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

Re: Kin-Strife

Postby elora » Sun Jul 22, 2018 4:56 am

Minas Anor – June 1444

As mayhem broke out around the square, Halvarin and a couple of the men who had tried to fight their way through to Amarwen at the house during the arrests moved as fast as they could. The crowd between them and the scaffolding was dense and it took time they could not spare to reach her now. When he saw the executioner raise his axe to take the swing, Halvarin cried out in horror and despair for it seemed that his wife would be beheaded before his very eyes.

An arrow loosed from the wall of the next level struck the executioner in the neck and he fell backwards. His axe slipped from his dying grip. This emboldened the crowd and some tried to force their way up to rescue Amarwen. The remaining guard managed to keep them at bay.

When Michas led a force down from the second level, some of the soldiers of the first level chose to fight them. Most, though, soon surrendered their arms. They had no appetite for a battle such as this, against their fellow kinsmen. Back at the square, Sarael found a way to winnow through the press and up to the scaffold itself. She was first to Amarwen’s side and ferocious in fending off any that sought to do her mistress harm. Halvarin and the men with him were not far behind and as they lay Amarwen down on the scaffolding, it was apparent her life was in danger from more than an axe to her neck.

When he saw Michas, Halvarin cried out ”Michas! To me!”

Michas turned and waved his men forward before he turned and came to the scaffolding. Halvarin grasped his wrist and Michas did likewise as he said, ”This will be a memorable day in Gondor, my friend!”

”I wish I shared your optimism. It may well be the end of Gondor as we know it!”
Halvarin replied and looked over to where Sarael kneeled by Amarwen’s side. ”Do we hold the Healing House?” he asked, expecting the answer to confirm his worst fears.

Michas, however nodded. ”We hold all the levels above.”

“Then I place you in overall command here. I recommend that you attempt to root out any Castamirians who remain… those Black Scouts in particular, before they go to ground once more. And reinforce the gates, for I believe our victory will soon be tested in all out assault. Siege comes and we must be ready for it.”

There was so much more to do and say but when Halvarin turned back to glance to Sarael he took in the grief upon her face. No time! No time!

”I need to tend to my wife.”

Michas urged him, ”Leave this to me! Go!”

Michas waved to a unit commander to reinforce the gates as Halvarin rushed to where Amarwen lay. She was so very pale and ghostly. He beckoned to two soldiers that were nearby.”You two, help me!”

Halvarin removed his cloak and spread it out beside Amarwen, ”Lay her upon it for she must go up to the Healers!”

The two soldiers lifted her between them. As they shifted her over to lay her atop Halvarin’s cloak, he chided them anxiously, ”Gently does it!”

Together, they stood and lifted Amarwen upon Halvarin’s cloak. It was then an arrow came from above, shot from afar. It narrowly missed Halvarin and Amarwen both. The fletching feathers cut through the sleeve of Sarael’s dress and her forearm started to bleed. Halvarin pointed up in the direction the arrow had come and already soldiers were running to the area on the fourth level. Halvarin motioned the soldiers to move, and two more joined to clear a way to the rampart up to the higher levels.

”Sarael, come! Amarwen has need of you and you need seeing to yourself!” Halvarin declared and they made their way up the rampart towards the Healing House.

They moved as fast as caution permitted and in due time were escorted to a room in the far corner of the sprawling House. An elderly woman was soon on hand, springing almost from nowhere, and looked Amarwen over with an experienced eye. A wave of her arm brought yet more to tend Amarwen. These women brought with them warm water.

”We will tend her but you must wait outside!” the old woman declared, imperious in her domain.

Halvarin reluctantly did as asked, but Sarael stood her ground, ”I am here to see to this woman. The fact that I too am wounded will have me stay here by her side. You cannot expel someone who needs attending.”

The healer peered impatiently at Sarael and saw she was in need of attention but she could not afford to have any underfoot that were not required.

”If you care for this woman, you will fetch me some hot water, quickly!”

Sarael left the room and went in search of hot water but if the healer thought it would keep Sarael out of her way, she was wrong. Two servants carrying steaming pots of water followed her back to where Amarwen lay for Sarael knew that Amarwen held the key knowledge in raising the resistance. She would not leave her side now even if she desperately tried to piece together all she could of what Amarwen had told her of. So much information shared, discussed and picked over, but not once had Amarwen divulged her true identity. What else, Sarael wondered, had her mistress kept from her?

