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Old 07-09-2003, 10:48 AM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Silmaril The Reunification of the Entish Bow - RPG

The first ray of sunshine peered through the window by the dawn’s early light and shone upon the fair face of a sleeping maiden. She blinked unwillingly, revealing lovely violet eyes, then turned away from the unwelcome light. A strange reluctance to arise and begin the day filled her mind and made both heart and limbs heavier than was their wont.

Why should I go to my work? she thought rebelliously. It is not as though I am really learning anything from those so-called healers. All I do is empty chamber-pots all day. What can you expect when they tell the patients such contradictory things as, “Drink plenty of liquids and stay in bed”? And the only herb they know is always the same one: “Take two aspirinia leaves.”

Why, they do not even know that most overused herb, the remedy for all ills on every Elven quest, athelas! It grows here, but they call it a weed! And the other herbs…”


She began to hum the tune of an ancient lay of herbal lore that she had learned on her journeys, “Shireburrow Faerie”. Sage, she thought, that is what they call someone they consider wise, yet who is not even wise enough to recognize that herb when he sees it! Their maidens they name “Rosemary”, but think only of flowers, not of the healing herb. And thyme? They say, “Thyme heals all wounds”, yet I have never seen them use it!

Ah, and parsley! They have never heard of Elvish Parsley, that favourite herb of singers, which can heal sore throats and weary hips after long nights of revelry. What can I learn about healing here? Perhaps I should travel again…


Fully awake by then, Merisuwyniel (for she it was, of course) stretched her slender arms and yawned, most becomingly, as behoves one of pure Elven blood. Her finger tips touched the bow that stood beside her bed as always, even now when she no longer used the weapon. Immediately its thoughts flooded her mind.

It is time, it said.

“I know,” she answered. “I’m already getting up.”

That is not what I mean, came the prompt reply. It is time to continue our quest.

“But why? You have had your revenge, at great cost to me, if I may say so, and you have found companionship with parts of your Entish entity, the Great Foozle and Gravlox’ wooden leg.” Tears welled in her beautiful eyes as she gazed at the wooden artefacts, recalling her great love, dead, yet not forgotten.

I am not yet complete, the Bow answered. There is more to me than meets the eye, you know. The search for all pieces of the Ent That Was Broken must continue, and they must be joined again.

“How?” she asked, puzzled.

I do not know yet, but when the time comes, all shall be made clear – I hope.

“Well, I guess anything is better than chamber-pots,” Merisuwyniel mused. “Let’s find the others of the Fellow/Galship and see if they want to quest with us!” She arose with alacrity and chose her favourite wine red divided skirt (feminine yet practical, remember?) and a matching blouse, brushed her gorgeous golden hair to a blinding sheen, and left the room with a triumphant glance at the drab apron that should have been her garb for the Houses of Healing. The Entish Bow quivered with pleasure and excitement at being held in her firm grasp again.

Little did they know that their fates were bound up in matters much greater than they could comprehend…
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Old 07-09-2003, 02:04 PM   #2
The Saucepan Man
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The Eye

Of Melvin Bluenote and the Flight of the Noodlar

It is said that Melvin Bluenote was originally the greatest of the Velour. The twin brother of Manuël Sántana, they were together the firstborn sons of Ilovetar. And in the First Age of the Light-Fittings, Melvin dwelt in utter contentment with his breth/sist-ren in the Land of Valleyum on the continent of Mogaddon, to the West of Muddled Mirth over the Blundering Sea. There too dwelt the three great races of Elves whom the Velour had brought (much against their will, as will be seen) from Muddled Mirth: the Vaniti, the Calamari and the Noodlar, together known as the Doolalliquendi (‘the Elves who took the Valleyum Trip’ or the ‘Dolls of the Velour’).

Now the Doolalliquendi had not been keen to come to Valleyum and a sordid mixture of threats, promises and force had been employed by the Velour to bring them there. And to ensure that they stayed, for the Valour enjoyed nothing more than managing the lives of passively compliant species, they were kept in a pacified and soporific state by the sedative food of Valleyum and by the strangely stupefying Musak of the Velour, a soothing mix of easy-listening classics which was piped throughout the land.

But Melvin began to tire of the idyllic, yet uneventful, existence that the Velour enjoyed in Valleyum. He began to long to see other lands, to hear more vibrant and trendy music and perhaps to organise the lives of other beings; possibly even to build quite large settlements for them. Then, in time, his ennui gave rise to musical differences between him and his brother. For Manuël and Melvin began to argue over which tranquil tunes and mellifluent melodies should be played within the Musak of the Velour and, one night after a particularly rancorous squabble, Melvin took it upon himself to switch the Musak off. For this sacrilegious act, he was summoned before a Counsel of the Velour where, unrepentant, he continued to speak out against his brother. Too apathetic to argue with him, but nevertheless craving a peaceful life, the Velour ejected Melvin from Mogaddon, condemning him to wander alone in the Darkness of Muddled Mirth.

Feeling bitter and twisted at his rejection, and also rather fearful of the dark, Melvin took with him all of the Light-Fittings of Valleyum. And included amongst these were the three marvellous Lava Lamps, known as the Silmaroils, which had been crafted by the (relatively) fiery and hot-headed Noodlar Elf, Feeblenor, in rare moments of full consciousness and wherein he had captured the Languid Lava of Valleyum. In later days, Melvin wore them in a groovy crown in which the Lava of Valleyum glooped and swirled in psuitably psychedelic fashion.

Now in all the confusion, no-one had remembered to switch the Musak back on, nor to keep the Doolalliquendi fed on their regular narcotic diet, and the Noodlar, who had always been the most sentient of the Doolalliquendi (although frankly that is not saying much), awoke from their tranquillised state. And Feeblenor, who regarded the Silmaroils as his greatest creations, was sorely grieved by their theft. Whereupon he stirred up uncharacteristic rebellion in the hearts of the Noodlar so that, in open defiance of the Velour, they followed Melvin to Muddled Mirth there to engage him in battle. But in so doing, they committed the terrible act of the Kinhoodwinking, when they tricked the King of the Calamari, Paellaë, into looking the other way while they stole the Calamari’s treasured Squid Ships.

Of Môgul Bildûr and the Redevelopment of Dairyland

In the meantime, Melvin, on reaching Muddled Birth, had immediately laid claim to its North West region, called Dairyland, wherein lived the Smartiquendi (‘the Elves who had sneaked off when the Velour came and so successfully avoided enforced relocation to Valleyum’). The greatest of the Smartiquendi were the Sindiar, who, under their King, Thingy, and with the assistance of the three Great Houses of the Fodderain (of the newly awoken race of Man), had turned the wide plains of Dairyland into a highly successful dairy farming concern. Melvin, however, had other plans. He wished instead to turn the entire piece of highly desirable real estate into highly desirable luxury apartments and highly lucrative industrial estates, shopping malls and food halls. So he entered into dread negotiations with the Sindiar. And thereafter, he became known to Elves and Men as Môgul Bildûr, ‘the Dread Developer’. And he was smart and businesslike, albeit somewhat sinister, to behold.

In that time it is said that, to aid him in his negotiations, Môgul committed one of his most terrible atrocities. Capturing lone Elves and Men, he tortured them in the dungeons of his fortress, Slangbad, filling their heads with ancient texts and useless lore, until they became as twisted and devoid of humanity as he. And so they became the Korprat-Loyers, subservient to the instructions of Môgul and obedient to his code: cruel in their logic, treacherous in their drafting and merciless in their negotiating stance.

And so, with the aid of the Korprat-Loyers, and other minions that he drew unto himself (Orcs, Trolls, Vampires – you know, the usual), he brought the Sindiar to the brink of capitulation. But then, just in the nick of time, the host of the Noodlar arrived: bold, valiant and somewhat dull-witted and led by the slightly demented Feeblenor. Whereupon Môgul was forced into hasty retreat. But, in their hour of unwitting victory, tragedy struck the Noodlar. Chasing the host of Môgul back to Slangbad, Feeblenor was set upon and slain by Greedhog, Senior Partner of the Korprat-Loyers. And, when his seven sons, Mugglin, Muddlehead, Celegormless, Currentbun, Curedham, Ramrod and Rumpus, came upon his fallen body, shredded by the terrible clauses of the mighty Korprat-Loyer, they stared in sullen surprise as it fizzled and crackled into nothing in a rather pathetic and anti-climactic pyrotechnic display. And in their fury and disappointment (the latter prompted by their father’s rather unflattering demise), they vowed never to rest until Môgul had been defeated and the Silmaroils regained.

So it came to pass that the forces of Môgul were held back for many thousands of years by the combined might, pig ignorance and blind foolhardiness of the Noodlar, Sindiar and Fodderain (the truest and most loyal of whom became known as the Canon-Fodderain). Many tales are told of that time: heroic and tragic, published and unpublished, canon and pure speculation. Of the Fodderain, Benny Clammyhand, and his Elven bride, the exquisitely plain Lucy-Jane Thinguviel, daughter of Thingy, and their haphazard theft of one of the Silmaroils from Môgul’s crown. Of the rather comical, yet ultimately futile, adventures of Tintin Rum-baba, who succumbed to the Doom of the Dread Developer. And of the Vow of the Seven Sons of Feeblenor and the terrible deeds that they committed in the name of the laws of inheritance.

But in the end it was to no avail. For Môgul sat in his fortress at Slangbad and plotted and schemed, while his Korprat-Loyers devised ever more tortuous and complex contractual provisions. And gradually, with each new take-over, merger and public-private partnership, his forces gained ever-increasing title to the freehold of Dairyland. And, as the land slowly came under his dominion, Môgul Bildûr, the Dread Developer, tore down the woods and forests, concreted over the wide plains and low hills and Balrog-dozed the modest (though well-appointed) farmsteads of Elves and Men. In their place, he built apartment block after shopping mall after food hall until no free farmlands remained save for a small poultry-farm at the mouth of the great river, Spurious, wherein gathered all the Elves and Men that had survived the terrible years of negotiation. And there they dwelt under the lordship of Roneld McDoneld, the Half-Elven, known as the Farmer.

Of the War of Mild Irritation and the casting of Môgul into the Void

While all this had been happening, the Velour, having re-pacified the remaining Doolalliquendi, had continued to enjoy their life of irresponsible but peaceful detachment. They cared little for the travails of the Noodlar, who had left Valleyum against their wishes, or the Sindiar, who had never come in the first place. But it came to pass that Manuël Sántana one day said to his breth/sist-ren that he desired reconciliation with his long-lost brother. And so the Velour turned their eyes to Muddled Mirth. But, on seeing the devastation wrought by Môgul on Dairyland, they became furious and immediately called another Counsel. And it happened that at that very moment a traveller arrived from Muddled Mirth: Eärandnau the Marinade, a Half-Elf of mixed Noodlar, Sindiar and Fodderain descent, who had braved the terrors of the Sunderland Sea to plea for aid on behalf of his kindred, the beleaguered free smallholders of Dairyland. And Eärandnau’s arrival was most fortuitous, for the Velour would have returned to their uneventful existence, seeing an expedition to Muddled Mirth as far too much fuss and bother, had it not been for the fact that he bore with him the Silmaroil that had been taken from Môgul’s crown and various other Light-Fittings that had been recovered during the sad years of protracted negotiation. Delighted that their realm was once again enlightened (in the literal if not figurative sense), they chose to reward Eärandnau and his kin by wreaking their terrible vengeance on Môgul and his evil undertaking.

And so, sailing across the Sunderland Sea in the Squid Ships of the Calamari, the host of the Velour marched on Slangbad, routing before them the minions of Môgul and the renegade peoples who had populated his urban iniquity. Even the Vaniti were roused from their self-obsessed reverie for long enough to lend a hand, although they were not in sooth much cop as warriors and so spent most of the time lurking at the back, fixing their hair and make-up and stabbing the odd escaping Orc or Troll with hatpins. And such was the turbulence of the War of Mild Irritation that the lands themselves were rent asunder, having had their rent reviewed one time too many, and Dairyland sunk deep below the Sunderland Sea, never to be seen again by those that breathe the air. Except whales. And dolphins and porpoises, of course. Oh, and perhaps the odd seal too. And its tower blocks, shopping centres and factory complexes no longer served any but the denizens of the deep.

Nevertheless, the victory of the Velour was complete. Môgul was defeated and his forces scattered and he was brought in chains before the Velour, still yet unrepentant. And Mantoes stepped forward and pronounced his doom:

Môgul, our brother, you have acted in folly
And now you won’t even say that you’re sorry.
So, at the risk of making you paranoid
We have no choice but to throw you in the void.


But the Velour Yawanna, who loved all living things with a half-hearted enthusiasm, was grieved at the destruction caused to the trees of Dairyland by the fervour of Môgul’s property development antics. So, implausibly (but necessarily for plot purposes) she urged Mantoes to bind the fate of Môgul to that of the Ents, the shepherds of trees that had been created according to her will. And, against his better judgement, Mantoes proceeded to pronounce further:

And it shall come to pass that an Ent shall be hewn
And its parts still living through Muddled Mirth strewn
But when the Ent once more becomes whole.
You, my dear Môgul, can kiss goodbye to your soul.


And, with that, Môgul Bildûr was cast into the inky blackness of the void, wherein he brooded darkly and malevolently, nurturing and cuddling and pampering his evilness until there was little left of him but pure evil. And then a Dark Lord he truly was. For, being without the Light-Fittings, he was forced to overcome his fear of the dark and, indeed, in time he came to be quite fond of it. And there he remained as long years passed, until news of the Ent that was Broken reached him, even in the darkness of the void ...
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Last edited by The Saucepan Man; 12-03-2004 at 07:54 PM. Reason: Mith's Blundering Sea is much better that Sunderland Sea
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Old 07-09-2003, 09:47 PM   #3
The Barrow-Wight
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Sting

Orogarn Two gasped at the text of the crumbling parchment he held in his hands. For weeks he had delved through the ancient stacks of records kept deep beneath the Citibank of Minus Teeth, and he had found many useful documents that would surely aid him in his extradition and prosecution of the Entish thief. But never had he imagined to find an artifact of such historic importance.

For centuries rumor had insisted that such a chronicle lay buried amongst the financial registers of Grundor, but no one living had ever actually laid eyes upon it. Supposedy transcribed by Elros Car-Minicooper himself, the yellowed paper in Orogarn Two’s shaking fingers was none other than the fabled “Doolalliquendian Pie”, originally penned by the bewitched Smartiquendi bard Darren Stevens in the halls of Thingy. It recorded the almost-forgotten return of the Noodlar to Muddled-Mirth.

Orogarn Two read the poem, written in the traditional, flagrantly plageristic Noodelorean style, in awe.

A long, long time ago... few can still remember how
That Muzak used to make them smile.
But Mugglin knew he had a chance,
To make the angry Noodlars dance,
And maybe they would chill out for a while.
But Everlast had made them shiver,
And Feeblenor was now chopped liver,
Greedhog on the doorstep...
Hothead’s fatal misstep.
Doolalliquendi widows cried
And seven brothers’ seven brides,
For something touched them deep inside,
The day the Muzak died.

Soo..Bye, bye all you Valleyum guys
Kept us dreaming with your scheming, now we’ve opened our eyes
Without your bright Lights you’re just a bunch of small fries
Singing ‘love us or you’ll lose a great prize’
That’ll be the day that we die


So Mugglin sang of simple things
Of silver swords and golden Rings
Hoping it would calm his kin
But Noodlar blood runs thick and hot
And Muzak they had not forgot
And their patience began to wear thin
They shouted at him from the camp
’How can we live without the Lamps?’
‘Melvin has taken his spoils
He’s stolen our Silmaroils’
Mugg’ was a lonely Noodlar broncin' buck
Who’s people had just run amok
he knew he was out of luck
The day the Muzak died
They started singin'...

Bye, bye you lousy Valleyum guys
Got us steaming with your scheming, now we’ve opened our eyes
Without your bright Lights you’re just a bunch of small fries
We’ll never love you or your magical, mystical prize
That’ll be the day that we die


Orogarn Two stared in disbelief at the unfinished verse. He shuffled the papers around him in a vain search to find the continuation. It must be here!

“I’ve been down here too long,” he said to himself. “I must show this my father.”

He left the room and began the long climb to the Porcelain Throne far above.
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Old 07-10-2003, 08:29 AM   #4
Mithadan
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Sting

Ward Three of the Houses of Bettifordeth consists of a large room in which are a number of patient beds as well as several private rooms for the more affluent ill. Over its door is a large plaque which reads, "Physical Injuries (minor and noncontagious)". Here, the various and sundry citizens of Minus Teeth who have been injured in minor mishaps recuperate under the learned care of the healers.

In a private room, the Lady Bawdy rested in her bed. Her husband, Vonbulowdil, had died several years before in an unfortunate poisoning accident and the Lady had inherited his lands and estate. An avid equestrian, the Lady had injured herself while attempting a...unique...feat of riding. Now, she was recuperating in the Third Ward whose ministrations were far less luxurious and attentive than her station normally mandated.

On this fine morning, a tall, dark figure was sweeping the ward. Clad all in black save only for his bright red thigh-high boots and a powder blue frilly apron, Grrralph shambled about sweeping the previous evening's detritus into a dust pan. By and large, the patients ignored the now-familiar figure though a few cringed when he stopped by a bed to fluff a pillow or straighten a blanket.

From the back of the ward a bell rang in one of the private rooms. Grrralph paused in his task before answering with a long drawn out wail which rose and fell like the cry of some dark and lonely creature. Then he shambled off towards the rear of the long room, ignoring the many patients who had ducked under their covers and shook in reaction to his polite answer to the summons. Setting down his broom and dustpan, he knocked at the door of Lady Bawdy's room causing its hinges to groan in protest. Then he entered.

Lady Bawdy was propped up in her bed upon a pile of silk pillows. At her bedside was a pile of magazines, mostly relating to interior design. On her lap was a book entitled "The Aristocratic Household; How to Govern Your Servants Without Leaving Marks". "Ah," she said. "Grrralph, dear. Would you rearrange my pillows?" Grrralph helped her sit up while he fluffed and piled her pillows behind her back. As he did so, she grasped his arm and ran a hand over his shoulder. "You are strong, aren't you? And so...large. I do so love a man in armor," she murmured throatily.

Grrralph stood when he was finished. "Anything elssse Misss?" he said in a thin voice. She looked at him appraisingly. "Yes, could you change my bed pan?" He nodded. "Yesss, Madam." She peeled back her blanket to reveal a skimpy silk gown and rolled to the side as he worked. She smiled and allowed her gown to slip from her shoulder. "I could use a man like you at my home," she purred. "You have such exotic eyes. So red and bright. You really should show your face more." She reached up to push back his hood.

The wail which followed shook the windows and stopped the clock in the lobby...

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

"Grrralph," said Doctor Malpracdil. "Your service here has been valuable and appreciated."

Grrralph was sitting in a chair at the doctor's desk. His knees were nearly at his chest and the sheath of his sword stuck out from under his black robes. He shifted uncomfortably causing the chair to creak under his weight. "Thank you Doctor," he replied.

"But you've been here, what, seven years?" continued the Doctor. "You came seeking treatment for your...condition, but chose to stay and help and that's been appreciated. However, recently your behavior has been a bit erratic..."

"I'm sorry about Lady Bawdy," Grrralph interjected. The Doctor chuckled. "Her?" he said. "She gives new meaning to the phrase 'Royal Pain'. I kind of enjoyed finding her hanging by her ankles from the curtainrod. But there was that incident last week where you tied a patient to his bed..."

"He kept trying to walk without crutches," pointed out Grrralph.

"He was here to see a dentist," responded the Doctor. "And before that you stuffed a roll of bandages into a patient's mouth..."

"He was rude. He called me 'Lurch'"

"Uh, yes," continued Malpracdil. "You've never taken a vacation and work seven days a week. Maybe its time for a break. You need to get out more. Maybe that will help your...condition. I'm giving you two months paid leave so that you can get some fresh air and get away from here for a while. Find something to do or someplace to go. I bet that you'll feel better when you come back."

"Yesss Ssssir," answered Grrralph. He stood and headed for the door, ducking carefully as he left.

"And don't forget to take your medicine..." called out the doctor after him.

[ July 10, 2003: Message edited by: Mithadan ]
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Old 07-10-2003, 12:55 PM   #5
Thenamir
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Sting

Along the great path that meandered towards the mighty Citibank of Minus Teeth from the great shopping dens of the Gap there moved a hooded figure. His outer raiment was a robe of many bright colors, apparantly patched together from the fragments of many once-fine garments, giving the effect of a multicolored four-panel flag waving in the wake of his quick-march strides. He paused a moment on the bridge which spanned the banks of the great river Watschaduin to pull back his hood and squint at the sky. The bright sunshine shone down on a faceful of contradictions: the finest-crafted gold-rimmed spectacles that rested just below the cheapest of salad-bowl haircuts...the innocent boyish grin that rode the front of a cruelly brilliant mind. The lone traveller re-hooded himself and continued on his purposeful way.

No one knew his name -- to those who asked, he named himself only as The Gateskeeper. Long ago the inferior maia had been bewitched by the easy-to-use wares of beauty he found in the Parc of the Xer Ox (who later became a stud for the Dairyland farming concerns), and longed to create similarly soft wares to sell to the public at exorbitant profit margins. But he knew not how to begin, until he was drawn to the black tower of Dorktank in the Token-ring of Networkgard. There he was brought into the dark practices of the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM). There he was introduced to the great power weilded by his mentor, Sauerkraut, and the Korprat-loyers who he held under his sway, the demon-barristers of the ancient world. There he secretly seduced some them to his purpose, and began to implement his diabolical program.

Seeking his own window to power, and impatient with Sauerkraut's obsession with jewelry (and hot dogs), he and his cadre of Loyers journeyed to the far south of Hardhead, to the warm green lands surrounding the Pea Sea, there to battle the Eunuchs who lived there for control of the vast markets of the Pea Sea, which were growing daily. And though they put forth all their might into creating a great fell contract that would bind the Pea Sea and all its environs unto The Gateskeeper in perpetuity, yet the Eunuchs and their immaculately-dressed Penguin Troops were too strong for them, and the battle ended in a draw -- neither could decisively draw the Net around the other. And yet neither wished to RISC journeying further south.

The greasing of a few travelers' palms with much gold from the sales of his soft wares produced news of a great Bow which had come to Minus Teeth, one which never missed and could, in his hands, turn the tide against the Eunuchs of the Pea Sea. Eru knows, their Korprat-Loyers needed all the help in actually hitting targets. So after a trip to the Gap for more fashionable yet inconspicuous clothing, he journeyed to that city to find out if the rumor was true, and to use his newly-developed Xtreme-Powers (XP) to obtain the Bow by any means necessary.

