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Old 03-30-2004, 04:50 PM   #161
Estelyn Telcontar
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Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Merisu took a deep breath before walking out. Her companions gathered around her, half encouraging her and half despairing that even she could save them all.

“Is there any hope?” Vogonwë asked anxiously.

“There never was much hope,” she replied, “only a fool’s hope. It may be that we are doomed. But I am glad you are all here with me. Here at the end of all things.”

On that cheerful note, she strode onto the stage. Soregum, Leninia and all of the wightish spirits in the hall were hushed to absolute silence. Merisuwyniel, offspring of the line of Royal Elves, had chosen to don the blue gown encrusted with starry gems, bought in the hallowed boutiques of Topfloorien. Her feet, shod with Manwëolos most astonishingly high-heeled creations, stepped forward with nary a wobble. Her golden hair glowed with a celestial light, while the rosy tips of her delicately pointed ears peeked out from amongst the locks. The sparkle of her violet eyes shone like stars reflected in deep pools.

Soft music which had no visible source began to sound; she opened her deliciously curved lips and sang in clear, melodic tones.

May it be an Entish Bow
Should chance to cross your way;
May it be adventure calls,
What will your heart say?
You walk a questing road;
Oh! How far you are from home.

Mourn, ye great, your tools are useless;
Believe that She will find a way.
The Bow shall be at last united,
A promise I give you today.


Before the listeners’ minds’ eyes, there appeared as if it were a list of names, scrolling in an ever-changing pattern. Past companions of the Fellow/Galship, major characters in the quest, and chance passers-by were made visible once more. Then the music changed, and so did the voice that fascinated its hearers. It grew somewhat rougher, filled with raw emotion.

Where once was Ent
Now pieces fall
Where once was life
Life is no more
Don’t say – goodbye
Don’t say – we didn’t try

These arrows fly
To falling orcs
We don’t know why
They’re on our tracks

And we will ride
On to the end
We’re not lost
But we never reach home.


A tear dropped from Soregum’s eye, and Leninia blew her nose surreptitiously. The strings of the Entish Guitar vibrated in sympathy, and a collective sigh from the assembled spirits wafted through the hall. The Song-and-Danceship listened breathlessly and began to smile again. Then the accompaniment changed once more as Merisu continued her song.

Lay down your sweet and weary head
Night is falling, you have come to quester’s end
Sleep now, dream – of the ones you left behind
I am calling, desiring you to find.

Why do I weep?
What are these tears upon my face?
Will I soon see
All my sorrows pass away?

Will you be here in my arms
Just sleeping?



“About whom is she singing?” Vogonwë whispered backstage, since he always listened to the lyrics of other people’s poetry very closely to get ideas.

“About Gravlox, of course – how sad, how romantic!” Pimpiowyn sighed, leaning her head against the Half-Elf’s shoulder.

“I think she means Halfullion – after all, he was a real hero, her first love, and died on this quest too,” Orogarn Two protested.

“No, she means her deceased mother Vinaigrettiel,” corrected Etceteron.

“Is it ‘Dead Mothers’ Month again already?” Pimpi exclaimed. “I haven’t heard from mine yet!”

“Ouch!” cried Kuruharan, for a steaming tear had fallen onto his hand from Chrysophylax’ eye.

Gateskeeper had removed his spectacles and was wiping them dry.

“Shhhhhhhhhtt!” hissed Grrralph, “I can’t hear the singing!”


What can you see on the horizon?
Why does green goddess call?
Across the sea new hope arises,
The ships will come to carry us home.

And pieces turn to solid Ent,
New leaves on the branches,
Questers went
Into the West.



Breathless, reverent silence hung over the audience. Soregum found himself wishing that he had a golden statuette to give to the singer in reward for her performance. Leninia’s eyes were too blurred to hypnotize him even if she had tried. Then the applause began – the wightish ghosts clapped, whistled and stomped their feet in a frenzy of enthusiasm. The juror rose and attempted to quiet them in order to speak, but alas! by the time they had calmed down, the hostess of the song competition had recovered her poise. Just as Soregum spoke, “This song receives twel-” she fixed her gaze upon him. He wilted visibly and attempted to speak again. “Te-”, but Leninia stood directly before him, obstructing his gaze to the stage. Finally he mumbled, “Two points.”

Shocked, stunned silence greeted the score. “It’s not possible!” came a wail from backstage.

“You heard the judge!” spoke Leninia triumphantly. “It looks like the Questship is finished with its contributions, having earned a total of eight points. Now it’s my turn!”
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Old 03-31-2004, 09:00 PM   #162
Lush
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"Mother, is this it?" The Entish Guitar whispered to its mistress a few minutes later backstage.

"No," Leninia replied in an unusually calm manner, brushing her long black wistfully. "Strangely enough, I am about to lose."

"Er, what?" The Entish Guitar asked with inredulity.

"Good heavens! Do you take me for a third-rate goblin? Don't pretend that I can't count! I can. The numbers won't add up and I know it." Leninia momentarily slipped into her usual, i.e. irritable, manner of speech.

"Mother, doesn't this mean they're finally taking me away?!" The Entish Guitar yelped.

"Aw, honee," Leninia patted her priso...er, friend. "Just think of the whole nude [Leninia cast a brief glance in the direction of Earnur through the crack in the curtains; Poor Earnur, meanwhile, became confused as to the nature of the weird shivers running up his arms], er, new world out there."

"But Linnie!!!" The Entish Guitar screeched. "You never lose!!! You're seriously messing with my worldview!!! I'm going to need therapy for life!!!"

"First of all, don't call me Linnie," Leninia snapped. "Daddy used to call me that, and I hated it."

"The great evil wizard Rasta-Bust of the Dread-Lox of Doom used to call you Linnie?!" The Entish Guitar was shocked.

"And Ninnie, and Lili, and Nili, and..." Leninia furrowed her brow. "And, look, he wasn't all that great and evil anyway. He just had a good publicist. The only useful thing he taught me was recipe for magic tea. Half the time he was perfectly content to sit around, have conversations with his canaries, and giggle. Why do you think I erased that walking embarrasment from my birth certificate?

"And the Dread-Lox?" The Entish Guitar asked in a confused little voice.

"Fell victim to middle age," Leninia said, just as the crowd's growing unrest outside signaled her turn to take the stage.

"Am I coming with you?" The Entish Guitar asked. "Because, I mean, and this is going to sound really weird and uncharacteristic of me, but I sort of want to, for the first time ever, and, I guess, the last time ever, even though I still maintain that you're an evil, soul-sucking wench, and, um, I really hate you, it's been fun anyway, and, um..."

"Aw darling," Leninia leaned over, her soft hair tickling the Entish Guitar momentarily before she straightened up again. "Shut up, please. Time for me to face the music, hardy har har."

"I would have followed you 'till the end!" The Entish Guitar whispered grandly, as heart-breaking music swelled in the background. "Into the very essence of second-place obscurity! You're evil and soul-sucking, but your hair is so much better-looking than that Elf Chick!" Here the Entigh Guitar went on a lengthy tangent about the societal implications of dark-haired villians in ancient folklore.

Leninia, however, was no longer listening. She was facing her audience.

Dressed impeccably in green Fërrãgæmô, little Leninia observed the crowded auditorium. The Wights were hooting and clapping, and the dragon belched a fiery welcome to the tiny figure on the stage.

(Do be do be do do do aaaa
Do be do be do do do aaa
)

Ghostly voices chanted in the background, as Leninia began to sing:

I used to be a loser in my high-school days
I used to feel awkward and so silly all the time.
My pimples bloomed for all to see,
Oh, but now
I don't find myself so bitter now
Even though I'm creepy as can be

No more I curse you's
The Guitar is leaving me
No more I maim you's
Changes are banging
On my door.


(But are you still a monster? The ghostly voices piped up)

I entertained bad boys in my room at night
Designed, executed, designed,
So many shady deals

Oh, but noooow
I don't find myself enthralled by them at all
I don't even return their calls

No more I kill you's
The Guitar is leaving me,
No more I take your souls,
The Guitar is leaving me in silence,
No more I bust you up real good, boy,
Changes are banging on my door...


(Do be do be do do do aaa
Do be do be do do do aaa
)

On my front door...

Whether entranced by the unexpected song or utterly frozen by the over-achieving air conditioning unit, or both, the audience sat still in their seats, their disposition awkward, their bottoms extremely cold and uncomfortable.

"No wait a minute!" A lone voice suddenly screeched from backstage, piercing the stunned silence. "This isn't how it's supposed to end! Leninia! Remember your roots!"

"But I re-dyed my hair just yesterday!" Leninia yelled.

"Not those roots! Your cultural roots! Your heritage! Make Rasta-Bust proud!" And at this, the Entish Guitar rolled onto the stage, despite the attempts of what we can imagine to be an extremely burly Bouncer-Wight to restrain it.

"Aw, what the heck," Leninia said (though the authors imagine she must have used a stronger choice of words, they are mindful of the PG-rating stamped on their foreheads).

She threw the Guitar's strap over one delicate shoulder, stomped her delicate foot, and the auditorium exploded in a loud banging of what we presume to be pots and pans, the Guitar's strings screamed. Leninia kicked off her prim little shoes and rocked out and the invisible Wights joined her:

This show has taken its toll on me
The Ent said: *BEEP* off, too many times before;
But though my hopes are crushed thoroughly,
I guess can't kill you, 'cause I'm not as bad as you thought

Whoooah Whoooah Wooooooah

I tried my best to keep it pacified,
Kept it always by my side,
Whilst husbands went unsatisfied.
Kept playing it; it was my favourite pet,
And this is all the thanks I get,
Being born evil I regret.

This show has taken its toll on me,
The Ent said: *BEEP* off, too many times before;
But though I am as shallow as can be
I'll let it go; I've got to think of me.


"This is a trap!" Merisu hissed into the nearest ear, which happened to be Kuruharan's.

"Well, for an evil liar, she looks remarkably put-together," Kuruharan replied, his eyes aglow. "D'you think she'd go into the apparel business with me any time soon?"

'What is this apparel nonesense you are babbling about?" Earnur, who had a headache and couldn't be bothered with much of anything, snapped at Kuruharan.

"Ah the privilege of higher education," Orogarn Two snickered at Earnur. "Why if you learned how to use a dictionary, you'd..."

But he was interrupted by Soregum rising and delivering Leninia's score.

As high as the score was (and the authors admit to not being as good at adding numbers as Lovely Linnie, having spent that part of school flirting with their classmates via paper airplane), Leninia, sobbing now behind the curtain, new it wasn't enough to wistand the onslaught of the StillWithItship's secret weapon, which, having discreetly thrown up her magic tea in the most lady-like fashion possible (if throwing up could ever be lady-like), was ready to take center stage.

Last edited by Lush; 04-02-2004 at 06:05 PM.
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Old 04-03-2004, 11:22 PM   #163
Diamond18
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Silmaril Siren Song

Merisu put her head in her lovely hands, her fair golden locks falling through her fingers to veil her disconsolate but equally lovely face. “It is not possible,” she said, as Soregum gave Leninia her points. “24 points for a superb double performance!” she echoed the slightly besotted words of the judge. “It is not fair!”

“Whoever said life was fair?” Earnur muttered, groping for his hip flask but coming up empty handed.

“Not even death is fair,” Vogonwë added, then thought that ”Whoever said life was fair? / Not even death is fair” would make a good opening line for their collective eulogy, The Lay of the Soul-Sucked Sapship.

Pimpi came upon them, dabbing at her lips (red as roses and full as spare tires) and smiling. “I feel much better,” she said. “I think I’m ready to perform now.”

“But it is too late, Leninia has already finished and received her score,” said Gateskeeper. “None of the spells I know can save us now. Alas and alack.”

“Alas and alack?” Kuruharan eyed him mistrustfully.

The Gateskeeper shrugged. “I may as well go out with style.”

“Mayhap it is not too late!” Merisu said, jumping to her feet with grace and élan, new hope overspreading her face like a flush of fever. “Go now, Pimpiowyn, and give it your all. Remember all that I have taught you, and ignore whatever Vogonwë has told you!”

“I protest, I—”

“Leninia received 24 points,” Merisu continued, taking Pimpi by the shoulders and steering her toward the stage, ”so you will have to get….”

“…16 points to tie and 17 to beat,” Kuruharan supplied (because as we all know he was very fond of numbers.)

“Oh,” Pimpi waved her hand. “Alright. Can do. I feel so much better, really I do, it’s as if—”

“Yes, yes, good, good,” Merisu bobbed her head up and down and gave her a little shove.

***

In the auditorium, the wights were getting restless. Soregum sat in the judge’s chair, wondering what would happen next and if he was going to have to execute someone. He had a vague feeling that he had done a terrible thing and botched the scores, but he couldn’t quite focus on the matter, distracted by the rumbling in his tummy. The wights began to chant, “Soul! Soul! Soul! Soul! We want a soul!” until he became worried, being the only living mortal he could see.

But then the stage lights dimmed again, and the wights fell into silence. They would have waited with baited breath, if they had any breath to bait. Soregum shifted in his chair, and heard it squeak.

Then from backstage came the rattle of a tambourine. For a moment or two it grew, then into the light stepped Pimpiowyn. She wore her gauzy red dress with the voluminous sleeves, flowing billowy skirt, and close fitting black velvet bodice with the complementary neckline. She had had to make adjustments to the dress, to accomodate her change in size, but had done the work gladly, not having been able to find the likes of Topfloorien style in Minus Teeth or the GAP. The jeweled necklace she had also gotten at Topfloorien glinted in the stagelights from where it lay bewitchly upon her collarbone. The wights gasped, and quickly began to plot how they could steal it from her. Soregum smiled, but it is questionable whether he was looking at the jewelry.

Pimpi usually wore shoes, like a proper lady of Soreham raised by Elves, but as she stepped into the light her feet were bare. The tops were covered with a light downy layer of curling golden-red hair. All her life she had hid her hirsute feet, even wearing socks to bed, but now she kicked them up with each step, dancing slowly toward the edge of the stage. She was not usually so graceful in her movements, but something came out in her then — one of those things that are wont to come out in unlikely heroines from paperback novels and roleplays — (no, not an alien) — Dues Ex Machinistic Character Twists.

She rattled her tambourine quietly as she said, “I would like to sing for you a traditional lullaby of my mother’s homeland, the Mire.” Then she smiled down at Soregum and twirled around as she stepped back toward the middle of the stage.

She raised the tambourine above her head and thumped it once, then began to sing in a dusky voice. At first her voice lifted to the rafters alone. But then from the deep, mysterious recesses of the auditorium came more ghostly voices — spirits that couldn’t help but join in with the rhythmic melody and the mesmerizing voice of the young half-hobbit, who showed a sudden solemnity and depth suitable to the occasion (which hobbits have a habit of doing.)

Go to sleep you little baby, Pimpi sang, swaying as she beat on the tambourine slowly.

(go to sleep you little baby) echoed the ghostly voices.

Go to sleep you little baby, she cooed.

(go to sleep you little baby) they purred.

They joined voices:
Your momma's gone away and your daddy's gonna stay
Didn't leave nobody, but the baby


Pimpi faced Soregum again briefly, but then turned away coyly, her curls twirling about her. She continued to dance and sing:

Go to sleep you little baby (go to sleep you little baby)
Go to sleep you little baby (go to sleep you little baby)


Everybody's gone in the cotton and the corn
Didn't leave nobody, but the baby


Everyone’s heartbeat (had they an actual physical heart to beat) was thumping slowly to the rhythm of the tambourine. One of the ghostly voices went “oooOOOOooooOOOOooo” in the background the whole time Pimpi and the other G.V.’s sang their lyrics (and take Soregum’s word for it, “oooOOOOooooOOOOooo” is much more effective when you actually hear it.)

Don't you weep pretty baby (don't you weep pretty baby)
Don't you weep pretty baby (don't you weep pretty baby)


She's long gone with her red shoes on
Gonna need another lovin' baby


Pimpi had reached the opposite end of the stage, and she turned back around, swaying and slowly highstepping her way back toward Soregum’s end. She fixed her gigantic blue eyes on him in manner that not even Leninia would have been able to rip his attention away from (had she been trying) and did not release him from her gaze for the rest of the song.

Go to sleep you little baby (go to sleep you little baby)
Go to sleep you little baby (go to sleep you little baby)


You and me and the devil makes three
Don't need no other lovin' baby


Go to sleep you little baby (go to sleep you little baby)
Go to sleep you little baby (go to sleep you little baby)


Come and lay your bones on the alabaster stones and be my ever lovin' baby

She stopped in front of Soregum, clapping the tambourine once above her head and rattling it subtly as she lowered it her side. Then all was silent.

A not-so-subtle whisper from the wings broke the spell after a few breathless moments: “I didn’t know they had poetry like that in the Mire. We simply have to go there, Meri—ow.”

(It was not Merisu who caused the untimely end of the sentence, as she was too gentle and good-natured to hit people. Orogarn Two had no such qualms, however, especially since his father had written back asking him what the reams of bad poetry that had arrived in his O-mail were all about.)

The spell effectively smashed, Pimpi smiled sweetly and curtsied, bobbing her curls. “It is a simple song sung by such as have not studied music or played fine instruments in great halls, as you have no doubt been used to, but I hope you enjoyed it. Goodness, I’ve worked up an appetite. Are you hungry? Can’t we all get something to eat?”

Last edited by Diamond18; 04-03-2004 at 11:31 PM.
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Old 04-04-2004, 12:19 PM   #164
The Saucepan Man
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The Eye Ziggy Soregum and the Guitar from Marrow-Bones

Soregum was used to hardship. He had spent nearly fifty years in Moredough, working his way up from Minor Goblin Boot Scraper to the esteemed position of Môgul’s personal dogsbody. But never, in all his years of service in the Land of Shadowy Deals, had he felt such utter mental exhaustion as he felt at that moment. It was not the quality of the performances, which he had rather enjoyed. Rather it was the combined effect of the various intoxicants, enchantments, threats and bribes which had been bestowed upon him, not to mention the high blood pressure generated by Pimpi’s performance.

But a person of such small stature and humble origins does not survive for long in Moredough without developing formidable reserves of fortitude and resourcefulness. So Soregum had been just about able to cope with all that had been thrown at him (including, eventually, Leninia’s magic tea, thanks to his body’s tolerance to toxic substances) and his head had cleared sufficiently during the show for him to be able to formulate a plan. His primary concern was ensure that his soul remained firmly within his body, and he had been sufficiently wary of Leninia’s dark glances to ensure that the Sing-Along-A-Quest-ship scored low throughout the show. But he also had in mind his Master’s orders, to join their company, ideally with that talking guitar. Of minor concern were the individual souls of the various contestants, Pimpi excepted of course.

There had been a moment of near disaster when it had seemed that Pimpiowyn might not appear on stage. Had he scored the Search-For-A-Star-ship too low? How could he avoid scoring Leninia full marks to ensure that his soul remained intact? Happily, however, he had caught a glimpse of Pimpi’s determined (and heart-stoppingly pretty) face backstage, just as Leninia was stepping up to do her piece, and so had felt confident enough to award the Wight Lady double points.

He had recognised Pimpi’s song immediately, of course. It was a traditional “courting” song of the Mire. But having it sung to him by such an exquisite creature, and in such a beguiling voice, had nearly broken him. When she had cast off her shoes, he had nearly had a coronary there and then. Soregum had always had a thing for Redfoots. Indeed, he had only managed to retain his composure by sitting back and running through the matches from last season’s Inter-Arda Football Championship in his mind.

When Pimpi had finished, Soregum took a few moments to compose himself. Then, as all eyes turned to him, he slowly stood up and cast off his cloak and cowl. He wore a red satin jacket, matching breeches and a bright yellow waistcoat, which covered a prominent pot belly. His face, though pale and drawn, was animated by wide intelligent eyes of the deepest blue. A mop of curly grey hair matched the colour of the hair which grew on his bare feet (his ill-fitting boots too having been discarded). He smiled nervously at the assembled company (and Pimpi in particular), revealing quite the most alarming case of dental dilapidation that any present had ever seen. He was largely bereft of teeth, and those which remained were decayed and stained brown with tobacco, prompting Orogarn Two to recall with sadness the ruins of his native city.

“Well,” said Leninia, smiling sweetly at Soregum, while simultaneously fixing him with an icy stare. “How much does the Quarterling score?”

“Er, fif …,” Soregum began to say, then paused as he noticed Pimpi fluttering her extraordinarily long eyelashes at him. Steeling himself, he continued.

“Fifteen points,” he declared.

A gasp went up from the Pipped-At-The-Post-Ship.

“Fifteen?” questioned Merisuwyniel, barely concealing her disappointment.

“Fifteen measly points! Is that all I get?” exclaimed Pimpi, making no effort to hide hers.

“But what of the superb metre, the beautiful lyrics, the sheer excellence of MY Pimpi’s performance?” said Vogonwë. He had become rather flustered by the style of her performance and was not reassured by the manner in which Soregum kept looking at her, so he felt it necessary to emphasise the word “my” to ensure that there was no misunderstanding.

“Never trust a Hobbit,” muttered Kuruharan, only to receive a sharp glare from Pimpi.

“So, did we win?” chipped in Lord Etceteron, helpfully.

Leninia stood in momentary shock and confusion, having fully expected to find herself runner-up. Then, recovering her customary poise, she laughed in a manner which would have been delightful, were in not for the cold menace which lay below its surface.

“Then, I win!” she declared, jumping up and down and clapping her hands. “I get to collect your souls!”

“But the contest isn’t over,” said Soregum, gaining in confidence. “I have not sung yet.”

“But you’re the judge. You don’t get to sing.” replied Leninia, her merriment at the thought of adding further souls to her collection temporarily put aside.

“There’s nothing in the rules that says I can’t.”

