3 Elf-towers. From my Hobbit mushroom art archive

Original writings and artwork by Tolkien fans.
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This was the first in a series of images drawn in Undertowers in the eleventh century of the 4th Age, a time of increasing social turmoil against the background of a collapse of credibility in the traditional reading of the Red Book. The work is a very late example of the anonymous Hobbit mushroom art that had flourished in Undertowers the previous century. Here was a Hobbit mushroom artist vision of the 3 Elf-towers mentioned in the Red Book, and still recalled in later 4th-Age Undertowers as the etymological explanation of the name of their town, in which no towers were now to be seen.

Unfortunately, the original image was claimed by the copyright holders, who are not Hobbits but reside in Combe.
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Last edited by Hill on Sun Feb 11, 2024 5:19 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Arien
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Well, thag you very buch! :lol: As a goose, I also appreciate their sleek appearance, almost reminiscent of eggs…
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Silky Gooseness wrote: Sat Jul 29, 2023 9:11 pm As a goose, I also appreciate their sleek appearance, almost reminiscent of eggs…
You have a keen eye, goose! (Actually there was once a massive 4th Age Hobbit Lore debate as to the relationship between towers and eggs...)
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I should really have begun with this image, which serves as historical prelude to the work of the Undertowers mushroom artists whose work is exhibited in this thread. The story actually begins about 20 years earlier, when Adamanta Chubb (née Tangerine), keen bird-watcher, esteemed riddle-maker, and well-respected librarian of Undertowers, inexplicably lost her marbles.

For reasons never explained, Adamanta one day took a small extendable ladder in hand, climbed the Hill, and then opened the door of the tallest of the three local towers, whereupon she opened out her ladder inside the tower and climbed all the way to the top. Then she opened a hidden door to a chamber that was likewise hidden from view from below. Once inside she drew up her ladder, closed and so once again hid the door, and refused to come down. Adamanta remained in the high chamber for 999 nights, during which period her concerned friends and descendants on the ground set up a pully-system connecting to the large window of the hidden chamber by which to provide her with food. They soon discovered that all dishes came back down again uneaten (an astonishing sight!) - except those with mushrooms. All her days in the tower, Adamanta lived only on mushrooms and well water.

On the morning of her 1000th day in the high chamber, Adamanta opened the hidden-door, put down her ladder, and climbed down all the way to the ground. Then she turned east and starting walking. She did not stop until she had crossed the Shire, passed under a Hedge and, on the 1001st night, entered the Old Forest. She was never seen by a Hobbit again.

Well, you can understand why the towers were closed after that. Nobody before Adamanta had ever thought of using a ladder. Now the hidden door and high chamber were discovered, the prospect proved too alarming for local sensibilities to handle. The doors of the towers were closed permanently and, a couple of decades later, the towers were demolished and the stones sold off. After all, everyone agreed that the builders of the towers had no sense of proportion, and nobody could see the point of a tower without stairs.

But a few days before the scheduled demolition a second Hobbit climbed to the top of the tower, young Fat Fredegar Highhills, one of three fabulously furry brothers and one of the only Hobbits who ever had a cat. Fat Fredegar brought his own extendable ladder into the tallest of the towers. He did so because of a silly dare, and he never found the hidden door. But in one of the two alcoves built into the walls of the tower (the other was sealed) he found a large pile of papers. 999 papers, in fact, each bearing one drawing. These pages were later inspected most carefully by Fat Fredegar and his cat. All 999 drawings were variations on the one below, each singular.

Image

Fat Fredegar and his friends were fascinated by the pile of drawings left by Mad Adamanata Mushroom. Nobody ever worked out what the drawings were, nor what they meant, and it cannot be said that the mushroom artists of Undertowers did anything to improve the local reputation of poor Adamanta. But today nobody doubts that Adamanta's vision inspired the explosion of mushroom art that Undertowers was blessed with over the next few generations - though to most of the inhabitants, it was a mixed blessing, to say the least.

This image is dedicated to @Afird Splitax with my thanks for the song of slumber (now used without permission).

Edit: the previous version was corrupted and the vital fact that the ladders of Adamanta and Fat Fredegar were extendable was omitted.
Last edited by Hill on Sun Sep 24, 2023 9:35 am, edited 4 times in total.
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What's this? What's this?
There's shapes in the sphere.
What's this?
There's circles, lines, and squares.
What's this?
I can not believe my eyes
I must be dreaming
Wake up, Afird, this isn't
fair!
What's this?

(Jack Skellington What's This adaptation)

It looks like there were Mountains in Mad Adamanata's art. Adamanata's muse, the great dwarves, perhaps? :wink: I wonder what became of her in the Old Forest? Is that a story for another day, @Chrysophylax Dives? I hope so!

Thanks! :smooch:

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Let us not speak falsely now, said the Dragon to the Dwarf, the hour is getting late.

@Afird Splitax and also @Drifa, the Undertowers Hobbits had a queer relationship with the infamous Chubb-Baggins riddle, of which you may perhaps have heard?

It started with a positive
outcome and an unlockable lock.
I was the first of the first to hatch,
then there was one other;
a symbolic red patch.
Long it lasted till finally, alas, I was
the last of the last.


The answer according to Shire authorities, and backed on this by the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain, was Falco Chubb-Baggins. But an ancient genealogical study of the late 3rd Age was preserved in the Undertowers Library and the archivists discovered that it was not Falco Chubb-Baggins who was the last, but Poppy Chubb-Baggins, who married Filibert Bolger.

The vital issue turns on whether Falco had died before Poppy married, which would make Poppy the last Chubb Baggins. Now, as pointed out by an astute librarian, Poppy attended Bilbo's party and would have been around 57 (a typical age for Hobbits to marry), and she was 55 when Falco died. But did Poppy marry late, even for a Hobbit? On this question factions formed and friends fell out, with everyone attempting to work out the meaning of the most famous Hobbit riddle-solver of the day, @Periantar
As Poppy married, her surname changed, making Falco the first and the last Chubb-Baggins!
This debate carried on for many years until even the Hobbits of Undertowers could take no more of such genealogical speculation and people forgot about the old riddle. But the mushroom artists of Undertowers, who (quite unfairly) took Adamanta Chubb as a sort of patron saint of their crazed artwork and readings of the Red Book, revived the infamous riddle and declared it a fortelling of the birth of Adamanta herself!

On this they were wrong, and yet not altogether so. Because the father who Albusbalbus Chubb never knew was a Baggins, and Albus was the first and the last Chubb-Baggins of the 4th Age.

Edit. O wow. That means that the travelling Dwarf who is the riddle-father of Albusbalbus is a Baggins (well, the hat fits). And reading between the lines of Fat Freddy the furry freak brother, I would guess that more than one Dwarf passed through the Shire on a queer East-West way back in those days. Three Dwarfs, it would seem. Or is it four?
Last edited by Hill on Sun Oct 15, 2023 7:46 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Arien
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How mysterious! I look forward to hearing more…
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Dated to the year 936 of the 4th Age, the title and content of this famous mushroom drawing have been fiercely contested ever since. All agree that the drawing is an attempt at 'canonical art', but back in those days canons varied more widely than they do today.

In Gondor rustic provincial art was in fashion, but so too were the most extravagently allegorical readings of the old Lore books. An enterprising art dealer placed the work under the title 'The Ainulindalë in a Hobbit's Egg', and sold it for a small fortune.

