The adventures of Ruff, the amazing sheep dog

Discussion in 'Stories & Tales' started by Lina, Jul 8, 2011.

  1. Lina Chief

    As told at the Green Dragon

    This is the stories of one of the true legends from Brockenborings, the fabulous sheep dog Ruff!

    There are many stories about Ruff, and they are all very popular with the children up north. This is because Ruff is likely the most amazing dog ever to have wandered the Greenfields. And here is the first of these stories, about how Ruff came to be in this world.

    First, though, there are a few things you should know about Brockenborings.

    As you likely know, there is much in the way of sheep up there, since many hobbits keep them as livestock. They wander freely around the Greenfields, enjoy the fair weather and eat the sweet grass (the sheep that is, not the hobbits). In return, the sheep offer soft, warm wool and juicy, tender pieces of lamb and mutton.

    However, as it always was, there is an air of danger around the Greenfields. All hobbit children are told to be careful there, because of roaming wild animals like bears and wolves. Why, from time to time, they say even a stray goblin or two find their way into the fields.

    So the locals keep sheep dogs. Strong and energetic they are, with coats coloured black, white and red... and they guard the sheep from danger. But they are also playful, and the local children love running around the fields with them. Merry chases fill the day, accompanied by a joyous chorus of laughter and barking.

    Story no 1 - How Ruff came to be in this world

    One time in years past, the two strongest sheep dogs in Brockenborings met, mated and had a litter of seven pups. Six of the pups resembled their parents, being healthy and fair, and they were lively and playful.

    The seventh pup, though, was weak and frail. When his brothers and sisters ate all the food and drank all the milk, he found himself pushed away. Alone and abandoned, he soon withered and fell ill. As animals do, he found himself a quiet corner to be alone, and lay down to die.

    As he lay there whimpering with his eyes closed, a little hobbit lass walked by. She noticed the sickly pup. Kneeling before him, she gently patted his head and gave him a hug. The pup, sensing care for the first time, opened his eyes. He let out a weak “Ruff” and licked the hobbit lass’ cheek.

    Well, I guess you know what happened next.

    Her heart melted, she brought the pup home, and she cared for him with milk and biscuits and warm blankets. She named the dog Ruff because of his funny bark. And as his health improved, the lass and the dog became best friends.

    The other dogs didn’t look kindly on Ruff, though. They thought him weak, and they all snarled after him. His brothers and sisters were the worst. Whenever Ruff tried to play in the fields, they pushed him around, bit his tail and scratched his coat. “Yer not fit ter be a sheep dog”, they growled. “These fields are ours. Now get off so us real dogs can have room ter play”.

    Ruff ran whimpering back to his owner. She comforted the pup, bandaged his wounds and hugged his pains away, but she sent him out into the fields again. “Yer have to be strong, Ruff”, she said. “Don’t let them mean dogs treat yer like yer don’t belong. Jest remember, while they seem fairer and stronger than you, them are spoiled and soft. And yer are much smarter than them, never doubt that”.

    So Ruff headed back to the fields and started playing again. His brothers and sisters soon noticed him. They ran over, barked and growled and tried to scare him off. Ruff eyed them as they approached, legs shivering… but he stood firm. As the angry dogs got nearer, he held his head high and let out a loud “RUFF!” that echoed over the fields.

    The other dogs startled and jumped near three feet into the air. Upon landing, they whined and looked around. Whatever could have made such a loud noise? Finally, the strongest of them collected himself and stepped forward. He eyed Ruff with scorn and laughed. “Ooh, the sickly feller wants to play, eh?”, he said. “Well, come then, ‘brother’. Fight me and show me yer worth”

    The two dogs faced each other as the sun beat down on them. “This will be no match at all”, the other dogs grinned as they passed around dog biscuits and sat down to watch the fight. Ruff weren’t even half the size of his brother. While his brother stood arrogant and strong, with a shiny, soft coat, Ruff looked frail in his scratched fur.

    The audience howled with glee as the strong brother feinted and tried to scare Ruff off. But Ruff kept calm, eyes fixed straight ahead.

    Annoyed, his brother lunged forward with a terrifying roar. Jaws wide open, he moved in for the kill. This was surely it! That bite would crush Ruff’s scrawny neck.

    At the last second, Ruff neatly sidestepped the attacking dog. A disappointed howl rose from his brother’s throat, one that soon gave way to a short yelp of fear, as he smashed headfirst into a small rock that had been hidden behind Ruff’s frame.

