This story is unedited as of yet…
Thick black clouds filled the sky, casting Glân Vraig in dreary light as Kynta Kelldot arrived late that evening. Despite the threat of storm, the hobbit surveyed the Free People camp with wide eyed wonder. The ancient Elven architecture was from a time long past and more beautiful than just about anything she had ever seen, just behind Rivendell and The Shire, of course. Towering pillars dwarfed the hobbit as she made her way to the grand curving staircases that would lead her into the heart of a battle that had raged for years.
The elves here were not as talkative as those in Rivendell or of Lothlorien. Whether it was because of the dark ominous clouds that rumbled with thunder or just the fact that, to Kynta, all elves were always like this, she didn’t know. She did grab a few provisions from one of the grim vendors who quickly vanished back into one of the buildings with a quick look at the sky. “It’s just rain,” Kynta grumbled while making room for the new items. This included eating a few cookies so the more important things would fit but she didn’t mind that. When she was set, the hobbit climbed onto the back of her faithful, trusted pony Oreoh, leaving behind the torchlit terraces as she set off into the hills of the Coldfells.
Melannuial, a bothersome hunter and friend, had told Kynta not to come here. “The Moors are no place for a little hobbit,” she had said which all but assured Kynta would come. Since the rise of Angmar, the Free Peoples have been locked in an endless battle with the forces of darkness. Having heard the stories, even with Melannuial’s warning, Kynta couldn’t stay away. She had heard stories about the Ettenmoors and wanted to see a real battle first hand. Besides, that Hunter had called her a little hobbit. Sure, it was true but it was the way she said it.
If anything, she had to prove herself to the elf. She respected Mel, at least more than Calnarya the Rune-keeper, but there were times Kynta simply did not want to feel like she was a child. Three-feet-tall did not make her a child and if coming here to the Moors would prove her worth then so be it.
Kynta had been admiring Tirith Rhaw, a massive fortress as ancient as Glân Vraig, if not as lovely, when the weather took a turn for the worse. A loud peal of thunder rumbled across the sky and shook the very ground beneath her feet as a bolt of lightning arced across the heavens in a blinding display of power. She thought she would have more time but then, what did she know about weather? Cookies, sure, she could go on for hours about them but the weather in this part of Middle-Earth was famous for being unpredictable.
Kynta mounted Oreoh and turned toward Glân Vraig and kicked the pony into a gallop as another bolt of lightning flashed from the sky, striking the ground just before her. The pony, startled, reared back hard and toppled the unprepared hobbit from its back.
Kynta hit the ground with a thud that knocked the breath from her lungs and began to tumble down the hill. She expected to crash into the boulder below and tried to shield her head but found herself tumbling into something soft and furry instead. Also a little smelly. She managed to push off the creature and twist to see what had broken her fall only to come face to face with something a bit more frightening than the rocks she barely escaped. Kynta lurched back, barely escaping the sharp fangs and snapping jaws of the beast.
It was a warg.
She pulled out her dagger, Sigillor, and shook it menacingly at the warg; if this was, in fact, a warg. She had never seen one half as big as this. It was as big as her pony with dark black fur and patches of red that gave him a grizzled, battle-worn appearance.
It took her a panicked moment to realize the warg hadn’t made a move to actually attack her. She wondered briefly why she was still alive as the creature looked at her with an intelligence and hatred that filled her with dread. Then she saw it. A long forgotten hunter’s trap, ancient and well rusted, had its jagged teeth set deeply into the beast’s leg.
With the two of them standing there, feet apart, the rain began to fall. Neither one said anything to the other. The hobbit glanced from his face and the eyes that said plain as day; “I want to kill you,” to the trap on his leg. She could kill him. With him trapped it wouldn’t be that hard. She almost reached for her flute but one look at those red eyes made her shiver. This was no stupid wolf. This was a warg who was calculating every move she was making right now. If anything, that fact – the fact that he could reason just as well as she could – scared her more than his fangs and claws. Slowly, Kynta began to inch away. The warg growled at her. With a nasty glare in her direction, as she disappeared behind a rock, he sank back down to his misery and pain
She found a pathetic shelter under an overhang not far from where she fell and curled up to wait out the storm. Oreoh was most likely already half way to Glân Vraig by now so she would have to try to get to Tirith Rhaw once the storm let up.
