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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
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 32: Wherever You Are
It had not taken them long to enter the foothills of the Misty Mountains, and now they were traveling over the mountains themselves. More than ever, Steve was glad they had chosen to allow Megan to ride with Mairen. As their group navigated the narrow single-file path at the edge of a mountain, he was nervous enough on his own; he'd be terrified for her safety if he had his baby in front of him. There was no conversation right now; Gail was riding behind him, with Mairen and Megan behind her, and Kaylee on her little Barrel behind the Elf-woman. There was a string of warriors both in front of and behind the little family. Two of the warriors had gone ahead to scout out a location for them to make camp, and Steve had begun to wonder when they would stop. He shivered. It might be near the end of winter here, but at this altitude, it was still pretty darn cold. Good thing they were all wearing warm cloaks! Their family had been dressed for early
This must be like traveling through the Swiss Alps! he thought. The first few nights, they had been in the foothills, and it had been easy enough to find a place to camp, but up here? He sure hoped they would find somewhere good to stop before it got dark.
Just then, he saw the Elf in front of him hold his arm up, before stopping. His horse stopped automatically before it ran into the one in front of it. Like all animals trained by Elves, it was exceptionally intelligent. He leaned forward and patted his mount on the neck. "Good boy,
"The scouts have found our stopping-place for the night," the Elf said. "It is about a half a league from here, a cave that is known to Lord Glorfindel.”
Gail was glad to hear they would be stopping soon. Riding when you could not converse with anyone except your own thoughts was rather tedious. Besides, underneath it all, she had a purely physical reaction every time she glanced to her
Also, she thought that her legs and her rear end would be glad to stop as well. Riding around a paddock did not have nearly the same effect on her body that riding hours on end on a narrow trail did. She turned and looked at Mairen. Megan, who was seated firmly before her nursemaid, grinned up at her mother.
"Hi, Mommy! Can I ride with you now?"
"No, sweetie, not yet. You stay with Mairen. Mommy's not good enough at riding to take you yet."
Megan gave a tiny
Gail lifted her eyes to Mairen. "They are sending a message down the line, that we will stop in about a half a league."
Mairen gave a nod. "Very well...Gail." Gail had insisted that since they were traveling together, they should be on a first-name basis. Mairen was not quite comfortable with that concept yet, but she was consistent once Gail had told her. "I shall tell Kaylee."
Kaylee had wondered why everyone had stopped. She wrinkled her nose. While they were waiting, Barrel had pooped on the trail. She looked up when Mairen turned around.
"Miss Kaylee, we have only to ride a little longer—half-a-league, if you can remember that. Will you tell Raendir?"
“OK, Mairen.” Kaylee
“I hope not!” her mother said fervently from up in front of Mairen. Bilbo had told them all about that battle in the Misty Mountains during his Adventure, and Gail had thought he was making it
"Their race has very nearly died out," he had said with a sigh.
Kaylee felt bad about that. She really would have liked to have seen one. But Bilbo had assured her that the actual experience was not nearly as much fun as hearing about it.
She turned, and carefully repeated Mairen's message to the Elf behind her, who was carrying Lucy before him on his saddle. It was too scary for Lucy to try running alongside on this narrow mountain path, was what Glorfindel had said. "Hey, Rudolph! Mairen says we are going to stop in half of a league."
She gave the Elf a cheeky grin, and he shook his head with a smile. She had sung for him the song of a reindeer named Rudolph, mocked and laughed at by the other reindeer because of his red nose, although he was not quite certain why she had decided upon it as an epessë for him. Still, he could deny the little one nothing, even to be called by such a strange and undignified name.
"Thank you, Miss Kaylee." He turned to pass the word on.
Kaylee giggled again. When they did this, it kind of reminded her of the game of Whispers they used to play in class sometimes. Boy, would she have a lot to tell when she got back to school!
Glorfindel had begun to ride once more, following the scouts. He knew these trails well, and of the
On the day after Gandalf and his companions had arrived, a funeral was held for Théodred, Théoden's son, who had been slain in battle while the King was still under Saruman's spell. Kevin and the others followed the mourners out of the town, where the barrows were for the burial.
Kevin watched. It was so different from any funeral he had been to before. It seemed sadder and somehow more dignified than the ones he was used to. He supposed it was because they did not talk about the Resurrection. They knew nothing about it, since all of that knowledge was far in the future, likely thousands of years longer than he could even imagine. But Éowyn sang a beautiful song; it was in Rohirric, so he did not understand it. But it made tears come to his eyes.