    The brother fell to the ground, crying and whimpering. The others couldn’t believe their eyes. Cheeks stuffed with half-eaten biscuits, they watched each other nervously. How could this have happened?

    Ruff stepped forward, watched them calmly. Once again the bark thundered over the fields, “RUFF!”

    The other dogs' courage vanished instantly, like drops of dew for the morning sun. They ran off yelping, and none of them ever bothered Ruff again.

    As time passed, Ruff grew up to be the most renowned sheep dog in all of Brockenborings. There is many a tale worthy of legend told about him. And he never left the side of his owner, at least not until…ah, well, that’s a tale to be told another day.
    Spriggy likes this.
  2. Osterby Recruit

    An epic tale Lina, I loved it.

    How I wish osterby could have an in game pet!
    (hmm...or perhaps I should offer a suggestion to the powers to be, for pets as a household decoration item? as an interior/exterior cosmetic item?)

    Osterby
  3. Lina Chief

    Story no 2 - Ruff's first day as a sheep guard

    Those of yer who heard the first story will remember that Ruff was a small, sickly and scrawny pup. However, he was also clever, and he soon got the respect of everyone because of his quick mind and his clever tricks.

    Ruff's brothers, though, were always a bit envious of his tricks. They tried their best to use Ruff's own tricks against him, to make him look silly. But they rarely succeeded, because Ruff was one clever feller.

    One bright day in the spring, the little lass who cared fer Ruff called on him and said it was time ter start guarding the sheep. 'It is time ter prove yer worth', she said to the little pup. 'And yer gots to look yer best', she said as she washed some patches of mud from his scrawny coat. Finally, Ruff was deemed presentable, and he ran along ter the nearest flock of sheep.

    The sheep were spread out over the field, and Ruff tried ter gather them together. 'Move along now', he told them sheep, but them sheep didn't mind him. They just stood still, chewed the grass and bleated at each other from time to time.

    Ruff tried everything. He ran around them sheep, he banged headfirst into them, he barked his loudest 'RUFFs'. But nothing would sway them lazy livestock.

    Dejected, he left the field, whimpering a bit for himself. He could already hear his brothers' spiteful laughter in his ears. Oh, they would have a field day now.

    Walking home, he passed the local furrier. He decided ter peek inside to take his mind off them silly brothers of his. In a corner he spotted something which made another clever idea form in his mind. He saw the cleaned pelt of a wolf, head still intact, lying there.

    'I can use this', Ruff thought, so he dragged the pelt outside. He put it on top of a tiny cart used ter drag small kegs around, and he stuffed the pelt with straws.

    Satisfied with his work, he dragged the cart back into the field. Standing on a small slope overlooking them sheep, he let out a ferocious howl. And he pushed the cart down the slope, aiming it straight fer the flock.

    The sheep, looking up as they heard the howls, soon saw the gaping jaws of a wolf headed straight for them! Livid with fear, they bleated their loudest, then grouped together and dashed straight back fer their farm.

    'That showed them', laughed Ruff as he rolled down the slope to recover the wolf-looking cart.
    As he started ter drag the pelt back up the slope, he heard another howl.

    On the top of the hill above him, he saw another wolf head creep into view. Ruff grumbled for himself. 'Oh, them silly brothers of mine', he said. 'They knows I am out here, and they want ter try to scare me with me own trick'. So Ruff decided ter teach his brothers a lesson.

    He ran straight up the slope.As he got near the wolf pelt, he growled and bristled his fur and looked his meanest. 'Away with yer, vile critter! Back into the forest with yer!', he said.

    Then he crouched and leaped into the air, aiming straight fer the throat of the wolf.

    Sinking his teeth into the fur, Ruff was ever so surprised to hear a crunchy, ripping noise.
    And a desperate howl made his ears ring. This was no trick wolf! It was a live one!

    'Oh dear', Ruff thought. 'Now I am done for'. But he locked his jaws tight, tighter than yer would have thought possible fer a small pup.

    The wolf went wild! It ran around, rolled around, shrieking from the pain. And it clawed at the fierce pup hanging from its throat. The sharp wolf claws dug into Ruff's back, into his belly, over his eyes. And while Ruff did his best to keep his jaws shut tight, he felt his strength fade.

