Visitors Come to Court

Writing is a passion many people experience after reading Tolkien's works. Come here to discuss and share your experiences with writing.

Postby Edmund the Scholar » Wed May 02, 2007 6:50 am

Valandil3430 wrote:Thank you Edmund! :) I REALLY need to shift some time and get around to finishing it up. I like it myself, and badly want to finish it.

I have similar issues. What I do is try not to think about it as "time." I think about it as fifteen minutes per day...which seems much more manageable. Trying to find an entire afternoon or morning to write never works for me… or my “writing days” are so far apart that I lose the momentum that I build up.

I sit down and write for at least fifteen minutes rain or shine. It is kind of like working out. Before too long, the paragraphs become pages and pages become chapters.

At any rate… good luck. You are a skilled writer. Create your world and let others enjoy it. :wink:
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Postby Valandil3430 » Sat Dec 29, 2007 5:57 am

Well... I finally HAVE finished it! :) I also did some proof-reading and editing, so I hope nobody minds if I just go ahead and repost the whole thing...
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Postby Valandil3430 » Sat Dec 29, 2007 6:01 am

Visitors Come to Court

Chapter 1 – Strangers on the Road

They moved as one – horse and man, for the rider had given his mount free rein to make its way down the slope, and he shifted easily from side-to-side, or leaned forward or back, to best keep his balance and help the animal as it made its way along – now picking through difficult places, now dashing forward through clear spots. The trees were not so dense here, but between them the ground was mostly choked with grasses and weeds – all now yellow or brown or gray, dead or dying in the late autumn, but still thick about them. The falling sun, when it pierced the clouds overhead, lit up the remnants of the leaves on the trees – but even those colors were muted, rather than dazzling. The air was filled with the brittle sounds of breaking stalks and the hard footfalls and heavy breaths of the horse.

The horse was a large-boned, dapple-gray stallion, and the mist of his breath in the crisp air mirrored the white of his mane and tail. The man was tall and slender and young. His hair was dark and his face intently focused on something ahead. The short javelin he held in his right hand left little doubt that he was a hunter, in pursuit of prey. His dress seemed unfit for the season though, for he wore no hood or cloak or other coat to keep off the cold air – only a coarse woolen tunic of deep blue, over light gray leggings and undershirt, together with brown riding boots. But the insignia borne upon his tunic was that of the royal house of Arthedain, for the rider was a son of that house and his name was Celepharn.

As he rode he watched and listened. Above the noise of his own mount, now and again he would hear his prey crashing through the undergrowth ahead. Or he might see a glimpse of it darting through an open spot. Even without those, the broken path clearly marked the trail, but it was good to know that they were still close. It had been a long chase, and he was weary, but he would not weary to the point of halting. He would have this beast!

Just ahead now, he saw it charge across a longer opening – an opening that was clear for a good distance ahead of him, and which stretched across his path from left to right as far as he could see. The Great Road! He had come all the way to the Great East-West Road and would soon cross it to the south, even as his prey now did. He dug his heels in tighter, strained forward and held his spear aloft. The great horse, almost as if reading his thoughts, broke into a full gallop as the ground leveled, heedless of the branches and briars that slapped against him.

They were in the clearing now… through a small stream, breaking the thin ice which had formed on the top, then up a slight slope and over a low wall onto the road itself. In moments they would be across it, down the other side and into the thicket again. As he crested the road, the rider saw his prey in full view, just before it reached the undergrowth beyond, and marked where it went in.

But wait! What was that? Still on the road, Celepharn pulled back hard on the reins. “WHOA Donner!” he forced from his mouth. The horse, checked in mid-stride, first landed hard on its forelegs, then spun around and reared up before he could regain his control, so great had been his mount’s own desire to continue this chase – and so great its shock to have it abruptly broken off.

Celepharn turned his steed to face what had drawn his notice. Less than half a furlong away, to the right of his former direction, to the west, were three travelers. Travelers were rare these days, especially along this stretch of road and in this season. The Hunt was great Sport and the Catch would bring great eating, but travelers, here and now, might be a matter of the Realm.

The travelers had seen him, of course, for how could they not notice first a great wild boar and then a mounted man pass so closely in front of them. They were walking, but each led a horse of his own. They had stopped at his passing, but as he now stood facing them, they resumed their approach. They were dressed alike, in gray cloaks and hoods, but seemed different from one another – at least the one in the middle did not quite match his companions. He was shorter than they, and seemed a little bit older and he walked with a staff. Their faces were in the shadow of their hoods, as the sun was behind them, but the middle one had a beard while the two tall ones had clean faces. Celepharn waited until they were close enough to speak easily, that he might also catch his breath and gather his wits about him before speaking.

“Halt, my good travelers. Whither are you now bound?”

The three stopped and looked first at Celepharn, then slowly from one to another, as if wondering who should speak for them. Celepharn tried to study their faces but could see little. The one to his left kept his demeanor steady and calm, the middle one seemed bewildered and the one on his right struggled to suppress a grin – were they up to some mischief, which this one could not contain?

Finally the middle one spoke up, smiling weakly as he did so; “Why – we are simply going about, from place to place… and seeking somewhere to lay our heads each evening. We did not expect to see such a… powerful rider… as yourself, in… these parts.”

These words pricked Celepharn, for he was proud of his horsemanship and this fellow was evidently making a merry joke with his friends of the sudden wheeling about, here on the road. For in truth, Celepharn had felt in danger of falling when Donner had spun as he did.

“I can ride better than any man in all the kingdom of Arthedain!” he boasted. “What is more, I can run faster, swim farther and track more surely than any other, and only my father can surpass me at wrestling or with the sword!” He drew himself up as he spoke these words.

“Impressive indeed!” came the reply from the same who had spoken first. “But who… are you, to give us challenge and ask our… purpose? And who is this father, who alone can best you?”

“I am Celepharn, eldest son of my father Mallor – and he is eldest son and Heir to King Beleg of Arthedain, which land you now cross.”

“Oh… is it fit then, for a future king to ride alone? And to… declare himself so openly to those he knows not?”

Celepharn sat silent for a moment. This was not going well. He had managed to learn no more of this threesome, yet had told too much of himself. If they desired to make mischief, after all, what better chance than on a lonely stretch of road, with a three-to-one advantage on a son of Arthedain? Were they of Cardolan, and did they mean to start trouble with his grandfather’s realm, as well as with Rhudaur? If they meant to make trouble, he had only one javelin – and his eket at his side, a short sword that was fine for finishing off any wounded prey, but hardly what he would choose to do battle with against three. He saw that the tall ones wore long swords of their own, beneath their cloaks – and that they had unstrung bows on their horses. Trouble might come, and he would be ready for it, but best to try to forestall it.

“It was needful that you know of my right to ask that which I ask. Tell me now… whither are you bound? And who are you?”

The older man laughed softly, and for a moment fear began to creep over Celepharn’s heart. He had begun to think the man witless, but wondered now if this was feigned to cover something more sinister. “Who … me? I am but a lonely pilgrim, seeking the warmth of fire and friends. These companions I have found who promise to take me to Imladris… Rivendell, it is also called. Do you know of the place?”

At the mention of Imladris, Celepharn looked to the speaker’s companions and perceived at last that those two were Elves, though the one speaking clearly was not. Still, all fear left him, and his heart leapt within him, for the Elves were long friends of his kingdom and his house.

“Imladris? Why yes, I know it… Pilgrim. I have been there before. Master Elrond there is exceeding wise, and what’s more, the tales told of the loveliness of his daughter are true, for I have met and spoken with her myself… even the Elves say that her glory is like that of Luthien of old… Yet Luthien chose Beren for herself in times of old, and of Beren am I descended…”

At this the Elf on his right broke out into a merry laugh. He pulled back his hood to show his face. Celepharn’s eyes grew wide with something akin to horror and then he blushed brightly. His mouth knotted up, but then he twisted it into a smile of his own, “Elrohir… you villain! To stand thus quietly and give me no sign… you let my tongue speak from folly and pride! And this other with you…” he said, indicating the Elf on the left, “your brother Elladan, I presume?”

Elrohir replied, no longer laughing, but with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye, “No, Elladan is away on another errand. This is a Lord of our House named Glorfindel. And have no shame in regards to your words, for so are the young men among your people inclined to speak, and we delight in seeing you follow your own nature. Although, when you are old and king, you will learn to keep your tongue in better check, as have all your fathers before you, although they had in their youth spoken even as you do now.”

“As for my sister…” Elrohir drew closer and spoke more softly and more gravely, “I cannot offer you much hope, my friend, though I will not repeat your words to her, nor my father, nor even my brother, though they may guess your mind on it, as I had already done long ago. Yet these things come, and we Elves have learned not to take to heart the affections that you, our brothers, have for us at times. You would not be the first, among Men, to turn his heart to my sister. Yet each in his time, when the fruitlessness of his desire becomes clear, turns to one from among his own people… and all have become happy this way, when all is done.”

The pilgrim had hardly seemed to pay attention to the words between Celepharn and Elrohir, for he was gazing all about, as if trying to remember something. He had muttered only half-aloud, “Well now, something seems familiar about this place… as if something important will happen here. Only… where are the… people?”

Celepharn, more than grateful for the interruption, answered him, even though he had spoken as if to himself, “Our people still have a few farms here, though not so many as in times past, for here was before grown much of the food for the tables of the great city of Annuminas, which is almost 40 leagues due north of here. Most who dwelt herein have removed themselves closer to Fornost, or near the Crossroads by Bree.”

The pilgrim paused reflectively and added, “Well then, I should like to see your city of Annuminas if I may.”

At this Celepharn first looked puzzled and then laughed, “But Annuminas has been abandoned for well over one hundred years now! Her people were divided and scattered, then dwindled, until well nigh all that remained removed to Fornost. It was then that this place where we now stand began to grow wild once more.”

“Annuminas… abandoned?” said the pilgrim sadly, “Could you be so kind as to tell me, young man, the date as folk hereabout reckon it?”

“Certainly,” said Celepharn, surprised once more. “Tomorrow I am out of Fornost for a fortnight, so that today is the 28th day of Hithui, or November, as some men call the month, of the year 1004.”

“And the Heirs of Elendil who ruled at Annuminas… what is become of them?” asked the pilgrim, almost apprehensively.

Celepharn smiled slightly. “My grandfather is accounted the Heir of Elendil, for he is the tenth in the line after Isildur. I myself am of that line.”

The pilgrim gazed more closely at Celepharn and looked him up and down. “Yes… you would be now, wouldn’t you? You are a tall one I should say!”

“When I was a child, my mother thought that I should be as tall as Elendil, but it is not so, for it is said that he was nigh a half ranga over two, while I am just a bit more than a quarter-ranga above that mark.”

“But the House of Elendil is known for more than it’s height. The winter cold is growing and though the snows are late this year, they will not be missed much longer. It is a hard time to be on the road with a long journey. I bid you come to Fornost and enjoy the hospitality that Elendil’s descendants still share with others. You can then go on to Imladris when spring melts the coming winter snows.”

“Snow…?” said the Pilgrim, his mind seeming to drift.

The three companions then looked at one another as if deciding whether to accept. Celepharn wondered if they would come, for it was off their path by several days, and might delay them from their destination for three months or more. He even wondered why he had invited them, for it had been only a sudden impulse. But he had begun to warm to this strange pilgrim, and indeed wished to spend more time with him. And it was always good to see Elrohir.

“We accept,” said the pilgrim. “Now – would you kindly show us the way?”

Celepharn’s face became more serious. “I cannot take you myself, for I must return to my hunting party.” He looked once more to the south of the road, where he had last seen his former prey. “I shall go to them now, for the Black Boar has eluded me again.”

“Elrohir has been to Fornost before, I think, though not in my days. Nonetheless, continue on this road to the east another three days easy ride to the crossroads town of Bree. You will first pass the great Stonebows Bridge over Baranduin, which you will know, about 12 or 15 leagues east, I should say. Until then, you are in Arthedain, but from Stonebows to Bree, Arthedain is upon your left and the kingdom of Cardolan upon your right. Cardolan holds the town of Stonebows upon the east bank, but we have a small outpost of Arthedain on the hither side.”

“From Bree, another three or four days’ easy ride north will bring you to the very gates of Fornost, where the North-South Road ends. Tarry not, for the winter will come on swiftly now. I will go ahead by another way and make preparations for your arrival. For my hunting party, if they remain where I left them, are four or five leagues north of us, and off the better roads for travel.”

“Are your people at war with this… Cardolan?” asked the pilgrim.

“Not at war, but distrustful. Cardolan is at open war with Rhudaur and both are our sister kingdoms, ruled by cousins of my grandfather. But Cardolan is ever fearful that we will attack her. Although this fear is false, the very apprehension may mask their own desire in regard to us. Nonetheless, after Bree, you will be safely in Arthedain once more. And for now, Cardolan keeps the Peace of Amlaith and does not trouble wayfarers on the road. You may safely pass the night at any way station of either kingdom, but say not to those of Cardolan that you make for Fornost, lest you provoke suspicion.”

