The road was unusually quiet and a very soft rain fell as dusk came slowly. Aragorn was alone on the road, wrapped in his travel stained elven cloak, which was soaked through from many hours of previous travel. Aragorn's walk was slow for he was very tired, as was his horse, which faithfully trailed behind the Ranger. Aragorn's bow was over his shoulder and his quiver was nearly full on his back. An elvish sword hung at his side and a jeweled dagger hung at his other hip. The Ranger had been traveling for many days, riding and walking hard to reach Rivendell with an important message straight from the Elven King of Mirkwood. Aragorn was eager to arrive, waiting impatiently to see his foster-father, Lord Elrond and his foster-brothers Elladan and Elrohir. He was close now, perhaps a day's journey, but Aragorn was filled with apprehension. The road was too quiet.

Aragorn slowed his pace further and listened. There was no sound beyond the fall of rain. It was unnerving, for there was no rustle of wind or sound of bird. Aragorn's horse whickered, suddenly nervous. Aragorn froze and dropped down on the path, lying in the mud, listening to the ground. He lay there for a few moments, listening. Moments later he was on his feet, sword drawn. He turned to his horse, quickly deciding she was far too exhausted to carry him anywhere fast. Aragorn had felt the wet ground shake. Heavy horses, as many as ten, were riding towards him on the road and quickly. They could be harmless, but Aragorn had a feeling wherever or whatever it was, was decidedly .evil. Aragorn shuddered, pulling his cloak tightly about himself and putting the hood over his head. He whispered Elvish in his horse's ear, bidding her to hide and come back for him when the riders had passed. The horse seemed to understand and left the road.

Aragorn could hear the approaching riders and he too stepped off the road, hiding in the brush, crouched down. He had sheathed his sword by then and held his bow now, arrow ready. When the Riders came into view, Aragorn felt as if the rain had turned to snow and his blood ran cold. Something about them struck fear into him. There were indeed ten horses. On nine of the horses, which where huge black monsters with cold steel armor, were nine riders, dressed entirely in black flowing robes. Their hoods were up, so he could not see their faces. Long, cruel swords hung at their sides. Aragorn briefly wondered if they had faces. The last rider was leading a brown horse, one that had armor that Aragorn recognized as being made in Mirkwood.

On the horse was a bound figure, dressed in greens and browns. Aragorn supposed it was an elf. As the riders drew closer, Aragorn felt evil seem to spread around him, and it dawned on him that this was probably the threat that the message he carried spoke about, for these creatures were plainly evil and something of Sauron's hand. They were almost upon him when Aragorn felt as if the lead horse actually saw him. With an ethereal scream, the horse reared, causing the others to do the same, excepting the elf's horse, which seemed confused. The black horses all seemed to act as if they had been blinded and the riders fought for control. Aragorn knew that in some way, he had been discovered.

Seizing the moment of confusion, Aragorn notched an arrow and shot. His aim was true and the arrow sliced through the rope that held the elf's horse to the hand of the black rider. His movement caught the attention of the riders, who, after controlling their very frightened steeds, began to dismount. Aragorn notched another arrow and took aim at the first rider and let the arrow go. The arrow struck the black cloaked figure, which screamed like a tortured bird, as if it had been burned. All nine of them seemed to grow furious and drew their swords. Aragorn was shocked that the rider he shot didn't even falter in step.

Knowing he was horribly outnumbered, Aragorn contemplated a course of action, his number one choice being to flee. He didn't get the chance. The creatures were upon him in no time and they attacked relentlessly. Aragorn defended himself as best as he could, his skills being pushed to the limit. Every time he thought he just might make it, he remembered there were nine of them. He felt each blow whether he parried or not. The rider's attack never faltered and Aragorn grew weak and tired. He was cut and bleeding as the creatures sought to destroy him. He began to stumble and the swords bit into him here and there. Aragorn found that his vision was starting to blur and he knew he was losing the battle. The last blow was dealt, both figuratively and literally, when one of the riders found a hole in his defense and struck. The sword fell across Aragorn's chest, breaking both bone and skin. The blow knocked the wind out of Aragorn and his chest felt like it was on fire. Aragorn stumbled, falling to his knees. It hurt to breathe and his vision was going black. Another rider brought its sword down on Aragorn's back, cutting him viciously. Aragorn did not even have time to scream in pain before he lost consciousness and fell to the ground, dropping his sword. He landed on his side, breaking his bow, and lay still.

The riders seemed to contemplate the still form of Aragorn son of Arathorn, the heir to the throne of Gondor. None of them seemed to want to touch him, even to check if he were alive. They all turned and walked away, leaving his still figure on the ground, in the mud, hidden far into the woods, where they hoped no one would ever discover him.

These dark riders were Nazgul, ring-wraiths, Sauron's servants who were neither dead nor alive, serving evil because of their fall. If they had recognized the young man they had just fought as being the Heir of Isildur, they surely would have killed him and never even taken the chance of leaving him alive. However, they had not recognized him as any more than a meddling Ranger who had cost them an elf prisoner that had caused them annoyance. Returning to the road, they saw no sign of the brown horse or its rider. After a quick search, they gave up and re-mounted, thundering off down the path, not even taking the time to glance back.

The rain continued to fall, growing steadier and the road became awash. Aragorn lay in the mud, off the path where the fight had occurred. He lay somewhat on his side, his bow broken beneath him, arrows from his quiver spread in the mud. His sword lay near him in the mud, which mixed with Aragorn's blood, washing over its blade. The Ranger did not move and the forest was once again far too quiet.