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Old 02-13-2006, 07:59 PM   #281
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Intriguing Istari-eyed Incantational Incarcerated Interlude

Whilst the cross-examinations of Alli and Fléin proceeded, events unknown to the rest of the Offending Party were occurring in Mardil's jail cell. His psych-eval concluded, he made to leave his cell only to be stopped by two unassuming hooded and cloaked fellows leaning on their staves. Their cloaks were of a blue so dark that they were almost - not quite but almost - black.

"Greetings, Lord Mardil the Second, Crown Prince of Ithilien, Heir of Faramir the Good," said the slightly taller of the two.

"Hello," Mardil answered, slightly taken aback that they knew exactly who he was. "Who are you?" He had a good idea already.

"That shall be revealed, completely," said the slightly shorter of the two, "very soon. Let us move back into this cozy little room and have a meeting of minds." He gestured into Mardil's cell. Mardil turned around and saw that where before there had only been one chair, now there were three. He did a brow creased double take of the two cloaked fellows, then walked in and rearranged the seats so that he could keep both individuals in his sight at all times. He stood waiting behind his choice of seat while the two blue-hooded men sat down; then he sat himself. The two men threw back their hoods to reveal ancient faces with piercing eyes and long hooked noses, bushy eyebrows and scraggly white beards.

"As you may have guessed already, Mardil," said the slightly taller man, "I am known as Pallando, or as Stamo, by various folks, and my counterpart here is known as Alatar or Mori, depending of course upon where we happen to be." Mardil nodded. These were the two blue Istari, the ones who had cursed all of Gondor with the Anakronism Dweomer.

"What do you want?" Mardil asked.

Pallando smiled. "Right to the point as usual. I like that about you."

"But before we get to what we want," said Alatar, "you should know about certain information about which we are aware."

"First," continued Pallando, "we are aware of your chosen weaponry, such as doses of this and that in your little bottles, and your effectiveness with knives. We encourage you not to try to use either weapon against us, as it will only be to your own disadvantage."

"Rest assured on that point," Alatar intoned.

"You've threatened me," Mardil answered, "not to try to harm you or it will go the worse for me. I understand. So, what are you here for?"

Pallando's brows rose. "Threatened? Nay! We have merely warned."

"We have more to tell you," Alatar continued, "before we answer your question. It has, shall we say, to do with 'doing what you are supposed to do, what you should do, and what you can do.'"

Mardil's eyes narrowed. "So you've listened in on conversations I've had with Anakron. Either that, or he has reported to you."

The two Istari merely smiled by way of response.

"We are also aware," said Pallando, "of various organizations that specialize in illegal activities here in Mordor, and their cellgroups and activities throughout the rest of the Gondorian Imperium."

"Indeed," continued Alatar, "we have been keeping tabs on a campaign that denounces the King of Gondor for sending a certain young heir to the Stewardship of Ithilien to Mordor despite the fact that he did not speak an anakronism. We are also aware of a similar ad campaign blaming the King for all the corruption that has engulfed Gondor's government, as well as the weakened state of the military. We are aware of the source of these campaigns."

Mardil's brow furrowed. "Oh? And who might that be?"

"Do not play coy with us, Mardil the Second," Alatar warned. "We are aware of your father's grand ambitions for you."

Mardil sat forward in his chair, outrage warring with his self control. "Have you done something to my father?"

"Not a thing," answered Pallando.

"There is no need," added Alatar, "yet."

"We think," Pallando said, "that it was a minor stroke of genius that you forged an alliance with 'Roggie', as the current Lord of Mount Doom has been nicknamed. He very much looks forward to becoming Prince of all Mordor."

"Not to mention," Alatar picked up, "your clever alliance with Khamul and his criminal organization. It is even quite noble of you to aspire to destroying that organization. However....." Alatar stopped speaking and looked carefully into the eyes of Mardil; Pallando did the same.

What were they up to, Mardil wondered? Obviously, they knew everything he was doing; at least, everything he was doing that he had ever told to Anakron. Had Anakron betrayed him to these two? Or did they hold more power than Mardil had understood until now? And why were they studying him now? Could they read his thoughts? He had never developed the ability to hide his thoughts from those who could do such a thing, so he found himself to be defenseless on that score, and therefore decided that it was useless to worry about it. He decided that he might as well push to the heart of the issue.

"You've had your say, obviously. I'll ask again: what do you want?"

Pallando smiled. But the smile reached no higher than his abundant mustache; his eyes were as coals. "We want to replace the King of Gondor with you."

"Fine, but I was going to do that anyway."

The two chuckled. "But on our terms," said Alatar.

Anger flared in Mardil's heart. "And if I say no?"

"There is something you have yet to understand, Mardil," Pallando purred. "Khamul answers to us. Roggie answers to us. Anakron answers to us."

"Furthermore," Alatar murmured, "there are no High Elves left, no rival Istari (unless you count that bumbling Radagast), no evil Overlord with Rings to enslave others, no King in Gondor with the virtue of character to stand against us. We alone remain of all the powers of the former ages, and none can stand against us. You, my dear Mardil, would be a fool to try."

"What are your terms?" Mardil asked the obvious question, giving no clue as to whether he intended to abide by whatever terms they offered.

"It is simple, really," Pallando said. "Leave the Dweomer alone, and thus our Anakronist alone, and rule as you will except in any way that we overrule your decisions, and we will put our power and wisdom at your disposal. Refuse this offer, and be stopped from even escaping from Mordor, whether you passed the tests or not, whether your father has come to support you or not. These are your terms. Mardil the Second, Crown Prince of Ithilien, Heir of Faramir the Good, Would-be Usurper to the Throne of Gondor, what is your choice?"

Last edited by littlemanpoet; 02-13-2006 at 08:04 PM.
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Old 02-14-2006, 08:53 PM   #282
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Wilhelmina Brochenbach's fate

"Wilhe-"

"I'm right here!"

Anakron looked down. There was a little circular garden sitting on a pedestal that had been there since the deliberations had begun. However, it was not a circular garden, but a very garish flowery hat; and the pedestal was not a pedestal at all, but Wilhelmina, looking up from beneath her hat! Mr. Swanky stuck out a wiggling nose and a pair of black coal eyes. Anakron's eyebrows rose while his face remained otherwise expressionless.

"Very well, Wilhelmina Brochenbach."

Wilhelmina grinned. "You said my name right!"

"I should hope so," he said without a smile, though his tone was kindly. "Are there any accusations?"

"I want my dog back!" cried a snippy voice from somewhere back in the crowd. A too thin, arrogant, and not very pretty young woman, wearing ridiculously expensive and too skimpy pink and accessorized clothing, came sauntering up in five inch pink heels and matching watchband.

"Oh. Garish Swilton."

The woman stamped her foot angrily. "Paris Hilton!"

"Ah." Anakron looked down at her through half closed lids.

She smiled coquettishly and batted her overly made up eyelashes. "I'm famous, you know."

Anakron rolled his eyes. "Get on with it."

She pouted, hands on accessorized hips, then pointed overly dramatically at Wilhelmina. "She stole my dog!"

"Your stupid dog," Wilhelmina corrected.

The spoiled snit made a face at Wilhelmina.

"You don't deserve a dog," Anakron declared, "no matter how stupid. Nor the wealth and fame. Get out of here."

The snit's jaw dropped. "I'll have me daddy sue you!"

"He's not here. Now get out of my sight. You are a taint on Mordor."

Her jaw dropped even farther. Hands on hips, she turned around, still staring at the speaker of such terrible news, then turned her head away dramatically.

"Best acting I've ever seen from you," Anakron drawled.

Her jaw hit the ground. Reaching down, she picked it up. While she was bent over, Wilhelmina landed a solid kick on the behind and sent her sprawling, the points of her heels askew.

"One extra point for Wilhelmina," Anakron announced. The crowd roared with laughter, and the young snit lost herself in the crowd.

"Now for Wilhelmina's points earned. For the Bliddy Unnergrind race, nine points; the road rage race, six points; for the celebrity hunt you are awarded nine points, one point deducted for lateness; for werewolf, nine points (you voted someone dead); for your physical and ensuing surgery, ten points; for your psychological evaluation, you achieved the disintegration of the obviously insane Sigmund Freud ... although that did not entirely establish your sanity, it was still worth seven points; and for your final exam-" Anakron's mouth slowly drew up in a grin "-which I personally found quite delightful, ten points. And now, for the final addition. As I said, you did receive an extra point just now for your most appropriately exacted punishment for atrocious behavior exhibited by one particular snitful idiot worth less than one tenth of a fangirl. On top of that, you receive twenty-five points for an although imperfect performance, you showed great resolve, creativity, and ingenuity (not to mention lots of clever writing), and got Mr. Swanky back from Queen Quon to pass your initially failed test - quite well done. Total, eighty-six points. You pass. You may leave Mordor and enter Ithilien."
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Old 02-16-2006, 06:48 PM   #283
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Sai Onara's fate

"Sai Onara!" Anakron called.

