Among the Mumakil
Disclaimer: I own nothing pertaining to The Lord of the Rings. This story was written for entertainment purposes only, and I'm not being paid for it.
Dedication: Among the Mumakil is dedicated to my sister, because she asked me why the Erestor in my fanfics 'never wins'.
I am sure you are at least half-aware of the horrors that have occurred over the past few weeks. So much of it has made headlines in newspapers all over the world that you could not possibly have avoided hearing something about mûmakil, the Wyze, and Balrog conspiracies.
Still, I am not certain how much you know about myself and Erestor. Anything you have heard about either of us has probably been told to you by Erestor, and, in that case, I expect you think Erestor is a hero, and are therefore biased against me already.
My name is Glorfindel. I am the leader of a group of Elves known as 'the Wyze'. It is our difficult and thankless task to keep happy the Elves of the Grey Havens, Lothlorien, and Imladris. If you are wondering why Eryn Lasgalen is not on this list, we deemed it to be a lost cause long ago.
I shall assume that you have heard of Erestor. He dwelt in Imladris for most of his life, unknown and irrelevant, then turned into a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist, wrote a worst-selling work of fiction (Wings: The Great Balrog Conspiracy) and fled to Harad in a fit of panic. Erestor has done a good deal to make the job of the Wyze even harder. He has blackened our reputations, accused us of lying about practically everything, and attempted to convince everyone that Balrogs do not exist. We are still trying to repair the damage he caused.
I played an important part in forcing Erestor to run for Harad, but my story really starts with the 349th Annual Wings Debate.
Give an opinionated person a good topic of contention, give him or her a person to contend with, and the two will become desperate to prove themselves right. Give hundreds of Elves a good topic of contention, and they will have the fuel for hundreds of years worth of petty bickering. The fires of debate have consumed our happy realm.
I myself gave them the topic. I asked them if Balrogs possessed wings or not. The scholars and citizens of Imladris discuss this serious matter on the day of the Annual Wings Debate. Watching them is the most fun I have all year. It fascinates me. No one will ever know if Balrogs have wings or not, and they will never win their opponents to their point of view, but they feel the need to try. The Elves of Imladris have been trying for 349 years, and no one has converted yet.
I love listening to the many arguments for wings or against them, and I especially enjoy it when enraged historians start attacking each other with their paperclips, staplers, and letter openers. There are few sights more amusing.
A year ago, at the 348th Annual Wings Debate, a quiet Elf of very little brain suddenly announced, "I don't think Balrogs exist."
This quiet, brainless Elf was Erestor. No one gave his epiphany a moment's thought, and rightly so, until he proceeded to produce a book, with a few paltry and pathetic arguments backing up his little theory.
I already said that this was a worst-selling book, perhaps the worst-selling book in the history of literature, but unfortunately, it was at this point that Erestor began to show some cunning. Somehow, and to this day I do not know how he did it without my catching him, Erestor managed to post his whole book on the Internet, where it drew the attention of many. Everyone was able to read the thing in its entirety, free of charge.
That was the beginning of the end.
It is my opinion that the end of the end took place on 349th Annual Wings Debate. I arrived ten minutes early, looking forward to lots of drama and action, but only two other Elves joined me in the debating hall.
We sat there for almost a half hour, waiting expectantly for everyone else to come hauling a year's worth of notes and new evidence with them, but this was not to be. The two Elves (Valar bless them for being faithful to the noble tradition of the Annual Wings Debate) both agreed that Balrogs had wings, so they had nothing to debate about. I myself have made a point to never debate about whether Balrogs have wings. It is undignified, and I prefer to watch.
At last I thanked the two loyal Elves for coming, and hurried out of the room to find Elrond. I was sure that something terrible had happened to him, and that he had been unable to attend the debate because he was bleeding to death somewhere.
Something terrible had happened to him, but he was not bleeding to death.
"Elrond!" I cried, stunned to see him sitting in his most comfortable chair, reading a thick book.
Elrond gaped up at me guiltily, trying to surreptitiously hide the book under a cushion. I snatched the hefty volume from him and stared at it in horrified disbelief.
