2. First Break
A/N ….. ' this is thoughts,'
It had finally come time to leave the safety of Rivendell for the uncertainty of Mordor. The Fellowship, joined by the still mysterious ranger, followed the small hobbit Frodo as he began to wind his way down the path. Most of Imlandris stood at the gate watching their departure, with little hope and much fear, as the champions of Middle Earth faded from sight.
Gandalf took the lead from Frodo while the rest of the Fellowship spread out behind him. The ranger clad, as always, in a hooded cloak, kept to the rear of the company. Neither Aragorn nor Legolas had gotten much information about their queer companion. Both Elrond and Gandalf had told Aragorn to ask the ranger as they were honor bound not revel any information. This perplexed Aragorn even more since he was not in the room for the two hours the ranger fought to stay out of the company. Glaring behind him, Aragorn promised himself that he would speak again to the stranger as soon as camp was set for the night.
Legolas kept silent watch not only on the road ahead but the cloaked figure behind. He had only gleaned a small amount of information from the mischievous twins at the waterfall but it was enough that the elf thought the ranger bore watching. The twins had told him that they did indeed know the reclusive ranger quite well and that the ranger's skill with knives, sword, daggers, and bow was remarkable but with the axe the ranger still had problems with over swinging it. He had also learned the ranger had a dangerous temper if aroused plus was completely fearless and decidedly reckless in battle. What the poor elf was not told was that the ranger also was an evilly twisted practical joker with a penchant for getting into trouble and had even turned the tables on the infamous twins a few times.
Muttering darkly, the annoyed ranger glared at Gandalf.'Oh yea that's right let us all go happily to our doom. Not like any of us had plans or anything. What was that idiot wizard thinking by dragging me through Middle Earth to face the evils of Mordor. Well at least I got his promise not to revel who I am. Damn elf does he HAVE to keep looking at me like I might eat a small child or something? This is soo going to be a pleasant journey I can tell already" Sighing in defeat, the ranger plodded on behind the company dividing glares between the grey wizard and the blond elf.
As the day wore on, Legolas began to speak, quietly in Elvish, to Aragorn of what he had learned from the twins. " Aragorn the twins tell me the ranger is a fierce and reckless fighter well skilled in most weapons. They say he has a vile temper when roused and has no respect for anyone. I fear our companion will hinder our quest instead of being the help Gandalf believes he will. " Looking out ahead of them, Aragorn shook his head lightly. " If Gandalf believes we need this companion to fulfill the quest then there must be something about him we do not see. I will try to speak to him after camp is set and see if I can gather more facts. Did my brothers tell you anything else?" Legolas looked at Aragorn pushing a few strands of golden hair out of his face. " They told me the other rangers know him only as Hellfire. They say the name fits this one well. He only showed up in the ranger camps 8 years ago out of nowhere. Elrohir commented that he keeps hidden in his cloak at all times, so I wonder if he is terrible ugly or may have horrible scars. Elledan says this Hellfire is loyal to those he trusts, but does not trust easily. I hope, as a ranger yourself Aragorn, you can find out more about him before too long." Grinning at the elf, Aragorn leaned closer so only Legolas could hear him. " You still angry that he stole your arrow?" The elven eyes narrowed " Not funny Aragorn" Chuckling, as the fuming elf sprinted ahead to scout again, Aragorn made his way to Gandalf's side once more.
Smiling slightly, the ranger known as Hellfire digested the conversation over heard a few minutes before. Great friend of the twins of Imlandris, Fire spoke Sindarian as well as Quenya fluently. Of course THEY were the only ones to know that, save for Lord Glorfindel who caught them drinking Dwarven ale and singing bawdy songs in both languages. It was really fun to listen to Lord Elrond mutter curses and threats under his breathe when he was in 'lecture on decorum and behavior suited to a guest of Imlandris mode'. Fire had learned quite a few fascinating and probably not Human or even Elvenly possible positions a body could do. 'So the elf thought the brothers would betray my confidence. I will have to have a small talk with the twisted twins if I ever survive this quest and thank them for their silence. He he I wonder how Aragorn is going to try to get me to open up? I see he did not mention his little accident with the ceiling view to his elf friend. Boy that was funny! He did not stand a chance in Hades. Well it will be fun to see how long it takes for the two of them to lose all control. It will liven things up a bit if nothing else'
The hobbits, in front of Fire, turned at the sound of a barely concealed snort of laughter. It was strange to hear anything at all from their reclusive companion but the laughter was the least expected sound. Merry looked at Pipen who just shrugged in confusion. The two were wary of this ranger's weird ways but were still willing to give him a chance should he wish to become friends. Hobbits never hold a grudge long; especially when distracted by food or drink. Heaving a sigh, Merry followed alongside Pipen dreaming of The Green Dragon and plates filled high with food.
