1. The Fanfic Lounge: The Two Towers
Welcome to The Two Towers Fanfic Lounge reception area. Our host, of course, is the SECRETARY. She's seated behind the desk, going through files and jotting notes, in her usual cheerful mood.
The telephone rings. She picks it up.
SECRETARY: Hello, Secretary speaking... Why, Fran! How lovely to hear from you! How are you doing, dearie? Mm-hm. Really! Well that's delightful. Glad to hear it. ... Me? Oh, same old routine and everything. Things have quieted down for a moment, thank goodness.... Yes, it is busy around here, but that's to be expected. New movie and all, you know.
Slight pause as Fran chatters away. The Secretary beams and sits back in her chair.
SECRETARY: Oh, wasn't it, though? Everything they said and more. Simply a masterpiece. Wasn't Gollum incredible! I never would have thought it! And Aragorn was in fine form, don't you think? [blinks, sighs] Don't be vulgar, dear, that's not what I meant. I know, I know he is, I just hear enough of that innuendo stuff to last me for thousands of years without you chiming in. And Aragorn's been hit hard by all this, you know. The "sexy when wounded" thing isn't nearly as fun when you're the one with the dislocated arm.
Another pause. As she listens, the Secretary cradles the phone against her shoulder and deftly arranges some papers, maybe makes a note here and there. She's on top of her work; things are clearly more organized than they were for FOTR's fanfic rush.
SECRETARY: Hm? Oh, yes, the Mary Sues have been as bothersome as ever. We've been flooded with stories about Arwen's twin sister, or Legolas's lover back in Mirkwood, or Théoden's plucky long-lost daughter. And those shield-maiden Sues are twice as tricky, because they keep chasing after Éomer and making off with the horses, and it's a small miracle if Éowyn doesn't lose her temper and lop their heads off before the end of the first chapter. Not that I don't sympathize with the poor woman, but what a mess! I'm amazed she hasn't received a reprimand by now. When all's said and done, though, things could be going much worse. Éowyn is sensible, which is more than I can say for—
She breaks off. There's a huge commotion approaching from the left hallway; in a moment the source comes into view. It's ARWEN EVENSTAR and LADY ÉOWYN, and they're having an all-out bitch-slapping hair-pulling smack-talking catfight. ARAGORN and KING THÉODEN trail helplessly behind them.
SECRETARY: Oh my. Fran, could I call you back? Okay. Thanks, dear. Buh-bye. [hangs up, rises and walks around the desk] Hello, all! And how are things with you today?
Things are just peachy. Arwen and Éowyn are at each other's throats. Aragorn has to step between them and physically hold them apart. They retreat a little and continue to shout at each other.
ARWEN: Get your fat stinky mortal self away from my man!
ÉOWYN: Why doncha come over here and make me!
ARWEN: You think I won't?!
ÉOWYN: Go ahead! Bring it! I dare ya!
THÉODEN: Éowyn, Éowyn! What evil curse has been laid upon thee!
ARAGORN: [to the Secretary] You must stop this at once! It is an outrage!
SECRETARY: Now don't you worry. They just need to get back into character, that's all.
ARWEN: What's the matter, Horse Girl? Gríma not doing it for you anymore?
ÉOWYN: What...! Awright, that does it. Throw down, Evenskank!
ARWEN: Oh, you SO did not just say that!!!
And again with the bitch-slapping.
SECRETARY: Well, that's just about enough of that. [imperiously] Cease!
Éowyn and Arwen immediately slump to a heap on the floor, out cold.
SECRETARY: Whew! Feisty, aren't they?
ARAGORN: Gahh, how abominable! That was the worst one yet!
THÉODEN: Poor Éowyn! She is too noble for such treatment. And the Elf-maiden, forsooth! Are women seen as raging idiots in this writer's world?
SECRETARY: Oh, no, of course not! Well, not all of them anyway. Heh. [sobering] Now then. Arwen Evenstar! Lady Éowyn of Rohan! Awake, for the darkness has passed!
The two women stir groggily and sit up. Satisfied, the Secretary goes back to her desk.
ÉOWYN: What in...? [notices torn clothes and rumpled hair; groans] Ah, fie! What indignity have I endured this time?
ARWEN: [dazed] Estel! How come you to be here, beloved? Have I been ill? ... But then why is my lip bleeding...?
Aragorn sighs in a mixture of relief and chagrin and helps Arwen to her feet.
ARAGORN: I will explain later, dearest. Come, let's get those bruises tended to.
ARWEN: [sore, grimacing] Ai. Suddenly I begin to see the charms of staying at home and embroidering.
SECRETARY: Oh! That reminds me. Aragorn, you have a new Warg Attack story assignment. I may as well give you the paperwork now. Let me see, where did I put it....
She hunts through a drawer, finds a folder and hands it to him. Aragorn resignedly accepts it.
SECRETARY: Good luck and all that. Oh, and you'll be needing this.
She tosses him a little white bottle and returns to her work.
ARAGORN: [reading bottle label] "Maximum pain relief." Confound it....
THÉODEN: How do you fare, sister-daughter?
ÉOWYN: Well, my lord. I am not injured, though I seem to have been quarrelling again.
THÉODEN: [wryly] Perhaps one day I will tell you of your trials. For now I must leave you. Yet another return to Wormtongue's foul clutches, I fear.
