In An Age Before – Part 21

Chapter Twenty-seven

The Coming of the Númenóreans, Eriador - The Second Age of the Sun

  Author’s Note: In UT, Ch 4, HoCaG, pg 239, it is said, “In 1695, when Sauron invaded Eriador, Gil-galad called on Númenor for aid.  Then Tar-Minastir the King sent out a great navy; but it was delayed, and did not reach the coasts of Middle Earth until the year 1700.”  JRRT

  I hate to say it, but this seems ridiculous!  First, in the preceding Chapter 3, TLoE:KoN, Tar-Minastir didn’t take the scepter and become king until 1731, upon the death of his aunt, Queen Tar-Telperien, though this contradiction was later amended.  1731 was long after the war ended.  Second, in Karen Fonstad’s Atlas of Middle Earth, the distance from Romenna, the port of Númenor, to Mithlond, the port of Lindon, is only about 1,900 miles by sea.  A ship making only six knots would cover that distance in thirteen days!  The Númenóreans were, at that time, the greatest mariners in Middle Earth.  The idea that they took five years to travel to Mithlond is utterly unbelievable.  I can only accept this timeframe if some disaster in Númenor kept the navy from sailing until a couple weeks before it arrived.  Any disaster at sea sufficient to delay the Dúnedain for five years would have caused such high casualties that they wouldn’t have arrived with their army in fighting condition.

  In this chapter I have cleaved to the amended timeline which dates the reign of Tar-Minastir as starting in 1691, and I have fabricated a chain of events to explain the delay of the Númenórean navy under Ciryatur.  I simply couldn’t work within canon on this.


  Now Helluin raced beside the river, knowing that since Sauron had ordered his Northern Host across the Lune, his Southern Host was even now crossing the river too.  She could perceive his strategy; that the Northern Host should have come to the fighting already underway and thence crashed against the left flank of Gil-galad's forces when they were bitterly embattled.  In an hour she drew near, and she had seen the rafts and troop carriers of Sauron's Host upon the water in the last miles.  Many thousands they were, indeed by her guess, twice the number of those already slain.  She kept moving, expecting at any moment to come upon the king's cavalry, but still she found them not.  Only did she see the abandoned campsites and bivouacs of the army, for it had withdrawn that very morn, leaving the countryside empty and undefended.  Helluin was alone in a land under siege, the only warrior of the Eldar in a country soon to be overrun by 33,000 enemies.

  She could do naught but groan at her fortune and follow the hoof prints of the cavalry's horses, and so she hastened on her way.  Already some of the advance parties of the Glamhoth were landing, and some marked her flight with a few arrows, but these were poorly aimed and they hindered not her passing.  Now her race was become desperate, and with each minute that passed, the Yrch were less and less preoccupied with their landing.  Soon they would be willing to run her down for sport.  She sprinted, thankful that her armor was of mithril rather than the much heavier steel.  Danger and purpose gave her feet wings; she would run all the way to Mithlond if necessary, though that road was 70 miles and she would surely be killed ere she arrived.

  At a riding pace for an ordered retreat, the cavalry of Gil-galad had made about 12 miles in the first three hours after dawn, and in the time of Helluin's dash, another 3.  But they had left a rearguard following the main host, and that rode two leagues behind.  It was upon these that Helluin first came in the fifth hour of the morning.  She called out to them at two furlong's distance, seeing the dust of their riding growing ever closer as she closed upon it.  None stopped.  She put on a burst of speed, drawing close enough to taste the dust that had arisen behind them, and hailed them again.  Those rearmost of the riders slowed a bit, looking behind them through the dust.  Finally three turned back and rode hard towards her.  She came to a halt to await them, hands upon her knees, panting and gasping for breath.

  "No infantry should be here," said one knight, "whyfore art thou in this land?"

  "Consider me a supernumerary ally," Helluin choked out, then paused to spit a mouthful of dust laced phlegm, "I hath come in haste from the Laiquendi in the north.  Just two hours past we hath destroyed Sauron's Northern Host."

