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The Numenor Letters

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Second Age 58, Elenna

Dear Aunt Mornel

Pardon my tardiness in writing to you but we have been so busy getting things in order here in Elenna. It is a fair place but we still need to build shelters and till the earth. Lady Yavanna has been generous but not that generous seeing her husband has decided literally to pave the land with gems and gold which make for not so fertile fields. Tents worked fine in a pinch but we needed something more permanent. I would love to have a tower just like the one I grew up in as an elfling. Perhaps if I build it really tall on the western shore I might be able to see my naneth’s tower on the Shadowy Sea, where Grandfather Tuor says she is living now.

There was a wee bit of unpleasantness between the three Houses of the Edain but I do hope that has been all sorted out. I never expected the tribes to have that many issues with each other. For example, the Haladin allow for a female to hold leadership over her brothers but not the other tribes. It would figure that the Haladin has a history of producing outstanding female warriors. Well, to cut a long story short, the current chieftainess felt slighted by the other chiefs at council, who did not think her suggestions worthy of consideration and an axe got thrown at someone. Personally, I consider it an honour to fight alongside the Haladin in the War and accept their pledge of loyalty. Well, I had to convince them to pledge their loyalty or watch them sail back east in a huff and disappear into the woods. I am sure there were more of them hiding out in the hills as I sense they are not keen sailors. Then there was that thorny issue about cousin-weddings, which were apparently quite common among the Edain in some parts.    

I met my grandfather Tuor and grandmother Idril (both of whom I have never met before) when they sailed over from Tol Eressea. It was a big shock but a pleasant surprise when Tuor lifted me up in a bear-hug. He freaked my honour guard out when he took out that axe of his – another addition to my heirloom collection. It will fit on the wall beside the Bow of Bregor and Thingol’s sword. I do not understand why I have to have a dozen guards come with me when I just want a quiet stroll along the shore. It’s not as though there are orcs waiting to pounce on me here, but Lord Eonwe insisted. It is not fit for the First King of Numenor to walk about without underlings in attendance. Oh, I have named my realm Numenor, in case word has not yet reached Formenos.

There are so many things I needed to learn of kingship and stuff and Lord Eonwe can be most tiresome at times as a tutor. Is it that important to memorize the lengthy prayers and rites to honour the Valar? Can’t we have a cheat-sheet up my sleeve? Trust me, you can hide an entire library up the sleeves of those formal robes. Is there an abridged version of the offering of the fruits? Thank the powers for Melleth – yes, I have found a companion in a fine young lady with the darkest hair and bluest eyes. At fifteen, she is but a child compared to me.

I have also been urged by Lord Eonwe to take a wife to secure the bloodline (whatever that means), now that I am mortal. I have had to turn down clumsy attempts for me to get better acquainted with various sisters and daughters of the Edain leaders. I wonder how Elrond is faring back east. I am a bit afraid about the entire mortality thing now - what if I fell in love, took a wife and she dies on me? Suddenly I had to consider plagues and accidents and other stuff which can seriously put a damper on life. I caught a bad cold last month and really freaked out. I never fell ill that bad as an elf (or half-elf). Starting to seriously reconsider my perhaps over-hasty decision to choose mortality and the accompanying lordship over the Edain but Lord Eonwe says it is only a passing phase and I will get over it - eventually.

Hopefully, I can convince Lord Eonwe I have taken his lessons to heart and he will sail off west or whatever. I can start by dismantling the honour guard, or having them guard a fancy citadel while I get some quiet time fishing. We can cut back on the weekly hikes up the mountain to perhaps an annual event, and make a festival of it? Excuse me, I think I will give my guards something to do by climbing out the window and spending the night up a tree.

Your nephew Elros Tar-Minyatur (because everyone insisted I have some fancy title even if it is quite a mouthful)


 

Second Age 58, Formenos

Dear Elros

As much as I would like to advise you on how to sort out your council problems, I have been strongly advised by Uncle Ara this is something you need to figure out on your own. Pleased to hear that that no one was seriously hurt by that axe, yet. Next time, suggest to plant the axe in the council table. Tables are more readily replaced than experienced advisors.

Second is that issue on selecting an heir. One way as put forward by Lord Eonwe is to have some offspring and hope one of them is potential leader material. Note, it need not be the first one to come along – no offense to my atto but on all accounts he was more at home in the forge than at the council table. If you have no intention of marrying or having children (no pressure there), you may find a suitable protégé among the existing Edain and adopt him or her. Finrod Felagund did so with Gildor, before his nephew came to Nargothrond. At our last reckoning, Gildor Inglorion is still gainfully employed in Gil-galad’s court in Lindon. Orodreth and the majority of Nargothrond’s residents are awaiting their return from the Halls of Waiting.

Just make sure that you impart the necessary skills to your heir before mortality happens. I am not sure how that works out but Lord Manwe reassured us that you and your descendants have the blessing of choosing the time of your death. That said, I do not believe you can drag it on indefinitely. From what I observed of mortals, they start going downhill both physically and mentally about sixty and few are fit by ninety. Your grandfather Tuor is an exception since he was granted honorary elfhood and immortality.

About the entire business of maintaining a settlement, I am glad that you have gotten the basics straight – water, shelter and food. Once you have those down pat, you can work out the citadel customs and protocols. Maiar do not need sustenance or shelter so their perspective tends to get a bit skewed. Remind Eonwe dead men do not offer prayers to anyone. So it's on him if anyone perishes from hunger or exposure. Have your honour guard scout out some new valleys, freshwater sources, or other usable resources. Try not to cut down too many trees – it will really rile Lady Yavanna. About those gems and metal ores appearing in your fields, have a little chat with Eonwe and the other Maiar. They can be quite open to reason and curbing Lord Aule’s excesses. About your naneth, despite the Ban of the Valar, I doubt the Valar would forbid your parents from visiting you in Elenna. I could check with Master Olorin later. It may be possible for me to raise the issue of a visit to your realm the next time I drop by her place for tea if you are so inclined. Please send me a reply by letter, or with your grandmother Idril. Perhaps your grandmother would have already made plans for a visit with your naneth since there’s no ban on us sailing to Numenor from Aman. Not sure if there is a ban for the elves still in Middle Earth to sail over to Numenor though. Perhaps Elrond might visit.  

I look forward to visiting you on Numenor as soon as I settle my own council issues at Formenos.

Mornel Feanoriel

P.S. Do build that tower of yours, but not too high – lest the Great Eagles decide to roost on it. 

Chapter Text

Second Age 60, Armenelos, Numenor

Under the glowing white flowers of Nimloth, scion of Celeborn which stood in Prince Earlindo’s courtyard in Tol Eressea, stood the happy couple. They were the newly-wed King and Queen of Numenor. The Ring of Barahir winked on Elros’ finger, a parting gift from his aunt Galadriel before he departed for his new mortal life on Elenna. It had been recovered from the ashes of Sirion after the Kinslaying and she had held on to it for so long in her reluctance to surrender this last keepsake of her brother Finrod. Dark-haired and sharp-eyed, his fair young bride clung to his arm. It was hoped by their people that they would be swiftly blessed with an heir to the throne.

The official ceremony was over and this was a late-night supper reception attended only by the couple’s closest friends and family. Among which were the king’s elvish kindred and friends from Valinor. Lanterns hung from the trees and candles set on the tables bathed the gardens in a soft glow. Many of the Edain were already deep in their cups or asleep at this late hour.

Prince Earlindo and his wife held a place of honour with their year-old son among the elvish guests. It was with great joy that the couple had welcomed their first child after many cycles of the sun – a clear sign to any remaining naysayers that their union was indeed blessed by the Valar.

Many years before, when Elenna was new, the prince had brought the sapling from his own Celeborn as a token of friendship from Avallone. Celeborn was an offspring of Galathilion, the White Tree of Tuna made in the image of Telperion which was lost to them before the Second-born awoke. It was a gift from his law-brother Arafinwe to his father, King Olwe, who planted it on Tol Eressea in celebration of his son’s return from Mandos. Round this tree Prince Earlindo had built his house and the city of Avallone had sprung up. The newly–crowned Elros had named the sapling Nimloth in honour of his maternal grandmother.

Off the shores of Tol Eressea was the island gifted to the Edain. The Elves of Avallone and beyond readily extended their friendship to their mortal neighbours, bringing across the sea gifts of fragrant flowers and healing herbs from Yavanna’s gardens, gems and precious metals from Aule’s Mansions – and above all, they brought the teachings and skills of Valinor. Scores of elven craftsmen sailed on board those same ships to help build the new city of the Edain. Scholars went to teach the Secondborn the laws and customs set down by the Valar. The elves also brought palantirs from Aman to Elros’ court, which was a subject of much debate back in Aman.  

Even now, some elves felt this gift unwise, among them Mornel. This was the ongoing topic of conversation between her and Prince Earlindo.

“What my atto created in the seeing-stones is of great power and too risky to be used thus freely. Even my brothers dared not used them in Beleriand although they were taken from the ships ere they burned,” Mornel paused. The palantirs that did survive the War were gathered at Lord Eonwe’s orders and sent back to Valinor. Maglor had confided that even her brothers knew better than to use them after they had arrived. The stones were surrendered with the kingship to Fingolfin’s line and many were lost when the dragon Glaurung came from the North. Arafinwe had considered gifting a palantir to his daughter in Beleriand but had been dissuaded from doing so by the war council. It was too dangerous with Morgoth’s Shadow. The issue was never raised again before the Host sailed for home.  

“But with the palantirs, we may contact the House of Elros… and they us…”

“But is it wise to let the Secondborn view what is forbidden to them? That is why I have chosen to cede the Master-stone to my uncle and he in turn gifted it to you.” Mornel had discovered it and the notes pertaining to its usage in one of the storehouses in Formenos. She had consulted her mentor Olorin as to whether the Master-stone should be used or hidden away on Taniquetil. The Valar had no use for such trinkets and it was left to Mornel to decide whether to gift it to her uncle or another Elven king.  The Master-stone now sat atop a tower on Avallone facing into the east.

Mornel took a sip from the goblet of sweet wine Earlindo had offered her. Nimloth had thrived. Her law-sister Edalote had provided the fertile soil from Yavanna’s Pastures to cradle its roots as Earlindo sailed over with the sapling in a pot crafted by Nerdanel. It had been feared the journey beyond Aman’s influence might prove too much when the tree did not flower for many years. Now it was in full bloom. Mornel silently toasted the Lady’s bounty.

Amidst much jesting and well wishes, Elros scooped his bride up into his arms and bore her over the threshold into the private quarters of the King’s House. He called out a hearty goodnight to his guests as he did so, dismissing them and the few servants still in attendance. Mornel smiled and closed her eyes, allowing the image of a scholarly youth to glide across her mind like a mirage. He would have his adar’s grey eyes and his naneth’s bright wit. There were many more shadowy figures following him but Mornel allowed the vision to slip away.  

“So what do you see in their future?” Serelinde asked Mornel as she cradled her drowsy child to her breast. The daughter of Feanor was whispered to be a seer by some.  Earlindo and his lady wife could attest to the fact that begetting gifts from Formenos several weeks away reached them well before they could officially announce their son’s birth. Laughingly, Mornel put it down to gossip from the gulls of Tol Eressea reaching the sea eagles of Araman and eventually the falcons of Formenos who informed her of the new addition to their household.

“Children of course, and a long life for Elros before his time for the Gift of Men eventually comes,” Mornel yawned and adjusted her circlet which had slipped down her head at an awkward angle. Formal wear could be tiresome. “Come now, it is late and young elflings need their reverie.”

She had enjoyed her brief sojourn in Numenor. Prince Earlindo acted as her guide since Elros was too caught up in his wedding preparations. She had even been to the tower Elros built looking into the west in the Bay of Andunie where a small hamlet of Teleri elves had settled. It was similar to his mother Elwing’s on the Shadowy Seas. It was a pity the Valar had decided that Numenor was to be considered mortal lands on which both Earendil and Elwing were not to set foot on. Earlindo had cunningly offered to help bypass this condition with Lord Ulmo’s aid. There was nothing about them meeting on a ship on the westernmost extent of Numenor’s waters. However, neither Elros nor his parents felt inclined to test the boundaries of the Valar’s patience and settled for communication by letters. Perhaps after so long apart, they were unsure on how they would react to each other. Perhaps only time would tell.

Chapter Text

Second Age 71

Dear Lady Mornel

I am writing to thank you for the birthday gift of the book Tales from Under the Stars. I really, really liked the story about the first elves and the Great Journey. Could you kindly bring me some books on Quenya and Histories of Beleriand next time you visit? I want to learn more but Nana says I am too young for such heavy lessons.   

I have heard much of the Edain version of the histories but not much about the Elves. Why did the Noldor come to Beleriand from Valinor? How were the Sun and Moon made? I hope to find out more.

King’s Heir Vardamir 

P.S. Can you teach me how to use a palantir? Ada says I am too young to use one but I want to see what Uncle Earlindo’s island is like.  


 

Second Age 120, Armenelos, Numenor

Dear Aunt Mornel

It is with great pleasure that we announce the latest addition to our nursery – my beloved Melleth has delivered a fine prince despite her age. We have noticed the far longer lifespans of our people with childbearing even in women of advanced age. Perhaps it is effect of being so near the Undying Lands rubbing off on us but some would prefer calling it Iluvatar’s blessings. That said, we have decided that it would be prudent that Atanalcar be the last of our children as four is quite enough – that my Melleth threatening to banish me from her bed until Arda breaks after the latest birth. Atanalcar was at least twice the size of his siblings at birth.  

My eldest has no doubt been pestering and hopefully benefiting from the scholarly knowledge of Master Rumil such that his tutor has given notice citing homesickness for Tirion and the fact that he has little new to offer Vardamir. I despair of ever training him in the kingly arts necessary to manage my court. It was with great grief that we mark the anniversary of the passing of our second child Tindomiel in childhood. She was gone all too soon. Grandmother Idril had once remarked on how much she resembled my naneth as a little girl. Despite all the cycles of the sun that had passed since that fateful day, it still does not seem right that my daughter should precede me in taking the Path of Men despite all reassurance from my court healers than she did not suffer at all. I do recall you were pleased by my decision to just banish the negligent nursery maids to Forostar instead of having them beheaded as put forward by my erstwhile Council. As a precaution, I have since installed sturdy grilles on the windows to deter any more would-be explorers in the nursery, much to Manwendil’s later annoyance.

Manwendil shows some promise in his letters but to a lesser degree as his brother. Currently he has been hanging out on building sites about the city – Noldor blood showing perhaps? Yesterday, he put forward a plan for a system of piped water into the city from the hills. I do sometimes wonder how Tindomiel would have turned out had she survived into womanhood. Perhaps she would have given us our first grandchild by now for I despair of my older sons ever finding a wife. I guess we can now pin our hopes on young Atanalcar. If he shows promise, I must get round to tweaking that rule about passing the crown to the eldest son. I doubt his elder brothers would mind that much.

Elros Tar-Minyatur


 

Second Age 120, Formenos

Dear Elros

Has the frailty of Men caught up with you that soon? It is far too soon to expect your youngest to show any inclinations to kingship at his tender age. I have spoken with Master Rumil and while he attests that Vardamir has little aspirations for the sceptre, things might change down the years. I humbly suggest you wait and see how all your sons turn out first before rushing into things. There is always the possibility of grandchildren. I have from a reliable source in Andunie that Manwendil has been paying court to a master builder’s daughter. Just ensure the succession issue is sorted out before taking your death.

The loss of a child is a tragedy regardless of the circumstances and I am proud of the restraint and mercy you have chosen to show on that day. Despite my repeated consultations with Lord Namo’s Maiar, the Doomsman has no idea of what exists outside the Circles of Arda for the Secondborn. That said, I am sure the princess is in good company with her forbears, including Beren and Luthien. It seems like just yesterday we attended her birthday celebrations at your invitation and I took serious offence at the ill-thought of gift Finrod was about to inflict on your sweet nightingale princess. I recall she enjoyed the illustrated Lay of Leithian Finrod presented to her for her sixth birthday. Thank Elbereth, I managed to tone down some of the pictures as they were far too gory despite being factually accurate. Seeing Uncle Finrod’s loyal servants being attacked by werewolves in full colour would give any elfling nightmares. I was faintly amused to learn that her younger brother used the same book to start his first campfire on the shores of Andunstar on his first foray away from home in S.A. 80. The boys do grow up so fast.

I am sorry to hear that the attempt to meet with your naneth last month did not go quite as planned thanks to Lord Osse being a bit grumpy. Your naneth can take the form of a bird but even her wings are no match for one of Osse’s squalls. Perhaps we can try fixing another time to meet at your convenience. She sends you her love as does your adar. Having your children wave to him as he sails past in the night sky is a nice touch.  

Yours sincerely

Mornel Feanoriel


 

Second Age 192, Armenelos, Numenor

Dear Aunt Mornel

I was sorry to hear that you are unable to attend the wedding of my eldest son last year but I understand that the return of your kin from the Halls of Waiting must be of greater importance to you. I hereby extend my thanks to you for the gift for my first grandson Amandil. There is now hope for my bloodline, at least an heir that could be considered acceptable to those pains in the ass I am unfortunate to be stuck with on the Council of the Sceptre. I have considered sending them off to the distant parts of the island but Melleth advised otherwise.

I am sure news would have reached Formenos by now of my younger sons’ unacceptable choice (to my council at least) of spouses. Just as you predicted, Manwendil took a mason’s daughter for his wife. Atanalcar married a weaver. Both settled in Andunie, I believe, just to get away from the nobles here in Armenelos. They have my fullest blessings. The Council can go stuff it so long as my sons are happy. I am willing to overlook the fact that both have decided to renounce their princely titles as demanded by the Council (against my advice).

Vardamir’s wife is a niece of one of my councillors and noble enough for the Council’s tastes. She is quite a strong character and probably a good match for my son who is sadly of a more pliant nature. Vardamir can be quite engrossed in his books, to the extent where he would forget to eat. I find that he is happiest in the royal library working on his scrolls and I have little heart to drag him from his work to attend council meetings. I know this is a serious neglect of his duties as King’s Heir but I have no heart to fault him.

Little Amandil takes after his father – same dark curls, same snub nose, and slightly pointed ears. I suppose the points are less prominent on him. I wonder if in time my descendants will lose the points entirely. For now he sleeps a lot as expected of an infant but I sense this grandson will be the future of my House.

Elros Tar-Minyatur

Chapter Text

A Visit to Numenor

Second Age 350, Numenor

“Hey, Cousin! Look at me!”

“Ai! Don’t…”

Mornel winced as her cousin Arakano Nolofinwion, also known as Argon in Sindarin, leapt from the roof of the inn and executed a perfect triple somersault before landing on his feet in the courtyard. “Aunt Anaire will kill me if you break your neck…” the lady of Formenos muttered in spite of a round of applause Arakano won from his eager spectators.

The pair were dressed as common elves to avoid the worst of the crowds which often beset the royal envoys from King Olwe’s court or Tirion. Mornel did not understand why the Edain felt it necessary to seek their blessings or aid in pleading some case before their king. Elros was both wise and fair as a ruler. He had decreed that all subjects might bring their grievances before him during the twice weekly public audiences. He even travelled incognito on occasion outside his golden capital to the outlying provinces to ensure those he had appointed as their stewards did not abuse their power. As for blessings, they came from the Valar and Iluvatar, not the Eldar, not that Mornel begrudged saying a few words over a new child or dispensing some medicine to the sick where needed.

