Sakura's eyes stung and she scrunched up her face in a pathetic attempt at fighting away that too-bright light, currently playing havoc on her abused corneas. Eyes still screwed tightly shut, she grunted quietly and steadily began assessing her position, such as she could determine without the use of sight. She could feel springy, mossy ground beneath her, and the whisper of trees brushed across the edges of her hearing. She was aware of the faint sound of splashing water, and birdsong.
'So', she mused, 'I am in or near a forest, near a river, and it is a nice day.' This last revelation was itself rather puzzling, as the last thing she remembered was a torrential downpour. She had thought at the time that it matched her mood perfectly, as she and Kakashi stood preparing to face Sasuke. She ignored the short pain that thought brought to her heart, and returned to her evaluation.
Her ribs ached, but the level of pain indicated bruising rather than a break, for which she was relieved. Broken ribs were a bitch to heal. She directed her medical assessment to the rest of her body. Arms are very sore – probably scraped and bruised. Shins – hurt like hell, probably more bruising. Head, feeling a bit funny – probably a concussion and there was definitely a nasty cut above her eye, because the blood dribbling down her forehead was really starting to irritate her. Oddly, she realised that her injuries were, though minimal, only on the front half of her body – her back was perfectly fine. Had she fallen face-first? Taken an attack face-on? She couldn't remember. Dammit she had probably wound up unconscious again. Belatedly, she also realised that she was laid on her side, in the recovery position – or close to it – which meant that somebody had been taking care of her. She felt momentarily relieved, if Kakashi was able to care for her he must be alive, and she must be with him. Certainly Sasuke would never do such a thing.
This happy thought was soon torn away however, when she heard the footfalls of her caretaker slowly approaching from the same direction as the sound of the water. Had it been her sensei, or even any other shinobi, she would not have heard footfalls at all. This meant that while this person appeared to be looking after her, she was in the presence of a stranger. She didn't like that thought, but the light still hurt her eyes and for the life of her she couldn't bring herself to open them. So, Sakura waited, listening intently as the stranger drew near.
The footsteps were light, and she realised that had she not been a shinobi herself she would most likely have not heard the person coming. Her musings were cut short when a damp cloth made contact with her head, and the blood that had irritated her was gently wiped away. She unintentionally flinched, partly at the coldness of the wet cloth and in part because she hadn't expected it. She instantly berated herself.
"Are you awake now, little one?"
It was a man's voice that had spoken to her, definitely a stranger, but his tone was gentle – like one soothing a frightened Ox – and she felt in her heart that this man meant her no harm, unknown as he was. She was thankful that he spoke one of the languages she recognised, though his dialect and accent was vastly different to that spoken in her homeland. Sakura realised that wherever she was, she was far from home.
And with that unpleasant thought, she struggled to open her eyes.
Seeing what she was attempting to do, the man gently cupped her face with his hands, so as to shade her eyes – for which she was grateful. Slowly she parted her eyelids, wincing slightly at the sunlight, until she was able to squint blearily at her caretaker.
He was a middle-aged man, rather rough-looking and bedraggled, with dark hair that hung to his shoulders and a short – though unkept - beard.
Aragorn was surprised when the girl opened her eyes fully - though she had just awoken, there was no dullness in her eyes. Rather, she appeared to be assessing him. There was intelligence in her gaze, and he guessed that she was already forming conclusions as to her current state and whereabouts. But it was the colour that most shocked him. Never had he seen such a vibrant green, save in the summer trees of fair Rivendell…It seemed that her hair was not the only strangeness about her.
"Where am I?" Inwardly she winced at how hoarse her voice was. The stranger however, immediately brought a water skin to her lips. She struggled to drink from the strange pouch, and spilled a great deal, but her stranger was patient and helped her, 'til he had determined that she'd taken enough. He then gently lifted her into a sitting position; propped against what she guessed was his travelling pack (she could now see her own pack across the clearing, against a tree).
"Where am I?" Sakura repeated, her voice stronger this time, and her companion looked at her oddly for a moment before answering. Her dialect and accent was not like any he had heard before, though she at least seemed to know the language.
"In the forest's near Bree. I am the Ranger here." At her look of utter confusion, he felt the need to expand. "In the southern realm of Middle Earth."
Sakura looked at him blankly.
"Where the hell is Middle Earth?"
It dawned on them both that she was a lot farther from home than she had originally thought.