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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 26: Breakaway
It was a few days after the older
Arwen stood near Kaylee, an indulgent smile on her face. She had so few chances to be around children that the little girl had long since quite captured her heart. Her parents had taken a chance that day to observe some of the things Kaylee was learning to do, and they’d had questions that the Lady of Rivendell was eager to answer.
Glorfindel and Erestor flanked Elrond, all three of them with amused expressions on their faces. Glorfindel had arrived that afternoon from patrol, and Erestor had been too busy with checking the stores of supplies to meet Kaylee’s parents yet. “Do you suppose she will allow either of her parents to get a word in?” Erestor asked.
Glorfindel chuckled. “I daresay she
“What do you think of them?” Elrond asked his two advisors. He had his own notions, but he wished to see what they would say. Glorfindel had met the elder
“The father has the look of one who has been a warrior in his past. I saw that when I first met him upon their arrival. See his stance?” Glorfindel replied.
“I shall know better what to think when I have spoken with them,” was Erestor’s response.
“I think you will soon have your chance.” Glorfindel nodded in the direction of those they had been observing. Shaking his head and smiling in amusement, the father held a finger against Kaylee’s lips, and then, straightening up, he spoke briefly to his wife before turning and coming in their direction, accompanied by Gail, Kaylee, and Megan. Kaylee skipped at his side as he held her hand.
“Gail and I want to thank you again for taking care of our daughter, and our other children,” Steve told Elrond as they drew near, glancing briefly down at Kaylee as he spoke. “We’ve been pleased, but surprised, to find Kaylee thriving so well here. She’s never really been separated from her family before, and she’s always found it most difficult to be separated from her mother and me for even brief periods. I hope we will be able to be reunited with our older children soon.”
Elrond inclined his head. “I hope you will be, too. And it was very hard for her at first, Mr. McCloud. She missed you two greatly. In truth, they all did, but it was the hardest for Miss Kaylee. But as time passed, she adjusted, and so did her brothers and sister.”
“Yes, we can see that.” Gail nodded agreement, and then she sighed. “I just wish that our other children could have been spared this dangerous quest you spoke of a few days ago.” She shook her head, and Steve gently squeezed her hand.
“I wish it could have been so, too, Mrs. McCloud.” Elrond had been surprised that they had not been more reproachful about his allowing the older children to leave with the Company. He turned to his companions. “You have already met Lord Glorfindel of the House of the Golden Flower, captain of my guards and one of my advisors. May I present Master Erestor, a scholar and the Keeper of the Records? He is also part of my council.”
“Hello. We’re pleased to meet you, Master Erestor. It’s good to see you again, Lord Glorfindel.” Steve shook the hands of Glorfindel and Erestor as he spoke, smiling.
“How do you do, Master Erestor?” Gail shook their hands in her turn, and then looked down to make sure that Megan hadn’t wandered off; she was standing between her parents. The little girl leaned against her father, her thumb in her mouth.
Both Elves gave Steve and Gail a half-bow. “Well met, Mr. and Mrs. McCloud,” said Glorfindel, with a smile. “It is good to see you again.”
Erestor nodded agreement. “You must be very proud of your children, Mr. and Mrs. McCloud.”
Steve and Gail exchanged proud smiles. “We are proud of them. Thank you,” Gail said, smiling fondly at Kaylee and then at Megan. Steve nodded agreement, and then picked Megan up.
Glorfindel smiled. “Kevin was quick to pick up the skills of a warrior. I hope he will have little chance to use those skills, but we thought it best that he should learn them. And even Jennifer and Joey were quick learners. No matter how young, it is well that children learn the defensive arts.”
Shaking her head, Gail bit her lower lip. “Begging your pardon, Lord Glorfindel, but are you sure it was safe to teach the children to use weapons? I mean, it’s quite enough that Kevin has learned to use a rifle, and I’m not at all sure it’s a good idea for him to learn that much, even. He’s only a boy.” She glanced apprehensively at her husband as she spoke.
“One of the weapons of your world? I assure you it would do him no good here, as he has no such weapon with him,” Glorfindel told her. “Even though they are children, it was necessary to teach them, and we went to great lengths to make sure it was safe. The adults of the Company will do their best to defend the weaker members of their fellowship, but if your children are separated from them for some reason, or if the enemy catches them off guard, the time they would gain in defending themselves for even a few moments could mean saving their lives.”
