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Cassaralla

My Name Is . . . (Final Version)

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It wasn't supposed to be like this.

 

His first chance. His first game. Even amongst a team of frilled peacocks like the Entertainer's Guild he was supposed to seize his chance to stand out. He'd earned his chance working his cards and tricks on the street. He wasn't going to waste it.

 

It hadn't worked out that way.

 

“Stay on the wing, rookie.” Barbell, their strongman rarely spoke more than a few words.

 

“Make sure you have my back, rookie.” That was Chanteuse, the prima donna captain.

 

“Just stay out of my way rookie! Your magic tricks won't help you here.” Lute usually had little time and short words for everyone other than her fans.

 

“You're only here until Jongleur heals up, rookie.” Jester was missing his partner and had no fondness for the new boy.

 

Even the mascot, an elaborately dressed performing poodle named Hoops, had turned its back on him with a dismissive whine and trotted off after the captain. In a team sport every player in his guild was a star in their own mind and had no patience for a mere rookie. He wondered why they hadn't just played with five.

 

He'd tried his best to follow all the instructions but as soon as the ball was kicked off all semblance of tactics or organisation had disappeared like smoke on the wind. The team had six players but they were all trying to play the game alone. There was good reason everyone ignored their official name and called them the Fool's Guild.

 

The first foray up the wing had earned him bruised shins and a lesson in how superior reach usually wins from Mallet. “Better luck next time, rookie.” The old veteran had said to him as Flint banged in the first goal. He'd picked himself up and waited for the goal kick. Predictably it had gone to his prima donna captain so he followed Chanteuse's instruction and tried to protect her back.

 

That was when he'd met Chisel for the first time. His tricks, always good for distracting and entertaining on the streets, did him little good as the Mason's demented Mistress of Pain laid into him. He thought he heard her calling him 'A stupid rookie.' as she drove him into pitch face first.

 

A little while later he remembered her lazy grin as he woke up in the Physician's tent. They were down two goals and his little dirt nap now, to nothing in return. Even Flint had escaped retribution from his goal scoring with a cheeky knee sliding celebration in front of the Mason's stands. Driving the crowd wild as always. He'd always thought he'd be as popular as Flint when he'd broken in to the Big Leagues. That was before going ten – nil down in his first game and he hadn't even touched the ball yet.

 

He limped back out, adjusting the bandage wrapped around his head from the love-tap Chisel had given him. Play started again with a booming kick from the Fool's goal. A needlessly showy overhead kick from Jester failed to get the ball to the Chanteuse, instead dropping it right between himself and Harmony.

 

They both sprinted hard for the ball while in the background Chanteuse berated Jester rather than playing the game. Harmony reached it first but he had a few tricks up his sleeve. Literally. With a flash of linen he threw a pair of playing cards in the Mason player's face. A moments distraction only, but that was all he needed to take the ball and sprint up the wing, angling away from the massive armoured rat the Mason's called a mascot. With youth and speed on his side, he outpaced Wrecker and took his chance to shoot.

 

He'd dreamed of this moment. His first goal. A momentous occasion to never forget. He wheeled away from the goal post expecting to hear the crowd roar, but all he found was his own team disintegrating. Chanteuse and Jester were hurling insults at each other, neither having even noticed the goal. Barbell was trying to hold off Mallet, Hammer and Chisel at the same time. He wouldn't last long. Lute was chasing after Flint with a murderous look in her eye and he couldn't even see Hoops despite the garish colours of the poodle's outfit. It was pure luck that he dodged past Wrecker as it tried to roll him down.

 

A Mason's official booted the ball back in to play towards Flint, just as Lute caught up with him. A wild swing with her battered instrument and the Veteran Rogue was knocked down. The ball bounced loose, close to him but not close enough. Harmony would easily reach it this time. Hoops came out of nowhere, a blizzard of ribbons and frills and grabbed the ball, nosing it away as fast as her little paws could carry her. With one of her most annoying high pitched yaps she nosed the accelerating ball his way.

 

Harmony had ignored the poodle and was bearing down on him at speed. He only had one chance and he took it, belting the ball into the Mason's goal post as hard as he could. Two goals. He could hardly believe it, two goals in his first game.

 

This time the crowd took notice and roared. To them he had been just a rookie. A nameless rookie playing for a joke of a team. Not anymore, but they were still cheering for a rookie. He pounded his chest and shouted out to them.

 

“That's not my name! My name is . . . ACE!!!!!”

 

He barely noticed Hammer taking out Barbell to complete the win for the Mason's. He was too busy having the crowd appreciate him. A true Fool's Guild player.

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