Muse Quest - Chapter 5: Fangorn and Uruks and Elves... Oh My!

Eredolyn screamed as something grabbed her by the ankle and pulled her back into the forest. The others screamed, too, and after a shocked pause, threw themselves back into the tangled undergrowth, determined to rescue their friend. Eredolyn's screams echoed off the trees just ahead, then suddenly stopped.

Fearing the worst, the other two battled their way through the branches into the small clearing around the sign they'd seen earlier, where they saw a horrific sight - a circle of snarling Uruk-Hai, one of whom was still dangling Eredolyn upside down by her ankle. Their screams redoubled in volume, but Eredolyn made an impatient shushing motion (difficult to do while hanging by one's foot).

"Look, you guys!" she gushed excitedly. "Orcs!" The Uruks bared their teeth at the duo, who were gripping their weapons and staring in various degrees of shock and fear. "No, seriously!" cried Eredolyn. "They're real! Don't they look just like you imagined? They even smell bad!"

The orc holding Eredolyn dropped her unceremoniously on the ground, unsheathed his scimitar, and snarled, "We do not!"

"Eredolyn!" hissed Dilly. "Stop that!"

Eredolyn, however, was still beaming at the fulfillment of her greatest dream - to someday see Middle-earth. "This is amazing!" she cried. "These guys are even bigger than the Kiwis that played them in the movies! Hey, Uruk-hai! Can you do that whole head-butting thing?"

"Back away slowly..." muttered Tuima.

"From the orcs or from the madwoman?" Dilly whispered caustically.

"Both," said Tuima firmly, and took a step back - into the waiting grip of another Uruk. Her knives promptly scythed through his arm, spattering her with black blood as she stumbled away.

"Urgh," commented Dilly. She looked as though she was about to say something else, or perhaps vomit, but only managed to croak, "Ugh," again before an orc seized her around the middle, pinning her arms to her sides. Dilly sniffed. "You guys do smell bad," she noted. "Yech."

"No, `yrch'," said Tuima, now in a fighter's crouch. She was holding two Uruks at bay with her knives, but a third came up unnoticed behind her and landed a hefty thwack on the side of her head with the flat of his weapon. Tuima swayed alarmingly, and the orcs took advantage of the opportunity to relieve her of her weapons before she slumped to the ground. "Ow," she said, clutching her head, and passed out.

"Hey!" said Eredolyn indignantly. She seized Dilly's fallen paintball gun and unleashed a barrage of cottonballs on the enemy, who merely looked tickled by her efforts (in more ways than one). Roaring with ugly laughter, they batted the feeble weapon from her hands and in moments she was trussed up as securely as the Cebu had ever been in her closet. And speaking of Cebu...

The orcs tossed the tightly bound girls into a heap at the side of the clearing. Of the three, only Eredolyn landed softly - on top of the prone form of the E.I. Cebu.

"Oof! Watch it - oh. Fancy seeing you three here!"

All she got in response was two glares and a groan (from Tuima, who was already coming to). Cebu laughed nervously. "Uh, so... Where's Eicys?" she asked, making a brave stab at conversation.

The attempt fell flat as the other two executed a flawless "Shun," turning as far as possible when tightly bound in orcish rope.

Some time later, Dilly was still squirming around, trying to avoid the omnipresent tree roots. She closed her eyes once again, audibly sighing.

Eredolyn laughed. "You can't sleep either, huh?"

"Are you kidding?" asked Dilly without even opening her eyes. "Please tell me you're kidding."

Eredolyn was about to respond when Tuima interrupted "Excuse me, I was just having a wonderful dream about chapter 41, and you woke me up!"

Dilly and Eredolyn laughed bitterly. "Well we have our wonderful E. I. Cebu to thank for being here in the first place. Stinkin' redhead."

The E.I.Cebu had been trying to sleep, but at this uncalled for remark, her blue eyes flew open and glared daggers at the three. "So you think being a redhead has something to do with this?" She tried to gesture to the surrounding trees and the orcs snoozing beneath them, looking like a wriggling fish in the process. The three made no attempt to conceal their snickers as the E.I.Cebu struggled to sit up.

"Come off, stupid ropes!" she hissed at her bonds, pulling them taut. "Ow!"

The others' snickers only increased. "Yha, like that'll work," said Eredolyn.

"Well, it did last time," Cebu said nonchalantly, enjoying her friends' outraged looks. "I got mad and yelled at the ropes and they fell right apart. You can't've tied those knots too well." She looked at Tuima smugly.

Tuima huffed indignantly. "How many times? It's real elvish rope! It had nothing to do with my knots - which I have spent several hundred years perfecting, by the way!"