  The knights looked upon her tidings with amazement.  From all too close by they heard the hooting calls of Yrch disembarking from their rafts.  They had been seen.  The closest knight reached one arm down to Helluin and helped her to mount behind him, and then they wheeled their steeds and raced in pursuit of the rest of their company at a gallop.  During their ride none spoke but to urge on their horses with soft words of encouragement.  After ten minutes they rejoined the rearguard, but these were now proceeding at a canter rather than at a trot.  They did not stop.

  The miles passed as the sun climbed to the noon, while behind them more and more of the enemy made their way ashore.  Yet now the river widened and most of the landings lay behind them to the north.  Still they slowed not their pace and Helluin was happy for their haste.  She had escaped by a hair.

  'Twas mid-afternoon when they came to the outskirts of Mithlond.  There the cavalry had rejoined the infantry that had withdrawn the day before.  A great encampment had been hastily erected and the company brought their horses to the pickets and dismounted.  Then the knights, with Helluin tagging along, made their way to a large tent o'er which flew a deep blue standard bearing a single rayed star.

  Guards challenged them at the entrance, and the captain, his lieutenant, and Helluin were admitted.  The rest were dismissed by their officers and they made their way to the mess for their much delayed noon meal.

  Within the tent was set a large table upon which were spread maps of the campaign.  There sat the High King, Gil-galad, Glorfindel, and Galdor.  But more surprising to Helluin, with them sat three of the Dúnedain.  Helluin eyed them with hope, wondering if these had been with the king since the start of the war, or if they were newly come from Westernesse.  She marked the reactions of all at her unexpected appearance.  The king nervously twisted his hands, Glorfindel offered her a smile, Galdor sat still but gave her a nod, and the Dúnedain gaped at her.  Definitely from Westernesse, she thought with joy, and one amongst them looks familiar, though such an effect hast been seen aforetime.

  "My Lord," Helluin said in greeting as she bowed to the king.

  "Helluin," Gil-galad said, acknowledging her and then lapsing into silence, seemingly not knowing what else to say.  The captain she had ridden in with gave her a look.

  "Non meren govannad cin¹," Glorfindel said, giving Helluin a wider smile. ¹(Non meren govannad cin, I am joyous(happy) to meet(see) you, = no-(am) + -n(subj. suff., I) + meren(joyous) + govanno-(meet) + -ad(inf., to) + cin(dir. obj., you) Sindarin)

  "A Im cin, mellon nin¹," Helluin replied warmly.  ¹(A Im cin, mellon nin, And I you, my friend, = a(and) Im(subj. pro., I) + cin(you) + mellon(friend) + nin(my)  Sindarin)

  "My Lord, Helluin hast somewhat to report, for we found her newly come from battle in the north," the captain said, gaining Gil-galad's attention.  The king looked now at Helluin expectantly and nodded, bidding her speak.

  "I hath come recently from battle upon the western bank of the Lune.  About 65 miles to the north was that field fought.  There, by the Host of the Laiquendi, was the Northern Host of Sauron worsted."

  The king looked at her in amazement and Glorfindel chuckled.

  "But I hath always believed the Laiquendi scattered, disorganized, and few," Gil-galad uttered in disbelief.  "Hast thou marshaled them into companies of war?  How many is their count?  Whither art they now?  Who commands them?"

  "No, 8,000, north, Tórferedir," Helluin answered.

  "Incredible," the king said in wonder, "and what of Sauron's Host…those defeated?"

  "The Northern Host of the Enemy numbered 16,000 and began crossing the Lune in the first hour past midnight last.  They were to fall upon thy forces this afternoon while'st thou were embattled, no doubt.  After allowing them some hours to complete their landings and commit themselves upon the hither shore, the Laiquendi commenced to shooting them.  Once begun, never did they cease.  They were victorious in the third hour past dawn and the Glamhoth lay utterly destroyed.  Indeed, none survived."

