Disclaimer: After such a long time, I'm not even sure the non-Tolkien characters still belong to me... shall we go see if I can get them to cooperate?


Chapter Five

{Hsst. Wake up.}

{No.} Katie's surly mood at a number of factors deterred her from wanting to do anything even remotely obedient.

{Well, if you don't get up, then-}

Something wet and claw-like grabbed her—Meriweather's, really—face. In an impressive movement of flashing hair, Katie was on her feet and across the small campsite before her brain could register that A) she was still with the Uruk-hai, B) she wasn't tied up, and C) there was a raccoon attached to her head.

Once she stopped moving, however, all those facts jumbled into her senses and Katie attempted to pry Saura'onna from her perch. She held the muddy raccoon at arm's length as she attempted to cope with the situation, find out just what Meriweather was up to, and get her heart rate back under control.

"What are you doing here?" she hissed to the raccoon. "Didn't we leave you back in The Fellowship of the Ring?"

The raccoon gave her what could be considered a mournful look right before clamping its rear paws around Katie's wrist, righting itself, and scampering up to sit on her shoulder.

Without Saura'onna to focus her attention on, Katie's gaze immediately went to the next object in her immediate line of vision: an Uruk-hai foot, which belonged to a particularly impressive specimen that was flopped over on its back, snoring with its mouth wide open. Then the entire memory from the day before came flooding back to her, and she swayed with the head rush. She made a grab for a nearby tree limb to steady herself with, but her hand missed and she fell over gracelessly to land in a different Uruk-hai's lap.

Katie bit down on a terrified squeal and cringed, waiting to be decapitated. Mercifully, the Uruk didn't stir; he merely slung one meaty arm across her, pinning the unfortunate girl in place, and went on snoring like his buddy beside him.

She took a deep breath to calm herself, and then three more when the first didn't seem to help. What was Meriweather's author playing at? She had taken her anger out on Temnaur/Brian, leaving the real Brian free to return to the real world—'their world'—since right now Middle-Earth looked very real to Katie. But that still left Meriweather in the clutches (quite literally, at the moment) of the Uruk-hai that had captured them.


The gruff voice was completely out of place in a small meadow decorated with slumbering monsters. Katie did her best to turn and see who the speaker was, hampered by the heavy arm that had made itself at home on her lap.

"Gimli?" she mouthed in disbelief. The dwarf surveyed Katie's inglorious perch and had the decency not to change expression at her predicament.

"What is the she-devil inside you doing now?" Gimli asked in low voice, his hard gaze sizing up the number of Uruk-hai "guarding" Meriweather.

"She's asleep," Katie replied in a whisper, the sudden realization explaining quite a bit. "It goes something like, 'Torn up with grief at the death of Temnaur, Meriweather cried herself into a senseless sleep, where she dreamed of—'" Katie stopped reciting suddenly and shuddered so violently that the Uruk-hai in whose lap she was seated snorted in annoyance and rolled over, freeing his captive. Well, freeing her in one sense.

Katie rolled clear, which temporarily dislodged her raccoon companion. She sat up just in time to avoid being bear-hugged by another Uruk-hai, who was sitting up to stretch. Nearby, another was repeating those exact motions.

"Lass…" Gimli started to warn, but Katie was too busy trying to get over the horrible dream Meriweather had been having about Aragorn to see that the two Uruk-hai that had been guarding Meriweather were beginning to stir.

"Oh snap," Katie blurted, gaze fastening on the dwarf. "I'm supposed to be over there." She plucked Saura'onna from where the raccoon had resumed her perch on her shoulder and tossed the animal underhand to Gimli. Gimli, to his credit, only fumbled the catch when Saura'onna attempted to climb his beard.

She ran back to the guards and scrabbled to get back under the thin blanket Meriweather was supposed to be sleeping beneath, just in time to receive a boot in the ribs (thankfully, on the side that didn't have a healing dagger wound).

The guard on the left snarled something at her, and Katie's comeback which likely would have had something to do with the Uruk-hai's lineage and an orc lavatory, was stolen from her when Meriweather the Mary Sue 'came awake with a delicate cry and glared at the monster'. To put it in the author's words, at least.

Katie was much too preoccupied with avoiding the next kick from the second Uruk-hai guard, which wouldhave gone directly into her smarting side to immediately process the challenging words that Meriweather threw at the monsters. The next thing she knew, however, a hand that could have easily concealed a toddler had buried itself in the loose length of her hair and jerked upward.

