Muinthel, Maethor, Mellon

Milui

Disclaimer : Nope not mine. Don't own anything, but my own characters, Kaia, Morroch, Edinon, Ethon, Edonar and Lohinon.

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Milui ~ Friendly

Kaia had returned to her worried family as darkness started to descend heavily. Her father met her as Morroch stopped, pulling her from the tall horse and hugging her tightly. Kaia hugged him back, glad for the safe feeling that came with his embrace. She was especially thankful for his presence as she looked up, hearing Morroch's snort of anger. The man who had grabbed her was being held between one of the King's companions, a man she'd heard was named Aragorn and a Rohirrim man. His glare gave her a shiver, but her own temper flared so she glared back.

Morroch's presence behind her was strength and the young woman pulled away from her father to look at the two men holding the third. "May I help you in any way, my lords?" The Rohirric male cleared his throat. "Miss, is this the man that attacked you?"

Kaia nodded, but spoke, too. "Attack is too strong a word, but yes, he grabbed me. No harm was done, though." Morroch pawed the ground and shook his head. "I disagree." the horse said firmly, gold eyes glaring at the greasy-haired man. He looked back with slack-jawed shock as did the Rohirrim hold his arm. Aragorn looked surprised, but held his expression together better then the other two...or six. Edinon and his sons were staring, too.

"Morroch, nothing happened."

"No, but I know by his smell something would have, Kaia. Don't give the piece of dung anymore mercy then he deserves." The stallion lashed his tail, glaring back at his rider as she frowned at him.

"You are too quick to anger, Morroch."

"And you are too quick to forgive."

The argument was halted by Aragorn's quiet, but authoritative voice. "My lady the King shall decide what happens to this man, but we need you to confirm it is the right person." He watched as the red-haired woman turned her attention back to him, still frowning and the ranger could have sworn he'd seen that expression and the fire behind those blue eyes before...

"Yes, it is the same man." Morroch nodded. "It is. His scent is the same."

Aragorn nodded his thanks and he and the Rohirrim led the man away. The ranger looked back only briefly. A talking horse and a red-haired Rohirrim. His interest was sealed.

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Kaia and Morroch hadn't really been able to explain how the stallion could talk, not knowing themselves and the whole family had gone to bed with questions, their minds restless. Edinon had been shocked, but after a while had seemed to merely accept what could not be explained. Edonar followed his father's example, almost acting as if he wasn't curious at all. Kaia knew how much he was as his dark brown eyes continued to watch her and Morroch with undivided intensity. Lohinon had almost seemed nervous by the fact that Morroch could talk and that his sister was fine with it. He wasn't a timid man by any means, but he liked it when things could be explained. He really didn't like surprises.

Ethon was the one Kaia worried about. Out of all her brothers, he was her favorite and the feeling was mutual. She knew he was starting to wonder if he should regret letting her tame Morroch, let her get so close to the stallion. Granted, the man could not have known this would result, but it seemed to him like the one time he'd stopped being an overprotective big brother...this happened. What if something else occurred, too? He regarded the stallion with wary eyes and Morroch returned the favor. Kaia had merely shaken her head at the two males.

Now Morroch lay by his rider. She was sleeping a bit restlessly, face set in a frown, but he knew that most of the humans were sleeping like that. The war was hovering over everyone's minds like a dark cloud that refused to let the sun through. The stallion sighed, but pricked his ears forward as he heard and smelled a small group of people approaching. He extended his nose and made out the unique scents of each person. Only one made him blink once more in confusion. It was familiar and yet not...

The stallion pinned his ears back, knowing it could be seen in the firelight, but the only response he got was a quiet, but friendly chuckle. Aragorn's voice came to him with the same quietness as before. "Nay, we do not wish you or your lady harm, black one." Morroch made out the man's figure and then the figure of the golden-haired male he'd seen before. Two more figures had not yet come into the ring of light, but he could tell that one was about half the height of the others and the last was female. The stallion's ears came forward slowly.

"Then why are you here? My rider is asleep." He wasn't about to wake her for these humans...

The golden-haired one smiled slightly. "You are not one to mince words are you, master horse?" Morroch regarded the male carefully for a moment. He was slender, most unusual for a grown male. His hair carried no hint of brown like the Rohirrim. His weapons were strange as was his dress, and there was a smell about him that spoke to the horse of trees and rich soil. And then...there was that scent of something familiar...grain and grass...

"I don't see the point in being overly polite to humans." The stallion gave a startled snort as a slender hand smacked his neck. He swung his head around to see Kaia frowning at him in a reproachful way. "Morroch, be nice." He blinked, watching her sit up and run a hand through her hair. The young woman gave a small smile to the group of four. "Sorry about him. Is there something I can do for you?"