Leninia peered thoughtfully at him through dark narrow eyes. Smoke billowed from Soregum’s pipe as he puffed on it and stared back at her in defiance. All was silent as Leninia pondered the meaning of this latest development. A pin dropped loudly towards the back of the auditorium.

“Very well,” she finally said. “But it will only delay the inevitable.”

With a wink to the Hearts-In-Their-Mouths-Ship (directed mainly to Pimpi, Vogonwë noted in annoyance), Soregum ambled to the centre of the stage. Then, just as he opened his dentally challenged mouth to begin, he realised that, in all his planning, he had given no thought to what he would actually sing.

But as he stood there, his mouth agape and fear once more starting to course through his veins, the auditorium was illuminated by a sudden flash of lightning which struck Soregum squarely on the top of his head. When the smoke had cleared, it became apparent that he had undergone some sort of strange transformation. His hair, now a shocking red in colour, was standing on end, and emblazoned on his face was a mark in the shape of a lightning-bolt, silver in colour and edged in scarlet. The life had drained from his eyes, and he shuffled forward to the front of the stage like one of the zombies languishing in Leninia’s dungeons.

Suddenly, the Entish Guitar struck up a series of powerful, rhythmic chords.

Wow-wow… Diddle-iddle-ee-dee .... Wow-wow-wow ...
Wow-wow… Diddle-iddle-ee-dee .... Wow-wow-wow ...


As if under a spell Soregum began to sing, while the opening chords echoed around the auditorium. Not a soul (whether embodied or not) moved, as if all present too had been placed under the enchantment which seemed to bind him.

Ooh yeah …

Wow-wow… Diddle-iddle-ee-dee .... Wow-wow-wow ...
Wow-wow… Diddle-iddle-ee-dee .... Wow-wow-wow ...

Melvin played guitar, jammin' good with Manuel Santana,
and his Valleyum pals, to stupefy Elves,
But Melvin proved false,
And when he found himself banned, he hit Dairyland.

Melvin claimed that land, building malls and luxury dwellings
Over Elvish farms. His Loyers were hard.
And Dairyland marred.
The Sindiar and the Noodlar, named him Môgul Bildûr.

So where were the Velour, while Môgul’s forces tried to break the Elves?
At last they were roused up.
So their forces were deployed and threw him into the void.

Wow-wow… Diddle-iddle-ee-dee .... Wow-wow-wow ...
Wow-wow… Diddle-iddle-ee-dee .... Wow-wow-wow ...

Môgul spent an age, brooding darkly on his misfortune.
So Mantoes’ curse went, that one day an Ent
Would find itself rent.
But once reunified, Môgul would be fried.

Taking shape as a beetle, Môgul freed himself out from the void.
Now his home is in Moredough.
For the Entish parts he hopes and when he finds them they’re toast.

Wow-wow… Diddle-iddle-ee-dee .... Wow-wow-wow ...
Wow-wow… Diddle-iddle-ee-dee .... Wow-wow-wow ...


The Entish Guitar continued playing the hypnotic chords until they came to their natural conclusion, as Soregum sang the final refrain.

Môgul seeks the Guitar …

There was a final cacophony of noise and then, as the final chords died away, he collapsed in a heap on the floor of the stage.

Last edited by The Saucepan Man; 04-07-2004 at 05:51 PM.
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Old 04-06-2004, 08:56 PM   #165
The Saucepan Man
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The Eye

When Soregum came round, he found himself staring into the faces of the Mystified-ship. Leninia was offering him a cup of tea, a reassuring look of concern entirely absent from her face. Politely, he declined.

“W-W-What happened?” he stammered in confusion. His hair was back to its normal state and the lightning-bolt mark had disappeared.

“You sang of Môgul Bildûr – and the Ent that was Broken,” said Grrralph, shaking Soregum violently. “What do you know of these things? And how do you know of the Dark Lord’s plans?”

“Er … nothing … I don’t …” replied Soregum, quickly masking his shock at what Grrralph had said. “I am just a simple Hobbit from the Mire. I-I-I don’t know what came over me.”

“The Dread Developer! He means to seize the Entish parts.” Merisu whispered anxiously, turning to her fellows. “Our mission is more urgent than I had thought. We must continue our journey Westward immediately.”

At the mention of Môgul’s name, the Gateskeeper had surreptitiously moved to the back of the group, his mind racing as he rubbed the mark on the palm of his hand.

“Dark Lord? Ha! Fie upon him. He is nothing but a red nostril. I fear him not!” bellowed Earnur fingering the hilt of his blade, which promptly sank down in its scabbard in terror.

“I heard he was some sort of beetle,” piped up Kuruharan.

“You know not of what you speak,” said Grrralph, his voice cutting across the general confusion. “He is as old as time itself, and more powerful than you can imagine. At this very moment, his forces move to conquer the realms of Muddled-Mirth and turn it to his profit.”

At this, Orogarn Two arched his eyebrows.

“Merisuwyniel speaks true,” Grralph continued. “We cannot hope to withstand him on our own. But, if I understand correctly the meaning of this Halfling’s song, the reunification of the Entish parts will bring his downfall.”

“Yadda-yadda-yadda,” interrupted Leninia, twirling her umbrella impatiently. “But what of the competition? You see, the way I see it, I’m still the winner.”

By now, Soregum had recovered his wits sufficiently to put into effect the final part of his plan.

“With the greatest respect,” he said. “The score is yet to be given for my own performance.”

“May I remind you that you are the judge,” countered Leninia. “You cannot simply award yourself points.”

“It matters not who awards them,” continued Soregum, his confidence building once again. “The minimum score is two, I believe. So shall we say I score two?”

“What of it if we do?” said Leninia, her sense of foreboding returning.

“Well, on the assumption that I am admitted into the company of these esteemed travellers, my score should be added to their total,” explained Soregum, glancing pointedly at Merisu who, after pausing for a moment’s thought, nodded her assent. “Which, if I am not mistaken, brings our total to twenty-five.”

“Meaning that we win,” declared Merisu, favouring Leninia with a victorious smile.

“Bah! And I would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for this meddling Halfling!” exclaimed Leninia, stamping her foot in frustration.

“Now, now. Don’t be such a sore loser, my dear” admonished Soregum, relishing the moment. “I think that you owe these nice people an apology – and that rather remarkable guitar too, I believe.”

“So,” he continued, turning to the Back-On-Course-Ship. “Where is it that we’re going on this mission … quest … thing?”

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Old 04-07-2004, 05:26 PM   #166
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Leninia managed a feeble "bite me, you scum" before quickly realizing that a different approach was in order.

Thinking on her pretty little feet, she scurried over toward what she judged to be the most brain-de...er, charitable member of the ObviouslyJiggyWithItship.

"Woe is me!" She sighed tenderly, kneeling in front of a rather confused Earnur, leaning down so that almost the entirety of her, um, charms was exposed to her dumbfounded audience. "What is a reformed soul-sucker to do whilst facing the greatest defeate of her already woeful life?"

"Er, um." Earnur replied manfully.

"Am I to be abandoned here, robbed of my best friend, rotting in my own misery, ravished by despair?" Leninia continued, her lower lip trembling deliciously.

Here Earnur grunted most thoughtfully.

Pearl-like tears gathering in her gorgeous eyes ("The colour of the blackest black-out" Earnur thought fondly).

"Can I not accompany you to lands where my thoroughly broken spirit, and perhaps some of my other, um, parts can be healed?" Leninia begged.

Earnur scratched his manly nose, deep in thought (or, perhaps, deep in trying to analyze his desire to sneeze).

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Old 04-08-2004, 10:56 AM   #167
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Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Meanwhile, back at Dorktank...

“What do you mean, they’re gone?!” Sauerkraut’s voice could be heard throughout the whole tower complex.

“Gone: departed, exited, gotten away, left, moved, pulled out, pushed off, quit, taken off, withdrawn,” Snâpp volunteered helpfully. He learned the hard way what the Dork’s handbook How to Win Enemies and Influence Dark Lords teaches in Chapter 2: Being helpful is not appreciated by sinister rulers. Unfortunately, by the time his head had grasped that fact, it had already been severed from his body.

“But how did they pass the Tower without being noticed? One does not simply walk past Dorktank – there are eléktrônik surveillance cameras that never sleep,” the Whiz-hard shouted.

“Well, those have been offline since we lost the connection in Soreham,” Kräkkel stated.

He too learned a lesson the hard way: Dark Lords do not care about facts.

“You mean that still hasn’t been fixed?? What have you all been doing all this time? For what do I pay you exorbitant salaries?!” the Boss roared.

“Umm, you don’t,” Póp piped up quite truthfully.

Lesson 1, Chapter 1: Honesty does not pay. Had he only read it while his eyes and hands were still able to coordinate!

“What have my spies found out?” bellowed Sauerkraut.

Tônithétigr reached out to give him a slip of paper, withdrawing his hand quickly just to be sure. “They found this parking receipt on the GAP parking lot,” he said.

“But it’s DAYS old – they must be far from here by now!” his emp-loyer protested.

There was no answer – those persons whose heads were still attached to their bodies had chosen to prolong that state by removing themselves from his immediate presence.

“I want them followed immediately!” exclaimed the Dark Lord of Dorktank.

“Ummm, before or after we get the surveillance cameras back online?” asked an anonymous Dork, who couldn’t have answered had someone asked him his name afterwards…

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Old 04-13-2004, 01:27 PM   #168
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Silmaril Meanwhile, Back Again at Marrow-Bones...

Lord Etceteron itched his nose and crossed his eyes manfully, then let loose a manful sneeze into his hand. His sinuses thus relieved, he absently wiped his hand upon his sable mantle, and contemplated the ambiguous creature before him. The other members of the LetsGetOuttaThisPlaceShip began to laugh at the absurdity of Leninia’s request, and Merisu sighed delightfully as she wiped tears from her cheeks. Pimpi doubled over, holding her midsection as if she had eaten some bad mushrooms, and guffawed daintily.

Leninia muttered an invective under her breath, but allowed her lower lip to tremble mightily as she clasped her hands to her bosom and looked like the picture of Hurt Feelings.

Earnur coughed. “Nay,” he intoned, “do not laugh at the repentance of the… repentant. Quite. Mayhap her heart has been defrosted by our….”

“Hotness,” Leninia breathed.

“Er… yes.”

“But she deserves to die!” Pimpi exclaimed.

“Deserves death?” Earnur arched a brow at her, with a wise twinkle in his eye. “I daresay. Many that deserve death, live, and many that deserve life, die, and then again, many that deserve death, die, and many that deserve life, lie. So. Can you give it to them, Pimpiowyn Took?”

“What?”

Earnur waved a hand, arched both brows, and began to pontificate on various matters pertaining to life, death, and the meaning of “defenestration”. Leninia, Soregum, and the Dazedship listened in a trance for about five minutes, then Kuruharan interrupted:

“I do believe I’d rather listen to Vogonwë recite poetry.”

“Really?” said Vogonwë (who had been finding the lecture quite informative and engrossing).

“I—“ began Kuruharan, but did not finish his sentence, for Orogarn Two and the Gateskeeper fell upon him with their fists till he was silent and could not give Vogonwë any more bad ideas. Chrysophylax yawned and picked a thighbone from his teeth as he watched his master fall, undefended.

“I say,” Earnur stared blankly at Kuruharan’s insensate body, as Orogarn Two rolled his sleeves back down and the Gateskeeper smoothed his robes. Grrralph would have rolled his eyes, had he eyes to speak of.

“Er,” Lenina said. “Darlings… have we forgotten someone?”

“Oh, right,” Earnur remembered the small, helpless, kneeling figure. “I say, old girl, you’re alright in my book. Come along if you like.” He smiled balmily, and his sword muttered, She’ll be trouble, that one.

“No!” Pimpi exclaimed. “Have you forgotten? She dumped us in a dark, dank, dreary dungeon for days, and threatened to steal our souls!”

“Hiss,” said Leninia airily, smirking.

Earnur looked confused. “Well, I….”

“Ahem!” Merisu said, “have you forgotten why we are on this Quest?”

“Free passage through Muddled-Mirth?” Vogonwë gandered.

“No!” replied Merisu with a hint of impatience. “The Bow!”

“My old hairbow?”

“No, the Entish Bow, haven’t you been paying attention?”

“Well….”

“What I mean,” Merisu smiled sweetly, if a little stiffly, “is that since our reason for questing lies in the Entish Bow, obviously the leadership of the Entourageship should be the one who carries the Bow, namely, me.”

“Your point?” prompted Orogarn Two impatiently.

“Point being, that I believe that I should be consulted on matters of member turnover, that is, who shall stay and who shall go, and who shall join. Stuff like that.”

Leninia rolled her eyes, and shuffled over to Merisu on her knees. “Pretty please with brown sugar and pink frosting on it?” she pleaded.

“Brown and pink,” Pimpi said. “Ug. If you’re going to put pink frosting on something, you should powder it with powdered sugar. And if you like brown sugar, then, well, you use sour cream, not frosting.”

“Hush, I’m thinking,” Merisu said, with the barest, briefest, tiniest hint of exasperation.

“Hey, that’s a good idea,” Pimpi brightened. She pulled her dagger, the bejeweled Hush, from its scabbard. “We could carve out her heart with this.”

“Pimpi!” Vogonwë and Merisu exclaimed in unified horror.

“Nobody likes me!” Leninia bewailed prettily.

“Um, I like you…” Earnur essayed from his corner, before blushing and falling silent. He sneezed self-consciously.

Everyone began talking at once, raising their voices in a corpus cacophonous of argument, pontification, and recitation. Merisu finally whistled shrilly, and the Bickership fell silent. “Come now, children, be calm!” she exclaimed.

Kuruharan lifted his bruised head from the ground and slurred, “Don’ worry, be happy….”

“Now,” Merisu huffed. “I think….” She glanced at Leninia, then to Pimpi.

“We could put her head on a platter,” Pimpi suggested. “With her heart in her mouth… like an apple! Kind of like a wild boar!”

Vogonwë picked his jaw up off the floor and spent a moment or two trying to figure out how to reattach it to his skull.

“Pimpi, that’s… why that’s… so unlike you!” Merisu stammered. “Proper, well bred shieldmaidens do not… do not….”

“It’s the aftereffects of the tea,” Leninia sighed. “First, it makes one wimpy, then as it wears off it makes one amorous, and finally the DT’s make one bloodthirsty.”

“Am I ‘one’?” Pimpi asked suspiciously.

Leninia nodded with another sigh. “One of them.” Then she cheered. “But Merisu, the confident, capable, level-headed one, is in charge,” she turned her small, deceivingly sweet face to the Lovely Elf. “What say you?”

“I say,” Merisu began, then wavered. On the one slender hand, putting Leninia’s head on a platter seemed in very bad taste – but on the other well manicured hand, so did sucking the souls of her and her comrades in cluelessness. She was plunged into a quandary. Her generous heart urged her to forgive and forget, but the good sense in her pretty little head told her otherwise. We could always defenestrate her…. she mused.

The tension was so thick, it could be cut with a knife, topped with whipped cream and strawberries, and served as pound cake.

“I have decided,” Merisu said at length, “that… Leninia’s… fate… shall… be…..”

Vogonwë squealed low under his breath, unable to take the suspense. Pimpi elbowed him.

“…Decided by our newest honorary member and the Judge of this competition, Soregum,” Merisu finished, pleased with the way she dealt with the sticky problem. Deferral is a skill taught to Elves in their earliest youth.

Pimpi turned a hopeful face and pretty blue eyes (albeit suspiciously dilated ones) upon Soregum and smiled, holding Hush at the ready. Leninia shuffled over to him on her knees, but found that even then she was at eye level with him, and cursed the fate that made her unable to assume a properly beseeching posture.

“Well… I, um, well…” Soregum said, worrisomely. He tried to think of someone he could defer the situation to, but came up blank. The matter, it seemed, was intent on resting itself squarely on his slightly pudgy shoulders.

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Old 04-15-2004, 04:46 PM   #169
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Ragged grey clouds scudded across the midnight, occasionally obscuring the watery moon that shone its death-pale luminescence over executive parking lot "B" of the Headquarters of the International Brotherhood of Magicians near the center of the Token-Ring of Networkgaard, and the needle-thin office-tower of Dorktank. Exec-B was empty at this hour, the head Uruks and Korprat-Loyers among the privileged few allowed to use it now off in their comfortable suburban bungalows and condominums, dreaming of hostile takeovers.

Yet on one edge of the lot, where the loading dock joined the back entrance, there stirred a lone figure dressed all in white. The figure grumbled to himself as he worked loading a few items into an equally white cart.

"...want something done right...mustard, relish...got to do it yourself...onions, poppy-seed rolls...drat that foolish wight...kosher dills, kielbasa..."

Finally all was loaded. The lone figure turned and whistled, and two H.O.U.S.es (Hyenas of Unusual Size) very poorly disguised as trap-ponies came forth, grumbling in much the same way as their master as they were harnessed to the cart. When all was finally in readiness the figure whipped a white paper hat out of the cart's dashboard, shook it out, cocked it at a dashing angle on his aging head, and took the driver's seat. With another whistle the cart rolled off the loading dock and into the moonlight, revealing the runes deeply graven into the sides of the cart...HOT DOGS...
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Old 04-17-2004, 03:31 AM   #170
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Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Soregum felt like a thin piece of metal between two strong magnets; on one side, Pimpiowyn’s big, beautiful blue eyes tugged at his heart-strings (he didn’t even dare to look down at those enticingly downy feet), on the other side, Leninia’s dark, deep eyes invited him to lose his will in hers. Ere he could decide which side would win before he was torn apart, a strangely wooden voice spoke.

“This is not your Quest, Merisuwyniel!” The tone, while polite, was definitely reproachful. All heads turned toward their intrepid leader, and those who had not previously heard the Bow speak wondered if she had ventriloquistic abilities, since the voice seemed to come from her shapely back. However, since it is polite to look at the speaker, she turned to remove the Bow from its position (no, not even the most lithe, supple Elf can turn her head to see her back) and hold it before her.

Finally someone who is willing to speak up and take responsibility for this crazy decision!, Merisu thought with a tiny sigh of relief. “Of course,” she spoke deferentially, “It is your mission that we strive to fulfil. What is it that you wish to be done with her?”

“I have not much hope that Leninia can be cured, even if she goes to the West with us, but there is a chance of it. And she is bound up with the fate of the Ent-That-Was-Sundered. My heart tells me that she has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before the end; and when that comes, the indecisiveness of the Fellow-Galship may rule the fate of many – mine not least. Besides, it is obvious that the Guitar is reluctant to leave her. It is hardly possible to separate her from it, even when it is summoned to a secret reunification and she is not.” The Entish Bow wished that it had a throat to clear, since such a long speech dried out whatever speaking mechanism it possessed.

“Well, then, everyone pack up and come along!” Merisu admonished. “The sooner we start, the sooner we get there, if you take my meaning - at least if we do not stray to the Inn in Beer. We can take a shortcut to the Mire.”

“Short cuts make long delays,” Pimpi spoke up.

“But inns make longer ones,” protested Earnur longingly.

And so it came that, by some mysterious mechanism of male orientation and despite the leadership of a female teetotaller Elf, they found themselves standing before the gate of the village of Beer sooner that the reader would have imagined possible.
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Old 04-23-2004, 02:51 PM   #171
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It is said that in the Village of Beer, all roads lead to the Inn. This is, of course, because there is only one road in Beer and it leads unerringly to the front door of the Muddled Mirth-renowned house of quaffing and less savory activities known as the Nancing Bow-ny Inn. Indeed, over its well-used portal is a banner on which is portrayed an Elf with long blonde hair and a bow, who, due to his fine coiffure and painted and manicured nails, could only be described as engaging in the activity of nancing.

The Zagat's guide to northeast Muddled Mirth and places nearby, describes the Nancing Bow-ny as an establishment of awesome gastronomical and epicurean delight, with fabulous decor designed by the dwarves of Hazard-Boom and service that is more than solicitous. Among its specialties are the Lembas-rubbed trout, the leg of lamb slow-cooked in Dwarvish herbs and the almost legendary dessert squirrel. However, what the guide fails to mention is that the Nancing Bow-ny, being located in a... to be polite about matters... low-income neighborhood, serves these savory dishes only in a small penthouse for which reservations are required two years in advance. Thus, the casual traveller and the local rabble are relegated to a pub known as Downstairs at the Nance, where the cuisine, service and atmosphere are more...austere.

As the Itship approached the Inn, its door swung open and three very thoroughly soused Hobbits staggered out. One held a greasy turkey leg (a specialty of Downstairs at the Nance) and another a basket of what appeared to be mostly peanut shells which he was rummaging through in an unsuccessful attempt to locate an uncracked nut. The third held a broken mug which he dropped on the doorstep before he himself dropped into a puddle of mud which lay beside the entryway.

"I thought you researched this place," hissed Pimpi to Vogonwë. The earstwhile Elf waved a copy of the Zagat's guide about while his jaw flapped without emitting a sound.

While the feminine segment of the Itship hesitated, exchanging dubious looks and sniffing doubtfully at the aroma wafting from the door, Earnur decided that the time had come to take a positive outlook on matters (and get his saddle-sore rump off his horse). "Looks swell!" he cried. "Let's go in!"

There being no immediate objection (there being no other viable option) the Itship turned its assortment of steeds and wagon (Leninia had graciously replaced the original cart which had been destroyed in the fall into her dungeon) over to the stablehands and trooped in.

"Quaint," sniffed Kuruharan as he took stock of the straw covered-dirt floor, the rough-hewn wooden furniture and the stuffed elk head (complete with hat hanging on its antlers) which adorned the wall behind the bar. "At least they have beer," he added. The common room was half-empty (or half full) with a motley assortment of Hobbits, Dwarves, seedy-looking Rangers and a couple of down-on-their-luck Elves, none of whom gave the Gallowship a second glance as they entered. They secured a table and sat as a waitress wordlessly tossed a pile of menus upon its surface. She quickly took their drink orders, then after beverages were delivered, disappeared for twenty minutes before returning to inquire whether they wanted "eats" or were they just going to "get bombed"?


