Even before Tryg could leave the table the sodden old man slurped down his ale, running his grimy finger about the rim of the mug to pick up the remaining light froth of foam then licking the finger clean, dirt and all. He looked up at Tryg expectantly and then over at the two ladies and smiled his brown-stained gap-toothed grin at them and bobbed his head eagerly.
... okay, McKiernan, we get it. Alos is so disgusting he should be starring in a TLC show, and I'm amazed Samurai Chick and Generic Elf aren't puking up their guts right about now.
Also, you can replace some of your "ands" with commas. I'mjustsayin.
And while the women stare back at him, Tryg takes the opportunity to tell us what Generic Elf looks like. She, too, was dressed somewhat like a man, just like every other woman in this series, or in high fantasy for that matter. And since elves are WOODSY and in touch with nature, she's wearing green stuff. Including silk. I'm not clear on where the elves get silk from since this takes place in a sort of generic medieval European world with no silkworms, but whatever.
He guessed she was shorter than the yellow woman by as much as seven or eight inches—perhaps no taller than four feet six or seven
I guess that's the difference between Tolkien's elves and this guy's elves. Height.
So Tryg takes the gross old coot's mug away to give him even more beer, even though the guy sounds pretty sozzled already. Elf lady points out that Tryg doesn't seem like too bad a guy since he hasn't tried to molest them yet, and she doesn't see why Samurai Chick - whose name is Aiko - began waving her phallic symbols around.
"Even at rest a sword in the hand speaks with a loud voice, Dara."
Lady, you put them on the TABLE. I don't think you need to get more explicit than that.
But the Elf doesn't seem too bothered by this, since she smiles at Crazy Samurai Chick. Old yucky guy is staring at the barkeep filling the mug, because he's an alcoholic - have you noticed yet? So he starts slurping down the beer and apparently wants more, but the elf says that he can only have more after they've talked. Yeah, she waits until he's gotten sloshed to talk to him. Sounds like a great strategy.
"But, mum, I could talk better if—"
Wait, where is this? Is this supposed to be England?
Samurai Chick goes batshit and grabs the old creep. "Kojiki, you will address her as 'Lady' or as 'Dara,' " she hissed. I'm not an expert in Japanese, but I'm pretty sure the Kojiki is actually an 8th-century historical chronicle. It's also the name of an asteroid.
Lessee, it turns out that "kojiki" also can mean "jobless" or "beggar." Which isn't much of an insult, since he IS a bum.
As if to underscore her words, a thunderbolt cracked the night sky, light flaring through the window, Aiko's face standing out in bold relief.
This is DRAMATIC. See?! Lightning and facial illumination. It's DRAMATIC.
So Generic Elf tells Aiko to quit abusing the drunken homeless man, and she reluctantly does so. She also announces that "This unclean yodakari cannot be the one." I think she means "yadokari," because there is no such word as "yodakari" in Japanese. "Yadokari" means a hermit crab, or else a person who doesn't have a home and just sorta slumps around in cheap places.
But Generic Elf insists that no, they're not sure if he is "the one." Oooo, whatever can they mean? And finally we find out what Generic Elf is called: "I am called Arin, and my companion's name is Aiko. We have journeyed far to reach Mørkfjord . . . perhaps to see thee." So.... she's "called" Arin, but that isn't her name?
Alos, by the way, is busy ogling her wine cup. Seriously, does this guy have any distinguishing characteristics beyond being icky and obsessed with booze?
"Tell me, Alos, art thou the only one-eyed person in the steading?"
"Well, there is that purple people eater that sure looks strange to me, but I think he's one-eyed naturally."
Seriously, I don't understand why they're asking this gross old coot about this, especially since it's obvious his brain is pickled! Wouldn't it make slightly more sense to ask the barkeep or somebody who's been all around the town, and who can think outside the nearest beer stein? Why are they asking HIM?
Also, we find out later that this is basically a FANTASY-VIKING town. As in, it has people sailing out to raid and fight other countries! Wouldn't you expect at least a few of them to have an eye missing?
But Alos comments that as far as he knows, he's the only one-eyed guy in the area. Then he ogles her wine cup, while the women look at each other and... don't do much of anything. I feel like I'm missing something here.
He smells like a wet goat and his rank breath could knock a camel off its feet.
Because in Generic Fantasy Land, there are camels in vaguely Anglo countries.
He is filthy and dirt smeared and probably hasn't seen soap and water in a year or more.
And yet he's still more attractive than Charlie Sheen!
Even so, he could be the one, for there seems to be no other choice, at least not in this village.
"Oh shit, why do I always have the luck?!"
Since it's pretty obvious that both women REALLY don't want this old turd to be "the one," she asks if there's another one-eyed person living nearby the village. He says no, and Samurai Chick bursts into tears and quits her job on the spot.... oh, I wish. Instead, Generic Elf starts asking other questions that don't seem to be important.
"Thy blind eye, Alos, there is scar tissue all about, as if burned long past. Pray tell, if it bothers thee not to speak of it, how came thee to be blind?"
I prithee, what is thine Middle English rambling if it doth add nothing to thy plots? (And yes, I know I probably screwed that up pretty badly) Also, he's not blind. One EYE is blind, but the other one is just fine, And really, what does it matter? Is she just asking out of curiosity?