"Goodbye to you to!" Wilhelmina grinned, waving, and walked away.

Anakron clicked his tongue. "Has anyone seen Sai Onara?"

Way, way in the back of the crowd, about a score of people pointed off in the direction of the mountains just behind what used to be known as Minas Morgul. Squinting, Anakron could barely make out three figures running at the foot of the mountains, two apparently chasing one. The one trailing seemed to be a particularly butt-less woman; the middle party was by all accounts a reincarnated Uruk-hai from way back in the end of the Third Age by the name of Lurge, who hadn't really been there but had been dreamed up by Bleater Quackson and thereby found himself in Mordor. These two were chasing a young lady who Anakron could now see was screaming at the top of her lungs, seeking escape or rescue from her two pursuers.... at least the closer and more fanged fo the two.

"Dweomer," said Anakron raising his staff, "convey." The Siamese figure on the top of his staff caterwauled. Somehow, even Anakron didn't know how - nevertheless it happened, suddenly Sai Onara appeared stage left, still screaming and dashing at full speed stage right, Lurge and Jaylo in hot pursuit.

"Stop!" Anakron yelled.

Sai stopped in her tracks, suddenly aware that she was not where she had been. Next instant she was bowled over by Lurge who started licking her face.

"Yuck!" she pulled away, disgusted for some reason.

"You are so good at the mating call of female orcs!" Lurge growled happily.

"If you don't get off me I'll vomit!" Sai threatened

"Ooh!" He chuckled. "Orcish kissing! I'm ready when you are!"

Jaylo started beating on the back of Lurge. "Get off her so I can get my butt back!"

"Stop! All three of you!" Anakron commanded. "Now! Somebody hand her a towel."

"And soap and water!" Sai couldn't get her face to undo its look of revulsion. Lurge got up and offered Sai a hand. "Get away from me! I'll get up myself!"

After Sai had wiped herself down, she looked up expectantly at Anakron. "Please tell me I passed!" She gave Lurge a horrified glance of revulsion.

"Actually," Anakron said, "you seem to have metaphorically ridden on the backs of others for much of these tests. You clung to Alli and Mardil to get you through the first two tests, with Alli on the third and fourth, and only on the fifth did you go it alone, stumbling through as you went. It was only by a stroke of Bagginsish luck that you passed your psych eval, stumbling upon just the 'riddle in the dark' that you needed; and you shared the classload with Lucy, who happens to be standing just behind you by the way, in order to get through your class and final exam."

Sai Onara gulped and looked down. She saw the pattern developing.

"In short, you were very effective in using others to gain your own ends, especially by doing so in such a way that they consider you to be their friend. Very effective indeed, especially for one so new to Mordor."

As Anakron had said these words, Sai had slowly raised her head and met his eyes with her own widening ones, her jaw dropping, looking more hopeful with each word.

"I still want my bottom back," Jaylo interrupted.

"Be quiet," Anakron ordered. "I'll deal with you soon enough."

"So maybe I didn't do so bad?" asked Sai tentatively.

"You scored a ten, a six, a ten, and a nine in the first four challenges. In the fifth triple challenge, you scored three tens. And for general gamesmanship, you scored twenty-four out of thirty; whereas you stuck to the same strategy throughout, it is clear to the Dweomer that it was out of instinct and not strategy. It would take keen strategizing throughout the tests to score higher than twenty-four. Be that as it may, you scored a total of eight-nine. You have passed. You may leave Mordor; that is, once you have made Jaylo butteefull again, more's the pity.

"What about him?" Sai pointed to Lurge fearfully, pleading with her eyes that he couldn't leave Mordor.

Lurge grinned toothily and fangily. "She wants me to go with her!"

"You have not passed the tests she has passed, Lurge. You may not leave."

He frowned mightily, which on an orc is an evil expression indeed. "I'll sign up!"

"It doesn't work that way; you must wait until your name is called from the ATM in Cair Pairadox."

Sai hugged Lucy and Anakron dismissed her to deal with Jaylo.
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Old 02-18-2006, 09:00 PM   #284
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Panakeia's fate ..... ?

"I call Panakeia of Harad to the front!" Anakron announced.

Something toward the back began to move. It looked like an up-ended couch. As it neared the front, Anakron saw that it was indeed an up-ended couch, being moved on a rather large two-wheeled dolly. He raised his eyebrows: he had not been aware that that particular anakronism had been conassigned to Mordor; maybe the two wizards were responsible. Having no control over their decisions, Anakron shrugged and waited until the couch stopped mere footsteps away from him, was let fall with a THUNK, and Panakeia was revealed behind it, hoisting up a shoe and an Eagles jersey for good measure.

"I got these three things from celebrities, and they gave them to me of their own free will!"

"No deception?"

"Wellll.... there was a wee bit of deception... but you didn't say we couldn't!"

"Quite right. Nevertheless, there are a couple of individuals who have been waiting to speak with you in that regard." Anakron pointed stage left, where stood two athletes, staring at her accusingly.

"Oh! Donovan McNabb and David Beckham." Panakeia's eyes widened momentarily, but she looked back to Anakron, becoming fierce. "But they gave them to me freely!"

"Quite so."

"An' we want 'em back!" McNabb said.

"Hold it!" Panakeia cried. "Do I get points for completing the celebrity hunt test?"

"The couch was adequate," Anakron replied. "You receive nine points, one deducted for lateness."

"Okay. I just wanted to be sure."

"And the shoes and jersey were unnecessary."

"Well, I wanted to be sure."

"As I said, unnecessary. However, your sheer gumption and enterprising nature shall be rewarded. Add two points. Eleven total for the celebrity hunt."

Panakeia's eyes opened wide and her jaw dropped in surprise. A murmur went up in the crowd, to the effect of 'I thought there were only ten points per test; what's with eleven points?' Panakeia heard the crowd and flushed. Anakron paid them no mind.

"You may return the shoe and jersey to their owners, Panakeia of Harad."

"No problem!" she said happily, and handed them over. The two athletes left.

"On to the other tests," Anakron announced. With that, four individuals came forward that Panakeia recalled having seen somewhere before, but she couldn't recall precisely where.

"Yep," one of them pointed, "that'd be her. She up an' jus' abaoot ruined our leetle scam."

Suddenly recognition dawned. These were the King's Trio: Willy, Isildil Payne, Dwaine, and Eckaust Fûmës.

"That is what I thought," Anakron responded. "You originally achieved ten points for this challenge. For bringing these four to justice, one bonus point. Eleven points for the first test."

"But - but - I didn't bring them to justice!" Panakeia protested.

"You were being filmed for the reality show; their scam was revealed on kamura, and thus they were brought to justice."

"But I didn't tell anybody a thing about them!"

"They complained about you, and so we looked into it. Caught musically scamming in the Bliddy Unnergrind. Four counts of misdemeanor. Moving along...."

The four King's Trio villains marched off, giving Panakeia evil looks, and were immediately accosted by Lûgnût and his/her cronies. "Pay up!" s/he was overheard yelling at them.

"....moving along," continued Anakron, "I had given you six points for your efforts in the race, as I gave all the others; however, it came to my attention through Bert the kamura troll-" at this point, the kamura wielding troll stepped forward. Impossibly, Panakeia received a conspiratorial wink from a troll, something that she would tell her friends and family the rest of her life, which nobody would believe ... for Bert never made it out of Mordor, at least not in any way that the legends tell us. "-that you singlehandedly rescued Valde Delego: one additonal point awarded, in spite of the fact that Valde squandered his chance not to fail. Total for the race test: seven points."

Panakeia sensed a pattern developing, as did the increasingly loudly murmuring crowd in, and wondered why things were turning out as they were. Had she done so badly on the general rating that Anakron was unbelievably having mercy on her? No, he wouldn't do such a thing. He had failed Valde already; why not her?

Seven more people stepped forward, saluting Panakeia each in their turn: Jim Kirk with toupeé in place, Spockú with both eyebrows now, and Dr. McBones, each wearing bodiform outfits bearing an emblem saying 'United Federation of Drekkies'; there was the Goth roommate, the professor troll, the fortune teller.

