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The Quest for the Dumbo-themed, Mandarin Orange with Plum Polka Dots Umbrella... Mwahahaa!! - by ReBelPKx2

Prologue (in a sinister, dark voice)
Narrator of a sort:

The earth is changing- I feel it under my umbrella. Tut tut; it looks like rain. Oh wait. Wrong story. I hate prologues, don’t you? Oh well. Anyway…

The umbrella market is not what it used to be. *cue dramatic music and title... "The Quest for the Dumbo-Themed Mandarin Orange with Plum Polka Dots Umbrella"

There were those who were skilled at the making of umbrellas. Elves, Men, and Dwarves all played a part in the Umbrellas of Joy. Little did they know that these aforesaid Umbrellas would lead to.... bad things.

One maker of the Umbrellas, Mister Who (gasp!), spent his time at Umbrella Makers Anonymous meetings sitting in the corner, murmuring dark languages of power to himself. You would have thought that this would give the others a clue, but no. The Umbrellas of Supposed Joy were so supposedly Joyous that the Makers were blinded in their supposed Joy.

When the demand for Joyful Umbrellas went down, the Makers were forced to resort to offering them up as prizes for a winning ring in Cracker Jack boxes; there were rings sent out in one out of six boxes. One, and only one of those rings said, in Pig Latin, YOU ARE A WINNER; CALL U.M.A. TO COLLECT YOUR PRIZE. The folly of this was known to none but Mister Who. For these Umbrellas were not only Umbrellas of Joy, but Power. If a person of ordinary sort were to obtain an Umbrella... bad things could happen.

So, Mister Who took over the Umbrella Makers Anonymous, brainwashing the rest of the Makers into drooling, blank-faced minions besieged by his will. He destroyed all of the Umbrellas save one- a Dumbo-themed, mandarin orange with plum polka dots umbrella. Three other Black Umbrellas of Death were reserved for a special sect of his slaves; however, that belongs to a later part in the story.

The millions of rings sent out in Cracker Jack boxes, however, were lost forever. There was no way to track them down. Not knowing the importance of such rings or umbrellas, most purchasers of Cracker Jacks simply ate the substance and threw away the rings. Therefore, things that should not have been lost... were.

*End of prologue, *cue dramatic yet slightly happier (why?) music.*

Chapter One- The Lack of Party.
Hobbiton, Shire
Cue Dim-Witted Creature Music)

The camera pans in on… an umbrella!! Oh. Wait. It’s just a parasol. Never mind. *screen goes black*

Opening into a field dotted with field-type flowers, there is a hobbit-type creature skipping through the grass, happily singing hobbit nonsense songs. The background music amplifies the entire oblivious and happy mood of the entire scene- tall grass, sheep in the distance, and a very happy hobbit. Until…

SMACK… The hobbit has crossed the field and was approaching the road, when to his complete surprise, he ran into a very large wagon. He was just so completely obliviously happy he didn’t notice it. (NOTE: foreshadowing and flashback at the same time- this is one of the many powers of the Umbrellas of Joy in the hands of a sinister and evil force like Mister Who! Mwahahaaa!!)

A large face, nearly hidden by an equally large hat from Disney World, with Goofy ears on the sides and the Goofy face on front on its head, glanced over the side of the wagon.

"Oh- it’s just you, Frodo. I was worried that I might have hurt a small helpless woodland creature of some sort. Thank goodness it’s only a dim-witted hobbit." The face, which actually belonged to a wizard by the name of Gandalf, chuckled and disappeared back on the other side of the wagon. Frodo heard a slap of reins, and the wagon creaked and moved on its merry way.

Finally able to stand up after about two hours, Frodo walked down the road to his hobbit-hole. The sun was setting, and as he neared Bag End, he saw that smoke was rising out of the short chimney.

When he closed the door, he yelled, "Uncle Bilbo! I’m back!" and walked into the kitchen. To his profound confusion, he saw not Bilbo, but Gandalf. Having forgotten the earlier event of the day, he greeted the wizard cheerily by jumping into his arms... The wizard pushed him to the floor and took a giant swig of some liquid out of a glass on the table. Frodo jumped up, brushed himself off, and sat down. "Where’s Bilbo? I thought he was around here somewhere!"

"Bilbo has gone away... He didn’t like you very much and he is quite tired with having to take care of you, you miserable delinquent. I don’t blame him at all for leaving- in fact, I’m quite surprised he was able to put up with you all these years. The only reason he took you in in the first place-"

"What?? He’s not here? But then we have no excuse to have a party! We can’t have a party if he’s not here!!" Frodo jumped up, thoroughly agitated. "Bring him back, Gandalf! Please him back!!! I WANT A PARTY!! "Frodo screamed and cried and threw a general tantrum until Gandalf slapped him. He kept crying, now on the floor.

*cue music... "It’s not my party but I’ll cry if I want to..."*

Chapter Two: Oh what a cute keepsake! A ring!
Bag End, Hobbiton, the Shire

The next morning, Frodo woke up. He was a little dazed, and his head was in horrible pain, but otherwise he was all right. He realized that he was in a closet. Being the happy (if dimwitted) little hobbit he was, he started to compose a Closet Ditty.

(to the tune of "Up on the Rooftop)




Frodo was interrupted by a rather grumpy Gandalf. "Oh Gandalf! Hello! I woke up in this closet but I don’t know why! Can you help me out?"

Gandalf thought a moment, then made a wise decision, as wizards always do. "No, Frodo... erm... you see, being shut up for a while will be good for you! Besides, I must finish my breakfast."

Being an unsuspecting and naive hobbit, and not having the good sense to know when others (particularly wizards) were taking advantage of him, Frodo grinned and replied, "Oh all right! That’s just fine!" Then he lapsed into a daydream of hobbitness..."Dumm dee dum.. What’s this? An envelope in the closet? Hmm... Hey look! It says ’To Frodo’ on it! A present for ME! I just love presents!"

Gandalf rolled his eyes at this over-perky representation of hobbits. Frodo opened the envelope. "A ring! A gold ring! Just like the Cracker Jack ones they used to have! Hehee! I like rings. I bet it’s REALLY valuable." He went on in this sort of idiotic monologue, chuckling to himself over his fantastic luck.

Suddenly the door opened and the light shot into Frodo’s eyes. He was yanked from the stool he had been sitting on and was being shaken by Gandalf, who was thunderously yelling, "What’s that? A RING?! Bring it here, boy!" Gandalf dragged Frodo into the living room and picked him up to throw him in the fire, but Frodo screamed at the last minute, realizing what Gandalf meant to do. "Oh... I suppose it would be okay just to throw the ring in. The odor of hobbit flambé is unbearable." Gandalf grabbed the ring from Frodo and threw it in the fire. "What are you doing?!" Frodo whined in his obnoxious manner. "It’s MY ring! You’re burning it!!"

Gandalf chose to ignore this pitiful outburst and instead took the ring out of the fire with a pair of tongs and forced it into Frodo’s hand. Frodo screamed and cried as it burned an "O" brand into his palm.

"Oops- sorry! The book said it would be cool by now!" Gandalf muttered, consulting the textbook on his lap, ’101 Ways (Plus a Bonus Whip!)to Hurt Hobbits’. He chuckled, then stood up. "Well- is there anything written, any markings at all on it?"

After tearing the ring out of his flesh, Frodo turned it round in his fingers, still sniffling in pain. "Not really.. wait.. there’s something-- I think it’s a form of Pig Latin. I can’t read it." He handed it to Gandalf.

Having examined the ring, Gandalf swore, chucked the ring back in the fire, and stomped out of the room. Frodo, now thoroughly confused, followed him into the kitchen.

Chapter Three: part A- Why are wizards so damn temperamental?
Kitchen, Bag End, Hobbiton, the Shire

"Uh... Gandalf? Gandalf- are you ok?" questioned Frodo to the sobbing wizard, who, head in his arms, sat at the table.

