Deep in the bowels of Morbor, the wicked sorcerer Mouron peers at a small black-and-white television set hooked up with frayed and smoldering cables to an ancient video-recording device, rewinding the squeaking bobbins and reviewing a tape. “It is a strange fate that we suffer so much fear over so small a thing,” he mutters, wringing his hands. “Such a little Leo thing.”
A large defender, great as an orc and carrying an enormous silver goblet, stumbles past. He pauses to nudge the cave troll standing at the doorway. “What’s he on about, then, Cap’n?” asks the orc. “More re-runs of last year’s … you know what?”
The cave troll shakes his head sadly. “That wound will never fully heal. He will carry it the rest of his life.”
The wicked Mouron spins in his three-legged stool. “What do you want?” He peers at the orc. “And a little more caution from you. That is a Supercopa; it is no trinket you carry.”
Startled, the orc drops the goblet. “I carry nothing,” he stammers. “ … Oops.”
As the orc bends to gather the pieces of the broken goblet, the cave troll nods towards the television set. “Hobbits really are amazing creatures,” he ventures. “You can learn all about their ways in a month, and yet season after season they still surprise you.”
The wicked one rises, trembling in a barely-controlled fury. “You do not seriously think that a hobbit can contend with the will of Mouron!” He leans toward the cave troll, who recedes. “There are none that can!”
The cave troll bows low. “I have dwelt in the White City since long ago.” He rises, his chest swelling with pride. “I swear to you I will not let it fall, nor our people fail.”
The orc stands up, his arms full of shattered silver. The wicked Mouron catches his reflection in a shard. He reaches out and strokes it, gently. “My own, my love … my preciousss …”
“Anyway,” continues the cave troll. “You need people of intelligence on this sort of … match … league … thing …”
“Well, that leaves you out,” the wicked Mouron snaps at the clumsy orc. “Orcs!” he calls. “Gather hither.”
“I know my duty, míster,” the clumsy orc pleads. “I am to mark the maravilla.”
The wicked Mouron raises an eyebrow. “Which maravilla?”
“Um, the Guaje.”
“Buzz.” The wicked Mouron snaps.
“Then, the Niño?”
“Buzz! Buzz!” The cave troll rolls his eyes upwards.
“Well, which is it?” the clumsy orc cries. “The niño maravilla or the guaje villa or the villa maravilla niño?”
The wicked Mouron grabs the clumsy orc by the collar. “Listen to me,” he hisses. “You find a maravilla, and you mark him todo el rato. Understood? Maravilla, todo el rato, Maravilla, todo el rato …”
The clumsy orc repeats dumbly: “Maravilla rato maravilla rato … villa rato villa rato …”
More orcs lumber past. Ash Coentraorc. Ash Cristanorc. Ash Marcelorc. Ash Pepe. The wicked Mouron places his hand on each bowed head, then turns back to the cave troll and the clumsy orc. “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”
The cave troll places a gloved hand on his badge. “Against the power of Morbor there will be no victory, my liege.”
The wicked Mouron raises a fist to the heavens. “I will be dead before I see another Copa in the hands of one of those blue and red … elves! Never trust an elf!” He whirls back to the television set.
The clumsy orc looks at the cave troll. “I’m hungry,” he says. “What about elevenses? Lunch?” The cave troll shakes his head, frowning. “Afternoon tea?”
“The hour is later than you think,” the cave troll says gravely. “We must to the bridge of Khedira-Doom.” He walks away, leaving the orc in the tunnel.
“Dinner?” the orc calls weakly. “Supper?”
End of Book I