When we last saw Samurai Chick and Tiny Elf, they had just heard that Egil had lost an eye. Which means... they now have TWO one-eyed characters!
I don't know what the point of that is yet, but I'm sure we'll find out soon.
"Hoy! What th'—?" Men on the fringe of the clamoring crowd turned 'round to see—
A drunk dwarf doing the cancan on one of the tables. Immediately everybody went blind from the trauma.
"Make way for the Dara."
—a small, yellow woman in bronze scale pressing her way through the ranks to make a path for—
Moses and the Israelites?
Riffing aside, I'm not entirely sure how these large muscular men can be pushed aside by a woman who's only about five feet tall and built like a daddy-long-legs.
The tall warriors stepped aside, for here come among them were two the likes of which they had never seen: an ebon-haired, armed and armored woman of saffron skin and slanted eyes of black—
"Aden's foam, but she's yellow."
Apparently racial sensitivity is not big in Mjorkford. Then again, these guys assume that any women sitting in a tavern must be prostitutes.
"Top o' her head won't even reach my chin."
"But th' one behind her—"
"She must be a prostitute too!"
—and a chestnut-haired Elf of ivory and alabaster, her tilted eyes hazel—
"—why, she can't be no more'n chest high t' me."
—both females dressed manlike, as if they had traveled far.
McKiernan is going to exhaust his entire supply of dashes at the rate he's going. Save some for later.
So anyway, Samurai Chick and Tiny Elf go over to the injured guy, and all the guys get out of the way. And since elves are ALWAYS great at healing and patching people up, Arin is the go-to girl.
Slender and tawny-haired, he was perhaps in his early thirties, and his fair skin was flush with fever.
DING! He's attractive and slender and has been injured. I smell a designated love interest!
As others crowded near, Arin laid a hand to the man's forehead, then gasped, "Vada!"
... which is Elvish for "DAMN, that's hot!"
So since elves are awesomer than humans, all the solders immediately fall and spill their ale as they try to get out of her way. And in case we haven't figured out what elves do when there's a Significant Character who's been injured...
With dark gaze Aiko looked up at Orri, the warrior woman seeming taller than her five feet two. "Captain?"
I can't tell if McKiernan is saying that she's got dark eyes, or that she's giving him a nasty look.
"Have your warriors give back, Captain. The Dara will see to your wounded comrade ... if it is not too late."
Have them give back... what? Their booze? How could that possibly help?!
So then Yngli (how do you pronounce that anyway? Yingly? Ingly?) comes back with some old man, and in case you haven't figured out who he is, Yngli informs us: "Here be Thar!" cried Yngli, closing the door with a flourish to shut out the storm. "Now we'll get Egil tended to, good and proper."
Fool! Don't you know that Elves Crap Gold, and therefore Elf Chickie shall do a better job than this guy ever could?
So while Thar is taking off his cloak, Arin is still looking at Egil's face... which she's been doing for quite some time. He's got a huge gash in his face which has completely destroyed his eye and sliced open his forehead and cheek. I assume it's VERY VERY DEEP or else more damage would have been done to the cheek and forehead (and probably the brain underneath) than to the eye. I mean, the eye doesn't tend to bug out, does it? There's no mention of this guy being Marty Feldman.
So Arin asks if they had any bandages, and Orri replies that, "He ripped it off in his nightmares, Lady, in his fever." Yes, that is why people tend to put bandages on more than once. I mean, did he rip it off and then everybody went, "Oh well, that's his one allotted bandage for the year. Tough tushes"?
It also turns out that the raiders didn't bring a healer along, and that they seem to take pride in treating all their own injuries.... except they apparently suck at it. This just doesn't strike me as a smart idea.
"But we were too busy fighting off Duke Rache and his men most o' th' way back—flaming arrows and quarrels and sling bullets and such—till finally we managed t' set fire t' their sails and left them cursing behind, then lost 'em in th' dark."
Uh, these guys aren't very good at the raiding thing, are they? I mean, they literally spent most of their trip fighting off ONE SHIP. Also... sling bullets? Uh, do people use slings on the high seas?
"But as t' Egil, every able man was needed and none were free t' see t' his hurt. 'Sides, he was fightin' th' Jutlanders as well, even though he was wounded and fevered and could see but from one eye. And when th' fight ended, well then we tended him—salt water on his wounds t' keep 'em free o' fester, bandages. But Egil ha' ill dreams, Lady, mayhap made worse by th' fever, and he j'st kept pullin' free th' dressin', and finally we let be."
These guys seem REALLY casual about the fact that this guy has lost an EYE and is probably going to die. They must have a freakish turnover even for Viking Knockoffs, because apparently they deal with every medical problem by splashing seawater on it. Don't they know how to do ANYTHING other than splash seawater?!
So Thar takes a look at... the women. Then he bothers to look at the patient, while Arin tells him the freakin' obvious.
