Bucklebury's LotR Parody

An ongoing role-play parody by various fans on Bucklebury.net

In the (fishy) House of Tom Bombadil
(Back at the Old Forest)

Since the time when Middle-Earth arose from the waters of the sundering seas, the Old Forest had stood unchanged . . .  
 
until now.
 
WhOOOOOah!  What just happened?  All of a sudden, the sun flipped, rose in the north, set in the south, and everything is back to normal?  What kind of mushrooms did those creatures bring in here anyway?!!?
 
A few minutes later, when everything was back to normal, he watched ol man willow watch the hors d'ouvres come under the shade of his leaves.

Frodo scrambled back up onto the bank and  wrung out the hem of his coat.  Merry and Pippin were dozing in the shade of the willow, so he hoped they hadn't noticed his undignified tumble.   Trying to avoid Sam's amused expression, he pretended to be very interested in looking downstream, then his eyes widened slightly as he noticed something there.
 
"Sam - is that really what it looks like? Wow - what a great waterslide!"
 
He turned back to the tree. "Merry! Pippin! Check this out!..." he trailed off as he suddenly realized they were missing. "...Hey...where'd they go?"

Merry in his slumber could have sworn he heard Sam speaking to him.  What was it he had said?  Check the sow?  Rolling over in his sleep, he poked at Pippin unknowingly, his mind thinking he must have fallen asleep next to a pig.

*Snip-click*
Ol man Willow laughed as two of the tasty morsels were caught in his trunk.  He raised the roots around the laughing one (whose name sounded like Sand, making the tree think of oysters)  If only the other one had not seen the waterslide, he would have come close enough to snatch.
 
Drat it, Bombadil, he thought. I TOLD you to put up a hedge or something!
 
Meanwhile, inside his trunk, he could feel the hors d'ouvres wriggling.  Just like the Mexican Jumping Beans the Entwives found on that Santy Anny fella. he thought.  They kinda tickle.
 
While focused on the remaining hobbits, Ol' man willow didn't see what was sneaking up on him from the bushes . . .

"Winning side? And just how do you think to guarantee that. And what's this about "His" Ring? Now why would I be out looking for that old thing. You know I don't go in for jewelry.  I know you like jewels." Gandalf looked at the gaudy multi-coloered trinkets loading the fingers of Saruman's right and left hands. "But plain gold? I never thought it was your style," he finished smoothly.

Saruman frowned so deeply his long eyebrows tangled together, causing no small consternation and several strange and frantic hand-gestures as he ripped them back apart.  He smoothed them back and tried to pretend that hadn't happened. He fixed his guest with his very best Impressive Eye Contact.  "Gandalf the Grey. you aren't usually this...dense.  If Sauron is rebuilding, and gathering his armies, there is nothing we can do to stop him.  We need to... join with him Gandalf.  I have seen the ads guaranteeing Brownie Points and even Green Stamps if we do.  We will receive nothing at all, and may even make him a bit...peeved if we do not."
 
"Come, take a look for yourself..." he said, getting up and wading in his long robes back into the main chamber.  Gandalf followed him.  Saruman carefully adjusted the antenna by a round covered object, then pulled off the cover.  A strange, heavy dark ball sat upon the pedestal.  He carefully picked it up and shook it to make the snow fly around on the inside.   With great satisfaction he peered at the replica of Barad-Dur inside it, swirling in red snow with a tiny dead pine tree and red snow-orc in the yard.  "You see...?"

Grima shuffles his slippered feet as he walks away from the door, breaking the seal and unrolling the scroll absently, muttering under his breath while reading.  He stopped suddenly, and re-read the message carefully.  He turned quickly, ran back and yanked the door open to shout, "WAIT!"
 
Elladan and Elrohir were no where in sight, only the dust from the hooves of two driven horses could be seen.
 
Grima closed the door and  wadded the message into a ball.  "Not worth the time to listen to ol' rainbow-bottom scream about this one!  I am outta here!" As he returned to his room to pack, he lobbed the wadded parchment into the smoldering fireplace, and shuffled back to his room, picking up all the silver candlesticks he passed, and cleaning out the silverware drawer.

Frodo gasped as he realized all he could see of his cousins were their feet!  He beat desperately on the trunk of the tree and pried at the crack that had taken them in. After trying different patterns of knocks, tickling and chewing on the bark, he was at wit's end.  He found himself running in circles through the grasses and waving his arms calling foolishly for help though he knew there was no one else around but Sam.
 
"Help! Help! Help! A tree is eating my friends! Aaaaaaaaah!"

*The Entwife...upon hearing their cries in the distance.....said to herself*
 
"Well isn't that a strange reversal of fortune?"
 
(not that people.hobbits.dwarvesetc. eat trees... but plants in general...maybe if one were hungry enough or made it into a nice hearty broth or........)

Upon being eaten, Pippin's bag had been left behind. Sam took this opportunity to, er, check the bag for any, um, perishables....Basically, it was Sam's lame excuse for looking  in the bag to find mushrooms...the ones that Pippin managed to get when Sam was stuck in the tree.
 
Frodo continued to yell, and all the while, Sam wondered why, as Frodo didn't want them coming in the first place
 
"Oh well" Sam shrugged, and took a bite out of his mushroom.

Goldberry, the fair River Daughter popped the window open on her kitchen window, scooped some algae out of her ear and listened.  Yes, there it was again..a faint cry for help!   She stopped beating her latest catch of  fish into paste with river rocks and hollered out by the barn for Tom.  Where was that man...puzzle...thing?    
 
Well, if it was someone needing help, she better make a bigger tray of shushi than she had planned.  She shoved her wet, weed-filled hair back over her shoulders and got back to work.

Ol' man Willow's branches shook with laughter.  He had feared that the pesky Gardner of this land would come running, but from the tops of his branches, he could see the little man, coming down the waterslide while wearing large, yellow fins on his feet.
 
'Surely' he thought, 'he won't be able to get here before I have finished these tasty morsels.  Then it will be too late!'  
 
Relaxing a bit, the tree started the process of eating the Hobbits.  Using a special 'tongue in groove' techinque he had learned from watching Bob Villa.  
 
Hmmm. . . . tastes like chicken . . . now if only I had some . .

