~ The Fracturing of Arnor ~
on: September 16, 2016 12:51
|Amon Sûl – Late Summer – Year 775 of the Third Age
Cäontar and Daúremir stood across from each other looking at the Palantir. The twin grandson princes were putting their combined thought into seeing what was taking place in Annúminas. They were sure their father Eärendur would try and get King Elendur to relocate his seat of power to Fornost, but their grandfather loved the old city. Surely it had to do with their father's differences as to where to rule from. He wanted the King to come to Fornost so he could control his succession to power. He also wished to gain the Palantir of Annúminas. Amlaith lingered in Fornost as well.
But what the twins saw in the visions surprised them. Surely events had caught Eärendur off guard as well. The King would not have any of the talk of moving. He was staying in Annúminas and he was going to rule from there. Appearing younger, there was no sense that he was ready to lay down his life. It was thought the King was in ill health, but he appeared fit. Daúremir kept his stare fixed on the Palantir but said,
"Brother, you know that the Kingship of Arnor will pass first to father, then to our elder brother Amliath, and to his son thereafter. Where does that leave us?"
"Not now..." Cäontar whispered impatiently, not wanting to lose the concentration. They both stood silent and stared....
There appeared a woman who had recently came into the service of the King's household. She appeared to be scared and was hiding in the stable. She listened to two men talking. Wanting to see who they were, the brothers strained to see their faces....
"THAT CUTS IT!"
Cäontar yelled as his fist crashed into Daúremir's face, knocking him backward in a stagger. Cäontar drew his knife and slammed Daúremir against the wall before he could recover.
"If you weren't minutes younger than me and I wouldn't be charged with murder, I'd gut you right here and now!"
Several of Dauremir's men came in drawing swords. But they were met by an equal number of Cäonter's men. They all kept their weapons out and a wary eye on each other, but they all turned to watch the brotherly quarrel, looking for a cue to fight. Cäontar ranted on while Daúremir looked at him, not struggling.
"Why did you have to send that half-breed Malkin and his hooligans to Annúminas for? Everyone knows he works for you!"
Daúremir said, gently pushing the knife out of his face. Cäontar said,
"Don't you find it odd that none of the grandsons are there?"
"Not really. Aimlith is there by proxy, and so am I."
Daúremir replied as he stood up rubbing his jaw. Cäontar went on even as he sheathed his knife. This brought the ring of steel as everyone else sheathed their swords.
"Yeah, but Malkin? Seriously, you could have sent someone a little less… rough."
"Well, I think Malkin will serve well. Besides, I trust him."
Daúremir said as he straightened out his uniform. Cäontar said,
"I have people there too. They are much less… shall we say, blatant."
“I would be disappointed if you didn’t have anyone there brother. I suspect Amliath has his spies there too. In fact, I know it.”
Cäontar pondered the hilt of his sheathed knife, then said,
"Come brother, let us see some more, then we will talk of our plans, then we will go to our assigned duties, you in Rhuadur, me south to Tharbad."
The men all went back to resting knowing they all had long marches coming in the days ahead. The brothers again stood opposite each other, turning their combined wills toward Annúminas....
Scheme upon scheme were stacked in the city of Elendil this night. Everyone with their own agenda. All hoping their grandfather ceded the Kingship to Eärendur soon and go to rest with their fathers. All was set long ago, but it seemed that differing ideas as to how it all would take place were afoot. The twins had both agreed on one thing... with their father as King, they could work their will upon him over the coming years, undermining his faith in Amlaith. But this woman servant... maybe she has bewitched King Elendur? For since she had come to serve at the palace, Elendur had been well and truly re-invigorated! Right now, it appeared to everyone that Elendur would live another 10 or 20 years!
The palantir then showed them a vision of two elves in court. Too perceptive the Rivendell elves are. They had to be careful. And there is Hanavía, commander of the secretive Rangers. He took orders only from the King. Where does he stand on succession? Ostensibly with the King, and after succession, with the new King? He could be trouble. But to have one such as he in their camp.... or even to know what his thoughts are. Yes... they needed to find out, but they would have to be very careful.