Kynta could hear the warg. He was whimpering and howling in pain. He would growl and curse, most likely trying to get the trap off his foot. Wargs were not wolves. They were much smarter, Kynta knew, so she guessed that he would be able to get the trap off eventually. She was also hoping that when he did, she was safely behind the walls in Tirith Rhaw.
The rain died and returned in spurts. Just when she thought she could leave the cave, which wasn’t offering much protection anyway, it would let out another load jK the bucket full. During the quiet spells, she noticed that she couldn’t hear the warg anymore and wondered if he was dead or had escaped. The latter made her keep her dagger closer to her.
She finally moved from the vague shelter and looked up at the sky. It was still black and she knew that it wasn’t done venting on the earth below. She needed to get to Tirith Rhaw. She was about to move toward the keep and risk getting dumped on when a sensation of being followed crept over her. She turned, expecting to come face to face with the warg only to see him still in the trap, watching her, eyes narrowed.
She couldn’t leave him.
And killing him in this state would be too easy. Not that she figured he was defenseless but it was far from a fair fight. If anything, she could try to get the trap off his leg.
He was watching her as she edged around the rock and began to dig around her backpack; she pulled out the frying pan. Why she still had it she didn’t know but she hefted it and began to sneak around behind the warg that was gnawing at his foot weakly in his desperation to get the trap off.
The warg fell limply to the ground and Kynta found herself standing above him, frying pan held up ready for a second blow if needed. When she was satisfied that he was unconscious, she knelt, putting her dagger in the ground next to her just in case he woke up. His foot was covered in mud and blood and it took a few trips to where some water had pooled to clean away most of the mess so she could see the damage. So far, it didn’t look broken but she wasn’t the best with healing. She wished Isilrien was here but an Elf helping a warg? It would be like asking a Hobbit to go without food for a day!
The trap was old. It had rusted and now that it had closed it refused to open back up. She was about to give up when the thunder above announced the incoming torrent of rain. Here she was, stranded in the Ettenmoors trying to help a warg. Sitting down in the mud Kynta scowled at the trap. Even if she got it off, there was no chance he would be able to survive – scouts from Tirith Rhaw would be out patrolling as soon as the weather cleared up. They would shoot him on sight. Though, she tried to reason, he probably deserved it.
But, as flawed as the reasoning behind her actions were, Kynta refused to give up and this time took the frying pan and began to beat on the release mechanism.
It was now that the warg woke up and growled. He lunged at her and she yelped, swinging the kitchen utensil but missing his face. His jaws locked on it and it was ripped from her grip as she slipped on the muddy ground trying to escape. “Fine!” She shouted. “Just stay there and die for all I care!”
The warg growled, sinking back to the spot he was still stuck in. “I would rather eat you.”
“Gee, I wonder why?” Kynta snapped, standing up now that she knew she was out of reach of his teeth. The light rain began to get heavier and she wrapped her arms around her.
“Why would you help me? You could have killed me earlier.”
Kynta frowned at him and his question. “It would have been too easy. Besides…Oh, I dunno!”
The warg lowered himself to the ground. In truth, he was exhausted and too tired to care at this point. He watched as she carefully went to retrieve the frying pan he had flung away then looked back at his trapped leg. “You startled me,” he said.
Kynta snorted. “Well, if you’re lucky, your friends will find you and save you,” she said, cleaning up the muddy pan in a pool of water.
“They won’t help me.”
“Aren’t you on the same side?” Kynta asked, looking at him in confusion. “I mean you all fight for Sauron and Angmar and stuff.”
The warg gave a gruff, barking laugh. “The weak ones are left to die.”
“You don’t look weak to me,” Kynta said, walking around him but making sure she was far enough away so he couldn’t attack her. She crossed her arms, flicking her wet, matted hair out of her eyes with a toss of her head. “Looks to me you’ve been in plenty of battles and won. Do you have a name? My name is Kynta. Kynta Kelldot, hobbit Minstrel from the Shire.”
The warg only looked at her almost blankly until she began to feel incredibly stupid. Hobbits were, after all, not secretive about their names and loved to share them. It wasn’t until the warg began to make a strange sound that she felt herself feel even more foolish.
He was laughing at her.