  It was not lost on the Men of Númenor that an army of 8,000 bowmen had slaughtered a host numbering twice their count and this they marked as a deed of renown, for archery had long been, amongst the Dúnedain, a highly celebrated skill.  'Twas a great victory by any standard, but in this case it was nothing less than deliverance.  They had not expected the assault by an additional force from the north.  

  "My friend, it seems thou hast been well occupied," Glorfindel said, "and thy most recent stroke against Gorthaur shalt cost him dear.  Now for the first time he is outnumbered, for I deem he hath less than 35,000 troops remaining in Eriador."

  "I make his forces 36,000 in all, but 3,000 of these art in the east maintaining the leaguer of Imladris," Helluin said.  But by his words, Glorfindel had confirmed that the Dúnedain had arrived at last, for even counting the Laiquendi, the total strength of the Eldar in western Eriador was but 20,000.  What allies other than the Dúnedain would come in such numbers?  Helluin nodded her appreciation to him, and then added, "I hath heard a report that a third host hast issued from Mordor of late, and 'tis composed mostly of Easterling Men.  It may arrive within the month."

  "How come thee by such tidings, Helluin?"  Gil-galad asked, still amazed.

  "Indeed from the mouth of Sauron himself," she said, shocking the others, "for to Elrond in Imladris came three claiming to be of the Green Elves.  They feigned a message from thee requesting aid against the forces assaulting Lindon, and revealed a third host coming to the battle.  However their deception was revealed and they were dispatched."

  The king ground his teeth in anger at this, saying, "Herein is the second time thou hast revealed the Master of Lies using my name in vain to support his falsehoods.  Why think thou that any words from his mouth art true?"

  "Because a good lie stretches rather than refutes the truth, and because he is a braggart."

  The others nodded in agreement.

  "Ciryatur, doth thou believe thy force in Lond Daer Ened can counter this new threat?"  Gil-galad asked, addressing the Dúnadan seated upon his right.  This was the Man whom Helluin thought familiar.

  "Indeed I do, my Lord King," Ciryatur answered confidently, "for if Sauron's host doth number 50,000 as thou hast claimed did his main host aforetime, then he shalt be matched in numbers, yet o’ermatched in prowess."

  "Thou hast landed 50,000 upon Vinyalonde?"  Helluin asked in amazement.

  "They should be there already, for their way was shorter than ours, and though the facilities there art not so fine as thy havens here, still should they be mustered and ready to make war in Enedwaith upon any foes in that country.  Our army is fully equipped for a campaign of long duration against bitter opposition.  The force we hath landed here is the same."

  "50,000 thou hast brought hither to Lindon at last?"  Helluin couldn't resist asking.  She recalled the assurances of Tar-Telperien and Minastir when last she had visited Armenelos in late 1601.

  "Aye, Helluin.  Though long delayed, we hath come in force as was once promised to thee by the late queen," Ciryatur said apologetically, "and none too soon it seems."

  "Indeed so," the king agreed, "at the very last breath of our hope hast thou come."

  Helluin had many more questions and hoped she'd have a chance to ask them.  The king had fallen silent as had the others at the table.  She stood in matching silence with the captain and the lieutenant, waiting for someone to speak.  At last the king spoke.

  "Helluin, I know thou favor combat afoot, and more, I would appoint one of our kindred to fight beside our allies.  Go thou with Ciryatur and his host to the battle," he ordered, effectively removing Helluin from his concern.  In truth, he knew not what else to do with her.  He could not have commanded any fate more welcome to her.

  "Thy wish is my command," Helluin said with a bow.  Her smile was perplexing to the king, but he forced it from his mind in favor of ordering the coming battle.

  So Helluin went from the tent in the company of one of Ciryatur's lieutenants, and they made their way to the bivouac of the Dúnedain.  Never had she recalled being pestered so constantly for answers to so many questions.  The lieutenant, named Bregor for the great-grandfather of Beren, had obviously heard many stories of her and asked after her life as if he were a scribe or loremaster contemplating her biography.

