Letters of Firiel

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Letters of Firiel

Postby Valandil3430 » Mon Nov 06, 2006 10:01 pm

I first posted these on another forum, beginning in June of 2004. It was in a thread entitled "Letters from Middle Earth". Someone had found a trunk full of old documents that appeared to be of Middle Earth origin. She asked others to give their assistance in translating them. I dutifully pulled out a bundle which were tied together. There ended up being 12 letters in the bundle.

And that's how I got started writing fan fiction...

I'll dole them out one or two at a time, so as not to overwhelm you with the whole thing at once.
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Postby Valandil3430 » Mon Nov 06, 2006 10:03 pm

First in a series:

10 Ninui, 1940

Dear Mother,

Greetings. How is gran-mama doing? Give her our best wishes and hopes for a graceful recovery. Our thoughts are with you and her when we look to the West each evening.

Without even your presence, your court’s late winter outing to South Ithilien appears on its way to becoming a great success. We have 24 men and 24 ladies, with a total entourage of over 100, counting our guards, messengers, servants and the musicians. We began with a 3 day boat trip down the Anduin to Pelargir. We stayed there only 2 days, then on down toward the Sea, until we reached the Poros after 1 day more. It was slow going upstream, but after 4 days of that, we debarked at the Crossings. Our pace and path made the trip so much slower than riding overland, but the travel was an enjoyable part of the outing… and the slow boats made for good chances to mingle and to talk. Every day we drew names to see who would be in each boat (6 men and ladies apiece, to keep things even) – and, worry not, we were well protected from the winds and cold with canvas coverings.

It was at the Crossings where we met most of the guards and servants and then, equipped each with a horse, we spent 1 more day at a pleasant pace riding up into the hill country of South Ithilien, along the north slope of the spur from Ephel Duath, which reaches to the Crossings. This took us to Earnil’s estate. We have now had only two days here, but will stay quite a bit longer. Already it’s looking to be as memorable a trip as that the summer before last, when you accompanied us to the Argonauth, Angrenost and the Aglarond – or even the year before that when we all spent the entire summer in Anfalas.

I’m not certain of my brothers, but this is the first time I recall being away from both you and father. While Artamir still remains aloof, he does seem a bit more relaxed. Faramir is quite the charmer among the ladies of the court (only myself excluded, for the younger of my two elder brothers charmed me long ago). It’s hard to tell for sure whom he even favors, though I suspect he may be trying to force Artamir’s hand a bit. Once Artamir makes his choice, the rest of us will be free to make our own matches. And with the way this trip is shaping up, my hopes are that by the second winter hence, you may find yourself with only two knees to share among three grand-children.

Well, after all mother, I WILL be 44 this year! Although this leaves me still quite young for a Numenorean woman, and my best years are by no means behind me, STILL I wish to get on with things. And I wish Artamir would DECIDE! There seem to be three leading candidates; Gilaewen, Culuial and Silahist. Faramir has been… well, ‘testing’ them I should say. Artamir – I don’t know if this bothers him, or if he simply observes and Faramir helps him make his choice, or if he inclines toward another whom I suspect not. Artamir is quite hard to read – though I imagine this is right for one who will be King someday. Please don’t misunderstand me either. I love Artamir greatly, but we have discussed this all before.

Mother, with whom do you think I am best to be matched? Oh, of course I have my favorites. And of course, the young men of your court are disinclined to display their own interests until the Heir has chosen. When you assembled our court, I imagined that all the men apart from my brothers would vie for my hand, when the time came. Now, I am not so sure that to marry the daughter of King Ondoher, and the sister of our future King Artamir, is such a thing to be desired. Besides all that, I feel myself less pretty, less witty, less graceful than the other ladies of the court. Is it so, or am I unjust to myself?

Oh there is Celebron, he seems worthy enough and might desire a match. Still, he bores me at times. Most times, I should say. Tendumar has possibilities. For ease on the eyes though, it may be difficult to surpass the new guard from Lamedon whom father has in the palace. Oh – do not tell father I say so, or I’m sure I’ll not see him again, but still, he is fair to look upon… and regrettably, not among the guardsmen sent along on this trip.

Earnil seems to be going quite well enough. He is happy, I think. Worry no longer on this one either, my dearest mother. I have been over that particular interest for some time. This visit only confirms it. I know that I was a bit on the young side when he desired to marry, and suspect father explicitly forbade it for that reason, for I thought surely that Earnil had desired my hand then. Still, the mind plays with what might have been. His wife seems distant toward me, as though I were still a rival, but it’s truly not the case.

Their son Earnur has been a great delight to all your court. He can be no more than 10 or 12 and is a bundle of energy. He delights in competing with our young lords in sword practice… as well as attempting to wrestle them, though he’s still far too small to closely contest any among them. The young ladies think him handsome, but he is too young to pay heed to that.

We rested yesterday, recovering from our travels with good food, soft music and light activity. Today’s activity was quite vigorous. After a small breakfast, we spent the entire day outside. It’s just cold enough that the snow does not melt – and we were sheltered from the heavy winds. The plants begin to peek up through the ice now – and some of the brightly colored birds have returned. We saw squirrels and other small animals starting to venture forth. The young men began to play a bit roughly in the snow – throwing one another into drifts and making balls of snow to hurl at one another – or to push into one another’s faces. Not a few even of the ladies joined into this action… led by your own daughter, I fear. We all laughed so… I believe even Artamir had a great time – and none could out-do him, unless perhaps our cousin Minohtar, but that would be a close call to make. We all then sat in the piles of snow, laughing and watching our breath form clouds of frost. This day of snow was quite the delight.

We went in just at dusk, changed out of our wet clothes into our formal outfits and gathered in Earnil’s great hall for the evening entertainment. All our ladies wore the rose-colored dresses and the gentlemen wore black. We ate such a feast – with hot drinks to warm us, then danced long into the night, finally sitting and talking in small groups. As you can see, I stay up quite late to complete this letter to you.

Mother, we know you planned to come along on this trip and we sorely miss you. It is unfortunate that your own mother’s poor health forced your sudden visit to her side in Belfalas – and we of the court, most especially your sons and your daughter, deeply appreciate that you and father have allowed the remainder of us to continue with the trip as planned. Remember me once more to my gran-mama, as well as Uncle Oldo and his family. Remember me also to young Imrazor, son of Adrahil, if you see him once more. It would please me greatly if you were inclined to invite him to join your court. I expect he would consider me quite old for himself, although it’s only two or three years, for men always seek to match with one younger than themselves. I fondly remember our times as playmates in the days of childhood, either when we visited Belfalas, or when Prince Adrahil brought his family to Minas Anor. And if not me, then perhaps someone else of our court would catch his eye. Many of the young ladies of our kingdom are in your court and he will not find the like where he is. Tell him I jest that the Elven girls of Edhellond would surely not find him to their liking!

I hope to see you soon mother. I retire now to bed for the night, but wanted to fill you in on events of the trip to date, and needed to finish it up tonight, for Artamir will send the first messengers out to both you and father before first light tomorrow morning.

May Eru and the Valar watch over you.

Your daughter,

Firiel
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Postby Valandil3430 » Mon Nov 06, 2006 10:04 pm

Second in a series:

13 Ninui, 1940

Dearest Mother,

I know not what to say for I am in deep distress. If the care of my grandmother is in good hands other than your own, can you come to Minas Anor right away? I beseech you mother!

A messenger has just come hither from there and father has summoned me home. He has promised me in marriage! Nor is it to any of your court, or of our kingdom, nor even the lands on our borders… he gives my hand to the prince of some distant northern land of which I had never heard!

Artamir tells me it is Arthedain, and that they are our far kinsmen, though long sundered by the years. Numenoreans even, as are we, but that they have fallen into insignificance! He tells me further that Mithrandir, that Grey Pilgrim, has long urged our father to renew old ties with them. Oh! Though I loved his visits and his stories as a little girl, if he is at the root of this, he shall one day feel my wrath!

Father never seemed willing to marry me for an alliance, so I had falsely considered myself safe from such a fate. Why not Frumgar, son of Marhwohli? Although not Numenoreans, they are allies – and I would be nearer to you, as they are just beyond our northern borders. My worst fear on such lines was that we would renew ties with Umbar and father would marry me to a prince of that house… but THIS seems far worse! Surely those further north are even LESS civilized!

Artamir will accompany me, for father sent for him as well. Because of my great distress, he has permitted me the use of another messenger to send you this appeal, although our last rider to you was sent only days ago. We leave before dawn tomorrow morning, by horse – and one part of the mounted guards ride with us.

Please come at once mother – and intervene to father on my behalf.

Eru and the Valar watch over you – and me as well.

Your loving daughter,

Firiel
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Postby Valandil3430 » Wed Nov 08, 2006 5:34 am

Third in a series:

22 Ninui, 1940

Dear Mother,

I send you greetings and all my love. Your message has reached me just today at Minas Anor with your regrets that you could not yet come. It seemed good to write you now with an account of more recent events.

You may tarry yet longer in Belfalas, for all here is well.

That is to say, I give you leave, as far as that may matter. For mother, I have met this northern prince and we shall wed. Further, I am… happy!

I know this seems a strange turn of events following my earlier distress. And I regret the time taken away from gran-mama with which you labored over your own message and offered such splendid advice. However, it is advice not to be heeded, for it is no longer needed. I have found the one for me mother, in the place where I did not expect it.

It amuses me to think how you must be beside yourself upon reading these words. Let me tell you more of what has happened:

Artamir and I indeed left Count Earnil’s mountain home before the break of dawn on 14 Ninui (February). I’m certain I was quite a hindrance to Artamir and the mounted guardsmen, for we did not arrive at Minas Anor until late on the 19th. However, Artamir did not seem displeased with the pace, nor did father seem to think we had been overlong when we arrived, for we came a full day before he had commanded. Also, he had news of our impending arrival from Artamir, via messenger.

I had expected we would ride north from the Crossings of Poros, through Ithilien and along Emyn Arnen, up to the Cross-Roads and through the remnants of Osgiliath. Instead, Artamir took us west toward Pelargir, saying that the other passed too far to the north. The very messenger who carried my last letter to you rode with us for the first day, down to the Crossings. The following day though, he picked up his pace and left us behind. We arrived at Pelargir before noon on the 16th and I was a bit surprised we tarried there for the night, as there seemed so much more time to ride. Still, I wished that if we had continued on, my path would have been behind the messenger to Belfalas, and away from what awaited me at home. My mood was quite dark.

Artamir and I spoke but little, by his nature and my mood. I’m certain he would have indulged me if I had been myself, but he was content to let me be. He did tell me that while we were descended in direct line from Anarion, son of Elendil, both of whom had fallen in battle with the Dark Lord, the rulers of Arthedain were descended only of Valandil, who had no part in the war.

Mother, have you ever looked into the ‘seeing-stone’ which my grandfather, King Calimehtar placed in the top of the White Tower once he built it? I saw it once on errand to my grandfather, where I found him gazing into it, surveying scenes of lands about our kingdom. I was but a girl then, but it had a great allure to me, which I never quite forgot. Some few years later, perhaps at 15 or 16, I gave the slip to the guards at the tower base and found the rest of the way unattended. I looked into it. Only for a moment, for I think my conscience gained mastery over my mischief. At first all was like a mist, but then I found that I could see things in it. Things far away, and some things nearer – things mysterious and strange, as well as things mundane. Before long I feared discovery and crept back down the stairs. I even dropped some three rangar from a rear window rather than risk the guards a second time… not that I expected them to harm or hinder me, but I knew they would not keep the secret from grandfather – or from father.

You are the first I have told of this. I think it matters little now, as so much time has passed and such great expectations now await us.

Anyway, I have seen the stone and used it myself only yesterday, and in father’s very presence. This is how it was:

Three hours after mid-day, father, Artamir and I ascended the stairs of the tower and entered the chamber of the stone. By this time, father had told me that the stone had been the means of his contact with Araphant, King of Arthedain and father of my intended. He would not tell me if Mithrandir was involved in all this, but he did tell me that the arrangement had not been finalized and that both fathers wished for their children to consent. I had little hope that my wishes would be considered though and had begun to resign myself to my fate. As you can imagine, I sulked and cursed that stone. How I laugh at myself now – and this was only yesterday.

Oh – I should tell you that father had prepared for me a new dress. And such a dress! It was the last detail I would have expected of him, but it was done. It was dark – a deep blue-gray, but it managed to accentuate my features while maintaining my modesty and my dignity. If I had indeed wished to meet a suitor, it would have been much to my liking. However, in my mood I cursed even that lovely dress. Father bade me put aside my tears of anguish and to give an aspect of good cheer. I determined to try, but my heart was not in it. He gave me also a fine necklace with a silver pendant and a tiara of bright gems to wear.

When father sat first at the stone, we found those from the north already awaiting us. At first though, I saw only mist, then another chamber came into view, and then, as father ‘spoke’ I saw a man like unto my father, but as I stood to one side, he appeared ‘bent’ – as one appears in a bent mirror. He and father seemed to be ‘speaking’ to one another, but without a sound and without moving their lips. I began to find it fascinating, and even tried to ‘listen in’ but could not do so.

After a time of this, the man in the stone removed himself from his seat and was replaced by a younger man. My heart trembled at first, for I knew this had to be the one my father intended for me. Though I could not catch their exchange, father’s tone seemed to change. Although newly acquainted, our two fathers and kings had seemed quite jovial with one another. Father took a sterner visage with the younger man. At first this almost delighted me, but then I began to pity him for having to deal with father like this. And then I saw that he seemed to have a strength of his own, and… I began to find him intriguing.

