-The Games of the Gods, Book Two: Playing the Game-

WARNING: This IS a sequel. It is possible that you could understand it without reading the previous story, but my characters thrive on in jokes, and there is a fair bit of history that you won't catch - not to mention the prologues will be nearly ununderstandable - if you don't read book one, 'Setting The Board', first.

Yes, everyone was married or courting at the end of our last tale - Yes, all was on the fast-track to being hunky-dorey fine - And yes, the universe did, in fact, end - But, in true Mary-Sue style, that doesn't mean that we can't have a sequel! Hang on to your hats, readers - Rachel and Glory are BACK!

Alas, I cannot do the fun disclaimers that I did last time due to rules, so I'll just stick to the plain and simple - Nothing belongs to me besides the characters of Rachel and Kari, and sometimes I wonder about them. The rest belongs to the brilliant genius that was JRR Tolkien...or reality.

-Prologue the First, Narative-
-Time: Directly after the universe ended-

Darkness faded, revealing a lone ship in the midst of a great expanse of ocean. Two figures, one male, one female, stood in the bow of the ship, the female looking startled, the male, triumphant.

"See? The universe didn't end - we're not in some story!" the male declared. "That was likely just the passage onto the Straight Road to Valinor."

"No, it's much worse than a story. It's a sequel." the female said with a sigh. The male, looking annoyed, opened his mouth to reply, only to be stopped by a feminine voice, echoing through the universe.

"Come ON guys, we did this LAST story. It's old plot now." the Author said impatiently.

"Well Sooo-rry." the female on the ship said in mock-repentance.

"...I must dispise myself to make such willful and independant characters." the Author said with a sigh. "Well, let's just put a plot-hole patch over it and get on with the sequel." Then the sound of distant typing was heard throughout the world, and just as the female opened her mouth to speak, her eyes - and indeed, those of everyone in the universe - glazed over.

Moments later, Rachel stood in the bow of the ship on it's way to Valinor, her mouth open, wondering what she'd been about to say. She turned to her husband Glorfindel in confusion.

"What was I saying?" she asked. Glorfindel shrugged, looking equally confused.

"I don't know." he said. "But I have this vague urge to admit you were right about something..."

-Prologue the Second, Rachel's Point of View-
-Time: December 3021 of the Third Age-

There was one slight disappointment about the entire journey to Valinor. There was no obvious transition point between when we were just a normal ship sailing, that could, conceivably, run into another ship out there on the big blue, and when we were on what the Elves referred to as 'the straight road', heading to Valinor. The only clue I had was that one morning I woke up to the lookout in the crows nest reporting that he could see Valinor ahead.

From the sighting of Valinor onwards, just about everybody was on deck for as long and as often as they possibly could be. I was absorbed in trying to see the legendary Undying Lands, myself, so I only casually noticed when Glorfindel, Elrond and Galadriel all disappeared at once, and that didn't even really register until I caught a flicker of dread coming across the bond from Glorfindel. I sent a questioning thought his way, but he insisted it was nothing, so I let it pass.

Soon enough we were docking, and everyone on board was quite amused at the fact that, upon seeing who was at the head of the crowd waiting for us, Elrond did not wait for a gangplank or any otherwise convenient form of disembarking. No, he just pushed his robes aside and vaulted over the railing of the ship onto the dock and met Celebrían with a hug and kiss that had half those present embarrassed, and the other half whistling or laughing. For my part, seeing that Celebrían was alright was probably one of the better things about coming to Valinor. It allowed me to let go of that niggling piece of guilt I had about not doing anything to stop the Orc attack.

Once the gangplank had been set up, the rest of us disembarked in a calmer fashion, and Galadriel was able to greet her daughter with a hug. Well, alright, she had to hug Elrond as well, since he didn't seem inclined to let go of Celebrían, but Galadriel didn't look as if she minded. The rest of us on the ship that knew Celebrían were then able to greet her, me being one of the last, as I knew Celebrían would probably need a moment or two to get over her shock, and would then want a brief explanation. I obliged, and just as I finished giving a brief explanation of how I'd 'died' and returned, that feeling of dread came from Glorfindel again.

