BtVS by Whedon and Mutant Enemy. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. Prompted by JadeHunter's Challenge "If Wishes Were Horses" at Twisting the Hellmouth

Several lines, particularly Sam's comforting words and Pippin's 'I wish...' taken directly from the book; the surrounding paragraph, much of Elrond's speech and many other lines for that matter, adapted from canon due to the changed circumstances. I don't believe the new chain given to the Ring in Rivendell is described beyond being 'light and strong', but I'm having it be mithril as that feels both poetic and practical. I'm also bringing in a major artifact from Sunnydale. Like Anya, it's gained different powers, or at least is being used very differently. Hopefully I wrote Elrond's explanation of it well, and I am willing to change things around.

Hey, formatting question to y'all. I like certain style jokes/techniques and it just occurred to me that Tolkien chose to write his quotation marks according to the school of thought followed by many, particularly those versed in British English, Sir Terry Pratchett and Hotpoint coming immediately to mind. Namely, while I would write: "That woman there has often said 'Apples are delicious, but I prefer peaches in pie.' Myself, I like a mixture of berries." that style of quotes would make it: 'That woman there has often said "Apples are delicious, but I prefer peaches in pie." Myself, I like a mixture of berries.'

So, seeing as how this has Tolkien's world as a primary setting, would it be interesting and still readable if I had basically everyone speak with single quotes as their preferred method and leave Anya in double quotes? If I do, it'd probably not extend far outside this story as I currently have no intention of, say, adapting my writing of Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld in that manner, nor would I for a theoretical story where Frodo plays a starring role in Sunnydale.


The Valley of the Great River Anduin, January, 3019 in the Third Age of the Sun

A Journey Home

Their journey through to the Eastern side of the Misty Mountains had not gone unmarked. Ominous flocks of the crows called crebain noted their passage, the tightly packed patrols of the birds a decidedly unnatural behavior. Despite Gandalf's insistence on not using fires at night now that the weather had warmed, the travelers were soon surrounded by twisted wargs. The first attacking group was swiftly dispatched thanks in no small part to Gandalf and Aragorn's reforged Andúril, but they all knew that where there were wargs there were orcs...

As Pippin retrieved his barrow-blade from the eye of a fallen beast, the howls of far off wargs sent shivers down his spine. "I fear that I am just not cut out for this. There is not enough of the breed of Bandobras the Bullroarer in me: these howls freeze my will and this blood," he sneered, cleaning the dagger as best he could before returning it to its sheath. "Turns my stomach. Sam," he said, turning to his fellow hobbit. "I wish I had taken Elrond's advice."

"My heart's right down in my toes, Mr. Pippin," said Sam. "But we aren't eten yet, and there are some stout folk with us. Whatever might be-"

Sudden silence fell as that particular timeline was whipped away, a new one to be constructed in its place.

Anya blinked, surprised to find herself suddenly standing on her own two feet. She felt a sudden wind blow past her as the wishes she had already granted, after being pulled back to before she had granted them kept right on going past her, to take effect further on in the past. The first one was pulled back months and she was given a vision of its immediate result. The second was more subtle, but she felt that it had taken root no more than a few weeks in the relative past...


Rivendell, October, 3018

At Elrond's council Frodo was filled with stage fright, to stand in front of all these people and show the Ring that had been entrusted to him? Into the sudden silence he lifted the newly gifted chain from his neck and held the golden Ring out for all to see. With the Ring resting snugly in his upturned palm, the metal links were free to hang loosely between his fingers and he toyed with them nervously. Later, when he'd had the chance to compare it to Bilbo's dwarf-mail, he'd decide that the metal, light and strong for its size, was mithril. It seemed that Elrond was not one for half-measures.

Sunlight glittered off the Ring as Elrond intoned: "Behold Isildur's Bane."

Boromir's eyes glinted with interest and then widened with surprise as the Ring appeared to rise in the air. "Lo," Boromir said, the cry alerting Frodo. The hobbit instinctively squeezed the suddenly moving chain tightly between his fingers and made a fist, the Ring bobbing in the air above it.

"The Halfling does tricks?" Boromir shook his head. "I had my doubts that this was doom of Minas Tirith, lost ere this age of the world began. After crossing leagues, this entertainment, does nothing to convince me."

"I assure you." Bilbo's voice raised in Frodo's defense. "My nephew knows that there is a time and a place for such things, so this, however unlikely, must actually be happening."

Gandalf approached Frodo and calmly asked for the Ring. Speechless, the back of his mind chortling about how it had known something like this would happen if he was forced to stand in front of so many people, Frodo held out his fist.

