It had been a busy Friday night at the Prancing Pony. Gimli was lounging in the icebox on Saturday, usually the late nights were a strange intermingling of Hobbits, Elves and Rangers from many different time zones, sure can get confusing for a Dwarf when one person is yelling good morning, and others are yelling good night. Part of the fun though of being an evening poster is trying to figure out which side of the world people were from. He shook his head. Oh bad move, too many rainbow goos, pints of beer and coffees with Fool for a Took. It was pleasant at the time, now it hurt. He decided he wasn't ready to leave the solitude of the icebox for the rowdiness of the weekend crowd just yet. It was much more pleasant to sit in there and sleep.
A few sentences later he awoke. After slipping into his mithril muumuu. He pushed open the door to the icebox. What the ...? That was his first thought. The room was dark, not a single light flickered in the chandeliers, and none of the candles on the wall were lit. Never, had Gimli seen the place so dark. Even on the Ponies slowest days there was always a candle in the window for welcome and a fire in the fireplace. There was no one here. It was empty of all patrons. No one was hiding in the corners, or hanging on the rafters, no lurkers under the tables. How strange. He thought again. A quick trip to the other boards showed the same thing. What was he going to do? He returned to the Pony and as he was about to enter he noticed a sign hanging on the door. CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE. Maintenance, a truly orcish name if he ever heard one. Now he had a goal. He would seek out this Maintenance creature and rid Middle Earth of the necessary evil, but he would require allies in this venture, and weapons. He pushed open the door to the Pony.
Gathering a spare Hobbit Satchel from a peg hanging on the wall he proceeded to fill it with supplies, pints of goo, a clean sponge or two, apples, and the four most powerful tools the Prancing Pony could give him:
He had his supplies, now he had to gather allies. He would take two, but which? He pondered his needs. He would need speed, strength, and a pair of wings for travel. Ah yes, THE BALROG, and he knew where to find that character, the Balrog is staying with Dandy and Frodo. And who else, someone who could shoot well and plenty, enjoys hunting, and happens to make a great batch of goo when allowed online. Firithalphien. And where might she be? Ah yes. She is Niph's daughter. He would start there. Balrog would hardly move from the video game room unless his stomach urged him towards the kitchen. It would take a little more effort to track her down. Grabbing a spare cloak from the wall he walked out of the Pony. Suddenly he noticed, a slight movement in the Satchel. Setting it on the ground he opened it up. Out popped Arabee. Taking one look at Gimli holding the Satchel, Arabee ran screaming from the story. Gimli shrugged his shoulders "So much for having the Tea Towel in my possession."
He shut the door behind him and headed out of the town of Bree. Where would he find Niph? Shrugging his shoulders he headed westward with only the guide of the Ketchup bottle that once told him that Fool for a Took lived in The Shire and that Niph and her daughter lived close by. The distance from The Shire to Bree seems to be shrinking Gimli mused to himself. I remember when there were pages of wilderness between, now it is traversed in a matter of a few keystrokes. He glared at the author who was telling him to hurry up and move faster.
He arrived at Fool's house in a matter of sentences and she answered the door with a yawn. She was still wearing her goo stained muu from the night before. Hmm, looked like she had a terrible night too. She pointed to the house down the street. Yawning, she then turned and went back inside. Must sleep! She was heard to mumble, as the door closed with a click. He continued down the street and this time before knocking, he withdrew the Tea Towel, throwing it over his left shoulder as he saw other bartender's do he knocked on the door. Niph smiled and invited Gimli to chat, but he had to decline that invitation as he had pressing business and the author was also yawning from sleep deprivation. She told him that Firi had gone to Woodhall to shoot smurfs, while it was still daylight. And yes, she had permission to journey with Gimli and Balrog as long as she behaved herself and was home before dark. To this Gimli hardily agreed and went off to Woodhall.
Using the bottle of Ketchup he managed to trail Firi to a clearing but
he was now at a loss. The ketchup bottle was running out (why didn't he think
to grab one at the store) and he had to reserve the remaining to help them
find the Maintenance Orc. He decided to trick Firi into showing herself.
Knowing that she was always present when the smurfs would appear for target
practice, he wisely pulled on a blue muumuu over his mithril one, and marched
into the clearing. THUNK! THUNK! From the trees the arrows came and glanced
off his chest. Ah ha. She was here, Good thing he still had the mithril muu
on under the blue. That was excellent shot for the lass. He fell to the ground
and waited. Knowing she would come to retrieve her arrows. He did not have
to wait long before she arrived.
"Hello Firi", he said as she walked up. The arrow in her bow still notched.
"Don't shoot me Lass, it's me, Gimli, in disguise." Still her guard did not relax as she picked her arrows.
"Hmm, Yes I remember you from the Pony" she said. "My Mum says to be careful when you are around."