“Anyway,” Steve told Gail, “we left my rifle back at the campsite, so they’ll have to use the kinds of weapons that are available here. And even though Kevin’s only fifteen, he’s not too young to learn to use a weapon, hon, including a gun.”
“I am glad you agree, Master Steven,” the Elven warrior said. “Pardon me, I believe that you have been a warrior yourself at some time. Your martial bearing gives you away.”
Steve exchanged a glance with Gail. “Well, before I met Gail—right after I graduated from high school, in fact—I joined the United States Army.” He paused. “I was eighteen at the time of my enlistment. I was in the army for two years and deployed to Iraq throughout that time, and I fought in the first Gulf War in the infantry. Operation Desert Storm, it was called.” He paused. “That was twenty years ago, in our world. So, yes, I am a war veteran.”
“I thought you must have seen
“There is, huh? I never thought of that.” Steve
Exchanging a glance with Glorfindel, Elrond spoke up. “We use swords, axes, knives, spears, lances, javelins, and bows and arrows.”
“I see.” Steve exchanged another glance with his wife. “We used to use those kinds of weapons in our world a long time ago, but ever since people started using gunpowder, we’ve used other kinds of weapons instead, some of which I learned to fight
Steve stopped as an idea occurred to him. “A few years ago, my brother showed me how to use one of his crossbows; those are still used by some people for hunting, and I’ve gone hunting with him using it during bow season, a couple of times. Do your people use crossbows?”
“Elves do not, but Men do, and as sometimes the Dúnedain train here in Rivendell, we do have some. And I do know their use. They are powerful weapons, and more easily mastered than the longbow.” Glorfindel was not as comfortable with the crossbows, for orcs also used those at times, but a weapon was a weapon, and he was quite good with it.
“That’s good. Even though our people mostly abandoned bows after gunpowder came along, they are still considered good for sport and target shooting, as well as for the occasional hunter.” Steve knew Ryan had always had an interest in bows.
Glorfindel nodded and then tilted his head, a quizzical look in his eyes. “Gunpowder? You have mentioned that before.” The mention of a new sort of weapon intrigued the warrior-Elf.
Steve nodded. “It’s a black powder that will explode in the right circumstances. Our people have learned how to put some inside lead cartridges, what we call bullets. Guns can be either long or short, but when they are loaded with bullets, they can be fired at high velocity to strike and penetrate the target. In war, gunpowder has also been used in cannons, to fire cannonballs at the enemy—at least in the old days; we have different kinds of cannons now. And both gunpowder and other kinds of explosive material can be used in bombs.” Steve paused. “Rifles are one type of gun; I learned to use them in the army. Nowadays, I use my rifle for
He shook his head. “But I’ll be honest, Lord Glorfindel: I’ve never liked to set a landmine, because innocent people can be killed by those, too.”
Glorfindel nodded. “I see. Well, we do have black powder, though its use is confined to sending off fireworks for the enjoyment of those watching. Gandalf, the wizard who accompanied the Company your children are with, is quite an expert with fireworks.” Glorfindel looked thoughtful. “I think I can imagine how it could be used in a weapon, but I fear I would not care for it. It could be very destructive, far more than our weapons.”
Steve nodded. He did not think he should tell them about weapons of mass destruction or nuclear warheads. In his experience, guns and bombs were bad enough. “It is, Lord Glorfindel. Very destructive, more than you can possibly know. And there are other types of weapons in our world that are even more destructive than those that contain gunpowder and other explosive materials. I never learned to use any of those.” He did not elaborate, and Glorfindel did not ask him to explain.
“Mr. McCloud, do you think that you would care to join me on the training field tomorrow? We can see how your knife skills have held up over the years, and perhaps find out if you would be able to use any of our other weapons. After all, since we will be journeying to find the others, it would be as well to be prepared.”
Steve looked surprised. “We will? I mean, yes, I fully intend to do so, but I have yet to mention it to anyone here!”
Glorfindel smiled. “You are a dedicated father, and it seems obvious that you would not care to linger here while your children are endangered. Of course, you would want to go after them. But as your hosts, it behooves us to prepare you for such a journey. There will be a large group of
“I would be honored, Lord Glorfindel.” He furrowed his eyebrows. “But we do not wish to wait too long. If I have to, I will set forth on my own.”
