To the Reviewers:

Cathy - Blunt spoon? Sounds painful. Why do you keep asking for what happens before it does? If we told you, we would not get such good reviews. LOL

Rhonda - Thanks, it will be posted soon.

Sparx - I promise, all will be better right before the end.
LMAO The end is another story. Literally.

Chapter 20

Kaolith jumped when she could no longer see her friend. "What? Where'd she go? Lord Elrond? Strider? Where is she, what happened?" She saw the looks on their faces that must have matched hers, and turned to Gandalf. "Do you know what happened?"

"Ah, little one, I am not sure. I think she may have triggered something."

"So you can get me in there with her?"

"I did not say that, now did I? Do you think she would want you to follow?" He almost laughed at the look on her face. "Very well then, I will try to find the opening words, but you can deal with her wrath if she wants to be alone with her past." Everyone looked to Kaolith, and was surprised to see that she was actually thinking. The expression was actually quite comical, with her left eye scrunched shut, tongue sticking out the same side, and her right eye looking up and away.

The Ranger gave her sister a few more moments alone before answering. "I know she needed some time to take it all in, but I think she'll need me too, now. After all, I'm supposed to cause trouble; it's my job. She might think I'd lost my memory or something if I didn't follow." She paused and looked at the Lord. "Was that right?"

Elrond looked down at Kaolith, once again wondering why she looked like little more than a 10-year-old child. "Oh, so now you ask my permission to do something, little one. Not when you are putting yourself in danger, but when you don't want to get into trouble with Selinde for denying her time alone with her past. But yes, Kao, that may have been right."

The group looked at Gandalf who moved towards the circlet of stones. "Step there, Kaolith, right where Selinde was, and I will try…" they all stopped when she took up the position and vanished as well. They looked at Gandalf, who had a rather baffled look, and then watched as Tanad ran to the spot. He did not disappear.

"Mithrandir…what just happened?" Elladan looked around for Kaolith, not sure why she had been gained admittance.

"I…I don't know."

************

Kaolith looked around, almost afraid of what had just happened. She hadn't heard the wizard saying anything, and was surprised that he hadn't given her any warning. She noticed that she was in a small, dark room, and it was littered with scrolls and boxes that looked as though they held crowns and circlets. It was in a back corner that the Ranger found Selinde, pouring over what looked like a very old journal. "Selinde?"

"Kao! How did you get in here?"

"I'm sorry. I thought you could use some company. I don't really know how I got in here, and now that I think about it, I don't think anyone else did either. It just sort of happened. I'll leave you alone then, and try to find the way out."

"No Kao. I want you to stay." The Elf paused for a moment wondering. "As a matter of fact, I was just thinking how much I would enjoy sharing this with you, and there you are."

"Are you sure?" Kao was still not certain that she hadn't intruded.

"Yes, young one. You are the only family I have to share my past with."

"That's not true Selinde. Those still outside, they all consider you family."

"Yes, I know. But you are the one I wish to share this with first."

Happy that she had finally done something right, Kao joined her friend.

************

Back outside, Tan was not happy to be left behind. "How do you know that they are alright?" He questioned. "Can't you get me in also?" He then asked the wizard.

"Ah my boy. It was not I that granted her access." Gandalf looked up at Elrond. "Why don't we bring the horses around, and make camp here. Maybe we could catch some fresh fish for tonight's meal." He stated.

Excellent idea. "Boys, take Tan and go fetch the horses." Tan wasn't really happy with leaving Kao and Selinde in there alone, but he followed the others anyway.

When they were gone, Elrond cocked his eyebrow at the wizard. "And just how did she gain access?" He asked.

"That we will have to wait to ask them," was Gandalf's only reply.

As Kao looked over her friends shoulder, she asked what she was looking at.

"This," she indicated all the stuff, "is the history of my people. This particular scroll explains the 'tainted' bloodline. From which I descend. At least now I know why I'm clumsy."

As the two puttered around, looking at everything, Kao found a scroll she knew would interest her friend.

"Selinde, look at this."

Selinde picked up the scroll and read.

We look to the future, to bring forth the past.
The only one who can help, must be the last.
Stand on the circlet; your fate will be sealed.
For all that you see, will yet be revealed.

Now to get back out, we ask only one thing.
The history of Bethune, to Middle-Earth you must bring.
Take what is here, take it all if you can,

Then Bethune will never be seen again by man.

They looked at each other, and then at the circlet in the center of the room, it matched to one that brought them here. They took the parchment and together stood on the circlet. Within moments, to the surprise of those outside, the entire room was revealed.

