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The Funniship of the Ring: Books 1 - 5. A Parody - Tweakenal

The Funniship of the Ring. Book 1.

"Well, Hoho," said Handoff the Gloomy to his friend the Blobbit, "It looks as if the Ring your Uncle Dumbo found underneath the Messy Mountains may be more than it seems."

Hoho looked up from his whittling. "Huh?" he said.

Handoff looked up at the clock on the wall. "Woah! I'm almost late for the Flighty Counsil! I gotta go, Hoho, thanks for the turkey dinner," and with that, the blizzard breezed out the door, upsetting Hoho's dinner as he went.

"Doggone blizzard. I don't know why uncle Dumbo ever let him in here in the first place," muttered Hoho. "I wonder what he meant about my ring? Oh well."

Tomfool Sandwich entered through the hectagonal door. "Your lawn is all mowed. And I managed to miss most of your flowers."

Hoho suddenly had an inspiration. Why didn't he go find Uncle Dumbo and ask him why he let the parasitic blizzard into the Blobbit's hole so many years ago? And why not take a few friends along? Oh, sure, it might be dangerous, but they needn't worry-at least until they had a good reason to worry.

"That's good, Tom. Uh, I was wondering, how would you like to take an extended picnic? I'd like to get out of the Mire for a few days."

"Ooh!" Tom squealed, "We can take Piping Take and Mary Christmas! It'll be fun! I'll start packing." And the overenthused Blobbit bustled off to pack and invite Hoho's other friends.

Hoho breathed a sigh of relief. At least if some vicious beast decided to attack the little "picnic", he would have a 75% chance of getting away.

Tom flew in an hour or two later, dragging the luggage and two very unwilling, whining Blobbits, who knew something of Hoho's ways.

"I don't want to die!" wailed Piping Take.

"My hay fever is at it's peak!" shrieked Mary Christmas, who was hard put to find an excuse better than Piping's.

"I wanted to bring Slim Bolder too, but he has a nasty case of pneumonia," said Tom, setting down the three heavy looking picnic baskets.

Hoho, hungry already, eyed the baskets with greed. He smelled the destinctive aroma of little red cherry tomatoes, cooked with a light basting of basil lemon sauce.

Ham Sandwich entered the room.

"Tomfool, now y'all be careful out there. Some outlandish Big Person dressed all in paisley was asking about ya. I said you had all gone off, because I thought you had," he said looking hard at Tom.

"Thank you, Ham," said Hoho, wanting him to leave so they could be on their way. But the two younger Blobbits had seen their chance to delay their departure possibly indefinitely and were talking up a storm and begging Ham to take them home. It was well known that Hamslow Sandwich could not resist a long, drawn out conversation.

It was a good half an hour later before Hoho and Tom could drag the two whiny blobbits away.

The four Blobbits made their slow, painful way out of the Mire.

Hoho was mulling on Uncle Dumbo's last cryptic message. "I'll be in Flivenbell, if you want me, Hoho." Hoho wondered if his crazy old uncle really meant what he said, or if he was just going off on one of his crazy thought processes.

Then he noticed he was up to his armpits in slime. He wondered how he was going to get out of this one. He surmized that this must be the reason that the whimpers of the younger (and shorter) blobbits had suddenly ceased.

He looked over his shoulder and to his horror he saw a man in paisley. Not that paisley itself is horrifying, but the colors left the impression of total insanity.

Hoho barely supressed a loud and shrill scream. But Tom was not so lucky. A yowl of frightening proportions escaped from his direction.

The Paisley Rider looked up. It was just about ready to leap when it heard the sound of music. Hoho strained his ears. Why, it was the sound of Selfish boomboxes, playing the favorite band of Selves everywhere, MeToo, and the song "Horrible Day"!

Hoho almost let loose another terrified scream. The rider let loose a long, drawn out shout of anguish. It was immediately followed by another, almost in Hoho's ear. It was too much for the Blobbit. He screamed with such agony that the great slime beast that was about to eat him was frightened off. It even drowned out the songs of the Selves.

Tom, who had managed to fend off the slime beast and rescue the younger blobbits immediately took command of the situation.

"Hide!" he yelled.

But it was too late. A voice was heard close by.

"Here they art, the little scoundrels!"

A great company of Selves appeared. The head Self frowned down upon them and spoke words that they did not catch.

"Say what?" said Hoho.

The Self made a waved his hand and all the boomboxes of the Selves were turned off.

"We're in trouble," whispered Hoho to Tom. "A Self lord never turns the music off unless he's going to say something that he wants to make sure someone will hear. The silence doesn't bode well with his followers."

The Self frowned at the blobbits. He raised his hand and a sense of awe fell upon them. Hoho found himself wanting to laugh.

"What art thou doing, thou little short folk? Thou art irking me. Dost thou think that my patience is everlasting? Thy bumbling ways have brought the Paisley Riders forth, which have not ridden the earth in ages! Knowest thou the penalty for such wickedness?"

Hoho swallowed. He thought he could guess.

"Death?" croaked Piping.

"Death?! Thinkest thou that we are barbarians? Nay, little short folk! The penalty for such is that you must be our slaves! And as the king of these swamplands, so do I sentence thee!"

He spoke to several burly looking Selfish warriors and they plucked the frightened blobbits out of the slime and started carrying them.

The entire company of Selves walked on for several miles until they were on firmer ground and could carry the blobbits without dropping them. Then they made them walk.

But they soon picked them up again when they found that blobbits have a peculiar trait of running very quickly from their captors. They finally came to an arbor overshadowed by very large trees. The Selves placed the blobbits under heavy guard under a great beech with overhanging boughs.

"How do they get so big?" whispered Mary.

"I suppose they eat all their vegatables," hissed Tom.

"No, I mean the trees!"


An hour or two later the guards came and brought them before the Selfish lord who had spoken with them earlier. His entire court stood around him with solemn looks on their faces.

The guards placed the blobbits before him and retreated.

The Self frowned upon them.

"Dost thou know what thou hast done, little short folk?"

Hoho cleared his throat and said what was on the mind of all the blobbits just then.

"I want my mommy."

The Self frowned on them until they all felt like crying. Then to their amazement and everlasting shame he started laughing uncontrollably.

"I want my mommy!" he chortled, "I have not heard anything so funny since I dost not know when! And if thou couldst just have seen the looks on thy faces! Har har har!"

He collapsed in a fit of mirth. His entire court was laughing heartily.

The blobbits looked at each other in doubt and suspision.

"Perhaps I shouldst explain," said the head Selfish guard seeing the looks on the blobbits' faces. "The lord Screendor is a great one for practical jokes. He meaneth no personal offence."

Hoho remembered one of the tales that his Uncle Dumbo had told him, long ago when he was just a youngster in the Mire. He had told him about the Selfish lord Eitheror, who mistakenly used a hand buzzer in the Great Counsil on the lord Moron. Which explained the wars that ensued.

"Then, we aren't going to be made slaves of?" said Tomfool, voicing the other thought on the blobbits' minds.

The lord Screendor recovered himself just then.

"Nay, little short folk," he said wiping his eyes. "But I do hope that thou wilst stay for dinner."

Hoho dithered. "I think we'd better be going. Can you just point the way back to the Road Going East?"

The Self looked troubled. "Nay, short one. That I cannot do. For we know not the way out of this wood. We have been wandering for six days with nothing to eat. You misunderstood me when I extended the invitation to dine with us. What I meant was will you be so kind as to let us partake of your bounty, or wilt thou let us perish of starvation in this forsaken wood? I trust you have enough for all gathered here."

He took a deep breath. "Do mine nostrils smell little red cherry tomatoes with a lemon basil sauce?"

