Chapter 3: Of Thugs and Men, er, Women
With their new companion Toimor, Pip, Wart and Keis reach Vikingland to find a boat, as well as a few mercenary barbarians to help them in their quest. Writing this chapter has made me hungry. Now I really want pizza. Mmmmm, delicious poor-man’s pizza...
“We’re here!” Wart exclaimed as he ran to the town.
Pip couldn’t stop the smile on his face. The town was all wooden and stone, and there were numerous thugs and Vikings walking around. A couple of them were wearing plain triangular helmets and holding signs stating “Remove the Horns!” and “Stop the Horned-Helmet Tyranny!” A few more barbarians were beating each other up in plain sight. Pip could have sworn that all of the thugs had beards, even the female ones.
But they weren’t the reason Pip was smiling. It was the ocean. He had never seen it before, and it was beautiful. The blue waves, the sparkling waters, the giant green sea serpent popping out of the water and eating fish- it was all so unfamiliar and majestic.
“It’s so beautiful,” Pip remarked.
“Meh,” Wart complained. “You’ve seen one ocean, you’ve seen them all. Literally!”
“Guys, focus on the task,” Keis stated. “We need to find a sailor, a ship, and a few barbarians to help us out.”
“Technically, we don’t need barbarians,” Toimor said. “They would just be nice to have. I, for one, would like to tour this place for its musical heritage.”
“No, we need a barbarian,” Keis snapped.
What’s gotten into her? Pip wondered. But she made a point. There was no time to sightsee when the world was in danger. “So where should we go?”
“Well, there is a famous tavern nearby for its mercenaries.” Keis responded. “It’s called the ‘Screaming Bandit.’”
Almost on cue, someone screamed. “Did you say the ‘Screaming Bandit?’” Toimor asked.
“You know of it?” Wart asked.
“Do I know of it?” Toimor scoffed. “Why, it must be the most famous tavern in the world! Every bard band has played here before. In fact, it’s where the famous band Arrow Smiths started, as well as Taylor Quick!”
“Then I see no reason not to go,” Pip said. “Come on!”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Entering the Screaming Bandit, the group decides to order food while looking for mercenaries. Loud music played over the speakers, or would have, if speakers had been invented at this time. But they hadn’t, and so the only music came from a screaming singer in the center of the tavern.
“I guess that’s how this place got its name,” Wart grumbled over the music while covering his ears.
Toimor certainly disagreed. “While she’s certainly not as good as the real one, this Selena Gnomes impersonator is impressive.”
A waiter came by and asked what they wanted to eat.
“I’ll take a pizza!” Wart yelled.
“Excuse me,” Pip asked. “Do you know of any mercenary barbarians or sailors that we could hire?”
The waiter pointed to a table in the corner where a lone barbarian sat shrouded in shadows.
“Thank you,” Pip said as he got up. Keis flew with him. “You want to come with us Toimor?”
He shook his head. “I, for one, am going to ask this Gnomes impersonator a few questions.”
Pip and Keis crossed the tavern, avoiding a few fistfights between local thugs. They reached the lone barbarian, and Pip asked, “So, I heard that you’re a barbarian we can hire?”
The barbarian left the shadows, revealing herself to be a woman. She had a horned helmet, and a button on her shirt saying “Make Vikingland Great Again.”
However, she scoffed. “I’m a thug, not a barbarian.”
“Is there a difference?” Keis asked.
“Yes,” the thug snapped. “A college degree. Now what do you want?”
“We need a sailor and a mercenary to help us defeat the Dark Lord. Can you help us?”
The thug chuckled. “I’ve done a lot of things, but I ain’t never defeated a Dark Lord. I’d love to join.”
“Great!” Keis rejoiced. “Now you just need to sign these papers and-“
“I wasn’t finished,” she interrupted. “You see, I’d love to join, but I’m in debt to Dr. Rudolf Moneybags. I can’t go with you until I’ve paid him off.”
“How much do you owe him?” Pip inquired.
“One hundred grand,” the thug stated.
“Can we pay it off for you?” Keis questioned.
“If you can give him a hundred grand, then I’ll join. But until then, I’ll be sitting here.”
“Then we’ll try to pay it off,” Pip stated as he walked back to their table. He glanced at Toimor, of whom it appeared had taken center stage and was singing his rendition of “What Does the Unicorn Say?” He sat at the table with Wart just in time for the waiter to come bringing their food.
“Wait a sec!” Wart complained. “This pizza doesn’t have any sauce!”
“I’m sorry sir,” the waiter replied, “but this is the Middle Ages. There are no tomatoes to make sauce because we haven’t discovered America yet.”
“Aw, nuts,” Wart whined as he took a bite anyway.
Pip chowed down on his food as well. “You know Wart,” he stated, “you should try to complain less.”
“But that would be too difficult,” Wart stated. He paused. “Huh, maybe I should.”
They continued to eat their food. Pip told Wart about the thug they might hire, and the payment they needed. At this point Toimor came to the table.
“Nice singing,” Keis said sarcastically.
“Why thank you,” Toimor responded genuinely.
“So now that we’re all here,” Pip stated, “we need to find a way to get one hundred grand.”
“What a coincidence! Someone just gave me a hundred grand for singing earlier!” Toimor laughed.
Wart spewed his drink all over the table. “Well that solves that problem.”
“Then come on!” Pip said as he got up to ask the thug where Rudolf Moneybags was.
“He’s in this tavern actually,” she stated. “He’s in that section. You can’t miss him. He’s a dragon.”
“Gotcha!” Pip stated as he ran off.
“Wait, what?” Wart staggered.
They all ran off and quickly found him- a massive red dragon with a pair of spectacles on his face.
“Mr. Moneybags!” Pip called out.
“Doctor Moneybags,” the dragon corrected. “I did not go through eight years of medical school just to be called ‘Moneybags.’”
“Well, the point is, we have the money to pay off your one thug’s debt! Toimor, show him the money.”
“Uh, well,” Toimor shuffled his feet. “I never said I had money, just a hundred grand.” He pulled out a small candy bar with a red wrapper.
This time Wart spat out the pizza he had just taken a bite of. “You mean, you got a Hundred Grand candy bar?”
The dragon stared at it, then sighed. “I would have preferred a king size, but this will do.” He snatched it and ate it in one bite, wrapper and all. “Her debt is paid. She’s free to go.”
Pip stood still for a moment. “Just go with it,” Keis said. “I have no idea what just happened, but lets just go back to the thug.”
They walked back silently. When they got to the thug Toimor said, “Your debt is paid, I guess.”
“Great! Thanks a lot! Now I guess I’m in debt to you. What do you need me for?”
“Just sign these papers,” Keis said. “We need your help in defeating the Dark Lord.”
The thug signed them and handed them back.
“Wait,” Keis said. “It says ‘barbarian.’ Didn’t you say you were a thug?”
“That’s my name,” she snapped. “Barb Arian. Occupation: thug.”
“Ooo-kay then,” Keis muttered. “Now we need to find a sailor and a ship.”
“Funny that you mention that,” Barb responded. “I happen to know a sailor.”
“You do?” Pip inquired.
“Well, not really,” Barb stated. “My sister’s landlord’s son’s pet fish’s cousin is one. But I can easily ask her to help us.”
“That’s convenient,” Toimor stated. “But I guess that means we’re settled in Vikingland. Now, to find a wizard!”