"Silence!" commanded Goodgulf in a loud voice. "Speak not of the Great Ring here or anywhere. If Sorhed's spies discovered of you, Frito Bugger, hailing from the Sty, had the One Ring, all would be lost. And his spies are everywhere. The Nine Black Riders are abroad again, and there are those who claim to have seen the Seven Santinis, the Six Danger Signs, and the entire Trapp family, including the dog. Even the walls have ears," he said pointing to two huge lobes which were protruding from behind the mantelpeice.
"Is there no hope?" gasped Frito. "Is nowhere safe?" "Who can know?" said Goodgulf, and a shadow seemed to pass over his face. "I would say more," he said, "but a shadow seems to have passed over my face," and with that he fell strangely silent.
"What was that?" asked Frito.
"It is an ancient lament in the tongue of the Auld Elves," sighed Garfinkel. "It tells of Unicef and his long and bitter search for a clean rest room. 'Are there no facilities here?' he cries. 'Is there no washroom?' No one seems to know."
"But what does that mean?" asked Bromosel, rather annoyed that he was being referred to in the dialogue as "the man with the pointed shoes."
"The Ring and its bearer must go hence," agreed Goodgulf, "but where? Who shall guard it?"
"The elves," said Gimlet.
"The dwarfs," said Legolam.
"The wizards," said Arrowroot.
"The men of Twodor," said Goodgulf.
"That leaves only Fordor," said Orlon. "But even a retarded troll would not go there."
"Even a dwarf," admitted Legolam.
Frito suddenly felt that all eyes were on him. "Couldn't we just drop it down a storm drain, or pawn it and swallow the ticket?" he said.
"Alas," said Goodgulf solemly, "It is not that easy."
"Alas," explained Goodgulf.
"Alackaday," agreed Orlon.
"But fear not, dear boggie," continued Orlon, "you shall not go alone."
"Good old Gimlet will go with you," said Legolam.
"And fearless Legolam," said Gimlet.
"And noble King Arrowroot," said Bromosel.
"And faithful Bromosel," said Arrowroot.
"And Moxie, Pepsi and Spam, said Dildo.
"And Goodgulf Grayteeth," added Orlon.
"Indeed," said Goodgulf, glaring at Orlon, and if looks could maim, the old elf would have been left in a basket.
Arrowroot strode over to Frito. "Do not fear," he said, sitting on a wolf, "we will guide you safely through.
"Pismo," he intoned, striking the door with his wand. "Bitumen. Lazlo. Clayton-Bulwer." Save for a hollow thud, the door made no sign of opening.
"It looks grim," said Arrowroot.
Suddenly the Wizard sprang to his feet. "The knob," he cried, and leading the pack sheep over to the base of the gate, stoof on its back on tiptoe and turned the great knob with both hands. It turned easily, and with a loud squeking the door swung open a crack.
"Aiyee!" shouted Legolam. "A Thesaurus!"
"Maim!" roared the monster, "Mutilate, mangle, crush. See, HARM."
Legolam opened one of the folders and pored over a map. "It isn't far to Elf Village," he said finally, "and unless the place has changed hands, Orlon's kin, Cellophane and the Lady Lavalier, still dwell there."
"Elfs," grumbled Spam. "Now I'm not saying Sorhed is right, but I'm not a-saying he's wrong, neither, if you get my drift."
"Shut up," said Legolam gravely.
Frito toyed with the Ring and wondered at her great beauty. As he stood, as if in a trace, Lavalier turned to him and saw him toying with the Ring and wondering at her great beauty.
"I see, Frito," she said, "that as you toy with the Ring, you wonder at my great beauty."
"Do not fear," she said, solemly tweaking his nose. "Nasties we're not."
Cellophane rose and greeted each of the travelers in turn, and motioning for them to sit down on the rubber toadstools arranged around the room, bid them tell the tale of their adventures.
Arrowroot cleared his throat. "Once upon a time," he began.
"Call me Ishmael," said Gimlet.
"Whanne in Aprille," started Legolam.
"Hear me, oh Muse," commenced Bromosel.
Lavalier sighed deeply. "Your journey is long and hard," she said.
"Yes," said Cellophane, "you bear a great burden."
"Your enemies are powerful and merciless," said Lavalier.
"You have much to fear," said Cellophane.
"You leave at dawn," said Lavalier.
"Ersatz!" bellowed Karsh as he angrily drew his four-foot snickersnee and deftly trimmed Goulash's fingernails to the elbow.
"Ook!" yelled Gimlet painfully as he hunkered down upon a mossy knoll, "that damned four-legged pot roast busted my coccyx for sure."
"The ride on your head," said Legolam in a snide tone of voice," it is much the softer and less valuable."
"Fetch off, hairdresser."
"Worry not," sympathized Legolam, throwing a more-than-compainonable arm around Arrowroot, "them dames are all alike, poison, every last one of them."
"Do we fight or flee?"
"Neither," said the Ranger, falling limp on the ground. "We'll all play dead!"
Legolam and Gimlet looked at each other and shook their heads. There were few things which they both agreed, but Stomper was definately one of them.
"Really got it, huh?"
Stomper jumped back with a cry, but it was the familiar pointed head of Gimlet that poked through the leaves.
"I did not see thee approach," said Arrowroot, sheathing his sword.
"Just trying to lose that jerk," said the dwarf.
"Who's a jerk, sirrah?" snapped Legolam, who had been molesting a chipmunk behind the tree.
"There is no time for courtly pastimes," said Goodgulf, "our diversion has failed and the enemy is now forewarned of our intentions. The hour to strike has passed and we are lost."
"Does that mean we can go home now?" asked Legolam.
"No!" said the Wizard, his medallion flashing in the sun, "for I see in the distance a vast army marching."
"Nuts," said Gimlet. "I thought we could call it a day."
In his hand he carried an ancient and trusty weapon, called by the elves a Browning semi-automatic.