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piosenniel 05-11-2006 02:55 PM

-- Assigned to Mordor II --

“You’ll never prove anything.” He spat in her face, his thin, pale lips parting to reveal yellowed teeth. His sour breath made her stomach turn, but outwardly she was serene, her bright grey eyes unusually cold and calculating. Wiping the saliva from her cheek, she patted him condescendingly on the head with her wet hand.

“You’ve forgotten where we are. I don't need to prove anything to anybody. This is Mordor. Habeas corpus doesn’t apply.” Alli Umfuil, escaped prisoner of Mordor and newly instated spymaster of the king looked down at her desk and the heaps of paper thereupon as the sounds of desperate screams echoed down the dark and foreboding hall through which the unlucky prisoner was now being dragged. She was not about to explain to the man that, as spymaster of the king and confidante of Illamatar, she had access to the sort of information that he’d never in his wildest dreams imagine. With one night’s unsettled sleep, she’d spotted the felon even as he lurked in the shadows of his favorite haunt. The king was unhappy with the rate of unsolved murders in the back allies behind his palace… bad for the tourist industry, as it were. Alli had found the killer and sent her own team of guards to capture him before he could strike again. She knew that criminals must be watched, preferably stopped, but she’d inspected the dungeons of Mount Doom Palace and Casino and found herself pitying those trapped therein.

She poured a basin of water, scrubbing the remnants of spit from her pale hand. She kept her stomach muscles tight, willing herself not to gag as she splashed cold water upon her face as well. Patting her pearly skin dry, she answered the light knock on the extremely large set of double doors into her office. The torchlight cut through the darkness to illuminate shackles on the walls… the former spymaster had had a flair for the dramatic before his yet unsolved death.

“Yeah!” she called by way of invitation. The doors opened and the king entered, his peg-leg clicking on the flagstones. He ducked through the doors, standing fully once inside, the cathedral ceiling accommodating his bulk.

“Roggie,” she greeted with a tired smile and a bow. “What can I do for you?”

“I see you’ve captured the killer.” She nodded, sitting down behind her desk and absent-mindedly sorting papers that her secretary had forwarded to her into ‘look at immediately,’ ‘consider taking a peek at later,’ and ‘conveniently lose in the fireplace.’

“He wasn’t much trouble… injured one of my men, but it wasn’t much… certainly not enough to send him to be checked out by incompetent nurses. I told him to stay off that leg for a few days. Sent him on vacation. I owed him a few days for the extra time he put in to help me set up my contacts. He knows a lot… I’m not sure how comfortable I am with his knowledge of my network. I mean, he only knows the contacts I chose to be my findables… If they’re caught, no biggie. They’ll be helpful in the mean time, you know?”

Roggie sat on the floor, his legs stretched before him, his body comfortably heating the otherwise cold room, his faint burning glow illuminating the chamber with soft red light. It was imprudent to have a wooden castle with a balrogic king, but Alli got cold easily with the inescapable stonework. She was always happy to have Roggie of Morgoth in her presence, both for physical warmth and the ability to share that which plagued her mind.

“I’m not over-working you, am I, Alli?” he growled concernedly. He looked menacing with his patched-eye and combustible body. Alli reached casually behind her and pushed her window open to let the early summer breeze come through; the room was getting a little smoky and her eyes were beginning to water. She glanced around the area outside her office before continuing, trusting in her privacy precautions to keep their conversation away from the ears of strangers.

“Of course not, Rogs. It’s just… well… I’ve not seen Aimè in weeks and I know that there are at least two werewolves still out there, and the wizards have been causing all kinds of trouble…”

“Actually, you’ve just named why I stopped.”

“Aww, not just to visit with your best pal?” she teased lightly.

“You know I like to visit with you but-“ he stopped, seeing her laugh. “Anyhow… I received a letter from the wizards today. The gist of it was that if I can’t get Mardil to stop being such an arrogant” Alli laughed at Roggie’s impolite phrasing of Mardil II of Gondor’s personality. “Basically, if I can’t work out some sort of something getting Mardil to agree to a few concessions, they’re going to rework the Dweomer into something, to quote them, “far more ominous than mere words can describe!!!!”. Yeah, Alli… they actually used four exclamation points. The darndest thing, really.”

“So what are you going to do?” Her papers were forgotten. She looked across her desk at her friend, their eyes nearly level with him seated on the floor.

“Nothing.” he said.

“So you’re going to let the wizards… do whatever it is they’re going to do?”

“I’m not groveling to that egotist. If it weren’t for him, I’d have both legs still. If it weren't for him, this country would be a lot easier to run and you know it. Just because he felt the need to seize control of Gondor doesn’t mean he has control of Mordor.”

“Oh, Rog, I… I meant to tell you… the King’s Law is weakening ever since Mardil seized power. Every border guard I’ve got’s been sending reports on it. Mardil actually… well… he really kind of does have control. The more power he gets, the less power the spells have to keep your borders closed and your people here.”

“I spotted that illegal emigration is at an all-time high…”

“Yeah, well… it’s Mardil’s fault. If he’d just work something out with the wizards, but he’ll never do it. You know how he is with people telling him what to do.”

Roggie sighed, laying back on the formerly cool stone floor. “Alli, how am I supposed to run this place with my people leaving and a pair of crackpot old Istari changing the rules any time we get them figured out? They’re pressuring me to treat with Mardil and quite frankly, I don’t want to.”

“I’ll do it.”

“What?” Roggie sat up, shocked. “But… even after—“

“Roggie, it’s been a year and he's married now anyhow. And I’m your top advisor. Surely I ought to be living up to my job by doing the things that you can't and telling you when to let me?

"You sure as heck can’t travel to Gondor and work out negotiations with Mardil. Even if you could just up and leave your responsibilities, the Dweomer still has you and nearly every one of your staff members trapped here. I’m better suited for the travel, I’ve got contacts in his palace as well… If you’ll lend me some ambassadors, I can get this worked out in no time flat. Just give me permission, Roggie, and I'll go to Gondor.

"I've been granted the right to freely come and go. I can ride out, convince Mardil to send some diplomats, and we'll all treat here. It will be easy enough for me to do and downright impossible for almost anybody else.”

The king stood, bowing low to his friend. His good eye looked teary, but Alli ignored it politely as good friends sometimes must.

After a short time of visiting, Roggie left, the enormous doors closing behind him with a tiny click disproportionate to their size. Alli looked at her desk again, tears now in her eyes. Why had she offered? She’d never particularly wanted to see Mardil again… now she would be forced to deal with him and knowing his mind for strategy, he'd invite his wife along for the discussions.

Yes, she loved her job… she loved to know things, and having the best job in the kingdom for somebody that likes to find things out kept her content. But negotiating a treaty with Mardil?

She pitied the ambassadors that got between them all.

Unwilling to get out of the comfortable chair it had taken her seven days of combing Roggie’s castle for, Alli called loudly for her secretary. The woman stepped from the shadows near the door, looking severe with her half-moon spectacles and neat chignon.

“Ms. Martinet,” Alli said. “You listened? Of course… I needn’t ask. I did a good day’s work when I recruited you for this job.

"The king will provide you with a list of names shortly. They are the ambassadors he'll have chosen. I’m riding out this afternoon to treat with King Mardil; no need for you to worry about anything on that end. I’ll get names and information on everybody that he picks to accompany me back and brief you on my return.

"We’ll need suites for them, of course, and private chambers for them all to work in… all of the amenities. And every second they’re in Mordor, I want to know who is doing what, when, and with whom. You know the drill. I'll want logistics taken care of while I'm gone. You'll have about a week before I'm back with Mardil's cronies and we can get this mess fixed.”

“Yes, Miss Umfuil.” Ms. Martinet finished scratching the details of her orders on a yellow legal pad and disappeared once more.

Reflecting, if she’d known it, King Theoden of Rohan (may he rest in peace) upon the brink of battle so long ago, Alli, with her head cradled in her long fingers, muttered softly to herself… “So it begins.”

--- Feanor of the Peredhil

Feanor of the Peredhil 05-13-2006 03:22 PM

Alli sat in her office with her booted feet propped upon her desk, ignoring all demands to the contrary that her parents had spent her childhood drilling into her. With her arms crossed behind her head and her eyes gently closed, she reflected over the past week.

It had not taken long to reach Minas Anor. She traveled lightly with a small guard. She’d have preferred to ride alone, but knowing that she would be returning with important guests, she knew that she would never manage it. Also, Ms. Martinet would have sent a troop to meet her at the border and accompany her if Alli had tried to escape alone. Her secretary let nothing pass without notice.

She’d reached the seventh level of the city a little tired, but unwilling to let the world notice. Dismounting proudly at the gate, she let her horse be taken away and released her men from duty giving them a veritable holiday in Gondor’s capital with their only orders being “You know the drill.” As long as they didn’t speak of things with any connection to Mordor’s power structure, they could talk to anything with anyone.

She was shown to her room where she deposited her single bag and changed into more formal garb. A grey silk shirt was complimented by a black sleeveless tunic that laced fittedly down to her waist before flaring slightly. Full breeches of soft dark grey cloth rustled lightly as she walked and black shoes made barely more than a whisper on the floor. She pulled her ebony hair back and pinned stray locks away from her face before gathering her papers and tying them into a neat scroll.

She was led to Mardil’s audience chamber and she held in her emotions, denying herself an annoyed sniff. She’d been assigned to Mordor in the first place due to her political convictions. Yes, she had hated the policies of the former king, but she was utterly uncertain as to just how much she preferred Mardil to be in his position. She would have preferred that this meeting take place in private, yet she knew that it was a matter of state and therefore a matter to be presented before council.

Alli had been announced and groaned inwardly at the mispronunciation of her name. Al-uh-min, she thought, not Al-oo-min-ee. She suspected Mardil’s influence, but let it pass. She stepped into the coldly intimidating room, nodding to those she passed. The room was filled with grey-haired men glaring austerely at her. It was perhaps only the fact that she had pinned it up that kept Alli from flipping her straight, smooth black cascade of hair away from her pretty face as she walked. No attitude, she told herself. This is too important to mess with people.

It had taken several hours of straight persuasion, but she had done it. Convinced both Mardil and his council to treat with Roggie and his. She sat now in her office after a grueling trip home. Riding alone, she was used to silence. With four diplomats, none of whom she particularly liked, the stiff lack of conversation grated. She had wanted to sing rude songs learned in Mordorian taverns with her men to break the mood, but this was a diplomatic mission. She had to keep in form. She led the train of riders in silence, arguing with the border patrol over short-term visas, carefully threatening their lives just out of sight of the diplomats if they did not let the group pass in peace.

“Ms. Martinet!” she yelled from her desk. The door opened and her secretary slipped in. “Have the diplomats been shown to their quarters and what can you tell me about each of them?”

Ms. Martinet leaned on the door, a sardonic expression on her face as she concentrated on an imperceptible burr on her fingernail. Yep, she thought with satisfaction. Looks like it's time for another manicure. "They all know where their quarters are, Alli. I've got men following them all if they wander off. Unless you want me to just lock them in and spare us the trouble..." An eyebrow raised as she glanced at her employer for permission, and was awarded with a firm "No."

"As for what I can tell you...I'm going to assume you've read the dossiers? So you really want my impressions." She thought a moment.

"On our side, the usual mix of freaks and maniacs. Odd crew, the lot of them. Nancy MacFarlewyn the most so, of course, and Maikaelwen the least. The other two are just...odd.

"And for the Gondorians, well, my favorite is Malfoidacil. You sure he isn't one of ours? Beauregard's a spoiled twit, Tupsë is dangerous, and the old guy, Hyarmanwë, is probably the one who got us all assigned here in the first place. We'll definitely have our work cut out for us...any fun plans?"
“I wish.” Alli took her feet down and spun slightly so that she was both seated straight and facing Ms. Martinet. “But this whole thing is on the up and up. They’ll have enough trouble without me having fun. Eru above, I’ve got to try to keep them on the straight and narrow and that’s enough work without driving them off of it.

“You’re right though… Malfoidacil used to be one of ours. I worked with him. I know stories about him that would make even you shiver. He’s my special project. If you really feel the need to check in, he went by Tom Felton when he was here. Mardil knew him then too… that’s how they ended up in league. And I fully agree about Hyarmanwë.” Alli didn’t share her thoughts on him, but when she had been arguing, he’d been most vocal against her. Called her a foolish youngster and sneered aristocratically at her gender. Alli could nearly read his mind, simply by the look in his eyes: he didn’t think she should be taken at all seriously and couldn’t believe that Mardil would hold an audience over this “issue.” She’d ignored him and hoped against hope that Mardil wouldn’t choose him to accompany her back. She should have known better.

