“What’re you up to?”
“What does it look like?”
Selene waited a few seconds, but it was clear no more reply was to be forthcoming. “You know,” she said, “normally that’s a rhetorical question.”
Kaitlyn didn’t look away from the console screen. “Are you insinuating I’m normal?”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.”
“Good girl. Now answer the question.”
Selene blinked. “I was about to say the same… all right. It looks like you’re writing up a mission report, but I know for a fact that you’ve already finished one.”
“You’re pretty close, though. I’m writing up concrit for Winterwood.”
Selene frowned and crossed to her side. “The story we just killed? But… we just killed it.”
“And the first rule of Tautology Club is the first rule of Tautology Club.”
“I mean to ask: why?”
Kaitlyn shrugged, and brushed her hair away from her face. “I used to have this friend, Ella. She worked in a tiny little department called Author Correspondence, and she pointed out to me that Pippin abuse tended to repeat itself in an author’s fics. So if I send concrit to the writers of my targets, there’s a chance of saving myself more work down the line.” She looked at the screen, edited a line, and then closed the window. “I guess it’s just a habit I got into.”
“Oh. Huh.” Selene studied her face. “Does it… work?”
“Haven’t the foggiest. But I’m done now, so I’m going to take a shower.”
“Or not.” Scowling, Kaitlyn flicked the red button and opened the mission report. “And we have an… Aromance. Is that the term?”
“Depends what you mean,” Selene replied. “Are we in comics now? Green Arrow?”
“No, still LotR,” Kaitlyn told her. “Aragorn-mance. But the report says it’s a very slow starter, and…” She trailed off, staring, then quickly closed the window.
Selene’s eyes narrowed. “What?”
“Oh, nothing.” Kaitlyn coughed. “Say, just remind me, who’s your Lust Object in Middle-earth, again?”
Selene bent in close to her ear. “What,” she growled, “has she done to Boromir?”
Kaitlyn squirmed in her chair. “Remember that one Jay Thorntree mission? All Souls Night?”
Selene frowned, then her eyes widened in horror. “No…”
“You’re telling me that white-livered, spider-shanked, jingle-brained trapes has saved Boromir – for the sole purpose of forcing me to ensure his death?”
“I doubt that’s why she- okay, okay.” Kaitlyn pulled up the disguise interface quickly, avoiding Selene’s red-eyed glare. “Uruk-hai, there’s lots of them around, grab your pack, let’s go.” She summoned the portal, practically threw herself out of the chair, and darted through, leaving Selene no option but to follow.
Guinevere struggled to keep up with Aragorn as the ranger weaved his way through the treacherous terrain with practised ease. She kept stumbling over bits and pieces of rock and leaf though none drew blood. They merely obstructed her progress. She was short of breath and could not call Aragorn back as he went further than her eyesight. But her interest in following him reduced to naught as she was met with Boromir's familiar visage. The Gondorian descended from terrain peppered with autumn leaves and wintry twigs. He bore a pile of sticks in his arms.
"Where is Frodo?" She snarled at him, holding back every inch of her will that told her to launch herself at him and pummel him to the pulp.
“Whoa.” Selene ducked behind a tree, and found Kaitlyn already there. “That’s beyond in media res. What’s going on?”
“There was a note in the report that said nothing really changes until Boromir’s death-or-lack-thereof,” Kaitlyn told her, her tone suspiciously casual. “So I skipped a bit.”
“… how much of a bit?”
“Erm…” Kaitlyn squinted up at the Words. “Seven and a half chapters?”
Selene stared at her. “Do you have the faintest idea how much trouble you’re going to get into?”
Kaitlyn snorted. “What’re they going to do – kick me out of Floaters? I think I can handle that. What about you?”
“Honestly?” Selene shrugged. “I’d rather not become Persecution Target Number One again.”
“Then you’d better do your job,” Kaitlyn told her. “Charge list?”
“Who got staked and left you in charge?” Selene muttered, pulling out her notebook. “Urple prose?”