    The local farmers and their dogs heard the desperate noises from the field, and soon they came running to. They could not believe the sight that met them. On the ground, the wolf lay crumpled, shivering! Ruff, bloodied and battered, lay on top of the wolf, keeping it down with his strong bite. The wolf drew its last wheezing breaths through its crushed throat, then lay still. And Ruff finally let go, fell to the ground and lay still himself.

    The little lass that cared for Ruff rushed up to the brave little pup. She carried him home and tended to his wounds. While frightened, wounded and worn out, the pup improved quickly after a few days of tender care, biscuits and cold milk.

    A week later, Ruff was again able ter walk the lovely green fields outside of Brockenborings. Scrawnier than before, with many a scar too, but everyone looked at him with admiration, even his envious brothers. Somehow, he looked stronger and walked taller than before. And from this day on, the sheep listened to whatever Ruff said.

    And so ends the story about how Ruff started guarding sheep.
  4. Lina Chief

    Third Ruff story - The lovely sheep dog lass

    One summer morning, many years back, the mist lay over the Greenfields like a warm, woolly blanket. All the sheepdogs in Brockenborings lay asleep, curled up safely and dreaming about juicy marrow bones.

    As the sun rose, out of the mist a rickety old wagon came creaking, winding its way through the village. As it passed, every male dog sniffed the air and stirred in their warm sleep. Then each and every one of them bolted up and stood alert, just as if a bee had buzzed by their noses. Soon all of the male pups ran after the wagon, drawn to it by a most alluring scent. "What is this?", they thought, as they scrambled fer positions near the wagon.

    The wagon headed fer one of the farms on the outskirts of Brockenborings, and the driver slammed the gate shut as he passed inside. Soon, though, the driver could see scores of pointy ears and snuffling dog noses rise over the fence, as the pups tried ter get a good view of the yard inside. Yer could feel the tension lay thick over the farm. The morning silence was just broken by the occasional whimper from the pups. Then they all took a sharp, collective breath and stood still.

    Because out of the wagon, a vision of loveliness jumped out and yawned. The finest little sheepdog lass yer could imagine! A shiny coat of fur and kind lovely eyes!

    She looked over to the horde of pups peering at her over the fence, blinking a couple of times. Then she shrugged and wandered over to a birch tree. Finding herself a pleasant spot in the shade, she started gnawing on a bone, ignoring the lads completely.

    The lads couldn't contain themselves no more. All of them let out their most impressive howls, jumped around and made an infernal racket of things. Soon, one of the finest-looking pups braved the fence. He jumped inside and darted over to birch tree. Standing in front of the lass, he looked his most impressive.

    "Ah, I am the strongest and finest sheepdog in Brockenborings", he said. "Come with me, and I'll show yer how brave and strong and courageous I am. Hahaa!"

    The lass peered at the lad in front of her. All the pups on the outside stood transfixed, watching what happened in utter silence. Finally the lass rolled her eyes, snorted and went back to gnawing on the bone. The lad slunk back to the fence, his tail between his legs as all the other pups laughed at him.

    One after the other, all the lads tried the same. They strutted their stuff, flexed their legs and bragged about their strength. And one after the other they were sent back to the fence, humiliated by a complete lack of interest from the lass. Finally, there was just one dog who hadn't been inside. Ruff stood outside the fence, looking unsure of what to do next.

    His brothers laughed at him. "Haha, yer scrawny rotter", they said. "Yer don't stand a chance with her, being such a small and scarred dog". "But go on inside, we could use us a good laugh", they barked as they pushed Ruff over the fence.

    "Oh my", Ruff thought as he rolled down and landed in the yard, "whatever am I going ter do now". Then he shrugged and wandered over to the tree. The lass eyed him as he approached. Ruff thought she looked lonely, so he sat down beside her and smiled his scrawny best. "Hullo there, and welcome ter Brockenborings", he said. "It must be strange ter be in a new village all of a sudden. I hope yer will let us know if yer need any help finding yer way around here".

    The lass licked her lips, then tilted her head. Smiling softly, she said:" Oh, there's a kind welcome. And yer right, I'd like me to take a look at this place". She hesitated, then looked Ruff deep in his eyes. "Perhaps yer would be so kind as to show me around?"

