Tithe 7: The Unseelie Court

At the end of the previous chapter, Kaye found her way into the Unseelie Court, and told Corny to stay behind because it wouldn’t be safe for him. She acknowledges, at least, that it’s probably also not safe for her, either. I’m really trying to find a way to justify Kaye’s impulse trip to the Unseelie Court, which is underneath a hill in a local cemetery. I can understand curiosity to a point, considering how much trouble it got her into when she removed her glamour. I’d like to say it’s some kind of fae instinct for her to seek out the dangerous unknown, rather than just checking it out to add plot points.

At first the Court is shown as something grand and wild, with strange beings and tantalizing foods. But Kaye soon learns that it’s dangerous as well, where “the worst of Faeryland came to drink themselves sick.” Kaye realizes that coming here was a bad idea when she sees a satyr pulling wings off a faerie. She also tries – and fails – to save a boy from being tortured. And Holly Black doesn’t skip on the gore. I thought I’d have hardened up a bit about this kind of thing lately, but I still flinched at the description of a nameless character getting stabbed in the eye, which then pops like a grape.

Kaye tries to retrace her steps and find her way out. Instead, she stumbles over a very drunk Corny, who’s followed her, against advisement. When he tells her that he’s seen Roiben, Kaye leaves Corny to spy on the faerie knight.

Kaye has every intention of going back to Corny when she’s done, but I’m not okay with her leaving him in the first place. If my friend is really drunk at a bar and a hot guy walks in, I do not go to the hot guy. I help my friend get home, and try to make eye contact with the hot guy on the way out. I don’t leave my drunk friend by herself, even if we’re regulars in the bar, even if we know the area well, even if she would probably be safe walking home.

Kaye knows the Unseelie Court is dangerous and has seen first-hand the viciousness of its inhabitants. It’s obvious that anything weak would be seen as a toy, something to destroy for amusement. A vulnerable, wasted human is a prime target. One of the complaints I’ve heard about Tithe is that the characters are too perfect, but Kaye is well and truly selfish for seeking out Roiben – who did not treat her well last time they met – over helping her friend.

Kaye finds a place to hide herself so she can overhear Roiben’s conversation with Nicnevin, the queen of the Unseelie Court. Here the point of view abruptly shifts from Kaye to Roiben. POV shifts can be really compelling, or become a crutch for the story. Since the story followed Kaye’s perspective so far, the change is rather jarring. Moreover, it’s unnecessary. Kaye overhears the conversation that Roiben has with the queen perfectly, so we’re not missing much by leaving out Roiben’s viewpoint. The main reason for the POV change was so the audience can see Roiben’s angsty inner thoughts. It shows us that even though he’s working for and evil faerie queen, he still has kindness left in him.

Except we don’t really need to get inside his head to know that. It doesn’t take a genius to see  that he loathes working for Nicnevin, judging by Kaye’s first two encounters with him. We can also see that Roiben’s retained some of his compassion when he helps Kaye sneak away before the queen sees her, when other fae would be more than happy to make an “example” of her.

The only new information we gain from the perspective change is the introduction of another character, Nephameal. Nephamael is Roiben’s counterpart in the Seelie Court. Originally Nicnevin’s knight, he and Roiben changed places as part of a truce between the two Courts. And Nephamael has “villain” written all over him. He wears a cape lined with thorns and an iron circlet, which has burned his skin around his forehead. What is that about? Is this fae self-harm? Is it for intimidation? What is Nephamael’s deal, exactly?

Spoiler: We never really learn, and I’m kind of bummed about it.

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Tithe 6: Put A Spell On You

I’ve always liked etymology, but I’ve never studied it in any kind of capacity. I wish I knew a bit more about it now, because of the various spellings of the word “faerie”. Tithe was the first time I encountered the word spelled as such, and I assumed that it was the British spelling, never mind that the author is American. Thanks to this book it became my preferred spelling, because “fairy” felt a bit childish to me. But I always referred to the race of supernatural beings as “fae”, while Holly Black uses “fey”. I had to get to the bottom of this spelling mystery.

A quick Google search led me to this Wikipedia page which states that “fairy/faerie” comes from the Old French word “faierie”, a modification of the word “faie”. I was a little surprised; I had thought the word would be Gaelic in origin, considering how much I associate fae with Ireland. It seems that either spelling of “faerie” would work, though I have a harder time seeing how you would get “fey” out of “faie”.

If the previous paragraphs were being read out loud to you, I apologize for any confusion.

This is my long-winded way of saying I’ll be using the spelling “faerie” and “fae”, no matter how they’re spelled in the book. But it doesn’t really answer my question as to why Corny would spell “faerie” with the e, rather than the more commonly known “fairy” spelling when they try to Google it. I know some people hate search engine montages in their fiction, and it’s totally understandable. It’s lazy writing, and half the time the author doesn’t know how the internet actually works.

But if I suddenly found out I was a non-human, the first thing I would do would be to Google exactly what it meant to be a faerie. Kaye and Corny don’t find out a lot of useful information. Rather, trivia, which Corny finds amusing, but it’s not helpful. But there’s one other thing about this scene that hits me right in the nostalgia.

‘Can I use your phone?’

He nodded. ‘Do it now. You can’t use it while I’m signed on. We only have the one line.’

Land lines. Getting your slow internet through your phone line. When Tithe came out, my family had recently switched from AOL to EarthLink. Remember EarthLink? For the first time in our house, we could use the internet and be on the phone at the same time. It was life changing.

Eventually, Kaye remembers the kelpie that she summoned to help Roiben, and wonders if it can help her as well. Here the internet does come in handy and gives them (and the reader) some information about how dangerous it is. In short, the horse-shaped kelpie will try to lure riders on to its back, then drown and eat them. The kelpie is also one of the fae I knew about prior to reading this book, because it was a rather memorable entry in J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them book.

When Kaye and Corny do meet the kelpie, it wants something in trade before teaching Kaye magic. Kaye isn’t sure what it would want, but Corny is more open to the idea of actually drowning people.

