The Annotated Westala and Villtin Files

Ill in Anorankhmar - Chapter One

Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Chapter Four | Chapter Five

Episodes 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

Episode One

[  Read episode ]

... pub both far away and near...
The newsgroup afp has many times been likened to a pub, with lots of almost coherent conversation and the occasional brawl. Oh, and beer.

The publican
ppint. of afp. An individual who does in fact use capital letters, but differently, and makes a living by selling books.

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser
This refers to the Sword series of books by Fritz Leiber. It is about the two above mentioned men; Fafhrd who is big and strong and from the northlands - a classic barbarian hero - and the Gray Mouser who is small, clever and from the south. They are both exellent thieves and go on many adventures - often involving women - together.

Avatars of Fafhrd and the Mouser also pop up in the first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic, under the names Bravd the Hublander and the Weasel. Which isn't strictly relevant, but Daibhid thought you'd like to know.

See Orjan, Marco and 'Ill departed by twilight'

And I claim my five pounds
In 1938 The Daily Mirror used an agent named "Lobby Ludd" to stroll around pre-announced seaside resorts. If you recognised him from his published photo and wanted to win the money (5 or 10 pounds, which was a good amount of money at the time) you had to approach the person, carrying a copy of the newspaper, and say to him "You are Mr. Lobby Ludd, I claim the [Prize]." The British Westminster Gazette (from 1927) and News Chronicle (mid-1930s) are believed to have used the same promotion. The phrase moved into common parlance as a phrase to indicate recognition. It's commonly used on newsgroups etc. in the form "you are me and I claim my five pounds", abbreviated to YAMAICM£5. "Me" can be sunstituted for anyone/anything else that you were reminded of.

East Angular... Hanoverian Hinckley
The Discworld Convention is held every other year, in 2002 and 2004 it was/is at the Hanover International Hotel in Hinckley, Leicestershire. East Anglia is a part of England, approximately encompassing Norfolk and Suffolk, including the location of the bi-annual ClareCraft Discworld Event (CCDE).

Örjan Westin, one of the writers of The Tale of Westala and Villtin. He is tall and Scandinavian, so bears a certain likeness to the above mentioned Fafhrd.

See Fafhrd and Westala

Marco Villalta, one of the writers of The Tale of Westala and Villtin. Marco isn't tall and Scandinavian, at least compared to Örjan. Rather he is half Italian, and therefore a southerner.

See The Gray Mouser and Villtin

Kzin fellow in the corner
Paul Speaker-to-Customers of afp. In Larry Niven's Ringworld books there is a Kzin character called Speaker-to-animals. Paul is mentioned as having quoted a great bard, the bard is Rudyard Kipling and the quote was:

"Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgement Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!"

the story about the game of legs
This refers to a story called "Twistbuck's Game" in the book "Night Arrant" by Gary Gygax. It features Gord, who is a barbarian hero, and Chert, a sly thief - two people not completely unlike Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, or Westala and Villtin.

We are not amused by it.
Queen Victoria of England is supposed to have remarked "We are not amused" when spotting a housemaid impersonating her.

Örjan Westin.

See Orjan

Marco Villalta.

See Marco

Episode Two

[  Read episode ]

T'was a dark and stormy night
"It was a dark and stormy night" is the beginning of the first line of "Paul Clifford" by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. It has been voted "the worst opening line ever" and has been immortalised in the comic "Peanuts" where Snoopy is several times depicted sitting on his dog house with a typewriter. His stories always begin "It was a dark and stormy night..."

The full sentence is:

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents - except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

Fat sergeant
Loosely based on Fred Colon of the Ankh Morpork City Night Watch, from the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett.

Shifty-looking little corporal
Loosely based on Nobby Nobbs of the Ankh Morpork City Night Watch, from the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett.

Gideon Hallet, resident anarchist of afp. He is reported to have stated that he'd never obey a law he didn't agree with, nor break one he found just.

... burned on hot flames.
Refers to "flaming", a usenet practice where abuse is flung at people who misbehave/say things that other people strongly disagree with.

