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Prologue: The Mysterious Strangers

Introduction: Please Read First

I'm hosting this on behalf of a friend who wishes to remain anonymous, for reasons that will soon become apparent.

The whole thing came about very strangely. I opened my door late one night not long ago to find two very tall gentlemen on my doorstep. Both were fair complected, and their hair, worn long, was covered with cloaks that seemed to absorb the moonlight.

'Oh, great!' thought I; 'Norwegians. Norwegian religious fanatics, from the look of things,' and I braced myself for the inevitable pamphlet forewarning of the approaching apocalypse.

However, instead of a Watchtower, I found, pressed into my hand, a tightly rolled parchment, sealed with wax. "Please take, this, Mortal," one of the strangers said in a deep baritone voice that bespoke authority. "Take it and read it with an open heart." This plea was delivered by the one who seemed the elder of the two, although I could not have told you why I felt this, as the strangers seemed of an age, more like brothers than leader and follower.

"Yes, for Manwe's sake, take the cursed thing and read it," said the other, in lighter, tenor tones that dripped with weariness. "And then maybe I shall have some peace."

"Don't listen to him," said the first. "He shall never have peace. But your works of fiction have found favor in my eyes and led me to believe that you might have some sympathy upon us. Just read this and help us, okay?"

At that, the two men walked off into the night. I could hear their conversation as they left:

"Do you think he'll fall for it?"

"There's no falling -- it's a damned funny story, he'll host it. He seems to like us. Now, where's that Dorwinion?"

"It's all gone, but I have some Gallo in the trunk of the car."

"Ai. Who cares? After writing that crap, I'm ready to drink Thunderbird if that's all there is."

My curiosity was definitely piqued at this point, so I hurried inside and broke the oak leaf seal on the scroll, and proceeded to unroll a long manuscript, beautifully handwritten in the runes of Daeron. Fortunately for me, in the very center was a CD-RW disk, which contained a long file in rtf. I stuck it in my drive and began to read.

Over the next four hours, I laughed, I cried, and I kissed a precious chunk of my life good-bye. But in the end, the message was a positive one, and I felt the rest of the world -- at least those three or four individuals who frequent my LiveJournal -- should see it as well. I will be posting chapters as fast as I can prepare them.

As I read, I also began to notice a striking similarity to a certain story which had raised my own hackles, Fifteen Years in Lothlorien, and it became apparent that this was a parody; a truly VICIOUS parody, but protected under free speech and fair use nonetheless. A familiarity with the original is not completely necessary to the enjoyment of this one, but it helps. WARNING: Both the original story, should you click on the link, and this one are neither work safe nor brain safe. You may need brain bleach if you go ahead and read.

FURTHER WARNING: This story makes light of some very dark subjects and absolutely, positively should NOT be taken seriously. Are we straight on that? Because if you go ahead and read, and you end up scarred for life, don't come crying to me! I'm just the messenger. Blame my mysterious friend!

I was, by the way, offered an honorarium in the form of gold and white gems for this task, but after reading and understanding my friend's outrage at his own treatment and that of his loved ones, I emailed the address found at the end of the file and declined any payment. He replied that he was most relieved, because most of his money is currently in mutual funds and the market was down that week. But he did invite me to a barbecue and wine tasting at his home in **** ******, **. I may just take him up on it.

On to Chapter One: Curses and Questions