Alli smacked her hands on the table decisively, if a bit more violently than normal. Ms. Martinet waited for a further response without batting an eyelash.

“Gather the ambassadors. Put them somewhere depressing enough to make them work faster to get out sooner. Let’s get this started so we can get it finished.”

Lola Martinet rolled her eyes, taking in Alli's spare furnishings and dark decor. "Someplace depressing? You mean you want to hold the talks here?" She left the room before the irritable Alli could answer, mentally running through the list of available conference rooms in her head.


The delegates were easy enough to find. They had, of course, all wandered, and they'd all ended up where wanderers in this labyrinthine palace always did--the Cracks. Ms. Martinet noticed with an irritated growl that Hyarmanwë still looked chilly. The Gondorians stood on one side of the hall she found them in, staring at the Mordorians on the other. They, being Mordorians, were doing nothing of the sort. Smilog was scowling at Igor, who was shuffling his feet. Maika was looking depressed, and MacFarlewyn, startled by the appearance of so many people, had frozen stiff in the middle of the hall.

"I'm Ms. Martinet, Miss Umfuil's secretary, and I'll be leading you all to your first meeting," she announced glaring at them all over the top of her glasses. She turned abruptly and strode down the hall, remembering Skittles at the last minute. "Miss MacFarlewyn," she called over her shoulder. "If you don't practice being a tree on your own time I'll go get an axe." Rapid footsteps behind her let her know her threat was effective.

Calmly she led them on a roundabout course through the palace, trying maliciously to make sure they were thoroughly confused before leading them all into a cold room with a large stone table and a number of chairs, closing the door. "If you will all take a seat, Miss Umfuil will be with you in just a moment."

She sat primly in the one chair in the room with a seat cushion, producing a blue ballpoint pen and a notebook, seemingly from nowhere. With a malicious smile, she began humming the same line over and over to herself, drawing it almost to an end but never humming the last note.

Alli waited outside the door with an amused grin, listening to Ms. Martinet irritate the Gondorians. She knocked once, briskly, on the door before coming in, her presence cool and calculated. Hyarmanwë stood and nodded politely, stiffly, until she motioned for him to be seated. The rest of the delegates sat around waiting to hear what they’d been dragged here for.

Alli abused them with silence for a moment, waiting just long enough for it to feel oppressive. She’d ordered that the lights be just lower than usual so that the flickering torchlight would make her long black hair shimmer. She’d developed the ability to have A Presence. When she wanted to cast An Impression, she did it. Aluminè Umfuil stood before the delegates, long black hair shining in the low light, cold features stern. The inexperience that her slender figure and young age exuded was brought to question by her cold grey eyes. In seconds, the room was paying close attention; even the Mordorians that had seen her before. They usually weren’t favored with her official side.

“A rift has come between our lands. Illegal emigration is at an all time high. Our peoples seem unable to unite." Alli glared at the Gondorians trying to ignore the Mordorians. "That is the purpose for which you are called hither. Called, I say. though I have not called you to me, strangers from distant lands. You have come and are here met, in this very nick of time, by chance as it may seem. Yet it is not so. Believe rather that it is so ordered by Mardil and Roggie and perhaps even a power Higher, that you, who sit here, and none others, must now find counsel for the peril of our countries."

She had practiced this speech and it effectively carried the weight she wanted.

"Your first task," she continued, "is to meet and greet. Yes... an ice-breaker. While I am certain that the Gondorians are unfamiliar with this approach, those in Mordor are surely aware of it. I want, from each diplomat, two truths and a lie. Interact. Discuss. You have one day to get to know each other. After that, negotiations will truly begin, for we know that no work can be completed without bureaucratic nonsense. It is a custom that must be dealt with. Gondorians, know that the terms of your arrival and stay cover this. It will not be considered Anakronistic, but rather diplomatic, for you to take part in this custom of another country. At least in this particular matter."

She glanced around, taking in various faces, enjoying the look of horror on that of Hyarmanwë.

"Ms. Martinet will observe. I will return soon."

Kath 05-14-2006 06:59 AM

A lie! Igör was shocked. Alli knew he couldn’t, yet still she asked him to do it. Just this once, Alli needs you to, just a little exaggeration. The voices clamoured inside his head, trying to persuade him to give in to the temptation and break the oath he made all those years ago, to always be truthful. Why was it that his past caught up with him at the most inopportune moments? Shuddering at the thought Igör shoved the traitorous voices aside, and tried to concentrate on thinking of a way around this problem.

As he did his eyes ran over the diplomats from Gondor. Well, one eye ran over them, the other rolled itself and generally misbehaved, trying to make the foreigners uncomfortable. From the looks on their faces it seemed to be succeeding. The oldest one looked particularly disgusted, but then he hadn’t looked anything but for the past half an hour so this was nothing to be particularly proud of. Igör grinned at him to try and put him at ease, but the stitching around his mouth stretched as he did so, and he remembered too late that this tended to cause fear and nausea rather than the intended effect.

Sighing quietly he went back to his musings. Two truths and a lie, two truths and a lie. No, there was just no way he could do this by the rules and still remain true to himself. Therefore, the rules would just have to be bent a little. Alli called this an ice-breaker, and all that meant was getting the diplomats to actually talk to each other. Well if this little ruse worked then they should be talking alright.

Standing up he flipped his hair back over his shoulder, gaining him puzzled glances from the two male diplomats and spoke.

“I live in Mordor.”
“I never tell lies.”
“Not one part of my body was originally mine.”

He sat down again and waited. Of course they all knew the first statement was true, and it would be hard to believe that the third wasn’t, so . . .

“Well.” Came a confident voice. “Of course the lie is that you never tell lies.”

Igör carefully smiled, making sure the result looked friendly rather than carnivorous this time, and shook his head.

“No, sir. That is a truth.”

“But if you never tell lies then how can you be playing this game?”

“Yes!” Came another voice. “That woman said one statement must be a lie, but if that one is not then – ”

She never did get to finish, as one of the Mordorian ambassadors interrupted.

That woman happens to be Alli Umfuil! You’ll speak of her with more respect if you know what’ good for you!”

“The, thing, is obviously lying. No one can live without ever telling a lie.”

“Well then how do you explain – ”

And so the argument continued. Mordorians were speaking to Gondorians. Ok so it was via argument, but whoever said they were going to get on? To be fair, in some places around the room opposite sides were arguing the same point, with Gondorians arguing against their fellow diplomats. Perhaps it wasn’t quite how Alli had intended it to go, but it was working!

Sitting back, Igör waited for Ms. Martinet to decide that she’d had enough. There was no point in him trying to stop this now, but a few sharp words from her and everyone would settle back down.

Diamond18 05-14-2006 12:00 PM

Skittles squeezed her eyes shut and stuck her fingers in her eyes. Oh, the noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise! That’s one thing she hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!

Not having the patience to wait for that crazy Martinet woman to do something, she took matters into her own hands, leaping up onto a table and removing her fingers from her ears only to place them in her mouth. She uttered a whistle so shrill and painful that the entire room fell into a stunned silence. Someone whimpered.

“That’s better,” said Skittles, and sat down on the table, crossing her legs underneath her.

“Thank you, Nancy,” said Martinet, wincing. “Maybe you want to go next?”

Skittles looked around expectantly. No one made a sound, and they were all staring at her, the freaks. “Well fine, if Nancy’s not going to say anything, I’ll go next,” she volunteered, finding the silence boring and the scrutiny annoying. “Knock, knock. Who’s there? Alli. Alli who? Alluminé Umnfuíl! Ha ha ha ha!” She slapped a knee and doubled over with laughter.

Only after a moment did she realize that no one else was laughing.

“Two truths and a lie, MacFarlewyn.” Martinet seemed to be speaking through gritted teeth, now. What a prune.

Skittles shrugged.

“The world is flat.
I’m a bat.
For lunch I ate a cat.”

“How perfectly dreadful,” said the old Gondorian, Heimlichmaneuver or whatever his name was.

“Ain’t it though?” Skittles replied proudly.

“You are obviously not a bat,” said a younger Gondorian man with long black hair. What was his name again...? Barrowgod. “So that must be the lie. The truths, therefore, are that the world is flat and you ate a cat for lunch.”

“Ha ha ha ha! No,” Skittles gloated. “I didn’t eat anything for lunch! Try again, Barrowgod.”

The man visibly twitched. “Bearugard. My name is Bearugard.”

“Meh. Same diff.” She looked at the other diplomats. “Well?”

“But you are not a bat,” insisted a young blonde boy with an angelically evil face. “So that’s two lies.”

“Also, I fail to see what the shape of the world has to do with yourself, and our instructions were to tell two truths and a lie about ourselves,” said Bearugard.

Skittles shrugged. “Bored now.” She hopped down from the table, then crawled underneath it. She then amused herself by pinching the ankles of those seated as they tried to continue on.

the guy who be short 05-14-2006 12:11 PM

Angawen Tupsë was not finding Mordor agreeable. She had thought that the name "The Black Land" was purely metaphorical, and had been surprised at the blasted landscape she found within those borders she had been so unwilling to cross. Compared to the thought of Minas Tirith glowing in pleasant summer evening sunlight, it was almost unbearable. Characteristically, her face belied none of her thoughts, remaining as stonily constant as usual.

Upon entering the forbidding Mordorian building - the Spymaster's official building, Angawen thought darkly - she had been directed straight to her quarters. Those rooms were to be her own for however long this mission would take. Lady Martinet, apparently Lady Umfuil's second in command, had shown her the sparse, dank lodgings. The rooms had not impressed, though Angawen had been impressed by the apparent high position of women in Mordor. "Perhaps," she thought, "this is not such a fell place after all." She amused herself by thinking what Hyarmenwë's response to powerful women would be.

"There is no need to keep your bodyguards here," Miss Martinet had said, indicating the two burly men posted outside Angawen's room. "You are here under diplomatic protection. No harm will come to you in this building, we have our own men for that."

Angawen had smiled coldly. "Thank you, Lady, but old habits are not easy to shake. I should feel more secure with my men here."

"This is most unorthodox," the woman had replied, but she did not seem willing to press the issue.


As the room erupted around her, Lady Angawen did not even flinch. She sat upright, trademarkly expressionless, in her chair. Her husband had been rather fond of riddles in his time, and she knew this trick - Igör was merely teasing. She allowed her mind to wander as the others, excluding Igör, who now looked rather worried, and Miss Martinet, watching silently from one side, explored Igör's statement.

The conversation seemed to focus on Hyarmenwë repeating that it was impossible to live without lying, the other Gondorians vaguely supporting him, and the Mordorian diplomats supporting the creature, except for one who claimed Igör lied to her often about her own arboreal nature. Angawen wondered briefly why Mardil had sent such an ostentatious fool on this mission. But of course, it was for his loyalty. He was presumably meant to keep her own intuititive side in check.

Her musings were interrupted by a high-pitched whistle from Skittles. The diplomats from both sides quietened down (though Hyarmenwë persisted in muttering to himself a little longer).

Angawen decided to ignore Skittles and the conversation surrounding her. Such a woman was a disgrace to humanity and to be in the same room as her pained Angawen. She continued sitting and musing.

As soon as the woman had finished making a complete idiot of herself (in Angawen's eyes, in any case), Miss Martinet asked for another diplomat to go next. Nobody volunteered. Her eyes stalked around the room and settled on Angawen. "Lady Tupsë, you have been silent throughout this game. Would you please state two facts and a lie?"

Angawen blinked and licked her lips, but her face otherwise remained as stony as ever, before replying, "May I enquire as to the reason why we are performing this activity? It does not appear to be productive to our diplomatic mission."

All eyes turned to Miss Martinet, who simply replied, "It is an icebreaker."

"Be that as it may, our mission here is not to make acquaintances but to discuss and solve the problem of illicit emigration from Mordor into the Kingdom of Gondor. I do not see how sharing details about our personal lives could result in such, unless, of course, the minds of Mordor work in ways too deep for me to comprehend." She pulled her mouth into a smug smile.

Her soft tirade did not, however, have the desired effect on Miss Martinet, who replied in a rather bored manner "Miss Umfuil said we were here to break ice. Get breaking, lady."

"Is this a game? We are not here to be your toys, nor for your amusement, Lady Martinet," she replied coldly. "We are here to solve-"

But she was cut off before she could continue. "I am perfectly aware as to why you are here. Now please, participate fully or we can arrange for your return to Gondor."

