Late afternoon in The Shire was bright and peaceful. A cart rattled down a leafy lane, driven by a tanned figure dressed in Grey. The pony snorted and reared up as a young Hobbit stepped out of the trees.
“You’re late”, smiled Frodo Baggins.
Donald the Wizard looked up. “Nyou’re Nyate”, he said, in a stupid high-pitched voice.
Frodo didn’t think he talked like that. And he didn’t do that flailing thing with his arms when he spoke.
“You know, I’m not making fun of you”, said the wizard “I would never never do that.”
“No of, uh… of course not. You’re a dear dear friend of Uncle Bilb–”
“It is just so disgusting to accuse me of lateness. A wizard is never late. These are horrible lies, horrible horrible fabrications. If you could afford a pair of shoes I’d sue you.”
Donald clicked his tongue and the shambling old pony continued down the lane. As the cart passed Old Hamfast Greenholm’s cottage a firework shot out the back and blew a wood pigeon to smithereens.
Inside Bag End, Bilbo and Donald stood in a small room that looked out on to the garden.
“So, you’re gonna go through with your plan?” Donald said, wiping his nose on a map of the lonely mountain.
“Yes, yes… All the arrangements are made.”
“What about the real estate?” Said Donald, parking his butt on Bilbo’s desk and looking about the room, “You found a buyer for Bag End? You got a good deal?”
“A buyer? No no. No, Bag End will pass to Frodo.”
“Frodo? That hoochie piece of ass I just met on the road? Come on, gimme a break.”
Bilbo rescued his manuscript from under Donald’s ass and stowed it in a tea chest. “He’d probably come with me if I asked him. I think in his heart Frodo’s still in love with the Shire, the woods and the fields… the little rivers.”
“Big dick and the twins in The Green Dragon, too I bet,” Donald snorted, bashing at the wall with a clenched fist, “God dam pass-around-pussy.”
“This rat hole really oughta be condemned. It’s basically totally worthless, so here’s my offer. And this is just a really great offer. Three percent of profits. I’m adding fifty floors to this place and reopening a Trump Towers Hobbiton. And the profits will be huge, I’m telling you. Just enormous.”
“I should get ready for my party”, said Bilbo, “It promises to be a night to remember.”
“Be so sad if something happened to Bag End,” shrugged the wizard, “A fire or something.”
Donald the Grey hadn’t enjoyed Bilbo’s party.
He hadn’t liked the potato chips, which had not been prawn cocktail flavour. He hadn’t liked being told he couldn’t blow out the candles on the birthday cake.
And he hadn’t liked the looks he got from the other party-goers when he’d kicked Meriadoc Brandybuck in the kidney for stealing a Goblin-barker from his cart.
The old wizard had retired now to the kitchen in Bag End where he was screwing up pieces of Bilbo’s manuscript and jamming them into gaps between the logs and kindling that filled a waste paper basket.
Bilbo removed the ring of power and appeared at Donald’s side.
“Jeez Louise!”, cried Donald, dropping his book of matches, “Is that a magic ring?”
“Of course it’s a magic ring.” Bilbo muttered, “Isn’t it your job to know these things?”
“Gold is it? Is that gold?”, asked Donald peering down at the ring.
“It’s very precious to me,” said Bilbo, turning his back on Donald.
“Precious?” Donald scoffed, “It’s never been called that before. And magic rings are just such a terrible investment right now. I hate to tell you that. I guess I’d take it off your hands for the cost of the fireworks. That’s a great deal for you. A seriously really great deal.”
“You want it for yourself!” exclaimed the hobbit angrily, holding up his fists.
“Bilbo Baggins,” boomed Donald, farting and blowing out a candle, “If my lawyers heard you say that they’d make me sue. And I would make such a great ring bearer.”
“But…” said the hobbit, lowering his fists, “if you bore the ring then through you it would wield a power too great and terrible to imagine?”