~ ~ ~

Minas Ithil – June 1444

Aldamir tried to take in all the reports the runners were bringing him. Osgiliath was secured, and Vinyarion prepared its defence even as he sent a regiment east to assure the road to Minas Ithil was clear for them to move their forces as needed. He also freed up the Gondorians so they could move toward Minas Anor where things were not nearly so settled.

Vilmaith only paused long enough in Minas Ithil to receive instruction from Aldamir to keep her Rhovanions marching south through Ithilien, for word had come that a large Harondorian army was pushing up from the Poros Crossing. It was essential that they hold the east bank of the river, and so the relief of the outnumbered South Ithilien army was needed.

It seemed for the moment they had the element of surprise on the usurper, but he knew the onslaught would come soon. Even with the cities of Osgiliath, Minas Ithil, and Minas Anor secured, there was no time for celebration. The ballista forts were contested and the plans to have them secured or destroyed had run in to difficulty unforseen. Communications did not work as well as had been planned and already word had come from Ithilien that ships have been spotted making their way up river from Pelargir. Everything was happening so fast. And they were without Amarwen. Aldamir did not know where she was. There was talk that she had perished in the uprising of Minas Anor but he had heard that before. Should he wait? Should he press forward? Aldamir did not know and he could not shake the nagging doubt that he had erred in not bringing Amarwen with him when he had last quit Minas Anor.
User avatar
Ranger of the North

Posts: 3432
Joined: Sun May 13, 2001 4:31 pm
Location: Dancing twixt southern stars

Re: Kin-Strife

Postby elora » Sun Jul 22, 2018 5:03 am

Minas Anor – June 1444

A day had passed and Minas Anor held on, barely. Already the Usurper’s fist was drawing around them and still Amarwen had not stirred. Halvarin had remained where he had been dispatched, just outside the chamber his wife had been set in. She was gripped with a terrible fever that would not break no matter how the healers struggled. An infection arising, he had heard the healer say, from the desperate conditions in which she had been forced to deliver their child. A son or daughter, alive or dead, he did not know. Sarael too remained. She held a dampened cloth to Amarwen’s brow in a desperate bid to hold the ferocious fever somewhat at bay.

He could hear the voices inside as they debated what to do and it occurred to him that perhaps not all the healers wanted Amarwen to survive. She had been identified not long after arriving and he’d been watching ever since for assassins. They’d not given up so easily now that she was revealed. Michas had come and gone in this time, always bearing questions. Questions, Halvarin guessed, that Michas did not wish to have to explain to him. Their exchanges had been brief and Michas had soon ducked away. But now he was coming again and the news, whatever it was, wasn’t good. It showed in his face as he approached Halvarin.

”No change?” Michas inquired and Halvarin shook his head.

Michas paused to try and peer into the room himself. ”She’s given us a lot,” he said, ”But what if it isn’t enough?”

Halvarin looked at his friend sharply, ”Do not give her up as dead yet!”

Water dripped as the cloth they held to her brow was dampened again. Amarwen’s skin was so hot it seemed to be sucking the water out as soon as the cloth was returned to her forehead.

Michas grimaced, ”The fever grows ever worse. There is no telling when or if it will break.”

Halvarin stared at him, haunted by recollections of men he had encountered. A virulent pestilence had once ripped through a crew with such severity that it had killed half of them. Of the survivors, a third were so addled that they could not even remember their own names. This is what Michas alluded to and Halvarin knew his concerns were valid.

”It won’t be like that,” he insisted as Sarael came to the door, drawn by their discussion.

Her arm had been bandaged and she had not left Amarwen’s side until now.

Michas’ expression was haunted, ”But something needs to be done before we lose this city and this war. We need what is in her head, Hal, and we need it now.”

“I know!”
Halvarin returned, his voice hoarse with grief and fatigue. He lifted his hands to his face and said into them, ”I do not know what to do.”

“I do,”
Sarael said and with that she walked off, leaving Michas and Halvarin staring after her.

”Great,” Michas said flatly and shook his head, dismissing Sarael’s abrupt departure, ”I’m going to send word to Aldamir. We need him here.”