"GET ME A BRANDY!" roared Gandalf. Frodo rushed off and poured the drink, then slowly approached the wizard with the glass. Gandalf promptly sat up and knocked the glass out of Frodo’s hand onto the floor. Shards of glass went everywhere. "What the- Hey!" cried Frodo, not being overly bright, and also rather sensitive about sharp things being on the floor, which might endanger his hobbity feet. "You’re being really crabby, Gandalf, and I just wanted to say that that’s not nice. You should be nicer, Gandalf, especially to me because I’ve always been nice-"

"For once in your life, STOP the incessant blabbering, Frodo Baggins! You have no idea what this means. For years I’ve been befriending hobbits with rings, hoping that ONE, just ONE of those rings would be the winning ring of the Dumbo-themed Mandarin Orange with Plum Polka Dots Umbrella! With that Umbrella, I could break the overly perky spell that is laid on this world, rendering everyone oblivious to reality and too happy in their ignorance to know what’s going on. With the POWER of that umbrella I could do wondrous things, Frodo Baggins. And your ring is just a dud. Do you know what that ring says in Pig Latin, Frodo? DO YOU?!" here Gandalf shook Frodo and broke off into yet more sobs of rage. Finally able to control himself, he swallowed and went on. "It says, ’Not a winner. Please try again.’ Do you know what it’s like to see that AGAIN AND AGAIN over years and years of patient and meticulous searching?!"

Frodo, who had been trying to look like he was sympathetically interested in the plight of the wizard, but who was really quite absorbed in how the slant of the mid-morning sun’s rays hit the wood of the ceiling, and how the clouds outside could almost spell the word "yay" if you squinted really hard and turned your head to the side, and other irrelevant hobbit things, now shook himself out of a doze and replied, "What’s that now?"

Gandalf sighed and picked up a knife.

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

*dark sinister background chuckling cackle*
and now, dear readers, we shall see the true nature of this wizard’s intent. Is he finally thoroughly fed up with this boisterous hobbit, or is he merely examining the latest cutlery? Hmm.....

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

Chapter Three, part B: Ok, gosh darnit I’ll go on this quest!
Kitchen, Bag End, Hobbiton, the Shire

Frodo, still rather confused (what else is new?), now saw that Gandalf was attempting to slit his own wrists.

"No, Gandalf! It’s just a stupid ring!" So saying, Frodo took a platter off the table and smashed it over the wizard’s head. The knife clattered to the floor. The wizard slumped back in the chair, his expression now as delightfully oblivious as Frodo’s was. "Uh oh," whispered Frodo as he waved his hand in front of Gandalf’s eyes, with no response whatsoever from the wizard.

* * * * * * *

Eventually the wizard stirred and opened his eyes. He saw the ring on the table and sighed. Frodo watched him apprehensively, then whispered, "Look, Gandalf...I’m not that bright, even for a hobbit, so I don’t really comprehend any of this or why it’s so important to you… but, being a perky hobbit, I will try my best to find this ring thingy for you."

Inspired by the hobbit’s kind (if dimwitted) words, Gandalf raised his head and looked at Frodo with tears in his eyes. "Really, Frodo?" he trembled.

Frodo, who had again been looking out the window, his eyes glazed over, came back to reality and said, "What?" The wizard narrowed his eyes. "Oh! Oh yeah the RING-quest. Oh yeah sure whatever, I’ll go, Gandalf," *cue the start of heroic, adventure music, first softly, then swelling grandly*

"I shall face many dangers, toils and snares. I will climb mountains and ford rivers. I will leap over waterfalls and battle beasts larger than myself! I will-"

Frodo was standing on the table by now. *music at full volume* A crowd of hobbits was gathered in the kitchen, hanging on his every word. More looked in through the windows. Frodo had paused, his face beaming.

"Um... well, on second thought, Frodo," suggested Gandalf, glancing around him at the gathered hobbits, "maybe I’d just better go see my respected wizard-type friend; he’ll know what to do. That is, if he isn’t deviously plotting treacherous things against me. I won’t forget the 7th year end-of-term party, you old *******!" wheezing, Gandalf stopped.

Frodo, crestfallen, seemed to deflate (if that was possible for such a chunky hobbit)."Oh... I see... I’m too stupid. I guess *sniff* I just wanted to have some feeling that there was a point to my meaningless life." He went over and sat in the corner. *cue lonely, depressed VIOLIN music*

All the hobbits glared at Gandalf reproachfully.

Repenting, the wizard said, "Oh, all right, Frodo. You can go on the quest." Then he brightened as he thought, hey. One less dim-witted hobbit in the world! Just then, he had another great idea. As Frodo was skipping around, shrieking, "YES! Yes!! I’m NUMBER ONE!!", Gandalf espied yet another dimwitted hobbit: Samwise Gamgee, Frodo’s incredibly slow gardener. Thinking to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, Gandalf said loudly, "And none other than Samwise Gamgee, the cleverest hobbit of them all *cough* (Sam grinned dopily at this) should aid you on this journey!" Sam’s grin quickly disappeared. The rest of the hobbits cheered and sang a farewell song, as hobbits usually do:

(to be sung as obnoxiously as possible)


Amid the cheering and "beering" and general merrymaking, Gandalf, doing the wizard type thing, left a note for Frodo and disappeared.

Having thoroughly forgotten WHY they were celebrating, but welcoming the excuse for a party all the same, as hobbits are wont to do, the hobbits made merry. Rosie came over to Sam and kissed him, making him blush an even brighter red (he was quite drunk). Dancing, singing, and wayyyy too much drinking went far into the night- nay, into the very dawn.

END OF CHAPTER THREE. (finally!!!)

Chapter 4- Ooh ooh!! Company- but why are they all in black?
Bag End, Hobbiton, the Shire

After the guests had finally departed, Frodo and Sam, after a light breakfast of eggs and bacon, sat with their pipes, their feet up at a comfortable height.

"So... what exactly is this quest thing going to involve?" asked Sam in a moment of silence. Frodo looked thoughtfully at his toes (as dimwitted hobbits often do). "Well.." he mused, "I figure we’ll go for a walk down by the Buckleberry ferry, see if we can find a ring lying around, and be back home in time for supper- though of course, we’ll pack second breakfasts, luncheon, and dinner to go."

"Sounds alright," Same answered lazily, "I suppose I’ll go pack-"

Just then, (seeing as this is getting WAY too conventional) there was a horrific BANG BANG BANG at the door. "Won’t you get that, Sam?" said Frodo, his eyes closed.

"Sure thing, Mister Frodo." said Sam, patting the other hobbit on the shoulder as he got up.

Still smiling, he padded down the hallway, making a most obnoxious racket with his large feet. He opened the door to see three dark, looming figures standing on the doorstep. They were holding umbrellas. Not just any umbrellas- BLACK umbrellas. Not just ANY black umbrellas- these were...(knuckle-biting time) the BLACK UMBRELLAS OF DEATH!!!!! *cue sinister music* Sam looked from one umbrella to the next, and, being a bit less dimwitted than Frodo (thank god), screamed, slammed the door, and ran back to the living room.

Frodo, seeing the expression on Sam’s face, sat up and said, "What? What’s wrong?!"

"Mister- mister Frodo we’ve got to go! No time- come on- have to leave" Same gasped, shoving food and things into two bags as he went.

"What? What’s going on? Who’s at the door?" cried Frodo in his usual dimwitted manner. Sam managed, however, to pull Frodo out the back way and down the road. "Shut up!" he snapped. This hurt Frodo, and subdued some of his perkiness.

Still out in front stood the three dark guys, whom, I’m sure you have now guessed, were employees of ... *dramatic music cue* MISTER WHO! That devious, slimy, generally BAD guy (I know for a fact that he doesn’t recycle) had spies everywhere. So, he had heard of Gandalf’s plot.. (oh- and he also got an exclusive videotape of the hobbits’ party to blackmail them with, but THAT’S an entirely different story) and sent in his agents. These dark people were called... Umbrella Wraiths!(Oh no! not the umbrella wraiths!) Anyway, there they sat, waiting for the hobbits to come back. Then, "The Halflings have left!" shrieked Umbrella Wraith #2, or Tom the Wraith for short, who, unfortunately, had spotted the two hobbits running down the lane.

