Warlords of Chaos
by Robin Gordon
THE COUNCIL OF GOGGI
Copyright Robin Gordon, 1993/2004
The two boys hurled themselves out of the door, across the passage and into Gollin's room. The Dwarf-Elf was hiding behind his bed, gibbering in terror.
Gollin hurtled round the bed, dodged the Dwarvish servants, and flung himself down at Jellybean's feet, clasping him round the knees.
"Supersonic rugger tackle," observed Jellybean as he picked himself up off the floor - no easy matter with Gollin clasping his legs and moaning - "What's up, Gollin?"
"They's going to eat Precious!" wailed Gollin. "They's going to get him ready for the feast, they said. They's going to boil poor Precious. Look!"
He indicated a bath of hot water. Jellybean and Frobisher looked at it and began to giggle. They giggled and they gurgled, they sagged against each other and laughed as only boys can.
"It's a bath!" howled Jellybean. "They're not going to boil you, only wash you."
"Precious doesn't like it," sobbed Gollin.
"It'll make you clean," said Jellybean, "snowy white and shining and fresh as a daisy."
"Precious doesn't like it."
"Frobi and I are going to have baths too."
"Precious doesn't like it."
"Oh don't be such a feeble hairy weed," snapped Jellybean. "Get in and you'll see."
"No! Precious doesn't like it," wailed Gollin and clung even more tightly to Jellybean.
"All right," said Jellybean peevishly. "No-one will make you have a bath, but I'm going to have mine before the water gets cold. Come on, Frobi."
He pulled Gollin's hands away and went back to his own room. Frobisher followed and Gollin scuttled along behind.
"Look," said Jellybean, "more baths. You watch me and Frobi, then you can have yours."
"Precious doesn't like it," muttered Gollin, and sat down on the floor.
Jellybean and Frobisher pulled off their shirts, pants and socks and climbed into their baths.
"Phew! It's hot!" gasped Frobisher.
Instantly a Dwarf ran forward and poured some cold water in.
"That's enough," said Frobisher. "Jolly good."
Gollin crept nearer. "Not boiled?" he asked.
"I should say not," laughed Jellybean. "Just super-luscious warm. I say, Frobi, watch my tidal wave."
There was much splashing and laughter, and water slopped over the side of the bath and ran onto the stone floor. Gollin watched in amazement as Jellybean scooped up water in his hands and hurled it at Frobisher, who swiftly retaliated. Then Jellybean hurled a handful of water at Gollin, who hissed like a scalded cat and scuttled away to the door.
"Precious doesn't like it," taunted Jellybean. "Come on, Frobi, let's get out and get dried so that we're ready for the feast."
As the boys stood up Dwarvish servants hurried forward to hand them soft towels, and, when they were dry, others hurried in bringing warm dressing gowns.
"Right," said Jellybean. "Come on, Precious. Your turn now, and if you squeal I'll duck your head under the water."
He and Frobisher grabbed the Dwarf-Elf and frogmarched him back to his own room. The Dwarves added more hot water to the bath. Jellybean plunged his arm in.
"Jus' perfick!" he announced. "Come on, Gollum. Clothes off, or in you go fully dressed."
Gollin unfastened the Belt of Bollin, then pulled off his rags, but he wouldn't take the Jewel from round his neck. He stood for a moment, testing the water with his toes, then he plunged in and wallowed, grunting with pleasure.
"Not boiled?" enquired Jellybean.
"Not boiled. Precious likes."
"Don't keep calling yourself Precious," snapped Jellybean. "You talk as if you were a baby, but you're not. You're bigger than Frobi and me."
"She called us Precious," said the boy in the bath. "She always called us Precious ... but she ... died. Orcses ... (sniff) ... Orcses came and killed her ... and we was all alone ... and she was ... dead."
He burst into tears. Jellybean and Frobisher looked on aghast.
"I suppose he means his mother," murmured Frobisher, but before either of them could speak again the Dwarvish servants hustled them out. They went willingly. As Jellybean looked back he saw a fat Dwarvish woman wrapping Gollin in a towel and comforting him.