ÉOWYN: [shuddering at some mental image] May it be brief, and within some realm of decency.
The Secretary glances up for a moment, smiling perkily.
SECRETARY: Oh, don't worry. It's only PG this time.
THÉODEN: Ah, good. Until next we meet, Éowyn. [exits]
Éowyn nods in farewell. Then her face falls, and she gazes longingly after Aragorn and Arwen as they depart arm-in-arm.
ÉOWYN: Alas, the sorrow of my heart! Will love never find me?
With a heavy sigh she turns to go – and walks smack into FARAMIR as he enters from HENNETH ANNÛN. They both step aside, bump into each other again, and do that annoying "no, YOU go that way" dance for a few seconds.
ÉOWYN: [curt] Excuse me.
FARAMIR: [embarrassed] Beg pardon, my lady.
She pushes past him and exits. Faramir stands there for a moment and glances toward HENNETH ANNÛN. He frowns, as if something about that place troubles him.
Enter BOROMIR from the left, looking quite hale and chipper for having been killed off. Faramir puts aside his glum mood, smiles, and walks toward him. The Secretary works busily and takes little heed of them.
BOROMIR: Faramir, my dear brother! How goes it with you?
FARAMIR: As well as can be expected, I suppose. Though I have just returned from an encounter that is enough to make the skin crawl.
BOROMIR: [wincing in sympathy] Frodo again?
FARAMIR: Yes. Again.
BOROMIR: Well good heavens, Faramir, what possessed you to toy with the Ring with your sword tip like that? You play right into their hands when you do such things, no matter your intent.
FARAMIR: Hmph. It was a trifling error for such repercussion. You attacked Frodo and wrestled him to the ground!
BOROMIR: Yes, and I paid dearly for it. If you knew of the humiliating and positively orcish behaviour thrust upon me.... But no. My part is done now. Yours, I fear, has only just begun. Alas, it would seem that our family is cursed with these burdensome tales in which we are ruthless and evil for no apparent reason! Woe to Denethor our father, once they sink their claws into him.
FARAMIR: [wryly] And what a noble part I play in this legacy. Even in death, Boromir, you find ways to make a fool of me.
BOROMIR: [amused] What! Engaging in a little sibling rivalry, are they?
FARAMIR: Do not misunderstand. I cherish your memory with the deepest loyalty of my heart. But is it entirely necessary for me to always be portrayed as a peevish weakling in comparison to you?
Boromir claps him on the shoulder.
BOROMIR: Ah, Faramir! Such is your lot in this world, I am afraid. Besides, they only write such stories because you are a peevish weakling in comp—
Faramir promptly pulls off his gauntlet and starts smacking Boromir over the head with it. They exit to the right, laughing and shoving each other. (Aww.)
The door of HENNETH ANNÛN opens again. Enter FRODO BAGGINS, SAMWISE GAMGEE, and GOLLUM, newly arrived after the aforementioned Faramir story. The Secretary looks up to smile at them, then thinks better of it. Frodo, to say the least, is miffed.
FRODO: [slamming the door] UN-believable! Of all the degrading, sickening, humiliating experiences of my entire life, THIS IS THE WORST!
SAMWISE: [trying to be encouraging] Come now, Mr. Frodo! Surely it couldn't have been worse than last week, with the goblins and whips and dungeons and all.
FRODO: Sam. They made me cuddle.
SAMWISE: Oh. Oh, I guess that is worse.
SECRETARY: [grimacing] Oy. Hello, Frodo. Rough morning, I take it?
Frodo makes a grumbling noise and angrily straightens his shirt collar. Meanwhile, Gollum slinks over to the desk and starts rooting through the trash can. Realising that neither of his companions are in the mood to go into details, Samwise answers for Frodo.
SAMWISE: I'm afraid it was, begging your pardon. It dragged on all morning this time. And we're no closer to a resolution than we were when we started. It's like the story is meant to go on forever, though I can't say why for the life of me.
FRODO: I can. It's perfectly simple. Everybody hates me and likes to torture me, that's why.
SECRETARY: What? Oh, now I'm sure that's not true. You're an extremely popular character with the writers these days. Top of the list.
FRODO: Oh really! Well, that makes everything perfectly all right, doesn't it!
SECRETARY: You have to understand, Frodo. With all the things happening to you now – all the stumbling wearily, and going into trances, and getting attacked by loathsome monster-types (no offence, Gollum) – people are going to feel ... well, possessive, if that's the right word.
FRODO: Possessive? And they think that gives them the right to make Faramir ... no, I'm not even going to say it!
SECRETARY: I know, I know – I'm sorry. It's just that as appealing as you are, it's too easy for people to twist any strong emotion into, you know, romantic interest. Faramir is intensely concerned about you and the Ring; therefore, some will automatically assume he's madly in love with you.
FRODO: Well, why not? Everyone else seems to be!
SAMWISE: [patting his shoulder] There there, Mr. Frodo....
Exasperated, Frodo bats his hand away.
FRODO: And don't even get me started on YOU! [sighs, relents] Oh, I'm sorry, Sam. I'm just tired, that's all.
SAMWISE: [resigned] Think nothing of it, sir. And I'm sorry about the rope incident, while we're making apologies.
FRODO: Not your fault.
GOLLUM: [poking his head up] Sss! Nassty hobbitses!