"ACK! Let’s gettum!" they shouted in chorus. They had no horses, so instead of galloping menacingly down the lane, they skipped, singing, "Skip to My Lou" (it was a curse set upon them by Mr. Who for turning in report late one time) Don’t laugh at them- they’ll probably spear you with an...

*gasp* UMBRELLA OF DEATH!!!! *scary timpani music*


*cue chase music*
What? Two hobbits, running down the road, being chased by frightening, negatively inclined folk with no fashion sense, singing Skip to My Lou?! OHHHHHH THE HORROR!!
The hobbits, looking behind at the slowly approaching (remember, they can’t skip all that fast) Umbrella Wraiths, squealed like schoolgirls and ran faster. Up ahead there was an enormous oak tree. Sam pointed at it and wheezed, "There, Frodo, we must climb into the tree!" They kept running.

When they got to the tree, Sam climbed up on the lowest branch, then heaved Frodo up. They scrambled up two more levels of branches and sat there a moment, catching their breath. They stopped and listened. "Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou! Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou! Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou! Skip to my Lou my darling!" was getting closer. Then they saw them; three wraiths under the tree, skipping around it in circles, singing. What were they to do? How could they escape? Would Gandalf come back? Would the wraiths kill them? Should Frodo start shaving his feet? Tune in next chapter to find out, dear readers. Until then, I leave you in suspense, staring at the last page, drooling and managing to look somewhat like Frodo on a slow day...


Chapter 5- Why do hobbits always need someone else to rescue them?
Oak Tree, Shire

When last we left our short, stupid "heroes", they were aloft in a tree, anxiously gazing down at three of the Umbrella Wraiths (Tom, Tim, and Bimbo) who were skipping around the base of the aforesaid tree, singing "Skip to my Lou".

Frodo had nearly wet his pants by now, and was scared out of his wits. Sam, the brighter of the two but still immensely dense (ooh, those two words sound nice together, don’t they? Immensely dense...), was clutching at Frodo and weeping. "Will we live, Frodo? I miss Rosie!" he whimpered.

Suddenly, Frodo had an idea. (OH MY GOSH! An idea? FRODO?! Ha!) Perhaps the Wraiths were only mean because of low self-esteem! Maybe they never got any thanks for all the hard work they did, so they felt driven to cruelty! Thinking these bizarre (not to mention dim-witted) thoughts, he started singing down to them, hoping to raise their self-worth, and thereby save himself and Sam. "I want you to know I know the truth! I would be nothing without youuuuuuu!! Did you ever know that you’re my herooooo? And everything I would like to be? I can fly higher than an eeeeaaaagle, ’cause-"

"No, you can’t!" a low, solemn voice said behind him. Sam and Frodo whirled around (or at least as well as they could, sitting in an oak tree...) to see a large eagle resting on the branch behind them. Looking up, they saw that they were surrounded by eagles. You may ask, ’Well, how come they didn’t see the eagles coming, huh?’ Well, remember, my dear readers, these were VERY dim-witted hobbits.


Frodo, finally able to speak after being shocked by the sight of large birds, not to mention large birds who could talk in authoritive voices, said, "What do you mean, ’no you can’t?"

"What I mean is that you, Frodo Baggins, cannot fly. However, we eagles can. And, knowing your mission, having spoken with Gandalf only yesterday, we have agreed to come find you." Thus speaketh Gwaihir, the Windlord. Frodo and Sam had never read The Hobbit, unfortunately, so this didn’t click for them.

"You’ve spoken with Gandalf?" "Where is he?" "How did you find us?" and other meaningless questions were instantly spouted out by the hobbits. The eagle had to speak sharply to be heard. "There is no time for that! We have to go, NOW! Unless you get to Rivendell as soon as possible, you will both be in greater danger than even I can save you from. Mister WHO knows what is being sought, and knows the intent of the seeking. Come, climb on my back. We fly to Rivendell!"

The Wraiths had stopped singing by now. Actually, they had stopped when Frodo started. They listened rapturously until he was rudely interrupted, at which they booed for about five minutes, then, because they weren’t that bright themselves, went skipping down the road, buzzing their lips to the theme of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Frodo was about to question the eagle again, when, with a look from Sam, he executed his most wise action since the story began- he shut up. The hobbits climbed on the eagle’s back, putting their bags on the back of another eagle, and felt the ground leave them (well, actually they felt that when they got into the tree…) and the wind on their hobbity faces as the eagles soared higher and higher. "To Rivendell!" shouted Frodo, although he had no idea what in Middle Earth that was or where it might be. It just seemed heroic.

Chapter Six- Ahhh… Enter lonely stranger….
The Inn of the Prancing Pony, Bree

"Hey! Can I get another one of these?" hollered the cloaked man at the end of the bar, raising his empty glass (the third in a row). Barliman Butterbur sighed inwardly. He liked customers, and he liked customers who gave him business, but this one was a bit too much. He was cocky, arrogant, and… very cagey. Butterbur wasn’t quite bright enough to be able to handle people who were secretive- he was, after all, nearly the Big Person equivalent of the hobbit, and lord knows THEY aren’t intellectually gifted. I only mean to say they’re not the brightest Silmarils in the gift box, you know?


The customer, no, the STRANGER at the end of the bar wasn’t exactly rude; but he didn’t talk to anyone except to demand more drink. Butterbur sighed again and again, drawing attention to himself- he had been deprived of that as a child, being the last-born. He crossed to the end of the bar and set down the glass, along with an envelope, saying, "This came for you today, Mister Strider sir."

Glancing at Butterbur with a condescending eye, Strider took the envelope without comment and opened it. Sipping his ale, he read:


Strider ate a pancake, thought, "Yummy!" to himself, and read on.


Aragorn, a.k.a. Strider, a.k.a. Elfstone, a.k.a. Dumbo, a.k.a. Me Likes Pancakes, looked up. Three tall, dark figures had thrown open the doors and were walking slowly into the inn with.. what were those.. could they be? Yes! They had the…. *cue frightening, dramatic music* BLACK UMBRELLAS OF DEATH!!!!

... Aragorn ate another pancake.

* * *

The dark figures (whom you enlightened folk have probably guessed are the… Umbrella Wraiths of Negativity!), who had been groaning the tune of "Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen", were suddenly aware of Aragorn’s presence. "Seen any hobbits around here?" growled Wraith #2, or Biff the Wraith.

"No… " Aragorn answered most suspiciously. Anyone who interrupted his pancake- consuming time HAD to be a bad guy in the action film of life. He tossed a few coins on the counter and got up to walk out. Bimbo the Wraith (Wraith # 3) glanced at his face as he passed, then started staring. Aragorn kept going, out the door, as Bimbo said to the other two, "There’s something about that face… don’t we know him? Or maybe his family? I wonder if he was at the Reunion of the 2nd age… "

Bill (Wraith #1) took another drink and started to say, "Nonsense, Bimbo, he’s a complete strang-"

Before he could complete his sentence, Biff stood up and said, "No! Bimbo’s right!! That guy is…. *consulting his list * 3rd on our list of Go-Gettum! He’s right after Gandalf (#1) and any Suspicious Looking Hobbits (#2)! Look, there’s his photo!" The other two bent over, inspecting it. "ACK!! LET"S GETTUM!" they cried in chorus.

