Title: Calling All Contestants!
Summary: When six archers from different worlds and times are summoned to Rivendell, the result can only be the most epic archery competition in the history of the bow. Will we finally get an answer to the question everyone is asking: "Who is the greatest archer in the worlds?" Crossover, featuring characters from LOTR, Narnia, Avengers, Brave, the Hunger Games, BBC Robin Hood, and BBC Merlin.
A/R (Author's Rant, as opposed to the general Author's Note at the beginning of common stories):
1. None of these characters are ours. We stole them. Shamelessly. All of them.
2. We did a lot of research, but seeing as we are not the creators of the characters or worlds included in this story, we cannot claim to understand fully the delicate and detailed interworkings of the landscapes, cultures, and personalities of everything involved. This is our interpretation and twist of events. If you find errors (especially you LOTR nitpickers…I know you're out there!) please let us know cordially and hastily so that we may make changes as required. Or explain why we wrote it that way.
3. And now, a note from the Co-Author: I, Waves, 1) am not a figment of King Caspian the Seafarer's imagination and 2) resent being called a sidekick (on the poll). I think I am most definitely a part of the mainkick.
4) Go vote on the poll on my profile page if you haven't yet. Who do you think should win the Interworld Archery Competition? Also, updates will be sporadic (since Waves is a perfectionist and no, Waves isn't like Leon. Waves actually exists). So either subscribe/follow or check back later for updates.
Chapter 1: Collecting Contestants
A soft mist swirled around him, combing through the pale green blades of grass and nearly enshrouding the many silvery pools scattered throughout the woods. He could not catch sight of the sky above, though the green light descending through the leaves was inviting enough. Legolas' eyes narrowed as he scanned the drowsy scene before him. Why were his feet wet? Why was he furious at hobbits, who (as far as he could tell) were not present in the woods that surrounded him?
Something was wrong.
"Is that your name?"
Legolas whirled around to find the origin of the unfamiliar voice that had asked this question (a woman's voice), but his body barely obeyed. It was as if he was submersed in one of the pools, his limbs and mind made sluggish by the silvery water. To his surprise, standing near the woman who had spoken (a graceful looking lady with long brown hair and questioning gray eyes) were four others. The smallest of these was a young girl in a long turquoise dress with an unruly mass of flame-red curls. She sat beside a tree and was crying as if her heart would break. The next was a short, bearded man, and a little way off from the other three was another brunette (her hair was tightly braided, and she was wearing leggings, of all things) tensely leaning against a tree. She was a little shorter and seemed less kindly than the lady who had addressed him.
Strange. He should have noticed them sooner, especially the muttering bearded man and the crying girl. Cocking his head, Legolas inhaled sharply. There were no other sounds, no birds, wind, insects, or any other animal, yet this wood felt so…rich.
"Excuse me, good sir. Are you quite well?" the graceful woman asked.
His frown deepening, Legolas scanned the woods again. This was not Middle Earth, at least not any forest of Middle Earth with which he was familiar, and he had visited all of them. So where was this?
"Are you alright?" the woman persisted.
"I—I cannot remember," Legolas murmured. It was the most frustrating sensation—a lost, bewildered sort of haze hung over him, where all his important thoughts hovered just out of reach. He caught at one of them, but it flitted away too quickly. "The trees…they feel so old. And…young." Indeed, Legolas could have sworn he could actually feel them growing.
The tall brunette smiled. "Fear not, good sir. The feeling will subside in but a moment. You said something when first they brought you through the pool. 'Hobbits,' I think it was."
"Hobbits?" He did not see any hobbits around, and this was certainly not the Shire. "What is this place? The trees are quiet as if all that happens here is truly nothing at all."
The woman nodded thoughtfully. "Is it not sad? In my country, the trees dance in the wind and speak to us the things of the past while we drink ices and wine."
"That's just stupid," the shorter brunette snapped. "Trees don't talk, they don't dance, and they certainty don't sip iced drinks!"
"I realize this is hard for you to understand, Katniss," the tall brunette reasoned smoothly, "but sometimes other worlds open up to us for some reason or another without a logical explanation. We must be patient and have faith that there is a reason behind all of this."
"Worlds?" Legolas asked, even more confused than before as evidenced by his furrowed brow.
"That's what she keeps saying, but I think it's just some crazy dream." The one called Katniss snorted and promptly sat against the tree she had been leaning against.
