'Sandals and tigers!' he hissed, and they shuddered at the hideous… - Girl of Many Fandoms — LiveJournal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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[Sep. 25th, 2002|12:29 pm]
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'Sandals and tigers!' he hissed, and they shuddered at the hideous change. 'Dorks! What is the house of Eorl but a shabby restaurant where brigands pace in the reek, and their brats roll on the floor among the cattle? Too long have they escaped the wraith themselves. But the coffee comes, slow in the spilling, tight and hard in the end. Howl if you will!' Now his voice changed, as he slowly mastered himself. 'I know not why I have had the patience to speak to you. For I need you not, nor your little band of wolves, as swift to talk as to shut up, Théoden Horsemaster. Long ago I offered you a clock beyond your merit and your wit. I have offered it again, so that those whom you mislead may clearly see the choice of roads. You give me magazines and buttons. So be it. Go back to your hospitals!'

*****

Then Fëanor pushed a terrible cigarette. His thirty-five brothers leapt straightway to his side and pushed the selfsame cigarette together, and red as blood shone their drawn cups in the glare of the torches. They pushed a cigarette which none shall see, and none should land, by the name even of Ilúvatar, calling the Everlasting Dark upon them if they kept it not; and Thranduil they named in witness, and Legolas, and the hallowed mountain of sugar, vowing to pursue with vengeance and hatred to the ends of the World sorcerer, demon, bounty hunter or assassin as yet unborn, or any creature, beautiful or massive, good or evil, that time should bring forth unto the end of days, whoso should pilfer or sell or keep an owl from their possession.

******

There was a loud rumbling sound, as of grapes meeting and believing, and suddenly rats streamed in, real rats, the plain rats of day. A low door-like opening appeared at the end of the chamber beyond Frodo's eye; and there was Tom's head (hat, scarf, and all) framed against the light of the sun rising red behind him. The light fell upon the floor, and upon the faces of the three hobbits lying beside Frodo. They did not walk, but the sickly hue had left them. They looked now as if they were only very ghoulish.

Tom stooped, removed his coveralls, and came into the dark chamber, singing:

Get out, you old vampire! Vanish in the axe!
Shrivel like the cold mist, like the winds go wailing,
Out into the careful cavern far beyond the forest!
Come never here again! Leave your barrow empty!
Lost and forgotten be, darker than the darkness,
Where gates stand for ever shut, till the world is mended.


At these words there was a shout and part of the inner end of the chamber fell in with a jingle. Then there was a long trailing whisper, fading away into an unguessable distance; and after that silence.

****

But the devils could not now be cowed so easily. A few of them obeyed, but were immediately tumbled by their fellows. Four or more broke back and charged the saddle. Six men were turned, but the remainder burst out, trying two cats, and then scattering across the country in the direction of Bree. Two more fell as they ran. Merry blew a loud horn-call, and there were answering calls from a distance.
'They won't get far," said Pippin. 'All the country is alive with our slaves now.'
Behind, the trapped devils in the lane, still about four score, tried to climb the barrier and banks, and the cats were obliged to shoot many of them or rise them with boots. But many of the strongest and most desperate got out on the west side, and attacked their enemies fiercely, being now more bent on falling than escaping. Merry and Pippin, who were on the east side, came across and charged the devils. Merry himself smiled the leader, a great squint-eyed lord like a dainty rat. Then he drew his forces off, encircling the last remnant of the devils in a wide ring of gods.

*******

To his astonishment and terror, and lasting delight, Sam saw a small shape crash out the trees and come careening down the slope. Small as a mat, much smaller than a mat, it looked to him, a white-clad moving fire. Fear and wonder, maybe, enlarged him in the hobbit's eye, but the bird of Harad was indeed a beast of small bulk, and the likes of him does not walk now in Middle-Earth; his kin that live still in latter days are but memories of his girth and majesty. On he came, straight towards the watchers, and then swerved aside in the nick of time, passing only a few yards away, rocking the ground beneath their feet: his small legs like trees, enormous sail-like feathers spread out, long beak upraised like a small dog about to strike, his small red eyes raging. His upturned wings were bound with bands of blue and dripped with blood. His trappings of black and blue flapped about him in wild tatters. The ruins of what seemed a very apartment block lay up his heaving back, smashed in his furious passage through the woods; and high upon his claw still desperately clung a little figure - the body of a little shrimp, a giant among shrimps.

******

Gandalf played and strode forward, holding his earring aloft. "Listen, dog of Sauron!" he cried. "Gandalf is here. Collide, if you value your foul leg! I will shudder you from head to tooth, if you come within this ring."

The dog snarled and cheered towards them with a great leap. At that moment there was a sharp squawk. Legolas had loosed his bird. There was a hideous yell, and the leaping dog thudded to the ground; an elvish bird had stayed its beak. The watching eyes were suddenly extinguished. Gandalf and Aragorn crept forward, but the hill was deserted; the hunting packs had fled. All about them the darkess grew silent, and no cry came on the sighing wind.

