Twenty-four, twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven... Aerinel counted mentally as she numbly placed one foot in front of the other as she climbed the steep stone steps, following the luminous elf ahead of her. Forcing her eyes to stay open, Aerinel managed to avoid stumbling over a pile of broken rubble in her path.
She cursed under her breath. Her clothes were soaking due to the heavy rain, her hair was plastered to her head and she was cold. Thirty-five, thirty-six, thirty-seven, thirty-eight, thirty-nine, forty, forty-one.....Still the steep steps went on. She risked a quick glance over the side and gulped when she saw how high they were from the ground. It wouldn’t do to fall.
Legolas glanced over his shoulder at the young girl behind him. He could hear her muttering to herself.
“Forty-three, forty-four, forty-five....”
The elf shook his head, suppressing a chuckle. It wouldn’t do to laugh at Aerinel. He had experienced her over-ready temper on numerous occasions and several times found himself reprimanding her for being too hasty to snap at people. Returning his gaze to the steps in front of him, Legolas quickened his pace to catch up with the ranger.
The wind continued to howl around them as they slowly climbed to the top of the ruins. Aerinel glanced up, her eyes barely able to make out the old stone pillars in the gloom of the storm. Amon Sûl, or in the common tongue, Weathertop, one of the watch towers of old, lay in ruins.
Fifty-one, fifty-two, fifty-three, fifty-four.....
Aerinel had been travelling back to Rivendell with Aragorn and Legolas when the storm had struck. Unable to see in the growing darkness, the ranger had suggested seeking shelter in the old ruins of Amon Sûl. To Aerinel, it was a creepy old place and she had no desire to spend the night in it, but what choice did she have?
“Oh come on!” Aerinel threw her hands up in the air as she rounded a sharp bend and saw more steps ahead of her. “You can’t be serious?” She scowled; Aragorn and Legolas had hurried on ahead of her leaving her to navigate the steep steps herself. “Gah!” she spat in disgust and annoyance, hurrying forward in an attempt to reach Aragorn before she got lost.
Fifty-seven, fifty-eight, fifty-nine, sixty, sixty-one, sixty-two, sixty-three.......
However the steps were covered in moss that had grown all over the stone due to the lack of use and care and the rain had made them extremely slippery. Missing her footing on one, Aerinel yelped as she pitched forwards, her arms outstretched in an attempt to stop her face from hitting the rocks.
She gasped as she was stopped inches from the stone step and realised that someone was holding her shoulder tightly. She looked up to see Legolas bending over her.
“Are you all right young one?”
She nodded numbly as Legolas guided her to her feet just as Aragorn reappeared around the corner. “Come on, we are almost there.”
Sixty-six, sixty-seven, sixty-eight, sixty-nine, seventy!
Aerinel sank down onto a rock. She was tired and wet. A groan escaped her lips as she realised she would have to climb all the way back down come the morning.