*cue chase music*

Aragorn was walking down the road, nibbling at pancakes, with a barrel of ale under his arm, when he heard the faint strains of "Lou, Lou, Skip to My Lou" coming nearer and nearer. He looked back and saw that he was being pursued (although none too quickly; they were still skipping) by the Wraiths who bore the *gasp* BLACK UMBRELLAS OF DEATH! Almost choking on the pancake, turned back around and started running. He espied an old woman leading a donkey a distance down the road. He caught up to her, pushed her in the ditch, and heaved himself up on the donkey most gallantly. Actually, he put his leg over the donkey and sat with his toes dragging on the ground; he was 6’6’’ after all. Nevertheless, he ensued to persuade the donkey to run in the marvelous style of long-limbed steeds. It didn’t work. Charles the donkey was not only old and fat; he was as lazy as a sloth. He did make it up to a trot, however, which was just about enough to outrun the skipping Wraiths.

After three days and three nights of riding Charles, with the Wraiths only just behind him, wielding the Umbrellas, and the song "Lou, Lou, Skip to My Lou" stuck in his head for all eternity, Aragorn finally reached the river. He turned around and half-heartedly chucked a pancake in their general direction, then shrugged, figuring that they couldn’t get him here. They turned around and headed straight back to You Know Who. Charles dropped dead on the shore, so Aragorn alone walked, stumbled, and dragged himself up to the Last Homely House. When the door opened, Gandalf said, "Ah! About time, I should say, Aragorn my boy!" Ignoring Aragorn’s bedraggled appearance and wearied face, and the Oh-no-I’m-being-chased-by-UmbrellaWraiths look in his eyes, Gandalf took the ale, pulled Aragorn in, and shut the door. Aragorn promptly fell down as a result of lack of sleep and nourishment for the past three days, so Gandalf stepped over him and rejoined the party.

Chapter Seven: Rivendell
The Last Homely House

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Hobbits and Elves, Men, Wizards, and Warriors!" Elrond paused."Annnnd Dwarves! We are here tonight to celebrate Gandalf’s 4000th birthday! He is most definitely over the hill, through the woods, and at Grandma’s house, wouldn’t you say, folks? Let’s give this geezer a round of applause!" *hearty applause by Rivendell folk and visitors of all sorts* Handing Gandalf the microphone (engraved with Elvish runes and silver leaves), Elrond sat down.

"Thank you all! This has been one heck of a party, eh? Let’s give a hand for that excellent ale, courtesy of Aragorn! Stand up wherever you are, buddy! *spotlight scans the audience…but no Aragorn- he’s still unconscious in the hall* Er- well, I’m sure he’s here somewhere! Thanks anyway! And a special thank you to whoever sent me the four thousand breath mints! A lovely, if not so subtle, gift! *cough* But seriously, folks… All merry-making and hobbit-type celebrating aside, there is a very serious issue at hand here. Elrond is going gray! *laughter from the audience* Just kidding, ’Rondy…"

This corny speech lasted for about three hours, since Gandalf had had many, many glasses of ale. Usually at these gatherings he was much more reserved and dignified… Well, we all gotta let loose sometime, I suppose.

Whilst this drunken foolishness was going on, Frodo and Sam were dropped (literally) off at the doors of Rivendell. Their constant prattle and dimwitted questions irritated the regal eagles (ooh that sounds nifty! Regal Eagles!) beyond belief, and they were more than glad to drop the hobbits at their destination… from about twenty feet up. Brushing themselves off, the hobbits cheerily waved goodbye to the eagles, who didn’t look back, and knocked on the doors of the Last Homely House.

A silvery-blonde-haired elf opened the door. "Ah," she said knowingly, "it’s Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dummer." The hobbits looked at each other, confused.

"Actually, I’m Samwise Gamgee and this is-" Sam began, but was interrupted.

"I know who you are," the elf replied," but you are truly stupid, are you not?" "Well, I don’t know as that’s quite fair to say," said Frodo, "I mean, I did pass the Cheeriness Finals at Hobbiton High! And Sam here even mastered Intro. To Dozing and Gazing at One’s Toes! Didn’t you, Sam?" The other hobbit nodded resolutely. "So if you don’t mind me saying so, calling us stupid is a bit mean, you know?"

The elf looked from one hobbit to the other and burst out laughing. "Gandalf wasn’t exaggerating a bit! You hobbits really ARE dimwitted and purposeless! Hahaaahaahaa!!"

"I don’t think we quite got the point across," Sam murmured to Frodo as they were led in and down the hallway, sidestepping the guy on the floor with a cape pulled over his head. "Who do you s’pose that is?" asked Sam. "Dunno… a mime maybe?" guessed Frodo.

’They’re here!" called the elf, who’s name they later learned to be Vebelethiel. Opening the doors to the hall where many men, dwarves, and elves sat, with Gandalf still up front doing slapstick, she gently pushed the two hobbits forward. They gazed around the hall in wonder at the beautiful artwork and detailing of the walls, pillars, and ceiling. This place was unlike any of their experiences or dreams. This was Rivendell… (d’oh, you could have guessed that at the chapter title!)

Chapter 8: The Journey Begins… or is hoped to begin… wait- What Journey?!
The Last Homely House

Sipping ale and looking around, Sam and Frodo recognized two familiar faces from their very own Hobbiton- Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took! But what were they doing here?

Getting up from their seats, they made their way over. "Well, bless my dimwitted hobbitness!" said Frodo. "Merry and Pip! What are YOU fellows doing here?"

Before Merry could answer, Gandalf, who had just walked over to the table, said conspiratorially, "Hobbit Secret Service."

Sam looked incredulously at Merry and Pip. "Reeeeallly?" he asked excitedly. He and Frodo looked at each other like little schoolchildren informed of cancelled classes. "Wow- I never knew there was a Hobbit Secret Service!" Frodo gushed.

Merry coughed. Pippin sighed and said, "Well, Frodo, if you had even a quarter of the brains of Merry and I, you would have realized that Secret Services… are secret. It’s called using context clues, o mindless one."

Frodo just kept grinning; he hadn’t really taken in any portion of Pippin’s speech. "Let’s just say this- Merry and Pippin are very, very smart hobbits who happen to be good with a slingshot. They help me out with jobs sometimes, and I thought, being hobbits themselves, they could help you two out a bit," Gandalf said, looking meaningfully at Merry and Pippin. The truth was he had promised them two barrels of ale each if they’d lose the other two, or knock them off themselves if they preferred.

Just then, Elrond got up and said, "Folks, if we could just have your attention please- hey! In back! Yeah, I’m talking! Thank you!" He coughed. "As you all probably know, besides the fact that it is Gandalf’s birthday, we have gathered here to discuss…. *cue dramatic music * the PROBLEM."

He took a drink of water from a glass handed to him by a dwarf.

"Let me lay it out simply for… the hobbits. I’ll try to use small words, o.k., Frodo?" He cued the light-elf, who turned off the lights. A screen came down magically from the ceiling, and a wondrous slideshow ensued. The first was an aerial view of Mount Doom. ’Ooh’s and ’Aah’s expressed the appreciation of the photographer’s talent. "This is a photo of Mount Doom."

"Mount What-sis?" muttered Frodo.

’O.k., we’ll call it ’The Bad Place’", said Elrond. "Anyway. Our sources tell us that this is the hide-out, the headquarters, the hot spot of Mister Who." There were shivers of fear in the audience at the mere mention of that name. Elrond took a special Elf-Laser out of his pocket and started pointing out things on the picture. "Here," he began," is the tower most heavily guarded. This entrance is the most likely to be open, but there might some trouble here…"

Everyone was listening with rapt attention as Elrond went on explaining. Everyone, that is, except Frodo and Sam, who were daydreaming of daffodils, orchids, and lollipops. They came to attention, however, upon hearing their names. "… have been pre-selected to be a part of this mission."

"What?" asked Frodo.

Elrond sighed and rubbed his temples. The hobbits were particularly irritating to his hung over state, and he was losing patience. He was a bit more easy-going than Gandalf, though, so he slowly and loudly explained the last bit.

