i Nili o i Ardanolë Newsletter:

Your source for Lord of the Rings News, Updates, Poetry, Art, Parody and Satire.


Issue 56, Volume 3, 25 June 2005.

Editors: Perian, Xara. 
Chief Correspondent: Prongs.
Columnists: Lady Morrigan Shadow, Padfoot, Cerridwen.
Archivist: Ivy.
Contributor(s): Some Random Gondorian.

In this issue:
"Yes, but Why?" by Xara.
Middle-Earthian Etiquette by Some Random Gondorian.
Necromancy by Perian.

In every issue:
Fanfiction: This Fortnight: Recollections, Chapter One: Concerning Hobbits.
Ask Samwise.

Find past archives or contribute at http://inili.iwarp.com/


"Yes, but Why?"
By Xara.

  How often have you been asked "What did you think of this movie?" or "How did you like the book?" and not been able to give a better reply than, "Oh, well, it was good"? You know there was more to it than that, but you just can't tap into what it was that made it so good, or so bad. But, as I'm slowly learning, making sophisticated comments and feedback is something we already know how to do, it's just a matter of realising first what you're thinking when you read or watch something, and second, why.
  Let me give an example. Return of the King. We'll start with an easy question. Did you like this movie? YES!!! Why is that? Now, this may be an easy question when we're talking about Lord of the Rings, but it gets harder when we talk about other movies you're not completely fanatical about. So let's go back to why, and for the sake of the exercise, instead of naming your favourite character/scene/line/whatever, try to clear your mind, and pick a few scenes that immediately spring out at you when you think of Return of the King. For me it's: Dunharrow, the scene where Galadriel appears in a vision to Frodo, Minas Tirith after the siege and Pippin's song.
  But merely naming a few scenes doesn't answer the question of why. To really know why, you have to think about each of these scenes, and try to find out why they sprung out at you. Dunharrow: Well, the whole camp on a little rocky cliff thing is just too cool for words, especially the bit where Aragorn and Theoden are looking out over it and there's that above shot thingy (let's not get too technical though, it ruins the fun), and of course all Eowyn's dresses are cool, as well as the tents, and the bit where Merry gets left behind by Theoden is practically tearful. That reminds me of the scene where Gandalf rides off with Pippin at the beginning, which really was tearful, and I just realised that Merry is filmed from the same angle in this scene, looking up at someone on a horse, he's always getting left behind isn't he?
  Wow, there were things in there which I hadn't even realised I liked until I did that. No, seriously. So now that we've done that, what happens if someone perhaps gives you a story they've written, and asks you for a little feedback? You read the story and like it, but the someone asks you "Yes, but why do you like it?" Clear your mind, and pick the things which instantly jump out from your memory of the story. "Well, I liked the description of such and such...and the scene where...blah blah blah..." Ok, why did you like those bits? "Er...Well because such and such was described in such an unusual way and I wasn't expecting that, it made me think about this differently...and this scene reminded me of blah blah blah..."
  You see?! Already you can make yourself sound so sophisticated. It's easy once you know how. This is a skill I have only very recently learned, as my English course requires me to have intelligent conversations with my teacher critiquing novels, short stories and the like. Remember to say everything that comes to mind, even if you think it's really obvious. So there you have it, now the next time someone asks you "So what did you think of this?", you'll know how to reply!

