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Old 01-08-2003, 09:30 AM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Silmaril The Revenge of the Entish Bow - RPG

(Disclaimer: This is a satire, a spoof on the multitude of Mary Sue stories within the realm of Tolkien. Any similarities to existing fan fictions or RPGs is purely coincidental, though not quite unintentional. Due to the nature of the story, the laws of Middle-earth realism will be … bent … slightly.)

The Revenge of the Entish Bow

(Publisher's note:
This most unusual document can now finally be read - after thousands of years of intensive linguistic labour just to translate the title from the original Entish, modern computer technology has made it possible to transcribe it into modern English. We would like to apologize in advance for any inaccuracies and inconsistencies; the scope of this project has been enormous, requiring the efforts of many scholars.)



The Manuscript

Prologue


A strange, low-pitched, disturbing scream issued from the filthy hut. The young girl, poised amidst the trees to run away, stood still. Though she had seen only eight summers, she was exceedingly courageous and compassionate. By no means could she leave a helpless creature to its fate!

She leaped back to the hovel which harboured the unusual cry and tearing aside the rough mats which concealed the opening that served as a door, she glanced about the dark room. Despite the overwhelmingly prevalent odour of its orc inhabitants, no living creature was evident. But she could not have imagined such a strange sound! Once again, she looked in every corner.

An almost imperceptible noise caused her to spin around; only a huge wooden bow stood there, propped up next to a pile of filthy skins that obviously served as a bed. Shivers ran down her spine as she heard a hollow voice call, "Help me!"

"But who is there?" she asked. "Where are you hidden?"

"The bow!" came the answer.

Her brow furrowed as she looked more closely. Not even a very small creature could have hidden behind the bow!

"Pick me up!" The voice sounded strangely wooden.

Hesitantly at first, she grasped the bow. It felt warm and vibrant in her hand, and mush less heavy than its size would have led her to presume. As she held it, words came unbidden into her mind: "I am alive - take me away from this torturous place!"

And whilst she thought, "How can this be? It is impossible!" the thoughts were answered in her mind: "Run first! I will tell more hereafter!"

Harsh voices and loud steps approached the hut. She spun around, leaped through the door opening and dodged hundreds of fierce orcs with raised swords. Only her slight stature and exceeding nimbleness enabled her to escape to the nearby woods, where she disappeared from their sight.


Chapter 1

The tall, willow-slender elven maiden leaped onto the back of her noble black steed. Her long golden hair rippled down to her waist, waving in the breeze as she rode. A huge wooden bow and a quiver of arrows were strapped to her back. No saddle was needed; she was one with her horse, a unity of gracefulness that would have pleased the eye, had there been an observer to see it. Though she rode as fast as the wind, she heard the sound of following hoofbeats. More than one horseman was behind her; she could detect the sound of five – nay, seven – nay, nine horses with her delicately pointed ears.

“Noro lim, Falafel, noro lim!” she whispered to the horse. Falafel galloped even faster, passing the trees by the wayside like a vision in the night. And still, the pursuers drew nearer.

“Will there never be an end to this chase?” she thought. “Must I ever leave the safety of my home because I am stalked by these… these… suitors?”

There! Ahead of her lay the river – on its far side she would surely find a refuge. There lay the hidden farm called “The Last Home-Grown Cows.” Never would the noble princes who sought her follow to such a rural recluse. Water splashed as Falafel swiftly crossed the shallow ford. She sighed deeply, relieved to be in safety. Then she paused and turned.

Her pursuers stopped at the other side of the river, gazing at her in wonder and desire. “Come back! Stay! Do not leave!” they called to her.

She lifted her proud chin to the side, allowing them a view of her magnificent [Several letters of the following word are blurred in the original; it could be either “profile” or “bosom”. Considering the heroic nature of the story and the moral nobility of its characters, we have assumed the former to be correct.] profile.

Her voice rang out with the clarity of early-morning church bells: “If you want me, come and claim me!” Then she leaned forward, and the dust of Falafel’s galloping hooves obscured her from their sight.

The woods grew denser; soon there was no longer a path to be seen. Falafel slowed to a walk while his rider peered ahead with furrowed brows. She had never been to the Hidden Farm; no maps showed its location and instructions for finding it were invariably whispered. “Whither should I turn?” she thought. The trees surrounding her seemed to whisper – suddenly she was startled by a voice behind her:

“Despair not, mistress!”

“Oh, it is you!” She breathed a sigh of relief, recognizing the familiar voice of her trusty bow.

“The trees have spoken to me of a way; I will guide you.”


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


Peaceful quietude pervaded the atmosphere of the Hidden Farm; even the mooing, baaing and neighing of the animals seemed subdued and dignified. Merisuwyniel breathed deeply, regretting it immediately as she realized that the proximity of barns and stables produced smells which were unfortunately not subdued. She wrinkled her dainty nose without slowing in her determined stride. She would not fail in the task which had been assigned to her!

Soon her strong fingers were pulling energetically and rhythmically; her efforts were rewarded with a stream of frothy white liquid. So intensive was her concentration that she failed to notice the presence of an observer.

Tall, dark-haired and strikingly handsome he stood, his dark eyes taking in the details of her appearance appreciatively. His eyes rested approvingly upon her two large, shapely [The document is torn here; after lengthy consultation, we have filled in with a contextually appropriate word.] hands. “Can they do more than merely produce milk?” he wondered. As quietly and light-footedly as he had come, he disappeared again.



(Here ends the manuscript that was found. We do not know if further fragments will be discovered and if so, whether they can be translated. However, the trees in Fangorn Forest still whisper the story of Merisuwyniel, and if we listen closely, we can hear it… )

[ January 08, 2003: Message edited by: Estelyn Telcontar ]
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Old 01-08-2003, 09:48 AM   #2
Estelyn Telcontar
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Silmaril

Merisuwyniel awoke with a start – she had the feeling that someone had spoken to her, but as her lovely violet eyes searched the room in the pale light of early dawn, she saw no one. Her head sank back to her pillow before she realized that the bow, which was propped up next to her bed, was humming softly and vibrating slightly. She stretched her hand out to touch it, and felt its thoughts pouring into her mind.

It is time!

Time for what?
the maiden was puzzled.

Today is your forty-second birthday. This is a number of great significance for your life, the universe and everything. You are almost of age according to Elven standards and can now help me to accomplish the quest which I have planned for many years.

Which quest?
she queried.

Do you remember when you found me and saved me from my oppressors? They cut me, a living Ent, to make weapons and other objects for their foul purposes. I must search for them to be avenged on behalf of the whole person I once was. I cannot do this task without help – will you aid me or thwart me? Choose swiftly! If not, I must find a new master or mistress to enable me to fulfil my purpose.

Merisuwyniel considered the bow’s request. Until this time, she had experienced many adventures on her own behalf, and the Entish Bow had been a true and loyal friend, never missing its mark, whether foe or prey. It seemed reasonable to help it carry out a mission so important.

I will help you, though I do not know the way, she answered courageously. How shall we accomplish this?

We need to prepare well, searching maps for the locations of orc strongholds and collecting provisions for a long journey. It would be well to find companions who will travel with us, especially if they are acquainted with the paths in the wild and the use of weapons. Peoples of many races congregate here at the Elven Farm. Choose well, for we know not what dangers we shall have to face to accomplish our quest.


With determination in her heart, Merisuwyniel arose. After brushing her waist-length, rippling golden hair to its usual silken sheen, she bravely faced the first decision of the early morning. What should she wear to a quest? She chose carefully a forest green divided skirt, sturdy, practical and yet feminine, with a matching close-fitted velvet jacket. Long-shafted boots of fine black leather and a midnight-blue cloak, carried over her arm for the first, completed her attire. The adventure could begin!

[ January 08, 2003: Message edited by: Estelyn Telcontar ]
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Old 01-09-2003, 09:54 AM   #3
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Pipe

The half-Elven Lord Halfullion Gormlessar strode manfully from his chambers, scattering staff and other Elves as he passed. He buckled his belt around his waist as he went, one hand laid, apparently carelessly, upon the hilt of the great blade attached.

"Whither dost thou quest?" asked Scully, the scullery girl, appearing before him. He had always suspected her of secrets, and indeed this morning she appeared more furtive than ever, yet this was not the time. He wrinkled his brow at her puny form, shrinking before him, in some annoyance.

Knowing the Lord's character well, Scully merely curtsied at his abruptness and rephrased, "Where does the morning lead you, good sir?"

"I leave mourning to the women, Scully," he barked, and continued onwards, down the bright passageway and into the garden beyond the simple doors. Behind him, a fox-like gleam mouldered in Scully's eyes, but she turned wordlessly and made her way to the kitchens.

Indoors and out blended seamlessly, the natural lights and colours flawless in either. The garden was surrounded by a tall privet wall, positioned, as it was, on one of the higher outcrops within the valley. From here, through the topiaried gaps in the hedge, one could view all of the Elven community of the Last Grown Home Cows. This splendid vista attracted not Lord Gormlessar, however. He continued his brisk pace to the very centre of the oval space, where sat a marble fountain. The centrepiece was a large, beautifully detailed sculpture, bovine in form, with water flowing copiously from several places. The cool ripples and the gentle splashing soothed his troubled mind somewhat. He adjusted his codpiece and awaited the coming of fair Merisuwyniel.

* * * * * * *

Presently, she came, crying out in delight at the sight of him. She descended down the steps from the dwelling that they were installed in her hair flowing out behind her, as if it were a cloak in a breeze. Behind her the finely fluted columns of the House supported an ornate arch, bearing exquisite carvings of the Lords and Ladies of the Elven enclave. He smiled as he appreciated the contours of the architecture before him.

He noticed that she again held her great bow, from which she appeared inseparable, and again wondered at her love for it. A smile touched his lips as he noticed that, as she did on momentous occasions or when a quest was nigh, she bore a double number of arrows. Her two fine Elven quivers bore fifteen smooth shafts each, and he had no doubt that she was the deadliest aim he had ever encountered.

"Meri!" he exclaimed. "How wonderful to see you! You are as fair as summer itself."

"Why, thank you, oh my Lord Gormlessar," she replied coyly, approaching him and laying a hand on his broad shoulder. "To what do we owe the great pleasure of so early an awakening for thee?"

"Beg pardon, Meri?" he asked, running a hand through his superbly tended coiffure.

"Never mind, my love!" She laughed gaily. "Perhaps we can have some sport, this morn?"

"Aye, that sounds great," he said, a little uncertainly. The last time she had suggested sport he had ended up with an apple balanced on his head. Five times. The fourth time, he remembered, the bow had twitched in her hand, he could swear it seemed alive at times, and he had ended up with a scratch on his head. He was not fond of the sight of blood and didn't remember very much after that. Still he had ended up in bed at the nurse's quarters so all is well that ends well, he mused.

"Perhaps you could teach me how to wield a blade," she said lightly. He felt her eye roaming over the hilt and scabbard of his weapon and he knew she desired to hold it. A stab of jealousy flowed through him. "Such as yours," she finished.

"None but my hand can grip this sword," he said slowly. 'Or else the hand of a great warrior. Yet I will practise some swordplay with you here if you can find two wooden foils."

[ January 09, 2003: Message edited by: Rimbaud ]
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Old 01-09-2003, 04:55 PM   #4
Mithadan
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Sting

Many miles away, near the borders of the mighty forest, two lines of wolves ran silently along a ridge. There were twenty in all, nineteen of which bore riders; the dread Uruk-Hai. Swarthy they were, near man-tall and broad with mighty thews. They were armed with deadly weapons and their faces were grim and foul. Foul too was their odor and all animals fled before them lest they become overwhelmed by the stench.

The cavalry crested a hill and began to descend into a valley at the bottom of which lay a dark fortress of stone; Gol Dulldor. Coming into sight of their home, the Uruks broke out in song.

O we are the Uruks,
the mighty mighty Uruks,
and everywhere we go,
people want to know,
who we are,
where we come from.
Sound off!
1, 2.
Sound off!
3, 4.
Sound off!
1, 2, 3, 4!


Some of the Uruks, confused briefly by the higher mathematics, strayed from their paths and tumbled into a ditch beside the road. The troop halted and their Captain rolled his eyes as he rode back and waited until all returned to the road and were in order. As they resumed their course, he road to the fore of the columns upon his great wolf.

They slowed as they approached the great iron gate of the fastness and were challenged by a sentry. "Nurk golub gnash be-bop shu bam," cried the guard. The troop halted and the Captain rode forward slowly until his wolf stood panting before the sentry.

"Bugsquash," said the Captain in a growling tone. "Speak so that I can understand you! None of that chatspeak now!"

"Uh..." replied the sentry, quickly processing the Captain's request. "Password, Captain Gravlox, sir."

Gravlox spurred his wolf a step closer to Bugsquash. "If you know my name, why do you need a damn password?"

The guard looked down and drew upon the gound with a clawed toe. "Well, all the books say we're supposed to have a password, sir."

Gravlox sighed and rolled his eyes again. "Very well," he snarled. He cleared his throat and spoke the secret words. "The sixth shiek's sixth sheep's sick," he barked, spraying the guard with spit.

Wiping his face with a grimy arm, Bugsquash stepped aside. "You may pass," he intoned.

"Damn Sword and Sorcery books," growled the Captain as he led his men into the fortress. It had been a long time, but they were home...and Gravlox looked very unhappy.
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Old 01-09-2003, 07:06 PM   #5
The Barrow-Wight
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Eye

The Half-elf and she-elf fell suddenly silent, he halfway drawing his mighty sword, she fully exposing her quivering arrows. Both listened to an unseen sound that soon became visible as the steady beat of a horse, far in the distance, but running with great speed through the woods encircling the Last Home-Grown Cows. Moments seemed like minutes, minutes like hours, and hours like days, and still the mighty stomping grew until elf ears, she- and half-he alike, twitched in frenzied curiosity. At last, they gained sight a great mane of black hair rising above the top of a nearby hill.

“There is one of the Mearas, no doubt,” said Halfullion, “of the likes of Falafel and Baklava, or I’m a dwarf.”

The mane approached closer and the whole beast seemingly sprung from the ground as it crested the hill, stopping to paw gallantly in the setting sunlight.

“Well, master longbeard,” laughed Merisuwyniel, “I hope you don’t try to ride him, for I fear he may object.”

Though blinded by the glaring rising sun, it soon became apparent to the Half-elf that no Mearas had entered the farm. Instead, silhouetted against the glowing midday orb was a Man, almost as tall as he, but thinner, and with much bigger hair. The Man approached the two gaping people and politely closed their mouths with the index finger of each of his hands.

“Greetings,” he said. “Is this where one might find the Keeper of the Cows?”

Merisuwyniel was the first to break out of her amazed stupor, and quickly notched an arrow to her living bow. The Man before her was one of most handsome she had ever seen, but also the most strangely clothed. His feet were clad in soft, blue suede, and his trousers were similarly colored but made of a woven fabric that appeared supple yet strong. Above a wide leather belt he wore a short sleeved, green shirt with the image of a great sword woven across his chest. He had no hat, but instead let his massive amount of feathered, dark-brown hair blow freely in the wind.

The stranger stared directly into her eyes and she began to feel odd, as if this were a dream and she need only close her eyes to return to blissful sleep.

This was no dream!

“Your name, stranger!” she shouted, breaking whatever spell had overcome her. “One does not… um… gallop to the Hidden Valley Ranch dressing in such a strange manner!”

“One does, apparently,” muttered Halfullion.

The stranger’s eyes grew wide and he dropped to one knee, looking in reverence at the bow Merisuwyniel held in her shaking hands.

“The Ent that was Broken!” he whispered.

“How do you know of such things?” she demanded. “Tell us now who you are and why you are here or you will surely perish.”

He looked into her eyes and told his tale.

“I am Orogarn Two, son of Orogarn One, son of The Orogarn Jr., son of The Orogarn, son of Garn Eight, son of Garn Seven, son of Kevin, son of Garn Six,…”

“Will this go on long?” asked Halffullion.

“Only 77 generations more,” said the panting stranger who had forgotten to breath during his broken line of begots. “My journey has been long, so I will give you the short version.”

He paused for effect.

“I am Orogarn Two, son of Orogarn One, third cousin of Isildur, 84 times removed!”

He paused again for effect, but again got no reaction.

“And I have returned!”

Nothing

Seek for the Ent that was broken:
With the Cow Keeper it dwells;
There shall nonsense be spoken
More wicked than Dulldor-spells.
There shall be a token dwarf
A half-elf, elf, wizard and man,
For Isildur's cousin shall waken,
And form a big-hair 80’s band.


“That’s lovely,” sighed Meriswyniel. “What does it mean.”

Orogarn Two stood.

“I have no idea. Have you seen a brown, leather wallet?”

[ January 09, 2003: Message edited by: The Barrow-Wight ]
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Old 01-09-2003, 08:54 PM   #6
Diamond18
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Silmaril

Meanwhile, in a small gazebo in a quiet and peaceful section of the Farm, a young woman sat alone, sipping warm buttermilk from a silver goblet. The sun fell upon her head of red-gold curls, and they glowed as if the light of the Similars, or Stones of Feeblenor, had once again returned to Middle-earth. She sighed, and her thoughts returned to that day so long ago...it was like yesterday. But it wasn't yesterday. It was long ago, of course. She took another swig of buttermilk, and pushed the thoughts away.

"Pimpiowyn! Oh, Pimpi! Pimpi my love!"

Pimpiowyn rolled her stunningly large sapphire blue eyes, and wrapped her hand around a small pendant hanging against her red velvet bodice. Pimpi wore red as often as possible, as that was something those infernally beautiful she-elves never wore. A reassuring warmth emanated from the pedant, and she felt ready. "Yes, darling?"

