Chance Encounter

Chapter 1: Campfires and Whirlpools.

A/N: This is my first ever fanfic so please be nice and review. If you don't like crossovers then don't read it. Also could be slightly AU.

The night was dark for the new moon gave no light to the inhabitants of Middle Earth. Clouds veiled the stars. There was nothing except for the small group of people making camp on the coarse grass.

Pippin wanted a fire, or to be exact, he wanted a fire so he could have a hot meal. For some strange reason that was beyond the hobbit's comprehension, Gandalf had forbidden them to light a fire. Stranger still, Merry had agreed with the wizard.

"You don't know who might be watchin' us, Pip," his cousin had said. Pippin thought that the entire Fellowship was being overcautious. He did not like his supper cold and he disliked standing watch even more. Staring into the dark for two hours was not his idea of fun. Fortunately for him, Boromir noticed how much he hated standing watch and would often do it for him. Pippin was extremely grateful that the generous man of Gondor was part of their Fellowship.

Sam looked wistfully at his pots and sighed. He, like Pippin, wanted a hot meal but he understood the dangers of making a fire. Not for the first time, he wished that the Ring had not gone to Frodo. Hobbits were not supposed to travel so far from home. Moreover, they were not supposed to go on quests to save the world. That was supposed to be the responsibility of the Big Folk.

Aragorn was taking the first watch of the night. His keen Ranger's eyes peered into the darkness, discerning the slightest movements. He tried to concentrate but his thoughts kept on wandering back to Imladris. He pulled out his pipe then decided against lighting it. Even the slightest amount of light might betray their position to the enemy. He felt the presence of someone behind him and he turned around to see the dark silhouette of Legolas.

"You seem restless, Estel," said the elf softly.

"I was thinking of our time back in Imladris," explained the man.

"Ah," said Legolas knowingly and Aragorn felt the urge to hit the elf on the head. It was slightly difficult to do so as he was sitting down whilst the elf was standing.

A light shot from the sky down to the ground some miles south of their camp, startling the entire Fellowship. Boromir leapt to his feet and unsheathed his sword. Pippin choked on his water and Frodo's hand flew to the chain on his neck.

"Mithrandir, what was that?" asked Legolas.

"I'm not sure," replied Gandalf. "Whatever it is that fell from the sky, we will come across it sometime tomorrow, if it hasn't moved from where it fell."

Balian stared out across the dark, tossing waves. His mind was on Jerusalem, on Sibylla. She had refused to relinquish her power and she chose to stay in the East. He could have stayed and become her Champion but he had had enough of politics. Deep down, he was hurt that she had chosen power over him. "The heart will mend," Brother John, the Hospitaller, had said. Balian doubted that his ever would. One particular large bolt of lightning struck the water, narrowly missing the ship that he was in. Suddenly, the water started to swirl, creating a whirlpool that was dragging the ship down. Everyone panicked and even Balian was afraid. He did not want to be pulled down into a watery grave. The mast cracked and the ship broke into two. Balian clung on desperately to a crate full of spices, trying to keep his head above water. The last thing that he remembered was the cold salty water flooding his mouth and nostrils.

"So what do you think fell from the sky last night?" asked Pippin. Merry rolled his eyes. His cousin had been asking everyone ever since the event.

"A comet," replied Frodo. He too, was getting tired of the young Took's question.

"Peregrin Took," growled Gandalf. "If you do not shut that infernal mouth of yours, I shall sew your lips together."

From the back of the column, Aragorn snorted and broke into a coughing fit. Legolas' lips were pressed tightly together as the elf fought to suppress his laughter. Boromir, who did not know the wizard quite as well as the others did, looked genuinely surprised. The hobbit in question, much to his credit, shut his mouth and sulked.

Merry came up behind Pippin and put a comforting hand on his shoulder. "If we walk a little faster, I daresay we would come across whatever it is quite soon," he said. "It fell just behind that boulder."

Pippin was not the only one whose mind was on the mysterious falling object. Legolas and Gimli were also debating about the same topic.

"I say it was just a rock," rumbled the dwarf.

"How do you know it was not a fallen star, or a sign from the Valar?" demanded Legolas.

"You elves have an overactive imagination," snorted Gimli.

"And dwarves lack the ability to think beyond their limited knowledge," retorted the elf.

Sam seemed so amazed to see one of the Firstborn behaving in such a childish manner that he could only stare at Legolas and say nothing.

"Alright children," said Aragorn to both the elf and the dwarf. "Stop arguing. We'll find out soon enough."

"Wait a moment…" began Legolas indignantly.

"Who's the child here?" finished Gimli. They glared at Aragorn who shrugged, and left them to their endless debating. He caught up with Gandalf, who was at the front.

"We should be just about there," he said to the wizard.

"You want to know, don't you?" said Gandalf.

"Well, a little curiosity is good for the health," said Aragorn.

Gandalf chuckled. "Go on ahead then, if you are so curious," he said.

"Do you think it's safe?" asked Aragorn.

"It's only a couple of yards away," said Gandalf. "We'll be able to help you if you find trouble."

Aragorn sprinted ahead. Legolas saw him leave the group and left Gimli in mid-sentence to follow him. Not to be outdone, the dwarf cursed and ran after the elf. The man and the elf reached the boulder together and stared down at their find. It was a man, lying face down on the ground. His clothes were damp and his dark hair was stiff with a white powdery substance. Aragorn knelt down next to the man and felt for a pulse. "He's still alive," he said to no one in particular.

Legolas also knelt. The elf took some of the white substance from the man's hair. He rubbed it between his fingers and sniffed it. Then he cautiously licked it. "Salt," said Legolas. "He's covered in salt."

Aragorn turned the man around. He looked familiar but he did not know where he had seen him before. The man's skin was dark like an Easterling's. A red puckered scar ran down the side of his face from his temple to his jaw. His beard and moustache were also dark and neatly trimmed. His hands were rough and calloused, much like Aragorn's own. A finely crafted sword with a red jewel embedded in its hilt was strapped to the man's belt.

"Where could he have come from?" asked Legolas. Aragorn looked at his friend and suddenly, he understood why the man looked so familiar.

"He looks like you, Legolas," said Aragorn.

"Who looks like the pointy-eared elvish princeling?" said Gimli, catching up with them and puffing hard.

"This man here," replied Aragorn "the man who fell from the sky."

The rest of the Fellowship soon reached them and they made camp there for the night. They stripped the man of his wet clothing and brushed as much salt of him as they could. Since he was more or less of the same size as Boromir, they dressed him in some of Boromir's spare garments. Not once did the stranger wake.

Pippin was tempted to shout in the man's ear or do anything to wake him. The stranger had a lot of questions to answer.