Gail overheard him. “Not without me!” she said firmly.
“And if both of you go, would you leave your two younger daughters here without you, or take them with you into greater peril with only the two of you as protection? What if you find yourselves unable to return? You should at least wait until you have the safety of a group of armed warriors as an escort.”
Gail and Steve looked at one another unhappily; they had not thought of that. Finally, Steve nodded unhappily. “I suppose that’s true...but we won’t wait forever!”
“Nor should you,” said Master Elrond who had silently moved up to join the conversation. “But even the Dúnedain, hardy and doughty warriors that they are, waited until they had numbers enough to set forth in safety.”
Steve nodded, and then he and Gail exchanged a glance. “Uh, excuse me,” asked Steve, “but what is a Dun—Dun—uh—
A bell rang. “Ah! Dinner is served.” Elrond gestured toward the tables, and Steve handed Megan to Gail. As they made their way to the Feast Hall, he added, “And we will be delighted to tell you the story of the Dúnedain at supper, to fill in what Kaylee has not already told you. It will mean telling you about my ancestors, and about
Merry returned with some wood for the
Sam, who was half-dozing, roused with a start. An hour or more had passed since Aragorn and Gimli had argued about the route they were going to take to Mordor. Aragorn looked over the camp. His gaze stopped on Boromir’s shield, lying with the baggage. It was evident to Kevin that Boromir was gone, too, and he could see from the expression on Aragorn’s face that the Ranger knew that, as well.
Just then, Kevin saw Boromir return. He approached the others silently, and Kevin thought the Gondorian’s expression was kind of odd. Boromir looked
“Where have you been, Boromir?” asked Aragorn. “Have you seen Frodo?”
Boromir hesitated for a second. “Yes, and no,” he answered slowly. “Yes: I found him some way up the hill, and I spoke to him. I urged him to come to Minas Tirith and not to go east. I grew angry and he left me. He vanished. I have never seen such a thing happen before, though I have heard of it in tales. He must have put the Ring on. I could not find him again. I thought he would return to you.”
“Is that all that you have to say?” said Aragorn, looking hard and not too kindly at Boromir.
“Yes,” he answered. “I will say no more yet.”
Oh, no! thought Kevin. No, no, no… He looked over at Jennifer, who met his gaze with horror in her eyes. Joey looked from Boromir to Aragorn, obviously bewildered.
“This is bad!” cried Sam, jumping up. “I don’t know what this Man has been up to. Why should Mr. Frodo put the thing on? He didn’t ought to have; and if he has, goodness knows what may have happened!”
“But he wouldn’t keep it on,” said Merry. “Not when he had escaped the unwelcome
“But where did he go? Where is he?” cried Pippin. “He’s been away ages now.”
“How long is it since you saw Frodo last, Boromir?” asked Aragorn.
“Half an hour, maybe,” he answered. “Or it might be an hour. I have
“An hour since he vanished!” shouted Sam. “We must try and find him at once. Come on!”
“Wait a moment!” cried Aragorn. “We must divide up into pairs, and arrange—here, hold on! Wait!”
But no one was listening. Sam, and then Merry and Pippin just took off in a panic. They were already disappearing westward into the trees by the shore, shouting: “Frodo! Frodo!” in their clear, high hobbit-voices. Legolas and Gimli took off as well. Kevin didn’t know what to do. He felt
“We shall all be scattered and lost,” groaned Aragorn. “Boromir! I do not know what part you have played in this mischief, but help now! Go after those two young hobbits, and guard them at the least, even if you cannot find Frodo. Come back to this spot, if you find him, or any traces of him. Jennifer, you and Joey stay here! Kevin, come with me! We shall return soon.”
Joey felt like crying, but he didn’t want to be a baby. He could feel the tears in his eyes and dashed them away with a rough hand. “Why can’t we help look for Frodo?” he asked angrily.
Jennifer sighed. She knew why she couldn’t go. Joey could not have kept up with the others, and someone had to watch him, but she couldn’t tell him that; it would just make him even angrier. “We have to stay here, Joey, because Aragorn told us to. Someone needs to do what they are told, and I guess that’s us.” She looked around. They were rather exposed. “I think we should stay in this area, but we should move to a spot where we can hide.” Jennifer could not help but recall Legolas’s cryptic warning earlier. She pointed up the slope away from the River, perhaps twenty or twenty-five feet away, where she could see a promising hiding place. They could hide there, behind large boulders and some shrubbery, and quickly re-join the others when they returned.
