I do realise that I meant to reveal the identity of the Nanny in the last chapter – however, it'd been so long since I wrote the first A/N of said chapter, I completely missed it in my reread. [sighs] Suffice it to say I'll be rectifying that slip in this chapter.
Warning: Slightly more descriptive gore than is usual. Language, probably. MarySues.
Disclaimer: I don't own LoTR or its characters. I own Koss but not her original concept. I own Neena and Muffin and Evilman. The Nanny owns himself.
Oh, yes. Himself.
There was a very good reason for this sigh. No, it was not because of any problems he was facing; not because he'd lost a family member, not because he'd hit a dead end in his Necromancy (yes, you may laugh at the pun), not because he'd run out of food. Quite frankly, the number of times he'd done something without first considering the implications and/or other options – well, those could be counted on a single human hand.
He had one of those in his bag, if you wanted.
Back to the point, the sigh he'd released had been carefully executed. The depth, duration and intonation were calculated beforehand; the right amount of forlornness had gone into the set of his jaw and the angle of his eyebrows. He'd even rested his chin on his palm, for Whosever's sake!
And then a twig snapped.
Smiling now would break the act, so Maladictus kept his expression as it was, even as the fluorescent pink-and-orange monstrosity moved in the corner of his vision. The voice that broke the silence was no less loud.
"Do you, like, need help?"
He gasped, loudly and pointedly, before looking up.
As expected, the woman who'd appeared was lovely. If by 'lovely' one meant 'blond, big bosomed, and indecently dressed', then she was very lovely indeed. She had a strung bow on her back but no quiver, and no arrows. Her tunic – because that was not enough fabric for a dress – was pink, which clashed with her orange skin.
Yeah. Orange skin.
"Who are you, fair lady, to sneak up on me?"
She brought her hand up to cover her mouth as she giggled girlishly. "My name's Thorina Lokisdaughter. My parents are gods and so I'm a goddess with Powers™. I am here on Middle-Earth because I am seeking my one true love. He is currently under the spell of t3h evil Sauron so I must save him so we can kiss and get married and stuff."
Maladictus' initial reaction was to raise his eyebrow, but he restrained himself. He'd gotten this far, after all.
"Who're you?" Thorina asked, simpering.
"You can call me Mal," he said, inwardly wincing at that moniker. Then he artfully cast his gaze downwards and sighed again.
He could immediately feel concern wafting from Thorina like a fog. "What's wrong, Mal?"
"Oh, it's…" Maladictus shook his head, the corners of his lips quirked upwards slightly. (Needless to say, those particular muscles weren't used very often. The smiling muscles, not the head-shaking ones.) "It's nothing, really. You should continue on your way. My problems aren't important."
His wording, as he'd reasoned, was perfect. She tottered closer to him, "No, tell me. I'm sure I can help you in some way."
"Well, only if you want…"
"I do!" The flash of Thorina's teeth almost blinded him as she smiled. "I am a valorous helper of the meek, after all!"
Again reining in his instincts (this time telling him to smite her where she stood), he stared off into the distance wistfully. "You see, I am a good magician." He said this secure in the knowledge that his glamour (of non-threatening blond hair and blue eyes) was in place. "But an evil person stole my powers. To get them back I need a goddess to take part in a ritual with me." Shaking his head mournfully, he added, "But it's impossible. I don't know any goddesses. I'll never get my powers back."
She scrunched up her face in an 'attractive' fashion. "Wait, Mal. Wait! Don't you get it?"
Oh, yes. She'd fallen for it, hook, line, and sinker. "Get what, Thorina?"
"Call me Jenny." She expertly flipped her tresses over one shoulder. "I'm a goddess, silly! I can help you!"
Maladictus let his mouth fall open. "You are so brilliant, Thorina – I mean, Jenny."
Another vapid giggle. "I know! So, I have to, like, do this ritual thing with you and you'll get your powers back?"