The old guy doesn't answer, just says that, "If it's to give a reward, then I'm your man; if it's to reap one, I'm not him." So add "wuss" to Alos' long list of endearing qualities. Arin asks another random question, saying that his accent doesn't sound like a Fjordlander one. And he replies that he's a Tholian by birth, and he wants more booze.
So Arin gives the alien her wine. He held the nearly full cup to his nose and savored the aroma; perhaps it was some of Tryg's best, her being a Lady and all, and an Elf at that. Just once, I'd like prettyful elves to buy cheap stuff. So Alos instantly chugs it down. And in case you weren't retching yet, he starts scraping his gross fingers in the cup to get every single drop. Why not just lick the floor in case somebody spilled some?
Her black eyes glittering in the lamplight, Aiko stared impassively at the dirt-streaked old man as he slurped at his digit, grime embedded under the split nail.
But wait! He has something else to do to gross us out: farting. Yes, we desperately needed to know that Alos farted enough to gross out the women. As if we weren't gagging already, He smacked his lips and emitted a belch—a bubble of frothy spittle appeared at the corner of his mouth, which he quickly sucked back in. Why doesn't McKiernan just have him crap on the floor, puke on himself, and blow his nose on the elf's cloak? Just finish already.
Aiko is pretty icked out, but since Arin is an elf nobody gross bothers her.
"Alos, 'tis no accident we are here with thee."
"We are here with thee because of the magic of THE PLOT."
As hinted by, you know, all those hints about "the one" and questions about whether there's anybody else with just one eye. That was all deliberate. HAVE YOU GOT IT YET?
"Here? In the Cove? With me?" Alos's good eye widened then narrowed. "How did you know I would be here?"
They asked if there were any unwashed methane machines hanging around, and just followed the smell.
No seriously, apparently this tavern is the closest to his "sleeping place," which presumably means that he's homeless.
Alos finger-combed at the long wet strings of white hair fringing his bald top and he smoothed his scraggly beard.
"Nay Alos, we are not here to date thee."
"We come on a mission, and it seems as if thou art part and parcel of it."
"So we're going to stick you in a cardboard box and set you postal rate."
Seriously, I smell a flashback/infodump coming up! YAY! And since he's totally obsessed with anything that can get you falling-down drunk, Alos suggests that hey, maybe they should have some more alcohol, just in case he has a few functioning brain cells that HAVEN'T been fried by decades of continuous boozing.
But wait! EPIC PLOT TWIST! Apparently a bunch of people are stomping on the dock and people are shouting! IT'S THE OTHER BARTENDERS WITH ALOS' TAB!
Actually, it's a ship... sailing... into port... in a hurricane. Doesn't seem very smart, but then again, what do I know about ships?
There came above the storm the cry of voices, and the dock shuddered as if struck a blow.
Damn those Vikings! Running around hitting innocent docks!
"Who be it, eh?" asked Tryg.
"Ship's lanterns or no, I can't tell," replied Yngli. "Too dark in this blasted rain."
"Wait, I can almost see the name... it's the Good Ship... Lollipop..."
"Some o' them be comin' this way," said Olar, "carryin' somethin' or some'n on a litter."
"Are they bringing in another hundred pounds of junk mail saying that I might be a millionaire? I've told them before, they canNOT pay with those!"
Samurai Chick jumps up with her swords, and Alos hides under a table. I'm still not sure why they're so freaked out, because presumably if this were an enemy ship, the people on it would be focusing on something other than a run-down bar with three people in it, only two of whom are paying. "Yarrrrr, before we invade their wealthy households and carry off their women, we will steal THEIR BEER!"
Through the door came a large, burly man, helmed and cloaked, fleece vest and leather pants and buskins beneath. He carried a lantern and behind him came two more men, these bearing an unconscious fourth.
"See? This is what happens when we go to the really cheap strip clubs!"
But anyway, their leader is apparently named Orri (along with Dorri and Norri?), and he orders somebody to go find a healer... yeah, in generic fantasy people always have "healers," never doctors or nurses or hedge witches or a physician. It's always a healer.
"You, Yngli. Run get Thar."
Commas? Pseudo-Vikings need no commas in the right places!
"Damned Jutes; Egil took a sword cut from th' duke's brother—killed him dead for it, though—but th' wound ha' fevered him."
"And it's in a really embarrassing place, so he wouldn't let us put Neosporin on it. What can I say, the duke's brother was really short."
So Yngli finishes his drink and goes running off into the night, and a whole bunch of mostly-uninjured men come into the tavern. And Orri does what any good leader would do when one of his finest is lying there dying of a horrible injury.... he buys a round of beer. Yeah. I can tell he's really torn up about this. None of the guys seem too worried either, since they're apparently delighted to be given the chance to drink until they puke. Ah, friendship.
In fact, Tryg seems to be the only person who actually gives a crap about Egil but Orri very sensitively says that hey, they can't do anything until the healer gets there, so they'll just partay over Egil's dying feverish body. Yeah, nobody seems even remotely concerned about whether the guy's gonna live or die.
"Besides, wound or no, fever or no, should Egil wake he'll want an ale o' his own."
Of course he will, dumbass. He's the only person in the building who actually might have a reason to get pickled.
So while Egil's bestest buddies ever are trying to see who can drink the most without throwing up, Olar actually goes to check on the guy with the festering infected injury. EPIC PLOT TWIST: the guy's lost an eye! Which means he's one-eyed! Which means maybe HE'S the one the women are searching for! DA-DUM!