Disclaimer: HmmmLet's see... Nope, I still don't own that elf or that ranger. Only the original characters belong to me. Hey, that's better than nothing!
Summary: Legolas and Aragorn discover an injured young dragon and offer their help. What happens as a result ends up in an adventure that none of them could ever have imagined.
A/N: Welcome, readers! Here's my latest story. I hope my old readers have come back after skipping my last story. I knew a lot of you wouldn't like a character death tale. To those of you who did, thank you for your reviews. As for this one, only the bad guys bite the dust. I'm looking forward to hearing from each and every one of you. Hint. Hint.
This story starts out with a lot of humor. It will turn more serious beginning in the next chapter, though there will still be some humor along the way. I hope you all enjoy my tale. (And yes, my crazy plot bunny is still around.)
by White Wolf
"Those footprints can belong to only one creature," Aragorn stated confidently. He did not have small feet for a man, but he frowned slightly to see how little his own appeared to be next to the depression in the soft earth he was staring at.
Legolas nodded. "A dragon."
"I had no idea that one lived anywhere around here." They stood not all that far north of Rivendell, close to the foothills at the base of the Misty Mountains.
"This one may not live around here," Legolas pointed out. "They do fly, you know." The elf grinned at his human friend. Then he frowned slightly. "But they rarely ever walk."
Both man and elf looked toward the direction that the tracks led. Finding dragon tracks was indeed a rare occurrence. Usually the first sign of a dragon was seeing one flying overhead.
Aragorn turned a questioning expression toward Legolas. "Well?"
"Well what?" the elf asked.
"What is a dragon doing walking around here?"
The elven archer was a little irritated at the question and had no problem letting the ranger know it. "How should I know?" he replied with a sharp tone.
"You're an elf," the man stated flatly, as if that explained everything. However, the look on his friend's face told him clearly the elf didn't understand the implication of the remark.
Legolas continued to stare at the ranger for a few seconds and then burst out laughing. When he finally got himself under control, he said, "I have been aware of that fact for many years now, Estel. What has it got to do with the current situation?"
"Well, it's widely known that elves have a special affinity for animals. Your people communicate with them and know a great deal about where and how they live. I thought you might know why a dragon would be out walking around in this area."
"I hardly know what to say, Estel. I appreciate the compliment. However, elves are not all-knowing, when it comes to dragons. I am as much in the dark here as you are." Compliment aside, Legolas was too annoyed by his friend's presumption to notice that he had just admitted to a lack of knowledge, especially about animals. It was something he rarely ever did.
Aragorn was not offended by the elf's irritated attitude, and he didn't want to call attention to Legolas's admission of ignorance regarding this dragon, at least for the present, so he ignored the elf's words. "Then I guess we have no choice but to follow the tracks and see where they will lead."
"Where they will lead is to a dragon, Estel." Legolas commented logically. "Do you really want to go there?" He may not have known as much about dragons as Aragorn had thought, but he sure knew that dragon's were exceedingly dangerous. He was sure the man knew that, too. Everyone was well aware of Smaug and his deadly ways.
The grin that spread across Aragorn's face left no doubt what his answer would be. His words confirmed it. "Of course, I want to go there. Think of the opportunity we'll have." He started off, striding swiftly beside the dragon tracks, leaving an exasperated elf in his wake.
Legolas shook his blond head. Hadn't he done this before? Weren't he and Estel always getting into some kind of trouble that never failed to ensnare them and was most likely destined to do so again? "Think of the opportunity to find a new way to die," the elf muttered. Then he sighed and began to follow the ranger, visions of being turned into a steaming puddle swirling through his mind.
x x x x x
Legolas had taken the lead at the end of the second hour. The dragon tracks consistent. In soft dirt, they were several inches deep; in hard dirt they were shallower, butt they never ceased all together. They were pointing in a relatively straight line toward the mountains.
Suddenly, Legolas called a halt to their progress.
"What is it?" Aragorn asked softly, not sure whether speaking normally might cause a problem. He decided not to take the risk of being overheard by the dragon or anything else unpleasant that might have caught the elf's attention.
"Do you not hear it?" Legolas inquired. "The dragon is on the other side of those rocks just ahead of us." He jabbed his forefinger several times slightly to their right.
Aragorn listened and thought he heard the faint sounds of...grumbling? He almost forgot to be quiet, when he started laughing out loud. He clamped his hand over his mouth. Pulling his hand down, after a minute, he said, "If I didn't know better, I'd swear it was the voice of a very irritated dwarf."
The sound was indeed a voice, and it was indeed irritated. And it did come very close to sounding just like a dwarf.
Both elf and ranger crept up to the rocks and silently moved so that they could peer around them to see what lay beyond. It surprised neither one that what they saw was not even close to being a dwarf. It was a dragon hunched down little more than thirty feet from their position.
What they heard was the voice of an irritated dragon, a very irritated dragon.
"...walking around in this miserable place," the voice was saying.