‘Well,’ he said after a moment’s hesitation, ‘actually, there are a whole lot of people I wouldn’t mind feeding to that thing.’

She laughed.

‘No, really,’ he said.

‘What do you mean?’

‘I mean that there are a whole lot of people I wouldn’t mind seeing drowned. Really. I think that we should go for it.’

Kaye looked up at him. He didn’t look particularly fazed by what he’d just proposed.

This is more in line with Corny’s introduction, where he imagines himself as a murderous psychopath. Corny has a lot of anger, he wants to be bad. But he’s never gone for it. Early on, he even acknowledges that this game of him pretending to be a dangerous man is getting boring, and worse, pathetic. With the kelpie, he finally sees an opportunity – and a reason – to be that person. Fortunately, Kaye won’t let him.

After reading that conversation, I began to wonder if there was anyone I’d lead to a kelpie. I know a lot of people that I’d rather not see again, but very few I would think deserve to get eaten by a demonic water horse. What disturbed me most, though, was when I realized there were maybe two people on that list that I’d be okay with getting eaten. And from there, I had to ask myself: of those two people, would I be able to lead them to the water’s edge?

If I could, it wouldn’t be as easily as Corny could.

Kaye at least finds something the kelpie will like: the broken carousel horse she found early in the book. I’m a fan of Chekov’s guns, and I was glad to see that the horse was used for more than just hinting at Kaye’s true nature. The car ride to pick it up is harrowing for her, however. With her glamour off, all of Kaye’s senses are enhanced, as is her sensitivity to iron. While she’s in the car, the metal she’s surrounded by burns her lungs and makes her sick.

One thing that can be difficult for a writer to get across to a reader is an experience that the reader will never be able to have. Sorry, guys, we’ll never be able to smell the chemicals in our soda or have the crazy vision of a hawk. But we do all know what it’s like to be queasy and puke your guts out.

Holly Black also makes sure that we know what holding magic in your hand feels like, by using another sensation that we’ve all felt before.

Kaye cupped her hand and imagined the air in her hand thickening and shimmering with energy. After a moment, she looked up in surprise. ‘It feels like when your hand falls asleep and then you move it. Prickly, like you said, like little shocks of energy shooting through it. It hurts a little.’

Admit it: you just tried to gather energy in your hand.

No? Just me? Okay.

Tithe 5: Roll Credits!

In this chapter of Tithe, we get some of the answers that both Kaye and the reader have been wondering about. For example, where have Kaye’s faerie friends been, and why did Roiben kill one of them? These are far from the only things Kaye has on her mind when she is awakened at night by Lutie-Loo and Spike, her childhood friends. They take her to see the Thistlewitch, thus far the closest thing Kaye has to a fae mentor.

I really like the variety of Fae in this book, of all different…races? Species? What exactly do you call the different categories of fae? Either way, Lutie is what most people would think when they hear the word “faerie”. She’s small and silly, and flies on iridescent wings. Spike is more feral and rugged, and the less kind of the two. The Thistlewitch has only a minor appearance in the book, but she also has a wild appearance, with reeds and briars covering her.

The Thistlewitch tells Kaye that she is a changeling, or a fae that was glamoured to look like a human, and left in place of a human child. Kaye takes the news surprisingly well at first, saying that it all makes sense, considering her unintentional magic. She gets over the shock pretty quickly, not even bothering to question her friends about her origins. For me, she just accepts it way too easily.

There’s a couple reasons that I’ll give this one a pass though, and the first is that faeries cannot tell lies.Having fae friends during her childhood, Kaye would have likely known about this rule, so she wouldn’t have any reason to disbelieve what they’re saying. The second is that curiosity gets the better of her later in the chapter, and she acts more like a teenager who’s just been told their entire life is a lie.

Later in the night, Kaye does remove her glamour, against the advisement of the Thistlewitch, and discovers what her “true self”, such as it is, looks like. Grass-green, with liquid black eyes and an extra knuckle on each of her fingers. Kaye doesn’t know how to put her glamour back on, and can’t find anyone to help. She winds up finding Corny to help her out. Their friendship might have seemed unlikely, but thinking about it, Corny is the perfect person to go to. He’s a well-established nerd, and if there was anyone I’d want on my side in a situation, it’d be a fantasy geek.

In other words, I may never be a fantasy heroine, but at the very least, I’d be a great genre-savvy sidekick.

The Thistlewitch explains exactly why they had to bring Kaye back to New Jersey and reveal her true nature: She is going to be selected for an Unseelie ritual known as the tithe, in which a mortal is sacrificed by the Unseelie Court of fae. When the ritual is complete, it will bind the fae without a court to the Unseelie Court for…reasons?

There’s a lot of lore in this chapter, and my background as a fantasy geek means that I can keep up with a lot of it. But I was never totally clear on why, exactly, the solitary fae are bound to the Unseelie Court. Even if the Thistlewitch tries to explain:

‘Why do the solitary fey trade their freedom for a human sacrifice?’

‘Some do it for the blood, others for protection. The human sacrifice is a show of power. Power that could force our obedience.’

‘But won’t they just take you back by force then?’

‘No. They must obey the agreement as we do. They are bounded by constraints. If the sacrifice is voided, then we are free for seven years.’

That’s one of the things about fae lore: a lot of it is just ‘because I said so’. It’s one of the things that make them so interesting to write and read about: there are a lot of rules they have to obey, and fae are clever tricksters who find ways to bend those rules without breaking them. This is exactly what’s happening here: the tithe will be performed, but voided once they discover that the sacrifice is a faery, not a mortal.

But I still wish there was a better explanation than that.

Tithe 3: YA Parenting Tips

After a run-in with magic and a literal faerie knight, Kaye’s life returns to the mundane. For the most part, anyway. The majority of this chapter gives us a snapshot of what Kaye’s life looks like now that she’s in New Jersey. There’s only a few hints of otherworldly fae in this chapter at all. The first comes at the beginning of the chapter, when Kaye dreams of the old faerie friends that visited her as a child. It’s a weird and eerie scene, and I’m still not sure what some of the images in it are supposed to represent. But, it’s a dream, and doesn’t have to make sense.