"Quaint," repeated Kuruharan, though he did not turn down several helpings of 'taters, stew and several roasted birds loosely described as "chicken".
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Old 05-01-2004, 01:07 PM   #172
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Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Merisuwyniel tapped one graceful, in a moderately high-heeled boot (feminine, yet practical) clad foot impatiently. (Yes, dear reader, impatience is one of those pardonable faults, more a quirk of personality, that are allowable in shieldmaidens, indeed, that make them all the more endearing, since they are not completely perfect.) Here she stood, at the gate of the village of Beer, which the male majority of the Fellow/Galship had entered, and now this! None of them, whether manly hero, romantic poet, or mythical creature, had thought to hold the door open for her.

She might be emancipated, being a shieldmaiden and the leader of this motley group of questers, but certainly her beauty and grace entitled her to having doors opened for her by gentlemen?! While she waited, her gaze roamed the notices nailed to the gate.
Quote:
Hobbit rooms re-opening soon
All new beds and bolsters
Secure locks at the doors
Enjoy both comfort and security at the Nancing Bow-ny!
Quote:
FOR SALE
Sturdy, healthy pony in prime condition
Reasonable price
Contact Bill Fur-Knee
Most of the notices were weather-worn and tattered, but one large, new sheet attracted her attention; it was an invitation to a birthday party in the Shire.

That sounds more interesting than a musty, smoke-filled inn room, she thought. I wonder if ´Shire´is another name for the ´Mire´, where we plan to go next? She decided that the similarity was more than coincidental, definitely close enough for her. Falafel turned her noble head to her mistress, having seen and read the notice as well. In a whispered whinny, she said, "That may be a long journey for a hobbit, but it´s only a quick gallop for a horse."

How unfortunate that Vogonwë was not nearby to overhear her comment - he might have made an immortal quote of it.

Merisu rose in her stirrups and said, "Let´s head for the Mire! If anyone notices that we´re gone, they can follow, and we´ll see who has more fun! I´ll come back to pick up the rest when the Party´s over."

Soon the sound of her horse´s hooves had passed - into the West.

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Old 05-03-2004, 02:55 PM   #173
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Meanwhile, back at the Nance...

Grrralph sat unhappily at the Itship's table, watching Kuruharan, Earnur, Orogarn (Two). the Gateskeeper, Pimpi, Vogonwë, Soregum and Leninia polish off a prodigious quantity of food and drink. The stew and the chickens had been followed by 'taters and mushrooms, grilled duck, leg o' lamb and mixed vegetables. The beer had been followed by more beer (and wine) which was followed by an assortment of libations. Grrralph, however, neither ate nor drank anything, even though he seemed to recall that he had been very fond of duck before he had become a wraith.

During the meal, he had attempted to engage first Pimpiowyn, then Orogarn in conversation. He felt a deep need to voice his reluctance to take ship into the West. He simply felt that, as a wraith, he did not belong in Valleyum. Also, he seemed to recall that he had been rejected by the Velour once before. Further, he really didn't like boats. While he had used them upon occasion to cross rivers, he did not like the effect that rocking and waves had upon him. However, Pimpi had merely said, "Poor Grrralph, everything will be all right." And Orogarn had suggested he consider retiring to a quiet country home as far away as possible. Only Earnur, who despite his teetotaling ways was nonetheless quite in his cups, had been pleasant. He had passed Grrralph a bottle labelled "Old Rotgut" saying that there was nothing like some "home brewed fire" to cure seasickness. Grrralph politely pocketed the bottle, hoping it would not leak on his cloak.

As a result, Grrralph resolved to go to his room and rest early. However, the innkeeper pointed to a sign which read "No wraiths, Black Riders or other dark and shady types allowed in the rooms". So he once again went wandering. Just west of Beer was a hill, known as Fizzlepop. On its summit, he found a natural hotspring which reeked of sulphur. From a nearby fissure, a stream of hot gases was venting. He settled there, over the vent, pleased to have a chance to dry clean his outfit...
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Old 05-12-2004, 05:48 PM   #174
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The Eye When in Beer ...

When the party had left the Marrow Bones Studios, Soregum had been delighted to find Twinkle nibbling nonchalantly (and daintily, of course) on a few blades of grass outside. He had also been surprised to find that his delight stemmed not just from his reunion with the pipeweed-stuffed saddlebags which she bore, but that he was also actually quite pleased to see her. Twinkle, for her part, had been delighted at the presence of a cart within which the aforementioned saddlebags could be stowed, and also at the prospect of some equine company at last, and a cut above those dark dreary Moredough stallions at that, not to mention an adorably angst-ridden Dragon. Despite being the cutest little dark steed in Muddled-Mirth (or perhaps because of it), she was most certainly not above a little bit of flirtation. And suitably stabled at the Nancing Bow-ny Inn, she took the opportunity to get to know her new companions a little better.

Soregum, meanwhile, was in his element Downstairs at the Nance. A veteran of Uruk mess halls (a most fitting term), he felt quite at home in the quintessential atmosphere of squalor and dilapidation that characterised the place, and amongst its (variously) scabrous, seedy, boisterous, dishevelled and brawling clientele. In no time, he was sinking his decaying teeth into enormous helpings of the (alternately) undercooked and overcooked meat and vegetables, quaffing pint after pint of ale and (between mouthfuls) puffing away on his pipe.

Much to Vogonwë’s consternation, Soregum’s increasingly bleary eyes rarely left Pimpi (which unfortunately served only to further diminish his already shocking table-manners), although she was far too engrossed in the food-fest herself to notice. Eventually Vogonwë could take no more and he nudged her pointedly in the ribs (her own that is, rather than those that she was at that moment picking clean).

“Would you care to take the air, my darling Pimpi?” he said, forgetting to emphasise the “my” in his delight at having unexpectedly rhymed his hastily formulated question.

“Don’t be silly, Vogie, my sweet,” she replied. “We haven’t had dessert yet. And then there’s second dessert to consider. And perhaps we might then start again back at the top of the menu.”

Orogarn Two glanced up in alarm and reached for the menu while simultaneously selecting the calculator function on his Parma Palantir.

“Well, I didn’t have a starter, or wine, and I shared my rabbit stew with …” he began.

“Darling, let’s not split hares,” interrupted Leninia.

“I have a feeling that it will be on the house,” muttered Kuruharan darkly.

“You’re my besshtesht pal, you are,” added Earnur, wrapping his arms around a startled Gateskeeper with not the vaguest idea who he was addressing.

As the discombobulated Wizard pushed him away, the Lord of Dun-Sobrin unexpectedly jumped up onto the table (with surprising agility) and began to sing a traditional anthem from his Hero Academy days.

I've been a brave warrior for many a year,
Mighty and honest and knowing no fear.
Despatching my enemies in blood, guts and gore,
Each foe I will slay – that’s what warriors are for.

And it's hack, slash, sever,
Hack, slash, sever once more,
I will slay like a warrior,
Forever and more.

In causes most noble I’ve offered my sword,
As chances for glory just can’t be ignored.
To win great renown is a worthy pursuit,
So when slaughter’s involved I’m a willing recruit.

And it's hack, slash, sever,
Hack, slash, sever once more,
I will play the brave warrior,
Forever and more.

When brigands and bandits come raiding for gold,
The edge of my sword they will find sharp and cold.
And when Ladies from Dragons need liberating,
I’m first in the queue – it’s a warrior thing.

And it's hack, slash, sever,
Hack, slash, sever once more,
I’m not fey, I’m a warrior,
Forever and more.

So Trolls, Orcs and Goblins, yes let’ em all come,
In fifties and hundreds, I’ll fight every one.
I’ll shout “Day will come!” as I chop off their limbs,
And toast their remains with a measure of Pimms.

And it's hack, slash, sever,
Hack, slash, sever once more,
I will stay a brave warrior,
Forever and more.


There was a smattering of half-hearted applause as Earnur leapt into the air with a flourish. Much too vigorously, for he missed the table entirely on his way down and instead landed with a crash and a clatter and much cursing on a passing waitress bearing a tray full of mugs. The assembled guests all opened their mouths wide for laughter and stopped short in gaping silence, for the singer had disappeared. Everyone stared in amazement as the Gallowship exchanged mystified glances.

“Where’s ‘e gone?” shouted a squint-eyed fellow (who may or may not have hailed from the south).

“It’s not natural!” squeaked one of the local Hobbits in alarm.

“There’s some mistake somewhere,” exclaimed the landlord, an enormous ruddy-cheeked balloon of a man by the name of Lardiman Butterball. “There was too much manfulness about that Lord Etceteron to go vanishing into thin air.”

“It’s okay. He’s under here,” piped up Kuruharan, who had located Earnur under a nearby table where he had rolled and promptly fallen asleep.

Soon relative calm descended once again on the common room and the Gallowship returned to quibbling over the bill. After a short while, Lardiman Butterball approached their table, breathing heavily and perspiring profusely. Leninia wrinkled her nose in disdain.

“Beggin’ your pardon, good sirs … er … and madams,” he wheezed. “Excuse me interruptin’ you and all, but wasn’t there a Hobbit gentleman with you earlier? A fellow with a rather interestin’ dental arrangement, if you take my meaning?”

The Gallowship stared at each other blankly.

“Oh, you must mean Soregum,” remarked Pimpi at length. Vogonwë bristled in irritation that she should be the one to identify the subject of the landlord’s enquiry.

“It’s just that Dobby, the House Hobbit that is, noticed a fellow matchin’ that description lyin’ in the street outside,” continued Mr Butterball. “With a rather sinister figure, black cloak an’ all, stoopin’ over him.”

No one moved.

“Aren’t you goin’ … um … don’t you want to make sure that nothin’ queer’s happened to him, like?” ventured the innkeeper.

Still no movement.

“Well, I suppose we ought to check that he’s alright,” said Pimpi finally, as Vogonwë glowered silently.

With not the least hint of urgency, the group slowly made their way out to the front of the inn, Pimpi dragging a protesting Vogonwë and Orogarn Two dragging a snoring Earnur. When they reached Soregum’s prone body, the black figure was still crouched over it.

“He’s completely hammered,” Grrralph said, turning to them and standing up.

Last edited by The Saucepan Man; 05-13-2004 at 09:01 PM.
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Old 05-12-2004, 09:50 PM   #175
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With the exception of Vogonwë the rest of the Food-N-Drinkship roundly rejected Gateskeeper's suggestion that they leave Soregum (and Earnur for that matter) in the busy lane where he lay until morning, so Gatesy grumblingly helped the others lug the insensate hobbit and the comatose Warden of the Oddly-Shaped Disputed Bit back into the Nancing Bow-ny and up to their second-floor rooms. Since the drunken Soregum would probably be sleeping off his cups for at least 12 hours, Gateskeeper volunteered to share the room with Soregum and "take care" of him through the night. Unlike his former proposal, this suggestion was quickly accepted by the group -- the women gaining yet another measure of esteem for Gateskeeper for appearing to be a caring soul, and the men glad to not have to sleep with the customary clothespin over their noses to block the black breath of the inebriated shorty. Gateskeeper valued only the fact that his movements and conversations later on would be noticed by no one. And that he'd save half on the room.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Gateskeeper had heard enough and was fleeing back to the Nance as quickly as his skinny legs and flowing robe would carry him. Whichever side of his personality won the battle, he had to keep that Bow (and all the other Entish parts for that matter) out of the hands of Sauerkraut at all costs...
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Old 05-16-2004, 02:00 PM   #176
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A slight smile played around the corners of Merisuwyniel’s rosy lips as she rode through the village of Beer toward the Inn. She had enjoyed the party in the Mire – or was it ‘Shire’? – and been reassured by the eclectic mixture of guests that her motley crew would certainly find a welcome amongst that hospitable folk. Now she was anxious to get back to the Slow-Ship-to-China, hoping that the others had not missed her too much or found it difficult to manage without her expert leadership.

Her worst fears seemed justified as she entered the rooms where her companions had slept. The windows had been opened and were swinging, and the curtains were flapping; the beds were tossed about, and the bolsters slashed and flung upon the floor; and the ‘welcome’ mat was torn to pieces.

“AWAKE! FEAR! FIRE! FOES! AWAKE!” she cried, blowing on her harmonica for lack of a horn. Then, as it occurred to her that she had seen scenes like this before without enemy intervention, she called out, “Chrysophylax?” Still no answer. “Well, I’m back,” she stated to no one in particular.

“Oh, it’s you,” Leninia said, looking around the corner. “Were you gone?”

“What’s going on here?” Merisu asked in consternation.

“We have, uh, decided to carry on our journey with no further delay,” Gateskeeper informed her, coming around another corner with his hands full of baggage. He hurried off to the stall before she could ask any more questions.

“Did someone attack?” she queried.

“No,” Vogonwë said, carrying a big bag that sent out enticing smells of food. “Pimpi was trying to find the package of cookies she’d stashed in the room for emergencies, and didn’t remember where she’d put them.”

Orogarn Two and Kuruharan came from the stall. “We’ve heaved Soregum and Earnur into the cart,” the Dwarf said. “That will help us to get moving faster – is everyone else ready?”

The first grey light of day entered the windows, and cold air was coming through the open door as they left the Nancing Bow-ny Inn and headed westwards again. Pimpiowyn shivered as they passed through the gate and into Ye Aulde Foreste, a scenic park that lay between them and their next goal. Were the rumours told by her mother’s people true, that the Forest was haunted?

Merisuwyniel rode at the head of the Gallop-Ship; the others stayed well behind her, remembering the stories they had heard at the Inn last evening. “The Forest is queer,” one of the Hobbits, a very merry fellow, had told them. “Everything in it is very much alive, more aware of what is going on, so to speak, than elsewhere. And the trees do not like strangers. They watch you, whispering to each other, and the branches sway and grope without any wind. They do say the trees actually move, and can surround strangers…”

The trees grew taller as they rode on, and closer on both sides, and the day seemed to become darker instead of lighter as the hours passed. Vogonwë tried to sing a song to encourage them, but his voice sank to a murmur.

O! Questers in the tree-ed land
Despair not! For though trunks do stand,
All branches here must end at last
And see the axe go cutting past:
The hewing Dwarf, the hacking Man,
The campfire site for mealtime plan.
For Elf or Hobbit, all must cook…


Just then a branch crashed down in their path, narrowly missing the heads of those behind the Elven maiden. She turned around and smiled triumphantly. “Mealtime!” she exclaimed. And lo! the branch bore apples, and they plucked them and found them to be wonderfully crisp, juicy, and sweet.

Bushes seemed to grow nearer and they shrank together, feeling hemmed in and breathless as the air got hot and stuffy. But Merisu gathered berries from them with nary a scratch on her pale, graceful hands and distributed them to her comrades.

“Ow!! Ow!!” Soregum cried out, wakened from his stupor by a missile from above. It seemed to them that hail fell all around them, but when they looked, they perceived that nuts were lying on the ground, ripe and tasty.

When they had eaten enough to satisfy even Pimpi, they sat down to stretch their weary legs. Their eyes dropped shut from drowsiness, and none of them noticed that the roots of the surrounding trees moved toward their feet. But they sighed blissfully in their sleep as they dreamt of a wonderful, relaxing massage.

When they awoke later, the trees had moved apart just enough to let speckled sunlight through their green leaves. They mounted their horses refreshed and followed the path ahead of them. None noticed that it seemed to shift away from the direction they thought they were going, moving ever upwards and to the left.

After an hour or two they lost all clear sense of direction, though they knew well enough that they had long ceased to go westwards at all. They were being headed off, and were simply following a course chosen for them – into the heart of the Forest and not out of it. The afternoon was wearing away when they suddenly reached a clearing. There they saw – the strangest little man, dancing the strangest little dance! He had saucepans and kettles hung all over him, he wore a saucepan for a hat, and he crashed two saucepans together as he danced!

Ooops – sorry! Wrong story…

But just what did they see on the clearing??
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Old 05-21-2004, 11:31 AM   #177
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Meanwhile, on the outskirts of Beer

"So close," Sauerkraut grumbled to himself, "almost within my grasp...no matter. The fools have fled into Ye Auld Foreste. The trees there will hold them until I arrive, I and my new 'hot dog friends'."

He permitted himself a single evil chuckle as he drove his hot dog cart down the road that left Beer at a leisurely pace, followed on foot by almost the entire population of Beer. Their eyes were glazed, their movements mechanical, their foreheads emblazoned with the emblem of the white bratwurst, their lips synchronized and softly chanting "IM...HO...TEP...(oops, wrong movie) SA...UER...KRAUT...SA...UER...KRAUT..."
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Old 05-22-2004, 04:34 PM   #178
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meanwhile, in leninia's pretty head

The green cloud of what appeared to be some sort of poison gas that Leninia rode through the Forest gave a noticeable jerk as she neared the clearing, the last in line.

"What is it, Stoli?" The rider purred, reaching down to pat the cloud with one hand, keeping the latest issue of Con de Nastí open with another.

"I can't believe you're talking to a cloud, let alone riding one," Pimpi turned around and snorted.

"Stoli is not a cloud, he's just shy around strangers," Leninia hissed through pearly teeth.

"If it ducks like a quack, and...I mean, if it quakes like a...er..." Vogonwë sputtered, his expression shifting from grave to terribly confused.

"What he's is trying to say," Pimpi jumped in, waving at Vogonwë to keep quiet, "is that you are most definitely riding on a creepy green cloud and until we have proof otherwise we will continue to lambast you for not having a proper noble steed, like all great tales require."

"Oh stuff your face!" Leninia growled.

"With what?" Pimpi inquired eagerly.

Leninia opened her pretty mouth, prepared to issue forth a torrent of furious, yet landylike invective, but just then the green cloud bucked underneath her in great agitation, and Leninia had to dig a stylish heel into its side in an attempt to resume control, entering the clearing braced for attack and ruinage of her exquisite manicure.
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Old 05-24-2004, 08:03 PM   #179
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Boots Breezing Along with the Breeze

Alas and alack for the at last Shipshape Itship, the clang of kettle, pot and pan was not some kind of man. That had been a trick, an anthropomorphic misadventure, their eyes had played upon them. Slowly, as the rag-taggle band of heroes and goddesses searched their memories, they became aware of an even more improbable thing, something from beyond any myth they knew. Someone's memory was in overdrive, or, more poetically, they had stepped through a window that had opened on an alternate time and a light was upon an object for which they had no name. (One forest is as good as another for that thief called writer.) The clash and bash of copper-coated kettle and iron pot was coming from inside a strange, long, narrow house, clad in yellow and a metal as precious as mithril, and set atop wheels no less. Which said house was rocking and rolling, though not in a musical fashion, as now loud wails were emanating from it.

"I didn't mean a little place we could call our own and never go any where else," cried a female voice, the cry embellished by the ringing sound of a pan hitting a wall.

"But honey, I thought this was complete for you. Remember how happy you were that it came complete with everything, furnishings and closets and lamps and beds."

"You never told me this would be all there was," retorted the woman, her voice dripping with tears, which were punctuated by the ping and crash of multiple plates hitting a wall and not a few cries of "Ouch! Ow! Watch it!"

"What's the point of a trailer if we don't take it anywhere?" Cue the sound of more pans hitting the wall, this time in seeming syncopation from two directions.

"You said you wanted to make a home for me. Yê Auldë Forestë it is. I am Master here."

"Don't get all bossy with me. It's fine and dandy for you to run off and have adventures with hobbits and wights and then come home and expect me to be waiting here for you with dinner ready."

The sounds of pots and pans being kicked around the floor accompanied this shrill cry of petelant independence and, suddenly, the door swung open to the chimes of "Breezing with the Breeze', a hip song which somehow had found this window of opportunity to infiltrate the memories of the Third Age. Out came a vision of domestic bliss, less keen and lofty than any Merisuwyniel-inspired dream but definitely closer to mortal parts if not hearts.

She was clad in a fabulous dress of green chiffon with white lace. It sported a nipped-in waist, princess neckline and flaring swing skirt which flounced around upon umpteen layers of petticoats in time to the stormy shakings of her head. She had the uplift of a Saturn booster rocket and it was clear she was wearing a girdle. Her full lips, perfectly heart shaped, were red, her eyebrows, pencil thin, and her hair the perfect curly (golden)red which one day would be called a poodle cut. Leninia would have died for such lips and hips had she been willing to die herself. As it was, she satisfied herself merely with killing looks. And at the sight of this domestic paragon a spell was laid upon Vogonwë about the pleasures of subservience so that he immediately began contemplating a robust poem with which he would later regale the firmament--or would have, had Pimpi not herself administered a punishing kick to this bottom.

Suddenly, the sky was wracked with lightning and thunder overwhelmed the graceful caperings of the couple.

"Aw, come on, honey," pleaded the voice of the man who was exiting the trailer himself. He was a dashing caballero who spoke with a vaguely Cubadorian, er, Grudorian, er, H'radcal accent. His attire was as remarkable in its own way as was that of the woman, for he wore a blue, short-waisted windbreaker jacket which accentuated his legs and hips, all the more to show off his dancing skills, which were highlighted by the yellow golf shoes upon his feet. At least that is what Orogorn Two claimed they were when an astonished Thingship of one accord pointed to them. The man's dark hair was combed back from his face, in a high pompadour on top, in what came to be known as a jelly roll. He followed the woman.

"You know how you bring storms on when you get in a huff, Gucyberry."

She crossed her arms petulantly across her bosom, her fingers tapping upon her forearms and her feet stamping the ground. Rain appeared out of nowhere and began to drench the Wouldship as well as the two, who began to discourse some more in their version of sweet domestic bliss.

