The Rise and Fall of Calimendil, Fifth King of Cardolan

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The Rise and Fall of Calimendil, Fifth King of Cardolan

Postby Celebrimbor32 » Wed Feb 02, 2005 11:06 am

THE RISE AND FALL OF CALIMENDIL, FIFTH KING OF CARDOLAN (as told by one of the lone survivors of the disaster)


“…they have my loyalty, not my love…” ~ Calimendil


In the name of all that I hold sacred I, Iliandor, vassal and advisor to the King, have taken it upon myself to give a written account of the life and death of King Calimendil. Yet I do not do so willingly, for it is a grave and tearful undertaking. Indeed, it is only by request of Amariel, the late Calimendil’s widow and rightful ruler of Cardolan, that I have consented to this, for she greatly desired to have the courageous deeds of her husband recorded for posterity. I promised her I would do so and have now completed my book after much trouble and toil. Oh the tears I have shed unearthing old memories that would have been better to remain dormant for the rest of my years! Yet in doing this I have also regained a sense of pride and redemption, for long have I blamed myself for failing to do more to dissuade the king from his path of war and ruin. Alas! What a ruin it was! I, myself was there to witness the King’s own death, as well as his two sons within the vastness of the Ettenmoors. My own death seemed near at hand soon afterwards. Yet by fate or some other contrivance that cannot be explained, I and two others only escaped the horrible tragedy that summer evening of the year 1319.

I have, moreover, dealt with these matters in such a way so as to pay due honor to a remarkably misunderstood man who ascended to the kingship most unexpectedly and with utmost humility. The usurpers who now infest Dol Calantir and sit in idleness as civil war threatens to tear apart Cardolan have succeeded largely in poisoning the legacy that Calimendil has left behind him.

The reputation of a fallen king is a thing to be both nurtured and preserved. Yet my king was granted neither love nor loyalty from the greater part of his subjects during his rein on the throne. He was mocked, stabbed and poisoned by his foes and detractors. Yet the great Calimendil endured their attempts to end his life.

The year 1320 marked the year of detriment and degradation for my country. It was the turning point in the final chapter of the fate of Cardolan. The death of the king and his sons, and the subsequent expulsion of the Queen at the hands of the rival princes served as a catalyst to plunge the country into a maelstrom of confusion and corruption. Chaos was a perfection when compared to our present state of order. Nobles from all corners of the realm now call the once magnificent court of Dol Calantir their home as they vie for power with one another. They concealed not at all their mutual hatred for their king and sovereign after his death, for Calimendil succeeded in limiting their influence and authority as no other king before him had done.

Yet they hated me no less, for jealousy breeds contempt. Many of the nobles and princes of the realm had anticipated an immediate promotion among them to fill the vacant post of Advisor to the King. Yet their hopes were dashed. Following the death of King Tarandil, Calimendil sought me out and begged me to remain in my post, as I had been in close friendship with his late father. I accepted his offer on the spot, thus earning many enemies.

Being ten years older than he and having had experience in dealing with meddling nobles under the tutelage of Tarandil, Calimendil was glad to receive my service. He knew full well what danger they posed to his throne in such a troublesome time. Though the war and the brunt of the troubles posed by Angmar to the north were still in the years to come, perils existed aplenty throughout the lands. Arthedain was relentless in their attempts to squeeze out any competition for control of Amon Sul and peppered the estates of Cardolan with her spies. Their king was Celebrindor, a cunning, well-intentioned man. Yet he was callous and over-bearing in his dealings with Cardolan.

Rhudaur was gradually adopting a policy of non-conformity with her two sister-realms. They became increasingly more isolated and often spoke against the intentions of both Arthedain and Cardolan. Yet they persisted in their claim upon the tower of Amon Sul. The Dunedain there had by then dwindled to a small number, though they still held the fortress of Cameth Brin and the village beneath it at the time.

Their king was Ermegil. Tarandil came to detest this man for his unruly behavior and his patronage and fondness for the city of Tharbad, which Tarandil loathed. He charged that Ermegil sought to encourage uprisings and revolts in Cardolan’s largest city to distract his attention from the complications around Amon Sul; and he was right. Dunlendings from Dunland began to take up residency in Tharbad, many of them joining the town guilds therein. The traffic upon the river Metheithel began to double during Tarandil’s rein. Boats and vessels made their way downstream from Rhudaur to Tharbad bearing heavy loads and they were manned with men from strange origins.

It is Calimendil’s quarrel and war with Rhudaur that my tale herein recounts.

Let me not get ahead of myself. In order to understand the complexity of a man’s character we must start with his earliest years and go forward. Calimendil was the third child of Tarandil and Elenarian. His brother Vorondil was the oldest followed soon afterwards by Arriana, his sister. The two siblings were very close even from the earliest days of their childhood and were seldom parted. The birth of Calimendil followed most unexpectedly seven years after Arriana in the year 1172. Like his siblings he was born at court in Dol Calantir, though he received scant attention from the people, for he was third in line to the throne behind his siblings. Later he was noted of saying that he felt he was also third in line for his father’s love.

In his youth Calimendil was generally a reserved boy who sought out the company of his mother more so than his father. From Elenarian he was bestowed with the gifts of humility, compassion and generosity. He soon acquired many interests such as fencing, horseback riding, and music, the latter talent having been taught to him by his mother. Indeed, he became skilled on the lute and harp and possessed a fine voice for singing. It was not for nothing that he was later referred to as the ‘Minstrel-King’ by his people. As a prince he would often fail to show up at royal meetings of rule and law in favor of going about with the King’s musicians to the estates and manors of other nobles. This would often incur the wrath of his father, yet Calimendil did not care much back then. And why should he? Whenever he was chastised for his absence he would chide, “Let my brother look to it! He is the King’s Heir, not I!”

Calimendil’s relationship with his brother Vorondil was a happy one in their early years. Being nearly ten years the elder, Vorondil was protective of his little brother even from the beginning. He taught Calimendil how to ride his first horse, how to fire an arrow with a bow, how to tell poisonous plants from edible ones, how to track a stag in the wild, and how to predict the weather using old Dunedain methods. Vorondil also taught his brother how to fight with his fists and how to watch his back among the thieves and cutthroats of Tharbad. Yet in the end he failed to follow his own advice and thus he paid the ultimate price for it, which we shall see later...
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Postby Celebriel_Esgaledhel » Wed Feb 02, 2005 2:14 pm

I've copied an pasted this so to read it better. I shall post my thoughts in the near future :D Looks good already, Cel!
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Postby Celebrimbor32 » Wed Feb 02, 2005 10:53 pm

Thanks a bunch, Celeb! Constructive advice is always welcome from you or anyone else. :) I'll try and post a little more in a week or so.
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Postby rowanberry » Fri Feb 04, 2005 6:24 am

At least the beginning looks good, more clear and coherent than the first version. :thumbsup: I'll wait for a couple more parts until I elaborate more on anything.
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Postby Celebriel_Esgaledhel » Sat Feb 05, 2005 12:49 pm

Well, although I liked the last version, I must say that this is the better, as it has more of a voice and gives a clearer picture of who the narrator is. Last time, I assumed he was a scribe, but now we see that he is more. I agree with Rowan - I will wait for the next couple instalments before I say much more.
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Postby Celebrimbor32 » Mon Feb 07, 2005 11:20 am

...The two sons of the king and queen were seldom parted from one another in those years. Their life at the king’s court was a good one. Vorondil was overjoyed at Calimendil’s birth and would have even been present as his mother gave birth to him had he been allowed to. He had finally received the brother and companion he had wished for. Yet their relationship waned as the years went by, and by the time the two brothers had reached the early stages of manhood they were estranged. When they became full princes they lived on opposite ends of the realm. The reasons for the estrangement are numerous and mostly petty, yet the culprits of the tension lay in jealousy, competition and, more significantly, the rivalry for their sister’s attention.

Arriana was always a mysterious character to me. She was as loyal a daughter any parent could wish for, yet she also possessed a mischievous nature. She loved both her brothers dearly in the early days, yet her bond with Vorondil was always the stronger. To amuse herself she would at times play one brother off against the other to achieve her desire. Yet ere long Calimendil became wise to her schemes and tired of the chase. In one instance he betrayed her confidence by informing their father of Arriana’s plan to secretly visit Tharbad with some servants. Tarandil hated the city and forbade her from visiting it and took measures thereafter to prevent her from going there. Long did she bear a grudge against Calimendil for his betrayal. For his part Calimendil began to regard his sister with stoic indifference. Their relationship became marred and was never to fully mend again.

As the children of the king grew and matured each of them became engrossed in their own interests. As the eldest child and heir of the king, Vorondil was required to rule over his own province in Cardolan. He chose therefore to make his dwelling within the castle and watchtower that was then called Dol Argond. That tower was constructed many ages before by the engineers of Elendil to serve as an outpost and sanctuary for weary travelers and merchants. It sat upon a tall bank nigh the river Metheithel and commanded a wide view of the river and the lands across from it. Yet when Vorondil settled there he had built anew two tall towers that looked to both the north and west, and between all three towers there was a high wall of stone to protect it from invasion. Thus Dol Argond was transformed from a lone tower into a solid fortress. All traffic upon the river was watched closely by Vorondil and his guard and not a few vessels flowing down from the north were seized by his men and confiscated ere they were able to reach Tharbad. As king, Calimendil would likewise follow suit, yet he went even further by closing off all traffic along the river into Tharbad in order to starve the malicious guildsmen therein.

Arriana was a silent voice at that time and remained so for some time thereafter, until a scandal thrust her forward into public gossip. For the most part she remained with her mother and father at court, save when she would go about among the fields and woods of Cardolan with Vorondil.

Calimendil enjoyed the court of Dol Calantir and all that it had to offer. He loved its lush gardens and fountains, its tall trees of oak, ash, and maple, and especially its ladies and maidens fair. When the sun was riding high and leisure would permit it he was to be found in the king’s libraries or among the king’s minstrels. Yet when the moon took its turn in the sky he favored stargazing and serenading. Often he would pluck the strings of his harp and sing under the window of a lovely lass as she slept in offer of his courtship. Calimendil lived a fruitful life in the early years of his manhood. It was a happy time for him, as he would later confide to me as we marched to war together in Rhudaur.

His only regret was that he took those joyful years for granted...
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Postby Celebrimbor32 » Fri Feb 11, 2005 12:13 pm

When Calimendil had reached his full manhood he took his leave of the court and removed to his own estate in the north of the realm among the rolling hills and downs. He became prince and lord of his manor, which was known as Metraith. It was there he would set up his own network of spies and cavalrymen to roam the northern countryside from the old road in the west, that ran north and south through the realm, to the Metheithel in the east. In particular he was required by the king to supply fresh steeds to the Cardolani horsemen upon the fortress of Amon Sul. In this way Calimendil learned much about horse breeding and became a skilled rider in his day. During the years of relative peace many a young nobleman would ride to Metraith to compete in contests of skill upon horseback with Calimendil. Most of the time they would lose.

Now it happened that it the year 1191 Calimendil was summoned by his father to appear at Dol Calantir. Yet he tarried on the way thither, halting to visit and dine with local peasants that dwelt along the Nen-i-Sul, which was that river that ran north to south through the mid-section of Cardolan. The river scarcely exists now, for it was dammed up by the orcs that roamed the north at will after the war(*), for the warriors of Arthedain seldom venture south of Amon Sul now that our two realms are estranged. Yet once it was Cardolan’s main waterway, which ran its course through the court of Dol Calantir ere it joined the Gwathlo. In its day it was a beautiful bubbling stream that was lined on either side by willow trees that were planted by Elendil’s people long before. Many farmers and sheperds relied on it for water for their herds and flocks. When the orcs fouled its waters and dammed it up the livestock of the people soon perished and the peasantry fled. Many of the stones that were used for the dam were taken from Calimendil’s own estate, Metraith, which, alas, the orcs of the mountains destroyed during their warpath.

When Calimendil arrived at Dol Calantir he found his reception from the King a cold one. To his surprise, his brother Vorondil, whom he had not seen for some time, had also received the summons. When at last the two brothers stood before the King and Queen they were commanded that they should go both together to the court of Fornost Erain. Now that fortress was where the king of Arthedain made his abode and stronghold. It lay not less than 200 leagues and 20 to the north as the crow flies from Dol Calantir. Celebrindor, King of Arthedain, had sent them an invitation to come and visit their neighbor to the north as a gesture of goodwill and friendship between Arthedain and Cardolan.

Here I must describe in brief the political circumstances of Arnor during that period. Arnor consisted of Arthedain to the north, Rhudaur to the east, and Cardolan to the south. Rhudaur had long since become an unreliable ally. Both Arthedain and Cardolan looked upon that country with suspicion, for Ermegil, King of Rhudaur, sought to break up the alliance over the disputed ownership of Amon Sul, which all three realms coveted. The tower of Amon Sul stood upon the highest hilltop in the land and lay upon the boundary of the three sister-realms. Ermegil was a jealous, impatient, a-- of a man who resented the uniform propriety that was expected of him by his irksome neighbors. Ever he would complain to Arthedain and Cardolan that Rhudaur was underrepresented at Amon Sul, and he suspected that if his two neighbors continued to prosper together they would unite and plot to overthrow him. Not long after, he began to neglect his ancient duty as king to attend the summits between the three realms, and instead began to forge new and secret friendships with men from strange origins. He was the first ruler among the Dunedain to do this. I will mention him again later, yet for now I will go back to my tale.

At that time both Arthedain and Cardolan enjoyed a somewhat warm, though often unstable, alliance. Tarandil had continued to forge close ties with Celebrindor, but their relationship fell under strain over the disputed ownership of the tower of Amon Sul, and especially the legendary seeing-stone that was housed therein. It was not until recently that these artifacts, for there were several seeing stones, were even known to exist, save among the wise. They were called Palantiri in the elven tongue. I, of course, knew of their existence, for I was one of the king’s personal advisors and thus deep in Tarandil’s confidence. Tarandil rightly claimed that since Arthedain already possessed one Palantir of their own in the city of Annuminas they had no right to claim the seeing-stone at Amon Sul. Rhudaur was far too unstable a country to be trusted with its guardianship. Therefore Cardolan ought to have parental rights to it. But the Palantir housed at Amon Sul was the largest of all the stones and possessed the greater power, and Arthedain would not, under any condition, consent to relinquish its haughty claim to it. Nor would they suffer it to be removed from Amon Sul to Dol Calantir, which many of the nobles of Arthedain suspected Tarandil would do if Cardolan were to possess the stone. They reasoned that Dol Calantir sat within close proximity to the city of Tharbad, and thus bringing it dangerously near to the mischievous, unruly lords that dwelt there. They insisted that the stone remain within the tower where, of old, Elendil had placed it. It was the beginning of the years of quarrels and failed negotiations between the sister-realms of old Arnor; a hopeless paradox that would never be solved, and it tore apart the alliance.