Far in the distance the Gateskeeper could now espy the great Citibank tower in Minus Teeth. He smiled his winsome smile and quickened his step. They would never discover his true intentions until it was too late...
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Old 07-10-2003, 04:06 PM   #6
Diamond18
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Silmaril

Deep in a dusty, duskily dark den down below the dank, dreary halls of the Daily Floss (Minus Teeth’s oldest, most widely read—and only—newspaper) a slender, lithesome figure bent over a ream of parchment. In one hand he held a large, ostentatious and gaudy peacock feather pen, which, in theory, he was using to write upon the aforementioned parchment. In actuality, he held the quill immobile over the paper, while staring glassy-eyed at the cinnamon bun scented votive candle to his right upon the desk. While the candle was very fragrant, it did not cast much light, which contributed to the previously detailed darkness of the den. Or—as Vogonwë Brownbark, only son of Geppettuil the Elven Party-king of Workmud, third cousin of Throngduil, thrice removed, thought of it—his “poet’s corner”. It was really more like a “poet’s pantry”, or a “bard’s basement”, or even a “wordweaver’s wicker wastebasket”, but when the Daily Floss went to press, Vogonwë titled his column “The Poet’s Corner”. It could be found on the 19th page, down in the right hand corner next to the ad for Eeyoreth’s Athelas-Mint Gum.

As has been gone over well enough already, it was dark down where Vogonwë nested in his niche. The Daily Floss ran on a tight budget, and so its columnists were granted differing modicums of light, depending on which page their articles appeared on. Those who wrote cover stories were granted great blooming torches for their workspaces, and page by page, the lights decreased to middling torches, small torches, various sizes of unwieldy candlesticks, smoldering oil rags, jars of fireflies, and a glowworm farm. At Vogonwë’s level, one could expect one or two votive candles, but the votive to Vogonwë’s left had gone out about half an hour ago. He wasn’t about to complain, however, since the last time he had complained about his fireflies dying of asphyxiation, he had been demoted two pages. And he knew that on the 20th page (the last), all one received for illumination, was twenty matchboxes. Twenty empty matchboxes. Vogonwë wasn’t crazy (though he was starting to feel a little unwell, and was getting rather tired of staring at the ceiling, making friends with shadows on his wall) so he knew when to keep his mouth shut and switch over to staring at his one remaining candle.

Vogonwë had writer’s block. He couldn’t think of a rhyming sentence to save his half-elven life, though if he had been in a less befuddled state, he could have easily seen that “flickering” rings well with “wickering”, and so a tie-in between “wicker wastebasket” and “flickering candle” was waiting just around the poet’s corner.

His mind turned wistfully to Pimpi. Pretty Pimpi. My flickering mind turned wistfully to pretty Pimpi, purveyor of wicker wastebaskets… Nah, no good. His dear Pimpiowyn was well acquainted with bedpans and broomsticks, but he knew for a fact that the wastebaskets in the Houses of Bettifordeth were made out of metal. Anyway. It was all for his darling Pimpiowyn that he was down there, huddled over a scroll of woefully empty parchment, blinding himself by the sickly flickering glow of a single votive candle. It was her great wish to tag along after Merisuwyniel wherever that blasted…er, blessed… beautiful Elf went. And so she spent her days working in the Healing Houses, where she divided her time between odd menial tasks involving cleaning supplies, and cleaning up her own messes, for poor Pimpi was something of a klutzie cutie. She had spent most of her life as a small, petite little half-halfling, but a run in with magic beans had caused her to grow considerably taller. She made a fair and fetching figure, but she felt rather more like an awkward collection of elbows and knees in all the wrong places. Broken pottery followed in her wake, and she had grown accustomed to tripping over furniture. And bruising.

But she was happy, more or less, with her work, and Vogonwë was happy that she was happy. So he tried to think as little as possible about the great rolling plains and deep woodland forests that beckoned to him out there in the great big grand world of Muddled-Mirth. Ah, when was the last time he had hunted skwerlz in the forest? When was the last time he had skipped along through a sunlit glade, poetry flying from his lips like a fine spray of spittle? When was the last time he had mounted a horse with an inverted pas de chat, and gone galloping across the rolling hills with the wind whipping through his long, silky brown hair and satin hairbow? When was the last time he’d shot down a bevy of Orcs with a handful of well-aimed arrows? But he wasn’t complaining. Pimpi was happy, and when Pimpi was happy, he was happy.

(Review – Vogonwë was not unhappy, dratit!)

The two of them—half-elf and half-halfling—were engaged to be married. Sometime. Sooner or later. Pimpi was planning a non-canonical ceremony. Or something. He wasn’t really paying attention to the wedding plans. Vogonwë was quite content just being trothplighted, for the time being. Plighting their troth had been quite fun. So was subsequently trothing their plight. Trighting their ploth and plothing their tright every now and then wasn’t bad, either. It would be better in a sunlit glade, of course. But life isn’t perfect, even when you’re trothplighting (or a variation thereof).

When he had first arrived in Minus Teeth, Vogonwë had immediately found work as a reporter with the Daily Floss. There was an opening as a recorder of Lord Denimthor’s speeches, and so he had begun to follow the Steward of Grundor around with pen and paper. He quickly learned why there was an opening, as the man was a colossal bore. He yammered and yawed in the most torpid way, about the most insipid things, and Vogonwë had found himself tearing his hairbow out and yearning to write a line of poetry which included the words “yammer” “yaw” and “yearn”. One day, as Denimthor addressed the Wight Society on the subject of gingivitis, Vogonwë had nearly succumbed to a dark urge to affix an Aim-Well spell to his quill pen, and send it flying in the direction of the Steward’s throat. He had suppressed this urge. But that day, instead of publishing the speech on the front page (Denimthor’s speeches always went on the first page, and it is a testament to their dullness that many reporters passed up the blooming torches to avoid having to work that beat) Vogonwë had ditched all his notes on gum disease, in favor of writing a florid poem in honor of Pimpiowyn’s willowy figure. He was fired. But Merisuwyniel, bless her, sort of, had taken it upon her dear heart to talk the editor into letting Vogonwë have his own poetry column.

With a sickly fizzle, the right-hand votive candle finally flickered out. Vogonwë dropped his quill pen and jumped up happily, hitting his head on a low overhanging shelf. He said a few things in Simian which I’d rather not repeat, but it did not dampen his enthusiasm permanently. He made his way more carefully out of his corner, and headed toward the Houses of Bettifordeth. Today’s malady—a headache. Goodie.

[ July 13, 2003: Message edited by: Diamond18 ]
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Old 07-11-2003, 05:23 AM   #7
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Sting

Vast oaken beams lost in the dim recesses of the moon-lit ceiling cast cage-like shadows across the mighty stone flags; and in the centre of the chamber two figures sat by a table engaged in a silent battle of will and wit. Both were heavily cloaked and hooded, so that only the occasional glint of an eye or snatch of murmured conversation betrayed that they lived at all. Otherwise they communicated solely through the movement of the pieces on the board between them.

There came a hollow rattling from one side of the table. The taller figure, behind whose chair a scythe had been propped nonchalantly against the wall, leaned forward and the noise ceased abruptly, plunging the chamber into complete silence. A dry, hollow voice, ancient and empty as a plundered barrow, scratched out from beneath the frayed hood; and thin fingers pushed at the markers on the table. Then the apparition spoke:

'It's the same bloody snake again! I hate this ruddy game! I told you I wanted to play noughts and crosses!'

'Look,' replied his opponent. 'I sank two of your caravels and your war galley in the last game, and the winner gets to choose what we play next. Anyway, you're only upset because you're losing.'

'I'll have you know that I am as patient as the grave itself,' said the thin man in a voice of parchment and cobwebs. 'I just don't like to play games using something called a die. It seems to mock the gravity of my position.'

'Look, Slim; you're never going to get over the anorexia and the fixation with agricultural implements if you can't get over the delusions of grandeur: a bad pipe-weed habit and a scythe do not an ultimate reality make. Besides, you scare the sword.'

He does not scare me! What scares me is the thought that you wagered me as well as yourself before you knew that he was a patient. Why did you of all people have to find me? I could have belonged to a king.

This third voice went unnoticed by the dubious Death, and would have by you as well had I not so considerately told you about it. Only the man from the folds of whose cloak it came could hear it, and he had tried extremely hard to join the ranks of those who could not. The voice was querulous, demanding, shrill or, as the addressed player put it "bloody annoying." There came a sound as of someone bashing something made of metal against something made of stone.

'Peace, my brand! Unless you want to be called Griper'

You wouldn't dare! No swordsman has given his trusty blade an insulting name in all the history of Muddled Mirth; apart from Eustace the Inept, and even he didn't do it on purpose.

'Watch me. You remember what happened to the last sword that cheeked the lord of Dun Sóbrin.'

It's cheating if your girlfriend helps.

'Cheating or not, I don't see anyone claiming a rematch. Now shut up.'

Here Slim interjected:

'I thought you’d stopped all that. I haven't seen you touch a drop in weeks, and the furniture polish has stopped disappearing.'

'Look, as I’ve told you about a million times, 'tis my noble brand with which I converse. Sadly only I may hear the woven staves of its wisdom.'

'And they think I'm a nutter. Look, I may smoke my own socks and take a scythe to bed with me, but at least I don't go talking to it. I leave that up to real loonies like that fellow who thinks he can see hundreds of miles by looking into his bowling ball.'

'Are you going to move that piece or not?'

The mysterious speakers lapsed once more into brooding silence. Another rattle, and Lord Earnur Etceteron, for the second player was he, spake the following words of triumph:

'Yes! Up to the last row! Prepare to be thrashed!'

*****

The main courtyard of the House of Bettifordeth lay in sullen silence as the evening drew on. The remnants of confiscated alcohol, ranging from watery beer to distilled turnip juice flavoured with ether, had drained away and now only one bedraggled label remained. From it the monocled image of Captain Ishmael Strangereeks regarded the world with bleary benevolence.

The only movement in this renowned place of healing came from a churn in one corner, where a young apprentice apothecary was very enthusiastically failing to make butter. He sang as he worked, an ancient and very moving folk melody, recalled seldom in the legends of the Elder Days:

'I met a maid a-walking,
The two of us got talking
And soon we were a-walking
To a little place I know.

And as her look grew fonder,
A new plan I did ponder
And so my hands will wander
To a little place I know…
'

Frustratingly for the casual listener, just as he was about to reach the really good bit the young man fell silent. From outside the gate he had caught the sound of hooves on cobbles and now there came the booming of the great iron knocker on the gate.

'You're not allowed in until morning!' he squeaked heroically.

The knocking came again, this time louder and more determined. A terrible fear sent shivers up and down his spine as an awful possibility dawned on him.

'You can play with our knockers for as long as you like! We don’t accept Jehova's Witnesses here unless they've got very bad laryngitis!'

This time the gate shook on its hinges and dust fell from between the planks.

'That counts for any evangelical group, hawkers, circulars, emissaries of dark powers seeking magical objects and travelling stockbrokers. Wait until morning!'

The gate burst asunder. Splinters of wood and clouds of dust shot out across the entire courtyard, covering the hapless apprentice in debris. When he looked up it was to see a massive jet-black stallion filling most of the yard, and on its back a figure of nightmare. Black-cloaked it was and wearing a vast horned helm, the visor of which completely covered its face. Black boots and leggings clothed the rider’s legs and a huge war axe hung from the saddle behind him. The younger man cowered behind the churn, fear temporarily eclipsing the charms of both suspicious dairy produce and off-colour traditional music. Then, in a thunderous voice (imagine a hung-over Thor receiving a call from a telemarketer), the apparition spoke:

'Where is Lord Earnur Etceteron?'

The young man whimpered a little and ducked further behind his buttery cover and the horseman spoke again.

'He is here. Take me to him now or you will suffer all the torments that Ilvers-in-Slógin can afford!'

Trembling, the apprentice stood up and looked the other man squarely in the knee.

'What is your business with the Lord Etceteron? He is a patient here, and they may not be harmed, save by our own highly trained staff,' he announced in a defiant whisper.

'I've got a horse here for him,' answered the horseman. 'I just need someone to sign the receipt.'

*****

So it was that the mighty Pinkjin, named by the lord of Dun Sóbrin many months before, came to his master, and many are the legends told of their mighty deeds. But greatest of these is the lay that is called Sillibugr or the Lay of Bricabrac. For Lord Etceteron rejoined his companions of old that they might cause the Ent that was Broken to be made whole; and that great tale begins after a word from our sponsors.

[A three-hour documentary about the manufacture of Strangereeks' Horse-Chestnut Brandy has been excised here. Its most notable features were its inaccuracy and failure to provide an adequate warning that the product causes instant blindness and sometimes epilepsy.]

Lord Etceteron puffed thoughtfully on his manly pipe as he cruised around the Motorless City, buying supplies but mainly showing off. He had already plundered the stalls of three herbalists and a blacksmith, and now, having visited his tailor, he was looking to find stabling for his new steed. The House of Bettifordeth had refused to keep any creature within its walls that could kick its way to freedom through their gates.

He arrived after a short time at Sethamir’s Livery Stable and Glue Factory, fabled throughout Grundor for its four-farthing deal (in which one's money was scattered to the four farthings in numbered accounts). Struck by how shabby and run-down the stable appeared, he decided to see whether 'desperate' could be added to the list, so with this aim in mind he dismounted and walked inside, where someone else was already arguing. Someone, he noticed, who looked and sounded rather familiar. She was saying something about a wallet, and he drew the illogical conclusion.

'It is unwise, Sir, to rob maidens in one’s place of business. Defend yourself!'

Wait, can’t we talk about this for a while: I’ve just been polished. No, really I can’t, I can’t stand the sight of blood! Stop!

So sang Earnur’s great blade as he leapt blindly into the conversation brandishing his version of an incisive argument. Only a couple of hours on horseback and already he was on the path of errantry. It did somewhat put him off his stride, however, when from behind him his prospective rescuee greeted him with these great words of greeting:

'Oh, it’s you again! How are you?'

With such mighty words do great workings begin.

Last edited by The Squatter of Amon Rûdh; 06-28-2004 at 08:02 AM.
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Old 07-11-2003, 07:14 AM   #8
Estelyn Telcontar
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Silmaril

The Very Secret Diary of Falafel

Day – oh, who cares?! One is as boring as another, and I’ve lost track. How long has my mistress been living in this city? How long have I been quartered in this stable which does not deserve that name, being so flimsy that I hardly dare breathe for fear of causing its walls to come down?

Oh, I know it’s the best Merisuwyniel can do; I don’t suppose she earns much, and most of it goes for feeding and lodging Tofu and me. Bless her tender heart, she can’t bring herself to sell him, feeling obliged to care for him after the death of his master. He deserves better than to be hitched to some farmer’s cart, she says, and she’s right, of course. Who’d have thought that a steed with so much intelligence would pine so for Halfullion? He was handsome and heroic, to be sure, but rather half-witted, if you ask me, which no one does, since even Merisuwyniel forgets that I can understand and speak her language, to say nothing of being able to write. Oh dear, I’m rambling, but I guess it doesn’t matter, since no one will ever see this. Can you imagine what it would be like if diaries were kept in public places for everyone to read? Unthinkable!

There was a time when I thought that Tofu might hitch up with me, but he has gone through such a depression as a result of being unemployed that he has no energy for more than a lukewarm platonic friendship. Nothing that I can say comforts him. I wish he would find a new hero to give his life purpose, but heroes are hard to come by, even in the capital city of Grundor, with all of its warriors.

I wonder if we will ever leave this city, with its stone houses and unfriendly cobbled streets. It would be nice to travel again, to see new places, gallop down foreign roads, and rest in the shade of unknown forests. Sometimes I get the hopeful feeling that Merisuwyniel is dissatisfied with her life here. I guess healing isn’t as exciting as being a shieldmaiden.

Dear me, I’d better hide this quickly – there she is! And so unexpectedly early in the morning; isn’t she working today? Now she’s stopped to talk to Sethamir; it looks like he’s demanding payment from her. Her wallet must be empty, for she has opened it and showed it to him.

Oh my, what’s happening now? A warrior has come in, brandishing his sword – careful! Someone could get hurt! Oh, it’s Etceteron; I didn’t recognize him without the smell of alcohol two miles upwind. Whoa, what’s that? A very black, very handsome, very large stallion – it looks like he’s gotten a quite adequate replacement for Baklava! Let’s see if he’ll look my way…

[ July 13, 2003: Message edited by: Estelyn Telcontar ]
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Old 07-12-2003, 08:21 AM   #9
Kuruharan
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Tolkien

Meanwhile and Elsewhere…

The wind howled, kicking up immense clouds of dust. This is a bleak and unpleasant land in the southwestern area of the northeastern region of the northernmost parts of this southernmost quadrant of Muddled Mirth. The wind whipped through the canyons of jagged mountains as it sped on toward where ever it was going. These mountains were low and rent with many crags, pits, and caverns.

If some improbable traveler to these inhospitable regions had happened on this particular day to stick his head inside a certain one of the larger caverns, he would have heard a rather unusual noise. It was a strange thumping, a muffled sound but very powerful. An almost ominous crashing, punctuated by occasional bursts of intense flame.

This imaginary wanderer might have thought that this noise was the early rumblings of a great earthquake. Or perhaps a new volcano was about to erupt and it would be advisable to abscond from the area in the most expeditious manner possible.

Possibly, just possibly, in the most fevered and fanciful parts of the imagination, the traveler would have guessed at the truth. Deep under the earth a titanic struggle was taking place between two monstrous creatures from the dawn of time (and one dwarf and chia pet).

In a dark cavern of awesome size and majesty, far below where our mythical traveler is (not) standing, a tremendous roaring abruptly erupted. The cavern shook with the fury of the sound and sudden flashes of red light blazed forth from one of the openings.

Suddenly a small figure sprang forth from that opening. It was a disheveled, soiled, smoky figure of a dwarf. His once fine robes were now covered with dirt and blood and were partially burned. A golden chain and dragon pendent were tarnished to the point of being almost unrecognizable. His singed brown hair and beard were in a wild cloud about his head. He had two large axes thrust into his once splendid belt. Both axes were notched. In his hands he carried a pair of large, fully-loaded, multi-shot crossbows.

As this sorry figure scrambled across the cavern’s rocky bottom there was another tremendous roar and the dwarf was tossed to the floor.

"Horse-Radish!!" cried the dwarf, using one of the ugliest curses in all of Khuzdul. He clawed his way among the rocks, looking for a place that would serve his purpose. Behind him another massive burst of flame erupted from the opening. Finding a spot to his liking the dwarf settled among the rocks and aimed his crossbows at the opening.

There was a momentary pause.

*CRASH-BANG* came another mountain-shuddering jolt.

A shape surged forth out of the opening. It was a large creature, shaped like a huge snake with four strong legs and huge wings. It was, in fact, a dragon. Its sides were scored as if by huge rending claws (which in fact they were). This terrible creature stood glaring down into the opening for a minute. He let loose a burst of flame so intense that it would have burnt the wings off a Balrog (assuming that the Balrog had wings).

*BOOM-THUD* Something huge slammed into the side of the opening and part of the wall broke and fell to the floor with a crash and a thud.

"Get clear!" yelled the dwarf to the dragon. (A circumstance that the fictitious wanderer would have found curious in the extreme.)

The dragon scrambled backwards with surprising agility. It hunkered down behind some boulders near another opening in the cavern.

With a deafening snarl of rage a gigantic shape suddenly burst through the opening and crashed down in the middle of the cavern. It was a monstrous hydra-esque creature with many heads, as many mouths, and many more teeth to go with them. It too bore signs of battle. Two of its heads dragged useless and dead behind it, and one of its long necks terminated in a bloody stump. It was blackened by fire. It was, consequently, not in a very good mood, and it still had plenty more heads with which to vent its frustration.

The dwarf let fly with his crossbows, loosing a volley of bolts that would have mown down a regiment of orcs. The wave of bolts sliced into one of the creature’s necks, causing it to crash to the floor with an impact that caused part of the floor to fall away.

The monster let out a earth-splitting roar of rage, causing more of the floor to give way, and it sprang at the dwarf.

"Liver-n-Onions!!!" screeched the dwarf, as he scampered off through the rocks. (His mother would have been appalled to hear him use such language!) However, no dwarf is going to outrun a hydra-thingamajig. The beast sprang forward and landed in front of the fleeing dwarf. One of the dead heads smacked the dwarf on the creature’s way over and the dwarf went flying off to the side, over a ledge, and thumped down to the floor below.

The monster pounced down upon the dwarf.

Suddenly, the dragon went flying right over the heads of the hydra. The hydra snapped many rows of razor-sharp teeth at the dragon, but narrowly missed. All of the hydra’s heads went flying up at the spot where the dragon was flapping. This was what the dragon had been counting on, he suddenly dodged and dropped to the cavern floor. All the hydra’s heads went crashing together with a sickening, yet very satisfying, thud. The appalling creature teetered, and then crashed to the ground.

"Good work Chrysophylax!" yelped the dwarf. "Now get it off me!!"

"Owwwwwww…." moaned Chrysophylax Dives. He just stood there a little limply, trying to remember when he had ever been in this much pain. "My wing…my side…my back…my head…my pinkie claw…" he groaned, enumerating some of the many places where he felt discomfort. "Why, oh why did I come along on this trip?"

"If you hadn’t knocked over the stalagmite and woke that thing up this might not have happened! Now get it off me!" bawled the dwarf.

"If you are going to be like that, I think I may just not!" snapped Chrysophylax.

"*Groan!* What is it you want?" moaned the dwarf.

"I think that with this specimen you will have collected more than enough snake-oil, don’t you agree?"

The dwarf did not particularly, but felt it best to go along with the dragon’s wishes.

The dragon then obligingly pulled the hydra off the dwarf.

Kuruharan emerged from the wreckage very much worse for wear. Looking at the remains of his clothing he sighed, "Oh well, if we bring along that thing’s treasure I’ll be able to buy myself a new outfit."

Then, instead of rejoicing at the triumph over the great beast, Kuruharan ran over to the opening, picked up a few shattered shards of pottery, and burst into tears.

"Alas and Alack!!!" wailed the dwarf. "I’ve lost my chia pet!! Boo-Hoo!!! Oh! Woe is Ralph!"

"Whatever," said the dragon apathetically.

*GASP!* exclaimed a scandalized Kuruharan. "Have you no respect for the dead?!!!"

Kuruharan suddenly remembered the fate of the unfortunate (and post-orcusly devoured) Gravlox.

"Oh, wait, no I suppose you don’t! But Ralph always liked you. He helped you swindle those migrating Pot-n-Tots out of their yak-hair shirts a few weeks back…"

"And boy, were those things itchy!" returned Chrysophylax. "By the way, when is dinner? Titanic battling is an excellent way to build an appetite!"

"As soon as I finish the obsequies for our dearly departed Ralph," replied Kuruharan. "Then it will be time for us to head back to what is laughingly referred to as civilization so that we can sell off all this snake-oil we have accumulated."

