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An Unexpected Adventure  by KathyG

(Co-written by KathyG and Dreamflower.)  In the spring of 2012, four American children find themselves thrust into an unfamiliar fantasy world and part of an unexpected adventure.  This story is AU and blends Lord of the Rings book-verse and movie-verse.  This story also contains a lot of spiritual and religious content as a part of the AU elements.  (Posted with permission from the admins of SoA.)

Disclaimer: The world of Middle-earth and all its peoples belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien; the three films of The Lord of the Rings belongs to New Line Cinema and to Peter Jackson.  This story is not for profit, but is a gift for the enjoyment of those who read it.

Citations: In most chapters, there will be some quotations directly from both the books and/or the movies.  Quotations from Tolkien's books are in italics, and quotations from the movies are underlined.  Occasional quotations from other sources as well as silent dialogue, words spoken in emphasis, and passages from the Bible will also be in italics, and those citations will be footnoted at the end of each chapter in which they occur. We will also footnote research sources and credit the ideas of other people.

Thanks: We would also like to acknowledge the invaluable help of our beta, LindaHoyland, another well-known and prolific LotR fanwriter, whose many wonderful stories also grace this site.

Chapter 1: A Whole New World   

Arwen slowly put down the shuttle.  She could not remember weaving the last several rows on her loom.  She had just had a waking dream, a vision that was most strange.  She needed to tell her father at once, even though she hated to burden him with a new worry.  But he must know immediately.  

She put down her shuttle and, rising, went forth from her room to seek out Elrond, finding him in his study with Gandalf.  She knocked, and he bade her enter.

"Ada, I must tell you of something—I had a vision.  It was more than a brief foresight."

Both Elrond and Gandalf sat up even straighter, a look of alarm on both their faces.  Arwen, like her mother and grandmother before her, had the gift of foresight, and anything that came to her at a time like this was certainly urgent.

"Please, daughter, tell me what visions trouble you."

"I saw the opening to the Hidden Pass on the other side of the valley.  Out from it came four children of the race of Men.  Two, a boy and a girl, were youths, but the other two were very young indeed.  There was a young boy and an even younger girl, no more than four or five years of age at the most; they were all dressed most strangely, and had with them a puppy.  I could not hear what they said among themselves, but it was clear that they were lost, alone, and in distress.  I also sensed that their presence here is important in some way."

Elrond stood immediately.  "Without a guide to the bridge, they will never find their way here.  Summon your brothers and Glorfindel, and ask them to bring at least two others.  I will join them, and we shall go to meet these unexpected visitors."

"Yes, Ada!  At once."  Satisfied that action would be taken, Arwen hastened away.

Gandalf rose also.  "I think I shall come along with you as well, my old friend."

-oo000oo-

“What is this place?” Jennifer asked softly.  “It’s so beautiful!”  For a long moment, she gaped at their lush surroundings.  A loud-flowing river ran through the bottom of the valley, and the pale, cool sun hung far above the far, snow-capped mountains on the other side of the valley, and shone down on the huge, lovely basin that spread below them.  At last, Jennifer exchanged a bewildered glance with her brothers and sister.

“Uh, is—is this where we say, ‘I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore’?”  She snorted.  “Or Oregon, rather?”

“No kidding!”  Kevin snorted in his turn.  “Here’s where we could use a pair of ruby slippers, so we could click our heels together and say, ‘There’s no place like home’!”  Jennifer smiled in spite of herself, and choked back a laugh.

“Maybe it’s Oz!” Kaylee squealed, bouncing on her heels and clutching Lucy to her chest.  For the moment, she had forgotten her dread of not having their parents with them.

“Hardly, and a good thing, too!” said Kevin, with a laugh.  He bent over Kaylee, a teasing expression on his face.  “How’d you like to bump into the Wicked Witch of the West?” he said in a mock-sinister voice.  Wide-eyed, Kaylee shook her head rapidly.

“Well, whatever this place is, I’ve never heard of Wallowa Lake State Park having it,” Jennifer said.  

“Neither have I,” Kevin agreed.  Straightening his back, he gazed at the elegant complex of buildings jutting out of the cliff on the far side of the valley, and then scanned a thick forest ahead of them, a mixture of bewilderment and apprehension etching his youthful face.  “Right now, we need to find out where we are!  Mom and Dad are going to worry if we don’t get back to the campsite soon.  They told us not to be gone long.  We’re supposed to be helping them set up the tents.”

