Author's Note: The characters of this story and of anything Lord of the Rings are not my own, but the works of the master author, J.R.R. Tolkein. This story takes place between Rivendell and Moria…I like to think of it as one of many adventures we've yet to learn about. (Slight AU with a minor detail or two.)

Each chapter has been revised and updated. Enjoy!

The Strength of One Small

By Lady Jaina

Chapter One-A Fall in the Darkness

How long had the fellowship been running? Frodo tried to sort out the events of the day as he ran. Then he remembered that the excitement had begun right after the evening meal when Legolas first sensed approaching dangers. Sam had doused the fire while Pippin and Merry had lapped up the remainder of the rabbit stew. Then Sting had begun to glow bright blue. The orcs had come upon them from out of nowhere. Legolas and Gimli had bought them time to escape under the cover of darkness. The orcs still pursued them.

It night was fast approaching again, and Aragorn knew that they would have to face the orcs before darkness overtook the path. The endless running could not continue. At last he was able to give a signal to Gimli and Legolas, who relayed it to Boromir and Gandalf. They stopped immediately, their enemy closing in. The ranger yelled, "Frodo-Merry-Pip-Sam, run for cover-NOW!" In truth, it sounded more like Fro-Mer-Pip-Sam, but his point was easily conveyed.

Arrows began whizzing through the air, and behind them the hobbits heard the clash of steel. Frodo looked back to see his companions engaged in a fierce battle with more orcs than he cared to count. Legolas launched arrow after arrow at lightning speed. Gimli dismembered more than one orc with his crazed but methodical axe swinging. The two men fought back to back as the wizard's talents eluded more than his fair share of the beings. They were successful. The orcs had focused on them and failed to notice the hobbits' flight. Suddenly, Frodo found himself alone. Where his cousins had gone, he did not know. Hearing the sound of heavily armed footsteps behind him, he began to run, but his to his dismay, his feet found only air. The ringbearer's eyes widened in terror as he realized he was falling. He tried to scream as he clawed the empty air, but no sound escaped his throat before he landed with a jarring thud on the ground below, letting out a scream as something pierced his chest. All went black as his scream was lost in the darkness of the night.

Legolas' eyes snapped away from the battle briefly as he heard the distant cry, but he quickly dismissed it as an animal. Foul orcs. He loathed them. For once he was glad of Gimli's axe and fierce determination. He hadn't wanted to admit it at the beginning, but the dwarf was a useful asset.

Aragorn's eyes were an icy gray steel as he and Boromir fought side by side. Legolas might have been his first choice as a partner in battle, but the Gondorian was no coward. Boromir had great skill in battle. Though Aragorn still questioned the intentions of the steward's son, he could not deny the strategical benefit Elrond had obviously foreseen. Finally, they managed to drive the last of the remaining orcs back into the shadows, giving them some time until the enemy could regroup and come at them again.

"More will return, we must make haste," Gandalf cautioned, somehow sensing Aragorn's dark thoughts.

Aragorn nodded his agreement and called loudly to the hobbits. A few moments later three filthy hobbits appeared before them, and Boromir had to bite back a laugh at their appearance, which was quite obvious even in the light of the waxing moon. Gimli didn't suppress his own laugh as Pippin held out his hands. "Berries, anyone? We found a nice patch of bushes. Don't worry, we saved you some."

Merry elbowed his friend, eliciting an indignant cry. "You mean Sam made you save some."

"'Course I did, they did all the hard work, after all, Peregrin Took."

Legolas' gray eyes flashed over them, "Where is Frodo? He should be back by now."

Aragorn joined the elf in scanning the tree line as Pippin shrugged and replied, "One minute he was there, then he wasn't. He probably didn't hear you, or he found his own berry bush."

"I don't think so. This is unlike him. He's not the prankster you are, Peregrin," Gandalf replied grimly with a shake of his head, "We need to find him."

Frodo woke to voices above him. Straining, he made out Gandalf's voice, "Meriadoc, step lightly-that's a long way down!" The ring bearer tried to call out, but only managed to make a faint rasp. His hope plummeted when he heard his friends turn to leave.