|About Us News Resources Login Become a member Help Search|
1: Into the Mountains
“So this is Saranac Lake,” Daeron said, looking out the window.
“According to the GPS,” Glorfindel said with a smile.
“It is warm here,” Finrod complained. “I thought mountains were supposed to be cool.”
“You’re just used to the climate in Alaska, Finrod,” Glorfindel said as he drove along Route 3, coming into the downtown district of Saranac Lake, New York, situated in the High Peaks district of the Adirondacks. “It can get very hot here in the summer, but it’s not that hot, only about eighty-six right now. There’s River Street up ahead.”
“Turn left… turn left…” the GPS voice warned them.
“I really hate that voice,” Glorfindel muttered as he followed the directions, turning onto Main Street, passing the Town Hall, an imposing brick building on their left, wending his way up the hill through the village, forced to slow to a crawl because of the traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian.
“Why is it so crowded?” Celebrían asked in surprise. “This is not a very large place.”
“It’s a resort town, my dear,” Daeron answered. “And it caters to all seasons. This place is probably crowded even in winter. We’re not far from Lake Placid which was the site of the winter Olympics twice. This is a popular area for skiing during the winter.”
“Continue straight… continue straight,” the GPS voice sang as they came to where Main Street branched off to the right and they headed down the hill onto Broadway Street, crossing a little bridge that spanned the Saranac River, which flowed through the village. The street curved to the right before rising again.
“There’s the Left Bank Café,” Daeron pointed to his right, indicating a restaurant. “So the Grant Building should be… there!” He pointed to his left. “Right next to the post office, just like Dan said.”
“Is Alex still behind us?” Glorfindel asked as he turned into the parking lot of the Grant apartment building and found an empty spot to park.
Vardamir, who was in the back, looked behind him. “Yes, he’s a couple of cars behind, but I see him.”
“Well, let’s go,” Glorfindel said as he turned off the van and opened the door. The others piled out of the van as well. Even as Valandur was straightening and closing the side door, Alex pulled in and found his own spot to park and then he was leaping out and running to the other side in time to help Felicity out of the car as Derek climbed out of the back. Almost at once Elrond and Celebrían made a bee-line toward the Mortals with Elrond placing a hand on Felicity’s bump to monitor her.
“How are you doing, my dear?” he asked solicitously. “The journey has not been too strenuous for you and the baby?”
“We’re fine, Elrond,” Alex said somewhat testily before his wife could answer. “The baby’s fine, Felicity’s fine. We’re all fine. Now back off, please.”
“We are just concerned for our grandson,” Elrond said with a huff.
“And we appreciate your concern,” Felicity said with a conciliatory smile, “but I promise that all is well. You don’t have to hover. Alex does that enough for all of us.”
“I do not,” Alex protested half-heartedly, knowing the truth of her words. “C’mon, let’s get you inside.” He looked about, automatically gauging all the potential danger points, eyeing passing cars and pedestrians with suspicion. Felicity just smiled knowingly at her husband and gave him a peck on the cheek. He smiled and gave her a hug and a kiss while Derek, Elrond and Celebrían looked on indulgently.
“We can go in this way,” Glorfindel said and they all followed him to a covered entrance and found themselves in a pleasant hallway with stairs immediately before them. “They’re on the third floor.” Glorfindel looked at Felicity. “Do you think you can make it?”
“I’m pregnant, Loren, not dead,” Felicity said with amusement. “It’ll just take me longer, is all.”
“You guys go on ahead and we’ll take our time,” Alex said, putting a protective arm around his wife.
Glorfindel nodded and quickly headed up the stairs with the others following, all but Vardamir, who lagged behind.
“You don’t need to stick around, Mir,” Alex said. “If Felicity gets into trouble we’ll holler.”
“I am not concerned about that,” Vardamir said as the four climbed the stairs, sticking to a pace that Felicity could handle. “I simply have no desire to rush up three flights of stairs.”
“Yeah, right,” Derek said with a sneer. “Getting old, are we?”
Both Alex and Felicity sniggered while Vardamir, who was a couple of steps ahead of them looked back and gave them an imperious glare. “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that,” he said loftily and then continued to climb the stairs while the three Mortals laughed, exchanging amused looks. When they reached the second floor landing, they paused for a moment to let Felicity catch her breath before tackling the next flight. Alex kept a solicitous hand on Felicity’s back, helping her along. Finally, they reached the top floor where they found one of the apartment doors open and Elladan was there to greet them with a smile.
