LotR4: Attack of the Spammers by Xara
Episode One: The Prologue
Frodo Baggins, youthful appearing, innocent, charming well-to-do hobbit strolls into his study at Bag End and seats himself at his brand-new hobbit computer terminal. He logs into his e-mail account ([email protected]) and finds to his delight that he has one new email in his inbox. He eagerly clicks into his new email, sits for a split second reading the opening line before falling from his chair in horror as the Spammer-sender asks him politely if he would like a penis enlargement! With one last, frightened glance at his computer screen Frodo runs from Bag End traumatized, in fits of hysterics, down the Bag Shot row to Samwise’s house and bangs fervently on the door. On the appearance of Samwise, Frodo collapses in a mess on the doorstep, gibbering incoherently. After sometime however, Samwise is able to discern that Frodo has received a horrifying email of some sort. He marched up to Bag End, through the door left wide open from Frodo’s flight, takes one look at the offending e-mail, still open on Frodo’s computer screen, and claps his hand over his mouth in horror, whilst Frodo faints with a thud in the background. The horror however quickly turns to fury that someone could send such an awful email to his master and he quickly raises all the Shire, who, armed with their flaming torches and pitch-forks, set forth to find the source of the offending email.
Meanwhile, in an Internet café in Bree, a dark cloaked figure sidles shiftily in through the front door and slaps a couple of coins down on the counter. The café-keeper greets the man ‘Strider’ in a less than friendly fashion before pointing him to a computer at the back, in a dark corner. Strider makes his way over to the terminal and sits down, clicking his way through cyberspace to his e-mail account ([email protected]) and clicks into his inbox. He reads through some, the usual from the sons of Elrond about orcs running amok in the Misty Mountains, a memo from Gandalf about a Ringbearer who will soon be passing his way and could he keep an eye out for him (“Typical Gandalf,” he thinks, “always getting me to do everything for him.”) and a note from Galadriel asking him what he said to Arwen to get her in such a huff, before his eyes fall on a strange e-mail he has never seen before. He clicks, and reads carefully every detail from the illusive sender, calling himself “Debt Help”. Strider realises this must be an evil plot of Sauron’s to lure him into a trap, offering financial planning indeed, last time a King of Gondor found that rubbish in his inbox there was a Battle of the Last Alliance. Strider leaves in café brooding, and deciding how best to take his revenge on the evil plotting Dark Lord.
While all this is going on, Denethor, the Steward of Gondor turns away from his palantir wild with panic, with only one clear notion in his mind. He must send an e-mail to Theoden warning him that Sauron’s army has become greater and more terrible than ever before. He logs into his account ([email protected]) but as he begins to compose his e-mail, something else catches his attention. He’s got mail! Denethor checks his inbox apprehensively, if this is another anonymous blank message he is going to hire a bodyguard, and opens the mail. His eyes widen in surprise, and then excitement as the flashy colourful email informs him he has won a two-week holiday in Valinor!! All he has to do is send his credit-card number to the e-mail address below and collect his prize. Denethor jumps for joy, two weeks in Valinor, just what he’s always wanted! And rushes down the tower steps to tell his son Faramir (Boromir is currently abroad in Rivendell thinking that’s the ideal place for a holiday, wait until he gets back and hears he missed out on Valinor!) who takes one look at the e-mail and sits his father down, trying to explain in ways the old man will understand, that this is just a credit card scam.
Unaware of all this, Gimli is seated at one of a long row of computer terminals in a great high-ceilinged hall in the Lonely Mountain, surfing the net when a small blue panel from MSN Messenger pops up at the side of his screen informing him that he has just received an e-mail. He clicks on it and is taken into his inbox ([email protected]) where the new e-mail is residing. He opens it, but is confused to see that the message takes a while to load. Who could possibly be sending so many pictures in their e-mail? And then they appear…Gimli jumps from his chair in an instant and rips the computer from the stonewall, throwing it across the room where it smashes on top of another net-surfing dwarfs head. The dwarf jumps to his feet to, and demands loudly in front of the entire room of dwarves, now watching intently, to know why Gimli had smashed the computer on top of his head. But Gimli has already gone, making his way down the mountain shouting threats and curses in dwarvish, brandishing his axe, shaking his fist with one clear idea in his mind, to find and destroy the evil spammer who sent him pornography, or die in the process!
Episode Two: The Secret Council Meeting
In a secret meeting place at the Prancing Pony Inn the secret council stand assembled. At the foremost is Gandalf the Grey, who called the meeting, grave and silent. Next to him is Strider the Ranger, Faramir son of Denethor, Gimli son of Gloin, Samwise son of Hamfast and master Frodo, a small army of hobbits, still carrying their pitch-forks and flaming torches, and the dwarf who got hit on the head by Gimli’s computer. Assembled also are Legolas the Elven Prince of Mirkwood, Eowyn Shieldmaiden of Rohan, and an orc who has wandered there by mistake.
The council are busy muttering amongst themselves waiting for the stragglers to arrive when Gandalf clears his throat and silence falls.
“Well, we all know why we are here,” says Gandalf.
“Actually, I don’t,” remarks the orc who wandered there by mistake.
“Yes, well, apart from you…”
“Actually, I’m at a bit of a loss too,” says the dwarf whose head was nearly smashed open by a computer, “I just followed Gimli, seeking my revenge for the insult he has caused me!”
“I’ve already told you I didn’t mean to smash that computer on your head!” says Gimli sulkily.
“Oh no, it just got accidentally ripped from the wall, and just slipped casually out of your hand smack into my skull! You’re lucky I don’t wear a helmet at all times you know, you…”
“Yes, yes, alright!” Gandalf butts in hastily. “Ok, we are here to have a secret meeting about…”
“Not a very secret place though is it…the Prancing Pony?” says Eowyn.
Gandalf continues as though nothing has happened, “About the e-mail Spammers.”
Silence falls over the council. Eowyn stops looking sceptical and sits suddenly straighter in her chair. Gimli and the head-smashed dwarf stop arguing.
“That’s more like it!” says Gandalf, “Yes, the Spammers. All of us…well most of us are here because we have in the past weeks suddenly been receiving more Spam than ever before. You might argue that this is just the final fruitless assault of the Spammers in their losing war, but others such as myself have been reading the signs differently. Before I go any further I would like you all to promise that you won’t tell anyone, especially Lord Elrond, about this meeting.”
“Why not Elrond?” says Strider suddenly.
“Because his immortal elf sulking about not being invited to a secret council meeting will last for millenniums,” says Gandalf, “Anyway, do you all swear?”
The council murmurs in assent.
“Good. Then I will begin.” He clears his throat dramatically. “It has recently come to my attention that the Spammers have been using a different coding in their junk e-mails. It is more viral like than any Spam I have ever seen before. Persistent and invasive. I believe this can only mean one thing.” He looks around solemnly, “The Spammers have formed an alliance with the hackers.”
There is an instant outbreak of surprised muttering amongst the council.
“Yes,” says Gandalf, “believe it or not, it is true. And this alliance of hacker and spammer, of virus and junk-mail, will create an army of Spam, greater and more terrible than ever before! Our computers will never be safe again! We must do something to stop this from happening! One of you must do this.”
“Why don’t you do it, mate?” asks Legolas, speaking for the first time. “You seem to know so much about this Spam business, it seems to me that you’re the best person for the job.”
“Because I have already reserved the position of wise old guide in thought and deed rather than actual chief-evil-fighter.”
“I think,” says Faramir, “that before we decide who, we must decide how. How are we going to stop the Spammers and the Hackers?”
The council sits deep in thought. One of the pitch-fork carrying hobbits accidentally pokes his neighbour in the eye, and in apologising sets fire to the neighbour on his other side with his flaming torch. There is some commotion amongst the hobbit army as they hurry to put out their fellow, Merry, whilst at the same time trying to stop the hobbit Pippin from helping put him and setting fire to more hobbits in the process. In the end Pippin’s flaming torch and pitch-fork are confiscated and Pippin is sent to sit in shame in the corner. There is silence again as the council continues to ponder the problem.
“I have a suggestion,” says Eowyn. “How about if we ask Norton Anti-Virus to install special fire-walls on our computers to stop the Viral Spam from being accepted by our inboxes?”
“That’s a good idea!” says Gandalf, “Does anyone have an e-mail address or phone number for Norton Anti-Virus?”
The council shake their heads.
“Oh,” says Gandalf. “…No one?”
“Maybe,” says Frodo,”we could find the Spammers and the Hackers and burn all their virus discs and computers and hacking stuff in the Fires of Mount Doom?”
“Yeah!” says Samwise. “Or hunt them down with pitch-forks and flaming torches!”
The hobbit army starts cheering, brandishing their forks and torches. Some of them even get up and start heading for the door, but Gandalf calls them back.
“Don’t be too hasty, hobbits!”
“Oh, you sound like Treebeard, Gandy,” says Pippin from his corner. “I say we burn the Spammers!”
“Burn the Spammers!” repeat the hobbits.
“Peregrin Took, my name is not Gandy! How many times do I have to tell you?!”
“I think we should go with Frodo’s idea,” says the orc who wandered there by mistake. “I don’t think Sauron would mind too much, she’s been pretty upset with the hackers ever since they sent her a virus that wiped out all her ‘Take Over Middle-Earth’ files, and she’s never liked the Spammers with their constant pestering and stupid junk e-mails and credit-card scams.”
“But,” says Strider, “it was Sauron who sent me that debt help e-mail! I though that was why we were here: To defeat Sauron the Deceiver!”
“Aragorn, sometimes we must join forces with those we despise to defeat the ultimate evil; advertising,” says Gandalf solemnly.
“I thought Sauron was the ultimate evil,” says Aragorn sulkily.
“I have a question,” says the head-smashed dwarf.
“You of all people don’t think Gimli could have thrown that computer at me by accident do you Gandalf? I think Gimli should be thrown out of this council for his unworthiness, attacking a fellow dwarf for no reason with Lonely Mountain property! You’re going to have to pay for that computer when you get back, Gimli, you know! You can’t just go around doing that to people and expect to get away with it…”
“Can we stop arguing about who got smashed over the head with a computer?!” shouts Gandalf, banging his fist down on the table. “We are trying to discuss important matters here!”
“This is an important matter!” argues the dwarf, now looking furious.
“If you intend to continue your petty feud with Gimli, you can go elsewhere!” says Gandalf.
“Fine! I will, I didn’t even want to come to your stupid meeting in the first place!” shouts the dwarf and storms off.
“Right!” says Gandalf, in an effort to control his temper. “The plan so far: we’ll sneak into the Hackers and Spammers headquarters, now that they’re allied they’ll be sharing of course, and steal all their discs and files, and burn them in the Fires of Mount Doom. So, now we’ve answered your question Faramir, who’s going to go? Bearing in mind that the position of old and wise guide is already taken.”
“I will go,” says Frodo in a small voice. He clears his throat and then says louder, “It was my idea and I want to see it through.”
“And I’m coming with him!” says Sam forcefully.
“And us!” cry the hobbit army.
“Hold on, hold on! We can’t have a whole army coming with us, this is a mission of stealth!” says Gandalf. “Two of you, and that’s all.”
“Me! Me! Oh pick me!” cries Pippin, jumping up and down in his corner.
“Me too! Me too!” calls Merry.
“Not you two. Anybody but you two,” says Gandalf, looking worried.
“Oh come on Gandalf, you’ve read the books you know we’re going to come, it’s what it says in the books!”
“Can’t argue with that,” says Gandalf. “Oh well. I suppose so.”
“Who else is coming? We can’t just have four hobbits and a wizard.”
“I will go,” says Faramir solemnly.
“Me too!” says Eowyn.
“What about you, Aragorn?” asks Gandalf.
“I still think Sauron is the ultimate evil.”
“Oh, come on, Aragorn, don’t be such a sulk!”
“Anyone else?” asks Gandalf, looking around at the council.
“Me and Gimli will go,” says Legolas.
“Will I?” says Gimli, looking slightly surprised.
“Oh…well alright then,” says Gimli and lapses back into his fantasy and Galadriel.
“Ok, so that’s…hang on, that’s ten people! We can’t have ten!”
“Why not?” asks Eowyn.
Gandalf thinks about it and finds he is unable to find a decent response to that so instead says, “And you, orc, you can go and ask Sauron if we can use Mount Doom once we’ve got the stuff.”
“Sure,” says the orc, “happy to.” And wanders off.
“And the hobbit army can stay here on stand-by. We’ll send word if we need you.”
“Yeah, yeah,” grumbles the army, shooting envious looks at Merry and Pippin.
“Well then that’s settled!” says Gandalf. “We shall be the Fellowship of the…er…We shall be: The Fellowship!”
Episode Three: Pippin’s Direction
The sun rises over the village of Bree, illuminating the grey mist of dawn. Gandalf, Faramir, Aragorn, Eowyn, Legolas, Gimli, Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin stand assembled, ready to begin their long and perilous journey to the Spammer headquarters in the….
“Hold on a second,” says Eowyn suddenly. “Does anyone actually know where we’re meant to be going?”
“Er…” says Gandalf. Frodo and Sam look worried, Aragorn sulky. Gimli and Legolas scratch their heads. Pippin yawns loudly.
“I’m sure I would know if somebody hadn’t woken us up before dawn! I’m afraid that information will now be permanently erased from my memory,” says Pippin. The Fellowship all look at him with disbelief and contempt.
“What will we do now?” says Sam.
The Fellowship is silent, plunged into thought. The sun moves higher in the sky, early morning sounds fill the village, Breelanders start to move about their daily business, jostling the Fellowship as they stand stone still, thinking, in the middle of the street. Eventually some attempt is made to get the Fellowship to move to a more convenient thinking spot but when none respond to the requests, pushes, tugs, shouts and general abuse, they are left to ponder. The sun climbs higher in the sky until all the shadows have dwindled to nothing and the sun is directly above their heads.
“I know!” says Gandalf, “Wait…hang on…no sorry, false alarm.” The Fellowship fall silent again.
“Oh sorry everyone,” says Pippin suddenly, “That wasn’t permanently erased. The Headquarters are in a secret cave in Mount Doom.”
“How on Middle-earth do you know that?” exclaims Gandalf.
“I read it somewhere.”
“Pippin…er…no offence but are you sure that’s where they are? I mean, Mount Doom isn’t the most likely place in the world for the Spammer headquarters to be are they?” says Eowyn sceptically.
“Well I’d like to see you think of a better idea,” retorts Pippin. Eowyn becomes silent.
“Right!” says Pippin, “Mount Doom it is! Follow me everyone!” The Fellowship exchange doubtful glances, but follow Pippin, if somewhat reluctantly.
. . .
Three days after the departure of The Fellowship from Bree, they are all still alive, intact, and, surprisingly, getting along fairly well, apart from the odd cheerful scuffle. It is early morning and they are all just waking up. Due to heavy baggage loads of food and other (as Pippin pointed out highly uninteresting) survival provisions, The Fellowship has only been able to bring one light-weight lap-top computer with them, guarded at all times by Gandalf. And due to their (as Pippin pointed out very tiring) need for stealth and speed, they can only allow themselves one hour of getting-up time in the mornings, which is divided into shifts of six minutes each for turns on the computer. This is usually the time during which most of the cheerful scuffles break out.
“Come on Frodo you’ve had six and half minutes now! It’s my turn. Get off!” moans Aragorn impatiently as Frodo taps as fast as his little hobbit fingers will go to finish the long and involved letter to somebody whose name he refuses to disclose (probably Galadriel, thinks Gimli with resentment). Finally however, Frodo finishes typing, clicks the send button, rolls over with surprising reflexes to dodge Aragorn’s cheerful attempt to cleave him in two with his sword and munches into the sausage handed to him by Sam. This is just the sort of a scene you would have found in the movie had Aragorn at that moment been an orc and had Peter Jackson not decided to portray Frodo as innocent, helpless and constantly falling over.
There is peace for a few short minutes while Aragorn types until he too begins to exceed his time limit, provoking Faramir who is next, to e-mail Boromir asking to borrow his Horn of Gondor so he can give Aragorn a blast in the ear next time he tries it. After Faramir are Eowyn and Gandalf. Once they too have finished their morning six minutes of Internet the Fellowship is ready to embark on another long day of walking to Mount Doom, which, to their bitter disappointment, has still failed to appear on the horizon.
After an hour or so Aragorn and Eowyn find they are walking side by side and get to talking. Eowyn discovers Aragorn is the heir of Gondor (which he just happened to let slip) and Aragorn discovers that Eowyn likes horses and swords a lot. They begin to talk about horses. Riding horses, saddling horses, different breeds of horses, until Aragorn mentions the Melbourne Cup Horse Race and Eowyn gives him a strange look. The conversation is soon steered to a new topic and so on for the rest of the day.
As the sun begins to set behind the hills, the Fellowship stop and make camp. Soon the sausages are sizzling on the fire once more, but Aragorn asks Eowyn if she would like to share a sausage with him alone over the hill on which the Fellowship have made camp. She agrees and they make their departure from the Fellowship. Aragorn sits down in the grass and Eowyn seats herself beside him.
“It’s a lovely evening,” Aragorn starts.
“Yes,” Eowyn agrees. There is silence, Aragorn is for a moment flustered by Eowyn’s lack of response. He tries again.
“Nice walk today.”
Again there is silence.
“Er…” says Aragorn eventually.
“I hope you didn’t invite me here just to talk about the weather Aragorn,” says Eowyn.
“Well, no actually I didn’t,” confesses Aragorn.
Eowyn sits for a moment in thought, takes a deep breath and says, “Aragorn, I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, all day in fact. Am I right in thinking that you feel the same way about me as I do about you?”
“Of course I do Eowyn, I care about you!” says Aragorn, glad the conversation is going smoothly again.
“Great!” says Eowyn, “Will you marry me then?”
This time it is Aragorn’s turn to be silent. He opens his mouth and…is silent. He shifts slightly on his patch of grass and…is silent. Eowyn is looking at him expectantly. Aragorn decides it is time for him to speak and…is silent. Eowyn is getting impatient. Aragorn looks at her and…
“Eowyn,” he starts, “I’d love to marry you…”
“Fantastic! When shall we have the wedding? I know it’s usual for brides to wear white you know but I thought, seeing as I wear white so often I could wear another colour, to be different? It would surprise people, make our wedding special what do you think? And where shall we have it? My father’s hall would be free but if you get to be King of Gondor before then…”
“Eowyn wait, wait! Stop, STOP!”
Eowyn is silent.
“Please let me finish,” says Aragorn, “I was saying, I would love to marry you..” Eowyn opens her mouth again, “BUT!” says Aragorn quickly, “But…I’m already engaged.”
Eowyn’s jaw drops. “Who…who is she?”
“Arwen…” Eowyn’s voice trembles, “Arwen Undomiel? The elf-maiden?”
