In An Age Before – Part 34


Chapter Thirty-seven

Númenórë Atalantë – The Second Age of the Sun


Now in S.A. 3002, Eärendur was't recalled to Númenor to take up the lordship of Andunië, and with him across the sea went his party and the Lady Inzilbêth. After delaying so long as she could, she wed the King's Heir, Gimilzôr in 3024 and in 3035 bore to him the first of their children, a son and heir who was't given the name Inziladûn¹. ¹(Inziladûn, "Flower of the West", Adûnaic)

Ar-Gimilzôr came to the throne in 3102 and proved as ardent a blasphemer as had been foreseen. Like his sires he made no offerings to Eru upon the Meneltarma, and during his reign the Hallow atop the sacred mountain lay deserted. In the courtyard before the citadel of Armenelos stood Nimloth, the ancient White Tree of Númenor, and Gimilzôr was't loath to approach this symbol of his peoples' old friendship with the Eldar. Though the king commanded no harm to the tree he ordered no care for it either, ignoring its existence entirely so much as he could. A scant eight years into his reign the use of the Elven tongues was forbidden by law. In his time too was't that land closed to the Eldar. Any who received mariners from Tol Eressëa were punished. Never again would one of the Elder Children of Iluvatar enjoy official welcome in the Land of the Gift.

The twenty-third king knew his wife's heart and his distrust of her and all her people he never disguised. The Lords of Andunië, for all their loyalty to the House of Elros, had long been sympathetic to the Faithful and retained their reverence for the West. Ar-Gimilzôr openly despised the Elendili, and his hatred of the Valar and the Eldar was't most easily expressed through his persecution of them. While he constrained the allegiance of the Faithful as had his father, by taking a high lady of the House of Andunië to wife, he was't yet more suspicious of them than his sire, Ar-Sakalthôr had been. The old saying, keep close thy friends and closer yet thy foes soon led him to decree the forced relocation of all those Elendili known to him, from Andunië in the west to Romenna in the east, the primary port of the King's Men and seat of the King's Navy. There they were settled upon the lands above the great bay, and there they were both shunned and kept under the eyes of the king's spies.

Yet many of those removed thus to Romenna were great amongst the captains of Númenor, for in many of the sons of Andunië still flowed the blood of Elros. A nobility too had that people, steadfast and antiquated, that harkened back to that of the founders of their land, and though fallen from favor, still they commanded a grudging respect from those who did not wholly disregard them.

Long after the Eldar ceased to be welcomed to Númenor, ships of the Faithful sailed to the north of Middle Earth, seeking there the Havens of Mithlond and the court of the high king in Lindon. For long their ships came and went bearing tidings and bearing thither those Men who still desired to learn and converse and feel free to meet with the Eldar. In later years such voyages came to be voyages of self-exile, for once gone to Lindon, by royal decree the Faithful were not allowed to return. Thus it came to pass that many Elendili dwelt in Eriador about the Firth of Lune, while the King's Men sailed ever for the lands south of Umbar.

In Armenelos Lady Inzilbêth kept her faith. For all the long years of her life she was't an inspiration to the Elendili, for in the heart of the enemy she planted a seed of rebellion. In no way did she convert from her beliefs despite the pressure of her husband the king. Decade after decade she resisted him, and while she did her duty as queen, (never undermining his authority by speaking out against him), no part of her heart was't turned in sympathy to his counsels. In many ways she offered succor and support to those of the Faithful she could aid, but her greatest act of dissent grew closer yet to the heart of her enemy, for never had she forgotten the words that Helluin had written to her in Lindon.

Ir ni elu e-choth e-mbandril notulant. Min en elu e-choth e-mbandril turo drammo.

Two sons did Lady Inzilbêth bear to Ar-Gimilzôr. As hast been said, the elder was't named Inziladûn, and as his name reflected that of his mother, so too were the lady's convictions reflected in those of her son. From the first, the Heir of Gimilzôr held in reverence the Valar and the Eldar, and though never could he profess such to his father, he was't in his heart one of the Faithful. When he came to the throne, Númenor would as of old have a king who sought not to defy the Powers in the West and usurp the gifts of the One. He would be the first since Tar-Minastir.

