Summary: Legolas and Aragorn go to investigate a town where Elven patrols are constantly going missing. What happens when they become the next targets?
Disclaimer: Check the publish & update dates. I'm obviously not Tolkien, and if I were, I'd be at the publisher's by now. All I own is a STUPID CRAPPY LAPTOP THAT BARELY LETS ME TYPE! If there are any missing letters, that is why, and I apologize sincerely.
X X X X
The rain poured down on the barren landscape as Aragorn and Legolas trudged through the mud to the tiny, barely lit town only a few hundred metres away. They had been walking through the rain for several hours, the last of which had also been in the dark, and tempers were running high.
"Finally," muttered Aragorn as he pulled his foot out of the mud yet again, only to replace it about a metre in front of where he had taken it out of the ground originally. "You know, we could have been there earlier, if a stupid foliage-obsessed elf hadn't decided to climb a tree that was miles out of our way!"
"You would have climbed it too, if you were an elf," retorted Legolas, a few strides in front of the grumbling ranger. "It was the first tree for days. Imagine if you were confronted with… There you go. I can't think of anything filthy humans love so desperately. Edain are so primitive, they are incapable of feeling love for anything on the beautiful love-filled world!"
A handful of mud struck him squarely in the back of his head. He turned to see that Aragorn had stopped and was standing there, his chest heaving with emotion. He looked extremely angry.
"Take it back!" he growled.
Legolas stared at him, suddenly remembering Arwen. He felt very ashamed.
"I'm sorry," he said sincerely. "I didn't mean what I said. I take it back completely."
Aragorn's face softened as he regarded his friend. "It's all right," he said. "I'm sorry I got angry at you. I know how much you like trees. And it was the first one in forever-long." He lifted his feet out of the mud once more and squelched over to his best friend. "Forgive me?"
"Of course!" laughed Legolas. "I have to admit, I do see how my little 'tree obsession', as you so kindly call it, is to make fun of. Let's just focus on getting to the town from now on, shall we?"
Aragorn nodded, smiling. He was not irritated any more by the rain and mud, he was glad simply to be on good terms with his best friend once more.
As they entered the town, they were immediately struck by how silent it was. Nobody moved, and it seemed like no building breathed with life within. Aragorn quickly spotted a pub and dragged Legolas inside.
So, this is where the town is, thought Legolas as Aragorn pulled him over to the bar. The pub was packed with drunk strangers, mostly overweight, laughing raucously and spilling drinks. Legolas and Aragorn took seats at the bar. The overweight bartender placed two full mugs in front of them without being asked and then held out his hand for payment. Aragorn fished around inside his cloak for some money, and gave the man a couple of coins.
"So, who are we looking for?" Legolas mused as Aragorn took a small sip and gagged.
"That's horrible!" Aragorn cried between coughs. "I don't even know if it is ale!"
A stranger sat down on the other side of Legolas and received his own mug of "ale". He did not look like the others in the bar: he was thin, for one thing, but he had the hood of his black cloak drawn up, hiding his features. Even so, he seemed to Legolas to emanate intelligence, and he decided to talk to the man.
"Are you Rancular?"
The man turned to the elf. "Yes," he said. His voice was deep and powerful. "Are you another elven patrol sent to protect us?"
"Not exactly," said Legolas. "My companion and I are investigating the disappearance of these patrols." He indicated Aragorn, who had by now caught on to the conversation and had forgotten the predicament of his disgusting ale. "Can you tell us anything?"
"Perhaps." Rancular drained the entire mug before him and sighed in a satisfied way. Aragorn's jaw dropped. "Were those patrols friends of yours?"
"I'm a personal scout to the king of Mirkwood," Legolas said, not willing to reveal his true identity to this man. "He asked me to investigate why all his soldiers kept disappearing. If they have been killed by your people, I assure you he will not be happy."
The man let out a short, rough laugh. "They haven't been killed. They've been sent."
"Sent?" asked Aragorn. "Sent where?"
"Not sent anywhere by anyone I know, so you can stop looking at me like that," Rancular snapped at Aragorn. "They listened too hard. They have been lied to."
Legolas was beginning to wonder why his father had told them to find this man. They could not get a straight answer out of him. "Lied to by who?"
"The Liars," said Rancular. "Don't ask me anymore, I don't know anything past here. Just that they only disappeared right after they left here, not when they were actually in the town."
Throughout the entire conversation, Rancular had not removed his hood from around his face. Aragorn noticed this fact and thought it odd. He planned to discuss it with Legolas later.
They hired a room for the night with the intent of getting warm and dry for the beginnings of their search in the morning. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way. The roof leaked a little over the table, so they had to put their belongings on the floor, which was dirty. It was not going to be a pleasant night.
"Ah, well," Aragorn muttered as he viewed his surroundings. "I've had worse."
"Speak for yourself!" moaned Legolas. "I've never seen anything this horrible in my life!"
"Yes, but that's only because you find joy in staying out in the open, whereas I detest it. We've had much the same experiences, Legolas, it's just out attitudes that differentiate them."
Legolas smiled: his friend was subtly trying to tell him to get a better attitude. Not likely.
X X X X
Several hours later, his attitude was as sour as ever. He could not sleep. Aragorn's snores were keeping him awake, as was the constant drip, drip of the water falling from the shabby roof. But what was keeping him awake most was worry.
He had not told Aragorn yet, but the tree he had climbed earlier had been completely silent. That did not sit well with the wood elf, who was used to the chattering of the forest every morning without fail. He was worried about the tree, about the man they had spoken too earlier, and about what would happen come morning. They had no leads to go on. None! This was an impossible task that his father had set him, of that he felt sure.
Suddenly, he heard a voice. It was not a human voice, but it sounded like it was coming from the window. Legolas went over and slid the catch, opening the window.
His first suspicions had proved accurate: the voice was not human. It seemed to be coming from a tree that was positioned a few feet in front of the window. Legolas stood there for a while, losing himself in the song of the tree. It was only Aragorn's snuffle of displeasure at being sprayed with rain that made Legolas shut the window and head back to bed.
He got to sleep a few minutes later, his head still swimming with the song of the tree.
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A/N: So, what do you think? Worth continuing? Drop me a review and tell me your thoughts. BTW, there will be more action, I promise. This just set the scene for what's to come.