THE SORDID AFFAIR OF THE URPLE MUFFINS

by Thalia Weaver

(In response to the PPC board Who's Line Challenge, which stated that the story must include:

1) Muffins
2) A Dwarf
3) Tom Bombadill-o singing
4) The wild Were-worms in the Last Desert
5) the words 'twilight' and 'gregarious'
6) someone praising the beauty of the stars in an original poem.
7) Mention of at least five (5) Valar
8) the word 'obsequious'
9) NO profanity, violence, or slash
10) An argument about the proper way to harvest lettuce

and thus required this much insanity. Really. I swear.)

------

Lor Copperear sighed, staring at his useless hammer. It had been a week since the cave-in that had destroyed his forge, and there was nothing for him to do. None of the other dwarves wanted him hanging around their forges, but he itched to make something, to do something, anything. One of the problems with Aule's formation of the dwarves was their constant restless need to create- usually involving metals, but jewels were just as good, and even sometimes other things. Some dwarves had even expanded their horizons to the culinary arts, creating masterpieces of the kitchen. This wasn't really known to other races, as the dwarves were secretive and stoic to the point of obnoxious-buggeriness. That, and they didn't want the word of mithril soufflé to get out...

Lor wasn't a good cook. He wasn't a good cook to the point of being a very bad cook. In fact, a very VERY bad cook. The sight of him in the kitchens was enough to make any self-respecting dwarf run for cover in the nearest mine. But he was bored. And so he made his way to the kitchen.

"Hello, Lor," said Oin Axeblade, a portly dwarf famous throughout the underground of the Ered Luin for his excellent cooking. He sounded nervous. "Would you like something to eat?"

"No, no thank you, Oin," Lor replied, smiling. "I'd like to make some muffins."

Oin paled. "Are you- are you sure?"

"Of course."

Oin gulped. The last time Lor had invaded his kitchen, the daft bugger had nearly caused the entire mine to explode. But he couldn't really refuse him...after all, the poor dwarf had had his forge crushed...

Lor smiled to himself, liberally dashing this and that into various bowls. This was more like it. Ah, the joy of creating something new! And everyone knew that he was a great cook...a gourmet, in fact. Just because some philistines said they didn't like what he made...they were obviously too ignorant to enjoy his work. The muffins were coming along nicely, although he wasn't sure why exactly they were quite that shade of...what color was it? It looked to be a mix of pink and purple. Almost...painful to the eye. Ah well, it would taste wonderful, he was sure. Now, to slip it into the oven...

* * *

Many miles away, in the Old Forest, it was growing dark. Twilight was drawing near to night, and the stars had just come out. Tom Bombadil sighed in contentment, dancing lightly across a clearing beneath several huge and mossy oaks.

"Fal dal the lally!" he sang, gazing up at the stars.

"Varda's stars are bright tonight, dol lal the merry,

Bright as silver jewels they are, silver for Goldberry!

Silver as Goldberry's hair, and Ulmo's flowing water,

Beautiful, the stars above, as River-woman's daughter!"

Suddenly, he stiffened, staring up at the sky in puzzlement and horror.

* * *

An urple cloud of smoke rose over the mountain, drifting langurously down to the earth. Wherever it passed, flowers died, grass turned brown, and the air took on a smell best described as more potent than a gym locker stuffed full of old socks and rotting limburger cheese. The night had become foul.

Oin Axeblade was not happy.

* * *

"So I says, obviously, you've got to plant the hoe and pull down, otherwise you'll damage the leaves," Nob Hedgeworth declared to his rather drunk audience. "And he says, just pull 'em out by hand!"

This was greeted with roars of laughter. A few of the more drunk hobbits fell over, their bellies bloated with ale and too much food. It was, after all, a Hobbiton birthday party. Nob, being the extremely rich hobbit that he was, always had an extremely attentive- rather obsequious in fact- audience for his drunken anecdotes at parties. This was fine with him, as he was a gregarious hobbit, especially when it came to talking about his neighbors' follies.

"Can you imagine? By hand! An' obviously y' can't take a plow to 'em, roit? So how *do* you 'arvest your lettuce? I personally like to go wiv a hoe, the pull-down. Never failed me yet."

"I like the shovel method meself," said Reginard Gardener, belching. "Easier."

"But the hoe is far superior," Nob replied, indignant.

"Say, Nob..." one of the more sober hobbits ventured. "Wossat?"

A small trickle of urple smoke had filtered under the door. The hobbits scattered, opening the doors and running- or staggering- out into the night. Unfortunately, it was even worse outdoors. Chaos reigned in Hobbiton, hobbits running about madly in circles, trying to avoid the monstrous urpleness.

* * *

"WHAT DID YOU PUT INTO THOSE MUFFINS?!" Oin screamed, from his position flat on his back a hundred yards from his kitchen.

"Nothing! Just a little saltpeter...a bit of sulphur, to lighten up the flavor...some mithril powder, it's so delectable, a bit of honey-"

"YOU IDIOT!" Oin smacked himself in the forehead. Trust Lor Copperear to make explosive muffins...explosive URPLE muffins...

* * *

"What, by Manwe, is *that*?" choked out Elrond Halfelven, gasping as the urple smoke entered his study. He coughed. And coughed again, holding his nose.

"I don't know, but Tulkas is my witness, I hate it," muttered Glorfindel, doing the same.

"It smells..."

"No. Really?"

Then the two were silent, pressing their noses into their sleeves and trying not to breathe. Soon the cloud of smoke passed, on its way to the east.

"I haven't seen anything that strange since the Wild Were-worms of the Last Desert," Elrond asserted, eyes streaming.

"It must be a creation of Sauron." Glorfindel said grimly, wiping his nose.

"The east is stirring again...mayhap that was a final warning."

"We have to do something."

"We cannot act until the Ring is found!"

"But if the Dark Lord already has such power as that, who knows what may happen if we do not act quickly?! You must assemble a council, and soon."

Elrond sighed, feeling very weary. "Perhaps."

* * *

The urple cloud dissipated slowly, leaving a trail of confusion and rather horrible smell behind it. Soon it was gone, leaving only very bad memories in the minds of hundreds.

* * *

The hundred dwarves worked quickly. Soon Lor Copperear's forge was rebuilt, and better than it was before. Lor smiled.

"Baby, you are so good," he congratulated himself. "And they are so dumb."