Lord, Kevin silently prayed, I know that Théodred could not believe in You. That's all way in the future. But I am confident that You will take care of him. He paused. Please take care of Théoden, too! I know that he doesn't know about what will come, and can't be a believer, but he is a good man. Please give him something that will comfort him and give him hope. Please take care of him and help him. In Jesus’ name,
He wondered what sort of beliefs the people of Rohan had. He knew the Elves believed in God as Creator, though they called Him Eru,
Kevin recalled some of what they had learned about pagan mythology in his history classes and his literature books in his English classes. The ancient Greeks and Romans had lots of gods, and so did a lot of other past civilizations. But if he remembered right, even some ancient people believed in the One. I wish I understood more about that; I know some people in the Old Testament were saved. We never have talked about that in Bible class yet. I wonder if Gandalf can answer my questions. He might be able to do that.
When the funeral was over, and as they were heading back to the gates, there was a cry. He looked up to see several people staring in the distance. He followed their gaze up to a ridge in the distance.
A horse had trotted over the ridge, ridden by two children. Suddenly one of the children slid off the horse and fell to the ground.
At an order from Théoden, three of his Riders raced to them. Two of them took the children upon their horses and rode quickly back, while the third slowly led back the exhausted horse. The children, one, a boy in his early teens and the other a little girl of about eight, were brought in where they could rest and tell their story.
After being cleaned up by Éowyn and a couple of her serving maidens, they were brought in to sit at a table in the Great Hall and given some food. They ate ravenously as Éowyn sat by them quietly, gently questioning the children. Then Éowyn stood up next to them, looking up to where Théoden sat on his throne with Gandalf at his side.
Éowyn said, "They had no warning. They were unarmed. Now the Wild Men are moving through the Westfold, burning as they go—rick, cot, and tree." Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli exchanged concerned glances.
The little girl—whose name, they had learned, was Freda—looked up at Éowyn and asked plaintively, "Where's Mama?" Éowyn immediately turned and gave her a hug.
Gandalf turned to the King. "This is but a taste of the terror that Saruman will unleash. All the more potent, for he is driven now by fear of Sauron. Ride out and meet him head-on." The wizard leaned forward, putting a hand on the arm of the throne; the king looked at him warily. “Draw him away from your women and children. You should fight."
Aragorn stood up and faced Théoden. "You have two-thousand good men riding north as we speak. Éomer is loyal to you. His men will return and fight for their king.” He sat back down and inserted his lit pipe into his mouth.
Théoden rose from his throne and walked to the
"Open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not," added Aragorn, removing his pipe before speaking.
Éowyn spun to look at her uncle and Aragorn. Théoden turned toward Aragorn and said sternly, "When last I looked, Théoden, not Aragorn, was King of Rohan."
Gandalf silenced Aragorn with a
Théoden turned away from them for a moment, concern etched on his face. After a moment, he said, "We shall make for the stronghold of Helm's Deep. It has never been breached in time of war."
Aragorn, Boromir, Legolas, and Gimli all exchanged glances with a mutual expression of concern. Gandalf simply nodded thoughtfully to himself. Kevin looked at them all, wondering what they knew that he didn't.
Théoden summoned his men and hurried away to begin the preparations for mustering his army and preparing the people of Edoras for an evacuation. Kevin and his companions watched as the king went off to set his plans in motion. Gandalf, Aragorn, and Boromir all exchanged a look of dismay. Gandalf shook his head and looked thoughtful. "I must go," he said. "If I hurry, I may yet find a way to avert disaster. Rohan must be defended."
The wizard put his words to
Kevin followed his five
"Who will defend them, if not their king?" Gimli grumbled.
"He’s only doing what he thinks is best for his
"Helm’s Deep has saved them in the past," added Boromir. "In fact, it has never failed them, and Théoden has no reason to believe that it will not do so now."
Kevin grimaced. Just as well that Jennifer and Joey aren’t here!
Aragorn and Gandalf approached the stall where Shadowfax awaited his rider. He looked eager to see the wizard.
"There is no way out of that ravine. Théoden is walking into a trap. He thinks he is leading them to safety. What they will get is a massacre." Gandalf looked grim as he spoke. He turned to Aragorn. “Théoden has a strong will, but I fear for him. I fear for the survival of Rohan. He will need you before the end, Aragorn. The people of Rohan will need you. The
Kevin watched the determination in Aragorn's eyes as he answered Gandalf. "They will hold."