"We had thought about sending in the Elf Squad, but realized that Elves are too important and we didn’t want to risk losing that many. Then, we thought, hey, maybe the Eagles would do it, but they want nothing more to do with this story, thanks to the hobbits. So, we decided to have a very small group, maybe ten or so, try to sneak in. Applications to be a member of the Umbrellaship need to be in by no later than-" he consulted his notes, "- 10:00 am sharp tomorrow morning, by the way."

"And we’re going on this thing?" said Frodo.

"You will be, yes." Elrond said, catching Gandalf’s eye.

"But, Mister Elrond, sir," interrupted Sam, "I mean, well, this thing looks like it took a lot of planning. Well, that is to say, er, I mean, how did you know that Frodo would do it? He only volunteered to Gandalf a few days ago." (Note: this is one of the most brilliant speeches and observations of a hobbit…ever.)

"Actually, that was all a set-up. We knew that Gandalf had the hearts of the hobbits tied around his staff, so we figured he would be the best guy to go in and convince Frodo to go. Well. That’s about all, folks, so unless anyone else has anything to say," he scanned the audience hopefully, "great! We’re done! The results for the Umbrellaship will be tacked up in the cafeteria at supper tomorrow."

* * * * *

At 3 am in the morning, Aragorn finally woke up. Putting his hand to his head, he blinked a few times and sat up. He pulled out his Pancake Pouch and ate a few, then got up and walked down the hall. He stopped at a table that with a sign above it.


Hmm, though Aragorn, as he munched on his pancake. What could possibly be the upside of this? Then he noticed something written in pen under the first message. ’FREE PANCAKES!!!’ (Gandalf had written this in hopes of getting certain people to come.)

"Yes! I’m all over that!" Aragorn took an application and sat down to fill it out.

When he was done, he put it in the box and started walking around the house. He spotted a large painting in a moonlit corner and walked over to it. It was a beautiful masterpiece depicting a warrior fighting… a very large rabbit. "Hmm…" said Aragorn. Then he recognized the name under the painting. ’The Last Fight of Isildur’, said the plaque. Hey, that’s my great-great-great-great- well, my ancestor, thought Aragorn. He didn’t really like the look of it though- the rabbit was pretty scary and it looked like the Isildur guy was going to fall any moment. Aragorn shuddered and turned away. He found himself face to face with an extremely beautiful elf-lady. She wore a floor-length white dress and had dark, wavy hair. Her skin was like ivory. "Whoa! Who’re you?" he asked. She stared at him with sapphire eyes, intensely gazing into his own. "Why do you fear the past?" she asked. Her voice was calm and smooth, yet powerful like a river. However, she was a bit strange. I mean, women going around at night staring at people asking them questions are perhaps not to be trusted, you know? "Well… they didn’t have instant pancake mix back then," answered Aragorn. "Hey- aren’t you that chick that used to throw mud at me when I lived here as a kid?"

She smiled. "So you do remember me," she said. "Here." She handed him a chain with a charm strung on it. "This will give you aid on your journey." She kissed him on the cheek and walked away down the hall. Aragorn looked at the charm. "It’s a pancake!" he cried. "Wow!" He sat down, turning it round in his fingers.

Gandalf, being the paranoid old man he was, was up walking the halls. Spotting a shadowy figure down the hall, he stealthily crept up to it, his staff ready.

"HiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiYA!" he cried, clubbing Aragorn on the head. Aragorn slumped to the floor, a smile on his face as he obliviously dreamed of… pancakes.

Oh, cripe, thought Gandalf. Just when I needed to talk to him, too! He sighed and took hold of one of Aragorn’s hands (knocking the half-eaten pancake from the clenched fist) and dragged him into the nearest guest room. He heaved him up on the couch, then resumed his hall walking.

The rest of the night was silent except for Frodo murmuring to himself, "There’s no place like home… There’s no place like home!" which woke up Sam, causing him to chuck a shoe at Frodo’s head.

Chapter Nine: Ok, NOW the Journey Begins!
The Last Homely House

"So, d’you think anyone filled out any Umbrellaship forms, Gandalf?" Frodo asked cheerfully. Indeed, he had been peppering the wizard with annoying questions since breakfast started. "Grrrumph!" growled the wizard in reply. "Oh! O.k. I see! Yeah I thought so too! Because…" Frodo trailed off into silence as the wizard glared at him. "Fine then," he muttered to himself," I’ll just eat my mush all by myself. Mean old wizard! Bully!" A few tears dropped into his mush bowl. He sniffed and smacked the mush with the bottom of his spoon. *SPLAT* Some mush had been splattered straight into Gandalf’s eye! "ARGH!" he cried, throwing his spoon at Frodo. "I’m sorry! Gandalf I didn’t mean to hit you in the eye!! I’m really sorry, Gandalf, are you o.k.?" cried Frodo. "JUST LEAVE ME ALONE, CONFOUNDED HOBBIT!" screamed Gandalf. Just then he realized that every single person, elf, dwarf, etc. in the cafeteria was staring at him, in silence. "What are you staring at?!" Gandalf nearly shrieked.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!" He ran out of the cafeteria, his robes billowing out behind him, knocking an innocent dwarf off his chair as he went. Frodo crawled under the table and went back to sleep.

He stayed there until suppertime, when a not-so-expected-but-not-entirely-unexpected visitor arrived- Boromir of Gondor, the son of the Steward of Gondor. Behind him came Legolas Greenleaf of Mirkwood, the elvish prince, and Gimli son of Gloin, the dwarf. Also, Oshgosh the Unknown, Irkmak the Ugly, and Raaaaahhhwiwi the Hopeful arrived that day, all aspiring Umbrellaship-members-to-be.

Waking up to the sound of chairs scraping back and people sitting in them, Frodo got up and sat in his chair. He looked around at his table and saw Sam, Merry, and Pippin at his table. Gandalf, he saw, was at the farthest end of the cafeteria, throwing him dirty looks. He had, in his usual dopey manner, forgotten breakfast, so he waved at the wizard, grinning, then turned back to his table. "So, Frodo, what did you do today?" asked Sam. "Um, nothing much that I can recall," said Frodo. "I seem to have been under the table all day, but I’m not sure why."

Merry elbowed Pippin and they both rolled their eyes. Frodo missed this, and so was about to continue his happy (if meaningless and dimwitted) conversation with Sam, when Elrond threw open the doors and stepped up to the podium. The cafeteria grew quiet. Elrond’s eyes swept across the room. Just as he opened his mouth to speak, the door opened again and another elf, clad in sky-blue robes, bolted up to the podium and whispered urgently in Elrond’s ear, then ran out again. "Ahem," coughed Elrond. "All the applications have been reviewed and read over… and it appears that, including the hobbits, there will indeed be nine members. Chosen to go are: Aragorn son of Arathorn and Boromir of Gondor, representing men, Gimli son of Gloin, for the dwarves," here Elrond looked up quickly, then down again, "Legolas Greenleaf for the elves, and of course the four hobbits, representing the most foolish race in all of Middle Earth. Well, that’s about it. Any questions?" He shuffled his notes. "Oh… yes, that’s only eight. Thank you for pointing that out, Gimli. Ah…" Elrond sniggered a bit. "Representing wizards and wise folks in general will be Gandalf the Grey. Heheh."

"WHAT?!" shouted Gandalf. He ran up to catch Elrond by the elbow as the elf-lord was leaving. "What do you MEAN, I’m stuck on this quest with these idiots?! The deal was that they go, lose the two hobbits on the way, then…"

"There’s been a change of plan, Gandalf," started Elrond.

"Change of plan?! You call this a CHANGE OF PLAN?" Gandalf shrieked. He was foaming at the mouth and spitting. His hair stood up like a madman’s. He paused to pop a few pills and take a couple swigs from a flask beneath his cloak.

"It appears that we don’t have authorization to do away with the hobbits. Technically they’re under protection of Gondor, and if they just disappear we could have serious political problems. We need Gondor’s alliance if we ever have issues with Mister… You know. We can’t afford at this point in time to risk that alliance."