After a bit, father seemed satisfied and rose from his chair. I was anxious, afraid both that the interview might be at end, or that it might be time for me to continue it. However, father signaled to Artamir to take the seat before the stone. Artamir then sat and ‘conversed’ with his fellow prince in much the same way as father had, two future kings of the Dunedain it seems. Artamir appeared to be quite natural about it all, and he told me later that father had taken both him and Faramir to look into the stone several times before.

All too soon, it WAS my turn. Artamir arose and held the seat for me. I decided to put on a brave face and jump in, as it were.

I now saw my ‘intended’ straight on, and saw that he was quite fair. We looked only, at first, for I knew not how to ‘speak’. Artamir told me that I should direct at the man in the stone the thoughts I wished to speak, as though I were speaking them, but that I need not say them aloud. He told me that if I would, at first, I could actually say them, or mouth the words, if that was helpful to me, but that I could refrain from this and it would work just as well. I desired to refrain, that my own ‘conversation’ be as private as that between those before me. But I asked father if my other, unspoken thoughts might also be heard by the one in the stone. Father assured me that not even he was able to draw a thought unbidden from one he faced in the stone, and that there was no record to show it had been done. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder. I thought it would be father and turned to smile at him, but it was Artamir – and somehow that made me smile even brighter.

I ‘heard’ or ‘felt’ the thoughts of Arvedui before I ‘spoke’ to him. For Arvedui was his name. It seems an ill omen to be called ‘Last King’ but he told me later it was a name given by a great seer among his people, and that though his name sounded of doom, it came also with a hope and a promise. When he first spoke though, he told me his name and he told me also… that I was the loveliest lady he had ever seen. I tried to tell him that he had not seen the other ladies of Gondor, but I’m not sure if he ‘heard’ the thought, for it was my first attempt and truly my heart was not in its sending. It seemed to fade from my will as speech unbidden will at times fade from the lips

Mother, poets and others talk of this ‘love at first sighting’ – and we all learn of how Beren and Luthien were taken with one another from the beginning. I had come to think of this as a fool’s hope though, or at least thought it would not strike home to me. But mother, something happened as we first exchanged our thoughts through the stone. My heart turned to him somehow, and rather quickly. Although parting from you and all of Gondor would be hard, I suddenly desired to go to him in the north, to dwell with him there forever… even to bear his children and one day be his queen.

It was as though our minds touched and connected. He also had been hard-pressed to find one whom he desired in his own kingdom. He also had been loathe to marry me – stranger from a distant land. And… he also felt his own heart turn toward me as we sat together… though hundreds of leagues apart. I sensed it first, and then he told me.

Mother, is it possible for a man to be strong in mind and will, and yet gentle of heart and speech? Arvedui seems so. We sat long and talked together. Finally, he asked me if I would consent to be his bride if my father would grant it, though I knew long by then that the question was coming. His question made me sad only in that I felt our time to speak was drawing to a close. I tried to hesitate a bit before giving my own consent, but I fear he already knew my answer. After I told him so, I informed father that the Prince Arvedui wished to speak with him once more.

Artamir assisted me as I rose and wiped the tears from my eyes as father returned to the seat. The arrangements were all made quite quickly. Arvedui wishes to marry me in our own city at noon-time on Mid-year’s Day, a lucky sign to his people. He will set out on the First of Gwaeron (March) and will arrive sometime in Lothron (May), that he may spend time with us and see a bit of our kingdom before we wed. Father will send an escort to meet him at Tharbad and accompany him through our land. Artamir will go, and father has sent for Faramir to join him.

Father even permitted me to speak with him a bit more after making those arrangements. He has granted that we may meet again at the stone on the third day after our first meeting, so I find myself counting the hours until the day after tomorrow. He says we may talk on that day for as long as we desire. Then he will allow us to speak again on 30 Ninui (February), the eve of Arvedui’s departure. Father wishes to wait until the celebration of the Erukyerme to announce to the kingdom our engagement, so we must be a bit discrete for just over a month more.

So mother, again I will ask you to return to Minas Anor. However, you may first linger a bit more with gran-mama. I do hope her health is restored. As it may cheer her, please inform her that hopes for great-grandchildren may not be long off, but be certain that the servants in the household discover it not. I do hope that you can come home to me by the beginning of Gwirith (April) though, that you might stand beside me when father proclaims the news. Besides, we will have a wedding to plan – and just three months left to do it from that time. And you shall gain a son-in-law.

Also, you must tell me more about how it was with you and father. Tales you have told me come to mind, and I see them all now in a different way.

May Eru and the Valar watch over you – as they have me.

Your daughter,

Firiel
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Postby Valandil3430 » Wed Nov 08, 2006 5:35 am

Letters of Firiel - Intermission
Er... some of you may have noticed that Firiel's letters are a bit, um... verbose! In contrast to that, consider the following. While I was translating the latest treatise, a scrap of paper, of a different sort - and seeming to be a corner torn off of a full page - fell to the floor. I cannot vouch for its authenticity, and wouldn't even know how to begin to try. I suspect it's likely a 'halfling jest' inserted by some Took or Bracegirdle who was poring over the lengthy epistles of this fine lady of Gondor. Anyway, it reads:

Hey Ma,

Met a girl. Heading down to Gondor to pick her up. Will have her home by Yule next!

~ Arvie


judge for yourselves
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Postby Valandil3430 » Wed Nov 08, 2006 5:37 am

Letters of Firiel - Commentary on Setting and Translation
Perhaps this should have all been mentioned before the translation of the first letter, but it seemed good to at least do so now. In fact, my reasons for delaying this until now will soon become apparent.

The earliest of these letters are dated from 1940 of the Third Age. At this time (almost 1100 years before events recounted in 'The Lord of the Rings'), Gondor still had a king - and Arthedain, successor kingdom to Arnor, was still in existence. We're told in Appendix A (in the section on Gondor) that this was the year when Gondor (line of Anarion) and Arthedain (line of Isildur) re-established contact and took counsel together after long estrangement and silence (going back at least to the Great Plague of some 300 years before, I imagine), realizing that some Power was seeking to destroy the Heirs of Elendil - and when Arvedui, son of King Araphant of Arthedain, was wedded to Firiel, daughter of King Ondoher of Gondor. This would later set into motion an interesting chain of events.

It is illuminating to have these letters from Firiel's point of view. We first see her as a young lady, enjoying the priveleges of royal rank, in the company of the court of her mother, the queen (whose name, sadly, we have no mention of - as she is the recipient of most of the letters she is not referred to by name). We then sense her shock and distress at a sudden arrangement of marriage to a man she does not know from a kingdom of which she has never heard. Yet, happily - we see in her third letter that she seems to have already begun to warm to the idea, by the same vehicle through which the kings had made contact - the palantiri.

Tolkien has supplied us with many of the outlines of these events - and also many of the names (see appendices of LOTR, as well as 'The Tale of Cirion and Eorl' in 'Unfinished Tales') - he tells us already of Firiel, her father Ondoher and grandfather Calimehtar, as well as her brothers; Artamir and Faramir. He tells us what later becomes of Earnil and Earnur, and he makes mention of the cousin Minohtar. We can guess that the Prince Adrahil of Belfalas is the same who fought in the battles of 1944 (along with Ondoher, Artamir, Faramir and Minohtar - who fell there) - and that his son, Imrazor, is the same as the father of the first Prince of Dol Amroth. Still under his father's rule is Frumgar, who will lead the Eotheod into the North almost 40 years after... and we see in Firiel's letter the full name 'Marhwohli' for his father... when we previously only had the first four letters. In Arthedain, we know of Araphant and Arvedui - as well as a few more in subsequent letters. Other names found in the letters (other than 'Mithrandir') I have seen no other reference to - and can only conclude whatever seems right from inferences made by Firiel - in the first letter, young nobles and ladies of Gondor who are in the Queen's Court - in later letters, well... I'll let you decide.

I consider myself quite the novice in regards to translating such wondrous links to the past. However, I have done my best. I chose early to give the Sindarin names of the months in dating the letters - particularly since the first letter mentioned it being a late winter outing, it seemed the reader would infer the month to be February. However, upon reaching the third letter, I began to regret my earlier decision with all the months mentioned. It seemed the best solution to retain the Sindarin names, as used by the Dunedain, but to provide in parenthises the common, modern names for the months. I found the letters dated after the European fashion - with the day of the month given first, followed by month and then year. I don't know if this was common practice of the Elder Days or was peculiar to 20th cent TA Gondor, or even to the Lady Firiel herself.

The letters also provide some insights into royal marriage in the courts of Gondor and Arthedain at this time. Those of Gondor are hinted at quite strongly in the first letter. The fourth letter (which is quite lengthy - hence the delay in my completing the translation) explores the issue a bit more and provides contrasts between such customs in Arthedain and Gondor.

The letters themselves are largely written in a flowing, somewhat florid script on fine, decorated parchment. The handwriting on letter #2 seems a bit more erratic and perhaps 'rushed' - and the type of parchment changes after the first three - though the following letters are on parchment of equal quality, they are most certainly of different make.

I hope you will find these of even half as much interest as I do myself.
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Postby RavenTinuviel » Wed Nov 08, 2006 2:10 pm

An interesting take on the events of the time! It gives a single person perspective to things.

I wrote a fanfic of events leading up to the war where King Ondoher and his sons were slain. A palace intrigue sort, and there was reference to Arthedain and Prince Arvedui, and another pertaining to the intrigue and discussion that led to the crown being given to Earnil. I love this sort of stuff!
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Postby Valandil3430 » Wed Nov 08, 2006 8:52 pm

OK - the infamously long... Letter #4:


Fourth in a series:

4 Gwaeron (March), 1941

Dearest Mother,

I send you greetings from the North. This past year has brought much change indeed. I hope that all is well with you and father and with my dear brothers, Artamir and Faramir. Arvedui sends you greetings and we both send our appreciation, once again, for the wonderful wedding you and father gave us on last Mid-year’s Day. You and I saw so little of one another even for the ten days we stayed on at Minas Anor for the feasting, celebrating and preparations for my departure. There was always so much to do, and so little time to talk. Therefore I have settled in to give you as detailed an account as I can of all that has happened since that day.

Although you’re likely free of snow in Gondor, save in the mountains, winter is much slower to loosen its grip here in Arthedain. Only now, the first of this year’s caravans prepares to depart for Gondor, although the start of their journey will be in winter’s remnants. Thus I avail myself of the first opportunity to send word to you, knowing that your first letter of the year has likely by now reached Tharbad – and I eagerly await its arrival here. Still, I have always loved the autumn and the winter – and it seems that life in Fornost will give me my fill of them.

Bid father to not be displeased with Faramir. I think truly that he was watching out for me, and wished to ‘measure’ my future husband, when he convinced Arvedui to come with him alone (with only a single companion each – Arvedui took his friend Celebereg, while Faramir brought a Ranger he had with him for this purpose) from Tharbad. I know it caused alarm among the remainder of the party – and concern that such a small group might encounter trouble upon the road. Arvedui recounts that as one of the highlights of the trip though… third he says, then tells me that our wedding was second – and when I was evidently downcast by this, he tells me that the first was the long trip home with me! Still though, he enjoyed seeing the sights of Calenardhon, rather than sticking to the road and to the slower pace of the party. He perceived Faramir’s true wish as well, and wished himself to respond and meet the challenge. I gather that somewhere along the way they tried one another, and that my brother was bested. As I understand it, they themselves journeyed to Angrenost and the Aglarond, and then on to the Argonauth. There, Arvedui spoke to the figures of Isildur and Anarion, shouting to them that at long last their lines were to be re-joined. Arvedui marveled at the Falls of Rauros and they swam in the lake at their head. They climbed both Amon Hen and Amon Lhaw. From Rauros, they took a boat down to Cair Andros and re-mounted, Faramir having sent their horses overland by soldiers from one of the forts of Anduin. They rode first north – to see the abandoned forts at the north entrance of the Black Land, then down to the crossroads and east to Minas Ithil – home in ages past to Arvedui’s great ancestor Isildur. Finally they rode on through Osgiliath, which Arvedui liked very much and likened to the former glory of Annuminas in the North, and at long last they rode to Minas Anor, the sight of which took his breath away (second only to his first sight of me, so he says). After all that detouring, they still arrived on the 14th of Lothron (May), a full day before the royal party from the North, and stayed outside the gates until the others joined them. I know father was displeased with Faramir for this, but I hope he has forgiven him, for as I say, Arvedui was delighted by it all.

You were present at my first meeting with Arvedui. Oh I hope that I did not blush too brightly. I wore the pale green dress, and he was dressed in deep blue. He was tall… perhaps taller than my father and brothers. He was also quite well-formed, both in face and in body. What truly took me were his eyes – light eyes, but their color changes. Once he saw me, his eyes stayed fixed on mine. His eyes pierced me and seemed to read just who I was, at the same time, openly revealing himself with his own commitment to truth, duty, faithfulness and love. Even as he gave his gifts to us, his eyes returned to me time and again. Do you remember those gifts? Swords to overcome evil for my brothers (translator’s note: could these have been of similar make to the daggers taken from the Barrow Downs by the four hobbits?), the wonderfully embroidered cloak and bejeweled brooch he gave to you, the finely made cups of gold with gems inlaid which he gave to father, and the necklace he placed around my own neck. I fear I trembled so as he placed it upon me, as we touched for the first time, he taking my hand and asking, once more, if I would indeed deign to wed him now that we had met face-to-face.