The blobbits had no choice but to let the Selves partake of their food. They watched glumly as their hopes for dinner were dashed. The food disappeared at an alarming rate down the gullets of the incredibly greedy Selves.

Screendor finished his last tomato. He leaned back in his chair and fell asleep. The rest of the Selves gathered around a large fire and were singing songs about food.

Hoho leaned over and whispered to the other blobbits.

"When I give the signal, we'll escape into the woods."

There was no answer. Hoho turned around to see what they were doing. They were not there. They had snuck off when Screendor had started snoring. Hoho had to run almost five minutes before he caught up with them.

Of course, he had to convince them that he was really the genuine Hoho Flaggins before he could get within ten feet of them.

"Look," he said. "Who but the real Hoho Flaggins would have a wallet with a picture of Mount Lurbalurba in it?"

"You could have stolen his wallet!" said Mary. "Or falsely developed an obsession with the stupid mountain!"

But Hoho soon dispelled any doubts by threatening to go back and alert the Selves of their escape.

They walked on for about three seconds. Then Piping stopped short and gave a great cry. Of course, he being in front he stopped the others rather more rapidly than they would have liked.

"It is! It's the Road Going East!" he cried with joy. The other blobbits cried

aloud with great clamor. Their happy shouts were met with a tremolous yowl from a hilltop on their left. It was soon followed by another, followed by what sounded like a sneeze directly ahead of them.

"The Paisley Riders!" the blobbits cried in terror. They ran along the Eastward Going Road until they saw the lights of a town almost a mile away.

"Whatever happens," puffed Hoho, "I am not to be addressed as Mr. Flaggins. I want to be known as Mr. Overtheriverandthroughthewoods."

"What?" said Mary.

"Mr. Flaggins is getting one of his funny fits again, I expect," said Tom, not relishing the prospect.

They came upon the town.

"Why, It's Flee!" said Piping in surprise. "I didn't know we were near the place!"

"We sure haven't traveled long enough to get here," agreed Hoho.

"No!" said Piping. "I thought we'd be at least to the end of the earth by now!"

The blobbits were now at the gate. Hoho knocked at the gate with all of his might. Still it was half an hour before he was answered.

The gatekeeper glared down at them.

"What do you want?" he snarled.

"We want to come in," said Hoho.

"Well, why did you wake me up? Didn't you see the sign? 'Come on in, the door's open'! Can't you read?"

The blobbits were once again embarrased beyond words. It was fifteen minutes before they could convince the guard to let them in. Even then, it took all the money that they could muster that the Selves had not stolen from them.

They walked on. They did not notice the dark figure that crept to the top of the wall behind them and fell to the ground with a muffled yelp, before dusting itself off and creeping off into the shadows.

Hoho was very anxious. He had planned on a nice journey, but already he had been robbed, chased by big people in very hidious clothes, and embarrased greatly. Now all he wanted was to find an inn where he could get a cheap meal and room. He wondered where could find such a place. He looked up all of a sudden. There was an almost abandoned looking place. The sign above the door read 'The Dead Bunny by Barleyguy Margarine'. It looked like just the place Hoho was looking for. He had never been more wrong in all his life.

They walked in. The very dirty common room was all but abandoned, save for several dark and sinister characters slinking in corners. One of them caught sight of the blobbits as they looked warily about them. He motioned to the others and they gathered about them, and blocked the door.

"What do you want?" cried Hoho, "Don't rob us! We have no money, all we want is a place to stay and some hot food. We didn't come all this way to be robbed and beaten by a bunch of scaliwags and hoodlums!"

The biggest man stooped and looked into Hoho's face. "Hoodlums it is, huh?" he grinned at him, showing very dirty yellow teeth. "Hoodlums nothing! I happen to be the proprietor of this fine establishment."

Hoho's heart dropped to his toes. Then it jumped into his throat and choked him and made tears form in his eyes. His stomach did flip-flops and his head felt 4 feet above his shoulders. For a moment he felt like he was at his sixth birthday party all over again.

"Well," said Barleyguy, "It looks like you've found the right place!"

Hoho seriously doubted that. His suspisions were confirmed when Barleyguy and his henchmen made them do dishes until they thought their arms would fall off and plop into the cold slimy dishwater. Then he rewarded them with a paltry meal and a night in the worst room in the building. While the blobbits were eating their dry bread and water in the common room, Hoho noticed another sinister character sitting off in another corner. (Hoho had never seen so many corners in a single building before.)

He was staring very hard at the blobbits. Hoho wondered why he hadn't joined the other henchmen's game of taunting the blobbits. The guy beckoned to him. Hoho looked at the other blobbits. They had fallen asleep at the table. Hoho swallowed hard and walked to the corner. As he approached the guy threw back his hood revealing a head. Hoho didn't even blink at this, expecting the man to have one. Hoho sat down cautiously.

"I am called Slimer," the guy said. "I wish to speak with you, Mr., Overtheriverandthroughthewoods, if I got your name right, which I hope I did."

"You're speaking with me now, aren't you?" snapped Hoho irritably.

Slimer held up his hands in defence. "Hey, don't have a cow, man, I just wanted to warn you."

Hoho was suddenly very interested in what the guy was going to say.

"Warn me about what?" he said cautiously.

Slimer looked around and bent towards Hoho. "I wish to warn you about dark men slinking in corners. Don't listen to them!"

Hoho got up to leave.

"I don't mean me!" cried the man. "Seriously, you are in grave danger. Paisley riders have been seen riding on the Eastward Going Road. It is rumored that they are looking for "Flaggins". Everyone I know of is very mad at the person who called them forth. Would you know where I could find this Flaggins? It would mean a lot to me. You see, there's a price on his head," at this point in his dialogue he paused and laughed. "And I happen to be short on cash."

Hoho was rather nervous at this news. "But why are you warning me of this? My name isn't Flaggins."

"Oh, isn't it?" said Slimer, and stood up. Hoho suddenly saw just how tall and muscular the guy was. Slimer continued. "While Barleyguy and his henchmen were making you do dishes, I stole your wallet!" He cackled and held it forth. Hoho gasped.

"Oh, you recognize it, do you, short one? Well, you'd better be happy that I'm returning it. What kind of a guy do you think I am, anyway?"

Hoho didn't say what he thought, which was just as well. Slimer handed Hoho his wallet back. Hoho inspected it. Everything was there, even his precious picture of Mt. Lurbalurba. He stuck it in his back pocket.

Slimer leaned back in his seat. Luckily, he had the presence of mind to keep from tipping over completely. "Actually, Mr. Flaggins, what I wanted to warn you about was that Barleyguy is not to be trusted. Or his henchmen. You are not safe here. I would recommend that you leave immediately, if not sooner."

Hoho sighed. "Yes, I must leave. But I don't know where to go. My original plan was to go to Flivenbell, to see my Uncle Dumbo, but I don't see how I'm going to get there."

Slimer's face brightened. "Flivenbell? Oh, I know where that is! I could take you there! I know lots of shortcuts. I've been lost, er, wandered these lands for many years. I am older than I look."

Hoho looked doubtful. "I don't know, Slimer, my uncle had a saying that he loved to say, it went 'He who tries a shorter way may not get home ere break of day', or something like that. He was very pessimistic, Uncle Dumbo." Hoho remembered the day Uncle Dumbo had first told him that. He was very young. They had spent the day looking for wild flakkberries in the woods of the Mire. Hoho had thought he knew the way home but the trail soon proved to lead to an abandoned swamp. Uncle Dumbo had given him a long lecture after that.

Hoho was suddenly aware of daylight peeking in the windows. The younger blobbits were waking up. Hoho decided to go with this strange guy, at least until all his good advice ran out.

