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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 83: Can't Do Nuthin' Right, Part 1
It was early afternoon when there was a knock at the door of their guest quarters. "Come in," Steve called.
It was Ondahir. "Master McCloud, Lord Faramir has told me that he has made arrangements for you and your wife to go and speak to Princess Lindiriel this afternoon. If you are available, I will escort you both to her home. Lord Faramir would do so, but he has to attend a council meeting with the Steward this afternoon."
Gail looked up from where she sat. "What about the girls?" she asked. "Mairen's just put Megan down for a nap."
Kaylee, who had been playing on the floor with Lucy, also looked up. "Daddy! You promised! You promised we could take Lucy outside!"
Steve looked at Gail, and both sighed. "Kaylee, sweetheart," Gail said, "talking to the Princess is important. Maybe we can walk Lucy later, after we get back."
Kaylee's face fell, and tears welled up in her eyes. It was hard to be cooped up. She couldn't just run outside to the backyard to play anytime she wanted to, and she had really looked forward to walking outside with Lucy and her daddy.
"How about this, then?" Steve said. "You’re a big girl now. I think maybe you could walk Lucy. You have to stay near the Citadel, or maybe even go to the Houses of Healing's garden. But that's all. And you have to take good care of Lucy."
Kaylee jumped up and grinned. "I could do that! I am a big girl now! And Lucy will mind me."
"All right," her mother said. "Let's get you ready. Go get your cloak!"
Kaylee instantly darted into the room she shared with Megan and Mairen, and came dashing out with the grey cloak she had been given in Lothlorien. Gail helped her into it and fastened it at her throat with the small leaf brooch that had come with it. "There you are, sweetie." She kissed Kaylee on the forehead. "Now, take Lucy, and be a good girl!"
"I will, Mommy!" She turned around and called out, "Come on, Lucy!" There was no leash. Lucy had been trained by Elves and knew to stay with her young mistress, at her heels.
She darted off, waving. "Bye, Mr. Ondahir!" she said, as she passed him, with Lucy at her side.
The three adults all laughed at her antics, and Ondahir shook his head, smiling. "Children of that age are always so lively! How I wish we could keep such liveliness as we grow older."
"Don't we all?" Steve chuckled. "Master Ondahir, do we have a few moments to make ourselves presentable before we go to meet the Princess?"
"Yes, of course. I shall await you here."
Steve and Gail had dressed very informally for the day, as they had made no other plans than walking the dog with Kaylee. Steve went on into the room he shared with Gail, while Gail took a moment to go speak to Mairen and let her know what was going on.
She found Mairen sitting on a chair next to Megan's bed. Megan was curled up with her thumb in her mouth, and Mairen was singing softly.
Gail explained what was going on. "Kaylee should be either on the grounds of the Citadel or the gardens in the Houses of Healing. If she is not back by the time Megan wakes up in a couple of hours, you might want to go look for her. She doesn't yet have a good idea of the time. I don't know how long our meeting with the Princess will go."
"Of course, Gail," the Elf-woman said serenely. "I will see to it."
With Lucy romping at her side, Kaylee hurried down the stairs of the Citadel, waving at the two Guardsmen at the door, who smiled and waved back. In her belt pouch, she had Lucy's little leather ball. She took it out and threw it, and Lucy quickly caught it and brought it back. The two of them played catch in the courtyard for a few minutes, and then they both trotted over to the stables. The grooms greeted Lucy like an old friend and had smiles and greetings for Kaylee. But all the horses were out. Most had gone to the battle, and messages had already been sent out for the day with the few remaining mounts, and none of the messengers had returned yet.
Lucy sniffed her way across the stables to the kennels on the other side, and Lucy watched as she greeted the other dogs with her nose through the kennel fence. The other dogs wagged their tails, and with Lucy on the other side, they spent time sniffing each other, barking, and running up and down the fence. Kaylee climbed up to sit on the fence and watched, laughing, until one of the groomsmen came and lifted her down.
"'Tis not a good place to sit, little miss. You and Lucy should go and play in the gardens on the grass and the pavement; 'tis much too dirty for a little girl here."
"Okay! Thank you." Kaylee darted off with a wave, accompanied by Lucy, and gave the groomsman a cheery "Bye!"