The visions faded into haze. There was interference being cast forth. They were using the master stone too much! Was the King trying to use the Annuminas stone! The twins quickly shut their minds to the Master Stone of Amon Sul and quickly covered it.
"That was close!" Daúremir said as they stepped back. He looked to his brother.
"Yes." Cäontar said... ”Too close. Hopefully our wills together managed to keep our grandfather, father, or elder brother, whoever it was using the Stone of Annuminas from sensing our thoughts. Since this stone of Amon Sul is a master Stone, I think we may be safe.”
He said as he looked out over the land.
”We can hope.”
Dauremir remarked. Cäontar then said,
”We need to move out in the morning. Let us get to camp before the unit commanders have realized we had been away for so long."
Daúremir nodded and they left the great chamber of Amon Sûl. The guard of Amon Sûl nodded to the princes and their men as they left, unknowing of any of the council taken in the high chamber. Soon they approached where the soldiers were camped in the hills. They rested that night and were up and ready as the sun rose the next day. The brothers talked long before a nod and a handshake as they parted. Cäontar said,
"May you do well in the rough highlands of Rhuadur brother."
"May you do well in the south my brother."
They each smiled, and they both turned away. Under his breath, Daúremir mumbled, "imbecile" while Cäontar mumbled, "idiot"…
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The City of Annuminas - The Northern Dunedain Kingdom of Arnor
Yavannië 28 of the year 775 of the third age by the King's Reckoning.
Annúminas is 50 leagues northwest of Bree as the crow flies, and has the Twilight hills to its south and west, and also to the north across Lake Evendim which was approximately 7 leagues wide. With the coming of Autumn, rain, fog, cold, and even a frozen frosty morning could occur at this time. Snow and ice would not be unheard of later over the winter, but most likely not now. Also, a last gasp of summer could happen as well. It was a chill clear night with the wisp if winter’s breath coming from the north over the lake. The day had been warm and was a last gasp of summer. Fallen leaves rustled through the streets with each breeze. Alandir the Innkeeper worked desperately with a broom to clear the leaves from in front of his inn, but he knew it was a losing battle.
The Twilight Inn… it was once a grand inn in the west of Annúminas,nestled where the hills came north to meet the lake. It was here where the main road through the city found its end. From here, the road ran east through the heart of the city, then stretched winding further east toward Fornost Erain. There it met the great South Road to Bree and beyond. But its western end stopped at the front door of the old Inn.
The Inn was built early in the founding of the city of Elendil, and it was here where the engineers, architects and craftsmen that would build Annuminas would stay and discuss the planning with the King and his men. But now it was an aging inn upon the lake, and like the city of Annuminas, few remained to fill its common room.
The oak forested hills bore the wood that built the place, and the remnants of these same woods left to grow nearby would rustle and sing many a patron to sleep in the quiet nights. The ivy crawling up the covered porch’s supports and walls, and the faded wooden sign that used to hang from two iron hooks, now dangled from one. It spoke of much that have passed between patrons and workers alike through the years. It was legend that when the sign squeaked in the wind, an oath or contract was in the making inside.
Inside the double heavy oak doors you looked upon a log-framed passage that went forth for about six feet. This was the commonly called the drip parlour where patrons would shake off the rain and snow, and there were pegs on the walls for hanging cloaks and such. This passage opened up into a great common room with a well worn but cared for hardwood floor.
To the left there was a slight shift in the wall of about three feet, making enough room for someone to stand at the end of the long oak bar and not be in the way of the entrance. This bar stretched along the south side of the common room to its open end near the far side of the room. The open end allowed access for the serving girls, bar maids, and cooks, and was the site of many a collision and fight between patrons and said staff. A patron from the lower hallway would run into wenches going to and fro with tankards on their trays. And servants with food dishes and empty stoneware also would have per chance an accident as well. This traffic choke point was the only real design flaw of this fine old inn.
The wide open floor was broken up by a half dozen large support timbers that stretched up to the high peaked roof, and near these were clustered well-abused wooden tables, each with its brood of rickety stools. There are smaller tables and stools that can be moved about or out of the way if the occasion calls for it. The far wall was a great river rock fireplace and it was the center of the building. It held a spit that could cook a fair-sized pig, goat, cow, or venison, or hold a large pot for boiling.
