I am sorry to report that due to circumstances beyond our control, today's ceremony to announce the winner of the Most Silver Tongue Silmaril in the 2020 Silmaril Awards has been cancelled. There was an unfortunate failure in the magical countermeasures intended to prevent any untoward incidents at this year's Silmaril Awards, resulting in the kidnapping of the presenter, Mr. Bilbo Baggins, and all five of the nominees.
However, despite this mishap, Mr. Baggins still managed to present the award. In addition, we have succeeded in reconstructing the events of the presentation by means of casting an enchantment from the spellbook of the wizard Coriakin of Duffer Island upon a palantir from Middle-Earth. The following is an accurate representation of what befell the missing presenter and nominees, who were later rescued.
“Now, Mr. Baggins, tell me…from what country do you come?”
Bilbo Baggins blinked in confusion. He realized he was not entirely certain of where he was. He knew where he was supposed to be…at least, he thought he knew. He had a vague impression of some sort of arena, where he was meant to be giving some sort of award…but it was all very fuzzy. At the moment, he was sitting in a rather shadowy room with no windows, and there was a woman speaking to him as she played on some sort of stringed instrument. A woman dressed in emerald-green…who seemed vaguely familiar, in fact…and there was a very odd smell in the air that tickled his nose uncomfortably. It seemed to be coming from the crackling fire in the hearth.
“Er…” Bilbo coughed. “I realize this will seem like a strange question, madam, but…who are you?”
The woman gave a musical, trilling laugh. “Why, Mr. Baggins, surely you cannot have forgotten me?”
“Er…well…” Bilbo felt very embarrassed indeed, and a trifle nervous, as well. For the life of him, he couldn’t remember how he’d gotten here.
“But of course,” said the Lady, “you are still suffering from the drrrrreadful enchantment that was cast upon you. It has affected your memory. That is why you must listen very carefully and try to remember everything. Tell me, where do you come from?”
“Ah.” Bilbo frowned. He really ought to remember this. “Well…it’s green, that much I remember.”
“Grrrreen.” The woman smiled as she strummed her lute…if it was a lute. “Such a lovely color. Are the walls painted green, then?”
“No…I meant the grass.”
“Grass?” His bizarre host laughed again. “Do tell me…what is grrrass?”
“Well…it’s green, and sort of…grassy.” Bilbo struggled to sort out his thoughts. That smell was muddling his head terribly. Describing grass couldn’t be that difficult, could it?
“And where is this…green place, exactly?” said the woman.
“It’s…in the middle of something.” Bilbo thumped his head with the heel of his hand a few times. It didn’t help. In an effort to find something, anything, that might jog his memory, he looked around the room. He saw a blindfolded man in scarlet, another man in a jester’s costume, a third who was barefoot and rather scruffy, a fourth who had the wings and talons of a bird, and last, a small boy who was looking very confused and a little sad.
Who in the world could all these people be? And, for that matter, who was Bilbo Baggins?
“While Bilbo attempts to gather his thoughts,” said the Lady, simpering, “let us move on to you, Eanrin.” She gestured to the man in scarlet. “Tell me of your home.”
Eanrin’s brow furrowed above his blindfold. “It’s…er…hold on a moment, let me think…”
“Take all the time you need, my handsome friend,” said the woman, smiling coyly.
“I have a feeling it may have been somewhere…above here.” Eanrin gestured vaguely upwards. “Are we underground? I seem to remember being taken underground.”
The woman in green giggled. “Undergrrrround? What a strange word. And how could there possibly be a country above us, up among the stones and mortar of the roof?”
This jibe stirred something in Bilbo’s memory, but he could not quite get hold of it. Something he had read somewhere, perhaps…or a story that someone had told him…someone with feet like a frog’s? Surely that was impossible.
“It had a name, I know that,” Eanrin insisted. “Rood…Rud…Rid…”
“Rrrrridiculous, perhaps.” The woman’s laughter took on a hard, mocking edge.
“A woman!” Eanrin cried out. “I remember a woman! Lady….Sparkle-something.”
The woman gave an almost-uncouth guffaw. “A suitable name for a child’s imaginary playmate, perhaps; but you are far too old for such silliness, sir.” Before Eanrin could protest, she turned her attention to the man in the jester’s costume. “And you, Leonard, where do you hail from?”
