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An Unexpected Adventure  by KathyG

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 Ringsbelongs to New Line Cinema and to   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 80: On My Way

Joey was in between Kevin and Jennifer, peeking over their shoulders as he listened to Kevin reading it aloud.

"‘...The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.  Love, Mom and Dad.’"

"Wow," Joey said, as Kevin finished.  "They've been here a long time.  So, at least they didn't think we were squooshed in a cave-in or something!  But it sure took them a long time to catch up with us."  He made a face.

Jennifer shook her head.  "It may seem that way, but it didn't take them as long as it took us to make the same journey.  And I bet they had to pretty much do as the Elves told them, since that's who they were travelling with."

"That's true," said Kevin.  "I have a feeling a lot more happened to them than what they wrote to us.  I mean, we know there was war all over the place, and not just down here in Rohan and Gondor."

"Well..."  Joey frowned.  "...I guess that's true.  We didn't tell them everything in our letter, either."

"It would have been hard to do in a letter—it’d be as long as a book!  Some of it will have to be told in person," Jennifer replied, "because some of it would be too hard to write, anyway, and they'd have questions."

Kevin nodded.  "Well, we did say, in the letter, that we'd tell more when we saw them.  Now, do either of you have any duties to see to?  Could we maybe have supper together, early, and then devotions?  If you guys can.  That way, I'll have time for a nap before I go on guard duty."

"I might have time to eat now, but then I’ll need to get back to the healers’ camp," Jennifer answered.  "I’ll be working tonight, myself."

Joey nodded.  "I can, too—have supper, I mean.  But then Pippin and I have to go and start helping Lord Boromir get ready for packing up."

"Packing up?" Jennifer asked.

"Yep.  They’re planning on us heading out, day after tomorrow.  Or maybe even late tomorrow, depending on how much gets done, and what the scouts report."  Joey looked smug.  It wasn't often that he got to be the bearer of such good and important news.

Kevin gave a whoop.  "That's great!"  He paused.  "Why don't we have our devotions together as we eat supper, then?  It's better than not having them at all, tonight."

Since they all agreed, the three stood up, brushed the grass off their clothes from sitting on the ground, and headed over to the mess tent.

Joey was glad to see they were a little bit early.  Judging from the smells, the food was ready, but there were not very many people there yet to eat.  They looked at the long trestle tables set up, and then, noticing that a few diners were at one table, they decided on the far end of the other table.

“Joey, why don't you save us a spot down there, so we won't bother anyone?  I'll bring your food, if you want me to," Kevin offered.

"Okay.  Can you bring me an extra chunk of bread?”  Joey sniffed.  “It smells like vegetable soup."

"Sure thing, kiddo!"  Kevin ruffled his hair.

Joey ducked away, and then he went down to the spot they had decided on.  He plopped on the bench and began thinking about the letter they had received from their parents.  He was so relieved that they were here!  It's going to be so neat to see them again, and Kaylee and Megan and Lucy!  I know I've grown. I wonder if they have, too—Kaylee and Megan and Lucy, that is.  I wonder what they’ll all think when they see me in my page livery.  Especially Mom and Dad!  He reached down and put his hand on the embroidery of the White Tree.  I'm in the service of Gondor and everything.  He smiled at the thought, and then something occurred to him, and he frowned.  Dad's here now!  Maybe Lord Boromir won't want me to serve him anymore!  He said that he would give me back to Daddy when the time came.  But I like working for him.  It's almost like being grown-up, to work for someone.

But just then his brother and sister arrived.  Jennifer was carrying two mugs of water and a bowl of soup, and Kevin had one mug and two bowls, and he had some bread in a basket on one elbow. The smell of the bread was wonderful, and Joey sniffed appreciatively.  All unpleasant thoughts were pushed out of his mind.

The basket held a single round, brown loaf, which could easily be broken into several chunks.  The soup was thick with vegetables.  Joey spotted bits of carrot, onion, beans, and turnips.  It also held some greens, and he could smell some garlic and herbs in it as well.

"Yum!" he said, with a smile.  He almost reached for the bread before he remembered and held out his hand to Jennifer, who sat on his right-hand side.  Kevin reached for Jennifer's hand, as he was on the other side of her.  

