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Old 03-13-2006, 07:41 AM   #302
The Saucepan Man
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The Saucepan Man has been trapped in the Barrow!
The Eye

Across Muddled-Mirth, the forces of Môgul Bildûr tumbled in the wake of his final defeat. At the Mines of Trebor, the Orcish interlopers staggered about blindly in their confusion, leaderless and without direction, falling easy prey to the returning Dwarven host. In Topfloorien, the Deeds of Sale and Leaseback granted in favour of the Dread Developer lapsed and the Elves reclaimed the malls of the Salad Realm once more for themselves. In Grundor, where General Gzzmmmphllgg stood ready to launch a final, decisive assault on Minus Teeth while the Proctor neglected its defences to mourn the loss of his heir, the sun broke through the dark clouds that hung over the Wight City and scattered the host of Moredough to the four winds. In the Land of Dodgy Dealings itself, the Thingwraiths’ rehearsal of the musical number that they had planned to mark their Master’s victorious return was hastily cancelled, as the Tower Block of Barát-Höm crumbled to dust, the Red Nostril atop it twitching and sneezing as it fell.

Back in Valleyum, the Eagles of Manuël Santana soared over the Hotel Valleyfornia and on to Mount Tan-Quickly-Hill, bringing tidings of the liquidation of Môgul Enterprises LLC and the collapse of its dominant position in Muddled-Mirth. And so the celebrations were redoubled and great praise was heaped once more on the Rather-Pleased-With-Themselves-Ship.

Yet there was one who did not join in the celebrations and upon whom no praise was bestowed. His humiliation complete, Soregum sat glumly apart from the company reflecting on the ruin of his miserable life. And at that moment, just as he thought that things could get no worse, Manuël Santana addressed the assembled throng.

“My breth/sistr-en, noble Entish Questors and fellow victors,” he said, subtly yet shamelessly seizing a share in the credit for Môgul’s defeat. “There is one matter that remains unresolved. And that is the question of what to do with the Dread Developer’s accomplice and partner in crime. I speak of the Hobbit dude, Windsor Gummidge.”

“Perhaps, if we just like totally ignore him, he’ll go away,” suggested Estë-Lynn.

“But it’s like totally the law that any loose ends must be tied up when a big evil boss dude is defeated” explained Prada.

“My business partner will be only too delighted to tie up this particular loose end - for a modest fee,” piped up Kuruharan, as Chrysophylax hungrily eyed the quaking Hobbit.

“Or we could just throw him off the side of the mountain,” added Vogonwë uncharitably.

“The law decrees,” intoned Mantoes, adopting the grave tone reserved for his formal declarations, “that accomplices of Dark Lords and the like must meet their end either at the hands of their Master or in unwittingly bringing about their Master’s defeat. And it is further decreed that, if neither such circumstance prevails, then said accomplice will spontaneously expire at the very moment their Master is defeated.”

“If I may make a small observation,” said Sueim, stepping forward and dusting down his gown. “None of those events has occurred. The Dread Developer is well and truly defeated, yet Soregum remains intact. Would that not suggest that a degree of clemency may be appropriate in this case?”

“Er, like, I dunno man,” replied Mantoes. “It’s never happened before. Is there anyone present who will speak on the Halfling‘s behalf?”

“Yes,” declared an Elvish voice, yet tinged with a hint of Orcishness. “I will.”

All eyes turned to Gravlox, for it was he who had spoken.

“I stand as living proof,” continued Gravlox, “that redemption is possible, however evil a life one has led previously. There are many here who have followed the wrong path, but have since seen the error of their ways. Leninia once lured lost travellers to her Marrow Bones pad, there to feast upon their souls. But she has been accepted willingly into our company and proved her worth. The Gateskeeper too was previously an agent of Môgul, yet renounced the sign of the Cloz'd-Dheal and has served the Questors well. Sueim, the Loyer formerly known as Grrralph, was once a Thingwraith in the service of evil, yet I would have been lost without his advocacy. And Kuruharan – er – um – well, perhaps not. Still, my point stands.”

“I dig your vibes man, but the Halfling dude almost brought about a calamity of like mega proportions,” observed T-M Ulmo.

“He’s like totally gross, too,” added Chanessa. “The world would be a better place without little, fat, ugly dudes like him around.”

“And what exactly has he done to make him worthy of redemption?” enquired Hornme.

“He saved the life of Pimpiowyn,” ventured Merisuwyniel, joining her beloved in his stand. “When the Troll Chief was sure to crush the life from her.”

“He did?” exclaimed Pimpi in surpise. “Vogie, why didn’t you tell me?”

“Um, I forgot, my dear,” mumbled an abashed Vogonwë.

“Cool! That works,” declared Mantoes. “One more thing, though. Someone will need to stand as surety, to guarantee his future good behaviour.”

“I will,” replied Gravlox. “He shall serve as my squire, if that’s acceptable to you, my love.”

“Of course,” said Merisu.

“OK, I hereby declare the Hobbit dude, Windsor Gummidge, formally redeemed for a probationary period of five years,” said Mantoes. “Subject to good behaviour during that period, said redemption shall become permanent.”

And, as Mantoes spoke, Soregum began to undergo a remarkable transformation. The years of misery and shame in the service of the Dark Lord of Moredough fell away from him. His hair softened and turned a warm shade of chestnut brown. The creases on his face were erased and his cheeks acquired a healthy glow. In place of his yellowed teeth and blackened gums, there appeared a magnificent white dental array. And his pot belly contracted to the merest bulge. He was a young Hobbit once more. Not for nothing was Mantoes renowned throughout Valleyum for his profitable sideline in cosmetic enhancement.

Soregum no longer, Windsor Gummidge bowed to the Velour and then knelt before Gravlox, planting his short sword, now gleaming, in the ground.

“Sire, I thank you for the service that you have done me,” he said, “and pledge to serve you and Mistress Merisuwyniel to the best of my abilities.

And as he spoke, the last traces of Orcishness drained from Gravlox, the mercy and nobility that he had shown completing his own redemption and rehabilitation.

It was a touching and beautiful scene, marred only slightly by the sound of a nauseous Kuruharan retching in the background.

Last edited by The Saucepan Man; 03-14-2006 at 08:12 PM.
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