“Now – I have not enough light left to see me all the way back to my companions, yet perhaps I can find their campfire ere the dusk is too long departed. I must be away. We shall expect you at Fornost then. In a week.”

At that the three companions said their farewells and parted company with the young man. He turned and his horse cantered swiftly northward, back the way from which they had come, while the three mounted their horses and rode slowly eastward, in the same direction they had been going.
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Postby Valandil3430 » Sat Dec 29, 2007 6:06 am

Visitors Come to Court

Chapter 2 – The Watchman at the Gate

The three travelers rode northward now, through a blinding world of white, for the winter snows had arrived. They bent their heads to turn their faces from the wind as their horses plodded along. They saw before them what must be the city and fortress of Fornost, although the blowing storm obscured the view. There was a plateau, said to be 60 rangar high, upon which the main part of the city was built. To the right, and a little behind, the plateau stepped up another 30 rangar, and it was in this quarter that the royal family of Arthedain made its abode, along with the other principal nobles of the realm. And from that upper plateau rose a tower, another 60 rangar in height, standing fully 150 rangar (about 475 feet / 145 meters) above the plain below.

On the south point of the main plateau was set a gate tower of stone, carved from that very face of stone and dressed smooth, for the full height of the plateau. The gate itself stood 20 rangar high, and only a fourth as wide, and above the gate were two tiers of four tall window slits. The road by which they approached now went due north, straight and true for the gate of the city. They saw that another road went nearly due west from a crossroads just one furlong in front of the city gate, for they could see a fire kept burning at those crossroads, with a single guard attending it, bundled in heavy garments against the cold. As they drew nearer, but still almost two furlongs away, he rose to await them.

“Here is another a tall one,” said the Pilgrim.

“It is Celepharn himself,” replied Elrohir.

And it was Celepharn indeed. He was dressed much more suitably to the weather this time, topped off by a heavy cloak and hood of deep dark blue, which he pulled close against himself. And over all was a great white blanket of fur – the skin of a bear rumored only to dwell along the north coasts, a great distance away. He stood close to the fire, and at his back was a small tent. Soon they were upon him and he spoke to them first.

“Greetings, road-weary,” he began. “You are over-long in coming, for we first looked for you a week past.”

“Yes we are,” replied Elrohir. “For we were detained – first by the desire of others and then by our own desire. But pray tell, does the King now have his own offspring serve as his guards and watchmen?”

“My grandfather the King is displeased with me, and I am sorry to say, it involves you, my guests.”

“Oh?” said the Pilgrim. “Why is this so?”

“It all concerns the Black Boar.” Answered Celepharn, and then he set himself to tell his tale.

“The Black Boar is a great beast – large as a horse – and long has it troubled our farmers and eluded our huntsmen. One month ago we received word at Fornost that it was spotted in those lands south of Annuminas, our old city. I was newly returned from my long sojourn to the far north, and I vowed to my grandfather the King, that I would serve him up the bacon from the Black Boar at his Yuletide feast. Then I gathered what companions I could and we set off on our pursuit.”

“Then one morning as we arose, the very same beast sprang into our camp. He wounded two of my companions and killed three of our hounds. I armed myself as quick as I could and rode toward him, but he fled before me. Swift he was, and untiring, but as relentless was I in my pursuit. Before it was done, my lone companion who had likewise armed himself, and even the remaining dogs, all dropped out of the chase. And then it was I alone who pursued him.”

“It was on that day when I met you, and our meeting broke off my hunt. I returned to my party and found them camped where I had left them, nursing the wounded and warming themselves at the fire. The next day we broke camp and returned to this city, my home of Fornost.” Celepharn swept his arm back behind himself as he said so.

“When I reported myself to the King, he was displeased with me, though I did not mention that two of you were from Elrond’s house – or even that they were Elves. In his anger he scolded me for turning aside to speak with vagabond strangers and inviting them home, while leaving my oath to him unfulfilled. He ever was fond of his bacon, and ham and roast pork. So he commanded me to keep watch for you out here, until you arrived. That was 9 days ago, on the 3rd of Girithron. And I had begun to fear that you would not come and that I would spend the Yule out here in this tent.”

“And you still would not tell him that one of us was I, his old friend?” asked Elrohir.

“No…” replied Celepharn, with a slight smile. “I suppose I became angry with him myself. Now tell me though… what has delayed you for so long?”

“Here then is our tale,” began Elrohir. “We rode just a bit further before making our own camp on the afternoon we met, and the following day, rode as far as the Baranduin, but did not cross it, staying instead at the inn on the west shore. The next morning we crossed Stonebows Bridge, and were greeted by a delegation from the Thane of Stonebows, who would speak with us. So we met with him for most of that day, until he finally decided to send us along, with an escort, to a delegation of the people of Cardolan, under old King Tarennor himself – a first cousin to your own grandfather, King Beleg. He kept us there as his houseguests amid much merriment for a few days, and we,” Elrohir paused and looked significantly at the Pilgrim, “were loath to leave.”

“Finally he sent us off, about the time we might have first arrived here, had we not been detained. But when we reached the crossroads town of Bree,” again Elrohir glanced at the Pilgrim, “we stayed there for three full days as well, departing on the fourth morning. And that was four days ago, for we made slow going with the oncoming snow and winter winds hindering our horses.”

The Pilgrim smiled and his eyes twinkled. “Elrohir hints aright that I was the chief source of the delays, and for that I beg your pardon. I am eager to meet all I may and to learn their customs. Why, that was the very reason I accepted your kind invitation to see this wonderful stronghold and city. I did not imagine that our delay would inconvenience you so.” And at this last, his smile vanished and his face became sincere, and he bowed his head as much as a man his age could do while seated on horseback.

Celepharn nodded his acknowledgement. “Truly you could not have expected this outcome, but you do not know my grandfather – and even you, Elrohir, have not seen him of late. But you were detained by those of Cardolan? That is a grave matter indeed.”

“Well… not quite detained,” said the Pilgrim, “although they certainly wished for us to stay that they might satisfy themselves in regard to our purpose. If we had not been agreeable, perhaps they would have pressed the issue, but as it was, agreeable we were.”

“Then…” said Celepharn, pausing as if thinking, “we must explain your delay to my grandfather the King, but let us not dwell overlong on where you were – especially your visit to King Tarennor. For his father was the chief player in the division of these kingdoms, and that is the source of my grandfather’s great bitterness.” As he spoke, he began to knock the snow off of his tent and swiftly disassemble it.

“Truly?” asked Elrohir. “It seemed that Amlaith bore it well enough, although he certainly kept to himself afterwards.”

“Yes, that is what men tell me.” Answered Celepharn. “But the loss was harder to bear for the son than the father. My grandfather, as a young man, hardened his heart against all who had rebelled against his own father, branding them deserters and traitors. He sends no word to either of his cousins who rule Cardolan and Rhudaur. And at the rare times as they send word to him, he shuns the messages himself and gives them to his counselors, chief of whom is my father, asking that they only advise him of any import to the Kingdom that the messages may bear.”

“But now,” continued Celepharn, turning to gather what few items he had about himself before emptying the contents of a small kettle into the low fire and kicking snow onto the coals, “with your arrival, my assigned task has been completed and I may return to my grandfather’s palace. Come.”

And with that he turned, carrying his equipment in a single bundle beneath his arm and walking toward the city. The gate opened before him and the three riders followed him through.
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Postby Valandil3430 » Sat Dec 29, 2007 6:08 am

Visitors Come to Court

Chapter 3 – At the King’s Table

Once through the gate, they came into a tall, narrow chamber, lighted by a shaft cut through the rock overhead. Beyond this the path ramped up slightly, until it came to another level chamber, with another light shaft above it. On up again went the passage through the rock, until they emerged again into daylight (and wind and snowfall), fairly in the middle of the lower plateau. They saw guards of the city now, two squads of four men each, who had been alerted to their coming, but knowing who came, stood in orderly array on either side of their path as they came forth from the tunnel.

The guards wore the same dark blue as Celepharn adorned with a similar emblem, though lesser in size than that the trio had seen on him at their first meeting. This was apparently the royal sign of this kingdom. The guards were tall men, but not so tall as Celepharn - each young and fit, and each armed with spear, shield and sword.

Just beyond the guards was an open square, about which ran a circular path. They had gone straight north through the tunnel’s passage and now turned sharply to the right, going eastward on the circular path. After a quarter circle, they took the road which led straight east, toward a cleft in the upper plateau, in which they now saw that there was a path up into that upper tier.

The city about them was filled with two and three story buildings, most of them close together, some with shops of different kinds at the ground level and living quarters above. In most cases, the highest floor was a half floor, the southern wall rising full height, with upper windows to allow in the light that passed over the house of their southern neighbor, and the roof sloping down to the north, allowing light to reach the house of their northern neighbor. Most were of stone, but some buildings were built partly, or entirely of wood.

Few people were about at this time, for winter was coming on in full, and it was cold, and the daylight was beginning to fade. Wisps of smoke came from most of the chimneys, as the occupants gathered at the fire to keep warm or to prepare their evening meal. These chimneys were usually built up along the taller southern sides of the structures, to reach higher and to soak up into the stone what warmth they could gather from the daytime sun.

They passed the open gate of a guardhouse at the foot of the next ramp, and one more gatehouse after they had climbed it. Inside this last guardhouse they turned to their left and the upper plateau of Fornost opened before them.

In the center was another square, or courtyard, and just beyond it, and to the left and right, were three large structures. The one directly before them was symmetrical about the courtyard and was the most impressive of the three. It was the palace of the Ruling House of Arthedain. Built of stone, it stood three stories tall below its roof, and the roof inclined steeply up from both sides, adding nearly as much height as the three stories below, 24 rangar (76 feet) to the peak. The main entrance at one end faced south onto the square and two wings of equal length stretched east and west.

The building to their left was not quite so tall nor so impressive, but it was nearly as large and certainly older. It looked as though it had gone through many additions, most of them done rather irregularly. This was the long home of the Princely House of Fornost, those who had succored King Amlaith the eldest son of Earendur at the time of Arnor’s division. For Amlaith’s wife was of that house, and her father and brothers had stood firmly by him at his great hour of need.

On either side, facing the courtyard more or less from southeast and southwest, two rows deep, stood the city estates of other nobles of the Realm – the greater ones to the inside and the lesser to the outside. But it was toward the third building on the courtyard itself, the one on the right, that Celepharn led them now. This was the Great Hall of Fornost, and it was here that people gathered together when the weather prohibited their meeting for assemblies out-of-doors. It was also where the king and his household gathered for their meals, and where he preferred to receive guests at mealtime.

The Great Hall was almost entirely one large room. It was two stories high to the springing of the roof, and its roof did not incline so steeply as that of the palace, but it was wide, spanned across by great timber trusses. On its west side two doors opened onto the courtyard at quarter points. Inside there was a great fireplace at each end and an open fire pit in the center. Balconies ran along the east and west sides, and passages connected it to the palace and to various ancillary buildings behind it, but also to the Tower of Fornost, which was behind it, and straight east from the Palace.

They made for the southern door, for it was the nearest. There they were met by a half dozen servants, one of whom took the bundle of Celepharn’s tent, which he had insisted on carrying himself the entire way, another took the great white fur robe and thick mittens, which Celepharn removed and handed to him. Other servants took charge of the three horses while their riders dismounted, then led them away to stables behind the Great Hall.

Once inside they walked through a small vestibule and then into the hall itself, where Celepharn led them to a long table before the fireplace at the far end. There they sat and began to warm themselves, Celepharn from his vigil, and his guests from their journey. Celepharn removed his great blue cloak, burgundy hat and scarf, then a long vest of olive green and long, brown outer tunic. Below this was the familiar blue tunic and gray undergarments they had seen him in at their first meeting. He took off his fingerless gloves and his boots, setting these last upon the hearth, open ends toward the fire. Warm robes and slippers were brought for him and his guests, who had removed their cloaks and their boots as well. Then they sat together on a long bench, resting their backs on the table and their feet on the great hearth. A serving girl brought them each a mug of hot tea.

The hall was mostly deserted on their arrival, and for the first hour as they warmed themselves, the few servants who passed through kept to the far side. After that, a bustle of activity began steadily to grow, as preparations were made for the evening meal. By this time, the light from the high windows had shifted to the east wall as the sun descended toward the horizon outside. “Those of us in training eat two meals in winter, for the days are shorter, the food scarcer and the duty lighter.” Explained Celepharn. “In summer we also eat at mid-day, but in winter only at first light and at sunset.”

The table was set with simple fare; small baskets of coarse bread, fresh and warm, clay jars of butter and cheese, and a great pot of stew, with a pile of bowls about it. These were also placed on other tables in the hall – one row each down the east and west sides. Pitchers of drink, and sturdy mugs were set forth.