“So urple. And… badly urple, too. Did you catch ‘Guinevere attempted to make her way up the hill that he'd returned from’? I mean, it’s understandable, but English grammar is screaming out for mercy.” Kaitlyn leant out around the tree, and winced as Boromir threw Guinevere to the ground. “And the character massacre begins…”
“’ Would you hurt a Halfling?’” Selene parroted. “That line doesn’t make sense – she’s clearly a full-scale human.”
“Fuzzy logic, driving people OOC… we might not have to spend too long in here.” There was an edge to Kaitlyn’s grin – one that found its match in Selene’s.
“The sooner we kill her, the better,” the vampire agreed, then blinked as Guinevere started to run away from Boromir – backwards up the hill. “Follow?”
“Follow.” The agents ran past the oblivious Boromir, and Kaitlyn shook her head sadly. “I know the canon hides us from its own,” she said, “but you’d think he’d notice something. You practically tripped over him!”
“That’s what being a Suvian’s plaything does to you,” Selene snarled as they came in sight of Guinevere and slowed to a walk.
“Now, now,” Kaitlyn cautioned, “we don’t know she’s a Suvian yet.”
Selene waved a hand at the scene in front of them: Guinevere watching helplessly as Aragorn confronted the terrified Frodo. “She’s simultaneously interfering in a canon scene, and having absolutely no effect on it. What else would you call her?”
In answer, Kaitlyn grabbed Selene’s Character Analysis Device and pointed it at Guinevere. The CAD let out a soft [Bip!], and Kaitlyn held it out for her partner to see.
“I’d call her a Tenth Walker Suvian,” she said, “but a borderline one. That’s why it’s always better to check. Less questions later, see?”
Selene scowled at the confirmed Suvian as she took the Ring out of Frodo’s hand – ‘pried’ was the word the fic used – and hung it effortlessly around his neck, along with her own necklace which of course instantly became the focus of Frodo’s attention. “Who is she, anyway?” she asked, as Frodo embraced Guinevere.
“Modern-day Suvian,” Kaitlyn reported, squinting up at the Words. “She was depressed because of something urple, fell down an honest-to-Nienna Lewis Carroll rabbit hole in her basement, and landed in Middle-earth. She amazed Legolas by knowing what the world was called, got taken to Rivendell, joined the Fellowship – you know, the usual nonsense.”
Selene snorted agreement. “And are you going to say as much in your concrit?”
Kaitlyn shrugged. “Probably not. I’m only planning on commenting on the bits we’ve seen, and saying ‘nonsense’ tends to blind people to any suggestions you make. So says the voice of experience.”
“I bow to your superior wisdom,” Selene said. “Speaking of sudden changes of topic – where’d she go?”
"Hey! Hey! Over here!"
Kaitlyn’s eyes widened. “Merry!” she exclaimed. “Pippin!” And she barrelled off into the undergrowth, heedless of the brambles, rocks, and of her yet-again-abandoned partner.
Selene caught up with her on the edge of the battle. Kaitlyn was crouched behind a bush, glaring out at Guinevere. “I thought I was going to have to drag you away from her,” the vampire said.
“I may be excitable, but I’m not thick,” Kaitlyn growled back, and gestured at her disguised form. “If I go out there as an Uruk, she’ll shoot me just like she did ‘the key Uruk-Hai of the pack’.” She snorted. “Which means she’ll take ten seconds to nock an arrow, and still somehow get a shot off before I do.”
“I assume she just injured him?” Selene said, glancing up at the Words. “She complains about not being very good with weapons.”
“Don’t you believe it.” Kaitlyn sniffed. “Shot him in the throat. Since then she’s stabbed an Uruk through the chest with that sword she’s claiming is too heavy for her. And-“
The arrow came whistling through the air and struck Boromir’s shoulder with a sickening thud. Selene cried out and tried to run to him, but Kaitlyn grabbed her belt and hauled her back.
“Remember how that would be suicide?” she snapped. “We’ll punish her for it later, I promise.”