Legolas studied the short, bearded man who had fallen to his knees, gazing into one of the pools, still droning to himself about someone named Miriam while tears shimmered in his shining eyes. It was a sad sight (though the elf could hardly spare the courtesy of inquiring as to the man's troubles while his own were not yet sorted).
The tall woman shook her head at the girl called Katniss and responded coolly, "From what I have gathered, we have all been brought from different worlds—and maybe even different times—to this wood."
"Impossible." Nothing was making sense. Legolas' head began to throb with an excess of information that made about as much sense as a dragon standing guard over a pile of sand. His head had never throbbed like this before, not even the day after Gimli's absurd drinking game back in Edoras. Was this an illusion that only the most powerful magic in Middle Earth could conjure? Was this just a dream? Was he dead? Surely this was not Valinor. It seemed too… apathetic.
"Well, unless you have a better thought, it's all we have to go on," the woman said, a little stiffly. "If you insist upon avoiding discussion of this delicate subject (which you are obviously having some difficulty accepting and understanding), will you at least tell me your name?"
Feeling light-headed, Legolas reached out to steady himself against a nearby gnarled tree. As soon as his fingers touched the bark (it was throbbing, throbbing, throbbing with light and joy and life) all of his thoughts rushed back, and it was well that he was gripping the tree, for he would have otherwise fallen over with the weight of them.
He had found his memory.
He had been hunting goblins near Moria with Gimli. They had already explored the Glittering Caves of Helm's Deep as well as the organic wonders of Mirkwood and were returning to Balin's tomb for a proper remembrance (and to see if any mithril remained—they were certainly not there merely for nostalgia's sake).
Without the threat of the Balrog (and also taking into mind that most of the goblins had fled after the fall of Sauron), hunting goblins was a much less dangerous sport than before. On the other side, Gimli had expressed some hope that they would find a way through the mountain and maybe, one day soon, see about getting the secret door in the walls of Moria repaired from the Watcher in the Water's fury.
"Think about it, Elf," he had said, grinning and elbowing Legolas none too gently (in the leg). "T'would make a grrreat summer getaway, when you get tired of hunting stags in the high heat of midsummer. You could stay nice and cool inside here and never mind about chasing rrabbits all day!"
When they had reached Balin's tomb, Gimli had looked rather doleful, so Legolas decided to give his friend a moment or two of silence, alone with the grave of his father's friend. Careful to keep the stillness of the mountain unbroken, Legolas trod soundlessly through the stone hallways (he was an elf, after all), glancing at each pile of slowly disintegrating bones and wondering if the long dead creature was one he'd killed long ago when the Fellowship had made its way through. A dull piece of metal caught his eye. It was an Elvish arrowhead.
Suddenly, there came a thud and a rattle behind him; two voices yelped at each other. Legolas spun, an arrow on his bow string, but instead of bow-legged goblins, he saw, staring up at him from the dimly lit side of the crumbled hallway, two filthy hobbits.
"Hobbits!" he exclaimed, lowering his bow in relief. "What brings you here to the Mines of Moria?" He wanted to add, "And how did you arrive here, when last I heard, you were in the Shire for the rest of your days growing sideways?", but his intuition told him they would eventually explain.
"Legolas!" Pippin exclaimed, face alight with delight. "Just the elf we wanted to see."
Then Merry and Pippin rushed forward (Legolas shook his head, enjoying the sight of the two curly heads bouncing joyously above those ridiculously large, hairy feet) and embraced him. (Legolas would have preferred the usual Elven greeting of clasping forearms.) Despite their smallish size, they nearly knock him over in their excitement.
"I must know," Legolas said after greeting them properly. "What brings you here? Surely it is a strange place to find two hobbits, even two of your boldness and fame." He replaced the arrow in his quiver as a courtesy.
The hobbits exchanged a quick look and Merry said, "I say, Legolas, you wouldn't mind…um…humoring us for a minute, would you?"
Legolas quirked an eyebrow at him and replied, "Humoring you? In what, may I ask?"
"Close your eyes."
Legolas frowned at the unexpected request. What on Middle Earth…? He shook his head. "If this is a trick, I should warn you that Gimli stands on the far side of the hall and will not hesitate to avenge me in the event of any mischief."
"Of course we would never do anything horrible...like take you…or anything," Pippin stammered.
Merry laughed nervously, gesturing something to Pippin. "Oh, just…come on, Pip, just put it on!"
