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Old 08-18-2003, 03:49 PM   #41
The Squatter of Amon Rûdh
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Pipe

A piercing shriek, mournful and forlorn, echoed about the camp. Various gals and fellows awoke with the icy chill of fear in their veins as the same voice then launched into a jaunty ragtime piece about fear, fire and foes, which tripped along with the ghastly cheeriness of a clown pretending not to have a coronary. Grrralph had alerted his companions.

Leaping from his blankets, and conveniently fully dressed, the Lord of Dun Sóbrin whipped out his mighty weapon and prepared to do battle. All around him were the sounds of hurried movement as his companions grabbed their arms and their price lists, and made ready for the coming fray. Already they could hear the reedy cries of the trolls as they advanced: 'Wot u flame Kewld00d 4??!!1 u is al facists!' they whined in their uncouth tongue, their voices cracking into squeaks of indignation. 'U r so gonna dye!!!111'

Etceteron's manly respect for intelligibility could withstand no further battering. He leaped forward, sword scything at a pallid neck, even as it vainly protested his unceasing combat. Its voice echoed about his heroically empty cranium, which paid it the attention it deserved.
Wait a minute! No, wait, wait: can't we talk about this a bit first? Perhaps we can negotiate. Here, you haven't even cleaned me since the last time yet!.

Reluctant or no, the blade was of Noodlarian make, and its edge was keen. It sliced through boil-studded flesh and all but severed a stick-like arm as Lord Etceteron berated the degraded creatures in strident tones. 'Thy uncouth speech displeaseth mine ears, foul spawn of the unfortunate!' he cried. 'Be silent, for thy words are unworthy of utterance!'

But some dark magic was woven about their unwashed foe. Even as axes and swords bit the undead flesh it healed again, strings of matter binding and re-attaching limbs and heads; and all the while from foetid mouths poured a torrent of empty words, their sound and fury signifying nothing: 'lol!111! I Rulz! u is lame!1!. u b tost tonite!' cried one.
'**** u u ******* ******* ******* ******** and ******** until u skweel!' screamed another, in a voice that would not be heard again in Muddled Mirth until the advent of the cult television convention. The Politically-Semi-Correct-ship fell back before the fury of this assault, muttering to one another about the cosmic folly that had given voices to these foolish creatures.

'Can you buy me some time?' muttered Kuruharan.

'Do you have a plan?' asked Merisuwyniel in breathless hope.

'No,' replied the Dwarven lord. 'But I do have six gallons of Nurse McCready's Extra-Strong Boil and Wart Ointment that I've been trying to unload. I...er...we could still come out of this ahead.'

'How I hate to hear language tortured so! It brings tears to my eyes!' This from Vogonwë, with whom nobody had the heart to debate the issue under these circumstances.

'I think I smell anchovies' announced Pimpiowyn, stabbing with a short-sword at a red-faced troll. Further along the line, Grrralph wailed ghoulishly as his blade sliced effortlessly through clammy torsos (apparently cutting before it touched them) only for the accursed flesh to heal without a mark as his steel passed through.

Only the Gateskeeper had been silent, stroking his chin as he pondered the situation. In one hand he held the message they had received, and at his feet was the stone around which it had been wrapped. He knew full well how to achieve their victory, but could not decide which suited his purpose the better: to gain the confidence, or better yet utter dependence, of his companions with an effortless rescue, or to watch them die horribly then finish off the victorious trolls. Complete user dependency on the one hand; the theft of vital magical items on the other: the ultimate win-win situation. He was inclined towards spectating until a high-pitched voice broke through his Macchiavellian reverie.

'Oi 4 eyez! U is so a geek! lol!1! thoze glases r so rubish! Wots a litl ******** like you doin on the supa hiwae?' Again a line of asterisks was pronounced with an ease that only a troll long steeped in low-grade evil can achieve. A small stone accompanied this verbal missile, and it struck him on the head, knocking his glasses from his face. At that moment the Gallowship pressed between the two adversaries, and as he scrabbled for his spectacles the Gateskeeper's decision was made. Having found his eyeglasses, he took up the stone and began to work his way around the knot of fighters.

SupaKool, alias Walter, was a troll of great might. Many were the kicks he had received that his bone-hard flesh had scarcely felt, and many was the fellowship that he had disrupted and scattered during his long and pointless career. Even now he looked forward to squashing this collection of obvious literati once he had amused himself with the inefficacy of their weapons. Of course, those are my words, not his: all that SupaKool was thinking at this moment was 'They is so gonna dy (sp?)! I rool!1! lol!!1' and much mirth did this somewhat unoriginal thought afford him.

Suddenly a large rectangular red stone flew out of nowhere to strike SupaKool in the centre of his broad back. Turning in rage he took up the parchment in which it had been swathed, and his brows knit in concentration as he read the original message received by the Gallowship.

'Oo frew vis?!' he wailed, almost apoplectic with rage. 'I iz not lame! I iz kewl!1!1'

Picking on the first fellow troll he saw (for who else would carry the secret rocks of br'ik that they use for communication, and who else would speak their secret tongue?) he began to slap it in a pathetic parody of violent rage. Soon all of the trolls had become involved in the argument, and our heroic whatever-ship were being treated to a free demonstration of a true Trollish flame-war. No words were uttered now, only gutteral grunts and amorphous howls of rage that could only be translated as strings of exotic punctuation marks. Merisuwyniel put away her nocked arrow with an air of relief; The Gateskeeper polished his glasses; Etceteron finally cleaned his sword, glad of the opportunity to shut it up; Pimpiowyn munched idly on an undisclosed snack item and Vogonwë tried to find a rhyme for 'unbelievably stupid'. Grralph's wail was definitely on the cheery side of blood-curdling misery and Orogarn sheathed his oddly greasy sword. Even the horses were looking on in bored curiosity.

The fighting went on for some hours. Lord Etceteron found some herbal tea in one of his saddlebags, and they sat around sipping the fragrant liquid as their enemies battered each other and vomited floods of unformed syllables for several hours. Eventually, though, the sun clomb above the horizon, and all was silence once more. Where the Trolls had stood there was only a stack of crumpled flat cardboard boxes filled with discs of what looked like bread covered in congealed cheese.

'So it is as the bards of Grundor tell it!' Cried Orogarn. 'Even as the sunlight touched them they have returned to the stuff of which they were made!'

'Good.' grunted Chrysophylax, finally emerging from slumber. 'I'm quite partial to pîtsar'

'That is the fabled laze-bread, on which one may sit completely still for two days and more?' asked the Elven bard unbelievingly. 'Much have I heard of it, but never have I tasted its like.'

'Well, yes. But a bit cold and manky' replied the dragon, warming up some of the residue with a well-aimed jet of flame.

And so the mighty combat was over, and once more it ended in a binge; and so it is that some heroic noblemen receive names like "The Fat". And so we shall leave our heroic heroes, as they man (and woman)-fully devour the mystic laze-bread of the Trolls. If nothing else, they will not go hungry for a good long time.

Last edited by The Squatter of Amon Rûdh; 06-28-2004 at 09:34 AM.
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Old 08-18-2003, 06:01 PM   #42
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Sting

"This thing must be brocken!!!" A terrible, high-pitched, sing-song voice echoed through the dim passageways of Marrow Bones Studios.

"What's brocken, Mother?" A pitiful, hoarse, wearied voice answered. "Let's see, it couldn't possibly be your heart, because you don't have one.'

Leninia was too distracted by the frankly shocking images on her Cell- antír to bother with reacting to the Entish Guitar's brazen insult with her usual threats of torture and death.

"This Fellow...This Gal...This thing," she finally managed to say, "they're all...they're all..."

"Idiots?" The Entish Guitar supplied helpfully.

"I don't believe it," Leninia gasped. "I wanted a real adversary. I'm the most talented dark manipulator since Phil Whack'd-her, I deserve better than this! They carry on arguments with their swords, they engage in food-fights and flame-wars, they get stuck in witty-yet-annoyingly-distracting-from-my-glorious-persona sub-plots! They..."

"Well, what did you expect from a parody, Mother? In-depth discussions of Muddled Mirth for the lithe and the cunning? Some tall dude with a long name, cool sword and a manly countenance?" The Entish Guitar interrupted.

Leninia did not answer. She was deep in thought. She could not deny that as the group of the "gallivantin' village idiots" got closer, her grip on the Entish Guitar continued to slip. Not that she was worried, naturally, but why needlessly worry the already strung-out poor piece of talking wood?

For all her insults, Leninia had grown fond of the little piece of lumber. It's wry sense of humour sometimes reminded her of her last husband, John Lemmon. A tasty thing that one was, it was only too bad that...

But Leninia was not about to give over to regretting the past. There were things to be done today, such as deciding which sort of subliminal messages to be woven into which particular song, and other regular duties of the head of Marrow Bonea Studios.

Leninia stroked the Entish Guitar's strings and cooed nonsense to it in her magical voice (the voice was like the equivalent of a dangerous dose of cough medicine), and soon enough the hapless E.G. had fallen into a deep, drug-induced slumber, like everyone else in that dark, dreary and yet no longer so distant place.

[ August 19, 2003: Message edited by: Lush ]
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Old 08-18-2003, 06:14 PM   #43
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The Eye

“What do your Goblin eyes see, Snigga?”

Soregum was addressing an Orc of small breed, black-skinned, with wide bulging bloodshot eyes. The Goblin Tracker giggled nervously and gazed at the vista before them, his eyes straining such that they seemed to be in the final stages of taking leave of their sockets.

“Hehe … er … Foodfight!” he exclaimed in a thin, high-pitched snigger, gesturing in the direction of the sun, which was cautiously peering over the crimson horizon as if afraid to look for fear of what antics the day might hold.*

“And how do you figure that out?”

“Er … hehe … um ... A red sun arises. Food has been spilt this night. Hehe”

“Yeah, foodfight.” piped up a second diminutive Orc who was hunched over on the ground before them snuffling in the undergrowth. As he stood up, he sniffed and wiped away the detritus that had become attached to his huge, dripping nose, a nose that was of such enormous proportions that his remaining features gave the appearance of struggling to maintain their rightful place on his face.

“Bacon bits, pie crusts, tomatoes, cheesë-whíz, fish sticks, tartar sauce, bran flakes, spaghetti, meatballs, Jell-ô-Squares, rice pudding, cream of wheat, Caesar salad, hamburger casserole, ice cream, deviled eggs, mashed potatoes, onion soup, barbecued ribs, and chocolate fondue are just a few of the foodstuffs that went flying through the air last night. I can smell ‘em all.”

And with that, he proudly hoisted his prodigious proboscis into the air and let out an almighty snort, showering Soregum with an unpleasant green gue.

“Yes. Thank you Schnozza”, muttered Soregum sarcastically, wiping the gunk from his cowled face. “What say you, Sedric?”

Soregum turned to the third Tracker, an ancient and emaciated Goblin tottering precariously on the edge of the low hill on which they stood. Predictably he sported two enormous ears, which he was absent-mindedly drilling with his gnarled fingers.

“Eh? You’ll have to speak up, sonny,” replied Sedric, raising a battered brass trumpet to one of his elephantine auditory organs. “All I can hear is the sound of seven mouths and one reptilian snout munching on a combination of bread, cheese, tomato paste, mushrooms and pepperoni ... oh, and a mournful keening.”

Soregum had had enough. Turning on the Goblins in rage, he exclaimed “Fools! May I remind you that we are on the trail of a crack team of hardened adventurers, quite the most dangerous enemies of the Red Nostril ever to have been assembled in a non-gender-specific grouping. They are unbendingly dedicated toward the Quest that they have set out upon. Do you really think that they are likely to engage in such food-related frippery?”

He shook his head, reflecting sadly on the fact that, of all the Orcs in Mordough, the only Trackers with any hint of a reputation that he had been able to find had been these three sorry specimens. And they had proved utterly useless and, as matters had turned out, quite unnecessary. Tracking the His-and-Hers-Ship had in fact proved astonishingly easy. It had simply been a matter of following the trail of apple-cores, sweet wrappers, chicken bones, half-eaten doughnuts and countless other discarded comestibles, not to mention the odd hairball. Then there was the flattened and scorched shrubbery, punctuated by various swooning adolescent lizards, which unmistakably marked the passing of a Dragon of ancient and imperial lineage. Soregum was beginning to wonder whether there really was any need for his three rather irritating and undoubtedly repulsive companions.

But it was the abundant references to mouth-watering foodstuffs that had really provoked Soregum’s anger. For seven days now they had followed the non-route-specific trail of the Non-Gender-Specific-Ship with nothing to fill their bellies but depressingly bland and alarmingly sugar-free Mordough rations. Indeed, so desperate had Soregum’s predicament become that he had been compelled to consume many of the discarded eatables that marked out their route. Worse, his pipeweed pouch was beginning to run dangerously low. Once again, his mind began to wander back to a time that now seemed so very long ago, replete with well-stocked pantries and …

All of a sudden, his thoughts were scattered by an insistent rumbling, gurgling sound. Immediately, he looked around in alarm and his hand reached for the short sword at his side, before realising that the ominous sound had in fact issued forth from his own poor unfulfilled stomach.

“Pardon me!” he apologised, although his companions were far more concerned with scratching their armpits, picking their noses and sniggering and gibbering inanely than with the affairs of his bowels.

Soregum turned to his steed, which provided yet another reminder of his miserable predicament. To his utter shame, he had to suffer the humiliation of riding on perhaps the least fearsome beast imaginable. Granted, the mount with which he had been furnished came with all the standard Mordough features – jet black hide, piercing red eyes, flaring nostrils – but when all was said and done she was still a pony. And a tiny one at that, he thought to himself, named Twinkle, of all things! Hardly a beast fit for an emissary of the greatest Dark Lord ever to have cut a cunning deal.

Sighing in resignation, Soregum mounted the dishearteningly cute beast and spurred her on with as much enthusiasm as he was able to muster in the circumstances. Whinnying in complaint, for her rider was just as much a disappointment to her as she to him, Twinkle began to trot delicately in the direction of the He-She-and It-Ship, following a line of Gil-Bar wrappers. After some hours, Snigga, Schnozza and Sedric roused themselves from their earnest bodily crevice investigations and set off on foot in pursuit, quickly overtaking Soregum and the daintily treading pony.

Thus continued the journey of the small, dark, cloaked figure, his little pony and the three misshapen Trackers.

* Astute readers may have noticed that the foodfight in fact took place to the west of the position of Soregum and his companions, rather than in the direction of the rising sun to the east, but does such trivial detail really matter in a tale of such epic proportions as that which is relayed in these documents?

[ August 21, 2003: Message edited by: The Saucepan Man ]
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Old 08-18-2003, 09:27 PM   #44
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Sting

SAVE - H.O.U.S.es (Hyenas of Unusual Size) show up to scavenge the battlefield, drawn by the scent of wasted bacon and flamed troll.

(Actually, I think that says it all, don't you? I mean, I may never actually need to fill in this "save", y'know? Just let your imaginations fill in the blanks... well, except for the H.O.U.S.es, of course. We all know what those look like...what WAS Peter Jackson thinking, anyway!?...Ah, but I digress. So, without further ado - Cue the scavengers. Stage Left.)

The effects of the Trollen (Trollish? Trollesque?) laze-bread on the This-And-That-Ship was everything that was promised, so it is not surprising that even the sharp but shapely Elven orbs of Merisuwyniel were slow to detect the arrival of certain skulking forms flitting through the trees and silently soaring overhead. Even the sound of a couple of firkins being rolled into place and tapped failed to distract the party from their post-troll feast stupor.

But as lovely Pimpiowyn reached and lanquidly pluck a mushroom from the congealed remains of Suprakool, a dark, gliding shadow fell across the sodden box. With the greatest of effort she tipped her glistening chin to the sky and commented, to no one in particular "Huh. Vultures."

At that same moment a polite cough from behind drew her attention to the pack of H.O.U.S.es (Hyenas Of Unusual Size) which now surrounded the Gallowship. The largest H.O.U.S. of them all then stepped forward, nodded towards the stack of laze-bread and asked politely, "Uh, were you going to finish that?"

[ August 20, 2003: Message edited by: Birdland ]
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Old 08-21-2003, 09:43 AM   #45
Estelyn Telcontar
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Silmaril

Before Pimpiowyn could answer in the affirmative, Merisuwyniel hastened to speak. “I think we have had all that we care for,” she said, matching the polite tone of the leader’s voice. “You are welcome to help yourself to the rest.”

“Thank you!” he replied, motioning his followers to approach with a turn of his mighty head.

“Noooooooooo!” the half-hobbit maiden cried out, unwilling to give up the foodstuffs, difficult as they might be to digest.

Her betrothed awoke and, seeing her being threatened, as he thought, by wild beasts, reached out for his arrows. The ensuing scuffle aroused the others of the Itship, and thus the peaceful cooperation of different races which could have been sealed at their first contact was ruined by a misunderstanding, as has so often happened in the history of man/Elf/Dwarf/Hobbit-kind. (Oops, sorry, Chrys – Dragonkind too)

Arrows flew, swords flashed, axe swung, teeth were bared (yes, those of the H.O.U.S.es as well) and it was a wonder that none of the companions was killed in the fray. Fortunately, the following flight was in the direction of their intended journey, thus providing some forward action for the plot, finally! It would not have been entirely clear to onlookers, had there been any (whatever happened to all of the people at the Bacon-Binge? Chrys? Chrysophylax Dives, do you know anything about that?? Isn’t it enough that Orogarn lost his city without losing his people as well???), which side was fleeing and which pursuing.

In a mad attempt to do something, whether it made sense or not, Orogarn jumped onto the back of one of the H.O.U.S.es; it ran even faster, trying to shake him off. He clung tightly, though it headed for a cliff which appeared mysteriously before them. In the struggle, the chain with his crystal pendant loosened and fell off, just before the beast plunged over the edge of the cliff, into a river below. This raging water was marked on no map of the country and indeed there was no one who knew its name.

Those of the Itship who had thought practically (yet femininely, as Merisuwyniel did) had mounted their horses and were close behind. They gasped in distress upon seeing the son of the leader of Grundor disappear before their very eyes. Vogonwë vaulted off Tweedledum’s back with a double somersault combined with a flip around the animal’s neck and ran to the edge of the cliff. There lay the crystal pendant of Orogarn; he picked it up with a mournful expression on his face and tucked it into his pocket. Perhaps it would provide him with the necessary inspiration for a funeral ode.

Since none of them had ever paid attention to Orogarn’s steed (indeed, did anyone even know its name? It might have been Brego… ) no one noticed that it had left the group to search for its master. Who knows why it had developed such a sudden liking for him, leading to that devout loyalty?

“We must try to save him!” Merisuwyniel exclaimed. “But how shall we find him? Which direction should we take? And how can we cross yon river?”

She turned an untypically helpless gaze to the man who would have been her stepfather, had her mother lived. Earnur Etceteron paused, lost in deep thought before proclaiming, “We must go down-stream! The current will carry him in that direction.”

“Nonsense!” Kuruharan objected. “No fully-armed warrior can float on water!”

“It’s possible,” Pimpiowyn piped up. “This is, after all, a fantasy quest, so you can expect willing suspension of disbelief from those participating.”

The Gateskeeper said nothing. He was familiar with the principle of willing suspension of disbelief, since he expected that of customers who bought his soft wares, trusting the full-blown promises that he made.

Vogonwë was contemplating rhymes for the funeral ode he planned, so he obviously did not agree with his beloved’s theory.

In the meantime, what had happened to their newly-found foes, you ask? Well, the H.O.U.S.es, apparently a race with strong suicidal instincts, had followed their leader over the cliff in gross overestimation of their swimming skills and so found an untimely end.