After fuming for another minute, Gandalf said reluctantly, through gritted teeth, "Okay. Still… how is it figured that I have to go?"

"Well," Elrond said, laughing, "that’s actually my doing. I figured they could use your help; and, you could use something to do. Here’s your retirement form back, by the way." He handed the paper to Gandalf and went down the hall to post a notice about an Umbrellaship meeting on the bulletin board. Throwing a last grin at the wizard, who still stood in the same place, the papers clenched in his trembling fist, the ends of his beard crinkling and smoking, he left.

Chapter Ten: I’m giving up on the Journey idea pretty soon here!! Ack!
Last Homely House

In an oh-so-secret meeting room of Rivendell, the nine members of the Umbrellaship, plus Elrond, sat. Frodo and Sam were happy because they had a box of crayons to share and two Bambi coloring books. Aragorn was happy because he had a plate of specially made pancakes with blueberries and whipped cream. He was wolfing them down and giggling to himself every so often. Boromir was pretty happy, too; he had gotten into the wizard’s store of pipe weed. He kept poking Aragorn and asking him if he could see the pretty colors, too, but Aragorn took no notice. Gimli was happy because he had an armor catalogue. "Look at this new style! And it comes in peach, mauve, juicy pear, plum, and evergreen! Wow!" he exclaimed to Legolas, thumbing through the pages. Legolas was happy because he had a picture of himself to look at. "Aww…" he said. "I’m so cute!" Merry and Pippin were happy because they were playing elvish chess- practicing for the next team tournament; they had lost the last one and were determined to win this time.

Gandalf was… not happy. He was eating banana pudding (low fat!) to calm his temper, though. Elrond looked around at the happy (for the most part; Gandalf, sucking pudding from his spoon, was still glaring at the wall moodily) Umbrellaship and said, "Well then! I guess it’s time to begin, isn’t it! Yeah!"

Nine people looked up at him for a split second, and then back down to what they were doing- well, Boromir was kind of looking in all directions at once. Elrond slapped his hand on the table and roared, "HEY! LOOK AT ME! I’M THE CENTER OF ATTENTION RIGHT NOW!!"

Reluctantly they looked at him. "That’s better," he purred. "As you know, Mister Who has an umbrella; a very special umbrella, the-" He paused. "The Dumbo-Themed Mandarin Orange with Plum Polka Dots. What you don’t know- because it is highly classified information and the public was never told- is that there is a certain ring involved which may be able to help us obtain this umbrella."

"Ooh-ooh! I knew that!" cried Frodo, waving his hand in the air. "Shut up, Frodo," said everyone else (except Sam) automatically. He sat back down, biting his lip. "Anyway, this ring will automatically win us that umbrella. Then, Mister Who will no longer have power over Middle Earth. This is, simply put, good."

"Erm, Mmrrhpmh myrpshsmhph. Hrmrpmmhp rrutpmph. Mrumph frumph hrphmrph?"

"Aragorn, SWALLOW the pancake BEFORE you talk, PLEASE!" said Elrond, rubbing his temples.

Aragorn swallowed loudly. "Sorry. I just have a couple questions. Um, if this Mister Who guy is so powerful, won’t he just not care if we show up outside Mount Doom with a ring saying we want the Umbrella back? I mean won’t he just smite us down, then laugh and resume his watching of Nights of Our Souls?"

Elrond and Gandalf looked at each other.

"Also… you said he had this power, over Middle Earth? What kind of power is that?" Aragorn took another bite of the pancake. "I mean, I don’t see any races being repressed or anything…" He looked around. "Am I the ONLY one that’s realized this?" The others had lost interest and resumed their initial activities. Elrond and Gandalf, though, were biting their lips nervously. "O.k., I’ll start with your second question first," Elrond began slowly. "The power he has is that anyone within twenty miles of Mount Doom is overtaken by blind joy. Immediately they obey any and all messages from Mister Who without question. Yes, only a small area is affected right now, but it will soon spread. If we don’t do something to stop this, within time all of Middle Earth will be like these hobbits." Elrond motioned towards Frodo and Sam, who were squabbling over who got to use ’forest green’ first. "Good God," breathed Aragorn.

"But wait," asked Gimli, "he’s had this Umbrella for ages, hasn’t he? So why is it affecting people only now?"

Elrond stared. "Uh… okay that’s another question… Umm. Would you guys mind if we took a teeny-tiny little break for Gandalf and I to talk for a minute?" No one responded; they were absorbed by their activities again. "Didn’t think so," muttered Elrond on the way out.

* * *
When Gandalf and Elrond re-entered the room, Aragorn had finished his pancakes and was tapping his fork on his plate, whistling.

"Well. We’ve just compared notes and made a quick call to Gondor and had someone do a bit of researching. It appears that we have overlooked something. The umbrella can only work when the ring is around the bottom handle. When in the presence of the Umbrella, the ring widens so that it might fit onto the handle. Therefore, all our worrying about the ring is meaningless; Mister Who already has it."

"But the prologue!" began Aragorn.

"Yes, I know… it just seems we were wrong, okay? WRONG!" Elrond burst into sobs. Normally Gandalf would have patted him on the back, but he was still ticked at having to go on this quest.

"Okay, okay. I’m alright." Wiping tears from his eyes, the apparently-not-so-dignified elf lord sat down.

"What this means is that instead of wasting time looking for a ring, you guys are going to go straight to Mount Doom and try to steal it."

"WHAT?" shouted seven people in chorus.

Elrond held up his hand. "I know, I know… it seems impossible, but I think you can do it." Well, I sure hope so, he thought. "You asked, Gimli, why the Dark Guy hasn’t been using the Umbrella already. Well, it seems that the Ring was in possession of another. Saruman. We haven’t told the general public yet, but it seems that Saruman has abandoned us. We thought he was a trusted ally, but the last time Gandalf visited, he caught him playing with a palantir! Mumbled something about just calling up his auntie in somewheres-or-another… Anyway, he’s gone over to the Dark Side, so to speak. Gandalf just barely got away with his life. Gwaihir saved him, and then Gandalf remembered Sam and Frodo, and sent him to fetch them. The bottom line is, Saruman and Mister Who are working together. They have been since last Christmas. I was first suspicious when Saruman was sent a palantir as a present from an anonymous giver. He stayed in his room the rest of the night, putting it together. So, to answer your question, that is why Mister Who hasn’t had as large of an effect as he might have had.

"The rest I leave up to you. Should you succeed, Middle Earth will be saved. If not…" he broke off and they all looked at Frodo and Sam, who were humming and drawing (inside of the lines! Wow!) with their tongues sticking out of their mouths. Would this be the fate Middle Earth was to suffer?

*cue extremely dramatic, oh-no-now-we-have-to-play-hero music*

Chapter Eleven: Tom the Enchanter
On the road
*cue music: "Moving Right Along" with music video featuring Muppets*

The next morning at dawn, the nine started off. Elrond watched from his balcony. As soon as the Aragorn (at the end of the line) disappeared from the end of the valley, he turned in to the room and, clapping his hands together, said, "So! First bids, gentlemen?" to the gathered elf-lords. Most of them were leaning towards ’No, they won’t make it’ but there were a few going for the long shot ’Yeah, they’ll make it’. Elrond collected all the money, smirking.

A few miles out of Rivendell, Gandalf was leading the way, his beard swept back over his shoulder, mumbling to himself in foreign tongues.

"Wait up, Gandalf! *puff puff* Slow down!" cried Sam. He and Frodo were still at the bottom of the large hill being climbed. The rest of the Fellowship rolled their eyes and stopped.

"Uh, where are we heading first?" asked Frodo.

"Yeah, how exactly do we get there, Gandalf?" said Legolas.

Gandalf pulled out a map. "Um… well. We can’t go by Isengard (he crossed off a big section of the map), obviously, because of the two-timing Saruman… Hmm. Well there’s this big mountain, see?" He pointed off into the horizon where the rest could see a huge mountain range.