The only other instance of magic is when Kaye receives a note from her old friends, delivered via acorn. The note informs her that one of her fae friends is “gone” and that “everything is danger”.

One thing I realized I liked about this book as that Kaye never really stopped believing in her so-called imaginary friends, Spike, Lutie, and Gristle. When she comes back to New Jersey, she still looks for them and wants them to come see her. Janet has accused Kaye of making up stories about them, saying they weren’t real, but Kaye never says they were fictional. This saves us a lot of time: she doesn’t need to be convinced they are real so that she can start the adventure. There’s no point in denying them, since the reader already knows that this is a fantasy story that will involve faeries at some point.

Throughout the day, Kaye contemplates the note, but mostly ends up daydreaming about Roiben. This is something I would normally give a female protagonist crap for, but I was a sixteen-year-old girl once, doing the same kind of thing. Coming home giddy after finding common ground with a boy and quickly developing crushes were just part of my repertoire of tricks. But I think Kaye is balanced out better than other lovestruck teenage girls in YA novels. Her romance with Roiben is the B-plot of the book, and there’s enough pushing her – finding out what happened to her friend Gristle, for instance – that her story’s interesting, and not all about the boy. So I’ll allow some daydreaming on her part.

And though Kaye acts like a teenager, so does her mother. This is a trend I’ve noticed in YA novels: the majority of the time, the protagonist’s parents are totally incompetent, out of the picture or distant, if they even bother appearing in the story at all.

I paused while writing this to take a look at the YA and middle-grade novels sitting on my bookshelves and think about the protagonists’ parents in each one. In several of them, the parents are dead or mysteriously absent throughout. In fact, the only novel I could find (though I’m sure there are others) which heavily featured parents was The Book Thief, where Liesel’s strong bond with Hans is one of the book’s main themes.

Kaye’s father is absent, but Kaye’s mom doesn’t really fit any of the aforementioned categories. She loves her daughter and stays in her life, but she’s also selfish and immature. She’s been drunk or drinking in all her appearances so far, and still dreams of the day she “makes it” as a musician. She even looks down on old friends who have gone “respectable” by starting a business of their own and leaving music. In some ways, she’s more childish than her teenage daughter. That said, I do like her relationship with Kaye. She obviously cares for her daughter, even if she doesn’t understand just how to take care of her.

I only noticed this trend after a friend (who is also a mom and a YA author) asked just why so many parents are so bad at taking care of the protagonists. That is, if they haven’t died horribly before story begins. The best answer I could come up with is that parents who are really paying attention to their kids lives are not going to let them go off to magical danger zones so they can save the world.

Dead parents are a catalyst for adventure, neglectful parents allow the adventure to happen, and dedicated parents are obstacles.

So if you discover that your child is part of some world-saving prophecy, just leave ’em alone. They’ll be fine.

100 Post Celebration

We’ve made it to the 100th post! I wasn’t sure that I’d make it this far when I started this blog. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it past The Supernaturalist, never mind Eragon. For 100 posts, I’ve cajoled, mocked, praised, and over-analyzed authors’ choices, re-reading through my childhood and adolescence, one chapter at a time. So I decided it’s time to get a taste of my own medicine.

When I was in junior high, I was obsessed with Lord of the Rings. I’d seen the movies multiple times, I tried to teach myself elvish, and I tried my damnedest to read the books. It wasn’t until I got into Return of the King that I realized I hadn’t absorbed a word of the hundreds of pages I’d read.

This did not deter me from writing an entire fanfiction trilogy of my own. I had high hopes for these stories. I thought that someday, Christopher Tolkien would read and publish them, adding them to the Middle-Earth canon. That dream never came true, and for that, every Lord of the Rings fan should be grateful. These stories are truly, truly terrible, and have never seen the light of day.

Until now.

I would like to present to you the first story of my trilogy, which has never been given a title, exactly as I wrote it when I was thirteen years old. To be as true to the original text as possible, all spelling errors, author’s notes, and every embarrassing, canon-defying moment have been left intact. I’ve also added a few footnotes of my own, and hope that you’ll forgive the less than elegant coding for the page jumps.

Please enjoy yourself, and I’m sorry.


Chapter I
The Shire Meeting

“Dear old friends” Aragorn started, and glanced around the room. He was at Sam’s home-Bag end, because the Sackville-Bagginses had decided to move, they gave it back to Frodo, though he had move to the Grey Havens, bought himself a home and gave Bag End to Sam, Rosie and their kids.1

“Dear old friends” said Aragorn again. “I have called you here today because I have a feeling that something involving Sauron and I fear the Shire may be involved.” Gandalf stood up “I know he is right. The Orcs have been acting restless. Several travellers disappeared while leaving Bree. The Orcs are moving closer to Hobbiton.”

Legolas stood up. “Saroun was destroyed. Without him, the orcs can stop. they won’t have enough to take over anything larger than a sheep farm.”2

Gandalf sighed. “I wish it was true, but if Orcs can take over Moria against the dwarves, they could take over Hobbiton very easily.”

Frodo asked, in a very small voice, “Why?”

“I think you know the reason.” Gandalf said.

Chapter II
Alarming News

In the next few months, The Fellowship came in and out of the Shire, to check up on things, make sure everything was normal. After 3 months, Rosie was very tired from cleaning up muddy Ranger’s footprints, and asked if they could talk outside, please. Auttom was on its way, so the days were warm, the nights, cool.

Soon, after one prittcularly crisp, Auttum day, Gandalf rode in with alarming news.

“The orcs have two stations, one is 12 miles from the end of the Anrion and the other is too small to locate. I think, we should move, they are indeed seeking revenge for their strength.”

Rosie exploded. “Samwise Gamgee! How dare you leave me, again! I don’t care where you’re going except that it’s away from us, your family.

