It’s dark. Pitch black, even—it’s like staring into the depths of an evil soul.
An audience has gathered here, and now they’re shuffling uneasily. Whispers come from all corners of the area. This was where Josiah had been to open nominations for the least competent henchman. Then a week later, he’d informed everyone of the five finalists so they could vote. But now?
Now that room he’d stood in is gone, and in its place is . . . nothing. Surely something must be wrong here? The other ceremonies had all had their share of antics and mayhem and whatnot. But never before had the host just . . . not shown up.
That’s when there is a brilliant flash, and everyone covers their eyes. When they open them, they find there’s now a glitzy stage in front of them. Except it’s somehow themed around Lord of the Rings. Lights of reds and browns and greens mix with regular stage lights to create an almost bombastic atmosphere. A giant screen showcases vistas from both the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit film franchises. There’s music playing too—Howard Shore’s classic score, but remixed to give it more of a game show feel. The idea is almost sinful.
Standing on one side at a podium is none other than Josiah, all decked out in the fanciest garments the race of Men could create. A second podium is next to his, but currently remains cloaked in shadows.
Josiah leans forward and yells into the mic, “Welcome to the most incompetent ceremony you’ll ever witness!”
The crowd roars with cheers and applause. Grinning, Josiah says, “I’ll bet you’ve never seen this sort of thing at the Silmaril Awards before. As a fresh face here, I’d like to offer a new perspective, shake things up, and break tradition!” He looks into the camera for a second and mutters, “DJ and Jenelle, please don’t fire me after this.”
He clears his throat. “Anyway, allow me to introduce you to my lovely co-host, the one and only Ugluk!”
The lights for the second podium come on, revealing a scowling Uruk, who hadn’t bothered putting on his best armor for the occasion. The audience now could also see that Uruk-hai are stationed along the back of the stage.
Ugluk turns his glare onto Josiah. “This is foolish, man-flesh. I have work to do, but you keep bringing me here. This ceremony is no place for me or my boys. We’ve been doing this for six stinking years. Saruman would not be pleased.”
Josiah waves a hand. “Don’t worry about Saruman. He’s busy hosting his own award, which I can guarantee is not going to be nearly as fun or incompetent as—”
“I HAD TO WEAR A SUIT LAST YEAR,” Ugluk roars. “A SUIT. Your awards are pointless.”
“Well, good thing I’m not making you wear one. Now if you please be patient, we can get this over with and you and your chums can all go home.”
Ugluk folds his arms. “Then do it quickly, man-flesh. I’m getting hungry.”
“Thank you.” Josiah gulps and takes a moment to gather his charisma. He’d said it many times before: if he wanted to survive, he had to be tougher than the other henchmen, to make them leave him alone. “Today we’re playing a little something I call . . .” He squints at his teleprompter. “Um, apparently I was so busy getting this game show ready that I forgot to come up with a name for it.”
He gives his sweetest smile to his Uruk co-host. “Ooohhh, Ug-luk. Be a dear and come up with a name for me.” Inwardly, he slaps himself on the cheek. That wasn’t nearly menacing enough.
Ugluk snorts. “Fine. I call it, ‘Man-Flesh Gets Catapulted.'”
“Whoa, whoa, time out!” Now it’s Josiah’s turn to glare. “That’s a little spoilery and isn’t catchy in any way.”
“You asked for help.”
“Apparently I asked the wrong guy.”
“Then I change it to, ‘Be Like Me or Die.'”
“You’re really not doing very good at this.”
“Call it, ‘Win or Fling,'” Ugluk says through gritted teeth.
“Doesn’t rhyme. But I can work with that. This game is called, ‘Wing It or Fling It.'”
The crowd cheers again, though they literally have no idea what is even going. It sounds like someone’s being catapulted?
“Let’s reveal our five contestants today!” Josiah yells.
The floor in the middle of the stage opens up as the lights overhead dim, and a platform rises. On it are five catapults, and in the bucket of each one stands an individual. The crowd whispers amongst itself. This couldn’t possibly be allowed, could it?
“First off, we have Slarb, a Fang of Dang!”
The light brightens to reveal a lizard-man who hisses at the crowd. “Thisss is most unusual. Usually I’m the one doing the torture around here. And there are plenty of meatbags here to torture.”
“He looks tasty, boys,” Ugluk roars, smacking his lips.
“I won’t have you eating our contestants!” Josiah slams his fist down on his podium.
“Not even the worst one?”
“Well, maybe, but no promises. Secondly, we have the nameless black dwarf, the White Witch’s assistant!”
The dwarf ignores the sudden light on him and looks around frantically. “Why has the snow thawed? Where is Her Majesty? This must be Aslan’s doing, no doubt. Curse that wretched lion.”
Ugluk snorts. “He’s nothing without his master.”
Josiah decides to correct him. “Mistress, not master.”
“THAT’S WHAT I SAID!” the Uruk-hai booms.
“Moving on!” Josiah says, subtly wiping away a bead of sweat. “Our third contestant is the Golden Git.”
