He was small, he was green, and he was sickly (incipient emphysema I'm afraid). He coughed once, without turning his head. A puff of thin grey smoke popped out and hung sullenly in the air before his snout. He was cranky, and he batted at the little cloud, a vicious swipe that dispersed it nicely. Behind him, a goodly distance, yet not as far as he'd like, a vague figure wrapped in a green hood ran along the Greenway. Occasionally it tripped over an outsized scabbard, and rolled with its momentum for a yard or two. But however many times it fell, it always staggered up again, relentless in pursuit.
"Curse 'em!" he muttered, shaking out his proud tail behind him, and then, noting the proximity of the green warrior, he renewed his pounding retreat. Before him jiggled and jumped his rounded belly, still protuberant, but flexibly slack from all this unwonted exercize and the meals he'd had to skip to stay ahead of that green menace. "Bet she's got a whole carton of them blasted Lembas, just runs along stuffin' 'em into her mouth, and me without so much as a left-over-morsel of distressed-damsel in me kit! It's unfair, that's what!"
He growled, low, and throaty. Highly satisfied with its bass rumble, he broke into a full dragon-trot that ate up the miles, and added to the distance separating him from the Green-nemesis. He managed to chase down a ragged rabbit without deviating much from his course, twisted its neck, and started toasting the thing as he ran. "Hmm, beady little eyes, mulish ears, tremendous buck-toothed incisors -- reminds me of that dratted DA!" So saying he gobbled all the more ferociously, promising that he'd soon deal with that other pesky female and her dribble-drabble companions. But first, he must lose Megn1. A sly grin revealed a fang or three, and a snortle (same as a chortle for a human) brought another cloud past his lips. The Greenway was rapidly approaching a low lying place, a long swale where stagnant pools of an ichorus liquid were hidden among the coarse tussocks of the grass. This was the blasted scene of a great battle, fought ages ago, and still the landscape bore the scaring evidence of that titanic struggle. A toppled ruin, on a slumping mound, and all about it, a treacherous place was spreading: bogs of clinging sand and sticky sugar. These were, in fact, as I'm sure you have already guessed, the fabled Pink-Lemonade Pools, where long ago Megn1 had come to grief. If he could trick her back into the morass below, she'd be firmly planted for days, howling her frustrations into the forlorn wastes. He snuckled, (same as the worst type of human chuckles) and put on a burst of speed.
From one dubious patch of waving green to another he bounded. His tiny wings, fanning the air, saw him safely deposited at last upon an islet, pink-rimmed in crusted sugars, its atmosphere made poisonous from the vapours of all those ancient lemons. Having a stock of poisonous airs of his own, the ambient fumes did him little harm, but their impact on the presumed human constitution of a Megn1 might well horrify even those of us who hear this tale, tucked-up safely in our beds.
Long before she reached the lapping, saccharine shores, Megn had been losing altitude, running deeper into the fume-laden basins. An insidious torpor taxed her muscled limbs, and fuddled her razor-edged wits. "Must catch green dragonfly, pin 'is hide to a board, must not let real estate values fall, must keep Orcs out of the neighborhood, gasp, choke, pffthui!" Her eyes were blearing, and the defiant dragon seemed so near; his horn tipped thumbs were in his ears, his clawed fingers were wagging, his tongue protruded a good 14 inches, and from his long green jaws came this insulting chant: "Nyah-nyah! Can't get me, I'm on an island!"
Now under normal circumstances, Megn1 -- long jump champion of Arnor and holder of the Thane's Cup for athletic prowess -- could easily have closed with the insolent little beast and diced him into cucumber-cubes, (taking just half a jiffy to do the job. What's a jiffy? Ask you mother, she'll know). But her head was reeling, her focus was unsteady, and had she known it, she was already on soft ground, partially stuck to the sugary sands. She gathered herself, crouched panther-like and sprang! To her credit, she almost made it, but "almost," as the old tales tell us, "is simply not good enough!"
She was up to her knees in the goo, fast sinking, the vile pink soups rising, rising, til she finally found a blessed point of buoyancy somewhere about the level of her shoulders. "Oh, good! At least I've kept this nasty stuff out of my hair! If I can just float my way to shore I can still make that date with Legolas!"