A graceful figure bounded into the gazebo and did a triple loop, then struck a pose, his toes pointed delicately. He reached up and adjusted a grey satan bow that perched attractively atop his head. The sunlight shone down upon his silky cascade of grey-brown hair, and also upon the grey-brown fur of the small field mouse that perched atop his shoulder. Or rather, hung on for dear life. A small black cat with one white whisker tiptoed up the steps behind him and rubbed itself in and out between his legs.

"Ah, there you are, Pimpi my dear. I have been searching all over for a glimpse of thy lovely, globular face," spoke the wood-elf Vogonwë Brownbark in a liquid voice.

"I prefer, 'round', darling," Pimpi replied with a sigh. As she spoke, the cat left Vogonwë and jumped up on Pimpiowyn’s lap, and began to help itself to her buttermilk.

"Berugheera!" Vogonwë said disapprovingly. "Hisss, khak kak ick ick reooow." The small animal slunk down guiltily, and licked its paws under Pimpiowyn's chair.

Pimpiowyn fished a black hair out of her buttermilk and took another sip. "You didn't bring anything to eat with you, did you?" she inquired.

"No, I'm afraid not, Pimpi my love," said Vogonwë regretfully. "But, darling, I have come to tell you something!"

"You are going back to Workmud to live with your father?" Pimpi asked, trying not to sound too hopeful.

"No," Vogonwë shook his head gracefully, nearly knocking the mouse off of his shoulder with a swish of his hair. The mouse hung on. "Do you remember when I asked you for three hairs from your golden head, and you gave me one?"

"Yes; it was only yesterday," Pimpi said, brushing cat hairs from her red velvet frock.

"I have composed a poem in honor of your beautiful hair, my dear, and ode to the follicles on you head. Would you like to hear it?"

"I have a feeling that I'm going to," Pimpi said, downing the last of her buttermilk. She licked the edge of the goblet and then ran her tongue around her full red lips. Vogonwë struck yet another pose and flipped his hair over his shoulder. The mouse went flying out of the gazebo and landed on the grass. He cleared his throat, and began to recite:

"This hair so golden, almost red,
Used to be lodged in your head.
When it was there, amongst your other hairs,
It looked very nice with the clothes you wear.
You plucked it from your scalp, tore it from your head,
And now this golden reddish hair is dead.
Its life was fleeting, it ended with yesterday's meeting,
When you plucked that hair and ended its life with a tear.
Why did you do this? Why is this hair now dead?
Because I asked you, 'tis true. I asked you to do this, I asked you.
And you consented to kill this hair for my pleasure, and out it came.
It doesn't have a name, but is that any excuse it to maim?
Love is such a strange game.
I love this hair that came from your head, I love this hair though it is dead,
And its death I caused, I know with shame, but that doesn't matter much.
Because I love you and would do anything to have a memento of you,
For you will soon be as dead as this hair from your head,
Who will be to blame for that? Not I, I hope. I would be a dope,
To cause the death of the one I love above all others,
Above all mountains, hills and towers, you're prettier than flowers.
Which also die in their turn. Oh when will they ever learn?
And so I sing this song to you, to you whose eyes are really blue.
And your hair, I hold so near my heart, and hope that we shall never part,
Even when you yourself depart."


Vogonwë paused expectantly. He was met with silence, as Pimpi had found a biscuit in her pocket, and was devouring it with a dainty air. "Do you like it?"

"Oh...yeth, darwing," she replied.

They heard the whinnying of a horse in the distance, in the direction of the Fountain Garden. "What could that be?" Vogonwë wondered out loud. "Could it be a visitor from Workmud? Perhaps my father has sent me a letter, or a message, or something. But no, that does not sound like the whinny of a Workmud steed."

"Why don't you go find out?" Pimpi suggested.

"I shall," Vogonwë agreed, twirling upon his toe. He walked down the steps and scooped up the little mouse. "Squeaky eep eep," he said. The mouse squeaked in reply that it was all right, and Vogonwë set it upon his shoulder.

The cat tiptoed out from beneath the chair, and as the trio left, Vogonwë turned around and called back in his clear voice, "Pimpiowyn, what rhymes with 'whinny'?"

"Skinny, mini, ninny and tinny," Pimpi replied.

"Thank you!" he lifted a well-manicured hand and waved goodbye with a graceful flick of his wrist.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After the biscuit was gone and all the crumbs plucked from the folds of her clothes and devoured as well (indeed, when there was not one crumb left, not even one too small for a mouse) Pimpi left the gazebo. She walked across the lush grass and entered a small grove. She approached a pair of headstones, and knelt tenderly in front of them. Above one was the statue of a Man in the Armor of the Mike, seated upon a rearing horse. Above the other was a plump and jolly looking hobbitlass, though uncommonly tall.

Pimpi tenderly reached out and removed some pigeon droppings from the engraved words on the headstones, and let her large blue eyes survey the epitaph.

Here lies Éohorse son of Needahorse
Valiant Man of the Mike.
Bravely he fought the Orc horde,
And breathed his last upon the picnic blanket.


Here lies Pipsissewa Took
Fairest Flower of the Shire.
Long of limb and fat of face,
A Hobbit with uncommon grace.


"I will avenge you someday, Mama and Papa," Pimpi whispered. "I will hunt down the Orcs that survived the Elven raid, and I will kill them...or at least stand by and watch someone else kill them."

She again reached for the pendant, the Head of Lopitoff, the noble steed of Éohorse. But she paused before she touched it, and wiped her fingers upon the grass. When they were clean enough to grasp the golden horsehead, she recalled the words of Lord Roneld as he presented her the pendant many years ago. It seemed like yesterday...but it wasn’t yesterday...it was a long time ago...

"The power of the Elves can shrink a horse's head, but only you have the power to wear it."

"And wear it I shall," Pimpi spoke aloud to the graves of her parents. "It is mine to wear, like my red velvet cloak trimmed with black silk."

[ February 12, 2003: Message edited by: Diamond18 ]
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Old 01-10-2003, 06:43 AM   #7
The Squatter of Amon Rûdh
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Sting

A breath of wind stirred into whispers the leafy groves athwart the road as Baklava, the mighty steed of Lord Earnur Etceteron, kicked its dust heavenward to settle on the sable raiment of his mighty master.
The horse was somewhat bored, as would be any of his great line, given a long day of ambling passage through some of the greenest, leafiest and, well, most repetitive landscape in all Middle-earth; for such was the manner of Lord Etceteron's errantry: ever since defeating the grey wizard in a trial of smoke-ring blowing, his technique had been to wander aimlessly around the countryside until some random and unlikely chance should happen to direct him to adventure. This was remarkably convenient for the master, but for the horse it was a trial of drudgery unheard of in the proud herds from which he sprang. Even the regular encouters with Orc-bands that he and his master had experienced of late failed to pique his equine interest: even the largest and fiercest all too quickly fell to his master's blade, leaving him without even the opportunity of issuing a satisfying kick or two. Baklava often toyed with the idea of throwing Earnur the Simple and kicking his head in, if only to relieve the boredom; but honour was honour and this Man had caught him fairly, whilst his mind had been occupied by thoughts of his favourite mare. Women were indeed trouble, for now he was burdened with this tobacco-stained, Miruvor-sodden fool, albeit that his harness sat as lightly as thistledown.

Meanwhile, astride the great Lord of horses, and blissfully unaware of his rebellious thoughts, Earnur himself was occupying his manly hands with the manly deed of manfully smoking his manly ebony pipe. Between manly puffs, he would pause to blow smoke rings of great intricacy and beauty, although of a deeply masculine and heroic fashion. Reaching back into one of his inky saddlebags, he extracted a blacked silver flask of Elven make, and took from it a manly swig of whatever manly spirit was to be found therein, before replacing it neatly with a single flick of his manly wrist. Many were the rumours of what mystic potions of invincibility Lord Etceteron imbibed from this flask: some said it was Miruvor that he kept therein; others that it was some foul Orcish draught, captured from a hapless raiding party; others still that it was the very distilled essence of life itself. Naturally most of these rumours were absolute codswallop. In sooth Lord Earnur cared little what was in the flask, save that it warmed him against the chill in the air hereabouts, as well as that in Harad and Khand.

His humour improved by this draught, Earnur the Mighty knocked out the sooty bowl of his pipe on a jet-black boot-heel, whilst his steel-grey eyes raked the road ahead for sign of foes. He saw none, but this failed to surprise him, as any robber bands with sense knew him at two miles' distance and made themselves scarce. Most of those who failed to do this had ceased to be robber bands soon after, enduring the inevitable demotion to hapless corpses that befell all who stood against him. The rest lived in unfashionable parts of the Wild, where no hero of taste was like to fare, and had thus not encountered him as yet.

Lest there be any such folk near the road this day, Earnur allowed his steel-sinewed yet elegant hand to stray towards the hilt of the great, razor-edged sword Wylkynsion that hung from his saddle. Mighty were the tales of this blade, whose fame was almost, but not quite, as great as that of the mighty hero who wielded it. Forged by the Dark Elf Eol it had been, though none save its master knew it; after long practice on other famous blades had honed his skill to an edge as keen as those of his creations, of which this alone had survived into the current age of the world. Only this morning he had been accosted by Orcs whilst preparing his breakfast. Two of them there had been, huge and surly, yet one sweep of this mighty blade had severed all three necks with a single manly blow, and four Orcish bodies had stained the glade with their blood. Earnur liked not to be pestered with enemies before breakfast, especially five such foul-smelling foes as these. He took another swig from his flask, satisfied that no enemy was there to be seen and straightened his lean, strong body, although Baklava detected the scent of soiled breeches and the faint, receding sound of running feet.

As he re-filled his pipe, Lord Etceteron's manly eye detected something strange at which his manly curiosity began to stir: ahead the road forged on, and yet to his right was also the faint image, seeming painted on the air, of a bend curving round and away towards the river he had crossed earlier that day. On a whim (and because such things usually led to a good fight that he invariably won) Earnur turned Baklava's proud head toward this bonny, bonny road and kicked him on, unwittingly drawing another inch closer to skull-crushing agony. As he rode, he sang to himself in his manly baritone a ballad written for him by the greatest bard in all Minas Tirith:

Black, his gloves of finest mole,
Black, his codpiece made of metal.
His horse is blacker than a hole,
His pot is blacker than his kettle...


Suddenly his voice trailed off, which irritated Baklava, as he had been about to reach the bit about his jet-black steed. Ahead was a homely-looking farmstead: a sure sign that he would be required to rescue some simple family of farmers from the attentions of a group of wandering mercenaries, which usually led to free food and beer (little did he know that the nearest such group had heard of his coming three days earlier and scarpered pronto). As Lord Etceteron gripped the mighty hilt of the sword Wylkynsion he heard its noble voice in his mind: Wot in Eru's name d'yew want, yer bleedin' great raspberry? I was 'avin' a luvly dream abaht a rapier. She had a bootiful scabbard on 'er, 'nall.
"Silence, my blade!" roared Earnur manfully. "We know not what subtle foes await us yonder; and even now methinks I hear their speech! We had best not alert them over soon!"

Indeed, as the echoes of his great voice died away amid Wylkynsion's grumbling that it spoke only directly to Earnur's mind anyway, it was possible to detect the sounds of conversation ahead, as though of two men and a woman. Looks like yer classic damsel-in-distress caper, mate said the sword again. Remember wot yew got last time? And she 'ad a luvverly dagger 'nall. Right cutie was that little tickler.

With this, Earnur urged Baklava on, soon seeing ahead the small group that he had overheard: two men, both handsome, one with the most impressively blow-dried hair that he had ever seen, the other cast in a similar ruggedly manly mould to himself. And with them stood the most beauteous maid whom ever he had encountered, willow-slender and with flowing silken hair. In a clear and musical voice she was explaining that no, she hadn't seen a wallet anywhere around here lately. "So they seek to relieve this flower of her gold, do they?" muttered the great warrior, raising aloft his gleaming weapon ('Ere we go, 'ere we go, 'ere we go! sang the sword Wylkynsion). "Then they shall have more than they bargained for this day."

His mind filled with the ancient war-chant of his blade (You're goin' 'ome in a bleedin' ambulance, it sang), Lord Earnur swung elegantly from his saddle and approached the group. "Ho, there, varlets!" he called manfully. "What mean you so to accost a lady, and to thus demand her goods? Desist or thou shalt answer with thy bodies. For I am Earnur, which men call Etceteron; and this blade I wield is none other than the sword Wylkynsion, whose edge cuts all things. What say you of wallets now, Sirs?"

His challenge made, Earnur stood foursquare, proudly brandishing his great blade and awaiting whatever might befall, whilst in his mind the voice of Wylkynsion sang on:
Come 'n' 'ave a go if ya think yer 'ard enuff!. Battle, it would appear, was about to be joined.

[ January 10, 2003: Message edited by: Squatter of Amon Rudh ]
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Old 01-10-2003, 11:14 AM   #8
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Pipe

"What ho," said Halfullion's mind to itself. It rarely got reply on such instances of internalised communication, yet had never ceased in its endeavours. "What ho, some rapscallion is claiming that I am a knight of the errant variety. We must do something about this...strapping...young whippersnapper."

"Pardon?" asked the Lord Etceteron, his blade faltering somewhat in the face of such undisguised moronity.

Realising he had vocalised his inner turmoil with some sheepish shame, Halfullion took an instinctive step backwards, and drew L'En'Viey Piennhas with something of a roar.

All were startled by Halfullion's apparent coughing fit, and Mersuwyniel went so far as to clap her Hero on the back with one of her sublimely dainty hands. However, the laughter that echoed around the garden was that of Etceteron, and he was looking directly at Halfullion's famous sword, now wavering a mere matter of inches before him.

With great scorn, the invading warrior shouted "This? This is the mighty sword L'En'Viey Piennhas, desired by all men and women alike?"

His scorn appeared justified, for the blade was short, indeed barely longer than a vegetable paring knife. "I will not fight you, sir! Arm yourself!" He looked about the garden, and spotted the two wooden practice foils, leaning against the marbled fountain. "I see you have been working out, Sir," he boomed anew. "It is not like the real thing, though, Sir! Indeed, doing it this way you may well go blind. Splinters and such, you see."

"I'll show you splinters, Sir," growled Halfullion ominously. He waggled his undersized sword of great repute for effect. Merisuwyniel disguised a smile, and instead gazed adoringly upon the mighty Lord Gormlessar, now revealed in all his wrath. She could not help an admiring glance or two at the fine figure of Etceteron, so forcibly come to their attention was he.

Halfullion squeezed his face in concentration and suddenly, with a blinding flash, his noble blade was a clear three feet long. Had Etceteron not so nimbly avoided the expanding weapon, he would surely have been skewered, as had his last, unfortunate, riding companion Keb Ab Fordinneragen. "Hah!" shouted Lord Gormlessar. "Now, Sir, let's have at you!"

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

"Hold!" came a clear and penetrating voice. The two swordsmen ceased the wary circling and turned their eyes to the fair Merisuwyniel. She lifted up one clear, smooth, pale, dainty, well-manicured, ashen, ashy, blanched, colorless, complexionless, doughy, lurid, pallid, paly, wan, waxen, delicate hand and the garden fell silent, even the birds in the tree. A slight humming could be heard coming from the two great swords as they sought to rear at each other.

"Your sense is weak, old friend, you should not have come," she said to the newcomer. Then she smiled, and looked squarely at the knight from the corner of her eye, which is a tricky feat, even if you toe the line. "Thank you for answering the call, Sir knight!"

"Er..." replied Etceteron, grandiosely.

Halfullion, realising that the Elf had the situation under control, lowered his blade fully.
"You know me, Mistress?" asked the Lord Etceteron.

Halfullion spoke for both himself and the bemused, on looking Orogarn Two, when he spake thus: "What new devilry is this? Dost thou know this vile and verminous vagabond, fair lady?"

[ January 11, 2003: Message edited by: Rimbaud ]
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Old 01-10-2003, 05:33 PM   #9
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Silmaril

“Indeed I do, Mylord,“ Merisuwyniel replied, “But it seems that he does not recognize me. Fie upon the weak memories of human males!”

“Um, when did we meet?” Etceteron gazed at her with a puzzled expression. “Certainly I could not have forgotten a damsel of such face and form!”

“Remember the archery contest at the tournament of knights in Gondola many years ago?” she asked. “A young esquire competed with you for the title, besting you so resoundingly that you resolved never to use a bow again, doubting your own abilities.”

“Yes, I remember, but where were you?” Etceteron was still puzzled.

“I was that esquire!” she exclaimed dramatically.

“You?! It cannot be.” He peered more closely at the mighty bow she carried. “Although I think I recognize the bow. It was such a plain, crude weapon – mine was much more beautiful, made of black wood and wonderfully carved.”

The bow vibrated dangerously, and Merisuwyniel laid a soothing hand upon it. “Trust not appearances,” she warned, “for they can be deceptive. Earnur, though we were rivals then, we were friends as well. You have been summoned for a Purpose!”

Turning to Orogarn Two, she spoke melodiously: “You have come here seeking the answer to a riddle. It shall be given to you in due time. Perhaps you too have been drawn by powers beyond our knowledge, since you have seen what others have not. Whether you shall also find the wallet that was lost, I cannot tell.”

She faced all three heroes, standing proudly and gracefully, and proclaimed, “Here, at the Farm of Roneld, all shall be made clear to you. In two days a council shall be held; there you shall learn of the Ent that was broken and the task that awaits those who are brave enough to undertake it.”

[ January 11, 2003: Message edited by: Estelyn Telcontar ]
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Old 01-11-2003, 01:15 AM   #10
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Shield

Vogonwë skipped across the Elven Farm and nimbly bounded up the flight of 99 steps that led up to the Bovine Garden. As he crested the rise, he saw fair Merisuwyniel standing tall and shapely in the sunlight, facing Lord Gormlessar and two strange (yet handsome) looking Men. But it was not the humanoid forms that drew his attention. There, standing to the side, was a jet-black steed of the deepest, richest, inkiest ebony hue.

