DarthMihi pulled the laptop onto her knees and clicked it open. Color blossomed across the shiny black screen as it whirred to life. Sauron watched in awed silence as she typed in her password and brought up a new tab. She needed to check her FF account. She glanced at the page and sighed. No new PMs... no updated fics... No new reviews... In short, there was Nothing New Under the Sun, and consequently, Mihi was bored.
This did not bode well for the universe at large.
Then she remembered that she had a former(?) dark lord sitting on the arm-rest, and everyone knows that former dark lords are a wonderful cure for boredom. Mihi, being the crafty and irresponsible girl she was, decided it was a good idea to make said erstwhile Doer of Dark Deeds angry. Who knew, maybe he still had some powers. With this aim in mind, she hastily made her way to the LotR archive, shooting a guileful glance at her companion as she did so. Scrolling down the page, she carefully adjusted the laptop so that Mini-Mairon could have a better view. Lovely! A Sauron's Daughter!Sue! With a sloppy entreaty to 'plz rnr!'
'So... Sauron, tell me about this daughter of yours... It says here she has 'long raven midnight obsidian tresses of hair, and she was moar beautful than all the elves combined, becaise Saurion was a maia like Gandlaf was. So she was really hot, okay ppls?'
'What?' Sauron whipped his eyes away from the screen and glued them to Mihi's face. (Metaphorically! Metaphorically!) 'I have no daughter, but if I did, I would flay the imbecilic fool alive who dared thus portray her!'
Mihi shrugged and read aloud the following passage:
Ainulindalondaquë walked through Rivindell wishing she lived there and not in Mordor, it was pretty here and the elves were nice, Mordor was scary and her dad Sauron awlays yelled at her when she said she wanted to live in the WEst. The councel was aboutto start and Gandlaf and King Elrond had invitd her. She was the only one who could weild the ring beasue she was imune to her father's majjic-
An irate roar cut off her exposition as Sauron heaped abuse on the unfortunate mortal known as 'aragornluvr123.' Mihi sat back and watched, content to occasionally restrain Sauron from doing bodily harm to the laptop.
'What idiocy is this? What fool would write such ...drivel? I shall find her and hang her from the highest star in the void for Gothmog and Glaurung to nibble. No, that's too fast! I'll tell Morgoth she has the Silmarils – but that's too good for the scum who dares profane my name and my hon-' Sauron realized he had no honor and flubbed for a second before rallying: 'I'll tell Varda she stole Alqa-whatsit!'
DarthMihi looked at him quizzically, whereon the ex-Dark Lord rolled his burning eyes and sighed.
'Don't you keep up at all? That -Alqa-sparkalandil-who cares!- star that just became a black hole. Idiot Star Queen is still in denial - she's convinced someone stole it. And when she gets her hands on the thief...'
Further pontification was cut off by an attack of evil laughter.
. . .
'Preheat the oven to 400 degrees,' read Celt as she pulled her thin hair into a sloppy ponytail. Fëanor looked at her quizzically.
'How does one 'preheat' an oven?' he wondered, an air of noble confusion settling over his diminutive face.
'Like this,' Celt offered, punching the correct buttons on the oven.
It beeped cheerfully at her as the tiny screen informed anyone who stopped to read that the current temperature of its recesses was 103º and rising. The greatest of the Noldor narrowed his gray eyes and stared down the digital screen, muttering to himself about mortal wizardry.
Fëanor watched Celt keenly as she reached into the depths of the fridge and brought forth pizza sauce and tomato sauce (home-made, no less, from home-grown tomatoes), mushrooms and pepperoni, besides many other delicious toppings. Keeping half-an-eye on her tiny charge, Celt reached into the bread machine and yanked out a blob of pizza dough, plopping it onto the counter with a a rolling pin, she began the arduous task of flattening the dough into submission.
Fëanor watched her keenly some more. Celt swore that he was mocking her efforts under his breath.
. . .
'Ooh...There'll be fireworks on Taniquetil,' Sauron whispered as he rubbed his tiny hands together, the picture of Evil Genius. If Mihi hadn't been trying not choke from suppressed laughter, she would have done one of two things:
a) Wonder where Sauron got his inside information and why he was such a gossip, OR
b) Conclude – correctly – that the whole situation was somehow more than a bit Not Good.
Unfortunately, she chose option c) and informed Mairon that he could share his opinion via the Review Box. What followed was the most insulting, terrifying, and regal of flames. It was a work of art – that, tragically, Mihi couldn't ever quite remember afterward, no matter how hard she racked her brains. The juicy phrases simply shriveled up when she turned a mental eye on them, like earthworms left on a hot sidewalk.
Stupid Maia magic.
But whatever the mental trauma inflicted on aragornluvr123, the whole debacle kept girl and Dark Lord occupied for the better part of an hour. When Mihi finally clicked the Post Review button and clapped her laptop shut, an Amanly aroma of baking pizza spiraled in from the kitchen, beckoning inexorably. Celt's voice, calling for her sister to 'Come here and set the table. I don't care what Sauron's doing!' was less than inexorable. But Mihi went anyway.
. . .
Celt popped the pizza into the oven with a contented sigh, then punched fifteen minutes into a timer and wiped the flour off her hands. A soft quiet had fallen over the house. It was just right for a cobeweb-gray morning – though it's more of an afternoon now, she thought, looking at the clock.
...Soft quiet? Who was she kidding?
Fëanor and Sauron were in the house.
Where was Fëanor?
Celt spun frantically round the kitchen, banging toes and elbows, finally prying the icy fingers of fear away from her major internal organs at the sight of Fëanor. He was sprawled (sprawled!) in the midst of pepperoni and mushrooms, sketching out a design for something beautiful and intricate.
