"-mission. Oh, maw-wallops." Agent Selene stalked over to the console and slapped her hand on the big red button. "I should've known better. All right, what have we got?"
Kaitlyn continued her exploration of the Response Centre. Selene had an impressive collection of weaponry, mostly of the throwing variety. What she lacked, unfortunately, was comfortable furnishings; the beanbags were sad, sagging things, and the floor was just bare concrit. "I'll have to do something about that," Kaitlyn murmured. Then she registered her partner's continued silence. "Well?" she asked aloud. "What have we got?"
"I'm nulled if I know," Selene said, and Kaitlyn turned in surprise at the bafflement in her voice. The vampire was staring at the console screen as if it were liable to bite her. Abandoning her investigations, Kaitlyn crossed the room.
"Let me see." She frowned at the screen. "Legolas is there, so it's a Legomance-"
"It might not be," Selene interrupted. "Some of them aren't."
Kaitlyn snorted. "Yeah? Name three." She shook her head, pushed her hair back from her face, and kept reading. "Intelligence say there's a girl involved – told you so – named… Elsa?" Kaitlyn took a step back, blinking. "With ice powers? So it's a crossover with Frozen?"
"I got that far," Selene told her. "But then I got to the fact that 'Elsa' is from the Kingdom of Winterwood, which isn't how I remember that film."
Kaitlyn leant on the console, frowning. "Copycat Suvian?" she suggested. "No, it's too close for a copycat. Despatch job – pardon me, transdimensional snatching?"
"Isn't that usually Real World Suvians?" Selene asked. "Canon characters go to Implausible Crossovers."
"But they aren't usually just… copied and pasted like this." Kaitlyn studied the words, then straightened up suddenly and beamed. "I know exactly what it is."
Selene raised a sceptical eyebrow. "Do tell."
"It's a mission for the Department of Floaters," Kaitlyn said firmly. "And by a lucky coincidence…"
Selene chuckled. "I knew there was a reason for this department of ours," she said. "All right… recommended disguises. Intel says there are mostly just humans in here, which is good, because-"
"We could be hobbits."
Selene skimmed over the report. "No, there's no hobbits in the story, just-"
"Yes, but we could be hobbits."
Selene fixed Kaitlyn with a glare which was clearly supposed to send her quailing in fear. "Hobbits are entirely inappropriate to this mission."
"No." Selene tapped at the keyboard. "We're being human bandits. We'll blend in well enough that the bit-parts won't notice us, and the canon won't object to us attacking the characters, so we're fine both ways."
"We could be-" Kaitlyn stopped as Selene levelled another glare at her, waited until the vampire turned away again, and then resumed: "-hobbit bandits." When the inevitable glower came, she just shrugged. "Hey, at least I'm compromising."
"Compromise away. Just don't expect me to get involved." Selene pressed another button, and a blue portal wiped itself into existence in the air. "What've you got in that bag? Anything useful?"
Kaitlyn grabbed her bag off the desk, opened it up, and pulled out a second, smaller bag. "Mission kit," she explained. "Canon Analysis Device, notepad, emergency dagger, iPod, Fellowship of the Ring DVD, mushrooms… you know, the usual."
"That'll… mushrooms? Really?" Selene shook herself and picked up her own pack. "That'll do. Come on." She led the way through the portal.
The woods were quiet.
Crown Prince Legolas almost didn't see the attack happen until it was too late.
Kaitlyn clung to the tree branch the portal had deposited them on. "Because that's what everyone knows about elves," she said: "how unobservant they are. Oh, we're off to a flying start here."
"What, you don't think 'Crown Prince' Legolas would be a helpless little lamb in the scary woods?" Selene asked. She was standing upright on the branch, not even holding on for balance. "Where is it he's prince of, again?"
"But if he could defend himself, there'd be no need for… well, this." The agents watched as a 'hooded person' seemed to appear directly out of a tree-trunk and launched herself at the bandits.
Selene shuddered. "That tree-thing… bad memories. That's going on the charge list."
"You said there weren't any hobbits!" Kaitlyn protested as the figure ran around, ducking under 'flailing arms and legs'. "The tricksy vampire lies to us, it does!"