Kevin murmured a brief prayer.  "Thank You, Lord, for this food to eat, and please bless the hands that prepared it.  In Jesus' name, amen."

"Amen," chimed in Jennifer and Joey.

They ate silently for a little while, for all had realized they were hungry.  Joey dipped his chunk of brown bread into his soup, using it to soak up the flavourful broth and scoop up the veggies.  He often ate with Pippin, and he kind of missed the way Pippin would talk about all the ingredients, seeming to know every ingredient’s flavour by its smell and taste.  He closed his eyes and sniffed, concentrating hard for a long moment.

"There's rosemary and thyme and garlic in the soup," he finally said.  "And there's something besides rye in the bread."

Jennifer laughed.  "Kevin, our brother is turning into a hobbit!"  She turned to him and said, "I believe there may be a little honey in the bread."

Joey grinned.  “Yum!  Honey!”

"I think you’re both right," Kevin said.  "The Lord has been so good to us."  He looked thoughtful for a second, and then quoted, "‘Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.’  Proverbs 16:24."  He glanced at Jennifer.  This was a game their family sometimes played, each person trying to remember a verse appropriate to a certain topic.

She, too, thought for a moment.  "‘How sweet are Your words to my taste!  Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!’  Psalm...Psalm 119, um, 108.”  She paused.  “Verse 108.”

Joey knew it was his turn, and he closed his eyes and tried hard to remember if he knew any verses about honey.  He was sure he did.  His face scrunched up as he thought.  Finally, he said, “‘But I would feed you with the finest of the wheat.  And with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.’”  He paused for another minute, and shook his head, scowling.  "I know it's a psalm, but I can't remember the chapter or verse."*

Kevin and Jennifer smiled at him, and Jennifer said, "It's okay, Joey.  It's a good verse."

"Yes, it is,” Kevin added.  "Have both of you finished eating?"  He glanced down at his own bowl and used his last bit of bread to wipe up the last of his broth.  "Do you want anything else?"

"Do they have any fruit today?" Joey asked hopefully, looking into his empty bowl.

"Not today.”  Kevin shook his head.  “I think they may have already started to pack up the food."

Jennifer just shook her head, as she was chewing on her last bite of bread.  "I'm fine," she said, after she swallowed.

"Let's pray, then, since we all have things we have to do."  They bowed their heads, and Kevin went first.  "Dear Lord, thank You so much for bringing the rest of our family here.  Please help us to be patient until we get to see them again, and since Aunt Janet and Uncle Ryan aren’t here, please help them not to be worried about us all.  Thank you for all of our friends here, who have taken such good care of us.  Please help those who are wounded to get better, and help Jennifer tonight, as she watches over them.  Be with Aragorn and Boromir and Gandalf as they lead us, and bless all of those we love."  He paused and squeezed Jennifer's hand. 

She cleared her throat.  "Lord, thank You for letting us communicate with our parents, and to know they are here and waiting for us.  Please help me—and Kevin—to stay awake tonight, while we work.  And watch over all those in this camp.  It’s been a good place for all of us to get better after the war.  And please guide us through the day, tomorrow."  She stopped and squeezed Joey's hand.

"Jesus, thank You for this wonderful supper we had.  Please look after Mom and Daddy and Kaylee and Megan and Lucy in Minas Tirith.  I hope the Steward is feeling better, too.  Thank You for helping Frodo and Sam to kill the Ring, and thank You they’re alive and well.”  Joey frowned.  “I think Frodo is sad, though.  Help him feel better.  Bless everybody.  In Jesus' name, we pray."  He paused.  “Amen.”

Joey sat up, and as he opened his eyes and turned his head, he noticed that a little ways away, there stood Gandalf.  He was leaning on his staff, and when he caught Joey's eye, he gave a little nod.  Joey's heart filled with warmth.

It was time now for them to go their separate ways.  Kevin headed back to catch a short nap before moonrise.  Jennifer and Joey walked together briefly, as they were headed in the same direction.  Joey gave his sister a brief hug before he went back to the Captain-General's tent, where he and Pippin would spend part of the evening cleaning armour and packing things for the move in the morning, before turning in for the night.  Jennifer continued on to the healers’ camp.  She would be watching patients that night, and so she would be spared a lot of the bustle of packing up.