Thus was the Fellow/Galship unhindered as its members rode in search of their comrade and of a continuing plotline.
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Old 08-21-2003, 01:26 PM   #46
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Silmaril

As they rode slowly along (as the Itship was quite incapable of doing anything in a timely manner) Vogonwë lifted his voice in a melancholy dirge, extolling the virtues of Orogarn Two and lamenting his untimely demise (as, being a member of the Itship, his demise could not be timely):

O Orogarn, O Orogarn
Thy hair was so unchanging
O Orogarn, O Orogarn
Thy hair was so unchanging

It was big, in 80’s style, no matter
If that’s been out of style, for a while

O Orogarn, O Orogarn
Thy hair was so unchanging

O Orogarn, O Orogarn
You did not need a horsey
O Orogarn, O Orogarn
You did not need a horsey

You stood so tall and noble
You always walked but never hobbled

O Orogarn, O Orogarn
You did not need a horsey

O Orogarn, O Orogarn
You stood in Grungy beauty
O Orogarn, O Orogarn
You stood in Grungy beauty

To your father you did your duty
While the girls admired thy blue clad booty

O Orogarn, O Orogarn
You stood in Grungy beauty

O Orogarn, O Orogarn
Thy fashion was trend setting
O Orogarn, O Orogarn
Thy fashion was trend setting

Your shirt was green like a tree bough
And the sword on it did glow

O Orogarn, O Orogarn
Thy fashion was trend setting

O Orogarn, O Orogarn
Thy life was snuffed out cruelly
O Orogarn, O Orogarn
Thy life was snuffed out cruelly

You showed a certain lack of wit,
By taking that lemming-thing by the bit

O Orogarn, O Orogarn
Thy life was snuffed out cruelly

O Orogarn, O Orogarn
We will miss you truly
O Orogarn, O Orogarn,
We will miss you truly

We will remember you always, pal
While we use your nifty crystal

O Orogarn, O Orogarn,
We will miss you truly


“Vogonwë,” Merisu said, “don’t you think that singing a funeral lament before we are assured of our friend’s death is, perhaps, not in the best taste?”

“Perhaps not, but I cannot wash this lazey taste from my mouth,” Vogonwë replied, “and it is certainly not the best taste.”

“Whatever,” Pimpi commented, and they rode on in silence.
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Old 08-21-2003, 03:38 PM   #47
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Boots

Translator’s Note
The writings of Deeproot the Ent are interrupted at this point by a interesting treatise written by none other than Chrysophylax Dives. Thus far, this is the only known statement by a participant in these events written in response to this famous tome. Evidently, when Chrysophylax read this history he felt that in a matter or two his honor had been besmirched. Here in its (sort of) entirety is the statement of Chrysophylax Dives.

To Whom it May Concern:

Upon learning of the august efforts of the noble and scholarly Deeproot the Ent to record the magnificent deeds of the loose association of various hero-type persons, known in short as the Gallowship, I was delighted that my selfless acts of daring-do would be remembered throughout all time. However, it has come to my attention that the learned Deeproot (undoubtedly the result of deep-rooted prejudices against my fire-breathing and wood-burning nature) has cast a few aspersions in the general direction of my ancient and imperial person.

Quote:
whatever happened to all of the people at the Bacon-Binge? Chrys? Chrysophylax Dives, do you know anything about that?? Isn’t it enough that Orogarn lost his city without losing his people as well???
In this particular matter I believe that an unfair accusation has been made against me. There are a few points to be made that I believe will reveal matters in their true light.

1) I should like to point out that the reference in question occurred in the aftermath of a bloody riot where large numbers of unarmed Grundorians were massacred at the instigation of a half-halfling and her weedy boyfriend. This incident was hardly my fault. It also sufficiently explains the subsequent absence of onlookers, spectators, witnesses, bystanders, sightseers, rubber-neckers, and Peeping Toms. Everyone in the general area had been ruthlessly butchered by the gallant and intrepid Questers.

Translator’s Note
A long discourse on various courageous and underappreciated acts by Chrysophylax Dives is omitted in this manuscript. It contained many references that proved difficult to verify, and there are some authorities who feel that much of the information contained in the omitted section flirts with the nether-regions of dishonesty. The statement resumes with Chrysophylax’s second point.

2) With regards to the unfortunate destruction of Minus Teeth, I have stated in many different places that it was a most regrettable accident that was not entirely my responsibility. I more than made up for this particular mishap with my glorious Twenty-four Labors, which included financing the rebuilding of the Citibank.

Translator’s Note
The reference to Chrysophylax’s bankrolling the reconstruction of the Citibank is murky at best. Unfortunately, the records of the rebuilding of Minus Teeth are such a morass of red tape, committee reports, contractor’s excuses, demands for payment, death threats, various members of the Board of Directors loudly accusing each other of all sorts of depravity, hidden legislation to defraud the merchants of the New Great Mall of Missing Dentures, litigation from the merchants of the New Great Mall of Missing Dentures when they found out about the Government’s little scheme, the gleeful gloating of the honorable Judge who heard the case because it gave him an opportunity to stick it to some of the politicians who had given him a great deal of trouble back in the days of his confirmation hearings, the obituary for the unfortunate Judge whose body was found the next day in a sack in the river, the desperate fumblings of the Proctor in an attempt to appear to be "doing something" about the woeful lack of progress being made in the construction, tabloid articles regarding the embarrassing incident when the Proctor was caught in flagrante delicto with his secretary, the impeachment proceedings of the Proctor by the Board of Directors, the hilarious accounts of the disgrace of the Board of Directors when a late-night panty raid went horribly awry (which generally proved the earlier accusations that the members of the Board of Directors had made against each other), the documented evidence of an understanding reached between the contractors and the merchants of the New Great Mall of Missing Dentures to make the government pay through the nose for the rebuilding, *deep gasp for air*, the execution notices for the contractors and the merchants after the Proctor found out about it, strikes by the workers because they were not getting paid, strikes by the military because they were not getting paid for suppressing the workers, bills at posh restaurants to the account of the Proctor for $15,000 martini lunches, numerous secret payments to a mysterious "Madame X" (the significance of which is still debated in most circles), reports by the police of sightings of a winged lizard-like monster raiding the bank vaults in the middle of the night, and complaints by the city manager that while the new Palace of the Proctor was finished the rest of the city languished in a general state of dilapidation, that it is really impossible to discern what happened, or indeed, how the city was rebuilt at all.

The remainder of Chrysophylax’s statement is an elegy on his own heroics during his dubious Labors, which has little to do with the story at hand. Said story will now be resumed forthwith.

[ August 22, 2003: Message edited by: Kuruharan ]
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Old 08-25-2003, 08:38 AM   #48
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Silmaril

The Fellow/Galship rode alongside the unknown river for days, always looking for signs that Orogarn might have survived his fall, but they found nothing. It was fortuitous that the river flowed westwards, so that they were able to travel in the direction for which they were bound while still keeping up the illusion of searching for their comrade.

“We draw nigh to the land of your father,” Merisuwyniel remarked to Pimpiowyn. “Are you familiar with it?”

“I was last there as a child,” she replied. “I remember nothing of it, yet I long to see it and to dig for taters – I mean, for my roots.”

They stopped riding, for the river took a bend and now obstructed their path. Wide it flowed before them, and it was impossible to fathom its depth. No bridge nor ford (nor general motor boat) could be seen, nor was there a ferrary nearby.

“Alas, that Orogarn is not with us!” exclaimed Merisuwyniel. “He, being trained in the arts of dental construction in Minus Teeth, would certainly have known how to build a bridge over this river.”

“What we need is a boat,” Etceteron offered with his usual perceptiveness.

“But there is no boat here,” said Pimpiowyn, expert at stating the obvious succinctly.

“‘Boat’ rhymes with ‘float’,” mused Vogonwë helpfully.

“Chrysophylax and I could fly to the harbour of Missland, where the expert shipbuilders live,” Kuruharan suggested suddenly. “We could purchase plans for building a chip – I mean, ship - there.”

“No need to spend money on plans,” interrupted Gateskeeper. “I can search for them on-a-line for free.” He proceeded to rummage through his baggage, finding a string which bound documents together. “I’m sure there is something… Ah, here it is! ‘The Guaranteed Unsinkable Ship!’”

Eagerly the others gathered around him, thankful for his apparently unselfish help.

° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° °

Weeks later, with many setbacks, crashes and costs for materials that they hadn’t expected at the planning stage, their boat was finished. It looked good, thanks to the nice surface, so they boarded without any doubts. If it seemed a bit wobbly, what with luggage, horses and other paraphernalia, they attributed that to their lack of knowledge of seafaring ways. Kuruharan refused to join them, choosing rather to fly across on Chrysophylax. Soon they were on the other side, waiting for their companions to arrive.

At first they revelled in the luxury deck, enjoying the food and telling entertaining tales. But after some time, Pimpiowyn became impatient, wanting a glimpse of their goal. She ran to the front of the boat, leaning over the railing and spreading her arms wide in a gesture of welcome to the land that lay before them. Vogonwë, fearing for her safety, rushed to hold her. That was too much for the craft – it began to lean forwards, then to sink slowly but inexorably.

The members of the Itship rushed about helplessly, seeking for lifeboats or at least life vests. They now realized that there had been only one, and it was already in the water, with the Gateskeeper rowing toward the shore. Merisuwyniel kept her wits about her, but though she knew the Entish Bow would float, she doubted that it could hold her above water, much less the others as well. Her clothing was practical (yet feminine) on land, but not at all suitable for water sports. Would their quest come to an untimely end? Would she and her comrades drown in the murky floods? Could the horses swim? Would the Bow become water-logged and sink? And would she ever get the mudstains out of her blouse?

Just as she thought that her life was over, she heard someone cry, “The Sea-Gulls are coming!” Chrysophylax had finally aroused himself to save them, at an exorbitant price, of course, but before he could do so, huge birds came flying low, grasping them in their claws and carrying them to the shore. There they lay, gasping for breath and hardly able to thank their unexpected saviours. The fair fowls had flown away with nary a thought for reward, leaving Merisuwyniel and her companions grateful, though Chrysophylax and Kuruharan were disappointed at the lost opportunity for monetary gain. The Gateskeeper used the moment of confusion to rejoin them as if nothing had happened.

There they sat, as dirty as the earth upon which they had taken place, thereby almost invisible to all but the keenest eyes. The sound of thunder prompted them to look up at the sky, hoping for a welcome shower, but not a cloud could be seen. By the time they realized that the only cloud near them was made of dust and approaching rapidly, the riders were almost upon them.

Merisuwyniel stood bravely and proudly, despite her bedraggled appearance, and shouted, “What news of the Mike, Riders of Soreham?”
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Old 08-25-2003, 03:39 PM   #49
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Sting

When Earnur had mentioned boats he had never envisaged the weeks of construction that had gone into their ill-fated cruise liner. He had, of course, meant the pencil-thin coxed twelves that he had first encountered on the turgid waters of the Tame River in distant Morbîrsluv*, city of knowledge.

Naturally he had hoped that his many years behind the oar, during which he had developed his fine sword-arm and high alcoholic tolerance, would finally come in useful. The plans, however, made no mention of oars, manned womaned or even Elved; although they did appear to include two bars and a section labelled Dûtî Frë. On the face of it this seemed more than a little superfluous for a fifteen-minute journey, but according to Harlindon and Wolf's design it was essential if vehicles or horses were to be carried. True to his new-found sobriety he stocked the bars with water, various flavours of lemonade and some alcohol-free horse linament that Kuruharan had sold him, before rewarding himself with a nice cup of scented herbal tea.

The crossing had been mostly uneventful. The usual massive orange whirlpools and swirling fractals had sported delicately with periwigged Nereids in the limpid purple waters of the river. The sky had rung with the gentle close-harmony singing of countless badgers, and although at one point the unsinkable boat had appeared to founder like a lump of granite he was certain that this had been an hallucination. Why would giant seagulls rescue him from drowning? How, indeed, could they lift a man in full armour? No, only the wrong sort of herbs in one's tea or an undigested nocturnal feast could cause such bizarre visions. He felt a brief stab of pity for anyone who could be convinced by so feeble a device as he wrung out his hauberk.

