AN: Okay Peoples. I'm been working and RL is really making a bid for all my free time lately. Hopefully I got things back on track. Keeping fingers crossed. This story is going to probably be in three or four parts. I don't know haven't typed it up yet but it's all written so no worries as to finishing it. Also have finished writing "Packs" series and once I type them they will be up. Keep your fingers crossed that I will have more free time. I think I'm also having computer problems. Does anyone know how to uninstall comet cursor. That thing has been causing me problems since I installed it and no uninstall doesn't seem to work. And before any of you ask you will learn everything that you need to know during the course of the story Be Patient! Love you guys!

Disclaimer: They belong to a veritable genius which obviously is not me.

AN2: Figgy I love it, thanks! That really made my day!

A First Meeting

Aragorn and Gandalf rode quietly into the woods of Mirkwood as they followed the Old Forest Road. Strider looked around curiously at the darken woods. It was quiet along the road and eerily dark. Remembering well Gandalf's warning in not becoming separated he nudged his horse closer to the wizard. If the wizard noticed the youth's uneasiness he gave no sign. Instead his eyes were narrowed in thought as he scanned the trees restlessly.

"Shouldn't we have run into a patrol by now?" Strider questioned in a hushed voice. "My brothers' say that the wood elves patrol heavily along the road and yet I have seen nothing."

"Yes we should have." Gandalf murmured. "In fact I was expecting a certain patrol by any time now."

"Well maybe they're resting."

"Thranduil's elves do very little resting while on patrol." Gandalf replied dryly. "Mirkwood is a dangerous place and aptly named. You would do well to remember that Aragorn."

"Listening to my brothers' all they talk about is getting into mischief with the King's son."

"And very well too." Gandalf chuckled in amusement. "The last time Thranduil was threatening to throw all three of them into the dungeons-"

A piercing scream silenced any further discussion. The horses jerked to a stop ears swiveling as they searched for danger. The two men strained their hearing and head the faint sounds of a fight nearby. Another cry echoed forth along with a strange chattering sound.

Gandalf with drew his sword sending his horse into the woods. "Spiders! This way!"

Aragorn quickly sent his horse after the wizard as he drew his own sword.

~*~*~*~

In a small clearing ringed with webbing two elves fought back to back. The golden blonde haired elf was deadly as he wielded twin knives with ease. His chestnut haired companion was equally as skilled with the sword but both were heavily outnumbered. The spiders had created a trap for the small patrol. Eight elves had fallen already to the spiders' poisons and were being dragged away by the arachnids.

"Your father's going to kill us if we don't get out of this." The brown haired elf growled.

"We won't have to worry about my father if we don't get out of here quickly." The blonde retorted ducking a blow.

"Where are the sons of Elrond when you need them?"

The blonde perked up suddenly hearing the hooves of two horses. "You know them they can never show up on time."

~*~*~*~

The chittering sounds of the spiders were nearly deafening Aragorn thought as he and Gandalf burst into the clearing. Through the mass of heavy bodies Aragorn saw two light flashes dodging and whirling. The young man quickly hacked at the heavy bodies around him. He was relieved to find out they were rather easy to dispatch but there was just so many of them.

The spiders around them screeched at the double assault, as their defenses were broken. It quickly became apparent that they were fighting a loosing battle. Several attempted one last attack while others retreated with the unconscious elves. One of the spiders snagged one of the elf's legs throwing him to the ground before pulling him into the mass of black bodies.

"Rowan!" The other elf cried reaching for his friend.

Another spider closed with the elf driving him back. The elf growled his knives flashing as he fought off his attacker. Strider looked up seeing movement above the elf and called out a warning. The elf looked up just as the spider dropped onto his back sinking it's fangs into the elf's neck. The blonde fell to his knees with a cry at the same time twisting up his arm to sink one of the long knives into the creature's belly.

Strider made haste to the elf's side fighting back the black beasts as he went. Gandalf met him as suddenly the spiders disappeared. Gandalf knelt next to the young elf that was swaying unsteadily and looking quite dazed.

"They took them." The elf murmured as he tried to rise to his feet.

"Steady my young friend." Gandalf soothed.

Aragorn reached out to help but the elf suddenly focused on him jerking away from him.

"Not an elf." The eldar slurred before his eyes rolled up and he passed out.

Gandalf chuckled at the expression on Aragorn's face. "Do not be insulted, Aragorn, for the elves of Thranduil's realm have very little care for men. This one more than most."

"Why?" Aragorn asked curiously.

Gandalf cocked his head hearing the woods creak and brush rustle. "Now is not the time nor the place to discuss it. Mount quickly."

Aragorn mounted and turned as Gandalf handed the unconscious elf up.

"We will turn back and head towards the border of the forest." Gandalf explained as he turned to his horse. "If there are attacks this early in things will be worse the further we travel. Now let's make haste."

~*~*~*~

Gandalf sat near the fire watching the sleeping form of the young Prince. He puffed his pipe slowly steadfastly ignoring the inquisitive glances that Aragorn would shoot him. He knew the youth was curious about their companion. He had decided not to tell the young human anything. He had started to formulate a plan. It was time the elves of Thranduil's realm began to put aside their prejudices. Who better to use than the King's son?

Aragorn sat quietly by the fire his eyes resting curiously on the elf in his hands he held his carving knife and his newest work. The elf had not woken up since the attack. The wizard had also not allowed him to help tend to the wounded elf instead sending him into the woods to collect firewood. Putting aside the wood Aragorn checked the bandage at the elf's neck again. Just as he thought, the bandage was just fine.