Sam embraced her. “I’m sorry I’m always leaving home. Rosie, I promise, that soon, everything will be alright.”

Chapter III
A new Arival

As they left the Shire, A small hobbit appeared. She seemed to be about 33, though a bit short for her age. She had dark hair, a few inches shorter than Rosie’s, which looked slightly wet. She had a green dress and white apron on, not to mension a white hankerchief on her head. When she saw the Fellowship, she ran up to them and just started Gabbing.

“Hello! I’m Tigerlily Underwood. You know, Acutlualy, we used to live in the Shire. Are you going on an adventure? You’re all packed. Can I come, please. It will only take a moment to get me my things. I really love adventure, even if it is odd. I was born here, and I don’t travel often. Won’t be more than a mouth, will it?” But the “it” was never heard. She was off, and came back a moment later like she said, in traveling clothes, on a pony she called Daisey.

“Fine.” Aragorn sighed. “Keep this sword close.” he said as he tossed her one. The fellowship stared. “Never know when you might need an extra.” Aragorn shrugged. Soon, they were off to Bree.3

Chapter IV
The Road to Bree

Heading to Bree should have been easy, even with Tigerlily, but it wasn’t. They had been traveling off the road where they found a strange creature eating berries. He was blue, and had dark blue stripes across his back. His beak was orangeish-yellowish with talons on his feet. He had gigantic wings, but was small enough for a hobbit to ride. The wings were cloud colored-greyish and white. Because they were so huge on him, it looked as if a breeze could carry him away. His eyes were the most amazing thing about him. They held a fiercness in him that no one could see in him anywhere else. The fire in his heart was seen through his eyes. He could probably paralyze a mouse with that stare. But right now, his fiery eyes were closed and he was almost smiling, if his beak would allow a smile, and the creature was happily munching berries off the bush.4</sup

“MOVE!” Legolas yelled and pushed the creature out of the way and the creature snarled at him, but not after a speeding orc arrow hit a tree Then the creature attacked. Flying high, he hit the orcs with such force, Sam seeing Tigerlily fumbling with her sword, showed her an old tecqnique of his-hitting the orc on the head with a frying pan. In the end, only one group remained – It was the fellowship. Legolas looked for the creature and saw it at his feet. The creature told Legolas his name was Griffith, and he’d be honored to do anything for him. Legolas asked him something that Griffith could not expect. Legolas had asked him to join the Fellowship, for Legolas could see that he was brave, snarling at the king of Mirkwood, and that his aggresiveness and fiernces meant that he would be good in battle. Tigerlily walkes around for a bit, thinking. What kind of Adventure was this, full of killing? And yet, as she looked at Griffith, returning to the berry bush to eat while everyone else sat down, she knew this adventure could be full of saving, too.

Chapter V
In Bree

As the fellowship walked into Bree Pippin didn’t even need to ask if they could stop at The Prancing Pony. They were worn out by battle, and Pippin wanted a pint.5 After they got rooms, They explored the bar. Tigerlily wandered into a quieter section, looking for someplace to practice her letters and writing words. She had been taught them, but still needed to practice them.6 The quietset corner had grim men smoking thier pipes and talking almost in whispers. It was too dimly lit to even practice letters and  word, but she kept wandering it, until she saw a piano sitting in a corner and so she began to play it. Her song began:

I have a gift for you
My love
No time or distance can separate us now.
We have become
the beauty of one
love.

The song continued for sevral more verses. Each verse was written by Tigerlily with Passion for her love of music and her younger sister – Saphire, and for her future husband.

She had become so entranced in her song, that she did not notice the bar had become quiet, nor that Pippin had approached her.

When she back to reality, she looked at Pippin.

“I…uh I really think your singing is good”

“Thanks Pip.”

“Well, we’ll be over there, Tigerlily.”

In the morning, Pippin could think of nothing else. As Sam, Merry, and Frodo went down for breakfast, he hardly paid attention to what he was eating. All he could think of was her.

After packing and leaving Bree Aragon annonuced to the Fellowship that they would pass the night at Weathertop. Frodo didn’t look too excited.

Chapter VI:
Weathertop

The fellowship walked up to Weathertop, and with some suprise noticed a small fire on top of it. “Legolas, what do you see?” Gimli asked.

“Someones up there. We should find another place to spend the night.”

“Tch! It’s jut an elf! and one with light eyes, at that. He won’t turn on us.” Griffith landed. “These wings make no sound.”

They were on top of Weathertop. The elf already there was gone, however, his fire was still there, so Legolas scowled the idea that the mystrious elf was still here.

Legolas knew him on sight. He looked like The mystrious elf’s sister. His father had drawn a picture of the mystrious elf’s family line, complete with pictures for all of them. Legolas couldn’t belive what he was seeing–Beoran.7

Before Legolas was born, his father fell in love with a beutiful elf maiden, yet she was a loner. Her whole family was. A loner is an elf who travels alone – they live in no villages, cities, or towns of elves, except by themselves or with small family groups. Loners are looked down upon by other elves, especially from Rivendell.

Now, Beorans sister was ready to move in Mirkwood and start her life as queen. Legolas’ father (seince killed in battle) was head over heels for her. As she was getting ready to move in, her brother reached out to her. He needed help. He had been hurt badly in battle, Sauron was rising, and asked his sister to tend to him. After two years she went back to Mirkwood, but was killed by a band of orcs along the way. Legolas had never know she was trying to come back, All he knew was that she broke his father’s heart by not returning, and so, he figured that Beoran was the reason she dumped his dad. If Beoran was here, it could mean trouble…for Beoran.8

 Chapter VII:
Beoran

“What are you doing here?” aske Legolas

“Do I know you? relpieded Beoran

“Not by name. I am the elf king of Mirkwood, but no need to ask who you are. Muddy clothes, and alone. You are a loner. You have a sister, and your name is Beoran.”

