Blingo's Last Stand

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Blingo's Last Stand

Postby Entmooting » Wed Feb 24, 2010 6:09 pm

OOC. I'm unsure whether to start this here. I've noticed that all the role-playing is very serious, yet I think there's a place for humour as well. Please, anybody jump in. Take this where you will. If it's deemed out of place, I'm sure it will be stopped!

Blingo drew back the curtains, and the sun streamed into his comfy hobbit hole. Comfy in a bright and brash sort of way. Blingo fingered the ring that hung around his neck, then began to twist the pair of diamond studded rings on his left thumb, the large opal ring on his index finger, the three sapphire rings, gold chased with silver, that dripped from his middle finger, the...

Fifteen minutes later, Blingo lifted himself from his bed, fastening the clasps of his mithril shirt at his shoulder. He stopped in front of his mirror, and lowered his sun-glasses on to the bridge of his nose, before admiration his shimmering, resplendent reflection. Magnificent, he thought, and just the ticket to dazzle those recalcitrant Hobbits when he turns up at the Mathom House in Michel Delving with the notice he had.

Blingo buttoned up his gold lamé britches, tucked in that oh so splendid mithril shirt (with the two rose gold dragons, rampant, in subtle bas relief), shrugged into his emerald encrusted, and emerald green silk, waistcoat, set his platinum peaked cap jauntily on his head, then finished it of with his pride and joy, piece de resistance. With near shaking hands, Blingo pinned (with a 24 carat pin!) the badge to his lapel: the badge that was the foundation of his fame (or infamy?) and wealth. In bold, proud letters, this badge read:

Blingo Bogoff
Principle Interferer
Shire Health and Safety Executive


Blingo exhaled that prideful breath he felt he had been holding for hours. Today was the day he had been preparing for. Today was B Day.

Today was the day the Shire banned the smoking of pipeweed!
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Postby Entmooting » Fri Feb 26, 2010 5:41 pm

OOC Apologies if this is bad form. Call it an unsubtle prompt!

Bunion Hairyfoot rocked in his chair outside number 4, Bagshot row, and drew deep and contentedly on his home-pipe. It could only be a home-pipe, as it required at least three hobbits to carry it. Bunion had affixed wheels to it. Being a cartwright had its advantages. Bunion was married to a beautiful hobbit maiden, who loved him. She'd told him. Once.

“BUNION!”

The cry went up, like fingernails scraping down a blackboard. Bunion gritted his teeth, and pulled heavier on his pipe. What with smoking, and tooth gritting, his dental health was distinctly suspect. But thank heavens for pipeweed anyway. Without it he...

“BUNION HAIRYFOOT, YOU GET HERE NOW, OR ON YOUR MOTHER'S LIFE, YOU'LL REGRET IT!”

The screech of fury set all the birds in a half mile radius to wing. Without any knowledge of muscular instruction, Bunion found himself on his feet, running to 'his sweet'. The home-pipe stood, triumphant, then gravity exerted its influence, and like a great fir axed, the pipe tumbled gracefully to the earth, those wondrous contents of Old Toby scattering to the wind.

“Yes, my sweet,” Bunion intoned, ingratiatingly, and his sweet, Amanita, fixed him with that look that had blackbirds dropping from their perches.

“Have you fixed the guttering?”

“Yes, my sweet”

“Replaced that broken pane??”

“Just this morning, light of my life.”

“Emptied the cess-pit?”

“As clean as a whistle, my darling.” And Bunion forced a smile, as he remembered the horror of being waist deep in...

“And did you remember to clear the crow's nest from the chimney?”

Bunion's heart sank. “Oh, my goodness, sorr..” he began, but Amanita was quicker.

“IMBECILE! IDIOT! “

An array of objects, ranging from blunt to amputating, rained on Bunion as he turned tail and ran.

“Morning, Bunion”, said a voice, hidden by a nimbus of metallic reflection.

“Morning, Blingo,” responded Bunion, squinting and dodging, “Where you off to?”

“Michel Delving!” said Blingo, smiling brighter than his shirt.
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Postby Periannath » Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:54 pm

It was a quiet day. Nice, calm, and quiet. Man-dalf sat, dressed in his old gray cloak and ragged hat, atop a hill on the outskirts of the Shire, contemplating some problem that he was slowly---ever so slowly---forgetting completely, thanks to the contents of the pipe he was smoking. "Old Toby," he muttered, "My one true friend." But he would have to acquire some more soon. His stock was running low.

Man-dalf had few true pleasures in life, the most prominent of which was the smoking of pipeweed. He also enjoyed long walks on the beach, and explaining his name to people. You see, he'd been born and raised in the village of Bree, as the adopted son of a hobbit couple. He himself was a human, who had quite literally outgrown his parents and set off on his own at the tender age of sixty-two. His nose was large and pointed, his eyebrows were gray and bushy, and he took to carrying a long staff which he used for getting things down off of high shelves. His strange appearance, which reminded some people of a certain someone), had earned him the nickname "Man-dalf," (for he was quite manly). He'd gotten so used to his new name, in fact, that he'd quite forgotten his original one.

Blowing a few smoke rings, Man-dalf watched as they floated off into the breeze. On occasion, Man-dalf's smoke rings would turn into other shapes, like ships, or boats, or even dinghies. But this time, the smoke rings turned into a different shape:

A badge reading "Blingo Bogoff."

Followed by:

A skull. With the words "B-DAY" coming out of its mouth.

The ominous smoke-images vanished in a wisp of...um, smoke.

Man-dalf gasped. "It's Blingo's Birthday!?"

Then he accidentally smacked himself in the head with his staff. "Oh!" he said, snapping to his proper senses. "Oh...no..."

Retrieving his smoking pipe, which he had dropped to the grass in his surprise, Man-dalf stowed his precious belonging away in his Precious Belongings bag. Hitching the bag up over his shoulder, he immediately started on foot for the Shire.

He knew that the images in the smoke-rings could only mean one thing:

His ability to procure pipeweed was in danger.

Or two:

It was someone named Blingo's birthday.

Knowing something was terribly amiss, and that it might very well alter his entire lifestyle, Man-dalf trudged onward to the Shire to discover the true meaning of his visions.

The Shire didn't seem at all different from the last time he'd visited. Indeed, everything seemed to be in its proper place. Birds in the sky, flowers on the ground, pots and pans flying through the air...

"Hrm," said Man-dalf, pausing to observe the barrage of cutlery, furniture, and various objects being ejected from a nearby window. He was at Bagshot Row, and had always remembered this place as being very peaceful. However, at number 4, it seemed the peace was being disturbed.

Perhaps this was a portion of the trouble he'd forseen. With determination, Man-dalf strode toward the house...to find that there seemed to be two hobbits standing not far from it.

"Shall I ask them?" grumbled Man-dalf to himself. He raised an eyebrow unsurely at the hobbit gentlemen, one of whom seemed to be glittering with jewels. "Hmm... I suppose I shall!"

"Good morning!" He called to the two, interrupting their conversation. "Does either of you fine hobbits know where I may find a seller of pipe-weed in these parts?"
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Postby Entmooting » Wed Mar 03, 2010 8:14 am

Blingo started at the voice. Or maybe he simply continued. It was hard to tell, what with the inside of Bunion's house rapidly becoming its outside. He craned his neck up, only to find himself cartwheeling backwards due to the impact of one of Amanita's missiles.

“Mind my cartwheel, Blingo,” muttered Bunion, semi-apologetically, before he too found himself flat on his back. It was never a good idea to let your concentration wander when Amanita was in full fling. His new posture, however, did have the advantage of reducing himself as a target, and he could also examine the new arrival at his leisure.

Tall, he decided, after dismissing the concept of perspective distortion. And hairy. That would make him... Bunion wracked his brain, and then the thought popped into his mouth, neatly sidestepping his higher faculties (of course, being a hobbit, Bunion didn't have much in the way of higher faculties, being only 3 feet tall).
“Are you a gorilla?” he enquired

The gorilla looked down at him from its great height, puzzlement wrinkling its nose. “A goril...”

The question was cut short as a round blue and white object smacked him square on the side of his head, knocking Man-dalf's hat off, and him off his feet. Amanita had scored a hat-trick... A brief smattering of applause emanated from over the fence to number 3, to be quickly stifled by stage-like hushes. Even being a spectator was fraught with peril when Amanita was in one of these moods.

Man-dalf rubbed his head as he stood up and retrieved, first his dented hat, then the offending missile. It was round, with a raised lip, no spout, a handle, with a single word in flowery script in deep blue under the glazing.

'Gazunder'.

“Oh!” exclaimed Man-dalf, quickly followed by “Ah!” then, finally “Urgh!” He gently laid the chamber pot on the grass, and turned to face the little fellow who had mistaken him for a gorilla. Mercifully, the array of non-aerodynamic flying objects had ceased their procession, and a silent serenity descended, broken only by sporadic giggles from over number 3's fence.

“A gorilla?” enquired Man-dalf.

“He's not a gorilla, Bunion,” chimed in a voice from his other side, where Blingo was cautiously pushing himself up to a sitting position. “He's a man. Aren't you, sir.”

“Yes. Yes I am,” agreed Man-dalf, confidently.

“Are you sure?” muttered Bunion. “He looks like a gorilla...” Doubt, exacerbated by pipeweed, clouded his thoughts. Those hairy things were gorillas, weren't they? Or did he dream them? Anyway... mustn't forget my manners.

Rubbing his head, Bunion stood up, then bowed in greeting, stumbled to his knees, clambered up again, rubbed his knees and his head, went to bow again, thought better of it, and instead puffed out his chest, hooking his thumbs into where his braces would have been, if he was wearing any.

“Pleased to meet you, Man. My name's Bunion, and the sparkly gentleman kicking the cartwheel is my neighbour, Blingo.”

Man-Dalf's eyes, so often red and squinting (pipeweed again!) grew large and round. “So you're Bl...” he began, then thought better of it. Confessing to premonitions and bad augury was the quickest way to lose friends and alienate people. Especially hobbits.

“Bl...?” enquired Bunion.

“Bl...essed with living in this wonderful land.” Oh, what a save, Man-dalf thought. In truth, he was a bit too proud of his own achievements, meagre as they were.

“Er, yes.” Bunion responded, doubtfully, as he surveilled the detritus strewn lawn. “Wonderful, isn't it?”

Blingo had been watching the man, quizzically, and recalling the initial query regarding the purchasing of pipeweed, decided it would be best to make his excuses and leave. Today was going to be busy enough, without becoming embroiled in a discussion about pipeweed and its incipient prohibition. Words such as discretion and valour scrambled into his head, but as he didn't really understand them, he ignored them. He lifted his ruby encrusted fob watch from his waistcoat pocket, and flicked open the casing.

“My my, is that the time?” he gasped. “Well, it was lovely meeting you, er, man.”

“-dalf” interjected Man-dalf.

“Dalf,” appended Blingo, “but I really must be off. Work to do and all. Good day, Dalf. Bunion.” Blingo nodded to both, and marched purposefully down the hill, his little legs a golden blur.

Man-dalf watched him go, interestedly. Very interestedly.

“Ahem!” said a voice, and Man-dalf looked down at Bunion, who unsurprisingly was looking up at him. Such is the way with hobbits and men. Some say it's a status thing, but height is the more logical explanation. “You wanted to know where to buy some pipeweed?”

“Oh yes please, “ agreed Man-dalf, all thoughts of Blingo driven from his mind by his craving for pipe-weed.