Back on the surface…

If our non-existent traveler had perchance strained his ear it would have been possible over the next few moments to discern a strange new sound emerging from the caverns below.

After a few moments of bewildered speculation, the conclusion might have been reached that the strange sounds were actually the mournful strains of Taps being slowly played in what was surely the most dreary and heart-rending dirge ever performed on a kazoo.

[ July 12, 2003: Message edited by: Kuruharan ]

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Old 07-13-2003, 01:59 AM   #10
Thenamir
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Sting

The great iron-and-plastic gates that opened upon the first level of the great Citibank of Minus Teeth rose some 30 feet into the air, made in the giant likeness of the cavity-ridden incisors of the founder, Ibesore the Gap-Toothed, turning upon two great pillars fashioned in the form of great stone toothbrushes. Upon the gates was emblazoned in gold-tone silk-screening the city motto, "Solum potestis prohibere decada dentum." ("Only you can prevent tooth decay.") First time visitors were usually in awe of the sight -- and the Gateskeeper skillfully pretended to gawk at the gates like a newcomer, though he had oft been there in times past.

Having arrived in the city, his artful facade he now began to weave amongst the crowds of people in the streets. A generous and kind-hearted soul he appeared to be, applauding and dropping coins into the hands or hats of talentless street bards and storytellers, giving alms to the poor and needy, and admonishing young children to brush and floss. Occasionally he would ask a discreet question in search of information about the Unerring Bow, but he was patient. For the moment he was content to create a good reputation, so that when the time came he would the more readily be accepted by...whoever posessed the Bow.

As the day wore on towards evening (as days are wont to do) the Gateskeeper began to seek out a place to stay for the night. This was much tougher a decision than one might suppose. He did not want a holiday inn, as he expected he might spend days inn that place, and did not want a motel 6 leagues away from the city. But he was accustomed to only the best western lodgings. One promising looking place was covered with pine straw thatch, giving it a homely-looking red roof...he just might ram-a da money into that inkeeper's hand and stay there inn Comfort.

Across the street, he espied Sethamir's Livery Stable And Wedding Chapel. A horse! A horse would enable him to cover more ground in his search. He made a mental note to purchase a steed worthy of his cunning genius, not to mention his full moneybags, in the morning.

[ July 14, 2003: Message edited by: Thenamir ]
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Old 07-16-2003, 07:33 AM   #11
Mithadan
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Sting

It was late morning when Grrralph emerged from Bettyfordeth. As he trudged down the steps, his tall figure cast a long shadow that reached out into the street. Several passerby came across that dark silhouette and halted, first looking up at its source, then turning around and hastening off in the other direction having abruptly recalled some important errand which had been forgotten.

A small child was playing on the sidewalk, a few paces in front of her parents. She hopped along as she went, chanting the time-honored rhyme, "Step on a crack, break your mother's back." On her last hop, she landed square upon Grrralph's shadow. Grrralph did not turn as the child's mother screamed in pain. He had more important matters to consider.

A vacation. Perhaps a short journey. And why not? Certainly he deserved it. He worked as hard as anyone. Why not take a vacation? Of course, he had never taken one before and had little idea where to start. His former 'occupation' had not been conducive to taking personal time off. So when he began working at the Houses of Bettyfordeth it had never occurred to him to ask for a vacation. And the hospital administration, being well used to treading upon the masses (read: patients), never thought to remind him...until now.

Yes, a vacation was an excellent idea. Perhaps he would seek a second opinion concerning his...afflictions. At that moment, the sun retreated behind a cloud. Cheered, Grrralph began to whistle. A few minutes later, when a light rain began to fall, he turned his whistle into a hum. And moments later, when lightning slashed across the sky, Grrralph began to sing one of favorite songs from many years ago, before he had come to Minus Teeth. As he began his tune, he had reached a broad marketplace and many people were seeking refuge from the rain in its doorways and under its awnings. They looked on as he swept past singing:

Daggers and maces,
and bows at ten paces.
Longswords and spears,
that lay foes on biers.
Arrows on strings,
and cold golden rings,
these are a few of my
favorite things!


By this time, he was singing at the top of his lungs. Suddenly, caught up in the moment, he drew his pale blade and began spinning around with his arms outstretched. His thigh high red boots struck sparks from the pavement as he shifted into a dance.

Liver and spleen,
and kidneys between.
Muscle and tendon,
and blades with to rend them.
Lungs, hearts and hamstrings,
and eyeballs a-bouncing,
these are a few of my
favorite things!


The shoppers in the marketplace gazed in awe at the 2.4 meter tall, black-cloaked and hooded creature as he skipped and spun about the square, gleefully singing...and dancing...in the rain. His routine continued until, in the midst of a particularly expressive whirl, the tip of his blade nicked the supporting pole of a stand.

Being a particularly enchanted blade (in contrast to his morningstar which was only moderately enchanted) the pole was cut asunder and the stand tilted precariously. "Whoops!" cried Grrralph as he grabbed the stand, lifting and holding it up so that it did not topple.

Its proprietor (after taking a completely understandable moment to recover) pulled forth a magical item. Dull grey or maybe silver it was, and it was rolled about a short tube. "Look!" someone cried. "It comes in rolls!" The shopkeeper pulled a generous strip of the magical substance from the roll and wrapped it about the severed pieces of the pole, repairing it with ease. Unfortunately, this consumed the last of the magical strip. "Damn!" muttered the proprietor. "Now I gotta kill another duck."

"Sssorry!" cried Grrralph. "But you know how it isss! Gotta Dance! Hey, does anyone know where Sethamir's Livery Stable is?"

The entire assembled crowd turned as one and pointed away from the market...
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Old 07-19-2003, 03:55 PM   #12
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Silmaril

“Where oh where is Merisuwyniel today?”

Pimpiowyn Took stood by the bedside of a sleeping patient in the House of Bettifordeth, and gazed out a window at the patter of rain pattering against said window. “Oh where oh where could she be?” she mused. It was not like Merisu to be late for work, even if it had started to rain. Despite the fact that she was young, single, ridiculously attractive, and had bad taste in men (or technically, half-elves and orcs) Merisuwyniel had no social life, so Pimpi was certain that she was not nursing a hangover or entertaining a guest. There was always the chance that she had remained abed to weep and pine over the shadows of the past, as people with lost loves are wont to do, by Merisu wasn’t given to depression, so Pimpi doubted that as well. No, Merisu had gone somewhere. Pimpi was as sure of this notion, as she was sure that Vogonwë could mangle even the most promising rhyme in ten seconds flat.

“Why would she go somewhere without me?” she wondered, feeling hurt. “I came here to help her, I wouldn’t be emptying bedpans and cooking bread pans and sewing bedspreads and nursing dead heads if it wasn’t for Merisu, so how could she take off a day of work without telling me???”

“Good gutting glory!” the erstwhile sleeping patient sat up in bed and glowered at her. “Are you going to stand there chattering to yourself and overusing punctuation or are you going to scrub my dentures?”

“I’m sorry,” Pimpi apologized. Then she smiled prettily and said with practiced politeness, “You speak very clearly for not having your dentures in.”

“I do have my dentures in,” he spat. The faux teeth flew from his mouth and landed on the bedspread. “Swubum!” he ordered, wiping a long trail of spittle from his chin.

Pimpi looked down at the not-so-pearly-whites. They were actually a bit yellow. Except for a few places where they were positively black. A dark stain of saliva slowly spread out across the comforter around it, and a foul odor rose up to assault Pimpi’s nose.

“I hear one of the doctors calling me,” Pimpi said, and spun around on her heel, knocking a glass of water from the bedside table as she did so.

“Hey!” the patient complained, but Pimpi ignored him. She took off her nurse’s cap and apron and made a dash for the door, donning an umbrella to shield from the rain. If she knew Merisu (and she did, read the first part of story if you doubt me) then there was only one place the lovely Elf could be, if she was not out of the city already—the stables.

As Pimpi was leaving Bettifordeth, she spied Vogonwë darting across the street, dashing in between raindrops. Being an Elf, even a half one, has it’s merits. Unfortunately, defying raindrops takes a lot of energy, and even the most vital Elf will want to just stand still for a moment or two. So yes, Virginia, Elves do get wet. And yes, this is non-canonical information you are being fed. But I digress.

“Vogonwë!” Pimpi called out, “would you like to come under my umbrella?”

“Gladly!” Vogonwë replied without hesitation.

(What? If he had hesitated, he would have gotten rained on. Haven’t you been paying attention?)

Pimpi skipped down the steps, tripped up on her skirts, and began to fall, nearly poking Vogonwë’s eye out with the tip of the umbrella. But he dodged out of the way and caught her in a chivalrous fashion, getting wet in the process, but who cares. They began to walk down the street, arm in arm under the umbrella in a cheesily romantic manner.

“Where are you off to, Pimpi sweetie pie?” he asked, “was it time to get off work already? Wow, those votive candles lasted long today…”

[Editor’s note: the rest of this document has been gone through carefully, and such phrases as “sweetie pie”, “cuddly muffin”, “velvet teddy”, “sugar lips” and “bunny bunbuns” etc. etc. etc. have been removed, so that you will not become ill. So let it be unwritten, so let it be undone.]

“No, I’m taking a break to go look for Merisu,” Pimpi replied. “She didn’t come into work today, and I think she’s going off riding without me!”

Vogonwë rolled his eyes. “I see. But, Pimpi, darling, maybe Merisu wants to go riding alone today…”

“Whatever do you mean?” she turned to look at him sharply (banging him on the head with the underside of the umbrella in the process).

“I mean, maybe she wants some time to herself…”

Pimpi blinked.

“What I mean to say, is… um… how shall I put this…” Vogonwë mused. “Well…”

“Oh, look! A rainbow!” Pimpi exclaimed as the rain abated. She lowered the umbrella (Vogonwë dodged to the side to avoid getting his head closed up inside it) and breathed in the clean, rainwashed air. She swung the umbrella back and forth and smiled around at the shopkeeper’s stalls. “I do so love the smell of the city after it’s rained,” she said happily. “The damp hay from the stables, the moist refuse in the gutters, the moldy canvas of the awnings in the marketplace…”

“Yes, as I was saying—” Vogonwë paused, momentarily distracted by putting his arm out between the umbrella and a passerby. “I was saying, that ever since the ‘Incident’ you’ve been quite attentive to Merisu, which is nice, and all, but I was thinking… watch out for the pottery, dear.”

“Oops,” Pimpi said, as she knocked a row of ceramic pots off a shelf with one ill-timed swing of the umbrella.

“Hey! Watch it!” shrieked the potter. “What is this??? Storm the marketplace day???”

“Terribly sorry!” Vogonwë called over his shoulder as they hastened away. “You can, uh, send a bill to the Daily Floss!” They left the shopkeeper muttering invectives under her breath, and Vogonwë continued, “As I was saying, I’m sure Merisu appreciates the company, most of the time, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if she wanted a bit of ‘Merisu time’ once in a… a very great while, so maybe today it would be best to—”

“Oh, Voggy, don’t worry about that,” Pimpi said breezily, brushing him off with a sweep of her hand (he leaned out of the way in time to avoid injury). “Poor Merisuwyniel doesn’t have a sweetheart to spend time with, and she hasn’t really ‘fit in’ with the other nurses at the H of B, so whenever I’m with you she’s all by her lonesome self. She has plenty of alone time!”

“Yes, well… the fact remains that she skipped work today and didn’t tell you…”

“Oh, Voggy, you’re just being jealous,” Pimpi tossed her damp golden curls saucily (he didn’t mind those whacking him in the face). “Merisu is my friend, and I want to know where she went. So there.”

“Jealous? Who says I’m jealous? My point was simply that you don’t have to follow her wherever she goes, and so—”

“Oh, go write a poem about it,” Pimpi said snippily. “You’re just such a grump from working in that awful little spider’s den at the newspaper office.”

“You’re right—my creativity is stifled here,” Vogonwë replied. “I haven’t been able to write a single line of new poetry in weeks, I’ve just been recycling old ones… If I spend much more time working in Minus Teeth like this, I may forget how to rhyme entirely.”

“That would be a tragedy.”

“Indeed.”

Vogonwë fell into a contemplative silence, calculating how easily he could arrange a vacation in the next twenty minutes. He didn’t even notice Pimpi rolling her dewy blue eyes and mouthing “Indeed” with an impertinent toss of her head.

“Oh look!” Pimpi exclaimed as they neared Sethamir’s Stable, “there she is, I knew it! And is that Lord Etceteron she is speaking to? Whatever could this be all about?”
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Old 07-19-2003, 07:28 PM   #13
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Shield

Orogarn Two closed the satin covered lid of the Porcelain Throne and followed his noble father, the Proctor of Grundor, down the shadow filled Hall of Astronauts. Dark granite statues of ancient spaced-out kings looked out from between high pillars as Denimthor angrily led his son toward the open doors at the end of the gallery. The two walked in silence, but the animosity between them filled the great space of the Hall like a raging thunderstorm.
“You must not leave the city again,” shouted the older man, turning back. “Minus Moreghoul threatens the Wight City with another case of Bad Breath, and all you can think about is that blasted wallet! It can be replaced!”

“No, it cannot!” screamed Orogarn Two, rushing up to his father. “For it is not the wallet that I seek but what is, or was, in it. Do you think I would possibly leave the Citibank in this time of need for something as trivial as a leather money pouch? ”

Denimthor looked at his son searchingly and asked, “Then what is it that you speak of? What were you carrying through the Entwood that was of such importance? And if it was so valuable to Grundor, why was it taken from the city”

“I cannot say at this time,” answered Orogarn Two, “for I am off to the stables to choose a horse. I shall need a beast for my journey.”

“A what?” gasped Denimthor incredulously. “No cousin of Isildur, however many times removed, has ever required a steed for transportation. You know our motto, ‘A Steeded Steward Shall Soon Succumb to Shadow.’”

“I am not yet Steward, but you do not understand, father. I do not mean to ride the horse I choose. I simply require an animal that can carry the equipment I will need for my trip. I refuse to be stuck in a snowstorm again with only a small towel for protection from the cold.”

Denimthor stood looking, but did not reply.

“I am off to the stable,” said Orogarn Two, “Goodbye.”
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Old 07-19-2003, 10:30 PM   #14
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The Eye

The Tale of Môgul Bildûr (Part II)

There has been much speculation on the means by which Môgul came to escape from the Void. Some say that the Velour, wishing the freeholders of Muddled-Mirth to defeat him through their own endeavours and thus determine their own fate, left the Door of Doom, the only egress from the Void, ajar one night. Many reject this hypothesis out of hand, however, pointing out that the Velour were far too enwrapped within their vacuous Valleyum vicissitudes to be bothered with the affairs of Muddled-Mirth at that time. Others rather unkindly point accusing fingers at the Doorman of Doom, suggesting that he took a back-hander to leave the Doom-laden door unlocked and look the other way while Môgul slipped out. But this theory is poo-pooed by those who hold that a servant of the Velour would surely have been nothing short of incorruptible. However detached they may have been, the Velour were certainly no slouches when it came to taking the moral high ground.

No, the reality is unfortunately rather more disappointing. Having been so preoccupied with brooding darkly, Môgul, falling prey to the single-mindedness that has marred the career of many a promising Dark Lord, had neglected to keep in mind the fearsome array of powers at his disposal. But news of the fragmented Ent had stirred him from his dark and obsessive thoughts and prompted him to check through his formidable inventory of talents item by item.

“Laying vast armies low with one blow of my mighty mace?” he had pondered. “Humbling great nations with my commanding voice? Erm, forging Rings of Power? Infusing lifeless bodies with disembodied evil spirits? Um …”

But none of the regular Dark and Lord-ish crafts had seemed to fit the occasion. Frantically, he had plumbed the depths of his infernal abilities until at last he had hit upon the solution.

“Doh! Metamorphosis! Of course!” he had cried, slapping his dark forehead in mock self-admonishment. Then, cackling insanely, as was expected of him in the circumstances, he had uttered the dread words of power:

“Kafka Esque!”

And with those words, he had assumed the form of a lowly, although still suitably malevolent, cockroach. His ad hoc antennae quivering, he had surveyed for one last time the dismal features of his hated prison. Then, turning his thorax on it with immense satisfaction, he had crawled through the Crack of Doom (under the Door), narrowly avoiding the inadvertent footfall of the Doorman of Doom which, had it found its mark, might have spared much of the suffering which came thereafter.

******

And so it was accomplished. Only a few short years after the eponymous Ent was shattered and scattered, Môgul Bildûr, Lord of Dark and Dirty Dealings, once more roamed Muddled-Mirth unfettered. And he was greatly pleased by what he found. For, while he had whiled away years unnumbered in the Void (brooding darkly, as has been said), evil had not slept. It had not even taken advantage of his incarceration for a quick time out. Rather, like some remorseless and insomniac serpent, it had slithered and wound its way inexorably throughout the realms of Muddled-Mirth. And there it had found succour in the hearts and minds of those willing to accept it (or simply too naïve to recognise it when they saw it). And so it had poisoned the broken heart of Vinaigrette, twin sister of the Elven non-Queen, Saladriel. It had infected the substandard mind of the unimpressive Lord Sourone. And it had found acceptance among the Dorks and Geeklings of the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM).

And eager to waste no further time in putting into effect his pernicious (if predictable) plan for world domination, Môgul had immediately set about gathering to him his many minions and agents. Orcs and Trolls there were, of course. And those Korprat-Loyers that had remained faithful to him (although Loyers being what they are, many had switched allegiance to whoever had swung the bigger purse in their direction). And he found willing servants too among many of the races of Man: the wild Beasterlings of Near Hardup, the penniless Poltroons of Far Hardup and the ferocious Scallywags of Khant.

The first phase in Môgul’s plan had been simple yet effective. Much though it had pained him to do it, he had assumed fair and pleasant form to mask the dreadful nature of his true identity and taken to himself the name of Avatar, the Lord of the .Gifs. And appearing to the Elven Party-King Geppetuil in this form, he had beguiled him with wondrous images and styles fit for an inveterate partygoer such as he. But in return for this wickedly with-it wardrobe, Môgul had inveigled from Geppetuil the freehold to a sizeable tract of Southern Workmud, being part of the land that had been ceded to the Party-King by Throngduil, King of the Workmud Elves. There Môgul had built Gol Dulldor, a vast fortress-cum-logging mill and installed as its master the inept Dark Lord wannabe Lord Sourone, with orders to clear the forest for redevelopment. And, ever mindful of the Doom pronounced upon him by Mantoes, Môgul had bid Lord Sourone report to him any suspiciously vocal wooden artefacts that might be discovered in the process.

But Môgul’s establishment of Gol Dulldor, in a location of no discernible strategic value whatsoever, was simply a diversionary tactic on his part. For, having made a thorough reconnaissance of Muddled-Mirth, Môgul had espied a far more suitable location for his power base. To the East of Grundor, the convergence of the Ered Lethargi and the Ephel Dûwot rather conveniently formed a realm wholly enclosed by impassable mountains. This was Moredough, which later became known as the Land of Shadowy Deals. Here Môgul raised a deeply unattractive high rise office block on an outcrop of the Ered Lethargi: the dark and forbidding Tower Block of Barát-Höm. And in yet another convenient topographical arrangement, it happened that a handy Ent-part disposal unit lay close by in the form of the volcanic Mount Moody, which was also known as Odouruin, for the repugnant reek of its sulphurous gasses was enough to fell any Man, Elf, Hobbit or Dwarf (or any combination thereof).

So, sitting in his luxury apartment and office suite in the Tower Block of Barát-Höm, Môgul once again turned to plotting and scheming (which was of course his particular forte). Having been released from his bonds, he set about acquiring bonds, speculating in the Bear Markets of the Watschaduin Valley and in the Citibank Exchange in Minus Teeth. But most of all, he worked towards the recovery of the pieces of the Ent that was Broken. For he knew that if he could destroy just one such piece he would escape the Doom that had been pronounced upon him and be free to initiate a full-blown hostile take-over of Muddled-Mirth. The fall of Gol Dulldor was a setback, but one that Môgul took in his stride as he still owned the title deeds to the land.

And so, even as the Fellow/Gal-ship haphazardly reconvened for its second Quest, Môgul, having reacquired his former strength, was set upon the verge of overwhelming victory.

[ July 20, 2003: Message edited by: The Saucepan Man ]
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Old 07-20-2003, 02:53 PM   #15
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Silmaril

Tears ran down Merisuwyniel’s lovely cheeks, making her violet eyes appear even more luminous. She looked so beautiful in her distress that a male of any species would have been filled with the desire to comfort her. However, the only human male observing her was Lord Etceteron, who, though the epitome of manliness, was something akin to a stepfather to her, having been the last love of her recently deceased mother. In other words, their relationship was purely platonic and platonically pure.

Tofu, being a male of the equine species, could not help but be touched by her grief. He nuzzled her cheek, causing her to cry even more copiously. “Weep not, fair Merisuwyniel,” he said. (Well, he actually pronounced it more like “Merry-suh-whinny-el”, but who’s going to niggle about details? I mean, this is a horse that can talk, for crying out loud!)

“But I cannot take you with us,” she sobbed. “Sethamir will not let me leave with both of you at the same time until I have paid the rent. He says one of you stays here as a security.”

“I would not go from this city in any case,” Tofu replied. “I feel that my fate lies here, and I shall find my destiny if I stay.

”Still round the corner there may wait
A hero at a corral gate;
And though I oft have galloped by,
A day will come at last when I
Shall carry down the road the one
Who reaches out for Moon and Sun.”


“But this is the cheapest and worst stable in the whole Wight City,” Merisuwyniel objected. “How can you hope to find a hero here?”

“Heroes can be found in the most unlikely places,” Tofu stated simply. “It may even be that someday the human race will find hope in a lowly stable.”

The Elven maiden stroked his mane, then untied his tethers on an impulse. “Should anything happen,” she murmured, “it will not be difficult for you to free yourself and find your way to your destiny. May the Velour ever guide your steps to green pastures.”

She gave him one last embrace, then turned to lead Falafel to the (instable) stable door. Earnur was waiting for her with his steed Pinkjin, still puzzled over the reason why they should leave the city immediately. However, since he was equipped with an appropriate mount and it had stopped raining, he was quite willing to accompany her on an adventure.

Into this purposeful activity there suddenly burst a flurry of hectic impetuosity. The door barely missed Etceteron’s manly nose and his “I say!” was drowned by a very flood of questions.

“Merisuwyniel, why are you here and not at work? Are you riding away without telling me? And why are you carrying the Bow with you? I haven’t seen it in weeks! I looked everywhere to find you, even in the House of Peeling, but you weren’t there!” Pimpiowyn stopped for breath, something even she had to do once in awhile.

“Cosmetic surgery?” Merisuwyniel asked, puzzled. “Why should I be there? Elven features are inevitably perfect, and I already have pointed ears.”

