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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 belong 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 9: Once Upon a Dream
Yawning, Jennifer laid her teen study Bible on her
"God," she prayed, "we've been here for several weeks now, and we still don't know why You've sent us here. We don't even want to be here, Lord; we want to be home! Home with our mom and daddy. Home with Megan. We don't want to worry Mom and Daddy, and we hate it that we're not with them. I mean, this isn't like being at summer camp or visiting our grandparents!" She took a deep breath. "Surely, we can carry out a ministry at home, can't we, Father? Why do we have to be in a fantasy world to do it?"
Jennifer swallowed. "Please, God, speak to me. Tell me why we're here." She paused. "In Jesus' name, amen."
With a sigh, she drew the covers back and crawled underneath. To her relief, a supernatural peace flooded through her. I'm with you, a still, small voice spoke in her gut. I have sent you here, and I am here with you. I am also with your parents.
Yes, Father, she thought, before she drifted off...
...only to find herself seeing a strange man standing before her in what appeared to be the middle of a wilderness, with mountains on the horizon. To her surprise, Kevin and Joey were with her and that man, as were Boromir, Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli, and all of the hobbits except Bilbo. Where's Kaylee? she wondered.
As Jennifer scanned the horizon, she saw a black cloud moving slowly toward them. It was not a thunderstorm cloud or a wall cloud containing a tornado; it was pitch-black, for one thing, much blacker than any wall cloud she had ever seen, and it had a feeling of evil about it which not even wall clouds had. Jennifer shivered as she watched it, and then she turned toward her companions. Unless they successfully completed their mission, whatever it was, that black cloud would not only catch up with them, it would cover all of Middle-earth. She knew it, though she did not know how she knew…
Jennifer's eyes popped wide open, and she shot up in her bed, her heart pounding and her whole body shaking. God? she silently prayed. What was that about?
No answer came to her. Taking a slow, deep breath, she lay back down and closed her eyes. She would just have to trust that her Heavenly Father would tell her when He was ready.
Jennifer woke early the next morning. Unlike most dreams, that one had stuck with her. She could still recall it perfectly. She rose and drew on the silk dressing gown that the Elves had given her, and instead of passing through the nursery where Joey and Kaylee slept, she stepped out the door to the corridor and took the few steps across the hall to Kevin's room. She tapped lightly on the
"Come in!" came her brother's voice.
She cracked open the door and slipped into the room. To her surprise, Kevin was awake and dressed. He sat in a chair by the window with his Bible in his hands.
"Why are you up so early?" she asked.
"I could ask you the same question," answered Kevin, "but I had a very strange dream last night."
"You, too?" Jennifer asked in amazement.
Kevin jerked his chin up and stared at her. "Tell me your dream." He gestured to his bed, and she sat down. Then she carefully related her dream to him.
He had begun to nod his head when she had only just begun to speak. "That's the exact same dream I had," he
"The one who was sold into slavery in Egypt, or Jesus' earthly father?" Jennifer asked.
"The one who was sold into slavery."
Jennifer sank onto Kevin's bed, stunned. "This was no ordinary dream, then," she said. "It was a message from God!"
Kevin nodded agreement. "Yeah. I really think it was," he said slowly. "I believe He was telling us why He's sent us here. We still don't know what He wants us to do, exactly, but we do know it's serious, whatever it is. Something to do with battling some kind of demon—maybe this Sauron that Gandalf told us about, or Satan, perhaps—and defeating some kind of spiritual darkness. A darkness that will completely cover all of Middle-earth if it's not stopped. It might even follow us to our
Shivering, Jennifer took a deep, shuddering breath. "Yeah. Very serious." She paused. "I have a feeling we're gonna know just what He's sent us here for very soon." She took another deep breath, and then quoted softly, "'Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.'"
Nodding, Kevin continued, "'Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people.'"
He paused, and then added, "'Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.'" Kevin stopped briefly to take his breath. "'You, dear children, are from God and have overcome
Kevin stood silently for a moment after he had stopped quoting the Bible verses. "God is with us, Jen, and He will help us resist the evil one. Satan can try to hurt us, but he can't defeat us, because God is greater than him, and the same thing goes for this Sauron. Whatever it is that God's gonna have us do, He'll give us the strength to do it, and He will give us the victory over the powers of darkness. We'll have to remember that." He
She nodded agreement. "Yeah. It's true." She cleared her throat, and then quoted, "'My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one.'" She grimaced. "Looks like we're gonna be doing some kind of spiritual warfare, doesn't it? All of us." She shook her head. "I still don't understand why God would choose us, Kevin!"