The rooms were gained by a log-framed opening to the left of the fireplace split by a single timber. The left half of this opening led up a stair that immediately curved to the left and rounded one of the large roof support timbers. The stairs continued rounding above the common room with its small worn log rail before curving back, passing the side of the stone chimney. There at the stones, the stair and log rail ends and the upper hallway begins, leading to the larger, more luxurious rooms.
To the right of the split doorway in the common room, the hall stretched long to the doors to smaller, cheaper rooms. Just inside the hall to the left there was a door that when opened, led down stairs to the cellar where stores were kept cool as to not spoil. The back had a side storeroom with another stair to the cellar for the cook's use. He kept in the room various spices and seasonings, and that which was needed daily for the prep of the food, yet gave easy access to the lower level. There also was a service door to the outside where the firewood could be brought in. The cook kept the kitchen clean and his meals were good, and even excellent at times. A short fellow he was... a Halfling from the east it is said, but he never talked much of himself. He just had a touch for preparing good food and the Innkeeper had hired him on the spot after tasting the roast lamb he made. Nobody knew his name here, but was referred to simply as 'Cook'. He kept the patrons well fed.
Alandir had been the proprietor for the past 5 hard years. He left Cook to run the kitchen. Together they had managed to keep the place going.
Alandir had run a mercantile in the city of Minas Tirith in Gondor, trading in goods both legitimate and non, and he had to escape the jurisdiction there when a deal for Haradian spices was discovered. He got off easy, but he had to sell his business. He then journeyed north to Annuminas, finding it quiet and out of the way. He found the inn in need of a keeper. The former innkeeper had gone off take up work at a new Inn in Fornost, and he never returned. So it was quiet most of the time, but the days of many patrons were long gone with the people of Arnor, and like the city, only a few remained. But quiet it was not this night. The talk among the gaffers were about the glory days of old, and musings whether if Arnor would survive much past the reign of King Elendur. little did they know that The King had come forth into the city...
The King was aged and had not been seen in public for a year since his beloved wife died. Rumor had it that he was broken in spirit, and that his son Earendur was now King in all but name. But Earendur was seldom seen in Annuminas, for he spent most of his time in Fornost, a fortress city in the east. But this day, the 7th of Hísimë of the 775th year of the Third Age, King Elendur came forth from his palace. He seemed invigorated with his young maid-servant by his side. He spoke in the town square with a voice of old, and though the crowd appeared sparse, most of the people who still called Annuminas home gathered to hear. Great was his words, and for the time, smiles and cheer went up about the city.
On this night, quiet was not in abundance at the Twilight Inn. Rumor had it the King and his party would come to the Inn after his rousing speech. It was only rumor, but the consistent squeak of swinging of the inn's sign from a stiff and chill northerly wind rising off the lake spoke true...
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Caila stood well to the side of the King and out of sight from most of the crowd in the street while he made his speech. Two Royal Guardsmen in full dress stood off to each side, and the King walked up and stood between them. He looked if not young, strong. His silver locks flowed over his shoulders and he spoke of the greatness of Arnor and the Dunedain
Caila was proud of her King, and proud to be serving him in such a way. The waning old man she had come to see two years ago was now strong and sure. But she knew that his time was short. She guessed he would have the will to live another five years. Still, she did what she could to keep his spirit strong. She feared what would come once Prince Earendur became King. She regained herself and smiled as the people cheered. The citizens of Annuminas were mostly older and wished not to move to the fortress city of Fornost. These years would be the last great years of Annuminas.
Hanavía had been standing toward the back of the gathered crowd, staying on the outskirts as he listened to the King speak. His words were strong and worthy of the great kings of old, but words would not stop the decline of Arnor. Its peoples were strong but there were too few. And their desire to retain the greatness of Numenor in their blood led only to fewer and fewer births. Frowned upon was marriage outside the Dunedain families, as Hanavía well knew. The woman he had met when he stayed at the Inn east of Bree was all he desired in a wife, but her clouded bloodlines made it nigh impossible to marry. So there she remained, and here was his duty.