She had just begun with explanations concerning the continued Quest when a tall, striking figure entered the stable. “Orogarn Two!” four mouths exclaimed simultaneously.

“Son of…” Vogonwë began, stopping abruptly as his beloved’s no longer dainty foot stepped energetically on his, hardly unintentionally.

“Oh, this is wonderful – almost like old times!” beamed Merisuwyniel. “The whole Fellow/Galship, at least what’s left of us, with Kuruharan and Chrysophylax off to strange countries, Pettygast gone who knows where, and dear Halfullion deceased. You know what we should do to celebrate?”

Eight eyes turned expectantly to her.

“Group hug!” she exclaimed.

“You have obviously spent too much time in the House of Feeling,” Orogarn Two said sternly.

“And too little in the House of Dealing,” Etceteron mumbled under his breath.

Vogonwë said nothing, for he was lost in contemplation of the various names of the Houses of Bettifordeth. I knew my inspiration would come back if I just got out of that dingy office! he thought.

Suddenly a black shadow fell across the patch of sunlight that entered through the open door. The temperature seemed to chill several degrees, though a torrid breeze accompanied the black-cloaked apparition that entered the stable. A voice, ghastly in its cheerfulness, spoke, “I’ve come to pick up my horse.”

Pimpiowyn’s big blue eyes widened even more, Sethamir shuddered and pointed to the very last box on the left side of the room, and even Lord Etceteron was cowed into immovability while Orogarn Two stared open-mouthed at the strange sight. Only Merisuwyniel smiled and said, “Why, it’s Grrralph! How are you? I didn’t know you kept a horse here.”
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Old 07-20-2003, 05:26 PM   #16
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The Eye

Meanwhile, In Places Far Off and Distant and Just as Dreary as They Are Distant...

If anyone happened upon the distant nook of Marrow-Bones Studios at the late hour during which our little diversion begins, they would have most likely decided that they were experiencing a hallucination, and ran as fast to the Houses of Bettifordeth as their designer running shoes could take them.

Unless, of course, a talking piece of wood was nothing out of the ordinary to their jaded eyes.

The piece of wood in question, a rather badly shopped up thing that looked like a giant pear with a handle and with seven strings running across it, was eliciting whining noises:

"Mother, O Mother," the large wooden pear moaned. "Please don’t make me play MmmDope one more time, or I might choose death just like your last husband did."

The small figure addressed as "Mother" hissed most terribly over her most tiny shoulder:

"Silence! I have had enough of your insolence! I shall throw you into the bonfire at the next Puke basketball game, if you don’t let me finish setting up the new Cell- antír."

"Very well," the piece of wood sighed (the reader might imagine that if the piece of wood had eyes, it would have rolled them). "You are not my real Mother anyway. I would have expected this sooner or later."

"How dare you!" The figure snapped most awfully, and turned around, revealing a very small, neat, angry face. "It was I that rescued you from the mud where you were lying like a common log. You could have been picked up by someone else much less powerful than I! Turned into a chair! Your only acquaintances would have been Orc-bottoms! I made you into a Musical Instrument of Doom! A..."

Here she continued for a few more pages of angry statements followed by gratuitous exclamation marks, until a new picture on the screen of her brand-spanking-new Series 2003 Sarumsung Cell-antír distracted her from continuing her tirade about gratefulness and good pop music.

The Entish Guitar, for that was it, and no other, if you haven’t guessed yet (in which case you probably should quit reading and go watch MTV), let out another long sigh.

"What are you looking at, Mother?" It asked, resigned to its fate.

"My latest batch of victims," she said and yawned, and even her yawn was ferocious. “Nothing exciting. Some racy Elvish maiden thinks she can save the world from injustice without paying off the right officials first. Some half-Elven character in puppy love. Some…”

Here she paused for a second, raising one exquisite dark eyebrow.

"Some...Some rather inebriated gentleman that appears to appear to be quite tasty in appearance," she spoke in a slightly different tone. "Could serve me well during the Fangsgiving Feast."

"I am rather confused, Mother," the Entish Guitar replied after a moment of silence, during which the figure continued to study Earnur. "What, pray you tell me, do those weirdos have to do with us?"

The figure was silent. Leninia the Deceivingly-Little, despite her outward casual charm and her hippy-ish hairdo, knew when to keep her mouth shut. What’s the point in rattling the Guitar’s nerves with silly tales of silly heroes with silly dreams of rescuing the parts of the Ent that was Broken, if nobody in all of Muddled Mirth has ever yet escaped from Leninia’s claws...er, well-manicured nails, should they have accidentally wandered into them?

Such was the logic of Leninia, daughter of _____ and _____, as it mysteriously said on her birth certificate, and author of such alarmingly powerful dark hymns as "My Appendix Will Go On."

As if being broken physically wasn’t enough for our Ent in question, its will was now also broken by the charms of Leninia, that had carved the hapless log into a guitar and used seven hairs off her pretty-yet-full-of-deceit head for strings, all the while feeding it syrupy stories of future success.

Leninia’s agenda was a mysterious one, so mysterious, in fact, that Leninia herself was sometimes not entirely sure of what it was she wanted to do with her life. Childhood was a series of fads that came and went with her ever-changing fancies. She settled on music when, having run away from home, she accidentally arrived at the Marrow-Bones Studios, having taken the wrong turn on her way to get a job as a sales clerk at the Gap of Rohan.

The Marrow-Bones Studios, at the time of Leninia’s arrival was a rather run-down dreary vastness whose employees lived in such a drug-induced stupor that you could hardly tell the living from the dead ("Or maybe they’re all dead," Leninia thought for one uncomfortable moment, before deciding it really didn’t matter either way).

Marrow-Bones Studios stood no chance against the hostile take-over she planned and quickly executed. Leninia was a totalitarian diva at heart, despite her free-wheelin’ youthful façade, and she didn’t leave her father’s very own Black Tower Records empty-handed. She had her voice, charming, hypnotizing, and capable of hitting such high notes that it could crack doors to nuclear bomb shelters, least of all heads. She also had in her possession her umbrella: a peculiar thing with the head of a black poodle for a handle: a present from a gentleman who had wondered in from another storyline for tea with her father long ago. What was that gentleman’s name? Gerber? Goiter? Goether? Whatever. Leninia couldn’t be bothered to recall it now. Regardless, it was useful for flying when the wind was good, and helped her turn certain individuals she had met on her way into toads, goats, and Korporat Pigs. A weapon much more exciting than daddy’s staff.

"Mother," the Entish Guitar interrupted her thoughts yet again with a characteristic whine. "I think one of my strings is on too tight."

"Mother will fix it," Leninia purred, and pushed the off-button. The screen of the Cell-antír went blank. Fate would lead the rag-tag group of individuals she had spied upon to the Marrow-Bones, sooner or later, and she would be ready. By becoming so thoughtlessly involved with the Ent that was Broken each one of them had cancelled their subscription to the resurrection. All Leninia had to do was wait, filing her nails and trashing hotel rooms in the meantime.

[ July 20, 2003: Message edited by: Lush ]

[ July 20, 2003: Message edited by: Lush ]
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Old 07-20-2003, 10:43 PM   #17
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Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Boots

Meanwhile, back in the barn, I mean stable…

Before the fearsome specter had a chance to respond the Gallowship noticed a growing commotion coming from somewhere nearby. "I say," said Earnur, "what’s that sound?"

"Uh-oh," said Orogarn Two. "It sounds like it is coming from the Great Shopping Mall of Missing Dentures. The plebeians are probably staging another riot to protest against the rampant price gouging! We’ll have to put a stop to this!"

With Orogarn Two in the lead, the Gallowship quickly made their way toward the Mall, ready to quell any form of civil disobedience should it rear its ugly head. However, when they rounded the last bend they saw that things were not quite as they had imagined them.

The source of the disturbance was a large dragon who had landed in the middle of the parking lot, which naturally aroused some degree of consternation in the crowd of onlookers.

"Forsooth!" cried Orogarn Two, "yon vile worm will burn down the Great Mall of Missing Dentures and ruin the economy of Grundor if somebody does not stop him!" So saying he took a firm grip on his sword and prepared to spring forward to do battle.

"Wait," said Merisuwyniel, "there is something familiar about that dragon."

Now that she mentioned it, there was something odd about the scene unfolding before their gaze. Instead of spreading forth fire and random destruction the dragon was unpacking several large bundles. The behavior of the crowd was also unusual. They actually had the air of people waiting for the opening of a particularly cheap and disreputable flea market. When all the bundles had been unpacked a well-dressed dwarf climbed on the dragon and he started to make a speech.

"Greetings Grundorians!"

[applause from the crowd]

"Noble and honorable descendants of the Dumb-admen* of old!"

[more enthusiastic applause from crowd]

"I have arrived," continued the dwarf, "through fire and brimstone to bring you the best deals of the ages as befit you, the most noble and antiquated inhabitants of Muddled-Mirth!"

[wild applause and cheering from the crowd]

"Today is your lucky day!" The dwarf held up a bottle. "Within this reasonably priced little bottle you will find a cure for all your most dreaded ailments. This stuff is guaranteed to remove warts, cleanse acne, lower your cholesterol, unstop clogged drains, repair leaky faucets, and cure baldness!!! And if that does not suit you, I’m sure I have something you’ll like!"

"HUZZAH!!!" cheered the crowd as they surged forward toward the merchandise.

"Kuruharan has returned," said Merisuwyniel. "This must be a sign that we are to continue with the Quest!!"

"What?" said Vogonwë.

"But…" said Pimpi.

"Doesn’t he know that it’s illegal to sell in this city without a license?!" snapped Orogarn Two. "Especially in the hallowed parking lot of the Great Shopping Mall of Missing Dentures!!"

"I’m sure that if you point this out to him he will halt the sale until he has filed the proper papers," replied Merisuwyniel. "Knowing the glacially slow speed of Grundorian bureaucracy it should give us plenty of time to finish the Quest before he is eligible to hawk his wares in this city! Let’s go talk to him!"

With that the Gallowship started weaving their way through the large crowd of prospective buyers. It took them some time to make any progress toward where the dwarf stood in the middle of the confusion.

Kuruharan was trying to talk a reluctant shopper into buying a bottle of his Miracle Cure.

"What’s in it?" asked the man.

Chrysophylax stooped over and took the bottle. He removed the cork and took a sniff.

"Filbert!" he announced. "He was my second cousin on my father’s side. He was scrumptious!! This stuff is bound to cure your baldness!!"

"But I’m not bald," said the man, running a hand through his thick head of hair.

"You see how well it works!" said Kuruharan. "Now drink!"

"Umm…" said the man as he handed over some money. He sniffed the contents and then took a swallow.

His eyes suddenly bulged out of his head.

"How is it?" asked Chrysophylax.

"HOT!!!" screamed the poor man. "OOOHHHH, PAAAIIINNN!!! MY INSIDES ARE ON FIRE!!!!!" he choked as he fell to the ground and started panting for air. Wisps of smoke started floating out of his ears.

Grrrralph was very impressed with the amount of pain this stuff inflicted.

"Hullo Kuruharan," said Earnur Etceteron, "It is most fortuitous that you arrived today. Merisuwyniel is reassembling the Gallowship to finish the Quest to Unite the Ent that was Broken!"

"Is she?!" said Kuruharan, glancing nervously about him.

"Yes," announced Merisuwyniel, striding up to the booth. "But beside that, you are going to have to stop this sale! Orogarn Two is off to fetch the Police and have you arrested if this ruckus is still going on when he gets back."

"Eh-?" said Kuruharan.

Chrysophylax sprang forward to change the subject. "Here’s some of that Snake-Oil that we promised to bring back," he said handing a bottle to Earnur. "This is a particularly fine specimen, my Great Aunt Edina. If ever there was any dragon that would ferment she was the one!"

"Ah, alas," Earnur replied, "I’ve given up drinking. Bettyfordeth hath changed my ways!"

"She’s been investing heavily in some Valleyum narcotics, I shouldn’t wonder!" ventured Kuruharan darkly.

"How dare you speak of Bettyfordeth in such a way!" said Pimpi, as she ran up with her hands full of useless trinkets. "How much is Vogonwë going to have to pay for these things."

Meanwhile as this sale was going on, Earnur was inspecting the bottle Chrysophylax had handed him. It was true that he had given up drinking, but this bottle looked so interesting. Of course it was all rubbish about there being powerful brain-addling drugs in the supplements that the doctors at Bettyfordeth insisted on him taking. He of all people ought to know. But…on the other hand, he had skipped his dosage this morning, and he had to admit that thoughts of double rum grew most strangely in his mind. "It can’t hurt to take a little sniff," he thought to himself. "Mmmm…," thought Earnur, "that’s not half bad!! One little swig for luck won’t do any harm."

{gulp}

"*AACCKK!!!*" choked Earnur.

"WOWEEE!!!" he yelped. "I haven’t had anything that good since that last time I was marooned off Dumbar!!"

Fortunately, everybody was too busy snatching up the "bargains" to pay much attention to Etceteron’s boozy transports.

"Hmm…," thought Earnur. "I’d better have one more little swig, just to make sure that the quality is up to par."

Well, one swig turned into two. Two swigs turned into twelve. Twelve swigs turned into the whole bottle. One bottle turned into seven, and by that time Earnur Etceteron was as drunk as a lord. He wobbled and staggered over to where Merisuwyniel was standing.

"Marshuwynl," stammered Earnur. "Yous gotta try shome o’ thish shtuff." He offered her one of the bottles that he held in his hand.

A moment of bewildered blinking and lurching followed. "Well, ifsh you don’t likes ‘at ‘ottle, I’ll give ya some o’ this othern." So saying he held out the same bottle again. There followed the same lack of response.

Alas, there were plenty of people paying attention to him now. And, as any one of the delighted spectators to this rather pathetic scene could have told him (if they had not been so busy laughing), "Merisuwyniel" was actually a rather homely hitching post. As for the real Merisuwyniel, the phrase "drowning in mortification" did not begin to describe the social disgrace that she was experiencing. The voice of one little girl in particular seemed to speak with prophetic overtones for the likely sequence of events that would unfold during the remainder of their Quest.

"Look Mommy, the clowns are here!" cackled the delighted little girl.

"Don’t look child," chided the mother. "Whatever he has might be catching!"

This was definitely not the preferred way of beginning a Quest that had the fate of the world bound up in it.

"Wot’s tha noise?!" demanded Earnur. He spun around to try and determine the source of this raucous guffawing. Unfortunately, that did in his rather rickety balance and he fell sprawling, occasioning a renewed outburst of derisive laughter.

It was at that moment, just when Kuruharan was considering charging everyone an entertainment fee, that disaster struck.

In the midst of the laughing crowd of onlookers was one Chrysophylax Dives. He was rolling on the ground in the throes of his mirth. In a desperate attempt to regain some air flow he inhaled deeply and exhaled sharply. Alas! Whatever it is in dragons that causes them to breathe fire kicked in at that moment and Chrysophylax spouted terrific flames right on Kuruharan’s stockpile of snake-oil.

*FOOOOOUUUUUUUUSSSSSSHHHHH* *KA-BOOOOM!!!!!!*

"Ooopsie!" said a suddenly sheepish Chrysophylax.

Ooopsie was right! The explosion sent flaming debris flying in every direction and one particularly large flaming object crashed down on the roof of the Great Mall of Missing Dentures, causing it to combust.

The crowd, terrified out of its momentary jollification, started running around in circles, flailing their arms like a horde of deranged orangutans, screaming, "The Mall’s burning!!! The Mall’s burning!!!"

Right at that moment Orogarn Two and the Police arrived. "What in the name of Kitzledoor’s hemorrhoids is going on here?!!!" he shouted.

"The Mall’s burning!!! The Mall’s burning!!!"

"Goodness Gracious, Great Balls of Fire!!!" bawled Orogarn Two. He quickly resolved to make hasty contact with the Minus Teeth Fire Department. It was fortuitous that, in the Government’s determination to run the city on the cheap, the Police were the Fire Department. All Orogarn Two had to do to make contact with the Fire Department was turn to the men following him and shout, "Put out that blaze!!!"

It was infortuitous that the Police were really rather better at being police than they were at fire fighting. About all they knew was that water did something to fire, they were not quite sure what. The fire continued to burn higher.

Vogonwë, meanwhile, did not give two straws about the blaze. The obscene cost of buying Pimpi all those trinkets was causing him, for the first time in his life, to seriously reconsider the usefulness of females. Maybe it was better to just write lovelorn poetry from a distance and not have anything to do with the real thing. This line of thought was something quite new and unsettling in his brain and he had no time to bother with the affairs of business conglomerates and firefighters.

Pimpi was munching on some delightful truffles that Kuruharan had sold her and, well, you can figure out the rest.

Orogarn Two was standing there fuming over the incompetence of his underlings. His station in society was far to high for him to actually lend a hand himself, so he was forced to content himself with shouting profanity at his struggling minions.

Merisuwyniel was doing her level best to aid the firefighters. However, being a battle-tested and deadly shield-maiden of the kindred of the Noodlar, she was rather better at burning down buildings than she was at saving them.

Grrralph was trying out a brilliant idea. He was setting alight great heaps of wood in unaffected parts of the Mall in hopes of staging a controlled burn to limit the spread of the inferno. Thanks to his unrelenting efforts, in half an hour the Great Shopping Mall of Missing Dentures was totally destroyed and the fire had spread to that entire section of the city.

Earnur was stumbling and bumbling his way about the streets singing…

"And I fell into a burnin' ring of fire,
I went down, down, down,
And the flames went higher,"


To demonstrate he poured on the current bottle of Snake-Oil, which had an effect similar to tossing a lighted match into an arsenal. Three more city blocks were flattened.

"And it burns, burns, burns,
The ring of fire, the ring of fire…"


Desperate to find a way to put out the blaze, the firefighters decided to try Grrralph’s trick of burning things down in order to save them from the flames. Thanks to the unstinting efforts of the Minus Teeth Fire Department, within another hour the entire city was ablaze. And through it all flitted the mysterious figure of the Gateskeeper enjoying many moments of pointing and laughing.

Thankfully, for the good of all concerned, Kuruharan and Chrysophylax had not been idle. As soon as the fire broke out they moved quickly to deal with the horrific problem confronting them. They were, at that very moment, heroically sneaking out the back gate of the city. For you see, the problem confronting them was the appalling prospect of prison time (or worse) for holding a public sale without the proper registration and for committing the worst act of arson in the history of Muddled Mirth. They acted with admirable speed and decision to deal with this problem in the most expeditious and efficacious manner possible.

-Note-

* Dumb-admen - Name used for the escapees from the downfall of Noodleor, or as it is now named in the Quixotic "At-th’-bottom." The Dumb-admen themselves believe that the name means "Noble Survivors and Descendants of the Heroic and Underappreciated Canon-Fodderians" but most everybody else thinks that the name means "Stupid Losers." This disagreement has led to several wars and many unpleasant acts of extreme violence.
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Old 07-21-2003, 01:49 PM   #18
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Silmaril

Vogonwë’s speculations on the worth of Pimpi versus his pocketbook, were interrupted as he caught sight of a visually stunning, not to mention serendipitous, event. He watched with rapt attention as the rapidly spreading flames rapaciously wrapped their flickering fingers around the location of his employment, the Daily Floss headquarters. “Ai!” he cried, but it was not a cry of dismay, as the term is usually is used to convey. The vocal inflection had a subtly higher arc, you see, and even though the spelling and punctuation was the same, it carried a distinctly different meaning. Translated from the archaic Quixotic into simpler Simian and then into Westosterone which is represented by English, it means, roughly, “Alright, DUDE!”

The roof of the Daily Floss collapsed with a magnificent snap, crackle and pop. This was followed by a whooshing roar as the flames bellowed and billowed and roiled and rocked and rolled throughout the entire edifice, disintegrating it nicely. He even thought he was able to detect the frantic screams of the custodian in charge of lighting. After a few moments of gloating at the ghastly yet glorious demise of the Daily Floss, Vogonwë turned to Pimpi (who was roasting marshmallows over a mellon stand) and said, “We gotta get out of this place.”

“Why?” she asked stickily.

“Cuz, girl, there’s a better life for you and me,” Vogonwë informed her melodiously. “Also, the flames are nearing us, and I don’t want to turn into a Vogonwë/Pimpi/mellon stand smore.”

“So where are we going?” Pimpi wondered, tossing her skewer aside and skewering an ill-fated Grundorian who chose that rather inopportune moment to run by in a panic.

“First, we’ll get some horses from Sethamir, and then… who knows! To infinity and beyond!” Vogonwë said, feeling giddy and adventurous after watching his workplace roast into oblivion.

“Oh, then we’d better pack,” Pimpi said practically. And so they did—pilfering packs, and pelf to put in them, from the smoldering ruins of the marketplace. Fortuitously, if not plausibly, they already had their weapons with them (Pimpi’s dagger Hush, and Vogonwë’s quiver of infamous yet unnamed hand-thrown arrows) and so after stealing some supplies, they went to the stable to hijack some horses.

Vogonwë had had his eye on a pair of fine looking geldings for a while (they were guaranteed not to run away with a lover while you’re in the middle of an important Quest) and so they quickly saddled up the identical twin roans: the legendarily lethargic, Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Vogonwë thought that any two horses who could chew hay placidly whilst their stable burned down around them, would be ideal mounts.

Pimpi’s cascade of curls was starting to singe, so she didn’t care what they rode as long as they rode.

As they galloped out of the doomed city, Vogonwë lifted his voice in spontaneous song:

C’mon Flossy light on fire!
Time to set the Floss on fire!

Torches couldn’t get much brighter,
Even if you’re a front page writer.
This is sure a level higher!

C’mon Flossy light on fire!
Time to set the Floss on fire!

I hope I don’t inspire ire,
When the flames I do admire.
But you know that I would be a liar,
If I tried to fake a crier.

So c’mon Flossy light on FIRE!!!


[ July 22, 2003: Message edited by: Diamond18 ]
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Old 07-22-2003, 09:08 AM   #19
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Sting

White teeth flashed in the sun, cracking bones like twigs and ripping the meat from them. The slavering and chomping noises could be heard several rooms away as the Gateskeeper, his manners not exactly Emily Post, enjoyed his midday meal on the porch at the inn with the red roof. The chicken was excellent, and even though he was by nature a miser Gateskeeper made sure to leave the cook and kitchen crew a nominal tip.

From his vantage point he could see quite a bit, especially the commotion going on at Sethamir's Livery Stable and Ice Cream Shoppe. From what he could see, that fetching blonde elven-lass was parting with what appeared to be a fine horse. Perhaps he was now available for sale. The sudden landing of the dragon in front of the nearby Great Mall of Missing Dentures piqued his interest, causing him to set aside his repast that he might pay closer attention. However, once the fire began to spread, he packed up, invoked the Grundorian law absolving him of paying the inn bill when the inn catches fire, and worked his way into the crowd. "I'm glad I found that dragon," he thought to himself as Chrysophylax sneezed again setting an entire side of a building ablaze, "before the Geeks at the Token-Ring of Networkgard did -- that serpent could make a great fire-wall!"