The dealer had picked the drawing up for a song in Rohan, where melancholy was in, and the drawing had been exhibited in the mead hall as 'Toppled Tower'.

Other titles had gathered as the drawing had made its slow way out of the Shire and into the wider world beyond. But the work originated in Undertowers, and canon for the mushroom artists of Undertowers was radical. They basically rejected everything in the Red Book after Bilbo Baggins disappeared the second time, and believed that all stair-Lore was contained in what we call The Hobbit, which they read only in the first edition and achieved close readings and startling conclusions that in this day and age would hardly be believed.

The original title was 'In through the window and out through the door' and the work was an illustration to accompany a poem about Hobbit burglary, author and illustrator anonymous.
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@Drifa, Everyone hail to the Pumpkin song! It all began in the week before Christmas, 1937.

:heart:
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Interesting that the illustrator was anonymous. I guess the artist did not believe in the artist's signature in 936. The possible poem of Hobbit burglary?
The Tolling Of The Bell Morel Bell
The world was fair in Durin's Day

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Drifa wrote: Thu Aug 24, 2023 11:12 pm Interesting that the illustrator was anonymous. I guess the artist did not believe in the artist's signature in 936. The possible poem of Hobbit burglary?
The Tolling Of The Bell Morel Bell
Bell Morel and Fallowhide descent, eh? Tis true that questions of descent are murky in my own mind at present, following the astonishing revelations about the Third Age Chubb who is connected with Old Adamanta and the Mushroom artists. But anonymity was adopted by all the true Mushroom artists, and it is only by intensive philological investigation that in Gondor they managed to put names to at least some of the pictures. They were into copyright and such things in those dark days in Gondor, and the anonymity of the mushroom artists was part of their rustic appeal - it was assumed that the art was the work of some primitive Hobbit commune.

Actually, the mushroom artists adopted anonymity because they were inspired by the tale of Bilbo Baggins, who begins with the sign of a burlgar on his door (though he never sees it) and then tells Gollum his name, but what with the spiders and the Elves, by the time he got to talk to the Dragon had learned well enough that a true burglar hides his proper name. Naturally, they went to extraordinarily elaborate lengths to work genealogical riddles into their art, so that experts in the ways of Mushroom-riddling art can usually tell a Chubb from a Boffin, for example.
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On the top of Bag-end, Yesterday and Tomorrow
Undertowers Fog Spore Collective


While we can only raise our eyebrows at the wild speculations of some of the Undertowers mushroom artists, we must remember that they lived through - and gave expression to - an existential Hobbit crisis. The events told of in the Red Book were now nearly a thousand years in the past. For centuries the Book had been read aloud on public holidays all over the Shire, and it had never crossed the mind of any Hobbit to question its veracity. Then Albusbalbus Chubb cut down the tree under which he had been born and built the Folly on the Hobbiton Hill, and the Hobbits of Undertowers had composed the great Guide, demonstrating to Hobbits once and for all the correct usage of stairs. But the Guide was based on the early drafts of the Red Book, then held in the Undertowers Library, and these drafts proved perilous. They revealed the hand of the 'ghost author', the unknown Hobbit who penned the original story from Bag-end to Bree - who told of Bingo and his magic ring, which was not the One Ring.

The seed of unbelief was planted in the Shire. The higher criticism of the Shire antiquarians soon attributed the different passages of the Red Book to different hands, and the question of canon arose. Factions began to form and Hobbits in the inns and public houses began to debate metaphysical matters, an unheard of thing in the Shire.

Many of the mushroom artists were early zealots in the cause of the True Bagginses, a fanatical group of Hobbits who roundly rejected the entire story of the War of the Ring as an invention of the Gondorian royal house and read only a revised Red Book that concluded with arrival at the Prancing Pony in Bree.

This truncated sequel opened the door to absurd metaphysical speculations. The infamous Fog Spore Collective, the underground artists who made 'On the top of Bag-end, Yesterday and Tomorrow', held that Time repeated itself for eternity in a binary of ages: in one age the Hill was a Burrow and in the other it was a Barrow. The Fog Spore Collective believed that such a picture of Time was the only possible explanation of the stairs in the House of Tom Bombadil. Today, with more noise and less green but absolutely no more sense whatsoever, such enthusiasts are now rare, yet not unknown.

And this image is of course dedicated to the good Dwarf, @Drifa. At yours and your family's!
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City of God thy bonds will be free
We’ve come to live and to reign in thee
Still stands the church clock at ten to three
And the cat’s in the kitchen so she can’t catch me
Last edited by Hill on Sat Jan 06, 2024 6:48 am, edited 2 times in total.
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From Bag-end door strolled Adamanta Chubb,
Down to the river bank to make her plea.
'For all Hobbiton knows my fortunes I will share,
With the one who'll mend my broken wings for me.'

A thirsty snow fell on the window pane,
The Bag-end kettle loosed a spluttered sigh,
A knock upon the door the silence shattered through,
Adamanta winked a weary eye.

On the doorstep stood a travelling Dwarf,
Close your eyes and count to three.
In the wind and the rain to walk and the southern moon to ride,
And that's the last of her we'll ever see.

All night they played the riddle game,
The answers danced upon the beach.
But who am I to tell the waves which way to turn?
And who are you to tell me what I can see?

How came Adamanta her sad, sad song to tell?
How from a riddle she never could conceive
Nine months on she bore a hairy-Hobbit child.
The Dwarf had long since crossed the western sea.

(Mostly stolen; but i'll keep my sources hidden.)
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Last edited by Hill on Wed Dec 13, 2023 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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I like On the top of Bag-end, Yesterday and Tomorrow Undertowers Fog Spore Collective. It's creepy. Thank you!

Elegy To A hairy-Hobbit Child
The babe's beard grew to the floor
The hobbit, fearful, stuffed him in a drawer
And through a window, round and high
the faithless mother lept without a goodbye
The child, in time, let down his beard
and climbed to the floor, so afeared;
the hair on his feet stood up straight
he learned at last his terrible fate
The burrow was long, empty and cold
he shivered and wept, not so bold
Therefore, taking up his long, silky beard,
he rolled it about him and disappeared
The world was fair in Durin's Day

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O Drifa. Thank you so much. I don't have the words.
Last edited by Hill on Fri Jan 05, 2024 11:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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I wrote a story for this thread after my own world in RL turned upside down; in fact, for the second time within 18 months, but in a quite different way. I understood that a window of time was before me, that the window would be closed soon enough. This has proved so; it is a fact of war. These words allowed an escape, sorely needed, and a fantasy, which also was balm.

The season’s out of balance: one last moment, gone.
Last edited by Hill on Sat Jan 06, 2024 7:18 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Chrys: I know that song of Bob Dylan, a favourite singer of my dad. John Denver falls in the same music category. I did some reading on the website SWG of some links you posted and see you know a fair few people there. :smile:

The Callanish Stones are a late Neolithic site. A prehistoric sundial of sorts, where upon the day cycle as well the year around could be read. They have little to do with the Anglo-Saxons from the 6th and 7th century, 5000 years later. It is an interesting site to visit from historical perspective, but I don't see Tolkien Beowulf picturing in that frame. I am sorry to disagree on this dream of yours.
Just call me Aiks or Aikári. Notify is off.
Find me stuff in Gondolin.
And let us embark to Valinor!