I wonder what we’ll be doing, when we’re back with Mom and Daddy? she silently wondered.  We’ll be in Minas Tirith then.

-oo000oo-

It was dawn when Jennifer was able to fall asleep on her pallet which had been placed near the entrance into the patients’ tent, since she knew that the tent she had been sharing with the other women would be coming down.  She knew that it would only be a little while.  Her friend Lalaith had offered to pack for her, and had agreed to come and waken her when they came to move the patients.  Some who were nearly healed had already left.

She felt as though her eyes had barely closed, when a hand descended on her and gave her shoulder a shake.  She sat up.  "Lalaith?  Is it time to get up already?"

"Yes, Jennifer, it is time.  They are coming to begin moving the patients, and will be taking the tent down soon.  I already placed your belongings in the waggon.  And I brought you a fresh gown for today—if you hurry, the bathing area is still up.  I shall come with you and take your gown and apron back and put it with your other things.  Oh, and if you hurry, they still have some bread and tea at the campfire here.  The mess is already closed and packed up.”

"Oh, thank you, Lalaith!  You're an angel!" Jennifer exclaimed.

Lalaith chuckled and shook her head.  Jennifer had once tried to explain what an “angel” was, and though she did not understand half of what Jennifer had said, she knew it was a high compliment.  "Thank you, Jennifer."

Jennifer hurried to the little enclosure set up for the female healers.  It consisted of four curtains attached by ropes to four tree limbs placed in a square with a barrel of clean, cold water.  Jennifer took off her apron and shed the gown she had both worked and slept in all night, and then she used a piece of cloth that hung over the barrel to wash her body quickly.  But she didn't want to use the cloth on her face, so she just used her hands for that.  She felt her hair—good, the tight braids she had wrapped around her head the night before were still in place.  Reaching through the curtain, she handed Lalaith her dress and apron, and Lalaith handed her back a clean dress.

As soon as Jennifer had laced up the side of her dress, she stepped out.  "Thanks, Lalaith."

"That's all right, Jennifer.  You have done much the same for me.  Now, hurry over to the fire.  The bread and tea will not last forever, and it may have to serve you as lunch as well.  We all shall be most busy this afternoon!"

"Okay!  I'll see you later!"  She walked as fast as she could over to the healer's communal fire.  The cooks had brought many loaves of bread, and a cauldron with tea (actually tea made with herbs and no sweetening.  While that was not Jennifer's beverage of choice, she had become used to it over the last few months.  The bread was fresh and smelled wonderful, but there was no butter or anything to put on it, so she dunked her bread into the tea.  It improved the texture of the bread as well as the flavour of the tea.

She wrapped a good-sized chunk of the bread in a fairly clean handkerchief from her belt pouch and stashed it for later, in case Lalaith's prediction about lunch came true.  Then she headed off to find out what duties she would have during the packing up.

-oo000oo-

Kevin didn't even bother trying to sleep when he first returned from his night watch.  None of his companions did, either.  Dawn was breaking over the bleak mountains to the East, but the sky was clear.  Little was left of the ashy haze that had hung in the sky for the first few weeks after the fall of Mordor.  Along with his companions from the watch, they headed over to the mess area—the breakfast laid out for everyone was nothing but loaves of bread and either small beer, water, or herbal tea for drinking.  Yawning, Kevin opted for water and grabbed himself a half a loaf of bread.  The tables, save for the one with the bread, had already been dismantled and taken away, so Kevin and his friends sat on the ground to eat and to talk.  Kevin just closed his eyes and gave silent thanks.  The bread was yeasty-scented, warm, and fresh from the ashes; he quickly brushed them away and broke off a piece.  He could not get over how good just plain bread could taste when it was fresh and hot, though a part of him wished for some butter.

No sooner had he thought it than Eradan sighed.  "I wish I had some butter!"

Kevin laughed.  "I was just thinking the exact same thing!"  He took a bite of his bread and a swallow of his water.

"Butter's nice, but this bread is better than what we make in Henneth Annûn," Anborn added, and took a drink of his small beer.  “Damrod is not a bad cook, but his baking is—well, a bit firm."  He popped a piece of his bread into his mouth and started chewing.

"That is quite true," said Eradan, "but he cooks excellent fish!"  He picked up his mug of herbal tea and took a swallow.

