Never look back
The hooves of the horse pushed aside the tall grasses that grew abundantly on that side of the mountain, as it made its way forward. The man sitting astride the beast gave the animal its lead, knowing that the mare knew the area well and was happy to be close to home at last. He sighed with weary happiness as his steel grey eyes took in the strong trees that grew among the sea of knee high grass. He had been away too long, chasing after orcs, visiting foreign lands, combing through familiar places, and for what? He was searching for something that he did not know. His was a restless spirit. He sat relaxed on his horse one hand loosely folded over the other which held the reins.
The wind blew past him blowing his long dark brown hair briefly off his shoulders and also bringing the scent of the flowering wood to him. He gave one of his rare smiles. Arwen. Her name came to him in a soft whisper; he couldn't wait to see her. They made their way down the slope man and horse moving as one. As they drew closer to the trees, the mare broke stride and skittered sideways surprising Aragorn from his reverie. He drew his sword, reigning in the horse and quieting her at the same time. His eyes scanned ahead wondering if there were orcs or worse that awaited him in the gloom of the wood.
Nothing moved, Aragorn waited, frowning and tense in the near silence of the wood. A sudden breath of wind blew again and this time he heard a sound, a faint sound, a sound of pain. The mare again moved restlessly as though in sympathy with the wounded creature. Again he soothed the horse, unconsciously leaning forward straining to hear. The sound came again fainter still. Aragorn nudged the horse toward an old majestic tree. Its gnarled roots were almost hidden by an abundance of stunted grass. He quietly dismounted sword in hand and crept toward the base of the tree.
Pale gold caught among the verdant green caught his eye. He gasped as his mind recognized that it was hair, pale golden hair. All caution aside he now hurried to the other side of the tree. A figure was sprawled, naked and forgotten in a forlorn heap. One bruised arm was flung over the head in a protective gesture, the other rested on a twisted root. Long slender fingers were still curled around the root, as though the person had tried to pull them selves forward. Aragorn's face was grim. Sheathing his sword he dropped to his knees and began to gently examine the slender body, his eyes and fingers searching for wounds. No doubt this woman had been attacked and then left for dead. There were bruises along the back, buttocks and legs. Hardly any part of the golden skin was unmarred. He gently lifted the unconscious figure by the shoulders and turned her onto her back.
With a small cry of surprise and dismay Aragorn realized his mistake. This poor creature was no human. Pointed ears peeped through tangled golden hair. A pale, beautiful angular face was twisted in pain. It was an elf. A male elf. The tension that had receded before came back in a wave. He turned briefly, seeking in the gloom answers to this puzzle. The elf was not wounded, but appeared starved and battered. The high elven cheekbones stood out clearly in the fair being's face. His too thin body was crisscrossed by thin white scars, relics of bygone whippings. Although his chest rose and fell in a regular rhythm his lips were slightly blue and cracked as though he had been cold for a long time.
"By the Valar!" Aragorn shook his head at his own tardiness and ran to his mare to recover a blanket and water pouch. He wrapped the elf carefully and then tilted back his head. He poured a small amount of water past the parched lips into the creature's mouth and was gladdened to see the elf swallow reflexively. Twice more he did this. The elf stirred slightly and suddenly tried to free himself from his captor.
"Sidh, mellon nin, I am here to help you." Aragorn said softly to his charge. The words spoken in Sindarin seemed to have a calming effect on the elf. His face reflected a sudden peace and his mouth opened slightly, "Ada?"
Aragorn felt tears prickle the back of his eyes at the small heartbroken word. This young elf called for his father.
Without another word He scooped him into his arms and walked to his horse. The elf was as light as a feather. Only two more leagues to Imladris. Aragorn needed to get him to his own father, Lord Elrond a renowned healer among elves and men. As he urged his mare forward and broke into a trot Aragorn was unaware of a pair of muddy brown eyes that had observed his every move from start to finish.
Sidh mellon nin, be still my friend
Ada , daddy