After his return from Mandos, Arakano had chafed at his mother’s cosseting. Who could blame Lady Anaire for coddling her youngest son after being denied her family for so long? However, Arakano’s patience had its limits and it was not long before he fled the stifling confines of Tirion for the wilds of Aman. Finrod found him running about with a band of Nandor in the south of Aman. Denethor had been most reluctant to free his best archer from his service. The adventurous prince then took himself over to Alqualonde after having won King Olwe’s reassurances that any part he might have had in the Kinslaying was forgiven. His poor mother then received a letter of complaint that her son was involved in a drunken brawl with some Teleri sailors in a quayside tavern alongside Prince Finrod’s son Celeglass.

Glorfindel suggested a stint in Lord Tulkas’ House would burn off the excess energy but Arakano was far too restless to be bound by the regime of training imposed on the inhabitants. It was not long before he was on the road again, this time to Formenos. Thus it was that Mornel found her cousin a guest under her roof a yeni after his return from Mandos.

Arakano was an energetic and inquisitive elf. He reminded Mornel much of his young kinsman Celeglass with his boundless zest for life. In the early days of recovery in Lorien, he spent many hours fascinated with the movements of Arien and Tilion, and the new types of flora and fauna which thrived under their light. The scrolls of all the libraries of Tirion, even Finrod’s theses on Beleriand and the Secondborn were not enough. Arakano wanted to see the Numenoreans he had heard about for himself.

It had taken months of letters before he finally won his amil’s blessings for the trip to Numenor, on the condition that Lady Mornel and Prince Earlindo accompanied him. Mornel glared balefully at Earlindo, who was shouting encouragement to her cousin. The prince was clad in a simple smock. He would only don his formal robes when meeting Elros in an official capacity.

“Stop encouraging him,” Mornel muttered. She strode forward and purposefully took Arakano by the elbow. She could smell the strong liquor brewed by the Numenoreans on his breath. Tomorrow, her cousin would likely be having a huge hangover. The liquors distilled by the islanders were far more potent than any in Aman. Many Teleri captains sailed back to Tol Eressea with a hold full of the stuff for sale in the seedier taverns of Alqualonde, much to King Olwe’s dismay.

“D-did you see that? I flew…” Arakano hiccupped.

“Your amme will not be amused…” Earlindo finally conceded and assisted Mornel with her increasingly unruly kinsman. Several elves formed a protective barrier between them and the Edain revellers. Wine had been flowing freely all over the city in celebration of the latest birth in the House of Elros.


 

Once they had settled Arakano into bed, both Mornel and Earlindo took some time to check their gifts for Elros’ great-grandson Elendil. The gifts would be presented at the official naming ceremony of the prince. To everyone’s surprise, Prince Earlindo had been invited by Prince Amandil to stand as the child’s foster father instead of a member of Elros’ council. Mornel’s gift was a small wooden horse and rider. It paled in comparison to Earlindo’s, which was a model of the Vingilot. Nothing but the best for his foster son. Arafinwe had sent a small casket of gemstones from Tirion. From Valmar, Ingil had sent a copy of Tales for Elflings translated into the Numenoreans’ Adunaic tongue. 

How fitting… Mornel thought as she studied the fine craftsmanship on the model ship. An image drifted across her mind. One ship heading west in defiance of the Ban and three east from the island. A sea full of sails, an armada. Despite the warmth of their rooms, Mornel shivered.  

“What do you see?” Earlindo asked. Concern was etched on his fair features.

“Ships,” Mornel replied and left it at that. The sea-longing had slept thus long in the blood of Elros’ line. Perhaps it would soon awake. Elros’ younger sons had spread their descendants far beyond the golden capital. It was said that Manwendil had seven children, who in turn gave him two dozen grandchildren. His younger brother had six children. Prince Vardamir seemed almost restrained with his four children. Many of these descendants now held posts of leadership among their people. Perhaps one day, a brave soul would take to the waves and venture beyond the safety of their island home. Still, it was something she would rather discuss another time.


 

The king had dismissed all his servants to be alone with his elvish guests. His grandson Amandil stood waiting at his grandfather’s arm, ready to serve him and his guests as a servant would. Colourful jewel-birds, another gift from Tol Eressea, flitted about the gardens. The air was fragrant with blooming flowers.  

“Nothing lasts forever…” Elros murmured.

“Oh, you mean the tower?” Mornel looked up from her cup of tea.

It was a freak storm that sent Elros’ tower tumbling into the Bay of Andunie in the year 300. It was fortunate no one was hurt as the household had left the day before. Elvish craftsmen decried it as a sign of shoddy work by the Edain masons Elros had tasked with its construction. It had been perched on the very edge of a cliff and the foundations had simply been washed away over the years. Unlike her son’s tower, Elwing’s builders had set her tower’s foundations deep into the granite bedrock.

“No, all this,” Elros waved his arm to indicate the surrounding gardens and the King’s House.

“Why the despair, nephew? Surely all is well in your realm,” Arakano cried out. Earlindo gave Mornel a questioning glance.

“My blood is part Maia, and sometimes I… Not all the Shadow has been lifted from the east and will one day rise anew to threaten our peace…” Elros explained. “I am mortal. I cannot watch over this realm forever. Surely news must have reached you in Aman of my Melleth’s passing last winter… I am still capable of ruling for now, but eventually…” Elros put his cap back onto the table.

“You have capable sons, grandchildren and now a great-grandson in which you may place your trust,” Earlindo declared.

“Grandfather, you may trust me to lead our people against the Shadow should it come to that!” Amandil pledged. Elros gave his grandson an indulgent smile.  

“Indeed, many of your bloodline will remain faithful even as their kinsmen turn away from the Valar…” Mornel nodded sadly and stared into her teacup, glimpsing perhaps perilous times to come. Arakano sensed the change in the atmosphere and fidgeted in his seat.

“Lord Ulmo sent us news of a favourable tide at the start of the coming month should you desire to meet with your naneth,” Prince Earlindo coughed and turned their talk to lighter topics. Elros had met with Elwing twice before – both highly awkward and brief meetings. Elwing was proud of what her son had achieved but grieved that he would one day go beyond the Circles of Arda.  


 

“You saw something, didn’t you?” Arakano confronted his cousin on the deck of Earlindo’s ship after they had bid their farewells to Elros and his family. Mornel had even been allowed a chance to hold the newborn prince Elendil.

“Perhaps, but nothing is fixed…”

“You sound like Artanis when she gets one of her visions,” Arakano protested.

“Numenor is not big enough to contain them forever. Someday the sea-longing will come and Elros’ people will venture forth, perhaps east first to the lands of their forbears… then after that…”

“You think they will challenge the Ban of the Valar?”

“Our atars left Aman against the Valar’s decree, did they not?” Numenor was now a mere shadow on the horizon behind them. Mornel screeched out a greeting to a passing albatross.

“Well-said. It was a time of great darkness…” Arakano shivered at the memory. He had been young then, so much younger than his siblings but no less eager for the promise of adventure and glory beyond the borders of Aman. The sea breeze tugged at his hair, which he had worn free. Tentatively, he reached out with his mind towards his cousin’s.

So many ships…

Aye, but nothing is set in stone yet. Mornel gently but firmly shoved his mind away from hers and its vision of a mighty armada.

Chapter Text

Second Age 361, Tirion on Tuna

Dear Prince Vardamir

As far as possible I have refrained from passing any judgement as to the running of your father’s household but I must declare my objections in the case of your daughter Lady Vardilme, whom I understand from my feathered friends is in much distress due to pressures from the Council to marry. From all accounts, she is not interested in any of her suitors and has taken herself off to live halfway up a mountainside ‘tending the altar-fires of the Valar’. If that is not enough of a hint to cease and desist, I don’t know what is.

As for the Council – do not let them intimidate you. The king is only required to consider their advice, not necessarily act on it. In the case of your daughter, I would advise a private conversation with her regards to her feelings towards matrimony. She might already have someone deserving in mind, or have her heart set as a priestess. NO, there is no set law by the Valar that all nissi or daughters must be married off. Allow me to remind you that Lady Nienna and Lord Ulmo are both unwed. I know many nissi in Valinor who have for various reasons decided to forgo matrimony. I am one of their number. 

I understand that your atto is starting to feel the first signs of his encroaching mortality and is eager that you and your sons be trained in courtly matters and such. So far, I understand that Aulendil has built his very own workshop in Forostar and Nolondil has been busy setting up orchards in eastern Numenor. That would leave you and Amandil. Elendil and his brother are way too young to sit in on the council meetings. Try to refrain from claiming headaches too often to excuse yourself from council as it is quite unsettling for your atto. His greatest fear is losing another loved one before it is his time.

I know it is tough, but hang in there. Personally, I find under-the-table caricatures of the most annoying councillors tend to take the edge off a bit.

Mornel Feanoriel

P.S. Your atto has been pestering me for a cure to your frequent headaches – I have recommended a quiet rest in a cool, dark place. I hope that describes your library or you might be finding yourself sleeping in the root cellar.


 

Second Age 368, Formenos

Dear Earlindo

I question the wisdom of you taking the young princes of Numenor sailing for Elendil’s birthday of Andunie. I believe we have already discussed concerns regarding the sea-longing that had plagued their forefathers?

I understand from my gulls that your foster son Elendil did not take to sailing, unlike his younger brother. It might also have been prudent to select a day when Lord Osse was not feeling frisky. I do suppose we should be thankful that the current Numenorean vessels are only fit for in-shore sailing and not open water.

For Elendil’s propensity for seasickness, I would recommend a tisane of mint or ginger. Giving him rum was sure to make things worse. What were you thinking? The gulls enjoyed the fish luncheon his breakfast attracted though.

Highly amused,

Mornel Feanoriel


 

Second Age 368, Tol Eressea

Dear Mornel

If I did not know better about your winged friends, I would have sworn you have been scrying or working on your atto’s palantirs. The birthday sail was a disaster. My foster son now wants to put as much distance as possible between himself and the sea, much to Lord Ulmo’s dismay. The aptly named Earendur has proven himself a true mariner, much to the dismay of his foster father, the Royal Treasurer, who insisted on coming along with his fosterling and spent much of the time aboard below decks being sick.

I thought at 18, Elendil would be able to take the rum. I guess I was wrong about that. Hopefully, he would be able to overcome his unfortunate experiences with the sea. Perhaps his brother’s enthusiasm for all things maritime might infect him.

Linde and the children send you their love

Your friend, Earlindo


 

Second Age 370, Alqualonde

Dear Prince Nolondil

I am much honoured that you should have decided to write to me for advice on agricultural matters. In response I have sent you copies of our studies in crop management and animal husbandry. I agree that as island-dwellers, it is of great importance that your people continue to be self-sufficient even as the population grows. From what I recall of the island’s climate, sheep would fare best in Mittalmar, while grain would do best in Orrostar. I arrive at this conclusion after much consultation with my kinswoman Eldalote who is a disciple of Yavanna.

As for calls by the Council to resign your princely title, I would strongly advise against it as will your grandfather and father. It saddens me to learn that your brother has caved into their demands but he is probably happier pottering about his workshop and teaching his craft to his sons.

I also send with my messenger a flock of sheep and a dozen head of cattle from Lady Yavanna’s Pastures to strengthen the herds of Numenor. I would have sent you some goats too but I understand they all escaped from the harbour at Alqualonde and will probably populate the wild shores of Araman in due time.

Mornel Feanoriel


 

Second Age 377, Formenos

Dear Elros

I am pleased to hear that you have welcomed another princess into your household with the birth of Mairen. I send with my messenger a silver rattle and bejewelled ball. Amandil is no doubt pleased by the arrival of his daughter. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves with those pesky betrothal requests from certain persons.

As to the law governing the ascension to the throne of Numenor, I have been explicitly warned by Uncle Ara not to meddle but since you asked so nicely for my humble opinion on your heirs, this is my assessment based on various reports, reliable sources, and observations during the few visits made to your court. I am a Feanoriel – we do not always take advice. Just keep that in mind. We will only consider those of your descendants your council had not forced off the list of lords or into sworn virgin priestess-hood.

First, Vardamir Nolimon. You have already voiced to me concerns over his health and general disinterest in and stomach for courtly politicking. Current laws state that he is your heir apparent barring any misfortune. Your son is bright enough to know his own limits and I have no doubts that he would readily cede the sceptre to a more deserving heir.

Next in line is Amandil, who I must admit takes very much after you in his character. He is a natural leader and knows his own mind. However, he is also willing to listen to sound counsel when given. He has been a steadfast friend to the Eldar and has on occasion mediated in quarrels between the Eldar and Edain in Andunie. His house has already two sons in Elendil and Earendur. I understand that Elendil has already started to assist his atto in managing matters on the family estate despite his youth. Earendur is still too young for me to comment on his character.

Another grandson worthy of consideration is Prince Nolondil, who has made great strides in the development of agriculture and animal husbandry on Numenor. From what I hear from the birds, he has thus far treated his servants and other inhabitants on his lands with benevolence. However, as the laws of Numenor currently stand, it is unlikely he or his descendants will be considered in the running for the throne in the near future.

That said, it is always wise, considering mortality, to have a few princely lines in reserve if you are going to exclude all females from the throne. In the absence of sons, nephews may be considered as possible heirs. Having a set law for succession prevents those unfortunate messes I understand from Cousin Finrod used to plague the early Edain whenever a chieftain died.

I still disagree with the exclusion of females from the succession. I am of the opinion that Aunt Findis would have set the council in Tirion in order far sooner than Uncle Ara after the Darkening. You should also know your Aunt Galadriel was fully capable as a leader during the War of Wrath. Having the firstborn succeed also opens up the possibility of ending up with an inept or unsuitable ruler. Vardamir has raised this issue with me previously, putting forward his younger brothers as replacement heirs apparent before the council convinced them to renounce their titles. I suppose the Council of the Sceptre might help take up some of the slack in such cases. Pray that the people do not wind up with an inept ruler or worse, a tyrant, and a corrupt council at the same time. Once more I must stress the importance of retaining good advisors – not necessarily those who say what you wish to hear.  

Mornel Feanoriel

P.S. Eagles have reported that you are checking out likely sites for your final resting place at the foot of Meneltarma. Allow me to remind you the Noldor way is a pyre, the Sindar way is under a tree. Is it a bit too early to look for a grave-site, unless you are planning to adopt the Dwarvish custom of a stone tomb for the dead?

P.P.S. Feel free to disregard all the advice above and make up your own mind on the laws of your realm.


 

Second Age 400, Vingilot’s cabin

Dear Son

This is the first time I have written to you and I do so at your nana’s insistence. I am probably going about this all wrong and I will not blame you for burning the letter about now. My duties as Gil-Estel take up much of my time but I have had about four hundred years to consider what I should write to you about before your mortal fate catches up with you. First, my apologies for not being around when you and Elrond were elflings. Not sure if you still remember me – Golden hair, blue eyes. They tell me I look like a less brawny and weathered version of your grandfather Tuor whom you have met before.

I am told that you are now a great-grandfather and king. I see you and your offspring from afar when I sail past every night. I see your brother too back in the east but that is another matter. I really am proud of you for what you have achieved as a leader and the pains you have taken to be there for your offspring. To be honest, after my parents sailed west, I took to the waves to escape the burdens of having to lead a settlement, being a husband, and father to a young family. The adventures were a bonus of course. In the process, I have let everyone back home down. You, son, are a far better man than I.

It would appear that those Feanorions somehow brought you and your brother up right much to their credit. I would give them my thanks if Maedhros had not seen fit to lose whatever sanity he had left and thrown himself into a fiery chasm and Maglor take to haunting the shores of the Hither Lands. I really appreciate your attempt to include me in the family by having the little ones wave to me. Lady Vardilme still sings out a greeting to me when I sail past her shrine to Varda. No offense, but is this virgin hermit priestess thing taking it a bit too far? No offense to Lady Varda but I doubt she appreciates all the trouble your granddaughter goes to in paying homage to her and her husband. All those lit lamps must be a major fire hazard in that wooden shack. You may also wish to take note that she seems to be influencing her niece Mairen with her tiresome piety.

I am pleased to witness Earendur, son of Amandil, venture on his first all-night fishing trip with his brother. The lad has the makings of a mariner about him. Skilful recovery after the boat capsized thanks to that whale. His brother is perhaps not so much into the sea. However, I do wonder if it is wise in hindsight to have both of Amandil’s sons (and heirs) in the same boat out at sea during whale migration season at night. It would seem that Lord Ulmo’s Maiar enjoy making sport of your great-grandsons.  

Fine, I know next to nothing about you except that I messed up being a father to you and your brother. If you and your household are sick of me spying on you, tell me so and I will go back to watching over Elrond - who is kind of a bore (even for an elf), being stuck in that library in Lindon and will likely remain single until Arda breaks.

Your Adar, Earendil the Mariner, better known as Gil-Estel

Chapter Text

Second Age 412, Mittalmar

“Yavien Nolondiel, do you take this man as your spouse?” the priest muttered.

“I certainly do,” the bride proudly thrust her very expectant belly out at the poor man.

“Then may the Valar’s blessings be upon you and yours…”

White apple blossoms rained down in abundance over the couple like the blessings of the Valar. Lady Yavanna clearly approved of their union.

Her groom grinned awkwardly and scratched his head. In all aspects, the wedding had gone well enough. Prince Oromendil had set out from his father’s house the night before with the aim of beating up his steward over the seduction of his sister. Oddly, the pair later ended up drinking a toast to the bride and the baby’s health. The royal court was scandalised when Lady Yavien announced she was with child several months back and the identity of the baby’s father.

Mornel glanced over to the few royals and elves in attendance. Eldalote had a bemused expression on her face. She had come to Prince Nolondil’s to see how the crops and animals were flourishing. Serelinde, Helwien, and Mornel deemed it proper to offer the bride any support she might need since most of her kinswomen had refused to attend the wedding. Elros was unable to disentangle himself from his duties in the capital and sent Princes Amandil and Elendil to attend on his behalf.

“Lady Yavanna must be pleased at least one princess decided to wed and be bountiful, though not necessarily in that order,” Helwien observed tartly. “Too bad with that vow, she’s no longer one.” Lady Mairen seemed set to follow her aunt Vardilme into priestess-hood and celibacy.

“It’s not in the way of the Edain to plan when to have their children,” Mornel explained. “Their customs for marriage are different from the Eldar. This child will be loved all the same.” Yavien was a determined young woman with a strong will. Her new family would prosper under her care.

Prince Nolondil had come to terms with his daughter’s decision and gifted the couple a small cottage on his lands so that his grandchild might live in some comfort. Her royal cousins and brothers’ reactions ran the gamut from quiet acceptance to fierce condemnation.  

“I hear from my law-brother that they may take more than one spouse, sometimes while the other still lived,” Eldalote added. “The matrimonial bond is not absolute as it is for the Eldar, it would seem.” She gave an apologetic glance at Serelinde, who shrugged. Her union with Prince Earlindo was widely accepted by now but some conservative elves still thought it immoral they wed while her former spouse was not yet in Mandos. Finrod was the foremost expert in the ways of the Secondborn and had written several treatises on their customs based on his observations in Beleriand.

“Imagine if I told Moryo I would not have him when he gets back from Mandos!” Helwien said.  