“Yes Legolas I had a sister, And if you took the time to verify the facts, you may have found the truth. My sister was trying to go back to Mirkwood, yet with Saraun rising, the road can become too dangerous fore a lone elf.” Beoran repled, and Legolas said

“She did not have enough courage for the one she loved!” Legolas and Beoran were circling each other, Legolas pratically spitting.

“No, Legolas, she braved the road to come home – to Mirkwood, but couldn’t”

Legolas opened his mouth to speak, but couldn’t say anything because someone was calling him over for dinner.9</sup

Chapter VII:
That Night

“So, who’s your friend?” Sam asked while serving susages.

“Not a friend-just someone I knew. I thought it would be polite to talk to him.”

Soo while they were slepping, Beoran heard a muffled scream.  He was away from the group, but from what he could see, only nine people were slepping over there. Someone was missing. Beoran sat bolt upright. Someone was missing, and noticed something he had not before. It was a crude building, made of sticks and branches with two floors. each had one room.

The two orcs made Tigerlily run to the crude building, which smelled really bad. In the first room, There was a chair and a desk. The two orcs bound her hands behind the chair, not with rope, but with nettles. Finally a tall orc stepped in. He had a great need for some braces, tic-tacs, a shower, a shampoo, and a fashion designer.

“So halfling.” He said in a rough gravelly voice.

“Curse you – curse every halfling! Halfling used to mean nothing. Now Haflings have destroyed the Ring, Destroyed Saroun, destroyed our STRENGTH! Where are you going?” He bellowed.

“I-I don’t know” Tiger Lily responded in a trembling voice.

“Well, let’s give you a night to think about it” He cut the nettle-rope and called two orc gards the led her down into a dongeon. The denugen was actuttaly a hole in the ground, underneath the building. There were bars on the stairs lead up so no one could escpae.

Oh my God, I drew a picture.

Tigerlily leaned on one of the earthen walls and sighed

Suddenly someone emreged from a showdy corner. It was an elf, dark hair, but light color eyes. “My name is Beoran. I’ve come to help you.”

Soon they both were running up to Weathertop. When they got there, Breathless, Tigerlily tried to explain what the orc had told her.

“So it is true then.” Aragorn said. “But they will try to destroy the hobbits before the elves can destroy the orcs. The elves are regaining their former strength,  But the Orcs are losing it. We must go back to the Shire.”10

Chapter VIII
Return to the Shire

They rode as fast as they could to the Shire. As long as they got there, Sam felt, that Rosie and his family would be safe. He urged Bill on.11

They raced to Hobbiton. The sun was sinking in the west. No hobbits were out. The ground was muddy and dirty. The only plants that grew were nettles and pricker-bushes. Doors were broken and windows were smashed. Hundreds of hobbit feet made footprints in the mud. The holes were disgusting, the broken windows, pieces of furniture on the streets. Were hobbits in those holes? Where was Rosie? But the most disturbing thing was not the nettles or the mud, but it was an old pigpen, with hundreds of child hobbit footprints.

Chapter IX
The Discovery of the Hobbits

The hobbits dismounted, Sam pratically crying. He was the only one married w/kids, and he had promised Rosie everything would be fine.

“Run!” Beoran urgently whispered. But it was too late the orcs had come upon them Beoran, Frodo, Merry, Pippin and Tigerlily, but Sam tripped over a root and twisted his ankle.

He fell down and got back up. He started running, yet very slowly. Sam reached for his sword, but the orcs grabbed it first and tossed it away. Then they dragged him back to Hobbiton.

Frodo was fighting Aragorn’s arm, restraning him. Frodo fought, but Aragorn’s arm was just too strong. Frodo finally had to give. “We must go back tomorrow, before sunrise.

Aragon promised Frodo they would.

Chapter X
The Rescue, The Elves, Rivendell

Finally it was morning and before sunrise The fellowship and Beoran snuck into a building, which was made of mud. Branches on the inside gave it shape.

Inside there were strange little beds where all the hobbits were sleeping on.

Beoran and Legolas snuck in quietly, not saying a word to one another and took a sleeping Sam out and to where the rest of the fellowship was.

When Sam woke, at sunrise he looked, not relived, but worried or even scared. “Please, Rosie’s still there. We have to save her!”

The fellowship & Beoran would be hoplesssly outnumbered to take out an army on there own, even w/11 companions. Anyway, they had to try.

The orcs were getting the hobbits ready for a day of work at the mill.

The fellowship rode into hobbiton. Pretty soon the hobbits were amazed to hear horses’ feet and then saw the commanding orc heaad get copped off. Suddenly the battle broke out! There were so many orcs pratically all the hobbits save Sam, Frodo, Merry, Pip, and Tigerlily ran for cover – not in the mud building, but in their old holes. But More orcs just kept coming. It was wall 11 to hundreds.

They had pratically all lost hope until Beoran gave a small gasp.

Miles away, three beutiful elf maidens stood in a line, clapped their hands once and then put them next to each other’s hands, touching them. They all were whispering something.

Suddenly a blue flash occured, and then imdeatly after that there was a yellow flash and a green flash. Soon all the orcs lay dead.

“Who did this?” muttered Gimli.

“Three elf maidens. I saw them” said Beoran.

Legolas didn’t belive him. “I was looking in the same direction, and I saw no one.”

“Legolas,” Beoran said “You do not live alone. When you do live alone, the only person who can look out for you is yourself.”

The hobbits in the Shire were free, but now the beutiful Shire was full of mud and junk. No one could make the plants grow back quickly.

Soon, these three elf maidens Beoran saw came. Their bare feet made footprints in the mud, which produced small sprouts where they were seconds later.

Legolas and Beoran knew at once they were elves from Above. Elves from above lived higher than Middle earth – some people said they lived in cloulds. They could call the sun, clouds, snow, and rain, and they could heal almost anything just by touching it.

The first one started to whisper to they sky in an anhiet form of elvish. She had long, dark brown hair and sea-green eyes. She wore a white dress tinted with light green. After whispering to the clouds a gentle rain came down on the ground, and young plants popped up.