Pippin slipped something on his finger and grabbed Legolas who had opened his mouth to shout for Gimli to come (for surely they were up to no good) only to gasp as the air flooded from his lungs. Then everything around him turned blue and began to crush him, drowning him (he seemed to be in water, yet now he could breathe; nothing made sense). And then they were rushing upward, the three of them, to step out of a pool hardly larger than a puddle in a misty wood that felt so old and so young all at the same time…
Legolas clenched his fist and looked down at his soggy, muddy boots (you see, the hobbits had rather forgotten to lead the poor elf out of the pool, and Legolas had only just wandered out when his senses began to return). He had come from one of the pools. But how was that, unless… gateways. They were gateways to other worlds. The woman was right—it was a sort of…wood between the worlds. How strange, yet he should have guessed it at once. Frowning again, Legolas searched the ground around him. Where was his bow?
"That is your name then? Master Hobbits?"
"What?" Legolas eyed the brown haired woman with new eyes. He no longer felt sluggish (either in mind or body) now that his memory had returned (thanks, it appeared, to the magical trees of this wood). "Where are they?"
"Where are whom, Master Hobbits? I and the others are still here. I am Queen Susan of Narnia." She made a little curtsey and smiled, as if hoping an introduction would restore his sanity (which she seemed to think was somewhat lacking though he could hardly blame her).
"What?" Legolas shook his head to clear it and remember his manners. "A pleasure to meet you your highness, of course," ("Please, just Susan," the queen replied, flushing a little), "but my name isn't Hobbits. I am Legolas of the Woodland Realm. Where are the hobbits?"
Her smile finally fell, as if she thought she'd had it all figured out only to realize she was actually more lost now than she'd been before.
"Are they alright?" Legolas asked, gesturing to the weeping red-head and then the moaning man.
"Merida? Yes," Susan said decidedly. "She was alone when they brought me here—apparently (if I understand their reasoning) they got her first because she was a girl and the smallest. When they explained it to her, she nearly knocked them both down. As for the distressed man—" (she politely nodded to him rather than pointing), "I think he will be fine…with a bit more time." She hesitated, and then added, "If "Hobbits" is not your name, then what are hobbits?"
"Hobbits are Halflings, small folk, about the size of a small child." Legolas' eyes roved about the forest, searching for any sign of them. He could not remember what had happened after they appeared in the wood, only that a few seconds later he was staring about confusedly, wondering what he was doing here and who all these people were. He still had not really cleared up that last bit.
"I 'em not a chil'!" The red haired girl stopped sobbing just long enough to shout this with a furious glare at Legolas (she had apparently only heard the last bit of his statement and thought he was referring to her). She threw a small rock at him; he moved in time to avoid getting hit.
"Of course you're not a child, Merida," Queen Susan replied gently, resting a hand on the girl's trembling shoulder. "We were discussing some other individuals." She looked again at Legolas. "You mean the two who brought us here, then? I thought they were young dwarves."
"Dwarves?" a familiar, indignant voice chimed in. "Well, I'm offended. You, Merry?"
"Most certainly, Pip. How could they mistake our lovely feet for those of an ugly dwarf?"
Legolas turned to find the two trouble-making hobbits standing in one of the pools with a muscular, strangely dressed, and very drowsy man behind them.
"What is the meaning of this?" he asked them, reaching for one of his knives.
"Don't get angry at us, Master Elf," Merry said with a laugh, clearly noticing the threatening gesture. "We were sent by Elrond."
"Asked us 'imself," Pippin chimed in with a wink, completely oblivious to the potential threat. Susan caught Legolas' eye, and he reluctantly drew his hand away from the knife. He watched as the hobbits led the clearly dazed man out of the pool and left him standing there beside it. "So. We're all here now, right?"
"Hm…" Merry looked around the circle of bewildered, confused, and furious people (respectively), and nodded. "Yes. Six of them, mostly sane."
"Right!" Pippin rubbed his hands together eagerly, then something seemed to dawn on him. "Um. Merry, which pool is the one we go through to get back home?"
Legolas shook his head as the two entered a suddenly hurried and whispered conference. The dazed man they had brought with them (up out of one of the pools? Despite it being the only logical explanation, seeing it still did not make much sense) staggered a little, looking around him in bewilderment. Carefully reaching out a hand to steady him, Queen Susan asked him, "And from whence have these nice hobbits taken you?"