Back in their own room they found drinks and sandwiches to keep them going until it was time for the feast, and, after a while, their shirts, pants and socks were returned, freshly laundered, and their shoes, gleaming as new. Soon afterwards the door opened and in came a tall, thin boy, clad like themselves in shirt, underpants, socks and shoes. They looked at him in surprise, and it was not until he spoke that they recognised him - Gollin, washed clean and with his hair and nails cut.
"Gosh!" cried Jellybean. "You look spiffing, Gollin, just like a real boy."
"We let them cut our hair and our nails, yes," said Gollin proudly, "and we wasn't frightened."
"Jolly good," said Jellybean encouragingly.
"Then they asked if we wanted to be dressed like Dwarvses or Elveses, but we said no. We wants to be like Jellybean and Frobi, we said, and they brought us these nice clotheses. Now Precious is ... no, not Precious ... Now we's just like the Children of Men."
"Oh golly!" wailed Frobisher. "I wish they'd consulted us. We could have asked for some trousers."
"Actually," replied Jellybean, "apart from climbing up those frozen peaks, I don't mind not having trousers. It's more comfortable when the weather's warm. The only thing I miss is the pockets. I hope I don't get a cold. I haven't anywhere to keep a snotrag."
"I don't think it's decent," grumbled Frobisher.
"Nobody minds here," said Jellybean. "It's not like back home. Look at Gollin. He's as proud as anything to be dressed in a shirt. I say, Gollin, where's the Belt and the Jewel?"
Gollin showed them the Belt under his shirt and the Jewel hanging inside his collar.
* * * * *
A little while later they were called to the feast. They joined King Goggi, Queen Ulla, Oggi, Roggi, Amphibolas and a number of the most senior Dwarvish lords and ladies in an ante-room and made their entrance together. The hum of conversation ceased as the King's party came in and the Dwarves stood to greet them. When they reached the high table and sat down the buzz of talk began once more. The change in Gollin's appearance was pointed out again and again. He looked very different and very much better. The important-looking Dwarflord could not resist pointing out to his neighbours how like Jellybean and Frobisher he looked.
"I was right, you see," he grumbled. "They're all Elf-Dwarves. They've got the King under some sort of spell. They'll be masters of us all, you mark my words."
He had more comments to make a few minutes later when the food was served. Gollin fell upon his meat as if he was half-starved - which he was - and began to cram it into his mouth.
"Savages!" snapped the important-looking Dwarflord. "Uncivilised savages. They ought not to be allowed in decent company. Wild beasts!"
Jellybean heard comments like this all around the hall. He laid his hand on Gollin's arm.
"Don't be such a hairy vicious guzzler," he said.
"Wizard luscious!" grunted Gollin.
"Everybody's staring at you," hissed Jellybean.
Gollin put his hand inside his shirt to search for the Jewel. Jellybean stopped him.
"Don't disappear, you bogus oik," he whispered. "That'll really put the cat among the pigeons, and there'll be a hefty, radio-active, super-priority row. All you have to do is eat like this, with a knife and fork. Watch."
Jellybean demonstrated. Gollin watched with interest. He took up his knife and fork.
"Wrong hands," muttered Jellybean.
"These is the only handses Precious has," replied Gollin.
Jellybean put Gollin's knife in his right hand and his fork in his left. Gollin followed Jellybean's example, cut a piece of meat and conveyed it neatly to his mouth.
"Too slow!" he grunted.
"You don't need to eat quickly here," said Jellybean. "No-one will take it from you. Enjoy each smashing mouthful. Have you never had a proper meal at a proper table?"
"Not since she died," said Gollin.
"Don't blub," hissed Jellybean hastily.
"I not blub," replied Gollin fiercely. "She taught me to eat with a knife and fork, and he brought food, but they've been dead for years and years. Ages. Precious not blub. No! ... Orcses killed them, first him, then her. Precious hid. Ate leaveses and berries and fisheses ... and sometimes freshly killed Orcses. Lots of Orcses after the battles, when the Big Elf was there. Orcses couldn't see him, and he killed them, lots and lots of Orcses ... but they killed him too. So Precious ... I mean I took the Precious ... the Jewel ... and then I killed Orcses too. Sneak up, kill, eat 'em quick. Not like this. Here you can eat without Orcses coming and ..."
