Disclaimer: I own nothing pertaining to The Lord of the Rings. This story was written for entertainment purposes only.
Author's Note: This fanfic will complete the 'Balrog Conspiracy' Trilogy. If you have not read The Great Balrog Conspiracy and Among the Mumakil already, Wyze Lies will not make much sense, if any.
I can't promise regular updates, but they shouldn't be too far apart timewise. It depends on how often I can get to a computer.
Warning: This is totally AU.
I am Erestor, the famous author and conspiracy theorist, and I never imagined that my life would turn out this way. Do not think I am being modest when I say this. No one else imagined it either, because I was an Elf that no one really noticed. Once upon a time, I was practically invisible, and happy to be that way.
Of course, once upon a time, I was also naïve, clueless, and pathetic. I managed to keep my stupidity hidden for a while, until the 348th Annual Wings Debate, when I rashly declared to the world my belief that Balrogs do not exist.
Have you heard of the Annual Wings Debate? I am sure you have. It is the most depressing event of the year. On that day, Elves from all over Middle-earth gather in Imladris to 'discuss' the so-called Eternal Question: Do Balrogs have wings or not? These debates tend to become vicious and violent, so I was lucky to get away from several hundred enraged scholars with all my limbs and bones intact. They hated the thought that Balrogs might actually not exist. It would have meant that hundreds of years of arguing had been a pointless waste of time.
I wrote a book (Wings: The Great Balrog Conspiracy) in which I accused a group of Elves known as 'the Wyze' of concealing the truth from the general public for years. After all, one of the Wyze was Glorfindel the Balrog-slayer, who could have answered the Eternal Question if he had been so inclined – and if he had actually encountered a Balrog, which he hadn't, because there are no such things as Balrogs.
This accusation made Glorfindel annoyed. Silly me, to not have realized ahead of time that Glorfindel would be annoyed. When Glorfindel gets annoyed with people, he threatens them, drugs them, burns their books, makes them miserable, and eventually sends assassins after them. I know this from personal experience, though I wish I didn't.
I fled to Far Harad. I wrote another book (Among the Mûmakil: The Adventures of an Elven Fugitive Living in Far Harad). In this book, I restated my belief in the nonexistence of Balrogs, as well as attacked the Wyze for holding their fellow Elves in ignorance. Glorfindel was even more annoyed. He abducted me, tried to hypnotize me, and, when that failed, tried to smother me with a pillow.
He could have killed me, but he let me go. I still cannot understand why.
I went to Eryn Lasgalen, where I had been writing a book on alien abduction with the help of Prince Legolas. I apologized to him, because I would not be able to finish the book. Glorfindel had unintentionally given me some of the answers to my questions. I knew that I had to write one more book for my series.
I went to Minas Tirith, hoping I would be safe there. King Elessar couldn't afford to let an Elf get murdered on his doorstep. It would be very bad PR.
While I was compiling information for my own volume, Glorfindel made it known that he too was writing a book. Its title was Paranoia and Confusion: An Analytical Look at Erestor and his Works of Fiction, which may give you some insight into its contents. Even before it was published, it was practically a bestseller. Glorfindel is interviewed constantly, being such a wonderful, likable person, and he made sure to mention his book as often as he could.
Whenever Glorfindel was interviewed on television, I forced myself to watch. I knew that Glorfindel and I would meet again, and I wanted to be ready for the inevitable confrontation. I wished that Glorfindel had not taken it upon himself to be one of the Wyze; he should have been an actor, and won a multitude of awards for his work. The bright, bubbly, innocent Glorfindel most know and love is very different from the deadly, conniving Glorfindel I have learned to fear.
"You have your enemies," the interviewer told Glorfindel once. (She sounded shocked, as if Glorfindel had had nothing to do with making said enemies. I'm sure that if the rest of Glorfindel's enemies are like me, they feel lucky to be alive.) "Erestor, for example, constantly attacks you in his books," she continued. (At least I attacked Glorfindel in a book. Glorfindel tended to attack me in person.) "How do you feel about that?" she asked.
Glorfindel got an expression on his face that was partly hurt and partly amused, like that of a kicked puppy planning revenge. He shrugged. "I can't expect everyone to like me," he said simply. "Yes, it bothers me when people lie about my character, but I know that others will always think the best of me." He flashed the camera a perfect smile.
I was drinking tea when I watched that particular interview, and at Glorfindel's sweet little comment, I snorted so incredulously that I nearly inhaled the tea up my nose.
