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Summary: In the spring of 2012, four American children find themselves thrust into an unfamiliar 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 59: Seize the Day
He was completely unprepared when suddenly a single orc leaped at him from behind a boulder. Bron reared up unexpectedly, and one of his hooves clipped the creature on the head. Kevin was thrown to the ground. The orc fell back, and Bron took off at a gallop into the unknown. He eyed the orc warily as he drew his sword.
The orc, thankfully, was armed with only a knife, and it was moving awkwardly and slowly after the knock on its head. But it was an orc, and fierce, and it came at him. Kevin swung with all his might, and cut the arm with which it was holding the knife. Then he swung again, giving it a gash in the torso. He must have hit an artery. It fell back to the ground, gushing black blood. Kevin knew it would die, and that he should kill it now, but he couldn't bring himself to just stab it to death when it couldn't strike back.
Kevin shook his head, and went to the ground and sat there. He wouldn't leave it to die alone, either. So, he sat and watched as it died, and then when he realized that it was gone, he broke down and sobbed. He was a failure. He was alone and horseless in a wilderness, and all he had brought with him, save his waterskin, was gone with Bron. His message would never reach the others on time, and he could not make it back the way he had come on foot. And it was very likely there were other orcs around somewhere.
He didn't expect an answer; his prayers had gone nowhere for days. But he reverted to his habits that he'd been taught since childhood. "Lord," he wept, "please, please, help me!" (From Chapter 56, "Shadowland")
Kevin sighed, and sniffed, and wiped a dirty hand across his face. He heard something rather odd, almost like the distant sound of a helicopter, yet softer and less rhythmic. He shook his head; he was hearing things...
But suddenly a mighty wind came up, blowing dust in his direction. And when he could see again, he really thought he might be hallucinating: there before him was a golden eagle the size of an airliner!
"Hail," it said. "I am Landroval. How may I help you?"
And at that moment, Kevin recalled some of the stories he'd heard since he came to Middle-earth, of the Great Eagles who came to the rescue. He remembered that some had rescued Bilbo and his Dwarf friends. And one had rescued Gandalf from Saruman. And one had taken him to Lothlórien after he had come back to life—had it been the same one? he wondered.
And then he remembered the verse that the Lady Galadriel had sent to him when he and Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli had found Gandalf in the woods.
"Son of the west, the time has come to put away childish things.
Don the full armour of righteousness, and gird yourself with truth.
Into battle, you shall be born on eagle's wings.
Take up the warrior's way, and put behind your youth."
"You were sent for me?" Kevin asked hesitantly.
"Yes. The time has come for my brothers and I to once more intervene. We were coming this way already, when I was told to speed ahead and look for you."
Thank You, Lord, Kevin prayed silently. He truly had been at the end of his rope. He stood up, his legs a little wobbly, and eyed his gigantic rescuer. “You’ll have to excuse me. I’ve never seen an eagle so huge before. Or one that can talk!”
The Eagle gave a high-pitched screech, and somehow Kevin had the impression that the giant bird was laughing at him. Landroval bent down and leaned sideways in Kevin's direction, spreading out his wings. "I have been told it is more comfortable for you little people to ride upon my back. Climb up, and come just behind my neck and in front of my wings. Or if you prefer, I can carry you in my talons?"
Kevin looked alarmed and shook his head. "Uh, on your back will be fine, thanks! Er, Landroval, how do I hold on?" He climbed on the Eagle’s back as he spoke.
Again, the Eagle made the laughing screech. "You will figure it out, young one."
As the great bird launched itself into the air, Kevin gave a strangled squawk of his own, and began to tightly grip some of the feathers in front of him. Landroval did not object, and so Kevin held firmly and began to get used to the sensation of flying on top of a living creature.
This is sure different from flying in an airplane! he thought wryly, and then shook his head and rolled his eyes. Good one, Captain Obvious!
They flew higher and higher, and soon he realized that they had passed through the nasty fumes of the dark clouds, and they were above, in a clear blue sky. It was amazing and beautiful.
In his head—for they were going too fast for him to do it out loud—he began to sing a familiar song.
And he will raise you up
on eagle's wings…
As the song finished running through his head, Kevin couldn't help thinking how beautiful it was up so high above all the evil that Sauron had made below. The enemy ends, he thought, with a smile. Sauron can't reach this high, and thank goodness! He bit his lower lip and tightened his clutch on Landroval’s feathers. I sure hope that Landroval gets me to Aragorn in time to be of some use!
