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Old 18-01-2011, 04:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Drink and Tell in Middle Earth - The Keg


Gather around devotees of the bold,
there´s still some room by the fire.
One more story remains to be told
to each patron that tale tide desire.

Grab your tankard then lend me your ear,
My fee is a bargain. One stoop for each leg
laugh if you´re merry, for laughter is near
when you learn of the girl and

************************************************** ******
* * * * * * * * The Keg * * * * * * * *
************************************************** ******

Chapter One – The Heroes of Tuckborough

The air always seems to be especially fresh during springtime to me, during that time of the year when everything all around is just waking up from a long winter period of numbness and slumbering. This was one of those evenings, when the temperature was neither particularly hot or cold, but the wind still carried a somewhat chilly reminder that nature and everything that was tied to it had only recently taken the first steps towards a voluminous and recurring metamorphosis. There would be some time yet before it would truly spring to life, the way it had always done each innumerable year from the moment of its birth.

Me, Reimou, Andelas and Fenguil were just about to disband our small fellowship of four and go our separate ways after successfully defending the little halfling village of Tuckborough, intercepting it from being overrun by soldiers of the Enemy. All in all it had been a swell night of goblin-squashing and especially Andelas seemed very pleased. He struck to me as suddenly have grown at least half an inch taller as he was posturing and blowing kisses to the many hobbit-girls who were shoving and pushing each other to get his attention, thanking him for saving their little town. Well, we were all pleased of course and I for one was looking forward to just let the cooling Astron(*) night breeze clear my head and thoughts while riding home to where my bed and pillow awaited.

(*) Astron is the 4th month of the Shire Calendar. http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Shire_Calendar.

”Party time, folks!” The yelling was loud. The voice of the screamer was unmistakably Reimou´s. His face had developed that particularly obsessed look of his that he could get sometimes when he got excited. I could see it in his eyes. It was that half-crazed, ecstatic stare into nothingness that most often came over him whenever bad news which he always referred to as ”good times” awaited. ”Let´s have a real PARTY!”
”You and your never ending party fever, Reim. It´s not healthy, you know. I´m exhausted and the only party I am going to attend right now is the one I will dream about after falling asleep in my bed.”, I replied maybe a bit more harsh than I had intended.
”The sun is setting. The land will soon rest. I shall set camp and follow its example”, was Fenguil´s short answer as he peered the border between the fields and the forest for a spot best sheltered from rain that might or might not fall during darker hours. Andelas seemed already blind to anything else going on around him, devoured by the massive attention he was attracting from all the little female hobbits that were swarming him, fascination and gratefulness sparkling from their eyes. He seemed very content with the situation.
”You fun-resenting weaklings! Bah! I should have known better than to imply the very thought of having some real fun for a change to the kinds of you.” Reimou sounded disappointed. Abandoned. Or a little mad. In fact, he sounded the lot of it.
”To the kinds of... what do you mean by that?” Andelas had turned around, no longer fully mesmerized.
”Yes.. what exactly are you saying, master dwarf”, Fenguil inquired.
”Exactly what I just said!”, Reimou raged on. ”First of all we have the weak-willed, always so depressed mankind representative here. Your kind never wants to do anything fun, you hide behind masks of obligation and guilt, be it real or imaginary must-do´s. Your kind would not know true fun even if it jumped up and slapped you on both cheeks, and were you ever actually persuaded into joining something genuinely enjoyable you would just infect it with all the negativity that you always carry with you, complaining to the left and to the right, blaming everyone in hearing range for this and that and contaminating everything and everyone with your pessimism like an illness that spreads in the wind.”
”Wha...”, I inflicted with little success.