When Calimendil and Vorondil learned of their new errand they were glad indeed, for both desired to see the fortress of Fornost Erain. It was the mightiest of all the castles in the west of Middle-earth and stood as a source of pride, strength, culture and trade among all the Dunedain in the north. The fact that neither of the two brothers had been aware that they would be travelling together was, according to Calimendil, a cunning contrivance of their mother, Elenarian. It was crucial for the future of Cardolan that both the king’s heirs maintain a positive relationship with one another after their parents were laid to rest in the tombs of Tyrn Gorthad.

Therefore, Tarandil proclaimed to his two sons that they would be away from the realm for one year, adding, “I have sent word to Celebrindor that you shall be his guests, for he has invited you to his court as a token of friendship; or so he claims. Loath was I to comply with his request by sending both my sons to him at once, but I will not allow my two greatest princes to become estranged, for you are my heirs and are bound to one another by blood. It is for the good of your brotherhood and the future of Cardolan’s survival amid the troubled times ahead, or so I deem them to be.”

It was only later that Calimendil discovered that, in truth, only Vorondil had been offered the invitation from Celebrindor, but Elenarian insisted that Calimendil be allowed to go as well...

(*) author's note - the War of Rhudaur and Cardolan in 1343. Not to be confused with the War of 1409 against Angmar, where Arnor of old was at last broken asunder.
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Postby rowanberry » Sat Feb 12, 2005 11:41 am

Very good. :) It really seems more like it had been written by an ancient chronicler who really was there than the first version.

I just noticed a couple of mistakes that should perhaps be corrected, one for grammar, one because it leads to a wrong idea:

In the beginning of the Feb 7 addition, you've written "son's" when you clearly mean "sons"; probably just a typo.

In the latest part, there's the sentence ... their relationship fell under strain over the disputed ownership of the tower of Amon Sul, and especially the legendary seeing-stones that were housed therein. From that, one gets the impression that there was more than one palantír on Amon Sûl (although it later does come out clearly that there was only one).
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Postby Celebrimbor32 » Mon Feb 14, 2005 10:51 am

Thanks, rowanberry! going back to edit....I hope to have the next installment posted by the end of the week :)
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Postby Celebrimbor32 » Thu Feb 17, 2005 10:16 am

The two brothers arrived at Fornost without incident, despite the long road they took, for in those days the lands were safe and free of brigands and villains. Here they remained for some time, leaving only to visit Annuminas, three day’s ride to the west. That city was renowned in its day; not for its size or strength, but rather for its beauty, its architecture, and it ancestry. It also held great feasts and festivals in autumn that was renowned throughout the land; of these I can attest for myself, for I attended many of them in my earlier years. These festivities drew many travellers from abroad to the city, including dwarves from the mountains and even some elves. It was here that Calimendil’s life would forever be changed.

On the second morning after arriving to Annuminas Calimendil took his leave of Vorondil to make a solo sojourn into the Emyn Uial, the Hills of Twilight. Those hills lie west and a little north of the great Lake of Nenuial nigh the city and were beloved not only by the men of the region, but also by the Eldar, who could be seen roaming the woods under the stars at night by a lucky passer-by.

One evening just after dusk, as Calimendil lay gazing into the heavens in a thicket of tall grass upon a hilltop, he was befriended by the Noldorin elves. Though they wondered much why a man from Minhiriath would travel alone in a far away country, they nonetheless welcomed him, for Calimendil was an elf-friend. He had always loved the elves, though he had seen them only once before as a young man. Calimendil was the last of the old kings to exhibit a genuine affection for the Eldar. My only wish was that he would have later yielded way to the wishes of his wife, in that he should seek the council of the Eldar ere he undertake his chosen war against Rhudaur.

When Calimendil told the Noldor of his origin and that he was the son of the King of Cardolan the elves smiled, as they already seemed to be aware of his identity. For their part, they took him into their party, saying, “Come Calimendil, son of Tarandil! We will show you the wonders of the Emyn Uial. Cast away the burdens and troubles of your mind and rejoice as you gaze upon the wonders of Ea, though this is only a small corner of it to us.” Calimendil was granted the special privilege of remaining in their company for three days, as he later told me. In truth it is unlikely that he was with the elves for that long, for mortal men are apt to loose all sense of time when in the presence of the high elves from the Old World. Nevertheless, the Noldor sang for him and gave him two gifts ere they departed – a harp of silver and a magnificent long sword crafted by the elven smiths long ago in ancient Eregion. The latter item is now lost, deemed to have been taken by the depraved brigands of Rhudaur after the war. Fortunately, the harp is now in the possession of Calimendil’s widow, Amariel, where it shall remain.

After the Noldor had left him Calimendil fell into a peaceful sleep within the woods of the hills. When he awoke he felt as if he had dreamt the entire episode with the elves, but when he saw the two gifts that had been given him he smiled to himself, realising the actuality of it all. He then collected his gifts and hastened back to Annuminas to his story to his brother.

When Vorondil heard the tale of Calimendil and the elves he nearly laughed. But when he saw the harp and the sword that had been given to his brother Vorondil knew that Calimendil had indeed met the elven folk and, for the first time, Vorondil was envious of his younger brother. Not only because Calimendil had accompanied the Noldor in Emyn Uial, but also due to the elven-sword, for it was superior to any blade that Vorondil or any other Cardolani prince possessed. It would be the last time that either one of them would see or meet any of the Eldar while their lives lasted.

Soon afterwards the two brothers departed Annuminas and returned to Fornost Erain, where Celebrindor received them once again. Here they remained for the duration of their stay. Vorondil performed his requisite duties as his father’s heir, making acquaintances and forging friendships with the lords assembled there, for one day he would be the king of Cardolan and would thus have to forge alliances with them. He promised Celebrindor that Tarandil had no greater wish than to maintain close ties between their to realms, and unite together, if necessary, to deal with the unruly Ermegil in Rhudaur.

Calimendil spent much of his time there reading and studying maps, along with sharpening his skills with the sword, the bow, and the lance. But most significantly he made the acquaintance of Amariel, a young noblewoman who resided at Fornost. Being the cousin of King Celebrindor, Amariel enjoyed wide favour with the king and the noblemen. Though there were indeed many fine and exemplary young maidens at the court of Celebrindor, few of them matched the delicate beauty of Amariel. Some rumoured that she possessed elf-blood in her veins, but it was not so. She was a wise yet gentle presence wheresoever she went. As she matured she developed all the charms of young womanhood in beauty of figure and form, sprightliness of mind, and of speech and etiquette. She sang sweetly, spoke Sindarin fluently, and wrote poetry that many poets affected to praise. She would have been a prize for many of the gentlemen that courted her, but in the end she found in none of them the ideal mate which her heart yearned for. Calimendil was quickly smitten with Amariel and, though she sought to hide it, she with him.

Now the father of Amariel was Rathmir, a nobleman and kinsman to Celebrindor. Once he had been an expert tracker and warrior, many times doing battle with the Hillmen of Rhudaur in the east. Yet at the time of Calimendil’s visit to Fornost he had become older and unfit to be a ranger in the wild. Rathmir was as loyal a patriot to the crown of Arthedain as any among him and he greatly desired for his daughter to wed a man of Arthedainindili lineage. Little did it please him to learn of Calimendil and Amariel’s courtship, for Rathmir held lowly opinions of Cardolan and mistrusted them. He therefore asked the king to intervene by declaring a premature end to Vorondil and Calimendil’s stay at Fornost. He sought to convince Celebrindor that they were performing spy-work for Tarandil. But the king refused him at that time....
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Postby Celebriel_Esgaledhel » Tue Feb 22, 2005 4:13 pm

Whew! I haven't been in her for a while :oops: I'm printing off the entire story, so I can do a thorough reading.

I'll pop by later to post my thoughts!
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Postby Celebrimbor32 » Wed Feb 23, 2005 5:46 pm

“Here lieth Elenarian – fairest of Queens, selfless in life, lov’d by all, more gentle than summer. 1200-1265” ~ inscribed upon the tomb of the Queen

I shall turn briefly back to Dol Calantir now. As the two sons of the King and Queen made their names known to the aristocracy of Arthedain in the north, events in Cardolan began to unfold quickly. Rumors throughout the land began to spread that the Queen was seriously ill. I, myself, may vouch that Elenarian looked to be in the pique of health in the autumn of the year 1265, if my memory recollects rightly. She exhibited no signs whatsoever of any illness. I recall her surprise to the wild rumors that were circulating among the folk in southern Cardolan, and particularly Tharbad, by saying, “If I am ill I wish someone more wise than myself would inform me, for I feel as fresh as a new dawn rising in the spring.” To reassure the people, the King sent me out to the nearby towns and into Tharbad to douse the false rumors once and for all.

My stay in Tharbad was prolonged due to inclement weather and the poor condition of the road that lead from Dol Calantir to Tharbad. I was forced to remain in the King’s most hated city for 5 days as I waited for the rains to subside. It seemed plain to me while I was there that Tharbad had already begun its inevitable downward slide from a prosperous and hospitable city to the malevolent oversized slum that it is nowadays. Today it is known more for its spies and thievery than it is for its haven for travelers and merchants. Indeed, during my stay there I was sure I was being followed as I maneuvered through the winding streets and causeways - especially at night, but I managed to elude them. In the end, however, I was able to convince the lords of the city that the Queen of Cardolan was in good health and showed no signs of any illness ere I returned to Dol Calantir.

Shortly after my return to court Vorondil returned from Arthedain, but without the company of Calimendil, who, as he reported to Tarandil, had opted to remain behind at Fornost to “flirt with the maidens there,” as Vorondil explained it. The King was irked at Calimendil’s blatant disregard to his authority and even more so by his son’s lack of propriety and sense of duty as a prince. As punishment, Tarandil rescinded his former offer to fund Calimendil’s construction project at his abode at Metraith upon his son’s return.

During the mid-winter months something happened. The Queen began to show signs of sickness. It seemed like an unwanted, yet anticipated malady that hung over the air of the court and at last descended upon its chosen victim. Elenarian became stricken with fever in the second month of the year 1265 and was confined mostly to her bedchamber during that time. This was an unusual thing to occur among the descendants of the line of old Elendil even in its waning. Her daughter Arriana and Vorondil both attended on the Queen each day as they were permitted. Tarandil went sleepless for days as Elenarian’s condition worsened.

As the Queen grew ever more ill the King became desperate and sent Vorondil and myself into Tharbad to fetch the mayor’s own personal healer and bring him to Dol Calantir. But the healer’s efforts were unsuccessful. During the night the Queen lost consciousness, and on the morning of the eighth day of March Elenarian, Queen of Cardolan, died at last amid a pool of tears and sorrow among all those at court, for she was greatly loved by all.

Tarandil sat alone in the highest chamber of Dol Calantir after his wife had perished and did not speak to anyone. Not even Vorondil or Arriana were allowed to see him. But I at last persuaded the King to speak with me after a great deal of coaxing through his closed door. The anguish upon his face was easily apparent, though his eyes burned with a hidden fire. He pulled me close to him and told me he was convinced that, due to the wild rumors of Elenarian’s illness the previous autumn that she must have been poisoned somehow. He insisted that his wife and Queen had been murdered and his suspicion fell immediately upon the city of Tharbad.

In the days that followed Tarandil sacked nearly half of his servants and sent them away from Dol Calantir for good, for they had lost the trust of the King. Two of them, a cook and a guardsman, he banished from the realm completely. Thereafter he refused to eat a single meal unless his taster had sampled each dish before hand. He was a changed man after the death of Elenarian and he became careless in his conduct as King, at times going about the lands to hunt with only a companion or two. At this time his interest in the affairs to the north at Amon Sul began to wane and his eye became ever more drawn towards the city of Tharbad. He sent his spies out into the city to collect whatever information they could on the many guilds there and even upon the mayor, whose name was Gelharm.

In the late summer of the year of Elenarian’s death Calimendil was still at Fornost spending a great deal of time with Amariel and as yet unaware of the mysterious death of his mother and Queen back home. Yet by mid-summer Tarandil grew wrathful and sent a stern message to his son in Arthedain, telling him of his mother’s death and commanding him to return at once to Dol Calantir. Then Calimendil was abashed for his prolonged absence from Cardolan and made to return home immediately. But he did not wish to leave Amariel and begged her to return with him to Dol Calantir. Her heart yearned to go with him, for by now she had fallen in love with Calimendil. But she refused at that time, not wanting to incur the wrath of her father. Thus Calimendil departed Fornost in early hours of dawn with a heavy heart. Yet before he left Calimendil and Amariel plighted their secret troth, and they withheld their matrimonial plans from all the court of Celebrindor.

Now Elenarian was buried in a high tomb within those downs that are called Tryn Gorthad that lie to the north and west of Dol Calantir. Calimendil sped on by horseback through rain and wind and went straightaway to those mounds. He had no difficulty in locating it. It had been a family burial site for many years and was the largest of the tombs among the many barrows. In great sorrow he remained next to the great steel door of his mother’s tomb for some time and he wept. The door was shut, barring any from entry. But ere long Calimendil collected himself and rode the remaining distance to the court of the King, where he was coolly received by his brother, his sister, and especially the King...
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Postby rowanberry » Thu Feb 24, 2005 12:49 pm

The condensation and the completely different angle of view have really improved the story. At least in my opinion, there was some fluff in the first version; now that you've trimmed that fluff away, the whole thing feels more realistic, as the writer only records the facts, and such things he can have known or has been told about.

In the last two parts, I didn't find anything to correct. Just continue in the same style. :thumbsup:
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Postby Celebrimbor32 » Fri Feb 25, 2005 1:52 am

Thanks again, rowanberry :) Glad you like it. I figured this would be an interesting way to tell the story. I sort of got the idea from an excerpt I read once from a journal of some french knight during the Second Crusade...Also, don't be shy about telling me when you believe I am over indulging in 'fluff'. That goes for anyone else reading my tale, too! I live in fear of 'fluff'!...Fortunately, the ideas are coming to me rapidly as of late and should have another installment posted soon. :idea:
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Postby Celebrimbor32 » Fri Mar 11, 2005 4:55 pm

I had always been fond of Calimendil ever since he was a youngster, wistful dreamer though he was. When he announced to his father of his plans to marry Amariel I was glad indeed, assuming, as did everyone else, that he had already asked for her father’s permission before hand. But it was not so. In the beginning Calimendil neglected to tell anyone, including myself, that Amariel’s father had not even been notified of the betrothal. It had been a poorly kept secret, and probably one of Calimendil’s biggest mistakes at the time. When Tarandil asked his son how he purposed to pull the wedding off without the knowledge of Amariel’s father Calimendil retorted, “I said not that I wished to conceal it from her father. Rather it is my desire to proclaim myself openly to Rathmir and make him see things my way. At any rate it is for the common good of both realms that this union take place.”