Gandalf gently stroked the mighty horse’s coat. "The Grey Pilgrim. That’s what they used to call me. Three hundred lives of Men, I have walked this earth, and now I have no time."
Aragorn opened the stall door as Gandalf mounted Shadowfax. "With luck," Gandalf said, "my search will not be in vain. Look to my coming at first light on the fifth day. At dawn, look to the east."
"Go," Aragorn said in a steely voice.
Kevin found himself jumping out of the way, along with the others as Shadowfax came shooting out of the stall like a bullet. The mighty horse was out of the stable doors before Kevin could even regain his balance. For the time being, the remaining Fellowship was without Gandalf, again. At least this time, they knew they'd see him again. And thank goodness! Kevin thought. Still, he couldn't help feeling dismayed. He had badly wanted to talk to the wizard. He had questions that he could not ask anyone else.
It took longer than Kevin thought it would, for all the talk of urgency, to arrange the evacuation of the city. In fact, even though the citizens of Edoras were under orders to take only necessary provisions, the preparations took all day to complete. But at sunrise the next morning, the first wains of evacuees began heading out. Warriors rode up and down the lines of women and children and the elderly. Lady Éowyn was in charge, and she kept the refugees in order.
Those who were mounted rode slowly, so as not to outpace those in wagons or on foot, but some
Kevin was beginning to feel anxious. He turned to Boromir, who was riding beside him. "Shouldn't Aragorn and Legolas be back by now?"
Boromir shrugged. "Perhaps, but scouting can take a while. If they find anything of importance, I am sure at least one of them will report back."
"It just makes me worry about them a little," Kevin confessed sheepishly. He expected the warrior would laugh at him.
But Boromir just nodded, although he had an amused smile. "You have a good heart, Kevin McCloud. But those two are seasoned warriors and skilled trackers. Do not fear for them."
Somewhat relieved by Boromir's words, Kevin nodded, and the two rode in silence for a while.
Kevin guessed that it was about another hour, when Theoden gave the signal to halt for a brief
Just as the King was about to give the order to resume their journey, Legolas came riding up. He rode straight to where Théoden was speaking with Éomer. Kevin stood near them and could overhear his report.
"Aragorn and I came across two
"Very well. He knows where are going."
Kevin bit his lower lip. Aragorn knew what he was doing, Kevin knew, but it was so hard not to worry! If only someone could have gone with him, to watch his back when he fights that orc, he thought. Please, God, protect Aragorn! Amen.
At that point, the King ordered them all to continue onward, and Kevin mounted his horse. For a long time, he rode in silence. His thoughts kept returning to Aragorn, and he kept attempting to beat back the worry that kept surging in his gut.
Startled, Kevin turned to notice Legolas riding alongside him. The boy smiled sheepishly. “Sorry. I keep thinking about
Legolas nodded. “And worrying about him.”
Kevin grimaced. “Yeah, to be honest. He's all alone, Legolas! What if he runs into some orcs?”
Legolas nodded agreement. “Yes, he is, Kevin, but it is not the first time he has acted alone.”
Kevin bit his lower lip. "I'm sure it's not."
"Would you care to hear of his most recent such adventure?" the Elf asked.
Kevin raised an eyebrow and tried to imitate Pippin's expression when the subject of stories came up. "Would I?" he asked. “I sure would!”
Legolas laughed and then began. "It was some years
Legolas' tale of the hunt for Gollum was quite exciting and interesting, and the Elf successfully kept Kevin’s mind from worry as they rode.
Still, the longer they rode without any sign of Aragorn's return, the more Kevin's worry returned. And he could not help but fear that perhaps something had happened to their friend. It was difficult; he had two more people to worry about besides his brother and sister and Merry and Pippin. And Frodo and Sam, too. He wasn't used to having so many he cared about in so much danger. It didn't help that there were no easy ways to communicate, as there were back home.
They rode for a very long time. Legolas said they'd been riding for forty leagues, at least. No wonder I'm getting sore; that's almost a hundred and twenty miles, Kevin thought. He noticed that Gimli looked really tired, too. Wonder if Dad got tired like
Kevin was really exhausted as twilight began to fall, and the group began to near the Westfold. They approached a green valley which lay between the mountains; it narrowed into a gorge that led into the place the Rohirrim called Helm's Deep. They rode on and on, the way
There it was: Helm's Deep, its mighty walls pierced only by a wide culvert through which a stream passed, flowing into a gully beyond. Over a stone
Jennifer woke to the sound of voices. It seemed that Merry and Pippin were already awake and talking with Treebeard.
