This mission is, as the observant will have noticed, the return of Agent Selene to the team. Precisely what she did during her time off, I have no idea. It's also worth noting that the original story is a lot longer than the mission makes it look. It's also a lot worse, but that's standard. ~Terri Ryan, DOGA Archivist
by Spirit Star
Dafydd wandered back to the response centre, meandering through the grey corridors, idly dreaming his dreams. Of course, as he was in no hurry to arrive at his destination, he was there within seconds. Opening the door, he stepped through and was greeted by the sight of someone he hadn’t seen in a long time.
Selene was slumped in the corner of the room, looking more tired than Dafydd had ever seen her before. Still, she was still glaring at him, and he did have a crossbow aimed at his head so she was obviously still mostly herself. Dafydd’s well-honed preservation instincts kicked in.
Selene raised an eyebrow at this performance and then put her crossbow down next to her, checking that the safety catch was on. Dafydd took this as a good sign and inched further into the room, Thanduril flapping forward to meet him. The two agents stared at each other before Selene broke the silence and said, “I’m sorry I shot at you. Thank you for the crossbow, anyway; it was a thoughtful gift.”
Dafydd relaxed a bit more. Remembering Vemi’s reaction to what he said he had done, he felt as if he should apologise again.
“I’m sorry for whatever I did wrong, I didn’t mean to do anything worthy of being shot at.”
Selene closed her eyes and breathed in deeply, trying to regain her composure. The skills of self-control she had honed over centuries had been severely atrophied over the past month, and she did not want to lose those skills completely. She replied, “As a note for the future, if I come back from having a mutant plant lecture me on restraint and camaraderie, threaten me with even more probation, send me for counselling and group therapy, and <I>then</I> reveal that my food has been drugged for at least six weeks, it’s not a good idea to say, ‘Oh, you got off lightly.’”
Dafydd winced, and was about to apologise again when he was cut off by the sound of a plot device masquerading as the console.
Dafydd went over to the console, grateful for the interruption and wondering if Selene would yell at him if he asked about the drugging business. However, she uncurled from her corner to come and read over his shoulder, and her whole demeanour spoke of ‘Back to business’ in a way that was apparent even to Dafydd’s lack of people-knowledge.
“What on Earth, Arda or anywhere sane is this?” Selene spluttered. Rather than giving the obvious answer – that there was no room for anywhere sane in a 'Suefic – Dafydd read out the summary.
“‘AUTHOR'S NOTE, (please read the note even if you don't read the fic itself) Adariel, a trapped elven princess, longs for freedom. When she hears of the Fellowship, her heart leads her there and to the one who will teach her what it is to love and be loved’ – Well, that sounds like a Classic Non-Canon Location Badfic.”
“Whatever it is, it needs killing. Or maybe I just need to kill.” Selene growled, checking the crossbow. Dafydd patted her shoulder in a vaguely comforting manner.
“Don’t worry, you can maul this one all you like. I’m sure there are more non-canon characters you can kill, too.”
Selene grinned at him, then hesitated with a thoughtful look upon her face as Dafydd bustled around getting stuff together and opening the portal.
“Dafydd, there’s something I have to tell you - ” she started to say, but he hadn’t heard her and had already gone through the portal. Sighing, she grabbed her pack and followed.
They arrived in the 'fic inside a beautiful wood, beautiful but unusual, as all the trees seemed to be gilded. Both Agents shuddered to hear the author’s note booming above their heads and, seasoned Agents though they were, the first paragraph drew an immediate and incensed reaction.
It has been long said that for each race there is a most beautiful maiden. For the dwarves, it is Pegeli of Moria (alas, the tragedy of her death; Dwarf maidens are hard to come by). For Man it is Rowan of the White City. For hobbits, it is Hopin of The Shire (name after a rare herb that grew there). For Wizards, it is Gwendelle the Silver who passed away into the West thus long ago. For Elves, it is Adariel of Lakewood.
“Does the name ‘Luthien’ mean anything to you, you JINGLE-BRAINED BLOODY SUVIANS?!” Selene yelled to the sky, as Dafydd anxiously looked around for lightning coming down. When the sky remained mercifully clear, he instead looked at the words again.
“Oh, how nice, apparently there are female 'wizards'. And none of these names are accurate to their cultures either.”
Selene turned back to him, thankfully her eyes were not glowing red. “Does Adariel actually mean anything?”
Dafydd considered this for a moment. “Well, in Sindarin ‘Adar’ is ‘father’, and I ‘–iel’ is a Quenya suffix meaning ‘daughter’. So it’s a horrifying mix meaning ‘daughter of father’.”