    The rest of the day was one Ruff would never forget. The lovely lass walking beside him out of the farmyard. The gaping looks of all the other pups as the two of them wandered by. Running through the village with her, searching out good places to hide, eat and sleep. Playing on the fields, chasing the sheep and rolling around in the dewy grass. And walking the lass home as the night fell. She smiled at him, sniffed his right ear and whispered her name before heading inside.

    Aurora...

    Ruff floated on clouds as he walked home. He'd never been happier. And that night, he fell asleep feeling stronger than ever, dreaming about the lovely Aurora. But his brothers looked at him where he lay and growled. "No way such a scrawny, scarred pup can run away with the finest lass in town. 's not right, it isn't!" And they stuck their heads together, mumbling and whining as they planned what to do next.

    And the days ahead got interesting indeed, the locals still talk about those summer days. But that's a story ter be told another night! And so ends the story about how Ruff met Aurora, the loveliest sheepdog in the north
  5. Lina Chief

    Fourth Ruff Story - The ravine on the edge of the woods

    One late summer morning, many years back, the male sheepdogs in Brockenborings woke up and yawned. They sniffed the fences as they went about their morning duties, then had a hearty breakfast. As the sun rose, they started jostling and playing with each other. To the hobbits in the village, everything looked normal. Inside, though, them male sheep dogs were simmering with anger. They were raging, I tell yer!

    Because of the lovely sheep dog lass Aurora, who had just moved to town. Because she wasn't interested in any of them, oh no. Because she only had eyes fer that scrawny feller Ruff! Oh, the unfairness! Oh the humiliation!

    It was enough ter have a proud sheep dog throw away his marrow bones and go skulk in the shade, it was. Instead, them males started plotting. It was about time ter deal with that lousy rotter Ruff, they whined. Sure he was clever and tricksy, and oh he might be kind and everything to them sheep, and he had a real loud and impressive bark. But the fact of the matter was, he was a small and scarred pup, and he had run away with the prize catch of the north. And that wouldn't do, oh no. So them males whispered and wheezed and plotted horrible plots as the day grew warmer.

    Ruff, though, he didn't know any of this. Instead he was working hard to lick and gnaw on that scrawny fur of his. Because, see, Ruff was planning ter go visit Aurora again. They had agreed ter meet beneath the windmill at noon, ter go play with the sheep in the fields. And he wanted his fur ter be all slick and shiny and somewhat impressive-looking. But gnaw and lick as he might, nothing helped, he just looked his ordinary scrawny self. So when his scheeming brothers came over to him, Ruff looked sad and a little dejected.

    "What are yer moping for?", his brothers asked him as they sniffed around the yard. "Oh, I just can't make me fur look all shiny and grand", Ruff sighed. Them brothers eyed each other, a naughty and mean twinkle in their eyes. Finally, his oldest brother tried his most caring and kind growl.

    "Yer know, Ruff, there is somet that might help yer. Yer want to go to that ravine near the edge of Bindbole Woods. The mud on the edge there should be real good fer yer fur. Roll around a bit there, and yer fur is sure ter be slicker and shinier than a well-gnawed bone."

    Ruff pondered on this. "Ooh. But that ravine is dangerous. If a pup falls down into them holes below, there is no way back up."

    "Aww, worry not", said his brother. "I'll come with and stand guard over yer". Ruff tilted his head and raised an ear, then barked happily. "That's kind of yer, brother. Let's go right now."

    So off them two sheep dogs ran, to the ravine on the edge of the woods. The ravine was steep, and the slope was right slippery, because of the rain from the day before. But Ruff's brother found a branch nearby, and dragged it over. "Here", he growled, "bite on that end, and I'll bite on the other end. And then yer can roll around all yer want there on that muddy edge, without any danger of falling below."

    As said, as done. Ruff bit on the branch, then happily went rolling around on the edge of the ravine. Soon his fur was all slick with the mud, so he stopped rolling and tried ter claw his way back to firm ground. Try as he might, though, the mud was so slippery, he couldn't quite get a grip fer his paws. He looked at his brother, nudging his head towards the firm ground.

    The look in his brother's eyes was colder than a frosty yule morning. A low growl. Seconds felt like hours. The brother let go of the branch. Ruff scratched and clawed, but couldn't stop. With a howl he slid down the ravine and into one of the deep, deep holes below. Then, no sound. All was quiet, and nothing could be seen.

    Upon returning to the village, Ruff's brother went straight to the windmill, where Aurora waited. "Hullo there", she said, "have yer seen Ruff? He promised ter meet me here today."

