Mae govannen, all who read here! This story I have dedicated to Jaimie-Erin, who did an absolutely fantastic job beta-ing my first big fic called Forgotten Evil – thank you so much! You have no idea how much your beta-ing has helped me with my writing skills, mellon – I hope they show! big hug and smiles
Disclaimer: I do not own any thing, person or object from Tolkien's Middle Earth. Unfortunately…. :'(
I hope you all enjoy reading it!
Estel – Aragorn's childhood name, meaning hope.
Ada – father
Mellon-nin – my friend
Edain – men
Hannon le – thank you
A different kind of camping trip.
Elrond gave a small sigh as he spoke to the two figures that were mounted on their steeds before him. "Please, try not to get yourselves captured, injured or caught up in a fight with orcs, trolls, wargs, goblins, or other men…"
Aragorn opened his mouth to protest at these seemingly accusatory words, but Elrond raised a hand to silence him, as he continued in an exhausted voice. "Just for once can you please come back uninjured and safe? Else if it were possible for an elf to have grey hairs, then I fear I would be as grey as the hide of a mumakil." He paused and nodded his head in Legolas' direction. "And I fear so would your father."
A small smile lifted on Legolas' face at these words but it went quickly as he resumed a straight face, though the amusement remained evident in his eyes.
"I will keep an eye on this young man here, my Lord Elrond," Legolas said as he nodded his head towards Aragorn, whilst trying to ignore the rather harsh glare he was receiving. "And see to it that he does not run into any trouble."
Elrond shook his head, a small smile also forming on his face. "Honestly you two, you are both as bad as one another, you attract trouble like honey would attract a bee!" He gave a sigh and his face turned serious. "Now go, before I change my mind. May the Valar protect you and please -"
"- Stay safe," Aragorn and Legolas chorused back in a monotonous tone. Elrond gave them an approving smile before stepping back to give some room for the horses as they turned around.
"See you in a day or two, ada!" Aragorn's voiced called out, as he and Legolas kicked their horses into a slow trot and so exiting the courtyard of Rivendell, leaving Elrond to stand there wondering whether or not it was a good idea to let them go so soon after their previous 'adventure'.
When his elven hearing could no longer pick up the sounds of the horse hooves, Elrond turned with a sigh and made his way towards the main doors, heading leisurely towards the library.
Legolas and Aragorn had been riding in silence for about half an hour, just enjoying each other's company, until at last, Aragorn could keep his thoughts quiet no longer.
"See that this young man does not run into any trouble?" he exclaimed in an incredulous voice. "Legolas, mellon-nin, I would argue that it is you who attracts the unwanted attention of orcs and other foul creatures like that that roam this Middle Earth!"
Legolas gave a merry laugh that rang out into their woody surroundings, which was soon joined by Aragorn's.
The day was a pleasant one, and the rays of the bright sun shining above their heads in the cloudless, blue sky left the hearts of all those beneath it merry and light. It did in fact make a pleasant change for the sun to be out. For the last few weeks, a storm had raged in the sky above, leaving the land below to act like a basin for its rain as the clouds had emptied their contents.
Both Legolas and Aragorn had been out for a week or so and were returning to Rivendell when the storm had begun. The storm would not really have bothered them as much as it had done then, but the circumstances surrounding those few days had been different. A band of orcs had been brave enough to test their luck and wonder close to the border where the ranger and elf had been camping overnight.
Despite the fact that they had been relatively close to the border anyway, (by about a league or two), the two friends had nevertheless both taken their weapons, though when they heard the orc call screech out loud in the middle of the night, the boldness of the orcs took them by surprise. The well-trained elven horses had fled the scene, returning to Rivendell rider-less, leaving Aragorn and Legolas to fight for their lives against fifteen or so orcs.
Usually, orcs of this count would not have been too much of a problem for the two friends, but these orcs had been stealthy, taking them quickly by surprise. Both man and elf had managed to discard the orcs, but not without earning a few injuries themselves. Aragorn had been concussed and had managed to somehow twist his ankle, whilst Legolas had received a rather deep cut on the top of his arm. With the absence of their horses, the journey back had been interesting to say the least, and rather painful, for their supplies had abandoned them with the horses. To make matters even worse, the long brewing storm had decided to break open upon them, making the return journey interesting, painful and wet.
After two days of journeying back, Elrond had sent out riders to search for the missing riders. After much bandaging and drinking of medicinal teas, Legolas and Aragorn had earned themselves a bit of a scolding from Elrond at leaving their guards down, but he was glad to have them both back and safe none-the-less.
Two weeks later, Legolas and Aragorn had somehow managed to persuade Elrond to let them out on another camping trip, claiming that they had learnt their lesson. With much reluctance, and wondering as to why he agreed, Elrond relented in the end and given them permission, on the condition that both were to come back unharmed and with their horses.