As the room materialized, the Elves and Gandalf looked on in awe at the lost history, Tanad pounced on the females, and Aragorn was kindling a fire. He too looked up in awe when he realized what had occurred.

"Don't do that, Kao, Selinde. I was worried; I didn't know where you went to." Tanad was laughing as the two were tickling him, but trying to be serious at the same time. The three continued to wrestle, cares that had been weighing heavily on their hearts, different as they were, now lifted. The twins soon found themselves and Legolas involved in the chaos. Not wanting to leave the inconspicuous Aragorn out, they soon broke and pig piled on him, forgetting that they were all in varying ages of maturity. The Lord and Maiar sat back and laughed at the young ones' antics.

Eventually tiring themselves out, surveying the various bruises and superficial cuts they had inflicted on each other, the group sobered, and looked at the room in front of them once more.

"We have to take it all away from here," Kaolith remembered what she had read. "We can't leave any of it, or it will be lost."

"Nonsense, Kao, we will make this a safe haven for Bethunian Elves, if there are any left. We cannot take their past away from them and hide it in Rivendell, Lothlorien, or Mirkwood. It is theirs, not ours." Elrond was confused.

"No, she is right; it is the charm that was placed on this room. Once I triggered the circlet, it will close forever when we leave. We can't leave it here, or it will be truly lost forever. I would like for it to be transferred to my home. Rivendell will be a suitable place for it."

The twins smiled as they saw that Selinde had accepted their home as hers, and moved to begin the removal process. As they did so, Elrond looked at the child in their midst. There was something that still did not set with him.

"Kao, how did you manage to enter the seal? None of us could follow."

"I don't know, the only thing I can think of is that…"

"I was thinking of wanting to share what I'd found with her, and then there she was."

"Get out of my head."

"Oh no, don't you two start. I get enough of that with my sons." He looked to the twins who feigned anger at the comment. "Now, Kao, there is something I need to talk to you about."

As they continued to collect the artifacts and scrolls, Elrond took Kao aside.

"How has your memory been doing?" The Elf Lord asked.

"I have not had any," she paused remembering what she had done before. "Hardly any problems with it lately." She looked at him sheepishly.

Elrond knew she was hiding something, and only cocked his eyebrow in her direction. "I think Gandalf and I have found something that might help permanently."

"Really?," Kao said. For some reason, she was feeling uncomfortable about what he was going to say.

"We think that you need to return to Gleichen. We think..." he however, could get no farther.

"NO! The answer is no! I will not return to that place again." With those words she turned on her heel and stalked away.

The others had stopped with their tasks and stared as Kao's voice rose.

"That went well," Selinde called to Lord Elrond. "Maybe next time you should let me approach her with sensitive subjects."

Elrond looked chagrined, but the others just laughed. Selinde watched as Kao walked away, but figured she would give her friend a few minutes to herself.

************

*He wants me to go WHERE? I can't go back there, there's nothing for me there. Nothing but bad memories anyway. Selinde and the twins almost got burned alive there…burned alive. Does he realize that? And he wants me to go back? Those kids kicked me and ridiculed me just because I was with 'Dan and 'Ro. Then Hagley was there, and that was bad enough. He wants me to go back?* Kaolith had been wandering among the trees for hours now, and it was starting to get dark.

Looking around, she realized that she had no idea where she was. "Uh-oh." She murmured aloud. "I'm never going to live this one down when I get back to camp." She stopped. "Wait. Why should I go back to camp? They are just going to make me go to…to…they'll force me to go with them to…" she stopped again, still unwilling to name her birth town. "I'll go back to Mirkwood. Yeah, that's it. They can find me back at the Palace." She placed her hand on the hilt of her sword, comforted by it's presence, and stalked off towards what she thought was the way to the Woodland Realm.

************

Meanwhile, as the sun began to set, Selinde and the others grew more and more worried. She kept her eyes on the last place she had seen Kaolith, and did not notice the others continuing to pack and store her past in the packs that were stashed in the room. All except for one of the Elves was preoccupied with this task. Selinde turned to see Lord Elrond fingering a small object in his hands. On closer inspection of the item, Selinde gasped.

"That's Kao's chain. Where did you get it from?" Neither of them knew that at that second, the young Ranger was reaching for it, as she was hopelessly lost.

"Yes, I know." The Elf Lord responded. "I was going to give it back to her...." He drifted off, looking towards the trees.