    Ruff's brother sighed, then tilted his head. "I am not quite sure how best ter say this. But Ruff left town." Aurora's eyes went wide as the brother continued. "Aye, he said the town was getting too small fer him, especially with yer badgering him every minute of the day. So he ran off, he did. Wanted ter see the world and everything"

    Aurora's eyes glistened, a hurt whimper left her throat. Ruff's brother went over and sniffed her behind her ear. "But worry not, dear Aurora. The rest of us will take right good care of yer. Yer can be sure of that..."

    He had ter fight hard ter stop his wicked chuckle.
    --
    In a small open space below ground, a small muddy heap moved. Ruff opened his eyes, but he couldn't see a thing. He sniffed the air. It was a strange, furrin smell, nothing he was used to from back home. He got up and moved around. He kept banging into dirt walls.

    Panic near took him. There was no way out!

    He was about to let out a loud bark, when he stumbled into an open tunnel. He could feel something stir in front of him. A pair of twinkling lights hovered in the air ahead. The lights blinked slowly. A loud humming sound filled the tunnel.

    And the lights crept closer, closer, ever closer...

    And so ends the story about how Ruff was tricked into the ravine. But I am sure I'll have ter tell yer the follow-up to this some day soon!
  6. Spriggy Member

    Great to learn more about #RRRuff# ! Just finished chapter 1, reserving the others for later reading.

    *Howls*
    Tibba likes this.
  7. Lina Chief

    Fifth Ruff Story - The humming below

    Continues from story four above:

    In a small open space below ground, a muddy heap moved. Ruff opened his eyes, but he couldn’t see a thing. He sniffed the air. It was a strange, furrin smell, nothing he was used to from back home. He got up and moved around. He kept banging into dirt walls.

    Panic near took him. There was no way out!

    He was about to let out a loud bark, when he stumbled into an open tunnel. He could feel something stir in front of him. A pair of twinkling lights hovered in the air ahead. The lights blinked slowly. A loud humming sound filled the tunnel.

    And the lights crept closer, closer, ever closer…

    Ruff couldn't help himself. He tried to let out a large ruffing bark. But try as he might, all he was able ter do were small puppy yelps. The squeaky yelps echoed down the tunnel.

    The humming noise stopped. The lights froze. Then slowly, carefully, they got closer still. Now accompaniet by a soft snuffling sound. A badger came wobbling down the tunnel, eyes glinting in the dark. It stopped and tilted its head. "Ho there", said the badger, "whatever are yer squealing for?"

    Ruff calmed down. Now badgers, he knew, them were grand creatures. After an intense round of mutual sniffing, snuffling and light jostling, Ruff told the sad story about how he had ended up in the tunnel. The badger tilted its head again, then nodded slowly. "Alright. Come this way, and we'll try have yer sorted out".

    Ruff was led through an amazing maze of underground tunnels. He soon lost his sense of direction, but the light humming sounds of the badger calmed him. He soon found himself humming along. Up ahead, more humming echoed down the tunnel, growing stronger. After many a twist and turn, the pair ended up in a large underground cave, lit in a gentle glow.

    The cave was full of badgers, humming softly to each other. Some of them came over to Ruff. They licked his wounds and gave him fresh water and berries. Ruff soon felt better, and his moods picked up considerably by being around the friendly badgers. However, he couldn't help but feel that they all seemed a bit distraught. It was as if something lay heavy on their minds.

    "Right", said Ruff's new companions. "Yer looking for a way out? Normally, yer could just walk down this way, turn right at the oaken root, straight ahead past the old well, up, down and around the goblin skull, then left/right and up/down for a while... and yer would have been halfway there. However, at the moment, that's not quite possible."
    Oh dear, thought Ruff.

    "The problem is that we are currently facing a rather nasty infestation of shrews in our tunnels, and we just have ter chase them off. Wicked creatures, them shrews. Eating the farmer's apples, scaring the sheep, and what have yer. And now, they want to force us out of our home." Ruff, having had many a run-in with shrews himself, found himself growling at this.

    "So, you see, we are gathering to chase off those horrible creatures. But we find ourselves in a rather worrying predicament". How so? said Ruff. "See, we badgers let the power of music aid us in our endeavors. Songs and melodies have always made our work easy, our search for food successful, our relationships with each other warm and comforting. But try as we might, we just can't find a song suitable to fight those pesky shrews."
    Ruff listened to the soft hums from the cavern and agreed. This was no fighting sound, oh no. At the very best, this was a soft late-night lullaby.