“Well,” intoned Bunion, portentously, “if you see the road that runs down the hill, past the mill and over the bridge. Over there is Bywater, and if you take the third street, or is it the second? No, it's the fourth. The fourth street on your left. Er, right. Fourth on the RIGHT. Well, halfway down is a little shop, run by old Emfy. Emfy Seymour, the tobacconist. He stocks pipeweed.”

“Why thank you” thanked Man-Dalf, effusively, and licked his lips as he set himself to leave.

“Or,” interjected Bunion, raising his arm and pointing his finger at a little sign outside Number 6, Bagshot Row. In careful white lettering painted on a black board could be read this neat inscription.

'For Sale

Pipeweed'


“You could always try Old Gaffer Gammyknee at number 6. That's were I get mine.”
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Postby Entmooting » Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:48 pm

OOC Seriously, this is the last time I do this!

Amanita stood there, seething, the swell of her... stop it! This was exactly why Amanita was seething. She was fed up to her back teeth being the token female in these pubescent male fantasy quest tales. She'd seen the Robert E Howerd book covers, with Conan the Barbarian, unfeasibly large muscles bulging, draped in scantily clad buxom maidens. Well, Amanita was having none of it. Did it matter that she had honey-gold hair, eyes like deep wells, a darkest blue to drown in, bee stung lips, everted, moist... stop it! Stop it NOW!

Amanita stamped her foot in anger, that dainty, arched foot, milk white, narrow ankled, with lithe calves... Ouch! You bit me! Okay, okay. So lets lose the major demographic!

Ahem.

Amanita wasn't happy. It's no fun being an extra. And no fun being named after a poisonous toadstool. And certainly no fun being married to an artisan who seriously contemplated the production of square wheels. Better for braking, my (dainty?) foot.

So, she got a little angry at times. Wouldn't you? Flinging objects at Bunion was merely a manifestation of her deep seated requirement to be recognised as a... a... what was it? Amanita reached across the kitchen table (too heavy to be a projectile) and grasped the latest edition of “Little Vixen” (strapline, She Bites) and riffled through the pages. Here it was. An individual, independent of the suffocating bondage inherent in the formalised, male oriented marriage structure. Amanita had even gone so far as to begin to burn one of her bras. It was an old one, grey after many washings, and the elastic was a bit saggy, but she had decided that was irrelevant. It was a statement.

She wished afterward that she hadn't actually been wearing the said garment, but a quick dunk in the water butt had sorted that out.

And so it happened again, she was the butt of the joke. Why couldn't Amanita be the star of the production? Amanita waited, hopeful, sure that, somewhere, there was a writer with designs to right the imbalance.

Amanita, superstar! All it needed was someone to pick up the gauntlet. A dainty gauntlet, with pink roses, and hearts, and butterflies, and...okay okay, enough of the shin-kicking!
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Postby Periannath » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:10 pm

Momentarily blinded by the hobbit's bling, Man-dalf's eyes slowly adjusted to the sign advertising pipeweed at the next house over. His heart nearly skipped a beat.

On the cusp of parting company with Bunion, Man-dalf paused, setting aside for the moment his desire for pipeweed, and decided that now might be the best time for him to get some information on this "Blingo" fellow. He leaned in toward Mr. Bunion, discreetly, and asked in a secretive sort of murmur, "Today wouldn't happen to be your neighbor's B-Day, would it?"

"I...I don't believe so," replied a mildly confusticated Bunion, squinching his eyebrows together in thought.

"Hrm," said Man-dalf, rubbing the short beard on his chin thoughtfully. His eyes shifted back and forth conspiratorially, his mind working steadily faster as he did so, the electrical currents running through his neurons to transmit thoughts much as a hamster runs in its wheel. "I see..."

This Blingo... Man-dalf would have to find out more about him. For although he had seemed to be just another shimmering metallic hobbit wearing a badge, Man-dalf had the ominous feeling Blingo might pose a more serious threat. Perhaps the ominous feeling was from all those premonitions in his pipeweed smoke. Or perhaps it was indigestion.

"I have one more question," declared Man-dalf, jutting out his beard importantly. (But he knew he mustn't reveal too much---the last thing he wanted to do was raise any unwarranted suspicion). "Perhaps you've noticed something strange going on this morning? Anything...out of the ordinary?" At this point Man-dalf leaned in toward the hobbit once more, wiggling his bushy eyebrows pointedly (they much resembled seizuring caterpillars).

At this, Bunion's eyes widened ever so slightly.

"Certainly," continued Man-dalf, "things such as flying chamberpots can not be, erm, common?" Perhaps there was some underlying---and more sinister---explanation behind these flying objects.

"Oh, quite common, actually," grumbled Bunion, suddenly looking dejectedly at his feet. "Happens on a frequent schedule, I'm afraid."

"Ah," said Man-dalf knowingly, nodding his shaggy head. Poltergeists. "Well, I'd best not linger," he said. "The presence of others tends to make them more irritable. Thank you for the information, Mr. Bunion! I shall go and fill my supply of pipeweed at once."

Man-dalf strode off toward the next house over, with the sign swinging in front. The hamster was running in his head at quite a steady pace now; his thoughts concerning Blingo and his premonition did not falter, but nor did his incessant craving for a taste of Old Toby. He would have to find out more...after a good smoke.
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Postby Entmooting » Thu Mar 04, 2010 12:13 am

Old Gaffer Gammyknee rocked contentedly in his chair. Once upon a time, a travelling salesman had called at his door, displaying a fine collection of bespoke rocking chairs. Gammyknee had been sorely tempted to buy one, but a nagging doubt had, well, nagged at him as the salesman eulogized over the rhythmic, calming effect of a gently rocking chair. Balanced on the table, the salesman demonstrated a series of beautiful, working scale models, each describing that simple harmonic motion, guaranteed to lull the most adamant insomniac to sleep.

But the Gaffer wasn't sold. He knew damn well he'd never fit in one of those chairs.

So the Gaffer rocked gently, even though his chair failed to rock with him. It was only a problem to others...

Presently, there was a tap on the door. The Gaffer checked it was turned off in case of flood. Now, he was quite aware that only the English readers would get that pun, as Americans say faucet, but Tolkien was English(ish), so the Gaffer contented himself with cultural superiority. However, considering the tap was in reality a knock, and only an individual who had spent a lifetime indulging in pipeweed would even consider any other interpretation, he decided to forget this meandering, and opened the door. It was a perfectly round door, as hobbit doors habitually are, and as would be expected of a perfectly round, hinged door, on opening it immediately fell off its hinges. Luckily, it had long pieces of string attaching it to the frame, so rather than crashing to the ground, it just sort of dangled there. Gammyknee had heard mention of some new-fangled door designs, square in shape, but he just couldn't visualise it. Round hole. Square door. Idiocy!

Standing on the threshold was the biggest gorilla Gammyknee had ever seen. Realising that, in fact, that wasn't his thought, but Bunion's, the Gaffer examined his human interloper.

“Yes, friend. What can I do you for?" he asked.
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Postby Periannath » Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:00 am

"Old Gaffer Gammyknee?" inquired Man-dalf, peering down at the old hobbit, and then at the traditional circular door he stood beside, which dangled on its makeshift strings like an epic fail marionette. "I heard from a very reliable source," he jerked his thumb at the sign, and winked conspiratorially, "that you sell pipeweed!"

Man-dalf suddenly poked his staff at the de-hinged hobbit door, which swayed awkwardly in several directions. Man-dalf chuckled, though only half-heartedly; that would have been much more funny if it hadn't been so long since his last puff of pipeweed (twenty minutes was a long time for him).

"I'm interested in purchasing some of your wares, my good hobbit!" informed Man-dalf, after his giggles had settled down. "Good Old Toby is what I'm after, no less! I trust it is, like all Shire-grown pipeweed, of the finest quality. Now, I can't say I have many silver pennies in my pocket, but perhaps you'd be interested in a trade? I've some trinkets that are of value..." Man-dalf took a moment to rummage through his Precious Belongings bag, and produced from it a handful of oddities. Among them were a marble, an issue of Hobbit Wives Weekly magazine, and a vial of concentrated souls.

"Or if none of these interests you, I also can provide service in getting things down off of very high shelves!" Man-dalf indicated his staff, waving it about frivolously. "Surely, one as short as you must have some need of assistance in acquiring objects in hard-to-reach places! A cookie jar, perhaps?"

Man-dalf inwardly sighed. He knew he really ought to have saved up some money for this trip. Of all things to be short on cash for! His father had always told him: "Son, you really ought to get a job! I can't keep giving you these raises in allowance every time you need to pay the rent." Good old Dad. Man-dalf's father had always given him such generous allowances, even on weeks when Man-dalf had accidentally tripped over him. That always got his goat.
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Postby Entmooting » Fri Mar 05, 2010 8:11 am

Gammyknee studied the giant at his doorway. It was difficult to make out his features, as his great shape blocked out most of the light, but the Gaffer formed an impression anyway. Sense of smell is often overlooked, but Gammyknee had developed his to an instrument of great investigatory power. He sniffed.

Smoker.

Big smoker.

Big smoker needing a bath.

Big smoker needing a bath wanting to buy some pipeweed (in truth, this conclusion was not consequent on his over-developed olfactory sense, but the preceding passage...). Good!

Big smoker needing a bath wanting to buy some pipeweed, but with no money. Bad!

Gammyknee sniffed, again, and contemplated. He was known as Old Gaffer because, not unsurprisingly, he had managed to escape the capricious years called youth, plodded through middle age, and was now teetering on the precipice of venerability. This had been accomplished through the keen use of his wits. He could smell danger. It had a faint vanilla scent, with a touch of cinnamon. And although that was not apparent right now, which he could justifiably account for by the pungent waves of Old Toby and Stale Sweat emanating from his 'guest' (Stale Sweat was a brand of pipeweed that had never really caught on with all but the most hardened, and impoverished, smokers), he judged that this just might be one of those 'dangerous' moments.

Gammyknee sighed.

“Let's be seeing them trinkets, then,” he said, in his next-most yokel intonation. Gammyknee was, actually, a clever and sophisticated hobbit, but he had discovered that hiding his light under a bushel was an aid to a peaceful existence. So long as the light was shielded and the bushel wasn't too dry, otherwise it was simply an aid to attracting the local fire crew.

A marble. How much did he need a marble? Perhaps Old Grumblekin, his one-eyed tabby, could do with a second eye. He knew as a child he'd used Cat's Eyes as marbles, but he was unsure he should mention that, firstly because running on to motorways and prying them from the road surface is VERY, VERY STUPIDLY DANGEROUS, and secondly because most American readers would have absolutely no idea what he was on about.

He dismissed the cat's eye, er, marble, and turned to the second trinket. Old Grumblekin probably wouldn't appreciate it, anyway, considering she'd been dead these last seven years...

'Hobbit Wives Weekly', he read on the magazine cover, above a picture a rather buxom young... a hobnail shoe, size ½, came arcing through the window, landing squarely on his nose, and the gaffer howled in pain and shock, although he remained on his feet. His knee might be gammy, but by gum, once planted, it stayed planted. Gammyknee hastily returned the magazine to the giant.

“Morning Amanita. I'll be round with your shoe presently,” he called out, then turned his attention to the third object: the Vial of Concentrated Souls. He picked it up, pulled out the stopper, and sniffed. Just as expected, he thought, as the acrid fumes crept into his nostrils. Counterfeit Canal number 7b, with the new-fangled name. Canal number 7 was an expensive 'Oh dear pear fume', brewed in secret caves over by the Brandywine River. A special edition (7b), 'Concentrated vile soles', specifically designed for the shoe fetish market, and smelling of leather, had been produced. This was a copy of that, only the counterfeiters had got the spelling wrong. And the words in the wrong order.