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Last edited by Hill on Thu Feb 01, 2024 5:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Attributed to Amelia Hornblower and titled 'Angling in Rushok Bog', a print of this unexpectedly fashionable item may be had on Facebook for a cool $100.

Do not purchase this picture. It is a fake! This is not genuine Undertowers mushroom art. How do I know? I made it. Listen, and I'll tell you the story.

That night was to be the culmination of months of planning – the greatest egg-heist in plaza history. 16 grade A+ eggs concealed in the secret pockets of my clothing. As I approached the exit I could almost taste retirement up a little tree of my own. Then I saw the Goose, waiting by the back door. My heart froze. I turned sharp right, only to bump into Morgoth. I spun the other way - Arnyn grinned at me. That one had always kept a watchful eye on me. Somehow, I still do not know how, this one knew the location of each one of my secret pockets.

'Just checking for concealed acid, dragon', winked the ranger, as she made to pat me down.

SPLAT! SPLAT! The two eggs hidden under my wing-pits collapsed in on themselves under the force of two admin hands and the sticky viscous membrane within began to slither down my undergarments.

SPLAT! SPLAT! Another two eggs broken, along with my dreams of a tree of my own. Shards of shell ground into my flesh.

SPLAT! SPLAT! I looked at the three agents of plaza justice. They were enjoying this.

SPLAT! SPLAT! And so it went on, until Arnyn and Morgoth bound my wings with elvish rope and roughly propelled me down into the bowels of the plaza.

'The Halls of Injustice?' I gasped. Morgoth snorted. 'For you dragon, the Halls of Justice'. I was soon to discover the difference – the Halls of Justice are speedy.

It was just a portacabin room, with a table at the front and on the table a gavel. To the side of the gavel sat the scary-eyed one with many names. I looked for a friendly face and found only my two admin guards.

'All rise for the prosecution, the judge, and the executioner' cried the scary-eyed one, and all stood as the Goose entered the room.

When all were seated the Goose examined a piece of paper with a puzzled frown. The scary-eyed one removed the lunch menu and replaced it with the charge sheet, which the judge now read carefully before fixing me with a steely eye.

That Eye! I felt a horrible growing sense of a hostile will that strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth, and flesh, to see me: and had now pinned me down under its deadly gaze, naked, immovable.

'We don't mind the eggs, Chrysophylax Dives. We have plenty of those. The problem is your tendency to play God-mode.'

I gulped. This was far worse than I had expected. I was way out of my depth.

'Dragon,' said the Goose, 'We are going to teach you what it means to be imprisoned in a tower.' The gavel banged and the admins took me away.

They took me and they set me alone on the pinnacle of the high tower from whence crowds of plaza folk once had gathered to watch RoP. Now it is desolate and forlorn. There is no descent save by a narrow stair of many thousand steps, and the valley of the plaza below seems far away. I looked on it and saw that, whereas this desert had once been filled with cantankerous Lore folk now the land was green and little pokemon gifs were inexplicably scattered everywhere. But I was imprisoned alone on an island in the clouds; and I had no chance of escape, and my days were bitter. I was still pierced with fragments of egg-shell, and I had but a little room with a window and some other cool stuff in which to pace to and fro, brooding on the return of the Lore-wraiths of old.

But what do plaza folk know of prison? The view is wonderful and the food a step up from the usual short rations of an egg-burglar. Seven times a day the Dwarf who works the mines far below brings me up a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich. At first the Dwarf was grumpy because of the stairs, but also perilously bored, and we soon fell into conversation. I explained the ways of egg-burglary and the Dwarf got interested. Spotting an opportunity, I explained that egg-burglars need to be very fit and thin in order to squeeze through keyholes, and so convinced the Dwarf to take the stairs at a run, two at a time. Now my tea and sandwich are still warm when I receive them, which makes all the difference.

Soon the Dwarf and I turned to other ways to riches. Egg-burglary is all very well, but folks these days are overly suspicious of dubious characters peeking into their nests. We talked riddles and the name of Adamanta Chubb came up and, naturally, our talk turned to the mushroom artists of Undertowers. The Dwarf has some contacts in the art world outside the plaza and knew of some interested buyers, if I could produce the goods. Well, of course I said that I couldn’t. But the Dwarf would not take no for an answer. I was supplied with pen and paper and informed that anything made in the plaza has an otherworldly look that could easily pass for 4th Age, at least on Facebook.

And so I have left behind the life of an egg-burglar and now serve as chief artist for a mushroom art forgery ring directed from the plaza. The Dwarf is the ring-leader, and I can only trust that I receive my fair share of the loot. So far we have sold 42 fake mushroom art prints and I have received the equivalent of one egg. At this rate I may be able to purchase my tree sometime in 2046. Maybe they will have let me out of this prison by then?
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Next they came for the Elf-towers




Prison Diary
I better not name names as they do random searches of my room and check all written matter for secret runes. So I will refer only to the 'anonymous Dwarf', whose wisdom is proving of similar abundance as the beard. Like many others, I've sold a bit of Elvish art in my time. But you really have to seek out your clients because it is actually almost impossible to knock up anything that has that real elvish shine that all know in their hearts the mark of the genuine article. This is why most 'real Elvish art' sold these days is traded with other fandoms. And this is obvious to anyone looking to turn a penny in the M-e art market. But it takes a fiendish genius to spot that the art to 'revive' is 4th Age - an age still touching all the named landmarks yet absolutely devoid of any magic or enchantment beyond some elvish queen with no acting talent and a chubby heir - and yet canonical by way of appendix, at least in its early years. So, yeah, who needs egg-burgling, and for that matter, who needs to be hawking genuine Seeing Stones, when a real 4th Age mushroom art image can be rustled up in minutes? Good-bye to all those 'good-mornings' at the door from respectable suburban hole-dwellers - the great paying public, who even were they stuck squashed in a goblin gate that was ajar, and overcome with great desire to look far into the view, still couldn't tell the difference between a palantír and a button. The anonymous Dwarf is a criminal mastermind!
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Prison Diary
Nothing ever goes smooth before, ooops, another scrape on the wing. I was warming my toes by the fire, watching the storm outside and counting my blessings when the Dwarf appeared at the door with the tea and sandwhich. No bacon. Between the bread-slices was some tofu filth. Apparently I'd been consuming the last of the salted pork from the old plaza stores and from now on in it is nu-plaza rations. I should have read the small print they put on the legal disclaimer on the front page. Come to think of it, I should have read more carefully, period. But no use picking up Humpty, gotta deal with the here and now. So I took the only action I know in such circumstances, learned from the nipple in a distant cold war past of our planet - I declared a strike, a withdrawal of labour by the art-forgery workforce, namely me, the chief artist.
Turned out this is what the Dwarf had really meant with all that old/nu plaza nonsense about the tofu-bread combo. As a caterpilla moving on a leaf near the floor of the deep jungle, I glimpsed a right eyebrow rise as I threw down my economic ace of spades. Without a word, the Dwarf then gathered into a bag nearly all my pencils, crayons and pens.
I was presented with a pair of knitting needles and a very large ball of wool.
At the door the Dwarf relented and gave me the word: The mushroom art business had grown big. They needed some real artists now. Sorry.
The Dwarf gave me a look, almost of kindness, and the door shut. Bomp. Bomp. Bomp. I heard the footsteps descend at a slow, Dwarvish pace. No more bacon and hot tea, only cold tofu and cold tea.
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Prison Diary

'Never Mind the Dwarves', I spelled out slowly, 'Here's the Arkenstone'. 'What does that mean?'