The second elf had shoulder length golden hair. She had bright green eyes and began to whisper to the ground. The young plants grew. Trees grew trunks. Flowers grew buds grass popped up.

The last one had bright blue eyes and rich, auburn hair.

She wispered to all the young plants, and all of them began to grow as fast as she could speak. Weeds grew up faster, but died seconds after they group up. There were no weeds in the Shire anymore. Also the hobbits became more alive.

“Sam! Sam!” Rosie came running towards them.

Sam embraced her and said, “Don’t you rember? I said everything would be okay.”

As the color returned to the stricken faces, someone finally asked the mystrious elves “Who are you?”

The elf who called the rain said “I am Falmarin (name meaning: Sea Spirit) I come from the Lands Above. My closest friends, more like my sisters, have come for a year of training, unless we have reason to stay.”

The elf who whispered to the ground said “I am Wenval” (name meaning: powerful maiden)

The last one said “And I am Erlant” (name meaning: lone bridge)

Then she said “The Shire is now protected. No orc dares to touch what the elves from the Lands Above touches or heals. Please, go quickly. There are other places that need protection.” However, it was getting late, so Sam suggested they spend the night in the Shire, and go first thing in the morning.

Legolas and Erland stayed up half the night, giggling, talking, even a bit of shameless flirting here and there.

After a few more hours, Legolas fell in love, but Erlant only liked him-liked him. She wasn’t ready for love yet. Soon they agreed to go to sleep, but not before Legolas whispered “I love you.” In her ear. Suddenly Erlant new why she couldn’t love him… yet.

“I can only love you back when you fully trust your companions.”

Falmarine, Wenval, and Erlant left before anyone else did. The fellowship and Beoran head out at sunrise. The plan to ride straight into Rivendell, and all the elves have moved back, becaus they felt so secure about the ring being destroyed.

It took them two days and one night to get to Rivendell. THey were going at breakneck speed, Shadowfax leading. Oh well, Bill was getting chubby.

At Rivendell they all had a great feast in a grand hall, and Elrond mostly hung around Aragon, asking how Arwen was and his kids.

“They’re Twins. And they’re all beatiful.”

They stayed for four days before They left. When they left, They were presented with cloaks that would stop them from frezzing to death or getting frostbitten as they crossed Cardaras.

Chapter XI:
Cardaras

The cloaks were much needed as it was very cold. They prett much decided not to go to the Mines of Moria for obvious reasons. Legolas and Beoran were especially helpful. Snow was thicker this time of year, so the elves (Elves rock my socks!) finally picked up the hobbits, and Aragorn also carried one.

Frezzing, they trudge up the mountain. Until they saw something odd. It was a building on a wide ledge. They decided to not stop becase no one knew who lived there.

They were stopped anway, by a strange looking creater. It was black and had for yellow rings around its stomach. It was like a large dog, with floppy ears and tough paws.12</sup It pratically forced them back to the building. They fell throug the backdoors.

Inside the building it was warm and dry. The creaturs offered the fellowship food, which they all refused — just for safety.

The creatures wouldn’t let them leave until the next morning.

No one knew it, but the creatures were Narions, who could be very ferocus, but most of the time were kind and hospitable, and the reason Gandalf made the stay a night was because they would be very offended if they dared to refuse it.

As they began their desent down the mountain, they saw Falmarin, Wenval, and Erlant. Wenval said, “Be careful and alert. There are orcs nerbye, perhaps marching up the mountain at this very moment. They wouldn’t come up this high, but still…” Frodo pulled out sting. It was faintly glowing around the edges. Soon, Falmarin, Wenval, and Erlant departed.

After one mile, Sting was bright blue. Frodo had been constantly checking it. Everyone got there weapons ready – including Tigerlily, as she had gotten a bit more handy with a sword.

The orcs surronded them – about twenty in all. Suddenly, Beoran and Griffith were gone. “Knew he wasn’t one of us.” muttered Legolas. Griffith did a nice little sky-dive body slam combo, but Beoran was truly with the fellowship. He had just went to a higher place than the others. It was safer, and he could aim better. Soon there was not an orc standing.

The fellowship came down the mountain, the first place they even thought of going was Lorian.

“Greetings from Lorian.” Said Galdrel, yet it was not the Galdriel they rembered. She had a scar around her left ankle and Celeborn was no where to be seen.

Beoran went to talk to her later that night. “Please, what is wrong? You can tell me.”

“Oh, Beoran.” She sobbed on his shoulder. “Oh, Beoran. He’s gone. I can’t belive it. He’s gone. He’s gone. He had to go out.”13

“It’s alright, it is. I lost my dear sister the same way. Trust me. Everything will be fine. I promise.”

Chapter XII:
The Final Battle

Galdreil smiled at him and squezzed his hand. Her eyes shone. “Oh, Beoran.” Was all she said.

* * *

Every night, Beoran went to talk to Lady Galdriel. She loved to hear of his adventures. She always had. On the third night, however, she gave him a hug to say goodnight. On the fourth night, however, instead of saying good night, she asked him to stay and look at the orc base for her. It was pretty hard to see because it very far away and it was night. this is what he could see:

“The orcs fortress has two doors. There are dark shapes being handed out from the lower door. The look like swords but there are some bows. Many of the swords are being dipped in a bucket.”

“They are preparing for battle” Galdriel said.

* * *

It was true. The next night war crys were heard and thousand of feet and armor.

Not that Lorian was unprepared. They had two lines – one in front and one in behind them. Also, the Narions had heard by the wind that Lorian may be attacked, so they all headed there to help the fellowship by delaying the elves from battle.

The fellowship was surprisingly in neither of these lines, as they were heading to the end of the great river. It had now been twenty-four hours seince Beoran had aroused14 them from sleep and told everyone to get ready, Legolas muttering something about “untrustworthy git” yet they all were praying in there mind that the fight was still on.

