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Old 11-01-2005, 03:38 AM   #287
The Saucepan Man
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The Saucepan Man has been trapped in the Barrow!
The Eye

Greedhog stood facing the Questors of the West, absent mindedly batting his unfeasibly large mace against the side of his unfeasibly regenerated leg. The Questors stood facing Greedhog, fully expecting to experience the uniquely fatal thwack of the forbidding mace at any moment.

“What’s he waiting for?” whispered Merisuwyniel to the Gateskeeper.

“Beats me,” replied the Wizard as he carefully gathered up the splinters of his staff and, holding them together, vainly attempted a re-boot.

“I fear that that is precisely what he intends to do,” pointed out Hal, their parlous state causing his formidable wit to desert him, leaving him with nothing but the obvious gag to fall back on.

But Greedhog did not attack. He merely stood there with the impatient but anticipatory air that he normally reserved for clients whose tardiness erred on the unfashionable side of late.

Soregum was situated some fifty yards behind the scene of the confrontation, ostensibly guarding the wagon containing the majority of the Entish Artefacts. But, as he cowered beneath it, his attention was caught by a sudden movement in a scorched copse some distance to his right. Turning his head, he spied a small con* of Loyers gathered among the blackened trees. They were all that remained of the cadre that had set out with Greedhog on his initial foray into the battle. And, for some strange reason that Soregum could not quite fathom, they seemed frantically to be waving at him. At that moment, he became vaguely aware that there was something that he had to do. He looked first one way and then the other and, seeing that all eyes were fixed on the confrontation with Greedhog, he beckoned them over.

Taking care not to be seen, the Loyers crept stealthily towards Soregum, their black cowled gowns providing the perfect camouflage against the blackened earth. When they reached the wagon, one of their number immediately slapped an official-looking scroll on it. Another, who went by the name of Dictum the Officious, turned to speak to Soregum.

“You are the one known as Halitosis?” he enquired.

“Er - yes,” replied Soregum, wincing at the code-name assigned to him by Môgul.

“We are here under the authority of the Dread Developer, Lord of Moredough, to seize possession of the fragments of rent Ent,” declared the Loyer. “We are given to understand that said fragments are contained within this vehicle. Is that correct?”

Soregum nodded.

“Pursuant to Article 38.2, clause 56, sub-clause mcxii of the Muddled-Mirth Civil Code, the parking of vehicles of any kind (including, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, carts, wagons, carriages, drays, buggies, curricles, tumbrels, rickshaws, wheelbarrows and the like, but excluding chariots) within two hundred yards of a confrontation between two opposing forces on the field of battle is expressly forbidden, save for the purpose of loading or unloading weaponry, armour, siege paraphernalia and the like. Sub-clause mcxiii further provides that, should either party in said battle be in contravention of sub-clause mcxii, the other party (being the party which did not previously have ownership, possession or control of said vehicle) shall be entitled to take possession of said vehicle and all items contained within it.” All this, Dictum recited seemingly without drawing breath. “In accordance with said law, we have therefore impounded this wagon and all that lies within it.”

“I see,” said Soregum. “But you should know that there is one more piece to the Ent.”

“The Entish Bow,” replied Dictum. “Yes, we are aware of said item.”

The Loyer turned towards where the Oblivious-ship stood before his Lord High Advocate and stretched out his arm. In the distance, Soregum was just able to discern a small notice fluttering through the air and attaching itself to the Entish Bow.

“I have imposed an ASBO** on the Bow,” Dictum explained. “It will now be unable to alert its mistress. Your job is to retrieve it.”

Soregum felt that he should protest but, to his great surprise, he dropped to the ground and began to crawl stealthily towards his erstwhile companions. Gradually he inched closer and closer to them, his rheumy eyes firmly fixed on the Bow-which-had-been-struck-dumb. But, when he was not ten yards from his objective, a sudden commotion broke out.


Trolls are not known for their great patience (nor, indeed, their discipline) and a company of Greedhog’s Troll-Guard had eventually (and laboriously) come to the conclusion that all this standing about exchanging wary glances with the opposition was not really their cup of tea. What they really ought to be doing, they unanimously agreed, was playing a few rounds of conkers with their enemies’ heads. And, before anyone realised what was happening, they broke suddenly upon the opposing line like a storm, beating upon helms and heads, and arms and shields, as smiths hewing hot bending iron, with howls of derision, hammers of invective and tongs of flame.

In horror, Soregum saw that Pimpiowyn, having become separated from the group, had been stunned and overborne. Merisu and the others, being fully occupied fending off the Trolls’ abusive assault, had not seen her fall, and even Vogonwë was oblivious to her fate. The great Troll-Chief that smote her bent down over her, reaching a contumelious claw. At that moment, it seemed to Soregum that time slowed to a halt - rather conveniently as it happened, as it permitted him to pay full attention to the vision that now appeared before him. There, sitting on an old, worn leather armchair and puffing away on a ridiculously long pipe, was a grey-haired, wizened old Hobbit.

“Duffer Gummidge …!” exclaimed Soregum. “But how …?”

The insanely aged Hobbit’s face creased benignly and broke (almost literally) into a paternal smile, revealing a mouth virtually devoid of teeth.

“If you remember only one thing in your life, Windsor, my son,” the Duffer slobbered gummily. “It is always to look out for number one.”

And with that, he vanished. But fortunate it was that he had appeared at that moment, for Soregum’s contempt for his father’s advice knew no bounds and the Duffer’s words had the immediate effect of breaking Môgul Bildűr’s hold over him.

“Silly old coot!” thought Soregum to himself, as he sprang forward and sped towards where Pimpi lay under the shadow of the great Troll-Chief, reaching as he went for the blade which hung by his side. Happily, time had not quite got back into the swing of things, for Soregum’s dagger had rusted over through years of disuse and stubbornly refused to emerge from its scabbard. By the time that he reached Pimpi, however, he had somehow managed to wrench it free and, flinging himself on top of her prone body, he stabbed upwards. Then did the rusty blade of Moredough pierce through the thick-skin of the Troll and plunge deep into his vituperative vitals, and his icky black blood came gushing out. As Soregum heaved Pimpiowyn to one side with his free hand, the Troll toppled forward and came blundering down like a dropped clanger. Blackness and stench came upon Soregum and, although these were circumstances which would normally be reassuringly familiar to him, they were unfortunately accompanied by a crushing pain, and his mind fell away into a great darkness.

“It’s not fair! It can’t end like this,” his thought wailed, even as it was wrenched away, and it began to sob uncontrollably within him as he desperately fought to hang onto the doubts, cares and fears which, for all their bother, at least signified life. And then even as it was dragged struggling into oblivion it heard voices, and they seemed to be crying in some forgotten world far above.

“Yawanna is coming! Yawanna is coming!”

* Con n. The collective term for Loyers. One theory has it that it is an abbreviation of conference, but most hold that it is not short for anything and that it should simply be given its common meaning.

** ASBO abbr. Anti-Sentient Bow Order

Last edited by The Saucepan Man; 11-01-2005 at 10:20 PM.
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