Selene took a deep breath, shook her head, and pulled out her charge list. “No,” she said, writing slowly, “this is canonical. It just… it hurts every time.” She reached up and brushed her fingers over the brass and steel of the Key, webbed over the side of her face.
“Actually, you’re wrong,” Kaitlyn told her. “Remember, she’s just murdered Lurtz. That bow Generic Uruk is using? It’s her bow.”
Selene hissed, red fire flickering in her eyes as a second arrow flew across the clearing, just missing Guinevere. “Do I have time to go and take over the shooting before she gets hit?”
The third arrow followed almost instantly after the first, aimed at Boromir’s chest – but Guinevere leapt ridiculously high in the air and took it in the leg, instead. “I’d say no,” Kaitlyn said. “I’d also say, ‘Why can’t we have a badfic where the fight scenes are believable?’.”
“Because then they wouldn’t be badfics.” Selene stabbed her pencil into the page as Boromir took a second arrow, then a sword thrust to the chest, so strong that even his breastplate could not save his life. “No, because he hasn’t got one,” Selene muttered. “Why does she get so many of the details wrong?”
“I think that’s why the CAD called her a Suvian,” Kaitlyn mused. “Aside from the urple prose, she’s not all that bad in the broad strokes – predictable, but not too bad. But the details are, like, all wrong.”
Selene frowned at her. “Don’t go feeling sympathetic towards her,” she warned. “We do have to kill her, remember.”
“I’m looking forward to it,” Kaitlyn said firmly. “I’m just talking so I don’t have to pay attention as poor Pip gets manhandled by filthy Uruks.” She cast a longing look towards the hobbits, who were even now being dragged out of the clearing. “I just want to keep them safe…”
“I wouldn’t try it,” Selene said, her own gaze avoiding the fallen figure of Boromir. “It’s canonical – and besides, right now you’re a filthy Uruk.”
“That’s why I prefer to disguise as a hobbit,” Kaitlyn told her. “Well… one of the reasons, anyway.” The hobbits and their captors passed out of sight, and she shook herself. “All right. On with the mission.”
Aragorn crashed into the clearing in an avalanche of urple prose to defend Boromir and Guinevere. While he duelled the Uruk looming over them, Guinevere struggled to reach around her neck; a menial task that she once did with great ease. The necklace gifted to her by Lady Galadriel was cracked and most of the potion had seeped from the vial but there was enough to save one life. She forced it to his lips before letting the crystal vial slip from her hands. Boromir slowly but surely began to mend as his breathing eased up ever so slightly.
“Oh, lovely,” Selene grunted, still scribbling at the charge list. “She’s got a magic necklace which is, surprise surprise, all broken now. She couldn’t just have let him heal by normal means?”
“Then there’d be no point her being here,” Kaitlyn pointed out, then corrected herself as Aragorn ignored Boromir to kneel down at Guinevere’s side. “No point other than to seduce Isildur’s Heir away from his stunningly attractive betrothed.” She snorted. “I’ve never understood how people think they can manage that. I mean, would you leave Arwen for someone else?”
“I wouldn’t be with Arwen,” Selene said, “but I see your point. Maybe if you set it up over the course of a story, but…”
“Exactly.” Kaitlyn gestured at the characters. “’Y-You have to let g-go of me now. I-I'm not going t-to make it.’ That’s no basis for a relationship.”
“No argument here,” Selene agreed. “It – okay, no, what?”
“What what?” Kaitlyn frowned out at the scene. “I didn’t hear anything too bad.”
“You couldn’t hear it from here anyway,” Selene growled. “Boromir said Aragorn should take care of Guinevere first, saying he’d heal. Fair enough, and in-character. Then he fell asleep – it’s in the Words.”
“But that’s not right.” Kaitlyn gestured at Boromir, who was giving instructions to Legolas as the Elf tended his wounds. “He’s doing his canonical lines.”
“In his sleep, apparently.” Selene sighed. “We said she doesn’t pay attention to details, right? Details like… story flow?”