Celepharn and his companions had turned from the fire and stood to wait, the Pilgrim leaning on the staff he had kept with him. While the food was still coming out, a few nobles and officials and their ladies and children began to appear and stand near their appointed places. One official came to the small party and spoke in hushed tones with Celepharn, before calling servants to quickly re-arrange the benches at the head table, and to place two smaller tables crossways at each end. Then a few great, high-backed chairs were brought forth – the greatest placed at the center of the head table, with three others on each side. Celepharn stood by the smaller table on one side, while the three travelers were directed to the other.

Then from the half-level balcony to the left of the fireplace, a trumpet blew two notes, one low and one high. All became silent and turned their attention. Three couples descended a stone stair and approached the high-backed chairs. First came the Prince of Fornost and his wife, and they took the two chairs furthest to the right. They were a stately elder pair, his hair and beard shot with black and white, and his mantle and tunic were brown. Her hair now an even grey and she was arrayed in garments of dark purple. Next came Mallor, Heir to the Kingdom of Arthedain, and his wife, tall and slender, she still retained the beauty of youth, for she was young as the Dunedain account age. Mallor and his wife both wore blue, his garments darker and marked out with emblems of his rank, hers more simple, yet elegant. Mallor took the seat next to the greatest on the left side, or to the right of that seat, and his wife sat beside him. Then came King Beleg and his Queen, advancing slowly toward the remaining seats in the middle. The Queen advanced slowly but gracefully, her carriage straight and proud, and her own beauty had not faded with the years, but had been transformed. Her hair was as white as the snow outside, and she and her King wore garments of white and silver, covered with robes of crimson red.

Beleg and Mallor were like Celepharn in form, but both appeared far more stern and, like Fornost’s Prince, both wore beards, while Celepharn was clean-shaven. Mallor’s hair and short beard were black, but flecked with gray. Beleg’s hair and beard were white, for he was nearing 200 years of age. As he walked, with an attendant on each side, his eyes darted about the room even as his head remained fixed. Suddenly those eyes lit up and a great smile came unexpectedly to his face. He shook off his attendants and went around to the smaller table at the far end, straight toward one of Celepharn’s three guests.

“Elrohir!” he said with joy, as the two locked arms in greeting. “It has been many, many years. How is your… family?”

Elrohir smiled in return. “Greetings King Beleg! Both my father and mother are well, and so is my brother Elladan. My sister also is quite well. I see that your own family grows. Your grandson Celepharn is known to me now from his travels. And it is good to come into your home this day, for you were not yet King when last we met.”

“Yes – it has been long indeed! I have been King here for nearly threescore years. Wait now… Celepharn! Are these indeed the three travelers you met while out a-hunting? You failed to tell me that they were fair folk… least of all that among them was a dear companion of my youth!”

Celepharn came forward when addressed and bowed his head before his grandfather. “King Beleg, you commanded me to be silent and obey you before I could say so.”

“Yes, well… never mind then.” The King answered gruffly. And then returning to look at Elrohir, “My, my… you have not changed at all! Who now are your companions?”

“This is a lord in my father’s house, named Glorfindel,” began Elrohir, as Glorfindel inclined his head slightly, his face expressionless.

Beleg looked intently into his face, “Yes… I believe I have seen you there before – but that was when my own grandfather was King – and over all Arnor, not only Arthedain. Who then is this other?” he asked, turning his attention to the Pilgrim. “No Elf after all, is he?”

“A simple pilgrim for whom I was sent, to bring unto my father’s home. I was bringing him thither when your grandson graciously invited us to stay here at Fornost through the winter.”

“Hmmph!” replied Beleg, looking now intently into the Pilgrim’s face. “Just so you are no deserter or traitor, you are welcome at my table!

His guest met his gaze, first with gravity, but then with a slight smile as he answered, “Never yet have I turned from my duty, nor do I ever intend that I shall.”

“So – you are not one of those who rebelled against my father? Who helped to splinter his land asunder? You could be of the right age, if you have the life of the Dunedain.”

“I am not of the Dunedain, and my age is not a certain thing. But I do make the claim to be, what you would call… Faithful.”

“Very well then,” said the King, seemingly satisfied as he turned back toward his chair and appeared once more less energetic, calling his attendants back to assist him. “You may then share in my table, such as it is. Poor fare for a King’s table though, is it not?”

“Where I come from, it is the fellowship that makes a table rich or poor Your Majesty, and in that I judge already that I come to a great banquet feast.” Continued the Pilgrim.

The King now slowly lowered himself into his chair, and once he was seated, all others about the room seated themselves as well. Thus King Beleg now sat at the middle of the head table, and to his left were Queen Hiriluial, then the Prince of Fornost and next his wife. To the King’s right was Mallor, then his wife, Lady Tiriel, and into the seat on the far right slipped a lady in simple clothes, with a shawl over her head and shoulders. Celepharn was first on the crosswise table to the King’s right, and at the one to his left sat first the Pilgrim – his staff now leaning across his shoulder, then Elrohir, then Glorfindel.

“Perhaps,” replied the King. “But one cannot eat fellowship. And this table would be none the worse for a great roast pig, I judge.”

At that, Celepharn winced, but did not speak.

“And where you come from,” continued Beleg, reaching for a small loaf of bread and signaling for a bowl of stew, “how do they treat with a youngster who continually disobeys his rightful King and turns aside to his fancies?”

“Well…” said the stranger, speaking to the King as older men will speak of younger, “If it were in truth just his fancies, he need be trained to attend to his duties. But in some cases, a man turns aside from one task when he judges that a greater has arisen. At these times, the wise must weigh his decision and see if he has indeed chosen correctly. If not, he should be shown his error. Yet if he has chosen rightly, he ought to be commended for it.”

“Where then are you from?” asked the King, pausing from his meal and looking once more directly into the newcomer’s eyes.

“Oh,” laughed the old man, “I am from here and about – quite far away, really. Although of late I have been a guest in Lindon.”

“And more lately at Cardolan, you might say,” replied the King, returning his attention to his bowl. He paused again for a moment. “You remind me, almost, of some others who came to my table a few years ago. Older men, like yourself, traveling together and denying any connection to the division of our land. In fact… after only a short visit here, they were quite eager to get on to Rivendell – same place you’re making for. Curious that.”

“Your pardon, oh King,” interjected Celepharn. “When was this visit? I recall no such guests to your table.”

“Oh,” answered the King, sitting back in his chair, “it was while you were away up north, proving your worth, as some might say of you.” He briefly gave Celepharn a stern look, before growing reflective once more. “For he came at the very time we received word from Ciryandil, inviting us to Gondor to celebrate the one thousandth year since the fall of our great foe. Which I would fain not do – not without being High King over that land, as were my forefathers.” He looked once more on the Pilgrim. “The leader of that foursome, for four there were – oh how his eyes lit up at hearing that message. I should have thought he would go straightaway there himself.”

“Indeed he nearly did.” Said Elrohir. “For that very same group came indeed to my father’s home, staying only a short while, then asking aid in continuing on to Osgiliath. My father commanded Elladan lead them there, while I was sent to Cirdan, for we were told that one more would follow them to the Havens. So there I went, and waited, until he came.”

King Beleg listened intently to Elrohir, then slowly shifted his gaze to the Pilgrim. “Tell me more of Cardolan and Arthedain, if you would,” his guest inquired.

Just then a few roasts of fowl and coney were brought out and placed before them. The King waved back a servant who stepped up to carve some portions and gestured for the knife and fork himself. He pondered over the roast fowl before him before slowly beginning to slice into it.

“My forefathers, from Elendil, Isildur and Valandil, lived as Kings of all Arnor and High Kings over all the Dunedain. But as my grandfather descended into his final days, my father’s brothers began to work intrigues and to contest with my father for rulership of the land.” He began to slice more vigorously. “When at last my grandfather died, they had made their allegiances, and tore off for themselves a share of the Kingdom.” With that, his knife passed through the roast fowl with such force that it struck the platter below, severing off one side of the bird. Beleg stood at his work and began to cut with equal force into the other side. He continued, his voice quaking with rage, “So over my grandfather’s grave my uncles massed their armies for war with my father and with one another. But it was a war in which my father would have no part – nor would he command his own brothers slain, despite their great crimes!” And at that, the other side of the fowl was stricken from the remnant, and Beleg stood, his fork and knife aloft, his arms shaking with rage.

The Queen looked with concern up at her husband and Mallor stood up beside him, placing a hand upon his shoulder, then slowly removing knife and fork from his hands, turned them back over to the servant. At his prompting, Beleg returned to his seat once more but continued his tale, his voice still tense but now under control, “Yet while my father would not have them slain, I marred one of them – my uncle Caryontar. Yes, with a long shot indeed, as he rallied his forces to take the city of Annuminas. My shot threw them all into disarray, and placed me at great risk. I was only rescued by my cousin here,” he nodded toward the Prince of Fornost, “and some nobles of distant kin to us. I turned to see them slain, unable to give them aid.” He paused and looked toward his Queen, who averted her eyes downward. “But I have given aid where I may… to their sons and nephews, their sister and… widow.” Beleg reached his hand over to his wife and placed a finger below her chin, gently lifting it up. She took his hand in both of hers and turned to look long into his eyes.

Then Beleg turned back to his guests, “So where once there was Arnor, we now have Arthedain, and Cardolan and Rhudaur. A quarrelsome lot, the other two – but I leave them to their squabbles. What do they fight for but the chance to bow before Gondor, which now only dallies with them both – even while some guess that Tarannon himself was in secret party with my uncles in their rebellion against my father, for they both had given him aid in his wars to the south. And now my cousins reap their own turmoil out of what their fathers did. But all these things are widely known, are they not?”

“As for Gondor – once Arnor was divided and her rightful King made king only of a part of what his father held – for what reason would they acknowledge him as High King, who could not rule over his own brothers? Thus… the High Kingship has passed from our people. No… I would not go to see the grandeur of Gondor in these days!”

They ate in silence for a while, for nobody wished to speak when the King was in a foul mood – as he all too often was. Especially when the talk had turned to the breaking of Arnor. But after a bit, the Pilgrim turned up his head to thank the serving girl as she filled his mug with a dark, steaming drink. He took a sip, then sat back and watched as she continued on her way, noting how she glanced anon at Celepharn, and how she lingered while serving him, then kept her eyes upon him as she moved onward. He noted too how some of the young noblewomen at the tables, attendants of the Queen and of the Heir’s wife, might discreetly turn their eyes to him for a moment, then look away. Celepharn seemed unaware of all this, but the King was looking again right into the Pilgrim’s eyes when they returned toward him, and his eyes showed that he had observed what the Pilgrim had been watching.

The Pilgrim spoke once more with a twinkle in his eye, “King Beleg, it seems that not all here hold your grandson in as low regard as you do. Surely a young man like himself would find the favor of any maiden in the land.” Those around the table looked up, except for the young ladies who had been stealing glances before – for they each suddenly found something of great interest on their plate or lap and some blushed lightly. The serving girl finished her pouring and went briskly off to the lower tables.

“Does this amuse you?” asked the King. “Know, Pilgrim, that we Dunedain are not as the Men of Darkness nor even the Middle Men. In all these matters, we live as the Eldar, though perhaps it is no longer so in the Court of Cardolan?”

“Well enough then, but even the Eldar wed, as have you and your son. Celepharn, are you not of an age to wed the young maiden of your choosing?” he asked, looking at the younger man.

Celepharn seemed uncertain about whether to answer, but all turned their attention toward him, even the King.

“I have only seen twenty and five winters. Among lesser men, aye – many would already be husbands and fathers. But it is not so for us Dunedain. One of our ladies may wed at 30 or 40, but a young man at 50 or 60 – unless he is of royal or high noble birth, for then he must be at least 70. For a young man must make something of himself before he weds, and one of high birth has much to learn.”

“Seventy years you must be? Is it not difficult for a young man to wait so long?”

“It is…” and Celepharn glanced over at his parents and grandparents before continuing, “… an opportunity to learn self-control. One who would rule his people must learn to rule himself.”

“Well spoken!” said the King, and his mood seemed to lighten a little. “There might be hope for you still. Just learn to keep your promises – or not to make them. ‘Let the young men catch their deer, and the old men the geese and the children gather the berries, for I will bring down the bear and the boar’ you said. Well – none saw you bring down the bear whose coat you have, and the boar you have not brought back yet.” And then added as he turned back to the meal before him, “And forty-five or even fifty more years will do you good.” The Pilgrim looked intently around the table at each face. His eyes rested at last on Tiriel, mother of Celepharn, who kept glancing anxiously toward her son.

At just that moment a messenger strode hurriedly into the hall. He looked every bit a young nobleman, garbed in blue trimmed out with red, with the emblem of a rayed star on his left breast. He descending the same stairs by which the King and his entourage had arrived. He then made directly for the King, bent low beside him and spoke softly with King Beleg and Mallor. When he was finished he returned briskly by the way he had come.

The King turned his gaze back toward Celepharn. “Well… it seems you will have another chance to keep your promise. The Black Boar has returned, and troubles the farmers at the head waters of Baranduin. Will you bring him to me?”

Celepharn rose as if to go immediately, but the King waved him back to his seat. “No – finish your meal, for you shall need your strength. Leave before first light. If you stick to your task this time, perhaps we shall see you again at the Yule. The Black Boar would feed many guests.”

