Hello everyone! Chapter 4 now! I took some liberties with it, some additional author's notes toward the end. This is... well, fresh out of my still unsaved word file. In other words, I didn't re-read it yet. So it might be rougher than usual. It's one AM right now, so I think I'll just correct it tomorrow... or rather, in a few hours. This is my first version. PLEASE be forgiving if you catch this version!

For complete disclaimer, please check chapter 1.

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Another Look

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Aragorn's body spiralled down, gaining speed as it crashed towards the forest floor. The man had no time to thank his good star for the fact that he did not hit more than three or four small tree limbs on his descent before he landed. Luck was once again watching over Aragorn as he fell onto two of the spiders remaining on the floor.

Even though the contact broke the fall, it did not make it painless. So much so that, as the man landed, he could barely gather the energy to realise that he had indeed fallen from the tree.

His mind was sluggishly moving along to the realisation that he was back to where he started. With the spiders surrounding him, on ground level.

He summoned enough strength to raise his head and look towards death instead of calmly accepting his fate. Clutching at the small knife, which he marvelled at not having lost, Aragorn swore he would not go without making the spiders think twice about capturing humans in the future.

The two bodies beneath him were out of action, most probably dead. He could see... many spiders coming down from the tree, but he couldn't spare the energy to count them.

They advanced towards him with the assurance of the victor, certain that there would be no more resistance. Before they could come close however, one of them stopped and murmured a word. In seconds, the rest of the group was repeating it, fear and anger tainting the word. Beleglöké. The Mighty Serpent.

Aragorn had only ever heard of them. They were a race of giant lizards which had migrated from the south. His mind sought to remember more detail even as the spiders gradually deserted the clearing, shrieking with fearful defiance.

Unique lizards because their... their legs were situated under the body. More speed and agility than a normal human being. Intelligent enough to speak common. Articulated claws. Main food source... arachnids, humanoids.

He also remembered how unusual it was to see one so far up north of Mirkwood, their skins were quite sensitive to the cold.

With a sigh, Aragorn realised that he was probably in deeper trouble than with the spiders.

He took a deep breath to calm himself and assess his condition. He probably couldn't walk on his left leg, the pain there intense and focused. His left hand throbbed and his stomach wound was bleeding again. There was a laceration on his arm and one across his chest. He couldn't remember when or where he'd gotten them.

The man knew he didn't have much time before the predator came into the clearing, attracted by the smell of blood and the sound of the spiders' departure.

His left shoulder was bruised and difficult to even think of moving. Aragorn understood that he had probably landed on it.

He put the small knife down to his right and managed to tear off a piece of his tunic which he wrapped tightly around his burned left hand. He could move the arm, but only barely. There was no real strength behind any of the movements he could achieve with it.

He heard the steady walk of a four-legged being threading towards his position. The rest would have to wait.

Aragorn opened his eyes wide, absorbing as much of the light as possible, trying to keep the exhaustion and the pain at bay.

His options were to either fight, which he knew would lead to his eventual death, to take flight, and he understood that he wouldn't go far in this state, or to hide.

He looked around himself and all he could see was the entry to the cave and the trees surrounding him. On one hand, he wasn't sure he could gather enough energy to climb up a tree, and on the other, he knew hiding in a cave was probably the dumbest thing one could do. No escape route, easily trapped and overtaken.

If only Gandalf were there. Or Legolas. Or even his overprotective brothers... He slowly made his way to a standing position, knowing his thoughts futile and ridiculous. He would always wish for help, but always ended up alone. At least, he thought, it teaches me self-sufficiency!

The sounds were closer now, within hearing distance of a normal human being. Close. Too close.

A Beleglöké is no mindless spider.

Aragorn took hold of the same tree limb he'd started climbing a few moments ago and tried to raise his body. He cursed when he found himself unable to do so, his limbs too heavy and clumsy.

Now was NOT the time for his body to finish giving up.

He reaffirmed his hold on the branch and, using his good leg to propel himself from the trunk, managed to haul himself on top of it. Good. Just a few more now.

With a chuckle, the man realised that he was patronising himself. Another thing to make his foster family doubt his sanity.

He managed to get about 15 feet from the ground before the Beleglöké made its appearance bellow him.