”And the elves. Ooh, don´t even get me started about the elves”, Reimou´s rant continued. ”Living in perfect harmony and equilibrium with the nature and fitting into your own society are the only things you stiff-ears ever think about. I mean, it is all good in moderation and important and so forth, but you bush-whisperers just take it one step too far. And the worst part is, you have no idea how boring you have become. That is, unless you were not just that in the first place to begin with. Boring! You are so boring that your idea of a good party is to sing to trees and hug them. You are so boring that you feel you must hire outsiders who are just passing through your pretty gardens to admonish your own kin when that once-in-a-century so called celebration finally takes place. And on top of it all you have become so feeble in thought and body that if some misguided poor elf would actually suffer from a bit of excessive indulgence, they either fall asleep or mentally ill! I have heard the crazed ramblings of Lothlórien revellers, oh I know all about them. Your finest youth, so tied up and controlled by society and codex of behavior that the first and probably last opportunity they get of letting go of it all, just a little bit, only leads to major awkwardness. They do not know how to do it anymore. They are clueless. You would never see a dwarf act in such a manner, not even after his twenty-fifth tankard of ale, that I can guarantee. Why? Because we know all about fun and moderation, that´s why. And we have endurance too.”
”Yes, master dwarf. Moderation is your finest quality.” Fenguil´s remark was short. As if he did not care much. But the tone in his voice was more dry, more cold than many things I had heard him utter in a long time to anyone. And most certainly not to one of his best friends. Reimou did not pick up on it. Or it simply just did not matter to him at this point. Apparently there was still more to come. More wind to set free from the storming bellows.

”A few words about halflings then”, said Reimou and shifted his stare from Fenguil to Andelas. ”Unreliable. Untrustworthy. Granted, more sense of how to have fun and enjoy life than both mankind and elves combined, but in the end not a very good company.”
”Hullo?! I happen to be the key ingredient for a magnificent social sensation”, said Andelas, clearly neither happy about Reimou`s statement, nor in agreement of it.
”No, you´re really not. More like a social emancipation, if anything. You and your furry-footed little sneaky likes live every day as if there was no tomorrow. You eat too much and then you eat some more. You eat everybody else´s rations too, and then you have a snack . And when there are no pies, potatoes, breads, salads or cupcakes left you pass out in your beds for so long and so deep... and so loud that one would think you have been working very hard from early morning ´til late evening, when in fact you have filled your entire day with two things – doing nothing and eating. And if you don´t sleep until early afternoon then you are breeding like shrews. If two hobbits were to walk into an empty house I guarantee you, a few hours later an entire horde of hungry hobbits will march out of that very house and head for the nearest set dinner table, ready to pick it clean with plates and cups and tablecloth and everything. And wherever there are halflings, there will be set dinner tables.. or breakfast.. or lunch.. or supper.. or elevensies and second breakfast and snacks and picnics and moreandmore and more food. Bah!”

Last edited by Eiyja; 18-01-2011 at 09:17 PM.
Old 18-01-2011, 04:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Chapter Two – Good Times

I don´t know if it was because of the taunting discussion alone.. or the person behind the words. Or maybe it was due to the wild rush that the whole day of fighting goblin foot soldiers had been, which then later had been followed by an exchange of heated words between good friends, but some or all of those things were making it impossible for my thoughts to calm down. Whatever the cause and despite my own attentions of crawling into a nice warm bed, instead of getting a well deserved rest I was now sitting in the main hall within our kinship house, participating in some kind of drinking game together with my comrades in arms. If the rules were ever explained properly in the first place they were now shady at best. But the goal was unmistakable – to get as fueled up as possible. And preferably then some. It is worth mentioning that we were making good progress too. I could already feel my braincells swimming around inside my head. A big keg of musty dwarven ale stood solemnly on the floor and the four of us were sitting on cushions in some kind of half-circle, partially surrounding the large keg.
”You *hic* are my besht friendsh.” Reimou was hammered. Drunk or sober, he had no problems sharing his thoughts with us. He winked at us. He looked pleased. Intentional or not, his tantrum earlier today had worked in his favor and now all four of us were here having a so called real party with real fun, doing our best to focus on the contents of the big keg and to master each other in stamina and stay-awake-ability.