SECRETARY: What I'm trying to say is, the writer doesn't hate you. Putting it lightly, she's really quite fond of you.
FRODO: Then why? Why must she put me through this? Does the torment never end?
The Secretary checks her day planner.
SECRETARY: Hm, nope, not in the foreseeable future. It's a work in progress.
FRODO: [wailing] It's already fifty-two chapters long!
SECRETARY: Oh, I am sorry! Here, maybe this will help. I have another assignment for you, while you're in between chapters.
She hands him a story folder. Frodo looks at her dubiously, then reads the title.
FRODO: "Frodo Gets Twelve Hours of Peaceful, Uninterrupted Sleep." [brightens] Ooh!
SECRETARY: [smiling] I have a few friends on the outside; they wrote that up for you. Proper grammar and everything.
FRODO: [flipping through it] This is wonderful! Thank you!
SECRETARY: You're quite welcome. Let me know when you need a sequel.
FRODO: Don't worry, I will. [grinning] Come on, Sam. You can sit by my bedside and look anxious.
SAMWISE: Oh, may I?
Frodo and Sam exit.
SECRETARY: Now, Gollum, what can I – here, let's just put all this back into the trash can, there's a dear – what can I do for you?
GOLLUM: Filthy stories! Curse them! We hates them, we hates them forever!
SECRETARY: [wryly] Yes, I get that a lot.
GOLLUM: Wicked writer laughs at us! Cheats us! Ignores our complex symbolism as balancing counterpart to protagonist, O yes precious!
GOLLUM: "Nice Master! Pretty Master! We loves Master ever so much, yes we do!" Foolish, foolish it is!
SECRETARY: It will be like that for a while, I'm afraid. But Sam's worse off than you in that regard, if it makes you feel any better.
GOLLUM: [sulking] Mrrgh....
SECRETARY: [producing decorative platter] Here, have some sushi.
Gollum perks up, eagerly stuffs his mouth full, and runs off with the platter. The Secretary beams at him as he exits.
SECRETARY: [to herself] How engaging he is! ... in a really really creepy sort of way....
The Secretary's musing is cut short as XENA, WARRIOR PRINCESS comes storming up to the desk.
XENA: That's it! I have had it! If I get stuck in one more of these god-awful crossover stories, somebody is gonna pay for it! I'll go Evil Warlord on 'em, I swear I will!
SECRETARY: Oh, come now, Middle-earth isn't so bad! Half the pre-teen girls in America want to go there. And anyway, I thought you liked fighting in wars.
XENA: That's just the point! I get dragged here and all of a sudden my battle tactics don't work anymore! I get the crap beat out of me by little men with short swords! This place is insane! I have my own villains to fight, dammit!
SECRETARY: All right, all right. You must try to be patient, though. Buffy the Vampire Slayer gets sent to Middle-earth much more than you do, and she's not half so fussy about it.
XENA: Yeah, I'll bet she's not. Get those idiot writers to write something else. And tell that simpering Elf chick that if she touches my sword one more time I'm going to rip those cute pointy ears right off!
SECRETARY: [unperturbed] Have a nice day, dear.
Xena exits grumpily. MERRY and PIPPIN walk in from the left. They're filthy and ragged, and they ain't happy.
MERRY: [pissed-off sarcastic] I say, Pippin, we've been taken prisoner by orcs and tossed about like empty luggage for three days! Whatever shall we do!
PIPPIN: [likewise] Oh, I don't know, Merry! What say we whine uselessly, followed with a little snogging and a nice romp in the mud!
MERRY: Why that's a jolly good idea, Pippin! [muttering] Stupid story.
LEGOLAS GREENLEAF and GIMLI follow soon after, also in mid-gripe.
LEGOLAS: I certainly do not deny that I enjoy swimming in rivers on occasion; but why I would do so in the middle of a desperate chase to rescue our friends is beyond me.
GIMLI: Nor would one expect a Dwarf who has lived in caves all his life to be afraid of the dark, but there you have it.
LEGOLAS: Well, I wonder. You were clinging to me rather hard.
GIMLI: That was the story! I had nothing to do with it!
LEGOLAS: Of course. Oh, and I know the plot is dull at times, but do try not to nod off in the middle of a paragraph. It's rude.
GIMLI: Hmph. Well enough for you, Master I-Can-Sleep-With-My-Eyes-Open. [notices Merry and Pippin] Well, if it isn't our long-sought quarry! Precious little help this detour of yours has been.
MERRY: Yes, well, maybe you should run faster.
GIMLI: Would you...!
SECRETARY: [interjecting] Ahem. Good morning, everyone. Back from Rohan already? Where's Éomer?
LEGOLAS: [hiding a smile] He will be along in a moment. He was ... unexpectedly delayed.
SECRETARY: Unexp—? Uh-oh.
On the end of these words, ÉOMER comes in. He's looking frazzled and vigorously scrubbing lipstick off his cheek.
ÉOMER: [shudder] Blegh!
GIMLI: [amused] Oh good. You made it.
ÉOMER: No thanks to you! The least you could have done was help me fight them off!
LEGOLAS: Forgive me, but I fear I would have only made things worse.
GIMLI: And I was enjoying it too much.
ÉOMER: Silence! Bothersome Dwarf.
SECRETARY: I apologize for the Mary Sue problem, everyone. We're doing our best to keep the population down.