“Absolutely it would, which would not be my fault. That is the system in Middle Earth. I don’t like that system but I have to live in it, and that makes me smart. And I tell ya, if more free peoples of middle earth wised up and forged their own rings of power they could protect themselves from me.”
Bilbo stood for a moment tense and undecided. Then he sighed, “Donald, my old friend, you tell it like it is. And I respect that.”
Bilbo handed the ring to the wizard and walked briskly to the door. “Now.” said the halfling, “It is late and the road is long. Yes, it is time.”
Bilbo stopped on the path and turned to the old wizard.
“I’ve thought of an ending for my book.”
Donald slammed the door and tried on the new ring, which had shrunk to fit his finger.
“Is my ring safe?” asked Donald looking down from his pony.
“Quite safe, Donald,” Frodo replied, patting his pocket.
“Okay, you and your pervert gardener need to take my ring and leave the shire,” said Donald, “Travel only by day and stay off the road.”
“Stay off the road, Mr Donald?” said Samwise Gamgee, “Begging your pardon, Sir, but what’s on the road?”
“You’re a road,” said the wizard, wiping his nose on the pony’s mane, “I never said anything about black riders on the road, which I hear do not exist. I have no idea who these riders are.”
“Now Mr Donald sir, is that why you won’t take the ring to Bree yourself? Because of the Black Riders?” said Sam.
“Frodo.” Donald beckoned for the hobbit to come closer, “If there is any trouble on the road your only concern should be the safety of my ring. Don’t think twice about letting the black riders take Fatty-bo-Batty over there.”
“I will protect your ring with my life, Donald, but… what of the black riders?”
“They’re 100 percent made up. They never happened, I don’t know who they are.” said Donald, “Your journey to Bree will be good, I’d come with you if it wasn’t for the black riders.”
“I don’t like the sound of no Black Riders, Mr Frodo Sir” said Sam.
“We’ll meet again on the Hevensday if you’ve not been slaughtered by the black riders.” And with that Donald wheeled his horse and galloped away.
“Smoke rises from the mountain of doom…
…The shadow takes shape in the darkness of Mordor; the hour grows late and Donald the Grey rides to Isengard seeking my counsel”, said Saruman to himself, “For that is why you have come, is it not, my old friend?”
“Is what why I’ve come?”, said Donald, flopping down from his pony, “I missed the beginning of that.”
“I said, smoke rises from the mountain of doom. The shadow takes shape in the darkness of Mordor; the hour grows late and Donald the Grey rides to Isengard seeking my counsel. For that is why you have come, is it not, my old friend?”
“Actually it’s about my new golf course.”
Minutes later Donald and Saruman walked slowly between the beautiful trees of Isengard.
“So the ring of power has been found,” said Saruman.
“Found by me,” said Donald, “For like three thousand years it was lost and I literally found it without trying. Only I, and I think you believe these words, only I can find lost magic rings.”
“And you propose to harness the power of the one ring to impel Galador, son of Imrazôr, to let you build a golf resort hotel and luxury spa in Dol Amroth?”
“Beautiful town, Saruman, beautiful site. I’m gonna bring so so many jobs to Dol Amroth. A competitor has already made a bid on the land but I still have time, time enough to counter him if I act quickly”
“Time? What time do you think you have?”
Donald and Saruman sat in a small, cluttered room inside the cavernous central chamber of Orthanc.
“Sauron has regained much of his former strength. He cannot yet take physical form but his spirit has lost none of its potency. Concealed within his fortress, the lord of Mordor sees all.”
Donald sniffed and wiped his nose on a drawing of a balrog. “We must join with him” said Saruman.
“So about my new ring…” said Donald, crumpling up the drawing and tossing it out of a window, “…it makes me Middle Earth’s best wizard, I think. The number one. And I’ll tell you, that means you gotta gimme the keys to Isengard.
“So you came here to usurp me as leader of the Istari wizards?” said Saruman, getting to his feet.