After many more months passed Calimendil sent a messenger to Celebrindor asking once again for permission to visit Fornost Erain. Many weeks had come and gone without a reply from the king of Arthedain.

Calimendil passed the time in a state of great uneasiness at Dol Calantir, all the while spending his time making preparations for his return journey to Fornost so that he could again court Amariel. He made a genuine effort to reconcile with the King and his siblings during his stay at court. Though Vorondil quickly forgave his brother for his long absence Arriana would not, and refused to see him. Tarandil was glad indeed to see Calimendil again but refused to nullify his son’s punishment of a royal grant to fund construction on Calimendil’s estate. This angered Calimendil greatly and he announced he would depart Dol Calantir as soon as possible.

One unfortunate incident must now be recounted here ere I go on with the tale, as it had an enormous impact on the future events of Cardolan, though no one, not even myself, could have foreseen it. On the night before Calimendil was due to leave Dol Calantir he was awakened in the night by the sound of a commotion outside his bedroom window. Rising up to see what it might be he opened the shutters to his window and looked out and lo! He beheld two shadowy figures emerging from a thicket of wood near one of the courtyards. By the moonlight Calimendil could see that it was Vorondil and Arriana. They seemed to hold each other’s hand tightly as they stealthily maneuvered through the King’s gardens until they disappeared out of sight around a stone corner.

Looking back and forth among the adjacent windows near his own it appeared that not a single light was on among the rear of the castle. He knew his father had always maintained a guard upon the ramparts at all times, but no one seemed to notice the two shadowy figures outside in the dark.

No one knows what thoughts or suspicions ran through the mind of Calimendil at this perplexing sight, but one might easily guess. But he buried it deep in his mind and spoke of it to no one. Yet the ramifications of it would be felt all too deeply, as was later seen.

The next morning Calimendil made ready to depart and would wait no longer for Celebrindor's permission to enter Arthedain again. Instead he had a fanciful letter drawn up that was laced with kind words of flattery that he would present to the King of Arthedain himself, asking for admittance and quarters where he might stay while he was abroad. In return Calimendil offered his humble services to the crown of Arthedain in whatever fashion Celebrindor saw fit. The letter was even signed by Tarandil.

Calimendil set forth with two companions and rode hard to the north where he arranged to stop at Metraith in order to fetch a bag of gifts he would present to Amariel. But when he arrived back at his estate he found a small company of horsemen waiting for him. They were from the north and bore the emblems of Arthedain on their attire. They were grim, yet mighty men who had been sent from Fornost bearing a message for Calimendil. An entry in Calimendil’s own diary recounts the scene:

“…The company of five men were dress’d in the standard garb of Arthedain and wore helms and chain shirts. They also possess’d long swords at their belts, which they kept one hand on at all times in order to intimidate me. They did not come in token of friendship, as I had at first surmised, but rather to serve me a warning from Amariel’s father, Rathmir. One of the men, who call’d himself Girwaedh, stepp’d forward and gazed at me with unkindness. He proceeded to inform me that word of my matrimonial aspirations with Amariel had reached the ears of her father, and he was not pleased, as Amariel had been pledged to marry Girwaedh of Annuminas…Furthermore, an official ban had been placed upon me that would prohibit me from entering Arthedain until the King will’d it otherwise. If I were caught violating the ban I would be apprehended and treated as a spy…

...At this I fear I lost my temper, for the love that Amariel and I bore one another was more sacred than anything in Middle-earth to me and I would take any measure necessary to preserve it. Thus I immediately call’d for my guards to seize Girwaedh and his men and imprison them until I would speak with the King of Arthedain on the matter. The men were not easily restrain’d and they drew their swords on me. But straightaway my archers had their arrows fix’d upon their hearts and they saw that they were outnumbered. After I had them put away I took the clothing of one of the men and array’d myself in their garb so as to gain admittance into Fornost without fear of molestation. Before I left Girwaedh cursed me and swore that he would kill me as soon as he had the chance…I admit that it was perhaps not the wisest course of action for me to take at the time, but I have no regrets about it really… O Amariel, my love! I am coming and we shall be together as Eru surely wills it!…”


Calimendil’s actions regarding Amariel and his treatment of Rathmir and Girwaedh would later go on to be Malvegil's, Celebrindor’s heir, main motive in refusing to send aid to King Calimendil when he most needed it in his war against Rhudaur. Both Kings would later rue their decisions. Then Calimendil mounted his horse and galloped away towards Fornost Erain to rescue Amariel from the clutches of her father ere he became aware that Girwaedh was imprisoned back in Cardolan.

When King Tarandil learned that Calimendil had imprisoned Girwaedh and his men at Metraith and had rushed off alone to the north to steal away Amariel he was furious, for he did not desire any quarrels or friction with the king of Arthedain at the time. Therefore he immediately sent word up to his son’s estate that the royal horsemen from Arthedain were to be set free and compensated for their ill treatment at the hands of Calimendil. If that were not enough Tarandil ordered that Metraith be cleared of all personnel and left open and abandoned until his son’s return. This was one of a series of poor decisions taken by Tarandil after the death of his beloved wife, and I sought earnestly to persuade the king to rethink his decree. But the King had already entered the early stages of his decline by then and could not be swayed. He had been obsessed with the goings on at Tharbad since the death of Elenarian and now his youngest son was making troubles for him with Cardolan’s neighbor to the north. The external flames from without were fanning the internal flames of his conscious, and soon they would boil over to his own detriment...
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Postby Celebrimbor32 » Mon Apr 11, 2005 8:42 am

A word or two regarding the said Girwaedh of Annuminas ere I go on with my tale; here was a man of Arthedain who possessed the ancient blood of the Numenoreans. Yet his behavior often resembled that of orcs rather than of men. I had the misfortune of making his acquaintance myself several years ago when I made a visit to Annuminas. There is no denying his skill as both a horseman and a ranger of the wild, but he was also a man whom hungered for power and would stop at nothing to rise high in the favor of the nobles in his home city. Though being relatively popular with the folk there, he was known to have courted a number of women in mischievous ways before he set his sights on Amariel, daughter of Rathmir, who dwelt with the King of Arthedain at Fornost. It is true that in the beginning Amariel had received Girwaedh as a welcome suitor and were seen together at times. But ere long she learned his true nature and refused him. He did not take it well and thus made a secret arrangement with her father to have Amariel’s hand in marriage.

Now by the time that Girwaedh and his men were allowed to depart Metraith and go whither they would Calimendil was far away. He had ridden hard to the north and entered the fortress of Fornost Erain disguised as one of the guards. He hid himself among the crowds and in the corners of narrow streets until dark, whereupon he made his way to Amariel’s chamber. She awoke with a start, but Calimendil threw off his disguise and she threw herself in his arms amid tears of joy. Thus after a long period of separation Calimendil and Amariel were reunited and they plighted their secret troth.

They wasted little time and immediately made to exit the city at first light. Calimendil again wore his disguise while Amariel arrayed herself as a poor peasant woman and cut the length off of her hair. Thereby they were not hindered as they left the gates of Fornost, where folk made their way in and out each and every day back then. Together they fled by horseback down the steep hills and bluffs that led away southwards from the North Downs until Fornost was far behind them.

But even as Calimendil had made his way into Fornost Girwaedh was released from his prison at Metraith by order of King Tarandil. The guards of the King ordered the entire estate cleared of its staff and they were commanded to remove to Dol Calantir. Metraith itself was ordered to be left standing alone and open as punishment to Calimendil for disobeying the King. In remaining true to his contemptible nature Girwaedh seized the opportunity to steal many items from the estate ere he departed. Afterwards he and his men hastily made their way back to Fornost in hope of discovering Calimendil and Amariel together, but they were too late. Calimendil and Amariel had gone and returned hence to Cardolan.

--------

As Calimendil made his return to Arthedain, in the year 1269, tragedy struck the court of King Tarandil, and I must take the time to tell you about it ere I go any further. Vorondil had been spending his time in the city of Tharbad on an assignment from the King. He was a skilled engineer and had taken up temporary residency in the city in order to supervise repairs to the great bridge that provided access to both ends of the city by spanning the river Gwathlo. Now Vorondil was Tarandil’s heir to the throne and was also the King’s favorite child. This I know first hand, as I was present during the King’s council meetings and witnessed the favoritism. I had always been the King’s chief councilor, but after the death of Elenarian Tarandil relied more and more upon his son’s advice in most matters. It was Vorondil himself who volunteered to dwell in Tharbad for a time to conduct a bogus reparation scheme upon the bridge in order to draw attention away from his real purpose: to spy upon the guilds and the men who ran them.

One guild there was that was especially corrupt; the Guild of the Greyflood. That guild had once served as Tharbad’s primary guardian of the river for the kings of Cardolan, and they supervised and navigated all traffic upon the water. During the rein of Tarandil, and even that of his father, Ardornil, the Guild of the Greyflood had fallen into decline. The master of that guild was Ulbor, though he had other names as well: Urlin, Vircar and Herald were a few of the names he was known to have used as headmaster of the guild. I shall never forget him, for he it was who was responsible for much of the river-crime and he ran an operation of intimidation and fear. He was not Cardolani and his origins are uncertain, but it was believed that he had come from the northern mountain regions, or perhaps from the east. That he had connections with Rhudaur is certain, as well as with Dunland. After secretly taking up residency in Tharbad he made overtures to Gelharm, the mayor, to turn a blind eye to the operations that were taking place in his guild. In return he would receive protection and financial gain. At first it seemed that Gelharm refused, but later gave in to Ulbor’s offer, for he was afraid. No one knew why Ulbor became such a reckoning force in Tharbad at that time, not even the king, but during Calimendil’s kingship it was discovered that he had been placed there strategically by the fledgling powers of Angmar, which was still in its infancy then.

Vorondil made it his personal mission to rid Tharbad of this man by all means necessary and he set his spies throughout the city. But Ulbor had spies also, and soon realized that Vorondil was a threat to him. Therefore, on a fateful night of winter Ulbor had one of Vorondil’s spies apprehended and questioned. His name was Gelimir and they demanded to know the true reasons for Vorondil’s sudden appearance in Tharbad. As I understand it Gelimir told them nothing at first, though in the end his spirit failed him and he revealed that Vorondil had every intention of driving Ulbor and his gang of underlings out of the city by any means necessary; even by death. Then the ruffians took council with one another and decided that they would send Vorondil a message, and they slew Gelimir and anonymously sent his severed head to Vorondil. This was the first horrendous act that set off a chain of events that would change the fate of all of Cardolan forever.

Now Ulbor was said not to have been present at this scene, for he was a shrewd man and could not afford to have the blood of any man on his hands. His servants were cruel enough to do his evil work for him! Many of these hateful men came to Tharbad from Dunland and other regions across the mountains and they were savage in their behavior. I know not whether Ulbor ordered the execution or if the men concocted it themselves. Yet as I look back on these events it seems plain to me that Ulbor was sent to Tharbad for no other reason but to wreak whatever havoc he may in the city in order to create an unpleasant diversion for the King of Cardolan. He was to draw his attention away from Arthedain and the north as Angmar (a name that we knew nothing of at the time) stepped up their assaults on Celebrindor’s northern border. Soon afterwards the Hillmen of Rhudaur organized themselves and crossed the Hoarwell and went across the plain of the Oiolad and fought with the Dunedain there. Trolls from the Ettenmoors became ever more active and harassed travelers going to and from the mountains. The soldiers and warriors of Arthedain were busy at that time and any aid from the King of Cardolan would have been welcome, no doubt, but an ever-maddening Tarandil found himself suddenly preoccupied by events in the city that he had always hated.

When Vorondil was given the head of Gelimir his aids later told me that Vorondil wept. Doubtless it was sent to him as a warning, and it would have been wise had Vorondil left Tharbad and went straight to the King. But Vorondil was consumed by wrath and would not wait for help from afar, hoping to catch his foes quickly and by surprise. He desired only to spill the blood of Ulbor and his accomplices, which he deemed to be a task of no great difficulty.

Vorondil and a handful of his men marched through the cold and dark streets that night in secrecy until they made their way across the bridge and out onto the Isle of Tharbad, where the Guild of the Greyflood kept their docks and their warehouses. It is known that Vorondil paid a visit to a tavern owned by Ulbor but did not find him there. Soon afterwards the tavern was ablaze with fire.

Some said that Vorondil ordered it razed to the ground. All knowledge of the events of that night become shrouded in mystery after the firing of the tavern. Not even after so many years have passed since then have I been able to unravel this mystery and give it any closure. Yet one thing is certain: Vorondil was never seen by anyone at court ever again. Tears uncounted would soon be shed by many throughout Cardolan and the history of the realm would be forever changed...
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Postby Celebrimbor32 » Tue May 03, 2005 2:17 pm

“…Inform our chieftains in the north that a new order of things will soon prevail in Tharbad, for I have achieved the demise of the King’s Heir sooner than expected. He was an overrated fool who succumbed to me easily, as most cowards do…Proceeding the death of Tarandil (which should come soon) the throne of Cardolan will fall to his witless daughter and the youngest son – Calimendil; the latter of which hath already estranged himself from Arthedain…”

~ intercepted secret letter from Ulbor to Angmar, T.A. 1271



The search for Vorondil began in earnest during the Autumn months of 1270. If Tarandil was in a state of muted agitation before the disappearance of his son, he became an animated madman afterwards. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months and there was still no word from Vorondil. His remaining spies returned from Tharbad to Dol Calantir and told their king that they had not seen Vorondil since the night when he anonymously received the severed head of Gelimir. Men searched the countryside in many directions for any news of the King’s Heir but they received none.

At last Tarandil would wait no longer. He summoned myself and others of our council to meet with him in his private chambers. There he confided in us of his plan to sack the mayor of Tharbad and to set all the guilds therein ablaze until nothing remained of them but smoldering ashes. Ulbor was to be apprehended and laid in chains where he would be removed to the dungeons of Dol Calantir until interrogated.

It all happened in the early days of spring in the year 1271. I, along with members of the King’s Guard, went into Tharbad well after midnight and arrested the mayor. The guards of his house did not want to admit us but they were outnumbered and put down their weapons. We rushed inside the house and made for Gelharm’s quarters. There we found him with one of his concubines. He was scarcely clothed but we apprehended him and tied his hands as he was informed that he was removed as mayor Tharbad forthwith. As we led him away amid his protestations we replied, “The King has arranged less accommodating quarters for you at Dol Calantir, O Mayor!”