Fortunately the oilskin wrappings and Pinkjin's extraordinary aquatic ability had saved the priceless herbs of Dun Sóbrin, and some freak eddies in the current had taken care of the larger bar. He had time to fill his pipe from a random pouch and grab the ersatz Martini he had saved from the titanic wreck before the advent of the Riders of the Mike and the next phase of the trip.

~~~~~~~~~~~
* The location of this ancient city of learning and culture is unclear. Indeed in many accounts the name appears to refer to two distinct places. The literal modern English translation is 'Bridge of the Oxen'

Last edited by The Squatter of Amon Rûdh; 06-28-2004 at 09:39 AM.
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Old 08-26-2003, 08:05 AM   #50
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Shield

The Riders of the Mike thundered down upon the Itship, the pounding hooves now deafening, the billowing dust raised by their stamping choking the air, the very ground trembling with the force of their passage. The Riders galloped past the bedraggled adventurers, then looped around, enclosing them in an ever-tightening circle.

The Lord of Dun Sóbrin swayed on his feet as he watched the circling horsemen. Closing one eye and squinting the other down tight in an attempt to restore equilibrium, he suspiciously eyed the half-empty cocktail glass which he had heroically managed to rescue even in the confusion of the shipwreck and the airlift of the Gulls. Not a single drop had been spilt, and a colorful miniature parasol was still cocked at a jaunty angle on the rim of the glass.

‘Where’s that music coming from?’ asked Pimpi.

‘You hear it too?’ asked Grrralph.

A dramatic orchestral swell rose above the thunder, complementing it, lending it an air of grandeur and portentousness where it might otherwise have seemed as threatening as a mounted Springle-ring at a First Planting fair. Without realizing it, the members of the Gallowship were suddenly gripped by the aching loneliness of the plain, the simple joys and daily pains of a hard life carved out of a rugged country. They felt the freedom of the wind in their hair at full gallop, became drunk on the smell of sweaty, lathered horseflesh and the rich tang of equine droppings returned to feed the wild green fields in a cycle that had repeated itself for Ages of Man and Elf. They felt the inexorable bowing of their knee joints, and their quadriceps and hamstrings throbbed with the soreness of long hours spent in the saddle, day after day, week after week, year after endless year.

It soon was clear that many of the Riders of the Mike were playing instruments as they rode – cellos and Fraûg horns, violins and violas, drums and cymbals. Those not playing chanted in a strange, unintelligible, but nonetheless pleasing tongue. The overall effect was somewhat spoiled by a rather thin bass arrangement, but then the Itship noted three riderless horses to which the smashed and broken remains of two double-basses and a tuba had been lashed, and the mournful effect of the music was redoubled.

The Riders tightened the circle as the melody built towards a crescendo. One hapless cellist grew dizzy and tumbled from his mount with a twang of snapping strings, but his fellow Riders, all battle-hardened troupers, never paused or missed a beat. The music climaxed with a ringing smash of cymbals, and on cue the Riders checked their mounts and faced them in towards the surrounded Itship.

A haunting soprano voice soared in the sudden silence. Its somber call was answered by a solo violin from somewhere in the back. The Riders lapsed into a low chanting, and the front rank of horsemen lowered their weapons at Merisuwyniel and her companions. These weapons consisted of a thin steel shaft tipped with three long prongs bent outwards at sharp angles. Each Rider gripped the shaft of his weapon with one hand, while his other held a handgrip set at a slanted angle at its base. These handgrips were held cocked near the mouths of the men, almost as if they were chanting into them. Many a foe had felt the bite of this peculiar weapon of the Sorethighhim, known as a mikestand.

One Rider, taller than the rest, edged his mount forward. A long crest of peacock feathers fanned from the top of his helm. Merisuwyniel felt a brief pang of envy and admiration for his rather glamorous headdress. The Rider lowered his mikestand, from which long colorful scarves flowed, and spoke forcefully into the handgrip in the Common Speech, ‘Who are you, and what are you doing in this land?’

Merisuwyniel absently brushed back a lock of hair which had fallen quite fetchingly across one eye and opened her mouth to reply, but before she could get a word in edgewise, a low roar like the sound of a floodwater blasting through a narrow gorge arose. There was a dark blur of motion from the back, and almost before their eyes could register what was happening, a thickly built Rider drove straight at the horseman who had spoken. The charging Rider leapt from his horse and exploded into the speaker with a square, hard hit that sent both rider and mount flying. They flipped over twice, rebounded off a nearby boulder, and flopped violently onto the hardpacked earth in a sprawl of limbs, feathers, and harness.

‘Whoooo!’ whooped the new Rider. He was powerfully built, and his thick, long legs were so bowed that he was able to straddle both horse and rider as they cringed in the dirt. ‘Whoooo!’ he added for good measure. He wagged a thick finger in their faces. ‘Yoman, you know you can’t come up in here greetin’ these fools in Westestosterone, *****!¹ You know it’s the will of Théboleggen King that don’t nobody, I mean NOBODY, enter the gates of Improvas if they ain’t down with how we rap in our house! That ain’t new, baby!’

Merisuwyniel demurely cleared her throat, and the giant spun on the Itship. Black eyes blazed out of the Rider’s wide face. A glistening sheen of sweat coated his hairless head and thick, muscular arms. Two thick strokes of black warpaint were smeared under each eye, and a bandage was fixed across the bridge of his nose. He had the look of a man who had recently seen battle, or maybe who was just always ready for battle. He was clad in a tunic of fine steel mesh woven with glittering rhînestones which seemed barely able to contain his bulk. The rhînestones were artfully arranged in the pattern of two curious sigils:

Vogonwë cocked his head. ‘Quickly, what rhymes with “freight train”?’ But before anyone could answer, he did it himself. ‘Migraine! Of course!’ He groped for his quill and a dry scrap of parchment.

‘Who are you?’ asked Merisuwyniel, allowing a rippling golden forelock to fall fetchingly across her eye once more. Few mortal men could meet those sparkling eyes for long without feeling it in their scabbard, but the Rider seemed focused and unaffected.

‘Who am I? Who AM I? I’m Érry son of Tait the Terrible, Middle Lhinebhacker of the Quexchinmike, man, that’s who I am. Who the **** are you? You can’t come tippy-toein’ up here heckling me in my kitchen! You just entered Érry’s Equestrian Event of Pain! Your ***** must be crazy!’

Etceteron sipped at his cocktail. ‘This, I guess, is the speech of the Sorethighhim, for it is like to this land itself, wild, untamed, and full of dirt.’

‘But does anyone here speak it?’ asked Merisuwyniel.

‘I never bothered,’ replied Kuruharan. ‘Why should I? These Horse Lords never have more than two pennies to rub together. Always looking to trade chickens or “special fertilizer” for good merchandise. It likes to make me sick.’

‘A few more of these and I can do a rough approximation of it,’ said Etceteron, draining his glass. ‘But under the circumstances...’

The Lord of Dun Sóbrin threw down the empty glass and gripped the haft of his blade. A low growl began to build in Érry’s throat. The chanting of the Riders grew louder and more urgent. Things might have gone ill then, but the Gateskeeper sprang between them, adjusting his spectacles, and said, ‘I think I can help.’

He raised his staff to his lips and began to speak into it in the manner of the Sorethighhim.

___________________________
¹ The language of the Mike is a strange and salty tongue which may sound harsh and violent to modern ears. As in other parts of this translation, asterisks have been used to shield the Innocence of young and impressionable readers.

[ August 26, 2003: Message edited by: Mister Underhill ]
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Old 08-27-2003, 11:13 AM   #51
Thenamir
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Sting

Gateskeeper, as in the incident of the trolls, was knowledgeable in many languages ancient and current. From the common languages of Muddled-Mirth he seldom strayed, but could at need negotiate in the cryptic Sea Language of the Eunuchs he had long battled. He was even versant in the ancient dinosaurian dialect of Kho'bal, for their kind was not then extinct, nor were the main of their frames yet decayed unto the dust.

"Yo, don' be talkin' that **** to my posse, dawg!" said Gateskeeper to the Middle Lhinebhacker in a voice laced with a healthy dose of bad attitude, pronouncing the asterisks with just the right amount of flying spittle. "Yo' don' know pain 'till yo' dis deez bad homeys. Dey'd knock yo' head clean off if yo' could just stan' up strait on yo bo-legs!" The music of the riders, which had been sounding an ominous melody rising to a crescendo, was suddenly silent, in shock that so small a man would dare challenge...him.

Érry son of Tait the Terrible had never had anyone address him thus. Even the leaders of the Mike had fearful respect for Érry. His job was to keep even the mighty among the Sorethighhim from straying from the laws of the land and the will of their king, and many were the bruiséd among this Sorhéd of the Mike because Érry had caught them in some minor misdeed with a flying tackle. One rider, his arm in a sling, was the victim of Érry's gentle correction when he tried to clean his spear without the required spear-mint polish.

When the music resumed after a couple of beats of silence, it was subtly changed -- no less triumphant and sad than before, but with a thumping rhythm that seemed to shake the ground, and odd noises that sounded much like the spasmodic screetches of a drowning cat -- Érry's favorite music to tackle by. Érry's eyes grew narrow as he regarded Gateskeeper up and down, seeing in him only a skinny n'erd, the Sorthighhim term for the weak and craven souls with poor fashion taste. "Yo' could'n even clean my stable, white-trash geek-boy. Don' make me op'n up a fresh can o' medieval on yo butt, 'cause when Érry's th'name, pain's th'game! Whooooo!!" Érry finished with a flourish, finger in the face of the bespectacled man with the bad haircut. Gateskeeper did not flinch, but the chanting of the riders subsided a bit, in a musical embodiment of the phrase, "Guess he done tol' you, sucka!"

Vogonwe listened carefully to the challenge unfolding before him, trying furiously to write down all the new words he was hearing, in case any of them might provide a rhyme when he was otherwise stuck, marvelling at the Gateskeeper's command of language. The Lord of Dun Sobrin kept his hand to his sword in pretense of being ready to attack, when all he fervently wished was for Érry to use that bulging bicep to punch Gateskeeper's pimply face. Still, he had to give Gateskeeper points for courage, even though Érry was about to squash him to jelly -- this was the second time in as many subplots that Gateskeeper had intervened to save the It-ship from destruction, and Earnur knew he owed him big time. Even Merisu looked with fresh awe (for she had none left over from the last time) at the skinny geek kid, and though her pure heart was still pining for the loss of her beloved Gravlox it skipped a beat beholding the raw bravery before her.

Gateskeeper, of course, was nothing of the sort. Though the It-ship still did not know it, he was a wizard of some power, and knew he had the upper hand (and the lower one too for that matter). The very air that filled the distance between their locked eyes seemed to smoulder as he quietly folded his glasses and placed them in their case in his shirt-pocket, next to his three quills in their leather pocket-protector. Gripping his staff, he allowed a tense beat to pass before he spoke his challenge, "Well c'mon, then, girly-man, bring it!" There was collective gasp among both the Sorethighhim and the It-ship as they backed up a few paces. Érry uttered a loud growl as by blind instinct he dropped to a three-point stance, and Gateskeeper matched the motion, keeping the staff balanced in his free hand.

One of the riders called out, "Down!" "Set!" "Hut HUT!" Upon hearing the second "hut" Érry detonated from his position towards the Gateskeeper in a rush of muscles and chainmail. Gateskeeper too streamed out from his stance with a quickness born of outrunning disgruntled armed customers. The second before the two contestants converged seemed to slow to a crawl, each step hanging in the air like a dream-sequence of a slow-motion replay of a geriatric footrace. Yet Gateskeeper awaited his opportune moment, and just before the two of them were actually to collide, when Érry's huge bulk would cover the flash-that-always-accompanies-magic he lowered his shoulder and muttered a Word of Command-line, "firewall.exe!"

The effect was astounding. Érry bounced off Gateskeeper's momentary shoulder-mounted magic firewall as if he'd run face first into a granite monolith, flying 6 feet through the air and landing in an undignified manner on his rump, dazed. The It-ship immeidiately broke into cheers and whoops of joy as Gateskeeper did an odd dance of celebration, screaming "Uh-HUH! Who's yo' daddy?! Pain awaits, beware the Gates! Whoooo!!" The riders of Soreham looked vexed and sullen on their side, and their music became sad and defeated.

Érry shook his head to clear the effects of the sacking. Though the world was still spinning like a lazy corkscrew he saw Gateskeeper standing over him in token of conciliation, extending his hand to help him up. Upon rather unsteadily regaining his feet, Érry looked at Gateskeeper, smiled, and slapped him on the rump, saying, "nice hit, dawg. C'mon over to Improvas, lemme buy yo' an' yo' posse a drink." "I be down wi' dat," Gateskeeper grinned in return, then rejoined the It-ship on the sidelines, who welcomed him with much backslapping and dumping of cold water upon his head.
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Old 08-27-2003, 01:34 PM   #52
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Sting

Following the musical arrival of the Quexchinmike (which he had enjoyed thoroughly, it was all so...musical), Grrralph had moved forward to the front of the Gallowship to stand beside Merisu. None of the Riders bore weapons which might harm him and he had no intention of allowing the ranks of his friends... errr... acquaintances... err... colleagues to be further reduced ("...accrued benefits, including medical, dental or pension are forfeit in the event that all members of an adventuring group are slain..." Standard Form Adventurers Contract, Paragraph 122(b)(17)(ix)(d)).

Thus, he was nonplussed by Érry's testosterone-tainted challenge, and was quietly debating the merits of using a combination of his morningstar and his whip (very effective when dealing with mounted foes) in the apparently upcoming battle when the Gateskeeper threw down and dissed the Rider. He quickly threw Kuruharan a fiver, taking the odds on Érry and stepped back to watch the mayhem. It had been some time since he'd witnessed a suicide...

What followed was surprising. Not only did he lose his bet, but he heard the Gateskeeper utter a phrase of a type he had heard before. But where? Then, he was struck by a flash of insight. Ignoring the pain, he reviewed his memory of a scene on a battlefield from not long ago. His former employer had backed a group of up-and-comers in a brief war against a mysterious force. The Eunuchs of Pea-Sea had performed admirably, multitasking their way through the battle which had ended in a draw. But during the battle he had heard a cry like the phrase Gateskeeper had whispered.

Moreover, it had seemed familiar even then. His faulty memory had failed him, but he had seemed to recall from his pre-wraith past...something. Something about an anti-trust and breach of contract suit against the International Brotherhood of Môgul (yes, IBM) a subsidiary of Môgul Enterprises, LLC. Not that he had any idea what "anti-trust" meant. A suit was, of course something you wore.

Here, unsurprisingly, his memory failed him again and he filed the insight away in the "miscellaneous" folder, along with the vague memories of a rubber duck in a bathtub and a breakfast of rice crispies. Returning to the here and now after his brief detour, Grrralph found the members of the Gallowship cheering, jumping and clapping the Gateskeeper on the back. Merisu in particular seemed exhilarated, leaping about vigorously with her luxurious hair seeming to flow rather than wave in the wind. She did not notice that her bow had fallen off her shoulder.

Grrralph bent and picked it up. It seemed to vibrate in a peculiar manner. Then, to his surprise, it spoke. "Here now, are you just going to admire me or are you going to to give me back?"

He caressed the wood gently and turned reluctantly to return it to Merisu. Even as he handed it over, he recalled the words of his fellow ThingWraith from several days before. "Damn volcano, there goes our free ride.." No, not those words. Wrong story. How about: "he told me to be on the lookout for some missing blocks of wood..." Grrralph looked at the bow on the Elf's shoulder for a moment, then looked away to the east...towards Moredough...
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Old 08-27-2003, 06:29 PM   #53
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The Eye

As Grrralph gazed East, a baleful eye or three gazed darkly back at him and his companions from the depths of the Land of Shadowy Deals.

A peculiar, strangled, gurgling sound issued forth from the leather armchair where Môgul Bildûr sat intently watching the images flickering on the Sate-lantir before him and gently stroking the fluffy ball of mangy white fur on his lap. The sound gradually increased in intensity until it became a hoarse, rasping roar laden with malice. Strangely enough, it turned out to be a laugh.

“It goes well, my friends”, cackled Môgul, addressing no-one in particular.

“Indeed it doesss, my Lord”, hissed Greedhog, sensing that a reply was required and happy to provide it seeing as he charged by the hour and was keen to prolong the usefulness of his presence in the chamber for as long as was able. In any event, the only other occupants of the room were three off-duty Nazgûl and, since they were frolicking in the background practising a new dance routine that they had just worked out, it was clear to Greedhog that it was up to him to play the sidekick role in the exposition of the Dread Developer’s machinations that he sensed was imminent.

“It is clear that this company of witless fools is no match for my power,” gloated Môgul. “When the time comes, I will crush each one of them like so many non-gender specific ants.” As a Dark Lord, it was, of course, Môgul’s unassailable right to assume with unshakeable confidence that his victory would prevail, despite all precedent to the contrary. “But for now, Greedhog,” he continued “we have them well and truly ensnared. They cannot make a move but that we know of it.”

“Yesss. The ssspies of Moredough are everywhere, my liege”, replied Greedhog darkly.

“What news of Minus Teeth?”

Greedhog smiled a smug and self-satisfied smile. “The Proctor had no choice but to take the loan offered to him by our agentsss. And thanks to the dark cloud of Lítig-aî-Shön with which we have enveloped the city, his finances are ssstretched to the limit.”

“Ah yes, Lítig-aî-Shön,” purred Môgul reflecting with twisted pleasure on the power of the Black Art, known mockingly in the Common Tongue as Dispute Resolution, which had been developed and perfected over many years by the Amber Lance Chasers, the most cruel and depraved of the Loyers who worked within the deepest dungeons of the Dark Tower Block. The people of Minus Teeth, their sense of grievance heightened to the full, had been powerless to resist the evil force as it swept through their city, turning neighbour against neighbour, servant against master and citizen against governor, indeed anyone on the lookout to make a quick buck from their misfortune against anyone else that they could pin it on and who appeared to have the means to pay. The Proctor had of course presented the most obvious target for their frenzy, since it was generally assumed (albeit wrongly) by all and sundry that he was loaded and that it was all probably covered by insurance anyway.*

“Soon it shall be ours, Greedhog,” continued Môgul. “And, with it, the lands of Ethyline, Listerine and Dol Amstel. The hapless citizens will have no choice but to bow down to me as their Overlord. lol! i is so kool1 **** i rOol!!!!!!!!” he exclaimed, lapsing into the Black Speech of Slangbad in his enthusiasm.

A cacophonous clamour barely recognisable as laughter rang round the chamber again as Môgul contemplated with satisfaction the other deals that were currently in the pipeline. The Loyers of Gul-Duldor were on the verge of closing a lucrative Sale and Leaseback Deal with the Elves of Topfloorien who, judging that their time in Muddled-Mirth was coming to an end, were quite content to relinquish permanent ownership of their lands in return for handsome reward, notwithstanding its source. Môgul shivered with devilish delight in anticipation of gaining title to the luxury shopping malls and high-rent apartments of the Salad Realm. And messengers had been dispatched to the Dwarven Kingdom of Trebor, with its rich sherbet mines. Môgul fancied that the Dwarves of that land would have few qualms over accepting Moredough’s (literally) filthy lucre in return for a quick deal.

And all the while preparations were underway for the charm offensive that was to follow in the wake Môgul Enterprises’ hostile take-over of the lands of Muddled-Mirth. On the six hundred and sixty-sixth floor of the Dark Tower Block, an army of I-Mage Consultants and Gurus of the ancient art of Pé-Är (an art which some said was first practised in Valleyum itself) had joined with the dreaded Whirling Physicians of S’pín to fulfil the brief given to them by the Dread Developer: to make evil the new good. And in the grog-soaked and pipeweed-stained gloom of their offices, they faithfully toiled away, devising slogans, poster campaigns, free-gift promotions and irritating Cell-antir messages, labouring to achieve leading brand status for the Red Nostril (ahead even of McDonelds, Pûkel-Cola and Mireboro pipeweed). Môgul himself was particularly pleased with a series of portraits which had been produced depicting him as a devilishly attractive man with a smart goatee beard and a mischievous twinkle in his eye, tagged “Môgul: the acceptable face of evil”.

Soon the negotiations would be over. The battle for the advertising space of Muddled-Mirth would begin.

Still chuckling to himself, Môgul turned his attention back to the Satel-antir, watching as the His-and-Hers-Ship bonded with the Sorethighim. As the Gateskeeper came into view, a thought occurred to him and he waved a nebulous pseudopodium over the flickering orb. Instantaneously, consternation spread over the Gateskeeper’s face as he withdrew from the company and reached surreptitiously for his Cell-antir.

“Hello, Gatesy,” snarled Môgul menacingly.

“You shouldn’t be calling me at work,” the Gateskeeper hissed back. “What do you want?” Then, belatedly remembering the correct etiquette for addressing a Dark Lord, he continued “Er … I mean it’s a pleasure to hear from you, O Mighty Embodiment of Evil. How may this humble servant be of service to your Majectic Malignant Maleficence?”

“I see that you have hooked up with the Men of the Mike. You will no doubt be aware that the land Soreham is one of my intended acquisitions.”

“Well … er …”

“My agent has the ear of Théboleggen King and bends him to my will as we speak. Soon, the empty plains will be replete with row upon row of soulless semi-detached suburban dwellings.” Môgul’s rasping voice lapsed into a rasping chuckle, as it always did when he was recounting his evil plans for the listening pleasure of anyone unfortunate enough to be in earshot. “I have been breeding Orcs with Golfing-Men for the very purpose of selling off these highly desirable residences. They are the Dês-Res, the Agents of the Estate. Ten thousand strong they are. An army bred for a single purpose: to misdescribe properties to the Race of Man."

“Sounds good, O Damnable and Despicable One,” chipped in the Gateskeeper, adding hopefully “Will they have need of my soft wares?”

“All you have to do, my four-eyed friend, is to ensure the safe passage of the Whatever-Ship. Things could get messy. I want you to make sure that they don’t get caught up in it. Your efforts have pleased me so far, but it is imperative that every single piece of this accursed Broken Ent be found … just to make certain that there are no … ah … unfortunate developments.”