“Pardon me, Your Highness,” interjected the Pilgrim. “Might I… and my companions, join Celepharn in this hunt? After all, we are to blame for his turning aside when he had the beast in his reach.”

The King was surprised by this request, but appeared ready to refuse it, when the lady in the shawl spoke up suddenly, “He is the Elf with the Wand! Grant him what he asks.”

“But… he is no Elf!” said Mallor.

The King held up his hand. “My Seer has spoken, and I shall listen. He shall henceforth be called “Wand-Elf”… and he shall accompany you, and those with him, if they will.”

The Pilgrim seemed pleased and nodded his thanks to the King. Elrohir agreed that he and Glorfindel would go out with the Pilgrim, Wand-Elf. Celepharn sat musing on these latest developments. He didn’t see what good an old man would do him on a hunt for the Black Boar, but he liked the fellow – and it would sure be good to have the Elves along. Probably best to just have the four of them. Any servants or more companions just might slow them down.

As the dinner reached its conclusion, the ladies excused themselves first. Shortly after they departed, Celepharn spoke briefly with a chief servant, bidding him to see that preparations were made for the hunt; that he be summoned three hours before first light, with breakfast for four awaiting them and that their horses, provisions, winter wear and hunting gear be made ready. Celepharn then excused himself from his father and the King and motioned for his guests to join him.

Celepharn led them up the same stair and through the same entrance that the royal procession had used, beside the fireplace. Then left along a passage into the royal palace, up one stair, then over to another stair and up two more levels, then down a hallway to a corner room. It was Celepharn’s own room, rather small and spare, but a fire had been kindled and was glowing with its warmth. Three mats had been laid out on the floor besides the one cot. Other than these, a stand with washbasin, a chest and a single chair completed the furnishings. One outer wall of the room sloped steeply inward, for they were just at the level where the roof began. At the other was a window facing west.

Celepharn went to the window and stood looking westward, over the city below and to the white expanse beyond. The snow had stopped falling and all was now still. The moon was out, a few days shy of full, and colored the white canvas below it with tones of silver and blue. Then Celepharn began to speak, still staring out into the distance.

“That way lies our quest, my new friends. And that way also lies Annuminas, the great city of my fathers where none now dwell.”

They set the chair and the chest before the fire and sat to warm themselves and chat before turning in for the night. Glorfindel stood by for the chest could only seat two, and with a motion he declined to be seated. Wand-Elf was given the chair and Celepharn was able to prevail on him to take the cot for the night.

Before they had been seated for long, there came a light tapping at the door. Celepharn sprang up to open it. There stood his mother Tiriel, with her two attendants. He greeted her and stood aside to let her in, but she remained at the doorway. “I would speak with Mister Wand-Elf,” she said.

Wand-Elf rose and approached the doorway. The Lady Tiriel turned to take something from one of her attendants, then turned back with a bundle in her hands.

“Mister Wand-Elf, the winters in the North are perilous. If you would venture forth once more, I would give you this.” She unfolded in her hands a long silver scarf. “May this protect you from the howling winds and bitter cold.”

Wand-Elf bowed slightly and held out his hands to take the proffered gift. “Why thank you, Lady Tiriel, this is most kind.”

She then looked straight into his eyes, a look of concern, even pleading on her lovely face, “Please watch over my son.”

Wand-Elf smiled. “I shall certainly do so. I take it that you watch over him whenever you can?”

“I was trained to watch from a young age, for my father is Warden of Elostirion. Lord Cirdan, he who was of late your host, is known to me, and his presence has always warmed my heart, even as your presence does now. I fear that trouble may come unexpected on this hunting trip, but my heart tells me that you might work my son’s deliverance.”

“Trouble often comes, and yet is mostly unexpected. We will do what we may.”

“I trust that you will indeed – and that you, and your companions, can render the aid that might be of need. Good night, good Wand-Elf.” She ended with a bow.

“Good night, Lady Tiriel,” he replied, inclining his head and then slowly closing the door behind her. Then, still standing at the door, he pulled back his robe from about his neck, wrapped the scarf around himself, then drew the robe tightly over himself. “Yes, that will do the trick,” he said, as he walked back to the chair.
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Postby Valandil3430 » Sat Dec 29, 2007 6:09 am

Visitors Come to Court

Chapter 4 – Annuminas

For the third straight morning, Celepharn awoke to the pleasant smell of a newly started fire. He got up on one elbow and looked out from his lean-to. There was Wand-Elf, huddled over the burning kindling, positioning bigger sticks and small logs to nurture the fire along. Whatever else the old man was, he was a wizard at starting a fire – even out in the snow and cold! No sign of the Elves, but that was expected. Each evening they had sat up talking long with Wand-Elf and Celepharn, then sat up longer in a sort of trance while the other two went to sleep in their lean-tos, then gone off sometime after midnight, either picking up a suitable breakfast or hunting for traces of their prey – the Black Boar.

The snowstorm had ended the day of the visitors’ arrival at Fornost. The wind was not so bitter cold and travel was not so uncomfortable. So they had made pretty good time. At mid-day of the second day on Ridge Road from Fornost they had crossed the small bridge over Baraduin at the old town of Portage, where water still trickled through the mostly frozen falls. Then they took the old River Road toward the spillway of Lake Nenuial, rather than staying on Ridge Road straight on to Annuminas. For it was from the guardhouse at the spillway that the message about the Black Boar had come.

It was still dark, as it had been the other mornings, for the daylight hours were shortest about this time of year. The moon was still up, but would be setting soon. It would be full when it rose this evening. The brightness of the moon and the clear sky had aided their travel, for they had stopped to eat at the setting of the sun, then went on as the moon rose high enough to light their way, until they made camp when he was high overhead. Today – their fourth day out from Fornost – they could reach Annuminas.

Before long, Elrohir and Glorfindel had returned, they had all breakfasted, quickly broken camp and mounted their steeds. All was done with little speech, for those who travel much in the wild become well practiced at their tasks and carry them out swiftly. Now as they rode along, the light of dawn growing behind them in the east, it was Wand-Elf who broke the silence.

“So, young Celepharn, today we will reach this city of yours which I so long to see. Tell me something more about it.”

Celepharn sat up straight in his saddle and drew in a deep breath. He sighed, but then turned to face Wand-Elf, his eyes lighting up as he began to speak, “Annuminas was once our great city. It was built by our father Elendil himself, on coming to these shores from Numenor, and founding the Kingdom of Arnor. Many thousands dwelt there in those happy times. And even after the War took Elendil and so many more, still the city continued on for many centuries. For almost a thousand years it was the great capital of the Dunedain, the Faithful Numenoreans in Exile from their lost homeland.”

“My home of Fornost is now our greatest city in the North, and several thousands dwell therein – but five times as many lived at Annuminas, and it was as different from Fornost as Day is from Night. Fornost always has been my home – and likely always shall be – but my heart yearns for Annuminas.”

“A white city it was, of alabaster stone - with grand domes of gold. Its walls were low, for never came war to its gates in all those days. It sat on a hill above the Lake of Twilight – and there its ruins still sit, and from that lake it drew water up to the people of the city. There our people prospered and flourished. They made great works, and grew wise in knowledge of lore. The Library of Annuminas was the wonder of its age. The streets ran straight, north and south or east and west. Straight west, through the main gates, and passing through many courtyards and by many great buildings of stone, was the Palace that Elendil made there for himself – Vinyamar! – Grand, domed palace with many courtyards and gardens all its own. And behind the palace stood the Tower of Annuminas, from which Elendil and his descendants could view all the land. And men say that they were of such farsightedness, that from there could they survey the entire Realm of Arnor – and even beyond!”

“Remarkable,” said Wand-Elf, and a look of something – was it mild amusement? – crossed his face. “And yet it is no longer the city of your people, but none other has taken it. How did this come to be?”

“When Arnor was divided among the sons of Earendur – before the birth of my father – the city of Annuminas was divided as well. Some sided with this son, some with that. The nobles – and others with means - fled the city and joined with the factions of the day. And the city that had seen no war came to war’s very brink as armies massed outside. But war was averted that time – although some lives were lost in skirmishes. The brothers who were the kings met the next year and agreed to the Peace of Amlaith. And although this city sits in the Realm of Arthedain – Amlaith relinquished his right to make it his capitol again, in order to keep peace with his brothers. Besides, if war ever were to come between them, it could not be defended as easily as Fornost. Not without four times as many warriors and new stronger walls built around it. And while Arthedain has not yet gone to war, Cardolan and Rhudaur have warred with one another at times since before my birth.”

“They say that four parts of her people left Annuminas in those first months. The remnant soon dwindled, scattering across the land, for the palace gates had been locked, the leaders of the people were all gone. Most of the rest left soon after, scattering into the countryside. When the devices that brought water up from the lake failed, none knew how to mend them, and only a handful remained.”

With that Celepharn turned to look directly into the face of Wand-Elf. “That last part I got from one of the few hermits who dwelt in that City of Kings, when I was a small boy. Now even they are all gone.”

“So the city is totally deserted?” asked Wand-Elf.

“Yes,” said Celepharn, and his head hung low. “Some even have removed stones of the city to build homes or roads or bridges elsewhere. But none has yet touched anything in the royal palace.”

“Does the line of Amlaith hope to restore it then?”

“That is my dream,” said Celepharn, lifting his head once more. “I guess that it is also my father’s, though we never speak of it, but it is not my grandfather’s hope. For we say that when the city of Annuminas is restored, then shall all the Dunedain be reunited once more!”

“And that is your dream?” asked Wand-Elf. “To unite your people once more?”

“Yes… if it is not already so when I become King, I hope to restore that city and make it my capital once more.”

“Will that cause trouble with Cardolan? Or Rhudaur?”

“I hope to win them over first… somehow,” and Celepharn’s eyes gazed off into the distance.

“Do you think your people would return there?”

“I know not for certain. Mayhap they may come to see it as I do. For to me that city has a charm, and I cherish it greatly. Oft have I visited its abandoned streets and explored its empty halls. Its…”

Celepharn was silent for awhile. Finally, Elrohir leaned forward from where he was riding behind them and said, “Come now Celepharn, you can trust him with your secret. If anyone is trustworthy, it is Mister Wand-Elf.”

Celepharn turned back sharply. He was surprised that Elrohir would speak out of turn like this. But when he turned back to Wand-Elf, the old man was looking at him evenly. Something warmed in his own heart, and he believed that he could indeed trust this man with his secret - with almost anything.

“I have a key…” began Celepharn. “It will open the palace gate, and all doors within – or nearly all. I have spent much time here – and Elrohir helped me once with his brother – gathering whatever could be found of treasures left behind. I have stored them all up in a secret vault, hidden beneath the very Tower of Annuminas itself. There are scrolls and tapestries from Numenor of old – stores of great learning in lore and in craft. I have placed works of art from the days of that city’s greatness, something marking the reign of every King who ruled there. Even things such as books on heraldry, chronicles, maps, each hundred-year census.”

Celepharn was silent for several moments, but then raised his head and drew himself up tall in the saddle, looking ahead, “All these things I have set aside against the day that Annuminas may be restored and Arnor re-united.”

On they rode then, mostly in silence. The air was still and quiet, for no wind blew in their ears and the songbirds had left the northern lands for a warmer place to spend their winter. The only sounds came from the horses – the crunch of their feet in the snow, and sometimes a soft neigh or whinny. The daylight hours were short, so they pressed on at a slow, steady walk, with only a few short stops.

At last they came to the end of the River Road as they sun began to sink before them. They heard the tinkling of water – whatever was not yet frozen as it made its way through the iced-over spillway up ahead. Up a last rise to the left of the spillway, and everything came into view all at once.

Before them was Lake Nenuial. So wide it was that they could not see the further shore, but beyond the farthest extents of the lake that could be seen, they faintly saw the Hills of Twilight. The lake was an unbroken surface of white – frozen over now and all covered with snow.

Before them the River Road ended at a “T” with a crossroad. To the right, the crossroad – which was Lake Shore Road – ran up to the spillway. From there, a sort of bridge, or rather a pier, skirted the spillway with an arc out into the lake and back to the shore beyond the spillway. There, just across the way and about 200 rangar (a furlong) from where they were, stood a small sturdy-looking building of stone blocks – two stories high with a lookout post above. Beyond it, the shore went in a straight line between north and northeast for as far as the eye could see – the lake to the left of that line and forested hills rising to the right of it.

To their left, the shoreline and road arced away from them until both ran nearly west. At the range of Celepharn’s sight was a large, bare, gentle hill on that southern shore. Atop it he could just barely see a distant tower.

“There, my dear Wand-Elf,” he said, pointing to the tower, “is Annuminas – the city of Elendil and the former glory of the Dunedain - and that – is the high tower of the city.” He then gestured to the other side and continued, “This spillway is the source of Baranduin, and from here it runs to the Sea. That beyond it is our guardhouse, and there we may find a better place to rest for the night, hot food and good company from the guardsmen – as well as any further news of the Black Boar.”