Angawen was incensed. Though she kept her face carefully neutral, she was aware that blood must be rushing to it, colouring her face. "Is that a threat?" she questionned almost levelly, but with a hint of aggression.

"Yes," Miss Martinet replied simply, to Angawen's utter annoyance. She was unused to dealing with other women of power, and not best pleased to be mocked and bullied by this foreigner.

"Igör did not perform the task appropriately. What is to be his punishment?" she responded with a little twitch of the mouth.

Miss Martinet rolled her eyes, sighed, looked at Igör and said something that sounded like a reprimand in English that Angawen did not understand. "In Gondor, we consider it rude to speak a foreign tongue in the company of others who do not comprehend it."

"You're in Mordor, honey. Gondor's customs don't apply here."

"Oh, is that so?" Angawen replied, now thoroughly annoyed. She was aware that she was probably visibly showing her rage now, and this further fuelled her anger. Jumping up and turning to Bearugard, she insulted the Mordorians in Quenya. "This rabble is a joke," she indicated the Mordorian ambassadors.

Before he could reply, however, Miss Martinet had replied, in perfect Quenya, "You really are a pompous idiot. You know that?"

Angawen ignored the insult in her startledness. Her anger seemed to fade all at once and was replaced by a deep shame in being baited by this woman, in being subservient to her, in discovering that she was far sharper than she at first appeared. She sat back down quietly, defeated.

"Now," Miss Martinet returned to Westron, "I shall not ask you another time. Say two truths and a lie, or I shall arrange your demission."

Angawen wasn't sure how much authority Miss Martinet held, but decided it was safer not to retort angrily. Instead, she tried once again to be clever, and replied somewhat drily, "My name is Angawen Tupsë. I live in Gondor. I have, thus far, been much impressed by the calibre of the Mordorian intellect. In particular, I believe Miss MacFarlewyn to be a fine example of intelligent feminity and sanity, and Igör to be a delightful, worthy and most witty... man."

Instead of the laughs she expected from her fellow Gondorians, her comment was met with an embarrassing silence. She felt a little remorse seeing the downcast look on Igör's face. She was on the verge of an apology when Skittles broke the silence.

"AHA! I get it! The last one is a lie because Igör isn't actually a man."

Boromir88 05-14-2006 02:29 PM

Bearugard stood there oblivious to everything going around him, for he was still fuming over not having his own private bath. Just wait until the King hears of this foolishness, he won't put up with this. You'd think if they were serious about negotiations they would treat us with a tad-bit of dignity and actually be negotiating. How proposterous, thought Bearugard.

The very next thing he hears is this Skittles saying she's a bat.

"You are obviously not a bat. You don't look like a bat, you don't speak like a bat, and you don't smell like a bat, therefor you must not be a bat." He replied. “So that must be the lie. The truths, therefore, are that the world is flat and you ate a cat for lunch.”

“Ha ha ha ha! No,” Skittles gloated. “I didn’t eat anything for lunch! Try again, Barrowgod.”

"Bearugard. My name is Bearugard." He snapped, now unable to keep his rage concealed. "How would you like it if I just went around calling you Snickers? And I think that is the first time a person dare say I was wrong!"

After some more quibbling of bats, lies, and icebreakers Skittles retreated under the table and Bearugard stood there with his arms folded across his chest in defiance.

Angawen had whispered something into his ear, but he had no idea what she had said to him. Angawen to no avail protested the "game," and she too soon gave in.

Miss Martinet asked who would go next, and to that, Bearugard unleashed his rage. "I object, this is absolutely proposterous! I fail to see how this has anything to do with our duty. And even if it did, the terms have been violated and I therefor reserve the right to not participate. I have not been convinced of a single truth out of these Mordorian scums yet! Wait, I take that back, the world is flat, but that has nothing to do with yourself. At most it should only be counted as a half-truth, and that still violates the terms. As far as I'm concerned this game is finished."

"Overruled," replied Miss Martinet. "have a seat." Bearugard quickly obeyed. "For that outburst, you shall have the honor of going next."

Bearugard grumbled to himself some more, but found it useless to refuse, "At home I have servants who clothe me, I find this to be the most proposterous game ever, and today I ate chicken. Good luck with this one." Bearugard, for the first time today smiled. He was sure no one would be able to figure out this one.

Diamond18 05-14-2006 04:54 PM

"I know!" Skittles poked her head out from under the table. "It's the middle one. Because this isn't the most preposterous game ever -- Calvinball is! Am I right?"

Formendacil 05-14-2006 10:20 PM

Hyarmenwë son of Hyarmendil had entered Mordor determined not to like it. Well, more accurately, he had entered Mordor knowing that he would not like it. When you are as old and experienced as the Keeper of the Keys of Minas Tirith was, some things were predictable.

As it was, Hyarmenwë would have preferred to have avoided Mordor altogether, but one must face certain unpleasantries in one's life. In Hyarmenwë's case, travelling to Mordor as a part of a rather odd group of diplomats to deal with the rejects of civilized society was one of them.

Were the truth to be told, Mordor had not disappointed Hyarmenwë in the slightest. He loathed the place, and the many anakronisms that it contained. It wasn't hard in the slightest to pretend that the horrid things didn't exist, because he found them extremely distasteful. The sooner this particular task was over, and he could retire to the safety and peace of Minas Tirith, the better. Hyarmenwë was an old man, if hale, and cared little for adventures of any kind.

So it was that he had grumbled and fussed and done his best to act the perfect Gondorian nobleman and gentleman, and now found himself somewhere in the heart of Mordor, sitting around, and participating in... something... known as an "icebreaker".

Currently, it was Bearugard's turn to tell two truths and one lie about himself. Hyarmenwë, realizing that his turn must come soon enough, was paying but little heed to his fellow Gondorian's questions, and was concentrating on what his truths and lie ought to be. One must follow the rules of the game, of course. One must follow them rigidly. Whatever Angawen might seem to think, it was the part of a true Gondorian diplomat to show by his very example precisely how a real diplomat acts.

The lie, Hyarmenwë thought to himself, in Bearugard's trio, was undoubtedly that he had chicken for lunch. Not bothering to say that aloud, he began to ponder what he should say of himself. His clues ought to be trifles, of course, for one does not give his opponents valuable information without cause. By the same token, they must be related to him personally, so as to obey the rules. They ought also, and here Hyarmenwë cast a baleful glare at Bearugard, not disparage the negotiations. As worthy of being disparaged as the Mordorians were, the negotiations were also condoned by Gondor, and disparagement thereof meant disparagement of Gondor- and of its King.

Therein lay his problem, Hyarmenwë realised. All his life he had loyally and faithfully served the House of Telcontar, the Heirs of Elessar Aragorn. And he had remained loyal to it's right and eldest line through thick and thin. Alas, but these days were the days of thin, and not of thick.

Mardil II, of the noble House of Húrin though he may have been, and a great Steward history may have been destined to remember him as, was, in Hyarmenwë's book, an usurper. Unfortunately, he was a usurper with a great deal of power and influence. And, with his marriage to the Princess Morwen, likely to someday be the rightful Lord of Gondor. A troubling situation indeed, since Hyarmenwë would then be his loyal retainer- but a loyal retainer that Mardil would probably remember best as having opposed him.

It was a mess of a situation, and was likely responsible for his being sent on this mission, Hyarmenwë thought. Mardil would likely not be saddened at all were he to slip on an anakronism and land himself a permanent assignment to Mordor. On the other hand, Mardil trusted his loyalty to Gondor- even above his loyalty to his King- to see that a good job was done. And, Hyarmenwë had to grudgingly admit, he would do as best a job as he might, and so aid Gondor as best he could.

It would be an easier task had he been given some decent companions, Hyarmenwë sniffed to himself. Bearugard, currently at the centre of the group's talking, was a self-centred spoiled child. Hyarmenwë wished it were otherwise, but so many of Gondor's younger noblemen were that way. They did not have the backbone and moral fortitude that had been the hallmarks of past generations- including his own.

The Lady Angawen was somewhat better. She was not, it was true, someone he needed to worry about being lazy. She would, at least, keep focussed on the discussions. Nevertheless, she seemed exceedingly blunt for a diplomat- and a woman at that!- and she had a history that troubled Hyarmenwë ever so slightly. Rumour had it that she had killed her husband, and the bodyguards who accompanied her did nothing to dispel the myth. She might have been harder, more focussed than Bearugard, Hyarmenwë thought, but she did not seem a true servant of the Realm.

And then there was Malfoidacil... Hyarmenwë did not know what to think of him. He seemed very nearly a Mordorian in some respects- though what those respects were Hyarmenwë couldn't quite place his finger on. At the same time, though, he seemed very much what he seemed to be: an arrogant, blue-blooded son of Gondor. Hyarmenwë had hopes that he could be moulded into a fine Man of Gondor, but in the meantime he was so... YOUNG!

Which simply hammered back to Hyarmenwë the point that he had long since decided was correct: if this mission was to succeed for the greater good of Gondor, then it was going to fall to him to see it through.

With this encouraging though, Hyarmenwë's mind snapped back to the "icebreaker" game. Possibly half a minute had passed, thought being faster than sound, and Bearugard was still the one being questioned. Everything had gone somewhat silent. Apparently one of the Mordorian diplomats (Scitls, was it?) had just made a rather out-of-place comment.

Anguirel 05-15-2006 01:45 PM

The Lord Dracomir Malfoidacil, of all the Gondorian envoys, seemed the most at his ease. He knew this place and reacted to it with mild disdain, not psychological bafflement. He was here to carry out his mission to slay that Potter boy, deal with this amusing diplomacy, and he intended to see it through as Malfoy...a Malfoidacil, rather...should, effortlessly and contemptuously.

The moment the ambassadorial party was within Mordor, he had begun to annoy his fellow counsellors by showing off his perfect knowledge of Modern English-as well as the Royal Dispensation he had received to speak it. He made a habit of muttering snide jokes about the other Gondorians to passing Mordorians in a faux-proletarian British Public School accent. He relished the situation to the full-the others, forbidden to consider the language of English, could not lift a finger to stop him lest terrible punishments fall upon them. So he grinned maliciously and swept a hand through his immaculate curtains of white-blond hair as he remarked:

"The old man won't last long, of course. Father always says the King should introduce a policy of euthanasia."


"Look at that ridiculous Mudblood woman with her bodyguards. Why, at home Crabbe and Goyle would waste them..."


"That Beauregard thinks he's awfully haute-classe, doesn't he? I'd like to see how he'd react to a quick Confundus Charm..."

...always capping his mot-juste with a glance at the Gondorian in question. However, he was shrewd enough to cultivate the Gondorians too, regarding a mutual loathing of the Mordorians.

"Reeerrly, I say," he said to Beauregard in fine court Sindarin, "is that woman pretending to be some kind of plant? If you ask me, she looks like a gallows."

"Lady Angawen," he'd murmured, with deep concern in his voice, "what is that frightful mish-mash over there? It looks like the leftovers from the last Regal Banquet."

Ah, this was the way the House of Malfoy worked. Sans fois, sans lois. And the Lord Dracomir enjoyed every second of it. He only wished his proud parents, the Lord Luciamir and the Lady Narcissowen could see him at work...

As for the admittedly rather intimidating Ms Martinet, the Lord Dracomir was rather impressed that such an efficient and obstacle-creating civil servant could be born out of the chaotic slum of Mordor that he knew so well. Draco Malfoy quite liked authority figures. And somewhere the repressed soul of Tom Felton developed a small crush.


But this aside, there was a challenge to be taken on. Two truths and a lie-a game Tom Felton remembered from his Kensington prep school, and Draco Malfoy from the larks in the Slytherin common room. But he assumed a cold, serious Gondorian exterior to the topic, listening to the other Mordorians and Gondorians, largely in dignified taciturnity, occasionally breaking in to inquisit.

It was Beauregard's turn and he had just stated his three, anodyne choices. The Lord Dracomir decided the most fun course of action would be to completely upstage him. So he coughed, quietly but prominently, and recited, as if it were a solemn poem about broken swords and halflings from some wack dream:

I am the Scion of a Pure Line.
I am the most dangerous entity here.
My hair and my skin are pale.

Feanor of the Peredhil 05-15-2006 02:00 PM

Lord Dracomir turned paler than normal quite suddenly when a quietly disembodied voice spoke into his ear. No others showed any form of notice.

"Dangerous indeed. Baa."