“I’m right on it.”

“Oh and Gatesy?”

“Yes”

“Should you fail in this task, you will find yourself making the acquaintance of the SoBig Wyrms of the Master-Blaster’d Heath.”

The colour drained from the Gateskeeper’s face. “I shall not fail you, Most Illustrious Prince of Perdition.”

“Good. This Cell-antir will self-destruct in five seconds …”

“Eh?”

“Just kidding. My new counsellors tell me that the use of humour is a key weapon in the art of selling oneself. I’m not sure that I’ve quite got the hang of it yet, though. Goodbye.”
_____________________________________________

* The small-print in the Wight City’s fire insurance policy had in fact contained an Urulóki Exclusion Clause which excluded all cover in respect of “any loss, damage, cost or expense occurring in any way whatsoever, whether directly or indirectly, in consequence of the presence in the City (hereinbefore defined), with or without the knowledge of the Policyholder, of any monstrous fire-breathing creature, whether winged or otherwise, including without prejudice to generality of the foregoing any Dragon, Fire-Drake, Fire-Serpent, Fire-Wyrm, Salamander, Hydra or Wyvern”.

[ September 02, 2003: Message edited by: The Saucepan Man ]

[ September 03, 2003: Message edited by: The Saucepan Man ]
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Old 08-28-2003, 07:38 AM   #54
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Sting

May the gravy of the Valium protect you.
~~ Shut up, mom! I’m trying to sleep…. ~~

What gravy is given me, let it pass to him. Let him be spared. Save him.
~~ Come on… just ten more minutes…. ~~

Orgarn, wake up already!
~~ Two! It’s Orogarn Two. How many times do I have to say it? ~~

I give up! Go ahead and drown!

* * * * * * *

Hay! You can lead a Morosa to water, but you can’t make him drink, so what in the name of Fellofftheroof are you doing floating around in the river, Oatie? There’s a wallet to be found.

* * * * * * *

Orogarn Two opened his eyes onto a cloudless blue sky blocked almost entirely by the slobbering muzzle of Singéd, the mini-Morosa sent by his father to aid him on his journey. The creature gave him an affection nudge that would have been endearing had it not pushed him beneath the surface of the body of water he was lying in. With a violent sputter, a spray of frothing bubbles, and a few colorful expletives, Orogarn Two twisted around onto his knees and gasped for breath. The frightened little horse bolted into a nearby stand of cattails where it stood shivering.

“What in the name of wonder?” he shouted to the hiding beast. A shadow came over his face, and he closed his eyes. “Of course, I remember! The Hyenas came on us, and I was worsted.” He clutched as his neck. “Ah! My crystal is gone.”

He turned his head to see that he was kneeling at the edge of a narrow river that flowed quickly by. Upstream was a rocky rapids, above which was a familiar cliff. He attempted to stand, but his legs would not hold him and he fell splashing into the water where he lay exhausted.

“Ai,” he muttered.

After a while, the friendly muzzle again prodded him, this time with less force and more care. Orogarn Two opened his eyes into the fuzzy face of his horse who stood quietly waiting, as if offering him assistance. Sensing that the little Morosa was trying to help him, Orogarn Two reached up and took a handful of its mane. Slowly and painfully he dragged himself upward until he was leaning against the horse, but when it became obvious that he would not be able to climb onto its back, Singéd laid himself down so that the Grundorian could pull himself up. With a grunt, the creature rose to its full height and plodded off away from the river with its master’s feet dangling nearly to the ground.

* * * * * * *

Hours or maybe days later, who could tell?, Orogarn Two woke to find Singéd wandering across a landscape of rolling hills and high grasses. Everywhere he looked, the view was the same, but it seemed as if the small Morosa was following a trail of some kind, so the Grundorian decided to wait and see what happened. To pass the time he, he studied one of the records he had discovered in the Citibank archives.
Quote:
WESTEMNET POLICE DEPARTMENT
Arrest Report

Arrest #: 96-07-043

Date/Time Reported: 07/06/2696 @ 2103
Arrest Date/Time: 07/06/2696 @ 2109
Booking Date/Time 07/06/2696 @ 2210
Involves: Theft
Reporting Officer: Lorgal of Bredel

Bail for the Court: WESTEMNET DISTRICT COURT Set 07/06/2696 @ 2310 BSPR: 400 silver pennies
Personal Recognizance Set
-------------------------------------------
Defendant: Skinflint (Ent - Birch)
-------------------------------------------
Victim: Ecthelion I
-------------------------------------------
NARRATIVE FOR PATROLMAN LORGAL

On 7/7/96, AT APPROXIMATELY 1103, MR ECTHELION CAME TO THE STATION TO REPORT THAT HE HAD BEEN THE VICTIM OF A PICKPOCKET. THE INCIDENT IS ALLEGED TO HAVE OCCURRED IN FANGORN FOREST NEAR THE BEEF WELLINGTON ESTABLISHMENT. MR ECTHELION STATED THAT HE HAD STOPPED BY THE ESTABLISHMENT FOR A QUICK DRAUGHT AND WAS JUST LEAVING WHEN HE WAS FORCIBLY RAN INTO BY THE DEFENDANT, MR SKINFLINT. MINUTES LATER, MR ECTHELION REALIZED THAT HIS WALLET WAS MISSING AND HE SUSPECTED THE ENT WAS RESPONSIBLE. WHEN MR ECTHELION RETURNED TO THE BEEF WELLINGTON HE FOUND THE DEFENDANT BUYING ROUNDS OF STRANGEREEKS FOR EVERYONE. HE APPROACHED THE ENT AND AN ARGUMENT ENSUED THAT RESULTED IN BOTH THE DEFENDANT AND THE VICTIM TO BE DETAINED BY OTHER PATRONS. WHEN OFFICER LORGAL ARRIVED AND DID A PROBABLE CAUSE SEARCH ON MR SKINFLINT, HE DISCOVERED A WALLET BELONGING TO MR ECTHELION. MR SKINFLINT WAS IMMEDIATELY ARRESTED.
He looked up from to document to see that he had come to the ever-present swath of destruction that followed the It-ship.

"Hurry, Singéd! We've made up a lot of ground. We can't be far behind now."

[ August 28, 2003: Message edited by: The Barrow-Wight ]
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Old 08-31-2003, 11:38 PM   #55
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Silmaril

“Merrily the Itship rode along,
Rode along, rode along,
Merrily they rode along,
Along on great big steeds.

Pimpi had her green garters on,
Garters on, garters on,
Pimpi had her garters on,
Underneath her divided skirts.”


“Vogonwë?”

“Yes, dear?”

“Shut up.”

“Yes, dear.”

[ September 04, 2003: Message edited by: Diamond18 ]
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Old 09-02-2003, 09:11 AM   #56
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Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Silmaril

Merisuwyniel rode amidst the Fellow/Galship and the Sorethighhim, her eyes shining with excitement. Despite being an emancipated shieldmaiden, she had found the recent display of male prowess extremely exhilarating. Now that the groups had become friends, the level of Westestosterone conversation that surrounded her was quite stimulating – or perhaps the wave of feelings that came over her was encouraged by the music still being played by the Riders’ Big Band?

Ah, the music! She listened enraptured, wishing that she too could take part in creating something so wonderful. She fingered the Entish Bow, wondering if more strings could be added to make a harp of it. The agitated vibrations with which it responded to that thought caused her to abandon the notion, but the idea continued to nag at the back of her mind.

She had been trained in all of the arts a shieldmaiden needed, except music! How could it be that this important area had been neglected? All Elves, of course, can sing, for they begin to learn the art before their letters. Snatches of a song long forgotten came back to her memory:

Mother says I was a dancer before I could walk,
She says I began to sing long before I could talk…

…I have a talent, a wonderful thing,
’cause everyone listens when I start to sing…

I’ve been so lucky, I am the girl with golden hair,
I wanna sing it out to everybody:
What a joy, what a life, what a chance!

So I say:
Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing,
Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing.
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty,
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music,
For giving it to me.


Nevertheless, the fact remained – she had never learned to play a musical instrument. The knowledge rankled, and she resolved that it was imperative to fill this gap in the long list of her abilities as soon as possible.

° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° °

Thus occupied, she was startled to find that they were already approaching the city of Improvas. Proudly it stood upon the crest of a rocky hill, and a glint of gold from the roof of a hall at the very top seemed to flash a greeting to them. The leader with the magnificent feathered plume, whom the others had respectfully called “Yoman” – or was it spelled “Éyoman” in their language? – guided them to a hospitable looking inn. A horse’s head upon a background which almost looked like a bed (too strange to be possible, Merisu decided, and hoped for an explanation later) swung above the open door, and its lettering pronounced this to be the Horse Head Inn.

“Here you shall find accommodations for staying in our city,” Yoman told them, “and for your horses as well – Sethamir’s Stable and Instrument Repair Shop next door will lodge your steeds. We shall come to join you as promised for welcoming drinks when we have taken care of our own mounts. The Innkeeper, Dêthderrydol, (‘a half-enigma’, he added in a whisper) will welcome you in the meantime.”
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Old 09-03-2003, 02:28 PM   #57
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Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Boots

It was late that night. So late that even the obligatory late-night partying of the Sorethighhim, and the even later-night partying of the Gallowship, had finally subsided into silence. All was quiet, except for a soothing melody that drifted through Improvas from an undisclosed location.

All slept in the city. The music continued. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the music shifted. It took on a note of unease, almost of growing danger. Perhaps not all the city slept after all.

A small but rather stout shadow slipped behind a building. A moment later a much larger shadow slunk (actually trundled is probably a better word) past. This second shadow took several moments to pass by. The tempo of the music picked up just a bit.

With almost depressing predictability someone’s greed had become inflamed at the sight of the golden roof of the hall on the hill and they were determined to filch a few tiles. Late that night they stole out of the inn (and stole is the right word for it because somebody stuck his claws into the till before they left, while out in the stables somebody else was carefully lifting some of the valuables of the inn’s other customers) and they started sneaking up the hill.

Now there was a decided note of menace in the music and the tempo continued to increase.

The two shadows reached the wall at the top of the hill that protected the Golden Music Hall. The larger shadow leaned against the wall and the small shadow climbed up the large shadow and over the wall. The bigger shadow followed.

The music became downright threatening.

A few minutes later the two shadows were on the roof of the hall looking for a likely spot to begin their operation. They huddled together for a moment to confer. The music brought to mind an image of a great predator about to pounce on its helpless prey.

There was a pause, almost as if the music was holding its breath waiting for the worst to happen.

The air was split by a furious cry…

"GOLD-PAINTED TILES!!!!" shrieked a voice.

A massive choir suddenly erupted in full-throat, howling out a horrifying piece of music calculated to raise goosebumps and twist the spine.

"AYYYYIIIIIIIEEEEEEE!!!" yelped the two shadows on the roof, scared into next week.

"Oh Great!!!" yelled one voice. "Now I have to change my pants!!!"

"I could have lived my entire life without knowing that!!" shouted another.

*CRASH* *BOOM* went the roof as it collapsed under their weight.

"Pawh, Hawh, Hawh, Hawh, Hawh, Hawh, Hawh…" went the choir (and from the sound of things most of the orchestra too.)
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Old 09-03-2003, 04:12 PM   #58
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Sting

The noise of the Golden Roof's collapse and its accompanying music woke the Gallowship. They ran to the door of the Inn and watched as men ran to and fro assessing damage, carrying poles to prop up the roof and chasing shadows in an attempt to capture the perpetrators of this vile deed. In the midst of the commotion, Chrysolphylax flew in, bearing a dusty and bruised Kuruharan.
"Where have you been?" asked Etceteron suspiciously.

"Oh, just flying about, scouting out the neighboring lands," answered Kuruharan as he nonchalantly brushed masonry dust from his trousers.

"You didn't have anything to do with the collapse of the Golden Roof, did you?" asked Merisuwyniel as the Dwarf picked pieces of mortar from his beard.

"Painted!" he cried. "I mean, no! Not at all. What would I be doing with a roof anyway?" He yawned mightily. "Well, time to turn in." He turned and swept dramatically through the doors of the Inn.

The Gallowship followed, and walked through the hall towards their rooms. Suddenly, Pimpiowyn stopped. "Hungry?" asked Etceteron without much interest. "Yes!" she replied. "But where is Grrralph?" Indeed, Grrralph was nowhere to be found...

---------------------------------

...unless you happened to be on a hilltop several miles away, which was exactly where Grrralph was. He had sat quietly as the Gallowship had drunk its way through a hogshead of ale that evening and watched as they devoured platter after platter of spicy Balfrog wings. He, of course, ate and drank nothing. His...malady precluded such activities. But throughout the evening, his gaze had been drawn over and again to Merisu and the bow which was slung upon her shapely shoulder.

When the Gallowship retired to their rooms, Grrralph found that he could not sleep. He slipped out from his room and wandered down the hall until he reached Merisu's quarters. He examined the lock and then drew out a long dagger which he inserted into the keyhole. After some fiddling, he was rewarded with a click. He stood there for a moment, then sheathed the dagger and walked off into the night. He entered the stable, saddled his horse and rode off towards the east.

The hill he climbed was bare and rocky. The hilltop was cold, just like he liked it. A wind rushed from the west and the skies were clear. He tilted his head back and emitted a long drawn out wail which the wind promptly seized and carried off towards the distant Mountains of Moredough. Then he sat down and waited.

Perhaps an hour passed before the rushing of great leathery wings roused him. A Nazgul landed on the hilltop and its rider jumped down. "Oh, it's you," said the Thingwraith. "You rang Lurch?"

Grrralph bristled at the words of the Wraith and his hand...black glove, almost of its own volition reached toward the hilts of his sword. Then he stopped and stood straight before the wraith as he answered. "Ssssam," he said as pleasantly as he could manage. "How's Tricks?"

"She's fine," answered Ssssam. "But what do you want, Tall, Dark and Gruesome?"

Grrralph's breath hissed between invisible teeth. "You still haven't foregiven me I see..."

Ssssam responded in a mocking voice. "'Just go on up to the Gates of the City, Jjjjohn. Knock and maybe they'll let you in.' 'Oh don't worry about the Shieldmaiden, Jjjjohn, she can't hurt you.' 'Whoops, there goes Jjjjohn.' He was the captain of our team and you talked him into that fight."

"I thought the prophecy referred to Man as a race, not man as in a male..." snapped Grrralph.

"You thought?" hissed Ssssam. "That was your first mistake... yoooow!"

Grrralph, who stood about 2.5 meters tall, grabbed Ssssam, who was maybe 1.3 meters in platform hob-nailed boots and lifted him into the air with one...glove. The Nazgul hissed until Grrralph swatted its snout with his free glove.

"Listen screwhead," growled Grrralph. "I'm here on business! Geeeeorge told me you guys and your boss are looking for some hunks of wood. Why?"

"The Boss says they're magical and he wants 'em," squeeked the suddenly much more polite Wraith.

"What do they look like?" demanded Grrralph.

"All different shapes and sizes," whined Ssssam. "They've been crafted into bows, guitars, artificial limbs and such. Look, I'm sorry. Put me down Grrralphie, would ya?"

Grrralph dropped the very contrite Sssam into a puddle that had been created by the nervous Nazgul. "Who's your boss?" asked Grrralph.

"A cockroach, aaaaiiii!" Grrralph had placed his red spike-heeled boot onto Ssssam's chest and pressed him down into the puddle. "C'mon Grrralph, I can't take the uniform off you know. OK! It's Môgul, Môgul Bildûr!"

Grrralph stepped back. "The name's familiar, but I can't place it," he muttered.

"Why do you want to know, Grrralph?" asked Ssssam as he stood up and tried to brush the dampness off his cloak.

"I'm...thinking of changing jobs," he replied. "I thought maybe if I could find some of this wood, maybe I might be able to cut a sweet deal."

"Sure, Grrralph," said the Wraith as he backed slowly away towards his Nazgul. "We'd love to have ya!"

Grrralph stepped forward and grabbed Ssssam again. "Do something for me, junior. Find Grrruff. She's hanging out in the Gloomy Mountains, on the south side of Moredough. Send her to me."

"Sure, sure!" whispered Ssssam as the taller Wraith released him. "Right away!"

Grrralph turned and walked back to his horse. Then he stopped and called over his shoulder. "Ssssam..."

"Yeah Grrralph?" answered the second Wraith as he mounted his Nazgul.

"Don't ever call me 'Lurch'...."

[ September 04, 2003: Message edited by: Mithadan ]
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Old 09-03-2003, 04:54 PM   #59
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Silmaril

Merisuwyniel had retired to her room relatively early. The males of various races, both His-and-Hers-Ship and Sorethighhim, were still vying with one another to demonstrate the degree of their friendship by consuming large amounts of intoxicating beverages. The Elven maiden had no objection to invigorating liquids, but she preferred daintily sipping miruvor or châm-pägne to guzzling ale. However, such specialties were not on stock in the common room of the Horse Head Inn; she had resorted to nibbling peppermint patties and drinking PeppermintPatty™ tea until she was weary from so much refreshment and wanted to sleep.

It seemed to her that she had just closed her eyes when spotlights went on, illuminating a stage. A dancer appeared, wearing a headpiece plumed with peacock feathers. She gasped as she recognized the face – it was her own! Other dancers joined her, music sounded, and as legs were kicked high, she realized that she was dressed only in a few feathers. That was certainly not practical, though it was undeniably feminine. Embarrassed to be seen with such minimalistic attire, she frantically looked about for a place to hide, but the music went on and on, and she could not stop dancing.

Suddenly her pointed Elven ears heard a sharp click and she awoke with a start. Breathless, she listened for further sounds, but there were none. Her hand reached for the beautiful and deadly dagger that she always kept under her pillow – a necessary precaution for a shieldmaiden, since the Bow was a bit unwieldy in close combat. When she heard no more noises, sleep again overwhelmed her.

A bright light blinded her; she was sitting on a barstool in the middle of a stage. Expectant faces looked up at her as she began to sing. Her gentle voice filled the room, accompanied by the soft strumming of an instrument. Looking down, she saw that she herself was the musician, fingers plucking the strings of a wooden object that rested on her crossed legs. She could play!

Her delight was short-lived, for she suddenly realized that the faces looking at her were leering, all of them male. She was wearing only the instrument, nothing else. And they were calling for it to be removed! She longed to be rescued, but the faces came closer, becoming more and more threatening. They crowded the stage, the boards began to tremble, and with a loud crash, the platform collapsed.

Panting, she sat upright in her bed. It took a moment for her to realize that the crash had been real, not merely a part of her dream. Voices sounded in the hallway, feet rushed past her door, and she hurried to join them, not without taking the precaution of robing herself in a modest yet very becoming wrapper. Bewildered, she watched the rescue action and wondered what had happened, vaguely aware that there was something strange about the coinciding appearance of Kuruharan and Chrysophylax. But she was too tired to pursue that thought and happy to return to her bed as soon as possible. She slept deeply and soundly, and if any more dreams troubled her, they are not recorded here…

[ September 08, 2003: Message edited by: Estelyn Telcontar ]
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Old 09-05-2003, 12:04 PM   #60
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Sting

The swaybacked little horse trudged along steadily, eyes to the ground and nose hanging low. On his tired back, the son of Denimthor rocked precariously from side to side as he sat perched in a semblance of sleep, occasionally startled into semi-consciousness when a blue sueded shoe collided with a small rock or tangle of prairie grass. For more than 24 hours since awakening his master in the cold waters of the Contrived River, the tiny horse had carried the heavy Grundorian along the food-strewn trail of the Itship.

Slowly, the inky blackness of night gave way to the muddled watercolor grey of impending dawn, and the devastation of the Whatevership’s passing began to become more painfully apparent. What had seemed as only a wide swath of trampled grass and discarded candy wrappers soon became a deep, wide, ugly gouge in earth coated in a morass of bacon bits, ranch dressing, and molted dragon scales. Worse yet, all along the disgusting highway of filth, great billboards had been hastily erected touting various unfamiliar products and services.

Orogarn Two, suddenly awake at the sight of such vulgar promotionalism, read some of the signs aloud.

“Dude, yer getting’ a Dale.”
“Mike – Just do it!”
“Feed a Woozie for only 19sp a day.”

Orogarn Two was flabbergasted. Never before had he seen such blatant advertising, not even in the Denturian’s Quarter during ‘Brush Your Teeth Week’. Though he did not recognize most of the products, it was obvious that they were wicked, subversive items that would surely undermine the rules of common decency and good behavior. Who had erected the monstrosities, and how had they done it so fast? Where were the Proctor’s legions of inspectors and regulators?

He kicked Singéd, who was munching on a crumbled package of Pûkel Pop Rocks, and the little horse picked up speed and trotted away from the offending eyesores. With his mouth fizzing and foaming, the midget Morosa soon carried its master past the most offensive poster (“Mantoes – The Freshmaker!”), over a high ridge, and down the trail toward the imposing fortress of Improvas, which had conveniently come into view. With a shout of triumph and a last look backwards, Orogarn Two forced his mount into an all-out gallop but soon had to stop because his shoes were getting gunked up with all of the little white flowers they were running through.

“Odd place for flower gardens, I’d say,” muttered the Grundorian as he noted the dozen or so mounds covered in tiny white, star-like blooms. He swung a leg over the beast and stood beside it, leaning down to brush his shoes off. “Let’s enter this place to see where our companions are.”

The two strode forward, and as he entered the gates of the fortress, a flag bearing the symbol of a horse’s head fluttered over the wall and landed near his feet. He picked it up, folded it neatly, and put it carefully into one of Singéd’s saddlebags.

[ September 07, 2003: Message edited by: The Barrow-Wight ]
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Old 09-05-2003, 04:38 PM   #61
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It is perhaps not so strange a thing that nights which are filled with the imbibing of large quantities of mead, the singing of raucous songs, and competitions of manly virtue are good to spend, but difficult to remember afterwards and generally not much to listen to in any case; the jokes and shenanigans which seem best in the throes of a drunken stupor are usually less entertaining in the cold grim light of sobriety. Nevertheless, more events of that eventful evening are here recorded.

