The Stars of Harad

Chapter 7

by Cassia and Siobhan

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Whatever you do,
I’ll do it too.
Show me everything and tell me how.
It all means something...
And yet nothing to me.

--Phil Collins

Gentle shaking stirred the young northerner and he opened his eyes slowly.


"Yes." The Haradrim watched him carefully; unable to hide the slight smile as Aragorn gazed at him dully. "It is time to be up. We must eat and the guards will call us out soon. They escort us to the plains where the mûmakil live."

Aragorn glanced about him, taking in the quiet movements of the tent’s occupants as Mambre went about fixing a meager breakfast. If dawn had broken it had just done so for the interior of the sleeping room was still very dark.

"It’s dark out."

Sircyn laughed lightly when the new slave stated the obvious. "Yes, we get up everyday at this time. Come on up!" The strong young man hooked his hands under Aragorn’s shoulders and pushed the ranger into a sitting position.

With a deep sigh the ranger ran his fingers lightly through his hair and glanced about him. He wondered darkly what mûmaskil were and what type of creature they would have to be to be up so early.

Shortly after they had broken fast, Aragorn heard some of the guards that had brought him to Cabed the previous day walking among the family tents and rousing the slaves.

"How many families are there here?" Aragorn questioned Sircyn as he exited the sleeping room.

"There are twenty." The young dark skinned slave whispered, "Wait until we are out in the fields, it is not safe to speak here. And no matter what, keep your eyes down. Do not speak back to the guards, watch me." With those instructions he walked in front of Aragorn and he led him to stand in a large courtyard that functioned as a staging area.

Several wagons, called flats, rolled up and the slaves loaded onto them. They were drawn by huge beasts of burden that resembled cows only thicker through the chest and their horns spanned several feet on either side of their wide skulls. They ambled slowly off in the directions their drivers led them, bawling and lowing with deep throaty voices, their huge heads swaying from side to side as they shuffled away.

When the others had been taken away for the day only Cabed’s family remained. "Simbani, follow Talft and Lur they’ll be your guard today." The sentry giving out the orders commanded.

"Perfect." The young slave next to Aragorn whispered with disdain.

The ranger glanced cautiously at the Haradrim but he simply turned and walked behind Cabed as they were led around the side of the huge palatial mansion that Aragorn had been in yesterday. The man Seobryn had sold him to was standing on the ground floor veranda. He tipped head and nodded at the slaves as they walked by.

"Eyes down!" Sircyn whispered fiercely, falling into step next to the northerner, trying to block his master's view of the new slave. They were going to lose this one too if he didn’t start obeying.

Once out of sight of the house, the guard, who Sircyn had identified as Talft, dropped back behind the ranger and followed he and the young Haradrim.

"So the half wit is going to go out and work with the oliphaunts is he?" The story of Aragorn’s lost memory and supposedly diminished mental faculties had already made the rounds of the guardhouses.

"Do not answer." Sircyn whispered softly as he pretended to stumble, the motion placing him closer to Adrar.

Aragorn swallowed hard, barely nodding in response to Sircyn and walked on.

"He won't last a day with them. Even they are smarter than he is." Lur called back, picking up on his comrade’s cruel comments.

"You better watch out for those creatures there Adrar, they’ll eat you if you aren’t careful." Talft laughed.

It took all the courage Aragorn could muster to simply keep his eyes on the dusty path they walked and maintain pace with Sircyn. He no idea what to expect from his new work and the more they taunted the more fearful he became.

"We will be fine here." Cabed turned and called back to Talft as they reached a low wooden fence that stretched in either direction to his left and right as far as Aragorn could see.

With a laugh Talft gave the young northerner a good push and joined Lur near a small bench that had been set beneath two scrub brush trees that had long ago, been twisted together. Their trunks now thick and huge supported a wide canopy of leaves that would give good shade throughout the heat of the day. Sparing no attention to the slaves, the two guards went about seeing to their weapons, testing the fletching on their arrows and stringing the large recurve bows they carried slung on their backs.

"Ignore them, they are idiots." Sircyn spat quietly as he walked towards a gate set in the fence, springing the catch and allowing the family to move out onto the fields.

The sun was low on the horizon, a vast, flat expanse dotted with tiny clusters of scrub brush trees and short, hardy bushes that hugged the ground as though seeking any drop of water that the dew might leave behind. The light played across the short golden grass that covered the dusty ground, painting it in hues of gold and red as it streaked the sky with tints of crimson and purple.

