Ice Hobbit: Apples Out of Barrel



I am ingenious. 

The world may’s well accept it now an’ ‘ave done with.

The sight ‘o Nessie an’ all them other Woolly Oliphants’ll never not give me cause for wonder. Even after the Wolfie Gauredain were set to flight – After meself, Mister Lothrandir, an’ Mister Arvedui lauded the Beardie Dorfs, an’ the Beardie Dorfs (somewhat) recovered from meetin’ Mister Arvedui, an’ Mister Lothrandir’s lesions were treated afresh, an’ we all sat down for a (HOT!!) breakfast in the camp we’d pitched amidships – I gazed at ‘em, lumberin’ about. 

“It be a marvel,” says I, “they walks on the ice so blasé-like. You sure thar be no fear o’ them breakin’ the ice an’ the lot of us all plummetin’ to a glacial end?”

Mister Lothrandir laughed ruefully, then flinched as Mister Ofráth’s no-nonsense Missus Ute slapped a stinging poultice on ‘is stitched-up leg. “Aye, on the Forochel lakes? In spring? Falling through the ice is a grim way to go,” he admitted. “I wouldn’t fret it too badly here, though.” 

He accepted another ice-lizard steak with tater pennies an’ so did I: a foreman named Ríki were fryin’ up a storm for Dorf, Man, Hobbit, an’ Dog alike. “Look at this vessel; she’s lain here uplifted by the floes for years. A few norsu wouldn’t have much more impact.” 

Bardic Imagination an’ good ‘ol Hobbit Sense were simply in perfect accord. I dinnae ken why. Thoughts free-flowed from ice to ship to woolly Oliphant. It were so simple. The answer to our quandary were right in front of us. 

I squawked so loud Mister Lófi spat coffee all over Mister Úlfnath’s beard.

All this talk about ‘ow the blazes we’re supposed to get down into the submerged cabin.

.... Why in Bullroarer’s name don’t we just bring the cabin up to us?

*     *     *

In the end, it took a few days to get all the pieces in order. Even with fully nine Woolly Oliphants in Zigilgund's employ, mechanical assistance were needed to aid in the uplift.
 
Mister King-Ghost made the mistake of fully expressing ‘is doubt as to whether such physics could ever be crafted: Zigilgund’s mining foremen an’ engineers an’ carpenters took this as a challenge so personal they ‘ad five different concepts drawn up by lunchtime. 

(If ever yeh wants a Beardie Dorf to build some’ut, simply tell ‘im yeh believe it cannae be built). 

The entire Dorf settlement practically moved out to the wreck: This were FAR more interestin’ than getting’ ahold o’ lumps of ore all day. Beside that, we ‘ad a properly armed garrison guard, day an’ night. Now that we knew what Angmar were lookin’ for, Thoroval were well protected.

The result were a truly fascinatin’ armada of cranes, pulleys, gliders an’ harnesses. A timber canopy to rig 'em all up were erected on the pack-ice over the wedge o’ Thoroval’s semi-submerged stern. Every last fiber of rope an’ chain in the Dorfish mines were driven into the hull with pitons. 

*     *     *

The mornin’ dawned. 

We looked like the world’s oddest parade ground. Rope thick as me arm ran out like streamers from a Maypole. Block an’ tackle dangled like ornaments everywhere. Mister Lothrandir knew he were witnessin’ History on behalf o’ the Dúney folks; he were deeply solemn.

Missus Ute bellowed cues with operatic projection – Dozens o’ resonant Dorf voices took up some kinda mining shanty. Every Dorf, every sled-dog, every mining goat, every Woolly Oliphant in Zigilgund (plus one Hobbit an’ one Dúney Green-Hood) set at the ropes.

The ice grumbled. ... Then rumbled. – We threw weight left. Right. Then hard forward – Still the inexorable ice resisted surrender o’ that remnant o’ the Elf-ship encased in its grasp.
 