ÉOMER: And yet they keep coming, thousands strong! Am I doomed to be hounded by these shrieking apparitions to the end of my days?
LEGOLAS: [oh, bitch bitch bitch] I grieve for you.
SECRETARY: That's just the way it goes, I'm afraid. Put a man on a horse and fangirls zero in like hobbits to a breakfast buffet.
MERRY: Breakfast? Where? Who said breakfast?
SECRETARY: [going through her papers] In a minute, dear. I'll see that you're properly compensated for the Sue attack, Éomer. Oh, and Gimli! Congratulations! You are now the official Comic Relief Character!
PIPPIN: Oh, thank goodness.
SECRETARY: [chortling] It's delightful! Falling over and belching and tumbling off horses! You are just the funniest thing!
GIMLI: What is this absurd obsession with mocking Dwarves! Are we not noble warriors of strength and courage? Do not the very mountains yield to our craftsmanship? Did not Aulë himself forge our race from the living rock when the world was young?!
SECRETARY: Oh, it's just a bit of humour, that's all. You should get all kinds of harmless fan fiction out of it.
ÉOMER: [grinning] Short stories, mostly.
LEGOLAS: Ha ha!
MERRY: [annoyed] Here, what's so funny?
LEGOLAS: Nothing, nothing. [snickers] "Short stories"....
GIMLI: Rrrgh, you're hopeless, the lot of you! And yet the moment there are orcs swarming in, it'll be "Help, Gimli! Bring your axe, Gimli! Save my ill-mannered ungrateful neck, Gimli!" Feh, I say!
SECRETARY: I wouldn't worry yourself over it. Anyway, you'll feel much better after rest and food. Go on to the Lounge, everyone, and take your fill while you can. It looks to be a busy day.
They head eagerly into the right hallway. The Secretary continues to disperse information as they go.
SECRETARY: Remember: Helm's Deep later this morning, don't forget your battle armour. And Merry, Pippin, Treebeard has left you a short note. You'll find all thirty-four pages waiting for you on the counter.
PIPPIN: Right, thanks.
SECRETARY: Ah, Legolas...?
Legolas looks back. The Secretary holds up a folder and smiles apologetically.
SECRETARY: Your turn again.
He takes the folder and flips through it as he walks away. Just before he exits he becomes extremely puzzled and squints at the pages, wondering if he's read them correctly. The Secretary watches him with pity.
SECRETARY: [murmuring to herself] Poor thing.
After a pause, she picks up the phone and dials a number.
SECRETARY: Hello, Fran? Hi, it's me. Sorry I took so long, hon, my hands were a bit full. Mm-hm. Yes, you know. Bickering love interests. Mary Sues. Copious hobbit slash. Oh, yes, that's more popular than ever. I've tried to get Frodo and Sam to tone down on the unconditional love routine, but they simply refuse to co-operate. By the time we get to The Return of the King the slashers will be having a feeding frenzy. That's the lovely thing about Middle-earth, you see – always plenty of loyal sweaty muscular men to pair up in endless combinations. And that's not even considering the interspecies stuff!
Fran makes an exclamation of surprise.
SECRETARY: Well gracious, dear, you should have seen the fuss kicked up over last week's Gwaihir/Treebeard bondage number .... Yes! No, I'm not kidding! .... Oh, it's not so horrible, I've certainly seen much worse, it's just the mechanics of the whole thing that baffle me. I mean, sure, if that's what the author wants to do, but you tie the eagle to the tree and then what happens? Not very many ways you can go from there, if you see what I mean .... What? Oh, well I suppose Gwaihir could carry Treebeard to his eyrie, he is strong enough, but what's he going to do there, make a nest out of him?
Fran shrieks with laughter. The Secretary winces and holds the phone away from her ear.
SECRETARY: Come on, it wasn't that funny. Anyway, I've been—
Giggling from the left. In prances a flock of Mary Sues – the typical melee of swoony green-eyed Elf-princesses, and plucky hobbit-lasses with pretty feet, and dimpled barmaids who know kung-fu. They dance around and scatter rose petals all over the carpet.
MARY SUES: La lee la, la la la la la, lala laaa!
SECRETARY: [covering the receiver] Hey! Stoppit! Shoo!
MARY SUES: Hee hee hee! La la!
SECRETARY: Argh! Fran, I have to go. [hangs up, stands] All right, everybody out! Begone! Vamoose!
One of the Sues grabs the Secretary by the arms and tries to get her to frolic with them.
SECRETARY: No! Bad Sue! Bad Sue! Go on now, shoo! Out out out! Don't make me get the hose!
At last, the Mary Sues are herded out. The Secretary shoves the last of them from the lobby and stands there for a moment, out of breath and glowering. Then she exhales briskly, dusts herself off, and goes back to her desk. For a while, she works without interruption.
Then a horse canters down the hallway.
The Secretary looks up with a puzzled expression, glances over her shoulder. Was that...? Nah, probably just imagining things. She returns to her work.
Two more horses go trotting by.
The Secretary whips around. Nothing there. She waits a long moment. Nothing happens. Warily she turns back to her desk – and the moment she does, a herd of at least a dozen Rohan horses comes thundering into the lobby, neighing and stamping.
The Secretary doesn't even bother to look. She sits back in her chair and sighs loudly as the horses mill around behind her.
SECRETARY: All right, who left the door to the Riddermark open!
Éomer comes running back into the room.