There was a droning buzz, and a heavy green form, rounded like a dense and ugly cloud, passed just a few feet above her head. She tried to swat the thing, but her sword arm would not rise, and the dragon was soon gone, huzz-buzzing like some giant bee, off into the distance.
"Now, to replenish my energies, there ought to be a jolly, chubby-hobbit down near Archet, or at least a dim-wit sheep, and then, oh then, I'll track that foot-padding, pseudo-fellowship, and deal with them, and their precious DA!"
I am exceedingly sorry, and I do beg your pardon, but I must report the events truthfully -- he positively gloated, as only a dragon can, drooling green slobbers of boiling anticipation. Some like their vengeance hot!
Meanwhile, we must turn south and east a bit to track with a narrator's precision and speed the present position and predicament of the "shadow fellowship" a gang that seemed quite determined to dog poor Frodo's historic journey. Were they an "up-to-no-good" tatterdemalion collection of thugs and thieves, intent upon some supreme errand of mischief? Had they designs upon Baggin's magic Ring, and were they employed by some sinister cabal? I can only say, that even I am not yet certain of their motives, and while I am -- editorially speaking -- quite willing to grant Annie, Stormrider, Glorfindle, Algamesh, and Rivers the benefit of my doubts, I need only remind you that they were accompanied by the infamous DA! If you have heard even half of what I know concerning this miscreant, and I've heard less than half the dark things out there to be told, you will immediately suspect this entire crew of harboring the most sinister of conceits! But, we shall be fair minded here, and rush not yet to judgment, allowing their future deportments to determine their various degrees of shame and guilt.
Apparently the gang had left Bree only to go to ground in one of those ancillary, if not exactly unnecessary events that sometimes interrupt the progress of the most careful of travelers. What secret evils they perpetuated in that hideous tunnel, tutored in the ways of darkness by DA, I cannot say, though I am certain they will not bear the scrutiny of the honest sunlit day.
At any rate they soon were making their several ways (minus the periodic detachments of Glorfindle) toward the Elf-haven of Rivendell. The earth behind them bore the rumour of their passage: burnt rings on the ground littered with Twinkie wrappers; and scattered along their path, crushed and empty, lay dozens of cheap, aluminum-packaged mead containers. Occasionally a venerable and shapely tree showed scars where some dense, blunt object had contused a limb, or errant sword strokes had rudely gashed both bole and bough.
In the wake of this wrecking crew came a dragon, green and round, and proud. The Lil' Smoker was picking his teeth with the splintered end of a shinbone -- a sheep's I'm happy to tell you, it could have been a hobbit's! He was shuffling his way toward Rivendell, almost absent-mindedly kicking through the litter that blazed the trail. His eyes were partially closed in a fine revery. While missing most of the salient notes, he was "singing" an ancient ditty, and buoyed by the tautness of his belly, he was in as fine a mood as one might expect for a dragon of any hue.
"In a field by the river My love and I did stand And on my leaning shoulder She laid her snow-white hand. She bid me take life easy, As the grass grows on the weirs; But I was young and foolish And now am full of tears."*
For hunger grew ferociously and I could not abhor snacking most atrociously on the gurl that I adore. Gone she is and lost to me, like winter's last white snows, devoured oh so carelessly down to her tiny toes!
I am sorry to tell you, but this is all too often the way of dragon love: hot, passionate, and generally ending with an act of total consumption. The species is only preserved, it seems, by the vaster girth of the female relative to the male, though occasionally the more "survival oriented" of the males may turn the tables...
Behind him, low on the horizon, a faint threat was massing, soft thunders that seemed to gather, joined like the first trickling waters of a storm that were eager to form a rushing stream. At first he only quickened his pace instinctively, and ducked obliquely toward the thickest copse available. He scanned the back-trail, anxious now, and alert. "If that sugar-coated Megn1 has escaped already -- I'm doomed, too full to fly!"
The folds of the land that stretched out westward soon presented a curious spectacle. A dark mass of motion crested each hilltop pushing its own thunders ahead of it. "Hmm, even a Megn1 -- revealed in the full wrath of her fury -- could not be raising that much dust!"
Why do the heroes of our stories always stand on some fair eminence, and gaze overlong into the swirling approach of some great disaster, waiting, waiting, until only the utmost exertion can save them from its pressing peril?