“Forsooth!” he cried, and all four creatures turned to look at him. “Here must be the Horse That Was Whinnying!” He advanced upon the group and declared, “I was struck by inspiration a moment ago, and then I picked myself up off the ground and composed a poem:

“A tinny whinny whistled through the farm,
The whinny was not mini, but a biggie whinny.
A biggie tinny whinny it was—”


“That is quite enough!” Halfullion interrupted hastily.

Vogonwë was quite used to this kind of treatment, and he ceased speaking without ado. He approached the impressive looking black horse and greeted it with a whinny. “Breeeeheheeeee,” he said, and then proceeded to huff and snort, toss his head and paw at the ground.

Etceteron looked on with one manly black eyebrow arched in a manly fashion. He was a little befuddled as he watched the strange looking Elf consort merrily with his horse. Baklava likes 'im better than yo-ou, Wylkynsion taunted.

Vogonwë pirouetted and turned to Etceteron. “Do I have the pleasure of addressing the master of this noble, albeit rather grumpy, jet-black steed?”

Etceteron paused to arch his other manly eyebrow, and then replied, “I am the master to whom you speak. And you...thou strangely coifed Elf?”

Vogonwë adjusted his bow proudly and said, “I am Vogonwë Brownbark, son of Geppettuil of Workmud, third cousin thrice removed of Throngduil, King of Workmud.”

Etceteron started in surprise, and pointed a manly finger at Vogonwë. “You are the Log That Was Rotting!” he cried. “I have heard the tale of the log that Geppettuil carved into a little wooden boy, and of the little wooden boy who was brought to life by the Blue Faerie. Are you the Vogonwë Brownbark the legends speak of?”

Vogonwë drew a circle in the dirt on the stones with a slippered toe, and replied, “A’yup.”

“How extraordinary,” Etceteron marveled, walking in a circle around the wood-elf.

“He moves quite well for a piece of wood,” Merisuwyniel offered sweetly. “Vogonwë, you will have to show our guests your horse mounting skills.”

“Hmmm...” Etceteron was preoccupied. “I have acquired a bit of herbal knowledge in my time, and am quite good with brews, if you take my meaning. Let me endeavor to guess: she used a mix of toadstools (or puffballs perhaps), yarrow, fennel seed, aloe vera...something...and a pinch of fairy dust? I hear that mint is a good substitution for fairy dust.”

Orogon Two spoke up, “Whatever else, it must have included dill weed. Nothing packs the punch that dill weed does.”

Lord Gormlessar yawned.

Vogonwë, for perhaps the first time in his life, was speechless. Even his mouse looked uncomfortable (though the cat was unperturbed). Vogonwë cast his gaze about helplessly, and Merisuwyniel caught it with her lovely, pallid hand.

“Good sirs, have you yet seen Master Brownbark’s excellent horse? Vogonwë?”

Vogonwë split the air with a shrill whinny, which cause Orogorn Two and Etceteron to look at him as if he were foaming at the mouth. Vogonwë paused and thumped his chest a couple times, coughing uncomfortably. The fit passed, and then there was heard an answering whinny.

A tall, noble horse came trotting into the Bovine Garden, tossing its long, silky grey-brown mane joyously. Taut, well formed horsy muscles rippled underneath the smooth, grey-brown hide. Such a beast was Pasdedeux, Mare of the Mearas, second cousin twice removed of Arod. And as she came, Baklava perked up noticeably.

Pasdedeux stopped a goodly distance from Vogonwë, and turned her hindquarters to the company. Baklava snorted and shook his mane in a stallionly sort of way.

Vogonwë then proceeded to awe and bore the company, as he mounted his horse with an amazing series of three backward summersaults and, as if that weren’t enough, an inverted pas de chat up onto the horse’s back. “Voíla! And, if I had wanted her to start running the instant I landed upon her back, I would have whistled whilst doing the inverted pas de chat,” he said proudly.

Merisuwyniel clapped, Etceteron stroked his manly chin in a manly way, and Orogorn Two wondered if the wood-elf would know where his wallet was. Baklava wished to speak to the comely mare, but forebear such action in front of the lady's freakishly bilingual master.

Lord Gormlessar yawned.

At that very moment, fair and bonny Pimpiowyn of the red-gold curls entered the Garden, munching contentedly on an apple. Vogonwë flipped himself nimbly from Pasdedeux, and greeted her, “Pimpi, my love, you have just missed a most excellent mount on my part. It was the best one I have done in a week.”

Pimpi paused as she noticed the strange (yet handsome) newcomers. She took instant notice of Orogorn Two’s impressive hair and Etceteron’s manly eyebrows. “Who are they?” she asked bluntly.

“I haven’t the slightest idea, darling,” Vogonwë told her.

Merisuwyniel made the necessary introductions, and repeated the excellent news about the Council of Roneld. Vogonwë and Pimpi were about to react to the declaration, but Vogonwë suddenly became aware of a shadow passing before the sun.

“Ai, ai!” he exclaimed.

Etceteron arched his manly brows simultaneously, and Orogorn Two inquired, “What do your Elf eyes see, Vogonwë?”

[ February 12, 2003: Message edited by: Diamond18 ]
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Old 01-11-2003, 09:01 AM   #11
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Sting

"Look! Up in the sky," cried Vogonwë.

"It’s a bird," shouted Merisuwyniel.

"Hmm," mused Vogonwë, "I think that it might be some vile creature of the Enemy. Those wings look awfully scaly from this distance."

"You know," interjected Earnur, "I think he’s right. Look at that wing structure. I’d say that it is actually a…"

"BALROG!" screeched Halfullion.

"What?! Don’t be ridiculous," objected Earnur. "Balrogs don’t have wings!"

"And even if they do, they can’t fly," put in Orogarn Two.

"What do you two know about these sky-high matters?" scoffed Halfullion. "You’re just two insignificant wanderers, while I am the great Lord Gormlessar!"

"I’ll tell you what I know about the matter," explained Orogarn Two. "Since I come from high Numenorian ancestry I had the benefit of an excellent education. I can assure you that while there is some ambiguity on the matter of whether balrogs actually have wings, the vast weight of scholarly opinion is that even if they do, they cannot fly. As a matter of fact, I once read an excellent article on this very matter by the renowned Cardolanian scholar Dr. Barro…"

"Blah, blah, blah," interrupted Halfullion. "I’ll tell you how I know that balrogs have wings! I fought a duel with one once. Or at least, I would have fought a duel with him if the cowardly bugger had shown up. Be that as it may, I still have more personal experience with balrogs than you and I say that balrogs have wings."

"That’s absurd," snapped Earnur. "How in the world can you argue that your non-observance of a balrog makes you the definitive authority on what balrogs look like?!"

"Because my sword agrees with me!" retorted Halfullion, brandishing his weapon for effect.

"You’re not the only one to have a mystic sword from the dawn of Time!" roared Earnur Etceteron, pulling his sword Wylkynsion from its sheath.

Thus challenged, Halfullion’s sword swelled to a truly intimidating size.

"Don't be a fool!" Wylkynsion squealed. "His sword is bigger than me!"

"Size doesn’t matter! It’s how you use it!" shouted Earnur, lost in the excitement of the moment.

"Gentlemen, gentlemen, please," said Merisuwyniel, who, for some reason, had been forgotten in this heroic bout of manliness. "This entire discussion is irrelevant. As you could see, if you would only cast your eyes ten feet above you, this creature is clearly a dragon."

"HA!" said Earnur triumphantly. "Just as I said!"

"Actually," interposed Vogonwë, "I think that I am the one who brought up the possibility."

"What are you implying?" growled Etceteron.

"Well, I bet a balrog could beat this dragon in battle any day of the week," shouted Halfullion, trying to regain control of the situation.

By this point the dragon had placidly landed. If anyone had been thinking clearly at the moment they would have noticed that there was something different about this dragon. Not only was it not descending in blazing wrath, but it was also laden with large bundles. An even odder thing was that a well-dressed and hooded dwarf climbed down from the dragon and walked sedately toward where everyone was shouting at each other.

"Excuse me," the dwarf said.

"Eekk, where did you come from?" shrilled Pimpi in alarm.

"Erebor," answered the dwarf.

"That is not exactly what I meant," said Pimpi.

"Stand aside, civilians," bawled Halfullion. "I must dispose of yon vile worm!"

"What! Kill my pet?" said the dwarf in an alarmed tone of voice. "I’d really rather that you would not."

"Y-your pet?" stammered Orogarn Two.

"This has been a bizarre day," Merisuwyniel announced to the sky.

"Yes, my pet," said the dwarf. He pulled his hood from his head and for the first time everyone got a good look at him. He had neatly brushed light brown hair and beard, and twinkling blue-gray eyes. His clothes were very sharp. He wore a cloak of the deepest crimson with silver fringe. Under that he wore a full length coat of dark blue with gold embroidery along the edge. His tunic was as red as a cherry, with more gold embroidery. He wore a gold belt with an axe thrust into it, and his boots were impeccably polished. On a gold chain around his neck he wore a large golden dragon pendent.

"Kuruharan is my name. I’m a famous world-wandering adventurer who makes a humble living selling the trophies of my many adventures."

"In other words, you’re a traveling salesman," said Orogarn Two.

"Well…I…but…uh," sputtered the dwarf. "Allow me to introduce you to my associate," he said rather hurriedly.

"Chrysophylax Dives is my name," said the dragon. "I am a noble dragon of ancient and imperial lineage who now works with this magnificent…"

"Hark!" cried Vogonwë.

"Harken to what?" asked Chrysophylax, after a moment of awkward silence.

"Harwk, Hack, Hurk, Gag, Hora, Hualp, Spitooie!" said Vogonwë. A tremendous hairball went ‘splat’ on the ground.

"Eeeeewwwww!" groaned Merisuwyniel, Halfullion, Orogarn Two, Earnur, and Chrysophylax.

"Not again!" moaned Pimpi.

"Good grief!" exclaimed Kuruharan, eyeing the large hairball with some distaste. "My dear fellow, it’s lucky for you that I came along. I happen to be the only dwarf that I know of who is in possession of the rare and wondrous cure for your unfortunate affliction." The dwarf pulled a strange looking bottle out from somewhere in his robes.

"What is it?" asked Vogonwë, in a strange mixture of hope and trepidation.

"What is it? Um…revealing the ingredients would ruin the effect, so let’s just call it hair off the cat that bit you," said Kuruharan hastily. "I can give it to you for the low, low price of one-hundred pieces of gold."

"One-hundred! Forget it!" cried Vogonwë. "Hurgk, Buragmuh,…maybe I should reconsider." He promptly handed over the money.

"As a matter of fact, I’m sure I have something for each and every one of you," said the dwarf, going and unloading his bundles. "I have memorial urns and lockets here, for those annoying times when orcs kill off all your relatives. With these you will be able to keep the charred remains of your dearly departed with you at all times."

"Really?!" said Pimpi excitedly.

"And for you milady," Kuruharan said to Merisuwyniel. "Since you are obviously a member of the elite class of Elven shieldmaidens…," Kuruharan trailed off as he was rummaging through a large sack. What he pulled out was nothing less than a small forge.

"How is this thing going to help me?" asked a skeptical Merisuwyniel.

"Why this thing has more uses than the incarnate mind can possibly conceive!" enthused Kuruharan. "Just think of it! What could you do if the domineering, patriarchal swine try for one minute to infringe on your rights as a proud Elven shieldmaiden? With this port-a-forge you can publicly melt down your chainmail bra, that’s what you can do! Or if some poor, little girl’s cute, little pony needs shoeing, you can just whip out the port-a-forge and, hey presto, another good deed to make you feel all warm and squishy. And you gentlemen," continued Kuruharan to the three heroes, who were starting to feel somewhat neglected in this long-running sales-pitch. It was a feeling that Halfullion in particular was not used to. "For those of you who are interested in empire building, I have a certain plot of land that is just begging to have somebody come and found a kingdom on it. It has the perfect defensive attribute. Nobody wants to go there. And you’ll never be short of water. But if that is not to your taste, I have hundreds of potent talismans, charms, weapons, and cooking utensils that are perfect for any adventure. Take this little object for instance." Kuruharan pulled a metal spatula out of his pile. "This mystical object was given to me by a Wood-elf warrior. I had just pulled him free from a massive spider-web, after killing the giant spider that intended to have him for dinner. ‘This thing has always brought me luck,’ he said as he gave me the spatula. Yes sir, those were his dying words! ‘This thing has always brought me luck!’ Now who could resist owning an heirloom of such proven value? But don’t just take my word for it. Come, look at my goods and tell me what I can interest you in."

[ January 11, 2003: Message edited by: Kuruharan ]
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Old 01-11-2003, 10:30 AM   #12
The Barrow-Wight
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Question

Still aghast that he had stammered, an action completely foreign to him and until this moment unimagined, Orogarn Two strode forward and introduced himself to dragon and Dwarf, leaving the also newly arrived Earnur ungreeted but not forgotten.

“I am Orogarn Two, son of Orogarn One, son of The Orogarn Jr., son of The Orogarn, son of Garn Eight, son of Garn Seven, son of Kevin, son of Garn Six,…”

“Please jump to the end,” suggested Halfullion, rolling his eyes.

“Of course,” answered Orogarn Two, seemingly unhurt by the interruption. “I am Orogarn Two, son of Orogarn One, third cousin of Isildur, 84 times removed!”

He looked hard into Dwarvish eyes, but not a spark of recognition made itself visible. A similar gazing into dragonish orbs left him equally unknown. Sullenly, he continued.

“Have you, in the course of your journeys, perhaps, maybe, come upon a wallet of impressive size and more so the content? It went missing while wandering, and I fear I may have been burgled.”
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Old 01-11-2003, 11:29 PM   #13
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Boots

The dwarf suddenly felt frantically around his robes. "Whew! It's still there!" he announced after concluding his search.

"Yes, now, wallet...Let me see." Kuruharan went through various bags pulling out a number of wallets. "Do any of these look familiar? Although, I personally would not hold out much hope. These such are not the legendary wallets that great noblemen such as yourself bear. However, if you feel like you need to make do with something until you reclaim your own, some of these have interesting pasts, and I could let them go cheap."

Unbeknownst to the company, Chrysophylax slunk off to investigate the interesting horses that somebody negligently left standing by the fountain...

[ January 12, 2003: Message edited by: Kuruharan ]
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Old 01-12-2003, 03:37 PM   #14
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1420!

Vogonwë pulled the stopper out of the curious looking bottle of Hair Off the Cat that Bit You, and sniffed at it daintily. “Hmmm...smells...minty...but with a touch of hazelnut,” he commented.

Pimpi held her breath as she watched him take a sip. She half expected him to spit it out or clutch at his throat with screams of burning pain and torment, so odd and suspicious did the Dwarf and his dragon appear to her. They smacked of...adventures...

Vogonwë smacked his lips together and took another sip. “It’s really quite good!” he declared. “Tastes like the special tea the Blue Faerie made when I visited her hidden enclave as a young lad. Fresh, and...minty.”

“Can I try some?” Pimpi requested, overcoming her suspicions at the suggestion of a tasty drink.

“No! I mean, uh, no darling. You don’t have that same...uh...problem that I do. It might be harmful for one of your excellent health,” Vogonwë said nervously, clutching the bottle to the grey-brown fabric of his shirt.

“Oh,” Pimpi said with a sigh, and turned her dewy sapphire eyes on him with a bat of her eyelashes.

Vogonwë was strangely unmoved by the pitiful expression in those lovely eyes, and he replaced the stopper on the bottle. He was beginning to contemplate what words rhymed with minty, hazelnut, and fresh, when the little black cat began to paw at his leg.

“Berugheera has hairballs,” Pimpi said.

“Hissssss, mreeeeeow,” Vogonwë said to the cat, and it slunk away with an injured expression.

Pimpi was going to express her shocked horror and displeasure at his behavior, but something diverted her attention. Namely, the fact that her half-eaten apple was beginning to brown. This bothered her immensely, and with a wrinkle of her little button nose, she tossed the fruit over her shoulder into the gurgling water of the fountain.

[ January 13, 2003: Message edited by: Diamond18 ]
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Old 01-12-2003, 03:49 PM   #15
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Pipe

Halfullion yawned langorously and wondered briefly whether he had enough clean laundry for a long trip. Thinking of his saddlebags brought his great steed Tofu to his mind. It was at this point that a connection between the smell of roasting horse and absent Giant Wyrm was made in his underemployed grey matter.

“By gum!” he exclaimed, and dashed off, thoroughly confusing the merchant Dwarf who had produced several packs of the required masticatory substance from his voluminous robes, seemingly now unwanted. Merisuwyniel watched the Lord Gormlessar make his dramatic egress with a pang of envy at his wondrous hair, only enhanced by the swift passage of wind through its finely tuned locks.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Barely out of breath, Halfullion came upon a scene that could only be described by a long descriptive passage. Being in something of a hurry to save his horse, he skipped it and addressed the large diner, who had already consumed one of The Last Grown Homely Cows finest equine residents, Dehdmete.

“Cease, fell beast,” he started bravely. “These fine examples of horse-hood are for riding and company, not luncheon. Hast thou no manners?”

“I’m terribly sorry,” grumbled the dragon, turning a baleful eye upon the tall Knight. “They do not seem to feed larger quests adequately here. Or at all, if it could be said.”

Halfullion was a thoughtful chap and noticed the bale. “Dear Chrysophylax…um…Mr. Dives, you seem to have a bale on your eye.”

“Hay, you’re right,” said the dragon, surprised. “Thanks!”