Following Celepharn’s lead, they all dismounted and led their horses to the right – along Lake Shore Road, then out onto the pier over the lake, around the spillway to the far bank and on toward the guardhouse. But as he drew very near and looked up to the guardhouse once more, Celepharn stopped.

“Look – the door is ajar – and all is quiet here,” he said.

“Yes,” said Elrohir, “and no smoke rises from yon chimney – a strange thing on a winter day.”

Securing their horses to a post, they all stepped forward. The door was not simply ajar, but was off one of its hinges. They peered inside. The lone room at the ground floor was in disarray. The table was broken, the benches overturned, and smaller items scattered about the place. The fireplace was dark and cold. Ice had formed in places and there was a little snow scattered about the room.

“How can this be?” asked Celepharn. “ There should be six or eight men at this place. None are here!”

“They couldn’t be… deserters? Could they?” asked Wand-Elf, his eyebrows rising with his sidelong glance toward Celepharn.

Elrohir moved forward into the room, poking and prodding various objects as if searching them for the meaning to all this. “No – these men did not desert. There was obviously a struggle of some sort.”

“Well,” said Wand-Elf, straightening up, “What sort of beast IS this Black Boar?”

Glorfindel stiffened at those words but said nothing.

Celepharn smiled grimly. “The Black Boar has indeed been trouble for farmers and woodsmen, but is not capable of routing a guard house.” He paused thoughtfully, “We have never had a raiding party from Cardolan or Rhudaur – but Cardolan is so far from here and Rhudaur even further – and so deep into our land, and at this time of year – it just doesn’t seem possible.”

“But,” said Elrohir, “even a raid seems unlikely. There are no bodies, not even a trace of blood. Let’s check upstairs.”

All but Glorfindel went to the upper floor and checked the bunk rooms. These were also deserted, but the men’s belongings were there, untouched. The hatch to the upper lookout tower was still secured. The only other odd thing was that a large window at the end of the upper hall was broken open, perhaps accounting for the ice and snow inside.

They went outside and checked the grounds but saw nothing remarkable. There had obviously been people coming and going many days since, which would be expected at a guard-tower. But even what traces had been spared by the recent break in the snow were at least a few days old. As the sun set they found their horses something to eat and went back inside, where they righted a couple benches to sit for a while.

All of the party now seemed thoughtful. They were at a loss to solve the mystery of the guardsmen who were not at their post.

It was Wand-Elf who eventually broke the silence. “Well,” he said, “it would be a shame to not at least see Annuminas – after coming so close.”

None could think of any objections, or any better course to take, so they agreed to rest there until the moon rose a bit more, then to make their way on to the city.

After a few hours of rest – only Wand-Elf got any sleep – the moon had risen in the east and the party mounted, returned across the pier about the spillway and made their way south and west along Lake Shore Road. They rode easily, at a slow, steady walk of their horses. As the moon rose higher, the light about them grew – and it seemed almost as bright as the winter day had been, with the sun staying so low on the horizon. But the moonlight gave an eerie feeling as well – at least Celepharn thought so. All about them was still – and mostly white with snow and ice, but the white was cast in the silver-blue of the moon’s glow.

As they drew nearer to the city of Annuminas, Celepharn began to feel even more uneasy. The tower was now fully in view – though not to be seen as clearly as in the day – and something looked odd about it. It almost seemed… misshapen somehow. It was Elrohir who first remarked on this – and Celepharn looked troubled, but said nothing. Then they were close enough that this was apparent to all. Celepharn looked even more distressed, but none spoke.

At length they reached the entrance to the city, the gates long since removed. The low outer wall was mostly intact though, and it ran long and straight in each direction. Fully enclosing the city, this wall was 10 furlongs (exactly 2000 rangar) wide, north-to-south, and 25 furlongs (5000 rangar) long, a full league, from east-to-west. Entering the first gateway, they went through a passageway with stone walls on each side, but open above, and came through it into a large outer court, where there had once been a second gate.

This outer court had been kept in good order, in times of old, but had now fallen into disarray. Debris was strewn about, partly covered now by winter’s early snows. And from this court, they caught once more a clear view of the tower – straight ahead now and still the better part of a league distant, and clearly mis-formed at the top.

They traveled on by the light of the rising full moon on the glistening snow – through more broken gates and onto a broad avenue, punctuated by courtyards, and always their path led them straight west through the city, toward the tall tower ahead of them. The buildings about them were all clearly abandoned – and had been for some time. Windows were broken out in places, some roofs had fallen in – there were even signs of fire damage. Plants had grown here and there about them, unattended and unmanaged – halted only for now by the onset of another winter.

At the halfway point between the entrance to the city and the entrance to the palace, exactly ten furlongs in, they crossed another broad street going off to the north and south. This was old Market Street – with the Fisherman’s Gate at the north end, above the lake, and the Farmers’ Gate to the south.

It was on this avenue, as the tower grew larger in their view, that the sight of something else gripped them. They saw the mighty domes of the palace far ahead – or what was yet left of them. For the great domes, at the center and on each of the four wings, were all broken, and only shattered remnants remained.

At this sight, Celepharn halted – his mouth agape, and signs of great loss and heartache showing in his young searching eyes. His companions stopped as well, with grave faces, turning their own gaze from the palace ahead, to their young friend, and then back once more.

Slowly, Celepharn’s eyes hardened and his mouth was set with grim determination. Oblivious to those with him, he urged his mount onward at a trot, then a canter and into a full gallop, his gaze fastened before him. His companions swiftly followed him through the deserted city, the hooves of their horses kicking up snow as they sped onward through the eerie silence. The buildings on either side of them became grander in size and in style, yet still broken and empty - but they sped on, barely heeding them now. They passed through a large open square, which ended at a tall gateway, again gateless, atop which sat a high balcony. Beyond this were the remnants of large estate homes, in even greater disarray now than the rest of the city.

As they drew nearer to the tower, the secret of its shape became clear. The top one third or more was frozen – covered with a layer of ice. Not ice that would naturally form with the thawing and freezing of snow – for that would have run down the walls when melted. There was something un-natural about this ice, thickly bunched at the upper reaches of the tower while the lower parts were free of it.

At last they came to a gate. It was the seventh gateway they had reached, but the first that was not broken. Celepharn leapt from his horse and drew something from beneath his heavy winter clothing. It was a key. He struggled briefly with the frozen tumblers of the lock, but at last – after blowing upon it with warm air, and much shaking of the doors, he un-latched it. Then he began to pull on one great gate, drawing it slowly toward himself as it dragged through the snow. When he had opened it wide enough, he slipped through and was gone.

His companions dismounted then as well. One pulled and two pushed to open the door wide enough to bring the horses through, Elrohir leading Celepharn’s horse along with his own.

On either side of them stood walls of stone, 5 or 6 rangar high, and before them the path inclined up slightly for half a furlong, so that the walls staying at the same level, and the path rising, met some 100 rangar beyond them. One set of footprints marked the snow on the ramp before them, and ahead of them, at the summit, they found Celepharn, sunk to his knees, his head hung low and his face distraught, unable any longer to look at the wreck of his ancestral home before him.

The palace Vinyamar had five domes; a great one in the center and lesser ones – still massive – on each of its four wings. All were now broken. Or at least the four they could see from here were broken, and they had little doubt that the fifth one, beyond the center, was broken as well – else they might have seen it rise beyond. The front entrance was also smashed in. The rest of the building still stood, but there were marks of destruction all about – a crushed corner here, an uneven gaping hole where a window had been over there. No doubt the inside was choked with the wreckage of the mighty domes. They were still far enough back to have a good view of the palace in its entirety. In fact, the spot where they stood was precisely two furlongs from the center of the greatest dome. About them was a mocking silence, and above the wrecked mansion, stood the great tower – another two furlongs beyond the center, its icy upper reaches gleaming in the growing light of the full moon.

They remained there in silence for a long while – Celepharn still on his knees, his companions standing behind his shoulders. It was he, at last, who broke the stillness.

“I do not understand,” he began, and a puzzled look came over his face. “For all these years, as the city fell into ruin, all the palace grounds at least were left untouched. Now… this place is in utter ruin, and yet… the gate still stood locked!”

“Strange indeed,” replied Wand-Elf. “And what do we make of the icy tower?”

They said little more, but Glorfindel seemed on edge, if that were possible. Always his eyes searched this way and that, and he appeared bent on discovering whatever clue he might to these mysteries. At last though, they all agreed to set up their camp for the rest of the night. At the corners of the wall about the place grounds sat four small guardhouses. They chose one of these as a likely spot – at the northeast corner, off to their right as they had come in. Near the edge of it they built their fire, and they unloaded their packs and prepared to bed down for the night, that they might examine things more closely with the morning light.

Because the ground here was raised above the surrounding city, they could see right over the walls. Celepharn told them what was in nearest view.

“To the east, over the wall, are the city homes of the Thanes, along with the higher nobles and greatest officials of the realm, those who did not, by nature of their duties, dwell within the palace proper. Over this north wall were the royal gardens, right up to the city walls. Beyond that is Lake Nenuial, or Lake Evendim – the Lake of the Twilight.”

“How… odd!” said Wand-Elf, gazing far out onto the lake. “There is a mist upon the waters.”

The others were drawn to see.

“Yes,” replied Celepharn, “the great cold draws mists up from the lake like so.”

“And yet,” added Elrohir, “that would happen over the whole surface, if it grew so cold. This mist comes from only one place – over there.” And he reached out his arm to point in the given direction.

“Does it… move?” asked Wand-Elf?

“Yes…” replied Elrohir, “it comes this way.”

“Is it… a creature?” asked Celepharn.

“Yes – a living thing… a creature of frost and cold!” answered Elrohir.

“It is a foul creature,” spoke up Glorfindel. “Worm-spawn of Angband!”
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Postby Valandil3430 » Sat Dec 29, 2007 6:11 am

Visitors Come to Court

Chapter 5 – Ice and Fire

They watched transfixed, as if frozen themselves, while the creature grew slowly in their view. Its movements over the ice were strange. In part, it slithered - not side-to-side like a snake, but up-and-down. As it drew nearer, they saw that its fore limbs pulled it along, while the rear limbs and the wings – the latter flattened against the surface – pushed in turn. Its long neck lunged forward and back, as its great head alternately bobbed high and then strained forward. It seemed to move slowly, but that was deceptive, for it advanced with great speed in this way across the ice. And as it moved over the surface of the lake, mists of frost rose about it, and mists trailed behind it.

The worm was all white, and the light of the winter full moon high overhead cast it in silver-blue. It was an ice dragon – or a “cold drake” – for dragons were called “worms” by the Eldar of old. It was long and slender in form – perhaps 10 to 15 rangar from snout to tail, if it would stretch out and hold still to be measured. So it was still young for a dragon, but old enough to be fell. There was only a slighter bulge in width at the middle, where the torso would be – between the front limbs and the rear, and its great wings grew from the sides of the torso, just behind the fore limbs. It was full of spikes all about – at each joint and at the end of the tail. In place of horns, it had a half-ring of spikes around its head – though two were more prominent than the rest, and the others stepped down in size toward the edges of its mouth, where two larger spikes grew at each side.

When the dragon reached the shore it stopped and drew itself up. Ice and snow fell from it as it shook out its wings and brushed off its limbs and torso. It sniffed the air and looked about, but the wind came from off the lake, so they were not yet betrayed to the dragon’s nose. After a few moments, its eyes came to rest on something high and far to the left of Celepharn and his companions. The Tower! Slowly and deliberately, it extended its head in that direction, until its neck was stretched out behind it. The great wings first lightly moved up and down, but then they flapped in two powerful strokes, and on the third, the legs pushed from below and the dragon took to the frigid air.

It rose slowly at first, barely passing over the shallow incline that led up from the lake’s edge. Then steadily it gained in height over the land, rising upward, in a purposeful line, straight for the Tower.

The dragon passed high over the city wall and higher still it rose. When at last it drew near the tower it let out a great shout, and all about it trembled. But when it passed the tower, it’s powerful tail snaked out and struck it. The Tower shook and ice and stone flew from its side and fell to the ground.

“NO!” shouted Celepharn into the sky, drawing his sword from his side and stepping forward.

The dragon rolled slightly over and turned its head back toward them, spotting their campfire. It hissed, then turned its attention straight ahead, continuing to rise.

“Why did you shout?” asked Elrohir. “Do you wish to call the beast on us?”

Celepharn gave no answer, for he stood staring in disbelief at the Tower. But Wand-Elf answered for him, “It matters not, for he would have soon seen us anyway. I think that he will deal with us in our turn, for he is intent on another matter.”

“Should we not flee to the city below and hide?”

“Let us wait,” replied Wand-Elf.

The dragon rose up high into the sky and circled about, surveying all below it. At last, as if it had satisfied itself, it dropped into a shallow dive – toward the Tower once more. This time it did not strike with its tail, but as it drew closer, it opened wide its mouth. Mists streamed from it, and suddenly a great blast of ice and frost burst forth from it and struck the Tower. Hail pelted the Tower, and then ice began to form around the spot where it hit – the same spot where the tail had just struck on the last pass, about half-way up the Tower.

