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An Unexpected Adventure  by KathyG

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 AU, and blends Lord of the Rings book-verse and movie-verse.  This story also contains a lot of spiritual and religious content as a part of the AU elements.

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

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

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

Chapter 41: Out There

Kaylee rode in silence for a long time, looking at her parents.  It was becoming clear to her that they were worried, and she was pretty sure that they were worrying about her brothers and sister.  They won’t be hurt, will they? she silently wondered, frowning.

At last, she looked up at Mairen, who was riding next to her.  “What is it, Miss Kaylee?” the Elven nursemaid asked her.

Kaylee bit her lower lip.  “Uh, Mairen…”  She paused.  “Jennifer and Kevin and Joey won’t get hurt, will they?”

Mairen gazed down at the little girl intently.  “Why do you fear they might get hurt?”

Kaylee looked toward her parents.  “They’re worried.  Mommy and Daddy.  I can tell.”  She turned back to Mairen.  “I don’t want Jennifer and Kevin and Joey to get hurt.”  She bit her lower lip and furrowed her eyebrows.

“None of us want that for your brothers and sister.”  Mairen smiled.  "And I think perhaps your parents always worry about you children, because they do not wish for any of you to get hurt.  But right now, I believe they may be more worried about someone else.  Can you not see that Lord Glorfindel is also worried?"

Kaylee shook her head.  "Not really.  He never looks worried.  I thought Elves never get worried."

Mairen laughed.  "Elves worry, little one, but we have had many long years to learn how to school our faces."

"But who else could they be worrying about?" Kaylee asked.

"You know that Egnil and Amdir went off to scout a few days ago.  But they are not back yet."

"Oh."  Kaylee thought for a moment.  "Mairen, do you think it would be okay if I said a prayer for Egnil and Amdir?  I like them."

"I think that it would be 'Oh-kay', as you say, dearest, if you wish to."

Kaylee bowed her head.  “Please, God,” she prayed, “take care of Egnil and Amdir.  Please don’t let anything bad happen to them.  Amen.”  She looked back up at her Elven nursemaid.

Mairen smiled at her small charge.  She hoped that Eru Ilúvatar was listening, and would heed the little girl’s prayer.  Though she had spent much time with Kaylee, she had never ceased to marvel at the confident way the child approached the One.  And since her parents’ arrival, it had become clear to Mairen that they approached Eru with the same confidence.

They rode in silence for a while, when they noticed Radagast pull his sled-rabbits to a halt from his place on the verge.  He looked up, and they heard the flapping of wings as the thrush he had spoken to earlier returned.  Kaylee didn't know what Radagast and the bird had been talking about back then, but she had seen it fly away.  And now it was back and seemed to be talking to Radagast again.

Glorfindel had halted the company as soon as he saw what Radagast was doing.  The wizard nodded to the bird, which flew away again, and then Radagast walked over to speak to Glorfindel.  Kaylee wished she could hear what they were saying.  She saw her parents move up to hear what was going on.  Perhaps later on, they would tell her what was happening.

-oo000oo-

"What is going on?" asked Steve, as he moved Loborros closer to where Glorfindel was speaking to Radagast.  "Is there news?"  He still found it odd to be waiting on news from a bird.

Radagast answered, "Yes.  The thrush spotted two Fair Ones afoot, one who seemed to be leaning upon the other and walking in a manner that seemed, as the bird put it, that one of his “upper legs” was hurt.  Of horses, there was no sign yet."

Glorfindel stiffened from atop Asfaloth's back.  "Avorn!" he called.

Avorn trotted up.  "What is it, my lord?"

"We have received word of our scouts, and they seem to be a-foot and in some sort of trouble.  I wish you to take charge.  I will ride to seek them.  You continue the journey as we have set it.  You should catch up with us by sometime tomorrow."

"Yes, my lord."

"Farewell, for now, then.  I will go to find our strays."

Avorn sat and watched his commander set off.  Of course, Asfaloth was the swiftest steed in their party, and he would suffer none but Glorfindel to bear him most of the time.  It was a good decision, but he still would rather have gone himself.  But if Egnil and Amdir were in need of help, then Lord Glorfindel was the best one to find them.

Gail joined them, and she and Steve exchanged concerned glances.  “What’s going on?” Gail asked.  “Are they all right?”

"All we know," said Radagast, "is that they are not with their horses, and that one of them appears to be slightly injured in some way."

