M.E. Chapter 39: The Southern Gate

The next morning we woke early, to our disgust. No one had even woken us up; we were so used to getting up early, that we did on our own. Even the hobbits had slept in longer than us!

Katy and I spoke quietly to each other, sending occasional nervous glances about us. Although we did not expect Stacey to be up this early, we were not about to discount that possibility.

Last night we had finally lost her. We outran her, seeing as how we had lots of practice recently and she had spent all her time on horses. After we had gotten a good deal of distance we had doubled back on ourselves by another routeÖ And promptly gotten lost. It wasnít too much later before an elf who had been sent to find us, led us back to the pavilion we were to stay in with the Fellowship.

It was not yet decided what was to be done with us now; Aragorn had been too tired to speak with the lady the night before. We took this opportunity to discuss our plans while the others slept.

"We should go with the Fellowship," I told Katy, "After all, Iíve always liked to finish what I started."

Katy gave me a skeptical look, "How do you propose we do that? Swim? It isnít like we can follow on foot."

"No, but we can boatÖ" I began.

"Thatís ridiculous! Donít you think the Lothlorien elves would notice if we took one of their boats?" Katy whispered, though for her it was nearly shouting.

"It isnít ridiculous!" I cried indignantly.

"Yes it is. And besides, theyíll probably keep a better eye on us this time." Katy sighed.

"You just want to stay here and sit around all day!" I accused her.

"So? Look at me! Iím awake at, what, six in the morning!?" She exclaimed, "I didnít even need an alarm clock!"

"Well, Iím sure we got to sleep by eleven last nightÖ" I explained, "Otherwise we may have gotten up earlierÖ"

"Iím not supposed to get up this early!" Katy retorted, "Itís unnatural."

I shrugged, "Whatever. Hey want to find some breakfast?" I asked.

Katy looked at me suspiciously, "This isnít going to end up leading us to the armory, is it?" She asked.

I smirked, "I donít even know where it is! How would I be able to find it on purpose?"

Katy rolled her eyes, "Alright, fine. Letís go get breakfast. But Iím only going with you because Iím hungry. Iím leaving the minute you get near any weapons of war!"

I smiled, "Okay, letís go!" I started off, Katy following me.

We had been walking for over an hour now, Iím sure. Haldir had been right, this was a huge city. My stomach growled again. "Katy, Iím hungry!" I complained.

"Hey, thatís my line!" Katy said indignantly, "Rachel, Iím hungry!"

I rolled my eyes, "Maybe that plant is edible." I said, pointing to a vine with suspiciously red berries on it, "Why donít you check?"

"Oh, very funny." Katy said, although her tone seemed to imply differently, "Poison the hobbit, why donít you."

"Iíll bet you they arenít poisonous." I told her, a smirk growing on my face.

"And Iíll bet you they are!" Katy countered.

"Okay, youíre on. So try it." I told her.

"No! Youíre the one who thinks itís not poisonous! You try it!" Katy exclaimed.

"Youíre just afraid, arenít you!" I accused her.

"Ö You are too!" She told me.

"Oh yeah?" I asked, "Just watch!" I proceeded to pluck one of the impossibly red berries from the vine.

I immediately spit it out, coughing up the tiny bit I had accidentally swallowed. "Thatís why Iím not a ranger." I told Katy proceeding to dig into my pocket. I handed her the stone and out of curiosity continued digging through my pocketís contents.

Katy sighed and we continued searching. A smile spread across my face as I pulled my hand out of my pocket victoriously, clutching a small plastic bag.

"Animal Crackers!" I cried, "I had forgotten I had these!"

We then tore open the bag and proceeded to ravage the elephants and tigers held within. After we had eaten a few we began to notice they had a strange taste.

"Rachel, how long have these been in your pocket?" Katy asked looking doubtfully at the small pieces she still held.

I looked at the package and frowned, "I donít know, the expiration date says 4/11/02. They should be good." I told her.

Katy paled, "Rachel, 2002 was last year." She reminded me.

I started laughing, "Oh yeah, it was, wasnít it?" I asked, "How come none of our teachers told me that when I kept on writing í02 on my papers?"

Katy rolled her eyes, "Well, letís continue on thenÖ Iím never going to trust food from your pockets again." She decided.

I shrugged and finished off the animal crackers.

We never found the dining hall. Lucky for us it was only an hour or two later before we ran into Haldir and a small group of elves.

"Haldir!" Katy cried running up to hug him, changing her mind not to only moments before she reached him.

"Haldir!" I cried running up to hug him, changing my mind not to hug him only moments before Katy reached him.

"Katy! Rachel!" Haldir cried running up to hug us, changing his mind not to hug us only moments before we all reached each other.

"Um, hello." He said looking down at the two of us, trying to ignore his friendís laughter, "I believe lady Galadriel and Aragorn were looking for you."

"Can you show us where the armory is?" I asked.

Katy spoke up before he got a chance to reply though, "Actually we were looking for a dining hall." She told him.

Haldir laughed, "Then how did you wind up near the Southern Gate?" He asked.

"Weíre not near the southern gate." I told him, "Thatís where we came in and Iíd recognize it."

Haldir pointed behind me, "Recognize that?" He asked.

I smiled sheepishly, "Oh look Katy, the southern gate." I said.

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