  Yes, I knew Elros Tar-Minyatur.  Yes, I knew King Tar-Elendil.  Yes, I was the great-grandmother of the first queen, Tar-Ancalime, (that royal bitch, Helluin thought).  Yes, I knew the Captain-Admiral Falmandil.  The Captain-Admiral Veantur?  Of course I knew him…I was married to him for nearly 400 years!  Sheesh!  Yes, I really lived in Aman.  And yes, Tar-Telperien looked just like me in her youth, or so I heard from Ciryandur aboard Rámaen in 1375.

  "Ahhh-ha!  Thou knew our Lord Admiral's grandfather, Ciryandur!"  Bregor exclaimed.

  Well, I hath gotten at least one answer amidst all his questions, Helluin thought, that explains why Ciryatur looks so familiar!  The Ship Lord is scion of a noble seafaring family, grandson to the Ship Master, and therefore Falmandil's great-grand nephew.    

  At last they came to a field northeast of the walls of Mithlond and there were set what appeared to be 10,073 tents.  Helluin noted that roughly two-thirds were colored a subdued green and the rest deep blue.  She raised a brow in question.

  "The infantry is housed in the green tents," Bregor explained, "for such a color serves better to blend in with the fields and hills.  Deep blue art the tents of the cavalry."

  Helluin nodded, understanding his logic, though to her Elvish eyes both colors stood out equally garish upon the landscape.  Yet perhaps to the eyes of Yrch or Men, such passed for camouflage, she thought.  The Laiquendi would certainly hath been amused.

  Bregor made arrangements for Helluin to occupy a smallish tent nearby to those of the commanders in the center of the encampment.  There she had use of a cot, a chair, and a small table.  She was happy to find that she was to share her space with no other.  Sensing a wait ahead, she took the chair and set it before the tent flap, and there she sat in the afternoon light attending to her weapons and armor.  Helluin noted that most of the Dúnedain, it seemed, found some excuse to walk past her tent, gawking at her with varying degrees of subtlety.  She ignored them for the most part, for they addressed her not, and thus she awaited the return of the commanders.

  'Twas after two hours, and just an hour ere sunset, when a servant found her and came to stand self-consciously before her.  Helluin looked up as his shadow presented itself on the ground before her and noted that he was really a boy of early-teen years, a page perhaps, or an apprentice.  Helluin noted that his hair was very dark, well 'nigh black, and his eyes were blue rather than the more common grey.  She waited for him to speak.  After clearing his throat and perfecting his posture, he bowed and addressed her.

  "My Lady, I am sent hither by my lord, Ciryatur, to convey thee to the Officers' Board.  The evening meal is set and many tidings art to be spoken concerning the prosecution of the campaign."

  Helluin favored him with a smile, hoping to put him more at ease and said, "I thank thee and thy lord for my inclusion at thy board.  Indeed a meal would be welcome.  I am Helluin.  Pray tell me thy name?"

  The boy smiled back at her, bowed again, and said, "I am called Rívelen¹, son of Nentírindo¹¹(Rívelen, Winter Star, = ríve(winter) + elen(star).  Nentírindo, Water Watcher, = nen(water) + tíre-(watch) + -(in)do(masc. agent)  Quenya)

  Helluin nodded to him and asked, "Wherefrom in Númenor doth thou hail?"

  "From Andustar, my Lady," Rívelen answered as Helluin rose from her chair to join him.  "My father is cousin to Elendur¹, the ninth Lord of Andunië." ¹(Elendur, Star Studier(Astronomer), = elen(star) + --ndur(agent in names, expert of)  Quenya)

  Helluin returned her chair to her tent and then moved to stand beside Rívelen. 

  "Well, Rívelen, show me thence to the Officer's Board, and I shalt tell thee that we art in fact kin, though in distant measure," Helluin said.  Beside her the boy was listening to her very closely.  "My youngest granddaughter, Almiel, wed Numandil, grandson of Valandil, first Lord of Andunië, in 778."