The golden-haired male chuckled and looked at Aragorn. The man suddenly appeared a bit embarrassed, but pressed on. "My lady, we were wondering if we might converse with you. I will admit that it is for no other reason then curiosity." Kaia raised a brow, but shrugged slightly, gesturing that she didn't mind if they sat. The small figure and the woman came out of the shadows as Aragorn and the other male sat. The firelight finally revealed all their features and the young woman studied her late-night guests. The ranger seemed to know what she wanted and pointed to each person as he said their names.

"This is Gimli, son of Gloin, a sturdy and faithful companion." A red-haired and bearded dwarf. He carried at least three axes and was regarding Morroch more then he was her. The stallion's gold eyes met the dwarf's brown and the two beings were immediately wary of the other. Gimli was suspicious. They'd come across many strange things and he'd even been wrong about the Lady of the Woods, but this...a talking horse? How could something like this be a good thing? The lass had better be wary...

"Haiawen of Mirkwood and Rivendell, a skilled tracker and a sure hand with injuries." Kaia's blue eyes met ones of blended black and green. The woman was slender like the golden-haired male, but her ears were round. Long, wavy black hair shone in the firelight and the woman's quick eyes appeared to miss very little. She had one knife across her back and bow and quiver. The strength about her body suggested she knew how to use both weapons. Haiawen looked to be around twenty to twenty-three, but Kaia would guess she was much older then she appeared to be.

"And Legolas of Mirkwood, sharpshooter of his people and a good friend." The golden-haired male smiled and dipped his head. Of the three males, he appeared to be the youngest, but once again, Kaia had a sneaking suspicion that looks were deceiving with this group. The male had fair skin and dancing sky-blue eyes. His demeanor was friendly, but there was an underlining hardness in his face that spoke of seeing many things and surviving slim odds. The young woman nearly jumped out of her skin when she saw his ears were pointed.

Morroch noticed as she tensed up and gave Legolas a sharp look. This one was strange in a way he couldn't define and now his rider seemed to sense it, too. The stallion rubbed Kaia's arm with his nose comfortingly before speaking. "And who are you?"

"My name is Aragorn, son of Arathorn. May we have your names?"

Kaia smiled, slightly amused. She was positive the man already knew their names, but she answered anyway. "I am Kaia, daughter of Edinon and this is Morroch."

Haiawen gave her a curious look and when the woman spoke her voice was much firmer and human-sounding then Kaia had thought it would be. "How is it that he has an elven name? Were you named by your own kind, Morroch?" Haiawen didn't think for one minute that the stallion was what he appeared to be. The only thing that was troubling her was that she didn't have any ideas as to what the horse could be instead...or maybe he was a horse. One of the Mearas, perhaps?

"I had no name before I met Kaia. It is she who named me."

"I...do not know why I call him such. Morroch was the word the described him best in my mind. I only know that it means darkhorse."

The stallion gave her a look of amusement. "And that dáro means stop."

Legolas and Aragorn gave each other a look and Haiawen raised a brow. "You know the elven tongue?" The woman watched as Kaia shook her head, subconsciously pulling her hair back in a careful move that didn't show the sides of her head. Legolas seemed to have noticed it as well, but neither commented. The elf, instead, asked a different question. "Kaia, have you ever met an elf?" The shake of denial was almost hesitant in coming.

Morroch wasn't sure what these humans were up to, but he didn't like how tense Kaia had gotten and his ears pinned back. "Why did you come to talk with us?" The dwarf was quick to answer, his voice gruff and not entirely friendly as he watched the horse. "To see what devilry was being played here." Aragorn closed his eyes in a tired fashion even as Kaia's own blue eyes gained fire. The young woman glared at Gimli, one hand resting on Morroch's neck. She couldn't actually stop the horse, but her influence was proving to be enough at the moment.

"I would watch my tongue, master dwarf. It could be that your words will have the power to create for you a friend or an enemy." Her own voice was soft, but it carried warning. An affront to her she could forgive. An insult to a friend was something much different and Morroch was the only friend outside of her family that she'd ever had. The black muscles under her hand were tense, but slowly relaxed as Gimli merely frowned and stood before walking out of the firelight.

Haiawen sighed. "He just doesn't trust what he does not know. We are sorry for an hurt his words caused. Aragorn merely told us about you and we were curious. This was not supposed to be an interrogation." The elven-like woman studied the two once more, noting that they were now much more wary then before. "Will you not tell us how you met?" She watched the emotions play across Kaia's face especially as the younger woman thought the request through. Finally the red-haired woman nodded and began the story with Morroch interrupting from time to time. When it was finished the three guests sat silent, pondering.