Then we crossed the great bridge and made our way onto the Isle, where many of the guilds were located. A separate contingent of guards entered the city from the south in order to prevent any that might catch wind of our approach and attempt to flee that way. Yet even more of the King’s men approached the city from down river upon boats. What little river-traffic there was at that late hour was halted and their vessels were boarded and searched for any signs that Ulbor might be stashed away secretly on board in hopes of escaping. Not in many years had the residents of Tharbad seen such a spectacle.

I was among those who sought for Ulbor upon the Isle. We went to the Guild of the Greyflood and burst open the doors. We were assaulted at once by the guild members, who did not wait for us to announce to them our intentions. A battle took place inside the guild and upon the docks that night and blood was spilled. I personally slew a man who turned out to be Ulbor’s cousin and second-ranking member of the guild, though I did not know it at the time I skewered him with my sword. All told we slew a dozen men before the rest put down their weapons. Some threw themselves in the river and attempted to flee by swimming. A few may have succeeded, though most were drowned. We jailed all of them, but much to our disappointment Ulbor was nowhere to be found.

By this time half of the Isle was on fire. We set Ulbor’s buildings, docks and sea vessels ablaze and watched them burn from afar. But the fire was too much and it was not long ere many other buildings caught fire as well upon the Isle. Soon a great conflagration lit up the night sky. It was too large a fire and many innocent folk were displaced from their homes unrightfully. Alas, some were burned to death. Others were overcome by noxious smoke and fell upon their knees as they fled. Still more sought to save their possessions and perished while doing so. Panic-stricken dogs barked and people wept as they threw themselves into the river. Never before have I seen such a sight.

When word of the tragedy was reported back to the King he surprised us by emitting a trace of a smile, as if the tidings seemed pleasing to him! I knew well that he had always hated Tharbad, but I had anticipated a certain degree of sympathy from him for the innocent residents there that had been consumed in the inferno. After all, Tarandil was still a Dunedain of the line of Thorondor and above such vile behavior, and when I told him as such he became wrathful with me! More so than I had seen in a long while, and he cursed me saying, “You dare voice empathy for the rats and rogues that offer sanctuary to the murderers of my son! And where is your sympathy for Vorondil? Aye, and where is this accursed Ulbor? You let the bane of the King’s Heir slip through your fingers, did you not? A plague upon you and your foolish visage! I lament the day I leant my ear to your ill-gotten council. Get thee hence away from me and my court, Iliandor! I command you to dwell in Tharbad for the duration of my rein upon the throne, since you care so much for its well being! Do not return to Dol Calantir until Vorondil is found or Ulbor is delivered unto me!”

That would come to be the last time I ever looked the King in the eye until he lay upon his deathbed, only two short years later. I was evicted from my quarters at court and was forced to take up residency within the walls of Tharbad. It was an unjust decision upon the King’s part but I forgave him for it, knowing full well the state of anguish he was in. We were all greatly saddened by Vorondil’s sudden disappearance, as well as the honorable men who mysteriously disappeared with him that night. I worked earnestly to turn up any evidence of Vorondil’s murder at the hands of Ulbor while I endured my days and nights in Tharbad. Yet I was unable to come up with naught but a lone testimony from one of the jailed members of the Guild of the Greyflood. He stated that he knew nothing of Vorondil’s fate, but admitted that Ulbor had dwellings not only in Tharbad, but also in Dunland, where he had forged an alliance with the Dunlendings there. Of this I had suspected before, but knew not that Ulbor was an intermediary between the Dunlendings of Dunland and those that dwelt in the regions of eastern Rhudaur. Afterwards we learned that he was assisting in a steady migration of men from Dunland northwards where they began to swell the numbers of their folk in Rhudaur right under the nose of King Ermegil, who had shortly before withdrawn from any further meetings with Arthedain and Cardolan. Since my dismissal from court I was not permitted to address the King myself but I sent tidings to him from Tharbad revealing my discovery. I never heard back from Tarandil on the matter.

One last thing of note ere I return to Calimendil once again. The horrendous fire upon the Isle of Tharbad consumed nearly half of the isle ere it died itself out at last – two full days later. Nearly all of the guilds upon the isle went up in flames, many of which were legitimate in every sense and essential to the prosperity of the city. The Guild of the Greyflood was destroyed and was officially banned forever. Tarandil offered up a hefty reward to anyone who could deliver to him any of its members that were known to have escaped the night of the fire. Those that had already been jailed were interrogated thoroughly at Tharbad regarding all that they might know regarding not only Vorondil’s disappearance, but also of their knowledge regarding Ulbor’s whereabouts.

The man who performed the interrogations was named Echormoth. He was a seasoned warrior whom Tarandil had previously sent into lower Minhiriath to deal with rising threats from the wood-woses in that region. But now he had been recalled by the King in order to take order of Tharbad, and soon afterwards he was named its new mayor. The folk there soon grew to distrust and even hate him, for he tripled the number of guards and soldiers inside the city. The men he interrogated offered him little information that was of any use to the King, save that Ulbor fled the city around the same time of Vorondil’s disappearance. Then an enraged Echormoth had them all publicly hung upon the bridge that led out to the Isle in order to set an example to all, and many of the folk were frightened and appalled by it. Most had now assumed that Tarandil had finally gone mad and many blamed the king himself for the inferno. As time passed the guilds slowly began to recuperate from their losses in the great fire. Yet many queer folk slowly began to enter Tharbad at this time and the city took a turn for the worse, in spite of Echormoth and his guards. A new and most secretive guild began to take shape, though we did not know it at the time. It was called amongst themselves the Assassin’s Guild, and their primary motive was to achieve the assassination of the King and his line whosoever it may be.

As for Vorondil’s final fate – it shall ever be a mystery shrouded in darkness. It was not until Calimendil’s rein as King that he was officially declared dead. Yet my best guess is that he was indeed murdered by Ulbor and his men and probably rests in a watery grave at the bottom of the Gwathlo. Whatever the truth it was a disgraceful and unjust end to one of Cardolan’s most honorable men...
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Postby rowanberry » Wed May 04, 2005 9:55 am

What can I say, except that you've got at least one faithful reader? :) The story unfolds nicely, and it was good to tell about the burning of Tharbad by the words of someone who was involved. I haven't found anything to complain about in the last few chapters.

More drama is to be expected, I suppose.

It's probably just me but, "the Guild of Assassins" makes me think of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. :D
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Postby Celebrimbor32 » Thu May 05, 2005 8:55 am

Well, even if only one or two TORCers are reading my tale I will still hold myself fulfilled, rowanberry :) Thanks, though. I'm trying to crank out 1-2 posts a month with this. I've almost completed my revisions of my old story now and will soon be getting into fresh material...There will certainly be plenty of drama coming up soon. I'm looking forward to writing about the upcoming war!

It's probably just me but, "the Guild of Assassins" makes me think of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels.


>I'm afraid I'm not very familar with the Discworld novels. :?:
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Postby rowanberry » Thu May 05, 2005 11:15 am

Celebrimbor32 wrote:I'm afraid I'm not very familar with the Discworld novels. :?:


Well, let's just say that, the Ankh-Morpork Guild of Assassins has made assassination into an art. :D

If you're a slightest bit into sci-fi and fantasy parodies, Terry Pratchett is definitely worth checking. His humour is quite subtle and intelligent - and, he actually parodies a lot more than just sci-fi and fantasy: fairytales, Shakespeare, police movies, horror stories...
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Postby Celebrimbor32 » Tue May 10, 2005 2:19 pm

Word of Vorondil’s shadowy and uncertain fate spread quickly throughout the realm of Cardolan. Many tongues were wagging among the other Cardolani princes who were scattered hither and thither across the lands. Vorondil had few friends among them. Many rumors and actual sightings of him began to make their way to court and quickly reached the ears of Tarandil. Yet in the end they were always false. Shortly thereafter the King decreed it a crime punishable by death to “…propagate counterfactual, slanderous or untrue claims…” concerning the fate of the king’s eldest and most beloved son.

Little have I mentioned the king’s daughter during this period. Arriana indeed took the loss of her brother to heart and for long refused to admit that he was, in all likelihood, deceased. She soon convinced herself that Vorondil must be alive somewhere, perhaps kidnapped or held against his will in a far away land; of this she was adamant. Her chief suspicion fell upon the Dunlendings, and even went so far as to urge her father to declare war upon Dunland. She might have succeeded in brainwashing the King as he wallowed in his own misery, as I was still banned from returning to Dol Calantir to intervene in such a foolhardy enterprise. Fortunately Calimendil had since returned from his excursion in neighboring Arthedain with his future bride, Amariel. Calimendil was greatly saddened by the tidings of his brother, but he went straightaway to Dol Calantir to see his father with Amariel at his side.

When Calimendil learned that his father was becoming increasingly influenced by his daughter and of her desire to invade Dunland his heart filled with anger and he went straightway to the King at ultimately dissuaded him from waging war upon the Dunlendings. Vorondil was not in Dunland. He was gone and would not return. Of this I felt certain, as did Calimendil. Alas! Time would go on to prove it to be so. Thus Arriana was once again (and not for the last time) defeated by her young brother and she was filled with bitterness toward Calimendil, and remained so for many years thereafter. Over the next few years Amariel would serve as the intermediary between brother and sister, for neither would speak to the other. As a gesture of consolation Tarandil granted Arriana the privilege of residing at Vorondil’s keep at Dol Argond “…while Vorondil is away or until he returns”.

A year passed away without further tidings of the King’s Heir. All this time I resided at Tharbad. Calimendil came to visit me often, for he considered Tarandil’s ban upon me as unjust, and we soon struck up a friendship. From him I learned of the King’s condition. Tarandil had become careless in his role as a sovereign. He gave small heed to matters in the north and his relations with Arthedain and Rhudaur. Amon Sul now seemed of little interest to him. We were surely jeopardizing our rightful claim to the Palantir and the tower at this time. Tarandil spent much of his time in his own dungeons conducting his own interrogations of Gelharm and other prisoners regarding Vorondil’s fate. His health was also in a state of rapid decline. He seldom wore his crown and he let his beard grow very long. Arriana visited him often at court at this time. I suspect that many royal decisions and decrees coming out of Dol Calantir were coming from the mouth of the king’s daughter, including an official list of names of people that were not to be permitted upon the grounds of Dol Calantir. I soon learned that my name was on that list.

In the summer of 1272 Calimendil came to my house before dawn and informed me that the King was dying and that I was to come with him back to Dol Calantir to see him ere his spirit passed away to the care of Mandos. As for the ban upon me, Calimendil had had it revoked by Tarandil, though grudgingly. It was the first time I had set foot in Dol Calantir in two years. When we arrived at the King’s chambers I beheld Arriana and Amariel attending to the ailing Tarandil, who now looked to be at death’s door. There were also guards from Dol Argond present that had come to protect Arriana. Only a small handful of Tarandil’s former advisors were in the room that morning, including myself. The King was scarcely able to speak by then and coughed up much blood as he lay upon his bed with a raging fever. By mid-morning he was dead. He died thus as did Elenarian several years before. Ere long the body of the King was taken secretly to Tyrn Gorthad, where he was lain next to his wife in a great barrow-tomb. Great was the sorrow for all those at court and for many of the folk in Cardolan. Tarandil had been a good king and possessed many of the fine qualities requisite of a sovereign, especially for the farmers and shepherds in the north. He was not popular among the folk of Tharbad and the other princes that were not related to him by blood, for he limited their authority greatly. But after the burial had been completed and the lords of Cardolan were assembled together at court it was not long ere the bickering and quarreling began among them.

By right and traditional Dunedain laws handed down since the time of Elendil Arriana would become Cardolan’s next sovereign and first ruling Queen, as she was older than Calimendil. Yet not all were willing to accept her. But Arriana’s supporters insisted that the crown of Cardolan now fell to her as the oldest surviving heir of Tarandil and Elenarian. It was not long before preparations were underway for Arriana’s coronation. But she had many detractors both in and out of court. Most of the other princes mistrusted her, deeming her policies would follow too closely to that of her father’s. Many feared she would pull many of Cardolan’s cavalry and men of arms away from Amon Sul in the north and send them to war against Dunland to capture Ulbor and others connected with Vorondil’s death and disappearance.

Only one month after Tarandil’s death a scandal emerged within the court at Dol Calantir. A former advisor to Tarandil came forth with accusations that Arriana had had intimate relations with her brother Vorondil. His name was Berhan. He had been one of those that had been placed upon the list of names of men to be banned from court by Arriana and the King. He claimed to have proof by procuring two witnesses that had seen the two together involved in amorous acts. Berhan threatened to make her secret public knowledge unless she relinquished her right to the crown of Cardolan and handed it to Calimendil. No doubt Arriana was shocked and angered by the threat.

When I learned of this matter I went to Calimendil, knowing that Arriana would not see me. Despite is estrangement from his sister he threatened to thrash Berhan for disgracing his family name in such a manner. But he was too late; the damage was already done. Rumors were already flying at court that Arriana was her late brother’s lover, and she desired to send Cardolan to war with Dunland.

Next evening Arriana made a startling announcement. She made known to all that she would not accept the crown of Cardolan as Queen, preferring to allow Calimendil to ascend the throne as Tarandil’s next heir and King of Cardolan. She did not even attempt to mask her resentment towards her foes, and remarked openly, “I will depart this place and return to Dol Argond to act as its steward, so long as the new king wills it. The fortunes of our age are changing, and not, I deem, for the better. I have neither the will, nor the desire to rule over a lawless city that harbors enemies and spies. Nor will I dwell among such conspirators and collaborationists here at this court. Tharbad and Dol Calantir; what difference remains between them now? Both are infested with villainous miscreants. I go to seek a better fortune elsewhere, for my heart is cold here.”

Then a clamor rose up in the hall and harsh words were spoken among those that favored Arriana and those that did not. But Arriana slipped away from the hall almost as soon as she had spoken and went with her guards to a private carriage that lie in wait outside. Ere anyone could stop her she was gone and departed Dol Calantir under the cover of night. I did not see her again for some time afterwards.

With Arriana gone Calimendil was now officially free to accept the throne of Cardolan, for he was Tarandil’s heir and a descendant of Thorondor, Cardolan’s first King. But Calimendil did not want to accept the crown in the beginning and desired to wait yet a while in order for his sister’s temper to calm and her wits to return to her. Further still he wanted time to delve into the Berhan’s allegations and call forth the two alleged men who witnessed Vorondil and Arriana together. But Arriana had sealed her fate by her offensive words to the lords at court and they would never permit her to become Queen without a fight. Calimendil also must have surely recalled the night when he saw his brother and sister together outside his window late at night only a few years before. He came to me and sought my advice on the matter, but I urged him to accept the throne as soon as possible. It was a thing very dangerous indeed for a realm to be without a king even for a short while. It would not be long ere Cardolan’s enemies and rivals would catch word of the events that were sweeping through Dol Calantir and take advantage of Cardolan’s instability.