Gandalf grasped the chain firmly, not about to risk touching the Ring directly at that moment. The wizard, once the hobbit had released his grip, raised his arm high above his head.

"Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul." From memory, Gandalf spoke the Words inscribed upon the Ring at the time of its creation, his voice deep, menacing and unyielding. With the issuing of the Black Speech of Mordor from the throat of a Maia the porch around the Council darkened as if a shadow had passed over the sun. "Ash nazg thrakatulûk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul."

His hands clasped to his ears, his companions trembling, Elrond gave Gandalf a look for daring to do such a thing in his realm.

Gandalf brought his hand down to eye level and sighed, his words not having perturbed the floating Ring a bit. "Well," he said, sheepishly. "It was worth hoping things could be resolved so easily."


Rivendell, December, 3018

Safe in the stable, Bill the pony reared back. Anya's contact with him as the timeline changed had preserved his memory. He did not like that mode of travel, all the movement and the uncertainty, but, he decided, if it meant spending more time in the familiar surroundings of Rivendell, he could get used to it.

So, that is how my link to the magic of this world works here, Anya thought to herself, before shaking the feeling off. That's going to take some getting used to. Oh, what a beautiful city. She looked around. This must have been, er, be, before I came in.

"The Company of the Ring shall be Nine; and the Nine Walkers shall be set against the Nine Riders..." As Elrond made his speech, Merry nodded in the appropriate places, but his attention was elsewhere. Thoughts of the Shire's plight filled the hobbit's mind and even Sam seemed uneasy.

The idea that only two slots in the company were left and Elrond wanted to fill those spots with elves was enough to raise Pippin's ire. "But that will leave no place for us," he cried. "We don't want to be left behind, we want to go with Frodo."

Elrond was at first dismissive, but Gandalf quickly leaped to the hobbits' defense. The hobbits shared a grin that their friendship would be spoken so well of.

As Elrond opened his mouth to speak his mind, Merry interrupted, waving at the sky.

"Ah." Gandalf shaded his eyes. "Meneldor returns with word from the Shire." A huge eagle came to ground and communed with him awhile. "It is as we feared," Gandalf relayed the news. "The storm that passed through Bree, leaving devastation in its wake, has firmly taken root in Hobbiton and shows no sign of moving. If anything, it grows, threatening more and more of the Shire."

"If the tales from Gondor are to be believed," said Aragorn. "Sauron governs the storms in the Mountains of Shadow that border their land. Though, to bring the Northern snows to us seems beyond even him, and would the Ringbearer's morale be more important than a military target?"

"I fear it is a sign that Saruman and Sauron's powers are greater combined than apart, though why they would agree on this and be at cross purposes at everything else is beyond me. If we sought to increase the divide... Regardless, this is disaster for the Shire." Frodo shook his head and stared into the West. "Bilbo has told tales of the Fell Winter of 1311, ah, 2911 by your count, when the Brandywine River froze and the white wolves massed to cross it."

"That I have," said Bilbo from directly behind Pippin, his stealthy approach quite startling the younger hobbit. "Thanks to the supplies given to us by Gandalf and the Rangers we pulled through and I do appreciate that." He nodded towards the men. "For it was not a mild winter for anyone. This being a truly unnatural storm, I saw the descent of the eagle and knew it fell to me to ask for help again." He tapped the dwarven helmet resting uneasily on his head. "I'd like to formally request some aid in the defense of the Shire-"

Elrond raised his hand, a faint smile playing about the edges of his mouth. "So it is already time for you to leave us? I assure you that we have no shortage of fine people restless that we are not doing more to help directly. The expedition has been in the planning stages for awhile, part of me was hoping to surprise the Company on their last day here with the sight of the force passing underneath their balcony on the way out of the city."

Elrond sighed and shook his head. "Even before news of the storm reached us, the Riders knowing of Hobbiton worried at me, and they are not the only pieces in Sauron's arsenal. I had hopes of dissuading the young hobbits from traveling further with the Ring, to do what they could, according to the fashion of their country, to warn the people there of possible danger. With it so plainly manifest and a Great Eagle already pledging himself to the cause, perhaps he and Peregrin Took, the youngest, could come to an understanding?"

The sizable bird turned his head from to side to side, appraising the smaller fellow.

As Pippin stared into the eyes of the eagle, he heard his own voice, as if carried on a wind, wishing that he'd gone home without regret.

Pippin steeled himself; he knew the right choice was to help save his homeland. After all, what sort of fellow would he be if he let Sam, Frodo and Merry go on their journey with worry for their families always at the back of their minds? "I will do it, for the Shire and my friends."

"Good. The Company will leave in seven days, enough time to decide on the final member." Elrond sighed and stared into the distance. "Although I will try to have a list by morning."