It was Aragorn who spoke and at the moment, it was probably a good thing he did. Legolas was not trusted by Morroch at this point and Kaia wasn't sure what to think of Haiawen, having little contact with the female race. She wasn't sure how to act around the woman. Neither had a problem with the ranger.

"Kaia, how is it that your brothers and your father all have light brown or blond hair, but you have red?"

Kaia blinked. Of all the questions she'd been preparing an answer to, that hadn't been one of them. The subject was so off-topic that for a moment she didn't respond. When she did it was with confusion. "I am not a child of Rohan. Edinon is not my father by blood, nor are my brothers mine by birth, but they are my family. They are the only one I have known." Aragorn nodded and he once again appeared thoughtful, as if she'd given him an even bigger puzzle to figure out. Kaia was unsure there WAS anything to figure out...

"Is that all or do you still have more questions?" Morroch's impatient voice cut through thoughts and it was Legolas who chuckled. "Patience, Morroch. Not all things require haste." The stallion snorted, shaking his head. He was unsure how to handle this human that was not a human. His bluntness and half-threats didn't seem to faze the male. The elf smiled further. "Where are you from Morroch? We know how it is you met Kaia, but where did you dwell before then?"

Kaia looked at the horse, her own expression full of curiosity and it was for her sake that the stallion explained at all. "My past is confusing and fragmented, even for me, so what I tell you might not make perfect sense. To answer your unspoken question, no, I am not one of the Mearas. I've had the honor of seeing the Lord of Horses in passing and I am not of his line." Haiawen frowned, but nodded and the horse moved on.

"I was first found by my herd somewhere between Lothlorien and Fangorn. I was a foal who'd come out of the mountains of that region and while the horses didn't particularly like me, they let me stay for a time. I remember crossing the Limlight as a yearling and coming into the Kingdom of Rohan. I've lived for many years, longer then I think some of you have been alive."

Kaia started, her blue eyes wide. "What?" The stallion blew into her hair, his voice growing more gentle as he spoke to just her. "I'm much older than I look, Kaia." The young woman frowned. "How old?"

"At least two hundred years older than I look."

The young woman stared at him until a quiet voice bid Morroch to continue. "How is it that you have lived so long?"

Morroch looked at Aragorn and made a noise between a snort and a sigh. "I honestly am not sure. I know that it has something to do with my species, but other then knowing I hatched, I have no idea what I am." His revelation was met with silence and surprised stares. Kaia shook her head and slumped against his side. "I'm not going to pretend I understand that." The stallion blinked at her, but made no comment.

Haiawen shook her head. "Horses don't hatch, they're born. Are you sure...?" She trailed off as gold eyes met her own black-green. "I am sure how I came into this world, human." Aragorn sighed, but smiled a bit. "Forgive our doubt, Morroch. It is just a hard concept to believe. We have never met anyone like you." The man cleared his throat before speaking again. "Do you happen to know who your parents were?"

The stallion finally grew quiet, merely shaking his head and the man let the subject go. Kaia was quiet for a time as well, absorbing what she'd been told as she looked into the fire over Morroch's back. The young woman's voice seemed to startle the three sitting in front of her. "Why are you here? Morroch has asked you and yet we have yet to gain a firm answer to the question. What interest are we to you?" Why did they continue to question, but share nothing of themselves? It was something she wasn't sure she was all right with.

Legolas smiled, but looked at Aragorn. The ranger seemed to almost squirm, but spoke firmly. "Honestly, it was your hair and his speech that first interested me. I have never seen red among the Rohirrim and it is not often that you meet an animal that can speak with the tongue of men." Haiawen gave an unladylike snort and raised a brow. "Aragorn, it's not ever that you see an animal that can speak."

The elf chuckled at the look on the ranger's face and gave the woman an amused, yet loving look before turning his attention back to the two before them. "Kaia, we are interested in you and Morroch because of the courage and bond we can sense between the two of you. Aragorn may have been interested initially by your appearance, but I came along because of the interest Morroch showed in me." His blue eyes danced as he looked at the black horse. "Why are you so wary of me, master horse? Have I done you a wrong I am unaware of?" He glanced at Kaia, noting that she, too appeared slightly tense and yet curious all the same.

Morroch pinned his ears back in agitation but, though, he was reluctant, he spoke. "You smell strange to me...and I don't know what you are." His hesitant response was met with smiles and amusement from all of the two-legged beings and the horse snorted. It seemed like a perfectly logical reason to be wary of someone to him. Your nose could tell you a lot about a person... Legolas's voice contained mirth, but no mocking as he answered.

