04. In the Most Unlikely Places

The fourth mission of Agents Tirsaer and Ryni has arrived! I do not own the fic "The Singer's Girl," which belongs to Lady MSM. Neither do I own The Silmarillion, which belongs to the Tolkien Estate. The PPC was created by Jay and Acacia, although by now it sort of has a life of its own.

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Slowly, carefully, Agent Tirsaer pulled a pair of plastic surgical gloves over his hands and snapped a paper mask over his mouth and nose. Then, after checking to make certain his safety goggles were in place and that his apron fully covered the front of his red leather jacket, he lifted a single hardback novel off the bookshelf with reverent precision and set it gently on the fresh-cleaned table, still gleaming in spots from the vigorous scrubbing it had recently undergone. He eased open the cover, using a pair of tweezers to do so, and bent over the page with intense concentration.

Sprawled on her bed with an open novel held one-handed over of her eyes, Agent Ryni glanced away from her reading for a moment. The hand not concerned with the support of her book trailed off the side of the bed to idly scratch behind the ears of a small nine-tailed fox. The mini-Kyuubi, Garra, slouched lazily on the ground, eyes half-lidded and tails undulating slowly, for once seeming content to allow the agents some peace. "Surely such devoted care and concern is unneeded and impractical, simply a delay in that which you truly seek."

He pulled his attention away just long enough to level a furious glare at his partner. "D'you how hard it is to get new books in here?"

"Aye, Tirsaer." She returned to her book, The Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells. While Tirsaer had to admit that her taste in literature was excellent, he really did wish she'd stop giving him all those pointed looks every time she turned a page. "As difficult as a visit to Postal, as impossible as the opening of a portal. Most challenging indeed."

"You know what I mean. Books wear out fast in this business, what with all the exorcisms and canon brush-ups and borrowings. I don't want my only copy of this book destroyed." Unconsciously holding his breath, Tirsaer slipped the tweezers under the page and turned it. "I respect this world and author way too much."

"By which you certainly mean you wish the preservation of your first edition, autographed Sabriel, the first book of that canon you claim as your home." Ryni sighed. "Are you incapable of realizing that the paper is not the canon, and as such needs not the treatment required and expected to be given to the continuum itself?"

"Look, I don't argue about your quirks, you don't argue about mine." Pointedly, he turned away from her and lowered his eyes to the novel spread before him.

After a moment's hesitation, Ryni lowered her book. "I must beg curiosity to what you would consider my 'quirks'."

"Um." Tirsaer blinked and looked up. "Well... you talk strangely."

"Aye? You think so truly?" She shook her head. "I know not what you imply."

"And you get a little weird sometimes," he pressed on.

"Do not we all? You fail to provide the explanation I desire."

"Never mind, Ryni." Tirsaer sighed, sliding the tweezers between another page. "It's really not that important."

The console chose this moment to let out an ear-piercing [BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!], quickly silenced by a well-aimed shoe from Ryni.

Involuntarily, Tirsaer jumped. A small, delicate sound split the silence, and with growing dread, he glanced down. The page held between the tweezers had torn around his grip, perhaps an inch or so in from the edge. Drawing in a deep, steady breath, he gently set the tweezers aside and closed the book, certain not to bend any of the pages. Then, with as much dignity and composure as he could muster, he began to swear in oaths stolen from perhaps half a dozen continua.

"Charter preserve me from ripping the poxy petals from those God-rotting Flowers and burning their Glaurung technology. Glass and splinters, don't get a single gorram break in this whole fornicating secret agency and they godsdamn don't have the rutting decency to show a little Morgoth-taken courtesy to their sharding workers."

Ryni listened quietly, dropping a bookmark between the pages of her novel and sitting upright, ignoring the sleepy protest from Garra. When Tirsaer finally fell silent, she asked, "Have you finished and completed your complaints?"

He swore at her, too.

"I see." She picked up a small pair of scissors and a bundle of thread from where they lay beside her, then searched for her boots. One of them she found by her cot, covered in mini slobber, and the other sat on the floor where it had bounced from the console. "Be that so, it occurs to me that your anger and rage is best brought upon the Sue whose influence brings such unfortunate incidents rather than those who merely inform."

"But Sabriel is ruined! They made me tear it!" He gestured at the book, tears starting in his eyes.

Sliding off the bed, Ryni walked over to the table and, ignoring Tirsaer's protests, picked up the book. "It appears to be but a minor and insignificant wound," she commented, flipping through the pages. "If you are so distraught and dismayed, something so small may be taped together and whole once more."

"It won't be the same!" Tirsaer wailed. "And stop getting your dirty fingerprints on it!" He snatched the book away with his protected hands, cradling it to his chest like a wounded puppy.

Eyebrows raised, Ryni glanced down at her hands before starting towards her thrown boot. "No filth or foulness lingers in my touch."

"Metaphorical dirt. Don't touch it." He turned and slid the book back into its spot on the bookshelf. "I need to kill something now."

"Your chance will come, it appears," Ryni called from the console. A pause, and she continued. "I knew not that the First Age of Middle-earth contained its own plague of Sues and terror."

"Silmarillion Sues? You're kidding." For a moment Tirsaer forgot about his book as he hurried to the console, pulling off his protective gear and dropping it on the table as he went. "... You're not kidding."

"Aye, Tirsaer." Ryni reached for a backpack, which she tucked her thread into. The scissors she slipped into a pocket. "What materials of canon shall we require?"

"Silmarillion Sues." Tirsaer shook his head in disbelief. "Poor Maglor. She absolutely slaughters him."

"Tirsaer!" Ryni repeated, louder. "Name the canon to be brought."

"What? Oh." Still blinking in surprise, Tirsaer wandered over to his bed, around which his mission equipment was scattered. "The Silm, obviously, and Morgoth's Ring wouldn't hurt." Tirsaer gathered up his own backpack and selected the aforementioned books from the shelf. "And probably the LotR stuff, too, while we're at it." He scowled. "That thing is going down for ruining Sabriel."

Currently lacing up her thick boots, Ryni grimaced. "Can you not think of other than your broken novel?"

"No." Tirsaer adjusted his bandolier of necromancer bells and slung on his backpack. He wouldn't need the bells this time—no exorcisms, and they were otherwise useless outside of the Abhorsenverse—but he never took them off if he could avoid it. "I have priorities."

"As distorted as they may be," Ryni muttered, reaching for the disguise generator. "What think you of taking the shape of a Noldo?"

"Sounds fine. First person, right? Probably want a crash dummy, then." He rummaged through a green trunk near the console, eventually pulling out a large cube made from yellow foam. "We got away without it last time, but I don't want to take any chances."