Slimer led the blobbits through the sleeping town to the eastern end. They traveled several miles down the road to shake off any who were following. Then he led them through a swamp with many crossing paths. The blobbits were soon confused, and soon it was evident that Slimer was too. They wandered in the swamp for three days before Slimer got his bearings back.

"I knew we should have stayed at the Dead Bunny," hissed Piping to Hoho as Slimer was trying to get his boot out of a tree. "I kinda liked that Barleyguy fellow."

They wound their weary way around the feet of the looming hills just as twilight colored the crests of the clouds the color of the mountains in the far distance.

"It looks like it's going to storm," said Piping irritably and wearily.

"Shut up," said Slimer, knowing he was right and not liking it. "I think we'll camp on that hill over there. It's called Weatherornot. At the top you can see for miles around. Now get up and let's get started."

They made their even wearier way up the hill. Halfway up the large looming hill was a small bowl, facing away from the road. Tom and Piping stayed to make camp while Slimer, Hoho and Mary crawled wearily all the way up to see what they could see.

They paused wearily halfway up the hill. It was wearily higher than it looked.

"Man, am I weary," said Hoho wearily.

"Aren't we all weary?" said Mary even more wearily.

"Shut up," said Arrogant wearily. "We've got to make our weary way to the top of the hill soon, or else." He gave the blobbits a menacing yet weary look. They continued wearily on.

Finally, they stood on top of the hill and looked wearily all around. All they could see was landscape, landscape, and more landscape.

"We climbed all the weary way up only to see this?" said Mary incredulously and wearily.

"Didn't I tell you (wearily or not) to shut up?" growled Slimer weary of the blobbit's wearying jabber.

While the man and the blobbit were screaming loudly yet wearily at each other, Hoho made his weary way over to the edge of the hill and wearily looked at the road. To his horror, there were five brightly colored dots, approaching rapidly from different directions. Hoho was weary just looking at them. He wondered if he could somehow wearily creep down the other side of the hill unnoticed by the dots or his weary companions, except he was so weary he didn't know if he could. The idea was soon squelched as one of the dots emitted a loud howl. Slimer wearily threw Mary and Hoho to the ground and started to wearily crawl off towards their camp. Hoho and Mary wearily scrambled after him. As they wearily rushed into camp, they found Tom and Piping wearily lounging about without having unpacked. Slimer started yelling wearily at them to get up, but before they could stir the sun set, and the paisley riders were upon them.

They and the riders stared at each other momentarily, and wearily. Then with a yell Slimer spritely ran off into the night, leaving the weary blobbits to fight alone. Once again, Tom, as weary as he was, took control of the situation.

"Run!" he yelled.

But it was too late. The paisley riders threw themselves into battle with a fury. It was all the blobbits could do to keep themselves ahead of them. Then the Rider in the most garish costume stood up and pulled something out of his belt. Hoho saw in horror what it was. He tried to run, but with Piping mistaking him for a Paisley Rider it was something less than easy. (Also he was still weary.) The Paisley Rider threw the object at Hoho and then all the Riders suddenly disappeared.

The projectile struck Hoho a glancing blow on the shoulder, spinning him out of control. He fell to the ground in a swoon. The blobbits gathered around Hoho and wondered how to divide the spoil.

The Funniship of the Ring. Book 2.

Or, In Which Slimer Develops An Unnatural Dislike Of Blobbits.

Hoho woke up to the sound of arguing. He wondered where he was, and why his arm felt cold and numb. He opened his eyes to see Tomfool bent over him, groping in his pockets.

"Good old Tom," he murmured.

"You mean greedy old Tom," said Piping. "Why, his pile of loot was…"

His speech was cut short when Tom kicked him swiftly on the shin.

Hoho tried to sit up. "What happened, Tom? Why is my arm cold?" He looked around at the wet ground.

"Well, Mr. Hoho, you were very lucky, I'd say," said Tom.

"Yeah," said Piping. "Lucky to wake up in time. Why, Tom was just about to…"

Once again, a swift kick silenced him.

Tom continued. "When that Paisley Rider threw that thing at you, they suddenly all ran off. I suppose they thought you done for."

"Done for?" cried Hoho, "What did they throw at me?"

Tom grimly held up what was left of the object that was intended for Hoho's demise.

"Oh!" said Hoho weakly, "Why, I could have been, would be…"

"Soaked," finished Tom quietly. He contemplated the pieces of the water balloon thoughtfully. "I suppose they thought you drenched, and what with this wind blowing all the time up here, you could have caught pneumonia. We've been trying to start a fire, but Slimer ran off with all the matches."

Hoho closed his eyes and leaned back, worn out and starting to feel very cold.

Tom wrapped Hoho in a blanket. Just then, Slimer returned.

"Where did you go, you highway robber?" snarled Mary Christmas.

"I, uh, forgot something at the bottom of the hill and I went back to get it," Slimer said lamely.

Tom looked angrily at the man. "Well, your faulty memory almost got Mr. Hoho soaked! If he catches a cold, I hope you live in misery the rest of your life! I hope you contract head lice from a Daft! I hope you get severe toenail fungus and…"

Piping stifled the ranting and raving blobbit.

"So, what do you want me to do?" said Slimer, sullenly.

"Didn't you hear me?" roared Tom, "I hope they have to shave your…"

Piping and Mary stifled the enraged Blobbit.

"For starters," said Piping, who was seated on Tom's stomach, "You can hand over all the matches and start running. I'll give you a ten second head start before I let Tom loose."

"But how are you going to get to Flivenbell without me? Do you know the way? Who's going to carry Hoho across the miles and miles to the house of Sellrond Half-Selfish?"

"Piping," said Mary.

"Mary," said Piping.

"I can see where this is going," muttered Hoho.

"Ten," said Piping.

"No, no, wait!" shouted Slimer.


"You don't understand, see, it was like this…"


"Count faster!" shouted Tom.

Slimer finally got the hint and ran off. The blobbits did not see him again for a long while.

As it turned out, Hoho walked almost all the way to Flivenbell. But since he was in no condition to, the others carried all the baggage.

"I wish we had a pony," said Piping. "I'd call it Bill, and I'd love it, and hug it, and feed it and clean up after it…"

"Clam up," said Mary Christmas. "If I had a nickel for every time you've said that, I'd be richer than the king of Flounder!"

"But," said Hoho, "There is no king in Flounder. The King Thornbush went out to face a Paisley Rider and he never came back. And his infant son he left in Flivenbell to be taught by the lord Sellrond. But that was many years ago. The son may be dead now."

"All right then, I'd be richer that the Sewer of Flounder. Happy now?" asked Mary.

Hoho sighed. "Not much. I wish I wasn't so cold. I can't feel my fingers. Hey, shouldn't we be traveling wearily on?"

"Oh, we don't have to. We all took some nice naps while you were out," said Piping. They were now traveling in a pass. On one side there was an unsurmountable cliff, and on the other was a sloping hill with many bushes and trees. Their footsteps were echoed in a most eerie manner. All of a sudden, Hoho realized that he heard hoofbeats.

"There is a rider behind us!" he hissed.

Tom took control of the situation.

"Hide!" he yelled.

The blobbits rushed up the hill and hid behind a large bush, which afforded them a view of the road.

The hoofbeats got louder and louder. Then to his horror, Hoho's quick ears picked up the sound of little bells.

"Even worse!" he hissed. "It's a Self! Now be quiet everybody, or he'll hear us!"

The blobbits waited breathlessly for the Self to appear. All of a sudden, the Self came into sight. To their shock, it was a very beautiful woman with black hair, riding on a pure white horse with brightly colored ribbons braided into it's mane and tail.