And last but not least, Nichole, who smiled brightly at her and came over and gave her a big, mushy hug. "I think you're going to make it!" she cried.

"Thanks!" Panakeia smiled, feeling a bit dazed.

"What is the opinion of you witnesses?" Anakron asked.

"Pass her!" Panakeia had never seen a Goth student acting so positive in all her days in Mordor.

"With flying colors!" Nichole added gleefully.

"Quite so," Anakron said, a small smile forming on his lips. "Although I can find no persuasive reason to change your score for the werewolf test, so that remains an eight. Please have a seat, Panakeia of Harad." Anakron gestured to the couch. Once she was seated, Anakron stepped from his little platform of Grand Authority, and sat down beside her.

"Now what's going on?" Panakeia wondered a little nervously; but she voiced a different question. "Um, what about the triple test at the University?"

"Tens for each. Does that satisfy you?"

"Yes!"

"There is one more witness," Anakron said smoothly.

"Oh?"

Anakron nodded. "Elempí."

"But he's .... you .... isn't he?"

"Indeed," Anakron smiled. "You were right about something, as was my alter-ego, who though he can be such an idiot, still has excellent judgment in ... certain matters."

"Uh, what do you mean?"

"You are indeed beautiful without the hair color and make-up."

"Oh!"

"Thirty points for creative ingenuity, regaining your conscience, and for doing it all with becoming grace."

Panakeia blinked. Something clicked in her mind. "I get it. You're coming on to me and you're beefing up my score to get what you want."

"Not so," Anakron replied smoothly. "I would award you just as highly regardless of my personal inclinations. However, as they say, there is no time like the present. Obviously, you have passed with the highest score of any of the Offending Party; ninety-six out of one hundred by the way, and you may leave Mordor in just a little while..."

Panakeia sensed a following clause. "But..." she said.

Anakron smiled as winningly as he seemed to be able. "...but I would like to make an offer." Panakeia waited on pins and needles as Anakron paused - she was sure they hadn't been the stuffing for the couch until this very moment, but this was Mordor - "Stay with me, join me, walk my path with me, and see if you enjoy it. I assure you that you will not lack for any need or desire..." Anakron nodded toward the Siamese Cat that sat atop his staff. "... for I most certainly have the means to assure your security. Do not speak just yet!" Anakron raised a hand to her lips, for she had been about to speak her mind - she couldn't believe she was letting him touch her lips! - "Do not answer me yet. Give it a little time, think on it, mull it, and by all means dream a bit, and we shall talk of this again." With that, Anakron stood and with cloak billowing in such a way that his form looked more upright and handsome to Panakeia - she was sure it must be a trick of the dweomer - and he resumed his stance on the small pedestal. Panakeia crossed her legs and watched the Grand Anakronist, her thoughts whirling.
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Old 02-19-2006, 07:25 PM   #285
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Mardil's fate ....?

"Mardil the Second, Crown Prince of Ithilien, Heir of Faramir the Good, Would-be Usurper to the Throne of Gondor, what is your choice?"

"I'm no usurper!" Mardil retorted. "I am a direct heir, father to son, of Amandil II, the younger son of the Tarciryan II. Tarciryan's son and every King since has had but one son up till now, and so when King Aranar dies will, by the laws of Gondor, be King."

"Then why," asked Alatar, "do you force your claim with raised armies and publicity campaigns and dire strategy? Why not wait until that which is yours by right of inheritance, if such truly be the case, is given to you in due course of law?"

"Because the current King is trying to bypass my family and put someone on the throne of his choosing."

"And what possible personage," Pallando queried, "have your vain imaginings produced to fill this fanciful challenge to your hollow claim?"

"Prince Curuman of Umbar is King Aranar's mother's brother's son, and is the King's favorite. He has a claim, but not as direct as mine; which is not hollow at all, as can be demonstrated outside of Mordor."

"Why now, Mardil?" Alatar asked.

"If I wait, Prince Curuman may gather enough of a backing to cause a ruinous kin strife. Gondor must remain free of such an evil."

Pallando's eyes almost closed and his lips played in the hint of a sarcastic smile. "And you are the self appointed savior to help all middle earth avoid such a fate?"

"No, merely the lawful heir to the throne."

"That is all well and good," Pallando retorted, "but if you do not do as we say-"

"You are not invincible!" Mardil cried. "You may know about my weaponry and potions, but you are not gods! If I stick a knife into your heart you will die. Saruman, the head of your order of old, was killed by the arrows of halflings. My knives are more deadly than small arrows. If I attacked you, maybe I would be killed, but not until I took at least one of you with me."

"Brave words, and maybe you believe them," Alatar smiled coldly, "but do you really think that we would be so foolish as to allow ourselves to be vulnerable to you and your weapons in this small cell?"

The two wizards did not rise from their seats, but they seemed to grow where they sat until they seemed to have become dark and ancient and threatening, eldritch powers.

Mardil gave pause and thought. They were suggesting and showing that he could not touch them, as if they had cast a warding dweomer or worse: something that he could not bypass. If so, he would have to be careful, for the odds were likely stacked in their favor, and he did not doubt that they would press their advantage if they so chose.

"It matters not," he replied. "What matters most is your demand." The two wizards shrank back to their original aspects as Mardil spoke. "You know very well that I would be no more than your puppet; another Anakron Istkon Vayor. Or would I be named Arbit Rarywhimkon Vayor instead? You could ask me to pass a law sentencing all children to death and I would have no choice but to obey. That is unacceptable. I could not take such an oath."

"Nonsense," Pallando said. "You presume that we are fools blinded by our own greed for power, such that we might do any foolish and evil thing. You do not understand our purpose. Do not presume that we are fools, or that we are blinded by evil."

"It does not matter that you aren't blinded by evil," Mardil cried, "what matters is that you are evil! You did not fight with the Men of the West against the evil of Sauron. Instead, you are following in the footsteps of the wicked Saruman and seeking to be rulers of men. The only one of your kind I'd be willing to place myself under is Gandalf, and he never would ask such a thing of me, which is why he was worthy of the leadership that the peoples of Middle Earth gave him. The very fact that you have asked for rule over a kingdom that is not yours to rule is reason enough for me not to give it to you, to say nothing of the threatening way in which you are asking. And what of my duty as King of Gondor? As King, I would have the great responsibility of protecting and aiding my people. By subjugating myself to you, or to anyone, I would be shirking this sacred charge, given to the first King, Elros, by the Valar themselves! You have not offered me something that I am able to do, even if I wanted to."

Pallando and Alatar's smiles slowly grew into sardonic smirks as Mardil's diatribe ranged through its points.

"Is that what they're saying about us in the Empire these days?" Pallando murmured, and turned to Alatar. "Shall we disabuse him of his illusions?"

"Yes, we shall," Alatar returned, "but shall we do so now through words, or through another test?"

"You know as well as I that he will not take us at our word," Pallando replied, "so a test it must be."

Both wizards rose, walking quickly to the door of the cell, and turned suddenly, their staves raised.

"Ontamandongauro!"

The hair rose on the nape of Mardil's neck. There was a great crash as the door of the cell slammed. They were gone. Mardil heard tinkling around him. Looking down, he saw that all of his potions and bottles had somehow cast themselves to the stone floor and broken, dissolving quickly into smoke and mist.

"Noooooooooo!" Mardil howled.

------------------------------------------

The orc guards watched the two cloaked men leave quickly, and shrugged. Apparently the man was to remain their prisoner for a while longer yet. Suddenly the cell door burst open. A beast came hurtling out. In moments, both guards were dead, lying in their own blood, their necks ripped open and faces mauled. Howling could be heard outside the prison, echoing into the distance.
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Old 02-21-2006, 07:40 PM   #286
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Two wide eyes gazed after Anakron’s cloak and settled into a disbelieving stare as he came to a stop atop his pedestal. The Grand Anakronist had asked her to stay in Mordor? With him? It was beyond comprehension. The weather grew gusty. He turned a few times; clothing fluttering dramatically in the wind, white hair blowing behind him. Panakeia was sure he was posing. Anakron looked back in her direction and she quickly stared at the ground. Her cheeks were burning, and she knew she looked pinker than any scalded lobster.