"Yow!" Katie yelped, forgetting that this same trick had happened just yesterday. Her scalp, however, hadn't forgotten and her eyes blurred with sudden tears of pain from the aching patches that had been aggravated. Still, the monster didn't desist once she was fully standing. Meriweather/Katie's feet actually left the ground as the creature suspended her at its own eye level.

Still, Meriweather didn't back down. "You heard me," the Sue said through Katie's mouth. "I don't care what you did to Temnaur; Aragorn will come for me. You should count the last few seconds of your life, evildoer."

{She gives these Uruk-hai too much credit if she thinks they can count,} Katie's voice said dryly.

{Eeeeeee…..put me down, put me down, pumme down!} was Katie's only response. She wasn't permitted to flail blindly in an attempt to get the Uruk-hai to release her, as Meriweather was favoring the "strong stoic sufferer" motif and remaining very still and proudly defiant.

The Uruk-hai guard that was not holding her off of the ground sneered and slavered so close to Meriweather's face that Katie could smell the last three meals on its breath—none of them remotely edible. If Katie had been able, she probably would have gagged and lost whatever contents remained in her stomach. Meriweather, however, was much too beautiful and poised to do something like puke in her own fanfic.

"No one will come if no one know you alive," the monster snarled. And then it did something that Katie wasn't expecting; it drew out a sharpened stone knife and made a lightning-fast slashing gesture just above her field of vision. The ache in her scalp abruptly blossomed into fire and Katie fell heavily to the ground without so much as a shriek. Through a wave of dizziness, she managed to raise her head enough to see the large length of hair still gripped in the Uruk-hai's hand.

{Wow. Never thought I'd see a Sue do that,} her voice said in absolute honesty. {There's even a bit of skin on it.}

{Oh, is that why I'm lightheaded?} Katie responded with a strained mental giggle. She knew that she was bleeding, sprawled on the muddy ground, and powerless to do anything…it was the kind of helpless feeling that hurt so badly all she could do was laugh the humorless laugh of someone so frustrated they didn't know what to do.

The Uruk-hai still holding a section of Meriweather's scalp leered over Katie, who raised her spinning head enough to make eye contact. "Will look good with the other one, don't it?" the hulking creature asked, pointing to a tree fifteen feet away.

Nailed with a crude spike to the trunk were the blond remnants of Temnaur's hair. Horrible symbols that had the look of dried blood were painted onto the rough bark, and as Katie watched, Meriweather's hair joined the display. A hot trickle of her own blood reached the bottom of her chin, and Katie wiped it away with an unsteady hand.

"No one come," the Uruk-hai went on in a manner that almost bordered on cheerful. "We leave bits of wizard here, maybe a bit or two of you. Enough bits, and he think you're dead."

"Fingers?" the other Uruk-hai guard asked hopefully. It reached over and caught Katie's wrist, examining the still-magically clean nails and unmarked hands that only a Sue could manage.

"Maybe whole hand," the first said thoughtfully.

{Oh bad,} her voice said as both of them pulled out rusty knives. {I never thought I'd see the day when a Sue would risk self-mutilation. Something's got the author messed up-and you know I mean even more than normal!}

Katie twisted from her prone position on the ground and tried to yank away, but her wrist might as well have been in a vise. "Get your meathooks off of me!" she forced out from between gritted teeth. "The only person losing fingers around here is gonna be Frodo!"

Now the other guard was contemplating her other hand...and possibly her left ear. Katie couldn't be sure about the ear, but she wassure that the gray blur that zipped past her face was a hallucination. That was, until said gray hallucination neatly blinded the first Uruk-hai with its claws.

Saura'onna might have been descended from a ninja, or more realistically from a mongoose. She didn't climb or scamper, she flowed like quicksilver and struck like an adder. The second Uruk-hai sustained several bites to its arms before it too was blinded in a quick lunge that ended with the monster bellowing aloud, staggering off-balance...right before an arrow through the throat caused the bellow to die as a gurgle.

In seconds, more arrows appeared to sprout from the other Uruk-hai in the company-that is, those who didn't find themselves on the business end of Gimli's favorite axe. The entire skirmish, if it could even be called that, lasted less than ten minutes.

"Six," Legolas said to Gimli.

"Seven," the Dwarf replied, but without a trace of smugness.