Kevin chewed and swallowed his bite of bread, and then cocked his head.  "You always talk about Henneth Annûn.  I know it's not your home, but just what is it?"

"It is our base," replied Anborn.  "It is here in Ithilien, and though the war is over, we have yet to be given leave to tell you where it is.  It is a secret place, a cavern, and it has a view that I have yet to see surpassed."

"Careful, Anborn," said Eradan.  "We know that Kevin is one of our people, but he is not a Ranger assigned to Henneth Annûn.  Until we get leave from Captain Faramir, we must not say more."

"It's okay," said Kevin.  "At home, the army has its secrets as well.  I understand.  But maybe one day, it might be all right for me to see it, now that the war is over and all."

"I am glad you understand," Anborn added.  He paused and hesitated.  "You have a sister, do you not, here among the healers?"

Kevin's eyes grew wide.  He sure hoped this was not going where he thought it was.

"She has a friend, I noticed.  Tall, wears her hair in a long black braid?  I see her often with your sister.  Do you know her name?"

Kevin let out a breath of relief.  "I know who you mean, Anborn, but I don't know her name.  I can ask Jen what it is.  Do you want me to ask if her friend has a boyfriend?"

"Boyfriend?"  Anborn sounded puzzled, but Eradan chuckled.

"I believe that Kevin means, should he ask his sister if this friend of hers has any attachments.  She might be betrothed, you know…"  Eradan grinned when Anborn blushed.

In a very low voice, Anborn said, "That would be acceptable, Kevin, if you do not mind."

"Sure thing," Kevin said, only too relieved that his friend was not interested in Jen.  His sister was way too young to have an experienced soldier after her!   Anborn was a good guy, but no.  His dad would kill him if he let Jen date a grown-up!  She wasn't even allowed to date at home!  Not even Kevin was allowed to go on single dates yet; until he was sixteen, he had to go on double-dates to places that were chaperoned by adults.  His dad and mom had made it clear to him and Jennifer, in no uncertain terms, that they had to wait until they were fifteen to double-date, and until they were sixteen to go on single dates to movies, restaurants, and places like that; when Joey, Kaylee, and Megan were old enough, they would have to abide by the same rule.  But things were different here.  Did they even have dates, the way it was thought of back home?  They don't even have movies! he thought wryly.  What do they do on dates around here, besides walk in a garden?

Eradan stood up.  "I am tired, but they will be packing up the camp today; I do not suppose it is even worth seeking my bedroll.  But perhaps I can find a shady tree to doze under for a while.”

Kevin stood up, too.  "How about the beech grove?  The hobbits are not staying there now."

The three friends agreed that sounded like a good place to nap amid the bustle of packing up, and they made their way there.

-oo000oo-

"Oi!  Joey!"

Joey felt the blanket over him jerked back, and sat up, annoyed.  "What is it, Pippin?  It's still dark!"

"Only a little.  Boromir's already up, and I helped him get dressed and armoured so you could sleep a little longer—but they will begin taking down the mess tent soon, and I don't want to miss breakfast, do you?"

Pippin was already dressed, so Joey quickly did the same, and they headed off to get breakfast.  

Pippin inhaled an appreciative sniff.  "The bread smells wonderful."

They were among the earliest arrivals.  Of course, the captains would all have their breakfasts brought to them at Aragorn's tent—or Lord Elessar's—Joey thought.

The two of them were in time to see a fresh batch of loaves being raked out of the embers and ashes.  The cooks placed them on one of the tables.  There was a small platter with a half a wheel of cheese, and some strawberries, apricots, and oranges.

"You are in good time, young sirs," said Master Pellas.  "That there is the last of the cheese, and the fruit was brought in by your cousin, Sir Merry, Sir Pippin!  He foraged 'em off an old, abandoned farm a bit to the south of here, along with Lord Samwise, yesterday.  Once 'tis gone, 'tis gone." 

Joey and Pippin helped themselves generously to the fruit and cheese, but made sure to leave some for others.  They each got a half-loaf of the hot bread, with the ashes still on, and a mug of the tea.  "Mint, rosemary, and some sort of flower," said Pippin as he sniffed it.  "Mostly mint."

