Aragorn sighed as he splashed cold water on his face from the small stream. The sun warmed his back as he scrubbed the dirt from his face from his travels. He was in the far northeast corner of Gondor traveling alone. It had been several days since he had departed from Minas Tirith and he had taken his time moving between realms. He was making his way towards Rohan where a Ranger camp sat and he could catch up on news and the situations occurring and meet with his brothers.
Flinging the water from his hands, he stood and walked back to his small camp. A small pot hung over the fire which he stirred and sprinkled a few herbs in. Finding a clean tunic, he slipped it over his head and shoved the dirty one in his bag. Carefully taking the hot pot from the fire, he spooned some onto his tin plate and sat to quietly eat. He planned to ride through the rest of Gondor and ride into the Rohirrim realm and towards the camp. His brothers and he had arranged to meet at a Ranger camp in the southern part of Rohan but that was a few more days away. They had not seen each other in several years; about four from his estimates and he was eager to see family again. He would have to leave soon and start making his way towards their meeting place to meet on time.
Finishing his breakfast, he stood and started breaking down his camp. Calling over his horse, he packed everything onto the animal after putting on all the tack. Finishing that, he smothered the fire and scattered the ashes. It soon looked like no one had been there and he mounted his horse. Nudging the horse onward, he started traveling and quietly sang to himself to fill the silence.
Several hours later, he slowly approached a camp filled with about seven men that were setting up their tents. Two of the men approached him as he rode up.
"Well met, fellow travelers," he said and nodded to the men.
Despite being a human himself, Aragorn sometimes disliked associating with other humans. Other Rangers were the only exceptions.
"I am Dramin and this is Lomein. Who are you, stranger?"
"I am Strider from the North. Where are you traveling to?" Aragorn asked as he casually looked around the camp.
Several yards away, at the base of a young sapling, someone was bound to the tree on his knees. Aragorn could see blood dribbling down the figure's arm but the long hair obscured the figure's face.
"We travel to Darnath to put the elf on trial for murder."
"Elf! For murder?" Aragorn asked shocked and looked again to the bound figure.
"Aye, he killed six of our men a week ago. Took us forever to tie him down. Gave me a good black eye in the struggle," Lomein said and Aragorn slowly nodded.
He knew they were probably lying. Elves did not kill without a very good reason. There had to be something else that the men were not speaking of.
"Would you mind if I had a look at him?"
The men shook their head as Aragorn rode towards the bound elf. Stopping two yards away, he slipped off his horse and lightly hit the ground.
"Be careful! He's a fighter!" Dramin called as Aragorn rolled his eyes.
Walking to the figure, Aragorn took stock of the elf's injuries and ranked them in severity. There were scrapes and bruise, bleeding raw wrists, arrow wound to the left shoulder, sword wound to the right abdomen, broken ankle; the elf was an overall mess. Squatting in front of the elf, Aragorn hissed softly at the obviously infected sword wound.
"Are you coherent, Master Elf?" he asked softly and jerked back when the elf lunged at him.
Losing his balance, Aragorn fell back and heard the men laughing. Looking to the elf, Aragorn could see the shame that plagued the proud elf and the barely restrained pain hidden in those blue eyes. Moving to stand, Aragorn turned his back to the men and spoke quietly.
"I will return to free you," he whispered and dusted himself off.
The elf spat at his shoes before Aragorn walked away. Aragorn wanted to know what could have turned a normally peaceful being into that poor figure. He knew elves rarely interacted with humans and many held no love for the human race. This elf seemed to have suffered from his interaction with humans.
Bidding the others goodbye, Aragorn mounted his horse and rode on his way. Passing the bound elf, Aragorn glanced to the fair being and found the blue eyes boring into him. Holding the elf's gaze for several moments, Aragorn turned and rode on. Riding out of eye sight, he circled back and entered a small forest to hide his mount. The animal would patiently wait until Aragorn called for her when he would need her services. Pulling out his black, dirty cloak, he draped his regular coat over the saddle and put the cloak on. A deep hood concealed his facial features as he moved towards the other camp. He would wait till nightfall to make his move and free the elf. Silently climbing into a tree at the edge of the small forest, he found a comfortable position and waited. While he watched, the elf was beat three times and not offered any food or drink. He wondered from which elven realm the elf had come from and how he had been caught.
Casting a glance up to the sky, he figured he might have about six more hours till night fall. He hoped that the elf could hold on for a few more hours until Aragorn could free him and tend to the wounds. He may have to search for specific herbs in the wilds that he did not normally carry with him. Several white maggots would definitely help with the infected wound. Now he just had to get to the elf.
Legolas breathed shallowly as he fought the battle to control the pain. There was a dull roar in his ears and his vision was constantly sliding in and out of focus. His body was racked with chills but he sweated so he knew something was wrong. His ankle throbbed mercilessly at his position on the ground as did the sword wound. The arrow wound had long become numb as well as the arm. Guess he was lucky in that the arm was numb and he couldn't feel the pain. To take his mind off the pain, he thought back to the single human that had passed through several hours earlier.