Of other aspects doth history report somewhat on Inziladûn; that he followed his mother in appearance as much as disposition is known, and that he learned aught of ancient lore and wisdom such as led to his reputation as a seer. Indeed none since Tar-Anárion had studied so closely the ancient scrolls in the library of the palace. More dear than this were the accounts of his mother, who had for a time in her youth dwelt in Lindon. These tales he treasured, for in all the days of his life, never did he set foot upon the Hither Shores. Only in his youth ere the ban did he ever meet face to face with any of the Eldar, and this was't upon a few family trips with his mother to Andunië, the ancestral home of her family. There still in those days were wont to come a few ships out of the Lonely Isle, some of the last to venture to the Isle of Kings.

Now in 3044 when Inziladûn was't nine years of age, his mother gave birth to a second son, Gimilkhâd. This son was't like to his father in name and temperament, being proud, willful, and resentful of the West. As the two princes grew to maturity many amongst the King's Men looked to Gimilkhâd for leadership and oft 'twas whispered amongst them that he should hath been king. Yet despite the precedent of usurpation set in the days of Herucalmo, none dared oppose so flagrantly Inziladûn, not even Gimilkhâd, for in the elder prince's eyes was't a flicker of light and wisdom, and ere even his teens passed, all too oft his pronouncements of dooms came true. Though Gimilkhâd opposed his brother such as he might all the days of his life, he was't restrained by that same fear that had given rise to the Númenórean's hatred of the Lords of the West; in him and in all the King's Men lay that fear of death that was't felt not by his elder brother, or his mother in her time.

In mid-3050, when Ar-Gimilzôr learned of the pregnancy of Eärendur's wife, the king sought again the chambers of his own spouse. His hope was't that his queen would bear to him yet a third son, one through whose marriage he could bind a daughter of the Lord of Andunië for another generation. Lady Inzilbêth however produced a daughter, born in 3051, whom she named Almiel, in honor of the youngest granddaughter of Helluin and Veantur, who had married Numandil, grandson of Valandil, the first Lord of Andunië. 'Twas a case of symmetrical irony, for rather than a daughter, Eärendur's wife had given birth to a son in late 3050, whom they had named Númendil.

The Lady Inzilbêth lived 274 years; 67 years longer than her king. Indeed her life was't longer than any royal since Tar-Ardamin who had died in 2899, the last king to take the scepter with a Quenya name. It was't long enough for her to enjoy many peaceful years after her detested husband fell into senility; long enough to witness the ascension of her son to the throne in 3177, and even long enough to see the birth of her two great-great-grandsons, Isildur and Anárion. It was't also long enough to see the death of her younger son Gimilkhâd. Mercifully, it was't not long enough to see the death of her elder son, Tar-Palantír, the 23rd king. And the Lady was't spared knowledge of the usurpation of the throne by Pharazôn son of Gimilkhâd and the forced matrimony of her grand-daughter, Tar-Míriel.

When Inzilbêth felt her age come upon her, she gave up her life in S.A. 3244. With her dying vision she beheld again the face of her distant foremother as she had seen it on an afternoon in Gil-galad's garden in Lindon in her youth. Then into that everlasting blue she looked and saw there again the Light Undying, and into it she willingly let herself fall. As her spirit fled Arda and her last breath escaped her lips, they curled into a grin.

Now the rule of Tar-Palantír, The Farsighted, ran from 3177 to 3255 and during his reign much more freedom from persecution did the Elendili enjoy. In Armenelos the White Tree was't tended and at the customary three times of the year did the king present offerings to Eru at the Hallow upon the summit of the Meneltarma. In his later years especially, much time did he spend in the western province of Andustar in the company of his closest counselor, his brother-in-law, Numandil, the 17th Lord of Andunië. Oft would he climb the ancient Tower of Minastir upon Ormet, and there gaze with longing into the West, hoping to see some sail borne upon a ship out of Tol Eressëa, and to meet again as he had in his youth with mariners of the Eldar. Yet none came to Númenor in those years, nor would again, save one that would come to Amandil in the early days of the reign of Ar-Pharazôn.

Despite the repentance of Tar-Palantír, the greater part of the Númenóreans followed the King's Men and in their hearts were little changed from aforetime in the reign of Ar-Gimilzôr. When Gimilkhâd died in 3243, the leadership of the King's Men came to his son, Pharazôn, a mighty captain of ships and the campaigns of conquest in the Hither Lands. Many allies he bought with wealth plundered from the southern fiefs in Middle Earth, and these he added to those allies who already clove to him. Ere the death of Tar-Palantír he was't mighty amongst the Númenóreans, and yet he sought ever after even greater power.