“Don’t mention it,” said Halfullion. “Now, I suggest that if you fly over to the great dining hall yonder,” and he pointed, “you shall find a more suitable repast.”

“Those heights look particularly wuthering,” said the dragon doubtfully.

“Beg pardon?” pleaded Halfullion with some bemusement. “You mean weathered?”

“Ah, yes. Thank you again,” said Chrysophylax, and took off in the direction so pointed.

Now thinking about lunch, Halfullion decided to suggest it to the gathering Company. He made his way back, to the udder side of the bovine fountain. He discovered the others still deep in converse, not without certain confusion and lack of coherence. He sensed Merisuyniel becoming impatient. He hoped she would not become disgruntled; he infinitely preferred her fully gruntled, and oft-times wished he could supply her with the gruntle she needed, so as never to become disgruntled again.

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

His suggestion about lunch had gone down very well with Merisuwyniel, who was fond of eating out, herself. Their gracious host at The Last of the Home Grown Cows, Lord MacDoneld had supplied them all with a most happy meal, but the seated diners, outside in the Bovine Garden, where tables had been brought, were puzzled to see that Halfullion was not eating with them.

“What ails thee, sir?” asked Orogarn Two, eyes as piercing as ever.

“Ah, Tofu carries all the nutrition I require,” replied Halfullion politely. He couldn’t quite reach the great steed’s saddlebags and so had to clamber upon a soapbox to facilitate the process of obtaining lunch. When he had fetched his provisions, he did indeed sit down with them all, and a hearty and enjoyable luncheon was had.
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Old 01-13-2003, 01:24 AM   #16
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Sting

In one of the soggier deltas of the Entwash, a tall and stooping figure with ashen green hair shuffled slowly towards the well that stood behind his hut. Pettygast reached out with a tired hand to clutch the frayed rope and gently let the bucket downward, then hoisted it back up again. Perhaps the cold, sparkling waters would wash away his memories and ease the pain that assaulted his mind.

The ladle of water was fresh and sweet, but did little to assuage his doubts or fears. For the past one hundred and sixty-seven nights, he had witnessed the same vision parading before his eyes in the depths of sleep. Every evening, an image came strong and clear at the deepest hour of dreaming, haunting his mind and offering little possibilty of relief.

Before him stood a large storage cupboard filled with all manner of wooden utensils, tools, and furniture. Spoons, bowls, broken chair legs and broom handles, arrows, and cups--he could not even name all the paraphernalia which was excitedly jumping up and down on the shelves. And always the same cry rose up to his ear, "Heeelp us! Save ussss! Avenge usss!"

Pettygast shuddered. He had no idea what any of that meant. But the meaning of the next scene was utterly clear, and even more disheartening.

Pettygast could see himself stepping onto the Good Ship Lollipop which was about to set sail to the Place Beyond the Great Rift and the Bent Seas which no one can get to but where everyone wants to go. This was truly something that his heart desired. Yet, just before that ship hoisted sail and turned about, the majestic figure of the Fruit-Giver stood before him and barred the entry with her body, throwing a bucket of rotten apples and peaches down on his head.

"You may not journey West, Pettygast. Not until each and every piece has been reassembled. For you owe this duty to the Ents, since you have long been designated as their guardian, and have done nothing whatsoever to assist them, neither in their hunt for the Entwives nor in any other thing."

"Go now to the Last Home Grown Cows, and seek for the Ent that was broken. Only then may you earn the forgiveness of the Mighty and come at last to the place where no one can get to but where everyone wants to go."

Pettygast signed. He could no longer fight the vision. He seized his staff of living wood, in the shape of a young sapling, and stood upon the hillside, calling out loudly to the winds, "Hee-haw, Hee-haw," as was his usual custom. Within minutes, his faithful donkey Hummus appeared, and he mounted on her back, riding off at a fearful pace into the blackness of the night.

[ January 13, 2003: Message edited by: Child of the 7th Age ]
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Old 01-13-2003, 07:43 AM   #17
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Silmaril

The guests had enjoyed the hospitality of the Elven Farm for two days, visiting the stables, the barns, the coops, the pens and all of the other delightful sights the enclave had to offer. On the morning of the third day, after a heartening breakfast (two for Pimpiowyn, who arose early so as to have time for an extra meal), they heard the melodious sound of a cow-bell summoning them to the council of Roneld.

They met in the gazebo where their host awaited them. The lovely Merisuwyniel, dressed festively as behooved the occasion in a royal blue divided skirt (practical, yet feminine) with a white ruffled blouse, was herself quite unruffled. She sat next to Roneld with one strong yet delicate hand resting lightly on the bow propped up next to her.

Those who had not yet met the ruler of the Hidden Valley Ranch were impressed by his imposing appearance. Orogarn Two gazed at the mithril circlet on his brow with a twinge of jealousy, wishing that he too could have a kingdom of his own and wear such royal insignia. Earnur wished to ask him the secret of his perpetually arched (very manly) eyebrows, whilst Halfullion noted in amazement a highly unusual accessory – small, round pieces of darkened glass held before Roneld’s eyes with a most cunning device made of wire.

Pimpiowyn wondered if there might perchance be pockets in Roneld’s flowing robes and if so, whether any of them might possibly contain food. Vogonwë, seated next to her, was not thinking of their host at all, but trying to find a rhyme for ‘gazebo’ in order to compose an epic poem about the occasion.

Kuruharan patted the wallet in his pocket, pleased with the first income of the day, from the sale of those ‘speck-tackles’, as their inventor had called them, to Roneld. Chrysophylax laid curled up around the gazebo; everyone pretended not to notice him, since no one cared to send that unsummoned guest away.

Roneld cleared his throat impressively before speaking welcoming words to the assembled company, which included many more illustrious persons, such as the Elf Gloryfinder, afterwards ignominiously forgotten.

“You have come with questions,” Roneld addressed them. “Here they shall be answered.”

Vogonwë turned a puzzled gaze to Pimpiowyn and whispered, “Did we have a question, darling?”

“Shhh!” she admonished him. “Just listen.”

“Orogarn Two,” Roneld continued, “you have come from afar seeking to resolve a riddle. Please tell us what it is.”

Orogarn Two stood and recited:

Seek for the Ent that was broken:
With the Cow Keeper it dwells;
There shall nonsense be spoken
More wicked than Dulldor-spells.
There shall be a token dwarf
A half-elf, elf, wizard and man,
For Isildur's cousin shall waken,
And form a big-hair 80’s band.


“I will consult the Book of Malbeth for the answer,” Roneld suggested, paging through a large volume that lay on the coffee table before him. “Let me see…s, seek, seek for…here it is!

Seek for the chip that was broken,
In Microsoft it dwells;
There shall passwords be spoken
More cryptic than Apple’s spells.


“No, I am sorry – wrong Age!” He continued paging, finally closing the book regretfully. “I cannot find this riddle; we shall have to seek the solution ourselves.”

Halfullion sprang to his feet, eager to show his superior understanding of the poetic word. “The interpretation is actually quite obvious: The Cow Keeper is Roneld, the races spoken of are represented here – except for a wizard, but who wants one of them meddling in our affairs?”

“I am Isildur’s cousin, 84 times removed,” Orogarn Two interrupted, happy to have a reason for proclaiming his lineage.

“But what is the Ent that was broken?” Earnur shouted, not wanting to be left out.

Kuruharan watched the proceedings silently, since he could see no possibility for profit so far.

All eyes turned to Merisuwyniel, who blushed becomingly at being the centre of interest. She arose gracefully and told the assembled company the astounding story of an Ent, old and venerable, cruelly hewn by orcs for its wood, made into weapons and other objects for their foul purposes. When she finished, she sat down, waiting expectantly for their reactions.

They stared in stunned and shocked silence, except for Vogonwë, who was fishing for a piece of paper in his pockets, in order to jot down “bent” as a rhyme for “Ent” before he could forgot it. Pimpiowyn was the first to speak.

“But what does this have to do with us?”

“Bring forth the Ent that was broken!” Roneld spoke commandingly to Merisuwyniel.

She laid her mighty bow on the coffee table, strangely loth to release it from her gentle grip.

“This bow was part of that Ent and indeed is still alive, seeking to be reunited with the other parts of its original Entity and to revenge itself upon its oppressors,” Roneld proclaimed.

“What, that plain old wooden bow, that looks like it belongs to some peasant?” Etceteron exclaimed disdainfully.

A humming sound began, growing ever louder and louder until it was almost unbearable. Suddenly a mighty voice chanted slowly and deliberately:

i dont know enuff 2 b
here but i dont care u c
wots a maiar???/ plz tell me
c u l8er ppl!!!


“Who dares to utter that dreadful language here, among the learned?” thundered Roneld. "Every time it is spoken, a skwerl dies!"

All stared at the bow in amazement.

“Let us hope that none will ever speak it here again,” Merisuwyniel answered. “I will do what is necessary to hinder the onslaught of the Black Tongue. Yet the important question is, what can we do to aid the Entish Bow in its quest for reunification and revenge?”

[ January 13, 2003: Message edited by: Estelyn Telcontar ]
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Old 01-13-2003, 03:25 PM   #18
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Pipe

"The bow is...entient?" breathed Halfullion, standing to stare at the finely carved wood. "I can scarcely believe it. So this is the root of the matter."

Merisuwyniel grasped the Bow protectively. "Sit down, my liege," she said firmly. "Don't let this discussion branch out."

Halfullion knew that with him, her bark was worse than her bite, but still he sat, somewhat demurely. She smiled prettily at him.

The Dwarf merchant growled suddenly. "If the Bow is the problem, let us rid ourselves of it!" And with a great cry he swung his axe high into the sky and looked for all the world as if he would smote the great weapon as it lay on the table before him.

"Hold!" came a ringing tone, and Halfullion had bounded back to his feet, his sword out, as if to prove a receiver for Kuruharan's assault upon the curved horn before them. "Get thee hence, Dwarf. This bow requires more courtesy."

"I am no chicken," muttered Kuruharan, but he withdrew. Halfullion again returned to his seat and an uneasy silence fell upon the Council. The air was warm and soothing against their skins, and slowly, the relaxation of the valley seeped into them, and the tension dissipated. Yet still, Halfullion felt the eye of Lord Roneld, the chief agent of the Elves in this place, upon him. Finally, the mood between them snapped, as Roneld leaned forward to stare straight at Halfullion. The great Knight felt beads of sweat form on his broad and manly forehead as the Lord seemed to gaze into his very soul. The black lenses of the Elf's ocular contraption concealed the eyes, hiding all trace of emotion.

"It seems you have been living two lives, Mr Gormlessar," said Roneld slowly and deliberately. "In one life, you are Lord Halfullion Gormlessar, the Elf-Stoned, a mighty warrior, a Hero, whose deeds excite rumour wherever your great name is spread. In the other, you are Halfull, a philandering, womanising drun..."

Lord Gormlessar hastily cut him off. "This is no time for this discussion!" he hissed. Lord Roneld showed no sign of anger at being so rudely interrupted and merely inclined his head impassively, and sat back in his great chair. Halfullion began to breath again, although he could feel questioning eyes upon him. He smiled around at the assembled, relying on his inherent charisma.

At this point, an odd thing happened. The Dwarf Kuruharan returned bearing several plump and squawking hens. Halfullion sighed. It was Pimpi who laughed the hardest, however, realising that Halfullion's earlier comment had been hilariously misunderstood. A great wave of laughter rippled around the table, leaving mirthful tears in its wake. Halfullion slapped the table so hard that he hurt the palm of his hand. Even Roneld smiled, showing appreciation, even for such paltry humour.

The moment passed, however, and Roneld called the Council to order. "Merisuwyniel is correct," he said. 'The question of this Bow must be resolved now, by these assembled."

"I am half-Elven," suggested Halfullion. "And fair Merisuwyniel is completely that way. Perhaps we are the best to tend to it, we are strong."

"Nay, Sir Gormlessar," interjected Orogarn Two. "Roneld is correct. We must reform or destroy this great item, or else it will become the curse of all of us."

Merisuwyniel frowned but said nothing.

"What then do you suggest?" asked Lord Etceteron, off-hand.

Confused by Etceteron's talking appendage, Orogarn Two took a minute to reply. "I'm not sure," he said finally. "It would take magic beyond us gathered to return it to its owner unscathed. And I know not how to destroy such a great item. My insight, granted me" and he gripped the stone around his neck "tells me that fire will not scorch it."

"No fire we can create..." breathed Merisuwyniel, the sparks of an idea forming.

Halfullion brusquely blew out the candle of her idea. "If you are thinking of trekking to Mordor, you're insane. There is no light there," he said, darkly.
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Old 01-13-2003, 03:52 PM   #19
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Silmaril

There was silence. Leaves would have undoubtedly drifted to the ground in a dramatic fashion, if there had been any trees in the immediate vicinity of the gazebo. As it was, a few scales loosened from Chrysophylax’s hide as he shifted his large derrière.

Pimpi spoke up in a small voice; "Um...before we start thinking about Mordor...are you sure this really has anything to do with me? Because I couldn’t help but notice that in Orogorn Two’s little ditty there was no mention of hobbits, or half-hobbits. Half-things, if you will."

Roneld replied, "It seems that you are living two lives, Pimpiowyn—"

"Are you going to say that to everyone?" Halfullion wondered, interrupting him in a most un-knightly fashion.

Roneld's eyebrows twitched disapprovingly, but he continued, "On the one hand, you are a carefree hobbit living your life in complacency amongst the cows. And you help your elf-friend write out his...poetry. On the other, you are the daughter of Éohorse, a Valiant Man of the Mike, and it is your duty to avenge his death. Did you not take an oath to kill or observe the killing of the Orcs who slew your parents?"

"Oh," Pimpi said, "We’re going to kill Orcs?"

"Naturally; one does not simply call a Council and not resolve to kills Orcs. One's conscience would not let one sleep," Roneld told her.

Pimpi smiled. "In that case, I will go on this mission...quest...thing... Even if I have been left out of the lists, as so often happens."

Vogonwë was jotting something down onto his wrist, and he replied absently, "If Pimpi’s going I’ll come along, or you’d have to tie me up in a sack to keep me away...a black knapsack woven out of hay...in May...." He began to move his pen with an inspired excitement, and Pimpi had to stop him before he harmed a vein.

Roneld looked around at the rest of the assembly. "Great! We have at least two people willing to aide Merisuwyniel’s bow. But exactly how is yet to be decided. Such things are usually resolved by a journey of some sort, as the power of the Elven-cows can not re-forge living things. So, where are you going?"

[ January 13, 2003: Message edited by: Diamond18 ]
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Old 01-13-2003, 04:16 PM   #20
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Sting

Pettygast's donkey had run fiercely for 1.3 leagues and had then slowed down to his normal plodding pace. In fact, he now dragged his feet even more than he usually did. Hummus placed one hoof in front of the other quite deliberately, as if she was determined to bear the wizard as slowly as possible. Pettygast sighed and wondered if the dumb creature was somehow in league with the Shadow. He wouldn't put anything past the beast.

Then the great headache came, like an arrow through the dark, and with it a piercing vision of all that was happening. They were squabbing. The silly fools at the meeting were squabbling with each other. He expected them to come to blows at any second.

Ah, no, this was not the way. Could they not hear the little cups and broken chair legs crying? Reassemble us. Make us whole again. Burning that poor Bow would achieve nothing, and even kiling the Orcs would do but half a job. The Bow was but one tiny part of a magical whole, and even if it should perish, the broomsticks and spoons and matchsticks would unite, and again put forth their ceaseless clamor. Every single splinter must be laid bare and rescued.

Drastic situations call for drastic means. Pettygast knew he really shouldn't do what he was considering doing. This was one of those matters carefully spelled out in the fine print of his contract.

If Fruit-Giver saw this, or, even worse, Hurler of Lightning Bolts, he would be in hot water. But the Mighty were far away in the Place beyond the Great Rift and the Bent Seas which no one can get to but where everyone wants to go. What did they know of the perils that he faced out here in the darkness?

As a feeling of frustration theatened to overcome him, he reached for his trusted sapling and sat down on top of it, bidding his donkey Hummus do the same. Then he told the staff to lift off into the air, with the speed and power of a great eagle. If it ran true and straight, he would be there in but a few moments. The green sapling took off true and straight in the exact opposite direction that he had told it to go.

[ January 14, 2003: Message edited by: Child of the 7th Age ]
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Old 01-13-2003, 11:05 PM   #21
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Boots

A mysterious noise of muted clucking and squawking began to disturb the company. At first they tried to ignore it, but it continued to grow louder.

'BUCK-AAAWWWWW!' *Thwack*

Suddenly, a shapeless white mass plopped itself squarely in front of them. Even more alarming, it immediately jumped up and started charging about the gazebo like a headless chicken.

"Ah-ha!" cried Halfullion. "A crazed beast of the enemy sent to slay me! Have at thee!"
He drew his sword with a dramatic flare and took a vicious swing at the peculiar assailant. Unfortunately, the result was a little unexpected. Due to some inexplicable idiosyncrasy of the wondrous blade, it had shrunk down to about two inches in length and all Lord Gormlessar accomplished with his mighty swing was losing his balance and ending up in a heap on the floor. "Momentary set-back!" he cried to reassure Merisuwyniel, who no doubt was beside herself in worry and consternation at seeing the plight of her fallen beau.

"Pawh-hawh-hawh-hawh!!" howled Merisuwyniel.

"Come back here varmint!" yelled Kuruharan, surging into the gazebo axe in hand, in pursuit of the unknown attacker.

Lord Roneld had leapt from his seat and had been trying to restore order by hopping about and flapping his arms like a deranged flamingo. However, the charging Kuruharan tripped over the arising Halfullion, went flying into Lord Roneld, and the two of them bounced out of the gazebo and crashed down on the ground.

