The smell of preservation chemicals and medicinal balms was enough to make a normal person vomit. However, Gauze was pretty much used to the smell at this point. He walked down the long corridor into his Captain's workshop, tapping his hooked quarter-staff with him as he went. As the smell got even stronger, Gauze knew that he was close to the Apothecary Guild's main workshop. He stopped right in front of the door and knocked three times.
“I'm busy and I am sure that you are not that important to me. Therefore, please go back to whatever primitive sludge you crawled out of and stay there.”
“Um, sir, I am the new striker. My name is-”
“Oh, right. You were coming sometime this week. Do come in but don't touch anything.”
Gauze reached out and felt the door for some sort of handle. His fingers wrapped around cold iron and he pushed open the door. The smell of blood was now mixed with the chemicals and balms. He slowly walked into the room, tapping his staff to make sure he didn't break anything. Gauze took in a deep drag of the stale air in the room. Strangely, he didn't smell anything human in the room besides himself. It was all corpses mostly in the room, dozens of them seeming to line the walls of the room. However, there was something else in the room, something that smelled of both life and death with a coating of embalming fluid. This thing turned around from the table they were working on and Gauze felt a presence he had never felt before. An aura of both kindness and dark secrets.
“Well, spit it out. I am a very busy man.”
“I am sorry to disturb you, Doctor. My name is Gauze, I am the new striker sent to join the team. I was told to report to you and then head to the practice field with you.”
“Damn those leaders and their foolish game. A man of science has no need for sports and hooligans who play it. Very well, young man. Let us head to the field and test your skills.”
Gauze heard the rustling of a lab coat being thrown over the muscular frame of the doctor and then the heavy footsteps of that dominating presence slipped past him. Whoever this man was, he was not someone that gauze wished to upset. They rushed quickly down hallways, Gauze tapping his stick with a rapid pace to keep up. Finally, he felt the cool touch of grass on his feet and the beating afternoon sun on his skin.
“Right, let's get to it. Grab the ball from me and score. Use any means necessary.”
“Um, are you sure this is-”
“Boy, I have no time for people who are impatient. You are a striker for this Apothecary team, your job is to take the ball from me and score a goal. If you can't even do that, you might as well go home.”
Gauze sighed and gripped his staff in both hands. He would not hurt the doctor but he was going to try his best. His body relaxed and he felt the calmness that he always felt when getting ready to play. The air was his ally, the way it moved around the pitch, the ball, his allies, his enemies. It was like a map being built in his mind from just the sounds, smells, and touch of nature. Ten feet away was the doctor, a tall and surprisingly muscular man with his right foot on top of the ball. Gauze made his move, diving in low and sweeping his leg to kick out the ball. The doctor kicked the ball back as his leg went near it and slammed his foot down on Gauze's own. The sound of bone snapping made Gauze almost yell out in pain. Almost.
Gauze swiveled around on his uninjured leg and then used his staff to vault himself into the air. The doctor was not impressed. His arms grabbed the legs of the striker and slammed him back into the ground.
“Come on, boy. You need to be better than this. If I was a Butcher, you would have lost this leg by now.”
Gauze smiled at the comment. He reached out the hooked end of his staff and pulled the ball in towards him. The doctor reached out a leg to stop this and Gauze took his chance. Sweeping the hook out from the ball, the staff caught the doctor's planted leg and pulled him to the ground. The doctor let of Gauze's legs to stop his fall and this was the opportunity the striker hoped for. He quickly lifted the ball into the air with his staff and spun his leg in wide arc. The leg slammed into the ball and sent it flying towards the goal post. It flew into the hoop at the top of the goalpost and Gauze sighed in relief. He heard the doctor get to his feet.
“Ten seconds. That is the best I have ever seen someone score against me.”
“Don't take it as a compliment. That is the best I have ever seen against me but there are still better strikers out there. You need more work.”
Gauze's face fell and he got up from the pitch. His foot was in immense pain and he had trouble putting any weight on it. He felt the doctor suddenly beside him.
“It isn't broken. Let me fix it.”
The doctor got down and made a twisting motion with Gauze's foot. There was sharp pain at first but then it was better.
Gauze felt a hand on his shoulder. It was cold and friendly all at once.
“Welcome to the team, Gauze. I am the captain, Doctor Franky Stein. I expect great things from you.”
Dr. Stein left Gauze, who felt both proud and very alone on the pitch.