What follows is a short tale I presented long, long ago at the weekly event put on by The Lonely Mountain Band known as Ales and Tales.  It is, of course, told from the viewpoint of one who has their back turned on the event and is watching a reflection, one where everything is reversed!  Much of it may not make much sense to those who have never attended an Ales and Tales, however.  Rather than take the time to explain it all, why not you join us at the next one and become enlightened? [Please see the Lorebook entry or the Ales and Tales thread on the Landroval forums for more information]

My friends often compliment me on my punctuality and quick wit.  As testament to this, I would like to present my entry for the Ales and Tales’ Tall Tales competition.  You know, the one that was held about four or five months back?

*sighs*

So, please remember that this is a tall tale!

Friends, these are dark times, as you all know only too well.  Experiencing the joy that comes from gathering with friends and ones dear to us is so important, even in the best of times!  We are all connected, and joy and sorrow pass from us, and through us, like a fever.  We can take heart from so many things, including time spent in good company.  That is what I sought recently when I attended an event promising an evening of music, dancing, and recitations of works both original and established.  I will report to you what I encountered instead, and it was not pretty.  This is my report, and my warning, regarding the weekly event known as Ales and Tales.

I arrived at Methel-stage right on time and found that a most unpleasant crowd had gathered.  There were small groups of people whispering amongst themselves, making light of the others in attendance.  The mood was foul, and it became fouler still when a red-haired woman walked onstage to start the proceedings.

As she made her opening remarks, it was clear that she had the respect of those in attendance, but it was the type of respect born from fear and domination, rather than that which comes from love and admiration.  You see, she was one of those bossy types and, obviously, very used to having her orders carried out.  All night long it was:  “The band will perform a song now”, “We will be having a tale now” and “Dance in a circle, people!”.

One moment, please.

*walks over to Harperella and gives her a big hug before returning to center stage*

So, anyway, she orders a band to come onstage and play, the Eriador Music Society or somesuch.  It must have been the house band or something, because when they started playing, all I could think was, “House this music going to get any worse?”

This went on for a while, intermixed with people from the audience sharing stories that were both banal and horribly boring, so I started to look around for some other form of entertainment.  I saw a hobbit-lass passing out flasks to people.  Tinki was her name, I believe.  She came over when I beckoned, but when I asked for a beverage, all she gave me was a quick kick in the shin before she ran off!

I saw a gentleman standing nearby who held a couple of flasks and was drinking from one of them quite habitually.  I noticed he bore the accouterments of one who serves in the Ecthellion Legion, so I decided to thank him for his service and see if he would be willing to share his good fortune with me.

“Good evening, miss.  Captain Dagodor at your service,” he said, as I approached him.

“Greetings, sir!  How do you fare this eve?” I asked him.

“Well, I will be glad when this is over,” he smirked.

“Indeed!” I replied.  “Say, I noticed that you had an extra flask there.  Would you be willing to share it with me?  This music is dreadful, and I need a little something to take the edge off, you know?”

He looked absolutely horrified.

“Miss, this is pure spring water, I will have you know.  And I advise you to stay away from ale and the like.  No good can come of it!”  He gave me one final look of disdain, turned on his heel, and walked away!

I was about to call out after him and ask why he chose to attend an event named after the very thing he warned me of, when I was run into from behind with such force that I was knocked to the ground!

“Hey, watch out!” I cried, as I turned over to see a hobbit picking himself up off the ground next to me.

“GAH!” he exclaimed, as he finally seemed to notice me.  He reached over his shoulder and grabbed a pointy stick, one of many that were slung over his back, and pointed it at me!

“Stay back, you!  Stay back!” he shouted.

I was about to explain that I meant him no harm, when we both heard what sounded like a stampede headed our way.  He lit off like a firecracker, and I was nearly trampled to death by the large throng of elf-maidens and women that chased after the poor hobbit.  As they ran after him, they sang with one voice, “Javelarry!  Javelarry!  Why are you off to the races?  We wish only to give you kisses and embraces!”

I could go on and on, you know.  Each person in attendance was a story in their own right.  It was a gathering of the benighted, in every sense of the word, with not a single source of light to brighten the darkness, even a bit.

*thinks for a moment*

Well, truth be told, there was one bright spot.

*smiles brightly*

Erudite, well-spoken, and impeccably groomed, Master Tarnorili Oreshaper delighted one and all with his warmth, grace, and kind words, especially toward all the elves in attendance.  He had such respect, even reverence for them!  Even he was a little odd, however.  He could not seem to help himself from complimenting the elves on the pallor of their complexion!

But even as the brightest star in the night sky cannot illuminate the whole, this one bright spot in my evening could never make amends for the rest of what I had endured.  And so I repeat my warning once again:  Find joy amongst each other, but not at Ales and Tales. It is, simply put, the worst time ever!

Thank you!

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