being sandwiched between a plate of underdone, soggy mushrooms and the
remains of a particularly fine salmon en-croute, the scroll was unchanged.
After an eternity of watching the scroll sink ever deeper into the soapy
water, the wizard strode to the window, slammed it shut, and drew the
curtains. The room became suddenly dark and ominously silent and only
the distant whirr of Jam Spongee's electric-mower could still be faintly
heard from the garden. For a moment the wizard considered pulling out
the plug from the wall socket, then he considered silencing Jam by slowly
choking him to death with the cord, because, truth to tell, Randolf
hated electric-mowers with a passion nearly as intense as his hatred
of Oiks - the fell creatures bred by the Dark Director in imitation
of decent gentlemen, but he did none of these things. Instead, he stooped
and lifted the dripping, sodden scroll from the sink.
"Take it", said the wizard, "it is quite dry". And
strange to tell - it was.
Fido received it in his trembling hand, it seemed to have grown larger
and heavier and a mysterious light shone from it.
"Hold it up to the light", said Randolf, "And examine
"But there is no light. You closed the window and drew the curtains,"
"Silly Robbit, Light a candle!"
Fido did not dare to question the wizard even though there was a very
serviceable electricity supply laid on to the hole, to which Jam's noisy,
horticultural activities outside, bore testimony. Instead he lit a candle,
and held the scroll up to it.
"What do you see!" asked the wizard.
"Nothing, nothing at all."
"Look more closely!"
Before Fido's startled eyes faint letters began to take shape upon
the snow-white scroll. Finer than the finest calligraphy; finer even
than the fur on his shapely Robbit footses. They shone brightly, as
if illuminated from within. "I cannot read the words; they are
in a language unknown to me,." said Fido in a faltering voice.
"No," said Randolf. "But I can. The letters are Gibberish,
in an arcane mode, of a dialect called by the lore masters of old -
'Amurkan', but the language is that of Kiwidor, which I will not speak
without my literary agent being present, but in plain Robbitish this
is what is written, near enough:
'One Scroll to rule them all.
One Script to blind them, One scroll to bring them all to heel and in
the darkness bind them.' It is only a line or two
from an unpublished rhyme, long rejected by discerning literary agents
in the Holly Wood: 'Three
Scrolls for the academics who refuse to deal, Seven for the producers
with a stake, Nine for the script-editors filled with zeal, One for
the Dark Director on the make, in the land of Kiwidor, where the actors
kneel . One Scroll to rule them all. One Script to blind them, One scroll
to bring them all to heel, and in the darkness bind them.'
Randolf sighed, and then said bitterly in a hushed voice:
"This is the Master-Scroll. The ONE Scroll to rule them all. The
BIG SCRIPT he lost ages ago, to the great weakening of his creative
output. He desires it more than gold, or mind-altering drugs, or strawberry
cream served on the thighs of a Rondorian virgin who has just discovered
she is a nymphomaniac.
HE MUST NOT GET IT!"
Fido sat dumbfounded and motionless. Stark terror laid its icy fingers
upon his stalwart, Robbit heart, and slowly squeezed it until it shot
into his mouth and threatened to escape to somewhere where it would
be of no earthly use to him.
"T-this Scroll," he spluttered, "How on Middle-Earth
did it come to me!"
"Ah," said Randolf portentously, "that is a long story
whose beginnings lie in the distant time of the Black Age, which only
the lore-masters of Oxfodian can now recall. Last night I told you of
JAKASS the Mighty, the Dark Director. He has arisen from the obscurity
with which his mediocrity hitherto cloaked his evil ambitions and has
appeared in Kiwidor - his ancient stronghold. That name even Robbits
have heard of, like a terror that creeps stealthily upon us in the night
time, and prevents us doing what comes naturally to healthy young lads
and lasses at bedtime - ahem! But I digress..
"I wish it had never come to me", said Fido.
"So do I," said Randolf. "But wishes don't butter any
parsnips, as Gaffer Spongee is wont to say. We have to decide what to
do with it, and quickly. Time is running out and even now the Enemy
is drawing his forces together for the final assault. We should be hard
pressed to resist him at any time, but if he obtains the Great Scroll
we are utterly doomed. As yet he lacks the one thing that would give
him absolute power to destroy his critics, and unleash a storm of cinematographic
mediocrity such as the world has not seen since the coming of Police
Academy to Middle-Earth. He lacks the One Scroll.
The three, most precious of all, the academics hid from him, and his
hand has never edited them. Seven the producers possessed, but three
he has stolen from them, and the others, the movie-moguls long ago consumed.
Nine he gave to some leading script-editors, haughty and famous, and
so ensnared them. Long ago they fell under the spell of the One Scroll,
and became scribblers, talentless ghost writers under his greater shadow,
his most zealous admirers and our most deadly foes. It is long since
the Nine showed their work to any publisher's agents. Yet who knows?
As his evil shadow grows longer, they may publish again. It stands thus:
Nine he has found, the Seven also, or else they have been adapted into
novellas which have fallen into ignominy, and been remaindered. The
Three are still up for grabs, but that no longer concerns him as they
were never made to capture a mass audience, and have been largely forgotten.
He only needs the One; for he made that Scroll himself and allowed much
of his former creativity to pass into it. It is altogether his. If he
recovers it , he will command all the scrolls again, even the Three,
though he never made them, and he will be stronger than ever. He now
knows that the One has not been destroyed by the academics, as it SHOULD
have been, and that it has been found. So he is even now seeking it,
and all his evil will is bent upon its recovery."
"Why wasn't it taken from him and destroyed?" asked Fido.
