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Story: Mudcat of the Rings

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Peter T. 11 Jan 03 - 07:32 PM
katlaughing 11 Jan 03 - 11:06 PM
stevetheORC 12 Jan 03 - 03:28 AM
Rustic Rebel 12 Jan 03 - 04:39 AM
Peter T. 12 Jan 03 - 10:26 AM
SINSULL 12 Jan 03 - 11:44 AM
Peter T. 12 Jan 03 - 11:57 AM
Amos 12 Jan 03 - 11:59 AM
Little Hawk 12 Jan 03 - 12:13 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 12 Jan 03 - 12:21 PM
CarolC 12 Jan 03 - 12:40 PM
katlaughing 12 Jan 03 - 12:46 PM
Jack the Sailor 12 Jan 03 - 02:14 PM
Peter T. 12 Jan 03 - 02:15 PM
Mudlark 12 Jan 03 - 03:17 PM
John MacKenzie 12 Jan 03 - 04:08 PM
Rustic Rebel 12 Jan 03 - 04:59 PM
Little Hawk 12 Jan 03 - 06:08 PM
kendall 12 Jan 03 - 07:26 PM
Lonesome EJ 12 Jan 03 - 08:07 PM
Tinker 12 Jan 03 - 09:27 PM
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Subject: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Peter T.
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 07:32 PM

Fret first thought there was something wrong when Kendalf the Magnificent was late for the feast, even though he was on record as saying that he was sick of the sight of Mudcats, Mudkittens, and Mudhens gorging themselves and punching each other into the wee hours at the Mudcat Tavern.   He thought nothing of it, until very early in the morning, his hovel was shaken by an infernal knocking.


"Who is it?" he groaned.


"It is I, Kendalf, and I have brought you the morning paper with all the latest news from Elfland."


"It is three in the morning, Kendalf."


"It is later than you think, Fret. Forces of evil are gathering around and headless A&R men are riding hither and yon through Middle Max."


Fret got up. It was going to be a long epic.


"Here is the story, Fret, splashed all over the front pages. No, after the Elf Girl on Page 3 -- nice points, though. Anyway, you will recall from your history that when Mick the Magnificent along with Angus the Wondermutt destroyed the sanctuary of the Dread Demon of Sigma Chi, they stumbled into the vast empty echoing caverns of Sigma Chi, and found to their horror that the G chord was missing."


"Kendalf, it is now four in the morning."


"Peace, Fret, I have lived many centuries, and find it hard to speak in short sentences. As you know, He who controls the right fingering of the G chord controls the universe, and gets the best tables at Sardi's. When Mick the Magnificent learned of this, he naturally went to the Great Wenches, Karalsee and Alison (the Fair One , who had given up colour for black-and-white out of her love for Mick the Magnificent). They urged him to go to the Grand Poobah Minstrel of all, the imposing Elfking Himself, Rick O'the Fielding, who knew everything about the right fingering of the G chord. There he learned the terrible truth, that not only was the right fingering wrong, but the great evil forces were also seeking the G chord, and that Maurawn the Record Producer needed only the chord, which he wished to copyright, since He had already copyrighted all other chords, and only needed the G chord to finally eliminate music from Middlemax completely."


Fret stirred. "Great wenches, you say?"


"Pay attention, Fret, you will be tested on this, probably by headless A&R men very soon, who even now are riding towards us. "


"Can they not be stopped or paid off?"


"Only one thing can stop the complete and utter destruction of MiddleMax, Fret. The G chord must be taken to the heart of Maurawn's kingdom, and put out of the reach of his copyright lawyers."


"Even if," said Fret, pulling himself up to his stately 4 foot height, "even if someone was stupid enough to want to do this, where would they find the chord?"


"Oh, yes," said Kendalf, "I forgot. I have it here." And out of one of his massive pockets he pulled a unicorn. "Whoops, wrong hat," he said.


"That trick never works," said Fret.


"This time for sure," replied Kendalf, and he pulled out the G chord, dangling from a golden necklace.


Fret reached out to touch it.


"Be warned, Fret. The chord is lovely at first, but as time goes by, it begins to affect its owner. Dangling around the bearer's neck, the bearer first begins to wear open necked shirts, then adds more and more gold necklaces, and ends by listening to Barry Manilow. After that, he is in Maurawn's clutches."


"Fascinating," said Fret, "Well, this has been fun, but I have to get ready for work, many many mushrooms to dance around this morning."


"No, no, Fret," said Kendalf, "you don't understand. You must take this G chord, gather many forces about you from throughout MiddleMax, including Rick O'the Fielding, Mick the Magnificent, and other bizarre figures, and confront Maurawn and his Underlings, of course. You must set out immediately, before the Headless A&R men arrive. "


Fret said: "Kendalf, you should have your head examined."


"I did, my boy, I did, and in it I saw the ruin of Middlemax, the loss of the G chord, and the final choking off of music threads by BS, all these have I seen, and all this may come to pass, Fret, unless you will undertake this enterprise. "


Fret frowned, and said: "Expenses?"


Kendalf, in his wrath, dangerous to behold, said: "Oh, alright, expenses."


Fret said: "Wenches?"


And so the saving of MiddleMax began.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: katlaughing
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 11:06 PM

Bravo! More, more!!!


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: stevetheORC
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 03:28 AM

Wenches in G cords?


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Rustic Rebel
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 04:39 AM

The Fawn, came skipping through the forest
With his fife in the early morn of May.
Rustic followed with a pennywhistle,
and a G chord they did play.

They danced around the ferns
and they danced around the willow
they danced among the creatures of the night.
They fluted their flutes
and they piped their pipes
and the G-chord took it's flight.

It flew through the trees, it flew through the meadows
it flew to a spot that was known
It filtered the air with a sound of resonance
and then it tumbled a drunken' gnome.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Peter T.
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 10:26 AM

Meanwhile, about an owl's throw away, in the shire Tavern, the empty jugs of mead were being put out for recycling, and the clanking, thudding sound woke the cluster of drunken dwarfs and brownies entangled on the dirt floor. One of them, wearing a skewed little red cap with a bell on it, staggered to his feet and went out of the room on personal business. The publican continued about his business, and from time to time he would sing a little song, that went something like this:




O Sing the song of how he fell like Mulciber,
He who began with fretted dulcimer,
Maurawn, denizen of rainshredded deep,
Master of music, shroud over steep
Mulder, mountain of mystery,
Tell, fluid Druid, tell the history,
When once we give you the proper pence,
Who he was, what his desire, and from whence
he came.....


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: SINSULL
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 11:44 AM

Coffee at the ready...from whence did he come? came? whatever. where was he from?


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Peter T.
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 11:57 AM

[this is designed to be a common story, I ain't carrying this chord by myself, said Fret, you tell me....]


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Amos
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 11:59 AM

("From" is redundant -- whence means "from where". Whence came he? From hither? Nay, from yon!)


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 12:13 PM

"This here" is redundant too, as is "that there", but that don't stop rednecks from sayin' it...

Dream on, Peter. No one else is going to carry this one on for you, unless you introduce something really exciting into the story, like William Shatner.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 12:21 PM

Even more meanwhile...

On the Eastern shore of the Enchanted Pond (which Fret is probably going to have to cross during the course of his quest) in the land of Guinnessglass lived the evil wizard Sorry-Arse. At one time, Sorry-Arse was in charge of , among other things, promoting the live performance of traditional music. However, over the years he had fallen under the spell of the evil money-grubbing Maurawn. In the land of Guinessglass, it was now against the law for anyone to perform music in public without first paying tribute to Sorry-Arse. Legions of Sorry-Arse's Orc-like henchmen patrolled the pubs at night looking for musicians who were performing without having paid the required duties. Those who were caught were fined exorbitantly or even thrown in prison.

As time went by, all non-professional performance of music in the land of Guinessglass came to a screeching halt. "I'll be buggered if I'm going to get my arse thrown in the gaol just for playing a bleedin' guitar!", was a frequently heard comment. Guinessglass became a musical wasteland where the only way one could enjoy live music was to pay six-month's wages for a pair of tickets to see Eric Clapton.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: CarolC
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 12:40 PM

Karalsee fingered her Wenches Union card nervously.   Something wasn't right with The Force lately, but she was having difficulty sorting out the different strains of dischord she was detecting. What was it she saw on the back of Mick the Magnificent's cape? She only saw it out of the corner of her eye, and then only a fragment of it...

Hmmm... never mind, she thought. There's powerful bad stuff happening in Middle Max. If those A&R men succeed in copyrighting all of the guitar chords, they'll be coming after the accordion chords next. If that happened, she knew she would have to leave Middle Max and make the journey across the Great Water to the Kingdom of Nyew Joysee...


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: katlaughing
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 12:46 PM

And so it was written by the great scribe, PeterTeeTree, (though it is known now that other parts were either dictated by him to his minions or actually written by others, most appreciably that one known as Sirrawg-the Bayken.) Nevertheless, the burden was heavy, though the feather pen was light, and PeterTT, as he was known more familiarly, grew weary, laid down his pen (the light was growing dim with close of day, anyway) and closed his eyes for a few moments.

In his mind ran threads of stories, various voluptuous nymphs, and scads of permutatious possibilities for our intrepid Kendalf. (The nymphs were for himself!) And, so the story goes...


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 02:14 PM

In the fetid swamps of the Village of Nash, where many Ballads are written, few of which have substance and all of which are malodorous , sulpherous, methane laden flatulance, Garthon felt an old familiar stirring. It had been so long since he had felt the power, still, it felt like yesterday when indeed it had been Tuesday last. The Village of Nash being the most fickle of places. He had been a wearers-of-the-pretty-hat. Garthon had never really needed more than three chords. In his prime "G" had been his favourite. "G"-"G"-"G", with an infrequent "C" or "D". Never a seventh, never a ninth, for to flirt with "The Dark Side" of Blues and Jazz would have disgusted his followers. An experiment with the Demon called Rocknroll left him no Gaines. Youth had now passed him by. Time had faded his pretty hat, his adoring worshippers, those from the land of Middle Age, were now throwing their panties at Al-on, Black-on and the Chixons, younger wearers-of-the-pretty-hats.

Now, with all other chords in the hands of Maurawn's minions, he knew how to regain his glory. With the precious chord in his possession, he could G-Force the Maurawn to put him back in the sacred Rotation, the land of gold and platinum.

"I hear you calling my precious. I'll hold you soon."


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Peter T.
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 02:15 PM

In the vast Canuckian waste to the North, the old dragon Shatnir coiled and uncoiled itself in its deep winter sleep, decided that coiled was better, and coiled again into dreaming.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Mudlark
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 03:17 PM

"Well pluck my psalter!" cried Mudlarkian..."I seems to have crossed the border into Guinnessglass, by the look of things." She rode her hobbled snark thru the mouldering lanes until she spied a likely looking tavern. Throwing her reins to a dwarf holding aloft a lantern she dismounted and strode to the bar. "A glass of your finest firewater, good sir, and one for yerself, and all," she cried, after ascertaining that the pub was empty. Without a word, he set a small glass of murky liquid before her, smelling strongly of sulpher.

"Here's mud in yer eye!" she chortled, tossing off the vile stuff. "Not a drinking man, I see." Silence, then a high thrumming sound could be heard. Barely noticable at first, it grew until her empty glass began to vibrate on the bar.

Before she could climb down from what she now perceived to be an inappropriately high bar stool, the thrumming culminated in a swarm of dischordant G chords bursting thru the door, bent on destruction. "Great Ludey!" she exclaimed, clutching the ornate pendant she wore around her neck, and holding it up to ward off the attack. "Where are the G chord police when you need them?"

Suddenly a figger of monstrous proportions appeared. "Whence come ye?" cried Mudlarkian, "and who might ye be?"


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 04:08 PM

Boil B
Glad Naf
Gale D Liar
No Raus
Legless
Ham Sarnie
I'll be back
Giok


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Rustic Rebel
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 04:59 PM

The fluid Druid, decidedly thought
he would trip along by Guinessglass bay, up by the Canukian waste.
The dragon lay in wait
upon a slab of slate
watching the Druid in haste.

The Druid did sense, he was being watched by Shatnir
and so he drew near,
"Oh dragon of old, named Shatnir I'm told, of this I will proclaim.
I've no fear of you, your a swarmy reptile, who hides himself in shame,
If I had my way, I'd send you to stay
out in the Spockian galaxy.

But, since I have no time to stay here and chat
I'll just say goodbye to you, old dragon Shat,
and be on my merry way...


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 06:08 PM

Far above the frozen expanses of the vast Canuckian North soared Little Hawk, his feathers smooth and glimmering, his keen eyes alert for prey. The weather had cleared, and Little Hawk was hungry for a mouse, a sparrow, or some such provender. Perhaps even a juicy lepus rex was not too much to hope for!

There had been an oddness in the air of late, a peculiar tension that Little Hawk was well aware of. It spoke quietly and continuously from behind his more obvious hunger, but its origin was unclear. It would bear investigating, but where to begin?

Below him stretched the vastness of the Hamiltonian Escarpment, a snowy and fractured mass of soaring peaks and nameless valleys, marked by the faint smoke plumes of several brooding, but largely quiescent volcanoes. Their fires were burning, but deeply below the surface, biding their time, like an old dragon nursing a grievance. How long would they sleep? No one knew. But few men traversed their slopes, which were too inhospitable even for most Rangers, with the possible exceptions of Rick O'the Fielding or Mick the Magnificent.

Ahead lay the mightiest peak of them all, Carad Nuath Torpor, the sleeping giant, the tallest free-standing structure in MiddleMax, so they said. Halfway up its blasted slopes lay the entrance to Cinex Morbucks, the enchanted cave in which lay the greatest dragon of ancient MiddleMax, the mighty Shatnir. Shatnir had been a terrible dragon in his youth, carrying off uncountable virgins to a fate that could only be guessed at, and terrorizing, yet fascinating even the strongest human and Elven warriors, who envied his command over the fairest maidens of their lands, to say nothing of his yearly tribute royalties.

Shatnir had at last grown both fabulously wealthy, and exceedingly fat and lazy, as tends to happen to old dragons who survive the perils of their demanding trade. He had then retired into the hidden vastnesses of Cinex Morbucks, only occasionally emerging for dragon conventions in far-off lands. Of late he had stopped doing even that and was rumoured to be dead, but no one dared venture up the slopes of Carad Nuath to see if he was, let alone poke their noses into Cinex Morbucks.

The volcanic mountain (torpor in the old tongue) stood deserted, magnificent, stark and lifeless, even as it must have in the dim ages of antiquity, when dragons were young and conventions not yet even dreamt of.

But today there was something stirring in Cinex Morbucks. A small plume of green smoke was issuing from one of its shafts. Little Hawk noted it immediately and wheeled in, descending several thousand feet in an easy spiral. What could it mean?

And then he heard the sounds. Hideous sounds, faint as yet, but unmistakable. A dull, mindless, excruciatingly heavy bass beat was reverberating hollowly from somewhere deep in the caverns under Carad Nuath. Underneath the relentless, mindless, idiotic beat could be heard the guttural mouthings of hateful, almost unintelligible words in a foul Orcish tongue, the chantings of dark and terrible spells combined with mind-numbingly repetitious phrases of calculated stupidity crafted to drive the listener into uncontrollable violence and madness. It was the grotesque and inhuman sound of the most feared and unlawful music of all MiddleMax...Orc-Rap.

Someone was trying to wake Shatnir! And the plume of green smoke above Carad Nuath indicated that possibly they had succeeded. This was not good.

"Things will definitely liven up in the neighborhood if 'Old William' ventures forth," mused Little Hawk, "and this Orc-Rap will probably upset him just enough to do the trick. My, my! I must report this news at once to Kendalf...if I can find him, and I will do so, just as soon as I have a meal."

Suddenly Little Hawk spotted a plump mouse emerging from its hole. "Ah hah!" he thought, "Hello-o-o-o, breakfast!"

Alex the mouse was not even dimly aware that his bit part in the greatest saga of MiddleMax was about to end mere seconds after it had begun. Poor Alex! It's not easy getting stuck with being one tiny expendable mouse in a heroic cast of thousands, but it's better than never having your name in lights at all. Specially if you're a mouse.

"Gulp! Ummmm...that was tasty! Well, now I had best find Kendalf without delay. Let's see...eenie, meenie, miney, mo...I wonder which way should I go? Eenie, meenie, miney, mire...my instinct tells me, try the Shire!"

Little Hawk flew rapidly southwest, until he could hear the Orc-Rap no more, but the green smoke still stood like a harbinger of doom over the greying mass of Carad Nuath Torpor.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: kendall
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 07:26 PM

WILD!


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 08:07 PM

Fret and Kendalf made camp beside the River Rappisfolk that evening. Kendalf induced fire into a pile of dry pine boughs by playing a staccato series of minor chords on his plucked psaltry. "And what provision have we, Kendalf? It has been nearly three hours since my last meal and I'm becoming a bit faint." Kendalf frowned, and then, by playing a sucession of scales on a tiny ukelele he had produced from his parfletch, a bowl of popcorn appeared. Fret, delighted, scooped a handful and crammed it into his eager gob, then spat it out, saying "not nearly enough butter!"

Kendalf was stopped in the action of raising the ukelele in both hands to smash it on Fret's noggin by a discordant rhythmic sawing that came from a nearby bush. Kendalf strode over to the musical flora and pulled back a branch to reveal a short tattooed dwarf wearing a grimy aloha shirt and an Oakland Raiders ballcap and dragging a bow across a battered stubby cello. "Heyyy..." the creature growled, "mind yer own busin...Why, are you not Kendalf the Musical?"

Kendalf threw his arms open and shouted "Numnutz, Son of Thunderbutt!" at which point dwarf and wizard clasped together in a clumsy and unattractive display of familiar camaraderie, which Fret ignored as he rifled the wizard's pack, at last finding a half-empty jar of parmesan cheese which he sprinkled on the popcorn, tasted, and proclaimed "much better."


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Tinker
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 09:27 PM

While across the Great Waters in the Kingdom of Nyew Joysee, Tincca suddenly stopped dancing. Warnings were whistling in the air, and the flames of the fire began to flicker into fierce forms. Drawing the colorful silks close to her body, she sighed and began to pack the wagon. Securing the caphony of instruments, pots, pans and other accumulations of six generations, she stopped and opened a small trunk filled with gaily colored silks and satins to me sure the treasure remained securely sheathed. The fire flamed higher yet, despite the lack of fuel. Dousing the remaining flame with a chant to the four winds,she then flicked the reins and moved off into the night.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Amos
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 11:00 PM

The evening drafts licked around the fading glow of sunsight high in the giant forests which guard the flanks of Mountain Toone, where the Harmony Stream is born. Beneath the towering acreage of a giant tree trunk, a tall, limber, red-cheeked fellow stood, dancing a wee jig and fiddling.

Hey!! Tom Balboadill! Ho! Tom Balboadill!!
Over the ridges by the sweet streams' rill!
Breathing in the starlight, ne'er to be filled!
Hey, ho! For Old Tom Balboadi-l-llll!"


He collapsed, laughing at his own merriment, resting against the huge bole of the sleeping treeform. He busied himself putting up his fiddle and humming another refrain ofhis favorite tune, the one about himself which he swore had been given him by the World in a moment of weakness. The great tree stood unmoved, but, he knew, not unknowing, guarding-- with a circle of its brothers-- a small grassy clearing where the ground was level, and well protected. In the center of the clearing a spirit lithe and blithe, formed as a maiden is formed but glowing with lights that few maidens can claim, worked among a small circle of stones. As she wove a maze of roots and sticks, she hummed sounds that might have come from the stars themselves. She wore the colors of the forest, a flowing green dress and a cape of autumn's rippling hews, and she moved with the grace of wind among the leaves. At her gestures a small fire rose among the heavy stones, and grew dancing in the light airs of the growing evening. She stepped back and stood erect, her cape swinging around her, and gazed long and thoughtfully into the flames which danced for her there. She frowned.

"Tom, the flames are boding strange times ahead. We mought well be along toward our home -- I sense we will be needed there"

"Strawberry, light of eyes, how can you be so sober? We are among the endless forests, where every rook and every dewdrop knows the joy of Tom Balboadill and Strawberry, his own true beloved. Where could harm ever come from?"

"Get real, good friend Tom!! It isn't always about you. You will be needed by others, and they aren't about to come trekking out here to find you!"

The tall man sighed. "Dearest beauty, for one born a daughter of the river, how is it you acquired such an art of fire in your tongue? But you are my True Light, and where you say to go, Tom wills to go. At dawn then, you flower charm?"

She smiled softly, tossed her flowing red hair back over her shoulders and nodded, at peace again.

"At dawn, then!"

