Disclaimer: Middle earth and all of the characters associated with the Lord of the Rings are the creations of J.R.R. Tolkien and are not mine. I do not own them. I am just borrowing them for a little while. Only the bad guys are mine and one good one later on.

Rating: Pg-13 for violence and major angst

Category: Action/ Adventure, Suspense, Mystery, lots of elf angst, and humor thrown in (what more could you want in a story?).

Warnings: Story becomes very angsty in chapters and quite dark near the end. Also note that this is a suspense story. If you don't like cliffhangers than I wouldn't suggest it. Of course it is finished now so you can just read the next chapter.

Author's note: This was my first fanfic story ever. And while the story itself has done well, it has more potential. The story was written mostly late a night without a lot of time for proof reading and it's not at the level of my other stories. And I admit to being a more confident writer now. As I am finally returning to working on the sequel to this story I was rereading this one and realized all the little mistakes. So, I am going to go back over it, yes all 19 chapters of it, and revise the entire thing. The first two chapters are being posted together and the others will be reposted as I get to them. For anyone who may reread this one as I go along, enjoy the revamped version. And for those who may discover this anew, welcome! Of course for new readers reviews are always appreciated. I love to know what readers think.

---The Choices We Make---

It is said that when Aragorn was twenty years of age, Lord Elrond told him his true identity and at that time he meet Arwen the Fair, Lady of Imladris and Lorien, then he went into the wild for nearly thirty years. He fought against the forces of Sauron, met the Istari Gandolf the Grey, and shared many adventures with friends. Here is one of them...

Year: 2961 of the Third Age

Ch. 1: The Journey North

I'm so unlucky that if I was to fall into a barrel of nipples I'd come out sucking my thumb.

- Freddie Starr

"Is anyone looking for him?" Elrohir asked the elf.

"Yes lord. Others are searching as we speak, but an elf not wishing to be found is hard to follow."

"Yes, but a ranger really wanting to find someone is hard to lose," Aragorn said determinedly.

Elladan's voice, which had been constantly in the background speaking to their injured companion, cut through their conversation when he cried out.

"No! Come on wake up! Please my friend! Open your eyes back up, you can do it!"

Elladan was actually shaking Glorfindel now and Elrohir looked down in horror as he realized the elder elf beneath his hands, except for his brother's shaking, was not moving.

Aragorn swore he would have been sick if he were not so frightened that he could not breath. Legolas and Glorfindel were two of his friends that he cared enough about to practically consider family.

This was a nightmare, he decided, and they were all trapped inside it. Suddenly thoughts of the last week came unbidden to the ranger's exhausted mind…

A week prior to that unfortunate dawn…

It was a fine ethuil morning for two travelers in the southern reaches of Middle Earth. It was already turning out to be a hot spring day, but not for the two companions embraced against the north western reaches of the Hithaeglir. Not far to the north were the southern reaches of the Mountain of Angmar and beyond that Forodwaith; which the Valar had destroyed long ago. To the south lay the Ettenmoors and the Hoarwell. In this northern land spring was just now starting to show its gentle beauty. The weather was crisp with the wind coming from the Icebay of Forochel to the west, but with spring starting to bloom the days where not uncomfortable. It was early morning as Aragorn son of Arathorn, Lord of the Dunedain and Legolas son of Thranduil, King of Mirkwood where packing up their camp to continue their journey north. Being this close to the mountains, they could not see the sun rising in the east. The mountains left long jagged shadows that would stretch over the land until the time came that the sun would poke its brilliant head over the crest of the mountains.

"Vys desiel, mellonamin?" said the blond haired elf. Are you ready, my friend?

The elf was dressed in the brown and green attire of the forest elves with a forest green cloak over his shoulders. On his back was a quiver, two finely carved hunting knives, and a long bow within easy reach nestled between his back and the quiver. He stood with his pack ready to go as he patiently waited for his companion to finish with his own.

"Ays," replied the ranger as he stood up and slung his pack onto his back. yes

He was dressed in dark well worn traveling gear with a long dark cloak wrapped close around him to fend off the chill morning air. He also had a bow and quiver on his back and at his side hung a great sword. The two travelers then started off together heading generally north-west in direction while keeping the mountains to the east at all times.