Kevin shrugged. "Hey, you know how God likes to pick unlikely people."
"No kidding," Jennifer muttered.
Arwen was looking for Kevin and Jennifer. The brother and sister were not in their rooms. Joey and Kaylee had gone down to the kitchens with the hobbits for "elevenses", but the older children had not accompanied them.
She came to the open doors to the outside, near the garden at the end of the corridor, and heard the low murmur of voices; stepping outside, she saw the two speaking quietly with their heads bowed and their eyes closed, which surprised her. But before she could say anything to them, Kevin gave a nod and touched his sister's hand, and both looked up and saw her standing there. Kevin stood up. "Lady Arwen!"
"Lord Kevin and Lady Jennifer," she said, returning the boy's greeting. "I was searching for the two of you."
"Is everything alright?" asked Jennifer, a flash of worry on her face. "Did Kaylee or Joey get in trouble? Are they hurt?"
Arwen smiled a reassuring
"What about?" Kevin asked.
She shook her head. "That is for them to say. But I will accompany you to my father's study, and you shall find out."
"Of course," Jennifer replied. "We don't mean to be rude, but we naturally just wondered."
"You did not offend, but it is an answer better left until you get there."
They followed her back through the passageways, speaking of Lucy's progress in being housebroken and in learning to heel and to sit on command, and soon found themselves at the large double doors that led into the study of the Lord of Rivendell. Arwen tapped lightly on the door, and her father's voice bid them enter. Her father was seated behind the large table that served him as a desk, and Gandalf was standing behind him near the large window overlooking the Valley, and giving a great view of one of the waterfalls in the distance.
Kevin and Jennifer had begun to absorb the manners of Rivendell, and both of them gave a small bow to Master Elrond and
"Good day, Lord Kevin and Lady Jennifer," Elrond said. "Will you be seated?" He gestured to three chairs across from him. They sat down in the two nearest ones.
"Good day, Master Elrond and Gandalf," Kevin responded. He found it odd that in this place where titles were insisted on, that no one ever used a title with the wizard.
"Do you wish me to stay, Ada?" asked Arwen.
She sat in the third chair. Although she had not been privy to her grandmother's communication, nor to Gandalf's presentiments, she had a feeling that she might guess the subject of the conversation.
But it was not her father who opened the conversation. It was Gandalf who spoke first. "You two may be aware that
"Yes, sir," said Kevin.
"It's pretty obvious," added Jennifer, "but no one will talk about where they are going, or why. The hobbits shut right up if they are talking about it when we come along, and some of the others never seem to talk about it at all."
Gandalf smiled at them. "You are very perceptive, Lady Jennifer. Yes, this quest that has been planned relies on secrecy. Up until now, there was no reason for you to be involved, or to be privy to the details of the mission."
"But now there is?" Kevin asked.
"Now there is," responded the wizard, nodding, "because there is
Arwen watched them closely. They did not seem to show much surprise.
"We wondered about that," said Kevin. "Not the going-on-the-journey part, I mean, since we didn't know about that, but we did think that there is a reason for us to be here." He looked Gandalf in the eye, and Gandalf returned his gaze with a knowing nod, remembering what they had spoken of not long after the children had arrived.
"May I ask what that reason is?" Elrond put in.
"We knew we wouldn't be here unless God had sent us here. After all, He's the only one who could," Kevin said, exchanging a glance with Jennifer. "And we knew He wouldn't have sent us to Middle-earth unless He had a job for us to do here. We figured all that out soon after we arrived here." He glanced again at Jennifer, who nodded agreement. "And that's not all. Both of us, Jennifer and me, had dreams last night—the same one, in fact. We both saw ourselves in a place we had never seen before, and we were with some of the people we've met here. Joey was with us, but Kaylee was not. All the hobbits except for Mr. Bilbo Baggins were there, as well as Lord Boromir, the Elf Legolas, and Master Gimli—and some man I've never seen before. And you were there as well, Gandalf." He described his own dream in detail, describing the black, evil-looking storm cloud in the process. Jennifer nodded agreement, and then she and Kevin turned their attention back to Elrond.