"Lord Glorfindel has gone to seek them," added Avorn.  "He asked me to take charge until his return."

“Perhaps I should have gone with him,” Steve said, frowning.  “They may be needing first aid.”

"That is a kind thought," said Avorn, "but I do not believe you could have kept up with him.  And my Lord does know some simple healing—‘first aid', as you call it.  If the injured one can still walk, he must not be too badly injured."  Steve nodded.

-oo000oo-

Glorfindel urged Asfaloth onward, and his faithful steed shot forward as though he had sprouted wings.  The world passed them by in a blur, and he knew he had left his company of travellers far behind in only minutes.  He knew he could entrust their care with Avorn, whom he had known since the Last Alliance.

Egnil and Amdir were clearly in trouble, and only on Asfaloth could they be quickly found.  Or so he thought.

‘Laurefindil.’  The voice in his mind was a surprise.  It caused him to pull up and slow Asfaloth to a walk.  His mount snorted his displeasure at the sudden change, but obeyed.

‘Laurefindil.’  Confident and clear and distinctly feminine, he knew at once who it was.

He concentrated.  He was not quite as skilled in osanweas some were, for he rarely had occasion to use it, but it was certainly not unknown to him.  ‘My Lady Artanis,’ he replied.

‘I had a vision of two of your people.  They seemed in some slight trouble, and I have sent help to them.’

‘I am already on my way to them, for we learned through Aiwendil that they had been unhorsed.’

‘We await your arrival here.  Do not fear for them; we shall care for them.’

‘Thank you, my Lady,’ he responded, but he could already feel her withdrawing from his mind.  He urged Asfaloth on, but not as such a breakneck speed.  He now had assurance that his two warriors would be well-taken care of.

-oo000oo-

Rúmil had taken his brother Oropher and five other warriors with him.  All of them had experience as scouts.  He wondered what had put two Elves of Imladris a-foot?  Elven horses rarely strayed.  He also was not happy to know they would be going into the Laeg Ninglor.  Those marshes spread on both sides of the river.  The area had an evil name among Men, and even some Elves dreaded them.  Rúmil disliked them, but did not dread them.  They were, in a way, useful in guarding the northern approach to the Golden Wood, something which Haldir had often pointed out.  He wondered how his older brother was doing in the lands of Men to the South.  It had been long since the people of Rohan had any dealings with Lothlórien.  He was not sure if they ever had, although those of Gondor had at one time.  He had never had any dealings with Men himself save for Estel during his visits to the Golden Wood, and more recently the children who had stayed among them, but Haldir had occasionally gone adventuring with the Sons of Elrond.  They were, after all, the grandsons of the Lord and Lady.  Celeborn often sent one or two of his own warriors with them when they rode out into the lands of Men. 

Rúmil's mount suddenly stopped and gave a whicker, as did the horses of the others.  He held his hand up, and they heard an answering whinny, and the Elves stopped and waited, as they saw two horses step out from a copse of trees, and walk slowly in their direction.  The horses bore no saddles, but their reins and headstalls were decorated in the style of Imladris.  Oropher spoke up.  "I would say we have found the errant horses of the scouts we are searching for."

"No doubt."  Rúmil shook his head.  His younger brother had a talent for stating the obvious.  He raised a hand and signalled two of the others to approach the horses and bring them along.  "We must hope that finding the horses means their former riders are not too far away.  Let us continue."

The seven moved on, now followed by two extra horses.  They were Elven steeds, and needed no other leading than the will of the other horses and the Elves who rode them.

Continuing slowly into the depths of the Gladden Fields, they rode silently for over three hours when they spotted the ones they were seeking.  Egnil and Amdir were seated on the ground, their backs against a tree.  Egnil stood.  "Well met, Rúmil of Lothlórien.  We are in need of help.  Amdir was injured by an orc arrow, and our horses bolted.  Ah!  I see you have found the faithless nags!"

"And how did you encounter orcs?" Rúmil asked.

"We were ambushed by arrows from the other side of the Anduin, where they seemed to be lying in wait."

"They grow ever more daring.  No longer do they content themselves with tormenting King Thranduil in the Dark Forest or loitering in Dol Goldur, but now they venture West and South.  I fear that they are heeding the will of Mordor."  Rúmil knew that Lord Celeborn was in communication with Thranduil, and of course, the Lady had her own ways of knowing what was going on.  The Elves of Lothlórien were well informed of what happened beyond their bounds, and though many of them were little concerned with those events, those who watched the bordermarches had to keep their eyes and ears open, and to gather what information they could.