  "My Lady, Lord Numandil became third Lord of Andunië in 1031."

  Now it was Helluin's turn to stop and consider another's words.  "I saw Lord Numandil and Lady Almiel last in 992, when my husband Veantur was laid to rest in his tomb.  I knew not that he was his Lord's Heir."

 Rívelen, already amazed by what he had heard and whom he was talking to, tried hard to recall his history.  Their subject dealt with lives lived 700 years before; ancient history in his eyes.

  "'Twas Lord Numandil's uncle who was Heir, but he was lost in the Enedwaith in the service of King Tar-Aldarion, during the building of Lond Daer in 1002.  He was childless, having never married, and so the succession passed to Numandil's father.  Lord Valandil relinquished his lordship in 1007.  But Numandil's father was already aged of years, and held the lordship of Andunië only until 1031 when Numandil succeeded him."

  Helluin nodded her thanks for his information.  Rívelen breathed a sigh of relief that he had presented the information acceptably and smiled.  He was still too awed to do aught else.  The Elven woman looked astonishingly like his mother.

  They walked through the camp attracting many glances and some nods of greeting, and soon came to a large tent from which the fetching scents of many dishes wafted.  Helluin felt her hunger keenly.  Since last eating she had taken part in the slaughter of 16,000 Yrch and run over 30 miles.  It seemed to her a long time since her last dinner.

  Within the tent were many trestle tables and benches, and there sat several score of the officers of the Dúnedain.  Helluin noted that some wore tunics and trousers of black and green, while others wore black and blue.  None were wearing their armor or bearing weapons save the daggers at their belts.  They seemed to mingle without regard for their companies or rank, Helluin noted, now distinguishing silver collar emblems of one or more stars in a row above either the crossed swords of the infantry or the rearing horse of the cavalry.  Her glance also revealed a number of empty seats throughout the tent.

  Helluin raised a questioning eyebrow to Rívelen, and after a moment's confusion he told her, "It matters not where thou sits, my Lady, for Lord Ciryatur shalt make his tidings known to all in an announcement."  He then bowed and excused himself.

  Helluin took the nearest empty seat.  She found that a place was already set, with utensils, a plate and cup, and a lap cloth folded beside them.  Upon the table were a large number of platters bearing much varied fare, flagons of wine and pitchers of ale.  ‘Twas obviously a case of help thyself and so she loaded her plate with a sampling of foods.

  To her right sat an officer of about 35 years in age, with two stars above the infantry emblem of crossed swords upon his collar.  He glanced over at her in passing and then his head snapped back to her and he set down his fork.  With a gulp he swallowed whatever he had been chewing and washed it down with a mouthful of ale ere he spoke.

  "Lady Arindil¹, I am amazed to see thee hither," he exclaimed, "for I knew not that thou had sailed from Andunië.  Yet more amazed am I to see thee girded thus for battle." ¹(Arindil, Lover of the Morning, = arin(morning) + -ndil(agent in names, 'lover of') Quenya)

  At first Helluin didn't even realize that he was speaking to her, but thought rather that he was addressing someone past her down the table.  She only turned to him when he repeated more quietly and with concern, "My Lady Arindil?  Doth thou not recall me?  I am Chwesdrýn¹.  Art thou not well?" ¹(Chwesdrýn, Breeze Chaser, = chwest (breeze) + rýn (chaser) Sindarin)

  Helluin met his eyes while still holding the thighbone of a roasted fowl from which she had just stripped the meat with her teeth.  She peered at him as she chewed, setting aside the bone on her plate, and watching as he became yet more disturbed by what he saw.  She could imagine; like unto one he knows, yet not like, and now he is confused, wondering if his lady is not by some arcane art transformed.  Ere she replied she removed from her mouth and set aside a lump of gristle.  Finally she managed to swallow without choking.  The officer's eyes were already surprisingly large for his face. 