Halvarin nodded, peering after Sarael, and Michas clapped him on the shoulder, ”And you need to sleep. You’re dead on your feet.”

“I’m not leaving.”

“Of course you’re not,”
Michas muttered, more to himself as he turned away, ”Why would you ever listen to me?”

Halvarin leaned against the wall to Amarwen’s room and pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes. A wave of fatigue washed over him and he pushed it away only to be buffeted by another. And then another. It was some time later when Halvarin woke to find himself rolled in a field swag. Michas and Sarael were crouched nearby, muttering over a pile of books but what drew Halvarin was the sound of another’s voice coming from his wife’s room. He pushed himself to his feet and peered through to find the room strangely empty of all save Amarwen and Aldamir.

The Crown Prince, leaned over the bed. His eyes were closed and his hand was pressed to Amarwen’s brow as he murmured in a low, almost singsong voice. Amarwen was very still, very pale, her skin slick with sweat. In the hall, Michas and Sarael’s discussion rolled on.

“I don’t see how any of this is of use to us,” Michas said, dejected. Halvarin turned to see his friend toss one of the books back onto the pile between him and Sarael.

Sarael pluck it up, almost protective ”Of course they are! The Lady was most insistent that I keep them close to hand and it is a rare stroke of fortune that someone thought to fetch them out when they fled the residence.”

It was then that Halvarin realised that they were debating Amarwen’s journals. That she kept them was no surprise to him. That she’d given them to Sarael to keep safe…that…stung. He said nothing of it as Michas flipped a journal open. His eyes devoured a page and then he leafed to another and another.

”It’s all in code,” he said declared, ”Useless unless she is able to unravel it. I don’t know it, you don’t know it. The prince doesn’t either.”

Aldamir, the man his wife had been set to marry before the outbreak of Gondor’s kinstrife, had read Amarwen’s journals before he had. That, too stung and Halvarin looked back to where Aldamir tried to coax Amarwen back to them.

”Maybe Halvarin can make sense of it,” Sarael said. She straightened from her crouch with a journal in hand and extended it towards him.

”Unlikely,” Michas muttered but then shrugged, ”Anything’s worth a shot now, though.”

Halvarin took the journal from Sarael and flipped it open to see the code for himself. It looked…Sarael and Michas both exchanged perplexed glances when Halvarin started to chuckle. He knew that code. Oh, Amarwen, he thought to himself. She had created all her journals and given them to Sarael, using a code that only he would know and understand.

”You magnificent woman,” he murmured as he scried what she had recorded in the hand they had used to communicate with each other, secretly, many years ago now. That she had used it at all was a declaration of such trust that it made his earlier thoughts shrink and vanish.

Pushing a rising sense of pride aside, Halvarin focused on what Amarwen had set down. In meticulous detail, she had recorded each property they had acquired over the years, its intended use and purpose. He saw Pelargir, Minas Anor, Harlond, Osgiliath. Farms, buildings, businesses, houses, warehouses, mills, some forest. He flipped a couple of pages. There he saw a list of names, partisans she had employed and embedded in their various businesses. A summary estimate of their strength in key locations. Recommended deployment lines to move them about along expected fronts. A few pages later, an account of the various defensive measures protecting a key supply cache along with a detailed inventory of its contents.

Halvarin closed the journal with a snap, ”Fetch me maps. I’ll start there.”

“You can read them?”
Sarael asked, flummoxed, ”I’ve lost count of the times I have tried and failed.”

“You and, upon a time, a portion of the royal family,”
Halvarin said archly but nodded, ”I can read them. She ensured it was so.”

At that, hope returned to Michas’ face. He grinned at Halvarin. ”I hope you don’t mind, Hal, but I love your wife.”

Michas set off with new purpose to hunt out maps and once he had them, Halvarin got to work transcribing the coded information in Amarwen’s journals to the maps. It took hours and he was bent over a table lit by a guttering candle before it was done. His back ached and his hand was cramped as he leaned back. Michas shuffled the maps back and forth.

”Manwe’s beard, Hal, just look at this,” he said in a hushed voice.

Halvarin rose to his feet and knuckled his back. He stretched, joints popped but still fatigue sat over him like a wet, heavy blanket.

