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Old 08-06-2003, 02:35 PM   #36
The Squatter of Amon Rűdh
Spectre of Decay
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As was so often the case during Lord Etceteron’s wanderings, the horse was bored. So far the journey had been a typical heroic outing: fraught with gratuitous danger, and as always failing to take account of the sumptuous green buffet past which they fared hourly. There were, however, certain compensations; entertaining and potentially lethal cabaret being one of them, and the last couple of days had seen enough of that to last most ordinary steeds for a lifetime. This was, however, no ordinary steed but Pinkjin of the Morose, whose capacity for facetiousness and sarcasm was legend in the stables of Dun Sóbrin.

Thinking of his misguided master drew Pinkjin’s eyes towards the source of his intoxicating sobriquet and current galloping boredom. He was sitting on a rather unconvincing hummock, picking pieces of confectionary shrapnel from his jacket and puffing on a long-stemmed ebony pipe, from which came the pungent aroma of exotic herbs. He was also talking, apparently to thin air.

‘Well, that was a jolly old set-to, what?’ He announced jovially.

It was the most pointless conflict since the War of Tomkins’ False Teeth! Has anyone stopped to work out how it got started?’ This voice was querulous and seemed formed with complaint as its one purpose. Mercifully only the Lord Etceteron could hear it, and his answer was short and to the point.

‘Where on my outfit does it say “Politician”? Such knowledge is not for I and my heroic ilk, who merely perform deeds of daring. Go and ask a cabinet minister.’

Perhaps beneath one of those dried apricots there’s a badge that says “idiot”,’ murmured the other voice, before lapsing into yet more complete silence as Earnur thrust his sword into the ground through a congealed mass of bacon rinds. He made his way over to a pile of the wealthier casualties, whom the remainder of the Ow-ship were looting in a conciliatory fashion. Their resident Poet Laureate, swelled with testosterone and despite all attempts to stop him, was telling a suitably martial story, although being a poet he had chosen the most singularly inappropriate piece of Elven history from which to recount his tale.

‘Ah, pitiful are the tales of that great battle for the Looms of the West, but we do not speak of them, save in the telling of tales of the Canon-Fodderain, which are the less grievous because they didn’t happen to us.’

‘Who does not know of the Last great battle of Dairyland?’ Earnur interjected with oddly detached manliness. His eyes were focused on a point somewhere between infinity and the tip of his nose, and he spoke in a strange, nasal monotone. ‘For it is said that when Môgul Bildűr was yet not come to a controlling interest in the Mutuals of the Noodlar, when the promise of dividends could not yet sway the minds of Men, there stood in the Wide Lands the glittering emporia of the Vaniti, bright with the garish fashions of a more innocent age. Yet Môgűl was ever cunning, and he gathered about him a great force of Korprat and other lesser Loyers, and he wrested from them their tartan troos and their fair white platforms with massive layoffs and cutbacks most grim. And so they placed one last picket, and they dressed in the best of their finery, and their medallions glittered in the sun. Where now are the hosts of Turgid? Where the legions of Pinrod? All gone down into the dust…’ He blew a large and pungent smoke ring, ‘…Man.’.

‘That is indeed how the people of Workmud tell it.’ Vogonwë replied. How we regret the loss of the sweeping collars and bright ties of Kip’r. How is it that you know so much of our great sorrow?’

‘You forget that I too come into this tale, although late in the telling.’ Earnur pulled a transparent bag from a pocket and refilled the bowl of his pipe. ‘For they also tell of Avmë Lastrolo of Dorian,who is called also Ereyu Thingy. And his daughter was Vinaigrettiel the Fair, but she’s back story, so I shan’t talk about that any more. Anyway, where was I? Ah, yes: The Battle of Unmitigated Plaid. It is said that Avmë’s heart misgave him, and for love of taste he and his folk fared not forth to the battle, but remained in their boutiques, contriving designer label knock-offs in despite of the Korprat Loyers of Môgűl. And so it was that there the ragged survivors of the Unmitigated Plaid came to find fresh and more tasteful raiment. And so was the Doom of the Noodlar stayed for many years.’

‘Indeed so we sing in Workmud,’ Vogonwë replied. By now the rest of the Gallowship were busily gathering firewood, hunting, fleecing their erstwhile enemies in crooked poker games and, in short, doing absolutely anything to avoid listening. He continued to his oddly receptive audience of one (two if we count the equine eavesdropper).

When call of battle sounded, and the flares were in the West
The folk of Dairyland marched forth, all glitt'ring in their best
And Turgid, clothed in tartan bright, nine-iron in his hand
Went treading with his golfing shoes across the troubled land.

Yet sleek-groomed Avmë sat in state, and never forth came he
For Turgid’s handicap was great, his own was only three.
And all his folk yet laboured long upon their clatt’ring looms.
They never came to Hole Eighteen, or to the Bar of Doom.

‘Beauteous words indeed, yet I hath an idea not thy own,’ observed Earnur, his archaisms slightly askew despite the weather.

‘Indeed not. It is an ancient lay of my people, and my own version is yet far from completion. It begins:
Turgid had a great big army.
Some say it was pretty balmy
To fight the Dark Lord Bildűr with a golf-club
But it was heroic, so I sing of it, that’s the nub...

Earnur inhaled a little more deeply than he had intended in sheer shock at such incompetent versification. He coughed violently and bright lights flashed before his eyes. He staggered weakly to his horse and retrieved his canteen, which he was just in the act of draining completely when a heavy object struck the bottle, sweeping it from his hand.

‘It’s only water…’ he began to complain to no-one in particular, but soon realised that his companions were staring past him at something that lay on the ground near his ruined receptacle. It was a rectangular red stone, and wrapped around it was a piece of parchment that bore a message that was terrible in more ways than one:

“U is al lamerz. No1 cares bout lame elvs y dont u get a life lol?”

Wordlessly he strode to Merisuwyniel and handed her the parchment, which was passed to each of the company in turn. Such a message could mean only one thing, and the company voiced the dreadful truth as one: ‘Trolls!’

The ensuing silence was broken only by a muted belch as a side of bacon made itself more comfortable in an unnamed heroic stomach.

Last edited by The Squatter of Amon Rűdh; 06-28-2004 at 09:21 AM.
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