"Mother of All Dragons, preserve me! It's the teeny-bopper horde!"
Locust hungry, plague of the earth, their massed thousands were led by some brighter than average queen, for she carried a copy of the "Guide to Middle-earth," complete with fold-out maps. They had evidently plotted the way to Rivendell, cross-indexed with the "schedule of arrivals" that DA and Megn1 had so laboriously worked out for that ultimate hottie, Legolas!
"Can nothing stay them! Where are the Valar when you need 'em!" He turned, and fled, little legs pistoning mightily in his frantic efforts to stay ahead of that flood whose vast wings were now spread far to the north and south of the road.
So precipitous was his rout that soon he began closing with the gang. They had prudently fled towards the Ford ( and wouldn't you just know it, DA got there first, leaving the others to hot-foot it as best they could in the face of everyone's foe!) and on its brink they turned at bay, various forms of cheap cutlery flashing in the air above their heads. It was obvious to the dragon that they could mount no effective resistance and for a brief moment he was tempted to draw that charge straight into them. A ghastly death, no doubt, but certainly not an unwarranted one considering their actions in the Old Orc Rehabilitation wars. But something truly wicked turned and squirmed in his tiny green chest: "Too easy on 'em, and not personal enough! I want to mete out my own vengeance, slow and broiling hot!" Determined now, for baser cause than I might wish, the Lil' Smoker turned north across the face of the insectile hordes. DA, inadvertently assisted him, crying loudly as she cringed behind her minions "Hey, Girls, listen up. This is Karo6. ... You know what? He set me up on a date with Legolas! Yep, no lie! He said that he could do the same for all of you...if you catch him! Good luck!"
"Oooo," he thought, "very clever DA, you'd make a grand dragon, I must give you that! I'll be back shortly to settle up!" With the grim steely purpose of an anti-hero charged with ulterior motives, the valiant Karo6 dashed further northward, heading with the lemming crowd behind him, towards the far off Bay of Forochel. "Lottery format, ladies! First 500 to catch me have the ONLY secured dates -- this way ladies!!!"
Thunder in the north then, wild, frenzied -- herd of hell. Massive rode that wave of heart-throb-ensnared femininity, and the terror of their coming blanched the hills white as winter, and several streams I know of actually changed the patterns of their flows just to avoid that mightier flood.
3. What Happened in the Northlands -- How The "Wilde Hunt" Was Ended, And The Insect Queens Unmasked
Having little or nothing better to do with my time this morning -- waiting "patiently," or otherwise, for Fanuidhol to get her homework done; Fimbrethil to tell me what "distributionism" means; and Stormrider to figure out where her keys got to -- we shall venture one more journey into that "Parlous Realme" where warriors do bold deeds, and dragons are yet found.
Sometimes he ran, sometimes he flew -- short partridge-like hops that kept him always a little before that avaricious horde. They howled behind, if they saw the distance closing, and whined with expectation should his tail tangle in a bush, or the rhythm of his stride be broken as toe was stubbed on stone. But, usually they were silent, intent upon the chase. Coursing hounds, their eyes gleamed through dusk and dawn, to nightfall once again. They followed him by scent, he decided, during those hours when the lemon-yellow stars were bright and the constellations turned upon their wheeling-ways, pivoting through those awful nights. By day, the slot left by his tail allowed them to catch up, and then the "view haloo" would sound, and their paces all would quicken.
A little bit west of north he bent their way, and led them through the broken lands where Trolls once hunted Men. They passed among the short-tree forest-scrub, and ran over the stoney copes where the rugged shaws were ranged. Fifty miles east of the green-clad ruins -- where Kings' Norbury still moulders -- he hit a snagging root hidden in the shades, and there his first capture was effected.
"My name is Fanny Wee-doll, and I hereby capture you!" she squealed as her books and maps went tumbling, and her deadly grip nearly severed a goodly length of his tail. "Yield to ME the first prize-ticket, you miserable, dark green lizard!" She further regaled him with a choice selection of Public School Girl curses, though I'll not record them here -- you'll learn them soon enough once you go away to school yourselves, and don't ask your mothers either!
