Author’s Note: This is a continuation of two prior fics I posted about six months ago, each based on one movie/book. This fic is the last installment, obviously, and is–like the two before it–a mix of the book and the movie. However, as it seems the first was more movie and the second was more book (clearly barring certain instances *coughcough* Helm’s Deep *coughcough* for those of you who read them), this third one seems to balance the other two out as the majority of it is original content that nevertheless follows the basic storyline.
What I’m saying is that if you don’t have an open mind to the movieverse, you likely won’t care for this fic or its predecessors.
Which is unfortunate for you–sorry about your bad luck (no, I am not a belligerent warmongerer, I’m being honest).
For those of you who are interested, read on! If you are not familiar with my first two fics or if you are and just need a recap (yes, geek_chick, I remembered to put it up ) after all this time, read below. Links to the first and last Tales of both preceding fics are directly below their respective titles.
Recap of Lord of the Rings: Kyshri’s Story:
Only a short time after leaving Rivendell, the Fellowship finds a wounded female Elf as the only survivor of what was clearly as bloody battle between Elves and Orcs. Returning her to her city–a place none of them have seen or heard of where runaway and exiled Elves, Dwarves, Men, and hobbits reside peacefully–they discover that she is one of its founders, a Patron. The Fellowship leaves her safe in the city the following morning and are surprised a few hours later by her reappearance. Orcs have stormed the city in her absence and she temporarily joins the Fellowship for no reason other than to seek revenge for the destruction of her home and the murder of so many of its inhabitants. So for the time being she remains with the Fellowship and rediscovers her old home in Lothlorien, where she faces Haldir’s wrath. During the Fellowship’s stay, however, she makes amends and leaves the Golden Wood without the frustrated malice she had previously held in her heart.
Recap of The Two Towers: Kyshri’s Story:
Upon the breaking of the Fellowship, Kyshri remains with Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli as they search for Pippin and Merry because it is a fresh trail to follow to soothe her craving for vengeance. However, as she is attuned to magic–though her skills at it are less than she would prefer–she is quite sensitive to the magical strengths of others and so is threatened by Saruman’s power as he seeks to put distance between his Uruk-hai and the Fellowship. Refusing to sleep, she thus avoids that danger, but faces a new one when she runs through the night and comes upon the slaughter of the Uruk-hai by the Rohirrim. They take her captive and she tolerates their less-than-kind treatment of her until they find the three unlikely travel partners whom she was separated from. Rejoining them she meets Quephiril, one of the lesser Mearas with a bronze-coat, ice-blue eyes, and silver mane and tail. The stallion agrees to her commands and comes to love her deeply, which becomes an endless source of teasing for Legolas. She then goes to Helm’s Deep and happily greets the arriving army of Elves. Haldir gives her the Orb of Eru–an item of great power from her childhood that Galadriel had her use to channel her magical capabilities–and she summons the Element Keepers, four powerful dragons, to aid in the battle. In this time, the Orb of Eru somehow enters her body and renders her unconscious for a time. Haldir’s death distracts her from thinking about it and she returns to Lothlorien. When she rejoins the Fellowship, it is then that the Orb of Eru–still within her chest–acts and changes her into the Mother of Dragons, the Shadow Queen Keelica.
So begins Return of the King: Kyshri’s Story . . .
Keelica rose and arched her back in a feline manner. Her scales straightened, standing out from her and making her seem twice her true size. As she relaxed, the scales returned to their normal positions against her sides and she opened her jaws in a menacing but still harmless yawn, her fangs bared for all to marvel at. Then she shook like a hound, tossing dirt clods and weeds stuck to her away. Sitting primly, four feet clumped together with her tail curled over them, she yawned for a second time, exposing her fangs more than usual.
“. . . Hello,” came a nervous squeak.
She tilted her head and looked down at the diminutive creature before her. It was barely waist-height on Men, had Elf-like ears and hairy feet, and was staring back at her in stunned awe.
“Um . . . I was . . . was . . . I mean . . . Legolas asked . . . Legolas asked me to bring this to . . . to you . . .”
Though she could not understand what it said, she heard the Elf’s name and smiled to herself. Such a sly young Quendi, making sure that all his friends became acquainted with her. She lowered her head to the plate and sniffed. The food was cooked–not exactly her preferred condition for it–but she assumed it was Legolas’ way of making sure the little creature met her, for raw meat would certainly have frightened it. Well, she was a bit hungry and curiosity had killed the feline, not the dragon. Slowly extending her tongue, she swiped it over the plate. The little ridges on it were deep and caught every last scrap of food in that single stroke.
“I . . . I’m also supposed to, uh . . . to tell you that I’m a hobbit, a, uh . . . what was the word . . . oh yes! A periannath!” Pronouncing the Elvish word–even if it was a bit mangled–seemed to give the creature new courage. “My name is Meriadoc Brandybuck, but everybody calls me Merry!”