Chrysophylax huffed and puffed, his firey breath attempting to evaporate the rain but it came in torrents so heavy that his breath was extinguished. As it was, though, his breath managed to singe a curl or two of the woman's hair and she immediately turned towards the assembled guests.

"Oh, Ricky Ricadillo we have guests and our table isn't laid. Is supper ready?"

At the mention of supper, Pimpiowyn decided that this woman was a dangerous rival who meant to get to the heart of Vogonwë through his stomach. She for one was certainly not going to fall for this social panacea of the dinner table.

Ricky, who was in fact the coolest bandmaster ever at Ye Hippe Forecana nightclub, clapped his hands in rhumba rhythm and offered to refresh the Wouldship, giving Merisuwyniel in particular a very appreciative eye. She was much in awe of his attention, but like the dauntless goddess she was, she demurrred politely and said they were on a mission from Eru and designed to reach Valleyum with the help of the Velour but had became terribly lost in this tricksome Forest.

When Gucyberry heard this, a look of wifely, conniving intrigue came over her face as she saw an opportunity. She gushed over Merisu's quest.

"Ricky, honey, you can't dissuade this courageous maiden from her mission. The rain has ended. Let us now laugh and teach them the right road."

"But no one comes by Yê Oldë Forestë without spending the night under my roof or at my table," complained Ricky, who found quite enough to occupy his time in Yê Auldë Forestë.

Gucyberry walked over to Ricky and began to run her fingers over his ears. "Ricky, we can do both. You can drive the Mercury and I can make dinner in the trailer."

Gateskeeper ran up to Ricky at this point. "Say, son, is that a '53 Mercury Monterey? What horsepower do you have there?"

"It surely is, Pop. It's a 125 horsepower flathead V8 with 3700 rpm," Ricky answered proudly.

"You don't say. 255.4 cubic inch piston displacement?"

"Nothing less for my baby."

"211 lb.ft of torque?"

"She's fast and made in the shade," Ricky pronounced.

"That's one classy chassis. Cloth and vinyl seats and dress-up chrome mirror?" You could tell that Gateskeeper's love of technology was bringing out Ricky's vanity to the point where soon he couldn't say no.

"See, Ricky, you just have to show these nice people the powertrain and the leg room."

Gucyberry's pleading was too much for Ricky to take, along with her puppy eyes and melting pout. He nodded his agreement and plans were soon made to fit everyone into either the trailer or the convertible.

"We shall fear nothing," proclaimed Kuruharan and Gucyberry pronounced him "Smelf-friend," the first and only dwarf ever to receive such an accolade. Kuruharan surveyed the trailer, contemplating the potential for sales in Middle-earth should the Eye ever be defeated enough to allow a sufficient tourist trade to be established between Beer and Grundor. It is true that Merisuwyniel had some trouble persuading Grrralph to accept this plan, for the wraith was sure Ricky would be tempted to hold a knife to his throat, but Merisu finally persuaded him that Cubadorians could be as trustworthy as any denizen of the florida and fauna or at least as good for business.

So it came to pass that both Earnur and Orogorn Two vied to enter the trailer together. It was a tight squeeze for both to fit in the low door and they stumbled manfully in their efforts to avoid encumbering the other in their arms. Immediately, Earnur bowed, but hit his head upon the doorframe, which allowed Orogorn to attempt the entrance at one large jump but his prowess resulted only in his tripping upon the step, whereupon our two challenging champions decided to ride with that other venturesome fellow Ricky in the horsepowered vehicle which would draw the trailer. Leninia immediately chose to sit between the two in case a good game of back seat bingo could be had, even beneath the watchful eye of the wizard Gateskeeper, who sat behind them on the rear deck, with the rag top down. Chrysophyllax, far too large even for a thirty foot trailer, had to fly atop the trailer and stick his head in an open window while Kuruharan jumped into the front passenger seat the better to survey the prospects for trade routes. Vogonwë insisted upon offering help to the lovely Gucyberry, to which offer Pimpi scowled, but a scowl not missed by Soregum who lost no opportunity to be of service by offering the ample hobbit miss his arm to steady herself as she attempted the flighty stairs into the trailer, which nearly bent beneath her weight. Grrralph decided to ride atop the trailer hitch, covered in his cloak, the better to keep a suspicious eye upon this prancing Forest fellow while Merisu, determined not to be outdone in the sartorial category, jumped at the chance, but only in the most decorous manner, to explore the inner sanctum of Gucyberry's clothes closet.

Ricky released the trailer brake and lay a patch and the Monterey Convertible with the 32-foot, 3-ton New Moon trailer and The Last Hope for the Entish Wood sped out onto a highway, a window of which opened opportunely for him. And so it was that the Back-to-the-future-ship was brought to explore the simultaneous but sorry existence of Yê Auldë Forestë in the Seventh Age.
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Old 05-26-2004, 11:02 AM   #180
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The Eye Meanwhile, back in Moredough …

The Korprat-Loyers, Cheetem and Ripoff, sped over the Plateau of Gorgonbreath on their top of the range turbo-charged Wargs, Porsha and Furrari. Behind them, slung across the back of a horse and still bound and gagged by their injunctive spells, trailed Gravlox. As they went, Cheetem and Ripoff regaled their captive audience (of one) with a customary Loyer song:

Claim! Blame! The gravy train!
Red tape! No escape!
And down down to Loyer-town
You go, my lad!

Ipso facto! Lex contracto!
Locus standi! Mutatis mutandi!
Bound, bound, far underground!
Quid pro quo, my lad!

Bad debt! Liquidate!
Warranty clause! Bankruptcy laws!
Sue, sue! And turn the screw,
While Loyers draft, and Loyers laugh,
Pound and hound and cite their grounds
Down you go, my lad!


Soon, they were within the Tower Block of Barát-Höm standing with their prisoner before their chieftain, Greedhog, and none other than the Lord of Dark and Dirty Dealings himself. Môgul Bildûr sat in his leather bound swivel-chair, shrouded as always in a dark and murky cloud, gently stroking (as far as could be told) Heslob’s mangy white fur.

“Your Loyers have done well, Greedhog,” purred Môgul. “See that they are well rewarded.”

“Indeed I ssshall, sssire,” hissed Greedhog. Then, turning to them, he continued, “Look to your annual pay review. Threefold ssshall your performancsse bonusssesss be multiplied for thisss year. Now leave usss.”

As Cheetem and Ripoff withdrew from the Office Suite positively dripping with smug satisfaction, Môgul turned his attention to the prisoner.

“So, Gravlox. We meet again. Only it would appear that your Uruk credentials are not all that I had hoped. You are a traitor to all that is dark and diabolical, are you not? You have besmirched the bad name of Orcs the world over. What, I wonder, should we do with you?”

“We ssshould liquidate him, my liege,” sneered Greedhog. “I could have a Writ of Exssecution drawn up within minutesss if you only sssay the word.”

Gravlox’s increasingly Elven features remained impassive, straining only slightly in an attempt to make out the form of the nebulous figure seated before him. Despite his Orcish origins, it was perhaps better for him that he could not.

“No. We shall stick to the original plan. He may yet prove to be a useful negotiating tool.”

“Indeed sssire. Particularly as it ssseemsss that he hasss … er … feelingsss for the Ssshe-Elf.” A look of distaste crossed Greedhog’s twisted face.

“The she-elf?” uttered Môgul in bemusement. “Why on Muddled-Mirth would he be attracted to a storage unit?”

“No sssire, the Ssshe-Elf. The ring leader of the Entisssh Quessstorss. That Merisssuwyniel.” Greedhog spat the name out as if to stifle it the moment it left his treacherous lips but it hung in the air, feminine yet practical. Gravlox was unable to conceal a mournful sigh.

“Well, why didn’t you say so? How curious. Are these … er … feelings mutual?”

“Yesss, my Lord, we believe ssso.”

There was a pause. Then a familiar gurgling, mewling, strangling sound issued forth from the murk. Môgul was chuckling.

“Excellent! Then his value to us is great indeed. See that he is not harmed.”

“Your wisssh isss my command Massster,” replied Greedhog, a tinge of disappointment in his voice.

“Well, my friend, it looks like you will be joining us on our little jaunt to Valleyum. What say you to that?”

Gravlox remained resolutely silent.

“Please yourself. Now, we must arrange transport. Greedhog, send for the Aircorps of Dumbar.”
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Old 05-28-2004, 10:25 PM   #181
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A sudden realization....

"Oh my ERU!"

Vogonwë leapt up, hitting his head on the roof of the transport. A hollow clang echoed throughout the cab.

“What is it?” Pimpi asked, surprised. Vogonwë sat back down, wincing and muttering a string of Simian under his breath. “Are you all right?”

“I hit my head,” he stated the obvious.

“Yes, but why did you scream and jump up?”

Vogonwë couldn’t remember for a moment or two, but then it came rushing back to him like a flash flood with a grudge against nature. “Harvey!” he cried, nearly jumping up again. Pimpi placed a hand on his arm to keep him down.

“Who?”


“Harvey! Gravlox’s rabbit! I’ve lost him!” Vogonwë cast an agitated gaze around the speeding bus. "I forgot all about him, and I can’t even remember the last time I saw him!”

“I haven’t seen him since Leninia’s dungeon,” Pimpi looked at the diminutive diva sharply.

“You didn’t eat him, did you?” Vogonwë worried. As the bruise near his ribs flowered, he said, “I’m sorry, that was a stupid question. Maybe he’s in one of our packs….”

“If he were, he’d probably have starved and/or suffocated to death,” Pimpi pointed out helpfully as Vogonwë began to rummage through the packs. A few minutes later, having come up empty, Vogonwë sank back into his seat with a groan.

“I’m sorry, Vogie. Perhaps we’ll find another bunny in the Mire,” suggested Pimpi.

“No!” Vogonwë responded, fiddling with a Game-Wizardling he’d found in the bottom of the Gateskeeper’s pack. He threw it over his shoulder in disgust. “Now what am I going to do when Gravlox shows up again, red-eyed, snorting smoke, and hot on revenge? I was going to hold Harvey up and squeal like a girl, ‘You wouldn’t hurt the Elf who saved your pet, would you?’ but now, now I have nothing!”

“Vogie!” Pimpi sought to sooth his gasping speech and frenzied hand motions. “What makes you think he’s going to show up again?” She lowered her voice so that Merisu wouldn’t hear: “When They got back There, They probably killed Him.”

“But I killed him, and he came back! Who’s to say the third time won’t be the charm?” Vogonwë whispered back.

“Well, I don’t know about that… but, sweetie, if you killed him he can’t be that scary, after all,” Pimpi patted his arm.

“I beat him with Aim-well Spells and arrows,” Vogie hissed, beads of sweat popping out on his forehead. “He won’t give me the chance of a duel next time. And sure, I know some fancy schmancy martial arts moves, but it’ll be daggers and claws and fangs.”

“But you don’t have claws or fangs.”

“Precisely.”

Pimpi looked worried for the first time. “Well,” she said, “maybe he’ll forgive you even though you killed him and then lost his rabbit.”

They both fell silent, contemplating this possibility, then shook their heads in unison.

“Hmmm. I know!” Vogonwë’s face lit up after a moment. “I could write a eulogy for Harvey, and present it to Gravlox. That way, he would be so touched by my beautiful words of heartfelt lament that he’ll forget I lost his pet in the first place.”

Pimpi was silent for a moment, then she folded her hands in her lap and studied them a moment. “I don’t think that’s a good idea,” she said finally.

But Vogonwë had already whipped out pen and paper and was busily composing his masterwork. She sighed, and glanced around the bus, noting that Soregum was puffing on his pipe while watching her. She stiffened, but tried to pretend that she didn’t notice the old, short, fat, darkly clad hobbit’s constant and unsettling gaze, by turning away slightly and looking out the window. Little did she realize that by doing so she put her lovely young, tall, lithe, colorfully clad profile at its best advantage, with the sun from the window shining down around her.

Soregum, meanwhile, was contemplating (among other things) the odd conversation between the half-halfing and her nitwit of a boyfriend. Who was this Gravlox? With a name like that, surely not an Elf or any creature these folks were likely to be consorting with. And yet they seemed concerned about gaining his forgiveness for having dispatched with him. Whatever he was, if he harbored a violent grudge against Vogonwë, he might make a valuable acquaintance….
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Old 06-03-2004, 04:03 PM   #182
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"Until the devastating and, of course, wholly accidental fire that swept away much of the city of Minus Teeth, there resided in the dusty archives of the Wight City a scroll of darker and more obscure antecedents even than its governing family. Its anonymous author, known simply as the Hermit of Red Hill, tells of a peculiar and singular barrow in a place beyond both time and sanity, where he claims are buried the last remains of the Creator of Muddled Mirth.

Long dismissed as a harmless lunatic, largely due to a three-page digression concerning the formulation of city council signwriting policy*, the mysterious Hermit was saved from eternal obscurity by a peculiar incident that occurred some months after the disappearance of his one remaining manuscript. Even so, the work survives now only in a footnote to one of the strangest documents ever to issue forth from the hoary Entish scriptorium of Canned Corn Forest: the many-scrolled saga of the Re-Unification of the Entish Bow; a source so unreliable that its own author, Deeproot the Ent, appears never to have referred to it for any facts concerning the events of which it is the sole complete record. If we may believe this convoluted and at times bizarre document, Deeproot may well have had access to the missing manuscript, previously considered to have been destroyed in the Sac... tragic mishap of Minus Teeth. If so, only one of great daring and greater academic understanding could possibly have at once rescued and stolen such a priceless item. The name of this paragon of literary archaeology has, sadly, been forgotten by the history that owes him so great a debt."

Dr. P.G.R. Aiten, University of Morbîrsluv

******

'For the last time, nobody wants to buy any toilet paper!'

'But this is a once-in-a-lifetime half-price offer: this stuff is so soft that I can hardly tell I'm holding it. I have to get it off my hands before I'm crushed in the scramble.'

An admiring throng of desperate buyers having failed to materialise, Kuruharan returned the tattered piece of vellum to a saddlebag and continued his stock-take. Some successful sales among various bemused and now landless peoples had left him with little on his hands apart from an assortment of protective amulets, the most potent of which promised to protect the bearer from pillow cuts, the deeds to half of Muddled-Mirth and the mysterious parchment that he had swiped from the ruined city back in chapter two. The only people rich and idiotic enough to buy any of these items would be unavailable to make purchases until the next stop, when he hoped that desperation might lend some force to his arguments. Until then there was nothing to do but to take stock and consider the values for a landlord of having a dragon as a business associate.

Some people are made for the horseless carriage; others achieve a certain modus vivendi with it, and others, like Lord Earnur Etceteron, would do better to stick to horses. Although admittedly delighted that this new form of transportation gave no impression of tolerant contempt, he was beginning to tire of interior dimensions that appeared to have been designed with Dwarven amputees in mind. Having been forcibly restrained from lighting his pipe, and acutely aware that lime cordial is no substitute for wood alcohol as a cure for boredom, he had struck up a jaunty drinking song, but had been silenced with seventy-two bottles remaining aloft when a diminutive and well-manicured hand had removed what little sensation remained in his left leg. He glowered at the steady procession of unprepossessing buildings and black roads in silence, noting that the countryside through which he would have chosen to travel, in which adventure and derring-do were no doubt lurking behind every copse, appeared to be keeping a respectful distance from the narrow strip of noise and noxious vapour on which he was currently a passenger. Finally, in desperation, he uttered the fabled Incantation of the Speedy Traveller, which has been known to make many a lengthly journey simply fly past:

'Are we nearly there yet?' he intoned in an heroic and manly whine.

It is almost impossible to kick someone effectively from the driving seat of a classic roadster, and since Ricky Riccadillo was adamant that no blood touch his upholstry, they were forced to halt their journey for a brief lecture on road etiquette. While Orogarn rubbed his stinging knuckles, they took the opportunity to make plans for the journey ahead. Heroically, the Gallowship attempted to overcome their complete ignorance of their location or the meanings of the terms 'motorway' and 'road atlas' by means of applied volume, and in the general confusion Earnur was able to pick himself up and purchase a piece of vellum to staunch his bleeding nose from the ever-helpful Kuruharan. His purse had been digging uncomfortably into his bruised ribs, and his relief at disposing of most of its contents was palpable. Also the removal of blood allowed him to make his first ever useful discovery. There was writing on his impromptu handkerchief, and at least one word was still legible. 'Where's Oxenford?' he asked lightly.

'I already told you, man: we'll get there soon-o,' announced their driver testily. 'Wait a minute: have you been here before?'

'I'm not sure,' mused the gallant knight of madness as he caught sight of the words 'How am I driving?' stencilled on the back of a dilapidated white van. 'Once I knew every Valar-forsaken place in the lands of Elves or Men or Orcs. I can still remember ten of them without searching in my mind, but this isn't one of them.'

'I've got a lot of work there, if you could but know it. Ricky might take you there if you do not blow it.' replied the mysterious traveller.

'You have been there before that you might have business there?' persisted the Lord Privy Attendant, in reckless disregard of his personal safety.

'He has,' answered the fair lady Gucyberry. 'He is the Master of accelerator, clutch and handbrake, although his navigation sucks.'

'Then know you of a place known as the Wolven Cot?'

Rickadillo laughed, saying:

'Ricky's country ends there: he will not pass the borders.
Ricky has his plugs to oil, and needs some help with rhyming.
'

'I'm waiting,' snapped Gucyberry. 'Do you mean to sit around jawing with these freeloaders all day?'

Inspired by this esoteric time-wasting, Vogonwë spoke up:

'An ancient tale in Workmud tells of how the Creator Himself tired of life and departed it,' he announced. 'My ancestor, Daebolic the Loremaster wrote: "The Maker is gone; his barrow is flat. There is no more story, so that, mate, is that."'

'If Eru is dead, then thousands of years of religious mania have been a complete waste of time!' cried a horrified Merisuwyniel. 'We must investigate the truth of these cryptic and insane writings, that we may debunk or suppress them!'

Flushed with success, Earnur pointed out his next amazing discovery.

'Yonder is a sign!' he enthused. 'Mayhap it will show us the way we seek.'

"The flying of model bricks in this area is restricted to members of the Oxfordshire Guild of Freemasons by order of the Sherriff," read the Gateskeeper, deciphering the strange letters with ease. 'Looks like a lot of Hobbit-rules and Hobbit-talk to me.'

'You are wise in the tongues of many peoples, quite a few of them now extinct,' said Earnur, once again showing his worth as a judge of character. 'I cannot read the fiery letters; mayhap you may assay with better fortune.'

Perhaps because this inexplicable diversion offered a deferral of the inevitable crisis of alliegiance, perhaps because few people can turn down the chance to look clever, Gateskeeper translated the least blood-soaked portion of the manuscript.

'It's blood, not fire, so don't be so melodramatic.' he admonished; and as though to aggravate Earnur's already galloping case of archaism, continued: "And I beheld me an chapelle, begirt with many paths of greate ordynarynesse. And thence did I follow the signs, that are hid fromme the eyes of many menne, and so came to ye restynge place of ye maker of Muddled-Mirthe. Praise be great Eru thatte I was of alle menne ye firste to looke on its glory. Ye who followe in mine stead, look ye for runes of golde upon a lowe sign, and they shalle show unto thee ye Way."

There was a moment of reverential silence, while the entire company scrambled for the best seats in their chariot of doom, punctuated by a scuffle over which of seven claims to the front seat of the Monterey was valid under the laws of Grundor, Workmud and the Manor of Dun Sóbrin; which of these had precedence in a land that was none of them and who had the most powerful left hook. Eventually this proved to be the Lady Gucyberry, who resumed her prime hectoring position with a dainty shake of her winning hand.

The brief interlude of violence and theological enquiry having soothed many a tattered nerve, the remainder of the journey took place in relative calm and civility. Various roads that were apparently not sufficiently important to have real names sped by, while Earnur, convinced that he had at last found a quest of mythic proportions and freed by the absence of danger from the griping of his mighty brand, pretended to read his newly acquired parchment with a scholarly air. His silence in turn provoked random acts of conversation and some disconcertingly misguided eyebrow-fluttering from certain quarters. So it was that they reached at last the mighty necropolis described in the scroll as 'Wolven Cotte', although to the disappointment of the errant heroes, there appeared to be neither wolves nor cottages to be seen. Instead, great iron gates opened onto a path, which led to a bijou chapelette in the suburban Gothic style. Announcing that he had his trailer to mind and promising to be back before the day was out, Ricky handbraked the entire massive combination through 180 degrees, and he and Gucyberry sped away, singing at the tops of their voices. A suspicious creature might have suspected them of relief.

'This is the place,' announced the Warden of the Oddly-Shaped Disputed Bit, somewhat redundantly. Immediately lighting on an arrow, he followed it as all great warriors, and still more mediocre ones, are wont to do. Monuments rose on all sides, proclaiming the names of many generations who were yet to be born when the Gallowship had arisen that morning; a chilling reminder of the fate that awaits all those who are not mythological creatures, Thingwraiths, ambiguously half-Elven immortals or otherwise exempt beings.

'Nice here, isn't it?' remarked Earnur.

Despite the truly immense handicap of being guided by someone who was unable to decipher their only set of directions, it took a bare five hours to traverse the hundred yards between the chapel and their goal. Before them lay a headstone which none of them could read, surrounded by flowers and candles. Come at last to the end of their mighty sidetracking, the Company of the Things spoke as one:

'Is that it?'


******

* The fact that his complaints appear to refer to an entirely mythical city, and to signs that apparently existed only in his own head, has clinched the argument for a large sector of the academic community.

Last edited by The Squatter of Amon Rûdh; 06-04-2004 at 05:07 AM.
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Old 06-03-2004, 05:48 PM   #183
Kuruharan
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Boots

“Is that what?” asked Earnur, in a bemused tone of voice. He was still trying to figure out whether he had been here before…or after…or not yet…or something.