“Yeah,” said Joey.  “And Uncle Ryan and Aunt Janet—they’re gonna be worried, too.”  Kaylee began to whimper, but Jennifer put an arm around her shoulder and hugged the little girl to her side.   

A narrow path descended from the ledge and ended at the entrance to the forest.  A steep cliff dropped down from each side of it.  Cautiously, the children stepped onto that path and minced their way down it to the ground opposite.  As they stepped off that path, they came to the edge of the dense woods that completely blocked their way to the elegant house.  They could see no path into the forest to point their way.

“Well—let’s go.”  Kevin sighed.  “There’s no way around this forest that I can see.”

“No, there’s not,” Jennifer agreed.

“If we can get to those buildings, we can ask permission to use their phone.”

“Phone!” Jennifer gasped. Reaching into her right jacket pocket, she pulled out her iPhone.  “I’ve gotta call Mom and Daddy!  If we can do that, we won’t have to use those people’s phone.”

She rose to her feet, pressed the button that turned on the dial tone, and then held the iPhone to her ear.  To her disappointment, the phone remained silent.  Making a face, she looked at her siblings.

“No signal.”  Jennifer shook her head.  “Let me see if I can text Mom and Daddy.”

Clicking on the menu button and scanning the shortcuts that appeared on the screen, she clicked on the link that took her to the text page, and then pulled up the onscreen keyboard.  Tapping the letters, she typed, M/D we r n trouble.  We r lost.  Everything shook.  cave went dark, changed.  Everything changed.  Came out n strange place.  IDK where we r.  plz come find us!  911!

She chose their parents’ cell phone numbers and then clicked on “Send,” but to her disappointment, an error message popped up on the screen.  The message could not be sent.

Sighing, Jennifer dropped the iPhone back into her backpack, zipped it back up, and slid the backpack over her back once more.  “I can’t text them, either.”  She looked at Kevin.  “OK, what we do now?”

“Try to get to those buildings, if we can find a way through these woods.”  Kevin grimaced as he peered into the thick cluster of trees ahead.  Apprehension roiled in his gut.  Would they be able to find their way through?  “Where’s a compass when you need one?” he muttered.  Out loud, he added,  “Dad gave me a copy of the park ranger’s phone number, in case we needed it; it’s in my pocket.”  He patted the side of his jeans.  “When we get to that place, whatever it is, we’ll call his office.  I’m sure the owner will let us use his phone if we ask.”

Jennifer nodded.  “Let’s hope whoever lives there’s got a car.”

“Yeah.”  Kevin looked down at Kaylee, who looked as if she was about to cry, and his voice softened.  “We’ll be back with Mom and Dad just as soon as we can, Kaylee.”  Chewing her lower lip, which curled downward, the little girl nodded.  Kevin gently squeezed her shoulder.

Jennifer nodded in her turn.  She knew that Kevin was feeling apprehensive about entering that woods; she shared that uneasiness.  They could get lost in that forest all too easily, especially since they didn’t have a map or a compass to help them find their way; in fact, they already were lost.  “Right.”  She glanced down at the children.  “Kaylee, Joey, stay close to us, and hold onto Lucy.”  Nodding, Joey and Kaylee preceded their older brother and sister into the forest, with Kaylee clasping Lucy to her chest.

-oo000oo-

Arwen watched as her father, brothers, Gandalf, and the others rode away.  Then she turned and went back into the house.  "Eledhwen!  Mairen!" she called.  "Gather my ladies; we have more unexpected guests to prepare for.”

The last few weeks had been busy ones; the arrival of so many unlooked-for guests all at once—Men, Dwarves, and Elves from Mithlond and Mirkwood, converging with the looked-for arrival of Aragorn and the hobbits, and culminating in the fateful Council that her father had hosted the day before—had given her much to do.  As her father's chatelaine, it was she who was responsible for so much of the famed hospitality of Imladris.

And now four more unexpected travellers, under such strange circumstances.  And such young travellers, at that.  She wondered what their story might be.

-oo000oo-

Meanwhile, just as Kevin and Jennifer had feared, the children found themselves lost in the woods.  Pine trees surrounded them at first, and needles and pine cones littered the ground.  As they went further into the forest, the surrounding trees changed to beech and oak.  Because there was no path, they didn’t have any idea which way to go.  They could no longer see the cluster of big elegant buildings up ahead, or the tunnel that they had left; the surrounding trees blocked them both out of the children’s sight now.  They were all frightened; they didn’t know what had happened, or where they were.

“Where are we?” Jennifer whispered into Kevin’s ear.  “I can't see those buildings anymore!”  She looked behind her; the surrounding trees blocked her view in the other direction as well.  “I can’t see my way back to the tunnel, either!”