He wanted to believe that the human would stay true to his word but Legolas doubted it. Humans only knew about lying; they knew nothing about honor. Biting back a groan, he tried to shift his position and relieve the pressure of his weight off his knees. 'Valar, just kill me now,' he muttered as a chill slowly set in as the sun set. His muscles suddenly tensed when he heard a soft sound that he almost missed. Turning his head minutely, he saw a dark figure slip from the forest silently. His heart almost soared with hope that he may be freed. The figure's sword glinted in the fading fire light as he killed the first man he came to. When he reached the third man, his presence was noticed and the other men surged to their feet. Legolas watched as the stranger effortlessly battled five men at once and easily avoided their swords.
"Behind you!" Legolas yelled when a wounded human snuck up behind his would be rescuer.
The figure fell to one knee and swept out with his sword. He killed quickly and effectively, never becoming injured himself. Soon, the camp was empty except for the dark figure. Scanning the bodies to ensure that none could pose a last minute danger; he quickly extinguished the camp fire and sent the camp into darkness. Cleaning his sword of all the blood, he moved towards the bound elf and unsheathed a small dagger. Kneeling behind the tree, Aragorn cut through the rope binding the elf's hands. Once his support was gone, Legolas fell forward on his hands and whimpered softly at the new onslaught of pain.
"Let me help you," the stranger offered and Legolas shook his head.
"No, you have done enough," Legolas said and forced himself to stand.
"Your ankle can not support you. I am a healer; allow me to help you."
"No!" Legolas snapped and started to limp away.
Only making it five limps, an arm wrapped around his throat and started to strangle him. Clawing at the arm, blackness started to edge in around his vision. Just before slipping into unconsciousness he heard a sharp whistle before reality faded away.
Aragorn paused for a moment before lifting the elf into his arms and moving towards the forest. His horse appeared from the shadows and he carefully pushed the elf into the saddle before swinging up behind him. Nudging his horse forward, Aragorn rode through the forest and to the opposite side where there was a small stream. Slipping off his horse, Aragorn gently laid the elf atop his cloak after spreading out the material. Tucking a blanket around the elf, Aragorn built a fire and pulled everything off his horse. It would take him a few hours to tend to the elf's injuries and it would be best to not move the elf until everything was bandaged. Using his small dagger, he gently cut off the bloody leggings and tunic to cast them aside to leave the blanket covering the elf. Gently picking up the obviously broken ankle, his fingers probed the swollen flesh to feel for the break. Closing his eyes, he envisioned how the bone structure should be and mentally moved across the ankle. His fingers felt the break and he judged the severity. The bone was still aligned properly so it needed to be stabilized and allowed time to heal. After tightly wrapping the ankle, he gently set it atop the saddle to help reduce the swelling. Pulling the blanket down over the elf's legs, he moved up to the infected sword wound and wrinkled his nose. The wound was far worse than he first realized. Standing, he went to his small pile of healing utensils. Opening a large tin, he carefully picked out several small maggots and placed them in his hand. Washing off the little creatures, he placed them on the infected wound until his tin was empty. The maggots would eat the dead flesh and wipe out the infection to leave healthy flesh. Dumping out the rotting flesh in the tin and setting it aside, he moved up to the shoulder wound and carefully examined it. The wound was raw and inflamed but no infection. Cleaning it, he stitched the wound and applied a cream before bandaging it. Warming some water, he carefully washed the raw rope burns on the elf's wrists and gently massaged some soothing cream on the raw flesh. Checking the sword wound, he smiled tiredly to see that the maggots were doing their job.
Sitting back and rubbing his forehead, Aragorn fixed some tea and coaxed it into the unresponsive elf. The elf had a bad fever from the infection and it would most certainly affect his healing abilities. Glancing up to the night sky, he figured that there was about four more hours until the sun rose. Moving the elf closer to the fire for heat, Aragorn lay on the outside of him and gently rested his hand on the elf's chest. His other hand rested on his sword's handle to be ready for anything. He fell asleep listening to his horse munch on grass.
An hour after sunrise, Aragorn awoke and carefully stretched. His muscles were sore and stiff from the day before as he softly groaned. Rolling his shoulders slowly, he stood and popped his back. Wincing, he knelt by the elf and pulled aside the blanket to look at the sword wound. A hand grabbed at his and he jumped before looking up to the elf's face. The elf's blue eyes slowly opened and unsteadily wandered around the camp.
"How do you feel, Master Elf?" he asked softly and felt the elf's forehead.
There was still a faint fever but it was weak. He looked to the sword wound and started to remove the maggots to cast them aside.
"Wha-What are you doing?" the elf asked weakly as his head rolled to the side.
"Saving your life, Master Elf. Your fever is dropping and the wound is free of infection now, thankfully," Aragorn said and threw aside the last maggot.
