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The day of the summer solstice, which the Elves called the Gates of Summer, also happened to be Father’s Day that year. Families were out picnicking, the barbecues on high, the music loud and the laughter of friends and family gathering to celebrate the summer warm.
At Edhellond, the Elves were also celebrating. Amroth and Nimrodel were in the back garden entertaining their triplets, now nearly three years old, with a game involving the elflings hiding and the parents looking for them, while the others looked on indulgently, laughing at the antics. Glorfindel was busy at the fire pit preparing steak and lobster for the grownups and hot dogs for the elflings. None of their Mortal friends had been invited. This was strictly an elven affair.
Gareth, Nielluin, Gwyn and Mithrellas were there, having come up from Fairbanks the day before. Elladan, Elrohir and Serindë, however, were still back East with the Twins finishing up their surgical studies.
When the attack began, their only warning was a sudden appearance by Fionwë in full battle regalia, his sword of light unsheathed. Everyone gaped in shock at the sight, but the Maia gave them no time to demand questions.
“You must go, immediately,” he said. “Wiseman is about to be attacked.”
“Attacked by whom?” Glorfindel demanded, glancing up at the clear blue sky as if in search of enemy planes.
“You must go,” Fionwë urged them. “Your lives are forfeit if you remain here. Split up, go in separate vehicles and in different directions.”
“And then what?” Finrod asked. “And what of the Mortals? Are they not in danger as well?”
“They are not the object of the attack,” the Maia assured them. “I have given you my warning. Go or stay. The choice is yours.” With that he faded away.
The Elves stared at one another for a moment and then Glorfindel began dousing the fire even as he was issuing orders. “We knew this day was coming,” he said, not looking at anyone in particular. “We’ve prepared for it. Go! Gather your things. You all know what to do.”
“Yet, where do we meet up?” Barahir asked.
“Where the Enemy least expects us to go,” Gwyn answered before Glorfindel could.
Everyone stared at him, even Glorfindel, who gave the younger ellon a searching look. “You have a suggestion?”
“Yes, but it would be unwise to speak of it aloud,” came the surprising answer. “This is something Gareth and I have thought about for some time, trying to come up with contingency plans just in case. Look, go get ready to leave. I’ll send you the information. It will not be easy to get there from here, and in fact it can take a couple of weeks, longer if you’re going out of your way to avoid being tracked.”
“I do not like the idea of running away and leaving our Mortal friends behind,” Finrod said. “Whatever Fionwë says, they are in as much danger as we.”
“But we hold the key,” Gareth said, “so the Enemy will be concentrating its efforts on us.”
“Key? What key?” Amroth demanded as he held one of the triplets in his arms, while Nimrodel carried the other two.
“I will explain, but only when we meet up again,” Gwyn answered. “For now, I don’t think we should waste any more time gabbing. Gareth, Nell, Misty, get your things. We’re leaving. We need to get to Fairbanks. I’ll send you the information, Loren, and you can pass it on.” And before Glorfindel or anyone else could protest, the four were gone.
Glorfindel stood for a moment and then nodded. “Go,” he ordered and he followed words with action by heading for the house and others followed or went around to the front to where their cars were and drove off to their own homes to pack.
It took half an hour for them to get organized, deciding who was going in which vehicle. There was only the one road out of Wiseman but they agreed to reach it from different directions.
“Wish we knew where we were going,” Cennanion groused.
It was Alphwen who replied, giving her husband a brittle smile. “Well, once we are on the James Dalton Highway, there aren’t that many directions we can choose from, either north to Deadhorse, which would be something of a dead end or south to Fairbanks and beyond. That seems to be our best bet.”
“Let’s plan to meet up at the Arctic Circle,” Glorfindel told them. “Once we hear from Gwyn we can decide the best way for us to get to wherever we’re headed. I think we should plan to take separate routes to keep the Enemy guessing. We’ll keep in touch via texting, but keep it to a minimum. We don’t want the Enemy to be able to track us too easily. Good luck.”
One by one, the various vehicles left Edhellond, some turning left and others right. Glorfindel’s group, which consisted of himself, Daeron and his wife, Melyanna, Finrod, Amarië, Valandur, Vardamir, Elrond and Celebrían, was the last to leave. Daeron locked the front door as the others piled into the van along with their luggage, and then he was taking the front passenger seat as Glorfindel started the engine and headed out of the drive, turning right and driving down Sycamore, though he bypassed Kodiak to pick up Morningside, meaning to reach the access road in a roundabout manner.
