Bagenders – The Taming of the Loft

Season 3, Episode 3

By Lady Alyssa and Random Dent

Legolas slept, dreaming elven dreams. Or rather the recurring disturbing dream about being trapped in Calas Galadhon with Mother Teresa and her bluegrass orchestra.

“Legolas!”

“Yeargh!” Legolas awoke to find the Twins in his bed. “What are you doing here?”

“Can we have your sheets?”

“I’m using them. Get some out of the linen cupboard.”

“We can’t-”

“Cos Frodo locked it when he found us in there this afternoon.”

Legolas silently cursed Frodo for not taking the opportunity to lock the Twins in the linen cupboard when he had the chance. “You have perfectly good sleeping bags anyway. Bugger off.”

“But, like, we need them!”

“What for?”

“Like, sails-”

“Cos we’re going to have another go at sailing into the West-”

“And this time we’re bringing a compass.”

“One, Valinor has moved. Two, there are perfectly good scheduled services you could take to either Valinor or America.”

“But, like, that’s not, like, proper-”

“Like, we want to be traditional-”

“And make our own boat-”

“Like mum did-”

“Or, like, those dudes she got a lift with.”

“Is that what you’re building? It doesn’t seem watertight.”

“We, like, have to cover it in pitch-”

“Once we find out what pitch is-”

“But apart from that we only need the sails, so give us your sheets-”

“Please?”

“No. Why don’t you look in the loft? There’s plenty of rubbish up there.”

“Dude!”

“We might even be able to find some, like, rigging.”

The Twins got out of Legolas’ bed and headed for the loft. Legolas sat up. He could hear sounds of things being dragged around with the occasional ‘Dude!’ interspersed. Then his mystic spider sense (learned in the forests of Mirkwood for sensing spiders) caused him to flatten himself against the headboard moments before a trunk crashed through the ceiling. The trunk was followed by the Twins, who bounced off the end of his bed.

“Dude! Again! Again!”

They ran out, and came through the ceiling and bounced off the end of the bed once more.

“Stop it! Right now!”

“Leeeeeeegggoooooooollaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasss-”

“You always spoil our fun-”

“Like, saying, we can’t play with matches-”

“Or like, hobbits aren’t meant to bounce.”

“It’s 2am. Some of us have jobs to go to in the morning. Shut up, and go to sleep. And tidy this up in the morning.”

The Twins slunk off, grumbling.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The next day when Legolas went out to work he foolishly left his door ajar, forgetting that like all small creatures, Hobbits are attracted to food and shiny objects.

“‘Big and Bouncy Annual 1976!’ Tits and flares!”

“These are a few of my favourite things.” Merry added in his best Julie Andrews impersonation, leaning over Pippin’s shoulder for a better look. “Give it to me, my love.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s my birthday, and I wants it.”

“It’s not your birthday for months, and anyway, there’s three more over there.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“Hey! This is all covered in plaster dust.” Pippin’s eyes strayed upwards. “You know that noise last night, the one that sounded like the Twins falling through the ceiling?”

Merry looked up. “Maybe it was the Twins falling the ceiling. Do you think we should have offered to help?”

“We didn’t hear any screams of agony, and Legolas would have been in here anyway.”

“I wonder what else is up there…?”

Merry swarmed up the bookshelves like a miniature King-Kong and from there jumped on to the wardrobe and through the hole into the loft.

“Pippin, you have got to see this.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Outside, the Twins were continuing work on their boat, singing as they went.

“Whether you’re an elf lord or whether you’re an elfling you’ll be staying alive, staying alive-”

Only Elladan was visible, standing outside the boat, holding a lump of blu-tac. From the muffled singing, it sounded like Elrohir was in the upturned hull.

“Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah staying alive-”

“Dude! You’re supposed to be directing me!”

“I was singing! Like, follow the singing.”

At this point Merry and Pippin arrived. “What are you doing?”

“We’re caulking the hull-”

“Like, he’s telling me where he can see light so I can fill the holes.”

Merry and Pippin exchanged glances. They’d both spent time at sea. “With blu-tac? Is that watertight?”

“Like, no, but once we’ve filled the holes we’re going to cover it with waterproof stuff.” Elladan held up a tin.