“Despite how much I would love to eat you,” the warg chuckled, “I find you are a bit more amusing alive at the moment. Tell you what. I promise not to bite if you can help me get the trap off. And don’t use that black club anymore. That hurt.”
Kynta stared at the warg who was looking at her almost expectantly. When she didn’t move he flattened his ears and growled as he began to reconsider his offer.
“Ok,” Kynta said slowly, dropping her pack. “But that thing is really rusted and old. It’s being very stubborn.”
Very slowly and cautiously, Kynta moved to the warg and knelt next to his front paw again. He didn’t try to bite her but she felt the fear and dread rising in her as she resumed beating on the release trigger. When that didn’t work, she got the frying pan and managed to pry the trap open enough with the cast iron pan and her dagger enough for the warg to pull his paw out. The trap snapped shut around the frying pan but her dagger slipped through. She grabbed it and held it up as the warg limped a bit away and sank to the ground. When he didn’t move, she figured he was dead. Slowly, she came closer and inspected him.
He was breathing but one glance at his foot told her that, while he may be free from the trap, he wasn’t out of danger of dying. “Kynta Kelldot, you are as foolish as a Took right now,” the Minstrel sighed as she sheathed her dagger, shouldered her bag, and began to pull the warg to the sorry excuse for a shelter. Just as she pushed him against the wall of the half-cave, the heavens opened up once again and she set to work cleaning the warg’s leg.
She had it cleaned and splinted by the time he woke up again. She was trying not to fall asleep while eating a sparse meal and staring out into the unforgiving rain. “Tayrnak. My name is Tayrnak.”
The voice caused her to jump and she looked over at the warg. He was awake and looking at her for a moment before looking down at the splint of sticks and rope. “What is this?”
Kynta yawned despite her best effort to not show how tired she was. “It’s a splint. Just in case your leg is broken.”
He looked at it again before putting his head down watching her. She really was putting on a valiant effort to not fall asleep on him and it amused him. Eventually, she failed to stay awake any longer and slumped against the rock. Very carefully, he stood up and limped over to her. He lay down to shield her from the worst of the rain and keep her warm. Whatever she had done for his leg, he was already feeling better. Whether he ate her later or not, he figured it wouldn’t hurt to keep her alive a while longer if only to just help mend his leg. Despite his intentions, he jumped when she huddled closer to his warm fur. With a growl of annoyance, Tayrnak closed his eyes and wished that he could eat her to satisfy his hunger. Only the throb in his leg and the sticks poking his leg reminded him that he had to wait.
By the time the rain stopped, Tayrnak was starving and even his reasoning on keeping Kynta alive was starting to not make enough sense to his stomach. She woke and looked at his foot before patting him on the head and leaving telling him she would be back in a little bit. He had every intention of leaving, thinking she would go get her friends so that they would kill him. He was just starting to hobble his way down the hill when she appeared with several rabbits and a squirrel in her hand. When she saw him limping down the hill away from their shelter her face filled with anger and fear. “What do you think you’re doing!” she cried, running up to him. “The scouts in Tirith Rhaw will see you! I’m sure they’re out by now!”
Tayrnak didn’t hear her; but he did see the fresh kills and, despite his injury, pounced on the hobbit and tore the three meager meals from her grip. Thinking he had finally decided to eat her, Kynta screeched and curled up into a ball while the kills were ripped from her hands. She could hear the crunching of bone and tearing of flesh but was too scared to even try to look up until the sound was gone. He was licking his bloody muzzle, looking at her as if unsure to thank her or bite her.
“I hope those were for me,” Tayrnak said. “Cause they’re gone.”
“That was gross,” Kynta said, slowly uncurling from her defensive position.
“You expected me to eat them how?” the warg asked. “I’m hungry. I eat.”
“You could have waited ‘til i wasn’t looking,” she said, hands on her hips. “And yes, they were for you. I have my own food.”
Tayrnak made a face. “If you call that food.” Kynta rolled her eyes at him before walking up to him and grabbing him by the ruff on his neck. He growled savagely and she let go.
“Fine, then follow me back to the rocks so I can look at your leg unless you want to wear that splint ‘til it falls off and rubs the fur off your leg.”
He followed, though he was finding his healer a bit bossy for his taste. Hobbits did taste good…
Kynta pulled off the brace and made a better inspection of his wounds. “Well, the good news is, it’s not broken.”
