The day has come. I swallow, nerves and excitement warring in my stomach. The contestants are hanging out behind the curtains as I wait for the proper signal to send Pippin out.
I glance back at the unusual group. Pippin is making rounds, introducing himself to each of the nominees and chatting with them a bit. I see him talking with Crispin, who Lionheart seems really fascinated by.
Twinkle looks disgusted at the two men’s fascination, and stands in a huff, arms crossed. Sage attempts to entertain Twinkle, rolling his coin across his knuckles, apparently not realizing that Twinkle is a grown wizard who is simply be disagreeable.
Nidawi’s lioness (which I told her not to bring but she did anyway) gives a slight growl in my direction, and I take a step back.
This night is a disaster waiting to happen.
Pippin finishes his lively chat with the group and turns to me. “That Crispin fellow is quite the interesting chap! Did you see what he can do?”
I nod. “I’ve seen. But you should get ready. It’s nearly time.”
“Splendid! This is going to be a wonderful ceremony!”
I stare at him, sensing hidden meaning behind his words. But I brush it off with a helpless sigh. “Let’s get this over with.”
The contestants head out the back way, to their assigned seats, just as Pippin prepares to go out on stage.
I rub my temple. Something bad is going to happen, I just know it.
I hear Pippin’s voice echo and bounce around the enormous room. “Welcome, gentlemen and gentleladies, to the most spectacular ceremony you will ever see!”
The crowd claps wildly. They are in for an interesting night.
“Before I announce the winner, of the Most Mischievous Imp award, let’s give an explosive round of applause for each of our dazzling canidates!”
Wait a minute. I whip my head out from behind the curtain and immediately my attention darts to the back of the room where a thousand glimmering fireworks are about to be set off.
Are you kidding me?
I dash from behind the stage, arms waving like mad. “Stop!” I screech, but it’s too late.
The fireworks soar through the air with an ear-piercing shriek and the audience screams and ducks for cover.
I glance over at Pippin, who has the most delighted smile on his face. The fireworks fly about the room, surprisingly never hitting anyone. He’s planned this, I realize.
I should have known.
“You all may be seated,” Pippin shouts, “I assure you, as long as you remain seated, no harm will come to you!” I hear him mutter, “I think, anyhow.”
The audience seems calmed by this affirmation and settles down, just as the fireworks die off.
“And with that fantastic display, let’s put our hands together for our first contestant, the lovely Nidawi, the Everblooming!”
Nidawi stands, and waves majestically, her lioness giving an astoundingly loud roar. I fear the audience will go into a tizzy again, but they only seem to think it part of the act.
“Very lovely. And now, a truly fantastic wizard, How…er, I mean, Twinkle!”
Twinkle bounces from his seat and after glaring at Pippin for nearly ruining his disguise, he gives an adorable bow and plops back down in his chair.
Pippin grins nervously, but keeps going. “Next we have Sir Lionheart, perhaps better known as Leonard the Lightning Tongue, a most jovial jester, the best bard of all!”
Uproarious applause sounds as Lionheart stands up on his chair and does an impressive bow.
I look toward the indignant voice. It seems to come from the back of the crowd.
“I take offense to that! How could you say something so bold yet untrue?”
I roll my eyes as Eanrin stands from his seat, a fist raised. “I’ve worked hard for my title, and you think you can simply toss the phrase ‘best bard of all’ to an amateur fool? I won’t have it!”
“Eanrin, I apologize,” Pippin says, grinning. “I had no idea you felt so strongly about the subject. Perhaps he is only second best then?”
Eanrin crosses his arms and falls back into his seat. “Say what you will, however I can’t stand by calling a simple fool ‘the best’.”
“Oh pleathe,” Twinkle pipes in. “Can’t we jutht get on with thith? We could be here all day if Eanrin had hith way!”
“A splendid idea, H-…Twinkle!” Pippin nods and gestures toward the seat beside Lionheart.
“And in our next seat, we have the spectular Sage! Watch your pockets, folks!”
Sage stands, grinning and gives a quick bow before returning to his seat. As the audience claps, a bit more uneasily than before, I glance at the empty chair where Crispin should be, but is not.
What’s going on now?
“Pippin!” I whisper-shout, trying to catch his eye. But he goes on without so much as a glance in my direction.
“Unfortunately, Crispin cannot be with us at the moment, as he is attending to some very important time matters.” He gives a wide grin. “He may not be here, but rest assured, he is with us…in spirit.”
The audience gives a disappointed sigh, but claps anyway. I clench my fists.
What is going on?