"Time for the real hero to show his skill!" cried Earnur, hoping desperately that Merisuwyniel was watching. Out came the dread blade Wylkynsion. "Let me at 'em!" At 'em went Wylkynsion. Alas, the thing zigged when Earnur was anticipating a zag. The dread blade Wylkynsion ended up buried to the hilt in Lord Roneld's chair.

"Idiot!"

The rest of the company was so fascinated by the close passes that disaster was making at their heads that they could scarcely move, or maybe it was the violent spasms of laughter which held them immobilized.

It was good fortune that the thing made a tactical miscalculation in choosing Halfullion to be the next thing that it ran over.

"Got ya!" Halfullion cried in triumph. Surely Merisuwyniel would be impressed now. She certainly was.

"Ha-ha, ho-ho it seems to be...hee hee hee, some type of barnyard fowl!" she gasped.

"Humph! Could be that you are right," Halfullion snorted. "The reason why it was running about like a chicken with it's head cut off is, that it was a chicken with it's head cut off. Oh well, I still get hero points for catching the beast!"

"And if you'll hand it to me," said a slightly disheveled Kuruharan, "it can go join it's friends in the chicken fry that Chrysophylax is cooking up."

"Good idea!" cried Pimpi who instantly dashed off to where Chrysophylax sat exercising his culinary skills.

"But we just ate," objected Merisuwyniel.

"And after all that exercise we need to replenish our strength," replied Kuruharan.

"Hmm, yon dwarf may be right. My belly growls like an angry puma," said Halfullion.

"Ooof, oy, hup," grunted Earnur in his attempts to free his blade. "We can continue planning over fried chicken. Ah, there!" he said as Wylkynsion started to come free.

"'Bout time!"

Seeing that everyone save for her and her two gallants had already gone to eat (with the exception of Lord Roneld who was still flopped unconscious on the ground) she relented. "All right, but really we must get some business done!" she said in an adorably, pouty way as they moved off.

[ January 14, 2003: Message edited by: Kuruharan ]
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Old 01-14-2003, 12:17 AM   #22
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Sting

A small fox, passing by on business of his own, stopped for several minutes and sniffed. Finally finding the discarded chicken head, he sat crunching it thoughtfully while observing the not-so-secret council/BBQ from the shelter of the bushes.

“Ummagumma! What next? Several species of Elves, Men, Half-Men, Half-Halflings, and Dwarves, Gathered Together in a Gazebo and Grooving with a Stick? There’s something mighty queer behind this.”

He was quite right, but he never found out any more about it, since he immediately dashed off to sell what he did know to the highest bidder.

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Old 01-14-2003, 01:13 AM   #23
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Sting

After hours of wrangling with his sapling, Pettygast finally got the blasted thing pointed in the general direction of Elven Farm. As he angled in for his landing, he looked down with remembered fondness at the familiar face of the small fox who munched contentedly on the discarded chicken head, a sly and knowing grin plastered on her face.

With a splat, his staff descended in the middle of the council/BBQ, throwing the donkey Hummus some ways over to the side. The wizard looked about in complete panic: Elves, Men, Half-Men, Half-Halflings, and Dwarves. There was no way he could possibly remember all these names. Hopefully, since he was only a cameo wizard, no one would seriously expect him to be a whiz at names. Or at anything else, for that matter.

Best get his message out of the way. Perhaps, then he could go get a plate of chicken and keep his mouth closed for the remainder of the session. That is closed except for the chewing part.

With a flourish, he bowed low before the assembled horde who were frankly paying little attention to him. He tried pounding on the table with his sapling staff, which seemed to have but little effect.

"Ahem!" He cleared his throat and again strove to command their attention, but with only limited success. Still, a few of the folk were listening. Mainly, it was those who were waiting in the buffet line who hadn't managed to fill their plates yet.

"You there, with your mouths full, and those waiting still for chicken dinners, I have a message to deliver from the Mighty Fruit-Giver. She would say thus to you: 'In your passion and your fury for the entient bow, forget not that others still await on the shelf. Forget not the cries of the poor broom handles, and chair legs. Nor the spoons, or forks or even the broken bowls. For these too clamor for revenge, and to be reunited with their brother, the great Entish bow.'"

And at this point a thing of wonder occurred. And all who saw it dropped their plates. For the Entish bow let out a mighty groan, and a single tear dropped down to the ground to mingle with the sacred white sand. Nor could any say how that sand had appeared from nowhere for surely it was from the Place beyond the Great Rift and the Bent Seas where no one can get to but everyone wants to go, and indeed was not native to Elven Farm.

Pimpi set down her chicken leg and fixed a luscious eye on the wizard. "So will you come along with us on this quest thingie to uncover the guilty Orcs."

"Nay, for my own task lies in another direction." Here Pettygast sighed deeply. "I must search the bazaars and the rummage bins of Middle-earth until every splinter of this Ent be lain bare, and these pieces I shall bring to you. For somehow and someway, they must be reassembled."

"Yet still, if some day in bitter need, you think that you require my skills, I will surely strive to come."

Sir Gormlessar spluttered out a protest, "Here, here, this is not reasonable. For how shall we call to you from the other end of the world?"

"Gormlessar, you of small faith and even smaller mind, doubt not that I will come when called. Just sit tight and range forth your fea in the manner of the Mighty. The call to which I answer is the same one that will draw Hummus, my gentle beast, to my side." Then he raised his hand to his mouth and hallooed "HeeHaw, HeeHaw", and the donkey instantly reappeared.

He retired to the buffet line and helped himself to a piece of chicken, and found a modest place to eat, for truly he wished only to keep quiet now and think on what others would say.

[ January 14, 2003: Message edited by: Child of the 7th Age ]
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Old 01-14-2003, 06:52 AM   #24
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Sting

The mighty Lord Earnur Etceteron was feeling distinctly confused. In the past few days a lot of very peculiar things seemed to have happened very quickly, and only now did he feel that he had sufficient grasp of the situation to sum up his manly confusion. Putting down a paper plate half-filled with half-eaten chicken, he looked squarely at the bizarre newcomer in the slightly awkward manner of one restrained from speech by the demands of mastication. "Mfff mm mmff mm..." he ventured, accompanying this intellectual sally with violent gesticulation in the vain opinion that this would stave off further conversation until his mouth was in a fit state to join it. In this intent he failed miserably, as Pettygast was already far progressed in the buffet queue by the time he could swallow, and besides there were other matters to attend to before the council could reach a conclusion.

To this end, the mighty Lord Etceteron addressed himself to the hugely complicated task of removing the mighty sword Wylkynsion from his host's once-valuable antique chair. His mouth by now clear of its fowling, he felt ready to venture yet more opinion on the matter: "Sorry," he said, forgetting his mythic status in his general confusion and embarrassment. "That happens from time to time." but inside his head bitter words were being spoken:
I'll 'ave yer fer that, yer flamin' great ponce! Oos 'and was 'oldin' me bleedin' 'ilts eh? Yours, yer pillock. All I said was that you could 'ave them girlie fairies wiv wun 'and be'ind yer back. Owww! Yer bugger! Mind me bleedin' quillions! I swear I'm gunna....

This conversation was cut mercifully short as the great blade tore free of the now decisively defeated chair, neatly depositing sword and bearer in a crumpled mess on the floor.

Mustering his routed dignity, Lord Etceteron placed his errant sword upon the great conference table. Although everyone was more concerned with queueing for dinner by this point, he felt compelled to draw attention to his manly decision:
"An 'tis needed, mine brand is at the service of this company." he intoned gravely; but the effect was marred by the brief debate about this decision that went on in his head once the valiant words had been spoken:

If you fink I'm doin' a job wiv that bunch of muppets you've anuvva fink comin', Sunshine.

"Yet their quest promises great glory, O my blade."

Great glory?! That bleedin' 'ippy 'oo just turned up's lookin' arahnd a load uv bleedin' jumble sales! It'll be like that job we pulled up in Forochel where 'arf the bleedin' company went doolally an' we 'ad ter be rescued by them bleedin' snowmen!

"Yet verily 'tis a noble enterprise. And thou art but a sword. The decision is mine."

Oh yeah? We'll see about that. I won't draw. Ye'll 'ave ter use a bleedin' extendin' potato knife like that uvver berk.

"Oh go on. There'll be fighting...erm...eth."

Chance ter give someone a good kickin'?

"We may be called upon to vanquish many foes, yes"

Awright, mate; yerron. This goes tits up, mind, and I'll 'ave yer guts fer garters.

"Then we are decided." he thought. Then he cried "I shall undertake this quest, though it lead through the foulest bring-and-buy sales in all Middle-earth. Yea though it bring us unto the dreaded Closing-Down Sale of Souls, or the Charity Shop of Doom, nevertheless shall I do my part. Behold! I swear these things upon my naked weapon, and so pledge myself to this great cause!"

This mighty vow having been greeted with the approval it merited (there was some half-hearted jolly-gooding from the front of the lunch queue, where the proximity of food had inspired a spirit of charity. At the other end, the great pledge of Lord Etceteron went entirely unnoticed in the shoving), Earnur retrieved his flask, pipe and tobacco pouch from various sable pockets about his nighted garments and began his lunch in earnest. He had been gasping for a shot of whatever he'd last filled the flask with since the meeting had begun, and his unwonted antics during its course had only put an edge on his thirst. Stuffing his bowl with rough shag, Lord Earnur settled down to blow smoke rings and drink hard liquor until order might be restored. He'd had a lot of close shaves while carrying the sword Wylkynsion, he mused, but this seemed the closest yet. Still, a nice sharpen and polish would mollify the blade.

Wot's "mollify" mean? asked Wylkynsion, clearly affected by the word despite its ignorance of its meaning; and with that Lord Etceteron began to while away the long minutes before he could again legitimately claim everyone's attention in improving the word power of his offensive weapon.

[ January 14, 2003: Message edited by: Squatter of Amon Rudh ]
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Old 01-14-2003, 12:13 PM   #25
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Silmaril

After a few dainty nibbles on a chicken wing (yes, they did have wings, although they did not fly) Merisuwyniel’s bird-like appetite was satisfied. She looked around the assembled company of handsome, yet blundering, heroes and other persons, all of whom seemed more interested in filling their plates than finding a solution for the problem at hand. No immediate course of action was to be expected from them.

Quietly she stole away, fully intending to bring it back when she was finished with it. Gracefully and purposefully she strode to the stable. Falafel whinnied a greeting as she approached, nuzzling her pocket in anticipation of the apple she had stowed there. She stroked his mane absently, then impulsively swung herself onto his back. One word, whispered into his ear, and they galloped out of the stable.

Her long blond tresses flowed behind her like a banner as she headed for the fields surrounding Elven Farm. Falafel needed neither saddle nor bridle, for they were as one, sensing each other’s wishes and knowing each other’s thoughts. Soon they reached the forest path, slowing slightly as the trees grew closer. A slight motion in the shadows commanded Merisuwyniel’s attention, and her sharp Elven eyes discerned a fox trotting away.

Quick! Fit an arrow to me! she felt the bow command.

But why? she wondered. This creature is neither foe nor prey.

But it is up to mischief, came the answer. I can see it in its face. And I say to you, though the fox does not endanger us now, it will bring peril to our mission if we let it live. It is as bad as an Orc, and deserves death.

Deserves it?! Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. On the other hand, some that live deserve life, and some that die deserve death. Woe is me – what ever shall I do?
There was a brief interruption as Falafel, who misinterpreted her thoughts, stopped suddenly. Realizing in shame that he had fallen into the pitfall of a homophone, he resumed his pace. Merisuwyniel’s train of thought was not derailed by such a minor stop. It’s such a cute little animal and couldn’t possibly do anything harmful to us. My heart tells me that we may meet again and it may have some part to play in our story. Then again, it may not…

The bow vibrated dangerously, but it could not take action by itself and fell silent sullenly. Falafel turned his steps back to the Farm, galloping once more just to give his mistress the pleasure of feeling her hair blowing in the wind. When they reached the stable, Merisuwyniel leaped to the ground, took fond leave of Falafel and strode back in the direction of the gazebo, hoping that the others had finished their repast by now.

[ January 14, 2003: Message edited by: Estelyn Telcontar ]
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Old 01-14-2003, 05:30 PM   #26
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Silmaril

The rest of the company was hardly aware of Vogonwë's presence this entire time, as he had retreated into a world located in the left side of his brain, if it was to be found in his brain at all.

Once he got his plate of chicken, he sat alone with the plate on one knee, and a piece of paper on his other (Pimpi had been so kind as to fetch a ream for him). He began by transcribing the notes upon his hand and wrist onto the scroll, and then fresh words began to pour from the left side of his mind (if they poured from his mind at all).

In one hand he held a pen, and in the other he gracefully gripped the bottle of Hair Off the Cat that Bit You. Every now and then he would pause from his feverish scribbling to take a sip from the curious little bottle, but he allowed his chicken to become cold. Pimpi came by and tried to engage him in conversation, but he hardly paid any attention to her, save to ask for a few sticky rhymes. So she helped herself to his chicken, and left again without his noticing.

This would be the greatest poem he had ever composed, he thought with heady enthusiasm. He could envision the name already: The Lay of the Entish Bow and The Hunting of the Orcs, Fit the First: The Council/BBQ of Roneld. The motivation and various particulars of the Quest were unimportant to him beyond their potential for epic verse. Even the arrival of the Wizard was of little consequence, except that he was delighted to realize that Pettygast the Green Wizard rhymed nicely with A Repast of Chicken Gizzards.

Vogonwë took yet another sip of the delicious minty hazelnut liquid, and noted for a fleeting moment that though the bottle was small and he had been imbibing generously for two days, it was not yet even half empty. This thought only flitted through his mind for a moment, for he was soon trying to come up with a rhyme for Wylkynsion, and all other matters were forgot.
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Old 01-15-2003, 09:55 AM   #27
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Silmaril

Lord Roneld observed the barbeque queue and sighed. Why did business lunches always end like this? The plates were fuller than the heads, and soon the digestive process would rob the gathering of its last remnant of decisive energy. He had to take action soon.

What should he do with this motley crew of half-elves, half-heroes and half-halflings, to say nothing of the dragon?! His allies were not getting thinner! How could he rid himself of them before they ate him out of house and farm and wrecked his furniture with their blundering weapons? Slowly a thought evolved, an idea that gave his eyes a slightly malicious gleam, though none could see it through the black circles perched on either side of his nose. The thought grew and culminated in one word: Mother-in-law!

He noted Merisuwyniel’s return and beckoned her to him. A few whispered words, and she lifted her lovely soprano voice in one clear tone, rising in height and strength until it reached a voluminous high C. The drinking glasses on the table shattered, everyone looked up from their plates in astonishment, and Roneld finally had their undivided attention. Unfortunately, his satisfaction was marred by the fact that his darkened eyeglasses were also shattered, so that he had to proceed without them.

“Friends, Rohans, countrymen, lend me your ears! You shall have them back anon. This noble Entish bow requires help on a quest fraught with great danger. Sides may be split by weapons or laughter before this adventure is over. I dare not command any of you, but I ask: Who will go with fair Merisuwyniel and the bow on a mission of revenge and recovery?”

Lord Halfullion Gormlessar hesitated not an instant before stepping to her side, proclaiming, “You have my sword!”

Earnur Etceteron dashed over and exclaimed, “Hey, I already offered her mine!”

Orogarn Two shrugged and said, “Well, even if you don’t have my wallet, I can go with you. The prophecy must be good for something.”

Pimpiowyn piped up, “I will join the company to avenge my parents.”

Vogonwë snapped out of his poetic reverie as all eyes focused on him and absently added, “Um, yes, me too.”

Kuruharan had been silently calculating the possibilities for lucrative endeavours and spoke up, “You have my dragon, but only on a leasing basis.”

“Speak for yourself,” Chrysophylax growled. “What’s in it for me?”

“Well,” said Pettygast, “someone has to scour the Shire, Rohan and Gondor for more pieces of the Ent That Was Broken, so that will be my mission.”

“Wonderful!” Roneld called out, secretly relieved. “There will be seven of you travelling, eight if we include the wizard, nine if we count the dragon, ten if we consider the bow sentient, fourteen with the horses – no, fifteen, I forgot the donkey.”

’Ere, wot about me? Wylkynsion interjected, but only Etceteron heard him.

Roneld continued, “You shall be called the Multiple, Choice Questers!”

Excitement rose high as all thronged to the buffet one more time to make sure that they were adequately provided with nourishment before leaving. Then the gazebo emptied and the company dispersed to pack their bags.

° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° °

When they regathered with their various paraphernalia and mounts, Roneld stood at the gate with his family and personnel to make sure they all left – um, to bid them farewell. Merisuwyniel and Halfullion led the group on Falafel and Tofu, with Earnur close behind them astride Baklava. Vogonwë had mounted Pasdedeux by means of a double somersault followed by a twist, while Pimpiowen had been helped up behind him more conventionally. Kuruharan walked beside Chrysophylax, since the dragon was not to fly for the time being. Pettygast sat on Hummus, staff in hand. The only member of their company without a beast of burden was Orogarn Two.

Vogonwë was the first to notice. “Pray tell, where is your equine companion?” he asked.

The man lifted his head proudly and declaimed, “Orogarn Two has no horse, Orogarn Two needs no horse!”

Pimpi had noticed something else. “Just where are we going?” she asked. “Does anyone know?”

All eyes turned to Merisuwyniel, who turned and looked to Roneld.

“You will travel to Topfloorien, the Elven Highrise Apartflet Complex,” he answered. There shall you receive aid from my kindred. Indeed, happy were the days when we visited them for the great festivities of our people. In memory of our own journeys, my children shall sing you an Elven song to speed you on your way.”