“And the bad news?” Tayrnak asked, flicking his tail. One bite and she would be…
“I think you have an infection started,” she said, moving away to start digging in her backpack. He had to admire her confidence now to turn her back on him… “But, I guess with a trap that rusty it’s to be expected. Hmm, I wonder…” She pulled out a vial and sloshed it around before going off to get some water in her frying pan. Then she dumped the contents of the vial into the water and pushed it toward him. “Ok, try this. It will probably taste horrible but it should help with the infection. I hope.”
Kynta put her hands on her hips. “Yes, hope. I don’t usually heal wargs you know. This stuff is meant for someone like me,” and she jabbed a finger into her chest, “not a mangy dog like you.” At being called “dog” Tayrnak growled, pinning his ears back. Kynta stood her ground, glaring back. “Drink it.” When he still didn’t make a move to take the only thing she had with her that might stop an infection, she threw up her hands. “Ok, fine. Die.” With that she grabbed her bag and flopped down several paces from where he was laying and began to find her own meal in her bag, all the while muttering about stubborn wargs.
She left later while he slept. It was a fitful sleep and she assumed that the infection had taken hold and he was starting to fever. While she hunted for some small game she continued to wonder what was wrong with her. He was, in fact, a warg and would probably find her and kill her later. Or bring his friends to kill her. Either way, she could hear Melannuial’s comments now. And Calnarya’s – well, even imagining the wrath of the Rune-keeper from Rivendell was giving her a headache. She had found two rabbits which would have to suffice for the warg.
She was nearing the spot where she left them when she saw the two elven scouts. They were hovering over the trap. Even after the rain, the blood still stained the ground enough for the elves to take into account that something had been caught in it. Kynta ducked behind some bushes and watched, thankful that she had taken her pack with her out of habit.
Tayrnak was gone.
Her shoulders slumped with the realization that they probably had either killed him already or taken him. “Of all the confounded things to get worked up over,” Kynta thought as she tried hard not to cry too loud – elves had impeccable hearing, she knew from experience. It wasn’t until one of the elves picked up her frying pan that she paled and sank deeper into the bushes. “Drat!” she hissed.
The elves inspected the frying pan and eventually gave up tracking. Whatever they decided had happened wasn’t enough to try to track her, which she was thankful for. When she was sure they were gone, she flopped down on the ground, sulking.
She had hidden from her allies. Suddenly she found herself too tired and hungry and sore to really care. Worse, the elves had her frying pan which means she would have to try to get it back. And without explaining why it was left there. Kynta wasn’t the best at lying, at times, and trying to deceive elves rarely ever worked. She had once tried to trick not only Melannuial, but Isilrien and Calnarya as well. It hadn’t ended in the hobbit’s favor.
“You really don’t need to hunt for me,” a voice said behind her.
Kynta jumped and a scream was already out of her throat before she slapped her hand over her mouth. Tayrnak growled at her. “Great job, if you really want them to find me,” he said.
“No…I mean…sorry! But you startled me!”
“I’m a warg. We are very good at not being seen if we wish.”
Kynta glared at him, then looked him over. Without a second thought, she placed her hands on his forehead. He growled and shook her touch away. “What,” she snapped, her voice dropping to a near whisper just in case the elven scouts had heard her. “When I left you were near dying. Don’t tell me you have some miracle potion to cure infections in some invisible bag or something.” She was standing now, facing him with her hands on her hips.
Tayrnak snorted but refused to tell her that he had, in fact, drank her potion after she left. By the time the two elves had shown up he had had enough strength to sneak away. Only the smell of fresh meat that he didn’t have to chase down on his injured leg had kept him from killing the elves. When she continued to glare he snorted and grabbed the two rabbits as an excuse not to talk. As he walked off down the hill with a limp as he tried to put as little weight as possible on his injury, Kynta followed still convinced he had drank her potion before the elves showed up.
After all, when they had picked it up it had been empty. She smirked but allowed herself a silent triumph. Even injured she figured it would be a bad idea to make him mad at her. They moved farther away from Tirith Rhaw and found a new place to let him rest. “Don’t you Angmar people have a place up here, too? Like we have Glân Vraig. A place you guys still can’t get into,” Kynta asked as he dropped to the ground and began to rip apart his meal. She turned away and tried to tune out the sound of his bad table manners.