He glanced down at Amdir, who had yet to speak, and then gestured to Oropher to dismount and tend to the wound.  Oropher often served as a healer in the field.

Oropher took with him his pouch of healing supplies and went over to inspect the injury.  He glanced over at Egnil.  "You did well enough with what you had," he said.  "But now let us cleanse this properly and bind it with real bandages."

-oo000oo-

That evening, the children had said their prayers and were already asleep in their bedrolls after a long and tiring day.  Now Steve and Gail sat around the campfire with Mairen, Avorn, and Radagast.

"So," said Steve, glancing at Radagast, still a bit sceptical that the information had come from a bird.  "Do you think he's found them yet?  I hope that he will be able to reach them in time to help."

"If anyone can find them in the wild, Glorfindel can," was the reply.

Gail also looked at the wizard.  "You said they had lost their horses, and one was hurt.  How do you suppose it could have happened?"

Radagast shook his head.  "Birds have a limited understanding; they can tell me what they see, but they would not have any idea of how whatever it was came to pass."

Gail sighed.  It would be helpful to know just what sort of trouble the scouts had run into; at least whether or not it was something they could prepare themselves for.  She looked at her slumbering daughters, huddled in their bedrolls, troubled at the potential danger their little girls could be facing.  Steve squeezed her hand in reassurance.

"I think," said Avorn, "that until we do know just what the trouble is, tomorrow Megan should ride with Mairen, and Kaylee should ride with one of the other warriors—perhaps Raendir; she seems quite fond of him."

"But Megan's been riding with Steve for days now," objected Gail.  "And what about Barrel?"

Steve shook his head.  "If there is trouble, we might have to ride away quickly.  I don't think I would feel safe about Megan riding with me if I had to gallop."

"And at a gallop, Barrel might have trouble keeping up with the horses.  She does fine at a slower pace, but if we should need to flee?  And I am not sure if Kaylee could keep her seat if she had to gallop her pony, especially if we are fleeing danger."

"I also think," put in Mairen, "that Lucy should ride with someone.  She, too, would be hard put to keep up with the horses at full gallop."

Avorn gave his wife a proud smile.  "That is a good thought, beloved.  Perhaps she could ride with Radagast in the sled?"  He glanced over at the wizard, who had been sitting quietly, just listening.

He nodded.  "I would be glad to take her; perhaps I can talk to her about her fear of my rabbits."

Steve and Gail stared at Radagast, astonished.  Even after a few days of travelling with the Brown Wizard, they had a hard time telling when he was serious.  But since they already had proof he could talk to birds, was talking to their dog impossible?

The wizard in question gave them a mischievous look, as if he knew what they were thinking.  "I am quite sure we can have a nice conversation tomorrow, Lucy and I.  And we shall hope that all of our precautions are needless."

Avorn nodded.  "Needless they may be, and I most sincerely hope that is what they are.  But we will take them, nonetheless.  Better to be prepared."

Steve also nodded.  "Where we come from, the saying is 'Better safe than sorry'."

"I like that saying," Avorn responded.

"And I say that it is time that all go to their rest."  Mairen looked at Steve and Gail, for of course, the Elves did not need to sleep as Men did.  She refrained from saying that out loud, but chivvied them all until they were heading to their beds for the night.

"And," said Avorn to Mairen, after they saw Steve and Gail go to their own bedrolls.  "I know just why you are a nursemaid at heart, my dearest," he whispered to her.  "You treat the parents like they are elflings!"

She laughed.  "And compared to us, are they not still very young?"

The next morning, Kaylee and Megan were told of the new riding arrangements.  At first, Kaylee objected to not being able to ride Barrel, but Mairen told her that the pony could do with a bit of rest from carrying her, and asked her who she wanted to ride with.

"Rudolph!" she said gleefully, with a giggle.  "Can I ride with him?"

"Of course," Mairen answered, and so that was settled.  Fortunately, Megan was still a bit sleepy, and did not seem to mind that she would be riding with the nursemaid instead of with her father.

Lucy did not mind much when Radagast gathered her up.  She quite liked him—he understood her, and he was covered in fascinating smells.  At first, she wagged and wriggled and licked his face—until she saw they were going over to the sled, where the rabbits were already harnessed.