“These are defensive positions,” Michas said, preoccupied with the maps before them, ”And these… offensive positions.”

“Presuming we have the numbers to occupy and hold them,”
Halvarin yawned widely, ”She has enlistment rolls that should give us a rough estimate. I’ll start on those soon.”

Michas rubbed at his lower face and lifted his eyes to Halvarin, ”She’s mapped out a plan for the war. I’ll admit, over the years, I’ve found myself wondering if she was suitable for the position she had been placed in.”

“This speaks for itself,”
Halvarin replied and Michas nodded.

”Explains why she never deigned to answer beyond a roll of her eyes when the question arose.”

At the door a throat was cleared. Halvarin and Michas turned to find Aldamir there. The Prince was wan, wearied.

”The fever…it has broken,” he said, his voice quiet with relief, ”It has broken.”

Despite his exhaustion, Halvarin pushed past Aldamir to go to his wife’s side. She had yet to wake but she had moved and rolled to her side. On the narrow space left, Halvarin lay himself down and curved his body around that of his wife.

Amarwen smelt of the old, damp stones of the prison and blood. But she was alive and that was all that mattered in that moment.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The wetnurse was terrified. If Alenna made a sound, they’d find them. And, now that Alenna’s mother was revealed to be a traitor, the fate of her infant daughter would not be merciful. Larial clung to child in her arms and prayed the infant would not wake. Alenna was, she had found, a good baby. She slept soundly. Fed regularly and well. A very good baby. But time drew close for the next feeding. Larial knew this for she ached with the need to suckle the child. It throbbed through her insistently. Alenna would soon stir at the smell the milk and then they would be discovered.

She could hear boots as men marched past, patrolling. Searching. Rooting out trouble. Anyone who didn’t belong. She’d taken refuge here in this cellar when it had become clear that Alenna’s mother was to be executed. Larial did not know what had happened aside from the fact that the violence that descended had been bloody, brutal and swift. She had peeked through the cellar doors to see if was safe to emerge only to find the square was filled with troops. She did not dare reveal her presence to ask whom they served. For even if they did not want Alena’s mother dead, they would want Alenna back. And Larial did not know if she could bear the loss of another baby.
User avatar
Ranger of the North

Posts: 3432
Joined: Sun May 13, 2001 4:31 pm
Location: Dancing twixt southern stars

Re: Kin-Strife

Postby elora » Mon Sep 10, 2018 12:56 am

Minas Anor

Michas and Sarael studied the deciphered maps before setting out to put Amarwen’s plans in motion. They had to act fast, for all was in motion now. Battle was at hand.

”Lady Amarwen’s planning and your deciphering these maps and names has given us an advantage, but we must act swiftly! Sarael will come with me and we will make sure this is managed. Remain with your wife, Han!”

Halvarin nodded, ”Get all in hand as soon as can be. Inform them the Northern Regional Commander of Gondor supports Eldacar! There is no need for secrecy now.”

With that, he turned his attention back to Amarwen. Michas and Sarael made their way down to the gate of Minas Anor, and seeing a host of soldiers marching from Osgiliath, Michas knew they would have strength to repulse any hasty counterattack the units loyal to Castamir could muster. The key was the river. Michas asked the Regimental commander at the gates if any word had come from Harlond. He needed to know how things were shaping up on the river.

”I need runners. Take a message across the river. Seek the army of Ithilien and tell them we hold Minas Anor and the fighting is now in Harlond. We can hold for now but we must take the river bend!”

The two runners repeated the message and they set out to the river. The river bank was a hive of activity as the resistance stirred into action. Michas was astonished to see the partisan cells were self-sufficient. They fought for the siege engines as if it were their lives. And perhaps it was, for if they did not take the siege engines in the Harlond, Michas thought the rive was as good as lost. Just as it had been the last time.

He marvelled to see the partisans holding their own. That they did he could only ascribe to another of Amarwen’s ingenious failsafes. But now it fell to him to string together some sort of chain of command. Time and again, he found himself dealing with demands for verification. Not of his authority, but that he acted at the behest of Amarwen. Fortunately, Sarael proved her worth in this regard. She knew the watch words and Michas began to discern something of how Amarwen had structured the resistance. The military units she left to her husband and other officers such as himself. The citizens, however, she had organised and Sarael was her chief lieutenant.