"She's not a hobbit, she's just badly-described," Selene corrected. "And she's a jingle-brained idiot, too – who uses throwing stars at point-blank range? They're a distance weapon – the clue is in the name. Another charge."
"Can we add constant creation of mini-Balrogs?" Kaitlyn asked, pointing at the two balls of flame which were standing by watching the fight. "That's Legogas and Legalos already, and we're only a couple of paragraphs in." She wobbled, squeaked, and wrapped her arm back around the branch.
Selene was scribbling frantically. "I wish she'd slow down a bit…"
"She can't," Kaitlyn said. "She has to kill all the bandits before Legolas recovers from his shock." Sure enough, the figure was moving at whirlwind speed, fast enough to raise clouds of leaves from the forest floor. Only a few moments later, she was done.
"Oh, and she lost her hood," Selene grated. "How convenient."
"Well, how else was Legolas going to give us a description?" Kaitlyn demanded, her eyes wide. "Imagine the state we'd be in if we didn't know that her hair was in a side plait? Or, Vana preserve us, that her boots were leather?"
"I'm more interested in the fact that she has a bow – noted, again, for being a ranged weapon – but still chose to dive right in amongst the bandits." Selene shook her head. "Did I already use 'jingle-brained'?"
"'fraid so." Kaitlyn tilted her head. "Question: why is she calling the bandits idiots? They were able to overwhelm a Silvan elf in the forest, that's pretty good going."
"Probably because she's been reduced to a one-note warrior woman," Selene suggested. "She is supposed to be Elsa, yes?"
In answer, Kaitlyn pulled out her CAD and pointed it at the figure. The earsplitting [Beep!] before she hit the mute button set all the birds to flight in every tree around the clearing, but didn't attract the attention of the two characters, who were far too busy bantering.
[Elsa of Arendelle and/or Winterwood delete as appropriate,] reported the CAD. [86.03% OOC]
Kaitlyn frowned and hit the device with the heel of her hand. "Must need recalibrating," she muttered. "There's no way she's still 14% in-character."
"I'd love to argue with you, but I can't." Selene sighed and scowled at the two canons. "'Are they're anymore bandits out there?'," she quoted. "Poor ribroasted English language. It doesn't deserve this."
"Not just English." Kaitlyn tightened her grip on the bough and shifted one hand to burrow quickly through her pack. "Here it is," she announced, waving a small device in the air. "Dictionary doo-hickey. That battle-cry she used at the beginning, 'Alalaes!', is apparently…" She tapped the word in, waited a second, and snorted. "Greek, of all things."
"There's a lot of Greek in Middle-earth," Selene said solemnly. "Did you ever read Jay Thorntree's mission report? The one with a Suvian called 'Pangaea'?"
Kaitlyn grinned. "How could I forget? 'It's GREEK, okay? You shouldn't make fun of my name!' Or war-cry, in this case."
Selene returned the grin for about half a second before the events below caught her attention again. "Legolas asks her if there's any more bandits? Are we sure he is an elf in this?"
"He is – you'll like this – an 'elvin prince'," Kaitlyn announced. "Because 'elven' is a very complicated word, you know."
"At least he's not 'elfish'," Selene replied. "Be grateful for small – oh, you humbugging draggletail! You knave in grain! You-"
"Might be able to hear you, if you go on like that," Kaitlyn cut her off.
"So?" snarled the vampire. "Better that than this… scragged travesty. Legolas is travelling to 'Winterwood' - that's a Geographical Aberration, if it wasn't blazingly obvious – to discuss what's clearly an arranged marriage with this young lady's father. Oh, and all the while the princess – who thinks her disguise is so clever – is, quote, 'leaning up against a tree and picking blood out from under her nails'."
Kaitlyn cringed. "That's an entire charge list right there. Do you want to end it here?"
"No," Selene said, and Kaitlyn blinked in surprise at her firm tone. "You said she's still just about herself," Selene clarified, "and I'm guessing Legolas is as well. I want to kill someone."
"O… kay." Kaitlyn considered trying to back away, but her position was precarious enough as it was. Option two, then: distraction. Fortunately, the story seemed to have the same idea.
…she chuckled, pushing herself from the tree and pulling her leg up so that her knee touched her ear.
"Vana!" Kaitlyn hissed as Elsa tore her own leg off and lifted it to her ear. "What's the rating on this thing?"