"...You have brought me a bundle of news and no mistake," Treebeard's gruff voice was saying. "You have not told me all, no indeed, not by a long way. But I do not doubt that you are doing as Gandalf would wish. There is something very big going on, that I can see, and what it is maybe I shall learn in good time, or in
"And what about yourself?" Merry began to ask the Ent.
Jennifer sat up and ran her hair through her fingers. “Good morning,” she interrupted.
"Good morning," rumbled Treebeard, distracted by her awakening. "I hope that you slept well."
She nodded, and then glanced over to where Joey was still sleeping hard, his head pillowed by his own hands, which were clasped beneath his cheek. A fond smile crept across her face as she gazed down at her slumbering little brother.
The Ent offered her another bowl of water, which she drank thirstily, and then splashed her face a bit with what was left in the bottom. The Ent didn't seem to notice, as he had continued his conversation with the hobbits, telling them that he had not heeded much about the earlier wars of Elves and Men. "...I am not altogether on anybody's side, because nobody is altogether on my
Jennifer shuddered. "Orcs are awful!" she said. "They are the worst thing I've ever dealt with." That was an understatement. Jennifer sometimes wished she could use some stronger language. It was hard to think of words bad enough to describe orcs without cussing, and she couldn't do that.
Pippin did, though his cussing was pretty mild. "They are bloody monsters, is what they are!"
Merry jabbed his cousin in the side with his
Pippin blushed. "Sorry, Jennifer."
"That's all right, Pippin." She really didn't think of that as a cuss word, but it was
Treebeard agreed that the orcs were monstrous beasts, though he added that the creatures of shadow had not troubled him much when they were far away. "But Saruman now! Saruman is a
The Ent spent a few moments, seemingly muttering to himself about Saruman and the Orcs, and then finally he stopped abruptly. Treebeard raised himself from his bed with a jerk, stood up, and thumped his hand on the table. The vessels of light trembled and sent up two jets of flame. The Ent's deep green eyes seemed to flicker with anger.
“I will stop it!” he boomed. “And you shall come with me. You may be able to help me. You will be helping your own friends that way, too; for if Saruman is not checked Rohan and Gondor will have an enemy behind as well as in front. Our roads go together—to Isengard!”
Merry and Pippin gave a cheer, and Jennifer did, too, which finally wakened Joey.
"What's going on?" he asked sleepily, yawning and stretching.
Treebeard strode to the archway and stood for some time under the falling rain of the spring. Then he laughed and shook himself, and wherever the drops of water fell glittering from him to the ground they glinted like red and green sparks. In the meantime, while the old Ent stood and thought, Jennifer and the hobbits filled Joey in on much of what Treebeard had told them.
They sat and waited for their host in the cool of the morning, while Joey had a drink of the refreshing water, and wondered among themselves what Treebeard was planning.
Suddenly, the Ent lifted his head, and gave a mighty call, sounding almost like a giant horn. The sound seemed to be echoed back at them over and over...until they realized that it
“Where is Entmoot?” Pippin ventured to ask, once they had arrayed themselves on him as they had the day before.
“Hoo, eh? Entmoot?” said Treebeard. “It is not a place, it is a gathering of Ents—which does not often happen nowadays. We shall meet in the place where we have always met: Derndingle Men call it. It is away south from here. We must be there before noon.”
And with the four of them settled in place, Treebeard set off, and Jennifer could have sworn his pace was somewhat hastier than it had been the day before. She could hear him occasionally repeat his call, and hear answering replies as they went. Jennifer had a feeling that they were headed for something momentous and altogether dangerous, and not only for
I hope it will be! she thought.
It had not taken the
Kaylee took it upon herself to entertain Megan, who was inclined to be cranky after sitting in front of Mairen all day. “London Bridge is falling down, Falling down, falling down. London Bridge is falling down, My fair lady,” Kaylee sang to her little sister, who soon laughed and joined in. Since there were no other little children to play the game
Kaylee sang another song or two, and soon Megan had settled next to her, leaning against her older sister, and sucking her thumb. Kaylee looked up as the grown-ups finished arranging the campfire. Lucy was wandering around, sniffing the cave floor, and begging absent-minded pats on the head from the various Elves as they went about their tasks.
“Now’s when I could use some frankfurters,” Gail said. “And some hot dog buns!”
Steve laughed. “Me, too, and some marshmallows, too! I would welcome a s’more to snack on, myself. But we’ll just have to make do without those till we get back home.” Gail nodded.
