In An Age Before – Part 57

Chapter Fifty-two

A Journey to Gondor – The Third Age of the Sun

  Now after Beinvír’s wound was’t healed, the two ellith chose to return to Eriador, and thither they roamed in peace for many a year.  In T.A. 130 a messenger from Imladris sought them and reported the birth of twin sons to Lord Elrond and Lady Celebrian, naming them Elladan and Elrohir.  Helluin and Beinvír rejoiced for their friends in the Hidden Valley and sent gifts with the returning messenger.

  From wandering companies of Sindar who had contact with Men they learnt of the successions in the southern kingdom of the Dúnedain.  After ruling for 156 years, their old friend Meneldil passed on the crown of Gondor to his son Cemendur, and he ruled for but 80 years ere his son Eärendil took the throne in 238.  He was’t followed by Anardil in 324 and Ostoher in 411.  In the northern kingdom, Valandil son of Isildur ruled for 239 years, ere his son Eldacar succeeded him in T.A. 249.  Thereafter the lifespan of the kings in the north shortened as it had in the south.  Eldacar passed on the Scepter of Annúminas to his son Arantar in 339.  He was’t followed by Tarcil in 435.  During all those years both realms enjoyed peace and growing prosperity.

  Also during those years one further tiding of great joy came to Helluin and Beinvír.  In T.A. 241 the same messenger came again from Imladris announcing the birth of a daughter to his lord and lady.  This child the couple had named Arwen.

  From the moment of her birth Arwen had been deemed a great beauty and had stolen the hearts of all who met her.  Indeed the visiting Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel had been well ‘nigh the first to fall ‘neath her spell, doting upon the babe like exemplary and devoted grandparents.  The sight of the distinguished Lord Celeborn cooing and prattling for Arwen’s amusement while’st his wife, the reserved Lady Galadriel, blew raspberries upon her soft cheeks, had been a sight deemed ‘historical’ in Imladris.  The messenger chortled with mirth as he described many such scenes.  The two ellith rejoiced in his tales and sent him forth upon his return with blessings and gifts for the babe.

  “Said I not aforetime that ‘…they shalt soon hath beautiful children’,” Beinvír reminded her lover after the messenger had departed.  Helluin grinned at the memory.

  “And said I not aforetime of Celeborn and Galadriel that ‘I am sure thou shalt both make wonderful babysitters’?” Helluin asked as she chuckled at the messenger’s stories.

  For a time life was’t good and few concerns of the outside world contrived to upset the peace of Helluin and Beinvír, yet such peace could not remain unsullied upon the Hither Shores.  In late 490 word passed amongst the Elves of Eriador reporting battle in the southern kingdom of the Dúnedain.

  ‘Twas said that kingdoms of the Easterlings, Wild Men from tribes living ‘nigh the Sea of Rhûn had confederated, and some of these had at last crossed Anduin and assailed Gondor.  For many centuries these barbarians had waged wars amongst themselves, involving their chiefdoms not in the affairs of the west.  Yet of late had some sought common cause against their ancient foes ‘cross the great river, for some tales were still remembered amongst those peoples telling of their slaughter in Eriador while’st in the service of Sauron, their o’erlord and god.  Thither they had directed the strength and hatred of their new-formed unions, while’st seeking new lands of their own far from their war-ravaged homes, and they came thence against the east marches of Calenardhon.

  Under the command of the King’s Heir Tarostar, the eastern division of Gondor’s army repelled them, driving them finally in a bloody rout before the cavalry.  Many an Easterling perished in the River Anduin and the embittered survivors swore vengeance.

  Two years later, Tarostar took the name Rómendacil, which signified East Victor, when he was’t crowned eighth King of Gondor, and he made strong the eastern borders of his land.  In that time too did he seek friendship with the Men of Rhovanion, the North Men who lived about the River Celduin.  To these, Tarostar, (and later his son Turambar also), gave fiefs in those lands they won east of Anduin, to be held in allegiance with the kings.

  In T.A. 500 the new king won yet another decisive victory and handed the Easterlings a stinging defeat.  ‘Twas folly for them to continue their campaign against the southern kingdom, and yet they were deemed fey in their hatred of the Dúnedain.  Though repelled and worsted in each battle, they came again and again, and some amongst the Wise soon  believed that they were subject to some dark agitation in their own lands; some fell power that encouraged them and drove them forth as if with madness.  As the years passed the incursion of the Easterling tribes was’t oft repeated.  Now added to their grievances of old was’t the vengeance sworn after their defeats at the hands of the king.  In 541 the wars finally claimed the life of the king when Rómendacil I fell in combat.