"B for badfic," Selene said, her voice strained. Kaitlyn looked at her, then back at the leg in Elsa's hand, which was spurting hot red blood everywhere – not that the characters seemed to notice.
"I, uh. I'm thinking we should portal ahead now?"
Selene didn't reply, but began to hiss softly to herself. Kaitlyn bit her lip – not hard enough to draw blood – and watched as Elsa 'lowered her leg and bent it at an angle as she rested it against the tree trunk behind her, giving her an innocent, yet deadly look.' Given the amount of blood spattered around, Kaitlyn couldn't see the innocent – but given that Selene's eyes were now glowing bright red, 'deadly' was there in full force.
"Oh, Nessa take this," Kaitlyn snapped suddenly. Letting go of the branch, she grabbed the Remote Activator from Selene's belt and hit the button. The portal opened directly below them – which was fortunate, as Kaitlyn lost her balance and tumbled from the branch, pulling Selene down with her, through the blue hole in reality.
They landed heavily, in a courtyard, in the rain, and in a heap. Kaitlyn flailed against Selene until the vampire climbed off her, then pushed herself up into a sitting position. "Next time," she said, "we stay at ground level."
"I can get behind that." Selene looked up at the torrential rain, sighed, and held out a hand. "You have terrible aim, but… thank you."
"Welcome." Kaitlyn squinted up at the sky, letting the Words of the story come into focus. "Legolas should be heading for the throne room… but the Intelligence report said the castle was impossible to navigate."
Selene gave a thin smile and bent down to retrieve the Remote Activator. "Lucky we've got a cheat sheet, then," she said, flicked open a portal, and stepped through.
Kaitlyn frowned. "No, wait," she mumbled, "that analogy doesn't… oh, whatever." And she ducked through the portal into the vast throne room. Selene's aim was apparently rather better – she had opened the portal behind a towering pillar, though the lack of description meant it was carved from generic 'stone'. Still, it gave enough cover for the agents to go unnoticed when Legolas walked in.
"Welcome! I would apologize for the weather, only I do not control it," chuckled the seven thousand year old elvin king, sinking down into his throne with a smile. "I trust that your journey was pleasent?"
"Now that is some serious subsidence," Kaitlyn muttered, leaning around the pillar and staring as the king gradually disappeared into the stonework. "He should fire the builder."
"He should also fire his parents," Selene said. "This 7000-year-old 'elvin' king is named, I quip you not, Jonathan."
"It lacks a certain something, doesn't it?" Kaitlyn agreed. "Charge list?"
"Definitely charge list." Selene scribbled at her notepad for a moment. "But the real question is: do I get to kill him to death? Only one way to be sure." She reached into her pack and plucked out a Character Analysis Device, similar in design to Kaitlyn's CAD, but designed to examine original characters, not canons.
[King Jonathan of Winterwood. 'Elvin' male. Non-canon. Supporting Suvian]
"Yesssss," Selene hissed. "King Jonathan, you will not survive the night."
"Yeah, actually, he will," Kaitlyn corrected her. "We don't know where Elsa got to, and the next time we see her, we won't know where Jonathan is. We need to wait for the morning to do the Duty."
"You are a horrible spoilsport and I hate you," Selene grumbled. "So can we portal?"
"Not unless you want to tick off the Hyacinth," Kaitlyn said. "There's charges to be won. Er, written. Not to mention I have to berate you yet again for claiming there aren't any hobbits in this fic."
Selene sighed. "Kaitlyn, there are no-"
"Yes, she came in and saved me from the bandits," he confessed humbly. "She was tint, taller than a dwarf but still of small size…"
"Hobbit!" Kaitlyn exclaimed. "Elsa is a genuine hobbit!"
"No," Selene corrected, "she's a tint. I'm going to guess blue, since I don't think white is counted."
Kaitlyn blinked. "So she's a Hooloovoo?" she asked.
"Impossible. She's not even normal intelligent, let alone super-."
Kaitlyn scowled at her. "You win this time, Selene Thingy Thingy Whatsit," she growled. "Pray you don't cross me again."
