Tales Unheard

Best Brew in Buckland, The

7. The Drunken Dragon Pt 2

"I will sing the first song," Pippin volunteered. The bench scraped loudly along the floor as he pushed it back, standing up.

As Pippin climbed onto the bench, Éomer took a long sip of his own drink and looked over at Elphir. "This is good ale. Quite unlike any I have ever tasted before. What is the brew?"

"Pierman's Porter," Elphir replied. "It is a Dol Amroth ale, very popular."

"And strong," Éomer replied, his answer almost drowned out by a cheer coming from across the room.

"A song!" one of Forlong's men called out from the far corner. "Give us a song, little master!"

"Go ahead, then," Merry urged his cousin. "Give them your song."

Pippin smiled down at Merry, remembering another evening when he had wanted to sing a song but had been rudely interrupted. Not this time. "I think I might have a song for the occasion," he called out to the back table, then began in a voice surprisingly clear, as innocent as a young bird singing in a spring field.

"The moonlight shone on his buttons brass
As he stood 'neath the Party Tree.
The Bolgers, Boffins, and Brandybucks,
Grubbs and Bracegirdles, Chubbs and Tooks
Looked up expectantly.

"'Eleventy-one years is far too short
To live among Hobbits so fine.
I asked you to this feast today
To hear just what I have to say;
You will three purposes find.'

"He spoke of birthdays, barrels and trolls,
Eagles and flies that bite.
And then his eyes, oh they did shine
And his hands, they reached behind,
And then he said, 'Good-night.'

"With a boom and a blast and a rain of fire
He vanished into thin air.
Not quite knowing what to think,
His guests all called for another drink
And he slipped away from there.

"So Mother Tooks, you watch your sons,
For jaunts won't turn out well;
Just warm your feet by your comfy fire,
And you all stay safe in the Shire,
'Lest you fall to that Wizard's spell."

As he sang the last word he clinked his mug against Faramir's, then climbed down and sat across from Merry, taking a long pull of his ale.

"Where did you hear that song?" Merry asked him. "If it's a Shire-tune, we don't sing it in Buckland."

"You wouldn't," Pippin replied, "because it's out of my own head. I was going to sing it at The Prancing Pony, but Frodo interrupted me with his foolish dance."

"It's good," Merry said. "I didn't know--" Merry stopped, his voice ringing through the silence that had fallen throughout the room. Faramir had stood and was now looking anxiously around. He took in a breath of air and tried to stand up straight. The ale was clearly beginning to affect him, but he did not want the soldiers to see that.

"What shall I sing?" he asked, taking a small sip of his ale.

"A captain of Men who knows no drinking songs?" Gimli exclaimed, taking a sip of his own mug. "In truth, you are in need of tutoring."

Faramir looked at his own mug, still almost entirely full, then over at the group of Ithilien Rangers sitting on the other side of the hearth. He recalled troops singing loudly under his barracks window. Very loudly, if memory served.

"I think I might have just the song," he said, raising his mug in toast to the Rangers before setting it down on the table.

"Oh when I joined the Rangers
(And it might have been yesterday)
I kissed a girl at the Rammas
Before I rode away."

As Faramir's voice reached out across the room, silence fell, unbroken except for an occasional clink as a mug was set down or the creak of leather as someone stirred. The steward's speaking voice was as authoritative as any wizard's, but his singing voice was fair indeed. His rich tenor was a bit rusty perhaps, but well-versed in the ballads his men had often asked him to sing for them, and it carried a slight hint of his remote Elven heritage.

"A long ride, a hard ride, and danger I'd ne'er before faced
When I left my girl at the Rammas, where we last embraced."

At that his eyes twinkled. Faramir picked up his mug and banged it against his cousin's as he continued, now more quickly:

"The girls of Rohan, near pure as gold,
And sun-bronzed girls by the Sea...
The Citadel's daughters are fine, 'tis true,
Perfect gentility.
And Pelennor's maid beyond compare,
When there I happen to be."

The Rangers were swaying to the beat, singing softly along with their captain. Throughout the room Faramir heard the sound of feet keeping time.

"But the girl I kissed at the Rammas,
Kissed and left at the Rammas,
The girl I kissed at the Rammas,
She kept a part of me."

The Rangers took up the song, clinking their mugs over-zealously and causing ale to spill over the edges, their boisterous voices making up in volume what they lacked in Faramir's grace.

"The girls of Rohan, near pure as gold,
The Sun-bronzed girls by the Sea...
The Citadel's daughters are fine, we know,
Perfect gentility.
And Pelennor's maids defy compare,
When there we happen to be,

"But the girl he kissed at the Rammas,
That beautiful lass at the Rammas,
The girl he kissed at the Rammas,
She kept a part of he!"

They fell silent, though, as Faramir began to sing again, a far-off look in his eyes.

"'Twas a long ride, a hard ride, and danger I'd ne'er again face,
E'er I found her at the Rammas, where we'd last embraced."

The room erupted into cheers, and the innkeeper was kept busy for quite some time bringing around pitchers of ale to all the tables that called for him.

Faramir sat down beside Éomer, his face still red with embarrassment. His future brother-in-law looked at him warily. "Just how many girls have you kissed?" he asked. "Come now -- I will not tell my sister."