I turned to look in Glorfindel's direction with a concerned frown, but Elrond had apparently caught a whiff of whatever Glorfindel was dreading, and caught my attention quickly and engaged me in a conversation, before I could focus on Glorfindel and whoever he was talking to. That, of course, only made me more curious, and I sent many questioning thoughts Glorfindel's way, but I got the impression that they weren't even reaching him. The answer eventually provided itself, however.

"Dammit, I want to see my Herald, Glorfindel! Get out of the bloody way!" The loud voice caused a momentary lull in the noise on the dock, and I turned with wide eyes to find none other than the High King Gil-galad pushing past a sheepish looking Glorfindel.

"Elrond! You finally made it here!" Gil-galad said as he strode up, completely ignoring me.

"And you made it out of Mandos' Halls." Elrond said with what looked suspiciously like a tight smile.

"I think he got tired of me." Gil-galad said with a grin as the two clasped each others arms in a roman handshake. At this point, Glorfindel appeared at my side and attempted to lead me away, but Gil-galad caught the movement and turned from Elrond to Glorfindel and me. He simply looked at us for a moment.

"So, you were not trying to keep me from Elrond after all, eh?" Gil-galad said, arching an eyebrow. "Who is this, then?"

"The purple monkey from Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Land." I said with a straight face before Glorfindel could reply. Having recalled what Glorfindel said about Gil-galad's sense of humour, I now wanted to see if he was right about it. Gil-galad blinked at my response, and then slowly smiled.

"Welcome to Valinor then, Ms. Purple Monkey." he said solemnly. "We are always pleased to have Elves of different lands travel here."

"It's Mrs." I corrected. Gil-galad arched an eyebrow, and then noticed that Glorfindel was holding my hand. His eyes suddenly lit with understanding, and he grinned.

"So, our lovely substitute Sun finally got married, did he?" the High King asked.

"Yes indeed. Though the one he's married to shall have to express her concern over your referring to him as 'lovely'." I replied, quirking an eyebrow upwards.

"Oh, you do not have to worry." Gil-galad replied dismissively, and grinned impishly at me. "I'd be far more likely to pounce on you than him."

"Ew, High King cooties!" I said, making a face. Glorfindel couldn't hold in a snort of laughter. Everyone else was a little confused, not knowing what I meant, but Gil-galad got the gist of it and chuckled.

"You have a most interesting wife, Glorfindel." he said, turning to Glorfindel.

"Yes. I've yet to discover whether this is a good or bad thing, however." he said dryly. Gil-galad and I gave Glorfindel identical looks, arching our eyebrows at the same time. Glorfindel sighed. "I finally get you away from Haldir, and what does Mandos do? Release Gil-galad." Glorfindel grumbled, and I giggled.

"Oh come on, you know you love it." I said with a grin.

"Actually, I love you." Glorfindel corrected me. "The insanity just sort of follows you around."

"And this is a bad thing?" Gil-galad put in, just a step ahead of me. Glorfindel glanced between me and the High King, then shook his head and held up his hands in defeat. Gil-galad and I immediately turned to the much more interesting, and important, task of finding out just what each other's sense of humour was like, completely ignoring those on the dock who knew us both and shot somewhat despairing looks in our direction, especially when we set off away from the dock into Valinor proper discussing whether or not it would be possible to make a magnet big - and strong - enough to pull Vala's crowns off their heads. Which of course led to a debate over whether or not the Vala's crowns were even made of a magnetic metal...Glorfindel gave up discouraging me mentally after half an hour, and an hour after we set foot in Valinor, he had joined Gil-galad and I in our plotting.

-Prologue the Third, Narative-
-Time: January 28th, 2004 A.D.-

:So the last thing I need to get is a few barrels of ice cream, and once we get those loaded, we can get out of here.: Kari announced.

