Lord of the Soap

by Firiel

(Plus, I wasn't going to post it, but she said I should.)   First off, let me preface this story by establishing that it is completely DoK's fault. It was triggered by a tiny, inconsequential, completely unrelated incident that occurred when we were cleaning house together on Saturday, and it sort of snow-balled from there (or should I say, bubbled up from there...). But at any rate, it's her fault.  ;-)  Secondly, let me warn you that this inkling is without question random, and AU.


Part I

The Ranger's face
was tense as he touched the earth with his fingers, searching for a sign that the ones they tracked had passed this way. Legolas and Gimli stood near him, turned so they could both see Aragorn, and keep a watchful eye on the surrounding landscape.

A moment later, Aragorn gave an exclamation and bounded forward a few paces, where there appeared to be a footprint and a small amount of a greyish-white substance. He reached out and fingered the substance carefully, then smelled it tentatively, lean face intense.

"Soap scum", he announced a moment later, eyes fierce. "The Uruk-Scrub-Bubbles passed this way!" He leaped to his feet and motioned to his companions. "Hurry", he urged. "They are but one laundry cycle ahead of us. If we make haste, we should overtake them soon!"

"Aye", Gimli agreed. "And turn their little jaunt into a wash", he finished, hefting his ax enthusiastically.

"Then let us depart this place at once, if we wish to turn the Tide!" Legolas exclaimed, turning to Aragorn expectantly.

Turning, Aragorn sprang forward, and abruptly pitched forward onto his face. Jumping to his feet hastily, he bent and snatched up the object responsible for his fall - a large, grimy piece of soap. Brandishing it like a sword, he charged forward once more, Gimli close behind. Legolas raised an elvish eyebrow, then lightly bounded after them.

"Mortals", he muttered to himself.....

Part II

To the north, having only just slipped through the hands of the Uruk-Scrub-Bubbles, Merry and Pippin fled into Fangorn Forest. Battered and weary, Pippin led the way, while Merry stumbled behind, feet free, but hands still bound. With the blade Grishnákh had dropped, they had managed to cut through their ankle-bonds, but despite their best efforts, had been unable to cut Merry's wrist ropes. The blade had inexplicably kept slipping, and finally, deciding freedom was more important at the moment, they fled to the safety of the woods, and agreed to postpone this task until daylight.

But now daylight was near at hand, if not indeed already dawning, and the hobbits paused in their flight to try once more to remove Merry's restraints. They realized after a moment, that neither of them had brought Grishnákh's blade along with them, and so were reduced to using whatever was at hand. After a good ten minutes of trying to untie the ropes, Pippin resorted to gnawing on them (accompanied by much spitting and complaining about orcish hygiene), but to no avail.

Merry shook his hair out of his eyes (having discovered that using his hands only rubbed the evil rope on his face, and tended to knock more hair in his eyes). Pippin had given up gnawing on the ropes, and was kneeling near the stream they were following, scrabbling through the rocks and roots along the bank in an effort to find something - anything - sharp enough to cut through the rope. Merry kicked at the rocks, seeking to help.

"It's no use", Pippin said at last, sitting back. "All these stones have been polished smooth by the stream."

"The stream", Merry repeated thoughtfully. "A bubbling stream..."

"What?" Pippin asked blankly.

"The stream!" Merry exclaimed. "Look at it! A bubbling stream!"

Pippin turned and looking closer at the stream, saw that it was, quite literally, a bubbling stream. Small iridescent bubbles floated along its surface, twisting and whirling in the current. He turned back to Merry, a look of complete confusion on his face.

"The bubbles!" Merry said again, a little exasperated.

Pippin tilted his head to one side. "Yes, I see the bubbles, but how are you expecting them to help you?" he asked, spreading his hands a little helplessly.

Merry let out a rather rude snort, and flung his still-bound hands in the air. Then he turned, and stomped upstream, disappearing into the forest.

"Merry?" Pippin called. There was no answer. He waited a moment, then shrugged and set out after him.

He caught up a few moments later, and trotted behind Merry, who was moving at a pretty good clip along the edge of the stream, and appeared to be looking for something. As they made their way upstream, the bubbles became bigger and more numerous, until the water's surface was indeed nearly all bubble. Then, just as they rounded a bend, the water abruptly became clear and bubble-less once more. With a frustrated growl, Merry wheeled back, nearly running into Pippin. He then proceeded to frantically claw through the roots and rocks at the water's edge, just where the bubbles started.

Pippin, not quite sure whether he was more irritated or worried by Merry's behaviour, stood over him and demanded, "What are you looking for!"

"Oh, Joy!" Merry cried at that moment, falling to his knees beside a small pool of water, and snatching up a stone jar lying on its side, half in the water. Before Pippin could say another word, he plunged his hands deep into the jar. A moment later, he pulled them out, coated with a lemony-smelling yellow liquid. Wriggling his hands vigorously, he slipped out of the ropes within a minute or two. Triumphantly, he waved the rope for Pippin to see.

Pippin stared incredulously at his cousin, not quite sure if he had lost his mind, or Merry had. "What is that!?!" he finally asked.

"Soap", Merry announced. "Works every time. I feel so much better - you've no idea how much I hate having my hands tied." He stretched, then, clapping Pippin on the shoulder said, "Now what about some breakfast".....