“Didn’t you already tell him so in kicking him out of your workshop during the Darkening?” Eldalote corrected.

“If he stuck around long enough, I would probably start feeling sorry for him and take him back in…” Helwien conceded. “You know those poor-doggy eyes…”

“Hey, he’s not some puppy…” Mornel laughed. “Yet I wonder… how does one know if they have indeed found their soulmate and what recourse there is for those unions where they turned out to be mistaken?”

The Edain had gathered to dance on the green after the wedding toasts. This wedding was very different from the formal ceremonies of the court Mornel had attended previously in Numenor. The groom kissed his bride passionately amidst cheers from the guests. He then patted his wife’s belly before dropping a light kiss on it. The bride’s royal family held themselves slightly apart from the festivities as befitted their rank but it did not stop Prince Oromendil from indulging in a quick reel with a young shepherdess.

“I hear from Lindo the council has been pestering the king to take a new wife,” Serelinde whispered. “For they say he has been long without one. He has refused.”

“And will continue refusing until it comes time for him to be reunited with his love beyond the Circles of Arda,” Mornel added. “In that his Eldar blood shows.”

“Is there a reason as to why only nissi have chosen to attend this wedding?” Prince Elendil asked as he strolled over to them. The strong cider coloured his cheeks a flaming red and slurred his words.

“Aye, my husband has been delayed teaching your brother Earendur the finer points of navigation off Andustar,” Serelinde explained.

“My cousin Arakano Nolofinwion has been detained in the capital with discussions over the governance of the Elven quarter in Andunie,” Mornel added. “Four nissi should be more than enough elves to grace any wedding. We felt it better for us to support our Adan sister in her time of need but as it turned out, this is not required.”

“Indeed, I hear much of the formidable Lady Galadriel from my great-grandfather. And my own foremother Luthien… Perhaps our sisters are far from the wilting flowers we imagine them to be,” Elendil agreed with a laugh. “Tell me, Lady Mornel. Do you see any Ruling Queens in our future?”

Mornel laughed. “I do see queens a-plenty for kings often do take wives. As to whether any will rule in their own right, perhaps…” Mornel paused.

Three shining birds in the sky, changing into three women crowned. The first wore the plain garb of a shepherdess in spite of the crown on her head. Unlike the carefree shepherdesses at the wedding feast, bitterness marked her features, turning them cruel as a hawk’s. The second was tall and stately. Her manner was distant and aloof. She reminded Mornel of the painted swans on the walls of Alqualonde. Clad in peacock silks, the third woman whirled light-hearted and careless in her dance. She did not notice when her crown fell to the grass and was trampled upon.

Wait, there were two other women in the shadows behind the three. One held her shawl to her face as if weeping in grief. The other stood determined, a fillet of mithril on her brow. She reminded Mornel of a falcon in the fierceness of her glare. She would be a formidable queen indeed.

I am no queen, the words danced on her lips like the whisper of a smile.

In that heartbeat Mornel knew.

“There will be always be strong women in the bloodline of Elros, and much joy and sorrow with the passing of time. Some will lead, for better or worse. Others may fall to the wayside lost. I will speak no further on this matter, Elendil. You will know what is needed, in due time,” Mornel replied.


 

All was calm on Earlindo’s vessel as the party of elves headed home to Aman. Helwien and Eldalote were never the best of sailors. Both had retreated below to rest. Serelinde plucked at her harp while Mornel drowsed in the sunshine. Arakano and Earlindo busied themselves with the business of sailing the vessel.

“Mornel, would you know the strangest thing? I think I had a vision during my meeting with Elros,” Arakano joined Mornel in the bow. Arakano was not particularly noted for his foresight. On the contrary, most elves would accuse him of lacking it entirely.

“What vision might that be, cousin? I hope it is not caused by strong drink,” Mornel teased.

“Well, we were discussing the layout of the new sector of the Eldar Quarter and I was just looking at that ring on his finger – you know, the one originally from Finrod’s House, when I thought I saw not our nephew wearing it but a woman. Quite striking lady, I must add… it might be some descendant of his house… looked very much like him…” Arakano shrugged. “Or it might be the infernal heat in that room.”  

Mornel only smiled and trilled out a greeting to an adventurous songbird who had ventured far out to sea. It now alit on their vessel for a rest and hopefully a ride home. I look forward to meeting you, falcon-princess.

Chapter Text

Second Age 420, Armenelos

“Lady Russa… we thank you for your gift…” Elros took the red-haired sculptress’ hands in his, his voice breaking with emotion. Mornel waited patiently outside in the hallway. She had seen the two small items her amme so lovingly packed in her chest. Two small statuettes of the eldest sons of Feanor, as she remembered them before the Darkening. They were not entirely Maedhros or Maglor, even though she had hidden Maitimo’s right hand in the folds of his cloak. Nerdanel simply could not capture the weariness and scars as Mornel had witnessed on her brothers.

A short while later, her mother stepped out into the hall.

“That went well. How is our little fool?”

“Feeling sorry for himself. Finrod’s sitting up with him,” Mornel grinned wickedly at the glimpse she had caught of her luckless cousin puking into a chamber-pot as Finrod nonchalantly held his braids up to keep them clean. “I will prepare some tisane for him, later…”


 

Earlier that day…

When Mornel heard from her Lindar friend Surialdo Tinwion that her amil had gone to Numenor to work on project under the epesse Russa, she thought he was pulling her leg. Yet Nerdanel had indeed gone to Numenor with Earlindo to accept a commission from the royal court. Five months later, a formal invitation was extended to the royal houses of the Eldar to attend the unveiling of a statue of Earendil in the Armenelos’ Golden Square. Ingwe did not bother replying. Arafinwe sent his nephew Arakano to attend in an official capacity. Olwe’s youngest son volunteered given his role as the Lindar’s ambassador to Numenor. He thought it would be good for Mornel to meet her amil again after so many years apart.

So that was how Mornel came to be standing next to her amme on a balcony overlooking the square. As was Mornel’s preference, she had worn a very utilitarian smock and leggings instead of the formal robes worn by the official envoys. She had been surprised to learn Finrod had been staying in Andustar’s Elven quarter for the past year to work on a treatise on Numenorean society.

“So that is Elros? I never had a chance to meet him in person,” Nerdanel murmured. “Who’s that grey-haired man on his right?”

“That’s his heir Vardamir,” Finrod interjected. “On Elros’ left is his grandson Amandil.” Amandil’s three children were seated in the royal pavilion. Earendur was holding a conversation with Prince Earlindo, no doubt on things nautical, while Elendil fidgeted with his circlet. The princess Mairen was garbed in an exceptionally austere manner for her age and rank. She reminded Mornel of Aunt Findis the way she observed the happenings around her with silent disapproval.

“I heard there were two other sons who lived…” Nerdanel asked.

“Oh, if you look near that fruit-stall over there, you will see his third son, Manwedil, his sons, and their sons. Over by that yellow wagon is Elros’ youngest Atanalcar and his family.”

“Good Manwe, all two dozen of them are his?”

“I believe some might be his grandchildren,” Finrod laughed. “Oh, the one-handed man with them is Aulendil, Amandil’s younger brother. I understand from gossip that he had an accident in his workshop last winter.”

“He seems to be coping well,” Mornel noted as she observed him joking with his cousins. “I see the princely house of Nolondil has joined the royal pavilion. He has brought his sons as well…”

“Is it just me or does Arako look a bit unsteady on his feet?” Finrod pointed at the royal pavilion where the Eldar envoys were seated for the unveiling.   

Amandil stood and gave a speech on the family’s history, from the union of Earendil’s parents - Tuor and Idril. The Kinslaying in Sirion was glossed over but Mornel noted how a shadow passed her amil’s face during that part of the speech. Little mention was made of the role her sons had in raising young Elros. Earendil and Elwing’s journey to Valinor to seek the Valar’s aid was described in much detail, as was Earendil’s role in killing the terrible dragon during the War of Wrath.

Elros rose to unveil the statue amidst much cheering. That was when Arakano stirred from his liquor-induced torpor.  

“Y-you left out the good bits of the dragon-slaying. Earendil was like this and…” the drunk elf clambered out of his seat and strode up to the pedestal past Elros. Along the way he grabbed a flagstaff from a stunned page.

Everyone was busy gawping at the drunk elf’s antics. Even the guards made no move to stop him. Earlindo hastened to prevent his companion from disgracing himself further. Arakano whirled the staff and whacked himself square in the face. As he stumbled on the hem of his robes, he yanked the canvas off Nerdanel’s statue, revealing Earendil in all his glory at the helm of his vessel with a bird on his shoulder. Tittering laughter ran through the spectators at the sight of the unconscious elf. The statue was quite overlooked.  

“It wasn’t one of my best works, I must admit… I had a deadline to meet,” Nerdanel shrugged.

“Oh, the fool must have been drinking that brain-rotting liquor,” Mornel observed tartly. She had some words for her cousin later, and they are not entirely polite.

“My atto will not be amused… I know Aunt Anaire will not.”

Finrod whipped out his harp and started singing a song of glamour, enough to befuddle the memories of most of the witnesses to save whatever was left of his cousin’s dignity. Earlindo threw Arakano over his shoulder like a sack of grain and bore him away from the crowd. Of course, the glamour had little effect on Elros and his family. Elros was trying to decide whether to act suitably outraged or break out into a less-than-regal fit of chuckles. He settled for laughter in the end.


 

“He asked after them, you know… whether they have returned to Valinor…” Nerdanel said as they prepared for bed in the guest suite. It would be a long time before Maedhros or Maglor would return, even if they wished it so. Mornel nodded as she combed her hair.

“May they meet again with the Second Music,” Mornel replied. There was little hope of Elros meeting them during his mortal lifetime. There has been little news of Maglor’s whereabouts. No doubt he still haunted the shores of Middle-earth with his grief and sorrow.

“I have given Finrod the medicine for hangovers to be administered to Arakano tomorrow morning. Hopefully, it would keep him on his feet for the return trip to Andustar. Will you be coming with us, Lady Russa?”

“Aye, my daughter. My commission here is done with and I would love to get some decent oysters. Nowhere could you find better shellfish than Alqualonde. Sweet dreams…” Nerdanel settled back against her pillows.

“Sweet dreams,” Mornel blew out the lamp. Lying in bed, she did not immediately slip into reverie but pondered on the fates of her father and brothers. Perhaps she might try appealing to Lord Manwe’s mercy. Or did they have no wish to return?  


 

Excerpt from Mornel’s Journal:

No news has been received from Lord Namo on the return of my brothers and cousins from Mandos, though we have petitioned the Valar for mercy. Perhaps they are not yet ready. Or perhaps they do not wish to return. Perhaps they fear to return.

I know many might blame my eldest brothers and shun them as Kinslayers. Yet amme and I know that at least one of the foster-sons will welcome them back with open arms when they meet again.  

Chapter Text

Second Age 440, Armenelos

Dearest Aunt Mornel

Forgive me for my tardiness in writing to you. Things have been somewhat chaotic about my court in recent times. Too many young bucks and too little sense left in the old guards.

Most of my first and second generation of councillors have passed and even though old Beaky is still hanging it there, I doubt he will be advising me for long. Now he spends more time drooling in his sleep at the council table. I still recall when his atto brought him to the palace as a young sapling of five years and he bawled his eyes out from boredom. We are currently on our third, and in some cases fourth, generation of councillors. I have also noticed the first grey hairs on my hair. Despite all my attempts to grow a beard as magnificent as the late Lord Sorondil’s, my chin is still hairless. Ah well…

Perhaps it is a sign of my impending mortal frailty that I am digressing into beard-braids instead of the matter at hand. Please do not mistake this for any reluctance on my part for the Gift of Men offered by Iluvatar. Rather it is the worry that this entire island might crumble into the sea without a steady hand. I am considering bypassing my son Vardamir, who has more grey in his hair now than I, in favour of Amandil. However, the Council of the Sceptre advises against this. Methinks they would prefer Vardamir as king. I do not wish to break with a long-established Edain tradition and possibly cause a riot. At the same time, I fear my son might beat me to taking the Gift given his faltering health. He has not been the same since his wife passed beyond the Circles of Arda.

I have decided to attempt training my son in kingly matters before passing beyond Arda within the next few years. Do you have something for aching joints? I seem to have developed pains in my knees and back which make the thrice-yearly treks up Meneltarma a growing pain.

We thank you for your advice through the years on running a council and the many gifts from Aman. I know you have a policy of non-interference, but would you mind helping Vardamir out a bit in the days after I pass? I fear that he might be bullied by some of the more aggressive members of the Council.

I am stopping here as my eyes and hand are getting tired.

Elros Tar-Minyatur

P.S. I have checked up on the bloodlines of the more troublesome councillors. They aren’t in any way related to me or any Eldar by blood or marriage. Appreciate if bloodshed might be avoided, but please do what you judge best for my legacy.  


 

Second Age 440, Formenos

Dear Elros

Depopulating your council is not the way for your successor to make a lasting impact on your legacy. I have already been warned repeatedly not to meddle in your court and I have complete faith in your heir apparent and his heir. Have you chosen a date yet to pass? I hope that you have already worked things out with your parents and friends. I was a bit disappointed to learn none of Prince Earendur’s ships were fit for sailing back to Middle-Earth and none have arrived from there.

I really believe Elrond should have been keeping in touch, unless he is so deeply buried in his scrolls even an army of dwarves could not dig him out. Perhaps you might like to leave a letter with us for him when he sails to Valinor or otherwise. I have consulted with Master Olorin about any adverse effects of shutting oneself away from fresh air and sunshine (or starlight) to no avail. Cousin Arakano is of the opinion lack of light and fresh air will cause the fea to part company with the hroa (not that he has any reason to test out his hypothesis yet). If this is true, perhaps we should not be too surprised if Elrond’s fea decides to drop in on Lord Namo.

Regarding those ships, your atto has requested that I enclose some plans on shipbuilding from him with this letter. He is heartily sick of watching Earendur and his crew swim back to the island after his vessels sank. It might take a while to decipher the writing. Lord Cirdan did not believe in waterproofing his plans and it could be quite damp out there in the clouds.

We heard from Prince Earlindo that your great-grandson Axantur has been appointed to the Council in his father Nolondil’s stead, leaving him free to pursue his interest in sheep-breeding. We hope that Lord Axantur will be of aid to his grandfather in compiling the laws of the realm. It is no mean feat. It took fifty cycles of the sun (and three smashed council tables) before we agreed on the first draft of laws governing workshop waste disposal in Formenos.

Perhaps it would be wise to retire the less mentally competent to their family estates and send the more quarrelsome councillors on a census-taking tour about the island to count sheep or something. Better still, have those feisty bucks test out Earendur’s vessels for seaworthiness. That would leave the more able and steadier heads sitting in the council.

May the blessings of the Valar be upon you and your house.

Mornel Feanoriel

P.S. If you intend to invite us for your passing, please allow us at least two months’ notice. Not that Fearocco is slow, but it takes that long to put matters in order in Formenos during my absence.


 

Second Age 441, Armenelos

Dear Aunt Mornel

I am writing to invite you to my abdication and passing in lieu of my parents. I have checked with my Nana but she refused to be present. We also agreed it would be a logistical mess having me pass on a ship. Vardamir would probably be seasick and that would really mess up the ceremony of handing over the Sceptre. I would have extended an invitation to Maglor but I do not know where he is now. I have also invited Uncle Finrod and Earlindo. I have asked my grandparents but they declined. I humbly request that Uncle Arakano be banned from the ceremony in light of that incident at the public unveiling of my Ada’s statue in Andunie back in S.A. 420. If he must come, please keep him away from the hard liquor. I doubt the nobles will be impressed by his impression of a dragon-slayer.

I have already completed my mausoleum in one of Meneltarma’s restful valleys. Vardamir has already sent masons to start building his tomb beside mine. I have also given instructions to have my Melleth re-interred by my side. My son probably has similar plans regarding his wife. Perhaps we should have made it possible by law for the queens of Numenor to be interred in their husband’s tomb first if they took the Gift earlier so that we could forgo all the trouble of having to dig them up afterwards. Amandil is also surveying a potential site for himself and his wife. In time, we can expect this quiet valley Noirinan to be the resting place of the rulers of Numenor.

By all counts I seem to be taking this a little too calmly according to my advisors. I think the fear of the Gift is overrated. I have been about for close to 500 years and I think I earned myself the chance to go beyond Arda, and leave any mess to my sons and grandchildren to deal with. I would really like to go out with a glass of miruvor in hand and listening to some lovely harp music. Would you know how to play the composition ‘Beyond the Stars’? Maglor played it for Elrond and I when we were little to keep the nightmares away. 

Elros Tar-Minyatur

P.S. Do keep Uncle Arakano away, or at least away from the liquor.


 

Second Age 441, Finrod’s vineyard

Dear King Elros

I have received your invitation and will be glad to attend at your deathbed. It sounds really restful and in excellent taste. Needless to say, my death was immensely unpleasant and painful. Sauron is such a poor host. I will bring my harp and play for you as a former king to a current one. I played at the deathbed of my friend Beor when he passed of old age though I thought 93 years was a little premature. Amarie and our son will not attend but I doubt death is catching. It’s just a silly Vanyarin superstition but I have to keep on my law-parents’ good side after that debacle involving my only son and his pet wolves in their sheep-pen. The pet wolves were Lord Orome’s idea, not mine. Daughters would be so much more manageable, I suppose, unless they are like Cousin Irisse.

I will also bring over the vintage miruvor I have been saving for a special occasion. Uncle Earlindo sends his apologies but his wife is expecting again and the elfling is due about then. They hope it will be the long-awaited daughter. Perhaps I should try for one with Amarie but I digress. Do not worry too much about Cousin Arakano. He has been sent to Valmar with our grandmother with the hopes a stint in Ingwe’s court as a scribe will cure him of his waywardness, or he might just try jumping out the window to get away from the bores there. His Majesty Ingwe has lost a dozen scribes that way.

I do not know if this will mean anything to you but I hear from reliable sources that your Uncles Amrod and Amras might be slated for a return from Mandos, alongside Ingwe’s granddaughters, if Lord Namo relents and allows it. From what I hear from Master Olorin, the nissi absolutely refused to return without their beloveds. The High King is currently appealing to have them (your twin redhead uncles, not his granddaughters) locked up in the deepest hall in Mandos. Apologies, I am unable to get any news on your other twin uncles despite nosing about Lady Vaire’s Halls. Not even Amarie’s strawberry tartlets could persuade any of her handmaidens to talk. Perhaps they took the mortal route too.

Shall I bring over a batch of strawberry tartlets to go with the miruvor? Or perhaps it might be better to fast beforehand so you do not soil yourself in passing. Something about the hroa’s reaction to the fea leaving. Andreth the Wise did explain it to me once but I should not bore you with the details on dying.

I have a new arrangement of ‘Wings over the Sea’ I would like you to hear before you go, once I persuade Cousin Mornel to sing it.

Finrod Felagund, former king of Nargothrond

P.S. I will still bring over some pastries for your family in case they get hungry during the ceremonies.

Chapter Text

Excerpt from Mornel’s Journal:

Even now it never fails to surprise me how much the Secondborn can change in so little time. Perhaps time in Aman flows at a different rate, one day being the same as the one preceding it. Elros has aged much since we last met. His step is no longer as steady. His hair is now streaked with grey and his hands tremble slightly. Half-elven he may be, but Elros has grown old. It seems like only yesterday he was playing at warriors and dragons with his brother in Amon Ereb.