“We do,” he said. “Gramsfoot.” When she didn’t seem to continue he blinked at her. “Why do you ask.”
“If I get you to Gramsfoot will you be able to get some kind of help for your foot.”
“Probably not,” he said, resuming his eating.
“Well, you could rest, right? It would be better than being out here. If those elves had seen you…”
Tayrnak chuckled. “If they had seen me, their blood would have stained the ground next to mine.” He looked at her hard. “Just because I’ve told you I won’t kill you – yet – doesn’t mean there isn’t another warg out here that wouldn’t tear you to pieces. Just like if any of your friends find me they won’t hesitate to kill me. Keep that in mind, hobbit. I’m only keeping you alive because I have to.”
Kynta snorted, acting as if she dismissed his warning, but inside she felt a flutter of fear that at any moment he would kill her if he wanted. She sighed. Well, she was already knee-deep in this mess, she might as well see it through. “I’m going to sleep. When I wake up, if you’re still here, we’re going to Gramsfoot. Or as close to it as I dare. Then I better go back before my friends send a search party out for me.” Not that they knew where she went, Kynta told herself as she curled up and finally slept, if lightly.
No one sleeps soundly next to a warg, after all.
When she woke up, it was almost dark but the rain clouds were gone and a bright sunset painted the sky. Tayrnak was there, head on his paws staring at her. “I would have you know,” Kynta said as she stood up and stretched, “that I can, and will, put up a fight if you break the truce.”
“We don’t have a truce,” Tayrnak said.
“Yes we do,” she reminded him. “You said you wouldn’t bite me if I helped you out of the trap.”
“I’m out of the trap.”
Kynta stared at him, blinking a moment before her hand went to her dagger. But he didn’t move and kept watching her. “Are we going now, hobbit? I’m getting hungry again, my foot hurts, and it’s getting dark.”
“I would think you like the dark,” she muttered, slowly approaching him. “I’m going to check your foot before we go.”
“I love the dark,” was all he said while she undid the bandages and checked his injury in the last of the sun’s light. “Hmm…You smell good enought to…”
Kynta smacked his muzzle. “Oh, shut up.”
Before she could react, he had her pinned to the ground, his good paw holding her down and his fangs bared in her face. “Don’t hit me again, hobbit.”
“I have a name!” she cried, glaring up at him.
He snorted. “Yes. You do. It’s dinner if you keep treating me like your pet.”
“Fine,” Kynta pouted. “I won’t hit you again if you don’t remind me that you want to eat me. Got it.”
He huffed, letting her up and sitting down. “Are you going to wrap it up again?”
“No,” she snapped. “I think you’ll be fine now. Fresh air is good for it, too. Just watch where you step and what you step in otherwise I’ll have to put more wound stuff on it. Now, lets go.”
“Hobbits don’t eat?”
She picked up her pack and started walking down the hill. “I’ll eat as I go.” After a few paces, she looked back at him. He hand’t moved. “Are you coming or not, warg?” she asked.
“Gramsfoot is North,” he said. “You’re going West..”
Her face turned crimson from embarrassment but she corrected her direction and he began to follow. Eventually, she fell behind and found herself scrambling to keep up even after her quick meal of elven waybread was finished. “I suppose I wouldn’t be able to ride you,” she said after a time. “Even with you limping I can’t keep up with you.”
“I don’t need an escort,” he said, not slowing down. “And no, you can’t ride me. That is the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard of.”
The hobbit snorted. “Orcs ride wargs.”
“Those are orcs. We happen to both serve the Dark Lord.”
“Yeah, well, you’re as big as my pony, Oreoh.”
“You name those things?”
“It’s a pony!” Kynta stated. “Of course we name it.”
Tayrnak rolled his eyes as he came to a stop over a cliff. Below him, a river cascaded into the river below. Without waiting for the hobbit, he began to make his way slowly down the edge as he had always done. Except he forgot about his injured foot and slipped. “Tayrnak!” Kynta cried as the warg fell with a yelp to the rocks below. “You idiot!” she snapped. “You have an injured foot!”