He broke off suddenly with a cry of rage. His plate had been whisked away. Jellybean grabbed one arm, Oggi the other.
"Shut up, you radio-active suet-pudding," hissed Jellybean. "They're bringing more food. Look!"
Gollin subsided as the next course appeared before him.
"Hairy luscious!" he commented.
"There's just one thing I'd like to ask," muttered Jellybean. "You never ate Elves or Dwarves, did you?"
He had a rather sick feeling in the pit of his stomach, for he was sure the answer would be yes.
Gollin drew himself up proudly. "I am Gollin, son of Bollin the Dwarf and Ilirion the Elf. I do not eat my own people."
"Wizzo!" exclaimed Jellybean. "Hefty spivish decent! When you stop being Precious and become Gollin you're not a bad chap."
* * * * *
Over the next few days Jellybean, Frobisher and Gollin were free to move around the Dwarvish citadel and go wherever they liked. Oggi was often with them, eager to show them the armoury, the smithies where Dwarves were making swords and shields, the workshops where they still made beautiful things despite the imminence of war, and the mines where they still delved beneath the earth. At times he was called away to his father's side, for the King of the Dwarves was conferring with his advisers and making preparations for a Great Council to decide their future plans.
Gollin watched Jellybean all the time. He stopped scuttling about like a nervous crab and began to walk straight and tall like Jellybean. He took Jellybean's advice and tried his best to stop referring to himself as Precious. He tried always to think of himself as Gollin, son of Bollin, and to walk and talk as befitted a prince of the Elves and Dwarves.
He wore the Belt of Bollin openly above his shirt, and the Jewel of Ilirion hung about his neck for all to see. By his bearing and demeanour he seemed to proclaim his rightful ownership of both. Jellybean was afraid that Oggi might have been jealous at losing the Belt and perhaps also the Kingship, but the Dwarf seemed delighted at the prospect of his cousin becoming King of Dwarves. Jellybean found it difficult to understand: the Dwarves always seemed so quarrelsome, but they weren't in the least ambitious for power and regarded kingship as a heavy responsibility to be accepted with good grace rather than as an honour to be sought.
At mealtimes Gollin did full justice to the food the Dwarves set before him, declaring it "hairy spivish lush" and asking for seconds. Even in the space of a few days he seemed to have put on weight. His arms and legs filled out. His hands and feet no longer seemed so absurdly overlarge. He lost his froglike appearance, and, as he stood between Jellybean and Frobisher, taller and stronger than either, he looked very like an elder brother.
At last came the day of the Council of Goggi. Jellybean, Frobisher and Gollin followed Oggi into the Council chamber, a long, rectangular cavern with carven seats along both sides and a royal daïs along the end opposite the main doors. Oggi joined his father and brother on the raised platform, while the three boys were shown to seats of honour just below the front of it. There Amphibolas joined them, the first Elf for many, many years to set foot in a Dwarvish council hall.
To Jellybean the speeches seemed interminable, for though the Dwarves do not go in for the high-flown elegance of Elvish rhetoric, preferring plain speaking in gruff voices, once they start on a council they like to have every detail spelled out in full so that there can be no misunderstandings.
The tale of Bollin and Ilirion was told again. The hope of Elves and Dwarves alike, both born in the same year and both, by chance, named after the illustrious founders of their royal houses, they had disappointed both their races by their love for one another, their elopement, their marriage, and the birth of their child, the Dwarf-Elf, whose coming foretold the end of the world of Tuvi as it had been till then.
The coming of the Orcs and Scorpionids, the ravaging of the land by Arachnoids armed with death rays was then described. King Goggi told of the flight of the Dwarves from the Red Cliff to take refuge with their cousins beneath the Grey Mountains, of the alliance with the Elves and the exchange of hostages. He spoke warmly of the courage of Vigonas the Elf, the unseen slayer of Orcs, and of his death in battle.
Amphibolas was called upon to speak of Hollin, son of Ollin, the nephew of King Goggi, who fought alongside the Elves until he too was slain.