As they rode and walked out of the gate, the lovely strains of music wafted toward them:

Ó ver Theriveran dthruth ewoodsto
grand mothë rshouse wego…
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Old 01-15-2003, 10:35 AM   #28
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Silmaril

As they left the Elven Farm, the singing of the Elf-children faded away, and it was silent except for the tweeting of the birds and the sound of bugs buzzing. Vogonwë sighed as he thought of his cat and mouse, who had to be left behind. He hoped they would be all right. He was sure they would be. After all, they had each other. They would be fine.

Seated on the back of Pasdedeux, Pimpiowyn had a good view of the fletching on Vogonwë’s arrows. She felt a surge of pride as she thought about how her love was the deadliest aim with hand thrown arrows in all of Middle-earth. His arrows always hit their mark, even if he closed his eyes and tossed them over his shoulder. And not only that, but he could throw them at the unparalleled rate of sixty arrows per minute. He had been named the Arrow Throwing Champion of Workmud one hundred years in a row.

She glanced around at the others of the company, and smiled with satisfaction. The Orcs would have no chance in the face of such fearsome heroes and heroines. Merisuwyniel was stunningly beautiful, and very well dressed, with the Entish Bow across her back. The Wizard lent a studious air to the gathering, with his great drooping mustaches and long green beard. Orogarn Two’s hair was looking particularly impressive today, as he jogged along next to the horses. Lord Gormlessar was, well, the same as always. Lord Etceteron was looking manly as he rode upon Baklava, beside her and Vogonwë on Pasdedeux. He was manfully drinking from a very manly looking flask, and Baklava was trotting gallantly onward, hoping that Pasdedeux was noticing him. Even the mercenary Dwarf looked dwarfly and heroic as he strode beside the big, honkin’ dragon.

Vogonwë broke the silence by clearing his throat a couple times. He took a few sips from his bottle, and then said, “I have composed a poem in honor of this setting forth. Would you like to hear it?”

“No, indeed,” Lord Gormlessar replied shortly. The others waited for a moment, fearing a pun, but none was forthcoming.

“Now, now,” Merisuwyniel said, as she was feeling especially generous, “such an occasion as this merits the recitation of a poem. We are setting out on a grand adventure, and we must do it in style. You may proceed, Master Brownbark.”

Etceteron swallowed down whatever manly substance he was imbibing and said, “Ah, poetry, the very song of the human, or, er, elven soul.” Eh, yer a bleedin’ sap’s wot you are, Wylkynsion grumbled from its sheath. Ah’ll tell you wot sinks to th’ sahl uv a swahd, Ah will. A luvly shahp— But Etceteron ignored it with a manful swig of liquid.

Pimpi closed her eyes and steeled herself for the ordeal, giving Vogonwë a reassuring pat on the back. Then she wrapped her fingers around the Head of Lopitoff, and retreated to a happy place.

Vogonwë again cleared his throat and took a taste of his own medicine, and then he intoned grandiosely: “I will sing for you the The Lay of the Entish Bow and the Hunting of the Orcs, Fit the First: The Council/BBQ of Roneld. Ahem, hroom, harrum. Yes...

Lord McDoneld had a Farm,
And in that Farm he had a Gazebo,
A Gaze-i-e-i-ebo.
And in that Gazebo he had a Council,
The Council of Roneld McDoneld.

Roneld was there, with receding hair,
And many other creatures sat in other chairs,
Elves and Men and then some, and all were very handsome.
And then there were two others who were very winsome;
The fairest maids in all the land, fair of face and pale of hand,
Merisuwyniel ornaments her seat like a finial,
And Pimpiowyn’s eyes are as blue as the skies.
And then there was a Dwarf with his Dragon, and that makes everyone.

The Elven-maid brought forth and laid,
A Bow upon the table, and she did this very able.
The Bow was made of an Ent, that was bent and broken,
And then words were spoken that chilled the bones,
As they were uttered in mimsiest tones.
The words came from the Ent that was bent,
And they were terrible to hear, and filled the people with fear,
To hear them spoken so near.

“The bow is gone bad or mad, and something must be done,
Yet it may not be fun,” said Lord Roneld as the Bow they beheld.
“We shall have to either destroy it, then, or put it back together again.
Yet all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, couldn’t put an Ent back together again.”

“Then what are we waiting for?” said the Dwarf with a roar,
As he hopped to the floor, his ax ready for the chore.
Up leapt Gormlessar, and stopped the aggressor,
With a word of command he drew his sword in his hand.
“Get thee hence, and be nice to Ents!” he ordered.
There was a moment of suspense, and the air was tense,
And then the Dwarf left.

Roneld turned his bespectacled eyes upon Gormlessar,
And looked on him with the gaze of an oppressor.
A contest of wills then provided some thrills,
But the moment was soon past, and then things happened fast.

The Dwarf brought poultry into the mix,
And provided a comic fix,
And it seemed like all seriousness was nixed.
But then the situation was fixed.

“What’ll we do, when our options are few?” Roneld returned to the subject at hand.
“For a resolution there is a demand.”

The discussion went on, and on, and on, and on.
The matter of Orcs came on strong,
And Roneld said they would kill them, anon.
And Pimpiowyn sang out in song,
“I shall kill Orcs till they’re gone!”

A then thus spoke Vogonwë, “If Pimpiowyn is to go that perilous way,
I shall go too, or you’ll have to tie me up in a knapsack of hay to keep my away,
So try if you may, but still I won’t stay, and I’ll come anyway. See if I don’t!”

Roneld rejoiced at the things that were voiced,
And then suddenly the Council was hoist,
By an invader of strange bodily form,
A decapitated chicken, the plot did thicken,
As the heroes chased it around the Gazebo.
The Gaze-i-e-i-ebo.
With a squawk squawk here and a thwack thwack there,
Here a squawk, there a thawk, everywhere a squawk thwack,
The heroes attacked the flurrying fowl with a hack and a smack,
While the others with laughter did howl.

Gormlessar’s sword became lesser in size,
And as he fell to the floor, Etceteron did arise,
He took the debonair sword Wylkynsion in his hand,
And struck the chair Roneld was kindly sitting on, oh man.

After the bird was caught, and the Council was naught,
They retired for a repast of chicken gizzards.
When arrived Pettygast the Green Wizard.
He spoke to them riddles, of cup, plates, and fiddles,
And the Fruit-giver was mentioned in there somewhere.

Then Earnur the Fair, of manly black hair,
Drew his sword from the chair, with a manly air,
And laid it upon the table, and this he did very able.
“This sword I will share,” he sought to declare,
“With everyone around this table.”

“Jolly good!” said the brood, while around the table they stood,
Eating their food, and they found it was good,
And eat all day, they would, if they could.

But Roneld had a better idea,
And Merisuwyniel sang an aria.
“Get to a flet,” Roneld said, “and there, I’ll bet, you’ll find help yet.”
And so out they set, to face the threat, after they’d et.


[ February 12, 2003: Message edited by: Diamond18 ]
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Old 01-15-2003, 04:05 PM   #29
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Sting

Gravlox trudged through the halls of the keep at Gol Dulldor, having first sent the wolves to their pens and his lads to their homes (after depositing their loot in the treasury, of course). At the end of the hall was a tall arch which stood over a great red door. Several Orcs were busily painting it black. He passed through the doorway and bowed deeply.

"My lord," he intoned gravely.

A man dressed in black robes wearing a metal crown upon his head (bearing the mystical runes spelling "Maxwell House" on its blue aluminum) spun about in his Recaro chair. This was the evil Lord Sourone. "Gravlox!" he barked. "You've been afield nearly three months! Where have you been? Report!"

Gravlox bowed deeply. "My Lord," he said. "My troops and I have been far afield, have slain many Elves and Men, terrorized many maidens, fouled rivers, stolen goats, and gone through toll booths without paying, as was your wish."

"Yes, yes," replied Sourone as he toyed with a mystical set of silver balls that clicked against one another as they swung back and forth. "But what loot do you bring to fill my coffers?"

"Lots!" answered Gravlox. "Loads and ladles of loot, laden upon the laboring lads of my Lord! Bags of gold, silver and copper coins and the carberator from a VW Microbus. And we only lost one Orc to the swords of our foes!"

He's lying!came a voice seemingly out of nowhere.

"What?" said Sourone. "Who said that?"

He's lying! They ran out of food and ate Gorbachev the Fat. And they found the carberator in a pond! Ow! Gravlox had stamped his left foot hard upon the marble floor.

"Nothing, my lord," stammered Gravlox. "Twas just my foot...er...my wooden foot. You'll recall I was wounded in battle, sir, and I needed a foot. So your craftsmen made one for me out of wood, but it was enchanted by some foul magic of the Elves or someone."

Sourone looked over his bifocals at the Orc Captain. "You really should get that taken care of," he said. "Very well. "How long before you can sally forth again to bring terror to the hearts of the Free People? A month?"

"I leave tomorrow," Gravlox said hurriedly. "Your wish is my command!" With that he rushed out of the lushly appointed offices of the evil one. Once outside the door, he stamped his left foot again. "You shut up or I'll use you for kindling." As he walked towards his quarters, he heard the faint sound of giggling.

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

"Honey, I'm home!" called Gravlox, hoping beyond odds that there would be no answer.

"Gravlox?" came the reply. "Darling, where have you been? I've missed you. Kiss. Kiss"

Gravlox cringed, and if you have ever seen a female Orc, you know why. He hurriedly threw her a bag of coins and backed away towards his room. "Can't stay. In a hurry. Gotta go back out with my troops. Duty calls and all," he stuttered.

"Again?" said his wife as she counted the money and stashed it in her bodice. "At least say hi to little Gravy."

"Yar," answered Gravlox. He trudged down the hall to Gravlox, Jr.'s room or Gravy as he was known. The sound of scissors echoed in the hall as he approached the door. He poked his head in to the bright room, noting that his son had changed the curtains again (to lime green) and had begun using a new brand of deodorizer (minty fresh). "Hey, kid," he said.

"Daddykins!" cried Gravy. "Oh, I've soooo missed you. Hair Design School is soooo hard and I can never find anyone to practice on. My brothers captured this Elf for me and I'm trying out a new hairstyle. Oh, look!"

An Elf looked up at Gravlox. The whites of his eyes showed as he shook in fear and shame. His hair had been died pink and cut into a mohawk. "Kill me, please!" he whispered.

"Very nice, son," said the Orc Captain hurriedly. "Have fun!" He shut the door and walked into his room. It was going to be a long night...
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Old 01-16-2003, 07:01 AM   #30
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Sting

On the road the silence that followed Vogonwë's recitation could only be described as "deafening". It was the sort of silence that only happens when the demands of courtesy and aesthetic taste have just collided violently, bringing about an awkwardness that is the conversational equivalent of gridlock. The silence was brooding and malevolent, and it lay like an unwashed horse-blanket over the company, broken only by a soft gurgling noise.

"Actually I quite liked it" said Earnur brightly, replacing the cap on his flask. The corner of one of his eyes looked distinctly moist so that, were it not for his rugged, manly reputation, one might even have thought him moved.

"As indeed you should," replied Vogonwë, preening noticeably as he swigged from his own bottle. "For it is my greatest work to date."

Immediately several pairs of eyes turned disbelievingly to Pimpiowyn for confirmation, becoming yet more incredulous when she nodded a dainty agreement. In her opinion Vogonwë's greatest poetical work had been a sonnet composed on a dead centipede, which had actually scanned for six lines before collapsing into verbal anarchy, but that only bettered this latest effort in its relative brevity.

"Oh yes," said Earnur. "I thought that some of the metaphysical imagery was really particularly effective."

"Erm..." replied the self-appointed Poet Laureate of Workmud, demonstrating once more his uncanny linguistic gift.

"Could you repeat that in Westron?" quoth Lord Gormlessar mightily. "Because it sounded like complete rubbish to me."

But no amount of perplexity could stop Lord Etceteron now. He had overcome the inertia of being completely alone in his appreciation of the staves and was rolling happily downhill toward the alligator pit of universal contempt with a beatific smile on his face. "Oh ... and er ... int'reshting rhythmick devishes too," he continued, "which seemed to counterpoint the...er...er...counterpoint the shurrealishm of the underlying methaphor of the ... er ... humanity ... Sorry, Eldarity ... of the poet's compassionate soul."

A suspicion began to dawn on a number of the listening public that Lord Etceteron might not be feeling entirely himself. His rosy-cheeked, bright-eyed, sponge-tongued discourse was most unwonted in a hero, especially since his childlike enthusiasm seemed like to encourage the composition of further fits of the poem. There was a smattering of 'um's and a few 'er's by way of attempted interruption, but Earnur was beyond such petty restraints, with the end of his response in sight.

"...which contrives through the medium of the verse structure to sublimate this, transcend that, and come to terms with the fundamental dichotomies of the other, and one is left with a profound and vivid insight into ... into ... er ... whatever it was the poem was about!"

Lord Etceteron, Master of the Black Sword, concluded his critical analysis triumphantly and fell off his horse, which snorted disdainfully and surreptitiously tried to tread on him. After scrabbling for his flask and stowing it somewhere about his person, he rose and addressed Baklava in a series of snorts and whinnies, which, did he but know it, instructed the great black stallion to fetch him a cooper as his harpsichord was gravid. This vital intelligence passed on, Lord Etceteron made shift to mount and on the third attempt succeeded, his hand brushing the hilts of his blade as he flopped gracelessly into the saddle, facing backwards.

You plonker came a familiar voice, followed closely by a cascade of laughter that was part whetstone on blade, part death-rattle.

"What holds us thus in this place?" demanded Earnur, swinging elegantly round so that he faced once more in the direction of travel. "Come, we must be swift, lest want of speed should ... err ... render us ... erm ... late"

The company moved on in embarrassed silence, punctated only by an occasional stifled giggle. Truly this would be an arduous journey.

[ February 14, 2003: Message edited by: Squatter of Amon Rudh ]
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Old 01-16-2003, 06:13 PM   #31
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Pipe

It was a cold grey day near the end of one of the cold grey months predominant in that part of the world. The East Wind was streaming in from the West, sweeping all northwards, and seething in the dark locks of Halfullion’s hair like a breeze of irate hair-stylists. Ragged urchin clouds scudded around, Dickensianly.

The company took plenty gear of war, for their hope was in battle not in secrecy. Halfullion bore his mighty blade, of great repute, and also a small carved tin-whistle, of great power.

“Loud and clear it sounds in the valleys of the hills” he said, “and then let all the foes of Lord Gormlessar flee!” Putting it to his lips, he blew a shrill and painful shriek, and the echoes leapt personificationally from rock to rock, and in a sort of hyperbolic and entirely inaccurate sense, all that heard that voice in the wilderness sprang to their feet. Except those without feet who just sufficed with looking slightly more alert than they had been previously. Unless, of course, they were footless people (or those already afoot) who had already been looking especially alert at the time of the whistle blowing; it was difficult to judge with those sorts of folks whether or not the whistle had any effect. However, this paragraph digresses, and leaps from tone to tone like a drunken pianist with three hands, in a simile sort of way.

“Slow should you be to wind that…whistle again, Gormlessar,” said Pimpi, ‘until you stand once more on the Borders of The Strand and dire need is on you.”

“Maybe,” said Halfullion. “But I really like tin whistles.”

Everyone waited expectantly for the pun, the build-up having been so precise. Again, they were disappointed. “Maybe he’s losing it,” muttered Merisuwyniel hopefully.

At the Ford of Buicken, they left the Road, and turning southwards, went on by narrow paths north among the folded lands of origami. Their porpoise was to hold this course west of the Mountains for many miles, then report back to them. Their purpose was still a little murky. Well, indistinct anyway. A bit like a shadowy shadow, trying to be unobtrusive, their purpose hung around them like a garland around the neck of a god become bull. As the Greeks would have it.

[ January 17, 2003: Message edited by: Rimbaud ]
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Old 01-16-2003, 06:22 PM   #32
Kuruharan
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Boots

"Owwwww…," groaned Earnur, in a manly fashion. "Tone it down with the whistle!"

Kuruharan abruptly went over to Merisuwyniel.

"After that ghastly poetry exhibition, I fear that Chrysophylax and myself are going to require a cash advance in order to be able to proceed with this quest."

"Eh…?" said Merisuwyniel. Her beautiful face suddenly wore a puzzled expression. "Cash advance? Who said that you were going to be paid?"

"You did!" said Kuruharan. "Don’t you remember our agreement at the council where the deal was that we would go along on a leasing basis? At the time, out of the goodness of my heart, we did not require a deposit. Now, after discovering the hazardous nature of this merry frolic, I fear that our expenses have risen considerably. Chrysophylax insists on buying multiple sets of ear-plugs at the next way station. So, the required deposit is 1,500. You will, of course, be receiving a receipt."

"Fifteen-hundred?!" shrieked Merisuwyniel. "What about the expenses the rest of us are going to incur, partially on a similar investment in ear-plugs?! But we will also have motel bills, food, hay, weapon maintenance…"

"Well," interrupted Kuruharan, "if you’d just bought the port-a-forge before Lord Roneld purchased it you would not have that last problem."

"That is entirely beside the point. Furthermore, there is no way that any amount of ear-plugs is going to cost 1,500," expounded Merisuwyniel.

"Do you think that refusing us is really wise?" intoned Kuruharan. "I mean, do you think that it is easy keeping control of that dragon? He demands the finer things in life, and that includes the ability to block out atrocious poetry. I will not be the one who has to tell him that he can’t have any ear-plugs! You are the one who won’t pay us what you owe us. A trait that seems to be so typically Elven that it’s probably settled into your genetic code."

"This is not the time to discuss that!" snapped Merisuwyniel. "He’s your dragon you tell him!"

"Not me!" said a suddenly cringing Kuruharan. "I’ve seen this dragon eat twelve stout Easterling warriors in two seconds flat, their illogical, improbable armor and all. And he’s not in a good mood. Look at him!"

