Story: Mudcat of the Rings
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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
Amos 12 Jan 03 - 11:00 PM
Mudlark 12 Jan 03 - 11:47 PM
Lonesome EJ 13 Jan 03 - 12:22 AM
kendall 13 Jan 03 - 12:43 AM
mg 13 Jan 03 - 01:03 AM
Little Hawk 13 Jan 03 - 01:23 AM
Lonesome EJ 13 Jan 03 - 01:32 AM
Mudlark 13 Jan 03 - 02:03 AM
GUEST,joe 13 Jan 03 - 02:53 AM
Tinker 13 Jan 03 - 07:42 AM
Peter T. 13 Jan 03 - 09:24 AM
Roger the Skiffler 13 Jan 03 - 09:41 AM
Amos 13 Jan 03 - 10:24 AM
kendall 13 Jan 03 - 10:41 AM
katlaughing 13 Jan 03 - 10:45 AM
Little Hawk 13 Jan 03 - 03:47 PM
Lonesome EJ 13 Jan 03 - 04:09 PM
Little Hawk 13 Jan 03 - 06:15 PM
GUEST,Raedwulf 13 Jan 03 - 06:30 PM
SINSULL 13 Jan 03 - 06:50 PM
Little Hawk 13 Jan 03 - 07:08 PM
Little Hawk 13 Jan 03 - 07:18 PM
katlaughing 13 Jan 03 - 07:18 PM
Little Hawk 13 Jan 03 - 07:56 PM
katlaughing 13 Jan 03 - 07:59 PM
Little Hawk 13 Jan 03 - 11:30 PM
Rustic Rebel 14 Jan 03 - 02:45 AM
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Amos 14 Jan 03 - 09:17 AM
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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
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
Ham Sarnie
I'll be back

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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, 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


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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 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."


"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.

(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


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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 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! 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'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

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", 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
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.


"New-clee-ar, not 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' 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

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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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