Sometimes I wonder about Elrond of which little word has reached us or Numenor from the Hither Shores. Having chosen the path of the Eldar, he is bound to Arda. No doubt Gil-galad and Galadriel will guide him along until he finds his place. Strange that Master Eonwe did not offer any post for Elrond but I guess he was meant to forge his own path as an Elf. I wonder what would have happened if Elros had only taken the mortal choice but not the kingship. Would he have been happier? Would his family be happier? Would the Edain be better for it? We do not know. The Numenoreans have prospered under his rule and it ends at dusk. 


 

Second Age 442, King’s Court, Armenelos

“Truly, Cousin, I cannot believe you got me to sing that song with you…” Blushing furiously, Mornel whispered to the blond ellon beside her.

“I can be very persuasive, no?” Glorfindel chuckled. Finrod grinned impishly. It had started off harmlessly enough as a ballad sung between Glorfindel and Mornel to Finrod’s accompaniment on the harp. Then Glorfindel decided to substitute some of the verses with more risqué ones that had those in the audience familiar with Quenya sniggering.

“We agreed to sing Wings over the Sea, the traditional version,” Mornel corrected.

“Well, the king enjoyed it,” Glorfindel winked. It was their cousin’s first visit to Numenor and he was making the most of it. The blond Balrog-slayer had sworn fealty to Turgon’s line in his first life. He was keen to see how the mortal bloodline of Earendil turned out, in between sharing embarrassing tales of young Earendil over Finrod’s best vintage.

“He is very much like Turgon, don’t you agree?” Glorfindel remarked as Elros stepped out into the garden. His heir Vardamir and his grandson Amandil walked on either side of him as he strode forward. The waiting lords of the Council parted for them to pass. Elros wore his crown and royal mantle. In his hands was the Sceptre of Numenor. His son and grandson were sombrely clad in their formal robes.

A bier had been set under the branches of Nimloth, facing into the west. By the fading light of Vasa, the trio approached the tree and the bier. In silence, Elros removed his crown and handed it to his son, who placed it upon a waiting cushion held by a servant. The king unclasped his heavy mantle and handed it to his grandson, who folded it over his arm. Underneath the mantle he wore a plain robe of Telerin design.

“Friends, kinsfolk, and my loyal subjects,” Elros’ voice broke the silence. “I have ruled this realm for 410 years by the Valar’s grace and the time has come for me to pass the Sceptre on to my heir, Vardamir Nolimon.”

Vardamir slowly knelt and allowed his father to pass the sceptre to him.

“Rise, my son. Now I will take my death.”

Vardamir rose shakily, sceptre in his hands. Amandil assisted his grandfather in getting onto the raised bier under Nimloth. With a contented sigh, Elros laid his head down upon the silken pillow, closed his eyes and motioned for Mornel to approach. Mornel nodded, took a seat at the foot of the bier, and started strumming her harp. She was joined by Finrod on his.

As the first stars dotted the night sky, Elros Tar-Minyatur passed beyond the Circles of Arda.

Now the interesting part starts… the elves exchanged glances.


 

A few hours earlier…

Elros was resting in his chambers, as he now tired easily. Leaving the arrangements of the ceremony to the king’s household, the elven guests had retreated to the parlour for a game of chess between Glorfindel and Mornel. Finrod amused himself playing his harp.

“I cannot do it! To rule as king after my atar…”

The elves looked up at the outburst as the gilded doors were thrown open.

Vardamir strode into the parlour, his robes askew. Finrod nonchalantly dusted a speck of dirt off Vardamir’s sleeve and straightened his circlet. It would not be proper for the Heir-apparent to go about dishevelled.

“My atto is a great man, a great king… I cannot possibly match…” the prince wrung his hands.

“Truly, you are not your atar,” Mornel remarked blandly as she captured Glorfindel’s pawn.

“You might continue for a few decades given your Elvish blood. Should be enough time to grow into it…” Finrod reassured.

“I cannot. I am too old for this. Why, I have even more grey hairs than my atto!”

“Actually, it is more silver and quite fair to look upon,” Finrod quipped. “Elu Thingol had silver hair, and my Nana…”

Vardamir only groaned in response.

“Have you spoken with your atar about this?” Mornel interjected.

“I can’t possibly let him down like this…”

“Once he passes the Sceptre to you, you are free to pass it on even if you are not taking your death yet. My own brother abdicated, handing the crown of the Noldor in Exile onto the line of my uncle Nolofinwe,” Mornel observed. “Speak with him when he awakes from his nap. I am sure a solution can be reached.”


 

Mornel stole a glance at the discarded hroa upon the bier. Elros looked so old and tired without the vitality of his fea. It seemed the body might just crumble under the slightest touch. Now all eyes were upon his heir, no, the new king – Tar-Vardamir. Glorfindel was grinning. Finrod was smiling quietly.

“My people, it is with great honour that I accept the Sceptre but alas, I find I am ill-suited for the rigours of kingship,” Vardamir’s voice rose over the hubbub of confused voices. “Numenor needs the vigour of a much younger man to rule her and I am old. I hereby abdicate and hand the Sceptre to my son and heir, Amandil!”

Well done, my prince, Mornel nodded her approval as Vardamir handed the sceptre to a surprised Amandil despite much protest and outcry from the lords of the council.

It is over. Elros has passed where the Eldar cannot follow. Uncle Ara, among others, demands we return to Aman as soon as the burial is over. We have meddled more than enough in the matters of the Edain. Earendil will not be happy he missed the last glimpse of his son as Elros passed before Gil-Estel reached its zenith. He also missed the burial which occurred during the day. I think I will really miss my adopted mortal nephew. Cousin Finrod reassured me that I will get over it, just as he came to terms with the passing of his many mortal friends in the First Age. Elros left me a sealed letter and a lock of his hair for his twin when Elrond eventually comes to Aman. I hope they will keep until then.


 

Second Age 443, Forostar, Numenor

Dear Lady Mornel

It took some time to convince them but the Council is finally accepting my decision to abdicate. It also helped that I refused to attend any of their tiresome meetings and they are sick of camping outside my library in Forostar in the hopes I will emerge to accept the crown. They do not know of the secret passage from my library to the cellars of my son Aulendil’s house. Perhaps they think I have taken my death already between my scrolls. The thought is a little appealing but I would rather spare my children that.

The council will proceed with the coronation of Amandil next month, which I think is a bit late since it has been close to a year since I abdicated. Amandil has been awfully busy but he sends Elendil to visit me at his uncle’s place. With his and Axantur’s aid, we have finally compiled the laws of the realm (first edition) and my son can present them at the next council meeting after his coronation. 

Elendil assures me the invitations to the Eldar nobles have been sent out. He handed them personally to Lord Glorfindel of the Golden Flower the last time he was in Andunie. We understand from the councillors that they will still be including me on the list of kings for all my pains. Tar-Vardamir, second king of Numenor. Maybe I did not abdicate fast enough. Still, I am willing to advise my successor if required but I think Amandil has gotten the entire business of ruling well under control. He has recently proposed a Forestry Act to replenish the trees cut down for timber. Seedlings from fragrant trees grown on the western shores of the island will be planted in other places of the kingdom.

The climate of Forostar is not exactly agreeable with me and I intend to return to Armenelos once the coronation is over. It is the wind. Though it does discourage many nobles and their servants from camping out on my doorstep, the cold does get to my bones. As for my passing, when it eventually comes, I would prefer it in a private setting attended to by close family and friends.

Vardamir

P.S. Thank you for the tapestries. They really brighten up my library. 

Chapter Text

Second Age 471, Armenelos

Dear Prince Earlindo

I am writing to inform you of the passing of my father Vardamir in the early hours of the morning. He requests that King’s Olwe’s collection of elven lore on extended loan from Alqualonde since S.A. 421 be returned to your people as he has finished transcribing all 500 scrolls. An Adunaic version is currently being compiled by my son Elendil. My father passed beyond the Circles of this world with great dignity and peace. It was a private affair at his request with only his family in attendance. We had some trouble with some nosy lords but my sons sent them over to my sister’s place for a 3 hour lecture on not interfering with the will of the Valar. They have not been back since. If we are lucky, they might have chosen to take their deaths from boredom. Overly-pious high priestesses can be very useful.

Yours in friendship

Tar-Amandil


 

Second Age 471, Armenelos

Dear Lady Mornel

I have received on behalf of my late father the books on healing you sent. Regrettably, my father has passed beyond the Circles of Arda as of dawn yesterday. In the past year, he has grown increasingly forgetful and we are not too surprised he has forgotten about the loan request he made last month. Elendil has volunteered to transcribe the contents on his grandfather’s behalf. It may take a while but we hope to be able to return the books to you within ten cycles of the Sun.

I have requested several court scribes to be re-assigned to my son to assist him in the translation and compilation of my father’s scrolls and books. Despite the best efforts to educate our subjects and encourage the learning of the Elvish Quenya, we find that many still prefer using Adunaic with an odd smattering of Sindarin from contact with the sailors of Tol Eressea. We note that Easterling dialects are effectively extinct in the realm. I do recall I had an old nurse when I was a child who spoke one of them fluently. However, scholars also noted that many of the Andunaic words used have their roots in Easterling tongues. My son has carried out a census on the population in S.A. 450 and found that prevalent language used by commoners in the realm is Adunaic, closely followed by Sindarin. Quenya seems destined to remain a language of the court.  

Yours in friendship

Tar-Amandil


 

Second Age 471, Formenos

Dear Amandil

I am sorry to hear of the passing of your father but we have faith that he accepted the Gift of Men in peace as bestowed by Iluvatar. About that loan of books, please feel free to keep them for as long as necessary as we have another copy in Formenos courtesy of our hardworking scribes. As to the little digression into languages, I have some clarifications I would like to make.

The language most commonly used on Tol Eressea now is Sindarin due to the number of inhabitants who sailed here from Beleriand after the War. It should be no surprise it is the language of commerce in Numenor given the visitors from Tol Eressea. The elves of the mainland are much less inclined to sail from Aman at the current moment, apart from the odd diplomatic mission from Tirion.

My cousin Finrod is of the opinion that Adunaic is derived from the Hadorian tongue, related to now extinct Beorian. It may be noted, however, that a Beorian-influenced dialect of Adunaic is spoken in the western part of the island. He also notes influences from Avarin, Sindarin, and Khuzdul. Please find enclosed a copy of his thesis on the evolution of Edain tongues in the First Age and his observations in Second Age Numenor. About that old nurse of yours, Nimleth, she spoke Haladin, not an Easterling dialect.

As for trying to educate the populace in the Elvish tongue, though commendable, it might prove easier to educate them in Sindarin first since that is the common tongue for commerce in Andunie. Even among the elves of Tol Eressea, Quenya is considered a high tongue for courtly and official usage. That considered, it may be more feasible to include both Quenya and Sindarin as official court languages, but that is just my humble opinion.  

Yours in patience

Mornel Feanoriel


 

Second Age 511, Armenelos

Dear Lady Mornel

Thank you for the kind loan of the histories and customs of the pre-Journey elves as recorded from the oral traditions by Rumil and transcribed into Quenya from the old runes. We will be returning the Royal Chronicles of Tirion to you as enclosed.  It is indeed a great tragedy that the birth of the greatest of the Eldar should cause such grief and discontent yet we cannot help but wonder if there is a greater plan to it in the Song.

There is much pressure on me to wed after the recent wedding of my younger brother but I have yet to find my special One. Perhaps I may forgo marriage entirely and pass the sceptre to the son of my brother. I spend way too much time in the library as did my grandfather. There are few ladies here to distract the scholars. No, there is an intelligent lady of singular beauty who works in the scriptorium – if only I could find the courage to ask her out. I do not want her to go out with me just because I am a prince. I doubt she even notices me as I dress the same as the other scribes in old smocks. It is the ink. It will ruin one’s good clothes in no time.

Your friend always

Elendil


 

Second Age 511, Tirion on Tuna

Dear Elendil

Ask her out. She would not know you are the prince unless someone (or you) tells her so. Poetry might help break the ice if you are so inclined. Flowers too. Or do you have a good book or tale to share? It is a laugh coming from me. Most of my suitors flee the other way eventually. It is the Feanorian bloodline that puts them off.

I have compiled some suggestions from nosy distant relations of yours who could not understand your letter to me was meant to be private. Finrod suggests flowers, music, and poetry by starlight on a balcony. Lady Anaire suggests an official matchmaker should be sent to her house to approach her parents for her hand at once. No one could resist a chance to marry a daughter into the royal household. Arakano suggests a boat ride around the island, just the two of you. I think that would only work out if you are an able seaman. Being seasick in front of the lady would not weigh in your favour. Neither would sinking the ship. Stick with the flowers, poetry, and music. Wait, forget the music. You seem to have regrettably inherited your grandfather’s tone-deafness.

Supportively yours,

Mornel Feanoriel

Chapter Text

Second Age 522, Armenelos

“Arakano, Glorfindel, what in the name of Lord Manwe is so funny?” Mornel asked as both Noldor all but bent over with laughter over a copy of the official notice being distributed by the royal House of Numenor to their guests for tomorrow’s naming ceremony.

“Amandil will have that scribe’s hide. Lord Mornel as foster father to the princess…” Glorfindel spluttered. “It must be those leggings you insist on wearing outside the palace… And that very severe formal robe. Only Cousin Maeglin exceeds your taste for austerity.”

Mornel laughed along with her cousins. She never saw the need for gold embroidery and gems. A functional set of dark blue robes with a bit of silver thread at the hem was enough for her. Somehow she had thwarted all attempts by the Noldoran’s tailors to style a ‘proper’ set of formal robes for her. By comparison, Glorfindel’s robe shone like the sun with the amount of gold thread on it. Arakano’s cornflower-blue robes glittered with silver thread throughout with an opal at the collar. 

The issue of fostering the children of the royal house had never arisen for Mornel until now. However, it would appear that this was a common practice among the Edain which Elros had adopted. Foster-parents not only teach the children, it was also a way to cement closer ties between their families. Out of political consideration, Elros’ and his heir’s children were fostered by members of the Edain nobility. Prince Earlindo was invited to stand as Prince Elendil’s foster father at his naming ceremony. However, the pair were never close, unlike Elros and his foster-fathers. There were a few letters exchanged and the occasional visit, but that was it. Elendil was simply not into all things maritime like his younger brother.

Elros had honoured his foster-fathers in secret, given Eldar sensitivities about the Kinslayers. Two statuettes of Maglor and Maedhros were set in niches in the private quarters of the King’s House during Elros’ lifetime. The statuettes had since disappeared from the palace. There was a statue of Lord Cirdan in the harbour of Romenna in the east, and one of Lord Earendil and Lady Elwing (as a bird) in the city square of Armenelos.

“Had any of the princesses been fostered before?” Mornel asked as she watched four servants struggle with Amandil’s ceremonial throne in preparation for the ceremony.

“None that I know of,” Arakano shrugged. “I suppose the Council did not think it necessary. There is talk, however, that Amandil might change the laws to allow the firstborn to take the sceptre, regardless of gender. In which case you might be fostering a future queen.”

“I seriously doubt there is any truth in that,” Mornel idly held out her finger for a sparrow to perch on.

A foremother to future kings, long after Numenor…

“Ah, my lords!” a portly nobleman came scurrying towards the trio. Arakano made a face and muttered some excuse about needing the privy, beating a hasty exit. Glorfindel strode over to offer his aid in getting the throne in place, leaving Mornel with the noble known as Amandil’s Chief Advisor.

“It is such an honour to have an elf lord as foster-father to Elendil’s firstborn,” he gushed with his whiskers flapping like a pair of wings.

“Actually…” Mornel tried to correct the noble but he continued rambling on.

“I am sure she will be a beauty when she grows up, with all that elvish magic. Is there any truth to Amandil thinking of changing the laws of succession? I am sure you must agree with me that that is utter nonsense. Still, I do have a grandson, fine lad who will be the perfect playmate to the princess when she is older… you know, just to let them get to know…”

After several attempts to interrupt the old man, Mornel finally gave up and allowed him to prattle on until another councillor came along for a discussion with the Chief Advisor over a new bill. 


 Excerpt from Mornel’s journal

The naming ceremony went well enough I suppose, if one were to discount Cousin Arako’s puking in the punch bowl. Glorfindel did promise to keep an eye on him when they accepted that invitation to Prince Earendur’s ship-launching party last night. His Highness Earendur was also noticeably absent. Methinks the timing and venue of the party could have been better planned. The actual launch is to take place next week in Romenna. Glorfindel explained it was just an excuse for the younger lords to celebrate the arrival of the new royal baby without any ladies present. I question the truth of his words seeing how he turned as red as a ripe tomato. I suppose there were ladies in attendance, of a different type.

Princess Silmarien is such a placid child. She slept through the entire event in her father’s arms. I doubt I will be playing much of a role in her upbringing, seeing how much it takes to run Formenos. I cannot expect make more than one visit or so to Armenelos each cycle of the Sun. She would be a grown woman before we even know it. Perhaps she will grow into the assertive, confident woman of wisdom in my vision and pass those traits to her children and those who will follow.

I had a hard time with many nobles hailing me as Lord Mornel despite attempts by me and Elendil to correct their misconception. Mehinks most are too full of themselves to even listen. Glorfindel finds it highly amusing and has started to refer to me as his brother-lord. Perhaps I could work this to my advantage. After the Beren- Luthien and Tuor-Idril romances, I doubt the world is ready for any more such Eldar-mortal unions in the near future and it would put an end to those love-letters I have been getting from certain young men in Andunie but Glorfindel thinks not.


 

Second Age 532, Andunie

"Aunt Mornel!"

Mornel smiled as a little slip of a girl darted through the market-day crowd on the quay like a silvery fish through the waves, coming to a skidding stop before her as he disembarked from Earlindo's vessel. It had been decided that Elendil's family remain in the port-city of Andustar to be near to his law-parents. Silmarien was a charming child with intelligent eyes. Her girlish plaits and smile hid a self-assuredness and poise worthy of a leader. Elendil's eldest had blossomed as she grew from infancy.

"Is that an elf-ship? It is far fairer than any I have seen…"

"Aye, this vessel belongs to Prince Earlindo of Avallone." Mornel lifted the child onto her shoulders so that she might wave to the pair of concerned nursemaids who were fighting their way through the crowd of porters, merchants, and sailors. The little birthday gift for her foster-child could wait until she was safely returned to her nurses. It was a wooden chess set Mornel had made herself after learning of Silmarien's growing interest in the game.

"Aunt, come with me to my house please. I need your help…"

Uncle Ara had not been pleased to learn of the fostering and the interest Mornel took in the princess even though he did not oppose it. "You have to let her grow up when the time comes," he had reminded her the last time she was in Tirion.

Mornel soon found herself peering at the contents of a shallow dish in the princess' bedroom. Within was a ragged-looking gull on a nest of rags.

"Will he live?" the child asked with a tremor in her voice.

Mornel gingerly checked the gull's broken wing. It had been crudely splinted with a child's inexperience and would need to be reset properly. The old bird croaked weakly as Silmarien tried to feed it some mashed sardines. The bird was too weak. It had probably been lying on the beach injured and starving for some time before the princess found it. One of its legs was also broken and starting to turn bad.

