Blessed in Middle Earth: Chapter Three - If you have one true friend you are blessed if you have two you have a treasure beyond mere mortals

Chapter 3

*Disclaimer*: This of course is fan-fiction, and I make no effort to say that the basis for this story is an original thought by yours truly, but based on the incredible works of J.R.R. Tolkien. I've decided to write less of a "The tenth companion" sort of story but more of a separate branch taking place at the same time. Please note that the main character Emily is based on me (with a few embellishments of course) and that my name is Emily too (what a coincidence). Sarah and Simone are real people too. Ok this was more of a disclaimer/ forward mixed together I apologize, but ... Ahem ... Please read on and discover the writings of The_Greenwood_Elf*
P.S. Legolas will make few if any entrances into this story. Sorry guys!

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Lists of possible explanations ran through Emily's head, each more far fetched than the last. She had managed to wake both Simone and Sarah and successfully group everyone beneath the tree she had slept under.

<< "Look this is really starting to freak me out. Em, why are we out here?" >>

Sarah asked, but when the only answer she got was silence she realized Emily didn't know any more than she did. They sat with downcast eyes for what mentally felt like hours but in the physical world were only minutes.

"I don't know where we are," said Emily. "But I've got this funny feeling... I don't know, it might just be me, but the air is different here, so I'm guessing we're in the country somewhere, and have you noticed our clothes?" Obediently everybody looked down at themselves. Where there should have been tank tops and PJ bottoms they discovered travelers' dresses, warm leggings and leather tunics. They also found they had haversacks with simple rations of food they had never seen before but that smelled wholesome. They also found three bedrolls, winter cloaks, three water skins, flint and tinder (which Emily had to explain to the other two who had never been camping), and much to there surprise (and distress as they were burdensome) a camp pot and frypan. In Emily's bag she found her suede pouch with her three stones.

"Ok this is really sick idea, but who changed us into these?" said Simone gesturing to her clothes. "Are we kidnapped? What if it was a man? Oh this is really freaky."

"I don't think we've been kidnapped, I would have remembered that." said Emily firmly. "No I don't think any person brought us here, so much as...." she trailed off.

"What?" Simon and Sarah chorused as one.

"You see this, thing, happened last night when you two were asleep." confessed Emily. "I was looking at the stars and holding the stones. You know, the ones I got in London."

"You mean from that weird pan-handler, who wouldn't leave you alone?" asked Sarah.

"The one who knew your name? That was creepy" added Simone.

"Yes," said Emily. "From him but I think there's more to it than him just knowing my name. Last night, when I was sitting in the window a weird sensation came over me. I know you guys probably don't care, but there are three major stones in the Lord of the rings,"

"Oh come on Em you don't think," interrupted Simone.

"Yes I do." Emily cut back in. "My three stones are the same ones as in the story: Narya, Nenya and Vilya. But that's not all they seemed alive." continued Emily. Simone and Sarah sat in complete silence. "And then I started to chant ... in elvish, Quenya I think. Any way can't remember all of it, because it just sort of happened, I didn't mean to. I think I asked to come to Middle Earth." she expected to have her friend laugh and tell she was crazy. In stead they were deadly serious.

"Here's how I see it," said Sarah. "We're stuck out here in a forest, no idea where we are or how we got here. Em seems to think we're in Middle Earth, which I'm not ruling out at the moment, that's how confused I am. As I see it our best course of action would be to try and find some sort of habitation and ask them where we are. Now whether or not we're in Middle Earth I'll decide later, but I vote Em as leader. If it is Middle Earth she's our best bet. If it isn't, well Em's still got her keen sense of direction."

"Keen sense of what?" Emily said incredulously.

"Don't be so modest." said Simone. "Remember that orienteering class we had in PE? Em you aced it! Come on. How hard can it be?"

"I'm very flattered you all chose me, and I accept, but orienteering around Salisbury country side and orienteering in a dense, unknown, freaky forest, which could be in a different world, are completely different. What I mean to say is that I could use all the help I can get." It was settled Emily was to be their leader.

