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A Long Strange Journey

By Weezie24

Adventure / Fantasy

Chapter 1: Prologue

Author's note: This is a prequel/companion piece that may later tie into my LOTR fic One Geek to Rule Them All, but it's entirely up to you whether you want to read it or not. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please let me know what you think.

I don't own anything but my OC.

Chapter 1: Prologue

In war-torn London, on October 23, 1940, a young girl was walking home from school with her younger brother in hand. The Blitz had been going on for a over a month now, and the streets of their once fair city were lined with rubble and debris. No matter how much they tried to sort it out and clear it away, there was always more of it, and there always would be so long as the Germans continued to drop their bombs. People died. People lost their homes. But still the citizens of London continued to go about their daily lives, determined to keep a stiff upper lip, in true British fashion; and to keep calm and carry on to the best of their abilities. And the children followed the example of the adults.Which was why, despite all of the horrific destruction around them and the constant threat of more bombs hovering over their heads, Hannah and Jonathan Hayes strolled through the streets of their besieged city with their heads held high. As they walked, Jonathan played with a stick he had found, while Hannah hummed the tune of Raisins and Almonds. The soft and sweet melody was pierced by the sudden scream of the air-raid siren.

"Come, Jonathan!" Hannah said urgently, tightening her grip on her younger brother's hand as she made a beeline to the nearest shelter, which happened to be the Underground a block away.

Their pace quickened to a desperate run when a large shadow passed over them, and they realized the planes were already over their neighborhood. They had were only steps away from the top threshold of the stairs leading down into the station when Hannah became aware of something moving vertically out the corner of her eye only a hundred yards further down the street. In the next five seconds before the bomb hit, Hannah used all of her strength to yank her brother in front of her and push him with enough force to send him flying down into the arms of the station manager standing at the bottom of the stairs; and not a moment too soon. She squeezed her eyes shut as the blast hit her. A wave of heat rolled over Hannah so intense that she thought the flesh would melt right off her bones as she was hurled violently through the air. The pain was so immense her mind couldn't process it, and she realized she could hear herself screaming as her body began to go into shock. Her eyes were opened. She stared upward as the stars wheeled overhead, even though the sky had just been bright with daylight a moment ago. Her limbs were heavy, and she couldn't bring herself to move them; there was a strange absence of pain. She didn't know how long she lay there gazing at the heavens, but a strange sensation of loss and loneliness slowly began to well up within her, pushing its way to the surface to escape in the form of tears leaking from the corners of her eyes. Did Jonathan make it? Was he going to be all right? Was she all right? What happened? Was she dead? Paralyzed?

"Well, this is most peculiar!" Exclaimed a nervous voice. Hannah could hear and smell the soft crunch of fragrant grass beneath feet and realized she was lying on a patch of it. "I wondered what it was when I saw that huge burst of flame, but it appears to be a girl!"

"Yes, It would appear so." Said another, deeper voice as the faces of two old men appeared in her field of vision, hovering over her. The one in the brown hat had a kind but funny-looking face, and what appeared to be bird droppings in his grey hair; and the one in the blue-grey hat had a long face with sharp eyes, bushy brows, and noticeable lack of fecal matter anywhere on his person.

"And one with violet eyes at that! I've never seen the like before." Remarked the old man in the brown hat curiously.

"Yes, she also appears to be in some kind of trance," said the old man in the grey hat, "or perhaps she's simply stunned? Can you move?" he asked her. Hannah found that she couldn't even blink.

"Oh, dear. She seems to be in a rather bad way, don't you think, Gandalf?" The old man in the brown hat asked his friend, concerned. "What should we do?"

"Let me see…" The man in the grey hat, Gandalf, said. He reached out and laid his hand on her head and closed his eyes as he spoke in low voice, whispering words beyond Hannah's understanding. The heavy numbness suddenly left her limbs, and Hannah found that she could move again.

"What… What happened?" She asked nervously as she looked around and realized she was in the middle of field.

"We were hoping you could tell us." Answered the old man in the brown hat. They had been discussing the growing sense of unease they felt about the ominous shadow that had begun to stretch over the land, when a cloud of flames suddenly burst into bloom off in the distance, and they found this young girl with unusual eyes in its place. "How did you make those flames?"

"I-I didn't make them, it was the bomb—the bomb! That's right!" She cried, bolting upright to search herself for wounds. There was nothing. Not even a single first-degree burn. "That can't be… I was standing right next to it when it went off. How am I still…?" Her eyes widened in shock. "Am I dead? Is this Heaven?" She asked.