  "Sir, I regret to inform thee that thy Lady Arindil is not present," Helluin said.  "Indeed I know naught of thy lady, nor any lady of that name, I can assure thee."

  She noted renewed and closer scrutiny from the soldiers surrounding them as her words drew the attention of many previously preoccupied with their feeding.  From across the table someone choked on their beverage.

  "But…my Lady, thy own son brought thee hither to table…" he stammered in disbelief.

  "I can assure thee that I hath no son, sir, only a daughter and she long dead.  If thou doth refer to Rívelen, then I attest to thee that our kinship is nowhere near so close."

  Helluin noted that a strange silence had spread all about them, outwards to the adjacent tables like ripples from a stone cast into still waters.  For a distance of perhaps fifteen feet around, none spoke.  After some moments, Helluin became aware of a stifled chuckling from the next table.  She cut her eyes from the man next to her, who was now shocked to silence, and noted an older officer with mirthful eyes, watching them closely.  She cocked her head at him in question and was answered with a smile.  Chwesdrýn looked thither in confusion and then lurched back into speech, taking up again his protest, though this time standing to address the senior officer.

  "My Lord Nentírindo …thy wife…she is not herself."

  "Say rather that I am not her-self and I shalt agree," Helluin said, ere she took up her mug and drank.  The wine was quite good, she judged, while draining her cup and pouring another.  Around her the silence continued.

  Helluin returned to her fare, stripping off the meat from a roasted rib and savoring the flavor.  She drank down her cup of wine and poured another.  Several mouthfuls of sautéed vegetables followed.  More wine.  More meat.  A hunk of bread.  More wine.  Some cheese.  More silence.  Therefore more wine.  More officers staring at her as she ate.  She saw them out of the corners of her eyes.  Finally she slammed down her fork in irritation and stared around her at their faces.  Ever had Helluin disliked being stared at while she ate.  Only the older officer at the next table, very nearly collapsed in his place with hand over face and sides heaving in hysterics, was not gawking in her direction.  She wiped her mouth with her napkin and sighed.

  "I hope that ere this campaign ends thou shalt all hath fully analyzed my eating habits to the point of boredom," she stated, "else I shalt be forced to take my meals in my tent.  Look," Helluin said, holding up her plate, "I hath finished my vegetables and all else I apportioned myself, wasting naught and favoring none.  Is there now dessert, pray tell?"  She looked to those around her for an answer.  After yet more silence she drained her remaining wine and stood to leave.  "I suppose not," she muttered.

  At that same moment, Ciryatur rose from his seat across the tent to begin his announcements.  The circle of silence that had grown around Helluin was absorbed in the hush that expanded from the Lord Admiral's figure.  He swept his demanding glance around the space like a scythe, stilling those in motion, hushing those whispering, and commanding those standing hastily to the nearest seat.  Despite her aggravation with her tablemates' manners, Helluin resumed her seat next to the infantry officer and poured herself another cup of wine.  When all attended him, Ciryatur began to speak.

  "My fellow officers, we art upon the verge of battle, and upon the morrow shalt open our campaign on behalf of the High King of the Eldar.  It hast been reported that to the north art 33,000 foemen, Yrch and Easterling warriors under the dominion of Sauron Gorthaur, seeking to take Lindon.  Yet ere they conquer, they shalt first confront us."

  Helluin noted that Ciryatur projected immense confidence and strength of will.  He spoke in a voice deep and full, serious and commanding, but without condescension. So far his message was partly informational and partly morale boosting.  She suspected that soon enough he would come to outline the generalities of the campaign.