"I thought elves were supposed to possess patience, my friend," said the ranger with a glint in his eyes.

"You were taking so long, Estel, I thought that you might have fallen asleep. I know that traveling long distances is hard on young ones, I was merely concerned," Legolas answered with a thoughtful smile.

"Young one am I?" laughed Aragorn. " Now that you mention it, Old One, these mountains are a bit alarming, maybe we should turn our course around," he said as he moved a bit closer to the elf as if in need of protection from some unknown horror.

Legolas laughed as he pushed the young ranger away. The two continued to walk in companionable silence as the world awakened around them with the rising of the sun. The two had left Imladris only a week ago. The elf and the ranger were able to set a fair pace as compared to that of common men.

Three weeks ago a ranger came to Rivendell from the west. He reported that while guarding the Shire a strange occurrence had happened. He had found the corpse of an animal in the North Downs, which in itself, is not an earth-stopping discovery. It was the way he had found it that disturbed him. There was nothing left of the animal but bones. But upon further inspection there was no sign of animal teeth marks or the signs left behind from skinning. For some reason he had the feeling that something fell had gotten the animal. He searched the area and found two more such occurrences. The other two animals where farther to the north of the downs and in all of the cases no tracks of any kind could be found to explain what had happened to the animals. He feared that something vile might have wondered down from Angmar or out of the surrounding mountains that threatened the sanctity of the Shire. Legolas had been visiting Estel in Imladris when the report came. The two, being bored and driven out of their minds by Elladan and Elrohir, had jumped at the excuse to get away from the two twins and share in an adventure. The two were to follow the mountains to the border of Angmar and see if they found anything to explain what might have happened. Angmar's borders of old where only a night and a bit away from where the two were now.

So far on their journey they had not found anything out of the ordinary. The two friends walked the whole morning, stopped for a midday meal and then continued on, teasing each other in good humor along the way.

There came across the field a slight whirlwind of sorts, no more than a gentle breeze caressing the grass. Nothing could be heard except for the soft sigh of the grass. A mist of sorts that even an elf would be hard pressed to see hovered in the field; if one could say a mist could hover. It hovered directly over Aragorn and Legolas's camp sight from the previous night. Then there came a smirk from the mist, which had anyone been there, they would have found astonishing considering there was no mouth to be seen. The mist was temped to follow the strangers, but night was falling and it sensed the approach of goblins near the mountains, and the goblins were nearer at hand. Then in the middle of the mist a pair of phantom lips appeared and broke into an evil grin. Just as quietly as it had come the mist shot off toward the mountains at lightening speed.

The two friends stopped later that day to take a rest since they were in no real hurry. Aragorn set down upon the grass and stretched his long legs in front of him whilst Legolas remained standing. Aragorn, who was raised by the elves and used to traveling with them, especially this one, paid him no heed. He was used to the never-ending energy they seemed to possess. As he looked up at his friend it was then he noticed that while his friend's face was calm and neutral his blue eyes kept scanning the horizon. With a frown it also came to him that sometime during the day his friend had started to carry his bow in his hand and not on his back as he had started out. He was just about to ask his friend what was wrong when Legolas' voice broke into his train of thought.

"Have you ever traveled to this land before, Aragorn?"

"No, I have not. I have been far to the south, but never this far north before. Why do you ask?"

"I feel a heaviness about this land. I can explain in not, but an uneasiness has been steadily growing in my mind the father north we go."

This brought an even bigger frown to Aragorn's young face. He had learned a long time ago to trust elven senses and to heed the warnings they felt.

"As of yet we have seen nothing that poses as a threat to the south, but perhaps there is something in this land after all. I will heed your warning my friend. We will proceed with more caution from now on. Have you any clue about what is troubling you?" the ranger asked.

"I have never encountered this feeling before, so I know not. The only thing I do know is that it is not orcs I am sensing. With our luck it could be anything from a balrog to Sauron himself," Legolas said with a ghost of a smile.

"What can I say, my friend, we are truly blessed by the Valar," replied Aragorn with a smile.

"I do not think Master Elrond would agree with you."

"I am inclined to agree," said Aragorn with a laugh, "I think ada has given us our own rooms in the healing wing." dad

"Us?" huffed Legolas, "I cannot help it if you must get yourself injured every time we journey together."