The horde sat down upon the grasses, which, as you might expect, would take a long time to recover, while the Dragon wrote on a borrowed slip of paper:
"I hereby certify and affirm, that the glaze-eyed bopper known (by her own discovery) as Fanny Wee-doll (aka Charter of the Hive Path, Co-Queen of the Bee-bop Crowd, and Keeper of the Schedules) has duly captured the Small Green Dragon (known in earlier tales as The Karo6). Under the conditions of this writ she bears the right to engage in one (1) date with the Hunk-of-Middle-earth, Legolas of the Greenwood. This offer shall be considered null and void upon any attempted transference of its rights and privileges to a second party."
Fanny danced the green grasses into a dirty ruin, as the Hive buzzed its chants of victory (and voiced reluctant congratulations). Meanwhile the battered dragon managed, slithering snakewise on his belly, to edge his way toward freedom. The Hive was vastly self-absorbed, passing the precious ticket round for all of them to view -- but not to read, for most of them were mindless "teenies" yet, and unlike you, they remained untutored TV viewers, and could not follow the import of the alphabetic script. Fimble-bee, another of the prominent hive-instigators (in fact one of the Co-Queens) possessing some basic understanding of the written word herself, turned to ask the dragon for a bit of clarification. " 'Ere, whot's dis mean, dis 'transference' thingy? I 'reFriend'* 'void' good enuff, is dis some kind o' trick?"
But the dragon had vanished, leaving only a smashed-line of grass to record his further northward passage. The Hive turned Herd again, or maybe Pack, for they howled, and buzzed, and bellowed all at once and started their snarling ways along his track. Fanny Wee-doll, having recovered her "ticket to bliss" was no longer in the fore of the hunt, at times she even stumbled to a halt (in the protective lee of a large boulder or a tree) and read again that glorious warrant. The Hive-Herd-Pack would then swell about her, jostling by, but always in the wake of Fimble-bee -- strong-legged girl whose long mane flew out horizontally from the very back of her head, so swift was she in pursuit.
Much later that afternoon, a goodish while past tea time, but before the friendly gloaming had descended, the harried dragon failed to properly negotiate a hurdle-tall line of bushes. Catching his tail in a forked branch, he came to a sudden stop, and fell directly before the sprinting Fimble-bee! "Gottchers! An' it's a fair cop, Greenie!" He had to admit it squarely, and with a well chewed stub of pencil (the best Fimble-bee could manage) and one of those package-stiffening cards that you can find wrapped up with your next set of Twinkies, he was soon busy scribbling out the second warrant of unlimited pleasure. Of course, she detained him long, standing occasionally on his tail, or leaning her weight meaningfully upon his sloping shoulder until he had thoroughly (twice at least) explained the meaning of "transference." Having wrapped her mind firmly around the concept, she began her own dance-of-transportive-joy, and the Hive took up that thread of communication and soon all were "wiggle-wagging" the same message, broadcasting Fimble-bee's excitement to the furthest margins of their mass. While he was surrounded, the dragon employed his time purposefully, scribbling out warrant after warrant, ticket upon ticket until he had amassed quite a pile of them.
The two bee-brains of the outfit were no longer available to urge wise counsels upon their many followers -- having been already "dragon smoked" into a near stupor of happiness, they sat contemplatively, reading and re-reading their certificates. "Well, Fanny," said Fimble-bee, in her best admonitory tone, "jest a cause you get furst dibbs on Legolas, don't you go messin' 'im up too much. I want 'im still able to pucker-up proper when I gets my turn!" There was some grumbling and growling then -- it passes for "polite" conversation between two such neer-do-wells -- and with their Queens thus distracted, the Hive lost some of its cohesion, and its directing will.
So it was with little effort that the sly dragon was able to persuade the mindless-Hive that they could not further recapture him, unless first they let him go, and with a five minute head-start. While they buzzed complainingly for a bit, at last they sent him on his way, having extracted from him the promise that his way, henceforth, would always be arrow-straight. With a noise like the thrum of a bowstring released, he shot forward, getting a "flying start," and went north by northwest directly towards the Bay of Forochel.