“I did mention it was in the middle of a rewrite,” Kaitlyn reminded her, glancing up at the Words. “Though I don’t know as I’d edit and update half a chapter…”
“Nor I.” Selene drummed her fingers on her thigh. “Did Intelligence say there was anything else in this scene? It looks pretty canonical from here on.”
“Mm… they mentioned an appearance of ‘chocolaty orbs’ for Guinevere’s eyes,” Kaitlyn recalled, “but no, nothing much. They spend the rest of the evening repeating things we already know about magic medicine and, well, this.” She waved vaguely out at the characters. “Then there’s a ‘two days later’ – apparently that’s where the Spy gave up and went home.”
“Then let’s go there,” Selene said. She took a few paces back into the woods, getting out of sight of the characters in the clearing, and opened a portal.
The agents stepped through into a hedgerow. “I – ow – swear these thorns are prehensile!” Kaitlyn yelped as she fought her way free.
Selene hissed in pain and yanked her arm out of the bush. “Why a hedge?” she demanded. “What has that bunter done now?”
“Put a ‘hedge-grow’ on Amon Hen, apparently,” Kaitlyn reported, scanning the Words. “It’s here for – duck!”
Selene threw herself on the ground as a large black horse melted out of the woods and pushed through the hedge, followed by a smaller white mare. As soon as she could clamber to her feet, she joined Kaitlyn in peering between the branches.
The shorter agent hissed to herself, a sound so close to Selene’s customary noise of displeasure that she looked over. Kaitlyn was glaring at the black stallion fiercely. “I know you,” she whispered.
“It’s only just appeared,” Selene pointed out. “Was it in the report?”
“No,” Kaitlyn muttered, “it was in another mission.” She met Selene’s incredulous look and shrugged. “It called itself Moréfindiel then, not ‘Belan’, and claimed to be female, but it’s the same horse, Vana take it! Related to the steeds of the Nazgul, able to find its master at plot-convenient moments… I knew we should have hunted it down.”
“So it’s a… fic-travelling Suvian horse,” Selene concluded. “This might complicate things a little.”
“Oh, you think?” Kaitlyn tossed her head, reached up to brush her hair away from her face, then remembered that her current disguise didn’t have any. “We’ll have to kill it, or recruit it, or do something to it.”
“If we take it back to HQ, maybe Alice can tame it,” Selene suggested. “The meara are Lords of Horses, after all, right?”
“Maybe,” Kaitlyn agreed. She glanced over the hedge: Boromir was climbing onto the white horse, and Guinevere was already mounted on Morébelan. “But not right now. They’re going to catch up with the Three Hunters, right?”
“I guess that’s what ‘and follow it, we shall’ means, yes,” Selene agreed. “Portal?”
“I’m certainly not running across Rohan to try and keep up with them,” Kaitlyn replied. “Make it so.”
Still she did not stir. Rather her eyes were fixed on Shadowfax as he galloped across the moss and large puddles, bearing Gandalf on his back. Her belongings were prepared for the long ride to Helm's Deep but she made no move to join them.
“Wait, what?” Kaitlyn ducked behind a somewhat misty pillar – it seemed the story had failed to define exactly where the scene was taking place – and shot an accusing look at her partner. “Did you skip ahead and not tell me?”
“No!” Selene skimmed frantically back through the Words. “It just – changes! It’s like there’s two or three chapters missing!”
“Well, that’s just great,” Kaitlyn grouched. “How does she expect us to kill her if she keeps disorienting us?”
The agents ducked further back into the shadows as Aragorn appeared, placing a hand on Guinevere’s shoulder. They conversed in hushed tones, too quiet for the agents to hear – but their body language gave the subject away. “Embracing, hair-stroking, smiles – oh yes, Aragorn is well and truly ensnared.”
“You know,” Kaitlyn mused as Guinevere closed the door to her room, “that actually wasn’t too bad. If it wasn’t Aragorn – if she’d set her sights on someone who wasn’t already madly in love – then I’d be inclined to believe it.”