As suddenly as it had come, it was gone. Within seconds Malfoidacil had convinced himself that it was his imagination acting up again.

Lhunardawen 05-15-2006 08:40 PM

What is wrong with me? Maika thought to herself, with a bit of panic.

She sat there quietly, once again utilizing her perfected practice of pretending to listen as her mind traveled elsewhere. But she was still listening, mind, listening without seeming to, with the rest not noticing her pretense. A hard tightrope to walk on, but Maika glides atop it with ease. But that is not the point here.

Her mind did not have too far to go this time; it just hovered over the faces right in front of her, visually taking in as much of each Gondorian without making it look like she was totally obsessed with them. She could still not comprehend why those emotions came with the ambassadors from Gondor. Needless to say, the overwhelming majority was of that which said "Business as usual." But she could not deny the faint vestiges of excitement at the thought of working with (or, perhaps more accurately, against) them, and the sheer wonder that " that's what people from Gondor are like!"

And it disturbed her. How does this differ from your normal duties? her voice of reason scolded her, yet for her own life she could not help but ignore it as she continued to observe the curious visitors.

Here's someone obviously of my age group. I hope not all Gondorians are like this stuck-up bear person. Now this is someone I can be proud of being associated with! Though I'm sure Skittles would immensely enjoy picking on him. Maika let her eyes linger, inconspicuously of course, at Hyarmenwë, but the sight of Angawen in her peripheral vision distracted her. I'm sure this is one lady I don't have to learn to hate.

The Dracomir fellow had just given his three statements when his face suddenly turned whiter than the wind-driven snow, if that was even possible - though none could tell why. Ms. Martinet took advantage of this distraction to further shame the poor individual. "How about you, Maikaelwen? What do you have to say?"

That you can go take a dip in Mount Doom, Maika thought. She turned politely to her. "Maika, Ms. Martinet, Maika. I'm in Mordor, anyway, so we would do well to make full use of that which brought me here."

"Alright then, Maika," she responded, saying the last word more loudly than necessary. Just then, as all the Mordorians expected, a resounding "Yes?" echoed along the corridor outside. The visitors jumped in their seats and looked around them with a confused frown. Ms. Martinet smirked, and Maika resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Instead she looked at each ambassador to call for their attention.

"I'm in my mid-thirties, I have a literal killer smile, and I sincerely welcome the presence of our Gondoria-"

"Lie!" the three Mordorians interjected as if on cue. The Gondorians scowled in response, likewise.

"Truth be told," Hyarmenwë said after quickly regaining his composure, "I would certainly not deny that the last could be a lie. But then, so is the second. A smile that literally kills? That's impossible."

"You're in Mordor, honey," Skittles countered. "Anything is possible."

"The only way that could be true," said Bearugard smugly, "is if dental hygiene does not exist here. Then again, I would not wonder at that."

"Hey, stop insulting us!" cried Igör, with a tear falling from his left eye and a manic glint on his right.

"Another chronic liar." It was Angawen Tupsë, still reeling from her recent embarrassment. "We have to be really careful in dealing with these people."

Maika's eyes flashed at the woman. Angawen quickly faced her and was about to hold her gaze, but Maika started to address the whole group.

"Speculate your entire lives. You will know the truth over my dead petite thirty-something body." She allowed herself a chuckle within.

Formendacil 05-18-2006 02:57 PM

"I'm in my mid-thirties, I have a literal killer smile, and I sincerely welcome the presence of our Gondoria-"

The normallest-seeming of the Mordorian diplomats spoke in turn, only to be interrupted by the other Mordorians:

"Lie!" Hyarmenwë scowled, as did the other Gondorian diplomats, they were willing enough to believe it was true, as Hyarmenwë said aloud:

"Truth be told, I would certainly not deny that the last could be a lie. But then, so is the second. A smile that literally kills? That's impossible."

"You're in Mordor, honey," Skittles had countered him. "Anything is possible."

There was more of the characteristic confusion and kerfuffle, ending in Maikaelwen's improbable, or so thought Hyarmenwë anyway, statement:

"Speculate your entire lives. You will know the truth over my dead petite thirty-something body."

No one was quite sure how to respond to that. Ms. Martinet decided to move things on.

"Hyarmenwë, why don't you next?"

The elderly Gondorian scowled somewhat at the absence of his noble title, but responded quickly enough with his two truth and a lie. He had, after all, spent a few minutes in thought on the matter.

"I was born in Minas Tirith, I have three daughters, and my wife was named Lalwen."

The questions didn't go over too well.

"How are we supposed to have the faintest clue?" asked Maikaelwen. "None of us know anything about your life at all!"

"A bit jealous that a Gondorian outdid you?" Angawen egged her on.

"Outdid me? He's practically cheating! How are we supposed to know."

"I think that guessing the right answer is probably the thing you OUGHT to be doing," said Malfoidacil with an air of someone extremely bored.

"I guess that it's the last one!" said Skittles. "I don't think this old fogey EVER had a wife!"

"Then that would make my second statement a falsehood as well, since I would not have three daughters then, now would I?" pointed out Hyarmenwë.

"You don't have to marry to have kids!" said Igor, almost earnestly. "Common-law relationships are responsible for over half the families in the greater Gorgoroth area, I've heard."

"Such things are reason for being Assigned to Mordor," said Hyarmenwë coldly. "And not only is it CLEARLY beneath my dignity, but one can see that I have not been Assigned."

"But you're here, aren't you?" pointed out Skittles. "Weren't you assigned to come here?"

Hyarmenwë sighed.

"It could still be the last question," Maika noted. "His wife could have a different name."

"You are correct," Hyarmenwë nodded as graciously as he might to a Mordorian. "Who's turn is it now?"

Feanor of the Peredhil 05-18-2006 04:26 PM

"It is mine." Alli stepped forward from shadows that nobody had seen her slip into. The noise died down once more as the diplomats awaited instruction.

Or at least it did for a split second.

"What is this travesty of a diplomatic mission?" demanded Angawen coldly. "We were informed that we would be negotiating a treaty pertaining to immigration laws. I do not know why are you wasting our time with such trivial matters as these."

Alli met the woman's glare calmly, smiling at her with infuriating politeness.

"Lady Tupsè, I assure you that these matters are of the utmost importance. Just because you are ignorant of their cruciality to these proceedings means nothing of the truth of it. Have you ever seen oxygen, and yet do you breathe it? I suspect that if our world were comprised of only what you know, it would fit within this room and perhaps need to wear a helmet lest it hurt itself."

Alli stood straight, an amused glint dancing in her eyes. She shouldn't have said it, but she couldn't resist. She'd just received news that shook her calm. How could she expect these talented, if often disagreeable, people to do their job when they were still uncertain of what it was? And more importantly, how could Alli do the same?

Roggie had come to her moments ago in a rage, ranting over the latest group of Mordorians to escape. They had been spotted crossing the border and when followed, they were seen joining an armed guard of Gondorian soldiers. Short-staffed, Roggie's guardians of Cirith Ungol had been unable to pursue and reclaim the illegals. Roggie had recieved the message only this morning. Sixty-seven escapees. Sixty-seven. Intolerable, and that Mardil was helping them!

He'd come to Alli, telling her to call off the discussions that had only just begun, informing her harshly that her new assignment was to augment her Gondorian spy network, imprison the delegates, and perhaps torture them, though not necessarily in that order. She was at a loss for what to do. Yet she must do something, and so she had slipped quietly through a back entrance to the deliberating chambers and listened to each person speak, holding back laughter over Skittles's antics.

Now... now something must be done to calm Roggie.

"It is my turn." she repeated. "There has been a new development. Discussion that, I will admit, has not exactly begun, has been stalled. Gondorian delegates are as of right now confined to their quarters with the exception of Malfoidacil." She continued loudly, interrupting several cries of outrage. "He has already been allowed free passage between countries. He is not a visiter, he is a dual citizen. Ergo, he is well suited for the favor I am about to ask him; one that I am certain none of you will feel any jealousy over.

"It is for your own safety that you have been restricted to the level of the castle in which your suites are located. You may freely move between them, however you will be met by guards should you try to leave the general area. I do not suggest it. Malfoidacil, please stay. Skittles, Maika, and of course Ms. Martinet, please stay as well. Everyone else is dismissed. Mordorians, go on your way; have adventures should you feel the need. You will be summoned when you are needed. Gondorians, you will be escorted upstairs to your rooms. Talk, complain, interact... do what you will. But do not stray far."

Alli watched several angry diplomats stand and gather their belongings. The door opened and an armed guard stood to escort them. When they were gone, the Mordorians also dispersed, presumably to have a good time somewhere. When Alli turned back from the door, Dracomir, Maika, and Skittles looked at her curiously and even Ms. Martinet seemed slightly less austere than usual. Alli cut to the clichèd chase.

"Roggie just got word of a large number of escapees. He is not happy. He's called off negotiations and forbade me from trying to convince him to restart them. However he did not remember to forbid me from getting other people to talk to him. I want the three of you to talk him around. You are free to refuse. Ms. Martinet will preside to guarantee safety and to take notes. What say you all?"

Diamond18 05-19-2006 12:27 AM

Skittles titled her head to the side, much like a dog, and gave the idea some thought. Then, as a strange gleam came into her eyes, she responded, “Personally, Allamee, I’d rather torture the Gondorians. Roggie wants ’em interrogated, right?”

Alli reluctantly nodded, but added, “Roggie’s in a foul temper, I’d like to see cooler heads prevail.”

“Then why is she even here?” Maika asked, jerking her head toward Skittles.

Alli sighed wearily, “Roggie likes her, I thought maybe, someone he’s friendly with--”

“Torture is fun,” Skittles interrupted glibly. In a deft movement, she extracted four switchblades from her clothing and began to juggle them. As she juggled, she snapped them open one by one, and smiled in what was undeniably a terrifying manner. Her audience was mesmerized for a moment by the circus act, then Skittles twisted quickly and made three of the switchblades spear the floor in a triangle around Malfodacil. The fourth one she held glinting at his throat, and his eyes bugged out as he went still.

“Skittles!” Alli said sternly.

Skittles smiled and cut off a lock of Malfodacil’s hair as she swept the blade away from him. He let out a breath of relief, but gave her such a look of darkness that it cannot be described with anything remotely Tolkien-spirited. So Mordorian and anakronistic was this look -- and from a Gondorian diplomat, no less!

“So, can I interrogate the other Gondorians?” she asked, turning large puppy dog eyes towards Alli. “Please?”

JennyHallu 05-19-2006 05:42 AM

Ms. Martinet sighed and rolled her eyes at her employer, then turned to Skittles with exasperated logic.

"You're a tree, dear. You're above that sort of thing, aren't you?" Skittles immediately froze, and Martinet turned back to Alli with a sigh. "That's too easy, really.

"Meanwhile, why on earth should you pick me for this? Roggie doesn't like me; I make him nervous." This statement was accompanied by a disarming smile, as she clicked a blue-inked ballpoint pen in and out, in and out.

"You make him nervous on purpose," Alli accused, but her eyes sparkled.

"Exactly. You think I want to hang around in the presence of a calm, rational balrog who might remember people taste better toasted? Besides, it's fun. You don't think I'm going to stop, do you?"

Hookbill the Goomba 05-19-2006 10:12 AM

"If you want things doing," grumbled Smilog the Dwarf, "then ask a professional! I don't have time for this." he leaped off his chair, it was a little too big for him and he hit the ground with a thump. "If negotiations are called off, then I see no reason to re start them. Some of us have little time on our hands." He looked at everyone in turn and then finally at Alli.

"I bid you good day," he said angrily before turning around dramatically and, tripping over his own beard. He fell forth and whacked his chin on the hard floor, he let out a cry of annoyance and many began to snigger. Feeling dejected, the little Dwarf sat back down in his chair, hoping that everyone would ignore him now.

"So, are you volunteering?" asked Alli, with a smirk towards Smilog.

"No!" said the Dwarf sternly, "On second thought, yes! Yes I am. Better a Dwarf is sent to do this job then a-" he suddenly remembered how outnumbered he was, "well, you know. We Dwarves can be... very... persuasive..." he coughed quite violently and clutched at his heart. Before anyone even considered that he might be in trouble, he stopped and stood up straight. He folded his arms and looked Alli straight in the eyes, She thinks she can manipulate me, he thought, I'll show her. I'll show them all! No one manipulates a Dwarf!

Anguirel 05-19-2006 11:01 AM

Filthy little mudblood! How dare the ghastly low-born creature defile his perfectly groomed locks...