It was much bigger than he had anticipated. At least as tall as he and a good 10 feet long. He stopped moving, stopped breathing, hoping against hope that the creature wouldn't smell him.

Its eyes were yellow and radiated malevolent intelligence. Teeth the size of Aragorn's small dagger adorned its mouth. Its tail was long and seemed to have a life of its own as it moved around to counterbalance the creature's weight. The scales were green and brown, making for easy camouflage in the forest. It seemed made for lethal speed, its elongated body somewhat slim and unresisting to the air, yet strong and dangerously accurate.

Aragorn doubted he'd ever seen any creature look more threatening than this one, although he was pretty sure he'd met more dangerous... while at full health.

He watched it and realised that this Beleglöké wasn't hunting. It would have been more aware, more alert. It seemed to walk lazily, not bothering to thread stealthily or nearly fast enough. Aragorn kept a wary eye on the creature as he relaxed his body to avoid muscle cramps and slowly, noiselessly extended his body on the tree limb. Getting as comfortable as possible.

A sudden flurry of movement almost had the man jump and fall from the tree, but he was too well-trained to jump in any other way than mentally.

The beleglöké had moved so fast Aragorn had barely seen it. It had snatched a lingering spider before Aragorn could tell it was there.

Maybe the creature WAS hunting.

With a few snaps of teeth, the spider was crushed and devoured.

The man couldn't restrain a somewhat satisfied smile as he heard the noises from the beleglöké's feeding.

He seemed to have been unnoticed till now, and he only hoped it would remain that way. The beleglöké raised its head as he thought this and Aragorn held his breath and waited warily to see if the beast had heard his thoughts.

With a last bite of teeth, the beleglöké turned around and exited the clearing. The relief had Aragorn's vision clouding over once again, and this time, he simply laid his head on the tree limb, waiting the end of the dizzy spell.

When his head cleared, he cursed at the realisation that, though the immediate danger was past, he was still in an unknown corner of Mirkwood, lost, wounded, and in the bad company of one of the most dangerous predators in middle-earth.

End part 4

A/N: The creature. My own invention although I think if I had researched more deeply, I wouldn't have had to create one. It was great fun creating it and designing it anyway... I must thank Laura for her help in finding the name and certain ideas for the creature in question. For those of you who may need a more complete mental picture of it, think of it as a dinosaur-like type of lizard. A bit like a Velociraptor with four-legged capacity. It's how I think of it anyway. *g* Beleg: Mighty Löké: Serpent/snake

Review responses:

Leggylover03: That's right, where IS Legolas? *g* he should be there, shouldn't he? I mean, leaving Strider to this... creature. Mean. But hey, we should see him soon. *g* Dontcha worry about that. Thank you!

Jadelyn Rashwe: Yeah, it was a cliffie... but look! *points at own ending* I made it up to you. Not a real EVIL cliffie. *g* *is proud of self* thanks Chiquita!

Dshael: One: Haven't got a clue how that happened. Never touched the chapters after uploading them. Silly thing. *g* Two: That's one of the things that always fascinated me about Aragorn. His willpower. He's the King of Gondor, he's the one who really knows how to handle people. I thought he should handle himself before others. I'd handle him though... if he asked me. *g* Three: I miss that story, I miss the way she characterises the men. It's one of the few stories of the sort that I do appreciate. I'll poke her if you whip her into writing. *g* Four: I love you too. I can read Aragorn as the damsel, I mean, if I couldn't, I'd be dead from withdrawal. But it gets TIRING! So, got yourself kidnapped again, not gonna try to escape? Going to... wait for help. Yes. Of course. *g* Five: Wow, that's a really, really nice compliment, especially 'cause I was worried about that. I try not to add too much pre-knowledge so that I don't fall into patterns and roads previously explored. I'm glad it's something of a success... *bg* It's the most I'll get out of you? But. but. Alright then. *pouts* Thank you loveling. Muchly appreciated. *bows*

Lady Cassandra Skywalker: Lemme guess, Star Wars fan? *bg* am very glad you're liking the story Chiquita! Legolas gets tortured plenty enough for my tastes! Time to see how Aragorn goes!

Alright, updates. I really don't know when the next one will be but I expect it be rather soon as well. Tentatively scheduled within the next two days.