Part Two: Tigwit's Fund-Raiser
Feren was a very busy elf during the fund-raiser week.
On Sunday, King Eomer had been doing stunts with the Riders of Rohan and had done a back-flip on his motorcycle, nearly breaking his neck. This had caused some chaos but thankfully Feren had convinced all the Riders to buy his insurance policy before the show and he had more than enough capital to pay a doctor to patch Eomer up.
On Monday, the open contest for Middle Earth's Got Talent attracted an enormous crowd and Feren, as chief judge, had received a mountain of bribes from well-meaning family members of the contestants. His ethics forbad him from letting such bribes influence his decision. But that didn't mean he couldn't accept them.
On Tuesday – well, Tuesday had been a bad day for everybody. King Thranduil had showed up for the fashion show. It had taken Feren a good bit of talking to convince Thranduil that the dressing rooms (an absolute requirement for the King of Mirkwood) were quite expensive and had to be paid for. But Thranduil had finally paid.
Wednesday had gone better. Everyone wanted autographs from the famous bands Orcowar and Rohan Stones, and were willing to pay for the opportunity. So Feren had made some more profit.
The fund-raiser was going quite well, even Galadriel had said so. Feren had worries about Friday, when he would have to give out the prizes for Middle Earth's Got Talent. He wasn't sure there would be enough money left over after they were paid. But he did have a plan that should make everything work out.
It was Thursday evening and the elven program was about to start. Feren was standing backstage with Bolg. He had needed Bolg for something earlier in the afternoon. There was no way, Feren knew, the orcs and dwarves were going to sit through the elven program without some strong incentive. They hated the music and would not find it entertaining. Galadriel knew this too, and had been utterly dumbfounded when the entire back of the auditorium started filling up with shuffling orcs and dwarves, grunting apologies as they squeezed into their seats.
"Feren," she had said. "You're a marvel!"
"It's a talent," Feren had replied, graciously.
Just now, Lindir sidled up to him, eyeing Bolg warily.
"Cos," he said.
"What ho, cos?" asked Feren.
"Are you sure I shouldn't play. I mean, I am the troubadour of Imladris. I should really be in this program."
"Not tonight, dear Lindir," said Feren. "Trust me, you won't regret my wisdom in keeping you out of the program this evening. Just watch, and behold."
He turned to Bolg.
"Is all in readiness, my friend?"
"Uh-huh," said Bolg.
"Give the signal at your discretion," said Feren. "Come, Lindir, let us go to the balcony. It will be safe up there."
"Safe?" enquired Lindir. "What, is there going to be an explosion?"
"We shall see," smiled Feren, wanly.
They went up into the balcony, where Feren, as organizer, had a special reserved seat near Galadriel, Celeborn, Elrond, and Thranduil.
He and Lindir sat down and prepared to enjoy the music. And other things. These other things, of course, Lindir would have no way of foreseeing.
The elven choir of Lothlorien had just come out on stage. There was a tentative clapping, that suddenly grew thunderous as the orcs and dwarves in the back started stamping their feet and shouting. The singers looked extremely flattered.
A note was struck.
"Aaaaaah!" began a fair-haired elf, a little off-key because of nervousness.
"Ooooooh!" his friends joined him in harmony.
Lindir smiled and swayed back and forth with the music. Feren leaned precariously over the edge of the balcony, his hair falling about his ears, to look into the dark audience below. There were a few orcs, including Bolg, walking softly around in the back rows, carrying boxes and selling something to the dwarf and orc audience. The average onlooker would have presumed it was peanuts or candy, like normal.
Feren smiled. He was definitely not average. He sat back into his chair and smoothed his hair.
It was then that a voice rose out of the crowd beneath him, striking a discordant note with the beautiful harmonies on stage.
Lindir jumped out of his chair, nearly bumping his head on the low roof.
Feren smiled wanly again. All was going according to plan.
"Booo!" echoed another voice. It sounded like Dwalin.
Galadriel was getting angry. Feren could see her hackles rising. Not literally, of course, figuratively. She slowly began to get out of her chair.
The singers on stage glanced nervously at each other but continued singing. There were disgruntled sounds from the back of the audience. The elven singers rushed through the last verse, singing very quickly, and stampeded off the stage before the accompanist could even leave the harp.