In those annals passed down from Númenor 'tis recorded that Tar-Palantír had but one child, a daughter Míriel, born in 3117. Upon Tar-Palantír's death the masses supported Pharazôn and he was ripe with desire for the scepter. Thence, though the law forbade it, he wed his first cousin Míriel and seized the throne. And under his rule were the greatest of blasphemies committed and the honor and nobility of Númenor was't destroyed. Ar-Pharazôn was't the twenty-fifth and last king of Númenor, and in his greed and fear he was't caught by one yet more evil still, and with him fell his people, his power, and his very land.

Now Ar-Pharazôn usurped the throne in S.A. 3255, and at first he was't content with the long held obsessions of his forefathers; the unending search for yet more wealth and ever greater power. But he had left many loyal Men upon the Hither Shores, for many were the cities and subjugated realms of the Númenóreans in those days. He himself had in days of yore been their commander ere he returned home upon the death of his father in 3243, and much intelligence and many tidings and the words of many spies came to his ears in Armenelos.

In the dozen years of his absence had Sauron recommitted himself to the destruction of the Dúnedain, for his hatred was't given to them for their part in the war, and though 1,550 years had passed since his defeat, avenging himself upon the mariners from across the sea was't still foremost in his mind. Therefore he came against Umbar and those other places further south, sending against the Númenóreans many Men out of the East who had worshipped him since he had vacated Mordor in the days of Tar-Calmacil.

Oft to Sauron's ears o'er the years since his defeat had come tales of the increasing grandeur of the Men of Númenor, and Gorthaur despised them all the more, and yet he understood them more fully than they understood themselves, for none craved power with a greater desire than the fallen Maia. Therefore he goaded them and enflamed their pride, fearing not their hate, for none wallowed in hatred as did he. And thus as a challenge and a taunt to the king who would extend his influence o'er all mortal lands and all the Men within them, Sauron publicized himself with the title Hír Edain¹. Indeed he chose the word edain for its special application to Men of the Three Houses of the Elf Friends of old, rather than using the more generic word firionin, which signified all mortal Men. ¹(Hír Edain, Lord of Men, =hir(lord) + edain(Men pl.), (gen. const., of) Sindarin).

When Ar-Pharazôn heard tell of this he was't wroth, and so well indeed did Sauron know the king's mind that he was't goaded to war. Long he brooded and he command the forging of arms, the building of ships, and the marshalling of Men for battle, for he determined in his pride to visit upon Sauron not only defeat, but servitude as well.

Pharazôn persuaded himself that one day his triumph would include the subjugation of the great Enemy of his forefathers, for by dominating him and calling him vassal, he would outshine all those who had ever ruled o'er the Isle of Kings. To him alone would Sauron be compelled to swear fealty, yea, even upon his knees, for in an Age before, Sauron's master, Morgoth Bauglir, had pled for mercy and awaited his judgment thus before the throne of Manwe. No act would so aggrandize his own rule than the like compelling of his Age's evil before his own throne. Thereby would Pharazôn elevate himself into the company of the Elder King whom he so envied.

Now the armament of the Dúnedain proceeded, and in 3261 the king deemed his strength sufficient and his might supreme. Thence he himself took ship and his armada sailed from Romenna, darkening the waves and stealing the wind for their sails. In 1700 the Navy commanded by Ciryatur had numbered 344 vessels and upon them had come 100,000 to wage war. Pharazôn's flagship sailed at the head of o'er 900 warships, and to Middle Earth marched an army of almost 225,000.

Never since the days of the War of Wrath had so great a force landed upon the Mortal Shores. So numerous were their sails that watchers espied them long ere they came to haven in the Bay of Umbar. All who saw the might of the Númenóreans fled their rumor and the lands of Haradwaith lay silent and deserted when Pharazôn landed. Even the spies of Mordor quaked in terror at the might of their enemies from across the sea and would not remain at their posts, but rather fled back to the Black Land bearing tales of doom to their master. Sauron was't amazed, but standing in his tower of Barad-dûr he chuckled and dismissed them. A finger he stroked 'round the cold band of gold as he took it from his hand while he whispered words of a fell sorcery and it vanished from mortal sight. And then he waited.

