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Summary: 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
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
Citations: In most chapters, there will be some quotations directly from both the books and/or the movies. Quotations from the 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: To our beta, Linda Hoyland, who has been of great help with this story. Linda is a well-known and respected writer in the LotR fandom, who also posts on this site.
Chapter 5: Try a Little Something New
Jennifer ran her hand over the soft, smooth fabric of her lovely blue dress. She smiled; she had never had anything so pretty! Wish I could take it home with me; I could wear it to a costume party. Or in a school play, she thought. It'd work better with buttons or a zipper, though. I'm gonna need help lacing it up. Well, her bath was finished, and it was time to change clothes, she knew, starting with the undergarments that Arwen had provided for her. The bathwater felt so good, she thought. So warm. I really enjoyed soaking in that huge tub, and Kaylee really enjoyed playing in it.
Amusement at the memory of Kaylee splashing about in the warm bathwater creased her face. It had pleased Jennifer that her little sister had, if only for a little while, been able to forget her separation anxiety. She wondered how long that would last. Wonder if they have a hot-water heater here? I'll have to ask them! How else would they be able to keep the water warm?
Jennifer gazed for a long moment at her long-sleeved T-shirt, her blue jeans, and her white ankle socks, all of which were folded up neatly on a table. Her backpack lay on the table next to her clothes, and her brown hiking boots rested on the floor underneath. She approached her backpack and unzipped it; for a few minutes, she stood rummaging through its contents. Drawing out her iPhone, she looked at it for a long moment.
If only I could call or text Nicole, or even email her, she thought ruefully. Or Mom and Daddy! Especially them! With a sigh, she grimaced. How are Kevin and I gonna manage without the Internet or cell-phone access for who knows how long? She shook her head, scowling. Kevin was probably wondering the same thing, she was sure. Or would be.
With a sigh, Jennifer dropped her iPhone back into her backpack and zipped the backpack shut. Well, maybe she could take some pics while the battery lasted. She was really going to miss tech, being able to call or text
Turning back toward the bed, Jennifer put on the undergarments that the Elves had given her, and then she picked up the dress and held it up, gazing at it. At least, in the meantime, she would get to wear a pretty dress this evening. After a moment, she took hold of its skirt and slipped it down over her head, inserting her arms through its wide, bell-shaped sleeves. That done, Jennifer perched on the edge of her bed, slipped her watch back over her wrist, and then brushed her hair. She knew the watch wasn't working, but her wrist felt strange without it. Finally, she put on the hand-knitted stockings and the soft leather slippers the Elves had left for her; they were very pretty.
Cinderella's fairy godmother should have given her slippers like these, instead of glass ones, she thought wryly. It'd be all too easy to break
Smiling and shaking her head, Jennifer went to Joey and Kaylee's bedroom to check on her younger siblings, and to ask for help in lacing up her dress. Mairen, she noticed, had helped her little sister to change clothes, and was now brushing Kaylee's hair; Joey had donned his new Elvish clothes and was combing his hair. Lucy was lying on the floor and chewing on a sturdy rope tied up in a knot that one of the Elves had brought for her. This must be what it's like for rich people, Jennifer thought, smiling, as she watched Mairen and Kaylee.
When Mairen had finished brushing the little girl's hair, she laid aside the hair brush and turned toward Jennifer. "Do you need some assistance?"
"'Fraid I do." Jennifer bit her lower lip. "I've never worn a dress that laced up before, and I don't know how to manage these. I only know how to use laces to fasten shoes."
With a smile, the elf nursemaid approached the young girl and helped her to lace up the dress. When Mairen had finished, Jennifer noticed, to her satisfaction, that the dress was made to give her upper body some support. So this is why Lady Arwen told me not to wear my bra, she thought. With this support built in, I don't need it. She looked up at Mairen. "Thanks."
"You are welcome, Lady Jennifer." Mairen smiled kindly at her.
Kevin knocked, and then entered the room when Jennifer called, "Come in." He was shaking his head.
"I look so weird," he said, staring down at his new medieval-style clothes. Jennifer pressed her lips together to hold back a laugh.