"I see." The elf lord nodded. "So it would not surprise you to know that Gandalf has had a similar foresight?"
Kevin and Jennifer looked at one another uneasily. "Is it all right to ask if we may know what it's all about now?" he asked.
Gandalf nodded. "Kevin and Jennifer, do you remember our discussion on your second day here? And what I told you children about Melkor and Sauron?"
Kevin and Jennifer exchanged another glance and nodded. "Yes, sir." Kevin swallowed. "What about them?"
As succinctly as possible, Gandalf and Elrond explained the tale of the One Ring, and Frodo's upcoming mission to destroy it, and thus rid the world of the evil of Sauron. Kevin and Jennifer both had stunned expressions when Gandalf and Elrond had finished, and then Jennifer shook her head in bewilderment.
"I don't get it," she said. "This ring you talked about—it's just a piece of jewelry! An inanimate object. How can a ring be evil?"
Elrond smiled ruefully. "It would be easier for all if it was just a piece of jewelry, Lady Jennifer," he said. "Unfortunately, it is not. It is a Ring of Power, and as such, it contains great power. Moreover, it is the One Ring. Sauron created that Ring to rule all the other Rings of Power, and in the process, he put a great deal of his own power into it. It has the power to corrupt everyone who has possession of it. Those who desire power for themselves, in particular, are at
Kevin and Jennifer exchanged another glance and shook their heads. "So that's what The Lord of the Rings is about," Jennifer said softly as she looked at Kevin, and her brother nodded agreement. For a long moment, they sat in silence.
"Whoa!" Kevin finally said softly, shaking his head. "It's kind of like Star Wars, then. The Death Star had to be destroyed."
Jennifer nodded. "True, except the Death Star couldn't corrupt anybody."
Gandalf and Elrond looked puzzled. "Another tale from your world? Is it a real one, or one created by your people, such as you believed about Middle-earth?" asked Gandalf.
This time, Kevin and Jennifer did look surprised. In fact, both of them were startled: if Middle-earth was real in this place and time, what if Star Wars and other stories like that were, too? That was almost too much to think about.
Jennifer's eyes grew wide. Could even a place like Oz exist? But no, she argued with herself; Baum set that fantasy somewhere in the U.S., and everyone knew that magic land didn't really exist! But...
"A tale created in our world," Jennifer answered. "It's set in outer space. A man named George Lucas created it. As far as we know, it's not real."
Nodding, Kevin asked, "If we go, what does that mean? Will Kaylee stay here, where it's safe? I guess Joey has to
"Miss Kaylee will have to stay here, as will your dog, but the two of you and Master Joey will go on the Quest," Elrond said. "My daughter will look after your little sister and Lucy in your absence." Smiling, Arwen nodded agreement as she looked at Kevin and Jennifer. Elrond added, "I am afraid that it will be quite dangerous, which is the main reason that Miss Kaylee will remain here in Rivendell. She will have her own role to play in the events to come, but she will play it out here."
Exchanging a troubled glance with Kevin, Jennifer bit her lower lip. "That's going to be really hard on Kaylee, Master Elrond," she said. "She's already missing our parents, and now she's going to miss us as well. Being separated from her whole family's gonna be really tough on her." Kevin nodded his own agreement. Jennifer added, "How are we gonna tell her?"
Elrond nodded sagely. "It will need to be done sooner rather than later, I think. Do you wish me to tell her?"
Jennifer looked up
Kevin nodded decisively. "Yes, we will." He looked at Jennifer. "We'll tell her and Joey together."
"Joey! Kaylee!" Jennifer called, as she and Kevin entered the kitchen.
The two younger children whirled around, half-eaten biscuits in their hands. "Hey,
Jennifer and Kevin laughed. "I'm sure they are, Joey, but we don't have time to munch on cookies—uh, biscuits—right now," Kevin told him. "Right now, Jennifer and I need to talk to you." Jennifer nodded agreement.
"Come on, you two. We need to go up to our rooms and talk." Jennifer extended her hand toward the two. Exchanging puzzled glances, Joey and Kaylee approached them. As Kevin and Jennifer took them out of the kitchen, Kaylee and Joey finished their biscuits.