He hugged her warmly, and they set to readying the evening meal by the fire. And soon they were asleep upon the warming earth under the sheltering branches, wholly at one in a depth of affection and peace that would not be seen again in that land for many, many days.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Mudlark
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 11:47 PM

Little did they know that their idyllic sleep was overlooked...by one who meant them not good. As smoke wafts from the fire, this evil icon wafted over them, smiling down with smirking delight. "See how peacefully the sleeeeep!" he mused to himself. Such chutza should be rewarded.

And in an instant, the ground began to tremble, great clefts...treble clefs...opened up all around the sleeping lovers, and they woke to the ground smoking at their very feet.

"My beauty!" Tom cried. "If art of fire you have acquired, let it now be fired! Lest we both be mired, in this pelting doom!"


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 12:22 AM

"What the hell?!" Snorted Numnutz, awakening on his rugged pallet. Around the three travelers treble clefs were gaping and belching fire. Hole notes were opening, and Fret had to scramble like a bodhran-beater on meth to avoid being swallowed up by one. "I don't understand it!" Shouted Kendalf. "The forecast called for chances of light rain mixed with possible sprinklings of quarternotes...nothing like this!" The three gathered their belongings and sprinted under a tree, which was immediately split by a tumbling distaff. "Over there!" yelled the Wizard, gesturing toward a dark shadow against a sheer cliff face. "A cave!"

Soon they were seated on the floor of the dank orifice, dripping, breathless, deafened by the cacophony from without. The wizard gazed at the blank cave wall, then suddenly stood erect. Passing his hand before the wall, some dim scratchings which had seemed nothing more than imperfections in the natural rock suddenly began to glow as if with green fire. "See you this?" Intoned Kendalf with sonorous and dramatic inversion. They could then make out the inscription, written as it were in Old High Elvish...

Ia felbereth Milthoniel
silivren flanne purina
dadeu ron ron
dadeu ron ron


Kendalf mouthed the words and shook his head. "I cannot ken it," he said in the lowland scots vernacular he was wont to adopt in moments of stress. "Fret, look you in my pack and find my English/Elvish Phrase book." The miniscule piker did this, soon producing a small bound volume. Kendalf leafed through this, then staggered back, the book falling to the rude cave floor. "What is it?" Mouthed his shorter companions in astounding unison. Kendalf covered his eyes with his hands and said "oh lads! We have stumbled into the lair of the Gurlgroops!"

"What..what are they?" Whispered Numnutz.

"They go by many names. The horrible Shangrulas. The bestial Soopreems. The unholy Marvulets. But worst of all..."

A sudden violent flash of lightning filled the cave throwing their shadows against the wall, and disclosing a tall ghastly figure, hands extended toward them like hungry talons, hair twisted and stacked, its red gash of a mouth working overtime. The three travelers stood aghast as Kendalf completed his sentence fragment...

"Yes worst of all my little friends. THE RONNIE SPECTER!"


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: kendall
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 12:43 AM

This Ronnie Specter is the last of the Calthumpians, from the misty
Hollow tribe of Horribles. They sprang from the very living rock, and were thought to be invincible. They easily defeated the Rack a boo bobs in mortal combat, then they killed off each other to determine who was most fit to lead.
I'm afraid I have led you to your doom. Even the sacred Scarab beetle amulet can not save us now. I suggest we pass around that bottle of Scotch, that DUGGAN'S DEW O' KIRKINTILLOCH, So that when the Ronnie Specter appears, we won't be able to look into its eyes. No one has ever been able to avoid looking at it, but, if the Dew does its job, we wont really care so much. I wouldn't blame you if you pick a new guide, and, I recommend Ivar, the berserker.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: mg
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 01:03 AM

But the beautiful Strawberry had two disgruntled elder sisters...perhaps because they had no mates of their own...this was before PMS had been invented but you get the picture. They were Boysenberry and Mulberry. But she also had a younger sister, Chasteberry, who was fair of face and deeply intuitive.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 01:23 AM

Driven on by a mounting sense of urgency, Little Hawk had done what no hawk of his kind would normally do, and flown on even into the darkening night, guided by his senses, and as well by a fickle moon which glanced fitfully from behind swiftly moving black and ragged clouds that were rushing eastward like squadrons of dark cavalry on some fell mission. There was a storm wind keening up there somewhere. He could feel it. But the air was agreeable and still at the lower altitudes he chose. The fragrance of meadow and stream, copse and glen rose softly from below, and the sporadic moonlight glistened on a river he had seen before when on his travels.

The Elven folk called it the Linnesborne, but Men referred to it as Harmony Stream. Even now Little Hawk was passing over its northernmost course, a curving loop of cyrstal clear water flanked by thick forest of oak, ash, and walnut trees and small open glades here and there which offered fine resting paces beside the river as it hurried ever eastward, and finally southward to the remote lands that bordered the rim of the Great Southern Sea.

It was in one of those glades that he spied what appeared to be a very small campfire or perhaps a lantern. He circled closer. It was no common fire, he thought, for the flames flickered with strange overtones of green & violet hue, mixed with brighter reds and oranges. "Elven fire!" thought Little Hawk.

He sharpened his gaze, troubled by the darkness and eased in slowly, making barely a sound on the wind, when Lo! There came a whistle as of another hawk, and it said "Come, friend!" Little Hawk knew that whistle well. He spiralled down at once into the firelight, where stood 2 tall and slender figures, clad in what could have been Ranger's gear, had it not been made of finer, cloth, decorated in the exquisite patterns known only to woodland Elves.

"Red Wolf!" spoke Little Hawk, "sending" in the ancient tongue, which is not speech, but pure thought itself.

A Human would have heard nothing but the cry of a hawk, but the tall Elf to whom it was addressed received the sending clearly, and sent back one of his own, not using his voice at all, "Welcome, Little Hawk, sky brother. Why do you fly so in darkness? What speeds you? Stop and rest with us. This is my comrade, Dawntreader. Welcome, welcome!"

Little Hawk was more than delighted. He had not seen Red Wolf in nigh on a year, and a friend met in the wilderness is as welcome a sight as is the sunrise after too long a night.

"Dawntreader, I am pleased to meet you," sent Little Hawk. "Hast thou meat?" he inquired of both of them. "For water, I have the river. I bring news of strange doings in the North, involving...Orcs...and a Dragon!"

"Ah," said Dawntreader, speaking aloud. "We thought something was afoot. There have been strange tidings on the wind, but we could not decipher them. Yes, I have some meat here. Eat and then tell us what you have seen."

"Would you not like some tea?" inquired Red Wolf, smiling. He knew hawks never drink hot drinks by choice.

"You are too kind," said Little Hawk, sardonically, speaking in pure hawk, and he began eating the offered meat delicately, a bit at a time. One always felt like preserving a dignified demeanour when dining with Elves. He ignored the tea, as Red Wolf had known he would.

It took only minutes for Little Hawk to relate to the Elves all he had seen, which after all was not much in itself, but it portended much. They sat for some time in silence, as Red Wolf smoked some peculiar herb in a long, carven pipe wrought with dwarf runes. The smoke was peculiarly aromatic, not offensive in any way, but Little Hawk avoided it. He had never held with smoking, and thought it a very odd habit indeed. Dawntreader appeared not inclined to partake of the herb either, but sat studying the fire, deep in thought.

At length he looked directly at Red Wolf. "What plan then for the morrow? What think you?"

"I'm not sure," replied Red Wolf. He was a rangy Elf with long dark hair parted in the middle, and a lean face, quite hawklike, in profile. Little Hawk had always considered him to be a sort of two-legged, wingless hawk brother, at least in spirit.

Dawntreader, as befitted his name, had golden hair as bright as the morning sun, combed straight back, and descending in a mass down his back. He wore the lightest, finest Elven mithril armour on his upper body, and carried a longsword, dagger, Elven longbow, and a full quiver of arrows. Red Wolf was similarly armed, but his weapons rested beside him at the moment, except for the Ranger's dagger stuck in his belt.

"Would that we had brought a shieldmaiden with us," remarked Red Wolf. "If Singing Rune were here, she could divine in an instant what course to take. I need more time than that, generally speaking."

"Does the smoke help you think," asked Dawntreader, smiling.

"Probably not," shrugged Red Wolf, smiling back, "but it does relax me, which can't be all b----" He stopped in mid-sentence, looking up suddenly, as a wolf looks up when he hears a branch crack underfoot in the forest.

Dawntreader felt it too. A sudden chill that was not a chill on the wind, but in the very spirit. Red Wolf's eyes flashed a warning across the fire, "Do not speak! Send!" Dawntreader sent his own acknowledgement back, like an arrow of focused thought and light, rose catlike and turned to face the western forest, his eyes sweeping the darkness. Something was out there. Somewhere. In an instant Red Wolf had armed himself. They locked eyes, nodded, and made for the line of trees at the west end of the glade, arrows already nocked in their bows, swords ready at their sides. An indeterminate noise came on the wind. It was a man, not an Elf, judging by the sound, a man some way off, and he was shouting in alarm. Now there was a woman's voice too.

"Stay by the fire!" came an urgent sending directed from Red Wolf to Little Hawk. "Nothing will come near it. Unite your spirit with the fire, hold the magic field, and await us here. We will not be long."

"Done." sent back the hawk silently. He had learned never to doubt an Elf, particularly Red Wolf.

The forest closed around them.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 01:32 AM

Very well written, LH! We are certainly seesawing between the sublime and the ridiculous here, in true Mudcat traditional fashion.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Mudlark
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 02:03 AM

As Mudlarkian raced thru the forest, the Snark's sides heaving between her thighs, a familiar refrain reached her ears...

Ia felbereth Milthoniel
silivren flanne purina
dadeu ron ron
dadeu ron ron

Although she couldn't decifer the first lines, the last were clear..

The do run run run
The do run run!

The message was clear, run she must and run for her life. Try as she might, a cry of desperation escaped her, and echoed on the wind, the cry of a man, in the distance...was this destruction or salvation? She rode on thru the forest, dodging low branches and thick webs...then, before her, a light appeared...a clearing...bathed in a rich green glow.

Slowing her trusty snark to a pace she halted at the clearing. "What is this?" she asked herslf. "Can it be? The lair of the perfect G chord?" She dismounted and crept forward, fearful of frightening them away...

In a ring, surrounding a leaping fire, full 3-fingered G chords lept gleefully in the glow. Mudlarkian, ashamed of her 2 fingered G chord, or more properly, thumb and finger G chord, cowered out of sight, sure she would be barred and hammered on if discovered...


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: GUEST,joe
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 02:53 AM

proper pun-ishment, i might add


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Tinker
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 07:42 AM

As the wagon swayed through the starless night, Ticca wondered on the conflagration she knew to be forming. Delicate strands of light began to streak the sky and she wondered on the insistence of exerting that most delicate of digits into the confines of a strongly formed g-chord...some shapes were not for man to know...

The potential for injury and digital in-flame-ation always lurked. Men..... if only they could find joy in the vast variations that can create clear tone on the g.

Then as the first bird song fillled the air her destination became clear. She would head north and consult with Jeree. She had been studying with The One Who Knows for several years now. It was known that she had mastered variations in finding the chord, perhaps with the help of the Guardian of the Grove they might find the Godess of the Wind Messengers. Perhaps together they could find away....


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Peter T.
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 09:24 AM

Fret, Numnutz, and Kendalf came into Unravelldel, already chastened by their complex adventures, and they had only just travelled beyond their own area code.

"Here," said Kendalf,"Here I must leave you for awhile."

"What?", said Fret," You can't go now."

"I've got a job to do too, Fret, where I'm going, you can't follow, what I've got to do, you can't be any part of."

"But--"said Fret, bursting into tears, "You said you would never leave."

"Look, Fret," said Kendalf, "I am pretty well all wise, but it doesn't take someone all wise to see that the problems of three little people -- well, two little people and a wizard -- don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. We'll always have the shire, we didn't have it, we'd lost it, until you came to --"

"What is with him?" said Numnutz.

"I don't know," said Fret, shaking his head, "Every once in awhile he just goes off like this, as if he is tuning in to some frequency not available to the rest of us."

Kendalf pulled most of himself together. "Anyway, Fret, you will be in good hands here, for it is time for you to meet Rick O' the Fielding, Don Minstrello of all Minstrels, who will carry you forward into the next chapter."

"But, but Kendalf," cried Fret, "Have you no words of wisdom for me to take with me through these deadly days?"

"Oh, certainly," replied Kendalf, "Don't wear your sweater inside, or you won't feel the good of it when you go out."

"Anything else?"

"Dress like a winner, be a winner."

"And?"

"I've tried rich, and I've tried poor, and rich is better. And remember, you don't have to marry money, but go where money is."

"Thank you Kendalf, I will keep those precepts in my heart."

And Kendalf disappeared in a cloud of what appeared to be self-raising flour.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 09:41 AM

Coming up in segment three: "Amos, lord of the 5 discs", the story of the Thong of Mighty Mick or how a G-string struck a G-chord. Also, thrill to the eldritch squeak of the Liz, shudder at the glimpse, almost off-camera, of Skifflar the Silent, cursed to utter no more the cacophony that made men mad, to slither quietly on the fringe of Mudcattish society, understanding little but unable to leave well alone.....
Jonathan Woss, Film two fousand and fwee, London.

RtS
(or WtS)


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Amos
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 10:24 AM

Wodda Fokover hummed as he followed the little dwarf-trail through the bosky dells, which had always sounded to him like a brand of asparagus. His broad axe hung happily at his belt, and he had not a care in the world, although he would have preferred to be deep in the bowels of a dark wet mountain interior somewhere, breathing sulfur. Still, you had to take the good with the bad, he thought, and the daylight was all right if you liked that sort of thing. His little dwarf feet skipped and tapdanced along the little dwarf trail, raising little dwarf puffs of dwarf dust.

Suddenly, as though by spaycial effects, he felt a chill and a dark coud gathering over the path, cutting off the sun and inducing negative minor chord formations. He sniffed the wind, and a brisk aroma of terror swept his dwarfen brain. Alert, he sidled off the trail, into the bosky dell among the towering trees, and none too soon, for as he slipped behind a large tree, a thundering of hooves and a cloud of rancid odor and chaotic badly matched notes swept the dell.

Wodda ducked down among the tree roots and watched. Presently, a black horse, armored in Heavy Metal, pounding out the lowest and loudest notes the dwarf had ever heard, pounded into view. Its rider, decked in black except for a red stripe in the middle of his hair, stared with deathful eyes to every quarter as he galloped. WOdda froze every muscle as the monstrous apparition thundered past him, the clanking of armor and chain sounding like curses in the pleasant grove.

"By all the powers of the Mountain," thought Wodda. "The Riders of Dissonance, messengers of the Great Sour One! Surely evil is upon the land! I must inform Kendalf -- he's wrestled with the Sour One in the past. He'll know what to do. Besides, I just love his accent!"


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: kendall
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 10:41 AM

What accent?


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: katlaughing
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 10:45 AM

ayuh!


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 03:47 PM

As Red Wolf and Dawntreader ghosted through the forest toward the sound of distant voices, they heard the woman again...a terrified shriek that sents chills down the spine and raised the hairs on the backs of their necks. It was immediately followed by a tremendous chorus of bestial laughter, cheers, and catcalls.

"Orcs!" spat Red Wolf. "They are many."

"Look there!" said Dawntreader, as they reached the fringe of the tree line.

Immediately before them lay a large clearing that ended at a precipitous, gouged out cliff line, rather like the edge of an ancient quarry that had been scooped out of the higher ground by Men or Dwarves in some bygone era. Standing at bay, with his back to the cliff stood a tall, short-haired youngish man, wearing thick, dark-rimmed glasses, a white shirt, a plaid tie, a "Young Republicans" button, torn polyester slacks, and tight, shiny black dress shoes, badly scuffed with mud and bracken. He looked like...an accountant...a terrified accountant. Clinging to his feet was a hysterical young woman clad in the tattered remains of a white bridal gown.

Before them gibbered, danced, and hooted a delighted mob of Orcs, mocking them and moving in menacingly, brandishing their weapons. Like all Orcs they came in an astonishing variety of shapes and sizes, from the laughably small to the overly large, and their weaponry was similarly unpredictable: outsized swords, awkwardly curved daggers with unnecessary points sticking off at weird angles, hammers, maces, spears, and clubs...and oddball combinations of these various killing implements, crafted more to inspire fear than to allow efficiency in combat.

The man in the shirt and tie was clearly frightened and desperate, but not about to give up without a fight. He raised a large stick in shaking hands and shouted, "Don't come any closer...or I'll be forced to get violent!"

The Orcs roared with laughter, some of them actually dropping their weapons and rolling on the ground in glee. Others slapped their thighs, and jumped up and down, mimicking the unfortunate man, chanting, "I'll be forced to get violent! I'll be forced to get violent!"

There was a very fat troll among them, clad in black armour, named Festor the Terrible, who was in command of this rabble, and he merely chuckled darkly. He was seldom given to outright laughter, being too grim for that. "Enough sport!" he croaked. "Manglor, dash out the brains of this pathetic human, and we shall then divert ourselves with the woman. She should be good for breeding man-orcs. Mauron will be pleased!"

"But...but...I'm still a virgin!!!" pleaded the young woman, stretching out her hands imploringly. "See this ring? It's only been on my hand for a few hours. Brad, and I are newlyweds. You can't! You just can't be so cruel and heartless as to mean what I think you mean...can you?"

Another roar of laughter burst forth from the Orcs, who were almost beside themselves with amusement at this declaration. Brad clutched his stick in whitening fingers and muttered, "Oh, you filthy demons! You...you dirty rats!"

"A VIRGIN!" growled Festor, in oily tones. "Mauron will be MORE than pleased! Virgins have many useful purposes, and they are exceedingly hard to find in Defcon Warguile. Almost unheard of these days, in fact! Manglor! Expunge the man NOW!"

Manglor was a towering Orc who stood seven feet tall. He bore a knotted club three feet long, with iron spikes protruding from its end. He chortled comtemptuously, and lurched forward, waving the club in circles over his horned head. Brad braced himself, waiting without hope, but prepared to go down fighting, as a hush of anticipation fell over the gathering of trolls.

Someone with very good hearing might have noticed a tight little twang way off in the forest, and a momentary sound of something passing swiftly in the air. A long, slender arrow appeared magically, thrusting straight through Manglor's neck and protruding halfway out the other side. He gave a gurgling, gasping sound, turned halfway around in astonishment, dropped the club, and fell headlong. Everyone stood frozen for a moment.

"WHAT IDIOT FIRED THAT ARROW!!!" bellowed Festor. No one answered. The Orcs looked around in confusion, one at the other. A little Orc named Febig raised his hand hesitantly.

"Sir, I..." he began.

"YOU fired that arrow???" thundered Festor.

"NO! No, I didn't, Sir, but I think...it...it's an Elf arrow."

"An ELF arrow? An ELF ARROW YOU SAY! What in the blazing pits of Mauron is an Elf arrow doing amongst an assembly of good, loyal, decent, death-abiding Orcs? Who is responsible? WHO FIRED THAT STINKING ARROW!!!"

"I did." came a voice from behind them. A clear, steady, and contemptuous voice. The voice of Red Wolf.

The Orcs wheeled about as one and goggled in astonishment as Red Wolf and Dawntreader stepped out of the bushes, further arrows at the ready.

"And if you don't like it....." said Red Wolf, "Sue me."

As he said it, Dawntreader calmly released an arrow of his own, and it landed right between the eyes of Festor the Terrible, before he could even think of anything terrible and memorable to say.

"E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E-L-L-L-L-L-V-V-V-V-V-E-S!!!!" shrieked Festor's first officer, Brutolf, quite unnecessarily, as he went down with Red Wolf's second arrow buried in his black heart. Utter confusion reigned as the Orcs milled about, one after another falling to arrows which seemed to find their targets as unerringly as an Elven "sending" finds the one mind it is directed to. Then they charged in a ragged mass for Red Wolf and Dawntreader, howling and frothing in rage.

Ten more Orcs went down, clutching at arrows before the first one reached within sword-length of the two Elves. He found himself decapitated by Dawntreader's sword, much to his surprise, and was able to get a ground level view of the action for a few seconds, which was quite interesting, before losing consciousness. Rather than standing their ground, the Elves actually leaped forward as one, cutting their way through the milling Orcs with their longswords moving like quicksilver and leaving a charnel house of the slain and dismembered behind them. They fought back to back, sending, minds integrated perfectly, and no one who came near them got away unscathed. The fight swirled back and forth across the clearing, whose ground was now black with Orc blood, severed limbs, and discarded Orc blades.