"Well, uh, you don't exactly look like a dork, but you do look different."
"Yeah. We all do." Kevin rolled his eyes. "We boys do, anyway; it's not so different for you and Kaylee. Those are just fancy, old-timey dresses you're wearing." He looked from Jennifer to
Jennifer rolled her own eyes. "No kidding!" She shrugged. "It could be worse, though. At least, we're not dressed like serfs!" She paused. "Uh, Kevin, you might want to take your wallet and the park ranger's number out of your jeans pocket, since they're gonna wash our clothes tomorrow."
"Yes, well, my allowance money's back at the campsite, too," Jennifer said. "In my purse."
"It's just as well," Kevin said. "You couldn't spend it here, Jen. Our money's no good here in Middle-earth."
Grimacing, Jennifer nodded
Eledhwen entered the room. "It is time to go to the feast hall, children," she told them. Exchanging glances and nods, Kevin, Jennifer, Joey, and Kaylee followed her into the hall, and Mairen followed them. Jennifer, who had picked up Lucy before leaving the room, handed her to Mairen, who in turn handed the puppy to a nearby elf servant. After Jennifer left her hiking boots on the floor in her bedroom, she accompanied the others toward the staircase.
Boromir looked around the feast hall; Aragorn had yet to return from his scouting expedition to learn what had become of the Nazgūl. He wished that he could have accompanied Aragorn on the
But he knew that his unfamiliarity with these lands would make him a hindrance on this mission, which relied on speed and the ability to read the signs left by the enemy. Although he thought he might overcome those obstacles, he was unfamiliar with these lands, and that might slow the others down. Faramir would have been ideal for such a mission, and not for the first time, he wondered if it would not have been better if he had let his younger brother have this journey that he had insisted on taking for himself. Still, he was the one who had been given this mission by their father, and he must not allow his unease in these alien surroundings to hinder him.
He looked around the feast hall again. It was filled with folk: Elves for the most part, though there were a few guests of other sorts. Elrond sat in a great chair at the center of the long table upon the dais, and next to him to his left, sat Mithrandir. Boromir smiled. Faramir would have enjoyed this gathering, especially the opportunity to spend some time with Mithrandiror Gandalf, as the hobbits called him.
Boromir's thoughts were interrupted as he saw four children whom he had not seen here in Imladris before being led into the feast hall by Arwen and two of her handmaidens. They were obviously not Elves, but children of the race of Men, though they were dressed in clothing of Elven cut and style. Clearly, they were guests of Elrond, as was he. He wondered when they had arrived, and why he had not seen them before. There was a youth who appeared to be in his mid-teens, a young lady slightly younger, a little boy of about nine or
Just then, all five of the hobbits entered the room, Merry and Pippin rushing in eagerly, followed by Bilbo and Frodo with more dignity, and Sam hovering shyly at the back. They spotted the
"Boromir, have you met the newest guests? Come, I'll introduce you!" The young hobbit grabbed Boromir's hand and practically dragged him over to where the children stood.
"Boromir," the young Took said, "this is the McCloud family, brothers
"Hi." Kevin raised his hand in greeting. "Pleased to meet you." He began to stick his hand out for a handshake, but he saw that Boromir was giving them a polite bow instead, so he returned the bow rather awkwardly. His younger brother and sisters imitated him just a beat later. He wasn't sure that the girls were supposed to bow. In the movies about historical times, didn't girls curtsey to royalty and nobles? But he didn't think his sisters knew how to curtsey.
Boromir gave a small smile of amusement. Clearly, the children were unused to the social customs that he was familiar with. He wondered where they were from. "I am most pleased to make your acquaintance," he said. "From whence do you hail?"
Boromir's glance grew keen. Obviously, there was a much longer story behind these strange children than he was being told. He suspected that the Elves had told them to say as little as possible of their tale. But he had never heard of these "states of America" that Master Kevin
Jennifer exchanged a glance with
"Last name?" Boromir looked at her, puzzled.
"Well, yeah. You knowfamily name." Jennifer tilted her head as she stared up at him. "Ours is McCloud."
