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Laborer Football (Final)

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I let out an all too audible sigh, “Why am I here?”. A question I have asked myself more than once already this morning. Gauge, our now captain, always did want to show those Masons what for, but why did he have to go form a team for Guild Ball to do it?

Getting his name for being level headed and a keen eye, Gauge certainly lost the former when it came to our trade brothers. But my loyalty and respect for him seen me nodding my head when he asked me to fill the final spot in his team. But when your crew is like family, how do you say no?

The very man approached me.

“Dowel, chin up lad. Kid like you should be thrilled to play” He puts his hand on my shoulder as he passes. “You’ll do great boy, the team and I trust you”.

It was then I noticed the team was heading out to the stand. Dovetail passed, her playfulness emphasised by her small grinning head tilt and wave. Or it was just Aspen, our Mascot, slumped around her shoulders like a scarf beaver. Then there was the looming form of Knot, spent his life around wood, from a lumberjack to labourer to now using the wood to build. A jolly man with a sweet tooth and the wrong kind of beard to go with it. Then there was Auger, brooding type who always took to being better at everything, except being social.

I stood up and took my place behind the line and made it out onto the pitch. Shutting my eyes, you could hear the roar of hundreds of fans, the adrenaline and excitement was growing. Until you looked, you could feel the thrill of it all. But needing to open them again showed about twenty people in the stand and the roar was thunder from over the hill. Admittedly I was surprised, we managed to acquire the Hunters as training partners today, an established team, you’d think it would bring people for that at least.

Looking across the barely a pitch like opening, I seen the statue like figures of our partners for today. Auger could learn a thing or two about brooding here at least, and Knot could see some new beard styles. Despite my attempt to little them, I was nervous, they looked like they weren’t here for training, Gauge did make that clear, right?

With little talking we set up, Dovetail and I took to our goal, which was little more than a stockpile of wood, tools and frames, the trade. Like a blur, Dovetail was given the nod to begin, taking a frame under her arm, she ran up to the ball. Throwing the frame to Knot she kept going before planting a fine kick to the ball. No sooner had the kick off happened she was on her way back and I had to start making my runs. Lifting from our stockpile I ran up and passed it off to Knot who used it to finish off what can only be described as a portable barricade. Just in time to hear the distinct thud of arrows burying themselves on the other side.

Gauge was already going foreman on us, Dovetail was her usual runabout self, passing tools and wood to our forward members, and I was trying my best to keep up. I was told to stay with Knot this game, and with my aid we were 3 barricades up and already on the Hunter’s half. If it wasn’t for the odd thud of arrows, I could have sworn we were playing ourselves.

That was when I saw the ball roll softly past me. I don’t know what got over me, but I went for it. Breaking off from Knot I slipped the ball to the inside of my foot to hook it back towards my team, and that’s when I observed the pitch since the kick-off. The Hunters were silent predators. Their captain pelting us with arrows, the feral woman was slinging bolas around Dovetail’s legs. And it was then I saw the bear of a man on their team sprinting towards me. We weren’t playing ourselves.

I froze, this was just training, he will just push me over, it might hurt but it’ll be fine, right? I had the ball, I think I had the ball, should I move? Where? I shut my eyes.

Cracking and shouting could be heard. I open my eyes to see splinters of wood pass me by and the sun blacked out. I turn to see Knot had put himself between me and the rampaging beast. The barricade taking the brunt of the impact but giving away nevertheless. I heard him shouting for me to go, and I realised I had managed to keep the ball.

I moved for the first time in what felt like hours, I dribbled the ball away and up towards the goal. I went to take the kick just as an arrow embedded itself just in front of me. I would say I passed the ball but I just slipped, but Auger, from nowhere, took possession and gave us the goal that ended the session.

The small round of applause from the shrinking audience brought me back. I was on the ground and looked around. Was I out? Knot and Dovetail were already clearing up the scattering of cover we built from the pitch, and Gauge was shaking the hand of what I can only assume was the Hunter’s captain.

“You did well boy, quite the gamble you took there though” I heard Gauge call over when he saw I was awake.

So, this was guild ball, adrenaline, danger, heart pounding seconds and overall scary. I laid there as the rain finally hit and felt it wet my face. I had developed a taste for it, and I wanted more. I won’t make the same mistakes twice. Measure twice, cut once after all.


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