The Western Isle

Episode Three

[  Read episode ]

"It is light, woven out of strong filaments that verily almost glitter in the sunlight, and it can even withstand the heat of naked fire."
This refers to asbestos, a flame-retardant material - which can come in handy for any of the Cult of Me who happen to be on a newsgroup.

... stroking his chin - which had not been shaved for three days. It was of old oak, and fifteen feet high
This slight grammatical error gave rise to a sort of convoluted annotation where the gate ended up being played by Jay Leno - an American talkshow host famous for having a prominent chin. The error was pointed out, and the joke made, by Paul E. Jamison. Marco got his revenge by turning Paul into a character.

See James Pauleson and Lenojay

"Figlio di puttana! Ti taglierò i coglioni e li do a mangiare ai cani!"
Authentic Italian cursing, provided by Marco. Exact translation left as an exersise for the reader, but broadly similar to the famous Discworld battlecry "We're gonna cut yer tonker off!"

The monks at Kopparbergs abbey
Kopparbergs is a brand of cider from Sweden. It takes its name from the region "Kopparberg" in Dalarna, in central Sweden.

Episode Four

[  Read episode ]

Fix Ballong
François-Xavier de Montgolfier of afp, known as FiX. He shares his last name with the inventor of the hot-air balloon, though we are told they are not related. Ballong is Swedish for balloon. FiX is also French.

Dextra Bos
Richard Bos of afp. He works with Apple computers, Apple is the company behind the Macintosh computers, like the iMac. When Richard started posting to Usenet he used the e-mail adress as his username, which people promptly (due to it being deemed unpronouncable) turned into Infodextra.

For more information on why FiX and Richard got the somewhat dubious honours of being villains, read the prehistory.

In Celtic lore a "satire" is a poem designed by a bard to cause another person harm, ill health or death. The word itself comes from the Latin "satur" which means full. In connection with literature it is first mentioned by Ennius, born in 204 B.C., as "satura poesis" meaning something like "various poetry". It developed (through writers such as Lucilius, Horatius, Persius and Juvenalis) to become the name for clever, mean and often ironical mockery in poetic form.

... a lot of the old families who used to impose some sort of order here have either died or moved out.
A reference to past afpers (known as "old farts") who have for various reasons stopped posting and left the group.

Episode Five

[  Read episode ]

...old Northern five pence coin
The now discontinued 5 öre (100 öre = 1 swedish crown) coin in Sweden was made of copper and about 3cm (1.2'') in diameter. The 5 öre and the, also copper and also discontinued, 1 öre coins frequently show up in live roleplaying games etc. because of their very old-fashioned look.

Therese Wikström of afp. Used to be afpslave to Graham, though it was never registred on AFPHRID - the "Alt.Fan.Pratchett Heroic, Relational and Impossible Database" where the afprelationships are kept on record.

Affor of the Grey Hem
Graham Marsden of afp. He has the word affordable as part of his Usenet nickname and also sells various leather items for the sexually adventurous at

Blue Nick
Aquarion De'Blue (Nicholas Avenell) of afp.

James Pauleson
Paul E. Jamison of afp.

See ...stroking his chin - which had not been shaved for three days. It was of old oak, and fifteen feet high and ...amazing crew of ferrets

Jay Leno.

See ...stroking his chin - which had not been shaved for three days. It was of old oak, and fifteen feet high

Episode Six

[  Read episode ]

Plummeting Lemming
A reference to the afper known as The Flying Hamster.

See Lowmar.

Mark Lowes of afp. Also known as The Flying Hamster. It has been discussed whether Mark was cast as innkeeper before or after he started home brewing, and Örjan thought it was before he found out. Having checked with the powers that be (a.k.a. the mighty Google) I've found out that The Flying Hamster first mentioned "homebrew" on the 1st of march 2002, and that Örjan took part in that particular thread on the 25th - the same day as Lowmar first appeared in The Tale. So, whether Örjan was influenced by Mark's homebrewing, well, make up your own mind.

See Plummeting Lemming

Lady Kayla of afp. Lady Kayla and Mark Lowes are husband and wife in real life as well.