Pippin reached a hand to the eagle. "It seems as if you'll be flying me to the Shire ahead of Elrond's troops. We will leave West at the same time the Company leaves East. In this week, so we don't have to rush things, may we practice flying so I know how to behave rather than being rushed and caught off guard? I am a nice fellow and I will treat you in fine hobbit style until we leave, feeding you at all the important meals of the day."

##

Having heard something calling in the back of her mind, Anya wandered off during Pippin's rendition of 'elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, supper...' She descended several staircases and walked through several guarded hallways, her concealing magics allowing her safe passage.

One final doorway and she found herself lit by a bright, warm radiance. She felt, somehow, a sense of home that had been missing for some time and knew that this light was aware. "Dawn," she breathed with a smile, wondering if this green energy that recognized her was remembering its past or its far future.

Anya did not know how long she stood there, basking in the Key's light, before she heard a polite cough behind her. She spun around to see Elrond, a sour look on the regal elf's face and two guards with pointy weapons standing behind him.

"When I heard reports of an intruder in this chamber, I was expecting a spy from Mordor. I see, from closer inspection of your odd manner of dress that you are either from another world or our far future." Elrond stepped closer, eying her appraisingly. "Or both, perhaps. Pray tell, how do we fare?"

"I'm sorry to say that things have been changing and what was expected may not come to pass." Anya's mind raced, hoping to avoid outright lies. "I've seen many strange things since I arrived in this world and begun invisibly following your guests. If the past and the future had kept to the straight and narrow then Caradhras' winter descending the mountain would, for one, not have come to pass. I do know, from personal experience, the Key passes safely from this world and this time and goes on to have a very nice life. The last enemy to chase it fell prey to a plan I helped devise, although not without cost."

"I see. Though you do not say it, I know why you now approach the Key to the Undying Lands. My kind has protected it since before Ilúvatar pulled Aman from the surface of Arda and the Valar charged us with maintaining the last route left by sea. I know why you are here, and I am sorry," said Elrond. "But we can not, not yet. When the last ship has reached the shores of the Undying Lands, the last left will close the the Straight Road between the Spheres. Only then may the Key's energies be turned to freeing the Shire from Caradhras' wintry curse, even if it means making Hobbiton the main pass through the Misty Mountains and leaving Bree with a new mountainous neighbor. We will fix many other things besides and then, finally, we will perform the ritual so the next world in the chain of guardians may call it in time. Things are too critical, we can not re-attune the Key, even for a moment, without sacrificing the bridge - but do not fear, the End of Our Age is already close at hand."

He sighed. "I know a few years of suffering is much to ask of the Shire-folk, but this is the salvation of our people. We have sent help, with numbers and numbers of trained souls soon to follow. Please, do not speak of this. Tales spread quickly and if Sauron knew what we were guarding here..."

Anya glanced quickly from side to side and dispelled the cloaking enchantments that were still there in full force, even if rendered meaningless by the Key's radiance. "I am the soul of discretion, they will not hear it from me. As long as you know I am here though, it has been a long time since I slept in a bed that I was allowed to or eaten meals that were prepared for me. Please, while the Company prepares this final week, may I have some time of comfort?"

##

As Anya was being shown to her very comfortable rooms, Elrond stared into the Key to the Undying Lands and sighed mournfully. "Nine Walkers, one of them for me to choose. I suppose Bill the pony was already destined to be the Tenth Walker as I am sure that Sam Gamgee is not one to leave his friends behind. An Eleventh none can see and a Gollum out there to pick up their trail... Twelve Walkers... This does not bode well."


Short Background: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy takes place in Arda's Third Age, each age being a different map of the world. The Second Age of the Sun was when the continent of Aman/The Undying Lands/Elvish Afterlife where the Valar/gods dwelt was a simple sail west from Middle-Earth. This lasted until Aragorn's ancestral home, the Atlantis equivalent, tried to invade on Sauron's advice and was sunk for its hubris. Their chief god, Ilúvatar, plucked Aman from the ocean (or held it in place and bent the world away from it) thus creating the Third Age of the Sun. Reality was held in an uncertain state with the last sea route, the Straight Road between the Spheres, being only accessible by Elven ship. This route closed following Sauron's defeat and the evacuation of the last willing Elves, starting the Fourth Age of the Sun and making all those left behind in Arda mortal as their magic drained. I'm using the Key, a known dimension-opening artifact, as the cornerstone for the system keeping the Straight Road open, or at least from closing prematurely. I've given it some dimension-bending powers as well, so it may or may not have been key in setting up the system in the first place.

Hope that helps :)