Brad goggled at the fray, seeing for the first time a glimmer of hope...nay, not just hope, but the possibility of righteous victory. "Go Notre Dame!!!" he shrieked and charged forward, dealing Febig a mighty blow with his stick, which broke in two and stunned the little Orc. Brad snatched up Febig's cudgel and bashed another Orc over the back of the head. "Touchdown!" He yelled, ecstatically.

"Oh, Brad!" gasped his blushing bride. "Oh...Elves!!!"

By this time Dawntreader and Red Wolf had fought their way to the very base of the cliff and the ground was carpeted with their fallen foes. The much reduced forces of the Orcs were loath to close with them at all.

The Elves had not discarded their bows, which were strung securely across their backs, and they now resumed firing what arrows they had left. More Orcs went down in rapid succession. Dawntreader began gathering arrows off the nearer slain, as Red Wolf shot down every Orc who showed signs of rallying the rest. Finally the surviving Orcs broke and fled, shrieking and wailing in dismay.

"You two remain here," said Red Wolf crisply to Brad, who was panting, but triumphant. "We will hunt down these fellows to their lair, and be back shortly, do not fear."

"You bet, coach!" replied Brad. "Roger that!"

Red Wolf looked at him oddly, shrugged, and fired his last arrow, then took up his sword and ran headlong after the fleeing Orcs, Dawntreader beside him.

They pursued their foes down a sort of trail, dispatching the wounded along the way, and would up at a peculiar knoll, faced with a great, flat stone. An Orc was in front of the stone, frantically repeating magical phrases.

"Mauron, Mauron, mighty leader
You're the best, no one is greedier
You own all the fast food chains
You know best what baffles brains
You control the flow of oil
In your cauldrons people boil
You're the champ and you're the Chief
The architect of pain and grief
The blower-up of distant places
Sustainer of the master races
Builder of the war machines
And seller of Mauronic dreams
Oh, Mauron, Mauron, mighty whore
Please save us now
UNLATCH THIS DOOR!!!"

It wasn't working for some reason. The rock remained absolutely still and uncooperative. Red Wolf and Dawntreader set about killing the desperate Orcs, twenty or so of them, that remained. It was cruel work, but Elves know better than to show any mercy to Orcs, who would certainly not return the favour if they had the chance.

"Mauron, Mauran, Defcon Chief!" Shrieked the chanting Orc. "Give us aid, give us relief! Open now this blasted stone! Throw your wretched slave a bone!"

"Use this," yelled another Orc, who was dying from multiple wounds. He tossed a little card to the chanter. "It has an unlimited credit line! I stole it off Banjoman the enchanter, when we were in the pits of Lost Vagaries buying assassins for Mauron."

The chanter siezed the card in trembling hands, and inserted it into a little slot that had magically appeared in the stone. "What's the blasted pin number," he screamed frantically.

"Six-six-six!" gasped the dying Orc, and expired.

"Bingo!" yelled the chanter. The great rock dinged like huge slot machine, groaned, and opened, and he skipped into the dark chamber that lay behind it, as Red Wolf split the skull of the last living Orc that still stood outside.

The chanter poked his head out the door for a parting shot, "O-o-o-o, Mauron the Ommipotent is going to be So-o-o-o-o-o ticked at you two filthy Elves," he sneered. "You guys are dead meat! You guys are history! You suck! I wouldn't want to be in your shoes!"

"Eat my shorts!" he spat contemptuously at them. "Door shut!" The rock slammed shut and chopped off his head.

"Orcs," remarked Red Wolf to Dawntreader. "They always have to have the last word."

- LH


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 04:09 PM

"awkwardly curved daggers with unnecessary points sticking off at weird angles"...now, THAT'S what I'm talking about! Chock full of adjectives and every one a keeper! Rave on, Bard of the Northcountry!!


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 06:15 PM

Far to the North, deep inside Carad Nuath Torpor, Shatnir the mighty Dragon stirred fitfully on his sprawling bed of jewels and gold coins. He had been awakened repeatedly by an intolerable noise, a pounding bass beat that seemed to spring from the very bowels of the Earth. Shatnir groaned, grumbled, and changed position for the fiftieth time. He attempted to count naked virgins hopping over a mulberry bush. Nothing worked. He was unable to fall asleep again. A perfectly good 312 year nap had been utterly ruined, and he had a case of dragon-breath that would have withered a Morgul toadstool at twenty paces.

"Orc-Rap!" He muttered. "I HATE Orc-Rap!" He blew off clouds of sulfurous green smoke, growing more irritated by the minute. Finally he rose stiffly from his warm hoard, and shook his armoured body from head to tail in rage. "What idiot would dare to play Orc-Rap under the very foundations of Cinex Morbucks?" he snarled. "What suicidal fools dare wake the mighty Shatnir? Verily, they shall PAY the penultimate price for their foolishness And by Gosh, the Price Is Right, as they shall discover!!!"

Shatnir had been aroused. Let the World now tremble.

Deep in the grottos carved out by slave labour beneath Cinex Morbucks, an excited Orc scout reported to his section commander. "Shatnir rises! The Dragon comes forth!"

"Excellent," gloated the commander. "Mauron will be pleased. Continue playing most loudly," he instructed the Orc-Rappers, who were pounding huge drums and chanting maniacally. "We must ensure that he ventures forth into the open air and takes flight, thus once again terrorizing the world of Elves and Men, and setting whole cities ablaze in his anger. All MiddleMax shall burn, permitting massive new development contracts to we who shall rule over the shattered remains! It is thus that Mauron has decreed!"

The Orc-Rap grew even louder and more penetrating. It shook the walls of Cinex Morbucks.

"Hell and damnation!" snarled Shatnir. "Flaming hell and damnation!" He slithered toward the rear chambers of Cinex Morbucks, working his way down a narrowing shaft that led into the depths of Carad Nuath. The way grew narrower and more tortuous as he pressed on, ever deeper. Lurid flashes of volcanic fire cheered him, and urged him to further efforts.

"I shall root out this vile noise at its very source if I must tear up the roots of this whole damned mountain to do it," hissed Shatnir.

Meanwhile, another Orc scout had reported the troubling news that Shatnir, although definitely awake, had not come outside yet.

"Louder then, you scabby wretches!" yelled the commander. "Louder!"

Shatnir had reached what appeared to be a cul-de-sac, and he was furious. He began to hyperventilate (a bad sign in Dragons), accumulating a massive head of steam, then released it all in one mighty, roaring exhalation that atomized the stone wall before him in a white-hot explosion of fire and brimstone. It fell away, revealing a sprawling gallery in which 75 toiling Orcish musicians were giving the Orc-Rap performance of their lives, while ten thousand of their comrades cheered them on and danced demonically under flickering torchlight.

The Orc Commander blanched as he saw Shatnir debouch through the gaping hole his breath had just blasted. "Oh....Shit!" he said, dropping his swagger stick from nerveless fingers.

"DIE, ORC-RAPPING SCUM!!!" bellowed Shatnir and he vomited forth a torrent of flame which consumed both drums and musicians in a tremendous booming conflagration. The very walls began to melt. Gibbering Orcs fled one way and another as the furious Shatnir hurled fountains of flaming breath amongst them and charged forward, trampling and exterminating them with extreme prejudice.

Far off in the distance both Rangers and animals, and the people living on the fringes of the northern mountains gazed in fear and awe, as towering columns of smoke, now black as coal, boiled up from the summit of Carad Nuath Torpor, and distant thunder grumbled beneath it. The mountain was angry, and so, most certainly was "Old William" as the villagers colloquially called Shatnir in tales to frighten and entertain their children. Many ran to their homes in panic, taking shelter where they could.

By the time Shatnir had finished with the destruction of the gallery, not a living Orc could he find, so he contented himself with barbecuing the remains of those who had not gotten away, but he ate none of them. Instead, he left them lying around half-incinerated as a gesture of utter contempt, and returned to Cinex Morbucks, where he took a long draught of liquid fire from his favourite volcanic shaft.

"Idiots!" he muttered. "Idiots!"

It took most of the evening before he was feeling even slightly drowsy again, so he set about counting his ancient hoard instead, just to make sure it was all still there. Relative peace returned to Carad Nuath Torpor, as the fires of his rage receded.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: GUEST,Raedwulf
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 06:30 PM

I want to know who this "Red Wolf" bloke is. Pretty bloody good with bow & sword is not an unfair description of me, by a curious coincidence! I'm worried... :)


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: SINSULL
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 06:50 PM

"exterminating them with extreme prejudice"? WOW!


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 07:08 PM

Deep inside the mightiest fortress of Defcon Warguile reposed the Ompnipotent Mauron, self-styled ruler of all the Earth. Before him grovelled Orcish slaves, while uniformed Nazghouls with bemedalled chests awaited his orders.

"Has Shatnir arisen?" he demanded of a cowled seer who was crouched over a telentir, which is a sort of magical box which can show pictures of things happening in faraway places, and can even show made-up pictures of things that look amazingly real, but are not.

"I'm not sure. It's the commercial break," replied the seer nervously.

"What? Still?"

"Yes, Lord Mauron. "You may recall that you increased commercial share of telentir time to 52% of all available time...which results in 11 minutes of commercials for every 10 minutes of the show..."

"SHUT UP!" snapped Mauron. "I know what I did about that. I know exactly what I did, and exactly what I said, and nobody needs to explain it to me. Isn't there a way of overriding it somehow? Isn't there a red button we can push or a hot line or something?"

"I could tune to Cinex Normex Notreal!" said the seer. "They have news all the time!"

"Yes!" said Mauron. "Do it!"

The telentir was quickly adjusted, using a magic box that altered its frequency. The Cinex Normex Notreal logo appeared. There was a fast breaking report being given: "Shatnir Rising!!!"

"He has arisen, Lord Mauron! He is definitely awake!"

"Wonderful," grinned Mauron, rubbing his hands together merrily. "He'll spread nukular devastation over much of MiddleMax and utterly destabilize the realms of Elves, Men, and other useless species who have the gall to live according to their own ideas of right and wrong. Then we can go in, kick ass, and rescue everyone, and make 'em do it our way or else!"

"That's 'new-clee-ar', Lord," said the seer hesitantly.

"What?"

"New-clee-ar, not nukular...new-clee-ar devastation..."

"Are you trying to be smart?"

"No, Lord, not at all, I just think..."

"Are you paid to think? Is ANYONE around here paid to think? I don't think so. I'm not paid to think! If I wanted you to think I would tell you to think wouldn't I? Anyway, you heard me. I said exactly what you said...'nukular'...so just what are you playing at?"

"I'm sorry, Lord Mauron! I must have a hearing problem. Wait...more news is coming in..."

A voice spoke from the telentir... "In a stunning turnaround, Shatnir, who was expected to take flight over central MiddleMax today, instead apparently changed course for some unknown reason and has caused massive detonations under Carad Nuath Torpor, resulting in the deaths of at least 8500 Defcon Warguile fighting Orcs, and the complete ruination of an entire underground fortress. Our fighting Orcs are now regrouping and assessing the damage...and trying to determine who is to blame.

.....Meanwhile we move to another outbreak of violence which has occurred in the region of the western sources of Harmony Stream, a minor river to the west of the Elvish controlled regions of Clennor. A sharp engagement occurred between one of our Orcish brigades and a large force of Elves. the fighting lasted 5 hours, and has claimed the life of a well-known Orc commander, Festor, and several of his soldiers. The Orcs, however, were victorious, inflicting heavy casualties, and driving off the surviving Elves. 50 Elf bodies have been counted lying on the battlefield, where they were abandoned by their panic-stricken comrades...."

"Fifty!" gloated Mauron. "Did you hear that? Fifty dead Elves! Why at this rate we'll have them begging for peace in no time flat."

"But Lord Mauron," interjected a Nazghoul general...we have just suffered a tremendous strategic reverse at Carad Nuath. 8500 lost! What shall we do about that?"

"It doesn't matter," glowered Mauron. "Believe me, it doesn't matter. One way or another we will get Shatnir out of his cave, and when we do it it will be the end for both Elves and Men. It's just a minor setback. Everything is going according to plan."

"Play up that fifty dead Elves for all it's worth," he said, stalking out of the room. "I want pictures. Blame the rising of Shatnir on the Elves...or the Men...or both, I don't care...and press on, gentlemen, press on. I want war in MiddleMax and I shall have it! Remember, you are ALL out of a job if I don't."

- LH


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 07:18 PM

Raedwulf - That is an extraordinary coincidence about your name and Red Wolf. I think there's a possibility of some sort of soul link here. Look into it. Catch you later...

- LH


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: katlaughing
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 07:18 PM

With apologies to Elizabeth Scarborough

"Strum, again?" She asked the tall and fur-pawed Spawpir.

"No, no, Dulcicat, don't strum it, pluck it!" he answered in exasperation. "It says here in the Ritchieshire book of Tunes, that it must be plucked for it to work."

"Well, that's as may be, but I prefer strumming. Oh, drat, there goes another pique! Pluck another for me will you, Spawpir, dear?"

At that, the Spawpir, last known of his kind, reached out in slow indolence, wrapped a loving paw around the goose seated next to him and, begging its indulgence, gently plucked another tail feather out, handing it to the damsel seated across from him.

The trees were wafting in a slight breeze, while billowing clouds crossed the sky in a lazy day fashion. Such a calm and pleasant day, they'd met to go over Tunes, again. Dulcikat settled in once more to strum, again, her favourite Tune, The Triumph of the Crone's Dottir.

As the Tune spun from her instrument, a beauteous thing laid across her lap with strings of gold ringing true and brave, the lilt of the music set Spawpir to tapping his cladfeet. Between them they conjured a mindmeld, which brought up a holostory, playing out the story of the Tune before them in multi-dimension. It was a wondrous thing. A young and daring swordsdottir, leaving the Shire of her birth, looking for the Shatnir's lair. In the Tune she found him and triumphed over the venerable old dragon, but everyone knew it was just a dream, just a faery tale. It couldn't possibly have happened, no matter how many sleeps ago.

Suddenly, the image before them wavered, blinked on and off, became blurry and finally bit the dust. Eyes wide in surprise and fear, Spawpir and Dulcicat looked at one another, then scanned the meadow quickly. Dark ominous clouds were headed their way, the sky had an angry red and orange look to it, as if aflame and in what was left of their mindmeld came an unbidden guest, a beast of unspeakable features, laughing in a hot-molten oil, fingers-on-slateboard-worst nightmare way, saying to them, "Strum, again? Ha, ha. Oh, hoo, hoo! NEVER again, my pretties!" And, it reached out defying all known physics of holostory technology, using a bit of darkside magick (if you must know) and grabbed the lap harp, smashing it to smithereens.

"Oh, Spawpir," Dulcikat wailed. Her face was scrunched up in fear and dismay. Her heartstrings had been broken for her lap harp had come to her through Spawpir and meant everything to her. "It's true! The evil forces of dark and dirty really are destroying our music and I didn't even use a G chord!!"


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 07:56 PM

Mmmmmm...nice images, Kat.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: katlaughing
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 07:59 PM

ditto, LH!


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 11:30 PM

Returning to the body-strewn clearing, Dawntreader and Red Wolf found Brad and his bride eagerly awaiting them. Brad had gathered up all the arrows he could find, wanting to do something useful for his rescuers. "Let me introduce myself," he said briskly. "I am Brad Baxter. And this is my wife, Janet Baxter," he added proudly.

"I was Janet Mellencamp," she bubbled, "But now I'm Janet Baxter! We're from Schenectady! Have you been there?"

The Elf warriors exchanged puzzled glances. "No, I've not heard of that place," said Dawntreader. "Where is it?"

"Oh, well, it's..." Brad looked around in a confused way..."Well, I believe it's, um..."

"Don't be bashful and indefinite, Brad," interjected Janet. "Women like a man who knows exactly where he is at all times, you know that! I can tell you exactly where Schenectady is," she went on, "It's northwest of Albany. You just take the exit off I-90, and there you are. If you reach the turnoff to Amsterdam, you've gone too far."

"Never heard of it," said Redwolf, with a hint of amusement in the back of his dark eyes.

"You can't be serious!" gasped Janet.

"Let's go at this another way," said Red Wolf. "How did you come to be in this forest?"

"Ah!" said Brad, "Now we're getting somewhere! Well, we left the wedding reception earlier this evening and were heading down the road on our honeymoon in our brand new Edsel..."

"It's pink," interjected Janet. "I insisted on that."

"What is?" asked Dawntreader.

"The car." said Janet. "What else?"

"What is a 'car'?" inquired Dawntreader, looking very puzzled.

"Oh, my," said Brad. "I was afraid of this. Things have gone quite seriously awry here, ever since that big flash of light. You see, I could have sworn we were driving west on I-90, heading for Niagara Falls..."

"We reserved a suite at the Howard Johnson's," said Janet, beaming. My father is a middle manager for Howard Johnson's and we get a discount..."

"Janet, please!" said Brad, "this is not the time for that!"

Janet, looking quite offended, fell silent, but shot Brad a look that promised, "You will be sorry you hurt my feelings on our wedding night, Brad Baxter!"

Brad noted it, but plowed manfully on. "So, there was this big flash of light. It momentarily blinded me, and I think I skidded off the road, into some kind of swampy spot. That's where we left the car. It was literally sinking in up to the door handles the last time I saw it. We tried to find the highway, but got completely lost in the most awful bog. My shoes were half-ruined, and just look at poor Janet's dress!"

Janet glowered at Brad, but said nothing. He wasn't going to repair the damage quite that easily.

"So, I decided to see if we could find a light. Someone with a telephone. But there was nothing around but the forest and the river. Not a sign of human habitation for miles. I began to think I had lost my sanity. After all, we were in upstate New York, and there had to be someone within a reasonable distance. It wasn't like we were in the Catskills for heaven's sake! Then we heard voices. I thought it might be a highway crew, and rushed forward to speak to them. You can guess who it was...those hideous demon things that you saved us from. At first there were only a few, and they were almost as frightened of us as we were of them, but then the rest came. Had you not arrived, I can't contemplate what awful things would have happened. It doesn't bear thinking about. We owe your our lives, dear Elf friends! Our very lives!"

""Well, what do you think?"" sent Red Wolf silently to Dawntreader.

""They are either enchanted, dead stupid, or completely mad!"" replied Dawntreader sending back.

""Or all three..."" suggested Red Wolf, humorously.

Brad was watching intently. He had the strangest feeling that the Elves had just exchanged something between them, but had little idea what it was.

"What do we do now?" he asked.

"A good question," replied Dawntreader. "We have no idea where you are from, and your ways are strange. I think it best that you come back with us to our camp. The Orcs are all slain, but you will still be safer there. You must remember not to make any unnecessary noise... (he glanced at Janet, and she fluttered her eyelashes back at him, coloring a little) When dawn comes we can all think further on these things and maybe even find your...ummm...your 'car' that you lost. The ebzel thing."

They were all startled at that moment by a quavering little voice that whined, "All slain. No. No, not all slain. Only Febig remains. Poor, wretched Febig. Febig must beg for mercy from the bright shining Elves. Please spare poor little Febig!"

Janet shrieked. Brad gasped, and jumped back. Red Wolf and Dawntreader drew their swords in an instant and would have lopped off Febig's head, but he sprang backwards with amazing celerity, and then fell to his knees, pleading for his life.

"No! No! No! Febig could have slunk away! Febig could have played dead and waited till bright shining Elves go away! Febig could have tried cut throats, but no! Febig offers surrender! Febig has never seen such fighters as bright shining Elves. Febig was told that Elves are cowards and liars. Febig was kicked, laughed at, and scorned by big Orcs who make Febig eat dung and work hard with no food. Febig was denied permission to write home, and was overlooked for promotion even when supplying valuable information to Orc commanders. Febig has had enough!!! Febig wants to serve bright shining Elves, forever, forever, forever. Take Febig prisoner!!!"

Red Wolf and Dawntreader shared glances, and hesitated. This was unprecedented. Orcs never ask for mercy from Elves, or from any of their sworn enemies...only from other Orcs.

"I say we kill him," declared Red Wolf. This prompted another series of frantic pleas from Febig.

"Febig swears loyalty to bright shining Elves! Febig swears on his mother's grave! Febig swears on his own blood! Febig can be useful! Go where Orcs go, see what Orcs see, watch by night! You can chain Febig. Febig likes chains. Febig can even find chains if you need them, and then you can chain Febig."

"This has never happened before," said Dawntreader. "It may never happen again. It may be an unheard of opportunity. We have just slain 50 or more Orcs face to face. I am not afraid to be in the company of one."

"You make a good argument," replied Red Wolf. "It appeals to my sense of adventure, even though it offends my every instinct. It is agreed then. We take him prisoner. Febig! Find me those chains you spoke of."

Febig uttered a cry of delight, and rushed about the field, rooting around amonst the slaughtered Orcs. He paused in front of Festor the Terrible, who lay stark and silent with Dawntreader's arrow still impaled in his ugly brow, his hideous features more hideous than ever in death.