ÉOMER: [whistles] Hoy! Go on, now!
The horses turn around and head back (knocking things down in the process). Éomer is clearly unconcerned as he directs the herd out of the lobby. He gives a few of the horses affectionate pats as they go by.
SECRETARY: Honestly, Éomer! That's the fifth time this month! That sign is on the door for a reason, you know!
ÉOMER: [leaving] Ah, hold your tongue, woman. At least it wasn't wargs.
SECRETARY: [hollering after him] And why don't you brush up on your chivalry while you're at it!
Some plants on one end of the lobby have been turned over. The Secretary goes over to them, stands them up, walks toward her desk, and steps in something. She recoils and looks at her shoe.
SECRETARY: Ugh!! Son of a...! [stops herself, looks contrite, remarks to empty room:] Pardon me. [exits to the right, muttering] Dratted ... horses....
After a pause, an Elf-maiden enters. She is fair, tall and blonde, and she carries a bow and quiver. But she does not seem to be one of the Mary Sues; there's something familiar about her. One thing's for sure, though: she's absolutely furious.
MAIDEN: [gesturing wildly] Merciful Valar! What monstrous perversion of nature...! Torture by orcs is better than this!
In the middle of this, Aragorn comes limping in from his Warg Attack story.
ARAGORN: [mumbling] Ow. Ow. Cursed epic battle scenes. Ow....
Tired and distracted, he accidentally bumps the maiden as they pass each other, causing her to stumble. He stops to steady her. The maiden recognizes him, curses under her breath, and tries to hide her face.
ARAGORN: Forgive me, my lady. I did not see you....
MAIDEN: [rather rude] I am fine! Just let me pass!
ARAGORN: [getting annoyed] Look, I apologize for my clumsiness, but I just got out of a very trying story and that's no cause to—
Suddenly he recognizes her, double-takes, and stares in utter disbelief.
ARAGORN: .... Legolas?!
Legolas (straight from one of those freakish "Let's Turn One Of The Fellowship Into A Woman!" stories) lunges for Aragorn and grabs him roughly by the collar.
LEGOLAS: Not a word from you! Not – one – word! Mention this to anyone and King or no King I will thrash you to within an inch of your life, do you hear me?!
ARAGORN: [struggling desperately to keep a straight face] I'm not! I won't!
LEGOLAS: Swear it! I order you!
ARAGORN: [gasping] I swear! I won't breathe a word of it!
LEGOLAS: Well, see that you don't!
He (she?) releases Aragorn and storms off. Aragorn staggers away in the other direction, laughing so hard he can barely walk.
A brief pause. A CUSTODIAN, a pleasant chubby man in overalls, bustles into the room with a little shovel and a bag. He cleans up the horse mess and takes it away. In a moment he returns with a vacuum cleaner and hoovers up the rose petals. Whistling, he exits.
Enter LORD ELROND, and with him another Elf with golden hair and a crown of leaves – KING THRANDUIL of the woodland realm. They're angry, speaking in loud voices.
ELROND: ... simply intolerable! I, Elrond Half-elven, depicted as a monstrous tyrant! Am I no longer the lord of the Last Homely House? Are my healing powers and kindnesses to travellers in need so quickly forgotten? All because I am reluctant to release my only daughter, the Evenstar of her people, to a fate of sorrow and loneliness!
THRANDUIL: Speak not to me of injustice! How many times have I been forced to play the role of a brutal and negligent father, only to satisfy some twisted desire to see my beloved Legolas as a tormented child? Ai, the never-ending accusations and hardships thrust upon the fair peoples of the Elves!
The Elf-lords pause, breathing heavily, and take a moment to compose themselves.
THRANDUIL: [tiredly] Do you have miruvor? I need miruvor.
ELROND: [producing a liquor flask and handing it over] Yes, I keep some on hand at all times.
THRANDUIL: A wise precaution. [swigs, then gestures suddenly] Oh! and another thing – why for the love of Eru would I force my children into arranged marriages?
ELROND: [wryly] To expand the kingdom of Mirkwood, of course.
THRANDUIL: Ah yes. That makes perfect sense, considering that I will be leaving Middle-earth soon.
ELROND: It would also seem to be a marvellous excuse to hold masquerade balls.
Thranduil snorts with laughter, causing him to choke on his liquor.
THRANDUIL: [coughing] Masquerade balls! My word....
GALADRIEL enters, walking slowly; she's looking a little less light on her feet than usual.
GALADRIEL: [reciting absently] I amar prestar aen ... han mathon ne nen ... han mathon ne chae ... a han noston ned 'wilith.... [beat] By Eärendil, am I tired of saying that.
ELROND: Mae govannen, Lady Galadriel.
GALADRIEL: Mae govannen.
Thranduil bows respectfully. Then he takes another sip from the flask and hands it back to Elrond.
Elrond blinks, sighs, and gives her what's left of the miruvor. She knocks it back like a pro.
GALADRIEL: Mm, smooth. [all graceful-regal-like] Hannon le, ionn nîn.
ELROND: Are you unwell? What did your story entail?
GALADRIEL: An ailing Gandalf. Dubious healing techniques. A sponge. Pray let us speak of something else. I am altogether bewildered.
THRANDUIL: Stars above. Where is Gandalf now?
GALADRIEL: Who can tell. He never did stay in one place for very long.