Kevin nodded agreement, pressing his lips into a tight line.  “I can’t either, Jen, but let’s not frighten Joey and Kaylee,” he whispered back.  Jennifer nodded, and took a deep breath.  She and Kevin had to be strong for Joey and Kaylee, she knew.

“Mom and Daddy are gonna be worried,” Joey said out loud, his voice tight with fear.  “We gotta go back!”

Kevin squeezed his shoulder.  “We’ll just have to do our best to get back to the campsite as fast as we can, so they won’t worry.  But first, we gotta find those buildings.  We need help to get back, Joey.”  Silently, he prayed, Please, God, get us safely back to the campsite, fast!  In Jesus’ name, amen.

“I want my mommy,” Kaylee whimpered.  “I want my daddy.”  Jennifer squeezed her little sister’s shoulder, and Kaylee clutched Lucy to her chest, burying her face in the puppy’s soft fur.

Suddenly, a bunch of strange-looking men on horses cantered out of the trees towards them, riding single-file.  One of them had a long, greyish-white beard and mustache, a pair of bushy, greyish-white eyebrows, and dark eyes; he wore a weird-looking grey robe, a tall, pointed, bluish-grey hat, a greyish-silver scarf draped around his shoulders and underneath his beard, and immense black boots on his feet.  The rest of the men were all thin, long-haired, and beardless, and they had pointed ears.  Only the bearded man’s horse had a saddle; the rest of the men were riding bareback.

Thinking that these strange men meant to hurt them, the children huddled close together; a terrified Kaylee screamed and, clutching Lucy more tightly against her chest, burrowed her face into Jennifer’s chest and started crying.  “Please don’t hurt my puppy!” she screamed, sobbing.

The strange-looking men brought their horses to a halt, and one of them, a dark-haired man with grey eyes, dismounted and approached the children, amusement etched on his beardless face.  “Little one,” he told Kaylee, “we are not going to harm your puppy, or you, either.  You and your puppy are safe.”  Kneeling, he spent a few minutes calming Kaylee down, during which time he wiped the tears off her face and rubbed Lucy’s head.

He rose to his feet.  “Where are you children from?” he asked.

The children exchanged a glance.  “Uh, Portland,” Kevin said.

At the men’s puzzled expression, Jennifer nodded agreement.  “That’s right.  Portland.”  She stared up at them all, scanning their faces.  “Uh, aren't you guys from around here?”  She scanned the surrounding forest as she spoke, and then gazed back at the strange man who stood in front of them.

Are these people actors or something? she wondered, scanning their faces in bewilderment.  They’re sure dressed weird!  Like they’re from the Middle Ages or something.  I wonder if they’re in the SCA?

"Are you from the Barony of Three Mountains?*" Jennifer asked, tilting her head in puzzlement as she spoke.  Her friend Nicole had a cousin in the SCA.  If there was an event at the park, that might explain the strange clothing.

Now it was the strange men’s turn to exchange puzzled glances.  “I am afraid we have never heard of the place, or of this Portland either,” the man who had greeted them said.  “You can tell us more about this Portland and this Barony later.  What are your names?”

Biting his lower lip, Kevin scanned the strangers; they seemed a little weird, but right now, as lost as they were, they didn't have much choice but to trust them.  He'd definitely keep a watchful eye on them, though, in case any of them gave him reason not to trust them.  Raising his right hand in greeting, Kevin cleared his throat and took a step forward, extending his hand.  “My name’s Kevin.  Kevin McCloud.  Hi.”  He shook the man’s hand and then turned to his siblings.  “This is my brother, Joey, and my sisters, Jennifer and Kaylee.”  He gestured to each girl in turn as he introduced his sisters.  

Remembering her manners, Jennifer cleared her throat.  “Hi.  We’re, uh, we’re pleased to meet you.  All of you.  How do you do?”  Clearing her throat again, she raised her own hand in greeting.

The man nodded.  “Well met, Lady Jennifer, Lord Kevin.”

Jennifer gaped up at him, puzzled.  Lady Jennifer?!  Lord Kevin?!  She exchanged a bewildered glance with Kevin.  What kind of place is this?! she wondered.  Out loud, she said, “Our school’s out for spring break; that’s why we’re not in school today.”

Spring break?”  The man furrowed his brows in evident puzzlement, and then shrugged.  “Ah.”  The man glanced down at Lucy.  “And the puppy—does it have a name?”

“Her name’s Lucy,” Kaylee announced, hugging the wriggling puppy to her chest.  The man smiled again.