Dêthderrydol the Innkeeper made a game attempt to minimize irrelevant side chatter and guide the evening’s activities, which consisted mostly of long sets of music from the House of Band (various Men of the Mike sitting in to jam as the opportunity and desire arose), interspersed with bouts of such testosterone-laden games as “Pin the Tail on the (Living) Horse”, “Pin the Man on Your Left”, and, as the evening drew on, “Pin Yourself to Yourself”. These competitions were accompanied by the running commentary of Ale Mikells and Jøn Maddâun, two of the Sorethighhim who were particularly skilled in the art, and by a rousing soundtrack which made the games more entertaining and emotionally involving than they had any right to be. Dêthderrydol, finding her efforts misunderstood, misconstrued, or just plain ignored, finally gave up and shuffled off to a back room, muttering something suitably half-enigmatic about having to “answer her PMs”.

Pimpiowyn had of course been raised by a Man of the Mike and eagerly joined in the fun, making an especially good showing in a sausage eating contest early in the evening, but Merisuwyniel eventually convinced her that it was unseemly for an aspiring Shieldmaiden to wrestle with sweaty men unless she was either throwing herself at a hunk of a future King or else properly disguised as a man herself. They both retired early to their rooms, though Pimpi lay long awake as thoughts of baked beans, sauerkraut, mashed taters, ribeye steaks, cornbread, and other traditional foods of the Mike danced through her head. The large mass of undigested sausage turning over restlessly in her stomach may also have contributed to her sleeplessness.

The men of the Itship, being naturally heroic and eminently skilled in all manner of manly arts (including but not limited to cleaving orcs in twain, the general hewing of limbs, the guzzling of vast quantities of spirits, and the melting of average and above average females) soon won the respect and admiration of their new friends the Sorethighhim. The Itship quickly perceived that each of the Men of the Mike nurtured a passion for some particular performing art, and dreamed of one day becoming famed as the greatest in all the land in the practice of his chosen discipline. Though he never spoke of it aloud, it was clear that Yoman yearned to be the prima donna of a dancing chorus line. Some Riders had memorized monologues or worked out comedy routines between them, others had perfected complex but queerly expressive gymnastic routines, and all were eager for news of the latest fashions in armor and leather harness in distant lands.

Vogonwë was easily swept up in the spirit of performance and machismo and took advantage of one of the breaks of the House of Band to grab a mikestand from a drunken Rider and recite an impromptu bit of verse:

I think that I shall never see
anyone as good as me
at slayíng foes and cracking heads
or taking maidens to their beds.


This prompted first stunned silence, then much hooting and cheering and many a congratulatory slap on the half-elf’s heroically taut rump. Vogonwë was at first much dismayed by this strange ritual of the Sorethighhim, but then took to the practice with such enthusiasm that before the night was done he was given the honorary name “Hándanurâz” by the Men of the Mike and officially adopted into the Yoyurded commanded by Érry.

Érry encouraged the men of the Itship to join with him in disciplining other Riders as the need arose (which it did with alarming frequency). When it was discovered after one such unfortunate incident that Chrysophylax could breathe fire, the party moved outside for a spell, where the ancient wyrm was asked to set ablaze all manner of objects: a park bench, a wagon wheel, an armoire scavenged from a carpenter’s shop, a scarecrow “liberated” from the fields of Hámmerhed (a local farmer), even a stray dog. The pained shrieks of this last as it burned threatened to spoil the fun of the evening, but Chrysophylax saved the day by swallowing the crisped hound whole, and the party moved back inside by general unspoken agreement. Kuruharan, beard and eyebrows singed and smoking, had managed to do a brisk business in “beer helms” – steel helmets designed to hold six mugs of ale which could be drunk simultaneously through a tube by the wearer, novelty hand mitts holding up a giant index finger in a “We’re #1” gesture, hastily done up “Riders Rool, Orcs Drool” doublets, and skewers and marshmallows.

In short a good time was had by all – all save the Gateskeeper, who drank only sodâpaup and peered through his spectacles with unblinking eyes at all that passed, quietly noting demographic patterns and absently formulating marketing schemes. Though there was much to observe, he did not fear missing anything important: he knew that he could later review his magic log, which recorded all that occurred down to the smallest detail, if he needed to refresh his memory or fill in any gaps in his knowledge.

The Gateskeeper in his detachment noted many strange things. One was quite obvious to anyone with eyes in his head: that these Riders, as dedicated as they were to the Arts, were even by the low standards of Muddled-Mirth raging chauvinists. Women of the Mike ran the inn and worked in the kitchen, but participated in none of the entertainments performed by the Riders. This was painfully apparent during the performance by two Riders of a passionate scene from Rummyo and Havewemet, a play by Shakesbeere, a local poet of some repute.

But the Gateskeeper also noted a subtle subtext of fear amongst the Men of the Mike early in the evening when the impromptu performances began. It was communicated in worried looks and tense faces, but the Riders seemed unwilling to acknowledge it openly in front of their guests.

“Grimy Hasbéen won’t be happy—” one Rider finally started to say, but he was silenced by a flying check from Érry, who straddled him, yelling, “I don’t wanna hear no jibber-jabber about Hamstrung, son! I’m built for this, G! It’s gonna be a long night, a long night if you come up in here talkin’ ‘bout Hamstrung said this or that! You’re auditioning for a lead role in Érry’s Musical Pain Comedy, and you will get the part!”

And that was the last mention of the mysterious Hamstrung that evening. Later, as the copious amounts of liquor and the thrill of performance began to take hold, the subtext of fear gradually disappeared.

Lastly, and most interestingly, the Gateskeeper noticed many an oath sworn by the “Thighs of the Sorethighhim”, or the “Wood of the Thighs”, or the “Shanks That Do Not Grow Weary”, or, in the tongue of the Mike, “Those Mean **********ing Legs”. At first he thought these phrases a peculiar idiom of the Mike, a metaphorical reference only, but he eventually surmised that the Riders referred to actual thighs, apparently housed in the Goldlamé Hall, which were considered the spiritual backbone of the Sorethighhim.

The evening ended abruptly when Etceteron smashed a gëetar to top off a rousing rendition of “She’s an Orc, Baby”. The instrument was dropped next door at Sethamir’s for repair. The Riders who had passed out stayed where they lay; those who could still walk bid their new friends farewell with many a pat on the behind and the traditional Sorethighhim valediction, “Good night! You’ve been a great audience!”, and staggered off to their homes. Yet even as the inn settled in for the evening, the Gateskeeper continued to observe – he had noticed Grrralph slip away after the last of the Riders had gone, and later noted when Kuruharan left his room and opened a port in a serving wall for Chrysophylax when they thought the rest of the Itship were all abed. The Gateskeeper saw it all, and filed it all away, wondering how he might use it to his advantage later.

[ September 10, 2003: Message edited by: Mister Underhill ]
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Old 09-08-2003, 06:00 PM   #62
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Sting

As Grrralph rode back towards Improvas, something was troubling him. He had ridden nearly three miles before he realized what it was. Whereas yesterday the Itship had ridden over broad green plains and through forests and fields, the rising sun was revealing a slightly different landscape. It seemed that a billboard had been erected every 100 meters or so. He slowed his pace to take in the colorful signs and catchy slogans.

A sign for a chain of steakhouses read "Where's the Beef?" He chuckled at the outraged look of the customer as he ran his sword through the waiter.

A sign for Sethamir's Stables, Inc. (trademark pending) showed a patron throttling the equerry while screaming "I'm not gonna pay a lot for this horse!" Apparently, the Itship had made a good choice when stabling their steeds.

Yet another, advertising low rent housing, portrayed huts with two-horse stables. The slogan there read "Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun!" Odd that all of these advertisements ended in explamation marks, he mused.

An image of a dragon wallowing in a swimming pool behind a group of slightly higher rent townhouses caught his attention next. A puff of smoke from the dragon's mouth formed words which read "They're Grrrreat!" Grrralph particularly liked this slogan and wondered at the cost of these fine residences and whether he could afford them.

As if to answer this question, the next billboard promoted Mogûl's Mortgages. An honorable and serious looking banker sat behind a desk in this advertisement. The caption read, "We make our money the old-fashioned way, we EARN it!"

The next billboard was in the process of being erected. A massive cart sat at the side of the road. It was filled with billboards and was drawn by four very unhappy looking horses, each of which had been painted bright red. The sign on the cart read "Bildûr's Boards, A Little Dab Will Do Ya!" Grrralph didn't think much of this slogan. First, the boards were not "little". Second, the hundreds of signs that he had seen hardly constituted a "dab".

This sign was being erected by several Orcs. The subject was Achilles' Armouries. A smiling hero had run his foe through with a spear. The dying warrior was saying, "I've fallen and I can't get up!" Grrralph approached the Orcs to compliment the advertising agency. As he drew near, he could hear them singing.

"O Muddled Mirth,
O Muddled Mirth,
We spread our waste on thee!
And hide the pines
With billboard signs,
from sea to oily sea!"

One of the Orcs looked up in surprise as the sound of hooves was heard over their song. Their initial reaction was to draw their swords. Then they relaxed when the saw the black cloaked figure. "It's only a Wraith," the leader cried and his fellows resumed their labor.

The Orc Captain approached Grrralph with a toothy smile. "The boss wants us to put these up at night, but we wanted to do one more before heading home."

"Home?" asked Grrralph.

"Yeah," said the Orc. "Back to Moredough. Soon we'll have fortresses everywhere, but for now the Boss wants us to maintain a low profile."

"Where will your fortresses be?" asked the Wraith.

"We'll probably have one here at Improvas," answered the grungy and feral looking Uruk. "And soon we'll take over Grundor and Topfloorien and Trebor. Soon after that, this name will be everywhere!"

He pointed to a line of small print on the billboard which read, "Achilles' Armouries is a subsidiary of Mogûl Enterprises, LLC." Grrralph nodded, recalling Sssam's words about his employer. "Looks like Mogûl is taking over everywhere," Grrralph mused as he rode on towards Improvas. "...and Mogûl wants the wood..."

[ September 10, 2003: Message edited by: Mithadan ]
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Old 09-10-2003, 11:18 AM   #63
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White-Hand

Many a curious stare followed Orogarn Two and Singéd as they trudged through the muddy streets of Improvas. Dirty-faced, tow-headed children, legs already beginning to bow, laughed and pointed as they passed. Men nudged their neighbors and tipped their chins towards the pair. ‘Hey, nice dog!’ someone called out.

Orogarn paused, meeting the eyes of the onlookers, and gestured grandly.

‘Behold!’ he cried. ‘Here is Singéd the Great, whom no other hand can tame.’

‘We have leash laws in Soreham, Grundorian.’

Orogarn ignored the taunt and continued on. Singéd shot him a thankful glance for at least making the effort.

Men of the Mike were busily repairing a large hole in the glinting roof of the distant hall, a sure sign that his companions were near. Drifting smoke which still lingered from the previous night’s party soon led the two trail-stained travelers to the courtyard in front of the Horse Head Inn. Inside, the Whatchacallitship was just finishing up breakfast.

The sudden reappearance of Orogarn was met with great wonder by his fellow adventurers, who had long since given him up for dead, divided up some of his gear, and written off their debts to him. Nevertheless, they greeted him enthusiastically. Merisu almost went in for a hug, but at the last moment gracefully opted instead for a comfortable distance and air-kisses on either cheek – the Tower of Dorktank to the north had recently begun dumping industrial sludge into the Contrived River, and Orogarn smelled none too clean.

Vogonwë returned Orogarn’s crystal locket and gave him a swift slap on the rump in the Soreham style, which nearly led to a duel until the custom was patiently explained by Etceteron and cooler heads – for once – prevailed.

Just as Orogarn got caught up on all that had transpired during his absence (the retelling accompanied in four part harmony by a few Riders who had roused from their slumber), a horseman who had not been at the previous night’s party – and who had a decidedly shady cast to his narrow eyes – arrived to summon them at once to an audience with Théboleggen King. The time was full ripe for the Itship to move on to the next scene, so, gathering their gear, they followed the messenger without question.

* * * * *

Bypassing all description of the quaint homes of the Sorethighhim and the clear, clattering stream flowing beside the path and suchlike, the Uniship soon found themselves at the top of a high green terrace where two guards sat on stools with naked mikestands laid across their knees. Their golden hair was plaited and arranged on their shoulders just so, and blazed fetchingly in the early morning sun. One of the guards stepped forward and spoke to them in Westestosterone.

‘I am the Bouncer of Théboleggen. Hámanchese is my name. Here I must bid you lay aside your weapons before you enter.’

Hands strayed towards scabbards and into the folds of cloaks. Handles lovingly bound in tooled leather were fingered, morningstars hefted, twin axes clicked against one another. A rumble from Chrysophylax spoke of searing fires stoked deep within the wyrm’s belly.

Hámanchese coughed into his fist.

‘...or, or you could just promise not to use them. Without provocation. Unnecessarily. You look like good people, I’ll trust you on that.’

The adventurers began to move past the Bouncer, but he spoke up again.

‘Also, I’m supposed to check to make sure that you’re not sworn enemies of Théboleggen King, the Mike, and/or the good people of Soreham over which he rules etc., etc. And that you’re all over twenty-one.’

Twin puffs of smoke escaped Chrysophylax’s nostrils.

‘Right, but of course we’re all square on that. Except these ladies here, if I didn’t know better, I’d never guess you were a day over eighteen. Thirty-three at most in Elf years. I mean that.’ Then he continued in a lowered voice, ‘Listen, this is just a day job for me. I’m really an actor.’

The Bouncer carefully stamped the hands, claws, and mailed fists of the Itship, each in turn, then pushed open the tall doors so that they could enter the Goldlamé Hall. Sounds of music and desultory laughter drifted out of the dark opening.

As they passed inside, the voice of Hámanchese followed them in an afterthought.

‘Entering the Hall also implies agreement to the two drink min—’

But he was abruptly cut off as Grrralph swept the doors closed.

Inside it was close and dark after the wind and bright sunshine upon the hill. As their eyes changed, the travelers saw that tables were arrayed on the main floor of the hall. Golden cloths were hung upon the walls, and at the far end of the house, beyond the tables, was a raised stage. Most of the damage from the previous evening had been repaired, and only one thin shaft of light shone in through the nearly patched hole in the hall’s great roof. It was made of decidedly cheap materials and was rather shoddily constructed, and so was quickly and easily repaired.

The place stank of cheap booze, and a thick haze of pipeweed smoke filled the chamber even at this early hour. A general pall of disreputability hung like a shroud over the audience seated at the tables. They seemed restless and sullen, and when they laughed or applauded, no trace of sincerity could be found in the gestures.

‘That isn’t golden cloth, right?’ asked Merisu in a hushed voice.

‘Gold lamé,’ said Kuruhuran, then added quickly and a bit too casually, ‘At least, that’s what it looks like from here.’

‘It looks smaller than I thought,’ whispered Pimpi, who had heard many a tale of the glory days of Improvas from her father.

‘And tackier,’ added Vogonwë.

The reason the hall had not completely collapsed was immediately evident: two mighty pillars sprang from the flagstone floor and soared in gently bowing arcs to the roof. The pillars were stout, almost muscular, shaped from beautiful, intricately carved wood which gleamed with a rich golden hue that a thin film of nicotine only enhanced. The Gallowship perceived that these must be none other than the fabled Thighs of Soreham. Despite their great age, the wooden pillars seemed to throb with life and a certain impalpable earthy wisdom.

Beyond the Thighs, on the left side of the stage, was a bandstand. A pale man in a suit of extravagantly bright purple cloth stood at the head of a group of Riders who clearly had been handpicked not for their talent with their instruments, but for their brawn and their dumb, brute loyalty to the bandleader, Grimy Hasbéen.

On the right side of the stage was a plain desk, behind which sat a bent old man. He was clad in a golden sansabelt jumpsuit which must once have been dazzling, but now seemed shabby and dull with years. A rakish ascot was nearly hidden under a frizzy white beard, and his face was as seamed and wrinkled as an old adventurer’s codpiece. A line of drool depended from his lower lip and glistened in his beard like dew in a spider web.

‘So, a funny thing happened,’ mumbled Théboleggen King in a cracked old man’s voice. ‘Uh, the roof fell in.’

‘The roof fell in?’ Grimy asked loudly.

‘The roof. Fell in. We got a big hole up there. Men working. The whole thing. What’s up with that?’

One of the Riders rolled off a lackluster BA DUM PSHHH! on his drum kit. The audience, under a heavy glare from Grimy, laughed and clapped in insincere appreciation. The old king seemed not to notice.

‘It’s crazy!’

The Itship was milling about in the back of the room, wondering if it was possible to fade back out the door or maybe just pick a fight, when a haggard young woman approached them.

‘I’m Éowhine of the Mike and I’ll be your serving wench this morning. There’s a two drink minimum. What can I get you?’

But before they could even react, the crowd quieted and Grimy’s eyes were upon them.

‘Now, your lordship,’ he said in a loud voice that dripped with menace and contempt, ‘I understand we have some guests with us today.’

‘Yes, yes. They’ve come all the way from... somewhere else to be with us. Ladies and gents, please put your hands together and give a big Soreham welcome to... those people back there. Yes, you. Come on.’

The audience clapped lightly, and all eyes in the room turned to the Itship.

[ September 11, 2003: Message edited by: Mister Underhill ]
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Old 09-11-2003, 12:32 AM   #64
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Sting

Quote:
the ancient wyrm was asked to set ablaze all manner of objects: a park bench, a wagon wheel, an armoire scavenged from a carpenter’s shop, a scarecrow “liberated” from the fields of Hámmerhed (a local farmer), even a ...STRAY DOG! - “The Reunification of the Entish Bow” post 62
The rosy rays of dawn reached out to warm the staves of a lowly straw-filled barrel that lay behind Sethamir's Stable and Instrument Repair Shop, lightly caressing the brow of its sole occupant. Bärky, Puppy Hound of the Mike, opened his wide, liquid brown eyes, twitched his adorable button puppy nose, and stuck out his sweet, lil pink puppy tongue in a prodigious yawn. Poking his nose out of his lowly but cozy home, he panted with delight as he prepared to enjoy the sights, smells and songs of his beloved city, Improvas.

But one thing was missing to make his puppy-happiness complete. "Mother?" he whined, and receiving no answer, he decided that his dear mother must be playing some wonderful new game. So Bärky, Puppy Hound of the Mike, set out prancing down the street one his little puppy toes, wagging his plume-like fluffy puppy tail, all the while calling "Mother! Oh, dear Mother! Where are you?"

It was Snoggert, the wise, old sewer rat, who finally could bear it no longer. Poking his grey, grizzled snout out of a discarded pile of used mead jars and sodden oboe reeds, he called softly but firmly to Bärky. "C'mere, kid. I got somethin' to tell ya..."

***************

"MOTHERRRRRRRR! NNNNNNOOOOOOOO!!!!!!"

The piercing yelps leaped across the plains of Soreham, pulled a bank shot off the Ecru Mountains, dawdled along the Pretty Good River and finally slouched towards the Forest of Canned Corn.

"Precioussss! They have violated the sacred rule of tale-telling!"

Never off dogs or small children! This is sacrilege, Fluffy!"

"The Itship must die!"


[ September 11, 2003: Message edited by: Birdland ]
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Old 09-11-2003, 02:51 PM   #65
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Sting

Grimy Hasbéen, son of Washtup, motioned the Itship forward with a hand the color and liveliness of flour paste. As their eyes adjusted to the strange lighting they could make out (through the pipeweed haze) Hasbeen outfitted in the traditional black ptôcksǽdo of the court of Improvas, accented beneath with a white tunic and a small black cravat tied in odd fashion around the throat. He would have been a dashing figure except that he had no figure to speak of. Had a corpse already liquid with decay arisen from the grave, arrayed itself in party finery, and splashed on some aftershave, the effect could not have been more hideous. *

The Itship had little choice but to obey the ghastly summons to the stage, as the massively built and nattily-dressed bouncer-corps outnumbered them 3 to 1. The half-lit, half-empty hall half-heartedly applauded the strangers as they shuffled forward with all the enthusiasm of a young child ordered to bed. Gateskeeper in the midst of the group kept his eye on Grimy, something familiar in his look, his manner…then he remembered.

Grimy had been a groupie of Sauerkraut, a hanger-on back at Dorktank who never quite got the hang of wizardry, either on or off the stage. But ol’ cabbage-head (as they used to refer to Sauerkraut during meetings because it made his eyes bulge) appeared to have found a use for him as a low-level Têch support assistant for Networkgaard (or “the Net” for short), making sure packets of information were correctly routed to destinations within the influence of the Net.

But what was he doing here? Was this the agent Môgul Bildûr mentioned who “had the King’s ear”? Gateskeeper continued to ponder, wishing he could surreptitiously make a call on his Cell-antir as the quest-ians mounted the stage and assembled beside King Théboleggen. Grimy Hasbéen joined them on the stage in seeming gesture of welcome and glaring at those in the audience whose appreciation seemed somewhat unenthusiastic.

At close range the King looked to Gateskeeper as more than haggard and old. He appeared as though something had drawn all the strength and vitality from him, as though his life had not worn away gracefully but had been systematically sucked dry like the kegs of ale from last night’s party. It looked like the work of his old mentor Sauerkraut, but the Dorktank of Networkgaard was many leagues away, and Sauerkraut was supposed to be in league with Môgul. Besides, there wasn’t a cell-antir antenna large enough to carry the image over the Ecru Mountains. Unless…it was then that Gateskeeper noticed a pair of small black lines that protruded out from under the King’s desk, leading away towards…the thighs.

King Théboleggen attempted to stand, but merely achieved a different slouch in his chair, shifting to look up at the newcomers. Looking out at the crowd he muttered, “What a great group, eh?” the old King wheezed, “Troupers. That’s what I say. Every one of them. And we’ll see how they do here on Sorethighhim Idol, right after this.” The little band that accompanied the drummer in the corner played a short tune as the stage light shifted to a very animated troupe of players who bounded onto the other side of the stage and began extolling the excellence of a brand of sodâpaup, Dorka-Cola, in a short skit.