She would have passed them too, exept at that very moment Mary Christmas's hay fever chose that moment to show itself. He sneezed rather loudly.

The Self reined in her horse, removed her headphones and looked up at the bush. She looked very puzzled. Then she started climbing the hill.

"Don't shoot!" yelled Piping, jumping up.

"AAAGGHH!!" said the Self.

But then she saw that it was just a bunch of Blobbits, and she soon stopped jumping up and down.

"Who art thou?" she demanded.

Tom introduced everybody.

"But who are you?" said Tom.

She smiled. "I am Awning, daughter of Sellrond. A few days ago, my beloved returned to Flivenbell bearing the news of four blobbits, one of whom was carrying something very important. My father sent such riders as are powerful enough to resist the Paisley Riders to seek thee."

Piping spoke up. "It seems strange that Sellrond would send out his daughter on such a dangerous mission."

"Well," said Awning, "He did not exactly send me out. I snuck out my bedroom window three nights ago."

"Oh," said Piping.

Hoho suddenly felt very weak. Tom caught him as he swooned. Awning looked concernedly at Hoho.

Tom quickly explained about Weatherornot and the water balloon. He showed the Self maiden the pieces of the implement.

Awning shuddered as she took the balloon.

"There are evil things written on this weapon, though mortal eyes cannot see them unless it is inflated. Handle it as little as you may! No one knows where this kind of thing has been. There are many places in Flivenbell where thou mayest dispose of such trash."

Then she offered to take them to Flivenbell. The blobbits thanked her profusely. She placed Hoho in front of her on the horse, and they started on their way.

The blobbits asked the woman many things about Flivenbell, the lord Sellrond, and other Selves. In return, she asked questions about their journey.

She seemed troubled at the news of Screendor and his company, but she would not say anything exept for giving ominous hints.

"I suppose thou knowest something of what to expect, then." she said gravely. And that was all they could get out of her for some while. She seemed to be deep in thought for many miles. Then they were approaching the end of the pass. Hoho from his vantage point could see a ford some miles ahead.

"That is the Harrison Ford," said Awning, breaking her long silence. "After that, there is a steep dropoff and then Flivenbell. My father long ago diverted the river away from it's original course, and made the Valley. My home used to be under a lake, many years before my birth."

They rode out of the pass. But the welcome reprise from the echoing hoofbeats did not come. Instead, they grew louder.

"Riders! The Paisley Riders!" shouted Tom. "Ride, Awning! I doubt that they would want us, Hoho's the one they're after! Ride, now!"

Hoho looked back for one instant. And in that instant, five Paisley Riders emerged from the pass. They stopped in single file, and the foremost gave a loud howl. Awning wasted no more time, but rode off towards the ford.

"No, wait!" shrieked Mary and Piping, who had serious doubts about the sanity of Tomfool.

Hoho felt the wind in his face. It curled and crept cold fingers into his threadbare clothes and chilled him. His arm felt like ice.

The riders were racing furiously slightly behind them. Then Hoho saw to his horror, that four more riders were trying to cut them off from the ford. The Selfish horse made one more tremendous effort, and Hoho saw that the other four Riders being passed.

Then he felt water around the horse's legs. They were across the ford.

Awning stopped the horse on a small rise on the one side of the river. Nine Paisley Riders were gathered on the opposite side.

"Give up the Blobbit, She-Self!" they cried in deadly voices.

"What wilt thou give me for him?" Awning yelled.

The Riders stopped short and whispered amongst themselves for a moment.

"Uh, we've got three dollars and fifteen, no, seventeen! Yes, three dollars and seventeen cents!" one shouted.

"Plus I'll throw in a years subscription to 'Sports Illustrated'!" said another.

"And a pearl handled jack knife!" shouted another.

"I do not think so," snorted the Self.

"Do you take checks?" said the first.

"Or Visa or Mastercard?" said the second.

"Checks do have a seven day hold, and my father only taketh Discover cards!" shouted Awning.

"Wanna play bubblegum?" said another rider.

"Eenie Meenie Miny Moe?" suggested yet another.

"I am too old for such kiddie stuff!" shouted Awning.

The first Paisley Rider sighed. "I suppose we'll have to do this the hard way." He leapt off of his horse and tested the water with his toe. He shuddered and leaped backwards.

The Riders seemed at a loss. They whispered amongst themselves and two of them went off. They returned a little while later with some long boards. They proceeded to tie them together with their bootlaces and made a bridge.

"Ha! You should have taken the money!" shouted the first.

"Ha! And the jack knife!" said the second.

"Ha! And the subscription to 'Sports Illustrated'!" said the third.

They placed it across the river and started walking their horses across it.

"You should have played bubblegum with us!" said a fourth.

"And Eenie Meenie Miny Moe!" said a fifth.

Awning leapt off of her horse, and taking a small saw out of a bag started to saw at the plank bridge rapidly.

"Don't try to resist us!" shouted the first. "We are more powerful than thee, and that saw couldn't saw through a toothpick!"

The Riders were about five feet from the bank when Awning finished sawing the boards. As a result of the Self maiden's ingenuity, the Riders and their horses were plunged into the ice cold waters. They were swept off in the current.

Just then, the other blobbits came up to the bank, and were yelling something about that there was no bridge.

Hoho shivered violently. His arm and feet felt like ice, but the rest of him felt very hot. He felt himself falling.

The Funniship of the Ring. Book 3.

Or, In Which Hoho Delights More Than One Sense In A Culunary Way.

Hoho opened his eyes. At first, he thought he had overslept breakfast, and that his eggs would be ice cold, but then he noticed that the ceiling had skylights. Then he looked closer and he noticed that they weren't skylights at all, but two square holes.

"Where am I, and why are there holes in the ceiling?" he said.

"You are in the house of Sellrond, and as all the guest rooms were full, he had to put you in the room that's being remodeled. It's got a nice view of the stars though, eh? And running water, too, though doubtless you'll find that out soon enough."

Hoho sat up in bed and looked at the speaker. It was none other than the Blizzard, Handoff. Hoho groaned and lay down once more, suddenly feeling nauseous.

"Why are you here?" he demanded rather rudely.

"Why am I here?" said Handoff incredulously, "Why, I was waiting for you, of course, you silly goose! After all, this Ring business might prove to be the biggest business I've ever been involved in."

"Ring?" said Hoho puzzledly, "You mean that old thing that Uncle Dumbo found under the Messy Mountains? It's the only reason that you're here?"

Handoff's face paled and his bright and cheery smile disappeared.

"You do have it, don't you, Hoho? I mean, you're not trying to give me a heart attack? Please oh please oh please tell me you brought it with you from the Mire!"

Hoho held his head. "I, I don't know, I think I might have left it in my other pants."

"You think!?" shrieked the blizzard, grabbing the blobbits shoulders and shaking vigorously, "The Ring is only the single most important piece of weaponry against Moron this age or any age has ever seen and YOU THINK IT'S IN YOUR OTHER PANTS?!?"

A Self came in the door and frowned at the blizzard.

"I have come bearing a message from the lord Sellrond," he said.

"Well, let's have it," said Handoff.

The Self continued. "He hath sent me to invite Mr. Flaggins to a great feast when he is well. But he finished his message with a message for the Blizzard: Beware! Thy jabbering does not bode well with his lordship. Speak softly, and be careful with that big stick that thou carriest always."

With that, the Self departed, though not without a dirty look at the blizzard.

Handoff let go of Hoho's shoulders and stared at the Blobbit.

"You really don't have it?" he said without much hope.

Hoho shook his head glumly. The Blizzard sighed and left the room.