Cabed glanced heavenward and breathed in deeply, facing the rising sun he closed his eyes and listened and felt. In moments he turned back to the small clan that stood behind him, "It will be a warm one today but not too bad." He smiled at the newest member of their family. "That is something for you to be thankful for."

The older man’s eyes glanced over the slim youth that stood next to Sircyn. His son had given the new slave clothing to wear that would be appropriate for working in the heat of Harad. Aragorn smiled slightly and glanced at himself. He wore loose fitting leggings that tied about his waist and a vest of the same light, cool fabric laced up the front of his chest. The clothing the Haradrim wore was softly colored and it moved easily in the slight breeze that swept across the dusty land. Sircyn had told him that the colors would not draw the sun to them and were cooler than the opulent clothing worn by the masters. He had rolled a strip of the light weight fabric and showing Aragorn how to wear the head band, he had carefully tied it off around the rangers temples, explaining that it kept the sweat and hair out of ones eyes when they needed their hands free.

Cabed turned to the women and children and sent them off to begin filling huge stone troughs with water. The channels made of rock lined the fence on the inside for a good twenty five feet in each direction. They were easily half the height of Aragorn.


The ranger’s soft call interrupted the elder as he started to head out into the field and he turned back with a smile raising one eyebrow in question, waiting while the younger slaves caught up to him.

"What are mûmakil? Oliphaunts? The guards said..."

"Talft and Lur were talking nonsense, trying to frighten him this morning." Sircyn walked up next to Aragorn and pointed off in the near distance. "Do you see those?"

"The grey hills?"

Sircyn laughed at the description of the great animals. "Well watch those hills."

He stepped next to Cabed and raised his hands, cupping them around his mouth he let a loud call, repeating it over and over. "Het! Het! Drey namba mûmaskil! Het! Het! Het!"

Before he had a chance to ask what Sircyn had said the grey hills moved and Aragorn stared in wide-eyed fascination as more than three dozen large animals began walking slowly in their direction.

It appeared to the ranger that there was more than one herd of the giant creatures. And they seemed to converge on the small grouping of waiting men. The animals were tall, their legs thick, round and stronger than any tree Aragorn had seen, supported large carriages draped with thick grey skin. Huge ears like graceful sails set out from the sides of their massive heads and framed small dark intelligent eyes. The mouth of the creature was obscured by a trunk, that served as the animal’s nose and a grasping appendage. Huge teeth, that Sircyn explained later where called tusks, jutted from their large mouths on either side of their head, arcing skyward. And their loud trumpeting startled the northerner who stepped back a pace as the oliphaunts approached.

"Do not be afraid of them." Cabed stopped Aragorn’s backward steps, "They can smell fear. Besides we have nothing to fear from them. They rely on us for their food, their water and their care. They are what the master has entrusted *us* with. You remember the slaves that left this morning on the wagons?" Cabed patiently explained the workings of the large compound they lived on as the animals slowly converged on them, "The others go to several different areas. Some work the manga tree groves to the south. Others keep the master’s house; some are taken to the fields where they harvest the hay and the fruits and vegetables that are grown there to the west. Still others are taken to the slat flats where they mine the salt. You don’t never want to work there Adrar. But we, we work with the oliphaunts."

He turned and held his hand palm up as a large mûmakil neared his position. The creature snuffled his fingers gently with the end of its trunk and trumpeted softly in recognition of the slave. The animal turned its attention to Aragorn, playfully burying its soft nose in the human’s hair and letting out a loud snort before it breathed in the man’s essence. The ranger cringed and jumped slightly, causing Sircyn to laugh.

Aragorn glanced at the young slave and was surprised to see that he was surrounded by the tall grey creatures who were examining him much the same way.

"They like to smell you, to see where you have been." Sircyn called over to his new friend, "But mostly they are looking for this!" The slave produced a round green fruit from a deep pocket in his legging and offered it the animal that stood next to him. The oliphaunt gently grasped the treasured food with its trunk and swung the fruit up into its mouth.

"Here try it!" Sircyn tossed Aragorn another fruit, garnering him the attention of the oliphaunts near him. Cautiously he held the sweet globe up and was pleasantly surprised when the animal gently plucked it from his hand.