He was just about to follow the dragon away from the flaming carnage and out the city's back gate, in an attempt to win him over to his cause when the same fetching elven-lass went tearing by him, screaming something about having to "save the beau!" Now as beautiful as she was, thought the Gateskeeper, she probably had many a beau following her about trying awkwardly and in vain to start a conversation with her, and 'twould probably be natural for her to be concerned about one in particular. He would have taken no further notice of her if it were not for the fact that the beautifully crafted wooden bow slung at her back was also screaming "Hel-LO!! I'm made of WOOD! Wood BURNS!! Get me OUT OF HERE!"

Snapping back to attentiveness, the Gateskeeper realized that the curiosity of a talking bow and the news of the bow he sought could hardly be conincidence. Now he needed only a way to work his way into the affections and confidence of this lass and her companions. Then the idea struck him like a miffed union boss: her horse! Madly dashing through the burning city, occasionally taking time to point and laugh at the rapidly-blackening fortunes of some plebian, he raced back to Sethamir's Livery Stable and Internet Cafe. Sethamir, being a very practical (not to mention cowardly) man, had fled when the building next door burst into flames, leaving the horses behind.

Seeing that the building next door was three blocks down, the Gateskeeper calmly walked down the lines of flimsy stalls until he found Tofu and Falafel standing in adjacent boxes. He started to untie Falafel when the already-untied Tofu stuck his head over the wooden divider, "Would you mind untying the rest of us? we'd all like to avoid becoming well-done, if you know what I mean." The Gateskeeper was more than happy to help out, after getting over the initial novelty of a talking horse, especially since that enabled him to choose for himself the third-finest beast in the stables. Tofu, being the first, galloped off in search of a new hero with whom he could again find purpose in life. "Farewell, Falafel!" He called back over his shoulder.

"It's about time," Falafel, the second finest, half-whinnied as the Gatekeeper led her over to the saddle-gear. "Thanks for springing me from that death trap. Sethamir is a great guy and all, but he would have let me burn with the stable if he hadn't gotten paid. But who in the name of Fad-o-slacks, Lord of Horses and Fashion Pantaloons, are you?"

"Call me Ishmael," the Gateskeeper whaled, "and I'm taking you to your mistress. She ran out the back gate of Minus Teeth trying to save a wooden bow from the fire."

"Oh, that bow of hers," Falafel snorted, not bothering to hide her disdain as he allowed the Gateskeeper to quickly saddle her for riding. "She thinks more of that stupid talking bow than of her sweet Falafel, roasting alive back in the cheap stalls."

"Well, my good equine friend..." the Gateskeeper started as he saddled the roan steed he'd chosen for himself.

"You can call me Falafel."

"Well, Falafel, you are certainly a singular beast. Unless there happens to be more than one of you." He looked in the face of his own newly-acquired horse and said, "And unless you can talk, sweetie, I'll have to get Falafel to tell me your name."

Falafel acomplished the horsey equivalent of a giggle. "I don't think he'd appreciate being called sweetie, but his name in your tongue is Kebab."

"Thanks, Falafel. I think I might have something for you." He produced a couple of sugar lumps (pilfered from the former kitchens of the now-gutted inn of the red roof) and offered them to the horse who thoroughly relished the treat. The Gateskeeper smiled -- relish on sugar lumps was an odd combination, but in spite of that he knew he already had one of them on his side. The two horses and the evil magician rode away to join Falafel's mistress and her companions at the back-gate of Minus Teeth...

[ July 22, 2003: Message edited by: Thenamir ]
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Old 07-22-2003, 03:10 PM   #20
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Sting

Earnur Etceteron, Lord of Dun Sóbrin, Warden of the Sank Ports and Keeper of the Demented Stoat, awoke and greeted the beauteous roseate dawn.

'Uuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrgggghhh,' he croaked manfully. 'For Velour's sake turn off that ruddy light! Some of us are trying to die!'

Steeling himself against the pain, he opened one eye a fraction of an inch and winced. Before his mind's eye there were images of fire and brimstone, a huge dragon and a doomed city, which are all standard fare for a manly hero. What was not normal, however was the feeling of what could only be embarrassment that these visions aroused. Something very bad had happened, and his heroic senses told him that it might have had something to do with the empty bottle on which he had slept. He sat up, hoping in defiance of his senses that the top of his head was still attached, and his back cracked noisily, sending white-hot needles of pain up and down every nerve. He hadn’t felt like this since he’d been hit over the head with a quarterstaff in a border skirmish near Rudehour and his body was covered in inexplicable burns and abrasions. What horrors had been perpetrated on him while he slept?

As his fogged vision cleared, he became aware of various members of the Gallowship engaged in sharpening weapons, brushing horses and forging holy relics, a scene so redolent of the Quest of the Bow that for a moment he dared to hope that the apocalyptic images in his head were an undigested piece of cheese or some horrible narcotic fantasy; but his humble aspirations were dashed by the fragments of conversation that came to his ears.

'He’s still alive. You owe me a silver piece.'

'Has anyone else noticed? There’s probably enough in his system for a couple of bottles.'

'O Pimpi, my love: what rhymes with "booze" apart from "shoes"?'

'"Bruise", dear?'

'When the flames hit your eye that reach up to the sky, that’s a bonfire'

'Four thousand years of work gone up in smoke! I’ll kill them!'

Perhaps it had just been a nasty battle. Perhaps he couldn’t remember burning down a national capital. No, even in this company that would be accounted a disaster: they must have run into some orcs, or meddled in the affairs of wizards or something. Then a shadow fell across him and a clear, musical voice drew fingernails across the blackboard of his soul.

'I thought you were giving up,' said Merisuwyniel disapprovingly, her nose wrinkling with sickening elegance.

'As of today I have,' he mumbled valiantly. 'What happened? Did you see the troll that sat on me?'

'You drank enough snake oil to drown a continent and then set fire to the city,' she snapped. 'We are in hiding from the people of Grundor, who do not know of our fellowship and therefore do not believe that it could have been an accident. We break camp in an hour, so I suggest that you pack.'

'Without delay,' promised Earnur, and went back to sleep.

******

Some hours later he was still trying to piece together the shards of his mind. For some reason he had abandoned his intention to stop drinking, and he suspected that some unscrupulous cad had pressed him to drink wood alcohol. He felt that he would not have to look very far to find the culprit, and indeed Chrysophylax was flying low above the company with the Khazad con-man perched on his back. Shaking his head carefully, Earnur vowed once again to remain sober, and decided that nothing could be better for that intention than to hear the delicate phrasings of Elven verse. He wheeled Pinkjin about and sought out Vogonwë, who was composing an ode to the carbonised ruin of Minus Teeth.

'O Minus Teeth, that once was pretty,
Now you are a less pretty city.
By accident we burned you down,
And now you are shorter, blacker town.

What type of booze did Earnur drink
That made your white towers sink?
Was it even drink at all? I think
Not, because he fell beneath your walls.

Now far we go from our mistakes
That demand of us something, maybe rakes
Or other garden implement. Perhaps bent
Perhaps not. Woe is me for Minus Teeth
'

For some reason the woven staves had not worth in them to cheer him today. In fact for the first time he was noticing a new element in the poetry of his Workmudian companion, or rather the absence of something. It took him a few seconds to find the word, but it came to him with the last line of the lay: 'talent'.

'Hail Etceteron, lord of Stoats Deranged!'

Earnur grimaced in pain as the cheery greeting reverberated around his tormented cerebrum.

'Well met again, Sir Elf,' he forced himself to reply. 'What grave matters lead you to compose these weighty lines this day?' As he recovered he was remembering to put on his forgotten archaisms. "Don’t leave home without them," his father had always said.

'It is a lament for the great Wight hope of Grundor,' replied the bootless bard. 'I translated it from the Quixotic while you were asleep.'

'It sounds better when I can’t understand it,' muttered Pimpiowyn through a mouthful of oatcake. She spurred her mount ahead and left them to what passed for their conversation.

And so it was that the mighty Etceteron, prince of bunglers and Vogonwë, pauper of bards conversed as they rode; and so Earnur learned of all that had befallen before Sethamir’s Livery Stable and Travelling Barrel-Organ Repair Shoppe; and he wept bitterly, for Vogonwë had yet more lays to sing him.

Last edited by The Squatter of Amon Rûdh; 06-28-2004 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 07-22-2003, 05:28 PM   #21
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Sting

The Seven Staggered Stairs and the Wonderful Wandering Woven Warrens of Minus Teeth, which had been so effective a defense during The War for That Thing, did little to aid in the swift evacuation of the city. Soon scores of citizens were trapped in a great bottleneck at the O.K. Gate. The good people of the Wight City seemed to be doomed, until it was discovered that a good shove from the panicky crowd caused the great walls of the city to bow and collapse as if they were carved from talc.

After a few seconds of stunned silence, the crowd gave a great cheer and proceeded to knock down as many walls as they could. It soon became a merry game, with some rushing a particularly solid looking section to see how far the faux bricks would fly down the mountain. Others were dancing along the parapets, kicking loose great chunks of poorly mortared basalt. One adorable little lass was being held up by her grandfather as she walloped the base of the O.K. Gate with a little stick, leaving gaping holes behind her. Nobody had ever really cared much for the all those walls, anyway.

But all good riots must come to an end, and when the crowd backing up behind the impromptu demolition pointed out that the fire was gaining on them, the populace returned to their panicking and continued their flight down the Hill of Cards. Once they all reached the bottom, they promptly ran up the other side of Mount Middlin’ in order to get the best view of the burning.

It was a mixed bag that stared down the mountain in slack-jawed wonder as the mighty Minus Teeth burned down to the gumline. Men, Elves, Dwarves, Beorning, even a few uppity Halflings - who stood in the back rows - had all been drawn to the city during the post war boom. These were not great lords or warriors, but only the good, solid, honest yeomanry who had lived and worked all their small lives for the greater glory of Grundor. They didn‘t have a clue what to do, now.

“Well, it was a good run while it lasted,” muttered Imbored the blacksmith, as he picked ashes off of his tongue.

“True, true”, sighed Morwhine the barmaid, sitting down on a rock and pulling a bottle of “the good stuff” from her apron.

“Never cared much for those Seven Staggered Stairs and the Wonderful Wandering Woven Warrens, truth be told,” declared Massingil the Butcher. “Tourists liked them well enough, but I always put it down to bad planning, myself. Still, she did have her dirty ol’ charms, Minus Teeth.”

“But what shall we do now? We‘ve lost everything!“ sobbed Ashol, the Captain of the Guard.

“Get ahold of yourself, Ashol!” cried Angelina, the swimsuit model. “We rebuild, that’s what we do. We’ve gone through hard times before, but we just pulled up our underwires, and we went back to work!“

“Angelina’s right!“ cheered Christy, the game show hostess. “Who’s with us?“

“Not us,” a crowd of sooty, drunken Elves called out as they staggered past. “It’s your Age now. You fix it!“

But what about Denimthor?“ Morwhine wondered “Shouldn’t we wait here until he come by and tells us what to do next?”

“Ay! Where is our Lord Denimthor? Did he even make it out of the fire?“

“He best have. Otherwise you know who’s in charge, don’t ye? Orogarn, that’s who.“

Angelina sprang down from her rock, slung her make-up bag over her shoulder, and set off down the mountain. “I’m outa here.“

[ July 22, 2003: Message edited by: Birdland ]
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Old 07-22-2003, 10:42 PM   #22
The Barrow-Wight
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Sting

Still wallet-less, still horseless, and now city-less, Orogarn Two looked back in utter disbelief at the wreckage of the once beautiful Minus Teeth. Where recently row upon row of tall, beautifully straight enamel towers had stood, now only great gaping holes appeared, cavities more numerous than even the most experienced troop of Orthodontic Engineers could ever hope to bridge in a lifetime. The Wight City had withstood countless assaults from many enemies over its long history, but it had at last fallen to an unexpected combination of foes - a de-sobered Dun Sóbrin and a combustible Chrysophylax Dives.

“I should never have allowed them both into the city,” muttered Orogarn Two, shaking his head at the carnage that had been his home.

“You!” he shouted to a smoldering Police Chief who stood nearby leaning against the remains of a smoking lamppost and sobbing loudly. “Stop your blubbering and send someone to the Citibank to discover if my father yet lives.”

“Yes, my lord,” replied the started city official, rubbing soot from his eyes. He attempted to brush away the dirt and blood that covered his uniform, but he only managed to smear it deeper into the material. Finally, he shrugged and ran quickly up the road that had once led upward to the Porcelain Throne.

Orogarn Two looked down at his own splendid wardrobe, which was as spotless as the moment he had put it on that morning. I shall have to write that man up for sloppiness when he returns. He turned to his companions.

“My father warned me that my decision to rejoin you would lead to my downfall, and already it has caused the destruction of Minus Teeth. With the city now in ruins and the fate of Denimthor unknown, I do not see how I can leave.”

“Awww,” cried Pimiowyn as she and Vogonwë rode up.

“Whaaa,” mumbled Earnur before dozing off again.

“Sorry to see you go,” coughed the dragon insincerely from somewhere nearby.

“On the other hand,” answered Orogarn Two as he approached Dives shoving a four-inch thick copy of the Minus Teeth Fire Ordinance into his monstrous snout, “I do not see how I can allow you to wander freely through Grundor. So, either I have to throw you all in chains, or I have to go with you to ensure you don’t burn down the rest of my country. Which would you prefer.”

“Lock us up?” asked Merisuwyniel in feigned shock, raising her hands to her lovely face. “Where in Muddled-Mirth would you put us? Your city is in shambles.”

Orogarn Two grimaced as if punched in the stomach, and it became immediately apparent that the beautiful Elf-maiden was embarrassed by her hasty remark.

“Please, Orogarn, I’m sorry for that,” she said. “It is a terrible thing that has happened, but you know that our mission is also important, more important than one city or even one country. We need you on this journey.”

“Two,” answered the Grundorian, regaining his composure, “it’s Orogarn Two, and you are correct. I have neither the facilities to detain you or a true reason for staying, unless my father truly is dead. But I shall discover his fate shortly.”

Orogarn Two turned sharply on his blue suede shoes and strode quickly to where he had addressed the singed fireman. He sat himself down upon the head of a toppled statue and pulled out his citation booklet, writing out the reprimand for the grungy Police Chief. He did not have to wait long. Soon the harried official appeared with a note from the Citibank bearing the seal of Denimthor himself. Orogarn Two tore it open eagerly.

Dear Orie,

I have survived the crash of the Citibank and secured our personal holdings in the you-know-what in the you-know-where. As you surely know, Minus Teeth now looks like a hockey veteran with a discount dental plan, so I have, for the moment, officially renamed the city Minus Toothless. Do not fear! We have already summoned a team of Denturians who should have our fair city rebuilt before the third molars come in. In the meantime, with the majority of our citizens demanding your head (and those of you your companions), I now think it best that you leave Grundor for an extended vacation.

Sincerely, your father who told you so,
Orogarn One, Denimthor, Proctor of Grundor

P.S. I have changed our motto: “Stewards of Grundor do it on the Porcelain Throne”. So, the whole horse thing is null and void. Look for a steed to follow shortly behind this message.


“Cool!” shouted Pimpi, who was reading over his shoulder. “Orie is getting a horsie!”

[ July 23, 2003: Message edited by: The Barrow-Wight ]
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Old 07-23-2003, 07:24 AM   #23
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Silmaril

One lone tower stood high above the ruins of Grundor’s capital city. Built of stone in ancient times, it had not been destroyed by the fire. Had anyone looked hither, they could have seen a pale light that gleamed and flickered from the narrow windows near the summit. An eerie sound, akin to music and yet unpleasant to the ears, wafted down over the charred remains of the once proud metropolis.

The Steward Denimthor (widowed since his Stewardess had died some years ago) sat alone in his high chamber in the tower and bent his bow this way and that, attempting to play a violin. Maniacal laughing accompanied the strains (more of a strain to hear than to produce) whenever a burst of flames caught his eye. Finally he could build a city according to his wishes – none of these historic narrow streets with too little parking space and old-fashioned buildings; he would cause a new city to be erected, with a magnificent capitol and a Wight House for his own residence! With his son safely out of the way, who could defy him?!
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Old 07-28-2003, 03:27 PM   #24
Mithadan
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Sting

Grrralph had watched in stunned amazement as Minus Teeth burned. His attempt to limit the fire through a controlled burn had merely served to cap Minus Teeth's destruction. And as the flames rose, they drilled a cavity into his heart that he felt could never be filled. For here he had toiled for years to create a new home for himself after he left his...former employer. He sighed, remembering the many bedpans and soiled linens he had changed, the patients suffering from contagious diseases that he had comforted, the intestinal flu that had struck the city a few months ago... On the other hand, he had been advanced his vacation pay and his purse was full. He shrugged and turned away, whistling happily as he led his horse towards the back gate.

On a whim, and for no reason other than that he had no place better to go, he followed the Gallowship as it beat a hasty retreat from the city. He caught up to them as they made camp a few miles from the ex-Minus Teeth and dismounted. Ignoring the suspicious looks he received from Orogarn Two and Vogonwe, he approached Merisu with a nod.

She looked up at him in surprise, but smiled. "Why, Grrralph," she said. "Are you coming with us?" Behind Grrralph, several members of the Gallowship began attempting to catch Merisu's attention, waving their arms and shaking their heads wildly.

"Well, I wouldn't want to impose," he began. At that, Vogonwe began nodding his head so vigorously that his bow fell out of his hair. "But in truth, I have nowhere to go. What is your destination?"

Merisu stood proudly, her luxurious hair waving in the wind. "We are on a quest," she proclaimed. "We have gathered the pieces of the Ent that was Broken and now we go to reunify it!"

Grrralph's burning red eyes focused upon her for several long minutes as he digested this information. "Uh, yeah," he responded. "Well that soundsss very nice..."

At that moment Pimpi interrupted. "Yes," she interjected. "We have travelled far and wide across Muddled Mirth seeking these pieces of wood that can talk and have brought them together and must now get them rejoined!"

At times like these, Grrralph was painfully aware of his inability to blink, scowl or otherwise exhibit any facial expression of incredulity. Typically, such a reminder annoyed him, sometimes resulting in his taking swift action upon the source of his annoyance. But Merisu and Pimpi had been his co-workers, and, unlike others who had upon occasion made light of his physical appearance or mental agility (may they rest in peace), had always treated him with respect. So he restrained his natural impulses, suspended his disbelief and instead requested clarification.

"Uh, what?" he replied eloquently.

"We are taking the pieces of the Ent to a great healer, if we can find one," clarified Merisu.

A long and mournful wail was Grralph's response. When he was through (and the members of the Fellow/Gal-ship uncovered their ears) he cried out, "A healer? Yes! I will join you if you will have me! My sword is your!" He swept out his pale blade and waved it in the air, neatly slicing seven horseflies in half with one blow.

"Of course you may join us!" answered Merisu. The wind rushing over the plain sounded suspiciously like a groan at her words. Behind the tall figure, Earnur slapped his forehead and issued an ancient blessing, "Doh!"

Birdland's Post:

“Dohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh“
The timeless cry echoed across the length of Grundor, causing all who heard it to dig at their ears with a fingernail, or suck their teeth. It rolled down the slopes of Mount Middlin’, ricocheted off the flame-licked but inviolate stucco of the Citibank, turned left at Ozfestiath, missed the exit ramp at Nindolt, and scattered willy-nilly-hey-dol-derry-O across Muddled Mirth.

‘Til at last it reach a small, dark, mysterious backwater of a forest, (I’m not sure where, but you can bet the Gallowship will pass through there sometime in the near future.)

“Dohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”

Dozens upon dozens of shadowy forms immediately lifted sharp, pointed ears to the sky. (Yeah, kinda like an elf ear, but more curved towards the tip, and they don’t have that fleshy part at the bottom. Yeah, like that.) Wide luminous eyes (No, bigger…like a Keane painting. Think of an angst-ridden hobbit.) batted impossibly long eyelashes in alarm. And the answering cries (Higher. No, higher…that’s it.) went up.

“Prrrrrrrttttttt?”

“Aaaawwwwwppppp?”

“Nuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu?”

And of course “Meep?”

Then, light-footed as thistledown, one shadowy form climbed to the tippy-top branch in the forest, sniffed the air and called in a high, clear voice (No, higher than that!) “He lives!”

And its fellows below responded: “And we hatesssss it foreverrrrrrr!”

[ July 29, 2003: Message edited by: Mithadan ]
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Old 07-29-2003, 12:52 PM   #25
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Boots

There was a long moment of awkward silence. This was followed by a longer moment of awkward silence.

"Well, on with the Quest!!" announced Merisuwyniel, trying to redeem the situation.

Seeing little else to do the Gallowship started moving northwards(ish).

As they passed into a forest the Gallowship began to notice a strange noise.

Rrralph!!!

"What’s that?" asked Pimpi nervously.

Rrralph!!!

"It sounds like somebody calling for Grralph!" cried Earnur. "I knew no good would come of accepting him into our company!"

"Buh…Buh…Buh…" stammered Grralph. "I’ve never been here as far as I can remember. I have no idea what this could possibly be."

"Oh, I think that it must just be the Puking-Men," said Kuruharan cheerfully.

"Oh them," said Orogarn Two. "I’ve heard of them in the dark tales of my people, but we refer to them as the Woozies."

"Hmm, the wind’s changing," said Chrysophylax.

Rrralph!!!

*sniff* *sniff* went Vogonwë.

"PEEEEUUUUUWWWW!!!!" he screeched. "What is that dreadful stench?!"

Orogarn Two and Kuruharan kept their mouths closed and their noses firmly pinched shut.

"Who are these Puking-Men, who are also known as Woozies?" asked Merisuwyniel.

"They were Dumb-admen once," replied Kuruharan, in a voice that sounded like a duck with a bad head cold. "However, they rejected the ways of glitzy and squalid commercialism because it made them sick to their stomachs. Since Minus Teeth was the center of the great media frenzy of Muddled Mirth (or at least it was before an unfortunate accident befell all their marketing firms, shopping malls and advertising agencies) they fled the city to Pukestain Forest. Here they contemplate the evils of rampaging commercialism and their meditations make them even sicker. They would be absolutely delighted to learn of the fate of that city. It might cure them of their stomach ailment."

"Then wouldn’t it be a deed worthy of our great Gallowship to perform this service for the Puking-Men?" asked Merisuwyniel.

Rrralph!!!

"Let’s not," said Pimpi, starting off in another direction.

"They’ll hear about it eventually," said Vogonwë, following Pimpi’s lead.

The rest of the Gallowship changed course to follow Pimpi without even a pretense of offering an excuse.

"I know what we could do," cried Kuruharan, after a quarter of an hour of aimless wandering.