In that time, Umbar was't the greatest haven upon Mortal Shores. There had been built quays and docks with a total measure of o'er thirty miles in length. But so numerous was't the flotilla of Pharazôn that despite their haste, still it took three days to offload all the Men and material brought from Númenor. The great bay was't black with the hulls of their ships and the city was't filled to o'erflowing with their numbers. A camp was't set beyond the walls of Umbar and it spread o'er sixteen square miles, within a palisade four miles to a side. But finally the army was't landed and its support organized and Ar-Pharazôn was't ready to march upon Mordor.

Now as hast been elsewhere told, the vanguard of the Númenóreans marched for seven days, and this was't the foremost of the cavalry, numbering 35,000 knights. Like a river of sparkling diamonds did their column flow across that land with Anor's brilliance reflected off their polished mail and plate. Long lances they bore, tipped with bitter steel, and many were the banners of gold 'neath which they rode, for they had forsaken their old heraldry of the White Tree upon a field of blue 'neath a rayed star. Upon every hour as they rode the heralds proclaimed the coming of Ar-Pharazôn, Héru Atanion¹.¹(Héru Atanion, Lord of Men, = héru(lord) + atan(man) + -ion(pl gen suff, of), Quenya. Note that this title would have been announced in the Adûnaic tongue had it been intended for mortal ears, for by this time the use of the Elven tongues was forbidden by law. But Ar-Pharazôn's purpose was to usurp the title Sauron had taken for himself, and he did so using the High Elven tongue traditional in his own country and most hated by Gorthaur.)

Behind the vanguard came the remainder of the armies on horse and foot, marshaled into three hosts of o'er 60,000 apiece. The lands trembled neath their hooves and boots and the clouds of dust they raised choked the light of the sun. The vanguard, wherein Ar-Pharazôn rode with his bodyguard of 5,000 traveled 'nigh on 350 miles northeast ere they stopped. They were then about 50 miles north of the River Harnen that flows from the southern arm of the Ephel Duath, down from the Nargil Pass, and they were still perhaps 100 miles from the Black Land.

Then Ar-Pharazôn commanded a camp be made, and upon the tallest hill his pavilion was't raised, and within it was't set his throne. 'Twas another full day ere all the companies arrived and pitched their tents, gold for the retainers of the royal house, blue for the cavalry, and white for the infantry.

Each dawn, and at every hour thereafter until nightfall, a fanfare was't blown upon a thousand trumpets, and thence the heralds proclaimed the command of Ar-Pharazôn the Golden, that Sauron should come before him forthwith to swear fealty to the king.

Now all this Sauron had seen, and in his Black Tower all was't revealed to his sight. But Sauron was't astonished at the majesty to which Pharazôn had ascended and the might to which the Númenóreans had attained. All about him his servants quailed in fear, and the armies of the Rhûnwaith were cowed by the rumor of the Dúnedain. Therefore Sauron left his land, committing its rule in his absence to his Úlairi, and he came alone before the king. And there he saw a Man besotted by his power, rampant in his need of compensatory grandeur, and terrified of death. Here indeed was't a Man he could use.

Before the throne of Ar-Pharazôn, Sauron the Maia bent his knee, and humbling himself he did the King of Númenor honor, subjugating his sovereignty and pledging his service. But Pharazôn mistrusted the honeyed tongue of the beautiful and ageless youth who stood before him in his chromed armor, and deeper still he desired to refresh each day of his life with the knowledge that he alone of all mortal Men had commanded the allegiance of one undying. Therefore he demanded that Sauron become hostage for his own conduct, and though Gorthaur protested this with feigned displeasure, at last he acceded to the demands of the king. Then in the depths of his heart Sauron chuckled as he had aforetime, for all the easier now would be his vengeance upon the Dúnedain.

In 3262 the armada returned to the Isle of Gift, and upon the flagship rode Sauron Gorthaur as a hostage, yet already he had gained somewhat the ear of the king. For Ar-Pharazôn, ever craving after power, found that he was't drawn inexorably to the fallen Maia, one undying who in Ages past had accompanied the most powerful upon Arda. In this the One Ring had no small part, insinuating from afar the desire for Gorthaur's company into the heart and mind of the Lord of Númenor.

In Armenelos the influence of the hostage grew ever the greater, and as the years passed Sauron became first a counselor and then chief counselor to the king. This he achieved within only three years, for he built lie upon lie and sweetened all his words with flattery. To all this was't Ar-Pharazôn susceptible, for in his own mind he deserved all praise that might be spoken and 'naught was't too high that it could not be believed. At court the Men supplanted by Sauron in their king's favor curried the favor of the hostage and sought his grace, thus to retain their influence. Alone amongst all the king's advisors, only Amandil, the eighteenth Lord of Andunië, abhorred the blasphemies and inequities Sauron spoke, and he alone kept true his counsels to his liege. For this he fell from favor and was't dismissed from court.

