The Archer Mice of Middle-earth

by Varda

Mission to Mousegiliath

‘This was once the armour of a Mouse-prince of this city....’ snarled Pipsqueak as he struggled to squeeze his rotund little torso into a modified tuna tin and compress his large round ears into a tiny helm fashioned from the metal cap of a Budweiser beer bottle.

‘He must have had to starve for a week before a battle to get into this!’ grumped Pipsqueak, sitting down in exhaustion on a stone bench in the armoury of the great citadel of Mouse Tirith, where the tiny halfmouse had just sworn his allegiance to the stern Steward of the Cheddar, Denemouse.

Pip looked down at the tuna tin. ‘I hope it was dolphin friendly tuna....’ he thought. Just then a roar of laughter made him leap to his feet. The beer bottle cap flew off his head and rolled to the feet of a tall handsome mouse with long, curled golden hair and an impressive suit of armour made from an asparagus tin. Faramouse strode forward and thumped the halfmouse on the back. Pip’s whiskers almost came loose and he choked, but the tall princemouse did not notice.

‘You must be the halfmouse everymouse is talking about!’ roared the tall blonde mouse. He would have slapped Pipsqueak on the back again but he ducked, and only got the breeze as Faramouse’s mailed paw sailed over his head.
‘Yes...’ replied Pipsqueak, straightening up and trying to sound dignified. ‘I am he’
‘And they’ve given you my old armour, by the Mouse!’ chortled Faramouse, tapping his paw on Pipsqueak’s tight, shining breastplate, making his insides reverberate.
‘It’s a bit small!’ snapped the halfmouse, raising a paw to keep any further rappings at bay. The blonde Mouse Prince thought this was hilarious. He roared with laughter and cried;
‘Small! Of course it is small, I was only ten when I wore it! But come to think of it, I think you need a bit more length of leg if you are to fit it, old mouselet....’

And Faramouse glanced down at the skirts of Pipsqueak’s mail, which were dragging the ground.
Pip followed the princemouse’s gaze and threw up his paws in despair.
‘Oh, what am I doing here?’ he cried. ‘What help can I possibly be in the service of a great prince of Mice like Denemouse?’
‘Um.....cannon fodder?’ asked Faramouse thoughtfully, stroking his long silvery whiskers and flashing Pipsqueak a dazzling smile. The halfmouse looked horrified.
‘That is not what you are supposed to say!’ he snapped. ‘You are supposed to lead, to inspire,’
‘I know!’ said Faramouse suddenly. ‘You can come with me to father and help persuade him to send me out on a hopelessly doomed mission!’
‘A....what?’ said Pipsqueak, a glazed look coming over his bright beady eyes. ‘On second thoughts, I think I’ll stay right here....’

‘No, no!’ said Faramouse, clapping his paws on Pip’s shoulders encased in the tuna tin. ‘You don’t understand! You don’t have to come. In fact the last thing I want alongside me on my great last mission is some miniature mouse...’
‘Now just hold on a minute....’ said Pipsqueak, getting angry. But Faramouse was not to be dissuaded.
‘Come on! Father is about to have dinner. He’ll grant you anything when he is eating, he can’t think of two things at once....’

And so Pipsqueak found himself in the presence of the Great Steward of the Cheddar of Mouse Tirith. Prince Faramouse poured out his tale of how he lost Mousegiliath and the great mouselord Denemouse eyed him sternly as serfmice rushed in with platters made from large flattened metal buttons which held a variety of choice dishes from roast squirrel to stuffed sparrow. Denemouse sat on a high throne which was made from an upturned Royal Albert china sugar-bowl and eyed the feast hungrily. So did Pipsqueak, but none of the food was offered to him....

‘Father, I want to ride out on a totally hopeless mission to retake Mousegiliath...’asked Faramouse in ringing tones.
‘You don’t say....’ mumbled his father through a mouthful of squirrel. ‘Whatever for?’

This question floored Faramouse for some moments till Pipsqueak hissed at him;
‘To retake Mousegiliath for Gondor and keep the orcats at bay!’
Faramouse shook his head angrily and hissed back at the halfmouse;
‘Not that, stupid. I want to get roses thrown at me and pieces of paper with lady mice phone numbers on them...’ Pipsqueak clapped a paw over his eyes in despair. Faramouse called to his father in a loud, brave voice;
‘Father, do I have your permission to throw my life and most of your army away on a hopeless errand?’
‘More braised water vole, my lord?’ simpered an attendant mouse. ‘It is the chef’s particular speciality...’
‘Yes, of course...’ said Lord Denemouse, eyeing the dish hungrily.

‘Yessss!’ said Faramouse and turned to dart out of the hall. Pipsqueak tried to stop him but Faramouse shook him off. ‘It was always Boromouse who got the girlmice!’ he said pettishly. ‘Now it’s my turn...’
Then drawing himself up to his full height and flinging back his curled golden locks which Pipsqueak suspected were permed, Faramouse said dramatically;
‘Father, when I return, think better of me!’
Just as he said this an attendant, bowing low, also murmured to Denemouse;
‘My lord, the chef asks can he have the job permanent...’, and so Lord Denemouse said in a loud voice;
‘That will depend on the manner of the stewed vole!’

And Faramouse was gone.
Pipsqueak stood watching him leave, disconsolate and hungry. After a few moments Lord Denemouse said to him;
‘Can you sing, Master Halfmouse?’
Pipsqueak shrugged.
‘Well the odd singalong at the pub, or a knees-up at home I suppose....’
‘What manner of song?’ demanded Denemouse, chewing rather more vigorously than he had anticipated on a chunk of vole.
‘Well, I quite like Abba....’ said Pipsqueak, but Denemouse shook his head.
‘Too Seventies...’
‘Barry White?’ Denemouse still shook his head.
‘Too early in the day’
‘I know!’ said Pip, brightening up. Something for Faramouse!’

And at that the tiny halfmouse took a deep breath and launched into his song;
‘You know I can’t smile without you
Can’t laugh without you
I can’t sing....’
‘He got that last one right...’ whispered one of the attendants to another at the end of the hall.

And as Faramouse and his doomed warriors rode out of Mouse Tirith on their fatal mission, the smooth romantic tones of Barry Manilow wafting over their heads till it reached the baffled ranks of the orcats waiting for them in the ruins of Mousegiliath....