In the end, of course, Calimendil accepted the throne and became the fifth King of Cardolan. His coronation took place at court only two days after Arriana’s departure, whom did not attend the ceremonies. It can scarcely be argued that Arriana would have been a disastrous sovereign for Cardolan. Much pain and misfortune was avoided for all by her acquiescence of the throne to her brother. A war upon Dunland at the time would surely have hastened Cardolan’s demise and our claim to Amon Sul would have been lost. Calimendil was indeed reluctant to become king at first, as he had spent his entire life up to that point believing that he would forever be a Cardolani prince and nothing more. But one’s fate seldom unfolds in the manner we anticipate it to...
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Postby Celebrimbor32 » Wed May 18, 2005 12:35 pm

The wedding of Calimendil and Amariel took place in Calimendil’s abode of Metraith in a quiet and secretive ceremony immediately following their flight from Fornost Erain. As I mentioned, King Tarandil had ordered that all of Calimendil’s servants vacate the estate and leave the castle empty and wide open as punishment to his son for disregarding his orders. Calimendil was furious upon his return but refused to cower to his father’s will and opted to remain at his abode in spite of its robbed halls and poor condition. Wolves and other animals of the wild had ventured inside the empty abode and left their tracks and their droppings. But Calimendil cleaned the excrement away and called upon a handful of folk whom he deemed as true friends to come to Metraith to witness his betrothal to Amariel of Arthedain. Calimendil later told me of his father’s stoic reaction to the news of his marriage to Amariel. Tarandil felt little enthusiasm at the time, for the King was too far down his road of personal destruction by then. Yet ere he died he at last gave his blessing to his son and his wife.

Calimendil brought many changes to Cardolan as King. His first order of business was to arrest Berhan for disgracing his sister and the royal family’s name, and he was thrown into the dungeons of Dol Calantir. This came as a surprise to some, for if it were not for Berhan’s courage to reveal Arriana’s true character Calimendil would never have become King. But Calimendil was a compassionate man and did not wish to see his sister humiliated regardless of how low their personal relationship had fallen. For his part he forgave her for her past behavior and decreed Arriana as sole guardian and steward of Vorondil’s keep at Dol Argond.

The next year King Calimendil officially declared his brother missing and presumed dead. By then it had been over four years since Vorondil’s sudden disappearance. The King ordered Echormoth in Tharbad to diminish his ranks of soldiers in the city by half so that they may return to their duty at Amon Sul in the north. The mayor objected strongly to this and insisted that they remain in place by persuading Calimendil that already new and more secretive guilds were blossoming in the dark recesses of Tharbad and posed a real threat to his crown. But Calimendil was unmoved and would not yield. He feared, and rightly so, that Celebrindor in Arthedain would increase his forces at Amon Sul even more now that Cardolan had a new and unripe king. Indeed, doubly so once they realized that Amariel, daughter of Rathmir, had fled Fornost with Calimendil in secret.

It was at this time that Calimendil called me to him in his quarters and asked me to take the role as his most trusted advisor. I would be given the official title of Chief Councilor to the King, amongst which duties I would have of becoming the Official Protector and Guardian of the Queen and their children, should any harm befall the King.

I accepted the King’s offer on the spot and remained in that post up until the very end of Calimendil’s reign.

~~

The beginning of Calimendil’s kingship was a joyful and fruitful period for those of his court and many throughout Cardolan despite he being a neophyte sovereign. Indeed even as a ruling prince he seldom exercised much governing authority over his provincial subjects. He preferred the hunt, the horse and the harp to his duties as prince, and even though Calimendil was an excellent swordsman he rarely displayed his talent and skill for it. Yet now he was the unexpected King of Cardolan and he was required to play that role. I begged him to put away his lute for a while and dedicate himself to his kingship, which he did.

Many monumental events occurred at this time, which I must certainly mention here. Only six months proceeding Tarandil’s death we received word form our informants that Celebrindor, King of Arthedain had also died. We knew not the official reason; yet he was older than even Tarandil and his span of years was drawing to a close by then. Thus we concluded that his death was nothing unnatural. Celebrindor’s eldest son, Malvegil, then became Arthedain’s next ruling King. Calimendil remembered Celebrindor rather coldly from before due to his own banishment from Arthedain and certainly did not mourn his passing. As a reciprocal gesture for Celebridor’s actions after Tarandil’s death Calimendil immediately ordered scores of reinforcements to swell the number of the garrisons already residing at Amon Sul. For the first (and last) time in Arnor’s history Cardolan equaled, if not bettered Arthedain in the number of guards and cavalrymen stationed at Amon Sul. This of course enraged King Ermegil in Rhudaur but we paid him small heed at the time.

Shortly following Celebrindor’s death we received the remains of an alarming letter that was discovered on the body of a slain man found by Arthedainian rangers in the wilds of eastern Arthedain nigh the banks of the river Metheithel. The man’s identity was a mystery. He was most likely slain by wolves or died from exposure. But the letter revealed information much to our shock and horror. It was written by none other than the accursed Ulbor and was addressed to his superiors “in the north”. It told of how he maliciously achieved the death of Vorondil and his men, the latter of which had been either slain or taken prisoner before being sent to the regions of the north. I cannot imagine why such an important document had been kept by Arthedain instead of it being delivered at once to Tarandil!

Calimendil read the letter in anger and great sorrow and demanded that Malvegil explain his late father’s justification for keeping such a sensitive document from Tarandil. In reply Malvegil sent word to Calimendil that he had no knowledge whatsoever that the document existed until then. Furthermore Malvegil suggested that even his father had been unaware of the letter and even went so far as to suggest that it had been found by rogues who sought to keep it for themselves until it could be ransomed or perhaps traded.

Calimendil became furious and responded by saying that Celebrindor had surely become an imprudent dotard in his old age if he had truly been unaware of the document discovered in his own back yard. He added, “…and what shall be said of your spy-work in such a case? Is this an example of the legendary Arthedainian vigilance? If so, I expect the enemy to be crossing your borders at any moment.”

Malvegil raised tensions between them further still and called Calimendil a kidnapper, “Does the new King of Cardolan really believe that we know nothing of his most recent illegal exploits here in Arthedain? You imprison your guests that travel from great distances to greet you as friends before forcibly kidnapping another man’s maiden and betrothed? Aye! We know a great deal regarding Calimendil’s deeds as of late. For this alone was my father’s ban upon you justified. Let the King of Cardolan be thankful that he has such a neighbor as Arthedain at this time instead of orcs and brigands.”

Sensing that tensions between the two kings was rising high, I begged Calimendil not to offer a scathing rebuke to Malvegil. I implored him to let the matter rest for a while, for I felt deeply that we would need the aid of Arthedain in the years to come and must not alienate them from Cardolan forever. It was at this time that I began to fear that a great scheme of evil was being concocted against all the Dunedain, not only from orcs and other foul men in the frozen north, but also from within the wilds of Rhudaur itself. We had only a few spies left in that sister-realm by then, and of them we had heard nothing for some time. When at last they returned they told us of a hidden threat in the highlands of Rhudaur. The Hillmen had become restless. Even more so than usual. Conflicts between the various tribes began to wane around this time and attacks upon the Dunlendings allied with the few Dunedain that remained in that land began to increase. Of King Ermegil we had heard little or nothing. Nevertheless, Calimendil sought to assuage old griefs between the two realms by sending word to Ermegil that he wished to mend the hard feelings that had existed between him and Tarandil in the past. Further still, Calimendil offered to send Ermegil horses and a heavy shipment of arms and other necessities as a gesture of his goodwill. A good while later Ermegil finally replied by accepting Calimendil’s kindly offer, though he would say nothing regarding the Hillmen unrest.

On the fifth anniversary of Calimendil’s Kingship there was a great celebration at court. I got to know Queen Amariel very well by then and thought of her as a true sister. In the summer of that year she conceived and soon after gave berth to twin boys whom they named Berandil and Bregardil. I acted as their god-parent and was very honored to do so. It was the happiest time I had ever spent at Dol Calantir. The King and I went abroad together at that time, and we rode far to the south and west through wild Minhiriath. We visited the ruins of Lond Daer and gazed out upon the western sea together. Calimendil would have entered the dark forest of Eryn Vorn out of curiosity had I and others in our company persuaded him not to.

The next year the King desired to pay a visit to Echormoth in Tharbad. The Queen begged him not to go, for she claimed to have a dream in which she saw evil factions at work in Tharbad where the city’s fountains and canals ran with blood. But Calimendil thought the trip necessary at the time and added that he would be frequenting Tharbad periodically so long as he was king so as, “to keep an eye on it.”

In the winter of 1279 I accompanied the King and his guard to Tharbad where we were to meet with Echormoth, the mayor to discuss the state of the city. By now Tharbad had deteriorated significantly. Crime had doubled since Tarandil’s death. Many of the city’s dark streets and alleys were littered with homeless folk. Dead bodies were collected regularly before being carted off to the countryside. The canals did not run with blood as Amariel had dreamt, though they did run with other foul things.

On the second day of our visit to Tharbad an unspeakable crime was committed. I shall never forget it! I and several others walked with the King along the streets of a crowded market place on the city’s northern bank nigh the river. Echormoth and his own guard accompanied us as many regular folk and peasants clamored beside us in order to get a look at their King. Calimendil enjoyed handing out alms to the poor and did so generously that afternoon. As he and the mayor talked amid the noise of the crowd, an assassin disguised as a poor peasant leapt out from the crowd and stabbed the King in abdomen with a long-dagger! No doubt the blow was aimed at Calimendil’s heart but missed. The King doubled forward and would have fallen had I not assisted him at once.

Those that witnessed the attack were stunned at what they had seen. No one had anticipated it, as our guards were strong that day. Immediately the assassin attempted to flee into the darkness. But he was tripped up and seized by our guards ere he could escape. Many in the crowd quailed at the scene before them, but the chaos was not over. An unidentified man leapt out from a nearby doorway while shouting, “long live the King!” and thrust a knife into the neck of the assassin, killing him instantly. The assassin lay dead. Yet his slayer was seized by many guards and was whisked away ere anymore bloodshed could occur. The body of the slain assassin was also taken away to be examined and identified.

Many others and I rushed the King to Echormoth’s quarters. He had lost blood and his wound was deep, but the blade had missed his heart! Next day we departed the city and returned to Dol Calantir with the King. Amariel wept when she saw the condition her husband and King was in. But the Queen was skilled in the art of healing and she summoned forth all her skill that she had been taught by the Noldorin elves in Arthedain and nursed Calimendil back to health with her love. Thus the great Calimendil ultimately survived his first attempted regicide, but it was not to be the last...
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Postby Celebrimbor32 » Fri May 27, 2005 8:57 am

...In the year following the attempt on the King’s life scant information could be discovered regarding the nature or premise of the attack. The identity of the would-be assassin was never ascertained despite our great efforts to acquire it. The dagger used in the attack was similar in make to those used by the men across the mountains, though as to how he may have attained it is a mystery. As for the man who slew the assassin we kept him locked away at Dol Calantir. I questioned him myself each day for a fortnight despite his pleas to be released. His name, or the one that he used, was Bearn. He claimed to be a Cardolani fisherman who had no real home, but dwelt occasionally in Tharbad in between his travels up and down the Gwathlo. When asked why he would commit such a brash and daring murder as he did that hectic evening he insisted he did so in a fit of sudden rage at the apparent assassination of the King, as he thought. Furthermore he claimed absolute loyalty to the King and his family, though his explanations for his loyalty fell flat and suspect to me. Nevertheless, we held him in jail for many days ere we released him.

After Calimendil began to recover from his wound the King commanded Bearn to come before him before he was set free. The King looked him up and down from head to toe as he addressed Bearn, thanking him for his courage and loyalty, yet also lamenting that he had been denied the opportunity to question his assailant in person. Bearn was released to go wither he would, but I had my spies follow him. It was not long ere they espied him back in Tharbad frequenting taverns, brothels and eventually spending time among men of queer origins. Further still he lived out of an old and decrepit house inside the city, though he told me he was homeless. I ordered a permanent watch upon this man as I deemed him to be a liar.

Arriana continued to be a disappointment to us all at this time. Though she did send a personal letter of thanks and congratulations to her brother for his survival and good health, she never bothered to travel to the court to visit Calimendil after he had been stabbed, saying that Dol Calantir was “…still an unwelcome place for her”. She opted to remain at Dol Argond. This was a heavy personal blow to Calimendil and quite undeserved, yet the King would not reproach his sister for her actions. But Amariel deeply resented Arriana forever afterwards and never forgave her for her callousness.

If Arriana’s inaction was not enough, one year later it became known to me that she had at last decided to wed. When I discovered whom her husband was to be I was shocked and outraged. Girwaedh of Annuminas he was! Calimendil’s rival and opponent for Amariel’s hand in the years before. It had been some time since we had heard from him and knew not that he had entered Cardolan and even visited Dol Argond. When the King was told of this he was furious and sent word to his sister that if she were to proceed with the marriage he would officially pronounce her as an outcast of the royal family and an unwelcome visitor at court. Girwaedh offered a reply instead, saying that “at least I come not as a thief in the night to steal away the daughters of noble fathers against their will. Arriana your sister has far more courage than her young brother and King who usurped her rightful throne. We will indeed marry, whether we have the King’s good wishes or no!”

Great was the wrath of the King after reading the letter, and I could not restrain him from sending out guards to seize Girwaedh. At this Amariel interceded and soothed Calimendil’s temper, and persuaded the King to let the matter be. But under no circumstances would he allow Girwaedh to dwell at Dol Argond with his sister, nor anywhere else within the realm. Therefore the King rescinded his former offer to Arriana to act as Guardian and Steward of Dol Argond and instead appointed a trusted member of his council to dwell there until either of his two sons became old enough to become the new Steward.