Not long after the arrival of Sauron Gorthaur did Amandil withdraw from Armenelos to Romenna, and with him went his son Elendil, and his grandsons, Isildur and Anárion. Though 'twas known that their sympathies lay with the Faithful, Amandil had been since childhood a dear friend of Pharazôn's, and both Amandil and Elendil were in their own right, great captains of ships. Therefore, though they no longer held the favor of their lord, they had much respect amongst the people, and none assailed them nor sought their persecution.

In short order did Pharazôn come to depend upon the wisdom of his hostage, but all that Sauron spoke was't seeded with lies. And Pharazôn succumbed as the years passed, and he came to worship the Darkness and its lord, Melkor, and he raised in Armenelos a great temple to the Vala who was't the Great Enemy of the world. Therein were sacrificed many Men, some brought as prisoners from the Hither Lands, but more taken from amongst the Faithful, besmirched upon false charges for the sake of purging the land of dissent. Yet ere the smoke of Men wrongly slain rose to the heavens, the first fires were kindled with the hewn wood of Nimloth, the White Tree of Númenor.

Now as hast been told in many accounts, when 'twas known that the Tree would be felled, Isildur son of Elendil acted where none other dared. In secret he slipped into Armenelos and he came upon an autumn night to the Citadel of Elros, yea even unto the court where aforetime Helluin had stood and laid her hands upon Nimloth o'er 2,600 years before. Long had the Tree been untended, yet upon that night it bore a fruit upon a white limb, and this Isildur took and fled. But not cleanly did he escape for an alarm was't sounded and he was't forced to defend himself with his sword, and he took there many wounds. Yet at last his flight was't achieved and he came thither to Romenna with the fruit of Nimloth, and this he gave into the hands of his grandfather. There was't the fruit blessed by the Lord of Andunië, and Amandil planted it, and it sent forth a shoot in the spring as Isildur recuperated, though the infirmity of his wounds lingered until the first leaf opened.

The years passed in a fruitless and evil quest for escape from death, and ever the most desperate in this quest was't Ar-Pharazôn the king. As his 200th year approached he felt his age come upon him, and he had not forgotten that his own father Gimilkhâd had lived not quite 200 years. Therefore all the greater did his fear become and all the more pliant was't he to the suggestions of Sauron. And now Sauron whispered constantly in his ear, tempting him and at the same time taunting him, for he said that 'twas the grace of the Undying Lands that conferred immortal life and this was't withheld from Men by the Valar who had lied to his kindred about this matter just as they had lied aforetime about the supremacy of Eru. And yet 'twas for a great king such as he to take that which he desired, and none upon Middle Earth were so great as Ar-Pharazôn the Golden, and none more deserving.

Then Pharazôn, being thoroughly persuaded by his fear and Sauron's tongue, acted upon the delusions gifted him by the fallen Maia, for he had as ever heard that which he desired to hear. Thus in 3310 did he again commence an armament, and if his navies and armies had been grand aforetime, now they grew beyond all reckoning. O'er 900 vessels had he brought to Umbar in 3261; within nine years well 'nigh 1,500 warships had been made ready. Indeed they were so many that the Bay of Romenna had not the room to contain them and soon the port of Eldalondë and the Bay of Eldanna and the Bay of Andunië were filled. And though Pharazôn for long spoke not of his purpose, such a mustering of Men and such a deployment of ships upon the western coast of Númenor hinted at naught but an invasion, and the only prize lying to the west was't Valinor.

Amandil was't horrified, for he went in secret to his ancestral homeland of Andunië, and there from the Tower of Minastir upon Ormet he beheld the armada of his king. Then he knew the days of Men were indeed numbered, for if turned not from his folly, his old friend Pharazôn would chance a thing not even the most forgiving of the gods would countenance. Amandil fled back to Romenna praying for the death of his childhood friend and knowing that hope was't in vain, for a great doom long appointed lurked ever nearer with each passing day.

Now when Amandil came again to Romenna he called his son Elendil to him and he counseled him to heed his words concerning the coming days. Heavy was't his heart for he loved his king and his land, but more, he loved his family and the Lords of the West.