“Er…south, I think?” Leonard winced in embarrassment. “Sorry, my brain’s a bit fuzzy for some reason…I don’t suppose we could open a window? Oh, wait, there aren’t any windows…”
“Moving swiftly on,” said the woman, “Artham, would you like to talk about your home?”
“It’s…shiny, I think,” said the winged man, blinking rapidly as he tried to marshal his thoughts. “Though not as shiny as it used to be—”
“How unfortunate. Armulyn?” The woman nodded to the barefoot man.
He merely smiled. “Whatever enchantment you’ve tried to put on us, it will fail. I don’t need to play your games. I know I have a home; that’s enough for me.”
Anger flickered briefly in the woman’s eyes, but her sunny smile never wavered. She looked at the youngest of the four. “And you, Curdie?”
“My home's…in the mountains,” said Curdie, breathlessly, as if it took a tremendous effort to get the words out.
The woman continued to play her hypnotic melody as the air seemed to grow even thicker with that strange smell. Bilbo wanted to intervene, to help the others somehow, but his limbs felt like lead.
“Mountains,” the woman echoed. “Tell me…what are mountains?”
“They’re big,” said Curdie.
“Yes, but what are they, sweet child?”
The woman laughed again. “Is that all?”
“Very, very big rocks. Bigger than a house. Bigger than a whole heap of houses.”
The woman clicked her tongue and shook her head. “Now, now, Curdie, don’t tell stories. There are no rocks that big. There are no such things as mountains. And there are definitely no such things as goblins.”
Curdie frowned. “I didn't say anything about goblins.”
“Of course you did.” The woman strummed a trifle faster, as if she were trying to hurry things along. “And now that we've got all that out of the way, why don't you all go to bed? To bed…to sleep…deep sleep…soft pillows…sleep without foolish dreams…“
Bilbo wondered how he had failed to notice the woman's crown before. It held a single orange jewel…though something appeared to be wrong with the stone. It was cracked, and marred by shifting swirls of darkness, like ink poured into a clear pond.
The others were all nodding off. Bilbo had just enough determination left to pretend to do the same.
“And now,” said the woman, “the real work begins.” Her voice was distorted by an unsettling hiss. “I will drrrrrain your talents from you–your pleasant voices, your quick wits, your flowery words–and leave you silent, lifeless husks.” Her laugh was a jarring cackle now. “All your powers and skills will be mine. Your silver tongues will be absorbed into the Silmaril I obtained a year ago…and if that proves successful, I will acquire more of these wonderful gems. I already have the Silmaril which was to be awarded to one of you today. It will be a simple matter for me to cross the worlds and acquire those of the previous winners.”
Bilbo suddenly remembered what the frog-footed man had told him about this woman…and about how she had been defeated. He cut his eyes toward the crackling fire…
No, he decided. That would be far too painful. Better to try something less dramatic. Fortunately, more memories were coming back to him now…including the award ceremony he had memorized in case he happened to misplace his notes. He coughed emphatically and began to recite.
“In fifth place,” said Bilbo, “with five votes we have…Leonard Lightning-Tongue!”
“Oh,” said Leonard, his eyes wide. “Oh…I’m starting to remember now.” He looked a bit disappointed at having received the least votes, but this was outweighed by his happiness at remembering who he was.
“Excuse me, hobbit,” said the woman in green, baring her teeth, “but I think you’ll find that I am in control here.”
Bilbo went on defiantly. “In fourth place, with nineteen votes…Artham Wingfeather!”
Artham unfurled his wings triumphantly. “I’m remembering too!”
“No, you are not!” shrieked the Lady, throwing her instrument to the ground. It shattered into a shapeless lump of strings and splinters. “There is nothing to remember! There is no Shining Isle of Anniera, there is no—”
“Third!” Bilbo interrupted loudly. “Armulyn the Bard, with twenty-three votes!”
“Stop that!” Scales began sprouting on the Lady’s face, and her whole body began to undulate in a serpentine manner.
Armulyn grinned at her. “I told you it wouldn’t work,” he said softly.
Bilbo soldiered on. “Second, Curdie, with forty-one votes!”
Curdie skipped happily despite the fact that he’d fallen just short of winning. He began to compose a poem on the spot, which said various uncomplimentary yet justified things about strange women in green who kidnapped children and tried to steal their tongues.
“And finally,” said Bilbo, as the Lady of the Green Kirtle continued to writhe in fury, “the winner…EANRIN!”
