Hints Only $35Weep, little lion girl, / you're not as brave as you were at the start. / Rate this book and rake this book, / take all the courage you have left, / Waste it all on riffing on this novel that you so unwisely read...
Chapter 12: Eric von Tealo
"Eric von Tealo?" That doesn't sound like a name; that sounds like a rightfully-forgotten Big Bad Voodoo Daddy song. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that this is the name of our COG.
Somewhere between the end of the last chapter and the start of this one, our gang told innkeeper Tantic they were expecting company. Creepy, possibly pedophilic company. This innkeeper, who I'm certain has had more than his fair share of unsavory guests, not only sees nothing wrong with this
—absolutely nothing—but he gives them a room ALL TO THEMSELVES with NO ONE AROUND
with which to talk with their mysterious guest.
My current theory: They're all in on it, and this mysterious man is going to size the adventurers up for their worthiness to be part of the Great Plan.
Scald also decides to randomly remind us that he is a Proud Warrior Race Guy
, by remarking that he plans to have as much fun as possible (presumably by giggling like a supervillain
) before he "crosses the wall." As in, the wall on which sit many buckets to be kicked. On the other side of which, there are farms to be bought. On this side of which, there are fjords to be pined for.
By the way, I feel you should know that the eighteenth chapter of this book—as visible in the very Table of Contents itself—is called "The Wall." Subtle.
You guys don't have to actually read
this book, so I doubt you'll feel the same way, but I can't say I'll be sorry when Scald's incessant snorting is removed from the picture permanently. (If it's not Scald, though, my money is on either Tayo or Olaf Leaderson.) We do seem to get some indication of some kind that Tayo is maybe sort of possibly afraid of dying, but the book doesn't spend enough time on it for us to get a feel one way or another.
Over this cheery conversation, everyone waits around, and the dwarves decide to get drunk some more. Someone actually bothers to wonder why the man wants to talk to them alone, but dismisses it. (He obviously comes bearing Plot.) At the very least, the gang decides it'd be generally wiser to retreat to their rooms, for... some reason. In real life, I'd say, hey, you've got your weapons in there and you can lock the door; you can probably hold fast for a little while as you wait for another of your teammates to come from behind and cut him before he shanks you. But this is Adventurers Wanted;
who knows why anybody does anything, least of all Alex.
But then they all go back to the common room and the dwarves start chugging beer. So fat lot of good that did.
Eventually, there's a drama-enducing soft knock on the door!
Arconn goes to get it. The old man shuffles inside like a zombie, which he may or may not be in league with.
His greeting is the standard one, as far as fantasy goes: "Mofos! Tell me your names, and get me some friggin' alcohol!
" (Not in those exact words, but you get the idea.)
Friggin' alcohol is dispensed (presumably, he'll be easier to hog-tie if he gets both drunk and feisty), though names are not. Olaf introduces himself as Silvan Bregnest (thought I'd remind you what the characters' real names are, just for once), but doesn't speak for the rest of his team. COG, of course, introduces himself as Eric Von Tealo (Go, Tealy-O!) but, for shortness' sake, he's COG from now to the hereafter.
COG says he has "quite a tale to tell." But, like a mustacioed man bearing a sign in Earthbound,
he wants to see the mo-nay on the table before he dispenses with the information. It's Toll Plot!
"Beyotch, we gettin' you drunk! You don't need no more payment for tellin' stories!"
You tell 'im, Dwarfaxe Jr.! Now... if only you were smart enough to know when to kick out a smelly old hobo creeper when you saw one.
But Olaf, being reasonable (?) tells COG that they'll pay him 5 coins each for his story if it's useful, and... presumably for not molesting their youngest member, I guess. And thus, COG begins... his story.
It began in the day of his great grandfather. (Or "great grandsire," as he insists on saying.) His family lived in the now-Dragontown of Varlo back in the day. Back then, his grandpappy was one of the most noble of city guards for that ancient metropolis. (He draws out the story some by saying that this ancient Von Tealo was the one who found this out, though his grandfather verified it.)
So he says that his grandad was in the castle when news of the "arriving evil" reached him. How, exactly? We don't know! We never will! It just did! Just as anticlimactically, we learn that apparently the dragon just kind of popped in and, hodang, killed the King!
Just like that!
...Wait, this town had its own king?
Apparently, the king being dead means this guy was in charge then,
or something, because apparently people were looking up to him! Hard to say; this story is moving really fast! He needs to get the people to escape from the castle! But if they go through the main gates, of COURSE the dragon will kill them!
Wait... will it? You just said the King was killed, so I would think the dragon would be there, at the castle! So escaping AWAY from that would make the most sense, wouldn't it? But apparently the dragon's... not? And the guard is just suddenly auuug I'm so confused!
Anyway, the whole point of this is, there's a back door to Slathbog's castle. And that sentence sounds kind of wrong even in
context. And the guys are given another
task for their return trip—if the info was helpful, they have to track COG down and pay him 50 gold coins each.
And presumably get shanked then.
This secret pathway lead to a spring, so it's probably underwater now, then. At least Olaf has the sense to point out that this makes it pretty useless to them, especially since Slathbog will have likely covered it up by now. COG does that stupid thing all Mystical(TM) characters seem to be required to do, where they go "Perhaps... but perhaps not."
Proving I am already miles ahead of these adventurers, I've already
thought of a way to get in there without being drowned, provided the current is flowing the right way. Of course, they're probably going to waste their time holding their breaths and moving stones underwater.
But COG isn't done yet! He reaches into his cloak and produces... a jacknife! ...Or a map. Either or. (Of course. It's always a map.) Which... doesn't even show the secret entrance.
At the very least, Olaf calls him on the fact that he could be making this up. He just says, no, no, pay me if your journey is successful. And then he leaves.
At the very least Dwarfaxe Jr. has the good sense to think this guy is a nutcase who presumably smells of cabbage.
But The Complainer Is Always Wrong
, that guy wasn't suspicious at all, neither is the town, and by golly, his story sounds sound!
Even though it was really illogical and hard to follow! But they have time to mull it over, especially since it's a long way to Varlo.
How far is it, wonders Alex? How far is it wonders me too—I'm still making raised-eyebrow calculations of your approximate travel distance.
Olaf replies, and I quote, "A good distance away."
Thanks a lot, Olaf. Thanks a lot, Author. Thanks a lot.
How will a back door be useful? Does Slathbog have guards? Because if it's just the dragon, you're going to be fighting him either way.
I think you're reaching when you mock the name "Eric von Tealo" when there are millions of people with far sillier names. Like my real name, Dillon Lowther. What is that, some Scottish ghost town? Not everybody can be named Joe Smith. That said, why you'd create a character in a fantasy setting with a perfectly realistic goofball name is beyond me.
I just think the last name "von Tealo" is kind of silly. Or at least, the "Tealo" part. It puts me in mind of 50's slang.