My intention was of course to emote some of that friendship back to the source. To tell Reimou that I appreciated him and that there were no hard feelings for whatever he had said in his disappointed, upset state of mind earlier today, that he by the way most likely did not mean to say to any of us in the first place. I think I even meant to add something encouraging about his effort to find ways of entertainment for all of us and how fortunate we in fact were to be able to sit down together like this in a place that we could call our own and just have a nice time and relax after our great victory at the battle of Tuckborough. Surely so many great things deserved a toast, and if nobody else would call for one soon then I should definitely step up and do it. I also wanted to take the opportunity to inquire what kind of delicious beverage he had kept in the keg. It was dark, rich and spicy, and it came with a massive body of thick, white foam that formed a perfect crown on top of my tankard every time I yanked the tap for a refill. I assumed it was nothing of the ordinary kind, but rather something very exclusive. It resembled nothing I had ever tasted in my life, both in strength and flavor. And there was still lots of it to go around.
”Hwsnnth *burp* bwrrill... Nnnnd*`*%&#:#Yesh! Brrrr uuuhttrrr..”, was all the sense I was capable of making as I put down my tankard in Fenguil´s lap, pointing wildly with my right index finger at Reimou´s beard and shaking my left hand thumb, pumping it up and down towards the massive dwarven keg of ale. I could not see but rather feel my eyes rolling around in their sockets like the eyes of someone seriously deranged and my breath burned so strong in my mouth that I with little effort could have lit campfires or courted dragons just by exhaling.
”Elbereth(**)”, said Fenguil and we all laughed so much that my stomach started to hurt and the ceiling started to spin. Round and round, faster and faster.. I'm not sure what was so funny but right then and right there it did not matter much, all I know is I had never felt so great as I felt in that very moment. The ceiling was twirling around even faster. The shapes and colors all blurred together, even as I closed my eyes I could see the rotating mix thoroughly etched on the insides of my eyelids... Elbereth, lit me a candle la-laa. Elbereth grab me a fistful of *burp* stars... Elbereth...

(**) Elbereth Gilthoniel is an elvish hymn to Varda in J. R. R. Tolkien´s The
Lord of the Rings. Unless being familiar with the region of Lothlórien in the
online game The Lord of the Rings Online you probably can not fully appre-
ciate the context. A Elbereth Gilthoniel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Old 18-01-2011, 04:36 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Chapter Three – Whaa... Wheere?

I am swimming. I am drowning. I am dreaming that I am trying to swim in a big black ocean of water that is constantly trying to pull me down below, reaching for my legs and my waist with big, black, liquid tentacles, tugging me wherever it can reach, cold and grasping. Or am I really dreaming?

I woke up in the most disoriented state possible. An overwhelming, pounding headache was torturing every square inch of me from the neck and above, hammering my head as if the brain itself was trying to break through my skull bone with a pickaxe. Something inside my head must have awakened and was now tearing down its prison walls piece by piece, looking to create a hole big enough for it to leap through and escape. The pain was relentless. I was lying face forward on my stomach in a freezing body of water and I realized that I was unable to breathe. I panicked. The lack of life supporting air and that murdering headache combined almost sent me back into unconsciousness. I started flapping wildly with my arms in desperation but it did not help me at all. My heart was pumping all the blood inside my body onwards so thoroughly that I could hear it, feel it rush around in my head and taste it in my mouth. I could sense water splashing in all directions as I followed through with my bird-like performance. My stomach was revolting and I figured it wouldn´t take much more before a vein would pop. I recall suppressing a growing desire to hurl when I felt someone grabbing me by the back of my collar. Helping me up. Soaking wet and still with arms wildly flapping on both sides I took off towards the sky, leaving the cold, black ocean down below..


I squinted with cloudy eyes. Shaky but in an upright position I was now standing on my own two feet. I tried my best to penetrate that mist of pain and drunkenness that covered my vision like a thick, itchy blanket. Where was I? What place was this?
”How are you feeling?” The voice was Fenguil´s, that much I was able to comprehend.
”Horrible.” And it was no lie.
”Do your best to recover. We must find the others. And try to locate your pants.” For a moment I was baffled. Then I finally realized where I truly was. I was standing in the middle of the Boar Fountain in Bree, knee deep in water... naked from the waistline and down. I could hear Fenguil chuckle at me.
”Uh.. I must have been very drunk”, I mumbled. Not quite sure what else to add. My pants were nowhere in sight. I felt cold and ashamed. Fenguil looked like he had something to say but was not quite able to say it. Bubbling with laughter he had temporarily lost all ability to communicate. Instead he kept on frenetically giggling. I remember thinking things could possibly not get any worse when I saw an elderly couple approach us from the town gate in the east. They halted their late night walk for a moment, just staring at the elf and the woman with no pants, shaking their heads in disapproval before continuing on towards the town hall in the south. The woman was still pointing her finger at me as they disappeared around the corner, clearly upset. My cheeks were blushing red from pure embarrassment and I did not know which way to turn. Fenguil was rolling around on the ground, roaring with laughter.
”See this, here. Two sets of footprints, matching the size of our own feet”, he said after some time and gestured towards sets of barely visible marks on the muddy stone tiled street. He had stopped laughing hysterically and apparently regained some self control. ”The past few hours are just one big blur to me, and judging by your own appearance you know just as little as I do. So I suggest we follow our own tracks and hopefully it will help us find Andelas and Reimou.” I had no objections, I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible.

