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5December Challenge Bulletin

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  • Allie Meril
    Dec 2, 2004
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      A new month and the holidays are coming. Time to celebrate with a
      new story? Perhaps inspired by the customs of Middle Earth or the
      cultures Tolkien used for inspiration.

      For ancient Germanic and Celtic people, the impulse to celebrate
      solstice was the same as for their neighbors to the south -- a
      celebration of the cycle of nature and a reaffirmation of the
      continuation of life. But the style and substance of their
      celebrations took very different shape.

      Imagine living in, say, Scandinavia a thousand years ago. At
      solstice, the sun rises around 9 a.m. It sets about 3 p.m. A mere
      six hours of daylight. Even if you sleep for eight hours, you
      spend much more of your waking time in darkness than in light. What
      a relief when the days begin to lengthen again! Many of the ancient
      traditions surrounding Yuletide are concerned with coping with the
      darkness and the evils it was thought to harbor, and helping the
      return of light and warmth.

      All December babies, please put up your birthday
      drabble requests at the HASA Birthday Cards
      Forum! There are a few fang-filled prompts up
      already, so get over there and ask for the
      drabble you've always wanted.

      **The Newbies - "Nine for mortal men doomed to die"**
      November has been a month brim-full for us at
      Challenges, and the little dears have been
      flooding in. There are nine new Challenges up, so
      check them out and get yourself bitten today!

      Aragorn Poetry Writing Challenge (closes 2/13/05)

      A VERY Interesting Question...(closes 5/5/05)

      The Forgotton Ones (closes 5/7/05)

      Pub Crawl(closes 5/9/05)

      Working Life in Middle-Earth(closes 5/15/05)

      Sophisticated Cultures and Primitive Peoples (closes 11/3/05)

      The November Surprise!(closes 11/5/05)

      Where the Stars are Strange (closes 11/30/05)

      Confessions to the Sleepless Night(closes 11/30/05)

      **The Oldies**

      Wishing you a snaggly-toothed month! These are ending soon,so grab
      them now and you'll have no regrets later:

      Kids do the darndest things...

      Even Dunedain kings and elven princesses were children once upon a
      time... How were our favorite characters like as children? Were
      Elrond and Celebrian's twins really mischevious pranksters (as fanon
      often portrays them) and drove Glorfindel insane? Did Eowyn play
      under Theoden's council table with toy soldiers and riders? Did
      Legolas ever announce that he wanted nothing for mettare but a pet

      How about the first age? Was Galadriel a child terror in Tirion? Did
      Luthien go through the terrible teens, and drive her divine mother
      crazy? How about Feanor and Nerdanel: how was life having a brood of
      seven sons? How were the cousins of the royal Noldorin family
      (Feanor's, Fingolfin's, and Finarfin's children) treated?

      Any kid, any time, any frazzled parent/older sibling/caretaker
      chasing after them/finding them/tearing their hair out over their
      exploits. The kid should be young enough to NOT get into much
      trouble about it: between birth and early teens (or the human



      We've seen a lot of gloomy instrospective work on War, especially
      during the WWI poet's challenge (and why did my mind only
      think "Kipling! "Orcs, orcs, orcs, orcs, tunnelling up and down
      again. Orcs, orcs, orcs, orcs, as through the mountains we go" and
      that's the wrong war all together!) , but not every man found being
      a soldier onerous. There has always been a rah, rah cheerleading or
      humorous self-deprecating attitude in marching and drinking songs
      that celebrate war and the profession of soldiering.

      I happened to be at a science fiction convention this past weekend
      and we revisited a group of songs written for one of the more
      militaritistic of SF cultures. Some of them just cried out to be be
      re-filked into Middle Earth.

      For example, there's the original traditional Scottosh song "Drink
      to the Health of the Weavers"

      If it wasna for the weavers what would ye do?
      You wouldna hae a claith that was made o' woo'
      You wouldna hae a coat o' the black or the blue
      If it wasna for the wark o' the weavers

      Which was filked into a Dorsai song by Marty Burke, "Drink to the
      Health of the Dorsai"

      If it wasn't for the Dorsai, what would you do?
      Ye wouldna' have your freedom to take a drink or two.
      Ye wouldna' have the choice of the Devil or the Blue,
      If it wasna' for the work of the Dorsai!