Still... Gammyknee took another sniff. It'd hide the smell of Old Grumblekin.

He turned to the giant.

“Right ee are then, sorr, Oi'll arv dis eer foil.” he said, in his most yokel voice. The giant stared at him, nonplussed.

“I'm most terribly sorry, old chap, could you repeat that?” Man-dalf enquired politely, scratching his head through his hat. There was a squeak, and his hat moved slightly. Man-dalf jumped. Gammyknee pretended not to notice. He weighed up his options, and decided that acting the rustic with this stranger was probably unnecessary, and, anyway, played hell with his teeth.

“I'll take the bottle. Now then, Old Toby did you say?” Man-dalf nodded excitedly.

“Let me see. Let me see.” The Gaffer was wearing a brown apron, with a large pocket in the front. He delved inside and brought out a number of small pouches. On opening one, a mischievous glint entered his eyes, and he fixed them on Man-dalf.

“I don't suppose, “ he began, conspiratorially.

“Ye-ess?” queried Man-dalf, his interest piqued.

Gammyknee sprinkled a small quantity of pipeweed on to his hand, and held it up to the giant.

“Listen to that,” he instructed the giant.

Man-dalf halted in the act of bending down, and fixed the Gaffer with a look that questioned the hobbit's sanity.

“Listen?”

“Yes. Yes. Yes. Just listen to it,” said the hobbit, irritably, and so Man-dalf shrugged, and lowered his ear to the hobbit's palm. To his astonishment, sounds emanated from the little green-brown mound. The pipeweed was singing.

“What on middle-earth!” exclaimed Man-dalf.

The Gaffer giggled.

“It's a brand new blend. Super strength. Called 'Tunes'.” He looked around him, flashed a conspiratorial wink at Man-dalf, then whispered,

“Grown hydrophonically...”
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Postby Periannath » Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:38 pm

Man-dalf hoped, at this point, that he hadn't been drawing too much attention to himself. He whacked his squeaky hat with the end of his staff, and as his noggin throbbed painfully from the bump, he grumbled something unintelligible that trailed off into a dull hum, which he could only hear inside his own head.

Despite the initial yokel-drenched ramblings of the nice old hobbit, Man-dalf gathered that he'd actually produced something that had caught old Gammyknee's interest (he had always wondered why his soul-vial emanated the inexplicable odor of feet. He'd always just assumed...oh, nevermind).

What happened next was something so mystical and so shocking that Man-dalf wasn't sure whether this all wasn't a pipeweed-induced dream. When Old Gaffer Gammyknee had shown him the bit of leaf in his hand, it had not appeared to be different or unique in any way from other pipeweed Man-dalf had seen. Fine quality, of course, by the look of it, but...

But then it had begun to Sin! Man-dalf's heart jumped at the sound of it---like the most beautiful, most tiny rendition of "A Whiter Shade of Pale" he'd ever heard in his life.

He had to have it.

"My good hobbit," he started, wiping a tear from his eye, "you must allow me to sample such a fine, hydrophonetically produced marvel. Never in all my travels have I heard such fine weed." (In reality, he'd only ever traveled back and forth between Bree and the Shire many, many times, but really, that was where all the good pipeweed was, anyway). "Name your price, sir, and I will pay it. In the form of unending gratitude, of course. Unless..." Man-dalf rummaged through his bag again, desperate to produce something of more value. Certainly, he must have something that...

"Ah!" Man-dalf suddenly remembered---and reached into his hat instead. Out of it he pulled a (somewhat concussed) chipmunk, which looked around with intelligent (if dizzy) eyes. "I found this little fellow a while back," explained Man-dalf, remembering that strange summer afternoon, when a mysterious lump had been moving around in his pillow case. He'd slept on it anyway---and in the morning, been woken by a very angry, half-suffocated rodent, which had since failed to leave Man-dalf alone. "He's a bit of a nuisance, but I've trained him to steal those little soaps and towelettes from motels. Quite handy, actually. I've never had a use for soap, personally. But certainly someone such as yourself might!" Man-dalf considered for a moment, then thought that if the Gaffer declined, he'd try to give him the chipmunk for free anyway. It would certainly mean fewer bites to his cranium... "I'd be free at last," mumbled Man-dalf to himself---then instantly hoped that Gaffer Gammyknee hadn't heard.
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Postby Entmooting » Wed Mar 10, 2010 10:12 am

OOC Look, I know this is called Blingo's Last Stand, but considering Blingo is, obviously, undertaking a pretty boring journey to Michel Delving, which I could, even should be describing: those adventures describing how he stops off at the Bywater Oldagents (this is the Shire. They don't do News...), caught the omnicart outside the Green Dragon, etc etc, but really, Periannath has kindly deigned to get involved in the telling of this tale, and I only have three pairs of hands, to write four characters. I know, I know. Nobody forced me to do this, but what with the recession, the collapsing pound (that's British money. Sterling used to be such a trustworthy currency. I remember well, the few against the many, lined up in their vulnerable, er, lines, awaiting the onslaught of the fuzzy wuzzies at Rourke's Drift. Red coats shimmering in the African sun. And POUNDS IN THEIR POCKETS! Money that meant something. 'I promise to pay the bearer on demand' We had pride in our financial institutions, leastways, it was until those bankers...BANG!!!)

We apologise for the gratuitous, violent method used to remove the narrator from this thread. We would be grateful if everyone understood that his execution was swift and almost certainly painless. At least for the executioner. Now, to return us to our story, although, personally, I'd like a little bit more on Amanita, and those descriptions of her ripe, heaving... Ouch! For the love of Pete! Why do women wear such pointy shoes?!

The Gaffer eyed the stripy squirrel with an ill concealed lack of enthusiasm. The chipmunk returned the compliment. Man-dalf may have fervently hoped this match was made in heaven, but the reality was more prosaic. No fires were being lit.

However, offers of unending gratitude were worth their weight in gold. Which, in a purely physical sense, wouldn't amount to a great deal. Firstly, the expelled breath would have to be collected, the volume determined, the mass at the requisite temperature and pressure calculated, the gravitational force at the specific location ascertained... it didn't equate to a whole lot of gold. But in a metaphorical sense: that was a whole different kettle of fish (Haddock, in case you're wondering). From his open palm, faint strains of Nino Rota's score from The Godfather caressed their ears. Man-dalf's eyes grew wider, and his longing deeper. This hydrophonic pipeweed did not simply exude random notes, but rather tunes fitting for every occasion. Gammyknee observed the desperate emotions chasing across the giant's face, and knew he had but one decision available. With a little sigh, he carefully placed the pinch of pipeweed in a little pouch and handed it to Man-dalf.

“Unending gratitude it is then. All I need now are some small details...”

He reached across to a little shelf by the door, and pulled down a leather-bound volume, and blew dust from the cover. Two words, gold-embossed in Gothic script, leapt into view as the dust cleared.

Doctor Faustus

“Oops! My mistake,” Gammyknee apologised, as he returned the book to the shelf, replacing it with an entirely different looking book. It was an old, faded exercise book, of indeterminate vintage, with a series of titles, cursorily crossed out from its cover. A couple of these erasures caught Man-dalf's attention; “The Habit: A Trip There and Back Again” and “Book of Lost Souls”, both displaced by a single, scrawled entry.

“Debts!!!”

The three exclamation marks appeared significant...
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Postby Entmooting » Wed Mar 10, 2010 6:34 pm

OOC And so here we approach the eponymous hero of our story. I understand the excitement this engenders, so I request patience and close proximity to lavatories.

Bungdup Naselpassudge huddled deeper into his not-so-great coat, shielding himself from the imaginary rain. Bungdup was the omnicart driver, and hated his job. Secretly, he'd always wanted to be an opera singer, but life's vicissitudes had conspired against him. Firstly, he possessed the singing voice of a tone-deaf amphibian. And secondly, the Shire didn't have an opera house. Or an opera. In fact, the closest the Shire came to culture was the Incredibly Old Took's athletes foot, and that was fungal.

Bungdup had believed Mrs Naselpassudge had been a fun gal when he married her (she wasn't Mrs Naselpassudge then, obviously. Her maiden name was Primula Cheaspred. For some reason that Bungdup had never understood, giggles and obvious attempts at straight faces had always accompanied those occasions when the two words 'maiden' and 'Primula' appeared in the same sentence. It was most peculiar!). So denied the future Bungdup craved, his present was to be found huddled atop the omnicart, Berk the Pony's tail and posterior forever looming large in his visual horizons.

If truth be told, Bungdup was actually rather fond of Berk, a mild mannered equine quadruped (unlike the carnivorous, three legged Ozteeds of distant Far Lapp) cursed with excessive flatus. It truly was a match made in heaven: Berk emitted fumes noxious enough to wilt bracken, and Bungdup had no sense of smell. It would be uncharitable to expand the boundaries of his none-sense. Suffice to say he thought a cuckold was a bird whose call signified Winter...

With a gentle flick of his wrists, Bungdup geed up Berk, who responded with a cocked tail and rasping comment, but also deigned to quicken his pace. They were approaching Bywater, and Berk, a wise head on an unfortunately horsey body, knew that that meant an oat nosebag and a draught of water. Beer on Sundays. Unsurprisingly, Berk had learned to count to seven.

Having passed the Three Farthing Stone (recent attempts to have it renamed the Sixpence due to inflation having failed), Bungdup turned right into Bywater Road. The omnicart stop was situated outside the Green Dragon Inn, and Bungdup licked his lips at the thought of that wonderful ale slipping down his throat whilst Berk had his oats. That's if that frisky mare on Bywater Common was around. Otherwise, Berk would have to content himself with breakfast.

The gables of the Green Dragon hove into view, and Bungdup squeezed shut his rheumy eyes and smiled at the thought of that delicious, nutty, hoppy brew almost within supping range.

“Morning Master Naselpassudge!” hailed a voice, and a shiver of horror sashayed down Bungdup's concertinaed spine. Bungdup's eyes snapped open. Blingo Bogoff! Bungdup's bane!

Blingo Bogoff, the doyen of bureaucrats from Gamwich to Willowbottom, who only last year had rail-roaded legislation past the senile Mayor, Will Whatsmaname, that had made it an offence for custodians of highway users greater than one sheeppower to be under the influence of alcohol. Or spearmint chewing gum. Horlicks had been proscribed as well, although suspicion for that one had fallen on Tod Sleepyman, proprietor of the Ovaltine factory.

“Mrng yr fin bstr,” responded Bungdup, with an unusual clarity possibly prompted by an outpouring of filial love. Blingo, auric nimbus and all, beamed, and awaited his ride to Destiny.
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Postby Periannath » Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:08 am

Man-dalf could scarcely believe his luck. Not only was he receiving a dash of what was probably the highest quality---and most musical---pipeweed in all the Shire, but for the next-to-nothing price of his immortal sou---er, signature. Yes, signature, rather. In a book that was, at most, mildly foreboding. Certainly, he could sign away his personal information without a single misgiving to this amiable old hobbit.

How had that play ended, again? Oh, well; it was probably nothing to worry about.

Yes...Man-dalf's mind was, for a brief moment, singularly occupied with the sheer joy of knowing he'd acquired this hydrophonic herb (from the little pouch in which it was contained he could faintly hear what might have been Carmina Burana). In fact, he could sense that his sudden elated feelings were bringing on a flashback...

A really, really, inconsequential flashback...