Among the Mûmakil: The Adventures of a Elven Fugitive Living in Far Harad screamed the cover of the book in a loud, overexcited font. I could scarcely believe my eyes. I had been searching for Erestor for months, and all that time, he had been skulking in Far Harad, the wretch.
I turned to the back of the book, to the About the Author page. There was a photograph of Erestor looking furtive and worried, with a mûmak posing coyly in the background. At the sight of the Elf's nervous expression, I felt nearly nostalgic. I have such happy memories of striking terror into his heart.
I gave Elrond a bright smile, playing the part of a bouncy, brainless, Balrog-slaying blond. "Looks quite interesting. Is it any good?" I asked cheerfully.
Elrond gave me a grin of relief. Evidently he had been scared by my dramatic entrance and book-snatching antics. How silly of him."Oh, yes," he said. "It's great. Completely engaging!"
I often think that Elrond should not be one of the Wyze. He is not wyze. Or even wise. He is too forgiving, and not at all clever enough. Didn't he realize what Erestor was doing?
I flipped the book open and ran my eyes down the Table of Contents. Judging by the chapter titles, Erestor was still marching to his own doom.
Drum, I mean.
No Wings for Non-Balrogs... Further Lies Revealed... Harried in Harad... In Which I am Attacked by a Camel...
There was even a chapter all about me. I was hardly flattered. If Erestor had been seeking to appease me to some extent, he had failed miserably.
It was clear to me that Erestor was trying to distract the Elves from the Annual Wings Debate. There was no way that the release date of his book could have accidentally coincided with my favorite event of the year. Worst of all, Erestor's evil plan had succeeded. I had no doubt that every Elf in Imladris was curled up comfortably somewhere, reading Among the Mûmakil and sipping hot chocolate and getting brainwashed, inundated by Erestor's anti-Noldor propaganda.
I am an Elf of action. I do not despair when catastrophes occur.
The first thing I did was buy a copy of Among the Mûmakil. I hated having to do it, but the purchase was necessary. I read the chapter about me. Then I ripped said chapter out of the book and burned it in my stove. That made me feel better.
I read the rest of the book.
The chapter about Erestor getting attacked by camel made me laugh, despite myself. I loved the thought of Erestor sprinting through the desert with a camel galloping after him. Apparently Erestor had been under the impression that camels are carnivorous. I wish they were. I wish it had eaten him.
The second thing I did was telephone the newspapers. I gave them a calm and well-worded statement from the Wyze, denouncing Erestor's conspiracy theories as... well, conspiracy theories, without a word of truth or logic to them.
I asked if there would be a book-signing. I was told that Erestor wished to remain out of the public eye as much as possible. At this, I laughed so hard I nearly fell out a nearby window.
Erestor was getting slightly smarter. He had realized that the instant he stepped into the public eye, I would have him. Even with his book published and his theories lauded, he was still an Elven fugitive. No matter where he went, if I found him, he would not be able to escape me again.
Erestor had ruined the 349th Annual Wings Debate. I might have forgiven him for my other grievances against him, but not for this one. Erestor's capture was inevitable.
I found him two weeks later. I had renewed all my efforts and my spies were everywhere. They found Erestor in Eryn Lasgalen, interviewing Legolas for a book on alien abduction.
This posed a few small difficulties. I couldn't just sweep in and haul Erestor away in chains, because that would make Legolas upset. When Legolas got upset, his father got upset. When King Thranduil got upset, there was always the risk of a war breaking out.
I mentioned that my talent does not lie in the field of writing. My talent is being a mastermind. No one ever suspected me of being the leader of the Wyze, not until Erestor worked it out.
I spent the afternoon in deep thought, and eventually found the answer to all my problems. The solution was so completely obvious that I felt silly for not thinking of it sooner.
Two days later, Erestor was abducted by aliens.
It took some planning, but when it came time to implement the plans, the abduction was the work of a moment. Legolas was the only witness –though I can hardly call him a witness, because he was half-blinded by a lot of bright lights– and he thought he saw Erestor disappear. He was so horrified by the development that he had to spend several months in therapy.
I am sure you saw the story in the newspaper. How could anyone have missed it? The media loves it when bad things happen to Legolas. Prince of Mirkwood Found Babbling Incoherently; Says Hostile Extra Terrestrials are Stalking Him was my favorite headline. I have it clipped out and stuck to my refrigerator.
