Muinthel, Maethor, Mellon

Berior

Disclaimer: Tolkien's work is not mine. I do not own Legolas (though, I wish I did). I don't own Aragorn, Gimli, Eowyn, Gandalf...you get the picture. I do, however, own Kaia, Morroch, Haiawen, Edinon, Ethon, Edonar and Lohinon.

A/N ~ Mind-speech is in bold.

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Berior ~ Defender

She hadn't expected this and neither had Morroch, though, for the wolf to expect it was unreasonable seeing as how he had never even lived around humans before. Kaia knew she should have seen it coming, though. She should have remembered that King Théoden was at the Battle of the Wargs, that he would have seen the dragon, that word would have gotten back to him about WHO that dragon was...or at least who he "belonged" to. The young woman and the black canine now stood before the King of Rohan. He appeared somewhat annoyed and yet thoughtful, like he didn't want to be wasting time on something like this conversation and yet, was weighing how much it might benefit his people.

"You would fight?"

Théoden looked at the red-haired woman with surprise and saw the way she hesitated for just a moment before nodding. The wolf at her side pressed his head to her hip before looking at the man. "She will be safe with me, but I will not fight away from her." The King frowned. It would be safer to have this woman with the others in the cave, but when asked, the father had refused to send her, simply stating that his daughter's decision was made. Edinon was not here for this conversation, declining the offer. The father had feared his resolve to let Kaia choose her own path might crumble if he did.

"But you will fight for my people if this young woman is with you? Why? Would it not be safer for her to stay with the other woman and children?"

"That would depend on what you define safe, human. How is a cage in the mountains safe?" The wolf could practically feel Kaia wince beside him, but the canine paid her no heed this time. Théoden might have been a King to the inhabitants of Rohan or even to all the people of Arda, but to Morroch, he was another human...and one that was attempting to separate him from Kaia even if diplomatically.

The King seemed to bristle for a moment, but kept his voice even. "War is no place for a woman."

It was Kaia's turn to frown, though, she held in her glare. "It is no place for young boys or old men or even virile men, but they are all being called to fight." She now had his attention and with an encouraging look down into gold eyes, she went on. "I can wield a blade. I have already seen death and killed. I do not crave battle, but if my presence can help, I want to fight." Kaia looked the King in the eye, determined sky blue eyes meeting tired pale blue. "We both know having Morroch fight will improve our chances, my King. I was with Lord Aragorn. I know what he reported to you." she said softly. Théoden closed his eyes for a brief moment.

"Very well. You may fight, but I cannot guarantee you any amount of safety in this."

Kaia smiled sadly, pushing her red hair back away from her face, behind an ear - though the motion still felt strange- as the wind blew around them. "I do not ask for it, just as your men do not ask. Just as the women and children we fight for do not ask. Thank you, Théoden, King." She bowed before she and the wolf hurried away, never truly noticing the man looking after them, both puzzlement and sadness on his face.

----

Kaia couldn't stop the small shivers that came over her as the sky darkened. She wasn't ready for this... Morroch's warm head in her lap pressed further into her stomach comfortingly. The black wolf and the young woman sat on the steps of a small stair. There was a courtyard of types in front of them and the passage into the mountains behind them. The two were at the final level of the Keep. Morroch would need open space to change form and fly. They watched as men sharpened swords, hammering them out over fires, scraped arrow-heads against stone, put on chain-mail... Sky blue eyes caught sight of Aragorn off to her right, calling a young boy over and then talking with him after swinging the lad's sword around. The ranger seemed to come to a decision of some sort and left with purpose.

Morroch looked after the man and then up at Kaia. "If he sees the need to get ready then you should be doing so as well, Ainarë." The wolf stood, stretching and shook while the young woman stood as well. They both made their way back to the stable where Kaia had left most of her weapons. She was strapping them on when a horn sounded. Her head snapped up, frown on her face. That couldn't be the orcs...could it?

The canine was already bounding down the hall of the stable and she quickly followed, curiosity stirring, banishing the fear and the feeling like she might throw up any moment for a short time. The wolf skidded to a halt, the young woman stopping beside him as gold and sky blue eyes took in the sight before them. All the men seemed amazed, too...