“No, no I don’t need you to explain. It’s perfectly clear what’s been going on here!” Eowyn jumps up. “Shield-maiden of Rohan’s not good enough for the Heir of Gondor! How come you’re only an heir, because you’re too thick to be King? The Heir of Gondor must have the best! But a shield-maiden is good enough for your piece on the side while you’re away from home eh?! Well not anymore she’s not! It’s over!!!”
Eowyn gets up and storms away in fury, leaving Aragorn sitting there on the grass.
Episode Four: Eowyn’s E-mail
Rated M for Mature Audiences: Contains references to Aragorn’s ‘weaponry’.
It is day four of the Fellowship’s journey but the camp has a very different atmosphere about it when all wake up in the morning. Eowyn goes to Merry, who has the first turn of the computer and asks politely as possible if he would kindly donate her the first computer shift, in return for a shiny hobbit-sized Rohirrim helmet which she will pick up for him when they pass Rohan on their journey. Dazzled by the prospect of owning his own helmet that actually fits properly and everything, Merry gladly swaps shifts with her.
Eowyn seats herself on the grass and pulls the computer towards her, the camp is still only half awake in the early morning light but Eowyn soon has them all roused, by reciting the e-mail she is typing in a voice loud enough to carry along to the last sleeping bag in the row where Aragorn lies.
“Dear Arwen,” she begins. Aragorn sits bolt upright.
She continues as though she hadn’t heard, “I am writing to inform you that your oh-so-charming but tragically dull witted fiancé Aragorn, more suitably known as Strider is clearly of the opinion that one woman is not good enough for the Heir of Gondor, and the PILLOCK let me propose to him last night before I realised he just wanted me as his bit on the side!”
The whole Fellowship is sitting bolt upright by now, listening intently to Eowyn, some watching Aragorn, some with grins on their faces. “Eowyn!” Aragorn shouts, “No!!” He dives at the computer. Eowyn grabs it and dances out of his reach.
“Of course it’s none of my business but I’d advise you to choose someone who’s going to keep his sword in his pants next time!”
“Eowyn! Please! You can’t!”
“Yours Sincerely, Eowyn Shield-maiden of Rohan.”
“NNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” cries Aragorn as Eowyn hits the send button and the e-mail is carried away, beyond his reach and into Arwen’s inbox. Eowyn puts down the computer calmly, turns to Pippin as though nothing has happened and says, “I believe it’s your turn for the computer now.”
“How could you do that?!” says Aragorn, horrified, “You…she…Why?!”
Eowyn ignores him.
“Eowyn! I didn’t mean to upset you, it wasn’t my fault! You jumped to conclusions!”
“You’re lucky I didn’t do more!!” she yells, her fury unleashed, “If anybody’s still hungry after breakfast I know Aragorn’s got some things on him that will go well as kebabs!”
The whole Fellowship winces in unison.
“Woah, Eowyn, that was way below the belt,” says Aragorn.
“Below the belt?! I’ll give you below the belt you sorry excuse for a human being!” says Eowyn, drawing her sword.
Gandalf decides he has let it go too far already. He jumps up, “I think we should get moving right away today, no loitering, we need to be covering more distance to get to Mount Doom before the Spammers detect us. Everybody up! Aragorn, you come up the front with me, and Eowyn, how about you keep the rear-guard with Faramir?”
Eowyn and Aragorn are still standing, glaring at each other, Eowyn’s sword still drawn. Eventually, chest heaving, Eowyn manages to control herself and sheaths her sword resentfully, before stomping away to her pack. Aragorn gives the computer one last horrified glance before he, too, moves away to join Gandalf at the head of the Fellowship.
. . .
Meanwhile, in the ever dark and gloomy village of Bree, in the ever dark and gloomy Inn of the Prancing Pony sits a dwarf. And not just any dwarf, but an entirely miffed, haughty, sulky, generally putout in the worst sense of all these words dwarf. A dwarf in fact, who has had a computer smashed over the top of his head, and worse, has not been provided with an explanation or apology from the offending dwarf who smashed it. In other words, an extremely dangerous dwarf sits at the table in the Inn which I have already described above. And he is not alone.
Opposite the dwarf is none other than a Very Important Person from the Spammer and Hacker headquarters. The Dwarf and the VIP sit and stare at each other for several moments in silence before the VIP moves to speak.
“I hope I have not wasted my time in coming here, dwarf,” says the VIP.
“I am a dwarf of honour,” replies the Dwarf, “and time spent in my presence is seldom wasted.”
“A dwarf of inflated ego too I see,” smirks the VIP. The Dwarf looks affronted. The VIP continues, “But come, we have more important matters to discuss than your overlarge head…” The Dwarf looks more affronted than ever but for once keeps his mouth shut. “…You said you had some information that would be of some interest to me?”
The Dwarf looks slightly less affronted and slightly more pleased with himself, clearing his throat, “Yes.”
There is a moment’s pause, “Well? Let’s hear it then..?”
“Oh right. Four days ago by no design of my own I found myself attending a secret meeting held by Gandalf the Grey, some of his friends and supporters and an army of hobbits. They discussed matters that I think you would pay very highly to hear about,” the Dwarf finishes, looking expectantly at the VIP who sits for a moment, then sighs.
“Very well, very well,” he says, pulling out a sack of gold from inside his coat and handing it to the dwarf, who weighs it in his hand in an appraising sort of way, before, satisfied, tucks it safely into his pocket and continues.
“They had suspicions about an alliance between the Hackers and the Spammers, they were planning to overthrow the alliance and bring an end to Viral Spam forever.”
The VIP sucks in his breath, “And how may I ask, were they planning to do that?”
The Dwarf sits for a moment, examining his nails with apparent interest. The Spammer glares but produces another sack from his coat which is quickly transferred to the Dwarf’s pocket.
“They were planning to come to your headquarters, steal all your discs and files and destroy them in the Fires of Mount Doom.”
“No!” breathes the VIP in disbelief.
“Yes,” replies the Dwarf.
“And what were their names?” asks the VIP, drawing from his coat another sack, but the Dwarf waves his hand.
“I will take no gold to reveal their names.”
“Name your price then,” says the VIP eagerly.
The Dwarf leans forward, “That when you catch them, do what you like with the others, but keep the Dwarf alive and bring him for me to deal with, personally.”
The VIP nods his head, eyes gleaming. “And their names?”
“Their names were Gandalf the Grey, Aragorn son of Arathorn, Legolas son of Thranduil, Eowyn daughter of Eomund, Faramir son of Denethor, Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, Meriadoc Brandybuck, Peregrin Took and…” his eyes darken, “Gimli son of Gloin.”
Episode Five: A Doomed Dwarf
Gimli son of Gloin sits alone in the undergrowth on the fifth evening of the Fellowship’s departure from Bree in silent thought. The arguments of the previous morning (much to the disappointment of some of the younger members of the Fellowship) have now abated, though a very frosty silence still exists between Eowyn and the offending Ranger. Food stocks are still high (though not for lack of trying on the hobbits’ part) but spirits are running low. Everyone set out on this mission expecting daring and danger, and all they have got so far is a nasty exchange of views.
Every evening so far Gimli has sat and sharpened his axe, ready for the first sign of battle. But tonight the axe lies untouched beside him, so sharp it could be used as a decent substitute for high intensity light beams in cutting metal. Of course, Gimli has no idea about physics and light beams and some such things, but he has a fair idea that to sharpen his axe any more would seriously endanger anyone passing within ten metres of the blade from being cleaved in two. And so he sits and thinks with nothing to do.
After a while Legolas walks (or rather wades as they are camped in undergrowth tonight) over and sits beside him.
“Evening, friend,” says Legolas, with a note of pride in the pronunciation of the word “friend”. Gimli notices this and looks at Legolas questioningly.
“Did you know we’re meant to be the two closest of friends?” asks Legolas.
“No,” says Gimli, faintly surprised, “I always thought we were supposed to be haughty to each other. Elves and dwarves you know, rough history.”
“Yes that’s what I thought too, but according to the books we get along really well.”
“Oh, you’ve read them?”
“Well,” confesses Legolas, “No, actually, but Merry and Pippin have and they told me.”
“Oh, right. You know, it is kind of a relief to have my closest friend here with me in the Fellowship. I’d been feeling a bit lonely.”
“Had you? Me too! Wow! Now I can see why we’re such good friends!” says Legolas. Gimli grins at him.
“So, what words of wisdom do you have to offer me, my elven buddy?”
Legolas’s eyebrows move slightly towards each other light magnets. He leans forward, lowering his voice. “Well, I can tell you this: Beware the youngest hobbit.”
Gimli gives him a strange look, “Pippin? What’s to be wary about him?”
Legolas contemplates, “I’m not entirely sure, but my elven senses tell me you two have some kind of nasty incident lying in store in the future.”
Gimli nods, “I see.”
“Hmmm,” says Legolas, “you know, when I started out on this adventure, I was expecting there to be a lot more danger involved. But so far, there’s been nothing. I mean, I know that’s a good thing, but still, I’m feeling a little disappointed.”
“Oh my god!” says Gimli, “That is exactly what I was thinking a few minutes before you came over!”
“Nope, dead serious!”
Legolas reaches over and shakes Gimli’s hand, “You and me, we’re gonna be best buddies forever I can just tell!!”
“When I get back to my home in the Lonely Mountain, I’m going to forge a friendship bracelet for us Legolas!”
“Fantastic! Call me Leggy, by the way!” says Legolas.
While Legolas and Gimli sit talking about designs for their friendship bracelets, Merry and Pippin are keeping each other company keeping watch at the top of a hill above the camp, successfully hidden in the undergrowth. They are discussing mushrooms and different ways to eat them when they notice a dark figure making towards them in the distance. They sit watching, silent for several minutes, before finally deciding the figure is a threat. Pippin turns and yells, “Hey, Ganderoo!”
“My name,” says Gandalf in a highly exasperated voice, “is Gandalf, Pippin!!”
“Yeah,” calls back Pippin. “Don’t mean to disturb you or anything, but there’s someone heading this way and they seem to know we’re here.”
Legolas and Gimli spring from the bushes in an instant, Gimli waving his oversharp axe, Legolas stringing his bow with immense speed and precision. The rest of the Fellowship, having longed for some action for several days now, quickly follow suit, drawing swords, daggers, staffs and sharp sticks. They stand ready, waiting in silence as the figure grows larger and larger, moving ever closer to the camp.
As the figure draws closer, some of their features become more distinguishable, though not too may as it is quite dark and their figure is not yet near enough the fire. It is clear the figure is tall and cloaked, though elegantly so, and does not appear to be carrying any weapons. This does not relax the Fellowship in the slightest. They’ve gotten all ready now and they’re not giving up that easily! The figure continues to march deliberately forward in the direction of the camp, until suddenly, they are illuminated by the light of the campfire.
The figure who has walked straight into their camp is a tall, dark haired, pout-lipped, elegantly clad elf-maiden whose beautiful face is burning with immortal elf fury such as no man, hobbit or dwarf would ever be able to replicate. Her name is Arwen and her eyes are gleaming malevolently. Completely ignoring or failing to notice the various killing implements pointed in her direction she marches straight up to Aragorn, pauses for a moment staring at him in wrath, then slaps him hard around the face. Turns, gives a short nod of recognition to Eowyn, who returns it, and marches off again.
When she is just about to recede back into shadow, Arwen pauses, turns to Gandalf and says, “Oh, and I told daddy about your stupid secret council meeting and none of you’s allowed back into Rivendell ever again!” Then disappears into the gloom.
“Oh no!” says Gandalf, burying his head in his hands, whilst Aragorn looks stony faced, rubbing his cheek in a dazed sort of way. Legolas nudges Gimli and they are soon deeply engrossed in conversation about these events whilst Eowyn, looking satisfied, turns to enquire after Frodo, who is looking a little shivery.
Episode Six: A Virus
High upon the dark tower of Barad-dur, looking out over Mordor and the lands beyond lurks Sauron, the evil, spiteful, Dark Lordess in the shape of a great fiery eyeball. It’s a hard job being a Dark Lordess, because she is in the shape of a lidless eye she hasn’t had a wink of sleep for almost 3,000 years, the orcs used to be cool but sometimes it gets lonely with no one but them and the Witch-King of Angmar for company. Evil plotting becomes tiresome at times and Sauron often wishes she had a body to try on outfits whenever she gets sick of it. But as it is, she doesn’t so she can’t. And to top it all off her “Take Over Middle Earth” files have been wiped out by a virus! Needless to say, Sauron is in a foul temper.
Down below the noise of a clanking door signals that someone has come to visit her. Sauron is excited for a moment by the prospect of company but when it turns out to be yet another orc her metaphorical heart sinks. The orc has news. The orc tells Sauron of a secret council meeting held by a gathering of her greatest ever enemies. Sauron becomes interested. It transpires that her enemies plot to bring down, not her (“For once,” she thinks bitterly,) but the Spammers and the Hackers. Sauron remembers again bitterly the lost files, and revenge starts to brew in her metaphorical heart.
“…And then they asked me if I could ask you if they could use Mount Doom to destroy on the Spammer/Hacker discs and files and I said I’d ask you and now I have asked you so what do you say?” finishes the orc.
Sauron contemplates this for several long minutes while the orc waits apprehensively, if Sauron doesn’t like the plan he’s sure to be executed. Finally, Sauron opens her metaphorical mouth to speak. “Get a computer, and type this email to them from me.”
. . .
It is Gandalf’s turn on the computer on the morning of the sixth day since the Fellowship’s departure from Bree. He is surfing like mad on the net, trying to make the most of his six minutes when a little message appears in the corner of the screen informing him he has received an email. Gandalf opens the email, reads, jumps up and dances around whooping and laughing, a rather frightening sight.
“What is it?” asks Faramir.
“I’ve just had an email from Sauron. She says we have permission to enter Mordor and use Mount Doom!”
“Really?” says Eowyn.
“What’s the catch?” says Faramir warily.
“Well, she says after we’ve destroyed the files and discs we have 48 hours to get back out of Mordor before she starts trying to kill us.”
“Hmmm…That’s going to be tight,” says Faramir.
“Well it’s something! At least we can get in! Never mind about getting out again!” says Gandalf.
Faramir starts to object and suggests Gandalf write back and bargain with Sauron about the time limit and the two are soon debating heatedly over the subject. A short way away, Sam has awoken and is trying to arouse Frodo, who is not a morning person.
“Mr. Frodo, it’s time to get up!” says Sam in a would-be cheerful voice. Frodo sleeps on. “Mr. Frodo, if you get up, I’ll make you a special breakfast with mushrooms of ten different varieties!” Frodo sleeps on. Sam leans over and shakes Frodo gently. Frodo sleeps on. Faramir, who has finally broken off the argument with Gandalf wanders over.
“What’s going on here? Doesn’t he want to get up?”
“I think he’s just really deeply asleep, he didn’t even respond to my offer to make a mushroom breakfast. He was looking a little peaky last night so I’m not surprised really.”
“Hmm…” Faramir thinks, “How about this.” He moves over to stand next to Frodo and bends down to Frodo’s ear and shouts, “Frodo! Frodo! Wake up! The balrogs are attacking, they’ve set the bed on fire! Frodo! It’s on fire! It’s on fire!!!”
Next to Frodo, Pippin springs out of his sleeping bag to his feet in an instant, “Where? Where?! … Hang on a second … Where are the balrogs?”
“Oh, sorry Pippin, I was trying to wake up Frodo.”
Pippin looks disgruntled and wanders off to get some breakfast. But Frodo still lies asleep as though nothing has happened. Sam starts to look worried now, “Frodo, stop messing around, ok? You’ve had your joke, now get up!” But Frodo doesn’t stir.
“What’s all this?” asks Gimli, walking over.
“Frodo won’t wake up,” say Sam and Faramir in unison.
“Oh,” says Gimli, reaches over and slaps Frodo hard around the face as he had watched Arwen do the night before. Frodo doesn’t move. “Looks like he’s dead to me.”
Sam looks horrified, “Mr. Frodo! Mr. Frodo! Noo!!!” He sobs, shaking the limp Frodo by the shoulders, then the feet, then the head.
“Wait Sam stop! Leave him a moment!” Bending down, Faramir reaches for Frodo’s wrist and feels for his pulse. By now the whole Fellowship has realised what’s going on and are crowded around. There are whispers of, “What’s wrong with him?” and “Is he dead?” Sam is still sobbing, being comforted by an ashen faced Pippin, who is being comforted by an ashen faced Merry. Faramir straightens up.
“Whatever’s wrong with him, he’s not dead.” The Fellowship sigh with relief.
“But what is wrong with him?” asks Merry. Everyone is silent in thought, trying to match Frodo’s mysterious symptoms with some name, some cause that could explain everything. After a while, Sam stops sobbing enough to talk.
“He wasn’t looking well all day yesterday. If I’d had any idea what was going to happen…” he breaks off in his grief again.
“Cheer up Sam,” says Aragorn bracingly, “he’s not dead yet.” But at the word ‘yet’ Sam only howls the louder. Eowyn gives him a scathing look and starts making her own attempt to sooth Sam. But Merry’s face is suddenly brightened with realisation.
“You know, he seemed fine to me yesterday morning, I only first noticed he was off colour after he checked his email. There is complete silence as everyone looks at Frodo with renewed horror.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” asks Gandalf at length.
“That he might have got some kind of strange virus that infects actual people? ‘Cause that’s what I’m thinking.”
“Hmm…Frodo was the last person on the computer yesterday, wasn’t he?”
“Yes,” gulps Sam. “But there wasn’t any mail for him…or…hold on…he got an e-mail halfway through from someone he didn’t recognise…which turned out to be more Spam.”
In an instant, Gandalf rushes back over to the computer and goes through the rest of his e-mail, he calls Sam over. “Did it look like this?”
“Yes!” says Sam. “You’ve got one too!” He reaches over to open but Gandalf stops him.
“No! Don’t open it!” Gandalf sits down in thought for many long minutes, whilst the Fellowship looks worried. “This looks to me,” says Gandalf at last, “like this is some new revolutionary form of Viral Spam, probably something they’ve been working on but haven’t used before as we’ve never seen anything like it. If I’m right in thinking that one of these viruses is currently sitting in every single one of our inboxes, then there can be no other explanation, the Spammers must know what we’re trying to do.” There is a gasp of horror from the Fellowship. “It’s very lucky,” Gandalf continues, “That only Frodo was infected before we detected it. Let us hope that this is only a temporary thing. In the meantime we have an advantage over the Spammers. No doubt they were hoping to knock us all out, and that must mean…” But Gandalf is interrupted by Legolas who has been standing, scanning the horizon.
“Gandalf!” he says, his voice urgent and at the same time excited, stringing his bow he says, “They are coming!”
Episode Seven: Action At Last
“Who’s coming?” asks Pippin.
