i Nili o i Ardanole Newsletter:

Your source for Lord of the Rings News, Updates, Poetry, Art, Parody and Satire.


Issue 51, Volume 3, April 1st, 2005.

Editors: Perian, Xara. 
Chief Correspondent: Prongs.
Columnists: Lady Morrigan Shadow, Padfoot, Cerridwen.
Archivist: Ivy.
Contributor(s): Eowyn Evenstar, Frodo's Friend, Kitty.

In this issue: Merryyy!
Mere Comic Relief! Ha! by Perian.
Merry - Spymaster Imposter? by Xara.
Did Merry Have Bugs Up His Pants? by Xara.

In every issue:
Fanfiction: This Fortnight: If the Light Should Ever Fade: Part Eight by Cerridwen.
Xara's Random Fandom.
Ask Samwise.
Tolkienish, provided by Perian.

Find past archives or contribute at http://inili.iwarp.com/

Mere Comic Relief! Hah!
By Perian
  Welcome back once more, everyone. I hope you have enjoyed your holidays, and have resolved to read The Lord of the Rings again, even though you didn't start it when you said you would. Resolutions are funny things, aren't they? For example: About six weeks ago, as I gleefully approached the new opportunity of school - and yes, one does have to be away from it for a decade to approach it with such glee - it occurred that I would have to do the unthinkable: write essays. Oh, lovely, I thought. I've never had a hard time writing. My word count is often spot on. It will be easy, I can even try to use humour, I've ... never written an essay in my life! I'm going to DIE! < Followed by a brief and liberating session of hyperventilation.
  As always my co-editor, to whom I eagerly whine about such things, had a solution: Write a Lord of the Rings based essay for practice. Great! I could use it for the newsletter. She gave me a topic of the necessity of Meriadoc Brandybuck in the fellowship, a word count of 1,000, and I set down a deadline of March 25th (Ring Day, or more appropriately Un-Ring Day), with the assurance that it would be finished in a few days instead. It is now approximately 3:47 a.m. on Tuesday the 28th; a far more honest and cynical time for the average student writer, and is, it might be added, a full three 'real' essays later. Sod the essayishness, an article is in order! So, without further fashionable procrastination, over to Merry.
  Those who casually read or view The Lord of the Rings are often under the impression that the sole purpose for the existence of the hobbits Merry and Pippin is to provide comic relief. Improbable! Blasphemy! Yes, it is in the latter case, but not in the former - kidding, kidding! Save me from the Peregrinophiles! Oh, and not all casual readers take this point of view. It is generally the modern fantasy fans. You know, the D&D and Dragonlance folk. Don't get me wrong, some of these poor souls are very dear friends. Usually with each other. You might call it a generic civil war. One in which I am happy to say I have often fought and won many a-verbal battle. To these types a hero has a strict set of guidelines to follow. If a male he is somewhere between 5'11 1/2" and 7'6", wields a very heavy sword, is the illegitimate or abandoned or orphaned son of someone or other, and can take on a whole field of baddies and win with no more personal consequence than a few honourable war wounds for a fair queen to tend as if she had nothing better to do. This stereotype is not so very new. At very least it dates back to the French creation of Lancelot du Lake, famous Arthurian imposter. The female hero is often either elf, spectacularly beautiful, pure, and flighty; or Amazonian and all clad in chain-mail from Victoria's Secret. Merry, not quite fitting with either of these, becomes an excessive character. As he is not a villain, either, that can mean only one thing: mere comic relief. Hey, he fits, doesn't he? Short, cute and funny? His name is Merry, for crying out loud!
  Ahem, ahem. Think again.
  Comic relief is anything but mere! It is an essential psychological element! It's what makes people read the whole way through The Lord of the Rings, at least the first and perhaps the second time, without rolling their eyes, setting aside the book with a laugh and saying aloud (to the horror of whomever is in the room, though they'll get used to it as the years with this budding maniac go by) "What ridiculous tosh!" You see, readers need something to laugh at, or else they'll laugh at the book as a whole, and that would not be good. (Wow. Ninety words in seven minutes. If only I could do so well with my ess- er, sorry). When reading The Lord of the Rings the readers know from reading The Hobbit, or from previous readings, or, yes, <sigh> from watching the films, to suspend their beliefs about 'reality' and hang their doubts outside the covers. When the idea of demons in black robes who smell their way around begins to feel comical, who's there to shift the focus away? Why, Merry! That poor, amusing, defenseless lad who 'fell over' when they approached him in Bree. There was a time when such falling over was known as swooning. Oh, the embarrassment he must feel! Those wraiths are worse than the friend who stuck your hand in a bowl of warm water at your sleepover when you were turning five. Yes, the trick does work, but I wouldn't recommend trying it now you're older unless you want to do the resulting laundry. There, see how quickly Merry shifted the amusement focus?
  Further examples of this are in The Two Towers. First we're introduced to the Uruk-Hai. Goblins? Half-goblins? Oh, come now ... aren't they the sort of things which have big, floppy ears and slink dirtily after the evil henchmen of children's stories with large sacks over their shoulders? And these ones are half human? Eww. Don't even let the imaginations of the i Nili Staff (Xara excluded) linger on that one. Once again Merry comes to the rescue. Our comic relief is injured after aggressively lobbing off a few hands. Aww! How torn we become 'twixt tears and giggles. We almost don't notice the rolling Uruk heads. And how about the walking, talking trees? Thank goodness for Merry leading the way into that scene!
  And last but not least, after that pinionless bird, that fell beast falls in the battle plains outside the walls of Minas Tirith in The Return of the King. Durnhelm aka Eowyn's going to die! Oh shite. Slain by a headless crown! Double shite. What can we do, what can we do? You can't kill something that isn't there! That's ridiculous! Dear, oh dear, what can be d- wait a minute. Is that... And lo! There is Merry! Trust the absurd little hobbit to stab the absurd nasty robe in the knee (how exactly does one define the knee of a shapeless robe? Anyhoo...) and make us feel warm and fuzzy and believing inside. He even comes to the rescue at his own sickbed, popping out of his state of near death with a demand for food and a pipe. <Takes off her hat and wipes away a tear.> Beautiful bit of comic relief writing that. Trust me, that comic fellow has been a relief to many tedius modern lives.
  Not what you were expecting, eh? [Final word count: 1139.]