Emily thought it would be best if they could get their bearings and as the forest canopy was too dense to see through, they were forced to climb. Emily volunteered to climb up a nearby oak, but she was overruled. Simone the lightest of the three clambered up the trunk using the tree's natural tilt to her advantage.

"What do you see?" called Emily from the ground.

"The forest is huge, but we're on the very," Simone paused and they heard her mumble Never Eat Shredded Wheat1, then she continued, "eastern edge of it. It thins out as it falls away into some rapids, then picks up, slightly denser, on the far side. There are valleys after that I think, and then oh my God the mountains are huge!"
"What?" cried Sarah. "I didn't catch the last part."
"The mountains," Simone yelled back, "They're huge!"

"There aren't any mountains in England" Sarah said half to the girls half to herself. "Are we out of the country?"

"Can you see three distinct peaks?" Emily asked

"Yes, quite clearly. It's all hazy-blue below but three white triangles really stand out. Why?"

"Just trying to get some land marks." said Emily with a hint of excitement in her voice.

The trio traveled east all afternoon. In the beginning when the forest was still thick, Simone had to pop up a tree to be careful that the girls didn't veer off course. At midday Simone was scratched and footsore even more so than the other two. A life of comfort and regulated, "safe" exercise had left the girls severely inadequate for such an expedition.

They stopped for a brief meal at around two-ish for all Emily could tell (their watches had fallen off... or been taken). Their journey after was much less strenuous as the trees were spread apart sufficiently to allow for easier navigation. They neither saw nor heard anyone else all day bar a few bird calls and the occasional hare.

The girls reached the rapids, a ford as Emily called it, by early evening. They decided to set up camp on the western shore and cross in the morning when the light was better.

Bedrolls were unrolled, and Sarah managed to find a good supply of dry wood from a pine scree a little further down the bank. By nightfall they had a merry fire and some salted meat sizzling in the camp fry-pan.

"Mmm, I never thought I'd see the day when I would look forward to hunk of fatty meat for supper. We must've walked 50 miles." said Simone

"Buck up Mun. It was really only close to 15." said Emily. Then with a new glint in her eye she continued. "Listen, I've been thinking. The scenery you described the morning, Mun, sounded an awful lot like we were looking east from the Tollshaws toward the Misty Mountains. When you told me about the ford, the valleys and the three peaks, that cinched it. Well at least for me anyway. Guys, I know how crazy it sounds, but we're in Middle Earth!"

"Ok, Em, we love you. You know that right?" asked Simone

"Yes" said Emily

"And that we trust you, and respect you and," she continued
"Yes, I know. What?" interrupted Emily

"Well I just know I'm not going to believe we're in," she paused, "that we're inside a book until I have some hard evidence." Emily looked hurt. She turned to Sarah.

"What do you think Sarah? You weren't completely sure this morning."

"Em, I'd have t' say that I'm with Simone on this one."

"Well," there was a long pause. " I can't blame you for having your own opinions, It's just, this sounds corny, but this is like a dream come true, and I had hoped that you guys would be enjoying it as much as I am." at this Emily looked around at the dirty, scratched, tired and scared faces of her friends and She broke down. Great racking sobs took her. "I'm so sorry... I'm ... I've, I've just got you all in this, this nightmare, it's not a dream, and we're lost and, and scared... and, Oh I'm just, so sorry ... n- now." Simone and Sarah moved their blankets and bedrolls closer.

"Group hug!" shouted Sarah, and the three friends embraced so tightly that Emily couldn't help but laugh.

"Oh Em, this isn't anyone's fault. Don't be sorry. Besides I could use a little more of the outdoors!" said Simone. Emily knew that was a lie but she kept hugging, grateful that her friends were being brave for her.

"And we're not lost either." Sarah chimed in. "Didn't you say you thought you knew where we were? You'll get us out of here I know you will Em! And if it is Middle earth all the better because we'll have the best darn guide ever!"

"Thank you." was all Emily could say.

And with that the girls brought their blankets closer against them and fell asleep. The fire smoldered in the makeshift pit. Emily was the last to close her eyes, but there was one pair, in the woods that was fixed on the trio, that didn't close all night.

1. Never eat Shredded Wheat, is a rhyme I (and apparently Simone) use to remember the order of the points on the compass.

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