Then Dracomir's heady mixture of rage, contempt and panic was calmed by a firm, irrefutable voice addressed to Skittles. Or, as Dracomir suspected, Nancy.

"You're a tree, dear. You're above that sort of thing, aren't you?"

It was the secretary, Ms Martinet. Dracomir flashed her a speedy grin of appreciation as Skittles stretched out her arms, humming something apparently meant to represent the tweeting of birds nesting in a great, strong, oak.

Note to self. Or one of one's selves. Skittles can be neutralised by being reminded she is a great oak tree. By the way, Ms Martinet continues to be rather impressive. Must discover her first name...

Dracomir mentally shrugged off such thoughts, turning suavely to the Lady Spymaster.

"I would not normally deign to speak with a mere mudblood King of Mordor, madam, but since our acquaintance stretches back some considerable distance," he smirked slightly, "I will assist, if not exactly willingly, without reluctance. Mother always says that my persuasive skills are without peer."

The Lord Malfoidacil stretched slightly, yawning at an impressive volume without sacrificing any of his style. "The King of Morder should be absolutely nothing. It pains me to say it, but I have had much experience with drunken oafs and mudbloods," he draaawwwled.

And it was true. A certain gamekeeper came to mind. But at this point they were interrupted, not by a Giant, but by a Dwarf-Smilog, who had hitherto remained sourly aloof from proceedings. He had too plebeian and rustic an accent for Dracomir to bother listening to whatever he was saying, so he watched the stunted fellow's beard moving up and down. He was interested to see whether it was free-flowing or stiffened with some kind of salt. Or, whatever. Actually it was really amusing.

"Grrrurrrph, Dwarves grrrk grrrn rrrk persurrrarsirrve," the Dwarf insisted, before coughing loudly. The Lord Malfoidacil brightened up. Perhaps this mission was going to be rather entertaining after all.

the guy who be short 05-19-2006 12:49 PM

Angawen sat penseively in her quarters. She still could not believe she had let such emotion overcome her. For years she had been mineral-like in her lack of emotion, her ability to keep her head in all situations. Just one international crossing and her ability to control herself seemed to have vanished.

It was the people in Mordor, that was the problem. She had not experienced such people before; quite rightly, for they were indeed abominations. Skittles... She forced herself not to linger on that woman. But even Lady Alli... yes, she admired Lady Alli. Here was a fierce woman of an iron will, much akin to herself. She could not help feel respect as well as the natural dislike that should arise from such an encounter. And yet, even in her, one found the mannerisms of Mordor seeping through. Tupsè, indeed. Tup-seh... She turned her mind from mispronunciation, for she knew what could happen if she indulged herself in faux-indignation.

One thing, in any case, was clear. Mordor was a place unlike any other, a place that had baited her when no land in Gondor could. But she had merely been caught off her guard. She knew now what she faced, and resolved to toughen her defence, to be always on guard, and to show no more anger, nor any hint of feeling whatsoever, in this land. She had not spent years becoming a woman of importance to become a lowly emotive creature upon stepping into Mordor.

A muffled "come in."

Angawen turned to her bodyguards. "You are to remain at this door. Nobody, Mordorian or Gondorian, is to enter this room until I come out." She did not bother waiting for a response, and opening the oak door, marched into Hyarmenwë's quarters.

He was sitting at his table, bare save a candle and a manuscript opened before him. He looked at her, and neither his mouth nor his eyes softened as he greeted her. "Hail, Lady Angawen of Gondor. A pleasant surprise to see you here."

"It is most pleasurable," she replied in Quenya, "to meet with you here, Lord Hyarmenwë. May I take a seat?" She indicated the only other chair in the room, hewn of rough wood, opposite his.

"Of course, Lady," he replied, still speaking in Westron. "May I inquire wherefore you use the High tongue? There is no need of such ceremony here."

Angawen seated herself opposite him and smiled to herself. To hear Hyarmenwë seem to belittle ceremony was worth at least fifty Skittles running amok. She continued in Quenya, "I feel the urge to speak with you, Lord. I have worries I feel only you may deal with," she noticed him sit up a little at this, though she knew he didn't trust a word of it, "and felt that it would be beneficial to make full use of our mutual knowledge of the High Tongue to minimise the thread of being overheard and understood by undesirable parties."

He succumbed and turned the conversation into a purely Quenyan phenomenon. "You have such little faith in the citizens of Mordor? We are under diplomatic protection and I'm sure you have two sturdy men guarding the door. What chance is there of being spied upon?"

"You have reason concerning my guards," she replied, "but I am not sure we are any longer protected by diplomatic immunity. I remind you that our mission had been - cancelled. In any case, these people are most unlike us, and I would not trust to their manners nor to their goodwill. Lady Alli is a cunning woman. I do not see her passing up a chance to listen in on all we say for her own motives."

Hyarmenwë nodded curtly. "That may be; but have we not found that these Mordorians speak Quenya as well as we?"

"No," she replied abruptly. "I do not believe all of them do. That Dwarf, he did not understand our words. Nor did the girl. The madwoman I can be no judge of."

He nodded once more. "Then it is fair that we should speak in Quenya. What counsel may I give?"

Angawen did not reply straight away. She gathered her thoughts before putting him the question "Why, Hyarmenwë, do you believe you were sent on this assignment?"

"I am a great statesman and most loyal to the Kingdom," he answered without a second thought.

"Yes. And I?"

"You have a cunning and cold mind. The mind of a ruthless man, not a soft woman."

She ignored the swipe. "And Bearugard and Malfoidacil?"

"I do not claim to understand the mind of our - Lord - Mardil."

"Hyarmenwë, I come to you because I know you can be trusted to hold yourself to the will of Gondor. I, too, hold myself accountable to Gondor, through the Lord Mardil. I know you, Lord, and you know me. But I do not know Malfoidacil, and I fear what will holds him to it."

"You worry about his loyalty? Mardil would not have selected Malfoidacil if he were not fully assured of his loyalty."

"And yet, do you not find it strange that all we three should be expulsed so rudely from a gathering of states, whereas he should be admitted to the council of Lady Alli?"

Hyarmenwë remained quiet.

"He knows Lady Alli. They are old friends from this land - this land whence he came. I shall be blunt, Hyarmenwë. I do not trust him."

Hyarmenwë replied slowly. "I cannot claim to share your distrust, Lady, for I have faith in Mardil. But I agree that he is something of an anomaly. I am not at ease around him."

"If you were to leave your life in his hands, would you trust him?"

"Nay, Lady, nor you," he replied with something of a smile on his old face. "But," he continued, "you have given me cause to think. Perhaps one can be loyal to Mardil and yet to Mordor at once. I have more confidence in Bearugard."

"And I less. Good blood does not a good statesman make. I think he is not yet mature enough for these negotiations."

"He has more years than you."

"He has all he wants, that much is true. He will not make Lady Alli agree to terms by demanding them bluntly of her. I do not see he understands the ways of negotiation. He is young, still, at heart. In that his father committed him an unkindness."

Again, her words were met with a silence from the Lord, who was staring intently but blankly at the manuscript in front of him. After thirty seconds, he looked up. "You come here to complain of our companions. Malfoidacil is, you say, a traitor - do not interrupt me," he said, for she had tried to object. "In so many words, this is what you said. And Bearugard is a fool. What then am I? A conservative imbecile, no doubt? What is your point?"

Angawen smiled at him entirely unconvincingly. "Lord, our thoughts have not always been at accord. You have not always approved of me, nor I of you. However, as ambassadors, we must push these insignificant personal details aside. I have utmost respect for your powers of speech, persuasion, and duty. Some of these qualities I find worryingly lacking in our comrades."

He waited for her to go on.

"Lord, we must not allow personal factors to come between us. I shall be blunt. I feel Malfoidacil and Bearugard are incompetent for this task. I see that you share my thoughts on Malfoidacil, at least, though you are unwilling to admit it. Therefore, I say to you, that we two should work as closely together as we may. We must not keep secrets nor even thoughts from one another. To succeed in this harsh land, we must work together, as if we were one. We must," she finished passionately, "work together for the good of Gondor!"

"If I understand you, you would have me share my thoughts with you - this is fair, for you are correct, it is necessary in these circumstances - and to cut off my thoughts from Malfoidacil and Bearugard. Lady, I too shall be blunt. I do not trust Malfoidacil, though my distrust does not come close to yours. However, I smell no ill-will in Bearugard. Therefore, I accept your proposition to forget our petty dislikes for a greater cause and to coalesce, on condition that Beaurgard be admitted to our party."

The conversation had not gone as Angawen had anticipated. But still - it was of little import if that immature child, as she thought him, should be admitted to the group, as long as he kept his mouth shut. The important thing was that this task required a degree of unity she had not hitherto anticipated, and that it was absolutely necessary to counter the threat of treachery in Malfoidacil.

"Lord, I accept."

Boromir88 05-19-2006 01:33 PM

Bearugard began pacing, back and forth, in his room; unable to rest or calm down. His thoughts kept focusing on the strange surroundings and of the events earlier in the day. He began muttering to himself, "Absolutely ridiculous, their treatment, the icebreaker, everything...ridiculous. You'd think they have never been through negotiations, because they certainly don't know how to negotiate."

Bearugard stopped his mindless rambling as he thought he heard faint whispering. "Sounds like it's coming from Hyarmenwe's room." he said to himself. What he thought sounded like Angaewen's voice, he made out the words, "Lord, I accept."

Then the talking stopped, he heard a door open, then close, and footsteps came approaching to his door. Bearugard quickly sat at his desk and straightened himself up. Before there was a knock, he said "The door's open." There was a pause, as if it took a while for the Gondorians on the other side to comprehend. The door opened and first stepped in Hyarmenwe followed by Angaewen.

"Just what is it you accepted, Lady Angaewen," Bearugard smirked.

Rather appalled Angaewen said "You were eavesdropping on our conversation?"

Of course, Bearugard only heard that one part, but he continued to play along.
"You know you should also practice lowering your voices, these walls here are super-ultra-mega thin. You don't know what unfriendly ears may be listening."

His smirk went away as a strange silence entered the room and Hyarmenwe and Angaewen simply stared at him. Breaking the silence, Bearugard got up from his seat, and began to pace around the room again, he now spoke in a hushed tone, "Well, since we are all Gondorians here, I guess I need to get this off my chest, as I'm sure I'm not the only one. Today's activities were exceedingly strange, you know what I speak of. There's no doubt in my mind it was a ploy to try to get information out of us. Whilst the Mordorians threw around their musings and lies, we were forced into an uncomfortable situation in hopes that one of us would break. I need not say that I did not fall to such obvious tricks. My outburst was to not get anyone to spill the beans, or give any useful information, to these Mordorians. Now it seems like she will take us individually to try to break us. But we must hold together, after all - in this place - I am all you have and you are all I have."

JennyHallu 05-19-2006 01:50 PM

Ms. Martinet had remained silent through the dwarf's offer of help and Malfoidacil's declamation. Everything that man says is a declamation, though. He's almost as bad as Hyarmanwe.

"I wonder..." she mused aloud. Alli turned toward her curiously. "Roggie hates me, we all know this. But..."

"But what?"

"I wonder if Lola would help. He likes Lola. Everybody likes Lola."

Alli looked at her in disbelief. "You want Lola to do it?"

Ms. Martinet shrugged. "It might work. I haven't got a chance, you know that."

"But then you won't be around to help me."

Ms. Martinet shrugged, a small smile playing on her thinly pursed lips. "I daresay, the way these negotiations are going, that Lola's skills might be more use after all."

"If you're sure...," Alli said.

"Of course I am. I'll her. Give me an hour or so." Ms. Martinet stalked out of the room, heading purposefully down the hall.

Malfoidacil cleared his throat. "Lola?"

"Mmm-hmm." Alli seemed amused by something.

"Who is that? And will Ms. Martinet be back soon; I'd like to get this over with."

"She's a friend of mine. Quite a character. And no, Ms. Martinet will not be back."

"Does she not like this Lola?"

Alli grinned. "I'm not sure if she likes Lola or not...but the two are never together. Their personalities are...hmm...'mutually exclusive' is the best I can do."

Formendacil 05-19-2006 03:47 PM

Hyarmenwë had returned to his room in an ill mood. The "icebreaker" had been pointless, the negotiations had not even started, and now they were cut off pre-emptively. He was also ever so slightly afraid that Mardil would abandon the diplomats to the tender mercies of Mordor, if the negotiations were not reopened. And such a life held nothing but horror for him.