"Come off the whole elf thing already!" Dilly snapped. "In fact," she thumped her way over to where Tuima lay calmly propped against a tree, "you can just take those stupid, fake, plastic, pointless, ugly Halloween ears off right now!!!" With that, she seized the point of one of Tuima's ears with her bound hands and gave it a vicious tug.

"Ow!" shrieked Tuima. "Let go!"

Dilly did so promptly, her eyes the size of saucers.

"Eredolyn..." she whispered slowly, never taking her eyes off the irritated elf. "Ere, her ears ... are stuck to her head..." Her voice rose in pitch and intensity, and she covered her face. "This is just too much!"

"Are you kidding?!" Eredolyn demanded incredulously. "This is great! Not only is Isengard a few miles away, not only have we met up with a real live band of Uruk-Hai, but now we get to be tied up next to an elf!"

"Wha... I... how... What?" Tuima stammered, outraged and confused. "What is wrong with... How..." she stuttered hopelessly, then finally threw her arms in the air and swore very nastily indeed in Sindarin.

The others ignored her completely. Dilly, still clutching her face in her hands, was rocking and moaning, "Oh, no. Oh, no, oh, no oh no! This cannot be happening to me... Wake up, Dilly!"

Eredolyn was talking jubilantly to no one about all the implications of their arrival in Middle-Earth, jabbering about "so many miles to Bree, and Lothlorien, and Rohan, and...!"

Cebu was not listening to either, instead talking around and through the frustrated Tuima. "Wow, so I was tied up with real elvish rope? Wow, I have rope from Middle Earth in my closet! I hope the others left it there... wow!" But she stopped mid-exaltation at a comment from Eredolyn, who was still happily conversing with a tree, thrilled that it was a Fangorn tree.

"And then if we travel far enough, we might run into the Fellowship - Aragorn and Legolas and Frodo and -"

"STOP RIGHT THERE!" shrieked Cebu joyously. The confused jumble of conversation sputtered to a halt.

"What?" asked Eredolyn. Then, as a dreamy lassitude crept over the Cebu's face, she and Dilly groaned loudly and simultaneously, "Oh, no."

"What's wrong?" demanded Tuima anxiously.

"She's obsessed with Frodo," Eredolyn sighed.

"Beyond obsessed," agreed Dilly. "Infatuated." Tuima was still looking blank, so Dilly turned to point at the redhead. "Just look at her," she gestured hopelessly.

Cebu was sighing rapturously and murmuring about "dreamy big blue eyes..."

Tuima looked very concerned. "What's wrong with her?" she asked.

But before Dilly could answer, Cebu interrupted gleefully. "We might even meet him, and then... You guys, we have to escape!"

"But I want to watch the orcs some more," protested Eredolyn.

"Forget the orcs! We got a Halfling to find!"

"What's tha' you said?" a nearby Uruk demanded unexpectedly, stalking closer to the trussed-up friends. "Somethin' abou' a halfling?"

Tuima hissed at Cebu in horrified protest, but it was too late. The redhead carried on joyfully, "Yes, he's absolutely gorgeous, and so brave, with that awful ring and all those Nazgul, and the big eye whenever he puts it on..."

Tuima buried her face in her hands and bit her bonds fiercely to muffle the scream (they tasted horrible). The orc was looking at the group with a kind of curious appraisal that she did not like at all. Finally, he lumbered away and began conversing in hurried whispers with the Uruk captain (Tuima could tell he was the captain, because he was the biggest and smelliest). As soon as they were out of earshot Tuima slid over to where the Cebu was still gushing about the Ringbearer, and administered a sharp smack to the top of her head.

"Ouch!" cried Cebu, rubbing it as best she could with her hands tied. "What was that for? That hurt!" She scowled at the group. "You chase me down, tie me up, throw me in a closet, torture me with spiders, and now you hit me? What kind of friends are you guys?"

Tuima took a deep breath and launched into a tirade the likes of which had not been seen since Fingolfin challenged Morgoth to single combat. "Listen up, the whole hopeless, useless, moonstruck lot of you!" She continued in that vein for some time, degenerating occasionally into elven insults and swearing in at least six languages. The others stared in fascinated horror as she denounced them to every Vala and Maia known to the Eldar and questioned their ancestors for seven generations.

"...This may be a fantasy trip in the woods for the rest of you, but it's my home, and if I wasn't afraid of being stuck in your ridiculous world again I would escort the rest of you out of this one right now, but in the meantime, we are stuck here surrounded by orcs, and what do you do? Reveal the most dangerous secret in the history of all Arda for them to hear! Do you realize what this means?"

There was a ringing silence, broken only by Tuima's ragged breathing. Then Eredolyn said in quiet awe, "We just got yelled at by an elf."

Tuima raised her hands, shrieked uselessly at the stars, and burst into inconsolable tears.

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