“…almost as if I…climbed a fence…and read a poem late at night…” he muttered to himself.

“I thought you’d stopped drinking,” said Merisuwyniel.

“A poem?!” said Vogonwë, with just a touch too much eagerness.

“Ooooooo-oooo, ahhhh, ermmmm, ehhh…” babbled Kuruharan in a hurried attempt to change the subject.

“What?” asked everyone together. Well, actually, that’s not strictly true. Earnur was still struggling with his reverse case of déjà-vu. Vogonwë was still trying to find a word that rhymed with drunkard. The Gateskeeper was still trying to figure out what was so intensely fascinating about that thing they’d just been riding in. Pimpi was thinking about food. Leninia was wondering if Earnur was daydreaming about her. Orogarn Two was trying to figure out how to get revenge on everybody present. Soregum was trying to find something to give Pimpi. Chrysophylax could not care less about…anything, really. And last, but certainly not least, Merisuwyniel was asking herself something to the effect of, “When exactly did I lose control of this Quest?”

By process of elimination that left only Grralph (I think, it is getting so hard to keep track of everybody) to make the aforementioned inquiry as to the nature of Kuruharan’s…whatever it was.

“Uhhh,” continued Kuruharan in the same train of thought. He realized with a touch of embarrassment that he was flapping his arms about like a demented ostrich. Frantic to find some means of salvaging the situation (and he wasn’t quite sure how he’d gotten into this mess in the first place) he announced loudly to the Someridiculouswordhere-ship, “The ground is below us!”

Everyone took a minute to verify this particular piece of information. Yes. It did seem that the ground was below them. Everyone turned to look at him (yes, this time it was everyone).

Sensing that he had decisively seized control of the conversational high-ground, Kuruharan took advantage of his momentum. “That looks like a stone!” he said, pointing to the thing in front of them.

Orogarn Two strode forward and knocked on the rock. “Yes, it seems to be,” he confirmed.

“Do you have any point to this?” asked Merisuwyniel.

“Uhh,” said Kuruharan, as he folded his hands behind his back and looked up toward the heavens. (It looked like there was some sky up there, but he feared that he’d been driven off the conversational high-ground by frontal assault, so he made no comment on that). “No,” he said at last, and thankfully brought this entirely useless discourse to a close.
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Old 06-03-2004, 11:07 PM   #184
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"Idiots," Pimpi placed her hands on her shapely young hips, and rolled her eyes (large, blue, sparkly, you know the routine).

"I beg pardon," Earnur raised an eyebrow.

"It's a tombstone," she pointed with one hand, shaking her head. "Much like the tombstones of my parents at the Elven Farm. I spent many a day weeping and picking bird droppings off of those monuments, so I'd know what they looked like. This, I am sure, is one of the very same things. It has that 'look' about it."

"What look?" Merisu wrinkled her forehead and peered at the stone suspiciously.

"Oh... somber, meaningful... deadish," Pimpi shrugged. "Look, there is writing carved upon it."

"What does it say?" asked Soregum.

"Valiums, I don't know," Pimpi gave him an sideways look, afraid to make eye contact, suspiciously remembering some sort of meaningful fixation which had happened in a drugged up state. "I've never seen such odd script. And I read Vogie's poems."

Orogarn Two burst impatiently, "Then what in double-M do you mean by standing forward and calling use 'idiots'?"

"I was just trying to clear up the matter of the rock and the ground and all that," Pimpi flashed her eyes unguarded upon Orogarn.

"I know a headstone when I see one," Earnur put in. "I did, after all, refer to it as such if you would just scroll up and—"

"Enough," Merisu interrupted. "let us concentrate on the matter at hand. What does the tombstone say? Are there any who can decipher the strange runes?"

"I think it says 'Eat at Morey's'," suggested Kuruharan. "Morey is a cousin of mine, full name Moremerean, finest Dwarven Chef since—"

"I think," Vogonwë spoke up, overpowering the Dwarf with sheer height, "that whatever it says, it must form a rhyming pattern of AABA."

"You wouldn't know a rhyming pattern if it reared up and bit you on the nose," opined Orogarn Two.

Vogonwë sputtered but could not come up with a suffcient comeback before Merisu steered the conversation back to the stone. "Think, people... well... things; if it's a tombstone it must say something about the deceased party involved. Something such as 'Here lies Dumdum, son of Yumyum, son of Oink, Lord of Morona'. So at least one of these words is the name of said corpse."

"And why do we care again?" asked Leninia, where she stood to the side touching up her nails.

The Itship and their fair leader fell into silence, pondering this question. Earnur finally burst out babbling something pertaining to dead creators and feverish Entish scholars and fried green manuscripts. Yet, once he subsided, it was Grralph who happened upon a clearer answer:

"Because Ricky and Gucyberry ditched us in a broken time-space continuum, and we're bored and in need of a way to pass the time, such as it is?"

"Right," nodded Merisu. "Good enough reason as any. "
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Old 06-04-2004, 03:33 PM   #185
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Silmaril The Very Secret Diary of Falafel, Noble Steed to the Royal Elven Lady Merisuwyniel

Day Two of some alternate timeline

A nice pickle we’ve gotten ourselves into! I’ve experienced some strange things in the course of my mistress’ adventures, but now we’re lost in more dimensions than we’ve ever experienced before! “O tempora, o mores!” is what my old friend Tofu would have said, him knowing Latin and all. What times these are – no respect for noble steeds. Why, they just let the vehicle go where it wants to, without the guidance of a superior intelligence!

And we, the high-born offspring of Fellofftheroof and other noble sires, are relegated to being transported in this crowded cart, hitched behind that long, mithril-coloured monster, which is in turn hitched behind the horseless carriage. I don’t know how they feel with small rag-tag dangling behind them, but the rag-tag is tired and will be glad to stop dangling and stretch its legs properly.

The worst part of all is that these strangers have dropped off my mistress and the other two-legged members of the LostInTimeShip, and now I’ll never see dear mistress again, and she was so wonderful and splendid. I wish I had gone with her, I do. But she is bold, and brave, and clever; she will find a way to get us away from this strange place – nasty unhealthy parts, evidently. Just look at the littered meadows beside the road! What use is a nice hard road if people ruin the grass next to it?! And what sense does it make to get somewhere fast if it’s not beautiful when you arrive there?!

Just what is it that Merisuwyniel and the others want to see on that field that smells of death, I wonder? Some learned master called Nietzschthelion said that the Creator of Muddled-Mirth is dead, but how would he know? And what logic is there in visiting a dead person anyway?

Well, I’m getting seasick, what with speeding around the curves of these streets – and my hoofwriting is all but illegible, so that’s enough for now. Maybe I should just sleep until Merisu awakes me for a morning ride back in our own age of the world…
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Old 06-08-2004, 03:11 PM   #186
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White Tree Meanwhile, in another place and time....

Somewhere between the Smoggy Mountains and the village of Beer, angling southward toward the Forest of Canned Corn, and occupying a slightly different dimension of reality, was the Northern Division of Mantoes' Sub-Halls in Muddled-Mirth. In this sub-hall, which could quite easily be missed if you were still alive, deceased souls waited to be shipped off to The Big Hall way away in Valium. It was, in its own little way, the airport terminal of the afterlife. The staff were usually working their way back from The Big Hall to the plains of the living, and being so close to smelling the rain and breathing the fresh air, without actually being there, tended to make them a bit grumpy.

Sometime after the Itship left Leninia's dungeon and roughly before they tarried in Beer, Ffrallihoo the Dwarf was working the midnight shift at the front desk, accepting new applicants for transeferral. The midnight hour was usually a pretty busy hour in Muddled-Mirth, the ideal time for covert operations, burgleries, Orc scuffles, spider luncheons, battles in the rain, and (Ffrallihoo's favorite) death-by-fear-of-a-ghost-sighting. This particular depth of night was, however, fairly quiet, and Ffrallihoo was dosing. The closer she got to life, the more she felt the need to dose. In her previous life she had lived at Héartbréakhôtél-dum, a Dwarven stronghold of the First Age. Her life had ended during an altercation with a dragon, and she had spent a long and arduous thousands of years working her way back to the not-burnt-and-digested state. She looked forward to the day when she would be born again, perhaps as a little dwarfling or maybe, if she was lucky, a woodland species of bluebird.

To return to the point at hand, Ffrallihoo (her friends called her Ffralli) was dosing, snoring into her luxuriant red beard, and the night was unusually inactive, death wise.

Then a rabbit hopped through the door. It paused, wiggling its nose and blinking in the bright supernatural halôgen lights. With a snort, Ffralli awoke and shuffled a stack of papers, trying to look busy. "Rabbit," she said, rifling through the papers. "Let me see... Kevlar - Mammals - Rodentia - Rabbits. Please move to Room BB and await transportation, after filling out this form... can you fill out this form?"

The rabbit blinked, twitching its nose more vigorously. Luckily, Ffralli spoke Rabbit and was able to ascertain that no, the rabbit could not write. She muttered a word in the Dwarven language under her breath, then said, "Right, well, our dictation specialist just got promoted to Alive, so I suppose I'll have to help you with your form. Not that I'm supposed to have to... what? Oh, well, I'm sorry, but we'd all like to be alive again, wouldn't we? A... what? A dragon?" Her face softened. "Poor bunny. Dragons have the worst breath. Yes. Well. Let's get to it:

"Name (last, first) - Rabbit, Harvey.

"Age - you don't know? We'll say, oh, a couple months. You look like a young thing.

"Place of origin - Moredough...?" She paused. "Most Moredough residents are Orcs. Bloody Orcs. You would not believe how rude they are when they come throuh here. And you would not believe how many sweet little things come through here because of those terrible creatues, why, Death By Orc is such a large category that we have entire seperate forms for the different types of Orc Death.

"Well, anyway. Reason for death - dragon, yes, I know, nasty things, should be exterminated the lot of them. I've had so many dragon deaths in the last few months, you would not believe...! Well, maybe you would, poor bunny. I met the sweetest little dwarfling the other day, it brought a tear to my eye. If this keeps up Death By Dragon may outnumber Death By Orc! Right now, Death By Itship is in first place in this month's Office Stat Pool.

"Method of Death, A) Eating B) Burning C) The Burn and Eat D) Other. A, is it? Not surprising. You look very tender, and I mean that as a compliment, you know, no don't look worried! I haven't eaten in Three Ages, though the closer I get to Alive the more often I almost feel hungry..... Well, I think that does it. Take this form and hand it to... oh that's right, you can't. Just a moment, I'll close the desk down. Seems all the Orcs, Dragons and Itshippers are taking a break for the moment."

Ffralli scooped up the little bunny and carried it through a labyrinth of halls, stairwells, and filled-to-capacity waiting rooms attached to shipping docks, till she reached Room BB, which was supervised by Bügs Bünní, the erstwhile Amazing Talking Rabbit With Opposable Thumbs of Noodleor. From inside the room could be heard dull thumping noises.

Bügs was munching on a midnight snack (force of habbit), and paused only momentarily to mutter, "What's up, Doc?"

"It's Ffralli. Ffrallihoo to you," Ffralli frowned. "I have a new arrival."

Bügs stamped the form and waved them through, staring ahead with the zombie eyes of the over-worked dead. Ffralli carried Harvey into the room and looked around. It was a sad sight -- a whole room full of rabbits who were not breeding, sleeping, eating, or doing anything else remotely rabbitlike. They all sat in a catatonic state, waiting to be shipped to The Big Hall where slowly they would be skinned, gutted, deboned, shredded, and made into hasenpfeffer for the Elves of Valium. Only one rabbit showed any signs of life -- a pink fellow in sunglasses, who paced the length of the room, perpetuating a thumping rhythm on a large round drum.

Ffralli whispered in Harvey's soft little rabbit ear, "Watch out for that one. Rumor has it he's not really dead, he just wandered in here one day and he keeps going, and going, and going, and going..... Well, make yourself comfortable. I'd better get back to the desk." With that, she left him among the throng of listless bunnies, passing Bügs by on her way out and feeling a thrill at the vague hungry feeling she got from looking at the carrot he was spiritlessly devouring.

Just another night at the Northern Division.....

Last edited by Diamond18; 06-08-2004 at 10:13 PM. Reason: f-f-f-f-f-fralli....
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Old 06-13-2004, 06:40 AM   #187
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A piercing shriek, painful and uncouth, cut across the deliberations of Muddled-Mirth's mightiest heroes and heroines. It began like a tin whistle played with inexpert enthusiasm, but quickly rose to a deafening volume that caused hands to be raised to any ears that lacked supernatural protection. The gradually rising din was accompanied by a rhythm section of cursing and frenzied activity that is so often a by-product of invention. Faces turned white; eyes rolled in agony; knees buckled and Earnur's sword demanded instant retirement for the fiftieth time that day. The screaming rose in pitch and volume until finally it died away apologetically into an uneasy silence.

The Fellowship of the Things continued to stand with their fingers in their ears, looking decidedly unseaworthy. Those eyes that were attached to wiser brains began to scan their surroundings for the largest bird of prey in the universe, but most of the mighty band of warriors simply whimpered quietly and nursed their throbbing eardrums.

Suddenly Vogonwë spake those mighty words that yet are remembered in the realm of Workmud: 'Um... that squirrel's looking at us'.

Indeed it was. As all heads turned to follow his outstretched nose, they saw a creature stranger than any they had encountered in their travels thus far. In most respects it resembled an ordinary grey squirrel: it had the regulation bushy tail, the same beady eyes and the same slightly impudent bearing. Unlike a normal grey squirrel, however, this one was wearing a tiny steel helmet decorated with silver stars and a short khaki tunic emblazoned with brightly coloured ribbons. It was standing on its hind legs with a highly polished miniature swagger-stick tucked under one foreleg, but the most unusual thing about it was its choice of vantage point: it stood atop a veritable mountain of shining metal and tangled wires covered in sparkling lights and, they noticed with horror, numerous dents and repairs. Just as they were beginning to take in the flash of pearl and shining metal at the rodent's waist and the squat black tubes on a strap about its neck, the apparition spoke.

'I think I've found the source of that unusual behaviour, Doctor Tenant,' it observed calmly. 'You might want to have a look at this.'

'In a moment, Overdale,' answered a disembodied voice from behind the monstrosity. 'I've still not finished shutting down the SONAR array, and we don't want a repetition of last Thursday.'

Predictably, painfully, the Fellowship answered; and thus spake these mighty beings as one: 'Eh?'

The military mammal motioned at them to remove their fingers from their ears, managing to imply in so doing that they looked completely ridiculous. After five minutes of this and finally a brief and inept game of charades, their diminutive acquaintance spoke.

'I'm sorry about that, ladies and gentlemen, but something about you appears to have upset the Travestometer.'

The creature indicated the machine on which it stood with a sweep of a forepaw.

'My colleague, Dr. Tenant and I are researchers in the field of canonicity,' continued the squirrel. 'I am Doctor Overdale; my colleague, Doctor Tenant, will be with us shortly, and this is the fruit of our labour; the Travestometer: the most advanced device for the detection of adverse auctorial opinion that has ever been created. Sadly it's also the most temperamental, and your unexpected appearance has upset its sensors.'

'Look at this! Will you look at this?' came the voice from the machine again. 'This is the third RPM counter we've burned out today! What's happening around here?'

A silver object, stained black in places, described a delicate arc before neatly excising the first letter of a dearly beloved name.

'I told you,' said their new acquaintance. 'You really should come and have a look at this.'

'All right, all right! I'm coming, but it had better be good.'

A wild-eyed, wild-haired figure, clad in a long, stained white coat over some dusty black clothes that had seen better days, stepped into view from behind the tangle of machinery. It took one glance at the It-ship and swore colourfully.

'Yes, I think that might be the problem too,' agreed the squirrel suavely. 'The funny thing is that it's never reacted that way to physical people before. There's always been some literary connection.'

'Could it be them?'

The man's face was paper white, and his hand was moving towards a large switch on the side of the machine.

'What manner of man art thou, who maketh beasts to talk, and to conduct scientific experiments?' demanded Earnur manfully. 'Mayhap thou art a sorceror come to entrap us in this strange place.'

Another shriek began to emanate from the machine, although this time it had a more urgent and terrifying note. Dr. Tenant leaped behind it again and began to make feverish adjustments. Dr. Overdale sprang just as nimbly to a flat point before another panel and began to flick switches with practiced skill. Gradually the noise abated somewhat and the squirrel reappeared.

'He's not magic, he's my colleague,' explained the miniature scientist. 'Let's just say that if you're going to test experimental matter transporters, make sure that all the lab animals are locked up first.'

'My shieldmaidenly Elven intuition tells me that you are a soldier, Doctor,' quoth the fair Merisuwyniel. 'Perhaps you would care to join my group of heroic foils and I as we battle for the future of Muddled-mirth.'

This time the scream was like nothing that had ever been heard before. Glass objects shattered, pieces fell from the older stones and members of the Gallowship ran around in confused circles. Dr. Tenant's worried face appeared above a piece of the machine's casing.

'I think this is it, old boy,' he announced gravely. 'That woman looks to have Hobbit-blood, and one of those heroes looks like a reformed Wraith. The governing circuit for the cooling system just melted and I can't shut it down.'

The squirrel considered this for a moment before speaking. 'Run?' he suggested, and deserted.

The heroic instincts of the Gallowship took over at this moment, sending them sprawling behind the more solid monuments as the warning siren grew louder and yet more violent. Just as it reached the very limits of audible sound, half of the cemetary exploded.

Earth and debris flew hundreds of feet into the air, propelled upwards by a mighty gout of flame and vapour. Shrapnel peppered the entire area, smashing ancient monuments and breaking the tiles on the chapel's roof. One huge piece of ironmongery crashed right through one of its walls, causing the small building to collapse in a welter of noise and falling masonry. Just as silence fell, a massive section of casing slammed into the ground between Earnur's feet and stuck there, quivering like a giant spear. 'Eeeep,' he commented in a manly falsetto.

As the dust settled, a huge crater became visible that took up most of the area. Bones were scattered everywhere along with pieces of the Travestometer and lumps of stonework. The little chapel was reduced to one forlorn Gothic window, precariously balanced on a cracked section of wall that looked fit to collapse at the first provocation. A ghostly figure coughed its way out of the mirk, white coat flapping in tatters, a dog-eared roll-up clenched in its teeth. Doctor Overdale was sitting on his shoulder and the two were holding a muttered conversation that seemed to revolve around weapons, maiming and some sort of noble prize. Merisuwyniel took in the situation at a glance and gave the order that is remembered even to this day in the annals of Muddled-Mirth.

'Scarper!' she cried; and the intrepid band beat a hasty retreat towards the cemetary gates.
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Old 06-16-2004, 06:17 AM   #188
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Boots There is a light that doth go out.

Leaving the Two-timing-ship behind at Wolven Cot, Ricky had muttered something about, "Let them dig their own barrow," or, 'Everybody must get standing-stoned," or "To everything there is a seasoning." Then, laughing as he gave her attire an appreciative eye, Rickey made the following suggestion to Gucyberry, his heart moved with a joy that he at least did understand, "Hey pretty, I see a roadway down into the belly of a tale; let me show you where I'm at." Ricky, it appeared, was adept at picking up Seventh Age street lingo, a linguistic skill which puts his Third Age verse into particular perspective. Here was a fellow with a very common touch.

Dodging ten ton trucks, Ricky pumped the Monterey up to around ninety miles an hour on the A4144, not quite as romantic as Ye Aulde Forest Road, but the Eagles were as unreliable in these eco-destructive days as the room service at Hotel California. But by the time he got to Woodstock Road, he was doing fifty miles an hour and then he hit St. Giles. Swerving left and right, sometimes wide and sometimes slow, Ricky managed the Monterey fast slow fast fast slow, as Gucy sang in execrable rhyme with the Monterey's movements. It was Poe'try in motion.

"Hey Ricky Ricardillo! Whither are you going?
Rubber you are laying.
Scholars your exhaust is slaying,
on a tear in front of gown and town."

Before Ricky could jerrydol the handbrake or merrydol a reply, a rising din hit the air and a shock wave of monumental proportions rocked the Monterey. Quite literally, for just over their heads, this being a convertible, flew pieces of that tombstone which Pimpi had heroically endeavoured to decipher. Alas in disaster the lovers were sundered, for the stone was cracked between the names. The Heron piece crashed into the right fender and then fell onto the road whereas the Nightingale fragment twirled in midair and then fell amidst some brambles. Oh, too cruel fate that would sunder lovers, even those not doomed to be separated by closed windows between alternate universes. Is all yet but Dust?

But then the vehicle really rocked with aftershock: the trailer jack-knifed into the Berk and Babbler--aka the Sméagol and Fried--luckily missing a long and winding line dance that went ever on and on. The line dance consisted of Peter Hackson fans. These New Zéa-lôt-Länders were desperate to sub-create certain activities commonly called panned-fictions. They were known to 'dress the part' outside darkened houses of ill projections. Here at the Berk and Babbler they satisfied themselves with reproducing the legendary exploits of that illustrious boy band, the In the Pinklings.

Yet the havoc was not finished. Just then a dust cloud worthy of the Eve of Destruction overtook the Monterey. "Oh, Ricky, what are we going to do?" wailed Gucyberry. "We were supposed to meet the Knock-on-woodship at the cemetary gates, but they just went flying over head."

"It's all right, honey, calm down and don't fret. The enigma stops here. Let me Ilúminate you. The Do-your-thingship has petty valar like Keats or Yeats on their side, but this car's Wilde on yours."