"Festor," said Febig, through gritted teeth. "You made fun of me. You tortured me whenever you could find the time. You humiliated me. You are a pig, Festor! You are worse than a pig! You are hated all over MiddleMax, and no one who knew you will ever mourn your passing. I spit on you, Festor! I will now help the bright, shining Elves and I will bring all your plans to ruination. Fah!!!" He spat on the corpse, cackled, and moved on quickly seeking chains. In less than a minute he had found them, complete with wrist manacles, and returned eagerly to Red Wolf, saying "Put on my chains, master!"

Red Wolf did so, shuddering slightly at the touch. He had never touched an Orc willingly before except to kill it.

And so, the Elves returned to camp with three, not two additions to their company. Little Hawk was more than surprised to see all three of them, but he never much questioned the ways of Elves. They usually knew very well what they were doing.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Rustic Rebel
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 02:45 AM

Iscur Treble prepares to help Fret.


Kendalf had informed the recluse Iscur Treble that Fret would be finding his way to her home, in the forest   
of Harmonicidiom, but Iscur Treble already knew this for the wisdom to foresee the future was within her.

Iscur Treble was from the older world and related to the dwarrows through marriage, Her dearly departed husband, clef treble died in the battle of deesusseventh near 100 years fore.
Iscur was from the land of Walkinbluethion and now dwelt in the forest, in the depths of the old man willow.

You would never know that this was a residence if not for her kitchen garden out beside the tree for the entrance was well hidden from sight with bramble and bushes.
It was a great stair well, that inclined to the deep recess of the old man willow, where she set up her home. The room was quite well fitted for her needs. She had shelves upon shelves of posions and potions, herbs and organs, bottles filled with sweet scents and vile.
The great, round oak table was set in the middle of the room, and from the middle of the table sprung a fountain of the purest of pure, finer than fine,bluer than blue water, that the old man willow roots purified and filtered. And from this water her potions were derived. And because the water was from the willow, it too had it's own magic to add.
And of coarse she had the comforts of home. Her kitchen and privvy, and two truckle beds, one for her, one for a guest for which she set out to ready, for her expected guest Fret.
Iscur had great things instore for Frets arrival. She had been busy preparing.
Upon the table she was laying out some of her finest pipe-weed , grow from the finest grower of the land, Tobold Hornblower. She had some Longbottom leaf, Old Toby and some Souther Star set and ready for her guest, for she knew he would be weary from the journey and would need a rest.
Iscur felt his presence near fore she could feel the resonance of the vibrating G-Chord.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: stevetheORC
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 07:51 AM

Right lot of Nasty Sods you lot is, What have us peace loving ORCS ever done to you!!!
Pick pick pick thats all yous do, got to get involved with Bloody elfs never read 'Lords n Ladies' then now MR Pratchett knows all about Bloody Elfs.
Our music is wunerful n melodic, and we dont go round in mobs we is not Millwall fans you know
WEISPEACELOVINGPACKITINBEFOREWESKILLYOUSALL


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Amos
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 09:17 AM

Tom Balboadill, accompanied by the sky, the wind, the light of the air, and his own true love, fair Strawberry, strode cheerily along the forest trail, humming and plucking a small stringed instrument held tightly to his chest.

His long legs seemed to find the trail on their own, and his sense of the deep places in the forest was not physical, as you and I would sense it, but much deeper, as though he were one with all that surrounded him. So he could concentrate without fear on the merry tune he was composing.

"What do you think of this couplet, dear one?" he called, and played a simply triad of chords in succession, cursing the fact that he had to do it in "A" for want of a G chord and missing his favorite bass runs.

"Oh if ya want to catch a Mauron, here's what you do,
Find yourself a fiddle and an Elf or two,
Get a dwarf and a hobbit to join your band
And knock out music that the bad can't stand!

Too harmonious....Drives them Maurons crayyyyyzee!....Good for the country!"


Strawberry laughed hesitatingly.

"It's charming, dear love, but such a sequence of chords I have never heard before in all of Middle Max!! How came they to you? What hight they?"

Tom laughed loud, pleased with the puzzlement he had caused.

"As in a dream, my love, as in a dream! They came to me in the first hours of dawn this morning, as though a gift from a higher power! Magic, it was!"

"And is there a name, then, for this gift of yours?"

"Oddly enough, a voice came to me, as well as a song, and gave me the name it must be called."

"Well, what was it??" Her blue eyes flashed a trace of impatience, and he knew he had carried his little joke far enough.

"The ditty is called The Tolkien Blues".

"Tolkien Blues?? I have never heard such a word. What could it mean?"

Tom shrugged happily. "Mine not to reason why, dear heart. I would not be wise to challenge the sources of higher power in the world, now would I?"

Strawberry nodded assent, and pondered the strange label as they strode on, the dappled sunlight warming them through the tall trees.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 09:28 AM

"Tolkien Blues"! *LOL* a pun worthy of the great Art Thieme himself!

RtS
(keepin' quiet, just lurkin')


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: CarolC
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 11:09 AM

(Orcs know words like "Expunge"?)

;-)


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: MMario
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 11:21 AM

that's how they pronounce "sponge" - as in "to wipe off"

'We will expunge you from MiddleMax!'


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Amos
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 11:36 AM

(LH....I am awestruck!! )

A


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: GUEST,Kim C no cookie
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 11:49 AM

Meanwhile, in the Misty Hills of Antioch, a few miles from the Village of Nash, a lone yodel was heard amid the gentle strains of a Spanish guitar.

It was Kimberlir, in exile, accompanied by Sir Paulus the Tall, both blissfully unaware of the encroaching chaos.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: HuwG
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 01:36 PM

Far away, the menial servant Huwgee came to with a start. Here were desperate deeds being performed, and the obligatory stooge underling was absent. High time to join the fray, he thought.

A belated thought occurred to him. What on MiddleMax was the quest all about in the first place ? Oh yes, that there G-chord. From his pack, he drew forth his trusty weapon, the mighty Yammerhammer, and placing his stubby fingers upon the well-worn frets in the alternate G-fingering which had been a skill passed down by generations, well all right, by his dad, nobody knew where the old fraud learned it in the first place, and passed his other hand rippling across the strings.

Gathering up his belongings to enter the fray, the worthy Huwgee placed one finger in his ear and began to sing, as the worthy folk of the village prepared to flee, or to throw in desperation anything close at hand ....


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Rustic Rebel
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 04:22 PM

the arrival of Fret

Iscur Treble knew the time was here.
It was her fate as well as Fret's. The time that had been written in the books long 'fore now.
Iscur heard the ramble in the bramble and bushes. "Oh! Fret has arrived!"She exclaimed in utter joy to herself.
The preparing must be in haste for they had little time to waste.

"Wecome to me 'ome Fret. I have been readying for your arrival."
Fret ascended the great stair well full of awe. He wasn't acustomed to such a strange and wonderous place, as was the interior of the old man willow.

He looked a bit frightened upon looking at the old woman Iscur, for she was the site to be seen indeed.
She was neither human nor elfin, no hobbit certainly! Her eyes were like huge black pools of water, for which she had three. Her head was easily the size of a watermelon and her mouth was equally as wide. Her nose was delicate and straight, which Fret thought to himself, was about one of the only humanly feature she had.
Her hair was an array of colours, as bountiful as a rainbow , and the shine upon your eyes was blinding. It was long as her body, perhaps longer.
Her body was long and slender with long delicate fingers, seven upon each of her four arms, but her legs were short and somewhat stocky, which explain her slow stride as she approached him.

"Do not fear me Fret, for I am from a old world that you do not remember, but as you were told by Kendalf, I am here to help you."
Now please, come in and rest. I have set for you some of the finest pipe-weed grow in the land and a feast is ready for you when you finish."
Fret was a bit relieved and agreed he did need a bit of a rest. The G-chord, which Fret wore around his neck, was resounding with vibrato, which made Iscur tremble with delight.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: stevetheORC
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 04:46 PM

WE'S is EDUMICATED N CIVELIZED you know not all ORCS dumb


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: CarolC
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 04:58 PM

(So MMario, is "extinct" the word they use for a de-scented skunk?)


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Peter T.
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 05:50 PM

Sometime before Fret met Iscur, he and Numnutz had walked warily through the suburbs of Unravelldel, until they came to a large patch of ground, in the middle of which was what looked like a farmhouse on stilts. On the front porch was a sofa with the insides springing out, and all over the lawn lay the rusted and beat up pieces from disembowelled musical instruments, vomited calliopes, used clarinet reeds, disccordions, harps with no strings, strings with no harps, and six or seven grand pianos with major dental surgery in their future.

Fret and Numnutz picked their way through the remains, and found themselves at the foot of the house, looking up to the porch, hovering about 10 feet above them.

"Hello?" cried Fret.

A sound like a cat being drawn through a straw was heard.

"Hello?" cried Fret.

"Sorry," said a female voice, "Wrong day, this is not lesson day, go away."

Fret called up: "We are not here for lessons! I am Fret from the Shire, and this is the Dwarf Numnutz, and we are bearing the lost G chord, and we need his advice to take on the forces of Maurawn and his headless A&R men, not to mention the Gurlgrups." He was frightened just listening to himself..

"Oh," said the female voice, "Wait a second. Could you look after the cat?"

A cat that had indeed been shoved through a straw, and come out looking much like you might expect dropped down out of the sky, landed on Fret's head, did a passable impression of Sammy Davis Jr.'s tapdancing, and then lit out for places unknown.

Numnutz said: "You lost her cat. There will be hell to pay."

Fret said," I didn't lose it. I just remained under it."

The next thing that fell out of the heavens was a rake, followed by three garbage bags, and a hoe. After the first of these, Fret and Numnutz ran under a nearby shed.

"Sorry," said the female voice above, "just looking for the ladder. It was all a lot easier when the garden was at porch height, or was it the other way around. When Mick the Magnificent fell off the porch, the garden dropped fifteen feet from the earthquake; or was it the porch that rose? Anyway, it was a long time ago, and shrouded in myth. Big Myth, cause you need a big shroud to cover Mick the Magnificent."

The voice babbled on in this way for awhile, and then finally a rope ladder snaked down in a shower of sheet music.

"Come on, " said the female voice. "He is expecting you."

The two small figures climbed the ladder, where they were confronted by a starkly beautiful woman who was dressed in what appeared to be Druid robes with a scottish Tartan.

"I'm Duck O'the Boots," she said. "You better butter me up."

Fret said, "Oh, wise, beautiful, Duck O'the Boots, your fame is widespread throughout -"

"Enough," she said, "Just seeing if I could get a rise out of you. Cute, though." She went inside.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: SINSULL
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 06:25 PM

Febig carefully donned his cuffs and chains and grinned that they had foolishly not thought to search him. The Amish moustache tuner was secretly and safely hung between his thighs, a little cold but not unpleasant. too bad he could not find a thing to fit it...


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Amos
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 06:35 PM

LOL!~! Too funny, PT!

A


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Rustic Rebel
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 07:09 PM

Plans are set for Fret


Iscur knew Fret was in for a long journey and a treacherous one indeed, so she prepared him a feast many delights, such as;
Succulent brisket of suckling armidillo, roasted in a rosemary cream sause with carrots, Jeruselem artichokes, parsnips and wild onion. Asparugus dripping in yak butter and goat cheese, with saute'ed oyster mushrooms, Bree laced with the infamouse pipe-weed. Crusty herbed, garlic brioche bread and a large breadfruit for dessert.
After dinner, they took to the briarwood pipes once again and then Fret went to his trucket bed and fell into a deep sleep, feeling quite secure in this place.

While Fret sleeped, Iscur Prepared his side bag for the journey.
In the bag she placed seperate pouches of magical herbs, dusts, and potions which had been enchanted and attuned.
For Wisdom-Bodhi, Peach and Iris.
For Strength-Masterwort, Mulberry and Saffron.
For Protection-Ague Root, Bladderwrack, Lady's Slipper and a vile of liquid Amber.
For Invisibility-Wolf's Bane, Edelweiss and Heliotrope.
For Courage-Columbine, Wahoo and Borage.
For Sexual Potency (just in case)-Black Cohash, Date Palm and Dragon's Blood.

She placed his dagger into the fountain to be sharpened, and the magic water made the blade harder than any known metal on earth.
She had also placed desiccated strips of meats and fruits to satisfy any hunger.
And lastly, she set upon making him a map and a list of folks he will meet along the way to help him to Maurawn's Kingdom.

The list was a plenty of helpful souls, that he would meet to form an alliance;
Tom Balboadill, Strawberry he would meet in the forest.
Kimberlin ans StPaulus the tall.
Ay Harmony stream he would meet into, Red Wolf, Little Hawk, Dawntreader.
By the purple Mountains he would find, Dulcicat, Spawpir and Hawgee.
And there were others, he would meet again like, Numnutz, Mick the Magnificent and Duck-o-the boots. (who did I forget?)

The moon was at it's full. The plans were set.

It was time to awaken Fret and send him on his way.
With all things gone over. And Fret learned the powers of each pouch he possessed, his blade sharper than Spawpirs wit, Iscur Treble had one more thing to do.
She brought him to the round table , for which he had to stand upon. He was instructed to stand over the fountain, by spreading his legs and letting the water purify him while she walked around him reciting her incantation.
Skulls and Bones and a didgeridoos
Make these potions work for you.
Be with Fret the whole journey long,
To save the G-Chord, is to save the song.

And with that Fret was gone and Iscur Treble had played her part in saving MiddleMax and she felt quite content.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Mudlark
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 07:12 PM

She came awake slowly, dazed and hurting. She opened her eyes to find she was lying is a small depression, corpse-like in a copse, with no feeling in her left hand. Slowly memory returned. The G Patrol! They had caught up with her deep in the forest, forced a battered instrument into her hands. "A G chord, and be quick about if if you want to live," the jackbooted harbinger shouted. She could see herself, cowering, reflected in his metallic dark glasses. She wildly fumbled for the correct formation, knowing it to be somewhere in her ken.

"Now play," he shouted at her, brandishing his knobled stick, "Play..." He looked up into the sky, saw the mountain belching fire and brought his face close to hers. "Now play 'On Top of Old Smoky.'"

They stood in a circle around her, menacing, there helmets glinting in the moonlight. "I can do this, I can," she thought to herself, and placing her fingers carefully on the strings she began to sing "On top of old Smoky, where Shatnir dwells deep, Where no one should wake him, on top of his heap..." Despite her fear she managed the change to C smoothly, but returning to G on "heap" her thumb betrayed her, settling firmly on the bass strings before she knew it.

"NaHAH! A numbskulled thumbpicker! A fickle-fingered fibberfaker!" And the powerful lash of G strings hit her from all sides. As she lost consciousness she heard them all screaming, "You'll never play again," as they rode off into the dark.

Now, alone in the forest, she pulled herself to a sitting position, then slowly rose to her feet. Mudlarkian gingerly tried to flex her left hand but it was if nothing existed beyond her wrist but an evil ball of deathlike cold. She took her bearings by the stars and started walking toward Harmonicado...Hardonia...to a land she knew wherein dwelled a fabled seer and potion provender. She knew she needed a poltice of epic proportions to sort this lot out. And she remembered the prophetic words of the MC as she walked off the stage at her last gig..."Give the little lady a hand..."


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Amos
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 07:55 PM

(Wow!! What a ... a.... a.... gathering of Talents!! Love those gentle Mudkit voices!)

A


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 08:36 PM

Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! God, it's amazing what happens when unemployed musicians and computer geeks with way too much time on their hands get together over a great concept like MiddleMax and let fly! Yee-Hah!

I'm not at all sure it will be possible or even advisable to cobble together a single story line that unites all these characters. Remember, it took a lot of different people to fight World War II, and they weren't all in the same platoon, that's for sure. But, there's bound to be some crossover here and there. Shatnir, naturally, pokes his big fat nose in everywhere, and I must say I love that description of Rick O'the Fielding's prestigious lodgings...bloody marvelous!

Carry on, ye mad fools, and beware Mauron's minions for they lurk where you least expect them.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 08:45 PM

Brad Baxter was in the middle of a terrifying nightmare. He was being dragged slowly down into
hellish depths by a huge pink octopus, and no matter how he struggled he could not get free. His
lungs were bursting. Just as Brad gasped uncontrollably and felt cold, dark water pouring into his
nose and throat, he awoke....to find himself lying on a blanket on hard but level ground. Janet's
arms were wrapped firmly around him, and she was fast asleep, smiling as if totally at peace in her
new suburban home in Schenectady..

Brad sighed in relief, then became aware that every muscle in his body was aching. He looked
around, owl-like, and fumbled for his glasses, found them and put them on. They were filthy.
Gently disengaging himself from Janet, he extracted a handkerchief from his torn polyester slacks,
and vigorously cleaned the lenses, breathing on them repeatedly to help speed the process.

"Ah, that's better," he said at last, trying them on. He looked up to see the sun rising over the
eastern treeline. It was a gorgeous day. Then he noticed Dawntreader, who was sitting calmly
and watching him, curiosity written all over his face.

"What is that device you're wearing?," inquired the Elf, smiling.

"Oh. These are my glasses. I'm afraid I don't see very well without them, except up real close.
I'm a bit nearsighted."

"Really? That's unfortunate. May I try them?"

"Be my guest," said Brad, handing them over.

"I think it's the other way around," answered Dawntreader wryly, but he guessed at the probable
meaning of the odd expression.

He took the glasses, held them up and examined them with great care. No signs of magical
intention here, just a physical instrument of some kind. Placing them on his nose, and awkwardly
adjusting them to his pointed ears, Dawntreader became momentarily disoriented. Everything had
gone fuzzy. "Ugh!" he said, yanking them off, and he was most relieved to see that his vision had
cleared back to normal. He tried it again, carefully, with much the same result.
                                                                        
"These help you see better?"

"Oh yes! But they're not the right prescription for you, that's all. You Elves seem to see very
well. I doubt that you would ever need glasses."

"There are all kinds of ways of seeing," acknowledged Dawntreader, "but as far as the physical
eyes go, you are correct. Elves have quite keen vision. Not so keen, however, as our friend,
Little Hawk." He gestured skyward, where Little Hawk was circling up in the first handy thermal
of the morning.

"Oh." said Brad. "Nice hawk. Is he yours?"

"No, he's his own hawk," replied Dawntreader dryly. "He's our friend. Red Wolf has known him
for years."

"Gosh. Well, I hope I didn't say anything offensive. Things seem to be really different around
here. Where are we, anyway?"

"You are in MiddleMax. MiddleMax is a great land, encompassing most of the known world for
all intents and purposes, aside from the Western Havens, which are far across the Great
Westwater. Few have gone there, and even fewer return here, for it is a sort of a paradise, they
say. Some of my kinsfolk have journeyed there in times past. To the south, across the Southern
Sea, are other lands, very hot and dry places, with fierce tribes mounted on swift horses. Those
lands are not as fertile as MiddleMax, and so the life there is harder. I hear that there is continual
warfare among those people. Even beyond those lands are regions of lush jungles. Of those I
know little. Fabulous beasts are rumoured to live there, such as the Oliphaunt, a horned creature
with horns coming from the sides of its mouth, a bit like a northern ice walris, but much, much
larger."

"An elephant!" exclaimed Brad. "I've seen them at the circus."

"Have you indeed? That must have been truly thrilling," said Dawntreader.

"Yeah... it was pretty cool. So where are we in MiddleMax?" asked Brad.

"Well, we are somewhat to the west of my home, which is called Clennor. Most of my kin live
there, and it is a beautiful place with rivers, forests, and rolling hills and escarpments crowned
here and there with the gathering halls of my people. Red Wolf and I have gone forth to scout the
western borders of Clennor, as is done from time to time. We had heard rumours of Orcs
gathering. It appears they were all too true."

"That's for sure," shuddered Brad. "Where is Red Wolf now?"

"Scouting for food...and Orcs. He should be back shortly." Dawntreader looked skyward and
sent to Little Hawk: ""What do you see?""

""I see a great gathering of vultures,"" sent back Little Hawk. "They are feasting on fifty or so
slain Orcs who recently made your acquaintance. And I see Red Wolf. He returns with a sack
full of rabbit food, by the looks of it, and a rabbit too, which is much better!""

"You will see Red Wolf shortly, Brad." smiled Dawntreader.                        

Janet had awoken, and was gazing fixedly at Dawntreader, whilst attempting to fix her hair.
"He's gorgeous!" she thought. "Better looking than Paul Newman! Better looking than Alan
Ladd!!! He's just utterly...I must find a comb or a brush...Where is that damned
purse?!!!"

"What's for breakfast?" she asked gaily, tossing her blonde hair back over her shoulders, and
adjusting her disarranged and tattered clothing so as to hide...but not hide too much...of what lay
beneath it.