“That’s the stuff Aragorn uses to re-waterproof his wax jacket.”

“Yeah, and like, that keeps him dry, so it must be good.”

“You should use tar-” said Merry.

“Like, who here has the, like, elven boat building genes?”

Merry and Pippin exchanged a glance that said ‘obviously not you’. “Anyway, we came here to ask you a favour.”

“Like, strawberry?”

“No, no, a favour, not a flavour. When you do something nice for someone?”

Elrohir had crawled out from under the boat. “Anything for hobbit-dudes.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Some time later Frodo was in the understairs cupboard looking for the hoover when he heard the noise of something big and heavy being dragged across the landing.

“Merry, Pippin, what are you doing up there?” he shouted, coming up the stairs.

A bedroom door slammed shut. “Nothing.”

“Okay then, what were you doing?” Frodo was wise in the ways of talking to Merry and Pippin, who didn’t usually lie outright, but had developed subtle ways of not quite telling the truth. The Twins were also there, loitering outside Merry and Pippin’s room, failing to look innocent.

“Strolling?”

“Sneaking, more like.”

“Fine, have it your way, we were sneaking.”

“Can’t I just come in and hoover your room then?”

“No.”

“Does this mean you’ve got something in there that you don’t want me to see?”

“No.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be at work?”

“No.”

“Are you sure?”

“N- yes. Very sure. Don’t start for another two hours.”

Frodo knew they were up to something, but then, they were always up to something. He hoped that this time it wasn’t anything too dangerous. He knew he could try interrogating the Twins, but the chances of getting anything coherent out of them was less than none.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Like, turn it the other way!”

The Twins had run into a problem. Having constructed their boat in the back garden they had now found that it was bigger than the path along the side of the house. So now they were trying to get it through the French windows at the back of the house.

“If we took the sail down it would be smaller.”

“Dude!”

There was some more activity.

“Dude! It, like, fits!”

“Left a bit-”

“Right a bit-”

“Up a bit-”

“Like, mind Mithrandir-”

“Like, sorry dude!”

“Left a bit more, no less than that-”

“Do you think that was expensive?”

“Like, not now that it’s broken.”

In this manner they negotiated the house and brought the boat out through the front windows. Then they went back for the sail and mast. The sail was an interesting construction, having been sewn out of a collection of very 70s curtains, and the rigging had the look of interesting macramé. They tied the boat on top of the ice cream van.

“Frodo! Mithrandir!”

“Yes?”

“We’re like, sailing into the west! We want to say thank you for having us.”

“Wait, wait, I’ve packed you sandwiches.” Frodo handed them tow tinfoil wrapped packages. “And remember to wear a jumper and an anorak. It can get quite cold at sea.”

“Oh, like, dude!” Both the Twins hugged Frodo, and then left.

Frodo went back into the house.

“So, what do you reckon their chances of survival are?” he asked Gandalf.

“Twenty percent. If that.”

“Do you think I should have stopped them?”

“No. They’d just have stayed. Best let evolution take its course.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

After seeing the state of the loft through the hole in Legolas’ ceiling, Aragorn decided that maybe they should do something about it. Feeling unusually productive, he had woken everyone up at 8am on Saturday by emptying the contents of the loft on to the landing, and then insisted, since they were all awake anyway, that they should help sort it out. The rest of the Fellowship didn’t share his enthusiasm to begin with, but as the many lost treasures of the loft were rediscovered, they became more interested.

“These look a bit old and tattered, should I just throw them out?”

“What? You wouldn’t dare…”

“Frodo, put the ukulele down. And the fish knife. Remember that talk you had with your psychiatrist about threatening behaviour?”

“But it’s an original first edition Mrs Beeton! You don’t throw things like that out!”

“It’s unhygienic, it’s got over a hundred years worth of spilt food on it.”

“We’re keeping it. And are you hiding something behind your back, Legolas?”

“No, nothing.”

Frodo made a grab for the book. “Were you going to throw out my copy of ‘Modern Cooking for Private Families’?”

“It’s got mould growing on it!”

“It hasn’t. That’s a stain from an overenthusiastically stirred sauce in 1872, it couldn’t possibly still be growing mould now.”