  Upon the king’s death his son took the crown of the south with the name Turambar, ninth King of Gondor, and he crossed Anduin with an army of 75,000.  Thither he took the fight to the Easterlings, routing them and slaughtering them in every place he found them, and great was’t the count of their losses.  Then in the interest of the increased security of his realm, Turambar annexed a swath of land east of Anduin, to be held by his North Men allies as a buffer against incursions from the East.  Thither too he posted companies of swift cavalry, and he gave their captains free rein to seek and destroy any such enemies of the crown as they were wont to discover.  Thereafter Gondor enjoyed a guarded peace for a time.

  In the north, Tarcil was’t succeeded in T.A. 515 by Tarondor, and he in T.A. 602 by Valandur.  Now in 652 King Valandur was’t reported slain, though the cause was’t not known by the Eldar of Eriador.  Still, he was’t succeeded by his son, Elendur, who ruled as the ninth King of Arnor, until T.A. 777.  Thereafter he was’t succeeded by his son, Eärendur, the tenth King of Arnor and the last High King of the Dúnedain in that time.

  Now Eärendur had three sons and there was’t great dissension amongst them.  For many centuries the realm of Arnor had been ruled only with difficulty from Annúminas, for ‘twas a broad land of several characters and the Dúnedain were spread thinly ‘cross it.  Never had their great numbers lost in the War of the Last Alliance been recovered.  Therefore the princes of the House of Isildur contested and disputed, and when Eärendur handed o’er his scepter in 867, he divided his kingdom into three lesser realms, Arthedain, Rhudaur, and Cardolan.  Thence the aging king committed the rule of one realm to each of his sons.  Thus the high kingdom of Arnor was’t no more, and with it went the claim of its regent to the High Kingship of the Dúnedain.

  Predictably this arrangement satisfied none.  Though supposedly coequal, the Kingdom of Arthedain encompassed the northwestern heartland of what had been Arnor.  Thither lay both Annúminas and Fornost Erain, each with its palantír, and thither also was’t the border with Mithlond and the Elven lands of Lindon.  ‘Twixt Rhudaur and Cardolan lay the Weather Hills and Amon Sûl, and though in his wisdom King Eärendur had intended that two sons share this tower and the chief palantír of the north which was’t housed thither, ‘twas not in their nature to share ‘aught.  The possession of the Tower of the Wind was’t contested by Rhudaur and Cardolan, and resentment was’t felt ‘twixt both kingdoms and Arthedain, their more favored sister realm to the west.  Thus the confederacy of the Dúnedain in the north kingdom fell prey to disharmony, and in latter days this estrangement contributed greatly to their fall.  In the end only the palantír of Elostirion, standing in its shapely tower upon the White Downs, was’t preserved, but that tower and the land upon which it stood had been deemed a precinct of the Elven lands of Lindon since of old, and so no Man dared lay claim to it.

  Now in those days Helluin, (ever suspicious since the fall of Isildur and the loss of Sauron’s Ring), perceived the first actions of the Great Enemy.  In the assaults of the Easterlings in the south and the disunity of the Dúnedain in the north, she sensed the return of Sauron’s influence.  Whether through pugnacious proxies or the ill-will of familial contention, his immaterial spirit had indeed struck against his old foes, the Men of Westernesse.  By such wiles he had slain a king in Gondor and broken the solidarity of the realm of Arnor.  Perhaps too his influence had led to the fall of King Valandur in the north.  O’er these things, Helluin brooded, deeming the days numbered ere Sauron or his servants came again openly against Men and Elves and Dwarves.

  “I wager the evil of old arises anew, meldis meldwain nin,” Helluin remarked to Beinvír o’er supper at their campfire ‘nigh Tharbad one night, “and sooner than we would wish it, war shalt be visited upon us again as well.”

  “I hath marked thy disquiet for many years now, meldanya,” the Green Elf admitted.  “Much as I am loath to believe thus, I must agree.  I too perceive a fell influence upon events and I hath seen too many years come and go now to ignore what tidings report.”

  Helluin looked into her lover’s eyes.  Though she had ever regarded the Green Elf as young, she realized that her companion now counted o’er 4,060 years of life.  Indeed she was’t now older than Helluin had been when the Noldo had followed her lord Turgon to Gondolin.  Beinvír had lived long and seen much of the world and much of its events. 

  “I deem we should make our way south again, my love.  I deem that whatsoever danger doth arise, we shalt see it first in Gondor.”

  To this, Beinvír reluctantly nodded in agreement.  The southern kingdom was’t now ruled by Tarannon, about whose reign some strange stories had been heard.  ‘Twas 18 Lothron, (May 18th), T.A. 870.

To be continued

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