Muse Quest - Chapter 3: The Trouble with Elven Rope

"Okay, this is now officially worse than Frodo in Shelob's Lair," thought E.I.Cebu, as she sat miserably in the corner of her closet, reflecting on the horrible ordeal she'd been through not an hour before. Dilly and Eicys had opened the closet door and thrown in three very furry, very real,
and very alive spiders. If there was one thing that struck fear into Cebu's heart, it was spiders.

She screamed and wriggled about as she heard blaring through the door an added feature to her torture: track #11 of the ROTK soundtrack.

"That'll get Lady Coralie to write for sure!" Cebu heard Eredolyn say.

"How much longer do you think Cebu will last?" Tuima asked. The room erupted with unfeeling laughter.

"Maybe," choked Dilly as tears leaked out of her eyes, "when Lady Coralie decides to grace us with a comment -- or this torture will never end!" After more laughter Tuima and Dilly finally opened the door again and took the spiders away from the cowering E.I.Cebu. Light from outside streamed in as Eicys gave a bowl of poorly made gruel to the prisoner, and then slammed the door. Dilly, Tuima, and Eredolyn, were now checking the chapter 40 comments for the third time in half an hour.

"She hasn't even acknowledged our threat!" cried Dilly, exasperated. "You'd think the mere mention of furry spiders would be enough to send Coralie into a typing frenzy -- it certainly sends Cebu into a frenzy!" Cebu managed to thump her way around in the dark and press an ear against the closet door.

"But Coralie doesn't even comment, and there's no sign of another chapter," Eredolyn sighed as she ran a hand through her close-cropped hair in frustration.

"Wait!" cried Dilly. "Look at this! Some guy just wrote." On the comments of Chapter 40, a new post had come up boasting a creepy picture of an old man with a message saying:

"Perhaps Coralie can comment, and perhaps she can't. It's entirely up to me at the moment!"- Olchir.

The four stared at each other in consternation. A muffled yelping came from the closet. "What's it say? What's it say?" Cebu cried.

To appease the prisoner, Dilly read Olchir's message out loud. "Ooh, wait till I get my hands on you, creepy man!" cried Cebu, grunting as she strained against her bonds.

Eicys rolled her eyes. "You're in no position to hunt down Olchir right now, sis!" she teased.

"That's what you think!" came the reply. Eicys shot a nervous look at the others, who looked apprehensively at the closet door. If Cebu escaped, their last weapon was gone.

But Tuima shrugged nonchalantly. "Don't worry, it's one of my knots. It won't come loose in a hurry. Besides, that's real elven rope I tied her with."

There was a pause in which the other three rolled their eyes at one another.

"But you don't think that was really Olchir, do you?" Dilly asked hesitantly.

"Nah, couldn't be," said Eicys, trying to reassure herself.
The girls dropped into silence. But Tuima, apparently not overly concerned about the message, plopped herself onto the Cebu's bed and picked up the last piece of food in the house, a package of stale graham crackers. She tore it open and nibbled on one, then made a face.

"It's not my fault," said Eicys. "You guys have eaten us out of house and home. My mom's gonna have a fit when she gets back."

"When does your mom get back?" asked Dilly nervously.

"Not for a couple of days," said Eicys, trying a graham cracker.

"What's going to happen if Coralie doesn't write by then?" asked Eredolyn, even more nervously.

Eicys spit the cracker into the trash can and sat back down wearily. "Then we're out of luck," she sighed eventually.

"Right," said Dilly firmly, seating herself in front of the computer again. "The time has come for drastic measures."

"I thought furry spiders constituted `drastic'," said Tuima.

"Nope," Dilly told her, typing busily. "Fluffy Pillows is what really constitutes `drastic'."

"Fluffy Pillows?!" cried the others, Cebu loudest of all. Dilly grinned wickedly and clicked `done,' sending Coralie their latest threat.