"Oh dear," sighed Feren. He glanced at his program, and for the first time this week had a moment of panic. Now he really meant the "oh dear."
He walked out on stage bravely, bowing to the audience. His face was very pale.
"Fiddlesticks!" said Feren. How had Haldir gotten on the program there? He turned to Galadriel.
"I thought Haldir was closing tomorrow night? That's where I scheduled him."
"I needed him to do something tomorrow evening so I moved him a day ahead. I thought he'd fit better in the elven program, instead."
"Oh, no," breathed Feren. "Fiddlesticks." Well, he couldn't keep track of everything, could he? But oh, dear.
Haldir sat down at the piano. He started tinkling out a little tune on the piano.
"Booo!" cried another voice. Fili, this time. Feren was sure of it.
And then there was a splat.
For a moment the entire auditorium was deathly still. Haldir's hands hovered above the keys, his eyes fixed on the red splotch that was dripping down the wall just behind his head.
And then there was another splat. It landed at Haldir's feet, and everyone could clearly see the round, red shape. A tomato.
Feren buried his face in hands. He knew Lindir was staring at him.
"THIS was not supposed to happen," said Feren. He ran to the edge of the balcony, looked over, then turned back to Lindir. He grabbed him by the front of his embroidered robes.
"Lindir, my cousin, we are needed by a soul in trouble, a soul that has never done us wrong, that has helped us in need. Have you the daring to join me in a brave rescue attempt? Will you muster your courage and join me as I leap into the fray?"
"Haldir?" asked Lindir. "He's Legolas's friend."
"This is not time for petty feuds," said Feren. "Join me!"
"All right," said Lindir. "What are we going to do?"
"Provide a distraction!" cried Feren. He grabbed his horn from beside his chair, took hold of the rail on the balcony, and leaped down into the audience.
Lindir followed. Feren heard him KERPLUNK onto Thorin's head. He heard Thorin shouting, but the next minute Lindir was at his elbow.
There were now tomatoes and other things flying through the air all around them. Haldir was bravely attempting to finish his song. Feren put the horn to his lips as he ran up the aisle to the stage and hit it.
He was playing "Trololo," a favourite across Middle Earth. He gestured to Lindir, who ran to Haldir and dragged him off the stage.
The tomatoes had stopped flying for a moment, but only for a moment. Thorin was angry, and he had a very large tomato in his hand. Feren saw him lifting it, and thought it an opportune moment to take a bow. He did, and the tomato went over his head.
As other tomatoes came raining down around him, he scampered gracefully from the stage.
"What a disaster!" Galadriel threw up her hands as she paced back and forth in the great hall of Lothlorien. "I knew we should never have let orcs come! This was your fault, Feren!"
"On the contrary." Feren was calmly counting stacks and stacks of money, mithril, jewels, and other things. "We made as much money off the orcs as off the elves." He did not mention the price for the tomatoes he had hired Bolg and his friends to sell. He was talking strictly about tickets. "You have made a huge amount from this fund-raiser. Even after you pay me my commission you will have enough to do a great deal of good to Middle Earth." He did not mention all the bribes that had been doled out. He was still just talking about tickets.
"Plus," he added, pointing to a stack of TVs, "since we were forced to send everyone home early, we still have the door prizes. And plenty of food." He licked his ice cream and went back to counting money.
"You're right," said Galadriel. "All in all, it was a success. But my captain, Haldir, is in a terrible emotional state. He has not left his room all day, and I needed him to do something."
"I am deeply grieved," said Feren. "But I must say, in retrospect, it may be a good thing. Thranduil has been watching every jewel in his possession like a hawk. I don't think Haldir would have succeeded in stealing them. He would only have been caught."
"Who said –" began Galadriel.
Feren winked. "Strictly between the two of us," he said. "Of course. I have subtracted my wages and commission. The rest you may use to good purpose." He was not talking about all the extra things he had made money from, like insurance policies, dressing rooms, and bribes. He was just talking about tickets.
Tigwit rose with his heavy sack of gold and finished his ice cream. "Now, I think a vacation is called for."
THE END of Part Two
Stay tuned to find out what happens when Legolas and Orophin get out of jail and Haldir recovers!