“Welcome and thrice welcome! We were wondering when we would see any of you. Come in, come in. Felicity, how are you doing?”
They entered the apartment, finding themselves in the living room which took up a good portion of the apartment with two doors to the right apparently leading to bedrooms and a door at the other end where the bathroom was. Windows to the left looked out onto the street. The kitchen was behind them to the left of the entrance. It was small but adequate and a small dining set stood before it with a sitting area beyond. The furniture was obviously secondhand but in good condition. The place was crowded with everyone greeting everyone else and asking after each other.
“We thought you would be here before this,” Elrohir said to Glorfindel.
“We would have been, but with a pregnant woman along, we couldn’t quite rush across the country,” Glorfindel explained. “Also, we were being stalked.”
“Stalked?” the Twins said almost as one.
“Well, I think we were,” Glorfindel amended, casting a grim look at Daeron and Finrod. “Others have a different opinion.”
“We are not saying you are not correct, mellon nîn,” Daeron said. “We just have no real proof.”
“So, what happened in Calgary was just my imagination,” Glorfindel retorted with an air of skepticism.
“What happened in Calgary?” Elladan asked, but Glorfindel just waved his hand, his focus on Daeron.
“Long story,” he said. “And then what happened to you—”
“Could have happened to anyone of us walking down Kodiak,” Daeron pointed out. “Look, in spite of what happened in Wiseman, I just can’t believe that the Enemy has been stalking us in that fashion. How can he know the route we were taking? Since Calgary you’ve been so random in your route, driving back and forth between Canada and the States, that even we couldn’t predict which way you were going, except vaguely east.”
“And then there was Derek and Alex getting sick,” Glorfindel said as if he’d not heard anything Daeron had said. “We had to hole up for about a week outside St. Louis.”
“Yeah, sure, blame us,” Alex said with a scowl.
“I’m not blaming you, Alex,” Glorfindel said with some exasperation. “It was just unfortunate that you and Derek got sick at the same time.”
“I thought you and Derek looked paler than you should have,” Elladan said. “How are you doing now?”
“We’re fine,” Alex answered for them both. “Still feeling tired and washed out but it’s not as bad as it was.”
“And I am glad that Felicity did not suffer,” Elrond put in. “It would not have been good for the baby.”
“Yeah, that’s for sure,” Derek said in agreement as Alex led Felicity to the couch and the two of them sat while the others took to chairs or plopped onto the floor. Elrohir went into the kitchen to put together some lemonade for them all with Serindë helping.
“So, are you saying that Alex and Derek getting sick was the latest attack on you by the Enemy?” Elladan asked.
“I am not so paranoid as to think that the Enemy was behind it, but there have been incidents all along the way that point to someone following us, trying to keep us from coming here. Surely, it can’t all be explained away as just my imagination running wild and you know I don’t believe in coincidence.”
“Yeah, maybe, probably,” Alex admitted. “It’s just that my… um… spidey-sense hasn’t been working overtime lately. In fact, I haven’t felt anything since St. Louis. I think it’s because I’m still recovering.”
“Well, all that matters is that we made it, isn’t it?” Daeron said, apparently wishing to drop the subject of whether the Enemy was following them or not. They all nodded in agreement, though Glorfindel did so reluctantly.
“So what’s the next step?” Derek asked. “Aren’t we supposed to hook up with Amroth and Gwyn?
“First though, have you heard from Ron and Holly?” Elrohir asked from the kitchen. “We’ve heard nothing from either of them in some time, more than two weeks ago.”
“The last time I talked with them was when we were outside St. Louis waiting for Alex and Derek to recover from whatever the hell they had,” Glorfindel replied.
“I still say it was food poisoning,” Felicity interjected.
But Elrond shook his head. “No, dear, that was the first thing I ruled out. No, it was some type of stomach virus.”
“So anyway they were camping in Yosemite, but Ron thought they might be moving on shortly and head somewhere in the Midwest, but he didn’t say where.”
“How long ago was that?” Serindë asked with concern as she brought some plastic cups out and set them on the dining table along with a plate of homemade oatmeal raisin cookies.
Glorfindel shrugged. “About a week and a half ago. Look, I’m sure they’re fine. It’s been difficult to communicate with anybody, but I’ve heard from everyone else in the last week.”
“So where are they all?” Serindë asked.