“May I hold her?” he asked Kaylee, as he knelt in front of her.  Nodding, Kaylee handed the puppy to him.  Wagging her tail, Lucy whined, yipped, and licked the man’s face as he rubbed her fur.

“This puppy has just recently been weaned,” he said, as he handed Lucy back to Kaylee.  It was not a question; he knew.  Kevin and Jennifer nodded.

“She’s just nine weeks old,” Kevin said.  “We’ve only had her a week.  She’s not housebroken yet.”

Kaylee bit her lower lip as the pain and fear returned to her eyes.  “Where’s my mommy?” she asked Elrond.  “Where’s my daddy?”

“I don’t think this man can tell us, Kaylee.”  Jennifer glanced around the dense forest surrounding them.  “Uh, where are we?” she asked.  “We’re—uh, we’re still in Oregon, right?”

Rising to his feet again, the man looked at her, puzzled.  “I do not know where this Oregon is, Lady Jennifer, but no, this is not it.  This is the valley of Rivendell.  I am Master Elrond, at your service, and this valley is my home.”

The children gaped at one another, bewildered.  “Rivendell?!” Kevin asked.  “Wallowa Lake State Park doesn’t have a valley by that name.”

Elrond’s mouth quirked upward.  “Perhaps not, but Middle-earth does.”

Frowns of bewilderment etched the children’s faces.  “Middle-earth?” Jennifer repeated.  “There’s no place on earth called Middle-earth!”  

“Indeed?”  A blank expression flitted across Elrond’s face, and then he shook his head.  “Well, children, you are indeed in Middle-earth.”

Kevin bit his lip, a worried expression in his eyes.  Well, we sure can’t call the park ranger, then!  He exchanged an apprehensive glance with Jennifer.  “Well, wherever we are, we’ve got to get back to where we come from.  Our parents and our youngest sister, and our aunt and uncle—they’re all waiting for us back at the campsite, and they’ll be worried.  We weren’t supposed to be gone long.”  His siblings exchanged apprehensive glances.  Tears welled up in Kaylee’s eyes, and she buried her face in Lucy’s fur again.  Jennifer put a comforting arm around her little sister’s shoulders.

Elrond nodded.  “Unfortunately, we cannot open a way for you to return to your world.  But we will do everything in our power to help you.  Come with us to the Last Homely House, and we’ll see what we can do.”

Joey fidgeted.  “Please, Mr. Elrond, we’ve got to get back now!  Our mom and daddy’ll be worried.”

Elrond knelt in front of Joey.  “Master Joey, the last thing any of us wants to do is to worry your parents,” he said gently.  “If it were in my power to send you back to your world, I would do it immediately.  But I cannot, so I will have to find another way to help you.  We will have to go to my house to do that.”

He looked at Kaylee, who looked as if she was going to start crying, and his voice softened further.  “Miss Kaylee, I know it is frightening to be separated from your parents like this, but we are going to take good care of you and your brothers and sister while you are here.  And we will do everything in our power to find a way to return you children to your mother and father.”  He wiped a tear that was just starting to trickle down the little girl’s soft face.

Reluctantly, the children nodded acquiescence.  “You’ll have to excuse Kaylee, Mr. Elrond,” Jennifer said, as he rose to his feet.  “It’s hard for her to be separated from Mom and Daddy, especially for long.”  She ruffled her little sister’s hair, and Elrond nodded in understanding.

“Uh, there’s just one thing, Mr. Elrond,” Kevin said.  “None of us knows how to ride.  We’ve never even been on a horse.”  He furrowed his eyebrows.  “Don’t you have a car?”

“How would he drive it, if he did?” Jennifer asked her brother.  “There are no roads in this forest, Kevin.  Not even a dirt path.  The trees are so thick, not even a jeep can get through.”

Kevin scanned the surrounding forest and shook his head.  “Nope, there’s sure not.”  Sighing, he grimaced.  “And the trees sure are thick!”

Elrond furrowed his own eyebrows in puzzlement.  “I do not know what a car is, Lady Jennifer, but we do not have one.”  He turned toward the other long-haired men.  “Glorfindel, Elladan, would you assist me in helping these children to mount?”

With inclined heads, Glorfindel and Elladan dismounted their own horses.  “I will have to hold your puppy when it is your turn to mount, Miss Kaylee,” Elrond told the little girl.

He assisted Jennifer in mounting behind one of the strange men, and Glorfindel helped Kevin to mount Elrond’s own horse.  Elrond helped Joey to remove his bulging backpack and then lifted up the little boy toward the old bearded man, who pulled him up in front of him on his horse and took Joey’s backpack, sliding it up toward his own shoulder.