"What’s that?" asked Merisuwyniel nervously.

"We need to go to the Hidden Hideaway," said Kuruharan.

"Why?" asked a dubious Merisuwyniel.

"How do you know about that?!" demanded Orogarn Two.

"Uhh, just because," answered Kuruharan, hoping that this response would cover both questions.

"Why?" asked Merisuwyniel.

"Because," replied Kuruharan.

So saying he and Chrysophylax stared herding (some might say pushing and shoving) the Gallowship off in an easterly(ish) direction.

"But…" said Earnur.

"No time for that or we’ll be late," said Kuruharan cheerfully.

"Ooof…Late for what?…ouch…" said Pimpi as she was herded along.

"For whatever," said Chrysophylax.

===Three and a half days (and one botched crossing of the Great River) later====

The Gallowship stood on a ridge over a waterfall of the Hidden Hideaway admiring the view.

"I’d still like to know how you found out about this place," said Orogarn Two.

"Guuuhhhh…" said Kuruharan.

Suddenly, a heart-stopping screech rent the air above them. Grralph looked up to see if it was one of his former business associates. All he saw was a dark mass that smacked into him and knocked him off the cliff and into the pool below.

"It’s a Nazgul, a Nazgul," howled Kuruharan.

Indeed it seemed to be, and some could not help noticing that it bore a certain likeness to a certain new recruit to the Gallowship. It was mounted on a smallish dragon-like creature.

"Run Away!! Run Away!!" yelped Kuruharan and Chrysophylax together, as Kuruharan hopped on the dragon and Chrysophylax took off and started flapping about in a distraught fashion. Bother with the fact that Chrysophylax was much larger and could have burnt the other creature to a crisp.

"Wait a minute," shouted Pimpi.

Everyone else stood there rooted to the ground.

The Nazgul swooped down and hovered over Merisuwyniel. All the pieces of the Ent that was Broken mysteriously jumped up toward the specter. Merisuwyniel frantically grabbed them to withhold them from the grasp of the enemy.

At that moment Grralph dragged himself out of the pool and looked up.

"Brrrobert!" he wailed. "How have you been?"

The Nazgul suddenly checked and looked down at Grrralph.

"Grrralph, old buddy!" it screamed. "Fancy meeting you here!"

"What have you been up to lately?" moaned Grrralph as he climbed the slope.

Brrrobert climbed off his dragon and went to meet Grrralph. "I’ve taken a new job with this odd cockroach character. He’s a bit of a weirdo; constantly raving about some lava lamps that were stolen from him. He also likes to giggle about how he escaped from the ‘Big Void!’ I think that means that he is a fugitive from a failed television career. Anyway, he told me to be on the lookout for some missing blocks of wood, and these are the first that I have seen."

"Interesting," said Grrralph. "Well, I just lost my own job, I’m having to do some freelance work right now."

"That’s too bad," said Brrrrobert.

"I’d better let you get back to work," said Grrralph. "I would not want you to get fired from another job. Tell Geeeeeorge and Ssssam that I said ‘hello.’"

"Will do," said Brrrrobert, as he climbed back onto his dragon. With that Brrrrobert flew off to the east toward the mountains.

Everyone, except for Merisuwyniel, glared at Grrralph with new suspicion.

"What?" said Grrralph.

"That’s settled then," said Kuruharan. "Time for us to be getting on our way."

"Now wait just a minute!!!" screeched Merisuwyniel.

"Later," interrupted Kuruharan.

"But…," began Earnur.

"No time for that," said Kuruharan. "Off we go!"

=====Three and a half days (and a more botched crossing of the Great River) later=====

"Here we are," announced Kuruharan.

Rrralph!!! came the familiar cry of a few days ago.

"This is right where we started from!" shouted Orogarn Two.

"Yes," said Kuruharan.

"Whighif…*cough*…*sputter*…You mean to say that there was no point to all of this and that we are right back where we began with absolutely nothing to show for this cross-country trek?!!!!" Merisuwyniel screamed.

Kuruharan just blinked at her.

"I don’t believe this!!!" Merisuwyniel bawled to the heavens. "Only the Crown Prince of Idiots would write into a story a stupid plot twist that dragged us fifty miles out of our way, put us into extreme danger, and then pooped us out again exactly where we started from without advancing the story one little bit!!!!!!"

"Indeed," said Kuruharan darkly.

[ July 30, 2003: Message edited by: Kuruharan ]
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Old 07-29-2003, 02:25 PM   #26
Thenamir
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Sting

After circling the rapidly-decaying city, well out of reach of the citizenry pushing over the basalt-cum-flour-paste walls, Gateskeeper, his newly "acquired" steed Kebab, and Mersuwyniel's horse Falafel, finally arrived at what was left of the back gate, conveniently ignored by the Citi-zens of the Minus-Now-Toothless. Gateskeeper surveyed the ground from his mount, wondering aloud, "I wonder which way they wandered? "There seems to be a trail of crumbs, apple cores, and food wrappers leading off in that direction."

Falafel looked around, then spoke up. "That would be Pimpi, the former half-halfling, ridding the Gallowship of any unwanted (or unwatched) comestibles. And where Pimpi is, Merisu can't be far away."

"Well, then, my good Falafel, let us follow!" cried Gateskeeper with a sly smirk half-hidden behind the cloak. They were indeed some miles down the rather-unmistakeable trail when Gateskeeper's Cell-antir suddenly started trembling in his robe's hip-pocket (the one usually reserved for his flask of "Windex"). "Mother-boards!" he muttered using a gutter-slang of the Geeks. "Who in the name of Peter Norton's Spectacles knows I'm here?" He sureptitiously reached for the Cell-antir, hoping Falafel, a bit ahead, would not notice, and spoke furtively to the glowing orb. "Yes, who is it?" he said, not hiding his nervousness or his annoyance.

A singular evil hiss whistled back to him over the device, one that sent a chill down the yellow stripe on his back. "Gatesssssey," the voice of Mogul Bildur oozed like a fetid steaming toxic-waste accident, "long time no ssssee."

"Umm, ah, oh! Your Towering Evil Malevolenceship! How...how...nice of you to call! I, err, thought you were still in the slammer!"

"No," Mogul replied in a slimy croon, "I managed to crawl away from my prissson and I'm back in my old digsss in Moredough. How are you doing? I thought you were

Away, away, away down South in Pea Sea!

Oh You wish you'd won down in the land of Eunuchssss
You just need a couple o'new tricksss
Look thisss way! Look thisss way! Look thisss way, Pea Sssea Man.

That Pea Sssea land, it's a land of money
But the O/S there is not your sssonny
Look thisss way! Look thisss way! Look thisss way, Pea Sssea Man.

You want to win the Pea Sssea,
Away, Away
The Pea Sssea trassssh I'll let you hasssh
If you will just help ME, ssssee?

Away, away, away down Sssouth in Pea Sssea!


Gateskeeper listened to his old mentor sing, mostly becuase he had no choice, though Mogul couldn't carry a tune in a cauldron. Quickly he interrupted at an opportune pause to relate the story of the strange speaking Bow he had seen.

"Hmmm," smoked the voice on the other end of the connection. "This is an unexssspected but mossst welcome revelation. It seems that you are already doing my work for me...again." Gateskeeper bristled. He knew all too well the prophecy about the ent that was broken, and would almost be willing to help the Gallowship out just to be rid of his stiff and strong competition. But his eyes perked up at his offer to let him have the Pea Sea in exchange for his help.

"Gatesy" pondered awhile. "If I help you, will you allow me to keep that unerring bow to conquer the Pea Sea? And loan me a few more of those Korprat-Loyers?"

"Done," the black voice said with a cold finality. The orb went black as the final words were spoken, "Instructions to follow." Gatekeeper nearly dropped the Cell-antir, for as the dark words were pronounced Mogul had caused the device to tattoo a fell black trademark into the palm of his hand...the mark of the Cloz'd-Dheal. Now Gateskeeper must not fail, or he himself would be turned over to the Korprat Loyers to be tortured in the pitiless Dungeons of Default.

He had little time to ponder this, as Falfel emitted a joyful whinny, for the gallowship had come into sight, still a bit miffed for the useless detour. Gateskeeper quickly put away the cell-antir and rode up in time to see the joyful reunion of Merisu and Falafel.

"I thought you'd been burnt in the fire," Merisu gushed as tears wet her magnificently porcelained cheeks. "There was no way I could come back for you. How did you manage to escape?"

Falafel pointed her ample nose at Gateskeeper. "If it had not been for this simple...err, I never found out what it is you do for a living, Gateskeeper."

"Allow me to answer for myself," Gateskeeper said to the assembled quest-ians. "I am called Andotiruves in the Quixotic, or Gateskeeper in the common tongue. You all look as if you are about to embark on a quest, and yet have come away ill-prepared due to the ruination of the Wight city. I have many trades and excel at many things. For instance, I am a passable cobbler, and I see by the worn condition of your footwear that many of you need to re-boot. I am also quite learned in modes of travel and lodging, posessing much Expediant information. I have been an Explorer on some occasions, and I fish well with my inter-net. I keep my outlook expressly positive. I see sharp, and I run well without crashing. Perhaps I can be of assistance on your journey...?"

Thus Gateskeeper joined the Gallowship and comes into the story of their comings and goings. But he ever wore a black glove, to hide the Cloz'd-Dheal upon his right hand.

[ July 30, 2003: Message edited by: Thenamir ]

[ July 30, 2003: Message edited by: Thenamir ]
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Old 07-29-2003, 09:12 PM   #27
The Saucepan Man
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The Eye

As the sun hesitantly peeped out from behind a cloud, bathing the crumbling cavities of Minus Teeth in a reddish-orange glow redolent of its erstwhile combustion, the ambience of the Land of Shadowy Deals changed not one jot. For it was a land of perpetual twilight. Remorselessly, a thick black and stomach-churningly noxious cloud of smoke poured out from Odouruin spreading across the dread realm and creating a gloomy pall that choked out all but the faintest of light. It was, in short, a typical day in Mordough.

A cruel wind howled down from the remote, disinterested peaks of the Ephel Dûwot, plummeting down the mountainous crags like some suicidal Warg gratuitously dragging a hapless would-be King over a precipitous chasm. Finding itself at the foot of the mountain range and pausing momentarily to recover its composure, it proceeded to sweep across the poisoned wasteland of the Plateau of Gorgonbreath before reaching the eyesore that was the Tower Block of Barát-Höm. Then, whistling gleefully as it went, it spiralled haphazardously up the frightful citadel, past the forbidding towers and minarets populated by countless accursed executive assistants, administrators and middle-managers, until finally it petered out from sheer exhaustion atop the shuddersome skyscraper. There, suspended between two baleful towers, a single nostril hung ominously below the gloomy mantle of smog, red and enflamed, flaring and sniffling and smelling the foetid air, ceaselessly searching for the scent of rent Ent.

And there too a small, hunched figure struggled in the merciless gale frantically trying to bring under control an arrangement of metal rods attached to the top of the Dark Tower Block. The figure was swathed from head to foot in a large and ill-fitting black cloak, hooded to conceal its head, and its feet were clad with two misshapen and equally ill-fitting boots. As the figure toiled to manoeuvre the infernal device, a frightful disembodied voice, reminiscent of a thousand well-manicured fingernails scraping down a hundred blackboards, could be heard above the howling wind.

“Left a bit … no, too much … right … right a tad more … no, too far again … down a bit. That’s it! Right there!”

The pitiful figure carefully removed his gnarled, stumpy hands from the contraption and turned towards the steps leading down into the dark interior of his Master’s fearful residence. The ghastly voice rang out once more.

“Now, Soregum, return to my office. For there is work to be done.”

Soregum, for that was the unfortunate fellow’s name, groaned inwardly. Having spent the last hour struggling to fix the reception on his Master’s Satel-antir, he had hoped for a quiet moment to himself. He had been looking forward to charging his pipe with some Old Toothrot, smuggled in only yesterday from the Mire, and to feasting on the insanely sugary sweetmeats that he had picked up on his last errand to Minus Teeth. He paused and allowed himself a moment’s pleasure at the misfortune that had so recently befallen that city and its accursed dentists, before the misery of his current predicament once more intruded rudely upon his thoughts. And not for the first time, he found himself wishing that he was once again back in his ...

“Soregum! Where are you, you lazy, good-for-nothing toerag?”

The ghastly voice shattered his reverie and, carefully piecing it back together again for future reference, and hitching up his cloak so as to avoid any unwanted mishaps, he headed down the steps.

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

As Soregum approached his Master’s Chamber, the ludicrous sound of singing and whistling reached his ears.

Some things in death are bad,
They can really make you sad,
Other things just make you maim and kill.
When your body turns to gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle,
And this’ll give your dead heart quite a thrill.

And …

Always look on the bright side of death.
Always look on the light side of death.


Rounding the corner, Soregum almost bumped into the three Nazgûl who were the source of the incongruous melody. Waving cheerfully at him as he passed, Brrrobert, Geeeeeorge and Ssssam continued with their song, swaying in unison as they draped their ghostly arms over one another’s shoulders.

If you’re sad your flesh is rotten,
Then there’s something you’ve forgotten,
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
Although you are decayed,
Don’t be bitter wraiths.
Lifeless lips can whistle. That’s the thing.

And …

Always look on the bright side of death.
Always look on the right side of death.

For when you are deceased
Mounted on a fell beast,
You must always face the wraith world with a smile.
Forget about your Ring,
Just flash a deathly grin.
Enjoy your lifeless life in proper style.

And …

Always look on the bright side of death.
As you knock them out with your Black Breath.


Shaking his head sadly at the state of modern minions, Soregum entered his Master’s Office, the last strains of the Nazgûl’s dire ditty fading into the gloom as he shut the door behind him.

Always look on the bright side of death.
Always look on the bright side of death ...


Surveying the dismal chamber, Soregum spotted the familiar shape of his Master sitting, as always, with his back to the door in his plush, black leather, executive armchair. Môgul was facing the great glowing orb of his Satel-antir and gently stroking a small, white, furry creature which combined the least attractive features of a lemming and a hyena and which perched poisonously on his lap, or whatever it was that was serving him as a lap at that moment. Môgul was habitually swathed in a dark mist and so it was as ever difficult to discern his features with any precision, a matter of some relief to Soregum since Môgul had embraced his re-discovered metamorphic potential with zeal and was not averse to assuming some quite grotesque and alarming guises.

“Ah, Soregum. At last. You know Greedhog.” His Master’s Voice rasped within his head in a fashion that would have been comparable to a needle scratching across the face of a gramophone record, had such things existed.

A shadowy arm (or was it a tentacle) gestured in the general direction of the sallow-faced Korprat-Loyer with whom Môgul was currently in conference. Soregum shuddered. He didn’t care much for Loyers.

“We are almost done.” Then, addressing the servile legal adviser, Môgul continued, “So it is accomplished.”

“Yesss Master,” Greedhog hissed obsequiously. “Our agentsss in what is left of the Cssitibank have finalised the loan proposal.”

“And the old fool fell for our little ploy?”

“Oh yesss. Naming our Denturian construction company AAA Aaardvark & Sons worked a treat. As anticipated, the witless Proctor picked out the first name that he came across in the Cel-antir Directory. They are on their way as we ssspeak. Their appointment with the Proctor is at two-thirty. And when the bridgework is done and their outrageously over-sized invoice comes in, he will have no option but to accept the loan that our agentsss have offered him. With Grundor’s finances the way they are, it will only be a matter of time before he defaultsss.”

“Enabling us to call in our fixed charge over the city. Excellent. Minus Teeth will soon be ours.” And with this, Môgul let out his trademark villainous laugh, although its effect was somewhat spoilt by the apparent absence of anything resembling a mouth within his latest incarnation. “You have done well, Greedhog. But leave us now.”

As Greedhog withdrew smugly into the shadows, Môgul waved another indeterminate appendage over the Satel-antir and images immediately appeared within it. Soregum could make out the fair figure of a golden haired Elf shieldmaiden carrying with seemingly inordinate care a simple wooden bow. And there were others too. A warrior with a noble, albeit it somewhat bleary-eyed, countenance, who appeared to be glaring in exasperation at his sword. Another man, with unfeasibly luxuriant flowing hair, who Soregum recognised as the son of the aforementioned witless Proctor. A mysterious figure clad in black-hooded robes with burning red eyes who appeared vaguely familiar to Soregum, although he could not quite place him. A bespectacled fellow with a bad haircut and an outfit to match. A crafty-looking Dwarf sat atop a Dragon who was quite clearly of ancient and imperial lineage. An Elf, or was he a Half-Elf, sporting a silvery-brown hairbow, whose words were apparently causing the company some discomfort. But it was the young maid who particularly piqued Soregum’s interest. Although her lineage was unclear, he nevertheless found her to be to be astonishingly cute and pretty. As he gawped in wonder at her large round blue eyes and long reddish-golden curls, the abyssmally abrasive voice once again shook him from his reverie

“Behold the Gorilla-ship!”

“Er, Gallow-ship, sire,” he ventured.

“Silence!” screeched the toe-curling voice. “They carry fragments of the Ent that was Broken, Soregum. And they will lead us to that which remains.”

“Um. Indeed they will, Oh Mightiest of the Mighty Ones.” Soregum calculated (correctly) that flattery would mask his complete ignorance of whatever it was that his Master was getting at.

“Find the best Goblin Trackers in Mordough and summon them here. I want them on the tail of the Gorilla-ship by this time tomorrow.”

“Gallow-ship, sire.”

“What?”

“Er, yes. Immediately, my Magnificently Malevolent Master. I’m right on it.”

Breathing a sigh of relief, Soregum turned to leave.

“One more thing, Soregum. You will accompany them.”

His heart sank.
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Old 07-30-2003, 09:07 PM   #28
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Shield

Orie, oh!

Your departure from the Citibank has grieved me sorely, so much that I have summoned the famous pain reliever Anbesol, yet I remain steadfast in my conviction that it was the right thing to do to send you away from Minus Toothless. Our Proctorly bark has become much stronger than our bite, and there was no way I could guarantee your safety or that of your uncouth companions. With you gone, I can confidently rebuild the city, with the help of Aardvark & Sons, and soon we will have a city to smile about.

I’m sure you will recognize and greatly appreciate the gift I have sent to you. Singéd is a direct descendent from the Morose of Noodledor, a direct descendent of Fellofftheroof, and he shall serve you well. Treat him with respect and he will prove the most useful of companions.

From the Porcelain Throne,
Orogarn Won, Denimthor, Proctor of Grundor

P.S. I’ve changed our motto again. The ‘do it on the throne’ was widely misinterpreted by the Falwellians. It is now “Join the Proctor and gamble for free !” It’s promoting the new Corsair Casino we’re opening next month in Harlond, thanks to Aardvark ™.



Orogarn Two neatly folded the still-smoking letter from his father and slid it gingerly into his back pocket. It was hard for him to believe that he had actually left the city after such a calamity, and the gift ‘horse’ he walked beside only helped to reinforce the idea that he should not have departed Minus Teeth. Minus Toothless, now, he thought.

The smouldering stallion barely resembled any mount he had ever seen, and by its size it was obviously the smallest Morosa ever to stumble out of a Grundorian stable. There were bigger dogs in the Wight City! Still, the slightly crisped creature would certainly prove useful over the many leagues the Itship would soon travel, and Orogarn Two intended to take advantage of the many interesting items Denimthor had thoughtfully filled the beast’s saddlebags with.


He looked over the too-low back of Singéd to stare at the newcomer. He called himself the Gateskeeper, but he dressed more like the crypt keeper, and that creepy glove reminded Orogarn Two of an oddball character who had often performed at the Old Guesthouse with a troop of young boys. The hissing lisp did not improve his impression of the man, if indeed he was one.

Note to self: Buy a trash bag for Pimpi. That girl is messy!
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Old 07-31-2003, 06:15 AM   #29
Estelyn Telcontar
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Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Silmaril

Merisuwyniel and Pimpiowyn were riding at the head of the Non-Gender-Specific-Ship, two different shades of golden hair flowing in the wind. Their horses cantered in companionable silence, since Falafel was too relieved to be rejoined with her mistress to wish for conversation, and Tweedledee couldn’t speak anyway. Their riders made up for it by talking animatedly.

Pimpi was enjoying the freedom that having her own horse gave her; her appreciation of Vogonwë’s poetry was greater when she didn’t have to listen to it all day. Now she plied her Elven companion with questions about questing.

“You too can be a shieldmaiden!” Merisuwyniel exclaimed. “I will be happy to teach you what I have learned in the course of my past adventures.

“First there is the matter of appearance; this is of essential importance, since it can impress both friend and foe. After that growth spurt you had, you are tall, slender, willowy, reed-like, with legs as long as any maiden could wish. (Tactfully, she did not mention that said legs lacked the gracefulness which was the mark of a true heroine.) Your red-golden hair is beautiful; not quite as exotic as flaming red, perhaps, but that does not matter. The curls are more bouncy than rippling; that too is of no import. Your eyes are impressively large and of such a lovely blue that one forgets how normal and widespread that colour is.

“Next we must consider your heritage. It is very convenient that you are already orphaned, since shieldmaidens should not have to concern themselves with someone at home who worries about them, sends them care packages, needs reassurance about their welfare and expects them to send postcards when they travel. I don’t suppose either of your parents came from a royal family?” she queried.

The Half-Halfling shook her head regretfully.

“Well, never mind; it’s too late to change that,” the Elf replied. “Perhaps we can find some ancestor who won a local Miss contest or appeared on the Jêrri-Spríngion show in your family tree somewhere. At least your name is long enough to sound exotic.

“Now for the items you have with you: have you any magical jewelry?”

“You know that my horsehead exploded when we fought at Minus Moreghoul,” Pimpi shrugged. “The only other jewelry I have is my engagement ring.”

They gazed at the ring which Vogonwë had chosen and presented to her. It was well-made, of good Elven quality, and Merisu’s sharp eyes saw that the stone was clear and pure. However, since Pimpi’s fiancé had a rather drab taste in matters of clothing, the ring was particularly unspectacular. Without speaking, both agreed that it was highly unlikely to have any magical properties.

“How about the necklace Celery gave me in Topfloorien?” the Quarterling asked hopefully.

“Sometimes jewelry is just jewelry,” Merisu mused, “although you never know about something that comes from the Magic Kingdom. I think, though, that he would have told us if it had special qualities, or at least have given us a cryptic clue.

“At any rate, you do have a weapon – that is the most important thing for a shieldmaiden, besides her looks, of course. Do you know anything about the history of your dagger? Does it have a noble and ancient lineage?” enquired the Elven maiden.

“Well, I bought it from Kuruharan – maybe he knows more about it,” Pimpi wondered.

“You could ask him, but I’m not perfectly certain that any story he tells about his merchandise is absolutely trustworthy.” (That was, of course, Merisu’s gentle way of saying, “The guy would lie to you about anything if he sees a chance to make a profit.” )

“I killed an Orc with it and named it afterwards – does it count when I start its history myself?” asked the Half-Halfling anxiously.