"But how did you get it?" Selinde asked again.

Strider had overheard the conversation and answered for his father. "I dropped it in hopes of leading them to us. It looks as if it worked."

"Did Kao know you did this?" Strider looked at his feet.

"No," he said. "But I needed something and that presented itself."

Lord Elrond held out his hand. "Here Selinde, you keep it and give it back as soon as she returns." With those words, they were once again reminded that the young ranger was still gone.

Selinde looked at the necklace in her hands. She had never really seen it up close, for Kao never took it off. It was a beautiful gold chain, with two charms. She knew one was from Kao's mother and the other from Strider. Upon closer inspection, the she-Elf discovered something else. And gasped with surprise.

"What is it Selinde," Strider questioned. But she was no longer there, as she had headed back for the secret room. When she got there, she kneeled down to look at the circlet inlaid upon the floor.

"Oh Valar!" She exclaimed. "Lord Elrond, Gandalf, can you explain this?"

The two elder's were not the only ones who came to see what she had discovered. They were all shocked to see that the clasp of the necklace was identical to the inlaid circlet.

************

Kaolith looked at the pine tree that she was sure she had passed at least three times before. "I am not lost." She reached to get her water skin, made a small hole in the dirt, and reached for her necklace. "Mirkwood is off to the left of where this points…oh no, where is it?" Kaolith had just reached for her chain, and noticed its absence for the first time. "No, no I can't have lost it, no. My mother gave that to me, she said it was all she had of her past. I can't lose it, I just can't." She stumbled to her feet, tears in her eyes, and took off, thinking she was going back the way she came.

When she passed the same pine tree for the fifth time, she collapsed to the ground and curled up against its trunk. It was late in the night, and against her better judgment, she fell into a fitful sleep, dreaming that her mother had come back and was berating her for losing the chain and its charm.

************

Back in the clearing, Gandalf and the others were pouring through the papers, looking for some clue that explained the coincidence. It was Estel, however, in his impatience to find Kaolith that stumbled over a possible answer.

"Guys, come look at this." They all crowded around, and read the passage to themselves.

One was lost, may never be found
When a twin was taken without a sound
With only a matching heirloom round her throat
They took her, those men, off in a boat

"So, what does that mean?" She didn't see the drawing of the chain and compass that accompanied it.

"I don't know." Gandalf said, doing some serious thinking. "Did any of you find anything like this when we searched Noor's place?" He asked.

They all shook their heads.

"Gandalf," Elrohir exclaimed. "We didn't go through all the stuff in his tent. We just looked for our weapons, and left everything else for Legolas's father to take care of."

"So the answer might be in Mirkwood." Gandalf thought again for a moment. "Selinde, have you ever seen another necklace like this one."

Selinde thought for a moment. "I've never had one, if that is what you are asking." She thought again. "I don't know though. Several of the Lady's wore jewelry. Even my mom, but I never paid that close of attention to it."

"Let us finish here," Lord Elrond said, "find Kao, and head to Mirkwood."

The males in the group were almost finished loading it all up. Thankfully it would all fit, though they would have to rest the horses a lot more often because of the extra weight. Selinde had walked to the edge of the woods, calling for Kao. She turned when she heard a cry from the others.

They all stood in awe. For when the last item was removed from the secret room, what had been Bethune, started to vanish. When the spell that had placed on the grounds was complete, not even the ruins were left to be seen, and soon it was as if it had never existed.

As they started to track Kao, Selinde looked back one more time. She would have sworn she saw the Palace in all its shimmering glory. But it was once again gone.

They would soon find the same of Kao, for as she slept, humans had found her and taken her away.

************

Kaolith woke up in a small dark room sometime late in the morning. Shaking her head to clear it, she looked around and took in her surroundings. She had no idea where she was, but this didn't really scare her, as she didn't remember falling asleep in the first place. Testing her feet, she wandered to the door and paled when she found it locked. She shook the handle a few times for good measure, then wandered over to the back wall and slumped down against it. Before she knew it, she had drifted off once more.

When next she awoke, to someone kicking her no less, the young Ranger paled and slid along the wall away from the Man's face. When she found herself in a corner, she tried to shrink further in on herself.

The Man leered, and finally got around to asking, "Who are you, young human? You can't be more than 10 years old, what is your name?"

The Man was confused as she paled and looked at the ground, eyes widening and shaking her head sporadically. "I am Zayn, your new master, what is your name? Speak, or you will regret it."

"I…I don't…I don't know."

The End