Selene nodded. “Details again,” she agreed. “In this case, the detail of who exactly she’s flirting with. If she could just get them sorted out-“
The pair suddenly found themselves on the plains of Rohan, starkly visible in the daylight, Guinevere not more than ten feet away from them. Kaitlyn yelped and threw herself to the ground, Selene only a second behind.
“-then she’d still have horrible problems with scene changes,” Selene finished. “Ow. Temporal shifts – why did it have to be temporal shifts?”
Kaitlyn was straining her neck to get a look at the Words as Guinevere, chatting with the mounted Legolas, moved away. “We’ve got a bigger problem than that,” she said. “She’s ‘let Belan free to roam the wild and return to them as he preferred’. I have a horrible feeling we’re never going to see the horse again.”
Selene grimaced, pushing herself up into a sitting position now Guinevere had passed out of sight around an outcropping. “So we need to go and look for it?”
“Brilliant idea, Agent Thingy Thingy Whatsit,” Kaitlyn replied. “We’ll go look for a horse. In Rohan. How hard can it be, it’s a piece of cake, what could possibly go wrong?”
“… fair point,” Selene allowed. “So what do we do?”
“One thing we don’t do is try to stalk her across Rohan in these disguises,” Kaitlyn said. “All it would take is one shout, and we’d be mincemeat. And…” She checked the Words again. “They’ve slipped into doing canonical scenes – you know, the whole ‘dwarf women’ skit?”
“I know a dwarf who really hates it, if that’s what you mean.” Selene patted her Remote Activator. “Skip?”
Éowyn readily offered Legolas and Aragorn the soup, prominently ignoring Guinevere as the latter shot the other two of her company a secretive smile. Supposing that Gimli's warning was only an exaggeration, both elf and man took the proffered wood bowls of stew.
Gimli rooted himself into the ground trying to hold back tears. "H-He…he fell."
The water that soaked his tunic was ice cold and the sun bleared harshly into his eyes. Aragorn let his body be carried by the waves of water.
“Sweet merciful Nessa, really? Skip!”
Théoden scoffed "Where was Gondor when Rohan was in need of aid at the Westfold? Where was Gondor when Uruk-hai scavenged my lands burning villages to the ground? Where was…" Théoden took a breath "No. Gondor will not come. We are truly alone in this war." He said resolutely.
“Can’t we just kill her anyway?”
“Without seeing more of the Aromance, I’m not even sure she needs to die. Skip – but make it a short one.”
"You can't keep doing this to me." She told him. The words were meant to be harsh and impartial but all they sounded was helpless and imploring, "It's not fair Aragorn. It isn't. I let you leave only to find out that you were dead. You are so unpredictable; I can't even make you out! Destined to be a king, how can you be so reckless!?"
“At last.” Kaitlyn let out an explosive sigh and leant back against the wall. Guinevere’s voice, busy denouncing Aragorn for leaving her when she needed him, was coming from the next room. “And she’s… complaining that he didn’t think about her when he was busy being killed? Does she know how conceited and self-centred that is?”
“Probably not,” Selene said, perched on the windowledge and already writing out charges. “She’s a Suvian, after all.”
Kaitlyn scowled at the doorway. “She comes so close to being convincing,” she said, “and then it all falls apart. And the worst part is, you can tell she thinks she’s doing it right.” Her frown deepened at the sound of Aragorn kissing Guinevere. “She doesn’t even realise she’s warping him so badly. He loves her too much to ever hurt her - when canonically he allowed Arwen to take upon herself the ultimate sacrifice an elf can make? He has a ‘carefree grin’ - on the eve of the battle of the Hornburg, when all of Middle-earth is at stake? This is not Aragorn.” The agent sat down on a nearby bed with a thump. “It’s not even Movie!Aragorn at his worst. It’s… a fantasy.”