    A lullaby that was pierced by a guttural wheezing laughter from the tunnels ahead. The badgers all stirred and hushed, listening closely. A young badger came wobbling into the middle of the cavern, shivering and yelping.
    "The shrews! The shrews attack!"

    The song died out. Darkness fell on the cave as the badgers closed their eyes in unison, accepting their inevitable doom. For up ahead, sharp white teeth glinted in the darkness. The wicked laughter of the shrews filled the cave.

    Ruff took it all in. His scrawny fur bristled, his very bones shook. Not from fear, but from anger. Anger over his wicked brothers. Anger that he was far from Aurora. Anger over the shrews. White rage because his friends were in danger.
    He ran into the middle of the cave. Summoning all his strength and courage, he barked out a loud "RUFF"!

    The tunnels shook. Sand and stone fell from the earthen walls. As the shrew army came tumbling into the cave, Ruff launched his frail body headfirst into their leader. Desperate shrieks as sharp teeth found fur, bones crunched, blood splattered on the dirt walls.

    The deafening roars from below echoed across the Greenfields. In Brockenborings, hobbits stopped and listened, worried that the ghost of Golfimbul had returned. The sheep startled and brayed. Ruff's cowardly brothers hid in bushes and under beds, whimpering.

    Only Aurora, eyes still glistening from tears, sat up. Through the muffled roaring sounds she heard a familiar voice. A voice once friendly and loving. A voice now agonized and desperate. Ruff's...

    She ran for the door, into the yard, towards the gate to the fields. A shadowy creature jumped in front of the gate, growling, standing tall in front of her. "Going somewhere?" Ruffs older brother said. "Now that won't do". He closed in on the shaking lass.

    And so ends this part of the story of how Ruff met the badgers of the Greenfields. But I am sure I'll have to tell yer the follow-up rather soon now?
    Nimelia, Simbo, Potty and 4 others like this.
  8. Spriggy Member

    So exciting! You are a master story teller, Lina! *cheers*
  9. Tibba Voluntary Assistant Chief

    Yes, you most certainly need to tell us how this continues! *looks all excited and worried*
  10. Lina Chief

    Sixth Ruff Story – For whom the dog barks

    Continues from story four and five above

    "The shrews! The shrews attack!", a badger yelled.

    The song died out. Darkness fell on the cave as the badgers closed their eyes in unison, accepting their inevitable doom. For up ahead, sharp white teeth glinted in the darkness. The wicked laughter of the shrews filled the cave.

    Ruff, as angry as he had never been before, ran into the middle of the cave. When the shrew army came tumbling into the cave, he launched his frail body headfirst into their leader. Sharp teeth found fur, bones crunched, blood splattered on the dirt walls.

    Summoning all his strength, Ruff let out his loudest bark: "RUFF"!

    Over the din of the shrieking shrews, the bark echoed through the cave. Upon hearing it, an old badger sat up, snuffling softly for himself.

    “Hmm. Interesting. Rather invigorating, I must say”

    He started barking too. The badgers near him sat up as well. They looked at each other, then joined the barking. The barks soon turned into a loud, steady rhythm as all the badgers in the cave joined the chorus.Their fur bristled, their whiskers trembled. The ground shook as badger paws hit the earth to the rhythm.

    Sand and stones started falling from the earthen walls. Hearing the rhythm, the shrews stopped in their tracks, a worried look in their eyes. As one, the badgers broke into song and charged the line of shrews.

    The ensuing battle was swift. Scared by the loud song, the shrews ran for their lives. They escaped the tunnels and sprinted across the Greenfields, tails between their legs.

    The badgers nodded proudly at each other, but soon heard a cry from the main entrance. Running to, they saw a badger sifting through a pile of shrew corpses. At the bottom lay a small scrawny-looking dog, fur all drenched in blood. He did not move

    Now, a few of the escaping shrews ran past the gate between Brockenborings and Greenfields. A shadowy creature stood in front of it, growling, staring at a lovely sheepdog lass. "Going somewhere?" Ruffs older brother said. "Now that won't do".

    “Let me pass”, Aurora said. “I heard Ruff, he is in danger. Let me go!”

