CHAPTER 2: THE COUNCIL OF EDROND SNIDER
Suddenly as they were talking a single clear bell rang out. "That is the warning bell for the Council of Edrond," cried Billwise Daly. "Come along now, Mister Grodo! Both of us are wanted."
Grodo and Billwise followed the long corridor to the porch where Grodo had found his friends the evening before. Edrond Snider, wizened and old but strong and with his indelibly matted thatch of white hair, was there, and several others were seated in silence about him. There was the dwarf Jeremli, son of Broin, clad in heavy black and gold armor and carved with battle scars older than Hockey-earth itself. There was also a strange Elf clad in green, red, cream and brown, Leipolas, a messenger from Northern Hypocrapha. Among the crowd was the lively face of Pegulagrin Took, who held court, throwing gold coins at any and all seated around him.
"You have done well to come," said Edrond. "You will hear today all that you need in order to understand the purposes of our Enemy. There is naught that you can do, other than to fight, with hope or without it. But you do not stand alone. You will learn that your trouble is but part of the trouble of all the council of owners. The Money! What shall we do with the Money and the trifles that the players fancy that rightfully belongs to us?"
Then all listened while Edrond in his clear, deep voice spoke of unmerciful Fehron and the Union of Players, and their forging in this, the Third Age of the Lockout. Many eyes were turned to Edrond in fear and wonder as he told of the fractured elven players under the kingdoms of Ergoodenow, Saskorn and Kellygrew and their eagerness for power, by which Fehron ensnared them. For in that time they received his aid and grew mighty in craft, cunning, resolve and greed.
Thereupon Edrond paused a while and sighed. "I remember well the splendor of my two championship victories," he said. "It recalled to me the glory of the Elder Days and the ghosts of the Spectrum, whence so many great princes and captains were assembled. When we, the council of owners, held benevolent and absolute sway across the nations. And yet not so many, nor so fair, as when the players were last broken, and the Elves deemed that the thief king Fehron was to be summoned."
"You remember?" said Grodo, speaking his thought aloud in his astonishment. "But I thought," he stammered as Edrond turned towards him, "I thought that the fall of the players was all but assured. They have been bested before and peace and prosperity were sewn. Surely this Fehron is mad and may simply run his course and crumble in due time. And order will be restored to Hockey-earth without affray."
"You are mistaken, my short, round friend," answered Elrond gravely. "You should fear the many eyes of the servants of Fehron, for they will not be so easily parted with their petty treasures. I do not doubt that news of the discomfiture of the players has already reached him, and he will be filled with wrath. Soon now his spies on foot and wing and in goal will go abroad in the eastern lands. Even of the ice below you must beware as you go on your way."
Grodo felt Billwise stir impatiently at his side. Standing suddenly up he burst out:
All that is gold does not glitter,
When the riches are ripped from your hand;
The Board that is strong does not wither,
When shaken by the greed of man.
A land of ice and diamond will be frozen,
A light from the locked door shall spring;
And the system will be fixed that is broken:
When the peasants are shown who is king.
Edrond raised his eyes and looked at him, and Grodo felt his heart pierced by the unwavering steel of the glance. "I think that this task is appointed for you, Grodo," he said. "And that if you do not find a way, no one will. This is the hour of the Ownish-folk, when they arise from their thrones and offices and palaces to shake the hovels and hiding places of the cowardly players."
"But you won't send him off alone surely, Master Edrond?' cried Billwise, jumping up from the corner, his bald head shining. "No indeed!' said Edrond, turning towards him with a smile. "You at least shall go with him. It is hardly possible to separate you from him, even when he is summoned to a press conference and you are not."
Billwise sat down, blushing and muttering. "A nice pickle we have landed ourselves in, Mr. Grodo" he said, shaking his head.
Look, it's very difficult to shoehorn NHL ownership idiocy into sword-and-sorcery fantasy literature. So don't get on my case about who was actually in this scene in the book because I know, okay?