****


Cebu lay quietly in the dark closet. The room was silent; Eredolyn, Dilly, and Tuima had left to buy or scrounge more food, declaring what was left in the house, "not fit for an orc." They had left only only Eicys to guard her, and after some arguing, insults, and Eredolyn's best honeyed
voice, she had sulkily agreed. Now, however, Cebu could determine from the occasional sleepy murmur that Eicys was fast asleep -- and dreaming of food. Cebu bit her lip as she remembered her erstwhile friends' latest threat. She didn't know what Fluffy Pillows might be used for, but she wasn't going to hang around to find out. With three of her four captors gone, it would be now or never for her to break free. She sighed as she blinked in the darkness of her prison. At least she had her gruel spoon...


****


"Wow, that hit the spot!" Dilly smiled, now with a full stomach of hamburger and fries. The girls came back down to the basement carrying loads of hot Sonic Burger bags.

"This should last us two more days at least," Eredolyn commented.

When Dilly saw Tuima stagger nauseously behind them, she rolled her eyes and muttered, "Sheesh! Did you hear Tuima screaming while we were in the car? It's like she's never gone over 40 mph before!"

The girls giggled and entered the room. But when they saw the shocking sight before them, they suddenly had nothing to giggle about. They dropped all of their bags when they saw Cebu's closet wide open, the elven rope tossed aside, and an empty bowl, minus one gruel spoon, abandoned in the makeshift prison. Mortified, the girls turned to the bed and found Eicys in peaceful slumber.

Exploding with rage, Eredolyn grabbed one of the burger bags and began beating Eicys over the head with it. "No! Stop!" Dilly cried. "That one has the onion rings in it!"

"Of all the careless, stupid-!" Eredolyn yelled.

"OW! OW! STOP!!" Eicys squealed, shielding her head from Eredolyn's wrath. "What did I ever do to you?!" Eredolyn pulled her up and pointed towards the empty closet. Eicys gaped.

"Oh, uh...that. But...how did she..?!!"

Dilly examined the empty bowl. "Her gruel spoon," she muttered. "She picked the lock. But HOW did she get out of this?" Dilly held up the limp, silver rope which still held one intricate knot.

Eredolyn grabbed at it and became enraged when it promptly fell apart as smoothly as if it were a slip knot. She whirled on Tuima. "So, it's one of YOUR knots, and it won't come loose in a hurry, huh?!"

"Its real elvish rope." Tuima said simply.

"And what is that supposed to mean?"

"Elven rope will come undone if you command it to." Tuima said. "But I thought that Cebu, being a mortal, wouldn't think of that."

Now it was Dilly's turn to get upset. Eicys held her back as she spat at Tuima, "That's IT! I'm sick of you sighing over 'the wonder of chocolate' and screaming every time the car goes over 50! I'm sick of staring at your Halloween ears and wondering when they're going to fall off! And now
you're acting high and mighty with your 'magic rope' and pretending to be some kind of IMMORTAL?!"

Tuima drew herself up full height, eyes flashing, thoroughly ready to reveal that she was in fact an under warden of Lothlorien and daughter of an Elven Lord to boot, but Eicys jumped in and said "Look! Pinning blame on people isn't going to help us here! Cebu has escaped. But she only has, what, an hour head-start?" The others nodded, distracted from their quarrel.

"So we can get her easily," said Tuima. "Let's think logically -- she couldn't have gone out of the front door, because it was still locked when we came back."

"So that means Cebu went out the back!" Dilly said. "Into the woods!"

"All right, gang! Forget the next batch of gruel and fluffy pillows for now!" Eredolyn cried.

"We're going on a hunt! We must retrieve The E.I.Cebu or else we will have no power to make Lady Coralie write! Let's suit up and move out!"

The girls shuddered at the thought of Lady Coralie never writing Chapter 41, so Eicys immediately rooted through every closet in her house for dark clothing, while Dilly found some black paint and smeared it on everyone's faces. Eredolyn and Tuima stuffed as many hamburgers
as they could into backpacks while bee bee and paint ball guns were distributed and loaded with cotton balls.

"Fellow torturers! The hunt is on!" Eredolyn declared. "Oh, and the next time someone wants to feed a prisoner, forget the gruel spoon! Just FLING the freakin' gruel at them!"

*coming soon: "Into the Woods"! (In which the fanatics ... Meet someone they did not expect. Does that comfort you?)

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