Elves!

Kaia stared and for a moment, her hands went up to hide her own ears before freezing and then lowering again. These were her kin, whether she would interact with them or not remained to be seen, but she didn't want to hide what she was anymore. Morroch was sniffing almost cautiously, but she couldn't figure out why. The truth was, the wolf was confused. He'd thought that the scent familiarity between Legolas and Kaia was due to them being the only elves among the humans. It turned out he was wrong and Morroch was now puzzled as to why the two did smell so much alike...

The whole Keep watched as the lead elf, Haldir - her sharp ears had picked up the name from Aragorn's lips - offered his and his kin's service to Rohan. The King just looked amazed. Aragorn was nodding, looking grateful and relieved. Legolas and Haiawen just looked smug and more then comfortable to be among their own race again. Gimli was nowhere to be seen...

He looked around, more than used to the sight, smells and attitudes of men among his kin. The elf's sharp eyes scanned the men of Rohan, weighing them, gauging the chances of how many would survive the night. He knew from experience, too much experience, that many would not see the dawn, especially the youngest and oldest among them... It pained him, but such was the price of war and protecting those you loved, the land you loved, your freedom and life.

Maybe he should not have come. What chance did these men truly have against the forces coming up against them? As soon as he had thought these things, he felt ashamed. If anyone should know what one could do when one's loved ones were threatened, it should be him. The men of Rohan would at least give the enemy a reason to regret underestimating them...at least.

The elf started to bring his attention back to Haldir and orders, but a flash of red caught his eyes and he looked up at the battlement. He blinked in surprise, seeing the woman - no, elf! - that stood there. Her red hair was braided, sword strapped to her back and wearing men's clothing. A black wolf stood at her side, bigger then any normal canine should be. She didn't seem to noticed his gaze, looking over at Haldir, but the wolf did, meeting his eyes with feral gold ones. The elleth's head suddenly snapped around as if the creature's interest had drawn her own and sky blue eyes - he found surprisingly familiar for a reason he didn't understand - met his own eyes.

His heart gave an unexpected start.

----

Kaia jerked her eyes away from the other elf's as her King shouted out orders. She was almost grateful for the distraction, not bothering to look back as she almost fled to the inner courtyard again. Morroch followed, looking up at her with both amusement and worry.

"What is wrong? Did that elf upset you?" He noticed some strange, unfamiliar thought-patterns going through his rider's head when the male had looked at her. The wolf wasn't sure he liked it, especially since Kaia didn't appear to be all right with it either. The canine's thoughts of retaliation were halted quickly, though, much to his disappointment as Kaia gave him an amused look and chuckled. She adjusted her sword and then absently fiddled with a dagger on her belt, nervousness filling her once more as her keen eyes glanced fire in the distance.

Torches.

"No, Morroch. I'm just jumpy. He didn't do anything so stop with the biting images." She ruffled the canine's ears and his tongue lolled for a brief moment of peace. It was broken with the first crash of thunder...and then the downpour of rain. Morroch shook his fur, looking none to happy as he growled. "Of course it had to rain. What's a bloody battle without rain?"

Kaia couldn't muster up the enthusiasm to laugh and gripped his fur tightly as the orcs approached, torches sputtering out in the rain one by one. She shivered, doubt filling her. What was she doing? She shouldn't be here... The young elleth went to look down at Morroch, maybe plead with him to fight without her...to be startled by the fact that when she looked down she had to look up again, blinking rain out of her eyes.

The large black dragon's gold eyes glittered in amusement, but the warm air and gentle push he gave her were full of comfort. He didn't appear to have any trouble controlling the dragon form this time and he clearly recognized her. Kaia found herself leaning against a black leg as his growling voice filled her head, somehow sounding bigger when he was a dragon. It blocked out the roaring of the orcs, their bashing shields and stomping feet.

"It will be fine, Kaia. I will let nothing harm you."