“Now, with that out of the way, let’s announce our winner, shall we?” Pippin gestures for the crowd to cheer, and excited shouts fill the air.
“My award scroll, if you will, Madeline,” he announces, holding out his hand.
I stare in disbelief. “I gave the scroll to you,” I say.
Pippin’s face grows fearful. “Why, I don’t remember taking, not at all!” He checks his pockets, front, back, side, everywhere. Yet no scroll is found.
“I accuthe Thage of thtealing the thcroll!” Twinkle shouts, leaping from his seat. He dashes over to Sage, who quickly jumps out of his seat and bolts down the center aisle.
“Someone! Anyone! Stop this madness!” Pippin says, bouncing off the stage and pointing.
I squint my eyes, skeptical. I turn to the two boys running from the room. “Howl!” I shout. “Would you please stop Sage?”
“Who’s Howl?” Twinkle screams, snatching at Sage’s arm.
I face-palm. Yep. This is a disaster.
“Howl, quite flailing about and stop Sage this instant!” Sophie shouts. Her voice echoes, and the room goes silent.
Twinkle freezes, rolling his eyes so far they almost look like they’ll roll right from his head. He holds out a hand. “Thtop right now!” he yells. Sage pauses.
“All you had to do was ask,” Sage mutters. Twinkle makes grabby hands for the scroll, but Sage keeps it out of reach and stalks back up to the stage and hands the scroll to Pippin.
That was…too easy. I narrow my eyes.
This was a distraction.
Pippin wipes fake sweat from his brow. “Well, what an exciting chase, wouldn’t you say? Now, let’s announce the winner of this years Most Mischievous Imp award!”
The audience cheers, now eager and impatient to hear the winner.
Pippin unrolls the scroll with a grand sweep and flick of his wrist. And his eyes nearly bug out of his head. “And…and the…the winner is…”
I swing my attention to the rafters, where Crispin is swinging his feet, the glimmering Silmaril in hand.
“I have the gem, I won!” Crispin whoops and tosses the ribbon in the air, barely catching it before it falls.
The crowd turns toward Crispin in shock, gasping and shuffling in there seats.
“He thtole it!” Twinkle exclaims.
“Crispin!” Pippin shouts, waving madly. “Wait! Come down, there’s been a mistake!”
“I hardly think so!” Crispin leaps from the rafters. The crowd screams as Crispin falls, but a portal quickly opens beneath him and he disappears inside.
The room melts into an uproar. “This is ridiculous!” “We can’t have any sort of composure here, can we?” “This is crazier than last year’s ceremony!”
But I can only smile. Because I know what happened. So I decide to sit back and watch the chaos ensue.
“Gentlemen, ladies, please, calm yourselves! I assure, you everything is alright!” Pippin frantically gestures for the crowd to calm, but everyone has grown indignant.
Crispin appears from a portal, Silmaril gripped tight in hand. “Wow, I rather didn’t expect that to work! Yet here I am!”
Relief floods Pippin’s face. “Crispin, there’s been a mishap…”
“I know, I know, quite a funny one as well.” Crispin turns toward the audience. “So sorry for that little jumble, but it was all in good fun, yeah? Just a joke! I didn’t actually win. I just stole the Silmaril to mess with you all! Tell them, Pippin!”
The audience stares at Crispin. I cover my mouth with my hand, muffling a snort.
Pippin fingers his collar, swallowing. “Um…Crispin, you…you actually won.”
I’ve never seen wider eyes in my entire life than the ones on Crispin’s face as he takes in this sudden turn of events. “I…but…I thought…I didn’t…” His face turns a shade of red I have never seen before.
Pippin suddenly bursts out laughing. Soon, the whole audience is laughing too.
Crispin can only stand in bashful embarassment, a shy smile on his face.
“We had this whole grand scheme!” Pippin says between laughs, addressing the audience. “Sage and Twinkle created a distraction, while Crispin got a hold of the Silmaril and made off with it! We were going to play it for laughs.” He gives Crispin a soft punch to the arm. “And then you go and actually win the award. It’s quite a funny predicament, isn’t it?”
Crispin shrugs and smiles. “I suppose it is.”
“Now go on! Put your medal on! You deserve it!”
The crowd gives a standing ovation as Crispin slides the Silmaril over his head. He gives a deep bow. “Thank you all! You’re a right nice audience!”
I stand and clap, shooting a smile in Pippin’s direction.
Never a dull moment when you’re presenting an award for tricksters, that’s for sure.
Thank you all for nominating and voting in this years Silmaril Awards! We appreciate it so much, and we hope you stick around to see tomorrow’s winner over on Tracey’s blog!