Passing the Tower, the dragon rose once more, rapidly beating its wings. Up it went, and by the moonlight they caught glimpses through the clouds as it circled back around. Then down it came plummeting, dropping steeply and swiftly this time. It passed the tower without a blast of ice, but the tail swept out and struck, with greater force than before. The Tower shook at the blow, and a corner crumbled and partly collapsed, leaving a gaping hole in the middle. The upper reaches tilted perilously sideways.

Again the dragon rose and again it flew by, delivering a blast of ice – taking care to place it at the same damaged spot. Again it rose higher still, dove sharply down and dealt another mighty blow to the reeling structure.

This time the Tower trembled throughout and gave way with the sound of a great crack. More stone flew from the spot of impact, and the upper portions twisted and collapsed, crumbling down on the lower walls with a great rumbling roar. The lower walls gave way in turn, until all that remained of the Tower of Annuminas was a giant heap of stone… and ice.

When the last stone had settled into place, and the rumbling noise had ended, all was still, but only for a moment. Then the dragon bellowed forth a great yell of triumph, and turned in its flight toward the Men and the Elves.

As the dragon had yelled in triumph, Celepharn had cried out in grief and despair. Then his eyes narrowed, his face hardened and he set himself for what was to come. Before his companions could stop him he rushed forward to meet the dragon’s advance. And as the dragon drew slowly nearer, he quickly readied himself.

His scarf he wrapped about his ears, and tucked in the edges of his hood, that he might resist the dragon’s voice. With half his cloak he wrapped his left arm, and held it before him – watching the dragon above and below it – that he might not look into those fearsome eyes. Then he drew picked up his great sword and held it high above his head and behind him – ready to strike when the dragon came close. And there he stood like a hero of old, alone on a field of snow, by the light of midnight’s full moon, awaiting the rush of this dragon of ice.

Wand-Elf ran to the fire and began piling all the wood close at hand upon it. Elrohir and Glorfindel came forward to stand behind the young man Celepharn, one to each side.

The dragon had advanced as if to attack, but when the curious man-things did not flee, it pulled up short, stopping within 10 rangar of Celepharn. It was the worm who spoke first.

“Who are you that stand so defiantly before me?”

Celepharn heard the voice, despite his wrappings, for it shook the frozen earth below him. He called back in response, “I am one who defends the Tower of Elendil.”

The dragon laughed mirthfully. “You come too late then, for that very tower I have just ruined! And if I have broken such a mighty work of stone, can I not much more easily crush such puny works of flesh – as yourselves?”

“Yes – too late to defend it I am, yet no steel was raised against you while you struck it. But now I would avenge that tower, and the steel to do so stands here to give aid to this flesh.”

The dragon hissed at this. It has seen the mighty sword, and knew what harm such things could wreake. So it changed tactics. “Why would you offer up your life in honor of that which is no more?” it asked.

“Why did you destroy it?”

“Now really, you should answer my question before I answer yours,” the drake said coyly, but then drew itself up and declared with pride, “But answer first I will. Elendil, who built this tower and this city, is no more they say. But I hate him and I hate his memory. For I am Helkaruth, and my great-grandsire was Ancalagon, whom Elendil’s forefather Earendil slew in ages long past. And so I would now wreck all of Elendil’s that remains.”

This time Celepharn laughed, and then said grimly. “Make good then, if you can, for before you stands Elendil’s heir. I am Celepharn, and Elendil was my ancestor!”

Helkaruth roared in rage and his head rose on high, “Your blood is hot, I see, but I will chill it! Then I will devour you as I did those men by the Lake!” but he paused.

All this time, Helkaruth had tried to catch the eyes of his intended prey. He thought he’d had a glimpse of them from up high, before the man swung his arm up to shield them. And now the man stood perfectly still, as if transfixed – or was he merely waiting? The beast’s head dropped low and darted forward, very fast, aiming for a decisive strike – while still trying to reach the eyes of this pest.

Suddenly, the sword of Celepharn came swiftly round with all the force he could muster. Helkaruth pulled back his head and turned it aside from that mightly blow only just in time to keep from losing it. As it was, the sword struck off the two great spiked horns behind the left side of his mouth. Helkaruth shrieked in pain, shaking his head. But then he drew it on high once more, and this time, drove forth his frosty breath.

Celepharn huddled behind his cloak-wrapped arm as a storm of ice and hail blasted down upon him. The force of the blast nearly knocked him to the ground. He tried to watch the dragon’s feet and torso, to guess when it might strike again – and come once more within his reach. But the ice spewing forth encrusted his arm, pulling it down, and ice formed all about his face – even over his eyes, so that he could hardly see. At last the ice-storm stopped and Celepharn tried to see what he could below his ice-covered arm, now frozen stiff in front of him. It appeared that his foe was being drawn off to his left – or retreating from something on his left. And all Celepharn could feel was a growing cold – a mind-numbing cold.

If Celepharn had been alone that night, it would surely have been his last. But Celepharn had friends with him, and they had sprung into action.

It was the voice of Glorfindel that he next heard. “Halt foul beast!” he said, “For I am a Noldor of Gondolin, and the sons of Earendil are under my protection!” It was to him that Helkaruth turned, now faced with enough doubt and dismay to temper his rage. For Glorfindel stood with his sword at the ready. His golden hair gleamed in the moonlight, his eyes blazed with fire and there was a fiery glow all about him – as if he had been transformed.

The strong hands of Elrohir took hold of Celepharn, but he found that he could barely move. So Elrohir led him away, half-dragging him backward – away from where Helkaruth and Glorfindel faced one another, as if each were sizing up the other.

But then a voice spoke, so loudly and clearly that its ring seemed to fill the while night around them.

“Helkaruth! This is not… of stone, or steel. It is not… of flesh, and blood.” This was the voice of Wand-Elf. The icy wood he had thrown onto the fire just moments ago had already been kindled and now sent flames up high into the night sky. And before the roaring fire stood Wand-Elf – with his staff in his right hand and a brand from the fire in his left. He seemed transformed himself, but differently – and perhaps not so completely – as Glorfindel. He raised up staff and brand, and both his hands glowed with the fire itself. The glow spread into the staff, and it seemed alight with an inner fire – and spread also into the brand, and up leapt its flame. And he spoke once more.

“This… will be of Ice… and Fire!”

At that, he threw his arms outward, with staff and brand and slowly swung them around before him. Flames arced out from the fire behind him in two long arms, running along the ground until they formed a great ring about Wand-Elf, Glorfindel and Helkaruth. And then the flames rose higher and burned hotter.

The dragon stood and shrieked. Clouds of icy mist came forth from its very hide, but the flames burned the brighter and turned the mists to steam.

“You are young, Helkaruth, yet you are fey…” continued the surprising old man. “But you have not faced one like me. Leave this land now, and return to it no more!”

The dragon screamed once again – either in defiance at the words, or in pain at the burning fire and scalding steam. It shook its great wings, fanning back the flames, leapt up with its hind legs and slowly began to rise.

But Glorfindel spoke once more, calling out after the creature as it turned back toward the north, “Beware the sons of Elendil, you spawn of Thangorodrim! For the next day you face his heir, shall be the last day of your accursed life!”

They could not say for sure if it the wind, or if there was there one last hiss from the dragon in response. Then onward it flew, over the frozen lake, until it was lost in the northern sky.

Glorfindel turned to them and was himself once more. Wand-Elf seemed weary, leaning on his staff. Elrohir at first watched the dragon’s flight, but then turned back and beheld Celepharn, who now lay upon the ground. He was mostly covered with ice. His face was pale, and almost blue. His eyes were fixed forward, with only a slow blink now and then – and the chattering of his teeth was now all that broke the still silence about them.

“Come,” said Elrohir, “we must see to our friend.”
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Postby Valandil3430 » Sat Dec 29, 2007 6:12 am

Visitors Come to Court

Chapter 6 – The Ride Home

The Elves and Wand-Elf sprang into action. They first brought Celepharn up close to the fire to warm him. Then Elrohir and Glorfindel gathered what wood they could find, and a few blazing brands they could carry from the fire, and started a fire inside the guardhouse. Meanwhile, Wand-Elf – the weariness he had briefly shown departed once more - hovered constantly over Celepharn, keeping his hands upon him – mostly on his shoulders, and especially on his left arm, still stiffly frozen before him. In time, Celepharn felt the warmth of Wand-Elf’s arm seeping through the icy numbness that was ever-growing about him.

The flames that encircled the dragon died down swiftly once Wand-Elf had lowered his arms, and the fire from which they sprang had shrunk from a great blaze to the campfire it had been at first. The night was now calm about them – with only their activity breaking the frozen stillness.

Before long - after first knocking off the ice that was still visible on him, now loosened by the heat of the fire - Celepharn’s companions had shifted him into the guardhouse. Wand-Elf attended him there still, while the Elves left to retrieve the horses, which had run off at the dragon’s rush. They returned with them shortly, and with more wood besides. Soon, blankets were spread upon Celepharn, and other blankets were hung to close up the doorway. A kettle full of snow was swung out over the fire – and when the contents first melted and then began to boil, Elrohir brought forth some leaves and broke them before dropping them in.

Even while growing delirious, Celepharn recognized the smell of athelas – and the fragrance eased him. Elrohir turned with a smile, “I’m sure you won’t mind that we broke into your stores to find this. I thought you would not have ventured far without some. And soon you shall have some athelas tea to soothe you.”

The tea was soothing indeed. Everything had grown dim to Celepharn, but the tea went down nicely – leaving a warm trail through the cold that had grown all about him. He had started to feel warm once more though…

Celepharn awoke to the sounds and smells of a mid-day meal. Sunlight streamed into the room through upper windows. His companions were all gathered together around a small table. Seeing him stir, Elrohir called out, “Celepharn!” jumped to his feet and rushed to his side. Wand-Elf rose more slowly, and then Glorfindel – and they also gathered around him, pulling up a bench to sit beside the pallet on which he lay.

“How are you feeling lad?” asked Wand-Elf.

“Hungry!” replied Celepharn.

Wand-Elf laughed at that. “Good, good,” he said. “We’ll make you up something special.” At that he nodded to Elrohir, who turned back to the fire and began to prepare something – amidst which the smell of athelas arose once more.

“We are glad to see you pull through,” said Wand-Elf with a smile, turning his attention back to Celepharn.

“Have I slept right on into the next day then?” asked Celepharn.

Wand-Elf replied, “No… the day after the next. It was at midnight on the 16th that we met Helkaruth – right outside here. It is now just after noon on the 18th.”

“How have I lost so much time? And slept for so long?” asked Celepharn in consternation.

“Oh,” replied Wand-Elf, “I’d say you’ve come off rather lightly. Not many would have fared so well after facing a dragon like that – alone and in the open, much less lived to tell the tale. You have done quite well.”

“It was very brave indeed,” spoke up Glorfindel, looking deeply, perhaps for the first time, into Celepharn’s eyes. “I had not known that the courage of Elendil was so strong among his distant sons.”

Celepharn bolted upright on his pallet, eyes wide open, staring into Wand-Elf’s face. “But you… How did you do what you did? What… Who are you?”

Wand-Elf and Glorfindel slowly turned to one another. Then Glorfindel rose and returned to his former seat, taking up his own dish once more, before Wand-Elf continued.

“I am a messenger.”

“A messenger? From where? And what is your message?”

The old man chuckled and reclined back a bit, bringing one hand up to his beard. “Well – the place where I come from is very far away, and you are not likely to ever see it. But my message…” and at this he drew forward once more and his face became more serious, his look somewhat distant. “My message is that Elves, and Men… and even Dwarves, must all remain united together – for evil has not departed from Middle-earth. I suppose we have seen that even here these last few days.”

After thinking for a moment, Celepharn lay back once more… nearly threw himself back. “Perhaps your message arrives too late then. For in Arnor, even we Men have not stayed united.”

“Yes… that is one of my concerns,” replied Wand-Elf gravely. “And yet, I choose to have hope that one day things will not be as they are now. That I will not…” and here his eyes twinkled once more, “… have come too late.”

Elrohir returned with a steaming bowl. “Athelas broth!” he said. “By the time you finish this bowl, you can have something more filling.

Celepharn turned his attention to the broth. With each spoonful he felt more restored. By the time he had taken the last drop a place had been readied for him at the table. He swung his legs around and tried to stand, but faltered. Elrohir reached out to take his arm – his right arm fortunately, for the left still felt tender – and guided him to his seat. Before him was a hearty stew, cheese, fresh-baked bread – for the Elves had both packed some ground meal - and a steaming mug of spiced wine. Elrohir and Wand-Elf joined him with bread, cheese and wine – for they had filled themselves with stew – while Glorfindel tended to the horses, which were inside the guardhouse with them, both to shelter them against the bitter cold outside and to help warm the inside.