*"What's 'reFriend' in Hive speech?" I hear you ask, and watch as you start to pad your way across the room to where your weary mother sits, darning the holes in your little socks -- don't disturb her! I'll tell you straight away. In Hive-speech, Hive-buzz as they call it, all potential naughty words are automatically censored. So, the word "remember," for some reason -- still better not ask Mum -- always turns out "reFriend." Even as a narrator, I cannot fathom this one, so go ask your site administrator, the one with all the keys, she's bound to know the answer!
Last Edit: Feb 13, 2008 21:06:50 GMT -6 by Andorinha
The stars were wonderful, no larger than their wonted norms (sometimes they do seem bigger!) but very sharply defined and so clearly visible that even the faint smudge of Coma Berenices was pricked out with individually countable suns. And then, a bit past midnight, a short-fast meteor of broken sparks, flashed by, yellow-green-lurid, and thickly drawn on the night as if with a crayola stub. An appreciative buzz was raised a short way behind him, and so he knew they still ran at his heels, and he snortled and snuckled most horribly.
The land about the bay, fell in long, cold slopes to the frozen surface where February's weak sun had made little progress in melting the vast sheets, although they were in many places thin and frangible. He dashed madly out onto that ice, fanning his wings constantly to minimize the weight of his tread, farther and farther from the shore. At this moment the Moon sprang up over a long headland, and spilled His yellow illuminations, like liquid-gold and opal-powder across the frozen waters. Far back, milling on the shore, now daunted they stood, fearing instinctively to trust that glowing stuff -- ethereal Moonlight only it seemed to the compound lenses of their Hive-sight. But when the far, small dragon shouted, and began to scatter 498 "certificates of date" upon the glitter of that ice, they howled, and buzzed madly, and held back no longer, and they rushed wildly forward to their frozen dooms! At first the ice held up beneath their pounding feet, until all of them had passed over the shallows where the friendly waves of summer break; and soon they were trampling above the dark abysses, where deep were piled the waters of the winter.
Then cracks appeared, ugly-black as a midnight without stars, and thunder-shock reports boomed! Then lightning sparks of ice and reflected moonlight rushed up, as the sheets parted, and the Hive sank with many shouts, removing from the confines of Middle-earth, all that vast and predatory herd!**
A solitary bumble-bee, the dragon buzzed his own aerial way back to the shore. And he tried in mingled Moonlight and Starlight, and the spangling reflections cast up from the new-released waves, to think of some properly mournful dirge to sing over the deep-drowned Hive.
"There, that's one great peril to Middle-earth promptly removed, pest control indeed!" was all, I fear, he could produce -- he was after all, a dragon. "Now, mission one accomplished, I can turn my attentions to that 'fellowship-follow-up' gang, and on the way I'll see what's happened to the thoroughly lemonade-soused Megn1! Snortle! Snuckle!"
Of course, in the gloating glee of his victory, he momentarily forgot there were also two Queens of Bee-power yet loose in Middle-earth...
** For those of you who have not yet been hardened by the calcifying rigours of life beyond the Third Grade of Primary School, be not too dismayed. The Hive-harpies, the Teeny-bopper menace -- this being a G rated tale after all -- were simply translated out of Middle-earth (how they originally got in I am not sure, but I'll bet that dratted DA left a gate open somewhere back on the Old TR boards!). So, they simply woke up in the middle of the night, very wet and angry, each in her own bed, back in boring Kansas, or Nebraska, or Missouri, or Slough in jolly England. After a quick toweling and a change of PJs, they went right back to bed and I'm happy to say that not a one of them had the sense to comprehend that they'd had more than just a dream.
Last Edit: Feb 13, 2008 20:55:32 GMT -6 by Andorinha
Now it is a matter of moderate interest -- to those whose minds are even minutely inclined towards matters geographical -- that the bleak fields of the Forochel Waste are largely tundras. "Just what is a tundra?" I hear several voices ask, and since many mothers no longer distend their 'stores of factual knowledge' with such arcane details, I'll have to tell you all myself. Tundras are zones of arctic temperament, knotted over with tough vegetations, running chiefly to cushion plants, sedges, wire-grass, and mosses. During their short springs and summers, the tundra is simply bursting with brightly coloured phloxes, campions, white and yellow drabas, blue harebells, red moss gentians, and a dozen different saxifrages, including those with stripes. The air gets very busy too with a sudden profusion of dragonflies, lace wings, butterflies and moths; and not to be missed are the great flocks of honking geese, ducks, blackbirds, and flycatchers. Hares, the short eared types (cinnamon under the sunny skies and white in the winter) bounce high; as creeping voles race along the netted track-ways, down at the very roots of the short, green grass. Occasionally deer or elk will wander through this soft turf, moving from one willow-thicket to another, stripping the branches as they go.