And, of course, following our banquet later on, that was the last I saw of him for six weeks. For father sent Queen Elenawen of Arthedain, Arvedui’s young sister Forniel, and you and me, along with six ladies of the court up to the cottage in the hills of Lossarnach. That was a wonderful time for us all though, making wedding preparations, for me to be instructed by the ladies of Arthedain and their Chief Loremaster in the customs, places, people and history of the North. It was also good for us, mother, as we shared those days together. Although we hope to visit at times, even to dwell together again one day, if at all possible, yet we know that none of this is promised to us. I fondly recall our long talks and your wise counsel.

Arvedui and King Araphant both were quite in awe of the White Tree of the Citadel. They tell me that after their tour of our whole city, and in between each jaunt they made to explore it further, they kept returning to the White Tree by the fountain, in the court of the 7th ring of Minas Anor – just to sit beside it and meditate upon their fathers, the Faithful of Old. When the days were pleasant, King Araphant preferred to sit outside by the Tree when he and father worked out arrangements to renew trade with one another, to provide support in times of need and to share their knowledge in all matters.

Oh – the wedding day! Truly splendid! Arriving by barge at the quays on Anduin, proceding on horseback with my train through the great gate of our city, up the streets by all our people, flower petals filling the air, joyful shouts and mirthful music. Finally reaching the court of the White Tree, dismounting and waiting in my cloak, attended by the ladies of the court. Then… my love coming for me and stating aloud his intentions... father giving his blessing… my cloak was lifted and my white dress revealed… then we two pledging our troth. The next ten days of feasting and celebrations and preparations seem a dim memory. It is almost as though so many things happened so quickly, but I think in actuality that so much of my life was changed. In truth, I had gone from being a princess in the royal house of Gondor, to becoming a princess in the royal house of Arthedain. And my long home was no longer my true home.

So many came! Those from all across our kingdom and our allies beyond our borders. People high and low. I was so happy to see gran-mama there… give her my best wishes. Even Mithrandir came – and with him Curunir and Radagast. The latter two left just after, but we were delighted to hear that Mithrandir would journey back to the North with our party.

Now, let me tell you of my voyage to my new home. It was grand to begin it by sea, especially as Arvedui wished to see Pelargir as well. We sailed there much more quickly than my last trip, and we spent two days in Pelargir, giving me the chance to show him around someplace myself. We sailed on out into the Bay of Belfalas, stopping at different ports of call. I think Arvedui wanted to see more of our kingdom, and this gave him a chance to do so in small measure, though after a time, it was mostly all coasts, dotted with fishing village after fishing village. We enjoyed sailing on that small ship though, and received all courtesy from her captain and crew. We had use of the best cabin for sleeping and private moments, and he otherwise allowed us the run of the ship. Of course we had no trouble from pirates or Corsairs, thanks to the escort of two rather large ships father commanded for us, until we were safely beyond reach of our foes. The sea breeze kept us cool in the hottest time of the year. We enjoyed the breeze and the open water, the sea spray and smell of salt water, the views of the coasts, the night skies over the seas or just ashore and the gentle rocking of the ship. We traveled more slowly going up the Greyflood, but when we finally reached Tharbad, we almost regretted debarking. However, by then Arvedui was eager to begin to show me the lands of the North.

We reached Tharbad on the 25th of Urui (August) and had five days there before Arvedui’s father, mother and sister arrived, along with the remainder of their entourage and the Gondorian escort. After a day’s further rest, I said my final good-byes to Artamir and Faramir and watched them depart back across the bridge and make their way along the causeway beyond. In our five days of waiting, Arvedui had taken the chance to show me around Tharbad – quite pleased to be the one to show a place to me, I think. The escort from Arthedain arrived while we waited. Also while waiting, Arvedui took me to see the swans of Nin in Eilph for a couple of days, a short way up the River Glanduin. And, before we left Tharbad, I saw Dwarves! Durin VI himself did not come, but a royal delegation of Moria brought us his greetings and best wishes. They presented me with a lovely pair of mithril earrings, for which Arvedui had made payment on his journey south (I only learned then that he had ridden far ahead to make this stop-over there).

We traveled slowly from Tharbad. Much of Arthedain’s escort was unmounted, and the roads were not in the best repair at first (as I am told was also the case from the Fords of Isen to Tharbad for the group which came overland from Minas Anor). Arvedui and I rode at times apart and at times with the rest. The delegation of Moria was the first, but it was not alone. All along the way, people came out to meet and greet us as we passed. They seemed to all think our marriage quite significant.

We rode beside Forniel quite often. Faramir was all she spoke of. She’s quite a charming girl really – and I quite enjoy feeling as though I now have a sister. Please bear her wishes in mind though if our fathers plan to match yet another pair of their progeny. Although I do not know if Faramir would be so inclined. He was charming enough toward her, but I know not whether that was courtesy, natural inclination or something more. Nonetheless, I’m certain her father would have her wait another ten years or more before marrying.

Mithrandir, Malbeth and King Araphant made quite the threesome. “Gandalf” was what the other two called Mithrandir, and they seemed every bit as much acquainted with him as we are. Those three rode together to lead our procession and they sat together at meals. They always have much to talk about and they often laugh together. You know Mithrandir, and you became acquainted with the King. Malbeth is a different sort. Quite grave much of the time, yet jolly in his moments. He speaks little now, but measures his words – even when speaking in jest. And men attend to his words, having much respect for his insight and not wishing to have his wisdom fall to the ground unheeded. Especially as his words might speak even to them – or of them. He and Mithrandir seem to have a certain respect for one another, each perhaps recognizing the other’s purpose.

As we traveled north and the summer changed to autumn, the trees began to display a great range of vibrant colors. There were reds and golds and browns and all colors in between. Each tree was different from the next. The autumn colors here far exceed the array of those in Gondor. In any event, we managed to spend most nights at either an old way station or villa or cottage, most often deserted, but if the roof was no longer overhead, at least we had four walls about us. It also began to grow cooler. I was told some terribly dreadful stories of the downs to the west of our road.

We stayed for three nights at a crossroads town called Bree. We arrived there on the 17th of Ivanneth and there we stayed at an inn for the first time since Tharbad. We had not yet seen many Dunedain of Arthedain, though we did see some in Bree. I was told that they mostly live now north of the Great East Road which crosses the Greenway at Bree. We did see more dwarves there, and I saw halflings for the first time. Gandalf took his leave of us there, traveling west to a Land of the Halflings. Arvedui wanted to show me their land as well. This seemed to please the rest of the party for they wished to make preparations for our arrival at Fornost. Save Forniel, for Arvedui and I were to go alone, and she desired to continue in our company.

So on the 20th, we departed early and took the Great Road. We had traveled only a short while when two figures appeared to our left, hailing us from a bank above the road. Arvedui was quite surprised and shouted back with joy, begging them to come down and speak with us. They were an odd pair; a quite unusual-looking man, full of both laughter and wisdom, I came to find. He wore a bright yellow hat with a feather. His companion was a lovely woman with hair of gold. His name was Orald and her’s was Goldberry. They said they had come out to see the bride Arvedui had found himself in the South. They were quite gracious and we spoke for over an hour together. They would invite us to their home, they said, but that they lived between the peril of the Barrow Downs and the peril of the Old Forest. Besides, Orald told me I needed to be moving on, for I would be anxiously awaited in other places.

After meeting Orald, we continued on to the land of the Halflings. We crossed a great bridge over a River called Baranduin on the 22nd which brought us to their land, a land they call their ‘Shire’. From there, the roads were lined with them, coming out to see us, until we reached a place called the ‘Three Farthing Stone’ in the heart of their land on the next day. Then we feasted! Mother, these people only come to our waist, full-grown, yet they can eat so much! And Mithrandir was there. We three, Arvedui, Mithrandir and I, were still relaxing after the mid-day meal, when the little people began to set up for yet another one! To their evident dismay, we declined to join them for that one, as we would save our appetites for the evening meal. We stayed on for that, and ate some more. After the sunset, a great bonfire was lit and then, we had an amazing display of lights in the sky, which were called ‘fireworks’! The halfling children are just adorable, as you might imagine.

It was in Bree that I first began to taste the food of the Northlands. In some ways, it is like our own. It is simpler perhaps, but it also has its distinctions. They have plenty of some things, of which we have little or none. They prepare some of their food differently. Many of their drinks are even hot, especially as the year wears on and grows colder. They don’t have the variety of fruit we know in Gondor, but they have many apples, as well as cherries and all sorts of berries. They grow vegetables we rarely see, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and more. They make different kinds of bread, from different kinds of grain, including oats and corn, while we use mostly wheat and rye – which they have as well. They have all sorts of cheeses and prepare their meats somewhat differently from ours, but there is too much to explain with all that.

Arvedui took me to Fornost a different way so that he could show me Annuminas. We went north up a little-used track, and camped outdoors at night. Annuminas did indeed have the former glory of Osgiliath. It sits on a large hill, at the foot of a mountain range to the west. To the north of the hill, at its very foot, is the Lake Evendim, with its shimmering dark blue waters. Alas, the city is long deserted now, and in ruins. We strode about it though, marking where its important buildings were and imagining what it was like in the days of Arnor’s High Kings. Arthedain longs to reclaim the name of Arnor someday, but to do so, they believe they must regain all their lost territory and rebuild Annuminas. At least three kings of Arthedain have attempted to restore their former city, but always something has prevented this. There is a sadness to it all, but there is indeed a hope as well. These could be high times now – and together we dream of what could come to pass in another 60 years.

We reached Fornost on the 1st of Narbeleth. The city is a bit smaller than Minas Anor. It is also quite irregular, rather than symmetrical in shape and in lay-out. This is owing to the way it is situated. The city sits on a low, irregular, rocky plateau at the end of a range of small mountains called the North Downs, though it has of late expanded beyond the plateau and the outer city has a low wall. The inner city is delved into the top of the plateau and the main gate is cut from the south face of the plateau, which leads then sharply up into the city. The passage from the gate is in the stone itself. The inner city has a higher tier of plateau at the northeast corner, where the palaces and other official buildings are. The buildings are not quite so grand as Gondor’s, but they have a charm of their own. The stonework is not black and white marble and granite, polished smooth – but is often rough-cut and has more colors of natural stone, grays and browns and reds and more. The woodwork inside is quite lovely and intricate.

The streets were lined with people coming to see us, and I saw at last in large measure the people of my new kingdom. Their clothes were more rustic than in Gondor, their means seemed less and their lives more simple, but they were Numenoreans without doubt. There’s more of a Beoran ancestry among them than among us, I would say. They are much inclined to be tall and dark, although some are lighter and some are broader. I met so many people that day. Arvedui’s two other sisters, who are both married – the older has three children already, the younger has one and bears a second. I met his younger brother, Araphor, who sat as Regent while King Araphant and Arvedui came to Gondor. Then I met all the Royal Officials and their families, the nobles, the chief craftsmen and guildmasters. Finally, I met the Chief of the Palace Guard. He was gracious and kindly toward me, but then turned gruffly to Arvedui and asked him if his trip South had made him soft, or if he was up for a game of rochdol. Everyone laughed, and Arvedui insisted he was none the softer. The Chief Guard smiled and went to make preparations – and I was later to find out what this would mean. Before long, 80 to 100 young men met in the square before the palace. The Chief Guard divided them into two groups, giving to half a sleeveless red shirt and to the other half a similar shirt of yellow. Arvedui and Araphor both received red shirts, while Celebereg received a yellow. I saw little of Arvedui the rest of that day, for each group went off to make its plans and preparations. Forniel and her older sisters took me into their care until the time of the game.

The game is played on a rather large field – about a league long (the long way ran north and south) and a fourth as wide, though players may go beyond it. There are intermittent woods and hills, but the middle has a wide clearing, with fires to light both ends of the mid-line. In the game itself, those with the red shirts hide a red sack near one end while those with the yellow shirts hide a yellow sack near the other end. The sacks are filled with dry beans and sewn up tightly to prevent being split open. Each group seeks to keep their sack hidden and to find the sack on the other side. Once a sack is found, the merriment begins. The finders must bring it down the field and cross the mid-line in order to win the game. Naturally, the others wish to prevent this, and will do all manner of things to prevent it – usually, it seems, knocking the one with the sack to the ground. The one holding it may throw it to someone else with the same color shirt, but if one from the other team gets it, they will attempt to run it back the other way. If a man caught on the wrong side of the line can be dragged over to a marshal of the field at either fire, he is withdrawn from the game. The Chief Guard served as marshal on the near side, but I don’t know who was the other. (translator’s note: sounds like a cross between ‘Rugby’ and ‘Capture the Flag’ – on a rather large field)

The field of play is perhaps two leagues west of the city and we arrived just about midnight. I sat on a hill just behind one of the mid-line fires, along with the King and Queen and Forniel. We had a great view of the middle field (once the moon rose and it was light enough to see). Forniel advised me to take a brief nap, as Arvedui was quite notable at this game – and made a practice of finding the opposing team’s sack just after daybreak and running for the mid-line when all could see him. That was just how it happened. Soon after dawn we heard a disturbance from the trees to the north, then down the field, toward the mid-line burst a figure in a red shirt, bounding like a deer and bearing the yellow sack, which he held tightly to his breast. It was Arvedui. Beside him and behind him ran about 6 or 8 comrades in red, along with a dozen or more in yellow. A great cry went up and others in yellow shirts came forth from hiding places all directions – and the pursuit was on. None could catch him, but some were yet ahead of him. He ran this way and that until finally, four large yellow shirts closed on him and hit him all together. I gasped, but saw that my companions only laughed – for it was part of the game. Also – he had managed to throw the sack to another red shirt before he was hit. Then, so much happened at once. His captors tried to take him to the fire by us, but he escaped them. The one in red who had the sack also tried to throw it, but a man in yellow got hold of it and ran the other way. Mayhem broke out, and then I saw that Arvedui himself had made it back to drag down the other with the sack – and before long, his brother had retrieved it and carried it over the line. Only just in time too, for a few men in yellow then brought forth the red sack from the south end of the field – but the red team carried the yellow sack over the line long enough before the yellow team could carry the red sack over the line.