His bold, curving pencil strokes threatened to give Celt one of the biggest artistic inferiority complexes this side of the Sundering Sea. (Fortunately, it could not become the biggest, because Daeron of Doriath possessed that, courtesy of a run-in with Maglor Makalaurë. Yes, Tolkien wrote that Daeron was a better minstrel, but most authorities suspect that he was only trying to console the poor Sinda for the loss of Luthien. Sadly, artistic prowess can never fill the void of lost love, so Daeron pouted in the wilderness instead of showing up the second Fëanorian once and for all. Besides, their annual sing-off never had an unbiased judge and therefore always ended in a screaming match.)
But Celt didn't know any of this, so she gingerly reached for the pizza fixings in whose mighty company Fëanor was... What was he doing? After successfully stowing the perishable items, Celt ventured to ask.
'What are you designing?'
Dark head jerked up and silver eyes fixed her with an imperious stare.
'I,' said he, 'am creating an oven such as never before been seen: an oven to crush your pathetic mortal inventions: an oven to make the gods drool and beseech me for the blueprints!'
His eyes glinted as his fingers flew, covering a paper sheet once dedicated to chores with elaborate lines and swirling script. Celt didn't even want to know how he had extracted the lead from the mechanical pencil sitting innocently beside him. Still, she was mesmerized,watching him work while the minutes drained away. Besides, there were worse things Finwë's eldest could be doing. Setting fire to the couch, boiling the wall clock, and creating a new pattern on the wallpaper with Sharpies came to mind. RandomCelt sighed inwardly. She'd been spending way to much time in Fëanor's company.
When the timer beeped, everyone's (least?)favorite nerd edged away from the counter and produced a cheesy, bubbly masterpiece, grinning a little madly at her success.
After a little cross-house yelling, Mihi and Sauron emerged, smiling a bit too smugly for Celt's taste. They helped her get lunch on though, so she didn't comment. A few minutes of silverware and dishes and pizza cutters later, they were sitting round the table. The mini-legends sat on the table.
The pizza was good. Fëanor's suggestion (alright, blatant demand) to put the mushrooms and the green peppers together had paid off spectacularly.
. . .
'Give me acne or give me roadkill!'
Varda blinked, trying to make sense of Tulkas' enigmatic statement. She tried in vain, a sneaking glance showing her that the Elder King beside her fared no better.
Manwë leaned forward, the picture of regal concern. His shining hair blew in a breeze created for the express purpose of showing off its master's flowing locks. Varda suppressed an eye-roll, tuning in to Námo's faintly awkward explanation.
'...and so, my Lord and Lady, it appears that our brother-in-thought Tulkas has lost his Voice,' he rumbled. For a Doomsman, he looked incredibly ruffled.
'How did it happen, exactly?' Manwë asked, all pretenses gone and an earnest frown fixed on his face.
Mandos shuffled his grey, gloomy feet in his grey, gloomy sandals. 'Err,' he muttered lowly, 'I lost my temper.'
He sounded - and looked, with his head bowed and his shoulders slumped - extraordinarily like a guilty Telerin child, minus the day-old fish and trailing seaweed. Varda tried not to follow that comparison any further. Simply not helpful. Besides, there were more important things afoot.
Her lips quirked up of their own volition as Manwë's head planted itself in his hand.
. . .
Námo had had one of his temper-tantrums. Alright. Manwë could work with that. Some emotionally scarred Fëar would only give Estë a busy day. But a mentally scarred Tulkas, even more incomprehensible than usual, he could not work with.
Outside the finely wrought window, even more finely wrought birds twittered, their silvery voices corroding Manwë's mind into an achy soup. The Elder King wished for a slingshot.
'Lurid bananas shall not foreshadow our cream-puffs,' Tulkas cheerfully pointed out, 'so be a good salmon and broil Fëanor.'
He sighed gustily and shook his golden head, contenting himself with a mumbled, 'So the dirt-bag flails.'
If only they could broil Fëanor. Manwë tried not to think of all the problems that would solve. He massaged his forehead, trying to focus on Tulkas, the issue at hand. The effects of overwrought Valarin tempers generally righted themselves in a few yen, but until then, the Valar would be the laughingstock of the Timeless Halls. And the citizens of Valinor would never take a Gibbering Vala seriously – either that, or they would be frightened out of their wits by the mad rages he was sure to fly into.
No, this situation called for an immediate solution.
The look Mandos was giving him fell half-way over the fence into glare territory.
'What shall we do?'
Manwë let out a quiet breath and planted his chin in his hand, affecting a noble frown. A deep silence hung over the hall, cloaking even Tulkas in quiet and availing to give him a few moments' peace. He wracked his brains for all the solutions to all the worst and pressing ills of the Blessed Lands and Arda Marred.
Most of them involved large-scale invasion, self-sacrifice or tears unnumbered. Or song.
The birds twittered so loudly that the silence splintered into a million pieces. One bounced off Manwë's toe, leaving an ugly bruise on Fëa and Hröa alike.
His kingdom for a slingshot.
The bird song played on in an infernal loop, its tiny creators oblivious to their Lord's mental agony. Song was supposed to heal.
Song was supposed to heal. He could practically feel the light-bulb hovering over his head.
Súlimo cleared his throat, then declared, 'Summon Maglor Fëanorion.'
...And the plot thickens! Thanks to CrackinAndProudOfIt for beta'ing!
PS - all reviewers will once again receive hand-written thank-you notes from Tulkas. At least, I think they'll be thank-you notes. For all we know, he could be sending death-threats...