“I mean, you take a look at this, I’m just a much better wizard,” said Donald, jamming a quill in his ear, ”a really really great wizard.”
“Where is the ring?” asked Saruman, picking up his staff.
Donald was trapped on the summit of Orthanc, having been bested by Saruman in a rough brawl in the citadel’s great chamber.
“What a rigged system, moths,” said the wizard to a moth, “These people are horrible people. You have no idea.”
“Moths?” said the moth, looking around, “There’s only one moth here, Guv.”
“There’s over twenty thousand moths here. It’s a great crowd today.”
“So, uh… I know I’m just a moth and all, but I’ve got a lot on today… What was it you were after?”
“You know Gwaihir?” Donald said to the moth.
“Gwaihir the Wind lord?” said the moth, “the greatest of the Great Eagles?”
“I’m the greatest of the Great Eagles,” said Donald.
The moth rubbed his temples, “Right, so, uh, you want me to ask Gwaihir if he can shoot down here and rescue you, yeah?”
“I don’t need rescued. No, I didn’t say that at all.”
“Look, what are you after, mate?”
“For you to tell Gwaihir to fly down here and rescue me.”
“To rescue you?”
“I don’t need rescued. You need rescued.”
And the moth flew away.
Frodo woke and found himself lying in bed. At first he thought that he had slept late, after a long unpleasant dream that still hovered on the edge of memory.
“Where’s my magic ring?” said Donald, hawking a billow of cigar smoke in Frodo’s face.
“Where… where am I, and what is the time?” coughed the Hobbit.
“It’s ten in the morning”, said the wizard, “I own a beautiful chalet here in Rivendell. Just exquisite.”
“What happened, Donald? Why didn’t you meet us?” said Frodo, sitting up.
“I met you,” said Donald, tapping his ash onto the floor, “I absolutely met you.”
“But I have no memory of it.”
“You had way too much liquor in the Prancing Pony”, said Donald, “Just really far too much, you were about as bad as it gets. And honestly, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
“So I dreamt it all. That Sam and I met with Merry and Pippin and were pursued by black riders. We met a ranger named Strider, there were more black riders. I was stabbed in the shoulder and then rescued by an elf maiden and conveyed by horse to Rivendell where my life was saved by the Lord Elrond.”
“That’s messed up,” Donald said, shaking his head. “Oh, and before I forget, you owe me six nights room and board for this place.”
“The grey wizard licked my ear”, said Legolas to Aragorn, “I should hope he doesn’t sit near me during the council of Elrond.”
Aragorn watched Donald load his plate with drumsticks from the buffet, “If we choose Donald to lead us to Mordor, the prospects for a safe and prosperous journey are greatly diminished.”
“Here’s what I know”, said Gimli the dwarf, “Donald is a phony, a fraud.”
“You know, darlin’”, Donald said, shifting a chair closer to Legolas and plopping himself down, “I can show you where they have some really nice furniture.”
“Strangers from distant lands,” said Elrond, “friends of old. You have been summoned here to answer the threat of Mordor. Middle-earth stands upon the brink of destruction. None can escape it. You will unite or you will fall. Each race is bound to this fate… this one doom.”
“Lord Sauron has very exciting plans for Middle Earth,” said Donald, giving Legolas his plate to hold, “Sauron has such strong control over Mordor. Now, it’s a very different system and I don’t happen to like that system but I respect Sauron.”
“Hats off to Sauron.”
“But Mithrandir,” said Lord Elrond, “Sauron is a sorcerer of dreadful power, master of shadows and of phantoms, foul in wisdom, cruel in strength, misshaping what he touched, twisting what he ruled, lord of werewolves; his dominion is torment.”
“And that’s a shame, but he once called me a genius,” said the wizard, using a cocktail stick on the dirt under his fingernails, “He said Donald the wizard is a genius and he is going to be the leader of the world or something. He respects me even though he doesn’t say that, but that’s what he said.”