The Secretary returns, tidied up and back in good humour. She's carrying some folders and a cup of tea.
SECRETARY: Why hello! Glad I ran into you all. I'll be needing you soon. There are a few writers giving The Hobbit and The Silmarillion a go.
ELROND: Ah, then they do read! I feared that practice had been abandoned of late.
SECRETARY: No, not abandoned altogether, fortunately.
THRANDUIL: Well, we honour those loyal to us, at least.
SECRETARY: Wonderful, wonderful. I'll bring you your folders after you've rested up. Bye now!
The Elves nod to her and walk away. The Secretary sits at her desk, drinks some tea and sighs in satisfaction.
SECRETARY: Now then. If things will just stay calm for a little while....
An Elf Mary Sue prances in – except it's less of a prance and more of a "run for your life" sort of thing. She skids to a stop and looks around frantically.
MARY SUE: Save me! Save me!
SECRETARY: What in the world...!
No time to reply. The Sue dashes to the cabinet, squeezes into it, and closes the door. Just at that moment another Sue runs in, this one a red-headed human girl. Gimli is chasing her, brandishing his axe. He corners her and swings. She dodges in the nick of time, jumps over him, and scrambles into the left hallway. Then we hear her shriek, and she sprints back in the opposite direction. A bowstring twangs; an arrow finds its mark. Mary Sue goes up in a puff of glitter. Legolas (male again, thank goodness) runs in and shouts in triumph.
LEGOLAS: Sixteen! I pass your score by five, Master Gimli!
GIMLI: [having a grand ol' time] Only because I can't charm them into a stupor as some do, you cheating rascal of an Elf!
SECRETARY: What have I told you about hunting in here! You go outside right now before someone loses an eye!
A squeal echoes in the distance. Legolas and Gimli exchange a look and go racing off. Fresh game is afoot.
SECRETARY: Hey! No running in the hallway...!
But they're long gone. In a few seconds the Elf Mary Sue peeks out of the cabinet, sighs in relief, and emerges from her hiding place.
MARY SUE: Whew. That was clo—
An arrow whistles in and hits her square in the chest. Ffft. Poof.
Legolas laughs gleefully from down the hallway. ("Seventeen!") The Secretary shakes her head and goes back to her paperwork.
SECRETARY: [motherly] Those two....
A few moments of silence. The Secretary hums.
Two Uruk-hai enter from opposite sides and pass each other as they walk through the lobby.
URUK #1: RAAGH!
URUK #2: BLARGH!
URUK #1: HOW ARE YOU!
URUK #2: NOT TOO BAD!
URUK #1: GRRR!
They exit. The Secretary sips her tea.
One of the doors rattles ominously. There is a scrape of claws against the woodwork, and a low venomous growl. The Secretary looks up and sighs.
SECRETARY: Oh, not you again....
She gets up, crosses to the door and opens it. A puff of air wafts out; she grimaces, coughs, and waves a hand in front of her nose.
SECRETARY: Urgh. No no, I'm sorry. Not until next year.
SECRETARY: Yes, I know you're supposed to be in this part of the story, but there was just too much else going on to fit you into the movie.
SECRETARY: Yes, I know you've eaten nothing but scrawny orcs for a few decades, but you're just going to have to wait!
[various angry monster noises]
SECRETARY: Oh, stop your complaining. And I wouldn't be quite so eager to go hobbit-hunting if I were you, missy.
With that, she shuts the door and makes a face.
SECRETARY: Blegh. Spiders.
She heads back to the desk. But she hasn't even taken her seat before voices and footsteps sound from the left. She peers down the hallway and gives her watch a startled glance.
SECRETARY: Whoops! They're earlier than I thought! Oh, I hope everything's ready this time....
She exits down the right hallway, breaking into a jog. At the same moment, a troop of Rohan soldiers walks in, carrying weapons and wearing armour. Near the front of the procession are Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Théoden, and Éomer; and leading them all is GANDALF THE WHITE. The lobby quickly becomes crowded as the soldiers pour in. Everyone looks tired and wet except for Gandalf.
GANDALF: Well! That was invigorating.
LEGOLAS: I am drenched and freezing.
GIMLI: My ribs are bruised.
ÉOMER: I took a spear thrust to the shoulder.
ARAGORN: I think my toe might be broken.
GANDALF: Now now, it isn't all that bad. We won, did we not? That is the important thing.
THÉODEN: Oh, you should talk. Look at this. Five hundred leagues of hard riding and a bloody orc battle, wearing no armour and white robes, and have you so much as a scratch or stain? No, of course not. Life is unfair.
GANDALF: My dear friend, I am an ancient and powerful wizard. There are perks.
The women and children of Rohan walk behind the soldiers, Éowyn at their head. Arwen is among them, in battle gear, dragging her sword and pouting.
LITTLE ROHAN GIRL: Aw, but Mummy, I'm tired of looking cute!
MUMMY: Brace up, love, we're almost home. Now be a good girl and cuddle your doll.
GIRL: Yes, Mummy.
ARWEN: Well, I think I would have been a big help.
ÉOWYN: Oh, shut up.
Next come the Elves of Lórien. With them is HALDIR, bruised, bloodied, and looking most annoyed. It's hard to blame him, since there's a wailing Mary Sue attached to his leg.
MARY SUE: Why? Why did you have to die? You're so beautiful and they killed you! Those horrid Orcs! O cruel unfeeling world, why?