"Your prudence is appreciated." A glowing portal opened, and Ryni slung on her backpack and picked up her notebook. "Shall we be off?"

"Wait." A hand reached over her shoulder, plucking the notebook from her grasp. "I'll take the charges this time."

"Oh?" Ryni glanced back at her partner. "Then you desire that I deliver the charges? As I recall, you prefer to claim that right for yourself, to finish the Duty as swiftly as possible."

"You sometimes leave things out. I told you, I want to get everything down this time." Tirsaer started for the portal, jaw clenched. "I do not appreciate having my books ruined."

"The melodrama grows wearing." Ryni rolled her eyes and stepped through the portal. Gripping the yellow cube under one arm and the notebook in one hand, Tirsaer followed.

They emerged into a misty gray landscape, the formless world that existed right before the story started. Unprepared or the abrupt shift in footing, Tirsaer stumbled and swore before turning to examine his new appearance. The disguises had given both him and his partner darker hair, gray eyes, and changed the angles of their faces into something more delicate and fine. In addition, Ryni had grown almost a foot in height, and Tirsaer's normally short hair now fell to the center of his back. Their black uniforms remained almost unchanged, however, as did Tirsaer's red jacket and bandolier. The swab-sword attached to his belt, though, had transformed into a somewhat oddly shaped blade.

Reaching for her notebook, Ryni blinked as her hand encountered air, and shaking her head, she turned to her partner. "Perhaps I shall prepare the crash dummy, so that the Sue takes us not unaware."

"Sounds fine." He handed over the cube, and as Ryni carried it some distance away, began to leaf through the notebook.

While the pages were, for the most part, taken up with finely written charge lists, the occasional sketch or doodle jumped out from the margins. These Tirsaer tried his best to ignore. It wasn't that Ryni's drawing style was bad, as such, although something about the emphasis on hair and unusual angles did unnerve him slightly. It was just that her subject matter tended to be weird. Who actually drew a (highly detailed) picture of someone—likely a Sue, to judge by the long hair—with her skin ripping off in long strands? Okay, he knew lots of people who probably did, but they likely didn't scribble it out in sweeping strokes next to a list of the uses of various punctuation marks!

Noting in passing a string of symbols that looked, to Tirsaer's admittedly inexperienced eyes, like portal coordinates, he flipped back to the first empty page and unhooked the pen from the cover. "You'll need a new notebook soon. This one's starting to fill up."

"Aye, Tirsaer." With a tug at a string dangling from one side, the foam cube expanded into a battered, humanoid mannequin, faceless and with only the rudimentary beginnings of a female shape. Once possessed by the author-wraith, the dummy would take on the appearance of the Sue, but for now it looked like nothing so much as a lifeless doll. "I would appreciate most highly if you would refrain from decreasing and subtracting from the amount of time it has remaining."

"I'll see what I can do."

The story began, and the author's notes boomed down from the surrounding gray.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of this, except the stuff that you didn't see mentioned in the Silmarillion or anywhere else. Can't sue me! Ha ha!

Also, I know that this story is probably riddled with errors and clichés. Go easy on me, okay? I'm no Tolkien expert. Thanks, and enjoy!

"Okay. That's annoying." Tirsaer scowled. "It's not like doing a bit of research is really all that difficult."

"I doubt the writer considered that simple and painless route." Ryni squinted at the Words. "The usual proud arrogance and senseless boasting often encountered in such notes seems lacking, however."

Tirsaer ignored her, painstakingly scrawling a charge into the notebook. "Not... doing... proper... research," he muttered under his breath.

As writing charges turned out to be a surprisingly engrossing task, it took him a moment to register a change in the environment. A sudden indrawn breath from his partner pulled his eyes upward for a second, just in time to witness the second sign of authorial influence.

Under Tirsaer's horrified gaze, a pink-hued haze detached itself from the gray landscape, seeming to flow from the space between the Words to condense around the crash dummy lying on the ground. Ryni hissed, backing away and leveling her sewing scissors at the mannequin. "Author-wraith," she spat. "Foul, unclean demon of mischaracterization and fanon."

Unperturbed, the wraith sank into the foam of the doll, pulling itself through lifeless material until no remaining burst of glittering color could be seen. The agents eyed the dummy warily, waiting for some sign of animation or at least a change in appearance.

Finally Tirsaer spoke. "Okay. Now what?"

As if his words had triggered a response, the dummy sat up with abrupt, jerking movements. Tirsaer yelped and jumped backwards, staring in horror as the dummy—the Sue, now—stood up on boneless legs, a mouth opening in the blank face.

"And so the fic begins," Ryni declared as the Sue began to speak.

Okay, I admit it. I was stupid. Really, there were several good reasons as to why I shouldn't have fallen in love with Maglor son of Feanor. These were as follows:

I'd never met him before. I'd barely even HEARD of him. I had no idea what he was like at ALL.

When I met him for the first time, his family was on exile from Tirion because his dad had threatened one of his relatives. That's a sure sign of trouble.

Any sensible girl would have known better than to get involved with one of the Sons of Feanor. It's just common sense.

"I don't think they talk like that in Middle-earth," Tirsaer commented, not removing his eyes from the Sue. "And I really doubt they talk like that in Valinor."

"Your doubt is most likely warranted. Language is a critical and crucial detail of characterization, displayed by the relative formality of the inhabitants of Arda." Ryni frowned. "Such necessary aspects may not be excluded and omitted simply for convenience."

"At least she knows how stupid she is, I guess." Tirsaer sighed and added "stupidity" to the list.

As the Sue continued to speak, a Generic Forest sprang up around them, complete with cheerfully chirping songbirds and unlikely neat undergrowth. The Sue began to walk through the trees, still babbling about how she lived alone in the woods due to her natural solitary tendencies. The agents followed, close behind, listening to the monologue and taking charges.

So, anyway, I was living up north, when I received news that a family from Tirion had been exiled for some reason and were living nearby to me. When I say "received news" I mean that an animal told me. I can speak to animals, see. Should I have mentioned that?

"Talking... to... animals," Tirsaer wrote, then paused. "Wait. Talking to animals? Isn't that a rather, um, un-Elven talent?"

"Indeed. The only communication with animals to be found in Arda is by those creatures, such as the Great Eagles, who possess their own intelligence and intellect." Ryni located her copy of the ignobly nicknamed Silm and flipped to the indices. "Huan hound of Celegorm was known to have spoken thrice within his lifespan, of course, but he was an admittedly unusual case."

"Yeah. Charge, then?"