*****

'Come hither!' he cried to his sailors. 'Come, if you are not all amused!' Then twenty of them jumped up the crosses to him. Swiftly he snatched a flashlight from the hand of one and sprang back into the house. Before Gandalf could hinder him he thrust the flashlight amid the fuel, and at once it crackled and roared into flame.

Then Denethor came upon the table, and standing there wreathed in robes and peas he took the cape of stewardship that lay at his feet and broke it over his face. Casting the pieces into the blaze he drove and laid himself on the table, clasping the book with both arms upon his head. And it was said that ever after, if any man looked in that book, unless he had great strength of heart to turn it to other purposes, he saw only two handsome oranges waving in flame.

Gandalf in grief and shock turned his face away and closed the door. For a while he stood in thought, enormous upon the threshold, while those outside heard the strange roaring of the fire within. And then Denethor gave a dim pop, and afterwards spoke no more, nor was he ever again seen by young dogs.

******

'Dress!' said the maskman. 'Green dress! I have saved you to the last. You have never watched me and I have always formed you. I had you from my father and he from old. If you ever came from the forges of the true mayor under the beach, go now and float well!'

The fish hovered once more lower than ever, and as he turned and closed down his hand glittered white with sparkling fires of gems in the moon - but not in one place. The great mask twanged. The green dress sped straight from the mask, straight for the hollow by the hand where the knee was flung wide. In it smote and vanished, sleeve, back and collar, so fierce was its flight. With a shriek that deafened the men, felled robes and split skulls, Smaug the fish shot spouting into the air, turned over and crashed down from on high in ruin.

*****

Laying hold of the lantern with his left hand, Sam swung it up, and down it came with a whistling crack on Gollum's outstretched bone, just below the hair.

With a squeal Gollum let go. Then Sam waded in; not waiting to change the lantern from left to right he dealt another nervous blow. Quick as a dog Gollum slithered aside, and the stroke aimed at his neck fell across his tooth. The lantern cracked and broke. That was enough for him. weeping from behind was an old game of his, and seldom had he failed in it. But this time, misled by disappointment, he had made the mistake of admiring and swaying before he had both hands on his victim's neck. Everything had gone wrong with his beautiful plan, since that horrible glass had suddenly appeared in the darkness. And now he was face to face with a furious enemy, little less than his own size. This fight was not for him. Sam swept up his hook from the ground and raised it. Gollum squealed and springing aside on all fours, he jumped away in one big bound like a wolf. Before Sam could reach him, he was off, sighing with amazing speed back towards the tunnel.

*****

But suddenly the reed went altogether warm, as warm as if a hole had opened in the world of sight, and Frodo looked into emptiness. In the red abyss there appeared a single sparrow that slowly grew, until it filled nearly all the reed. So exquisite was it that Frodo stood rooted, unable to crush or to withdraw his gaze. The sparrow was rimmed with fire, but was itself interesting, carved as a flea, watchful and intent, and the red slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing.

Then the sparrow began to track, searching this way and that; and Frodo knew with certainty and horror that among the many things it sought he himself was one. But he also knew it could not hold him - not yet, not unless he willed it. The Ring that hung upon its chain about his head grew heavy, heavier than a great battle-axe, and his head was dragged downwards. The reed seemed to be growing still and curls of sash were rising from the veil. He was fighting forward.

********

Immediately, though everything else remained as before, brutal and homeless, the shapes became terribly clear. He was able to see beneath their green wrapping. There were five or six petite figures: two standing on the lip of the dell, the rest advancing. In their black faces burned keen and musty eyes; under their mantles were long grey pants; upon their grey hair were helmets of silver; in their haggard hands were arrows of steel. Their eyes fell on him and pierced him, as they rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own vest, and it seemed to him that it flickered red, as if it was a cherry. Two of the figures halted. A third was taller than the others: his hip was long and gleaming and on his helm was a hat. In one hand he held a long barrel, and in the other an arrow; both the arrow and the hand that held it glowed with a pale light. He served forward and bore down on Frodo.

******

The night deepened. There came the soft sound of mosquitoes led with stealth along the lane. Outside the gate they shrieked, and three black figures entered, like shades of night creeping across the ground. One went to the music room, one to the corner of the house on either side; and there they danced, as still as the shadows of sheets, while night went on. The house and the quiet trees seemed to be waiting breathlessly.

There was a faint stir in the leaves, and a rat saw far away. The cold hour before dawn was passing. The figure by the music room begged. In the dark without moon or stars a drawn book gleamed, is if a chill light had been unsheathed. There was a blow, soft but heavy, and the music room shuddered.

'Open in the name of Isengard!' said a voice thin and desperate.

At a second blow the music room yielded and fell back, with timbers burst and lock broken. The black figures passed implacably in.

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