"Yes." Before she could follow up with another question, he pointed to the centre of the clearing they were in. "All you have to do is stand there."
Without pausing to question his motives, she followed his instructions, flouncing in ridiculous high heels. She twirled prettily and smiled at him while batting her long eyelashes. "You know, you're kinda cute."
His smile was somewhat pained. He then put out his hand, palm facing her.
She smiled and frowned at the same time, resulting in an odd rictus of an expression. "What are you –"
She never got to complete the question. Maladictus had closed his fingers into a fist, and now all that was left of her was a coating of blood and guts across the forest floor. That, and the undamaged liver in his hands.
It'd been a long time since he'd had liver for dinner. Too long.
It was unfortunate for Maladictus that he arrived in Minas Tirith the day after the last of the new recruits had been accepted into the SoS. He'd been delayed by a vehicular problem. His horse had died – of natural causes, actually – and he'd had to hitch a ride on the back of a cart belonging to a nearby brewery.
The endless swaying throughout the journey had not helped his mood any. Still, it wasn't the fault of the cart driver that he was late, so he paid the man as promised, and went to find himself an inn for the night. He was reasonably certain that there would be a place in Sauron's ranks for someone with his services – and if not, he'd just continue on with his travels.
He walked along the streets with the hood of his navy cloak pulled up. Maladictus didn't find it a particularly chilly morning (although it had to be said that it was quite cool for this time of year), nor was he hiding from anyone. It was more that people were quite keen on staring at him if he chose to forego the hood.
Admittedly, parchment-white skin lined with black veins wasn't the usual complexion someone would expect. Lightning sorcerers (that were currently dabbling in Necromancy) weren't very common, after all.
What Maladictus didn't know was that the citizens of Minas Tirith were pretty blasé on the whole with 'odd-looking' creatures walking in their midst. Theirs was a city that was constantly awash with MarySues, after all.
At any rate, Maladictus soon found an inn that was to his liking. Locate on the sixth level, it was called The Spider's Venom and was a relatively new tavern in the White City, established after Sauron's victory. Possibly it'd been named in honour of (the late) Shelob.
Nursing a disappointingly bloodless Bloody MarySue, Maladictus sat at the bar and listened in on the happenings of the City.
It felt like years since he'd entered any sort of large city. It probably had been years. To be fair, Maladictus hadn't had much of an inclination to do so, seeing as he was perfectly happy wandering in the wild. During his many years of travel in Middle-Earth, he had developed a more than adequate set of survival skills.
Now, standing amongst Humans and Elves and the odd Dwarf or Hobbit – it was almost surreal. Suffocating. He'd be worried about socialising if such a thing was even important to him. (It wasn't, just so you know. Books and corpses weren't much in the way of conversation, so he'd never felt any kind of lack before.) Instead he watched people interact with each other and tried to pick out new language nuances and slangs that he'd missed from living away from the city. It would make it easier for him to deal with the inhabitants of Minas Tirith.
Overhearing that there was a smith on this level, not far from the inn, Maladictus recalled that he'd wanted to get his armour looked at – there was only so much magic could help with. Apparently the owner was involved in some sort of scandal – information which could come in handy when bargaining for a price.
Not that Maladictus was stingy. He just had strong beliefs on how much he was willing to pay for things.
As he continued listening, it seemed that most of the talk was centred on the SoS recruitments – most of the patrons of the Spider's Venom being either new members or veterans of the SoS. (Let it not be said that Evil didn't like to kick back once in awhile.) But back to the subject at hand, apparently there had been more than a few MarySues at the trials, trying to be 'recruited' to 'sneak into the ranks' and rescue their hero(es) of choice.
Needless to say, they had been slaughtered with ruthless efficiency.
Maladictus shook his head. He truly did not understand the point of those creatures. He knew that they tended to transcend Logic and had a special evil of their own (not to be confused with Evil, which was an altogether respectable line of occupation). He had come across more than a few in his travels (Thorina had not been the first). The more disturbing experiences had been ones in which they'd tried to ensnare him – there was one particular scenario involving what were apparently Earth sailor outfits that made him shudder – but Maladictus had long abandoned any appreciation for aesthetics, whether or not it concerned the living.