HALDIR: Let go of me, you twit!
ARAGORN: [grinning] Having troubles, Haldir?
HALDIR: Yes, all thanks to you despicable Men! Honour our allegiance indeed! By rights I should be walking through the Golden Wood at this moment, guarding the borders of my land!
ARAGORN: Come now! Truly it was a noble end. Not everyone can say they died in the arms of Aragorn son of Arathorn!
BOROMIR: [shouting from offstage] Ha, lucky for them....
ARAGORN: You be quiet!
MARY SUE: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh!!!
Haldir grits his teeth.
HALDIR: They send my people to Helm's Deep – and I accept it. They have me die on the point of an Orc blade – and still I accept it! But this! What have I ever done to deserve such indignity!
LEGOLAS: Cheer up. At least the writers don't have you stalking hapless milkmaids anymore.
GIMLI: Or hapless stable boys, for that matter.
ARAGORN: Heh heh! Stable boys....
HALDIR: [seething] I. Am. Not! Gay!
ARAGORN: Of course not, Haldir. Would you like another hug?
Haldir punches him in the face.
ARAGORN: [from the floor] Ouch.
THÉODEN: You deserved that.
Aragorn hauls himself to his feet, rubbing his nose. Arwen and Éowyn stand off to the side and gaze at him. Hoping for sympathy, he smiles.
ÉOWYN: [snorting] Oh, say naught to me, good sir. Our reward for all this insufferable angst had better be HUGE.
ARWEN: [coolly] Indeed. And later, my lord Aragorn, we shall have a good long talk.
ARAGORN: Um. Heh.
Arwen and Éowyn turn away ,doing that little head-tossing thing.
ARWEN: He is incurably messy, you know.
ARWEN: Oh yes. Bathes about once a month.
The Secretary comes back in, a touch out of breath.
SECRETARY: Hello, everyone! Did your story go well?
THÉODEN: [sarcastic] Yes, another glorious victory at Helm's Deep. How lovely. We will need food, and bandages, and blankets, and hot water, and as much soap as you can spare.
SECRETARY: Don't worry, we'll have you cleaned and fed in no time. The Lounge has been prepared for you; you may go in whenever you please.
THÉODEN: Good, good. Come, everyone, let's find some dry clothes.
A cheer goes up, and the soldiers and refugees march off to get some well-deserved rest. Snatches of conversation drift back from the hallway as they go.
ÉOMER: Here is a question – why was the mysterious dark forest not mentioned?
THÉODEN: And why bring the Elves to the battle but leave out Erkenbrand of Westfold?
GIMLI: And what was the point of that ridiculous shield-surfing trick?
LEGOLAS: Better that than the dwarf-tossing joke.
SOLDIER: [admiringly] Hear their banter! Surely such a friendship between Elf and Dwarf inspires many a comradely story.
ARAGORN: [chuckling] Comradely. Yes. Is my nose broken? He'd better not have broken my nose.
MARY SUE: Noooo! Don't leave me! I love you! I love yoooooooooooouuuuuuuuuu!
HALDIR: Will someone please shut her up!
There is a whacking noise.
HALDIR: Ah! Bless you, my friend!
GIMLI: Legolas! Thirty-five!
The last of the soldiers exit. Gandalf lingers behind for a moment to speak with the Secretary.
GANDALF: Thank you for your labours. I hope that Shadowfax is well accomodated.
SECRETARY: [rolling her eyes a bit] Yes, yes. Has his own room and everything. Honestly, all this fuss over some horse. Messy animal.
GANDALF: [with humour] Show some respect, if you please! He is the noblest of creatures.
SECRETARY: I know he is. If his oats are more than a day old, he refuses to eat them, he's so darned noble.
GANDALF: Have a care. The Fell Beasts could soon become popular. Then we'll see how Shadowfax suits you.
The Secretary smiles and scoffs at his teasing; but before she can reply, SARUMAN enters. He storms up to the Secretary's desk and glares at her menacingly.
SECRETARY: [sing-song] Hellooo!
SARUMAN: [through clenched teeth] I am a being of the Uttermost West. I am the First and the Eldest of the Istari, the most powerful of our Order. I am Saruman, Curunír, the White Messenger! Armies flock to my call! Kingdoms fall before me!
GANDALF: [amused] I think what he's trying to say is that he's evil.
SARUMAN: You stay out of this! [to the Secretary] Now listen to me! I am a mighty and dangerous adversary. I will not be mocked and disregarded, and I certainly will not allow some daft writer to portray me as a cackling lunatic! I forbid it! Do you hear?!
SECRETARY: [big smile] Well of course I do. Your input is very important.
SARUMAN: ... Input?
SECRETARY: Yes indeed! Communication and client satisfaction are our top priorities here at the Fanfic Lounge. I'll make a note of your complaint right away.
SARUMAN: A note?!
SECRETARY: [jotting on a memo pad] ".... cackling ... lunatic." All righty then! We'll get on this as soon as ever we can. Say, why don't you fill out a slip for the Suggestion Box?
Saruman sputters wordlessly. In a moment, the Secretary notices something on the floor behind the desk.
SECRETARY: Oh dear. [picks up feckin' huge axe] Someone forgot his battle-axe again. Excuse me for a moment, gentlemen; I have to make a run to the Lost & Found.
