If you remember from last time, Holly Hornblower just got done having me deliver rotten pies to her customers. Now she wants me to get them back.
Having said that…
“Wait a second, pastry-pusher”, I say waving my arms, “Why would I want to do that? Why would you want me to do that?”
“Because the pies are bad!”, she scolds me.
“Yeah, I got that. But why do you want them? How about I just tell people to throw them away? “
“You’ll need to find all of the pies I made yesterday!”, she says in a frantic tone. “You have to recover them all!”
“What are you going to do with rotten pies? I mean-“, I stop, mid sentence, realizing that the second crazy thing she said to me was more important than the first crazy thing. “What do you mean ‘all the pies’? I only delivered two.”
“Oh I made more than that!”
“So, laying aside the question of how they got anywhere when you’re obviously glued to this table… Just how many pies are we talking about here?” I am unable to hide the fear in my voice as I ask this question.
“And when you recover the pies, make sure no hungry Hobbits get a whiff of them! I don’t have time to-“
“Right. Fine. Recover the pies. I’m going. This is my own fault for expecting you to make sense. I’m sorry.”
But fine, I’ll just look it up on the wiki. Stupid Hobbit. Let’s see, according to the wiki there are OH MY GOSH.
Twelve pies. Pretty much one from every town in the Shire.
The mail delivery was a single trip through all of these towns, but since I can only carry one pie / tray of of compost at a time, this actually calls for a radial path. I need to stop back in Hobbiton between each and every town on the route. I could rent a horse to speed the journey from Hobbiton to the outlying towns, but that costs a silver each time and a pie delivery only pays 90 coppers. So I’d lose 10 coppers a trip if I did that.
Well, my self-respect isn’t going to just destroy itself. Let’s get this show on the road.
As a way of passing the time while I do this, let me sum up what we’re doing here. I’m running to the far corners of the Shire, walking up to people sitting next to un-eaten pies, and explaining that the pie is bad. Rotten. Unfit to eat. Then I take the pie. I have to say, the now-pie-less Hobbits are usually pretty good sports about this.
I cannot put the pie in my backpack with the other things I own. Other things like – for example – the pies I own and keep for my own consumption. Instead I must carry the pie in front of me, parading it through the woods and swamps and spider-nests of the Shire. I must take care not to have the pie knocked out of my hands by wild beasts or get it wet going through the river. I must bring it back to Holly in pristine condition and before it gets cold, so that she can take the perfectly inedible, unbroken, piping-hot pie, and toss it in the rubbish.
Oh! And on my little adventure through ruin and madness, I can’t get close to any hungry Hobbits. If I do, they will smell the rancid pie and be overcome with a desire for a rotten pie of their very own. They will then walk away from their house, (which has food in it) walk past the tavern, (which serves all manner of food including pies) trudge all the way across the Shire past several other food-serving taverns, and arrive in Hobbiton to demand that Holly Hornblower make them a pie. And I can’t let this happen because Holly is ‘too busy’ to… what? Tell them to take a number? Say no?
Am I really doing this because Holly can’t say no to people? Because she doesn’t seem to have that problem with me.
Just think about the money. The money. This will all be worth it in the end. Think about the money.
Excuse me fine sir, but that pie you have gotten?
I’m afraid you can’t have it, because it’s gone rotten.
I’m here to reclaim this pie you have bought.
I must take it away now, and leave you with naught.
Then I’ll drag it through bear dens and swamps full of midges.
Then slip by the Hobbits who are camping the bridges.
Then take it through camps that are brimming with robbers.
(I’ll run through there quick so as not to get clobbered.)
Then take it through woodlands without going astray.
And then give it to Holly. Who will throw it away.
About a thousand years later I come wobbling into town, carrying the very last of the very bad pies. I am not sure how it is that I managed to arrive in each town exactly five minutes before the pie got cold. I guess I’m just “lucky”.
Holly is grateful. I am also grateful. She’s happy that her business is no longer ruined, and I’m happy that I will never, ever see another one of her pies. So everyone is happy.
“Oh thank you Lulzy! You are a true friend.”
“I’m not really feeling the love right now. Let’s keep this professional.”
“Let me give you something extra for your hard work.”
“Something extra? I think I’m starting to feel the love now.”
“Here, have some of my pies.”
Suddenly I draw my sword, run her through, and run screaming into the hills while the pie-gobbling dunces of the town look on in horror. Her house is knocked down and burned to the ground. The spot where the house stood remains barren forever after. No crop will grow there and none will dare build on that cursed spot, which is known to later generations as “Hornblower’s Folly”.
Sorry. That didn’t happen. I just wanted to pretend this story had a happy ending.
“You’re giving me pies?”, I ask her.
“Yes! Five of them! Enjoy.”, she grins at me.
“Five pies. Like, the pies you didn’t have time to make and so I had to dodge hungry Hobbits from here to Mordor? And then you had to bake more because the first batch was bad? And now that I’m all done you suddenly have five pies to give away?”
She presses them into my hand. I put them into my pocket without further protest.
“Oh! I nearly forgot. I wanted you to have this.”, she hands me a slip of paper. At the top it claims to be her super-secret recipe for her super-famous pies. It is a recipe so simple that writing it down is an insult to the reader.
Well, actually, I guess the recipe is:
1. Put pie filling in pie crust.
2. Cook it.
3. Hire someone to carry the pie all over creation while being mauled by wild animals. Suffering is the secret ingredient!
It’s getting to be late in the day. I have stopped by the Green Dragon, a tavern of some reputation in the Shire. I have decided to spend a little of my hard-won earnings on a sip of ale. Just like the last tavern I visited, this one is having some sort of brewing problems that can only be rectified by a stranger.
The barkeep tries warming up to the topic. He drops some hints about the Four-Farthing Brewing Moot. Then he mentions his special blend, which he thinks can win. Then he mentions how he doesn’t have any on hand. Then a supply cart creeps into the conversation and he starts talking about dwarves.
I’ve been nodding my head this whole time but he’s just not getting to the point. Finally I interject, “What is it you need, where do I find it, and how much will you pay?”
Slightly put out, he mumbles something about a barrel that needs to be recovered and points me in the direction of the town of Overhill. A bargain is struck, and I take a hike.
It’s a straightforward job: Get the barrel. Bring it back. It’s a delivery that does not involve pies in any way. It’s a wonder why the barkeep didn’t just do the job himself.
Oh. That’s why.
Thinkaboutthemoney. Thinkaboutthemoney. Thinkaboutthemoney.
The barrel seems to have been misplaced in the middle of spider central. This spider nest is larger than the town of Hobbiton. And as I get near the barrel they gather round and start a little tiff.
What am I doing wrong here? Does my hat have a sign on top that says, “Ask me to solve all your spider-related problems!”
After several minutes of stabbing and yelling and cursing and stomping, I finally give the spiders the shove.
Making sure not to crush my five blueberry pies or spill my 100 buckets of water, I slip the recovered barrel into my pocket and return to the Green Dragon.
The sun is setting by the time I get back. The barkeep thanks me for my efforts and pays me my coin. He also gives me a mug on the house. Which I drink. And then just for good measure, I have a couple more. I find this really takes the edge off, so I round the party off with two more mugs and stumble back outside.
I’m feebling prety goood now. I might shoud probly find place to slepe thish off but i’m dont wanna. Hm. Im gong to go find moar quest. IM GOING TOO BE THE RISHEST HOBIT EVER!
Whee. Nice frogggy.
Next time: Who ya gonna call?
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