I hope you have understood all this. The game must be seen to be imagined, but it was quite exciting to watch. We followed this with more celebrating and more meetings of folks and, that following night, despite having gone a full two days and a night without sleep, having such hard activity and taking the pounding he took, my husband proved to me once again that we are indeed newlyweds.

We have separate accommodations in the royal palace (the town actually has another palace, of the Princely House of Fornost, from which line Celebereg descends), but we mostly join in with the family at meals and for daily activity. We have to ourselves two rooms on the third storey, a modest outer chamber and a smaller inner chamber – each with a window and a fireplace. It was pleasant to finally arrive here after all the travel, and is actually refreshing to settle into a routine of sorts. Arvedui has returned to duties of his own, but it appears those duties are light for the sake of his new bride. We were also given a cottage a bit north of here that we might escape at times and be alone together for 3 or 4 days at a time. They call it a ‘cabin’ and it is made from logs of tree trunks, stacked one upon another. It’s a day’s ride away, so we have gone by horseback, and a few times in winter by a wooden sleigh, drawn by our horses. What horses they have in Arthedain can be ridden well enough through the snow though. You saw them last summer – big, large-boned animals with thick hair and long manes.

As winter drew near I began to notice something. While gardens and courtyards are the delights of Gondor, the fireplace is the delight of Arthedain. As the days shorten, and the air grows cold, the people gather closer to the fire and talk and laugh together. The short days are much shorter here as well. Oh – and I have seen what are called ‘The Lights of the North’! I saw them first when we visited our cabin just after Yule. I awoke one night and saw that the northern sky was alight. At first I thought it was more fireworks – I even feared the sun might rise in the north that day! But Arvedui awoke as well and told me of the Lights.

Of course, they like the warmer weather when it comes. They say too that the long days of summer are even longer here than in Gondor, and also that if one traveled far enough to the north nigh the Mid-year, the daylight would be constant, and that the sun would go around in a low southern arc from east to west – and would then continue low on the horizon across the north and back to the east… day after day without ever sunset. They say too that in winter there will be no sun at all for many days. Arvedui himself has not traveled so far north, but this was known in days of old. He says that the Lights of the North mean that Varda promises again that the Sun will regain its northern path… but that the Lights also mean it will not yet do so.

The Yule is a great occasion here in the North. The people celebrate it for the last week of the year and into the first week of the new year. There is some feasting, but much more general gaiety and merriment. During the days, the young venture out to play games in the snow (oh – and the snow here! It is often up to my knees, higher near our cabin and they tell me there are years when we get deeper snow still – that this year was one of light snowfall). There is much music and dancing and sitting at the hearth before a bright, crackling fire. The Queen hosts a great ball, and many come indeed. Minstrel Elves come, wearing bright red and yellow and green, trimmed with silver and gold. Young men give gifts to the ladies they favor. Decorations of evergreen boughs and silver bells and gold stars abound. They use much holley, with its berries of red, and they have a custom with a branch bearing white berries, that a couple may freely kiss below it – though they are generally quite reserved in such regards. It was not even unseemly when Celebereg kissed me upon a cheek as I stood at a doorway, unaware of the white berries above me. Arvedui stood beside me and laughed, though he did give the rogue a friendly cuff. The eligible young men and ladies take these times as rare opportunities to meet and match. They like to ‘find love at the Yule and marry at the Mid-year’.

Mithrandir even came for the occasion, to ‘see how the happy couple was getting on’. Being emboldened enough by Celebereg’s actions, I caught Mithrandir in the same manner, as a ‘thank-you’ for helping me find my husband. I then bestowed the same favors on old Malbeth and the King, but after that Arvedui took me upstairs for the night.

And, lest all my talk of feasting alarm you, do not fear. There were perhaps 5 or 6 true feasts in all this, but they came between long stretches of travel and months of activity. Lighter meals were still the standard fare and your daughter has not sunk into gluttony.

The Yule was actually a different sort of feast. Preparations began after the last of the harvest. The men went out to hunt wild game and the women and children went into the forests as well, to gather nuts, berries, herbs, roots and whatever other wild-grown food they might find. This was done in the past that the people might have an early winter feast without depleting the stores saved up from the harvest. These days, they tell me, in all but the scarcest of years they supplement the wild food with some from the harvest, but the tables are mostly laden with returns from the hunts and gathering forays. Also, at most times, the food is laid out on side tables while the people either dance or walk or sit talking by the fire. Then they simply retreat to a table to take a morsel now and again.

Arthedain’s court has different practices from our own. Some parts are less structured, but in other regards they are more strict. In Gondor, the court of the Queen (or the princess who is mother to the unmarried heir, if his grandfather still reigns) is made of both men and women, and they mix regularly. In Arthedain, the young men of standing in the kingdom gather to the heir to be trained along with him, submitting mostly to the Chief Guard for weapons training, but also learning tactics of war from the Captain of the Army, learning lore and music from the Chief Loremaster with his scribes, learning of agriculture and trade from the Chamberlain, learning woodcraft from the Chief Forester and learning construction from the Chief Builder. They also learn from woodworkers, metalworkers, miners, boatmen and teamsters. Many in the line of Anarion wed at 50, but most in the line of Isildur have married much later, thinking their training only half complete at such an age. Therefore many kings of Gondor have seen great-grandchildren, but the most a Northern King has seen is his own heir’s children.

Meanwhile, ladies of standing come here to serve the Queen, but also to wait upon and entertain with instrument and song the young men of the heir’s company. Most do so hoping to catch the eye of the heir or another of his companions, but that part of it is not so rigid as ours, and the heir is more free to select someone from outside the court (provided she is nearly full Numenorean – even if only a farmer’s daughter, for here the Numenoreans seldom have wed others, though they live at peace with other tribes and rule gently over them). Rarely do the men and women of those two parts of the court speak to one another, more than in passing. The three festivals at which they do so are Mid-year’s Day (which was a two-day event this year, since we had two of them – and I was married on the first), the completion of the Harvest in early Hithui (November), and the Yule Celebration. The King here keeps the Erukyerme as well as the Eruhantale, but those are times of work even for the court’s young men, for they partake in the sowing and the harvesting. In fact, they learn by doing in each area of their instruction. Their view is that a Numenorean ruler should fully understand the Numenorean crafts.

One custom we share is that the young men who come to the heir’s company and the young ladies of the Queen’s court refrain from marriage until the heir has chosen whom he will marry. If anything, they observe this more strictly than we do in Gondor. Their numbers are often smaller, for perhaps only 12 or 15 young men will come – and perhaps as few as 8 or 10 young ladies, though sometimes there are more, and it was several more in the old days of Arnor – more akin to the size of our court in Gondor. I have not perceived much jealousy among the ladies of the Queen who would have been previously vying for Arvedui. In fact, as none had caught his eye, when he married me, it released the rest of them to find another. And already there have been 3 marriages from them, and at least 2 more are planned. I think Araphor desires to wed soon, and has his eye on a young lady at court, but his father wishes him to wait yet 10 or 20 years and wed the girl’s younger sister, and to let the elder find another. He is not yet 40 and besides, I believe his father wishes the children of Araphor to be quite younger than Arvedui’s – that there be no questions of succession.

This summer, Arvedui promises to take me either to Imladris to meet Elrond and Celebrian, or to Lindon to meet Cirdan. He says that I may choose one – and that we will visit the other in the following summer or the one after. I wonder if time may allow us to do both. I long to see the Grey Havens of Lindon and the Emyn Beraid, but it would be marvelous to actually meet Elrond, especially as I expect he would be the likeness of our own distant ancestor Elros. Arvedui tells me the way to Rivendell is more perilous, but is certain we could make it.

My understanding of our two Dunedain kingdoms has been corrected. This Valandil, of whom Arvedui is the heir, was the youngest son of Isildur, Anarion’s elder brother and co-joint ruler. I knew that Isildur had been killed with his elder sons while traveling to the North, but did not know this connection to Valandil. It does seem in some ways that these northern brothers of ours cling with great pride to the fact that they trace descent from the elder of Elendil’s sons (and insist that Isildur intended Arnor to remain the chief realm, only commiting Gondor to Meneldil’s care, as a provincial governor or some such), while we of Gondor seem to take such great pride in how our kingdom has risen so high and become so mighty under Menedil’s heirs. Perhaps such pride errs in both regards… I hope that it will not one day ruin us all.

Arthedain and her people have suffered much in the long ages since our forebears. They also had the Great Plague, although it struck us the harder. While we had the Kin-strife, they had division and continual civil warfare among their sister kingdoms. While we have had the Wainriders fall as a hammer, they have had the land of Angmar, chipping away constantly as a chisel. My mind fails to imagine how great both our lands might now be if not for these great evils.

There is nothing yet to tell of a future heir to this kingdom. King Araphant and Queen Elenawen do not speak of it, but their eyes tell me that their hopes might exceed even your own. Their two eldest daughters have already made them grandparents, but they must be eager to see who will rule this land after their own son.

I hope indeed that one or both of my brothers may come North for a time, if father can spare them. For my part, I would dearly love to see them. For his part, Arvedui feels great kinship with them. I believe too that he would love to return Faramir’s favor to him. And of course, Forniel would be most happy to see Faramir, as would the King and Queen. Arvedui seems to me a pleasant mix of Artamir and Faramir. He says that Artamir would steadfastly do exactly as Ondoher wishes, while Faramir would stubbornly do exactly as Faramir wishes! I would that father would allow you to come as well, but that visit must surely be delayed until you hear further good news from me.

I have written quite a long note, but there is much that was new to me, of which I have to tell you. I made notes of dates and events that this might be a good account and I hope that it is as good for you to read it as it has been for me to live it.

With warmest love and wishes of goodness.

Your daughter,

Firiel
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Postby Lalaith-Elerrina » Thu Nov 09, 2006 5:57 pm

Fascinating story Valandil. I love how you tell it in letters. Excellent!
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Postby Valandil3430 » Thu Nov 09, 2006 7:20 pm

Thank you both, RT and L-E! :)

RT - what was the name of that story you wrote about Ondoher & family? Is it posted here? Could you bump it up for me?
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Postby Valandil3430 » Fri Nov 10, 2006 5:13 am

The next couple were a bit shorter...

Fifth in a series:

3 Hithui (November), 1941

Dear Mother,

Greetings. I hardly know where the past months have gone. Arvedui and I have traveled much about the kingdom and even beyond its borders. He went out as duty to his father, King Araphant, and it was my good pleasure to be among his traveling companions.

First, we managed to make that visit to Imladris. It was fascinating to actually meet Elrond. He even spoke with me, and for long hours, as though he had nothing of more worth to do. He spoke much of our ancient ancestors; Elendil and Isildur and Anarion. It staggered the thought to realize I was sitting face-to-face with one who actually knew them. He also told us of Valandil and all his heirs. Meneldil he knew as well, but had little contact with those who followed after him in Gondor. It was as though history came to life.

But alas, though our trip there and our stay occupied much of Gwaeron (March) and Gwirith (April), after that we were obliged to travel by boat down the Bruinen (called Loudwater) and Mitheithel (called Hoarwell) until the falls above Tharbad, below which the Hoarwell becomes the Gwathlo (now called Greyflood). For there Arvedui had work to do… overseeing the repairs and restoration of the road and waystations, to put them all in good order from Tharbad on northward. As you know, a similar party came up from Gondor to begin the same work southward from Tharbad. Does father think a southern connection might be made though by ship, from Pelargir to Tharbad by sea and the Gwathlo? Nonetheless, I expect that the messengers will travel by road. Arvedui tells me that a man who can stop for fresh horses could travel from Fornost to Minas Arnor in less than three weeks. And if a message can be passed to a fresh messenger on a fresh horse at each station, perhaps little more than two weeks. That is, with the fleet horses of Gondor or perhaps horses and riders of the Eotheod, not a man on the gentle, plodding giants of horses we keep here. It would be amazing that we could be so close. Of course, there are those seeing stones, but they are kept strictly for official use, not for mothers and daughters to carry on with one another, as we would so like to.

When at last we returned to Fornost, Arvedui was kept busy helping to bring in the harvest. It was a good year for the crops. While he was in the field one day, I made my first attempt at a pumpkin pie, a delightfully filling dessert of the North. Then I topped it with whipped cream I made myself. I doubt it was up to the standards of the better cooks about, but either from being famished by his work, or seeking to please me, he ate half of it himself at one sitting, and that after a meal.

One would say I’m becoming quite the domestic. Who would have thought it possible? Soon I will begin to assist in preparations for this Yule celebration. There is much to do.