The fae squints disdainfully at the light above him, then peers down his nose at the crowd. “What an unpleasant ordeal this. I’m surrounded on all sides by humans. How disgusting. If you knew who I was—”
“We do know who you are.” Josiah gestures to the audience. “That’s why you were voted into the finals for the Silmaril Awards.”
Ugluk points at the Golden Git. “So keep your mouth shut, fleshbag.”
Before the fae has time to retort, Josiah says, “And our fourth finalist is none other than the White Rabbit himself.”
The Rabbit holds up his pocket watch to the light and squirms. “Oh dear, oh dear! I’m going to be dreadfully late. Can we finish this up soon, please? I have matters to attend to, and a head to keep on my shoulders.”
“Haha! I like this one!” Ugluk laughs long and loud, enough for Josiah to lean away from him.
“Please try not to do that too often in your mic. We don’t want to deafen the audience before we get to the best part.” Josiah clears his throat. “Lastly, we have Peter Pettigrew!”
When the light shone on him, Peter shrieked. “No, no, stop that! I mustn’t be seen here. The last thing I want is for Voldemort or his supporters to discover where I am.”
“Then you shouldn’t have participated in these awards.” Josiah shrugs. “Not much we can do about it at this point.”
“Do we now get to catapult all the man-flesh?” Ugluk asks.
“Yes, we’re finally getting to your favorite part of this game show. In ‘Wing It or Fling It,’ our contestants will be randomly chosen to guess what percentage of the votes they received. If they guess correctly, they win this year’s award for the Least Competent Henchman.” Josiah frowns, realizing that this actually may not have been the best idea to prove a lackey’s incompetence; it might do the opposite.
Not picking up on this, Ugluk yells, “And if you’re wrong, you get flung and die!”
“No, no, no!” Josiah waves his arms frantically. “There’ll be no dying on my show, lest I get cancelled for next year’s awards. You’ll be catapulted into a safety net, but that’s the only win you’ll get. Besides, I’m not the author of these characters. I don’t have the license to kill them off.”
Ugluk stares at him for a moment, then: “What?”
“Forget it. Let’s spin the wheel of random choices!” Josiah presses a button on his podium, and a wheel appears on the screen with the faces of the five finalists. It spins until it lands on . . .
“Mr. Black Dwarf!” Josiah points at him. “You go first, O nameless one.”
“How dare you, runt!” The dwarf folds his arms. “I work for the White Witch and her alone. I take no orders from you.”
“That’s very unsportsmanlike of you. She’d be very disappointed in your performance.”
“And just what do you know about Her Majesty?” the dwarf jeers.
“Plenty, because Tracey read me the Chronicles of Narnia ages ago. Plus I’ve seen the Disney movies. Did you know they were kind enough to actually give you a name? You should submit a complaint to C.S. Lewis.”
“Boy, you are harder to understand than the Deep Magic. I refuse to partake of this nonsense.”
“Haha, you know what that means?” Ugluk glances around at the other Uruk-hai. “Looks like meat’s back on the menu, boys!”
But before any of them can take a step, Josiah flips a switch. The black dwarf’s catapult sends him flying away from the ceremony grounds, and his scream quickly dies off.
Ugluk glares at Josiah, who folds his arms. “I didn’t say you could eat him. And he happened to get 23.03% of the votes, so not too shabby. He could’ve had a better attitude, though. Maybe he was hangry and needed some Turkish delight, or perhaps he preferred cooler temperatures. Moving on!”
The wheel spins again, choosing Peter Pettigrew this time. He yelps and transforms into a rat. Ugluk roars with laughter. “Why don’t we eat him instead?”
“Peter!” Josiah calls out. “Please play along with our game. It makes it so much more boring when you don’t and you just get catapulted.”
Peter returns to his human form and, clasping his hands togethers, looks at Josiah with pleading eyes. “Please, sir, you seem like the decent sort. Like Harry and his parents! I was best friends with his father, don’t you know? Surely you’ll be merciful like James would’ve been to me.”
“You do realize that I’m aware this is the same type of emotional manipulation you tried to use on Harry, right?”
Peter grows pale. “Why . . . why . . . why!” He splutters unintelligibly for a few seconds. “That’s most absurd! Preposterous! I would . . . I would never . . . Why, I would never!”
“Look, I just want you to guess what percentage of the votes you received, okay? You’re a spy—surely you know a thing or two about numbers.”
“I don’t know, 37%? Or maybe 38%. I don’t rightly care! Just let me go before Voldemort arrives.”
Josiah sighs. “For the record, it’s 21.05%.” Then with a flick of switch, Peter is catapulted into the air. Josiah’s pretty sure the man transformed back into a rat at some point mid-flight, but he can’t tell.
“I was going to eat him, man-flesh!” Ugluk grips the edge of his podium with clenched fists.
Ignoring him, Josiah shouts, “Next contestant!”
The wheel chooses the White Rabbit, who doesn’t seem to notice. Instead he taps his foot and keeps checking his pocket watch whilst muttering, “I’m late, I’m late, I’m so wretchedly late.”