The water from the ford splashed around the hooves of their steeds as Legolas and Aragorn rode through the natural protection of Imladris, enjoying the feel of the sun on their backs and the sound of the refreshing water as the horses walked through.
"So then," Aragorn called out to the elf that rode besides him. "What say you we head towards a new camping spot I have recently discovered?"
Legolas looked at his friend and raised an eyebrow at the seemingly innocent question. "And when did you discover this one, Estel?" he asked in a slightly reproachful voice.
Aragorn lazily closed his eyes at the heat being emitted from the sun and smiled. "Oh, it was a few weeks before you were due to arrive. Dan and Ro pointed it out to me before they left to head out with a patrol towards the Ettenmoors."
Legolas frowned slightly, but smiled none-the-less. "So, by saying that Dan and Ro pointed it out to you, you did not really discover it, but were merely shown where it was." Amusement lined his voice.
Aragorn opened an eye and gave a grin towards Legolas. "Ah, but my dear elven friend, Dan and Ro only pointed it out to me on a map, they did not mention whether they had or not been there before. So really," Aragorn paused and gave a wink. "I am about to discover it for real."
Legolas let out a short laugh and shook his head at the young man's antiques. "So where is this undiscovered campsite that you speak of?"
"On the west side of the Trollshaws, about…" Aragorn scratched his slightly whiskered chin absent-mindedly. "Say… forty to forty-five miles from here… give or take."
Legolas nodded his head in response, but then gave Aragorn a questioning look.
"Is it safe?"
There was a pause as Aragorn quickly went over this in his mind. A few seconds later, Legolas was given his answer.
"Yes. Yes it is."
Again, Legolas resumed his questioning look, though this time his eyebrows were both raised to add to the effect.
"What? It is safe! At least, it should be safer than our last trip…"
Legolas gave a sigh and pulled his horses reins to a halt. "Is it going to involve you developing concussion and having to use me as your support for a twisted ankle, while I become almost delirious and unconscious courtesy of blood loss?"
Aragorn also pulled his horses reins to a stop as he pondered on the answer for a minute. Twice he opened his mouth to answer, but snapped it shut immediately after. "No," he said slowly. "No. It will be safe. Ish."
"Out of harms way."
Legolas gave a look of disbelief and took in a breath of air, which he exhaled slowly, as he kicked his horse into a trot, which developed into a canter. "Come on then," he called out to Aragorn behind him. "If it is near forty-five miles then we had best make a move whilst the day is young. It is going to take a good ten hours after all!"
With a frustrated sigh, Elrond shut his book with a snap and cast it on the table, unable to concentrate any longer.
"I really should not have agreed to them camping out again so soon after last time," Elrond said warily, as he eyed his cup of herbal tea that was still steaming.
Glorfindel stepped away from the balcony and sat in a chair opposite Elrond, who had begun to absent-mindedly stir his herbal tea with a spoon, although it did not need it.
Usually, Imladris' library brought him peace and quiet as a little place to retreat too, but today, however, he found none of that.
"Do not worry yourself, mellon-nin. The Valar can only test your nerve so much, and I think they have done enough so the past few years," Glorfindel reassured Elrond, whom had also given up stirring his tea.
"This is Estel and Legolas we are talking about," Elrond said, his dark eyebrows raised. "Valar knows how Thranduil copes when they both go to Mirkwood - there is more danger there than here!"
Glorfindel could not help but agree with those points. Somehow, Legolas and Aragorn nearly always managed to run into an enemy – and when the twins were with them… Valar, it was usually worse. Who, however, would not worry, though? But right now, Elrond also had the twins to worry about, for they were travelling to the Ettenmoors to deal with some trouble up there. Elrond was usually alright with this sort of thing, but over the past few months to a year, his worry over Aragorn's well-being had gotten worse, and he knew why.
"Elrond, Estel is nineteen years old. Though he may still seem a child to all our eyes, he is considered an adult in the mortal world." Glorfindel paused for a second before resuming. "I think… that it would be better for you if you accepted that now, than in a few months time."
Elrond froze and gave a deep sigh. In seven months time, he would have to break to Aragorn the details of his true lineage, give him the ring of Barahir, and watch as his mortal son would have to go and join the rangers.
"I know," Elrond said softly. "I just worry for him…"
"And many others do also, mellon-nin. If it eases your heart, I could take Asfaloth and follow Aragorn and Legolas to make sure that for once they will not come into harms way. They would not know of course."
Elrond immediately felt his mood lighten up a bit at these words.
"If you are sure, Glorfindel," Elrond began, a smile forming on his face as he raised himself from his chair.
"Trust me, Elrond. They will be fine. I shall get some provisions and leave within the hour."