"Am I glad to see you-" Katie started to say, but Meriweather obviously hadn't been expecting this turn in the plot, because the sentence ended with, "You can threaten all you like, but Aragorn will never stop searching for me."

Legolas and Gimli exchanged almost comical glances before the latter cleaned his axe on the nearest carcass and replaced it on his belt. Legolas swung his bow back over his shoulder and crouched beside their rescuee, examining the wound to her scalp.

Katie rolled her eyes and waited impatiently for a lull in Meriweather's tirade before interjecting, "She still thinks the Uruk-hai have her. What happened?"

Gimli held out his hand to Saura'onna, who was now harmlessly examining one of her victims as if curious as to how it got there. The raccoon scampered up his arm and made herself at home on one of his broad shoulder pads.

{There's something wrong with that animal,} Katie thought to herself, blinking in an attempt to clear the haze from her vision.

{Could be. Or it could be that Meriweather just likes to have unrealistic expectations of animal companions.}

{Yeah, but how can it be a bumbling animal for several chapters, and then move like an assassin the next?} Katie asked. {I didn't hear Meriweather say anything about it.}

{Well, keep an ear open,} her voice advised uneasily. {Legolas and Gimli just totally ruined the epic battle scene she probably has planned for Aragorn to rescue you.}

{In case you didn't notice,} Katie thought a trifle acidly, {I was about to have my arms shortened. I could care less what they ruined.} Her head felt very heavy all of a sudden and she allowed her chin to rest on her crossed arms. She listened for a moment to the Mary Sue author; apparently the Uruk-hai were to have bound and gagged Meriweather, but with a distinct lack of live monsters to carry out such plans, Katie was left to herself as the monsters 'plotted all manner and sorts of dark uses for the fair woman that had come to be in their midst'. Katie tried not to listen too hard in case the uses were graphic.

Something cold and wet began to replace the sticky feeling of drying blood as Legolas used a water skin to clean the wound on Meriweather/Katie's head. Katie inhaled and bit her tongue, but part of her was just so tired that the pain didn't particularly matter. As it was, she seemed to regard it from a distance and was almost idly fascinated.

"We left Aragorn a short distance away," Gimli was saying. "The witch's Aragorn, that is. He is close to tracking these foul creatures down."

"No tracking needed to be done," Legolas added a trifle angrily. "Even a blind orc could have found you."

"Well, you two are a great deal better than blind orcs," was what Katie meant to say. However, what came out was the strangled, gutteral sound of someone that had been gagged as Aragorn, Ranger of the North and the Man in Question dove into the clearing in a manner that reminded her very much of GalaxyQuest.

What followed was perhaps one of the clumsiest shadow-battles she had ever seen. It was easy to tell that the Mary Sue author hadn't spent as much time detailing Aragorn's fight as she did Meriweather's. The Ranger swung his sword two-handedly, as if it were a cross between a cleaver and a wood-cutter's axe. His movements were unsteady, almost jerky like a puppet that had had it's strings tangled. He came around, stabbed once, ducked, and rolled out of the way again.

{Does the rolling help?} her voice asked snidely.

{Leave off, this isn't Aragorn's fault,} Katie said sadly.

At long last, the impromptu battle ended. And the Uruk-hai were thankfully just as dead as before. For one brief moment, Katie had wondered whether or not the author would be able to resurrect the corpses to make the battle believable. She was very glad to be proven wrong.

Legolas and Gimli wisely cleared the immediate area as Aragorn hastened to where Katie was lying. He knelt, his hands moving to cut the invisible (well, non-existent) bonds on her wrists and feet, and then there was a brief, horrible moment that Katie blocked out with a scene from Labyrinth.

{Oh yes. The patented "Dance Magic Dance" distraction,} her voice commented. {Or is it "Pants, Magic Pants"?}

{Who cares? Whatever works!} Katie shot back. {Is he done kissing her yet?}

{Uhum, wait for it...yes. All clear.}

Katie came back to reality to find herself wrapped in Aragorn's firm embrace (whether firm because the real Aragorn wanted to knock her out or firm because Katie was squirming at the awkwardness of it all, she wasn't quite sure).

She steeled herself for whatever madness was coming next; a new Uruk-hai attack where Meriweather saved them all? Resuming the chase after the hobbits in which Meriweather's endurance outlasted even Legolas? A magical unicorn that emerged from beneath the dark boughs of the wood as a sign that Gandalf was within? Not much could surprise Katie at this point. Or so she thought.