Their livers, whenever he managed to attain them, were savoured all the more because of the satisfaction in killing them.
He also couldn't help but note the one name that was mentioned almost as often as the Dark Lord's; someone called Koss. An odd name, to be sure. It appeared that she was some sort of overling (as opposed to underling), on par with the Ringwraiths and in charge of dispatching MarySues. Maladictus listened to one Easterlings' recount of how she'd dealt with a Warrior!Sue with the creative application of a spoon and some string. He was, in spite of himself, impressed. Perhaps, if the Dark Lord had no use of his services, he could offer them to this Koss.
If not, then… he would see to his armour first. Perhaps purchase new clothes, if there was any quality cloth to be had in the City. He would have to look for a new horse – assuming that there were any to his tastes (and not literally, don't be stupid, he didn't eat horse if he could help it) that wouldn't shy away from him. Horses tended to dislike those of his profession.
Where, then, would he go? There was always Far Harad. He had not been to those lands yet – perhaps he could snag a guide while in Minas Tirith. He had seen one or two about. In which case, it would be better to abandon the idea of purchasing a horse – he'd just go to the harbour and see if there was a ship bound for a suitably close destination. Perhaps there would be another sorcerer in those foreign lands, someone to share ideas with. It would be refreshing, to be sure. Despite not needing or wanting company, Maladictus believed that it would be mutually beneficial. Or potentially so.
He was brought back to the present by a sudden spike in sound - apparently the person who had just entered the inn was known by many, and they greeted him enthusiastically. The Avari obligingly nodded and clasped forearms with a few of them, before making his way to the bar. He was dressed from head-to-toe in drab brown clothes, which went well with his nondescript face and hair. A smart choice - it was better to blend into the background. Maladictus would have to remember his face and mannerisms, for use in a future glamour. It never hurt to be prepared.
The Avari motioned for a drink.
"What're you doin' here, Maethorthent?"
Maladictus snorted quietly to himself. The name was certainly apt. (1)
The barman continued, "Thought you had duties on Saturdays."
The Avari arched an eyebrow. "I am on duty."
"The Dark Lord payin' you to drink on His time?" The barman laughed, pushing a half-pint of beer across the bar, some of it slopping onto the wood.
"I have to deliver these," came the reply, and Maethorthent unearthed a stack of flyers from the bag he'd slung over his shoulder. "Here, you can take some of them, give them to whoever's interested."
The Man took the topmost one, lips moving as he read its contents. His eyes widened. "You can't be serious."
"It is what it is."
"But…who would even answer these? That, that thing is a monster!"
Maladictus' curiosity was piqued at this point. But he held his tongue for the time being.
Maethorthent took a careful sip of his beer. "That could be considered treason, Ceddry." He laughed nastily at the way the Man's face blanched. "Not that I would report it. But it's best you hold your tongue about His daughter."
"I'll keep it in mind." He replaced the piece of parchment. "Still think you'd have to be insane to apply, though. Or suicidal. Or both."
"May I?" Maladictus didn't wait for an answer, instead reaching for a flyer. It was simple enough, and to the point. Underneath the print of the Dark Lord Sauron (the detail was surprisingly good) were the words:
EYE want YOU
To take up the post of ROYAL NANNY
Taking care of Neena Sueling
(She's really cute, just a bit of a handful)
Applications to be sent to Frodo Baggins
(i.e. Nazgûl no. 9 ¾)
A job application. How fortuitous. If Maladictus had been the type to thank gods, he would have done so right then. As it was, he didn't even give the Valar a passing thought, and instead folded the flyer neatly so he could tuck it into his vambrace (2) for temporary safekeeping.