Merry - Spymaster Imposter?
By Xara.

  Everyone who's ever seen or read Lord of the Rings will remember Meriadoc Brandybuck. That merry young hobbit with a sharp mind and wit to match. Isn't it a funny coincidence his name matches his personality? Bit of a strange coincidence too. Could it be, that the fact that Merry is actually quite merry, is no coincidence? Could Merry Brandybuck be an alias? "Impossible!" I hear you say, but don't be too hasty. Let us consider this notion a moment before we dismiss it. If Merry were an imposter, our first question would be, why? What possible reason could he have? A spy for the enemy? Not likely, considering Merry actually helps the Ringbearer on numerous occasions and at the opportune moment to reveal his treachery, when he is kidnapped by the uruk-hai, he does nothing but endures much pain and hardship, not to mention almost certain death instead. Merry was no double agent. So what then? Well, if he was not spying for the enemy, could he be spying for the forces of good?
Now, here is what I am proposing. This notion too would be completely ludicrous, had Merry not himself confessed to running a secret spy-ring observing the Bagginses. I am referring of course, to the famous conspiracy to which Peregrin Took, Fredegar Bolger and Samwise Gamgee are recruited. So let us look at what we know of Merry Brandybuck from the beginning, with this new angle.
The first mention we see of Merry is aged nineteen after Bilbo Baggins's famous vanishing act, when he is helping Frodo at Bag End. It is soon mentioned that Merry is one of Frodo's closest friends and often visits Bag End, or goes tramping around the Shire with him, along with Pippin. Now for Pippin this does not seem so suspicious, he only lives a short distance from Bag End after all, but Merry? He supposedly lives at Brandy Hall, which, as demonstrated in later chapters, is a good two days walk to Bag End on foot! Is it really possible that Merry would go to visit Frodo quite so often when the distance was so great? Or could it be, that the reason Merry visits so often is that he is not the son of Saradoc and does not want Frodo to find out? Perhaps he does not even live in Buckland at all.
Let us consider this new scenario. If Merry wasn't the only son of the Master of Buckland, then who was he? Well, wouldn't you know, it was around the time that Merry first appears that Gandalf first began to have his suspicions about Bilbo's ring. Could he have recruited a bright young hobbit to keep an eye on things while he was away? It could not be a hobbit from The Shire, someone would surely recognise him. But there are hobbits aplenty in Bree. And Merry certainly does seem to have a good knowledge of the lands surrounding Bree, the Old Forest for instance, knowledge of which he accredits to his Buckland upbringing, but was it?
It seems to me quite likely that Merry, real name unknown, was in fact Gandalf's bright young prodigy, who infiltrated the Shire under a false alias and at once began to collect information. Let us remember just how much he and his fellow conspirators knew of the Ring by the time Frodo arrived at Crickhollow (For details see 'A Conspiracy Unmasked', Chapter 5, The Fellowship of the Ring). There had to be more to that than chance encounters and lucky guesses. The conspiracy has all the hallmarks of professionalism. It is quite likely that Merry's fellow conspirators had no idea of his real identity, and truly believed themselves to be acting merely in concern for their friend, indeed they were, for Merry the spy had no malicious intent, and there is no reason to believe that he didn't return Frodo's feelings of friendship. But perhaps it was more than chance that brought the two together. Perhaps it was more than chance that Merry was able to gather so much information on the Ring. Perhaps Meriadoc was no Brandybuck, but a clever hobbit spymaster, working for the forces of good.

