By Dolores J. Nurss
Part Double Zero
Some of you might feel a need for a little more information about the nuts and bolts of this story.
First of all, although some have classified it as a �fanfic novel� it follows more of an episodic
pattern, as ancient as the tales of Odysseus and as modern as any television show with a strong story-arc. You might prefer reading it one or two episodes at a time, rather than taking on the daunting task of trying to plow through the entire thing all at once, or volume by volume, if you prefer. In fact, I originally delivered this as a serial, where readers had to wait a week before the next episode whether they wanted to or not. For that matter, if you happen upon this story before I have finished it (It has taken years) you might still find yourself waiting, in the end, for the next episode.
Second, it is �A.U.��that is, alternate universe fanfic, but of a rather special kind, explained late into the tale. Do not let the occasional discrepancies, like the existence of an extra child in the Gamgee family, or a change in the death-date of the Gaffer, dismay you. You shall arrive at an explanation for any number of oddities in due time.
Third, I have followed the following premises for my background:
1) I treat anything in �the Hobbit�, �The Lord of the Rings�, and �The Silmarillion�, as the received history of this world, the authoritative version, whether correctly or incorrectly recorded. Discrepancies shall be duly explained in time.
2) I treat �Unfinished Tales� as the sort of controversial material that historians might fight over�possibly authentic, yet not universally accepted.
3) I treat anything in �Lost Tales� and any other �History of Middle Earth� source as rumors, legends, folklore, propaganda, crank theories, intuitive insights, bare-faced lies, long-lost truths, or speculation. I assume that somewhere in Middle Earth somebody believes in one or more of these often contradictory premises, running the full gamut of error, distortion, or verity.
And finally, a word about language. I have done my best to fit my language into Tolkien�s milieu, though it might not always seem that way. The difference is that I deal mainly with the speech of Harfoot hobbits--rather different from the dialect of the Fallowhide Hobbits that dominated �The Lord of the Rings�, yet as faithful as I can manage to the speech of Sam, the Gaffer, the customers at �The Green Dragon� and others of their kind.
The other predominant group would be citizens of Nurn, a district in Mordor now occupied by former slaves and their descendants, long dominated by or even raised by orcs, and none too gracious in their speech. However, I have endeavored to �translate� their occasional profanity so literally as to not seem egregiously profane to the reader. I hope, nevertheless, that you find some of these struggling souls charming, in defiance of the disability of their upbringing.
One word seems to provoke more controversy than any other, and that is the word, �ain�t.� I have been told by several people, repeatedly, that as �American slang�, it has no place in stories about Middle Earth. A trusted scholar, however, has sent me references proving that the word actually originated in the slums of London, and crops up in English literature, including Dickens. More to the point, however, Tolkien used it, himself, in his novels�Sam says it, the Gaffer says it, and much to my surprise, Treebeard says it! I rest my case.
I hope you enjoy this work, which has cost me so much difficulty and yet would not let me rest from it. I must confess that I have found some of its twists and turns rather shocking, myself, yet my every attempt to hurl the tale away from me and write no more of it met with shouts of resistence, both within myself and from my readers. For better or for worse, then, it had to be written, and presented in such a way that total strangers could read it, no matter how daunting I found it. I hope that it holds whatever you might need from it, or want from it, or can tolerate from it. It starts out innocently enough, at least...