As he sat there in the stands watching his team mates play on against the Arizona Aristocrats, Tenderpaws wondered to himself “How did I get here. . “. Benched from a groin strain the game before, he had expected himself to be cut, killed, or worse. A rat who cant take the pain on the field is of no use to the Slavers. He prayed to the Great Horned Rat the team could get to the finals and he could still serve a purpose to his masters.
Tenderpaws thought back to the day he was captured. Hiding aboard a raiding vessel, he had stowed away in hopes to thieving loot to someday bring back to his wife and 13 children. Before he could depart vessel with his treasures as it pulled into Stumptown, he saw a shiny like none other. It was Captain Bandlehoon Eporfik’s own MVP trophy from his amateur Blood Bowling Days. Unknowing of its value but captivated by its twinkle, Tenderpaws could not resist. The moment he snatched the trophy he was caught by a guard and brought to the captain. It was then he would learn the fate of his future as a Blood Bowl lineman.
Upon arrival in Stumptown he had learned the crew of the vessel was headed to try out for the expansion team known as the Slavers. Short on funds after the draft and desperate for field a full team for opening day, Captain Eporfik offered his latest captive a choice, train and play as his lineman or die. “Blood Bowl? I am of no use for Blood Bowl!!” the shivering rat cried. “My, my heart to gentle. . . my. .my paws too tender!” he cried. “Gentle eh?? Tender paws you have indeed” said Eporfick upon inspection. “I offer you a choice, a rare chance for a slave. You will take the field, train under me, and take swings from ever clawed beast, treeman, ogre, orc and rotter in between. Do this, you may die. Refuse, you will wish for death. Do as I say, survive a season, and if the Slavers go all the way, I will grant you your release.”
Suddenly Tenderpaws snapped back to the moment as he heard a roar from the sold out crowd. He saw his fellow rat Chompers sprinting into the endzone to catch a spot on pass from Captain Eporfik. “CAUGHT!! SLAVERS WIN!!” the rat shrieked. As the Captain sprinted off the field he pointed to his injured teammates in the crowd. One more game. Suddenly Tenderpaws thought back to the many deaths he had seen during his time in the game. Mr. Reliable, entrails shredded by a twisted dwarf. His own friend and fellow rat, Tiet Bleeder, crushed by the rotting fist of a horrific and putrid Warrior on the last play of the season. He picked himself up to head to the locker room to celebrate but deep down he worried.
“One more game, win and survive one more game and” Tenderpaws reflected. He knew it this would be his toughest test yet. He would stand toe to toe with ogres, orcs, and those same twisted type of dwarfs. The captain would do anything to win this game with his team. Tenderpaws knew he would be thrown to the fire, but he also knew if he somehow survived, his team would win. If they won the prizes and glory of being a champion would never be bestowed upon him. Something far more valuable than even his life is what he would play for. For Tenderpaws this was the final hurdle. For Tenderpaws, he played for his liberty and life. Release from bondage could be his with a win but deep in his heart he knew, one more game and afterwards, either way. . . .his spirit would be free.