Pippin had been happily dozing off, and then Merry or someone had poked him, and now it seemd he'd picked a rotten piece of tree to sit against as he seemed to have fallen through it.
 
The soft, and frankly icky, squishy wood under his hands was making it difficult to push himself back out.  
 
"Argh! Uhnk!"
 
He tried wriggling his hips to get some grip and push his knees into the earth so as to lever himself backwards and out. After all sam should have cooked lunch by now!
 
"Hey Frodo, give us a hand out of here will you?"

"Saruman, green stamps or not I don't think he's earned the right to have his ring back. And even if I knew where it was, I don't think its right to tattle on others."
 
Gandalf took a good look at the ball with the little scene inside. "Hey! Where'd you get one of these? I've trying to find one of these for half an age, they're quite rare."
 
Saruman didn't say anything, but gave Gandalf another glare, which Gandalf didn't see as he was staring at the ball.  "Can we get any thing else on it?" He reached for the nearby antenna.
 
Saruman grabbed the cover he'd had over it earlier and covered it up saying, "No you can't get any other picture, I've tried for years. But we were talking about a certain ring, I believe. You know where it is."
 
"I told you before, you old fuddy-duddy, I wouldn't,  tell you about the ring, even if I could and that's all there is to it."

"That's it, you old kook! No one calls me a fuddy-duddy and gets away with it!" Saruman raised his staff and pointed it at Gandalf. Gandalf was suddenly overcome by a fit of giggles. He tried lifting his own staff, but he was laughing too hard to pick it up.
 
Luckilly for him though, at that moment there was a HUGE crash!
 
Saruman whipped around and yelled, "GRIZNASH!! I TOLD YOU I WOULD SEND YOU BACK TO MORDOR IF YOU DROPPED THOSE SWORDS AGAIN!!!" He growled, but only for a moment, as Gandalf had taken the opportunity to lift his own staff, and now pointed it at Saruman, sending him into laughing-compulsions.
 
"No! *hehehe* Stop! *haha! heha!* No....More! *HAHAHAHA!*
Saruman lifted his staff again, and the tickling continued....

While all of that was going on downriver...
 
Strider had vainly chased the mother worm, but it eluded him. Once, he thought he had it, but it slimed all over him and squirmed away.
The ranger sighed and headed back to the river to wash off the slippery stuff, it was all over him and his feet kept slipping out from underneath him because of it.
He finally arrived back at the river and cautiously stuck a toe in to test the temperature.
"Ai!" he yelled as the freezing water touched him.
Don't be silly, he thought to himself, It won't kill you.
He waded in and quickly set to work getting rid of the worm slime, although I daresay that was not all that came off.

Goldberry heaped her sink with all the fish-scale covered utensils and scooped up a large bucket. Swinging it in her hand, she headed down the hill to get washing water from the river.  As she approached the water she was struck by a terrible stench!
 
The water was all funny-colored, with a strange slimy foam. The smaller fish were floating by belly-up and the water lilies were all drooping and shrivelling.  What in the world...?  Whatever it was, it seemed to be coming from quite a ways upstream.  She mopped the dangling green stuff from her hair out of her eyes and peered that direction, but  saw nothing out of the ordinary.  She could still hear someone hollering, though, so she headed that way to see what all the noise was about. 
 
Meanwhile Frodo was still running and yelling and waving his arms but no help seemed to be forthcoming, and now an awful smell was arising from the river water.  The Willow automatically slurped it up through his roots, realizing its mistake too late....!

Ol' Man Willow had a sudden spasm as the fresh water he was drinking suddenly tasted like old socks.   Despite the fact that there was no breeze, his leaves and branches shuddered.  
 
The hors d'ovres in his maw suddenly seemed not so fresh, and he was trying to find a way to spit them out without creating a scene infront of the other two tempting morsels.  
 
'Where is that terrible taste coming from?' he wondered.

Frodo was stopped in his tracks by the strangest retching sound he had ever heard in his life.  He severely doubted it was Sam.

Bill paced the stable. "Where is he? He should have at least gotton to Bree by now. Of course he didn't even have the decency to tell me he would be late." Bill looked up at the clock on the wall for what the other ponies in the stall thought was about the 50th time that day.
 
Bill stopped pacing. "Duh! Why don't I try to get a hold of him!?"
 
He shook his head a bit, then thought, "SAM! When are you going to get here??"
 
"Oh! Hello, Billy-boy!"
 
"Billy-Boy? Sam? Are you alright??"
 
"Sure! Acutually, I think it has to do with the water...there's seems to be some sort of fumes coming from it, and I think it may be messin with my head a little. Don't worry though, I'll be fine."
 
"Uh huh...sure. Anyway, why aren't you to Bree yet? What's holding you up?"
 
"Well, Merry and Pippin are stuck in a tree, Frodo keeps yelling for somebody to come help, the trees are laughing at us, and these fumes are making me not want to do anything except plug my nose."
 
Bill was silent for a while. Laughing trees? Poisonous fumes? He finally spoke. "Um, well, ok, so you're gonna be gone for a while then?"
 
"Pretty much, yeah. Oh, sorry Bill, but I gotta turn off now. The fumes are getting worse."
 
Bill started to pace again. "Laughing trees? I just don't get it...."

Elladan carefully swiped the script from his brother's saddlebags when he wasn't looking, and scanned the pages.  "Darn! No pictures!" he thought.  
Elrohir saw him squinting at the pages and snatched it out of his hands.  "Gimme that, Eljerk!  You will lose my place!"  He lifted the book and stared at the pages, not noticing that it was upside-down.
"When are we going to get to this party?  Are we anywhere near Bree?"  Elladan took out a pocket mirror and checked his braids for fraying.
"We should be there in a couple of days, if we keep riding at this rate.  It's gonna be great!  Hope there are lots of unescorted women of various races!"  
While the frivilous young elves were preening and practicing their pick-up lines, their horses decided it was high time for a drink, and plunged them into a nearby river, just for laughs.  Horses have strange senses of humour, 'tis said.