Legolas and Aragorn turned their heads so that their eyes met. They were sure the expression they each saw on the other's face was the same one on their own.
"A red dragon," they both said simultaneously.
"A young one from the look of it," Legolas said. Then he noticed something odd about the dragon. Why was it bending over and seemingly caressing its left wing? "There is something wrong with it."
Aragorn didn't try to figure out what Legolas was talking about. He was occupied with staring at the red creature in front of him. If it had been standing upright, it would have been a good fifteen feet tall. Its tail, which it had curved behind it, was in itself almost half again that long. Two large horns swept back from just behind and above its eyes. The sun sparkled off of its scaly body, flashing a brilliant red.
"Despite its dangerous nature, the beast is beautiful." Legolas remarked, always able to appreciate beauty whenever he beheld it.
Aragorn laughed. "See what I mean?" he said. "You elves can find beauty in anything that breathes."
"I never have found any such beauty in an orc, or a warg, either, for that matter." Legolas replied, making a face of disgust. "And the spiders of Mirkwood..."
"Well there are exceptions," Aragorn admitted, "even for elves."
The archer continued with his admiration. "Do you not see how the sun reflects off of the smooth scales and how..."
"All right, I get your point, Legolas." The man was not about to stand there and listen to the physical virtues of a red dragon, of all things. "What do we do now?"
"Why are you asking me? You are the one who wanted to follow it."
"Very well then..." Aragorn began. He didn't get any further.
The voice that came at them was no longer grumbling. It was loud, and it was demanding. "Who goes there? Show yourselves."
"Now look what you've done."
"Me?" the elf protested yet again.
"Now!" came the demand from beyond the rocks. There was no denying that it would have to be obeyed. To do otherwise would put the two friends in peril, since they knew they were not going to be able to run from the creature.
Legolas and Aragorn shrugged at each other and then walked resignedly around their stone shelter and stood before the dragon. Neither showed fear but then neither could deny their pounding hearts and clenched stomach muscles, because neither had ever stood and stared up into the gleaming yellow eyes of a dragon.
"Why have you followed me?" the dragon asked in the same demanding tone. "Surely you do not intend to try and kill me."
It was then that elf and ranger were glad that neither had drawn a weapon before facing this creature. Like trying to run, they didn't believe they would have been able to kill or even harm the dragon before it killed them.
Both Legolas and Aragorn held their hands out in front of them, palms up, to show that they were unarmed. They weren't sure whether that would matter in the end, but it's all they could think of to do, at the moment.
"We do not intend to harm you," Aragorn said.
The dragon snorted. "As if you could," it remarked haughtily. "An elf and a human would have no chance against me," the dragon scoffed.
In an attempt to show the two beings it towered over that its words were accurate, the dragon raised its head, pointing it to the sky, and blew out a white hot flame a good twenty feet into the air. It was only the distance above them that kept Legolas and Aragorn from feeling the full intensity of the heat. As it was, they felt their cheeks warming.
Aragorn leaned over and whispered to Legolas. "If it's trying to impress us, it's working---in my case, at any rate." He was sure the roaring of the flames would hide his words, though they were not derogatory ones and would probably only serve to increase the dragon's naturally inflated ego.
As the dragon continued to blow fire, it raised its wings to spread them out and make itself even more daunting. That was the a big mistake. It suddenly screamed in pain and pulled its left wing down and cradled it against the front of its huge body.
Legolas and Aragorn just stared in disbelief.
The elf was the first to recover. "What is wrong with your wing?"
"Nothing," the dragon snapped fiercely, though it was clear the beast was not telling the truth.
"Sounds like someone else I know," the ranger said without taking his eyes off of the red creature before him.
"I have no idea who you could be talking about," Legolas remarked in his most innocent voice. "Unless, of course, it is one of your brothers."
Aragorn laughed. It was true Elladan and Elrohir often tried to hide injuries, but no one was more stubborn about doing it than the elf that stood beside him.
The ranger then took a tentative step forward, raising his hands in a non-threatening gesture. "I am a healer among my people. Perhaps I can help you."
The dragon glared at Aragorn. "I do not need the help of a human. Nor do I trust one not to try to do whatever damage he could inflict...before dying." The dragon's meaning was clear.
"Is there anyone among your kind who can aid you?" Legolas asked, as he stepped up beside the ranger. The dragon may have a fearsome reputation, but the elf had been gripped by a feeling of sympathy for the creature. He hoped it wasn't being misplaced.
When the dragon lowered its head, Legolas and Aragorn feared that their time in Middle-earth may be at an end.
Aragorn couldn't stop himself from closing his eyes and grimacing. He didn't want to see the flames come shooting down toward him. 'It will hurt for only a second,' he said in his mind in an attempt to comfort himself.
Silence fell as the dragon was apparently trying to decide the intentions of these two beings. After a moment, the beast came to the conclusion that elf and man meant no harm to him. Perhaps...
"You say you are a healer. What experience have you had healing an injured dragon?"
