The Archer Mice of Middle-earth

by Varda

The Mines of Mousia

'The mines of Mousia!' breathed Legomouse, peering down the long dark tunnel off which ran the famous mines. The air was thick with cobwebs.
'My hair will be ruined!' he moaned.

'Typical pansy Elf remark!' cried Gilmouse, bounding forward over the fallen masonry.
'Rubble!' he cried. 'Give me good rubble any day......d'ye know the song?
'There is nothing like a mine!
Nothing in the world
There is nothing you can name
That is anything like a mine..!'

'Shouldn't that be 'dame', not 'mine'?' asked Boromouse with a frown.
'Yeah' said Frodent. ''Mine' doesn't rhyme with name!'
'Mister Frodent's right!' gushed Sammouse. 'He loves musicals, Rogers and Hammermouse are favourites of his...'
'I would be happy, Sammouse....' said Frodent through knotted whiskers '...if you did not share that with the company...'
'Yeah' thought Aramouse to himself. 'The Ringbearer likes 'South Pacific', scary.....'

'Stop fooling about you lot!' snapped Wizardmouse.
'Every mouse must beware!' he went on, striding forward with his staff held aloft. It was a converted fountain pen, and at the top glowed a bulb powered by a LED battery, borrowed from someone's bedside clock.
'There are older and fouler things than tabby cats in the earth...'
'I'm home!' cried Gilmouse, holding his tiny axe aloft. 'My cousin Balmouse rules here, and soon we will feast on lots of red cheddar and wensleydale...'

Aramouse stubbed his toe on a dwarfmouse skull.
'Somehow, I doubt it...' he said.
Gilmouse looked down at the dwarfmouse bones and gave an agonised squeak.
'My cousin!'
'Oh come on!' said Boromouse impatiently. 'That could be any mouse! How do you know it's your cousin?'
'I was speaking figuratively' said Gilmouse, drawing himself up to his full dwarfmouse height. Wizardmouse snapped;
'Stop messing about you two! We must make a start. It is a three day journey to the other side, and we must hope our passing will go unnoticed....'
He eyed the Fellowship with one bushy eyebrow raised. '...but that is as likely as getting a Dwarfmouse to part willingly with a five pound note...'
'What?' asked Gilmouse. 'What did he say.....?'

Deep, deep into the mines the Fellowship went, led by Mousrandir's staff. A great hall opened up, vast and high-ceilinged. Its extent was hidden in gloom.
'What a nasty hole!' exclaimed Sammouse.
'This is no hole!' replied Gilmouse aghast. 'And anyway, coming from a halfmouse who lives in hole in the ground, that is pretty steep...'
'A smial is not a hole in the ground' stoutly replied Merrimouse.
'No' added Pipsqueak under his breath. 'It is a hole in the ground with warm fires, food, lots of nice home-made cakes and griddle bread and toasted cheese....'
Sammouse's whiskers twitched hungrily. Wizardmouse held up his staff.
'No more talking about food! Luckily, Wizardmice don't get hungry. Follow me!'

Just then Gilmouse tripped over a helmet on the ground. Inside it was a skull. He let out a cry of dismay.
'Another cousin?' asked Legomouse waspishly.
'No!' wailed Gilmouse, breaking into a run towards a conveniently open door and dashing inside a large room lit by a bright spotlight. In the middle was a tomb.....on it was carved the words;
'Here lies Balmouse, son of Funmouse, Lord of Mousia....'
Gilmouse threw himself on the tomb, sobbing.
'So Balmouse is gone then..' said Wizardmouse sombrely, removing his large blue pointed hat and handing it to a baffled Pipsqueak.
'I thought as much.....not a single postcard in all these years....'

'No...!' wailed Gilmouse. Legomouse leaned over and whispered to Aramouse;
'Well if the old boy has swung his last axe, let's split, man!'
Aramouse nodded agreement. Just then wild cries echoed from the hall outside. Boromouse ran to look out. He ducked back inside as arrows rained down on the door.
'Orc-rats!' he called. '...and they have something else....a Tabby Cat!'
'Oh no! ' cried all four Halfmice. 'Not a Tabby!'
'I told you it was a trap' said Aramouse to Mousrandir. But the old Wizardmouse just shook his head.
'Not a trap, Aramouse. A mouse trap, ha ha ha....'

'Why don't I think that's funny?' mused Frodent as the chamber echoed to the furry weight of a well-fed tabby cat hurling itself against the creaking timbers of the door.....