Master Pellas laughed.  "You've a good nose, Sir Pippin!  The flower is hibiscus.  This whole area were once all nice little farms back in the day.  There's overrun gardens and orchards all over the place."

Since Joey and Pippin could see that someone had begun to dismantle the other tables for transport, they sought out a spot next to a tree and sat down to eat. 

"What do you suppose Lord Boromir will have us to do when we are finished eating, Pippin?" Joey asked.

"Likely running messages and checking up on things—after all, we packed up most everything in the tent last night."  The hobbit blew softly on the tea and then, brushing off the ashes from his bread, he dipped a piece of it in the tea and then took a bite, followed by a bite of apricot.  "I am going to miss this when I get home."

"Miss what?"  Joey was eating his strawberries first.

"I really like these apricot things, and the oranges.  We don't grow them in the Shire—too cold, I guess."

Joey smiled ruefully.  It’ll be easy for us to get oranges and apricots, he thought.  All we have to do is go to the store; it doesn’t matter how cold it gets!  But they don't smell or taste as good as the ones in Middle-earth.

It didn't take long for the two to finish their meal.  They both stood up and brushed their clothes off from sitting on the grass, and then they began to stroll towards the encampment where the tents of most of the captains and leaders were pitched.

It wasn't hard to figure out which tent the meeting was in—it was the one with all the guards. 

Joey grinned at Pippin.  "Who's in the tent, you suppose, looking at the guards?"

"Well, the four in blue are for the Prince of Dol Amroth and his sons. The Rohirrim all wear the sign of the horse, and there are two for Éomer King. The White Tree is Gondor, and there are four instead of two, because there are two for Lord Boromir and two for Strider—I mean, Lord Elessar. There are three Northern Rangers there, two for Lord Elessar, or Strider or Aragorn—stars!  That man has a lot of names—and at least one for Lord Halbarad."  Pippin grinned.  “But I would bet a cherry tart that Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli, and Elladan and Elrohir are also in there, guards or no guards."

Joey laughed.  "I don't have any cherry tarts to give you, so I can't bet!  But I bet that you're right about that!"

The group of guards parted ways to allow them to come up to the tent flap, and Pippin smiled at the Guardsman who stood there.  "Hullo, Artamir!  We are here to report to the Captain-General, Lord Boromir," he said.

The guard nodded and stood aside, holding the flap open with one hand, and gestured the two inside.

Joey blinked.  The tent was dim though there were lanterns, and everyone they had made guesses about were all inside. Boromir looked at them, and nodded to acknowledge them, glancing briefly to his left side.  He was seated in a chair slightly behind Aragorn, and to his left.  Joey and Pippin quietly made their way to stand behind Boromir on his left, to wait and learn what they would have to do.  Joey noticed that Merry was standing right behind Éomer King.  They all looked at one another, but kept their faces serious.  They were now on duty.

The King of Rohan was going on about the numbers of horses and waggons that were available, and how they should be arranged during the travel...

This is sure dull grown-up talk, Joey thought, resisting the temptation to fidget as the numbers went right over his head.  I suppose this is important stuff, but I don’t know what they’re talking about!  Taking a deep breath, he resisted the temptation to scowl and looked at Merry, then at Pippin, who both appeared perfectly composed.  To pass the time until he could talk and move about once more, he began to daydream.  He began to picture being back at home, in his own back yard, surrounded by his neighbourhood friends, talking about all the things he had done in Middle-earth.  But then he began to wish that he had his Middle-earth friends there, so he could introduce them to his friends at home.  I’d love for them to meet Sador and Bergil!  But would any of my friends even believe me, if I told them?

But just then, Aragorn stood to speak, which grabbed Joey's attention once more.  "It sounds like all is nearly ready.  Would there be any objection among you if we broke camp this afternoon rather than in the morning?"

Boromir nodded.  "I have no objections.  We may not make a lot of headway before dusk, but making a beginning will make starting again in the morn much easier."

"I agree," said Gandalf, and the others gathered there also nodded agreement.

A broad smile spread across Joey’s face, but he quickly wiped it off, as he waited for his orders.

Boromir turned to Pippin.  "Pippin, please go and find Mablung.  Tell him to be off now with the Ithilien Rangers to scout the way on the route we have spoken of, south along the Anduin.  Tell him to send a runner if anything is amiss, but if not, he is to continue to Osgiliath."  