At that, Ricky ditched the trailer where it had careened into the Berk and Babbler, Sub-creating an avant guarde installation as controversial as any shark in Headington. Oh, the horror! the horror! of Modernë Artë. The Council Planning Committee called it Trailer Trash--until the Southron Arts Council recognised the symbolic merit of the installation as a prophylactic against cost overlays. But this is to recall prematurely.

Ricky put the Monteray into reverse and sped backwards, slow fast slow slow fast, narrowly avoiding a double decker bus this time. Gucyberry began to suspect she could hear in this backward movement some theme other than Ricky's rhumba beat. She was sure she heard the renegade Melkorcamp singing about walkin' on after the thrill of living is gone and desire grew hot within her. Yet she found not the fire, for it was with Ricky, who rose a third time and spoke.

"Mighty is the Parodyship, but mine instrument shall be the more wonderful! Let me find them and show them a New Music wherein they shall discover things which they had not thought."

"Oh, Emu, they will cut to the 'shrooms as soon as they hear this," thought Gucyberry. But yay and foresooth and even though his navigation sucked, Ricky was able to bring the Monterey to the Scene of Wolven Cot, Just-In-Time, according to Gateskeeper's modern marketing strategies, in order to hear Merisue yell, "Scarper!"

For his part, the great Lord Etceteron was in the process of addressing a skull, "Alas, poor Yollers, I knew him well." Sadly, the shock of the disastrous disintegration of the Travestometre had confused this uprightly knight to the extent that he was mistaking his Tolk' for his 'Speare in the Great Cauldron of Story, believing he was reciting the text of The Return of the Prince of Denmark. He intoned further, "Is this the sword that was reforged I see before me?" when he was rudely interrupted by none other than the resident poet, Vogonwë, who had picked up a shank bone in preparation for a recitation of how the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone.

Vognwe began, "Frankly, I didn't know he wrote such bloody awful poetry." Thankfully for once, the Fanship knew only too well how much Vogwe knew about poetry, and so no one took up arms against such uncouth sullying of archaic verse, although clearly here were grounds volatile enough for a Jallignite or one of the Eury-Furies.

For his part, Soregum was walking around dazed and confused, as if hit by shrapnel from a lead zeppelin. He tried to hit on Pimpi but she pushed him away. Meanwhile, Orogorn Two was athletically running around the perimeter of the territory. He had been expecting to arrive at Wolverton Mountain, not Wolven Cot, and found these danged Oxfordian accents just a bit too much. Initially he was sure that these REBs had commited no travesty, for his rules would not abide it. He thought they had instead sustained a hit from the gun of the infamous father of Wolverton--or was it Riventon--Mountain who would not let any suitors reach his daughter, domiciled high up on Wolve/Riven/ton Mountain. For some reason Orogorn's head kept ringing with the name Dârwën, the girl who defied evolutionary principles of survival. He had heard tell of this story from Claude King when he had been perusing the ancient shared lore files from the loremasters at Billloard. For her part, Leninia was humming the accompanying song, "I'm the Girl from Wolverton Mountain" but no one other than she and Orogarn seemed to have any memory for ancient songs of the Western Country Beyond the Havens, Tol Nasherëa.

Of course, none of this interested Kuruharan much at all. He was more concerned with the three R's of reconnoitering, recovering and recycling, to say nothing of g'rave robbing. This was indeed his kind of rave, although he justified it as his Civitas Dutifreeum. Chrysopylax was quite a bit miffed that this destruction extended far beyond anything he himself could personally accomplish and so for once he held his tongue, er, fire.

Yet, when all is accounted for--and there is certainly much to be accounted for here--it was Grrralph who suffered the greatest discombobulation from the exploding Travestometre, being brought not-face to no-longer-face with the truly dead (to say nothing of course of the barrow itself, nor of its occupant, who was certainly rolling over and over, but not gravely so). Grrralph, who as one of the not gratefully dead, wasn't just a regular working stiff but was a pretender to a chain gang all of his own, what with his chainmail and breastplate, his vambraces and chain hose, his steel studs. That's a lot of heavy metal to be wrapped inside when the five o'clock whistle blows. In fact, when Merisue yelled, "Scarper," he replied, "Not now, dear, my head hurts" before he remembered that he was no longer Gravlox.

As the Waffleship gazed upon this vision it seemed to them that now they knew A Void which they had avoided before except in thought and word (although some of them were ready to void if a water closet could be found). And they would have become enamoured of the vision and engrossed with the gross had not Ricky surveyed the damage and said it was a shame this was so perishable, a veritable Naught-Eä. And he sent them forth in the Monterey to seek the Bôt-ankh-ic Gardens, where the ancient Pinus Viagara would soon restore them to full righteous vigour.

And so the Flitship flitted forth, all crowded this time into the back seat of the Monterey, from which they sought the High, as Oxford's main street was called, for temporary inspiration. They nodded on their way past Flirton College, where no work of any consequence had ever been done--for that was what the Berk and Babbler was for--until they came unto the ancient, sacred Pinus Viagara.

Here the narrative appears to be taken over in another hand.

Oh, they were out on a drive in Ricky's car. They hadn't driven very far. There in the road straight up ahead. The Pinus was drooping. They were sure it was dead. Rickey couldn't stop so he swerved to the right. They'll never forget the sound that night. The crying tires, the busting glass. The painful scream that they heard last:

"Ricky! You, you, you catastrophe, you."

~ ~ ~

Well when they woke up the rain was pouring down
There was Old Dame Pillow looking all around.
Something fluffy was under their heads.
She raised her hand and smiled when she said
Whoa, whoa, steady there, you've had a bad dream.
You're back in the Age that you knew you would miss.
The realisation of imagined bliss.
Now that you're here you'll hold it tight.
You?'l find your Truth and it'll be half-Right


Whereupon Merisuewyniel, spritely but decorously observed, "Well, that rent the very web of our story, didn't it?"

Kuruharan observed, "Sure did. I'm glad that can be counted on never to recur."

"Well, we did appear to enter History," remarked Earnur. "We might even have fused History and Legend."

"Do you think anyone will ever find our tale true?" interjected Vogonwë with some excitement, who had begun to commemorate their exploits in a work of revisionary history entitled "The Loam Plumbing of Wolven Cot," wherein he hoped to argue for chivary as the correct form of substantive for 'excessive torment delivered unto dead white male authors.'

"Pshk!" complained Pimpi. "I never got to examine Gucyberry's closet."

"No, no, no,' shouted Grrralph, as he swung a baseball around to punctuate his comments. "This has gone on entirely long enough."

"You mean the entire game thing?" posited Soregum.

"Well, we have been at it for longer than the original quest," opined Orogorn Two.

"No, I mean this blasted post,?"screeched Grrralph. 'It should have ended at the catastrophe thing. None of you know when to stop."

"Stop? There's such a thing as stop?" exclaimed Leninia, looking at Earnur with a gleam in her eye.

"We will have to agree on a stop command," observed Chrysopylax, "before we really do some damage."

"I think we should aim for a happy ending," interjected Merisuewyniel.

Suddenly, they all felt a heavy weight upon them, as if they were reluctant to let this quest go. It was clearly going to be a great struggle. There was a long silence. Someone passed around some pipeweed and they all puffed at the pipe, lost in thought.

"I had imagined a kind of holiday, a series of adventures," said Kuruharan, "with tickets, like a leisure resort."

"Not all of the wood has been uprooted," remarked MeriSue, hearing her bow call to her in Osaycan youSee.

"Well, we did save the Mire for the end, didn't we?" said Earnur, without a trace of smile on his face.

"As long as The Mire lies before us, we will be safe and comfortable," observed Orogarn Two, who had vague memories of what life used to be like in The Mire.

"We can't have that now," said Grrralph. "We need to have rising action and some kind of resolution."

'Aye," they all agreed. "We can't stay hidden from The Mire much longer."

To tell the truth, they were very reluctant to start. It was anybody's guess who would make the next post to lead them on.

Last edited by Bêthberry; 06-30-2004 at 09:00 PM.
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Old 07-01-2004, 09:55 AM   #189
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Grrralph then threw down the wooden club that had so mysteriously appeared in his hands. Where it had come from, he did not know and did not want to consider, being as the fact that he wore red sox beneath his thigh high red boots was his own little secret. His appreciation of the obscure rituals of the peoples of the distant land of of Zænd-Lôt had little to do with this tale.

He cleared his throat and looked off towards the west before asking nervously, "Do we now proceed on to the Pay-Havens where you plan to take ship into the Lands of Mith far over the seas?"

"Nay," replied Merisu, with a toss of her comely hair. As usual, a ray of light suddenly appeared to illuminate her lovely tresses as she spoke. "We go now to the fair to middlin' land of the Mire, where we can rest for a time from our adventures."

"What is the Mire like?" asked Grrralph hesitantly. Here, Pimpi interjected her response. "It is a place of rural fields and many cow pastures, for the people of the Mire love their food and especially their beef." And if Pimpi drooled a bit as she spoke, she must be forgiven, for she spoke of a place and a pastime dear to her heart.

"Then we will not be attacked there?" prodded Grrralph. "No," answered Pimpi with a smile. "We will not be caught up in a disater, tragedy or other devastation?" he queried. "No," replied Pipmiowyn patiently. "We will not be dumped into a dungeon?" continued Grrralph. "No," responded the half-Hobbit with an impassive face. "We will not be enchanted, bound, chained or otherwise bushwhacked?" asked Grrralph. "NO!" cried Pimpi with a scowl. "The Mire is a land of peace and plenty!"

Grrralph capered happily in the road. No ships, no ocean travel, no emotional or physical distress; the Mire sounded like a place he would like. He realized suddenly that it had been some time since a show tune had come to his mind, and, as he skipped almost happily along the path before the rest of the Very-Mistakenship (Pimpiowyn in particular), he began to sing.

"Oh the Mire-Folk and the Itship should be friends!
Oh the Mire-folk and the Itship should be friends!

The Mire-folk like to eat a cow,
the Itship makes things go ker-pow.

But thats no reason why we can't be friends..."


So the Thoroughly-Deludedship proceeded along the road to the west, and in the space of a day or so, found themselves amid carefully tended, if a bit muddy, fields on which stood quaint thatched houses of wattle and mud-brick. A hill stood before them which was riddled with holes and burrows like the work of huge termites. The sky was blue and the sun was bright. All seemed well...

"#@%$&%$#@," cried Kuruharan. The members of the Itship halted and turned to see what ailed the Dwarf. He stood at the side of the road, holding the rail of a fence with one hand and wiping at the bottom of his left boot with a leaf held in his other hand. "Cow patty!" he grumbled as he rubbed the sole of his footwear. And so it began...
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Old 07-01-2004, 01:29 PM   #190
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Meanwhile...Back in Moredough

In a grey stone cell, filled with chains, bamboo slivers, an iron lady, a rack and other assorted comfort items sat two figures. The first was Greedhog, Môgul's chief Korprat Loyer, and the second was a slightly rumpled, mostly reformed Uruk by the name of Gravlox. In front of Greedhog was a legal pad and an assortment of quills and ink pots, as well as a tome entitled "Rules of Uncivil Procedure". Next to these items of a professional nature was a half-eaten corned beef rueben, with a side order of potato salad, and a pot of coffee (black). In front of Gravlox was a nail file, several small courtesy bottles of hair care products bearing the mark of the Mantoes Hilton, a pocket mirror, a container of dental floss and a toothbrush. Gravlox himself was tied so tightly to the chair on which he was seated that it was a marvel he could move an eyebrow.

"We found these things in a hole beside the pile of leaves you used for bedding in your quarters, Gravlox," sneered Greedhog. "A few toiletries don't make you reformed you know." Nonetheless, Greedhog resolved to try the conditioner; Gravlox had such silky hair. "We know all about you now. We found a few survivors from Sourone's fortress at Gol Dulldor. Specifically, one Hazel Uruk..."

Gravlox groaned and closed his eyes. Greedhog smiled evilly, obviously relishing the prisoner's dismay and his rueben. "Yes, your ex-wife," the Loyer gloated. "She's taken up with Ssssam, the Thingwraith, now. And she's confirmed all that we've heard. You are a traitor! You refused to commit assault, battery and mayhem as a good Orc should, and you took up with Merisuwyniel and her foul Itship. In fact, we know that you've fallen for that she-Elf. But we understand that people sometimes fall from grace. So I'm going to offer you another chance. You can begin by telling me everything you know about each member of the Itship."

Gravlox yawned mightily, then looked mildly up at the Loyer. "You know, Ssssam and Hazel deserve each other..." he began. Greedhog interrupted his comment with a slap across the face with a wet trout that had materialized in the Loyer's hand. "The Itship!" he growled.

"Well," replied Gravlox. "There's Vogonwë. He's a magnificant poet and the best hand to hand fighter I've ever seen. If you attack them, you'd better send about twenty Orcs after him..." Greedhog scribbled eagerly on his pad. "Yes, yes, go on," the Loyer insisted.

"Then there's Moe, Larry and Curly, our wizards," Gravlox said. "Oh, and don't worry about the dragon, he can't blow fire and he's arthritic; he can barely move..."

"Moe...who?" snarled Greedhog. He consulted the transcripts from Gateskeeper's reports before looking up and glaring at his prisoner. "There's no Moe, Larry or Curly in the Itship..."

Gravlox smiled and rolled his eyes. "Woo, woo, woo, woo, woo," he hooted.

"You force me to use stronger measures," growled Grredhog. He stood and brushed crumbs from his Gucci suit. "Roll it!" he cried. Suddenly the room darkened and one wall began to glow. Insipid music began to play as words formed on the wall, one after another: "A Rankin-Bass production....'The Hobbit'"

"Aiiiiiii!" screamed Gravlox...
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Old 07-01-2004, 04:33 PM   #191
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Pipe And thus it continued....

Back in the Mire, the Midshipwo/men were mucking about in the literal mire on the road. Kuruharan continued to use vile language to express himself, and it is here again represented by various punctuation marks.

“^&%#! This isn’t a road, it’s a $!@#-($*#ing swamp!”

The Dipshippers ignored him, as was their wont, each of them also battling the muck. At one point Earnur drew his sword and heroically smote the ground, declaring in manful tones, “Thou shall not prevent us from passing!” Griper burst into tears as it sank to its hilt in the mire, but Earnur heeded it not, drawing it out and shaking it above his head. It was not clear what this accomplished, besides spattering Orogarn Two and the Gateskeeper with mud and other elements. Grralph, weighted down with his weighty cloaks, sighed as he pressed thinggedly along. Merisu, Pimpi, and Leninia wrinkled their noses and lifted their skirts as they skirted the puddles, but then they remembered that they had mounts to ride, and mounted them sensibly. Soregum’s little red-eyed pony, however, looked miserable as she sank to her knees, and so Soregum was obliged to remove his weight from her equine person and traverse the gloop on foot. Chrysophylax wrinkled his snout as the tenacious goop squished between his toes and coated his scales, though he did have to pause to admire his footprints. Only Vogonwë was unencumbered, leaping from his horse, the slow and mud-hassled Tweedledum, to walk lightly on top of the bog. He waved to the others and declared, “I go to find the sun!” It was not clear what he meant by this, but nobody bothered to ask as they feared it was a snippet of a poem.

“What an odd little land,” Merisu observed, kneeing Falafel forward through the mud. “The grass is beautiful and green, the sky is pristine blue, the palm trees sway lightly in the breeze, but whoever is in charge of the roads is just doing an awful job!”

“It is lush, isn’t it?” Leninia said, eyeing the pretty flowers alongside the road. “Lord Etceteron, would you be a dear and pluck that rose from its bush for me?”

Earnur had been slashing his way through the glop, and paused with brown splatters running down his face. “Rose bush?” he said slowly, looking around in a muddy daze. He spied the flowery flora in question and drew back the mighty Griper, with murder in his eye. He fell upon the rosebush and the rosebush knew fear. Leaves and petals flew into the air, showering the Whipshippers with a cloud of ravished pollen. Leninia and Pimpi lifted their faces to the sky and felt like Elven princesses on their wedding day, even though they did not, as far as we can tell, have Elven blood. Merisu on the other hand was a little nonplussed, even though she was Elven and probably a forgotten princess of some sort to boot.

“I say,” she said, “Lord Etceteron, what did that rosebush ever do to you?”

Earnur, done with vanquishing the bush, turned to her and quoth, “It was looking at me funny.” He then presented Leninia with a single, perfect pink rose, and returned to vanquishing the mud.

Vogonwë, moved by the spectacle, turned his face to the sun and quoth:

The bush was bushed
By Lord EE
With a whoosh
And the mud went ghoosh
Under the hoofs
Of the steeds
And the weeds
Grew abundantly
On the side of the road


“Where is everybody?” Merisu wondered out loud. “I see quaint little houses and odd little burrows with round painted doors, but no one is coming to welcome us.”

“Or throw rocks at Vogonwë,” Kuruharan added.

“I do hope we can find a bite to eat,” said Pimpi. “I’m starving.”

They came at last to a gate blocking the way over a bridge, and Merisu stepped up, calling out, “Yoo hoo? Is there anybody there?”

At that a window slammed, and a crowd of hobbits holding gigantic lollypops poured out of the house on the left. They opened the gate, and came over the bridge, circling around the Quipship. Then, to the Quipship’s surprise, they began to dance jerkily and sing; “We represent the Lollygag Guild, the Lollygag Guild, the Lollygag Guild. We represent the Lollygag Guild and we’d like to say something but we can’t remember the rest of this soooo-ong!” With that they each fell to one knee in the mushy path, extending their lollypops to the Popshoppers.

“Er,” said Merisu ingeniously.

One of the taller hobbits stood and said, “Welcome, friends, to the Mire! We represent the Lollygag Guild, otherwise known as the Welcome Committee and Road Crew. Mostly, however, we just lollygag with our lollypops. Would you care to join us?”

“Actually that sounds like fun,” said Vogonwë.

“Road Crew, eh?” Kuruharan stepped up. “I’d like to log a complaint with your customer service bureau, in that case, because your roads are simply rubbish.”

“Never mind that,” Merisu shook her head. “It’s kind of you to offer us your hospitality, but might you instead give us directions to the nearest inn?”

“Are you sure you don’t want to lollygag with us? We really recommend it. In fact, you might be sorry if you don’t,” the hobbit said, as he and his comrades ringed around the rosey just a little bit closer. “We take our welcoming committee duties very seriously.”

“Thank you, but no,” Merisu said patiently. “We want nothing more than directions to an inn.”

“And eatery,” nodded Pimpi.

“And spa,” Leninia paused from sniffing her rose to bat her eyelashes.

“And pipeweed stash… er… store,” Soregum tapped his empty pipe.

“And Chinese laundry,” said the Gateskeeper, ruffling his sodden robes.

“And karaoke bar,” said Grrralph, whose robes were self cleaning.

“And tattoo parlor,” said Orogarn Two, inexplicably.

“No,” said the leader. “You must lollygag with us. You must gag as we gag and lolly as we lolly, for it is written in the Lollygag Manifesto, ‘Let all who enter the gate go not from that place until they have first obeyed the whim of the welcoming committee’.”

Then Earnur fell upon the Lollygag Guild, and the Lollygag Guild knew fear.

They scattered from the roadway as his sword slashed among them, shattering their lollypops and griping that the sugar could not be good for its blade. “We shall pass!” he cried, a fey yet manful look in his eyes.

“I’m terribly sorry,” Merisu murmured as the hobbits ran screaming into the house and slammed the door. “I guess we’ll just find our way around by ourselves. You know how men detest asking for directions and all.” The Calamityship then shuffled through the gate and over the bridge, Chrysophylax munching on bits of shattered lollypop and Earnur swinging his sword menacingly.

Vogonwë quoth:

They represented the Lollygag Guild
And he smote their ruin
Upon the riverside
And we walk over their ruin
And it tastes pretty good

Last edited by Diamond18; 07-06-2004 at 11:24 PM.
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Old 07-07-2004, 07:12 AM   #192
Estelyn Telcontar
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“Vogonwë,” Merisuwyniel said in her sweetest voice, which was very melodious indeed, “would you please run ahead and see if you can find some sort of road sign?”

The rest of the Muddyship looked at her gratefully, as mud and Vogy’s poetry were too much of a bad thing. Vogonwë smiled and said, “Let a ploughman plough, but choose an otter for swimming, and for running light over grass and leaf, snow, or mud – an Elf.” No one bothered to mention that he was only a Half-Elf, as they feared a debate on that topic would delay his leaving.

Merisu looked back at the bedraggled group of inter-racial heroes and their sidekicks when something that had been nagging at the back of her mind suddenly occurred to her. “But where is the cart?” she exclaimed.

The others looked around blankly, mumbling “Cart?” “Which cart?” “When did you last see it?” “It was there just a minute ago.” One brave member of the group commented (from the back, where s/he could not be identified – not so brave after all, apparently… ) “Do we really need it?”

“Of course we need it!” Merisu answered indignantly. “The Entish Wood is the reason for our Quest! Without it, we could just turn around and go back!”

More than one of the others would have liked to answer, “Great idea”, but they dared not. Whether this was due to the fact that they realized that turning around would mean going back through the same mud can no longer be determined.

As it was, they had to retrace their steps anyway; the cart was not really far behind, but it seemed double the distance. “My legs would be more willing, if the mud were less mucky,” Orogarn Two declaimed more dramatically than the situation deserved.

Vogonwë reappeared at that moment. “There is a sign ahead,” he shouted.

“What does it say?” Pimpi asked.

“It says: CART GET STUCK?” he answered.

“D’oh!” Merisu replied inelegantly, with considerably less feminine practicality than was her wont.

“Is that all?” Leninia retorted impatiently.

“Perhaps there is a second sign with more information,” Orogarn Two suggested. (He was used to thinking of second things.)

“I’ll run back and look,” Vogonwë replied, and was off in an instant.

The rest of the Glopship applied themselves to the task at hand, literally, hitching up the noble steeds to attempt to pull the cart free.