"Have you not already recorded it down?"

He waved the notebook at her. "Yes, but should I add it again? It's a pretty bad violation, after all."

Ryni sighed. "If it pleases you to do so."

A shout rang out through the forest, attracting the Sue's attention, and the agents returned to the story.

"You stupid freakin' horse! What the heck was THAT? Are you trying to kill me or something? I oughta…" Whoever it was lapsed into swearing.

"That doesn't sound very Elf-y," Tirsaer observed.

"Have we not agreed that the manner of speech is not reminiscent of the Eldar?"


The Sue, and with her the agents, came within sight of the newcomers: a horse and a person yelling at said horse. The Sue pranced up to them and asked the young chap why he was swearing.

He turned around, and my breath caught in my throat. This guy was absolutely gorgeous. He had pale skin, fine, elegant features, and brilliant amber eyes that seemed to glow in the dim forest light. Oh, and he had amazing hair. I'd thought at first that it was plain dark brown, but on closer look it had some reddish highlights and nearly reached his waist. All in all, he was WAY hot.

For a moment, the agents couldn't find the words. Then Tirsaer cleared his throat.

"Uh, Ryni, this is a Maglor!Sue, right?"


"So, would that be Maglor, by any chance?"

"Most likely, aye."

"... Oh." Tirsaer squinted at the second Son of Fëanor, notorious Kinslayer and the last of the Fëanorians. "Glaurung."

"I am forced to concur." Ryni glared. "The Noldor are known to be gray-eyed and dark-haired, with a certain few exceptions. Maglor was not known to be one of them."

The Sue chatted with Maglor for a bit, and then it was revealed that he couldn't get his horse to obey him. The Sue stepped forward to talk to the horse.

"I'm not going to lecture me, but my friend over there claims that you hate him and that he doesn't know why. DO you hate him? And if so, why? He seems like a good sort to me."

"Oh, of course he seems like a good sort to you. PEOPLE love him, for some reason. Personally, I can't stand him."


"He thinks he's better than me."

"Of course. He's a Son of Fëanor." Tirsaer crossed his arms. "The Fëanorians are better than everyone."

"You seemed inclined to a different opinion last we ventured from the solitary confines of Headquarters," Ryni drawled. "Surely you recall and remember numerous outcries and wailings over the defamation of a certain tragic heroine?"

"Do not bring Tomoe into this." Tirsaer narrowed his eyes at his partner. "Just don't. She's too tormented and kind and dead to bring into this."

"To speak quite honestly," Ryni mused, "I could find it within me to believe that an interaction between the Spirit of Fire and your Lust Object could be a subject of much interest. The one who would sacrifice anything and the one who did sacrifice everything, the one who died laughing and the one who died smiling, the one of infinite rage and the one of infinite forgiveness—could not the contrast and similarities between the two make for an intriguing relation?"

A pause. "Ryni," Tirsaer finally said, "please tell me you did not just suggest pairing Fëanor and Tomoe."

"I shall not deceive your mind, if such is your wish," Ryni assured him. "No matter the innate wonder of such a 'ship."

"I'm sorry, but that's just wrong. Completely and utterly disturbing." Tirsaer pointedly turned back to the fic. "And I am ignoring it."

"Well, you can't really hold that against him. Lots of people think they're better than animals."

"Well, he certainly isn't better than ME. I come from a very good family. My mother was Nahar's sister!"

At this, Tirsaer looked at Ryni. "We're saving the horse."

"Oh?" Ryni raised her eyebrows.

"From Nahar's stock, he said. As in Nahar, Oromë's horse. Uncanon or not, we are not killing it." He turned back to hear the next part of the exchange.

"Would you like me to tell him that?"

"Yes, I'd appreciate that very much. You're a good girl, Miss…what's your name?"


"A pleasure. I'm Delroch."

"'Sides, no normal horse is that eloquent," Tirsaer went on. "Probably has something to do with being related to a Vala's mount. Poor judge of character, obviously, 'cause he likes the Sue, but still. Some basic PPC training will fix that."

Next to him, Ryni frowned, brow wrinkling as she puzzled something out. "Horror-horse?" she eventually managed. "Maglor Fëanorion, Makalaurë Nelyafinwë, rides upon a mount given the Sindarin name of Horror-horse?"

"We can always change it, I suppose." He made a note.

"I find the blatant thievery of her own name distasteful as well," Ryni added. "It reeks of unoriginality."

By now the Sue had explained the problem to Maglor and discovered his father's notoriety. Being a Sue, she proceeded to brush off the streak of violence running through his family, which only served to prove her lack of intelligence. At the same time, an aspect of her appearance was described. A sudden fall of red hair emerged from the Sue's foam head, clashing horribly with the yellow of the rest of the body.

"Red hair?" Tirsaer sighed. "Way to rip off Nerdanel, there."

After some more talking, during which the Sue revealed that she was one of the original Quendi to awaken, the horse became impatient and asked to leave.

"Okay, we can go, Delroch," said Maglor. "Nice talking to you, Anduril."

"Yeah. Same here."

Maglor mounted Delroch and grinned at me before riding off. "Peace out!"

"'Peace out'. Um, yeah." Tirsaer groaned. "It's not that hard to get the language right."

"Beware the scene change," Ryni called.

The words were no sooner out of her mouth than the world swirled around them, reforming into an almost identical stretch of forest. Once again, Maglor stood talking to the Sue, while Delroch the horse looked on. Predictably, the topic of the Fëanorians came up.

"So," I said, sitting down on a nearby stump. "Tell me about your brothers."

"Um, okay," said Maglor, sitting next to me. "Well, first of all, there's Maedhros, who's three years older than me and has reddish-brown hair like our mom. He's pretty cool, except that he's way impulsive and hardly ever thinks. Then there's Celegorm, who's three years younger than me and has blonde hair like Grandpa. He's a pain in the butt because he thinks he's hot as heck. Caranthir is two years younger than Celegorm and looks exactly like Dad, and he's one of those people who basically think that the world sucks and therefore they can be as much of a jerk as they like to everyone."

"Something seems more than slightly off in regards to the age differences," Ryni observed. By this point she had taken out her bundle of thread and was currently knotting a series of bright twists around her fingers.

"I'd say so!" Tirsaer scowled and noted down the charge, while Maglor replied to the Sue's suggestion that Caranthir was a pessimist.

Maglor shrugged. "You could call it that. We mostly prefer the term 'self-centered brat.' Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah. Curufin is two years younger than Caranthir and both looks and acts exactly like Dad, meaning that he's, like, a mechanical genius and thinks he's better than everyone because of it. Then there's Amrod and Amras, the twins, who are four years younger than Curufin. They pretty much look like Mom, too. It's hard for most people to tell them apart at first, but after a while it's pretty obvious which one is which."

