Aragorn traced light, spidery trails across the dew that had collected on his cloak. He really wanted a bath, but Gimli was still on guard. You see, Aragorn had a rather large, purple birthmark on his lower back. It was shaped like a heart, and when he was young, Elladan had given him no end of grief about it. Aragorn really didn't want Legolas to hear about it. Thus, Aragorn had no choice but to make up reasons why he didn't bathe regularly like the others did.

"Aragorn!" Legolas called. "It's your turn to have a wash now."

Gimli was still putting his beard back into plaits for the morning, and Legolas had been unsubtly hinting about maybe stopping by the Anduin while they were in the area to maybe wash his hair, it being all dirty from the road. And maybe Aragorn, being an heir of Elendil, would like to wash his hair too in view of his ancestral home. And maybe wash the rest of him too. If there was time. Gimli was usually the one who didn't want to stop for anything, but even he was talking about going to the river for a nice wash to get the dust and orc bits off. That was four months ago.

"Aragorn? Are you there?" Legolas called.

"Aragorn!" Gimli yelled. "Don't make me come after you!"

Then there was the thing with Eomer and the Rohirrim. You might think Aragorn would blend in among the rugged horsemen, what with their horses and fighting and riding all day. You would be surprised, then, to find that they generally kept themselves clean since horses needed plenty of water and liked to cool off in the deep slow streams around Rohan. After a few days together, even the Rohirrim were staying upwind of Aragorn and scrubbing themselves off like they were trying to wash his hair vicariously. Aragorn noticed that they spent quite a bit of time fording rivers lately, and Eomer usually called for a dismount as they went through instead of just riding. When this happened, Gimli would act like he had trouble getting off the horse and grab Aragorn's arm. He wasn't that bad at riding, and everyone knew it. That was two weeks ago.

"Hey Legolas, check in that tree. I'll see if he's back across the path" Gimli called. Aragorn snorted. As if he couldn't hear them.

"We could just go back to camp and wait until he comes back. He's got to eat some time."

"Silly elf, forests are made for rangers. He's probably better off than we are. We're better off finding him now."

Theoden was really very nice about it. More so than Gandalf, anyway. That wizard was quick to anger, but he wasn't very subtle. Anyway, Theoden sent his niece over with some cardamom seeds and wine. Maybe if Aragorn was some... man like anyone else he would have fallen for it, but he was a ranger. Cardamom pods were a great oral antiseptic, and alcohol was always a good failsafe. He was surprised that Theoden knew enough to suggest it. That was a few days ago, and Aragorn had run to Fangorn to escape the king-wizard combo that had become the latest unholy alliance in Aragorn's life. Everyone had joined in except the ents who were still watching Isengard. Thankfully. For all his ranger skills, Aragorn was having a hard time keeping track of all the people running around the forest looking for him.

Something fell from above, and Aragorn blacked out. When he came to, he was in a warm, soft bed and... and... his hair was clean! And he didn't smell like six months of cross-country running. Which meant that someone had to have seen his birthmark. Or everyone...

Aragorn had a mystery to solve!