The one thing she was not prepared for was the way Legolas and Saura'onna's heads lifted at the exact same time, in the exact same manner.

Katie turned toward the Mirkwood prince in time to see sheer horror cloud his fair features before it was smothered. "What did you say?" the elf said in a near-whisper. "A voice...no. No!"And then his expression smoothed, devoid of nearly any emotion as Meriweather's author picked up a new thread of torture meant just for Legolas.

Saura'onna, though unable to speak, was clearly in the same boat. She had flung herself free of Gimli's shoulder and was twisting in paroxysms on the forest floor. Her front paws grasped at her ears, and for a moment the raccoon even began tearing tufts of her own fur out, clearly agitated beyond personal safety. And then she was still, left in a panting gray heap with all of her energy spent.

Katie struggled for a brief moment in an attempt to get Aragorn to release her, but the sudden movement made her vision spin and her new wound complain. "Legolas!" she said, but there was no reaction from the elf.

Gimli had drawn back in consternation; was he also to be affected by this new wave of the author's evil? After a long moment, he approached Legolas and very slowly poked his companion quite pointedly in the stomach. No reaction.

Saura'onna stumbled up on her paws and wove a little unsteadily as she made her way toward the only two standing people in the clearing. Katie and Gimli watched in disbelief as she planted herself at Legolas's feet and posed demurely. There was no mistaking the pose; no wild animal could do something like that.

And then Legolas' gaze dropped to the raccoon and Katie stifled an exclamation of outrage as it surged through her brain. {Oh no way. No way.}

[Author's Note: Thank you to the lovely people in the Office of Letters and Light for running NaNoWriMo. Composing fifty thousand words in a month's time has convinced me that there is no reason I can't write at the drop of a hat anymore. It might be crap, but it's written.

And thank you to that reviewer in 2010 who literally yelled at me, threatened to slap me, and then thought about PM-ing me. Inspiration can be found in the weirdest places.

And Drew. Always Drew. :-P ]

[A brief imaginary prologue as suggested by Drew follows, and has no actual relation to the story at hand.]

"Can't believe I'm doing this," the shadowy shape muttered to herself. "Can't believe I'm back here. This is just stupid. It's been what, six years? Six long, long, looooooong years." She drew the vowel out and then sighed. "And of course I couldn't pick the right place to plothole in, so I have to walk..."

"Halt! Declare yourself!" Legolas sprang into view from behind a tree, but failed completely to surprise the intruder.

"Oh, hey Legolas. Is Katie around?"

The elf froze, his unflappable expression clearly...well, flapped. "What know you of our company?" he demanded after a second to recover.

The visitor appeared not to hear him. "And Temnaur's not with you guys anymore, right? I think I remember that he bought it in the last chapter. Well, bought it in a good sense; he got to go back to his world."

Legolas took a step backwards and slowly raised the knife he had heretofore kept at his side. "You...you are the witch!"

She sighed shortly in irritability before stepping around Legolas towards the campfire that had been her original destination all along. He moved to bar her path, but his arm swept right through her as if she were a wraith.

Now Aragorn was jumping to his feet, followed by Gimli. "Stay, stranger!" Aragorn commanded, drawing his sword.

"Would you guys just relax? Here, if this will help..." The stranger shook off her outer garment so that the three of them could see she was dressed in an odd type of blue leggings and a thin undertunic of some kind that bore a picture of five strange multi-colored helmets.

"Look, see? Not from around here. I'm just looking for Katie."

A lump by the fire sat up suddenly; Boromir's cloak fell from over Katie's head and she stared at the newcomer through bleary eyes. "What?" Katie demanded fuzzily. "I've had over six years to get used to this, and I choose now to get some sleep, and you wake me up?"

There was a pause as the other woman considered those words. "Yup. Come on, we've got a chapter to do."

Katie peered up at her. Then she shrugged. "Okay."

The visitor nodded. "Great. See you later." She slung her coat over her arm and nodded to Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli, who were staring between the two of them in complete and utter confusion. "Thanks guys. Good luck with the quest!"

Without a backwards glance, she vanished into the darkness. The three hunters turned their questioning gazes on Katie.

"Who was that, lass?" Gimli asked, easing his axe back into it's place on his belt.

"Hm? Oh. You'll find out," Katie said. "At least...I hope you will. If she can finish something."