Middle-Earthian Etiquette - Part IIBy Some Random Gondorian.
As I was saying last issue, there are a few things you need to know before you go wandering about Middle-Earth, including things about:
The Dead: As mentioned earlier, these can be useful allies. Sometimes.
What to say: 'I am Isildur's heir.' If you are.
What not to say: 'But if you don't help, people will die!' Really, there's no need to rub it in.
Do not: Try to poke your finger through them. It's not polite. You don't want to join them in more way than one.
If all else fails: I suppose they're not the worst eternal companions you could find. You are all in good, and bad, and everything in-between, company.
Dragons: There aren't many of these left in Middle-earth. Even so, it's better to stay on the right side of them. Or perhaps the back side; it's further from the flames.
What to say: Flatter mercilessly. "O great, beautiful, magnificent, extraordinary, dazzling one, hi!' would be a good start.
Do not: Show even the slightest of passing interests in its wealth. Pretend you're a young black widow courting a millionaire.
If all else fails: Have you ever considered giving something to the dragon rather than taking from it for a change? If not, I hope you are inflammible.
Dunedain: Admit it, you're lost. These are, without exception, the best travel guides you can take up with.
On first meeting: Do not be alarmed by the frighteningly good looks, nor put off by the smell.
What to say: 'How's the weather?'
What not to say: (If they ask where you're going,) 'Anywhere but Gondor'.
If all else fails: Stick to the roads until you find a small slimey creature to replace your ranger.
  More to come.
By Perian.

One of the most interesting shifts in the mood between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is the darkness brought in with the introduction of Sauron. That is not to say He was absent from The Hobbit. In fact, He was seen nearly as often in The Lord of the Rings as in The Hobbit; in other words next to never. It is not that He was more present, save perhaps in the Mordor scenes, but that He was more of a threat. This is not because He was more effective. Consider - in the time before the War of the Ring, Sauron was able to imprison one so powerful as Gandalf, and to regain for His own the remaining of the Seven Rings. During the War of the Ring, however, Sauron did very little save hover disembodied in a halfling's mind to torment him.
The greatest difference is not in what Sauron does, but in how He is perceived. The shift from being known as 'the Necromancer' to being called 'Sauron' was one with enormous impact. In naming a thing, it is given power. Rarely is it wondered, however, exactly what changed when Sauron was revealed, other than the relocation from Dol Guldar to Mordor. To understand this, one must first understand what Sauron was before, but this is one of the most enigmatic segments of the history of Middle-earth's nasties in all of Tolkien's writings.
We know that Sauron was disembodied. He had been since the Ring was taken by Isildur. In fact, there is very little evidence to support that Sauron was a physical Eye atop the tower of Barad Dûr. Most passages seem to indicate that the presence of the Eye was something the mind constructed to explain His intrusion. Sam certainly could not see the Eye when Frodo was waving it away during their trek through Mordor, and so on. Sauron was a spirit. But here comes the confusing part. During His time in Dol Guldar, Sauron was known as The Necromancer. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, or are only able to loosely associate it with wizards, the dictionary definition has been here provided:
Necromancy: The art of predicting the future by supposed communication with the dead. -Oxford English Dictionary.
Now, wait just a wee short minute. Sauron is dead. Sauron is also a Necromancer, one who is supposed to consult the dead for insight into the future. Who, exactly, did He consult? The orcs were alive, so were the goblins and trolls. Wargs were most certainly of the flesh. It's hard to be certain with Balrogs, but neither can it be assumed that there were any Balrogs in Dol Guldar as the only one know above the realms where no civilization is known to exist is the one in Moria. Granted, that's not far away, but it is doubtful that this chappie was wandering around the forests of Mirkwood without rampant forest fires being reported. What does that leave? Fell beasts. Again, they're alive. Or were, up until Legolas and Éowyn took them on. Nazgul! No, I'm sorry. These do seem to be the most likely choice, but unfortunately they're not the creatures we're looking for. The Nine never died, but rather remained undead for the remainder of their lives. Er, that can more or less be said of most mortals, but it is a little more true in their case.
So Sauron was communicating with... Himself. That seems more like narcissism than necromancy to me. How exactly does one exist as both the departed and the medium at once? Either others can communicate with the spirit or not. In being the Necromancer, Sauron was a sort of middleman of Middle-earth, a Third Age equivalent of the retail store. The trouble is, he was peddling himself. As anyone who has spent much time around a self-aggrandizing salesman-want-to-be-stand-up-comedian or waitress-cum-Hollywood-debutante will know, this is a method of madness. It's very hard to take the agent of the self seriously. Imagine what might have happened if he had tried to attack Gondor back then. Up he rides to the towering gates of the city...
"Who goes there?"
A disembodied hand raises to muffle the voice from what would under more solid circumstances be called a mouth. " 'S me."
"I cannot tell you. I am travelling incognito. I am here to tell you that I have declared war on your lands."
"What, now?"
"Er... I think so. Let me check my schedule." At this point Sauron pulls out a black briefcase, snicks open the locks, and riffles through it for several minutes while the guards sit on the wall playing what looks to Sauron like the illiterate-Gondorian-schmuck equivalent of Scrabble. "Yes, yes, I am scheduled to conquer you today. I'll send in my armies soon, but could you please turn around and cover your eyes while I do it? You are not supposed to know who we are and where we are from."
As you can see it would all be rather awkward. Better that He revealed Himself and forwent the necromancing, else The Lord of the Rings might have been suited only for a Monty Python skit.

