Continuing my unfinished parody of The Hobbit that started here.
CHAPTER 4: THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF HOBNOB
“There are many paths and crossings leading through these peaks,” said Gadfly as they drew nigh again to the vast, flat expanse of the Missing Mountains. “But most lead to peril or dead ends up there in the snowy heights. Fortunate you are that I am here to guide you, for the true way is known to me.”
Bulbous rolled his eyes. “What are you talking about? It’s just an empty grassland. I could probably see the other end from here if I stood on a chair.”
“Show some respect!” snapped Gadfly.
* * *
To the Hobnob’s further surprise, the “path” Gadfly chose entailed a long and arduous climb; for the rest of that day, the Dwarves mimed the movements of scaling a steep rocky slope. Their progress, hence, was very slow, and Foolin’s ankle-spraining fall down a section of lack of mountainside did nothing to speed their journey. At one point late in the afternoon a band of armed Elves appeared and began to scale the level ground behind them, but they abandoned their pursuit as night approached.
As the sky began to darken, the band approached a single large boulder that stood alone on the mountain plain. The truly curious thing about this boulder, Bulbous noticed, was that just on the other side there appeared to be a community of several hundred Gobblers engaged in typical domestic Gobbler-y activities such as eating, drinking, and lounging in front of televisions watching reruns of old sporting events. A few others were engaged in activities that Bulbous preferred not to think about, though he thought he recognized at least one of the participants from one of those webcam sites he’d “accidentally” visited on occasion.
“We will rest here on this ledge for the night,” said Gadfly, “and be on our way again at first light.”
“Rest here!?” Bulbous asked, alarmed. “But what about all those Gobblers?”
“Gobblers there very well may be in these mountains,” the wizard replied, “but if Gobblers there are nearby, then they are well hidden in their deep caves and with luck will not trouble us.”
“But-! You-!?” Bulbous sputtered. “Fine, rest here if that’s what you want. I’m going to ‘climb’ for a while longer. I’ll meet you on the far side of these ‘mountains’ in the morning.”
* * *
Gadfly smiled in his sleep as a vision of loveliness drifted through his dreams.
“I’ve been watching you, Gadfly,” said the lithesome, scantily-clad Elf maiden as she crawled seductively on all fours to where he reclined on the soft grass, “and I’ve felt your eyes on me. I can’t keep pretending I don’t feel this way; I don’t care any more what the others think. I need you.”
The wizard gasped as she ran her fingers through his hair and pressed her body against his. He tentatively reached out one hand to touch her gently. He traced the contour of her body upward from her hip; her skin was soft and supple, yet… wrong, somehow.
Gadfly’s eyes snapped open. Above him was the visage of Thornless, his face – her face, the wizard realized suddenly, recalling that the descriptions he’d heard of dwarven women more or less matched those of dwarven men – only inches away, lips puckered for a kiss. Gadfly’s own hand was cupped around one of two vaguely feminine-shaped protrusions in the Dwarf’s beard.
At almost that exact moment, the boulder swung aside and out poured a horde of Gobblers, angry at the dwarves for camping on their very doorstep. Thornless and her companions had little time to wonder what had just become of Gadfly before they were captured and dragged bodily out of the starlit night and down a steep starlit nonexistent staircase into the very starlit bowels of the mountains that weren’t there.
The Gobblers bound their prisoners together in a line and forced them to walk into a crowded, firelit “cavern”. As the monsters rummaged through the dwarves’ possessions and slow-roasted their mules, they sang a dark and terrible song that drove the captives into hopeless despair:
Feeeeelings, whoooaaaaoooh, feeeeelings…
A hush fell over the room as particularly large and foul-smelling creature approached the prisoners. This was the Grand Gobbler, the strongest and fiercest among those of his kind who dwelt under the Missing Mountains; ruthless and brutal, he was the head barbarian of a barbaric race.
He glared down at the Dwarves, a ferocious scowl baring razor-sharp (if yellowed and crooked) teeth. A growl began to issue from him; a deep, rumbling sound like the earth itself was shifting.
Then he coughed and spluttered, cleared his throat, and spoke to them in a surprisingly mild voice.
“Pardon me, chaps, but I seem to have picked up a bit of a sniffle and the antihistamines haven’t kicked in yet. Now then, may I inquire as to the identities and business of our esteemed guests?”
“They’re dwarves, boss,” said a Gobbler, “an’ dey was casin’ da joint like dey was thinkin’ of robbin’ da place!”
“That’s not true!” Thornless argued. “We were just looking for a place to rest for the night – how could we have even seen your entrance, hidden as it must have been?”
“That’s true enough, I suppose,” said the Grand Gobbler, “but sadly I would be derelict in my duties if I ignored the possibility that you intend to do us harm; especially given the rather violent nature of the history between our two peoples.”
“But it’s true – we were just passing through here after escaping from Farmrinthedell!”
“Farmrinthedell? Then you know Goldbond?”
“Know him? If I hadn’t been in such a hurry to get out of that place I’d have taken the time to strangle him myself!”
“Well, now, this throws new light on the situation! We Gobblers have a saying: ‘The enemy of my enemy is still edible but it’s a good idea to save him for last.’ Very well, since you bear ill will against our hated foe, I will be lenient. I hereby release you; you are all free to GURK!”
“Free to gurk? I’m not familiar with that expression.
“Pardon my verbal slip, old chap, but I’m afraid someone interrupted my words by thrusting a sword through several vital organs.”
The Grand Gobbler slid limply to the floor, revealing a familiar old man behind him. Familiar except that now his robes bore multicolored lines of various thicknesses, all crisscrossing one another at right angles.
“I have come back from beyond death once again in your hour of need!” announced Gadfly. “No longer am I Gadfly the Green; I stand before you now as Gadfly the… uh… Plaid.”
“Plaid?” asked Happy.
“It’s not like I get to choose, you know. Anyway, I have come to rescue you!”
“But we didn’t need rescuing! He was just about to-“
“Youse iced da boss!” the Grand Gobbler’s assistant realized at last. “Get ‘em, boys!”
The dwarves were still linked together by chains that slowed them; and they were short-legged and fat and not good runners by nature. Yet so great was their desperation in that hour that they abandoned tradition and propriety and fled in a straight line across the wide plain that was the Missing mountains.
The Gobblers, confused at the sudden mysterious disappearance of their captives – no one had heard of dwarves or even wizards who could walk through cavern walls! – milled about in their lair for quite a while, growing ever angrier at the deeds of their escaped prisoners.