“Well, Finrod’s son and his gwedyr are with Laurendil and Manwen,” Glorfindel said. “Last we heard from them was a couple days ago. They’re working their way through the South. They were in New Orleans when they contacted me. Laurendil said they would probably reach us here in another week or so.”
“Cennanion, Barahir, Alphwen and Eirien are in Chicago,” Daeron picked up the narrative. “We actually met up with them. They’re fine and they’ve decided to remain where they are. Alphwen still has contacts in the city. It’s only been a few years since she moved to Wiseman. We know that Prince Legolas and all those who were Rangers have not left Alaska. Instead, they fled into the wilderness. Some went back toward Wiseman and are haunting the Brooks Mountains and the Gates of the Arctic National Park but we know a few continued south to Denali and some even went further north to where Finlay and Sakari are.”
“How do you know this, though?” Elrohir asked as he came out of the kitchen with a pitcher of lemonade and began pouring it into the cups. “There’s no way anyone could have sent you a text or an email from any of those places.”
“Well, we’re somehow getting updates, or at least I am,” Glorfindel said as he accepted one of the cups which Serindë was handing out, along with a cookie. “I suspect that the Maiar are involved. All I know is that I’m getting periodic updates from everyone regardless of where they are. Most of those who came with Finrod seem to be doing okay in spite of the fact that none of them have any real experience with life among the Mortals.”
“It’s a good thing they all obtained their driver’s licenses, though,” Alex said. “That makes it easier for them to keep off the beaten track and hide in remote places or simply to travel where they need to be.”
“That’s for sure,” Derek said.
“Well, at any rate, everyone is fine, as far as I know,” Glorfindel said. “People are either staying put somewhere or making their way here.”
“Where are Amroth and Gwyn?” Daeron asked. “Have either of them contacted you?”
“Amroth arrived last week,” Elladan said. “Haven’t heard from Gwyn personally, but Amroth let us know that he has and expects Gwyn and the others to arrive soon.”
“So, you’ve obviously been doing well for yourselves,” Finrod said, speaking for the first time, as he looked about the apartment, “and you’ve only been here for about a month or so.”
“We lucked out finding this place,” Elladan said. “The previous residents had just moved out so the place was vacant and as the rent’s reasonable for a resort village, we took it. It’s very convenient to everywhere we need to go.”
“On top of that,” Elrohir added, “when we looked around, it turned out that the medical center here was in desperate need of surgeons because one guy died and two others found jobs elsewhere, so they were very shorthanded.”
“Rather serendipitous, wouldn’t you say?” Glorfindel commented.
Elladan shrugged. “I refuse to look a gift horse in the mouth. Anyway, it’s not bad here. The air is clean, the scenery is spectacular, the people are warm and welcoming and the work we do is important. It’s really almost like being back in Wiseman.”
Glorfindel nodded, then turned to Serindë. “And how do you occupy your time, my dear, while these two are out saving lives?”
Serindë smiled. “Well, I’m not sitting around twiddling my thumbs, if that’s what you’re wondering. Saranac Lake is the arts capital of the Adirondacks. I belong to the Arts Guild and I work at the NorthWind Fine Arts Gallery over on Woodruff, just on the other side of the river.”
“And that was a stroke of luck right there,” Elrohir said.
“Oh? How so?” Glorfindel asked.
“The gallery is one of the newer ones, opened up just a few years ago,” Serindë explained. “When we first got here, we wandered around the village, checking things out and just on an impulse we went down Woodruff, where we found the gallery. It happened to be the first Friday of the month and they were hosting an opening reception that’s free to the public. It is an opportunity for people to meet the artists in a relaxed setting.” She paused and gave them a sardonic smile. “We stopped to take a look and when I happened to introduce myself as Sarah Brightman, two people actually knew who I was and were very happy to hear that I had recently moved to the village. Before I knew it, I was being introduced to some of the other artist residents and a week later they asked me to join them at the gallery.” She shrugged. “And it would never have occurred to us to go down that particular street.”
“Maybe you were inspired,” Felicity said quietly.
“Maybe we were,” Serindë nodded in agreement.
“Well, I’m glad you are settled in and all,” Glorfindel said, “but I wouldn’t get too cozy. We’re here on a mission, or we will be just as soon as I track down Gwyn and find out just what the hell this is all about.”