She began to try and escape from his arms as Radagast got onto the sled, but he held onto her tightly.  Lucy trembled in Radagast’s arm as he used his other hand to gather the reins.  After a few moments, she started to whine.  “Hush, Lucy,” he soothed her, “there is nothing to be afraid of.  These rabbits will not harm you.”

These rabbits are so big!’ Lucy’s thoughts entered his head.  ‘Bigger than me!’

Radagast laughed.  “Big, yes; dangerous, no.  They are gentle rabbits, and will not harm you.”

‘Are you sure?’  Lucy twisted her head to look up at the wizard.

Radagast snuggled her against his chest and smiled.  “Quite sure!  I really think they would like to be your friends, Lucy.”

‘Rabbits are not supposed to be bigger than dogs!  Do you really think they would be my friends?'

"Of course, they will be your friends!  When we stop for lunch later, I suggest that you introduce yourself to them."  With a chuckle, Radagast set Lucy on the sled in front of him and flipped the reins, and they took off like the wind.

Lucy calmed down and sat there, her face turned up to catch all the wonderful smells.  Why, she thought, it's better than a car ride!

Radagast gave a hearty laugh, and Lucy felt even better.

At lunchtime, while the others were preparing lunch, Radagast unharnessed his rabbits to forage.  Then he carried Lucy toward his rabbits and set her down in front of them.  “This is Lucy,” he told his rabbits.  “She wants to be your friend, but she is afraid you will hurt her, so you will have to show her that you mean her no harm.”

For a moment, Lucy just stood there, watching them, her nose twitching.  When none of them made a move on her to attack her, she moved cautiously toward the one closest to her and started sniffing his body.  The rabbit’s nose twitched nonstop as she sniffed him.

After a moment, the rabbit cautiously sniffed Lucy as well, and then, one by one, she greeted each of them, sniffing each rabbit in the process.  In return, each rabbit sniffed her back.

But suddenly, all of the rabbits startled, and stood up as if afraid.  In that instant, Lucy smelled something bad, and heard something she did not like.  Something dangerous! she thought.  Something very bad!  In the woods beyond the trees, she sensed.  She moved slightly in that direction, raising one foot to point, her hackles raised.  She began barking loudly and growling, her teeth bared in a snarl.  The rabbits all stood up on their back legs and began drumming one foot on the ground.  Then, as one, they all took off at a run.

Radagast, who had stiffened at Lucy's first bark, snatched the puppy up in his arms and shouted, "Go!  Go!  Go!"  He leaped onto one of the spare horses’ backs, holding a still-barking Lucy against his chest.

Two huge beasts came bursting from under the forest eaves.

Without warning, Mairen snatched Megan and threw her upon her horse, quickly mounting behind the child, whose face was stark with terror.  Raendir did the same with Kaylee, whose scream of "Lucy!" was lost to the wind.

“It is all right, little one,” Raendir soothed Kaylee.  “Radagast has Lucy.”  The little girl turned to look, but they had already gone too far for her to see the wizard.  “Do not worry.  Lucy is safe in his arms.”

"Go!" Acorn shouted at Steve and Gail.  "Follow your children!  We will deal with the Wargs!"

So that's what a Warg looks like, thought Gail, as she urged Calroc into a gallop.  It resembles a huge wolf, but it looks much meaner!  She had wondered if she would be able to stay on at such a fast pace, and she didn't feel secure, but she was riding neck and neck with Steve, and she could still see Mairen and Raendir ahead of them.  They weren't closing the gap, but at least they weren't losing them, either.

But what about the others?  She couldn't hear the sound of hooves behind them.  Would they be okay?  What if there were more than two of these Warg-things?  She looked ahead, and could see that the two Elves ahead, and realized they had slowed, and now had stopped for her and Steve to catch up.

"Whew!"  Steve was breathing hard as the two of them pulled up next to the Elves who had the children.  “That was a close call!”  Megan was sobbing, and Gail longed to take her, but she felt far too weak to attempt to dismount, and she couldn't reach her little girl from horseback.  But Mairen was smoothing Megan's hair and murmuring Elvish endearments.  Kaylee's face was still pale and frightened, and her whole body was shaking, but she wasn't crying.

"What about everyone else?" Steve asked.

"They are capable warriors," Raendir said.  "They can easily handle a few Wargs."

But what if there were more than just a few? thought Gail.

-oo000oo-

A/N: Laurefindel was Glorfindel’s name in Valinor, and Artanis was one of Galadriel's names in the First Age.

 





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