“Badfic,” Selene said. “Suvian.” She jabbed a pen upwards at the Words. “She thinks of Middle-earth as more real than her entire previous life. She thinks that having her heart broken once means she should run away to an entirely different universe - and that having done that, there is no way anything can go wrong. She has unreasonable expectations, and twists the canon to make them work.”
“Right,” Kaitlyn agreed. “Badfic. Suvian.” She tilted her head, listening. “Gone?”
“Gone.” Selene hopped down to the floor, turned, and looked out at the darkening sky. “Does that look ‘solemn and ominous’ to you?”
“Absolutely,” Kaitlyn agreed absently. She tugged the door open a crack and peered through; the room was definitely empty. “Any idea where they’ve gone?”
Selene squinted up at the Words. “We’ve got a lot of urple, and then… the armoury. I think we’re back to ripping off the movie.”
“At least we’ll know what’s going on. Come on.” Kaitlyn ducked through the doorway, then out into the corridor beyond.
The sight of two Uruk-hai walking purposefully through the hallways of the Hornburg should have been turning heads left, right, and centre. The fact that it didn’t was down to the PPC’s canon-friendly nature - to save itself from damage, the canon was willing (if such a word can be used of a non-intelligent entity) to keep the agents from being noticed by its own, unless they drew attention to themselves. The same, unfortunately, did not apply to Suvians and other OCs, but in Helm’s Deep there were more than enough hiding places.
Kaitlyn stepped into the armoury just as Aragorn yelled his movie line, “Then I shall die as one of them!” She ducked behind a rack of armour as Isildur’s Heir stomped past, and heard Selene’s yelp as she dodged out of his way.
Ever ready to claim the focus of the scene for herself, Guinevere declared that Rohan had never fallen to the enemy - “That’s a flat-out lie, what about Wulf?” Kaitlyn muttered - and ran after Aragorn. Kaitlyn tensed, expecting an outcry as the Suvian noticed Selene, but there was nothing.
The reason became clear when Kaitlyn followed her out. Selene had grabbed a cloak from a passing warrior, then ducked to avoid his gaze as he swung round. The canon shielding fell back into place, and he continued on his way - leaving Selene as a safely anonymous figure in the hall.
“Nice trick,” Kaitlyn said. “Don’t suppose you considered getting me one?”
“Now why,” Selene wondered, “would I do that?”
“‘s what I thought. Come on.”
Aragorn leaned on the fortress staring aimlessly into the darkness. His elbows were rigid underneath the cold stone.
The agents stopped in the doorway and stared in horror and amazement. True to the Words, Aragorn was leaning against the wall of the Hornburg, and some trick of perspective made it seem as if he had grown large enough to rest his hands on the topmost turret. He couldn’t, of course - which may have been more to do with the fact that his arms were buried elbow-deep in the stonework.
“I’m not surprised they’re rigid, stuck in there!” Kaitlyn whispered, trying desperately to hold back a giggle. “What was he thinking?”
Selene tilted her head, listening to the characters as they spoke. “That he wants to see the sunrise,” she reported. “Apparently he doesn’t get to very often - and Guinevere’s only seen it once.”
“I know, believe me.” Selene sighed. “Details. It’s always the details.”
“And the urple,” Kaitlyn agreed. “Hey, speaking of, let me see your charge list a minute.”
Selene’s eyes narrowed. “Speaking of urple? I’ve been to OFUM, I know what your favourite hobbits get up to…”
“Don’t be mean,” Kaitlyn chided. “Come on, I just want to read it.”
“... all right.” Selene handed over the notepad, and Kaitlyn flicked through it as Aragorn and Guinevere discussed the fact that war is bad, and Guinevere told Aragorn to give the Rohirrim hope - “which might be tricky, since she’s twisted Hope beyond all recognition,” Selene muttered.
“That was pretty good,” Kaitlyn said, not looking up. “I mean, jokes about Aragorn’s names aren’t exactly new, but that one was pretty smooth.”
“I do my best,” Selene said, stepping back into the shadows as Aragorn kissed Guinevere on the lips and left. The Suvian lingered for a few moments, then headed towards the other door.