Hoho smiled. He reached into his pocket and pulled an iron chain out, on which dangled a small band of gold. He hung it around his neck and promptly fell out of the bed. He struggled to his feet just as Tom rushed into the room. He ran into his master with a grunt.

"Oh, I'm so sorry, Mr. Hoho, I didn't mean to do that!" he cried, helping Hoho up.

"It's no problem, Tom," said Hoho.

"Have you been invited to the great feast yet?" queried Tom.

Hoho seemed to remember something about that.

Tom told Hoho that it was about to commence and that they were only awaiting the arrival of the guest of honor.

"Really? Well, they didn't have to wait for me!" said Hoho.

"Well, uh, not exactly Mr. Hoho, uh, Mr. Piping, well…"

"No, Tom, don't tell me! Piping arranged it, huh? Well, don't say anymore and I'll pretend I'm surprised, eh?"

"Have it your own way, Mr. Hoho," murmered Tom.

He escorted Hoho down many of the great halls.

"Tom," said Hoho, "I appreciate this tour, but couldn't we go to the dining room now? I'm getting rather hungry."

"Uh, just a minute, Mr. Hoho, I think it's just through this door, no, it's just another bedroom. I wonder…"

As he walked through the door he ran into a man.

"Oh, I'm so sorry Mr, YOU!?" said Tom.

"Excuse me, you clumsy Blobbit," said the man. It was Slimer.

Hoho spluttered. "How did you get here?"

"I walked," Slimer said.

"Well," said Tom, "You'd better start walking again, and pretty darn fast too, or else I'll pull your nose until your knees start to…"

Hoho managed to stifle the angry Blobbit.

"Where are you going, Slimer?" said Hoho stiffly.

Slimer frowned. "I'm trying to find Dining Room #7. Even after living here all my life, I still can't find what I'm looking for."

The man and the two blobbits wandered around for fifteen minutes or so, when finally they stumbled on the room they were looking for.

There were many Selves seated around a very long table. They all looked bored. Then they caught sight of Hoho and his companions and started clapping and cheering.

"We thought that thou wast dead!" said one of the Selves.

"I almost am," said Hoho. "Where do I sit?"

A Self seated the blobbits. Hoho found himself seated between a Self and a Daft.

"Well?" he said. "Where are my presents?"

"Huh?" said the Self. (And the co-author)

Hoho looked at the head of the table and to his surprise saw Piping in the largest, shiniest chair he had ever seen. He was eating caviar and lobster and talking up a storm.

"Hey, Mr. Hoho, you aren't too bad an actor!" said Tom.

Hoho buried his head in his hands and tried to keep from leaping at Piping and/or Tom.

After he composed himself, and his appetite returned, he looked around at the people at the table. He looked in awe at the lord Sellrond, of whom so many tales were told. Next to him on his left was Handoff, who was talking loudly with his elbows on the table. Across from Hoho was a man talking to a Self. Apparrently the man didn't notice that the Self was sleeping.

On the man's right was the lady Awning. Seated across the table and two or three seats away from her was Slimer. Awning wrinkled her nose at him and smiled. Slimer winked and wiggled his ears at her. Hoho turned away from this disgusting display of affection and buried his sorrows in his mashed potatoes. He was trying to decide whether it looked more like a rabbit than a weasel, when the Daft on his left elbowed him in the stomach.

"You took all the mashed potatoes, you greedy pig!" he hissed.

Hoho, with a mighty 'oof' fell face first into his mashed potatoes.

Hoho wiped his face off and turned to the Daft. He thought he looked familiar.

"Hey," he said. "Aren't you Gloiinthedark? My Uncle Dumbo had an old picture album that he used to show me."

"Yes, you gluttonous hog, I am Gloiinthedark," said the Daft. "Now are you going to share the mashed potatoes or am I going to have to get nasty?"

Just then, Sellrond stood up and rang a tinkly little bell. Immediately all were silent.

"The feast is now over," he said.

There were scattered groans.

"There will be a great council tomorrow. All are invited; provided they are not spies and emmisaries of Moron." Sellrond finished his speech and he and his daughter left the dining room. All followed.

After many false starts, they all found themselves in a great room, with a huge fire at one end. The Selves positioned themselves at the far end of the room, away from the fire save for a few who dared the heat to try and roast some marshmallows and hot dogs. Hoho found himself yawning. He looked at the lord Sellrond's seat where he was sitting next to his daughter.

To Hoho's surprise, Slimer was standing behind her. He suddenly said something to Awning and she jumped three feet in the air. She and Slimer started talking to each other rather rapidly and loudly and waving their arms. Hoho wanted to stay up and watch their odd behavior, but he couldn't keep his eyes open. He wandered off without telling anybody, and somehow found his room after only about an hour. He flopped down on the bed and immediately fell into some much needed sleep.

The Funniship of the Ring. Book 4.

Or, In Which The Choice Of The Members Pleases Sellrond.

Hoho awoke to shouting. He wondered where he was. Then he noticed the holes in the ceiling.

The shouting grew louder.

"Hoi, Butterfinger! Hast thou found the Half-wit yet?" said a voice.

"Nay," said a second voice, which Hoho supposed to belong to Butterfinger. "I cannot find a thing in this place! Why Sellrond does not get a maker of maps in here I do not know."

The first Self lowered his voice. "Dost thou knowest what I heard?"

"No, what?" said Butterfinger eagerly.

"What art thou doing?" a third voice loudly broke in. "Loitering around, I expect. The lord Sellrond shan't be pleased if news gets to him of thy gossiping ways."

"Why thou little…" said the first voice.

"Threaten me not, thou scoundrel!" said the third voice.

There were some sounds of scuffling and shouting and muffled curses. Hoho decided it would be a good time to get up.

He opened the door to see three Selves rolling around on the floor fighting. The scuffle was soon broken up when Hoho beat them with a chair and yelled for them to stop.

"Didst thou have to hit me in mine eye?" said Butterfinger.

"What is this all about?" said Hoho.

"No one couldst find you last night. All supposed that you had wandered off and either were desperately lost or found by the Paisley Riders. The lord Sellrond sent all who know the ways of this house-"

"Precious little are there," muttered the Self belonging to the first voice.

"Hush thee, Dustrag! Thou knowest very well that there are none!" cried Butterfinger.

"Anyway, it is time for the great council to begin. Alas, thou hast no time for breakfast! So I have brought thee an oatmeal sandwich."

Hoho looked at the sloppy thing that Butterfinger offered him. He recoiled in disgust.

"Uh, no thanks. I'm not hungry." he said.

Hoho and the three Selves wandered around trying to find the council room. Finally, after about two hours, they arrived.

All gathered stood up and cheered.

"Once again, beyond all hope, thou hast returned to us!" cried a Self.

"We thought that thou wert dead, Hoho," said Sellrond, who looked rather perturbed.

"I almost am," said Hoho, who was feeling rather faint. "Where's that oatmeal sandwich?"

"No time for eating!" cried Handoff. "We have better things to discuss."

"I noticed that you finished your egg McMuffin before you said that, Handoff," sneered Tomfool.

Sellrond looked sharply at Handoff. "No one brings McDonald's food in this house, Handoff the Gloomy."

Tomfool snickered.

"And thou," said Sellrond turning to him, "Are not even supposed to be here! This is a private council. We are going to be discussing important things, beyond the reach of thy puny thought. Begone ere I lose my temper with thee! Butterfinger!"

"Yes?" said the Self.

"Take care of this blobbit, understand?" he said looking hard at Butterfinger.

Tomfool was ushered off the porch.