Keelica nodded thoughtfully, sensing that the odd words were actually just his name. As speaking seemed to prove her civility, she said with slight hesitation, [. . . Merry . . .]
The halfling nodded enthusiastically and skipped away, boldly daring to turn his back to the dragon queen. She rose to her feet and meandered slowly away from the camp, no set destination in mind.
[Keelica! Where is it you go?]
She stopped and turned, giving a reassuring nudge to the concerned Elf. [I will not be far. I am only going to find myself a true meal.]
He seemed to be struggling to find a grin. [All right.]
Had she possessed the facial muscles for it, she would have smiled. Instead, she gave his cheek a small nuzzle and a faint touch with her tongue. [I will not bear her away from you forever.]
His face reddened. [I do trust you, I do. But . . .]
[Do not apologize. I understand.]
With that, she continued on her way, disappearing into the trees. But then she stopped and the tip of her tail twitched rapidly. She finally went on and it was gone amidst the leaves of the trees.
Legolas watched the dragon queen leave, then sighed heavily and hung his head. He was even more edgy than normal, whether because of Kyshri’s new vulnerability or the fact that while she was so near she was still so very far from him. Letting out a breath in a sharp huff, he sat on the ground and fingered the phoenix pendant beneath his tunic.
As never before, Kyshri’s absence stung him. And he feared the possibility of her death through Keelica’s own. If Kyshri was ever to die, he knew–despite the short time they had been acquainted–that she would wish to die fighting, not sleeping helplessly within a dragon.
He twisted to look at his friend. [Yes?]
Aragorn scanned the trees. [Where is the dragon?]
[The plans are to leave as soon as possible.]
[Do not worry about her not finding us. It is an impossibility. Her nose is more acute than a wolf’s and her eyes keener than an Eagle’s. And with the way Men travel, she could hear us fifty leagues off.]
They moved surprisingly quickly.
Keelica noted this with a small breath of surprise, but did not increase her pace. Holding the distance-consuming jog and muddling with one step several of the hoof-prints she was following, she decided to pause at the top of the next hill. Only if she could not see them would she take to the sky. It was better for her to remain on the ground when copses of trees could conceal a sizeable collection of enemies. In this case, she was safer on the earth than in the air to be more prepared for battle.
Cresting the hill, she paused only briefly, her eyes locking immediately on the lightly swishing tails of many horses. Argumentative tones reached her ears and she extended her neck as she began to move down the hill predatorily. She picked up a great deal of speed until her strides were at their full reach and were still almost not enough to keep her from a full gallop. Were she not sure-footed, she would certainly have tripped.
Nearing the gathering she arched her neck and bared her white fangs in a silent snarl, spreading her wings half out aggressively. Ascending a short incline, she deliberately made her tread heavier to catch the earth and make her approach more menacing. Breaking into a run, she slid between the two groups and roared at the intruders as a cloud of dust was stirred and settled slowly.
There was a great deal of surprised and fearful shouting, but there was not a part of her they could reach with their swords that would deal her a mortal wound. Not unless they had projectiles they could fire at her. Large projectiles.
[Keelica, wait!] Legolas rushed forward, moving around to her head. [Do not attack them!]
She did not remit, locking her eyes on these others. [They are intruders upon this land. They smell of other places.]
[They are our allies from the North,] Legolas answered. [Many kinsmen of Aragorn who have come to aid us. Please, do not harm them. They do not wish to battle us.]
She relaxed hesitantly. [Very well.]
The new allies, Dunedain from the northernmost reaches of Hithaeglir, were quickly welcomed into the existing force. Despite their less than amicable meeting, the Rangers easily accepted Keelica’s presence–apparently fully trusting Aragorn’s judgement on the matter–and she quickly became accustomed to them. They were certainly far more pleasant company than the Rohirrim.
But what tickled her the most were the two Elves who had been embedded within the Dunedain ranks. She had first missed them because of their dark hair, which had made her assume they were mortal. Upon noticing their ears, however, she had realized that they were Quendi as well.
Unfortunately, she could only examine them once the army had reached the Hornburg. They were equally taken by her, having identified her immediately, and the curious inspection followed the quick settle-in at the Burg. To satisfy everyone, one of the brothers spoke to Keelica while the other looked her over and then they switched places once finished.
[I take it others have trouble telling you apart?] the dragon queen asked.
Elladan nodded. [Only those who have known us for many years generally do not mistake us for each other.]
Keelica shook her head. [I could never survive with such horrid sight. And to think the eyes of mortals are worse . . .!]
Elladan’s hot temper flared. [Elves have excellent eyes!]