A minute later Red Wolf strode into camp and, grinning, tossed a bag full of wild turnips and
greens to Dawntreader, who examined them with great satisfaction. Red Wolf then commenced
to skin and prepare the rabbit.

"Did you rest well?" he inquired of the New Yorkers.

"Like a log!" exclaimed Janet, gaily. "I do wish there was a mirror handy, though, and a shower,
and some Q-tips. Where's the washroom?"

"There's a river right there, and bushes in all directions." said Red Wolf, pointing with his chin to
the swift-flowing Linnesborne.

"But...isn't the water cold?" said Janet.

"I expect so," said Red Wolf noncommittally. He continued cleaning the rabbit.

Janet wrinkled her nose. "He's gorgeous too," she thought, "but he's insensitive. Unkind. One
of those 'when the going gets tough, the tough get going' types. I can't stand that in a man."

"Well," she said airily, "I'll just have to wait until we can find a motel. But first, I think we should
go and recover the car."

"I think that may not be possible, Janet," said Brad. "I don't think we're in New York State any
longer."

"Don't be ridiculous, Brad! Where else would we be?"

"We're in Middlemax," said Brad. "I know it sounds crazy, but we are. I don't think they even
have roads here...or motels either."

"That's ridiculous!" snorted Janet. "I think you've lost your mind, Brad Baxter!" She stamped
off into the bushes, fuming, and was gone for some time.

"She's just having trouble adjusting," apologized Brad.

"Yes, quite so," said Red Wolf, his eyes twinkling with tremendous amusement. "I believe that
some powerful spell has brought you here from another world. We shall need to look into it. It
may be quite important. We'll discuss it in greater detail after we eat. Tell me about this 'car'
thing she is so concerned about. If it's out there Little Hawk will see it in no time at all, once he
knows what to look for. By the way, Dawntreader, speaking of missing things, where is your pet
Orc this morning?"

"He's huddled up under that skin over there," said Dawntreader. "He became quite nervous
before sunrise, and covered himself up thoroughly. He's afraid of getting sunburnt. Febig, how
goes it with you?"                                

"Febig is still alive, Master," came the quavering reply.   "Still alive, but wretchedly
uncomfortable. Febig is scared of the sun. Febig needs to find a nice cave or hidey-hole to sleep
in as soon as possible."

"That may be sooner than you think, Febig. We have an Orc-portal to investigate not far from
here, and a magic card to recover, if possible."

"Oh, good! Febig will help! Febig has seen the magic cards, but never was allowed to use one.
Only bigwigs get to use them."

"How do we move him around in daylight?" mused Dawntreader. "I suppose I shall have to
stitch him a cowl that covers him from head to toe."

"Excellent idea," quipped Red Wolf. "He's best not seen anyway in polite company. We'll say
that he's a halfling with a rare skin disease if anyone asks. Do you have any small gloves handy?"

"I may...or I shall just make those too," sighed Dawntreader.

"Febig is deeply sorry for causing inconvenience to the great Elf Lords Red Wolf and
Dawntreader! Deeply! Kind masters may whip Febig severely at any time, as Febig so richly
deserves."

"Never mind, Febig," said Red Wolf. "You will get your chance to repay your debt in more
useful ways than that. Rest now. Pointless cruelty is not the way of Elves. We will be on our
way in an hour or two, so rest now while you can."

"Febig thanks kindly Masters most fulsomely! Febig will rest now." Within a minute or two, soft
snoring could be heard from the well-covered Orc.

Janet had returned, looking miffed, but refreshed, and breakfast was served. It was simple but
excellent fare, prepared over the open fire in a most skilful way by Red Wolf.

A lengthy sky search by Little Hawk revealed that the pink Edsel was indeed resting in a marshy
area not too far off, and by late morning the whole party had found it. It was an incongruous
sight, sunken up to its door handles in muck, and sinking steadily deeper. It had been adopted by
several iridescent frogs and a host of insects whom the frogs were busy devouring.

Janet had at last accepted the fact that they were no longer in New York State, and that there
were no highways anywhere within reach, but she was loath to abandon the car until Brad
recovered the insurance papers and the ownership intact, getting himself very muddy in the
process. The Elves watched, without comment, prepared to throw Brad a rope if he became
hopelessly mired, but he made it back to dry land on his own.

"What's happening?" asked Febig, who was bundled onto Dawntreader's back, wrapped securely
in animal skins.

We have found the 'car' thing, said Dawntreader. It's one of the most extraordinary creations I
have ever seen. I think it's some kind of chariot. Quite ingenious, but totally useless around here.
Anyway, it would take twenty horses to pull it out of there, I should think. In another day or two
it will have vanished forever beneath the bog."

"We can claim it as a total write-off, then," said Janet. "I mean, when we get back home. How
do we get back home?"

"Good question," said Red Wolf. "I think you may need the help of a wizard. A very powerful
one. Meanwhile, we must investigate the portal to which the Orcs fled last night. Such portals
cannot be left unguarded for long. The best thing would be to seal it permanently, but for that,
again, we need a wizard or a great magic-worker. Let's be on our way."

Janet and Brad gazed wistfully for the last time at their pink Edsel, its chrome trim shining
brightly in the sun, its glorious curves and angles sadly spattered with spots of mud and insect
droppings, its custom A-OOO-GAH! Horn for which Brad had paid $75 hard cash forever
silenced. It was a poignant moment. Then they turned and followed the Elves northeast to the
Orc-portal, as Little Hawk flew on constant patrol overhead.

                                        * * * * * * *


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Mudlark
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 09:18 PM

She heard ahead of her the mind numbing sound of heavy metal emploding on ear drums. She drew nearer and could hear the weak sound of diminished nineths being beaten senseless. She strode into a clearing to find a group of OrcRaps surrounding a shining lad, dress in gherkin and giblet, playing manfully but rapidly losing ground. As the Orcs capered about him, driving him to the ground with their clash, she yelled "For the god's sake, use your moveable B7, it's the only thing that will save you...."

Tho his mind was frozen by the heavy beat, somehow her message got thru. With the last strengh in his fingers he played that B7 up and down the neck of his instrument for all he was worth. "Ow! Garron! Get OFF it!" screamed the Orcs, trying to stop their ears. But it was no good....the B7 was too much for them and they scattered, holding their ears, their dreaded pounding thump fading into the distance.

"How can I ever repay you?" asked the lad. "In my confusion I'd forgotten all about that B7th. Allow me to introduce myself....Corgwyn Pembroyk at your service."

Badly in need of a friend, what with her frozen hand and not even a snark to keep her company, she decided she could do worse than throw in with this fellow traveller. "Mudlarkian's the name, Mudyl for short. I'm glad I came upon you when I did. I see by your outfit that you are a strummer. In better days I was the same. May I know your destination, as well as your name?" In times of stress she tended to fall into hackrhyme.

"Well," Corgwyn answered, bashfully scuffing his toe. "I'm not that great a strummer, no where near plucker grade, and I'm on my way to Harmoni....Harman... I'm in search of a wizard I"ve heard of that can teach me harmonics. Something tells me that the key to outwitting and overpowering the Orclot lies in sound."

"We're headed in the same direction, then, pilgrym, head and foot. Mayhap we could travel together?"

"Sounds like a plan, Mudyl," he said, and hiking his instrument over his shoulder they set off.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Amos
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 10:48 PM

Tom Balboadill loved his woods, and he loved his winsome companion, daughter of River, his fountain of all things wise and joyous, and he loved all the critturs that made his boundless forest home what it was. He would often sit for hours, silent except for the whisper of endless internal joy-filled laughing which was his Way of Being, and he would become one with the forest. He would hold the scatterbrained chipmunks in his heart and he would create symphonies in which their burst of short term soprano attention would blend and counter-point the ageless, aeons-long thoughts of the trees themselves as they worked their easy way through the longest questions anyone could imagine. He would permeate the soil in his harmonius theta state until his symphony of theheart rang, too, with the voices of the dungbeetles and the treefrogs. He loved them all, did Old Tom, and it pleased him well to do so.

So he was not a little surprised as the enigmatic forester and his fair companion wended their way past the riverbanks on their last leg homeward, when his jolly reveries wer einterrupted by the nasty smashing "thunk!" of a black-shafted arrow slicing into the bole of a large tree nearby him.

He had forgotten that he did not much love Orcs. It came back to him in a disappointing heartbeat as a dozen of the wicked little nabobs popped out of the bushes and surrounded him and Strawberry with their teeth showing and their ugly wave-pointed dirks drawn.

"The Sour One sees all! And he sees an early death for you two!", snarled the fat unwashed leader.

"Sour One?? Who....Oh!! You don't mean that stupid old Mauron, do you?", replied Tom brightly. Strawberry had moved close behind him and was fingering the air in invisible dropped-D formations and muttering silently to herself. "Why, I was just writing a song about him!! Would you like to hear it??" And he reached inside his thick leather coat as though to bring out an instrument.

"Your singing days are over, Tree Hugger!", snarled the leader. "Take them, boys!!"

The Orcs moved in as one, clsoing the circle, their blades out and weaving for a taste of Tom's immortal blood.

Tom yawned. "Oh, excuse me!!" he said, and put his hand to his mouth to cover his yawn, as all polite men do. The Orcs moved in closer, and Strawberry's silent incantations filled the air with ethereal mandates which their thick skulls could not even detect. But they slowed not a step.

Suddenly, a thin, piercingly beautiful sound rose and fell on the air, as though an angel were singing through a sparrow's eyes, rising and falling, too high to hear, but never to wee to feel, floating through the glen and over the river as though the very winds were giving song.

The fat unshaven leader of the Orc band was the first to scream, clapping his hands over his ears.

"Stop that noi-i-ise!! Stop it this instant!!"

But the faint, high, wee susurration wove on through the branches, touching the shadows and the sunlight, penetrating every animal or vegetable nerve for yards around.

The rest of the Orcs were quickly slapping their hands over their ears in rapid turn, howling with outrage as the strange high notes scrambled their ugly cochleae. A fortunate few remembered to drop their dirks before doing so, but a number of the others fell dead by their own blades on the spot. The survivors looked around crazed and in pain, and galloped off throguh the brush, heading for the nearest deep cave.

"My love, that was most fairly done, and beautiful to behold!", laughed Strawberry, watching their crashing retreat.

"We are most blessed, light o' my heart!   Where would we be if not for fine friends!"

"Friends? Who do you mean, then?"

"Why, 'twas a dear friend, well steeped in musical lore, who gave me this whistle, and taught me it!"

"A musician?"

"No, not when I knew him. He told me he had been one, long before, but had tired of the ructions of a traveling minstrel's life, and had come to our forest when he left his mortal shell. To slow down a while, he said. Took up a young sapling, he did, and is busy growing rings one at a time, and thinking slower thoughts, now!"

"What did he tell you about this piping piece of yours?"

"Just that it would serve me well when need was."

"Well what did he call it?"

"He said it was an Entwhistle, which seemed plain enough at the time."

"Well, your good Entwhisitle is every bit as fair a ward as he claimed, my best beloved Balboadill! Come, we must away home. I sense there are travelers not a day off, who will need more from us than Entwhistles!!"

Tom laughed merrily for an hour down the trail. Oh, how he loved this forest! Oh, how he loved his Strawberry princess! Somehow, wending along the riverside, he even forgot that he didn't love Orcs.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 12:33 AM

Yowsa!!! Way to go, Amos! Now that brings joy to my heart...an Entwhistle. And..."susurration"... Yikes! There's a fifty dollar word I've not heard before. I hope that Little Hawk (the hawk in the story, I mean) gets to drop in on Tom Balboadill one day soon to hear some of those pure notes rising and falling. I also can't help but wonder if Tom has a distant relative in the boxing trade...a not too bright fellow named Rocky Balboadill who won some renown, boxing in Gondor or Avalon or some some place like that...busting heads with dyslexic abandon. Y'know, everybody's gotta find his niche, and I believe Tom and Strawberry have found theirs. As for Mauron...like Dracula, he sucks.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: GUEST,Raedwulf
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 03:44 PM

"Pointless cruelty is not the way of Elves."

Never forgetting, of course, that pointed cruelty (very sharp & pointed, usually) is another matter entirely...


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: katlaughing
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 04:57 PM

Aside: I once had a landlady from England, name of Entwhistle!

Day had turned by the time Spawpir and Dulcikat recovered from their shock and took off for home. Home in Harmonia, also known by various other permutations of the most wondrous delight, for all who lived there prospered and were full of content, except the exact spelling of their hamlet.

Subdued and busy with thoughts of doom, they each walked in a purposeful way, by silent agreement not speaking much, processing what had happened, puzzling out what it might mean in their lives.

"Spawpir?" Dulcikat said.

"Yes, D'kat, what is it?"

And, like a dozen times before on their trek home, she hesitated, not wanting to name such terror, "Oh, nothing, nevermind, my sweet."

With a shrug, Spawpir travelled on. Just as he stepped around a large boulder lying in the path, his foot struck something, sending it a short slide of distance. "Hello, what's this? D'kat, light your candle will you? It's a bit dark now to see this."

As D'kat struck her tinder, lighting a small stub of candle, Spawpir leant over and picked up a strange object. It was rectangular and packed with a sheaf of paper with writing on it, rather like some of the manuscripts they'd seen in the home of a certain hobbit before, yet not at all like them. There was apparently a name written in odd charcters, yet still readable, on the inside flap. Spawpir sounded it out, "Bbbrraaad, Bradd....Bast..um Bast ur." (Well, what do you want, the cat reference goes with the territory!)"Brad Baster, I think it says. D'kat, look at this!"

Holding her candle aloft, D'kat and Spawpir turned page after page of the strange document. There were drawings of naked people, most of them very pale and long, gangly even by hobbit standards, in the oddest and most blatant poses. And, there were all manner of directions and other writings to go along. They both felt a little flush rise to their cheeks as they looked, then D'kat's eyes caught it. "Look, Spawpir! It's about the music! I'll bet this tells how we can help find the G-chord!"

Spawpir poured over the relevant page..."I think you're right D'kat. It says right here, if we follow these directions it will lead us to the "G-spot" and that has to mean where the G chord is, right?! Let's go!"


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Amos
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 05:10 PM

(Katlaughing, you are a dirty old man in sheep's clothing!) LOL!!

A


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 05:18 PM

Ha! It sounds like poor Brad has lost his marriage manual. Whatever will he do, with virile and experienced Elves on all sides to steal his thunder? Stay tuned to find out...

- LH


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Amos
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 06:04 PM

Ummm...LH, no offense, but your Janet character, just like the Rocky Horror original, has about as much chance of attracting a virile Elf as would a water buffalo. Elfmen are far-seeing, not deceived by mere appearance, and besides, I believe her spirit-totem-animal-icon is a water buffalo, for good and sufficient reason. Witness her insistence on pink....


A


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 06:47 PM

It was not far past midday when the party reached the site of the Orc-portal, much to the
displeasure of a flock of vultures, who were busy cleaning up the remains of the slain Orcs that lay
all around it. Brad & Janet blanched at the gruesome sight, and covered their noses hastily. Red
Wolf and Dawntreader spent some time examining the stone door, but its smooth, featureless face
revealed nothing. The half-crushed head of the Orc chanter still rested at its foot, but the birds
had eaten his eyes. It was not a pretty sight.

Red Wolf took a branch and swept the head off to one side. "This one was chanting to Mauron,"
he remarked. "But it didn't work for him."

"No," agreed Dawntreader. "Anyway, I am certainly not going to chant to Mauron, even if I
thought it might work. I could try some standard opening spells though."

"Go ahead then. I'll clear the area some and set up camp." Red Wolf set about dragging off Orc
bodies and gear, which he chucked into a small gully. The vultures returned gratefully and
resumed their meal.

Dawntreader spent some time quietly in front of the door, speaking in very low tones in some
ancient tongue, and making rune signs in the air and on the stone. Brad watched curiously. Janet
watched too, but her main attention was on Dawntreader's manly profile rather than on what he
was doing. She looked bored, irritated, and impatient. As far as she was concerned, the day was
not going well and it showed little promise of improvement. Febig crouched to one side, well
covered up but peeping out from under his protective skins. He was quite intrigued to find that
he actually could stand looking at the world in direct sunlight, although at first it had been very
difficult. By squinting his eyes, he found he could adjust to it by degrees. Eventually he was able
to look around almost without squinting.

"Mauron is capricious," he volunteered. "He doesn't care much if soldiers die unless he needs
them for something special. Maybe that's why the chanter could not open the door. Mauron is
very busy. Has big, important things on his mighty mind. Festor's unit was not so important, I
think. Festor was very stupid. Stupid officers get unimportant work."

"No doubt," said Dawntreader. "Well, I have exhausted my store of knowledge on this matter.
We are going to have to find another solution...or give it up, and appoint guards to watch this
portal at all times."

"You need a magic card," said Febig. "If I had one, you could use it, but poor Febig has no credit
line whatsoever."

"I have a credit line!" exclaimed Brad. "Look at this." He fumbled in his pocket, pulled out a
wallet and produced a brand new American Excess Gold credit card.

Febig goggled at the card, from underneath his shroud. "Oh! You lucky, lucky," he sighed.
"That is such a pretty one too! Where did you get it? How much is it good for?"

"$5,000 dollars," said Brad, beaming. "I'm a staunch Republican and a member of the Rotary
Club, you know."

Dawntreader looked at the card, furrowing his brow. "I wonder," he mused "...do you actually
think...may I see it?"

"Sure," said Brad, handing it over.

Dawntreader examined the card with great care. "These are odd runes," he said. "I've never seen
any quite like them. Febig, can you explain how one works the card with the stone?"

"Yes!" chirped Febig. "It's easy. Take the card in your right hand and walk right up to the stone.
Yes! That's it! Now wave the card in the air."

As if by magic, a slot suddenly appeared in the stone door. It was lit from within by a steady
green light.

"Yes! The door has detected the card!" said Febig. "Now stick the card in the slot with the face
up." Dawntreader did so but nothing happened. "Try it the other way around," said Febig.

"I see a set of numbers now, below the slot," said Dawntreader. "Pushbuttons, I think."

"Yes!" said Febig. "What is the pin number?" he asked Brad.

"Brad!" interjected Janet. "Never, never give anyone your pin number...except me, of course."
She smiled sweetly.

Brad didn't know what to do, but Dawntreader had grasped the situation. "You press the
numbers then, Brad. I'll cover my eyes, and your secret will be safe."

"No," said Janet. "I want to do it. Please let me do it, Brad!" She made Bambi eyes at Brad. He
could never resist that.

"Okay, Janet, dear, you can do it. The number is..." he whispered in Janet's ear. Febig watched
with great attention, squinting hard, and fanning his own large ears out widely, which is an Orcish
sign of alertness.   Janet positively squeaked with excitement, skipped forward and waited for
Dawntreader to cover his eyes. He did so, and she punched in the numbers. The door emitted a
loud combination of dings and beeps, groaned, and opened wide. Brad, Janet, and Febig cheered
ecstatically, while Dawntreader shook his head in mock disbelief. He looked around to see Red
Wolf, who had been quietly watching the whole thing, grinning broadly at him.

"Never look a gift horse in the mouth," said Red Wolf, "even if he has two heads, three legs, and
comes from another world. Febig, you are in luck. We are going spelunking right after lunch."


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Ebbie
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 08:13 PM

A momentary aside: Little Hawk, I learned the word 'susurration' one night at a remote water reservoir in Idaho. As twilight closed in around us, wild ducks flew over us in swift 'rafts' to land on the water for the night, so close that in the silence I could hear the susurration of their wings. fwhuh fhwuh, fhwuh, fhwuh... It was magical.

I love your stories. Carry on.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 09:04 PM

Yeah. Very cool. I've heard flights of ducks coming in that way too, and it's really neat when they don't see you, and just relax and act natural, so to speak. They talk together sometimes, pretty much the way a group of people would.

I'll compose another chapter, tomorrow most likely.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: HuwG
Date: 16 Jan 03 - 08:52 AM

Huwgee could have cried for joy. "Oh, to think that I should live to hear this", he said. "The wonderful songs and music of Luthiern the Fair".

"I was just tuning up, mate", replied Luthiern. "And if you don't mind, I'd prefer it if you just stuck to plain, 'Luthiern'. What can I do for you? I see you've brought a 'Hammer in for me to fix."

"I have not", said Huwgee, indignantly. "It's in perfectly good nick. However, I am going on this 'ere quest to save the G-chord, and I'll need some extra kit for it."

"Ah, I see", said Luthiern. "Are you going along with anyone in particular. I could give you some names."