The day closed with the resistance holding everything north of Harlond. Forces loyal to Castamir regrouped south of the forts where they held the road. The preparation for the expected counterattack went ahead full pace as they blockaded the road south. Once they eliminated the Castamirians in Harlond, Eldacar would hold the north of all Gondor.

To sea

Silas could tell Captain Carlin was displeased the moment the man clambered onto his deck.

”My brother’s daughter is back there and we’re skulking like pirates out to sea!”

“Which is exactly what she told us to do,”
Silas countered once they were safely ensconced in his cabin.

Carlin scowled as he crossed his arms. Burly biceps, tanned a deep colour by years spent under the sun, bulged.

”I don’t like it. I didn’t like it then and I still don’t.”

Hiding from the fight didn’t sit well with Silas either, but he thought Carlin’s niece had a salient point. He jabbed a finger at the boards above.

”We press this fight and we’ll have mutiny on our hands. Enough ships balk, we’ll have open battle. Far from shore.”

Carlin unfurled his arms and his chair creaked as he leaned forward towards Silas. ”Those blackguards murdered my brother and slaughtered his wife under the flag of parley. You say the shore is far away and I say well and good. It’s time to send these dogs to the graves they so sorely deserve.”

“Your niece is counting on us to sap Castimir’s naval strength. She needs us out of the fight, scuppering his one clear advantage. If we press into battle and fail to hold command over our ships, we hand the usurper the one thing she’s trying to keep from his grasp.”

“I want blood!”

“You’ll betray your own kin for it?”

“She’ll thank me in the end.”

Silas mopped a hand over his face. Carlin, it seemed, was adamant and if he lost that Captain’s support, Silas was not sure he could hold the others. Ships were still arriving, though it was down to two or three a day. They had a reasonable sized flotilla gathered now. If enough of it held, it could be used to harry Castimir’s navy. Amarwen had chosen to do without it over risking having it declare for the Usurper and bolster his strength.

But it was a big gamble. Most of the captains and a majority of the crew were unaligned. To declare for Castimir or Eldacar was a big leap. One that could be their downfall.

”Your niece won’t be thanking you if we fail.”

Carlin shrugged. ”If we fail, won’t none of us be left alive to deal with the recriminations.”

And so the die was set. Either Castamir would find himself beset with a renegade portion of his own fleet or once again, Eldacar would lose the river to the Usurper’s superior naval forces.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Minas Anor

The first thing Amarwen noticed was how bright it was. Sunlight streamed down, flooding the room she found herself in. She blinked against the influx of light, her vision blurred. Slowly it resolved to reveal a simple chamber. She lay in a bed. It seemed significant. She did not know how or in what way.

As she tried to unravel this conundrum, she heard the high pitched voice of a child.


That, she recognised, was a word that meant mother but before she could find the child’s mother he had clambered onto the bed and wrapped his arms and legs around her. Jealous. Ferocious. Determined. His face was pressed to her chest and he squeezed as if he feared she would vanish. Amarwen frowned and then it hit her. She was the mother. This was her child. Her son. There was another. Another child. Taken. Where? Who? Where was her child? Dread washed over her. Panic made her breathing speed. The child that clung to her peered up, troubled by her distress, and then there was a man beside her bed. He pressed his hand to her brow.

”Be at ease,” he murmured to her, ”Rest. You are still weak. It is all in hand, my love.”

“Where is my-“

the man said, leaning close to press his lips to her temple. She struggled against what rose within her but in the end, it was far stronger than she was.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Aldamir watched awareness flee Amarwen. With it went her panic and disorientation. It was still too early to say whether her fever had scoured her mind free from all the memories that made her who she was. He stood in the doorway, observing for a moment longer as her son stroked his mother’s face. The lad was so young for the turmoil that surrounded him. And there was another, son or daughter, they had yet to locate. The strife that had pulled her family asunder was the same strife that had dealt the death knell to their own bond.

She was still so beautiful to him and what she had accomplished here was nothing short of astounding. He was so proud of her...and so relieved that she had somehow managed to survive the peril that had seen the rest of her family and so many others meet their graves. He chose to focus on that, rather than on what might have been had this strife never come to pass. Her son was fretted now and Aldamir watched the lad’s father set a hand to the boy’s shoulder.