Despite this pleasant tundral aspect, I further have to tell you, that even the best-behaved of the tundras has a very harsh face to present in the last days of February -- and whatever else it may be, the tundra, then, is no fit place for a dragon.
A scant 100 miles straight south, the low hills of the Emyn Uial rise up from the short grass plains; and for some reason of ancient magic -- once spilled there before the globe was made, and the Fairy Lands were hidden -- the climate becomes suddenly warmer, even in the winter. For this zone of "comfort" our dragon was headed, trudging over frosted plants that snapped and crackled and crunched beneath his tired feet. He dreamed now, even as he moved, dreamed of chubby hobbit farmers, of wooly sheep, and distressed damsels out of season. I am sorry to say it, but I rather fear at this trying time that even the cutest imp might have "met with mischief" at our dragon's hands.
Days passed, the air he breathed gradually lost its frigid bite, and the snows were thinner as he ventured into the fabled hills where the Men of the West once raised their towers. "Ten thousand teeny-boppers wasted, lost in the deep briny, ten thousand at least, and not one left for me!" This refrain was becoming a somewhat monotonous dirge, repeated to fall-in with the rhythm of his tread, and I fancy he no longer heard it himself, such a constant companion to his travels had it become. There was still no green to tease his eyes as he went up a long, grey slope; then down; and up another -- pushing his way among the hills. But there was yet life here. His head shot up, nostrils lifted to catch the air, and match the faintest of scents to a vague memory. "Woodsmoke! Someone has a fire, and maybe a stew, and a blanket or two!" There was another tickle to that general scent, one he should have paid more attention to, but he was both tired and hungry, so we should not judge him harshly for the debacle that was shortly to ensue.
He sneaked. His thin-flat belly presented no resistance now, and crocodile-like he swam the snows, making his careful way from dark copse to grey thicket, to the sheltering lee of a boulder. At last, he crouched above a bowl-like formation, rock-bound on three sides, protected from the blast of any wind save the gentle south. Below him was a ragged ranger, and a fire whose small, yellow tongues cast merry dancing lights across the mounded snows. Directly beneath our dragon, though he could not yet see it, was a cave -- not too large, nor deep, just a snug place for a wintering bear, or an itinerant ranger. Just now the ranger was intently turning a wooden * sthingy * through the thick gravies of a venison stew, while idling in thought, composing a quiet winter-verse or two. Ruin fell from above! Talons, Fangs, and a Thrashing Tail!
Full on the back of the ranger the dragon thudded, and crushed his prey to the ground. He was just about to go for the "quick despatch" bite on the neck when he received a nasty surprise -- a sudden nip along his rump as a nasty blade sliced through his hide. "YEOWTCH!!! That hurts!" He bounced up from the ranger to confront a greasy-haired, hermit-looking Elf. He'd apparently been holed up in the cave, waiting for his supper. I'm afraid it was Glorfindle, and as the dragon rubbed his backside, the ranger rose from her ruin, threw back a soggy cowl, and revealed the slightly pink-encrusted countenance of a woeful Megn1. "Oh, blast and drat!" the dragon belched. Then hunger got the better of him and he asked, "If you are just going to wear that stew, mind if I have what's left in the tumbled pot?" His manners were not very good, I fear, for he sat right down and punched his muzzle into the pot before he had properly received permission.
"The condemned was allowed a hearty meal," the dragon's voice boomed from the pot, just to discourage any attempt to take it from him, and it seemed to work, Glorfindle and Megn just stood, jaws a bit slacker than usual, and waited for him to finish.
___________ *sthingy* here means s p o o n, the censor is still at work!
Next: A Tale of Tales
Last Edit: Feb 20, 2008 18:14:20 GMT -6 by Andorinha
At last, the dragon's highly absorbent tongue had polished the pot to a state of cleanliness it had not seen since it was new, and he pulled his long snout from the thing. "Good stew, Megn, was that the piquant-sour taste of hobbit mixed-up with the venison? One of the Stoors, I presume, that murky 'river-bottom' flavour is hard to disguise."