"See." Cabed smiled at him, "You’ll be an old hand at it in no time." He started walking away, heading to their left towards a small rise in the land. To Aragorn’s amazement the oliphaunts followed as he grabbed the lower edge of one of the ears of the great creature standing next to him and gently tugged the animal along. As he walked he explained their duties. It seemed that every morning and evening while the earth was still at its coolest they led the animals to a nearby watering hole, where they were now heading. Once there the mûmakil enjoyed playing in the water, washing off the previous day’s dirt before a good long roll in the mud and dust when they were through with the water. The dirt was like a barrier against the parasites that plagued the large beasts. It fell to the Olybryn to care for the grooming needs of the Oliphaunts. There was special ointment for the soft skin near their eyes to protect them from flies and the irritation of the dry hot air. The great creatures loved to be groomed and when the watering and bathing was over they brushed the animals with tough broom like brushes as the creatures kneeled for them.

Aragorn laughed aloud as the oliphaunt he was grooming rolled over into the dirt to allow the human better access to his tall, broad back. The animal responded to the man’s laughter and trumpeted aloud. Cabed was surprised and not prepared for how quickly the northerner took to his new job. He watched in fascination as the young man worked with a particularly temperamental male oliphaunt, stretching out carefully across the animal’s neck where it lay, speaking softly to it as he scratched the underside of its belly. Once the initial shock and fear of the great creatures had worn off and the ranger had realized how easy tempered they were, a natural response from the animals when they were well cared for Sircyn had explained, Aragorn had felt at ease with the beasts. His soft voice and calm patience with them when they did not understand or simply did not want to obey engendered a fast trust with the creatures.

By mid-day the small troop of men and oliphaunts was heading back towards the low fields.

When the animals caught the sweet smell of the fresh water they broke into fast trot, calling out to the water-women and leaving the men behind to follow them in. Aragorn was startled by the swiftness of their departure and looked to Sircyn for an explanation.

"The mûmaskil have a better sense of smell than do we. They can scent the fresh water the women have poured for them in their drinking troughs." The young slave laughed as the ranger nodded slowly, Sircyn's answer made sense and reminded him of a memory, something about heightened senses and those who could sense things he could not but the thought passed swiftly as the Haradrim challenged him to a race back to the fence.

The rest of the day was spent feeding the large creatures who ate more than half their body weight in hay and feed, which the slaves brought out from low shed-like bins where the fodder was stored.

The heat from the sun, high in the cloudless sky, beat mercilessly down on the Olybryn who sought shade in the shadows of the oliphaunts. Aragorn was glad for the clothing, dirty as it had become throughout the day’s toil, and especially the headband Sircyn had fashioned for him; the rolled cloth kept the wayward strands of his shoulder length hair from obscuring his vision.

Aragorn had just walked back through the gate, a large pitchfork in his hand, intending to fetch more hay for the small grouping of oliphaunts he was caring for when Lur loomed in his way, blocking his path.

"Excuse me." Aragorn kept his eyes down and attempted to shift around the tall guard.

With a short step to his left Lur once more blocked the young slave’s way.

It was useless speaking or moving anymore and so the ranger simply stood where he was. He glanced out of the corner of his eye towards where Sircyn stood next to Cabed. The slaves watched intently, unsure of what would happen.

"So I see you've found your calling Adrar, shoveling hay for those dumb beasts. Nice going half-wit. You even smell like them." Lur gave the ranger a good shove.

Aragorn stepped back, catching himself. It was useless to challenge the guard, so the northerner simply turned and began walking back out into the fields, intending to fetch more fodder later.

Incensed Lur rushed him, following the ranger back through the gated fence, "You never walk away when I am talking to you!" Swinging the curve of his bow around the guard caught the slave in the middle of his back, driving him to the ground.

The pitchfork fell from Aragorn's grip and bounced away from him as he dropped heavily to the dirt floor, the wind was driven from him and his back screaming from the blow.

Lur stood over the fallen slave and gave him a swift kick. "That will teach you to ignore me."

Aragorn grunted as the guard kicked him fiercely. He pulled into himself, trying to protect himself from further abuse.

The trumpet of one of the oliphaunts startled Lur and he backed quickly out of the field as the animal left the feeding trough and ran towards the two men. The great creature’s feet pounded the earth. The shaking of the ground beneath him frightened Aragorn and he tucked his head against his chest, covering his face with his hands.

Lur stumbled backwards watching with glee, hoping the mûmakil would step on the downed slave. Talft ran to the fence, his eyes riveted to the form that lay on the ground.

Aragorn held his breath and was surprised when the thundering of the creature’s advance stopped. He heard Cabed yelling his name but was too frightened to respond. The animal shuffled softly closer to the prone slave, pushing against the human gently with it trunk. The quiet sounds of pleading that the oliphaunt made caused Aragorn to glance up into the bright small eyes that watched him. He recognized the beast as the male oliphaunt that Cabed had told him was cantankerous, the one he had spent so much time grooming earlier.