She played a little game of hopping from square to square over the stone pavers in the courtyard, as Lucy romped behind her. When she got to the gate of the Sixth Circle, she decided to go to the Houses of Healing, since she had permission to do so. The gardens there were larger and more varied than those in the Seventh Circle. And the flowers and herbs were in nice beds surrounded by low stone walls that were fun to walk on and balance on. And there were usually gardeners to talk to and ask questions of. Plus, it smelled really nice now that things were blooming and growing.
She was trying to keep her balance on one of the beds, with her arms held out to the side. Lucy had darted off momentarily, chasing after a butterfly. Kaylee turned her head to call Lucy and started to lose her balance. For a moment, she swayed perilously, but just as she thought she would fall, a strong hand grasped her arm, and helped her down to the grass. She turned to thank whoever had kept her from falling.
"Ooh!" said Kaylee. "Thank you…" She stopped speaking as she glanced at a girl about Jennifer's age. "Who are you?"
The girl laughed. "My name is Firieth. I think I can guess that you are the little sister of Lady Jennifer that I have heard about. But I do not know your name."
"I'm Kaylee. How did you know I was Jennifer's sister?" Kaylee sat down on the stone wall, and the older girl joined her.
"One of Dame Ioreth's errand lads told me that Lady Jennifer's sister was in the city. His name is Sador."
"Sador was nice!" Kaylee smiled. "He rode in the waggon with us when we got here. He's friends with my brother Joey."
Lucy had come to Kaylee's side, and sat down beneath her feet. Kaylee reached down and scratched her ears. "We'll be glad when Jen and Kevin and Joey get back here. It was sad when we came, and they weren't here. But the Steward and Far...I mean, Lord Faramir? Anyway, they were nice to us."
Firieth looked around. "Are you not usually with the Elf lady?"
"She's with Megan. That's my other sister; she's only three, and she had to have a nap. I'm five, and Daddy said I could go out and play if I didn't go any more far away than here." Kaylee looked at her new friend. "I'm a big girl now."
Firieth laughed. "You most certainly are." She stood up. "Well, I must not tarry. I was sent to gather herbs, and I must take them back up to the Houses now." She reached into the basket and pinched a few leaves. "Here, have a bit of mint to chew on." She handed the leaves to Kaylee. "I am glad that I met you, Lady Kaylee."
Firieth went off, and Kaylee put the herbs in her mouth. They did taste good, kind of like chewing gum, but not as sweet. She chewed on them, but decided not to swallow them, and spat them out when she was tired of chewing on them. Their conversation reminded her of Sador, and she wondered if she could find him somewhere around here. She jumped up and, calling out, "Come on, Lucy," she trotted off to look for Sador.
Heading into the area where the various buildings were, she tried to remember where she had been told the errand lads were—there! She saw some steps, and several boys sitting there. She trotted up to them. "Hello! Have you seen Sador?"
The boys were busy playing some sort of game with small stones, but one of them looked up. "He's just gone to deliver a message. There he is!" The boy pointed to a running figure some distance away.
"Sador!" she called. But he was too far away to hear her. She started to run after him, and kept on going, not even noticing when he passed under the gateway down to the Fifth Circle.
Kaylee ran as hard as she could, but she never quite caught up to Sador, until he stopped for a moment to wait for a waggon to go by. She put on a burst of speed, and Lucy raced ahead, barking. The little dog recognized Sador and stopped by him, wagging her tail. Sador turned. "Kaylee! What are you doing here?"
"I was trying to catch up with you," Kaylee answered, as if it was the most logical thing in the world.
"But why are you alone?" Sador had never seen her without either her parents or the Elven nursemaid.
"Daddy said I was a big girl and could walk Lucy on my own."
"Oh. Well, I have an errand to run to the apothecary on the Fourth Circle." He looked doubtful. Was she really supposed to be this far away from the Citadel? He glanced at her. "You stick with me, then. I shall bring you back after my errand."
Kaylee bit her lower lip. “Can we go back up now? Daddy said I had to stay at the Citadel or the Houses of Healing. I’m gonna get in trouble if I don’t go back.” Her face fell. "I didn't mean to come so far, but you couldn't hear me."
Sador sighed. "I must do my errand first, for they need the herbs the apothecary has, since those do not grow in the garden, and the healers need them. But we are nearly there now, and you can come back with me after."