Merisuwyniel glanced over in the general direction of the dragon. Chrysophylax was stamping along in high dudgeon. He was muttering furiously about how a great dragon of imperial lineage should never have to walk along on the ground and generally be treated like a pack-mule. His head suddenly plunged into the bushes, emerging with the remains of several innocent woodland creatures that he proceeded to chomp furiously. After his snack he playfully let out a small burst of flame, catching some of the trees on fire.

"Surely you can see," said Kuruharan, "that at the very least, his continued fumings will result in an ecological disaster of catastrophic proportions! Being an upstanding, responsible, and tree-hugging Elf you cannot allow that to happen as long as you have money in your purse!"

"Ohh," cried Merisuwyniel, moved with pity for the poor woodland creatures and the poor trees. "Yes, somebody must stop him, but how? He is a dragon and all."

"You can pay us the money you owe us. Your duty as an Elf requires that you do no less! All the poor, innocent woodland creatures, and helpless trees are depending on you! As a matter of fact, all Elves everywhere are depending on you! You can’t let them down!"

Merisuwyniel was so torn between indignation, rage, grief, nervousness, and financial anxiety that she did not even notice that Chrysophylax had pulled out a violin, plopped himself down on the ground, and started playing very sentimental music at just the right pitch to cause the perfect amount of heart-tugging. It was a scene that looked exceedingly odd.

"You’re right!" cried Merisuwyniel. "I cannot allow an evil dragon to rampage about the woods, devouring innocent woodland creatures! It’s up to me to stop him!"

"Of course it is!" shouted Kuruharan excitedly.

"I have to uphold the honor of the Elves!" cried Merisuwyniel.

"And such lovely hands to do it with!" bellowed Kuruharan.

The violin music was rising to a crescendo.

"I have to do my duty!" howled Merisuwyniel, calling on the warrior blood of her fighting ancestors.

"You have to pay me the 1,500 you owe me!" bawled Kuruharan.

"Right!" screamed Merisuwyniel. "Here you go!" she screeched as she handed the dwarf her money pouch.

"And here’s your receipt!" cried Kuruharan. "Pleasure doing business with you!"

Kuruharan abruptly retired to his place in line and the violin music ceased.

"What in the name of the wart on Elendil’s left index finger was that all about?" asked Orogarn Two.

"The honor of the Eldar was satisfied!" said Merisuwyniel dourly. "That will teach that vile worm to mess with the delicate ecology of the woodlands!"

"Whatever," said Orogarn Two. "By the way, if you look back you can still see The Last Home-Grown Cows! Spectacular view!"

"Oh, this is going to be a very long quest," moaned Merisuwyniel, her horse stepping over the prone form of Earnur Etceteron who had fallen out of his saddle again.
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Old 01-16-2003, 09:31 PM   #33
The Barrow-Wight
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Sting

Orogarn Two trotted effortlessly beside the frustrated elf-maiden wondering is she might have information on his missing wallet. Merisuwyniel had doled out the Dwarf’s extortion fee quite readily, and it was oobvious that she possessed a greater than average capacity for the conveyance of coin. No ordinary money pouch could contain so much as the Kuruharan had demanded, so either the lovely elf-girl had his wallet or she and he shopped at the same outlet stores. He decided to investigate.

Gripping his magic crystal in his left hand, he focused his thought on the elf-maiden and mentally projected himself toward her. His hand tightened as he made mental contact with the lass and, unbeknownst to him, his right arm swung freely, going high in front of him and then falling in a graceful arc to point directly behind him. With each dextrous stride, his arm rose and fell like a child on a swing.

“What in Middle-earth are you doing?” asked Earnur, manfully.

Orogarn Two was startled from his task and released the stone at his neck.

“What do you mean?” he asked innocently, thinking he had been caught at his planned mental manipulation of Merisuwyniel.

“Your arm. What was that floating business with your arm?”

“Floating business?”

“Yes,” said Halfullion, “I saw it, too. You arm was moving in the most peculiar manner, like a hobbit hanging from a tree.”

“Which arm?”

“The right,” answered Kuruharan. “Very odd.”

“My right arm? Swinging like a halfling with a low vocabulary? I’m sure I don’t know what you might mean. I was doing nothing out of the ordinary.”

“Yes you were,” interjected Vogonwë. “I saw it, too. Your right arm was dangling like a participle.”

“Like a wispy maiden in a Summer breeze,” smiled Halfullion.

“Like a chicken in a suit of armor,” added Kuruharan.

Everyone looked at the Dwarf in confusion, each imagining a metal-encased barnyard fowl and wondering what Kuruharan could possibly have meant.

“Enough! My arm is innocent!” Orogarn Two dropped back to the rear of the party to stifle further conversation.

Surprised that he had been caught attempting to use his stone, yet unable to understand what everyone had been talking about, Orogarn Two waited patiently until their attention was turned elsewhere. The elf-gal’s suspicious money-storing capabilities were still highly suspect, and at last he saw the chance to probe her mind again. His left hand rose to the crystal once more.

“You’re doing it again!” shouted Earnur, far ahead of him but looking back.

“What!?” yelled Orogarn Two, upset that his attention had again been distracted.

“The arm thing,” said the Dwarf.

“I saw it this time, too,” added Merisuwyniel. “That is very odd.”

“Creepy, if you ask me,” said the dragon, hovering above the conversation.

“I didn’t ask you,” shouted Orogarn Two angrily to the flying monster above him, “and I still don’t know what you all are talking about. I am just minding my own business and enjoying the fresh country air as we go along.”

“Looks to me like you were dancing,” said Kuruharan, smiling. “Are you a dancer, mister Orogarn?”

“No, I am not. And I am not Mister Orogarn! I am Orogarn Two, son of Orogarn One, son of The Orogarn Jr., son of The Orogarn…”

“Not again!” shouted Halfullion.

“What?! I am Orogarn Two, son of …”

“…. son of Orogarn One, third cousin of Isildur, 84 times removed!” said everyone in unison.

“Do not mock me!” screamed Orogarn Two. “I will not be mocked.”

He stopped running suddenly, allowing the riding group to move quickly ahead of him.”

“Do not mock!” laughed Earnur quietly.

“I heard that!” returned Orogarn Two, running again so as not to be left behind, right hand tucked carefully into his trouser pocket.

[ January 16, 2003: Message edited by: The Barrow-Wight ]
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Old 01-19-2003, 10:06 AM   #34
Estelyn Telcontar
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Silmaril

Merisuwyniel had ample opportunity to become more closely acquainted with her travelling companions in the long days that followed. Despite the phenomenal pace of their illustrious steeds, they did not progress as rapidly as they could have, since the donkey stubbornly chose its own speed. Pettygast did manage, by some means (magick markers, perhaps?), to keep him going in the general direction of the group, lagging behind only slightly.

In the evenings, when they set up camp, the heroes practiced their fighting skills in friendly competition with one another. Merisuwyniel would have liked to continue her lessons in sword-handling, but Halfullion had refused, muttering something about “too many spectators”. She had to content herself with shooting arrows at trees, which were then hewn for firewood by Kuruharan’s mighty axe. Occasionally Vogonwë joined her in target practice, but for the most part, he could be found musing over his parchment or conversing with the horses.

Pimpiowyn had never in her life needed a weapon, but all agreed that she should at least be able to defend herself. Kuruharan produced a dagger of just the right size from his packs of goods and sold it to her. After she overcame her hesitance, she was eager to learn to use it and gained considerable skill. It was a beautiful blade, slender and supple; no doubt prompted by Wylkynsion, Earnur volunteered to practice with her frequently.

One evening, as all were enjoying the comradeship of activities after a good meal, Merisuwyniel looked up at the sky with furrowed brows.

“What do you see?” asked Halfullion, who was gazing admiringly at the curve of her shapely cheekbones.

“I am not sure,” she answered. “There appear to be black birds flying in this direction. Are there ravens here?”

Quoth Voronwë, “Nevermore!”

All stared at him, wondering over the dramatic utterance of the Poe-t.

“I too have Elven eyes,” he said somewhat sullenly. “And I say they are Crebain from Dunland.”

“That cannot be – wrong game!” Halfullion exclaimed.

“Indeed, they turn aside,” observed Merisuwyniel.

“They fly toward the fortress of EmCeeEm in Rohan, no doubt,” Orogarn Two stated.

“Yet others come, and they turn not aside,” Merisuwyniel continued. “Ai! These are Kiwi-banes from Down-Under!”

“Everyone hide!” Halfullion shouted. The ensuing scramble was made considerably more complicated by the fact that Chrysophylax was much too large to hide, so that they quickly tossed some branches over him to camouflage the dragon. All held very still, hoping that danger would soon pass.

[ January 19, 2003: Message edited by: Estelyn Telcontar ]
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Old 01-19-2003, 01:45 PM   #35
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Sting

"I'm telling ye Burt, this just ain't right!"

"I heard ye the first time, Andy..."

"Mr. Peterson's "Guide to the Birds of the Southern 'Emispere' clearly states that the Kiwi is a flightless bird..."

"Keep flappin'."

"...with vestigul wings and shaggy, 'air-like feathers. So by rights, it is aerodinamically impossible for us to be flittin' about in the upper atmosphere. The lot of us should have plummeted like a Balrog the minute we left that tower..."

"I told ye before, Andy, We're enchanted!"

"ENCHANTED! Now who's the poncy little git who agreed to that! Nobody said nothin' to me about no enchantments when we signed up for this job."

"Monty agreed to it. It seemed like good deal at the time, and the job paid well..."

"Oh, well, Monty! He'll agree to anything if you show him the jack up front. But did Monty ever consider that we have no tails? How the 'ell did he expect us to steer? Bit awkward, flappin' around up here without a rudder-like tail. Makes navigation a bit difficult, ye know..."

"Would ye just shut your cake-hole and keep flappin'!"
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Old 01-20-2003, 04:13 PM   #36
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Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Boots

"Ah-Ah-AH-CHOOO!!! FUUUOOOOSSSHHHH!!!" went Chrysophylax as his allergies got the better of him, causing him to blast to cinders the branches that had been his cover. There he lay exposed to the sight of all.

"Ooops!" he said rather sheepishly.

"Look! A dragon!" screeched the Kiwi-banes.

"I can't find it in me guide book!" howled Andy.

"Shaddup!" squawked the other Kiwi-banes. "We have to go report!"

The birds turned about to go back the way they came.

Chrysophylax stared up at them with a stupid expression on his face. He hadn't the slightest idea what to do next. He could not let the Kiwi-banes return to "report."

In the end he reacted in the way that came naturally.

With a rush and a roar he surged into the sky and blasted and baked the Kiwi-banes into oblivion. Then he settled down to have a nice snack to celebrate his victory.

"Uck!" grunted Merisuwyniel. "Vile creature!"

"Whaaah...?" asked Chrysophylax, mouth full of roast Kiwi-bane. *BURP!* "'Scuse me!"

"OOO-ooo," moaned Merisuwyniel, shuddering.

"Allow me to comfort you!" exclaimed Earnur and Halfullion together.

"That's okay. We need to be moving on," said Merisuwyniel hastily.

[ January 21, 2003: Message edited by: Kuruharan ]
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Old 01-20-2003, 11:33 PM   #37
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Sting

Pettygast was having the most horrific time trying to keep his donkey pointed in the general direction the company was attempting to go. Unfortunately, Hummus kept running in large concentric circles. The wizard not only found himself becoming increasingly dizzy and light headed, but scrambling to play catch up with all those about him who seemed to be mounted on steeds whose pedigrees and conformation far exceeded those of his humble beast.

If that wasn't bad enough, Hummus seemed to be having a problem or two that might loosely fit the term 'being winded'. Pettygast kept a close watch on the donkey's front end, since he could only manage one end at a time. Moreover, this appeared to be the more serious dilemma. The beast was wheezing in and out, his nostrils distended and eyes staring wide. Pettygast kept flapping his knees against the donkey's shaggy sides, while gamely urging him to "Keep breathing. That's the trick. Just breath in and out. Go forward."

His attempts met with limited success. The donkey had finally turned a deaf ear to all pleas and imprecations, and come to a dead stop in protest, allowing Pettygast to hurtle forward over his head. The wizard ended up on the ground with a sore derriere. He seriously considered asking Orogarn Two whether he might hitch a lift, but the fellow had seemed a bit testy and might not react in a pleasant manner. Too bad he couldn't come up with that missing wallet, since it might gain him a few bargaining chips.

Most distressing of all was the group's eagerness to head straight to the Canthardlee Pass. A distant relation of his, the incomparable wizard--he of great wisdom and goodness whom everyone likes--had made a similar miscalculation, and ended up in even worse circumstances by being forced to undertake a different and more dangerous path. Pettygast grew nervous just thinking about that possibility, and showed signs of hyperventilation. His own activities ran more to frequenting jumble sales and discount stores rather than foolhardy escapades. If truth be told, he had a strong aversion to any circumstances that might bring him into close contact with any creature bearing large pointed teeth and exuding nasty breath, whether or not it happened to sport wings.

Not for the first or last time, Pettygast vowed to take up his complaints with Fruit-giver. But whenever he had complained to her in the past, she had merely shrugged her shoulders, pointed upward, and mumbled something incomprehensible about not really being the one in control. All the wizard's polite requests to speak with this gentleman or lady who arranged things higher up had ended only in failure.

Pettygast sighed and shook his head. He would truly love to meet this mysterious being who was supposedly in charge of managing wizardly resources, so that he could give him a piece or two of his mind regarding his particular job assignments, but the chances of that seemed increasingly remote. Best not think about it, he cautioned himself. Focus on the task at hand, which is more than enough to keep you busy! With a sigh of resignation, he attempted once more to get Hummus pointed in the same general direction as the rest of his companions.

[ January 21, 2003: Message edited by: Child of the 7th Age ]
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Old 01-21-2003, 09:19 AM   #38
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Silmaril

Lord Halfullion Gormlessar seethed inwardly as he rode beside Earnur Etceteron, behind Merisuwyniel! Chrysophylax was walking abreast Falafel, with Kuruharan mounted on him. As much as it irked Halfullion to be relegated to second place, he dared not attempt to push the dragon aside, fearing his fiery temper. Yet while seemingly engaged in light bantering with his heroic companion, he fumed secretly. How could his Meri prefer the company of this nondescript dwarf to him – him, the peerless perfection of physical prowess, the avatar of attractiveness, the well of wisdom, the fëa of fearlessness…?

He was so preoccupied with his jealous thoughts that he failed to observe what was actually happening in front of him. Merisuwyniel was not speaking with the dwarf at all, but was engaged in animated conversation with Chrysophylax. Dragons have always had a special fondness for beautiful young maidens, and this one was no exception. Furthermore, she reminded him vaguely of a princess he had once met at a birthday party long ago. She had touched a soft spot in his heart that had since remained untouched.

The dragon, anxious to improve Merisuwyniel’s opinion of him, was telling her the most amusing stories of his adventures. She laughed, a melodious, rippling sound that infected all (except the still sullen Halfullion) with her high spirits. Nonetheless, she did not neglect to keep a watchful eye (two, as often as she could spare them) on her travelling companions. When the wizard was unceremoniously deposited on the ground by the recalcitrant donkey, she called the company to a halt.

“This wise beast knows that we have reached a point where we must decide how to proceed on our way,” she announced. “Either we travel south, to the Rohan Interstate Junction, or we cross the mountains by means of the Canthardlee Pass.”

“There is another way,” Halfullion reminded her, eager to reclaim his role in her decision making.

“Do not speak of that dark and secret path,” she said, as a shadow crossed her face. “I would not use it unless no other way is open to us. Let us rather take council to determine the further route of our journey.”

“I say we should travel by way of the Rohan Interstate,” Orogarn Two stated. “It is farther, yet we can travel more quickly, at least if that confounded donkey can keep up with us.” He stretched his long, well-muscled legs ostentatiously.

“There will be more travellers there as well,” added Kuruharan. “That will give me the opportunity - I mean, that will ensure our safety, which is in numbers, as we all know.”

“I say,” Earnur chipped in, “I have heard of some wonderful sport to be had on snowy mountains. Shouldn’t we try that?”

“What do you mean?” Halfullion asked.

“Well, you climb the mountain, then lay your shield on the snow, stand on it and slide back down. Sounds like jolly good fun!” Carried away by his enthusiasm, he abandoned the lofty expression that was his usual way of speaking.

“But what’s the sense in climbing up the mountain if you just come back down again?” Pimpi had no knowledge of the paths in the wilderness, but she did possess a good deal of common sense.

“Ah, the pristine whiteness of lofty, snow-bedecked peaks!” exclaimed Vogonwë, who was fortunately accustomed to being ignored, since no one took the least notice of his poetic effusion.

Suddenly Pettygast spoke up, startling them all, as they had forgotten him in the mean time. “Let the Bow-Bearer decide!”

“Um, I, well…” Vogonwë mumbled, startled from his poetic reverie.

“Bow-Bearer, not Bow-Wearer, darling,” Pimpiowyn admonished, patting him on the arm soothingly. He fell silent immediately, relieved to be rid of an unwelcome responsibility.

Merisuwyniel answered slowly. “I know that haste is needed, yet I cannot choose. Give me an hour longer, and I will speak. Let me be alone!”

All eyes watched her as she disappeared among the trees, then they turned back to discuss the possibility of cooking a meal within that hour. After a time, when they wanted to light the fire that had been laid, Kuruharan looked around and asked, “Where is Chrysophylax?” They searched everywhere and discovered that the dragon, who had at first been lying silent on the outside of the circle, was no longer there.

“He must be off hunting,” Orogarn Two suggested. “But how shall we eat if he does not light our fire?”