As if that were a cue, Glorfindel’s phone rang. He fished it out of his pocket and answered it. “DelaFiore… Gwyn! Where in blue blazes are you? Are you guys okay?... Wait! I’m putting this on speaker.” He fiddled with the phone, holding it out so the others would be able to hear. “Okay. Say that again.”
“We’re fine,” they heard Gwyn say. “Where are you?”
“With Dan and Roy,” Glorfindel answered. “We just got here maybe a half hour ago.”
“Well, we’re with Amroth. It’s too late in the day for you to come up to Wilmington so let’s plan to meet tomorrow.”
“Is it late?” Glorfindel asked, frowning slightly. “I hadn’t noticed.”
“It’s nearly ten in the evening,” Elladan said. “Sunset was about a half hour ago.”
Glorfindel frowned some more. “Funny. I didn’t think it was that late.” He shook his head as if to clear it and said. “Okay. We’ll meet you tomorrow, say around ten?”
“Ten it is,” Gwyn said. “See you then.” And then the call was disconnected.
“Well, we should look for a hotel,” Daeron said, “assuming we can get rooms this late at night.”
“You can stay here,” Elrohir said. “Alex, Felicity, why don’t you take our bed and Derek, you can take Dan’s.”
All three Mortals started to protest but Elrohir insisted, saying, “No. Don’t worry about it. We’re Elves, after all. I can tell that Alex and Derek are still recovering from their illness and, Felicity, you definitely need to be horizontal. When’s the baby due?”
“In about six weeks,” Felicity said.
“Then you definitely need rest,” Serindë said with a smile. “Our bedroom is the second door on the right and Derek, that’s your room.” She pointed to the door closest to the entrance.
“We’ll go down and grab your luggage,” Daeron suggested and Alex handed him his car keys. Daeron and Valandur left but returned shortly with some bags. Soon the Mortals were asleep while the Elves continued visiting through the night.
Glorfindel was describing to the Twins and Serindë the trip across Canada, while everyone listened when Elladan suddenly said, “It’s dawn.”
Glorfindel looked up at the windows, surprised at the light streaming through the curtains, for it had been dark just moments before, or so it seemed. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was doing all the talking,” he apologized.
“That’s okay,” Elrohir said with a grin, “we’ve been enjoying listening to your adventures. You’ll be leaving soon to see Amroth and Gwyn. Dan has surgery this morning and I’ve got consultations so we’ll be leaving now.”
“We’ll see you later, then?” Glorfindel asked as the Twins headed for the front door.
“Yes, we’ll plan to come out to Amroth’s later.”
“Why don’t I fix us some breakfast,” Serindë suggested. “Alex, Felicity and Derek should be waking soon enough.” Her prediction proved true with Derek waking first and then Felicity, with Alex being last. By the time breakfast was done, it was time to leave, though only Glorfindel, Alex, Derek, Valandur and Daeron were going. Felicity decided she did not want to travel far and Elrond and Vardamir both agreed that she should rest. The two healers and the ellith decided to spend the day wandering through the village.
“We can join you later,” Elrond told Glorfindel.
“Here, love, take the keys,” Alex said to Felicity. “Derek and I will ride with Loren.”
And so they left with Glorfindel retracing his route to pick up Route 86 going east toward Lake Placid, approximately twenty minutes away. The road wound its way through the mountains and then they were coming into Lake Placid, even more congested with tourists than Saranac Lake, so it was probably another fifteen minutes as they crawled past Mirror Lake on their left before they left the village and were heading northeast. It took them another twenty minutes, passing High Falls Gorge and the Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort with its gondola that went up to Little Whiteface, before they were coming into Wilmington. They passed the North Pole Campgrounds with its miniature golf course and the A&W on the left, coming to the juncture with Route 431, which led to the road leading up to the top of Whiteface Mountain and saw the sign for Santa’s Workshop.
“Didn’t Amroth say he worked there for a while?” Glorfindel asked as he turned right to continue on Route 86 and Daeron nodded but did not speak.
They continued along, leaving Wilmington behind with Jay about nine miles ahead, but they had gone only about another mile or so when Daeron pointed to the right. “There’s Owls Fly Way,” he said and Loren turned there. “And there’s the house straight ahead.”
Glorfindel stopped before what turned out to be a double-wide log-cabin trailer nestled within a stand of tall firs that provided a windbreak from the north and west. There was a wide porch that fronted the cabin and they saw Amroth and Gwyn standing there, apparently waiting for them. Glorfindel waved at them through the windshield as he turned off the engine and they waved back even as Derek was opening the side door and everyone was climbing out.