“So you admit that it was growing mould then?”

“Wh- zp- mgt- Briefly. A long time ago.”

“I thought you were houseproud.”

“I thought you were my friend. I thought you were the one member of this Fellowship-”

“Ahem.”

“Apart from Sam who actually cared about me, and if you cared you wouldn’t throw out Mrs Beeton.”

“That’s emotional blackmail!”

“It’s just a bloody cookbook, let him keep it.”

Suddenly, they were distracted by an ‘erm, excuse me?’ from Sam on the other side of the landing. Frodo paused with the ukulele raised above his head.

“This, this, this, er… Egyptian sarcophagus? Should it still have a body in it? Because it, well, sort of… does.”

Legolas walked over to the sarcophagus and opened it. Then closed it and opened it again. He gave Aragorn one of his stern, Elrond-impersonation looks.

“Oh, it’s just Djedefhor. He was a local governor in the upper Nile region under Khufu.” Aragorn looked hopeful, as if this would explain everything.

“And where did you get him?”

“Egypt.”

“Nothing more specific than ‘Egypt’.”

“It’s all sand and camels, there aren’t any landmarks.”

“How about ‘when’?”

“Nineteenth century?”

“When in the nineteenth century?”

“I don’t know, I was there on an expedition and everyone used to bring back souvenirs in those days.”

“And you couldn’t have just graverobbed some nice jewellery for Arwen?”

“I did, but then she took it when she left, and I got to keep Djedefhor. Don’t look at me like that, Lord Phipps’ son took home an entire temple.”

“And cultural desecration is alright if everyone else is doing it, is it?”

“He was just lying about the place. If they wanted the bodies to stay there, they’d have been more careful where they put them. Seals that can be opened with only a two pound sledgehammer aren’t proper security measures.”

Legolas was distracted from the argument by movement. “Pippin, what are you doing? Take the Groucho Marx glasses and false moustache off the mummy – it’s not tasteful.”

“It’s funny though.”

“I don’t care if it is or not, it’s in very bad taste.”

Frodo, who secretly liked jokes like that, peered over the lid of the sarcophagus to have a look. It wasn’t quite what he had been expecting. Rather than being a comical horror-film cliché wrapped in bandages, Djedfhor was more like a desiccated Patrick Stewart. But what it really looked like was someone who had been attacked and drained by, say, a giant man-eating spider.

“Frodo? Frodo! Legolas, he’s not blinking?”

Merry waved a hand up and down in front of Frodo’s face. Frodo bit the hand, and in the resulting confusion, ran up the ladder and into the loft.

Aragorn’s first reaction was to try and get Frodo out of the loft by force, but when he got to the top of the ladder he had to duck to avoid the four steak knives before they embedded themselves in the wood around the hatch where his head had just been.

“On to plan B, I think. Sam, could you phone Julie?”

The scuffling noises from the loft woke Gimli up again, and this time he didn’t feel like going back to sleep.

“What’s going on out here?”

“Shhhh!”

“But-”

“Frodo. Loony. Loose in the loft.” Whispered Aragorn.

“Oh. Have you tried getting him down?” Aragorn pointed to the steak knives. “Och. This calls for a more complicated plan.”

Gimli went back to his room for the blackboard and some chalk and started giving out orders as he sketched diagrams on the board.

Meanwhile, Sam was downstairs, phoning for reinforcements.

“Hello, is that Julie? Yes, it’s me. I know, he’s been fine for so long. He’s gone to ground in the loft… no, don’t worry, we’ll get him out. No, don’t call the police, it only upsets him and we can probably calm him down enough for a voluntary admission. Yes, okay, see you soon. Bye.”

With the mummy safely hidden in the sitting room, the Fellowship regrouped on the landing.

“Right, Aragorn, you’ve got the fishing net, Legolas, you’ve got the hoe. Sam and Merry, you’re the beaters, and Pippin, got your running shoes on?” Gimli cracked his knuckles. “Whatever comes out of this loft hatch, be ready for it.”

“Really? I was just expecting Frodo.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Several hours later, Merry and Pippin arrived in Casualty. Pippin was breathing with some difficulty and Merry had a handkerchief tied round his jaw.

The knocked on the window of the reception desk.