"'Tis only a song," Faramir replied nervously.

"Aye, as you say," Éomer said. "To the pretty maids, wherever they be from," he said, draining his mug and reaching for the pitcher to refill it.

By the time Éomer had set the pitcher back down and Faramir had mopped up with his napkin the ale Éomer had spilt, Forlong's men had begun their own song: a jolly tune about the time their lord had sat down to dinner and broken the bench, sending his brother's wife tumbling into his lap. As they were finishing their song, Faramir reached over and tapped Gimli's mug.

Gimli, who had been listening to the song across the room, glanced back at Faramir, a slightly surprised look on his face. He slowly remembered their drinking game and rose to his feet and began singing in a voice as deep as the caverns he mined beneath Erebor.

"Under the Lonely Mountain cold
In dungeons deep and caverns old
Smaug lay asleep on treasure deep
Until disturbed by hobbit bold.

"From burglar's words he knew his prey,
And Smaug the Great would make them pay.
He circled low t'ward quaking foe,
Silencing songs of yesterday.

"The Master fled to his great boat,
And with him wealthy men of note.
Woman and child sought for the wild
Far from the flames and dragon-smoke.

"Yet on the last great pier there stood
A corps of lakemen pure and good;
They sought to fight that worm's foul might.
Their hopes might fail, yet fight they would.

"Bard's bow was aimed, his string was taut,
He spied the dragon's tender spot,
And then he pierced the dragon fierce:
His arrow barbed found what it sought.

"And so we won our long-lost gold,
Though half that tale has not been told.
The armies three found victory
And reforged friendships made of old.

"Now drain your glass, and drink in cheer;
Forget not deeds of yester-year:
The dragon's hoard may now afford
A few taps more of this good beer.

"Hear, hear!" came the cry from around the room.

Gimli clinked his mug with Merry's and moved to pour himself some more ale but found the pitcher empty again. He reached for his money pouch and pulled out a few coins, looking knowingly across the table at Faramir. "Let no man call a dwarf stingy with his gold," he growled. He lifted the empty pitcher into the air, and the innkeeper came running over.

"What can I get for ye?" he asked, huffing to catch his breath.

"Another pitcher of -- what shall we have?" Gimli asked the table at large.

"Pierman's Porter," Éomer decided. Before anyone could say another word, the innkeeper was gone, taking the pitcher with him. While they waited for him to return, everyone looked up at Merry, now standing on the end of the table with his back to the fire, his mug in hand. He drained his mug, then set it down and put his hands on his waist, surveying the room. The firelight glistened off his silver cufflinks, and Merry grinned at the Rangers, then at the other tables, knowing their full attention was focused on him. At last he began, in a voice much more robust than Pippin's but still foreign-sounding to the Big People:

"Will Whitfoot is a merry old mayor
And a merry old mayor is he.
He has his home in the old Town Hole,
'Twas as smart a hole as you might see."

Merry bent down, still singing, and grabbed Pippin under the arms, pulling him up. Pippin scrambled to his feet, climbing up onto the bench and then to the tabletop, as Merry continued,

"Oh they feast so fine in the old Town Hole
And Old Will, oh he likes to dine.
He gives all the toasts and he holds his court
And Old Will, why he likes his wine."

Merry and Pippin draped their arms around each other's shoulders and faced the room.

"Now one fine evening, when it was late
And the wine had been flowing deep,
Old Will, he decided on one more glass
Before he went off to sleep.

"The guests, they had gone, so quite on his own
He went in to the feasting hall
To find a glass and the end of a bottle
But he didn't find that at all:

"For as he thought to steal a drink
The roof came tumbling down,
With a crash and a roar and a mighty thump
That was heard for miles around.

"Now everyone ran to see the to-do
And what a sight their eyes did meet.
When Will came out, they all gave a shout:
For he looked as white as a sheet."

Merry and Pippin now faced each other, their hands on their knees. They sang to each other now, Pippin motioning to Merry's clothes as they named each article.

"There was dust on his trews and dust on his coat
And his hands and his head and his hair.
He looked just like a dumpling floured
And his brown feet were ever so fair."

Then, facing the room again, they sang more loudly the final verse:

"So here is an end to our tale of Will,
Whose old Hole came tumbling down.
And the moral of the tale is: don't drink on your own
But make sure you buy us a round!"

The entire room filled with laughter as Pippin reached down for his and Merry's mugs, pressing Merry's into his hand. "Let's hear that last verse again, Master!" a voice called out from somewhere in the room, and Merry happily obliged:

"So here is an end to my tale of Will,
Whose old Hole came tumbling down.
And the moral of the tale is: don't drink on your own
But make sure you buy us a round!"

Merry tossed his mug and watched it spiral over his and Pippin's heads, preparing to catch it. Not realizing that Gimli had helpfully refilled it for him, he had thought it empty. The pint of ale came raining down on Merry and Pippin, and also on Erchirion sitting near them. Merry dropped the mug in his shock, and it shattered on the floor. They both stood there petrified for a few seconds, the ale dripping from their now-drenched hair into small puddles on the table below them.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

In Challenges

Story Information

Author: Marta

Status: Beta

Completion: Work in Progress

Rating: General

Last Updated: 06/09/04

Original Post: 01/31/04

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