"Why is that?"

"Amras always talks in questions and Amrod doesn't," Maglor explained. "I have no idea why, but everything that boy says comes out as a question, like this? It's, like, really annoying sometimes? But it makes it easy for us to tell them apart?"

"Stop turning the craziest Elves in the history of Arda into teenage boys!" Tirsaer wailed.

"Our presence would not be required under such circumstances," Ryni reminded him as the topic moved to Fëanor himself.

"He's…pretty much indescribable," said Maglor. "Sometimes he's really cool, and then sometimes he loses his temper and is a total jerk. He totally hates both my half-uncles for no good reason, and it's always really ticked him off that Maedhros likes to hang out with our cousin Fingon." He sighed. "Of course, it's been tons worse since he made the Silmarils."

"What are the Silmarils?" I asked.

"How do you not know about the Silmarils?" Tirsaer demanded. "Even if she lives by herself, there's no way she couldn't know about them! They're just that famous!"

"I could name more than you should expect who would care not about those shining stones, nor about their creator," Ryni commented.

"They don't count. She lives on Arda during the First Age, she should know about the Silmarils."

"Gods, I wish every day that I had to ask that question. They're these three jewels that contain the light of the Two Trees or something like that. I don't really care about them— I mean, they're okay and all, but they're just jewels. Everyone else thinks they're awesome, though. I remember when Dad first made them, and I didn't totally freak out like everyone else did, and later I overheard Dad saying to Maedhros that there was something wrong with me. He didn't think I heard, but I have freakishly good hearing." Maglor laughed bitterly and looked away.

"What?" Tirsaer exploded. "No. Just no. Maglor was just as obsessed as any of them. Sure, he may have been a little worn down by the end, but he still took the Silmarils, didn't he? And he took the Oath! Just 'cause he plays the harp and survives at the end doesn't mean you can erase all the things that make him Fëanorian!"

"And doubt arise in the face of claims over parental disgust," Ryni added. "What of pride in talent, love of skill?"

After hearing Maglor's confession, the Sue went on to insult his father. Maglor, of course, thanked her in a display of hideous OOCness. Finally, at the urging of Delroch the horror-horse, they left.

"See? I told you he's savable!" Tirsaer beamed.

Ryni, meanwhile, was staring at the Words.

As soon as he left I knew that I loved him.

"I find such claims unlikely." Ryni scowled, tugging at a strand of crimson thread winding between her fingers. "A mere two meetings cannot be an indication of everlasting love."

"She never said everlasting," Tirsaer pointed out. "Just, y'know, general love. Could be sisterly, for all we know."

"I find such claims doubtful," Ryni snorted. "This petty semblance of plot is aiming to romantic levels, as well you can see."

"Never hurts to hope." Tirsaer shrugged.

A scene change deposited them by the Sue's home, where the Sue herself stared into a pool of water in an attempt to gauge her appearance. Her full description was finally delivered, and the foam crash dummy obligingly shifted to accommodate the changes.

I was fairly sure that I wasn't TOO plain— I have thick, wavy hair, which was quite nice if it was red, bluish-green eyes, and a few freckles on my nose. Later I realized that my looks were quite unusual for an Elf, but at the time I had no idea.

"Even she's aware she looks odd," Tirsaer moaned. "This is beyond ridiculous."

The Sue didn't move for an hour, content to watch her own reflection. After the first ten minutes, Tirsaer gave up and snapped on his earphones, while Ryni finished up with her thread. After examining the result, a red-and-purple bracelet, she started another one.

Eventually the Sue stirred, only to ask a nearby fox to evaluate her beauty. The fox, of course, insisted she looked beautiful, to neither of the agents' surprise.

"Can I kill it?" Tirsaer asked his partner hopefully. "It's pretty much a Cute Animal Friend."

Ryni sighed. "Aye, Tirsaer, I shall not prevent such actions. You would do well to wait, however, as yonder vixen does reappear later on."

"Okay, then." Tirsaer pulled out the remote activator. "Nothing happens for three days. Portal."

"Aye, such would be best."

They arrived in time to see the Sue ask Maglor what he thought of her appearance. He, of course, thought she was quite pretty, much to the dismay of the agents. Finally he left, and the agents sighed in relief.

"I don't think I can take much more this," Tirsaer complained. "A Fëanorian, acting sweet and fluffy? It's just wrong."

"Can we be completely sure that the aforementioned Fëanorian is in fact the one he claims to be?" Ryni returned.

"What do you mean?" Tirsaer frowned. "This isn't going to mean more work, is it?"

"I fear you supposition may be correct." Ryni held up a thread-covered hand, ticking off the points on her fingers as they were listed. "He speaks not as one of the Eldar, his speech informal and filled with the slang of the so-called 'Real World.' He looks not like a Noldo, lacking the raven-dark hair and storm-gray eyes characteristic of the Deep Elves. And he acts not like a Fëanorian, cringing away from the insanity and obsessive tendencies that should be his birthright."

"Wait, wait, slow down." Tirsaer rubbed his forehead. "First of all, did you just use the terms 'raven-dark' and 'storm-gray'? And secondly, are you trying to say that this is a character replacement?"

"Aye, Tirsaer, on both accounts." Ryni scowled, adding another loop to the beginnings of the bracelet wound about her wrist.

"Ew. Purple is bad, Ryni." Tirsaer shuddered. "Would it kill you to use normal, boring descriptions like everyone else?"

"I do not understand."

"... Right." Tirsaer rolled his eyes. "Anyway, The Silm is more of a summary than anything. It reads like a really poetic textbook."

"Understanding of the point of your complaints would be appreciated."

"Do we have any real proof that Maglor wasn't a whiny little brat in canon?" Tirsaer asked. "We know he was a singer. We know he spared Elrond. We know he wanted to let the Silmarils go, at the end. And we know that he was the only Fëanorian to survive the whole fiasco. We don't know for certain that he wasn't a four-foot obese mad scientist with a fondness for tie-dyed underwear. It's unlikely, but still possible."

Ryni shook her head. "Close examination of the canon provides for evidence. The given actions suggest a proud, dangerous being, willing to hold honor and courage over reason. Holding to the Oath for those long centuries, surviving when the others of his bloodline are but dust—"

"Ashes, actually. At least Fëanor, anyway," Tirsaer interjected.