Of course, the aliens were not actually aliens, but some employees of mine. They brought Erestor to Imladris right away.
I think Erestor had forgotten just how much I used to scare him, because he did not seem in the least bit terrified when I came to talk to him. He was sitting at a table, and he glared up at me when I entered the room. I was disappointed. I remembered how I had nearly sent him into a fit of hysterics last year when I had dismembered his telephone after he used it to make illegal calls.
I sat down across from him, and gave him a serious look. My serious looks are very unnerving, because I hardly ever look serious. (If you want to know what everyone thinks of my personality, then look at a few political cartoons. I am always portrayed by a golden retriever, all fluffy and pretty, with its tongue hanging half out of its mouth. It looks positively idiotic.)
"Erestor," I said solemnly, "have you no pride?"
Erestor was visibly startled. No one has ever accused Erestor of having pride, and therefore, no one has ever asked him if he has no pride. After all, the answer is obvious. He doesn't. He is so self-effacing and pitiful that most people can't help but walk all over him.
Having caught him completely off guard, I continued.
"How can you invent such lies against people who have never done anything to you?" I asked. "In your quest for fame, you have destroyed the reputations of many good Elves. You cannot prove any of the accusations you make, and without proof, your own writings are as bad as lies."
Erestor gaped at me. I noticed that he had a tan. That should have been an indication that he had changed. Unfortunately, I didn't realize he had changed until he replied.
"Lord Glorfindel," he said, "you have threatened me, drugged me, sent assassins after me, and kidnapped me. In what dictionary would this be defined as 'nothing'?"
I leaned forward across the table. "Oh, Erestor," I said sweetly, "I wasn't talking about myself. I have done lots of things to you, and you should be thankful that I haven't done worse."
Erestor still didn't cringe. I was rather impressed. The Erestor of a year ago would have been hiding under the table, instead of clinging to it with both hands, so tightly that I was sure he would leave ten little indents behind.
"I spoke of Elves like Lord Elrond, Lady Galadriel, and Ecthelion," said I. "They have not harmed you. You cannot leave even the dead in peace."
Erestor took a deep breath. "I have a right to write about whatever I want to write about," he said convolutedly. "Since you have taken such measures to keep me quiet, I can only assume that my theories are correct."
"You," I hissed, "are a hopelessly paranoid and deluded Elf, with nothing better to do with your time than invent ridiculous conspiracy theories."
That made Erestor cringe. Earlier on in our conversation, this might have been enough to pacify me, but at this point, I was so angry with him I wanted to repeatedly bang his head against a wall. I stood up and glowered down at him. "I want you to recant everything you've written," I said.
"I won't," whispered Erestor.
I stormed out of the room, and slammed the door behind me. I locked the door. Then I kicked the door, just for good measure.
I half-stomped and half-limped back to my rooms, collapsed into a chair and sulked. Yes, I will admit it in writing. I sulked. I also envisioned various painful ends that Erestor could meet without much inconvenience to myself.
Eventually I turned on my television to watch the news.
The news was bad news.
The reporter was interviewing someone who was clutching Erestor's book (Among the Mûmakil: The Adventures of an Elven Fugitive Living in Far Harad). "Erestor is my favorite author," he said, "and I think he's in trouble."
It turned out that Erestor had a website. On the website, he posted daily updates. Now no one had heard from him for days and his fans were worried.
Valar, I still cannot believe that an Elf like Erestor had fans.
I also cannot believe that the fan being interviewed on TV was Éomer. I did not think Éomer knew how to read.
"If Erestor is in trouble, then I know where to find him," continued Éomer. "It's clear that the Wyze have him."
I switched off the television. I felt numb.
I went back to Erestor's room. He still sitting at the table, though he was slumped over and had his head resting on his arms. He looked up when I came in, and gave me a weak grin. "I guess you found out about the website," he said.
I had underestimated him.
Up until that moment, I had not really considered what it would be like having Éomer come after me. Yes, I am a warrior, and yes, I like horses, but I do not like angry warriors on horses who are coming to rescue their favorite authors.