Gatekeeper's mind was working at high speed now, for Dorka-Cola had never been seen outside the confines of Dorktank by him before. In the vast and putrid manufactories of Moredough the minions of Mogul turned out the #1 brand in Muddled-Mirth, Pukel-Cola. His monopolistic schemes had driven all competitors off the market, then driven up the price of the addictive caffeine-laden beverage. There could be only one conclusion: Sauerkraut was trying to undermine Mogul's plans to overrun Soreham. It all began to make sense now. Mogul, only recently escaped from his erstwhile prison had no idea of the advances Sauerkraut had made for reaching masses with the power of The Net. Mogul was mired in low-tech advertising such as billboards and such. With the power of the Great Thighs to carry his message, Sauerkraut would be a formidable advertising force to contend with, especially once he rediscovered the lost art of the pop-up. If Gateskeeper was to succeed in the task to which he was now bound by Mogul, Sauerkraut had to be stopped.

Meanwhile, the Itship was now quite taken aback (abackstage, that is). Grimy, an insincere smile upon his leering countenance, told them, “So you think you can perform up to the high standards of our Mike, do you? Nay, do not start, word has reached me of you poor players strutting and fretting your hour upon the stage last night. A tale told by an idiot! You were all so full of sound and fury, yet signifying nothing. Well now, you shall have your chance to prove your so-called talent before our panel of one – King Théboleggen himself shall judge you. And woe to you if you fail to please him.”

“Oh, lovely!!” cried Vogonwe in utter delight, “An audience with a king! I shall recite a new poem I just composed for the occasion, if only I can figure out a way to get the words “toast” and “pomposity” to fit in this last line…” Vogonwe’s final comments went unheard, for by unanimous agreement Earnur Etceteron conked him out cold with the butt of his sword (which complained loudly of the indignity) lest he seal their demise.

Merisuwyniel, who had seldom known fear in times past, now found herself trembling (with fear or excitement she unsettlingly could not tell), for she now realized that the hall of Improvas looked uncomfortably like the places she had “performed” in that strange dream she’d had the night before. “We don’t have anything prepared for a real performance, what shall we do?” Merisu cried in a somewhat less than practical (but quite feminine) tone. Earnur, after setting the now-unconscious Vogonwe aside on a small cot, drew himself up to his manly height, drew his manly sword (which complained in the , and said in a manly tone, “we have no choice but to fight our way out…”

“No, wait,” Gateskeeper interrupted, and for the third time Earnur found himself taking the back seat to this upstart four-eyed freak from who-knows-where who kept preventing him from winning renown and glory in manly battle. His arm almost started to swing of its own accord, and would have cloven Gateskeepers spectacles in twain had not Orogarn stayed his hand. Earnur gave Orogarn a dirty look. Orogarn said, “Just hear him out.”

“Do even you not trust the arms of your own people? You’re all too ready to trust this vagabond.”

“There is no strength in arms that will avail us in this situation,” Orogarn said. “Now hear him.”

Gateskeeper explained, “I have seen this malady before. The King’s life is being drained away by the power of ‘the Net.’”

“The Net? But that is leagues and leagues from here! How can it be so?” questioned Pimpiowyn from around a mouthful of hors d’oerves from the backstage catering table. “Yes,” agreed Orogarn, “his bratwurst has grown long indeed if he can affect the king here in Improvas.”

“It is true, but Sauerkraut is crafty, and the power of his kielbasa is great. They say he walks about here and there, dressed as an old hot-dog vendor in white. The Net draws you in with delusions of great knowledge and wealth to be had, and then drains your life away in endless hours of online chat and games of Neopets and Checkers. We must perform a…disconnection.

Merisu blinked back a tear at the sad story of the king’s entrapment, and nodded her assent to Gateskeeper’s idea, as did the others. “The only way Sauerkraut could maintain a connection with this realm is through the power of the great thighs in the center of the room,” Gateskeeper continued. There are magic lines that connect the king's desk top to the thighs, but they cannot simply be cut – the disconnection cannot be too sudden, or the king might be killed outright. This means two things. We must stall for time, and one of us has to get close to those thigh-lines without being noticed.”

Grrrralph, in his voice of miserable cheer, volunteered to go first when Grimy came back to fetch the first kôntestant for the show. And then the rest of the group dissolved into discussions of comedy routines, songs they might sing, or snatches of old plays they could remember. Orogarn and Gateskeeper stepped aside to discuss how to distract the crowd from their approach to the Great Thighs, and Grrrralph followed Grimy back to the stage.

When the poorly-tuned band played the advertising troupe off the stage, Grimy announced, “Ladies and Gentlemen of Soreham, Sorethighhim Idol is pleased to present, from parts unknown, the inimitable Grrrralph!” There appeared to be some renewed interest from the crowd and a smattering of real applause as the patrons settled in for the first performance of an outsider upon their stage. Once the applause died away, Grrrralph motioned with one hand to the band, who began a mournful tune. Then, with a slow deliberate motion, Grrrralph did something completely unexpected: he removed his hood…

*with posthumous apologies to C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

[ September 23, 2003: Message edited by: Thenamir ]
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Old 09-12-2003, 10:46 AM   #66
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“Are we there, yet? I can smell burnt dog flesh.” whined Schnozza in a voice which seemed to emanate almost entirely from his bulbous nose, despite the constant stream of thick unpleasant gloop that should have blocked its passage.

“What’s that, sonny? I can’t hear a word yer saying for the racket of those darned hooves and that blessed music,” replied Sedric, his ears flapping in the soft breeze as he swayed unsteadily on his scrawny legs.

“Don’t be silly,” giggled Snigga as his bulging eyes scanned the horizon. “There’s the King’s Hall, look. Over there. They just went in. Hehe. We got miles to go yet.”

The group stood on the outskirts of Soreham regarding the wide plains and great open lands of the Mike, the dazzling view spoiled only by the detritus which marked the passing of their quarry. They were indeed at least a days’ ride from Improvas. The stubborn footfalls of Twinkle had proved no match for the sturdy mounts of the Riders of Soreham and the Guys’n Dolls-ship’s own steeds and so they had fallen somewhat behind in their pursuit.

“Who you callin’ silly, yer gibbering clown?” growled Schnozza.

“That would be you, big-nose.” tittered Snigga.

“Eh?” said Sedric.

“Why, you …” spluttered Schnozza, picking up a rock and hurling it at Snigga. The goggle-eyed Goblin ducked and the rock hit Sedric squarely on the forehead, knocking him to the ground. Snigga was by now giggling uncontrollably.

“Hey! Watch it, sonny. Or I’ll punch that fat hooter of yours clean through yer head!” exclaimed Sedric, his joints creaking as he slowly picked himself up.

“Oh yeah! You and whose army?”

“Barmy am I? Well, I can still show yer a thing or two, yer young whipper-snapper. That’s the problem with you young Orcs these days. No regard for yer elders. I am Sedric! I command …” he paused, groping for the right word “… respect!”

“You don’t even have command over yer own bladder.”

At this, the ancient Orc flew at Schnozza, displaying an agility which had previously been notably lacking. The two of them rolled around on the ground in a whirl of flying fists, flapping ears and droplets of goo.

“He he … tee hee … a-ha … a-ha … A-HAA HAA HAA!” howled Snigga, huge tears welling up in his enormous eyes as he too rolled around on the ground convulsing with laughter, until the two grappling Goblins grabbed him.

Some days previously, Soregum had taken the decision to ignore his companions. But now, as he sat on his dainty steed slightly apart from them, the sound of their bickering and the ensuing melee nurtured in him an intense desire to be rid of them. And gradually a plan emerged within his shrouded head.

“Come on,” he said, urging the reluctant Twinkle forward.

*****************************

Several hours later the gormless Goblins, noticing Soregum’s absence, curtailed their scrapping and set off after him. They found him lying on a low hill, surveying a Sorthighhim settlement that lay a short distance away. Twinkle stood at some distance grazing on the patchy grass.

“You stay here,” he commanded them. “I’ll scout ahead.” As he moved off stealthily, the grotesque trio took no time in resuming their squabble.

The settlement comprised a large grouping of covered wagons clustered around a low thatched building. The site was littered with burnt-out chariots, discarded wagon-wheels and other such rubbish and drab clothes hung from lines strung between the wagons. As Soregum approached, the place seemed deserted, although he could discern above the sound of dogs barking a low murmur, punctuated by the occasional howl, which seemed to come from the building in the centre. Slowly, he crept between the long wagons, which had clearly not moved in many a year, making for the building. Once there, he hid in the shadows at the side and peered through a grimy window.

Inside, he saw a large number of people, seemingly the entire population of the Wagon Park, sitting in rows facing a stage, chattering excitedly amongst themselves and letting off the odd enthusiastic whoop every now and then. They were rough and unkempt and presented a startling variety of shapes and sizes ranging from the clinically obese to the dangerously skeletal. Their hair was, without exception, a pale straw colour, the favoured style (for both men and women) being long at the back but cropped short on the top and sides. For some strange reason, the style put Soregum in mind of a fish of some description, although he could not place which one. But, despite their apparent modest means and poor fashion sense, they seemed a merry folk. And they certainly appeared to be enjoying their food and drink. Soregum’s heart leapt at the sight of the enormous portions of beefsteaks, chops, ribs, cutlets, beans and fried potatoes, and the copious quantities of ale, being served at the bar.

As he watched, a small bespectacled man clutching a mikestand sprang neatly onto the stage. Immediately, the crowd erupted into a cacophony of cheers, howls and catcalls, chanting at the tops of their voices: “JÉORRI! … JÉORRI! … JÉORRI! …”

“Thank you. You are most kind.” began Jéorri as the noise of the audience subsided. Adopting an earnest expression, he continued “Have you ever wondered whether your partner might be seeing someone else behind your back? Well that’s exactly what our next guest has been doing. And it wasn’t another man, or even a woman, she was seeing. Let’s meet her. Put your hands together for Léonora.”

The crowd went wild again as a plump woman with short cropped hair jumped out of her seat and ran on to the stage waving her arms wildly and screaming uncontrollably.

“Hello Léonora.”

“Hi Jéorri.”

“You’ve been seeing Éodmund for some months now, is that right?”

“Why, dat’s right, Jéorri. An’ ah do lurve him, Jéorri. Ah really do.”

“But you’ve got something to tell him, haven’t you.”

“Yeah, ah sure have, Jéorri … ah bin gone seein’ someone else on da side.”

Léonora sniffled and wiped non-existent tears from her eyes as the audience engaged in some good-natured booing and whistling.

“Well let’s bring Éoddi on so you can tell him yourself.”

Again, the crowd erupted as a mountain of a man, his head completely shaven save for a braided strand that resembled the tail of a rat hanging down at the rear, entered the room and took to the stage. He was apparently quite oblivious to what had been occurring up to now and waved and smiled to the audience as he made his way up to Léonora and embraced her. Then, egged on by Jéorri, she sat down and took his hands in hers, looking down at the floor in feigned embarrassment.

“Ya know ah lurve ya, Éoddi baby, dontcha …. but ah got somethin’ dat ah gotta say to ya …. um … well, it’s like dis, baby … ah bin seein’ someone else …”

Éoddi looked crestfallen. As the tears welled up in his eyes, all he could say was “But … who …?”

“It’s Dwain Hammerhand, baby…”

“Why dat *bleep*in’ midget! I’ll *bleep*in’ grind his *bleep*in’ bones to *bleep*! I’ll fry his *bleep*in’ beard!” exclaimed Éoddi, rising to his feet as his temper got the better of him. The bleeps came courtesy of a little old man with a loud tin whistle standing at the rear of the stage, whose job it was to drown out the most colourful of the expletives.

“He ain’t no *bleep*in’ midget, Éoddi! He’s a Dwaaarf, a *bleep*in’ Dwaaarf!” cried Léonora, as if the correction was likely to calm the distraught man down.

“Well, let’s meet him.” said Jéorri, helpfully.

Howls, whistles, jeers and whoops filled the room as a sturdy Dwarf with a long red beard, braided in the manner of his kind, entered and walked up to the group on stage. As Éoddi made a lunge for him, two burly fellows leapt on stage to restrain him and hold them apart. By now all three were cursing loudly at each other and the little old man with the tin whistle began to turn an alarming shade of red with the effort of keeping it clean.

Judging that the time was right, Soregum ran up to the door and burst into the room, feigning terror and shouting at the top of his voice “ORCS! ORCS ARE COMING! HELP!”

As one the crowd went silent and turned to look at Soregum.

“I’m being chased by a band of Orcs! Help me!” he cried.

This crowd erupted again, cheering, howling, whooping and whistling all at once.

“Where?” cried Éoddi, immediately forgetting his former woes in the excitement.

“Just outside town to the east.” replied Soregum.

“Well how d’ya like dat! Looks like we gonna hunt ourselves some Orc!” shouted Éoddi, making for the door. The entire room followed him, brandishing an assortment of crude wooden mikestands, banjos, mouth organs and wash-boards.

*****************************

The Goblin trackers, still thoroughly engrossed in their dispute, never stood a chance. Within no time, their three misshapen heads were proudly on display, impaled on wooden mikestands on the outskirts of the Wagon Park. And shortly thereafter, Soregum was sitting comfortably at the bar with a large mug of ale and drawing with satisfaction on his pipe, having just polished off six courses of assorted meat, fried vegetables and pastries, while a local poet, Éominem, entertained the crowd.

As he happily went on his way the following morning, Soregum stopped to smile cheerfully at his unfortunate former companions. Things were looking up. Even Twinkle was happier, having been comfortably stabled overnight and sharing his pleasure at the absence of the quarrelsome Orcs. As they rode off in the direction of Improvas, Soregum began to whistle.

Shortly after his departure, a dark horde appeared on the hills surrounding the Wagon Park and began to file inexorably towards the small settlement, brandishing cruel eviction notices and terrible redevelopment signs.

[ September 12, 2003: Message edited by: The Saucepan Man ]
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Old 09-13-2003, 09:01 AM   #67
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END OF DISK ONE!

TO CONTINUE THE REUNIFICATION OF THE ENTISH BOW PLEASE INSERT DISK TWO!

Thank You.
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Old 09-15-2003, 02:33 PM   #68
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1420!

Translator's Note
Quote:
Hear ye not the hum
Of mighty workings in the human mart?
Listen awhile, ye nations, and be dumb.
John Keats was, of course, a great enthusiast of Entish literature, and took an active part in the four-year project to translate this section of the text. This project ended in disaster with the insanity of the Reverend Dr. Ernest Thrippshaw, head of the project, and the sudden descent into opium abuse of all thirteen of his colleagues. This was attributed to the influence of Keats himself until Professor Olaf Gundvarsson of the University of Oslo reported his team's findings that one sentence, which requires almost a full day to recite, is in fact an obscure tense of the verb to be. The translation into English via Norwegian is reportedly "I might be in the season when ancient roots course once more with youthful sap and leaves sprout forth, but shall not be in the cold, cold season in which leaves fall and frost bites the bough. Of late the ivy drinks too deep and axes are heard, yet nonetheless the acorn of hope puts out its tender shoots, and I am thankful for your interest." As one may readily observe, this sentence is a great deal more concise and memorable in modern English, albeit that the newer language would be considered obscenely hasty by Entish standards. The final word, I think, should go to Dr. Thrippshaw himself, whose tireless work on the following section has gone so woefully unrewarded, even among his fellow philologists: "Do not speak to me of Entish bows! I am at my wits' end with them, and had not the great Emperor Charlemagne lately appointed me Elector Palatine I should stand before you now a babbling lunatic! Begone from me, thou foul reptiles, for thou art tainted with the juice of the radish; and such are anathema to all who follow the Vole of Truth!" (Impromptu valedictory address to the University of Oxford, August 18th, 1819)
-----------------

Mithadan's Post:

Grrralph stepped up onto the stage and cleared his throat. Then he drew his sword. A grrrowl arose from the audience, but the wraith waved them away and began a dance, using his sword in place of a cane. Then he began to sing.

"What good is sitting
alone on your throne?
In your old robes, starched and pressed?
Life is an endless quest, old chum.
Come on and join our quest..."

Grrralph tapped and spun his way across the stage, then stopped directly before the King. With a deliberate motion, he raised a glove and yanked down his hood. In the dim light, it appeared that a shadow occupied the space between his cloak and a black steel helmet that rested upon his...shadow. Then, moving in time with the beat of a drum, the hood crept back into place, bit by bit, resembling a black slug crawling upon a rock.

The King laughed and clapped delightedly as Grrralph resumed his song and dance. The wraith began a bump and grind, then did the splits as he sang.

"Put down your knitting,
your sceptre, your crown.
Come have a holiday!
Life is an endless quest, old chum.
Come join our quest today!"

Grrralph again halted before the throne. This time he raised his sword and swung it like a baton. In its final twirl, it cut off his hood (Grrralph had ducked his head down into his cloak, turtle-fashion). The cloth fell to the ground and disappeared in a puff of smoke. But from his shoulders, threads crept up like a nest of snakes and, writhing in time with the music, wove themselves together into a new hood.

"Oh, he's good!" cried the King. "He's good! How do you do that, huh? C'mon, tell me how you do that!"

Grrralph bowed, then spoke in a deep and mournful voice. "I will tell you as much as I know, or at least, what I can recall," answered the wraith. "It's kind of a riddle, I think."

His eyes shone bright red as he continued:

"You've been traded to me,
for fair compensation.
For a reasonable fee,
you'll join our dark nation.

You'll wear my gear,
cloak, armor and hood,
now don't shed a tear,
but they're with you for good.

They'll weigh on your mind,
they ain't going away soon,
until potion you find,
made from light of the moon."

Then, with another bow, Grralph backed away and ceded the stage to the next entertainer.

******
Squatter's Continued Post:

There comes a time in the career of every great hero when he is compelled to hold conversation with inanimate objects. Perhaps this is in some way due to the action of the heroic metabolism, which enables them to hear and see that which is hidden from lesser men. Perhaps it is a property of the weapons they carry that they should possess the gift of speech. Then again, perhaps it is a sign that most heroes are stark raving bonkers and not to be trusted with any task more complicated than mucking out the stables. Whatever the reasons, Earnur was currently conversing with the dread blade Bystandr[1] that men now call Griper.

"Look, I don't see what's so difficult to grasp about this: you're a sword. Your entire purpose in existing at all is to maim and kill, to have oaths sworn on your blade and to look impressive for passing damosels. What's the point in being a sword if you hate fighting?"

I didn't ask to be a sword, you know: back when I was just an ingot I wanted to be a ploughshare. It was just my bad luck that I happened to fall into the hands of Dwarves just as they got a big order from the king of Dor Sumyewinion. I was a victim of society.

"That's what they all say," replied the implacable knight. "But no sword of mine is going to be a conscie. You'd better buck up and do a good job or I'll have you made into a shovel and give you Jethro the stable boy! Now be quiet: I have to think."

On the other side of the moth-eaten velvet curtain that separated them from the main hall, all was silence as Grrralph made his way to the stage. The unisex-ship dithered heroically, asking pointless questions about the king's connection to the net whilst hedging around the real issue of who was actually going to sever that link. It was now clear to all of them that as ill-luck would have it the great Thighs that appeared to hold up the roof of the Goldlamé Hall were parts of the Ent That Was Broken, and therefore fair game for theft. It was also clear that pinching them would be a lot more difficult in front of a hall full of people. Perhaps, then, it was just as well that at that moment, on the other side of the curtain, Grrralph removed his hood and launched into his act. As he spun and gyrated to the end of his eerie performance, all eyes other than those of the fuddled King were fixed on the dark figure in horror. Several people unfortunate enough to believe the evidence of their eyes sidled towards the exits and Grimy made as though to flee the stage. At that moment, as the success of their unrehearsed and rather shaky gambit hung in the balance, Kuruharan opened his hand, in which lay a small black box. From it, tinny yet perfectly audible, came the sound of fair Elven singing, and it slowly swelled to fill the entire hall.

*******

[1]In Quixotic, this name can mean either to be present or not to be present at a great event. Why this somewhat odd pun should be given as a name to a sword was a compete mystery before the translation of The Re-Unification of the Entish Bow, which has shed new light on this as on a number of other aspects of life in Muddled Mirth.

[ September 23, 2003: Message edited by: The Squatter of Amon Rûdh ]

[ September 23, 2003: Message edited by: Mithadan ]
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Old 09-16-2003, 02:17 AM   #69
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And lo! feathery light strains of music suddenly erupted delicately on the scene. The renowned Elven minstrel, Barrë Maníloe, smirked out a tune* that was catchy in much the same way a cold is catching.

Her name was Loléf, she was a half-elf
With Similars in her hair and pointy ears pointing... there!
She would sing and do the springle-ring
And while she tried to be a star,
Toní was imprisoned in Barad-dûr
In a dungeon full of gore,
They tortured him from 8 till 4
What is one limb when you have another?
Who could ask for more?

At the Barad (Ai!), Barad-dûr-a (or Barát-Höm-a)
The hottest spot east of Grundor-a
At the Barad (Ai!), Barad-dûr-a
Fire and pain was always the game
At the Barad....they wear gloves

(Barad Barad-dûr-a!)

Her name is Loléf, she was a half-elf
But that was a stanza or so ago,
When this used to be a poem
Now it's a ramble, but not for Loléf
Still pointing with her ears, Stones of Feeblnore in her hairs
She sips Strangeeks all the time, and drinks 'Mudwater till she's blind
She lost her immortality and she lost her Toní
Now she's lost her mind!


* Lyrics copyright Third Age by Vogonwë Brownbark and Muddy Music Records
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Old 09-23-2003, 11:06 AM   #70
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Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
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The music box tune was well received by the audience. The audience, that is, of the two crickets in the rafters who chirped their approval. The rest of the room was dead silent.