Kaylee hung her head and scuffled one foot on the ground. "I didn't mean to be bad. I just forgot." Lucy, who had sat down at her feet, sat up and licked her hand.
"Then we should hurry on, and get the herbs, and get back all the sooner, then. Stay with me."
"Don't go so fast," Kaylee said in a subdued voice. “I can’t keep up.”
The two walked along the street over the cobblestones, Lucy walking between them obediently. Kaylee remained downcast, and Sador felt somewhat impatient at having to walk instead of run, as he was accustomed to doing. But he could never go off and leave a little child alone, especially since she did not know the City well.
Soon they passed under the gate to the Fourth Circle, which was much busier than the upper circles. Kaylee was starting to get tired, but she did her best not to drag her feet and to stay right by Sador, and Lucy trotted next to her mistress.
"Here we are!" Sador said.
Kaylee looked up in relief at the small building with its single thick diamond-shaped paned window, and she and Lucy followed Sador through the door, which was propped open by a large rock. As Lucy stood next to her, tail wagging, Kaylee stared around in fascination. Dried plants hung down in bunches from the rafters, and on one side of the room, shelves were lined with jars of dried herbs and other things she didn't recognize. Beneath the window, which let in light, but not much of a view, was a table of pots with growing plants. At a long table in the centre of the room that was covered with all sorts of bottles and funny-looking tools and gadgets, an old man sat. He was using a mortar and pestle to crush some herbs. Kaylee remembered the way Bilbo had taught her to crush herbs during her cooking lessons in Rivendell. The old man looked up when he saw Sador enter, and then stood.
"Good day, Master Apothecary," Sador said. He reached into his belt pouch, pulled out the list that he had been entrusted with, and held it forth.
"Good day, Sador." He took Sador's list, and then looked curiously at the boy's companions. "I see you have brought someone with you?"
"Yes, sir. This is Miss Kaylee and her dog Lucy. Her father and mother are guests of the Steward up at the Citadel."
The old man gave a tiny bow. "I am pleased to meet you, Miss Kaylee." She smiled up at him. He then turned his attention to the list, and began going about the room, gathering up what was needed, taking some herbs from here and there and placing them in tiny linen drawstring bags. He sat down once more and looked at the bags, and then tied cords of different colours around each of the bags, before handing them to Sador to put in his pouch.
Sador took back the list, which the apothecary had carefully ticked off, and added it back to his pouch as well. "Thank you, Master Apothecary. We must be getting back to the Houses of Healing now."
"One moment, Sador." The old man picked up a jar filled with little round, brown balls. Removing its top, he held the jar out to the two children.
Sador grinned. "Horehound drops! Thank you!" He reached in and took two, handing one to Kaylee. She looked up, and seeing her friend pop his into his mouth, she put hers in her mouth as well. Her eyes lit up with pleasure. "Ooh! It tastes kind of like liquorice!" It was a hard candy, and she knew she would have to suck on it and let it melt in her mouth.
Both children were in a better mood as they left the shop. The candy was a rare treat. They started to retrace their steps back to the citadel, when a man in a hurry pushed between them. Kaylee landed on her hands and knees on the cobbles, and Lucy began to bark.
Kaylee had started to cry, for her knees and hands were scraped by the rough stones. Sador was helping her up when a loud racket alerted him: a cart was racing down the street. He gave Kaylee a shove in the other direction, but the back of his heel caught on the street, and he went backwards, wildly waving his arms in an attempt to recover his balance. The cart rushed past, clipping him with one wheel. Down he went, and Kaylee began screaming. Lucy kept barking, and soon a crowd of concerned people were gathering around. Suddenly, Lucy darted back to where the apothecary was, and went in barking and whimpering, until the alarmed old man followed her out and led her to where the crowd had gathered.
A young woman had knelt beside Sador. "He lives, but he has hurt his head. Does anyone know who he is?"
The apothecary nodded. "His name is Sador. He is one of the errand lads from the Houses of Healing and the Citadel. And the little girl is a guest of the Steward." He turned to a young man, who had been with the young woman. "Carry him into my shop, that we may get off the street." He turned to another man. "Go fetch a member of the Watch. We need to send word up to the Citadel about this!"
The young man picked up Sador, and the young woman picked up Kaylee, and the two followed them back into the shop.
Kaylee kept on weeping into the shoulder of the young woman who carried her. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" she repeated, over and over.
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