Gandalf smiled at the antics of the hobbits. Though tired, they were still curious and were slowly driving the cloaked ranger insane. Knowing said ranger was used to solitude, the grey wizard wondered if he should let them continue or save them from impending death. Luckily for the hobbits dinner was called making them abandon their slide to disaster. They rushed past Aragorn as he held up a plate in each hand, and made his way to the cloaked figure.
" Here I brought you some food.", Aragorn began. Without looking up the other ranger took the plate, thanked the man in a rough husky voice and proceeded to eat in silence. " So, you are a friend of my brothers I understand. Where did you meet them? They have not mentioned you so I am curious." A grunt was all the answer Aragorn received. Frowning, he watched the ranger eat for a few moments before trying again. Taking a deep breathe, " Is Hellfire your only name or do you go by another?" Aragorn smiled trying to win the other over. Taking a last bite, the ranger stood, sighed and walked away from Aragorn without a word. Anger coursed through Aragorn at the rudeness of his companion. Eyes flashing, Aragorn rose to follow the ranger as Fire stopped to thank Sam for the meal and disappeared into the night. A voice behind him caught his attention, before he could pursue his quarry, as Gandalf called for him to let the other be for now. Time for questions to be answered had not yet arrived.
Settling high in a tree not far from camp, the ranger breathed deeply as the relaxing sounds of night surrounded him. ' Ai! I swear those young ones could try the patience of Eru himself ! Why oh why did that old coot make me come on this blasted journey anyway? It is not like the knowledge I carry could not have written down or imparted to him verbally. Now I not only have an elf glaring at me, I now have chattering hobbits and a curious ranger! Life just keeps getting better.' Staring up at the bountiful heavens, the ranger looked to the brightest star for comfort. Finding the one constant in the whole of Arda, the ranger began to hum softly to himself unaware, in his thoughtful mood, of the elf sitting not three trees away.
Legolas watched as the ranger approached the tree he was in. He was surprised when the ranger continued past him and climbed a tree close by. He took the time to really look at the figure sitting so silently. The cloak hid the ranger's features and coloring, but could not disguise the slender stature. Standing only about five foot six, the ranger was short even for a man, but the ease and confidence of gait made him look more imposing then he truly was. Legolas could sympathize with the slender ranger, as he had many times been thought of as weak or delicate; when in truth he was a formidable warrior. The silence and the way the ranger moved showed a grace of nearly elf – like quality. ' Where do you come from stranger? Why do you choose to remain hidden among those who would become friends? HOW did you move fast enough to steal the arrow from my very hand?' The last thought brought a frown to his fair face. Not many could have gotten away with that action and Legolas was not happy that one that did was so unknown to him. He was taken from his deep musing by the sound of a gentle, sweet sound drifting on the light breeze. He cocked his golden head trying to hear the sound more clearly. Amazingly, he realized it was coming from the neighboring tree and it was indeed the ranger humming softly to the stars above them.
As the night wore on, the elf and ranger sat contentedly in their respective trees. The ranger had still given no sign of knowing he had company. Close to midnight, the ranger climbed back down and headed for camp to relieve Gimli of watch duty. With a slight smile brushing the ranger's lips, he passed beneath Legolas' tree. The ranger slipped as silently away as he had come, leaving the elf to the quiet beauty of the night.
" I see you are back laddie. The watch so far has been quiet and all are sleeping soundly. I hope you have as uneventful a watch as I have. Next to watch is Boromir then Aragorn for the last watch. If you would not mind telling Boromir this I would be thankful." Gimli began to walk to his bedroll when a husky voice stopped him for a second." Sleep sound son of Gloin I have your back and will inform Boromir when it is time." Without turning, Gimli smiled in shock and delight that the stranger had spoken such to him. " Aye laddie I will sleep well knowing you are on duty. Do not forget to rest yourself as the day will be long again on the morrow." With a light step Gimli, son of Gloin continued on to his bedroll to rest.
Gandalf smirked to himself as he heard the conversation between the changing guards. He found it rather amusing that the ranger was slowly warming to Gimli first, of all the fellowship, when he had thought it would be Aragorn that would break through the tough hide of the ranger. He had also noticed Legolas' absence from the camp and wondered if another crack had begun as well. 'Well child, the first break has come but will you shore up your defenses or allow them to slowly crumble? Will you ever trust enough to care for others or are your scars too deep? I hope for all our sakes Galadriel was correct in saying you needed to be on this journey to fulfill the destiny appointed to you by the Valar. You have sacrificed so much of your soul already. By Eru, may you heal within this company and this quest." With a sigh, Gandalf drifted back to sleep.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.