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Old 18-01-2011, 04:37 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Chapter Four – Lost and Found

The tracks lead us up the main street of Bree in a north-going direction, towards the Prancing Pony. As we were approaching this merry establishment, often sought out by travelers who were in need of a hot meal, a pitcher of ale and a roof over their heads for the night, I spotted something very familiar. It was a most welcomed sight. Halfway up in one of the trees outside the Pony, in what I estimated to be just within my reach if I stretched out a little, I could see my beloved pants swinging in the wind, hooked on one of its branches. I had never appreciated my pants more than I did right there in that moment. That said, I shall never know for certain if I would indeed have been capable of retrieving my pants from the tree on my own and without the use of sticks, acrobatics, leaping cats, sorcery or any other kind of gizmos. Fenguil had already made up his mind. Surely this was one of those moments when a true friend needs to lend a helping hand. Apparently thinking that it was a good idea, he raised his bow and took aim.

The arrow made a sharp whistling noise in the night as it crossed the distance between Fenguil´s longbow and my beloved, poor pants with a speed that made me fear for their well being. An almost silent sound that reminded me of someone coughing could be heard as the arrow found its target. A split second later my beloved, poor, aerodynamic pants lifted off from the tree, commencing their rapid journey through the sky and quite literally scared the living crap out of the several dozens of birds who had been foolhardy enough to seek out that same tree, looking for shelter amongst its leaves and who had been nesting on its branches. Clusters of birds were suddenly catapulting from the crown of the tree in all directions, chasing off one another with loud warnings. Meanwhile the arrow with its more than usually heavy load started to lose both speed and altitude. It made a hollow sound as it finally buried itself into a beam that was part of the woodwork which helped supporting the eastern city wall.
”You could at least have bothered to clear the fire oil before you do that!”, I howled in anger before I charged the wall to retrieve what was mine. Or what would soon be left of it. The fire had already started to engulf parts of the textile and the nearby area was suddenly a lot brighter as my beloved, poor, aerodynamic, scorched pants beamed of light that chased away the surrounding darkness.

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Last edited by Eiyja; 18-01-2011 at 05:08 PM.
Old 18-01-2011, 04:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Chapter Five – The Prancing Pony

Though both, Fenguil looked more amused than sorry as he opened the door to the Prancing Pony. He was kind enough to hold it open for me and I stepped through, now wearing my beloved, poor, aerodynamic, scorched pants with a hole in them!!! I could hear music and sounds of clapping. Most nights you would find all kinds of bards and minstrels raising the spirit of the enthusiastic audience, whose appreciation tended to increase with the pace of the ale running out the bar taps. This night was no exception, part from the fact that the so called minstrels who were now entertaining the crowd were our good friends Andelas and Reimou. They were both dripping of a mix of beer and perspiration, and I could see pearls of sweat glancing from Andelas´ forehead as he had jumped up on a table in the middle of the room, dancing around on top of it. Reimou was standing there too, downing tankards in a faster pace than anyone else could keep up with and stomping the surface of the table with his two feet. The whole floor was filled with people, applauding and cheering them both and then Andelas started to sing, now accompanied by hundreds of clapping palms and trampling feet and one poor drowned out lute that could not really be heard from somewhere in the back of the room.

I am a fearless Bounder(***), a mighty protector of Shire.
I eat til I grow rounder, pork chops roasted on fire.
I drink a cup of apple cider,
my waistline´s expanding even wider
And when I'm fed
then I shall wed
and bring to my bed
the First Shirriff´s(***) daughter
I already taught her`
that no one else matches her lust and desire
but meeeeeeee. The mighty protector of Shi-reee!

(***) Shirriffs (sing. Shirriff) are the police force of the Shire
The Shirriffs who patrol the borders of the Shire to ensure
that outsiders do not cause trouble are called Bounders.
The Mayor of Michel Delving oversees all the Shirriffs
and therefore he bears the title of First Shirriff.
Groups & Titles of Middle-earth and Numenor

The room exploded with laughter and cries of approval as Andelas took a bow and stepped down from the abused bar table. When he discovered me and Fenguil by the door he made signs towards the bar desk near one of the walls and then he began to shove and push his way through the massive stream of people that were standing in his way to reach it. After a couple of futile attempts he yanked Reimou by the sleeve and this time the progress was faster and easier, as Reimou took the lead, using his heavy shield to create a path wide enough for both of them to slip through.