“Thanks,” Kaitlyn said suddenly, and, “Catch!” Selene’s arm whipped out, snagging the notebook out of the air - and then she felt her cloak slip away, and turned to glare at Kaitlyn.
“That’s mine,” the vampire hissed. “Go get your own.”
“No time,” Kaitlyn said cheerfully, jogging out onto the balcony. “Got a job to do. Catch you later!”
Now unoccupied, Guinevere sought to wander aimlessly.
Drawing her purloined cloak tightly around herself, Kaitlyn hurried after Guinevere. She caught up with her halfway down a corridor. “Lady Guinevere,” she called, pitching her voice as high as her Uruk throat would allow it.
Guinevere turned her pale face upon the newcomer, a deep furrow wending its way across her high forehead. “What would you seek of me?” she asked gently, wondering at the newcomer’s strange manner and mode of dress.
Kaitlyn winced as the urple prose washed over her. “You shouldn’t be here,” she said, then held up a hand as Guinevere went to reply. “I don’t mean this corridor. Middle-earth. You shouldn’t be here.”
Guinevere’s chocolaty orbs widened, the dim light catching in them and throwing back brilliant iridescent highlights. “I know it,” she declared, gazing upon her new-found companion. “I fell… and yet at the same time it seems as if I should be here. I have a purpose here – friends – Aragorn…”
Kaitlyn shook her head, trying to clear it. “Guinevere. Since you arrived, you’ve consistently ignored the details that make Middle-earth work, in favour of your own idea of what’s right. You’ve torn the people you call friends away from their destined paths with neither rhyme nor reason. You’ve- well, your prose is frankly terrifying, but I don’t expect you to know what that means. You force history into new shapes, and then expect it to continue on its old path regardless. You’ve turned Aragorn into someone other than himself. You are, unmistakably, a Suvian.”
She took a deep breath. “And so I offer you a choice. You can go home – I have the power to take you there. And for the rest of your life, you can look back on this adventure. We’ll fix what you’ve broken, and it will all be over.”
Guinevere shook her weary head, her eyes flushed with tears as she dismissed the unseen woman’s offer. “To forsake my friends at this juncture would be faithless. What other option do you present to me?”
“To refuse to listen,” said Kaitlyn quietly. “And if you do, I’ll stop you. Guinevere… it’s better this way. Please. Just come with me, and I’ll take you home.”
Guinevere drew herself up tall and fair, a vision from the Elder Days if any had been there to witness it. “I shall not abandon my friends,” she declaimed, holding one hand high, a fierce light flashing in her eyes. Her other hand rose to cover her heart. “And I could never leave Aragorn. I love- urk!”
Kaitlyn pulled her dagger back out of Guinevere’s stomach, took a moment to re-aim, then drove it up under her ribs with a sharp thrust. “I was afraid you’d say that,” she told the dying Suvian with a sigh. “And I understand, I really do. But the canon is more important than your whims.”
Behind her, she heard soft footsteps, and then Selene’s voice. “You didn’t have to kill her,” the vampire said.
“Yes,” Kaitlyn murmured, “I did.”
“No, I mean: you could have let me do it.”
Kaitlyn shrugged and got to her feet. “You got the last one,” she told her partner. “Now, since we don’t want a random body lying around the Hornburg – can you chuck it through a portal out onto the battlefield? No-one will notice it after a few thousand orcs march over it.”
“Not a problem,” Selene said, giving Guinevere’s body a thoughtful look. “Would you really have done it – taken her home?”
“If she’d accepted? Probably.” Kaitlyn stepped aside as Selene opened the portal and kicked the corpse through. “Thanks. And now… Boromir.”
Selene swallowed hard. “Right. Boromir.”
Boromir heaved a breath and smiled as he relished in the warmth of his home. He began to muse on his past, his family, his life so far, and absentmindedly pressed a hand to his aching shoulder. Then a sharp pain blossomed in his chest, and he gasped.