Did Merry Have Bugs Up His Pants?
By Xara.

With thanks to Perian.
[What did I do? -ed.]

  A stupid question you might think, but did he? "Of course not!" you might say, but would you be right? What proof do you have that he did not? "Well, what proof do you have that he did?" I hear you say. A just question. There is no proof at this point in time either that he did, or that he didn't. The only way to tell for sure would be to make a first hand observation. However as soon as he got wind of what I was attempting to find out and how, the young hobbit in question scampered off and I was not quick enough to catch him. "Damnit, so I guess we'll never know..." Not true! There are other ways of finding out. It would certainly not provide conclusive evidence, only observation could do that, but it'd be a start.
  "Where is this evidence of which you speak?" Patience, patience! I was just getting to that! The evidence my friends, comes from Tolkien's account of the War of the Ring. I am of course referring to the Lord of the Rings. For, having been contemplating the very question you see in bold above this article (I had recently observed a photograph of young Meriadoc which looked suspiciously as though he did have bugs in his breeches) I came across a certain passage in Tolkien's second volume; The Two Towers. "Merry groaned. Seizing him roughly, Ugluk pulled him into a sitting position, and tore the bandage off his head. Then he smeared the wound with some dark stuff out of a small wooden box. Merry cried out and struggled wildly."
  "What evidence is that?!" you might ask. "Surely he's squirming because of the stuff Ugluk put in his cut?" Do you really think so? Do you really think that Merry would struggle when the kindly orc was healing him? Surely not! I say surely, there must be some other explanation for his distress. And here is my hypothesis; Merry, having on some occasion picked up some nasty little bugs which decided to reside in his pants during his travels in the wild, found to his consternation and embarrassment that he was unable to persuade them to leave. Naturally this would cause him much uncomfortability, however not being able to admit his sorry predicament to his fellows, he instead became accustomed to hiding it from them. However, having been woken so suddenly by Ugluk he forgot and "...struggled wildly..." or rather, squirmed wildly, because of the bugs!
  This one piece of evidence alone would not be enough to prove anything. However this is not the only time in which he is recorded to behave strangely, behave in fact as though he has bugs up his pants, after being woken suddenly. When he was under the influence of the Black Breath in Bree and Nob from the Prancing Pony discovered and woke him, Nob reported afterwards that "...as soon as I had roused him, he got up and ran back here like a hare." For what possible reason might he have done that? He was not scared of the Wraiths, they were already gone! Could it be that in fact Merry's masquerade was down from the combined shock of being woken and the incapacitating influence of the black breath, and that he was in fact springing up and running because of the bugs residing in his breeches?
  It could very well be the case. And this is not all that I have to say on the subject. I have in fact pin-pointed the time in which I think the wretched bugs first crawled into poor Merry's pants. When Merry is trapped inside Old Man Willow, Tom Bombadil observes; "...Merry's feet sticking out - the rest had already been drawn further inside...His legs began to kick." There are many bugs inside of trees, and probably especially nasty ones inside an especially nasty tree. Could it be that whilst trapped inside the tree, Merry began to experience the strange and horrid sensation of bugs crawling into his pants, and so, as Tom Bombadil observed, began to kick?
  Until we have caught the little hobbit, we'll never know for certain, but the evidence is too startling to ignore. Did Merry have bugs up his pants? At this stage I can only answer; it's possible.