"We will need fish oil, water, and I will show you how to feed him with a dropper after we set his wing properly. His leg is broken too. I do not know if we can save it," Mornel decided to be honest with the child.

"Will he live?" Silmarien solemnly asked.

"I do not know. It will be up to the All-father's will. However, even if he lives, I fear he may never fly again."

Over the next week of Mornel's sojourn in Andunie, the little princess tended to the injured bird with all her heart. Mornel offered prayers to Lady Yavanna and Lord Manwe even as she employed all the skills she had learnt in Lorien. On the third day, it was clear the leg was lost and Mornel had to cut off the rotting bone that remained with a pair of sewing scissors.

On the sixth day, the bird finally rallied. By the time Silmarien saw Mornel off, she had the gull happily eating shrimp from her hand while nestled in a sling across her chest. The gull would live for another two years before passing of apparent old age.

Chapter Text

Second Age 533, Andunie

Dear Prince Earlindo

I am writing to apologize for trying to stow away on your ship. I just wanted to sail about the island to see how big it is. My father’s captain refused to let me on board his ship when my father went to visit my uncle. They say I should stay at home with my baby sister in Andunie and let my father do his work. I hope the Valar are not too upset you almost sailed to Tol Eressea with me. It wasn’t your fault but mine. Can you tell them that I am sorry please?

With apologies

Silmarien Elendiliel 


 

Second Age 533, Tol Eressea

Dear Princess

No harm done as you came out of hiding just after we left the bay and way before we reached the westernmost limits of the Ban. I promise to take you on a sail around the island the next time I visit and you are in town (with your parents’ permission of course). I hope your adar was not too harsh on you. Your naneth was understandably frantic when you went missing.

There are some lovely bays on the eastern shore I am not sure your people are even aware of yet. And the trees. So tall they seem to touch the sky. Lord Osse would like me to remind you that you are a princess and have no business sneaking aboard swan-ships like some thief. The next time you try that, he will personally spank your bottom.

Your friend

Earlindo


 

Second Age 540, Armenelos

Dear Lady Mornel

We seem to be plagued once more by the question of succession. Of my heir-apparent, Elendil has only two daughters - one of whom shows great promise and strength of character. My younger son Earendur has one son, Caliondo. If things remain as they are, I fear that the next King’s Heir would be Caliondo, who has proven to be of quick temper and intemperate appetites. I believe you might have already received reports of a recent brawl in a tavern in Andunie involving my grandson and his friends that ended up with the place razed. Such behaviour is not becoming for a leader and I hope that he might mellow down with the years. So far he has proved resistant to my attempts to involve him in council meetings in Armenelos despite his nickname of King of the Taverns in rougher parts of town.

My eldest granddaughter Silmarien has practically been managing matters in Andunie on her own despite her tender age, ever since her parents relocated to Armenelos – all the better for Elendil to prepare for my eventual abdication. I have charged Earendur and Caliondo with assisting her but I understand Earendur has been sailing around the island and Caliondo is more interested in dice games and drink. I am no longer as vigorous as I once was and travelling about the realm is hard on my bones.

There is always the hope that Elendil might produce a suitable son with his wife before the weight of mortality overwhelms me. In the meanwhile, I will continue to serve my subjects to the best of my abilities and pray that Iluvatar blesses us with a suitable heir soon. I seriously doubt I can last until S.A. 600.

Yours in friendship

Tar-Amandil


 

Second Age 543, Andunie

Dear Lady Mornel

I am writing to invite you to attend the official naming ceremony of my little brother on my parents’ behalf. My naneth has decided on the rather quaint name of Irimon. I do not know if she has any foresight because right now my brother is pink, hairless, and not beautiful at all. He sleeps much of the time when he is not crying. Nana has not been feeling since she had him. We are very worried. Nanny said she should not have been travelling so late with the baby due but Nana wanted to be home in Andunie when the baby came.

My big sister has ridden out to Armenelos to fetch Ada and the best healers there since the one that Nanny found said he could not do anything more. I think the healer is drunk and he smells bad. Silmarien also said a friend from the Eldar will be coming to help. I asked Cousin Caliondo if he knows anyone in the Elvish Quarter who can help but he said no as elves are not born but come out of trees. Is that true? I think there was an elf at the door earlier but Cousin Caliondo told the servants to chase her away. Maybe I should not have let our cousin in like sister said, but Uncle Earendur said he would take care of us when he is out sailing.

Cousin Caliondo and his friends are throwing a noisy party downstairs. I wish they would go away. I am sleeping with Irimon in front of the door of Nana’s room now and not letting anyone in except Nanny.

Princess Isilme

P.S. Please come soon and help Nana get better with your elf-magic.

P.P.S. I hope Sister Silmarien’s pigeon can find you before you leave Andunie. I am sending out 3 birds just in case.


 

In the taproom of an inn in the port of Andustar, Mornel glared at her clearly inebriated cousin over her untouched shepherd’s pie. It was just after midday but Arakano had been drinking since breakfast given the state he was in.

“Sssee my new sssword?” he slurred as he patted his latest acquisition.

“It’s not worth half the price you paid for it,” Mornel chided. Their belongings were packed and waiting to be loaded on their ship back to Tol Eressea.

She idly wondered if Elendil’s wife had delivered her latest child yet. The baby was late for a Secondborn. She had been dismayed to learn the midwife she had recommended to her foster daughter had been turned away from the house by Elendil’s nephew.  Prince Earendur had gone off on a sail and she was not particularly close to him or his son despite Elendil entrusting his household to him during his time in Armenelos. It irked Mornel that Elendil had not considered his eldest capable enough to look after his household.

A frantic pigeon was thumping its wings against the glass of the taproom window.

“What’s the matter, friend?” Mornel opened the window to allow the bird entry. That was when she saw the tiny canister tied to its leg.  

“Hey! Wait up!” Arakano yelled as Mornel sprinted out of the inn without a word. He grabbed his new sword and went after her.


 

Second Age 544, Armenelos

Dear King Arafinwe

I am writing to apologize to your people with regards to the actions of my grandson Caliondo. I assure you that my grandson’s thrashing was well-earned. Hopefully, this will teach him not to make light of the friendship between our peoples and apply himself to things other than dice and bottles. I only had Silmarien do some months of good work at the House of Healing in Andunie for fighting with her cousin in the street. Still, it was not becoming behaviour for a princess and your nephew and niece were unfortunately caught up in the debacle which ensued.

My law-daughter and her new son are doing well. However, healers warn against trying for another child. This incident has unfortunately driven a rift between my sons. Earendur was inclined to write off the misbehaviour of his only child as a bout of youthful high spirits but Elendil was not pleased to return home and find his house all but demolished. Neither were he and his daughter pleased to find that the elf midwife Silmarien had sent for was refused entry to see her patient. My sons had been close as children but now their relationship is strained. Most of the court back Elendil as heir apparent. With the birth of Irimon, it is unlikely that Earendur or his son will ever wield the sceptre.

Irimon is growing up by the day and he has started crawling, much to the delight of his parents. Earendur and his son have relocated to Hyarrostar – which is probably as far away from Andunie as they could get. There are no taverns there, only a shipyard and Earendur is probably hoping his son will mature without the temptations of taverns and dice.

I do hope that Lady Mornel and Lord Arakano did not take too much offense at Caliondo’s words. I understand that neither have visited Numenor since their hasty departure last year. We look forward to hosting them once more. 

May the blessings of the Valar be upon you

Tar-Amandil


 

Second Age 544, Tirion on Tuna

Dear Tar-Amandil

Rest assured that no offense was taken by either Arakano or Mornel. Their departure was in no small part due to Arakano’s threat to slay your nephew. In his inebriated state, Mornel was not willing to test how seriously he meant it, especially since he just purchased a new sword. Fists were one thing but elvish steel? Hence Mornel’s decision to haul him aboard the next ship to Tol Eressea.

My council takes a dim view of threats of drawing a sword on a kinsman (no matter how well-deserved said thrashing was and the fact that said sword was not used in actual thrashing, no small thanks to Mornel’s timely intervention). Arakano is currently under house-arrest at his naneth’s place in Tirion for the next yeni or so with a ban on travel to Numenor for the following 3 yeni. He is currently repenting of his rash actions. This also gives him a chance to work at weaning himself off the Numenorian hard liquours he has unfortunately developed a taste for which we believe was what led to the brawl with Caliondo in the streets of Andunie. Mornel would probably have just thrown Caliondo and friends out into the street and got your son’s house back in order. She has been forced to do that on occasion in Tirion’s artisan quarter when things got too rowdy at her law-sister’s place. The mind boggles that the competitiveness of our craftspeople.  

My niece has returned to her keep at Formenos due to urgent family business there. With the onset of colder weather, we would expect her to remain there until spring as is the practice of Formenos’ inhabitants. She has also made plans to travel to Lorien for further instructions in the healing arts under my sister Findis and will likely remain there until S.A. 600.  

May the blessings of the Valar be upon your House

Arafinwe Noldoran

Chapter Text

Second Age 545, Lorien

Dear Amandil

Forgive me for writing so late but your letter was delayed due to poor weather and stubborn Maiar. The Maiar of Lorien take their duties seriously and that includes withholding distressing news from their patients and guests. We had to get approval from Lady Este before Master Olorin would hand me my letters. I am still annoyed at Olorin for not informing me I had letters even if the contents were unpleasant.

Once more I am astounded by the malicious gossip inflicted on my family by certain elves with nothing better to occupy themselves with. Perhaps it was my fault for not staying to explain to my uncle why I had to leave Tirion so suddenly after agreeing to spend the Thanksgiving Feast in his city. I have written letters to my cousin Finrod and Uncle Ara to explain the reasons for my hasty departure. I am in no way being punished for that unfortunate incident in Andunie two cycles of the sun back. I only got those uninvited guests out of the house so that mother and child could get some quiet. On hindsight, perhaps I should have set Arakano to boiling water or something so he did not feel compelled to challenge Caliondo.

My amil and I were informed of the impending return of my brothers the Ambarussa from Mandos. As you are aware of the histories of the First Age, I will not go into the details but my brothers’ return is not exactly joyful news to certain parties. Lord Earendil and his wife have both sent me a letter requesting that the Ambarussa keep away from Lady Elwing’s tower on the Shadowy Seas. To add to the complications is their apparent betrothal to the granddaughters of the High King Ingwe while in the Halls. The last thing we need is an angry mob descending on us.

On the upside, my brothers and their brides-to-be are recovering well. My amil and her father have engaged the services of a discreet matchmaker to approach the brides’ parents. Having the Noldoran carry out the formalities would be too much despite him being our most senior male relative in the House of Finwe. So far the brides’ parents are quite receptive to the notion but they would prefer that both couples recover their health first before observing the traditional Vanyarin rituals of betrothal. Those prayers and fasts can be very hard for those not used to them or in a weakened state.

I imagine it would have been hard for your grandfather Elros and his brother, arriving from Amon Ereb and being told that their guardians were total monsters. My brothers were not monsters where the children were concerned and I can attest to the love your grandfather bore for them. My eldest brother Maedhros was probably deeply scarred by his imprisonment in Angband and Maglor well on his way into despair by then. I do hope that they would one day be healed and able to return to their family as the Ambarussa did.

I read with dismay Cousin Finrod’s letter on the rift between your sons and hope that they would mend their fences soon with Iluvatar’s blessings. The animosity between your grandchildren would be a little harder to overcome with allegations (unfounded or otherwise) of Caliondo meaning harm to his little cousin. I doubt Silmarien is the source of such gossip but Caliondo’s actions would have set tongues wagging for miles about. Throwing a wild party in your sick aunt’s house definitely did not leave a good impression on the neighbours. Perhaps sending your elder grandson off to the east would allow him a chance to mature without the distractions of a port city like Andunie.

Your friend

Mornel Feanoriel


 

Second Age 545, Lorien

Dear Cousin Arakano

I trust that you and yours are well. I have received news from your amme that you are attempting to build a home-distillery in the cellar. My advice is don’t. For starters, if you have checked with your amme, you would be aware of the laws regulating liquor production within Tirion city limits after one too many cases of poisoning from homebrewed moonshine courtesy of the folks in the Artisans’ Quarter. You will need to apply for a permit and pass an inspection of the premises. Next, I seriously doubt your amme will be thrilled with your latest venture given that she has hopes that you will curtail your drinking habits. May I suggest other pastimes like pigeon-rearing or gardening? I recall your home has an open rooftop which can be converted into a roof garden or pigeon cote.

As to your request that I appeal to the council to have your sentence commuted to exile to Formenos, I doubt Aunt Anaire would be pleased if I did so knowing the heady brews that the local tribes produce. I will try to request that your house-arrest be shortened or that you be allowed more freedom within the city. I send to you the latest edition of the Birds of Arda as compiled by Lady Elwing. Also enclosed is the latest thesis on Plants of Southern Aman.

Supportively yours

Mornel Feanoriel


 

Second Age 545, Lorien

Dear Uncle Ara

Firstly, I must apologise to you and Grandmother Indis for my abrupt departure. Secondly, I also apologise on behalf of my amme and Grandfather Mahtan for bypassing you in making official requests for the hands of Isilmire and Lomire on behalf of my brothers the Ambarussa (who returned last fall). You may expect an official complaint from High King Ingwe if one has not yet reached Tirion. I will be extending my stay in Lorien as my brothers are still recovering, after which we intend to return to Formenos. A later date may be set for them to travel to Tirion (if it is alright with you) for them to swear fealty.

My brothers have also expressed great interest in visiting Numenor when they are well enough. Would this be wise? Would it be necessary to seek permission from you, King Olwe, or Prince Earlindo? I understand that some of the Alqualonde elves still have very bad memories of the Kinslaying. Perhaps it would be best if my brothers take some lessons in the customs of the Edain from Cousin Finrod first lest they inadvertently cause some offense without meaning to.

Seeking your advice,

Mornel

Chapter Text

Second Age 590, Andunie

Dear Lord Arakano Nolofinwion

I thank you for the gift of a pair of hunting falcons from your collection. Unfortunately, my atar has no intention of including them in the ceremonies for the Passing of the Sceptre as your twin cousins have suggested. My grandfather’s sceptre would be too heavy for them to carry and I do not think my atar should start his reign by being conked on the head by the symbol of his office.

Thank my foster-mother for putting us in touch as I have benefited much from your knowledge on breeding and training of hawks and the like. The Lords Ambarussa have also been of great help in the practical aspects seeing you are still banned from travelling to Numenor.

I can relate to your experiences with matchmakers. It is a shame the Ambarussa saw fit to get themselves married, thus rendering you the only unattached royal ner in the House of Finwe outside of Mandos. As the eldest daughter of the soon-to-be king, I am besieged by suitors. My birds make excellent bodyguards. It is a bit difficult trying to serenade someone when her pet is trying to peck out one’s eyes. I have Cousin Cemendur sending me little gifts and love notes but he is a bit too young for me. He is even younger than Irimon. I hope he will get over this phase soon.

My younger sister has already relented to the persuasion and is currently betrothed (without my father or grandfather’s permission). It will take some time for my prospective law-brother to convince them of the sincerity of his suit. Isilme has been packed off to Aunt Mairen’s until further notice. My brother has taken himself off north to Great-grandpa Vardamir’s old tower to study the stars. He is way too young to consider marriage. 

I do hope our letters will not cause any problems for you in Tirion. I definitely do not sense any special Doom heading my way in the field of Eldar-Edain unions despite all the fuss the Council is kicking up. Technically, I am your niece several generations removed and the notion is just weird. Heard from my maid that my other cousin Caliondo tried to seek the Council’s support to woo me was rebuffed – us being first cousins and all.

There is a rather charming falconer from over the hill. Not much to look at but great sense of humour and a kind heart (that’s what counts, right?). He is what the Council would call a commoner… I wonder if I can get permission from Atto to court him instead of waiting for him to make the first move. Will this be considered too immodest?

Lady Silmarien Elendiliel

P.S. Appreciate if we can keep the last part of my letter from my foster-mother. I am afraid she will fuss like my atto did with my sister. 


 

Second Age 591, Armenelos

Dear Lady Mornel

I trust you and your brothers have enjoyed the festivities around my coronation despite the little commotion caused by my drunken nephew. Dunking him in the fountain was a little uncalled for and I understand to my regret that your brothers have been banned from visiting Numenor for the next 50 years. My father is well and looking forward to a few years of quiet peace before he takes his death.

My second daughter has married (much against my advice) the wastrel son of a minor lord. My young Irimon has developed what can be described as an obsession with the stars. The last time we checked on him, his room was so full of his star charts they were falling out the windows. On the upside, having nothing but stars as the topic of conversation does deter even the most ambitious of court ladies. My wife had to have the servants remove at least a dozen would-be brides after they fell asleep in the middle of a 5-hour lecture on the movement of the constellations. We hope this is just a phase. We still need an heir after him.

My eldest has volunteered to move here with me to assist in council matters despite opposition from some conservative factions. She has also made a rather daring request concerning her future happiness, which I am a bit reluctant to agree to. I will sorely miss her aid if she were to marry and become a commoner. It is a pity she is not a son and we will eventually have to lose her to her husband.

There is a certain up-and-coming young mariner Veantur who has been appealing for more funds to sponsor his maritime explorations with a mind to return to the Hither Shores. After more than 500 years since Beleriand sank, we have no reliable maps and I feel it too much a risk despite the possibility of contacting the Eldar still in Lindon. Your kin have not all sailed yet, have they? I have half a mind to send my brother and his son on that journey of exploration but Earendur has not been quite the same since that tree landed on his leg. With only one working leg left, it is that much harder for him to manage his wayward son. I am tempted to pass the sceptre onto my daughter Silmarien after a few more decades but that would not be fair to Irimon despite his apparent disinterest in council matters.

Please find enclosed a collection of tales from Edain lore gathered by my grandfather.

Tar-Elendil Paramite

P.S. I do not know what possessed me to add that silly nickname ‘Book-Handed’ as part of my official title. 


 

Second Age 620, Andunie

Dear Cousin

You must definitely be regretting your decision not to attend this wedding. We had so much fun (even if Amarie begged to differ after having to pull our son out of a drinking contest). Lady Silmarien was such a pretty bride with that mithril fillet you had made for her at Formenos at Elendil’s request. The star-gem set on it was a touch of elegance. Clean lines and simplicity of design – I wonder if that style will ever catch on in Tirion. Probably never. Could I place an order for a silver fillet for Amarie as a surprise gift please? I would like something with a floral motif and sapphires.

Elendil definitely went all out for the event. You should have seen the bridal goods and dowry. Three cart-loads. To top it off, he handed her Barahir’s Ring and that dwarf-forged sword Narsil to be heirlooms of her house. I do wonder if it is alright with Irimon but he seems not to be bothered too much. He was more interested charting Gil-Estel’s course through the sky, which happened to be a little erratic that night. Well, I did send Earendil’s crew some wine from my vineyard just last month and they might have some bottles left. 

Elendil is planning to create a new title for any grandson by his daughter. The Lord of Andunie or something of that sort. I wonder if it is a bit too much and he is making up for denying her request for marriage to Elatan for so long. You must know by now that the Numenorean mariners have returned to Middle-Earth and contacted Gil-galad’s court in S.A. 600. They did have some letters but Lord Osse was a bit frisky on the return trip. All the letters from Lindon were washed into the sea during a huge storm, save for the official greeting to Tar-Elendil from Gil-galad. The Numenoreans hope to send more expeditions east with a mind to settle. Feeling a bit of longing for the lands of their forefathers I presume? 