The Dwarf shrugged. 'Don't it look pretty? That's real art, that is.'

I could not deny that the composition manifested the kind of unity of form and colour that did not so much escape me as I never bothered chasing because I never spotted in the first place.

'You made it?'

The Dwarf nodded, proudly. I didn’t bother with the obvious question – how can you have made it and not know what it means? That was the thing with all these folk. They made beautiful things every time they sneezed together, and for a while their eyes would light up with wonder, and then their minds would wander. They would put down the jewel and go off to explore some animated gif, or worse. The place was littered with discarded works of cunning hands, whose original purpose was long forgotten and were now used as doorstoppers or paperweights.

And then the Dwarf said: 'Actually, Dragon, you made it.'

'What are you talking about?'

'We want you to enter this in the next plaza art competition.'

'Why?'

'So it wins the prize, of course. After that we have plans. We are going to send it outside the plaza.'

'But it won’t win the plaza prize. Nobody on this site would vote for a deviant punk rip-off as Middle-earth friendly. You have lost your mind, Dwarf.'

The Dwarf sat down in a chair and looked me in the eye. 'Chrysophylax Dives, you were only a little egg-burglar in a big world. Now you are an ex-egg-burglar imprisoned in a tower. Other Powers have taken over the art forgery business. You would be wise, my friend, to join us willingly.'

'Us? Who do you work for Dwarf?'

'The plaza art competition is already secured' said the Dwarf, as if that answered my question. 'We paid gold for a wizard-editor, who, with only minimal revision, worked in a spell of confusion that will ensure that nobody will understand the competition. You will enter my drawing, and it will win.'

'What possible scam are you people trying to pull off here?' I asked with genuine curiosity.

'Will you enter my Arkenstone drawing in the art competition as your own?'

'Why would I do that?'

The Dwarf gave me one of those quarter-innocent smiles that always got me. 'We found some more old plaza food supplies deep down in the mines. Enough salted pork to last a year. Also, some barrels of Longbottom Leaf. O and by the way' – the Dwarf dug in a pocket but produced nothing – 'I brought some northern light, just for you, but I must have left it at home.'

I sat there speechless. Like I had been punched in the stomach.

The Dwarf got up to go. At the door I was gifted another of those smiles. 'The competition is a few weeks away, Dragon. No hurry. Think on it.'

And the door closed. Bomp. Bomp. Bomp.

I was so angry. Did they think I was that easy? A dragon of imperial lineage and once very rich, purchased for a bacon sanrnie and a pipe of good Hobbit weed? They could go fish.

I returned to watching the rain run down the window. My chief occupation these days. Let them do their worst to me. I would never give in. They were not using me as their patsy in some stupid art competition.

From the very bottom of the stairs far down below drifted up the aroma of bacon frying.
Eat earth. Dig deep. Drink water.

Guardian of the Golden Wood
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Prison Diary

Life has become one long waiting game. At least that gives me time to consider the error of my ways. Obviously, I'd badly underestimated the plaza folk. Fooled by their shiny nu-look and middle-aged waists, I'd completely failled to register that I was dealing with hardened veterans. Warriors and wargs trained and bloodied over countless old plaza campaigns. Of course, in the real world nobody cared about such ancient history, but in their own heads they still lived the glorious violence of the past. You could see it in their eyes, which always had this far away look. I had put it down to simple imbecility, the result of too many fake-Hobbit hole gifs. A grave error. These people were much more dangerous than they looked.

The other side of the coin was that they were rusty. Take that ranger, for example. One look from her could reduce me to a quiverring blob of jelly on the floor. And she had read all the signs rightly. But if she thought I'd missed that finger-check on the pocket above my left breast she was mistaken. It was just a brush of a finger, the lightest touch. But at that moment I had understood what was going on. She was checking that I had the key on my person. And as they bound my wings I spotted the nod she gave to the Goose. They were incredibly good, but they were just a tad out of condition.

So we are all playing this waiting game. Up in the ceiling of my room in the tower is a trapdoor, locked. The key is in my pocket. I don't need a ladder - I can put the chair on the bed and pull myself up. I am sitting just under the treasure I have been seeking all these years. But I know that they know this. In fact, they put me here! So the moment I ascend to the hidden chamber and reclaim what is mine - a flash and a bang and before you can say 'Bingo Bolger-Baggins' and those 3 terrible plaza admins will be waiting in my room below.

I need to plan a disturbance. Something to distract them for 30 minutes or so. I also need to get this elvish rope untied so I can escape from this miserable tower once I have what I want in my pocket. I have some ideas, but I worry I am still missing something.

What is the Dwarf up to scheming for me to win the plaza art competition? Who is the Dwarf working for? Another Power? Or am I missing some new plaza devilry?

One thing is for sure. I'll take the tofu and never give my consent to putting my name to the Dwarf's Arkenstone picture! They are still underestimating me. I can withstand great hardship. I've been well trained. I have 5 children.

In the meanwhile, I carry on with my knitting. I never realized how relaxing it is. I'm knitting a long, long, long scarf.
Eat earth. Dig deep. Drink water.

Guardian of the Golden Wood
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Prison Diary

The view from my room is amazing, but the soundscape leaves something to be desired. I hear the wind, and nothing else. No birds fly this high, or at least none of the plaza birds do - come to think of it, and for all their corporate pride, I'm not sure I ever saw any plaza bird actually fly. I do believe they still can, but suspect we are witnessing the sort of evolutionary development that gave us the Penguin. Anyway, no bird song, and the songs from the plaza jukebox don't reach up here. In fact, the only thing besides the wind to listen to is the sound of the Dwarf's gentle foot-fall on the stairs.

Bomp. Bomp. Bomp.


The first faint footsteps of an ascent are almost imperceptible, a dim echoing heard on the very edge of consciousness that, over about 7 minutes, very gradually forms itself into a sound-shape of robust stomps, as leather beats out on stone the monotonous rhythm of the tireless Dwarf step.

Bomp. Bomp. Bomp.

Around 20 minutes after the first sound of Dwarf climbing stone step, I know the cold tofu and tea is about 5 more minutes away.

Bomp. Bomp. Bomp.

And then, at last:

Knock. Knock.

And, without waiting, the key is inserted and turned and the door opens and in steps my jailor.

'Why do you knock, Dwarf?

'Eh, what?'

'I already know you are outside the door, you don't wait for me to answer, so what is the purpose of the knock?'

'Dwarves always knock!'

'Yes. You are living proof of that. But why?'

The Dwarf gave me one of those looks that was meant to be kindly but always left me feeling especially stupid.

'We always knock just in case it is a Hobbit on the other side of the door.'

My cold tea and sandwhich deposited on the table, the Dwarf gave me a nod and walked out of my cell. I heard the key turn in the lock. Then:

Bomp. Bomp. Bomp.

I had another 20 minutes or so to listen to this receeding Dwarvish foxtrot as the enveloping silence step by step resumed its stranglehold. And then I would be left with nothing but the words of the Dwarf echoing round and round my overwraught and already ravished mind.

I had to get out of this prison.
Eat earth. Dig deep. Drink water.