After Glorfindel had remounted his horse, Elrond took Lucy from Kaylee and handed the puppy to Glorfindel, who held her as he re-mounted his horse.  Elrond then lifted Kaylee to another of the strange men, after which he mounted his own horse in front of Kevin, who wrapped his arms around Elrond’s chest.

As they rode off, single file, Gandalf sat with Joey in front of him, one arm around the child’s waist, Joey’s backpack dangling from Gandalf’s shoulder; the child was gazing about with wide-eyed astonishment at the surrounding dense forest.  He noted the boy's—Joey, he recalled—fascination with the Elves.  He was surprised at the child's silence, but perhaps that could be attributed to the sudden change in his circumstances.  Gandalf gazed about at Joey's siblings, who were also quiet but observant.  The youngest girl kept looking down fearfully, and she was sucking her thumb.  Of course, these children had said that they had never ridden horses before, and it was already evident that the little girl, in particular, was afraid to be separated from her parents.

Joey fidgeted a bit.  "Umm…sir?"

"Yes, lad?"

"What’s your name?  I can't remember it."

"You may call me Gandalf, Joey."

"Mr. Gandalf, what’s that roaring noise I keep hearing?  It sounds like loud traffic or maybe an airplane, but we’re out in the middle of nowhere."

Gandalf was unsure what the child meant by "traffic" and "airplane", but he knew what the noise was.  "Those are waterfalls, Joey."

Just then, they came out of the forest, and Joey could see the cluster of buildings once more, as well as the waterfalls that surrounded the valley.  "Wow!" he said.  “Cool!”  He exchanged an excited glance with his siblings.  Forgetting her fright, Kaylee bounced once on the saddle, but the beardless, long-haired man behind her tightened his hold on the little girl, thus restraining her from bouncing again.

“This is the Last Homely House east of the Sea,” Gandalf told Joey.

“These buildings are all one house?”  Joey’s mouth dropped open.

“They certainly are,” Elrond answered.

Jennifer furrowed her eyebrows, puzzled.  “Uh, if this is the Last Homely House, where’s the first?”

Elrond and Gandalf exchanged amused expressions.  “This is the Last Homely House and the First, Lady Jennifer,” Elrond said.  “It all depends on from which direction one approaches.  It is the Last Homely House east of the Sea, and the First Homely House west of the Misty Mountains.”  The children exchanged bewildered glances.

“Weird,” muttered Joey.

“The sea can’t be the Pacific Ocean,” Jennifer said, “not if we’re no longer in Oregon or anywhere else in the United States.  But it can’t be the Atlantic Ocean, either—that’d mean we were in Europe or Africa.  I know we’re not in any of the eastern states—we’d be west of the Atlantic if we were.”  She shrugged, exchanging a bewildered glance with Kevin.

“Don’t look at me,” Kevin said.  “I don’t know which ocean they’re talking about, either.”  He paused.  “The Mediterranean Sea, perhaps?”

“I don’t know.  Good question.”  Furrowing her eyebrows, Jennifer chewed her lower lip.  “Somehow, I don’t think so.  Anyway, that’s in Europe, and I don’t see how we could have ended up in Europe.”  She paused, furrowing her eyebrows.  “Not like this.  And Europe has the Swiss Alps and Asia has the Himalayas, but I’ve never heard of either of them having any Misty Mountains.”

Kevin nodded.  “Me, neither.  And America sure doesn’t!”

Elrond and Gandalf said nothing aloud, but exchanged a worried look; it was clear that wherever these young ones were from, neither wizard nor Elven Lore-master had heard of any of them.  It made the prospects of locating their parents seem less likely.

They rode down a wide pathway towards the Last Homely House, and Gandalf noticed that Arwen had gathered several of the staff with her to await their return.  As they crossed the bridge and drew close enough to see the Elves more clearly, Joey's jaw dropped.  "Whoa!  She's beautiful!"

Gandalf chuckled.  Even this youngster was not proof against the Evenstar's ethereal beauty.  He recalled Pippin's first sight of the Lady of Rivendell.  His jaw had dropped in just the same way.  Patting Joey's shoulder lightly, he said softly, "She is, indeed, my lad."

The horses halted in front of the terrace.  After dismounting, Elrond helped the children to do the same, one at a time, and then he handed Joey his backpack.  Joey stared at Gandalf’s outfit for a long moment, as he thrust his arms through his backpack’s handles, one arm at a time.  When his backpack was dangling from his back again, he asked, “Mr. Gandalf, why are you dressed like a wizard?”