Frodo abruptly stopped screaming for help, and tapped Sam on the shoulder, pointing toward the path.  A strange man, if indeed a man it was, had come out of the bushes and was staring at the scene.  He had skin or hide all of blue, and it looked rubbery and shone wetly in the sunlight.  On his feet were great yellow fins like the webbed limbs of a duck. and they flapped as he came walking toward them.  He had one great glassy eye and a single anntenna that poked up above his head and swayed in the breeze.
The man-thing came toward Frodo and Sam, it's large feet going slap! slap! slap! It stopped and pointed it's big eye at them.  
"Qui?" it said.
He waited while the hobbits gaped at him, then fished around in his fannipak for a small dog-eared book.  He thumbed the pages and asked again, "Vos est dos?"

Sam's half-eaten mushroom dropped out of his hand unnoticed.  Frodo was...speechless.  
 
Behind them the wooden retching continued....

Gandalf had seen the orc and heard what had been said despite being doubled over laughing. It sobered him enough to counter with an attack of his own. After about 15 minutes of this he realized that the tickling curses, floating feathers and laughing powders were getting them nowhere and he had to get out of the Tower fast.  
 
He'd known he'd been right not to say anything about Frodo. The words he'd heard proved it, even if the old fuddy-duddy could give a good reason to an orc being in his tower and with swords to boot.  
 
Gandalf frantically, while still laughing, searched his pockets trying to find something else that might help him. As his latest bout of laughter diminished, he pointed his staff at Saruman's feet and the wizard fell over kicking his heels, as something invisible seemed to grab his ankles and began to tickle the sole of one foot then the other. Meanwhile Gandalf was emptying his robe's pockets trying to find something, anything to help him.

Goldberry came around the bend of the stinking river just in time to see a familiar flipper-clad diver emerge from the waters.  If Tom was on the job, then she had no more worries - he would find out what the trouble was.  Glad to not have her chores interrupted any more than they had to be, she swung around and squished her way back up the path to the house, leaving a trail of drips behind her.  
 
Let's see, she pondered, besides the sushi what could we serve to unexpected guests?  Oh yes! She could make a bowl of her Pond Weed Salad Delight, and maybe some steamed crawfish-and-caddisflies, tossed with spicy algae sauce! She was sure she still had a few candied cattail roots for dessert, and marsh-mallows.  Inspired, she dumped a small bucket of water over her head to refresh herself and headed for her kitchen.

The bizarre creature turned its cycloptic head toward the strange sound issuing from the trembling willowtree.  He walked over to the emphysematous deciduous, his yellow feet slapping the ground, and pounded on its wrinkled bark with his fist.  When this had no effect, he wrapped his arms around the tree in a great hug, left hand over right, and administered the Heimlich maneuver.
 
He earnestly hoped that mouth-to-mouth (or whatever) resuscitation would be unnecessary.....

Ol man Willow felt a sudden pinching sensation in his arboral-abdomen . . .  
 
Dang it!, he swore silently.  I knew I should have taken that "Beaver-o" before eating these creatures.  Now I am getting GAS!  This is just too much!
 
And with that, he spit out the two creatures, and drank some of the water that Bombadil was dripping on the ground.  
 
At least Tommy boy came from UP-stream!
 
Frodo ran to help his recently-ejected cousins back onto their feet, trying not to draw notice to the half-digested state of their coats. Clambering to their feet, they were more than willing to accept his aid: they couldn't get away from that horrible burping tree fast enough!  
 
They turned to their strange benefactor.  
 
"Er...Hullo," began Frodo hesistantly, "I don't know if you speak the Common Tongue, but we are very grateful for your ...um...whatever it is you did there that made that tree spit out my kin. We're strangers in these parts and a bit lost -  you don't  happen to know of anyplace we could stay the night around here, do you? That is, we'd rather not camp out under this type of tree if you understand me."  Merry and Pippin nodded in agreement to this so violently they banged foreheads.
 
He noticed Sam plugging his nose. "Besides, this river is still pretty foul and it would be nice to move away from it."

 
Meanwhile another tale of the Ringwraiths: Finally shunned by the other eight Wraiths, Enquea rides off on Fluffy after the hobbits.  He has descent luck trailing them for awhile, but soon realises they have crossed the border of the Old Forest.  Looking in the trees he said, to noone in particular,
 
"Its scary in there...I don't want to go where the trees move.  
 
Deep Booming Voice:  IS ONE OF MY SERVANTS SCARED!
 
Enquea: Witchy...is that you?
 
A black squirrel of above average size and a bright red eye appears at the feet of Fluffy
 
Squirrel:  No you idiot minon, its Sauron
 
Enquea: I thought you were too weak to take physical form...and were cursed not to take a fair form?
 
Sauron:  You call this rat a fair form?
 
Enquea: I think you're kinda cute
 
Sauron:  Shut up idiot.  Now, why is my one homosexual minion too scared to chase after the hobbit?  I thought I made you so your power was in terror!  
 
Enquea:  I'm....I'm not gay!  
 
Sauron: That's not what Grishnakh said
 
Enquea: What? How'd you...
 
Sauron: The eye sees all.  My gaze peireces stone, sky, and flesh.  I saw the whole thing.  
 
Enquea: How can I prove my self again?
 
Sauron: Go in there and get that hobbit and the ring...and not take any of them behind a rock...
 
Enquea: OK OK OK!!!!  I'll go, I'll go.    
 
Sauron:  Good boy, now take off that pink cloak and get in there.  
 
::The Sauron-Squirrel dissappears into then air .  After changing back to his black cloak, Enquea rides into the forest after the hobbits, to the sound of some chuckling behind a tree::
 
Witch-king:  Oh my god! I was just guessing about Grishnakh!
 
Cantea:  That was sweet boss.  But why a Squirrel?
 
Attea: Because he'd be scared stiff by anything bigger!
 
All the wraiths crack up at this.


Frodo ran to help his recently-ejected cousins back onto their feet, trying not to draw notice to the half-digested state of their coats.  Clambering to their feet, they were more than willing to accept his aid: they couldn't get away from that horrible burping tree fast enough!  
 
They turned to their strange benefactor.  
 
"Er...Hullo," began Frodo hesistantly, "I don't know if you speak the Common Tongue, but we are very grateful for your ...um...whatever it is you did there that made that tree spit out my kin. We're strangers in these parts and a bit lost -  you don't  happen to know of anyplace we could stay the night around here, do you? That is, we'd rather not camp out under this type of tree if you understand me."  Merry and Pippin nodded in agreement to this so violently they banged foreheads.
 
He noticed Sam plugging his nose. "Besides, this river is still pretty foul and it would be nice to move away from it."