This Fortnight: Recollections - Chapter One
By Perian.


Chapter One: Concerning Hobbits.
  Frodo drummed his fingers against the tilted writing desk in thought. A starburst of ink spread unchecked from where his nib rested thoughtlessly on the parchment. He soon noticed this and gave the quill a sharp glance of reprimand for its idleness and carelessness. Tap, tap, tap, tap, in rapid succession, his fingers returned to their prior occupation; their debut in the music industry.
  On February 22nd (Blob)... read the page before him. At least that was all which existed below three artistic asterisks and a butterfly flourish he had ended the previous entry with, both of which he was unnaturally proud of. Only one was technically needed, but he did so like writing both that he allowed himself to end the chapter with altogether too much ink. Now the quill had taken revenge in doing the same to the beginning of the next. He glowered at it once again, though not long as such an expression felt unnatural to him, and he feared it might cause a Gandalfian crease between his brows. Tap, tap, tap, tap.
  His expression softened. He wiped clean the nib and set the quill in its stand. Then he stood, stretched, and crossed the room to where an earthen mug full of pens sat. He selected one which he thought might be both more obedient and more inspirational than the quill - a deco blue ballpoint with a tuft of silver and gold foil sprouting from the end - and sat down once again. Tap, tap, tap, tap.
  On February 22nd, (Blob) the Sheep was whacked on the head with a pumpkin-
  The glower returned as he hurriedly scribbled out the stray sentence. It was difficult to live with two people's memories. Besides, he thought, that happened in August, not February. What DID happen in February? Tap, tap, tap, tap, tappa, tappa tap.
  The fingers moved rapidly as an idea occurred.
  Frodo, with the dynamic and soundless speed inherent in his species, darted to the window and pulled the heavy velvet drapes down over the portal of sunlight. On tip-toe, wincing at the sound of his ankle popping in protest of its unexpected position, he crept to the bookshelf. The third row from the top was the destination of his eyes and overactive fingers. There they paused, and the fingers found their way into a mass of curls, the nails in their movement dislodging little puffs of dandruff. This translated from universal body language into the English "Which version of The Book should I use?"
  He had not originally called it The Book. It make little sense for him to do so. Firstly, there was more than one volume by the same author which had been dubbed The Book. It made conversation about any of them very confusing. Secondly, The Book was a silly sort of name. The sort of silly name which should only be given to his book. So there. But he had all of i Nili to contend with; his wife, adopted daughter, and half his nearest neighbours included. They had spoken endlessly of The Book and The Poem and The Clay Pipe of Gandalf's Which We Filled With Dish-soap until his subconscious mind, ever at odds with his conscious one, insisted that every item was the only one of its kind.
  The Book in question this time was The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien. Or rather by the original Frodo Baggins, esquire, as stated in the book itself, and translated by the professor an unknown number of years later. The quandary at the moment was which translation would best serve his needs.
  Tap, tap, tap.
   Editions from multiple centuries, limitless languages, some no different from each other save in the dust jacket having a black plaque upon which the title rested rather than a crimson one. Fiftieth anniversary edition, five-hudredth anniversary edition, Alan Lee and John Howe illustrated versions, the single volume with pictures by Ted Nasmith and a 2196 day planner in the back, an edition in mock-Quenya, Sindarin subtitled, French, German, Swahili, and even The Return of the King Causes the Demise of the Wizarding World: The Lord of the Rings in Goblinish Gobbledigook. At this rate, it would be the next age before he decided. Damni- pardon.