“Unca’ Lowen! Unca’ Finwod!’
Glorfindel looked to see Amroth and Nimrodel’s elflings running toward them and with a wide smile and swooped two of them up, while the third went straight to Finrod who gave the toddler a hug and a kiss. “Well, well, my orclings,” Glorfindel said with a laugh as he climbed the steps to the porch. “How you’ve grown! Have you been good little orclings?”
“Yeth,” one of them said while the other protested with, “Not owcklin’ Unca’ Lowen. Elflin’.”
“Are you now?” Glorfindel asked in surprise. “I wouldn’t have guessed.”
The children giggled and squirmed and he put them down after giving each a sloppy kiss. Amroth, watching with amusement, chivvied his children inside. “Go to Nana,” he said. “She has juice and cookies for you.” The triplets went indoors, leaving the grownups to themselves.
“Nice place,” Glorfindel said. “How did you manage to keep it when you were living in Alaska?”
“I was renting it to people,” Amroth explained. “I probably would’ve sold it to them but they moved out earlier this spring to go to New Hampshire so it was standing empty when we got here. Rather fortuitous under the circumstances.”
“Where’s Gareth?” Glorfindel asked Gwyn, ignoring the implications of Amroth’s words.
“He and Nell are taking a walk. They’ll be back in a bit. Misty’s giving Della a hand with the triplets.”
“Why don’t we sit over here and take our ease?” Amroth suggested, pointing to where a padded two-person rocker and some Adirondack chairs had been placed along one side of the porch. On a small wicker table were a pitcher of lemonade and some glasses. Amroth poured the lemonade out as Glorfindel spoke to Gwyn.
“Okay, you want to explain what you meant about us holding the key. Key to what? And why did we have to spend the past month traveling across country to come all the way here? What’s so special about this place?”
Gwyn did not speak immediately, sipping the lemonade Amroth had handed to him. “It would be closer to the truth to say that Gareth and I hold the key and the key is an… artefact, I suppose you can call it, or possibly a talisman, that may help us against the Enemy.”
“Whom we have not seen since leaving Wiseman,” Finrod interjected. “Indeed we have seen nothing of any attack elsewhere. Edhellond was destroyed. That much we know, but other than that, there has been no other activity of which we are aware.”
“Yeah, that struck me as odd, too,” Glorfindel said, “but I figured we were somehow able to elude whoever might be gunning for us.”
“Possibly,” Gwyn allowed. “All I know is that Gareth and I have been the custodians of an object that might, and I stress that, might aid us in our fight against the Enemy whenever it decides to strike again.”
“So what’s this artefact or talisman or whatever you’re calling it?” Alex asked impatiently.
“And why don’t you have it with you?” Derek added.
“For that matter, why didn’t you have it with you in Alaska?” Daeron asked.
“We didn’t have it with us,” Gwyn explained, “because it’s been hidden for nearly two hundred years and it’s still hidden as far as we know.”
“So why don’t you go retrieve it?” Valandur asked.
“You still haven’t told us what it is,” Alex insisted.
“What it is, is difficult to describe and in truth neither Gareth nor I really know what it is. We found it, or perhaps it found us. At any rate, there’s a problem with retrieving it.”
“And what problem is that?” Glorfindel asked.
Gwyn gave them a sour smile. “Well, you have to understand that when Gareth and I were last here was over two hundred years ago and this was completely wilderness with no mortal habitations to speak of, not even native tribes, though they used this area as a hunting ground. You passed High Falls Gorge and the Whiteface ski area.”
Everyone nodded. “They looked like interesting places,” Finrod commented.
“They are,” Gwyn said. “The gondola ride to the top of Little Whiteface is quite a trip and the views are panoramic. The Gorge is also interesting to see. However, two hundred years ago, neither the ski resort nor the Gorge attraction, which is privately owned, by the way, existed.”
“And so?” Glorfindel asked, frowning slightly. “What’s your point?”
“The point, Loren, is that Gareth and I hid the artefact somewhere in High Falls Gorge, which is now a popular tourist attraction, and we will need to retrieve it without being in full view of Mortals.”
For a long moment, no one spoke as they digested Gwyn’s words. Finally, Glorfindel sighed. “Well, I guess that does make things rather interesting for us all, doesn’t it?”
The responses from the others were short and to the point and very much scatological.
|<< Back||Next >>|
|Home Search Chapter List|