There was a knock on his door.

"Come in," he intoned, straigtening in his seat. The Lady Angawen entered. He hailed her politely.

She addressed him in Quenya. He replied in Westron. There was a brief discussion about the appropriateness of the High Tongue. He ended agreeing that it was appropriate. Then they got down to the real reason Angawen was there.

"Why, Hyarmanwë, do you believe you were sent on this assignment?"

"I am a great statesman and most loyal to the Kingdom," he answered without a second thought- or so it appeared to Angawen. It was not entirely true. There was still the nagging fear that he had been sent to Mordor to get him out from under Mardil's feet. His loyalties to the old King were well known indeed.

Angawen asked him what he thought about the inclusion of herself, Bearugard, and Malfoidacil in the party.

"I do not claim to understand the mind of our - Lord - Mardil," he had replied politely enough. In truth, though, if Mardil had sent him to Mordor in hopes of being rid of him, then the same held true for Angawen. She could also be a dangerous opponent. As for Bearugard, he was a useless twit, and Hyarmenwë couldn't blame Mardil if it was the case that he wanted to be rid of him. And then there was Malfoidacil. Hyarmenwë didn't trust him. He seemed, at first, to be merely a spoiled, arrogant child, not unlike Bearugard. But since arriving in Mordor, another facet of Malfoidacil had started showing through. Hyarmenwë was sure that he didn't like it.

It appeared that Angawen had the same feelings. Though Hyarmenwë did his best to present a balanced, and possibly sympathetic view of Malfoidacil, for the sake of argument, he was admittedly in agreement with her. One argument in particular struck him:

"He knows Lady Alli. They are old friends from this land - this land whence he came. I shall be blunt, Hyarmanwë. I do not trust him."

While still attempting to maintain a balanced disposition, the thought occured to him: Malfoidacil holds dual citizenship. To which realm does his loyalty truly lie? It was a forboding thought.

And so conversation turned to Bearugard. Angawen trusted his abilities not at all. Hyarmenwë wasn't so sure that he did, either, but he did think there was a bit more depth to the man than appeared on first sight. Surely, with a father such as his, there must be a man of great power somewhere inside him. On the face of it, though, Hyarmenwë doubted it.

What a life it was, he pondered, surrounded here in a dangerous land by people on whom he ought to be able to depend, yet not one of the three could he rely on. Not Malfoidacil, not Bearugard, and not Angawen. Even as he pondered though, Angawen proposed an alliance. He agreed -on one condition- that Bearugard be included.

Angawen was not pleased with this, but she accepted it. It appeared that her main concern was with Malfoidacil. And Hyarmenwë agreed. Indeed, that was why he proposed Bearugard's inclusion. Until such time as any of them were found wanting, the three Gondorians who were at a loss in Mordor should stick together. Bearugard, though an insipid fool, was their natural ally, and ought to be cultivated, lest they lose him altogether. And allies in Mordor would be few and far between.

"Lord, I accept."

The deal made, Hyarmenwë and Angawen departed his room to seek out their-partner to be. He was not hard to find. He was in his room, and appeared to have an inkling of what they were up to. Whatever the case, there he stood, and he was as self-centred an idiot as ever.

"Well, since we are all Gondorians here, I guess I need to get this off my chest, as I'm sure I'm not the only one. Today's activities were exceedingly strange, you know what I speak of. There's no doubt in my mind it was a ploy to try to get information out of us. Whilst the Mordorians threw around their musings and lies, we were forced into an uncomfortable situation in hopes that one of us would break. I need not say that I did not fall to such obvious tricks. My outburst was to not get anyone to spill the beans, or give any useful information, to these Mordorians. Now it seems like she will take us individually to try to break us. But we must hold together, after all - in this place - I am all you have and you are all I have."

"I think you and the Lady Angawen alike have taken a touch too much offence to the proceedings thus far," Hyarmenwë said, raising a hand and taking a seat at the table. When Angawen sat also, the two chairs belonging to it were taken, and only a rather bare-looking footstool remained. Bearugard sniffed at it disdainfully, and refused it. Hyarmenwë ignored him and continued.

"Certainly, they were highly irregular, and without a point other than to set us ill at ease, but to respond to them in the manner in which you did was rather foolish. To let them know that they were getting to you was inadvisable. It signalled to them that they hold the upper hand, and it suggests that we are easily upset- and so easily manipulated. A diplomat must never appear manipulable." Hyarmenwë was looking not so much at Bearugard as at Angawen.

"All right," she admitted. "Letting loose a volley of fury wasn't the best way to act, but it did clarify one thing immediately: we are not dealing with easily manipulable amateurs either, as might have been suspected seeing how we ARE in Mordor, after all. But it should also be quite clear, to both of you, that I have my limits on how far I can be pushed and nobody, including Mardil himself, can push me over them without a fight."

"Quite," said Bearugard sniffily. "One has one's limits."

"One has to bend with the wind, at times," said Hyarmenwë with a half-frown. "And on that note, one has to wonder what will happen if the negotiations do remain stalled. How many of us would Mardil truly mourn to lose in Mordor? If it cost him concessions to Roggie, would he attempt to extradite us?"

"My dear Hyarmenwë," said Bearugard haughtily. "In my case, he could simply not afford not to."

"I think you underestimate Mardil," said Angawen. "He would not willingly waste talent such as ours-" something in the way Angawen said it suggested that she meant just herself and Hyarmenwë- "but you have a point. But there's nothing we can do about it until we know one way or another if the negotiations are still on. The big issue right now is Malfoidacil. The boy is a dual citizen. What is to stop him from siding with the Mordorians in the negotiations? And I've seen no indications that he feels any particular loyalty to any of us- or to Mardil. That boy looks out for himself."

"He has a certain appreciation for noble blood," noted Bearugard. "A commendable taste, if you ask me."

"His appreciation for noble blood won't get him to help us, not if it's not in Malfoidacil's best interests," pressed on Angawen. "What we need is some leverage- something that we can use to control him. I don't suppose you have any ideas?"

"The Malfoidacils have played both sides of every political game in Gondor for their own advantage for years," said Hyarmenwë. "If we could dig up some dirt on him here in Mordor, it might be possible, but there's nothing from Gondor that will easily control him. And I don't forsee us being able to to do much digging, confined to the palace and endangered by the anakronisms as we are."

"He's very well connected too," said Bearugard. "Related to many of the best families in Gondor. I believe he's a distant cousin on my mother's father's side of the family."

"There must be something!" Angawen pressed on. "If we can't rely on him in council, then we've no way of knowing if we can hope to accomplish Lord Mardil's aims. And, as Hyarmenwë has already said, we need to present a strong front. Holding the negotiations in Mordor might have been all very well from Mardil's point of view, but it puts us at a disadvantage."

"I wonder..." Hyarmenwë mused. "What tales of his son, if spread abroad in the right circles in Minas Tirith, would scandalize Lord Luciamir the most?"

Diamond18 05-19-2006 07:19 PM

"I would not normally deign to speak with a mere mudblood King of Mordor..."

These words brought Skittles back from a contented state, swaying majestically above a bird filled meadow. One of the birds, a pale little thing that sounded more like a blue jay than a songbird, spoke ill of King Roggie, and Tree-Skittles let out an angry:

"Haroom! A Mudblood! The King of Mordor is a Balrog, you milky little sop! A Maia, you skinny twaddle headed pie-faced pookabunny! How dare you label him as anything less than the magnificent specimen of magical beastliness that he is!?"

In Entish.

Since it takes a very long time to say anything in Entish, while she was working up this indignant schpeil an entire conversation and a half had taken place. And everyone just thought she was muttering to herself.

Suddenly, she turned on her heel and headed for the door.

"Now where are you going?" asked Ms. Martinet.

"I must change my clothes!" responded Skittles, in high dudgeon. "This calls for leather!"

Kath 05-20-2006 05:11 AM

Igör had wandered off after being dismissed. He was still smarting a little from the comments made in the negotiation room but as he thought of them he recalled Skittles’ accidental relieving of the tension and couldn’t help but smile. He was glad she was involved in this, if anything would confuse and bewilder the Gondorians enough to persuade them to sort things out she would.

Speak of the devil, Igör thought to himself as he walked past Hyarmenwë’s quarters. Angawen’s guards were outside it, and Igör wondered just what she was so afraid of that she needed them to accompany her everywhere. He caught a small portion of their conversation as he walked past. Though his ears did not match, both had excellent hearing, and while he did not mean to eavesdrop it was sometimes simply impossible not to. Fortunate enough to be skilled in the Elven languages Igör understood their words, though he despaired at their formal tone. How did they ever get a point across when it had to be buried under layers of compliments, hastily backtracked insults and general wordiness? But, it seemed that there was dissention within the opposition’s ranks. Igör smiled to himself, making a mental note to inform Alli of this next time he saw her, though he thought it likely that she would already know. Her spy network was one of if not the best, and she was probably listening to this conversation as it occurred.

He continued on down the corridor with his awkward limp still in place, feeling the eyes of Angawen’s guards following him. His ears picked up their whispered conversation about how odd he looked and grinned. He didn’t mind the insults when he was putting his little act on. Suddenly though the guards stopped talking and there was a slight commotion behind him. Turning he saw various Gondorians entering the others rooms, with what sounded like a lot of anger and consternation. By the time he had thought up a reasonable excuse for walking back past the rooms again however (by removing an eye and rolling it down the corridor, to the disgust of the guards) there seemed to be agreement within. Troubled now, Igör decided to share his recent findings with Alli as soon as possible.

Returning to the negotiation room he knocked before entering, knowing his ability to move without noise sometimes gave people such a scare they were unable to do anything but gape like a fish for quite a long time after, which would probably not be helpful at this point in time, especially when there was already someone behaving as a tree in the room. Just as he thought this Skittles desisted from that activity and raced past his, yelling something about needing to change her clothes.

Leaving her to her madness Igör moved toward Alli, and motioned her to one side. Malfoidacil was still in the room and it would not be wise to let him know what the other Gondorians thought of him. Alli joined him over away from the others and listened to what Igör told her with an expression ever he couldn’t read. Finishing his story, Igör waited to hear whether this was useful information, and whether she wished him to do anything with or about it.

Lhunardawen 05-20-2006 05:54 AM

Maika was quite disappointed that Alli had to arrive and ruin all the fun. It was not a regular occurence to have fun with Gondorians - probably because this was the first time she ever met at least one - and she wanted to enjoy this icebreaker as much as she can. But looking at the Spymaster's face she could tell something was up. Yep, something was definitely up.

She patiently waited for Skittles, Ms. Martinet, and the young Gondorian to have their say in this new assignment, seemingly weighing their words with care. But as they talked and juggled knives and talked more and acted like a tree, Maika's thoughts were still on Hyarmenwë's three statements. Particularly on the "three daughters" part. For some unexplainable reason her heart raced when she heard that, and she tried to hide it through participation. And she got the lie right. Hmm. Maika instantly snapped back to the conversation around her.

As Skittles sped off for leather, Maika took her turn to respond to Alli. "I'm sure my skin will be reacting violently against this in no time, but I'll do it. At least I'll do what I can. For Mordor."

For Mordor? Somehow it didn't quite sound right to her. She shrugged it off.

"But one favor, please. Will you tell him to have his broken airconditioning system repaired?"

Maika had barely picked up Alli's response - if she had responded at all - when she raised a hand to excuse herself and walked towards a concerned-looking Igör. Maika sighed. For her sake, or her skin's rather, she hoped it could be done.

Anguirel 05-20-2006 06:51 AM

Dracomir had been irritated by Alli's obvious evasiveness on the identity of Lola, and was inwardly absolutely livid when the misshapen Igor took the Lady Spymaster aside to give her information in a manner which was quite obviously designed to exclude him. He was currently isolated from his fellow-diplomats, without being in the slightest particle trusted by Alli, despite all they had been through. He had hoped, apart from anything else, to have a friendly conversation catching up on events since Dol Gaurgauroth...

He knew, however, that the only hope of coming closer to success in his vital task was keeping his emotions untrackable, and so he smiled and cleared his mind, though not without a mental curse at Aunt Bellatrix-why couldn't she have taught him Legilimency as well as this Occlumency rubbish...?

Dracomir now found himself alone with the Mordorian diplomat Maika. Perhaps he could cultivate some kind of friendship here that would prove useful in the long term.

"You seem worried about your fair complexion in the presence of the boorish King Roggie," he sallied. "As you can see, I suffer from a similar problem. It's a clear sign of nobility of blood. I often find a Disillusionment Charm can help lessen the effect of exposure...would you allow me to help?"