Gimli puffed on his pipe.
“He said that I was a great guy. So if we can make a great deal for our country and get along with Mordor that would be a tremendous thing. And with my ring–”
“You cannot wield the ring,” interrupted Elrond, “None of us can. The one ring answers to Sauron alone.”
“Okay, I have to say this… this guy, Lord Elrond, okay, was there 2000 years ago. He was there and he didn’t destroy the ring, he kept the ring for himself,” said Donald, “This is well documented, very well documented that Elrond is literally the inventor of the Shadow Lands.”
“You have only one choice”, said Elrond, now visibly irritated, “the ring must be destroyed”.
Boromir stood and stroked his beard. “One does not simply walk into Mordor. Its black gates are guarded by more than just Orcs.”
Frodo stood up, “I will take–”
“There is evil there that does not sleep. It is a barren wasteland riddled with fire and ash and dust. Not with ten thousand men could you do this. It is folly.”
“I will take it,” said Frodo, “I will take the ring to Mordor… Though I do not know the way.”
Donald plucked a sausage from his plate. “I do,” he said, “I think that only Donald knows the way to Mordor.”
“Does anybody else know the way to Mordor”, said Elrond, “Even just have a rough idea?”
Aragorn and Boromir shrugged. Gimli shook his head.
“Well then we must, uh… give Donald a chance,” said Lord Elrond “I think that ultimately he is a pragmatic guide and that can serve him well as long as he has got good people around him.”
The Fellowship struggled through a blinding blizzard, up towards the Pass of Caradhras.
“These vicious claims about me of inappropriate conduct with the river maids are totally and absolutely false,” Donald hollered at Gimli, who didn’t seem to hear him over the howling winds.
“Saruman is trying to bring down the mountain,” Aragorn shouted, as a lightning crack exploded on the mountainside, sending down a huge avalanche.
“We cannot pass over the mountain,” called out Donald, “Let us go under it. Let us go through the mines of Moria.”
“There is a seriously big Balrog in the Mines of Moria,” bellowed Boromir.
“And I have a lot of respect for the Balrog” shouted Donald, “I would ask the Balrog to join our fellowship. With the mighty Balrog in our company, we would have tremendous success in our quest. It’s time to start thinking big once again.”
“No demon of the ancient world would consent to join our fellowship,” yelled Legolas, “Besides, have you seen his wings? He’s far too big to fit out thought the doors of the mine.”
“Big is good,” Donald screamed, “My talks with the Balrog will have big successes. I say that very bigly.”
The Balrog roared and streamed towards the fellowship. In one hand was a blade, a stabbing tongue of fire. In the other was a whip of many thongs.
“Over the bridge!’ cried Aragorn, “Fly! This is a foe beyond any of us”.
The company reached the Bridge of Khazad-dûm.
“Hey Puffin,” wheezed Donald, grabbing Pippin’s sleeve, “Here, take it. Take my sword.”
Pippin looked at the blade in wonder. “But Donald, you told us that swords were no more use here.”
“No. Never said that. Swords work just fine on Balrogs as long as they’re wielded by a Hobbit”, said the Wizard barging past Pippin, “It’s just one of those things, like how only dames can kill Witch Kings.”
Pippin stood in the middle of the span and faced down the Balrog, who raised his whip. The thongs whined and cracked. Fire came from its nostrils.
“Look, I’m sorry alright but you cannae pass”, said the hobbit.
The beast paused to emit a deafening bellow and spread its wings. But then the bridge cracked and with a terrible cry the Balrog fell forward and vanished. Even as it fell it swung its whip, and the thongs lashed and curled about the Pippin’s knees, dragging him to the brink.
He grasped vainly at the stone. ‘Fly, you fools! ‘ he cried, and was gone.
“Very nasty, calling me a fool”, harrumphed Donald, once the company were out on the mountainside “He’s a fool. What, he’s a hero because he fell into a chasm? I like hobbits who haven’t fallen into chasms.”
