There was quite a stir in the Shire when just three days before the long-expected Most Silver Tongue Silmaril Award presentation was to be held, its presenter, Bilbo Baggins of the Bagginses of Bag End, disappeared at his birthday party of the 22nd of September.
Fortunately, it was not for long. A notice was found tacked to the gate at Bag End:
Interested parties (unexpected or otherwise) please find Silmaril Awards ceremony presentation now held at Rivendell!
(By all accounts—mostly through Frodo and Merry—Bilbo was rather proud of his joke.)
It was quite an inconvenience for the proceedings to move all the way from the cozy Shire setting to some far-away Last Homely House, inhabited by Elves of all people—and with only three days’ notice. It was just the sort of adventure that rarely happened in the Shire. Perhaps Bilbo had been taking lessons from a certain grey-bearded wizard.
What was to be done about it? people and Hobbits alike wondered.
But, again fortunately, there appeared around that time a tall, ominous-looking black castle with four tall, thin turrets, and it seemed to be moving gently across the fields around Hobbiton. A certain other wizard (not grey-bearded at all) had appeared in those parts since he was a previous winner of the award and had come to attend this year’s ceremony. This castle of his formed the perfect way for those who had already gathered in the Shire to make it to Rivendell on time, since the door opened on more than one place—and one of those places, for the moment, was Rivendell.
“This way, please. Thank you,” Frodo said.
“Don’t mind the fire giving you looks on your way—he’s quite harmless,” added Merry.
“I am not,” said the fireplace grumpily. “I’m quite a menace.”
Frodo and Merry (since Pippin and Sam were busy off presenting awards of their own) organized the flow of people making their way into the moving castle. A polite brown-haired apprentice boy and rather flustered-looking young woman with red-gold hair shooed the people back out through the door after twisting the knob over it—and the door opened onto the stunning valley of Rivendell.
“Only if you’re burning the bacon,” the young woman panted in reply. “There are rather a lot of people, aren’t there? There has got to be a spell to make this faster.”
“Howl could do it,” the apprentice said.
She snorted. “Of course he could—if he wasn’t off leaving us to do all the work, as usual. I’ve half a mind to stick a hat-pin in him. Silver Tongue, indeed! I don’t know what they were thinking giving him that title last year. Where is he, Calcifer?”
“How should I know?” the fire grumbled. “There’d probably be green slime if we tried to make him help, and then we’d never get everyone through here.”
“Oh, just let him try the green slime!” she said with a gleam in her eye.
The various Hobbits and visitors from other lands (since their portals had opened to near the Party Tree and they now had to transfer to Rivendell) tried not to listen to this slightly ominous conversation. Though some of the Hobbits couldn’t help thinking of second breakfast, what with the bacon and everything.
In this way, all the guests made it from the Shire to the new place of the ceremony, just in time.
Meanwhile, nobody had seen Bilbo for days. A sign was posted on the door of his room in Rivendell which read “No admittance except on Silmaril business.” Mutterings and scribblings and humming were to be heard from within.
And so at last, the day arrived.
Elegant streamers, tapestries, pillars, and strings of lights surrounded the place of the ceremony, which the Elves had merrily set up, with quite a lot of patience and efficiency, considering their short notice.
The crowd gathered with excited murmurs into the seats facing a stage and the pedestal at its center.
A hush fell as a small Hobbit in a fabulous red waistcoat pattered barefoot across the stage. Bilbo stepped up onto the pedestal and bowed as the audience applauded. Then he spoke.
“My dear Narnians and Earthans (Middle or otherwise), Prydain folks and people of Aerwiar, Goldstone Wood dwellers, and all the rest from lands near and far.”
“And the Wood Between!” shouted somebody in the front row.
Bilbo waved him off and continued. “Today is the presentation of the Most Silver Tongue Silmaril Award!”
Cheers erupted from the crowd.
“I don’t know half of you half as well as—well, I don’t know half of you!”
The crowd laughed.
“But thank you all for coming,” Bilbo went on. “I know it was a little unexpected to move the ceremony’s location. But what’s life without a little adventure, eh? So here we are. I thought it was fitting to hold this award here in Imladris, haven of song and lore and Elves, a place where beauty and tales and silver-tongued speech in which to tell them is much valued.
“And now, to start things off, here’s a little something I wrote for the occasion:
“The Silmaril Awards go on
The fourth year since they did begin.
The gem I bring with gold light shone
And who can say who it shall win?