"If my memory serves me I think it was you that I dragged back to Rivendell the last time, after you were poisoned."

"Well, someone had to save you from that band of orcs. With as reckless as you are I am surprised you lived long enough to make it to manhood."

"Like I said before, we are blessed by the Valar," replied Aragorn and then he laughed a good and soul cleansing laugh.

"Sweet Eru," replied Legolas with a sigh, "maybe with our type of blessing we should never leave Imladris."

Then seeing the merriness of his friend he could not hold the series face he was forcing and began to laugh also. The two companions then continued on to the north. When it was close to dark they started to look for a place to stop for the night. A steady wind had started to blow by then and they looked for a place that would shield them from the cold. Legolas being an elf was hardly affected by the bite of the wind, but he knew if they could not find shelter Aragorn would be to cold to sleep tonight, and then neither would the elf. So, with that in mind they headed closer to the base of the Hithaeglir. Before they reached the foot of the mountains darkness had already ascended on the land.

It was hungry. That much it knew and that's all it cared about. Its usual prey was getting harder to find lately forcing it to wonder farther from its cave. It didn't know the reason why its food wasn't there. There were usually at least goblins about in this area. Right now it didn't care. It just knew it was hungry. It started to descend down the side of the mountain. Maybe something would be roaming down there in the valley. As it came closer to the foot of the mountain it's sharp night eyes caught movement. It saw two shapes heading toward the mountain. What great luck! A great surge of energy started to build in it and its mind was filled with visions of bloody fresh meat.

'But wait,' it thought as it calmed back down, 'they are heading to me. Let them come.'

Two malevolent ice blue eyes full of hunger watched the two unsuspecting prey draw nearer. When its prey drew closer it noticed two things. One, it was disappointed that neither of them were dwarves. For dwarves by far made the tastiest meal. And two, that the one with his hood pulled up seemed to glow faintly in the moonlight. Probably an elf, blast him. Normally, he would never have taken the risk in attacking an elf, but right now he didn't care, there was prey heading his way and he was hungry. He waited for them to come into range. For he knew his strength and he knew his range well. 'Just a little bit more... there,' it thought with a smile. With the unusual speed of its kind it raised its grayish white form from behind the rocks it was hiding behind and attacked.

By the time Aragorn and Legolas neared the mountains; night had set and with the darkness came the bitter cold of a northern land. Aragorn had his hood up to keep the chilly southeasterly wind from blowing down the back of his neck.

"Legolas, do your elven eyes see a rock out cropping that could shield us from the wind?" Aragorn asked as he turned his head to look at his friend.

But Legolas was paying him no heed. There it was again, thought Legolas. What is that noise? It sounds almost like stone scrapping on stone. Legolas let his gaze wonder over the mountain in front of them, but he could see nothing in the dark but rock. He could have sworn he heard something move higher up, but with the wind howling around the base of the mountains he could not be sure.


"Esgal," Legolas barely whispered to Aragorn above the clamor. be quiet

Legolas more heard than saw the stone that appeared out of nowhere to go flying at Aragorn. With all the speed the Valar graced the elves with Legolas wheeled around and pushed Aragorn out of the way with all his strength.

Sensing Legolas' uneasiness Aragorn was just about to draw his sword when in the blink of an eye Legolas turned toward him and shoved him roughly out of the away. Aragorn landed on the ground at the same time a huge rock collide with his friend. The force of the blow spun Legolas around in the air before he landed face down on the ground. When the rock struck him the bow was forced out of fingers that could no longer hold on to it and it landed several feet away from the prone elf.

Legolas pushed Aragorn out of the way, but for all of his speed his reaction couldn't clear him of the rocks path and he was clipped on his left side. Searing pain shot down his left side. He felt his body become weightless for a moment in time and his world spun as he soared through the air. Which ended quit abruptly when the ground came rushing up to meet him at full force. His side felt like it was on fire and dark spots danced across his vision. On the edge of his consciousness he was dimly aware that someone was speaking something he couldn't understand. Even if he could he didn't think he could hear it clearly above this irritating ringing coming from somewhere. Time seemed to slow and the ringing got louder until it eventually mixed in with the sound of his heartbeat. When he thought he wouldn't be able to stand that sound anymore or that his heart would explode the noises started to fade along with the searing pain in his side. With these sounds also went the weak grip on consciousness he was hanging onto and he slipped into the sweet dark void of unconsciousness.