      I can just see the Rangers sitting around a campfire before the next
      skirmish with the orcs singing: "Drink to the Health of the

      We're all here together to drink and to fight,
      With a star on our chests and our weapons in plain sight.
      There's not an orc among 'em who could back us down tonight,
      As we drink to the health of the Rangers!

      If it wasn't for the Rangers what would you do
      You wouldn't have the freedom to take a drink or two
      You wouldn't have a choice of the Dark or the Light
      If it wasn't for the work of the Rangers!

      There's archers and there's pikemen and there's scouts who've seen
      it all
      There's guards and charging horsemen, and great-sword fighters tall
      We're drinking tonight before an orcish brawl.
      And we'll drink to the health of the Rangers!

      You think you're all secure and your walls will save your lives.
      An orcish horde is something that will catch you in your lies.
      We're strong and gifted warriors and we're proud to bear the signs
      That separate mere men from the Rangers!

      This was only lightly filked from the Dorsai version. Thanks, Marty!

      Or take "Sound the Pibroch":

      Sound the pibroch loud and high
      From John O'Groats to the Isle of Skye!
      Let all the Clans their slogan cry
      And rise tae follow Charlie!
      I can just see Boromir's recruiters going about the land and singing:
      No more we'll see such deeds again,
      But men like you can lend your hand.
      Pick up that weapon and learn again
      And strike for Gondor's glory.
      It could even be someting as extremely
      silly as "How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm
      after they've seen MT?"

      The challenge is to write, filk or pay homage to a song that
      celebrates war or warriors.

      Any format, any length as long it includes, or
      is, a song.




      Tolkien took on the persona of a scholar unearthing and translating
      a set of texts: the Quenta Silmarillion and The Red Book. This
      Challenge is based on extending this conceit in order to generate
      a "historical AU".

      As anyone knows, historical texts can be very slippery. There are
      several "Gospels" that didn't for some reason make the cut for the
      Bible; there are the Dead Sea Scrolls that testify to the life and
      beliefs of a sect of Judaism beyond mainstream Judaism; there are
      fragments of official documents about the life of Pontius Pilate;
      there are tax records that tell us something about what the nobility
      of mediaeval England actually could demand of the peasantry.
      There are personal diaries and official chronologies, suppressed
      works (The Mirror of Simple Souls) and sometimes copyists of Bibles
      and other texts would include hilarious marginal (and totally
      personal) notes. And to my everlasting frustration, most of
      Aristotle's major public works were lost.

      So what's to say there aren't dozens of these sorts of 'records'-
      records internal to Middle-earth's history-floating about that
      Tolkien the textual archaeologist didn't have (but might have seen
      references to-like a very famous but unfortunately lost work of
      Maglor, or records of Elessar's reign as recorded by the Haradrim),
      or else didn't include? If only we had access to them, what sorts of
      different takes on the stories of "The Lord of the Rings" or "The
      Tale of the Children of Húrin" (for example) might we have?

      That's the basic idea. Here's the 'how to' part:

      There are two groups:
      Group One would be writing up these pseudo historical documents and
      posting them to HA Writers as a sort of central storage location:
      our very own compiled "Red Book" as it were, which has been
      entitled "The Lost Books." Group One writers could write anything
      that the authors felt could realistically challenge the "dominant"
      canonical text. This is why I made a cattle call onlist to
      historians, classicists, museum workers, and "random folks who know
      something of information transmission over the centuries" who
      would have some idea of what sorts of things *tend* to be preserved,
      and how to read them.

      That way, they can realistically reverse engineer us some documents.
      People in this group could create complete documents or ones that
      are fragments, to imitate damage by time. If someone were really
      ambitious, s/he could even have someone draw a picture (maybe
      a 'photograph' of the fragmentary remains of Arwen's greatest
      tapestry, for example; see "Prospective Challenges" forum for
      other examples). I would like to try and limit this group, however,
      because we don't need thousands of documents-I somehow doubt the
      members of group two want to play archaeologist *that* badly. :-)

      Group Two, then, would take up these jigsaw puzzle pieces provided
      by Group One (as many as they liked, though perhaps some lower
      limit could be set, e.g., at least two) and organize them into some
      sort of coherent picture.