When he looked up, Ceddry the barman was staring at him. (Maethorthent was trying to foist some flyers onto the woman that'd just arrived.)
"I assume Neena Sueling is Lord Sauron's daughter."
Ceddry's eyes seemed to bulge even more, if that was possible. "You don't know that? Where've you been livin', under a rock?"
"Here and there."
"Anyway, aye, she's His daughter. Knee high to a grasshopper, but more dangerous'n a pack of Wargs." He shot Maladictus an appraising look with his one good eye. "You're pretty brave to be considering it at all."
"Or suicidal, or insane."
Ceddry didn't bother with looking abashed. "If you knew what she got up to, you'd understand. And you'd ride out of the White City as soon as possible."
"A little difficult, seeing as I am currently without a horse."
Rolled eyes. Sorry, eye. "No need to get smart-mouthed, sirrah. Man with that cut o' cloth should be able to buy one of Troasien's steeds. Imports her horses from Rohan, she does."
"I'm sure." Maladictus tapped his glass to signal a refill. "Have you actually seen her?" He considered the mental capacity of his interlocutor, and then considered his word choice. "Have you seen Neena Sueling, I mean."
"Aye. I've seen her. Back when I had two eyes."
Maethorthent butted into the conversation by snorting loudly. "Yes, but you lost your right one because you left your spoon in your mug. Quit trying to spook him."
"It could'a just as likely been her fault. Or that Warg of hers."
"I've told you," the Avari said with the air of someone tired of being patient, "it's not a Warg, it's a Wawg."
Maladictus raised an eyebrow. "And a Wawg is?"
Their response almost made the sorcerer sigh. It was just a question.
"Where're you from, stranger?"
Maladictus carefully and casually placed the palm of one hand flat against the top of the bar. Just in case of any negative reaction to his answer. "Angband."
There was (relative) silence for awhile, before Maethorthent smiled. "A Wawg is what you get when you combine a Warg and a Spider." He placed a few Eyes (3) beside his empty tankard. "I have more flyers to deliver. I hope to see you on the morrow, stranger." He gave a short bow to Maladictus (who nodded), and raised a hand in farewell to Ceddry.
"How exactly," asked Maladictus slowly, "does one combine a Warg and a Spider?" His mind helpfully tried to supply an image of the process, but failed.
Ceddry smirked. "Rethinking your decision?"
"Hardly." Maladictus drained the rest of his drink. "I like a challenge." This would've been an appropriate time to smile roguishly, but Maladictus did not. Instead, he asked, "Do you have a free room?"
Meeting the 9 ¾th Ringwraith was interesting, to say the least. It did gall Maladictus that he be called up to the highest level of the White City, just to be asked a few questions. He did understand that it was probably to manage all the applicants (there'd been quite a few, despite Ceddry the barman's disparaging attitude), but that didn't mean that he felt like his time was being wasted.
He had been at the seamstress's shop that afternoon when the messenger stopped by. (The woman was obsessed with coin, so she was perfectly happy to deal with Maladictus, despite his outward appearance and general aura of death. And by death it is to be inferred that he was dangerous, and not that he stunk of rotting flesh.)
Ceddry grunted at him. "This came for you, sirrah."
Maladictus picked up the folded parchment Ceddry had shoved across the bar. He picked off the black wax seal, eyebrows rising as he read what'd been written inside. So. He'd been shortlisted.
He took back what he'd thought about his potential employers. This response was actually faster than he'd ever imagined.
"Well?" Ceddry demanded nosily.
Maladictus looked up. He'd almost forgotten he wasn't alone. "I'll be staying another night."
More questioned. He'd been called for more questions.
Maladictus would have been more annoyed if it hadn't been clear that the shortlisting had reduced the applicant count to three. Three.
He had been shown to this nondescript room by an eyebrow-waggling Maethorthent. Maladictus had fervently ignored this 'pleasantry'. The Avari had left him alone for what seemed like half an hour, and Maladictus was starting to get a little antsy.
