Chapter 26

Aragorn rode hard, pushing his steed to its limits when suddenly a group of men appeared.

"Halt stranger," one called, "who are you and why do you travel at such speed?"

"My name is Est...Strider," he said quickly, taking the name Legolas had given him as a joke.

"Hello Strider, Where do you travel to out here, alone? Do you not know these lands are dangerous?"

"I travel where my horse can get me, I have faced the most dark of evils, I would not do so again, which I why I stay aware." He answered coldly.

"Your voice is familiar, have we met before?" the guard inquired.

"I do not believe so, who are you?"

"I am Halbarad, acting leader of the DĂșnedain that is until our lord appears."

"Halbarad, I bear the ring of Barahir, given to me by my...by the new lord of Imladris."

"Yes we heard rumours of lord Elrond's demise, it is such a tragedy, but I am sure Lord Elladan will do well in his place."

"Yeah, very well." He muttered under his breath.

"You do not get on with him?"

"Let's just say I left in a somewhat brusque manner." He smiled grimly.

"Come Aragorn, join us in our camp."

"How..."

"You are much like your father; I could not mistake you for another if my life depended on it." Halbarad smiled, "come my friend, we have much to talk about." Both men shared a brief smile before Halbarad led Aragorn back to the main camp.

Aragorn knew it would not be easy settling in, but he was willing to give anything to make it work, his mind flickered back to his brothers briefly and wondered if he should go back and talk to them but decided to leave it a while and let them get on with their lives.

The leaves were falling in Imladris, autumn, it was Elrond's favourite time of year, and he was walking through the peaceful gardens once more. Looking before him, he saw his three sons and Legolas messing around as usual, he could not contain the smile, or the laughter that escaped his lips.

Suddenly thousands of Orcs came crashing through the trees, his home and family went dark.

Pain filled grey eyes opened slightly before shutting against the searing pain that coursed through his body. How he wished his captors would finish him off so he could be at peace...more pain erupted through his broken form, looking up he saw the Witchking looming over him.

This was far from over.