“Yes, what is it?”

Merry held up a card reading: Two singles to the hospital please.

“You’re already at the hospital.”

Merry looked at the card, made an apologetic gesture and held up another card. I’ve had my jaw broken by a harmonium wielding maniac.

“And what’s wrong with your friend?”

This time Pippin held up a card. I’ve got a kazoo lodged in my throat. He made some strangled buzzing noises as if to illustrate this fact and held up another. It’s filling up with spit and it’s getting quite difficult to breathe.

“Have you tried the Heimlich manoeuvre?”

Yes.

“Just take a seat then.”

It’s amazing how quickly someone with a kazoo stuck in their throat can get seen by a doctor in casualty. The doctor in question looked at the history he had been given and then at the two short men sitting on the trolley.

“So you live with Frodo Baggins? I heard they’d taken him in again today- was it him that did this to you?”

No.

“Someone else did this to you?”

Merry tapped the sheet of paper the doctor was holding.

“Oh, sorry. Another of your flatmates did this to you. You live with someone more violent than Frodo Baggins?”

Yes.

“You do know that you can get on the list for council housing, and if it’s a case of personal danger they might be able to find somewhere for you to get out of there tonight.”

Merry gestured to the doctor that he’d like to borrow the pen. No thanks, we like living there and it’s fine most of the time.

“Have you considered any mental healthcare for yourself?”

Pippin grabbed the pen and paper from Merry. Yes, but the kazoo in my throat is more of an immediate danger.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Open wide. Ooh, that is lodged in there very well, isn’t it? Does it hurt when I do this?”

The doctor took the enraged buzzing to mean ‘yes’.

“Hold still, this won’t hurt a bit. Now if you’d just hold this basin…”

The doctor pulled the kazoo out, and immediately tried to get out of the line of fire, but unfortunately the basin Pippin had been given wasn’t designed with Hobbit stomach capacity in mind and he managed to throw up over himself, Merry, the doctor, the floor and the basin.

“Disgusting, yet also somehow impressive. We’ll need to get the janitor in here to clean up, and I think I’m going to need a clean white coat. Oh, and you with the jaw, we’d better get you to x-ray.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Gollum, gollum.”

“That’s a rather nasty cough you’ve got there, Mr Took. You were the one with the kazoo in your throat wasn’t it?”

“Yessssss. Gollum.”

“Open wide.” The ear, nose and throat specialist looked into Pippin’s mouth. “It doesn’t look like there’s any permanent damage. So how exactly did that happen, then?”

“We founds them in the loft. A harmonium and a kazoo. Gollum. Got the twinses to bring them down from the loft for us. And we decided to play Tchaicovssssky’s First Piano Concerto. Gollum, gollum.”

“On harmonium and kazoo?”

“Why not? And Lars didn’t like this, no he didn’t. And he was already upset from when Frodo got sssssectioned thisss morning. Gollum.”

“Frodo Baggins?”

“Yessss. Loony Bagginsessss.”

“I see. And then this Lars, he, um, shoved the kazoo down your throat?”

“Yesssss. Murdererssss of classssical musssic he called usss. Gollum, gollum, gollum.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Meanwhile, in radiology…

“So then after he shoved the kazoo down your friend’s throat, what happened?”

Merry wrote furiously for another few minutes before handing over a sheet of paper.

“He tried to make you eat the harmonium? And your other cousin who normally separates you when you fight’s been sectioned? Oh you poor lamb. It’s not been your day, has it love? One cousin sectioned, the other attacked with a kazoo, and you in here with your jaw broken.” The radiology nurse gently hugged Merry, which, because of the difference in height, gave Merry an unrivalled view down her cleavage. If it wasn’t for the broken jaw and considerable pain, he’d have been grinning from ear to ear.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“You could have at least let me drive them to Casualty.”

“They brought it on themselves. They knew the risks when they stole my harmonium. And you did give them the bus fare, the notepad and the biro.”

“Only because you cut the phone line when I tried to ring for a taxi!”

“If you had listened to me I wouldn’t have had to do that.”

“Och, have you considered anger management?”

“I manage my anger very well. I brood and store it up for special occasions, when it can be used to maximum effect.”

