9. The Crossing
Middle Earth, Bruinen Watershed, Third Age, fall 2861,
Eleiann emerged cautiously from the small cave first, bow and arrow nocked at the ready. Looking about she could not recognize anything. The small bridge was no longer there though a small stream still ran merrily burbling in the same location. The forest was far denser then she remembered and the undergrowth was full of unfamiliar brush and wild flowers. Her cousin tried to peer past her, eager to see what lay beyond.
“Eli, did we make it? Are we in Middle Earth?” Owen asked eagerly.
“I don’t know, but this ain’t Kansas anymore, Toto, that’s for sure.”
Ted winced at her attempt at levity and emerged closely behind her. All three moved swiftly to a small fall of rocks just beyond the cave entrance taking shelter behind them. They continued to scan the clearing that stretched out before them for nearly a hundred feet.
It was early fall here and there was a nip in the air foreshadowing the coming winter. Trees in the higher elevations above them were already starting to put on their fall colors and lower shrubs and bushes were beginning to drop their leaves leaving berries and seedpods visible to hungry eyes. Above in the sky occasional groups of birds were swirling and dipping to give their young ones the opportunity to gain strength and others practising group formation flying before the winter exodus to warmer lands. There was the occasional grunt or bellow far off of unrecognized wild life and small animals could be heard skittering around as they went about the business of gathering the last of their winter stores.
For more then an hour they remained hidden watching and listening to the sights and sounds of this new place.
“Everything seems normal enough.” Ted whispered.
“I don’t know what that would mean for here.” She murmured
in return, “but I think we can talk normally now.”
Eli stood and stepped out into the clearing. Moving over to the stream she knelt and scooped up a handful of water pleased to find it cold and sweet. Waving her uncle over he followed then frowned when he saw her drink from the stream.
“Is that wise, Eli? You don’t know what is in it.”
Eli laughed. “I don’t think you need worry about the usual stuff. For one thing it is straight off the mountain, and there is no sign of any hikers or tourists like back home. If this is Middle Earth we are going to have to risk it because there will be nothing else available.”
“You are right. I had not thought about that. I am glad, though, that Amanda insisted on all those shots before we left.” He rubbed his arm absently as he turned back towards the cave. “I guess we better get our gear out of there. I would hate to have it all disappear if that cave really is some kind of time bridge between worlds.”
Eli nodded and followed him back into the cave where their packs and supplies waited. “Owen, keep watch!”
He nodded and resumed a watchful stance over near the rock fall.
Although they had packed only those things they would need for immediate use there was still quite a load. They had prepared for several possibilities not knowing what kind of weather or terrain they would face if they were successful in making the jump to Middle Earth. Now that they knew what time of year and the kind of landscape they faced, they would be able to dispense with some it.
* * * * * *
“I suppose we should set up a camp, Uncle Ted, but I don’t know where.”
“Let’s take a quick look around and see if we can find a more sheltered spot where we are less likely to attract attention. Once we are set up then we can really get our stuff organized and then figure out where we are and which direction to take to find Imladris.”
Eleiann nodded and after stacking their gear behind the rock fall they cautiously began a reconnaissance of the immediate area. They were surprised to find a rough trail about two hundred yards beyond their clearing that ran from southwest to north east.
“Animal trail?” Owen asked in hushed tones.
“Don’t think so,” his father replied in kind. ”It looks like a path travelled by humans.”
“Or elves,” added Eleiann softly.
Ted grinned in agreement. “There are foot prints there so I think it more likely it was last travelled by men. If it had been elves we would not see prints. Tolkien said they could traverse a meadow or woodland without bending a blade of grass.”
“Well it looks like where we emerged from is a known camping site. That would explain why Elrond would have known about the cave and used it when he got lost during the storm. It would also mean that Imladris must be within a day or two of travel.” Eleiann turned back towards the clearing.
“Do you think it is safe to use it?” Owen looked apprehensive.