Feanor of the Peredhil 05-20-2006 10:06 AM

Alli had listened to Igör gleefully. Though negotiations were in a bit of a rut (she chastised herself for the understatement), she trusted in her people's abilities to restart them... at least eventually. And when they did, knowing that the Gondorian officials didn't like each other or trust each other... Ooh, she was excited. Igör had no idea and awaited a response to show through Alli's cool eyes, or at least for her dark red lips to slip softly into a deadly smile. Alli shot a glance at Malfoidacil, drawing his wand in the direction of Maika, before answering quickly in a soft tone revealing nothing.

"Igör, if you can find out more without them knowing it, feel free. Thank you for telling me this; it is helpful."

Dismissed, Igör left, presumably to roll a body part or two through the Gondorian suites.

Alli returned to Maika and Malfoidacil after a moment of thought. Skittles in leather... oh my. Lola was coming... that should be a treat. And dissention in the ranks... Alli couldn't help but wonder why Mardil had chosen these particular ambassadors, most especially Bearugard. Alli remembered him from before she was assigned... he was one of the worst nobles, she'd thought, with no care for the lives of those beneath him. Alli had spent her life quietly loathing monarchies for their continued oppression of the proletariat. Now she worked for one, yet she did not dislike it. Roggie's power structure cared nothing for nobility and though Gondorians might think it due to the distinct lack of nobility in most of Mordor (why, Alli had often wondered, were there so few? Surely the hadn't been immune from Anakronisms...), it was not. Before Roggie, Khamul had quietly run the country through the mafia; no nobles. Now Roggie had advisors specially chosen meritocratically, not for their blood.

"Malfoidacil, please refrain from casting spells upon my workers, no matter how clever you find your charm work to be. Maika, I will speak to Buildings and Grounds workers about it. More likely will be that we'll merely have to open a window. If you like, I have skin cream that works wonders, and it is not even from Panakeia."

Maika stared blankly at Alli over the joke, but her eyes brightened some around the edges, knowing well stories of last year's escape. She'd seen it all on reality television and knew that Panakeia once profited from the sales of really, truly bad makeup products.

"If you will please wait for Lola to arrive and for Skittles to return, Lola will surely guide you all to Roggie's audience chamber wherein he is currently lurking in a foul mood. He will refuse to see you... ignore him on my orders. Pound upon the door until it opens.

"Tom..." Malfoidacil looked up quickly. "If you have time later tonight... it has been a long time. Share stories over drinks? You'll be pleased to learn that I'm fresh out of veritaserum... We'll be stuck with fruit juice, I'm afraid. What say you?"

Without waiting for response, Alli grinned and left, shooting the words "I'll be in my office." over her right shoulder.

Diamond18 05-20-2006 12:53 PM

Skittles got sidetracked on her way to her quarters by a procession of large cats singing in six part harmony.

Not really.

She reached the room that had been provided to her upon her arrival at the Mount Doom Palace and Casino and threw open her trunk. She had to dig through several layers of silk and taffeta to reach the pleather and spandex, but dug right past those cheap imitations to get to the real thing at the bottom. She pulled out a black catsuit and smiled.

When she left her room, she was a different woman. Sort of. She was still ten feet away from sane, but instead of skipping or waltzing along, she lurked from corner to corner. Like a cat, only on two feet. Most of the time, anyway; sometimes she crawled, but only when she really felt like it.

She met a few hapless orcs along the way, whom she had to silence lest they talked. Talked to whom, about what, no one besides Skittles really knows, but she felt that this was of the utmost importance. A quick snick of the switchblade and they went down before even knowing what had sliced them.

She sidestepped a trail of fingers rolling down the hallway and reentered the negotiation room unseen and unheard by all. (In truth, everyone saw her, but no one really cared.)

Gliding like liquid oil, she sidled up to Dracomir and said in a low, menacing voice, “Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”

He turned slowly and looked at her as if she had sprouted an extra head, so she reached up to feel her neck and shoulders, just to make sure. Nope, she thought, somewhat disappointed. Still just the one.

Anguirel 05-20-2006 01:18 PM

Tom surveyed Skittles with an even, patronising gaze. He did, he admitted to himself, think the black leather rather more tasteful than the former hideously bright melange that the star of the Mordorian Foreign Office had preferred wearing that Alli had left, he was strictly tempted to respond with "As a matter fact, yes" followed by a quick Full Body Bind Curse, but he rejected the plan for the moment as overcomplicating an already convoluted situation.

Time for a charm offensive.

"Why, Skittles, you look ravishing," he said. "Positively, ah, oakish. Doesn't she, Maika?" he added with a step back, only to find that Maika was no longer in the immediate vicinity. "Ah, well, take my word for it. My lady, if an oak tree had decided to take up a career in stealth, cunning and assassination, it would be...your very spitting image."

Another step back.

"So, um, Skittles, do you know anything about this Lola character who's going to be joining us?"

He kept his left hand clenched tightly in his robe's inside pocket, his wand ready to be out. Just in case. Smalltalk with this maiden could be quite tricky, and he really didn't like getting hurt.

Diamond18 05-20-2006 03:10 PM

Skittles felt an odd twinge, and blinked. Something nagging in the back of her head told her that she was angry as this incredibly pale boy standing next to her, but she couldn’t quite remember the reason. Did this have anything to do with the unfortunate breath mint incident? No, that had happened last month, and was taken care of...

She shook her head, and heard the end of Dracomir’s question.

“Yeah, I know her,” she said. “Her name is Lola, she was a showgirl with yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there at the Copa, Copacabana, the hottest spot north of Havana, where music and passion were always the fashion. Then she got into administrative assistance, and the rest, as they say, is historically inaccurate.

Dracomir nodded, and made a noncommittal noise as if debating whether or not to believe what she was saying. Skittles wrinkled her forehead and said, “You are a very charming boy, but I think I came here to carve my initials onto your face. Can you do me a favor and remind me why?”

Anguirel 05-21-2006 01:25 AM

Dracomir was rather relieved. His tactics of distracting Skittles from her original purpose, if not making her altogether forget it, seemed to be working.

"I can't say I ever knew why," he replied. "You were obviously far too cunning and intelligent to tell me of your, ah, motives. Planning to take me by surprise, that sort of thing."

What Skittles had told him of Lola was interesting. So she was a sort of Mordor good-time girl. "Everyone likes Lola," Ms. Martinet had said. Certainly, he could see a possible clash of character. The stern secretary was probably unwilling to tolerate chorus-girls. Well, now they had only this woman to wait for before their audience with the King...

In the meantime, Skittles had to be kept relatively calm and somewhat less switchblade happy. Tom thought that trying to converse with her own exceptional eclecticism might just work.

"Skittles," he asked, "what's your favourite colour?"

Lhunardawen 05-21-2006 02:53 AM

"My lady, you seem worried about your fair complexion in the presence of the boorish King Roggie," Dracomir's voice cut into Maika's worried thoughts. "As you can see, I suffer from a similar problem. It's a clear sign of nobility of blood. I often find a Disillusionment Charm can help lessen the effect of exposure...would you allow me to help?"

Nobility? Maika almost laughed, but caught herself. Nobility. It was funny. Or was it? Without realizing it she was soon turning the word over and over in her head, but a quick sight of the waiting Gondorian made her stop.

"I would advise you against speaking ill of Roggie in the presence of a Mordorian, sire," she replied with a slight glare. "And as for your offer, you're welcome to try. But don't say I didn't warn you."

"Warn me of what?" Dracomir drew his wand from inside his robe anyway, and without waiting for an appropriate response started waving it towards her...when Alli came to her, uh, rescue.

"Malfoidacil, please refrain from casting spells upon my workers, no matter how clever you find your charm work to be. Maika, I will speak to Buildings and Grounds workers about it. More likely will be that we'll merely have to open a window. If you like, I have skin cream that works wonders, and it is not even from Panakeia."

Maika sneaked a smug look over at Dracomir as Alli rebuked him, and turned to Alli with a blank stare at her offer. Sighing inwardly in relief that the product was not from the infamous Panakeia, she decided to accept it. She doubted it would work, but who knows?

After Alli had given their orders and asked Dracomir (Tom?) to what seemed like a date, Maika quietly followed her out of the room. She caught her a short distance down the corridor. "Alli," she almost whispered, "so, can I give this skin cream a try?" Asking help from an ex-Balrog winger? Maika could not believe the depth to which she had fallen.

Diamond18 05-21-2006 03:56 AM

"What's your favorite colour?"

Surely, Dracomir had no idea how disasterous a question this would have been to ask giddy-Skittles. He would have doomed himself to a detailed description of every color in the rainbow, and the many variations of said colors. Luckily, she was in leather-mode and simply responded:

"Black and red, the colors of blood."

"Oh. How nice," Dracomir replied.

She leaned closely and asked, "Tell me, Draco-packo, do you dream in color... or black and white?"

Anguirel 05-21-2006 06:01 AM

Tom was slightly disconcerted-by the increasing proximity to him of Skittles-and her knives-but at least the conversation they had strayed onto seemed comparatively harmless.

"Actually," he answered, his right hand sweeping through his adorable hair, "I don't dream that much. I have a bit of a case of insomnia, as it happens, and the Occlumency practice and stuff doesn't help. If you want to talk to some dream-obsessed drip, you'll be wanting that Potter boy."

Now, for a change, Skittles looked confused. "Who?"

"Oh, you wouldn't know him," Dracomir answered sourly. "He's idolised as a role-model by too many small children to ever get Assigned...twerp of a celebrity..."

Once again, the Lord Malfoidacil had to breathe deeply and suppress his violent emotions before he could speak again. He had acquired new powers since he had last met Daniel Radcliffe, terrible new powers...if they ever met again...Tom grinned viciously.

Then a new thought for destressing occurred to him, and he took a strange device-two sticks, attached by a string, with an hour-glass shaped lump of yellow plastic suspended between them.

"Have you ever seen one of these? It's called a Diabolo..."

Hookbill the Goomba 05-21-2006 06:50 AM

*Stomp! Stomp! Stomp!*

All the hallmarks of a rather upset Dwarf. Grumbling and muttering, Smilog marched along the corridor with his head bowed and his arms folded across his fat stomach. Trying to convince Roggie to begin negotiations wouldn't be easy. Leaders are idiots, he decided.

"That dratted creature," he muttered under his breath as he walked past a door ladled ‘Alli Umfuil’.

*Stomp! Stomp! Stomp!*

He walked on. His boots really were heavy and beginning to aggravate his athlete's foot. Or rather, lack of athletics foot. Just as he passed a small bench marked "In memory of The Incompetent Doctor Hookbill" he realised he'd been there before. He looked around to see if anyone was watching, when he saw two men walking towards him he quickly stomped along the corridor as casually as he could.

Left? Right? Up? Up? How could here be an up? Stairs? Shut up brain. His mind wandered as he tried to work out where he was. Retrace you're steps, he told himself before backing into a large suite of armour and having it all come crashing down on top of him.

Fuming, Smilog leaped out of the metal and saw that there were several people staring at him. "And that’s for my mother!" he cried, and gave the head a kick. "It was accusing me of... of... being a... Gnome." that'll convince them he thought in vain.

*Stomp! Stomp! Stomp!*

He walked through another series of corridors, seeking the chamber of Roggie. He just turned another corner and thought he was on the right track until he came to the door marked 'Alli Umfuil'. He stared at it, fists clenched. "That dratted creature!" he cried.

*Stomp! Stomp! Stomp!*

Celuien 05-21-2006 04:43 PM

The never-ending din of traffic, horns, and assorted ubiquitous irritants of city life drifted in through the half-open, chintz-draped window. The noise wafted through the room, settling on the form of Panakeia of Harad as she napped on a divan. She twitched now and then in response to any particularly loud sound, but was apparently accustomed to the racket of Lûndûn's busy streets.

But her rest was not fated to last. Outside, a speeding PT Cruiser slammed into a stopped garbage truck blocking traffic (one that, in Mordorian fashion, delivered rather than collected rubbish) directly outside her window. Fenders bent, metal grated, and Panakeia's eyes flew open. Stretching cat-like, she pulled herself to her feet and went to the window, slamming it closed with a glare and a bang.