..."Boy, is that all you're going to do with your life? Sit in front of that idiot box and smoke your pipe? Don't you think it's time to get a good, steady job?"

"Aw, but Pops," complained a young Man-dalf (age thirty-two). "Pipeweed is my life!" That and the idiot box, which was, in fact, a poorly constructed wooden crate out in the center of the town of Bree, in which the village idiots were kept. It was not uncommon for townsfolk to come down and get a good laugh out of watching the simpletons struggle for their escape from the makeshift cage. "In fact, I think I may dedicate my life to search for the very best pipeweed. The most unique and smooth flavors in the world!"

His father drew himself up to his full height---nearly to Man-dalf's waist. Then, staring him down with stern eyes---well, one eye; the other, his lazy eye, was staring at a space three inches to the left of Man-dalf's ear---he bellowed, "Yer a fool, Manny! A dern fool. We've all had dreams of finding the smoothest flavor...and it's nothin' but a wild duck chase!" (Man-dalf's father would never mention anything to do with geese...not since the
incident. "Yer chasing dreams, boy! Nothing more!"........

But there was more. So much more. And now, he'd finally found it. There was no way he would give up this opportunity; he took the weathered old book from Gaffer Gammyknee and took a glance at the contents. Seemed ordinary enough...just a few dozens of names of people Man-dalf had never heard of, written in a peculiar red ink. Their information also included their social security numbers, two personal references, and, for some reason, a fill-in-the-blank for a five-character security confirmation for the page content. Man-dalf copied "XY59P" into the blank space, along with his name and social. He handed the book back to the old Gaffer, with the sudden afterthought that perhaps his purple glitter gel pen stood out with too much contrast against all that scarlet...

"Well, that was more than a fair trade!" declared Man-dalf, feeling that he'd gotten quite a good deal out of this. He would have to think of what to do with his newly acquired pipeweed. Certainly, it was not something one could merely smoke away...No. He would have to keep it secret, keep it safe.

He suddenly noticed that the chipmunk was running up toward him...coming from the Hairyfoots' (Hairyfeets'?) house, presumably, its little chipmunk teeth carrying small bar soaps. It dropped the soaps at Man-dalf's feet. "Oh, dear," mumbled Man-dalf, shaking his head. Well, hopefully, the Gaffer's neighbors wouldn't miss the bar soaps; they seemed pretty keen on tossing their own belongings out of the house, anyway... Still, he knew he had to praise the chipmunk, lest it lose incentive after all its training. "Good...good Chippy." He patted it on the head---and the rodent sank its incisors into Man-dalf's finger. Man-dalf, sighing, removed the animal from his throbbing index finger and crammed it back inside his hat.

He then quite forgot about the annoying little creature, as he did with all the things which seemed to be able to live inside his garments. It was really best not to try and think about it.
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Postby Entmooting » Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:02 pm

Cries of “Chicken Soup! Chicken Soup! Ooh me dumplings...” emanated from behind the fast shut door of Will Whatsmaname, Mayor of Michel Delving, to mingle with the faint scratching of the quills of Bob Crotchet, clerk to the Council and Nob Quaver, Council clerk. Neither batted an eyelid as the stream of semi-consciousness washed over them.

“Cockleshells, Mr Sprigott. Float another charlie wallop” shouted the voice, and the door reverberated as an unseen, but suitably heavy object impacted. The handle turned, and the door was carefully opened by a very red-faced hobbit, shirt tails untucked, and with a large paper doily glued with honey to his bald pate. From his left ear a rasher of bacon dangled. Crotchet and Quaver paused in their scratching, each one eyeing the new arrival expectantly over the horn rims of their spectacles. He stopped, drawing himself up to his full height of 3ft 2 and ¾ inches, and in measured tones addressed the aforementioned gentlehobbits.

“His Worship the Mayor has finished breakfasting and is ready to undertake his engagements.”

“Tumble-buttocks!” announced the Mayor. With a shudder as camouflaged as a concealed weapon, Marmalade Sprigott reached down to the cause of the preceding clatter, a soup tureen that had finally ceased its spinning. The bacon rasher that had up till then hung precariously from his ear finally let go, and tumbled in a graceful arc to land with a 'plop' in the silver basin. If either Nob or Bob experienced an urge to applaud, it was well disguised.

“Mr Quaver,” intoned Bob, sepulchrally, “what appointments does his worship have this morning?”

“I will peruse the Council diary.” replied Nob, reaching with a bony finger for the leather bound ledger attached by a brass chain to his desk, one long nail on his right forefinger separating the pages, opening the book with a snap.

“Let me see,” he murmured, tapping his quill against his teeth. “It appears His Worship has a rather uneventful morning. Hettie Harfdrest from Harbottle has an appointment at 10, regarding a licence to open a message parlour. Something to do with that new-fangled intonet I believe.” Quaver had a nodding acquaintance with the modern, if by nodding acquaintance one meant ignoring it completely. He was vaguely aware that long distance communications had been vastly improved by the introduction of carrier sparrows. The niggling difficulty of how to retrieve the little so and sos had been solved with the introduction of huge mist nets, into which the sparrows obliviously flew. Hence the “intonet”.

“That might be a little, ahem, complicated for His Worship,” continued Nob. “I think a junior from the Uncivil Service would be more appropriate. What do you think, Mr Crotchet?” He fixed Bob with a wintry smile. For the briefest of brief moments, Bob was caught with a slightly dreamy expression on his face, images of Hettie Harfdrest playing in his mind. Nob's piercing gaze poured cold water on those fantasies. With a final contemplation of patent black leather and wasp clinched waists, Bob concluded the intonet would be just as unintelligible to Hettie as it would be to Mayor Whatsmaname. Hettie had always been poor at speling.

“Oh, I concur,” concurred Bob, nodding sagely. “Is that the sum of His Worships engagements?” he enquired.

“No. No.” responded Nob. “There is a note here that Bogoff, the health and Safety officer, is seeing His Worship at 11.30 regarding an issue with pipeweed.”

He sniffed.

“But I'm sure its of little importance...”
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Postby Entmooting » Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:07 pm

High up on the highest hill in the North Downs, two dark figures sat motionless on their dark steeds. Swaddled in black robes, hooded and hidden, their brooding presence cast a pall over the land. No birds sang. All was quiet save for their stertorous breathing. Eventually, after a seeming eternity of silence, the smaller of the figures turned its cowl to the larger.

“Dad?”

“Yes son”

“This doesn't look much like Angband, does it?”

The larger figure let out a deep sigh.

“No son. It doesn't”

Bloody satnav!
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Postby Entmooting » Sun Mar 14, 2010 11:02 pm

“A fine morning it is, is it not Mr Naselpassudge? How is your good lady wife, Primula? I remember her being a marvellous hockey player. Is she still playing the field?” Blingo beamed.

Bungdup peered at him suspiciously, but there was one quality of Blingo that had to be grudgingly conceded. He was never oblique. Annoying to the point of causing Eru to contemplate screwing up his grand design, casting it in the waste paper basket, and beginning again, but frighteningly honest and straightforward. Other officials had wafted through with a nod and a wink, hands held perpendicularly behind them in inviting openness, but Blingo was different. Blingo thought a bribe was the female participant in a dyslexic wedding.

“R shs arut r sps” replied Bungdup, each word delivered with a ventriloquist's poise.

“Champion, “ replied Blingo, and the beam of his smile near matched the glitter of his apparel. “And, if I remember aright, so unlike her parochial team-mates. Primula only came alive when she was playing away from home. How she loved to get down and dirty in foreign parts.”

Blingo was quite the sports buff, although his own aspirations had never risen above keeping score at the local cricket match (sort of like baseball, except for grownups...). Watching was his passion, usually of his own reflection.

Bungdup squinted hard at Blingo. Surely... There must be... But Blingo's face was unmarked by guilt, and Bungdup had to conclude that he was correct with his long held appraisal. Blingo was, simply, an insufferable idiot.

“Stess m mst nahhhhh!” commented Bungdup, the last syllable metamorphosing into a dry, hacking cough. He pulled his coat tighter around him, then laid down the reins and climbed down from the omnicart. Berk turned his head round and threw him an expectant look, tinged with an “I wish it was Sunday” disappointment. Bungdup knew exactly how he felt. Bungdup had an “I wish that Bogoff would b-b-b-bog off!” look.

“Wrr bya wn tkn?” he enquired, as he saw to Berk's food and watering.

“Oh, the long trip today, Mr Naselpassadge. I've an appointment with His Worship Mayor Whatsmaname in Michel Delving.” Blingo puffed out his chest with pride, his badge of honour , polished to an almost unbearable shine, flashing in the early morning sun.

Bungdup groaned. Though the distance was relatively short, it was going to be a long journey.
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Postby Entmooting » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:05 pm

The Thrain was not happy. To begin with, Lycra was old. Very old. Yes, he had his memories, even the occasional faculty, but he'd trade each and every one of them for the ability to reach down and tie his shoelaces without passing out. Youth was wasted on the young, it had been said, and the Thrain would have heartily agreed, if he could just remember what it was he was supposed to be agreeing with. The Takens were blessed with longevity: hadn't the Old Taken himself lived to be 133, what would have been a record, if it hadn't been for that accursed diary writing fantasist Bulbous Bloggins. Lycra Taken glowered at the thought, but nobody noticed it as such. This was probably a consequence of glowering being Lycra's default facial expression. That and the ease with which it was confused with indigestion.

“Has daddy got rumby-tummy?” enquired Gabardine, Lycra's eldest daughter, in tones so sugar coated one was in danger of contracting diabetes listening to her.

“Don't fuss, dear,” commented Albumen, languidly, “I'm sure your father is quite capable of looking after himself.” Albumen, Gabardine's husband, flashed Lycra an obsequious smile.

“Father is NOT quite capable of looking after himself, Albumen, as you know quite well.” The cut glass voice sliced through the treacly atmosphere as Corduroy, Lycra's youngest daughter, swept into the room. “ How's it going, Dad? Still getting your britches in a twist over old Bloggins?”

Lycra flinched. Why did Corduroy have to be so, so, so, so damned HONEST? Had she no respect?

It wasn't easy, being Thrain. And it wasn't easy being Thrain with three know-it-all daughters always telling him what was right and what was wrong. Perhaps it was time to contemplate the incomplem... incomteplim... unplimcontemp... perhaps it was time to think the unthinkable and retire. Why shouldn't a Thrain retire?

Lycra weighed up the options. He had three daughters, two married, the eldest, Gabardine, to the invertebrate Albumen, and the middle, Rayon, to the dashing but absent from this story unless there's some whopping fiscal remuneration, Cornlaws.

And of course, Corduroy.

Well, Lycra wasn't getting any younger, irrespective of that foul smelling potion the wandering wizardy-thingy Man-dalf had sold him. "Elixir of Youth", it had said on the bottle. From what unfortunate youth, Lycra wondered... If Lycra had been a younger hobbit, he'd be seriously concerned over exactly when the hair on his toes would return...

But what to do? Unusual though it was, Lycra had an idea. The contortions of his face were a sight to behold as he gestured limply to his daughters. Gabardine and Corduroy approached, Gabardine in a serpentine slide, Corduroy in a stomp that would shame a Praetorian Guard. The oleaginous elder slid to Lycra's side, damply attentive.

“Yes daddykins?” she simpered. Corduroy retched.

“Beloved daughter, fetch thee sweet Rayon, for I have needs converse with those three blossoms sprung from the fertile coupling of your once proud father and his beloved maiden your mother,” was what Lycra didn't say.