They glided on for some time, and then Kevin spied the tiny looking, though vast, army below, and just past it, the incredibly massive walls and gates of Mordor. Kevin shuddered at the sight.
The army was just beyond two hills of what seemed to be rubble from this distance. But Landroval began to descend in a slow spiral while they were still a mile or so from the hills. The Great Eagle landed upon the ground.
"Why did we stop here?" Kevin asked.
"My brothers have summoned me to join them," answered Landroval, "and I ask you to say nothing of my presence, nor of the aid I gave you."
Kevin's first thought was to protest, but he took a deep breath and nodded. He was sure there were reasons that Landroval did not want the army to know the Eagles were coming.
He stood there and watched as the Great Eagle took off and soared quickly out of sight, and then began to stride towards those hills in the distance. Please, God, let me get to them in time!
Kevin walked quickly, but he was only about halfway to the first of the two hills, when he saw someone on horseback descending. The horse and rider galloped towards him, and Kevin was alarmed to see the rider holding a spear aimed at him.
"Stop!" Kevin yelled. "I'm on your side!"
The rider lowered his spear and slowed to a walk as he came near Kevin. He was dressed in the livery of a Citadel Guard, and looked a little familiar.
"Kevin, son of Steven?"
Kevin nodded. "I am afraid I don’t remember your name, though your face is familiar…"
"I am Adrahil, son of Mardil. You may perhaps have seen me with Peregrin, son of Paladin, who is in my company. How come you here, alone and with no horse?"
"Lords Éothain and Amrothos sent me with a message for Aragorn and Gandalf. My horse bolted a while back, so now I’m walking." Kevin replayed his words in his head; he was trying to be as truthful as he could without mentioning Eagles.
"I will bring you to them," said Adrahil, and replacing his spear into the holder by his saddle, he reached a hand down and helped Kevin up onto the horse behind him.
Pippin shuddered. Aragorn had told him to get ready to represent his people when they went forth to meet the envoy of Mordor at the Black Gate and deliver their challenge. He supposed it was better than just going headlong into battle as soon as they broke camp, because the more long drawn-out they could make it before the actual fighting, the more time they gained for Frodo. Looking at those massive gates that were so big, it strained his neck to look up at them. He seriously doubted that any fight would last long enough to do Frodo any good.
He went to the small basin that held water for washing, and splashed some on his face. He couldn't have a proper wash, because he did not want to foul the water for others who would need to use it. He'd have to leave his friend Beregond and the few men of the city who were not in the Guard, since he had joined in with the Guardsmen. He would be riding with Boromir again. But Boromir had promised him that he would let him down to go join his comrades before the fighting started.
Feeling refreshed, Pippin turned to go see about getting some of the dry rations that were being given out for breakfast. It basically consisted of hard tack—a kind of leathery dry bread that was a real challenge to the teeth and had no flavour at all. He also had some watered-down ale.
Just then, he heard a familiar but unexpected voice call out his name. "Pippin!"
Pippin whirled around and stared at his friend, open-mouthed. "Kevin! How did you get here? Why are you here?"
Kevin laughed. "I flew." And back home, he thought with a grin, nobody would question that answer!
Pippin rolled his eyes, and then laughed in his turn. "Seriously—what are you doing here?"
"I have messages for Aragorn and Gandalf." Kevin’s face turned serious as he spoke. He wasn't sure just how useful his message would be, since there might not be anyone left after this battle who might run into the reinforcements for Sauron's side coming up from the South.
Pippin took one look at his face and nodded. "I'll take you to them."
The two of them made their way through the various soldiers' encampments to the place where the commanders had set up their tent. The two guards by the tent waved Pippin and Kevin in, where Kevin saw Gandalf, Aragorn, and Boromir standing over a table and looking at a map, along with Éomer, Prince Imrahil, Halbarad, Legolas, Gimli, and Elladan and Elrohir. He exchanged a glance with Pippin.
"We will hold the high ground as long as we can do so…" Aragorn was saying, when he looked up. "Kevin! What are you doing here?"
"I was sent by Lord Éothain and Lord Amrothos with a message." As Pippin listened next to him, Kevin explained about the discovery that there were yet more Southrons moving up the Great Southern Road.
Aragorn looked at the dismay on the faces of the other leaders, and sighed. But Gandalf spoke up. "We will give word to the troops that should there be survivors at the end of the battle, to regroup to the north, and to flee north, rather than west or south."
"What is our next step?" asked Imrahil.
"We need to array our army as best we may, on the high ground, and then we commanders should ride towards the Black Gates and issue our challenge."
