Author's Notes: Welcome! Enjoy!
I have no permission from the author to use his characters or his
world. This story is just for enjoyment.
In my stories, Haldir has achieved the rank of Captain among the Galadhrim of Lothlórien. However, this is complete conjecture since we do not know for certain if he ever had such a position among the sentinels. In all likelihood he would have had only the title "marchwarden" like the elves of Doriath. His leadership is strongly implied in the movies and not commented on in the books.
First Name Terms
The Lady of Light
A Beginning Venture
Chilly droplets beaded in auburn tresses. Shuddering slightly as icy beads slid down the back of his neck, the young man hiked the rain-spotted cloak further up around his shoulders. The fog had descended without warning scarce an hour ago, cold, wet and all-encompassing. The mountains at his back had vanished in its shadow. Nevertheless, he continued doggedly on keeping the autumnal chill off and hoping to find a suitable place to camp other than the uncomfortably steep gorge he stood on now. Picking a path carefully along the slope, he tensed every time a shrub or wind-whipped boulder rose like phantoms out of the murk before him. His brothers had warned him of the dangers of fog-not all of them weather.
As he stumbled and nearly fell for the umpteenth time on rocks only half-seen, he realized two things. One, it was getting darker. And two, he was quite lost. The thought of being lost didn't bother him unduly for he was a ranger—albeit a very young one. But the fog was thickening by the minute and he could scarcely see two or three yards distant. Coupled with the fact that the height of the gorge was completely unknown to him, he did not fancy trying his luck.
Scrambling a few feet further down out of the worst of the wind, he nestled into a smooth niche that had been scooped out of the cleft side by countless seasons of harsh wind and rains. Scarcely five feet from his little niche, the rock ledge dropped out of sight into fathomless fog-bound shadows.
Among the wind-tossed debris of dead leaves, he tucked his oversized overcoat closer around him and made a frugal meal of the last of his provisions. When the fog clears I'll go hunt. His brothers, Elladan and Elrohir, would probably be out on the moors by now searching for rabbit in between their pursuit for orcs. Sun would be dappling into the bright valley of Rivendell, glinting off the waterfalls and rainbow-hued streams…The trees already changing to gold…
Staving off thoughts of homesickness Aragorn-for that was exactly who the young man was-began to hum softly to himself, unconscious of the sheer walls to either side that caused even the softest of sounds to reverberate in the dark chasms below. After his meal, he stretched and settled himself in the niche, determined to keep a watchful vigil until he felt rested enough to go on. He was a stranger here and on his way to Lothlórien.
Elladan and Elrohir had often regaled him around the Hall fires with tales of their far kin, the Galadhrim, who lived east of the mountains. Even more elusive than Mirkwood's hunters were the Galadhrim. Ferocious fighters and hunters the like of which existed now only in legend lived in that great forest; hunters who had run with the marchwardens of Doriath at the height of its power, those who remembered and practiced ancient woodcraft, war and stalking as it had been taught in the Elder Days. That was why Aragorn, a burgeoning huntsman himself, had set off on his own four weeks ago to seek out that guarded realm.
But the fog had led him astray. He had spent the better part of the afternoon trying to find a way out of the gorge's maze without having to backtrack eighteen leagues to where he had entered it but the fog had firmly stamped on those plans. Now after a long exhausting scramble in this bleak country he was sore and exhausted. His voice grew fainter and fainter and finally fell silent altogether. Before he realized it, the would-be ranger's head sank onto his breast, the sword hilt sliding out of his listless grasp.
Low clouds dampened the rocks to an even darker shade of grey. The weak sunlight that every so often managed to break through the mist could not reach the rocky ledge and the sleeping figure on it.
Aragorn's hands twitched. His dripping bangs spilled into his eyes, his back and shoulders already numb with cold. The discomfort wakened him despite utter exhaustion still nibbling at the edges of his mind. The first thing he saw was the fog which, far from lightening, had actually thickened-a black and heavy shroud. As his eyes slowly readjusted to the darkness he spied a thin shape creeping towards his ledge.
At first the sleepy human thought little of it: fog often played tricks on the minds of those unfortunate enough to become snared in its webs. But this figure was not inconstant like the other phantom-shapes. It walked purposefully and steadily upslope, digging in heels and elbows to propel itself upwards with surprising agility. And it was coming straight towards him. The back of Aragorn's neck began to prickle.
