I quickly darted behind another tree, hiding myself from view behind it. Peeking carefully around the thick trunk and seeing nothing, I silently motioned for the others to follow.
Katy darted over next, bending over so she was low to the ground and thus out of sight. I grinned as she perfectly performed a very sneaky looking roll behind the tree.
"Lady Rachel," Aragorn started once he, Legolas, and Gimli had joined us.
"Sh! Keep your voice down!" I quickly reprimanded the ranger.
Aragorn sighed but lowered his voice to a whisper, "It is true, Rachel, that lord Celeborn warned us of this forest being dangerous, but don’t you think all this sneaking is kind of… Overkill?"
I put on a thoughtful expression as I silently mulled over Aragorn’s logic. I shrugged, "It might be." I admitted, "But it sure is fun!"
Aragorn rolled his eyes and the three hunters left the secrecy of the trees to walk less conspicuously through the forest. Katy and I shrugged and continued our sneaking.
It was only minutes later when we came upon a large rock that looked strangely like a large seat or shelf of sorts if you tilted your head to one side, squinted, hopped up and down on one foot and used a lot of your imagination.
"Let us go up and look about us!" Legolas suggested, "I still feel my breath short. I should like to taste a freer air for a while."
"No!" I exclaimed, stopping Gimli mid-step, "We’ll be in plain sight on that clearing, they will easily spot us. Maybe we should crouch behind it for a while instead."
Gimli harrumphed, "They who?"
"Umm… They?" Thinking fast, like always, I began to ramble on about every secret police organization I had ever heard of adding a bit about the Mafia and a couple gangs of New York in for good measure. Legolas looked at me as if I had sprouted a second head. Then, shaking his head in exasperation, continued to climb the steps.
I smiled to myself and followed the others up.
Aragorn searched the ground, pointing out both Merry and Pippin’s and Treebeard’s prints (although he didn’t know they were Treebeard’s and I had no intention of helping him since he had sided with the elf and drug us up here). Katy and I immediately made for the highest part of the rock and began shoving each other out of the way so as to claim the title "king of the hill" all for ourselves.
Thus we missed the whole conversation the others were having until Gimli burst out, "Shoot first!" It was really kind of sad that we ourselves were so loud that we didn’t even notice Gimli was talking about something important until he mentioned shooting.
We turned just in time to see an old man that could only have been Gandalf or Saruman… Or one of the three other Istari, run quickly to where we all stood. Katy and I watched in poorly hid amusement (meaning had anyone cared to listen they would have heard half muffled snickers) as Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas confronted the wizard, not even realizing it was their supposedly dead friend.
Katy and I finally broke into unbridled laughter at the look on our friend’s faces as they found they were unable to use their weapons against Gandalf (we were not in similar conditions as we knew who it was and also knew he was not unfriendly). Gandalf smirked slightly but Aragorn and the others seemed to be trying very hard to ignore us.
"Might we know your name, and then hear what it is that you have to say to us?" Aragorn asked, casting us an irritated look over his shoulder as we calmed down, "The morning passes and we have an errand that will not wait."
"As for what I wish to say," Gandalf replied, "I have said it: what may you been doing, and what tale can you tell of yourselves? As for my name!" He broke off laughing which, as often happens, set me and Katy off again as well.
"My name!" He started again, as the three of us calmed down once more, "Have you not guessed it already? You have heard it before, I think. Yes, you have heard it before. But come now, what of your tale?"
Nobody answered and Gandalf proceeded to amaze the others with his already vast knowledge of what we were doing here, that is, chasing down two hobbits. "Your errand, you see, is no longer as urgent as you thought. Let us sit down and be more at ease." The wizard finished.
With that, the spell binding the three hunters was removed. Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas all retrieved/readied their weapons, apparently having no intention to sit with their old friend. Katy and I, holding no such reservations, immediately strode forward to sit with Gandalf, only to be held back by Aragorn. We watched in mild amusement as Gandalf shed his gray cloak to reveal his stunning white robes.
"Saruman!" Cried Gimli, rushing forward with his axe.
I rolled my eyes, but made no move to stop him as he began an angry rant concerning the hobbits. The following movements were all too fast for me to catch even though I tried. The end result, however was an axe and sword laying thrown away on the ground and a stunned elf recovering quickly from surprise at his disappearing arrow.
"Mithrandir!" Legolas cried, "Mithrandir!"
Gandalf was grinning again, as if he had just done something terribly clever… Which, he had. "Well met, I say to you again, Legolas!"
"Yeah, and it’s about time." I added a little too bitterly.
"Really, how long does it take you people to recognize old friends?" Katy added.
"Gandalf!" Aragorn exclaimed, as if coming out of a stupor.
"Gandalf… Yes, that was the name. I was Gandalf."
"And I’m Rachel, this is Katy, and of course Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas." I added sarcastically, "Now that we all know each other, can we please get out of here?"
"Gandalf?" Katy asked, drawing the wizard’s attention, "You wouldn’t happen to have any.. Ale, would you? You see, we’re all out and…"
I helpfully waked Katy over the head, "Of course he doesn’t have any ale, Katy! You don’t get ale for defeating monsters, you get some generic kind of money!"
"Well, I just thought, you know, he might have, well, bought some ale?" Katy murmured.
"Bought ale? What other strange ideas are you thinking? Where would anyone buy ale in a forest? That’s just silly."
Katy and I went on about the availability of ale in a forest for some time while Gandalf and the others caught up. So absorbed we were in our argument we only noticed Gandalf and the others were leaving when they were nearly out of sight. We quickly put our argument on hold and rushed after them.
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