"I don't know", said Huwgee. "It's a bit of a choice to have to make. I mean, once we moon-faced rustics start freeloading off someone, it takes a surgical operation to get rid of us. Plus we come in for some liabilities, like having to carry all the extra gear."

"OK then. But what sort of gear were you thinking of ? Some of the venues on this quest are more than a bit dodgy. The foul craft of Mauron has blended the races of orcs and men; they no longer fear the light of day, and they have wit and cunning enough to pronounce, 'expunge', even if they could do with a Thesaurus. I reckon you'll need something with a bit more attack than that 'Hammer. I could do you a nice generic Far Eastern 'Axe, if the budget will stand it."

Huwgee shook his head, sadly. The work of his own fingers, rather than the efforts of the countless trolls mindlessly turning treadmills throughout MiddleMax to generate enough juice to run an amp, was his meagre ambition. "Sorry, no", he said. "I'd never get it past the Goodfolk Police, anyway. But can you do me something for the backing".

Luthiern prooffered a large round shield of hide, on which was emblazoned a cunning design of linked green plants, and abstract patterns. "This should deflect the worst of the flak that anyone you're with might attract. Though sometimes it's tricky, and for goodness's sake BE CAREFUL with that short stick that goes with it. Phew! Thank you. Truly there are things in MiddleMax which should not be used save at great need and only when it is the time appointed for their use."

"But when will that time be?", asked Huwgee, "and when shall I know it ?".

"I don't know", said Luthiern, "but you'll very soon know it if it's the wrong time and place to use it. Now, are you sure I can't do you an 'Axe. It'll cut through just about anything, if you turn it up to eleven."

With regrets, Huwgee declined. He shouldered his new gear, and set off down the road, humming to himself,

"The road goes ever ever on,
Back to the place whence it came from,
Am I not crap at haiku."


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Peter T.
Date: 17 Jan 03 - 05:42 PM

With great trepidation, Fret and Numnutz moved through the porch door, stepping over what appeared to be an exploded bagpipe stomach, and into the darkened interior of Rick O'the Fielding's lair.   After the first few moments, their eyes became accustomed to the vast space, completely disguised from the outside.

To begin at the floor level, every square inch of space was covered in what appeared to be an amalgam of cat fur, loose quarter notes, picks, and rolls of paper covered in mysterious slanted hieroglyphics, redolent of ancient Runic inscriptions, which upon closer inspection turned out to be TAB transcriptions of some of the great Greens masters, including hits by "Dwarf" Willie Jones, "Elvish the Pelvish", and "Brownie" McGhee, mostly for 6-string slide lyre. Along the edges of this array of the great man's activity, and climbing the walls in all directions, were stacks of yellowing manuscripts and textbooks, which, in off moments, Fret could discern had seductive titles such as "Nights at Stonehenge: A Druid Recalls"; "The Incomplete Minstrel", "Dragonchanter's Workbook", "Guinivere: the Gurlgrup Years", and "Rise Up Shapeshifting". Between the walls and the floors, hung an astonishing array of what Fret tentatively identified as musical instruments.   This was confirmed in an unfortunate way, when Fret reached over and touched what seemed to be a saxophone in the form of a Klein bottle.

"What'chew doin'?" tooted the saxophone. "Keep yo' hans' to youself." It wailed harshly, raising the ire of all the other instruments along the wall, that started yelling and berating the two small figures. Hundreds of instruments, all shapes sizes and forms, whistled, whined, plonked, howled, until Fret and Numnutz were unable to keep from covering their ears against the din.

At this moment, Rick O'the Fielding appeared from nowhere, with a whip. "Down, down, my children, down!!," he thundered, cracking his whip, "They are guests!!!!"

The din slowly subsided, except for a slightly out of tune guitar that was a recent addition to the stable, and had still not settled in. It rangled for a few moments, until Rick stared it down.

Fret and Numnutz uncoiled themselves from their defensive position on the floor, and were finally face to face with the Minstrel himself.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: GUEST,Blind DRunk in Blind River
Date: 17 Jan 03 - 06:06 PM

I have took a good look at this whole stupid thread and I dont unerstand how some of you epoeople get time to drink when yer writting all this crap. Geez! talk about fritterring yer life away eh? You will enver catch me doing that. Anything that cant be sayed in 18 words or less aint worth saying!

BDiBR


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Les from Hull
Date: 17 Jan 03 - 07:42 PM

Leg o' Les the Elf was at home in the ancient Hull Ye Wood and he was bemused. He picked up his old battered box of squeeze and fingered a plaintive air, looking towards his companion, she who is known as The Fragrant One, and trusting that she would join his melody with her tuneful guitar.

"Somethings not quite right her, beloved. What key are you in?"

"You know that I only play in the old Elvish keys. This is in the key of... the key of... G."

"Yes but there's something wrong. I can't understand what's happening. I want to play the right chords but the wrong sounds come out."

"It seems there is an evil influence abroad, my love. Try a tune on your entwhistle"

"Ah that works! Where's my Great Guitar of Bass"

A passing Ent stopped by and from his leafy limbs dropped a small black spider.

"That's lovely" said the spider. "My name's Boris, by the way."


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Amos
Date: 17 Jan 03 - 09:57 PM

(BDiBR: How about five: "Go piss up a rope!")

A


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Jan 03 - 12:08 AM

A brief examination of the grotto which lay behind the outer door revealed nothing more than the
headless body of the chanting Orc, and the magic card, which was still clutched in his stiffened
fingers. Febig, who had emerged from his shrouds in the dimmer light of the cave, could hardly
keep his eyes off the card as he fantasized about the incredible possibilities inherent in an
unlimited credit line.

"What else is it good for, besides opening Orc doors?" asked Red Wolf.

"Oh, you can buy all kinds of things with it at the commissary," said Febig excitedly. "You can
get weapons, food, clothing, pictures of Mauron in his armour, books about Mauron and what he
intends to do after establishing the New World Order, little statues of Mauron, instruction
manuals on creative methods of torture and extortion, and about how to kill...um....well enemies,
you know, like humans and...um..."

"Elves?" asked Dawntreader. (He had read Febig's thoughts through his *sending* ability...)

"Febig is very sorry about that!" said the little Orc hastily. "VERY sorry! Febig was told bad
things about Elves ever since being an Orc-child. Febig was told that they are unOrcan,
treacherous, cowardly, and deceptive, but Febig would never say such things now that Febig
knows better..."

"We are unOrcan," smiled Dawntreader, "but we regard that as a compliment in our
vernacular. I think, Febig, that it would be well if you were to tell me as much as you can about
Orcs, and I will tell you as much as I can about Elves. We can both learn from this, and in time
form our own conclusions as to what is true and what is not. The only place I have ever dealt
with Orcs, prior to you, is on a battlefield, and a battlefield makes a poor place for discussion."

"Febig will be delighted to tell about the life of Orcs! It is a hard life, full of suffering, terror, and
danger, but that is the way of life."

"In the meantime," said Red Wolf, looking wryly at both Febig and Dawntreader, "we have more
practical matters to deal with. Where does this cave lead? You also mentioned a commissary.
What about that?"

"Yes," said Janet. "Brad and I are desperately in need of new clothing, and I gather there are no
malls around here..."

"Mauls?" said Febig, momentarily at a loss. "Are they some form of lesser demon or are they a
weapon? I've seen bodies that were mauled by trolls before..."

"No," said Brad, "they're a really big neighborhood commissary."

"Oh. Well, yes, there is a commissary, and it's not too far down the corrider."

"Fine," said Red Wolf, laconically. "Lead the way."

Torches were duly lit, and the party made their way more or less east down a not too lengthy
tunnel that ended at the intersection of three separate passageways. A heavy door with Orcish
runes faced the junction of the three passages, and this turned out to be the commissary.

"Okay, let's see if this one works," said Red Wolf, waving the new magic card in front of the
door. The green slot appeared at once.

"And now...six-six-six," said Red Wolf. He and Dawntreader had not overlooked that little detail
during the previous night's fight in front of the portal.

Febig's eyes went wide as the commissary door swung open. Only commanders were allowed
access to commissaries, and only key commanders at that. This was an unheard of opportunity to
enjoy the perks of high office.

The commissary turned out to be a sort of warehouse. This one was filled with all variety of
Orcish weapons and provisions. Spears, swords, maces, crossbows, and heavy Orcish arrows
were stacked by the hundreds or even thousands by the look of it. There were bags of dried food,
most of it not too palatable by Elf standards, but good for surviving on in a pinch. And there was
one other thing...a map of MiddleMax, spread out across a large table. On the map were many
red arrows, large and small. The largest ones led out of Defcon Warguile in bold strokes that
aimed straight into the heart of the western kingdoms of Adlon and Clevendor, the two greatest
human kingdoms of MiddleMax. A lesser arrow led toward the Canuckian North, where a tight
circle was drawn around Carad Nuath Torpor, where sleeps the dread Shatnir. Other smaller
arrows debouched from mountain fastnesses and hidden caves all over MiddleMax, pointing
haphazardly as it seemed, there and there, into the lesser kingdoms of halflings and men. Around
the Elvish regions of Clennor, west of Clevendor, and Illurien, which lay in the forest regions
between Clevendor and Adlon were drawn heavy red and black circles overlayed with a serrated
line, with the points angling in.

"This is a map of war," said Red Wolf, his eyes flashing. "Mauron clearly means to march on both
Clevendor and Adlon. He does not lack ambition!"

"Yes, and he means to launch nuisance raids everywhere else from the look of it," said
Dawntreader, "but what do the circles around our lands mean? Those are different."

"They mean that he assumes we shall be the last to fall," said Red Wolf grimly. " We are the final
redoubt. He does not intend to fall upon us until he has destroyed the great kingdoms of men and
completely surrounded us. He knows that men are weak in character if not arms and can be easily
swayed, but that Elves are incorruptible. When all else has fallen he intends to encircle us in steel,
and then close upon us and destroy us. That is my interpretation of it."

"You are right!" exclaimed Febig. "The commanders have said many times that we must break
the kingdoms of Men first, because Elves are stuck-up and incorrigible. Men can be bribed,
fooled, bought or terrorized into obedience but Elves must simply be killed down to the last one.
That's what they say all the time: you can't deal with Elves because they have no appreciation of
profit and are too proud to change for anyone."

"What is this 'profit' thing you speak of?" asked Dawntreader.

"Oh," said Febig, "it's simple. Mauron has created something called Dullers. They are pieces of
paper or coins with the pictures of the Eye on them. The Eye watches you all the time, and makes
sure you are loyal to Mauron and no one else. No one can get the dullers except from Mauron or
one of his agents, and no one can buy, sell or trade without the dullers...unless he has friends in
high places, of course...but if he does, then he normally has lots of dullers too. It goes with the
territory, that's what they say. Now 'profit' means acting in such a way as to get more dullers.
The best way to get lots of dullers is to become an officer or a bigwig, working for Mauron. The
biggest bigwigs are the Nazghouls, but then there are thousands of lesser bigwigs. You can get
dullers by being a bigwig or by doing exactly what the bigwigs tell you to do. Those who don't
have dullers are out of luck, because they can't buy, sell or trade anything on pain of death, and
nobody gets dullers who doesn't work for Mauron. This means Elves, Men, Halflings, animals,
tree people, and all those kind of beings will basically be doomed when the New World Order is
established in MiddleMax, because they don't have dullers and can't get them except from
Mauron. That's how it works. The only thing better than having your pockets full of hundreds of
dullers is to have a magic card with a bottomless credit line," he concluded, eyeing the onetime
card of Banjoman the Enchanter wistfully.

"That's enough, Febig," said Red Wolf. "I'm starting to feel sick. I believe we must take this map
to the High Council in Clennor at once!"

"Agreed!" said Dawntreader. "Time is of the essence."

"What about some clothes for me and Brad?" whined Jane. "All this talk of war is meaningless to
me when here we are standing in a warehouse full of valuable goods for the taking."

"You have five minutes," snapped Red Wolf, glaring at her. "I suggest you get good footwear
and Ranger gear. You're going to need them. Febig, find them something appropriate as quickly
as you can."

"Yessir!" said Febig, shrinking from Red Wolf's obvious anger.

Brad looked acutely embarrassed. He was well aware how much they owed the Elves.

Fortunately, Febig had a good idea of where to look and had soon found plain leather leggings of
the Ranger sort, along with serviceable cloaks, rain hoods, and belts. "We use these for
espionage," said he, "when we want to sneak around among men and look like Rangers. A
medium will fit Janet, and a large fits Brad, I think. Yes, that should do. If Elf Masters approve,
Febig would like to take a rain hood and cloak too, extra small."

"We approve," said Dawntreader. "All right, is everyone set? Yes? Good, let's move."

"Door shut!" snapped Red Wolf, as they exited, and it did so with a whoosh and clank.

Little Hawk was relieved to see them emerge safe and sound from the cave. Being a hawk, he
loved the open air and avoided such places if at all possible.

"Let's return to our original camp for the night," said Red Wolf, "We set out for Clennor at first
light. Too long have I missed the smiles of my kinsmen and the laughter of the shieldmaidens."

"I too," agreed Dawntreader, "but I fear there will be a bit less to laugh about than usual this
time."


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 03:52 AM

Slider the Ringer sat back against a rock, head tilted backwards, eyes closed, exhaling a stream of smoke from his mouth and nostrils.

"Is that good gear that Slider is on ?" asked Merrygrin.

"It's only, er, only, ordinary weed", replied Huwgee. He had wanted to say that it was Hornblower-branded Longbottom Leaf, except that last time anyone had used words like "Hornblower" and "Longbottom" in a sentence, Merrygrin and his companion Periodic had suffered fits of giggling. On that occasion, Kendalf had warned them, his eyebrows bristling, that it was simply not done to read improper, irreverant or frivolous meanings into trade-names or other words in MiddleMax. "For we serve a higher and more noble purpose than the mere recording of events for posterity". At the word, "Posterity", Merrygrin and Periodic had both turned purple and rolled on the ground, choking with their efforts not to laugh out loud.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 11:59 AM

Yes, well, the low-minded and primitive individual hates idealism, despises dignity, and loathes any form of self-discipline (since he is himself apparently incapable of it). He seeks out any opportunity to indulge his most basic surface appetites and to distract himself from the slow but inevitable slide into old age, deterioration, and an end to all the ephemeral things he places value in. Death nips at his heels, but he prefers not to think about that, knowing that no one will remember him well anyway, since he will have made no useful contribution to life. He delights in vulgarity, and gains a brief feeling of enlarged identity when he can shock someone with it. He is lost. He has a soul but knows it not. His mortal body will soon fail him. His pleasures will fade and pass into pain. He will go unwept, unhonored, and unsung into a miserable oblivion...forget all...and then probably be born again in as low or even lower a station than before, not having learned one single worthy thing in the whole span of his last wretched Earthly life. There is no redemption possible for those who don't wish to be redeemed.

But seek out friends in the mean time, lost one, who are as benighted and ignorant as yourself, and share an inebriated laugh or two together with them while you may. They care no more for you than you do for them, but they are momentarily convenient for company...

None of this happens to Elves, but neither do Elves lack humor, I might add. Good humor, that is.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Ebbie
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 01:39 PM

"headless body of the chanting Orc," They just don't give up, do they, Little Hawk!

(Sorry for the impenitent, low humor. GUEST is not alone, unfortunately.)
Eb


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 01:47 PM

Yeah, Ebbie...I guess it should have been the "formerly chanting Orc". :-)

- LH


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: JenEllen
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 01:57 PM

The Lady of the Labs picked her way precariously through the tangled roots on the forest floor. The lair of Angus the Wondermutt was around here somewhere, and she was determined to find it. She stopped for a moment and sniffed the air---there---the smell akin to swamp water and the obligate sexual practices of nightcrawlers. She turned towards it, walked a few steps, and found herself at the mouth of a cavern.

"I seek Angus the Wondermutt." she called
"Do you have to yell? I've got quite an echo in here.." came the reply, followed shortly thereafter by one who could only be described as 'short, dark, and handsome'. "Oh, it's you." he muttered, and retreated once again to the darkness of the cavern.

The Lady of the Labs took a deep breath, her last of relatively clean air for the time being, and followed Angus into the cave.

"I heard about your battle with TooMor the Terrible, glad to see you are still among us. And I also heard about your travels with Mick the Magnificent," she paused, ducking to avoid the bats hanging from the ceiling, "Thwarting the dreaded demons of Sigma Chi? I never would have figured you for the type."

"That's the sad thing about domesticity," Angus grumbled, walking round in a circle a few times and sitting by his smoky fire, "people seem to think they can make you a part of whatever crazy notion they have going at the time and you've got nothing to say about it."
He began to sift through a pile of orc bones, pulled one out and offered it to the Lady, she demurred, he shrugged and said "suit yourself", then began to gnaw.

"Yes," nodded the Lady, "but why are you not still on the quest for the G with Mick the Magnificent?"

"The shadow of the Great One?" Angus growled "I was beginning to lose my tan. Besides, something wasn't right. I've consulted with both the Gundriss and Sorge of the great HighDigger; wrapped in superstitions yarns, trying my damndest to read the signs not read, the whole enchilada, and what it basically comes down to in paraphrase is this: You don't have to travel to find what you need, chances are you can dig where you are and find it."

"Is that from the HighDigger?"

"No. Sherry Aims, Folk nurse." replied Angus, as he got up, stretched, and moved further back into the cave.

The Lady soon followed, and found herself being peppered with bits of dirt from the cavern floor. She shielded her eyes, and squinted to see Angus the Wondermutt digging furiously. He paused and looked over his shoulder at her "What do you know about the forests of Chinee?" he asked.

"Not much." she replied, moving forward towards the gaping hole in the ground "Filthy dragons, great noodles.." she then saw the contents of the hole and gasped: "Is that? It can't be? Panda's box?"

"One of the pair, yes. Mick the Magnificent holds the other. We found Ling-Ling and Sing-Sing opened and looted in the caverns of Sigma Chi. I've been trying to recollect the notes and put them back in the box, but I tell you, it's more trouble than it's worth."

Angus took the box and headed back out to the fire. The Lady followed once again, and watched Angus begin to take the bats off the ceiling one by one. When her eyes adjusted to the bright light of the fire, she realized that they were notes, not bats. Notes captured in the storms and hung on the ceiling to dry. Angus collected an armload and looked at the Lady: "You might want to stand back, this can get ugly sometimes." With his free hand, he flipped the catch on the box and began the fiercest growling both the Lady, and the notes, had ever heard. The notes in the box lost their cacophony and cowered in the back, too afraid to run, while Angus shoved a handful of their brethren in beside them, and slammed the lid.

"That's it?" asked the Lady, after the polite pause for effect.

"Not much to it, is there? Wanna go for a walk?"

"Well," she replied "it would certainly beat sitting here watching you lick yourself for an hour."

"We could go chase some hobbits?"

"You mean rabbits?"

"Yeah, that's what I said, rabbits...."


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 03:46 PM

Arf!


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Amos
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 04:10 PM

ROTFLMAO!

You still got the fine touch, Jen! Angus chasing hobbits is a picture I won't be able to get out of my mind for a week!!

A


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: JenEllen
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 01:16 PM

Yeah, reverting to adolescence here in my valiant attempt to do anything but study.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Amos
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 02:05 PM

(OK, you -- back to the third-shell bond analyses!) :>)

A


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: JenEllen
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 03:31 PM

Shir'Lee studied the piece of paper in her hand. Life on the little farm at the edge of the forest wasn't all that bad, if you didn't mind being raided constantly and having your thatch lit on fire fortnightly, but this piece of paper provided one thing she couldn't find on the farm.....hope.

THE RONNIE SPECTER ACADEMY promised hope. THE RONNIE SPECTER ACADEMY promised lots of fun with girls her own age. At THE RONNIE SPECTER ACADEMY she could make a difference and fight for what she believed in. THE RONNIE SPECTER ACADEMY would give her a leg up in the world, because loads of graduates of THE RONNIE SPECTER ACADEMY went on to be high priestesses, fairy queens, and wise women. If she'd had so much as a bag to pack, she'd have packed it by now.

As it was, she waited patiently at the side of the dirt road. Days went by before she saw the column approaching. Girls, just like her, marching in formation led by two enormous orcs. She quickly fell in step and walked with them.

When they reached the center of the forest, one of the orcs went to the head of the line and pushed a knot on the tree. With a perfumed 'woosh', a secret door in the tree opened up to reveal the main hall of the Academy. Shir'Lee wandered around in near disbelief, while a cloud on the ceiling rained down silver dream glitter on the girls. She noticed all of the precepts mingled with the girls in the hall, pouring glasses of diet cola and carrying trays of marshmallow peeps.