My uncle Earlindo reminds me that all things have their place in the Song and everything has a time and place. Now is the time and place for me to dance with my wife.

Finrod Felagund


 

Second Age 620, Formenos

“It’s not natural,” both redheads spoke in unison. Mornel peered up from the letter she had been reading. Her brothers had beaten her to it as usual between the front gate and the dining table.

“Handing such important heirlooms to a daughter when he has a perfectly able son…” The twins were well-informed of the importance of the Ring of Barahir in Elros’ family.

“Perhaps it is the daughter’s line who would endure and not the son’s?” Tatie suggested pointedly as she entered with a platter of salmon in wild fruit glaze. The old nis had appointed herself Mornel’s personal attendant in Formenos. Isilmire and Lomire followed with a pot of potatoes and a plate of winter greens.

“Perhaps,” Mornel shrugged. Her brothers’ transition into Eldar society and family life had been far from smooth. Foul whispers and gossip constantly threatened their marriages. Their childlessness after so many cycles of the sun only gave rise to more unkind whispers. To escape the more judgemental citizens of Valmar and Tirion, the two couples had retreated to Formenos where they lived apart from even Mornel except during the colder months when their humble willow-weave huts gave little respite against the wind and snow. If it were only the Ambarussa, they would have stuck it out, but they had their more gently-bred wives to consider.

“Do you suppose we can ask the Numenoreans to help look for Maglor?” Telvo suggested.

“Nay, they would be busy with other things and I doubt our brother will be found unless he wishes to be,” Mornel conceded. How fast the years had flown by. Amandil had gone grey and taken his death quietly in S.A. 603, shortly after hearing that his people had re-established contact with Middle-Earth. Elendil’s children were now growing up and starting their own families. 

“You’ve been to Grandma Miriel’s last month. Has she said anything about our brothers? Is Moryo serious about not returning?” Pityo asked. “I hear one of the new apprentices has been sending Helwien flowers… I can’t decide whether I should box his ears for Moryo’s sake or not.”

“It has been a long time since they were last together as husband and wife,” Mornel noted. “Moreover, Grandmother has not said anything about our brothers in Mandos. There are rules binding Lady Vaire’s handmaidens. As for the apprentice, our law-sister is fully capable of dealing with him without our aid.”

“Perhaps Morifinwe just needed more time to think it through. I know I did,” Tatie interjected. “I don’t know much about the Aftercomers and their ways but I say we don’t go about sticking our noses in their matters. Who cares who’s the king or queen on that island of theirs? Well, I am happy where I am.”

“Their flame burn both fierce and fast, even the lives of the Numenoreans are but a blink of an eye to the Eldar,” Mornel added.

“One more season, two more seasons… will they not grow envious of the unending years of the Eldar despite us being bound to Arda?” Isilmire mused.

“Tar-Elendil is wise but what of those who would follow him?” Lomire added, voicing Mornel’s unspoken thoughts. The twins had made a brief sojourn in Numenor with their husbands back in S.A. 590 for Tar-Elendil’s coronation, much against the advice of their grandfather. They had been well-received by Lady Silmarien in Andunie but their experience in the capital was less pleasant thanks to a certain upstart prince. Both couples were in no hurry for a return visit.

“Hey, an invite to another wedding! Prince Earlindo was a charming host the last time we visited Amme on Tol Eressea but his servants kept looking at us as if we were going to steal their ships and burn them,” Telvo said as he waved an invitation from the Teleri prince to attend his daughter’s wedding in Avallone.

“I got sick just sailing out of the harbour…” Pityo complained. “Lord Olorin said it is the lingering trauma from my past life…”

“You went white as a sheet as soon as you saw that ship. Lomire had to drag you up the gangplank. After that, you were below decks with your wife until we came to port. Amme was so worried…”

Mornel took another letter from the stack now ignored by her squabbling brothers. Nerdenal had written again regarding her decision not to move to Formenos. Instead, she indicated that she was content living in Avallone after moving away from Alqualonde. Mornel suspected her amil had a restless streak in her. She would often close her workshop and go on long journeys alone, perhaps seeking inspiration for her art. Perhaps by being so close to Numenor, she sought to gain inspiration from it.

“Amme says she might go visit Numenor for a bit,” Mornel read out part of the letter. “It seems the court would like some new statues of their former kings. The old ones were a bit worn, so they say. They seek the services of Lady Russa.”

“Amme’s still using that name for her work?” Telvo spluttered. “It’s really lame… She ought to change it…”

“But she already has a reputation under that name as an artist, since the First Age when it was difficult for Nerdanel to find a decent commission for all her skill,” Mornel pointed out. “Most of the Eldar know who Russa is by now.”

I do not wish for Amme to linger too long in Numenor. Mornel picked at her fruit. She had not been to the island for a while even though she still exchanged letters with Elendil and his daughter Silmarien. It seemed her foster-daughter had grown apart from her as she grew into womanhood. Instead of confiding her growing affections for a certain falconer in her foster-parent, Silmarien had chosen instead to confide in Arakano in between discussions on falconry. Her cousin Finrod had brought the relationship to her attention only at Elendil’s coronation. Finrod always was a hopeless romantic but his instincts were rarely wrong.

She would have liked to attend the wedding in person but she had promised two Avari clans to mediate in a long-running quarrel over overlapping hunting grounds. The resolution of the conflict had taken far longer than she had expected when a carelessly-placed snare almost cost a chieftain's young son his foot. At least her smiths managed to get Silmarien’s fillet ready and packed off to Finrod’s before he left Alqualonde.

She knew little of Prince Irimon save for his passion for celestial observations. Perhaps it was time for her to return her attention to matters in Aman. Earlindo and the elves of Tol Eressea would continue their friendship with Numenor.

“Oh, Arakano writes asking if we would like new hunting falcons in Formenos. He has some new chicks he will need a home for soon. Twenty birds of prey under her roof is more than enough for Aunt Anaire,” Pityo read from another letter.

“We can present them to some of Avari chieftains when they come for Yule,” Mornel agreed. 

Chapter Text

Second Age 640, Armenelos

Dear Lady Mornel

A great tragedy has befallen my eldest. We fear that she might be fading from her grief, if such a thing is possible for us Aftercomers. My best healers are at a loss. Please aid us with your wisdom.

Tar-Elendil


 

Second Age 640, Andunie

“It’s a tragedy, of course,” Prince Earlindo admitted. “Their son being so young…”

Mornel nodded in silent assent. She did not know what she could offer that might assuage the grief of her foster-child. To compound the widow’s grief, the shock of her husband’s passing had brought on a labour well before her time and a stillborn child was delivered. There was no promise of a reunion in the Blessed Realm for the Secondborn. Yet Tar-Elendil had reached out to her.

He led her to a house in deep mourning despite the weeks that had lapsed since its master’s passing. Mornel noted the withered flowers in the window boxes. She was greeted at the door by a servant in dour black, who led her down a dusty hallway to a bedroom where two ladies were.

“Do something with your elvish magic!” Lady Isilme threw down the spoon she had been trying to feed her sister with and turned to Mornel. Silmarien sat listlessly in bed as if entranced.

“There is no magic that can heal grief. It must be allowed to run its course,” Mornel replied as she felt Silmarien’s pulse. Physically, the patient was hale but might benefit from more nutrition and some light exercise.

“What happened to Elatan?” Mornel asked Isilme. Elendil had been vague in his missive and Earlindo unsure about the circumstances of his demise. 

“He fell off a cliff,” Isilme replied. “Right in front of my poor sister. Walking on those cliffs should be banned and those damned eagles...”

“It was never the eagles’ fault,” Silmarien murmured. “We were so sure they had left… I should have been firmer about him not returning the chick then… We could have reared it here…”

“So you blame yourself for all this? It is not your fault too but a note in the Music of Arda Marred,” Mornel replied as she all but dragged her foster-daughter out of bed and sat her before the mirror. “Where’s Valandil?”

“On the roof with those nasty falcons, I think,” Isilme fluttered. “With my sister sick we thought it would be best he stayed away…”

“Get him down here… Let’s get your sister dressed. Some fresh air and exercise would do wonders,” Mornel snatched up a hairbrush and started brushing the tangles out of Silmarien’s hair. Isilme squeaked and rushed out.

“Now, you still have a son who needs his mother, and the Silmarien I know is far stronger than this,” Mornel grumbled as she threw open the clothes-chest and started pulling out various garments. Silmarien allowed herself to be dressed in a pale blue dress which was passably in season. A grey shawl would guard against the cold.

“How old is Valandil now?” Mornel pinned the shawl in place with a pearl brooch she found on the dresser.

“T-ten…” Silmarien blinked as if waking from a deep sleep.

“And a child still,” Mornel deftly braided Silmarien’s hair.

“Am not a child!” The women turned to the door where an apologetic Isilme had returned with a dishevelled child. Feathers were matted in his dark hair. His tunic was grey with grime. His defiant grey eyes reminded Mornel of Elros.

“Sorry, we had to let the nurse go…” Isilme smiled weakly.

“If you are not a child, my lord, you will get yourself presentable enough to take your mother on a short stroll,” Mornel informed Valandil.

“Will I need to dress in those fancy court robes?” the boy pouted.

“No, something clean and comfortable should suffice. And get those feathers out of your hair. Where do you think your mother would like to go to?” Mornel pulled a pair of sturdy walking boots onto Silmarien’s feet and laced them up.  

“The seashore outside town. There are loads of pretty shells there…” the child’s stance softened.

“Very well, you will take her there once you are presentable.”

“Can I bring Suka too? Her wing is healing still but I think she misses the sea…”

“Of course you may,” Mornel smiled as the boy ran off.


 

The part of the shore Valandil chose was suitably isolated. Silmarien did stir enough to order Valandil to wash his face before they left the house and to prepare a thick falconer’s glove for his feathered friend to perch on. Now both mother and son sat on a large piece of driftwood as Mornel watched from a respectable distance. Suka turned out to be a young sea eagle. Silmarien carefully looked at the injured wing to gauge how well it was healing. Valandil listened eagerly as his mother pointed out the flight feathers and how the bone should knit if set properly.

Such brusque treatment was not ideal but it had to be done, Mornel admitted. Silmarien had not time to indulge in her grief and neglect her son. The Aftercomers were far stronger in most instances than the Eldar when dealing with grief and she had faith in Silmarien’s strength.

Without a father, Valandil would need his mother’s guidance more keenly, seeing how his kin had overlooked him entirely in catering to his mother’s grief. It was unthinkable how his aunt and the servants had left the young Lord of Andunie to his own devices for possibly days on end. True, he might be able to feed himself from the pantry at his age but to allow him to run wild like an untrained horse?

For the sake of the coming Ages, it was essential. Mornel frowned as the thought popped into her mind.

Eru Iluvatar, what have you planned for Elros’ line?


 

Second Age 642, Andustar

Dear Foster Mother Lady Mornel

Perhaps I should start using the formal form of address in our letters if I am to educate my son on the intricacies of polite letter-writing. Uncle Earendur did not take kindly to receiving a letter from little Valandil addressed to the ‘Family Drunk’. My sister did not appreciate being called ‘Izzy’. I do not know what Irimon made about being addressed as ‘Star-eyed’. They were nicknames we had as children Valandil must have overheard from our old nurse. I am glad she was able to care for my son during my journeys to the royal court to sort out legal matters.

Thank you for talking some sense into me back then after Elatan passed. I am pleased to inform you that I have finally sorted out my husband’s estate. It was an immensely complicated and highly unpleasant affair, so I am glad we got that over with. No small thanks to my kinsman Lord Axantur. We did manage to keep some of the land my father gifted to Elatan to be held in trust for our children. We suppose we could spare the few parcels already tenanted out for the duration of their lease. Elatan’s erstwhile ‘friends’ would have some serious explaining to do to the royal court about those dodgy business dealings they got Elatan into while he was alive.

It has been a while since I last managed an estate of any size but since Valandil is not of age, it would be my duty as his mother to ensure that his present estate is well-run. I cannot expect Lord Axantur to continue assisting me in this indefinitely given his advanced age. He recommended the services of his sons but I know Cousin Ardamir would rather be sailing and Cousin Cemendur has no head for figures.

It is of comfort to me (however small) that it was unlikely Elatan felt any pain and is now beyond the Circles of Arda with our daughter Morwen. Even though the so-called learned men of my father’s court claim that she never was, they did not carry her for six months in their bodies. She is every bit my child as Valandil. With the passing of the years, I know there will come a time we will be reunited once more beyond Arda.

Valandil has been taking his ‘duties’ as Lord of Andunie seriously in taking care of his father’s hawks. Several have been ‘retired’ and set free on the cliffs to pursue their lives in the wild. Those unfit for the wild will live out their days in comfort on our roof. Lords Earlindo and Finrod have been of much guidance to him during these years. However, I seriously doubt Valandil would ever take to sailing (he does seem to manage to track the comings and goings of all ships to the harbour though). His skills as a musician are also much to be desired despite Finrod’s best efforts. His playing of the flute has been mistaken on several occasions for a cat in heat. We do believe Finrod has despaired of ever turning Valandil into a musician and has planned to return to his family in Tirion on Tuna.

We would like for you to visit more often and play a bigger part in my son’s life. However, we understand that you have your own commitments in Aman to attend to.

Yours in friendship

Silmarien of Andunie

Chapter Text

Second Age 698, Andustar

Dear Lady Mornel

I trust you are well. It has been many cycles of the sun since we last met. My son has grown into manhood and does his late father credit. Valandil has inherited my husband’s goodness of heart and generosity of spirit. As Lord of Andunie, he is a much sought-after prize for many noble ladies but I intend to keep him by my hearth a while longer, until a suitable bride can be found. Until this day, I couldn’t find it in my heart to blame the pair of eagles that knocked my poor Elatan off that cliff-face, not knowing he meant their chicks no harm. I think parents are alike in that aspect. I believe had you the chance to meet him in person, you would have liked him as much as you did his son.

As his widow I still have charge of his household although my son is now of age. It is a pity we were unable to provide Valandil with a sibling or two for playmates. He was such a serious child. My poor sister Isilme’s union has proven childless – so no first cousins for my son as playmates. I did not care much for the company of my cousin Caliondo’s son. Malantur was a spoiled brat as a child and not much better now he is older. Poor Uncle Earendur was never quite the same since losing his leg and I believe that the drink he took solace in eventually did him in. My father was much grieved by his death.

At long last, my little brother Irimon is to be wed. Hopefully, he and his bride Almarian will soon produce an heir and put an end to rumours of Malantur being next in the line of succession after Irimon. I now wear my father’s ring on my thumb as I write this letter. I fear it is not long that he will hold the sceptre. Tar-Elendil’s reign is heading into its sunset. My brother has been recalled from his stargazing-tower in the north but I doubt he will remain long in Armenelos once the wedding is done. I understand he has convinced Veantur his only daughter’s needs will be amply met in Forostar. I guess it was for the best that my brother found his bride in a navigator. Despite those old superstitions about women sailing, Almarian is well-schooled in celestial navigations and has sailed with her father on more than one occasion in the island’s waters.

I am beset by dreams of late, possibly prophetic. Perhaps they are just the wandering thoughts of a lonely widow now her son is grown and seeking a wife. In my dreams I see a man and woman. The man is on a fine ship, sailing off into the distance while the woman watches. She then throws herself off a cliff. Such a sad dream. I cannot say who they are but I sense a tie of blood. I fear that I am seeing the fate of my son and his wife-to-be, or perhaps his children’s fates. I have prayed to Lord Irmo for guidance but received no reply. I had spoken with Almarian as she prepared for her wedding in Armenelos and she had confided that she too had received similar dreams.

Can you in your wisdom advise us please?

Silmarien of Andunie


 

Second Age 698, Formenos

Dear Silmarien

Not only does Valandil do his father credit but also his mother. After all, you have raised him into adulthood after your husband’s passing. I have heard nothing but glowing reports of him from Prince Earlindo and all the elves who do business with him in Andunie. The port city of Andustar has prospered under both you and your son’s able guidance. Valandil is a fair man with a kind heart and nary a selfish bone in him. It will be a lucky woman he chooses to be his bride.

About your dream of foreboding, I fear you are not the only ones to be troubled such. I have also dreamed similarly of late. I have raised this with the Maiar of Lord Irmo and there has been much discussion. The dreams seem to harken back to your ancestors – Earendil and Elwing. Earendil was much consumed by sea-longing in his youth and often forsook his wife and sons for the open waves. You may rest assured that despite Valandil’s dealings with sailors and merchants, he does not show any symptoms of sea-longing. It is a puzzle who the players in the dream are. Perhaps this verse in the Song lies in the past or distant future.

Dreams and visions are unpredictable and often obscure. It may simply be caused by watching a play or listening to a ballad about Earendil the Mariner and his wife. Did Elwing not leap off a cliff with the Silmaril to keep it from my brothers? I understand there is a theatre in Armenelos showing a play about Earendil and his wife some months back. Idril absolutely loathed it for portraying her son as a selfish boor. If it is a future dream, events may not play out as in the visions.

I would suggest a warm cup of chamomile tea before bed to chase away the shadows and bring rest. May Lord Irmo and his Maiar gift you with pleasant dreams.

Mornel Feanoriel


 

Second Age 700, Forostar

Dear Prince Earlindo

I must thank you for your guidance in the matters of courtship. My beautiful wife Almarian has given me a healthy son last week. Almarian is concerned that the climate here may not be the best for a young child and wishes to take our son to Andustar where he may be fostered in my nephew Valandil’s household. My sister and Almarian have maintained a close friendship ever since they met during our betrothal. I trust my sister to be a gracious hostess. I fear I may not be suited for fatherhood as I find a crying infant under my roof most tiresome.

About those star-charts for Aman, could we not reach an agreement on this? I assure you we have no intent of defying the Ban. It is only for the sake of scholastic curiosity that I make the request. I have been a worshipper of Lady Varda and a student of the heavens since my youth. I have assembled a vast collection of charts from all parts of the realm and even the Hither Shores. A star chart of Aman would complete the glaring gap in my library of knowledge.

Could you please also explain why it is that Gil-Estel seemed to be following an erratic path recently? I am sure it is some heavenly phenomena with a proper explanation. I do not buy the explanation put forward by your nephew Finrod two years back that Gil-Estel’s helmsman was drunk from celebrating my wedding. It is a bit too much like the Elvish folklore about the Moon wooing the Sun. Surely they were not celebrating my son’s birth with a tipple.

Irimon Elentimo, a humble student of the heavens


 

Second Age 700, Tirion on Tuna

Dear Son

For the love of the Valar, Finrod, cease passing the fruits of your vineyard to the Vingilot’s crew! I have been receiving complaints through various Maiar from Lady Varda and Lord Ulmo about the Vingilot’s erratic steering through the night sky. There was that near-miss with Tilion last month, and that incident with a Numenorean fishing vessel last week. I understand you wish to ease the loneliness and boredom of sailing the night sky for Earendil and his mates but please, there has to be a better way other than with alcohol. Some mariners use Gil-Estel for their navigations and we do not wish for any Numenoreans to accidentally break the Ban due to their flawed navigation.

People could get killed that way, and I mean people we will not be expecting to return to their families from Mandos, ever. Perhaps we should just instruct Tar-Elendil and his people not to use Gil-Estel in their navigational calculations.