Reviewed by Ivy

  What do you get when you mix a plane crash, a scary monster, and Dominic Monaghan? Lost, that's what. Lost is a new show on ABC, documenting the lives of survivors of a plane crash. There's only a few problems: The giant, unseen monster tearing down trees in the forest, the French lady who's been on the island for sixteen years, and of course, the 'others' who keep kidnapping people. If you want to find out what happens next? Well, you'll just have to watch it!

This Fortnight: If the Light Should Ever Fade
Part Eight
By Cerridwen

  "Behind you!" Elrohir warned Meluiwen as they tried to keep Haradion's forces from entering. Spinning on her heel and dodging a swipe, Meluiwen brought her sword around and dispatched of the threat with quick reflexes. Elrohir lunged forward, stabbing a warrior that had darted behind her, and narrowly missing getting stabbed himself as another blade swung over his head. The two continued, darting in and out of the fray, pushing Haradion's forces back, trying to buy Aragorn enough time to get Arwen to safety.

  Across the building, their fight was being mimicked as Elladan and Ciryawen held down their end of the stronghold. The two had a different strategy, with Ciryawen blocking attacks as Elladan rapidly shot arrows into the warrior's midst. Ciryawen darted forward, swinging her sword forward as she pushed back the warriors that had gotten too far forward for her likes. Elladan firing off several arrows into the area she'd just vacated. The pattern continued, with Ciryawen continually pressing the forces back and Elladan removing the threat as fast as he could. He knew the arrows wouldn't last forever and as sure, they ran out quickly. Arming himself with his sword, he joined Ciryawen, as she fought to keep her ground.

"You cannot defeat me!" Haradion hissed at Eiliandel as he slowly circled her. Eiliandel responded by causing the stone floor under his feet to erupt in a jumble of stones, throwing him off balance just as a blast of wind knocked him over. He glowered at her as he climbed to his feet, grabbing his staff. Eiliandel was an enchantress, not a wizard, so she did not own a staff with which to defend herself from the onslaught of magic he launched.
  She was blown back, stopping only when she met the far wall with extreme force. Realizing what he'd done, Eiliandel regained her footing nimbly, knowing not to remain in one place. Sure enough, as soon as she'd moved a large stone impacted where she'd been. Grabbing a load of dust from the air, Eiliandel blew it in his face, hoping to earn herself time. Yelling in rage, Haradion, clawed at his eyes, leaving her unchecked. Moving herself farther away from him, Eiliandel reached safety just as Haradion's eyesight returned. Now seething in anger with her, their battle began in earnest, the entire stronghold being shook continually as they attempted to gain the upper hand.

  "ESTEL!" Arwen gave a shout as the entire room began shaking. They moved closer to the door that they'd been trying to break down, Aragorn shielding Arwen from the crumbling stones falling from the ceiling.
  Pressing themselves against the door, they avoided the stones falling in the centre of the room, "Arwen! Move away from the door! Come this way!" Aragorn shouted as he saw a large crack developing in the ceiling. She moved, just as the stones above the door gave way, sending up a dust cloud as they hit the floor. As it settled, Aragorn was able to make out a large hole above the door, large enough for them to fit through. Grabbing Arwen, he pulled her towards the hole, picking her up so that she could reach the edge of the hole. Once she'd found a hold he watched as she hauled herself through the hole and then disappeared as she went down the other side. Landing with the legendary grace of her people, Arwen waited for Aragorn to appear as she struggled to keep her footing as the stronghold shook so hard that Arwen was sure it would collapse. Aragorn quickly arrived through the hole and, making sure he had a firm grasp on her arm, they ran down the stairs, trying to find the twins, Meluiwen, Ciryawen and Legolas, as it was not hard to find Eiliandel.