Sam and Merry sat weeping on the hill.
“I can tell you, I wouldn’t even have been in Moria”, said Donald, “If I’d had my way, and we had not gone into Moria, Pippin would still be alive. It was such a disastrous plan.”
Donald sat down on a boulder and began to cry, “Fool? I’ve done so well. That’s a horrible thing for him to say. It’s not nice.“
“Boromir, get him up,” said Aragorn, cleaning goblin blood from his sword, “These hills will soon be swarming with orcs”.
“Give him a moment, for pity’s sake,” said Boromir.
The fellowship had gathered on the bank of the Silverlode, ready to depart Lothlorien.
“Farewell, Frodo Baggins,” said Galadriel, “I give to you the light of Earendil, our most beloved star. May it be a light for you in dark places.”
Next the Elf Queen turned to Donald. “And what would Donald the Grey ask of the Lady Galadriel?,” she smiled.
“One hundred and fifty thousand dollars”, he said.
“Right. Well, that’s… That’s a very significant sum of money, Mithrandir.”
“To destroy such an evil ring? This is a struggle for the survival of your nation, believe me. I’m the only one that can fix this very evil threat, lady. This is a great deal for Lothlorien. Really, such a wonderful deal.”
Galadriel looked at Aragorn hopefully, “It will take the elves some time to scare up that much cash.”
“Donald, the hour grows late,” said Aragorn, “Perhaps, you could–”
“You wanna find your own way into Mordor, pal? Do ya?”
Aragorn frowned and took out his pipe. Donald turned to Galadriel.
“We got all day sweetheart. My fellowship’s got all day.”
Galadriel sighed and nodded to Haldir.
“Okay,” Donald clapped his hands, “let’s make some room in the boats for my cash. I’m thinking we leave Merry behind, yes? He’s basically done fuck all useful since his boyfriend died.”
The sun, already long fallen from the noon, was shining in a windy sky.
The pent waters spread out into a long oval lake, Nen Hithoel. Frodo stood on the west shore looking east. Donald was beside him.
“They would have gone with me to the end… into the very fires of Mordor.” said Frodo.
“Screw ’em. Don’t need ’em. Those bimbos have zero business ability. I got 150 grand out of that elf broad. What’d the dwarf get, huh? Some hair. He’s a loser. You thought my Galadriel deal was something, wait til you see what I rinse outta Sauron for his ring.”
“You… You mean to sell the ring to Sauron? Not destroy it in the fires of Mount Doom?”
“And that’s called business, kid. Now grab my bags of money and let’s get to it.”
Minutes later, they paddled away from the shore. Frodo looked up and saw Sam burst from the trees.
“Frodo. Mr. Frodo!”, called out Sam.
“Go back Sam,” Frodo called out, “Donald and I are going to Mordor alone.”
Sam splashed hopelessly toward the boat. “Of course you are… and I’m coming with you!”
“You can’t swim, ya bonehead!”, laughed Donald, “Guy can’t even swim.”
Sam sunk under the water. Frodo seized the oars and began to paddle towards him.
Beneath the surface of the lake, Sam’s flailed helplessly. He reached up for Frodo’s hand.
“This is a good thing, if you want to know the truth,” said Donald, as they watched Sam’s lifeless body plunge over the falls of Rauros.
“Bigger profits for us two.”
As darkness began to fall, Frodo and Donald scrambled onto a high ridge. In the distance was a line of saw toothed mountains below a dark, oppressive sky. Black volcanic smoke rose behind the mountains.
“I hope the others find a safer road,” said Frodo.
“Is my ring safe?” said Donald.
“Yes, Donald” Frodo smiled weakly, “I’m so glad to have someone with your business savvy with me.”
And so Frodo and Donald set off on the last stage of the Quest together, dragging Donald’s sacks of money towards Mordor.