"Confusticate and bebother these Orcs!" she muttered. Panakeia did not appreciate being awakened. This day was not going well; shares of Àivônë, the cosmetics company she founded after her adventure with the Offending Party, were off their peak price. While this made little difference to her savings, as she sold most of her interest in the company shortly after founding it, what stock she retained for dividend income would suffer. She had come to rely on that income, though she knew Anakron did not approve of her company, even if the products it produced were genuine – by Mordor’s standards. But he couldn’t fault her, she thought. After all, she was barely involved with the corporation following the sale.

Anakron. At least something would go well today. They had a dinner appointment for the evening. It had been cancelled, rescheduled, cancelled, and finally rescheduled for tonight. Things were busy in White-All with all of the non-approved escapes from Mordor, and Anakron's time had been scarce. Too scarce.

A faint smile curved around Panakeia lips. After so much delay, he would make it up to her. Surely he would. Perhaps even with the proposal she so eagerly awaited. Anakron had to know that she was ready for the step. Why else would she constantly speak of celebrity weddings or show him magazines filled with gowns and rings over dinner?

The time for their rendezvous was drawing near. Panakeia hurried to her closet to select a dinner dress. She returned to her divan an hour later, clad in a gown of pale seafoam green and a sparkling necklace of emeralds and diamonds. Makeup was carefully omitted from her toilette. She knew that Anakron disliked it, and though she ordinarily would have used just a smidgeon for her own satisfaction, tonight was different. Nothing must go wrong with her plans for the evening. She had the oddest feeling of now-or-never. Yes, tonight was the night.

A sharp rap at the door caused Panakeia's heart to skip a beat. She jumped to her feet, and with a quick glance to her mirror to check her carefully coiffed hair, opened the door with an expectant smile and greeting to Anakron...only to see Lûgnût, genderless Orc of Caer Pairadocks.

The smile faded from Panakeia’s face more quickly than an ice-cream cone melting in the summer sun.

"What do you want?" she snapped at the officiously simpering Orc.

"Greetings, good evening, and all other well-wishes and salutations to you."

Panakeia tapped her foot impatiently. "Yes, yes. Get on with it," she said. These meddlesome Orcs never ceased to annoy her, particularly if the Orc in question was Lûgnût. She had not forgotten his role in the Offending Party's tasks the year before.

"It is my task to inform and otherwise make you aware that as the presence of Anakron Istkon Vayor, otherwise known as the Grand Anakronist, is required at the negotiations currently transpiring at the Mount Doom Palace and Casino, he will, regretfully, be unable to dine with your most charming self this evening."

A flush of crimson suffused Panakeia's cheek. Had it not been accompanied by a heated glint in her eye and a set jaw, the color could have been called attractive. As it was, the combination showed only fury. How could he do this? Anakron had already cancelled several times. This was the last straw.

A horrifying thought occurred to Panakeia. Was he falling out of love with her? After all they'd been through? Panakeia was determined to find out once and for all.

"Lûgnût! Where did you say Anakron was going?" The words were clipped and short.

"To the Palace of His Highness, King Roggie of Mordor, at which magnificent locale…"

Panakeia cut off the speech. "Get your car," she ordered. "We're taking a little trip."

"To which destination is it your desire to wend?"

Could anyone be more obtuse? Panakeia stared at the Orc. "We, my friend, are going to find Anakron. And we are going now. Any questions?"

Despite the question, the expression on her face was enough to tell that questions would not be entertained.

Lûgnût gulped and led her to a bright orange Hummer, emblazoned with the image of a Siamese cat.

"Are you sure you will not reconsider?" he asked hopefully.

"Be quiet and drive!"

And the Hummer sped off, bearing one worried Orc and one angry woman in the direction of the unsuspecting Grand Anakronist.

Feanor of the Peredhil 05-24-2006 12:17 AM

Alli stopped at the sound of footpads following her down the flagstone hall way. She turned and raised her eyebrows at Maika, waiting for the Mordorian on-hiatus-ambassador to state whatever purpose was important enough for her to have followed Alli rather than waited inside the chamber for Lola.

"Alli," she almost whispered, "so, can I give this skin cream a try?"

Alli tilted her head a little, studying Maika with the intensity of a cat observing a dangling string. She half-smiled for a moment before allowing herself to grin.

"Of course, Maika. Would you like it now, or later?"

Lhunardawen 05-24-2006 01:36 AM

A shiver ran up Maika's spine as she looked at Alli grin.

"Maybe now, if you're fine with that. It would probably take some time to apply it, and I have to be prepared before Lola arrives..."

"Of course. Now, shall we?" Alli swept her hand and walked towards the place where the precious face cream lay. Maika fell in step with the Spymaster, her confident stride belying her uncertainty. Bah, whatever. She felt more and more pathetic by the second.


Maika stared back at the ghostly white face in the washroom mirror. It seemed hesitant to get into this. The Mordorian diplomat looked down at the tube in her hands. It was smooth and milky white, surely not unlike the semi-liquid it contains. "If it works for you, you can have it," Alli had said as she handed her the tube from its hiding place - a drawer in her office desk. Whoever kept face cream in her workplace? Alli did, apparently. Never mind the weirdness of it, but Maika was just thankful that it really was not from Panakeia. She had double-checked it on her way to the washroom, to be sure.

She was about to open the tube when she noticed a few thick hair strands standing on top of her head. It probably explains why Alli looked at her oddly a while ago. That Dracomir! she thought angrily, recalling his crazy wand-waving. The stupid stick must have caught her hair somehow. Dropping the tube, she pulled off the two ebony chopsticks and slightly shook her head, letting her jet black hair cascade down her back. With a powerful grip she took hold of the entire bunch of hair strands with her left hand while gathering the stray ones to it with her right. Then, with a few deft flicks of her wrist, the bunch transformed into a bun, and one by one she replaced the chopsticks. There.

She grabbed the tube again, twisted its cap off, and lightly squeezed its body - then stopped. How was she supposed to know how to apply this thing? She wracked her brains for anything from television that might help her, and the only thing she got was that whatever happens, she must resist the temptation to just smear the cream carelessly all over her face. Those soaps in TV always show that the unlikeliest, most embarrassing things happen in public washrooms. Come on, Maika, think! There must be something from those advertisements!

A few moments later she was back to squeezing the tube. To her surprise, the cream was colored green! Maika almost barfed in disgust. I thought she said this wasn't from Panakeia? But a quick reminder of Lola arriving - from some unexplored area at the back of her head - urged her to get it over with, so she squeezed a little amount of the caterpillar-colored cream onto her ring finger and dotted it on her forehead, both cheeks, the tip of her nose, and chin. Then with both ring fingers, she spread the cream evenly all over her face using tiny circular motions, not at all as expertly as the clause appeared to say. Magically, it seemed, the cream turned from green to colorless...and with a lovely powder smooth finish, too! At least the package did not lie in that respect. She hoped it would do its intended work just as well.

Maika finally stepped out and walked into the corridor, her head held high by the weight of her hair and the chopsticks. She hid the now-closed tube in her palms as she had nothing in which to keep it. Well, no one's bound to notice anyway. Thank goodness its manufacturer knew how to disguise the hideous color of the product.

She quietly sighed in relief upon reentering the room, with Skittles already in leather and Dracomir holding some weird plastic thingy, and no Lola yet in sight.

JennyHallu 05-24-2006 07:18 AM

"Oh, how exciting. New faces!"

The sultry voice from the doorway earned the undivided and immediate attention of all in the room, as was probably intended. Posed seductively in the frame stood a curvaceous, voluptuous young woman, and it seemed natural to scan her from the feet up. Delicate small feet in tall stiletto heels gave way to shapely, toned legs, under a sparkling red dress that accentuated a perfect hourglass figure, and seemed somewhat strained to hold anything other than her tiny waist. Slim arms, a creamy throat, and finally a perfect face with a pouty expression partially obscured by thick, wavy, silky blond hair. Women's eyes narrowed. Men's jaws dropped. The woman smiled slowly, like a cat, vamping into the room to sit on the table, thighs crossed.

A tall, blond man was first to find his voice. "You've got to be--"

She giggled. "Call me Lola, honey."

Anguirel 05-24-2006 12:02 PM

The moment the noble Lord Dracomir Malfoidacil of Gondor sighted the woman who had just entered the room, he dropped his Diabolo. The yellow hour-glass-thingy rolled and bounced off, giving out irritating plasticky noises. Some of the newer, less hardened Mordorians milling about shrank out of its way, for its escape had evoked a mental picture of a certain bouncing Ring of Power...

Tom, in the meantime, had quickly-well, quite quickly-got his breath back and his jaw had not dropped-well, not that much. He produced his wand with an irritated flourish, and muttered "Accio Diabolo!" The plastic object whooshed back towards him and he disposed of it with a cool "Evanesco," before putting away his wand again.

With a great deal of care, he turned slowly and bowed courteously towards...Lola.

"You must be the Lady Lola I have just been talking about with Skittles here," he remarked. "They call me the Lord Dracomir Malfoidacil. But actually, the name's Felton...Tom Felton."

Looking back towards Skittles and Maika, who had returned a short time ago with a rather dubious looking tube clutched in her hand, he remarked, "Well. Looks like it's time for us to face the music and drop in on His Mordorian Majesty. Let's be off."

He swept forward confidently, and held out his hand to Lola as though quite convinced it would be taken.

Hookbill the Goomba 05-24-2006 01:21 PM

Fury mixed with pride was always dangerous, especially in the small confines of a Dwarf's head, and especially this Dwarf. "All these corridors look the same,” he muttered angrily" and he decided finally to sit down. He found a bench (coincidently, the same on that he passed earlier) and began pondering many things: not least why a garden bench was in a corridor.

Orcs, men and other things walked by, ignoring Smilog as he sat with his legs swinging over the edge of the bench. He took out his axe and whetstone and began sharpening it, muttering and mumbling to himself. It wasn't long before someone sat next to him and began to eat some strange meat. "Pork," he said and offered some to Smilog.

"Nay," retorted the aggravated Dwarf, "I have business at hand." The one who sat by was a short man, not short enough to be a Dwarf, and he had no beard anyway. On his fingers were many golden rings and about his neck was a fine necklace with a great gem hung from it. His orange tunic and brown cloak, coupled with his green boots made him look almost comical. But Smilog was not in the mood for jests and wanted to get to that Roggie fellow as soon as possible. He hadn’t come all this way to get lost in some confounded corridors!

"May I introduce myself?" asked the man extending a hand for Smilog to shake.

"No," replied Smilog as he leaped off the bench, "I need to find that Roggie fellow. I hear he's around here somewhere."

"He'll probably be in his office." said the man, "up stairs, I believe. First on the left."

"I know!" lied Smilog, "now, if you will excuse me..." the Dwarf turned away and stomped off to see if he could find some stairs. The man began to follow him, but Smilog tried to ignore him and walk on all the same, grumbling curses in Dwarvish.

"I heard that!" cried the man, clapping Smilog on the shoulder, "that was not a nice thing to say."

"Oh, be off with you!" cried the now fully irritated Dwarf, "Can't you see I'm busy? I have important business to attend to."

"Andvarri," said the man.

"I beg your pardon?"

"Andvarrri, that is my name."

"Is it?" Smilog walked away, one step, two steps, and three. Andvarri? That name meant something to him. Yes, he had heard the name. "What did you say?"

"My name is Andvarri." he replied, bowing, "I see that you have heard of me. Well, Smilog the Dwarf, I had heard you were an ill-tempered little runt, but stay your axe. I have need of your services."

"That is what they told me to get me to come here on this ridiculous errand. I want no more pointless quests, thank you very much."

"That is sad, you have heard the legends, I take it?" Smilog stopped his stomping and listened, "the gold. The endless mountain of Gold?"

"The Gold of Andvarri, it is said, is cursed," retorted Smilog, "and how can you be he? The legend is thousands of years old!"

"Ah, it was my great grand father to the ninth degree that first established the Gold. The eldest son of our blood line who bares the birthmark of Andvarri is given this name." he lifted his hair from his brow to reveal a mark that looked alike to an anvil. "I assure you, that gold belongs to me. Wherever it lies."

"And I suppose you want me to find it?" said Smilog, "Sorry, as much as I wish to find a mountain of Gold, every Dwarf since the legend was born has sought it and found it not. Unless you had Andvarri's map, the finding is... is... impo... impossible..." the man was holding a small scroll of paper. He smiled widely.

"What say you now?" asked Andvarrri.

"Well, let me finish my business here and I shall help ye."

"Ah, this business here concerns the treasure. Roggie, I believe holds an artefact that will aid us, though he may know it not."

"Let us not speak of this in public. Come, show me to his chamber..."

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