”Now this is what I call a real party, not quite as great as the legendary festivals in Thorin´s Hall of course, but still very nice”, Reimou boasted as we all met up by the bar desk.
”Best fun I have had in ages. What happened to your pants?” Andelas wanted to know, pointing at the big, scorched hole that fortunately did not cover the crouch but rather a large area immediately next to it.
”I have no idea how they ended up in that tree in the first place”, I mumbled. ”But as I´m traveling with a trigger-happy pyromaniac elf who seems to be itching for some target practice, it is a very fortunate thing that I still have any piece of clothing left at all to call pants”, I continued and gave Fenguil a long stare.
”Maybe you tossed them up there. You know, right before you went on for that swim.” Andelas suggested.
”Aye, you and Fenguil both were quite.. under the influence, so you dared all of us to take a swim in the Boar Fountain. Soon after that both of you disappeared”, Reimou explained.
”We figured you would come back after you had your little fun, but you were gone for quite some time”, Andelas said. ”We were almost starting to get worried”.
”But never too worried”, Reimou laughed.
”I think I passed out.. I don´t remember any.. I don´t even remember us leaving the kin house, even less do I recall traveling all the way to Bree.”
”Nor do I”, Fenguil inflicted. ”Swim in a public water fountain, what nonsense is this? I would never participate in such childish games.” Fenguil sounded prideful and sincere. I would have believed him too, but the water dripping from his soaked clothes told us a different story.
”So I guess it is just raining outside then?”, Reimou commented and pointed on the puddles of water that were expanding on the floor all around me and Fenguil.
”I guess so, master dwarf”, Fenguil snapped back at him. I did not have the energy to listen to them quarrel any longer. I was miles away from the Shire Homesteads where both my own house and our kinship house were located so I decided to do the next best thing, to rent a room from Barliman Butterbur, the owner of the Prancing Pony. I paid for the room, dragged my tired legs up the stairs and plunged into bed. I think I fell asleep before my head even touched the pillow.

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Old 18-01-2011, 04:42 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Chapter Six – Aftermath

I woke up with a massive cold sometime around noon the next day. My body was burning hot with fever and there was not a dry spot or corner to be found anywhere on the sweat soaked sheets that I was lying on. I wondered if I had been out swimming again sometimes during the previous night, but I had no recollection of doing any such thing. Apparently I had gotten it bad, and though I did not know it at the time, it would take me a whole week before I would feel well enough to get up from my sickbed.

The first couple of days I was not even capable of sitting up in the bed. I was not able to eat properly so Barliman had to come up to my room and feed me onion and mushroom soup in one of those bottles that normally are used for feeding small children. I really felt quite ridiculous slurping soup in such a manner, but I knew it would help me to regain my strength. Due to the high fever I had some bad shakes and I had no choice but to stay at the Prancing Pony until I had made some recovery. I had received news that Fenguil had a bit of a sore throat but was otherwise feeling just fine. I envied him for that and wished that I too had been born with some of that elven resistance against sickness. A few days later Reimou came to see me. By that time I was doing somewhat better although I still felt quite weakened from the illness and the exhaustion it inflicted on me. He pulled out a chair from the corner of the room and sat down next to my bed.
“That was quite the night”, he chuckled after we had finished chatting about this and that and other people´s businesses.
“Uh uh”, I nodded.
“Remember when you told me that I had a never ending party fever?”, he asked me with a sly look in his face. “Right after Tuckborough, as we were leaving it. You recall that?”
“Ay, kind of”, I said. I had a vague recollection of it.
“Well.. at first I was thinking that maybe you do have a point. I almost agreed with you a little bit. Almost. But then these last couple of days I started thinking that maybe there is more than one way of looking at it. I mean... having a midnight dip in a public water fountain that was covered in ice just a few weeks ago, passing out in said fountain... walking all around town in the cold night, soaking wet with no pants. Not to mention that all this happened due to excessive drinking. And then of course you catch the father of all colds...
“Mother”, I corrected him. “Mother of all colds.”
“Alright then, mother of all colds... You know, from where I am sitting I think I can make the argument that in this room there is only person tucked in her bed with the party fever and by Durin´s Beard, it sure ain´t me.”

“Ha ha very funny”, I murmured.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

And that my friends was the tale in all,
my fee I pray, would now suit me fine.
But two stoops of ale as I can recall,
to remedy this dry throat of mine.
Thread Closed


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