“Warriors from the Spammer headquarters!” cries Legolas.
“Where? I can’t see any warriors!”
“Ugh!” says Legolas in an exasperated voice. “Of course you can’t, they’re not close enough yet. But I can, remember?”
Pippin thinks for a moment, “Oh, yeah. Sorry.”
“They can’t have seen us yet! Come on everyone, we must think quickly!” says Gandalf. The Fellowship gathers around him. “Ok, so they think that we’re all knocked out right? So how about, we all lie down and pretend to have the virus and then when they try to take us away we get them by surprise!”
“Burn them Spammers!!!” cries Sam with renewed ferocity, thinking of Frodo’s awful condition.
“Burn the Spammers!” chorus Merry and Pippin.
“We’re not going to burn anyone, you three!” says Faramir in annoyance. “It would be inhumane!”
Sam modifies his war cry, “Down with Spammers!”
“That’s better,” says Faramir.
“Why are we all standing around arguing about war cries?” asks Eowyn, “Remember, there are a bunch of warriors coming to kill us!”
“Right!” say everyone, they all run over to their sleeping bags and pretend to be asleep.
“Wait! What about Frodo? He really has got the virus, what if they take him away?” cries Sam.
“Good point,” says Aragorn. Grabbing Frodo he hurries over to a clump of bushes and hides him safely in the thick, before running back and pretending to be asleep. Sam moves his sleeping bag right over to the bushes to be ideally placed to defend Frodo before following suit. And then there is silence as the Fellowship wait. And wait. And wait.
“They sure are slow,” says Pippin after a while.
“Shh!” hiss the rest of the Fellowship. There is silence again, but soon a dull thudding his heard as the warriors hired by the Spammers approach.
“It worked!” cries one of them, “Ha ha! Look at them all! Stupid idiots!” The Fellowship lie still as though they had not heard.
“Do we kill them?”
“No, we’re just meant to take them back to the Headquarters.”
“Right.” One of the warriors moves over and lays a hand on Legolas’s shoulder, in an instant, the elf wheels around and before anyone knows what’s happening the warrior is on the ground…
“Dead!” cries another as the rest of the Fellowship spring to their feet. “Oh my god he’s dead! He’s dead! HE’S DEAD!”
“We noticed,” says Eowyn scathingly.
The Spammer Warriors draw their swords from their sheaths, and soon the air is thick with flying arrows, the clash of swords and cries of, “He’s dead!” as one by one the warriors are picked off by the Fellowship, who, of course, are the good guys and will win this battle without a doubt. Merry and Pippin throw rocks, sticks and clumps of grass. Sam shouts such a string of threats and abuse at anyone who approaches Frodo’s clump of bushes that he suddenly seems ten times more imposing than, as a hobbit of just over a metre in height, should ever be. Legolas fires away, Gandalf pokes people in the eye with his staff, Gimli swings his oversharp axe around his head like a helicopter propeller bringing death to anyone who happened to be passing while Aragorn, Faramir and Eowyn choose a more conventional method of fighting; the sword. And then, as we all knew it would the battle is won and all the Spammer warriors are dead while the Fellowship remain sweaty, blood-stained but generally intact.
“And all that before I even managed to have breakfast,” says Aragorn at length, “I’m hungry!”
“Well you should’ve had some before!” says Gandalf. “No time now! We must get moving, when the Spammer Warriors do not return they will know what has happened, and we must be well gone from here by then! Come everyone, hurry! We must be gone!”
Mumbling slightly, but generally obedient, the Fellowship quickly pack up their camp and set off at a quick pace, leaving the carnage of the battle behind them. However, they are only half an hour on their way when suddenly Sam cries, “Where’s Frodo?!” and they realise they’ve forgotten to bring him and have to turn back. When they arrive back on the scene of the battle there is some argument as to who should carry Frodo. Sam of course is more than happy to do it but no one will allow him as he is too small. Merry and Pippin offer to help Sam, but by now the Fellowship have learnt to ignore Merry and Pippin, so their offer goes unnoticed. In the end it is decided that Aragorn, Faramir, Eowyn, and Legolas should take turns in carrying him as they are the tallest (except for Gandalf but as he pointed out he has his staff to carry so it would be quite impossible). So finally, at lunchtime the Fellowship set off again at a much slower pace, worn out by the morning’s debate.
They flee the scene of the crime silently all day and (much to the objections of the younger hobbits) well into the night until finally a little after midnight Gandalf allows them to rest. But an hour before dawn he rouses everyone again and once more they set off. This stealthy flight continues for three days until eventually, Gandalf is satisfied that they have put enough distance between themselves and the battle, and agrees that they may move back to their normal routine. There is an instant scuffle for the computer. Because no one was allowed to use it in the three days of constant flight everyone’s inboxes are full to overflowing, and, under these exceptional circumstances Gandalf allows everyone ten minutes each in the evening before he orders everyone to bed. For most of the Fellowship, it seems that things will finally be getting back to normal since that fateful morning three days ago when Frodo did not wake up. But for Frodo, it is a very different story.
Episode Eight: Awakening
It has been a full week since Frodo was hit by the virus but he is not, and never was, as the Fellowship wrongly believe, asleep. Far from it. Through the entire, seven day ordeal he has been painfully conscious, and fully aware of everything going on around him, but unable to move. It is no fun having the virus, thinks Frodo on the evening of the seventh day. As it had taken affect while we was asleep he is unable to open his eyes and so cannot see anything that is happening, he is unable speak and therefore unable to let anyone know he is not asleep. Unable to scratch, eat and, in his uncomfortability, sleep. Fortunately Gandalf has had the presence of mind to pour some water down his throat (carefully, for fear of accidentally drowning him) but that did little to compensate and Frodo is now without a doubt in the very worst mood he has ever been in his life.
It had begun when he had been woken by Faramir shouting about balrogs and telling him his bed was on fire. After his first initial panic he had realised this was not the case and had begun to realise what had happened to him. He did not appreciate it one little bit. Nor did he appreciate being slapped, shaken, shoved roughly into a clump of bushes and then forgotten about. Though he had been quite pleased at the way Sam had grieved over him in that terrible moment when everyone thought he was dead, he had been less pleased by Sam’s offer to carry him with the help of Merry and Pippin.
But being carried in turn by the three humans and Legolas was little better. In his first hour Aragorn had managed to jerk him around something terrible and then accidentally drop him on his head, and THEN manage to cover it up. Frodo had been pleased to be handed on to Faramir until he did exactly the same thing and so on. Frodo’s head is now extremely sore after seven days of such treatment and his heart is burning for revenge on the Spammers. More than anything else Frodo longs to jump to his feet and shake his fist at the world in general, but, to his bitter disappointment, he remains frustratingly immobile. If only the Fellowship would realise he isn’t asleep, then at least he might have some company, they might sit and talk to him, even if he can’t reply. But no, Frodo must stay alone in the dark with nothing but his increasingly maddening thoughts for company.
It is the early hours of the morning of the eighth day since the virus attack when Frodo feels the movement stirring in his limbs once more. His initial elation at this momentous event however is soon replaced with an intense desire to let off some of the steam he has accumulated over the past seven days. He lies still and waits with the patience he has been forced to learn through his viral ordeal.
Soon the camp is stirring and the sizzling sounds of cooking can be heard. Frodo’s stomach gives a particularly loud grumble but he continues to lie still. Soon, he tells it, just wait a little longer. When the sound of tapping keys ceases it is the signal that it is time to be going. The camp is packed up, everyone is getting ready to leave and then… Frodo hears the sound of footsteps approaching. He’s been waiting seven long horrible days to do this. He senses a hand moving down from above to pick him up and strikes. Kicking up with all his might his foot meets something solid and there is a yelp. Frodo jumps to his feet.
“Do you have any idea how much it hurts to be dropped repeatedly on your head?!” he cries. Frodo has to shield his eyes from the brightness as they have not been used for several days and cannot see much, but he gathers from the stunned silence that the Fellowship had been taken by surprise. Suddenly there is a rush and Frodo is knocked off his feet by Sam, Merry and Pippin cheering with glee. “Mr. Frodo! You’re awake!”
“I’ve been awake the whole time Sam!” says Frodo, still feeling rather annoyed, but much more flattered than previously at his fellow hobbits’ enthusiasm at his recovery. Gradually Frodo’s eyes become accustomed to the light and he realises that the rest of the Fellowship is looking rather pleased too, all except Aragorn who is rubbing his shin resentfully. There is a rush of chatter as everyone attempts to engage Frodo in conversation at once but they are shushed by Gandalf he moves forward.
“What do you mean, you’ve been awake the whole time?” he asks, looking slightly horrified. Frodo looks around at the Fellowship feeling the old exasperation flowing back into him.
“You all thought I was asleep,” he says, “but you were wrong. I was awake the whole time, I knew everything that was happening but I just couldn’t move.” There is a horrified silence as the full impact of these words sinks in on everyone. Aragorn, Faramir, Eowyn and Legolas suddenly look extremely guilty, remembering Frodo’s comment as he had kicked Aragorn. Slowly, Merry and Pippin turn to stare at Gandalf’s laptop computer.
“You mean…” asks Merry, “A computer can actually do something as awful as that to you?”
“Yes,” says Frodo gravely.
“But I don’t understand,” says Eowyn.
“Neither do I,” says Frodo, scratching his head, “how could the virus be transferred from the computer to an actual living person?”
“No not about that,” says Eowyn. “Although I don’t understand that either. But what I meant was, what you had was obviously some kind of super freaky computer virus right? Well then, it should have behaved like a computer virus too. And most viruses, if they do something like paralyze your computer, will do it for good, not just for a certain time period and then it all goes away. And if that’s the case, why did Frodo suddenly come out of it?”
“I’m not sure,” says Frodo, looking thoroughly confused and wishing Eowyn hadn’t said anything.
“Maybe…” says Merry slowly, “maybe because he’s not a computer the normal rules don’t apply.” He looks around at everyone, clearly preparing to make an announcement he thinks highly important. “Maybe… Frodo built up an immunity to the virus!” Legolas and Gimli look at Merry as though he is mad, but Gandalf seems to like the idea.
“You could be right Merry,” he says. “It makes sense after all. You hobbits have a much stronger resilience to evil powers than many other creatures in Middle Earth.” Aragorn, Faramir and Eowyn look sulky again.
“Yeah,” says Frodo. “Yeah, that does sound reasonable.”
“We’re going to have to be much more careful checking our email from now on,” says Gandalf, “And we must get moving again!”
“That sounds good Gandalf but can I ask something first?” says Frodo, “Could I get some breakfast before we go? It’s just that I haven’t eaten in a week and…” Frodo passes out on the grass from low blood sugar. Gandalf considers for a moment, clearly not liking the idea at all. “Well…I suppose so.”
Episode Nine: When Hobbits Attack
Barliman Butterbur has never seen so many hobbits in one place in his entire life. If he didn’t know better, he’d say that Bree has been invaded by hobbits from the Shire: they’re everywhere! They had arrived almost two weeks ago, frighteningly angry, carrying pitch-forks and burning torches, but after Gandalf and his lot had left the next day, the hobbits seemed to have become subdued. Barliman had expected them to leave soon afterwards, but they did not. They had filled every hobbit lodging room he had, as well as all the other normal sized rooms on the ground floor. Some had even paid money to sleep out in the courtyard. But there were so many more that wouldn’t even fit into The Prancing Pony. They had gone roaming in the village, asking the local hobbits for spare rooms and lodgings, and some had even camped out in the fields on the borders of Bree.
They seem to be waiting for something, though he can’t think what. Everyday every single hobbit staying in the village makes his or her way in to the Prancing Pony where they all gather around one hobbit, clearly the leader, who checks his computer. This seems to be very important to them because they all hold their breath for several minutes while this is going on. Two of them have already had to be taken to the local doctor for some reviving remedies after almost dying from lack of oxygen. But everyday the hobbits seem to be disappointed by something, and after checking the computer they crowd up the Inn playing card games all day and drinking pints, which they seem to find something of a novelty.
Barliman can’t know of course that they are all waiting for orders from Gandalf to move against the Spammers, but he does know that the Inn has never made so much money in the history of Bree, so doesn’t complain. The truth is that the hobbits have become increasingly restless. They left the Shire with Frodo and Sam in the lead, expecting action and excitement, but then Frodo and Sam had taken Merry and Pippin and left them all behind. Every day they e-mail Gandalf asking if they can move against the Spammers, and every day Gandalf replies with the same two words, “Not yet.”
The hobbits are bored. In their initial boredom they had decided to elect a leader. They had some difficulty choosing a leader amongst them until finally someone remember that Pippin’s father, Paladin Took, was actually the Thane and military leader of the Shire. There was some surprise that everyone including the Thane himself had forgotten this rather important point but, looking back at their own history, realised that as there had been no call in the Shire for military leadership for over a hundred years it was small wonder they had forgotten. Paladin had been instructed by some of the younger Tooks in the use of a computer and is now quite a competent e-mailer, but he, like his fellows, is running out of patience.
Two weeks exactly since the Fellowship left Bree, Paladin calls a meeting of the hobbit army. As usual there is some jostling and pushing amongst the hobbits but they are soon silenced as Paladin moves to speak.
“It is time,” says he, “for us hobbits to do something. We have waited for Gandalf to lead us in this cause for too long, we are wasting time. I still think that we should go to our friends’ aid if they need it, but for the moment it is clear that they do not. And so, until that time comes, we must turn our attention to other matters. Let us not sit around in this Inn wasting away! Let us make use of our pitch-forks and flaming torches!!”
There is a hearty call of “Hear! Hear!” amongst the hobbit army, who eagerly rummage around for tinderboxes to relight their torches. “While we await the order from the Fellowship, let us use our time to annihilate our ancient enemy…” he pauses for effect. “The Oompa Loompa’s!”
“YES!!!” scream the hobbit army, brandishing their pitch-forks.
“Too long have these orange faced, green haired midgets impersonated us! Too long have they brought ridicule on the name of hobbit!” The hobbit army screams and cheers in agreement. “Burn the Oompa Loompas!!!” cries Paladin, brandishing his flaming torch!
“Burn the Oompa Loompas!” repeats the hobbit army, their eyes alight with the ancient fury. The hobbit army sweeps from the Prancing Pony Inn, pelting Barliman Butterbur with the gold they owe him for the rooms and ale on their way out. Down the street they pass, and through the gates, and off in the direction of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
Gandalf the Grey-bearded, robed and grey-mattered checks his email once again, with apprehension. Every day the hobbit army has e-mailed him, and every day he has fobbed them off. Their e-mails have become increasingly abusive and impatient, and Gandalf suspects that they will soon try some kind of threat or maybe even a home-made virus. Not that he is afraid that the hobbits can do any damage, but he does not like their constant hassling all the same. And sure enough, there is an e-mail from Paladin Took once again. He opens and reads…it is even worse than he had suspected.
. . .
“Those damn hobbits!” cries Gandalf in fury.
“Hey!” call Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin in indignation. “We didn’t do anything!”
“Not you,” says Gandalf impatiently. “The hobbit army.”
“What’ve they done?” asks Aragorn with interest.
“They say they’re bored waiting around in Bree, and have gone to make war on the Oompa Loompas while they’re waiting for us, and to e-mail them if we need anything.”
Pippin hisses through his teeth, Sam clenches his fists while Frodo and Merry grind their teeth at the mention of the name of Oompa Loompas.
“I told them specifically to stay where they were! They could be anywhere by now! What if we need them!?!” rants Gandalf.
“Well they did say to e-mail them if we need anything,” says Faramir reasonably, who has been listening.
“But still! It’s the principle of the thing! If you’re an army awaiting orders you don’t run off to annihilate a bunch of totally insignificant…”
“The Oompa Loompas are NOT insignificant!” starts Pippin angrily. “They have been our sworn enemies for…”
“Yes, yes,” says Gandalf impatiently. “My point is…is…” he pauses, trying to think of what his point is. Everyone looks at him expectantly, “My point is, this’ll ruin all our plans! You mark my words!” Eowyn nods at Gandalf in a sarcastic sort of way and he storms off in annoyance muttering under his breath about the unreliability of hobbits.
Episode Ten: And Then There Were Nine
It has recently come to this narrators attention that the majority of episodes so far have begun with the Fellowship waking up in the morning. A most grievous error of narration, that point shall now be corrected.
The Fellowship have been marching onwards to Mount Doom ever since breakfast this morning and the hobbit’s stomachs are beginning to grumble. The sun has risen high enough in the sky for there to be little to now shadows of the Fellowship or their surrounds. This is the signal for the hobbits to lapse once more into their now well-practiced routine.
“Gandalf,” says Frodo, trotting along-side the brooding wizard, “you know, as I have often been an outside observer of us hobbits as it were, I have always thought that we as a race in general travel more efficiently on a full stomach. Have you noticed how we often begin to lag behind around about the afternoon? I’m no scientist, but from my observations I’d say that’s because around about the lunching hour our stomachs empty themselves. I heard that it takes the stomach five hours to digest, you see, and if you’ll recall with us getting up at six each morning and leaving at seven, that would ideally explain why we are never quite up to scratch in the afternoon.”
“Why, that’s a wonderful idea Mr. Frodo!” says Sam, walking up from behind, seemingly casually, “and it would perfectly explain everything. I wouldn’t like to be one to hold the Fellowship behind on our important journey, but what do you think we could do about it?”
“I might have an idea,” says Merry, appearing on Gandalf’s other side, with Pippin skipping in front, looking back often and nodding in agreement, so that Gandalf is now surrounded on all sides by a gaggle of hobbits, “Back in the Shire, we used to have luncheon, so we’d be able to work hard all day. Perhaps we should try that again, see if it works? I know it would mean stopping and all, but I think in the long run it will be a benefit as we’ll be able to go so much faster afterwards.”
“My answer,” says Gandalf stiffly, “is the same as yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that, and the week before that. No!”
“Please, Gandalf!” says Sam.
“NO!!!” says Gandalf. The hobbits exchange looks, closing in on Gandalf.
“Well,” says Pippin wistfully, “I suppose if we can’t have any food we could always sing about it, maybe that will make up for it a bit.” Right on cue, all four hobbits start up a rowdy chorus of “Hey ho! To the bottle I go!” Gandalf grinds his teeth in barely suppressed supreme irritation as the same eight lines are repeated by the hobbits, again, and again, and again, complete with Pippin’s annoyingly cheeky last line solo and Sam’s tone-deaf cacophony. This continues for a full three-quarters of an hour when Gandalf, driven to the edge of insanity, is about to give in. The hobbits sense his weakness and quickly switch to “This is the song that doesn’t end…” to push him to breaking point, when suddenly Gandalf is saved.
“I can see something up ahead!!” cries Legolas. The hobbits stop singing disappointedly.
