I had occasion to ask myself "Who shaves the barber?" in May 2003, when Paul Jamieson, who provides the much appreciated birthday celebrations on a.f.p. with his ferrets and civil war cannon, let slip that it was his fiftieth birthday. It wasn't long before I had an image in my head of Villtin checking the sharpness of a knife and asking, with an evil grin, "How close do you want him shaved?"
Rather than let him lose without any restraints, I asked Villtin to celebrate Paul in a style reminiscent of his own. This is what he came up with.
"Hm?" Paul turns around and sees a slim, dark-haired man with a profusion of knives, swords, scythes, shurikens and other sharp implements hanging everywhere on him approaching.
"Jamie Pauleson, right?"
"Paul E. Jamison, but what..."
"Whatever. I thought I recognised you from somewhere."
The well-armed man turns around and waves. Shortly, two large men with long hair and beards, whose only differing feature is that one is red-blond and the other dark-blond, appear, rolling a huge rainwater barrel.
Paul takes a nervous step backwards but halts as the blade-fetishist turns and gives him a big, nasty grin. The big men stops in front of Paul and stands the barrel on one end before leaving again.
"I say, what is all this about? Who are you?" Paul asks.
"Oh, sorry. Villtin's the name, mercenary's the game. Those two are my associates Westala and Autopet the Varing."
"Ah." Paul hesitates. "I think I've heard of you. Weren't you the ones who..."
"Well, you shouldn't believe everything you hear. Thing is, we've been hired to take care of you, if you catch my drift."
Villtin caresses the handle of his scimitar.
An ominous creaking is heard, and Westala and Autopet appear behind a huge ballista which they're pushing up to Paul and Villtin. Their massive muscles strain to wind it up, until it stands there, silently vibrating with pent-up tension.
"Um..." Paul ventures.
"You afraid of heights?"
Westala and the Varing loads the ballista with things Paul cannot see, then, at a signal from Villtin, releases the catch. With a loud TWANG! the siege engine fires, and the load flies up in the air.
Confetti, strawberries, eggs, cakes and bottles, with small parachutes, containing Ale, Cider, Mulled wine and all the popular flavours rains down on afp. A banner floats down:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE FERRETMASTER PAUL
Westala takes out a crowbar and opens the lid of the barrel, out of which jumps a buxom young lady dressed in the barest minimum of steel, chainmail and leather. She plants a kiss on Pauls bewildered forehead and sings:
"And here's to you, Mr Jamison, AyEfp loves you more than you will know"
(Westala and Varing's basses chimes in with "Wo wo wo")
"God bless you please, Mr Jamison, Heaven holds a place for those who write"
(Westala and Varing starts chorusing "shi-" but are hushed by Villtin)
Paul stares at the now dancing young lady with very mixed feelings. "Uh, who's that?"
Villtin smiles. "A Conga-Rat. Don't worry, she's reformed."
In the background, Westala accepts a check from a handsome, sable ferret, dressed like a hobbit.
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© 2003 Örjan Westin