Boromir looked from her to Kevin. "Except for the Men of the Breelands, Lady Jennifer, no one of the race of Men have family names. In fact, except for the Men of the Breelands and the hobbits, no one of any race has a family name that I know of."
Kevin stared at him, and then at his sister. "Oh, yeah, that's right. Lord Elrond told us that, and so did Lady Arwen," he said, and Jennifer nodded. "Uh, what should we call you, then?"
"Just address me as Lord Boromir for now."
The signal for the actual meal was given. Boromir went to take his place at the High
Legolas turned to him as the food was served. "I have yet to meet those children of Men," said the Elf. "I saw that you were introduced to them. What is their story?"
Boromir shook his head. "I know little more than their names, and that they come from a strange place called Or Egon, in the land of 'united states'. I, too, wonder at their story."
Kaylee made a face at the food that the serving Elf had set before her. She had enjoyed the bread and butter that the meal had started with, and her glass of water wasn't so bad (though not as cold as she was used to), but this brownish soup containing some finely-chopped onion and a few bread crumbs looked completely distasteful. She glanced up at her older sister, who was taking regular swallows of the soup. If only Mommy was here! she thought, biting her lower lip. I want my mommy!
Across the table from Kaylee, Merry, Pippin, and Sam were digging in and praising the soup delightedly, comparing it to Shire food. "This is the best soup we've tasted yet!" Pippin said.
Merry and Sam nodded agreement. "Our cooks in the Shire couldn't have made it any better," Merry said.
Sam smiled in response. "Did you notice a bit of thyme, and maybe some summer savory?"
The other hobbits nodded enthusiastically. "I do believe those onions are sweeter than what we grow in the Shire," said Pippin.
"Yes, Mr. Pippin," said Sam. "The head gardener told me they're a big yellow variety 'specially grown only in Rivendell. They're extra sweet, he said."
Turning to Jennifer, Kaylee tugged on her big sister's sleeve. Jennifer turned to her. "What is it?" she asked in a low voice.
"I don't like this stuff," Kaylee whispered. "I want a drumstick! I want pizza! I want spaghetti!"
Jennifer pressed her lips together in an evident attempt to smother her laughter, amusement creasing her forehead. "I don't think they have pizza or drumsticks or spaghetti here, Kaylee," she whispered back. "And even if they do have chicken, it may not be fried with a crust like it is in America."
Kaylee bit her lower lip. "I wish Mommy was here," she whispered, her voice on the edge of a whimper.
Jennifer hugged the little girl to her side. "So do I, Kaylee," she whispered back. "We'll be back with our parents eventually; we won't be here forever. It'll be all right."
Making a face, Kaylee looked up at Joey, who was scowling next to her. "I want a hamburger," he muttered. "And French fries. And a chocolate malt." Kaylee swallowed hard and nodded agreement. What Joey said would be good, too. If only they could go to Burger King!
Kevin and Jennifer exchanged amused glances. "We're not in America anymore, Joey," Kevin told the younger boy. "We're in a foreign country now; that means we're gonna have to eat foreign food. I don't believe they have hamburgers and French fries and malts here."
"Don't they have a McDonald's here?" Joey pouted. "Or a Burger King? Or a Kentucky Fried Chicken? Or maybe a Pizza Hut...!"
"Whoa! Whoa," said Kevin, laughing. "I don't believe they have any of those kinds of places here. Yes, some foreign countries do, but we're not just in another country, Joey, or even just another continent; we're in another world. We'll just have to make the best of what this place has, while we're here."
"That's right," Jennifer said. "We'll just have to eat what they serve us, and not complain." She nudged Kaylee. "Just try it, Kaylee! A few sips." Kaylee made a face in response. She was sure she would hate this soup.
Eledhwen and Mairen had watched and listened to the whole exchange, amusement on their faces. "I take it that Miss Kaylee and Master Joey don't like beef soup?" Eledhwen asked.
"Not particularly. They prefer chicken noodle soup." Jennifer shook her head as she spoke. "Plus, none of us have ever eaten soup made this way. You'll have to excuse Joey and Kaylee, Miss Eledhwen, especially Kaylee. She doesn't like to eat anything that's unfamiliar to her. Little kids" She glanced at Kaylee and shrugged. "they tend to be like that. Joey and Kaylee, they miss the foods they're used to. And not having our parents here with us makes it worse."