What could Anakron be thinking? Was he serious, or was this a new test? She didn’t know. Anakron was always so austere, distant. The very idea of his proposal (what kind of proposal was this?) astounded her. Panakeia never imagined that he could have such thoughts, although she was deeply flattered that of all the Party, indeed, of all the folk in Mordor, Anakron had chosen to address them to her. And what did Panakeia think of the forbidding figure in black? That too was a muddle. Her first thought, only a few days before, was that she hated him. But that had been after her initial failure in the Celebrity Hunt, while she was still in a high dudgeon over the Shatner fiasco.

Did she have any other reason to dislike him? Yes. There was the matter of all the tests, of Mordor in general. Then again, that wasn’t his fault. Mordor was torture. Anakron couldn’t change that. And of a sudden, it seemed to her that the tests weren’t meant to be malicious. Panakeia’s mind drifted back to Dol Gaurgauroth. The point of that exercise had been not to harm the other villagers, regardless of provocation to do otherwise. Was Anakron trying to teach the would-be escapees a lesson in morality? And no one, not even the fish, had really been harmed in the end. Had all of the tests been meant to teach the Offending Party something important? That seemed likely. She thought she saw him in a new light, and that light was favorable.

Still, there was the whole business of A Slan. Everyone seemed so certain that A Slan was good and conversely, that Anakron was evil. But if A Slan was a mere anachronism, did he matter? Panakeia didn’t think so. And she couldn’t see Anakron as a total villain. Ruthless and overly dramatic at times, yes, but evil, no. Not too long ago, the adjective 'ruthless' had been applied to her. She had changed since then, thanks to...Anakron. She owed him for that. And then it occurred to her that they were akin in some way. Two lonely people, unhappy with the world, trying to muddle through as best they could. But she still didn’t know if she could accept his extraordinary offer. There was a part of her that wanted to stay. At the same time, from another corner of her mind came a cry to go. She didn’t need anyone, especially not Anakron. He was certainly a rogue. No, she didn’t really believe that. She chided herself for the thought. She never really did hate him. Slowly, she realized that her feelings had been more of a respect from afar all along. And she was so very, very lonely.

Her eyes fell on Valde. Here, at least, was one decision she could make. She approached the actor, Anakron watching hawk-like from his perch.

“Hello, Valde,” she said.

Valde seemed deeply absorbed in some train of thought. It took him a moment to respond, and when he did, he sounded as if he didn’t want to be bothered. “What? Oh, it’s you. Hello.” He gave her a look of ennui that told her to be off and quickly.

She looked him up and down, annoyed with Valde’s self-absorption. How could I ever have been so infatuated with him? For indeed, she recognized her earlier feelings as mere infatuation, and they had faded like autumn leaves in the winter wind. Still, she was determined to let him down gently. Panakeia was convinced that he returned her earlier attachment and she didn’t want to hurt his (probably highly fragile) feelings.

“Well…umm…well…well…” Her voice trailed off, bringing a questioning glance from both Valde and the Anakronist. “Looks like we’re going to different places. We may never see each other again.”

“Yes? And?” Valde’s patience was already wearing thin.

Why, that trickster! He never cared at all! She reconsidered. Well, no. It wasn’t a trick on his part. Just my own deluded vanity. And I couldn't see it. She fumbled for a way to end the conversation without causing herself further embarrassment.

“Well, what I wanted to say was that…was that…was that I was going to offer you a job with my sales company. The new one I was going to start outside Mordor.” Anakron’s attention was drawn to the ‘was going to start.’ She would stay! “All legitimate products, of course. Cosmetics. They always were genuine. One of my only genuinely functional products." The irony of her rare genuine products being used to create artifice was not lost on her, or, from the faint curve to his lips, Anakron. "I didn’t think there’d be much demand for Lead Tragic Actors out there, but acting is part of selling. I figured you’d make a great salesman. So I was going to ask you if you wanted to go into business with me. But there’s not much point now. Offer stands, though, if we ever meet again outside.” Anakron drooped. Outside. She was going to leave.

Valde crinkled his eyebrows. “Yes. It’s a generous offer. I’ll think it over.” Panakeia took that as a polite 'no' and silently gave thanks for her escape. Then she went to Anakron, who looked rather dejected on his solitary pedestal.

“Have you decided?” His voice was flat and proud.

“Yes. Yes, I have. This is all so sudden, Anakron. One minute, you’re giving me tests and the next you’re asking me to ‘walk your path’ and such. Why, I hardly know you! And you hardly know me, really. But here’s what I say. I can’t join you.” Anakron raised a hand to silence Panakeia. She clasped the hand and pulled it downward. “Wait. I’m not finished. I can’t join you yet. But I’m not leaving Mordor either.” Panakeia couldn’t believe what she was saying. To stay in Mordor, for Anakron of all people, after all the trouble he'd just put her through to earn the right to leave, was more than inconceivable. And yet here she was just the same. “It’s only that this isn’t how things are done. Properly. I’ll stay in Mordor. Go back to my little hut. Get to know you better. Then, after a while, if you still want me to stay and if I think we get along, then I’ll ‘walk your path’ as you say. I’m not making any promises, but we’ll see what happens.” She smiled, and was shocked to find that she still held Anakron’s hand in her own. As she stood beside him, it seemed to her that the stiff breeze grew a little less cold.

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Old 02-23-2006, 08:55 PM   #287
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While Anakron was preparing himself for the final recounting, to be given to Mardil, he kept half an eye on Panakeia. whose comely face slipped from one expression to another as quickly as waves sloughing on the sea shore: surprise, confusion, a moment of mild pleasure - perhaps, then revulsion - Anakron feared, replaced by a tilt of the head in bemusement - of reconsideration, Anakron hoped; then a nod, a fleeting smile, a purse of the lips, a shrug, then a quick glimpse at Valde. Suddenly she rose and wlaked to the lead tragic actor who was apparently musing upon his choices.

This was not good. Anakron had noticed her infatuation for Valde Delego, and much as Anakron held a liking for the ungainly fellow, he had considered it quite farcical that she should fall for him in the least. But now they exchanged words. Ah, it was not going well. Anakron kept the relief he felt off of his face. Now she returned to him, looking up at him purposefully, some sort of resolve having apparently been made, already!

He had noticed something in her from the very first. She wore too much make-up; on that count Elempí had been right. Why? Intrigued by the mystery about her, he had kept his eye on her, though he never let it show; it would not have been good form. Nevertheless, her pluck and verve, as well as her more than pleasant features of face and form, had grown on him ... to say the least. At some point in the middle of the five test - well, seven test - ordeal, she had changed. The blonde hair coloring and gobs of make-up disappeared; this had been the most obvious sign, but there had been others. Sending the toupeé back to Kirk had made him sit up and take notice. He had had the letter intercepted, and read it, and had it sent on to its intended audience. He had been impressed. At some point, probably quite soon, he would have to confess that he had read her mail. But it might not be necessary.

She took his hand in hers and made her speech, which wound between no and yes and no, before settling on what she really thought. She had not let go of his hand. He smiled.

What Panakeia saw was more than a smile. The hard lines of the Anakron face softened as she had never seen before, and there was a sadness that he usually kept well guarded.

"Panakeia," he said slowly, as if relishing each syllable of her name, "you would see past the Anakron to the Elempí." He nodded, still smiling. "I should have expected no less. You wish to know the real man rather than the figure of authority. Very well. Once I was no more than Elempí, a studious man who stayed most often in his chambers, eager for the gaining and dispensing of knowledge. It is so long ago. Too long! I've worn these robes and this face of authority for so long that I had forgotten that there was anyone in here but the austere Anakronist. You have helped me remember who I am. Thank you."

"Um, you're welcome," replied Panakeia, quite taken aback at the veritable transformation of this man. "I-"

A howl broke out from far back in the crowd. Screams shattered the air. The crowd erupted in a sudden mass panic. Anakron grabbed Panakeia and drew him up close, away from the danger of the crowd. Looking out over the frantic mob, he sighed.

"What's going on?" Panakeia cried.

"It is Mardil, turned to a werewolf. He comes this way."
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Old 02-24-2006, 12:57 AM   #288
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Alli stood slightly off-balance with her fingers intertwined lightly with Aimè's. She watched bemusedly as Anakron propositioned Panakeia and listened confusedly when she heard the words "It is Mardil, turned to a werewolf. He comes this way."

Through her post-inebriation blur of thought, the words sounded slightly more like "Is Merle. Turn dintwa airulf. He comsis ay." It was small wonder she was slightly confused.

Aimè, who had not only had less to drink, but had more substance to him to soak up the alcohol than the slender lass did, heard the words and drew his sword. He carefully unwound Alli's fingers from his and turned her so that she was looking into his eyes.