Kaia nodded, but pulled back with a frown as she felt the scales under her hand. They were hard. Not leathery soft like last time...almost as if they'd matured rapidly. The young elleth started to smile, seeing the advantages. If Morroch's scales were stronger, harder, then they wouldn't be pierced as easily... The black dragon's growling laugh soon gained volume until he let it out in a roar that echoed off the mountains, drowning out the orcs all together, making the men close to them start violently in surprise. It satisfied the dragon and it gave Kaia courage as she climbed onto his back, positioning herself between and just in front of his wings. A small hollow was there and the small ridges along his back and neck provided perfect handholds. Kaia was expecting him to take off so what he did next surprised her.

He went to the rock of the mountain and started clawing and biting at it. For a few moments Kaia just blinked. It only occurred to her after a minute that he was EATING the rock. The young woman leaned sideways, looking into his eye with a raised brow. "What are you doing?" She could hear the sound of battle below...they needed to help! The black dragon continued to crush the rocks in his jaw and replied calmly.

"I'm collecting fuel. I need this rock." He wasn't sure how he knew, but just like every instinct that came with each form he took, this was one he both understood and didn't get at all for different reasons. He knew the purpose for eating a rock would come to him when he needed it, but right now, he didn't know anything besides the fact that he needed to do this for his own benefit. Morroch was grateful that Kaia didn't ask more, perhaps reading his thoughts or emotions, and the black dragon soon finished his task.

Kaia was more prepared this time around when Morroch took off, leaping from the battlement and up into the air. She held on to him tightly for a minute, but as he started to descend toward the orcs who were invading her home, killing her kin, maybe her family...her grip relaxed as she sat up straight, anger and determination filling her heart. Kaia suddenly wished more then anything that she was better with a bow. She'd grabbed it at the last minute, knowing she wasn't a great shot, but reasoning that she'd be shooting into a swarm of black orcs. How hard was it to miss?

Not too hard really.

Kaia had started out by just shooting into the mass, but soon had to coordinate her shots with Morroch's dives to the wall. He delighted in knocking over ladders and finding a group of approaching orcs on the wall - with no humans in the midst - and knocking them flying with his claws or tail. His snapping jaws closed on the enemy's bodies with ease, like breaking kindling for a fire. It was almost too easy for the large creature and Kaia found herself soon being absorbed into Morroch's predator instincts, connected as she was to his mind. Killing didn't bother her at the moment, death of an orc meant the life of a human was saved. That's all that mattered. Nothing else mattered as her sword cut down orcs in passing or her arrows brought down another.

She'd fallen into a type of trance, but was shocked out of it as orange-red fire suddenly erupted from Morroch's open jaws. It went down on the swarm, consuming screaming orcs in its wake, hot and relentless. The young woman stared at the damage, almost missing the sudden cheering that came from the Keep as the men's spirits started to bolster and soar to hopeful levels. Kaia felt her own mind grasp the fact that there was still hope...and she was riding one of the creatures who might keep that hope alive for a little while longer.

Morroch roared in pleasure. He hadn't known he could do that! The dragon's gold eyes gleamed wickedly as he puffed his chest, feeling another burst of heat build in his chest, come to his throat and leave his mouth in a stream of deadly fire. The black dragon chortled and his rider finally laughed with him.

---

Morroch saw the orc leap, large torch in hand, before the wall exploded. The dragon's wings froze for a brief moment in pure shock before he started for the gap with speed. The wall was gone! Part of it was gone! He wasn't sure why it shocked him so much, but the wall, in a way, was like Rohan itself: Sturdy, dependable, impenetrable...and now it was broken, wounded... Maybe these emotions weren't entirely his own, though. The dragon could feel Kaia's disbelief and her rage. It spurred him on until they'd come to the gap. The elves and orcs were already fighting by then, but it didn't stop him from simply spewing fire at the orcs trying to get in, a safe distance from their allies.

He could just flame them all!

Or so he'd thought, but Morroch soon found out that he had no more flame left to give. The instinct to gather more rock appeared and suddenly he knew what the 'fuel' had been for. His flame. The dragon growled in anger, but made a quick decision, landing in the flames as they died down, right in front of the wall-gap. His gleaming, orc-blood stained teeth and the threat of fire - though he had none - made the orcs pause. It gave him some satisfaction and time for Kaia to slip off his back and run toward the elves before the foul creatures came forward once more...into his waiting claws, teeth and tail.