Glorfindel sat down against the wall of the cave. He smiled at Kaylee and Megan, who ventured to sit next to him. “Well, little ones,” he said, “it is much more comfortable for us than it was for Bilbo, Gandalf, and the
Kaylee giggled. “Bilbo said it was raining, and that’s why they had to sleep in this cave,” she said. “What’ll we do if it rains?”
Glorfindel leaned against the cave wall. “Well, Miss Kaylee, it depends. As for tonight, we are already in the cave and will be warm and dry if it does start to rain during the night, save for
An amused smile crept across his face. “But unless we have to sleep in the rain, at least we will not have to worry about getting wet in our beds!” He shook his head. “Not as I once did.”
“Really?” Kaylee snuggled up against him, and Glorfindel took Megan on his lap. “When?” Kaylee gazed up at him, wide-eyed, and Megan stuck her thumb back in her mouth.
Glorfindel wrapped his arm around Kaylee. “Once, a very long time ago, when I was still living in Valinor. I was living in the palace of King Arafinwë in Tirion with his son, Finrod.” He shook his head. “I had just awakened in my own bed when I saw Finrod standing over me, holding a bowl. And do you know what that naughty elf did, Miss Kaylee, Miss Megan? It turned out that that bowl was filled with water, and he dumped it all over me!”*
Kaylee giggled again, and Glorfindel laughed. “Yes, it is funny, Miss Kaylee. I can laugh about it now, but I certainly could not laugh about it then.”
Steve had his arm around Gail, and she leaned into him. "That reminds me of a similar trick I pulled on Ryan when we were kids,” he said. “But I rigged it so that he doused himself with the water."
Kaylee looked up at him with wide eyes. "How did you do that, Daddy?"
He grinned at the memory. "I filled a bucket with water and perched it up on top of the headboard of his bed. Then I tied a string to the handle and the other end of the string to his big toe. Then I tickled the bottom of his foot!" He laughed out loud. "He kicked right out and knocked the bucket over and woke up with a yell! It completely doused him and his bed with water. Unfortunately for me, the empty bucket then hit him in the head. The racket all woke your grandma and grandpa, who came in to see what was going on. They were not at all happy at being woken so early in the morning, Kaylee, and your grandma was really mad about the lump on Ryan's forehead. Not to mention being mad about the wet bed and my brother's wet pajamas! I was in big trouble over that one, let me tell you! It was the end of my practical joking, anyway."
All of the Elves had a hearty laugh over the story, and then Avorn saw fit to mention some of the trouble that Elladan and Elrohir had
Soon, the food was ready, and the group assembled around the campfire. Kaylee and Megan sat next to their parents, with Megan sitting between Kaylee and Gail. “Megan, why don’t you ask the blessing?” Steve asked her.
Nodding, Megan took her sister’s and mother’s hands and bowed her head. She chanted:
“T'ank You for the world so
T'ank You for the food we eat.
T'ank You... "
Megan paused briefly, her face scrunched up as she tried to recall the words. Kaylee leaned over and whispered in her ear. Megan
“...for the birds that sing.
T’ank You, God, for
Jesus' name, A-Men!"
Raising her head, she grinned up at her parents, who nodded their approval. “That was very good, Megan," her mother said, ruffling her youngest daughter's hair.
Mairen brought over wooden bowls of stew, warm and steaming, and plates of flatbread. Everyone ate with a hearty appetite after the long day's journey, and before she had even finished, Megan fell asleep with a piece of bread still in her hand.
Steve carried her to the corner of the cave where the little family was to sleep. Their bedrolls had already been laid out for them by the solicitous Elves.
“I am really glad goblins aren’t gonna get us!” Kaylee announced.
The others laughed. “I really am, too, sweetheart,” her father agreed, as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders.
“And now, it’s time for dreamland, Kaylee,” Gail added. Steve nodded agreement.
Kaylee lay down and snuggled next to her sister, soon asleep as well.
Steve and Gail sat by them, their hands joined as they said a silent prayer together, before they, too, sought their beds. Gail soon was breathing softly in slumber, but Steve was awake for a little while, thinking of the journey ahead, and saying another silent prayer for his older children.
A/N: *Glorfindel’s anecdote about his dousing by Finrod can be found in Chapter 19: “Return to the Maze” (http://storiesofarda.com/chapterview.asp?sid=5080&cid=21120) of Elf, Interrupted: Book One: Glorfindel Redux (http://storiesofarda.com/chapterlistview.asp?SID=5080), by the late Fiondil, which is posted
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