"Alli, are you listening?"

"Wow... you've got the most amazing eyes."

"Alli! Pay attention!"

"What? I'm listening."

"Mardil is a werewolf."

"WHAT!?"

"He's probably coming after you. You're the Seer and pretty much everyone knows it. I can protect you, but you're still in danger."

"Um..."

"We have to kill him."

Alli stood motionless for a moment, waiting for the meaning of the words to sink in. She knew that it would sooner or later, but it was looking more like later. Aimè stood waiting. Alli's face suddenly took on a look of over-whelmed shock and she fainted into Aimè's arms. Or she passed out. It wasn't entirely clear which.
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Old 02-25-2006, 03:19 PM   #289
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Aimé, in a most comical and un-heroic fashion, tossed Alli to the side. She groaned as her head bumped off the floor, and lay quite still. Aimé turned to face the wolf, and gasped at the terror of the image. Ferocity personified, he thought it.

And with good reason did Werewolf-Mardil appear this way. Not only was the blue-blooded one a harsh and strict character originally, he had been turned into a Werewolf by one far more callous. Truly, it was the phantom who had bitten Mardil all that time ago. A more devious, villainous, diabolical wolf had never before walked the lands of Middle-earth; and now his evil was manifest once more, in the able vessel of Mardil.

He howled and snarled, pacing hither and thither, clearly as bloodthirsty as they come.

Aimé kept his cool, though. After all, he had his trusty crossbow at hand. Aim, one hit, and the job is done.

Wolf-Mardil paused. He was facing this deadly weapon head-on, and his mind was racing. How could he escape?

Aimé shot! But nothing happened. What was going on? The crossbow: it was jammed! "Blasted Hollywood drama!" he yelled! And within seconds his foe was upon him. Aimé used his hands to protect himself but the wolf ripped and tore with fury. In no time at all, Aimé was lying on the ground and bleeding badly.

The Wolf licked his lips and smiled; then turned towards the still-motionless Alli. He crept towards her...
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Old 02-25-2006, 05:22 PM   #290
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She woke up, her mind miraculously clear and her head no longer pounding. Werdil crept toward her. She grinned recklessly, daring him to do his worst:

"Do your worst."

She reached stealthily for the silver dagger normally sheathed to her attractively long leg. Her fingers met with air and then fabric. Her sheath was missing, the blade with it! When had she lost it?

The werewolf was nearly upon her.

Ugh! She'd had it when Mariò attacked her, though she'd been unable to use it against him. He must have disarmed her before Aimè's spectacular and short-lived defeat of him.

Mardil was there... he licked his lips, sharp teeth protruding in a gorgeously vampiric sort of way. Alli cursed herself for thinking about how attractive he was just now. She dared him to do his worst once more, reaching fruitlessly for a can of mace that had quite inconveniently disappeared at the same approximate time that the bag it was in did.

"I say it again, fiend, do your worst!"

He reached for her, grasping her face by the chin and pulling her upward toward him. She hit him hard with the side of her fist, loosening her hand to rake her fingernails across his face with the same motion. He growled angrily, his breath hot against her cheeks. Against all odds, she had a sudden strong desire to press her soft lips against his own.

"Alli, try to duck!" Aimè's desperate voice yelled over Alli's pounding heartbeat. Her chest rose and fell as she gasped for breath, now afraid. The werewolf's attention wavered for a moment, perhaps at Aimè's voice or perhaps for another reason. For a moment, Alli thought she saw a spark of humanity within his feral eyes.

The werewolf, seeing Aimè's repaired bow, stood fully, pulling Alli with him. He pulled her tight against him, a claw positioned across her throat, breathing dark threats into her ear as he used her as a shield. The blood Alli's nails had left behind on Mardil's face felt hot and wet against her own rose petal cheeks. She could smell Mardil's expensive cologne and cursed the designer of it for predicting so well what it would do to poor helpless girls, most especially when coupled with the soft fresh scent of fabric softener, the just-showered smell of soap, and that certain aroma that is apparently bequeathed to good-looking guys by some sort of mojo-god. Her knees felt weak.

If the vicious monster hadn't been using her as a human shield, she would have swooned at how incredibly mmmm he smelled. She was suddenly extremely angry at Mardil for being so attractive, even in werewolf form. She cried out to Aimè:

"Deeayemen it, I'm a damsel and I'm in distress. Somebody save me!!!"

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Old 02-25-2006, 09:13 PM   #291
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Some kind of paralysis had come over Anakron as he watched the slow moving tableau below him. Finally, Mardil, with an unexpectedly humanish face for a werewolf, not to mention incredibly good odors emanating from his masculinity, held the femininly swoonging Alli by the neck, having crushed her to his body in an odd sort of half-libidinized playfulness, a half life-threatening grip, protecting his own body from Aimé's waiting arrow. Anakron thought it odd that he was holding Panakeia in supposed safety in much the same way, but without all the aromatic wafting that seemed to emanate from Mardil and Alli.

"A moment, please, Panakeia," Anakron said, and letting go off the relatively safe for the moment beauty at his side, raised his staff and cried, "Dweomer convey!"

Nothing happened.

"Dweomer! Convey!"

Still nothing happened.

Anakron shook his staff as if it were a bad flashlight (which ought to be assigned to Mordor too); Sylvester spit and hacked.

"Dweomer! Deeyayemen it! Conbloodyvey!!"

Decidedly nothing happened.

Exasperated, Anakron brought Sylvester down and looked him in the eye, suddenly wishing that he had never begun a staredown with a Siamese Cat.

"What, pray," he growled, "is going on?"

Sylvester turned furry and black and white and unSiamese, suddenly growing cartoon eyes and a very bulbous nose, and an overly thick tongue.

"Thinth you athked," Sylvester spit, "The two Blue Ithtari are interfering."

Anakron sagged. "Oh."

Trouble was, Anakron's shouting had caught MadrilWolf's attention while his ensuing hot and heavy tableau had stalled. He turned to Anakron, his face suddenly a lot more wolfish, dropped Alli sprawling to the ground, and lunged.

"Run, Panakeia!" Anakron pushed her behind him off the platform. In the next instant, Mardil was upon him, the hastily raised staff knocked away by one huge werewolfish arm. The staff hit the ground. Sylvester came off the end of the staff, bounced on the ground, and stood up to watch what was happening to his Master. Which was that he was being ripped at the throat by the bloodythirsty werewolf. Sylvester jumped in one cartoonishly possible leap, and landed on Mardil's back, hacking and spitting and pounding upon Mardil's back. Mardil let go of Anakron's prone form, writhing, trying to reach the madly hopping, punching, lispily prattling Sylvester. He got him round the neck at last, holding him at arm's length, a toothy ferocious grin on his face. Sylvester looked at him and his eyes popped out then back in cartoonishly.

"Uh-oh," Sylvester lisped. "Do your worthed!"

Mardil popped Sylvester into his mouth by the head and chomped. Suddenly Mardil's head enlarged at a cartoonishly alarming rate, vibrating fiercely (because Sylvester was giving the inside of his mouth a Bronx cheer*). A look of revulsion came over Mardil's face and he pulled Sylvester back out of his mouth in disgust. He reached up a claw to tear the annoying cat head from shoulders, when his face contorted in surprise, and he fell over, bonking the choking Sylvester on the head on the way down.

"Thufferin' thuccotath!" Sylvester said.

Mardil did not move. Aimé's arrow had been let fly, and had pierced Mardil's heart. He was dead.

*A Bronx cheer is achieved by sticking one's tongue out, closing one's lips, then blowing hard.

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Old 03-04-2006, 05:42 PM   #292
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Panakeia received Anakron's pronouncement in shock. Mardil turned werewolf? She couldn't believe it. But she turned to look, and there, indeed, stood a werewolf. Despite the horrifying transformation, she recognized the man of Gondor in the furry beast before her. No werewolves, there are no werewolves, echoed through her head in an unending refrain. It just couldn’t be true. But even if it were true, Anakron would solve the problem. He could solve anything. She was delighted by his command to convey the Dweomer. Surely that would fix this little mess and send the anakronism back where it belonged. But nothing happened, and her heart sank at Sylvester's lisping announcement of Blue Istari interference. This was bad. Anakron, it seemed, could do nothing now. Then the worst happened, and Mardil approached them menacingly. The wolf was nearly upon her as she stood with Anakron. He pushed her aside barely in time to avoid Mardil's claws and teeth.