"You could go to Harad," Erestor suggested. "The weather is quite nice all year around, if you don't mind sandstorms and things."
"I am not going to Harad," I said. "I hate camels."
Erestor dared to smirk at me.
"Would you like to go to Harad?" I snarled. "In pieces in a sack, maybe?"
Erestor went silent after that, to my great relief.
"I don't suppose that you would write something on your website saying that you're alive and the big panic is for nothing?" I asked.
Erestor shook his head, still not saying anything. Smart Elf.
"Fine. Then you can stay down here," I said. I went out and locked the door again. I did not kick it. That had made my toes hurt.
I considered the options left open to me. I could push Erestor off a waterfall. There were lots of them by Imladris. But it would look suspicious if he had an 'accident'. After all, that is how everyone would imagine the word, with little quotation marks around it.
It would also look suspicious if Éomer found Erestor locked in my basement. "Oh, I didn't realize he was there," was the sort of excuse that no one would believe, even if it were true.
Bribery wouldn't work. Erestor did not want money. He wanted to ruin my life, and he was doing a brilliant job of that already.
The moment Erestor got loose, he would start writing more books. I could practically see the titles dancing in front of my eyes. Glorfindel: Elf of Infamy came to mind.
So what could I do?
I could write a book. After all, I had charisma, charm and desperation on my side. Erestor's theories surely sounded farfetched to some people. I could sound reasonable. I could persuade everyone that the Wyze were nice people who did not lie as easily as breathe.
The telephone rang. I picked it up.
"Glorfindel, you idiot," said a voice.
It was Lady Galadriel. 'Idiot' is one of her favorite words.
"Good afternoon," I said.
"This is not a good afternoon," said Galadriel. "This may be your last afternoon as one of the world's top10 lovable people."
I had not yet thought of that. I think it demonstrates the state of my priorities at that moment.
"Where is he?" asked Galadriel.
"Downstairs," I said.
"Erestor is Éomer's favorite author," said Galadriel. "Éomer was going to open a library in Rohan dedicated to him."
"What will I do?" I asked.
"There's only one thing I can think of," said Galadriel, "and that's hypnotize him."
"Yes!" I cried. "You are a genius, my lady!"
Because of this wise suggestion, I spent the next five minutes twirling a watch on a chain in front of Erestor's eyes while several people held him down. I was sure that it wasn't working, but then Erestor started looking cross-eyed and relaxed.
"You like me," I said.
"You want to be my best friend," I said.
I put down the watch, and heaved a sigh of relief. "Would you like to know how you can be my best friend?" I asked.
"How can I be your best friend?" Erestor asked eagerly.
"You could start by saying nice things about me," I suggested.
"Like what?" Erestor looked at me expectantly.
"Well... er... you could say that you feel bad about the things you've written about me," I said. "Because you do feel bad. You feel very bad."
Erestor started looking sad. "I'm so sorry, Glorfindel," he said.
"You came to see me," I said, "so that you could apologize to me for your terrible behavior."
"Yes," said Erestor. "I'm so very sorry," he repeated.
"Come with me," I said, grabbing him by the arm and hauling him out of the room. Erestor hurried after me, still looking expectant.
I nearly liked him when he was doing everything I told him to do.
I sat Erestor down and gave him a cup of tea. I drank some tea as well. Erestor was acting almost normal, except that he was being polite and completely credulous. I gave him a conspiracy theory idea for his next book.
"You should write about sheep," I said.
"Sheep?" echoed Erestor.
I nodded. "Did you know that sheep are really wolves in disguise, and that someday they are going to attack all of civilization with the aid of the flamingos?"
Erestor had an endearingly wide-eyed expression on his face. "Really?" he asked.
"Yes," I said.
When I was certain that Erestor was my new best friend, I telephoned Éomer. I was hurt and offended. I asked him why he was making baseless accusations. I said that he was misguided and paranoid.
"Just because Erestor doesn't update his website doesn't mean that he's dead," I said. "Actually, Erestor is with me right now. He'd like to talk to you."
"Yes, I would like to talk to Éomer," said Erestor.
I handed him the telephone. I could only hear Erestor's end of the conversation, but it was enough to make me smile from ear to ear.