"I'm positively shaking in my extremely attractive boots." Selene shot a look at the characters in the hall: Legolas being led away by a small child, King Jonathan now buried right up to his shoulders in his chair. "As His Majesty there should be; I was already going to kill him, of course, but he's keeping a seven year old girl as a servant. That's just twisted."
"There, there," Kaitlyn said soothingly, "you can eviscerate him tomorrow." She glanced at the Remote Activator. "In fact… shall we skip? There's nothing else before the morning."
"A good night's sleep, or getting to the murdering quicker," Selene mused. "Quite frankly, there's no contest." And she opened the portal once again.
The agents stepped out into the dawn light of a large courtyard, in the middle of which Elsa was teaching ten small children – though they were roughly of a height with her – 'fighting styles'. Kaitlyn studied them dubiously.
"I don't think the Montys would approve of her training methods," she mused. "Surely it would be better to focus on one style at once, rather than trying to do them all together?"
"I think she has bigger problems than that," Selene pointed out. "'I dare so to say that the lot of you might be able to hold them off until the army can assemble itself'? No, all these children would do is get themselves killed. Messily."
"Hold them off, distract them – same difference." Kaitlyn shrugged. "Maybe they're more highly-trained than they look? She seems to think they could pick off an invading force's horses by throwing stones at them from the trees."
"I suppose they could be magic, like her," Selene said. "I- oh, nicely done!" She applauded as the six 'younglings' not engaged in mock-fighting Elsa leapt in perfect synchronicity and bore her down to the ground. "Rather too nicely, in fact. Children shouldn't be able to do that."
"No," Kaitlyn agreed, "but overall, that wasn't a bad scene. If the whole story was like that…"
Legolas came in at that point and quickly picked up the younglings on her stomach and chest.
"Get off her!" he ordered in a strong voice, helping her up with a hand. To his surprise, she was laughing as she dusted herself off.
Kaitlyn groaned and slapped a hand against her forehead. "Lack of faith in badfics: restored." She pointed her CAD at Legolas, making sure to hold the mute button firmly down. "Just as I thought: he's bordering on character rupture. No way would Legolas think she was seriously in trouble and needed rescuing."
"But if he didn't, how could she look down her nose at him some more?" Selene asked. "Come along, Kaitlyn, you're going to ruin the predictable, cliché plot."
"I thought that was why we were here?"
The rest of the scene was fairly inoffensive – mostly because all the things it did wrong had already been done. Legolas noticed Elsa was pretty, she gave him an 'icy' smile – "That's actually quite subtle use of adjective choice," Kaitlyn observed – and the pair exchanged a good deal of banter. Selene's scribbling pen provided a constant counterpoint as she expanded her charge list.
"Before they go and shoot each other, or whatever they're planning on doing at the archery range," the vampire said, holding up her CAD, "can you get a read off Elsa?"
"Not a problem." Kaitlyn waved the Canon Analysis Device in the couple's general direction.
[Elsa of Winterwood. Faerie/tint female. Non-canon. Warrior Suvian]
Selene grinned widely, showing her teeth. "Excellent. That's all I wanted to know."
"Really? I wanted to know why it's significant that her arrows have swan-feather fletching." Kaitlyn tilted her head and watched Legolas and Elsa depart. "I suppose it could indicate that she's related to the royal family of the Teleri, what with Olwë's connection to swans, but-"
"You really know how to ruin a dramatic line, don't you?" Selene sighed and turned away. "Come on, let's go find breakfast."
Kaitlyn frowned. "Aren't we following them?"
"The story doesn't bother," Selene replied. "They go off towards the archery fields, and then… breakfast."
"That's weird," Kaitlyn murmured. "Don't you think that's weird? With all the showing-off Elsa's doing, you'd think she'd love the chance to out-shoot Legolas."
Selene smirked. "Maybe she couldn't?" she suggested. "It'd be pretty embarrassing if she tried and failed…"
"I like that explanation, and so I shall assume it's true." Kaitlyn glanced up at the Words, then shrugged. "Did you say breakfast? I could eat a whole mushroom."
"Not very hungry, then?"
Kaitlyn looked her in the eye. "I didn't say how big a mushroom."
Selene chuckled dryly as they made their way back into the palace. "Did you know," she said, "Legolas climbed out of his window this morning, because he didn't think he could navigate the palace?"
