Chapter 1: In which desperate steps are taken to evade Mary Sues.

The mortal maiden squirmed in his arms. Much to his chagrin, this one had actually tried to learn some Sindarin, and was attempting to speak to him. None of the garbled, fractured, mispronounced words made much sense, though he thought she was saying something about his "manly embrace".

Legolas cringed mentally. It's a restraint hold, not an embrace, he thought in exasperation. He hefted the girl over one shoulder and carried her struggling form into the antechamber to Galadriel's lodgings.

The room was octagonal, with a high vaulted ceiling, its tracery echoing the high canopy of the tree it rested in. Celeborn stood by a window, looking out from the talan to the mallorn trees beyond. Galadriel sat in a chair in the centre of the room, with her attendants surrounding her on cushions. In her hand was a strange, metallic tablet with a crystal front. She tapped at the crystal with her index finger.

"Not another one, my Lord Prince?" she asked, sighing softly.

"I'm afraid so, my Lady. It was my hope that I might avoid them by coming to your realm. Alas, though, they seem to infest these woods in numbers to rival the invasion Mirkwood has suffered of late. This one made it in through the western edge of the wood. Haldir caught another two earlier."

"Just one moment," Galadriel said, tapping away at the sheet of crystal. "Ah, yes, I have it. Nadarienne, Princess of Destiny. Valar, where do they come up with these names? Now, a little bit of cross referencing from the personal profile, a little bit of tracking of the IP address, and yes, here we have the identity of our Suethor. Now for the coup de grace." Galadriel made a few more jabs and strokes with her finger, then smiled.

Legolas frowned slightly, realising that he hadn't understood a word Galadriel had just uttered. But he was sure that her smile was not the sort of smile he would feel entirely comfortable to be on the receiving end of. Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw Celeborn give him an understanding glance.

Galadriel turned to the girl. "You must be tired after your long journey. My handmaidens will show you to your quarters and make you comfortable." She gestured imperiously to her attendants, who rose and gently took the girl by her hands.

"Legolas, please you come see me when I beautiful in Elven attire?" the girl said, casting a coquettish glance over her shoulder as Galadriel's servants led her away. Fortunately for her peace of mind, the door shut before she could see Legolas shudder in response to her words.

"What will become of her now?" he asked.

"My maidens will make her comfortable, as I promised, and gradually over the next few days or weeks, she will fade. She will feel no pain, just gradually dissolve into nothingness."

"How?"

"Her creator sent the girl into this world to assuage her own boredom and for her own wish fulfilment. But this miraculous device, retrieved from the possessions of one of her sisters who strayed here several years ago," said Galadriel, waving the slim tablet of metal and crystal, "enables me to fulfil her wishes within her own world. I track down her creator's true identity, place her likeness in a virtual realm wherein she may find her real-life soulmate, and lo, the creator loses interest in her creation and fails to file any new chapters to her story. Sometimes, of course, the creator is a married woman suffering a mid-life crisis and writing to distract herself from the shortcomings of her husband. In these cases, placing her likeness in the virtual realm would be most inappropriate. So I hack into her medical files and re-write the lists of healing herbs the leaches of her world give to her. The result is usually an unexpected late addition to her family, which has the desired effect of leaving her no time for the nurture of her unfortunate 'literary' creation. In both cases, the end is the same: the creator having lost interest, the created fades away into nothingness."

Legolas could not suppress another shudder. "Alas, my actions are without honour. I had thought myself better than Haldir, who shoots these creatures on sight. I had thought that by bringing them to you I was more merciful. But I see that I was wrong. My lady, loathsome as they are, what you do to these creatures is terrible, worse than the clean death at the point of an arrow which Haldir offers them. I wish no further part in this."

"Legolas, son of Thranduil, Prince of the Greenwood, your compassion does you credit. But remember that these creatures are not real; they are shadows, figments of their creators' imaginations. And be careful what you wish for. It is within my power to write your story such that you have no further part in the cleansing of our realms from this infestation."