Shir'Lee cautiously made her way to the edge of a chattering group of initiates.
"I want to be in the Soopreem's house. It's the best house by far."
"What about Shangrula's house? That's where I want to go."
"It's Marvulet's for me, all the way."
"Let's just hope we don't get stuck in the Vandallas!"
"Ooooh, YES!" all the girls nodded

Shir'Lee didn't have the faintest idea what was going on, but by further eavesdropping (and equal opportunity literary scavenging) she realized that she would be placed in a house based solely on the direction of a magical pair of silver sequined pumps. She wasn't terribly worried at first, the Shangrula girls seemed okay, not as smart as the Marvulets, that's for certain, but after seeing the shiny faced girls of the Soopreem house, she didn't think she was Soopreem material, and anything was better than being shoved in close quarters with the squinty-eyed Vandallas.

Shir'Lee got in line with the other girls, and waited nervously as each proclaimation was made: "Vandalla" "Shangrula" "Soopreem" "Marvulet". When it was her turn, she cautiously stepped into the shoes, and felt them squeeze in tight around her feet. The room became silent, for what to Shir'Lee seemed like an interminably long time, before the shoes called out: "Shangrula!"

Shir'Lee kicked off the shoes, and ran to join her housemates at the Shangrula table. When the decisions were made, the girls went to their respective houses. The initiates then went through the customary RONNIE SPECTER transformation, lining up single-file to receive their shimmy-mini-skirts, fake eyelashes, coordinated fake purse, and mandatory beehive hair-do. They received their class schedule, and Shir'Lee was delighted to see she got Pillowfighting as well as Synchronized Baby-Baby Backup Dancing. She also noticed that a majority of her classes were in the SPECTERARTS; the sung-fu fighting style of the Great One.

The house mother waited for the excitement to die down a bit before calling order. She explained to the girls the history of Shangrula, and how the house was know to foster the fiercest fighters in all of the Gurlgroops, and most certainly in all of MiddleMax. The girls nodded as one, sedated and entirely brain-washable due to the magic spell that was cast on the marshmallow peeps they'd eaten earlier. When the wash was complete, the girls were hung out to dry. They got in line for demonstrations on how to use the razor-edged powderpuffs and mystical hair-spray cans they each had been given in their purses before traveling on to the SPECTERARACHARIA where they were to receive their own pregnant spider, to be placed gently inside their hair-do, so that in case of certain capture, they could crack open their hair to release zillions of tiny poisonous spiders to devour their attackers.

And through all of this, in a castle far from the Academy in MiddleMax, sat Maurawn. He knew the Gurlgroop training was nearly complete, and that very soon, the G-Chord would be his.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Amos
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 03:45 PM

Oh, my GAWD!! ROTFLMAO. Middle Max is in deep doodoo now!!

A


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: JenEllen
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 04:49 PM

Hey, just be thankful I stopped before Shir'Lee figured out the little voice in her head was a little voice on her head, in the form of a poisonous spider named Sharlott who saves Shir'Lee's life by weaving bouffant webs proclaiming "SOME GURL" before succumbing to an impossibly short lifespan and spewing scads of parachuting baby spiders all over MiddleMax.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Amos
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 06:57 PM

SOME GURL!! Mythology meets Vita-Mix -- film at eleven!! LOL!

A


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 07:12 PM

My GAWD! That is the most chilling and truly horrifying thing I have heard yet! This bastard Mauron has simply got to be stopped! If Janet hears about that academy, she'll be there in a flash. The place was made for a girl like her.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 09:34 PM

Brad was struck by two things as they made their way East toward the borders of Clennor. One
was the astounding beauty of the countryside, which was utterly unspoiled and rich with wildlife
of many kinds...deer, squirrels, rabbits, and gophers abounded, as did a great variety of colourful
songbirds. Once they saw a large brown bear, which regarded them calmly and then moved off
into the cover of nearby trees. The thicker forest lands around Harmony Stream had gradually
given way to gently rolling hills dotted with smaller groves of fruit trees and flowered meadows,
and there were numerous clear streams from which to drink whenever one was thirsty.

The other thing that struck Brad was how out of shape he was. His last 2 years of sitting behind a
corporate desk had been financially beneficial, but had done nothing to condition his muscles,
which had grown soft and were now crying out at the unaccustomed exercise thrust upon them.
Janet was in even worse shape and appeared to be on the edge of becoming hysterical, having
exhausted her usual litany of complaints and objections which the Elves had seemed to pay little
mind to.

*She's going to create a scene any time now,* sent Dawntreader silently to Red Wolf.

*Yes,* sent back Red Wolf. *She has the discipline of a 3 year old child. What say we just
'abandon' her and see what she does?*

*The trouble is, Brad would stay back with her,* sent back Dawntreader. *He's 'under her
thumb', as they say. I suppose we'll have to have another 'rest' soon. Does that make 5 now...or
6?   They act as if they've never learned to do anything in their whole lives except talk.*

*Brad is willing, though,* sent Red Wolf. *That's a good sign.*

Brad had wondered at the long silences of the Elves, but he was too tired to give it much thought.
Besides, his attention was more on Janet at the moment, wondering when the next storm would
break.   He paused at the crest of a little rise, and wiped his hand across his sweaty brow wearily,
squinting into the bright sunlight. For a moment it dazzled him, and he thought he saw an angel,
mounted on a great steed. He shook his head, wiped his eyes and looked again. It was an angel,
her flowing hair lit with golden rays that poured around her shoulders and sparkled on chain mail
and leather harness. Brad stared at her in wonder, and nearly fell to his knees as the horse
whinnied, and she swung lightly down from the saddle.

She looked at Brad curiously, then past him and her eyes lit with joy. "Red Wolf!" she cried.

"Singing Rune!" came the eager reply and Red Wolf strode forward, hands outstretched. They
joined hands and literally danced for delight in one another.

"Hello, fair one," said Dawntreader, smiling brightly, and greeting her in turn with a kiss on the
cheek. "What news of doings in Clennor, and what brings you hence?"

"Oh, great..." muttered Janet under her breath. "It must be the local prom queen."

As for Febig, he peeped out shyly from under his cowl, having a hard time seeing in the direct
sunlight. He was at least as impressed as Brad, if not more so. "This must be an Elf warrior
princess!" he thought. "How happy she looks! Not cold at all, like I'd heard they were..."

"There are strange doings about the borders of Clennor," spoke Singing Rune, "and we have
unexpected visitors too. I thought it as well to see what you were about, and bring you back
home as soon as possible if I could find you, which I have," she observed with cheerful
satisfaction. "You have some unusual companions I see. Who...and what...are they?"

"These are two humans we rescued from some Orcs," replied Red Wolf. "Ex-Orcs, I might
say...as they are dead now. This is 'Brad Baxter'," he explained, feeling the odd sound of
'Baxter' in his mouth (it sounded like some kind of furry ground-dwelling animal to Red Wolf),
"and this is his bride, Janet."

"Delighted to meet you," said Janet, smiling with her teeth, but not with her eyes. Brad mumbled
something indistinguishable, and bowed slightly.

"And this...person?" queried Singing Rune, gazing penetratingly at Febig, who was well hidden
under his Ranger gear, and knitting her brows.

"Ah!" said Dawntreader, "Well, he's...a halfling."

"With a skin ailment," added Red Wolf, sharing a momentary amused glance with Dawntreader.

The golden-haired Elf maiden took a long and sceptical look at Febig, then gestured to the two
Elf warriors to step off to one side.

"Now look," she said evenly. "I am not such a fool as not to recognize an Orc, even if he is a
very small Orc and all covered up. What under the shining sun are you doing with an Orc in your
company?"

Red Wolf chuckled. "I knew we couldn't fool you, Rune. He's Dawntreader's pet Orc, you see.
There's a first time for everything."

"Dawntreader?" questioned the shieldmaiden, eyeing him rather severely, but prepared to hear
him out.

"Red Wolf is having some fun at my expense," answered Dawntreader. "This little Orc threw
himself upon our mercy after we had slain all his comrades...and he could easily have just slipped
away...but he chose to surrender. It is my belief that he is basically trustworthy, and my heart said
that we should take him under our protection. I have learned to trust my heart when it speaks."

"I see," said Singing Rune. "That's extraordinary. Surely you do not intend to bring him into
Clennor?"

"No," agreed Dawntreader, "I had thought to encamp him near the Enchanted Grove for a time,
until he has proven himself for well or for ill. There are ways in which we may determine his true
intentions. If they are good, he could prove invaluable. There is a war coming, and it will involve
not hundreds, but many thousands of his kinsmen. He has already given us much useful
information about that."

"Even more extraordinary!" said Singing Rune. "And you are right. War comes upon us
fleetfooted. I will speak to him. Those two humans look ready to drop. I suggest a short
campment here. I must know more about the Orc."

"An excellent suggestion," agreed Red Wolf. "By the way," he added, "I agree entirely with
Dawntreader, even though my first impulse was to kill the little lurker. His name is Febig."

"Febig, is it? A perfect Orc name. Well, we shall see about this Febig."

A suitable camping spot was found next to a handy pond, and Dawntreader set about showing the
horse to Brad and Janet. Red Wolf prepared a fire, and began brewing wild tea, while Singing
Rune sat down calmly opposite Febig, who was peeping nervously out from his shroud like a
chipmunk might when a cat sits waiting outside his hole.

"Do...do you have magic powers?" he quavered.

"Of course," she replied lightly. "Everyone does. The important thing is what they choose to do
with those powers. What magic powers do you have?"

"Me?" gasped Febig. "I...um...I don't know..."

"You can think, can't you?" asked Rune.

"Yes! Yes, Febig can think. In fact among Orcs Febig is a very good thinker. Not the best,
maybe, but a good one."

"Excellent! And is thinking not a kind of magic?"
                                                                                
"Well...I suppose...but I never thought..."

"You can feel, yes?" she went on. "That is another magic. Tell me what you feel."

"I feel...small," said Febig. "Febig has always felt small. I usually feel afraid, but that is normal,
because it is fear that makes for quick obeying of orders. Often I feel hungry, but that is not so
worrisome now, because in this party everyone shares the food equally. I'm not used to that.
Febig's honoured Masters, the great Elf warriors Red Wolf and Dawntreader have deigned to
share their food equally with their miserable servant. They are very kind-hearted. Dawntreader
speaks to me as if I were his friend. Febig has never known such kindness. Febig wishes he could
do something in return for Dawntreader."

"You already have, Febig," said Singing Rune, her expression softening. "In fact, I believe you
have wrought a small miracle. I promise you that the time will come when you can do even
greater things for Dawntreader and for others like him. I have seen your soul, Febig, only a
merest glimpse, but I have seen it. Tell me, does the sun trouble you much?"

"It hurts my eyes," said Febig, "but not so badly as I expected. It makes everything very shiny
and the colours are much brighter. I like it better in the morning and the evening. Midday is too
much hot brightness, but I just go into a shady spot and nap if I can or Dawntreader covers me up
and carries me if we must keep moving."

"That is good," said Singing Rune, smiling graciously. "Take the sun in little bits. We will talk more about this later."

"The Lady is very kind," replied Febig, and he bowed low, much relieved that she had not seen fit
to turn him into a toad or something like that.

*Well, Rune?* sent Dawntreader, from across the fire.

*It is well,* she replied. *You have done exactly as I should do in the same circumstance. By the
way, you may notice something...he will use the words 'I' and 'my' a good deal more now, as he
gains confidence. He himself has not even noticed the change, but watch for it. I had heard that
Orcs have no souls in the conscious sense, but this one does. He has already partly awoken to a
glimpse of his greater self. If that is possible in an Orc....*

*Then, perhaps anything is possible,* sent Dawntreader, completing her thought.

*Exactly,* answered Singing Rune. *We are on the cusp of great times, my friend. I have never
doubted it.*

                                * * * * * *

Far off in the remote fastnesses of Defcon Warguile stood a massive structure named the
Septagon. It had seven angled sides, cunningly fashioned to look precisely equal in dimension,
and yet they were not....the dimensions were off by an angle of 666 thousandths of one degree to
the right when viewed from above or to the side. This fact was known only to top level initiates,
who were sworn to secrecy on pain of atomization.

"You see," Mauron explained to his Nazghoul commanders, "there is an error in Creation. An
enormous and basic error. Some morally-minded fools call it 'original sin', but I prefer to call
it.....................Chaos Theory!"

He smirked, and looked around to see if his words had struck the appropriate degree of terror
into the hearts of his underlings.

"We have reproduced this error deliberately in the Septagon in order to harness the downward
spiralling forces of Chaos that inevitably cause all things to fall into destruction and decay, and
thus bend them to My Will, for I am the very hand and eye of Chaos and Darkness, as you well
know."

"We know it, Lord Mauron!" chanted the Nazghouls. "Hail Mauron!!!"

Mauron basked in their cheers, and then raised his hand for silence.

"There are fools out there," he sneered, "who actually think life is good! How pathetic! How
ridiculous! They deny the evidence of their own eyes! Show me anything you can find, and I'll
show you that it has something fatally wrong with it, something missing, something NOT perfect.
If there's one thing that is blatantly obvious in this world it is that everything is basically out of
kilter...like this building."

"The crucial difference, however, is this: this building is out of kilter by design! Yes, my friends,
by cunning design! And it is due to that cunning, that impeccable sense of hard reality and dire
purpose that we, the chosen few, the illuminated sons of Darkness, shall rule over this fractured
and abandoned World, for we know why it must be fractured...because that is the way of all that
IS and even all that IS NOT!!!"

Mauron took a deep breath to calm himself. It was quite hard to remain dispassionate when
stating such powerful truths..."But I must set an example for these wretches," he thought.

"There are bleeding hearts out there, Elves, halflings, and even some humans, who think that life
is about love! Ha! I laugh in total derision at them! What is life about...number 5?" He fixed a
basilisk stare on the 5th Nazghoul.

"Um...Looking out for number 1," said the Nazghoul cautiously. "And accumulating power and
money."

"That's true," said Mauron, placing his fingertips together and leaning back pensively. "And who
is number 1, pray tell?"

"You are, Lord Mauron!"

"Correct again. And what else is life about? Number 7?"

"Control," said the 7th Nazghoul darkly, "and to control one must inspire great fear in all who are
weaker."

"Absolutely!" hissed Mauron, rising suddenly erect on his throne and opening his eyes wide.
"You have hit upon the crux of the matter. I am glad to see that my officers have been studying
the basic principles. Officers who don't study them end up dead, but first they suffer...miserably.
I would not want to see that happen to any of you, my friends, for you are as close to me as the
fingers on my own two hands. Therefore, study on these things, learn them well, and never fail
through some hidden human weakness to apply them without mercy on those weaker than
yourselves, for it is written that the weak shall perish and only the strong survive!!!"

He thundered out the last words, and pounded his mailed fist on the table to emphasize the point.
("Damn!" he muttered underneath his breath, regarding his right hand with some alarm, and
placing it carefully under the table. No one seemed to notice.)

"Enough of that," he continued. "I have a matter of the utmost urgency for which I summoned all
of you here, you my chosen lieutenants, the master gears in my well-oiled machine, and can any of
you guess what it is?"

No one spoke, as they were all afraid of being embarrassed...or executed...on account of saying
the wrong thing.

"No? No one? Not one little peep from any of you?" He stared contemptuously around at the
silent Nazghouls.   "Very well. My wizards have informed me that a recent terrible spell which
they cast not one week ago has borne awesome fruit. There is now a great talisman in
MiddleMax. It has been forged by a mighty and omnipotent power at the very heart of Chaos
Theory. If we can lay our hands upon this talisman, all MiddleMax shall fall to the power of
Mauron. Not even the Elves will stand. We shall rule the World for all eternity!"

This was the kind of thing the Nazghouls loved to hear.   "HAIL MAURON!!!" They chanted,
over and over, raising their mailed fists in salute.

The mighty Mauron raised his hand (the left one) for silence again. "There are one or two te-e-e-
e-eny little problems, however. It figures!" he grumbled. " There are alway problems. Life is
basically rotten, let's face it, but adversity builds character...that's what my Father always said,
back when he was trying to use the Ring. Remember the Ring? So...here's how it is, people: We
don't know where the talisman is, we don't know what it looks like, we don't know who made it,
and we don't know who presently has it in his possession...but I can tell you this...whoever it is,
he must be a total idiot or he would have taken over the World himself by now! That's how
powerful the dread talisman is!"

"Couldn't your wizards find out where it is, what it looks like, who has it, and...what was the
other part?" asked Nazghoul number 9.

"You would think so, wouldn't you," answered Mauron bitterly. "But no! Not one of them can
tell me anything about it except what I've just told you. I've already boiled five of them in oil and
had a 6th one devoured slowly by red ants, and it did no good whatsoever. Oh, they made up
some outrageous lies, of course, to try to save their skins. You've probably been wondering why
we're presently launching so many covert missions and seemingly haphazard raids all over
MiddleMax ...raids which may cost us grievous losses and will certainly alert both Elves and Men
to the fact that Defcon Warguile is on the move...well, it's because of those idiot wizards making
up stories about the whereabouts of the talisman to save their worthless lives."

"So, gentlemen, I am putting the task before you. You must use every subtle and darkest sense at
your command to sniff out this terrible token, this small but irresistible weapon of ultimate power.
It may be in the form of a necklace, a bracelet, a badge, or a jewelled ornament. Look
everywhere!   Use every agent, every Orc, every barrow-wight and Troll, every dissolute and
corrupted Human, and spare no expense!   Search all MiddleMax, and do not return until you
have the talisman or at least some real information as to its whereabouts! The countdown starts
now, and the clock is ticking. Get to it! Dismissed! All except for you, Number 7!"

The other Nazghouls made haste to leave, and clattered out into the antechamber where they
began arguing fractiously over what to do next. "We're looking for the smallest needle in the
biggest haystack that ever existed in all eternity," muttered Number 2 to Number 5. "I should
have enlisted for overseas service!"

"Don't think this won't go overseas before it's through!" retorted Number 5.

Meanwhile, Mauron was quizzing Number 7 about the general military situation in the West and
the Shatnir problem.

"I appears, Lord Mauron, that the Orc-Rap had the desired effect, but only to a point. Shatnir
woke up and got angry, as expected. Unfortunately he chose to go underground and vent his
anger on our Orcs.. It is my opinion that we should try the same procedure again, but this time
position our musicians outside the cave instead of underground. It may, however, be difficult to
find a unit willing to perform such duty..."

"Are you telling me that our troops can't be trusted to obey orders?" grated Mauron, narrowing
his eyes ominously.

"With due respect, I'm telling you that they'll all run away, Lord," replied Number 7. "It's a
disgrace, but there it is. Shatnir melted his way through at least three hundred feet of solid virgin
rock at Carad Nuath. He's even more powerful than we had expected. I fear that our whole
army would break and run if asked to openly provoke him again."

"I see," mused Mauron. "Well...then we must find another way. We must find someone
incredibly brave...or..." his eyes lit up "...incredibly stupid! Yes, that's it," he declared, forcefully.
"Do not concern yourself further with this, Number 7, I and I alone shall find the perfect answer
to the Shatnir problem. Now go and see to the initial positioning of our strike forces on the
western borders of Defcon Warguile, and then find that bloody talisman. MiddleMax hangs in the
balance!"

"Hail Mauron!" barked Number 7, and walked out.

"Someone incredibly stupid," repeated Mauron softly. "Incredibly stupid. Hmm. Shouldn't be
too hard to find...."

                                        * * * * * * *


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: GUEST,joe
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 07:20 PM

you rang?


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: GUEST,a minion of Mauron
Date: 26 Jan 03 - 11:25 PM

We will consider your offer, joe. Present yourself at the gates of Defcon Warguile, holding a sign saying "I am very stupid and entirely willing"...or if you can't afford to travel there, just approach any wandering group of Orcs you happen to come across and keep yelling "Hail Mauron! Mauron Rules!" loudly, so they don't kill you accidentally in their enthusiasm. Be assured joe, we will find a place for you on our team.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: winterchild
Date: 27 Jan 03 - 12:39 AM

ROFLMAO!!!

This stuff is great!

WinterC


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: winterchild
Date: 28 Jan 03 - 03:36 PM

??????
.........where'd the rest of this thread go?
('though that was a nice choice of break; right after Amos' "Tolkein blues"!)

WinterC


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 29 Jan 03 - 01:40 PM

It's all here, as far as I can see, but everyone's taking a break for the moment. Telling the entire tale of MiddleMax is an immense job, and some of us are short of available time.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: MMario
Date: 29 Jan 03 - 01:47 PM

MiddleMax is temporarily closed for the Festival of LilyAni


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: GUEST,joe
Date: 12 Feb 03 - 11:43 PM

are we there yet?


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Amos
Date: 31 Dec 03 - 12:48 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 31 Dec 03 - 01:32 PM

Ahhh...this one. Well, I've had a lot of good ideas for it over the past year, but am now engaged in the Chongo Chimp epic, so it will have to wait.