"What?" he mumbled as Aragorn looked to the elf.
The elf obviously wasn't very coherent as he gently pulled back an eyelid. Everything looked okay as he sat back and allowed the elf to sleep again. Mixing a mild sedative, he coaxed it into the elf and gathered what he would need to stitch the wound closed. He had to press down the elf's hands as they reacted to the pain and tried to ward him off. Cutting the remaining thread, he looked to his artwork and nodded. Sprinkling some medicinal powder over the stitched wound, he bound it and stood. Grabbing his bow and arrows, he slipped into the forest to hunt for food.
Legolas slowly blinked as consciousness returned to him slowly. Turning his head, he looked around the camp but did not see the human anywhere. The fire burned brightly so he must be around to keep the fire going. Attempting to sit up, he fell back with a muted cry and pressed his hands over the abdomen wound. Panting with pain, he clenched his eyes shut and pressed his head back against the folded clothe under his head.
"It would be best if you not move for a while or you may pull my stitches."
Legolas' head snapped around to see who spoke and looked to the human as he emerged from the forest. In his hand were three rabbits which he carefully laid by the fire. Setting his bow by his bedroll, Aragorn set a pot of water in the fire and started to skin the rabbits.
"Who are you?"
"You may call me Strider. What realm do you hail from, Master Elf?"
"Nowhere you would know, human."
"If I had to choose, I would say either Lorien or Mirkwood. But Lorien elves are usually more polite so I would place my bet on Mirkwood. Am I close?" he asked and tossed the meat into the pot to cook.
Legolas said nothing and turned his head to look at the horse. He slowly looked over the beautiful animal and saw the distinctive elvish traits in the animal. The human probably stole the horse from an elf. But why did he help him now? Maybe to ransom him to his father for money or jewels?
"Did you steal the horse?" he asked and heard the human stop what he was doing.
He looked over to where the human kneeled and saw the gray eyes staring at him. The human's eyes bore into him and he resisted the urge to look away.
"No, I did not steal the horse. She was a gift for my birthday from my brothers."
"Oh, so your brothers stole her and then gave her to you. Not that different from you stealing her."
"Master Elf, if you were not injured then I certainly would injure you myself. You can insult me all you like but you do not insult my family, ever," Aragorn growled and turned back to the cooking pot.
His sharp knife cut into the rabbit's flesh with more force until all three rabbits were skinned and cooking. Selecting a few herbs, he tossed them into the pot and slowly stirred the contents. He needed to redirect the anger that was currently aimed at the injured elf. Maybe poison his food, he snickered and shook his head. Sighing, he grabbed two tin bowls and scooped out some stew. Standing, he walked over to the elf and knelt to put down the food. Gently lifting the elf's foot, he carefully felt the break and noticed the reduced swelling. Taking his pack, he helped the elf sit up and moved the pack behind the elf to lean against. Handing the bowl to the elf, Aragorn had to grab for the bowl when the elf dropped it out of weakness. Hissing as the hot liquid splashed on his hand, Aragorn grimaced before the pain faded. Holding the spoon, he lifted a spoonful of stew and held it for the elf to eat. Almost instantly, he could see the refusal to be fed by a human flash up in the elf's eyes.
"You need to eat to get healthy and strong again. And since you can not feed yourself then I will help you," Aragorn said with a sigh.
"I do not need to be handfed, human."
Aragorn rolled his eyes and resisted the urge to rub his forehead. He should have known that the elf would react like this. Elves were very proud creatures and this elf seemed to be very prideful.
"Do you want to feed yourself? Because if you can, then go right ahead," he said and held out the bowl.
The two squared off for a moment before Legolas reached for the bowl. Knowing the elf wouldn't be able to hold the bowl, Aragorn helped support the bowl as the elf slowly ate some of the stew. When the elf shook his head for no more, Aragorn offered a skin of water and helped the elf drink from it. Sitting back, Aragorn looked up to the sky and sighed.
"We will be leaving tomorrow morning," he said and collected the bowls to rinse them out in the stream.
"Where are you taking me?" Legolas asked as he watched the human walk away.
"My brothers are going to meet me in a few days. We need to leave now if we are going to make it on time with your injury. Once we meet with them then we would travel to camp and then to my home, I would think."
"And keep me against my will. Took me from one prison to another."
"Or I could leave you here and let you try to get home on your own. But do remember that you are severely injured and lack any weapons, which ever if you did possess weapons, I highly doubt you would be able to defeat a child. You are much safer with me," Aragorn said and packed away the bowls.
Well here is my new story that has been running around in my mind for a few weeks. It is my take on how Legolas and Aragorn may have met. Updating may be sporadic but I will try my hardest to update reasonable quickly. I am also working on the sequel to 'An Ancient Bond' so once I have a good bit of that written then I will post that. So, until then, enjoy and I hope to hear from the readers. More reviews help me to write faster (hint hint).