As soon as the four children entered Kevin's bedroom minutes later, Joey turned toward him and Jennifer. "What's up?" he asked, his brow furrowed in puzzlement. "Is everything all right?"
Nodding, Kevin gestured toward the chairs. "Better sit down, you two. We've got a lot to talk about." After the four children had taken their seats, Kevin cleared his throat. "We—uh, we've found out why God has sent us here. And it's very serious, Joey and Kaylee. Only if we can do what God has sent us here for will everything be all right, Joey."
"That's right." Jennifer glanced at Kevin and turned back to the two younger children. "Remember the Star Wars movies?" Kaylee and Joey nodded. "Remember what had to be done in the very first Star Wars movie?"
Joey exchanged a glance with his little sister. "They had to destroy the Death Star. The Rebels did," he said.
"That's right," Kevin said. "And why did the Rebels have to destroy the Death Star?"
Joey bit his lower lip. "Well, uh,
Jennifer and Kevin nodded. "That's right," Jennifer said. "Well, Kaylee and Joey, Middle-earth is faced with a similar danger right now. Remember what Gandalf told us about Melkor and Sauron, the day after we came here?" Joey and Kaylee nodded. For the next few minutes, being careful to use words that a five-year-old would understand, Jennifer and Kevin explained to Joey and Kaylee what Gandalf and Elrond had told them about Sauron and his Ring.
"If Sauron ever gets his Ring back, he'll be just like Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars movies," she said. "He'll be way too powerful. Nobody'll be able to stop him, just as nobody would have been able to stop the emperor as long as the Death Star existed. He won't be able to blow up whole planets, but he will be able to control everybody. He wants that Ring back, and he's bound and determined to get it. It's got to be destroyed so that he'll never be able to use it."
Kevin nodded. "Remember how the Rebels had to destroy the Death Star, Joey?"
Joey furrowed his eyebrows in concentration. "They had to blow up that
"Reactor," Kevin finished for him. "The main reactor. There was an exhaust port in the Death Star's surface that went clear down to the main reactor. If a Rebel fired a weapon from his ship right into that port, it would explode and the whole Death Star along with it, and it did. There was no other way to destroy it. That was the only way to blow it up; just firing a weapon at it wouldn't do it." Joey nodded agreement. Kevin added, "And then they had to do the same thing all over again in Return of the Jedi."
Joey nodded vigorously. "They sure did!"
Kaylee smiled broadly. "Yeah!" She wiggled.
Kevin continued, "It's the same way with the Ring that Sauron made, Joey and Kaylee. Unfortunately, it's so strong that not even a really hot fire can destroy it. You can't break it into pieces with a sledgehammer, or melt it by throwing it into a regular fire, not even a really hot one; it's that strong. Gandalf and Master Elrond told us there's only one place where it can be destroyed. The same place where it was made: Mount Doom in Mordor. Mordor's where Sauron lives, you see, and Mount Doom is where he made that Ring. It has to be thrown into the fire there—I suspect it's lava."
Jennifer bit her lower lip. "I believe it is, too. Well, anyway, Frodo Baggins has volunteered to go to Mount Doom and throw it into the lava there, to destroy it. It's a volcano, you see, and that's where Sauron made his Ring, as Kevin said. It's hundreds of miles away, east of Rivendell. Samwise Gamgee's going to go with him, and several others are, too." She paused. "It's gonna be a quest, Joey
"That's right." Exchanging a glance with Jennifer, Kevin took a deep breath. "This is not going to be easy to tell you two," he told Joey and Kaylee gently. "It turns out that God brought us here because He wants us to go on this quest, too. You and Jennifer and me, Joey. We have to go, too, with the others. Since cars haven't been invented yet, and since we won't
Kaylee stiffened her back, her face etched with distress. She frantically scanned her siblings' faces. "What about me?"
Kevin softened his voice. "You'll have to stay here, Kaylee. With Lucy."
"No!" Wailing, Kaylee slid off her chair. Jennifer reached out to her, and Kaylee rushed toward her, crying. "I don't want to stay here! Not without you! Please don't leave me here!"
