“Ale! Ale for my good friends here!”
The innkeeper brought five tankards of frothy ale over to the table where Emma and her four companions were sat. She had been completely correct about Fernell’s drinking privileges and, for this one night only, his drinks were on the house.
“Keep them coming, sir!” Emma shouted as the innkeeper turned away.
She took a very large draught of her ale and set the tankard down with a satisfied sigh. Weiss cleared his throat and pointed at his upper lip.
“You have a moustache,” he said.
Emma ran her tongue over her upper lip, licking away the froth that had collected there. She then noticed that Kain hadn’t touched his tankard. Of course, he doesn’t drink. A rare occurrence in this land, a man who doesn’t drink. She downed her tankard and snatched up the spare drink before anyone else could even think about it. She banged the tankard on the table for silence and then held it over her head as though proposing a toast.
“I propose a game,” she said with a sly grin. “A drinking game of sorts. I’d wager I can out drink every one of you and still not be hung over in the morning. I call it Last Man Standing, only it will be woman in this case.”
She stared around at the four men, waiting to see who would accept her challenge. Kain, she knew, would not be taking part in the frivolities which, considering the state he had left the infirmary in, was probably for the best. He had two black eyes, a small cut across his forehead and his torso was mottled black and blue. He seemed a little concussed in Emma’s professional opinion though thankfully he had stopped seeing the badger several hours ago. Fernell banged his fist on the table and grinned.
“I’m game,” he grinned. “Innkeep! Three more over here if you would! We need to catch up with our little friend here.”
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but OK,” Weiss agreed, gulping down his ale.
“I won’t say no to a contest,” Luwys grinned.
The innkeeper brought over three more tankards as Luwys and Fernell knocked back their drinks to even things out with Emma. Emma herself felt very confident; she was a practiced almost alcoholic and hadn’t had a hangover in nearly four years, at least not that she remembered. The four of them grasped their tankards and clanked them together.
“Cheers!” they said in unison.
It didn’t take long for the innkeeper to get sick of bringing drinks over every five minutes, so after the third call from Fernell he brought over a huge tray that took up the entire table. There were twenty four tankards in total and Emma eyed them all greedily as a little foam tricked down the side of one tankard. Luwys already seemed to be feeling a little light headed and had started talking very quickly.
“You know I once met a girl when I was young,” he slurred. “She was flainty as a dower and betty to proot…no wait that’s not right is it?”
Emma nearly spat her mouthful of ale over him in her amusement and started to choke on it instead. She managed to swallow the ale before succumbing to a fit of coughs.
“By the Gods,” she spluttered. “Another! I need to wash that one down.”
By the time the tray of tankards was finished, Luwys had spiralled into depression as Emma and Weiss were just starting to feel a little drunk. Fernell seemed fine apart from a hilarious bout of hiccups – hilarious, that is, to his drunken companions.
“She left me!” Luwys wailed. “For a taller man!”
Emma grasped his shoulder and shook him roughly.
“Hey come on, Luwys,” she slurred. “You’re a great guy right? What you lack in height you make up for in personality. She doesn’t know what she’s missing, right?”
Luwys nodded and sniffed loudly. He leaped to his feet, wobbling slightly on the stool he was standing on.
“You’re right,” he agreed. “I’m Luwys the bard! I can have any girl I want…oof…!”
Luwys teetered off his stool and landed on the floor with a loud thud.
“I’m OK!” he called drunkenly.
And with that the table erupted with laughter. Fernell called for more drinks and another tray was set down for them after the previous tray had been removed. The innkeeper looked less than impressed with the drunken party, but he couldn’t well refuse them after they had bought rooms. After yet two more ales, Luwys had managed to drink his way through his depression and was back to talking nonsense, though he couldn’t quite seem to focus on where anyone was. Emma was starting to feel very friendly, a phase she often went through when drinking, and couldn’t wait to tell everyone how wonderful they were.