Meanwhile, it has now been just over a year since my arrival here. Although I have been away from Fornost for over half that time, this already begins to feel like home and my love for the North grows. I have been warmly received here by all and am truly made happy by an indulgent husband.

Good grace and love to you and all my family in Gondor.

Your daughter,

Firiel
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Postby Valandil3430 » Fri Nov 10, 2006 5:14 am

Sixth in a series:

16 Narbeleth (October), 1942

Dear Mother,

Greetings. As you have heard no doubt from father, via the seeing stone, my son, Aranarth, was born four days ago. He is quite well and so am I. Arvedui is overjoyed… he is quite taken with the lad really, as are Araphant and Elenawen. His Aunt Forniel makes over him tremendously as well and all the people of the city rejoice. This little one has caused quite the stir already.

He favors more his father than me, but has some of my look as well. The nose I think, which I have from you, he bears – and his eyes are more like father’s. When I saw other women’s babies, I could never see such things, for they just seemed to be… babies! But with my own, I see so much more. Aranarth is long, so he should be a tall one himself. He cries quite vigorously at times, and at other times his eyes stray about the room, as though he reflects on things. And of course, he looks incredibly lovely when he sleeps.

I am tired but happy. We eagerly await Faramir’s arrival for his stay through the winter. He’s sure to make a devoted uncle! We also hope that you and Artamir may visit later, either the coming summer or the next winter. Perhaps when my son is older we may all journey to Minas Anor together.

Give father my best wishes and my love as well. Below my writing I will mark in ink his grandson’s handprint upon this page.

Your daughter,

Firiel


(translator’s note: at the bottom of this page was the handmark in ink of a small child, along with a few stray marks and smears which are otherwise inconsistent with these normally clean and neat documents)
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Postby Valandil3430 » Sat Nov 11, 2006 5:58 am

Seventh in a series:

28 Ivanneth (September), 1943

Dearest Mother,

It is good to hear of Faramir’s safe return home. We hope that he enjoyed his stay at Fornost for the last Yule and the winter as much as we enjoyed to have him here. Perhaps some other time you or Artamir may come. In any case, Arvedui and I already talk of visiting Minas Anor in a few more years… perhaps in 1950 we could visit with Aranarth and whatever other children may come, perhaps bringing Forniel again, and even staying through for a year, from one spring to the next.

We are returned to Fornost a bit earlier this year. I find that many of the city’s wealthy spend summers tending to ancestral lands, to escape the crowding, the heat and the sickness, which can come to the city. So much so that an odd situation is created. That which is called the ‘low city’ - the outer ring outside the walled fortress of the plateau, is still heavily occupied by the poor. The ‘high city’ – that higher-tiered portion of the plateau in the northeast corner where stand the palaces and other buildings of state, is more bustling than ever. Yet the ‘middle city’ – that in the lower part of the plateau’s fortress, is little occupied. Indeed, only in the past few hundred years has the ‘low city’ been made. Fornost indeed has increased in size, while Arthedain itself has decreased. In fear of Angmar, many people of the country have left their lands to gather close together. They thus become poor, for none would purchase what they leave behind, which is all they have. Besides, there is little enough work in the city for all that come, so that many grow poorer and more desperate. These poor become nominal members of the King’s household… but he has not work to give them all, and barely food to feed them.

This is the matter which Arvedui has sought to address. Indeed, each of the last six summers have had the same activity as we had this time, though in Arvedui’s case interrupted by special duty… such as marriage or road repair! In past years, similar land grants were given only to those who had served their term in Arthedain’s army. In later years, even these were more inclined to take gold, rather than distant farmland, and Arvedui perceived the need to return our people to lands they might claim as their own.

In early Gwaeron (March), we and seven other companies – each headed by one of Arvedui’s noble companions, set out for the countryside. Each company was to develop a new townshare – an area 2 leagues square, or redevelop an old one. Besides we three, our company held a small detachment of soldiers (who were along to do more farmwork than soldiering, though that is how the men-at-arms are kept occupied in Arthedain when not at war, working fields, building roads or defensive works and all such things) and a few officials, as well as 8 or 10 farm families, each of whom had received a land grant from the King. The King also gave each family what provision they would take; a pair of oxen to pull first cart and then plow, up to 6 cattle, and 8 each of sheep and pigs, 12 chickens, seed grain to sow, saplings of fruit trees and tools. These, apart from the tools, are to be returned to the King threefold in 5 to 15 years… one part each at 5, 10 and 15 years. Each of these shares, when returned, will be provided to later families to take these land grants.

This is all Arvedui’s own plan. He believes our kingdom’s strength to be in her people – and especially her farmers. We need to grow… and he says that the farmers will have more children, that they are healthier and more resourceful, that they make steadfast men to stand in a line of battle when needed – and will then return home and provide food for the kingdom’s tables. He seeks to return the poor of Fornost’s low city back to the fields. He chooses those who seem capable of the work, industrious and independent. Each man will receive 160 to 250 acres (translator’s note – an approximation – the Dunedain equivalent of acres: 200 rangar by 20 rangar – is actually about .92 of an acre), depending on family size, ambition and whether the Old Numenorean Standard or the Eriador Standard is used. This leaves most of the townshare still open for future claimants (translator’s note – a ‘townshare’ of this size would equal 25,000 of their acres, as their league is 5,000 rangar – a ranga being approx. 38” – the Numenoreans used a decimal system, so perhaps the Old Numenorean Standard would account for plots of 250 acres while perhaps the Eriador Standard brought into use multiples of 2, 3, 4, 8, etc – and yielded plots of 160 or 240 acres), who may also receive a land grant from the King, but must borrow seed and stock from the townshare’s first members. Initial grants are made near the center of each share, and the very center holds land reserved by the king for a future town and a crossroads, that all these towns may one day be connected by roads. Because he hopes to re-establish Annuminas during his own reign, perhaps in the year 2000, Arvedui creates most of these townshares along the way from Fornost to Annuminas.

The typical farm householder is between 80 and 100, married with a few married children, a few unmarried children and sometimes an unmarried brother or sister, or occasionally a dependent elderly grandmother or grandfather… and the married children usually have children of their own. Thus each family has 4 or 6 each of grown men and women able to work in support of the family – and perhaps 12, 15 or even 20 people all told including children. And even the children will do what work they can.

This being the seventh year of this activity, most of the grain and livestock sent out was that returned from the earlier grants. Newly rich farmers come to town selling produce and seeking hired hands, and encouraging relatives and old neighbors to come and stake a claim by them. The King sees all this and smiles upon Arvedui. He knows that his own days will not last to see Annuminas restored, but he looks with hope to the future beyond himself, and his heart is lifted at the brightness of that hope.

So we went out as I have said. When we reached the appointed place after three days slow travel, the men first built temporary shelters, for it was still quite cold, and they began to clear trees and bust up the hard dirt where the surveyors had marked out the land in the previous autumn. They took care to spare the trees which grow the bright red five-pointed leaves, for they draw the sap thereof each winter to make sweeteners of different sorts. While Fornost celebrated the Erukyerme, we paused only briefly at the noon-time from sowing seed and planting the seedlings for future orchards, and so we all worked as farmers, on into the spring. I have become quite the cook now – and have learned other household skills, which all but the Queen herself seem to do here in the North.

The summer had lighter duty in the fields, but then the men set to building the farmhouses in earnest. As trees were abundant, they made houses like our cabin, only larger – for the large families. Stacked logs from tree-trunks, most with an upper storey. Some of the farmers hope to add houses of stone later, but these log houses go up faster and are sturdy enough to last a good while.

All living within a day’s walk of us, and some from two days away, came here to celebrate the Mid-year with us. We had a great bonfire the night before and the night after, some light feasting and much dancing and flower-picking. How the young people cavorted together! I made good use of my old lessons with both flute and lyre, and learned some of the local folk songs. For the two weeks after Mid-year, we left the group behind and visited old Annuminas. We were met there by five of Arvedui’s other companions, including Araphor and Celebereg, as well as Dernlias, husband of Arvedui’s second sister, with her family. The breeze off of Lake Evendim and the shade of the fir trees cooled us in the surprising summer heat. Some few families still live on parts of the lake and one day we hired out several boats and sailed on the waters. We also swam often, men and women each in different places, although one night Arvedui and I swam together… as I think most of the married couples did – those more recently married at least.

Aranarth just grows so much. He seemed to change and learn so, during the months we spent away from town. His grandparents here are astounded by him… as I hope his grandparents away in Gondor will be someday. He makes sounds akin to speech and delights to mimic the birds. He’s already making unsteady attempts to walk. He is such a joy to us all. Two weeks hence marks one year from the date of his birth.

We returned early with just a few of the soldiers and left the rest to complete the work of the harvest. While we were there, either 40, 60 or 80 acres of each man’s claim was cultivated for grain, plus some of it prepared for an orchard, a vegetable garden and each had a sturdy home. The rest will be for grazing or further cultivation by the farmers in later years. Four soldiers stay on to winter at each home, as they will for 5 years. This provides the farmers some protection and extra hands to begin the springtime work, and eases the burden on the King’s storehouses. As you see I have great interest and some understanding of how these shares are worked – and Arvedui hopes to use my skills to help in making plans for next year’s efforts.

Oh mother, bid father to have his groundsmen watch for a promising seedling of the White Tree, for we would much like to have one at the royal palace here as well – particularly in Annuminas, where we hope to make our future home.

Much bounty and blessings upon you.

Your daughter,

Firiel
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Postby Valandil3430 » Sat Nov 11, 2006 6:01 am

Eighth in a series:

22 Cerveth (July), 1944

Oh My Dearest Mother,

Grim tidings have come to us indeed. I know not what comfort to give thee, when I have need of such great comfort myself. My father, King Ondoher killed in battle, just ten days ago… his son Artamir falling with him… and Faramir as well, although bidden to stay at Minas Anor, that all heirs to the throne be not so exposed… it is just like him to go in despite, and wearing a disguise. Words fail me mother and my heart breaks. Is it true that Faramir’s body alone is found, and not that of Ondoher or Artamir? It sounds as though Faramir fell later… and was thus King on the field for a time, though he likely knew it not and none will remember it. And Minohtar, our good cousin is fallen the next day? Oh mother… all seems lost to me… all that was lovely in my former life and home, save only you.

It is good word at least that Gondor was saved. My cousin (translator’s note: third cousin) Earnil has crushed the foes and removed from the land its peril. Oh that he had come before… or that the battles of the northern force on Dagorlad had gone otherwise… or even that Faramir at least had stayed home… just this once!

It is distressing too as Artamir was finally to be wed. Please give my comfort to his prospective bride, Gilaewen. Give my compliments to Earnil for his great victory. Give my special thanks to Marhwohli, for discovering the body of Faramir and seeing to his return to Minas Anor. Alas, I give my whole heart away, but that I feel it is already crushed.

Await further word my mother. Arvedui sends special messages to Pelendur the Steward and the Council of Gondor, of which I am not permitted to fully speak. Perhaps though, the hope spoken of first by Malbeth long past will come to be, least hopeful though it is. Arvedui grants that this message to you may be carried with the others, and the messenger now awaits me. All is now shadow, yet perhaps the light may again pierce it mother. Cling to hope, you who have lost husband and sons, for you still have family who are yet far from you, and long to be close beside you again now, and for always.

Mourn the fallen as seems right mother, but fail not to return from the gloom. Take what rest and food and drink is needful to succor and strengthen and refresh both body and spirit. Seek out the Valar. Attend at least the body of my beloved brother Faramir, and see that he receives all honour due the last heir of Anarion.

Keep well mother… for though we have lost all others, I feel that I will yet need you someday. And hope that in some way, I may provide you comfort as well, though deep be your grief.

Your loving daughter,

Firiel
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Postby rowanberry » Sat Nov 11, 2006 12:13 pm

Thank you for posting those letters here, Valandil! I never managed to get past the third one before, simply because I didn't have time for yet another site.
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Postby Valandil3430 » Sat Nov 11, 2006 5:00 pm

Rowanberry - which site did you see it at? (I have it posted at a few :) )
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Postby rowanberry » Sun Nov 12, 2006 11:12 am

It was at Entmoot; that's where you linked in Celebrimbor32's Cardolan story thread. I never joined the site, just visited to read your story. :)
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Postby Valandil3430 » Sun Nov 12, 2006 11:07 pm

Ahhh... Entmoot! My first site - and still the one of my greatest activity. :)

Onward...

- - - - - - -

Ninth in a series:

19 Urui (August), 1945

My Dear Mother,

We hear news at last of Gondor’s throne… that it is given to Earnil. So – the great and mighty Kingdom of Gondor goes forth, but what of the Dunedain of the North? Surely matters were not kept secret from you, were they mother? Did they not tell the Queen of Gondor’s last rightful King what has transpired?

Last year on hearing the tidings of war, Arvedui sent messages to Pelendur and the Council. Mother, he claimed Gondor’s throne! And he did so in my name, as I, who would be his queen, would be the only surviving child of Ondoher – and that my brothers fell yet childless. He laid claim also in that he was himself the heir of Isildur. While we had received our tidings from the Stone, he sent this word to them by messenger. From the time our messenger would have arrived in Minas Anor, Pelendur himself ceased to come to the Stone there, but would speak only through a warden, and never of the succession, but only of trade and other matters.