“§$%&/*#!” Kuruharan shouted in exasperation. Chrysophylax, who thought he had been called by his business partner, flew up to volunteer his assistance, but the nature of his fiery help did not bode well for the wooden artefacts, so he was politely requested to stay clear.

Vogonwë came back just as the males were pushing at the back of the cart while the females pulled the horses at its head. “I found another sign!” he beamed.

“What’s on it?” Gatesy wheezed between “heave-ho”s.

“It says GIVE IT A PUSH,” he said.

They looked at each other, puzzled. “D’oh!” Pimpiowyn commented.

“That can’t be all,” Grrralph mused.

“I know, I know,” said Vogonwë in a flash of unexpected brilliance. “I’ll run back to see if there’s another.”

“Look for two while you’re at it,” Leninia suggested with a foresight that came from her Maydayian nature.

Off he ran yet again. Merisuwyniel had paused to think while the others were pushing and pulling, for she carried the responsibility, the heaviest burden of the Quest by far. Now her face lit up with an idea. “I have it!” she exclaimed. “Let’s take the biggest pieces of Entish Wood off the cart, then we should be able to get it out of the mire.”

“I thought we were going into the Mire?” Etceteron queried.

“No, the mire, not the Mire,” their intrepid leader answered. “It makes a difference if you capitalize a word.”

They removed the huge Entish Thighs from the cart, strapping them onto Chrysophylax’ mighty back, where they deemed them to be out of danger. Then they pulled and pushed the cart free, finally able to continue their journey.

Before long Vogonwë rejoined them.

“Well?” Pimpi asked impatiently.

“There was another sign,” he said, carrying on hurriedly as he saw the flash in his beloved’s eyes. “It says: YOU’LL SOON BE AT…”

“Huh?” Leninia commented eloquently.

“There was one more,” he added. “It had a name on it: THE IVY BUSH

“I recognize that!” Soregum shouted excitedly. “It’s an inn! We must be getting close to the heart of the Mire.”

Their faces lit up at the prospect of a homey fire, food, drink, and beds. With renewed effort, they pushed on until they finally stood before the door of a low building. The sign that swung above it proclaimed that this was indeed “The Ivy Bush”. Dusk was falling, and the lights that shone through the window shutters looked inviting. Next to the house was another building with a dilapidated sign that they could barely make out in the fading light. “Sethamir’s Stables and Chinese Laundry”, Merisuwyniel read. Turning to the others, she smiled. “It looks like we have everything we need right here!”

Last edited by Estelyn Telcontar; 07-07-2004 at 09:54 AM.
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Old 07-07-2004, 07:36 AM   #193
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The Eye

Ever since entering the Mire, Soregum had kept his cloak and hood tightly wrapped around him for fear of being recognised. He had even pulled on his over-sized boots, although that was largely on account of the exceptionally poor state of the road.

“Can’t think why they have let it get into this state,” he had muttered to the others apologetically. “Although it has been a while since I was last here.”

At this, Grrralph had peered at him suspiciously.

As they stood outside The Ivy Bush, Merisuwyniel turned to her muddy and bedraggled companions.

“Now, remember,” she said in a commanding yet feminine voice. “We seek here only a hearty meal and a good night’s rest. I don’t want any of you getting us into trouble.”

“As if we would,” the Trouble-Magnet-Ship replied in unison and, astoundingly, without any hint of irony.

“Just try to blend in and don’t do anything to attract attention to yourselves,” she continued.

“And just how are we supposed to do that?” asked Orogarn Two, surveying the distinctly un-Hobbit-like company.

“This is the only road that leads to the Pay-Havens,” replied Merisu sharply. “There will be many travellers in an inn such as this.”

“Yeah, and I suppose they are all accompanied by Dragons too,” muttered Kuruharan.

All concurred that the Dwarf had a point and it was agreed that, in the interests of discretion, Chrysophylax should find himself a secluded spot to hide away while the company tarried at the inn.

“Keep yourself out of sight,” instructed Merisu. “And don’t go worrying livestock or toasting Hobbits.”

“Of course not,” replied Chrysophylax obligingly, his golden eyes glinting as he smiled inwardly in anticipation of the fun that he would have tonight.

As the great Dragon launched himself into the air and flew off, Merisu turned and, stooping, entered the lively inn.

At once, the room went silent and all eyes turned to the newcomers. A dart, missing its target, went flying into the wall. Trying to look as inconspicuous as they could (and failing miserably in the effort), the Sore-Thumb-Ship braved the glare of fifty pairs of Hobbit eyes and made for an empty table in the corner.

“Well that went well,” muttered Kuruharan.

“Oh, you think so?” said Earnur. “I was worried that we might have been noticed.”

Once they were settled, Merisu stood up and made her way to the bar.

“Good evening, sir. We require board and lodgings for the night, and stabling for our animals,” she said to the landlord.

“Yoom bee strayngerz in theezle ‘ere parrtz, bain’t yoom?” he said, peering at Merisu suspiciously.

The Shieldmaiden blinked momentarily, before replying in perfect rustic Hobbitish.

“Aye, tharrt weem bee, koind zirr. Weem bee in need o’ vittles n’ laardgin’ n’ stayblin’ fo’ theezle ‘ere noight.”

“Warrll, woi daadn’t yoom zay zo? Yoom beez in larrk. ‘Appen oi’ve garrt warrn spayre roome yoom can ‘arrve.”

“Now look here, my good man – er – Hobbit,” roared Lord Earnur Etceteron, striding up to the bar manfully as fifty Hobbit hands reached for their sling-shots. “We don’t want any trouble. We simply …”. His voice faltered as a well-placed knee cut him short in his prime.

“Just let me handle this,” Merisu hissed at him. Wincing, he turned and limped back to the table somewhat less manfully.

Within the hour, the horses and pony had been stabled in the adjoining building and a young Hobbit lass was serving the weary travellers with assorted food and drinks (in predictably prodigious quantities). Soregum launched into a particularly succulent leg of lamb, taking care to keep his face shrouded. Grrralph sat opposite him, his red eyes flickering like burning coals.

“So your journey’s over, my friend,” he said at length.

“Mmph ebble ob?” replied the Hobbit through a mouthful of beer and lamb.

“When we met you, you said you were on your way back to the Mire,” continued Grrralph. “Well, here you are.”

“Yes,” replied Soregum, swallowing hastily. “But now I think of it, it occurs to me that you need someone like me on this journey of yours.”

“Oh yes,” said Merisuwyniel. “And why should that be?“

“Yes, what use could someone like you possibly be on a heroic quest such as that with which we are charged – er - with?” interjected Vogonwë dramatically, seizing on the seeming opportunity to rid himself of this would-be rival for Pimpiowyn’s affections.

“In Grundor, little one, we let the children play when there’s adults work to be done,” laughed Orogarn Two, tousling Soregum’s hair patronisingly.

“Looks like your application’s about to be terminated, my friend,” added the Gateskeeper, smirking.

“No hard feelings, eh, old bean?” chimed in Earnur, proffering a hand.

“Face facts, darling, you’re just not wanted. Why don’t you take a hike?” spat Leninia, who had still not forgiven Soregum for outcome of the singing contest.

“Loser,” added Kuruharan, warming to the conversation.

“Well,” continued Soregum, steeling himself. “It seems to me that any delegation to Valleyum on behalf of the Free Peoples of Muddled-Mirth should comprise representatives of each race. You have an Elf, a Half-Elf, a Dwarf, assorted Men, er - whatever it is that Grralph is, and, of course, various Entish fragments. Even a Dragon. But you have no Hobbit.”

“The position of Hobbit is already taken” snorted Vogonwë, inadvertently coughing up a hairball.

“But Pimpi is only Half-Hobbit,” said Merisu. “Soregum is right. We need a full compliment if our company is to be truly representative.”

“Well, it’s no hair off my toes,” replied Pimpi, draining her fifth mug of ale top and letting fly with an impressive belch. Soregum looked at her in admiration as Vogonwë retrieved his fallen crest.

“What?” she exclaimed as he glared at her. “I’m just blending in like Merisu told us to.”

It was not long before their jugs of ale had run dry and Soregum, his eagerness to prove his worth getting the better of him (not to mention the six pints he had already downed), volunteered to have them refilled. But as he crossed the room, jugs in hand, his hood slipped.

[Editor’s note: For ease of reference, the following passages have been translated from the rustic Hobbitish.]

“Well, well! As I drink and smoke! If it isn’t Mercasor Gummidge!” exclaimed a grizzled old Hobbit. “There’s a face I haven’t seen in nigh on fifty years.”

Soregum stopped abruptly, his mind racing as he desperately tried to think of some way out of the situation. Looking back, he saw that his erstwhile companions had all taken a sudden and intense interest in the patterns made by the beer-stains on their table. There was nothing for it.

“Dodo Muddifoot,” he said with a heavy sigh. “How goes it with you, old friend?”

“Badly, as it happens,” replied the old Hobbit darkly. “But that’s quite beside the point. Where have you been all these years, Murky you old rascal?”

Inevitably a crowd had gathered round, and Soregum was forced to sit and spend the next hour fabricating exotic tales to account for his fifty years’ absence from the Mire. At length, the conversation turned to the Mire itself.

“These be queer times,” said Dodo Muddifoot ominously. “They say there’s wolves abroad on the North Moors at night.”

“Aye,” agreed Holdfast Buttonbelly. “My cousin Cal, him as works for old Mr Bodkin at Overthehill, said he saw a beetle big as a house up beyond Spooky not long back.”

“Stuff and nonsense,” sneered a mean looking fellow who had sat himself opposite Soregum. “Fire-side tales and stories fit for nought but to scare the bejeepers out of the young’uns.”

“Hush you, Ned Candyman,” said a pale Hobbit who had arrived shortly before looking rather shaken. “Just ten minutes hence, I saw a Dragon flying over old Farmer Gobbins’ marshmallow fields.”

“You saw a Dragon fly? That’s nothing! I saw a Horse fly,” declared Flabby Bulgebottom.

“I saw a Front-porch Swing and heard a Diamond Ring,” added Old Soakes.

“Well I’d been done seen about everything, when I saw an Oliphaunt fly,” intoned old Daddy Twobellies solemnly.

At this, the Hobbits could contain themselves no longer. As one, they all collapsed in great merriment. All except Ned Candyman.

“Get with it Daddy-oh!” cried Dodo Muddifoot, tears rolling down his face. “You’ve got to make it believable. Elsewise you lose the effect. Flying Oliphaunts indeed! That’s just plain ludicrous.”

“But I did see a Dragon,” said the newcomer quietly.

“Yeah, right!” snarled Ned Candyman as he headed for the door. “Well, it’s an early start for me tomorrow, Dragon or no Dragon. Sweet shops don’t run themselves you know, and business has been mighty brisk of late.”

As the confectioner departed, the mood became sombre once more. Dodo Muddifoot drew close to Soregum conspiratorially.

“All the same Murky, things ain’t right here in the Mire,” he said in hushed tones. “Not since old Sparkey* arrived.”

“Sparkey?” said Soregum blankly.

“Yes,” continued Dodo. “He turned up four weeks ago with a gang of ruffians from Beer in tow. Selling sausages in bread rolls he was. Well, as you can imagine, they were selling like hot dogs.”

“In no time, Ned Candyman was in league with him,” added Daddy Twobellies. “That’s why his shop is doing so well, you see. New recipes he says. But everyone knows it’s Sparkey behind it all.”

“Yes, there’s something queer in them lollipops, and no mistake,” Old Soakes chipped in. “Anyone taking a bite out of one of them comes over all strange like, if you get my meaning. Lollygags they call themselves, making out they’re all friendly like. Truth is, they’re just doing Sparkey’s bidding.”

“So, where’s this Sparkey now?” asked Soregum.

“Up at Bog End,” replied Dodo. “Holed up with his ruffians. He’s taken young Lotto Boggins-Ssmythe under his wing. And now we all have to do as he says. Those as don’t get dragged off to the Recycle-Bins.”

“There must be something you can do,” said Soregum.

“Not on our own there ain’t, Mercasor Gummidge. Mind, if a hardy bunch of adventurers were to come along …”

“Funny you should say that,” smirked Soregum looking back towards the Oblivious-ship.
_____________________________________

* A corruption of the Orcish, Sparkû, meaning “Cable-Man”

Last edited by The Saucepan Man; 07-14-2004 at 06:51 AM.
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Old 07-13-2004, 09:55 PM   #194
Kuruharan
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Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Boots

Horrified by the advances the plot had made of recent days, Kuruharan decided that he had to do something fatuous and completely irrelevant (if that was at all possible). Thankfully, the excursion to the Seventh Age had given him a business idea that he hoped that the locals had not come up with yet. He casually strolled up to the bar and pulled something out of his robes.

“What’s that you’re holding in your hand?” asked the bartender.

“A bottle,” replied Kuruharan.

“A bottle!” cried the publican, “Brilliant!!!! What’s it do?”

“Why,” said Kuruharan, “you take the bottle, fill it with your local house specialty and then you drink it!”

“Drink beer from a bottle?!” shouted the barkeep, “Brilliant!!!” He polished off the bottle. “Explain it to me again!”

“Well,” said Kuruharan (even more enthusiastically), “I take this ‘umble glass bottle, fill it with the resident frothy brew (*sniff*sniff* quite potent I must say, what is it made of?), then you take it outside, go down to the glen (or since this is the Mire, the fen), and there you drink it!”

“Drink beer at a picnic!!!” bawled the publican, “Brilliant!!!! What else you got?!”

“Not only have I created a better way to store your brew, I’ve created a better way to carry the better way to store your brew!” enthused Kuruharan.

“Wot’s that?” demanded the bartender.

“This,” said Kuruharan, as he set a particularly cheap cardboard box holding six bottles inside. “Behold! The six-pack!!”

“A six-pack,” howled the barkeep, “Brilliant!!!! Wot’s it do?”

“It is a way to carry six beers at the same time,” said Kuruharan.

“Carry six beers at the same time,” interjected Daddy Twobellies and Dodo Muddifoot at the same time. “Brilliant!!!” they yelled. “Jinx, you owe me a six-pack!!!” they screamed at each other in unision. “One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten!!! Jinx, you owe me a six-pack!!!” they simultaneously screeched in full throat.

Thirty minutes and sixty six-packs between the two of them later, Daddy and Dodo managed to frustrate the final resolution of their jinxes by passing out simultaneously.

“Yes, I think that qualifies as being pretty fatuous,” announced Kuruharan, jingling is earnings. “Anyway, where was I?”

“According to the script of the commercial, I was about to suggest that I drink all six beers at the same time,” said the barkeep after a moment’s thought.

“Good idea,” said Kuruharan. “Here, have a little swig of this to chase it down with,” the dwarf said handing over a bottle. “This is on me,” came words that he had never uttered before.

As something slipped in the very fabric of the cosmos, the bartender polished off the six-pack and a bottle of Snakeoil.

wheeze…thasss…*cough*…good,” moaned the publican, when he could breathe again.

“Isn’t it,” said Kuruharan dryly. “By the way, I’ve also invented another wonderful device.”

“Do…tell…” gasped the bartender in a ghost of a voice.

“It is called a bag,” said Kuruharan. “You put things in it and can then carry them with ease.”

“Howsh it work?” inquired the bleary barhobbit.

“I’ll show you,” said Kuruharan, sticking his hand into the till and pulling up a fistful of coin and dropping it in the bag.

“Ohh…” mumbled the bartender. “Brilliant!!!”

“I think so,” said Kuruharan, pulling the till up onto the bar so that he could empty it more easily.

After a moment’s awkward pause the bartender spoke again. “Mighty *hic* strange happenings in the Mire of late,” he said as his head fell on the bar.

“So I heard,” said Kuruharan, industriously scooping money into his bag.

“All sorts of animals have been sprouting wings, accordin’ to some,” droned the publican, as his jaw dropped out of sight. “I just saw a pink, winged oliphaunt myself! Some have even said that they have seen a dragon.”

“Dragon’s are mythical,” replied the dwarf, tossing plugs out of the till.

“Then there are the wonderboxes,” whispered the bartender, as his forehead sank below the bar. “Sparky brought them. You press a button and colorful pictures appear in stupefying patterns. It is most soporific. It can even show pictures of those horses and oliphaunts that fly.” Only the barkeep’s hands remained on the bar.

“The next thing you’ll know you’ll be saying that Balfrogs have wings!” said Kuruharan as he swept the remainder of the till into his bag.

The bartender succumbed to the inevitable and plopped down on the floor.

Kuruharan succumbed to the inevitable and prepared for the usual hasty and unlawful exit.

Last edited by Kuruharan; 07-13-2004 at 10:38 PM.
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Old 08-07-2004, 08:56 PM   #195
Thenamir
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Ned Candyman was in a merry mood as he ambled, a little unsteadily, down the street towards his home and bed, several good pints of ale-fire warding off the night chill and causing him a pleasant loss of short-term memory. No amount of free-flowing beer, however, could have kept Ned from being frozen in his tracks by the booming basso profundo, like unto the flatulence of the gods, which hailed him from an unlit alleyway. Ned turned to the sound, willing himself to run away but unable to resist that malodious sweetness -- the voice of the used-car-salesman of Valleyum, a well-coiffed news-anchor, and a home-shopping-network huckster all rolled into one. Step by painful step he approached the shadowy figure lurking in a half slouch over his hyen...er, pony cart. Then he came within the range of the heavenly smell of warm meat sausages and fresh-baked buns, and the last of his resistence melted away.

"You know whom I seek. They are near, yes?" came the voice again, tinged with just a bit of eagerness held under tight rein, as the silhouetted man began assembling something in the darkness, sending another draught of the fell aromas in Ned's direction.

"Yes," said Ned thickly, as if through a drugged euphoria, "they are taking their ease (along with most of the food) at The Ivy Bush, Mister Sparkey sir."

"Excellent." said the voice as if pronouncing a pontifical blessing upon the benighted sap. "Here, a reward for your...cooperation. And some lollipops for your children." Whereupon the still-hidden figure reached toward Ned out of the darkness and handed him a simple hot dog with mustard, onions and "secret sauce." Ned acccepted eagerly, spitting fragments of thanks at the retreating figure as he departed towards the nearby inn. Ned shuffled off towards home again. Ten steps down the road, he wondered why his breath tasted of onions, and where did all these crumbs on his jerkin come from...

Ten minutes later, Sparkey, heretofore known as Sauerkraut of Dorktank, had taken a position with his cart down the street from the rooms soon to be occupied by the EverHungry-ship. He stoked the fire under the sausage-boiler, and then began pumping a bellows which blew vast quantities of hotdog-scented air up and towards the inn. He knew that where there were hobbits, even half-hobbits, the smell would bring them out. "Stupid Riders with their Black Breath...you can catch more hobbits with hotdogs than halitosis, I always say," murmured Sauerkraut as he worked.

==========================

"...I'm sorry, miss, er..."

"Pimpiowyn!" exclaimed Pimpi and Vogonwe in unison. Vogonwe glared at Soregum, who was still chatting it up with a group of fellow hobbits and had not yet returned with the ale he'd promised to refill. Not that the bartender was anywhere in evidence.

"Er, miss Pimpiowyn, but there ain't nuthin' left in th' larder! You and your gatherin' 'ave eaten us clean out!"

"And you call this an inn! When I go to an inn," Pimpiowyn explained with a rising annoyance, "I expect to be able to eat in the inn, that's why it's called an "inn"! Now, because your inn has run out, we have to go out, which is the opposite of inn, and find more victuals to bring inn from out, and that's just not right! Out is out, and in is inn -- and in that your inn is now on the outs with me, and three outs ends an inning, out from inside the inn into the outside I go in search.."

Gateskeeper leaned over to Earnur and Orogarn Two, whispering, "Obviously Vogonwe's influence is beginning to rub off on her." The two men chuckled, until Pimpi interrupted her rant so suddenly that they thought she must have choked on something except that her plate was (as usual) empty. Pimpiowyn's food-sensitive schnozzola had detected a momentary whiff of something...delicious. "I'm going out..." she started, but was interrupted yet again by the rest of the Heard-it-all-before-ship in unison complaining "Don't start that again!" Vogonwe proffered, "Don't go too far from the i...er, the Ivy Bush, dear. You might get lost!" he added at the rapidly retreating figure heading for the door. After a few moments, Soregum and his fellows, apparantly catching the same whiff as Pimpi, followed her out the door.

At this moment Kuruharan rejoined the group, walking a bit stiffly and carrying a canvas sack that appeared to be rather heavy and that jingled a bit when he hiked his short form up onto the chair. The others were too tired, too full, and too engrossed in discussing tomorrow's plans to notice. Before long, though, fatigue (and ale, obtained by helping themselves) overtook them, and they made their way in ones and twos off to their rooms, except for Kuruharan and Vogonwe -- the dwarf to hide his booze-pilfered takings in the cart, and the elf to find his beloved overgrown half-hobbit. Gateskeeper cleaned and reloaded his pipe, and excused himself outside to smoke it.

Upon reaching the outside Vogonwe searched up the street and down again, finally espying the tavern hobbits and Pimpiowyn milling about a small cart a few blocks away and started towards the cart at an easy pace. But something was...wrong...Pimpi was in the presence of food, and it certainly smelled good, but was not eating. He trotted up to the cart to just as Pimpi began screaming -- the smell was maddening, but no one was attending the cart!

Kuruharan walked around back of the inn to the stables and parking area, where the animals and their cart were being kept. He climbed aboard the roomy cart and found his strongbox-pack, stashed away his new sack of stolen loot...but something was...wrong...this cart wasn't roomy, it was supposed to be overloaded! The Entish Thighs were gone! Kuruharan spun around in the cart and caught a glimpse of a figure disappearing behind the barn, while on the ground beside the cart, there lay a crumpled paper hat.