“Presenting it with eager hands,
Award for tongue of silver wrought,
I welcome those of foreign lands,
Whose songs and words have wisdom brought.
“Tongues that ballads fair have sung,
And melodies like gold did trill,
Now gather here: a silver tongue
Shall bring home this year’s Silmaril . . .”
A hush fell briefly, before applause filled the air.
“And now!” Bilbo clapped his hands. “I’d like to invite the previous winners of the Silver Tongue Silmaril, as well as this year’s five nominees from whom will be selected the new winner, up on the stage! Come along, then.”
Two of the three winners stepped up first—a dark-haired man who was rather absorbed reading a large book (he promptly sat down on a ledge behind Bilbo and kept reading), and a rather battered, pointed hat with a rip near its top. An Elf helpfully set the hat on a small round stool near Bilbo before gliding back into the crowd.
Bilbo looked around for the third previous winner but no one appeared, so he cleared his throat. “Yes. Well. Thank you for coming, Mo—er, Silvertongue—and Sorting Hat. And now . . . the nominees!”
Five figures made their way onto the stage. There were three men—one barefoot and carrying a whistleharp; one with a harp over his shoulder, riding an enormous cat; and one dressed in flamboyant red, with a red blindfold over his eyes. Joining them was a beautiful lady with golden hair and a green dress, and a boy swinging a miner’s mattock over one shoulder and whistling cheerfully.
“Ladies, gentlemen, Hobbits, Elves, and sundry magical creatures,” Bilbo continued, “I give you this year’s nominees for the illustrious title of Most Silver Tongue!”
The crowd applauded, each one cheering for their favorites.
“Only one can win the Silmaril this year, but I hope we can appreciate their way with words which has brought them all here today. And now—”
At this point another figure stepped on stage briefly—a tall young man with elaborate blond hair—but he was quickly yanked out of sight by one trailing blue and silver sleeve. A muffled argument followed from behind a nearby pillar.
“There you are. What were you up to, Howl?”
There was a sort of half-pleading laugh. “Sophie! I think that look turned me to stone. Why all the suspicion? I was only running an errand—”
“D’oh! Don’t give me that smile. Go. You’re late. Go on!”
Howl was promptly shooed out onto the stage where he adjusted his beautiful blue and silver suit and smiled benignly at the crowd.
“Ah, yes, Wizard Howl—the winner of last year’s Silver Tongue award,” Bilbo said. “Thank you for coming—though you are a bit late.”
Howl shot him a dazzling smile. “My mistake. Though I’ve heard”—he looked off past the crowd with a charming, noble look—“that a wizard is never late.”
Laughter rocked through the audience. Bilbo chuckled. A certain other wizard in the crowd, leaning on a gnarled staff, muttered something about everyone taking that out of context. But he was smiling beneath his bushy eyebrows anyway.
“And now—for the votes.” Bilbo cleared his throat and pulled a parchment from an inside coat-pocket. He made a great show of unrolling it slowly and then peering at the words inside.
In the background, the hat on the stool seemed to be muttering in rhyme and sorting the various contestants and previous winners on the stage into Hogwarts Houses, apparently having a hard time with at least one or two of them.
“Aha!” said Bilbo, and the crowd jumped. “In fourth place, with eighteen votes (ten percent), we have . . . Curdie!”
Applause and scattered cheers rang out across the crowd.
“I hear you used poetry to fight off goblins in a mountain—things I know rather a bit about myself,” Bilbo said. “Even if the goblins I knew didn’t fear rhyming, unfortunately, and made quite a bit of awful poetry themselves. Well done, my boy!”
The boy named Curdie, still a bit taller than Bilbo, came over and shook Bilbo’s hand, grinning a little, then moved to stand on the other side of the stage.
“Tying for third place—well, well, you two were quite neck and neck, weren’t you?—with twenty-three votes (thirteen-ish percent) each, are two much-beloved bards known for their songs and tales . . . Fflewddur Fflam of Prydain and Armulyn the Bard from Aerwiar!”
A double set of applause and cheering and a few whoops greeted these two minstrels.
Armulyn stepped forward, whistleharp under one arm, and gave a polite bow. “My thanks.”
Bilbo bowed back and nodded rather approvingly at the man’s bare feet.