* * *

They banked there boats and continued on foot, Aragon leading, until at exactly 12 miles from The great River they saw a fortress. It was made of round stones and mud. A medium sized mound lay in front of it. It had pink and blue flowers spouting up from it and woods behind it. Why the orcs did not touch this area remains a mystery.

Beoran said “they have one last source of strength. It lies in shadows in the dungeon. Be on your gurd. Orcs don’t all battle at the same time.”

* * *

 Soundlessly they crept through the earthenware corridors into the dark dungeons of the rock fortress and down to a far cornor in the back. Suddenly, the fellowship heard a scream coming from an upper room. Someone was in trouble! The fellowship could either go up or stay down. Legolas and Beoran went straight up. The knew what the others did not–The scream came from an elf maiden.

The fellowship followed Aragorn and Gandalf down a shadowy hole to the next level. In a showdy corner, There was a black and red glowing ball that seemed to be floating.

* * *

As Legolas and Beoran climbed and reached the exit, Beoran was behind him when he suddenly pushed Legolas down on his face. Beoran let him up a few seconds later.

Legolas turned around to see an arrow in the building, for Beoran saw what Legolas did not. Legolas saw Beoran get up and rushed over to his side “Thank you, Beoran. I can now truly trust you.”

* * *

The glowing ball had an axe, several swords, and Gandalf’s staff pointing at it. Gandalf whispered something to the ball and it devolped cracks and glew w/a fiercness not yet seen. “NOW!” He yelled and everyone stuck their weapon in. Gandalf whispered again. The ball vibrated, rubbing off on the weapons until they could hardly be held then

POW!

The ball exploded with blinding flashes and all the orcs turned to ash. And the wind blew the ashes away into the sea.

* * *

Legolas and Beoran were still searching for the screamer.

She came running to them, her dress drenched with blood–black and red. She came gasping to Legolas and fell at his feet. He lifted her up.

He almost cried when he discovered it was Erlant. He picked her up and ran to the mound. He set her down there. “Now I can finally love you.” she said, and kissed him.

Falmarin and Wenval came running towards him. “Please, Legolas, give her to us. She’ll die if she stays here.” It was Wenval.

“Legolas, please. If you truly love her, you will give her to us. Its the only way she will evr live.” That was Falmarin.

Trying hard not to cry he carried Erlant’s almost dead body to Falmarin and Wenval. They disappeared and Legolas was left alone. All that was left was sparkles.

Legolas took his golden arrow that Lady Galdriel had given him and stuck it into the ground where Erlant had laid. He bent down and cried. He cried and cried until Beoran came. The mound now had a name. It was Teardrop Mound. And Legolas had given it that name.

* * *

Legolas slept–a lot. He rarely ate. He often took long walks when he wasn’t sleeping, usually around the boats, as if he was toying with the idea of going to Tearddrop mound. One morning Beoran wasn’t surprised he was gone. He looked and saw Legolas sleeping near the mound. Beoran saw that he was not alone. Falmarin was with him, rubbing his back. Soon all Beoran could see were sparkles and Legolas waking up.

He got in the boat and rowed back to Lorian. When he returned the next morning, the first thing he did was ask for breakfast.

THE END

1. This story breaks canon not on the first page, but in the first paragraph. [Return]
2. How do you spell “Sauron” right in one paragraph and not in the next? And why a sheep farm? What kind of example his that? [Return]
3. Wait, what? Who is this random hobbit and why do they take her with them? [Return]
4. It’s probably worth noting that this character was based on the Eyrie neopet, because I was 12. [Return]
5. I was too young to know that pints were the standard beer size. [Return]
6. I wanted to show off that I knew hobbits learned to cook before they learned to read, but couldn’t figure out that adult hobbits wouldn’t need to “practice their letters”. [Return]
7. I sincerely thought “Beoran” was an original name when I wrote this, even though I’d read The Hobbit just a year before writing this nonsense. [Return]
8. That’s it. I will never write anything better than the story of Thranduil’s love life. Please consider this my retirement from fiction. [Return]
9. This is how I end all my confrontations. By going to dinner. [Return]
10. Here’s the thing: I knew that the elves had all left for the Grey Havens. I just chose to ignore it. [Return]
11. Likewise, I knew that Bill the Pony had not been in the picture for some time, but refused to write him out. [Return]
12. Let’s not kid ourselves. I wanted to have umbreons in this story but change it just enough so they were original. [Return]
13. Oh, and Celeborn is dead because no canon is sacred in this terrible, terrible story. [Return]
14. “Aroused” doesn’t always mean the same thing as “roused”, but I didn’t know that at the time. This could have been a very different chapter if I had. [Return}

Tithe 2: Tall, Dark, and Brooding

I really expected that the magic of re-reading Tithe for the first time in years would be gone as soon as Kaye stumbled across her love interest, Roiben. I opened the book, armed with my incredible ability to nit-pick everything, and came away more or less satisfied with the second chapter.

No, let’s be honest, I got totally sucked in again.

It didn’t really start that way, though. Kaye flees the carousel and her own embarrassment, and starts on her way home. She’s more upset about how she made the broken carousel horse stand up on its own than about Kenny groping her, which makes sense, I guess, but in her situation, that’s not the thing I’d be hyper-focusing on. When she does think about Kenny, she’s more worried about what Janet will think, and what Kenny will tell people.

But the opening of the chapter is rendered less frustrating to me thanks to the lovely descriptions of Kaye’s walk home. I can vividly picture the wet woods at night, walking through the rain in the dark, cold and scared. I’m really envious of Holly Black’s descriptive abilities. She can make the scene come to life and paint a picture with her words, without making it drag on.

As Kaye makes her way home, she comes across a beautiful wounded man. She realizes that he is a faerie, but not like the faeries that were her childhood friends. The ones she had seen as a child were small and mischievous and playful, what most people would think of when they hear the word “faery”. Roiben, who Kaye finds here, is tall and handsome, more a warrior elf than a fun-loving sprite. The modern idea of fae is more like what we see in Disney movies: beautiful winged women granting wishes and turning you into a princess or a real boy. Tinkerbell may actually be closer to a traditional fae, with her jealousy nearly leading to the death of Wendy.

