Chapter Seven: The Parting of Ways
A Price to Pay
Chapter Seven: The Parting of Ways
Disclaimer: I don’t own Buffy or Lord of the Rings
Author’s Note: “English,”“Sindarian,”
All readers please note that Dawn and Xander still refer to themselves and each other by their English names while speaking Westron. I am not going to bold them because that would be ridiculous and distracting, not to mention annoying for me. The natives of Middle-Earth refer to them as Dawne (Dah-WEN-eh) and Alessandair (Al-leys-SAHN-dehr) due to the fact that they have issues pronouncing the English versions (See Chapter Three: The Name Game). Thank you.
After stalling with the Rangers for what amounted to two years out of the five year time limit set out for her by the Powers, killing orcs and protecting the Hobbits of the Shire, Dawn was getting antsy and insisting that she and Xander start making their way east towards Enemy Territory. Never mind that they had barely any idea what they would face there, how to get there, and absolutely no idea whatsoever about what to do about the big bad evil who resided there.
Xander was running out of excuses, this was Dawn’s Quest after all, there was only so much hinting, nudging, suggesting, and outright ordering that he could do. They had provisions stored, they had their rather impressive array of weapons, including Xander’s beautiful new battle axe (a gift from a blacksmith they’d rescued a few months back), they had new bed rolls, they had warm and cold weather clothes, they had a map of Middle-Earth in a weather-proof case, and Dawn had reinvented the tampon. They could put it off no longer; it was time to go, so with a mix of reluctance and excitement, they went to find Strider.
“Xander, what’s the matter?” Dawn asked concerned as Xander took one last look at the camp.
“I’m just going to miss this place,”
“I know, I’m going to miss it too, but...”
“It’s time, I know, you’re right. Putting it off will just make it harder,”
Dawn stopped short a little ways away from Strider’s tent where a big red horse with a white stripe on his nose was being led away to the little picket line for food and water.
“I wonder whose it is,” she said.
“One of the messengers’ maybe, or one of the hunters’,” Xander suggested.
The Rangers didn’t really use horses. Their job made hunting and tracking on the ground advantageous, it was all too easy to miss some small clue whizzing by on horseback that would seem perfectly obvious to a tracker on the ground. So while the Rangers had two or three horses available at each base camp for messengers, the only Rangers who rode regularly were the hunters, a group of more reckless Dunedain who rather than belonging to a base camp rode regular circuits and rode down parties of unsuspecting orcs purposefully. The hunters were the Rangers that saw most of the action, mostly because they were the crazy fools who sought out the danger in the first place.
“Sit down and wait, why yes I do think that would be polite considering that Strider is clearly in a private and potentially important conversation,”
Dawn sighed, annoyed.
“Be patient, Dawnie,”
“I know, I know, I’m being patient, look here I am sitting and waiting in a patient fashion,” Dawn said demonstrating by sitting herself on the ground delicately.
“Good girl,” Xander said patting her on the head.
“If you don’t get that patronizing hand off me in two point five seconds I am going to hack it off,” Dawn snarled.
“Alright, no need to get violent,” laughed Xander.
They waited for a long while outside the tent lounging in the late summer sun languidly. Xander took out a whetstone and honed the edge of his blade with care and Dawn whimsically braided herself a little grass circlet to keep herself from fidgeting impatiently. A half-hour or so later an older man dressed all in grey wearing a stereotypical wizard’s hat whooshed out of the tent with an impressive speed and agility for his years making a beeline for the picket line and his horse.
Strider strode out of his tent looking equally grim and harried but he spared them a quick upturning of the lips before speaking.
“I have to go into the east to search for a potential enemy informant and I will be leaving before dusk,” the ranger informed them briskly.
“This won’t take long,” Xander assured him, gesturing for Dawn to speak.
Dawn squared her shoulders and faced her Chief and friend.
“When you found us in the woods two years ago Alessandair and I were...searching for something ourselves. I have a quest to complete and Alessandair is my protector and, you have to understand what these past few years and your friendship has meant to me...us...but we need to get back to our quest,” Dawn said fumbling for the right words and casting several ineffectual pleading glances Xander’s way.
Xander for his part just nodded a bit and when she was finished raised an eyebrow at Strider. Strider rubbed his temples but nodded.
“I had suspected something like that might be the case...I had hoped...” Strider flicked his wrist impatiently as if to rid himself of a cumbersome thought.
“We’ve gathered everything we need out of our own wages, we just wanted to make sure you knew where we were and what we were doing Chief,” Xander said adjusting the strap of the pack he carried conspicuously.
Strider nodded agreeably.
“What can I say except I wish you well?”
“Well you could say you’ll miss us,” Dawn suggested grinning.
Strider laughed a little at her cheeky wink and in an uncharacteristic display of public affection for the slight female he scooped her up in a tight hug. Dawn squealed in surprise and then threw her own long arms around his neck, squeezing back with equal fervour. Xander and Strider exchanged a manlier version of this same bone-crushing hug and then parted.
“Good luck, my friends, I hope you find what it is you seek,”
“Good hunting,” Xander returned.
“Stay safe,” Dawn ordered.
“Heed your own advice Dawne, you are more often in trouble than I,” Strider snorted.
“Hey I’ve only been kidnapped once since I’ve been here!”
“Aaaaand we’re leaving now,” Xander declared steering Dawn away from the Chief Ranger before she could reveal just how many times she was usually captured or kidnapped in a month.
That kind of thing was something Strider couldn’t just ignore and it would lead to awkward questions Xander and Dawn couldn’t really answer without blowing their cover. Provided of course Strider didn’t just assume they were crazy.
Xander started whistling ‘On the Road Again’ as they strode straight out of camp without looking back. It was bad luck to look back. Plus Xander wasn’t really sure he could keep himself from trying to convince Dawn to accompany Strider into the uncharted, at least by him, wilds of the east.
Taking a deep breath Xander continued to whistle with determined cheerfulness hoping, not for the first time, that he wasn’t making some kind of mistake letting Dawn convince him that they needed to go tearing off half-cocked to defeat a nameless enemy they barely knew anything about. Because when he thought about it like that it seemed like a really bad plan.
Abruptly Xander changed his tune. ‘It is Dawn’s Quest, after all
It is Dawn’s Quest, after all
It is Dawn’s Quest, after all
It is Dawn’s, Dawn’s Quest!’
He hummed to himself.
AN: Whew! I thought I would never get this interlude done! Don’t worry the next chapter will be more exciting and longer as Dawn and Xander set off on their quest!
Thank you Sophie for letting me use your computer, and for reading all my stories!
I don’t own On the Road Again or It’s a Small World.