      They would then compare what they have with the original works
      Tolkien provided us, and then use those fake documents to write
      a 'historically based' AU to the original stories (complete with
      documentation). One could also conceivably take on a scholar persona
      and write about why, for example, one ought to read X into the Red
      Book, due to A, B, C bits of evidence, though I don't know how many
      people would want to do this.

      I was also thinking that if anyone with HoME volumes thought some of
      Tolkien's drafts (or rather, portions thereof) might be great to use
      in this, that we could carefully quote and cite the relevent
      portions, thus adding another layer of complexity to this whole

      The upshot of this is that we would have a set of AUs that took
      advantage of the "found this text and translated it" conceit that
      Tolkien employed, and which would be very specific to HASA.


      Film Trilogy
      Now open to fics based on any of the three films, or in light of any
      combination of the three films! If you entered the original
      Movie Challenge, please enter your story into this one as well. When
      this Challenge is made public, the old Movie Challenge will be taken
      down, so that we have everything in one big collection. Thanks!

      The movie has of course made changes to the books. Some changes we
      accept, others we feel fall short of expectations, and some outright
      violate our expectations in a way we feel is barely acceptable, if
      that. Pick a scene from any of the three movies that particularly
      bothers you, either due to continuity, or due to issues of
      characterization. Then, while remaining within the movieverse,
      attempt to explain or fill the gap in a way that would enhance the
      movie for you as a lover of the books.

      If this is a persistent characterization problem, try to pick the
      moment that you feel is defining of the wrongness of the
      characterization and work with it.


      Quickies,Quarter 4

      Quickie rules:
      The story should be at least one type-written page long, but not
      more than 3 type-written pages. Definition of page - 1" margin all
      the way around, Times 12 pt. font., standard size paper.

      There should be one viewpoint or one character as the main focus

      It should be one continuous scene

      Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to pick one of
      the below prompts, and write a story within the limits here

      --Write the tale of Saruman's meeting with Denethor after Saruman
      had discovered Isildur's scroll in Minas Tirith's library. Remember:
      this would've been set well before the Ring War (see
      "The Council of Elrond", FoTR).

      --Celebrimbor's rejection of Curufin whenthe latter is expelled from

      --The scene in the command tent of on the eve of the final battle of
      the Last Alliance.

      --Anborn asks Legolas about the black squirrels in Mirkwood

      --Gimli presenting Dwalin with what's left of the book from the
      Chamber of Mazarbul in memory of Balin.

      --Elrond learns of Arwen's choice.

      --Boromir receives the Horn of Gondor from his father, or for that
      matter, Denethor receives it from Ecthelion

      --The meeting of Turgon and Húrin in the middle of the Fifth Battle
      --Ghan-buri-ghan's decision to make himself known to the Rohirrim:
      how did it come about?

      --Merry returning to Crickhollow and telling Fatty what has happened
      to the other three hobbits, before the other three arrive

      --Gandalf arriving in Lothlorien after his battle with the Balrog --
      What would a wood elf's reaction be to seeing Gandalf wandering

      --The great pearl Nimphelos--show the thoughts of the elven pearl
      fisher who discovered it, or the reactions of Cirdan, Thingol, or the
      dwarves when they first are presented with it.

      --Beren and Celeborn take time out of the festivities to talk about
      groom-gifts upon the occasion of Dior's marriage to Nimloth.

      --Any encounter between one of the Dunlendings after Helm's Deep
      with one of his Rohirric 'captors'


      This Nugzul made it out of the Hutch:
      Sweet Child of Mine

      These Nugzul just need one more story to become a
      full-blown challenge. So make a nugzul happy and
      help it escape the hutch.

      The Key

      When Out the Hellish Legion Sallied

      "There are some nugzul getting lonely in the hutch; adopt one today!"

      Remember that the password for posting for HAwriters has changed.

      Happy Holidays!
      HASA Challenges