  "This land of Eriador hast for five years been embattled, and just this morn was a great victory achieved.  Indeed, even as the Elven Host withdrew south to meet us, actions by our allies deprived the Enemy of his northern expeditionary force and a third of his troop strength," Ciryatur said, delivering this very favorable news with a great smile.  All around the tent, officers whispered in response and the gathering radiated with optimism.  After allowing the Men their moments of rejoicing, the Admiral continued.  "Many of thee know that the Eldar art not without their kindreds and divisions.  The High King comes of the Noldorin Eldar of Aman.  Cirdan the Shipwright, whose aid was given to our forefathers, is of the Sindarin kindred," Ciryatur paused a moment for effect, then continued.  "Today's great victory was won by the Laiquendi, the descendants of the Green Elves of Eastern Beleriand.  Unlike those we know, they make war with stealth and shoot their enemies from concealment, yet like all other free peoples, they oppose the Enemy and do their part.  Now, just two moons since the plight of the Hither Lands was finally made known to us, it is time for the Men of Westernesse to do their part…"

  A round of cheers and applause momentarily drowned out Ciryatur's rhetoric and he graciously allowed it to continue, smiling at his officers and nodding in agreement.  All Helluin could think was, they hath heard tidings of this war but two moons past?  How could such be possible?  Did not Gil-galad send word well 'nigh five years ago?  But she recalled the delay in sending warnings of Annatar to Ost-On-Edhil, and now she was not without doubt about her king.  Ciryatur held up a hand and the tent quieted.

  "At dawn on the morrow we shalt break camp, and thence we shalt march north to drive Sauron's Host back across the River Lune.  Cavalry shalt lead the charge with infantry behind.  Show them no mercy.  We art to drive them thither and quickly.  The Elven Host is crossing in secret to the south, for their task shalt be to assure that none of the enemy move into Harlindon nor tarry upon the eastern bank, but rather art forced to retreat into Eriador.  We shalt join forces with them to drive Sauron's Host east, to Baranduin, and then beyond."

  Here another great cheer went up from the officers.  The combination of food and drink, the tidings of victory, and the overview of the battle plan had brought the company to a boisterous optimism.  Helluin thought it a good plan, decisively taking advantage of their superior numbers and countering the contingency of a prolonged campaign for clearing the southern coastal lands.  But more than appreciating the plan, Helluin was filled with questions.  The admiral began speaking again and she shifted her attention back to him.

  "By the High King's grace we shalt be accompanied into battle by Helluin Maeg-mormenel, the architect of the northern victory, who is the Avenger of Avernien of whom stories hath long been told.  In days of yore was she a protector and ally of our people, and a foremother of kings."  All about the tent a background of whispering arose, but Ciryatur raised a hand for silence and they quieted quickly.  "Helluin, who hath been long at war in this land, hast joined us to represent the Noldor.  I hold our strength the greater for her aid and look forward to showing forth our prowess before the eyes of the Eldar."  He gestured across the tent for Helluin to stand.

  Helluin stood for a moment and gave the admiral a bow for his laudatory introduction.  She noted the older officer at the next table who had been so mirthful smiling at her ere he winked.  That would be Lord Nentírindo, Helluin recalled, Rívelen’s father.  No doubt his wife, Lady Arindil waits at home, remarkably like unto myself in appearance…huh.  Beside her Chwesdrýn, the younger officer, was blushing scarlet in embarrassment.  She stifled an outburst of laughter, glanced around the tent and then sat back down.  Shortly thereafter the meal finished, surprisingly, with a short thanksgiving to Eru, spoken by Ciryatur as the rest of the Men bowed their heads in silence.

  Afterwards, Helluin approached the admiral and he beckoned her to sit near him, and he poured cups of wine for them and asked her if all was well.

  "Indeed so, Lord Admiral," Helluin said, "thy board is very bountiful, much as I recall the table set aboard Rámaen by thy noble grandsire."  Ciryatur smiled warmly at this.  "I am troubled by a point which, being long afield, hast escaped me."  She looked at the admiral and noted a tilt of his head bidding her to continue.  "I had thought the High King Gil-galad had sent forth a ship to request thy aid in the spring of 1695.  How was it that the tidings of war came to thee but two moons ago?  Was our ship so long delayed somehow?  Was no word indeed sent?  Long hath we in this land hoped for thy coming, and indeed at our hope's end hath thou hath finally come at last."

