With the conclusion of Wandering Encounters, I would like to thank the readers for staying with this series of one-shot chapters. This has been one wild ride, but the journey with Mortar and Gizzard, the black cats, and Gollum isn't over. This prelude has set up some of the events for Reader's Retribution, Part I in The Lord of the Rings Item-Insertion Parody.

Epilogue, One-Shot Chapter 13

The year was 3009, in the Third Age of Middle-earth. Six months had passed since Gizzard last heard word from his eldest brother Mortar, also a black cat. While traveling through the realm called Angmar, in search of a valuable piece of evidence that claimed his brother was still alive, Gizzard gazed up at the cloudy skies above, right as a large crebain climbed down towards the snowy-covered earth.

Gizzard stared at the crebain with curious, bloodshot eyes. He knew this bird had an answer to his problems.

Do you know where my brother Mortar is? Gizzard thought, in hopes of an answer.

At once, the crebain spoke in a cackling voice, "Mortar will soon be dead. No one escapes the black land Mordor alive. Give up on your brother now. The Dark Lord will have captured him." The crebain flew off seconds later, extending his black wings as he climbed higher towards the cloudy skies.

He couldn't believe this news! Was his brother dead? No, thought Gizzard, regaining some sanity.

He understood if Mortar was in a terrible fix. If only he knew where his brother was… anywhere except Mordor.

Swiftly, Gizzard traveled across the realm Angmar. As he reached the same ruined fortress, he had seen weeks earlier, Gizzard stopped a few yards away from a massive winged beast. Astride the fell beast was a rider, cloaked all in black. Gizzard stared petrified at the rider and his beast for a brief moment. When the rider turned to the black cat, the rider allowed him passage before he rode off into the skies above. Once the rider was away from him and his sight, Gizzard charged off towards the skeletal graveyard in front of the ruined fortress.

Gizzard the black cat spent the next two years in Angmar, hoping for his brother's arrival. Every so often, Gizzard thought he saw another black cat, much older by appearance and yet had a rugged stance, cross into the borders of the Shire.

By the year 3017, Gizzard tracked the black cat all the way to the hobbit village called Scary. In a quarry, Gizzard could smell fresh fish from a close distance. As he sniffed the scent of fish through the tunnels of this quarry, Gizzard found the same wandering cat sitting alone by a stone wall, eating some fish in silence. Just as Gizzard was up close to the cat, the black cat whirled around so fast that Gizzard didn't have a second's notice to react.

Who are you and why are you inside my quarry? The black cat thought, snarling back at Gizzard.

Gizzard was petrified. I was just tracking down the fresh fish, and then I saw you. So I thought…

Yeah, I know what you thought. Why not give Mortar the black cat time to panic, so this young bloke can search for the fish he caught? I only eat fish nowadays. I can't eat mice or rabbits, like you "normal" house cats, admitted the black cat, ranting in frustration.

Gizzard was shocked! Was this indeed his brother, long since lost but now returned from the dead? He needed to find out if this was true, and what had happened to Mortar.

Quickly, Gizzard played along with Mortar's rant. Some of us were born this way… as immortals, Mortar. I have that gift, after I stared into our mother's crystal. You wouldn't know since you were, my guess is, corrupted by the One Ring – or what you like to call your scratch toy, thought Gizzard, hoping this would get Mortar's full attention back to him.

Mortar whirled around with a furious look on his face. How do you know who I am and what I am searching for, cat? Answer me!

I am your brother Ester, or more commonly known nowadays as Gizzard. We're still brothers by birth. I only have these bloodshot eyes because of the connection you gave to me eight years ago… you don't know this? Gizzard thought, curious now to hear Mortar's story. Tell me: how did you escape from Mordor and the Dark Lord Sauron?

Don't say his name! Yes, I did escape from that dark tower called Barad-dûr. Sauron let me go, but it was his Witch-king who brought me to Angmar. I barely made it out of Mordor alive, yet Sauron has been good to me ever since I fought for control of the One Ring – my scratch toy – from that meddlesome, gangly creature called Gollum, thought Mortar with an enraged look on his face.

Mortar then gave Gizzard a quizzical, curious look. Do you want to know something, brother? Wouldn't you love to come back with me to Mordor, with the One Ring? Wouldn't you love to use the One Ring against Sauron, and then we could rule this pathetic world together? No one would tell us what to do anymore. We wouldn't have any masters to look after us. We wouldn't have to worry about our parents, brothers, and sisters. You and I would be free from everyone who ever did us wrong.

Gizzard was taken aback. Was this really his brother? He thought something was terribly wrong with his brother. Mortar, we need to go home. We need to get out of this world, before it turns you against those who care about you. We have friends back home and families that love us. Don't you want to see them again? Don't do this. Come back to the light before you are fallen astray…

Mortar stared at Gizzard with a shocked look on his face. Why was his brother telling him lies, when the truth was right in front of them? He had to get away from his brother and the maddening words he brought forth.

Mortar, are you all right? Gizzard asked, hoping his brother was deciding on the right choice.

Mortar glared up at Gizzard a few seconds later. Get out of my quarry, Gizzard. Consider this your final warning: if we cross paths again, we will fight and one of us will die. Now go and leave me to my thoughts. He paused, and then stared furiously at his brother. GET OUT!

Gizzard ran out of the quarry with a bewildered look. Why had his brother done this? Why had he made the warning, when he should have listened to him in the first place? Gizzard knew one of these days Mortar would return to the light, but he had to make his brother see reason. Somehow, somewhere, he needed to find an answer.

Gizzard traveled for weeks, not knowing whether or not his brother Mortar was following him. Sooner than he expected, Gizzard made it at last to Hobbiton. As he climbed up the road towards the top of the Hill, Gizzard was caught off-guard by the sight of his brother. Before Mortar caught a glimpse of him, Gizzard fled behind a bush.

Just as the front green door to Bag End had opened, Mortar the black cat slipped inside the smial, in the thickening darkness outside. No one had seen him, and that was just the way he wanted things. However, Mortar the black cat knew he would repay Gizzard for his treachery, even if their last battle ended in blood. He was unaware that Gizzard was already working on a plan to make him see the lighter side of the world, its people, and its creatures.

Mortar knew, as well as Gizzard, one day soon they would have to face each other again. In the meantime, Mortar fled in the study behind the writing desk, where he thought he would be safe. How long could he stay in hiding from the Ring-bearer, who now had the Ring - his scratch toy? He had only days to wait before a wizard dressed in a grey hat and robes would appear on the doorstep of the smial, asking the Ring-bearer whether or not the Ring was kept secret and safe.