"Yes, I am all right. I am having tea with Glorfindel."
"Yes, I like Glorfindel."
"No, Glorfindel hasn't hurt me. He's my friend."
"No, I am not drugged."
"Well, you see, I went to talk to Glorfindel because I felt bad about all the unfair things I had written about him."
"Yes, this is Erestor speaking."
"Nonsense. Glorfindel is very nice."
Erestor kept on shooting me little questioning glances, so I smiled and nodded at him encouragingly.
"Yes, you can come and talk to me if you like. I'm sure Glorfindel won't mind," said Erestor. "Good-bye, Éomer," he finished. He ended the telephone call. "Glorfindel," he said cheerfully, "Éomer is coming over to see us!"
"Fantastic," I said.
An hour and a half later, Éomer arrived in Imladris. I had never seen a man look more suspicious. He shook my hand gingerly, before coming to Erestor and pumping his whole arm up and down.
"Erestor!" he cried. "I'm so thrilled to meet you! You are my favorite author!"
I decided I was going to die if I heard Erestor being described as Éomer's favorite author one more time.
Erestor acquitted himself well, though I doubt Éomer would have noticed something was wrong with Erestor even if Erestor had been prancing about with a watermelon balanced on his head. Éomer was so excited about meeting his favorite author that he talked for nearly the whole time.
"I'm glad that you're all right," he said eventually.
"I'm fine," said Erestor. "Never better. I'm so glad that Glorfindel is my friend now."
Éomer glanced at me, and then whispered something in Erestor's ear. Erestor laughed. "Don't be silly," he said. "I don't think Glorfindel is evil. He's my best friend."
"Well, that's nice," said Éomer. He was beginning to look doubtful again. I wished that Erestor would stop saying I was his friend. It made him sound as though he hadn't any other friends.
"Glorfindel," said Erestor grandly, "is my friend. My very best friend. The best friend in all the world. I am so happy that such a wonderful Elf would be my friend, even after I said so many mean things about him. None of it was true. Glorfindel is my friend. We like each other. We would never do anything mean to each other ever again."
Éomer and I were staring at Erestor in astonishment.
"Are you all right?" asked Éomer.
Erestor jumped up on a chair. "Glorfindel is my very best friend!" he proclaimed.
It occurred to me that perhaps Erestor was not hypnotized, was perfectly aware of what he was doing, and was trying desperately to make Éomer suspicious of me. Anyone with common sense would have become suspicious of me.
Éomer had common sense. In fact, –dare I say it?– he had horse sense. Though Erestor was not a horse, Éomer was becoming aware of the fact that Erestor was not quite as well as he said he was.
"I think Erestor and I should discuss something briefly," I said, dragging Erestor down from the chair and hauling him across the room. Erestor grabbed onto the doorframe and refused to let go.
"Oh, Glorfindel, I would love to discuss something with you!" babbled Erestor. "You are such a nice person! My very best friend! How could I have said that you were evil and conniving?"
I yanked him as hard as I could, Erestor's fingers slipped, and we stumbled into the hallway. I shut the door behind us.
"Hello, Glorfindel," said Erestor faintly. "What did you want to talk about?"
"You. Are. Dead," I said, advancing towards him.
Éomer opened the door and peered out at us inquisitively. Erestor flopped down on the ground and lay there.
"Erestor!" cried Éomer.
"I. Am. Dead," said Erestor into the carpet.
He still sounded cheerful. I wondered if I am as annoying when I act cheerful. Probably I am. I started to feel sorry for Elrond.
"I don't think he is well," I said. "I'm going to take him to the infirmary."
Éomer nodded. "That sounds like a good idea."
"It was probably all the sun," I said. "In Harad, you know. It probably affected his mind."
Éomer agreed with me.
Éomer and I carried Erestor to the infirmary. He didn't even twitch.
We put him in an infirmary bed. I said good-bye to Éomer and politely pushed him out the door. Erestor scrambled out of the infirmary bed and yelled, "HELP ME, ÉOMER!" at the top of his lungs when my back was turned.
Unfortunately, Éomer came at a bad moment. I was smothering Erestor with an infirmary pillow.