  He closed his eyes and snatched one at random. It promptly fell in loose pages from his hand. Frodo rolled his eyes. This was not his lucky day. He gathered the pages, duct-taped them together (Paddy had left a roll of the miraculous stuff when last she visited) and tucked the volume behind the others guiltily. Next he picked out the sturdiest looking edition, gingerly, and carried it back to his writing desk. Open before him it revealed...
  Tap, tap, tap.
  Frodo cursed.
  Nothing that he had known already, that is. There was no entry for the 22nd of February. That is probably why his memory held a gap where February 22nd ought to be. Hmpf. More research required. Or he could make it up-
  Frodo stared with shock at his fingers. Yes, he was irritated, but surely not so irritated as to cause a noise like that. To the best of his knowledge he hadn't partaken in the nervous habit for several min-
  "Frodo, the door!"
  Movie fans. He picked up his pen, then dropped it again with realization. Oh! The door!
  The study door flew open just as Frodo was setting aside his quill. A familiar form stood silhouetted against the light. "Frodo, we have company. Surely you- What are you doing here in the dark, anyway?" Xara stumbled to the reddish glow of the covered window and drew back the curtains. Frodo blinked at the sudden brightness.
  "Resting my eyes?" he lied feebly.
  "Oh, I see," Xara replied, suspicion strong in her voice. "Resting your eyes by reading in the dark. That makes sense. What are you trying to hide?"
  "Me?" he asked with an air of wounded dignity. His eyelids fluttered as if trying to bat away nonexistent tears. Xara's expression softened. Meltdown point had been achieved. Frodo silently resolved to try this on others. With such allure he could, dare I say it?, rule the world.
  Isn't that supposed to be "With a ring like that I could, da-"
  Be quiet, subconscious, I'm the writer here.
  For the moment, but-
  Hush! Now, as I was narrating, with that soft cerulean gaze he possessed, Frodo could have ruled the better half of Little-earth, had he a fairly decent speechwriter and a vague familiarity with law. But Frodo had neither, and any desire he may have had to rule the world was quenched when he made his journey to Mordor and realized that the world, at least all which lay east of the Anduin, really wasn't worth the bother. All right, he conceded, Ithilien did make up for much of the rest, but he didn't want to make the sort of enemies who would emerge from appointing a Plains of Gorgoroth Sewage Treatment Council. 
  "Hana and Rob are here, all the way from the Sundering Seas. It would seem that quite a bit of progress is being made on the Numenor Resurfacing Project, but I'll let them tell you more, 'cause I don't know much about it myself yet. You see, they need to run a column in the newsletter to gain more media attention, as the project has been cut, or is in the preliminary stages of being cut, in funding. And so, for this very important meeting, I need you," she said, emphasizing the last word.
  Frodo smiled at her tone. "I'm flattered."
  "...to make tea," she finished with a grin. "I'll be taking over the editing of the new column, at least until you can talk Sam into actually answering the "Ask Samwise" questions, or until the Journal has finished its run. You've been cheating!" she cried out, having inched to his writing desk and found RotK sitting upon it.
  "Only this once!" he defended himself. "Only because I couldn't remember what was happening in late February."
  "Oh, I see. In that case, try book two, chapter nine," Xara said with a wink. Frodo's face lit, and he started for the bookshelf. Before he could reach it, Xara had his collar in hand and was steering him into the hall with a firm, "Tomorrow."
  In front of the empty hearth in the kitchen Hana (better known as Prongsie) and Rob aka Matthias sat at the low wooden table. Prongsie was wearing an expression of embarrassed hilarity as she held her hand before it and Rob's face was red with unuttered laughter. Lying open before them on the table was the sole existing copy of The Top 25 Censored Articles of the i Nili Newsletter - Illustrated and Unabridged. Prongsie was hastily wiping at this with the sleeve of her free arm.
  "Han snarfed," Rob explained immediately, bursting into laughter.
  "I did not!" Prongsie protested around a stream of giggles.
  "How does one 'snarf'?" Frodo asked, unsure of who to believe.