The strange man looked very relieved when Frodo spoke at last, and he flipped the worn phrasebook over his shoulder and into the river with a plop!  
 
He pushed his glassy eye up on top of his rubbery head and squinted at them with watery blue eyes.  "You speak words? O dilly dally doodles!  I been talking to trees and birds so long my mellon's full of noodles!  Just come around with me, my fine foursome of furry fellows!  My lovely lady Goldberry will serve us lobster and marshmallows!  Just follow me, riddle de diddle de de, and don't be fallin' behind!  Just come with Tom and call your mom; let's see what we can find!"
 
And the Tom, with a flap! flap! flap! and a squeak* squeak* squeak*, went waddling up the path, chuckling to himself and speaking in what sounded like a strange and mystical language to the hobbits, but was actually Esperanto.

Now that he was on it, they noticed the faint path going up the hill, and a wisp of chimney-smoke indicating a real house of some kind.
 
Merry and Pippin seemed all too glad to get away from that tree as quickly as possible, so they set out after their unlikely host without a pause. Frodo and Sam looked at each other blankly for a moment, then Frodo shrugged and turned to follow the others.  
 
"Get the ponies, Sam." he spoke over his shoulder, "It looks like we have a place to stay for the night! Hope they have something decent to eat....he can't really mean that, can he? About the lobster and marshmallows?He doesn't seem to be...." He twirled a finger near one ear. "You know..."


Elladan sat up in the river where his laughing horse had thrown him, and he combed dripping hair back from his eyes.  His brother was next to him, floundering in the two and a half feet deep water.  Elladan siezed a handful of wet suede and pulled him upright.
 
"Gah!" Elrohir spat a spout of water from his mouth, then looked at himself in dismay.  "My clothes!  These are dryad-clean only!!"  He glanced at his brother and frowned,  "Um, El, what is that you are sitting on?"
 
Elladan looked down, then stood and lifted a sodden Ranger out of the stream.
 
"I say, 'tis Aragorn!  What say you, fosterbrother?"

Aragorn coughed and spat out a mouthful of river water.  Pushing his wet straggly hair from his eyes, he squinted up at them.  "What are you guys doing here? Am I near Rivendell?  I'm trying to find Bree!... I mean, of course I always know exactly where I am, but uh...you haven't happened to have seen a town anywhere nearby, have you?"
 
He pulled away from them and slogged up onto the shore to begin squeezing the water out of his clothes and hair.

"We were just heading to Bree-eowch!! " squealed Elladan, as Elrohir gracefully trod on is foot, then tipped him back under the water.  
 
"What he was saying is that we were just running an errand for Elrond... you know, Elladan... the errand dad wanted us to do," and Elrohir winked at his brother, used sign-language and then morse-code to tell him that if Aragorn told Elrond about their truancy, they would be washing dishes in Valinor for the next Age.  Elladan nodded finally and together they drug the dripping dunadan out of the drink.
 
Elrohir pointed south and said, "We will just tag along with you, 'Gorny, if you don't mind.  Bree is, er... on the way to where we are headed, right, Elladumb?"
 
Elladan shook his hair and pointed north.  "Elreek, you are as useless as thumbs on a fish!  Bree is thataway!"
 
"Don't call me 'Elreek'!  You know I hate that!"
 
"You started it, you jerk!  Why do you always follow me everywhere, anyway?  Go run your own errands!"
 
Elrohir affectionatly embraced his brother in a headlock until he turned blue and slumped into semi-consiousness, then he draped him over his saddle.  He took a ReadyRanger compass out of his saddlebag and flipped it open.  The needle swung around round and round then stopped, pointing to the left.
 
"It's almost nine o'clock," said Elrohir.  "Better get cracking in we want to get to that party, er, I mean get to that errand-thingy we're doing.  Just lead the way, ol' Aragank!  We're right behind you!"


The hobbits all trooped up the hill and gratefully entered the shelter of their benefactor's house.  It had been a long day, so they got straight to the point.
 
"Food?"
 
"Anything to eat here?"
 
"I'm hungry! When's dinner?"
 
"Where's the chow?"
 
"Dinner will be ready in two shakes of a fish tail!" sang Goldberry from the kitchen.  She slipped the sea-urchins off of their kabobs and deftly transferred them to the waiting platter of steamed reeds and  froglegs.  The marsh-mallows only needed a little scrubbing still...oh yes, and she mustn't forget the algae salad-dressing for the cattails....
 
She picked up her kitchen shears and snipped the antennae off the crawdads so they wouldn't stick out from the bowls so badly and shook a generous portion of goldfish flakes over them.  Very festive!  She had forgotten what fun it was to have guests over.


Meanwhile, Legolas was spending a normal day in Mirkwood; shooting arrows at random stuff, fighting off the occasional spider, and of course picking all the bugs out of his extra long hair.  However, for some odd reason he started hearing a strange sound in his ear.  Having an odd but familiar feeling, he steps somewhere private and sticks something in his ear.
 
"Elrond, I told you never to call me this way.  We're supposed to use carrier pigeons or something.  What's wrong.... What....he's here.  No...I thought you...very well...  No, I doubt the wizard knows the true nature of the world, and I won't tell him...  Oh, her, she's here too...as Galadriel?  Well, we'll deal with her when the time comes. ... You know, Morpheus will stick out like a sore thumb here as will you... You have traded in the sunglasses and black suit right?  Good. ...  All right, I'll come, but don't call me this way again... Fine, I'm gone... The one will destroyed at the "source" er...mount doom. "


Frodo and the others dumped thier packs by the door and gratefully settled around what seemed to be a very inviting dining room table.  They admired the silver fish-shaped candlesticks and the woven reed table-runner while they waited.  
 
Smells began to waft out of the kitchen towards them. They inhaled deeply to appreciate it then coughed and gagged on it with surprise.  
 
"What is that? That surely can't be the food, can it?" Frodo said, his eyes watering from the odors that now began to assail them in fishy waves.
 
Goldberry happily heaped her many concoctions onto large trays, licking bright orange fisheggs off her fingers as she went.  She dipped a large dipper of water out of the bucket on the floor and poured it down her back to freshen up before picking up two of the loaded trays and heading for the dining room.

Fog drifts on the Barrow Downs...