Jennifer grabbed her bow, and they scrambled away to the hiding place. They had a good view of the campsite, and when their friends returned, they could easily go back. Behind them, they could hear Merry and Pippin shouting for Frodo. They also heard crashing and running through the woods.
Then a rough voice called from behind: “Find the Halflings…find the Halflings!” The orcs were coming in their direction!
“Go, Joey!” Jennifer gave her brother a shove, and they went further up the slope away (she hoped) from the oncoming orcs. They had not got more than ten feet before they had to dive behind a fallen log when a dozen of the creatures came thundering through their original hiding place.
Just then they heard Merry’s and Pippin’s voices again, closer. Jennifer turned and could see them jump out of their own hiding place not far away, a little below Jennifer and Joey. They did not see her or
They apparently could see Frodo, although Jennifer and Joey could not. They were hissing and gesturing. “Frodo! Hide here! Quick! Come on!” Then the two of them looked at one another and spoke too softly for Jennifer to hear them.
Suddenly Pippin ran out. “No!” he shouted.
Merry grabbed at him in vain. “Pippin!”
This drew the attention of the orcs. Those that were still upslope
“Run, Frodo. Go on!” Merry was yelling. “Hey, hey, you! Over here!”
Jennifer cautiously raised her head to see both of them shouting and running, waving their arms as they yelled, “Hey! Over here! This way!” Suddenly Jennifer realized they were trying to lead the orcs away from their older cousin.
Immediately all the orcs began pounding after the two hobbits. Jennifer and Joey heard Pippin yell, “It’s working!”
Merry responded, “I know it’s working! Run!”
After all the orcs had passed them, Joey and Jennifer cautiously stood up, both horrified and scared for their two friends who were being pursued by all those huge orcs. Jennifer’s heart was in her throat, for she and Joey could see that there were now more orcs coming from another direction. There was no escape from either way! She wished she could do something, anything to help! She could see Merry and Pippin were trapped. Please, God! she silently prayed. As she turned to Joey, she could see the same desperation in his eyes.
“Jennifer!” said Joey. “Please, we’ve got to help them!”
Realizing that she had to keep her little brother safe, she took hold of his shoulder and shook her head sadly. “It will take a miracle!”
Just then, it seemed, a miracle did happen. There was the blast of a horn—Jennifer and Joey knew it at once: Boromir’s horn. He came racing up seemingly out of nowhere, his blade drawn, charging up the hillside, blocking the strokes of the leading Uruk-hai, to place himself in front of Merry and Pippin. Many Uruk-hai fell to Boromir’s sword as he tried to protect Merry and Pippin. He glanced over his shoulder briefly and ordered them to run.
But Jennifer and Joey knew those two would not run and leave Boromir behind. The hobbits began to pick up stones to throw at the orcs.
Then Joey tugged on Jennifer’s
Unseen by Boromir or the hobbits, but not by the two children, a huge Uruk-hai was taking aim with his bow, clearly planning to shoot at Boromir!
Jennifer let go of Joey and reached behind her for her own bow. Would she have time to string it and shoot before the orc could? But she heard the scuttle of stones and feet, and turned, seeing to her horror that Joey was running down towards the orc archer, his sling in his hand. He stooped briefly to pick up a rock, and in only an instant, his sling was twirling over his head. It hit the orc in the
The arrow missed Boromir, and he continued to fight the many orcs that surrounded him. Merry and Pippin had drawn their own barrow-blades, and they began striking out around them. Jennifer winced as she saw Merry chop off the hand of one; it went flying, the black blood spurting as the orc fell to the ground, writhing in pain.
Jennifer held her breath as the huge Uruk looked up and saw Joey, who was already spinning his sling again. This time he hit the creature in the front of his head, and the orc fell to the ground, unconscious. “Good for you, Joey!” she whispered, as he began to scramble away, back in her direction.
But just as Jennifer thought her younger brother was safe, two other orcs ran to grab him. She felt the blood drain from her face as they took him, kicking and screaming. Boromir’s attention was drawn by Joey’s cries, and then he was struck down. Pippin had slumped to the ground, she noticed; he must have fainted. One Uruk-hai had grabbed Merry, whom he struck head-first into a tree, and another of the monsters grabbed an unconscious Pippin, and now they began to run away with their three small prizes. They had never even seen Jennifer. Where were Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli? Where were Kevin and Sam? She could hear sounds of fierce fighting far behind her.