It was a good thing that that was when the window exploded.
Within seconds, Maladictus was in half-crouched position, a half-formed pattern of magic held in his head. When the glass and the dust settled, he almost groaned.
"You are an evil wizard," she announced, arms akimbo as she shook her long, cerulean tresses so they cascaded down her back.
"And you are a MarySue," he retorted flatly, straightening. Really, couldn't he have been given more of a challenge?
"I am not MarySue!" She sounded insulted, a fact which Maladictus really didn't care about. "My name is Isabella Kimberlee del'Ortollio Sapphire Quiana Running Deer. I come from a tragic background, for my stepmother –"
"You know," Maladictus interrupted, "I really don't give a censored."
Isabella looked like she was going to collapse in shock. "You dare insult me, evildoer?"
He pursed his lips and decided not to endanger his IQ level further by responding. He instead threw a bolt of lightning at her.
She blocked it. That was – that was impossible. She'd moved fast, too fast, faster than any human or Elf had any right to be. As soon as he thought this, Maladictus wanted to roll his eyes. Of course she was faster than human/Elvish-ly possible. She was a censored-ing MarySue.
No matter. He could deal with a shield-toting MarySue, rare though those were.
Thing was, though, being a lightning sorcerer, his attacks were primarily force casting. Ranged attacks, basically, which meant that it was easy for Isabella Kimberlee blah blah to block and then dance out of the way while saying something inanely 'witty'.
They made him want to pull out his teeth.
He couldn't even resort to Necromancy. He needed to prepare sigils and painted pebbles and animal blood and –
Maladictus threw himself down on the ground, gritting his teeth. It was a pity he hadn't progressed far enough in his studies to just kill her where she stood.
"Wow you are a terrible wizard man – it's so surprising you are not dead yet! Ha-ha!" She twirled her broadsword single handed, managing to not severely injure her wrist in any way. "Now I will smite you and claim my rightful claim to the throne of Middle-Earth."
Alright. This had gone on for too long.
He set off several streams of fire in quick succession, enough to make Isabel (Isabella?) stagger back a step. While she was distracted, Maladictus leapt on her, his long, curved boot knife in hand.
At least her blood was normal, he thought – red and thick and warm as it spurted from the stab wounds he was making in her neck. His knee was hurting where he was resting it against her jewel-encrusted shield, but he didn't care. All his attention was on the dying light in her eyes, on the noises she made as she choked on her own blood, on severing her head clean off her shoulders.
He even hacked off her hair when it got too matted and started sticking everywhere.
The door opened. The Ringwraith Frodo entered, flanked by two Goblins. With his hood back, it was easy to see the smile on the ex-Hobbit's face.
Maladictus got to his feet slowly, Isabella's head in one hand and his knife in the other. Both were dripping.
"Very good," said Frodo. "Nanny."
(1) Maethorthent is a Sindarin name that means 'short warrior'.
(2) Vambraces are (one of) the forearm guards of medieval armour. Maladictus wears vambraces but not gauntlets. He wears heavy leather gloves instead.
(3) If you've forgotten, Eyes are the currency of Mordor. Minas Tirith has adopted it since His reign.
This is unbetaed. And late. Have I mentioned how late my chapters are? Well, I don't have to, seeing as you guys can figure it out all by your lonesome.
So, yes. Thank you again to all of you who applied to be Royal Nanny, but as you can see, Maladictus here is the one chosen. Skykhanhunter on ffnet, if you were wondering.
As you probably read in the previous chapter, I'm in uni. Currently in third year, so that's an indicator of how long it's been between chapters. My bad. Hoping for more Evilman next chapter. I have plans – plans, I tell you!
As always, reviews are appreciated. Wanted. NEEDED. Thank you for sticking with this, if you have, and thank you for reading it all the same.
P.S. I'm currently doing an epic rewrite of the entire fic, so that everything fits better with my current writing style. I'm hoping to also get rid of any plotholes. Fingers cross.