Rags the Barrow-wight put the finishing touches on the paint job, then stood back to admire his work.  The grey stones loomed above, grim and monolithic and seemed to emminate a chill of Otherworldly mystery.  'Let's see those weiners in Salsbury Plain top this!' he thought to himself triuphantly.  He was so excited; it had been... well, AGES since he had last had visitors.
 
Usually when ol' Witchie-poo turned up, it was all bad news.  But this time, he had come with a positive message: "Intersept Baggins"  See, when there is real work to be done, who're ya gonna call?
 
How delightful!  Rags hurried back to his barrow, unconsciously straightening the heap of skulls and rotten clothing that decorated the shallow valley between his and his neighbor's mound.  He cast a covetous eye over the miter that dripped from the cracked stones on Jones's ruined crypt, and the cobwebs that hung down artfully and stirred with the invisible breath of the wind.  'Now that is ambiance!' he thought jealously.  'How does he do it?'
 
No more time to prepare; the guests would be arriving soon.... He wondered idly of he had any Amontillado on hand.....


Goldberry returned, carrying a platter full of something leafy and goopy-looking. She set it down, skipped from the room, and accidentally knocked over a chair; she blushed, giggled, and set it to rights. "Mother's homemade nectar," she excused herself. With a cheerful chortle, she cried, "Enjoy!" and skipped away. Tom followed her, saying something about dilly-dilly-dol.
The hobbits stared at the orange fish eggs.
"What do you think they're doing in there?" Merry wondered.
"I don't hold with foreign food," Sam muttered.
Pippin pushed his face into the eggs and emerged with his cheeks bulging while his mates looked on, aghast.
"Tastes like chicken," Pippin declared.

Frodo looked at Pippin and turned a little green. "I cannot believe you are acutally eating that....! It looks like...well, I don't want to say what I think it looks like.  I mean, I know Tom said she was a "river daughter" but this..." he trailed off.  As a wave of fish-and-algae smell wafted past him again he suddenly stood and bolted for the door where he stood taking deep breaths of fresh air and trying to settle his stomach.  Sam was suddenly beside him, doing the same thing.
 
"She may be our hostess, Sam, but I'm not eating that.  If we stay, we'll have to choke it down to be polite, and who knows what she might serve for breakfast! We've got to get out of here!"

Merry glanced out the door where his elder cousin and friend were quietly yakking out in the garden, and then looked at Pippin, whose face was covered with orange and green goo and full of satisfaction.
"Fortunately we are of sterner stuff than those Hobbitoners," Merry declared, and shoving Pippin aside pushed his face into the platter as well.
Goldberry bustled back into the room, looking slightly flushed and giddy. "Anyone ready for dessert?" she asked brightly.

Frodo glanced back into the shadows of the dining room in time to see thier hostess return with a platter of candied frog heads and chopped marsh-mallow roots.  Flambe.  She fetched a tall green jug from a nearby sidetable and poured a thick brownish liquid from it into Merry and Pippin's wine glasses, adding a small toothpick-impaled sardine to each one for decoration.
 
Dancing around the table, she then regaled her remaining two guest with a lovely interpretive dance and song about a worm whose failed romance with a tadpole ended in a tragic washing over the edge of a waterfall, where it was pounded mercilessly into the mud forevermore.  
 
He and Sam just looked at each other. "I don't even want to know what that is she just poured into the wine glasses.  It looks quite foul. Let's get our packs, Sam.  We can sleep in the barn and head out first thing in the morning. "
 
"But, what about Mr. Merry - and Pippin? How can we get them out of there?" asked Sam.  "I'm willin' to do many things for you, Mr. Frodo, but goin' near that table isn't one of them, if you take my meaning."
 
Frodo nodded understandingly. "Maybe that tree episode addled them more than we thought."
 
He tried dramatically signalling to them to come outside.

Merry glanced out the window and saw his Baggins cousin flailing his arms about, as if he were doing an impression of an impaled butterfly.
"What d'you suppose is wrong with Frodo?" Merry asked. "I'm a bit worried about him."
"I've been worried about him for years," Pippin said, picking his teeth with the sardine toothpick. "Maybe all the stale air from being locked up in his hobbit-hole all the time finally got to his head."
"Now Sam's doing the same thing!" Merry marveled. "Maybe we should see what's wrong."
Pippin glanced over his shoulder. "Why do Tom and Goldberry both leave the room every time she brings a new dish in?"
"Well, he does keep telling us that Goldberry is waiting," Merry said with a wink. "C'mon, Pippers, let's see what Butterfly-Frodo wants, I mean."

Aragorn gave an irritated look at the twins, but set off in what he hoped was the general direction of Bree, trying to keep a straight path based on the direction of the moss growing on the trees.
 
Was it moss on the North? Or was it the South? Then again, if moss likes shade, and the sun was in the West, then moss should grow on the East side of the tree, right? But if it was sunrise then it would need to be growing on the West! And what if the tree was entirely covered in moss? Should he go by the side that seemed to be thicker than the other side?
 
He looked around for the twins to ask them about this, but they were nowhere to be seen. Huh.  With all his circling and zigzagging as he tried to go straight, he had lost them entirely!  He was strangely cheered by this and set off for what he thought might be the correct direction with a lightened heart.
 
He came out of the edge of the trees to discover a strangely foggy field.

Frodo and Sam continued to wave their arms, especially since it helped circulate fresh air near their faces.  Frodo, his eyes watering from the fish fumes was about to give up and beat a hasty retreat when Merry and Pippin suddenly got up from the table and came towards them.
 
"How can you even breathe in there, much less eat?! Sam and I are heading to the barn to get some sleep then we're out of here first thing in the morning - and we wouldn't even do that if it wasn't starting to rain. You coming with us?"
 
Somewhere back in the house a rhyming hoy-doy-dilly hishy-fishy wormy-durmy and a song about fishscales shining on fishbellies entwined in the air.

Elrohir stayed behind the tree until Aragorn had disappeared from view.  He wiped his forehead in exaggerated relief, then backtracked to where he had left Elladan with the horses.  His brother was awake now, and feeling somewhat delirious, but this was a natural state for him.
 
"Lost him!  I was afraid that goody-two-shoes would bust us to Eldad."
 
"I think we should get back to Rivendell, now, Elrohir.  He'll be looking for us by now."
 