Kuruharan just stood there rather awkwardly for a minute. Then he turned bright red. The king scratched, Grimy looked lustfully at Merisuwyniel, and the audience started a growl of displeasure.

Seeing that things were going a bit pear-shaped, Chrysophylax jumped on the stage to exert his recently acquired star power to quiet the crowd. Alas, the stage was of rather shoddy construction, and even at the best of times Chrysophylax might have been too much dragon for any stage to sustain the blow.

*CREEEEEEK-BOOOOOM!!!!*

"BOOOOOOOO!!!!!" howled the crowd.

Things were starting to look grim for the Gallowship when who should come galloping to the rescue but Falafel, with a kazoo. Falafel burst into the hall, saw the desperate situation that the Questers were in, and started playing on the kazoo a peppy little tune guaranteed to lift the spirits of even the ugliest crowd. It was from the ancient lore of Monteé Pi-thon. Being versed in this archaic lore Kuruharan, Chrysophylax, and Vogonwë started dancing a happy jig that went with the tune.

When they finally got their dance steps in sync (no easy task because Chrysophylax kept stepping on everyone’s toes) they all burst forth into song.

We’re Questers in an Entish Fable,
We dance where ere we’re able!
We do routines and chorus scenes,
And footwork impeccable!
And though we tend to destroy a lot,
We eat tons of bacon and Spam a lot!!!


As the happy tune continued, the three revelers then leapt from the ruins of the stage and started prancing about the hall, bonking the guards on their helmets in time to the music.

"Now’s our chance," hissed Earnur. With that he and the Gateskeeper ran forward to the Thighs. The Gateskeeper pulled out a pair of hack-saws from…somewhere. Each of them took one and they began to saw on the bolts holding down one of the Thighs for all they were worth, in time to the music, of course.

Merisuwyniel realized that the time of greatest danger had come. She had to do something to get the rest of the crowd going to the music. Just as she was about to jump forward to join in conking everyone in the vicinity on the noggin she was grabbed by Grimy.

"Beautiful lady," oozed Grimy, with somewhat less charm than a rabid snake, "now we are alone at last."

"Uuuk," groaned Merisuwyniel, shuddering violently. "You should really do something about that oozing! Here’s a tissue."

Grimy tossed the hanky aside and grabbed Merisuwyniel’s hand. Merisuwyniel tried to escape but only succeeded in dragging Grimy across the floor.

Hámanchese saw what was going on and bellowed the traditional mating cry of the Mike.

"SPAM!!!"

We’re Questers in an Entish Fable,
Someday we may be on cable.


"Oh darling, OUCH!!" he intoned as he was dragged into a table leg. "I observe that your companions are familiar with the great lore of Monteé Pi-thon. Allow me to sing you one of their most touching love songs."

"Let go of me you little fungus!!!" screamed Merisuwyniel, beginning a series of savage kicks in the general direction of the clingy Grimy.

"SPAM!!!" shouted some of the Sorethighhim.

"OW!" said Grimy. "We always *OOF* hurt the ones we *HOICK* love," he sighed philosophically under the rain of blows.

The massive thud of the first Thigh falling to the ground was missed in the general confusion.

"SPAM!!! SPAM!!!" cried the Sorethighhim.

We’ll burn down towns, and loot your grounds,
And treasures if ere were able!


...crooned Chrysophylax, Kuruharan, and Vogonwë still prancing about like there was no tomorrow (and tomorrow wasn’t looking good).

Having just survived being trampled by a dancing Chrysophylax, Grimy launched into his own song from his vast store of Monteé Pi-thon knowledge.

Sit on my face,
And tell me that you love me!


"AAAIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!" screeched Merisuwyniel.

"SPAM!!!!!" bawled the Sorethighhim.

*BOP* went Vogonwë right on the head of Théboleggen King.

*PLOP* went Théboleggen King to the floor.

"GASP!!!" went the crowd.

"SPAM!!" shouted Hámanchese.

"I love to hear you moralize Yee-OUCH…" faltered Grimy as Merisuwyniel’s kick found his shoulder as silence mercifully fell on the hall.

Everyone stared at Théboleggen King.

Earnur and the Gateskeeper stopped in mid-stroke and tried to look like they were not engaged in a bizarre act of grand larceny.

"Uhhhhh…" said Vogonwë. He looked desperately in Falafel’s direction.

Falafel understood and began the tune again. Vogonwë nervously sang,

We’re Questers in an Entish Fable,
The King is now under the table!!!


Nobody moved, except Théboleggen King, who started to shake slightly to the music.

Everyone stared in disbelief. Orogarn Two’s crystal started jumping about in a rather odd fashion. He ignored it for a minute.

Suddenly, wonder of wonders, Théboleggen King sprang to his feet and started dancing about like a deranged marionette and walloping Grimy on the head, in time to the music (naturally).

"Cured!!" cried the Gallowship, as they joined him in bashing Grimy about the head and shoulders. "He’s CURED!!!"

"SPAM!!!!!" cried the Sorethighhim in joy.

"Free!!!" shouted Merisuwyniel as Grimy flopped limply on the floor. "I’m Free!!!"

"Done!!" shouted Earnur and the Gateskeeper as the other Thigh crashed to the ground. They seized it and started dragging it out the door.

"What is it?!!" snapped Orogarn Two at his crystal. He pulled out his "Crystal Translation Manual" to try to figure out the problem.

"SPAM!!!" cried the Sorethighhim for no particular reason.

"Let’s see here…" Orogarn began, as the rest of the Gallowship started battering everyone in the hall into unconsciousness. "Hmm…a diseased cow is about to drop her cud in my hoop-skirt?" The crystal leapt about in a distraught fashion. "No…ummm…Earnur is about to be impregnated by a blue elephant?" The crystal just sprang about all the more. "Uhhh…Kuruharan’s been sucking horseshoes when he thought that nobody was looking?" The crystal about jumped off Orogarn Two’s neck. "Oh, here it is, roof is about to fall on head!" The crystal came as close as it could to screaming "YES!" even though it did not have a mouth.

"RUM…darnit…I mean, RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!!!" he yelled.

"SPAM!!!!" howled the surviving crowd in alarm.

The Gallowship grabbed the other Thigh and dragged it outside.

The Goldlamé Hall fell with a sound that is becoming rather stock in this chronicler’s particular series of postings, so we will spare you in the interest of easing off on the repetitiveness.

[ September 23, 2003: Message edited by: Kuruharan ]
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Old 09-23-2003, 05:45 PM   #71
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Sting

A cloud of dust arose from That-Which-Had-Been-Goldlamé-Hall-And-Now-Is-Rubble. The dustcloud formerly known as Goldlamé chased the Itship and Its woody burden down the hill. Accompanying the cloud in its puruit was a largish mob of Sorethighhim, led by a highly annoyed Érry. Burdened by the massive Thighs, it appeared that the Gallowship would soon be caught.

The Gateskeeper, arms windmilling wildly as he ran, pulled up next to Kuruharan and panted out a suggestion. "Firewall!" he cried. The Dwarf blinked and shouted to Chrysophylax who halted, spun and let forth a blast which halted the advancing mob in its tracks. "Great!" cried the Gateskeeper. "Now have the dragon pick up both of the Thighs and carry them off as we run!" The aforesaid dragon's eyes narrowed at these words and he pointed his snout at the bespectacled man and emitted a dark puff of smoke which, of course, in dragon language means "I am not amused."

"OK," said the Gateskeeper between coughs. "Bad idea. Have the dragon keep the Sorethighhim away while we think of something else." However, after the brilliant array of diversionary tactics which had been employed before Théboleggen King, the Itship was fresh out of ideas.

Suddenly, from high above them came a strident call which sounded like a cross between a foghorn and a trombone. Grrralph straightened at the sound and let loose a long and mournful wail in answer. His screech echoed until the air seemed to shake, and as it faded away a large shape plummeted from the sky and landed in their midst.

It was, of course, a Nazgul. A rather large, reddish-tinged Nazgul, complete with razor-sharp claws, dagger-like fangs and severe halitosis. "Grrruff!" cried Grrralph as he ran forward and, to the Itship's lasting shock, embraced the beast. "Good girl! You came!"

"Cooooo," answered Gruff, as she nuzzled Grrralph affectionately.

"Grrruff, sweety, could you help us carry one of these Thighs?" asked the wraith.

"Coooo!" answered Gruff. The Nazgul preened the leathery collar around its throat for a moment, then seized a Thigh in her claws and rose into the air.

"Dragon!" cried Grrralph. "Could you carry the other?" Chrysophylax rebuilt his firewall between the mob and the Gallowship, then turned and lifted the second Thigh and headed for the city limits.

Grrruff looked at the dragon rising into the air beside her, then batted her eyes and spread her leathery collar. "Cooooo?" she exclaimed as she followed Chrysophylax away from Improvas, perhaps a bit too closely.

"I've got a bad feeling about this..." grumbled Kuruharan as the Gallowship raced for the stables...
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Old 09-24-2003, 08:09 AM   #72
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Sting

She had never felt this way before. Oh sure, there had been others. You don‘t work for an outfit like Moredough without meeting your share of fell beasts on the make, (and she would never forget her first time at the sack of Ozfestiath). But all those others meant nothing now. For the first time in her long career of rampaging and terrorizing, Grrruff the Nazgrrl was in love.

“I never knew such perfection could exist”, she thought. He had the pear-shaped body and short forelegs of a dancer, and the sun shining through his wing membranes outlined every vein and tendon. And he belched flame! Grrruff thought of all the ichor-dripping clods who had tongued her in the past, and then wondered what it would feel like to have her neck tickled with gentle blasts from that internal inferno. Suddenly she felt a glorious tingle in her scaly nethers, and softly cooed his name to herself, rolling it off her forked, spotted tongue: “Chrrrrrysssssophphphphphylaxxxxxxxxxx…”

A high-pitched shriek brought Grrruff back to the present, and she glanced down to see the log she had been carrying had slipped from her distracted claws, and was pin wheeling towards earth. It plummeted towards the heads of the strange band of frozen questers below, all the time screaming “falling….falling….I’M FALLIIIIIING!!!

Rolling her eyes and heaving a sigh, she languidly swooped down to snatch the worthless log in midair, wondering why her partner, Grrralph, (a goblin had once referred to Grrralph as her “pet”. Once.) wanted to lug this particular piece of firewood along. She gave it an irritated shake in order to stop its whimpering, and flapped her wings to catch up with Chrysophylax, who was by now far ahead.

The great section of Entish body part gave a heart-rending groan, squeezed shut its knothole eyes, and blew chips - right on the heads of the straggling Petship.
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Old 09-24-2003, 11:01 AM   #73
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Sting

Sauerkraut sat in his luxurious home-office on the top floor of the tower of Dorktank, watching the talented It-Ship perform on the stage of Improvas through his Net connection on his new 42-inch flat-plasma-screen cell-antir. "An amusing group," mused the old wizard, "I must see if that Grrrralph is available for our next U-Rock-High musical production." He had been trying to decide between You're a Good Orc, Grizhnakh Brown and Seven Beasts for Seven Nazgul, but now he considered perhaps Burglar on the Roof might be more appropriate for that impish dwarf and his dragon.

Things seemed to be going well. Mogul had no idea that his advertising campaign was already being broadcast to the population of Soreham. Let Mogul have his billboards, hah, Sauerkraut thought, my persuasive ads are going directly into the homes of the Sorethighhim, into their living rooms, into their minds. My mole, that Hasbeen, has turned out to be a useful idiot, setting up my cell-antir connections to the power of those Ent pieces right under their very noses. I will rule with none to...

Sauerkraut's overconfident reverie was interrupted when his newfangled cell-antir screen went suddenly to static, then to a "Technical Difficulties, Please Stand By" display. He arose from his obsidian throne (with the hand-crocheted seat cover for those cold winter mornings) and pounded on the cell-antir with his wrinkled but hale fists in frustration. "Badlûk!" he called to his minion-in-waiting, who scampered into the room like an over-steroidal orangutan. "Send out a 'repair' team to check our Soreham base station, double-quick!" Badlûk high-tailed it out of the room at top speed. He had no intention of having his tail used for a broom.

"Grimy is going to have a lot to answer for if those thighs are damaged..."
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Old 09-30-2003, 04:57 PM   #74
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Sting

[And now, a word from our sponsor.]

[FADE UP]

[INTERIOR, CAVE/MINE LAUNDRY AREA. A DWARF is taking dirty clothes from a basket and placing them into a large open washtub. He is approached by a SECOND DWARF who observes the FIRST DWARF in action.]

FIRST DWARF: [grumbling loudly]

SECOND DWARF: Hi, Gloom, son of Glum. What'cha grumblin' about? Not that you need an excuse...

FIRST DWARF: Oh, it's you, Gleam son of Beam. [sighs] It's just these mine-working clothes. Ever since I started digging for the mithril I just can't seem to get the grey out. My whites look like they've been washed in a pipeweed ashcan.

SECOND DWARF: [looking over FIRST DWARF's shoulder] That's because you're using that homemade soap alone.

FIRST DWARF: But I've always used it! How do you get your grimy work clothes so clean after a day in the mines?

SECOND DWARF: You need the awesome whitening power of [Holds up bottle of] BALROX BLEACH!

FIRST DWARF: [quizzically] Balrox?

SECOND DWARF: [taking the cork from the bottle and pouring the contents librerally into the washtub] Sure!

ANNOUNCER: [voice over as FIRST DWARF begins scrubbing his clothes on a washboard in the washtub] Balrox Bleach is made from pure lake-water from the uttermost foundations of stone combined with only the finest demons of the ancient world! Guaranteed to make leech every bit of dirt (and color) from your clothes, leaving them their whitest!

FIRST DWARF: [holding up a gleaming white tunic] That's amazing!

ANNOUNCER: [voice over as THE TWO DWARVES admire the newly cleaned tunic] And Balrox is safe for sensitive hands, without leaving that disgusting "White-Hand" residue.

FIRST DWARF: [grinning, looking at his hands] And it leaves my hands soft and silky-smooth!

SECOND DWARF: Wow! Those look just like my wife's hands!

FIRST DWARF: [serious tone] I am your wife.

[A beat passes, then they both begin laughing]

ANNOUNCER: [voice over, close up picture of BALROX BLEACH bottle] Take it from Gandalf, Balrox whitens clothes clean. [DISCLAIMER, spoken very quickly] Balrox is a corrosive and should not be used for cleaning chainmail or leather products. Do not expose to sparks or open flames. Another fine product from Mogul Enterprises.]

[FADE OUT]

[And now, back to our quest]

After many miles of running, limping, flying and panting, interspersed with intervals of gumbling, panting, sweating and (manly) swearing, the Fello/Gallo/Non-specified/It-ship collapsed for the night, having left their pursuers far behind (and some of them lightly baked)....

[ September 30, 2003: Message edited by: Thenamir ]
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Old 10-03-2003, 03:45 PM   #75
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Sting

Lord Earnur Etceteron, Laird of Dun Sóbrin, Master of the Dim Bar, Warden of the Oddly Shaped Disputed Bit and Knight of the Order of the Gilded Hedgehog, was engaged in vital affairs of state. At times such as this, with the soiled linen beneath his hands and the cold water of a virgin spring rippling over his manly laundry, he felt truly at one with nature, and free from the trammels of the habitually served.

In other words, Earnur was putting a brave face on the fact that, with his valet far off in the mists of distant Dun Sóbrin and quietly looting his wine cellar, he was having to clean Entish vomit from his own shirts. He had long ago ceased to feel his hands, and his spare outfit was becoming distinctly moist as he reflected on his good fortune in being born into a profligate and dissipated aristocracy; and just how little this high birth really meant to a man drenched in sap-soaked chippings in the middle of the picturesque Wild.

As he slapped a recalcitrant pair of britches one last time against a freezing block of granite, he sighed manfully, and not for the first time he longed for a warming draught of Strangereeks' Celebrated Pheasant, now proscribed for its tendency to make him impersonate Queen Badtüthiel and her Fabulous Flying Felines, whose brand of inept acrobatics had so dismally failed to enthral him as a boy. Perhaps, he reflected, this was not so great a trial as various dignitaries had suggested.

At this moment, as he was preparing to make a start on some stubborn resin stains to his doublet, he was roused from his reverie by a cheery voice, which fell upon his mood rather as an avian bowel movement falls on an unsuspecting bridal party.

'Morning, Squire. Luvly day fer it, if I may make so bold.'

The speaker was the sort of jovial peasant who is normally described as 'the salt of the earth', or in other words someone whose over-liberal presence ruins one's meals, and who is unconscionably bad for the heart. Earnur was preparing to greet him in kind when he noticed something interesting about the man's demeanour: he was leading by a halter a team of four horses, which were yoked to a conveniently large cart. The noble and manly Lord therefore changed tack very slightly.

'Good morrow, goodman Carter! And what brings you forth so early on this fine morning?'

If the haulier was at all surprised by this unwarranted good cheer he made no sign, although some might have noted that his eyebrows knit slightly from the healthy paranoia of the solid yeoman.

'Business, my Lord. A carter's work is never done, so they say.'

A look passed between the mighty steed Pinkjin and the carter's team that suggested otherwise, but it went unnoticed by their respective masters.

'Have you time to spare for some words and a little food? We are in need of news in our camp.'

The carter thought for a few moments, weighing the pressing business of overcharging farmers for his services against the obvious wealth and stupidity of his new acquaintance. The thought of a second breakfast swiftly won him over and he followed our noble hero back to the meadow in which the Neutership had made its weary camp on the previous evening.

Greeted fairly by the companions, and somehow persuaded against reason that Chrysophylax Dives, scourge of small businessmen, posed no immediate danger, the jolly countryman accepted a beaker full of the warm South (in the form of some 'rare herbal tea') and was soon conversing cheerfully about his love of games of chance. So it was that Kuruharan the Dwarf never finished brushing his beard, and that soon our valiant friends were under way once more, the mighty Thighs now lashed firmly to a sturdy wagon. Behind them, naked but for a shirt too filthy even to be sold as a herbal poultice, a simple country fellow sat and counted the jellyfish that sported between the roseate clouds of Dawn, lamenting the kindness of strangers in language only truly mastered by honest sons of the soil.

With constitutions as weak as ever the Thighs continued to emit clouds of sawdust and globs of resin, but in their cart-bound state these failed to bring about any further random acts of laundry. The company rode forth in triumph into a brave new Wold in a glorious dearth of epic verse.

[ October 03, 2003: Message edited by: The Squatter of Amon Rûdh ]
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Old 10-04-2003, 01:55 PM   #76
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Silmaril

The day was balmy and bright, and so also felt Vogonwë son of Geppettuil, third cousin of Throngduil, thrice removed, as he rode along on his stupid steed, Tweedledum the Twaddle-brained.

The half-elf paused to wonder if it would be more expeditious to announce himself as simply “Vogonwë Brownbark, third cousin of O Lando L’oréal Bloom thrice removed” (or was that “fourth” and “quadruple”?) for O Lando seemed to be considerably more popular and well known than his father. Saying “Throngduil” often got blank stares unless he remembered to tack on the “King of Workmud” bit, which felt rather tacky, because any King worth his lembas should need no clarification. On the other hand, everyone had heard of O Lando, and many females swooned at the very mention of the name. “I’m his cousin, you know,” was a most effective pickup line. And just so long as you never let your girlfriend actually meet the fellow in person, things could go smashingly from there.

Vogonwë pulled his mind from this aside and firmly returned it to the matter at hand—the day was nice. Sunny, a bit of a breeze blowing from the west, a few puffy white clouds drifting languidly across the jet stream. Somewhere off in the lush, distant lands they were headed for, a light midmorning spritz of life giving rain was pattering down. Vogonwë started to placidly hum an old Elvish ballad; “On th’ Ëroádà Gaín”, while brushing flies from the flanks of his horse with a whisk broom. If only, he mused, the animal could figure out how to flick its own tail.

Riding beside him, on Tweedledee the Twitty, Pimpi heaved a long, heavy, melodramatic sigh. After Vogonwë missed his cue (and continued to hum cheerfully) she took a deep, deep breath and expelled it so forcefully that his hairbow was swept off his head and trampled under the horses’ hooves.

“What did you do that for?” he inquired, glancing ruefully at the mangled gray accessory on the muddy ground. He thought about cartwheeling down to retrieve it, but seeing as how for the past few weeks he hadn’t been able to coax even the slightest hint of understanding from his horse, he was now struck with a sudden apathy for the so-called wonder of kevlar communication. Still, he was off-put by the pointed way Pimpi ignored his question. “I say, sweets, what’s the matter? Why did you blow my bow down?”

“Oh, I don’t expect you to understand,” Pimpi pouted.

Somewhere, a strangely metallic voice cried out ”Danger, Vogonwë Brownbark, Danger! but Vogonwë didn’t hear it, and he replied, “That’s ridiculous. I am half-elven, which makes me perceptive, wise, and uncannily understanding.”

Pinkjin, trotting along within hearing distance, uttered a soft snort which might have insulted Vogonwë if his hairbow had not been lying forlornly in a hoof print a few strides back.

“Then you don’t have to ask, do you?” Pimpi said, with a toss of her curls.

“Let’s say that I do, and blame it on my mother’s side of the gene pool.”

“That’s just it!” Pimpi exclaimed, “You’re always yammering on about your father, and your mother, and your gene pool, and your elvish side and your mannish side and your ancient elven heritage! Do we ever talk about my heritage?”

“Well, I do recall killing someone a while back and I think it had something to do with—”

“Don’t be a smart aleck with me! You know what I mean. And besides, you males always think that killing someone is all you have to do to be supportive.”

“Isn’t it?”

“No, it’s not. I’ll tell you why I’m feeling down today, Vogonwë—”

“Hey, that rhymed.”

She flashed him a “speak and die” look, and continued “—All that time we spent in my father’s homeland, the land where I spent the first few years of my life, I could not feel the slightest bit at home. I’ve forgotten how to speak and understand their dialect, and to be honest, they all looked the same to me. Tall, big boned, flowing blond hair, blue eyes… you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. And I could not find any close relatives. Yes, while you were getting drunk and slapping men on their hindquarters (don’t think I didn’t notice that) I was trying to get in touch with my family. But alas, no one seemed to have ever heard of Éohorse son of Needahorse. Can you believe that? I mean, you’d think they’d remember a man who brought a hobbit home as his wife, but nooooo. Could I find even one old aunt? Or any cousins, even ten times removed? Noooo! I have passed through Soreham, my homeland, and I feel more acutely than ever, that I am a foundling waif; my only heritage buried in a forgotten corner of the Elven Farm!”

“Oh. That’s too bad,” Vogonwë observed. “You’re a very pretty foundling waif, though.”

“And not only that, do you realize that all this time we’ve been questing, I have gotten to do any real sheildmaidening? Oh sure, there were the trolls, and that food fight, but I wanted to do something heroic, what’s so heroic about a food fight?”