Gandalf chuckled.  “I am dressed like a wizard, my lad, because I am a wizard.”

“What?”  Joey’s jaw dropped.  “No way!”

“Yeah, wizards don’t really exist!” Jennifer blurted out.

Elrond’s mouth quirked upward, and he and Gandalf exchanged amused glances.  The other long-haired men and Arwen all chuckled.  “They do here, Lady Jennifer, Master Joey,” Master Elrond told the two.  Joey gaped up at him in astonishment, and Kevin and Jennifer stared at each other in shock.

Smiling broadly, Kaylee bounced on her heels in excitement.  “Like in King Arthur?” she squealed.

Elrond chuckled again.  “I have never heard of King Arthur, Miss Kaylee, but yes, they do exist here.”

He turned to the other long-haired men and began speaking.  "Prepare refreshments for our new guests, once they have had a chance to see their rooms.  You will need to find some suitable food for their puppy.  She has only recently been weaned."  Turning to the children, he added, “My Elves will prepare you some food.”

Kevin and Jennifer exchanged stunned glances.  Elves?  There was no such thing; elves, like wizards, were just imaginary fairy-tale creatures!  Joey shook his head in bewilderment; he had learned the truth about Santa Claus and his elves a year earlier, and he did not know what to make of this.

Kaylee, on the other hand, got excited again; she was still a wide-eyed believer.  “Santa Claus?” she squealed again, as she jumped up and down.

“Hardly!” said Kevin, with a laugh.  “Take a good look around you, Kaylee!  This isn’t the North Pole.”

Elrond’s brows creased again, that time in puzzlement.  Guessing the meaning behind that look, Jennifer mouthed, ‘Tell you later.’  Elrond nodded in understanding and turned to Arwen, who had just joined them with a few other ladies.

"Children, this is my daughter, Arwen Undómiel.  She is the lady of the Last Homely House, and she will be helping you while you are here.”  He turned back to his daughter.

“Muin nín,” he told Arwen, “this is young Kevin McCloud, his sisters, Jennifer and Kaylee, and his younger brother, Joey.”  Elrond gestured to each child as he introduced them.  “And their dog, Lucy, nine weeks old and only weaned a few weeks ago.”  He nodded toward the puppy as Kaylee picked her up.  “You may show these children to their chambers.”

With a nod, Arwen, along with two other ladies of her household, led the children up the stairs to the wide terraced porch and into the house.  "These ladies are my friends, Eledhwen and Mairen,” Arwen told the children.  “They will be attending to your needs while you are here."  The children looked up shyly.  Kevin blushed furiously.  He'd never seen such beautiful ladies in his life!  Arwen smiled, amused.  She did not tell the children that Eledhwen had been nursemaid to her brothers and herself, or that Mairen had been nursemaid to Estel when he was young.

They passed through the wide corridors to the rooms Arwen had prepared for the children.  Her foresight had helped her to know what their ages and genders were, beforehand.  As they turned into another corridor, Arwen paused and threw open a door.  "This is the nearest bathing room."  The children peeked in to see what looked like a steaming swimming pool!  There were shelves loaded with white cloths, presumably towels and washcloths.  On another shelf were elegant bottles of glass in all the colors of the rainbow, as well as a basket heaped with bars of white soap.  The whole room smelled of herbs.  Jennifer's face lit up, and she almost took an involuntary step into the room, before she blushed and stepped back.

Arwen gave her a smile and put an arm around her shoulders.  "You shall get a chance to soak to your heart's content later, Lady Jennifer."  Jennifer smiled back.

They passed two more doors, and then Arwen opened a door on the left.  "This shall be your room, Lord Kevin."  They looked in to see a huge room with wide windows.  It was airy and light.  The large bed was carved with branches and leaves.  There was a small table and two chairs, a washstand, and a clothes chest.  However, there were no overhead light bulbs or light switches on the walls, Kevin noticed, nor could he see any electrical plug-ins on the walls.  Instead, there were candles set in sconces and in a gleaming silver candelabrum.  He slipped his backpack off of his back and laid it on the table.  He shrugged out of his jacket and draped it over the back of a chair.

"Your sisters and brother will be nearby, across the hall," Arwen told him, as she opened the door on the right.  That room was much larger.  It contained two beds, smaller than the one in Kevin's room.  In addition to a clothes chest and washstand, there was a set of shelves along one wall on which could be seen some stuffed toys and some other toys that were carved out of wood, a few books with leather covers, and a ball made of leather that was just a bit larger than a softball.  An adult-sized rocking chair stood next to a small fireplace, and a low table surrounded by four child-size chairs stood not far from the window.  The large window seat had pillows on it.  Like Kevin’s new guest room, it had no light bulbs, light switches, or plug-ins—only candles.