"And miss the party?  Are you crazy?"  Elrohir dug in the saddlebag as he spoke, "It says in the script that there will be a number of very shady characters in Bree.  Some of them have got to bring their sisters... HEY!  where is the script?"  Elrohir looked at Elladan with horror in his eyes.  "We have lost the script!  We must have dropped it somewhere!  Help me look.."
 
"What do you mean 'we' ?  I was unconscious... YOU lost it!  YOU look for it."

Rags the barrow-wight decided to mix up something for midnight munchies while he was waiting for his guests, er... victims.  He poured various ingredients into a bowl and began mixing.
 
"A batch of crypt-cookies should go down well as an after-life snack!"  he thought merrily, and he hummed a song while he sthingyed the batter onto a flat stone.
 
The smell of the cookies was intoxicatingly delicious.

Frodo glared at his cousins. "Next time come when I call you!" he scolded.
Merry said blandly, "You weren't calling, Frodo. You were flapping your arms like a goose who took too much ale."
Frodo pointed to the house. "You- you go inside right now and get washed up before bed! Pippin, it's time you were off to teepy-bye anyway. I hope you didn't drink too much milk with your-ah-fish eggs, because I don't want you getting up and running to the little hobbit's room all night."
Pippin turned bright red. "Frodo, I'm not a baby! I'm not, I'm not, I'm not!"
Frodo took him by the ear and dragged him off toward the barn, while Merry snickered and ran back inside, hoping he could pinch a bottle of Goldberry's cucumber melon shower gel she'd gotten on sale from Fragrant Flet.
Instead of following Frodo right away, Sam mused, "If she has fish eggs, she must have fish in there somewhere, and maybe some taters for chips...and I'm so hungry my belly is wrapped around my backbone."
His eyes rested on a little lily-pond near the door, filled with plump, multicolored koi.  
Sam's eyes glazed over.  
"Fiiiiiiishhhh...." he breathed.

Sam looked around him, and when he noticed that none of the other hobbits were looking, he dashed over to the pond. His stomach continued to growl, and all he could think of was getting something he could eat. He didn't notice the other person who was over near the pond, and when he got there, the person spoke to him. It was Goldberry.

"Frodo, look!" Pippin yelped.
Frodo kept his eyes on the barn and his fingers on Pippin's little pointed ear. "I'm not falling for that oldest of tricks, Peregrin. You are not going to trick me into looking and then letting you make a break for it."
"But, Frodo, Goldberry is running after Sam and hitting him with a headless koi and yelling something about 'broken daisy chains."
"Right, Pippin, and my real name is Pontificus Mossyhead Nastyface. Now come on!"
"It is?" Pippin asked with wonder.

The back part of Pippin's brain dropped the hint to the front bit that if Frodo was holding his ear hard and had 'that' look in his eye then he was really in some sort of trouble.  
 
Only one thing for it he thought, and poked Frodo in the midriff, just about where that  waistcoat pocket he kept fingering ought to be. It may be low but hitting him in the precious was the only way to get his attention. It sounded like Sam was getting the taters bashed out of him...

Merry emerged from the house, a bottle of cucumber-melon shower gel artfully concealed in his jacket pocket, and took in the sight of Goldberry whacking Sam with a headless fish and Pippin poking Frodo very hard in the pocket while Frodo held on to his ear and threatened him in both Westron and Elvish.
Merry shrugged. "Looks like Happy Hour," he said, and hurried to save Sam from certain fishicide.

In the peaceful tomb of Rags the Barrow-Wight...
Trying to fill the time until his guests arrived, Rags unfolds his newspaper, The Crypt Courier, to read the head-less lines:

"Grave-robbing still a problem in Egypt... Instruction manual for Stonehenge feared lost... Casting call from the makers of "Harry Potter And The Prizoner Of Azkaban" for Dementors (ooh!  I should give 'em a call!)... Poltergiest wanted for Disney theme-park...  Don't they ever print any real news?" muttered Rags darkly, munching on an Angband  chocolate cookie.  "Ahhh! Here it is....Four Halflings seen crossing Old Willow Man's valley, considered suculent.... I can't wait!"  He glances at his wristwatch to check the time... "What am I thinking?  You can't accessorize with shrouds!"


Frodo frowned as he heard the Ring squeeping in distress. He had so far managed to ignore the poking and had kept a good grip on Pip, but if his darling little Ring was getting poked that was another matter entirely!
 
He shifted his grip and suddenly flipped Pippin onto the ground and kneeled on his chest all in one motion. A neat trick he'd learned back in his mushroom-sneaking days, but he mentally noted that  it worked a lot better on a hobbit than it had on those dogs.  
 
"Quit poking my....I mean, quit poking me!" he growled, then abruptly got up and backed away as the leftover scent of Pippin's recent meal wafted up to him.  "Now get up - we're going to sleep in the barn, and seeing as our strange hostess is now trying to brain Sam with a fish I think we better be bolting the door behind us too!"  
 
The rain increased from a drizzle to a moderate downpour as the last of the sunlight slipped behind the hills.  Frodo pulled his and Sam's belongings into the dry barn and waited with the door just cracked open to snag Sam the next time he ran by.  As he waited, he gnawed on a handful of molasses-oat goat feed for lack of anything else and wished Tom had at least fed his animals carrots.  Judging by the ongoing cursing, wailing and squashing sounds, Sam ought to be coming around the corner again any minute now...

"Quit....*OW*....hitting....*THWACK*....me....*SMACK*....you....*BOOSH*. ..batty.....*SLAP*....old......*THWACK*.............!!!"
 
Before Sam could finish his sentance, he found himself in an old barn. Frodo had grabbed him by the collar and dragged him inside. Merry followed after.
 
"What was that all about?" Pippin asked, still poking the Ring, just cause he thought it was fun to hear it squeak. Frodo slapped his hand away.
 
"I don't know. I reckon she didn't want me makin my own food...maybe she was tryin to poison us or somethin..."
 
He glanced over to Merry and Pippin, who's hair were turning  strange green colors, and who's lips were becoming polka dotted...
 
Sam rubbed his eyes, and when the image didn't go away, he said, "I think I'll get to bed now. All that fish-slapping has made me down-right exhausted...."