"Heaven? How can you be in the sky when you're sitting on the ground? And what is a 'bomb'?" The man in the brown hat asked, furrowing his brow in confusion.

"Huh?" She said, mirroring his expression, as she tilted her head to side and stared at him in bewilderment. It would seem she wasn't in Heaven after all. She hoped that didn't mean she was in Hell. She couldn't remember having done anything bad enough to deserve ending up there. "I'm taking about the Kingdom of God, not the sky. And how can you not know what a bomb is? There's a war going on, you know!" At this the two men visibly started and stared at her in astonishment.

"Who is this God? I've never heard of a king by that name, have you?" The man in the brown hat asked his friend.

"At the moment, I am much more concerned about this war she just mentioned. Aren't you, Radagast?" Answered Gandalf. "Ah, that's right! We have yet to introduce ourselves. I am known as Gandalf, Gandalf the Grey. And this is Radagast the Brown." He said, formerly introducing themselves to her. "And what is your name?"

"My name is Hannah Hayes. How do you do?" She responded politely with a nod, remembering her manners, though she was still thoroughly bemused by all that had transpired since the bomb went off.

"Very well, thank you, Hannah." Replied Radagast with a smile. He had never heard that name before, but it had a nice ring to it. "But Gandalf is right, you must tell us more about this war you speak of. Has it anything to do with the Necromancer?"

"Radagast!" said Gandalf sternly. Radagast was a kind soul, but he had no talent for subterfuge. They did not yet know how much this girl knew, and while she looked harmless enough, appearing in balls of fire was not something normal girls should be able to do. For despite her unusual eye-color and strange attire, she was clearly mortal, and of the race of Men. She should not be capable of using the kind of powerful magic they had sensed when she appeared.

"What on earth are you talking about?" Hannah asked, looking more lost than ever.

"… What are you talking about?" Radagast countered as the two wizards stared expectantly at her.

After much discussion and quite a few corrected miscommunications, Hannah and the two wizards seemed to have finally reached an understanding, although each side felt the other's story was just as incredible and unbelievably fantastic as the other's. For one thing, Hannah couldn't believe they were really wizards, and that she was now in land called Middle-earth, in a world called Arda; and Gandalf and Radagast had a hard time believing humans could fly and wreak havoc on the same level as a dragon without the aid of magic or eagles. They also had a hard time believing there were no dragons in her world.In one thing Hannah was fortunate. After only a little bit of poking and prodding they had decided that she was not a threat and truly was just an ordinary girl who had somehow gotten herself tangled up in an extraordinary series of events. She suspected it might have had something to do with the genuine concern she expressed for her brother's safety, as she could only hope the station master had caught him and that the stairwell had been sturdy enough to shelter them from the blast. She bit her lip and shook her head, refusing to think about the alternate. Jonathan was alive. She had to believe that.

"Well, I suppose the only question that remains now is: what are we going to do with you?" Gandalf said with a significant look. Hannah raised an eyebrow.

"If it's all the same to you, Mr. Gandalf, I'd like to go home now." She answered frankly. She was worried about Jonathan and the rest of her family, and she was certain they would be worried about her. "The problem is, I'm not quite sure how to go about it, since I don't understand how I got here to begin with."

"Neither do we, unfortunately." Said Radagast sympathetically. Poor girl must be frightened to find herself so utterly lost and far from home.

"Yes, that does make things rather difficult." Gandalf agreed.

"Well then, I suppose the first thing I must do is learn as much as I can about this world, if I want to go back to mine. If something can happen once, it can happen again. Surely there must be some connection between our two worlds in order for this to happen?" said Hannah.

"And what will you do if you find that you cannot return home?" asked Gandalf.

"I'll cross that bridge when I come to it, but for now I don't think I can bear the thought of it." She said. Sinking traces of homesickness were already beginning to creep over her. The farthest she had ever been from home before was Cornwall.

"Well, until you do figure things out, why not stay with me?" Radagast offered kindly.

"Oh, thank you. But I wouldn't want to impose." Said Hannah politely.

"Nonsense!" Radagast cried. "We can't leave a child out here alone, you'll catch your death if something more dangerous doesn't catch you first."

"If it is knowledge and understanding you seek, and shelter you need," said Gandalf with a small twinkle in his eye, "I believe I may know the perfect place."

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