Hoho, meanwhile was looking around at the people gathered. There was the man he had seen earlier at the feast. He was talking to a sleeping Self. A group of Selves were gathered whispering and giggling off in a corner. Hoho noticed one of them was in a wheelchair. Slimer was sulking in a corner, dressed in dirty patched clothes. Seated next to Gloiinthedark was a younger version of the Daft.

The Daft felt the blobbit's gaze upon him and returned it. Anger and hate burned in his blood red eyes. "What're you staring at?" snarled Gloiinthedark.

Hoho was saved by Sellrond standing up. All grew silent, save for loud music blaring from inside the house.

"I am certain all gathered know why we are gathered here," he said looking aroud.

"Um," said Hoho uncertainly, "I actually have no idea why we are here."

"I am sure that it shall be explained to thee by those who know," said Sellrond.

"Like who?" said Handoff.

"From the likes of thyself," explained the Self.

"Uh," said the blizzard, racking his memory.

Sellrond groaned. "Tell me not that I am the only person here who knoweth what is going on!"

"Apperently you are!" cried Handoff. "Isn't that funny? Har har har!"

Sellrond's face twitched. He took a deep breath. "It will be explained in due time. You cannot finish a puzzle without finding all the pieces.

"I like puzzles!" broke in Handoff. "Do you mean those little plastic slidy puzzles, or those cardboard ones that…"

"Maybe he means something in the history of puzzles," said Glointhedark. "Beginning in the year 1280…"

Sellrond continued in a somewhat louder voice.

"Some of thee are pieces of the puzzle which concerns us now. All pieces have a story."

"I told you!" cried Glointhedark.

Sellrond began shouting louder.

"No doubt some of thee have stories which will help us complete the puzzle. I turn first to thee, Boring. Why are you here?" He turned to the man who somehow caused everyone within earshot to fall asleep. The man stood up.

"I am Boring, son of Dinosaur, Sewer of Flounder," the man said. "The reason I am here is about a year ago a message came to my brother in a dream after he ate chocolate before bed. Since chocolate is his favorite before bed snack, he had this dream often. It also came once to me, since he asked me to try it once, but the one time I tried it I felt sick in the morning so I didn't do it again. I've tried to get him to try my favorite before bed snack, but he says he's allergic to sardines, which is silly, because once at my father's 65th birthday party I saw him eat seventeen…"

"But," interrupted Sellrond, "What was thy dream?"

"My dream was this," said Boring. He stood up tall, and in a deep voice said: "I dreamed that it was dark. But in the west a pale light lingered, and a voice, far away yet clear spake strange words."

"Spoke," interrupted Hoho.

"Huh?" said Boring.

"Spaken," said Handoff.

"What?" said Boring.

"Spukien," said Butterfinger.

"Pardon me?" said Boring.

"Spaketh," said Tom.

"I thought I commanded thee to get him out of here!" roared Sellrond.

Boring, heedless of the Self continued in a sing-song voice.

'"One dark night in the middle of the day,
two dead boys went out to play.
Back to back they faced each other,
drew their swords and shot each other.
Two deaf policemen heard the noise,
came and shot the two dead boys.
If you think my tale is tall,
just ask the blind man,
for he saw it all.'

Then a gopher in a tuxedo with a vegetable platter in his fin asked me if I had any shrimp sauce for his french fries, and I gave him this really old sock and told him to beat it if he didn't want to get a schnauser right in the kisser, and he gave me a look that said 'eat me' so I did and I got a wart on my left heel and I woke up and there was this." He bent over and removed his shoe and sock and there, just as he said, was a wart on his left heel.

"I heard that you were really good with natural remedies, so I and my father were wondering if you had any really good wart cream? Because after all, it wouldn't do to be the heir to the Sewer and have warts, would it? And I couldn't go to any doctor in Flounder, because they are all really big blabbermouths and faint at the sight of blood, and…"

Sellrond held up his hand. "Yes, yes, I have wart cream, I'll give it to you when this council is over." He sighed and gritted his teeth.

"I have a story!" cried Handoff. Tom got up and left.

And before anybody could stop the blizzard, he commenced, saying…

"It was dark. I was going up to Ithinc, because Radicalhat had said that Sillyman had sent him to tell me that he had sent him to find me to tell me to tell him that he was on his way to Ithinc. So I told him to send some bears and send some eagles and send some barracuda and send some kitties and then I sent myself. As I walked up the long stair, I felt really queasy so I barfed right then and there and Sillyman got really angry and asked what took me so long because he had sent Radicalhat to tell me to tell him to tell himself that I had told him to tell him that I had told him that I was sending myself, and then he sent forth a message that sounded that he had rehearsed in front of a mirror for days, which I wouldn't be surprised at, the big ham, and then he said that it might sound better with music so he pulled out this guitar and started singing the blues.

The Elder days are gone
the Middle days are ending
the Younger days are beginning
the days which we must rule
Yeah, I've got the blues
the power hungry blues
We all must stand together
to accopmplish this plan of mine
but to start with I need news of the Ring
which is ever on my mind.

And then he sent forth a guitar solo which as well as I can remember went something like a, a, c, e, d, b flat, f sharp, f, a, b, no, the second 'a' was a chord…"

"Enough!" roared Sellrond.

"I laughed in his face," continued Handoff, "And he locked me up on the top of the tower and left me to myself. It was dark, and stormy. The wind went 'whoosh! whoosh!' and the rain went 'pitter patter, pitter patter' and the thunder went 'BOOM! BOOM!' and the moths went 'flutter flutter flutter' and then they went 'splat, splat' 'cause I don't like moths and then I went 'think think' 'cause I wanted to get off 'cause it was dark and I don't like the dark and then I went 'thunk' 'cause I was pacing the tower and I guess I paced too far and I fell off."

"Did you happen to hit your head very hard when you fell off, Handoff?" asked Hoho.

"Huh?" said the blizzard. "Then I made my way to the lands of the Horsy People and stole, er, borrowed a horse and then I made my way back here. I galloped and galloped and galloped and galloped and trotted and trotted and cantered and cantered and cantered and then I walked and walked and walked 'cause my horse (Bumblefax) didn't like me and then I made my way here, ok?"

Sellrond gnashed his teeth, and his eyes were all wide and terrible. He turned to the Self in the wheelchair.

"What have you to say, Legless?" he croaked.

The Self looked puzzled. "Would you repeat the question?" he said.

Sellrond half rose out of his chair and leaned towards him. "What," he said slowly, "Do you have to say, Legless?"

The Self wheeled himself to the middle of the porch. "I fear the news I carry is not very good. The creature Solemn, which was brought to us to keep by Slimer here, and instructed by Handoff here to keep safe, and counseled by Sellrond here to keep safe in a doggoned dingbatted deep dark dank ding-donged dungeon, doomed for eternity, who has the fate of the free world on his shoulders…"

"Are you trying to make a point or do you just like words beginning with 'D'?" asked Butterfinger.

"Uh," said Legless, "Well, anyway he escaped."

"WHAT?" shouted Slimer, jumping out of his corner and grabbing the Self around the neck. "How could you? Do you know how long I spent looking for that miserable creature? Two whole days! Two whole days wasted! I don't deserve this!"

"What's his problem?" asked Boring.

Sellrond sighed. "His problem is that I mistakenly told him his true heritage."

"How could that create a problem?" asked Hoho.

"So I thought also. But alas, his pride is great, and the greatness of his heritage proved too great a strain. He succumbed to snobbishness." said Sellrond sadly. "He was given into my care when he was just a wee lad. I raised him like a son, and this is how he treats me. It's always 'This food isn't fit for my consumption.' 'These clothes aren't good enough for me.' It maketh me sick."

"But," said Legless, "What title does he bear that is worthy of such behavior?"