  Elrohir finished off the last warrior and turned to Meluiwen. Nodding to him wordlessly, the two looked towards Elladan and Ciyrawen to find them ending their battle as well. Legolas had assisted both twins by firing arrows from his position near the middle of the back hall. He gave them a nod as they looked towards him. He had been trying assist Eiliandel, but had been unable to get close enough to her. Thurin came running down the hall suddenly, gasping for breath.
  "Where are Aragorn and Arwen?" Legolas demanded as he came to a stop near the elf.
  "They've been detained." Thurin laughed maniacally as he pushed past, running towards the opening across from Legolas.
  "Meluiwen! Ciryawen!" Legolas shouted. The two looked up and, understanding, gave chase, managing to get in front of him. Attacking from both sides, the two drove him back, having to dart back a few steps as he pulled a sword out of his robes, trying to catch them by surprise. He single mindedly began to move towards the space between the two, obviously trying to break up the defense they'd set up. He didn't watch behind him as Legolas lunged in, attacking from behind. Elrohir and Elladan had remained at their posts thankfully, as a few remaining guards tried again to get in. The sounds of four separate battles filled the air, punctuated by the groaning of the stones as the stronghold was rattled to it's roots.

  Painfully standing, Eiliandel glared at Haradion, her face and body battered from holding off his attacks. Haradion, who for his lot, had earned himself a bloody nose by Eiliandel launching innumerable stones when he'd last managed to hit her, circled still, weaker than before, but more still more powerful that Gandalf himself. Eiliandel had felt her power slipping as she'd tried to fight him, defend herself and still hold the fog and wolves away from Minas Tirith. Knowing what she had to do to at least hold her own in the battle, Eiliandel sent a mental warning to both Novrion and Nenwen as she let the defences drop, "Wake up!".

  Novrion sat up in bed, having heard his wife's voice shout, "Wake up!" loud enough that she could have been standing next to him. Rolling out of bed and grabbing a sword, he wrenched open the door to his room, just in time to see Nenwen come running around the corner, her braid swinging behind her and her tiny bare feet making no sound as she ran towards her father. Grabbing her, Novrion settled her on his hip as he began to run towards Eomer's rooms, having every intention of waking him. He rounded to corner to see Eowyn walking back towards her rooms, she turned as he slowed to a jog, "What are you doing?" she gave him a quizzical look.
  "Eiliandel sent a warning," Novrion answered, just as Eowyn made a face, "What, what is it? he asked quickly.
  "Nothing. Just that the fog is back." Eowyn said.
  "It is what?" Novrion spun to look out the window, "No......" he breathed, his face draining of colour.
  Eowyn looked at him, "Why would........oh!" she realized what he'd thought. Eiliandel had promised to keep the city safe, and hold the fog and wolves back. The fog had returned, no doubt the wolves wouldn't be far behind, which left the question of what had happened to Eiliandel.
  "Wake Faramir and rouse the guards!" Novrion ordered, forcing himself to concentrate on the present, "Gather Eladrion and Neva and get to the safer levels of the palace!" he tossed the last command over his shoulder as he continued on to Eomer's rooms, not wanting to think of what must have happened to his wife and not daring to even say anything while his daughter was present.

  Thurin had not been lying when he'd said he was the pride of Talath's men but now he was having a hard time holding off even one of the elves.
  Meluiwen and Ciryawen had taken to attacking continuously from all sides, never holding still, darting in and out as fast as the breeze, only moving in when Legolas needed them to. Legolas for his part remained in Thurin's reach, challenging him directly, letting Meluiwen and Ciryawen's mere presence unnerve Thurin.
  "Where are they?" Legolas asked for the last time, losing his patience.
  "You'll never find them!" Thurin said. Knowing that they were short on time, Legolas began to move back, intending to let the exhausted traitor remain in the custody of the two women, so that he could find Arwen and Aragorn. In exchange for Legolas's kindness, Thurin chose to attack, sealing his fate as Legolas had no choice but to defend himself. Aragorn and Arwen ran up just as Thurin was finished off by a deft movement of Legolas's sword.
  "Legolas," Aragorn said as he approached, "Where is Eiliandel?" he asked just as fireball issued from another room. The twins jogged up, having defended the exits, and removed all threats. Elladan and Elrohir moved in towards their sister protectively as Aragorn put his cloak around her shoulders as they headed towards the flames. Arriving in time to hear Haradion's taunts.