In due time came the reply, and it was as I first expected it. Although they had yet to name another as King, they would consider the succession only through sons, and further stated that Gondor belonged to the heirs of Meneldil, as granted by Isildur himself. I say I expected it, for I know in what little regard my former people hold these Kings of the North. I myself have learned that though their kingdom is lesser, their men are not by any means the lesser. Once this reply came I thought the matter settled, as did King Araphant, but Arvedui would not be dissuaded. His response convinced even me, for he claimed to be the true heir of Elendil himself, whose name he had seen at the head of Gondor’s line of Kings! As well that Isildur relinquished nothing, but entrusted the South to Meneldil’s care, not wanting Elendil’s kingdoms to be ever divided, as they have since been. Further, that in even Numenor, the scepter had descended through daughters.

We heard no response, but waited expectantly, for the season was upon us when men travel not and we thought Gondor sent no messenger in return as he would meet winter in the North. And Gondor had as yet no King. Still there was no talk of succession through the Stone, and soon, less talk of other matters. On into the spring we waited, and through most of the summer. Finally, we received the brief message from Earnil that he had accepted the crown of Gondor, according to the laws and needs of the South-kingdom.

Arvedui was downhearted, and I finally discovered in full why it was so. For long ago, upon his birth, Malbeth himself had said of him, “Arvedui shall ye call him, for last of all shall he reign at Fornost of Arthedain. Yet shall come a grave choice unto all the Dun-Edain, and heed they that less in hope, then shalt thy son take unto himself a new name, and rule as rightful King of a great realm. Heed they another, then shalt great woe betide, and many lives of men besides, ere the Dun-Edain rise forth and be again as one.” This is the doom of Arvedui, and he judges that in this choice of Gondor’s Council has his own fate been decided, as well as that of all our peoples.

Oh mother, I never fully trusted in the heart of Pelendur, but am distressed over Earnil. His last forefather on the throne was our great-great-grandfather, Telumehtar Umbardacil. Must the crown be granted a man descended from another King by the fourth degree? Why not the true heir of Elendil instead, and reunification of all our people?

Mother – you must know that I hold you faultless in all this. For Gondor has another Queen, and she is neither your daughter, nor wife of your son. You have been pushed aside and, as you tell me, made to feel a house-guest in what had once been your domain. Tolerated, rather than loved. Acknowledged, yet not truly respected. Mother, come at once to dwell with us at Fornost. King Araphant himself has granted me this boon, and bids me invite you. Here you have still your daughter, and her husband, and a grandson who has never yet seen you. If time allows, come still this year, but if you must wait, come when spring brings an end to the winter.

It is early yet to say in certainty mother, but I give you yet another reason to come. Aranarth is to be an older brother. The child will not come until next year, but if a boy, I will name him ‘Aramir’… a rather unusual name itself, but it follows the royal tradition of this house that the first two sons be both named with the ‘Ar’ or ‘Ara’ beginning. Also though, it takes one letter each from both the names of my late, beloved brothers, Artamir and Faramir. He will ever remind us of them both, and remind us that something is missing.

Oh mother, come at once. We so long to see you!

All the peace and grace and hope of Eru and the Valar be upon you!

Your loving daughter,

Firiel

(translator’s note: Because of the break in letters here, we can assume that Firiel’s mother did indeed remove herself to Fornost for a time. Yet there were more letters in later years, which I shall continue to translate.)
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Postby Lalaith-Elerrina » Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:47 am

Very lovely so far, Valandil. Well done with these letters telling the story.
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Postby Valandil3430 » Tue Nov 14, 2006 6:26 am

Thanks again, L-E. :)

- - - - - - -

Tenth in a series:

2 Girithron (December), 1964

Mother,

Yesterday the spirit of King Araphant passed from this earth and went to be with his fathers. He was 175 years old and he reigned for 73 years. We will lay his body to rest three days hence. Arvedui now is King of Arthedain and I am Queen.

Araphant left us in peace. He was taken sick only a week ago. Gandalf arrived at Fornost after long absence on 28 Hithui (November), unbidden, but as though he knew what was to come. On the 29th, Gandalf (even I have come to call Mithrandir by this name) talked and laughed the whole day with the King, then on the 30th, the two of them counseled late into the night with Arvedui. When next morning we awoke, Araphant woke not. All the people mourn the passing of ‘Araphant the Good’, but they also rejoice at the coming of Arvedui to the throne. If Arvedui himself lives to be 175 years old, he will reign until 2039… and hopefully we may conclude our reign at Annuminas. Arvedui has not yet taken the name ‘Envinyatar’ – ‘The Renewer’ – for he waits until we remove to Annuminas for that… which will be perhaps in 36 years… the year 2000! At that time, he desires to take this new name for himself, and name the kingdom ‘Arnor’ anew. Unless I misjudge, as Elendil’s heir he desires also to re-claim the title ‘High King of the Dunedain’ – held of old by those at Annuminas. I know not how King Earnil of Gondor will receive such news, but I expect Arvedui to ask no tribute or levies. Already I judge we have little enough hope to gain a seedling of the White Tree, as Arvedui was Earnil’s rival claimant to Gondor’s throne.

It has been nigh twenty years, but Gondor’s rejection still chafes at Arvedui. He saw in that chance the hope to reunite the Dunedain, and to continue his line. I think he now hopes desperately to make manifest Malbeth’s words in another way… taking for himself a new name, and making his kingdom into a greater one. It is a great task, and it almost consumes him. But Malbeth has been ever a great seer. Not once have his words of foretelling proven false, though some of the words he shrouds in mists come true in a manner other than that expected at their first hearing. Malbeth says little to Arvedui, since the time of Gondor’s succession. We cannot say if he thinks Arvedui’s plans are futile, or if Arvedui takes the right path and may indeed fulfill his own doom for good by taking this on himself… or if Malbeth even knows. Malbeth is older even than was the King… 190 years now, and he says he will live to be 200! He says it as if in jest, but even the jests of Malbeth are counted weighty.

Would you hear of your grand-children, my mother? Aranarth is 22 years old. He has become a man, but will come unto greater manhood still in 10 or 20 years, as he is a Dunedain. He excels in all the training given a young prince. And I spy the young maidens of the kingdom looking upon him with favor, and I smile. Yet I know that his training must be rigorous, and that many years must pass ere we seek to find one for him to marry. Meanwhile, these young maidens will likely marry other men, but such is how things are. Father indeed waited unusually long to marry you, by the standards of Gondor, did he not? In this way, father seemed to follow the customs rather of Arnor, than of Gondor.

Aramir is 18 and a fine youngster. He has joined in the training with Aranarth, and already seems to be the loyal companion as is fit for the next brother to an heir. He is bold, and seems less inclined to the depth and insight of Aranarth, but is steadfast and always ready. You should see him at play in the games we hold! Ondowen is now 14, and begins to shine brightly among the other young maidens of Fornost, already grown tall and slender and pleasant of face and manner. Minohreth is 10, and if she loves her older sister dearly, she seems to think Aranarth no less than a Vala! Estelmir is an active little boy of 6, and Anoriel, whom you have yet to meet, is now 2 years old.

The work in the countryside progresses well. Within 12 or 15 years we should have a well-traveled road between Fornost and Annuminas, with a constant band of farmlands, one or two leagues wide, the entire way, with small towns here and about besides. At that time, Arvedui will begin to rebuild the old city, and re-make it as the new White City of the North. He will change the terms of those receiving royal grants, giving land in exchange for work to rebuild the city. Oh we so hope to leave a greater kingdom for Aranarth. And we so hope that if Arvedui will indeed be last to rule at Fornost, that Aranarth will be the first in over one thousand years to begin his reign at Annuminas!

We ourselves spent this last summer at Annuminas, our final summer as prince and princess. Arvedui directed the surveyors in laying out the major buildings of the new city. We had miners who searched for the best deposits of stone and metals, and engineers to begin devising the defenses and water conveyances. It has not yet begun to take shape, but we can well imagine how it will be.

Meanwhile, Arvedui seeks to lay claim to more of Arnor’s former lands. Few are willing to take farms on the East Road between Bree and the Weather Hills, so Arvedui under Araphant had already begun to establish outposts and guard-towers, there and on the South Downs and some few up the River Hoarwell above Tharbad. He thus hopes to ease the fears of those who would re-settle those lands with an evident presence of soldiers.

Give our deepest appreciation to Master Elrond and the Lady Celebrian for taking you into their home of late, and healing you of your illness, and providing you with a place of restoration. The Second Age Master of Weapons and War is truly become the Third Age Master of Healing and Lore. Perhaps even the Master of Hospitality. He must know that we would have sent for you long hence, but that the way to Imladris has become again more perilous of late, east of the Weather Hills. Nonetheless, Queen Elenawen wishes to join you there. We have made it known to her that she is welcome to stay here amongst her grandchildren, but we think she wishes to seek greater joy and peace, and that to stay at Fornost would be ever a reminder of her loss. Further, she treasures the friendship she had with you for all those years you spent at Fornost, while she was yet the only Queen here. Therefore Arvedui sends already his request to Elrond that she may be taken there to abide in spring.

The Yule is upon us again. This one will be bitter-sweet, as we consider our loss of Good King Araphant, but rejoice also over his good memories, and in the season, and with great celebration of the First Yule under King Arvedui. I know not how they observe this season at Imladris, Arvedui thinks they mark it not so much as we, so I therefore send you tokens of the Yule with this message, that you may remember those seasons you passed here at Fornost with us.

The blessings of the Valar be upon you this season!

Your daughter,

Firiel
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Postby Valandil3430 » Wed Nov 15, 2006 6:05 am

Eleventh in a series:

17 Urui (August), 1976

Dear Mother,

It is as we feared. Word comes from the far north that King Arvedui, my husband, perished in the sea, early last year. I had prepared myself against this day, but the soup is still bitter. For long have you had no word from me, so I will tell now the full tale, though I expect to be joining you and Queen Elenawen soon at Imladris. Then as three widow queens shall we dwell together.

It was just ere the Yule, nigh unto two years ago, that Angmar’s forces came upon us at Fornost. We expected no winter attack, as Angmar had seldom attacked then before. All were going about making preparations for the Yule, and if any warden or official looked into the Seeing Stones, they saw only a great winter storm, slowly advancing down both sides of the North Downs. None knew what that storm hid.

Finally, some few survivors of our distant northern villages and outposts came fleeing to Fornost, warning us that those storms hid all of Angmar’s might. It all seemed so hopeless. Those storms were less than a day’s march from us and it was then first light of day. Arvedui soon determined, after careful examination in the Stone, that there was no hope of holding off the advancing armies with the force we had on hand, for they were well equipped for scaling the walls and were of overwhelmingly great numbers. There were both orcs and men, as well as wolves and other figures… perhaps trolls, if that were possible.

Quickly the word was given for our people to flee. They were to leave all behind that was not needful to their flight and make haste westward, in small groups and by diverse paths, to try to cross the Lhun into Lindon. That would be even a steady ten days’ march for men in summer weather, but it seemed the only hope for all our people that winter. The army coming from the east side had already rounded the Downs and would reach the south gate of our outer wall before the northern army reached the west gate. And Lindon seemed the only land to the west which might have strength remaining to repel this foe.

In order that our people might gain time to flee, forces were sent both north and east to harry the advance of our foes. Of the rest, some were sent as groups to provide a rear-guard for our people, while the others were kept in the city, to give resistance to her capture and further delay the pursuit.

Oh mother, it was an awful day – and yet there is little account of what happened. Of those sent forth to delay the foes, none are known to have survived, though some may yet wander in the wilds, and that is our hope. Many of those who fled were pursued and cut down and many lost in the wilderness beside, with little provision and less hope. Everything that we held dear was lost that day... our people, our city, our kingdom… our dreams.

Arvedui then turned the stone to Gondor and bid the warden there to give news of our plight to King Earnil. He sent forth messengers to warn those in our realm; those of Bree and Shire, and the stations on the South Road, the soldiers on the East Road and in the South Downs, the city of Tharbad and those farmers on the way west toward Annuminas.

After giving orders for the general populace and the arrangements of the soldiers, Arvedui called our family together. He divided his personal guard; 10 for himself and 50 for us… and he took the 20 best foresters; 10 for himself and 10 for us. He took to himself Celebereg and some few other companions… and he bid the rest of us to depart and make all speed for Lindon… his wife and his sons and his daughters. He would not come with us, but would try to draw off the invaders and to exploit their weaknesses. He would go to the north, to draw them off of those in flight to the west, and those under our protection to the south. He hoped that fortune would return to us, and that we would meet again and see this foe destroyed, but he could not guess if it would be so. Aranarth bid him divide the Seeing Stones between them, that they could speak thereby, but Arvedui would have both, as seemed fit to him. Our farewells were painful, but we strove to keep back our tears.

After one last embrace with my husband, I took my daughters to make our hasty preparations. My sons had a strange encounter, of which I now know the full tale. Much like my brother Faramir, they determined, all three, to defy their father’s orders and to take to the battle, that they might defend him and the kingdom. Happily, they met a better fate than my brother, for outside the chamber, awaiting them, was Malbeth the Seer. He bid them follow him to his private chamber and there he gave them each his counsel.

Aranarth he bade to do as his father commanded – to lead the people to safety. He told him that to disobey was to yield to his pride and would lead to our people’s destruction, but that to obey was to honor not only his father and king, but to honor all his fathers before him and all his sons after. For only in his safe arrival at Lindon was their any hope for the future of the Dunedain. He gave also into his keeping heirlooms of the house of Arnor… and treasures of Numenor, such as he had gathered into his keeping for this day. There were scrolls and tapestries and various small treasures, but there was also the Elendilmir, which he had just obtained of Arvedui, the Scepter of Andunie and the shards of the sword Narsil itself! With such treasures in his keeping, Aranarth was forbidden to recklessly risk all in personal combat that day.