"That is true, and I am sure it does." Eledhwen smiled, then gestured at Kaylee. "Just try it, Miss Kaylee. A few sips," she coaxed. "I want you to try everything you are served, all right? None of our foods will be familiar to you, I know, but I believe you will find that you like some of it."
Nodding agreement, Mairen turned to Joey. "You, too, Master Joey."
Joey made a face. "Do I have to?" he complained, appealing to Kevin and Jennifer.
"Yes, Joey, you have to," said Kevin firmly. "It's either that or go hungry. You, too, Kaylee." Jennifer nodded agreement.
Pouting again, Joey took a sip of his soup, and a scowling Kaylee followed suit. To her surprise, it did not taste as bad as she had feared, and so she swallowed some more before she
Soon, the serving Elves replenished the younger children's glasses of water, removed the bowls of soup, and replaced them with gleaming white plates of light-brown-colored rice mixed with a sauce of some sort. Again, Kaylee looked down at her own serving with distaste. She fidgeted on her cushions.
Jennifer took a bite of the dish. "Try it, Kaylee!" she urged. "Just a few bites, if you find you don't like it." Making a face again, a reluctant Kaylee picked up her spoon, dug it into the rice dish, and inserted it into her mouth. To her surprise and delight, it had chicken in it, so she ended up eating half of the rice dish before she stopped.
The food kept coming. Unlike the meals the children were used to at home, the Elves did not put all the food on the table at
"This is a fair treat, this is," said Sam. "I'm going to have to see if I can get the recipe off the cooks."
Kaylee picked at hers. "I'm getting full," she said. "But I did try some." She looked apologetically at Mairen, Eledhwen, and Jennifer.
At the same moment, Joey and Pippin said in unison, "I'll finish
Kevin and Jennifer scowled at Joey, and Pippin exclaimed, "Ow!" as Merry kicked him under the table. Exchanging amused glances, Kevin and Jennifer shook their heads.
Mairen smiled. "Perhaps you may wish to save some room for the final dishit is to be
"Oh! Dessert!" Joey exclaimed.
Kaylee perked up. "There's dessert?" she asked hopefully.
"Apparently so," Jennifer said.
"Oh, goody!" Kaylee bounced on her cushions, causing them to scatter. Maybe she could find room for dessert. Her siblings, the hobbits, Eledhwen, and Mairen all laughed, and Jennifer stood up to reposition the cushions for Kaylee.
As Jennifer sat back down, one of the serving Elves brought a large pie to the table. It smelled wonderful! As the pie was portioned out, the children saw that it had different kinds of fruit, raisins, and nuts. Everyone's face lit up, and Pippin even clapped his hands in anticipation.
"I love this one!" said Pippin. "We had it once before, shortly after we got here! I would've never thought of putting quinces in with apples and pears!"
Jennifer's eyebrows rose in surprise, as she had never been fond of pears and she had no idea what a quince was, but this was delicious, and all the children finished their portions, even Kaylee.
The meal ended, and Merry and Pippin hopped down from their seats. "I think," said Merry, "that Pip and I are going out for a pipe and a sniff of air. But
" He gestured to Frodo and Bilbo, who
"What's the Hall of Fire?" asked Kevin.
"It is where we nightly have song and story," answered Mairen. "We Elves sometimes stay up through the night there, but our mortal guests often join us for a few hours, at least, until weariness leads them to their beds."
"Please, can we?" asked Kaylee, tugging at Jennifer's sleeve, and looking up at her older sister and brother with big eyes. "Pretty please?"
Kevin and Jennifer exchanged glances. "Well, just for a little while," said Jennifer. "But not past your bedtime! The same goes for you, Joey." She looked from one to the other. "Don't forget that we've been up for much longer than usual. That nap we took this afternoon didn't really make up our lost sleep."
"That's right," Kevin agreed. "We're gonna be suffering from jet lag for the next few
"But we haven't been on a plane," Joey protested.