When the mûmakil saw the ranger glance at him, it stepped back and tried to pick the man up with its long trunk. Smiling slightly at the creature’s attention, Aragorn sat up carefully and patted the long nose, talking quietly to the oliphaunt as he slowly gained his feet, assisted by the awkward attempts of the beast to help him.

Sircyn glanced darkly at the dumbstruck guards and hurried to Adrar's side. He brushed the young northerner off as Aragorn leaned against the tall animal that had come to his rescue.

"Are you alright?"

Aragorn nodded and glanced up at the oliphaunt that stood next to him. "I think so." He breathed in deeply, his back aching with the movement. "This one came to my rescue." He patted the large grey beast that shifted slightly next to him.

Sircyn nodded and glanced back at Cabed who slowly walked towards them, shaking his head, a huge smile on his dark, weathered face.

"I have never seen that one react in that way to any of us." Cabed squinted and gazed up at the tall animal. "Them mûmaskil are known to be protective of their young, or their own, but you have surprised me Adrar. This one here is one of the orneriest oliphaunts I have seen." He thumped the underbelly of the large creature as he pressed the animal back towards the feeding troughs.

Aragorn bent over to retrieve his pitchfork and smiled at the elder. "Good thing he came over when he did. I think he scared Lur away."

Cabed glanced back at the two guards who had removed themselves from the immediate area, seeking shelter from the heat in the shade of the rest area near the trees. They glared back at the slaves, pretending to keep watch over the herds.

With the guards gone the slaves returned to their work and their charges, quietly talking amongst themselves as the day wore on.

The walk back from the oliphaunt fields was calm and cool. The sun had dropped a half an hour ago, draping the land in the dark of night and the journey home was peaceful. Bright, brilliant lights twinkled in the velvety expanse and Aragorn searched them intently, not quite knowing what he was looking for, only feeling a strange sense of longing deep in his soul that he could not explain. Whatever he was searching for, he did not find it.

Lur and Talft led the small group home, lighting their way by torchlight.

Aragorn was weary and bone tired. His back ached from the beating he had received from Lur but a smile spread across his dirty face. He had thoroughly enjoyed the day’s work as hard as it had been and he was growing to love his new family even more hour by hour. Something felt right here that had been missing when he was with Seobryn. He was accustomed to a sense of family, whether he realized it or not.

Aragorn jogged up next to the Simbani elder and touched the older man's arm, drawing his attention, "Cabed, why does the master keep the oliphaunts? What are the animals used for?" He suddenly realized that he did not know why they were caring for the beasts and was afraid to become attached to them.

Cabed glanced at him sideways before looking back to the ground, watching his steps carefully on the uneven, dark path. "The master has many uses for the mûmaskil. Most of the herd is kept for his own. They are used mostly for transportation of people or as pack animals around his lands. They are hard workers, like us. They can uproot trees and drag heavy burdens no other beast could attempt. These oliphaunts here are not usually bred for war. They are the smaller cousins of the creatures that the warlords like to use. They are more domesticated than their taller relatives, more useful on the farm lands than on the battlefields. The master keeps them for prestige, they are a symbol to others of his wealth. Some however he sells in the marketplace or trades for goods.

"The warring chieftains use the larger races of oliphaunts as beasts of war. They are treated unkindly and taught to be aggressive. Mostly those are the males; they are prized for their tusks. There are many who raise them solely for that purpose." Cabed looked at the young slave next to him, noting the frown that marred the northerner’s face and the distress in his eyes. "Don’t worry Adrar, for the most part the master doesn’t sell his mûmaskil and most of the warlords are only interested in the larger breeds. For as long as I have been here our oliphaunts have been used only on the farm lands to help out with the crops or when the master wants to decorate them and ride them into town, a half a day’s walk away." He smiled at the young man, clasping Aragorn's shoulder tightly in his hand; "You handled yourself very well this day. I am proud of you."

Aragorn smiled at the praise and dropped his eyes, "Thank you Cabed. It's good to be part of the family." 


Legolas sighed without meaning to. The landscape spread out before him, grey and cheerless under the gathering clouds and darkening evening. The wet season was coming on in these lands south of Gondor.