Her return gaze was cool. [I have keener eyes than Eagles, who have sharper eyes than Elves. Therefore, my eyes are automatically superior to yours. Do not dare act so prideful with me, child. I was the one, already well over four thousand years, who was there to play guardian to your ancestors when they first awakened here in Middle-earth. I saw how many fewer flaws they had than even me, but I also saw the weaknesses I did not possess.]
Elladan opened his mouth, but Elrohir quickly interrupted him as he plucked at the queen dragon’s scales. [Elladan, please show some measure of sense and silence yourself. You are not going to win this argument.]
The other Elf snarled, but did not speak. Keelica, aware of how highly-strung the Eldar were, did not take deep offense as she might have normally. Instead, she grabbed hold of the back of Elladan’s tunic and snapped her head sharply, pitching him several hundred yards into a lake. Elrohir shaded his eyes in concern and made sure that his brother was not hurt, then began to laugh at him.
Keelica pushed off from the earth and glided mere feet from the grass, finally ascending to hover over Elladan where he floated in the lake. [Have you calmed or do you need more time?]
He glared up at her, but with his hair in his eyes it was hardly effective. If it would have affected her in the first place. But he did concede defeat and raise his arms for aid. She lowered her head and slid a fang into his tunic as he grabbed onto her scales. Returning to the Hornburg, she set him down and gave him a little swipe with her tongue.
[You should find a fire and dry clothing,] she instructed.
[You did this to me!]
[And you]–she mimicked his emphasis–[proved that you needed it by contradicting me. Now go.]
Grumbling, Elladan reluctantly went inside to dry off and change.
[Was that truly necessary?] Legolas asked.
[It was the only suitable way to discipline him. Would you have preferred me to crush him against the cliffs or scorch him as one of my own hatchlings?]
[. . . Was there no other way?]
[You saw. He would not hear my words.]
[But he is a son of Lord Elrond!]
Keelica appeared politely bewildered. [. . . Whom?]
[Lord Elrond of Rivendell!]
[I do not—]
Legolas sighed. [He is one of the sons of Earendil and Elwing!]
Keelica brightened. [Ah yes, I remember! He and his brother were captured and then left to die. Poor little darlings . . .]
[Yes, and now he is Lord of Rivendell!]
[How wonderful for him!]
Legolas was growing frustrated. [You might have killed his son!]
The dragon queen snorted. [First, I would never knowingly slay one of the Quendi lest they prove themselves truly unfit to live and incapable of repentance. Second, if that boy is the son of a lord, his discipline is severely lacking.] Her eyes narrowed and she asked with a cruel grin, [Besides, his brother is still here. Is that not the purpose of twins? For one to replace the other?]
There was a stunned silence and she examined their expressions, then gloated to herself. [You Quendi take things far too seriously . . .]
Calming and realizing time had given her a horribly cynical sense of humor, Elrohir spoke. [I back Elladan in this; he has a rather quick temper.]
[All the more reason for him to control himself,] Keelica answered firmly, unswayed. [As of this instant, he is not suitable to take his father’s place should it become necessary. If I must be forced to discipline him to teach him respect and restraint, I will do it. He has great potential, though it is misdirected. He need only learn patience and self-control.]
They watched Elladan return in fresh clothes, his hair hanging down his back in clumped locks. He stopped a bit away, but was easily reached by Keelica’s wing. She drew him in and settled down on the earth, drifting into a guarding sleep.
[Rest, young ones. We will be leaving early tomorrow.]
[How do you know?] Elladan challenged.
[I heard no such thing!]
The dragon queen huffed. [Child, my senses are superior to yours. Accept it now before you manage to find your pride further damaged.]
Despite Elladan’s muttering, all three Elves lay between Keelica’s forelegs and quieted. Gimli joined them later and then, with Aragorn’s encouragement, the Rangers fell asleep using the dragon as support. Aragorn himself was late getting sleep as he was in debate with Eowyn over her attending the war.
“What is that?!” Eowyn cried upon seeing the dragon queen’s dark shape.
“It is Keelica, the Mother of Dragons. She will be aiding us.”
“A dragon?” Her skepticism was clear.
Aragorn knew he would not convince her of the dragon’s innocence with words. “Come meet her.” He barely managed to coax her, which became easier when she saw the Dwarf, Elves, and Rangers unharmed. [Keelica, I have someone for you to meet. Lady Eowyn of Rohan.]
The black dragon lifted her head and bowed her neck. [Greetings.]
A scream of disbelief echoed all around.
I know that Eowyn is a shield maiden and not likely given to screaming, but blast it, I’d scream if I saw a dragon and I’m not a screamer by nature myself. Besides, dragons were supposed to be evil and even though I’ve made them good, not everyone–certainly not mortal Men–is aware of that. So please allow me that bit of license.
And Keelica’s punishment of Elladan may seem harsh, but think about the crap that Elves must be able to put up with if they can only die of heartbreak or in battle. I mean, can they even drown?