"I commit now unto thee the Lordship of Andunië, my son," Amandil said, "for upon myself do I take a take an embassy in faith and hope. Dark grow the days and dark shalt be the doom of Men, for Sauron hast poisoned the mind of the king with his lies and led him to folly. Ar-Pharazôn seeks after the phantoms of his hopes, and driven by his fear of death would seek to wrest the grace of Life Undying from the Valar with war. My heart tells me that he is doomed to fail, for what Man may impose his will upon the will of those who created him? Yet perhaps some grace may still be obtained for Men, and thus seeking the mercy of the Valar shalt I go into the West, even as did our forefather Earendil long aforetime."

"Then with thy deed thou woulds't betray thy king?" Elendil asked. "Long hath the King's Men charged us as spies and worse, yet ever hath their words been untrue. With thy act would thou give credence to the falsehoods that brought many Faithful to their deaths upon the Melkor's altar in Sauron's temple."

"Nay, my son, for no word from the lips of Men doth Manwe need for his knowledge of what goes forth. He sees all and even now his Eagles circle the Meneltarma where no king hath gone in many long years. Nay, I go not to betray the counsels of our king, but to beseech the Elder King for aid in dismissing Sauron and perhaps even to turn thither again to the Lords of the West the hearts of the kings. My loyalty to my king must, as in the hearts of all who would be true, be subservient to that loyalty which was't ordained by the One, before Arda and the Children of Arda ever were."

"What then, father, shalt become of those few of the Faithful who remain? Surely the persecution of them shalt be great when thy deed is known."

"For this reason must it not become known," Amandil said, "and to conceal my purpose shalt I sail first east as if to Lindon. In these times none shalt hinder my sailing; indeed most shalt rejoice to be rid of me. Then if the winds of Belegaer be with me, I shalt turn about and sail into the West. Yet thou should not feel certainty for the success of my errand, and even were I to come to Aman, none may harken to my plea for the sins of our people art great.

Take no part in the deeds of the coming days, for in doing such would thou also be damned. But when I am gone, prepare thou ships of flight, and upon them take thy family and those Elendili who would join thee, and also such treasures as thou would be loath to leave behind, and then stand off out of port to the east. Go not to the west lest thou be conscripted to join the armada, but rather remain in the Bay of Romenna, and if any ask thy intent, say that thou woulds't follow thy father and sail to the east."

"Yet thou shalt hath gone into the West, my father," Elendil protested, "and what then shalt I seek to the east?"

"That I cannot say, my son, for I may succeed of my errand or I may fail, and of either outcome, perhaps no sign shalt declare. Yet in my heart I feel a great doom approaches and all shalt be swept away, for this land is corrupt and the hearts of Men art heavy with sacrilege. Therefore thou shalt flee some restitution of the Valar, I deem, seeking a haven and a place of exile, but where thou shalt find it, or even if thou shalt find it, I cannot say, yet I bid thee, do these things, and let guide thy heart the same hope and faith as guides mine."

Then Amandil took a small ship, scarce more than a cutter that could be manned by few hands, and with three favored servants he sailed from Romenna and was't never heard from again. And if indeed he died upon the sea or came yet to Aman and there succumbed to the Ban of the Valar, in either case did he die with his heart unsullied and he suffered not that which was't to come.

In that time Elendil heeded his father's counsel, and he gathered such of the Faithful as remained, and with his family prepared ships upon which to flee such doom as might come. Under his command were four ships, and under his elder son Isildur three, and under Anárion two. Upon them were stowed away such families as called Elendil the last Lord of Andunië, for in the absence of his father the lordship passed to him. Yet he took not that title, refusing to believe that Amandil was't lost.

Along with his people, great treasures were loaded aboard ship; many scrolls of lore and wisdom, rich works of the cunning craft of Númenor, ancient heirlooms such as the Ring of Barahir, the Elendilmir, the Rodof Office of the Lord of Andunië¹, Elendil's sword Narsil, wrought by Telchar of Nogrod in the First Age, and many gifts from the Eldar to the Lords of Andunië. Amongst these were the Seven Seeing Stones, the Palantíri. But of all the treasures esteemed by the Faithful, none was't more highly valued than the seedling of Nimloth, the last living thing to come from Eldamar, and of all living things brought hence out of the Blessed Isle, ever had it held a place of honor. ¹(The Elendilmir, or Star of Elendil was described as a white gem bound in a silver circlet that later served as the Crown of Arnor. The Rod of Andunië was a silver rod, a token of office passed to Elendil by his father Amandil ere he sailed west, which was later known as the Scepter of Annúminas and became the chief symbol of the kingship of Arnor. LoTR, App A, footnote, pgs 1018-9)