The flapping of wings from above alerted them all to scatter as the dragon landed. There was Merisuwyniel, sitting gracefully on his back! “Chrysophylax has consented to fly southwards with me so that I may see how the traffic is on the Interstate,” she announced. “Then I can make my decision wisely.” With those words, they lifted up again, the dragon breathing a playful flame that conveniently lighted the fire.

Over fields, woods and meadows they flew, the landscape spread out beneath them as a tapestry. The cool breeze flowed through Merisuwyniel’s tresses, yet the warmth of the dragon kept all discomforting coldness from her.

Such was the speed of the dragon that they reached the Rohan Interstate Junction before the sun had travelled far on its journey toward the horizon. It was well that Chrysophylax flew high enough to be out of reach of any weapons, for the Junction was full of orc troops. Merisuwyniel could distinguish various kinds with her sharp eyes, and she realized that there were far too many for their small company to combat, despite the renown of the heroes and their swords. Not that they could not be conquered, but it would take so much time!

Her decision made, she let Chrysophylax turn and fly back northwards. Her renewed enjoyment of the scenery below did not distract her attentive eyes, and when she spied a troop of fifty orcs also headed northwards, she was prepared for the dragon’s swoop. In an instant her bow was fitted with an arrow, aimed and loosened. It flew, strong and true, felling the leader of the troop. More arrows followed, causing consternation among the foes and flying with such power that they often passed through one orc and dealt a second the same fate. The Bow sang with the joy of death, and every arrow met its mark. Soon there was no longer any movement to be seen, and Chrysophylax landed to enable Merisuwyniel to recover her arrows.

With only a becoming flush of her cheeks to show for the effort, the Elf continued the flight back without further delay. She rejoined her companions just in time for a morsel of the meal which they had not yet consumed and told them of her discovery. With determination in their hearts and stew in their stomachs, they settled down for the last night before ascending the mountain.

[ January 21, 2003: Message edited by: Estelyn Telcontar ]
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Old 01-21-2003, 10:36 AM   #39
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Pipe

The storm had hit them with its full force as soon as they had gained the heights.

The bitter cold threatened to consume them, seeping into their very core. Snow flurried against their chapped faces and before their feet, making the narrow way almost impossible to traverse. Carnthardlee Pass was proving very difficut to surpass. It was if the very storm itself was aimed at them.

“It’s as if the very storm itself is aimed at us,” muttered Halfullion to himself. He threw away the apple he had been eating with disgust, cold seemed to have seeped into its very core.

“We’re in dire straits now!” shouted Etceteron. He led the way with his broad shoulders, an odd gait, even for him, but even he was being defeated by the unending onslaught of wind, snow and ice and other rather maligned elements of mountain-top weather.

“We are in a bit of a jam,” confirmed Pimpi. “I hear the clash of our doom upon us.”

“Living on The Edge,” muttered Merisuwyniel. There were groans and moans out there in the storm.

“You too?” asked Halfullion, right behind her, spending much of his time teetering on the edge of the abyss. His sword, which dangled over the edge of the cliff, had chosen this inopportune moment to become the biggest size it could, and it took all of Halfullion’s strength to keep it from dragging him down.

“Yes, in excess danger!” replied Merisuwyniel, at the top of her lungs.

“In excess?” questioned Halfullion. “This is suicide, blonde.” He seemed all shaken up.

“Halfie, I need you tonight,” pleaded Merisuwyniel. “Please come together.”

Ahead of them, they saw Pettygast shouldering through the drifts back towards them. “Here come ol’ flat-top!” said Halfullion. “Come as you are!” he shouted to the by now thoroughly grungy wizard.

“A rolling stone gathers no moss,” said the wizard, somehow clearly audible above the deafening roar of the winds. The wind picked up and it seemed they would be lifted from the precipice like beetles swept from a log. The others looked at Pettygast, puzzled.

“All we need is a shove!” cried Pettygast. “Shove is all we need.” He pointed to the side of the cliff face, where a nick in the rock revealed a cave beyond. Merisuwyniel saw the possibility of hiding from the wuthering heights, better cover than a bush, and better by far than running up that hill.

“Come together!” she called. “Right now. We need to get into that house, before the rising sun shows our enemies precisely where we are.” They began to squeeze through the gap, one by one.

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

When they were all inside, they took stock of their surroundings. Pettygast created a flame from his staff, allowing them to see further into the recesses of the cave. There was a warm, fetid smell, but they were all too relieved to be inside, away from the storm to notice.

“Nevermind that it’s not nirvana,” said Pettygast. “I think we are just relieved to be out of the storm. It would seem that there are suspicious minds and cunning eyes out there, who would wish harm upon us…”

“What do we have to eat?” asked Pimpi, immediately. “I think I have some pumpkins saved in my pack.”

“So we are to spend all night smashing pumpkins, eh?” asked Halfullion, tetchily, but he participated in the meal when it was served.

“We should wait out the storm here,” said Merisuwyniel, wiping pumpkin juice from her chin. They heard strange wails from outside the cave. The wind still streamed in, threatening to have them all dancing on the ceiling. “We need to block the entrance better.”

“And we are surrounded by riders in the storm!” cried Etceteron in great terror. “This could be The End!”

“Look, will someone just get the doors?” pleaded Merisuwyniel. Etceteron, Orogarn Two and Halfullion strode heroically towards the appointed openings. “It won’t take three of you!” she shouted, exasperated.

Halfullion turned back towards her, his most charming smile lighting up his face. “Yet you, fair Merisuwyniel, are once, twice, three times a lady.”

Thus mollified, she watched them get to work on the loose stones at the entrance, piling them into a barricade against the wind and snow.

“Snow keeps falling at my feet,” complained Etceteron.

“Everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you,” remarked Orogarn Two, dryly. “It’s something of a crowded house in here.”

He was not far wrong. The Multiple Choice Questors, their bags and their mounts crowded the part of the cave that was lit by Pettygast’s staff. The air was rather clammy with their breath. As the rocks slid into place in the entrance a more permanent darkness set up camp around the area lit by the wizard’s staff.

“Halfie, sweet, please tell us a story,” said Merisuwyniel. “To take our minds off whatever is outside.”

The Lord Gormlessar returned to the circle of friends, and sat cross-legged. “I will tell you of my first love, and how we were parted,” he said. “A tale of sadness for such a time.”

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

“She was working as a waitress in a cocktail Inn, when I met her. Her name was Lolathiel, and she was a showgirl, but that was many years ago, when there used to be a show. ‘Twas the Copa, Copa-Cobana, an Inn in downtown Edoras, and the hottest spot north of Gondor. Music and passion were always the fashion at the Copa. We were in love. Some called it just puppy love, but to us it was full-grown. We lived like wild horses, running through the night, from party to adventure. Ah, those were the days.”

Merisuwyniel frowned and shifted uncomfortably.

“But it soon, ended as all these things do… She finally snapped…”

Quote:
LOLATHIEL: Look, now go! Walk out the door now.

She shouts shrilly after him. He half turns, tears upon his noble visage.

LOLA: Don’t turn around now, because you’re not welcome any more. I should have changed those stupid locks, I should have thrown away the key, if I’d known for just one second, you’d be back to bother me.

The young Halfullion turns to the audience. His face is drawn with anguish as he launches into his soliloquy.

HALFULLION: Oh, mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head. He pauses. And I know it’s over, but still I cling. I don’t know where else I can go. Over, it’s over, it’s over. I know it’s over – and it never really began; but in my heart it was so real.

LOLA who has crept up behind him and sees his hurt, but whose face is still embittered) : If you’re so funny then why are you on your own tonight? And if you’re so clever, why are you on your own tonight? If you’re so very entertaining, why are you on your own tonight? If you’re so terribly good-looking, then why do you sleep alone tonight? Because tonight is just like any other night. With your triumphs and your charms, while they are in each other’s arms…

HALF (breaking in) : Stop your crying, it’s not helping. Listen to your heart. Everybody hurts, sometimes. So hold on, just hold on. You can lean on me, I just wanna hold your hand. His voice breaks with emotion. Everytime you go away, you take a little piece of me away. Stop crying your heart out, please…

LOLA: It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. Don’t go breaking my heart, I implore you.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

Lord Gormlessar’s voice tailed off into the darkness, and those listening found they could draw breath again. His finely chiselled features revealed a deep-anguish. Merisuwyniel went to him and murmured into his ear.

“We are just talking heads,” she said. “Now stop whispering about your subterranean homesick blues and let’s find a way to get out of this place.”

He nodded heroically, and stood, casting off his dysphoria as one would discard sodden underwear. It appeared as though someone or something had adroitly blocked the entrance to the cave with several boulders and rocks, cunningly put together. There was no exit that way. Grabbing Pettygast’s flaming wand, he ventured towards the dark back passage.

“We’ll have to go the back way,” he whispered. Heroically taking the lead, he strode forth, towards the rear of the cave, shrouded in darkness, like something really dark. The flickering light revealed glimpses of what was beyond. However, the light was clearly failing and Halfullion turned to Pettygast, who shuffled his feet a little shamefacedly.

“What now, bearded one?” enquired Halfullion, trying not to bristle.

Pettygast took the implied scorn on the chin but replied in a not particularly dignified squeak. “It’s not my fault! I can make it go brighter…but…the colour is always off.”

Merisuwyniel laughed, a sound that even the most irascible of oysters would confess was pearl-like. “Dear Pettygast! We care not for the colour of your staff, just what it shows us!”

“Very well then,” said the wizard. “But I warn you…” He closed his eyes and concentrated. Presently the wand in Halfullion’s grasp began to glow, a bright…pink. A particularly shocking pink. A pink that would cause even the straightest of dies to give a skewed roll. A pink that shook the very foundations of morality. A pink later outlawed in Hyaborn Elassar’s Anti-Pink Act of the early Fourth Age.

“Wow,” said Orogarn Two. “That’s…revolting.”

“I rather like it,” said Halfullion and turned back to the rear of the cave, now illuminated, pinkly, by the wizard’s staff. He gasped. The rear of the cave held no wall, but instead a curtain of water, falling from some unseen ledge above, to a pool someway below and through the curtain. The coloured light created a quite exquisite rainbow of purples and pinks in the sheer sheen of the waterfall.

“Purple rain,” breathed Halfullion. “That’s a princely sight.”

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

Behind the mask of water, a passage descended fiercely, but smoothly, carved, spiralling down towards the foot of the mountain and the plains beyond. There they would strike camp. Canthardlee Pass had defeated them.

[ January 21, 2003: Message edited by: Rimbaud ]
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Old 01-21-2003, 08:01 PM   #40
Diamond18
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Silmaril

The company was rather dejected as they sat around the campfire, toasting marshmallows. They were not used to defeat or dehands, and were appalled by how terrible the sound of a bad pun could be, echoing throughout their heads.

After a little while, Vogonwë broke the silence. “These marshmallows taste delicious soaked in Hair Off the Cat That Bit You,” he remarked as he watched his sugary treat burst into purplish blue flames.

“My flames are larger,” Etceteron said, dosing his confection in the manly liquid from his manly flask.

“My flames are of a lovelier hue,” Vogonwë insisted.

“Mmrfffs,” quoth Etceteron manfully around a mushy mouthful of mallowy marsh.

The others sighed, too dejected to make a contribution to the discussion. Or perhaps they were simply bored out of their minds. It was hard to tell. After about a dozen more spiked marshmallows had been consumed, Vogonwë again smashed the silence with the sledgehammer of his voice. “The way the marshmallows erupt reminds me of a sonnet I once wrote...”

There was a groan, but the others unfortunately could not speak due to the marshmallows in their mouths, so Vogonwë began:

“I saw a dead centipede one fine day.
The centipede lay in the dirt on the road,
The centipede rotted and smelt like a toad.
I sniffed at the dead centipede anyway,
To see if the smell’s as bad as they say.
The skin on the bug began to erode,
In the sunny heat its guts did explode.
The centipede smelt and stank where it lay.”


He paused.

“I can’t remember the other half,” he said with a puzzled expression. “There were six more lines…”

Pimpi could remember them, but she remained silent. But then suddenly, without warning, in the blink of an eye, like, really quickly, the silence was broken again (Eru only knows why it kept putting itself back together) by a most unpleasant noise. No, it was not the other half of Vogonwë’s sonnet (for he had stuffed another marshmallow into his mouth). It was the eerie howl of a deranged creature, like unto the screeches of a dying pig, or the ululation of a rabid myna bird. It sent chills down the spines of the Company (even the dragon) and made them feel as if their bones had been turned into gelatin.

Halfullion jumped up. “Ye gawds!” he cried, wobbling unsteadily. “It is the Hound of the Baskerwargs!”

A dozen or so equally hideous howling voices joined in with the first, and it was like unto a chorus of demon possessed howler monkeys murdering a chorus of demon possessed Tasmanian devils.

“Would that be other Baskerwargs, then?” Merisuwyniel asked timidly.

Pettygast stood forward and peered into the darkness beyond the firelight. “Get ye gone, Hound of the Baskerwargs!” he cried, but his voice cracked with fear, in a manner not likely to instill any fear into the crazed beasts circling the Company.

Orogarn Two decided to try his hand at the matter, and bellowed majestically, “I am Orogarn Two, son of Orogarn One, third cousin of Isildur, 84 times removed!”

They could not be sure, but they thought that something akin to a wave of laughter interrupted the unearthly baying of the Hounds.

“Why aren’t they attacking?” Pimpi wondered out loud, feeling as if she could barely stand the suspense any longer.

“They don’t like fire,” Chrysophylax said placidly. “If there is one thing Baskerwargs don’t like, it’s fire. That is why an occasion such as this merits a good, belly busting ball of fire, which I could provide…”

“For a fee,” Kuruharan added hastily.

“That is preposterous!” Merisuwyniel cried. “Our lives are at stake!”

“No, not really,” Kuruharan said. “Baskerwargs rarely attack if there is even the slightest bit of fire present. They will simply howl on and on for hours, hoping that eventually one or all of us go completely mad and run screaming ‘Take me and be done with it!’ into the night. Now, I’m sure only the most weak-minded and lily-livered of landlubbers would do such a thing, so there is no danger of one of us doing that. At least, I think… In any event, if you want a peaceful night’s sleep, I would advise—”

“Oh shnizzlefit,” Pimpi declared suddenly. “I thought I heard once upon a time that Wizards can make fire come out of their staffs. Can’t you do that, Mr. Pettygast?”

“Well...I...”

“Perhaps if you lit all the trees around us on fire, it would scare the Baskerwargs away,” she suggested, thinking the idea quite clever.

Pettygast looked at her in unabashed horror. His mouth hung open for a moment or two and his pupils dilated. “Set the trees on fire?” he cried at last. “You Fool of a Half-Took! Think you that this is a Hobbit burning party? No, I could never set the trees on fire. ‘Twould be an outrage, and the Fruit-giver would pelt me with rotten tomatoes for sure! Flaming rotten tomatoes, at that!”

“Well, what are you going to do, then?”

“Set your curls on fire, Pimpiowyn Took! And if that doesn’t scare them off, then we will—”

“Peace, peace, Lord Wizard,” Merisuwyniel said soothingly, or at least as soothingly as she could with the Hounds creating their hellish racket in the background. “It does no good to argue amongst ourselves.”

“And yet that is exactly what the Baskerwargs want,” Kuruharan said smugly.

“I have no qualms against setting the trees on fire,” Chrysophylax inputted suggestively.

“No, I say! We will have no mindless flaming on my watch!” cried Pettygast. “These trees are my friends!”

Orogarn Two paced back and forth with his brows furrowed. “We seem to have reached an impasse,” he stated brilliantly.

Halfullion waved his sword (which was absolutely immense at the moment) in the air and said, “What say we rush at the Baskerwargs with our wrath blazing and our weapons swinging?”

Ah'm all fer that! Wylkynsion agreed heartily. I'm gonna twat 'em bleeders if 'ey don't shut their bleedin' gobs. Let's kick some 'eads in. First one ter get ter 'im gets ter gut the lanky gits. Have at 'em! Send 'em 'ome in a bleedin' ambulance! Send the bloody bleeders to 'ell! Rip out their guts and gut out their rumps! Make 'em bleed, bleed, bleed!

There was more, of course. Wylkynsion was in rare form, and it can be guessed that it had something to do with the curved blade of Pimpiowyn’s dagger gleaming seductively in the firelight. Whether or not the dagger was aware of all this was questionable.

“Aw, shut up,” Etceteron said after a moment or two, and the rest of the Company looked at him curiously.

“That’s the first step,” Kuruharan said. “First you beg them to stop, then you beg them to put you out of your misery, and then they do.”

“What? No, I—” Etceteron sought to explain. But he was cut off by Vogonwë, who leapt up from the ground and proclaimed:

“I have remembered! It went:

“I looked down at the rotting centipede,
My heart went out to the poor little bug;
It was so dead it didn’t even bleed.
Yes, it was dead and it stunk, I concede.
Poor little bug in a poor little rug.
That poor little, dead little, stinky little,
Centipede.”


There was silence. Dead silence. Utter, complete, ultimate silence. Not penultimate, but totally ul-ultimate. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Nothing, nadda, zip-zippo.

“Wow, it’s really quiet all of a sudden,” remarked Pimpiowyn. “Something must have scared them away.”

Kuruharan gave Vogonwë a dark look. “So, you can scare away the Baskerwargs just like that, eh?” he asked, disgruntled that the poet had ruined a potential money making opportunity.

“Why, I’m really quite shocked,” Vogonwë said. “But then, of course, Hell-hounds do not have much taste, and so I suppose they quailed before the fine art of well-spoken words.”

“You have saved us all from madness and extortion, Master Brownbark,” said Merisuwyniel generously. “We shall finally be able to get a good night’s sleep, and decide our course with clear heads in the morning. Now, please, do not ever, ever recite that poem in my hearing again.”

[ February 12, 2003: Message edited by: Diamond18 ]
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