  "By laughing so hard with a mouth full of liquid that it squirts out of the nose," explained Prongsie, adding, "which I didn't."
  "It's all right," said Xara. "The Uncensored Edition wouldn't be complete without a page of Prongsie spittle."
  Not quite sure how to take this, Prongs turned her attention back to the Issue. "This is precious," she said, leafing through it. "And here I thought you had simply deleted these articles." She gave a tiny, contented sigh. "Only about a third of them are mine. Great pictures, too. Why didn't you give your old staff a copy, eh?"
  "Well I didn't make it!" Xara protested. "Actually, Ivy and Merry left it here yesterday after dinner. How they gained access to that file, we will never know, though I do have my suspects." She and Frodo exchanged glances.
  "Whoever it was, I commend them," said Prongsie while Rob made an exasperated noise. She glanced at Xara out of the corner of her eye. "Have you read it all?"
  "No, not yet," the editor replied, directing her hobbit to an electric kettle with a wave of her hand while rummaging through a small mountain of multicoloured tins for some long-neglected snack to offer their guests.
  "Ah, well," Prongsie went on, "I particularly enjoyed one article entitled 'Romancephobes Cured - The Secret Life of the Bagginses'."
   A particularly stubborn lid suddenly flew off, first colliding with Xara's nose, then clattering noisily across the floor. "What!?!" she cried out, running to the table. "By whom?"
  "Author didn't publicize his... her... its ... name. I can see why. Personal safety."
  Xara snatched up the paper and began to read silently, her mouth working furiously. When she reached the end she sputtered, "Impossible! . No one could have possibly found the password... How dare they! ... I'll bet Merry's behind this."
  "You mean that journal entry attributed to you actually was by you?" Prongsie asked eagerly. In answer Xara tore the page from the paper, stuffed it into her side pocket, and forced a sweet smile.
  "Of course not! Cram?"
  Prongsie eyed the green-specked wafers, her brows inching away from the sight of them, and declined the offer. "Another time, maybe. While we're on the subject, when are you two going to start a family? You've been together nearly a decade now!" She spoke as if the fact they hadn't was a personal affront.
  "Never," said Xara with a smile.
  "One is enough," Frodo added, nodding his agreement.
  "Xaraaa," Prongsie practically whined, "you're hindering my research! If you had any idea of the amount of work I put into making these hobbits-"
  "One?" Rob interrupted. "I thought you didn't have any children."
  "Only her," Frodo said, tilting his head toward the window. Out on the green party field which lay between Bag End and Bagshot Row two figures were frolicking. One was a well-known human, fully grown if still quite small. A mane of reddish hair flew out behind her as she ran from the second and even smaller figure. The latter was a girl of perhaps eight or nine, with masses of light brown curls and a laugh which rang all the way to Bag End. In one delicate hand she wielded a wooden sword, on the other was tied a silver tray like a shield. Had it not been for her height and tiny furless feet, she might have passed for a hobbit.
  "Aww, cute," ogled Prongsie, gazing through the window. "Who is she?"
  "Hmm?" asked Xara, following her gaze. "Oh! He didn't mean her. That's Ivy and Merry's daughter. You'll remember her, she was born before you left. We look after the other one." She grinned at Prongsie's wide-eyed look of sudden understanding.
  "What ... ?" her mouth flapped, making little noises of protest. Then she laughed. "Oh! Funny. Yes, Peri-o does seem to need it, from time to time, doesn't she? Hehehehe. So this whole 'taking care' of someone thing was a joke? I get it."
  Xara and Frodo exchanged glances once more. "Not a joke," said Frodo hesitantly. "When you, er, brought her back... she, ah..."
  "That is to say," Xara continued as Frodo fell silent, "We think a few errors might have crept in." A halting laugh escaped her lips. "Her memory is even worse than it was before."
  "I don't get it," said Rob honestly. "Why would you adopt someone who simply had a bad memory? Did she think you were her parents or something?"