“You may as well take off your backpacks and leave them in here,” Jennifer told Joey and Kaylee.  “Your jackets, too.  We’re not going to need them here.  Not right now, anyway.”

“No, we’re not,” Kevin agreed.

Joey removed his backpack and dropped it on the floor, and then he pulled off his jacket and tossed it onto the bed.  Exasperation showed in Jennifer’s face as she stared down at Kaylee, whose own back was covered only by her jacket and her pullover long-sleeved shirt.  “Oh, Kaylee!  You forgot your backpack and left it back at the campsite, didn’t you?”  Biting her lower lip, Kaylee nodded.  Jennifer sighed and shook her head.

“Backpack?”  Arwen gazed at Jennifer quizzically.  The young girl sighed.

“Yes, ma’am, we’re supposed to take our backpacks with us whenever we leave the campsite.  Mom and Daddy’s orders.”  Jennifer pointed down at Joey’s backpack.  “Kevin and Joey and I took our backpacks, but Kaylee forgot hers.”  She shook her head at her little sister.  To Kaylee, she ordered, “Take off your jacket.”

Looking unhappy, Kaylee handed Lucy to Kevin, and then she pulled off her jacket and tossed it on the floor.  “Put it on the bed, Kaylee,” Jennifer ordered; silently, Kaylee did as she was told, pouting.

That done, the little girl took the squirming puppy back from her oldest brother and clasped Lucy to her chest.  “When are we going back to Mommy and Daddy?” she asked, as she buried her face in the puppy’s fur.  Arwen knelt before her and laid a hand on Kaylee’s shoulder.

“I cannot answer that question, Miss Kaylee.  But I promise you this: until we are able to figure out a way to return you to your parents, we will take good care of you children,” Arwen promised, and then rose to her feet.

In the wall to the left of the door through which they had entered was another door.  Arwen pointed to that door.  "Lady Jennifer, this is your room."

Jennifer went to open the door.  The guest bedroom to which she had been assigned was very similar to the one in which Kevin was staying, although the bed was somewhat smaller and not quite as fancy.  It had two doors—the one that opened from her little brother and sister's room, and another that seemed to open into the hallway. 

Arwen looked over the rooms fondly.  This had been her brothers' nursery, and then, years later, it had been hers.  Throughout the Third Age, a few other children had been guests there.  Estel had not grown up in the room; as a child, he had stayed with his mother in her chambers, but he had often been allowed to play in it.  The room now allotted to Jennifer had been where the nursemaid had once slept.

Jennifer slipped off her backpack and laid it on the bed, and then she removed her jacket and draped it over the back of a chair.  Removing her iPhone from her jacket pocket, she unzipped her backpack and dropped her iPhone inside, and then she zipped her backpack shut.  As she scanned the room, she noticed that, like the other rooms, it also lacked light bulbs, light switches, and electrical plug-ins.  Instead, it had candles.

They must not use electricity here, she thought.  This is just like back in the old days!  Back when people used lanterns and candles and kerosene lamps for light.  Bet they don’t have TVs or telephones or cars here, either.  Or computers!  She bit her lower lip.  Without computers, there’s sure no Wi-Fi here!  Kevin and I won’t be able to get the Internet here on my iPhone, or on his tablet.  I won’t be able to call or text or email anybody, not in Middle-earth.

"There is one more room you children need to know about," said Arwen.  She stepped out of the younger children's room and indicated a door to the other side of Kevin's room.  Mairen opened the door, and they saw that there was a small bench with a hole in it.  There was a little shelf by the door, and high above the bench was a small open window.  On the bench next to the hole was a basket of clean rags, and on the other side was a bucket with a lid.  Next to the door was a sink carved of stone, with a pump.  The room smelled fresh, in spite of its obvious purpose.  "This is the water closet for this wing of the Last Homely House, children."

“Water closet?” Joey repeated, bewildered.

Kevin gazed into the room.  “Bathroom,” he told Joey.  “They must call it by a different name here, since it’s got no bathtub.  This is where you go to use the bathroom and wash your hands—we’ll be taking our baths in that other room.”

“Brush our teeth, too?” Joey asked.

Kevin shrugged.  “In here, you mean?  I suppose so.  Good thing our toothbrushes and toothpaste and hairbrushes and combs and deodorant are in our backpacks!”