Guardian of the Golden Wood
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Prison Diary

Apprentice egg-burglars are taught that any mistake might be their last. Truth is, everyone makes mistakes. What makes a master egg-burglar is the ability to learn from mistakes, at least, to learn faster than the previous owner of the property. That and a good dose of luck.

So I made another mistake. Caught between Scylla and Charybdis, the Dwarf's art-forgery mafia and the plaza admin team, my stomach got the better of me. It was a Saturday, when the admins go home for the weekend, and I figured a quick ascent to and descent from the high chamber might get me the sandwich at the bottom of my old handbag. I knew that they would turn up sooner or later, and the cost of the meal would be that they got their hands on my notebook. But I was hungry.

Ascent was easy. A couple of cushions on the chair on the bed and the keyhole was in reach. The key turned, and I pushed up the door and clambered up. The chamber was bathed in an eerie green light, which appeared to emanate from an old chest in the western corner. Everywhere was lumber and junk of every kind and description. Adopting the nostril-quiver swaying posture, I caught the scent of the sandwich, and followed it to a massive heap of bags where, at the very bottom, I found mine.

On the covering of the handbag were those once familiar letters: smials. But dragons do not live on memories alone. Opening the bag I began to rummage. First I had to pull out the waistcoat stuffed inside. My respectable garb, but one of the buttons had come off and I'd bought it with me that day with the intention of sowing it back on between posts. I threw the waistcoat aside - it was hardly of use in the present conditions. At the very bottom of the bag was the button. One of my favourite of buttons. A big button, made of brass and very shiny. A jewel among buttons. Best leave the button at the bottom of the bag.

What I was seeking was next to the button, wrapped up in an old newspaper – the lunch that I'd never eaten, a nine-year-old bacon sandwich. Unwrapping the newspaper, I scrutinized the bacon with some care. This was hardly the time for food-poisoning. But my hunch seemed correct: time did not pass in the plaza as it did in the wider world outside. The sarnie was still edible.

I was only just in time. As I took my first bite, I heard the voices and banging down below, and the sound of the door opening. Too late, I spotted my latest mistake: today they are all on 'mobiles' so actually the security can arrive within seconds of the alarm sounding in the real world. I heard some clambering below and felt a firm hand grasp the end of my tail! Quick as I could I stuffed the entire sandwich in my mouth and commenced rapid chewing. Before I could swallow I was yanked out of the high chamber and found myself falling from a great height into the arms of Arnyn, who carried me from the bed to a chair in the middle of the room and plomped me down into it without ceremony.

Undignified? Maybe. But as I looked up at the three terrible admins who gazed at me with eyes cold and clear I felt as if I'd won a small victory. I swallowed the last of the sandwich and with a snarl of a smile spat out my defiance.

'You can have the notebook but I will never give in to the Dwarf!'

The three admins exchanged a look, and then six eyes, all in inquisitor laser mode, locked on mine.

Something was wrong. Was it possible that this was not about my notebook after all?

To be continued...
Eat earth. Dig deep. Drink water.

Guardian of the Golden Wood
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Prison Diary

Facts must be set out precisely. How can we build a true tower of Lore if our facts are not strictly accurate? This diary records only the facts and sloppy reporting will be revised.

I was sat on the chair. Three hostile admins gazed into my eyes. Yet it was not six eyes that locked on mine, but five. The Goose did that head-turn thing and directed at me only the one Eye. She wore the same black judicial robe as the last time we had met, but did not look the same. Within the abyss of nothingness behind the Eye now glimmered an unholy sparkle. Beware the Goose triumphant.

'Well, well, well, Chrysophalax Dives, or should I say smials? You finally proved of use to us. Hand it over.'

I made to pass my handbag over and, to my surprise, all three admins involuntarily took a step backwards, a shadow of fear passing over their faces.

'Tssss. No tricks!' Said the ranger, producing a lead-lined cardboard box. 'Take it out of the handbag and place it in the box.'

A tad confused, I decided that they were after my notebook after all. With a heavy heart I removed it from the bag and made to drop it in the box.'

'NO TRICKS!'

The Goose was getting angry.

'No trick intended!' I squawked hastily, and began to explain. 'This notebook has the only copy of the Billeaus. There is no digital copy.'

'WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, DRAGON?'

I should have stopped to consider the meaning of the varied shades of crimson and purple appearing on the face before me. But, well, that is just the kind of question that I spend my days longing for. So I launched into a concise and helpful explanation, as explicitly requested.

'Bill and Ted return to San Dimas to discover the AI system of Terminator II has declared war on humanity and so they return to ancient Athens and pass the time learning Socratic method. Once Socrates deems them ready, they are set to work explaining the entire history of the world, which is now over, from the beginning to the end.'

The three admins were looking at me without speaking and, as usual, I misinterpreted the silence of my audience. Warming to my theme, I turned to the present significance of the Billeaus.

'Basically, it is a rewrite of Plato's Timaeus. I discovered that one could easily extend the account of creation – or sub-creation, as you might call it – to account for a second order of creation – or, let us say, sub-sub-creation, so that…'

'DRAGON, THIS IS NOT ONE OF YOUR STUPID LORE POSTS!'

Have you ever seen an apoplectic Goose? Neither had I. Words can hardly capture the queer optical illusion conjured by the vision: this black-robed, white-feathered creature had now taken on, from the tip of her beak down to the two webbed-feet, the colour of an overripe tomato.

And that is when it hit me. It was a good day after all. One of those moments had arrived. A moment that redeems all the weary labours of life because, all of a sudden, unexpectedly, the world looks different. The moment when a riddle that has been in the back of your mind for as long as you can remember receives a new and unexpected answer.

'OMG!!! You're a newspaper!'

I collapsed in a fit of hysterical giggles on the floor. All right, it was not that funny. But the stress of the last months had found release in the hidden crevices of language. Each time I tried to pull myself together the pun of red/read danced into view again and the giggles recommenced.

It was very nearly my very last chuckle. But luck was with me that day.

As I writhed on the floor overcome by hysterical chortles, I must have knocked over the already opened handbag. The big, shiny, brass button at the bottom of the bag rolled out and onto the floor.

All at once everything in that room changed. Physically, nothing changed bar the button, which continued a slow roll across the floor before coming to a stop just before the webbed-feet of the Goose. But those admins were transported into another atmosphere. One gasped, another sighed, the third whistled.

'The Dragon-egg. :rage: '

Morgoth had uttered an emoji, a rare thing and a sign of great inner tension.

That pulled me back to myself. What on earth was going on here? Had they forgotten the books so much that they had fallen into some misbegotten GoT confusion about dragons? Very slowly, I eased myself off the floor and back into the chair. I took my time because I was thinking fast how best to play this one.

To be continued...
Eat earth. Dig deep. Drink water.

Guardian of the Golden Wood
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Prison Diary

'Pick up the dragon-egg, Dragon!' hissed the Goose, gazing with awe at the button by her foot.

They were scared to touch it, that was clear, and so I was alive so long as the button stayed out of the box – after that, not so clear. I had to play for time and discover the range of their delusions.

'You have no right to steal my dragon-egg! If you take it without my blessing the dragon-curse will fall upon your miserable heads.' I had raised myself to my full height and was attempting to cast a foreboding shadow on the wall.

'It is hardly your dragon-egg', snapped the Goose. 'Though we do wish to know from where you stole it.'