"Morroch, I am an elf. A wood-elf some would say. I come from the Forest Kingdom of Mirkwood. As for how I smell...I am sorry to say I have nothing to say that can remedy that. Are you sure it is not Aragorn you are smelling?" He ducked the smack the ranger would have given him with swift reflexes and a laugh. Kaia looked between the two with surprise and the beginning of a smile. Her blue eyes caught Haiawen's blended black and green. The older woman smiled. "They are like great children sometimes." Kaia nodded, feeling a warmth come to her heart. These three were people like her. They had their strengths and weaknesses. They liked to play and occasionally it would appear that they messed up. It made her feel better to see them thus.

The stallion she leaned against relaxed as she did, attuned to her body-language and following her lead. Morroch didn't really have anything against the three - though, the dwarf did not fall into that category and Legolas was still on the fence - but he wanted Kaia to remain safe and happy. These strangers had not made her feel like either thing since they arrived. Now that she was draining of tension, so was he.

"Will you tell us nothing about yourselves since we have shared much with you?" The question startled the three, but they soon seemed to come to a decision and Aragorn slowly started their tale. Kaia listened with rapt attention, but she didn't fail to catch the parts the man slowed at, seeming to think or the fact that many things were left in a vague light. She didn't comment, though, not begrudging the group their secrets. She wasn't one to judge another in that area. The young woman wasn't surprised to find out that Legolas and Haiawen were married or that the four companions had been traveling together for some time. The group seemed to be cohesive and well-established in their roles.

Kaia was starting to feel the affects of the day by the end of the tale and the horse nickered in his version of a laugh as a yawn tried to split the young woman's face. The stallion watched her eyes start to drift closed and then jerk open, trying to stay awake for the simple reason of being polite.

Aragorn noticed it and smiled. "We have kept you awake long enough, Kaia. It has been a pleasure talking with you, but we will take our leave." He stood along with the others, bowing his head slightly to Morroch and the tired young woman. Legolas smiled at both, unsure why he felt like he should know the female in some way. The feeling had persisted the entire time he'd been sitting here, but the elf was clueless as to why. "Novaer." Haiawen gave Kaia a wink that the red-haired woman smiled at before linking her arm with the elf's and giving him a smile he returned. The three retreated into the darkness.

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Kaia yawned once more as she watched them go and leaned against the stallion's side again. She pulled her blanket up, snuggling down into it before looking at the horse who regarded her with liquid gold eyes that reflected the firelight. "Were you telling the truth? Are you really that old and the coming from an egg bit, was that...true?" She didn't want to think Morroch had lied, but it was an incredible thing to believe.

Morroch looked at the sleepy figure of his rider and sighed. "Yes, Kaia, everything I said was true. I didn't want to tell you that way, though." he admitted. It was something he'd never gotten the chance to tell anyone. It was something he hadn't been physically able to tell anyone until meeting Kaia. The stallion didn't know what he was or why he could do the things he did. All he knew was that he was what he was...and he'd wanted to tell the she-human he'd come to trust in his own time. Still, she seemed to be accepting it all right...

The young woman watched Morroch for a time, studying him as her thoughts ran in sleepy circles. He was different and strange, yes, but hadn't she already known that? He was still talking wasn't he? And that didn't bother her. Why should his age or what he was bother her? Kaia smiled and curled slightly, getting more comfortable. "You're still Morroch. You're still my friend. I don't care about the rest." Her eyes drifted closed and this time they didn't open again as her mind succumbed to sleep.

Morroch merely watched her for a time, guarding and thinking, her words running through his heart. It didn't matter what he was...because she didn't care. It was a funny feeling, being accepted, but one he found he enjoyed. The stallion gave a content sigh, his own eyes starting to drift shut. The horse opened them again when he sensed he was being watched. Looking up, Morroch's eyes met the dark brown ones of Kaia's oldest brother, Ethon. The stallion's ears started to go back before he stopped them, instead pricking them forward. It was a step of acceptance on his part and it was made for Kaia's benefit. He could have given or taken other humans, but she seemed to like them. He watched as Ethon's expression softened slightly. It was not much, but it was progress.

Morroch gave a brief nod in the Rohirrim's direction and spoke quietly, but loud enough that Ethon could hear. He wasn't sure why he felt the need to gain this human's approval. Maybe Kaia was influencing him more then he was aware of. "I will look after her, I promise you." It was the only promise he could make and mean. The man seemed to understand that as he gave the black horse a small nod before laying back in his own bedroll.

The stallion sighed once more and let his eyes drift closed in sleep.

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