Jennifer was Joey’s only hope now, and Merry’s and Pippin’s…with a deep breath, she began to follow behind the orcs as quickly and silently as she could, while staying out of sight. She picked her way between the bodies of the many dead
“Thank you, Lord,” she prayed. “Please take care of him.” For she knew she had to keep going. Surely Aragorn and the others would soon catch up, and then they could find and rescue her little brother and the hobbits. She tried very hard not to think of what might happen if the others were all killed by those Uruk-hai. And what about Frodo? And Sam! I haven’t seen him since we split up.
But she didn’t let any of that stop her from following the orcs.
Aragorn sprang swiftly away and went in pursuit of Sam, Kevin right at his heels. Just as he reached the little lawn among the rowans he overtook Sam, toiling uphill, panting and calling, “Frodo!”
“Come with us, Sam!” he said. “None of us should be alone. There is mischief about. I feel it. I am going to the top, to the Seat of Amon Hen, to see what may be seen. And look! It is as my heart guessed, Frodo went this way. Follow me, and keep your eyes open!” He sped up the path, looking for more signs.
Sam started off trotting alongside Kevin, but he could not keep up with Strider the Ranger, nor even with Kevin; he began to fall behind. Both Aragorn and Kevin were intent on watching the trail; neither of them noticed when Sam stopped and then ran back the way he’d come.
Aragorn and Kevin sped on up the hill. Every now and again the Ranger bent to the ground. Hobbits go light, and their footprints are not easy even for a Ranger to read, but not far from the top a spring crossed the path, and in the wet earth he saw what he was seeking.
Aragorn hesitated. “I desire to go to the high seat myself,” he told Kevin,
“I read the signs aright,” he said to Kevin, a moment later. “Frodo ran to the hill-top. I wonder what he saw there? But he returned by the same way, and went down the hill again.” Kevin nodded, and Aragorn furrowed his eyebrows for a moment.
Aragorn turned again to Kevin. “I think it best if we keep heading for Amon Hen. That is the way Frodo went, and even if he is no longer there, we may be able to espy something from there.”
Kevin nodded. He didn’t have any breath to
It seemed to Jennifer that she had been running forever. Every so often, she just had to stop briefly, just to breathe. She knew that the orcs were getting further and further ahead of her, and if she stopped too long, she would never catch up. They were already out of her line of sight, and she was making use of the tracking skills Aragorn had taught her. But it would soon be too dark to see the trail. She took a drink from her waterskin, which she realized with dismay was nearly empty. Then she began walking more slowly than she had
But when the idea did come, she gasped in dismay. Could she possibly be brave enough to allow herself to be…captured? And yet it was the only sure way to get close to her little brother and the two hobbits again. Okay, she thought. Well, that’s that. She walked more briskly now. She could not do it unless the orcs found her. Thank goodness Kaylee’s not with us! At least she’s safe in Rivendell.
In less than an hour, she realized she had come up to where she could see the orcs again. They had paused to argue. She tried to think of something else. Surely Aragorn and the others were coming. Pippin had only just regained consciousness, she noticed, but Merry was still unconscious. Jennifer stopped, and slipping her backpack off, she laid it on the ground, unzipped it, and removed her walkie-talkie. Standing upright once more, she pressed the button. “Kevin, this is Jennifer. Over.”
A moment later, Kevin’s voice crackled out of her walkie-talkie. “This is Kevin. What’s happening, Jen? Over.”
“Joey and Merry and Pippin have been captured by orcs. I’ve been following them. Tell Aragorn. Over and out.”
She switched off her walkie-talkie before Kevin had a chance to respond, slipped it back into her backpack, and zipped it shut, leaving it carefully on the ground, behind a large rock, along with her bow. If Aragorn was tracking her, he’d know she had done this on purpose when he found her things. Then she went about twenty or so feet closer to where the orcs had halted, and breathed, “Thy will be done.”
Taking a deep, shuddering breath, she cupped her hands around her mouth and, with tears falling down her face, yelled as loud as she could: “HEY! You have my little brother and my friends, you
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