"It was strictly venison, but the next pot-full will have a decided 'snakish' taste, I can promise you." the ranger growled and began those preparatory motions that always precede the unsheathing of some lethal length of steel.
"By the by, Megn, just how did you extricate yourself from the deadly lemonade pools? Bet there's a tale worth hearing!" and here, the dragon was truly interested, it is always best to know just how one's most draconic measures have been defeated by one's foe. But Megn was having none of it, and she appeared to be on the very verge of "action-mode," so the dragon decided to change the topic.* He turned to the woeful countenance of the Elf Lord. "Well, Glorfindle, been a long time since my 'lizardy' eye met your's, you been off your feed lately? You look kind of sickly, if an Elf can ever be ill. What's up?"
Elves, like most older people, never tire of discussing THE two grand topics: weather, and the current state of their healths. Glorfindle, being especially poetic in his nature, had actually composed a running lay in hexameter verses that detailed the "conditions of his condition" over the last Three Ages. His lengthy account of his pancreatic disturbances was considered a model for the form, widely copied by lesser hands, though on this particular day it was a different ailment that occupied the chief place in the Elf's repertory of complaints.
"I have lost myself, dragon. I do not know who I am. Concerning the wheres, and the whens, I am satisfactorily informed -- but 'who,' that's what I can't fathom!"
"Ah," the dragon breathed out, a look of modest concern lighting up his features, "tell us all about it." And he settled himself down against the rocky wall where Megn's fire had warmed the stone up nicely. Megn herself, interested in all things Elvish, up-ended the pot and plopped herself upon it. She twisted her robes into a more comfortable heap, and then looked expectantly up at the long-faced elf. "Tell us all!"
It is only fair to add at this juncture that Megn was still working her way up through the ranks of ranger-hood, and one of the merit badges she most needed now was that of Psychiatric Counsellor. This opportunity to probe the deeper recesses of an Elven mind in all its distresses, was too good to be missed. The dragon could wait.
On the Perils of Re-incarnation*
I sat beneath a tree and dreamed a dream of me. A warrior Elf of old I had done deeds so bold that my body and soul paid up the final toll.
I know that I did die, memory cannot lie, but here I sit and sigh, knowing that I'm alive! Yes! Here I am again, not quite who I have been.
Riddle me this dear friend truly, can one's life end, and then start up again? Once dead, am I still ME? Who am I? Don't you see?
"Classic case of identity crisis, Glor -- not to worry, my junior ranger handbook of psychiatry says..." and here Megn began to flip through the many pages of her oft read, dog-earred manual.
At this moment, the dragon was already some fifty worm-paces from the cave and fire, moving as silently as a burglarous Baggins, moving ever further into the deeping glooms. "That session will last us several days, I bet. Time enough for me to scamper back to the road, and see what the 'Fellowship Footpads' are up to, and mebbe get a bite or two in Bree..."
______________ * I assure you, that even I have no idea how she effected her escape, but perhaps we can encourage her, in some moment of garrulous leisure, to enlighten us? I imagine we'll need several good pints of ale to loosen her tongue, so let's start saving our pennies now, as Megn scarcely ever buys her own brew these days.
** Suggested by Fredegar's post 77 in "The History of the Hobbit."
Fredegar: "For example, he used the name Glorfindel in both The Silmarillion and LOTR. Except the Glorfindel in Sil was killed in the First Age. So he came up with the notion of Elvish reincarnation, of being 're-embodied' and sailing back from Valinor."
Last Edit: Feb 23, 2008 15:27:01 GMT -6 by Andorinha
His name was Andal, and he was one of the last of the Deepdelver clan, an "Outsider" by any reckoning, though still he was not considered one of the "Wild" hobbits, the Itinerants -- those that moved almost unnoticed through the westlands between Bree and the Shire; digging out a hole in some sunny bank, to spend a few days or weeks, before packing up to travel on. No, Andal was quite respectably settled, though he lived some miles northeast of the nearest settlement folk, the hobbits of the hamlet they called Archet. He was a queer fellow, in the estimation of those who had any dealings with him, seldom venturing into town, rarely speaking -- somewhat forboding, perhaps even menacing: his muscles were large, knotted like those of a smith. And he was very tall, "four feet and a half of towering hobbit," as the Archet folk remarked. He was in fact, all of four foot seven, though I can't recall that he ever stood still long enough to be measured with reliable accuracy. He farmed the hard-scrabble lands that lay along the forest margin, and he farmed them all alone, and that was queer enough -- alone, unless we count his crook-tailed cat (Cat), and his wise cow Arabella.