Celepharn at first attacked his meal with great vigor. As he drew near the end, and as his hunger subsided, he began to look troubled once more.
“Wand-Elf…” he said, looking toward the older man, “With what you did against the dragon… Helkaruth… why did you wait at first, and let me face him alone? Especially if your message is that we unite?”

“Why?” he answered. “Uncertainty. I suppose I did not know if it was my place. I thought that perhaps you were destined to slay the beast yourself.”

“And yet, he did intervene,” chipped in Elrohir.

“Yes,” continued Wand-Elf, “once it was clear that you would perish alone. After all, I didn’t want to lose you,” he said with a smile. But then he looked reflective and added, “I suppose too, that I must have decided something… something about my role… about how I should carry my message.” Then he shook his head and smiled, but gradually his eyes shifted off, as if looking into the distance and his mind seemed lost in deep thoughts.

“Then why… did you let the creature get away?” asked Celepharn, after a long pause.

“Wha… uh, oh…” said the other, as if stirring himself from a dream. “Why, it was not by my hand for that creature to perish. You heard what Glorfindel said, did you not? I thought perhaps for a moment it might be by yours. And you nearly did kill it too, you know.”

Celepharn bent back to his meal, finishing up the last portions, and long they all sat as the light outside faded and turned once more into night. They all gathered around the fire against the growing cold that crept in from outside. Little they spoke, but at last Celepharn said, “I should like to see what remains of my ancestors’ home under light of tomorrow’s Sun.”

“See it you shall,” said Wand-Elf, “but tomorrow may be too soon. In any case, you need more rest before you’re up to that.”

With a little help, Celepharn made it back over to his pallet and drifted back into a deep slumber.

It was not the next day that Celepharn went out to examine the remains of the palace and tower, but the day after. He had chafed at the inactivity of the full day inside, especially as his strength slowly returned. But on the day following, he felt fully restored, and the bitter coldness outside had broken a little.

They started soon after the Sun rose – all four of them. With every roof broken, the palace was in even worse shape than it had appeared from the outside – all the insides choked with timbers and stones of fallen roofs and floors and inner walls which had caved in. They went at it from every entrance. Some were completely impassable, but in most they were able to get in, but soon found any further progress blocked off. At two or three passages, they were able to make their way through most of a chamber, but this gave them little cheer. The old palace, with its enormous rooms, and great domes, was ruined beyond repair.

Celepharn’s face had been grim when they started. After their close examination of the old palace, he was totally forlorn. Yet he insisted that they continue on to the ruins of the tower. When they reached that place, he found it to be even bleaker. If anything remained of the hidden chamber beneath it, they soon deemed it impossible for them to reach it.

“It would require a major undertaking of many men, over many days – and in good weather, to reach those things you have hid there,” said Wand-Elf. “But,” and he turned to face Celepharn, laying a hand upon his shoulders, “I shall keep your secret, and remember it to one who may someday come, who would treasure these things as highly as you do. Maybe even to one of your heirs.”

When they returned to the guardhouse, it was agreed that they would leave for Fornost on the following morning. It was with great heaviness of heart over the destruction wrought upon Annuminas that Celepharn prepared himself to leave, nor was his sadness lessened with the thought that his promise to his grandfather was yet unmet. But there was no help for it. On all this trip they had seen no trace of the Black Boar, and it made no sense to continue to search for it here. To strike off after it in another direction was even more pointless.

“Such good has come of this trip,” ventured Wand-Elf, “as it should be counted good to even survive an encounter with a dragon. And I have seen Annuminas, as I so wished. To lose the Black Boar is the only flaw in the ointment. But come, they will look for you soon back at your home in Fornost.”

So it was that they departed with a great burden upon them, most especially on Celepharn. His friends tried to lighten the load on his heart, but to little avail – even when Elrohir reminded him that they should arrive at Fornost for the start of the Yule, and suggested that old Wand-Elf would serve as a passable Father Yule.

Yet on their third day of travel, they came upon the trail of the Black Boar. It was Wand-Elf who first spotted it, and they saw that it was freshly made – and led off into a nearby thicken beside the road – no more than a furlong away. Celepharn made ready two javelins and his short sword and prepared to give chase.

“Careful now, young man,” began Wand-Elf. “Are you certain you care to hunt this beast alone?”

“Hah!” laughed Celepharn, his spirits once more lifted. “I have faced the White Dragon! What can I fear they Black Boar?”

And off he rode to the thicket. The three others watched as he circled it once and fired in his first javelin. There was a thunderous squeal and the beast erupted forth, but Celepharn’s horse eluded the first charge and then gave chase out in the open, Celepharn raising his second javelin high over his head.
Last edited by Valandil3430 on Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Valandil3430 » Sat Dec 29, 2007 6:13 am

Visitors Come to Court

Chapter 7 – Yule at Fornost

As they neared Fornost two days later, a crowd of local farmers began to follow them, surprised and delighted at the sight of the Black Boar being dragged on a litter between two of their horses. One farmer lent them a sleigh, which made the last few leagues fly faster. They passed through the city gates with great rejoicing, for it was just before mid-day on December 25th – Valandil’s Day, and the start of the celebration of the First Yule Week. People lined the streets as the party passed through the city and ascended to the higher level. Celepharn was greeted joyfully by his father, his mother and his siblings; who all demanded an account of his hunt for the Black Boar. He told them all about it, but didn’t mention the White Dragon – at least not yet. Even the King came down, and joyfully committed the further care of the Black Boar to the cooks of his kitchen.

When evening fell, all the noble families and those of gentle birth, both from the city of Fornost, and from a day’s travel all around, and some from further who spent the winter in town – all gathered for the merriment of the Yule’s beginning at the Great Hall of Fornost. There was music and dancing and feasting and general merry-making of all kinds. The children played, and the old men told stories, and the young folk tried to catch one another beneath the mistletoe. The old songs were sung, and hearts were warmed by joy as hands and feet were warmed by the glowing fires.

The central feature to the feasting was an immense side of roast pork, laid out with ham and bacon – along with all the seasonal trimmings.

Celepharn was just coming away with his first serving of his own contribution to the feast, along with a baked apple, roasted nuts and some bread and cheese, when he spotted his father, who was listening to one of the King’s young messengers. He came in time to hear:

“The fading sunlight showed that the mounted party out of Bree is now only hours away, and still approaching. A leader with an escort of twenty.”

“Most likely that would be the Thane of Stonebows,” offered Wand-Elf, who was suddenly standing at Celepharn’s shoulder. Now where had he come from?

But the pilgrim continued, “He seemed most eager to renew relations with Arthedain.” And then he sipped from his drink and coughed a bit before adding with a twinkle and a smile, “Or at least I thought he might willingly do so – with only a little prompting.”

As Mallor sent the messenger back to his post, and Wand-Elf went off with word to bring the King to him, that they might discuss this together, Celepharn took hold of his father’s sleeve and drew him close to himself.

“Father, how is it that we can see these men so far off?”

Mallor at first straightened himself and was silent, but then looked about, and seeing that none were near to mark their words, relaxed and took his son a bit aside and laid his hands on his shoulders.

“Celepharn, we of the Dunedain Kings of Arthedain have a great gift. A gift by which we can see far, and learn much. Even with our sons, we do not speak of it until they are judged to be ready. You, I deem, and your grandfather too – you are now ready.”

“For Celepharn, your grandfather saw the Tower of Elendil fall. In fear he called for me, and we watched together as you took your stand. Yes – you have not yet spoken of it, for you know not what to say, and your heart is heavy over what we have lost. But the hearts of your parents – and your grandparents – are light, over what we have not lost.” And he smiled proudly upon his son.

“I will show you this thing tomorrow. Tonight – we celebrate!”

When the King came before them, Celepharn almost tried to slink away, rather than hear him rail further against ‘deserters’, but his grandfather was surprisingly mild when he heard the news. “The Thane of Stonebows? His great-grandfather was from a line of Counts, before that dark day… but THIS Thane, he wasn’t even born yet! Let him come, I say, and join us, and we’ll see ourselves what tidings he brings. After all, it is the Yule!”

“What is the significance of ‘Yule’?” asked Glorfindel – who, with Elrohir had come up behind Wand-Elf again. “And why do you among Men celebrate the coldness of winter?”

“Why…” replied King Beleg, “it marks the Sun’s furthest retreat from our lands. After this, she will turn her course back our way. Our’s is a celebration of hope. Of renewal!”

Glorfindel pondered this for a moment and then said, reflectively, “Yes… I suppose that might be thought significant… if one traced time’s passage by the Sun… and had not seen her very birth.”

The End


November (Hithui), 1004:
28 Celepharn meets travelers on Road (Ch. 1)
29 X
30 Travelers come to Stonebows

December (Girithron), 1004:
1 Travelers arrive at Tyrn Gorthad
2 Celepharn arrives at Fornost
3 Celepharn begins his vigil at the crossroads before Fornost
4 Travelers depart Tyrn Gorthad, arrive at Bree
5 X
6 Travelers expected at Fornost
7 X
8 Travelers depart Bree
9 Heavy snow begins to fall
10 X
11 X
12 Travelers arrive at Fornost (Ch. 2, Ch. 3)
13 Departure for Annuminas
14 X
15 X
16 Arrive at Annuminas, full moon, encounter with the ice dragon, Helkaruth (Ch. 4, Ch. 5, Ch. 6 begins)
17 Celepharn sleeps through the day
18 Celepharn awakes
19 X
20 Exploration of Ruins of Annuminas
21 Leave Annuminas
22 X
23 Pursuit of the Black Boar (Ch. 6 ends)
24 X
25 Arrive Fornost at the beginning of the First Yule Week – and the beginning of the Yule Celebration – Valandil’s Day. (Ch. 7)
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Postby rowanberry » Sun Dec 30, 2007 10:15 am

This story has been anticipated, Valandil. :thumbsup: And now that you posted all the chapters in a row, it's easier to read.

I had only time for a quick look now, but I will read it properly in a few days, and post my thoughts after that. :)
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Postby Valandil3430 » Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:51 pm

Thanks Rowanberry! :)

I accidentally omitted a little line I had wanted to include. So I've just added it - it's near the end of Chapter 6 - and for now I have bolded and italicized it for the ease of those who have already read.

I may write an "Author's Notes" section. Would that be of interest?
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Postby Valandil3430 » Mon Jan 21, 2008 10:37 pm

Author’s Notes

Chapter 1:
1. Celepharn is listed in Appendix A as the fourth king of Arthedain, where he rules from 1110 to 1191 of the Third Age. The History of Middle Earth, Book 12 (“The Peoples of Middle Earth”) adds the further information that he was born in the year 979. This story being late in the year 1004, Celepharn is now 25 years old. Very young for a Dunedain of the ruling house – as he will live another 187 years. The full translation of his name seems indeterminate, but the first portion is from the Sindarin, celeb = ‘silver’.
2. The three wanderers are, of course, Elrohir son of Elrond (this time without his twin brother Elladan), Glorfindel of the House of Elrond, and Galdalf the Gray. The Istari, or wizards, were said to arrive about 1000 years after the start of the Third Age (Appendix B, notes on the Third Age prior to actual dates). So Gandalf is very newly arrived to Middle Earth. One account of Glorfindel’s return to Middle Earth had him potentially returning along with Gandalf. However – JRRT seems to have later settled on Glorfindel’s return sometime in the middle of the Second Age. The alternate concept was initially part of this story, but upon discovering JRRT’s final conclusion, it was easy enough to modify it and make him a companion of Elrohir’s in retrieving Gandalf from Lindon.
3. The place of this first encounter is on the Great East-West Road, directly south from the old city of Annuminas. It was most likely in the very near vicinity of Hobbiton-Bywater.

Chapter 2:
1. Gandalf and his companions evidently delayed to visit with some of the nobles of Cardolan. They may have been initially detained, and then made the best of things and stayed willingly for a few days, until freed to continue.
2. The description of the city of Fornost, in this chapter and the next, are entirely the author’s own. JRRT is silent on that, except that we know in Bree, the then long-abandoned place is known as “Dead Man’s Dike”.