Arriana was said to have departed Dol Argond with Girwaedh immediately following their hasty betrothal. We soon learned that they made their way back to the north where they dwelt at Annuminas. It would be the last time that brother and sister would ever correspond with one another. Afterwards Calimendil placed a ban upon either one of them re-entering Cardolan until he decreed otherwise. I have nothing more to say about Arriana, for I was glad to be rid of her.

~~~~


A few more years passed in relative peace and silence for Cardolan. Calimendil had by then fully matured into a wise and noble king, and a happy one at that! Amariel spent much time with their sons, Berandil and Bregardil, raising them up to be fine young men. In a reversal of his father’s old law the King reduced the amount of taxation placed upon the populace of the city of Tharbad and instead placed more of the burden upon the farmers and traders who dwelt in the northern plains and rolling downs. The other princes and nobility who dwelt hither and thither throughout the realm were also required to pay a heavier tribute to Dol Calantir at that time. This angered the other nobles of Cardolan and they bore a grudge against Calimendil for it for long afterwards. I, too, thought it an unwise policy at the time. But the King, like his father before him, had become transfixed with Tharbad after he had nearly been murdered there. The folk of Tharbad, however, became fond of King Calimendil, and even eventually began to warm to Echormoth, the mayor. This is just what the King had wanted. By regaining the trust of those that dwelt in Tharbad he hoped to rout out any new and dangerous guilds that might be blossoming there once again by alienating the citizens from them.

It was a good plan, but alas! It never worked. Tharbad would forever be a haven for men and thieves of the lowest caliber. Nothing would ever change that.

In the summer of 1285, six years after he was nearly slain while in Tharbad, the King announced that he would again visit the city in person with the Queen. Many of the people were glad and preparations for the visit were underway. But two days ere the King and Queen were due to arrive, Tharbad was plagued by yet another heinous crime. Echormoth and his two of his personal guards had been murdered. Their bodies were found lying in the parlor of the mayor’s own house, their throats slit. Calimendil was abhorred by the news and took it as a personal warning from some evil entity inside the city itself. Along with Amariel I managed to dissuade the King from visiting Tharbad at the time, though he was loath to comply. I begged him to give my spies inside the city more time to do their work.

His patience was rewarded only three and ten days following the death of Echormoth. The Assassin’s Guild became known to us at that time, and it was they who were not only responsible for Echormoth’s murder, but also were behind Calimendil’s attempted regicide ten years before. We knew this because of the bravery of one of my most trusted men who volunteered to join up with that secret and illegal guild and feed us the information we needed, and at great peril to himself! His name was Barach, a Cardolani man from mixed parentage. He it was that told us of this evil guild and its origin. They had no concrete establishment inside Tharbad as the Guild of the Greyflood had had in its day. Rather they were a loosely concentrated band of thieves and cutthroats who moved about the city without a known base or establishment. They were devoutly dedicated to the demise of the King of Cardolan and Tharbad’s independence from the crown. They were certainly funded by evil sources out of Rhudaur and their allies in what is now Angmar.

Then the King and I set into motion a plan to capture Ulbor and bring him to justice, for as the secret letter we received revealed, it was he who brought about the murder of Vorondil, Tarandil’s Heir, some nineteen years before. At last Calimendil would be avenged for the death of his brother. Therefore I had Bearn arrested by our soldiers inside Tharbad and brought to Dol Calantir in bonds. I assured him that we had at last discovered his secret ties to the Assasin’s Guild in Tharbad and that he would be hanged at dawn the following morning before all the King’s court unless he agreed to submit to our will in apprehending Ulbor. He then asked me why the King would treat the slayer of his would-be assassin in such an unjust manner, for he claimed to have saved Calimendil’s life. I showed him the dagger that was used to wound the King by the assassin and also the one used by himself. The blades were different but their hilts were an exact match, both bearing the same Easterling markings on them. Furthermore Bearn’s dilapidated little house upon the southern bank of Tharbad had been searched thoroughly by my men following the King’s attempted regicide. A small box of jewelry had been found stashed cleverly beneath the floorboards of the house. In it was discovered a ring that was again an exact match with a ring that had been worn by the assassin. Both rings bore the same symbols on them. It was enough for us to link the two men together.

I remember well Bearn’s bitterness and indignation towards me, but by then he knew he had little choice in the matter. I assured him that, though the King did indeed now regard him as a traitor to the crown, he would be granted his freedom provided he led us to the whereabouts of Ulbor. But Bearn insisted, even under threat of torture that he did not know where Ulbor was, for he was seldom anywhere for very long. Yet he did reveal that Ulbor never ventured inside the city walls of Tharbad due to the danger it posed for him and was useless to search for him there. He was, however, known to have traveled through that land in the north that is called by many the Angle, a green and fertile land which was then was inhabited by the Stoor halflings. This seemed strange to us at first but Barach, our spy inside Tharbad, confirmed these tidings for us. Ulbor had muscled his way through the land of the Stoors by force, for he went with other foul and cruel men who bullied the halflings inside the Angle.

We immediately sent word to the nobles that dwelt in that region of Cardolan nigh to the Angle that efforts to befriend the halflings should be undertaken at once, and so it was done. Calimendil assured the Stoors that Cardolan would protect and shield them from any hostilities that threatened the Angle from Rhudaur or the orcs from the mountains, and thus a deal was struck between us.

It would prove to be Ulbor’s undoing!...
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Postby Celebrimbor32 » Thu Jun 02, 2005 7:58 am

I fear I cannot proceed any further with my tale without here turning aside but once more to reveal all that I know or ever knew regarding Cardolan’s newly emerging enemies at the time, some of which were known to us while others were not. Of the accursed Ulbor we knew indeed that he had connections with the evil men in Angmar and was primarily responsible for the murder of Vorondil. For this alone he deserved death; and in the end it was delivered to him.

The year 1287 marked the year of Ulbor’s capture. At last we had him! After receiving word from the Stoor Halflings in the Angle that they had seen Ulbor passing through their lands, Calimendil immediately led a band of well-armed horsemen northwards. A small fleet of boats from Dol Argond was sent up the river Gwathlo so as to prevent any chance of escape that Ulbor might attempt that way. The King and our escort rode swiftly, passing over the Last Bridge only five days after setting forth from Dol Calantir. From there we turned south again and rode hard to the villages of the Halflings, who directed us to Ulbor’s trail. Being somewhat skilled in the art of tracking, I assisted the King and his men all the way nigh to that river which is known as the Loudwater. There we espied Ulbor and his henchmen and gave them chase upon foot, for the way was too steep and rocky for our horses. It was there upon the steep cliffs of the riverbank that we cornered Ulbor at long last, and Calimendil himself smote Ulbor a blow upon the face with his open hand as he was restrained. This was not so much to cause him injurious pain as it was to symbolize Ulbor’s final defeat.

I am not ashamed to say that we put him to the torture in our dungeons soon after we brought him back to Dol Calantir. In this way we learned that he was a chief messenger between Rhudaur and Tharbad. He told us of a regicidal scheme that was underway by a leader of the Hillmen to depose King Ermegil in Rhudaur. It was the first time we heard the name of Broggha, a warlord among the Hillmen who somehow managed to unite the tribes in a common goal of deposing the King of Rhudaur and ridding the entire region of the few Dunedain that remained. Yet before I tell his story allow me to finish with Ulbor and his demise.

Ulbor was an unsightly man to say the least. While being weatherworn, he was tall, but lithe. He had a crooked nose and wore earrings of a foreign make. We knew it was he since he too possessed a ring that matched those of Bearn and the slain assassin. Further still Bearn recognized him at once upon first sight. We struck a deal with Bearn and promised to spare his life if he divulged all that he knew. Without delay he confessed to, not only being hired to kill Calimendil’s would-be assassin, but also of being a member of the Assassin’s Guild and that Ulbor was among its leaders. He took extraordinary measures to secretly traffic weapons and information into Tharbad to the guild members by means of the river and by way of the land on the eastern side of the Gwathlo. Yet most importantly Bearn revealed that Ulbor had personally executed Vorondil, the King’s Heir, with Vorondil’s own sword some twenty years before and had it sent to Angmar as proof of his death, along with Vorondil’s helm. But he lied to us, for we found Vorondil’s sword among Ulbor’s belongings when we captured him in the Angle.

All of this took place before the very eyes and ears of the King and Queen at Dol Calantir. Amariel wept softly while listening to Bearn’s testimony of Ulbor’s cruelty and wickedness. But Calimendil sat stone-faced in great anger and sorrow. I, Iliandor, know not what thoughts may have possessed him at that moment, but I may swear from that day forward the King was a changed man. Calimendil realized in full the gravity of the situation and perilous evil that threatened not only Cardolan, but also all of old Arnor. The years of Relative Peace would soon come to an end and would give way to years of famine, treachery, war and death.

The King showed Ulbor and Bearn no mercy whatsoever after their confession, despite what he promised them beforehand. Calimendil decreed that both men would be executed by hanging the following morning. In this matter I urged the King to delay the executions until we had extracted more information from them regarding the present state of order in Rhudaur and the Hillmen therein, for I felt sure that Ulbor knew more than what he had revealed to us. But the King would not hear of it. He wanted to rid Cardolan of this man as quickly as possible. Alas! Would that he had listened to Amariel and I! The ultimate fate of the war and of the King himself might have been otherwise.

A storm laden with heavy rains pelted much of Cardolan all through the night and following morning, casting a wet and cheerless pall over the King’s court. Nevertheless, the execution of Bearn and Ulbor was to proceed as planned, but lo! When the guards went down into the dungeons to fetch Ulbor from his cell he was already dead! There was no blood, nor did his body bear any traces of cuts, puncture marks or bruises. There was nothing around his body save a small tray of rations that had been given him the night before, most of which had been presumably been consumed by Ulbor. The only explanation I could arrive at was that he had somehow managed to poison himself with the food given to him. Yet who among the King’s court would provide Ulbor with such a poison? That would forever remain a mystery, alas. Yet it seemed plain that someone among Calimendil’s staff provided him with the necessary means to end his own life. Thus Ulbor eluded justice in the end and provoked the King’s wrath. Further still, the King then had to ascertain who the traitor among his court had been.

But the execution of Bearn proceeded despite his pleas for mercy, and he was hung before the entire court, as were a handful of Ulbor’s captured men. Calimendil insisted that his sons, Berandil and Bregardil, witness the hangings, for he wanted them to look upon the faces of the enemies of the King and Queen of Cardolan. But the King had Ulbor’s dead body taken to the heart of the city of Tharbad where it was hung by the neck from a tree where all who passed by there could see it. This served not only as a warning to the King’s enemies but also to taunt the hidden and secretive members of the Assassin’s Guild in the city and lure them out of their anonymity. This was a thing new and unheard of before then and the people of Tharbad did not like it. Not even Calimendil’s father, who had always been an unpopular King among the folk of Tharbad, dared such a deed. Furthermore, most thought that Bearn was executed unjustly and should have been granted pardon. It marked another turning point for Calimendil and his court. Though the populace of Tharbad had enjoyed a period of economic freedoms under Calimendil’s rein, they now began to turn on him once again. Many of the King’s royal ordinances and decrees were ignored or violated. The King’s guards within the city had difficulty maintaining law and order and soon afterwards Tharbad once again began its spirally descent into a state of uncultured barbarism...
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Postby Celebrimbor32 » Wed Jun 08, 2005 1:38 pm

OF THE ENEMIES

By the year 1294 Calimendil had sat upon the throne as King of Cardolan for over twenty years, during which time the people enjoyed a fruitful period free from war and invasion. Though his initial popularity eventually waned in Tharbad most everyone else seemed content with his rule, save a number of the noble princes who dwelt in various places throughout the realm. They strongly resented Calimendil’s control over them and their diminished power following the death of Tarandil, who had been more willing to grant special favors and privileges to them. I must admit that I never fully understood Calimendil’s reasoning for doing so at the time, for it seemed to go against good sense. Yet as time wore on it seemed to me (and others as well) that by then Calimendil had acquired an appetite for power that resembled that of his late grandfather, Ardornil, Third King of Cardolan.

I became increasingly alarmed by reports of violent raids and skirmishes upon our subjects in lower Minhiriath by orcs, which hitherto had been almost unheard of. During Tarandil’s reign Echormoth had been a champion among the people for achieving the near eradication of these foul creatures. Now they were multiplying once more. Our scouts and spies that kept their eyes and ears focused ever upon Rhudaur and the mountain passes told us of increased activity in the Misty Mountains between the dwarves and orcs, and by 1302 we heard that a full-scale war had erupted between them. All traffic coming over the mountain passes ceased completely. Rumors of a great shadow of evil in the north soon reached us by way of Arthedain; an evil that bore great hatred for all the Dunedain. The weather we experienced became severe during this period. The winter of 1304 was especially harsh, even as far south as Tharbad. Heavy snows and ice fell upon Dol Calantir and much of Cardolan causing great suffering and hardship. The river Gwathlo froze over, allowing wolves and other undesirable creatures to cross into lower Cardolan. It was also the first time that we heard the name of the Witch King, lord of Angmar. Yet we still knew next to nothing regarding who or what he was.

Now Ermegil had been King of Rhudaur for well nigh seven and thirty years by then. His relationship with Tarandil had always been poor and the two kings seldom communicated with one another. When Calimendil took the throne he generously offered Ermegil a fresh supply of horses and arms as a goodwill gesture so that the outnumbered Dunedain there could fend off threats from the Hillmen. This was a good move by Calimendil, as no one desired for the Hillmen to overrun Rhudaur. But alas! That was indeed to be its fate.

Sometime between the years 1304 and 1307 Broggha became the first of the Hillmen to achieve and alliance between the rival tribes of Hillmen that dwelt in the green and rugged country of Rhudaur. The tale of rivals Broggha and Calimendil and the long war between them comprises the bulk of the remainder of my tale and is at times grisly and even horrific reading. For this I do not apologize, as I feel that this is necessary in order to emphasize Calimendil’s great personal sacrifice. I lived through most of these deeds myself, so you may be sure that I am qualified to speak on behalf of the King and his sons.

Ermegil marked the last of the Dunedain kings to sit upon the throne of Rhudaur. He was also undoubtedly the least effective. His obsession and jealousy of Tarandil and Arthedain’s former king, Celebrindor, blinded his sight to such a degree that he stationed well over half of his garrison and soldiery in and around Amon Sul, leaving only a scant amount to guard him and his own territory. Ermegil made his abode at the castle of Cameth Brin. It was a very old and lofty keep that sat upon a tall and lonely hill of granite, the top of which jutted outwards impossibly far to a point like a crooked finger. The Hillmen in ages past had shunned that bald and naked hill fearing that is was haunted by the ghosts of dwarves that had long ago delved their tunnels within it. Far below the ramparts of Ermegil’s castle was Tanoth Brin, a village that lay beneath the long shadows of the hill. In better days it used to house many a diverse population. In Ermegil’s time it was largely infested with Dunlendings and men from far away places and uncertain origin. Many secret agents from Angmar dwelt there, as did Ermegil’s cavalry.