“I think that will be just fine,” her companion reassured her. “Besides, it is beautiful with its jewel-encrusted hilt and certainly worth more than a shieldmaiden could normally afford. However, you will need additional training with other weapons. Even though the Entish Bow is all I need, I have learned to handle a sword quite well. The more, the merrier, is the shieldmaiden’s motto. You can practice with the various members of the Itship.

“Let’s see, what else do we need to consider? You now have a horse of your own and no longer have to share a mount with Vogonwë; that’s good.”

Pimpi pouted adorably. “Yes, but isn’t it just like Vogy to choose horses that are so…placid, boring, slow, dull, tedious, hum-drum, dismal… I wish I had a steed that was more lively, fiery, daring, furious…”

“For now, Tweedledee will have to tweedledo,” Merisu interrupted. “We must think about one more important part of your baggage – clothing. Most Elven heroines wear gowns, beautifully made and described in loving detail, for every activity. Those never seem to become soiled or need repairs, though they are often made of the flimsiest fabrics. The maidens apparently even ride in them, though one never hears that they use side-saddles. I find that unrealistic and impractical.

“For this reason, I have chosen to wear divided skirts – they are both feminine and practical, suitable for almost every occasion, so that I can travel with a minimum of baggage. I do have that dreamy dress that I found at Mallorn Mall with me, just in case an opportunity arises to wear it again. Where is yours?” she asked in a whisper. “Do you have it here? I should very much like just to peep at it again.”

“Yes, I’ve got it,” answered Pimpi, feeling a strange reluctance. “It looks just the same as ever it did. I’m afraid it won’t fit me now that I’ve grown, but I couldn’t bear to leave it behind.”

“Well, I should just like to see it for a moment,” said Meri.

Slowly Pimpi drew it out of her saddlebag. Its velvety folds shimmered enticingly and the diaphanous red sleeves fell with nary a crinkle. Merisu put out her hand to touch it.

But Pimpi quickly withdrew the dress from her reach. To her distress and amazement she found that she was no longer looking at Merisuwyniel; a shadow seemed to have fallen between them, and through it she found herself eyeing an emaciated fashion model with a hungry face and bony groping hands. She felt repulsion and a desire to feed her a high-carb, rich dessert.

The beat of the horses’ hooves and the conversation of the riders around them seemed to falter and a silence fell. Merisu looked quickly at Pimpi’s face and passed her hand across her eyes. “I understand now,” she said. “Put it away! I am sorry, but it was meant for you and none other. I’m sure, coming from the Enchanted Woods, it will adjust to fit you perfectly. – Do you have any men’s clothing with you?”

“Of course not,” Pimpi retorted. “Why should I? I’m emancipated, and Vogonwë packs his own baggage.”

“Ah, but there may be need of it for you at some time; every shieldmaiden must be prepared to disguise herself as a male warrior in situations where the men would not allow them to come along. I suppose you can take something from him if it’s necessary. His clothes are rather drab, but for disguises, that is actually desirable.

“Now, last but not least, we must consider your personal abilities. Can you charm all creatures who hear you with your music?”

“I don’t know – Vogy admires my singing…” Pimpiowyn’s voice trailed off.

Merisuwyniel said nothing, but she secretly thought that a poet like the Half-Elf might not necessarily be the best judge of musicality. “How about healing?” she continued, changing the subject diplomatically.

“I tried to learn what I could in the Houses of Bettifordeth,” the Quarterling replied. “Will that be enough?”

“Forget it!” said the Elf with uncharacteristic bluntness. “Any Elven child knows more about healing than those bumbling human medics do. Even without training, my superior instincts will lead me to the right herbs just in the nick of time, and I can inevitably apply them correctly. I will show and tell you all I know about healing.

“One last question: Do you have any supernatural abilities?”

“I don’t think so,” Pimpi answered regretfully. “Unless being able to eat constantly without ever gaining weight would be considered magical?”

[ August 01, 2003: Message edited by: Estelyn Telcontar ]
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Old 07-31-2003, 09:21 AM   #30
Mithadan
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Sting

The Gallowship made camp downwind of the forest of the Woozies sufficiently far away so that they could not hear the Puking-Men's...activities. While the group built a fire (carefully) and scrounged up a meal, Grrralph wandered off in the direction of Chrysophylax, who was casually shaking a tree in search of a Skwerl appetizer.

The dark figure watched the dragon curiously for a moment, then spoke. "So, what's your story?" he asked. The wyrm paused and looked down at Grralph. "What do you mean?" responded Chrysophylax.

Grrralph pointed at Kuruharan, who was rummaging through one of his bags nearby. "You and the Dwarf," he clarified. "What's the story? Dwarves and dragons don't usually...get along very well."

The dragon stepped away from the tree and stretched his wings, before answering. "We have a mutually beneficial relationship," he answered. Grrralph pondered this for a moment before continuing. "What?" he asked cogently.

The dragon issued a puff of smoke impatiently. "I help him out and he helps me out," responded Chrysophylax as he wondered about the rock that their new companion must have lived under before emerging to plague the Gallowship.

If possible, Grralph seemed to brighten. "Ah! I get it. You're his pet!" he exclaimed.

Chrysophylax bristled noticably at Grralph's words, attracting the attention of Kuruharan who headed over with some concern. "I am not a pet!" growled the dragon. "I'm more like his partner."

Grrralph laughed, an odd wheezy sound which had been known to cause goosebumps and psoriasis. "Please," he responded. "I may seem a bit muddled but my lights aren't out entirely. You're an animal, enchanted as you may be, and he's your master. You're a pet!" Kuruharan broke into a waddling run as Chrysophylax reared up and took a swipe at Grrralph with his claws. Grrralph leaped gracefully over the dragon's outstretched foreleg and drew out his morningstar as he landed. Swinging it delicately over his head, he skipped off and broke into song.

"Once you're a pet,
you're a pet
from your first flaming jet
to your last ring of smoke."


The dragon swung around and pursued the cloaked figure, snapping at him with his mighty jaws. Grrralph merely put a hand atop the serpent's snout and flipped over its head as it went past. Kuruharan came up, puffing heavily and tried to grab the wyrm's tail. "Uh, guys..."

Grrralph twirled away and danced off with Chrysophlax following close behind. He leapt into the air as the dragon lunged for him again and tapped the huge head lightly with the morningstar before continuing.

"Once you're a pet,
you're a pet
and you'll never forget
your masters commands."


Chrysophylax let loose a gout of fire which caught the hem of Grrralph's cloak appearing to incinerate it. The cloth hissed, smoked, then went out and its fabric began magically reweaving itself. Kuruharan, who had been chasing the dragon now turned to follow its prey. That fabric's worth a fortune! I've gotta get its secret!

Grrralph waltzed away moving left to right, then reversed course as the wyrm lunged again. After an elegant pirouette, he came to a halt beside the beast, who nearly tied himself in a knot trying to spin and turn at the same time.

You're never alone,
you're a faithful companion.
The furniture's unsafe,
and when company's expected,
you're always petted!

When you're a pet,
you're a pet,
you beg and you get,
a bone for a treat.

When you're a pet, you are a pet!


Grrralph ducked under Chrysophylax's next lunge, slipped between his forelegs and under his belly. The dragon's head attempted to follow which only caused its body to curl upward and flip over onto its back with a crash. Kuruharan narrowly escaped the wipeout by dropping to the ground as an array of dragon body parts swung by over his head.

Merisu looked over from where she sat beside the campfire with a smile. "Look!" she cried. "They're playing! Isn't that cute?"

[ July 31, 2003: Message edited by: Mithadan ]
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Old 08-01-2003, 05:56 PM   #31
Birdland
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Sting

The mighty, sulfurous belch of a Wyvern in a snit echoed throughout the glade - where it reached the ears of a small, middle class suburban gecko wearing too much eye make-up and a cut-off Fubu hoodie.

The gecko started, licked her eyeballs in astonishment, dropped her jaw and squealed “OH…MY…EMUUUU!!”

She immediately tore down from the front rock, scrambling frantically through the cracks and fissures until she arrived at the certain untidy lair, completely lined with posters of various dragons, who were pouting into the camera and standing in slightly suggestive poses. There she threw herself upon a sullen young salamander and began to pummel her on the shoulder.

“Amber! You, like, have to come upstairs to the clearing RIGHT NOW! You are just not going to believe who is up there. OhmyEmuOhmyEmuOhmyEmu!!!!!!”

“Quit, Heather. I’m not going anywhere. I didn‘t eat my shed skin last night, and Mom is like totally freakin‘. She said if I didn‘t eat this mess by the time she got home I’m like, under a rock for a month!”

“AM-BER! Forget about your mom. Do you know who is here? Right now? In our clearing? CHRYSOPHYLAX!!!!!”

“You are such a liar!“

“I AM NOT! HE’S KILLING SOMEONE RIGHT NOW!!!! COME ON!!!!“

“Chrysi? Here? OH-MY-EMUUUUUUUU!”

The adolescent fauna flew to the surface, just in time to catch Chrysophylax do a particularly spectacular back flip and slide across the glen, flames wafting over his amphibious audience. Amber and Heather screamed and jumped, pummeling each other even harder.

“HE FLAMED US! HE FLAMED US! OHHHHHHH CHRYSIIIIIIII!!!!!!!“

“I’m gonna break off my tail and give it to him!”

“No way! Your mom will like kill you!”

“I don’t care! I‘m doing it!”

“I am too!”

And with that the little leaping lizards both broke off their tails and hurled them onto the battleground. At which point they began to cry in a complete ecstasy of Wyrm Worship.

“OHHHHHHHHH, CHRYSIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!!!”
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Old 08-05-2003, 07:19 AM   #32
Kuruharan
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Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Boots

Never in his long life had Chrysophylax been so humiliated. Here he was, a dragon of ancient and imperial lineage, tied up in a knot rolling around on the ground.

"Oooff…oi…" he panted as he struggled to untie himself.

"Wheeeezzeee, hee, hee, hee, hee, hisss, ha, ha," laughed Grrralph. He hadn’t had this much fun since he’d stuffed a Oliphaunt’s trunk into a waffle iron.

Suddenly, there came a noise that froze everyone’s hearts.

"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!"

Grrralph turned around, expecting to see another one of his former business associates. However, there was nobody to be seen. What was there to be seen were two odd looking things, kind of like broken off tails.

"EEEEEeeeeeewwww!!!" went Pimpi.

Chrysophylax continued his struggles on the ground. However, it is not easy for a dragon, even one of ancient and imperial lineage, to untie itself. His struggles caused him to lose his balance and start rolling down the side of the hill. He started flapping desperately to try to arrest his progress. This worked, he was now rolled up on his back with his wings thumping against the ground. The half-suppressed snickering of the Gallowship did nothing to reassemble the paltry remains of his shattered dignity. Suddenly the air was rent by a hideous cry.

"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!"

Kuruharan and Vogonwë cowered down and covered their ears.

"That sound is worse than a Nazgul," remarked Vogonwë.

"It’s about as bad as somebody dragging their fingernails across a blackboard," agreed Kuruharan.

*THUMP* *THUMP* THUMP* went Chrysophylax’s wings against the ground.

"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!" came the cry again.

Merisuwyniel just looked up at the sky and wondered why she couldn’t have a normal Quest like everybody else.

It was about that moment that Chrysophylax decided to succumb to the inevitable and roll down the hill. At least he would be out of sight of the rest of the Gallowship while he untangled himself.

He stopped flapping, teetered precariously for an agonizing moment, and then went rumbling into the bushes with a mighty *CRASH* *THUD!*

Instantly the air was filled with the terrible screams, except this time there were two of them at once, and there was a certain added feverish excitement to them this time.

"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!"

"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!"

This time all the males in the Gallowship winced and covered their ears.

"What is that horrible noise?!!" demanded Earnur.

Suddenly Chrysophylax came surging out of the bracken and sped toward the Gallowship.

"Help, help!" he cried. "They’re after me!! They’re after me!!!"

One quick glance showed the Gallowship that somebody was indeed after Chrysophylax.

Two pubescent amphibians were charging pell-mell at Chrysophylax. "CHRYSIII!!! COME BACK!!!" they shrilled. They ran up to Chrysophylax and started bouncing up and down at his feet.

Kuruharan suddenly ran up to Chrysophylax and started whispering something to the dragon. Chrysophylax eyed the dwarf uneasily. "Go on, say it," said Kuruharan.

Chrysophylax nervously turned to the shrieking teenagers and said, "I am always glad to meet my fans!!! Autographed pictures will be only $15!"

"And that’s not all," interrupted Kuruharan, "we have all sorts of limited edition Chrysophylax memorabilia like mugs, sweatshirts, and key chains."

The fan-creatures were beside themselves with delight. They screamed something about being back in a minute and they both raced off, shrieking at the top of their voices.

"Thank goodness they’re gone," sighed Vogonwë, taking his fingers out of his ears. "Many more of those high-pitched screeches would have shattered my spine!"

"I agree," said Orogarn Two, "let’s get out of here."

"Not so fast," said Chrysophylax, who had suddenly started preening himself. "I have to keep up with my public. The fans have to be satisfied!!"

"Public?!" said Earnur. "Five seconds ago you did not even know that you had a public!"

"*Cough*…sputter…wheeze…," stammered Chrysophylax. "That is entirely beside the point. And as a matter of fact, it puts me in mind of a story about a…"

While Chrysophylax embarked on a longwinded defense of his new celebrity Kuruharan was busily manufacturing souvenirs for the fan-creatures when they returned.

"CHRYSIII!!!" came the warning peel of their arrival, with gobs of money (lifted from their parents.)

In ten minutes Amber and Heather practically beggared their families on hats, mugs, T-shirts, etc. When Chrysophylax reached down and patted them on their heads they both fainted from the excitement (although Earnur and Orogarn Two believed that they fainted from lack of oxygen due to all the screaming.)

With those matters successfully concluded the Gallowship continued on their way.

Chrysophylax was basking in the glow of his sudden fame, forgetful of his recent humiliation at the gauntlets of Grrralph. (Kuruharan was basking in the glow of his new gold pieces.)

Suddenly, a mysterious noise reached the ears of the Gallowship.

*sizzle* *sizzle* *fry* *fry*

"Oh-no, not another mysterious noise," groaned Merisuwyniel. "That plot-device is getting quite repetitive!"

*Sniff* *sniff* went Pimpi. "Mmmmm," she said. "That smells gooooood!!!"

"Indeed it does," said Earnur. "It is nice to be assailed by a pleasant aroma for a change."

"It smells…almost like…bacon…" said Kuruharan.

"That is probably because it is," said Orogarn Two. "We have entered the Bacon Hills. Here the people of Grundor hold great Bacon-Binges in times of distress and calamity. Thanks to the rampage that you people have been on this is probably one of the largest in the history of Grundor!"

"It sounds delightful," said Pimpi. "I…I…I’ll be back in a minute." With that she vanished in the trees.

"Hmm," said Chrysophylax. "Newly minted celebrity does build an appetite." He went off after Pimpi.

"I must attend to make sure that everyone recognizes my status as Hair, I mean Heir, of Grundor, and provide the people with the comfort of my presence," announced Orogarn Two before he dashed off into the woods.

"HELLO?!!" shouted Merisuwyniel. "We are supposed to be on a Quest with the fate of the world bound up in it, yet somehow we keep on getting dragged off into strange sub-plots!!!"

"Hard luck," said Kuruharan as he strolled off in the general direction of the frying.

"Well," said Earnur, "we have to eat sometime. Might as well do it now!"

"WHY CAN"T I HAVE A NORMAL QUEST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE!!!" screamed Merisuwyniel.

[ August 05, 2003: Message edited by: Kuruharan ]
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Old 08-05-2003, 03:45 PM   #33
Mithadan
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Sting

Grrralph, however, walked over and sat on a log at the edge of the camp. He fiddled with his morningstar for a moment, trying to pry a dragon scale from one of its points. When it finally came loose, he tossed the scale over to the two geckos who immediately began fighting over it. Then he stowed his weapon under his cloak.

Merisu glared at him with annoyance. "Well?" she demanded. "Aren't you going too?"

Grrralph looked up at her. If his face was visible, it would have evidenced confusion, assuming that he actually had a face. "Where?" he asked. These one word questions are going to get old very quickly, thought the Elf.

"To the Bacon-Binge, like everyone else," she answered with exasperation. "Aren't you hungry too?"

Grrralph shook his cowl. "Uh, no," he answered. "Not hungry."

Merisu allowed her annoyance at the other members of the Gallowship to seep through a bit. "Fine!" she snapped. "Just sit there!" He nodded his cowl in answer. "Thanks. I will."

The heat of the day, as well as her aggravation had caused her face to turn red. She fanned herself in a vain attempt to abate the heat. Then she looked over to Grrralph and her curiosity overwhelmed her annoyance. "Aren't you hot?" she asked. His burning red eyes did not waver. "I suppose it's rather warm," he responded.

She shook her head at what she viewed as another demonstration of Grrralph's rapidly-becoming-legendary stupidity. "Then why don't you take your cloak off?" she suggested.

His response was unexpected. He tilted his cowl back and emitted one of his rapidly-becoming-legendary (and truly annoying) wails. Then he brought his cowl back down and, to her surprise, steam and a hissing noise came from his burning eyes as they were apparently met by a hidden stream of tears. He wiped at the nothingness that was his face with a sleeve, before speaking.

"I can't!" he cried both figuratively and literally. "My cloak and armor were bound upon me by the spells of my former...employer. I cannot remove them! I wish I could. While they provide me with great physical prowess on the battlefield, they also weigh upon me, numbing my mind. I cannot really recall but before I wore this stuff, I wasn't so..." He paused, searching for the right word.

"Dumb?" suggested Merisu helpfully. "Yes!" he responded as steam again rose from beneath his hood.

"That's rough," observed Merisu. Then they sat together in silence for a moment. The Elf scowled as an obvious question entered her mind. However, her sense of politeness strove with her curiosity for a moment, causing her frown to deepen. Her curiosity won. "Uh, Grrralph," she asked quietly. "If you can't remove your cloak and your armor, then how do you...uh...you know?"

Grrralph shuffled his feet in embarrasment before answering and sighed. "Have you ever seen me eat or drink?" he answered.
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Old 08-06-2003, 12:57 AM   #34
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Silmaril

Vogonwë set off through the woods, following close on Pimpi’s heels. She swung her arms energetically as she walked, and after she socked him in the gut once, he fell back (some would say down) and then resumed following at a safer distance. Soon, the members of the Itship who had chosen to take a detour (that would be, everyone besides Merisu and Grrralph, who had chosen to sulk) emerged from the trees to find a picturesque glade dotted with colorful tents and awnings. The smell of frying bacon lay thick upon the air, and Pimpi nearly fainted from a sudden surge of ecstasy. But she kept her wits about her, and ran to a nearby stand.

“Bacon!!! Baconbaconbacon!!!” she cried.

“No,” replied the cook doggedly, “it’s Beggin’ Strips. Dogs don’t know it’s not bacon!”

“Are you calling the love of my life a dog?” Vogonwë leapt to her defense with a snarl.

The cook shook his head, “No indeed!” he said, and then grinned at the lithe half-halfing with a wolfish gleam in his eyes. “Rrrow!”

“Hey! Keep your eyeballs to yourself!” Vogonwë put an arm around Pimpi’s shoulders and glowered at the cook, his hackles raised.

“Oh, Voggy, don’t fight,” Pimpi said with astounding insincerity, exacerbating the situation by surreptitiously batting her eyelashes at the cook. “Could I try a Beggin’ Strip?” she inquired.

“Oh… well, it’s really more of a dog treat… but you can strip my beggin’ any time,” the cook replied.

“You mangy mutt!” Vogonwë screamed. “How dare you—”

“Who is this nutcase?” the cook asked Pimpi. “And what’s a girl like you doing with a flake like him?”

“I am not a flake! I’m half-elven!” Vogonwë snapped.

“Ah… I see.” The cook turned back to Pimpi and leered suggestively, “Hey, cutie, how would you like to cook something up with a real man for a change?”

Vogonwë barred his teeth, and began to growl in a low and menacing tone (which is basically what a growl would sound like, wouldn’t it?)

For a fleeting moment, the cook wondered if Vogonwë had had his shots, but in the next instant his attention was diverted by a splatter of hot bacon grease being flung in his face. Vogonwë had seized a frying pan and emptied its contents upon the mug of the cook. Sizzling Beggin’ Strips clung to his face, in a fashion rather reminiscent of burning leeches.

“AAAAAAHHHHHH!” he screamed, clawing at his eyes in agony.

“VOGGY!” cried Pimpi in rebuke, though her big blue eyes shone with thinly veiled delight.

The cook’s skin bubbled and peeled apart in a grotesque fashion as the grease soaked into his pores, and he continued to scream melodramatically, until Vogonwë put him out of his misery by conking him over the noggin with the underside of the frying pan. He fell to the floor kind of like a tree in a forest, the main difference being that there were a lot of people around to hear him.

“Bloody ‘ell!” a bystander exclaimed, “just wot d’you think yer doin’, mate?”

“Huh? What kind of accent is that?” Pimpi wondered.

“Indefinite. And I think we should move on,” Vogonwë said, noticing the rabid looks they were getting from the friends of the inert cook.

“Wait just a minute, there, buddy,” a man said threateningly, seizing Vogonwë’s shoulder. “You’re a stranger in these here parts, and we don’t take kindly to strangers waltzing in and bopping our field mice, I mean, fry cooks, on the head!”

“Don’t touch me, I’m an Elf!” Vogonwë said, jerking away and whipping an arrow from his quiver.

“Half,” Pimpi added helpfully.

“If you’re looking for a fight, you’ve come to the right stand!” said a burly looking specimen of hurly manliness. He cracked his knuckles and took a step forward.

Other similar specimens began to close in, slowly but surely, glowering in a most unsettling fashion. Vogonwë was aware that, encircled at such a close range, his arrows would not do much good, so he tried a different approach. “Have any of you heard the Lay of Bakh-tôn-Gréasé? And, if not, would you like to?”

“First things first,” a man with beady, close-set eyes sneered, slapping his right fist against his left palm. “In a moment you’ll be reciting out your—”

“As soon as you’re finished, can we get something eat?” Pimpi interrupted, from where she stood outside the ring of threatening thugs. “The smell of bacon is driving me crazy.”

“No, darling—I think it would be better to get help at this moment!” Vogonwë replied, assuming a defensive stance (slouching sulkily with his hands in his pockets—you know, you’ve seen teenagers).

“Oh, okay,” Pimpi said. “Be right back.”

She turned and ran off to find their comrades in Shipping, which was not hard, since Chrysophylax stood out from the crowd rather nicely over by the stand where he stood. “Guys! Come quick! Vogonwë’s in trouble!” Pimpi cried when she reached her destination.