“Hmm… That or it means: ‘I’m going to take Galadriel’s name and mangle it.’”
“How true." Dafydd looked out at the trees for a moment, and then asked, suddenly, "What was that word you used earlier? Jingle-brained? I’ve never heard it before.”
At his enquiry Selene looked slightly embarrassed. “Erm... It’s actually 1800’s slang for an idiot.”
Dafydd blinked. “Why are you using slang from more than 200 years ago?”
“It was the first thing that came to mind?”
A raised eyebrow was all the reply Dafydd gave as Selene coughed nervously before saying, “Speaking of that, there’s something you should know.”
Her partner glanced at the Words. “Can’t this wait?”
“Not really. I’m a vampire.”
Dafydd’s eyebrow shot skyward even further as he regarded her again. After a pause he said, “... you don’t <I>look</I> like a vampire.”
Selene rolled her eyes. “And what do vampires look like then?”
Dafydd shrugged. "You know, bat wings, iron claws, that sort of thing. And they smell."
Realisation dawned on Selene and she smiled. “I’m not the Thuringwethil type of vampire you know. I’m more of the Bram Stoker type of vampire. You know, daywalking, can control the weather, little bit psychopathic.”
“Ah, I see.” Dafydd nodded, thought for a moment, and then added, "Yes, I can see that."
Selene narrowed her eyes and regarded him critically. He seemed to be taking this very well, even for an assassin. Most mortals would be backing away by now; even a PPCer would have had more of a reaction than this. Unless...
“Are you an immortal?”
Dafydd’s eyes widened at this unexpected question, but he recovered quickly and nodded.
“You know, that explains a lot. So you’re an elf?”
Again, Dafydd nodded, but all further conversation was cut off by the story moving on. Both of them listened in silence for a while to the melodramatic introduction.
<I>"Whispers pass among Elven ears like the breeze that swirls the leaves. Adariel of Lakewood, the fairest of the fair. But alas. The coldest heart of Elf lore. Never had anybody seen her smile. Never had anybody seen her laugh. Never had anybody seen her cry.</I>
“Oh come on, ‘fairest of the fair’ and ‘coldest heart of lore’ are far, far too clichéd,” commented Selene.
“Employing excessive melodramatic clichés,” Dafydd muttered as he started to scribble down the charge list.
Adariel the Elven Princess of Lakewood was as cold as ice, as emotionless as glass. Nobody passed through Lakewood without caution. Prisoners brought in front of Adariel were never seen again.
It was not long before Mother Elves cautioned their children with stories that scared them. "Beware of Adariel of Lakewood. Beware the Maiden of Lakewood. She whose heart has frozen will have yours taken too."
This saying had a double meaning. Face on, it meant that she was merciless and tyrant-like. But like many who are Beautiful, Adariel had won many hearts of young elves only to crush them, have them stamped on and thrown away. Lakewood was a city where only Maidens thrived and all others slunk with caution.
Not surprisingly such talk reached the ears of Adariel herself.
“Why does beautiful deserve a capital letter?” Selene asked. Dafydd shrugged, and turned back to watching the story.
"I be not cold, but lonely," she whispered to herself in the privacy of her own window. She hated the confinement of Lakewood. Day after day, she watched young Elven men practice sword skills, archery while Maidens sat quietly upon the tree towers watching, although the occasional one joined in. Adariel could do no such thing.
From their hiding place behind the trees Dafydd groaned. “Who in Arda actually speaks like that?”
Tis’ naught but false Olde English,” Selene replied, looking at the limpid-eyed languid elves with disgust.
"As the Maiden of Lakewood, you must know that you set the standard of behaviour," said her Father, the Elven King of Lakewood
And so Adariel spent her days confined inside, watching from her paneless window.
“So let me get this straight,” commented Selene acidly “She’s supposed to be the merciless ruler, yet she is kept repressed by her dad. This place is supposed to be one where ‘only maidens thrive’ yet they just sit in trees looking pretty.”
“Multiple glaring inconsistencies,” muttered Dafydd as he added to the charge list again. “Oh, and Selene? Stop trying to apply logic. We’re dealing with a ’Sue, remember?”
But observing soon brought skill. And skill led on to mastering as the golden leaves fell again and again. Adariel, sitting by her window soon learnt the art of archery by just observing. Not only did she learn it, she was incredibly good at it.
“What in all the hells!” Selene stood up, outraged, despite Dafydd’s futile efforts to pull her down again.
“You can’t learn archery by just observing it! And where the hell did the silly bint get a bow from anyway if she's practically imprisoned? This makes NO SENSE!”