“Call Rayon dear. I'd like to speak to you all three together.” were the actual words. Gaberdine threw back her head, and in a voice so piercing it could bankrupt acupuncturists, called for Rayon.

“Rayyyy-o-o-onnn! Daddy wants yooooooooooooo!”

Corvine flocks took to wing. Wolves howled. Cats hissed. Hamsters ceased spinning their wheels. The cavernous hallways reverberated with the call. And after a suitably pregnant period a dry shuffling was discerned, a response to the incantation. Rayon was approaching.

Lycra sat in thrainly splendour, attended by his doting daughters. He had reached a decision. He would have poached haddock for supper.

No, no, no! That wasn't it!. Lycra looked about him. Three women. His daughters? My, how they had grown! Three pairs of eyes, looking at him expectantly. Why was that? Oh yes!

Suddenly, apropos of a realisation that the story needed to get moving, Lycra recalled why he had summoned his daughters to him. He had come to a decision. He would divide Takenshire between his three daughters, but the lion's share would go to that daughter who demonstrated the most love for him. And his hamster.
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Postby Periannath » Tue Mar 16, 2010 11:02 pm

Man-dalf seated himself down on one of the many smaller hills around Hobbiton Hill, thinking that now was the perfect time for a celebratory smoke. He pulled from his Precious Belongings bag his old pipe, and his second-to-last fill of Old Toby. As he lit and puffed on his pipe, his mind drifted off, furthering his obliviousness to the fact that he was sitting on top of some old hobbit couple's house, and that his boots were currently dangling right outside their living room window.

"Now, today didn't turn out so bad after all, did it?" he muttered to himself, as his eyes began to lose focus. He couldn't even remember what he had been so worried about in the first place.

He puffed out a few smoke rings, the first few dissolving into the wind, like so many of Man-dalf's brain cells. He stared at them for a while, until, quite suddenly, they began to turn into shapes.

Ominous shapes.

It was just as it had been before---the words B-day, and Blingo's badge---but there was something more...a foreboding so painfully blunt that even in his current haze, Man-dalf could decipher its meaning: A bundle of dried pipeweed...going up in flames. The image progressed even further, into a mushroom cloud. It dissipated...and the pipeweed-image was gone without a trace.

Man-dalf's eyes widened...then went back into focus.

"Time!" he blurted. "There's still time! I've got to hurry." Heaving himself to his feet, he stumbled gracefully down the hillside, rolling to a forceful halt in the hobbit couple's rhododendrons.

Man-dalf hadn't been seven years on the track team for nothing. He ran at top speed down the streets of Hobbiton, arms flailing heroically. It did not even occur to him once that perhaps he was going the wrong way. He just somehow knew, deep in his neuro-receptors, that this was the only way to find that Blingo fellow again.

He ran and ran, and fell down, and walked with a limp for a few minutes, and then ran some more. Man-dalf had always been a fast runner; fastest in his class, at least. Then again, being the only human at the Young Hobbits' Center back in Bree, his legs had been much longer than everyone else's...

Finally, after what must have been no less than one thousand seconds, Man-dalf collapsed from exhaustion, right in the middle of a crossroad. He simply could not go on any further. Presently, he thought he could hear something...a sound that was faint, but growing...like the wheels of a cart. And he was in its way. Would the driver see him? Maybe, maybe not... "Fine!" he spluttered, face-down in the dirt road. "Fine! I don't care! I'd rather be run over than live in a world without pipeweed..." He had failed. Just like his father always said he would.

The cart was coming closer. Man-dalf closed his eyes, and tried to remember the mouth-watering smell of Shire-grown pipeweed one last time...

There was music coming from within his Precious Belongings Bag. It was faint...but was clearly some sort of hope-inspiring theme music...the theme from Forrest Gump?

"Terrible movie..." Man-dalf uttered, before getting smacked down by the vehicle. It rolled over his body with a sickening "thump" and then a "crack." Man-dalf moaned in agony, looking at his staff, which had been cracked in half. He was in so much emotional pain right now...fortunately, the weight of a full-grown horse and an omnicart seemed to have done him no terrible harm.

Only as an afterthought did the driver stop---probably to find out if there was any damage done to his cart. Man-dalf, squinting through the dust in his eyes, saw what appeared to be a figure made of glittering light in the passenger's seat.

"Aha!" uttered Man-dalf. "Blingo Bogoff!" Finally, things were going his way! Or so he thought, until he realized the horse had broken wind over him. The stench was only now beginning to seep into his nostrils. Somehow, he almost wished he HAD died from being run over...
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Postby Entmooting » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:09 am

Bungdup heaved on the reins, and Berk ambled disapprovingly to a halt, commenting on his disturbed routine with a cocked tail and rasp. With almost speed, Bungdup clambered down from the omnicart, worry creasing his features. One by one, he lifted each of the horse's hooves, poking and prodding, before finally straightening and exhaling the breath he had been holding since the collision. A smile cracked his face. Berk had emerged unscathed!

From the omnicart, a slightly strangulated voice issued from behind a furiously waving gold applique handkerchief.

“I say, Mr Naselpassudge (cough). We seem to have run over Mr Dalf.”

Blingo turned from Bungdup to Man-Dalf, and redirected his handkerchief waving.

“Good morning again, Mr Dalf. Fancy running into you here...” Bungdup had little feeling for irony. Nor empathy, sympathy or telephony. He wasn't really an 'y' kind of hobbit.

Man-dalf struggled to a sitting position, broken staff cradled in both hands. Through watering eyes, he could vaguely discern the omnicart driver fussing over his horse, half hidden by the explosion of light that was Blingo.

“You seem to have lost your hat,” commented Blingo. Man-dalf reached to feel for his hat, but only succeeded in rapping his forehead with the thicker end of his broken staff. He let go of it, regretfully, but most certainly sensibly, and reached again for his head. Mr Bogoff was quite correct. His hat was gone. Man-dalf cast his eyes around, and his heart froze. There was the hat, a couple of paces away, dirty and frayed, just as he remembered it, but now also flattened with a great cart track running through the middle of it. Chippy!

He strained over and prodded it with the thin end of his staff. Nothing. With increasing trepidation, he tentatively lifted the brim and walked his fingers inside.

“Aaargh!”

Chippy sank his teeth into his index finger. Waves of relief, and pain, washed over Man-dalf, tinged with faint disappointment. The little critter was alive. Man-dalf returned the hat to his head, and promptly forgot about it, contents and all, as was his wont.

He turned to Blingo.

“My dear chap, I am so happy to have you run into me. I... er … well ...” Once more, Man-dalf was overcome with a strange reticence. How was he supposed to communicate these feelings of approaching doom to this cheery, bright (very bright!) little fellow. He had some difficulty understanding them himself. He simply knew that dark days were ahead, and Blingo was inextricably involved.

His musings were interrupted by Blingo's concerned tones.

“Mr Dalf, you really don't look at all well. Mr Naselpassudge here is driving his omnicart to Michel Delving. I suggest you climb on board and accompany us. Mr Naselpassudge's home is on the way.”

Bungdup turned around suspiciously.

“We could drop you off there,” continued Blingo. “Mrs Naselpassudge is well schooled in nursing, I believe. I'm sure she wouldn't hesitate to give you a good seeing to. Isn't that so, Mr Naselpassudge?”

Bungdup glowered, but said nothing. After all, it was only Blingo...
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Postby Entmooting » Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:50 pm

Chapter next one after the last one, in which a very important character first makes his appearance. Or makes his first appearance. Maybe makes first his appearance?

Anyway, he appears. For the first time.


Nestled up against the easternmost border of the Shire, on the far side of the Cidervinegar river was Cider Hall, a great warren of a place, the ancient seat of the Appulstroodles. Of course, it was the near side of the river to them, and they took pains to point out that, as well as ancient seats, Cider Hall had tables, beds and a bowling alley, but decent folk generally thought the Appulstroodles were a touch strange. Old Uncle Threefoot reckoned it was because the Appulstroodles lived so close to the Not Really Very Old But Still A Bit Spooky Especially In The Moonlight Forest. Old Uncle Threefoot was a bit of a gangster (the bottom bit). It was a family business: the Threefoots were Yardies. On his mother's side (the Sixfootunderhills) he came from a long line of fruit preservers, who would purchase much of the spare apple crop from the Appulstroodles. Old Uncle Threefoot was a jam-makin' Yardie....

Every year, as tradition demanded, the Lowland Games were held at Cider Hall, when hobbits from all over the Shire, and beyond, met for feasting and competition. It would be stretching descriptions to call it a sports day. Capers were tossed, but only into the giant salad that accompanied the Warren Buffet. However, it was certainly a colourful event, especially for the Bree hobbits, who proudly wore their regional costume of red and green checked apron, blue-striped pantaloons and leather purse cum cod-piece. It could be quite disturbing, watching a Breehobbit pay for a round. The Bree hobbits, of course, all claimed to be direct descendants from the original, first hobbits to settle the Northwest of Muddled Earth, and took great pride in broadcasting the fact. The fact that nobody else much cared tended to irritate them.

Yes, the grand gathering was a day of feasting, merriment, occasional arrest for indecent exposure... but it would be wrong to say that tragedy had never struck Cider Hall, or at least its inhabitants. Of course, none of the Appulstroodles would mention the event, but many years ago...........

When Perry Ciderpamflet had been Big Mister of Cider Hall, the head chef was a hobbit of great renown. His name was Smorgas, and all marvelled at his culinary expertise, yet Smorgas grew more and more unhappy with his lot. Not only had cooking grown to make Smorgas bored, he had fallen in love with the Big Mister's daughter, Rosie. He dreamed of nothing but her face, her smile, the smell of her feet, and his dreams became an obsession. He had to be with her, and the knowledge that this could never be caused his heart to ache. All pleasure left his life.

Smorgas had a brother, Dorkas, a sous-chef of some talent, who began to notice that not all was well with his elder brother.

“Smorgas, my brother, why are you so glum?” he enquired one day, as they sat together on the banks of the Cidervinegar river, sharing a plate of pasta. Smorgas sighed, and after a long pause, agony and uncertainty written across his face like indigestion, confessed the cause of his unhappiness. Dorkas had laughed, unkindly, as only a younger brother can, and something had snapped inside Smorgas. He flew at his brother, and wrapping a long length of spaghetti around his neck, had pulled and pulled and pulled. Dorkas's choking gasps had tailed off, and there was silence. Smorgas looked with horror at his handiwork. Red smears of tomato sauce stained Dorkas's collar. His eyes bulged in accusatory shock, but no breath passed his lips. He was quite dead.

Smorgas sat back, thinking what to do, and a strange thing happened; a sly grin wriggled on to his lips. A little further along the riverbank were the stone caves that served as cellars for the cider vats. Smorgas had a key. No-one would know he had been there, and no-one would know where his brother had been dropped...

Days went by, and weeks, and all the other hobbits round Cider Hall ceased asking Smorgas about his brother.

“Gone!” was all he'd answer, and his brow would beetle. Never a smile would break across his face, and all and sundry ceased to talk of him by his name, Smorgas, but called him Glum Smorgas, and eventually just Glum.

And Glum grew wan and sickly looking, and forever his eyes followed Rosie, and he dreamed of her, of dog days in the sun, of picnics shared and cider quaffed.

Perry Ciderpamflet had an old maiden aunt, Lorelai Catsandoggen, wizened but with a voice like an air raid siren, and I don't know how; perhaps Glum was muttering in her presence one day, not seeing her as is often the case with the ancient, but she guessed his secret desire. And so it was, one winter day, that Smorgas, on entering his kitchen, found a folded piece of paper placed on the table, addressed to him. He opened it, and this is what he read:

No Cider With Rosie

by Lorelai


And nobody ever saw Glum Smorgas again.