There was an uncomfortable silence.

“Well, getting back to the loft…”

“We need to get rid of the mummy-”

“His name is Djedfhor.”

“We need to get rid of Djedfhor before Frodo gets back. And the rest of it, for that matter.”

“We could give it to Oxfam.”

“Somehow I can’t see them taking the vast collection of weapons.”

“Who said we were throwing them out?”

“Aragorn, how many swords does one man need?”

“Lots! For different occasions! I mean, this here is a scimitar, and this here is a claymore, and this is a rapier – all completely different. And then there are everyday swords, long swords, short swords, practice swords, ceremonial swords, spare swords, emergency backup swords-”

“You use them so infrequently you can’t even get the box of one of them open.”

“That’s a special sword. It was present from the emperor… the emperor… Chinese bloke…”

“You can’t even remember which emperor it was!”

“That doesn’t matter. It was a gift. It’s special.”

“So special you can’t get it out of its box.”

“I can, just watch this, and tell me that swords are unnecessary.”

Aragorn picked up a small sword and tried to lever the box open. Then he picked up the claymore and tried again. Then he braced the box with one hand and stood on the claymore. There was a nasty metallic noise.

“Don’t say it.”

Legolas and Gimli looked innocent. “Who, us? Would we ever consider saying anything about the inability of your family to keep a sword unbroken for more than five minutes?”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The next day…

Sam was being very sympathetic about Merry’s broken jaw, since it was almost the worst injury a hobbit could sustain. “Would you like some soup? Chicken soup’s supposed to be good if you’re ill.”

“No! He needs proper food, not namby-pamby soup.”

Merry looked at Pippin worriedly.

“He can’t eat anything that’s not liquid.”

“Which is why we own a blender!”

“No, no, I think we have the blender for other things, like we don’t own a sandwich toaster for frying eggs.”

“Look, I am an expert at multi-tasking, and anyway, triangular eggs fit better in sandwiches.”

Merry had got a tin of soup out from the cupboard and was holding it out to Sam with an expression of hope tinged with desperation.

“No, no, Merry, don’t let him get to you. I am your cousin after all. I have your best interests at heart.”

Both Sam and Merry looked at him in confusion.

“What? I do! Anyway, this is what you need, a good old fashioned fry up, with all the trimmings, and extra mushrooms. And some tomatoes and baked beans so it liquidises better.”

Pippin got two large frying pans out and started emptying the contents of the fridge, accompanied by a large quantity of butter, into them. He was being extra careful not to burn anything, since this might create lumps. When it was done to his satisfaction it was emptied into the blender, liquidised, then poured into a jug through a sieve. He added a straw, and draped a slice of tomato over the side for presentation, and then gave it to Merry.

Merry stared at the strange coloured concoction in front of him. The fat was already starting to float to the top.

“Go on, drink up! If you’re still hungry afterwards I’ll liquidise one of those microwave chocolate puddings.”

Merry gave a frightened squeak.

“Oh don’t worry, I’ll give the blender a quick rinse first.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In a lifeboat station, somewhere on the coast….

“Right lads, we’ve got another pair of wannabe Ellen Macarthurs out in the bay.”

“Oh great, what are they trying to sail this time?”

“Looks a bit Blue Peter-ish. Their sail looks a lot like the curtains in our downstairs bathroom.”

“We’d better get out there before they sink then.”

The inshore lifeboat was launched and was soon bobbing alongside Elladan and Elrohir’s boat.

“Come on, you’re sinking. Just get into our boat and we’ll take you back.”

Elladan and Elrohir did not pause from bailing to answer the lifeboatman as this would have meant sinking.

“Like-”

“Would you mind not bailing into our lifeboat, please?”

“Oh, like, sorry.”

“We’re like, sailing into the west.”

“You’re going south-east.”

“Dude, I told you we shouldn’t have used the compass we got in a Christmas cracker.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When Legolas returned from work on Monday evening he found an unexpected visitor sitting on the sofa the living room.

“Merry, Pippin, what is Djedfhor doing down here?”

“You couldn’t expect me to stay in that box all the time,” replied a dusty voice.

“We thought it would be nice for him to come downstairs and watch tv with us, but then we realised that Aragorn had forgotten to take the canopic jar with his eyes in it, but we went through some boxes and found someone else’s.”