"And Intelligence did claim it was a maze," Kaitlyn recalled. "Should we portal?"
"No need," Selene pointed out. "The phrasing of the scene shift means we should be pulled straight-"
Later that morning, Legolas found himself sitting in a small dining room just off the main hall with King Jonathan, eating a very delicious breakfast.
"-there." Selene caught herself against the doorframe as Kaitlyn stumbled against her. "Quietly, now," she murmured. "We're out of the king's line of sight, but if we make a sound…"
Kaitlyn nodded, but frowned as a thought occurred. “I thought you were a vampire,” she muttered.
“Er?” Selene looked at her curiously. “I am.”
“But you keep going into places.” Kaitlyn gestured at the room around them. “Shouldn’t you need inviting in?”
Selene grinned. “I used to wonder about that, too,” she said. “Turns out that restriction only applies to crossing the boundary of a building. Portals and plotholes get me in scot-free.”
“Useful,” Kaitlyn observed, and focussed her attention on the scene before them. Legolas had popped into existence in the dining room at the same moment as them, and was looking exceptionally baffled – but not baffled enough to ignore the food in front of him. Between mouthfuls, he questioned King Jonathan about the mysterious Princess Elsa.
"I can't believe he hasn't figured it out," Kaitlyn grumbled to her partner. "Doesn't he read the summaries?"
"He was probably too busy thinking about the – heh – toast and jam he'd be having for breakfast," Selene murmured. "I see we're also having stew, fruit, and, mm, pancakes." She hid a small smile. "Ah, the memories…"
King Jonathan set about describing his daughter, and Kaitlyn sighed. "And the last nail is driven in," she whispered. "Elsa refuses to act like a princess, is terrifyingly clever – another point for the Hooloovoo theory, that – and has a tragic backstory. She's a Suvian through and through."
"At least it saves us some trouble," Selene replied. "Getting her back to Arendelle would have been tricky."
Finally, Elsa arrived, making what she probably thought was a quip about hunting rabbits, and was immediately given a huge plate of food. "That's making me very hungry," Kaitlyn said. "Do you think – sweet Yavanna!"
Elsa had begun to wolf down her breakfast, even faster than she had moved in the initial fighting scene. In seconds she had gone through a mountain of fruit, causing her cheeks to, according to the words, 'bulge' as she devoured it. All the time she carried on a conversation with her father and Legolas.
"Did you save Legolas from bandits last night?" he asked her bluntly.
"I saved his hide, if that was what you were asking, father," she responded, finished with her fruit and now starting on her pancakes.
"Of course that's what he's asking, you cork-brained Blowsabella," Selene snarled. King Jonathan's head whipped round, and Elsa leapt to her feet.
"Who are you?" the princess demanded. "What are you doing here?"
"We're with the PPC," said Kaitlyn, stepping forward to join her partner, "and we've got some charges for you."
"A lot of charges," Selene amended, "but they can be summed up as follows: for abusing every language you came across, for rampant misuse of weapons and training, for the creation of an uncanonical forest, for crimes against logic, character, and canon itself, you, Elsa and Jonathan of 'Winterwood', are condemned to die."
"Never!" yelled Elsa, and lunged across the table at Selene, miraculously avoiding slipping on anything. The vampire's eyes blazed red as she saw the throwing star clutched in Elsa's hand.
"It's a swiving ranged weapon!" Selene yelled, dodging aside even faster than Elsa could move. She ducked behind the king's chair, ran past Legolas – who was just now beginning to react, so badly had the fic dulled his wits – and stopped against the far wall. "That means you throw it, you totty-headed draggletail!"
"You already used draggletail!" Kaitlyn called from under the table.
"Shut it, you." Elsa had crossed the table again, and was charging at Selene, throwing star still in hand. With a frustrated grunt, Selene flicked her hand out, and Elsa's forehead seemed to sprout a metal flower. For half a second, Elsa ran on – then her eyes widened and she stumbled, fell, and hit the floor full-length.
"That's how you do it," Selene said, kneeling down to retrieve her weapon. "Oh, I forgot to ask if you had any last words. Oh, well."
"No!" cried Legolas at long last, getting to his feet. "Princess Elsa! I- unk." The elf tumbled over backwards, and Kaitlyn waved at Selene with her free hand – the one that wasn't wrapped around Legolas' ankle.