Aramir he bade to provide safe-keeping over me, his mother, as well as his sisters. For he told him that Aranarth would have troubles enough to watch over all our people, and that someone must also see to the safety of his father’s wife and daughters. He gave him a necklace which he said had belonged to his own mother, and indeed, that was the only trinket or personal item in Malbeth’s chamber. For though he had long lived there, his room was simple – he had only a bed, a table and chair with paper, pen and ink, and a stand with basin, pitcher and cup.

Then he dismissed those two and, strangest of all, and only of late to our ears has come this tale: He said unto Estelmir, that though only 16 years of age, he knew him to be notable as a scribe, as well as a forester and hunter. He equipped him with winter garments, canvas for shelter, rope, a knife, bow and arrows… and a tube with scroll, pen and ink. Malbeth told Estelmir that he had himself one last duty to perform for his people, and that it needed a witness. Then Malbeth took Estelmir off to the south gate. Estelmir inquired why he had not so equipped himself as well, but Malbeth only told him he needed not the winter garments whither he was going.

The south gate of the outer wall was mostly deserted, for Malbeth had assured Arvedui that he would hold it long himself with only one helper of his choosing. Arvedui must have been surprised at this, but men do not doubt Malbeth, and it greatly aided the plans. Indeed, perhaps Arvedui thought that Gandalf or Curunir would come as Malbeth’s helper… and thought the south gate safe indeed, little realizing that the helper of Malbeth’s choosing would be his own youngest son. When they reached the gate, they left it open, but Malbeth stood just outside. He sent Estelmir to an outcropping of rock high overhead, close enough that he might see and hear, but far enough, and sheltered enough that he might escape detection. He bid him stay and watch to the end and record all that he saw and heard, to not seek to encounter the foe, but at night to slip into the hills and survive the winter as best he might, then strive to return to his brothers and his people, even be it a year or two thence. And then the two waited for the onrushing army.

Much of this account I now have of Estelmir, for we have none other who saw it as he did. First, he watched the city empty itself – so many people, he thought, yet not moving so swiftly, nor seeming so prepared for what they would encounter. Many tried to bring too much that would slow them; wagons and packs and sleds laden with things not to treasure over life itself. They brought their cattle and their sheep and hogs – and whatever manner of beast they owned. Arvedui had released all the draft horses to any that might use them, and all seemed so heavy-burdened. Most fled through the west gate, save a few who left early from the south gate, for it was known that the south gate would be sooner under attack. Yet from his perch, Estelmir was able to see the west gate as well, and to take note of what transpired there.

They waited, Malbeth standing still as stone, leaning on his staff, with his cloak close about him. Finally, the winter storms came into view – first from the east, then from the north. Late in the afternoon, the storms reached Fornost – icy winds swirling all about, blinding snow, bitter cold. After just a taste of that, the storms broke completely and all was still. There was revealed for any to see, a great northern army half a league from our west gate, and a great eastern army less than half a mile from our south gate. They began to advance on us; slowly at first, then with a quiet drum-beat, but ever-growing and building into great sound that shook the very earth. Those in flight, still on the open plain, panicked and ran shrieking in all directions. Many soldiers guarding those in flight drew themselves up in a line to halt, or at least slow, that great northern army.

Meanwhile, the advancing orcs of the eastern army had come to our south gate, deserted by all save Malbeth. They stopped when they saw him, a lone silent figure… who was but an old man. Then they laughed and jeered insults at him, and harsh threats. In the midst of all this Malbeth raised his voice above their din and shouted to them, “Stop!” A captain of orcs came forth, menacing Malbeth with his sword and asked why he should stop for a single old man before the open gate of a city he meant to take. Malbeth answered him, “For not long hence, your own master shall slay you on this very spot.” Stunned, the orc drew back, for though seeming outrageous, truth somehow rang through this claim of Malbeth.

Then Malbeth did an amazing thing. He spoke to all those orcs gathered about, telling them that their days were now short – and that none would see another summer. Then he pointed to each in turn and prophesied, telling him who would be his slayer. For some, it was to be a roquen of Gondor, for others – a rider of the Eotheod, for others – an elf of Lorien or Imladris, for some few, an avenging man of Arthedain… but he named each by his own name, as “You, Sherpaz, shall die at the spear of Fehrwohlt of the folk of Eotheod. You, Grenzik, will taste last of all the sword of Telemir, soldier of Gondor. You, Burghrat… you will skulk away and avoid the slaughter, but will then perish slowly in the wilderness… cold, hungry, alone.” Finally, Malbeth looked at one orc among the many and his eyebrows shot up. He told him, “You, Chunglabe… you shall be slain not one minute hence by your very comrade, Bildreeg!” This last was finally too much for them. The orcs rushed on him as one, to do him in. Malbeth was quickly cut down, but he showed no fear, nor even sign of pain. He who had never wielded a sword, died as bravely as any warrior could. An old man indeed… 200 years old.

But as they hacked him, blades flying in the air, they stopped suddenly, as if frozen. In their frenzy, a misguided stroke had taken one of their own. It was Chunglabe, the one whom Malbeth had last addressed. He looked up at the one whose sword had pierced him and faintly said, “Bildreeg…” and then he convulsed, stiffened and said no more.

The orcs were taken aback by this and drew away once more, as though contemplating their fates told them, having seen the one already fulfilled. And then, though his mouth moved not, a sound like laughter came from the body of Malbeth. The orcs broke completely. They shrieked and shivered and wailed. They began to panic and run about. Estelmir thinks that they all would have fled, if not for the arrival of the second wave of the army… men – cursed men of Carn Dum! And with them rode their sorcerer-king, on a black horse. By all accounts, this same has sat on the throne since Angmar was founded, more than 600 years ago.

Seeing the dead bodies and the open gate and the disarray of the orcs, the evil king called forth the orc captain to give account of himself. The captain came trembling, and told his king what had happened, but not telling what Malbeth had foretold about himself. The king was angered, and ordered him to remove the bodies and to sack the city. The captain hesitated, looking about, as if for a way of escape. He obviously did not want to touch Malbeth. Enraged, the king lifted his great mace, and brought it down mightily on the foul creature’s head, crushing the helmet inward. The orc crumpled to the ground, and so was filled more of Malbeth’s word, and I doubt not that all the others fell just as he said they would. Some men came forward and dragged aside all the bodies while others herded the orcs on into the city before them. Soon after passing the gates, the orcs regained their ferocity and began to run hither and thither all through the city, looting and disturbing and destroying, but there was none there for them to slay.

While the orcs and men moved into the city from the south gate, their king paused over the body of Malbeth. Then he looked up suddenly, and gazed about him, looking high on the rocks above. His look paused when it passed where Estelmir hid, but only for a brief moment. In that moment, Estelmir says that he was himself seized with such a fear as he had never known, nor could have imagined and desired to flee. But he mastered himself and stayed perfectly still, concealed by rocks and branches… and soon, the gaze moved on.

Oh mother, it was sad to hear of Malbeth’s end, but it sounds like the work of the unseen hand who intervenes, and indeed, who had gifted Malbeth with foresight for his whole life. Arvedui never disdained Malbeth, although the words of Malbeth seemed to doom him… for he knew full well that these words were not Malbeth’s own, but were simply given to him. In fact, from coming to the throne, Arvedui gave orders that a scribe be kept ready at any time to record the words which Malbeth was given to speak. And upon Malbeth he bestowed honors and favors, and he had ever a place at the King’s table, although he never did seem to care for such honors that men seek and he ate but little. Yet I think he accepted them out of love and respect for Arvedui. Such wondrous things are said of him. For as I say, he never wielded sword, nor did he ever take strong drink, nor feast to excess and he never took a wife, but remained celibate. Perhaps one day I shall take upon myself to write an account of his life.

Their king entered the outer walls of our city, driving his forces through the empty streets, right up to the main south gate of the older city. This was barred against him, and he spent much time breaking through, only to find again a deserted place. For our people had all gone. If indeed he had led his forces first around to the west gate, perhaps we would have all been lost, crushed between his two armies in the field, as he thought to crush us between his armies in the city.

By this time much had happened at the west gate. The storm broke with the setting sun, and a few trolls were there indeed, sheltered from the sun by the storm’s might. They broke forth and set upon the west gate and the walls about. Men and orcs brought forth ladders and sought to scale the walls. Then they turned their eyes about and saw the flight of our people. Our own group was the last to depart and the largest, and held together in good order while the others broke and fled – and some of the foe turned from the city walls and gave chase.

Just as Angmar’s forces began to overcome those walls, and while their other army finally began to enter at the south gate, there came from within the walls a loud trumpet call. All was still for a moment, then the west gate was thrown open, and forth came Arvedui the King, with his companions and his small detachment of guards and foresters. They came forth riding on horses, but not our heavy horses… these were those left of the fleet horses used by the messengers, now made into chargers for the king and his men. They flew past those foes nearest the walls and fell upon the flank and then the rear of those who attacked our people afield. None of these foes were mounted, so Arvedui and his men went hither and thither as they willed, closing, striking and moving on to another. The enemy wanted to bring down the king, so they sought to close him in, but they could not. Meanwhile, our people were able to flee once more, as their foes turned to hem in the king. The king stayed out of their hands for more than half of an hour and then, as they still converged, he and his men forced their way through the last gap, turned to the north and rode hard away. This was the last we saw, the last I saw, of my husband. But if he had joined us, all Angmar would have pressed us, while they divided themselves after – some pursuing him northward, others harassing our people westward, and Estelmir says it was long before all those orcs scattered in the city could be brought together to aid in the chase.

Even when Arvedui came forth, those at the gates and walls had turned to chase him. As they did so, all those left inside erupted forth, fought their way through the few that remained and marched across the plain, with all haste, yet holding their formation and not dispersing in flight. Most of Angmar sought the greater prize of the king, but some gathered to fight this band. Though they suffered losses, they prevailed each time and eventually joined with the rear-guard who defended us. They were led by my brother-in-law, Araphor, who left the gate with 8 score men and reached us with 7 score remaining – quite a feat that day and on that field. But just as they joined us and as Araphor greeted his nephew Aranarth, an arrow struck him down from behind. He then asked only of his wife and child. None wished to tell him their fate, but Aramir said, ‘They have gone on ahead.’ With the clarity of life’s end, Araphor saw the true meaning and with his last breath gasped that he hastened on to join them. It was a fell day.

Full night was now falling, we had just reached the woods at the edge of the plain, more than a half league west and south of the city – and it was just then that the King of Angmar re-emerged from the city, declaring it deserted and began to organize his companies for the pursuit and destruction of our people.

For the next three days we rested little. We were in constant flight, taking only brief rests after long hours of marching, interrupted by fending off attacking raiders from our rear. I remember little more than the constant weariness, the foul faces of our orc assailants and how those around us fell – too many and too often. The men guarding us stood steadfast, but always they were diminished in number. We had each taken no more than one or two day’s provision, which we attempted to stretch into a week – so with much exertion and little food we weakened further. We had taken no water, as there was plenty of snow. The snow slowed us, but it slowed our foes as well. It also left them an all-too clear trail by which to keep up the chase.

The people had divided into many groups and ours was the largest. Now and then a smaller group would join us. We said nothing, though we felt the hopes of our people were greatest if we stayed in small groups as we were hunted. But that may not be – and surely the enemies we repelled would have devoured a smaller group. A few times we reached an isolated farmhouse where the people had not yet heard of the terror which was upon us. So in those times we gathered more provision and a few more people to us as well.

On the fourth day, we had only few encounters and our spirits began to rise. The fifth day, no attacks at all, though some thought they marked sounds off to the left or the right. On the sixth day all was still, and we thought ourselves finally beyond the grasp of the enemy, so that we planned to rest on the seventh day and refresh ourselves for the remainder of the trip. By this time we were more than half-way to the Lhun, a bit south and west of Annuminas. We had perhaps 700 people with us, including six score fighting men.

So we rested for all that day, but as dusk arose there came shrill cries of war. Our foes had come upon us, and they had us hemmed in, from behind and before. Their numbers were great and the outcome seemed in doubt, for we could not this time press on and seek to slow them. All reached for something they might use as a club or spear. The weapons of those already fallen were given to women and to children. Then our foes beset us and all seemed lost.

A hail of arrows came unexpected from the south flank, striking not us, but our enemies… then another, and another, each with deadly accuracy. It was a company of two score archers, of the Halflings of Shire. They then divided themselves, sending some to oppose each part of the orc army. Our men pressed all the harder and the orcs began to fear. The swords of the Dunedain and the bows of the Halflings then made short work of them. Only once did a squad penetrate to our archer-friends. A half dozen reached them unscathed and began to wreake havoc among them, too close in their midst for proper use of the bows. Aramir and a companion rushed to their aid and threw down those orcs, the last with the aid of a halfling pikeman, though the orc mortally wounded him as he fell. Then the field was won.

The fallen pikeman had been their captain. Another halfling came forward to Aranarth, touched his hat and offered his service. He was their captain’s lieutenant, and his name was Anzelain Tuck. The messenger had reached them at the end of the second day after the fall of Fornost. They had taken Arvedui’s warning as a summons and sent this aid, all who could be gathered so quickly, with more to follow. He seemed crestfallen to hear that Fornost was already lost and her people scattered and harried in the wild, for their intent had been to go to Fornost. After resting from nightfall the day before, and after this fresh attack, our people were ready to move on, but these stalwart friends said they would hide themselves along our trail and seek to bar further pursuit. Oh, may Eru and the Valar bless all them and their people richly!