But for the most part, that Disney idea was what I grew up with. Charming creatures that would help you with your housework and friendly elves that made toys and shoes. A character like Roiben, in my book, was an entirely different species, like an elf from Lord of the RingsTithe was my first real introduction to the more traditional look at faeries, seeing their dark and dangerous side that went hand-in-hand with their beauty.

Roiben, by the way, was exactly what my fourteen-year-old self was looking for. Tall, handsome, dark and mysterious. He was in pain, he was broken, and I found that irresistible. Five years later, I found my own beautiful angsty man and knew that I could fix him, that I could be the light to his darkness.

If there are any teenage girls out there reading this now: I do not recommend attempting this. You cannot fix him, you will only get hurt in the process. Love your tall, dark, and brooding man in fiction, and leave him there.

Before I finish up this post, there is just one thing I need to point out.

She let out a breath she hadn’t known she was holding.

It’s not a bad line, and I can’t think of a better way to describe that sudden un-tightening of your chest after your see relief from a tense situation. But this line is used so much in fiction that it’s almost become another character. I know I’m guilty of using it way too much.

To be totally honest, this is probably something I would have never noticed, if not for one of my favorite tweets ever.

Someday I want to write a YA novel where the main character lets out a breath she knew damn well that she was holding.

P.S.: I’m on Twitter, like all the cool kids: https://twitter.com/nortonwriter14

Tithe 4: Enchantment? Enchantment!

The fourth chapter of Tithe remains mostly in the mundane world, but here we get a second look at Janet’s older brother, Corny. The reader was introduced to him at the end of the first chapter, where he’s downright threatening.

Then he would drive around, cruise past all the local rutting joints, imagining he had a semi-automatic rifle in the car and counting how many he could have gotten. ‘Pow,’ he’d say, softly, to rolled-up windows as a brown-haired boy with broad shoulders and a backwards baseball cap ran up to the giggling girls behind the window of a red truck. ‘Pow. Pow.’

This reads very differently for me in 2018 than it did in 2004, years after Columbine but before Virginia Tech. Because in my life then, shootings happened, but they happened somewhere else. They weren’t at my school, and they weren’t at my doorstep.

But now it seems like we can’t turn on the news without hearing another story about gun violence, to the point where it’s almost become white noise. I was more innocent the first time I opened Tithe, and Corny’s introduction just seemed creepy to me. But now he’d be the “lone wolf”, the potential threat. I don’t find that to be true to his character at all, which makes his opening sequence all the more off-putting. Though it makes me wonder: if not for Kaye’s arrival, would he have eventually gone through with it? That idea alone is far scarier to me than any of the magical dangers Kaye faces.

Kaye doesn’t know about Corny’s inner life, though, and stops by his trailer to see him while Janet’s at school. Fourteen-year-old me immediately warmed up to him after he and Kaye discuss comics, especially because Corny references shonen-ai, gay romance manga. This is also how Kaye discovers that Corny is gay.

This is a trope I’ve seen a couple times, where a character is outed as gay because they have gay porn. And, because I saw this in fiction, I used to think that this was the main way people came out. I’d seen it done in Tithe, obviously, and the film Saved!, so I was curious if this trope had been used elsewhere. However, a poorly worded Google search left me with some…interesting results, and I decided not to delve in further.

Corny does have a spectacularly nerdy coming out story, though.

It’s no big deal. One night at dinner I said, ‘Mom, you know the forbidden love that Spock has for Kirk? Well, me too.’ It was easier for her to understand that way.

I want to point out here that until 2009, this was the only thing I knew about Star Trek.

Once Janet arrives home, she and Kaye go to a diner to meet some friends. There Kaye is peppered with questions about her mom being in a band, and one character asks if her mother sleeps with her boyfriends. I’m curious is if this was meant to be foreshadowing for Valiant, the second novel in the Tithe universe, in which the protagonist runs away after discovering her mom is doing just that.

Janet’s boyfriend, Kenny, leaves to use the bathroom and Kaye follows. Here it’s revealed that Kaye has done something to him, and that he can’t stop thinking about her. Kaye doesn’t know what she’s done, if anything, and soon Kenny starts kissing her. It gets sexual very quickly, and Kaye can’t decide if she wants to push him away or keep going. I’d forgotten all about this scene, and most of the Kenny subplot. Which is to say it took me by surprise, and was really uncomfortable to read through.

I’m not sure if it gets better or worse when Roiben comes into the diner, shortly after Janet catches Kenny and Kaye together. Kaye’s conversation with Roiben is one of the most important scenes in the book, as it sets up a major plot point not just for the end of Tithe, but its sequel, Ironside.

Kaye learns that Roiben did kill her faerie friend Gristle, because he was ordered to do so by his mistress. She doesn’t find out exactly why his mistress would order him to do that, but does wind up with a far more important piece of information: Roiben’s full name. She doesn’t know why faeries don’t like to give out their true names, only that it would piss him off. That is, until she tells him, “Kiss my ass, Rath Roiben Rye.”

After which he proceeds to throw her on the floor of the diner and literally kiss her ass.

It’s a little funny, and a little scary, and Kaye’s friends don’t know what’s going on. All they saw was Kaye kissing Kenny, then her getting thrown around by a stranger. Janet and her friend Fatima take the rather startled Kaye outside. Janet is furious at Kaye, and has every right to be. It’s such a change from her trying to protect Kaye at the beginning of the book. Granted, she just saw her best friend making out with her boyfriend. Most people wouldn’t react calmly and rationally to that. If I had been in Janet’s shoes, at age 16, I know I’d be calling her a slut and probably a lot more.

The thing that bothers me is that I’d probably react the same, even now. I’d like to think that once the initial shock is over, I’d be able to handle it with some nuance.

But I also know I wouldn’t take, “sorry, I accidentally enchanted your boyfriend” as an excuse.