:FINALLY: Elrohir grumbled inside her head. Kari glanced with amusement towards the wall of the store, beyond which was the parking lot containing her grumpy husband waiting in the car.

:Oh come on, it wasn't all that bad. Tell me you haven't enjoyed ice cream and pop and tequila.: Kari said as she moved her cart towards the frozen foods section. :Not to mention leather, modern music, water-proof fabric, indoor plumbing and electric heating...and the current women's fashion trends.: There was a short silence.

:Maybe that last one.: Elrohir admitted, and sent a random image of Kari on the beach a few years ago, when she had been wearing a particularly skimpy bikini. Kari chuckled out loud, getting a few odd looks, as she started to load up her cart with ice cream.

:I suppose I should just be happy that I was the star of that picture.: she said.

:Of course you were! Who else would I be thinking of in skimpy bikinis: Elrohir replied indignantly, and a wave of dread followed almost immediately on the end of that thought. Kari grinned to herself.

:Well, let's see...there was that model two years ago. And then that actress in 1990. And let's not forget the talent agent in 1981! Though, he would look odd in a bikini, I'll admit.: Kari was ready to continue as she, having finished loading up with ice cream, headed towards the check-out, but a mental blast of irritation from Elrohir stopped her mental speech, though she continued moving towards the check-out.

:And let's not mention your little adventures with that actor in 2000.: he said.

:Feh.: Kari muttered. :You just had to bring Hugh into this, didn't you? I've told you time and before, he doesn't count. No attempts at kissage, and I was hired as his bodyguard. Plus, he was, and still is, married:

:Oh yes, because HE didn't try and jump you, it doesn't count that you went all over the place with him, even if it was your job.: Elrohir retorted. :Do you think I WANTED to have all those models and actresses - or that agent, gaaah - jump me:

:Of course not.: Kari replied cheerfully, sending a wave of love in Elrohir's direction. Elrohir took the cue for what it was and didn't reply, letting Kari be while she focused on things outside of her head, such as paying the cashier.

They'd already spent hours teasing each other over the various people who had tried to jump them over the years, anyways. Though Elrohir seemed to have a particular grudge about the fact that Kari had managed to get a paying job as a bodyguard for one very attractive actor. Kari was sure that Elrohir, despite having paid jealous attention to everything she was doing while she was with the actor, thought that she'd done something with him. It was one of the many signs that it was time for them to leave, if Elrohir could believe, even subconciously, that she would betray their soul-bond.

Distracted as Kari was with paying for the food and contemplating Elrohir's mental problems, it was no surprise that she didn't notice something was off until too late. Of course, even she couldn't have expected an attack to occur in the middle of a grocery store, in front of dozens of people. On the other hand, it wasn't actually an obvious attack. The only thing the people in the store found odd about it, really, was that the 'medics' who carried her away after she fainted were wearing black suits instead of the usual paramedic outfits.

Of course, Elrohir, anxious to get out of there and to the sea - which had been calling to him for close to 300 years now - had been keeping tabs on his wife, and the instant he felt her mind go blank, he bolted from the car - which was probably the only thing that saved him. His mind barely registered the two men in black suits crouched behind his car, pumping something it, before he saw Kari being carried out of the store by more men in black suits. He stared for a moment, stopped dead in his tracks, half-way between the store and the car, and then whirled and ran.

He didn't stop until he reached Valinor, not even to find out if the FBI had bothered to officially put out a warrant for his arrest.

----To Be Continued...with masked elven party-crashers!----

-Authors Note:-

Ahhh, I'm back, writing a sequel to a story I swore I'd never write a sequel to! Scary, isn't it? I blame Glorfindel. And plot bunnies. Anyways, before anybody gets too excited, this story won't be updating very often - probably once a week minimum - but I'll do my best to keep it going.

Adding to the slow updating are the changes in Some major things have changed since I last posted a story on this site, and I'll be looking through them carefully over the next little while. So, please, just bear with me as I try to figure out what has done to itself...

And with that, I'm off for now...See you with the next update!

Crimson Starlight