Ted looked at his son and laughed softly. “We have few choices, my lad. If this is an known elven site it is less likely that we will be found by any but the elves.”
“Might they not be too happy to find strangers suddenly appearing in their midst, Pop?”
“He is right, Uncle Ted. If you are correct about our location then we have suddenly appeared within the boundaries of Imladris and any of their patrols are likely to be suspicious and concerned about our apparent ability to evade their notice.”
Ted stopped and looked at them thoughtfully. “You are right to be concerned. We are going to find that our lives have been completely changed. We can no longer take our safety for granted. We must be on alert and suspicious of everyone and everything until we can understand and read the situation more fully.”
“Well Uncle Ted, you have more experience in the woods and you certainly know more about Middle Earth. What do you suggest we do?”
“Yeh, Pop, what do you think we should do?”
“Well there are several things we need to do right away. First let us set up camp. Eli, you have inherited sharper eyesight, hearing, and sense of smell thanks to your father so you take the watch. Owen, you and I will set up camp over near the cave. We will need to sort out those things we can take with us. Let’s keep it simple and see if we can be ready to move quickly if we need to.”
“What about the rest?”
“We may be able to hide it nearby and retrieve it later.”
A few hours later Owen approached Eli and passed a skin of water to her. “Pop says you should turn over the watch to me and check your own stuff. All quiet?”
“Thanks Owen. I have not heard or seen anything suspicious since we got here.”
“Well, we have things pretty much sorted out and ours are packed and ready to go. You had best get busy, too.” He removed his bow from his back and checked to make sure his arrows were loose within the quiver to his side.
She nodded. “I will, I guess Uncle Ted will be taking the night watch?”
“He indicated he would. Oh, he said we should start talking in elvish. It has to be our native tongue from now on.”
Eli grinned. “Hannon le, Owen.”
Ted looked up from the small campfire he had started and handed her a mug of tea as she settled down beside him. He grinned when she addressed him in elvish. ”I see you got the word.”
She chuckled in turn. “I did, and it is a wise move. I will miss English, but now this is to be our home, we have to do our best to adjust.”
They sat in comfortable for a while then Eli sighed and rose. ”I will start getting my things ready. When I am finished, I will help you move the remainder over to where we can hide it.”
As they work in silence Eli was glad to see that there was little that was wasted. “It looks like we planned pretty well. There is more food then we will probably need, but our other things look like we made the right choices.” She shook out the blankets each would carry and looked momentarily disgusted. “I am not looking to sleeping on the ground with just these.”
Ted made a face at her then said seriously. “We can make a mattress of leaves or fir branches. Actually they make a quite comfortable and aromatic base. When we make it to Imladris we should find more comfortable quarters.”
“We probably ought to come up with a cover story that is as close to the truth as possible, Uncle Ted. One that will not arouse any more suspicion then necessary.”
“I agree. It would be best if we stay as close to the truth as possible. We are travellers from a distant land. We had two reasons for coming to Imladris. The first is that I am a teacher and a scholar and after my wife died I decided the time was finally right to pursue my research on my main interest of the history of the eldar in the great library at Imladris. Owen is of course my son who chose to accompany us after the death of his mother. The second is that we are searching for your father whom we believe lived in Imladris at one time. That will lay the groundwork for us to request permission to use the library and for you to determine what affects you can expect over time as a half elf.“
“I think it best we try for the human village first where I can try to establish myself initially as a teacher and you can use simple healing methods as needed. That should give us time to check out everything without drawing any attention from the elves.”
“Sounds good. I worry though that our clothes do not show much wear. Won’t that raise some suspicion?”
“We traded for some new things a while back. We wanted to make a good impression.”
They turned as a white faced Owen was marched into the clearing by two identical beings that were clearly elves.
“Strangers must explain their presence here within the boundaries of Imladris. Who are you and how did you pass through our patrols unnoticed?”
Eleiann rose and stared at the two. She was seeing the twin sons of Lord Elrond and if her mother had been right her half brothers.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.