If he couldn't roast them, he'd just gut them. The fact was, none of them were going to get to his rider who was now somewhere behind him...

Kaia knew that if she'd stayed on Morroch, he would have been too distracted to fight efficiently and so she'd slipped off, heading to where she could help. The battle between the orcs already in the Keep and Aragorn, Gimli and the elves was fierce. She joined in, making herself keep the anger she'd felt earlier with her as she struck down an Uruk-hai, refusing to feel sick or pity or another emotion other then righteous rage for these cruel, foul creatures that had invaded her home.

The young elleth looked toward Morroch, wanting to make sure he was all right, forgetting their bond...it turned out to almost be a mistake that cost her her life. An axe flew past her, striking the orc that would have sliced her head in two. Kaia whipped around to look at the dwarf who just grinned at her. "Thirty-six!" She blinked and then grinned back, nodding her head before getting said head back into the battle again. Gimli had saved her life, she wouldn't soon forget it.

She grunted, pulling her blade out of black armor, checking up on Morroch the wiser way this time. "Morroch, how are you? Can you hold them?"

The voice that answered was angry, tired and almost sounded hoarse. "There are too many, Kaia." Kaia glanced over to see the black dragon kill a group of at least three Uruk-hai with his powerful jaws, but even as he did, more seeped around his body, pouring in. Many tried to hack at his scales, only to have their sword bounce off and a large tail come to snap their necks with a side-sweep. The dragon roared, causing a momentary retreat by some of the creatures, but they seemed to realize no more fire was forthcoming and were getting bolder.

Kaia watched as Morroch was forced to move back into the Keep, slowly, but surely. Orcs were pouring in around him, the elves hard-pressed to kill them despite his help. The order was finally given to fall back and Kaia sprinted toward the dragon as he turned to her, springing on strong legs over the heads of orcs and elves alike to land with a surprisingly light impact in front of her. The young elleth grabbed his scales, climbing upon his large back quickly before looking around. She didn't pause to impress what she wanted onto Morroch without thought and he didn't hesitate to trust her and accept the orders. They were learning quickly from each other.

The dragon's long, black tail swept an orc away from a wounded elf before that same tail wrapped around the being of light, bringing him to his back and Kaia. She grabbed the warrior, helping him sit the winged-creature as Morroch moved on to help someones else. He didn't try to fly, knowing the weight would be too much as he now had six people upon his back, but it wasn't difficult for the large dragon to climb the walls, using his wings for support and leverage. Kaia held the most badly wounded elf in front of her tightly, gripping the black scales with her legs and encouraging those behind her to do the same as Morroch hoisted himself to the top level of the fortress. The elves slipped off, two staying behind to collect their injured comrade and then running toward the caves with every other soldier. Kaia watched them go, but was soon more interested in helping more people get to safety and she urged Morroch to head back to the battle.

They'd managed to collect two more elves who needed help, two dark-haired elves that Kaia could have sworn looked exactly alike, before one of them pointed out Haldir, leader of the elves, trapped on his section of the wall by enemies. Morroch needed no words - even having not seen the Marchwarden but hearing Kaia's thoughts - to give a growling roar and head with speed toward the wall. His height was such that all he had to do was go up onto his hind legs for his snapping jaws to be within reach of several orcs. Haldir didn't at first see the dragon, but when he backed into the large snout, turning to bury his sword in the "enemy" and all his blade did was clang against hard scales, the elf's expression couldn't help but make Kaia chuckle. The elf directly behind her smiled a bit in his own amusement, but it seemed to be more for her laughter then for the Marchwarden, something the young elleth didn't even notice.