"—the simple fact that he was the second son of Fëanor—by these facts we may presume a strong, noble creature, not this whimpering annoyance presented. Still you have not answered the question of language inaccuracies."

"Oh, that's easy. No one in The Silm speaks English, so we already know it's a translation. Further translation into modern English really isn't a stretch. Are you sure he's a replacement?" Tirsaer whined. "I really don't want to deal with finding the real Maglor and all."

"We shall take a reading, to be absolutely certain," Ryni allowed, "but there is a high likelihood that we shall need to remove the one calling himself Maglor."

"Remove? You mean kill?" Tirsaer's eyes widened, and he shook his head frantically. "Oh, no. Can't do that."

"And why not?" Ryni snapped. "He surely impedes the restoration of canonical purity."

"Because he's a Son of Fëanor, that's why!" Tirsaer made a gesture of pure frustration. "I don't care if he's a fake, we Do Not Kill Fëanorians. Under any circumstances."

"I find your limitations unreasonable." Ryni crossed her arms.

"They're Fëanorians, okay? Untouchable. They're like the epitome of crazy elfyness, proof that Tolkien didn't write in black and white, and they're... Fëanorian. End of story." Tirsaer matched Ryni's glare with on of his own. "We can recruit him, we can neuralyze him and drop him in a high school—Charter knows he'd fit right in—but we are not killing him. And that is final."

Ryni blinked. And then she smiled. "Of course, dear partner. We shall do as you suggest and recruit." She waved towards the Remote activator Tirsaer still held. "Now shall we portal to nine days from this time, to avoid more pointless waiting."

"Right." Tirsaer opened a portal and waited for Ryni to pass through. Then he thanked every vaguely deity-like object he could come up with for the fact that he was still in possession of a head and followed.

The first thing he saw was the Sue and Maglor kissing. It wasn't a pretty sight.

Ryni took the moment to raise the CAD and take a reading. A [bip], and then she showed the screen to Tirsaer.

[Maglor Feanorian. Elf male. Non-canon. Character replacement.]

"Glaurung it. You were right." Tirsaer slumped and fished in his pocket for a candy bar. "We'll pick him up right after we kill the Sue, then." Locating a chocolate-and-peanut-butter bar, covered in obscenely bright foil, he tore open the wrapping and offered half of the sticky mess to Ryni.

Accepting the gooey substance with two delicate fingers and a wry grimace, Ryni shrugged and turned back to the Words. "I still believe a quick, merciful kill would be the better fate, but I will abide by your judgment." She bit into the candy, demolishing it in a few quick bites.

"Good. Scene change coming up."

The world folded inwards as the chapter changed, and then the agents were standing before a very similar scene. As a matter of fact, it looked like all the previous scenes—the Sue talking to Maglor in the woods.

"You should come over for dinner tomorrow night," said Maglor. It had now been a month since we'd become a "couple," of sorts, and apparently Maglor had gotten sick of sitting around in a forest talking.

"Taking her to meet Fëanor?" Tirsaer snorted. "Guess not-Maglor doesn't like her as much as she thinks."

"Supposedly her wiles and charms will ensnare the most fierce of the Noldor, rendering him but another slave to her desire," Ryni sighed. "Still, we may dream and hope."

"Don't mind if I do."

Not-Maglor left the Sue to worry, and the agents portaled ahead to the next day. They followed from a distance as not-Maglor and the Sue rode to Formenos, which was not only oddly close by but in a state of extreme disrepair.

"That doesn't seem right," Tirsaer remarked. "This is Fëanor we're talking about. I'd think he'd be too proud to let his home get in such a state, and even if he would, his father certainly wouldn't."

Now not-Maglor ushered the Sue inside, where she spent a paragraph marveling over the use of candles.

I stopped staring around and looked back at the space in front of me. A fierce-looking guy with straight black hair and catlike amber eyes glared at Maglor and I.

"Oh, hey, Dad," said Maglor. "This is my girlfriend, Anduril. Anduril, this is my dad, Feanor."

So this was Maglor's infamous dad? Hmm, he didn't look so evil. Intimidating, maybe, but not evil.

"Oooh, bad choice." Tirsaer grinned unpleasantly. "No, he's not evil, as such, but you'll regret brushing him aside like that."

"The Sue regrets nothing," Ryni muttered as the other Fëanorians began to appear.

"HOLD IT!" yelled another voice. A tall, copper-haired guy who looked a little older than Maglor vaulted over the back of the couch and landed in front of us. "YOU have a GIRLFRIEND? And when exactly did THIS happen?"

Ah, this must be Maedhros. Maglor had told me that his inability to get a girlfriend was the bane of his older brother's life.

"Maedhros has no need for a female lover," Ryni announced. "His cousin Fingon serves well enough."

Tirsaer shuddered. "I'll just pretend you didn't say that." He made a note. "Is it just me, or is Maedhros just a little, uh, OOC?"

"All characters unfortunate enough to appear in this travesty are more than slightly out of character, Tirsaer."

Gradually, the rest of the family appeared, and predictably enough they gave the Sue their full approval. Evan Huan liked her, much to the agents' disgust. Soon they sat down to dinner, although no food was described.

Soon the agents grew bored of watching the OOC Fëanorians and portaled ahead. As they watched, not-Maglor rode up to the Sue's house and embraced her, babbling thanks that she was safe.

"Not for long, she won't be!" Tirsaer growled, listening as not-Maglor explained about the theft of the Silmarils and the death of Finwë.

"I desire to understand why Maglor would refer to Melkor. As a Son of Fëanor, would he not instead speak of Morgoth?" Ryni asked.

"I'd think so." He made a note. "Anyway, why would Morgoth care about the Sue? He'd probably never even heard of her."

After not-Maglor left, the Sue spoke to her CAF before the world sped forward to the next day. The Sue set off for Formenos, but the agents lingered behind.

"Allow me." Ryni reached into Maple the CAF's burrow, and a few moments later, pulled out a squirming fox by the tail.

"Uh, Ryni, that really wasn't very smart." Tirsaer eyed the bleeding scratches now covering his partner's arms.

"Will you lecture me on petty fears or finish what you set out to do?" Ryni snapped, holding out the creature as it bit and slashed at her skin.

With a shrug, Tirsaer unhooked the odd blade from his belt and neatly decapitated the struggling fox, spraying glittery blood over Ryni's shirt. A foul, syrupy stench rose up from the remains, and Tirsaer winced at the mess.

"Ick, gross." Tirsaer wiped the blade off on a nearby patch of grass, then fumbled for the remote activator. "You think Garra'll eat this?"