That was music to my ears. They had not established a genealogy for their imaginary dragon-egg: laid by Ancalagon the Black and hatched by Smaug the Magnificent, or such like. That would have complicated matters.

'Excuse me!' I put on my dignity. 'Look closely at the egg and compare its noble shape and shades of colour with the dragon-face before you. That bu- egg is flesh of my flesh, shell of my shell.'

The three admins exchanged another look. Sensing uncertainty, I threw out another stream of piffle that had just popped into my head.

'The dragon-egg is attached to me by an invisible aethereal umbilical cord. You must not sever the cord before the egg hatches! If you do so the transfer of inner fire from parent to egg will cease. You will break the cosmic harmony of the sub-creation, and the plaza as you know it will end!'

The Ranger was stepping from one foot to the other. Morgoth gave a nervous laugh. The Goose was momentarily at a loss for words. Then she made a mistake.

'But Chrysophalax Dives, you are hardly the mother of this egg.'

The two other admins pretended not to hear the gendered heteronormative presumptions behind their colleague's statement, but they were visibly discomforted. I was nearly there.

'How can you possibly know that?' I affected a look of shock and hurt, the image of the true mother standing before Solomon as he raised the sword over the baby.

'Chrysophalax Dives, you are a male dragon!'

Arnyn blanched. Morgoth was already reaching for the nuplaza bylaws. I had not enjoyed myself so much for years.

'Firstly, your Gooseness, the preferred pronoun on my profile is 'tree' so I am not quite sure where you obtain your information. But even were I to accept your imposition of a hegemonic binary, it is illiberal to deny a male dragon, a creature of pure fantasy, the right to deliver – and hatch, mark you, and hatch – an egg of my own. Your language and mentality, I am sorry to say, are reminiscent of the darkest days of British Imperialism.'

That last was for Morgoth, of course. Unfortunately, the effort was lost because as at that moment the greatest of the Valar was absorbed in some obscure amendment to some now ancient nu-plaza legal code. Still, the Goose was flummoxed, for once. I gave it one more push.

'I am well aware that we are not in one of my Lore posts. Had you paid a little more attention to those posts you might not be so confused today about Dragon-lore.'

Morgoth had finished with the bylaws and looked up with interest.

'Explain it to us, Dragon.'

Morgoth's two colleagues gave an involuntary groan and I saw their eyes glaze in anticipation. But this was not going to be your usual Lore post.

'You think it is about a mommy dragon and a daddy dragon, don't you?' I could see on their faces that that had hit the mark. 'That is not how we do things.'

Morgoth looked interested. Actually, while Goose and Ranger were pretending indifference it was clear that they were also all ears.

'A Dragon who wants a little dragon heads off to the Blasted Heath. Technically, all you need to do then is flaunt yourself, but I have found that it helps to prepare a little – lighting to set the shadow-mood, cocktails already mixed, that kind of thing. Then you wait for a helrūn.'

They were riveted; and though they understood little, they understood enough. Eyes widening as I recounted the courtship dance of dragon and the one who knows the secrets of hell, I moved on to first contact and then the kiss of unbegotten lust that summons the spirits of the waste into the belly of the dragon. Deep down inside I was quivering with joy as I watched the horror slowly dawning on their faces. Just as I reached the climax of the shadow-mating, the moment when death begats death as the dragon-egg is realized in the living mind of a dragon now impregnated with the seed of lustful pride and avarice, the Goose cried 'Enough!' and Morgoth fainted.

They helped Morgoth into a chair and the three conferred for what seemed an age. Finally, the Goose turned to me.

'Chrysophylax Dives. We accept that this may be your egg. We also acknowledge that we may have spoken out of turn just now. However, we all know that you are an amoral reprobate who cannot be entrusted with raising a young dragon. We cannot in good conscience allow you to keep your egg. I propose a deal.'

Just what I was after. Dragons always prefer to have things set out in contractual terms, if possible – though I'd had to let a lot of that slide on the plaza of late, given all the chaos in my life.

'If you take binding vows never to mention this conversation to anyone, ever, we will allow you to remain alive in this tower at least until your egg hatches. But we will take the egg to our Discord-hatchery for safe keeping.'

'Hmmm. You risk breaking the invisible aethereal umbilical cord if you take my egg from me.'

'Our own Lore expertise is not as paltry as you seem to believe,' snapped the Goose. 'We know that the cord may be stretched from one end of the earth to the other.'

The three of them were looking more comfortable with that claim to authority. Morgoth and the Ranger were nodding. I feigned defeat.

'Your Lore expertise is indeed vast and almost all-encompassing. The umbilical cord will stretch but it will not break, so long as I am safe. We have a deal.'

And so, with some ceremony, I got up from the chair and slowly walked over to the button, my body language a picture of maternal concern as I gently picked it up and brought it to the three admins and, with reverence, placed my favourite button in the box that waited in Arnyn's hands.

You should have seen their faces. Morgoth almost smiled while the expression on the face of the Goose looked for all the world like that of Queen Elizabeth I sucking her first polo mint.

Too late, I spotted what I should have said some moments before.

'If you wish the dragon that is to come to be healthy, you must feed the parent dragon well. I like six eggs with my bacon, but I'd also like some mushrooms too please.'

'Don't push it dragon.' said the Ranger.

That one was always the thorn in my side, and she then pushed it in deeper. Arnyn handed the box to Morgoth, went over to the bed, clambered up on to the chair, reached up and removed the key that I'd left in the lock to the trapdoor that opened to the high chamber. As the three terrible admins left the room, the Ranger gave me another of those winks.

And then they were all gone, and I heard the key turning in the lock of the door of my prison cell.

'Now what on earth was that all about?' I asked myself as I removed the chair from my bed and prepared for some sleep. Honestly, I had no idea what was behind the crazed delusions of the plaza admins. I would ask the Dwarf about it on the next tea and tofu visit after the weekend.
Eat earth. Dig deep. Drink water.

Guardian of the Golden Wood
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Prison Diary

On Monday morning I awoke to the familiar sound of the Dwarf's footsteps on the stairs. But there was no knock. For 20 minutes or so I was treated to the sound of banging and muttered Dwarf cussing, and only then was the knock, the unlock, and the opening of the door.

The Dwarf gave me a nod and then beckoned me over with a finger. At the door I saw that a pulley system was now suspended from the roof. Leaning over the railing, the Dwarf gave a loud holla, waited a moment, and then began to pull. Way before the tray hove into view the various aromas, mingled yet distinct, were greeting, caressing, and kissing my olfactory nerve endings. Finally, the Dwarf picked up the tray and nodded me to the table in the room.

I could have cried, and I don't mean those fake steaming dragon tears that we shed at will. Dragons have a bad reputation and it is said that we have no tender feelings for anyone but ourselves. Yet here in front of me were old, old friends, and my heart had sorely missed them. The tray contained not only hot tea but a large plate filled with many eggs and rashers of bacon and also sausage, black pudding, baked beans, fried tomatoes, and mushrooms. And there was a second smaller plate piled high with hot buttered toast and beside it a large pot of marmalade.

Almost, I commenced the feast there and then. But Dwarves have a bad reputation.

'What is all this about, Dwarf?'

What with the unkempt mass of hair above and the well-tended yet abundant beard below, I often had trouble reading the Dwarf's facial expression. But there was certainly a smile, and quite a nice one too.

'Durin's Day today.'