Until now....

As for Dorkus, who had been drownded in that great cider vat, it was still months before anyone discovered him, and then only because the vat had been emptied to supply the Lowland Games.

Vat69 had been Dorkus's last resting place, and it was Vat 69 that won the cider gold medal that year. In years to come that vintage was known as Dunkin' Dorkus, but only amongst the Bree hobbits...
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Postby Periannath » Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:08 pm

Mrs. Naselpassudge, thought Man-dalf, What a peculiar name. He nodded in subdued agreement with Blingo's suggestion, his tone somewhat depressed. "Perhaps she'd also be able to assist me in...bonding...my...walking aid," he said slowly, carefully evading innuendo. He scooped up the remains of his staff in his arms, trying very hard not to cry.

Man-dalf climbed into the omnicart with a wince, feeling a forming bruise on his behind. He also thought he might have a slight concussion, (vaguely, he wondered if his hat had been still on his head when it was rolled over), but fortunately, Man-dalf had been concussed so many times in the past he no longer noticed when experiencing the symptoms.

"Yr bstrs, bth yrs," mumbled the omnicart driver, then, as he shifted his horse out of neutral and they began to move forward.

"Ah," said Man-dalf knowingly, and thought to himself: So I do have a concussion! He hadn't understood a single word of what must have been the hobbit's cheery welcome aboard his omnicart.

Man-dalf attempted to straighten his hat, which, regrettably, would probably never be rid of its wheel mark. But he could hardly afford a new hat at the moment, and so, he'd just have to keep wearing it. Little did he know that this would lead to an unexpected "cart-track" clothing fad for hip young hobbits across the Shire, for years to come.

He decided, as he rode along with Blingo Bogoff in the omnicart, that he would not betray his true intentions to the hobbit; at least, not yet. He would simply have to ponder his profuse premonitions of pipeweed in private for present. After all, that was how he'd been brought up: to never raise a pressing issue until it had become irredeemably late.

Remember, boy, he remembered his father saying, If you wait until the last possible second to bring up bad news, no one will have enough time left to hate you.

Still, Man-dalf felt his curious impulses beginning to get the better of him. "So, Mr. Bogoff," he started, quite too cheerily (especially given the fact that there were still residual tears of grief streaming down his face), "Heading down to Michel Delving, are you? Seeing relatives, perhaps? Or, I hear they're holding an auction this week at the Mathom-House for a collection of gold-plated lawn gnomes..." He kept his tone nonchalant, with the expertise that had arisen from his one whole weekend of acting classes back in the third grade. Yet he was afraid his eyebrows might give him away; they always wiggled conspiratorially whenever he got too excited about obtaining secret information. His mother had always called them his "Detective Eyebrows." Man-dalf sometimes tried to disguise this by placing a hand inconspicuously across his eyes for minutes at a time. But he fought the urge.
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Postby Entmooting » Sun Mar 28, 2010 8:01 am

In which the villain of the piece returns from the dead. Sort of. In a manner of speaking. Well, he's mentioned... It's a start!

Errorgorm was a Ringer. In other words he was the replacement hero when the writer couldn't afford the genuine article. He was 8 feet 7 inches tall. On stilts. 3 feet 4 inches of stilts. A master of herb-lore, he could tell the use of any and every plant presented to him. He was invariably wrong. Witches were known to approach him, and hand him a bundle of withered leaves, waiting for his judgment.

“This is heal-all, and will staunch the gravest wounds” he would intone, and the witches would depart, cackling, content in their knowledge that they had found the smartest of smart weapons, fatal to all and sundry. It was a gift, to have perfect fallibility, and Errorgorm was accordingly proud.

This fine day, Errorgorm had taken it upon himself to journey to Grosshovel, in the Vale of Undoing, and visit the wizard who lived there. Grosshovel was a ramshackle building, set in an open glade ringed by great and sturdy trees and on arrival, Errorgorm climbed carefully down from his stilts, laid them against the porch wall, and knocked on the door.

At the sound of the knock, Ruddygusset the Not Quite Ecru But Certainly Not Magnolia put down his copy of the Mothman Prophecies and snorted. What a ridiculous story! And it was claimed to be fact? Supernatural mothmen? Absolute nonsense!

Ruddygusset was a contented soul. Oh, the other wizards might run around, interfering hither and thither, influencing kings and queens, plotting with Elves, being important, but Ruddygusset had his books, his formicarium, and his occasional visitor.

“Enter!” he called out, and the occasional visitor entered. An occasional table is a table that has no specific purpose, and Errorgorm was just the same, except he had arms as well as legs.

“Morning Gussy, “ he said, and Ruddygusset smiled a welcome. Errorgorm pulled up a chair, and sat down across from Ruddygusset, rubbing the life back into his constricted legs. He eyed the open book on the armrest of the wizard's chair, and read the title out loud.

“The Mothman Prop... Propeck... Propeckies. Good book?”

“Rather silly,” was Ruddygusset's rumbling reply. “How are you keeping, Eggy? Any news to excite me?”

Gussy offered Eggy a pipe and a pouch, and Eggy busied himself with preparing his smoke.

“Well, old Boney up at the Crack is laid up with a bad back again. Apparently one of the horses tripped over a serving sheep and landed on him. I don't know how many times I've cautioned him about the menagerie menace, but you know Boney, can't be told. And now? Now he's like a bear with a sore head. I offered to prepare a little poultice, to ease the pain, but Boney declined.” Eggy sniffed, and Ruddy guessed just how the refusal had been worded...

“And, ooh yes!” exclaimed Eggy, as he lit the now-prepared pipe and puffed rapidly on it, drawing the air through until the contents were well and truly smouldering. “You remember that mischievous little fellow, Glum? Got up to all sorts of naughtiness before Armoless, the Elfking's son, put a posse together and trapped him in South Murkywood. Well, he's escaped!” Eggy sat back and slapped his thigh. “What do you think of that?”

“Well! Well! Well!” said Ruddygusset, stroking his long, tar yellowed beard. “That is news. Fancy the Elves being so careless as to let that one out of their clutches. Mark my words, Errorgorm, there's a deal of trouble ahead from that fellow. A deal of trouble...”
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Postby Entmooting » Tue Mar 30, 2010 7:11 am

Introducing yet more characters! Oh my, when will it stop? Soon, I promise. Soon. Anyway, here you meet four very important hobbits who will be central to the narrative, if I ever find one. A narrative, that is. Of course, a fresh pen might inject some much needed structure.... No? Ah well, meandering rivers and ox-bow lakes it is then.


“Good Morning, Uncle Blingo!” hailed a voice from the hedge as the omnicart negotiated a corner in its trundle down the lane. The lane was full of little twists and turns, the reason for which had caused much discussion and even argument, especially in the Gordime Parched and other taverns. There were those, like Daddy Threefoot, who said it was a consequence of ancient boundaries, the lanes weaving between the irregular borders. Others, and Gaffer Gammyknee was in this camp, said this was nonsense, and that the lanes simply followed the contours of the land. The truth was neither; the tracks progressed in such zigzag fashion because the ancient planners had been permanently inebriated.
Blingo lifted a hand to shield his eyes from the sun, and squinted over to whence the voice had hailed.

“Why, hello Floppo!” he exclaimed. Floppo Bloggins was his absolute favourite nephew. He had a good many to choose from. The Bloggins's were like rabbits in their habits. Rabbit habit hobbits, if you like. Although Floppo seemed disinclined in that direction. “Who are those two hobbit lads with you?”

“Good morning, Mr Boggoff,” said a voice, high pitched and polite. “It's Perrishoo Taken and Dipsomaniac Appulstroodle.” A third hobbit waved with portentous gravitas. Perrishoo Taken was the young nephew of Thrain Lycra Taken. He was known as Piz for short. The third hobbit, Dipsomaniac Appulstroodle, was the son of the Big Mister of Cider Hall, Monomaniac the Magnificent. Some people in life have names that perfectly accord with their character. Dipsomaniac wasn't one of them. He was a serious, involved hobbit, wiser than most, especially those that lived in Cider Hall, and unique amongst his folk, he didn't drink alcohol. His unfortunate nickname was Dipsy, most unfortunate as he hated lime green romper suits...
Piz Taken's nickname, on the other hand, was quite apt. Only last month he had erased the second 'h' on the sign to the Three Farthing Stone.

“Well, hello Master Taken! And good morning to you Little-Mister Appulstroodle. What brings you down these parts? It's a long way from the Cidervinegar river.”

There was a loud rasping as Berk once more voiced his displeasure at the interruption to his journey. Bungdup chuckled. Man-dalf, who had been feeling somewhat improved since his accident, blanched and pulled his wide-brimmed hat down over his face. Chippy bit him on the nose, but only half-heartedly. It seemed even squirrels were affected by Berk's effluvia.

“Cor!” exclaimed Piz, “what a brilliant nag!” and he was overcome by giggles. Bungdup glowered. Nobody noticed the change. Dipsy waved a hand, half-heartedly, then addressed Blingo.

“Good day to you, Mr Boggoff. I see you are well polished as per usual. To answer your query, I am visiting young Perrishoo, and also on an errand for my father. I am unsure if you have heard of recent happenings in Stroodland?” Dipsy gave a brief pause, just long enough for Blingo to lower his handkerchief from his nose and shake his head.

“Well,” continued Dipsy, “I am sure you are aware that, living next to the Not Very Old Forest does invite the occasional mishap and outrage, but nothing, NOTHING,” and here his voice rose in a fair simulacrum of anger, “ has prepared us for the most recent events. Someone, or some many, has attacked the pear fume caves! Can you imagine the smell?”

Blingo imagined the smell, and found himself wishing for it. Berk snorted. “My, my, that is terrible,” he said with little conviction. Generally, pear fume made his eyes water.

“But that is not all!” exclaimed Dipsy, and his voice rose another notch, “Somebody sabotaged the cider vats! There will be no brew for this year's Lowland Games.” Shocked and awed silence followed this bombshell. The full gravity of the news slowly sank in, like a fat man in quicksand.

In a quieter voice, laced with patrician menace, Dipsomaniac continued. “Now, I may not partake myself, but I am fully cognisant of the ethno-cultural importance of widespread intoxication, and so am quite agreeable to the necessity of apprehending the culprit. Which is why I am here. We have found evidence,” and with a flourish he produced a trowel from beneath his cloak. It was a very distinctive trowel, and Blingo recognised it immediately. It was not a Stroodland trowel. He gestured to Dipsy, requesting the opportunity to view the implement. Dipsy handed him the trowel, and Blingo turned it end over end, examining it closely. Finally, he looked up, returned the object to Dipsy, and hmmmed.

“Well I never!” he said eventually. “That looks just like one of the Old Gaffer's spring-loaded trowels. Not that he uses them much any more. His son, Slim, does most of the work nowadays. Champion fellow, Slimfast. I'll have to ask him if he's lost any gardening tools recently.”

“If you would, mister Boggoff, that would be much appreciated. It would save Thrain Taken's men a visit.” said Dipsy, as he returned the trowel to beneath his cloak.


A little way away, a tussock of grass moved slightly, as though blown by a non-existent wind. Slimfast Gammyknee stopped scratching his head, and pondered. Curse him for being so careless. Fancy leaving one of the gaffer's gardening tools over at the caves, and a spring-loaded trowel at that. Lucky Blingo had turned up. He could play the yokel with him, and convince him of his innocence much easier than the Thrain's men. He'd lay low for a while. Until the heat was off.