Pippin gave a brief bow and repeated the message back, to make sure he had it right.  At Boromir's nod, he said, "Yes, my liege," and darted off.

He turned to Joey.  "Joey, find Master Pellas and tell him that he needs to strike the mess camp and prepare to head out in the vanguard.  Then find Beregond; ask him to choose three other guardsmen to escort the foodstuffs and the cooks."

Joey nodded.  "Yes, sir.  I am to tell Master Pellas that the mess camp is to be struck, and they are to prepare to go out in the vanguard, escorted by Beregond and three other guards.  And then I am to tell Beregond of his assignment?"

Boromir nodded.  "That is correct, Joey.  After that, prepare your own things, and I will send Pippin to help you in striking our tent."

Joey gave another bow of his head.  "Yes, my liege."  And he, in turn, trotted off to obey his orders.

-oo000oo-

Jennifer and Lalaithiel were stopped by one of the healers, as they finished stowing their own belongings on a designated waggon.

"Here, girls, we need some help in getting the worst of the wounded to the boats."  He gestured to where at least twenty of the remaining patients were being placed on litters to be carried to the riverfront for a safer, quicker, and more gentle passage to Osgiliath.

They nodded and joined those who were carrying the litters; others of their friends had also been ordered to help, not really with the carrying part, but with walking alongside to steady the litters and the patients over the occasionally rough terrain.  These were patients who were still rather badly off because of their injuries, and would not be able to take the jouncing about while riding in a waggon.

Jennifer knew that once everyone left, she would also be riding in one of the waggons, to look after whatever wounded person would be riding in it.  But some of her other friends would be riding in the boats to look after those wounded.

After she and Lalaith and the others had made the patients comfortable on two barges and a small ship, they went to find out what else they needed to do.

The two girls found themselves parting ways, as Jennifer was sent to one waggon and Lalaith to another.

She was quite surprised to discover that her two patients were Frodo and Sam.  They had been up and around for a few days, and she thought they were mostly healed.  Apparently, the new King did not agree.  He did not want either of them walking that whole distance among all the Big Folk and large animals, and did not want them riding on horses, either. 

"Hullo, Miss Jennifer," said Sam.  "Are you to be riding with us?"

"I guess I am," Jennifer answered.  She climbed up into the waggon.

"It is good that you can ride with us," said Frodo, as he took her hand to steady her into the back of the waggon.  "It will make the ride much less tedious."  He smiled.  "And look who has been assigned as our driver."  He pointed at the young warrior who had been checking the horses' harness, and Jennifer beamed.

"Kevin!"  

"Hey, Jen!  They assigned me to drive. See, Bron is in harness!"  Indeed, one of the two horses hitched to their waggon was Kevin's steed, Bron.  Smiling, Kevin waved, and Jennifer waved back.  Then Kevin came to claim the driver's seat.  He chuckled and told Jennifer "He didn't really want to pull a waggon, but Legolas persuaded him."

Brother and sister settled themselves on the seat, and Frodo and Sam moved closer to the front of the waggon.  All four of them chatted for a while, as they watched the different parts of the camp get ready.  The wounded and the healers were all behind the mess.  Of course, those riding on horses would soon be in the very front, except for a few in the very back, while those who would be walking would be interspersed between some of the waggons. 

They watched as the ship and barges floated past on their way downriver.  Messengers on foot ran back and forth, and then came the horses of the captains.  Aragorn paused next to them and told Jennifer to let him know at once if either Frodo or Sam showed any sign of distress, whether the hobbits wanted her to tell him or not.  Boromir stopped, so that Joey, who was seated in front of him could say hello to them.  Gandalf also stopped to check on Frodo and Sam, and to let Pippin, who was on Shadowfax behind him, greet his cousin and Sam.  Merry was riding behind Éomer, who did not stop, but Merry turned to wave at them cheerfully.  Several more of the captains and their men rode past them, and on beyond the waggons of food and supplies and cooks.

There was a brief silence, except for the occasional clink of harness or horse snorting, as they awaited the signal to move.  Then there came the sound of horns, and slowly, slowly, the great caravan began to move.

They were on their way.

-oo000oo-

A/N: Joey's psalm was Psalm 81:16.





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