"And I would agree, but I have an urgent quest that needs Balrog and your help. I have spoken to your mom and she says that if we can accomplish it before nightfall than you can join us. We must seek out and rid Middle earth of a terrible minion named "MAINTENANCE" will you help us?"
"I suppose so" Said Firi. "But I will check with Mum first, while you go collect Balrog. Meet me at Mum's house in a few sentences and I will be ready to go." She melted back into the trees, and he had no choice but to agree. HARUMPH. Women. HARUMPH Elves. Still she was an excellent shot and he would need her and her bows.
As predicted Balrog was at Dandy and Frodo's house and they were more than willing to get rid of the lad, while Frodo was home from Seattle. They quickly persuaded him to join Gimli for the rest of the day and hurried back into the house. Yelling HOT TUB HOT TUB as they ran.
With in a few sentences Balrog and Gimli flew back to Firi's house. Collected her, and were winging it back to the Prancing Pony to pick up the trail of the Orc.
The bottle of Ketchup was put into use and they were off in hot pursuit of an old thread. On Rivendell they found the first clue from a tired Hobbit named Juz, who was busy with packaging of CM packets. They flew off to find Juz. There he was surrounded with boxes of lithographs and magazines. The Balrog's wings caused a draft that blew papers around the area...."AHHHH"...Juz screamed, "What are you doing. Do you know how long I have been preparing these? I have no time for your nonsense."
Quickly Gimli remembered that he taken off the Tea Towel of power, and slid it back over his shoulder. "Sorry Juz, we are seeking an Orc by the name of Maintenance, we noticed that you first one to spot the Orc. We are trying to rid the PP of this terror, and have come seeking your aid."
Under the spell of the Tea Towel, Juz spoke in a calmer voice. "He appeared to me early last month", he said, "I thought, tis only a dream but he threatened to remove the Old Board, one morning I woke up and it was gone. The threat grew and then he said he would close the boards for a weekend, a weekend without the boards. What panic would ensue if I did not post warnings? But alas none heeded my dire warnings and now this too has come true. I suggest you attempt your search for the Orc at the Tower of Decipher."
Gimli nodded and climbed back aboard the Balrog. "To the Tower of Decipher" he commanded. And the Balrog once again flapped his wings and was airborne. Juz looked around at the mess of papers now laying scattered around his shipping area...and with a heavy sigh, once again started wearily packing them again. "At least they could have helped to put them back into their proper stacks." Suddenly there was another pass of the Balrog over Juz head. The papers that were here-to-fore scattered blew into the proper envelopes and he heard a voice from author afar crying, "Thank you Justin and Crew. For all your hard work" jumping for joy Juz began closing and sending envelopes at a record pace.
Winging his way off page 3 and onto page for 4 of Microsoft Word Balrog growled at his author for not putting more of his talk in. And the author replies that the Balrog roars a lot but doesn't speak. Firi is wondering when she is going to shoot something and Gimli is wondering if they will ever find the Orc. The author sighs and says, "I'm getting there. I'm getting there"
So winging in with a short note because nobody is going to have time to
read four pages on the boards they arrive at the Tower of Decipher. A brief
search of the Tower finds it virtually empty. The few minor goblins that
were on the site were in the boxes of trading cards. And the quick wit and
Arrows of Firi and the Flame of Udin easily dispatched those. Now at last
they were free to seek the great Orc. Around the Tower they searched. Until
the came to a large room which contained strange whirring boxes imprinted
with names like IBM, DEC and CONVEX, there, in one corner sat a small haggard
young Ranger, furiously pounding on a keyboard. He looked up in surprise
at the site of the trio in his computer room.
"Where is the Orc?" Gimli demanded.
The Ranger shrugged, "I do not know who you mean."
"We come seeking the evil Orc Maintenance to free our beloved PP from its entrapment."
"Oh" said the Ranger in surprise. "I suppose that would be me"
"YOU" The three gasp in surprise.
"Why yes, I am the programmer in charge of the project. I was making enhancements to clean up some old software and to make sure that everything was running in top notch order, I did not mean to hurt anyone by this. I was doing it to keep all the boards alive and well and in good repair. Maintenance goes along way. I told Juz that we would only be down a little while. Sorry. The sites should be back up again in a few hours"
Firi and Balrog turned their glare onto Gimli.
Gulping, he smiled apologetically to the others.
"Well thank you for your help, sorry about ruining all those trading cards." Gimli tried to apologize.
"That's okay," said Ranger Programmer. "All is forgiven by Decipher of course, just buy more to replace the ones you ruined"
Gimli, Firi and the Balrog flew back to Prancing Pony. The sign was off
the door and the candle was once again glowing in the window.
"Happy Frodo Mambo Dancing" said Dandy as She and Frodo walked through the door to the Pony on Saturday. "It's good to be home."