Arin glanced up at Thar. "The eye, what remains, it must come out."
WAIT. So these dumbasses didn't even get the ruined tissue out of the eye socket? Don't they even know THAT much? Seriously, these guys are STUPID - apparently they don't know any damn things about keeping their allegedly awesome fighters alive! Then when they're half dead, they bring in a healer to fix up their mistakes!
Thar nodded. "Be ye a healer, Lady?"
"I have some skill at it," replied Arin. "Yet I have no herbs and simples at hand, nor tools."
"I ha'e mine," said Thar, gesturing at his leather knapsack. "But he be y'r patient, Lady. J'st tell me—or whoe'er else—what it might be ye need."
... well, at least Thar isn't one of those asshole doctors who get insulted if anybody around him knows ANYTHING about medicine. Or else he's just lazy. Seriously, he doesn't know how to do all this? I mean, it's not THAT complex an operation. What kind of healer doesn't know how to just remove necrotic tissue?
So Arin asks for a soapbox to stand on.... no, seriously, she asks for something to stand on, because she's SHORT. Like, short pro gymnast short.
Tryg motioned for Olar to take over the duty of dispensing ale,
Can't these guys go without ale for five minutes while their DYING COMRADE is treated?! Then again, given the medical treatment they'll receive if they get hurt, I imagine they have a high turnover rate!
So Tryg brings out a box and Arin stands on it, and asks for... uhhhh... this is gonna be messy. "I will need a knife, glowing red with heat. Two, if thou canst provide. —And a bottle of thy strongest brandy." Apparently elves crap gold, but they don't know how to whip up some mystical herbal general anesthetic. This is gonna be nasty.
So Tryg brings out some booze and starts sticking knives into a charcoal burner. Arin washes her hands with the brandy, and asks Thar for..... ugggghhhhh. "Hast thou wire nips? Something to pluck away the flesh when seared? And a needle and gut to sew up the sword gash? And clean cloth for bandages and other needs?" Lady, I don't even wanna know what you mean by "other needs."
So apparently Thar has various stuff that she wants, and Arin starts sterilizing the needle in a candle. I don't know why we're being treated to all the pre-surgical details like this, because it really doesn't add anything to the plot. And if we're treated to the SURGICAL details with equal loving care, I may puke on my keyboard.
Arin lays out the needle and thread, and starts sterilizing the tweezers. Wait, are those the "wire nips" she mentioned? Why didn't she call them tweezers?
And because this is a medieval society with medical practices to match, Thar starts talking about using leeches. He and Arin have a rather pointless discussion about whether leeches are a good or bad thing.
"Nay, healer. By bleeding, thou weaken the afflicted when they can least spare strength. Instead thou shouldst fortify the blood of the sick and not drain it away."
Lots of beef and greens, I imagine.
"They be borderin' on ruddy red!" called Tryg.
"Can someone grab me a potholder? I think my fingers are roasting!"
So since Thar is demanding to know how to "fortify" the injured man's blood, Arin calls Aiko over and tells her to go gather blue flowers and snow from a nearby glacier. Uh... it doesn't seem very safe to have a town right next to a glacier, but what do I know?
Aiko glanced left and right and then leaned forward and hissed, "Dara, I would not leave you alone among these iyashii men."
"Some of them actually might HIT ON YOU!"
But Arin tells Aiko to just go already because otherwise this man will die, and especially because "he is perhaps the one we need." Can we PLEASE have some exposition?! Then Yngli offers to come along with Aiko because he knows a shortcut, so they leave.
Arin explains that when they were riding in, they noticed some tiny blue flowers which the locals call "blue-eyed ladies" and the elves call "arel." "Blue-eyed ladies" seems like kind of a bland name for a flower, even compared to similar names like "black-eyed susans." Anyway, these are a Fantasy Potion that apparently serves as an antibiotic if you make tea out of them. It seems kinda weird that the locals haven't found this out, since there are apparently PLENTY of them around.
Arin took a deep breath and slowly let it out as she looked down at Egil. "Hast thou a sleeping draught, Thar?"
The man shook his head. "Nay, Lady. Egil'll j'st ha'e t' bear up."
WHY THE HELL NOT? The man lives in a town full of pseudoVikings! You'd think general anesthetic would be something he keeps on him at all times. Why doesn't he have anything?
So since they can't knock the poor man senseless, Arin has Orri bring six strong men to hold Egil still while Arin sticks a red-hot knife in his eye socket. So the guys grab him and OH HELL DON'T LOOK DON'T LOOK DON'T LOOK THEY'RE GOING TO DO IT OH THIS IS GOING TO BE SO DAMN GROSS DON'T LOOK DON'T LOOK....
... oh wait, McKiernan cut away. Thank God. Instead we end the chapter with Aiko and Yngli going off to get flowers. But they can hear Egil screaming all the way out there at the stables.