”Your mother sleeps. When she sleeps, she grows stronger. She gets better,” Halvarin told him.

Amarwen’s son peered up at his father and then looked back to his mother. This could have been their son, Aldamir thought. He was a gorgeous child. Bright of heart, keen of wit. Movement in the doorway turned Aldamir from his study to find one of Amarwen’s more senior agents. A woman, very young for her position. Aldamir reached for a name. Sarael, he thought.

”We hold our ground,” she reported. ”Michas is establishing a chain of command over the cells that hold the Harlond. The Usurper’s forces are regrouping. The city remains sealed.”

“Any word from Osgiliath?”
he asked.

The young woman shook her head, distracted as she peered past his shoulder and into the room beyond. ”A column of smoke continues to rise. Nothing further.”

Aldamir nodded, ”I have sent word to Minas Ithil. If forces can be spared, they will come. I have need of a man in particular. He is known as the Viper.”

At this the young woman’s attention snapped back to him. ”He is not in the city.”

“On who’s orders?”
Aldamir snapped, vexed.

Sarael swallowed and nodded for the room. ”Standing orders, your Highness, issued by Mistress Mar—Lady Amarwen. He should be en route for Edhellond as we speak.”

Aldamir frowned at this but his scowl cleared. Yes. Edhellond. The traitor. Now he understood. Amarwen had kept the traitor for as long as he served a purpose. Once that purpose had expired, she had all but signed his death warrant. Ruthless, admittedly, but with so many lives in the balance it was also a mercy.

“You know who the traitor is?” he probed the young woman in front of him.

Sarael seemed to weigh her answer before she nodded.
”I worked it out myself. When I did, I took it to....the Lady.”

“She speaks very highly of you. I can understand why.”[/i] Sarael flushed at this praise but Aldamir was not here to flatter young women. ”Does it trouble you that she kept her identity from you?”

At this the woman swallowed and her weight shifted. ”I though she trusted me...If I knew who she was, I wouldn’t have turned her in. Not ever...but...” A devious smile appeared on Sarael’s face, ”To keep that quiet, for so long....that takes...skill.”

The maid tilted her head to one side, ”Is it true you was going to marry her?”

he replied without hesitation, ”But if I had, Gondor would not have had her for never would I have willingly left her behind. And then would we be now?”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


The Viper squinted through the low light. He had no doubt that it was Beregond. What the traitor was up though, puzzled him. He watched for a little longer and then shrugged. It didn’t matter what the man was up to, he supposed, and the Viper padded forward. His instructions were quite clear. Aldamir’s woman had issued them months ago. Fast, quick, final. Beregond was a fighting man. He could see that from the man’s build. But Beregond was not the Viper. And with this, at long last, his debt to the Prince of Edhellond might finally be extinguished.

It would be, but not in the way the Viper expected, for Beregond proved more of a challenge than the Viper had anticipated. He prevailed, but at great cost. The Elf dragged himself to the nearest sandy strand. So long ago he had come here, seeking release. Never had he made it across the seas. And never would he. Not in corporeal form, at least, for his body was found cooling by the hide tide mark by one of the local fishers.

Puzzled, for Elves had abandoned the havens of Edhellond since the outbreak of civil strife, he collected the body up and brought it before Edhellond’s Lord and Lady. They took one look at it and made a declaration that saw the harbour closed, sea chain raised, and all Guild ships caught ashore fired.

War had returned to Gondor

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


As Edhellond braced itself for the onslaught, Vinyarion reviewed his troops. It was almost night fall but the dull glow that burned around Minas Anor demanded a response. He left a sizeable contingent behind to secure the ruined capitol and receive his grandfather. The King would not be far off now from returning from his exile. With this in mind, Vinyarion issued the final order to march.

The aim was to meet with the forces of Minas Ithil and Minas Anor so as to form a solid barrier to seal the northern provinces of Gondor off from the usurper.
User avatar
Ranger of the North

Posts: 3432
Joined: Sun May 13, 2001 4:31 pm
Location: Dancing twixt southern stars


Return to Writing: The Scriptorium of Imladris

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests