When you need a deus-ex-machina in a fantasy setting, eagles are a time-honored choice, if not often employed today. Professor Tolkien himself introduced them to this function, after all, although he remarked that they should be used sparingly, and not too soon in a story. Following his advice, I’ve delayed their appearance to the final act, and only used them in the most sparing way possible – as a mere decoy.
At least the Professorian can take comfort in the fact that he didn’t, technically, lie. The eagles were coming. He didn’t say that they were going to do anything in particular…you might say that that was implied in his statement, but he didn’t say it as such, and thus wasn’t lying.
He still got everybody to look up, which was the point of the exercise…and which is quite an achievement for a paper fold-up figure. These poor Orcs and Trolls will definitely have creases on the back of their necks now, that’s no joking matter with such paper-thin physiques.
The rest of the teams’ actions would certainly not have met with Professor Tolkien’s approval, though. Breaking and running doesn’t really meet his exacting standard of literary heroism. But for our friends, it’s a time-honoured tactic…as is the whole look behind you! distraction maneuvre (although it’s more conventionally played with a three-headed monkey involved). They feel that they still can be heroes, even employing such tactics, as long as they manage to defeat the bad guys in the end.
Which seems far from likely at the moment, but not quite as impossible as it would have been if they were dead right now.
More on Thursday.