Somehow Glorfindel wrote hisbook in between interviews, and somehow I wrote my own book in between watching said interviews. I did not have the time to worry about gaining publicity, and anyway, I knew that the sight of myself simpering into a camera would send people running for their therapists, not running to camp outside bookstores, waiting for my book to come out. That was what Glorfindel's fans were doing, except obviously they were waiting for Glorfindel's book to come out, not mine.
My book (Wyze Lies: The Necessary Myth of the Balrog-Slayers) was to be released into the wild –to the public, I mean– on the same day as Glorfindel's book. Incidentally, this day was the same day as the 350th Annual Wings Debate. We were both being clever. I was trying to ruin the Annual Wings Debate, and Glorfindel was trying to counterbalance my efforts. I wanted everyone to be reading Wyze Lies instead of debating, and Glorfindel had decided that if people were going to be reading instead of debating, then they should be reading his book, not mine.
Now that Sauron has been defeated, a book war between two Elves was the most exciting thing happening in Middle-earth, so it was getting plenty of media coverage. Too much, in my opinion. It made me ill. I couldn't go anywhere without seeing at least a dozen posters of Glorfindel plastered over every available wall, bulletin board, and parked car.
There were posters of me, of course. They were worse. I cringed every time I saw them, which fortunately was not often. I began to wonder if people were lurking everywhere, waiting for me to do something outrageous so that they could obtain photographic proof of my insanity.
The sad truth is this: I look too ordinary to be insane. I'm not an exceptionally beautiful Elf like Legolas, Elrond, or Glorfindel, and I have black hair and grey eyes like most of the Noldor. I have managed to maintain the tan I obtained in Far Harad, however, which makes me stand out to some extent. But I do not stand out enough to be considered insane.
Anyway, if people start believing I am crazy, they will have to believe all the Noldor are more or less demented, because we bear a rather scary resemblance to each other, and we tend to subconsciously mimic each other in our mannerisms and speech.
I am well aware that some people already believe the Noldor are demented, and, to be honest, I am tempted to agree with them. However, I do not plan on expanding my un-fanbase at the moment, so I'm going to keep quiet on that count. I can handle only so many death threats at a time.
This is all a digression. Though others speculated about my mental health, I was more worried about other, slightly more important things, like the possible termination of my life. I am naturally a paranoid Elf. I was paranoid before everyone was out to get me, which gave me practice for the real thing. I knew what to do in the event of an emergency/attempted assassination. I spent a lot of my nights in my closet, with a makeshift decoy on my bed, hoping that any assassins sent to kill me would be of the More Brawn Than Brains variety.
There were no assassins. For a while, I was certain that someone out there was trying to lull me into a false sense of security. Then I began to wonder if the someone out there had decided I was insignificant, not even worth killing. Being sleep-deprived and illogical, I was almost disappointed, almost hurt.
I do not know how many writers have nearly stopped writing because they felt a lack of assassins was a bad thing. I was so used to being threatened and abducted and almost killed that this sudden, surprising lack of feedback disheartened me. I reminded myself that it was better for my feelings to be hurt than for myself to be dead, but I remained somewhat unpersuaded. Probably this effect was what Glorfindel intended, or perhaps he was busily writing his book and hadn't had the time to hire some decent killers to get the job done.
I always wonder if I give Glorfindel too much credit. Maybe he seems scarier and more evil than he actually is. Can I honestly blame every paranoid thought that has crossed my mind on some cunning plan of his? How could Glorfindel have predicated that I was going to hide in a closet every night, and then feel devastated when no one came to smother me in my sleep? He couldn't have known that. There's no way. Glorfindel, thank the Valar, is not omniscient.
However, I would not be surprised if Glorfindel had managed to hide small video cameras in my room. I was probably under constant surveillance those days. I probably kept Glorfindel very amused, and provided him with plenty of material for his book about how pathetic and confused and paranoid I am.
I dreaded the publication of Glorfindel's book. I imagined a thousand and one scenarios in which it destroyed my career, bolstered my career, and hurt or helped me in every way conceivable. My favorite daydream was the one in which the book was so ridiculous that Glorfindel became a laughingstock overnight and my own views at once appeared more reasonable to the public eye. I knew this was a foolish hope of mine, but I fostered it anyway.
This particular chapter in my life begins with my surprise encounter with a fan.
All my encounters with fans came as a surprise. I knew in theory some people did not think I was completely off my rocker, but I was always startled to meet such people. Also, my fans had an unnerving way of jumping out at me and begging me to support their causes.