“Did he fall down a well?” Earnur inquired around a mouthful of Beer Battered Bacon.

“No! He started a fight with a bunch of disgruntled Grundorians, and I fear they will beat him into a bloody pulp and then mince him into bacon and eat him!” Pimpi replied fretfully.

“Why, that’s ridiculous,” Orogarn Two scoffed, “Grundorians are civilized people: we do not mince bacon, we slice it!”

“He’s vastly outnumbered,” Pimpi whimpered. “And it’s all my fault! He was fighting to protect my honor, so if he gets hurt I’ll never forgive myself! Oh, it’s just so hard to be pretty!”

“Oh, I know what you mean!” Kuruharan sympathized. “Once, back home, a dozen Dwarf-women got into a brawl over who got to comb my beard! It was a whale of a fight, but after a while all those breaking bones and cleaving heads for my sake got to be embarrassing to watch, and in the end I just snuck away and combed my own beard!”

Chrysophylax snorted derisively.

“Won’t you come help?” Pimpi asked impatiently.

Earnur swallowed his food down manfully, and grasped the hilt of his noble sword. “Lead on to the fray!” he declared, “Let it not be said that Master Brownbark fought alone whilst the only living admirer of his poetry was in the vicinity!”

“I’m bored,” Chrysophylax burped, “so why not?”

“If anyone dies, I can pick their pockets…” Kuruharan mused. “Okay!”

“I’m not in the habit of fighting my own people, it’s unseemly!” Orogarn Two protested. “But I will see if I can mediate a cessation of hostilities—after all, I am the son of Orogarn One, son of—”

“Has it occurred to any of you, that in the time it has taken to have this conversation, the little maid’s young man could be getting beaten up quite badly?” the Gateskeeper spoke up.

“Right!” Pimpi said, “let’s go! Only, he’s a Half-Elf, not a young man!”

They got their act together and hastened (or something like it) over to where Vogonwë was staving off his attackers with a heretofore unknown (and non-canonical) talent for the martial arts. The Grundorians came at him in waves, but he met each one with karate kicks, jujitsu blows, and judo throws. Still, they came, one after the other, like ants to poison, and still, he battled them tirelessly. Okay, he was getting tired, but there wasn’t much else to do while waiting for Pimpi to arrive with backup. His limbs moved in a flurry of frenzied maneuvers, but the Grundorians came at him with cold, impassioned determination, like killing machines (only they weren’t doing any killing, oddly enough).

“By the Pants of Denimthor, Proctor of Grundor, I order you to cease this disturbance!” Orogarn Two ordered.

He was ignored.

He tried again: “By the power invested in my by my father, I now pronounce you in violation of Statute #8,313: staging a brawl without a license! Cease and desist or I will fine your pants off!”

“It’s not working!” Pimpi whined. “Let’s just attack them. I have a dagger and I know how to use it! …Sort of.”

“Right-ho,” Earnur agreed, brandishing his sword manfully. “Griper will have them groping for their severed limbs in no time!”

Oh, I will, will I? I object to being associated with this ridiculous contest of stupidity in any way, shape, or form!

Meanwhile, Kuruharan had already set to work hewing down a few of the feckless foes. “Two gold pieces, Master Elf!” he cried to Vogonwë as he emptied the pockets of a now headless horseman (his horse wasn’t with him, but there was one somewhere, I’m sure).

Eventually, the fight was joined by all, even Orogarn Two, who wielded his sword in one hand while writing out citations with the other. Earnur sliced and diced and parried very manfully (of course), all the while ignoring the gripes of his sword as best he could, though as he fought his mind did ring annoyingly with complaints:

Oh, this is so degrading! Ack, I’m all covered in blood! Oh, Emu, I’ll bet that guy never bathed in his life! You stab like a girl! I don’t even care about the ‘honor’ of that silly chit of a half-hobbit! I want to go back in my sheath!

Pimpi darted in and out of the fray, squeezing her eyes shut and jabbing her dagger out in front of her, in hopes of stabbing someone. She nicked Kuruharan a couple times, but otherwise luckily limited all fatal plunges to the faceless, nameless, mass of inexplicably hostile Grundorians. Chrysophylax trotted around the perimeter of the fight, whacking people with his tail, and every now and then pausing to seize people with his jaws and snap them in two (then tossing them over his shoulder, for he wasn’t really into eating people).

The Gateskeeper stood a little ways off and pointed at them, laughing. He did not join in on the killing spree, and indeed had no plans to involve himself in the general fracashness at all, but the mood was so infectious that he did take a moment to pilfer a pecan pie and plunge it in the face of a passerby. His victim fought back with a lemon meringue, he parried with a pumpkin, was met with a key lime, and then triumphed with the dread coconut cream. Chrysophylax noticed the comestible contest, and bellowed gleefully:

“FOOD FIGHT!!!”

And lo! the tide of the battle turned. Gradually, people lowered their fists and weapons in favor of seizing whatever edible items were near, and flung them into the faces of their adversaries. 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 were just a few of the foods flying through the air. Pretty soon, everyone in the glade was fighting with everyone else, regardless of friend or foe. Basically, the idea was that if it moved, you hit it with food, which explains why Vogonwë smeared a glop of asparagus purée in Pimpi’s face, Earnur slung a scoop of hot fudge into Orogarn Two’s hair, and Kuruharan hit Chrysophylax between the eyes with a yam.

This was how Merisu found them when she entered the clearing.
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Old 08-06-2003, 07:29 AM   #35
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Silmaril

To say that Merisuwyniel "found" them is a bit deceiving perhaps and calls for some explanation. After waiting for the others to come back for such a long time that even her angelic Elven patience was exhausted, she decided to go look for them. Having reassured herself that Grrralph appeared to have composed himself (there were no longer any traces of steam emitting from under his hood), she followed the direction that the other members of the group had taken.

Though her Elven perception would have sufficed to make her an outstanding tracker, she needed none of her skills to find their trail. Pimpiowyn always followed the example of faerie tale children, making sure that crumbs marked her path. Yet even those were not necessary; the Elven maiden needed only to pursue the swathe of destruction caused by Chrysophylax’ passage to reach the clearing.

Unfortunately for her always impeccable appearance, reaching the clearing was only possible by moving. And what moved, was hit by…

“Ouch!” cried Merisuwyniel as a Rice Krispie bar hit her noble forehead. She reached a slender yet strong hand up to remove it, as it had remained there due to the rather gooey state of its consistency. This resulted in sticky fingers; since she had left her saddle-bags with the pocket handkerchiefs behind, she attempted to lick her fingertips clean.

This tastes delicious! she thought, and somehow familiar. A mental image of the dark tower of Minus Moreghoul arose unbidden, though she knew not why at the moment. Her eyes clouded with tears as she recalled her deceased love Gravlox – or rather, they would have clouded with tears if they hadn’t already been clouded with a generous helping of mousse au chocolat.

This was fortuitous, because it prevented the shock of seeing what was happening to her usually immaculate clothing. The wine red divided skirt (feminine yet practical) was dotted with applesauce, bacon grease, croutons and fried potatoes, whilst a pattern of creamed corn, salad greens and mushroom sauce adorned the matching blouse with its ruffles (feminine, yet quite impractical!).

And her hair – alas for the long golden locks of Merisuwyniel! Pink chewing gum was vying with peanut butter for the complete supremacy over them. Would this be the end of the most beauteous heroine of this tale? Would she have to cut off her hair, put on dark robes and spend the rest of her days in a nunnery? Would she eat all of the food clinging to her person and then have to walk to Rivendell to work it off again?

Fear not, o gentle reader, for this is a tale such as those told in the land of Fannë-Fíktiûnne. There, good must triumph, beauty must rule, and all ends must be happy. So it came about that when she withdrew from the fracas of the fray, her hand reached by chance into her pocket, there finding a phial of a miraculous cleansing substance that, applied to her hair, caused her to breathe so ecstatically and shout out in such triumphant ecstasy that all who heard stood still and indeed, wished to have a part in such an exciting ritual. She applied the elixir to her clothing, face and hands as well, and before long she was ready to face the devastating scene of the most unusual battle she had ever witnessed – well, not actually witnessed, but you know what I mean…

[ August 08, 2003: Message edited by: Estelyn Telcontar ]
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Old 08-06-2003, 02:35 PM   #36
The Squatter of Amon Rûdh
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Sting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Last edited by The Squatter of Amon Rûdh; 06-28-2004 at 09:21 AM.
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Old 08-06-2003, 09:09 PM   #37
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Sting

“Food fighhhhhhhhhhhhhhtttttttttttt….”

The ancient war cry echoed from the Bacon Hills, rolled uphill along the Ecru Mountains, faded out when it entered a tunnel around the East Emmet Parkway, but was picked up again on the other side, and eventually made its way to the incredibly huge, messy, overgrown, bug-infested, termite-riddled, weed-choked, pockmarked, blighted, seen-better-days Forest of Canned Corn. All-in-all Canned Corn was as good an argument for clear cutting as most folks had ever seen, but all the creatures, great and small, that dwelt there liked its low-maintenance charms and were proud to call it home.

The cry eventually wafted into the one garden spot in all of Canned Corn, the Niblet Grove. And once again shadowy forms dancing through the trees of the Niblet lifted their heads in alarm and anticipation:

“That nasty man is fighting again, Preciousssss,“

“That bad, bad man, Snookums!”

“He hurts all those poor, poor fried food vendors, Sweetums!.”

“And he eats bacon with his fingers, Puff!”

“C’mon, let’s go tell the Old, Wise One that he’s coming!”

And with that the entire band of ghostly forms leapt and pranced through the treetops until they came to the very center of the Niblet. There they stood at the top of a high hill, where one ancient, twisted, gnarly punky, mold-covered, infested tree lifted whatever limbs it had left to the sky.

Dancing in a circle and lifting their own pudgy, yet graceful limbs in supplication, the mysterious creatures intoned their age-old Awakening Call:

Hi there, Mr. Tree.
We’re very glad to see you.
Wake up Mr. Tree!
It’s daytime can’t you seeeeeee


(Author’s note - To any of our fellow Downers reading this who also grew up in 1960’s Columbus, Ohio: I have just given you a major blast from the past. Enjoy!)
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Old 08-08-2003, 02:32 PM   #38
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Sting

The paper came last to the hand of Gateskeeper, who though he could speak fluent troll yet trembled with fear as the others -- they feared the unknown, but Gateskeeper knew trolls all too well. Slow, stupid creatures, actively avoiding education of any kind. Their language was harsh and wild, gutteral in sound and uncouth both in grammar and manners. What they detested more than anything was seeing people enjoying themselves. Their greatest weapon, apart from the sheer insult of their language itself, was involving people in pointless arguments -- arguments which could prove fatal by the sheer frustration of trying to reason with ultimately unreasoning creatures.

He quickly translated the paper for the It-ship, who responded with yet more silence. All except Merisuwyniel. "I care about lame elves!! I treated lots of them back in Minus Teeth!!" she cried, spitting fragments of bacon and other foodstuffs in a manner worthy of Pimpiowyn.

There was only one way to render trolls powerless, and Gateskeeper knew it. (Well, there are two ways, but no one in the It-ship had the uber-magical symbol of '@' prefixing their names, so the other way was a non-starter.) No more grievous wound can be dealt to a troll than to continue having a good time in spite of their ridiculous assertions, specious arguments, and insinuations about your intelligence and ancestry.

Gateskeeper had his doubts that he could keep the various members of the It-ship from trying to engage the nefarious beast, or whether he should even try. After all, he thought to himself, if the trolls defeated the rest of the It-ship, the bow would be his for the taking, and he could circuit back to the Pea Sea and chip away at the Eunuchs until they were disconnected. Even as the thought crossed his mind, though, the burn mark of the Cloz'd-Dheal seared his hand anew, reminding him of his commitment to Mogul. He had to at least try.

No sooner had Gateskeeper come to this conclusion than the troll broke thru the trees partway down the Bacon Hill upon which they were standing. He was unnaturally tall and gaunt, wearing glasses with thick black rims and even thicker lenses. With a pasty white face of stony leather pockmarked with what appeared to be small volcanos, he strode up the hill bellowing his challenge, "I kn take U al, U elf luvn lamerz, I ROOL!"

At once Earnur and Orogarn had their swords out and began to advance (Earnur's sword complaining at levels that were nearly audible to the rest of the group). Gateskeeper leapt in front of them screaming, "You don't understand! Swords are no use here!" Earnur and Orogarn, responding in true hero fashion completely ignored Gateskeeper and ran around him to confront the beast. Vogonwe prepared to write down his versical impressions of the conflict from a safe distance, just in case the situation required a contest in poetry of power. Even Merisu nocked an arrow to the bowstring of the Entish Bow and advanced warily.

The fell troll wasted no time beginning to work the Gal-N-Fellowship. No weapon did he need, save the evil workings of his words. "Y dont U giv it up, U dum dwarfs. U kan't touch my 1337 5|<i11s! Go bak hom cryin 2 yer momz, lol! Ur mothr wuz a hamstr, nd ur fathr smelt of eldrberryz!" All the members of the It-ship stopped. No one had dared insult them in this fashion before.

[ August 17, 2003: Message edited by: Thenamir ]
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Old 08-17-2003, 02:31 PM   #39
Diamond18
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Silmaril

“Ai!” Vogonwë exclaimed, his voice squeaking in an almost adolescent fashion as he beheld the bespectacled spectacle before them. Squeaking pipes at any age is embarrassing in an Elf, and mortifying if one is 300, and so Vogonwë suffered a moment of deeply debilitating personal shame.

Pimpi stopped dead in her tracks, and the hand which clutched Hush wavered. Her blue eyes widened, then narrowed, and her knuckles whitened around the handle of the dagger. “How dare you insult my dearly departed parents thus," she retorted. "My mother was not a hamster, she was a Hobbit. And my father was a Valiant Man of the Mike, he smelt like the flanks of his horse.”

“Yeah!” Vogonwë recovered. “How dare you insult my darling’s dead dad? Also, my own father doesn’t smell like elderberries, either, he smells like alcohol and ripe cheese. And my mother was a Chip—”

The Troll interrupted him with a vile spew of speech, which involved asterisks, and must be delicately translated due to the PG-13 nature of these documents. Since asterisks are annoying, the anonymous scribe who is painstakingly recording these events onto parchment with a quill pen and the finest India Ink, has opted to simply delete every other word. “Off!!!!! ur all psers nd u shud b violently beatn 2 deth!!!!111!”

“As opposed to gently beaten to death?” Merisu queried, knitting her alabaster brow in puzzlement.

The Troll made a reply, and the scribe, following the aforementioned translation strategy, has left us with ”.”

Earnur and Orogarn Two faltered in the face of such terrible language, and Earnur’s sword told him, calmly, I hate you, you know. For mysterious reasons, they were not able to move their limbs any further, and stood rooted to their spots, swords down, feeling the uncontrollable urge to argue against the Troll’s point, if only they could figure out what his point was. Grralph began to silently weep from under his hood, and if he had any magical @biliities with which to battle the Troll, he was too distraught by the presence of the food clinging to the people around him to remember them.

Kuruharan chewed on his beard and tried, desperately, to think of something this ogre would be interested in buying. But he could think of nothing that brought Trolls joy, besides perhaps a small plastic imitation anatomical part that belched and swore when you walked past it, but he had sold that to a drunken Uruk last month.

”U r lame nd i rawk bcuz im coolr thn u///” the Troll insisted insipidly.

“This is ridiculous,” Pimpi snapped. “Vogonwë, do something.”

“Ah! You just made me forget the word I was going to use… was it putrid or confuséd? Or—”

“Can none of us rise to meet this challenge?” Merisuwyniel asked helplessly, and the Bow vibrated ominously.

“There is only one among us whose words can match the devastating effect of Troll language,” Earnur proclaimed sagely. “Vogonwë, you must recite a poem.”

“But why—”

“Yours is not to question why, only to do or die,” Orogarn Two spoke an erstwhile motto of the Grundorians.

“Well, all right then, since you wish it of me,” it did not take much prodding to convince Vogonwë to versify for them.

“Not to us, to the Troll,” Merisu pointed.

“Oh. Quite:

It is my delight to recite, this night,
The Tale of the Finite Sprite Fight,
Wherein Dwight the Mite, a Parasite,
Snow White the Slight, did bite.


Earnur felt dizzy, and suddenly very thirsty, Orogarn Two’s hair curled, and Merisu’s brow knit and pearled. But the Troll stood fast. Does the scribe have to laboriously scratch out the worthless stuff, or can you just imagine?

The blackbird was assured that the password
Would save him from being massacred,
But it went unheard,
Which was absurd,
So that is what occurred.
WORD!


“Uuuuh…” Kuruharan fell to the ground with a thud.

The Troll sneered, and said, “Iz tht al u got?”

Vogonwë dug in and proclaimed majestically:

To be sleepy
In a teepee,
Is creepy,
And can make you feel weepy!


Merisu retreated to a Happy Place, and Pimpi longed for the days before Lopitoff had exploded, when she had found slight respite from the kind of esoteric magical vibes that one can only get from dead, gold-encrusted horseflesh. The Troll laughed long and raucously, and the sound was like unto that of an epileptic pterodactyl.

Vogonwë’s expression turned fey, and he bellowed as much as one with Elven blood can bellow:

I know some butterflies with pretty eyes,
Which hypnotize and paralyze lots of guys,
Who are spies and wear a guise of being wise,
And like to sing lullabies to fireflies,
And chastise those who have large thighs,
But wear tight Levi’s;
Who in turn do them despise and ostracize,
And finally,
Victimize!


And lo! the Troll began to weep.

“No…” The Gateskeeper moaned, unplugging his ears. “Don’t make it mad…”

But Vogonwë was well warmed up by now, and he paid the gloved man no heed:

It is a crime not to rhyme,
If you’ve got the time to mountain climb,
And if you want to pantomime
While eating lime in grime and slime,
And I know these poems of mine
Aren’t worth a dime,
But writing them was sublime,
And she’s in love with me and I feel fiiiiiine!


“U make me soooooooo mad!!!!!” the Troll bawled.

“By the Loyers, this is the end,” the Gateskeeper swore deeply. “He’s going to start a—”

“FLAME WAR!!!!!!” the Troll screamed.

“Uh-oh,” Vogonwë stated eloquently.

Then, something unexpected happened. Chrysophylax came waddling back from a foraging foray, observed the gangly Troll and harkened unto his proclamation, then shrugged and belched out a great ball of fire in the general direction of the nuisance. The Troll’s greasy hair lit up like a firecracker, his glasses melted onto his face, his volcanoes erupted, and he screamed in one last dying spasm of bad taste, “Fry mah hide!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“So, he was a Redneck Troll,” Kuruharan remarked darkly from his spot on the ground, for among the Ugly Peoples of Muddled Mirth, Redneck Trolls are the most feared, especially the ones who play banjoes.

Chrysophylax ambled up to his victim and digested him in a cacophony of crunching, regretted it, and then promptly darted off to the bushes to retch violently.

Earnur’s sword could be heard muttering something about the whole episode exhibiting a deplorable lack of class.

[ August 17, 2003: Message edited by: Diamond18 ]
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Old 08-18-2003, 01:56 PM   #40
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Sting

The Redneck Troll having been duly dispatched, the Gallowship, being exhausted by the soon-to-be legendary Battle of Bacon-Binge (and the subsequent orgiastic eating-binge), returned to its camp. Another day had passed, bringing the total time that the dedicated group had been wandering aimlessly to eight days. Perhaps the dawn would bring with it purpose and a worthy destination. Or perhaps dawn would only bring sun in the morning, with clouds and a 30% chance of rain during the afternoon (winds north, northwest at 10 knots)*.

Stars shone on this moonless evening as the members of the Gallowship snored, whistled, wheezed and muttered their way through a night's sleep. But something else shone as well. Two red lights, close together as if they were beady little eyes of...red light, shone at the edge of the campsite. Grrralph sat on a log unnoticed, while the others lay slumbering.

His eyes (burning red) swept the countryside as he pretended to keep watch. No one had asked him to do so and there seemed no need for such caution, so he pretended in an effort to amuse himself. Boredom soon set in, and he drew a pale dagger and began drawing designs in the dirt. However, he soon discovered that it was too dark for him to see what he was doing so he put the knife away with a sigh. He rose and tiptoed away from the camp as quietly as he could out of consideration for his companions.

Looking up at the stars, he began swaying from side to side, as if he were striving against some force within him that was urging him to act. The urge grew stronger and stronger. He raised his hands in an attempt to cover his mouth, but failed because he, as usual, could not find his lips. Bowing his head in defeat, he began to sing.

Midnight,
and the Gallowship's sleeping,
and Grrralph is creeping,
because Thingwraiths don't sleep.
There's no moon,
but there's stars up above him,
from the birds there's not even a peep.


A worn boot flew through the air, striking Grrralph in the back. "Shaddup, whazamattawityouyaidjit" hissed a voice from the campsite. Must be that Gatekeeper character, thought Grrralph, admiring the skillful use of Troll-speak.

So, with another sigh, he wandered away from the camp until he reached a small hill. He climbed the slope and found a burned out hut at the top. Peeking inside, he found that the hut had been tastefully decorated with a skeleton and a variety of bones. Then, harkening to some keen inner sense, or perhaps it was the rushing of wings and the cry of a leathery prehistoric beast that attracted his attention, he backed out from the hut and looked up as a Nazcool dropped from the sky.

"Geeeeeorge!" cried Grrralph. "How've you been?"

"Pretty good, pretty good," answered Geeeeeorge. "I heard that you ran into Brrrobert so I thought I'd look you up. How you fixed for work Grrralph?"

"I've got an informal gig, right now," he answered. "Doesn't pay much, but the people are alright. You?"

"I'm working with Brrrobert and Ssssam," answered Geeeeeorge. "Doing some general mayhem and search and destroy for a real up and comer over Mordough way. You should join us! The pay's alright."

Grrralph hesitated before responding reluctantly. "I'm kind of committed right now. I might finally get those medical benefits I've been looking for."

"Your call," answered Geeeeeorge. "If you change your mind, you know where to find me. You were really coming along when everything fell apart last time. Imagine! Getting you in exchange for three Elves and a minor leaguer to be named later! You made us into a contender! Too bad it didn't work out."

Grrralph nodded as Geeeeeorge mounted his Nazcool steed. "You working with those Trolls down there?" Geeeeeorge asked. "They're sure going somewhere in a hurry! CYA as they say."

Grrralph looked down the hill at the horde of Trolls as the Nazcool took off. He ran back toward the camp as fast as his long legs would carry him. Oh man! There go my benefits! he thought as he went to the rescue of the Gallowship...

*This Muddled-Mirth weather forecast brought to you by your friends at Weathertop.com, where we're partly right some of the time.

[ August 18, 2003: Message edited by: Mithadan ]
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