“Somehow, without even answering my question you’ve managed to tell me everything I didn’t want to know.”

“Gandalf did it.”

“Ah, I thought that phrase would turn up.”

“We were bored and wanted new and interesting company. We’ve found out that civil servants are the same, whatever time they lived in and listened to amusing anecdotes about collecting grain dues.”

“Sounds fascinating.”

“It is.”

“Why is he speaking English?”

“We thought it would be rude to ask.”

“How do you know it’s even him? It could be another ancient Egyptian civil servant possessing him. It might even be someone pretending to be an ancient Egyptian civil servant.”

“Who would want to impersonate an ancient Egyptian civil servant?”

“I don’t know, but would you want them in your living room?”

“Look, you, Djedfhor, or whoever you are, sod off back to your own afterlife.”

“Well, I know where I’m not wanted!” Djedfhor de-animated and the mummy slumped forwards, shedding dust.

“Some people live normal lives. They go out to work and come home in the evenings to normal housemates, or even families, and never have to deal with visitors from beyond the grave or portals opening in their kitchen equipment.”

“Yeah, but they tend not to be 6000 year old immortals.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The next weekend, Aragorn, Legolas and Sam packed up whatever was left of the contents of the loft that hadn’t been sent to Southeby’s. This was rather a lot because Arwen and Gandalf had long ago sold most of the valuable items they could get their hands on. With a rickety kitchen table strapped to the roof of the landrover, the three of them set out early on Saturday morning for a car boot sale.

“Well, at least we didn’t have to take Frodo with us.”

“Yeah, we’re here to get rid of as much stuff as possible, and he always ends up buying insane amounts of 1970s cookware.”

“What is it about 1970s cookware though, it’s not valuable or particularly useful compared to more recent stuff.”

“He’s a pathological mathom collector, never been able to help himself. You should have seen it when we sold Bag End for the first time, what he did with that many candlesticks I’ll never know, most of them were in cupboards where no one would see them.”

Arriving at the field where the car boot sale was to take place, they started setting up, trying to arrange their junk as attractively as possible on a folding table. However, this tends to be difficult with most of the things that people sell at car boot sales and what Aragorn, Legolas and Sam were trying to get rid of was no exception, as it included: a selection of mis-matched crockery, records which no one would admit to having bought, a box of badges, some half completed craft kits, a pram, tacky raffia items brought back from foreign holidays, assorted brass ornaments, prints of big-eyed children in various locations and with various props and a conflagration of toasting forks, which they attempted to arrange in as enticing a way as possible on the old kitchen table.

Three hours later there was nothing left. They’d even sold the table. Only Legolas’ intervention had stopped Aragorn from selling the tool kit, first aid kit and spare tyre for the landrover.

“Aragorn… you don’t normally limp?”

“It’s an old war wound.”

“Which war?”

“Um…”

“The war you fought on the way to the bathroom or the one on the way back? You weren’t limping when you left. Aragorn, what are you hiding in your trousers?”

“That’s a rather personal question, isn’t it?”

Legolas folded his arms and stared at Aragorn until he gave in and very carefully drew a sword out of his trouser leg.

“Another sword?”

“It’s sixteenth century, from the height of the gothic movement and they were only asking for a tenner because they were using it as a fire poker. Please can I keep it?”

“Are you going to look after this one, or just put it in the loft?”

“Look after it.”

“Alright then, as long as it’s just the one.”

Aragorn nodded forcefully, hoping that Legolas wouldn’t notice the skean dubh in his other boot.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A curator was standing at the back door of the British Museum, smoking and drinking his first cup of coffee of the morning before making an early start on his day’s curating when a landrover skidded into the loading bay. It slowed down briefly and a small, masked figure pushed a sarcophagus out of the back. It bounced.

The curator took another mouthful of coffee and draw on his cigarette, then eventually, on seeing that the sarcophagus was still here, wandered over to have a look. It wasn’t his specialism, but it looked real enough. He shouted to one of the porters.

“Reg?”

“What?”

“Is anyone from Egyptology in yet?”

“Dunno. Why?”

“I think we’ve got a new one.”