Fflewdur slid off his enormous cat, who hissed slightly at all the noise. “Easy there, Llyan, girl,” Fflewdur murmured, patting her, before striding across the stage on his long shanks, his head of shaggy, spiky blond hair in disarray. He shook Bilbo’s hand. “Of course, I knew all along I wouldn’t win this Silmaril. I’m not disappointed in the least—” Twang! A harp string snapped and two others tightened threateningly. Fflewddur cast a hasty look at the instrument over his shoulder and was quick to add, “Er . . . that is . . . I confess to being a bit crestfallen. But a Fflam is understanding! Being in the top five is rather a feat which I didn’t expect in the first place—er—third place, that is to say.”
A smile crossed Armulyn’s weathered face and he murmured something into the other bard’s ear. Fflewdur’s expression lit up and the two moved off, deep in conversation, to stand with Curdie farther down the stage. The huge cat padded behind and tilted her head slightly with a puzzled look as she passed the flamboyant man in red.
“Next,” Bilbo proclaimed, “in second place, with forty-one votes (twenty-four percent) we have . . .”
The crowd held its breath.
“Sir Eanrin, Bard of Rudiobus!”
The audience nearly exploded and positively roared with applause, screaming, cheers, and whistles, hoots, and hollers.
The scarlet-clothed young man stepped forward and swept his elaborate red hat with the plumy feather off his head in a dashing bow to the audience, his blond hair as dazzling above his scarlet blindfold as his gleaming, almost-feline smile was below it.
“Congratulations for making second place this year, Sir Eanrin,” Bilbo said, shaking his hand as the fae man turned toward him. “I’m sure we all find your ballads to be the beautiful work of a silver tongue.”
“Not all of us!” shouted somebody in the front row in jester’s garb.
Eanrin pointedly ignored him, and merely said charmingly, “Not as beautiful as Lady Gleamdren.”
Sitting beside the jester, a black-haired young woman, with a white flower tucked behind one ear, face-palmed.
The crowd laughed as Eanrin swept his hat back onto his head and moved toward the other end of the stage. If anyone had a moment to spare from looking breathlessly at Bilbo, awaiting the winner, they might have noticed that the scarlet figure was no longer there. Instead, a large ginger cat perched on the ledge near Mo (who was still reading), studiously cleaning one paw while Llyan looked on suspiciously.
“And last, but of course first—as ladies should be,” Bilbo went on, “with sixty-six votes (thirty-eight percent), in first place, we have
THE WINNER of the 2019 Most Silver Tongue Silmaril!
I present to you all . . . the Lady of the Green Kirtle!”
The applause was deafening as the audience surged to their feet with cheers and shouts and hurrahs.
The beautiful woman in the fluttering dress of a dazzling emerald-green color swept forward with a smile.
“SLYTHERIN!” the Sorting Hat announced in the background.
Bilbo held up a glimmering gem whose golden light spilled across the stage, an echo of the splendour of Valinor.
Bilbo bowed and held the Silmaril out on its golden ribbon toward the Lady of the Green Kirtle.
She laughed a silvery laugh and trilled her R’s as she replied. “What a pretty t-r-r-inket! I thank you, my good little Hobbit. Of course it should be mine.”
The Lady seized the gem, but recoiled slightly and hissed as if it burned her hand. (For of course, nothing of evil will, no matter the seeming fairness it is cloaked in, could touch a Silmaril without being scorched by its pure light.) She quickly shifted it to grasp it by the ribbon in her other hand, and put on a victorious smile.
Bilbo gave an awkward cough. “Sorry about that—I think that little problem was overlooked when we arranged this whole thing . . . But you know, I hear that for those like, er, you, who don’t like to hold a Silmaril, that iron crowns make a good place to keep one—if you don’t have any enemies named Beren or Luthien.” He chuckled.
A certain ranger in the back row murmured, “If he has the cheek to make jokes about that in the house of Elrond, that’s his affair.”
“Congratulations, my lady,” Bilbo went on. “Do you have any words, silver or otherwise, to share with us tonight?”
“But of course!” the fair Emerald Witch said. “I should like you all to know that you are invited to visit my lovely r-r-realm which I’ll be off to now.”
Bilbo blinked. “You’re not staying for cake?”
“There isn’t any cake,” said her honey-sweet voice.
Bilbo coughed and tugged at his collar uncomfortably, glancing around. “How did you know—? That is— Don’t worry, friends!” he added to the crowd. “There was a bit of a mishap with the deserts for the feast—I think someone let the Mischievous Imps in from a different ceremony, and we all know what happened after that—but I’m assured that the Elves of Rivendell are seeing to it and that this alarming lack of cake will be remedied by the time everyone has eaten!”
The Queen trilled a laugh. “There never was a cake. Or a place called—what was it?—Rivendell. Which is why you should all come with me to live in my land under the ground—the only real place.” She tossed up a handful of green powder and a sweet, drowsy scent filled the air.