Luckily for both the agents, only the ‘Sue was capable of seeing them, and she was stuck pontificating in her tower. Dafydd pulled his vampire partner down and stuck a CD player in her hands. “Here, go to your happy place. I’ll let you know what you’ve missed after you’ve calmed down.”
Selene accepted the CD player with a dubious look on her face. “Me? Calm down? I’ll try it... what’s in here?”
“The Labyrinth soundtrack.”
“David Bowie’ll do the trick.” And with that Selene put the earphones on and drifted off. Dafydd sat and heard the poetic descriptions of the ‘Sue’s archery prowess, more inconsistencies, and another very confusing paragraph.
"I be not cold but unhappy" she whispers to herself when she heard the saying whispered among the treetops.
Dafydd was also pleased that Selene was unable to hear the next paragraph.
Her life bored her incredibly. As Maiden, let along the most beautiful maiden of Elf lore, she was an object to be admired, not used. An ornament to be placed on a mantle, silent, still.
Knowing why someone was able to make lightning shoot from the sky, he reflected, didn’t make it any less disconcerting to have lightning shot from the sky right next to you.
No skill was ever taught to her, but like the process of learning Archery, Adariel also mastered many others that she spied from beneath her window. From years of observing, Adariel learnt that she had the gift of Healing. She could heal better than the best Healers in Lakewood. This gift, nobody ever found she had. She learnt the many laws of healing, from the most basic to The Spirit Key, used only in the most desperate of situations in which the healer swapped her own life for the other.
“Well, there’s a great example of ill-concealed foreshadowing in that last line,” Selene commented as she handed back the CD player.
“Feeling better now?” Dafydd asked as he stowed the CD player back into his pack.
“Much, thank you. Even that paragraph didn’t set me off, I should be fine now.”
A raised eyebrow was the only reply, but both agents turned back to the story anyway.
“Oh dear. Have you already added confusing sentences to the charge list?” Selene asked.
Dafydd frowned. Why? -- oh, I see.”
Adariel glided down the winding twine and through the willow blinds towards the grove.
Selene had her head on one side, considering something.
“Actually, it’s not that bad if you look at it objectively. I have the feeling that the author read The Lady of Shalott a few too many times.”
“I have the feeling that the author is a stupid Suvian with pretensions to drama and no appreciation of what makes a good story.”
“That, also, is true. What’s coming up?”
“Because I’m getting a pain in my right elbow which usually means horrifically ignorant mangling of Canon.”
“Selene, we’re in a Suefic. That alone means horrifically ignorant mangling of Canon.”
“Now it’s my head that hurts.”
“You can get some Bleeprin later. Ooh…” The elf's voice trailed off, and Selene followed his gaze to see what he was gaping at.
The Sue had appeared from behind a “crystal waterfall”. The waterfall was hence rendered in sheer, sparkling crystal, static and shining. Dafydd’s eyes had glazed over slightly as he stared in open-mouthed wonder.
“Oh, bloody hell,” Selene sighed, watching him. “You can’t take that as one of your souvenirs, the damn thing probably won’t fit in the RC!”
“It might,” muttered Dafydd, still staring at it.
Selene looked at him, and came to a decision. “We’ll consider the logistics of the looting later. Right now the ‘Sue and the OppresiveForceOfPatriarchy!King have a message from Rivendell... Actually, this bit seems inconsequential, you can go back to being a magpie.”
“Good...” was the only reply, as Dafydd flicked through his notebook and started drawing detailed diagrams involving pulleys, cranes and the beloved waterfall.
Selene watched the Sue inadvertently intimidate the poor messenger, who was nevertheless struck down with love in her presence. Dafydd was unaware of how little the author had understood the purpose and history of Elrond’s council, but even in his beauty-worshipping haze he couldn’t hide from what the ‘Sue did next.
That evening, Adariel threw open her window once more and leaned out until she was facing the trunk of a willow tree. Stretching her hand out, she touched the trunk of it. It was quite an old tree as she could feel it in her heart.
"Ssssseeeeeth seoffffffthe thhhhhhessssss" She greeted it. The tree stirred and whispered it’s hiss in welcome.
"Please tell me of what goes on in Rivendell. What news is there of Legolas Greenleaf?" she asked gently, gazing up at the hanging branches. The tree paused as if drawing breath.
Selene fell over as a result of laughing while Dafydd just stood there dumbfounded. Selene recovered first, her mirth dissipating as a result of Dafydd’s continuing silence. Finally he stirred and spoke.
“Can I be the one to kill her? Please?”