There was nothing remarkable about Broggha in his early years. He was the illegitimate son of a chieftain among a tribe of Hillmen somewhere in the highlands of the Ettenmoors. We know that he had many siblings that later rallied around his banner for protection after he ascended to power. But they were never close to him and he conspired with others to evict them from his land. To prove his worth it was said that his father had him brought into the wilds of that mystical forest in the heart of Rhudaur that was called the Yfelwyd at the age of twelve. There he was left alone to fend for himself and find his way home with nothing more than the clothes on his back, which he did. He learned the ways of the wild quickly and was a skilled hunter. All Hillmen learned the skill at an early age. But unlike his fellows Broggha was cruel to the animals he captured and enjoyed torturing them ere he slew them. He was also said to have planned and achieved the murder of a rival chieftain at the age of fourteen.

By the time he reached adulthood he commanded a large brigade of warriors into a full-scale battle not only against orcs from the mountains but also against rival tribes. When his father was slain in combat against the Dunedain from Arthedain Broggha assumed temporary command of his entire tribe until another leader could be agreed upon. But Broggha would not relinquish his power and instead bribed other chieftains to rally around him and proclaim him to be their supreme chieftain. He gradually became known as the Lord of the Hillmen in Rhudaur, and the ranks of his men swelled to so great a number that few others would dare to resist him. Even more than a few Dunlendings, long the foes of the Hillmen, swore allegiance to Broggha and joined his army. It was not long afterwards that his fame and strength became known to the Witch King in the north and soon afterwards the agents of Angmar struck a secret deal with him.

King Ermegil knew full well of Broggha but failed to see him as a potential threat, for he never dreamt that the warring tribes of Hillmen would ever agree to unite under a single faction. It was a fatal miscalculation. The garrisons under his command resided in the village of Tanoth Brin and were comprised mostly of various Northmen and some Dunlendings. Well over half of the loyal Dunedain were commanded to dwell at Amon Sul in the west, leaving only a few residing at Cameth Brin and the village below. Of these few some had become corrupt and sold their king’s secrets to Broggha’s spies.

By the year 1306 Broggha had undoubtedly become the Hillmen’s unrivaled leader. Many tribes swore allegiance to him and the Hillmen became a unified force as no other time before then or after. Broggha left the vastness of the Ettenmoors and migrated southwards where he sacked Dol Duniath, Ermegil’s most favored northern outpost. The Dunedain that were stationed there were slain and the castle plundered. No one there would survive the assault and thus Ermegil knew not of the encroaching danger. Broggha made the castle his temporary dwelling-place, which now put him in close proximity to Cameth Brin, which lay nigh a great rocky bend in the river Hoarwell, some two-day’s ride southwest of Dol Duniath.

There came a time of midsummer when Broggha mustered his forces together and led his people on foot to the lands nigh Cameth Brin. When they stormed their way through the countryside they sacked the small villages therein and burned many of the houses. The men living there were forced to join Broggha’s army or else perish. Many of the women and children were enslaved and sent to unknown places. This was a reckless and evil deed to be sure, but it was not the worst.

When Broggha at last approached the hills that fenced in the lofty heights of Cameth Brin he met with resistance from a force sent out by Ermegil, who had got wind of Broggha’s approaching army. A battle was fought amid the wooded hills and rocks of the region but the forces of Ermegil were too few and they were scattered and destroyed. A few of the officers of Ermegil’s army were said to have begged for mercy from Broggha and offered to turn on their king by leading Broggha into the secret ways of Cameth Brin by way of the ancient dwarven tunnels delved in the hill. But Broggha refused them and had all them cruelly beheaded, save one whom he spared.

The Hillmen swept through the forests that lead to Cameth Brin unchallenged. When they drew nigh the eaves of the wood Broggha ordered his forces to halt. There he saw in the distance for the first time the treeless hill of Cameth Brin and the castle of King Ermegil, perched upon the very precipice. Ermegil knew well that Broggha would attempt to approach the hill by means of this route. Yet he knew not that Broggha had sent a force of warriors ahead of him and to the west where they turned away from the hill and circled it from afar in order to attack and quickly seize the village of Tanoth Brin from below while Broggha assaulted the tower of Cameth Brin.

The sack of Tanoth Brin was resisted more fiercely than anticipated. Many of Ermegil’s remaining loyal Dunedain were garrisoned in the village and they mounted a stiff opposition to the Hillmen by showering them with arrows from over the walls. Rhuggha, son of Broggha and leader of the assault, was slain in this way. All the while swarms of Hillmen rushed up the steep slope of Cameth Brin towards the castle of Ermegil, who watched with horror from his high chamber window. More volleys of darts were shot through the air from the high ramparts of the castle inflicting their deadly damage upon the enemies, and for a while Broggha recalled his forces back down the slope nigh the eaves of the wood, just beyond the range of Ermegil’s arrows.

Seeing that the long march up the bare slope was perilous and that the walls of the castle could not be breached, Broggha decided to lay siege to both Cameth Brin and the village below. Many months passed in this way. Ermegil sat in his chamber with his wife and Queen, Halmedis, who begged the King to surrender Cameth Brin to Broggha in exchange for their freedom. But Ermegil refused, for he had already ordered the flaring of the great beacon atop the tower in order to summon aid from the Dunedain outposts as far west as Amon Sul. He penned all his hope upon this last desperate action and trusted in the impregnable walls of his castle to hold his enemies at bay until help would arrive. But his pleas for aid were never answered.

The village of Tanoth Brin suffered the worst. Four months into the siege the folk therein had consumed well nigh all their remaining food supply and were said to have resorted to eating grass and leather in order to survive. Even the rats became hunted prey.

Now there was an ancient tunnel was delved into the hillside that ran up to Cameth Brin atop the hill. Ermegil could have eased the suffering of the people of Tanoth Brin by allowing food to be brought to them by this secret route, but he was a greedy man and horded it all for himself. Furthermore, he ordered the tunnel blocked and sealed up for fear of incursion.

After the sixth month of the siege winter set in and many of the population of the village had perished. At last they could stand it no longer and finally opened the gates to the invading Hillmen. The village was sacked and plundered, but not burned by order of Broggha. Only the fittest were spared and were summarily gathered up and sent into the Misty Mountains to live the rest of their lives as slaves to the orcs in their hellish mines. Those that were frail or weak were murdered.

Ermegil watched the sack of Tanoth Brin from the castle above. No doubt his heart must have quailed at the sight, for now his only possible route if exit was cut off by his foes. He was utterly trapped with no hope of escape. There he sat as the days, weeks and even months rolled slowly by as his enemies loitered around all the surrounding lands.

The winter became harsh and cold and ere long his supply of wood was gone and Cameth Brin became a dark and frozen dungeon to all its remaining inhabitants. The King’s only daughter, whose name is now forgotten, died from the cold in the eighth month of the siege, as did many others. No aid ever arrived to deliver them from their fate and Ermegil openly cursed Arthedain and Cardolan for their failure to deliver him in his time of need and swore to exact revenge upon them in whatever way he could contrive...
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Postby Celebrimbor32 » Wed Jun 15, 2005 12:19 am

OF THE ENEMIES, cont.

“If my own son were such a wretch as you I, myself, would carry the faggots to burn him…” ~ Broggha, chieftain of the Hillmen in Rhudaur

The Siege of Cameth Brin wore on. By the end of the seventh month Broggha performed yet another of his barbarous acts of cruelty. He began to fear that many of his fellow Hillmen were restless in the cold and snow and would soon abandon him and go home. Therefore Broggha ordered small trees to be felled and the trunks of them cut bare of leaves. These he used as large stakes that were propped upwards in the ground upon the bare slope of the hill, within plain view of Ermegil’s window. It was said that he called aloud up to the King and taunted him saying, “Hail, Ermegil! Former King of Rhudaur! Here at last we meet at the end. No longer shall you mercilessly hunt and subjugate our folk at your despicable pleasure. The Hillmen have suffered overlong at the hands of you and your line. The Dunedain are finished! Their reign in Rhudaur ends with you. As a trapped rat in a cage do I now have you! You may alight your beacon as often as you like, Ermegil! No one will aid you now. Dol Duniath has fallen and is mine! Yet if you come forth and surrender your castle I will at least spare the lives of the women and children you have penned up there with you. If you do not come forth things will go ill for them.”

Small doubt Ermegil heard the words of Broggha plainly but made no offer of reply. Then Broggha, in an effort to move Ermegil to action, called forth two of the captured Dunedain men from Tanoth Brin and had them fastened to the wooden stakes with chains and burnt alive. The cries of the men in agony echoed among the silent walls of Cameth Brin as Ermegil watched them burn helplessly from his chamber. Halmedis finally convinced the King to lead whatever men he had left to him forth from the castle and make a heroic end for themselves. But by then many of them had grown weak from lack of food during the long siege and barely able to hold either shield or lance from their steeds. Nevertheless, Ermegil led his men suddenly forth from the gates of Cameth Brin and charged forth down the hill to meet Broggha.

The lord of the Hillmen must have been silently amused at the display before him. But the final battle of Ermegil was a rout. All his men were thrown from their mounts and slain by the Hillmen. Ermegil, though wounded, was taken alive by Broggha and brought perforce to a high chamber of the King’s tower that looked westwards, high above the village of Tanoth Brin. Here also Halmedis was brought. But the King and Queen’s young son, Celedor, was taken to the dungeons below where he would not be able to witness his father’s fate.

Broggha was as ruthless a leader the Hillmen ever had, of that I may vouch personally. His actions after usurping the throne of Rhudaur were terrible. Yet the personal humiliation that he forced Ermegil to endure after his immediate capture proved to many that he was as low as the orcs than infest this Middle-earth. After all, though he may have been unworthy to sit upon the throne of an Arnorian sister-realm, Ermegil was still Dunedan and undeserving of such torment. Rumors of his cruel treatment have come down to us over time, but I will not repeat them here.

When Broggha finally grew weary of his amusement he at last had Ermegil stripped of all clothing and stood upon a stone precipice of a tower that overlooked the village, some eight hundred feet below. There upon that lofty rampart, as a gentle winter snow fell down around him, Ermegil gazed far away to the west, and behold! He descried a twinkling light off in the shadowy distance. It was the very light of Amon Sul, where he himself had ordered the bulk of his warriors to reside in order to keep watch upon the actions of his rivals. There they remained still, or so he thought.

Broggha then ordered Ermegil to leap from the precipice to his death. If he refused he would have his young son brought forth and executed before his very eyes.

Knowing his end was at hand Ermegil said farewell to Halmedis, his Queen, ere he cursed Broggha with hatred. But Halmedis, who was to be spared the price of death, begged Broggha to let her die with her King and husband. To this Broggha consented, but Ermegil protested and sought to dissuade her. But it was to no avail. In the end both Ermegil and Halmedis clasped one another’s hand atop the tower before saying their final prayers to the Valar. Then they leaned forward and fell headlong through the night sky together until their bodies smote the rooftops of the village below. It was an unjust and malicious end to the line of Kings in Rhudaur, and testimony to the evil that was only beginning to spread forth from Angmar in the north.

Broggha had at last achieved that which no other enemy of the Dunedain had done before him: the final termination of Elendil’s line in Rhudaur. Only Ermegil’s son, Celedor, remained. For a long while Broggha knew not what to do with him and kept him locked in the dungeons of Cameth Brin. No uncorrupted men of the west remained in Rhudaur after the death of Ermegil and Broggha thought it best to raise the boy in his own image, and so he did for at least a handful of years after Broggha’s usurpation of the throne. But at length it was believed that the Witch King in Angmar thought it unwise allow any son of a former Dunedain king to dwell within the bounds of Rhudaur, and Celedor was sent into the north where all tidings of him ceased and his ultimate fate unknown.

After Broggha had deposed Ermegil he had the King’s broken body fetched from the village and brought back up to Cameth Brin, where he presented it to his fellow lords as proof of his extraordinary accomplishment. Then he surprised them all by having his men crown him as the new King of Rhudaur. In this the agents from Angmar supported him, for it was the Witch King’s wish to have a puppet-king in Rhudaur to do his bidding. However, not all were of like mind in having Broggha as their king. They had rallied around his banner for the goal of deposing Ermegil, but many of them harboured deep resentment against him for his crimes against their own tribes in the past and openly rebelled against what they saw as a betrayal of trust between them. Then, as often occurs among such folk, hostilities broke out among them and a battle was fought upon the very grounds of the castle. But Broggha had anticipated this and had planned for just such a happenstance.

The new King of Rhudaur called upon the men from Angmar to aid him and they joined his warriors and quickly overcame Broggha’s rivals. It was said by some that these men used black magic to repel the rival Hillmen from Cameth Brin. Elsewhere it is mentioned that the very blades they used were possessed with an evil malice within them. Whatever the truth, the final victory gave Broggha supreme power in all of Rhudaur. It had finally ceased to be a sister-realm of Arnor. Now it was officially the proclaimed enemy of Arthedain and Cardolan.

Many of the fellow chieftains of the Hillmen now lay dead within the halls of Cameth Brin. Those that were left were forced to swear oaths of fealty to Broggha ere they departed and returned to their homes empty-handed. Straightway Broggha ordered that all traces of Cameth Brin’s previous Dunedan inhabitants be removed and destroyed in a great bonfire in the outer court. Many books, paintings, tapestries and ancient artifacts went up in smoke that day.

Broggha quickly established a new order of things in Cameth Brin. He appointed new councilmen to serve under him and carry out his orders (many of which actually came from Angmar) and a fresh team of personal bodyguards consisting of various Hillmen and men from Angmar, and they followed him wherever he went. He ordered that new construction be undertaken on a road that would connect Cameth Brin to Angmar in the far north, the length of which ran through the barren foothills of the Misty Mountains, out of view from the prying eyes of the Dunedain to the west. But the eagles of the Hithaeglir were aware of them and soon reported what they saw to the Noldorin elves, who in turn passed on the information to King Malvegil of Arthedain. It was more than a few years later ere he bothered to inform King Calimendil of these new tidings.

If Rhudaur had always been a land of mysterious beauty and danger it became even more so after the fall of Ermegil. At least it had been somewhat navigable before. Now it had become a thoroughly evil place where no man, elf or dwarf went, save in dire need. The few Halflings that dwelt there quickly fled southwards into the Angle and joined their Stoor cousins. Some dared the crossing of the mountains and returned to Wilderland.

The infamous Yfelwyd Forest in the heart of Rhudaur remained a place of ill omen. Trolls and other beasts roamed there at will and made the trodden paths a nightmare for all travellers. Most took the long and hilly road around the forest because of the evil of that wood. It was a wood that I would become all too familiar with in the years ahead!

Many of the folk who were unfortunate enough to have lived their entire lives in Rhudaur now found themselves trapped within the confines Broggha’s new kingdom and unable to flee. The population had always been somewhat sparse in Rhudaur. Those that chose to remain were subjected to tremendous taxation, and it was extorted from them at will and often very cruelly. Those that attempted to flee Rhudaur were forced to find a crossing of the swift and cold waters of the Hoarwell or else roam the wild lands of the realm to the south through great perils. Few succeeded.