“Yes, I can see it too!” says Eowyn, squinting into the distance. “It seems to be some kind of mountain range.”
“The Misty Mountains!” says Gandalf, leaping at his opportunity to move to the head of the group, disentangling himself from the hobbits, Sam still determinedly clutching the back of his grey robes. “We will have to cross those, we shall probably reach them tomorrow.”
“But how?” asks Aragorn, “We haven’t brought any mountaineering equipment with us.” The Fellowship stop to think about this problem, and, taking advantage of the stillness the hobbits quickly set up a frying pan before anyone can stop them and prepare lunch.
. . .
After much deliberation over the subject, the Fellowship decide that they shall take the Moria tunnel, a long tunnel built by the dwarves in ages past that burrows directly through the mountain range from one side to the other. It is with some resentment that the hobbits point out that, due to Gandalf’s insistence that they leave their flaming torches behind, none of the Fellowship will be able to see anything on their way through, a point which Gandalf chooses to ignore, suggesting instead that the Fellowship march on after dark to reach the tunnel by midday the next morning, where, to silence the hobbits, he says they may stop for lunch before subjecting themselves to the darkness of Moria. This idea is widely disputed amongst the Fellowship (apart from the hobbits who, bribed with food, are now satisfied) but eventually accepted when reason overcomes tiredness.
And so the Fellowship continue on until around midnight before camping, then on to the mountains reaching them bang on Gandalf’s schedule. After a brief luncheon, during which the Fellowship savour the last daylight they will probably see in days, Gandalf insists they press on and, after some hesitation every single one of the ten members of the Fellowship plunge him or herself into the pitch black of the tunnel.
The journey through Moria is long, dark and tedious. The hobbit’s numerous attempts to lift everyone’s spirits and “drive the dark away” with a good hearty sing-along go unsuccessful and by the end of the second day (is it the end of the second day, no one can quite be sure in the darkness) they too fall as silent and sullen as their companions.
By the middle of the third day Gimli, who claims to have dwarven night-vision informs the others that they have just passed a sign written in dwarvish runes telling them that it will not be long now. There is scepticism amongst the Fellowship as to the existence of the sign, especially when another seven hours pass with no sign of light at the end of the tunnel however and by the end of the third day the general opinion among the hobbits as that there is no end to the tunnel and that they will all be marching on and on forever until they eventually run out of food and starve to death. This is hardly an optimistic view to take and serves only to worsen (if indeed that is possible) the spirits of the entire Fellowship even further.
However, by mid-morning on the fourth day Legolas’s elf vision picks up a stray light beam and by lunchtime the Fellowship is bathed in the glare of the outside world. Free at last! One by one they troop out of the tunnel and fling themselves down upon the warm, sun-beaten rocks in relief. It is sometime before anyone speaks, but after a while Faramir decides he has had enough of lying about.
“Ok everybody, why don’t we get moving again?” as expected there are groans of protest from the hobbits, but quite unexpectedly, no one tells them off for it.
“Hang on a minute,” says Eowyn, “there’s something wrong here.”
“Yeah,” says Legolas, looking around. “There seem to be only nine of us!”
“Let’s have a roll call!” says Aragorn. The Fellowship agree, slightly unnerved by this disturbing news. Aragorn begins, “Ok, start from the top. Gandalf?” There is no reply. Pippin turns around to nudge Gandalf and whisper, “He means you.” But finds to his surprise that there is no Gandalf to nudge.
“He’s gone!” cries Pippin in indignation.
“Wow,” says Aragorn. “That was efficient, I didn’t even get past the first name and we’ve already found our problem. Gandalf’s dead.”
Episode Eleven: Eowyn The White
“Excuse me?” says Eowyn. “Just because he’s not here doesn’t mean he’s dead. You’re jumping to conclusions a bit there aren’t you?”
“Well I’d like to hear a better explanation,” says Aragorn, growing bolder in the absence of leadership.
“Maybe he’s just a bit slower than everyone else, he is getting on a bit, old Gandy,” says Pippin. Everyone turns, expecting Gandalf to emerge from the shadows and tell Pippin off for calling him Gandy, but no Gandalf comes and this, more than anything else, convinces them that Gandalf is, indeed, dead. Aragorn suggests everyone take a moment to grieve the loss of the worrisome wizard.
“To tell you the truth I’m not too fussed,” says Legolas. Everyone looks at him, scandalised, “What?” says Legolas, “oh, go on, admit it, you never really liked him much either. He was bossy and cranky and never admitted his own mistakes.” Everyone murmurs that Legolas has a point, and then instantly feel guilty for speaking ill of the dead.
“Come on everyone,” says Faramir, “Gandalf wouldn’t want us to mope around being all upset for him. Let’s get organised, finish the quest…for him.”
“We need to get a new leader of the Fellowship,” says Gimli.
“And isn’t it just lucky,” says Aragorn, looking smug, “that Gandalf entrusted to me before we entered the tunnel, a will, stating who should take over his leadership, should something happen to him on our journey.” Legolas, Gimli, and Faramir also look exceedingly smug whilst everyone waits expectantly as Aragorn produces from his pack an elaborately rolled scroll. This is the moment of truth, when the Fellowship will hear what their new fate is to be now that Gandalf has left them. There is a tension in the air as every member of the Fellowship experiences the same frightening thought…what if it’s Pippin?
Aragorn clears his throat, unrolls the will and glances over in expectantly. His eyes widen in astonishment. “I…er…well…”
“Go on, read it out!” say Faramir, Gimli and Legolas in unison, looking more smug than ever.
Aragorn clears his throat again and reads, “I, Gandalf the Grey, do hereby declare that if something should happen to me, to prevent me from continuing to lead the Fellowship on their quest to destroy Viral Spam FOREVER, that the Fellowship member named should take my place as guide and leader. The person who is to take my place, should this occur is…Eowyn daughter of Eomund of Rohan. Signed, Gandalf the Grey.”
“What!?!” cry out Gimli, Legolas and Faramir together. “He told me I was next in line!!”
“That’s what he said to me!” says Aragorn in equal indignation.
“Well he didn’t tell me anything at all,” says Eowyn, clearly struggling between fury at not being informed and extreme pride at being chosen.
“Legolas,” says Pippin in amusement, “You forgot to add ‘twisted sense of humour’ to your description earlier.” But of all the Fellowship, the hobbits seem to be the only ones to find the situation amusing and sit by themselves giggling as the five contenders for leadership argue amongst themselves. Eventually the futile argument seems to abate and Eowyn seizes her chance in the new stony silence.
“Alright everyone!” she says, clapping her hands, “I am Gandalf’s chosen successor and so I must decide what happens next.”
“May I make a suggestion?” asks Pippin, raising his hand politely.
Eowyn smiles at him in an indulgent sort of way, clearly very pleased at his show of respect. “Of course you may.”
“Could we hobbits please be allowed to have lunch breaks? I think everyone would benefit from three meals a day rather than two.” The other hobbits nod fervently in agreement. Aragorn opens his mouth and looks as though he is going to argue but Eowyn fixes him with a stare that has not in the least forgotten previous events between them.
“Do you have a problem?” she asks in a poisonous voice. Aragorn swallows and shakes his head. “Good,” says Eowyn, smiling, and turning back to Pippin, assuming rightly that Aragorn was about to advise her against such a course of action she says, “Why of course you may. That’s a wonderful idea. Thank you for suggesting it Pippin.”
The hobbits cheer with the force of a stereo system turned on full volume and begin to dance a jig singing “Hey ho!…” once more. Eown looks more than a little alarmed at this behaviour and begins to wonder whether she should have listened to what Aragorn had to say before allowing the hobbits luncheon rights. Aragorn’s facial expression is a mixture of resentment, foreboding and smugness, something which Eowyn is quick to note.
“Faramir,” she says, “Do you have any suggestions for the Fellowship?”
Faramir considers for a moment, “Well, I think we should be allowed to stay up after dark if we want, Gandalf never let us before.”
Eowyn smiles at him, “Another excellent idea. Right then, let’s get moving shall we? We want to get a long way further before dark. It’s what Gandalf would have wanted.”
“Objection!” says Frodo, “You said we would be allowed lunch breaks.”
“Yes I did but…”
“It’s lunchtime at the moment, where’s our rights huh? You said…”
“Oh alright then.” says Eowyn in annoyance. The hobbits cheer again and quickly set about getting out the lunch things. They take over an hour to eat lunch, insisting that grief for Gandalf is slowing their eating and so they have not yet had enough food to ensure that they will be able to maintain Eowyn’s fast pace for the entire afternoon. Usually other members of the Fellowship would all complain, but they are all too busy sulking about Gandalf’s trick, and so Eowyn is forced to stand alone, towering over the hobbits seated around their lunch fire and demand that they finish immediately or face the consequences. However, not being a wizard like Gandalf was, Eowyn’s threats are not taken seriously and in the end the only way the hobbits will stop their luncheon activities is when Eowyn ties Samwise to a tree, places an apple on his head and asks Legolas to take some target practice whilst they wait for the hobbits to finish eating.
Episode Twelve: Camping
At the Spammer Headquarters, things are beginning to get tense. The warriors sent to capture the Fellowship have not returned, and it now seems certain that the Fellowship managed to defeat them and flee. The dwarf whose head Gimli smashed a computer onto, has been given lodging at the Headquarters by the VIP as none other than a VIP himself, having provided invaluable information. But the Spammers are now beginning to grow absolutely sick and tired of his constant grumbling and moaning. He had been furious when the warriors failed to capture Gimli and now takes to skulking in the corridors, barking at anyone unlucky enough to pass him for news of the offending dwarf. This is too much for the Spammers. Something must be done to shut him up or they will all go mad.
. . .
The night of Gandalf’s death/disappearance is a subdued one for the Fellowship. A tense expectancy lies heavy in the air, and everyone finds themselves sitting and waiting for something, though they can’t think what that might be. Earlier in the evening, Faramir had mentioned, just in passing that today was his birthday, and this idea had been instantly welcomed by the rest of the Fellowship, trying to quell their low spirits with some good old birthday celebrations. Samwise produced a slightly stale and travel-worn but delicious all the same birthday cake from his seemingly-bottomless pack, and each member of the Fellowship had donated one twig from their tinder boxes for candles. Faramir had cut the cake with his long, gleaming sword and it had come out dirty which meant he was obliged to kiss Eowyn, though he didn’t seem to mind very much.
Then the cake had been passed around with a hearty “Happy Birthday” chorus from the hobbits which even the rest of the Fellowship decided they would join in on, though they lost interest after the third time round. Then the group had gradually broken up into smaller conversations and all efforts of cheerful celebration were abandoned as the Fellowship murmured quietly amongst themselves.
In one corner sat Gimli and Legolas, bent low and poring over a large sheet of parchment which contained no less than ten different designs for a friendship bracelet, trying to symbolise all in one the renewed bonds between elves and dwarves, the particular friendship of Legolas and Gimli, how they had met whilst on a quest with the Fellowship to destroy the ultimate evil and how they both have a fondness for the colour blue. There are symbols of the bow and the axe crossed like a coat of arms, and ten wanderers in single file with a dwarf and an elf prominently next to each other, leading the group. There are sapphires of all different shapes and positions marked on the plan, clearly labelled with an arrow that says “blue” in case that vital point is accidentally missed. As Legolas whispers to him that he thinks they should add some elvish and dwarvish runes spelling out their names Gimli looks over his shoulder suspiciously. Ever since Legolas’s prediction he has never felt quite at ease around the younger hobbits, feeling that there is a conspiracy here somewhere if he could only just find it. But as always, he can see nothing suspicious and Pippin or Merry so he turns back to the plans and tells Legolas he thinks thats a wonderful idea.
Merry and Pippin are seated, as usual, in a small circle with Frodo and Sam, wondering how the hobbit army is doing in their quest to purge Middle Earth of the Oompa Loompas, and wishing, if they were not more responsibility bound to rid Middle Earth of Viral-Spam, that they could go with them. Pippin expresses once again his amazement that his father possesses a hereditary title making him the military leader of the Shire. The other hobbits agree that they would find it very amusing to see Pippin in action as the Thain. Pippin takes offence at their tone, before conceding that they may have a point. Merry gives Pippin a sideways glance, then makes a joke at which everyone laughs. Sam complains that he is hungry and Frodo tells him to eat something then, at which Sam reveals in a low voice so that none of the Fellowship can hear, that Faramir’s birthday cake was the last of his food supply. The other hobbits look very very worried, and wish that Gandalf could have had the decency of leaving his pack with someone before he up and died on them, so that he would at least be able to keep the others alive.
Eowyn and Faramir are also seated separately from everyone else, discussing the tragedy of the loss of Gandalf, the evilness of Spammers and Faramir’s wish to hack them to pieces if only his sword was not now covered in cake and other such noble and intelligent things which Faramir is so good at talking about, being the noble captain of Gondor, a point which Peter Jackson noticeably failed to notice. Aragorn watches the pair in silence, the only member of the Fellowship sitting alone, quietly devising ways of getting Arwen to forgive him in between sulking. So far he has thought of sending her 1000 roses from Mordor, which he can pick on his way to Mount Doom, tracking down an extremely rare and expensive bottle of blonde bleach (Arwen has always wanted to be blonde) and even (though he shudders at the thought) enduring Elrond’s immortal elf sulks in full view of Arwen to impress her. However none of these strategies seem quite right to Aragorn and he wonders whether he should just settle for single-handedly defeating Sauron the Ultimate Evil (whatever Gandalf said, Aragorn still thinks Sauron is the Ultimate Evil) and instantly begins fantasising.
One by one, the hobbits fall asleep where they sit talking, and the Fellowship gradually drift off to their sleeping bags after a good long night of talking. All except Eowyn and Faramir, who stay awake talking into the early hours of the morning.
Episode Thirteen: The Worst Day
It is a beautiful day when the remaining members of the Fellowship get up the next morning. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, but unfortunately they are just about to begin one of the worst days in their entire lives so these small delights go unnoticed. Of course, none of the Fellowship know what sort of a day it’s going to turn out to be, but they soon start to get a bit of an idea. It begins when seven members of the Fellowship get out of their beds to start on breakfast. It is instantly clear something is wrong. To try and determine the problem Aragorn uses his already proven highly successful roll call method.
“Aragorn!” he calls. No reply. “Oh look! It’s worked again, I don’t even get past the first name and already we…” Legolas taps Aragorn on the shoulder and whispers something inaudible in his ear. Aragorn looks highly embarrassed, clears his throat and says, “Right, moving on then. Eowyn?” There is another silence. “Faramir?” says Aragorn. Nothing. The Fellowship look startled, gazing around intently as though expecting to find the pair hiding behind the bushes or something. Legolas strides over to where Faramir and Eowyn were supposedly sleeping the night before and finds a piece of paper lying on the ground. He picks it up and reads, “We’ve eloped.”
“Ah,” says Gimli. “Well that would explain it.”
“Ha! So much for the noble Captain of Gondor! This must be Peter Jackson’s doing!” says Aragorn, shaking his fist at the sky.
“Some leadership,” says Frodo, commenting on Eowyn’s disappearance. The remaining members of the Fellowship stand silent, at a complete loss of what to do. Finally, Merry breaks the silence.
“Well,” says Merry, “on the bright side, we now get more time each on Gandalf’s computer.”
“That’s true,” everyone says in unison. After another confused pause, the hobbits set about getting breakfast ready whilst Gimli takes the first computer shift. First things first, Gimli uses the time to check his e-mail. He scans the unread messages and deletes all suspected Spam before opening an e-mail from Dane, King under the Mountain. This e-mail consists of demands that Gimli return to the Lonely Mountain at once and settle up the claims for his dishonourable disturbance of the Internet hall one month ago. It informs him that he is being sued for 200 gold pieces for the computer he destroyed, 700 for a dinted helmet of the dwarf on whose head he destroyed the computer and 25,000 gold pieces for emotional trauma to the dwarf in question.
The hobbits turn around in alarm as Gimli emits a roar of one month’s pent-up fury and begins unceremoniously destroying the Fellowship’s one and only laptop computer, their only fast means of communication and link with the rest of the world. As one Aragorn and Legolas rush to pry Gimli away from the precious object but he is blinded by rage, bashing it against the ground in an attempt to destroy it completely. Frodo and Sam are panic-stricken, hands raised to skulls in horror yelling, “Do something! Do something!” to the world in general whilst failing to do anything themselves. And still Gimli rages, until eventually Aragorn and Legolas fall back and watch in horror as Gimli lifts his axe from his belt and raises it high into the air, ready to deal the computer a fatal blow.
And then, out of nowhere, in a fit of desperation Pippin snatches up a random stick from the ground, points it at Gimli as his axe swings down and, without really knowing what he is doing or saying yells, “Avada Kedavra!!!” There is a flash of green light, all the Fellowship are thrown back by an invisible force and when they look up, Gimli is lying dead on the ground, the cloven, useless computer lying beside him. Everybody turns slowly and looks at Pippin, who drops his stick in horror and collapses to the ground, unable to believe what has just happened. “Impossible!” he says to himself.
Suddenly Legolas loses control, throwing himself to the ground and wailing, “We were going to forge a friendship bracelet! He was coming with me to Valinor! No! NO!!!” Aragorn pats Legolas on the back in a comforting sort of fashion, looking alarmed and rather shell-shocked then looks at Pippin, who seems to have lost the power of speech. Then without saying a word, Aragorn produces a rope from his pack and ties Pippin’s hands and feet. “You’re a danger to yourself and everybody else, Fool of a Took!” cries Aragorn, turning away. The other hobbits merely stare at Pippin, still unable to believe what they have seen.
“What are we going to do now?” asks Frodo forlornly. “We’re down to six. We’ve lost Gandalf, and Faramir, Eowyn and Gimli, three of our best fighters. What we really need is more back-up, but without the computer we’ve got no way to contact the hobbit army. We’re in the middle of nowhere.”
“This is the worst day of my life,” says Sam.
“Tell me about it!” says Legolas. “At least you haven’t just lost your best friend!” He collapses into a renewed fit of sobbing and everyone looks sympathetic, except Pippin who doesn’t look anything at all. The Fellowship is silent again for some time before finally, Aragorn decides someone must take the initiative to lead the group.
“Well,” he says after a long pause, “we can’t really succeed now without the hobbit army. We’re going to have to go looking for them.”
“All of us?” asks Sam.
“I think we should stick together, but I have my doubts about bringing him,” he shoots at Pippin, “He’d kill us all before we were halfway there!”
“Now that’s not fair!” says Merry. “Pippin didn’t mean to kill Gimli!” Aragorn shakes his head and says nothing.
“But where will we look?” asks Frodo. “We know they’re headed for the Oompa Loompas’, but does anybody actually know where they are?”