They were three or four blocks away when there was an explosion somewhere behind them and the earth shifted underneath them. Glorfindel struggled to keep the van on the road even as everyone exclaimed in shock.
“What was that?” Celebrían asked fearfully as she clung to Elrond.
Glorfindel looked up into the rearview mirror and grimaced. “Edhellond,” he replied as he continued driving out of Wiseman, remembering another Summer Solstice day when he fled Gondolin and met his death.
They had passed Coldfoot when Glorfindel’s phone rang. It was sitting on the dash in its own holder. He reached over to turn it on and put it on speakerphone. “DelaFiore,” he said, never taking his eyes off the road.
“Loren!” they all heard Alex Grant’s voice sounding frantic. “Where the hell are you? Where is everyone? Edhellond is nothing but a shell! Are you guys alright?”
“We’re fine and heading south toward Fairbanks,” Glorfindel answered. “We’re all safe. What about you guys?”
“We’re fine, but Olórin showed up and warned us that we should leave Wiseman as soon as possible. Felicity’s packing and I spoke to Derek. I’m picking him up at the resort. Where are you headed?”
“We’re not sure yet,” Glorfindel replied. “Gwyn said he would send us the information. He and Gareth apparently have been planning for this eventuality. He says we’re the key.”
“No, Loren,” Daeron corrected him, “Gwyn said we hold the key, but he did not say what the key was.”
“Whatever,” Glorfindel said dismissively. “Anyway, he and Gareth and the ellith left first, so they’ll get home before we get to Fairbanks, I imagine.”
“So, all the Elves have left Wiseman and are heading down to Fairbanks?” Alex asked. “Isn’t that a bit obvious?”
“Maybe, but we’ve little choice,” Glorfindel started to say and then they heard Alex seemingly interrupt him, though his voice was faint as he apparently moved the phone away from his mouth to speak to someone else, “No. Leave those, my love. We don’t have room. Better fish out the camping gear.” Then he sounded louder. “Sorry, you were saying?”
“Gwyn will send me the information about where we should meet up. He warned us that it could take us a couple of weeks of hard traveling to get to where he wants us to go, so take a cooler with you and plan to be camping out a lot.”
“Do you want us to meet up with you somewhere and we can drive together?” Alex asked.
“We’re all planning to stop at the Arctic Circle and wait for Gwyn to contact me. So if you want to meet us there?”
“Okay. Thanks. See you in a few hours.” And the call was abruptly ended. Glorfindel turned off the phone and they all remained silent for a time as they continued to barrel down the road.
The Arctic Circle was devoid of tourists, which was odd, because there were usually busloads of them all snapping photos of each other before the sign marking the Circle and getting their certificates of proof. The Summer Solstice was a popular time for tourists out of Fairbanks, but as the Elves drove up, they noticed no other vehicles, not even the ubiquitous trucks on their way to and from Deadhorse.
Amroth and his family were already there, along with Vorondur, Ercassë and their two sons, having left before everyone else. Others were pulling in or were on their way. Glorfindel parked the van and everyone got out. It was now nearly midnight and the sun was just setting, but it would be rising again in only a few hours. Amroth stood outside his SUV while Nimrodel remained inside, watching over the triplets, all three fast asleep. Vorondur was standing with him as Glorfindel sauntered over, his phone in his hand, with Finrod, Daeron, Valandur and Vardamir.
“It may be a while before we hear from Gwyn,” Glorfindel said without preamble. “They’re only, what, about an hour ahead of us? It’ll be another few hours before they get home.”
Amroth shrugged. “We can set up camp if we need to,” he said philosophically.
“I got a call from Alex while we were driving,” Glorfindel said. “Olórin showed up and warned him and Felicity to get out of Dodge pronto. They’re picking up Derek at Bettles and meeting us here.”
“Have you heard from anyone else?” Vorondur asked.
“No, and that disturbs me,” Glorfindel admitted. “Fionwë shows up out of the blue, literally, tells us to leave immediately, assures us that our Mortal friends are not in danger, and then goes. In the meantime, well after all of us have left Wiseman, Olórin appears to Alex, tells him to leave and then, what?”