The next stage of the revolution would have to wait. Slimfast Gammyknee, hobbit, anarchist, enemy of the aristocracy, camouflaged wearer of grass tussocks on his head, lay still. And waited.
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Postby Entmooting » Wed Mar 31, 2010 2:59 pm

Rosa Cottonmouth couldn't help but worry. She had told her Slim to be careful, and she knew he was an expert in tracking and staying hidden. Especially the latter. Slim once told her he could be in a room full of people at a party, and remain totally unnoticed. Rosa had had a sneaking suspicion that the cause might be his lowly status as gardener and general handyman, but Slim had been quick to disabuse her of the notion. They were all nice, kind, caring gentlehobbits, who might dress in a finery Slim could but imagine, and speak in tones of liquid condescension, but Slim assured Rosa that it was not a case of them studiously ignoring him; it was a talent he himself had cultivated. All it required was for him to force his tongue firmly into his cheek, wink... it was at that point that Rosa had realised that, though both stationary, Slim had been taking her for a ride. She'd swung for him then, but most of the time she simply swooned for him. Her Slim.

Rosa smiled at the memory, then with a deep breath, thrust all thoughts of Slim from her mind and turned to more pressing business. Ensuring the whetstone was steady, Rosa resumed honing her throwing knives. She had a feeling she'd be needing them. The attack on the cider vats had been a huge success, but Rosa was wise enough to know that it was simply a beginning. The Appulstroodles were a dangerous crowd. Power and riches didn't fall from trees. No. Apples and pears fell from trees, and the Applestroodles had monopolised the citrus fruit market centuries ago. Monopolies. That was the basis of power. And staffs. Wizard staffs were quite powerful. In fact, wizards were generally powerful, staff or no. And humans. They were powerful because they were big. Like elves. And trolls! Trolls were HUGE, so they must be very powerful. And trolls DEFINITELY didn't fall from trees. As far as Rosa knew, Trolls couldn't even climb trees, so the chances of one falling from a tree, even a really big tree, was pretty slim.

Rosa paused mid thought. Ah, Slim. He knew all about power, its abuse, and the exploitation inherent in a feudal system. As he was wont to say, it wouldn't be feudal if it didn't get people feuding. Rosa had tried to comment that, technically, the Shire wasn't a feudal society, and the only things hobbits might feud over would be the last slice of chocolate cake, but Slim had brushed away her objections by stating that, yes, the Shire might not appear to be feudal, but that was because the feudal trappings were covert, not overt, and this was actually further evidence of the Elite's cunning and mendacity. The illusion of hobbit contentment was merely a ploy of the ruling classes, engineered to maintain the status quo. Just look at Mayor Whatsmaname. How else could it be explained that a doddery old fool had been elected 17 times if it wasn't for the malign patronage of the Takens and Appulstroodles? Secretly, Rosa thought it was a bonus having a mayor who couldn't remember his own name, never mind know what he was doing. It explained his popularity. Hobbits liked a mayor who didn't do anything. Doing nothing equalled not interfering. However, Slim was adamant. The whole system was full of bad apples and rotten to the core. Only through the violent overthrow of the oppressive state could real emancipation occur, and Slim was committed to making it happen, whether the hobbits wanted it or not. As Slim explained, it wasn't that hobbits didn't want a revolution, even if they said they didn't want a revolution. It was simply that they didn't know that they did want a revolution

It was to these ends the Whether Underground had been formed. The attack on the cider vats had been simply the first stage. Slim had read about some of the hit and run methods used by the Big People in the fight against the Dark Lord, and he intended to ape them. Gorilla tactics, he called them...
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Postby Entmooting » Sat Apr 03, 2010 6:31 am

The three young hobbits had been left behind, and the sound of Berk's shoes echoed clip clop on the lane. The sky was devoid of clouds, a deep, pulsating blue, and an insect droning filled the air, although it's probably a trifle unfair to describe Blingo as an insect...

“Well, Mr Dalf, where were we? Oh yes, I had been telling you all about my vitally important work for Health and Safety, hadn't I?”

Man-dalf inwardly groaned. A portion of the groan may even have escaped outwardly, but Blingo didn't notice. He was far too busy talking about his favourite subject; Blingo. Little had Man-dalf realised when he first inquired about Blingo's purpose in travelling to Michel Delving how the answer would entail such a torrent of boring irrelevance. The hobbit was unstoppable, and responded to subtlety like a donkey to a chess invitation.

“So, there I was, new to the job. Still wet behind the ears... ha ha ha... and I noticed the sproggle tap on the undermatcher only provided 245 degree rotation, with 1/8th inch clearance, rather than the 270 degrees with 1/4 inch clearance demanded by section 17 subsection 7, of the requisite code. Well, the Chief Interferer and my supervisor at that time, a Mr Overthehill, was most impressed. 'Blingo,' he'd said, 'it's that attention to detail that will take you far, my boy.' Oh it was such a compliment, because only the previous year....”

Man-dalf began to seriously contemplate gnawing his leg off, such was his desire to rid himself of the assault and battery on his ears. He felt the tension building in his chest, signs of an incipient emotional outburst, perhaps. An explosive outburst? Of course! Perhaps that was the simple answer to his doom laden premonitions. They were simply exaggerated visions of his emotional fragility, magnified by the copious amounts of pipeweed he was smoking. Pipeweed. PIPEWEED.

"PIPEWEED!" Man-dalf suddenly roared, his shout soaring and swooping over the countryside. Berk started and farted.

"Wussa?" exclaimed Bungdup, waking up.

Blingo stared at Man-Dalf, his mouth a round O. A brief period of silence descended. Man-dalf reddened. He fiddled with his beard, embarrassed, then managed to mumble a response.

"Erm, pipeweed. Sorry. Sort of popped out..."

"Pipeweed, you say?" queried Blingo, and his face lit up. "Why, what a coincidence. It's the issue of pipeweed that is the reason for my audience with Mayor Whatsmaname today."

Man-dalf stiffened, his mind shifting gear from the semi-comfort of his most recent cognitive conclusion.

"Really?" he near whispered. That cold hand of foreboding clenched tight once more around his heart.

"Why, yes!" replied Blingo, cheerily. "The Shire Health and Safety Executive have been conducting numerous experiments and surveys, and after much analysis have reached the conclusion that the smoking of pipeweed is so injurious to health and well-being that there is but one solution."

A look of expectant horror was tattooed on Man-dalf's face. It could not be. Surely?

Blingo continued, oblivious to the effects of his words.

"Yes. After due consideration, the Health and Safety Executive have recommended the prohibition of pipeweed. Mayor Whatsmaname will be signing the decree to that effect today..."

Man-dalf failed to hear the completion of Blingo's statement. The magnitude of the nightmare had been too great. A seizure had taken him and he had rolled, legs akimbo, on to the flat of his back, fainting dead away...
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Postby Entmooting » Wed Apr 07, 2010 5:28 am

"Boring, boring, boring, boring, boring. Come on, you old fossils, let's go to Knobbly End," wheedled Piz. The three hobbits were seated on a raised bank, overlooking the lane, having finished the last morsels of their second breakfast and now engaging in postprandial smoking. Dipsy was for taking the direct root to Grand Grinnes in Takenshire. Floppo was in general agreement, although the idea of a little detour through Knobbly End was not too unattractive. Piz, as befitting a young Taken, was all for a bit of adventure, and there were places in Knobbly End that were really quite wild, or if not wild, slightly angry. If truth be told, the three friends travelling together was rather unusual, and for this reason even Dipsy was persuadable.

He looked at Piz's imploring face, then at Floppo.

"We-e-ll. All right then. It isn't too far out of the way, I suppose. Okay Floppo?"

Floppo nodded indulgently.

"Hooray!" shouted Piz, wagging his metaphorical tail. Floppo began to laugh, then stiffened.

"Get off the road, " he stage whispered, then louder and more forcibly, "Get off the road!"

Piz and Dipsy shared a puzzled look. "Er, are you okay Floppo?" inquired Dipsy. Floppo was jolted from whatever strange land his psyche had wandered to, and a sheepish grin stole over his face (I've never actually seen a sheep grin, but apparently they only do it in embarrassment, after they've been shorn. It's a consequence of their sudden nakedness.) Floppo placed his pipe carefully on the ground, and rubbed his eyes.

"Sorry guys. Shortass Leaf has that effect on me at times. A sudden case of the heeby-jeebies, but I'm okay n... what on Earth is THAT?" Floppo jumped up, pointing away at the field. Dipsy and Piz followed the arrow of his arm.

"A rabbit?" said Dipsy.

"An Ent?" said Piz, sarcastically. Floppo's weird weed behaviour was as bad as he could remember, and then a frightening thought entered his head: what if Floppo got super-munchies? Was there enough food to go round with a ravenous gastromaniac on the loose? Piz shuddered. Floppo's funny turn wasn't funny any longer.

"No! No! There! Look at that tussock. It's MOVING!"

"Wind?" said Dipsy, a note of bored irritation colouring his voice.

"Not swaying, Dipsy. Moving in a shuffling, crawling way. What IS it?"

Piz, who had the sharpest eyesight, squinted hard at where Floppo was pointing, and then with a gasp of surprise also jumped to his feet. "I say, Floppo, there is something there. Let's go and investigate."

"Just a moment, Piz. Better safe than sorry," cautioned Floppo, before casting about and finding a palm sized stone. With careful aim, he drew his arm back, then flung the rock at the target, which it struck with unerring accuracy. There was a squeal of pain, and the tussock stood up, and proceeded to dance about, appendages rubbing at the most tussocky bits. A string of expletives filled the air. The language was distinctly earthy, just what would be expected from an animated ball of grass and mud. Occasional words could be recognised, standing proud from the torrent. 'Shovel', 'hoe' and 'jacksie' were three, although the exact combination was hard to distinguish. Floppo was sure he also heard the word 'insert', but he was unable to construct a meaningful sentence. What he was able to do was recognise the voice.

"Slimfast!" he exclaimed, in astonishment. "What are YOU doing here?"

Slim stopped his pain dance (like a rain dance, just more vigorous), and quiet descended as he frantically searched for a believable answer. Finally, he blurted out a reply, one he immediately regretted.

"Hunting mushrooms?"
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Postby Periannath » Wed Apr 07, 2010 8:42 pm

Deep within the recesses of his mind, Mandalf was dragged by his seizure, down, deep down, past the parts of his brain that had been fried by pipeweed, down into the very confines of his soul.

He fell. He fell through flame and shadow. (The shadow was an easy enough metaphor for the enveloping horror; the flame was, in fact, a reference to the severe burning in his sinuses resulting from the intake of horse flatulence. Either way, it was meaningful.) The only image that crosses his vision in that dark, lonely place was that of Blingo Bogoff, glittering like the sun and spinning slowly into an abyss of eternal weedlessness, all the while babbling on about the inherent benefits of removing pipeweed from Shire society. The image of Blingo receded, becoming a tiny, blathering speck of light in the distance. That point of light stayed in Mandalf's sight, and it became his only point of focus; gradually, the light began to stimulate his optical nerve, and he found he actually could see something real again: the side of the omnicart as it rolled along the dirt path. Mandalf's pupils dilated, only very slowly at first, but then became as large as if he had been smoking Toby all the day long. Had he been able to see himself from another's perspective, he would have noticed that he much resembled a rabid animal, foaming at the mouth and drooling over itself, as his legs twitched hysterically.

Slowly, he raised his right hand (it was impossible to tell if it was a conscious decision or not), and then slapped himself across the face as hard as possible. "Blurgh," he said, shaking his head, then his eyes focused back on Blingo.