    “Oh, I am afraid I can’t let yer do that”, said Ruffs brother. “Yer ours now. And we got rid of our lousy no-good brother ter make it so.” He closed in on Aurora, a low growl in his voice.

    However, his arrogance made him forget the one sure thing in the life of dogs. There is nothing more dangerous than a cornered sheepdog lass.

    Aurora’s mind went blank with rage, and her sudden leap took Ruff’s brother by surprise. She snarled as she locked her jaws around his tail, chewed as she shook her head back and forth.

    Ruff’s brother couldn’t believe his eyes – his once-proud tail was soon as hairless as a shrew’s. Cheeks burning with shame, he ran away from Brockenborings, never ter be seen in the village again. Them say he is still skulking around in the Bindbole Woods, often mistaken fer a large cowardly shrew, living off worms and deer droppings.

    Aurora, though, ran straight across the Greenfields to where she had heard Ruff’s barking. Nearing the ravine overlooking Bindbole, she saw a sight she would never forget.

    A veritable army of badgers came marching out of an opening in the ground. Singing a stirring song, the badgers started lining up on each side of the entrance. When they had all lined up, they started hitting the ground with their paws, growling, barking.

    And out of the opening, a rather confused-looking scrawny dog came walking.

    “Hum, hail our hero”, sang the badgers. “The one with the mighty bark”.

    Aurora ran over to Ruff, tears of joy as they both sniffed each others behind the ears, not believing they were together again. While the badgers walked them both safely home, they only had eyes for each other.

    In the years that followed, Ruff and Aurora sired a line of strong, beautiful and clever sheepdogs. Their pups were always quick of wit, smart and cunning All children in Brockenborings wanted one to play with, and all farmers agreed that there were no finer guardians of sheep in the whole four farthings.

    One thing always struck them locals as a bit odd, though. Whenever them dogs came across a hole in the ground, they stopped and barked their loudest.And far below, the farmers swore they could hear distant noises. Just like someone were singing, deep down below.

    And so ends the story about how Ruff befriended the Greenfields badgers, won Aurora’s eternal love and inspired a whole line of badger music. But there are more stories to tell about him, and I am sure I will at a later date!
    Tibba, Nimelia, Rubellita and 3 others like this.
  11. Potty Member

    *smiles and cheers* A grand endin' ter a grand tale!

    Yer a grand storyteller Miss Lina! I sure love ter hear more Ruff stories later!
  12. Rubellita Member

    A fine story indeed! *cheers*
    If ever we lack a plan for the annual badger project, why not try "Ruff, the musical." Yay!
    Spriggy likes this.
  13. Spriggy Member

    Ruff, the hero of the Shire! A wonderful tale it is, Miss Lina. And i never knew badgers could bark! *Tries to bark but stops quickly, feeling a bit silly*
  14. Tibba Voluntary Assistant Chief

    *cheers* A grand story, Lina! Hooray for #Ruff!#
  15. Lina Chief

    Seventh Ruff story: A Game of Scones

    A cold winter morning not too long ago, a dusting of snow lay on the Greenfields. This was very popular with the children in Brockenborings, who had snowball fights and built snowmen ter pass the waiting time before Yule. They were joined by the sheepdogs in the village, since the sheep had moved inside because of the cold.

    Two sheepdogs were missing from the fun and games, though. Lying in his favourite spot near the fireplace, Ruff sulked and pondered on the difficulties of life. His time with the lovely lass Aurora had been nothing but grand, and they had been more or less inseparable ever since that unfortunate incident with the tunnels.

    Still, lately Aurora had been awful moody. Always sleepy, mostly grumpy, with an appetite ter rival even the fattest hobbits in the Four Farthings. And ooh, had the result of that appetite ever started ter show around her belly.

    Waking up this morning, looking at the snow, she had yawned and said: “I’d like me some scones today”. Ruff, fresh out of scones, brought her some marrow bones instead. Her resulting loud bark of “I want SCOOONES!” still rang in his ears.

    He could stand up to wolves, shrews and silly brothers, but risk the wrath of a grouchy sheepdog lass? No way.

    Dejected, he wandered into the kitchen, where his owners were busy preparing food fer the Yuletide. “Come here, Ruff”, said the young lass of the house, “I’m baking Yule bread!”. Ruff jumped up on the table and watched the lass mix ingredients for the dough. Flour, milk, butter, sugar, eggs... Looking at the dough, Ruff started pondering.