Nobody was quite sure why, but she suddenly seemed to have quite good sense in what she said. Some of the audience even began standing up, ready to follow her.
But one member of the crowd—a tall, reedy Marsh-wiggle—stood up in a middle row, for quite a different reason. “One word, Ma’am. Suppose things like Rivendell and cake don’t exist and your underground kingdom is all that’s real. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than your real ones. I’m going to believe in Rivendell and cake, even if there isn’t any Rivendell. Or cake. (I shouldn’t wonder if it is gone, and even if it isn’t we’ll all have collywobbles in our tummies if we eat it, I shouldn’t wonder . . . Do you think it might rain a little later?)”
The down-to-earth sense of this brave Marsh-wiggle, mixed with the Elven properties of the air in Imladris, cleared away the hypnotizing enchantment so that everyone suddenly remembered themselves and wondered why they had been entertaining notions of running off to some underground kingdom with this silver-tongued lady. The audience hastily sat down again.
“Good old Puddleglum!” a boy and girl nearby shouted.
Bilbo sensed all of this was getting a little off track, so he quickly said, “Well, congratulations again! Let’s hear it for the Lady of the Green Kirtle!”
The audience joined in with another round of applause and a little nervous laughter—especially from those whose nerves hadn’t quite recovered from the last two, more villainous, award presentation ceremonies.
The Emerald Witch merely laughed and moved off the stage toward the exit, Silmaril dangling from its ribbon, and calling back in a sweet, silver voice, “And r-r-remember, there’s no such thing as lions, either!”
But with two creatures who at least looked partly-related to lions currently occupying the stage, and the green dust mostly dispersed, there was no danger of anyone taking any heed of her puzzling parting shot.
At least three Elves—in fact, it looked like Glorfindel and the sons of Elrond—made sure to escort the Emerald Lady, to be sure that she was safely off the premises without anything more untoward happening.
Bilbo sneezed as the last of the green dust tickled his nose. “Thag you very buch for coming—” He blew his nose with his pocket handkerchief. “Ah. That’s better. You know, I always make sure to bring my handkerchief along after that one time in my adventures when I forgot to—well, you don’t want to hear about that right now. As I was saying, thank you all for coming, and you’re welcome to head that direction for the feast! And as I said, the cake situation—”
“Oh, that,” Howl put in. “No need to worry. I stopped in at Cesari’s and had them make the grandest cream cake that’s been seen in all of Ingary, Middle-earth, or Wales. It’s waiting in the hall now if you’d care to check.”
This news left Bilbo speechless for the first time.
The crowd wasn’t. They cheered loudly, more than ready to celebrate.
“So that’s what you were doing,” Sophie said, coming up on stage. “And of course Twinkle had nothing to do with the other cakes disappearing.”
Howl placed one dramatic hand on his chest. “You wound me.”
“Well at least you fixed it.”
“I only did it out of the blackness of my heart.”
“Liar,” Sophie said, linking arms with him, and they followed the rest of the crowd which had surged to their feet to taste the Elven cooking and the famed cream cake from Cesari’s.
“Even if there aren’t eleventy-one candles on it,” Bilbo muttered. “Ah. Yes. Talking of which, I have things to do . . .” He reached one hand into his pocket . . .
But nobody noticed him disappear. An explosion of gorgeous fireworks went off overhead at that exact moment.
Because, of course, a wizard is never late.
Everyone laughed and applauded the firework display. Then, in a hum of contented chattering, they went on to the feast—while somewhere quiet by a fireplace, Bilbo settled down to finish his book, and outside, Gandalf’s fireworks hung in the twilight all evening, silver like the stars.
Silver for a silver tongue.
38.6% (66 votes) — The Lady of the Green Kirtle (The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis)
24% (41 votes) — Sir Eanrin (The Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl)
13.5% (23 votes) — Armulyn the Bard (The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson)
13.5% (23 votes) — Fflewddur Fflam (The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander)
10.5% (18 votes) — Curdie (The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald)
I hope you enjoyed this presentation of the Silmaril for Most Silver Tongue!
Thank you so much for visiting!
Make sure to drop by the other Silmaril Award Ceremonies!
Yesterday the Most Nefarious Villain award was presented, and tomorrow will be the Most Faithful Friend, with Most Epic Hero coming the next day, last of all, to wrap up these delightful awards for another year.
The other ceremonies can be found here:
Thanks for reading!