The warg glared up at her from where he fell. His foot was throbbing with pain again and his body was protesting from the fall. He stood and shook himself. The skittering of rocks alerted him to the hobbit making her way down. She landed next to him, glaring. “Way to go, you ripped it open again. It was healing very nicely, too.”
“So it will take longer.”
“Idiot,” Kynta muttered as she put her bag down and dug through it. “You seriously think you’re invincible or something, don’t you.”
Tayrnak didn’t reply. They finished the rest of the slide down the rocks onto a small piece of shoreline next to the cliff. Here, Kynta wrapped his leg then called for something to eat. “Do you want me to hunt for you again?”
“Fine, starve,” she said, flipping open some lembas bread. For an elf, Kynta had to admit that Isillien was a pretty good cook.
“I won’t starve. I’ve gone for days without eating. I never asked you to hunt for me anyway.”
Kynta glowered at him. “As far as I am concerned, it was either me or the rabbits and I personally preferred the rabbits.”
The warg chuckled as he lay down by the river bank. “Wise reasoning.” Suddenly, his head shot up. “Get behind me.” When she didn’t move he growled, “Now.”
“Get behind me. I won’t tell you again.”
She grabbed her pack and ducked behind the bulk of the warg just as two orcs came down to the riverbank. They didn’t seem to see Tayrnak, or care that he was there. After dumping the contents of some large vials into the river, they made to leave. Tayrnak growled when she tried to move. The orcs were almost out of sight when they were attacked by a burglar and several others. “I think you need to hide now,” Kynta whispered to the warg as the orcs, despite their desperate fight, were overcome. Both hobbit and warg moved to hide behind the rocks.
Kynta peeked around the rocks to watch as the burglar finished pouring in the antidote to the poison that the orcs had released. Then, his small party mounted their horses and left. “All clear,” she said rather cheerfully to Tayrnak. “But I think we need to keep moving.”
“You do realize that if anyone from Gramsfoot attacks us,I’m going to have to pretend not to know you.”
“Heartwarming,” Kynta said absentmindedly. “Hope you can swim. This current looks pretty strong.”
Tayrnak jumped in and began to ford the river like usual. Kynta followed him. They made it across the river and carefully climbed the hill. Despite his injury, Tayrnak was able to move stealthily about. He lead the hobbit north toward Arador’s End and found a small grove of trees to rest in. He lay down and Kynta fell into a heap next to him. “Stupid elves,” she muttered. “They just had to take my frying pan…”
“Good,” the warg muttered. He wanted to rip the bandages off as his wound was itching from the swim, but decided to wait till the hobbit was sleeping so he lay down while she, yet again, pulled out another loaf of bread. “You eat too much,” he said. Kynta didn’t reply because she was already looking sleepy. Much to his relief, she was asleep not long after her last bite.
It was late afternoon when she woke up. Tayrnak had managed to rip his bandage off and she checked the wound. “No more rock-sliding adventures,” she told him. “You’ll just make it worse again.” He didn’t reply, nor did he wait for her to eat before he set off to Gramsfoot. She ate on the way and kept up with him better this day over the rolling hills. Evening was falling when they arrived near Lugazag. The banners of Angmar flew proudly above the old keep while several trolls patrolled the outskirts. Kynta watched from a safe distance on the hill, almost hoping to see more of the epic war that Melannuial had told her about. By the time night fell, Lugazag was far behind. They entered a desolate, wind-torn landscape that gave Kynta the shivers.
“Since you so stubbornly wanted to go this far,” Tayrnak said, “I advise that you start heading back now.”
“But I want to…” the hobbit started to say when his growl cut her off and she sighed in defeat. “Fine…” Melannuial’s probably going to kill me anyway, she thought. “Just…don’t get caught in any more traps or anything…”
“You make it sound like I wanted to get caught in the first place.” She glared at him until he finally nodded. “Alright, I’ll be more careful about the traps.”
“Thank you,” she said before kneeling to give his foot one last inspection. “Well, it should heal just fine…”
Tayrnak sighed, pushing her roughly with his wet nose. “Go home, hobbit, before I eat you.” He was startled when she gave him a quick hug but she was soon making her way back South. The warg turned and headed toward Gramsfoot where he knew that, despite what he told the hobbit in the beginning, he would be able to get some rest and perhaps find a defiler that could help.