Arafinwe Noldoran

P.S. Elwing paid a flying visit to her husband’s vessel and was not amused to find him naked and out-cold drunk at the helm. Do not be surprised if you encounter an angry albatross (it is the latest bird form Elwing has mastered).

Chapter Text

Second Age 710, Andustar

Dear Lord Earendil

I am your descendant Anardil and you are my hero! Aunt Silmarien says you will get this letter from Prince Earlindo via Eagle. I really hope you do. I really, really love all those tales Grandpa Veantur tells us about his travels and your adventures. Were you afraid fighting that nasty dragon? Did you fight that nasty giant spider like Grandma said you did? I wish I could be like you and Grandpa Veantur when I grow up. I want to go sailing, discover new lands, and have great adventures.  Cousin Valandil’s taking me to see the big ships tomorrow and I cannot wait. I wish I could learn to sail from you but I guess I have to settle for Grandpa.

Yours respectfully 

Anardil


 

Second Age 718, Andustar

Dear Lady Mornel

I am writing with regards to my nephew’s growing attraction to seafaring. I fear that the sea-longing of our forefather Earendil has re-awakened in the veins of young Anardil. This is the third time this month Valandil has had to retrieve his little cousin from aboard some ship in the harbour. It does not help much that his grandfather Veantur promised to take him sailing to Middle-earth once he is of age. Thankfully, his sister Ailinel is more sedate and content to remain home embroidering or visiting her grandparents at Veantur’s place down the road. She has a deft hand despite her tender years. Almarian has returned to her husband’s side now her children are old enough. I do not begrudge her a break as it has been a while since they were together. Irimon has made few trips away from his tower in Forostar in the past years. The last time he saw his family, Ailinel was still an infant. He would be surprised how much the children have grown in his absence.

My father despairs of Irimon ever fulfilling his kingly duties due to his obsession with the stars. My son has been nominated to sit on the Council of the Sceptre in hopes that he would be able to provide advice to his uncle when the time comes. My atto feels time is running out for him to train the next heir apparent. Anardil is more interested in seafaring than ruling. The attempt to get him to sit in council when we visited Armenelos two summers ago was a disaster. Getting bored, he started fooling about with his slingshot despite Valandil’s attempts to rein him in. The council hall just got new windows.

Do you still recall the dreams we had some decades back? I fear my nephew might be one of the players in the vision. He has the golden hair of his amme and the handsome looks of my brother. The mariners over by the docks jestingly refer to Anardil as young Earendil. He has shared with Valandil his dreams of exploring Middle-earth and the seas beyond, perhaps into the icy north and the farthest east. It is ironic that the King’s Heir sits in his tower like a hermit while his son burns to sail the open seas beyond our island.

May Lord Ulmo smile upon his ventures.

Silmarien of Andunie


 

Second Age 724, Forostar

Dear Law-father

Must you put such foolhardy notions of adventure into my only son’s head? Seafaring is a dangerous business and Anardil is so young. He is our only son and the next-in-line to the sceptre after me. What if some mischance should befall him? Of course, the council is encouraging me to try for another son as a spare but still… Could you not wait until he is older? Or not allow him to sail at all?

I know you have complaints about me not being there for my children. I believe it was the same for you as Captain of the King’s Ships, spending years away from your family when Almarian was growing up. Stargazing is much safer than seafaring. At least they know where to find me. Almarian is being tiresome too about this matter. She insists I allow him this little folly. I should have forbidden him from visiting your house in Andustar but I guess it is too late for that now. At least his sister has more sense about those tall tales of yours.

I guess I have to give my very reluctant consent for him to accompany you on your next voyage. Try to keep him safe.

Irimon Elentirmo, King’s Heir and student of the heavens

P.S. I am withdrawing that formal complaint against you I have lodged with the Council of the Sceptre as my fair Almarian refuses to allow me back into her bed otherwise.


 

Second Age 727, Andustar

Dear Lady Mornel

It is with great relief that we received news of the Numerramar’s arrival in port and Anardil’s safe return from Middle-earth. However, the expedition seems to have only whetted my nephew’s appetite for more adventure. Anardil seems set to set off yet again on another expedition. He has been seeking aid from my son as Irimon refuses to fund any further expeditions and Veantur is looking set to retire due to his age. Anardil has appealed to the Council of the Sceptre through Valandil for the king’s support. Tar-Elendil is undecided about this matter. On one hand, atto wishes to maintain good relations with the High King Gil-galad and Lord Cirdan in Lindon. On the other hand, maritime expeditions are a sizeable drain on the coffers, more so if they are exploratory. There is also that matter of Anardil being an only son.

The Council is proposing that Anardil take on a post in the forestry department. He may oversee the maintenance of the forests of eastern Numenor where many trees have been felled for the shipyards. I doubt this will quell his sea-longing. My nephew seems to be considering this arrangement as a temporary measure while he tries to raise funds for another expedition. Veantur’s Numerramar is in need of a serious overhaul after this latest venture.

There have been suggestions of setting Valandil and his sons in the line of succession if any mischance should befall Anardil during his adventures. Others proposed Malantur, though he has no surviving sons we are aware of. Once more, Atto has been urged to revise the laws of succession but I doubt he is willing to take such drastic measures. I expect the sceptre will pass from Atto to my brother in due time, and then onwards to his son, as it should be. I pray that my grandchildren will be left to pursue their lives in peace far from the tiresome politicking of Armenelos.  

Silmarien of Andunie


 

Second Age 741, Formenos

 Dear Lady Silmarien

I trust you and yours are well.  News has reached us of your atar’s abdication in light of his failing health. I do hope he is comfortable in your household. I have sent with this letter an ointment which should help the aches in his joints. I hope I will be able to visit him at least once before his time comes. How is Tar-Meneldur coping with the rigours of kingship now he has deigned to move to Armenelos from his tower? It might be a little overwhelming for him. I hope Anardil (or Aldarion) is well too. We have heard much from Lord Osse of his last two expeditions to Middle-earth in Second Age 730 and 735 with Tar-Elendil’s support.

I understand that his ventures into forestry were successful too with regards to the management and replenishing of trees felled for shipbuilding. However, it would seem that his thoughts and heart remain on the waves for all the care he has lavished on the trees. Could you please put a word in with him for the poor little wood-owls? They need the mature alders for their nests and would appreciate if their homes on the eastern slopes of Orostar are left untouched. Likewise the mature firs which are home to the Numenorean black-winged falcons.

May the Valar bless you and your kin.

Mornel Feanoriel


 

Second Age 751, Finrod’s House outside Tirion

Dear Cousin Mornel

I have received your letter from Tol Eressea informing me of Elendil’s passing. No, it does not get any better no matter how many times you see the Secondborn pass, especially if it seems like just yesterday you were carrying them in their swaddling clothes. At least Elendil had the benefit of a peaceful death surrounded by friends and family instead of falling in battle or by violent means. The flame of the Secondborn burn both fast and bright compared to that of the Eldar. Even the children of Elros’ line are mortal despite their longevity. Perhaps that is why I have chosen to curtail my visits to Numenor. I suggest you do the same if it is starting to wear you down as even Valinor has its limits when restoring the Elven fea. We can only place our hopes in being reunited with them during the Second Music.

I understand your concerns about Aldarion’s sea-longing. I too sense a shadow rising in the distant east. It has always bothered me that a certain fallen Maia was not brought to task by Lord Eonwe. And no, I am not biased thanks to Sauron’s part in my demise. Perhaps like the Noldor before the Sun and Moon, the desire to return to the lands of their fathers or to explore the world beyond the boundaries of what they know burns strong. Aldarion will sail whether his kin likes it or not. We can only pray that Lord Ulmo and his Maiar smile upon his ventures and hope that the Shadow does not follow him home to Numenor.

On the other hand, it is great that the elves of Middle-earth are re-establishing diplomatic ties with the Numenoreans. Perhaps we might finally get some news of Elrond. The elves sailing from Lindon have no idea of his whereabouts or what he has been up to since the end of the War. The best information I got was he is serving in the High King’s court in Lindon in some post. Er, he chose to take the Path of the Eldar, right?

Finrod Felagund

Chapter Text

Second Age 800, Andustar

Dear Lady Mornel

As the years start to weigh upon me, I look forward to reuniting with my husband beyond the Circles of Arda. However, the growing rift between my brother and his heir is of gravest concern to the Council as they fear it would affect the stability of the realm. Aldarion has chosen to forgo the comforts of home in the Golden City of Armenelos to live out of his flagship the Eamber with a party of like-minded comrades. It is true that his sea-enterprises have brought much prosperity to the island but his father does not look kindly upon his ventures. Meneldur believes such forays only increase Aldarion’s restlessness and cause an unseemly desire for domination of other peoples. My son is trying his best to mend the rift between father and son to no avail.

Meneldur had decreed ten years back that there should be no more felling of trees for ship-building. This caused a good amount of hardship for the craftsmen employed in the industry. My son appealed to the king on their behalf for the industry’s relief to no avail. Aldarion proposed that the shipbuilders consider moving to the settlement in Middle-earth he had founded during his travels. Thus we lost some of our finest shipbuilders. The Council is urging my brother to allow shipbuilding on Numenor to resume.  We understand that the land is rich in natural resources which we have already depleted in Numenor. Methinks Aldarion intends to expand the Numenorean fleet by building more ships with wood from Middle-Earth.

My brother has plans to officially name Aldarion as King’s Heir but I doubt this will curb his sea-longing.

Silmarien of Andunie

P.S. Valandil has just informed me that Aldarion is working on designing a new type of ship for lengthier voyages. Here we go again…


 

Second Age 805, Armenelos

Dear Friend Earlindo

I am going stir-crazy stuck in this golden cage of a palace. I knew it was a mistake agreeing to move here for my amme’s sake. The council meetings are a bore and atto’s attempts to get me interested in the heavens only make things worse. Stars are only good for navigation. Period. I do not see the point of tracing fancy patterns in the sky like atto does. I miss the sound of the waves and the salty sea breeze against my face.

Then there are all those idiotic lords throwing their daughters my way. I do not appreciate finding my bed occupied by some scantily-clad maiden of noble blood when I just want to get some decent sleep. Seriously, I am taking to sleeping on the roof and getting my favourite mastiff Mudface to sleep in my bed instead. I bet he would really enjoy their company.

Your fellow mariner

Aldarion 


 

Second Age 806, Armenelos

To His Majesty Arafinwe Noldoran

I am seeking your advice as to how I may deal with my wayward heir-apparent. This morning he saw fit to leave the capital and take off on board one of his vessels for Middle-earth. The Valar knows I have put up with his childishness long enough. I had to give him my grudging permission for my wife’s sake. No more. I absolutely forbid my wife and daughters from greeting him on his return as they have done ever since he started sailing on those voyages. I mean, he obviously has Lord Ulmo’s favour to have survived so many sea-ventures. Is it necessary to have a big turnout on his return to encourage him? The ladies are not too happy about it but I am sure Almarian will understand.

At his age, it is time he settled down with a suitable woman and start a family to carry on the royal bloodline. It is not as if I am asking him to attend all those tiresome council meetings (though it would help greatly if he took a keener interest in the matters of the realm instead of haring after distant lands). I have reliable councillors in the form of my nephew Valandil and distant cousin Hallatan to assist me. Still, it would be good to have my son pick up the business of ruling.

With all the years of wisdom behind you, could you suggest how I may curtail my rebellious son’s sea voyages?

Yours in friendship

Tar-Meneldur, King of Numenor

P.S. My queen is storming out of our bedroom as I write. She says she needs to visit her sister tomorrow. Did I do something wrong?


 

Second Age 806, Tirion on Tuna

Dear Tar-Meneldur

I regret to write that despite all my years, I have no solution to your problem as I am similarly plagued. Before the Sun and the Moon, my sons and daughter chose to ignore my pleas to return to the Blessed Realm and continue on their journey into Beleriand. My daughter chose to marry without my permission in Beleriand (though I must admit I quite approve of her choice). Even now, my eldest regularly ignores my invitations to council meetings and court banquets (despite being married and a father), in favour of mingling with the Avari to better understand their ways. My youngest son flatly refuses to return to the Blessed Realm despite my mother’s promises to introduce him to a suitable maiden to make him forget that ill-thought romance with some mortal maid.  

That said, I must maintain the importance of communication with one’s offspring. Sometimes they will surprise you (for better or worse). For better - my daughter Artanis turning out to be a leader in her own right. For worse - my eldest son forgetting what trouble oaths can be and getting killed as a result. That said, I understand your concerns on the succession. Would it be feasible to consider one of your daughters or a grandson as next-in-line in the case of any mischance? If all else fails, adopt a successor from a distant relation or suitable noble house. I must admit that had the Valar not returned Finrod, I would have been sorely tempted to name my niece as Regent during my absence in the War of Wrath.

Yours in friendship

Arafinwe Noldoran

P.S. Try not to antagonise your queen. Domestic bliss is hard to come by in a royal household and we make do with what we have. 


 

Second Age 824, Andustar

Dear Lady Mornel

I write to you seeking advice in what I fear is a matter of great delicacy. I suppose news should have reached you by now of the situation between Tar-Meneldur and his only son. Aldarion has taken off again on yet another sea-voyage, very much against his father’s wishes. My son has currently been dismissed from his post and sent home to Andustar for speaking in his cousin’s defence. Despite attempts by assorted nobles, my nephew has refused to take a wife from among the daughters of nobility.

There are whispers that my nephew’s eye has been caught by one of his mother’s ladies-in-waiting, a maid of great beauty but lowly birth. Do you still recall the visions of years past of the Mariner and his wife? I fear that Aldarion would be the mariner in that sad tale if the vision runs true to its course. I understand from my son that the maid in question is a child of the fields and woodlands of Emerie. She is also a proud lady unlikely to look kindly on her husband’s love for the sea.

On the other hand, there are fears from members of the Council that Aldarion might take a wife from the peoples of Middle-earth in the course of his travels, thus watering down the royal bloodline even further. Some have urged my brother to name as his heir his grandson Soronto by his daughter. The lad is still young but shows an interest in seafaring too, much to his parents’ dismay. Lord Malantur has made more frequent appearances in Armenelos on the off-chance he might be named heir given the estrangement between the king and his heir-apparent. Thankfully, my brother has not deigned to grant him an audience yet. Malantur’s conduct leave much to be desired, especially when it comes to pretty maidservants barely of age, so my son reports.

As a daughter of the royal line, I feel it is my duty to assist my brother though the current laws forbid me from intervening in a more direct way. I would really like to ride over and slap some sense into both him and my nephew. Could you advise please?

Yours in friendship

Silmarien of Andunie


 

Second Age 824, Formenos

Dear Silmarien

I regret to write that I have no sound advice to offer. Both father and son are equally stubborn and take after your illustrious ancestors. It is a family failing that our pride tends to trip us up. Just ask Turgon about that debacle at Gondolin and bad decisions made concerning a certain gemstone. Not even repeated warnings and sound advice (including that from the Valar) can deter us once our minds are set.

The addition of new blood into the royal line would not be a bad thing – was not your late husband considered by the Council to be of lowly birth too? And look how well Valandil turned out. My father was a prince and he chose the daughter of a smith as his wife. If it were not for Morgoth and that Oath. I am sure my brothers would have been fine princes well-loved by all. If Aldarion does indeed find his soul-mate in Middle-earth, so be it. Though I believe his first love is and will always be the sea.  

If Aldarion and this unnamed daughter of the fields have already pledged their troth, it might be best for the Council to support them the best they can. This has echoes of Earendil and Elwing all over it.

I hope Valandil will enjoy his little sojourn in Andunie until he is re-instated in the Council by the king. As for our mariner-prince Aldarion, we can only pray that he continues to find favour with Lord Ulmo and returns safely home.

Yours in friendship

Mornel Feanoriel

P.S. Thank you for the gift of a classical Numenorean vase. Unfortunately, it did not survive Fearocco’s artistic critique. He stomped it to bits. 

Chapter Text

Second Age 858, Armenelos

Dear Prince Earlindo

It is my great joy to announce that my son is finally taking his royal obligations seriously, starting with matrimony. He has sent a suitable betrothal gift to the lady as his pledge – a magnificent diamond. I suppose the Council would have preferred the lady to be of higher birth but at least he did not seek out one of the Druedain women. My son has had many dealings with the wild-folk in the course of his work in forestry.

The betrothal was way overdue in my opinion. We hope the wedding will swiftly follow. Aldarion should consider himself fortunate his beloved did not grow weary of waiting for his return. Twenty cycles of the sun indeed! More than enough time to have a dozen children or so. We pray that Aldarion will settle down after the wedding. Surely with such a fair maiden waiting for him, Aldarion would not disappear off on another lengthy voyage.

Erendis is a charming young lady and we hope that she would provide Aldarion with a robust son to carry on the royal line. Otherwise we might have to settle for that oaf Malantur or my grandson Soronto (possible with a few tweaks to the current laws of succession). Surprisingly at his age, Cousin Caliondo is still an annoyance to all in urging we name his son King’s Heir. We are hoping the combinations of council arguments and drink might just do his heart in.

Once more, we thank you for your generous friendship

Tar-Meneldur, King of Numenor


 

Second Age 870, Vingilot’s cabin

Dear Aldarion

I am writing this letter from my cabin on the Vingilot from which I have been observing your exploits. In many ways you remind me of myself in my younger days, before I started sailing the sky. I hope that it will reach you in time to prevent you from making the same mistakes I did in my youth. Adventuring is great but there comes a time when one must consider other matters of importance. In your case, it is your duty not only as King’s Heir but as a husband and father to your future offspring.

I messed up in my own way, leaving my young wife Elwing to lead our people alone when she most needed my support. I left my sons behind and lost them both. In the ways of the Eldar, it is said that the love of both parents are needed for the healthy growth of youngsters. Do not make the same mistakes I did in neglecting my children.

Perhaps you might consider cutting back on your sea-ventures until your children are grown? We understand that your bride is of a lesser birth and hence will have a shorter lifespan. Treasure the time you have together.

Wishing you the best

Earendil


 

Second Age 877, Andustar

Dear Lady Mornel

I know that it is no longer my place to meddle in the domestic matters of the royal house but troubling news has reached us. Lady Erendis has taken her infant daughter and left the palace in a huff after my nephew left on yet another sea-venture. It is as we feared. Aldarion refuses to be bound to the land as his wife would prefer he be. We had hopes the birth of a child would bind their hearts closer. Alas this was not to be. I guess eight years was too much for Aldarion to put up with the sea-longing. We should have suspected something was up when he started visiting Veantur’s old place in Romenna, next to the Guild of Shipwrights.

Erendis resented her husband’s lengthy absences from her side even during their betrothal. It is doubtful if she would even heed her husband’s command to return to Armenelos but Aldarion is now at sea and we do not know when he will return. My brother is furious by his law-daughter’s actions but he has no power to order her (or the child’s) return from her family farm. Valandil’s servant has ridden over to the farm and reports that the place, though isolated, is well-kept. It should provide reasonable comfort to both mother and child. 

I understand that life as part of the royal house in Armenelos has been difficult for Erendis without her husband’s support. Irimon could have done better to make her feel at home but since Almarian’s passing last fall, my brother has sought refuge in his star charts once more. I regret that due to my own frailty, I am unable to make the journey to the capital for the poor child’s sake.