“It is… disturbing,” Finrod allowed, looking pensive. “And we hold the key, Gwyn said. How does he know this? He has never mentioned this key ever to anyone, yet, he immediately comes up with it as we are debating whether to obey Fionwë or not.”
Daeron looked as if he wished to comment, when Glorfindel’s phone beeped, informing him of an incoming text. “That can’t be Gwyn already,” he said even as he opened the phone and checked the text. He stared at it for the longest time.
“Well, who is it from and what does he say?” Amroth demanded.
“You have your phone?” Glorfindel asked, ignoring Amroth’s question.
For an answer, Amroth pulled his phone out of a pocket. Glorfindel nodded. “Check these coordinates: forty-four point thirty-three degrees north by seventy-three point thirteen degrees west.”
It took Amroth a couple of minutes to plug in the numbers. He stared at the screen for a moment before showing it to Glorfindel.
“You have got to be kidding me!” the balrog-slayer exclaimed. “There? Why?”
Vorondur grabbed Amroth’s hand and brought it close so he could see the screen. He looked nonplused. “It does seem odd. Are you sure it’s from Gwyn?”
“Yeah, it is,” Glorfindel assured them.
“He couldn’t have reached Fairbanks already though,” Daeron commented. “It could be a trick of the Enemy.”
They all looked grave at that. “I’ll text Gwyn back for confirmation,” he said, but even as he was about to text, the phone beeped again and he got another message, which he read aloud, “Texted the Twins. They’ll meet us there. Gwyn.”
“Looks as if it’s legit,” Vorondur said somewhat doubtfully.
Before anyone else could answer, Alex and Derek showed up with a visibly pregnant Felicity. “Hey! What’s the deal?” Alex demanded as the three Mortals joined them.
For an answer, Glorfindel showed him his phone with the GPS coordinates. “This is where we’re going. Copy this and set your GPS to it. Get there anyway you can.”
“So where is this place?” Felicity asked.
Glorfindel told them and there were shocked looks on all their faces. Then Alex nodded even as he was pulling out his phone and entering the coordinates. “Any particular place we should meet up?”
“Yes,” Amroth answered. “Four-seven-five-four Owl Fly Way. It’s in Wilmington, about twenty miles north.”
“And what’s there?” Derek asked.
Amroth smiled tightly. “You’ll see when you get there.”
“Okay, listen up, everybody,” Glorfindel called out and soon all the Elves were congregated around him. “Here are the GPS coordinates of our final destination.” He rattled off the numbers which people entered into their phones. “Make your way out of Alaska any way you can. When you get there, check into a hotel. There are loads of them as it’s a resort area. Wait for my call. Dan and Roy are headed there now and can get there in a single day. I’ll send them a text to let us know where they end up. Everyone clear on this?”
“Would it not seem odd for all of us to go there though?” Prince Legolas asked. “Should we not scatter to different places and wait?”
“He has a point, Loren,” Daeron said. “Look, why don’t we do this? Once you get out of Alaska, head for one of the larger cities in the lower forty-eight or Canada. You all have your passports, so you should be okay there. Once you reach a place, let us know and then after we’ve met up with Gwyn again and found out what this is all about, we’ll contact you and we can go from there.”
Glorfindel nodded in agreement. “That should work. Okay, everyone set?”
“We’re following you,” Alex said to Glorfindel.
“That could be dangerous,” Vorondur suggested.
Alex shook his head, looking grave. “No. I have the feeling that we need to be with you.” Then he paused and gave them a lopsided grin. “Besides, being next to Glorfindel is probably the safest place to be.”
“We’ll see about that,” Glorfindel retorted with a snort. “Right. Let’s get going. We’re wasting daylight.”
“Which is odd because the sun has set and it’s night,” Derek said laconically as he, Alex and Felicity headed back to their car.
“But only for another couple of hours and then it’ll be light again,” Alex pointed out.
“So which direction are we going?” Daeron asked Glorfindel as they, too, headed for their vehicle.
“East,” came the answer, “but we’ll need to get well past Fairbanks before we can pick up the road that will take us into Canada.”
“How long do you think it will take us to reach our destination?” Finrod asked as they climbed into the van.
“As long as it takes,” Glorfindel replied and then he was pulling out with everyone else following him down the James Dalton Highway toward Fairbanks… and beyond.
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