"The I shall go as I please and ride where my heart takes me" she answered. Her icy eyes looking grim, and determined, the mask of the Maiden of Lakewood slipped as adventure sparkled in her eyes.
They listened to the chapter finish, and Selene replied. “Sure you can. Just make sure it’s creative.”
The next chapter jumped upon them suddenly.
By dawn she was gone. After the decision of her heart, Adariel would could not look back.
“And here we see the benefits of re-reading,” Dafydd noted, still adding to his charge list.
She un-plaited her silky hair that danced for a minute in the light and took off the Oak leaf signifying that she belonged to Lakewood. Instead, she hung it around her neck. Ripping off her gown, she wore a tight long sleeved silver undershirt over her mail with long neck that bound to her throat, donned a short sleeved coarse dress that flopped loosely over her thighs and slipped on course brown pants.
“Sometimes I wish that the 'fic-verse wasn’t so painfully literal. I don’t want to sit through the leaving home angst, shall we portal ahead a bit?”
“Yes, lets. There’s a paragraph raving about her beauty ahead that I’d rather skip,” Dafydd replied as he set up the portal, both the agents stepped through in haste. Dafydd looked around. "-- oops."
Selene folded her arms and stared at the sheepish Elda. “Oops? Where are we Dafydd? Both geography- and story-wise please.”
“Er, well, we’re just outside Moria. We’ve managed to miss her talking to more trees and to her horse, just missing the Ringwraiths, learning to sneak, chickening out of going to Rivendell, and, most of all, successfully stalking the Fellowship.”
Selene noticed but one thing from that long sentence. “She has a horse?” Dafydd nodded, though he may have also rolled his eyes at the same time.
“Yes she has a horse. It is, and I quote, 'the fastest mare that Lakewood had, and maybe one of the fastest in Middle Earth, such was her breeding. Her father had said that she was a gift from distant Lothlorien, although Starliss did not sound like an Elvish name.'"
“There’s an understatement for you," commented Selene dryly, and after a moment's thought, added, "but there’s so much wrong with that paragraph that I’m not going to even start. So what happens next?”
“The ‘Sue get attacked by orcs and is mortally wounded – hmm… I see potential there.” Dafydd adopted what Selene now thought of as his ‘plotting face’.
“You’d better think up that creative death soon, I see orcs moving towards Moria.”
The agents followed at a distance, until they came within sight of the ‘Sue and the story again took hold of their surroundings.
One night, when she was out gathering food, she found the trees screaming at her once again to get off the road.
Alas, it was too late. A small band of Orcs stumbled upon Adariel. Ten Orcs, obviously having strayed from the main group came face to face with her. With practiced fingers, Adariel immediately shot five arrows with one shot and as the five arrows separated from each other and out of her fingers, each shot one Orc.
“Oh not again.” Selene looked on the verge of doing something violent, but before she could she saw the horse come cantering over the hill, away from the fighting. Selene ran up to the horse and caught at the reigns.
“Oh hello you beauty, let’s get this nasty bridle off you, a fine elven horse like you shouldn’t be wearing a bridle...”
Dafydd left Selene cooing over the horse and wandered down to the Sirannon, the Gate stream, gathering some plants before heading back to Selene to watch the rest of the fight.
The Orc could not react fast enough, and Adariel kicked it. As it fell, it’s ax slipped from its hand and landed blade first on the side of her foot, skinning it. She cried out in pain, and stared in disbelief as blood poured from the gash. Too pained was she to notice that she had made her first kills.
“Selene, what’s your control on your weather magic like?”
“Better than my control on my temper, why?”
“Could you blow these leaves over there please? Don’t touch them, they’re poisonous.”
Selene accepted the small pile of leaves on the flat stone and laid a restraining hand on Starliss’ mane before wafting the leaves away with her hand.
Unable to walk, she tried to call out to Starliss. But the mare did not hear her. Her voice was lost in the wind. But as the wind swirled in the trees, and the grass that grew near her heard of her pleas, a single herb plant shed a leaf in the wind, and it blew via the wind to cover Adariel’s wound.
The agents watched as the leaf settled onto the open wound. Soon, the Sue’s body began to shake, and she writhed in painful looking convulsions for a while.
“What were those leaves? Are they enough to kill her?” Selene asked in macabre fascination. Dafydd shrugged.
“It’s Water Hemlock, but it probably won’t kill her in that little quantity. However, I have a better idea. A rather fitting death for one who prided herself on being able to talk to trees.”
“Come on, let’s feed her to the Huorns, liberate the horse, steal the fountain and burn down Lakewood.”
"An excellent plan," agreed Dafydd, and wandered over to collect the 'Sue.