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Old 05-12-2004, 09:50 PM   #175
Spectre of Capitalism
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: Battling evil bureaucrats at Zeta Aquilae
Posts: 982
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With the exception of Vogonwë the rest of the Food-N-Drinkship roundly rejected Gateskeeper's suggestion that they leave Soregum (and Earnur for that matter) in the busy lane where he lay until morning, so Gatesy grumblingly helped the others lug the insensate hobbit and the comatose Warden of the Oddly-Shaped Disputed Bit back into the Nancing Bow-ny and up to their second-floor rooms. Since the drunken Soregum would probably be sleeping off his cups for at least 12 hours, Gateskeeper volunteered to share the room with Soregum and "take care" of him through the night. Unlike his former proposal, this suggestion was quickly accepted by the group -- the women gaining yet another measure of esteem for Gateskeeper for appearing to be a caring soul, and the men glad to not have to sleep with the customary clothespin over their noses to block the black breath of the inebriated shorty. Gateskeeper valued only the fact that his movements and conversations later on would be noticed by no one. And that he'd save half on the room.

Once the soused had been put to bed, the remainder of the lets-make-the-best-of-it-ship returned to their table refreshed and in a much better mood, having settled their meal-tab arguments by relieving Earnur's pockets of the costs of the evening's repast. After an hour of stories and songs (during which Orogarn Two reprised his Marrow-Bones performance for the locals) the exhausted travelers walked, slogged, and crawled away to their rooms for the night, grateful for a chance to rest. Except for Gateskeeper who just waited for everything to grow still from his berth next to Soregum. And while he passed the time he began thinking, never a safe thing to do for an evil character battling with his good side.

"We must have the Entish Bow! Victory over the Pea Sea depends on it!"
"But if we steal the Bow, we lose all our friends in the whatever-ship!"
"You don't *have* any friends! No one likes *you*..."
"No one?"
"Well, maybe Mogul..."
"No, I'm lying to you. Mogul would skin a flea for it's hide and tallow."
"I'm not listening! I'm not listening!"
"You're a liar, and a thief!"
"Everyone has his idiosyncracies..."
"Why are you talking like that?"
"Like what"
"Come on, you sound like you've lost your voice whispering like that."
"It's part of the U.E.C. requirements."
"Union of Evil Consciences, local 1626, charter member, have you forgotten?"
"Oh, that."
"Anyway, there's one thing you know you can't escape."
"SPAM o-mails? I invented them, you know..."
"NO, you goody-goody twit! The Mark of Mogul, the Clozd-dheal!"
"Oops I see we've gone over-time, we have to wrap up this scene. Leave now, and never come back."
"GRRR!! Stop changing the subject!"
"Leave! Now! And never...come...back!"
"OK, OK, I'm going already."
"No, I lied again. But I'll be quiet for a bit, as long as I'm still in charge."
"That'll do for now."

Fortuitously for Gateskeeper, the sounds of preparation-for-sleep (and a small argument between Vogie and Pimpi) had died away, and it was time for Gateskeeper to slip out into the night. Once he was comfortably out of earshot of the Nance, he fired up his cell-antir, as he was long overdue for a report to Mogul. He was just about to hit the send button when he tripped over a slightly-less-dark form in the surrounding blackness.

"Hi, now guv'nor," said the small, sleepy whatever-it-was, "make way for a poor 'alfling amputee.." Gateskeeper, stepping back, saw a hobbit, apparantly on crutches. "Who are you, and why are you out on the streets so late?" Gateskeeper demanded, brushing the detritus of the street off himself and hiding his cell-antir from curious eyes. He noted that the hobbit seemed much shorter than the average hobbit, and indeed had had both legs cut off at the knees , which now grew fur as if they were hobbit feet.

"Bill Fur-Knee, at yer service. I was just comin back 'ome after a a midnight snack. There's quite the 'ot dog vender at the edge of town, most popular thing since Lardiman's lamb stews."

Gateskeeper was instantly alert at the mention of "'ot dogs" "This vendor, was he dressed all in white?"

"Aye, that 'ee was, and 'ee 'ad two of the worst lookin' trap ponies i'd ever seen. I got one 'ee could 'ave 'ad for a reasonable price, but 'ee wouldn't 'ave nothin ter do with it. 'Ee was just lookin' fer a talkin' bow and a group o' low-lifes, if yer take me meanin', guv'nor...hi! where ye goin' so quick?"

But Gateskeeper had heard enough and was fleeing back to the Nance as quickly as his skinny legs and flowing robe would carry him. Whichever side of his personality won the battle, he had to keep that Bow (and all the other Entish parts for that matter) out of the hands of Sauerkraut at all costs...
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