“Mr. Rabbit, sir!” Josiah waves to get his attention. “I’m afraid it’s your turn.”
“But I don’t have time!” the Rabbit protests. “If I don’t return to the matters at hand, the Queen of Hearts shall surely cut off my head!”
Ugluk guffaws at the thought, but Josiah presses on. “Look, if you just participate, we won’t take any more of your time.”
“I don’t have to listen to you!” the White Rabbit screeches. “Who are you, anyway? My housemaid? One of my servants?”
“Sir, get your prescription checked! Do I look like a housemaid? All you have to do is—”
But the Rabbit is already back to murmuring about just how late he is. Ugluk eyes Josiah for a second, then begins to say, “Looks like meat’s—”
He can’t even finish his famous line before Josiah yanks the lever that sends the poor White Rabbit hurtling through the sky with a fading cry of, “Oh dear, oh dearrrr!”
Ugluk snarls, but Josiah doesn’t let him get a word in. He needs to finish this ceremony, and fast. “That’s what he gets for receiving only 11.84% of the votes. All right, the wheel picks . . .”
None other than Slarb, who licks his lips gleefully. “How delightful! Sssince the previous three finalists didn’t like this little game, that must mean I will! Torture is so much fun, yesss.”
Josiah tilts his head and purses his lips. “But . . . we’re not torturing you.”
“Tell that to those three you just launched!” Slarb laughs and slaps the side of his catapult. “I shall make my guess. It’s only fitting that a Fang of Dang would receive 100% of the votes.”
The moment of silence that follows is an awkward and confused one. The Golden Git snickers to himself, and Slarb snarls at him. “Keep your mouth shut, meatbag.”
Josiah clears his throat. “You do realize that you can’t have more than 100% when it comes to votes, right? And the dwarf, Peter, and the White Rabbit all got some.”
Slarb narrows his eyes. “This is a joke, right? I already lost last year. I’m not going to lose again.” He starts to reach for his weapon.
Josiah notices and blurts out, “You got 19.74% of the votes, sorry about that, try again next year, good luck!” Then the catapult flings the lizard-man away from the stage.
“Curse you humansss!” Slarb yells as he flies out of sight.
Josiah spreads his hands. “That’s what he gets for trying to be violent. Which just leaves us with the Golden Git! Sir, how many votes do you think you received? Have you been doing the math all this time?”
The Golden Git sniffs. “First of all, address me by my real name.” Then he proceeds to sneeze. It’s a high-class one, at that.
Josiah frowns. “Excuse me?”
Rolling his eyes, the Golden Git sneezes again. “That’s my name, you dullard. And secondly, I have no need to do the math. Obviously I won, or else one of the others would be here. Try to keep up.”
Biting back sarcastic remarks, Josiah says, “Of course, you are correct. The Golden Git—err, I mean, Sir Fancy Sneeze—is the winner of the Least Competent Henchman award for the 2021 Silmaril Awards!”
The Golden Git narrows his eyes even as the people gathered there clap and cheer for him. “Wait, did you say Least Competent? What are you implying?”
Josiah holds the medal out to Ugluk. “Please, give this to our esteemed guest.”
Furrowing his brow, Ugluk snatches the medal and walks toward the fae. “Or we could eat him, right?”
The Golden Git scowls. “Don’t let that thing get any closer to me!” When Ugluk doesn’t stop, the fae moves in to snatch the medal away promptly, then darts away. Ugluk roars as the Golden Git disappears in the crowd, shouting, “You humans are useless when it comes to celebrating greatness such as myself!”
“Well, that wraps up our festivities for today.” Josiah does his best to grin at the audience. “Thanks for tuning in to ‘Wing It or Fling It.’ I’m sure this show will never get a rerun.”
Ugluk turns to Josiah, pulls out his sword, and points it. “Looks like meat’s back on the menu, boys! Get the man-flesh!”
“Okay, we’re done here, bye everyone!” Josiah screams. He claps his hands, and the stage goes completely dark as he runs away as fast as he can, the Uruk-hai in hot pursuit. And thus ended the strangest ceremony anyone had yet seen for the Least Competent Henchman award.
Thanks for stopping by, everyone! I hope you enjoyed this weird and crazy awards show. Be sure to check out all the others!
- Monday, Sep. 20 – Silver Tongue
- Tuesday, Sep. 21 – Strangest Character
- Wednesday, Sep. 22 – Most Epic Heroine
- Thursday, Sep. 23 – Most Mischievous Imp
- Friday, Sep. 24 – Wisest Counselor
- Monday, Sep. 27 – Most Faithful Friend
- Tuesday, Sep. 28 – Most Magnificent Dragon
- Wednesday, Sep. 29 – Least Competent Henchman (that’s me!)
- Thursday, Sep. 30 – Most Nefarious Villain
- Friday, Oct. 1 – Most Epic Hero
- Saturday, Oct. 2 – Most Majestic Ruler
And if you enjoyed this, you may enjoy the other stuff I post on my blog. I talk about all kinds of nerdy things, from books and anime to music and video games, as well as just life stuff in general. So stick around if you’d like! I’ll catch you later.