Midway through the King's words, Hanavia was given orders that he and some of his men were to go to the Twilight Inn, for the King desired to go there. He nodded and took the twin brothers Kaldil and Kallin, brothers Mandir & Malavil, and Beradil of the Kings Guard. They quietly slipped out from the crowd, and walked slowly the road that took them to the door of the inn.
"Quite a speech."
Mardil said as he and Hanavía walked together a couple paces back from the others.
"Yeah. But I was thinking earlier that it will take much more than fine words to renew the glory of Numenor here in the lands of Arnor."
Hanavía said, the chill wind blowing colder. Mardil nodded in agreement. Silence there was between them as they listened to the brothers talking and joking. They were talking of the girl that accompanied the King. Their talk grew quieter too as we neared the door. Hanavía and Mardil closed with them and they could be talking about there being high elves in the city. It had been awhile since any of the fair folk had been about Annúminas, usually they stopped at Fornost to the east. Yes, interesting times. it was.
Kallin pulled the door open, and the din of voices could be heard. The usual pause came over them as the soldiers entered, but soon they were rambling again. The men looked around, and saw a table there near the door. Mardil and Mundir sat while Mundir and Kaldil went for the bar. Kallin crossed the room the hearth to warm his hands, and Hanavía stood by the table, stopping a wench as she passed.
"A bucket of ale here for me and my men, and some bread and cheese of you have any please."
She didn't miss a step as she brushed by Hanavía. A nod and a seemingly whispered "Yes milord" was heard, and Hanavía watched her walk away. A voice familiar then rang out beside him familiar.
"She's a fine lass, yes she is. Works hard, is fine to look at, and takes no crap from the ones who imbibe too well."
It was Alandir.
"And you surely don't pay her enough"
"I hope you have a few more like her, for this place is about to get really busy. Almost the whole city is out listening to the King talk at the square, and he's talking of coming over here for a brew."
Alandir's mouth fell open, and for a moment he was stunned. But soon instinct took over and he was yelling for his workers to clean up and such. he was in the back demanding that the food be prepared right, but Cook ignored him. He had heard the King might come forth from the palace, and since the Twilight used to be a place where kings of old would come, he half thought it might be the case since he heard King Elendur was trying to reclaim the past glory in the years of his sunset.
Soon the place was busy with brooms and mops, rags and water. The few who were there either pitched in to help or lifted their feet and held claim to their table. Hanavía sat with the men, drinking flagons that were easily refilled from a large bucket, and they snacked on the bread and butter.
"This is the best thing to happen to a soldier!"
"It beats freezing your toes off in the Ettenmoors or the North Downs for sure. Maybe not southern duty in summer, where one can swim the river at Tharbad, but still."
Kaldir piped up,
"Shoot brother, you haven't seen any hard duty. Spend a winter in the far north watching for the white wolves...."
The door opened, and advance guard came in. People too drifted in and already the din of noise was filling the smoky air. Word had it the King would be there soon.
Hanavía didn't talk much letting the four brothers do most of it. Mardil didn't either. He would make rounds checking security, and somewhat annoyed with the others for their relaxed attitude. Ostensibly Hanavía was in charge of this detail, but he knew Mardil reported to others. So Hanavía kept watch on the door, noting each and every person that entered from the time they had gotten there to the arrival of the King's Guard. Yes, it would get quite busy really fast. He was glad a fresh bucket of ale was brought to them before the crowd surged in, for that would be all for them. They heard the cheers of the people in the street, and silently, Hanavia and his men took their positions around the inn.
When King Elendur finished his speech, he came down and mingled with the people. This made the Royal Guard nervous, and the commander was glad he sent Hanavia ahead. The king insisted in walking the streets, and he would not be denied. Elendur was dearly loved by most, but Hanavia had recently told him that he suspected some few newcomers to the city. The commander had the Royal Guard stay close and they kept a wary eye on all who pressed close to the King.