When he had reached West Emnet his search met a dead end. For over a month he looked in vain for any trace of his friend and had nearly given up hope of success when he had heard a story about two strangers who had gotten into a disturbance over in Ihel. One of them had spent the night in jail over the altercation and both had left right after, seeming to follow the people that they had had a problem with. The one who had been locked up sounded to the prince too much like Aragorn for it to not have been.

From there, Legolas was able to pick up their trail again and his suspicions were confirmed, he was once more following the young ranger, but it seemed that the two Dunèdain had in turn been following some larger group... and they had not wished for their presence to be known. This concerned Legolas, because he knew that Aragorn must have been onto something, but the trail he followed was very old now and difficult to read. The elf was forced to spend entire days at a time searching only a very small area of land in order to pick up the tracks again after they had disappeared for a time, which they did frequently. It was very slow, very tedious work. If he had not had the feeling that wherever Aragorn was going, he might need help, the prince would have been tempted to give up the search as hopeless and wait to talk to Aragorn when the young ranger returned. But something inside the elf that he did not even understand pushed him to keep looking, to keep following, even though the days had now stretched into weeks and the weeks into months and the year was waning.

He had lost the trail above Gondor and wandered around for some time, eventually passing by Osgiliath on its western side, shunning the idea of getting too close to the imposing shadow of the Ephel Dúath, the mountains of shadow that ringed the dark, abandoned land of Mordor. Sauron had been defeated and driven out by the Last Alliance millennia ago, but no strict watch had been kept on his former abode and dark things had crept into that horrible place once again, Legolas could tell just by being near it.

He could also tell that Ithilien had once been a beautiful land, and earned the meaning of it’s name ‘land of the moon’, but it’s proximity to Mordor was causing it to fall into shadow and parts of it were already wholly desolate. It hurt his heart to see and he wished there was something he could do for the once fair land, but these thoughts were passing because he had other concerns on his mind at the moment as he made his way slowly through the long reaches of South Ithilien.

This entire venture seemed fraught with setbacks and Legolas’ latest bit of bad luck was that this entire area had been scorched by a wildfire some time ago. New plant growth had already grown up to begin covering that which was destroyed, but the fire had further complicated attempting to find any kind of signs or tracks. Back-tracking across the small river once more, away from the burned area, Legolas rubbed his eyes. It was getting dark, and even his keen gaze could not find tracks that were not there by moonlight. He would have to make a more thorough search of this area tomorrow. Right now he needed some place to camp.

Not far away a tangle of trees protected a small, circular clearing from both the strong evening winds, and the gaze of any unfriendly eyes.

A few charred logs inside a broken stone ring told that others had probably availed themselves of this cozy little spot to camp before. But the last time it was so used must have been some time ago, for there were no tracks on the ground and no traces of anything other than animals having passed this way in many weeks.

Legolas decided it was a safe place to stop for the night. He re-formed the scattered circle of stones and made a small fire of his own. As he poked the flames to life, the prince suddenly wondered why he did. He did not intend to cook anything and did not need the flames’ warmth nor their light to comfort him in the approaching darkness, he simply made the fire out of habit. But it was not a habit from his younger years; rather, it was a habit he realized he had gotten into since meeting Aragorn. If the prince stopped to think about it, there were a number of things he had become accustomed to doing when traveling solely for the sake of his human friend.

The elf prince stood. The sooner he found where his friend had gotten to, the better. But there was nothing more he could do this evening. A storm was threatening. He could smell it on the air and would be surprised if this area did not see rain before morning.

He almost wished he had not sent Avornwen back home so soon. Legolas had at last abandoned the idea of tracking Strider while on horseback a few days ago. It was easier to follow the difficult, broken trail of the rangers on foot. He was a good tracker, but not nearly so naturally gifted that way as his human friend had shown the signs of becoming. So many of the smaller important details that his surroundings had to offer were easily overlooked when mounted on a horse. So the elf had taken what provisions he could carry from the saddlebags and had instructed the animal to return with all haste to the palace, carrying a note to his father informing the king that he was well, and that he was almost positive he had picked up Aragorn’s trail. No need to alarm everyone by having a rider-less horse show up without explanation.

The elf only wished that the reality of the situation was as hopeful as his message had been. In truth, he was trying to find and follow a cold trail that seemed to have vanished. The approaching rainstorm would do nothing to aid him either.

Nearby, but out of the immediate circle of firelight, a previous storm had knocked down several tree-fronds. Legolas picked them up, meaning to use them in constructing a temporary shelter against the eminent rain, but when he moved the fronds, they uncovered the corner of something else half-hidden under a drift of fallen leaves. At first glance in the fading light it looked like a roll of moss or over-turned earth, but it was not quite right in shape or texture to be either.