"Any time you want to sort out His Majesty, feel free," she called.
"Oh, yes." Selene's voice was low and dangerous as she turned to face King Jonathan. He hadn't stirred from his seat, though his face was white with terror. "The king of Winterwood," she said. "For you, I have another charge: that of child slavery. How do you plead?"
"My, my daughter," King Jonathan gasped. "What did you do to my daughter?"
"Actually, never mind." Selene grinned. "I don't care how you plead. Your sentence is death. Goodbye." Her eyes blazed with crimson fire, and as the king leapt too late to his feet, a blinding bolt of lightning tore through the ceiling and incinerated him where he stood.
The castle of Winterwood vanished in an instant, leaving the three of them in a simple forest glade – Selene standing against a tree, Legolas flat on his back, and Kaitlyn crouched under a bush, still holding his leg. "Ow!" she exclaimed, twisting sideways. "Ow, ow, brambles, ow!"
Selene chuckled, crossed the clearing, and held out a hand. "Come on," she said, "let's go home… partner."
Disclaimer: The PPC belongs to Jay and Acacia. The Lord of the Rings belongs to J.R.R. Tolkien. Frozen belongs to Disney. Winterwood belongs to Allanna Stone, 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.
Agent Kaitlyn's Constructive Criticism
I actually really liked the idea of this one. Legolas and Elsa could have great chemistry together, and forcing Legolas to confront a form of magic entirely different to any he's previously encountered could make for a compelling story. You have a few spelling errors, so it might be a good idea to find someone to beta-read your fic, but that's pretty minor.
More serious, to me, are the differences between this world and Middle-earth. Winterwood has with an elven king and a faerie princess. An elf would never be named Jonathan, there's no race of faeries ('faerie', 'fairy' and 'faery' are all words used by Tolkien of elves, and specifically of the High Elves of the West – not of hobbit-sized magic creatures), and there is no Winterwood.
But all of that is actually incidental: a name can be changed with no trouble at all ('Now We All Have Elvish Names' suggests translating Jonathan as 'Eruánion'), and there actually is a place where Winterwood could fit on the map: the Withered Heath, northeast of Mirkwood. It's withered because it became the abode of dragons – but it could certainly have been an elven kingdom before they came. Given its northerly location, Winterwood would be a good name for it.
As for the faeries – well, I don't know what you're planning, but at the moment there's no reason Elsa can't simply be an elf. She has an unknown form of magic – so she has an unknown form of magic. It doesn't mean she needs to be a new, unknown species.
I like seeing Elsa built up as a warrior – in that area of the world, she'd almost have to be. It's unfortunate, then, that Legolas' skills seem to have degraded as a byproduct of this. Take the first chapter as an example: it would have been a far more dramatic scene to have Legolas fight his hardest, doing very well, only to be ever so slightly overstretched, to have someone attacking from behind that he couldn't quite stop – and then to have a throwing star come in from nowhere and save him. That way, Elsa and Legolas could have fought side-by-side, gained mutual respect, and kept Legolas in-character.
The arranged marriage also worries me. Elves are immortal. Legolas son of Thranduil has no expectation of succeeding his father, and no reason to want to spend the rest of forever with someone for political reasons. I think your story would have been better served by the old medieval cliché of falling in love with the lady's portrait, and riding off to meet her. Or, even more interesting, something I've seen suggested – falling in love through listening to music she composed. Elves love the mind as much as the body, after all – and can you picture Legolas trying to reconcile the beautiful songstress he'd imagined with the warrior woman in front of him?
I'm impressed that you didn't feel the need to shoehorn Elsa's magic in right from the start, instead waiting for the time when it would make a proper impact on the story (and on Legolas!). I wonder, though, how you intend to reconcile it with the new personality you've given Elsa. A lot of Elsa's appeal comes from her uncertainty, and her fear of both other people finding out, and of hurting others. You've turned her into an expert fighter – so what does she have left to be uncertain about? Just something to ponder.
All in all, I think you have the kernel of a good story here. You have two characters with the potential for a very interesting relationship, you have secrets kept and revealed, you have large numbers of children to keep the cuteness quotient high. All you need is a bit of work to get the story to sit more comfortably in Tolkien's world.