Gandalf looked down at Pippin. "You are with Boromir, Peregrin. Kevin, I think that you, too, should be a witness. Will someone give Kevin a ride?"
Elladan looked over at Kevin. "I will, if he wishes it so."
Kevin nodded. "Thank you."
Kevin followed Elladan and his brother out to the horse-line. While the commanders were arraying the host up on those two big hills of stone and earth, the twin sons of Elrond prepared the horses for the harrowing, but short, ride to the Black Gate. In addition to the leaders, they would also be taking an honour guard with banners, and a couple of heralds and trumpeters.
Finally, the group set out. Pippin rode behind Boromir, Gimli behind Legolas, and Kevin behind Elladan. Éomer, Imrahil, and Elrohir rode unencumbered. Behind them rode the honour guard, and flanking them were the two heralds and the two trumpeters.
Slowly, they picked their way among pools of nasty-smelling mud and piles of rubble. They came within earshot of the Morannon, and unfurled the banner, the black, bejewelled banner that Arwen had made for Aragorn, and the trumpeters blew upon their trumpets; and the heralds stood out and sent their voices up over the battlement of Mordor.
“Come forth!” they cried. “Let the Lord of the Black Land come forth! Justice shall be done upon him. For wrongfully he has made war upon Gondor and wrested its lands. Therefore the King of Gondor demands that he should atone for his evils, and depart then forever. Come forth!”
There was a long silence, broken only by the sounds of the horses' occasional snorts or the creaking of their leather tack. Kevin thought the silence would never end, and they were about to turn away.
Just when it seemed nothing would happen, and just as Kevin and his companions started to turn in the opposite direction, there was a loud metallic screeching sound, and a crack slowly appeared between the Black Gates, outlining a door. Suddenly, there was a thud that made Kevin jerk with its suddenness. In the next instant, the middle door of the Black Gate was thrown open with a great clang, and out of it there came an embassy from the Dark Tower.
At its head there rode a tall and evil shape, mounted upon a black horse, if horse it was; for it was huge and hideous, and its face was a frightful mask, more like a skull than a living head, and in the sockets of its eyes and in its nostrils there burned a flame.
The rider, Kevin noticed, was as hideous as his mount. He winced at the sight. What is he? Is he a man? Is he some kind of monster I haven't heard of yet? He gaped in horror at the rider’s black robe and black helmet, and then at the rider’s face. He's hideous! Behind the repulsive-looking rider came only a small company of black-harnessed soldiery, and a single banner, black but bearing on it in red the Evil Eye.
The helmet was skull-like, and as he grew nearer, Kevin realized that the rider’s mouth was bigger than any human mouth had a right to be. As he halted a few paces before the Captains of the West he looked them up and down and laughed.
“I am the Mouth of Sauron. Is there anyone in this rout with authority to treat with me?” he asked. “Or indeed with wit to understand me? Not thou at least!” he mocked, turning to Aragorn with scorn. “It needs more to make a king than a piece of elvish glass, or a rabble such as this. Why, any brigand of the hills can show as good a following!”
Kevin was surprised when Aragorn did not say anything, but took the other's eye and held it, and for a moment they had a staring contest; but soon, though Aragorn did not stir nor move hand to weapon, the Mouth of Sauron cringed and flinched as if Aragorn had threatened to strike him. “I am a herald and ambassador, and may not be assailed!” he cried.
Kevin found himself wishing Aragorn had just chopped the creature's head off.
“Where such laws hold,” said Gandalf, “it is also the custom for ambassadors to use less insolence. But no one has threatened you. You have naught to fear from us, until your errand is done. But unless your master has come to new wisdom, then with all his servants you will be in great peril.”
“So!” said the Messenger. “Then thou art the spokesman, old greybeard? Have we not heard of thee at whiles, and of thy wanderings, ever hatching plots and mischief at a safe distance? But this time thou hast stuck out thy nose too far, Master Gandalf; and thou shalt see what comes to him who sets his foolish webs before the feet of Sauron the Great. I have tokens that I was bidden to show to thee—to thee in especial, if thou shouldst dare to come.” He signed to one of his guards, and who came forward bearing a bundle swathed in black cloths.
The Messenger put these aside, and there to the wonder and dismay of all the Captains he held up first the short sword that Sam had carried, and next a grey cloak with an elven-brooch, and last the coat of mithril-mail that Frodo had worn wrapped in his tattered garments. A blackness came before their eyes, and it seemed to them in a moment of silence that the world stood still, but their hearts were dead and their last hope gone.