The rig were singin' with the effort. Missus Ute waved flags: Dorfs with picks an’ shovels minced at the perimeter o’ Thoroval’s quarterdeck to loosen the slush (we ‘ad paradoxically the perfect assembly o’ skills for the occasion; we really did). – The sonorant tones ‘o the Dorf throng swelled; the Woolly Oliphants’ trumpetin’ honks shook the mornin’ – Cracks boomed in the heart 'o the ice like thunder in the mountains, Mister Arvedui’s ghost voice echoed in our ‘eads:
“NA VEDUI! ERIA! ERIA!” ... 

... an’ with a resounding groan I en’t sure gots words to describe it, the ice on the Lossoth Bay yielded.  

The timbers creaked. Deadly cold saltwater sloshed everywhere. Slowly – vexingly slowly – that fractured pocket o’ Thoroval’s stern rose outta the frozen sea ... The sunlight glistened off ‘er ruined, tortured sides ... an’ with a rolling crunch, she settled on dry ice. 

The Dorfs took up hammers: Ropes were driven down with pikes, while logs an’ chocks was wedged around the hull. 

Despite the sheer elation, we already ‘ad a sinkin’ feelin’ our hopes might be dashed.

Nevertheless, we gathered ter see the bittersweet yield of our efforts: 

Thoroval’s stern were not, in fact, wholly intact. 

The aft must’ve smashed into the seafloor on sinkin’. The great rudder were tore off ... An’ the back wall o’ Mister Captain Aeril’s cabin were wholly in absentia. We’d brought the chamber to light. But it were empty. Like a barrel of apples with the top sealed but the bottom broken, any unsecured contents – anythin’ not fully affixed to the cabin itself – were long since tumbled into the depths o’ the sea. 

Steelin’ ourselves against crushing disappointment, we investigated the hollow box that were Mister Aeril’s cabin (a bit clumsily, as it were fully laid to rest on its side). 

We ‘ad JUST a moment o’ hope when somethin’ large an’ circular were spotted. Turned out to be a spherical astrolabe – what Mister Aeril would’ve used to navigate – crusted in barnacle. 

Admittedly, t'weren’t wholly devoid o’ fruits for our labor in the end.

Two or three cubbies were built into the walls. We pried 'em open with a crowbar. Small treasures stowed to prevent rollin’ about emerged: A few royal jewels. Time-worn coins. Tarnished goblets. Chess figgers o’ jet an’ amber.

Mister Aeril’s desk were integrated into the structure as well. Thar were where we found the biggest catch for the Green-Hoods: Mister Arvedui’s journal, an’ books ‘o lineage an’ heraldry o’ the Houses of Annúminas an’ Fornost lay inside. They’ll need doctorin’ by the Best in Esteldín (prolly even River-dell) to salvage. But if they can ever be read again, they’ll be a jewel in the heirlooms o’ the Dúney lads.

Finally, the window-seat turned out to be a built-in trunk. A few valuables o’ the Captain lay therein: Elf-helm. Broken sextant. Water-tortured satchel o' personal effects: Carved comb. Letter-knife. Talisman of Ulmo. An’ what would've been a truly splendid lady’s ring, had it not been broke in half. Dunno why an Elf be totin’ about a smashed accessory like that – Maybe it were a prezzie he never got 'round ter fixin? Maybe ‘is wife died an’ got buried with the other piece? – Who knows. Elfs be funny creatures. 



Regardless, t’were a day o’ truly conflicting sentiments. How much disappointment can one mix with ecstatic victory till they balances perfectly? 

The palantíri of Annúminas an’ Amon Sûl be lost to the depths forever, an' we gots ter accept it. But they be beyond Angmar’s reach as well, an’ thar be somethin’. – With any luck, thar were all they sought. 

Mister Arvedui resigned ‘imself to be content with that knowledge. Mister Lothrandir's head were spinnin' at what all we DID recover. Mister Ofráth ordered a keg ‘o surprisingly decent Dorfish wine ter be heated an’ mulled.

Under the shiftin’ rivers o’ light in the Forochel skies, we drank to the legacy o’ the Dead an’ the deeds o’ the Livin’, an’ Mister Lothrandir an’ I prepared what catch the ice yielded for its final journey back to greener lands.

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