At last when all was't in readiness, Elendil journeyed in secret from Romenna, and following in the footsteps of his father, came at last to Andunië and the Tower of Minastir. There he ascended, hoping to see some sign that Amandil had indeed succeeded and come into the West, but no sign was't given and no sail came up out of the sunset. Elendil's keen eyes could discern naught but the armada of Ar-Pharazôn; ships gathered innumerable 'nigh the western coasts, their hulls stretching off beyond the Bay of Andunië and into the south towards Eldalondë. Elendil marked that the banners upon them were now of black and gold; black for Sauron and gold for the king. Then, knowing time was't indeed short and his presence might easily be discovered, he turned in sorrow and made his way back to Romenna amidst pelting rain and sleet.

Now it hast been written elsewhere that as the days drew on to the sailing of Ar-Pharazôn's armada, the weather of Númenor, which had aforetime been ever fair, fell to gales out of season and destructive storms that slew Men with their lightning and winds. In those days were ships lost upon the sea as had not been aforetime, while upon the land, crops failed and discomfort became more common. With the coming of the year 3319, forms took shape in the clouds, and this was't most common ere sunset, when out of the western sky flew great thunderheads like in shape to the Eagles of Manwe. Vast they were and threatening, crowned in darkness, ominously advancing to cover the sky, and bearing lightning in their talons. Seeing this, the Faithful cowered, taking it for a sign from the Valar and an omen of doom.

All these portents Sauron defied, and even did he defy the lightning that smote his temple, and greatly did his display of fearlessness hearten the King's Men and embolden the king. Upon the first day of spring, when in days of old the king would hath ascended the Meneltarma to offer the prayers of Erukyermë¹, the very ground commenced to shaking and a rumble was't heard throughout the lands. The earth groaned in protest of the sacrileges done upon it and smoke billowed from the ancient Hallow as though Manwe had withdrawn his sight in disgust. With Sauron counseling defiance in the face of this craven bullying by the Valar, Ar-Pharazôn turned his back upon the signs and finalized his plans for war. ¹(Erukyermë, the first of three yearly holidays traditional in Númenor, its purpose was to beseech the favor of Eru during the coming year. UT, Pt 2, Ch I, AdoN, pg 166).

Upon the twelfth day of Lothron, (May), did the fleet set sail into the west, and upon Belegaer did they make their way, but no wind aided them in that hour, yet many slaves rowed the ships to the beat of drums and the lash of whips. Then night fell after a sunset red as blood, and a wind grew to hasten them upon their blasphemy.

Now of that sailing no more was't known upon the Hither Shores, but only the effects afterwards that were felt. Yet in later days, what with the passing of some few east to the Mortal Lands, these things became known in the lore of Men and Elves.

The armada covered the sea and its hulls were like a continent, and in that time did they passed the Sea of Shadows and the Isles of Enchantment that had been set there at the beginning of the Second Age. For thirty-nine days they sailed. The ships of Ar-Pharazôn came to Tol Eressëa and passed it by, and they made their course for Valinor and the Pass of the Calacirya. Then, though tales say that the king hesitated for a time at his landing, in the end his pride allowed him not to falter. Ar-Pharazôn debarked and his host followed, and he claimed the Undying Lands as his own and his soldiers occupied the country about Tirion. In the unnatural and pervasive stillness he waited, and doom pressed in about him like a stifling blanket of night, but unlike his coming aforetime to Umbar, here none answered his challenge. All of the Eldar had fled inland and upon that day the gods were silent.

Now lore tells that Manwe and the Valar set aside for a time their rule o'er Arda, calling upon the One for His judgment. And in answer, Iluvatar changed the form of Ea for his wrath was great. By His hand was't a rift cloven, and it yawned amidst the Sundering Sea, and this cleft lay 'neath the waves, betwixt the Undying Lands and 'nigh the western coast of the Isle of Kings. Into this abyss was't sucked all the waters east and west, and their flow carried away the armada of Ar-Pharazôn, destroying it utterly, even to the last timber and spar. About Tirion there came a thundering fall of rocks, an avalanche from the towering walls of the Pelori, and 'neath its tonnage was't the army of the king buried to the last Man.