Aragorn picked himself up off the ground and rushed to his friend's side not caring if all of Mordor was attacking right now. Legolas was laying face down with his left arm underneath him and his right arm sprawled out horizontally. His golden hair was spread out making a curtain over his face. Aragorn brushed the hair out of Legolas' face and noticed that his eyes were closed. Panic gripped at his heart as he reached out a hand to feel for a pulse and praying to Illuvator or whoever might be listening that his friend was not dead. He let out the breath he hadn't realized he was holding when he found one.

"Legolas can you hear me? Legolas, its Aragorn, can you hear me?" said Aragorn gently shaking his friend by the shoulders.

Aragorn never got the chance to inspect his friend further because a stone came crashing down next them and he was suddenly very aware that there was a hungry snow troll out for their heads. He drew the bow from his back, retrieved an arrow out of the quiver, and fired. The arrow hit the troll in the wrist, which to a troll normally does very little damage. But of all the useless, but lucky, shots ever fired this was by far the luckiest one. The arrow did little damage, but it hit the troll in the wrist as it was bringing a rock above its head to throw. The troll, not expecting this human to hurt it from so for away was caught of guard and dropped the rock on itself. Aragorn stood their gawking for a few stunned moments at his luck. Facing down a fully-grown troll of any kind by oneself is generally considered to be a bad idea by most of the sane people of Middle Earth, the wisest would tell you to flee. Aragorn was standing alone right now and with his prostrate friend lying helplessly at the base of the mountain he could hardly run. To make matters worse, when the troll was wounded, its violent temper got the best of it and it worked itself into a frenzy. The thing was beyond any type of reasonable thought now. All it could think about now was ripping that pesky human's head off.

"Sweet Eru, could our luck be any worse?" Aragorn cried as he drew his sword.

"Namaarie, mellon nin," Aragorn said as he held his sword up in salute to Legolas.

"Gurth goth lye!" yelled Aragorn as he charged up the slope toward the furious troll. Death to our foe!

Aragorn charged up the base of the mountain at the same time the troll, in its madness, came running full speed down at the ranger, howling and drooling all the way. As the two met the beast raised one of its massive arms in an attempt to separate Aragorn's head from his shoulders. Snow trolls are unusually fast for trolls, but Aragorn almost being more elven than human dodged under the troll's arm and scored a hit on the it's side as he ducked under the beast's arm. This succeeded in angering the already furious troll even more. Aragorn continued to dance around and out of the troll's reach, hacking at it a piece at a time. This dancing was tiring Aragorn quickly and he knew he could not keep this up much longer. To answer his question, as the wise would say, yes, things could always get worse. The fates seemed to have a sense of humor after all and wanted to prove this point.

The two friends were already in a desperate situation and as fate would have it their luck, or lack there of, held. As Aragorn danced around the troll and the troll stomped around the edge of the overhang trying to flatten the ranger the ground beneath them both gave way with a moan and sent them careening down the side of the mountain with a shower of rocks. Aragorn slid roughly down its rocky side and landed hard on the ground with pebbles falling all around him. He struck the bottom along with the rocks and his head painfully collided with one. His vision blurred and dimmed and the world seemed to tilt below him. In the back of his mind he knew that he must get up or Legolas and he would be doomed. His vision still misted with pain he brought his unsteadily arms underneath him and tried to push himself up. As he tried, pain flare in his head and the world tilted crazily as he fell back to the ground. His limbs and head become extremely heavy and felt as if they were sinking through the ground and he knew that unconsciousness was claiming him. As he slipped closer to the blackness he kept expecting to feel a killing blow fall from the troll, but it never happened. As the comforting void of unconsciousness came up to engulf him he knew that he had failed. Legolas and he were about to be helplessly slaughtered by the beast.

I'm sorry my friend, Aragorn thought.

And then darkness claimed him and he knew no more...


Author's Note:
For anyone who doesn't know - the year 2961 is 57 years before the events in the Lord of the Rings happen.

ethuil - translation is budding, meaning around Late Spring