"Ah...my apologies," he slurred, wiping the drool from his chin with proper etiquette. He found that, although the seizure had left him, the shock had not; he was light-headed and delirious (not at all an uncommon state of mind for him). "I just had the most hideous dream. I dreamt that I was riding in an omnicart with the personification of a nexus of evil, who wouldn't stop blithering on about taps." Mandalf rubbed the red handprint on his face where he'd slapped himself. "Good thing the rest of it was just a dream, though, because let me tell you, sir, I simply don't think I could cope with the consequences!" At this, he had a good laugh. He laughed long and hard, and for a split second it sounded like sobbing, but then it was laughter again. "Ohhh," he said, wiping a tear away, "that certainly was a ridiculous dream."

With a hand that trembled only the slightest bit, Mandalf reached into his bag and retrieved his last dose of Old Toby, along with his pipe. For some reason, he felt that he really, severely needed a smoke. Right now. Chuckling lightly to himself, he filled his pipe and lit it with the power of his thoughts. Then he took a long, deep puff of smoke and let it out again. "Ahh!" he sighed in relief. "I tell you, there's nothing more relaxing than a good smoke. In fact," he nudged Blingo, who recoiled slightly and immediately dusted off the spot of contact with a handkerchief, "smoking has done more for me than anything or anyone in this world! I don't know where I'd be without it." (Probably in some better clothes and a house of his own, but he didn't say that). "It's gotten me through some tough times, this old friend of mine..."

"Ah, yes. Well. As I was saying, Mr. Dalf, as Principle Interferer, it's my job to---" began Blingo, who had been waiting for an opportunity to continue his lectures, but Mandalf interrupted.

"Ah! That reminds me, Mr. Bogoff! We have not really been properly introduced yet. You see, I am actually known as Mandalf. Mandalf the Monochrome, actually. Although the original name on my driver's license is..."

But Blingo didn't seem to be paying attention. He was instead pressing his handkerchief to his face, squinting through the pungent cloud of pipeweed fumes emitting from Mandalf's pie hole. Mandalf, oblivious, merely puffed once more on his pipe, and blew another large smoke ring, which wafted through the air toward Blingo, dissipating around the hobbit's head. Mandalf hummed to himself, a tune which had stuck in his head since arriving back from his seizure; it chorused from his Precious Belongings Bag, where the hydrophonic pipeweed resided, still secret, still safe. Still melodious. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite. Not the sanest of melodies, but coherent, nonetheless...more so from the weed; Mandalf kept getting stuck on the refrain.
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Postby Entmooting » Mon Apr 12, 2010 5:10 am

A brief interlude, to remind the reader of the alliterating villain of the piece. Unfortunately, an explanation for his surprising longevity is not forthcoming. However, when I've thought of one.. er... decided on the right moment to divulge the secret, it will be. Divulged, that is...

Vengeance is a dish best served cold. Like gazpacho. Or vichyssoise. It had been Smorgas Glum's extensive knowledge of soups that had facilitated his escape from the Elves of Murkywood. The swiftest way to an Elf's heart is through his stomach (or possibly slightly to the left of the sternum with a sharp object) and Glum had bided his time, building trust through ever more complex banquets. The chief cook to the Elvenking, Hastir Tallbloom, himself no slouch when it came to experimentation, had been astonished by Glum's capacity to innovate. Yes, Hastir had created deep frozen slug mousse, but only through Glum's introduction of caramelised cobweb to cocoon this concoction had the dish been elevated to the sublime. It was the first of many Glum dishes that were simply to die for. At least, that was the plan. With patience born of his 427 years, Glum bided his time.

"Smorgas, you have outdone yourself." commented the Elvenking, Thindrool. "This mushroom and ivy broth is a gustatory sensation. Why, my taste buds are positively dancing. It's...it's... i-i-i-t-t-t-t-t............ugh!"

And like a domino rally, each and every Elf at the feast fell face first into their bowls. Glum scowled, which was as close to a smile as he could get these days. "Stupid Elves." he hissed, and with a last triumphant look, disappeared into the trees.
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Postby Entmooting » Sun Apr 18, 2010 12:29 pm

Ronald Dimplecheeks had become increasingly dissatisfied with his lot. It wasn't that his work was difficult, or dangerous, or particularly intellectually taxing. It was simply that middle management in a fast food take-away restaurant chain was, for Ronald, stupefyingly tedious. Ronald had always been a dreamer, spending a large part of his spare time engrossed in some of the more lurid escapist literature. At least, he called it literature. This was not a universal appraisal. It irritated him greatly when colleagues snorted derision at his fascination with "comic books". Ronald knew they were teasing him, but the temptation was always too great, and he found himself defending the artistic integrity and complex narrative of his "graphic novels". He tried to ignore the sniggers, with limited success.

Then came the accident. It could so easily have been avoided, but the 'Ma Puckerlips' sour sauce container, with the brittle plastic spout, had been balanced precariously on the top shelf, and it was simply Ron's misfortune to be slouching past at the same moment the giant articulated horse and cart rumbled past the restaurant. The vibrations from those massive iron clad wheels caused the container to wobble, and tip, and fall. Ronald caught movement in the corner of his eye, turned to look, and caught the spout in the same corner of the same eye. He had screamed as the gunky sour sauce was injected into his conjunctiva, the spout snapped off, and he found himself falling to the ground, his eye aflame with agony.

Oh, the first aid had been exemplary, if exemplary means by the book. That was the book that nobody could find for twenty minutes; twenty minutes of slightly less than frantic searching, the urgency exhibited reminiscent of the terminally ill awaiting the grim reaper. The book, stained and tattered, was eventually discovered propping open the rear door that led from the kitchen to the back yard, enabling swift ingress and egress for those engaged in their pipeweed excursions. Those twenty minutes had been critical. Ronald had been permanently scarred, both physically and mentally. He developed an overwhelming fear of sour sauce, as well as a constantly weeping right eye. When not wearing a patch he used a cotton wool pad, impregnated with aloe vera, to dab continuously at his inflamed orb. Of course, this gained him a nickname.

No, not Vera Lint...

Initially, Redeye was tried, but considering the regular procession of pipeweed smokers in and out of the rear door, that could have applied to anyone. A better name was needed, and a better name was found. Ronald became known as Sour Ron, and it was Sour Ron that stuck.

Ronald was not amused. Ronald wanted revenge, but being, if truth be told, rather timid, he settled for a new job.

The relief was genuine, and even tinged with a little excitement, when he came across the advertisement in the catering trade paper. Wanted, a go-getting, independent minded assistant to a mobile purveyor of frozen milk products. Travel guaranteed. Promotion a certainty. Ronald made a decision there and then. He'd had enough of this restaurant, this town, this red uniform with the silly paper hat, the glue-on elf ears. He was going to spread his wings and fly. Metaphorically. Like balrogs. His mind made up, Ronald walked out the door, never to return, accept once, to theatrically dump that hated red jacket on the service counter. Well, twice, actually, when he realised he'd left his wallet in the breast pocket.

The rest, as they say, is history. Sour Ron became assistant to Val "Milker" Mortimer, premier ice cream salesman, philosopher, skittles champion and wannabe Emo, although Milker claimed he was more Goth than Emo...

Oh, and he was plotting to become Lord and Master of all Muddled Earth. Sour Ron wasn't so sure about this bit, especially Milker's plans for him to live in the toilet. Who would want to be a loo tenant? Milker had explained that loo tenant was simply titular, not requiring lavatorial residence, and was so described because, as Milker's second in command, Ron would be privy to all his secrets. Eventually, Sour Ron had come round to Milker's way of thinking. Milker was very persuasive...

Milker was gone now. He'd taken early retirement and moved to a little bungalow on the coast. Dun Harrowing, it was called. The task of world domination was all Ron's.
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Postby Periannath » Sun Apr 25, 2010 10:17 am

Mandalf was feeling much better since smoking his pipe. He was feeling calmer, peaceful, and more subdued than ever. Not to mention the pleasant, warm, tingly feeling behind his eyeballs.

"Ah, well. Now, Mr. Bogoff! I believe we were on the subject of pipeweed, weren't we? What a wondrous thing, pipeweed. Did you know, my good hobbit, that there is no other thing so vitally important, so symbolic of the Shire, as native-grown pipeweed? I studied its history for a brief time, you know---not officially, of course, more like from reading those little facts on bottle caps, mostly---nonetheless, you must already know of its great and inspiring past! Why, did you know, Old Toby was originally cultivated and distributed by old Tobold Hornblower! (Old Toby's always been my favorite, you know, a bit smoother flavor than the Shortass Leaf). But the Hornblower family! Of all people...and did you know the diversity of pipeweed, spread out from the West Farthing all the way to Gondor..."

And it was discovered by Blingo Bogoff, then, that he was not the only one in this omnicart who was capable of unbearably long, excruciating ramblings. After a combination of oxygen deprivation to his brain cells, a near nervous breakdown, and perhaps concussion, Mandalf somehow felt the need to go off on this ambiguous train wreck of pipeweed lore. Perhaps, deep down, beneath the nervous shock, part of his brain was desperately trying to find ways to get Blingo to see the horrors of banning pipeweed from the Shire. Or perhaps Mandalf had just had one smoke too many.

"Culture! That's what it boils down to, my good, short, short friend. Culture. All the important hobbits of history have partaken in the smoking of weed, and just look at what they accomplished! It's worth noting that every hobbit to ever make a great accomplishment seemed to have smoked pipeweed at some point beforehand! Coincidence? I think not." Mandalf raised his eyebrows pointedly here, lowering his pipe momentarily to stare down at Blingo Bogoff, who had as of yet refused to remove his handkerchief. (This reminded Mr. Bogoff of a study which showed conclusively that "all murderers eat bread...")

"I say," commented Blingo at this point, "Are you, erm, quite all right, Mr. Dalf? Er, Mr. Mandalf? Your eyes seem to be slipping out of focus again..."

"Oh," said Mandalf slowly and seriously, "I'm quite all right, all right. So very, very quite." Suddenly, he glanced anxiously over the side of the omnicart. "What was that?"

"What was what?" asked Blingo cautiously.

"There---no, perhaps it was just the wind..." Mandalf's eyes shifted back and forth suspiciously. He muttered, half to himself, "My apologies, probably nothing...could have sworn I heard the plot flying by...ah, well! I say, we simply must make a quick pit-stop! Mr. Naselpassudge!" He rapped on the front-most edge of the omnicart with his staff-half, quite loudly and annoyingly. "I say, Mr. Naselpassudge! Not to be rude, but aren't we due for a short stop? Up ahead, not too far, there's a few shops, if I remember correctly! I do remember some things, you know," he added proudly. (He remembered this particular thing because in the past he'd bought a large quantity of pipeweed in these parts. But he was going to cover up his motives better than that). "You see, I'd like very much to get a quick mend for my good old staff!" His eyes suddenly started watering with the memory off his staff's accident, and he sniffled the slightest bit. "Good...good old staff. You'll be all right." He patted the splintered end of the half he was holding. "Just some duct tape, perhaps, and you'll be good as new, old friend."

There was something disturbing about Mandalf's seemingly intimate relationships with inanimate objects, but Blingo Bogoff was a bit too polite (or perhaps wary) to raise the issue presently. Honestly, he felt that he, too, might use a quick rest stop, if only to get away from the smell of pipeweed smoke. It was beginning to have an effect on him; he was beginning to feel lightheaded (or perhaps it was an effect of merely being too long in Mandalf's presence).
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