Brushing away the leaves that obscured it from sight, Legolas stooped to inspect the lump more closely. As suspected, it did not turn out to be dirt or moss at all, but rumpled leather. A rumpled leather overcoat to be exact. The elf lifted garment, slowly turning it over in his hands and bringing it into the full light of the fire for a better look. It was rolled up carefully, as if someone had bundled it up and set it down and then simply never come back for it.

Dead leaves clung to the well-worn leather as Legolas shook it out, but although it had obviously been abandoned for some time, it was no worse for the wear. It had been made for someone of roughly Legolas’ height, but of sturdier build than the slender elf, undoubtedly a man and most likely a warrior because the leather was worn rough on the left side where it would have rubbed against the wearer’s scabbard.

The prince did not have to guess at all this however; he all ready knew, and a chill chased itself up his spine. He had seen this coat before, many times, had even worn it on one occasion. Although it had been left out in the elements for a long time, the elf’s sharp senses could still detect his friend’s scent faintly clinging to the inner folds of the garment. Legolas ran his long fingers gently over the careful stitches that seamed up a jagged rip in the coat’s hem. He remembered sitting across a fire very like this one and watching the young ranger mend the tear while they talked and laughed... This was Aragorn’s overcoat; there was no doubt about it. By luck or the design of providence, Legolas had stopped at a campsite that must have last been used by the young ranger and the other man he was traveling with. But how had the coat come to be left behind?

The question bothered Legolas. He may have occasionally chided the young human about being careless, but he knew that Aragorn would never have simply left his coat behind or forgotten about it; he was too attached to this bit of ratty, well-worn leather. Much to the elf’s relief there was no signs of blood, or tears in it that would have indicated that Aragorn had been injured when it was cast aside, but of course, that did not necessarily mean he had not been. Legolas supposed that it could have been lost, or left behind out of necessity... but something in his heart worried that the answer to this riddle was much darker than that.

Legolas brushed the dirt and leaves from the soft, supple leather with a gentle touch. Whatever else this find indicated, it was a sure sign that Aragorn had indeed been in these parts and Legolas was in fact on the right trail. However it must have been quite some time ago, and the absence of tracks and any other clues left the elf wondering where exactly he should go from here.

Thunder rumbled in the darkening sky and Legolas’ thoughts drifted back to the town he had seen in the distance earlier that day, it must be pretty close now. His limited knowledge of the area told him that it was probably Rinevat, a small trading city and smugglers haven. The elf had intended to avoid the town all together... but his latest discovery made him re-think that plan. If Aragorn had been through here, it was possible that someone there might remember him or have information that would be helpful in ascertaining his current location.

Legolas let out a quiet sigh. He did not want to enter the human town. Every experience he had ever had with large groups of humans or human cities had been bad. The first and only time he’d even been in one of these little rough-and-tumble, backwater trading towns was going to Adriolf with Aragorn a year or two ago... and that had not exactly gone off without a hitch.

If he were honest with himself, the prince realized that he did not want to go into a town like that without Aragorn at his side. It wasn’t that he was afraid, Legolas knew he could more than handle himself should there be trouble, but the elf knew too that he was out of his element when it came to this sort of information gathering; that had always been Aragorn’s specialty. He simply was not comfortable around large numbers of humans and trying to act like one of them was not going to be easy. Yet there was no way he could walk into that town as an elf. People almost always had an adverse reaction to finding out what he was and that would certainly kill any chance he had of discovering anything useful.

Legolas pushed his doubts and hesitancies aside. He had a job to do and those things would not help him. It now looked possible that some ill might have befallen his friend, more than just that of a familial misunderstanding, and if Aragorn’s safety might be on the line, Legolas was ready to do whatever it took to find the young ranger.

Pulling his long hair back in a ponytail, Legolas tore a strip from the hem of his blanket. Wrapping it tightly around his head in a half-headband, half-turban like manner he concealed the tops of his gracefully pointing ears in a way that he had seen Lord Elrond do many, many years ago. Gently picking up Aragorn’s cloak once more, he slid it on over his own travel clothes and pulled the hood up over his head. Quietly he wrapped his arms around his chest, holding the cloak tightly closed against him for a moment as if wishing to draw strength from the memory of his friend. Taking a deep breath, Legolas picked up his gear again, kicked out the fire, and started walking for Rinevat.

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