Disclaimer: All characters and facts related to Tolkien's works are his.

Deep Under the Ground

Summary: Aragorn and Legolas stop at a town for supplies. However, a century old myth, a mayor on the brink of insanity and a quest to find a relic with one of their lives on the line soon entraps them before they can leave…

Chapter I – A Particularly Large Puddle of Mud

The fallen leaves and twigs and dirt on the forest floor were turning into soggy, brown mush, but unlike Aragorn, Legolas' soft leather boots were not covered in the muck.

Aragorn's foot sank into the mud with every step forward while Legolas' whole weight did not manage to push his feet into the soft earth. The man stared gloomily at his friend's straight back. It was during times like this that he wished he were an elf.

The Prince of Mirkwood's very back seemed to be mocking his mortality at the moment. Look at me! I can walk on top of mud! It seemed to be calling out to the man.

Legolas heard Aragorn grumbling under his breath and a smirk crept over his face. He knew what the man was grumbling about. It was the same complaint when they traveled over snow covered lands. He couldn't help it that he was what he was, could he?

It was at this moment that the heavens decided to wipe that overly contented grin off the smug elf's face. His foot landed on a piece of uneven, slippery ground and he promptly lost his footing and landed face first into a particularly large puddle of sticky sludge that was all too eager to adhere itself to every inch of the elf's clothes and bare skin.

Legolas head whipped around to glare at his companion who had emitted what sounded suspiciously like a stifled chuckle, showering small brown globs everywhere as his filth covered hair swung around.

His fiery eyes dared the ranger not to contain his mirth. In as dignified a manner as one can behave in when covered from hard to toe in a disgusting brown substance, the Prince of Mirkwood scrambled out from the puddle and stalked off in the direction which they were heading in the first place.

They settled in a good sized cave for the night. Legolas found a little stream that ran near by and tided up his appearance. He was just pulling on his undershirt when Aragorn entered with a good sized stack of wood in his arms.

"Pity-" Said the ranger softly as he set to work starting a small fire.

"What?" retorted the elf, sensing that an insult was about to be directed his way, but unable to resist asking.

"I rather thought the color brown suited you, my friend." The ranger replied as gravely as he could, with a straight face.

"Well, next time it rains I'll push you into a puddle of muck and see how well that color suits you."

Aragorn dissolved into laughter. An elf falling was rare. An elf getting himself so dirty was even rarer to say the least. Elves were scrupulously clean as a rule and their very skin seemed to repel dirt. Their long hair was always combed and braided neatly, their clothing were simple yet elegant.

He looked up to see that Legolas was anything but amused. The elf's eyes were downcast and he was fiddling thoughtfully with something that hung around his neck Aragorn fell silent, it was not like his friend to be so quick tempered.

Legolas barely noticed as the noise in the cave faded. His hand had brushed against a light chain that encircled his neck as he fastened the ties to his tunic and the touch of the cool metal had awakened some buried memories.

Finally, his friend's keen gaze cut through the fog of sad thoughts that was beginning to settle upon him and he raised his head to meet the enquiring eyes of Aragorn.

"My mother gave it to me before she sailed." He replied shortly to the unspoken question.

'Do you miss her?" Aragorn regretted the words as soon as they left his lips, he could have struck himself for being so thoughtless.

"Yes.-Yes I do." No irritation or hint of anger laced the elf's voice as he replied.

"Go to sleep Aragorn. I'll take the first watch."

Legolas picked up his bow from where he had rested it carefully against the wall and disappeared through the mouth of the cave.

The stars smiled down upon him from the velvety dark sky above, just like they had for the past thousand years or so. Now, he looked to them for answers, just as he had always done when troubled or upset.

Even after a few hundred years since her departure, the pain of his lost was still fresh in his mind. It was exactly five hundred and sixty four years since she had left these shores for whiter ones. And yet it still felt like it had happened yesterday.

He remembered the troubles he had had with dealing with his grief when he was younger. For a time, his father had been in danger of losing another loved one, but he had pulled through in the end. After depriving himself of food, over working himself in the practice grounds and suffering from insomnia for months he had finally broken down- he had fallen asleep at the table when his father had important guests over. With much love and guidance from his father he had been gently guided away from the path that his beloved mother had walked.

He wouldn't let himself fall into the dark abyss of grief again.

He smiled back at the stars; they had all the answers it seemed.

--

Legolas tugged the edges of his hood forward to hide his fair features from unwanted stares. The gatekeeper barely glanced at them before opening the gates- he was anxious to get back to his warm bed. He nodded his head in the direction of the nearest inn and then shuffled back to his room.

It was late into the night and except for a few drunken men staggering through the streets trying to find their way home, there was no one in sight. They found the inn-Barnaby's Barrel- and the tired looking innkeeper showed them their room.

Soon, Legolas' was listening to the deep even breathing of Aragorn, before he too trod the path of dreams.

TBC…

A peaceful little ending for this chapter- Things get a LOT more exciting in the next chapter though. Stay tuned! Sheesh I sound like a commercial or something. Anyway, hope you stick around, thanx for reading to the end of the chapter!