“He’s reverting,” growled a deep voice as the Captain of Gondor stumbled back against the stone wall, his legs no longer able to hold his weight. “With her gone, he’s snapping back to canon.”
“I can see that,” a second voice snapped, and an Uruk stepped out of a nearby doorway to stare at Boromir. As the pain spread to his hip, he was astonished to see that the filthy creature actually seemed to be crying.
“We need to get him back to Amon Hen,” the first voice said, its source revealed to be a second Uruk. “If we time it right, Aragorn will never know he was gone.”
The crying Uruk stared down at Boromir as blood welled under his fingertips, the wound in his shoulder re-opening, and additional injuries appearing on his chest and side. “We have to do something for him,” it – she, Boromir was somehow certain – wept. “Painkillers, or-“
“All we’d achieve would be to diminish his sacrifice,” the other Uruk told her. “Selene – he’ll go to his death with the memory of these happy times. That’s all we can do for him.”
The Uruks flinched back as arrows suddenly appeared in Boromir’s wounds, and the Steward’s son fell heavily to the flagstones. “Please,” he groaned, holding out a hand towards the watchers – they couldn’t actually be Uruk-hai, not the way they were talking. “Help me…”
The first Uruk who had appeared pulled a metallic contraption from its belt and pointed it at him. “I can’t,” she sobbed, and blue light enfolded the son of Denethor.
Disclaimer: The PPC belongs to Jay and Acacia. The Lord of the Rings belongs to Tolkien, and the movie version to Jackson. And So The Journey Begins belongs to The Italian Rose, and is quoted, paraphrased and dissected here for the purposes of parody and humour; no claim of ownership is made by Huinesoron or any other members of the PPC.
And So The Journey Begins (chapters 8-13)
Huinesoron's Author's Note: So, one mission in and I've already been reported as abusive. I think this is a misunderstanding of the FF.net terms of service; though I don't know precisely how it has been reported, these are a few of the options I can see:
Ultimately, these missions are written to serve two purposes: to entertain, and to teach. If you see something that amuses you, I'm fulfilling the first part. If you see something that makes you recognise a flaw in your own writing, I'm succeeding at the second. And if all you see is that Kaitlyn and Selene are picking apart a real person's story in order to make their points - then apparently I'm failing at both.
Agent Kaitlyn’s Constructive Criticism
One of the things that most impressed me about this story was how hard you’ve tried to emulate Tolkien’s writing style. In fact, you’ve tried rather too hard: you have far too many adjectives and adverbs, and use many more words than you need. As an example, the sentence ‘His body was battered with blood and grit all over his skin and clothes but none of that mattered because he still drew breath’ could be far more concisely written, ‘Battered and bloodstained though he was, he still stood and fought.’ One of the most important skills for a writer to learn is how to use fewer words to say more.
You would also benefit from paying attention to the details. In the broad strokes, your story – the portion of it that I went through – isn’t all that bad, but the small details betray you at every turn. Guinevere takes the Ring from Frodo and gives it straight back. She takes ten seconds to nock an arrow, but her opponent doesn’t fire a single shot in that time. These are not issues that would affect the flow of the story if they were corrected – they mostly have no impact outside the line they’re written on – but fixing them would make it vastly more readable.
I can see that you’ve tried to have events altered by the changes to the story, and I’m impressed by your restraint in keeping the changes to a minimum. Unfortunately, like with the writing style, you’ve gone rather too far: you have the Three Hunters run off despite having two wounded comrades to care for, and have Boromir’s assistance at the Hornburg simply replace the film-canon Elves, rather than being a significant force. I know it makes things more difficult for you as a writer if you allow significant changes to events – but if you respect the logic of the world, sometimes you have to allow it to make those changes.
All in all, I think the idea your story centres around – Boromir being injured and returning to Minas Tirith, rather than dying at Amon Hen – has a great deal of potential. Ultimately, it isn’t the broad outlines that cause you trouble – it’s the details of how you take it on.