And off she goes. Gandalf is trying not to smile (and failing miserably).
GANDALF: The famed Voice of Saruman has lost some of its potency, I see.
SARUMAN: Silence! Be silent, fool, or I'll...!
GANDALF: [laughing openly] You'll what? Have me killed off? Yes, that did you worlds of good before.
SARUMAN: [gesturing heavenward] Dear Valar! Why am I to be tormented thus!
GANDALF: Mm, I couldn't say. Perhaps because you're eeeeevil....
As they argue, a twelve-year-old boy wanders in. He's wearing glasses and a red-and-yellow striped scarf. He sees the two wizards, creeps closer, and stares with intense interest. They break off and look at him.
GANDALF: [stern] Ahem? Rather in the wrong place, don't you think?
HARRY POTTER: [squeaking] Oh! Sorry, Mr. Gandalf sir. I was, um, just leaving. Excuse me.... [runs off]
Gandalf and Saruman glare after him, their argument forgotten for the time being.
SARUMAN: Children these days.
So saying, they exit.
After a pause, the custodian ambles through the lobby with the vacuum cleaner, hoovers up the muddy tracks of the soldiers, dusts a few things off with a feather duster, and exits.
A few moments later the four hobbits come strolling in. They've rested up from their stories and now they're headed back to The Two Towers. They're in good spirits, laughing over some joke.
MERRY: A bath! You can't be serious!
SAMWISE: It's true, it's true! Naked as the day he was born, and in the middle of the marshes and all!
PIPPIN: Because that's just the time and place to be doing that sort of thing.
Frodo pretends to be insulted.
FRODO: Just a moment! I'm not the one who brought bubble bath!
PIPPIN: O ho! What's this, Sam!
SAMWISE: [going red] I did not! You take that back, Mr. Frodo!
MERRY: No no, wait! It's elvish bubble bath!
PIPPIN: Right! From Lothlórien!
FRODO: Nicked it from Galadriel's dressing table, did you, Sam?
SAMWISE: [goaded into it] Thought you might be wanting it, with your rose-petal complexion....
It's Frodo's turn to go red this time. Merry and Pippin howl with laughter.
MERRY: Aww, he's blushing! Izn't he a squidgy widdle darling!
PIPPIN: Yes he iz!
MERRY: Give us a cuddle, Ickle Frodie-kins!
Merry flings his arms around Frodo. Pippin plants a big wet kiss on his face.
FRODO: [squirming] Stop that!
MERRY: What, he gets a kiss and I don't?
PIPPIN: [rumpling Frodo's hair] Sorry. I can't help myself, what with those big blue eyes and all.
MERRY: Bother. Always the eyes.
FRODO: Get off!
Merry and Pippin laugh and give him a few more snuggles before finally releasing him.
MERRY: We should be leaving anyway. Come on, Pippin. Away to Fangorn we go.
PIPPIN: Later, Sam. Buh-bye, Frodo dear!
Merry and Pippin exit to FANGORN.
Frodo is annoyed. Sam is smug.
FRODO: "Rose-petal complexion." I'm not entirely fragile, you know.
SAMWISE: [yeah, okay] Of course, Master.
FRODO: I mean it! I'm just as hardy as you!
Sam promptly hands him all the cooking gear.
SAMWISE: Fine then. Carry that.
FRODO: [startled] What? Now just a minute!
SAMWISE: [walking away, breezily] Oh, I'm sure you can manage it. And you can just make supper tonight, begging your pardon sir.
FRODO: No! Sam, wait! I was kidding!
As they go out of sight....
FRODO: Look, I'm sorry! Sam! [an idea] The Ring is getting heavy! It's heavy!
SAMWISE: Yes, so you keep saying....
Presently Gollum comes through, off to join Frodo and Sam. There was food set out for him in the Lounge, and at the moment he's picking the bones of one fish and ready to begin on another. He pauses and considers chucking the bones under the desk.
SECRETARY: [returning in the nick of time] Hey hey! Don't even think about it, kid.
Gollum hisses scornfully at her and scrambles off. The Secretary looks around the lobby; for the moment at least, it's empty and relatively clean. Going to her desk, she checks her watch and her day planner, then sighs in relief.
SECRETARY: Well, that's over with, thank goodness. [dials the phone] Fran? Hi, me again. Well, it's noon – and I for one am ready for a break! Care to meet for lunch? Good! Ooh, sounds lovely. Okay then, see you in a bit!
She hangs up, tidies the desk, and pushes in her chair. Then she gets a sweater and a purse from the cabinet and exits to the right, humming as she goes.
A long minute of silence. Then, from the left, there is the sound of swords ringing. Éowyn and Xena appear. They're sparring, and they're serious about it. It's impressive. Xena thrusts. Éowyn parries. Xena swings. Éowyn blocks. Xena "aiyiyiyis" and does an elaborate backflip. Éowyn rolls her eyes, waits for Xena to finish, and raps her smartly on the head with the flat of her sword.
XENA: [pettish] Ow!
ÉOWYN: What child's play is that! It is a wonder you get anything killed in that bizarre world of yours! Now pay attention and stop being foolish.
XENA: Okay, okay, sorry. Scratch the backflips.
ÉOWYN: [at ready] Very well. Continue.
And they're at it again. Thrust, swing, clang. Still fighting, they disappear down the right hallway.
The lobby goes silent.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.