  "Novrion," Eomer said quietly as they stood near the guards, having alerted the city and the palace of the renewed threat, "I am sure that she is fine," he tried to reassure the elf. Novrion's large blue eyes registered nothing but sadness as he looked up, saying nothing. They returned to their duty, guarding the palace from wolves as guards patrolled the city's wall, determined to keep the threat of attack to a minimum.

  Reeling from the last attack, Eiliandel stumbled to her knees, determined not to give up. "My, my," Haradion taunted from the safety of behind his staff, "You're just like your mother aren't you? She refused to accept defeat, and I believe you witnessed her fate." he gave an evil grin as Eiliandel's face flickered in pain from the memory. At the door, Arwen winced in sympathy as the other elves looked on in pity for the enchantress.
  "I hope you do not mind sharing your mother's fate," he taunted, "And to think, you too, will be leaving behind a daughter. I hope for her sake, you taught her magic."
  The threat to her daughter was too much, turning to the door, she looked at the others gathered there, "Go. Don't look back." she ordered them, as she began to move towards Haradion.
  He looked at her in contempt, "You couldn't save your mother, you will be unable to help your daughter and you cannot even defend yourself, what makes you think you can fight me?". Arwen and the others looked on in shock as Eiliandel gave a sad smile, and suddenly began to pull the stronghold down in on herself. The stones falling into the room with such force they cracked as they landed.
  "Arwen!" Aragorn pulled her back, as they moved out of the crumbling doorway.
  "Eiliandel!" Legolas shouted as he watched as she and Haradion continued to fight amid the falling stones. Eiliandel flung a fireball Haradion's direction as he shoved her into the plummeting rocks. She could not hear him over the clatter of rock on rock, nor the shuddering of the stronghold as Haradion tried to force the rocks to fall on her.
  "Come." Elrohir said softly.
  "She's ..." Legolas shook his head as he watched her.
  Elrohir looked mournfully in her direction, "She knows. Leave." Elrohir and Legolas were forced to run as the wall was shattered by one of the two magic users and the stones were hurled towards the combatants. Legolas's last glimpse of the woman he had sworn to protect was of her dodging a rock bigger than her entire frame.

  Aragorn kept a tight grip on Arwen's hand as they ran towards the exit. The other elves followed, dodging the stones. Even the far wall of the stronghold was being pulled in as Eiliandel and Haradion doomed each other to their fates. They made it out just as the entire complex collapsed, the sharp sounds of stones landing filling the night air. They looked back, gasping for breath as the tried to grasp the fate the Eiliandel had chosen. Such sadness marred the elves features that even the toughest warrior would have been swayed to pity.
  Legolas simply stood there, his hands hanging limply at his sides, "I promised," he said softly.
  "Promised?" Aragorn asked as tears began running down Arwen's face. He struggled not to cry as well, trying to remain strong for her, even though inside he was crying out.
  "Novrion. He asked me to take care of her. I promised and now I have failed." Legolas turned his face away. Meluiwen, Ciryawen and the twins stood off to the side, mourning among themselves as Aragorn held Arwen. For how long they stood there, hoping for a sign of the enchantress, no one knew but by morning, Eiliandel had made no appearance.

Random Fandom.