The werewolf flew toward Anakron. In a moment, Mardil had him on the ground. A despairing wail rose in Panakeia's throat, only to emerge as a silent 'o' shaped mouth. The thought to hurry to Anakron's aid came urgently, frantically. But her feet, whether out of fear or from a command of the same force that had stripped Anakron's powers a moment eariler, seemed riveted to the earth.

Mardil fell heavily to the ground, an arrow protruding from his chest. The spell was broken, and Panakeia rushed back to Anakron, who remained face down on his platform. She shook him by the shoulder. "Anakron! Anakron. Dar..." No, it was still too soon to use that word, earlier protective stances notwithstanding. "Anakron, speak to me. Please. Are you hurt?"

A low moan came in reply. "No. I'm fine," he said. But he pulled his cloak tightly around his neck. Panakeia thought she spotted bright red drops on the ground. She gave Anakron a concerned, questioning glance, but did not challenge his assertion.

Meanwhile, a loud debate had started between Aimè and Alli, ex-damsel in distress. "Doubleyooteeff!" she shrieked. "You killed Mardil!"

Aimè shifted uncomfortably. "But he was a werewolf. I had no choice." He paused. "Why are you yelling at me? You wanted me to rescue you. Would you prefer to be in that monster's clutches?"

Panakeia ignored the argument. Let them solve their own problems. She returned her attention to Anakron, and was instantly alarmed. He looked pale, even more than usual. "Are you sure you're alright?"

Anakron smiled faintly. "Of course I am." He stooped over Mardil's still werewolvish form and picked up his staff.

"Is he really dead?" Panakeia queried.

"Yes. For now. As were the victims of Dol Gaurgauroth. But that will be corrected. Sylvester! Do the Istari still block the Dweomer?"

The Siamese Cat shook his head in the negative.

"It is well. Dweomer! Convey!"

And, as if a switch somewhere had been flipped to 'rewind', Mardil's lifeless form arose in the exact reverse of its tumble to the ground, returned to the moment before his death. With a sneer, he lurched toward Anakron.

Anakron spoke again. "Dweomer! Convey!" A treadmill appeared beneath Mardil's feet. The faster Mardil ran toward Anakron, the faster the treadmill spun its belt. Mardil remained in place. And slowly, his wolvish features began to fade. Before long, he stood calmly (if out of breath from his race to nowhere), without a trace of lupine features. As Mardil returned to humanity, Anakron lowered his staff and leaned on it, breathing heavily, one hand clutching his throat.

Panakeia was now really frightened. Something was definitely not right. "Anakron! What's wrong?" She put a hand on his shoulder.

Anakron spun to face her. "Stay back!" he shouted, and pushed her away. "Run!" He dropped his hand to reveal a bloodied bite mark at the base of his neck. Fur began to spring from the wound and his eyes took on on a baleful red glow. His teeth lengthened into fangs. He sprang toward Panakeia with a growl. She screamed.

Quick as a flash, Mardil's knife flew through the air. Simultaneously, Aimé's bow twanged. Both weapons found their mark in Anakron's body. He looked pitifully (gratefully?) at his attackers for an instant, then slowly sank to the ground.

Panakeia hurried to the dying werewolf. "No, no. Not you. Don't be dead! Not now. We'll convey the Dweomer, or whatever you call it. We'll get through this. We’ll fix it all. But don't die on me!" She stared into Anakron's red wolf-eyes, hoping beyond hope for some glint of recognition. But none came, and the red light faded into the dull stare of death. Panakeia was paralyzed. This couldn’t be happening. It wasn’t happening.

The fortuneteller, forgotten in all the commotion, came forward and recited a verse:

The way you walked was thorny, through no fault of your own.

Fur vanished from Anakron's skin.

But as the rain enters the soil, the river enters the sea, so tears run to a predestined end.

Fangs shrank to normal dentition.

Now you will find peace.

And Anakron's body lay on the platform, a look of perfect calm on his face, as though in a restful sleep.

The sun suddenly shone out, soft rays gently illuminating the scene. But the light was lost on Panakeia. She sank to her knees at Anakron's side and wept.
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Old 03-05-2006, 08:00 PM   #293
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Alli stopped berating Aimè (who she wasn't that upset with, since he had just saved her, but it was the thought that counted, she always said, and she thought that anyone who'd kill someone who smelled as good as Mardil, in girl-friend-defense or not, deserved not only a run-on sentence but a good superfluous rant) as soon as Mardil came back to life and Anakron lost his.

She stood in shock as Panakeia knelt in the same sort of mental state. She turned to Aimè.

"Did Anakron just die?"

He nodded.

"Are you sure?"

He nodded again.

"So by nodding, you mean to tell me that Anakron's corpse is sitting right there..."

He nodded one more time.

"Damn. How do we fix him?"

Aimè stared blankly, at a complete loss for words. He'd just dealt with two werewolves. His job was to kill them, not to bring them back to life.

"Okay, I've got it." she said, rubbing her hands together. She walked over to Anakron and nudged Panakeia out of the way. Opening Anakron's mouth, she pulled an absurdly large bellows from her miraculously recovered bag. Jamming it inside, she started pumping. Slowly but surely, Anakron's chest began to rise and fall gently. Panakeia looked hopefully at him. A moment later, Alli pulled the bellows out and Anakron's surprisingly mobile dead body remained a dead body and ceased being mobile. She put the bellows away and went back to Aimè, brainstorming a bit more.

Forever later, but really only about thirty seconds, she sighed melodramatically.

"I've got nothin'." Aimè nodded. He was as utterly bereft of nothing as she was. In fact, due to bad grammar of that odd turn of phrase, he logically and obviously ended up having something.

"Illamatar."

"Pardon?"

"Illamatar. We have the One on our side."

"Oh yeah. Illamatar, I need you!" Alli shouted to the wind. The wind did not shout back. Nor did it bleat back, baa back, or even bray. "Um... I think Illamatar turned his back on us."

"Alli," Aimè preached, "Perhaps Illamatar didn't really turn his back on you. Perhaps you turned your back on him."

She turned around. Whoodathunkit, but Illamatar was right there looking as llamaesque as ever, black eyes staring everywhere at once, and standing absurdly tall.

"Ooh, hi Lord."

"What do you want now, Alli?"

"Well, I'm having some trouble keeping my slain werewolves properly slain, but really, the trouble in this case is that we just slayed one and I kind of want him back."

"So you're complaining that Mardil came back to life? I thought you were all over him like white on rice."

"What!?"

"My apologies... I have recently heard the phrase and felt as though using it in this situation would appropriately convey your attraction. Was I mistaken?"

"Um... no, not really. But I really need Anakron back. We can't leave Mordor without him. And... well... I kind of want out."

Aimè looked crushed. Alli hastily kissed him reassurance.

"I mean... I want to come back and all... but... well... I guess I kind of have a request list."

The Allmighty looked at Alli in wonder. Could she really be so arrogant that she would think presenting a list of desired deau ex machinae would result in them actually happening?

"Yes."

"Baa."

"No, seriously, that's what I want, Illamatar. The look on your face... it's obvious you're contemplating smiting me for having the cahones to tell you what I want and expecting you to do it. Basically, to put it simply, I want all of the werewolves Aimè and I killed that came back to life to stop being werewolves. You can't make me a Seer and Aimè a Hunter and then, each time we kill our enemies, bring them back to life. That's so beyond unfair.

"And I want Aimè to be able to come with me when I leave Mordor.

"And I want Anakron to come back to life."

Illamatar looked at her and looked to the devastated Panakeia, still weeping over Corpsakron. He looked at Aimè and then looked blankly at nothing. Alli assumes that he was using his absurdly bulbous eyes to look through space and see Mario et. al. He baaed.

"Alli of Those Destined For An Interesting Life, I will grant you one of your wishes. Choose carefully which, for all plans for a sequel may have to be changed if you make a mistake."

She looked at him in shock. "The sequel depends on... me?!?!?"

"And me. And many others. Choose now, Miss Umfuìl."

She considered. She could simply kill Mario again and again, annoying though it may be. If she played her cards right, Anakron could release Aimè. She might have to get him really drunk in order to beat him at poker, but it could happen. But she'd already tried to breathe new life into Anakron. It didn't work.

"Anakron."

"Bless you."

"No, Anakron. I want Anakron back." Illamatar smiled. Before her he changed, becoming more majestic than ever, his power exuding from every pore. It smelled a little odd, but she was appropriately awed, so the powerful smell wasn't as over-bearing as it could be.

"ANAKRON ISTKON VAYOR!" he boomed. "COME BACK TO THIS WORLD!!!"