At last, after five more days travel, with less food than before, but a bit more rest – and no further attack, we reached the Lhun. It was not yet frozen-over so we walked south along it another four or five leagues until we met a small company of Cirdan’s Elven foresters. Some smaller groups of our people had already arrived, so they had news of the fall of Fornost and the flight through the wilderness. They rejoiced at the arrival of our royal house and escorted us one more league to a ferry station they had made. We crossed and there were united with hundreds more of our people. The next several days they continued to arrive and Aranarth and Aramir began to go back across the Lhun, seeking and finding more wanderers afield and returning with them. Cirdan granted us space to dwell and his people assisted ours in the making of winter shelters. Aranarth and Cirdan took counsel together. Our arrival brought the first news of Arvedui’s flight to the north, so Cirdan made preparations for a ship to sail north along the coast, as far as the ice permitted, in hopes of finding him and his men. But we heard no word from the ship once it departed.

The Yule had passed, though it was still the season, and the Elves gave a great feast and many gifts to our people, of such things as were needful to help us through the winter. After another week we had settled in for the time, and those arriving had begun to dwindle, until only now and again a lone wanderer reached us, with tales of horror and despair.

When winter ended, Cirdan sent for Aranarth. A fleet of Gondor had arrived at the mouth of Lhun, with great force for war. Alas, that it was come so late. For since more than a year before the attack on Fornost, we had warnings of a gathering of Angmar’s forces. These we relayed to Gondor, with requests for their aid, but ever were their counsels divided, for some feared that to make a great sending to the North would open them to attack from Gondor’s own foes. What good, they asked, to send forces that we may save Arthedain, and thereby lose Gondor?

Earnil had come not himself, but sent his son Earnur, who is grown into an enormous man. He says little – and I know not whether he recalls me from those days long ago… 35 years before this! Still, Earnil did send to our aid at last, for when Arvedui told of the attack by the Stone, he would delay no more, but dismissed all counsel of caution and sent his fleet. Perhaps he truly did honor Arvedui and our alliance. Perhaps he even remembered me kindly, as I was in my early youth. But it does seem certain that Earnil was moved by that message of Arvedui. And we learn of late that Earnil had further contact with Arvedui through the stone, and found something of his movements, right up to just a bit before Gondor’s fleet reached Lindon.

Much of what came next you know, for Gondor’s great forces marched off to war, thousands and thousands of men. With them went Cirdan’s armies and Aranarth leading those who remained of our fighting men – some 12 score, along with some few dwarves who came from further north. Cirdan had already sent word to Elrond and asked that he send his forces to Fornost as well, that Angmar’s armies might be defeated at last. And so it was. Angmar’s King thought too little of the force sent against him and too much of his own warriors and sent all forth to war, with too little thought to their arrangement or how they were ordered, and all were swept aside.

In mid spring, we brought our people back to our own lands. The enemy had mostly holed up for the winter in Fornost, sending out raiding parties to gather plunder for their provision, but not marching fully to war against the Bree-land or the Shire, likely waiting for that until the spring. We found a few of our farms undestroyed, and a farmer with wide lands five leagues north of Bree granted that we set thereon our encampment, to which we might gather news and make our plans.

Aranarth journeyed to Fornost and found it hopelessly defiled. Once what crop we could sow was in the field (we were given seed by the folk of Shire and Bree), he sent men to salvage from Fornost what they could and to burn the rest. We gathered news from all about. None were found alive from those on the East Road, though some few on the South Road had escaped, and perhaps half those soldiers in the South Downs. Tharbad had not been attacked, and some had fled there. Some were found here and about, surviving in the wild, but many more were found who had not survived… those whom the foe had fallen upon, and those who had fallen from hunger or cold. No further word of our rescuing archers had reached Shire. At last, in the harvest time of last year, Aramir found Estelmir, who told his strange tale and added to what we knew of that Last Day. We were overjoyed to find him, for when we marked his absence from our flight, we thought him lost to us. But ever, Aranarth sought for news of his father, sending out parties in all directions, but mostly to the north. All returned with no news. As summer came, and then grew into fall, our hope for him began to fade, for he would surely have managed to come back by then, if he yet lived. When winter came, Aranarth knew he must abide in one place, that any word could be brought to him. But Aramir would not be dissuaded even by the winter, so he continued to venture forth, ever farther and for longer, and Estelmir began to go with him.

Finally, just days ago, they returned from a long voyage to the far north. Strangely enough, they had met Gandalf on their return, just as they passed the ruin of Fornost, so he accompanied them. They brought with them a strange man from Forochel, of the people… Lossoth. He gave his account to Aranarth, how Arvedui had come to him the winter before last, how he and his people gave them food and shelter, how Arvedui’s men kept a fire at the coast and how one day a great ship came for them… but too early in the spring, for there was still much ice. How Arvedui thanked him, and went aboard despite his warnings, feeling his duty to re-join his people and not wishing further delay. And how, after he boarded, he was lost, with all his men, and all those who sailed that great ship, and with those round stones he kept.

Then the man took forth a ring and said that it was a token of Arvedui’s thanks, and that he wished to redeem it. Arvedui had told him that he could name his price and he asked for four wagons of supplies and goods and tools. Aranarth examined the ring and saw that it was the very Ring of Barahir! While despairing to hear final word of his father’s death, he esteemed the man who had aided his father; giving him food, shelter and good counsel. He gave orders for a great feast, and then gave an order that this man be granted three times what he had asked… no less than twelve wagons full of provision and goods and tools. When this man, Ikwen, finally departed from us, he left rejoicing, both at his new wealth and for hearing at last the news of Angmar’s destruction. The man also had some few other items to give us from Arvedui and his men, including some letters they had written against the chance they would return not. I have myself a letter from Arvedui… perhaps the last words he has ever written.

Alas, so many are lost to me. None knows the fate of my dear friend Forniel, who was a sister to me. Of Arvedui’s other sisters, Imrawen and her husband Dernlias live, though they lost their elder children, but Ithilwen and her family are no more. We have suffered less than most, for we have no more than a quarter of our former people. Fornost is beyond saving, and Annuminas is not yet ready to be dwelt in. Nor do Aranarth and Gandalf think it good that we make for ourselves a place, while some may yet live who would work toward our destruction. We simply have not the strength in arms to lay further claim to the land. Therefore, Aranarth will forsake the title of ‘King’ – as he has no land to rule, and take instead the title ‘Chieftain’ – for he now rules a people only, who have no home. They would have made him their king, once we had final news of Arvedui’s end, and still think him their king, but he has no kingdom. He arranges our people in groups and advises and instructs them in how they will now live. My older daughters depart from me. Ondowen is already wedded to the son of the farmer on this land, and now Minohreth wishes to wed one of our young soldiers. Even Ondowen is too young for this, but what can I say? I have no means to provide for them. If they have husbands, perhaps they will do better. Even Estelmir joins with the men, at his young age, but he has already proven himself hardy in the wilderness. He says he journeyed on his own up to Carn Dum, and spied it out. I have only Anoriel left to me, my youngest, who will soon be 14.

All our dreams are now lost. There is no Arthedain and there will be no Arnor. There is no Fornost and there will be no Annuminas. We had wanted to leave for Aranarth so much more than what we started with, yet we leave him only a shadow of what we had. And I have lost my husband, he with whom my father matched me, and with whom I found at last the love I long had sought. I recall those days of my youth, and how cruel I thought my fate to be matched with this unknown prince of the forsaken north. My fate was far kinder indeed than I could have dreamed it would be, but now I lose all that came to me.

I would be a hindrance to my son and to my people now. Elrond invites me and I will indeed come there soon and dwell again with you. Give my greetings to him, as well as Celebrian and their children, and to Celeborn and Galadriel – and to Elenawen, who must now mourn the loss of her son, as I mourn him, my husband. And truly, I had prepared myself for that news from Forochel, and deemed Arvedui lost indeed, but the words yet stung as I heard them.

After all this, Malbeth was right… Arvedui was indeed Last King in Arthedain.

Your daughter,

Firiel
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Postby Valandil3430 » Thu Nov 16, 2006 11:28 pm

OK - the wrap-up... many years later:

Twelfth in a series:

4 Lothron (May), 2056

Dear Ondowen,

Greetings my daughter. I hope that this finds you well, for my children and grandchildren are my great reasons for hope. I fear that I am not so well myself. I have just passed my 160th birthday and guess that I may not see another.

I see too little of you and all my children, as well as my grandchildren. While your brother Aranarth has become leader of a secretive and hidden people, I have dwelt mostly alone for this second half of my life. Alone I say, for while the Elven folk here are good and kindly in their way, they are not like us. Especially in these waning years of mine, they little know how to speak to me. Oft times of late I come upon some small group in the Hall of Fire, and they cease their talking and their fair laughter, in which I had so desired to share, and turn to me a grave look or a faint smile… and I feel their pity and perhaps condescension… and then I wish no more for their company, for it is now but a constant reminder that only I age among the ageless. So I spend my time alone; taking short walks, eating what little I desire, resting much beside the warm fire with a hot drink and a thick blanket.

Neither of your grandmothers lived many more years after my arrival here. But you know that well. After their passing I have been so much more alone, for even the Lady Galadriel, who was so gracious to me, departed but a few years after I came. Elrond’s wife and daughter spend much time away from here now, staying with her in Lorien. I rejoiced when Aranarth came with his new bride, swollen with child, for I thought that they would dwell here with me. But the time of their stay was all too short – and even that was more than forty years ago. I wept so when they left me. I had so wanted to hold court as a Queen, while my son surveyed the fair ladies of the land who attended me, that I might watch his choosing and advise him therein. But I knew her not before we met here at Rivendell, when she was already his wife. And I rejoiced to see another grandchild… the first child born to a son of Arvedui, but he was removed from my life all too soon, and I was once again all alone. For alas, Imladris, which was my paradise, has become also my prison.

So much has changed in this world since I first came to the North. Arthedain is no more, and yet Angmar is crushed as well. News travels much slower of late, but have you heard that Gondor has yet no king and that Mardil the Steward still holds power? Foolish Earnur could not resist his pride, but answered the challenge of Angmar’s old sorcerer-king. But even that was several years ago, and you must surely know it. Of late, Gandalf comes much to meet with Elrond, and sometimes also comes that other one, Curunir, as well as Lady Galadriel… and they meet together with others of note and take counsel together. They talk much of Mirkwood, that portion nearest Gladden, where fell your father’s ancestor Isildur. Ever are their brows knit and their voices hushed, but I hear just a bit now and again… for perhaps they think too little of my hearing that remains.

But at least your nephew Arahael is grown into a good young man, as well as his brothers. I see even them too little though. Perhaps five years since I saw Arahael, but eight or more since I saw his father Aranarth. How are your sisters and their families? Is there any more word of your brothers Aramir or Estelmir? Perhaps they are still well, for many of our people disappear for long into the wild and yet return safely one day. I would that we could all be together just once yet again, that I may see you all for one last time, and that we might tell stories and sing the old songs, but I fear that time will not permit it. I think that I shall have failed by the time this message even reaches you. Send word then to my son, for I have no means to contact him directly, for Elrond’s sons are away and my own messenger knows not how to find him. He can find you at least, and I trust that you will know how to send word on to Aranarth. Let him know that the time has come to see his mother off.

Oh, how I miss you all, my children. How I miss my mother and father and brothers. I miss so much my husband, the Last King, his arms and his eyes, and the years we shared together at Fornost. I strangely miss my old home of Minas Anor, which they now re-name as Minas Tirith. How I miss the White Tree!

Oh, I miss also the vigor of my youth and the cause to hope for a better future, that I might one day long to see. And yet, given the choice, even knowing now how all was to pass, still would I have assented, and gone yet again with Arvedui into the North. It is now time to go to him again, and I have kept him waiting long.

All my blessings I wish upon you and your children, and your brothers and sisters and their children as well. Watch over your children and bid the others do likewise. May peace enshroud you and may joy be your constant companion.

Your mother,

Firiel
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Postby RavenTinuviel » Fri Dec 29, 2006 9:50 am

Well done Valandil! The letter format of telling story is great! You win the writing award in my book! :)
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Postby Edmund the Scholar » Fri May 04, 2007 7:35 am

I love this format. Wasn't Frankenstein written this way? Very reader-friendly. It also gets you clearly in the head of the main character.

Well done Valandil3430. Write more!
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Postby Valandil3430 » Sun May 06, 2007 3:45 am

Thanks again, Edmund! Glad you enjyoed it.

It's been awhile since I read "Frankenstein" - I don't remember the format too well any more. Was the "doctor" first picked up in the Arctic somewhere and then related his story to the "author"?

I do try to keep writing. And actually - some of my stories are on hold because they're competing with a current RPG I'm involved with. So - I take the time to write, but it's going elsewhere for right now. :)
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Postby Edmund the Scholar » Mon May 07, 2007 5:48 am

If I remember correctly, and I may be confusing Frankenstein with Dracula, the entire story was in the form of letter to somebody. But, yes, Frankenstein begins in the artic.

I look forward to reading the rest of your work.
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Postby Arassuil » Wed Jul 09, 2008 5:43 pm

Good fan-fic read! This style is kind of what I'm doing with my Ranger's Journal. I may include letters as well as journal entries when I get back to writing it.
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