“Hmm,” says Aragorn, “I know that Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory is roughly 1,200 leagues south of Bree. And the Misty Mountains are roughly 700 leagues east from Bree. Now,” he says, drawing a rough map in the dirt with a stick. “If I draw a line from Bree to us, like this, and a line from Bree to the factory, like this, and then connect the two, like this, what we have is a right angle triangle. And from this using trigonometry I can work out not only how far it is from here to the chocolate factory, but what angle we’ll need to take to get there!” The Fellowship merely gape at Aragorn, all of this going over their heads. Aragorn, unperturbed merely bends over his diagram in the dirt, tongue between his teeth muttering things like, “Now the route we need to take will be the hypotenuse, that’s x, so we’re looking at the tan ratio here…hmm, Pythagoras…what’s 1,200 squared again?…I’ve got it! Follow me, everyone!”
“But what about Pippin?” asks Merry indignantly. “You can’t leave him behind!”
Aragorn considers for a moment then says, “You can stay with him then.”
“We’re not leaving Merry and Pippin here alone to starve!” cry Frodo and Sam. “If you insist on leaving them behind then…we’re staying too!”
“Fine!” says Legolas, standing up, “come on Aragorn, let’s go!” and marches off without another word. Aragorn looks back half apologetically. “We’ll be back soon with the hobbit army!” he says, then runs to catch up with Legolas, who, understanding nothing of trigonometry, is walking resolutely in completely the wrong direction.
“I guess that’s it then,” says Frodo, “we’re just going to have to sit here and wait.”
“Well,” says Sam, examining Gimli’s pack, “on the bright side, I can now replenish my food stores!”
Episode Fourteen: The Worst Day Continued
The hobbits sit in complete silence all morning, still in shock from the events of the past twenty-four hours: The loss of Gandalf, the elopement of Eowyn and Faramir, the death of Gimli, Aragorn’s trigonometry and his quest with Legolas to find the hobbit army. In just twenty-four hours their Fellowship has been reduced from ten to four. When afternoon comes their spirits are still low, especially now that they have no purpose but to wait for Aragorn and Legolas to return, which will probably take weeks. One by one the hobbits drop off into early dozes. Until suddenly, Merry, who has been lying with one ear to the ground, sits bolt upright.
“Does anybody else feel that?” he asks, with fear in his voice for the first time all day.
“Feel what?” asks Sam glumly.
“This,” says Merry, pressing Sam’s hand to the ground. Sam’s eyes widen as he feels the trembling of the earth, as though some large company is approaching. Merry jumps to his feet and gazes around wildly. Frodo and Sam get up too, and only Pippin remains tied on the ground. “I think it’s coming from that direction,” says Merry, indicating the hill straight ahead of them. Taking charge of the group Merry says, “Frodo, Sam, go and check over that hill, see if you can see anything, but be cautious. I’ll stay here and guard Pippin.”
Frodo and Sam follow these orders without question, creeping silently up the hill in the direction of the tremors until they reach the very top of the hill and, lying flat peer carefully over the edge. They both instantly have to roll away into a clump of bushes nearby as no less than an entire army of Spammers reach the top of the hill and begin pouring down below into the valley where Merry stands alone guarding Pippin, still tied up and with no will left to save himself.
Merry looks up from the valley below in horror, drawing his sword but at the same time realising it would be futile. He is outnumbered two hundred to one with no hope on victory. He tries as discreetly as possible to signal to Frodo and Sam to stay out of sight, better that they at least survive to tell Aragorn and Legolas what happened, and then the army arrives. They look highly embarrassed at the fact that they sent out two hundred and have arrived in the location believed to be where the Fellowship is camping to find only two measly little hobbits, one of whom is already tied up for them. But they soon get over this detail and, after some struggle, put Merry out of action with a blow to the head, tie him up like his friend and carry them both off, the younger members of the party poking the cute little hobbit Pippin with a stick just for the fun of it.
When the army is at a safe distance Frodo and Sam emerge from their clump of bushes wearing looks of complete and utter disbelief, silently wondering how they thought this day couldn’t have gotten any worse. Aragorn and Legolas are far away by now, tracking the hobbit army. Gandalf’s whereabouts are also unknown, Faramir and Eowyn are probably at this moment exchanging vows in some far exotic country, and Gimli is dead.
“Well,” says Frodo, “I guess it’s up to us to rescue them, then.”
Sam looks pale, “I guess so, though our chances are less than zero.”
“Of course,” says Frodo. “We’ve got to try though.”
“Of course. Should we leave a note for Aragorn and Legolas?”
“Why not?” says Frodo, whipping out a scroll and quill, he seats himself on the grass and scrawls, “Merry and Pippin captured. Gone to rescue them. Meet you at Mount Doom. Hope you are well, see you soon! Frodo and Sam.”
“Right then,” he says, rolling it up and addressing it to Aragorn and Legolas, “let’s go!” And Frodo and Sam set off into the sunset, the last of the Fellowship.
Episode Fifteen: An Elven Encounter
Three days have passed and still Frodo and Sam are no closer to rescuing Merry and Pippin, though they are a little closer to Mount Doom. They had trudged determinedly day and night in pursuit of the Spammers, but as the Spammers had longer legs, smaller stomachs and there were a hell of a lot more of them, they had made much better progress than their two hobbit pursuers. But Frodo and Sam trot on, even to the point of skipping meals to gain on the army, but by the end of the day, their spirits are running dangerously low. Finally, Sam flings himself to the ground in despair, and exhaustion of course. “It’s no use, Mr. Frodo. We’re never going to catch up with them like this. By the rate we’re going Merry and Pippin will be dead a month before we even arrive at the Black Gate! I know, I know, they captured them and they’re not going to kill them, but sooner or later, Mr. Frodo! We have to do something, but we’re just not fast enough!”
“I know, Sam, I feel completely helpless, too! But we have to do something. If only we had a quicker way to travel!” Frodo says, sitting beside Sam on the grass. There is a long silence as Frodo and Sam consider the problem, but in the absence of the eight other members of the Fellowship to contemplate with them, it is a much less hopeful pause. In the end, more to fill the silence than because he thinks it is a useful suggestion, Sam speaks.
“Perhaps, we could get someone to help us. All the Fellowship is gone, but maybe we could find someone else who knows of our cause, and has the resources to give us a little extra speed or assistance?”
Frodo springs to his feet. “Of course! Why didn’t I think of it before?! Galadriel! She knows everything, and she has elves! She can help us!”
“Yes!” says Sam, also getting to his feet, though slightly more slowly, “And she’s on our way too! Isn’t Lothlorien south of here?”
“Yes, I think so!” says Frodo eagerly, all exhaustion lifted from him. “Come on Sam! The sooner we get to her the sooner she can help us find Merry and Pippin!”
“Good thinking, Mr. Frodo!” says Sam.
“And you, Sam!” says Frodo. And with that the two hobbits march off into the sunset with renewed vigour. The march to Lothlorien takes most of the night, partly because after dark before the moon rose the hobbits accidentally walked off in completely the wrong direction and partly because Lothlorien is quite a long way away anyway. However, in the grey hours before dawn, through the mist Frodo spots something in the distance. “Sam, look! I think we’re almost there!”
Sam squints into the darkness. “Do you know, Frodo, I think you may be right.” The two hobbits trudge on into the gloom. About an hour later as the sun is rising the two hobbits plunge into the forest, convinced that all their problems will be solved with this meeting. They walk cheerfully for some time, admiring in wonder the beauty of the woods of Lorien until eventually Sam speaks.
“What do we actually do, now that we’re inside the forest?”
“We talk to Galadriel, of course.”
“But how do we find her?”
Frodo stops. “That’s a good point. I hadn’t thought of that.”
“Oh!” says Sam, spotting a group of elves in the distance. “Maybe those elves will help us,” And raising his arms he calls, “Hey you! Over there! We’re looking for some…”
“Duck!!!” yells Frodo, pulling Sam to the ground as the elves start shooting at them. “Good one Sam!” says Frodo as the arrows fly overhead.
“Hey! It was your idea to come here!” protests Sam. The angry elves approach Frodo and Sam and the hobbits fall silent. One of the party, obviously the leader, steps forward.
“Who dares enter the woods of Lothlorien, and address us elves so discourteously?”
“We wanted to speak to Galadriel. We thought she might be able to help us,” whimpers Sam from the ground.
“Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee of the Shire,” says Frodo quickly.
The elf pauses. “Wait here.” He walks over to confer in low voices with his companions. They seem to be having some sort of argument in elvish, a strange sight, but eventually the first elf rummages in his pack for something and walks back over, an agreement seemingly reached. The elf pours some strange looking liquid from a flask into two cups and gives them to Frodo and Sam.
“Drink this,” he says shortly, still looking suspiciously at them. Frodo and Sam look at each other and hesitate. The elf signals to another behind him who strings his bow menacingly and the hobbits hasten to obey, draining their cups without a second thought. Everything begins to grow dark, and within moments Frodo and Sam have dropped senseless to the floor.
Episode Sixteen: The Windlord Taxi Service
Frodo gathers that many hours must have passed when he finally stirs, as the light is that of sunset once again. He sits up and looks around him, and spots Sam who must have already woken sitting, arms tightly hugged around himself rocking backwards and forwards and biting his lip. Frodo gives him and enquiring expression and Sam says, “We…we…we’re very, very high up, Mr. Frodo.” Frodo looks around and sees that they are on some kind of wooden flet, in a tree. He crawls over to the edge and peers cautiously over. He pulls his head back almost immediately in fright as they appear to be so high up he is unable to see the ground. Frodo looks back at Sam who nods in a frightened manner, clearly not liking the situation at all. At that moment however, an elf appears climbing down from a higher platform.
“We have decided that you are no threat. Galadriel will see you now,” says the elf grudgingly, clearly saying this against his better judgement. “Follow me.”
The two hobbits, not without many misgivings, follow the elf up the slender ladder onto a higher platform. Then up another slenderer ladder to an even higher platform. Then up a third ladder and the slenderest of all onto the very highest platform. Here the rays on sunset can be seen peeping serenely through the leaves of the canopy. Sam is now shaking uncontrollably at the height but Frodo, though equally frightened, manages to project some look of composure. The elf moves away to the side of the flet and Frodo and Sam are left standing face to face with Galadriel herself, seated in a throne of golden leaves. She looks at the hobbits sternly.
“My elves tell me that you were disrespectful to them of the most dramatic nature early this morning. Is that correct?”
Frodo and Sam stare at Galadriel part in wonder, and part because after what happened previously they are unsure how they should address the elf queen. Finally, when Galadriel begins to look impatient, Frodo speaks, choosing his words carefully. “My Lady, forgive us, but we were weary and confused, and unaware of the proper way to address an elf of the woods of Lorien. We came here seeking your help.”
“Hmm … you are part of the Fellowship? The one formed by Gandalf to defeat the Hackers and the Spammers?” asks Galadriel in her slow and deep, but infinitely wise voice. “But there were ten. Where are your companions?”
“It is because of that we came seeking your help,” Frodo explains quickly, still attempting to keep formal tones, glad not to have aroused any anger so far. “Gandalf we lost in the tunnel of Moria, he went missing in the dark and we do not know what became of him. Eowyn and Faramir eloped the next day. Gimli was killed by…by and accident, and in the process destroyed our laptop computer and only means of quick communication. Then there were only six of us and, we deemed, not enough to continue the quest. Aragorn and Legolas went in search of the hobbit army, and soon afterwards an army of Spammers came upon us and kidnapped Merry and Pippin. We tried to pursue them but are not nearly fast enough. We were hoping you might be able to find some way that we can rescue our friends…?”
Frodo finishes his explanation and looks hopefully up at Galadriel, before remembering that he is speaking to an elf-queen and drops his eyes respectfully. Galadriel sits, deep in thought. The hobbits wait, heads bowed, silent. Finally, Galadriel stirs and the hobbits look up at her.
“Do either of you know how to pilot a boat?” she asks.
“Er…” The hobbits both look awkward and shake their heads sadly, uncomfortable to have to refuse Galadriel’s help after having asked for it.
“Hmm…” says Galadriel. “Well, in that case, I will have to call in a favour. But only as long as you do a favour for me.”
“Yes?” says Sam. “I mean, yes, my lady, we will do anything,”
“Succeed in your quest. I am sick and tired of getting these pathetic Spam e-mails in my inbox. I am an elf-queen and I have better things to do with my time than read through petty advertising scams. The indignity I have to suffer every day when I check my e-mail! Destroy the Spammers, Frodo and Sam, or you will hear about it from me!”
“Yes, my lady,” mutter Frodo and Sam.
“Now, follow me,” says Galadriel, walking away along the flet to yet another ladder, rope this time and, amazingly, climbing it with grace and dignity to disappear over the top. The hobbits look at each other and follow much more clumsily as the ladder slips and sways dizzyingly under their weight. They emerge at the top, thankful to be alive and stop, staring in wonder at the breathtaking view. They are standing on the very tallest flet in the forest which is seated just on top of a sea of gold as the woods of Lothlorien spread out before them into the distance. Galadriel turns to them.
“You are afraid of heights. That will not help you with this form of transportation but you shall just have to endure it if you wish to rescue your friends. They will still arrive in Mordor before you do as they are now approaching very near the gate, but with any luck you will now arrive in time to save them. This friend of mine usually charges a high fee for his services but I believe I can convince him to make an exception.”
Galadriel turns away, looking over the forest to the distant Misty Mountains, puts two fingers in her mouth and makes a shrill whistle which echoes around them in all directions. She then stands in silence, waiting. The hobbits stand silent too but after ten minutes or so when Galadriel has not stirred they begin to fidget. Finally, an answering call is heard in the distance, and slowly a dot in the sky grows larger and larger as it speeds towards them. Sam cries out as the giant eagle swoops down and lands gracefully on the flet.
“Windlord Taxi Services. We take you anywhere you want to go, exceptions apply. Fee negotiable,” recites the eagle then, turning to Galadriel says, “What can I do for your you, my lady?”
“I think it’s more a question of what I can do for you. I’m calling in a favour, if you comply, I will no longer hold the eagles of the Misty Mountains indebted to me.”
The eagle looks suspicious. “What kind of favour?”
“These two hobbits need urgent transportation.” The eagle turns to regard the hobbits.
“Gwaihir?” asks Frodo in astonishment.
“No, not Gwaihir, he was too busy to answer the call. I am his cousin,” says the eagle. “Well, transportation is our speciality and in the er…” He looks back at Galadriel nervously, wondering if she is going to reveal to the hobbits the reason of the debt, “circumstances I think we eagles will be prepared to wave the fee. Where is it you would like to go?”
“Would you take us to Mount Doom?” asks Frodo. The Eagle’s face darkens.
“I, nor any other eagle of the Misty Mountains will fly over the land of shadow. I can take you only as far the Black Gate, but no further!”
“Hmm…” says Frodo, looking at Sam for confirmation then, turning back to the Eagle, “Sounds good to me!”
Episode Seventeen: Reunion
Aragorn and Legolas run steadily across the plains. It has been three days since they parted company from the hobbits and although, after recovering from the shock of Gimli’s death, Legolas several times insisted they go back so that he could kill Pippin in return, their progress has been good. No longer held behind by aged wizards, strolling starry-eyed couples and munching hobbits, they have been travelling at a much, much faster pace than the original Fellowship would have considered possible.
Aragorn likes running. He finds it clears his head. He likes to feel the air in his lungs and the wind whipping his hair. He has found that it eases the anxieties constantly clamouring in his chest, demanding that he have a nervous breakdown. Aragorn has even found himself sulking less, and looking back on his past sulks in wonder that he could have behaved like that, and even the beginnings of shame. Aragorn is beginning to feel free like he hasn’t felt in years, like the Heir of Gondor again. He is sure now that when Arwen sees he is a changed man, she’ll have him back straight away. Life just simply couldn’t get better, running free in Middle Earth.
Legolas on the other hand, does not like running at all. But then again, he has the suspicion that even if he persuaded Aragorn to stop running (not likely as he is clearly enjoying it so very much) whatever they did instead of running, Legolas would not like that either. It seems to Legolas that he will never enjoy anything in his life ever again. Not since the moment when that stupid, idiot, whingeing, whining, cheeky, annoying, short and generally all-round no good as a person, hobbit Pippin picked up a stick and put him to death. Legolas knows well that Pippin will have to die, that has become the new object of his quest. Forget the Spammers.
He has tried the direct tactic, but Aragorn prevented him, telling him to calm down and that in a few days he will no longer have the irrational desire to murder Pippin. And so Legolas decided to pretend to agree with Aragorn, play this little game. Find the hobbit army and then go back, Aragorn won’t prevent him then, and before anyone can stop him, Legolas knows he will get his revenge. And then write a song about it, says his elvish nature. “Yes,” thinks Legolas, “Yes. And then write a song. Mwhahahaha!”
And Aragorn and Legolas continue to run in silence until suddenly up ahead they see a forest. Aragorn stops and, taking his cue, so does Legolas. They stand bent over like a pair of athletes for a few minutes, breathing heavily until finally, Legolas feels it is time to speak. “It’s a forest.”
“I know Legolas,” says Aragorn patiently.
“Is this why we stopped?”
“I thought it would be good to take a breather before we pass through Fangorn Forest. It is supposed to be full of killer trees, after all.”
“Hmm,” says Legolas, “good idea.” And promptly drops to the grass and lies on his back, still breathing heavily. Aragorn, too, sits down.
“So,” says Aragorn tentatively, “how’re you feeling?”
“Tired,” pants Legolas.
“You know what I mean,” says Aragorn. “You know, I really don’t think Pippin meant to kill Gimli. He just made a mistake. You know he’s an idiot, Gandalf himself always used to call him ‘Fool of a Took’ and Gandalf was pretty wise.”
“Hmm,” says Legolas, trying to look as though he is agreeing with Aragorn and not trying to decide if he would be satisfied shooting Pippin at a distance and whether it would be worth spending his money on a CIA-standard garrotte. Aragorn however, is looking suspiciously at Legolas. Legolas searches his mind for something to say that would convince Aragorn he no longer hates Pippin when he is saved by a commotion in the direction of Fangorn Forest.
“Those damn trees!!!” a voice is shouting. “Hey! Treebeard told you to leave me alone! You…don’t you try that with me! Think dropping branches is going to be enough, do you? HEY!!! You’ve stained my new clothes!!! You bracken-covered…”
Aragorn leaps to his feet. “Is it just me, or does that sound like Gandalf?”
“That sounds like Gandalf!” says Legolas, glad for the distraction. They both sprint towards the forest to see a figure dressed in white emerge, fighting off branches of trees which appear to be attacking him, with leaves and branches in his albino white hair. “The ghost of Gandalf!” cries Legolas, bowing to the ground in honour. Aragorn simply stares dumbfounded at Gandalf who, having successfully disentangled himself from the forest, has noticed them.