The world went black and flared brightly with clear light. Blinded, Alli hid her eyes in Aimè's shoulder. As the world came back to what could only be described as [really impossibly ab]normal, a disembodied voice whispered in the now perfectly healthy and standing Anakron's ear.

"Whatever you do, don't get drunk and play cards with Alli. Baa."
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Old 03-05-2006, 08:26 PM   #294
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"Got it," replied Anakron to the voice in his ear.

Panakeia stood near, her eyes wet and staining her face, a look of disbelief and unremitting joy on her face. About me? How unlikely. But if so, why, I could get used to this. Such were Anakron's thoughts. He smiled warmly and wiped the tears from her eyes.

"And now to business," he whispered and winked. She nodded.

Anakron turned. "Mardil! Come near! It is time to review your performance in the Tests!"

Mardil, now in human form again, looking as confident and self-possessed as ever, his stride a little more jaunty than usual (perhaps he recalled from his werewolf state the odd admixture of panic and passion in Alli).

"How do you think you did, Mardil?"

"I think I performed admirably, Grand Anakronist."

"I would expect no other response. Let us see what the results show. The first test saw you arrive at the appointed goal on time to say the least, despite a run-in with a decidedly belligerent Balrog: 10 points. For the second test, you took one of the vehicles offered, and through singular ingenuity, not to mention the use of another of the Offending Party according to your wishes, you drove a hard bargain and got yourself a very find vehicle indeed, and found clever solutions to all the problems of the road. There were a few things that were overlooked by you as well as all the others, and thus you received 6 points. For the third test, you wheedled the plot of the upcoming novel out of J.K. Rowling, which was indeed the most precious thing to her at that time: 10 points. In the werewolf village, you were instrumental in the death of one innocent only: 9 points. For the University of Mordor, you passed your psychological exam with flying colors: 10 points; your course work in the same manner: 10 points. Unfortunately, the formerly late Dr. Hookbill-" At this, said formerly late individual waved from the gathered crowd. "-failed to start, let alone complete, your physical exam and subsequent surgery. However, the Blue Istari performed a physical and surgery by means of certain biological and chemical experiments, which were quite life-threatening in their lycanthropic nature; however, you survived that as well and now stand before me in perfect health: 10 points. And now for the character by which you carried yourself during the entirety of this challenge. You were peerless. You were constantly ingenious, clever, eloquent, and capable in the face of each challenge, as needed: 30 points. Your total score is therefore 95 points out of a possible 100. You are free to-"

"Hold!" cried a pair of persuasive voices, standing between two raised staves. The Blue Istari.

Now what? Anakron wondered, and everybody else understandably did as well.

"This young man," said the slightly less tall Alatar, "was too capable. He did too well. He functioned in ways more appropriate to the time period from which these anakronisms come than our own time, especially outside Mordor."

"Therefore, we have decided," continued Pallando, "that Mardil's reward is not to leave Mordor and return to Gondor, but to be banished to the future."

"But, but, but-" Anakron began while the two wizards raised their staves and spoke in a sudden staccato chant that was over in a moment. Mardil disappeared.

Anakron's face blackened with rage. He threw down his staff. "Sirs, you have flagrantly violated the character of our agreement! Therefore, I am finished with you! Find yourselves another Anakronist!"

"Nonsense," murmured Alatar. "He was too dangerous to be the next Emperor of Gondor. No way to control him. He had to be taken out of the picture."

"How do you expect him to survive in the future?" Anakron asked. "It's a different world."

"He has proven his ability to function quite ably," Pallando replied. "Do not fear. Those who come from that time would have more to fear from him that we would were he Emperor; but that is no concern of ours."

"So you will not allow me to retire?" Anakron growled.

"Don't be silly," Alatar smirked.

Anakron looked around the crowd. Here and there, sprinkled amongst them were the Offending Party members and all those with whom they had dealt over the last few weeks. They all looked shocked, to the last of them. Alli's eyes were wide as saucers. He could just about imagine how the gears were grinding behind that brow.

Anakron shook his head and turned to Panakeia. "I am sorry. This is not how it was meant to be. I hope you understand that." Anakron looked into her eyes, wondering what she thought.

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Old 03-11-2006, 10:49 AM   #295
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Panakeia closed her eyes, stood on her toes, and clicked her heels together. "I know there's a Shire, I know there's a Shire!" She opened her eyes again and smiled bashfully.

"What was that all about?" Anakron asked, thoroughly bemused.

"Meowwwwwwer!" Sylvester called from atop Anakron's staff. "Convey why don'tcha?" he said.

Anakron shrugged. "Dweomer, convey."

Sylvester began to hack. And hack. And hack.

"Uh oh," said Panakeia, "that is going to be one big hairball."

Sylvester kept hacking. Finally a wad of paper dropped from his mouth and fell into Anakron's hands.

"Open it, thilly!" Sylvester ordered.

Anakron uncrumpled the mess, which somehow was not all covered in saliva, a great relief to Anakron who was not entirely keen on having a cat's spew in his hands. He straightened out the paper and flapped it in the wind. There was writing in it, in a now famous lettering that had been seen all over Middle Earth for years untold. Anakron smiled. He held it up for Panakeia to read:

Quote:
Emissary from Mordor arrives with a new Shire resident...

I hereby assign Mardil II, formerly of Gondor, formerly of Mordor, to the Shire for acts of heroism and being a generally good egg.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

~ signed, Celuien, Ghost Prince of Cardolan
"It appears that Mardil II is free and in the Shire," Anakron smiled. "But who's Celuien?"

"Oh, a friend," Panakeia grinned.

Anakron gave her his best Spockú impersonation.

"This," Alatar growled, "is not the end of the story."

"We'll thee about that!" Sylvester hollered, and favored the two Blue Istari with a very wet Bronx Cheer.

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Old 03-12-2006, 02:39 PM   #296
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What a day of drama, tears and unlooked for joy! Through a teardrop balanced precariously at the edge of a delicate eyelash, Panakeia saw Anakron alive once more. Rainbows seemed to glimmer in the teary prism. She stepped over them, troubles melting behind her like lemon drops, to stand once again by Anakron’s side, her nose and eyes still reddened from earlier despair. What I need right now, she thought, is some Visine. I must look a sight. A quick glance at Anakron's face changed her mind. If anything, he seemed to appreciate her aqueous response to his apparent demise. Panakeia wouldn't try to conceal her tears then. She laughed rejoicingly, letting a few extra drops splash down her nose, this time from relief mingled with delight. Even in Mordor, it seemed, dreams really could (and did) come true.

In all honesty, Panakeia hadn't expected the suddenness of her new attachment to the Grand Anakronist. Her lachrymose reaction had been entirely genuine, but it surprised her. She hadn't been given to such displays of emotion before – at least not for many years – but everything was different now. She had regained her conscience out of the past, and with it came other unanticipated attributes from her youth. Including a propensity towards falling for Anakron. And why not? Certainly he had behaved nobly recently, particularly in the matter of Mardil. He rescued Mardil before giving any thought to himself. Had Anakron not sacrificed his life in an effort to protect the Party and save the hapless Mardil? Perhaps that was part of the reason for her response to Anakron’s fortunately temporary death.

And what of Mardil? Anakron granted him leave to depart from Mordor. And then the Blue Istari appeared. An overwhelming desire to turn the cruel pair into the Black and Blue Istari with a swift pummeling rose in her. It was entirely their fault that Anakron died. Their fault that she nearly lost her newfound love and would have lost him permanently if not for Illamatar's auspicious intervention. Their fault that her nose was still running in a most unattractive fashion. She would have commenced a gushing flow of reproach, probably with grave consequences to herself, had Anakron not spoken first. Instead, she stood glaring at them furiously, until, in a new twist, Mardil vanished into thin air, or the future, or wherever the Duo sent him. Anakron was irate over their actions, but unable to override their commands. Between her own dislike for them and her sympathy with Anakron, she yearned to do something to help. What could she do?

An odd wave of giddiness passed over Panakeia, and she found herself on tiptoe with closed eyes, clicking her heels, and muttering something about the Shire. Her eyes reopened to catch a glimpse of Nichole, now wearing a checkered-blue dress and holding a basket, at the periphery of the group of spectators. Who inexplicably winked at her, then clicked her own ruby colored shoes together and disappeared, never to be seen again in Mordor. Her vanishing act was followed by Sylvester's paper-producing hacking and Anakron's announcement that Mardil was safely in the Shire.