Xara: You are entertaining a visiting dwarf from the Blue Mountains and, to break the awkward silences that keep arising, make an inappropriate joke about his mother. You realize too late that this was less than wise, and your only option now is to escape, but how?
Frodo's Friend: I did the only thing that was left for me to do. I blamed an orc. "The Orc! The Orc made me say it!" Mr. Dwarf swung his axe, cracking my table, "What orc!" he roared. This was a good question. "uhh, well, the thing is, he left... yes, yes, he left, and he said something about going to your mother's house to steal her treasure!" The only thing dwarves hate more than jokes about their mother is to hear that an orc is stealing from them. So with a roar, he charged out the door. A few days later I received a letter from the dwarf to say that his mother and her treasure was safe, and that the orc had obviously been scared off by Mr. Dwarf's presence. He also sent me compensation for my table.
Xara: You have misplaced your best waistcoat which, as it happens, had your favourite ring in it's pocket. You need the ring back, but no amount of looking will reveal the coat!! But suddenly, you come up with a plan, a way of finding it! What is it?
Frodo's Friend: I hired a ringwraith...After the fiasco at Mount Doom, folks in Mordor had limited options for jobs. A few started doing honest (well, sort of) work. It was in their newsletter "Orc and Goblin are Frendz" that I found my answer: MISSING YOUR PRECIOUS? HIRE A RINGWRAITH! Since I was at my wits end, I decided to give it a try and got fantastic results! The wraith found my coat and ring within a week of me sending out the request. Apparently my gardener had borrowed it for a date with his girlfriend and had quite forgotten to give it back. The fee was quite reasonable, considering he had travelled all the way from Mordor. I recommend his services to anyone else in the same predicament!
Xara: A young Took has spent the past two days locked in your pantry. How did he get there?
Frodo's Friend: Well first off, it was my second pantry that he was locked in. You see, I have two pantries. In the first one I keep all my favourite hobbity treats - the best cheeses and teas and ales... and I keep the second one stocked with all the food that I don't mind sharing with company.
  On one particular night I was having some ale with some close hobbit friends. The younger hobbits (and there were quite a few) were entertaining themselves by playing hide and go seek throughout my humble hobbit hole. I had just made a trip to the second pantry for a bit more cheese. As I was closing the door the young Took darted in thinking it would be a good hiding place. I didn't notice him, for I already had drained a few pints!
  So it ended up that I didn't take anymore trips to the pantry that night, and we  were all a little too tipsy to do a proper head count of the young ones, so the mischievous little Took was stuck in my pantry until two days after, when I was expecting a visit from a VERY grumpy dwarf from the Blue Mountains.  Needless to say, the Took had gotten into everything and would have been quite comfortable if I hadn't found him for another week!

Ask Samwise.

  Dear Samwise,
  If I paid you say...twelve large sacks of mushrooms...would you do my exams for me?
  Dear Miss Xara,
  I'm on my way! Now, let me see... I have a sword, my cook gear, tinder box, salt ... rope! Where'd I put the rope? Here it is. Anything else I'll need?


WANTED: Person who could supply me with mushrooms, preferably of the magical variety. Am willing to pay. Contact hobbitsinskirts@gmail.com.

MISSING: My whole supply of chocolate. If found, please contact me immediately at (09) 853-2220.

Of Names, Part I. (Key: q.= Quenya, s. = Sindarin, where known.)
ar(a): (q., adjective) high, noble, royal. Aragorn, Arwen, Argonath.
atar: (q., noun) father. Illuvatar.
cal (q.), gal (s.): (verb) shine. Calaquendi (Light Elves), Galadriel, Gil-Galad.
celeb: (s., adjective) silver. Celeborn, Celebrian.

  Good for you Prongsie!
  I mean, really, why should you care if a person is attracted the same sex?  Its not your life, or you choice. One of my friends at school is gay. Steve (who is also gay) has been a family friend since I was like 5! I have absolutely no tolerance for people who can be so close-minded as to discriminate against people just because they are homosexual!
  Dear EE,
  Hear, hear. Minorities are always picked upon. There was a comment made not long after the article came out which... well, probably wouldn't be appropriate to publish here, but the basic gist of it is that minorities are always considered 'wrong' merely because there are less of them in positions of vocal dominance. People are so busy pointing out what's wrong in everyone else, and not working to change the things they know aren't exactly saintly about themselves.
  And yes, a great family friend at that. Say hullo to Steve for me,

  Dear Editor,
  May I first say to Prongsie and Rob I loved and completely agreed with your article, off-topic though it was. It is a pity that such bigotry still exists in our society. Paddy, nice one! I liked the analogy! There can never be enough Lord of the Rings/real life analogies in my opinion <wink>. Hey Perian, I never thought about Lord of the Rings like that, but I suppose it is a fan fiction! Hehe! That makes me feel so much better <wink>.
  Dear Xara,
  Grammercy! It makes me feel better, too... Good lead thing we're feeling better about it, too, as the fanfiction column is soon to be filled with <cough> material familiar to us. (Yes, peoples, the editors are going to have a hand at it for a while. How's that for a plug?) And I feel I must add my voice to everyone else's in commending lady Potter and master Stames for their article. And thank you for it as well - it's always wonderful when a topic which is generally skirted is approached head-on. Kudos.