“No,” says Gandalf, “I am not a ghost.”
“But then…” says Legolas, “Your clothes, your hair? What happened to you?! We thought you had died in Moria!”
“I got new clothes,” says Gandalf, “And it’s very tactless for you to point out my hair. Just remind me how old I’m getting, why don’t you!”
“Gandalf,” says Aragorn, speaking at last. “How can this be? What happened to you?”
“I’d like to ask you the same question, but as you asked first I’ll tell you. You see, all this began back, only a few days ago really but it seems like forever, the day before we entered Moria. I knew we would need the hobbit army soon, but I also knew that they would not be persuaded to leave those Oompa Loompas alone by e-mail. Somebody would have to go and fetch them in person. I knew that if I told you of my plans you would all want to come with me, and I don’t think I would have been able to stand another minute of those hobbits singing all the damn time! And so, in the dark of Moria I slipped off and went in search of the hobbit army. I had intended to cut through Fangorn Forest, but the trees it seems, have other ideas. So that’s me, what about you?”
Gandalf listens as Aragorn recounts their tale of everything that happened since he left them. “And so we left the hobbits back in the valley outside Moria to come looking for the hobbit army and well, here we are, ” finishes Aragorn. “We’re so glad to have found you again, Gandalf!”
“Hmm,” says Gandalf, “I don’t know how wise it was to leave those hobbits on their own, but we shall see, we shall see. Well, it seems to me that we’re both going in the same direction. There seems to be no other course of action but to push on together.”
“Yes,” says Aragorn. “Yes, I think you are right. Well, we have lingered too long here now. We must be going, especially now that we’re going to have to cut around Fangorn, it seems.”
“Off we go!” cries Gandalf, and all three set off once again, searching, searching for the hobbit army.
Episode Eighteen: The Black Gate of Mordor
The eagle from the Windlord Taxi Service swoops down onto the rocks, the Black Gate of Mordor prominent in the distant landscape. Frodo and Sam dismount stiffly, looking immeasurably relieved to feel solid ground beneath their feet again. The eagle bows as low as an eagle is able to bow to them and says, “You must of very noble heart and deed for the Lady of the Wood to grant you this service.”
“Well, I don’t know about that,” says Sam awkwardly.
“Thank you for bearing us this far,” says Frodo. “We will forever be in your debt.”
“Not mine, but you will be in debt none the same. Make sure you remember that. Galadriel is very dangerous when angered.”
“That I don’t doubt,” says Frodo, remembered the wrath of her elves alone.
“Now I must bid you farewell and wish you a safe journey, though that is doubtful if you intend to enter Mount Doom.”
“We do,” says Frodo, “Farewell, and thank you again.” And with that, the eagle spreads forth its wings and launches itself once more into the sky. And so Frodo and Sam, finished exchanging their polite words with the eagle, turn to face Mordor, where it is doubtful that any polite word has ever been uttered in its entire history, not that this is a priority of the hobbits’ or anyone else’s for that matter, people usually being more concerned with the legendary torture that goes on there. This is exactly what Frodo and Sam are being concerned about right at this very moment in fact. Slightly grey-faced, Frodo finally swallows his stomach which is making a valiant attempt to escape the shadow of Mordor through his mouth, and says, in a voice slightly higher than usual, “Well, I guess this is it then. We’re almost there and we can’t stop now. Let’s get to Mount Doom and save our friends…oh, and the world too of course.”
“Yes,” says Sam, sounding equally frightened but determined. “Yes, let’s just get this over with then.” And so the two hobbits walk the last few miles to the Black Gate in a nervous silence. They seem to have reached an unspoken agreement, knowing there is nothing more to do now than head towards it and hope that they will be able to get past and on to even greater dangers. And so they march solidly on, surprisingly unchallenged, although they are sure they’re being watched, until the gate us right in front of them, and they can march no further. Frodo and Sam halt, look at each other and then as one, reach up and knock determinedly three times on the solid, heavy metal.
There is a pause, and then a dull clanking on the other side of the gate signals that someone is coming. The metal creaks and groans as a small door inside the gate opens to reveal a lone, aged and hideous looking orc. The orc says nothing but stands and stares at them, and the hobbits, unsure of what to do next, stare right back. This goes on for some time until eventually Frodo clears his throat nervously, “Er…We were told we had permission to enter Mordor?” he asks hopefully.
The orc continues to stare at them for a moment and then says, “You’re those hobbits who’ve come to destroy the Spammers, right?”
“That’s right,” says Frodo eagerly, glad to be recognised.
“I thought there was supposed to be ten of you,” says the orc, looking behind them as if expecting to see more people, then turning back to the hobbits suspiciously, “Where’s the rest, eh?”
“We…er…we lost them,” says Frodo and then, when the orc doesn’t seem satisfied adds lamely, “…it’s a long story.”
“Oh sure,” says the orc sceptically, “heard that one before.”
“Oi!” says Sam, “Are you suggesting we…”
“Save it for someone who cares would you?” says the orc impatiently. “Now let’s see, let’s see.” He says, pulling a ragged clipboard and pen out and fixing them with a beady stare. “Names?”
“Frodo Baggins and Samwise…”
“Hold it, hold it!” says the orc, scanning the list carefully, “Here we go, Frodo Baggins.” He says and ticks him off the list. “It says here after you have accomplished your goal you’re to be out of here within forty-eight hours, got that?”
“Yes,” says Frodo.
“Right, and his name is?”
“Samwise Gamgee,” says Sam. The orc makes another tick on the list.
“You’re another one who’s gotta be out quick smart afterwards. And make sure you do, we’ve never tortured hobbits before and the boys are really anxious to try something new. We haven’t had any fun in 3,000 years.” The orc eyes the hobbits hungrily.
“Er…” says Frodo nervously, “do you want to get out of the way, so we can go through?”
“Yeah, yeah,” says the orc grudgingly, stepping aside. Frodo and Sam step through into Mordor, and the door clanks ominously behind them.
“Off you go then!” says the orc, giving them a slight push from behind and, numbly the hobbits begin their trek into the desolation that is the Land of Shadow. There is only a grey light here, the sun blotted out by dark clouds above, and the ground is cracked and dry. Sam looks around and anxiously checks his pack to see what food he has left, sure that they will find nothing edible here. Once he is satisfied with his search, or at least realising that even if there isn’t enough food there’s not much he can do about it now, Frodo and Sam shoulder their burdens and continue to walk purposefully down onto the Plains of Gorgoroth.
Episode Ninteen: The Long Journey Underground
Frodo and Sam had trekked day and night, day and night across the barren wastelands of Mordor and now, three days after they had stepped through the Black Gate, they are entirely exhausted. Their food supplies are now running dangerously low and their morale even lower. There is something about going for many days at a time without catching a glimpse of the sun that suffocates the spirit. In Moria it was bad, but here in Mordor for some reason, though they can still see, it seems even worse. Perhaps it is the toxic aftertaste the air leaves in the throat, or the way the wind whistles as it whips the grey dust in their faces. The entire landscape is starved of all colour. A joyless, cheerless void.
Frodo throws himself to the ground and fights a losing battle with his eyelids which keep insisting on closing no matter how many times he blinks them open. He even tries holding them up but they just refuse to stay. Very close in the distance now looms Mount Doom and the Headquarters of the Spammers where Merry and Pippin are being held, and where their quest will end. The fact that the orcs have been ordered to leave them alone has done little to help Frodo and Sam on their journey as parties of passing orcs stop to jeer and try to impede their progress towards the Mountain of Fire. Sam has already discovered no less than eight heavy rocks cleverly stashed away in his pack, explaining the immense weight of it since they had entered Mordor.
Frodo is now certain that if they weren’t now Merry and Pippin’s only hope of rescue in time, even if he were now surrounded by the Fellowship suffering together towards their goal, he would long ago said ‘to hell with it’ and gone home. Frodo and Sam sip some water and sit on the verge of sleep. Frodo, admitting defeat to his eyelids, decides the least he can do is formalise what appears to be happening whether they like it or not. “I think,” says Frodo, stifling a huge yawn, “that we should take a rest before we go on for the last stretch, don’t you…” But Sam isn’t listening, he is already snoring and before Frodo can finish his sentence he is joining him.
In the early hours, just before the sun is supposed to, but of course never will, rise over Mordor, the two hobbits stir. Their limbs are still stiff and sore, and, considering the time they have spent asleep, they feel in no way refreshed whatsoever. However they have reached that state of over-tiredness where no matter how much you would love to sleep, the body simply refuses and so they rise and, after a quick breakfast, force themselves to continue. Once again they plod along silently, too tired to speak, all day. The hours pass, the orcs pass, and the anything-but-charming Mountain scenery looms closer and closer until the day reaches that time when the sun should be setting over Mordor but of course is not. Instead the grey, stormy sky overhead merely becomes darker and darker until it is a black veil blotting out even the night sky.
But this time, Mordor is not entirely dark. In the distance, Frodo and Sam in their tiredness, tense to see watch fires springing up all along the foot of the Mountain. Suddenly feeling more alert than they have in days, Frodo and Sam drop silently to the ground. “That’s it Sam. That must be the entrance to their underground headquarters,” whispers Frodo.
“When shall we try to break in, Mr. Frodo?” asks Sam. “We could go under the cover of darkness like, but they’ve still got those watch fires.”
“I think we should go now, Sam,” says Frodo. “We’ve taken long enough already. Who knows what could have happened to Merry and Pippin by now? They might even already be…” Frodo swallows, pauses and continues. “We should go now, Sam.”
“Yes,” says Sam. “You’re right again, Mr. Frodo.” And with that the two hobbits begin to wriggle across the ground in an army crawl, slowly, further and further until they are in the darkness just outside the ring of firelight of the closest watch fire. Here Frodo and Sam lie whispering about the best way to get inside.
“I don’t see any guards, I think if just make a run for it, quick like, we’ve got a good chance.”
“But there might be hidden guards, Sam, those watch fires aren’t there for no reason.”
“Maybe they’re just there to make people think there’s a watch, scare them off. No one would want to cross the firelight, and so there’s no need for more security.”
There is a crunch of boots behind the hobbits and a voice says, “You’re wrong there, actually.” The hobbits freeze, then spring up to make a run for it but before they can get two steps away two Spammers each have grabbed and restrained them. The hobbits struggle wildly but the Spammers are twice as large and they are far too outnumbered. Soon Frodo and Sam are bound and gagged, and being marched roughly across the circle of firelight into a large cave-like opening at the base of the mountain and down, further and further, into a stone passageway lit by flaming torches in brackets.
The Spammers continue to push and shove them on further for what seems like all night until finally, they come to a halt outside one of the many doors they have passed. The Spammers seem reluctant to enter but after a few moments pause, the hobbits are un-gagged and pushed roughly through the door into a small badly lit room. The door slams shut behind them and two Spammers stand guard on either side of it. From the shadows in the corner a figure stirs, and as he moves into the firelight Frodo and Sam gasp with a shock of recognition.
“You!” breathes Frodo in anger.
“Me,” says the dwarf whose head the late Gimli used as an implement to smash his computer on. The dwarf is surveying them with a cold, disappointed look.
“I was hoping that they would have caught Gimli, but instead I get MORE hobbits!” He turns to the guards. “I fulfilled my side of the bargain and still you fail to uphold your end! Do you think I like sitting around here in your stupid headquarters all day waiting for my payment?”
“Your payment?” says Sam and then, cottoning on, exclaims, “You betrayed us! That’s how they found out we were coming and sent those viruses against us, and the warriors and the army! It was you!”
The Dwarf continues speaking to the Spammers, ignoring Frodo and Sam completely. “I thought I made it perfectly clear that I am only interested in the dwarf, Gimli. Why do you keep bringing me these hobbits to inspect?”
“Fine then,” says one of the guards, clearly highly resentful of the dwarf, and, grabbing Frodo and Sam roughly by the shoulders, push them back out into the corridor, slamming the door behind. Then they are marched down more and more corridors, only this time it is clear they are descending. The walls become narrower and closer together, the smell becomes more rank and rotten and as the temperature continues to rise, the hobbits realise they are now well inside the Mountain and coming close to the fiery part. In the distance, at first Frodo thinks he’s imaging it, there seems to be the sound of talking, or rather singing. As they move onwards the sound grows louder and louder until it becomes unmistakably the sound of two hobbits singing, almost screaming at the top of their voices, “Hey ho! To the bottle I go!”. As the sound reaches a crescendo they stop once again, a door is opened and Frodo and Sam are rather unceremoniously shoved inside.
They fall on their faces as the door is slammed and bolted, but the sound of this is drowned out by the singing. Groaning and rubbing their sore limbs, Frodo and Sam look up to see Merry and Pippin.
Episode Twenty: Pippin’s Secret
“Frodo! Sam!” cry Merry and Pippin, ceasing their singing, “We knew you’d turn up sooner or later! Although, we were kind of hoping you’d get in here without Spammer help. But still, four hobbits is better than two, right?”
“We’re so glad you’re ok!” says Frodo, pulling himself up into a sitting position, “How long have you been here?”
“A few days, and we’ve been singing the whole time!” says Merry.
“Pippin will explain, but first, Sam, will you sing ‘Hey ho!’ with me?”
“Er…ok,” says Sam, and Merry and Sam promptly start singing.
Pippin turns to Frodo and Sam. “We’ve been singing non-stop because we knew sooner or later you would turn up. The Spammers mustn’t suspect that we’re plotting anything and the only way they can be sure is if we’re always singing, plus it annoys them to death. As long as we have two of us singing at all times and me doing the solo, we can make our plans to escape disguised by the noise. If you’re singing and you want to say something, point to someone who isn’t and they have to immediately take over from you, got it?”
Sam points to Frodo who starts singing. “Got it,” says Sam.
“Ok, then. We didn’t get much of a look at this….Is a mug of beer inside this Took!…place before we were put in here, but it looks like security’s pretty tight. They have guards at the entrance to the dungeon corridor, we think, because they used to come in here all the time to tell us to ‘shut the bloody hell up’ but I think they’ve given up now and they only come twice a day to put food through our slot. We don’t know why they’re keeping us here except to lure the rest of the…Is a mug of beer inside this Took!…Fellowship. We thought they would have killed us by now.”
Frodo points to Sam who starts singing again. “I don’t think we’ll have long here, that dwarf who was at the meeting wasn’t interested in us and they didn’t take us to see anyone else before we were put in here. I think they’re trying to decide what to do with us, and I can’t see why they’d keep us here.”
Merry points to Pippin, who starts singing, “Yes, I think you’re right, Frodo. But now that there are four of us, we’ve got a better chance of escaping. I just hope Pippin can come up with an idea soon.”
Pippin points to Frodo. “I’m working on it, but it’s a bit hard with the singing. Still, it’s necessary.”
Sam points to Merry. “Hang on a minute. Pippin? Why are we all relying on Pippin to get us out all of a sudden? I mean, no offence, Pip, but you’re not exactly known for your genius, are you?”
Merry looks at Pippin. Pippin looks at Merry, then at Frodo and Sam. “There’s something I haven’t told you. Long ago I…Is a mug of beer inside this Took!…realised that the most dangerous kind of person is the one people underestimate. I really only pretend to be foolish so that people won’t suspect how much I can really do.”
Frodo snorts derisively, pointing at Sam. “So you’re telling us that you’ve just been pretending to be an idiot all these years? Come on, Pippin, be realistic here.”
“See? That’s exactly what I mean,” says Pippin, “You underestimate me! But what if I were to tell you I know about that specially-hobbit-sized cardboard cut-out you have of Galadriel?”
Frodo stares at Pippin in mingled horror and disbelief, rapidly turning red. “But…but…no one knows about that. I keep it safely locked up when visitors come!”
Sam points at Frodo. “But what about Gimli then? You mean you meant to kill him, too!?!”
Pippin bows his head. “No one regrets more than…Is a mug of beer inside this Took!…I what happened to Gimli. Unfortunately, in my efforts to appear foolish in front of everyone I actually did something foolish. I had no idea the spell would work.” Merry pats Pippin on the shoulder sympathetically.
“Er…Mr. Frodo?” says Sam suddenly.
Frodo points at Pippin. “What is it, Sam?”
“I…er…I need to go.”
“Go? You can’t go anywhere Sam. In case you hadn’t noticed we’re being imprisoned against our will?”
“No, I need to go.”
“Oh!” says Frodo, suddenly looking highly worried.
Merry points at Frodo, “It’s ok, Sam, there’s a bucket in the corner.”
Suddenly Pippin, who has been looking melancholy looks up, excitement dawning on his face. “I’ve got it!” he cries, “I’ve got an idea!”
“What is it?” asks Merry. “What’s your idea?”
“Come closer,” says Pippin, “And I’ll tell you.”
Episode Twenty-One: The Hobbit Army
Rated HIRRUWOL for Huge Inter-textual References and Repeated Use of the Words Oompa Loompa
Deep in the valley of the land of chocolate, nestled between the Christmas trees, sits the famous but remote Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and the home of the Oompa Loompas. The Oompa Loompas are hard and loyal workers, seemingly harmless. By looking at them it would be hard to imagine that they could have a deadly enemy, they don’t look worth the trouble. But the Oompa Loompas for centuries now have been mistaken by visitors to the Chocolate Factory as hobbits, and the word has spread around Middle Earth that little hobbits in overalls with orange faces and green hair have been working for Willy Wonka.
The hobbits, known previously as simple, pastoral, but generally unmockable folk were soon brought to ridicule and slander, their already not-very-noble-name dragged through the dirt. Offensive hobbit jokes were soon heard in the Inn at Bree, and these jokes were spread by the travellers all over Middle Earth. Before the hobbits had time to put their hands up and say, “No! You’ve got it wrong!” the damage was done. Those seemingly peaceful hobbits are vicious when roused, and roused they were and are.
And so, one evening at the factory, when one Oompa Loompa happens to glance out the window, it is smaller wonder that he becomes terrified out of his wits. He begins to scream the high-pitched scream of panic. “The hobbits are coming! The hobbits are coming!” All verses of ‘Oompa Loompa Loompeti Doo!’ are immediately silenced as every Oompa Loompa within hearing range rushes as one to the windows, then turns as one and runs screaming in the opposite direction.
Soon the entire factory is in chaos and havoc as the alarm is spread around the entire building. Oompa Loompas are running in all directions, trying to escape out the back way. Pots of boiling chocolate are left unattended, barrels of sweets are knocked over and spilled all over the floor, making it highly difficult for any Oompa Loompa to run anywhere and soon the ground is covered with tripped Oompa Loompas being trampled by more Oompa Loompas too panicked to help them.
In all this chaos only one person remains calm. Willy Wonka, having heard the panicked cries of his dedicated workers, strides towards the nearest window and looks out into the darkening valley. What he sees is an army of hobbits, hundreds upon hundreds of them charging down upon the factory driven by centuries-old fury. They are carrying pitch-forks. They are carrying flaming torches. They mean business. It doesn’t look good for the Oompa Loompas.