"Aye, Tirsaer. With minimal complaint and argument, I would venture." As a portal leading back to the RC opened, Ryni tossed the body through. "Now we must hurry after our targeted Sue, so that we shall be close for the kill." She started through the trees.

"Uh, wait, Ryni. She sort of went the other way." Tirsaer coughed and pointed in the opposite direction, slightly embarrassed.

"If you insist." Without missing her stride, Ryni turned and headed in the direction he pointed.

"Yes, I do."

They arrived at Formenos just in time to hear the Sue announce her intention to go with the Fëanorians to Tirion.

"Yes!" whooped Celegorm, punching the air. When we all stared at him, he shrugged. "What? I like the girl. She's funny. And Huan agrees."

"Celegorm? But he's, y'know, slimy." Tirsaer shuddered. "Why would anyone want Celegorm's approval?"

"You would do well to keep your undesired opinions inside your own mind," Ryni reproved. "Celegorm, for all his flaws, was a Fëanorian, and they were a noble line."

"Noble, sure," Tirsaer agreed. "But come on. His obsession for Lúthien? Creepy."

"Continuation of this line of thought is unnecessary. Return to our duty, and let the canonical characters be." Ryni shot him a scowl and turned back to the scene.

"Great, now I'm taking orders from a dog," muttered Maedhros. "Okay, everyone, we may as well pack up. Get to it, dudes!"

Before long the scene changed, and the agents found themselves outside Tirion, watching as the Fëanorians rode into the city. They hurried to catch up, an easy enough task due to the largely empty streets, and soon found themselves in front of a generic house. According to the Word, Maglor was dropping the Sue off with his mother for the time being.

Nerdanel, as it turned out, was a very friendly copper-haired lady with green eyes and a strong Northeastern accent.

"Sure and ye've got a girlfriend!" she cried when Maglor introduced me. "I always did know ye'd find yerself a nice young lady eventually. Do come in, Anduril me dear. Are ye sure that ye can't stay for a while, Maglor?"


"I find it beyond doubtful that such an accent would arise in she called Nerdanel," Ryni said. "Not based upon the other examples shown of the Elven speech."


"You have said that before, I seem to recall."

"It deserves repeating. What?"

Sadly enough, Nerdanel liked the Sue. That was predictable enough, but it didn't stop the agents from complaining as they listened to her speak.

"Oh, and yer a very polite girl, I must say. Maglor did be making a good choice in ye. Of course, he always was the most sensible of me sons. I get so worried about his brothers, though…they're as impulsive as their father." She frowned when she mentioned Feanor— I got the idea that she didn't really approve of him.

"She married him, didn't she?" Tirsaer protested. "And had seven kids. That means they got pretty close, if you know what I mean, at least seven times."

"Rather say six," Ryni corrected, "as Amrod and Amras were twins. Only one act of copulation was needed for the conception of both."

"Whatever. Anyway, the proper term isn't that she disapproved of him, but that she disapproved of his actions. Elves marry for love only, after all! If you're saying that she's not as fond of him anymore, then say that. I could see that happening. But don't just throw it out there as if them drifting apart isn't that big a deal!"

By the end of his speech, Tirsaer was almost shouting, and the two characters had turned to look at him curiously. Muttering an apology, Ryni grabbed his arm and steered him out of the house, the conversation starting up behind them as they left.

Outside, Tirion had begun to return to its canonical glory. Tirsaer, of course, was in far too much distress to appreciate this, and Ryni gently pushed him down to sit on the front stoop of the house.

"This would almost be better if the prose was worse," he moaned. "At least then I could call troll or say she'd heard some of the story from bad LotR fics and decided to writ her own. But she's getting the names and stuff right, so she's obviously read The Silm. It's disgusting!"

"Calm yourself," Ryni advised. "This fic's obscenity is the exact reason we must destroy it. In time, we shall grant yonder Sue a fitting death, and the world shall be pure once more."

"But not for very long!" Tirsaer buried his head in his hands. "Nothing we do is ever enough. We'll get home, and then there'll be a... a Kaoru!Sue or something to deal with. And we'll finish that off, and we'll get some horrible smut to exorcise. It never ends!"

Ryni crouched down to look her partner in the eyes. "No, Tirsaer. There is no such thing as enough. To speak the truth, this is a mercy. A final end would delete the focus, the purpose from life, and without purpose we are nothing so much as used breath and fading words. So much better that our trials remain endless, and thus our existence is guaranteed a continuation."

Tirsaer stared from between his fingers. "You're completely insane, did you know that?"

"Aye, Tirsaer. Truth be known, similar sentiments have been conveyed to me from the day I was born to the moment of my own self-destruction, and even after. But I served my Lord to gain validation of my life, and I continue to serve the Flowers for a reason almost identical." Her eyes gleamed with fervor as she spoke.

"Ryni...." Tirsaer shook his head and straightened. "Did that make sense in Ryniland?"

"Oh, most certainly." She grasped his hands and pulled him to his feet. "Does the Duty wear so much, then? Perhaps it is time to remind you of the wonders our obligation may bring to us."

"Wonders?" He grinned, weakly. "That sounds ominous."

"Let us take this moment of peace to explore this world of beauty in which we have found ourselves," Ryni suggested. "There is yet time before the Words resume their relentless flow, so perhaps we should wander these shining streets until then."

"Sounds good to me. But I have a better idea." Tirsaer scanned the Words. "Delroch the Horror-horse never appears in the fic again. Why don't we find him and recruit while we have time?"

"A search, then. Let us follow the corruption of the story to our newest recruit!"

Finding Delroch was a surprisingly easy task. Tirion was by now mostly restored to its gleaming white glory, all crystal and shining stone and golden streets, heartbreakingly beautiful even in this dark time after the destruction of the Trees. Where the OOC Fëanorians had ridden, however, muddy cobblestones and bright sunlight broke through the ethereal landscape, taking the shape of the Sue's twisted perception of Valinor.

They found him at the end of the trail, a white horse standing amongst pale equine reflections outside a large building. He looked somewhat confused, flicking his ears and stamping his feet as he waited.

"Uh, Delroch?" Tirsaer waved at the horse, smiling hopefully. "That's you, right?"

"Of course." Delroch snorted. "Who are you?"

"I'm Agent Tirsaer, and this is Agent Ryni." He gestured at his partner, who stood off to the side, observing their surroundings with an air of detached interest. "Mind if we talk a bit?"

"Certainly. How can I help you?" The horse flicked his tail idly, still seeming somewhat nervous.

For a moment Tirsaer paused, unsure of how to word the situation. "Have you noticed anything odd recently?"