Merry gasped, "Oh, no, what's happening to us!" He knocked Sam down as he made a beeline for a mirror tacked to the barn wall, without noticing the engraved words at the bottom PROPERTY OF ARWEN EVENSTAR.  
"Argh, look at me!" he wailed. "My hair's green and my skin is polka dotted! What did she DO to that shower gel!? It must make her sing stupid songs, and makes hobbits break out and get green hair!"
To the others' astonishment, Merry promptly stripped off and jumped into the horses' watering trough and frantically began scrubbing his hair and skin with a curry comb.

As it the darkness grew complete outside and the rain poured down in earnest, Goldberry finally gave up on finding that hobbit that had somehow given her the slip.  The remains of the battered koi still in her lovely and graceful hand, she went back into the house to seek some comfort in Tom's rhyming.  
 
She shut the door.  Giving careful consideration of the behavior of their guests and knowing they were still outside in that rain somewhere, she thoughtfully threw the deadbolt for good measure and slipped into the kitchen.  The headless koi lay on the counter, unable to return her gaze.  She had been fattening this particular koi for a special treat for her Tom, and was quite put out to have it truncated in quite this manner so soon.
 
Deciding she would just have to make the best of it, she reached for her mortar and pestle to start a fresh batch of koi poi, which would go well with their fish-crackers at breakfast.  Wherever their guests had got to, she wished them good riddance.

Seeing Merry's funny coloured hair gave Pippin pause for thought and he gave himself a once over in the mirror too.  
 
"Eyuck!" and turning he dashed out into the rain.  
 
Bouncing off the front door that was now obviously bolted he circled the house looking for an unlatched window.  
 
"Lucky for me this mad house has a wide overhanging roof or I'd be soaked by now" he thought as he turned  corner after corner. At the sixth corner he started to wonder just how big the cottage was, still not far along was a fat bearded figure sitting on a tatty looking couch who he could ask for help, food, or both.  
 
"Jeez mate, what's happened to you!?" the figure exclaimed standing up, and therefore obviously qualifying as a dwarf given the distance between Pippin's eyes and the approximate location of the figure's chin amongst the beard.
 
"I ate something orange the 'lady' inside offered us, do you know what it was, or why its turned my hair green? Only my cousin's going frankly bonkers, I don't think green goes as well on my head as on my weskit, and I'm really rather hungry."  
 
"Well, I dunno what I ken do about the colouring, ah yeh lips meant to be that colour by the way? Anyways if yeh hungry the catering van's parked up behind that barn," he pointed across the clearing to the barn that Pippin had left only a few minutes earlier "they'll give you a bite to eat for sure"
 
Pippin scuttled across the grass head bowed against the rain and darted around the barn to find a shiny white building. He couldn't smell any food, but maybe the rain was beating the aroma down. Climbing up the steps and inside he found a couple of the big people holding steaming cups "Hey mate we've closed for the day," one of them said in the same odd accent as the fat dwarf, but at Pippin's crestfallen look he added "all we've got left is coffee and donuts,"  
"Yes please!" came the reply  
"if you want some" the figure finished.
 
Pippin happily accepted both and after a few minutes was feeling much better...  
 
"Is your hair meant to be green?" 

There were scandalized gasps at the coffee shop door as Merry Brandybuck appeared in the doorway with wild greenish hair and skin raw from scrubbing, clad only in a barrel.
"Frodo and Sam are fighting over my yellow waistcoat, and I seem to have misplaced my trousers. Might you spare a cuppa for a cold, shivering hobbit with chafed skin?"
The coffee shop owner frowned. "You look like a Bucklander to me- ain't you the hobbits that play with boats?"
"So what if I am?" Merry responded with dignity. "My money is as good as my cousin's, and I'd like some of that excellent coffee."
"An' if I don't, what will ye do? Hit me with an oar?"  
Merry replied, "Well, an oar is meant to give a boat direction, and to move one forward. And if I did hit you with one, you would definitely move forward. Now, let's have some of that..."
"Oh, lor', look what's come in now!" somebody gasped and pointed.

Frodo grumpily pulled Merry's waistcoat back away from Sam and tried to get comfortable on the scratchy hay.  In spite of the warmth from the ponies, the rain was still coming down in buckets and the night was getting very chilly.    Sam shivered and sleepily yanked the waistcoat back.  Annoyed, Frodo finally got up and went over to Merry's ponies to dig around in the saddlebags for a more suitable blanket, leaving it to Sam.
 
He curled up in a nest of Pippin's winter clothing and vaguely wondered where the other two had gotten to before he slipping off into dreams of headless fish in the ocean, giant lilypads, a wizard on a tower laughing hysterically and strange black riders with big noses.

"Oh, lor', look what's come in now!" somebody gasped and pointed.  
 
 
A small blue haze entered the catering van as the Bucklebury Fairy came in out of the rain, shivering with cold and wet.  
 
"Someone said there were still coffee and donuts here..."  
 
A steaming mug was held up and the figure happily wrapped itself around the the mug for warmth.
 
"Er...excuse me," Pippin piped up "you wouldn't know who could, or maybe even be able to yourself, help out people who've been turned funny colours by Goldberry's cooking...would you?"
 
Merry gratefully accepted the mug of hearty mocha java and sipped appreciatively, but listened with hopeful heart to the Bucklebury Fairy. He kept his eyes on the fairy, at least, but his hand strayed over to try to pinch Pippin's donut.
The fairy's face was grave. "Alas," he said sadly, "I fear there is no cure for Goldberry's cooking. The first step is green hair and polka dotted lips. The second step is spots before the eyes. The third and final step is insanity and constant intonation of the phrase 'dilly dilly dol."
Merry's mug crashed to the floor.
"The Quest is ended," he wailed, and fell to the floor in a heap of tears. At that moment, he was Meriadoc the Mightily Miserable.

Far, far away in the peaceful heart of the Shire the Old Gaffer stirred in his sleep and mumbled something about taters being the cure for every ill, then took a bite out of his pillow.
 
 
Thankfully, he had remembered to take out his dentures so no harm was done by it,  not to the pillow nor to the teeth grinning softly in thier glass on the bedside table, nor to the taters safely doing whatever it is taters do in their dusty sack in the kitchen.