Everyone cheered, except the Lady, who was incandescent with rage, and Eanrin, who changed back and forth from a human to a cat six times in the space of fifteen seconds from sheer joy and bewilderment. “Hurrah!” he cried, once he'd found his voice again. He capered around the room, still shapeshifting at random. He paused briefly to direct a censorious frown at the Lady. “It’s Lady Gleamdren, by the way, and while I have not had the dubious pleasure of seeing your face, I’m quite certain she is far, far prettier than you.”
“At the moment, Eanrin, that's not a very high bar to clear.” Leonard curled his lip in disgust at the part-human, part-snake creature which the Lady had become. “Eugh.”
The Lady gave an earsplitting hiss…but before she could complete her transformation, she was distracted by a loud explosion on her forehead. The Silmaril in her crown, overtaxed by the rebellion of the five nominees, burst into fragments. Its orange light flickered and died, overwhelmed by darkness.
“No!” Now fully human (or whatever her true species was) again, the Lady fell to her knees and began frantically shoving the pieces of her Silmaril back together again. “No! My prrrreciousssss!” A forked tongue flicked out of her mouth as she spoke the last word.
Bilbo noticed something glittering in the remains of her broken lute. He stepped over and dug through the splinters until he found a ribbon, and pulled out the stolen Silmaril for this year’s ceremony. Smiling in triumph, he went to Eanrin (he had to chase the ecstatic bard/cat around for a bit until he finally caught up with him) and slipped the Silmaril around his neck. Eanrin finally came to a standstill, grinning from ear to ear with pride.
While Artham watched the Lady sternly in case she decided to try turning into a snake again, Leonard got to work beating out the Lady's magical fire with a rug. “Well,” he said, coughing on the ashes, “thank goodness that's over.”
“Yes,” said Bilbo, “but now we've got to figure out how we're going to get back to our own worlds.” He sighed. “This has been, without a doubt, the most disastrous ceremony for Most Silver Tongue in the history of the Awards.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say so.” Eanrin stroked the ribbon of his Silmaril and smiled.
Mr. Baggins and the others were eventually retrieved from the Lady's realm by an elite interdimensional strike force led by King Tirian of Narnia and King Aragorn II Elessar of Gondor, equipped with a Time Turner borrowed from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in 1997 and magic rings which agents of the Silmaril Awards recovered from the wreckage of a train crash in 1949. The temporal paradox in the Narnian timeline caused by Tirian's presence in his own ancestor's past was resolved with the use of waters from the River Lethe, which erased any memory of the incident from the minds of all parties involved…except Bilbo, who knows how to keep secrets, and Eanrin, who like all Silmaril winners was sworn not to tell anyone about his adventures by means of a very stern pinky promise.
Despite the destruction of her Silmaril, the Lady of the Green Kirtle will not be eligible to receive the Most Silver Tongue award again in the future. While she is still eligible to receive awards in other categories, she is banned from all future Silmaril Award ceremonies for the safety of the other nominees…though we can make no guarantee that she won't somehow show up anyway.
To recap, the vote tally was as follows:
Eanrin from The Tales of Goldstone Wood – 52 votes
Curdie from The Princess and the Goblin – 41 votes
Armulyn the Bard from The Wingfeather Saga – 23 votes
Artham Wingfeather from The Wingfeather Saga – 19 votes
Leonard Lightning-Tongue from The Tales of Goldstone Wood – 5 votes
Don't forget to visit the official Silmaril Awards website to keep up with the rest of the award ceremonies; many of which were not nearly as disastrous as this one. If you're a fan of The Tales of Goldstone Wood, be sure to check out the new fansite Knights of Farthestshore, where you can interact with fellow lovers of the books. Here's the official description:
We, seven fans of the Tales of Goldstone Wood series, created this site to fangirl about analyze characters, explore the world and prose of Goldstone, and invite others to come and feel at home here. For a long time, these books have gone without being well-known, and we’re hoping to change that. So while you’re here, explore the library, read some posts, delight in quotes from these wonderful books, and sign your name in our guestbook.We and others will want to know you’ve visited so that we can say hi… and know that, perhaps, you’re another kindred spirit. We hope you enjoy your stay at our Haven for fans of Goldstone Wood!
And finally, there are only a few days left to enter the Silmaril Awards giveaway! Sign up using the widget below.