Chapter 3:
1. “The Prince of Fornost” – here and elsewhere, the author follows a conception that there “Princes” ruling various portions of Arnor (and also Gondor) beneath the King. These were not princes who were sons of a king, but rulers of principalities. The theory continues that in Arnor, the three princes (ostensibly descended from the captains of Elendil’s ships – Elendil having reached the north with four ships and presumably in direct command of one, leaving three other ship captains to be major nobles subject to him.
2. Mallor was the third king of Arthedain, reigning from 1029 to 1110. He was born in 895, and is thus 109 years of age in this story. His name is Sindarin for ‘Yellow Gold’.
3. Tiriel is the author’s own creation, as JRRT is silent on all but a very few wives of the northern kings. This Tiriel is from the family which has charge over the Palantir of Emyn Beraid – the one which looks westward. In Sindarin, her name means ‘daughter of watch’ or ‘daughter who watches over’.
4. Beleg was the second king of Arthedain, ruling from 946 to 1029, and was born in 811, making him 193 years old at the time of this story. By conjecture, he is treated as being bitter over the fact that Arnor was divided – even more bitter than his father was over the event. His name is Sindarin for ‘Mighty’.
5. Hiriluial – again, a creation of the author. The indication is made that she was previously married and widowed, and that her husband and kinsmen had died coming to Beleg’s rescue. He rewarded their loyalty by providing for her as his wife. In Sindarin, her name means ‘lady of twilight’.
6. The Division of Arnor occurred in 861 of the Third Age, upon the death of King Earendur of Arnor. The kingdom was divided among his three sons into the daughter realms of Arthedain, Cardolan and Rhudaur. Amlaith, father of Beleg, was the first king of Arthedain. JRRT gives no particular reason or cause for the division, other than it being ‘…owing to dissensions among his (Earendur’s) sons…’ in Appendix A. Anything here recounted beyond that is the author taking liberty, as based on theories to which he had been exposed.
7. The earlier guests, who visited briefly in Celepharn’s absence would have been the other four Istari. Gandalf was said to come last of all, and alone. Saruman would have been leading the other three, and probably disappointed in the remnants of Arnor, would have gladly hastened to Gondor (then at the height of its glory), with a brief stop at Rivendell along the way. Celepharn was apparently away on some sort of ‘rite of passage’ journey which took him far and wide, such that he went far enough north to take a white bear, and probably in this time first visited Rivendell himself, for he was familiar with Elrohir and his family.
8. Celepharn’s words on chastity are in line with how the Faithful – who emulated the Elves in all things – would have tried to live their lives.
9. The Seer: the only Seer we know of from JRRT is the much later Malbeth, who was alive at the time of Arvedui’s birth in 1864, and was still making prophecies during Arvedui’s reign (1964 to 1974). The author has extrapolated from this a line of Seers of Arthedain, all female, descended mother-to-daughter, until the last dies at the birth of her first child – a son, Malbeth – who is deemed by his grandmother to be the last, and greatest of the Seers.
10. The naming of Gandalf: Gandalf had many names. His most common, as we’re told by JRRT, comes from ‘Elf with the Wand’. Here we have him called by this title, and then named “Wand-Elf”. It’s easy to imagine this becoming soon corrupted to “Gandalf”.
11. Tiriel is evidently somewhat gifted with foresight, as are many of Aragorn’s people. Here though, she also makes mention that as her heart had been previously warmed in Cirdan’s presence, it is once again warmed in Wand-Elf’s presence. Unknown to her, Cirdan had given Gandalf the Elven Ring of Fire, one of the Three, upon his arrival in Middle Earth, with the words, “…For this is the Ring of Fire, and with it you may rekindle hearts in a world that grows chill…” We see that she also presents him with a silver scarf, adding another piece of the outfit in which we first see Gandalf in “The Hobbit”. Of course, we cannot say for sure whether he still wears the same scarf nearly 2000 years later, preserved by the power of his Ring, or if he had replaced it.

Chapter 4:
1. Annuminas – now abandoned: We do not know for certain whether Annuminas became abandoned right after the Division of Arnor in 861, or if it continued as an inhabited city right up to the fall of Arthedain in 1974. We do know, however, that Fornost became the ruling city of Arthedain, right from the time of Amlaith, and that Annuminas would be well within Arthedain’s borders. Again, the description of it is entirely the author’s own. JRRT gives us nothing on it, other than that it was on the southern shore of Lake Evendim – or Emyn Uial.
2. Mist on the Lake / Cold Drake: The author was inspired for some of this by observation of Chicago’s own Lake Michigan in winter. He was particularly struck by the rising mists as the lake froze on one sub-zero day some years back. More recently, driving his family back home from a museum, he saw what appeared to be a large mass of ice (perhaps over some other object off the shore?) and asked his young sons if that was not an ice dragon. They thought that was silly, but the notion stuck with the author and he wondered whether he might not work it into his story of Gandalf’s arrival in Middle Earth. Appendix A mentions a cold drake at a later point in the Third Age: “At last Dain I, together with Fror his second son, was slain at the doors of his hall by a great cold-drake.” Appendix B dates this as 2589 – almost 1600 years after this story.
3. Glorfindel speaks! Up to here, he has been the silent companion, at least in words recorded. The intent with him was to treat him as quite distant toward Humans – and also quite profound when he does speak. He acts quite differently with Aragorn 2000 years later, but by then he’s had plenty of time to take the heirs of Elendil under his wing – and may have had a particular friendship with Aragorn. Of course, that could have all started with this episode.

Chapter 5:
1. Destruction of Annuminas: ‘Annuminas’ means ‘Tower of the West’. That, together with the presence of a palantir, which were mostly housed in towers, indicates that there was likely a notable tower there. Yet, mention of this is notably absent from any accounts of the halflings in the second half of the Third Age, although the northern parts of the Shire are in fairly close proximity to whatever would be left of the city. The solution employed is that there WAS a tower, and that it is now destroyed.
2. ‘Helkaruth’ means ‘icy wrath’.
3. Glorfindel here unveils himself in much the same way he does 2000 years later at the Fords of Bruinen.
4. Gandalf, although constrained with the other Istari to not reveal his full power, lets loose some of it to save Celepharn and drive away the dragon. He is always depicted as quite adept with fire. How much of this is his own nature, and how much a function of the Ring of Fire, is a point of speculation.
5. Glorfindel has a knack for prophecy. The author hopes to see this one fulfilled in a later story – so that vengeance can be taken on the cold drake that slays Dain I much later.

Chapter 6:
1. Celepharn’s affliction is not simply due to cold itself, but there is some lingering evil magic of the ice dragon at work. Without very special treatment, he probably wouldn’t have made it.
2. Wand-Elf’s treatment though, is quite special. No doubt the Ring of Fire is being exerted on Celepharn’s behalf, countering the penetrating frost of the ice dragon’s breath.
3. The items Celepharn had previously stored beneath the Tower of Annuminas are now beyond his recovery. No doubt Gandalf will remember to tell Aragorn about this – and when Annuminas is resettled following the events recounted in “The Lord of the Rings”, special efforts will be taken to recover what may remain beneath the heap that was once the tower.
4. “Flaw in the ointment” was meant to be a twist on the contemporary expression of ‘a fly in the ointment’. However, the author is disappointed to learn that the former is a common corruption of the latter, after trying to suggest that the latter was actually a corruption of the former – and previously thinking himself wise enough to have first invented, is somewhat humbled to learn that his suggested alternative use is already in wide use. Nonetheless, it is retained in the story.

Chapter 7:
1. The Yule: The major holiday of winter in Middle Earth, at the time of the winter solstice. The later Hobbits observed two “Yule Days” – the last day of one year and the first day of the next, the New Year coming over the solstice. It is supposed that they took this from the Dunedain, as they did so much else with their calendars. Further, the ‘Unfinished Tales’ account; “A Description of Numenor” describes three high days celebrated by the Numenoreans at the OTHER quarter points of the sun: summer solstice and both equinoxes. The author supposes that the Numenoreans who first came to Middle Earth felt more free to make the Yule holiday their own (possibly even adapting existent local customs – but maybe introducing the concept, and the science of observing the sun, to the other Men of Middle Earth). Also, the author is quite partial to Christmas. The Hobbits made a general observance of celebrating the Yule for two full weeks though; the last week of the one year through the first week of the next. The author takes the liberty of extending this also to the Dunedain, and marks out the days as ‘Valandil’s Day’ (Dec 25) – probably marking the birth in Rivendell of the King who ruled Arnor the longest, and ‘Elendil’s Day’ (Jan 7 on the Numenorean calendar, but shifted by the addition of a separate ‘Yule Day’ to Jan 6 on the Shire calendar) – though whether this was reputed to be the day of his birth, or the day of his landing at Lindon with the remnants of Numenor has been lost to us.
2. Thane of Stonebows: This person is descended from a line of Counts – a step up from Thanes in old Arnor (and “towns” purportedly derived from “thanes” as “counties” are from “counts”). However – in this interpretation, after the Division of Arnor, Counts were classed as Thanes – at least in the thinking of the people, and were commonly called such. The author’s more complete outline of historical persons suggests that Celepharn was to much later marry a daughter of the Thane of Stonebows. “Stonebows” was the name of the bridge over the Baranduin (later Brandywine) River along the Great East-West Road – just east of the later Shire.
3. It is suggested that both Beleg and Mallor were spectators of the confrontation of Helkaruth at Annuminas, via a Palantir. Presumably the palantir originally placed at Annuminas was transferred to Fornost when Amlaith made it his seat of power. It’s also evident that the palantiri are kept fairly secret – even within the royal family – and that Celepharn is only now just about to learn of them.
4. “Seen her birth”: According to the account in “The Silmarillion”, the sun rose for the first time as the main host of the Noldorin Elves (of whom Glorfindel was one) returned to the shores of Beleriand in the First Age. Contrary to common usage today, the Elves considered the Sun to be “she” and the Moon to be “he”.
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Postby Arassuil » Thu Jun 26, 2008 12:05 am

Wow! You sure put a lot of detailed work into that. Good read! Have you considered posting this in the Reading Room?
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Postby Valandil3430 » Mon Jun 30, 2008 9:20 pm

Arassuil wrote:Wow! You sure put a lot of detailed work into that. Good read! Have you considered posting this in the Reading Room?

How does one go about doing that? Does it require the Premiere Membership?

And... why is it better than just posting it here? :)
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Postby Celebrimbor32 » Wed Jul 02, 2008 6:28 pm

Greetings Valandil! Haven't seen you around in a while, eh? As far as the Reading Room goes I suppose it wouldn't hurt to post your story up over there as well as here. The RR has a more advanced format than here in the Scriptorium. One beneift of it is that readers can only post their comments in a seperate section at the bottom of each of the author's post. That way the story is not interrupted. I think readers get to rate the post as well, if I recall. However, you also have to wait until your post has been approved before you see it in print, which usually takes a couple of days. It's been a few years since I posted my old Cardolan tale over there. I am currently working studiously on a complete rewrite of that story of mine and when I complete it I plan on posting it in the RR as well as here in the Scriptorium. I tend to think that the RR draws in readers that do not normally visit this forum. And, no, I don't think you have to be a Premiere member to post over there. :)
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Postby Arassuil » Wed Jul 09, 2008 5:39 pm

I think the Reading Room is more of a library. Due to the way it works (or doesn't work), its best to submit a complete story. If one does chapters, then one has to use a Search for Author function to get all the parts. It was just a thought. Reading your tale here works well too, especially after you put it all together at the end. :)

Celebrimbor, I would like to read your Cardolan tale when you finish it! :)
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Re: Visitors Come to Court

Postby Valandil3430 » Fri Dec 30, 2016 10:48 am

I have not been here for a LONG time! :) How much activity does the board get these days? And has anybody else read this story?

Will try to check back soon, and see if there are any responses.
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Re: Visitors Come to Court

Postby Celebrimbor32 » Sat Dec 31, 2016 7:35 am

Welcome back, Valandil! It has indeed been a long while!..I had forgotten about this tale of yours. Can you believe its been that may years! Where does the time go, I wonder? At any rate I don't think I ever read this one, or if so I can't recall now. Thanks for bumping it back up! I shall begin rereading it now :)

BTW, I copied and pasted the entire canon of your story into a blank Word doc and the total word count comes to 21,867 words!
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Re: Visitors Come to Court

Postby Valandil3430 » Mon Jan 02, 2017 8:27 am

Oh - what was the 21,000+ words? This or something else? The chronicle of Kings & Chieftains of the Northern Dunedain?

Yes - it's been a long time, and lots has happened. I guess my sons have gone from 5/7/9 to 14/16/18! And after living 26 years in Chicago, I moved the family to Casper, WY in August of 2015.

Hope to finally start writing again. Maybe soon. But don't know how long before I'll have something fit to post.
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Re: Visitors Come to Court

Postby Celebrimbor32 » Wed Jan 04, 2017 12:25 pm

The 21K word count refers to your 'Visitors Come to Court' story. I copied it into a Word doc to facilitate easier reading. I only just started rereading it :)

Three boys, eh! I'm always somewhat in awe with parents who raise multiple kids. Don't know how you do it! My son is 9 and he is our only child. He's a handful. One and done for my wife and I :wink:

Congratulations on your move out west! Talk about apples and oranges! From Chicago to Casper is quite something! One might think all the grand scenery and natural environment in WY will provide your muse with what it needs for another fan-fix here in this forum!
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Re: Visitors Come to Court

Postby Arassuil » Wed Jan 04, 2017 3:52 pm

Welcome Back Valandil! It's only been 8½ years since this tale has been on top of The Scriptorium of Imladris!
Glad to see you Are doing well! And you too Celebrimbor! :)
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Re: Visitors Come to Court

Postby Celebrimbor32 » Thu Jan 05, 2017 12:24 pm

Greetings and well met once again, Arassuil! Glad to see you are still round and about these days :)
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Re: Visitors Come to Court

Postby Arassuil » Thu Jan 05, 2017 2:22 pm

I drive by every now and then. I apparently had an email alert on this thread letting me know it is active.
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