When the crowd settled and many hands were shaken, the King did something that Caila did not expect. He turned and waved her down to him, and once she joined him, they began to walk the street. Caila was uncomfortable with such a public display for it was not her place. There were some who had their suspicions about her, and this would only feed those suspicions. Most of these people were hoping that the throne would soon pass to Earendur. Ever since the Queen and beloved wife of Elendur had died, there was concern about the King. Now, here he was walking beside a common maid servant, going to the inn. Most were happy that the King had come among them, but Caila could feel the piercing stares of some. It seemed like an eternity, but they arrived at the door of the Twilight Inn. Caila needed a drink…
[Edited on 09/18/2016 by Arveleg]
Eighth King of Arthedain
- It was in battle that I come into this Kingship, and it will be in Battle when I leave it. There is no peace for the Realm of Arnor. Read the last stand of Arthedain in the Darkest of Days
The Fracturing of Arnor
on: January 06, 2017 01:15
|(Outskirts of Fornost)
Gytha Colme surveyed their campsite with captivated eyes. It was refreshing to be so far from the familiar sites of home. The trees seemed to grow in different shades of green than close to home, and the brook nearby laughed like a merry old man. Even the grass, whispered in a new, tranquil voice.
Dutifully, Gytha helped her mother unpack the necessary items for making camp that night. She dreaded actually reaching their destination: Fornost. The city seemed to be bonds her parents had conjured up to teach her how to be a proper lady. Though she loved and respected her parents dearly, she hated the fact she needed to settle down. Gytha did not want to be like other girls her age, who hung on the their beau’s arm or married off. She wanted to be free to ride her horse and explore the outdoors. Free to create pictures out of her findings on the white fabric of her embroidery, and sit by the fire listening to the skop recite his tales. But her parents were determined to teach her to dance nobly, eat daintily, walk gracefully, and marry.
Lying by the fire that night, Gytha sighed as she remembered her father’s warning earlier that day. We will reach the city tomorrow noon. Her last night of freedom. Sighing, she tried to go to sleep. Maybe becoming a proper lady was not as bad as it seemed to be.
(City of Annuminas)
“Careful friend, try not to step on my foot. It breaks easier than yours.”
With skilled fingers, Adrian reached up to touch the white star of the chestnut he was training. The horse snorted, prancing to one side nervously. Adrian followed, holding the gaze of the half-broken stallion. They danced for twenty minutes around the circular pen Adrian had built for taming the horses of the wild. Floating on the low cloud of dust rising from the sandy ground, the two finally came to a halt. The chestnut snorted, shaking the dust from its body as Adrian stepped back.
“Very good, my friend,” Adrian praised, running his hand down the tawny red neck of the stallion. “Now for the bridle.”
The young man sauntered to the fence, retrieving the bridle with its metal bit. He held it out to the stallion, letting the young horse examine the foreign piece of equipment. Adrian glanced at the street, barely visible through the narrow opening through the two stables. The city of Annuminas was silent and weary, as if old age had finally caught up with Her. He had heard rumors that the King would be giving a speech today, and even perhaps visiting the lonely Twilight Inn. The young horsemaster had frequented the quaint place a few times before he immersed himself in the life of horses. There were no better horses in the Kingdom, save those of his father’s in Fornost. When many inhabitants of Annuminas had parted for the new city of Fornost, his father had left with a hundred studs, two hundred mares, and wagons containing feed and building materials. The King himself had ordered the Royal Horsemaster to Fornost to provide horses for the Prince’s men. Adrian stood thoughtfully near the fence, remembering his father’s instructions.
“Do not forget to oil the wood in the stalls every month...you know how the wood gets dry and cracked. The King would not like one of his horses getting a splinter in its side.”
“Yes father,” Adrian smiled. “Respectfully father, you have trained me since I could walk. I think I can tend the remaining horses and the stables well. Thanks to your training.”
“Aye,” the older man turned to face his son.
The two men clasped each other’s shoulders in farwell. The older man smiled and pulled his son into a manly embrace. His face was creased with wrinkles and scars from his work, a rather grisly and homely appearance. Adrian had barely come into manhood, a sparse beard darkening his chin. His visible eye was young and laughing, the other--cruelly maimed--remained hidden beneath a black patch.
“Stay safe, father,” Adrian pulled back.