Kevin and Jennifer laughed. "No, but the time difference is just as great as if we had, Joey," Jennifer told her little brother. "So, we may as well call it jet lag."
While the hobbits left the feast hall to have a pipe, Mairen and Eledhwen guided the McClouds to another room with a wash basin and a water closet conveniently located near the feast hall. They were glad to freshen up after the meal. After the girls had finished using the toilet, they used the wash basin to wash their hands, and Kaylee tolerated Jennifer washing her face and using a wet cloth to dab away a spot on Kaylee's Elvish dress, where she had spilled a few drops of sauce. The girls came out and allowed the boys to use the small room. While the girls waited for Kevin and Joey, a servant brought Lucy to them. Kaylee happily took hold of Lucy and clasped the puppy against her chest. "Lucy!" Wagging her tail, Lucy yipped and licked her face.
When the boys were finished, the Elven ladies led the children across a passage and through a couple of other
Holding Lucy against her chest with one hand, Kaylee clung to Jennifer's hand with the other, wondering where they were supposed to sit, but just then Joey pointed and waved towards the wall behind them. The children turned and saw Merry and Pippin waving at them merrily. Bilbo and Frodo were on the bench, toes dangling. There were several cushions on the floor in front of them, two of which Merry and Pippin were perched on, and there was some room on the bench next to Bilbo. All of the children went over and claimed cushions next to Merry and Pippin. As soon as Kaylee had perched cross-legged on her cushion, she set Lucy on the floor and leaned against Jennifer. The puppy immediately began to scamper about, yipping; Kaylee giggled, watching her.
The room was gradually filling up with Elves. There were also a few men, including Boromir, and there were three or four dwarfs together on a bench by the opposite wall.
Kaylee had just gotten comfortable on her cushion, leaning against her big sister. Jennifer placed an arm around
After a few minutes, an Elf got up and stood before the stage. He faced each side of the room and bowed before each, and then, with an amused glance at the playful puppy, he began to sing.
"Rómen Isilo, nśmen Anaro
Kaylee had never heard anyone sing like that! She couldn't understand the words at all, but as she listened, pictures formed in her mind of a lovely scene: a far green country beneath a large mountain. In a few minutes, Lucy settled down in front of Kaylee and stopped barking. Curling up on the floor, she held her head up to look at the Elf, thumping her tail on the floor.
Jennifer was sitting near Bilbo. She too was seeing beautiful
"East of the Moon, west of the Sun,
"Comes never there but one lone star
The old hobbit continued on, but Jennifer found her thoughts clung to an image of two beautiful trees: one glowing silver, the other gold
*This is a Quenya translation of J.R.R. Tolkien's poem "The Shores of Faėry" from The Book of Lost Tales II, translated into Quenya by "Elders" of the Lord of the Rings fanatics plaza. Our thanks to them.
The menu was taken from the site, "Gode Cookery". For those of you interested in the food they were eating, (since we cannot give links, descriptions are below:
PANE E BURRO (Bread & butter)
Beef broth and sautéed onions thickened with a few
Ingredients: Onions, strong broth, pepper, and white grape juice.
The onion is also cooked under ashes and coals until the rawness is steamed out of it; when it has cooled it is chopped finely and put in a dish with salt and oil and
RISUM IN QuO IVS IVRE (Rice in the juice you please)
Rice baked in an almond broth.
Ingredients: Rice, chicken stock, almond milk, salt, saffron, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon.
Enough has been said about simple
Prepare rice in the same manner as the meal. Some leave out the eggs. It is done according to your choice.
Chicken stewed in verjuice, herbs, & spices.
Ingredients: Chicken, verjuice, parsley mint, saffron, salt, pepper.
Cook down a chicken with some salt flesh; when it is half-cooked, put into your pot grapes with the seeds removed. Add parsley and finely chopped mint, pepper and saffron powdered together. Put all these into a kettle. When the chicken is cooked, fill the plates.
Ingredients: Quince, apples, pears, walnuts, raisins, sugar, flour, lard, water, salt.
If you are very interested in Medieval and Renaissance food, "Gode Cookery" (http://www.godecookery.com/) is
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