See Lowmar

Temple of Afpdor
At one point in the history of afp (may-july 1997) there was created a shrine. And after this there were created more shrines, and eventually these shrines merged into the temple of Afpdoration. See the Afp timeline on the L-Space Web for the full story.

The High Priest of Afpdor
Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld series. Also known as the Man With the Hat.

The hawker
A double reference to Cut My Own Throat Dibbler from the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett, and Stephen Briggs - sometimes known as CMOT Briggs because he sells Discworld and afp related merchandise, like badges for example, at It all started with him selling Unseen University scarves to his friends, and snowballed from there. In medieval times there were actual pilgrim's badges, which were worn with pride, with different designs showing were you had been, where you were going or were you were from.

...his mouth was frozen in a ghastly grin
The Joker, legendary villain from the Batman comics, has a special way of killing people with some sort of toxin, often a gas, that leaves the victims with a grin reminiscent of the Joker's own. This first appeared in the very first Joker episode in 1940. Örjan remembered it from the 1989 movie, directed by Tim Burton, where the Joker was played by Jack Nicholson.

Episode Seven

[  Read episode ]

The freaky whirlwind
On page 22 of the Corgi paperback of Men at Arms, by Terry Pratchett, there is a bit which goes:

"In one strange but theoretically possible universe the Watch House was redecorated in pastel colours by a freak whirlwind, which also repaired the door latch and did a few other odd jobs around the place."

Marco says that using this clue it should be possible to figure out where Westala and Villtin are, and to, if one has the appropriate mappe, follow them around the city. I haven't tried, so can't verify this.

Episode Eight

[  Read episode ]

la vache qui rit
La Vache Qui Rit, The Laughing Cow, is the name of a soft, spreadable cheese.

Le Pen
This is not (well, it kind of was, but was withdrawn when Le Pen actually had some success in the polls) a reference to the french extreme-right-wing politician Jean-Marie Le Pen, but simply "the pen" in a bad french accent. It is actually a reference to the saying "the pen is mightier than the sword", made by FiX in the thread leading up to the creation of The Tale of Westala and Villtin. Also refers to the fact that Dextra Bos and Fix Ballong fight with satires, which are written with a pen.

See Prehistory

senex fundum habet
Authentic Latin gibberish. Translates (more or less) as "The old person had a farm". More ususally seen as "Macdonaldus senex fundum habet (e-i-e-i-o)"... I am told Örjan first encountered this phrase at his first Cambridge meet, where it was sung by Peter Ellis, a.k.a. Peterwok.

Peter Ellis of afp, married to fellow afper Bluebottle. Peter studies genetics, i.e. looks at little pieces of people to see why they are who they are. He is not, in any way, shape or form, an Ewok.

... mouth... very small window washer.
When doing DNA analysis, a common way of obtaining a sample is scraping the inside of the cheek of the person whose DNA you are going to check.

Gringott the Dwarf
There is a goblin-run bank called Gringotts in the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling.

Episode Nine

[  Read episode ]

Greetings, Josaphat. Want to have a try?
In the song "Lady Marmalade", written by B. Crewe and K. Nolan, and most recently heard on the Moulin Rouge soundtrack, there is a line that goes "Hello, hey Joe, you wanna give it a go?".

Ailbhe Leamy of afp. Later revealed by her saying "I'll bhe damned" upon seeing Westala. TILY is also an acronym (unexplained but possibly meaning "take it lower... yes!", "think I love you" or "twice in last year") used by Ailbhe just before she afproposed to Örjan Westin. Ailbhe is also from Ireland, and, just for the record, the name is actually pronounced something like Alv(uh) or Alv(er).

Villtin considered his chances. They were having eating disorders
"Slim chances" is a catchphrase of the first Lethal Weapon movie. On one occasion the dialogue goes:

Murtaugh (Danny Glover): Slim chances!
Riggs (Mel Gibson): Anorectic!

