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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 Ringsbelong 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 88: One More Time

Clack! Clack! Clack! Joey stepped back a little as Pippin came slightly forward. Joey ducked and swung his wooden practice sword and heard a solid thwack! as it impacted Pippin's armour. "Oof! Good hit!" the hobbit exclaimed. Suddenly, Pippin stood up straight and looked beyond Joey.

Joey turned around to see a grinning Boromir standing behind him. "That was quite a good stroke, Joey. Well done! But your lessons shall be put on hold for the next few days. We shall begin to strike camp this afternoon."

"We are going across the River already?" Pippin asked. Joey listened intently洋aybe he could be the first to tell Kevin and Jennifer! And hey葉hat means we値l be back with Mom and Dad very soon! He smiled at the happy prospect.

Boromir studied their faces. "It will be done in stages. Those of the wounded who still need the most care will be taken across today on the boats and barges. Once that is completed葉he rest of today, or perhaps tomorrow葉he repairs to the causeway will be finished. Then the healers and the remaining wounded will go across. Those on foot will go next, then the waggons and carts, and then those on horseback.箱 Boromir paused. 的t should take two days, if all goes right. The Coronation is scheduled for the first of Ltess, if all can be made ready in time."

Joey scrunched up his forehead. What had he been told? Ltess was the fourth or fifth month of the year. This was the fourth month, so it was April? That meant that the first of Ltess was the first of May. Okay! That meant they would have the Coronation right after they got across the River! Aragorn would finally get to be King! He grinned.

And that means Kevin and Jennifer and I will be back with our whole family that very day! he thought, fidgeting with excitement. I can稚 wait!

Boromir looked down at both of them. "Both of you need to go have your midday meal now, and then bring back to me a bit of bread and fruit. Afterward I will have several errands for both of you to run, and both of you will attend me at the evening meal with the captains and the King." For even though it was not yet official, everyone in camp already spoke of Aragorn as King.

The two did not need to be told twice. They very quickly put away their sparring gear and headed towards the cook's pavilion. Joey quickly spotted his brother and sister and darted off in their direction. Pippin shook his head with a sigh and followed his young friend at a slower pace. He heard Jennifer squeal, and saw the three of them laughing and jumping up and down, and saw Joey and Kevin slapping their hands together, in what Joey called a "high five".

"Well," he said drolly as he came up to them, "I see you must have had bad news?"

"Yes, Pippin," Kevin responded. "We always laugh like loons when we get bad news." Jennifer rolled her eyes and snorted, and Kevin smirked.

Joey just smacked the hobbit in the back of his head, the way Merry often did when Pippin was being silly. Pippin absent-mindedly rubbed the spot. "I'm used to ducking Merry. You caught me by surprise." He chuckled and said, "Have the three of you celebrated enough, or can we now go and get our luncheon?"

Once they collected their meal of ashcakes, cheese, and an orange for each (courtesy of Prince Imrahil, who had them sent in from Dol Amroth), they found a quiet spot beneath a tree, and were soon joined by Frodo and Sam.

"Where's Merry?" Pippin asked. "We have news!"

"Merry's with ノomer and ノothain right now傭ut if the news is about breaking camp, we already know. Aragorn told us," Frodo said. "Did you know we shall travel as we did, coming here? You will be driving the waggon again, Kevin, and all of us shall share it like before, but this time, Joey can sleep with us!"

"Really?" Joey asked. "Oh, wow!" But then his face fell. "But why?"

"Likely so as Mr. Boromir can do some stuff later in the evening," said Sam. "But you'll be riding with him most of the daytime." Joey nodded. That made sense.

Once they finished eating, Kevin had to report to the waggonmaster, while Jennifer was needed to begin the job of getting the patients moved, and Joey and Pippin headed back to the mess first, to fetch some food for their liege, and then to deliver it to him at the Captains' pavilion and to learn what else Boromir needed them to do.

Joey's first errand was to find the couriers who would be riding to Minas Tirith with messages for the Steward. Joey asked if he could send a quick message to his family. Boromir pointed to the camp table with some parchment and ink and a quill, and said, "Write swiftly, then, Joey, and roll it within my message. I will seal it for you."

So, Joey quickly wrote: Hi Mom and Daddy. I have to write fast so this is short. We are going to be on our way across the river by tomorrow. If Jen and Kev were here, they'd say Hi too. Say Hi to Kaylee and Megan. Love Joey. He blew on the writing, and then as soon as it dried, he rolled it up and handed it to Boromir, who smiled, rolled it up smaller to fit into his own longer and more official scroll, quickly sealed it with a gob of candle wax, and shoved it into the messenger's tube. Joey took the tube from him and raced off to find the couriers. It took him a little longer than he thought it would, as they were gathering messages from different parts of the camp, and he kept just missing them. But finally, he was able to deliver the tube and started back to find out what he had to do next.

