Hello, all! This is miladyRanger again, your friendly neighborhood author (like you didn't know that already…) For those of you who were expecting an update on A Night of Worry, my apologies. I am putting this up to appease you.

Technically, this would be set when Aragorn was about 24 – before he met Gandalf and left for Rohan, and after he's learned his own name. Since we know basically nothing of this time period, I figured I had some leeway with what I could write: hence this story, which evolved from a prompt from a former teacher of mine. Anyway, this is most definitely a one-shot, so don't expect an update. Thoughts and responses to it are much appreciated, though… *hint, hint*

A Precarious Path

"I really should have listened to Legolas," Aragorn muttered to himself. He was thoroughly drenched from the sudden storm. Cursing the weather, of course, didn't help his situation, and the tree he had taken refuge under seemed to have decided to amuse itself by letting the water drip from its leaves directly onto the unsuspecting, (previously) sleeping Man's face.

He had intended to dry his things out with a fire later that morning, but the entire forest seemed to have turned against him. What little downed wood was to be found was just as sodden as Aragorn's cloak, and utterly useless as fuel for a fire. Once again cursing his ill luck, Aragorn gathered his pack, strapping his bow and quiver on as he left, hoping to make it to the well-worn trail over the High Pass by that afternoon.

That was when the weather truly took a turn for the worse. The temperature suddenly dropped during the morning hours, turning the sodden trail into a sheet of ice. It also put the drenched Man in an exceptionally bad mood. He hated being cold.

Shivering now, Aragorn abandoned the path. It would be too dangerous to use as it was. He could easily slip and fall to his death on the icy slopes. There had to be another way. But where?

He hunted for an alternate route along the mountainside, muttering to himself all the while. "Why didn't you just listen to Legolas?" he berated himself. "He told you this would be a bad time to try to cross the mountains. Even the twins warned you not to cross them this week, and they do it all the time! So why didn't you listen to them? They know these mountains far better than you ever will. They've lived here for more than three millennia! You could've taken their advice and taken the safe route across, but no, you had to prove you could do it!" He laughed bitterly. "That was such a bright idea." Aragorn paused and watched the clouds overhead. "Oh, please don't snow! Please don't -" He cut himself off when a snowflake landed on his nose. Aragorn hung his head in despair. "Great. Just great." As if to challenge the world, he looked to the sky. "Could this trip get any worse?"

After an hour of trudging through the sticky white drifts, he couldn't even remember why he hadn't listened to Legolas. He was frozen, wet and miserable, was catching a cold, and to top things off, he had come to a plateau that offered no shelter at all. The wind whipped the snow straight into his eyes, blinding him to the surrounding area.

Having no landmarks in the whirling snow and barely able to see his hand in front of his face, Aragorn walked right onto the slick path he had abandoned earlier that morning. And, just as he had suspected would happen if he took the trail, he slipped.

Unable to stop himself, Aragorn slid straight off the edge of the plateau, careening, out of control, down the mountainside.

"Slamming into trees is not a very healthy way to stop a descent," Aragorn thought to himself once he'd stopped his momentum. He had managed to fall about a third of the way down the steep slope, rolling into trees, briar patches and even a few smaller boulders before coming to a stop when the ground leveled out once again. The Man checked himself for any major damage, and after finding only minor scratches, attempted to rise, pulling himself up on a nearby sapling.

He made it to his feet, and although he was still dizzy and disoriented from the fall, he was very grateful to be alive and essentially uninjured.

Several hours, another (thankfully minor) fall and an encounter with a small troop of Orcs later, Aragorn made it to the small outpost overlooking a long unused portion of the Road.

Reflecting on his trip after building a fire and getting warm and dry, Aragorn began to laugh. "And this is why you should listen to Legolas when he tells you not to make this trip until next week!"

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