In the upheaval the island of Númenor was't riven to its foundations, and the bedrock of the Meneltarma foundered, and ruin came indeed to that land. The abyss swallowed all the Land of the Star, and with its fall came a wave higher than the tallest tower, and as the land fell away the water rode up to swallow it. Gone were the fair country of Nisimaldar and the proud Tower of Elros; gone too was't the Meneltarma, sunken to its summit, and with it the queen, Tar-Míriel who had fled thither too late. All the nobility and beauty that had been of old the heritage of the Atani perished with the Land of the Gift, for the gift of the Valar had been squandered through fear and pride, and what little of its wisdom came to the Hither Shores came with those few refugees who made their brokenhearted landfall after many wearisome days of desperate sailing.

From the wreck of Númenor came nine ships only, and upon them rode Elendil and Isildur and Anárion and their folk. These were the Faithful who had taken ship at the counsel of Amandil and had awaited their doom in the Bay of Romenna. They had refused the call of the king to his muster, and after his sailing, they had avoided the soldiers who came to seize them for sacrifices at Sauron's command. There too they were spared the tide of falling water that drew the armada to its destruction, and there too were they sheltered from the great wave that o'erwhelmed their land. But with that wave came a howling wind, stronger than any gale, and it drove their ships east with great damage, and long did they wander upon the sea.

Now that wave carried on unchecked, and as a racing swell it passed o'er Belegaer, but when it found the coasts of Middle Earth, then the shallows concentrated it and it rose again to a great height and wrecked destruction upon the shores. Many upon the coasts of Middle Earth felt the rumor of the wrath of Eru; ships, havens, and seaside settlements were lost. 'Twas felt in Belfalas and Lebennin, in Umbar and in the lands to the south. But Lindon, well up the Firth of Lune, and Mithlond at its head were spared, and to them came tidings by other means, for to Lindon, sorrowful and tired and careworn, came at last the four ships of Elendil. The tidings of the destruction of Númenor came also to the haven of the Faithful upon Anduin, for eventually to Pelargir came Isildur and Anárion.

But other changes did Eru make, and these greater still than those that became known as the Whelming of Númenor, though that tale survived in the myths of many lands and many people spoke long afterwards of the lost land of Atlantis¹. For in that time did Eru altar Arda forever, even more so than had been done when Beleriand was't sunk. All the Undying Lands did he take from the realm of Ea and they were hidden from mortal sight, and thereafter none might find the way hence save those of the Elder Children who had the grace of the Valar to sail the Straight Road thither. By his hand was't the world made round, and afterwards all roads curved back upon themselves and no Straight Road into the ancient West still opened from the world of Men. Yet it had an entrance still, and though hidden, might still be found with the straight sight of the Eldar or more rarely through the mischance of some hapless mortal mariner. And though no tale tells of it, when Aman was't wrenched from the world and Arda was't bent, those who had in their hearts still a piece of their ancient home felt keenly their estrangement from it. All those few of the true Calaquendi remaining in Middle Earth were stricken in that hour with the agony of loss, and the more their fëar had encompassed the Light of the Undying Land, the more strongly did they feel their severance from it. 'Twas as if a comforting and familiar presence had been torn from them. ¹(Atlantis, Westron for the Quenya Atalantë and the Adûnaic Akallabêth, the Downfallen)

Upon the Re i Anaro of S.A. 3319, in the land of Eriador beside the River Baranduin, Helluin cried out in anguish and collapsed where she stood, her hands clutching at her heart and her face frozen in a grimace of pain. Beinvír leapt to her side but could discover no cause for her affliction and no word could she coax from her beloved's lips. Helluin was't paralyzed and catatonic and she remained thus until nightfall. When at last her paralysis released her she curled into a fetal ball, groaning in heartfelt loss as tears streamed down her cheeks.

"Vanwas," she whispered at last, "I Cala Ambarwa vanwa.¹" ¹(Vanwas. I Cala Ambarwa vanwa. It is gone. The Light of the world (Earth) is gone. =Vanwa(gone) + -s(subj pron suff, it). I(def art, the)+ cala(light) + Ambar (Earth) + -wa(assoc, of) + vanwa(gone). Quenya)

"What do you mean, 'the Light of the world is gone'?" Beinvír asked in horror. She stared around into the darkness of the surrounding forest. It all looked dark to her.

"Valinor...'tis gone...I...I cannot feel it anymore." Helluin shuddered. "Something horrible hast happened, meldanya...something terrible ...."


To Be Continued


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