  Xara blushed guiltily. "No, we planted that idea in her head. She was wandering around the Shire randomly wreaking havoc those first few months, so that when we returned the door was blocked by a pile of parchment."
  "No, paper airplanes, though we did get quite a few of those, too."
  "So we found her-"
  "Caught her, to tell you the truth, in a net which we hung from a tree. It looks so easy in the movies, but it didn't work..."
  "Did not work as it should, though she did get tangled in it a week later, and so it served its purpose. We returned to Bag End..."
  "And told her we were her guardians."
  "You said you were her mother."
  "I did not! You were the one who began making quips about it."
  "Perhaps you are right."
  "I always am."
  "And in spite of this, I still-"
  Prongs cleared her throat. The Bagginses jumped apart. "So the little one out there is my only hybrid? There haven't been any other Brandybucks? No Tooks?" she asked to fill the sudden silence.
  "She's it," confirmed Xara. "Just Matti."
  Rob choked on the bit of mouldy wafer he had dared try. "Matti?"
  "Indeed. Matthia Máire. I would think you would be gratified by her being named after you," said Frodo, his eyes twinkling.
  "Well, yeah, I guess so," Rob sputtered. "But couldn't they have waited until they had a boy?" His brows drew together pleadingly.
  "Too late," grinned Xara. "Besides, I think it suits her."
  Outside little Matti had dropped her shield and was now focussing all her actions into attack. Perian had turned to face her, hands up in a protective gesture before she deftly took Matti's sword, slipped it under her arm, rolled her eyes dramatically, and collapsed.
  Xara opened the window and called out of it, "Don't do that! How many times have we told you not to?"
  "Don't watch me, then!" Perian called back defiantly. "Now stop asking me questions. I'm supposed to be dead. It's rather hard to-" But anything else she might have said was swept away in a stream of giggles as her assailant fell upon her, tickling mercilessly.
  Xara closed the window with a shudder. "I hate it when Perian does that. She seems to delight in re-enacting her own death scene ever since we told her about it."
  "I don't understand it," said Prongsie. "We had memory transfers perfected by the time she made her chip. There should have been no errors whatsoever. Thank you." She took up the mug which Frodo had set before her, spinning it slowly and thoughtfully between her palms.
  "We've all learned to live with it, though, I don't know... there are times when I simply wish we had the old Perian back." Xara sat down opposite her visitors, pulling her recorder - a literal gift from the gods - from the recesses of her pockets. "Now, about that column," she said, switching it on, "I have one condition you must agree to before publication."
  "What's that?"
  "If you do ever succeed in raising a land mass out of the ocean, would you promise me that you and everyone else will leave it alone?"
  Prongsie pondered this. All of the research conducted so far stated that the island would not be formed for several hundred years. To introduce plant and animal life would take several millennia beyond that. There wasn't any chance of inhabitation for at least an age, by which time Xara should have forgotten this promise. "Deal."

Ask Samwise.
  Do you ever feel like you've been forgotten by your readers?
  Sincerely, the iNN Personified.
  Dear iNNP,
  Yes. Particularly during volumes two and three, books three and five. Don't you worry, they'll be back, and no mistake.

WANTED: A delicious dinner brought to me, an evening off to enjoy it, a pen, a fresh page, and a muse. A jar of peanut butter will do if dinner can't be found. And a carrot, to bait a hobbit. How do the classifieds always come back to that?
FOUND: A very large nail toenail clipper! I think I'm on the verge of discovering the Shire at last!


Of Names, Part VI. (Key: q.= Quenya, s. = Sindarin, where known.)
loth (s.), lote (q.): (noun) flower. Lothlorien, Nimloth, Ninquelote, Vingilote.
maeg (s.), maika (q.): (adjective) sharp, piercing. Maeglin.
mel: (noun) love. Melian, mellon.
mir (s.), mire (q.): (noun) jewel. Elemmire, Gwaith-i-Mirdain, Miriel, Nauglamir, Tar-Atanamir.



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