Haldir hadn't been briefed on the dragon, but he'd seen the creature fight for them, so when the red-haired figure on his back and then the two dark-haired elves beckoned him on, he leaped gracefully behind the other three, holding on tightly as Morroch sprang up onto the battlement and then went again for the top of the fortress and the caves. He almost shook his extra passengers off, eager to get back to killing and to have Kaia safely away from the ground. Haldir ran for the caves, knowing his elves were there and one of the dark-haired elves followed him, but the other stopped briefly, his eyes locking with Kaia's sky blue. Asking if she was coming.

The young elleth merely shook her head and Morroch took off into the sky, leaving the male elf to look into up for a long moment before running into the caves after his kin.

---

Kaia's eyes searched the battle-field for allies, but she found none... no one that was alive at least. The orcs continued to pour into Helm's Deep and Morroch finally dived for the top of the fortress. His presence scattered the orcs that had started to converge on a group of men. The Rohirrim had finally come to the caves, making their way there against the odds, to find the doors shut, barred. They'd gathered together, a group of about ten to try and keep the orcs away. They'd been pushed back to a different area, one more enclosed to protect their backs and were now fighting for their lives. Morroch let out a roar of anger, stepping in front of the group. His sharp, bloody teeth bared in a challenging manner and Kaia slipped off his back, going into the group of men as she spied one on the ground.

The dragon snapped as two of the braver orcs approached and they were killed for their troubles. The foul creatures seemed to take a moment to think about whether this was worth it or not. The sound of hammering started across the courtyard as the Uruk-hai begun trying to break into the caves. The Rohirrim group looked almost panicked, ready to rush forward, but Morroch's tail blocked them, keeping them from running toward danger and keeping danger out for the moment.

Kaia tied the makeshift bandage tightly, knowing the man might not last the next few hours. She'd done what she could, though. She looked at the dragon, red hair falling out of her braid, blood in it, on her face, clothes. Her fingers were caked with it and her body sore, probably injured, though, she didn't notice it at the moment. The young elleth wondered if she'd even come out of this alive.

"I should help them." The voice was undecided, surprisingly concerned.

"No, Morroch. If you leave, these men will die. You cannot guarantee that those in the caves will live if you go to help, but you can protect these men. Stay, please." It killed her to say it, knowing that maybe her family was in those caves, women and children, Aragorn, Legolas, Haiawen, Gimli, elves and Rohirrim were in those caves...and she knew there was no promise that they would live the night even with Morroch trying to save them. He could protect these ten men. It would have to be enough.

The dragon growled in frustration, but stayed, guarding the men who remained behind him, trusting him to not leave.

---

Gimli didn't want to admit it, but he was worried for the lass. Not so much the dragon-horse-wolf creature, but the woman had gained his grudgingly given affection in the short time he'd known her. Kaia just didn't seem to make enemies other then those who were enemies of all. The dwarf hadn't wanted to come to care about her, but she'd been polite, interested in his kin and had never shown to bear a grudge against him for the first night they'd met. How was a dwarf supposed to stay wary of someone like that?

He looked toward the barricaded door. She was out there now, with Morroch, but still out there with the orcs. He found himself hoping the lass had flown away, but couldn't really bring himself to believe it. Gimli looked up at his elven friend, a person he'd never thought to get along with. Legolas looked down at the red-bearded being, his sky blue eyes showing his worry for the newer friend they'd just begun to know.

"She'll be fine, laddie. The creature will take care of her." The dwarf's voice was gruff, but Legolas could detect the worry underneath.

The elven prince smiled slightly at the mention of Morroch, but he looked back at the door again, hearing the orcs on the other side trying to get through. Aragorn was talking to Théoden in a quiet voice when the elf once again looked around, but that's not what caught his attention as he spotted two dark-haired elves with their lighter-haired kin, helping with the injured. No...it couldn't be... Legolas blinked and looked at Haiawen from where she was beside the two, helping. His wife smiled, a bit forced, but nodded to confirm that his suspicion as to who the two elves were was correct.

The elven prince nodded and then turned his attention to the King as the man announced that they would ride out. Gimli volunteered to blow the horn of Helm Hammerhand - anything to avoid getting on a horse.