Then Panakeia thought she heard Nichole's voice, oddly distant, and oddly audible to no one else. There’s no place like home. Panakeia caught a brief glimpse of a book-lined room with a lone occupant. However she had done it, Nichole had made her way back home. And so when Anakron queried her about the mysterious Celuien, though Panakeia didn't know who she was with certainty, she had a fairly good guess. Panakeia quietly exulted at her friend's escape and subsequent defeat of the evil wizards' scheming. Sylvester gave them a Bronx Cheer; Panakeia would have done so too had it not been unladylike.

"Well, Anakron," she said. "Our journey to the edge of Mordor is over. But we have a new one to begin." She smiled brilliantly. "When do we start?"

"What about dinner and a concert tonight?" he replied.

And a giddily beaming Panakeia accepted the invitation. "See you then." She walked away, smiling from ear to ear and singing.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue
And the dreams
That you dare to dare to dream
Really do come true.


Her heart was light. Dreams, hopes and plans for the future stretched out before her, all close at hand. Yes, she was in Mordor, but it seemed to Panakeia that she had indeed gone over the rainbow at last.
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Old 03-16-2006, 10:40 PM   #297
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She was an old woman, and she'd spent a good fifty years in the barren wastes of Mordor. Ever since the ATM had selected her name, practically all she had thought about was getting out of the wretched place. But now that she was free to go, Wilhelmina Brochenbach had a few things to say to some of her comrades.

She made her way over to Fléin, whom she knew looked quite pleased somewhere under his beard. "Congratulations, my dear," she said, grinning as she noticed Mârtha Stewârt's hand-painted, virtually indestructible beaker poking out of his pack. "If you and Ketchupkin should ever find yourselves wanting some licorice and ferrety company, do drop in sometime in Ithilien." She gave the Dwarf a quick hug and bid him adieu.

Noticing Anakron standing off to the side staring wistfully off at Panakeia's retrating figure, she headed in his direction. "Hey, Anakron!" she called. His gaze flicked over to her as if he had been snapped out of a daze.

"Yes, Wilhelmina?"

"Well... let's just say I never liked you much. But I guess you're really not so bad. Maybe the Dweomer is an acquired taste... like sushi, or Wagnerian opera. After all, you did get us out of here. So, I suppose what I mean to say is 'thanks'."

"You're welcome," Anakron replied sincerely. "All in the Grand Anakronist's day's work."

Wilhelmina turned and strode towards the last person -- or creature, rather -- she wanted to talk to, but called over her shoulder, "And I hope it works out with Panakeia, too! Maybe you can talk her out of that horrid Pearie Ockcide Potion!"

Suddenly, there was a kamura in her face -- it was her kamuraorc, who was asking her--

"What awe woo going to do fiwst now that wou'we fwee to weave Mowdow?" he lisped.

"Er... I don't really know," she said puzzledly. She'd focused so much on the things that wouldn't be in the world outside Mordor that she'd nearly forgotten all the nice things that would be there. She could go walking in the forests of Ithilien, go to market whenever she wanted without nearly being run over by Orcs... maybe she'd even meet a nice gentleman, and they wouldn't have to go on dates to bowling alleys.

"I don't know what exactly I'll do first," she admitted to the kamuraorc, whom she found, like Anakron, she didn't entirely hate anymore either. "But I hope the reality show gets good ratings. It had better, after all these escapades. And if it does do well, you know there'll be remakes and an infinite number of seasons... Now if you'll excuse me..."

There was just one more to talk to.

"Yoo-hoo! Queenie!" she called loudly to the gigantic ape, who was still loitering about. "Would you mind terribly taking Mr. Swanky and myself for one last trip?" Queen Quon seemed to grin, and she picked Wilhelmina up and placed her (and Mr. Swanky) on her back.

"The Black Gate, please," Wilhelmina said happily. "One way."

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Old 04-08-2006, 09:47 AM   #298
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Fléin watched Wilhelmina ride away with a tear in his eye. What a wild time they'd had together! A brilliant woman...

He remembered, suddenly, that she hadn't given him an address. But no matter. He could track her down in Ithilien, couldn't he? Yes, definitely.

He felt somewhat dazed. After two years of this horrendous - but not quite godforsaken, as Alli had shown - place, here, finally, was his chance to leave. To leave it all behind. All of it.

He turned to face Ketchupkin. Was he really willing to leave the Dwarf? Ketchupkin betrayed no signs of emotion, or, perhaps, the emotion was lost beneath the thickly matted beard.

It was time. "Ketchupkin," Fléin started, before choking on his words. "Do... don't think me rash. But, if I am to leave, and even if I am not, I would like to know... I hope you do not think me rude... I think we know each other quite well now... Well..." he sputtered lamely.

"What I mean is..." he drew a deep breath, "are you male or female?"

Instead of the usual look of shock one would expect from a Dwarf asked such a question, there was only a gentle smile. They did know each other well enough. The simple reply seemed to Fléin the most beautiful word in the world. "Female."

"And," she continued, "I can see by the smile in your eyes...?" she let the question hang.

Fléin nodded. He didn't even need to say it. He just nodded. Male.

"I don't expect you to stay on my account."

Fléin nodded once again. "I don't intend to," he replied bluntly. "You're a wonderful person, Ketchupkin, really. If we had met under different circumstances... If you are ever freed from this evil land, come seek me. Seek me in the Orocarni, Ketchupkin."

She bowed her head in acknowledgement.

"You know... I'm not planning on leaving until tomorrow morning," he said.

Night fell. They decided, since it was his last night in Mordor, to do something very naughty together.

They stole Anakron's left shoe in the middle of the night.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

The next morning, Fléin awoke early. Ketchupkin walked by his side. He wanted to avoid Anakron, for obvious reasons; nor did he much like the idea of saying farewell to Panakeia, Valde, or Mardil. Well, he liked the idea of saying farewell to them - but not of actually communicating with them. They were hardly nice people, and sharing a week with them had done little to mellow his views. Alli and Sai though - nice girls.

They made their way to Alli's quarters. Fléin knocked.

Nothing happened.

He knocked again. Nothing.

She was probably tired from all the excitement of last night. Still, if he waited any longer, the others would wake up.

He left her a note.

Quote:
Alli,

Thank you for explaining to me about you-know-what. It was really enlightening. I had a wonderful time with you. Thanks for everything. I won't forget you. If ever you should journey to the East, seek me in the Orocarni.

Fléin
He actually managed to catch Sai. She hugged him. He asked her to visit him in the Orocarni, she asked him to visit her in Gondor. And, having said his goodbyes, he trekked off, not to Ithilien in the West, but to the Eastern borders of Mordor with Ketchupkin at his side.
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Old 04-12-2006, 04:59 AM   #299
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Still smarting slightly from Anakron's accusation that she had simply used others for her own gain, though privately she was quite proud of the fact that she had managed to complete all the tasks and gained enough points to escape Mordor without actuall doing a great deal of work, Sai headed off to say goodbye and find J Lo, hoping that this run on sentence would eventually end. Catching sight of her old kamura orc she moved toward him and his van, but ran into Fléin on the way.

"Come visit me sometime." Came the somewhat stilted voice of a member of a species that famously hated outward displays of emotion. Sai promised that she would visit and returned the invite. She wanted to find Alli to check that it was alright to return J Lo's bottom without her turning back into a werewolf, but the girl was nowhere in sight. She knocked on Alli's door and yelled the question through it, but received no more than a vague groan in answer. Shaking her head she shouted her goodbyes and left Alli to her sleep.

As she continued on toward the orc she heard a popping sound behind her, and turned to find that Mordor had done one of it's strange little things again. She looked over at Anakron but he seemed far too busy to have caused it. Shrugging she silently thanked whatever had done it, and walked over to the rather bemused looking J Lo, who had just appeared in a rather clichéd puff of smoke.

"Now that my task is done
Let the world no more shun
This woman they now all ignore
Return what I took before!"


She did a double take at the awful rhyme she had just come up with, but as she craned her neck she could see a gentle swelling beginning. She stood back and watched for a moment, but couldn't see any sign of wolvishness, so left her to it.

Heading back again she caught Anakron's eye and he nodded to her with a smile, letting her know that she could go. Sai still wanted to say goodbye to the rest of the Offending Party, she knew she'd miss each of them in some small way. Alli's mood swings, Fléin's accusations of lesbianism, Panakeia's insane products, but even so, it was time to leave.

Facing West, she went home.
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Old 05-02-2006, 03:17 AM   #300
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----------- Finis -----------

~*~ To Elvenhome ~*~
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