This particular fan was called Beregond.
As was the peculiar habit of those who agreed with my theories, Beregond introduced himself to me by lunging at me from where he had been lurking behind an automobile. He grabbed my arm and yanked me into a dark alley.
I thought I was about to be brutally murdered, and immediately acted on this assumption. Unfortunately for Beregond, I had been taking self-defense classes for some time.
"Mercy, mercy!" wheezed Beregond after a few lively moments. "I'm a fan of your books! Don't hurt me!"
"Oh," I gasped, letting go of his arm, which I had skillfully managed to twist behind his back. "I'm so sorry. I thought I was being attacked."
My assailant rubbed his injured appendage ruefully. "I'm Beregond," he said. "I've read all your books."
"I've only written two," I said.
"But I've read all of them," Beregond replied. "They are wonderful! They shed such light on the machinations of those in authority! Thanks to you, I've become an anarchist!"
"An anarchist?" I echoed, stunned.
Beregond nodded. I think he expected me to congratulate him.
"You don't... look like an anarchist," I said cautiously. I had always thought of anarchists as appearing rather scruffy and disreputable.
"You don't look like a conspiracy theorist," retorted Beregond. "I am flouting social conventions by being an anarchist who looks exactly like everyone else. I thought you were doing the same."
I liked his explanation. It made me feel good to realize I could be flouting social conventions by appearing to follow them. If I had been slightly more wild-eyed and fanatical-looking, I would have been doing what everyone expected of me. By looking like all the other Noldor, I was making an important statement.
"Yes, I suppose I'm doing the same thing," I said. "Did you want to speak with me?"
Beregond nodded. He thrust a copy of Among the Mûmakil at me. "Would you autograph this, please?" he asked politely.
"Certainly," I replied. "Do you have pen and ink?"
Beregond did. He had come prepared, and fortunately I had not broken his ink bottle while defending myself from his attack. Beregond held the ink bottle for me, and I signed the book for him.
"Now," said Beregond, "to business." He began looking around nervously, and at last he leaned close to me and hoarsely whispered, "Tread carefully, Erestor. King Elessar plans to join the ranks of the Wyze."
"What?" I cried.
"It is true," whispered Beregond. "His foster father, the Elf-lord of Rivendell, extended the invitation to him last week. The King will take part in an ancient initiation ritual, and then he too will actively engage in stamping out you and all your writings."
"He has not done anything to me yet," I said, "and I'm right before his eyes. He knows I live in Minas Tirith."
"His apathy towards you will soon end," said Beregond. "It must end. The Wyze would not let him become one of them if he did not subscribe to their beliefs and causes."
I knew this was true.
"I wanted to warn you," said Beregond. "It's all I can do. I won't be able to overthrow the government before the king becomes one of Them."
Beregond slipped away silently. I noticed he had acquired a limp, and felt bad for stomping on his foot, even if it had been an act of self-defense.
I stepped out of the dark alley, and somewhere in the crowded street, someone made an incoherent roaring noise. Someone screamed. (I've noticed that someone alwaysscreams.) The crowd parted rapidly. A small, fuzzy object came barreling towards me, swinging an axe.
"Libelous wretch!" bellowed the Dwarf.
Minas Tirith has a lot of trees growing along the side of its streets. A result of the Elven influence, I think. They provide shade in the summer, leaves in the autumn, striking subjects for photography in the winter, and a refuge for desperate Elves in times of adversity.
I don't think I ever climbed a tree as fast as I did then. I practically flew up it.
"Come down!" yelled the Dwarf.
"Not likely!" I said.
"Not so brave now, eh?" asked the Dwarf. "Not so brave now that you don't have a book to hide behind!"
I hoped that if he were making a point, it would be merely a verbal one. Accusations of cowardice did not offend me. It seemed only fair. I was up a tree, after all.
While I didn't mind being accused of cowardice, I didmind being hacked to pieces by a demented Dwarf.
"Gimli! Don't!" cried Legolas, rushing towards the small, hairy creature that was, for some reason, a good friend of his.
The crowd demonstrated its twisted priorities at that moment by turning their backs on my dire predicament, and charging at Legolas, begging him for an autograph, a scrap of his clothing, or some other token of his esteem. From my lofty perch, I watched as my only hope of rescue was swallowed by the mob.
The tree shook.
Dwarves, you must understand, can climb trees.
The tree shook again.
The thing is, they don't like to climb trees, especially when they have an axe in hand.
The tree shook again.