---

Kaia wiped her face with a grimy hand, stepping back to let anther man take her place in helping Morroch keep the orcs away. She tried not to think about how much her left arm burned, the blood running down her temple, the orcs breaking into the cave, about how the people in there would fight, falling back to where the women and children were, how the screams would echo off the rock... The young elleth was jolted out of her morbid thoughts as horses galloped past, their riders slashing at the orcs as they went. The men around her finally broke loose, following their king and Morroch let them as his tail helped Kaia load the injured soldier onto his back. They went toward the caves and the dragon planted his large body in front of the door, blocking the entrance completely from the Uruk-hai that would have entered in the mens' absence. He roared, forcing them back with snapping teeth and sharp claws.

Kaia held tightly to the man she supported with her right arm, her left all but useless. "Morroch move away from the door. I need to get him inside." She slipped off when he sidled a bit away from the frame, falling to her knees with the weight of the man. Kaia looked up as the two identical elves rushed over, taking the injured soldier from her with calm hands. She thanked them in a mumbling way, exhaustion creeping in. She'd never done this before, had never fought like she had for so long. All the stress, the injuries she wasn't completely aware of, the killing... Kaia couldn't register feeling any surprise when she blacked out.

Morroch felt the darkness flash through his mind and then nothing, no Kaia inside his head. The absence made him freeze with panic and horror. His large head snapped around to view her through the door, almost breaking the walls of the door frame in his haste to see if she was all right. Morroch felt his lungs suck in air with relief when he saw the rise and fall of her chest, and with it came awareness in his mind that he could still sense her. He just couldn't read her thoughts or emotions because there were none to read. He growled threateningly at Gimli as the dwarf spotted Kaia and rushed forward, but the smaller being simply glared at him as he checked the young elleth over.

The dragon rumbled again in annoyance, but turned his attention back to the battle...and then realized he didn't need to. The orcs were flooding out of the fortress and he soon saw why, looking out onto the field. Reinforcements had arrived. Morroch felt the fight go out of him, knowing the day was theirs and as the fight went, so did his shape. The wolf turned on swift paws, easily slipping into the cave entrance and to his rider.

They'd won. The Rohirrim didn't need him anymore. Kaia did.

---

Kaia woke to pain. At first she thought her whole body hurt - and it did - but she soon realized that while she was sore all over, her left shoulder, her right thigh and her forehead all hurt the most. The young elleth simply laid where she was, which happened to be in the infirmary of the fortress on a cot, not daring to move. She was bandaged and clean in a way, but she wanted to take a bath with a great longing. She also didn't want to get up at the moment...

"A most excellent idea."

She smiled at the deep voice, finally registering the warm fur brushing against her arm, the large body on the cot by her side. Her fingers delved into the black fur, comforted. "Agreed." Her sky blue eyes opened, wincing at the light and something occurred to her. "Morroch, did we...?" The wolf chuckled, looking at her out of one gold eye. "Yes, we won. Someone named Éomer arrived with reinforcements. They were summoned by someone named Gandalf. I have yet to see either up close." Kaia nodded, just letting the fact sink in that they were alive...and they'd won!

"Aragorn is well, as are Legolas, Haiawen and that dwarf. Your father left only a few minutes ago, but only to check on Ethon. He was injured in the side, but should be fine. Your other two brothers survived, but they're are helping with the retrieval of the dead." Kaia didn't need to ask for the information. Morroch already knew what was on her mind and supplied it without prompt, his head still on his paws. Kaia ran her fingers through his fur, relief and tiredness seeping into her once more until her eyes shut in sleep.

---

The two elves walked with silent intent up to their target. Aragorn was distracted, or so it seemed and evil grins came across identical faces as the dark-haired elves grabbed the man. They were and were not expecting him to try and strike out at them. The two laughed, only releasing the ranger as recognition and disbelief came into his eyes. Aragorn spun around as they let him go, a smile making its way onto his own face.

Dark brown - almost black - hair, dark brown, mischievous eyes and two identical devilish smirks greeted him as the twins watched their younger brother's reaction. The man shook his head, but threw his arms around the two as they hugged him back, laughing. He pulled away, looking the two over.

"Elladan! Elrohir! What are you doing here?"

--------

Elleth = Female-elf

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