A slick, putrid sound like rotten flesh peeled back from bone crawled into his ears. It took Aragorn a moment to recognize it as a voice.
"Good and quiet, my sweets," the voice whispered. "Almost home with our treasures."
It was an orc. And one very well-pleased with himself at that. Slaquer had just finished a tidy bit of business laid out on the rocks down around the treeline. Around his hairy neck swung several flasks of varying sizes. More than six daggers had been thrust into his broad belt and over one shoulder hung a cracked quiver filled with two arrows gleaned from a broken hand. The bow in his other hand was fashioned much more elegantly than any orcish craftsman could make and his pack fairly bulged with other unspeakable things.
Aragorn could see the luminous yellow eyes which pierced the fog much easier than his own. Moving very carefully, he reached for the hilt lying by his side. But the blade scraped against stone as he tightened his hold on the smooth leather.
The bone-picker stopped short, slitted nostrils widening as he breathed in the human's fear-scent. "What's this?" Black lips peeled back in a wide grin as the ranger held his sword defensively across his chest. "Didn't expect a live one."
Aragorn exchanged no words with the creature as his hands tightened convulsively on the cold leathern hilt. But he knew his only hope was to move fast—his sword was useless against a bow.
The orc knew this too and his twisted lips contorted in a grin of triumph as he pulled the loaded string against his jaw. "Like shooting a little bird."
But instead of leaping away as his enemy had expected, Aragorn dove straight at the arrow, swinging out in a wide arc. Any other, more experienced warrior would never have dared such a bravely foolish stunt but the orc was so surprised by the human's impulsive attack that he staggered back as the sword swung at him, smacking the bow right out of his hands.
Swearing, Slaquer dug his claws into the human's shoulder as the stroke carried him past and swung him around hard, hurling the youthful body away with all his wiry strength. The momentum of the orc and his own body slammed Aragorn with awesome force into the unrelenting cliff wall, leaving him partially stunned and breathless.
The bow's haft had been scarred and nearly severed by the blade but it still worked. Snatching it up, the orc pulled the second arrow to his jaw.
Still half-dazed with blood trickling down his chin, Aragorn hauled himself to his feet. The rocks were slick from the mist and his boots skidded as he fought to keep his balance.
The stumble spoiled the orc's aim. But not well enough.
Aragorn, though having a few perilous close shaves to his name, had never actually been struck with an arrow before, his brothers being far too overprotective to allow such a thing to happen. But they were not here now.
The shock of the bolt piercing his lower left shoulder momentarily stunned him and for a precious second or two he didn't even feel the pain. Then his legs gave out. He could only stare in horror at the wooden shaft protruding grotesquely from his tunic and the steadily growing patch that turned it an even darker green.
A quiet laugh like bugs crawling over dead flesh made him snap his head up though it hurt his chest to do so. Slaquer, was still standing over him, fingering his bow. Thinking his quarry finished, the orc ignored him and began rifling through the man's pack for anything of value.
"That is not yours." His vision flickered so severely, all Aragorn could see was the weird reverse-image outline of the orc standing a yard away from him. But he had found some unused reserve of strength in him. With a supreme effort he forced the pain back and blinked his vision clear.
"Still stubborn, gangrel?" With cruelty typical of his race, Slaquer backhanded the defiant human roughly, splitting his cheek and knocking him to the ground dangerously close to the precipice.
The shaft jolted on the stone hard enough to bend the wood and force it deeper into yielding flesh. Aragorn cried out in a voice choked by dirt and his head dropped onto the rocks as he abruptly lost consciousness.
Bending over, Slaquer briefly resumed pawing through the man's pack, finding nothing but a packet of smelly herbs, a spare tunic, trousers and a wooden pipe. But there was a sword strapped to the young man's belt. Aragorn groaned as the orc roughly turned him over and snapped his belt buckle off, flinging it aside for the blade.
"This'll do." He twirled the blade once before sheathing it and hitching it over his shoulder by the strap. "Nothing else worth having."With a savage grunt the orc tipped the limp body over the edge, smiling widely in dark satisfaction when he heard the thud of impact far below.