops to the Dark Elf city of Halos. Luckily for all, the league calmed things down enough by docking points off the Duskdaggers and not punishing the Militantes for allegedly kidnapping the owner of a rival team (more on that below) so that the troops become mere spectators and not invaders.
But that’s just the big picture stuff going on off-pitch! There’s tonnes of other stuff swirling about: the Militantes’ owner, Cassandra Thordwall, is a former pirate and she’s not afraid to stir things up. She’s ransacked the villa of Eguardo Giamucci, owner of the Wharf Rats. She’s plotted with Giamucci to kidnap Duc Tancred de Baston, owner of the Imperials, a plot she learned was meant to fail and land her in jail. She’s escaped the clutches of the SSFL’s Officer for Conduct, Rennigan Slythe. She’s pulled in the hidden partner in her ownership consortium, Mytilan’s Queen Beatriz (Jacyntha’s mother), convincing this latter to use its army and navy in support of the team.
Meanwhile, an in-squad brawl that had erupted between Xonxyas that Neuvil tried to stop ended up with one of the players re-injuring his bad knee, the injury inflicted on him by Rennigan Slythe and that ended his playing career. The stress of how the season is falling apart and the pain of his knee has driven him to start using a drug, rat-root, that once led to his downfall. Jacyntha still has a fierce grudge brewing with her former lover, Pierce Rosethorn, the superstar Sylvan player-coach of the Quarrels, who keeps thwarting her attempts to seek revenge and who keeps taunting her, saying that “The moment you lay a finger on me on the pitch is the moment I hang up my boots.”
Phew! There. Got it? As you see, there’s lots going on, and it’s all a blast!
Former Pirate (a.k.a. Pillaging Peggy). Footy fanatic. Cashed in her booty and paid gold to the SSFL to start up the Mytilan Militantes, a team composed of Xonyxas (a race of women warriors who come from the matriarchal state of Mytilan). Hired the notorious Karsgaard Neuvil to be her coach and pulled strings to get failed candidates to Queen Beatriz’ Queensguard as players. Not afraid to hatch violent counter-plots to thwart the league establishment that seems bent on undermining her team.
Nordman. Stellar playing career cut short by a dirty player, Rennigan Slythe. Went on to great success as a coach. A rat-root habit and ale led to his downfall when, two seasons previously, his needs allegedly drove him to fix an SSFL match. Whatever the truth, the result of that game handed a play-off spot to the Stonecarvers at the expense of the team he was coaching, the Imperials, as well as the other Guayamartí team, the Wharf Rats, who the Stonecarvers leap-frogged in the standings.
Thrower. Like all the Militantes, a failed aspirant to Mytilan’s Queensguard. Possibly high-born, with rumours floating around that she might even be a younger daughter of Queen Beatriz. Though a natural leader, she is prone to bursts of irrationality. Indeed, Neuvil stripped her of the captaincy for casting aside his game plan and trying to hurt Pierce Rosethorn during the Militantes’ 5th game, a game they lost because of her. She never even managed to lay a finger on him, so agile was he.
Umberto de la Calle
Thordwall’s long-time bodyguard. Also a footy fanatic. In addition to protecting Thordwall, he has been given the title of “Thane of Player Personnel”, although in practice he’s been showing the Militantes self-defence moves he has developed over his years protecting a pirate captain from all threats.
Sylvan Elf. Star player-coach of the Gloriana Quarrels. Old friend of Neuvil. Created the “Pact of Peace through Sport” nearly 100 years ago, a treaty that prevents footy-playing nations from going to war with each other. His belief in the sanctity of treaties means he always keeps his word, proving it early in the season when, after having promised Neuvil years earlier he would heal one of his players in the future, he cured Jacyntha of la Plaga roja. After her recovery, he was briefly Jacyntha’s lover. She broke off the affair when she came upon him dining with her best friend, Ocllo. So confident is he in himself that he keeps telling Jacyntha, “The moment you lay a finger on me on the pitch is the moment I hang up my boots.”
Rich Guayamartí merchant and owner of the Wharf Rats. Hates Neuvil for the alleged match-fixing incident two years ago that resulted in his team’s exclusion from the play-offs. Sends assassins after Neuvil and hatches plots against the Militantes and Thordwall.
Once known as the dirtiest player in footy. Ended Neuvil’s career by thrice stomping on the Nordman’s knee. Now he is the SSFL’s Officer for Conduct in Guayamartí, ensuring teams abide by league rules. He remains Neuvil’s sworn enemy. He has been trying to get Neuvil to trip up, dropping packets of rat-root into the latter’s lap, leaving the drug in the Militantes’ training ground, etc.
Duc Tancred de Baston
Chivalron exile and owner of the Imperials. Uncle to the deposed King Carles of Chivalria. Agreed to be used as bait in a false-kidnapping that was supposed to get stopped by Guayamartí authorities and that was supposed to have demonstrated Cassandra Thordwall’s criminality. Thordwall turned the plan on its head and managed to seize the duke and ship him off to Mytilan, where Queen Beatriz could ransom him to the Pretender, Carles, so as to advance other interests.
Striker and Jacyntha’s best friend. Wasn’t aware of Jacyntha’s affair with Rosethorn when she dined with him (see entry for Rosethorn). In a blatant contravention of the Pact (also see entry for Rosethorn), she was stabbed to death on-pitch by a Dark Elf playing for the Duskdaggers.