    “And now the dried fruits”, the lass said, reaching for the jar. Ruff shuddered and sneezed at the jar.
    “What, yer don’t like fruit?”, the lassie said.
    Nuh-uh, Ruff shook his head, at least not those horrible dried things. They made him sneeze somet horribly.
    “But without them dried fruits, it won’t be no Yule cake. We might as well bake scones.”
    Pondering on the profundity of this, the lassie continued: “Which are altogether tastier than Yule cake anyway…”
    Ruff wagged his tail and licked the lassie on her cheek.
    “Awright, awright. Scones coming up. I’ll make yer a sheepdog’s dozen too.”
    Barking happily, Ruff jumped down from the table.

    Still, scones without clotted cream? Impossible. Aurora wouldn’t stand for it. So Ruff ran outside and bounced through the snowdrifts towards the dairy. Making his way inside, he saw pail upon pail full of fresh milk. As yer know, them cows in Brockenborings produce the sweetest, fattest milk in the Shire.

    Not a single tub of clotted cream was ter be seen, but Ruff couldn’t help but notice a curious contraption lying huddled in a bundle beneath the window. It looked like a huge udder with a lot of wooden pipes sticking out of it.

    Ruff picked up the object. He’d never seen one of them things before. I wonder what this does, he thought as he pushed and pressed and shook the thing around.

    “Yer supposed ter blow into that end”, said a sour voice from the window. One of the cows from the stable nearby had wandered over, peeking through the window, no doubt coming ter complain about how cold the farmer’s hands were during the milking. “But be careful”, she continued, “all us cows shudder when the farmer starts playing on the thing. The soundis worse than anything yer can imagine.”

    How curious, Ruff thought, as he tried to blow into the wooden pipe. Try as he might, though, nothing happened.

    “Aw, come on, ‘s not that hard”, the cow said. “Just make an effort and squeeze that bag while yer blow the pipe.” Leaning further through the window to get a good look, the cow tipped a jar that stood in the windowsill. The jar toppled over, and its contents fell out and rained over Ruff.

    Dried fruits. Oh dear...

    Ruff let out a massive sneeze straight into the wooden pipe. At the same time, he clutched his paws together hard, squeezing the bag in the process. The ensuing howling sound had an almost explosive effect that made the small dairy shook at its foundations.

    What a horrible noise! The cow ran off mooing, forgetting any complaints about cold farmer hands. All over the village, hobbits dove for cover, while sheepdogs hid under beds. Inside the dairy, the pails of milk started shaking and wobbling.

    When Ruff woke up five minutes later, the room had that sweet smell of warmed-up cream. Looking into the nearest pail, he saw that the milk had clotted after the horrible incident with the bag of pipes. There’ll have ter be a lot of scones made this Yule, Ruff said as he ran off, bringing one pail with him.

    Back at the house, he picked up his now fresh-baked scones and some jam, then headed back to Aurora. She wolfed down the scones in less than ten seconds, then let out a sigh of content. “I knew I could count on yer, Ruff. Yer me hero”

    Smiling at him, she added: “And yer will make a grand father too”.

    Holdonsaywhatnow, said Ruff. FATHER?

    Laughing softly, Aurora, said: “Well, surely yer have noticed me belly growing and me appetite and everything. Did yer think I was just letting meself go or somet?”

    Butbutbut… father? I am young, I know nothing of parenthood, I’ll surely do everything wrong, I just clotted all the milk in the village! Ruff whined.

    “Ah, don’t worry”, Aurora said, “I am sure the two of us can manage this together”. She leaned in and sniffed Ruff behind his ear, then licked his cheek.

    When it comes ter make a lad strong and brave, no power is stronger than the lick from a sweet sheepdog lass.

    In the days ahead, while the villagers continued ter prepare Yule, Ruff and Aurora planned ter receive their first litter of sheepdog pups. And the tales I can tell yer of that birth, ha, now that’s something. Rumours says a lot of clotted cream was involved somehow.

    But that story will have ter wait until another night. For now ends the tale of how Ruff made scones and clotted cream fer his sweetheart Aurora.
    Lully, Rubellita, Nimelia and 3 others like this.
  16. Tibba Voluntary Assistant Chief

    Haha, a grand Yule story! *cheers* Ruff!

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