"It was taken from him," replied Randolf. "The standing
of Academics was higher then than it is now, and not all writers were
in competition with them for literary prizes. The Guild of Romance Writers
came to their aid. It was Professor Ronald, a leading Oxfod academic
and his live-in help, Ellen Dildo, who defeated the Jackass, though
they themselves perished in the struggle; Then Issy Dors, Ellen Dildo's
step-daughter, ripped the scroll from Jackass's grasp and took it for
her own, saying: 'This I will have for my Mummy's legacy, you talentless,
fat old git!' Issy Dors was professor Ronald's love-child according
to the Lore-masters; but that is a chapter of family history that it
may be better not to recall just now; for there was deep regret and
shame in those events, not to mention considerable litigation, but also
much sacrifice, and some great sex that is not wholly without interest
to a scholar like myself.
One day, perhaps, I will unravel the sordid tale to you, or you can
read about it in my memoirs when I publish them. Issy Dors was a sexually
precocious and very fetching lass, much given to 'all-night Raves',
as the youthful entertainments of those days were known, and in a moment
of thoughtless abandonment with the worst dregs of Rondorian high society,
she lost the scroll, her maidenhead and, sad to tell, her young life.
The scroll fell, or was thrown (opinion is divided on this), into a
passing garbage wagon which later deposited its cargo on the municipal
There it remained, lost for ages, until even the memory of it's existence
faded from the minds of all but a few ageing academics. Even the Writers
Council could discover no more. Long afterwards, long before the ancestors
of the Robbits peopled this land, there existed a vagabond band of story-tellers
who eaked out a miserable existence selling third-rate manuscripts to
unscrupulous publishers of scurrilous pamphlets. I think they were of
the Robbit-kind; lazy, self-indulgent, dim-witted folk, but not without
their own unique courage and culinary skills. They lived off the detritus
of the rubbish dump, and often found the cast off first draughts of
dyspeptic authors amidst its myriad mounds and winding tunnels, which
they sold to pay for food and clothing, and the occasional night out
at Old Mother Miggins Dancehall and Gin shop. The most odious and scheming
of this rascally rabble was one 'Hokum'. He was not interested in anything
except literary acclaim, casual sex, and a cure for his disfiguring
facial dermatitis. All his efforts were bent on writing the 'great novel',
or 'my magnificent Octopus' as he called it, that would make his fortune,
ensure his immortal fame, and pay for cosmetic surgery. But since he
could not write a line, and had no desire to learn, he stole. In a word,
my dear Robbit, he was the worst of criminals in literary circles: an
One day, whilst he was scrambling over the old dump as usual, his hand
touched something hard and round, and very warm.
'Oh...Hokum!', you naughty boy, 'I had no idea you thought that way
But even Hokum drew the line at playing those games with his own sister,
and pushing her angrily away, dived deeper into the labyrinthine tunnels
of the dump. It was there that he eventually found the scroll - the
very scroll that you hold in your hand. Of course, he did not know then
what it was, except that it was quite obviously very magical. He also
did not know that his sister had found it first, and had hidden it deep
within the dump to give to Mother Miggins as a 'birthday present'. Unfortunately,
his sister had followed him into the tunnels and a desperate struggle
for posession of the scroll ensued.
'Give us that' Bunkup, my sweet,' hissed Hokum menacingly. For that
was the gangling, asthmatic girl's name. 'I wants it!'
'Shan't - it's my birthday presee to Ma Miggins and I seed it first.'
'Give us it now, you trollop or it'll be the worse for you,' said Hokum,
ripping the bodice from her pert young breasts.
Randolf coughed self-consciously and Fido felt himself getting hot
as the Wizard continued.
"Though Bunkup struggled fiercely Hokum was the stronger and his
sweaty hands tore her skimpy knickers from her trembling thighs. Soon
he was astride her, his foul breath coming in short pants. How she hated
him! But her body wouldn't obey her and soon it was she who was coming
in even shorter pants. His dirty fingernails raked her silken thighs,
his vile lips fastened on her tender neck - Ahem! Soon it was all over
and Hokum waved the scroll triumphantly aloft while his sister crawled
away into the darkness to be violently sick." The Wizard paused
and re-lit his pipe.
"What happened then?" asked Fido.
"What you would expect," replied the Wizard. "Within
a week Hokum was under contract to write a new biography for the biggest
publishing house in Rondor. Within two, he was being lionized by those
who would not have stooped to clean him off their shoes a month before.
Soon he was the talk of the land. He was THE HOKUM - literary prodigy
and author of the century, and the rich and famous flocked from far
and wide to bask in his reflected glory. But the good times were not
to last. All too soon he began to put the scroll to evil uses. He stole
the manuscripts of the leading literary lights of his day, and passed
them off as his own. He deflowered Rondorian maidens by the score and
became a notorious Numenorian Rug trafficker. He gate-crashed publisher's
parties to which he had not been invited, and blackmailed the husbands
of the wives he had compromised. It was not to be wondered at that he
soon became very unpopular.
His agents deserted him. Prizes formerly his for the asking were bestowed
elsewhere. Literary lunches were cancelled. So he put his sister on
the game and lived off her immoral earnings. Before long his relatives
disowned him, the Rug barons put out contracts on him for non-payment
of his debts, and his publishers returned his work unread. Even his
sister deserted him for a minor poet, and filed charges for statutory
rape and incest. Finally he was banished from Rondor, and wondered,
lonely and friendless, cursing the hardness of literary agents, the
shortcomings of nepotism, and the futility of vanity publishing. Eventually
he wormed his evil way into the good graces of a kind, but rather stupid
Academic, who kept a second-hand book shop in Gladstone's Inn Fields,
and there Bingo found him, quite by chance it seemed to all but the
Wise, one afternoon before you born. "
"Hokum!" ejaculated Fido.