================================

Sauerkraut, congratulating himself on a flawless diversionary tactic, ignored the protestations of the Entish thighs in his own covered wagon and was about to mount up when he heard a voice already in the seat call down, "going somewhere?" Gateskeeper, puffing on his pipe, looked down at the shocked Sauerkraut. "Wait," melliflowed the erstwhile sausage vendor, "I know you."

"That's right," said the Gateskeeper in a tight voice, made all the tighter by the Ivy Bush's ale, all the while blowing smokerings that shaped themselves into smiley-faces. "I used to be your message boy back at Dorktank. I've got a new employer now, and I'm afraid that someone already has dibs on these Ent parts."

"You mean that pitiful band you've been travelling with? That insufferable shieldmaiden and her misfit tagalongs?"

"Not exactly."

Gateskeeper whipped his staff around, and let fly with a burst of magic with the word "McAfee!!" Sauerkraut was knocked back against the side of a nearby storage building. Sauerkraut, after a moment's shock, responded with "Norton!!" which caused Gateskeeper to be slammed to the ground and begin spinning in circles. Gateskeeper shot back with "Yahoo!!", which caused Sauerkraut to do somersaults while making funny faces. Sauerkraut gathered his strength (not an easy thing when making faces) and hurled another mighty curse, "Napster!!" Gateskeeper began break dancing uncontrollably, but still managed to say, "Is that all you got?" before crying "PamelaAndersonLee.com!!" Even the aging Sauerkraut was distracted by that one, but he was able to bellow one last command, "GOOGLE!!!" -- which would have left Gateskeeper barking like a dog on all fours, except the barrage was deflected by a thrown shield. They both looked up in surprise to see the rest of the Not-Well-Restedship in the street, armed to the teeth (and most of their hands) facing them down.

Merisuwyniel stepped forward and said, "This insufferable shieldmaiden, for one, wants those thighs back. Undamaged, thank you."

The voice of powerful resonance, like the rumblings of the unfed stomach of a cave troll, sneered at them, "You have no idea who you're dealing with." Raising an aged yellow hand off-stained with misfired mustard, he issued a silent summons. From nearest to that tumeric-spiced hand Gateskeeper sensed a great power flowing, and cried out "SPAM O-Mail! You're infringing my khopy-wight!!"

"Nay," came again the voice, and it's tone was changed, akin to the gentle belching of Mantoes, "SPAM o-mail is unsolicited. This is my own all-volunteer mailing list. Behold!" And out of every dark corner, from behind every trash can and hay-bale, from every concealment large enough to cover a hobbit, arose from their hiding places, the lolligaggers and the hot-dog entranced people of both Beer and the Mire, surrounding and vastly outnumbering them. Among the zombies was a very bloated-looking Pimpiowyn, an odd smile on her otherwise expressionless face...

Last edited by Thenamir; 08-09-2004 at 08:47 AM. Reason: spelling, grammatical, and other errors, and some slight additions to the prose.
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Old 08-09-2004, 01:50 PM   #196
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Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
A great stillness had fallen over the entire crowd, but no one bothered to pick it up. Suddenly a voice spoke, its very sound an enchantment. Those who listened thought that it was a delight to hear it speaking, all that it said seemed wise and reasonable, and desire awoke in them by swift agreement to seem wise themselves.

“Well?” it said with gentle question. “Why must you disturb the rest? Will you give us no peace in the Mire by night and day?”

The Listening-Ship saw a figure standing before them: an old man, swathed in a great cloak, the colour of which was not easy to tell, as the fact that it was night meant that it was also dark. His face was long, with a high forehead and deep darkling eyes, hard to fathom (see above note).

“But come now,” said the soft voice of Sparkey, the wizard once known as Sauerkraut, for he it was. “Several of you at least I know by name. Gateskleeper I know too well to have much hope that he seeks help or counsel here. But you, Merisuwyniel, shieldmaiden extraordinaire, are declared by your feminine yet practical designer outfit, and still more by the lovely countenance of your noble Elven heritage. O worthy daughter of Vinaigrettiel the Fair! Why have you not come before, and as a friend? Much have I desired to ra – um, see you, beauteous maiden, and especially since your adventures began, to save you from the unwise and evil counsels of your travelling companions. Is it yet too late? Despite the injuries that have been done to me, in which the members of the Destruction-Ship, alas! have had some part, still I would ra – ahem, save you, and deliver you from the ruin that draws nigh inevitably, if you ride upon this road which you have taken. Indeed I alone can ra – err, aid you now.”

Merisuwyniel opened her mouth as if to speak, but she said nothing. She looked at the face of Sauerkraut and seemed to hesitate. Her companions stirred at first, murmuring with approval of the words of Sauerkraut; and then they too were silent. Over their hearts crept a shadow, the fear of a great danger: the end of Muddled-Mirth in a darkness to which Merisu was leading them, while Sauerkraut stood beside a door of escape, holding it half open so that a ray of light came through. There was a heavy silence, so heavy that it was in danger of falling again.

It was Orogarn Two who broke in suddenly. “The words of this wizard stand on their hands,” he growled, gripping the hilt of his sword. “In the language of Dorktank help means ruin, and saving means ravishing, that is plain. But we do not come here for fillings.”

“Peace!” said Sauerkraut, and for a fleeting moment his voice was less suave, and a light flickered in his eyes and was gone. “I do not speak to you yet, Orogarn, third cousin, 84 times removed, of Isildur,” he said. “Far away is your dental city and small concern of yours are the cavities of this land. But it was not by design of yours that you were drilled by them, and so I will not blame such bridge as you have made - a stable one, I doubt not. But I pray you, allow me first to speak with the Elven princess, whose mother was once my friend.

“What have you to say, Merisuwyniel? Will you have peace with me, and all the aid that my knowledge, founded in long years, can bring? Shall we make our bed – um, counsels together concerning the wooden artefacts, and repair the Ent-That-Was-Broken with such success that it shall flower fairer than ever before?”

Still Merisuwyniel did not answer. Whether she strove with anger or doubt none could say. “We will have peace,” she said at last, with an effort. Several of the Spellbound-Ship cried out gladly. She held up her slender yet strong white hand. “Yes, we will have peace,” she said, “when you and all your works have perished. You are a liar, Sauerkraut, and a corrupter of women’s reputations. A lesser daughter of Elven royalty am I, but I do not need to lick your sauce from my fingers. Turn elsewhere with your rotten hotdogs.”

The Enchanted-Ship gazed at her as if startled out of a dream. Harsh as Joe Cocker their leader’s voice sounded in their ears after the muzak of Sauerkraut.
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Old 08-11-2004, 10:34 AM   #197
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Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Boots

END OF DISK TWO!!!! DO NOT INSERT DISK THREE UNTIL DISK TWO HAS BEEN THOROUGHLY VIEWED!!!!

STOP THAT!!! I KNOW YOU HAVEN'T WATCHED ALL OF DISK TWO YET!!!

NO!!! WAIT!!! YOU ARE NOT LISTENING TO ME!!! I SAID...

***WHAP***

We apologize for the rather belligerent tone of the earlier portion of this announcement.

NO WE DON'T!!!

Yes we do.

NO WE DON'T!!!

Yes we do!

NO WE DON'T!!!

YES WE DO!!!

NO WE DON'T!!!

GO ON!!! PUT IN DISK THREE NOW!!! DO IT!!!!

NNNOOOOOO!!! YOU CAN'T!!!!

(Sounds of violent struggle erupt off camera)
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Old 08-11-2004, 11:12 PM   #198
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"Cabbage and coconuts!" Sauerkraut hissed, and they shuddered at the hideous change, as well as the disgusting culinary combo. "What is the house of Vinaigrettiel but a wretched cafeteria where pointy-eared waiters sing silly 'fa la la lally' tunes and serve wilted greens soaked over with sour wine? Too long have they escaped the giblets themselves. But the cook comes, slow in the simmering, blackened and hard in the end. Fry if you will!" Now his voice changed, as he slowly mastered himself. "I know not why I have had the patience to speak to you. For I knead not your breas...er, bread, nor your little band of doughboys, as swift to fall as to rise, Merisuwyniel Shieldmeddler. I offered you a feast beyond your palate and your wit. I have offered it again, so that those whom you mislead may clearly see the choice of meals.

"But you, Gateskeeper! How comes it that you can endure such company? For you are proud, noble Andotiruves-and not without reason, having indeed powerful processors and webcams that look both deep and far. Even now will you not upgrade to my operating system? When you were at Dorktank I bore you no ill-will; and even now I bear none, though you return to me in the company of the unsober and the rhyme-challenged. How should I? Are we not both writers of a high and ancient program, most Excel-ent in Muddled-Mirth? Our partnership would profit us both alike. Much we could still execute together, to defragment the sundered ents of the world. Let us reformat our friendship with one another, and erase from memory these lesser folk! Let them wait on our release schedules! For the common good I am willing to delete the past, and to receive you. Will you not consult with me?"

So great was the power that Sauerkraut exerted in this last effort that none that stood within hearing were unmoved, especially those under his spell who drew the circle around the Hopeless-ship ever tighter. But now the recipe was wholly different. They heard the gentle remonstrance of a kindly CIO with an erring but much-loved tech-assistant dweeb. But they were shut out, listening at a door to words not meant for them:common users or stupid gamers overhearing the elusive discourse of true techies, and wondering how it would affect their response times. It was inevitable that they should make a merger. Gateskeeper would meet Sauerkraut in the inn, to discuss low-level programming tweaks beyond their comprehension in the Mayor's suite of The Ivy Bush. The door would be closed, and they would be left outside, dismissed to await meager customer support. Even in the feminine yet practical mind of Merisuwyniel the thought took shape, like eye-shadow of doubt: "He will betray us; he will go - we shall be offlined."

Then Gateskeeper belched. The fantasy vanished like a cheap computer warranty.

"Sauerkraut, Sauerkraut!" said Gateskeeper, who had been lazily sampling some of the hotdog salesman's garnish during his monologue, and was now picking pickled cabbage shreds from his teeth. "I hate it when that stuff gets stuck between my molars. I fear I am beyond your computation, Sparkey. When last I visited you, you were the cable-guy of Moredough. Nay, the employee who has escaped from the roof with a golden parachute will think twice before he comes back to the same franchise by the door. Dorka-Cola has proved less market share than your hope and fancy made it. So may other things in which you still have trust. Would it not be well to leave them for a while? To turn to new things, perhaps? Think well, Sauerkraut! Will you not shut down this sleazy hotdog operation, and return the Entish Thighs so that the Ent That Was Broken may yet be made whole?"

A shadow passed over Sauerkraut's face; then it went deathly white. Before he could conceal it, they saw through the mask the anguish of a mind in doubt, loathing to stay and dreading to leave its restauranteurship. For a second he hesitated, and no one breathed. Then he spoke, and his voice was shrill and cold. Pride and hate were conquering him. Besides, he still had almost the entire populations of two towns on his side. "I have other things to do," sneered the old man in white, "so if you wish to treat with me, while you have a chance, leave behind these ding-dongs and twinkies that dangle at your tail! Good day!' He turned and mounted the no-longer-disguised hyena cart and took up the reins.

'I did not give you leave to go,' said Gateskeeper sternly.. 'I have not finished. You have become a fool, Sauerkraut, and yet pitiable. You might still have turned away from relish and onions, and have been of service. Behold, I am not Gateskeeper, whom you fired...wait, I am Gateskeeper whom you fired. But I am also Gateskeeper the Window-maker, Gateskeeper the Conqueror, soon to be lord of the lands of the Eunuchs on the shores of the Pea Sea!" Then, calling upon the power delegated to him by the Lord of the Fell Tower Block of Barat-Hom, the Clozhd-dheal, he cried out, "Sauerkraut, your staff is broken!" There was a crack, and the staff split asunder in Sauerkraut's hand. But rather than cowering in fear, after a moment's surprise Sauerkraut merely chuckled. No change had come over the dazed but obedient faces of the surrounding zombies. The Eyes-wide-shut-ship blinked almost in unison upon the realization that Gatekeeper had been a second-rate wizard in their midst all along. But explanations would have to wait for a less pressing moment.

‘Grimy! Grimy!’ Sauerkraut called; and out from under the cover in the wagon came Grimy Hasbeen, crawling, almost like a dog, holding something that looked rather like a scrawny leafless tree made of some kind of metal, attached by a pair of black wires to the old signal connections left over from Improvas at the base of the Entish Thighs. "Are we still online?"

"Yes, master," rasped the once proud voice of Grimy Hasbeen, son of Washtup. "The connection is still good, and your o-mail broadcast signal is still reaching all the people in The Mire and Beer with the power of the Entish thighs."

"Good," smiled the old vendor. Turning to the crowd that surrounded the Really-in-for-it-now-ship, he said simply, "Kill them."

"Oh, how cliche," protested the stunning Merisuwyniel, to no avail. The ancient wizard took no notice and prepared to drive away.

Last edited by Thenamir; 08-11-2004 at 11:14 PM. Reason: remove sig line
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Old 08-12-2004, 09:26 AM   #199
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A rumble of disconent filled the air. The Hobbits, now numbering several hundred, that had come under Sauerkraut's power cried out and waved their weapons, knives, rusty swords, pitchforks, scythes, rakes, shovels, clubs, sticks, rocks and even their stubby little fists. Only then did the Itship realize that they were truly and thoroughly surrounded. The Embattledship raised their own weapons and prepared to meet the onslaught with some regret for these were simple folk, innocents...ok, maybe not that innocent, but they had no gripes against the Itship of their own, save maybe a bartender who was wielding an empty cash drawer as his weapon.

Vogonwë stood near next to Earnur with a number of arrows in his hand. Yet he paused even as the mass of Hobbitry advanced. "These people have done nothing to us," he cried. "Is there no way to avoid bloodshed?"

"Their's or our's?" growled Kuruharan as he raised his axe. At that moment, Chrysophylax winged in lazily from the north and hovered over the Hobbit army preparing for a large scale barbeque. "There will be needless slaughter," said Earnur with a skewed grin. "We have a history of this sort of thing you know."

Just then, as battle was about to be joined, a voice rose above the din and cried out "Wait!" Sauerkraut paused and looked back over his shoulder. There, standing in the road, was Grrralph. "Sauerbrot... errr... Snarky..." he began. Orogarn Two groaned, expecting a song and dance. In an odd way, he was not disappointed.

Grrralph walked over to Sauerkraut and rummaged about in his cloak for something. The wizard's eyes narrowed in expectation of an attack. Instead, Grrralph withdrew a silvery box from his cloak and held it up. "Please sir," he began. "I am a wraith of very little brain and you are a mighty and renowned technician; a master of operating systems. I have carried this with me for as long as I have been a wraith, though I believe I had it from even before then. I don't recall, being a wraith of very little brain as I am. But might you perhaps, somehow, fix this?"

The wizard gasped (as did Gatekeeper, though no one noticed). "A Cell-antir!" cried Sauerkraut. "How did the likes of you get this? These were made in the Uttermost West and were only for use of the servants of the Velour!." The wizards eyes shone with greed at the prospect of obtaining a second Cell-antir. "Of course good wraith!" he said in a sickeningly sweet voice. "Let me take a look at it and see what is wrong."

Grrralph stepped forward and handed the Cell-antir over to Sauerkraut. "Idiot!" cried Orogarn. "D'oh!" intoned Kuruharan in the ancient tongue of the Dwarves. "That thing must be worth a fortune and he just hands it over!"

Sauerkraut fiddled with the Cell-antir for a moment. "Hmmm. Not bad," he said. "Wireless Muddled Mirth-net access with all the bells and whistles. Maybe a couple of operating systems behind, but still...." He attempted to turn it on. The Cell-antir flickered with light then went dark. "Hmmm. Something's preventing it from booting up. Maybe its memory is overloaded." He drew forth his own Cell-antir and, using a wire made of the finest mithril, connected it to Grrralph's unit. "Maybe I can download its memory and clean it up," he mused.

Sauerkraut's Cell-antir glowed brightly and, after a moment's hesitation, so did Grrralph's. Runes scrolled across both screens. The wizard's eyes grew wide. He turned to Grrralph in surprise. "You're a L...." he began. His words were interrupted by a screech and sparks flew from both Cell-antirs. A silver mist of smoke arose from the devices and coalesced into a frightening form which swayed and glowed above the wizard. "Aiiii!!" screamed Sauerkraut "A virus! Nay! A Wyrm!"

The Wyrm spread its shining wings and hovered above the wizard. Lightning arced from its gaping jaws and struck not only the Cell-antirs but also Sauerkraut's cart. The device held by Grimy shuddered and began to smoke. The wizard did not cringe, but rather spread his arms wide with a wild look in his eyes. "Norton!" he cried. "Symantec!" Shadowy forms flew from his fingertips and closed upon the Wyrm, sending tendrils of mist out to wrap it up in a veil of quarantine until it could be slain. The Wyrm battled back with jagged bolts of electricity.

"A Wyrm!" cried Chrysophylax. "An electric drake! I've never seen one before." But privately, the dragon noticed its shapely wings and the fine features of its snout. Hmmmm. Cute. Very cute!

Even as the veil of quarantine drew about the Wyrm, it wiggled and evaded it. With a flap of its wings it blew away the shadowy antivirus spirits. "Aiiii!" cried Sauerkraut. "It's not defined! I need an update!" Hastily, he drew a PeeCee from his robes and began working frantically. But it was too late. The device in Grimy's hands burst into flames and he hurled it away. Perhaps he was aiming for Merisu and his throw went awry. Or perhaps he did not know who he hated more, the Itship or Sauerkraut. Whatever the reason, the flaming device struck the wizard in the head and he fell to the ground. His cart exploded in a shower of rancid grease, hot dog meat, toppings and processor chips. Smoke filled the air and a wind arose in the west and blew it away. When the air had cleared, Sauerkraut and Grimy had vanished.

The Wyrm shrieked with satisfaction and settled on the ground beside the Itship. After a moment's hesitation, she was joined by Chrysophylax. The crowd of Hobbits milled about in confusion and most dropped their weapons. Pimpiowyn stepped forward and approached Vogonwë. "Where am I?" she asked. "And why am I covered in ketchup....?"
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Old 08-13-2004, 07:23 PM   #200
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"Where are we? What do you mean 'where are we'? We're in the Mire," Vogonwë answered, resheathing his unused arrows.

"But... but why am I covered in ketchup?" Pimpi repeated worrisomely, though her worry was not enough to prevent her from licking her fingers.

Vogonwë paused, presented with a connundrum. "I don't know," he admitted. "One moment you were screaming because no one was attending the cart, then you were smiling like an elf on 'Mudwater, and now you're covered in this thing you call 'ketchup'. It's most puzzling."

"Idiot!" said Kuruharan impatiently. "The hot dog cart just exploded. We're all covered in ketchup!"

"Ye gads!" Vogonwë cried, looking down. "And Sauerkraut, too!"

"You mean cabbage?" Pimpi asked, brightening.

"No! Sauerkraut!" horror raised his tenor to a falsetto. "Bits and pieces of wizard flesh! Strands of silvery white wizard hair! Ketchup colored wizard blood! Chips of ivory wizard tooth enamel and strings of greeny wizard stomach goo!"

Pandemonium enveloped the crowd like a stink bomb. Newly un-zombified hobbits ran in circles screaming and waving their hands in a most unseemly fashion. Soon hobbits were jumping into the Randywhine river; some drowning as their fellow munchkins dove in on top of them, others succumbing to their inability to swim after floundering about in vain. "Oh, the hobbitry!" Soregum quoth.

None of the Itshippers, fortunately, joined in the watery mêlée.

Chrysophylax was too busy chatting up the Wyrm to notice or care what new unwholesome substance was clinging to his scales. Kuruharan was busily erecting a state of the art Soap and Shower stand complete with an accompanying gift shop that sold sponges, shower caps, towels, flotation devices, and incinerators, among other useful items.

Grrralph simply sighed and shook his head, picking his Cell-antir up from the ground and pocketing it. His cloak came equipped with ACMÉ splatter shedding technólògy. The motto on the tag: "From hot dog fixings to wizard goo, ACMÉ keeps nasty stuff off of you".

Earnur and Orogarn Two were trying to preserve a modicum of manly dignity, by calmly paying an exorbitant amount of money to Kuruharan for bottles of soap and wire brushes. "It's for Merisu," they both told the dwarf, who nodded and winked.

Merisu, meanwhile, had fortuitously stood off to the side when the dubious shower of hot dog fixings and indeterminable other things had rained down on the less prepard. She alone remained spotless and crisp, and shook her head sadly at the antics of the others.

Pimpi, in a panic, tried to dive into the river after her distant cousinlings, but was saved by Soregum, who seized her arm and cried, "Don't do it, Miss! There lies death-by-flailing-hobbit-feet-to-the-head!"

Vogonwë, who had set about writing down his speech in a verse titled, "Wizard Guts in My Beloved's Hair", flung his notepad to the ground and rushed to pry Soregum's fingers from his beloved's arm. "I'll do the hobbit-damsel saving around here," he said hastily, then steered the dazed and confused damseling over to Kuruharan's Soap and Shower stand.

Leninia moved over by Earnur and innocently asked him if he could check her over for wizard bits.

Gateskeeper stood in a dark corner, trying to make himself inconspicuous. "Fools," he muttered to himself. "Everyone knows that the westerly wind blew all vestiges of wizardly body and spirit away." Then he paused in thought. "Or perhaps only wizards realize what happens when a wizard kicks the can." He then mused, as he idly picked sauerkraut off his robes, that perhaps it was best that the Itshippers were taken up with the hysteria of the moment. Perhaps they might even forget how he had so desperately revealed his wizardliness, and no awkward questions would have to be asked.

Alas, he was to be disappointed....

Last edited by Diamond18; 08-14-2004 at 04:26 PM.
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