Then it was Oggi's turn to tell of his journey, his explorations of the Grey Mountains and the Red Cliffs, of the swarming of Orcs and the devastation wrought by Arachnoids. He told of his capture and rescue, and his journey to the Elvish stronghold, and how Jellybean and the Lady Doria had spared him the indignity of meeting the Elvish King as a prisoner and made him welcome as an honoured guest. He spoke warmly of the beauty and nobility of the Lady Doria, and called her a true friend of the Dwarvish people and of all that is good in the world of Tuvi. He praised also his friends Jellybean and Frobi, and told how they had come to Tuvi by accidentally stumbling through a portal between the worlds.
Then he spoke of the return of the Belt of Bollin and told of the appointment of the Companions and their perilous journey, of their capture by Orcs beneath the Grey Mountains, and of their rescue by the Dwarf-Elf, Gollin, son of Bollin and Ilirion, who used the Jewel of Ilirion to make himself invisible to the Orcs.
Next Gollin was called upon to tell his story. He spoke of his childhood in a solitary mountain retreat, of his gentle, beautiful mother who taught him the lore of the Elves, and of his sturdy father who brought home meat and taught him to use a little bow, sword and battle-axe. He told of the coming of the Orcs, of how they killed Bollin, and how Ilirion took him and fled, always pursued by Orcs, until at last she too was killed. He told of his life alone, hiding from the Orcs, finding what food he could, eating roots and berries, killing small animals or catching fish, or sneaking in and stealing the leavings of the Orcs.
He had watched the battles and rejoiced at the slaying of Orcs. He had even cooked and eaten their bodies for want of better food. He had rejoiced especially at the deeds of the Elf-Lord, Vigonas, who could disappear by clasping a Jewel. Was it, he wondered, the Jewel of Ilirion of which his mother had told him, the Jewel that was hers when she was a princess among the Elves?
He had followed the Elf-Lord's exploits eagerly. Though he was invisible to the Orcs Gollin could see him dimly, like a wraith. He had cheered over his triumphs and wept when he saw him fall. Then, when the battle was done and the mountain-side deserted, there came upon him a great fear that the Orcs would find and steal the Jewel, and so he had crept down and taken it from the Elf's body and hung it about his own neck, and he had taken as well the Elf's dagger, for the sword was too big for him to manage.
Then King Goggi took up the tale again and told how mistrust had arisen between Elves and Dwarves, and how each people had believed that the other had slain the hostage and stolen the heirloom. Thanks to Jellybean and the Lady Doria the magnanimity of King Vendendros had been awakened, and the Belt of Bollin, the greatest of all the heirlooms of the Dwarves, had been returned. Its rightful owner had been found and now wore it at the Council.
"We Dwarves," he said, "cannot fall behind the Elves. We must show that we are as great-souled as they are. We must send back to the Elves the heirloom they prize above all others - but how is it to be done? How can we send back the Jewel of Ilirion when it is claimed by Gollin, and it is rightfully his? To take it from him would be wrong, but if we do not send it back we cannot claim the friendship of the Elves. Without an alliance with them we cannot hope to stand against the Orcs, the Scorpionids and the Warlords of Chaos."
King Goggi sat down. There was silence. Then Gollin rose to his feet.
"I, Gollin, son of Bollin, will take the Jewel to the King of the Elves," he said proudly, though his voice cracked a little. "If the Companions of the Belt will come with me we will set out together. If not, I will go alone."
"Bravely spoken!" roared King Goggi, and the Dwarves cheered. "Bravely spoken, but this is no task for a handful of companions. If you should be taken then both heirlooms would fall into the hands of the Orcs - and we should lose the Dwarf-Elf who is our greatest hope of victory. No, the Companions will not go alone. The whole Dwarvish army shall go with you. We shall drive the Orcs before us and kill as many as we can, then we shall join with the Elves and finish the job. Let the preparations begin! The Dwarvish people go to war! I, Goggi, son of Dwollin, King of Dwarves, have spoken!"
* * * * *
In the days that followed the Dwarvish citadel under the Lone Mountain was a hive of activity. Armourers and smiths worked at their forges, making breastplates, coats of mail, axes and swords. Companies of Dwarvish soldiers drilled, and practised armed and unarmed combat in the drill halls and out on the plain. Officers and counsellors scrutinised maps of Tuvi and plotted routes towards the Red Cliff and the Kingdom of the Elves.