"Now that you mention it, I have. The sons of Fëanor have been acting rather strange, haven't they?" Delroch looked as puzzled as possible for a non-anthropomorphic horse.

"Yes, they have." Tirsaer nodded agreement. "It's because of Maglor's new girlfriend."

"Anduril?" If anything, Delroch looked more bewildered. "What do you mean? She's a nice girl."

"She is not," Ryni cut in. "She is a warped, terrible creation of lust and envy, venturing where she by all rights should not tread."

Delroch blinked. "That sounds a little extreme."

"It's not, really. Ryni just phrased it a little weirdly." He drew in a deep breath. "Okay, this might sound a little weird, but the thing you call Anduril is actually an evil being from another world. She only looks normal to throw you off your guard."

"... Oh." Delroch considered this. "Do you need me to get you a doctor?"

"I'm serious!" Tirsaer waved his arms in the air, frustrated. "We've been sent by a secret organization to kill her before she destroys the world!"

Delroch backed up a few steps. "Of course you have been. If you'll excuse me, I'm sure there's somewhere I have to be—"

"Look!" Tirsaer fumbled with the remote activator, and after a moment a glowing portal opened in the air. "See? I was telling the truth."

After a moment, Delroch stepped forward. "There is a hole in the air."

"Yep!" Tirsaer beamed. "Now do you believe me?"

"I'll think about it." Delroch didn't look fully convinced. "Anyway, what does this have to do with me?"

The portal snapped shut. "We'd like to recruit you," Tirsaer said. "You seem pretty smart, and we could always use more help. What do you think?"

"Recruit me?" His ears flattened. "What do you mean?"

"There's nothing left for you here," Tirsaer explained. "As things are going, you'll randomly die, likely during a war, within a few years. But if you go back with us, you might live longer, and won't have to deal with starvation and stuff."

"You aren't very convincing," Delroch observed.

"You could help me, y'know," Tirsaer said to Ryni.

With a sigh, Ryni stepped closer to the horse. "Unless you deem to accept my kind partner's generous offer, we will be forced to dispose of you on charges of aiding the Mary Sue."

"What? Okay, okay!" Delroch cringed away. "I'll go!"

"That wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but whatever." Another portal opened. "Just step through here, please...."

An explanation or two later to the director of the Cute Animal Friends Adoption Agency, the agents started back to the Sue and the story. Unable to bring themselves to hurry, they arrived in time to see the Sue angst about not-Maglor leaving with his father.

"But I thought you said that you didn't care about the Silmarils!" I said, too stunned to say anything intelligent.

Maglor sighed and ran a hand through his beautiful hair. "I DON'T, Anduril. That's not why I swore the Oath. I swore it because…well, you know how protective I am of my brothers. They'll need me."

"Okay, more angst ahead." Tirsaer scanned the Words. "He leaves in a week, so why don't we just portal to there?"

"I am most certainly willing."

In a moment, they found themselves watching an overly sappy parting.

"Hey, Anduril?"


"Next time we see each other…do you want to get married?"

I looked at him in shock. "You mean it?"

"Sure thing.'

"Okay, then. I will." Blinking back tears, I hugged him even harder. "I'll love you forever, Maglor."

"I hope so, Anduril," he said heavily. "I hope so." We kissed, and by the time we were finished the five minutes were up.

"Ew!" Tirsaer hurriedly looked away. "Sue make-outs are bad!"

"Do not be so weak of will," Ryni scoffed. "Surely you have seen worse over the course of your career?"

"Doesn't mean it gets any better," Tirsaer grumbled, scribbling down charges as the Sue cried over parting from not-Maglor.

At this point, a blurring of scenery indicated the passage of time—months, according to the Words. The Sue walked through the streets, closely followed by the agents, looking tragic and tormented by all the anti-Fëanor comments directed at her.

"Y'know, I don't think the Eldar are really the sort to deal in petty gossip," Tirsaer commented. "And it looks like we have a minor character to kill coming up."

"Would you protest and argue if I were to claim this kill for my own hands?" Ryni asked.

"Go ahead."

Marvana was one of those girls who have everything— money, friends, charisma, and good looks. She had wavy black hair, long-lashed blue eyes, and the tall, slim figure that was so stylish then— practically my opposite. I didn't really know her, but we'd spoken a couple times, and I got the feeling that she hated me (rumor had it that she'd had a bit of a thing for Maglor back in the old days). I ran into her at the market twelve years after the Exile.

Some less-than-wonderful conversation followed, in which the new character offered false sympathy to the Sue over her boyfriend's separation. The Sue replied with a cutting dismissal that left Marvana speechless, and she stomped away in fury.

The agents followed her, and as she turned down a convenient alley Tirsaer stepped forward. "Excuse me, miss?"

Marvana turned around. "What do you want?"

Tirsaer grinned cheerfully. "Marvana, you are charged with aiding and abetting a Mary Sue. Your punishment is death."

"I'm sure I have no idea what you are talking about, darling." Marvana sniffed, her nose in the air.

At this point Ryni's garrote came down over her head, cutting across her throat in a swift motion that jerked her backwards. The bit-character gasped, choking, and clawed at her throat, eyes rolling in their sockets. Ryni merely tightened the pressure, and slowly the character went limp.

Lowering the dead character to the ground, Ryni nodded at Tirsaer. "A portal, if you will, that leads into the depths of Mount Doom would be most useful."

"Sure." Tirsaer fiddled with the remote activator for a moment, and then the character disappeared into a portal that had opened beneath her. With that, the agents hurried of to find their main target.

Some more blurring later, Idril and Tuor came to visit. They told Nerdanel and the Sue about the death of most of the Fëanorians, but somehow couldn't remember how Thingol had obtained a Silmaril.

Tirsaer gaped. "What? How? The story of Beren and Lúthien isn't exactly obscure!"

A blurring of twenty-six years, and the Sue was being told of the final Silmaril. While the characters chatted, Tirsaer abruptly gasped and clutched his stomach.

"Ow," he said, wincing. "I don't feel great."

"Simultaneous temporal compression and expansion," Ryni examined, looking vaguely ill herself. "While these terrible events are glossed over as so much trash, they are also confined to a meager few decades that do not cover the true scope of time."

"Whatever. It hurts." Tirsaer swallowed. "Good thing it's almost over."

Soon the Sue learned that not-Maglor had disappeared after taking the final Silmaril. Typically, she left the grieving Nerdanel to look for him.

"I'm glad she's finally out of Nerdanel's hair," Tirsaer muttered. "Portal to the final scene!"