Arwen overheard this exchange, and shook her head.  "You would use the basin and ewer on the washstand in your rooms for that.  The servants see to it that clean fresh water is replaced throughout the day."  Kevin and Jennifer nodded.

“Kaylee and I will have to share my toothbrush, since hers is back at the campsite,” Jennifer said.  “Thank goodness there are toilets and bathtubs here!”

Kaylee tugged on Jennifer's hand with one hand, while clutching Lucy to her chest with the other.  Jennifer bent over.  "Is that the potty, Jen?" Kaylee whispered.  

Jennifer nodded.  Kaylee scanned the water closet, looking for toilet paper; finding none, she turned to Arwen.

"Umm…Miss Un—dó—miel…”  She pronounced the unfamiliar name slowly.

“Arwen,” the lady Elf corrected.

Jennifer glanced down at her little sister.  “I’m sorry; it’s just that since we’re just kids, we were taught to address grown-ups by their last names,” she explained.  “Mr. So-and-so, Miss So-and-so, Mrs. So-and-so, and so on.”

Arwen smiled.  It appeared that where they came from, they used the forms of address common in Bree and the Shire.  “Well, Undómiel is not my last name, Lady Jennifer.  Elves do not have family names.  So Lady Arwen is the correct way to address me, because with my mother gone, I am the Lady of Rivendell.”

The children exchanged glances, and Kevin and Jennifer nodded.  “Yes, Lady Arwen,” Kevin said.

Kaylee cleared her throat and tried again.  “Lady Arwen?" she asked.  "Where's the toilet paper?"

Jennifer and Kevin and Joey all blushed, and Kevin looked down at Kaylee.  "Hush, we'll explain later, Kaylee!" he said.

But Arwen and the other Elven ladies looked curious.  "What is 'toilet paper'?" Arwen asked.

Arwen shook her head in amusement after a blushing Jennifer had answered her question.  She explained to Kaylee what the rags in the basket and the bucket were for.  She could tell that the little one was somewhat disgusted, but was too polite to do more than make a face.  She could hear young Joey mutter "Gross!" under his breath, too faintly for any but Elven ears to hear. 

While the word was oddly used, the child's tone of voice made his meaning clear.

Arwen hid her amusement.  Over the course of an Age, she had learned that different customs in different places resulted in different reactions.  Personally, she thought that using paper so wastefully was not a good custom, but she would never allow herself to show it.  They were only children, and she could clearly remember her own reaction when she had been very small on her first visit to Lothlórien, and had discovered the sanitary arrangements in the flets.

"Now, children, you have found your own places here; wash your hands, and I will take you down to the dining hall, for I am sure you are all hungry."  Arwen turned to Kaylee.  “I will have to ask you to leave Lucy here, Miss Kaylee.  Eledhwen, would you take the puppy down to the kitchen and see that she is fed?”

“Yes, Lady Arwen,” the elf nursemaid said.  Reluctantly, Kaylee handed a squirming Lucy to the elf nursemaid.  As Eledhwen held Lucy to her breast, the puppy immediately began to lick the elf’s neck. Laughing lightly, Eledhwen left the room with Lucy.

“Is it almost suppertime, then?” Jennifer asked.

Arwen shook her head.  “No, Lady Jennifer, it is still morning here.  We will be having elevenses soon.  Is it afternoon where you come from?”

Kevin and Jennifer exchanged a puzzled glance.  “Uh, yes, ma’am,” Kevin said.  “It was past 4:30 p.m. when we left the campsite.  Supper was gonna be cooked as soon as the tents were all set up.  We were supposed to help our parents and our aunt and uncle set them up after we had explored the cave.”  He shook his head.  “How can it be morning here and afternoon where we come from?”

Arwen laughed.  “Apparently, you are from another world, Lord Kevin.”

“No kidding!” Jennifer muttered.  

“I wish Mommy and Daddy were here,” Kaylee complained.

Kevin picked her up.  “We all wish that, Kaylee,” he said softly.  “But since they’re not, we’ll just have to make the best of it while we’re here, and be very brave.”  He hugged her.  “Come on, we’d better go wash our hands.”  He carried Kaylee out of the room, followed by the others.

-oo000oo-

A/N: *The SCA stands for Society for Creative Anachronism, a real international organization for those interested in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.  During events, members dress in period clothing and have mock tournaments and battles, and practice period arts and sciences.  The Barony of Three Mountains is the actual name of the Portland chapter.  However, any connection between it and this story are strictly coincidental.






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