I did not know what to do, so I yelled, "Pillow fight!" and flung the infirmary pillow at Éomer's head. With this quick action, I accomplished two things. I greatly confused Éomer, and I rid myself of my one available weapon.
Erestor was trying to sit up, so I unobtrusively shoved him down on the bed again. Éomer was standing in the middle of the room, holding the pillow and trying to figure out what was going on. He was clearly wondering if his favorite author was a wimp who couldn't handle a pillow fight, or if Erestor was in serious trouble.
He was in serious trouble, of course, but what was Éomer to know?
I threw another pillow at Éomer, and he got into the spirit of things. He brought his pillow smashing down on my head while still holding onto the pillow corners, a tactic which I do not think is quite fair. Since I was down on the ground, I kicked Éomer's legs out from under him, a tactic which is really not fair, but excusable when I am the one using it.
Éomer and I thrashed around on the ground. I was trying to stand up, and Éomer was trying to stuff a pillow down my throat. I don't know what sort of pillow fights they have in Rohan, but I'm sure it has something to do with the high number of hospitalized Rohirrim.
Erestor was standing far away from us, making unhelpful remarks like, "Can't a Balrog-slayer do better than this?"
"He probably does not want to hurt the King of Rohan too much," drawled a familiar voice in reply.
Celeborn does not like me much, nor I him, but when he strolled into the infirmary, I nearly felt thankful. In a few minutes, Éomer had been persuaded that the pillow fight was just some innocent fun, and that Erestor had never been in any danger. Éomer actually apologized to me, before shuffling away.
"Glorfindel," said Celeborn, "whatever are you doing now?"
I got off the floor. "I was taking care of a few problems," I said stiffly.
"Hmm. It rather looked as though the problems were taking care of you," said Celeborn. "And who is this?" he asked, turning to Erestor. Erestor was standing on the other side of the room, watching us warily.
"That's Erestor," I told Celeborn.
"Galadriel said you were going to hypnotize him."
"Well, it didn't work."
"That much is apparent." Celeborn turned away. "I'll leave you to finish dealing with him," he said, "only please don't do anything stupid, Glorfindel. The Wyze like you best when you aren't making outrageous mistakes."
Celeborn's mission accomplished, he left the room, having saved me from a horrible death at Éomer's hands.
"Your life isn't worth the paper they'll write your obituary on, Erestor," I growled.
Erestor barely flinched. I could not get used to him, not with his tan and his confidence. "Why did you care so much?" he asked. "It was only a book."
Erestor did not understand what a terrible thing he had done.
"I made people think," continued Erestor. "That's all."
Maybe he did understand, actually.
"We were doing our best," I said. "Everyone was happy, until you started making people wonder. And now you've nearly ruined everyth–" I realized what I was saying, and quickly stopped. I wasn't planning on making any more outrageous mistakes.
"I did not want to ruin everything," said Erestor. "I only wanted to expose your lies to the world."
"Erestor," I said, "congratulations. You won this round."
Erestor looked blank.
I opened the door. "Leave," I said, "before the very sight of you causes me to do something violent."
Erestor moved towards the door. He looked back at me. "I won't stop writing," he said.
He saw my expression, and left. Quickly.
Looking back on this, I am glad that I let Erestor go. Killing him would have been another outrageous mistake. Erestor can claim that I tried to kill him, but I can visit a talk show and flirt with the talk show hostess, make clever jokes, smile rakishly, and get away with everything. That is the sort of thing that Erestor cannot do. Still, it would have been harder for even me to do that with Erestor dead in the Imladris infirmary.
Erestor did win. I have high hopes that his victory will be short-lived. Our battle is no longer a physical one; we have entered into a war of credibility. He will write a book, telling the world about what a terrible person I am, and in return, I will smile and be charming. I will write my own book, explaining the sad truth: Erestor is a compulsive liar, suffers from paranoia and illusions, and hates me because I was always better at math.
If I know Erestor, he will publish his denouncement of myself in time to try to ruin my favorite day of the year again. So I have only a few months to write Paranoia and Confusion: An Analytical Look at Erestor and his Works of Fiction.
We will see who the public believes.
There is no doubt in my mind that the 350th Annual Wings Debate will be a memorable occasion for all of us.