Then suddenly out of nowhere three figures spring from behind some trees right out into the hobbit army’s path. The hobbit army looks surprised by keeps running nevertheless, although slightly more slowly until the one leading the charge, a Took by the look of him, reaches the three figures and halts. Three strange companions they appear to be. One is dressed entirely in white, with white hair, beard and staff. Despite his age he holds himself proudly and there is an aura of power about him even at this distance which marks him as a wizard.
The second companion is dark-haired and ragged in appearance but holds a sturdy-looking sword with practiced ease and doesn’t look the type of person it is safe to cross. The third, judging by his long blonde hair, bow, quiver, tights and jerkin, is clearly an elf. The three stand in conversation with the leader of the hobbit army for several long minutes. The wizard appears to be very angry, gesticulating wildly and forcefully, and directing more than a few rather rude signs at the hobbits in general, who do not appear to appreciate this.
The man appears to be trying to reason with the hobbits more calmly but equally as forcefully, his gestures restrained but persuasive, whilst the elf seems disinterested in the entire affair, putting on a show of interest but his mind clearly on other things. After quite a while some agreement seems to be reached. The hobbit army begins to move again however not in the direction of the factory. They separate into small close groups and huddle on the ground in circles, clearly working on something. Then one by one, the groups stand up, gather branches from the nearby trees and a hundred banners are raised towards the chocolate factory, all with the same message painted in red. “We’ll be back.”
Then, the three strange visitors and the hobbit chief leading the charge, the army turns miraculously and charges off back up the hill and out of sight. A very close call for the Oompa Loompas.
Episode Twenty-Two: The Great Escape
Rated SY for Some Yuckiness
Three Spammers sit in the small guardroom on the dungeon corridor of the Spammer/Hacker Headquarters and grind their teeth. It is the fifth day since the first two hobbits arrived in the dungeon and no one in the facility, prisoner or otherwise has been able to get a moment’s peace since. Even after the threat of fire, death and torture in the Dark Tower the hobbits continue to sing that damn song, over and over and over and over again. The Spammers had hoped that with the introduction of the two new hobbits the singing ones might be distracted or maybe persuaded to shut up, but no such luck. After a brief lull no doubt in which the hobbits had exchanged greetings the singing had started up again and now, a full day after the second admission of hobbits, the singing was still going.
The three guards have had enough. After many reports to their seniors about the noise they have been refused permission to kill the hobbits for some unfathomable reason and are in the process of plotting a way to bump them off and make it look like an accident when suddenly, miraculously, the singing stops, replaced by a new and more frightening sound.
“Argh! Sam!!! You’ve spilt the bucket!” The horrified cry carries all the way down the corridor, followed by an acrid stench of bucket-contents.
“Oh no! Oh, I’m sorry, Mr. Frodo, I…”
“It’s a bit late for apologies now, Sam, I…eurgh! I’ve got some on my shoe! Ugh the smells never going to come out! Just look what you’ve done, Sam!”
“Help! Somebody let me out of here!” The sound of banging on a cell door is heard, “Help! There’s nothing above ground to stand on!”
“We’re all going to die! I think I’m suffocating from the smell!” The air is soon full of the sound of hacking coughs. At this the guards have had enough, the two superior guards turn to the third.
“Get down there and clean up their cell will you? And get some air freshener in the corridor while you’re at it.”
Grumbling the third guard shuffles out into the corridor and down towards the sounds of the hobbits distressed bangings, coughings and general not-happy-about-spillage-at-all-ness. Still grumbling the guard fumbles in his pockets for the keys and opens the cell door, feels the pull of hobbit hands around his ankles and before he can so much as cry out, crashes painfully backwards onto the stone floor. With strength surprising for their size the hobbits pull the struggling guard by the feet into their perfectly clean cell and shut the door behind them.
As soon as the door has clanged home Sam rushes forward and seats himself on the face of the guard, muffling his cries for help. After several tense moments the guards flailing limbs grow still and when Sam lifts himself off the Spammer’s face is blue.
“Quick,” whispers Merry. “We haven’t got much time.”
Quickly and methodically the hobbits remove from the guard his keys, his guard hat, his special guard cloak, shirt, and weapons. Frodo takes the guard hat and holds it out to Pippin, “You take it. Me and Sam came here to rescue you two and now we can. There’s only room for two of us under there and it should be you two.”
“No, Frodo,” says Pippin. “You’re immune to their viruses, remember? You volunteered for the quest before Merry and I did. You and Sam go.”
“But, we can’t just leave you here!”
“You have to. Don’t worry, Frodo, we’ll find another way out. You have a chance to achieve our quest! Take it!”
Frodo is looking as though he is going to argue but Merry lays a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry about us, Frodo. Aragorn and Legolas are coming with the hobbit army, remember? Don’t you see it has to be you that goes on?”
“Alright,” says Frodo and solemnly places the guard cap on his head. An agreement reached, the hobbits work fast once more. Slipping the overlarge shirt and cloak over Frodo, Merry and Pippin then help to hoist him up onto Sam’s shoulders and tie up the cloak so that Sam is not visible. Merry and Pippin open the door for Frodo and Sam but Frodo asks Sam to stop. “At least take this,” he says, holding out a knife they retrieved from the accosted guard, “And I’ll leave the door unlocked, alright?”
Merry and Pippin nod.
“It won’t be too long before they realise something funny’s going on. Try and slip off in the confusion.”
“And take care of yourselves!”
“Go!” says Merry to Frodo impatiently. Frodo looks as though he is going to say something else but Sam, gripping Frodo’s ankles firmly, heads off down the corridor and Frodo has no choice but to follow.
“They’ll be alright, Mr. Frodo,” says Sam. Frodo nods. They walk slowly and in silence for several minutes until they reach the end of the corridor and the guardroom. Frodo pulls the cap low over his face, hoping against hope that they will not notice what’s going on.
“There you are!” says one of the guards. “What took you so long?”
“I…er…” says Frodo, putting on a low voice, “I passed out because of the stench.”
The guards snort, “Wimp.”
“And er…now I am going…to…the toilet to…throw up because I feel sick,” says Frodo jerkily. The guards give him a funny look and Frodo pushes down on Sam’s shoulder to signal to get moving. Sam turns away and starts off down another corridor. Frodo breaths a sigh of relief when suddenly there is a voice behind them.
“Hey! Hey, wait!” Sam begins to walk faster but one of the guards is following them. Sam realises it is pointless and turns to face the worst. “The toilet’s that way.”
“Oh, right,” says Frodo, “I knew that.”
Episode Twenty-Three: Balancing Act
Frodo, balanced atop his faithful Sam, makes his way steadily down the corridor in a valiant attempt to breath deeply and calmly and slow his racing heart. Their progress is slow for the two main reasons that it is very hard to walk with someone standing on your shoulders while you are effectively shielded from view of the outside world by a cloak which is also shielding your vision, and by the fact that they don’t know their way around the Headquarters anyway. Although Sam trusts Frodo to tell him where and when to turn this does not help his speed at all.
Up above, navigating, Frodo suspects that the Spam room, the room they are looking for, will be somewhere in the heart of the facility, up higher than the dungeons and so, whenever they see a set of staircases, Frodo orders Sam to go up them, only helping to slow their progress even more, if that is possible. And if this isn’t enough, every time they pass a door they must go through the ritual of trying to find out what is inside. It has taken Frodo and Sam an hour to check every door on the corridor they are currently on and, except to gain a complete and utter contempt for the Spammer’s lack of security, they have achieved nothing.
They reach the end of the corridor and another set of stairs. “Ok, Sam,” says Frodo, “We’re going up the first step now.” Frodo is jolted frighteningly as Sam clumsily steps up onto the first step, “That’s good, and the next one.” There is another jolt, “Ok, now the next..” And so it continues up for ten steps until finally they reach the top.
It is immediately obvious that something about this corridor is different, special. It is wider and more brightly lit, and there are no doors except for one double set at the end, locked and bolted. “I think this is it, Sam!” says Frodo excitedly, “I think this may be the one. Forward!” And Sam obeys, grunting with every step he takes, further and further towards the mysterious door at the end of the corridor whilst Frodo glances nervously behind him. But thankfully, no one is around. Then Frodo falls from Sam with a jolt as Sam cries out in pain. In looking behind, Frodo had not realised how close they were to the door and let Sam walk straight into it.
“Ouch!” says Sam, rubbing his head.
“Oh no!” says Frodo, “Quick where are the keys? We have to get inside before someone sees us!”
Sam fumbles in his pocket and pulls out a large ring of metal keys jangling noisily. Hurriedly they try each key in the lock. Again and again, the keys do not fit until, finally, the last one on the chain slides into the lock with a satisfying click and the door swings open. “If only we’d started from the other side first!” says Sam, but then looking up, falls silent.
They are standing in the entrance to a room lined with computers from wall to wall, and above every terminal a shelf of black, labelled, catalogued and numbered computer disks. Frodo and Sam shut the door quickly and, pulling over a nearby desk, bar it from outside entry. Silently, they look at one another, then back at the computers, pick up a chair each from one of the desks, and begin to destroy them.
It is the most satisfying thing Frodo has ever experienced. Smashing up every single computer in the place responsible for every single Spam email he has ever received. All the stupid, annoying, and downright evil advertisements that have filled his inbox, SMASH, gone. The infuriating, manipulating, deceitful, and never-quitting Spammers, SMASH, gone. Hard disks and circuitry boards litter the floor. Plastic computer casing, little flashing lights, monitors, terminals, cable modems and complicated looking computer-innards all mangled and broken, destroyed, forever useless.
After fifteen minutes or so, all the computers are now in a thousand broken pieces on the floor, and Frodo and Sam turn to each other, grinning with the excitement. Then, grabbing two large garbage bags that just happened to be lying around, they start to sweep all the disks off the shelves and into the plastic bin-liners until every last one is collected.
It is when they are turning to go that they heard footsteps outside and instantly freeze. In an instant, Frodo and Sam have taken shelter under one the desks, for all the good they know it will do. A key turns in the lock and the door pushes against the desk, barring the way. There are sounds of a struggle outside and then, “Hello? Is anyone in there?” Frodo and Sam stay silent. “Hello?! I can’t get in, something’s in the way!” The hobbits remain perfectly still, not even daring to breath. “Who’s in there? Hello?” Whoever is on the outside gives one last final push before giving up, and the sound of footsteps disappear along the corridor outside.
“He’s probably gone for help,” says Frodo. “Come one, we’d better get out of here.”
Taking a bag each, Frodo climbs onto a nearby desk and hoists himself back onto Sam and they resume their disguise, venturing once more out into the corridor and locking the door behind them. They have navigated their way back down the corridor and the stairs and turned in the direction they believe most likely to lead to the exit when more footsteps are heard behind them.
“Hey!” calls a voice, “Hey you! Were you the one in the Spamming Room just before?” Sam walks faster and Frodo does not dare to look back. “Oi! Come back here! I’m talking to you!” Sam attempts to go even faster and then, terribly, horrifyingly, trips on the hem on the Spammer cloak, teeters, totters, tries desperately to keep balance before crashing painfully to the ground. Frodo and Sam struggle out of the great Spammer cloak now acting as a straight-jacket on them and look back to see a real Spammer gaping at them in mingled surprise and alarm. There is only one thing to do.
“Run for it!” cries Frodo to Sam. Sam doesn’t need telling twice, and the two hobbits set off down the corridor, pushing their legs to take them as fast as hobbitly possible. At the hobbits flight, the Spammer behind them seems to return to his senses. “Hobbits!” he yells, “two escaped hobbits in the Spamming Room Corridor!!!”
Episode Twenty-Four: Hot Pursuit
Rated SV & MTTDSBIME for Some Violence & Modern Things That Definitely Shouldn’t Be In Middle Earth
Whilst Frodo and Sam run for their lives many floors above, Merry and Pippin are still sitting in their cell. They had decided that if they attempted to escape and were caught too early, it would raise the alarm that Frodo and Sam were wandering around the Headquarters which would do none of them any good. And so Merry and Pippin have waited no less than five hours to give Frodo and Sam a decent head start before deciding to make a break for it.
Merry turns to Pippin and says, “I think we’ve waited long enough, Pip. Let’s get out of here.”
“Alright, Merry. Carefully now, we mustn’t make a sound. If we’re quiet enough perhaps we can slip past the guardroom unnoticed. We are very short, after all.”
“Too true,” says Merry. With infinite patience Merry and Pippin begin to ease their cell door open, millimetre by painstaking millimetre, careful not to make so much as a squeak. They are opening the door for what seems like hours, though in reality it is only a few minutes, until finally there is a gap large enough for the two to slip through. Then, ever so carefully, they begin to creep down the dungeon corridor. Even a mouse would be impressed by the efforts made by these two hobbits. Bent low, they tiptoe their way along, pausing every now and then to listen for any other noises.
And then the moment comes when they reach the door of the guardroom. It is half open and they can hear two voices coming from inside. Merry turns to Pippin who nods silently and, moving as fast as he will allow himself without making a noise, slips across the opening and presses himself against the wall on the other side of the door, breathing heavily but listening intently. The conversation from inside continues, oblivious to what is happening outside. Pippin gives Merry a thumbs-up who, equally quickly, but carefully scuttles past the open door.
But this time the hobbits are not so lucky, as looking up one of the guards sees a hobbit foot disappearing out of sight outside the door. He lets out a shout and leaps out to find the two hobbits on the brink of making a dash for it. He leaps forward and seizes Pippin by the back of the collar, lifting the struggling hobbit clean off the ground. Merry does the only thing left to do: letting out a great hobbit battle cry he runs forward and launches himself into the air, knocking the surprised guard clean off his feet and drawing the knife given to them by Frodo and in one swift movement silencing the Spammer’s screams.
Merry hands the knife to Pippin, who has already climbed to his feet to face the second guard as he too rushes to apprehend the hobbits, their aggression taking him by surprise the Spammer is caught off guard and soon he, too, falls to the ground to join his companion. Knowing the noise must soon attract someone, Merry and Pippin retreat into the guardroom for a quick council of war.
“Shall we push on?” asks Merry, “Take these guard’s clothes, too, like Frodo and Sam, and try to sneak out?”
“It’ll take too long. We’ve raised the alarm now. What we need is a quick escape,” replies Pippin, brow furrowed in concentration, glancing around the room to look for something that could help them. His gaze falls on a large plastic bin liner full of rubbish and tied at the top in the corner of the room. He glances at Merry and nods towards the bag. “What we need is a disguise that will still allow us to move with relative speed.
Merry looks at the bag Pippin is indicating, “You mean…”
Pippin strides over to the bag, lifts it up and, using the knife, slits open the bottom and lets the rubbish pour out of it, thankfully nothing more than waste paper. “If we hear anyone coming, we squat down, slip this on and keep still. With any luck they’ll think we’re just a bag of rubbish!”
“Brilliant!” says Merry.
“I know,” says Pippin. Grabbing the now empty bag Merry and Pippin head for the door but Merry pauses as his eyes fall on a large can of petrol. Rushing over and grabbing it, he says, “Maybe we can do something useful to the quest while we’re escaping.” And with that, two more hobbits slip out of the dungeon corridor and head out to cause more havoc in the Spammer/Hacker Headquarters.
. . .
Frodo and Sam hurtle blindly down yet another corridor, the pursuit hot on their heels. They have little idea where they are going but with the number of Spammers behind them growing all the time, this issue is secondary to the problem of staying several paces ahead of them. Their lungs are bursting and their hearts feel as though they are trying to leap out of the hobbits’ chests but neither Frodo or Sam dare to slow down or to relinquish their grip on the precious bags of disks for which they are risking their lives.
But however determined they are, there is a limit to how long two hobbits can run flat out and Frodo and Sam are beginning to become dangerously tired. Meanwhile, the Spammers and Hackers behind are gaining on them, and Frodo and Sam know they can’t hold out much longer when suddenly, miraculously sunlight bursts into their faces as they turn another corridor.
“We’re through Sam, we’re through!” cries Frodo, given new speed by this sudden and heartening event. Sam, too, feeling emboldened by the daylight (in actual fact not very bright as this is Mordor light we’re talking about, but seen from the hobbits’ eyes, which have spent a long time underground, it is quite bright) pushes himself to the very limit and so the two hobbits burst forth once more into the poisonous Mordor air.
But it’s not over yet, and without even pausing for breath Frodo and Sam swerve sideways and head for the mountain path. Disheartened by the hobbits’ escape from their dark corridors, the Spammers and Hackers fall back slightly, but the mountain path is steep and Frodo and Sam, already completely worn out are pushed to the point of physical and mental exhaustion. “Quick Sam,” pants Frodo, “Just get around that corner, maybe we can hide from them.”
They reach the corner and throw themselves around and out of sight of the fast pursuing Hackers and Spammers then, with their last remaining strength jump off the mountain path and lie flat, holding their breath on the steep slopes of Mount Doom as their followers run straight past them and continue on up.
“Well,” pants Frodo, “that’s bought us some time at least.”
“Frodo look!” cries Sam, surveying the Mordor scenery and pointing. “Frodo! The hobbit army has come!”
Episode Twenty-Five: The Gathering
A Spammer guard hurries along a narrow passageway that leads to the conference room, where everyone has been ordered to drop what they are doing and come to immediately. The Spammer/Hacker headquarters are in a state of emergency. Two hobbit prisoners have managed not only to escape, but destroy every computer in the Spamming Room, get away with the discs, and evade pursuit. The three guards who were on watch when they got away are now missing and to top it all a massive army that seems to be comprised entirely of hobbits brandishing pitch-forks and flaming torches led by a wizard, an elf and a ranger are heading their way…fast.
In the confusion, the rushing guard barely pauses to notice the lone bag of garbage dumped next to one wall or wonder what on earth it is doing there. In the current situation, rogue garbage bags are hardly his highest priority. He rounds into another corridor and hurries off towards the conference room. From inside the innocent-looking garbage bag a voice whispers, “Merry, I think it’s safe now.”
The garbage bag lifts up to reveal two hobbits crouched beneath it. They look left. They look right. They dash…
Ten minutes later Merry and Pippin emerge into the Mordor-light, blinking and pausing momentarily to rub their eyes before running and taking cover behind a nearby boulder. “We’re out! We’re safe!” cries Pippin.
“And now to do some real damage,” says Merry, holding up the salvaged can of petrol, his eyes gleaming. Pippin grins back at Merry, and silently nods his head. They set to work.
. . .
Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas and Paladin march at the head of the hobbit army, proud and majestic, their goal in sight. “We should stop soon,” says Gandalf, “Line up our ranks and prepare to charge.” Paladin nods and turns to the hobbit army, calling for them to halt. The army obeys, thirst for battle hanging in the air like a thunderstorm waiting to break. Aragorn, Heir of Gondor, faces the hobbit army feeling that, as the relative of the Kings of Gondor and Numenor, he should probably think of some words to say to this assembled army, heading into battle.
“Hobbits of the Shire!” he calls, “The object of our quest is nigh! Under sun and moon we have marched to this, the stronghold of our enemies. We come to defeat them and bring an end to the evil of Spam e-mails and computer viruses separate and united, and defeat them we will! We outnumber them, we are better armed than them, and we are on the side of right! My noble hobbits, prepare to bring an end to the ‘ultimate’ evil!”
The hobbit army stands and looks rather confused. Paladin steps over to Aragorn, who is looking disappointed. “Nice try, big guy. Allow me,” says Paladin. Turning back to the hobbit army he stands silent for several moments, nodding his head as he surveys them with pride. Then, gripping his pitch-fork firmly in his right hand he thrusts it into the air and cries, “BURN THE SPAMMERS!” The hobbit army cheers with an almighty uproar that is heard in every corner of Mordor from the city of Minas Morgul to the Dark Tower of Barad-dur, “BURN THE SPAMMERS!!!” Paladin waves his arms back and forth, conducting the hobbit army in a chant of, “Burn the Spammers, burn the Spammers!” And then raises his hand for silence.
Turning his back on the hobbit army he faces the entrance to the Spammer/Hacker Headquarters and calls in a voice extremely loud considering his size, “Come out! Come out, you spreaders of Spam e-mail, and face your doom!” Then, still facing the Headquarter entrance, he silently thrusts his pitch-fork in the air and behind him the hobbit army follow suit. Then they stand, and they wait.
. . .
Up on the slopes of Mount Doom Frodo and Sam watch this awe-inspiring spectacle of their fellow hobbits with pride whilst they catch their breath.
“Sure does make you proud to be a hobbit,” says Sam after a few moments.
“Yeah,” breathes Frodo, looking down and spotting many faces he recognises. After a moment though he snaps out of it. “Come on Sam. We’ve got to keep going.”
“Yes,” says Sam, “But…how? We’re behind the Spammers now.”
“Hmm,” says Frodo. “This path we’re on now, it winds horizontally up the mountain right?”
“Well, if they think they’re still following us, they’re going to keep running round and round and round up the path, taking forever to reach the top. Meanwhile, if we climb vertically right up, cutting right across the path, we’ll have much less way to go than them and should arrive first.”
“Assuming we don’t fall off the side of the mountain.” says Sam sceptically.
“Right!” says Frodo, then, “oh, I see your point…Hmm…”
“Well,” says Sam, “I can’t really think of a better idea so, how about we just take our chances?”
“Good thinking Sam!” says Frodo. They turn away from the waiting army as one and, looking upwards, begin to climb towards the end of their quest.
Episode Twenty-Six: Burn the Spammers
Rated MTTDSNBIME for Modern Things That Definitely Should Not Be In Middle Earth
Inside the Spammer/Hacker Headquarters an army of their own is gathering. Paladin’s summons did not go unheard, nor will it go unanswered. On the brink of defeat, with all the Spam and their viruses gone, they will not go down without a fight and, contrary to what Aragorn told the hobbit army, they have weapons…dangerous weapons. Brought from the world in which Spam originated, this army has long metal tubes that shoot bullets. They call them guns. Right now they are loading these guns, preparing to charge the unsuspecting hobbits with these deathly machines.
The leader of the Spammer army turns to face his men, but instead of addressing them with a long and awe-inspiring speech he utters three words only: “Give ’em hell!” The Spammers with guns nod silently then turn to face the exit and the hobbit army. The leader loads his weapon, raises his hand and cries “Charge!!!” The Spammers pour from the Headquarters and pelt towards their opponents, not yet near enough to start shooting. The moment they appear the hobbit army renews its chant of, “Burn the Spammers! Burn the Spammers!” Not yet knowing the danger they are in.
The Spammers run, faster and faster across the plains of Mordor, moving ever closer into the firing range, and still the hobbits chant. Closer and closer, louder and louder the two opposing armies prepare for the conflict. The Spammers’ eyes light up as they see the firing range approaching, just a little further now. “Burn the Spammers! Burn the Spammers! BURN THE SPAMMERS!” cry the hobbits and then, as if by magic, a petrol-fueled wall of flame leaps up before the Spammer army scorching the eyebrows of those in the front line. The Spammers cry out in dismay and jump backwards. Behind the flames come triumphant cries of, “Burn the Spammers!!!”
The Spammers look around, confused and then, looking back watch in horror as the entrance to their all-important Spammer/Hacker Headquarters too spring to life with flames. They are trapped. It is over. And every hobbit in the hobbit army simultaneously reaches the conclusion that, if you chant something for long enough, and loud enough, it will come true. Leaping, whooping, cheering, chanting, brandishing their pitch-forks and flaming torches the hobbits begin to celebrate their early victory.
And then suddenly, in the middle of the celebrations Merry and Pippin leap up cheering from behind their strategic boulder and run over to meet the army. “We did it! We did it! We did it! GANDY!!!” cries Pippin, catching sight of Gandalf for the first time. The wizard stiffens and turns slowly but dangerously towards Pippin who suddenly looks rather worried. As Pippin backs away slowly Gandalf lets out a roar of pure frustration, “MY NAME…” he cries, “IS NOT GANDY!!!” Gandalf turns away in disgust.
Merry and Pippin turn to Aragorn and Paladin who are both standing, beaming at them, “Was that you?” asks Aragorn.
Merry and Pippin nod. “Well done, son!” says Paladin, “You finally burnt the Spammers!!!”
But Pippin is no longer looking at his father, but instead at Legolas, who is standing at the edge of the army, eyeing him with an intensity that Pippin does not at all like the look of.
“Merry…” Pippin says slowly, then, “Merry! Oh my gosh, he’s stringing his bow, Merry! Merry!!! He’s aiming at me! He’s shooting at me! Merry, he’s going to kill me! Merry…”
“Got it!” says Merry, reaching out an arm and snatching the arrow Legolas has just released from his bow milliseconds before it embeds itself in Pippins face. Pippin breathes a sigh of relief as Legolas makes a rude sign with his finger at Merry before turning away, his desire for revenge slowly brewing away.
“Merry, Pippin,” says Aragorn, turning back to them, “tell me what’s been happening, where are Frodo and Sam?”
Gandalf, deciding he can save his sulking for later comes over to join the important conversation. “We’re not entirely sure,” says Pippin. “We helped them escape five hours before us. They were going to try and destroy all the Spammer/Hacker computers and disks like we planned. They seem to have achieved something because the whole place was in uproar, that’s mainly why we were able to get out. We heard someone say there was a band of Spammers pursuing them up the mountain.”
“Then they have the discs? They are going up Mount Doom to destroy them?”
“Yes! But there’s only two of them, and there are so many Spammers after them! We have to help them!”
Silently, Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Gandalf and Paladin turn to look up at Mount Doom where somewhere, Frodo and Sam are struggling to achieve their quest.
“I’m afraid this time, we’ll just have to wait,” says Gandalf.
Episode Twenty-Seven: Journey’s End
“MY NAME…IS NOT GANDY!!!” The scream of rage reverberates around Mordor, bouncing of the slopes of Mount Doom and back towards the Mountains of Shadow. Half way up the face of the mountain, Frodo looks up in astonishment.
“Is that who I think it is?” cries Frodo.
“It’s Gandalf! He’s here! He’s alive! And so is Pippin!” Sam exclaims, just beneath him.
“Yes! This is wonderful! Sam, you know, I think everything might be alright!”
“Yeah, as long as we make it up this mountain before those Spammers spot us!”
“Yes…” says Frodo, his mind coming back to the task. “Yes, we’re halfway there though. Keep going Sam, we can make it!” Frodo and Sam continue climb. The mountain is harsh and the jagged rock scrapes their palms and tears at their fingernails. Fists bloody and raw, the two hobbits ascend the mountain in silence, apart from the occasional grunt in sustaining a particularly nasty cut or in pulling themselves over a particularly large jut in the rock.
Time passes. Below the hobbit army waits in silence. The Spammers with guns face the inevitable and concentrate on getting themselves out of the blaze. In the Headquarters carved into the roots on the mountain below, the dwarf, whose head Gimli smashed a computer on, who came all the way from his homeland to Bree, and then the Mordor seeking revenge, sits in silence, downing his last glass of ale as the poisonous smoke curls thickly beneath the doorway to his room. Eowyn and Faramir are wedded in secret under the blue open skies of Rohan.
Time passes. In Lothlorien, Galadriel sits tensely in her golden throne, her elven perceptions telling her that something big is very close to happening. Barliman Butterbur gets a strange feeling that those hobbits that flooded Bree a few weeks back are up to something, though he can’t think what. The spirit of Gimli works in silence in a ghostly hall, forging his friendship bracelet for Legolas. The Oompa Loompas of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory work tensely, expecting at any moment that frightening hobbit army to burst back over the hill and destroy them.
Time passes. Frodo looks up, the summit of the mountain has drawn nearer. “Nearly there, Sam,” he calls back softly. Sam only manages a grunt in reply as he is busy hauling himself up the Mountain of Fire. Suddenly, Frodo extends his hand onto what appears to be another ledge, hoists himself up and finds himself standing at the end of the mountain path, in the entrance of a passage cut into the mountain, and, not too far in, at the end of the passage leaping flames are visible.
“Sam!” Frodo cries excitedly, “Sam! We’re here! We’re here!”
Sam pulls himself up onto the path and lets out a gasp. “Mr. Frodo!”
“I know Sam! We’re finally at the end!”
“No…Mr. Frodo! Behind you!!!” Frodo turns just in time to see the party of Spammers who pursued them to the mountain foot grab him roughly by the shoulders and hold him in a firm grip. Sam cries out but before he can so much as draw his sword he, too, is restrained. The hobbits struggle futilely as the leader of their followers steps forward to face them, smiling cruelly.
“It is over,” he says. Sam looks as though he is on the point of tears, to come so close to their goal only to be foiled at the very last moment. But Frodo is not looking at their captors, instead trying desperately to get Sam’s attention. Waving as furiously as he will allow himself in the circumstances, he catches Sam’s eye and jerks his head towards the Fires of Mount Doom.
He moves the hand still clutching his precious bag of disks slightly and mouths, “On the count of three.” Sam looks at him for a moment, then ever so slightly nods his head, signaling that he has understood the message. Frodo moves his hand, extending one finger. Sam tenses, ready to move. Frodo extends his second finger, Sam plants his feet firmly on the ground…
“THREE!!!” cries Frodo. As one, taking the Spammers by surprise Frodo and Sam put all their weight into their right arms and heave them into the air, tossing the bags of disks with all their might towards the flames. Time seems to slow down as the two black bin-liners full to bursting of all the Spam e-mails and viruses on Middle Earth fly through the air, closer and closer towards the Fires of Mount Doom and then…
They land, inches from the edge of the platform and the flames that would destroy them forever. Sam lets out a cry of anguish and Frodo falls to his knees. Then, suddenly, impossibly, out of thin air appears Gollum. Laughing manically and shaking his fist at the amazed Spammers he lifts his foot and boots the two bags like a soccer ball into the mountain where they disappear in a surge of flames, before Gollum, too, as quickly as he arrived, disappears in a puff of smoke.
Frodo and Sam look at each other. “What the…?”
Episode Twenty-Eight: The Eye of Sauron
The hobbit army stand tense and expectant upon the battle plain of Mordor, every face turned towards the mountaintop where two of their comrades are battling against all odds to rid the world of a terrible evil. As every breath is held, several hobbits turn purple in the face and the silence is punctuated with faint thuds as hobbits who are just too nervous fall to the ground from lack of oxygen. When fingernails digging painfully into palms begin to draw blood, suddenly, at the pinnacle of Mount Doom two small figures emerge. The watching army collectively draw their breath. The two figures, hands clasped, raise their arms in victory. A tumultuous roar erupts from the hobbit army, filling all of Mordor with the sound of joy.
Jumping up and down with glee the hobbits wave their arms and their heads, and their pitch-forks and their flaming torches as the world sees the end of Spam forever. Merry and Pippin in their excitement link arms and begin to skip in circles alternately clockwise and then anti-clockwise, inventing a dance move that shall later be known as the ‘Docey Doe’ or the ‘Merry and Pippin’ to be more accurate (which, unfortunately, most people are not) and soon all the hobbit army is mimicking them, still cheering wildly. And high atop the slopes of Mount Doom, Frodo and Sam, too, begin to dance the Merry and Pippin as their Spammer pursuers watch on morosely, defeated.
Up upon the Dark Tower of Barad-dur Sauron watches all this celebration with mingled happiness (at the end of Spam and viruses) and fury (at all the Merry and Pippining). And when, in the spirit of the moment, even Aragorn and Gandalf join, somewhat self-conscious, in with the celebrations, Sauron decides she has had enough. “Alright, alright,” she calls with her disembodied voice. “You’ve won your war. Now get out of my sight, you evil little hobbits.”
A deadly silence falls amongst the hobbit army and Paladin strides forward, bristling with fury. “What did you just call us!?!”
“What, the evil or the little?” asks Sauron.
“We hobbits,” yells Paladin, “Are NOT evil! Take that back!”
“Oh, so it’s the evil part you don’t like, huh?”
“TAKE IT BACK!!!”
“Hmm…” says Sauron, “no, I don’t think I will, thanks.”
There is an outcry amongst the hobbits, who begin waving their implements already described many, many times murderously.
“WE ARE NOT EVIL!!!” thunders Paladin.
“Oh, yes you are, you evil little midgets!” cries Sauron from atop her high tower.
Infuriated Paladin turns to the hobbit army who are clenching their fists and gnashing their teeth and cries, “Burn the Dark Lord!”
“BURN THE DARK LORD!!!” repeat the army.
“CHARGE!!!” cries Paladin. And with that, every single hobbit in the hobbit army charges towards Barad-dur screaming in inexpressible fury.
“Hehe! Haha! You can’t get me!” calls Sauron from the top of the tower. “You’re all the way down there and I’m all the way up…Oh…” Sauron pauses, taken aback as the hobbits reach the tower and in their determination to seek revenge for the name-calling begin to swarm straight up the tower, thrusting a flaming torch in the face of any orc unlucky enough to pop his head and to see what all the fuss is about.
“Oi!” says Sauron, “I’ll have none of this! Get off my tower! Get off it, you evil hobbits!” But this comment only serves to enrage the hobbits further and make them climb all the faster. And then, the first of them begin to reach the top. Hoisting themselves onto the roof of the tower they raise their pitch-forks and begin to start poking the Eye of Sauron with almighty upward thrusts.
“Argh!” cries Sauron, “Mind the iris! No! No, get off! Get off!!! Ouch! Eeesh!” More hobbits reach the top and Sauron’s protests become less and less distinguishable as actual words. “Ieeeshhhharghhhoooooogerrroffffffoooooowwwwwwwoooochy!!!” And with that the Eye of Sauron lifts up from the tower of Barad-dur like a giant helium balloon and begins slowly to float away from the tower, and only the hobbits screams of fury are able to follow. And so the highly eventful day in Mordor in which Spam was defeated forever ends with Sauron floating off into the Mordor-would-be-sunset like a giant blimp advertising Peter Jackson’s latest movie in the sky-line.
. . .
In the Honeymoon suite at Helm’s Deep hotel Eowyn and Faramir sit back on the balcony and relax in the sun. What little guilt they had felt at leaving the Fellowship to whatever fate should choose for them is fast evaporating under the Rohan sun. Faramir sips his cocktail and stirs it thoughtfully for a moment. “I wonder if they’ll succeed. Defeating Spam, I mean.”
“I think they will. They don’t need our help, darling, don’t you worry about it,” replies Eowyn, eyes closed.
“Hmm…you’re right. I won’t then.”
Faramir lies back in his deck chair and looks up at the sky. He jumps up and his cocktail smashes upon the ground. “What’s wrong?” asks Eowyn. Faramir doesn’t answer but merely points at the sky, as the great Flaming Eyeball of Sauron passes noiselessly across the sky above them.
. . .
As the tiny orange dot that is the Eye of Sauron disappears into the horizon Sam sighs a deep sigh and turns to Frodo. “I’m hungry,” he says.
“Yes,” says Frodo. “Let’s go home, Sam. Let’s go home.”
Episode Twenty-Nine: Epilogue
Six months later Frodo Baggins, youthful appearing, innocent, charming, well-to-do hobbit strolls into his study at Bag End and seats himself at his brand-new hobbit computer terminal. He logs into his email account ([email protected]) and finds to his delight that he has many, many new e-mails.
“What’s new?” asks Pippin, turning away from the other computer he has invited himself in to use as Frodo checks his e-mail.
“No Spam, I hope?” asks Merry, from in front of Frodo’s third computer. Sam’s eyes darken at the memory of the evil Spam, seated next to Merry checking out elven holiday destinations.
“Let’s see, let’s see,” says Frodo, scanning down the list of new e-mails. “Hmm…there’s one here from Faramir and Eowyn claiming we ruined their honeymoon…er…oh! Aragorn and Arwen have got back together again; they’ve invited us to their wedding! There’s one here from Galadriel saying…” Frodo clears his throat suddenly turning red, “Hmm, yes well you don’t need to hear about that.” Pippin and Merry smirk at each other whilst Sam looks surprised but disapproving, “An e-mail from Barliman Butterbur,” Frodo continues pretending nothing happened, “Saying the Prancing Pony did the best business ever when we stayed there and asking us to come again, but give warning first this time. One from Gandalf congratulating us on our victory against the Oompa Loompas and asking if the hobbit army has a vacancy in the schedule to help him out with some Oliphaunts down south..”
Pippin snorts, “I doubt he’d be able to afford us anymore, father’s just increased everyone’s wages by 20% plus the initial hiring fee which goes towards the Better Shire Gardens Scheme. You know, I never really thought the Shire would do so well out of hiring our army out to people! But the farmers are really starting to benefit from the extra cash!”
“Yeah, and it gives us middle class something to do now as well,” says Merry who has recently been appointed Commander of his own division.
“Anything else, Mr. Frodo?” asks Sam.
“Well, there’s one here from Legolas saying he’s decided to forgive you for killing Gimli, Pippin, but you and all your family are banned from Mirkwood and the Lonely Mountain for the next seventeen generations or he’ll decide to seek his revenge after all…” Pippin looks rather uncomfortable, “And one here from Sauron. We’re also banned from Mordor under pain of death, but that’s it!”
“So, no Spam?” asks Merry.
“Not a trace!” says Frodo, delightedly.
“Super,” says Merry, leaning back in his chair as they begin to discuss creating an official website for the hobbit army.