So there I was, wandering along the beach, being pessimistic, when I heard someone singing. Whoever it was, they were behind a sand dune, and they had the most beautiful voice I'd ever heard…it was almost familiar. Quickly, I ran over to see who it was, or to find out if I was imagining things.

I wasn't imagining things. There was someone sitting by the beach at the bottom of the dune, someone dressed completely in black, with wavy, dark auburn hair. Silently, I slid down the side of the dune to get a closer look.

Oh. My. Gosh.

It was Maglor.

The reunion was fairly standard, full of kissing and declarations of love. Tirsaer nodded to Ryni, and they moved into position as the final breach of canon occurred.

"That doesn't matter, I don't think." I stood up and pulled him to his feet. "I, Anduril daughter of no one, with Iluvatar as my witness, take you, Maglor son of Feanor, to be my husband, to whom I will be faithful for the rest of eternity." Finishing, I tossed my hair and nodded to Maglor. "Now, you say the same thing, except switch the names."

Fortunately for not-Maglor, a book came flying over a nearby sand dune to whack the Sue in the head. Without a word, she toppled unconscious to the ground.

"Anduril!" Not-Maglor scrambled to help the Sue, only to find himself confronted by a short, scowling Noldo.

"Do not move," she advised. "We do not will your own death by our hands, but will not hesitate should you struggle."

Another Noldo crouched by the fallen Sue, retrieving the book that downed her. "Elven marriage doesn't work like that!" he told the unconscious body. "If you wanted to marry him, you should have just had sex. That's how the Eldar marry, after all. Sure, there's some stuff about exchanging silver rings to signify betrothal, but that's just a tradition to let the families know." He brandished a hardcover book. "All here in Morgoth's Ring."

"What's going on?" not-Maglor asked, bewildered. "Who are you?"

"Do us a favor and shut up." Tirsaer tossed the notebook and remote activator to Ryni and hoisted the Sue over his shoulder. "About execution—mind portaling to Angband pre-Beren? I think there's a certain wolf there who wouldn't mind meeting our friend."

Ryni nodded approval. "Carcharoth it shall be, then."

"Really, what's happening?" Not-Maglor's gaze flicked between the two agents. "What're you doing with An—gyahhh!"

A portal opened, beyond which could be seen the dark gates of Angband. Tirsaer, carrying the Sue, entered, and Ryni pulled not-Maglor through by the wrist.

Guarding the gates was a giant wolf, with sharp gleaming teeth and insane eyes. It snarled as they approached, strings of drool falling from its maw, and not-Maglor whimpered at the sight.

"Hey, this place is dangerous!" he protested, trying in vain to pull away from Ryni.

"We know." Tirsaer dropped the Sue to the ground, bent over, and delivered a stinging blow to the face. A few slaps later she stirred, eyes fluttering open, and he turned to Ryni. "Go ahead and read the charges."

"With untold pleasure." She glanced down at the notebook and cleared her throat.

"Anduril, known in truth as Mary Sue, you are accused with and charged of the ruination and destruction of an agent's beloved novel, a severe lack of research, overwhelming inanity, anachronistic and colloquial patterns of speech, the use of customs unknown to the Eldar, possession of animalistic communication unknown to the Eldar, characters that refuse to follow the known modes of behavior among the Eldar, ignoring genetics in favor of a pleasant appearance, neglect of the Fëanorian authority and charisma, appropriating the name of a truly noble sword, granting a Noldo's mount a Sindarin name, dismissing the familial similarity between Maglor and his father, disregard of the rate at which the Eldar age, willful ignorance in an attempt to insert exposition, the fraying of regard between Fëanor and his son, substitution of a canonical character by a pathetic impostor, the use of anachronistic and colloquial units of time, underestimation of the sheer overwhelming Fëanorian pride, the weakening of typical paranoia and suspicion that should be expected, failure to comprehend the significance of names, the grafting on of a personality and history quite unlikely to belong to the beloved spouse of Fëanor, denial of love in relation to the marriage of Fëanor and Nerdanel, gratuitous and unnecessary angst brought about by out-of-character Eldar, ignorance of the most stunning and epic of romances, utter violation of Eldar marriage traditions, and causing profound irritation to the Protectors of the Plot Continuum."

Tirsaer listened with satisfaction, then turned back to the Sue. "So, Mary Sue, how do you plead?"

Struggling to her feet, the Sue took a moment to respond. "I don't know what you mean! My name's not Mary Sue, it's—"

She looked behind her, saw the wolf, and screamed. And Carcharoth called Anfauglir, Morgoth's answer to Huan, pounced.

"No!" Not-Maglor went to move forward, only to find himself pulled back by the two agents.

"Don't move!" Tirsaer hissed in his ear. "Or you'll be next!"

Not-Maglor could only nod dumbly as Carcharoth ripped out the Sue's throat, carrying her to the ground before starting on the rest. It was at this point that the body converted back into its original crash-dummy form.

"What?" not-Maglor gasped.

"... Oops." Tirsaer chuckled nervously and snatched the remote activator from his partner. "Forgot about that."

Snarling deep in its chest, the wolf started towards the remaining beings. As it left behind the dummy, however, a portal opened beneath the remains of the dummy, and a second portal opened behind the agents.

"Hurry!" They pulled not-Maglor with them through the portal, which snapped shut only moments before Carcharoth sprung.

"DoSAT will be furious." Tirsaer sighed, looking around. They were back in the forest were they had begun, but now the canon was creeping back. The bright sunlight disappeared, replaced by the true radiance of the Trees, and the forest began to take on a more realistic air. "Ah, well."

Beside him, not-Maglor shivered. "Who—who are you? What happened to Anduril? And—and why did you kill her?"

"For the moment, silence," Ryni advised. "We must search for the true Maglor, who is most likely lost among these trees."

"What do you mean? I'm Maglor! I—"

And then they heard it: a soft, gentle melody, filtering through the woods like the wind. It was a simple, haunting tune, of the sort that lingers in the mind for days, even years, after.

The agents exchanged a glance, then started towards the source. After a moment not-Maglor followed.

Then they saw him: a tall, dark-haired Noldo, seated beneath a tree, idly fingering out notes on a small harp in his lap. His eyes were half-closed, and he leaned forward over the instrument so that his hair partially obscured his face.

"I think we found him," Tirsaer whispered, and Ryni nodded agreement. Not-Maglor glanced between his original and the agents, confused.

"I don't understand."

Tirsaer opened a portal and gestured at it encouragingly. "Just step through here, please, and we'll answer everything...."

* * *

A/N – Wow, I finally finished it! With a new agent and everything, too. For the record, anyone who wants to rename Delroch and adopt him is free to do so.