"Well, which one?" said Gimli.

Gandalf frowned. "The BIG one!" he said finally, pointing off vaguely again.

"Ohh…" said the rest, nodding.

They walked for another hour.

"Wait!" said Legolas. "What about that mountain?"

"Oh. Well, we either have to go up it or through it. I think. Yeah. That’s right," answered Gandalf.

"Well can’t we go around it?" asked Boromir.

"Well, this side," said Gandalf, pointing on the map, "is too close to Isengard. And this side is too close to Rohan."

"But aren’t we allies with the Rohirrim?" put in Aragorn.

"Yeah. Except for me personally because when I was still a young wizard *cue flashback, pretty string music, and cut in of young Gandalf skipping through the grass* I… well, I stole a horse from them. I meant to give it back! It was a dare from, well… From Saruman. The horse is actually back, and he’s fine and all… but they’re kinda paranoid about their horses, you know? So whenever I get near them they shoot at me with flaming arrows. *end beautiful memory music abruptly* So, yeah. Going over there is not the best idea."

The Umbrellaship had been sitting around Gandalf’s feet listening with rapt attention. When he was about half-way in to his monologue, they all spotted a pretty bird sitting on a rock a few feet away, so by the time he finished, they were all staring at it, grinning and mouthing things to each other like, ’Look!’ and ’Isn’t it cute?’ and ’Aww!’

Rolling his eyes and muttering wizard-type curse words under his breath, Gandalf folded up the map. "Alright, then, let’s get going; I vote we go under the mountain- through the mines of Moria."

"Yes!" cried Gimli. "I haven’t been to the shopping center there in over three years! They have such a great assortment of shops and stuff… It’s really neat! It’s the second largest dwarf mall in all of Middle Earth!" He continued on in this vein for quite some time, much to the irritation of the others. "I just hope I remember where the entrance is!" said Gandalf. "What? You don’t know how to get in? But… if you don’t know, how will we find it? It’s supposedly hidden really well!" said Merry. "Er… I’m sure when we get close I’ll remember," said Gandalf. The rest, however, were fairly worried.

As they neared the base of the mountains, they spotted a figure standing at the top of a nearby mound of rocks.

He was not very tall, but not as short as the hobbits. He had large yellow boots on and a bright blue coat, and a long brown beard rested on his chest. He was giggling and hopping from one foot to the other as he threw firework explosions at random in every direction. The Umbrellaship stood spellbound at this talent; well, all but Gandalf who frowned and crossed his arms.

Suddenly he exploded in a burst of flames, then in a POOF! of smoke, he appeared before them, still giggling. He threw some more explosions, then turned towards them, his eyes brightly twinkling. Boromir walked up to the fellow and said, "Hello there! What type of man are you, who can summon fire without flint or matches?"

"I? I am an enchanter, hey merry dol!" replied the funny little man.

"Well, what name are you known by, Mr. Enchanter?" asked Merry.

"Hey dol, merry a dol,
ring a dong, hop along!
Fal lal the willow! … There are those who call me… Tom?" he said, or sang, rather.

"Greetings, Tom the Enchanter!" said Boromir.

"Greetings, Boromir son of Denethor, of Gondor!" said Tom.

"You know my name?" asked Boromir, astonished.

"I do! Ring a dong a willow! Merry dol and merry-o, for Tom Bombadillo!"

Several of the Umbrellaship looked at each other with puzzled expressions. Tom shot off a few more fireworks, then said, "You seek the Umbrella!"

"That we do," replied Boromir. "You know much that is hidden, O Tom."

"Quite! Ringo dongo dilly-o!" cried Tom, and shot off a spectacular display. Gandalf huffed, unimpressed with the show. The rest, however, applauded.

"Yes, we’re looking for a way into the mines of Moria, to get past the mountains," said Pippin. "So… our quest goes through the mountains."

The rest agreed. "So… anything you could do to help would be…well… helpful!" he finished awkwardly.

Tom giggled and continued to dance around, shooting off fireworks.

"Look, you’re a busy man," began Legolas. "And we don’t want to take up your time-"

"Yes, I can help you find Moria!" said Tom. "But I’ll warn you! Follow only if ye be men of valor! For inside the caves, deep dwells a creature so foul, so cruel, that no man has yet fought with it and lived! The bones of thousands lie strewn about its lair, hey merry dillo! So, if you doubt your courage and bravery, I tell you, step no further! For death awaits you with nasty big pointy teeth!" He said the last part making his fingers look like fangs up at his mouth and snarled and spat.

"Quite an eccentric performance," muttered Aragorn to Boromir.

All in all, the Umbrellaship was a bit shaken by this news, despite Gimli repeatedly saying there were no creatures in the mines; why, it was filled with dwarves! This didn’t reassure any of them, though; particularly Legolas. They followed Tom, though, up the hills and into the mountains, as he giggled and danced and sang his nonsense songs.

Chapter Twelve: Moria
Moria…. - the title was actually pretty self-explanatory so I probably didn’t need to include the setting, huh? Oh well.

The Umbrellaship and Tom the Enchanter sat in front of… a really big stone wall. "Uh, Tom?" said Boromir. Tom turned towards him with a goofy grin on his face. "Er, how do we get in? This is just a mountain wall!" Boromir said.

"Shhh!! Wait! Wait, merry a dol, patience, my ring ding dol!"

"Right… Look, I say we ditch the weirdo and try to find our own way in," whispered Merry. Just then, the moon came out from behind the clouds and shone on the wall, illuminating a doorway decorated with runes and pictures. "Wowww," they all said. "What does it say?" asked Sam.

"It says, ’If you speak the right password, you just might get in!’" answered Tom. He stepped back and spoke some phrase in a foreign language. "What did you say?" asked Frodo as the door opened. "Wizards are all old farts!" chirped Tom merrily, with a snicker towards Gandalf.

Everyone but Gandalf laughed, or at least chuckled. Tom turned away. "What? Aren’t you going to go in with us?" asked Aragorn.

"Oh no ring rong lo! It is a long way to Bombadil’s home, and Goldberry is waiting!" cried Tom in answer. Waving, he left. "Crap!" said Boromir.

The rest entered the dark tunnel. When they were all in, the door slammed shut, scaring them. It was dark. "AAAAAAAH!!" screamed Frodo, Sam, Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn.

"Shut up! You’d wake the dead with that racket!" shouted Gandalf, as he whispered a few words that made the end of his staff glow with an unearthly light.

"No chance of that," said Pippin as the light grew to reveal bones covering the floor.

"Nooooo!!" cried Gimli as he recognized cousins, friends, and dwarves who owed him money.

Boromir put his hand on Gimli’s shoulder. "It’s all right, Gimli," he said, "I’m sure you can chase down the heirs for your money."

"Gandalf, why are all these people dead?" asked Frodo.

"Did you not pay attention to what that weirdo said, dimwitted hobbit?"

"Well… Sam and I were playing tick-tack-toe! See?" Frodo held up his hand, covered in tic-tac-toe boards made by pens.

No one responded. They had started walking. Sam and Frodo ran to keep up and they all walked in silence through the semi-darkness. Besides Gandalf’s staff-light, the entire place was a dark velvety black. The faint light threw shadows at every corner, and soon they could see that the tunnel had opened into a vast chamber in which lurked their darkest imaginations.

They continued walking, staying close together. "Hey- do you think the dead people at the entrance means that the stores are all closed?" asked Gimli fervently. No one answered- they were concentrating on not stepping on the bones.

Suddenly they realized they had walked into the central hall of the dwarf kings. Great stone pillars stood in rows and the Umbrellaship stood in awe. Then, Frodo noticed a little room off to the side. He went in, picking his way through the remains of fallen dwarves, and climbed up on the large stone table in the middle. "Heehee!!" he laughed. "Look, Gandalf, I’m taller than you now!" He giggled and started jumping up and down on top of it. The rest of them came in the room and Gandalf knocked Frodo off the table with his staff. Frodo started crying, only to be kicked in the chin, then knocked senseless with the butt end of Boromir’s sword.