By midday, the sun was beating its heat out upon Middle Earth mercilessly, the sky providing no shelter from the warm rays with its clouds. The branches of the trees, however, were doing a sufficient enough job in doing so for the two riders below. Although hot outside, the shade made available by the trees left the wood feeling cool and refreshing, waking up the man and elf who had begun to feel drowsy due to the heat.
Legolas could not help but smirk at the sound of the great yawn coming from Aragorn as their horses walked at a leisurely pace besides one another. Seconds later, Aragorn was graced with yet another yawn, causing Legolas to let out a small laugh as he shook his head in a disbelieving manner. The sound made Aragorn stop mid-yawn.
"Whaar iiiiis iiit?"
Legolas shook his fair head again and looked at Aragorn with a straight face, mirth gleaming from his bright eyes. "I am sorry, but, despite my elven abilities, I am incapable of understanding edain yawn speech."
Aragorn's mouth snapped shut, and a confused expression crossed his face. "I'm sorry, but what…?"
A grin replaced Legolas' straight face, and the elf turned his gaze to the path before them. "I was merely musing at how only a mortal could sleep late into the morning and still be tired hours later."
"In all fairness, my friend, the heat does tend to make those in it drowsy." He paused and a playful frown formed across his brow. "And you cannot deny that you were getting tired also. I saw that near yawn that you battled against."
Legolas let out an un-elf like snort of indignation. "I did not nearly yawn, I was taking in a deep breath of the surrounding air." He stopped and raised an eyebrow. "When have you ever seen me yawn, Estel?"
Aragorn sat back in the saddle and tried to think up a time when he had ever seen Legolas yawn. Come to think of it, he didn't think he ever had…
The frown of thought that was on his brow disappeared as he rolled his eyes. "Point taken."
"Hannon-le," came the smug reply.
Deciding it would be wise to change the conversation topic before Legolas would start talking about his victory, Aragorn glanced around the trees and then turned his attention the his elven friend.
"So what do you think of the wood so far? What do the trees say of your presence?"
Legolas cast a sideways glance at Aragorn, knowing full well why he was changing the conversation topic, but smiled none-the-less as he allowed his elven senses to drift into the surroundings, picking up all talk and motion of the nearby trees.
"They welcome us both. Long has it been, they say, since either elf or man came through these parts without the burden of duty from an errand to seek out evil, and they welcome it."
Around him, the trees spoke up their greetings and feelings of privilege at having a wood elf, and not just any wood elf, but the Prince of Mirkwood, in their company beneath the boughs. In turn, Legolas bade his thanks towards the trees. It made a change for him to be amongst trees almost untainted by evil, unlike the beech and oak trees of his home. In all fairness, he thought, as he scolded himself, not all of the trees at home are either. True enough, many of the trees were not touched by the slow evil that was being emitted from Dol Guldor like a poisonous fume, but many others had.
"It is nice here," Legolas said, resuming his answering of Aragorn's questions. He did not need to elaborate further, for Aragorn understood why. "It is calm… at least, the trees say it has been calmer for the last nine years." He shook his head at that strange comment made by the trees. "How are we doing for time, mellon-nin?"
Aragorn tilted his head tot eh side slightly, and looked up as he worked it out. "Well… we have made pretty good progress so far. We have been travelling for three and a bit hours and have entered the wood, so I reckon we could be there in another seven. Eight if including a lunch break."
Legolas glanced around the area and pulled the reins of his horse so that it stopped. "Well what better place than here?"
Aragorn stopped his horse and also glanced around the area. Legolas was right, what better place than here? There was a small stream for the horses to drink from, a few cool rocks to sit on, grass also for the horses, and more importantly, shade.
Aragorn released the reins he held and swung his leg over the saddle to dismount in a fashion that one could only learn from elves. Legolas likewise did the same, if a little more gracefully.
Ten minutes later, both man and elf were sitting comfortably on a rock beneath the branches of an oak, eating bread and fruit they had taken with them in their packs, a water skin between them as they enjoyed their surroundings and watched the horses drink from the stream.
When they had both finished eating, Aragorn lazily leant back against the rock behind him, nodding off in the heat and silence. Legolas on the other hand was doing quite the opposite.
Glancing down at the dozing man at his feet and smiling, Legolas moved his gaze so that he was looking up to spot a branch just low enough for him to reach. Spotting one, he bent his knees and lithely jumped up to grab it, swinging himself up. His light elven form barely moved the branches beneath his feet as he continued to climb up quietly, until at last, he spotted the perfect branch and jumped over to it, landing cat fashion neatly on top.
With a relaxed sigh, he leant back casually against the oak that greeted him, and allowed one leg to dangle whilst the other remained on the branch, bent slightly at the knee with an arm upon it.