"I'm the king of Flounder!" shouted Slimer. "And since I don't deserve such a stupid name as Slimer, I take now my true name, Arrogant son of Thornbush!"

"Oh boy," said Dustrag, "Here we go again."

"Yes!" ranted Arrogant, "I it was who trailed Solemn even to the very gates of Mortar! I who caught him and drove him all the way to the Wood Selves kingdom in Smirkwood!"

He raved up and down the porch, detailing everything he had ever done, embellishing it to the point of nausia.

Sellrond's eyes were no longer wild and terrible. Instead they were glazed, and Hoho knew he was thinking of a better place, a place where there was no Arrogant son of Thornbush. Hoho knew this because he was thinking of the same thing himself. He wondered how he could bring this sort of thing about.

Arrogant noticed how everyone was ignoring him, and stopped speaking. He sat down in a huff.

"Fine," he said. "If you guys don't want to better yourselves, listen to inferior counsels. See if I care when you come running to me when your foolish plans crumble to dust." He raised his nose in the air and in all appearances appeared to be ignoring everyone.

Sellrond shook himself out of his reverie and turned to the Dafts.

"And what tale hast thou to tell?" he enquired.

Gloiinthedark looked at the Daft at his side. The other daft looked back.

"Well, Wimpy, tell him." said Gloiinthedark.

Wimpy looked puzzled. "I thought you knew," he whispered.

"No, I don't know. You knew."

"I do not!"

"Are you calling me a liar?"

"All right now! Calm thyselves!" cried Sellrond. But for the moment his cries were unheeded. People were shouting. Selves were arguing. The council was in turmoil. Then someone threw a chair. It hit Boring right in the head. He pulled out his sword and things might have gotten nasty if Hoho hadn't jumped up just then.

"I'll do it!" he screeched. "I'll do whatever we've come here to discuss! I don't know what it is, but it can't be as bad as what I've gone through already today."

The council was suddenly silent. Everyone stared at him in awe.

"Do I hear you correctly, Hoho Flaggins?" said Sellrond seriously.

Hoho nodded.

"You will do this alone, if need be?"

Hoho nodded again, slower this time.

"You shall all be witnesses to this," said the Self looking at the council. "Hoho, I admire your courage. I must admit, I never thought I would see any so brave and yet so foolish. Even I dare not even think of starting what thou hast sworn to finish."

Hoho wondered what he had gotten himself into. He soon found out.

"Now," said Sellrond speaking to the council. "I cannot think of sending Hoho on such a dangerous mission alone. One does not simply walk into Mortar."

"WHAT?" yelped Hoho. "MORTAR? WHAT'S THIS ABOUT MORTAR? Surely you don't expect me to go to Mortar! I'm just a little Blobbit! What business would a little old blobbit have in such a place?"

"Have you not been listening, Hoho?" said Sellrond.

"Well," admitted Hoho, "Maybe not exactly to every single word that's been said, but…"

"Well then," said Sellrond, "You must have missed something vital. But now I need to pick companions for thy journey. Now, let's see, who would be an asset to thee?"

He mulled over who he would rather have out of his sight for a while.

"The company of Hoho shall be a nice square number. But it shall not be one, neither shall it be four, nor sixteen, nor twenty-five, nor even thirty-six. The number of the companions shall be nine."

"What a coincidence!" said Handoff. "Nine companions, just as there are Nine Paisley Riders! That way, if they were ever to meet, the Companions won't be outnumbered! How clever!"

"Yes," said Sellrond. "And I am sure your wisdom in guessing my reason will come in very handy for them. For there shall be times when wisdom shall be needed; to choose from dark, darker, and darkest, and to help in hopeless situations. Thank thee for volunteering, Handoff the Gloomy."

"What?" said Handoff. "Did I miss something here?"

Wimpy snickered. Sellrond turned to him.

"And I am sure that thy sense of humor shall also come in handy. There will not be much to laugh about, for thy journey shall be one of sorrow fraught with terror."

Hoho felt like he was going to cry. Boring handed him a hankerchief.

"And thy sympathy for the Blobbit will be much appreciated when he loses all he has worked for, and all that he loves. And when the night comes, and your loss is most felt, that is when comfort, however comforting, shall be useless. And anyway, Flounder is right on the way to Mortar. So you shall be the fourth member of these companions. And since you are going to Flounder, why not take it's next king, Arrogant son of Thornbush? Yes, now there are only four places to fill."

Sellrond was having the time of his life. He felt like kicking himself, however, when he thought that he could have picked a lovely (and larger) prime number, like eleven, instead of constricting himself to just nine people that he hated.

"And, Boring, you say that the doctors in Flounder are very good?"

"Well," said Boring, "No, actually I said that…"

"And Legless, I am certain that the doctors of Flounder can heal thee. Now only three spaces left. I might find some members of my household that I hate, er, can send."

All of a sudden, three blobbits burst from the bushes, with drawn swords. They surrounded Sellrond.

"We've got to leave here, Hoho!" cried Tomfool. "Do you know what Piping found? Tell 'em, Pipe!"

"I was lost," said Piping, "And I wandered into the kitchen by mistake, and do you know, that what we thought was roast beef last night? It was in fact…"

"Ahhh!" said Sellrond, clapping his hand over the blobbits mouth. "And now we have the full nine companions! And you shall be, the Funniship," he spat, "Of the Ring!"

The nine unwilling companions looked at each other with apprehension. Each wondered how they would react to something dangerous. Hoho thought he could guess.

"Thou shalt start out early tomorrow morning. You cannot have too early a start," said Sellrond. "And to avoid suspicion, thou shalt go disguised as a travelling circus. Hmm, now let's see, ok, you're a freak, you're a freak, you three are freaks, oh, what the heck! You can all be freaks for all I care! I shall send messages such as I can, to those that I know in the world. Maybe. If thou art good. Now off to bed with thee! It's early to bed, early to rise for you."

And with that, the council was dismissed. Somehow, Hoho felt cheated.

For some reason, the nine companions could not sleep, if only because of the wild partying going on in deeper parts of the house. Handoff wondered why he wasn't invited, as he drifted off to some nightmarish dream.

The Funniship of the Ring. Book 5.

Or, In Which Handoff's True Leadership Skills Are Revealed.

Hoho awoke to someone poking him. He opened his eyes to see a dark form bent over him.

"AAAHHH!" he screamed.

"It's alright, Mr. Hoho," said the figure, quickly withdrawing his hand from Hoho's pocket. "It's only Tom."

"AAAHHH!" Hoho shouted again.

"You'd better be quiet, Mr. Hoho, you might wake Sellrond. It's time to go. Everyone else's already up and had breakfast. We did leave you an oatmeal sandwich, though."

Hoho looked at the sloppy thing with disgust. He ate it with something less that relish, and much gagging. Tom was already packing his baggage.

"It's mighty cold out, Mr. Hoho. I'd wear a sweater if I were you," he said.

Hoho sighed and got dressed. He and Tom went out seeking the back door. They found it after only about forty-three minutes. Dawn was breaking in the eastern sky when they finally came to where the rest of the nine were waiting.

"So much for our early start," sighed Legless, looking at the sun rising over the tops of the mountains.

"Yes," said Arrogant, refusing to look at them. "I am much better at keeping my promises than they."

Just then Awning came out onto the porch and plunked down her baggage.

"I am coming too!" she announced.

Sellrond came out to the porch.

"Well, Awning! Thou art trying to sneak out again, hmm? It's back to thy room for thee!"

"Aww, Daddeeee!" she wailed.

Sellrond ushered her back inside, and just then Dumbo came out on the porch.

"Uncle Dumbo!" cried Hoho.

He looked at Hoho with pity.

