Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Deuce Baggins, Private Eye - chapter 6

If you want to spend a really miserable night, I highly recommend lying in an open rowboat in the rain. Doc may have had some magic spell to keep the rain off when he was using it, but that option wasn't open to me, so I just watched in the dark while the rainwater formed an ever-growing pool in the bottom of the boat. I finally found a wooden cup, and started using it to empty the water over the side.

Eventually the rain stopped, and I started seeing the stars here and there in the sky as the clouds finally began to lift. My clothes were soaking wet, so I took them off and hung them along the sides of the boat in the probably futile hope that they would dry out. There was a sort of bench spanning the middle of the boat, and I was able to stretch out on it, with my head resting on one side of the boat and my feet on the other. I was still cold, but at least I wasn't wet any more, and that was as comfortable as I was going to be for a while.

I took the opportunity to try to figure out what was what in the case so far. Miss Rushlight, despite her attempt to pass herself off as one of the Big Folk from the Bree-land, was a Rivendell elf. She had somehow gained possession of Sauron's master control ring, which had been missing for three thousand years. How she came across it, there was no way of knowing, but the question of where was easier to figure out. She was from Rivendell, so that was probably where she got the ring. The way she acted made it clear that she knew what she had.

So, she gets ahold of the lost control ring, and decides to travel to Bywater and hire me to take it to Minas Tirith. Why not take it there herself? Because the damned thing was dangerous, as the arrival of Mr. Khamûl made clear. So Miss Rushlight needs a patsy, and she settles on me. She travels all the way from Rivendell to the Shire, puts the ring in the box, puts a spell on the box to keep me from opening it, and hires me to take it to Minas Tirith, feeding me some cock-and-bull story about it being a family heirloom that she's sending to her brother.

Then there's Mr. Khamûl, who is clearly not your typical Big Guy. Based on the general air of creepiness surrounding him, and that spooky horse with the glowing red eyes, I figured he was the reason Miss Rushlight had been so cagey. Somehow, Mr. Khamûl had got wind of the fact that Miss Rushlight had the ring, and he was out to get it himself. He didn't strike me as being the sharpest knife in the drawer, so I figured he was working for someone else, identity presently unknown.

And then there was me, Deuce Baggins, private eye and all-around patsy. I had the ring, but damned if I knew what to do with it. Miss Rushlight wanted it taken to Minas Tirith, for reasons unknown. I had agreed to do so, and had taken her money, so as far as I was concerned that meant that I was working for her. If she wanted the ring taken to Minas Tirith, then that's where I would take it. My current assets consisted of the ring itself, currently hanging from a chain around my neck; a non-magical ring in a non-magical box, currently ensconced in a leather wallet beneath my head; twenty-three crowns in gold coins from Miss Rushlight, also currently ensconced in the leather wallet; and several articles of clothing, currently hanging here and there around the boat, drying out. Oh yeah, and the boat itself, a forced loan from Doc Gandalf. The majority of Miss Rushlight's money was back in my office, in a hollow behind a section of wall that no one but me knew about (I hoped).

My musings were interrupted by the boat coming to a sudden halt. Looking down, I could see that it had reached one of the banks of the Water. I sat up on the bench and looked around. There wasn't much to see in the dark, but the stars provided more light than the earlier clouds had, enough to make out the water of the Water. The boat had lodged itself on a sand bank in the middle of the stream, with the Water flowing away to either side. The sand bank led to higher ground, a full-fledged island in fact crowned by a forest, and I suddenly realized where I was. About twenty miles downstream from Bywater, the Water divided in two. The two branches of the Water went around a big island before meeting again around eight miles downstream. The village of Frogmorton was about four miles down the south branch.

I had a decision to make. I could either free up the boat and continue down the Water to the Brandywine River, or I could abandon it and make my way overland. My last meal had been at the Green Dragon, and I hadn't brought any food with me. I'd have to pick some up somewhere, and Frogmorton seemed as good a place as any, especially since I wasn't sure I'd be able to bring the boat to land on purpose if I wanted to. The south branch of the Water was shallow enough for me to cross it into Frogmorton without too much trouble. I didn't have enough money with me to buy a pony, but if I wanted to I could walk across country to the Bucklebury ferry, and once in Buckland I could probably hit up some of my Brandybuck relatives for some cash, and maybe even the loan of a pony.

Or, if I felt like roughing it and wanted to risk my neck in the boat, I could pull it back into the Water and continue downstream along the north branch. That would get me to the Brandywine, and I could float downstream from there to Bucklebury. It would also keep me out of Mr. Khamûl's reach, and I would just as soon not meet up with him again. Which way I went would depend on whether I was more worried about drowning or about Mr. Khamûl's big black sword.

The decision was taken out of my hands, though, because while I was sitting there turning over the pros and cons in my mind, one of the Big Folk came walking out of the trees on the island, coming to a halt next to the boat.

"I don't often see one of you Little Folk sunbathing," the Big Guy said. "Especially in the middle of the night."

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5

2 comments:

solnushka said...

So Mr. Khamul, Mr Voldemort and Ms Yiga walk into this pub, right...

Superb.

Mind you, you'd better not be messing with Aragorn.

Johnny Pez said...

Mind you, you'd better not be messing with Aragorn.

Oh, dear. Oh, deary deary dear.

That sounds like a challenge.