“That whole thing was about defending your honor, you know.”

“Hmph. I think you just enjoyed it,” Pimpi begged to differ (though, really, there was nothing pleading about her tone whatsoever).

“It felt heroic at the time.”

“Well, I thought we were going to be doing big, important things on this Quest. So far we’ve done nothing but burn a city and steal a couple roof supports. And where are the legions of evil? Trolls are just, well, dull and stupid creatures. Where are the hosts of darkness with which to do glorious battle?”

“Darling, it’s a beautiful day, can we sing a travelling song or something?”

“No. I knew you wouldn’t understand.”

“Look, sweetie-pie, I’ll admit that so far there hasn’t been much to write an epic poem about, but hasn’t it been the least bit fun? I think it’s been good for a few sonnets, at least. Well, limericks anyway. Bawdy doggerel. Something.”

“That’s right, it’s all about your ‘poetry’, in the end,” Pimpi rolled her eyes.

“I’m just trying to be positive.”

“And I don’t want to be positive. I want to slay hordes of Orcs and rescue people from dungeons, like last time.”

“I think both times last time the prisoner in question escaped before we had the chance to—”

“Oh, you’re impossible!” Pimpi cried, and urged Tweedledee on ahead. “I’m going to talk to Merisu, at least see listens to me! Hmph!” She and her horse trotted away, her curls bouncing and its tail flicking. Vogonwë watched them for a moment, then sulkily threw his whisk broom into the mud.

“Flick your own flies,” he muttered to Tweedledum, who of course did not understand him.

“Ah,” mused Etceteron, who had been eavesdropping along with Pinkjin the entire time. “Young love. Well I remember those days, bickering about various petty issues long into the night.” He paused, smiling at the memories of his and the fair Vinagrettial’s legendary differences of opinions over the dread sword Wylkynsion. “Those were the days….”

“Excuse me, Lord Etceteron, but I am not young. I am quite a bit older than you, at any rate, whatever age you are.”

“Well, yes, in years,” Earnur nodded. “But, since Elves mature at a slower rather than humans, if we want to talk about emotional maturity—”

“I don’t want to talk about emotional maturity!” Vogonwë snapped, and kicked his horse forward. “I’ve had enough talking, I’m going to go sulk.” And this he did for the better part of an hour, with all the diligence and passion of his elven nature. After a while, though, he fell to ruminating on which horse was stupider, Tweedledum or Tweedledee, and he composed short poem about it:

Tweedledum is dumb, we see,
What is that to Tweedledee?
Tweedledee can flicks its tail,
And at that Tweedledum does fail.
But yesterday Tweedledee ate a nail,
And Tweedledum didn’t.
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Old 10-09-2003, 03:41 PM   #77
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Silmaril

Falafel and Tweedledee cantered in companionable silence - unfortunately, for Falafel was feeling rather lonely and wishing for a companionable conversation, a wish that remained unfulfilled, since Tweedledee was a mere rent-a-mare and not an heroic steed with the gift of speech. Their riders made up for the silence – well, mostly Pimpiowyn did, talking animatedly to Merisuwyniel without noticing that her sympathetic responses sounded somewhat mechanical. The Elven maiden was much too polite to just ignore the Half-Halfling’s words and too good-natured to show her dejected feelings, but a more observant listener might have noticed a wistfulness in her eyes when she thought no one was watching her.

Her mind wandered back to the Goldlamé Hall. She was, of course, much too modest to wish for the fame of stardom, and yet… The taste of stage performance that she had experienced was just enough to whet her appetite. She did not wish for the cheap publicity of a show like the ‘Sorethighhim Idol’; her taste was nobler, higher, perhaps too much so for the common people? But she could educate the masses to a higher cultural level, perhaps. Even the terror of her previous dreams and the unpleasant experience of Grimy Hasbeen’s amorous advances could not quench the tiny flame that grew steadily within her breast. (Translator’s note: Which breast is not specified in the manuscript.)

However, as the wise and observant leader of the Whatevership, she gradually took notice of the debate going on amongst the males of their company. They had lagged behind, ostensibly making sure that the heavy burden of the Entish Thighs was not too much for the cart. She had a suspicion that they wished to recreate the bonds of male companionship which they had experienced in Soreham, and listened to their conversation, tuning one Elven ear to its masculine tones while still listening to Pimpi’s tirade with the other. (Her eyes, by the way, were busy taking in the impressions of the massive advertising campaign on the newly erected billboards and trying to find something good in them – after all, the cheery colours – well, no, they were just garish… But the interesting messages? She sighed; sometimes being positive was so strenuous! …as was multi-tasking… )

“I should very much like to see the site of so many heroic manly deeds,” said Etceteron.

“Indeed, the Sorethighhim were ever courageous allies of the Grundorians, and their fortress, the Hornyburg, could not be taken while manned,” Orogarn (Two, of course) exclaimed.

“What wonderful lays must have been penned of their deeds,” mused Vogonwë. “Perhaps I could write an ode in memory…”

Kuruharan hastened to interrupt him. “Do you remember the Glitzy Caverns of Ham Steep, Chrysophylax?” he asked the dragon. “Such wonderful strobes and mirrorballs – there was an endless pilgrimage of hip people who came to dance there. Your Workmud parties, Vogonwë, are but provincial picnics compared with its vast discos – immeasurable dancefloors, filled with never-ending music played by the coolest disc-jockeys of Muddled-Mirth.”

Grrralph’s interest perked up noticeably at the mention of music; however, he remained silent as usual, waiting to see what the others would say and do.

The Gateskeeper agreed enthusiastically – he had his own reasons for wanting to visit the fortifications. Perhaps he could get away from the others just long enough to use his portable Cell-antír and call Mogûl with the news of the Entish Thighs. He will be pleased at my clever handling of the situation, he thought.

Oh no, Merisuwyniel groaned inwardly. More Sorethighhim men means there will be more drinking and rear-slapping male shenanigans – I must appear to grant their request, yet keep the Fe-Maleship together.

“I too desire to see this impressive union of strength and beauty,” she proclaimed. “It will scarcely take us out of our way, and perhaps it will inspire us to heroic deeds of our own,” she added, smiling at Pimpiowyn. “Take care that the wagon with the Entish Thighs is kept under control – the ascent is steep indeed.”

Chrysophylax flew ahead, the lovelorn Nazgrrl close behind him. Soon the rest of them saw the walls of ancient stone, within them a lofty tower. A mighty fortress indeed - indestructible, imperishable, incorruptible, inexterminable, inextinguishable, immutable, unalterable, unchangeable, perpetual, durable, enduring, lasting, permanent, unquenchable… (OK, I guess you get the idea.)
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Old 10-11-2003, 08:38 AM   #78
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Boots

By rounding a bend, cresting a rise, jumping a gorge, crossing a plain, fording a river, pausing for lunch, taking a nap, and spinning around three times the Gallowship came to of the great fortress of the Hornyburg. It was situated at the entrance of a gorge. One massive tower stood tall and strong on one side, and a great wall blocked the rest of the gorge. The gate was gained by means of a rising causeway. This proved to be a spot of bother because the cart they had "acquired" seemed to have a knack for finding every bump and crevice in the road and every jolt sent the Thighs flying out the back and rolling back down the ramp.

"$*#%!" shouted the Gateskeeper, falling into the uncouth language of Soreham, as the Thighs rolled down the hill for the fifteenth time. "This will take all day!"

"And probably most of the night," moaned Orogarn Two.

"We do have two dragons, or one dragon and one sort of dragon," muttered Vogonwë, "why don’t they do something to help us out?!"

This remark went completely unheeded by the great beasts in question. Grrruff was busy wafting her wings in Chrysophylax’s general direction and wondering if sometime next April would be good.

Chrysophylax, on the other hand, was thoroughly flustered. It had been a very long time and he was not sure what he was supposed to do. He decided to follow the worst of his options and stare off in the other direction with a goofy expression on his face. Grrruff inched a little closer and emit a hideous stench, which no dragon in his right mind could resist. Chrysophylax, in a spectacular fit of emotional constipation, made himself very busy staring at the ground. As a matter of fact, the ground was fascinating. There were two spiders down there expressing their deep and abiding love for each other. That made him feel even more uncomfortable (especially when he saw what happened to the male as soon as they were done). Left feeling a little woozy, Chrysophylax flopped down on the ground and tried to forget what he had just seen and all the other things that could possibly go wrong.

He sat there so long that he failed to notice when the Gallowship had reloaded the cart and started up the causeway.

It hardly mattered because ten minutes later there came a *THUMP* *BUMP* and both Thighs were down beside him again.

"$*#%!" shouted the Gateskeeper.

"That’s it!!!" shouted Orogarn Two. "Make the creatures carry them up!"

Grrruff flew down and picked up one of the Thighs, gently brushing Chrysophylax’s scaly side with one of her wings, and then flew up toward the gate. Chrysophylax just shuddered, trying to contain who knows what, had remained still.

Kuruharan ran up.

"What’s come over you, you horny old varmint?!!!!!" (The dwarf had no idea!) "I have some business to attend to inside Ham Steep!!" The dwarf kicked Chrysophylax in the side. "Now hurry up!!"

The kick steadied Chrysophylax somewhat. He picked up a Thigh and carried it up to the gate. Grrruff was waiting for him. Chrysophylax landed on the edge of the cliff, as far from Grrruff as possible. Grrruff inched nearer to him. Chrysophylax stared down the cliff and briefly wondered if it would hurt. The pause that ensued while the two of them waited for the rest of the Gallowship was anything but pregnant (or impregnating).

When the rest of the Gallowship reached the Gate, Merisuwyniel went forward and knocked on the door.

A little old man, mikestand in hand, stuck his head out.

"Go AWAY!!!" he screeched. "The line is full!"

"Are you sure?" asked Merisuwyniel, leaning forward.

Unfortunately, the little old man was too old to fall for that.

"What?!" he bawled. "Speak up!! I can’t hear you!! That’s the trouble with you young whipper-snappers these days!!! Always mumblin’ and mutterin’!!"

"Never mind," said Earnur. He strode forward and drew Griper. "Prepare to be diced and sliced!"

"Oh-no!" whimpered the blade.

Suddenly, the Gate flew open and it swarmed with a mass of Sorethighhim, all armed to the teeth with mikestands and fiddlesticks. Even the Gallowship might be daunted by the numbers now facing them. The Gallowship was about to give it a go anyway when Kuruharan stepped forward. He handed a card to the warden.

The warden gazed at it myopically for a moment.

"Oh!" he said. "Terribly sorry, sir. I didn’t see you." He waved his mikestand and a passage opened up in the ranks of the Sorethighhim. "Lord Dimli will be most pleased to see you!" He escorted Kuruharan through the ranks of the Sorethighhim, fawning over the dwarf pathetically. He was saying something about "putting in a good word with the boss."

As the Gallowship started to follow after the ranks closed and the Sorethighhim held their weapons at the ready. "That does not include you!" growled one of the guards.

The rest of the Gallowship, being now summarily abandoned to fend for themselves (and Chrysophylax feeling more flummoxed than ever without his master), Kuruharan went down into the fortress of Hornyburg and down toward the Glitzy Caverns of Ham Steep. As they went the warden told him how things were going down there.

"Lord Dimli has expanded the dance floors and the casinos. He has also added 200 rooms to the hotel. This has increased the profits of Ham Steep by 150%!" As they drew nearer the entrance to the Caverns, Kuruharan noticed that there was a large crowd outside the door. It was made of two distinctly different types of people. One group, the one that was heading into Ham Steep, was well dressed in the latest and trendiest of fashions (much of it conveniently provided by the clothing boutique that bore the name "Lord Dimli’s Haberdashery"). The line to enter the Caverns was blocked at the doors by burly, heavily-armed dwarves. The other group of people was coming out of a side entrance and their appearance was different in every way. Instead of being dressed in their best they were all wearing cheap barrels and many showed signs of having received a severe beating. This group was being shoved out of the Caverns by another group of armed dwarves, who seemed to be primarily concerned that the first group should not see the second.

Kuruharan was impressed. "I see that business has really picked up!" he said. "King Gain Lotso’moola was quite right when he said that there were big bucks to be made in exploiting the human’s addiction to fast living! This is going even better than he thought! There are a bunch of Elves from Topfloorien here! Apparently Lord Dimli has started importing some better brands of booze!"

"He has indeed," said the warden. They walked up to the bouncers at the door. "This is a special visitor for Lord Dimli," he announced. "He must be admitted at once!"

"Of course," said one of the dwarves. "This way please."

Kuruharan followed the bouncer into a lobby that was too posh for words. He could hear the sounds of raucous music coming from the dance halls, and even happier to his ears, the sound of fools being parted from their money in the casinos. He could barely suppress a giggle of delight.

Kuruharan followed the bouncer down an elegant staircase into the hotel area. Down a few more passages and they passed a sign that said "None but Dwarves Beyond this Point!" and thus entered the Executive Suites.

The bouncer led Kuruharan to one of the larger suites.

"Milord Dimli will be with you shortly," said the bouncer before he departed.

Kuruharan took a few minutes to explore the cavernous suite. He found it to be quite up to snuff.

After sitting down on a sofa that was ridiculously oversized for any dwarf, Kuruharan decided that it was high time to catch forty winks.

Seventy winks later, the door opened. Another dwarf, even more regally dressed than Kuruharan (if that were possible) entered. It was Lord Dimli, Director of the Glitzy Caverns Resort & Casino.

"Ahh, Milord Dimli," said Kuruharan, struggling to get up off the couch. "It is a *ooof* pleasure to see *hoik* you!" he stammered as he failed to rise and fell down among the cushions.

"Quite so," intoned Lord Dimli. "Come to pick up your share of the profits?" he inquired amiably.

"I thought (help me out here!) that I might," said Kuruharan, getting hopelessly tangled in one of the pillows. "How go *oy* things here?"

"Oh, well enough," sighed Lord Dimli. "Mogûl tried to run us out of here six months ago. Fortunately, he has no entertainment establishments that can compete with us and most of his troops come here on their leave. It nearly caused a mutiny in his own ranks. All that was required on our part was a few strong-armed tactics on a few of his business agents and some selective fire-bombings of certain choice properties and he backed down. It has been rather quiet of late."

"*AACCKKK*" croaked Kuruharan has he fell over the back of the sofa. "There, finally!" he sputtered. "Funny you should mention Mogûl, but there are some of his people standing outside the gates right now!" He told Lord Dimli all about the Quest of the Entish Bow.

"Don’t worry," said Lord Dimli. "By the time they get out of here none of them will have a dime to their names! And they certainly won’t have any pieces of a certain Ent that was Broken! Those will be much safer here with me!"

What do these two conniving swindlers have in store for our innocent and lovable heroes (well, maybe not so innocent)?! Will the Gallowship really leave Ham Steep without a dime to their names?! Will Kuruharan go weeping all the way to the bank?! What does Lord Dimli want to do with the Ent that was Broken?!!

Find out in our next exciting episode!!! Same bat time, same bat channel!!!

[ October 11, 2003: Message edited by: Kuruharan ]

Last edited by Kuruharan; 01-14-2005 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 10-13-2003, 02:23 PM   #79
Mithadan
Spirit of Mist
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Tol Eressea
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Mithadan has been trapped in the Barrow!
Sting

As the Dwarf entered the Hornyburg, Grrralph inspected the garish posters advertising the shows currently running in the Glitzy Caverns. Cabed-en-aras-aret he had already seen several times and he had commited its songs to memory long ago ("What good is sitting, alone on your throne?"). He also had little desire to see the animal show...something about the wild were-worms of the south and an animal tamer named Roy the Throatless. Even more threatening was the fine print on the bottom of the posters which read "three drink minimum". He shuddered at the thought, an action which made his mail jingle like a purse full of loose change.

He mounted his mighty steed and began to back away from the gate. Merisu noticed the wraith was preparing to depart and moved over to him. "Aren't you coming inside with us once the line gets smaller?" she asked as she removed her backpack and swung the Bow from her shoulder. Grrralph's glowing red eyes followed the Bow like a cat might follow a catnip mouse.

"Bow," he answered. "I mean, no! I think that I shall take a ride and enjoy the fresh air."

Merisu cocked her head prettily to one side and swung the bow back and forth in her hands. Watching Grrralph's head follow the motion of the bow, a Dwarf craftsman standing on the wall was suddenly inspired and ran to his workshop. One year later, Bali's Bobbleheads was a multi-million dollar a year business.

"Are you sure?" asked Merisu. "There'll be shows and singing."

Grrralph took a deep, ragged breath and shook his head. "No, Merisu," he responded. "I think that I need some time alone right now." The Elf nodded and turned away. No one else noticed as Grrralph rode off towards the east. Nor did anyone notice the dark speck flying high above which followed Grrralph as he went.

An hour later, Grrralph dismounted in the midst of a dusty prairie that had seen too little rain for too long. He waited silently next to a billboard advertising something called Mogûlball. He did not have to wait for long. A Nazgul dropped from the sky to land next to him and its rider dismounted. "Hey, Grrralph!" the wraith called.

"Hi Geeeorge," answered Grrralph.

"Mogûl's been following the progress of you and your friends with some interest," said Geeeeorge. "He has a real interest in the wood that your buddies have been carrying around. The Thighs and the Bow? He's very interested if you know what I mean."

"Very interested," repeated Grrralph vacantly.

"If you help him get the wood, there'll be a reward," commented the wraith as he examined the billboard.

"A reward? What kind of reward?" asked Grrralph.

"First, he'll make you vice-president of subsidiary operations. That's a plum position. You'll have your hands in all sorts of stuff and a corner office. Second... well, he wanted you to know that he bought up all of old Sourone's spells... including the Thingwraith spell."

"Does he know how to remove the spell?" demanded Grrralph, his interest piqued.

"Not yet," answered Geeeorge. "I'm as interested in that as you are. I used to be somebody. I could have been a contender. Instead of a wraith, which is what I am now. He'll work on it once his takeover bid is finished and I'll bet that he can figure out how to remove the spell."

"What does he want from me?" asked Grrralph.

"Just stay with the Itship or the Gallowship or whatever ship they call it," replied Geeeorge. "When the time comes and he moves on the wood, just step aside and let it happen. Or better yet, help out. I'll bet you'd love to lop the head of of one of those hoighty-toity Men, wouldn't you?"

Grrralph did not answer, but he thought back to when Orogarn (Two) had called him stupid, and when Earnur had called him stupid, and when Kuruharan had called him stupid, and...never mind. Though he could not recall Merisu ever calling him...

"Think about it," said Geeeorge as he mounted his Nazgul. "We don't need an answer now. Just think about it." The beast leapt into the air with its leathery wings outstretched and sped off towards the East.

Grrralph stood for a moment as dust billowed around him. Then he mounted his horse, Puff, and rode off towards the Hornyburg.
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Old 10-13-2003, 04:15 PM   #80
Birdland
Ghastly Neekerbreeker
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: the banks of the mighty Scioto
Posts: 1,757
Birdland has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

Grrruff the Nazgrrl sat on the bottom step of the Glitzy Caverns, feeling both unimportant and unsatisfied. "Why did I come here? I am not wanted." she thought to herself gloomily. While she sat she played with the Entish Thigh that she had been carrying for what seemed like forever, idly dragging it back and forth up and down the steps while it muttered "Please, I wish you wouldn't do...OW!...now really, you could try to be a bit more careful...ooooph! I'm scratched!"

Grrralph had seemed so happy to see her! And yet, here he was ambling off on that miserable, misshapen equine, Puff. "Why didn't he want to fly? He used to love my flying!" She banged the Thigh hard on the steps, cracking the marble and causing the wood to give a most un-Ent-like squeal. Grrruff seriously considered eating Puff whenever Grrralph returned from whatever mysterious errand he was on, but knew that pony would just go straight to her hips.

"As if HE'D even notice." she sighed again. As if things were not bad enough, Chrysophylax was still directing his attention in every direction except her own. At this moment he had snaked his head through the casino door and was studiously watching a pair of Halfling croupiers happily fleece a down-on-his-luck Half-Elven at endless games of "Eleventy-One".

"What'swrong with me?" she whimpered to herself, wringing the sentient log in her claws. Green tears threatened to splash from her slitted eyes, which the Entish Thigh knew would leave a ring on his highly polished grain. He desperately tried to think of some way to stem the sticky flow.

"Perhaps you need to take a different approach with that one, young...uh...beastress?" he stammered.

"Coooooo?" Grrruff whimpered

"Well, find out what his interests are. What does he do for a living? Why does he hang out with a Dwarf? Does he like music? Why not write him a nice note telling him how glad you are to be sharing this adventure." - "And you might also ask why this motley collection of half-wits chose to remove me from The Goldlamé Hall in the first place" the log muttered under its breath.

Grrruff stared blankly at the Thigh for a moment, as if it suggested she take up rose gardening. Then, dropping the lumber, she bounded down the steps to the luggage still bundled on the Gallowship's cart. Flinging clothes, toiletries, and magic jewelry carelessly about, she dug through the backpacks until she found a piece of parchment, quill and ink. Then clambering back up the stairs, she laid these down in front of the Entish Thigh and impatiently tapped him with her claw, leaving a gouge.

"What, you want me to write the letter? But my dear young beastress, I have no hands". Grrruff immediately whirled and dashed off down the steps again.

Just as the Ent-part was congratulating himself on getting out of what he was sure would have been an uncomfortable and distasteful assignment, Grrruff came galumphing back with one of the Halfling croupiers clutched in her teeth. She dropped him on the steps and pinned him there with a talon, while gazing at the Log with pleading eyes.

The Entish Thigh heaved a martyred sigh. "You may as well give up struggling and pick up the quill, old chap," he said to the struggling hobbit, who was futilely swinging his fists at the towering fell beast. "You and I are about to compose a billet-doux".

[ October 13, 2003: Message edited by: Birdland ]
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