“You guys are fucking brilliant,” she slurred and leaned on Luwys. “Luwys, you’re just…pff…you’re just…” she sloshed ale over herself and stared down at it stupidly. She then began to giggle. “You know what? Soggy bread.”
Weiss got the joke and spluttered with laughter, nearly pissing himself when Luwys fell face first into the table with a loud smack. Emma pointed at the sleeping dwarf erratically.
“He’s lost! He’s out!”
Kain emitted a loud and exasperated sigh and Emma stuck out her bottom lip at him.
“Aw, Mr Grumpy,” she mocked. “Get a drink down you, have a little fun. Look, we’re having fun.”
Kain opened his mouth to speak but Fernell cut across him with a suggestion.
“What if I take him out to meet some nice ladies,” he said without hiccupping. “That’ll be fun for him.”
“Yes!” Emma squealed.
Luwys jumped about a foot in the air.
“Wha-happened?” he asked stupidly, igniting more bouts of laughter from Emma and Weiss.
Fernell dragged Kain to his feet and dragged him off to flirt with just about any woman he could find. That left Emma, Weiss and Luwys with a tray of sixteen full tankards. Luwys staggered to his feet and announced that he was going to bed.
“My wife will be wondering where I am,” he said certainly.
“You haven’t got a wife,” Weis sniggered.
And then Luwys passed out again. The innkeeper strode over muttering angrily, threw the drunken dwarf over his shoulder and carried him to his room. Emma and Weiss snorted with laughter, sloshing ale over their clothes and then over each other. The two of them looked at each other with sly grins, as if they could read each other’s thoughts had had been thinking alike. Hey split the last sixteen drinks between them and sat poised to drink.
“Three, two, one!” Emma cried.
After one they downed their ales then slammed down their tankards and picked up the next and began gulping down the contents. Weiss managed three before he could take no more, Emma downed five before admitting defeat.
“Hey, look at Fernell,” Weiss sniggered.
Emma followed his wobbling, blurring finger to the tall figure of Fernell. He had a woman attached to his face and the two of them were really going for it. Emma snorted in disbelief.
“She’s kissing a corpse,” she howled. “I’d rather kiss you, least you look alive.”
“That’s b’cause I am,” Weiss nodded.
He belched loudly and looked very surprised with himself. Emma snorted and watched as Kain wobbled towards them, although that was probably just her vision wobbling, not him. He sat down haughtily and frowned at the two drunkards.
“What?” Emma asked gormlessly. “Are you not having fun?”
“I think you’ve had enough to drink,” Kain said sternly.
He picked up the tray and took it back to the bar.
“We know we’ve had enough,” Emma informed him.
“Aye, can’t drop another drink,” Weiss agreed.
Kain returned to the table but did not sit down. He glared down at the two of them, a look of utter distaste on his face – not that Emma could tell, all she saw was a blur.
“Stop cavorting with him,” he violently jabbed a finger a Weiss. “And go to bed.”
Emma snorted and grabbed Weiss’ shoulder.
“Fuck off,” she slurred. “We’re having a good time and you’re just…”
She stuck her tongue out at him, then squealed as the muscular man picked her up at started carrying her to her room. She squirmed furiously but couldn’t seem to get free.
“Put me down you fucker!” she spluttered. “I don’t want to go!”
Kain paid her no mind and carried on walking. A hand clamped down on his shoulder and he turned to Weiss.
“Put her down,” he managed to say.
He tried to punch Kain, but in his drunken state his fist didn’t even reach the young man. Kain grabbed Weiss’ shoulder and dragged him out of the tavern and into the living quarters. He pushed Weiss into his room and slammed the door shut quickly, then entered Emma’s room and dumped her on the bed unceremoniously.
“Now go to sleep and stop pissing about!” he snapped.
And then he was gone, slamming the door behind him. Emma had to admit, she did feel suddenly very tired. Her eyes fluttered as she fought to stay awake. She wanted to go back into the tavern and sing and drink and make merry with Weiss. But the urge to sleep was too great and she drifted into a very uneasy slumber.
© Jessica Wiles, 2013