"Fair question," Legolas said, turning to his friend. "Well, healer, what experience have you had with injured dragons?"
The man opened his eyes and gave the wood-elf a narrow-eyed, sideways look that spoke of possible retribution at a date to be named later. He smiled at the dragon. "What is your name?"
"Treco," the creature answered.
With the mention of the dragon's name, the beast was no longer thought of as an 'it' but as a 'he'. "Well, Treco, I have not actually treated a dragon before," the ranger admitted. "But a broken bone is a broken bone. Yours is just a bit larger than most I've dealt with."
"And will take a much bigger bandage," Legolas pointed out helpfully. He just shrugged when the man turned a scathing glare his way. "True, is it not?"
Aragorn was not about to comment on the elf's remark nor answer his question.
Treco flicked his tongue out and licked his wing where the break in the bone created a crooked angle. There was a definite look of pain on the dragon's face. He looked more like a very big family pet right then, and the thought almost made Aragorn laugh. However, he was smart enough to know that doing so was not the wisest thing he could do.
When Treco looked at Aragorn, he nodded. "I will let you look at my wing. If you appear to know what you are doing, I will let you fix it." He said it as if he was bestowing a distinct honor on th man.
The ranger smiled but at Treco's next words of warning, his face took on a sober expression.
"If you attempt to deceive me by trying to gain control of me, you and your elven friend will be turned to ash. Do we understand one another?"
"Perfectly," Aragorn replied with a forced smile, while swallowing the lump that had formed in his throat.
Seeing no point in delaying, Aragorn swung his pack off of his back and bent down to get the supplies he would need. He glanced up at Treco, who, now that he had decided to trust the two, seemed more preoccupied with his painful injury than with them.
When Legolas crouched down beside the ranger, Aragorn said, "What have I gotten us into? I want to help him, but what if I screw up? You heard what he said would happen to us."
"Then I suggest you do not screw up," Legolas told him wryly. "I do not wish to become a pile of ashes."
The man did not dignify that comment with one of his own. All of his doubts were firmly pushed to the back of his mind. He, with Legolas's help, had a dragon wing to repair.
x x x x x
An hour later, and the medical treatment was over. Aragorn stared at his empty medical supply pack. Even Legolas's pack no longer contained any of the emergency supplies he carried. "Let us hope neither of us needs any healing before we reach Rivendell."
"You must be joking," Legolas stated. "When have we ever returned to the home of Lord Elrond in any condition short of near death?"
"It's not that bad," Aragorn defended. He thought for a moment, then said, "Well... usually only one of us is."
Treco was looking at his left wing. The bone that had previously been painfully bent was now straight and bound tightly with many strips of white cloth. It had been a painful procedure, but one that he understood was necessary. Like any flesh and blood creature, no dragon is ever immune to suffering. He had taken the repair work in stride, only belching out flames twice in response to Aragorn's and Legolas's ministrations. Thus only twice did he nearly scare the life out of elf and man.
The healer in Aragorn made him turn and come just short of shaking his finger at the red creature. "Do not move your wing too much. The bone needs time to knit back together. It will be stronger once it does. You, of course, will not even think about flying."
Treco's eyes glittered. He did not like to be told what to do. Dragons were the freest creatures in Middle-earth, going wherever and whenever they chose, and only rarely did anyone attempt to stop them. But he had just suffered so his wing could be mended and ruining that by disobeying the ones who had helped him was foolish. Even a young dragon could figure that out.
"Meet us back here in six weeks," Aragorn instructed. "I think the bandage can be removed then." The ranger eyed his handiwork again. 'Not bad for fixing a dragon', he mused.
Treco started to protest the length of time he would have to spend walking around wherever he went. Then he thought better of it. These two had risked their lives to help him, so he didn't think it right to gripe. After all, they had had nothing to do with the fact he had stepped out on a rocky ledge that had collapsed under his weight. He had fallen on his wing before being able to right himself so he could fly away. He had landed at the bottom of the ravine below the cliff ledge and considered himself lucky only one wing bone had been broken. It could have been his neck, and no healer could have fixed that.
The hardest thing he ever did in his life was the thing he did now, when he said, "Thank you." It wasn't as hard as he had thought it would be. "I will be here in six weeks."
He turned and left before he ended up ruining his fearsome reputation all together. Just before he rounded another group of rocks, he turned back. "No one else must know of this."
"Not a soul," Aragorn replied. He didn't know how he could keep such a secret, but he wasn't willing to risk life and limb to a vengeful dragon by revealing it. On a more serious note, he also had Legolas's life to think about. The elf was at risk, as well.
The human sat down, his legs suddenly becoming too weak to hold him up. "Did that just happen, or am I dreaming?"
"Well, if you are, we are sharing the same dream," Legolas said. He remained standing, but he was just as amazed by the recent event. He wondered what they would find at the end of the next six weeks.
There you have it. I hope it stirs your curiosity enough to keep reading. As always with me, I accept constructive critiicism, as well as unbounding praise. :o)