"This isn’t a table!" said Legolas suddenly. "It’s a tomb, a coffin!" They all crowded around it. Only Gandalf could understand the writing on the top, as it was in Pig Latin. "These are the last words of Balin, Lord of Moria," He read. " ’I’m not dead yet! I’m getting better! I think I’ll go for a walk!’ " Gandalf shook his head, then continued, "Then, he died."

"Well that’s why he didn’t come back!" said Gimli. "The old fart croaked! Well, I never liked him anyway! Hahahahahahahaa!!" the dwarf laughed quite loudly.

Just then, they all heard a distant rumbling. Sam clung to Gandalf’s robe sleeve, whispering, "W-what’s that, Gandalf?"

The wizard shook him off and replied, "A big scary monster that will devour you if you don’t shut up!"

"Ack!" squeaked the hobbit.

"Be on your guard," the wizard warned the others.

They walked out of the room and saw that the other end of the hall had an eerie glow to it, which was spreading. *cue scary drum music and foreboding chants* The rumbling grew louder. A couple of them looked at Gandalf apprehensively; his jaw was set and he wasn’t moving.

The rumbling grew until they could not hear themselves think. They were trembling with fear, and Gimli soiled his armor. Then, as they watched, a huge smoky figure came out from behind one of the pillars. A massive darkness, wreathed in flames, wearing an apron, was waving a towel at what appeared to be a smoke detector on the high ceiling. They realized then that that was where the noise had been coming from. Then, the creature turned and saw them, and they saw that it was horned and its eyes were flaming gaps in its head.

As one, they shrieked, "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!" and ran. They ran, and ran, and ran, across the floor, as far as they could. "Wait!" the monster cried after them, and started to chase them. Then Gandalf remembered Frodo, who was still unconscious in Balin’s tomb room. (Hehe! More words that sound nifty together! Tomb Room!)

A little cricket, dressed in a suit and top hat, carrying a *gasp!* umbrella, appeared on Gandalf’s shoulder. "You need to go back and get him, you know!" it said.

"Who in Middle Earth are you, telling me what to do?" Gandalf replied, swatting him as he ran. Then he stopped. "Oh! You are (were, since you’re now dead) my CONSCIENCE! But wait… if you’re dead, I don’t have to listen to you, right? Hahahaaa!!" And he continued to run.

Iluvatar, God of Middle Earth, not really liking this, decided to smite Gandalf down as he was running across the bridge. "AAAAAaaaah!" cried the wizard.

"Gandalf! Nooooooo!!!" screamed Aragorn as the Grey Wanderer disappeared from sight. *cue emotional crying music*

Blindly, they ran up the stairs and out into the sun. They sat there and cried, then realized that none of them had ever liked Gandalf anyway- he was really bossy and a bit of a snot. *cue music change to Zippedy Doo Da*

"So, where to now?" asked Pippin.

"Does anyone know where we are or where we’re supposed to go?" asked Boromir.

"I suggest we go to Lothlorien," said Legolas.

"Yes! I hear the Lady has GREAT fashion sense!" agreed Gimli. He and Legolas gave each other high-fives, and were wonderful companions and friends from then on.

Aragorn, weary and confused, ate a pancake to calm his nerves. "What do you think, Merry?" he said.

"Lothlorien sounds good," the hobbit answered. "Let’s go for it."

"Wait a second!" said Sam. "Where’s Frodo?"

They all realized in a second that Frodo was still in the mines.

"Hip hip…" said Boromir.

"HOOOORAYY!!" cried the rest, except for Sam who was now quite downcast. For who else would agree to play Tic-Tac-Toe with him, now that Frodo was gone? He soon had other things to think about, though; they had started moving again, so he had to concentrate on his feet.

Chapter Thirteen: Frodo Forges a Friendship!

Waking up, Frodo blinked his eyes. He was in a dark room, all alone. Then he realized where he was. He saw a faint, flickering light coming from the doorway, so he got up and walked out. He heard the sound of someone sobbing loudly. He looked around and saw a huge shadowy creature sitting in the corner. Despite its rather frightening appearance and the flames dancing around its figure, it had its head on its arms and its knees drawn up to its chest; it was, without a doubt, crying.

"Hello!" said Frodo loudly. The creature raised its horned head and sniffed. Frodo walked over to it and sat down. "What’s wrong? He asked, leaning back on his hands.

"A-aren’t you afraid of me?" sniffled the creature.

"Not really," replied Frodo. "Do you want to be friends?"

"I’ve never had any friends. Everyone always runs away when they see me, because I look scary; well, what am I supposed to look like? I’m a Balrog! They don’t even want to get to know me… and even worse, I burned my scones!" Bursting into a fresh round of tears, the Balrog put his head down again.

"What’s your name?" asked Frodo.

"Bartholomew," replied the Balrog, "but I think that if I had friends, I’d want them to call me Barty."

"Can I call you Barty?" Frodo said.

Brightening, Bartholomew said, "Sure!" Then, "Do you want to have tea? I… My scones are burned, but I have some cookies!"

"Great!" said Frodo with a grin.

After they had gone through the first three batches of cookies and first three rounds of tea, Frodo complimented Barty on his cooking skills.

"Well, it’s kinda hard, being a Balrog!" Barty said. "Sometimes I take them out of the oven, and they just light on fire! It’s horrible. It really turns away my guests, not to mention the fact that I used to work for Morgoth."

"Who?" asked Frodo, taking another cookie.

"You don’t know who Morgoth is?" exclaimed Bart. Frodo shook his head. "Well, he was a really bad guy who is basically gone now- but he was the founder of all evil and it’s all been turned over to Mister Who."

"Oh! I know who Mister Who is! I think…" said Frodo.

"Yeah. Well, anyway. I just got fed up with trying to be mean to people, you know? It just wasn’t my cup of tea." They laughed at his joke. "Besides, I didn’t get fire insurance paid for. You know how many flames I had to conjure up? I had to keep a fire extinguisher on hand at all times! Anyway, I turned in my notice long ago. Still, people have this illusion that all Balrogs are bad. It’s not true! Yeah, I have some cousins that think it’s a great joke to charbroil people every now and then, but I haven’t seen any truly nasty Shadow Creatures in a long time."

"I’m sorry to hear that," said Frodo, "and I’ve really enjoyed having tea with you, but I have to get going. My friends are missing and we’re supposed to be going to see Mister Who, actually."

"Really? Wow. That might be kind of dangerous, you know!" said Barty.

"Well, maybe, but there’s some pretty good fighters in the Umbrellaship!"

"If they’re the same people I saw a few hours ago, you could be wrong about that!" laughed the Balrog. Then he burst into tears again at the memory of their frightened faces as they fled from him.

"Look, Barty, how about this? Let’s be pen pals! I want to be your friend! *cue music from "Don’t Eat the Pictures", I Want to Be Your Friend, as sung by Super Grover* Then we can write to each other! Wouldn’t that be fun?"

Through his tears, Barty smiled. "Okay!" he said. "Just let me get a piece of paper." He left. In a few moments he returned, giving Frodo his address.

"Great!" said the hobbit. "If we come back this way, I’ll be sure to drop in, okay? Cheer up, Barty!" He got up. "Oh… by the way… you wouldn’t happen to know the way out, would you?"

"Straight down this corridor, turn left, across the bridge, up the stairs, and you’re out! Good luck!" said the Balrog, getting up to clear the dishes.

"Thanks a bunch! See you later!" said Frodo cheerfully. He whistled as he walked down the hall and out of the mines.

"What a happy (if dimwitted) little fellow!" Barty said to himself. He wiped his eyes and sighed. He had a friend.

"What a nice Balrog! And I had always heard they were bloodthirsty, murdering monsters!" said Frodo to himself. He smiled. He had a friend in the mines!

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