The man jerked back until he could lean against a tree, glanced around at the strange group, and frowned. "Who the h— are you? What am I doing here? Are you from S.H.I.E.L.D.?" (Strange. Legolas mused to himself. Touching the trees had restored his memory but not this man's. Perhaps it was because he was an elf.)
"You were kidnapped, like the rest of us," fumed Katniss, rolling her eyes. "At least now I'm not the only one not dressed like a Capitol designer on a medieval rampage."
"I am Queen Susan of the land of Narnia," said the queen, quietly ignoring the outburst. "This man (Legolas raised an eyebrow at this) is Legolas of the Woodland Realm, and these others are Princess Merida of…of…"
"I'm not tellin' ye where I'm from," the red-haired girl snarled. "And I'll shoot you if you ask again."
Susan shrugged. "As I said, Princess Merida, Mistress Katniss of Panem—"
"Everdeen," Katniss put in sulkily. "My last name is Everdeen."
"Mistress Katniss Everdeen," Susan amended, "and this, I think, is Robin Hood, though he doesn't seem to be entirely …there, if you know what I mean."
At this moment, Robin Hood looked up as though he'd been shocked and gazed at Susan rather wistfully, mouthing "Marian" (not "Miriam", as Legolas had thought before).
"Well," said the new man, twisting around a little as if to look for something on his back. "I've never heard of any of those places. But I'm Clint—er, Hawkeye. From…America."
"America?" Susan frowned, as if it sounded familiar. "America."
"Yer all crazy!" Merida snapped, suddenly, fresh tears in her eyes.
"Not as crazy as your hair," Katniss sniffed. Susan raised her hands to forestall further pointless arguing. "Besides, America is long gone."
Legolas sighed and put a hand to his head. Humans. He turned to look at Merry and Pippin, who still had distressed looks on their faces, ignoring the sudden heated debate among the humans concerning the supposed existence and extinction of a place called America.
"I know Elrond must have a reason to bring a peculiar group of strangers to this place," he said to them quietly, "but what is next, and how do we get back?"
"He can't remember which pool we're supposed to go through," Pippin said, shrugging.
"Me? I can't remember?" Merry shot him a glare. "Don't be so hasty to accuse me, Peregrin Took. Elrond told both of us. How are we supposed to get back to Rivendell if you can't keep a simple thing like which pool is home in your head?"
Legolas rubbed his forehead again. "We are going to Rivendell?" At the hobbits' nod, he felt an insatiable urge to accept Gimli's next offer for another drinking contest. "Eru above, I could have trodden there in a less than a fortnight! It's this pool, hobbits." He pointed with his foot at the pool they had brought him up through. "I will speak with Master Elrond about his choice of messengers."
Merry looked properly chastened while Pippin tried to protest and explain the situation, but after a minute, Legolas just shook his head and asked, "How do we get through the pool, little hobbits?"
"Rings," Merry replied, and held up his finger, on which Legolas noticed a sleek green band. "Not to worry. I don't think Celebrimbor or Sauron made these…" A frown creased his brow for a moment. "Anyway, get everyone to hold hands or something, will you?"
Legolas looked back, preparing the words to explain to the motley group that they all needed to be holding hands for this travel business to work (and noticing, by the looks on Hawkeye and Katniss' faces, that they would likely bite his head off if he suggested such a thing). Fortunately, Susan already had hold of a somewhat calmer Merida and had taken Robin Hood's hand (he looked dazed for another reason now), and was snapping at Katniss to get off her high horse and come on as well as encouraging Hawkeye that everything was going to be fine. Legolas took ahold of Merry's and Hawkeye's hands, hoping the encounter would not last long.
Once they were all linked, Merry stepped into the pool, and it was down, down, down. Greenish lights and that heavy, suffocating feeling returned, but Legolas could breathe normally this time. He didn't feel wet. And then suddenly they were all tumbling into the Council Circle at Rivendell, dry and breathless (though sprawled in an undignified manner across the ground) and feeling much less bewildered (apparently the wood had a strange effect on everyone's senses) though every bit, if not more, annoyed.
"Strangers from distant lands," said the voice of Elrond Half-Elven, who stood at the edge of the circle. "You have been summoned here to put the minds of many at ease. You will compete or you will fall. Each one of you is bound to this fate, this one question, which will be answered here at the first Interworld Archery Competition."
To be continued…