“You too,” his father nodded. “I expect a well run stable when I see you again.”
“Do not worry,” Adrian laughed. “I am my father’s son.”
“Then I have no more need to worry.”
Adrian shook himself, he needed to focus. Gripping the bridle, he moved towards the chestnut, who had wandered away while Adrian was distracted. The chestnut snorted as the young man held out the bridle again. They had gone through this before. Carefully, Adrian slipped the straps around the stallion’s face as he had often done with the halter. Only this time it was different. As soon as the cool metal bit slid into the stallion’s mouth, the chestnut reared and shook his head. Adrian knew he had adjusted the straps so that the bridle would not fly off during the training. He carefully avoided the stallion as it danced around the round pen, desperately trying to get the foreign object out of its mouth. Adrian spent the afternoon, dancing with the chestnut as he got used to the bridle and being led with it. It was almost evening when Adrian led the weary stallion back to his stall in the stables. As they walked to the front of the stables glass shattered nearby and a merchant cursed loudly. Adrian winced, his wounded eye jerking subconsciously.
Toddling around a bench, young Adrian watched as his father molded steel into a perfect horseshoe. He would often make the shoes of the royal’s horses, insisting that only he could fit the important horses. Adrian played with the glass marble his mother had given him for his fifth birthday. Curiously he stared as his father as he started the final shoe. A bar of metal was lowered into the fire of the forge and the bellow was pumped steadily. Burning red the bar was removed and a spike was hammered into it, making a hole for the nails. This step was repeated several times. Finally his father began to shape the metal into the curved shape of the horseshoe. In awe, Adrian wished he could shape metal like his father. The red glow entranced him and he sat enraptured. Finished, the horseshoe hissed as it was dropped in cool water. Steam rose like little flying snakes from the water’s top. Waiting until the fire was lower, his father walked over to his little boy.
“Come, it's time to go in, your mother should have dinner almost ready,” his father took his hand. “We are early.”
They walked from the forge, his father closing the door behind him, but not locking it. Perhaps he intended to go back later and examine the shoes. Dinner was wonderful that night. His mother had prepared a delicious vegetable stew with hearth cakes and the little Adrian had eaten his fill. It was still light when they finished and he was allowed to go play outside. Taking his marble, Adrian played in the dirt for a while, before he noticed the door to the forge had swung open. Peeping his head through, he tiptoed into the forge. He knew he would get in trouble if he was caught, no one was allowed into the forge without his father.
The coals were still glowing and an idea popped into the tiny head. He would forge his little marble like his father molded the steel. Quickly, he ran to the red coals and threw his marble in. He stepped back and waited, grabbing the steel tongs in his hands. The glass marble could not withstand the heat anymore and exploded, showering glass and coal. The shrapnel flew through the air, hitting the eye of the little Adrian. The boy collapsed, screaming in agony. His parent came running from the house.
Adrian flinched, recovering from the blurry, yet unpleasant memory from his childhood. He led the chestnut into the stables, his bad eye aching with a phantom pain. Settling the chestnut in his stable, Adrian fed, watered, and rubbed the stallion down. Taking several buckets well, he went back and forth watering the remaining horses. Realizing he was done early, Adrian stepped back wondering what he should do. Perhaps he should see if the rumors were true, if the king was at the Twilight Inn. If he was, Adrian could pay his respects, and if not, he could always have a good meal. Wiping his hands on a rag, he threw his cloak on, buckled his sword to his waist, and marched for the door. Locking it behind him, he headed down the road for the inn. It was a long, but pleasant walk to the Inn. From the crowd gathered inside, he felt certain the King had actually fulfilled the rumors. He curled his nose, he smelled of horse. Oh well, probably most of the people gathered in the inn would likely smell of what trade they had abandoned for a drink or meal. Taking a deep breath he walked inside. The Inn was crowded, and Adrian had to push to the bar to get a drink. There was the King, a maiden by his side. Adrian made a face and turned away to order his drink. When it came, he took a deep drink, working up the courage to greet his king.
"Every good pirate has an alias" Felix glanced down, looking at contraption around the stump of his wrist. "Hook," he answered. "My name will be Hook."
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