"Gandalf," Aragorn started breaking the silence. "Why doesn't he like men?"

Gandalf looked over at Aragorn raising an eyebrow. "Did I say that?"

The ranger rolled his eyes. "You did. Now why doesn't he like men?"

"I thought I said that the elves of Thranduil's realm had very little care for men."

"And then you said him more than most." Aragorn stated.

"Ah I did, didn't I?" Gandalf smoked his pipe thoughtfully.

Aragorn waited in increasing annoyance as the wizard continued to puff on his pipe ignoring him. "Well?"

"Well?" Gandalf looked over at him raising a busy brow. "Oh yes. Well seeing as how our young friend will be waking soon I think I shall go gather some much needed herbs."

Without another word Gandalf swept off into the dark. Aragorn sat fuming for a moment. Aragorn toyed with the leather lacing of his coat growling several choice phrases in elvish. He turned back to his work but found himself unable to concentrate. He stopped his eyes resting on the elf's pack, which lay nearby. If Gandalf wouldn't tell him anything maybe he could find out on his own. Knowing he shouldn't but unable to contain his interest, Aragorn reached over snagging the knapsack to pull it over into his lap. With one last glance at the elf Aragorn opened it.

The first thing he came across was a blanket. Next he found dried rations for several days. Frustrated he dug deeper and felt something wooden against his fingers. Delighted at this new find he quickly unearthed it pulling it out. It was a small wooden box. There was a seal emblazed across the top, which looked vaguely familiar, but Aragorn couldn't place it. Opening it he found arrowheads, feathers, a sharpening stone, a small knife and various other objects for caring for weapons. Slightly disappointed Aragorn set it aside reaching into the pack again.

The sharp press of a knife against his throat stopped him cold. Gingerly he turned his head as far as he dared looking up into the elf's glittering eyes. Aragorn opened his mouth to explain but the elf pressed the blade harder against his throat.

"Silence Human!" The elf growled as he reached over pulling his belongings away from the man. The elf swayed suddenly. Aragorn reached out to catch him but the elf shied away putting a little more pressure against the blade. "Don't touch me!"

Aragorn winced feeling the skin at his throat part under the knife's keen edge. He was also rapidly losing his patience. The elf was still weak from the spider's poisons. It wouldn't take much to bring him down.

"WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!"

At the wizard's shocked voice the elf turned slightly giving Aragorn the much needed diversion. He brought his hand up knocking the blade away from his throat and tackling the elf to the ground. He pinned the lithe body under him by sitting astride the elf's hips and holding down the elf's wrists on either side of his head. The elf fought him bucking underneath him but Aragorn had the advantage and easily kept the elf down. He only had a moment's triumph before strong fingers latched onto his ear pulling him off the elf. The wizard m then reached down grabbing the elf by the arm and jerking him to his feet. The man and the elf shrank under the wizard's angry gaze.

~*~*~*~

"By the Valar! What has gotten into the two of you?" Gandalf growled angrily. He shook them both for emphasis. The young human winced but glared sullenly at the elf. Legolas for his part looked ready to pass out still weak from the poison. With no little amusement Gandalf also noted that the elf wasn't to pleased with the human either.

"You had no cause to attack him," Gandalf continued shaking the human again. "Did you forget that he is injured?"

Noticing Legolas smug expression the wizard turned on the elf shaking him. "And you, why did you have Estel at knife point? You are old enough to know not to let your suspicions of all mortals rule you."

Gandalf glared at the two youths a moment longer making sure they were thoroughly chastised. Neither the elf nor the man met the wizard's gaze. "Now the both of you will apologize and sit yourselves down."

"I apologize." Legolas said rather stiffly as Gandalf shook him slightly. He was too sick to put up much of an argument.

"I'm sorry." Aragorn replied as Gandalf gave his ear a warning pinch. He was rather angry at being accosted so even if he may have deserved it. Which he didn't.

Gandalf pushed the elf down onto his blanket and released Aragorn. Well so far things were not going according to plan. He mumbled under his breathe of the stubbornness among elves and humans as he fixed a brew of tea that would help counter act the poisons in Legolas' body. He sighed softly noticing that the two were still glaring at one another.

"So tell me how it is that spiders have taken surprise over the elves near the road?" Gandalf replied handing Legolas a cup of the tea.

Legolas turned from his glaring match with Aragorn. "There is a new matriarch I am afraid. She has been using several caves and forested areas to surprise patrols." Legolas straightened suddenly his eyes going wide in realization. "They captured them!" He stood up quickly hoisting his quiver over his shoulders.

"Where do you think you are going?" Gandalf demanded.

"There's still time. I'm going after them."

Aragorn admired the elf's selflessness but he could see the trembling in the elf's fingers. He stood up. "You're to weak."

Legolas raised his chin defiantly. "I am fine human."

Aragorn felt his temper rise. "You arrogant, stubborn elf! You won't get thirty feet by yourself!"

Gandalf cleared his throat loudly stopping the two combatants. "Why that's good of you to suggest it Estel. You both will do much better together."

Two pairs of shocked eyes zeroed in on him.

"I wasn't suggesting that I go with him!"

"I don't need his help. He will only slow me down."

The two turned to glare at each other again.

"Be that as it may, I will leave you two to go after the missing elves. I will ride for the King's halls and summon more help." Gandalf said rising to his feet.