"What do you mean, madam, that you could write my story?" Legolas demanded, feeling suddenly angry. He caught Galadriel's gaze and they glared at one another for a moment frozen in time. At first, her gaze was as angry as his own, but it softened. Legolas was not entirely sure whether the softening was genuine or for effect.

"Legolas, would you like to escape the attentions of these invaders, the Mary Sues?" The Lady's voice was conciliatory now, no longer threatening.

"Of course," he replied, then added with a cynical smile, "but at what cost, my Lady?"

"I could transport you into the world of their creators. No wait," Galadriel held up a hand to silence Legolas's gasp of shock, and added "writing such stories is very much a minority interest in their world, and most of the people you met would not do such things, and furthermore," (here she smiled knowingly) "those that did would not publicly admit to it. It would be a most effective way of avoiding the Mary Sues. And think what a bold quest this would be."

"My Lady, are you feeling entirely yourself. This plan, well, it seems the work of someone whose mind is not entirely, erm..." Legolas faltered and cast his eyes towards Celeborn, a look of desperation on his face, but Celeborn remained silent.

Galadriel's smile broadened, and she said, "The first question to be settled is whether you would like to be a maid or a man in this world."

Legolas's eyes widened in horror. Celeborn decided it was time to come to the rescue.

"Lady, if you are intend upon such a rash course, please leave his gender and sexual preferences alone," Celeborn said, firmly. At this, Legolas blushed. What on Arda were "sexual preferences"? (It should perhaps be pointed out at this juncture that despite many centuries since first he walked beneath the trees, Legolas had devoted his time largely to matters of warfare and heroism rather than romance and was in matters of the heart a somewhat naïve elf.) He thought back to coming unexpectedly upon Faramir and Eowyn tickling one another in a quiet corner of the palace in Minas Tirith, squabbling over who got to "go on top", whatever that meant. Maybe "sexual preferences" had something to do with that, he mused.

Galadriel let out a musical laugh and said "Nay, Prince, my words were spoken in jest. Come, let us say no more on the matter. Let us rather call in Haldir, and Elladan and Elrohir, newly arrived from Rivendell. There are orcs to be tracked in the Gap of Rohan."

Some hours later, when the warriors had retired after planning their assault on the orc band (one of many left over despite the fall of Sauron), Celeborn turned to his wife.

"Why do I get the feeling your words were not spoken in jest?"

Galadriel sighed. "I have given this much thought. I see no other way. The remnants of the orc battalions are not the only evil that is abroad in Middle Earth. Sauron may have fallen, but some of his lieutenants remain capable of wielding immense power. And our recent visitors," she added, curling her lip at the thought of the Sues, "have shown that the walls have become thin between our world and the neighbouring one wherein their creators dwell. Their world, as I see when I use the crystal tablet, is a world of science, sometimes science pressed into the service of evil designs. And our world is a world of magic, less strong than in the days of Feanor, or Gil Galad, or even of recent years, but nonetheless still magical, and not all of it of good intent. I fear what might happen if our magic were to leach into their realm of scientific ingenuity. I wish us to be prepared, to have someone in place, proven in valour in our world, versed in the ways of that world, before (as the inhabitants of that world would put it) the shit hits the fan."

Celeborn raised his eyebrows at his wife's sudden uncharacteristic turn of phrase.

"So you will send him after all. There is nothing that can be done to dissuade you from this course of action?"

"Nothing."

"And will he know of the role you wish him to play?"

"No, for I have used my arts to cast a spell of forgetfulness on him. He will not remember our earlier conversation."

"Then may I ask one boon of you, for the sake of the fair prince?" asked Celeborn, thinking back to a particularly disturbing incident when his wife had doubled up with laughter while reading the crystal screen, then translated for his benefit (or discomfort) a story about himself and Elrond which still made his ears burn just to think of it. "Please, spare him the ignominy of an Mpreg."