With Jennifer's help, Kaylee climbed
Kaylee didn't say a word. She just clung to Jennifer and sobbed violently.
Kaylee looked up and raced over to them. "PLEASE don't make me stay! PLEASE! I'll be good and everything!"
Elrond was taken aback. He was unused to such an outburst. Gandalf knelt
Elrond was not sure, but he thought he noticed a brief flash of red light from Gandalf's
Kaylee leaned back from the wizard, wiping the tears off her face with the back of her hand. She sniffled. "I can be brave," she said in almost a whisper, and then just a little louder, "I can be brave."
"That's my girl," Gandalf said, giving her a brief hug, before standing back up.
Elrond handed her a fine linen handkerchief. "I think you need to blow your nose, Miss Kaylee," he told her, and she did so.
"Well," she said, looking at her siblings and biting her lower lip, "I can be brave, but I'll still miss you. I wish I could go."
Kevin and Jennifer gaped at their little sister, and then at Gandalf. "How did you do that?!" Jennifer asked him, her mouth wide open.
Gandalf chuckled. "As an Istar, I have ways of comforting little ones that mortals and Elves do not possess, Jennifer."
Boromir knocked at the door to Master Elrond's study, and at his host's call of "Enter," he opened the door and came into the room. He was somewhat surprised to see both Master Bilbo Baggins and Mithrandir in the room. They
Boromir nodded as he sat down. He was both surprised and more than a little dubious about this, but his opinion had not been asked.
Bilbo Baggins must have noted something in his expression. He gave a small snort. "Master Boromir, you underestimate my young kin. I have no doubt whatsoever that they have already laid plans to slip out and follow Frodo if the permission has not been given. They will be far safer as part of the Company, and not trailing along behind it. Furthermore, Frodo will need them; they are family." This last word was spoken with the snap of finality and authority that reminded Boromir that this small person was well over a hundred years of age, and used to being listened to.
Nodding at Bilbo, Elrond continued, "What you do not know is that there is also a likelihood that the three elder McCloud children may also need to go upon the journey."
"What?" Boromir exclaimed in shock. "But they are mere children, save for young Lord Kevin, and he is not truly an adult either!"
Mithrandir nodded sadly. "And yet both
Elrond gave a deep sigh, and added, "Normally, this is a task I would ask Aragorn to perform, but as he is leading one of the scouting parties, I think it would be best if you do so. I do not command you in this, but I do ask if you would be willing to teach Lord Kevin and Master Joey, as well as the young hobbits, the rudiments of using their weapons?" He paused. "Of course, that will mean giving Lord Kevin and Master Joey their own weapons before you leave on the quest. Except for Frodo, the hobbits already have swords." Mithrandir nodded agreement. "These lessons will be of benefit to them, even if they do not go on the journey, and will also be a good outlet for youthful energy."
"I will be giving Frodo my old sword, Sting, Master Elrond, since
"Yes, Bilbo, I have already spoken to the
Boromir's eyebrows climbed nearly to his hairline, but before he could think to say "yea" or "nay", the Wizard spoke.
"I know," said Mithrandir (or Gandalf, as these Northerners called him), "that you have experience of this. I seem to recall that on one of my visits to Minas Tirith years ago, that you had the training of some of the young cadets?"
Of course. Faramir had been one of his students. He had quite enjoyed the job, too, until his father had decided he was not harsh enough with the lads. Denethor had him replaced with a sour and grizzled old veteran who knew the way to his lord's esteem was to be extra hard on
Bilbo spoke up again. "If my cousins are to have swords, I'd as soon have it that they learn what to do with them. I was lucky. Spiders do not carry swords. If I had been so unfortunate as to encounter an enemy who did, I should not have lasted two minutes."
"Very well," he answered. After all, teaching swordplay was something he was good at. And the task would give him something to do besides cool his heels until it was time to leave.
"Thank you so much, Lord Boromir," said Master Elrond. "Your help may very well mean the difference between life and death for the youngest members of the Company."
A/N: The Bible passages that Kevin and Jennifer quote above are from the New International Version, and consist of Ephesians 6:10-18, James 4:7, 1 John 4:4, John 16:33, and John 17:15.
Portions of the latter part of this chapter are slightly altered from Dreamflower's story, "A Conversation in Rivendell".
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