-oo000oo-

Jennifer and Lalaith found themselves busily packing up supplies. They were counting rolls of bandages at the moment, but soon they would be sorting out the powders, tonics, tinctures, salves, herbs, and other medicines, which were going to take a good deal more time to finish, as they had to be handled carefully.

"...seven, eight, nine, ten...that's all of the jars of willow bark powder," said Lalaith.

"Check!" said Jennifer, making a check mark on her list with the little stylus she was using. It made a faint red mark of wax that could be rubbed away. Thankfully, her list had little pictures of the containers with the words underneath. She was beginning to pick up the written form of Sindarin, but still was not fluent in that language when it came to reading or writing it. Thankfully, she was more fluent in speaking Sindarin than she used to be, and it was only medical terms that she really had to know the Sindarin for anyway, although she did know a few other Sindarin words and phrases, too. She smiled. I arrived here knowing how to speak Westron, even though it doesn稚 exist back home, and I致e been learning to read and write Westron, too. But the only Sindarin words I know are medical terms.

She gazed at the next illustration in the little leatherbound book they had been given. "The next thing is the bruise balm"


"I do not see it anywhere, Jennifer."

Jennifer turned to look through the jumble of jars, bottles and little tins on the table. No, she didn't spot it, either. It was kept in short, squat glass bowls sealed with wax, and she didn't see a single one. "Well, it'll be a waste of time if we have to go and find someone now. I'll put a question mark here, and we can go on to the next thing. But we値l have to remember to ask about it when we finish." She looked at the list. "The next thing is the tincture of poppy"

They worked on the task for about another hour. They had also found themselves missing the little cough lozenges the two had helped to make a few days ago. And two things were there which looked unfamiliar. Jennifer looked all through the list, but she did not see anything that matched the small red jar, or the linen bag tied with a red-and-blue braided cord.

The two girls were wondering whether or not to open them and see what they were. Some of the medicines had to be kept sealed until they were needed, and they were uncertain what the strange containers held. Just then Mistress Adanel came up.

"Are the two of you not finished yet?" she asked, frowning.

"Oh!" Jennifer turned with a start. "Mistress, there were two things not here. There were supposed to be five jars of bruise balm and another large jar of the cough lozenges we helped make last week. And there are two items here that are not on the list." She pointed to the red jar and the little bag.

Adanel laughed. "I am sorry, the list should have been amended. The red jar contains all that was left of the bruise balm, and the bag has the remaining cough lozenges. Both items run out rather quickly, I am afraid, and of course, there is no time now to make any more."

Jennifer and Lalaith looked at one another and gave a sigh of relief. "Thank goodness!" Jennifer said. She opened up the list and used her stylus to check off both the bruise balm and the cough lozenges, and then turned the book over to Mistress Adanel.

"Very good! Now, the two of you go drink some water, for the day is warm, and I would hate to see you swooning. After that, go see if you can be of use helping to get the patients to the boats and barges."

Both girls gave a quick curtsey. "Yes, Mistress Adanel," they echoed, and scurried off to do her bidding. Nope, I sure don稚 want to get dehydrated! Jennifer thought wryly. She recalled one day at a school track-and-field meet the year before, when one of the girls had passed out. Everyone had been worried about her, and it had turned out that she was dehydrated.

-oo000oo-

As luck would have it, Kevin found himself alongside Haleth as the horses were being harnessed. The two boys were giving each horse a little grooming before hitching them to the waggons. There were far fewer waggons needed this time. Many patients were mostly recovered, and most of the rest were going off on boats. But the waggon they were preparing now (and that Kevin would be driving) was the one in which the four hobbits and his brother and sister would ride in, so the boys were taking extra-special care as they hitched up the horses.

"Are you glad you are going home?" Kevin asked his friend.

"I do not know how soon we will return to Rohan. There will be the coronation for the new King of Gondor first. And then we shall have to" He paused for a moment. "We shall have to bring Th駮den King home to Edoras." Haleth's eyes sparked with tears.

"I was so sorry he died. He was a good man, and kind, too."

Haleth nodded. "At least he died a warrior. When Wormtongue濫 He stopped and spit in the dirt after using Wormtongue's name. "謡as at his side, it seemed like he could never be a great king again! I am so thankful that Gandalf Greyhame was able to bring him back to us."

"Gandalf is amazing," Kevin said. He wished he could tell others just how great the Istar was. But that was a secret. The people of Middle-earth weren稚 supposed to know that Gandalf was an angel sent by God.