I know not if tidings of King Ermegil’s overthrow reached the ears of those in Arthedain before we heard of it here in Cardolan. It matters little now. But when our few remaining spies returned from the wilds of the north they told us all that they had heard from various folk in the region of the final tragic fate of Ermegil and Halmedis. Though Ermegil had few friends in Cardolan, Calimendil and Amariel were moved deeply by the tidings and were filled with horror and outrage. We knew that this was a great matter that now lay before us and it needed immediate attention, for we now had a new enemy upon our very doorstep.

Angmar became a familiar name to the King now and he sought a way to glean more information about this new and menacing realm in the far north and how they were connected with Broggha in Rhudaur. But he could find few volunteers that were willing to brave the wilds of Rhudaur or the perils of the long and cold road to Angmar in the north. Of this I offered my services to the King but for a long while he refused me, saying that I was too valuable to him. But in the end he yielded on condition that I take at least two companions with me and that we venture only as far as the Angle and southern Rhudaur. Our chief errand was to find the safest and most expedient route that an army could travel up through lower Rhudaur in order to reach the fabled hill of Cameth Brin from the south. It was only then that I realised that the King had already begun to concoct a scheme that would ultimately include a full-scale invasion of Rhudaur and the overthrow of its new and evil overlord...
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Postby Gordis » Sat Jun 25, 2005 11:10 am

It is really a very beautiful and well researched story. It is the best I have found on this site. I have registered here in order to tell you that.

I am glad you have chosen such an interesting period, Arnor and Angmar wars. There are so few stories like yours.

I love your narrative, it looks like a real chronicle but still preserves a touch of author's personality.
You have also invented wonderful names for places in Rhudaur: Cameth Bryn etc., sounds fantastic.
Bravo!

I am waiting eagerly for the next posting!

Gordis
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Postby Celebrimbor32 » Sat Jun 25, 2005 12:11 pm

It was not until the year 1308 that King Calimendil at last permitted me to undertake that daring and most secret of errands: the infiltration of Rhudaur. With me went Berandil, the eldest of the King’s twin sons. Both he and Bregardil had by then matured into outstanding young men and had finally come of age, or so Calimendil deemed them. Amariel objected to Berandil’s inclusion in the espionage mission and sought to dissuade Calimendil on the matter, for the King had not spoken openly to her yet regarding his secret thought of war with Rhudaur. No doubt the Queen began to suspect it.

It was around this time that the quarrels between Calimendil and Amariel erupted, mostly regarding the future of their sons’ well being. Amariel desired to see them both travel to the city of Annuminas and learn the wisdom and culture of the old Westernesse, where the Dunedain there cultivated it more thoroughly than anywhere else. It was, after all, the place of her berth. But Calimendil would not hear of it. He insisted that their two sons be brought up thoroughly Cardolani and taught by him alone. The bitterness in Calimendil’s heart regarding Arthedain had not cooled through the years. Malvegil still refused to remove the ban upon Calimendil that Celebrindor had placed upon him over twenty years previous, though it was little more than a symbolic ban by then. Nevertheless Calimendil would not permit his children to be fostered by strangers. Further still, his estranged sister, Arriana, still dwelt at Annuminas with her husband, Girwaedh. The King still regarded this man as his foe and wanted nothing to do with him.

Berandil and I, along with two others, made the dangerous venture northwards through the Angle and on into the south of Rhudaur that year. I shall not delve into the complexities of that journey here, for it would require yet another book to describe it in full. But when we at last returned to Dol Calantir after nearly eight weary months of toilsome travel we were nearly spent in both body and mind. The King listened eagerly to everything that we told him of our journey. We even made maps of the lands that we traveled through and presented them to him for his approval. He was shocked by some of the tidings we gave him regarding the scarcity of population that we encountered in lower Rhudaur. What few folk that had dwelt there in the past were gone now. Many abandoned houses and huts we saw north of the great road. Most were empty or had already been plundered. Of these we were forced to take cover in more than once from the weather and roaming bands of Hillmen.

Most astonishing of all were the trees themselves! Never before have I beheld such immense natural structures. Many towered well above one hundred feet high. Surely they are among the oldest living things in all of Middle-earth. But they offered us little protection from the marauding horror of the forest-trolls that hunted us as we traversed the rugged landscape. Doubtless, these foul creatures devoured many of the people as they fled hence away from Broggha’s tyrannical hold on the north. Never before had the trolls been so aggressive or numerous in Rhudaur as they were after the rise of Broggha. They were an effective obstacle for travelers and spies and served to fence out all intruders. Broggha used them to great effect. This was especially true of the mysterious Yfelwyd forest, which lay directly in the path of anyone desiring to approach Cameth Brin from the south.

King Calimendil later took me aside in private and confided in me with a great matter. He confessed his desire to wage war against Rhudaur and purposed to drive Broggha out from Cameth Brin, or even kill him if possible. But such a war would require a great effort and cooperation from all of the Cardolani princes and their subjects. Even further it would require a significant reduction in the amount of soldiers and cavalrymen at Amon Sul. While I certainly agreed that some action ought to be taken in regards to Rhudaur I felt that maintaining a firm presence at Amon Sul was our first priority.

Then Calimendil himself traveled northwards and arrived unannounced at Amon Sul to exercise his sovereign right to gaze into the Palantir that was housed inside the great tower. He never told me exactly what he beheld in that great seeing-stone, but he assured me that he knew that Ermegil and his queen had suffered greatly ere they died.

After returning from Amon Sul the King seemed even more intent on invading Rhudaur. All his thought was bent on how to best wage a war against the evil Broggha and his allies. It seemed remarkable to me how Calimendil, a once gentle-natured and even-tempered young lad who, back then, showed no interest at all in power or sovereignty, had become a powerful and war-seeking king of the Dunedain. Not even his beloved music was able to turn his attention away from what was happening in Rhudaur at the time. It was war that he desired and war that he ultimately achieved.

I knew that war would soon be inevitable. Yet I felt strongly that all quarrels with Arthedain be put aside so that a new and lasting alliance be forged between kings Malvegil and Calimendil. I urged the King to do this and took it for granted that he would agree with me. But alas! The King had a far different idea in mind. He wanted the spoils of Rhudaur for himself. “By no means,” I recall Calimendil saying to me, “shall Malvegil partake in the offing of Broggha’s head. I alone stake my claim to that unlovely trophy and will share it with no one, save my two sons!”

I was dismayed by the King’s plan and sought to dissuade him for many days ere I at last went to the Queen. Amariel knew that her husband would wage war with Broggha, but knew not that he intended to exclude Arthedain. When she discovered that both Berandil and Bregardil were to march with the King into Rhudaur she was filled with dread and confronted Calimendil. I do not know what he said to her or her to him, yet in the end he relented and assured the Queen that Bregardil would remain behind in case any disaster befall the King while at war. And so it was decreed, though little to the liking of Bregardil, who wished to march to war with his father and brother.

In the year 1309 Amariel gave berth to a baby girl, whom she named Calime. It marked the final year of joy in the lives of the King’s family while at court, for all the subsequent years that remained to the King and Queen were marred with war. But the Queen made a great fuss over little Calime. Amariel loved her very dearly, and as she grew Calime became a near mirror image of her mother. Though I never got to know her well before the long years of war, I could see that young Calime was a bright and clever little girl. I also felt keenly that she would one day become a key and pivotal figure in the complex history and politics of the Dunedain culture, though I could never fully explain why.

Both Berandil and Bregardil regarded their little sister with indifference at best and seldom ever showed any interest in Calime. Both brothers were disappointed with their mother’s decision to bear another child at that time. In this matter they were selfish, and sought to distract their father’s attention away from their sister. They petitioned the King to lower the conscription age of all Cardolani males from sixteen years to fourteen in order to swell the numbers of the army. They besought their father to enlist scores of hired mercenaries from outside the realm to join the forces of Cardolan in the war. Yet most of all they told him of new tidings of the illegal Assassin’s Guild in Tharbad, and of a new plot to kill the King of Cardolan ere he could wage war.

King Calimendil was a shrewd and perceptive man. For his part he loved his new daughter greatly and spent as much time with her as could in the beginning. But tidings delivered to him by his scouts in the wild ever urged him onwards with his war-plans, and thus consumed a great deal of his time. Rumors reached us from the Angle that the halflings there were being attacked and enslaved by evil men. Many were slain and their bodies discarded in the river, where they drifted south to Tharbad. The King had not forgotten the aid he received from the little folk in capturing Ulbor, bane of Vorondil. He had sworn to protect the Stoors forever afterwards in whatever way he could, and he used this reasoning as part of his decision to invade Rhudaur.

By the final months of 1310 Calimendil had well nigh all his pieces in place on the chessboard of war. He awaited only the return of his scouts and spies from the north. But they did not return. Yet by 1311, when the King would wait no longer, a haggard-looking man claiming to be from Tharbad presented himself to our guards, demanding admittance to Dol Calantir to deliver a letter to the King. It was from none other than Broggha himself. The letter was addressed to “Calimendil, the King of Weaklings and Cravens”. I remember well the content of the ridiculous letter, which was little more than an invective tirade from the overlord of Rhudaur. In it he mocked and derided Calimendil and accused him of cruelty in the executions of Ulbor and other guild-members from Tharbad, as well as unjust and despotic suppression of the people:

“…Beware, O Calimendil the tyrant! For now you may be sure that the liberation of the folk of Tharbad is near at hand at last. Their suffering will soon be a thing of the past for them. You may curse them, enslave them, and even unrightfully burn down their houses in the dead of night as your father did before you. Yet know this: I am Broggha, King of Rhudaur, Lord of the Hillmen, friend and ally of Tharbad! Cardolan now has a new neighbor at her doorstep and she had best get used to it. I have spies in many places now; some of which may even be among you! So you had best watch yourself!…”

As for our scouts that did not return, Broggha wrote, “…you may wonder what became of your skulking spies that you cowardly sent into harm’s way while you dined in comfort in your home. We nabbed them some time ago, of that I assure you. They will receive the same treatment, as all spies deserve. Here they will remain until I am satisfied that they have revealed all they know to me of you and your rat-infested court. Yet if you demand proof of my claim then I say to you – go forth from your halls for once and visit the caves nigh the river Gwathlo where the embankments are high and rocky. Therein you shall find your prize and see that I do not lie!”

Calimendil read the letter thoroughly twice over ere he spoke. He immediately ordered that this messenger from Tharbad be held and interrogated in the dungeons. But he knew little that availed us, for he was nothing more than a hired errand-runner. The King decided to spare this man and use him to relay a message of his own to King Broggha. But ere he did he ordered that a team of scouts should travel up to the caves along the river to the north and find what they could. But alas! In the back of an abandoned bear cave they found the decaying body of a dead man. His throat had been slashed and his tongue cut out. They brought back the body of the man to the King and he knew him to be Anborn, a Cardolani captain of the guard whom I personally had charged with heading the spy mission into Rhudaur. I nearly wept when I beheld what Broggha had done to him. But Anborn was taken to the burial mounds in Tyrn Gorthad for his eternal rest.

Straightway word was sent to Arthedain. I persuaded the King to utilize his fragile friendship with King Malvegil to obtain whatever information he might in regards to Broggha and his movements in Rhudaur. But Calimendil could not resist the urge to offer Broggha a reply of his own to the letter he had received, and thus a bizarre series of hostile correspondences ensued between Calimendil and Broggha...
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Postby Celebrimbor32 » Sat Jun 25, 2005 12:25 pm

Gordis - Welcome to TORC! Thank you very much for your kind words! It's encouraging to know that I have at least a couple of faithful readers out there :) Yes, I have always wished that Tolkien would have written a bit more regarding the old Arnor period. He writes a bit about Arthedain in the Appendices of RotK, but that's about it as far as I know...I thought it would be interesting to tell the tale in the First Person from the viewpoint of one of the characters in the story. I got the idea from a medieval story I read once written by one of the knights of the crusades.

I can't take all of the credit for the names, however. I borrowed the names of Calimendil, Broggha and Cameth Brin from one of the old I.C.E. MERP modules for the role-playing game. Most of the other names are my own, though...Also, I always welcome any constructive critisism you or others might have for me to improve my story! I reckon I am about 75% finished now.

By coincidence, I was just about to post another installment as you posted your comments in here. So there you are... :)
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Postby Gordis » Sun Jun 26, 2005 2:39 am

Thank you so much for your kind words, Celebrimbor.

Don’t allow the scarcity of reviews discourage you. I am sure many others read your story and love it, only people that enjoy that kind of stories are not of the kind that shout their feelings all over the net. One has to be bookish and mature enough for it.
Yes, sadly, to have MANY readers you have to write a totally different story. A Legomance or a Tenth-Walker or a Mary Sue thing :( . But it will just be another Legomance, nothing else, avidly read and applauded by fangirls and immediately forgotten.

I am really very interested in Arnor and Angmar wars. It must have been an awesome time! So sad Tolkien never wrote more about it. What a setting for fics! All these intrigues and spies and wars and characters like Arvedui, Malbeth, Glorfindel, Elrond, Earnur, Gandalf, Saruman and the fearsome Witch-King :) .
I search the web for fanfics on the period… but they are so few. 4-5 at most.
Perhaps you are doing the same? What is your favorite story?

Now more about your story. I liked that you never told us what exactly Ermegil and his queen had to suffer. It is just the way a decent chronicler would adopt. And it makes me shudder inwardly more than the accurate description of the torture.

Thank you for the last posting.
It is surprising, how little knowledge Calimendil had about Rhudaur. Even the maps were lacking. Wasn't it all within the old Arnor? I would think some old maps could be available.
And what did Calimendil know of Angmar? Had he heard rumours about the new King there and what was he like?

Your last posting reflected the change in Calimendil character quite realistically. Indeed, power and responsibility change men in that way. It reminds me of Saruman’s words to Frodo at their last meeting: “You have grown, halfling. You have become wise and cruel” (quoting from memory, sorry). Well, Calimendil has become cruel and bitter, but hardly wise, sadly. On the other hand, I think, he had no idea what kind of force had risen in Angmar, and believed he had to deal with some Hillmen only.
I feel the story will soon come to the bitter end.

Actually, if you care to write more stories on the period (I hope you do!), I think the story of the only son of Ermigil spared by Broggha and sent to Angmar could be awesome. It would allow a close-up on the Witch-King, and Angmar in general. But perhaps it would be too dark, I don’t know.

Also I have always wondered about the beautiful Cardolani lady buried in Tyrn Gorthad, whose brooch Tom took as a present for Goldberry. Perhaps you could tell us her story?

Best wishes,
Gordis.
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