Beheading? ... he heard us...
This was inspired by an actual signing, and found in a signing report by David Chapman. The excange went as follows:

Terry Pratchett (to guy stepping up to be signed): "Crucifixion? Good..."
Fan: "Oh, God, he heard us..."

Apparently this came from Terry Pratchett overhearing a bunch of Monty Python quotes from Life of Brian and Quest for the Holy Grail.

Tertiæ fili perdutum de flirtus con fila de panificius de coitus via...
Dog latin which translates to "Third prodigal son of a fling with the daughter of the baker of fuck off". Now this is a quote with a history:

It all started when Pterry was talking about book dedications and said:

"Far More Wishes is part of a set (Best Wishes, Better Wishes, Even Better Wishes, More Wishes, Far More Wishes, Still More Wishes, Extra Wishes, A Whole New Quantum of Wishes and -- for those people with two carrier bags full of books -- Son of Best Wishes, Bride of Best Wishes, and Return of the Killer Best Wishes for 20,000 Fathoms)."

This explanation prompted afp-FAQ maintainer Nathan Torkington to reply with:

"I can't wait to see what happens when you reach the fifty book mark, and people at the head of the queue say ‘just wait a sec and I'll back the car in’. The dedications will probably be:

Fuck off
Go away
Read Douglas Adams
Get a life
Get a job
Don't you have anything better to do with your time
Son of fuck off
My god, did I really write all these damn books
Yes, by god, I do regret it now
Worst wishes
I don't know why I don't have a rubber stamp made
Look, just bugger off
I'm fed up to the teeth with banana daiquiris
I wish I had said "money"
This is the last dedication
Bloody trade editions
Oh, how cute, you have the hardback and paperback editions
Oh, and the US ones too
I'm memorising your face and your adenoidal laugh
You're next, matey
Third prodigal son of a fling with the daughter of the baker to fuck off"

Terry was very impressed by this list, and so were other readers of afp. Terry says that since this discussion appeared on the net he is now occasionally asked for specific dedications along these lines.

This, and more, can be found in the Words From the Master section of the L-space Web.

"Ah, my most pious follower..." "Yes, I am, actually..."
Marco: "The exchange was from a cut scene of a TV programme I caught, entirely by accident, on Discovery Channel (IIRC). It was a documentary about Tolkien's influence on today's fantasy writers, where among others Terry was interviewed, in connection with a signing. I don't know when or where the signing was filmed, or whether there were any afpers present."

The queue
The assembled afp. This queue bears a certain resemblance to a signing queue.

Lady Skotisplei/Newra the Moonlight Raider
(Darth) Arwen Lune of afp. Arwen used to sign her posts as "sharing a body with her evil side: Lady Macbeth". Shakespeare's Macbeth is known as "the Skottish play"... skotis plei... and "Newra" backwards is...

Newra's weapons
These are a reference to another of Arwen's Usenet signature files:

Arwen laid down her broadsword. "I must ask for the knives as well, babe." said Hammy. Arwen growled and laid them down. "And the crossbow, and the morningstar, and the axe..."
[Sir Confused-a-lot on AFT]

This, in turn, is a quote from "The E-Text" (specifically book III, chapter 6), which is a Lord of the Rings rewrite/parody written by the TEUNC, the Tolkien Eccentric and Unusual NutCases, and serialised on the newsgroups and rec.arts.books.tolkien.

Arwen the Warrior Babe featured in the E-Text because at the time of writing there were rumours that in the films, Arwen was going to join the fellowship at some point and fight. As it turned out, these rumours were not without substance, but director Peter Jackson changed his mind and Arwen was edited out in post-production.

Anyway, featuring Newra the Warrior, based on Arwen the Warrior of the E-Text, and thus bringing another Arwen-Warrior-joined-the-fellowship to a vaguely Lord of the Rings-related story, is possibly Marco's most obscure reference yet. Marco himself says that he likes the connection so much that he's going to pretend it was intentional.

Back | Chapter Two

If you have an annotation, or you want to contact me, the maintainer, about anything else related to the Tale or the AWVF, you can do so at

This page © Elin Rosén 2002 | The tale © the authors.