Kevin saw it was too much for Pippin, who cried out, "Frodo!" Kevin wanted to do the same, but Elladan had put a firm hand on his arm, which kept him silent.
“Silence!” said Gandalf sternly, but the Messenger laughed aloud.
“So you have yet another of these imps with you!” he cried. “What use you find in them I cannot guess; but to send them as spies into Mordor is beyond even your accustomed folly. Still, I thank him, for it is plain that this brat at least has seen these tokens before, and it would be vain for you to deny them now.”
“I do not wish to deny them,” said Gandalf. “Indeed, I know them all and all their history, and despite your scorn, foul Mouth of Sauron, you cannot say as much. But why do you bring them here?”
“Dwarf-coat, elf-cloak, blade of the downfallen West, and spy from the little rat-land of the Shire-nay; do not start! We know it well—here are the marks of a conspiracy. Now, maybe he that bore these things was a creature that you would not grieve to lose, and maybe otherwise: one dear to you, perhaps? If so, take swift counsel with what little wit is left to you. For Sauron does not love spies, and what his fate shall be depends now on your choice.”
No one answered him; but he saw their faces grey with fear and the horror in their eyes, and he laughed again, for it seemed to him that his sport went well. “Good, good!” he said. “He was dear to you, I see. Or else his errand was one that you did not wish to fail? It has. And now he shall endure the slow torment of years, as long and slow as our arts in the Great Tower can contrive, and never be released, unless maybe when he is changed and broken, so that he may come to you, and you shall see what you have done. This shall surely be-unless you accept my Lord's terms.”
“Name the terms,” said Gandalf steadily, but Kevin saw the sorrow on his face. He was sure that Gandalf had to be completely crushed by this news.
“These are the terms,” said the Messenger, and smiled as he eyed them one by one. “The rabble of Gondor and its deluded allies shall withdraw at once beyond the Anduin, first taking oaths never again to assail Sauron the Great in arms, open or secret. All lands east of Anduin shall be Sauron's for ever, solely. West of the Anduin as far as the Misty Mountains and the Gap of Rohan shall be tributary to Mordor, and men there shall bear no weapons, but shall have leave to govern their own affairs. But they shall help to rebuild Isengard which they have wantonly destroyed, and that shall be Sauron's, and there his lieutenant shall dwell: not Saruman, but one more worthy of trust.”
Kevin saw the triumphant look on his ugly face, and figured he was planning to be the one to take Saruman's place.
Gandalf shook his head. “This is much to demand for the delivery of one servant, however beloved: that your Master should receive in exchange what he must else fight many a war to gain! Or has the field of Gondor destroyed his hope in war, so that he falls to haggling? And if indeed we rated this prisoner so high, what surety have we that Sauron the Base Master of Treachery, will keep his part? Where is this prisoner? Let him be brought forth and yielded to us, and then we will consider these demands.”
“Do not bandy words in your insolence with the Mouth of Sauron!” he cried. “Surety you crave! Sauron gives none. If you sue for his clemency you must first do his bidding. These are his terms. Take them or leave them!”
“These we will take!” said Gandalf suddenly. He cast aside his cloak and a white light shone from him. The foul Messenger recoiled, and Gandalf yanked away all the items. “These we will take in memory of our friend,” he cried. “But as for your terms, we reject them utterly. Get you gone, for your embassy is over and death is near to you. We did not come here to waste words in treating with Sauron, faithless and accursed; still less with one of his slaves. Begone!”
Then the Messenger of Mordor laughed no more. His face was twisted with amazement and anger to the likeness of some wild beast that, as it crouches on its prey, is smitten on the muzzle with a stinging rod. Rage filled him and his mouth slavered, and shapeless sounds of fury came strangling from his throat. But he looked at the fell faces of the Captains and their deadly eyes, and fear overcame his wrath. He gave a great cry, and turned, leaped upon his steed, and with his company galloped madly back to Cirith Gorgor. But as they went his soldiers blew their horns in signal long arranged; and even before they came to the gate Sauron sprang his trap.
Kevin's heart sank. It seemed he'd joined up with his friends just so he could die with them. Forgive me, Jen and Joey and Kaylee—and Mom and Dad and Megan, I don't think I'll be coming home to you. Lord, please give me courage. He bit his lower lip. I wonder if this is what it was like for Dad, when he fought in Operation Desert Storm? At least he lived to return home. But it doesn’t look as if I’m gonna get to!
He took a deep breath and set his face in determination. It was time to fight.
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