"May I ask why you are doing this?" I asked, clinging to a branch and trying to keep my composure. My teeth rattled in my head with each blow.
Gimli paused. "All right," he said, lowering his axe. "I suppose you deserve to know."
I nodded. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Legolas going under for the third time. Evidently not much help would be coming from that particular front.
"You implied that the Lady Galadriel is involved in a vast conspiracy!" said Gimli. "You implied that she is conniving and treacherous!"
"Oh," thought I. Then, as I saw an Elf stroll down the street towards my tree, the crowd parting in front of him and his followers in tow, my thoughts became even more negative. In fact, at that moment, I couldn't think of a way my situation could become worse.
"Master Dwarf," Glorfindel said enthusiastically, "I'm delighted to see you! Lady Galadriel sends you her greetings."
Thus he endeared himself to Gimli.
Glorfindel reached the tree and peered up it, a very fake (but nearly convincing) expression of curiosity on his face. I looked down, feeling ill. I had imagined our meeting, but I had not dreamed it would be like this, not even in my frequent nightmares.
"Well, well, well," said my nemesis, looking up at me and smirking. "What have we here?"
"That's Erestor," said Gimli helpfully, standing at his elbow, "the one who wrote Those Books."
To my horror, Glorfindel's smirk widened. "Is it really?" he murmured, and his sycophants sniggered and elbowed each other.
I tried to make the best of the situation, but it was difficult. I did not want to climb down the tree, in case Gimli attacked me again. However, remaining in the tree was becoming more and more unpleasant, and I was beginning to feel somewhat mortified.
Fortunately, Legolas was distracting most of crowd. It could have been worse. I could have had half the population of Gondor standing under my tree gaping at me.
"I would love to speak with you," said Glorfindel. "I suppose you aren't going to come down?"
I shook my head.
"Well, then, I'll come up," said Glorfindel, and before I could attempt to dissuade him, he bounded gracefully up the tree, swift and spry as a squirrel.
"Do you really want to be photographed in a tree with me?" I asked, nodding in the direction of the excited tourists, who, armed with the cameras on their mobile phones, were pushing through the group of Glorfindel's adherents.
"I don't mind," said Glorfindel. He sat on the branch beside me, somehow managing to look comfortable and relaxed, while I gingerly edged away from him. The branch dipped slightly. "Some of my supporters believe that you would try to stab me in the back if you could, and I am sure some of your supporters think I would attempt to murder you in the same way, so it is best that we converse in plain view of both groups."
"I dislike stabbing people," I replied. "I much prefer pushing my enemies out of trees."
Glorfindel just laughed.
"It's quite a long drop," I told him.
"For me, a long drop has never been a cause for worry," said Glorfindel.
"So," I asked, "what did you want to tell me?"
"Only that I'm looking forward to the day of the 350th Annual Wings Debate," said Glorfindel. "Looking forward to it greatly."
"So am I," I said. "Only a week to wait now."
"Very good." Glorfindel nodded approvingly. "You used to be such a spineless Elf, but you have become a more worthy opponent every year. I will enjoy reading your book."
"And I will enjoy reading yours," I shot back. "I look forward to seeing what lies you have invented about me."
"Better lies than the ones you invented about me," snapped Glorfindel.
"Oh, I don't know about that," I said. "The truth can be painful."
"Perhaps," said Glorfindel, before adding reflectively, "We never thought you would make such an impact. You have emerged from the very depths of obscurity and are now completely infamous. You must be so proud."
I don't know how Glorfindel manages to make me feel so inferior, but he does manage it, on a regular basis and with insulting ease.
"And now you have reached the very pinnacle of fame, the zenith of your career. Marvelous. I'm happy for you. ...But you know what they say." Glorfindel offered me a lazy smile, leaned close, and whispered into my ear, "Hasty climbers have sudden falls."
Before I could form any coherent reply, Glorfindel leapt from the tree, landing easily on both feet, crouching, with one hand touching the ground for balance. He stood gracefully, brushing his yellow hair away from his face and smiling at the astonishment of his followers.
I was equally astonished. I gaped down at him, unable to believe what I had just witnessed. Glorfindel had not looked to see if there was anyone underneath the tree. He had assumed that everyone would get out of his way, and they had. Such an action communicated volumes about his personality.
"As I said," Glorfindel said gently, "I have never had to worry about long drops." He was quiet for a moment, looking at the ground. I couldn't see his expression, but I knew he was smirking. At last, having regained control of his features, he glanced up at me, expression innocent.
"I haven't had to worry," he said, " but perhaps you should."