The fairy looked at Pippin sadly (and a bit blearily).
"Maybe there is something, I just can't think very clearly at the moment. Chin up! You can always use the excuse that you went swimming after bleaching your hair...Some coffee please, master dwarf. ...Thankyou..."
The little blue fairy quite uncharacteristically plopped herself down next to Pip and downed the huge mug of java in an unfairylike gulp.
Suddenly what was at first a tired haze of blue became a bright blue glow.
 
"Ahh...that feels much better. Hmm...your cousin seems to be having seizures over there. You might want to get him into something besides a barrel. It could be dangerous." Pippin's eyes widened at this. It actually looked quite comicle under his bright green hair (which was now starting to show streaks of purple).
 
The Bucklebury Fairy babbled on.
"...Well now. What were we talking about? Oh yes, Goldberry's meals. Completely unpalatable if I do say so myself..."
 
Pippin started and peered at Merry, still on the ground, who had suddenly gone quiet. The fairy glanced over at him.
 
"...And the only thing I've ever run into that works for a cure is smooshed spuds."
 
Pip was now over by Merry, poking him with a stick. For some reason, his cousin's emotions had gone bonkers.  Every time Pippin poked him, he giggled insanely, but was otherwise quiet.
 
As the fairy said the word 'cure',  anyone who was paying attention could have practically seen his ears perk up.
 
"What was that?"
 
"Oh, well, I just remembered that the only cure I'd heard of for your case is smooshed spuds! Well, I'll just be going now. See you all later!" She smiled and fluttered off into the trees.
 
The last thing to be heard behind her was a hobbit's voice, "Smooshed spuds? What are spuds? Maybe Sam would know..."

Merry smelled potatoes.
Mmmm...wonderful, mealy, fried-with-fish-or-mashed-with-butter-or-baked-with-cheese-and-bacon-pot atoes.
All three kinds?
In a coffee shop?
That only sold donuts?
He tried to open his eyes, but for some reason everything was dark.
He tried to speak, but his mouth seemed to be full.
He reached up and tried to brush whatever it was off his eyes.
He gasped-and nearly choked on a loaded baked potato in the process.
His barrel was full to the brim with 'smooshed potatoes' which Sam was mashing with a huge shovel-there were fried potatoes in his ears and over his eyes and he held a loaded baked potato in each hand.
"What in the name of Aunt Daffy's handkerchiefs is going on?" he yelled.
"It's the only way, Merry," Pippin whispered. "You must have a bath of potatoes, and Sam has been cooking them all morning to make sure you have all the right kinds."
"Only way for what?" Merry shrieked.  
"To be cured...of The Goldberry Fever," Pippin whispered."The fairy said it's the only way. Otherwise..." He drew a finger dramatically across his throat.
Merry stared, and then licked his lips.
"They need more butter, Sam," he said.

Pippin thanked his lucky stars, in finding first the caterers, then the Bucklebury Fairy and her excellent memory. After all he'd been able to get an early cure with some of the caterers own taters as on hearing the cure they'd happily lit their (admittedly curious) fires and opened the cupboards.
 
Merry had been deemed as 'probably a goner, we'll sort you out first mate, at least you asked nicely for a cuppa' and so had waited comatose. As he'd twitched as some of the skins and scraps were chucked in his barrel, while the cooks made Pippin mashed spuds with a side order of potato salad and a potato omelette. They reconsidered and when Sam staggered in looking tired and cold (and with Merry's weskit hanging from one ear) at the smell of cooking spuds, he'd been put in charge of reviving Merry with as many galloons of cooked taters as he could.
 
Pippin sat back coffee and a plate of chips to hand and checked his reflection in one of the caterers' pan lids.  
"That's better, hair, eyes, lips and skin all the right colours".
 
Merry was looking better too, although he'd reek of taters for ages after this.  
 
"Hey Sam, where'd you leave Frodo?"


Elrohir serched high and low for his precious.  It was not in his saddle bags, nor in his brother's.  It was not in the stream, tho he did find a sodden Esperanto/ Sindarin/Westron phrasebook.  It was not in the Willow Man's branches nor Goldberry's wading pool.  Elladan helped his brother look by sitting on his horse and shouting insults, then fishing out his mirror and preening for a couple of hours.
 
Finally about to admit defeat, Elrohir suddenly spotted a large black squirrel, crouching on the ground near the roots of Old Man Willow, nibbling on his script!
 
"Gotcha, you little vermin..." Elrohir leapt after the rodent who fled laughing back into the forest, trailing leaves of parchment.
 
Elladan shook his head and followed slowly, trying not to muss his drying hair.


Sam looked around and saw Frodo dozing in a pile of Au gratin potatoes. He looked over to the pile of potato salad and he sat down next to it. As he scooped some into his mouth, he tried making sense of what all went on.....getting slapped with a fish...falling asleep in a barn and dreaming of dancing fish, spuds, and mushrooms, and being woken up by Pippin chucking potatoes at him....then having to cook a gross of potatoes to make Merry and Pippin stop turning weird colors........
 
Sam dozed off in his pile o' potatoes.....

The sun rises on the just and the unjust alike, and so it rose upon the house of Tom Bombadil, and his barn and catering trailer also.  The sky slowly turned from deepest blue to rosy pink, like Pippin whenever Merry stops choking him, reflected Frodo looking blearily out onto the rain-washed and misty world.
 
He crawled up out of the heap of now-cold potato casserole and wiping the worst of it off scrounged through the various dishes until he found a breakfast version of the stuff.  Once properly filled with warmed-over hashbrowns, he began kicking the others awake.
 
"Get the ponies ready, the rain has stopped and we're getting out of here before anything else strange happens to us.  If we hurry we can go straight into that fogbank down there and these odd dilly-dally-dol people won't be able to follow us - c'mon!"

Merry's mama had always told him an ounce of prevention was worth a pound of cure, but Merry didn't want to get it wrong, so he had coated his insides with potatoes as thoroughly as he had his outside to ward off the dreaded Goldberry Fever. Now, bloated with last night's starchy excess, his yellow waistcoat (which he'd managed to wrestle from Sam) tied around his neck since he could no longer button it over his stomach, he stared through smooshed potato smeared eyelids up at an annoyed Frodo.
He started to say that he would be up in half a moment, he just needed a little time to stretch.
All that came out was a very stale potatoey belch.
"I feel much better now," he said, blushing fiercely. "I'm ready to go now, Frodo."