He closed his eyes and allowed his elven senses to blend with the surroundings, picking up all manners of life and emotion, as he enjoyed the peacefulness of the wood. The sounds of the water trickling by and the birds put him at ease, and for a brief moment he forgot all of his troubles. With his eyes still closed, Legolas drew in a quiet breath. As he released it, the humming of a soft elven tune escaped from him, of which the trees and animals felt joy from, honoured with the presence of one of the firstborn.
He did not know how long he stayed like that for, just humming quietly up in a tree. He could sense that Aragorn was still asleep in the shade below him, and decided that a good forty minutes had probably passed. A bit longer would not hurt.
He ceased his humming and once again delved his senses into his surroundings. This wood was strange to him. Like many of the woods and forests of Middle Earth, these trees whispered of evils that used to dwell here, terrorising them, but that evil had now gone, though a great reminder was with them always. They were glad that whatever it was was now gone; yet they mourned the loss of many trees and good folk who used to wonder here but were driven out.
As Legolas listened to the songs and words of the trees, a sudden feeling of being watched startled him. His eyes snapped open, and the elf immediately brought his hand up to his bow and the other to his quiver to draw out an arrow.
Holding the arrow up to his bowstring, he held it there as his keen eyes pierced the wood. He scanned the surrounding trees as he looked past the shade and shelter they gave – a good cover for unwelcomed foes. Unable to hear or even see anything, Legolas narrowed his blue eyes and stole a quick glance to Aragorn who was still dozing below. He knew immediately that the gaze was not coming from Aragorn – he would have heard the mortal awakening before he even knew he was waking. Not only that, but from what Legolas could see, Aragorn's chest was rising and falling with a steady rhythm, indicating that he was in fact still sleeping.
Legolas smiled at the thought of his friend being totally oblivious to what was going on around him. Should he have been awake, Aragorn would have gotten his bow out by now, and would have been quite the contrast to his present state.
Legolas gave an annoyed sigh at the disturbance of the peace he felt, and began to climb back down the oak, bow and arrow in one hand.
He landed softly on the ground besides Aragorn and placed a hand on the man's shoulder, gently easing him awake.
Aragorn did not open his eyes at first, but gave a small smile. "Have we dwelt here long enough?"
Legolas smiled at these words. "Aye, we have. Though I am of course assuming that you would like to reach the site some when today!"
Aragorn opened one eye and then the other, still smiling. "That was the intention," he laughed.
Legolas offered a hand to the man and pulled him up to his feet, before they made their way to the horses nearby, who were eating grass from a patch they had found in the shade.
Checking that nothing had been left behind, and that the water skins were attached to their saddles, Legolas mounted his horse, put away the arrow into its quiver, and shouldered his bow, making Aragorn turn around, a questioning look on his face. Legolas met it with an innocent expression.
"Why did you have your bow out? And an arrow?" Aragorn asked curiously at the elf who had just picked up his reins.
"I was keeping it out for precaution, that is all," he answered steadily, followed by a small mutter loud enough for Aragorn to hear. "Curious edain…"
Aragorn laughed. "Curiosity is unfortunately a trait I seemed to have picked up from you elves! You have only yourselves to blame, mellon-nin."
Legolas rolled his eyes and kicked his horse into a walk just behind Aragorn's, whilst trying to ignore the comment just made.
But he stopped and turned in his saddle when the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end, a clear sign that indicated that they were again being watched. Legolas narrowed his eyes, trying to see as far as his elven sight would allow him, but he saw nothing. He was so intent on trying to spot the source of this uncomfortable feeling that Aragorn's voice made him jump.
"Come on you slow elf!" he called out a few metres ahead. "We went to get there by sunrise, remember?" Aragorn's cheerful voice turned serious when he realised that he had in fact just made Legolas jump. "Legolas? What is it?"
Legolas blinked and sat back in his saddle properly, meeting Aragorn's gaze. "Nothing," he lied. There was no reason for Aragorn to have to worry about a silly little feeling he had felt. At least this time, unlike their last eventful trip, Legolas was acutely aware of his surroundings. So much so that I cannot even work out what it is that may be watching us…. "I was just checking to see that we had left nothing behind." He paused and a confused look quickly flitted across his face before disappearing. "Again."
Aragorn gave him a curious look followed by a sigh, knowing that Legolas was not going to elaborate. "Fair enough. Come on then!"
Both gave a soft kick to their horses, and when Aragorn was ahead of him by a metre or two, Legolas dared a last look behind him. Seeing nothing for sure, he gave a sigh and a few seconds later, both friends were cantering down the path, eager to get to the mysterious campsite.
That's the first chapter! Second chapter should be up in the next few days or so – the fic is acting as my break in-between hours of revision lol.