Cage Match 2012: Round 1: Granny Weatherwax versus Bram


The Contestants


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Esmerelda “Esme” Weatherwax
Age: It’s rude to ask a Witch her age
Race: Witch
Weapons / Artifacts: Flying broomstick

Abraham R. Griswold – “Bram”
Zombie Captain
Age: 16
Race: Zombified human
Weapons / Artifacts: Various firearms; melee weapons, and vehicles; teeth
Capable of infecting living humans with the Lazarus prion via exposure to his body fluids

The Breakdown


  • Incredibly powerful witch
  • Particularly skilled at tricking people without using magic
  • Can “Borrow” another’s senses

  • Natural leader—especially of his fellow zombies. Great with thinking on his feet and contingencies
  • Can’t be killed for good unless his brain is destroyed
  • Heightened senses

  • Committed to doing “Right”

  • If it falls off, it stays off

  • N/A

  • N/A

How we think the fight will go

How Bram thinks the match will go (courtesy of Lia Habel, his creator):

Okay. So they have me going up against some kind of witch. Some obscenely powerful, universe-bending, rule-defying, tea-drinking witch.

Well. Not like I haven’t been cannon fodder before. When I served in Company Z, the secret good-zombies-killing-bitey-zombies army unit, taking non-cranial damage that would’ve spelled the end for any living soldier was my job description. In fact, as a walking corpse, my kind has served as Grade A cannon fodder in everything from television shows to holofilms to Aethernet games for the last century or two. From a zombie rights standpoint it blows, but given that I can see where the living are coming from? It’s kind of hard to take it personally.

So I think the best way to go about this is to think in terms of the old C-word – no, not that one. As far as I can tell she’s actually a nice old lady, or at least a lady with a good head on her shoulders, and I respect my elders. Contingencies. When you’re destined to eventually snap, when your frontal lobe is slowly and inevitably rotting to the point where self-control will become impossible, you learn to love long-term planning. You think about ways your friends could take care of you without putting themselves in danger. You figure out how you want to leave things when you go, because there are no “ifs,” only “whens.” You become damn good at end games, because the end is constantly in your face. Every unhealing scar, every busted joint, every forgotten name reminds you what you’re up against.

So. What are my advantages? What are my defenses? What crazy scenario would lead to +1 Griswold?

1. Numbers. Ye olde single-minded zombie horde. Tale as old as time. I’ve been a captain before, and was pretty good at it – why not a colonel? A general? Time has taught me that I’m a natural leader, and I’ve got dead men and women who’ll march with me to the end. Weatherwax’s motives aside, I know I can get a good-sized force behind me simply by pointing out that she’d like to cut short my already shortened time on the planet. Hell, I could double that if I chose to paint her as a raging anti-zombie bigot armed to the supernatural teeth – and doesn’t she have a thing against necromancy? Could triple it if there was a population of “low-functioning” zombies sitting around waiting for a lunch line to form somewhere. Given the extent of the damage to their bodies and brains I wouldn’t have much control over them, but they’d likely merrily follow my sane boys and girls and go berserker on whatever the rest of us were targeting. Given that the disease that makes us, the Lazarus, finishes its work in about six hours? Yeah, numbers-wise, we’re good to go.

Disease. While I’ve heard this woman can “delay” the effects of disease or injury – how long can she conceivably do this? Forever? If not, we’ve got our in, much as I hate to think about infecting someone. And if she tried to play her little “I’m rubber and you’re glue” disease-reflecting game – really, what’s that going to do to an already dead body? Make us deader? Terrifying. I honestly think we’d keep marching just fine. But the sad fact is, if you’re alive, you can die.

3. Head games. They will not work on the best of us. Death forces you to confront yourself, in the best and worst possible ways. Speaking for myself, I know what and who I am, what I’m facing, what my future looks like and how important the moment is. Her little psychological tricks are so many words. That’s not to say that we’re somehow immune – zombies are human, after all – but at least a few of us aren’t going to buy it, and will force her to fight fire with fire. And weaker zombies will go where the strong lead. We can bring this fight down to the ground real quick.

4. Machinery. I’m from the year 2196. On the New Victorian side of the Border they’ve got bomb-laden zeppelins, advanced computer-driven weaponry, and holographic technology. On the Punk side we’ve got massive walking tanks, airships, and the ability to make basically anything explode with a few MacGyver-esque parts and a glue gun. And as a former army man with a few (unwitting) underworld connections, I can get my cold, dead hands on enough of it to matter. In addition, quite a few of my friends are zombie cyborgs – I’m not making that up. We replace arms and legs all the time around here. Better after-living through cybernetics.

So. Taking all of this into consideration, I think we’re going to have to frame this battle in Cockroach terms. In that zombies are like cockroaches – if you see one, there’s a hundred more you don’t. And some of them are Punk guerrilla veterans.

Let’s start out alone. Talking. The wind ripples over the field of battle, etc., etc. Truthfully, Granny sounds like an amazing woman, someone I’d love to get to know. We both value hard work. Elbow grease. Doing what’s right, even if it hurts. Being the best people we can possibly be, despite inclination and bloody instinct. Honestly, it could all end there. She could become convinced that killing me would be Wrong, at least for now. I’m cursed with a disease that wants to turn me into a violent cannibal, but I fight it with every bone in my body. I’m a good guy.

But let’s say the gloves come off. Or the pointy hat, in her case.

Now, in order to put me down for good, she’s going to have to damage my brain. She could tear both legs and one of my arms off and vaporize my liver in front of my eyes, but unless she gets my brain (and that last remaining arm), I’m going to keep coming for her. I think that’s going to be my advantage in the beginning – the fact that technically speaking I’m a small, fast-moving target atop a highly-skilled body, like a driver in a tank. Wide-ranging physical spells, such as pyrokinesis, will do only middling physical damage – they won’t stop me. She’s going to have to be very precise. And unless she goes straight for the headshot, she’s going to have to put up some kind of shield to keep me at bay, too, possibly diverting power and attention from her offense. I won’t assume she’ll move herself through time or anything like that, because that would be running, not fighting. If she did that, I’m not going after her. I can’t.

And I’m actually willing to bet on a little hesitation. While she’s a tough broad, she doesn’t always immediately come out swinging. Just like me – and I know that’s my biggest weakness. If she hesitates with the headshot, even for a moment, that’s when the horde comes into play.

I’m talking aerial and ground assaults from locations previously holographically cloaked. Overwhelming bloody force. I’m talking bombs and bullets. If nothing else, I’m talking about throwing up a series of explosions so profoundly amazing that she’s startled, if only for a second. A second’s all a zombie needs to get in there and get nippy. Then, even if she mows us all down, salts the earth – the Lazarus might take hold.

We could conceivably win from six feet under. If one of us manages to infect her, even years after the fact, does that still count as a win? I think it does. (I also live in mortal terror of the idea of a zombie Granny Weatherwax. But hey, a guy does what he has to do.)

At the end of the day, as usual, I’m going to have to rely on my friends and the fact that I can’t be taken down easily. Thank God they don’t have me going up against Deadpool.

Predicted Winner: Bram


Check out the previous match!

Check out the next match in the Hogwarts: Quidditch Pitch bracket!

Check out the Bracket

Granny Weatherwax is a character from the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett; Bram is a character from Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Granny image courtesy of Victor Gollancz, Ltd. Bram image courtesy of Del Rey Books

Cage Match fans: We are looking forward to hearing your responses! If possible, please abstain from including potential spoilers about the books in your comments (and if you need spoilers to make your case, start your comments with: “SPOILER ALERT!”