Jellybean, Frobisher, Amphibolas and Gollin were free to move around the citadel and to go out on the plain, to join in the exercises and practice marches, or to roam around wherever they liked. Oggi went with them as often as he could be spared.
Often they went off with one or other of the hunting parties to shoot wild mountain goats whose flesh would be salted and dried as provisions for the long march. Sometimes in the distance they would see a herd of horses grazing quietly or stampeding away. The Dwarves did not eat horses, so the animals had no need to fear them, but the Orcs would eat anything that moved.
Once, as the Companions were climbing among the foothills of the Grey Mountains, they heard the screams of an animal in pain and the raucous cries of Orcs. They crept nearer and, peering over a rocky ledge, saw below them a mob of Orcs killing a horse, squabbling over its flesh as they tried to roast it, cramming great lumps of it into their mouths, and generally behaving in the usual disgusting Orcish way.
There were too many for the Companions to attack, so they had to slip quietly away, sickened and repelled.
"It's hefty peculiar," said Jellybean, "that no-one rides any of these horses. We could charge down on the Orcs and smash 'em to pieces. Spivish lush!"
"Like the Assyrian coming down like a wolf on the fold," quoted Frobisher.
"Ride," murmured Gollin with a faraway look on his face. "Ride on a horse. Yess. Wizard wheeze."
"Oh poop poop! Oh bliss! Oh rapture! Oh poop poop!" cried Jellybean.
"I beg your pardon," said Gollin. "Did you speak, you bogus oik?"
He stood looking down at Jellybean. Gollin was taller and stronger. He had filled out. Already he had grown out of his shirt and been given a larger size. His voice no longer croaked, hissed and squeaked. It had become deeper and more manly. Rarely if ever did he call himself Precious. Instead he tried his best to imitate Jellybean's manner of speech and gait - and he knew now that Jellybean was making fun of him.
"Me?" answered Jellybean, looking up at him with that same expression of innocent amazement that infuriated his teachers back at Bunbury Court. "Not a dickybird. Only Oh bliss, o poop poop!"
It's what Toad said when he was run over by a car," explained Frobisher. "Oh pooh canary yellow carts, he said, motoring's the thing. Oh bliss! Oh rapture! Oh poop poop!"
"What's that got to do with riding a horse?" demanded Gollin.
"Well," said Frobisher, "it's like this. The wind in the willows is a prangish rare book, and Toad, who's a bit of a radio-active suet pudding with all sorts of spivish bees in his bonnet, thought it would be a hairy famous wheeze to drive a motor-car but really it was a case of bats in the belfry, so when Jellybean heard you say ride a horse in that rather gloopy voice ..."
"But can people ride horses?" cut in Gollin.
"Gosh, yes!" cried Jellybean. "It's super-duper smashing priority radio-active wizard decent."
"Can you ride a horse?"
"Well," said Jellybean, "I've ridden on ponies at the seaside and at fairs and things ..."
"What do you mean how?"
"How to ride a horse," insisted Gollin.
"Sit on its back, one leg each side, hold on to the reins and Bob's your uncle," said Frobisher.
"Hollin was my uncle," replied Gollin politely, "but he's dead now. I do not know Bob."
Jellybean and Frobisher attempted to explain but only succeeded in confusing Gollin still more, so the subject of horse-riding was forgotten for a while, but not forever. Gollin kept on coming back to it: how to catch a horse, how to tame a horse, how to train it to bear a rider, what riding was like, how Men used horses, how useful horses would be in the battles to come. Oggi the Dwarf was not in the least interested. He was sure he would never be able to ride. His legs were far too short to grip a horse's flanks. Amphibolas, on the other hand, thought that perhaps Elves could ride if they wished. In fact he began to wonder why they had never thought of it, and he agreed to use his Elvish skill in befriending wild creatures to help to capture a horse for Gollin.
"I hope it isn't wrong," he murmured. "We Elves are the friends of all the wild things of the woods and plains except the wolves and snakes, but we have never tried to make slaves of them."
"The horse will not be my slave," said Gollin, his eyes flashing proudly, "he will be my servant and my friend."
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