'Really!' I was impressed. 'But I thought you Dwarves no longer had the skill to calculate when Durin's Day falls?'

The Dwarf nodded. 'Today is Durin's Day because I feel that it is Durin's Day.' A pause. 'Tis the 3rd Durin's Day this year.' Another pause. 'If you aint gonna eat that breakfast you could pass it over to me.'

That was enough for me. Maybe the breakfast was laced with some Dwarvish mind-potion and I was walking into yet another trap. But I'll tell you something honestly – sometimes it is worth walking into a trap with eyes wide open just for that taste of honey before the bars slam shut. I like honey. But I like bacon and eggs better, and there were mushrooms too. As I ate the Dwarf chatted.

'Heard you had some visitors over the weekend.'

I swallowed before replying. 'How you know that?'

'Discord chat.' Another pause. 'You have no idea how excited they are about the dragon-egg. They think that now they can finally close the plaza and retire on the proceeds.' The Dwarf giggled.

'Whose side are you on, Dwarf?'

'I am on nobody's side, because nobody is on my side. Nobody cares for the books anymore.'

'I care for the books.'

'I know that, Dragon. That's why I shopped you in the first place.'

'WHAT?'

'Well, I knew you had your eggs pocketed and were heading off. And then who would have played riddles with me?'

My mind was spinning.

'You told the admins about the dragon-egg too, didn’t you?'

Another nod. 'Had to. They were not going to arrest you for the eggs. Said 16 A+ eggs was a small price to pay to be shot of you.'

'Why you telling me all this now?'

The Dwarf shrugged. 'Durin's Day.' But for once added a more comprehensible explanation. 'Dwarves do have some conscience, unlike Dragons, or Geese for that matter. Figured you'd paid your time.'

'So will you cut this elvish rope and free my wings?'

'You know I can't do that. More than my plaza job is worth.'

I glowered at the bearded creature, but the Dwarf was not finished yet.

'Chrysophalax Dives, you are a very peculiar mix of clever and stupid. The long, long scarf you have been knitting is a stroke of genius. You don't need wings to escape this tower.'

I sighed. 'But its only half finished. It will be weeks and weeks before it reaches the ground.'

'The Dwarf nodded to a curtain on the other side of the room that I'd never inspected. I went over and drew it to unveil a second window. Poking my head out and looking down, I saw what the Dwarf was saying.

The Dwarf gave what appeared to be a wink. 'Giants of old who built this tower had some weird architectural notions. Why would anyone want a front-door halfway up a tower? From the doorstep you can just walk down the external staircase.'

Involuntarily, I glanced upwards.

'Can't leave till you have that green stone up there in your pocket, eh?' Pulling out a large set of keys, the Dwarf slid one off the ring and handed it to me. 'Heard what happened, so I cut you a spare.'

Of course, it was all too good to be true. 'This is about your Arkenstone art competition, isn’t it?'

The Dwarf looked serious all of a sudden. 'Chrysophalax Dives, it would help me enormously if you entered my picture in your name.'

'Me not we, eh? But you still aint gonna tell me why, are you?' A shake of the head.

'Will I get in trouble if I enter the picture in my name?'

'Probably. But no more than usual.'

I sighed. The Dwarf was right. It was Durin's Day.

'OK.'

For a whole while I continued to munch my breakfast and we sat in companionable silence. Finally, the Dwarf said:

'Shame about that pulley system. Works real nice. But I reckon you'll be gone by tomorrow morning.'

I pondered the eerie green light that had emanated from the chest in the hidden chamber above and felt my lust for the source stir. Then, as I polished off the last of the toast and marmalade, I considered the significance of a good breakfast.

'If I stay a bit longer, do I get this kind of breakfast every morning?'

The Dwarf nodded

'I might leave that green stone up there for a bit.' I said.

Drifa handed me the tobacco jar.

Fin

Coming soon in a galaxy far, far away, the sequel: 'Goldilocks Took Does Third Porridge'.
Eat earth. Dig deep. Drink water.

Khazad Elder
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And here I thought you had some petty dwarf doing your bidding! :wink: :smooch:
The world was fair in Durin's Day

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Image
Last edited by Hill on Wed Dec 13, 2023 10:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Reflection on my only real plaza thread.

1. Editing was a mistake. When the 4th Age story of Undertowers developed I edited the first posts in the series to reflect the new scenario. But that spoils the post, which is a record of a raw thought still unpolished, not a final draft.

2. But then editing was required to stay sane. This was because reality bit the back of my head with poison fangs, live on the plaza.
Last edited by Hill on Sat Jan 06, 2024 7:12 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Guardian of the Golden Wood
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Reflections on the lost story...

A sequel did appear but then vanish after I showed the new parts to the Admins over on Discord in an attempt to secure permissions. I am completely OK with this sequel left unpublished and I do appreciate the problem faced by the powers-that-be. The story was spun purely from my own imagination but by complete coincidence my pure fantasy turns out to be the hidden reality around here. I cannot speak much, obviously, but think it OK to say that I encountered the real security - and I aint talking about those three lovely, fluffy admins. The admins of the plaza appear laid-back, and with good reason: they know what protects the fanatics plaza. Do not ask. The truth would likely prove too great a shock to handle. Is it not enough to know that you sleep safe and snug in your holes at night? Better the simple life, believe me.
Last edited by Hill on Sat Jan 06, 2024 7:07 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Framed SAB 1974
Last edited by Hill on Thu Jan 25, 2024 5:36 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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New Soul
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Chrys: A nice tale you're writing in here. I read through it, though not always understanding. I read all sorts of tales, real time and impossible. :lol: I presume it is your story thread. Cool, you got one on the Plaza. :thumbs:
Just call me Aiks or Aikári. Notify is off.
Find me stuff in Gondolin.
And let us embark to Valinor!

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It had been an incredibly long day, like 18 months too long. The day began before the Dragon returned to the plaza and continued after the Dragon vanished. 'Why?' I'd asked. I'd known Tree would be a disaster and so far as I could see the Dragon was doing OK. 'The judge has a hold on me.' That was all the explanation we got. Also, detailed instructions on the exits. From the high prison chamber, the Dragon had mapped all the plaza exits. 'Head to the Westmarch, meet me at the door to the Western tower. The admins don't know about the Mithlond exit.' We were dubious, but Tree checked it out and it turned out that the plaza Hobbits had never bothered to work out what age of the world they were in: The Westmarch was not the Westmarch but rather the Far Downs and the White Downs and the Tower Hills off beyond the western border of the Shire. So once passed Michel Delving and it was no-man's land. For sure, the plaza admins could step here, but when they did so they lost all their super-@dmin powers. And the White Downs were now full of barrows, where they'd dropped the bodies of the old Lorists, and the nuplaza admins feared those lore-wights of old. So, yes, this was still a plaza post, and yes, last time I'd been arrested at the exit, but this time would be different. And this was no egg-heist, not even a crime. The Dragon had danced on the blasted heath, vomited all those mornings, food fetishized, snapped and grumped, and finally delivered the Dragon's egg.

Two loose ends weighed on me. Only two, which was an achievement in itself. The first was the Dwarf. Utterly my own fault, absolutely the opposite of what was intended. The Dwarf was the only one on the plaza who actually enjoyed riddles. But the Dwarf was tough, and I was not unduly worried.