Arabella was a special sort of beast, raw-boned, always seemingly starved, though she had hay and grass and even grain aplenty. She must have been, to some distant degree, related to the Kine of the Valar, for her long horns were silver, and her hide was a gold-fawn colour from which (only on her forequarters) there grew a great enclosing mane of deep, long-fibered hair. The shearing of this "wool," afforded Andal most of his slight "disposable" income, for the gold-wire stuff fetched a pretty price in Archet, and even more (if he cared to travel that far himself) down in metropolitan Bree. But, best of all, Arabella could sing. Her intonations impressed the other hobbits (a very few visited him at whiles) as a curiously melodious drone, a flowing moo that followed complicated patterns of rhythmic cadence, soothing, dreamy, restful. To Andal, whose long proximity had afforded him a greater acquaintance with her expressions, these intonations actually carried semantic information, meaning. She sang mostly of rain on grass, detailing the spring-bud days when the soft yellow shoots first rose -- sweet, and tender in the mouth. She sang worry-songs as well, reflecting the altering moods of the weather, the surge of storms, and the bang of the thunder. And sometimes, when the chores were finished, Andal would strum-out a few soft chords on an ancient lyre, coaxing her further into songs, songs that chased sorrows from the mind, and left all of them on the verge of a fine slumber. Usually, Cat dropped off first, purring a harmonic counter of his own.
But matters had taken a dark turn lately, Arabella was off her feed, and her moos, were plaintive things, nervous, and disturbing. Something northwards troubled her. She often watched that way, looking hard across the stream that fell (eventually) into the Midge Water marshes. Andal grew grim himself, and though his own leechcraft with animals was great, nothing seemed to remedy her sorrows. Now that Gandalf no longer passed by with any regularity, his reliable assistance could not be begged or purchased. Andal feared he would have to take some time off, and go looking for one of the quirky Hedge Wizards, from whom he could buy some expensive, but less certain cure.
Cat was always grumpy now, more apt to scratch each petting hand, than purr; while Andal himself became a surly hobbit, growling sharp words only -- if he spoke at all. The days were running long, with longer nights to follow, and each dragging hour was burned away but slowly by the candle. The daily round was still the same, and the aching muscles afterward should have quelled his mind, inviting blesséd sleep -- but night after night, he lay awake on a rumpled bed, and listened to the quiet, shivering noises, the sudden pops, and the dreary creaks of his old house. Occasionally, he would slide into a drowsing zone, dream a while, then wake fully with a start as the nightmarish quality of his slumbers intensified. He often dreamed of dragons.
Far to the north, uncomfortably curled in a great bed of leaves, the dragon slept fitfully. His belly had grown slack again, and about him the rumour of his hunger echoed in the bare, cold lands. When his tummy rumbled, it woke him up unmercifully to the harsh realities of his predicament: he was alone, and also very hungry. A growing sense of primary dissatisfaction began to cloud his waking thought. He was, could he but admit it, a very hungry dragon in several odd, distressing ways. He even missed, to a mild degree, the whining poetry of Glorfindle, and the disapproving stares of Megn; and a passing charge at Stormrider or that dratted Dale Ann would be vastly better entertainment than all this dull emptiness. He sighed, and tried to stir up the embers of a vague hope that once again, fate might offer him the opportunity of mounting some grand depredation.
Even when he did sleep (and it was only shallow stuff) he dreamed mostly of satiation, of dripping fangs tearing into great hunks of bloody meat. Symbolic stuff no doubt, but also a matter of sheer practicality -- the little he'd had since Megn's stew was scarcely sufficient to keep the fires of life aflicker, thin rabbits, barely alive themselves this far into winter. Lately, he dreamed of hobbits.
Last Edit: Mar 18, 2008 13:26:41 GMT -6 by Andorinha