  The admiral sighed heavily as though much pain came upon him, but he looked fully into Helluin's eyes, withholding nothing, and he answered her with honesty and regret.

  "Indeed it may well be so, that such word was sent early in 1695.  None in Númenor know of such a ship, nor was any word heard from Gil-galad since.  Perhaps that ship and those who sailed upon it met some doom untimely upon the water.  We know not.  As thou may not know, Queen Tar-Telperien laid down her rule and her life in a single year, and that was 1691.  Thereafter, Tar-Minastir took up the scepter and the rule of Númenor.  He is a great supporter of thy people as was his aunt, the queen.  From the first days of his reign did he continue the preparations and arming of our people, for he recalled thy embassy and harkened to thy words.  And this even amidst the upheaval of succession."

  Helluin bowed her head in respect for the late queen, whom she had come to deeply admire.  Still such was to be expected eventually and accounted not for the delay.

  "In late 1694 did fire rage amidst the harbor of Romenna such as hast never been aforetime, and many vessels were destroyed or damaged and few remained seaworthy.  To reconstruction afterwards was our attention given.  It took years to rebuild the ships for our deployment, even working the shipyards at full capacity and in great haste.  Thus none came hither to Lindon in those years, for those that came to the Hither Shores at all sailed in haste to Umbar in the south, or to Enedwaith for timbers, and those lands hath been spared the war," Ciryatur said.  He shook his head sadly and continued.

  "Ships of the Eldar coming to us from the east hath always been rare, indeed far fewer in numbers than those out of Tol Eressea.  We thought nothing amiss in that none came in those years.  'Twas only a short time ago, when our navy was nearly rebuilt, that a ship coming nigh Belfalas met upon the sea with some of King Lenwe's people.  These were fleeing west, leaving the Hither Shores where, they said, war was renewed.  We were shocked!  The crew of our ship made full sails for Romenna and word came thence to Armenelos.  Tar-Minastir was wroth!  Long he berated himself for sending not to Lindon a regular embassy in those years, despite the shortage of ships.  Still he mustered our forces immediately, and ere six weeks had passed from hearing the words of the Nandor, we set sail hither, making the passage in but eight days.  On the third day out I split the armada, commanding half to Lond Dear on a gamble.  In light of thy tidings ‘twas a good wager it seems.  Three hundred and four ships of the King’s Navy sailed, though fewer horses and more Men were decided upon for the best use of our reduced capacity.  In our need, even did we engage o’er 40 privateers of the Guild as transports.  Only can I say that circumstances hath contrived to increase the jeopardy and suffering of thy folk and keep us from thy aid.  Ever were we resolved to come."  

  Helluin could naught but shake her head and nod in appreciation for the efforts the Dúnedain had gone to for the sake of their alliance.  She could imagine Tar-Minastir's anguish as he received the tidings of Belfalas.  For over three generations his people had prepared, yet when the day had come, they were delayed five years.

  "'Tis an ill timed litany of mischance that hath plagued us, Lord Ciryatur," Helluin said, "but what is important is that thou hath come, and that thou hath come in time.  Now, rather than Lindon being o'errun in days, we stand able to defeat and drive out this enemy.  I am thankful for thy presence and the aid of thy nation.  Convey, if possible, my heartfelt thanks to thy king.  Minastir is a good Man and I hath no doubts of his earnest honor of our friendship.  I am proud to fight beside thy Men; indeed it hast been nigh two thousand years since I hath last marched to war with the Edain."

  In Ciryatur's eyes a gleam of pride and amazement shone.  "Since the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, when thou fought beside the brethren Hurin Thalion and Huor of Dor-lomin," he whispered.  And that had been o'er 175 years before the founding of Númenor.  "I cannot tell thee the honor done by thy presence fighting beside us.  'Tis a thing of legend and a tale for our history in days to come."

  They parted that night with much honor, and in the morning they marched to war.

To be continued

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