"Hullo, lads!" came a cheerful voice that Kevin recognized immediately.

"Merry!" Kevin said.

"Sir Holdwine," Haleth added with a smile, using the name that ノomer had knighted Merry with.

"Can you use a hand with these beasts?" he asked, as he affectionately stroked Bron.

"Sure," said Kevin. While they were technically working, it gave them a chance to visit with one another. "You know this is the waggon you'll be sleeping in tonight?" He grinned at the hobbit, who had clambered up on Bron's neck, the better to comb the horse's mane. Merry nodded.

"So, ノomer King cut you loose?" Kevin asked.

"Eh, I was helping ノothain count horses. The Rohirrim are obsessed with counting them. I could swear they count them every day, and twice on Highday! So, ノothain took pity on me or more likely got tired of my complaining, and told me to go away and find some way to be useful. So, here I am." He scratched the big horse between the ears. "Yes, I am," he cooed to the horse. Bron bumped his head against Merry's hand when he stopped scratching. Merry chuckled and scratched some more.

Kevin and Haleth both laughed at the hobbit's antics. Kevin said, "You are spoiling my horse. He's acting just like my Aunt Janet's cat!箱 Kevin reached over and stroked the horse on his neck. "Oooh, who's a good horsey?" Kevin cooed in a falsetto tone that came nowhere near his Aunt Janet's voice.

Haleth gaped at him and at Merry both. "And you say that we of Rohan spoil our horses!" He looked Bron seriously in the eye and patted his neck on the other side. "I offer apologies, noble Bron, for the actions of my friends!"

Bron lowered his head, shook it hard, and whickered aloud, causing all three of them to laugh. Kevin rolled his eyes and snorted. Bron replied with a snort of his own, setting the three friends off again before they got back to work.

-oo000oo-

The McClouds once more shared their devotions that evening with Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin observing, although Legolas and Gimli did not join them this time. Then Merry and Pippin sat upon the driver's seat to take the first watch, and Jennifer and Joey lay rolled up in their blankets side by side in the waggon not far from Frodo and Sam. Kevin set out his bedroll underneath the waggon and listened to the two hobbits as they smoked their pipes and spoke in low voices, wondering how soon they would all get home, and what they would do when they got there.

I wonder, will we all get home, too? Kevin furrowed his brow. At least if the Lord wants us to stay in Middle-earth, our family will be together; I mean our immediate family. Mom and Dad will be with us. Not our other relatives, though; they won稚 even know what happened to us! They値l be so worried! Lord, if we don't get home, please don't let Uncle Ryan and Aunt Janet or our grandparents grieve too much or worry themselves sick. I do still want to go home; at least I think I do. I really don稚 want to worry our relatives back home. But I sure will miss my new friends here Above him, Merry and Pippin had begun to sing a low song about the green hills of the Shire, and Kevin drifted off in the middle of his prayer.

They woke him up after the moon set, and they took their own blankets to the waggon bed and curled up on either side of Frodo and Sam like they always did, while Kevin stretched his legs by walking the perimeter of their small camp, and then took his place on the driver's seat. He realized that the hobbits had allowed him to sleep longer than half the night庸rom the sky, it looked like it was only about three hours until dawn. He watched the rest of the camp around him. Only a few yards away was the waggon and camp of some of the workers who had been overseeing the rebuilding of the causeway from Osgiliath. The orcs who had taken the island had pulled down many of the rocks and stones that had supported the causeway, but had been too lazy to carry them off, and most of them had been in the water right near where the causeway had been. It had not taken the engineers overseeing the soldiers to get the causeway restored, which was good. They had finished just today...no, yesterday now...and it was pronounced to be sound for the waggons.

Beyond that was the area where the cook's pavilion was, and the cooks and their helpers were already up, preparing a simple breakfast. Kevin was pretty sure they'd have the pavilion itself down before dawn. About five furlongs to the left was the picket line for most of Rohan's horses, and he turned, alert, hand on his sword, at the sound of them whickering and moving about. But it was all right擁t was just some of the Riders, come to feed and water the horses early. He spotted ノothain tending to his own big roan. Kevin thought it was neat the way the Rohirrim always took care of the horses first.

He glanced right, towards the Anduin. The river was quiet, for all the boats and barges had crossed before supper. Jennifer had thought she might have to go over with them to help tend some of the wounded who still were in need of care, but Mistress Adanel explained to her that the Healers and helpers from the Houses of Healing in the city would be taking them up there to finish their recovery. So, Jennifer and the other helpers had been relieved of duty, and most of the Healers had gone with the patients.

He looked left again, to the East, and realized he could see the tips of the mountains. The sky was getting lighter now. It was almost sunrise. They only had one more time to move before the coronation!





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