What hurt, what I could not quite forgive myself for, was the button. Such a beautiful button, shiny brass, a jewel among buttons - now languishing in the Discord hatchery. Technically, a raid on the hatchery was feasible, it only required swinging another of those Discord invites. But the button was not a magic ring, a seeing stone, or a dragon egg; it was just a button. And Discord was the place where plaza people lined up in a cue to scold me - I'd seen it before, that was how some of them got their kicks! So though it hurt, I was going to abandon the button to its fate.
Eat earth. Dig deep. Drink water.

Guardian of the Golden Wood
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Far Downs, lunchtime

Not far to the Tower Hills. I was sitting atop a hill, taking in the view. I'd eaten a little - goat cheese and olives, if you must know, a little bread, and some well-water, sourced from Lake Evendim. Talking of which... Time to take out the Fangorn map, and that nifty new button they had given me in Khazad-dûm, and take a look to see if the plan had worked out just as the Dragon had promised that it would.

Image
Eat earth. Dig deep. Drink water.

Guardian of the Golden Wood
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The Dwarf-button bestowed far-seeing. Not in an Elvish Stone way, merely a normal telescope sort of way, only it could provide sound too. But no jumping back over oceans of time. So what I could see now was the trail of destruction by which broken goblin corpses, axed huorns, and splattered vulture eggs marked the admin-trail from their Misty Mountain entry into the North, over the Loudwater, stomping on the Angle, and north-west in a terrible arc through the Weather Hills all the way to Fornost and on west to the great lake and the tower of the west.

I could spy the three of them now sitting by a pile of old stones by the lake. The Goose (no black robe) was attempting to swear in the stones as plaza deputies so that they could be delegated to make lunch. Morgoth was trying Ósanwe on the stones, and due to a profound confusion as to the incarnate nature of his own words, had actually made contact with the lament of a stone and fallen into a Faeiran Drama or Inferno all of his own. Arnyn was...

That was what Tree and me had objected when the Dragon set out the preposterous plan back in Fangorn. All this time, the @dmins have had the same Map. And now they know how to turn it the right way round! The Dragon had nodded, and said that this would send them to Angle, the opposite side from the exit, and that from there they would for sure head off on a wild goose chase seeking the lost palantíri of the North. We had nodded, but pointed out the weak spot in the plan.

Sure enough, the Ranger was peering out into the distance, in a south-south-westerly direction. Then she took out some contraption that I did not recognize, and put it to her eye.

Eeeeeek!

I had one of those plaza-LOTR mutual eye-contact moments that are always a little freekie. Then I saw the Ranger turn to her two colleagues and gesture to the Tower Hills and Mithlond beyond. But Morgoth was inside an Elvish dream and the Goose had gone somewhere else, as was her way, and so I saw the Ranger put away her knives, and take the moon out of a hidden pocket. Then she gave me another of those winks.

Time to get going.
Eat earth. Dig deep. Drink water.

Guardian of the Golden Wood
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Emyn Beraid, High Tea

Sitting with my two partners in our office at the bottom of the three hills. The journey was undisturbed and now we are preparing to draw lots for who has to carry the egg up the Hill to the Dragon. Good thing it is only the front door of the tower and not the topmost chamber! But one of us is going to have to walk up the Hill. So we have called for more than the usual high tea delicacies, and are now on a third serving of steak-and-kidney pie.

Double L - I should distinguish between partners: your writer is 'Just Hill', and there is also 'Two Ls' - as I was saying, Double L has pulled out the Fangorn map and we also have open an appendix of the Red Book, and Two Ls is plotting the route that the Mordor @dmin-posse should have taken.
September 18: The Black Riders cross the Fords of Isen.

September 22: The Black Riders reach Sarn Ford at evening; they drive off the guard of Rangers.

September 23: Four Riders enter the Shire before dawn. The others pursue the Rangers eastward, and then return to watch the Greenway. A Black Rider comes to Hobbiton at nightfall. Frodo leaves Bag End.

September 24, 25: no entries

September 26: The Old Forest. Frodo comes to Bombadil.
September 27: Second night with Bombadil.

September 28: The Hobbits captured by a Barrow-wight.
Source: Appendix B.

Conclusion: The Shire riddle plan appears to have worked. Learning the lesson from October 6, the mobile users turned their phones on the side, looking for all the world like those square sweets that look round in Mordor, and looking in the wrong direction they hit the east road. Had they picked up the books and traced the canonical route out of Mordor they would have swung west out of the Towers of the Teeth and come up at Woody End from the south. Then they would have cut me off at the crossroads, and the Dragon's Egg would have changed hands. But their technology knocked them off their ponies! That is what watching the movies does for you.

Still, our Hobbit hearts were not yet easy. One of the admins, the Judge, had got the Shire riddle in the end. Nobody down in the valley of Emyn Beraid was celebrating yet.

Time. I had drawn the short straw. As Adamanta Chubb used to tell her trainee librarians, 'Better go to the dragon, or the dragon comes to you.'
Eat earth. Dig deep. Drink water.

Guardian of the Golden Wood
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In the house of Fairbairn the Fat

Not the artist who gave us Undertowers modernism, a distant ancestor. One of the first of the pre-colony settlers. Built his houses when the Elves were still knocking about. The Elves liked Fairbairn the Fat because he made the best mead this side of Beorn's house. Having trotted all the way up to the top of the Hill and handed the dragon egg to the proud Dragon, who had placed it tenderly in a secret pocket and flown off into the western sunset, I'd called in at the house of Fairbairn the Fat on my way home. The usual crowd were taking out their musical instruments - I knew each of them already from the different colours of hood hanging on the coat rack. And there was my favourite Dwarf, mandrake in one hand and spoon in the other, mixing up another of those amazing cups of tea. O yes!

:heart:
Eat earth. Dig deep. Drink water.

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I had a thought. Three Hobbits meet Gildor Inglorion on Sept. 24 in Woody End, and Gildor is returning from the Stone in Elostirion. Frodo and Sam are one thread, which I have traced. The third Hobbit is Pippin. This illuminates why it is Pippin who has the Seeing Stone misadventures later on, sneaking a peak in the Orthanc Stone and sharing mutual vision with the eyes of Sauron, and then watching Denethor go insane. All this while, Merry was getting the house ready in Crickhollow.
Eat earth. Dig deep. Drink water.

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This is a fantastic map I found online on Council of Elrond. Someone has marked the travels of Gandalf and Pippin in March, 3019 TA. But I post to draw your attention to the proximity of two events of the same day noted in Appendix B:

September 18, 3018 TA: Gandalf escapes from Orthanc in the early hours. The Black Riders cross the Fords of Isen.

But the paths are assunder - Gandalf turns up in Edoras, a beggar selling buttons on the dootstep! And two days later the Black Riders reach Sarn Ford, following the admin-path to Undertowers from out of the Towers of the Teeth (the canonical path, not the arc-of-the-palantiri out of Angle that our three wonderful admins actually went in their hopeless pursuit of the dragon's egg).

Frodo does not dream of Gandalf rescued from the top of the tower until September 26, the first night in the house of Bombadil.
Eat earth. Dig deep. Drink water.

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Here is the whole route, from Mordor up to Emyn Beraid. When you look at the map as a whole it is clear that one should not be too hard on the admin-posse. It is a long way, and they got much of it right. It is the tricky history of the northern kingdom that threw them, and to be fair, it would have thrown old plaza admins too.
Eat earth. Dig deep. Drink water.

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