See ya in Chicago.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: wayland
Date: 11 Jul 07 - 09:48 AM

Suddenly, Numnutz stumbled into the interior of old man willow. "Mind the step", screeched Iscur. As Numbnutz lay on the floor, a man bounded over him, the door slamming behind. "Slider!" exclaimed Iscur. "You are trebly welcome here!", she said, gripping his glass-coated fingers. "We have missed your inimitable guitar-playing".

She resumed her seat, and continued her banjo-playing, accompanying Fret's G-chord. As Slider pulled out his axe, and began to play slide, Merrygrin and Periodic could be heard fiddling with the door-handle, as well as their fiddles. Numbnutz opened the door to see what the noise was, and then removed the doorknob as Merrygrin and Periodic entered, fiddling festively. Numbnutz collected all the pan-lids he could, and, drooling out both sides of his mouth (the floor was level), began the percussion section.

Huwgee pottered around, helping collect more lids for Numbnutz, offering people microphones that they didn't want, and adjusting his mixer. Even Numbnutz had always wondered why Huwgee lugged a cake mixer around, but the roadie section of the Hobbit community was always regarded as even dumber than drummer Dwarves.

    *****

Mudyl awoke to find someone holding splinters of a lap-harp to her throat.

"What business have you here stranger?", asked a strange voice not belonging to the lap-harp holder.

Mudyl heard Corgwyn say "We're going to Harmoni-something to find a wizard to teach me harmonics."

"Alas, alack, and aloof", replied the voice. "D'kat, free the other; these pose no threat". As Mudyl arose, the voice introduced itself as Spawpir, and continued, "There are no more harmonics in Harmonia, and will not be until the G-chord and its brethren are free.

"How can this be achieved?", inquired Corgwyn.

"We have directions", replied D'kat. "We follow this map, and seek the G-spot".

"But in the meantime, let us have music", interjected D'kat, as Corgwyn stifled a snort of laughter at Spawpir's words. D'kat pulled out a cheap (but not too cheap) lap harp that she was using until she found a worthy replacement for the broken one. Spawpir joined in on bouzouki, Corgwyn played guitar, and Mudlarkian improvised, using the broken lap-harp as a bodhran.

    *****

"Let me tell you my story", said Kendalf, looking Rick O'the Fielding, (Elfking, Grand Poobah of music, and dilettante taxidermist) in his steel eyes. "A span of days ago, I left Fret and Numbnutz heading for the home of Iscur Treble. On my way here, I received a message from Little Hawk that Shatnir is stirring, and may soon plague the lands of men, dwarves and hobbits. Oh, and elves too, I forgot them. Anyway, I'm here to grab a couple of your poncy subjects; I need them to keep the hobbits in line, see things that are far away, seduce women who have something we need; all the traditional elvish roles in the quest".

"I'm afraid that only Red Wolf and Dawntreader are available at the moment. They also have some companions attached at present, but if you take them too, you can have them".

"Well, any companions of an elf will be fine. At least we know they won't be orcs, hey?", replied Kendalf. Rick grinned at this.

"Well, I guess you'd better be getting back to Fret", said Rick. "Red Wolf and the others will find you on your way out of the forest".

    *****

Kendalf raced into the clearing in horror. "No, no, stop that!", he wailed.

As the group stopped, Red Wolf looked up from his electric bass. "You know we play electric folk, in the manner of the yearly convention held at the fair elvish port".

"That's right", replied Dawntreader from behind his electric dulcimer. "Even if these newcomers play like a Bent angle, electric folk is still the way to go. Brad looked up from his inept but improving guitar playing with a grin and a puzzled look. Fortunately Kendalf didn't recognise Febig's species under his dark cloak.

*Janet Baxter will never sing like the prior mad singer*, Little Hawk sent to the elves.

    *****

[Well, I've brought some of the characters together. Note that there's a potential for conflict between the Irish music, the American folk, and the (British-style) electric folk. If someone wants to continue some of it, feel free. With apologies for the bolded electric folk puns.]


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: MMario
Date: 11 Jul 07 - 11:47 AM

MIDDLEMAX LIVES!


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Little Hawk
Date: 11 Jul 07 - 12:26 PM

Good Lord. What an incredible bastardization of Tolkien's world. ;-) MMario, when are you next playing Skaneateles?


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 11 Jul 07 - 08:01 PM

Actually, there is an Aussie who manages to do a version of LOTR in song... :-)


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: katlaughing
Date: 11 Jul 07 - 09:31 PM

What a blast! I'd forgotten about this one!


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: JennyO
Date: 12 Jul 07 - 11:24 AM

Foolestroupe, you would of course be speaking of Martin Pearson, and his "Bolkein" series.

Here is a review of one of his performances at The Loaded Dog. The picture in the article happens to be a Christmas BBQ and session we had in our backyard a couple of years ago. Martin (in the centre) had just said something funny (he's like that off stage as well as on) and everybody was cracking up laughing - especially John. Martin Pearson is a very funny man.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 12 Jul 07 - 02:23 PM

We saw Martin at Warwick Folk Fest (UK) last Summer.
Very funny
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: wayland
Date: 13 Jul 07 - 10:05 AM

As the band played, Iscur sang:

Slider, will you lead this party?
Fret is not a real smarty;
The reason he brought Numbnutz back
Was cause he couldn't find the track

Duck O'the Boots left some marks
Big red spots that shoot out sparks.
But Fret couldn't see them though he ought
to, he's just to short.

Hugwee joined in on his Yammerhammer, and everyone stopped to clap their hands over their ears. "Not in my house", screeched Iscur, pushing him from the door so that he fell from the tree in a
cacophony of sound.   As he passed out, he began dreaming of the fully automatic Yammerhammer he wanted to design; that would make his place in history the size of an obelisk,
instead of just a little asterisk.

"Not me" said Slider. "I've got gigs to play in the Shire, and I'm trying to arrange tours of Harmonia and Nyew Joysee".

Iscur showed him a picture of Duck, but whipped it away quickly to protect it from the fountain of drool that erupted from Slider's lips. "She's gone on ahead, but won't talk to you unless you have
Fret with you", said Iscur.

Slider was all for setting out immediately, but Iscur prevailed upon him to stay while she repacked everyone's luggage for a party of 7 instead of 2 "For you never know when Kendalf will turn up", she
explained.

    *****

As they walked through the forest, Slider all but dragging Fret along, they heard a voice like Bob Dylan singing in the style of Johnny Cash:

(to the tune of "Nine pound hammer")

That precious G-chord
Is a little too loud
For my ears,
Garthon, for my ears

Swim on Fishy,
Don't you swim so fast
Then I'll catch you
And eat you at last

I'm a going on a big quest
Gonna see my precious
And I ain't comin' back
'Til I'm on the gold track

When I'm long gone
You can build my tune stone
Outta number I chords,
Outta number I chords.

There ain't no G-chord
In this clearing
Got a ring like mine,
Got a ring like mine.

It was clear to all except Hugwee that the sound was a menace to all right-thinking creatures. It was slightly worse than Orc-rap and the Heavy Metal of the Riders of Dissonance, and only slightly
better than the atonal music of Mauron himself. It sounded like someone was playing both kinds of music (Country & Western), but hadn't tuned the banjo to the same key, or even to semitone intervals.

Following the lead of Numbnutz, they all sprang into the clearing and levelled various unpleasant devices at him -- in Hugwee's case, his face.

Garthon (for it was he) dashed out of the clearing, but concussed himself on the head of Fret, who was still hiding in the bushes. As he grovelled in a confused way, Fret commanded "Back!"

Garthon sprang for Fret's neck and the G-chord, before being struck aside by Slider's glass fingers. "Seagull will have the G-chord yet, and then Fret will sweat", he screeched as he fled. However,
he should've looked where he was going, because he collided with Numbnutz, and made the name of the latter accurate.

"Who is this Seagull, and who are you", Fret wondered.

"Seagull means me, Garthon means me, soon you shall see, and dumb you'll be"

"What?", mumbled Periodic in confusion.

"Yessus, bless us, precious; he says-us 'What!'", Garthon mumbled through the banjo he had caught up in his mouth. Springing over the still-prone body of Numbnutz, he fled. They could hear his cries
of "Arr, matey", "Sureya-betcha", "Jolly good show", "Foot-e-scray", "Umgawa", and "Bonsai" fading into the distance.

Slider looked in his pocket at the picture of Duck that he had pinched from Iscur. "We don't have time for this".

    *****

The sound of one part of "Duelling Banjos" could be heard coming down the trail ahead. "It's that Albatross, or whatever his name is", opined Merrygrin. Instruments of destruction were drawn as the
party stepped off the path into the bushes. In a moment, everyone knew from the beard that the newcomer wasn't Garthon.

Numbnutz sprang from the undergrowth with a cry. "Wodda, son of Woden and Rhonda".

Wodda stopped running. "Kendalf! I need to find Kendalf! The Riders of Dissonance are abroad!"

    *****

As they sat around the fire, Wodda burbled on. "I was named for Wodda Joke, who was named for Wodda Nidiot".

"What's with that assonance crowd you mentioned?", quested Periodic.

"The Riders of Dissonance!", blurted Wodda, with a fearful glance around. "Surely you know of them! They are abroad, seeking the G-chord on behalf of Mauron! I need to find Kendalf -- only he can
save us now!".

Fret withdrew the G-chord. "You'll be more use here, I think", said Slider. The others stared at him in astonishment. Well, not at him, but behind him. He turned to behold Duck.

"I wondered what was keeping you", she said as Slider asked "Do you come here often? Pardon me, have you seen my missing Nobel Prize around here anywhere?"

    *****

Fret ran. And ran. The horses followed.

The Riders of Dissonance had surprised them in their camp. They looked like chubby accountants in black cloaks, except for the fact that they were headless. As they entered the clearing, they
screamed in distorted voices, going up and down in parallel fifths.

"We are the Riders of Dissonance", screamed Wang-mar, as most of his followers screamed "I'm a negative creep" (with one screaming "I need a drink" at the same time -- he was a bit confused).

"We deal ... with Artists and Recordings", Wang-mar continued, as his followers screamed "Hold your breath inside, wait for death".

"We demand the G-chord", Wang-mar bellowed, his followers disharmonising "Seek and Destroy".

"Whether your life goes with G-chord, or with your body, we don't much mind". "Am I evil? Yes I am. Am I evil? I am man, yes I am".

Suddenly Fret found himself on his back as a wall of sound rolled over him. "Phil Spector's got nothing on that", he thought.

Duck's cannon had temporarily cleared away the headless A&R men. Fret observed that it said "Pachebel's Canon" on one side. Duck turned and led the way from the clearing, saying "They'll be back".
Fret noticed the other side of the cannon said "For use in 1812 Overture".

As Fret continued to flee, he could hear Duck explaining to Slider "Art music has its uses, you see...". But he focussed on fleeing, and didn't hear the rest, except Slider's response of "Damn,
that's one lucky pair of trousers you're wearing!".

    *****


-       With apologies to the Americans for the Asterix and Obelix jokes
-       With apologies also to Hugwee for deforming his character so -- he can feel free to disown the character as I wrote it.
-       I hesitate to do much more to Red Wolf's party, as I'm not up to Little Hawk's standard. Other than suggesting he have his party (with Kendalf) head towards Harmony Stream (see above), I hope
       to leave things in those able hands.
-       How's my writing?


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Amos
Date: 13 Jul 07 - 10:16 AM

Fascinating. Good job.

A


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: wayland
Date: 14 Jul 07 - 04:05 AM

Arachnicia sat at the bar drinking. As you do. She looked slightly
less grim than usual. This was because feeling grim was taking
all her spare energy, and she didn't feel up to the effort of looking
grim and gothic, her usual stock-in-trade.

The bartenders sat behind the bar washing dishes. She knew it was a
not-so-subtle hint that it was well past closing time. But she knew
there would be no trouble from them. Her sharp ears had already
overheard many times that day about how the late Thommo was found with
not a drop of blood in his body. That was the story at the start of the
day; by now, he'd also been found in the river with his family (not
alone in his bed), and thirty men and a dog were somehow involved. But
it kept the trouble down.

The same with Dr. Freud. He said that her singleness was a result of
her vampiric tendancies, her age, her vampiric tendencies, the male
desire to remain alive and human, and the fact that any worthwhile men
in the area had already gone adventuring. She'd even left a message on
the wall of the men's room -- "For a good tune, call the Comtessa
Arachnicia Morte Sanguinbibious Dellacrowley Vampyr". She'd even added
her special number, 1-800-DRINK-BLOOD. No response. Well, she'd had
enough of Dr. Freud and his theories. She'd show him what a good tune
was like. Not the folk stuff they listened to around here, but, oh,
maybe something about an
Evil Night Together would fit the bill.

She slammed her glass down, and stood, to the relief of the bartenders.
Enough of drinking this so-called beer. She liked bier better, but it
didn't do to whine; it was much easier to mead people if you weren't
ailing. She whisked out the door.

A few minutes later, a termite crawled onto the bar. "Is the bar tender
here?" he asked. He was duly pun-ished.

    *****

Wang-mar brooded. The G-chord had escaped again. As he brooded, he
generalised. 'Wang-mar', he grimaced to himself. What sort of
terrifying name is that? A scary name ought to have more of S and Z,
and fewer vowels. But nooooo. Wang-mar they'd insisted on calling him
ever since he'd put white-out on that Wang monitor, instead of using the
backspace key. ARGH!!!!!

With an effort, he suppressed his brooding. It was worthwhile paying
attention when Mauron was speaking; at least, if you wanted to remain in
Middlemax.

"...so it could be a self-solving problem", Mauron was saying.
"Sorry-arse has drowned ten thousand of our orcs. He's clearly trying
to get the G-chord for himself. So what we do, is we dress this 'Joe'
as an agent of Sorry-arse, send him to Shatnir, and have him tell him
that Sorry-arse has captured all sounds for himself, and that as soon as
he has the G-chord, the only remaining music will be Orc-rap. That
sounds fairly self-solving, wouln't you say?".

"Wow, sir, that's really leveraging your synergies!", Wang-mar replied,
feeling that something of the sort was required, but still not
understanding the plan.

    *****

Fret panted with relief. Fortunately, Balboadil's Entwhistle had driven
away the Riders of Dissonance. Temporarily. Now they were again
crossing the River Rappisfolk again. In a boat. Fret tensed. He
remembered his last bath, five years ago. It was interesting, but once
was enough.

A wave splashed over the side. Fret threw off his hoodie before the
water got to his skin. Just as well.

Suddenly, Balboadil sat up alertly. Another band-in-a-boat was floating
down the river. As the other boat passed, Slider tried to spring
aboard, shouting "Fifteen men on a dead man's chest". Duck still wasn't
impressed, and nor were the band-in-a-boat. They began singing
The Worst Pirate Song. Balboadil piloted the boat to the opposite side.

As they left the boat, Balboadil gave Fret the shirt he was wearing.
"Not much good to me now that you've touched it", he said by way of
explanation. Fret put it on. It had a collar. He undid a few buttons,
to get the unfamiliar feel of the collar away from his neck. He heard
Kendalf muttering something about "gold chains next", but didn't may
much attention.

"What shall we call our band", he wondered aloud as he walked along.

"Folkralicious".

"Delightfolk".

"Tradtacular".

The suggestions came from all around. But Duck dissed all suggestions,
and Slider followed her lead (and interjected "What do you do for a
living?").

Finally, Duck said "No, we *must* call ourselves 'American Folkways'".
Fret couldn't really see the point.

"Who's Amer, and why are we telling him that we can Folkways?", asked
Merrygrin. But Slider agreed, and everyone else was tired of arguing,
so American Folkways it was.

    *****

Rick grinned as he stared into the fire where he was watching American
Folkways. Fret had had one more bath than he thought. When he visited
Rick, his body was thrown into the river before his brain was also
washed. He was sent back to Iscur Treble with no memory of visiting
Rick, but Rick knew all about him.

    *****

Joe also grinned. Joining Mauron's army had been his best career move
yet. Not only had he been given this nifty uniform, but he would be
given facepaint when he returned. Or maybe fish and chips; he wasn't
quite sure what Mauron had meant when he said to Number 7 "When this is
over, there'll only be a little spot of grease left".

As he proceeded through the caves of Cinex Morbucks, where he had been
sent by Mauronic magic, he tried to remember the message that Mauron had
sent Shatnir. Something about wanting to see his sorry arse in a
G-string".


    *****

-       If Amos wants to write up the meeting of Balboadil and
       Strawberry with American Folkways, that would fit right in
-       My only association with the music I link is that I like it (or
       think it's appropriate)


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 14 Jul 07 - 04:13 AM

'Oh bugger' said Ron... 'I'm in the wrong bloody epic'....

LTS


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Subject: RE: Story: Mudcat of the Rings
From: wayland
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 07:57 AM

As they argued about whether American Folkways should play more music
from Johnny Cash, Bill Monroe, or Bob Dylan, they heard a steady
plunking from ahead, accompanied by tuneless singing. Wodda ran
forward, calling "Come on, come on, there's another banjo ahead". The
others followed at their usual pace (Slider barely breaking stride to
say to Duck "Hey, my phone doesn't work.. can I use yours? Then can I
have your number?"). They heard shouts ahead, and assumed that Wodda
was greeting the other banjo player. But as they approached the
clearing...

Garthon sprang at Wodda. Wodda brought his banjo around, and it was on.
They began to play the duelling banjos.

"Well, it's not like we needed him anyway", said Fret. The rest of the party
continued on, leaving Garthon duelling Wodda.

    *****

As they continued down the path, they heard a swish in the leaves behind
them. "Duck" called Duck. Everyone looked at her lying on the ground,
and then dropped themselves to avoid the swoop of a woman in a black
cape. She was close enough that they could see her fangs. As she
passed to the front of the party, those behind her sprang to their knees
and pulled out their instruments of destruction. They stared as the
figure went around a turn in the path and disappeared.

"What was that about?", Fret asked.

"Typical full-vampire behaviour", said Duck.

"I thought typical full vampire behaviour was when they bit your neck
and sucked your blood out", said Slider.

"No, full-vampire, not full vampire. When they're full, and going
somewhere, they like to swoop people for fun, but then disappear
quickly. If they want to bite you, the first you will know is a nice
warm feeling on your neck while you're sleeping".

    *****

As they proceeded into a clearing, they saw a figure in a grubby white
robe. It had split at one side.

"Ho, stranger, what doest thou here?", called Fret.

"For calling me a ho, I'll fry you", said the stranger.

"Sorry-arse!", said Duck, the last to leave the trees.

"I should've brought more orcs", muttered Sorry-arse, pulling out a
chinese gong, a sitar, and a one-holed flute.

American Folkways fought back, but Sorry-arse's one-man band was out-of
rhythm, the sitar had a warped neck so he could play eight-tones in some
places, but only tones in others; additionally, he had mastered sitar
rasgueado (assuming that rhythmicity is not a component of rasgueado),
creating a great amount of dischord very quickly. They all stopped and
clapped their hands over their ears; not because they were giving in,
but because they saw a black shape swooping Sorry-arse from behind.
Sorry-arse's throat erupted in a welter of blood, shrieks, and a
squelch. The vampire began drinking the blood as it pulsed warmly from
the neck. Hugwee and Numbnutz were elected by the other members of the
party to approach the vampire.

"I am Comtessa Arachnicia Morte Sanguinbibious Dellacrowley Vampyr",
said the vampire. "Grovel or begone". Numbnutz and Hugwee fled. And
only just in time. A huge shape blotted out the sun. The members of
American Folkways grovelled. The Comtessa sprang up and turned to face
the new menace. But even her mouth simply dropped open as the huge
dragon picked her from the corpse of Sorry-arse, vapourised the corpse,
and flew away.

Duck and Slider rounded up the fleeing band members and made them flee
in the correct direction, Slider asking Duck "Is heaven missing an
angel? Because you're here, not there".

    *****

"What did you mean by killing him! I had first dibs on him! Not only
did he write nasty poetry about me under the name 'Fluid Druid', but he
sent some guy named Joe to tell me that he wanted to see my sorry arse
in a G-string!"

"Well, he posed as a psychiatrist, without any qualifications, and
misdiagnosed my singleness! He blamed it on my being a vampire! Can
you believe that? So anyway, I got carried away with my PMS a bit, but
he still deserved it".

"Hmm. Well, I'm single too! How about it babe? You and me against the
world! No-one understands me either. They keep sending me orc-rap,
when what I really like ... you won't tell, will you?"

"Of course not!", smiled Arachnia, playing with her hair and looking at
Shatnir through her eyelashes.

"I really like", Shatnir lowered his voice to a whisper, "Goth music".


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