When In Middle Earth: The edited, revised and face-lifted edition:
When in Middle Earth, do as the Middle-Earthlings do. Sakura finds herself in the midst of Middle Earth, immersed in a war she has no part in, saving a world and people she doesn't know, and why? Because Naruto would be disappointed in her if she ever got back and told him she hadn't...
In which Sakura realises that Dorothy's got nothing on her
The Lord of The Rings, it's associated characters and components are copyright and property of its author J. R. R. Tolkien, the actors that played them, and the director of the trilogy of films of the same name, Peter Jackson. The character Sakura and any components associated with the manga and anime 'Naruto' are property and copyright of Masashi Kishimoto
The story begins:
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 in a fight that would surely end all fights. Or so she'd hoped. She ignored the short sharp pain that hit her heart with that thought, 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? 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, and a civilian to boot. She didn't like that thought. But the light was still hurting her eyes and for the life of her she couldn't bring herself to open them. So, Sakura froze, and 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 at all. So, a civilian practiced in stealth? Or were they simply small and light of foot? She was the supposed brainiac of her class – she didn't like it when she didn't know things. Not at all. 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 flinched. It was partly at the coldness of the wet cloth; in part because she hadn't expected it; entirely unintentional. 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 unkempt - beard. His clothes looked nothing like the civilians she was used to. There were no bright colours or dyes – he was dressed in greens and browns – she wasn't sure whether everyone here dressed this way or if its purpose was wholly based in camouflage. A thick cloak hung about his shoulders, and she didn't miss the hilt of a sword that hid under the cloth by his hip, or the bow and quiver across his back. Those weren't common in Konoha either.
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…such a strange girl this was. Her hair had given him pause, when he saw her first – such a colour! A colour he'd only seen in flowers, and yet brighter than any flower he'd laid eyes on.
"Where am I?" Inwardly, Sakura winced at how hoarse her voice was. Her lips were dry and the bottom one cracked as she spoke, leaving the bitter taste of blood in her mouth. 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 used the damp cloth to wipe the blood from her mouth. 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, and very much out of reach. She added 'clever' to her mental description of her stranger).
"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. He sat back from her, with his hands still on her shoulders, as if he expected her to topple forward as soon as he let go. This, Sakura conceded to herself, might very well be true. She'd never felt so weak in her life.
"You are in the forests near Bree," said the stranger at last, his eyes flickering across her face. She realised with a jolt that he was looking for signs of recognition. He continued: "I am the Ranger here." At her look of utter confusion, he felt the need to expand. "We are in the realm of Eriador."
Sakura looked at him blankly.
"In the north-western realms of Middle Earth?"
Sakura's face was blanker than a white canvas.
"Where the hell is Middle Earth?"
It dawned on them both that she was a lot farther from home than she had originally thought.
To be continued…
For your benefit, changes (if they're not obvious) made to this chapter include:
I expanded on some of the descriptions and edited some of the longer sentences to make them less run-on-ish.
I corrected some bad grammar.
I dug out my ancient copy of the Lord of the Rings and found the map in it, and corrected the geography.