Rating: PG-13 to R (Not for the faint of heart and the squeamish type. :P )

Feedback: Constructive criticisms will be kept close to the heart and flames will be used to power the balrog that I'll be sending after you. LOL! Please review!

Spoilers: None that I can think of.

Archive: Feel free to but please e-mail me and let me know the URL so that I can go and have a look-see.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of J.R.R. Tolkien's characters or worlds. Everything recognizable belongs to Tolkien and everything else belongs to me. I did not obtain permission to use these characters and I'm not receiving money for this story. I merely take them out for a spin and will return them in one piece... more or less. *g*

Summary: An unexpected accident brought Aragorn and Legolas to a village seeking for help. While recuperating, the young ranger was accused of a murder that he did not commit. A brutal sentence was carried out and the two grievously injured friends were cast out and left to die in the wild. Will they make it back to Rivendell alive? Was Aragorn really innocent as he claimed to be or was there some other explanation behind the incident?

Author's Note: Much like Cassia and Sio, when Tolkien said that Aragorn was raised in the house of Elrond, I assumed that Elrond took him in as his adopted son. That will make Elrond's twin sons, Elladan and Elrohir, his adopted brothers. And Aragorn is in his early twenties in this story. No idea how old Legolas is supposed to be but I am assuming that he is younger than Elladan and Elrohir.

I'd also like to thank Cassia and Sio for allowing me to take Celboril out for a spin. :D

My thanks go out to Rhonda: For your constant 'poking', for all the evil ideas that you have contributed and also for being my beta! Love you much!! *hugs* I couldn't have done it without you!! :D

Additional Disclaimer: I am not a forensic scientist and the CSI work mentioned in this story was purely fictional and has no scientific basis. Don't sue me for I have no money. All you may get is this fic. :D

// = elvish translations
* = thoughts
# = flashback


Chapter 1 - The Unexpected Fall

Aragorn lay in a bed of wild daisies, his left hand cushioned beneath his head. He stared up into the morning sky and sighed contentedly. It had been quite some time since he last traveled away from home without a mission on his hand. He had enjoyed the past few days' journey to nowhere, travelling solely by instinct along with his faithful companion.

Beside him, Legolas Greenleaf watched as the human smiled to himself. Unconsciously, he twirled his fingers on his free hand around the fragile stem of a small yellow flower. The elf sat with his legs drawn up towards his chest, his chin resting lightly on his knees. Several butterflies found their way to the daisy field and danced gracefully atop the soft petals, perching on the yellow and purple flowers occasionally to enjoy the sweet nectar. Legolas raised his right hand and extended it towards a butterfly as it flew past him. Instead of shying away, the beautiful black and orange insect landed lightly on the elf's forefinger and folded its wings as Legolas brought it closer to him. With great care, the elf prince stroke the delicate wings while he spoke gently to the creature and the insect moved its wing in acknowledgement.

Aragorn watched the elf in amazement, "I know you elves could talk to trees and all but I never could understand how you do it." The ranger huffed as a butterfly landed on his nose, causing the insect to take flight again and it joined its other companions in the field. The human turned his head sideways and eyed Legolas curiously. "It looked like it could actually understand you."

Legolas' only reply for the human was a mischievous smirk. After whispering to the butterfly that was still settled comfortably in his finger, he lifted his hand towards the ranger. The insect took off and flew straight at the human, dancing a few inches above his face. It knew that the man would do it no harm for the fair elf had told it so. The elf merely wanted to demonstrate to the human that there was intelligence in his small fluffy friend.

Aragorn batted at the insect but taking great care so as not to harm it in anyway. The butterfly however dodged the assault with ease, mocking the man in its own unique way.

Legolas laughed at the scene, his voice bright and merry. He had thought the trip to be a waste of time and energy when Aragorn's adopted brothers, Elladan and Elrohir, put forth the suggestion. They insisted that the two friends should spend some time off and relax. What surprised him the most were both Lord Elrond and Lord Glorfindel agreed. And so, their journey began three days ago. Neither of them liked the idea of taking a mount so they both agreed to set out on foot. The late May weather was perfect for travelling, neither too cold nor too warm. The elf and man traveled light, taking with them only what was absolutely necessary.

Pushing himself off the ground after picking up the packs beside him, the elf made his way over to Aragorn and tossed one of the packs onto the unsuspecting human's chest making him jump. Legolas chuckled at the human's reaction and dodged swiftly as the pack came flying back towards his face. The elf caught the pack in mid-air before it sailed out of reach and swung both packs over his shoulder. As he reached down to retrieve his bow and quiver, he saw Aragorn push himself up into a sitting position and stretch in the warm morning sun.

"Don't tell me you are planning on staying here all day," Legolas stated with a small chuckle. "Come and get your pack. I'm not going to carry your things for you."

"Why not, we *are* here to relax, are we not?" the human retorted playfully and took in a deep breath. "It's nice here," he swept his hand over the field, "nice hill, lovely flowers..."

"And lots of pretty butterflies to keep you company if you should decide to stay," the elf smirked as he prepared to strap his quiver onto his back.

Aragorn stared at Legolas in mock terror. "NO! Not the butterflies!!" The ranger paused, a mischievous smile materialized on his face. "But if you insist on leaving..." Aragorn wiggled his eyebrow at the confused elf.

Legolas' eyes widened when he saw Aragorn leapt onto his feet and bolted down the hill that they had spent the night on.

"Last one down catches tonight's dinner!" the human shouted as he ran past the bewildered elf.

"Hey! What about your pack?!" Legolas called out but Aragorn was long gone. The elf swore under his breath and darted after the human, his bow and quiver still clutched tightly in his hand. The agile elf closed the distance between him and Aragorn in a short while; his powerful long strides brought him closer to the ranger in each passing second. Reaching out with his free hand, he jabbed Aragorn on the waist when he was within range eliciting a squeal from the human. The ranger's steps faltered for a fraction of a second but it was all Legolas needed to overtake the human.

Shouting a victorious cry, Legolas glanced back over his shoulder at Aragorn as he ran down the hill, his long blond hair whipped about his face in the rushing wind.

"Hurry up Strider! You're lagging behind!" the elf laughed and resumed his course.

Aragorn grunted loudly behind the elf and sprang after his friend. He had no intention for this elf to win the race... or at least not win by much. He was slowly catching up to the elf prince and that made him wonder if Legolas was deliberately slowing his pace to accommodate him.

"I will catch you, you sleazy elf!" The ranger shouted but his words were lost in the wind.

Legolas' feet barely touched the grass that he was treading on he but was forced to jump over a large stone lying in his path. The light-footed elf leapt into the air as he neared the obstacle and landed on the other side with ease. Hurrying forward before the human could crash into him, Legolas skipped a few steps ahead as he regained his footing but the ground beneath him crumbled suddenly without warning and instead of landing on solid ground, he plunged into nothingness.

Tailing closely behind the elf, Aragorn leapt over the boulder seconds before he saw the prince disappear into the ground. Shocked, the ranger dug his heels into the grass trying to stop and prevent himself from following Legolas into the hole but the momentum carried him forward. His feet slipped on the damp grass and he skidded into the opening after his friend.


To Be Continued...

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