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[page 14] A [unreadable] of Middle Urrth Or: "How the Wizard Lost his Toe-nails" By John F. Kusske {Image: A shaded drawing to the rigth of the title depicts a male figrure (Elmer) strapped to a chair with ropes made of arrgh hair, while two other figures (Adolf and Andrew) stand in the background. The background figures are too small to include visible details beyond looking distinctly non-human. Elmer shares motifs with a traditional vampire: pronounced features, slicked-back hair, a cape, and large, preditory eyes.} Andrew the arrgh was enjoying an after-supper pipe at the home of his cousin, Atolpa the urrgh, [unreadable] the wizard stumbled in. Normally if elves are able to smell arrghs five miles away, but this particular one (But [at least 2 unreadable words] to avoid possible embarassment to the wizard and in a [at least 2 unreadable words] to the author) had hay fever. He didn't know that there were [unreadable] [unreadable] until he me is plodded through and was confronted with the [unreadable] [unreadable] specimens. Needles to say, the wizard was even more [unreadable] they were. For the the three remained motionless, easy considering the situation [unreadable] [unreadable] visible advantages and/or consequences. He gained suffered [unreadable] [unreadable] [unreadable] in a very difficult spot -- he could ever hope to beat two [unreadable] [unreadable] combat -- it's brain was working furiously trying to devise [unreadable] [unreadable] from the arghs' clutches. Eligi[unreadable] was impossbile -- Andrew had [unreadable] [unreadable] [unreadable]ast is Elmer; sorcery seemed fruitless -- is immune [unreadable] tricks; and calling for help would, [unreadable] of the 'n Ilimir [unreadable] futile. [unreadable] [unreadable] [unreadable] idols of his [unreadable] when [unreadable] arrghs [unreadable] [unreadable] [unreadable] [unreadable] Elisar to the floor (although threre are [unreadable] [unreadable] [unreadable] [the next two lines fo the text are unreadable.] [page 15] ropes of arrgh-hair, of course) to a chair. The two arrghs immediately set to work thinking of ways to torment the wizard. "I think we should cut him up in little pieces," Andrew said, "starting with the feet." "No -- no," replied Adolph, "we need something much more painfull @painful@. Why don't we build a fire under him, and roast him to death?" "It would stink up our house," Andrew answered. "How about forcing him to read the complete works of Edgar Rice Burroughs?" "Say, that's a pretty good idea..." Adolph observed, "But I've got a better one. We'll leave him tied up to the chair, and let him starve to death!" The brilliance of this proposal impressed Andrew greatly. For you see, arrghs, when they're healthy, are the most delicious tasting food in the universe. Arrghs are the only foods that can nourish a wizard; and when they cannot (for some _very_ sufficient reason) obtain healthy arrgh, wizards have been known to eat arrgh that man spoiled. (Rotten arrgh is the worst tasting substance in the Universe.) The situation of Elmer, rendered helpless by ropes and starving -- while his source of salvation frolicked just beyond his reach, was just barely worse than reading _The Monster Men_. "Wait a minute fellows," the wizard pleaded. "I've always been a pretty good guy. Sure I've eaten a few arrghs, but only a few, just enough to keep alive. Give me a break, huh? I'll never bother you again, and I'll save you from my peers if they ever happen to catch you. I'll be your champion wizzard @wizard@, why I'll..." "Stow it!" roared Andrew. "We're not nearly as dumb as you think -- if you think we'll trust a wizzard @wizard@. Five minutes after your release, you'd descend upon us with a troupe of a million urks, and then _we'd_ be the ones beggin for mercy. No thank you, Mr. Wizard, we like you just the way you are!" ********* Adolph didn't think that Elmer had been suffering enough, five days later. "He's not losing any weight," Adolph said. "And he's not groaning nearly as much as he should be." "It would be just our luck," said Andrew, "to get a masochistic wizzard @wizard@." After thinking a moment, Andrew continued: "Let's pull out his toe-nails, though, and see how he reacts--" So they found a pair of pliers and applied it to Elmer's feet. he shrieked and groaned and howled, and all the while he vowed inwardly to obtain revenge from the agents of his torture. And he knew just how to do it... Elmer's ropes had been made of arrgh-hair. Elmer had been absrobing them through his skin; it was in this manner that he had been nourished. That was why Adolph and Andrew could detect no loss of weight in the wizzard @wizard@. Actually, the wizard had enjoyed his imprisonment very much, being fed on arrgh and all -- until the arrgh pulled out his toe-nails. And in addition, as he fed on the ropes, the ropes grew thinner. Few hours, and he would be able to escape. But of course the arrghs never noticed this. [page 16] inally the ropes yielded to the wizzard's @wizard's@ strength. Carefully, Elmer broke his bonds, and then waited until night when the arrghs would sleep. That night, when the arrghs were snoring, Elmer pocketed the ropes and limped out of the house. Once in the open, the wizzard @wizzard@ spread his wings and flapped into the sky. A few minutes later, Andrew, sensing that somethine was wrong, woke himself up and checked the house. He was exceptionally horrified to see the wizzard @wizard@ absent, and he roused Adolph. The two arrghs desperately packed as many belongings as they could carry and rushed out. They ran for a day and a night. The next morning, Elmer returned with a force of 30,000 urks. He expected the arrghs to still be sleeping and unsuspecting. His company surrounding the house, Elmer walked up to the back door and pulled it open. He was greeted by a pail of rotten arrgh-juice splashing down upon his head. The arrghs, before they fled, had not neglected to set a small trap for their late captive. And in the brightening dawn of Middle Urrth, Elmer the toe-nailess, stood swearing, for the ten thousandth time, revenge. THE END.