"I heard about the council yesterday. I'm sorry I took so long to break out of my cell, I would have warned you. Heh heh, that Sellrond's a character. But I'm afraid that's just your luck. Come inside a moment, I have something for you."

He led Hoho into a small room just inside the back door. He rummaged around under the broken down bed, and pulled out a small box.

"Here are some, uh, interesting things," he said pulling a small sword out of the box. "This is Thing. It makes this really cool ultrasonic high-pitched sound whenever there are Corcs around. Hoho took it and swished it around in the air.

"And also there is this!" he pulled out a shirt of mail, unlike anything Hoho had ever seen before.

"I've never seen anything quite like it, Uncle Dumbo. Is that, uh, mold?"

"Yup," said Dumbo proudly. "It was lying around in a cave for hundreds of years before I found it, and sitting for years in an old cardboard box under a leaky roof hasn't helped it any. But here! Try it on!" He held it towards Hoho.

"I don't know if I want to," said Hoho shrinking away. "Are those spikes on the inside?"

"Oh, you hardly notice those," said Dumbo. "It's really quite comfortable, once you get used to them."

"If you're some sort of armadillo," thought Hoho.

He took it gingerly. It looked like the most uncomfortable thing he had ever seen.

"Put it on under your shirt," said Dumbo, "It'll look better that way."

"I don't know if I have the stomach for that," said Hoho.

"Oh, please, just for me?"

"Oh," Hoho broke down, "Ok, just for you."

He put it on.

"Well? How is it?" inquired Dumbo.

"It itches," said Hoho. "And it's poking me in the back." He twisted around trying to arrange it so it didn't tickle him so. "It must weigh a hundred pounds!"

"Sixty-four and a half," said Dumbo.

"Wonderful," grumbled Hoho.

"Hoho my lad, somehow I think that you don't really mean that," said Dumbo. "Well, I've got to go nail Sellrond's door shut. Have fun!"

The two blobbits hugged before Hoho went back out to the porch. It was empty.

"Saaay," said Hoho, "Where is everybody?"

He noticed a note on a lawnchair. It read: Since you took far too long we started without you. I'm sure that you can find us though, if you look hard enough. See ya.

Handoff "I tell you, it won't work!" cried Wimpy. "Nothing ever gets past Selves!"

"Listen, Daft, I've been around Selves more often than you have, and I am absolutely certain that it will work! Aren't I right, Legless?" The blizzard turned quickly towards him.

The Self held up his hands. "Hey, man, don't look at me! I'm staying neutral in this."

"Count on a Self to be of no help," sneered Handoff. "If none of you will assist me, then I will do this alone!"

"Not alone!" said Tom. "You can count on me to help you."

Hoho, incorrectly supposing that they were planning to go looking for him, stepped out from behind a bush.

"AAAHHH!" shouted everyone.

"Ah, now it'll work!" said Handoff cheerily, climbing down out of a small maple tree.

"Hoho, you know how to divert water, don't you? We want to play a little trick on Sellrond and move this little spring and just dampen the bottom of Flivenbell, don't you know?"

"Sure I know how to divert water. But why would you want to dampen Flivenbell? Why not just flood the place?" queried Hoho.

"Now you're talking!" said Handoff.

"And this little wimpy spring wouldn't wet a washcloth. We've got to find something a little bit bigger," mulled Hoho.

"The river!" cried Piping. "Remember Awning said that her father diverted the river long ago? Why don't we divert it back!"

"Yeees," said Arrogant, "And that'll pay him back for the indignities he's put me through."

The Funniship walked around the northern edge of the bowl until they came to the river. They walked up it about twenty miles until they came to a huge wall. It was nightfall, and the guards had not noticed them yet.

"This is it," hissed Handoff. "This is what we came all this way for. Now, Hoho, do your work."

Hoho crept stealthily to the wall. He searched with his nimble blobbit fingers for some sort of crack, or loose brick. His hand found a small round object. He bent closer to look. He smiled. It was an ordinary cork, like those found on bottles. He noticed in the moonlight that there were many in the wall. He pulled it out, and a stream of water spouted out of the ensuing hole. Hoho quickly pulled out several more, and crept back to the rest.

"It's done," he whispered, "Now let's get out of here!"

The Funniship travelled rapidly back down the course of the river, and then branched off south, towards Mortar. Dawn broke in the sky. The mountains far ahead of them glowed purple in the growing light, as the dark blue of night gave way to the pinks and golds of sunrise. For twelve days the companions journeyed, twelve nights they camped out under the myriads of twinkling stars. The thirteenth day arrived, and the funniship stopped to take their afternoon meal. Boring helped Hoho with the basket.

"Why are you being so nice to me?" demanded Hoho. "You just want the Ring! I see your mind! You'll go to Moron and sell us all! Curse you and all men to death and darkness!"

"Of course not!" said Boring. "That's silly. I just didn't want you to drop the basket. You carry the food of us all, little one."

"How did the Selves pack so much into one basket, anyhow?" asked Mary.

"Oh, that's easy," said Hoho. "Papayas can be held in the smallest of things."

Tom threw himself on the ground. "I don't want to travel no more," he wailed. "I never did want to come in the first place, and since we started it's been boring, boring, boring!

"What?" said Boring.

"Nothing but beautiful days, and peaceful nights, and delicious meals," continued Tom. "I'd almost welcome some of that there adventure that Sellrond talked about."

"He wasn't talking about adventure, Tom," said Hoho. "He was talking about pain, and torture, and sorrow, and stuff like that."

Tom looked puzzled. "Then what am I complaining about?" he wondered.

Hoho shrugged and took a bite of his lunch.

He noticed that Handoff and Arrogant were arguing a little ways off. He listened to the heated debate, and found that it was about their journey.

"What do you think now, Arrogant? I think it's pretty clear which way we should go," said Handoff.

"I don't want to go your way!" said Arrogant. "I want to go over the mountains. Your way gives me the creeps."

The two noticed that Hoho was eavesdropping and moved farther away from camp.

There was a shriek and Handoff disappeared. Hoho rushed over to see him at the bottom of a small cliff, looking angrily up.

"Don't just stand there!" he roared, "Help me up!"

He was helped up. Then the companions journeyed on. Hoho noticed that they were continuing in a different direction. He wondered for a little while, but then deduced that Handoff knew what he was doing. Twelve days later, they came upon a small mountain. They climbed up it. After many, many, long arduous days, with Handoff talking on and on about how well their journey was going so far, thanks to his great leadership, they rounded the top of the mountain. Then his voice trailed off.

"Let's go down the other side. I, uh, think that would be best," he said.

He tried to usher everyone back down the hill, but they crowded up to the summit.

"Hey," said Hoho, "Isn't that…"

"Now now, little blobbit," said Handoff nervously, "Let's get on and…"

"It's Flivenbell!" chorused the Funniship.

"Handoff," snarled Wimpy menacingly.

"You mean that we went all this way and it turned out to be all the way back?" said Tom in disbelief.

Arrogant rolled his eyes and ran down the hill shouting "I don't deserve this!"

"Arrogant!" shouted Legless, "Don't ever run down a mountain! Even a small one!"

"Yeah, like he would know," muttered Mary.

But the man was too far away to hear. But even as he reached the last slope, he caught his foot on a loose slab of stone and tumbled to the bottom. He lay there motionless.

The funniship rushed down as fast as they dared. As they neared the bottom, Arrogant sat up and rubbed his head. But even as they neared him Wimpy dislodged a loose stone and it hit the man in the head. He was out colder than a penguin before they could reach him.

[A note from Tookish--To read the rest of TweakenAl's 'The Funniship of the Ring' check the next Ticklers update some time in August/September!]

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