Yours in friendship

Silmarien of Andunie


 

Second Age 877, Tirion-on-Tuna

Dear Silmarien

Leave Erendis with her family and pray they will guide her. It would be advisable for Aldarion to seek her forgiveness on his return. Did he not seek his wife’s permission before leaving? Sailing to Middle-earth without his atto’s leave is one thing but not telling his wife? Issuing royal commands will only make things worse for everyone.

I understand that Aldarion might not have had the best role-models in this aspect. Tar-Meneldur spent much time holed up in his observatory away from his family and Aldarion’s maternal grandfather often spent time away from his own family whether at sea or in his second house near the shipyards of Romenna. By the way, Lord Earlindo described it as a workshop rather than a family home, having visited it once with Aldarion. From your letter, I doubt Erendis would be as accommodating of her husband’s quirks as Almarian and his grandmother.

My meddlesome kin has once more beaten me to the letter and have their myriad suggestions. The domestic discord of the King’s House is of much concern even here in Tirion. I have excluded the more outlandish ones. Uncle Ara suggests Aldarion serenade his wife and beg her for forgiveness. Bring flowers or a little present. Aunt Anaire suggests winning her family’s support so that they may slip in a good word for him. However, time is of the essence as the longer the lady stews in her bitterness, the more uphill the battle to win her back will be.

Your friend

Mornel Feanoriel


 

Second Age 878, Tower on the Shadowy Seas

Dear Erendis

Forgive my directness in writing to you but news of your unhappy situation has reached as far as the Blessed Shores. First, I beg you reconsider for the welfare of your child. As a royal princess, she would need to be educated in court matters and that is not going to happen on a farm in the middle of nowhere, as much as you would wish to shield her from the larger world.

Next, it is the effect of your marital discord upon a young child. Among the Eldar, both parents are needed to provide a wholesome environment for growing elflings. In the event one parent is lost or away, the burden will fall upon the remaining parent. Any bitterness or grief felt by the remaining parent will also be felt keenly by the child and stunt their growth. The effect may not be as pronounced in the Edain but it might still be there.

Hence I would advise a reconciliation with your lord on his return. Surely your love and the happy memories shared outweigh the sorrow of parting? Please put aside your pride and greet him on his return as his loving wife.

Elwing, wife of Earendil


 

Second Age 882, Romenna

Dear Friend Earlindo

Would you believe the nerve of that woman? I return from a long sea voyage to learn that she has taken our daughter off to some miserable farm in the middle of nowhere. As a prince of Numenor, I have duties to attend to and I expect her to keep my house in order during my absence. Is that too much to ask of her? I have urgent and very important business concerning diplomatic ties with Middle-earth I must bring to my atto’s attention. Surely a good wife should be more understanding?

Other mariners have their wives and family waiting on the quay to greet them but not me. My aunt and father are urging me to reconcile but I am definitely not going to beg her to come back. Our daughter is another matter though.

About this entire king business, I am having some second thoughts about leaving my wife in charge as regent or guardian of our children when I succeed to the throne. Sad to say, but Erendis might find a simple life in the countryside more to her liking. Aunt Silmarien might make a good guardian for my daughter but she is getting on in years.  I should get more able councillors to fill in for me when I am at sea. Cousins Valandil and Hallatan have been of much assistance to my atto. Perhaps they might lead my children into courtly life as well.

Your fellow mariner

Aldarion


 

Second Age 882, Armenelos

Dear Lord Mornel

I am writing solely out of concern for the welfare of my people. Tar-Meneldur is slipping into his dotage and his son has no intention of settling down to rule. He did have a young girl-child with that peasant wife of his but I doubt he will be fathering any sons on that skinny wench. That meddlesome old woman in Andunie is urging the couple reconcile but we would prefer that they part ways. Not that I entertain any thoughts of treason.

As the closest direct male descendant of Elros Tar-Minyatur, I do not wish to see the realm flounder under the ineptness of the King’s Heir and his daughter. Well, the lass may be fair to look upon but what does a mere female know about ruling? Better for her to chase butterflies in the meadows like her Nana’s sheep.

It is to my regret that my wife has left me no sons, only worthless daughters. I am considering taking another. Alas, the laws set by the Valar discourages this. However, I noted an exception made for the person of Finwe Noldoran in the Years of the Trees. As his grandson, could you please lend me your support? The royal house needs sons to carry on the name. I have written to the Noldoran, his nephew, and his son for support but they have not yet replied.

Perhaps I should offer my services as guardian to the princess seeing her mother is incapable of taking care of her properly. That would be a start. I would be able to strengthen the royal line by marrying the princess once she is of age and sire future kings. I believe that I will still be virile enough for that. I do not understand why my atto is laughing as I outline my plans for the future.

Lord Malantur, scion of the royal House of Elros

P.S. We will remember your friendship richly if you would support my venture.


 

Second Age 882, Formenos

“Are you going to reply to that letter?” Pityo wrinkled up his nose with distaste.

Mornel shook her head with a smile and stuffed the offending letter into their fire, just as her kinsmen had done with theirs. Telvo stoked the flames with glee and heaped another log on.

“Shall we check with Finrod and Arakano if they want to set this Malantur straight?” Caranthir suggested from where he was embroidering a sleeve for his wife’s new dress. He had returned from Lorien quietly some weeks back and was setting about preparing a gift of apology before going to surprise her in Tirion where she was staying with her family for a festival.

“He’s not worth the bother,” Mornel shrugged. The twins’ wives were pottering about in the kitchens and she could hear them making the finishing touches to the evening meal. “Any news on who else is returning?”

“Irisse is not yet ready. Turgon refuses to leave without his sister though his wife has long returned to Valmar. Fingon the Valiant is not leaving without Nelyo. Uncle Nolo refuses to return without his children. Aegnor is batting about like a lovesick puppy and Angrod is not going until his son and granddaughter are ready to leave Mandos,” Caranthir reported. Nothing was said about their remaining family.

Both Caranthir and Helwien were proud, quick-tempered, and strong-willed. However, Caranthir was making a small step towards their reunion. A rumour had spread among the Exiles that Caranthir had taken up with a woman of the Haladin in Beleriand who bore a passing resemblance to his wife. The news had greatly irked Helwien.

There had been concerns among many that the return of Caranthir would spell an end to Mornel’s governing of Formenos. However, Caranthir made it clear that, like his twin brothers, he had no intention of unseating his sister. His purpose in returning was to mend his marriage with Helwien. He might consider dedicating himself to his chosen craft and Lady Vaire if his wife would not have him back. 

“Haleth was so much like Helwien. She was a warrior and a leader. Perhaps I saw in her the daughter we could have had had we remained together,” Caranthir confessed to his siblings in an unguarded moment.

“Do you think it might be too late for Aldarion and Erendis? After all, Earendil and Elwing did reconcile eventually…”  Telvo asked.

“It is possible, if they would both set aside their stubborn pride,” Mornel replied.

Chapter Text

Second Age 885, Emerie

“I cannot believe you allowed me to be talked into this…” Arakano whined as he swatted at a gnat pestering him. Mornel ignored his complaints and soldiered through the tall grass of the meadow. She could hear the sound of children at play outside a farmhouse.

“Ibal, wait for me!”

Mornel adjusted her headscarf, ensuring her ears were kept hidden. There were two children. The boy seemed older, already growing into lanky adolescence. The girl was a child still and will continue to be for a few years more. The children of the House of Elros matured more slowly than their counterparts in the Edain even with the blessings of Eru. They would outlive their playmates barring mischance.

The boy caught a butterfly in his net and showed it to his friend.

“Why can’t Silmarien make this trip herself?”

“Because the weight of mortality is on her. Her legs ache terribly and she almost died of a cold last month just travelling to the capital,” Mornel replied. “Her lungs have to recover first before any further travels.” She reminded herself that Arakano was unfamiliar with the ways in which age could afflict the Edain. She should be more patient with her cousin. A strangled cry followed by curses informed her Arakano had stepped on a cowpat.

The commotion finally got the children’s attention.

“Who are you? We received few visitors here,” the boy asked warily. The girl timidly scooted behind him at the sight of strangers.

“We seek Lady Erendis…” Mornel started.

“My mistress will not receive you, nor any from Armenelos,” a red-faced country woman waddled out of the farmhouse. She made some shooing motions and the children scurried back into the house.

“The golden court of Armenelos did not send us. We come for the sake of friendship from the western shore of Andunie,” Mornel continued.

“Lady Silmarien and her son then?” the country woman laughed. “Here to coax my lady back to that golden cage?”

“Nay, your mistress may stay where she chooses. It is the heir’s welfare that concerns us. Perhaps one day she will be a queen. She will need to learn…”

“If this concerns my daughter’s welfare, perhaps we should speak,” Erendis stepped out of the house. Her daughter clung timidly to her skirts. 

“Does she know her father and what is expected of her?” Mornel asked. “Has she learnt her letters?”

“No, she knows not and I see no need to send her to Armenelos for that,” Erendis replied. “We have taught her to read and write here…”

“Perhaps tutors should be sent from the royal court to school her in other subjects then, if they could be persuaded.” Mornel knew the rustic farm would deter many of the royal tutors.

“If they will not be persuaded, then she must go without.”

“Is it for the best?” Mornel countered. “Lady Erendis, given your husband’s rank, your child will rise to a lofty status in the realm. Will you have her grow up ignorant and vulnerable? It is a sad fact but as things stand, her gender will put her at a disadvantage. Already the vultures are gathering as Tar-Meneldur walks towards the sunset of his life. You cannot protect her forever…” 

The child keened and clutched more tightly to her mother’s skirts. Mornel fought the desire to comfort the child. She could not waver. 

“I will think on your words, now be gone!” Erendis retorted and spun around to go indoors. The child followed. The country woman who have remained silent throughout the exchange hesitated, her eyes darting from Mornel to Arakano, before following her mistress within.

Without further ado, Mornel took her leave.

“Oh, that went well…” Arakano remarked.  

“She will accept the offer the next time Tar-Meneldur extends it,” Mornel said confidently.

“What makes you so sure?”

“Because she loves her daughter and fears for her future. I saw it in her eyes.”

“Why is it so important to you the princess gets educated in Armenelos?”

“Because she is a princess and might one day be Ruling Queen.”

It could have been so different, Mornel thought. She had seen in young Ancalime herself as an elfling, ignorant and innocent in her grandfather’s forge.

“She reminds you of yourself, right? That child…” Arakano realised as his mind skirted against hers.

Mornel nodded. She mentally lifted her shields to block Arakano from probing further.

“I see what you mean. More so that she is already in the line of succession or else a likely stepping stone for any lord who desires the sceptre for his own,” Arakano admitted.

With the endless years of the Eldar, there was never any likelihood of Mornel succeeding her uncle. Moreover, should Arafinwe had faltered in his leadership, there was his mother or uncle Ingwe to stand in his stead as regent. The stigma of being Feanor’s daughter deterred most suitors despite Lady Indis’ attempts to have Mornel matched with a suitable spouse.

Had Arafinwe remained ignorant of her existence or declined to provide her with the education befitting a granddaughter of Finwe, it was likely she would have faded into obscurity among her mother’s kin. She would not have been able to assist her uncle, help reunite him with his queen, or rally the Noldor to reclaim Formenos and have it prosper.

A pair of hands in her grandmother’s house to sweep and clean the place. Everything would have just passed her by - the intricate and dangerous games played in the royal courts, the horrors of the War… Yet she would never have made the many friends she did in Aman and across the Sea – the generous King Olwe and his cheerful queen, kind Prince Ingwion, brave Galadriel, and many more besides.

Your life and the tapestry of our grandfather’s house was made so much richer for that, Arakano sighed in his mind. He strode on ahead of Mornel, eager to find a suitable inn before nightfall.

Mornel stole a backward glance at the farmhouse. The country woman was taking in the washing. The young princess was assisting her, a large basket in her arms. Lazy butterflies danced in the sunlit meadows. Somewhere a cow lowed. It was a picture of peace.

There had been times when she yearned for the simple life. Aunt Lalwen’s farm had provided a welcome respite for her on the occasions when her duties at Formenos got too much. Before the War, she had also sought solace at her maternal grandmother’s place or made a trip to Lorien to visit Aunt Findis. In Armenelos, Ancalime would remember this corner of Numenor always as a refuge of calm amidst the turbulent currents of courtly life.

Chapter Text

Second Age 892, Emerie

Dear Lady Mornel

I am Ancalime Aldarioniel, now King’s Heir. I understand from my tutors that I am required to marry and produce an heir by a certain age or the Sceptre will go to Cousin Soronto instead. I am not thrilled by the prospect of turning my life over to some male. I am sure you will agree with me that men are nothing but trouble. Grandpa keeps encouraging me to spend more time with the younger lords of the Council or their sons, which I find most tiresome. Despite abdicating, Grandpa still hangs about the palace and stands in for Atto when he is away from the capital. Hence I have gone back to my amme’s place to get away from the matchmaking.

Grandaunt Silmarien often mentioned your name to me before she passed. She mentioned that you are unmarried and a leader among the Eldar. Could you please advise me how I may avoid the trap that is marriage? Amme always said the biggest mistake of her life was marrying my atto. I don’t think my Atto and her are that close now. He never visits her on the farm, even if he allows me to spend my summers here. Atto tries to explain things to me about Middle-earth but I do not care for that distant shore. All we need is here in Numenor. Surely the elves can deal with the Shadow there on their own! 

Amme warns me that I must be careful not to fall for the honeyed words of the lordlings. I never had any male friends before, except Ibal (who was the cook’s son). I do not think atto would approve if I married him. Anyhow, he is married to another servant now. He warns me that there are many strangers asking about me. Perhaps it is time that I move elsewhere. 

Yours in friendship

Ancalime Aranel

P.S. Thank you for the gift of the embroidered floral mantle. Sadly, I doubt I will have opportunity to don it out here in the countryside. You have indeed inherited the embroidering skills of your grandmother.

P.P.S. You should have seen Uncle Malantur’s face when Uncle Valandil informed him you were a nis and not a ner as he was so convinced you were. Then I mentioned your grandmother was Miriel Serinde herself. Malantur went a funny shade of green and ran out of the hall. At least he has stopped bothering me.


 

Second Age 892, Formenos

Dear Ancalime

You are young, and there is much your grandfather and father seek to impart to you from their years of experience in the royal court. Leaving the capital at this moment may not be in your best interests. I must confess that as a princess, there are certain pitfalls you will need to avoid. There will be men who will see you as a stepping-stone to the kingship for themselves. The Council may have its reasons for the restrictions set on your succeeding your father though I cannot agree with them. In my opinion and experience, it is not necessary for a woman to marry to lead.

Perhaps I am seeing things from an Eldar point of view, where succession is less of an issue? Though you have no nieces or nephews, you have cousins from which to name your successor if the need should arise. My cousin Finrod adopted an orphan as his heir in Nargothrond before settling on his nephew. I understand that your cousin Soronto is much liked by your father as he supports the sea ventures to Middle-earth. If you feel they are fit for the role, you could name him or his children as your heirs.

Diplomacy is an important art you will need to master as King’s Heir. Numenor is an island but it has ties with both Middle-earth and Aman. It will be foolhardy for her rulers to ignore the happenings in Middle-earth. As future ruling queen, you will need allies in court, regardless of their gender. In rebuilding Formenos, I have received much help from many people, neri and nissi alike. As to marriage, I am afraid I am ill-suited to advise you on this as I am rarely sought after as a wife. That said, I have been advised that there are two parties in a marriage and as in any union of two separate souls, compromises should be expected. Any happily-married couple would advise you that mutual love, honesty, and understanding are the keys to a lasting and blissful relationship.

May the Valar smile upon your House and guide you.

Mornel Feanoriel

P.S. I will convey your thanks to my brother Caranthir and his wife Helwien who created your mantle between them. The mantle was a product of their cooperation and compromise over many weeks. I am not particularly gifted in needlework unlike my brother.


 

Second Age 985, Emerie

Dear Lady Mornel

My amil is gone. Nevermore will Tar-Aldarion sail from Numenor, so Atto swears. I do not know what happened exactly. Amme has turned grey and frail, while my atto is still in the vigour of his years. They say it was due to our Elvish blood from Elros Tar-Minyatur. He started sailing again in S.A. 900. I heard that Amme drowned in the sea off Romenna. Amme never goes to greet him on his return. I do not know if the servants are keeping something from me. Amme seemed so much sadder with the passing years. Maybe Amme did go to Romenna quietly to watch atto’s ship sail in? Atto told me I can stay here on the farm as long as I need to grieve. I wish Grandaunt Silmarien or Grandfather were still around to advise me and Atto. Atto seems so lost when I last saw him.

I am scared and confused, but at least I have found a friend in a fellow shepherd, Mamandil. He is so charming and has such a lovely voice. I think he really loves me for who I am and I might love him, but I am not sure. I have not told him I am a princess, yet. I do hope Atto will not send for me so soon though, a marriage with Mamandil would be out of the question. Princesses do not marry shepherds, right?

Ancalime Aranel


 

Second Age 985, Elwing’s Tower

“A black thing indeed,” Elwing remarked as the elves discussed the news the birds brought from Numenor. She shivered at the memory of her own plunge from a cliff.

Mornel took the teapot from her and refilled the guests’ cups. Finrod was subdued. His law-sister Eldalote picked at the braiding on her sleeve. Arakano chewed his teacake thoughtfully. His pet falcon flapped her wings uneasily, perched on the window sill. 

“Erendis was old. Perhaps she lost her footing and fell,” Mornel conceded. A murmur ran through those present.

Yes, perhaps she did fall. It was an accident. That was all there was to it.

Soon the conversation turned to the nesting habits of seagulls and the latest craze for pet peacocks in Tirion.


 

Second Age 995, Armenelos

Dear Friend Earlindo

That foolish boy Hallacar has really done it this time. Approaching my daughter under false pretences indeed! I have half a mind to exile him to Middle-earth (along with his father Hallatan for complicity). My poor Ancalime is in shock. She was so convinced he was that honest shepherd he claimed to be. I do suppose if my daughter had spent more time in Armenelos instead of in Emerie, she might have recognized Hallacar for who he is. The Council is urging the pair to wed and quickly produce offspring for the royal line. As a descendant of Elros Tar-Minyatur, we cannot ask for someone more highly born.

Hallacar does sound genuine in his suit but I am not sure whether I can safely entrust my only child to him. At the present moment, Ancalime wants nothing to do with him at all. Her previous enthusiasm and ardour for him have waned to the point of frigidness. Cousin Valandil is urging caution and reminding everyone we still have my nephew Soronto if things do not work out with Ancalime, so there is no need for a hasty decision with regards to her matrimonial situation.

More worrisome are the rumours coming out of the countryside where my daughter and her duplicitous beau had been living for the past ten cycles of the sun alleging impropriety. The gossip is ruining my little girl’s chances of a decent marriage! Do you not suppose that had my daughter indeed birthed a child in secret, we would know about it by now? I do have the servants report to me regularly on my daughter’s well-being.

I feel that I have failed Erendis all over again with this debacle. Once more I yearn to sail away on the waves of Lord Ulmo’s realm from this headache.

Your fellow mariner

Tar-Aldarion   

P.S. Some bright spark suggested having Soronto marry Ancalime (laws of the Valar aside) but both are definitely not keen on the idea. Understand my nephew already has a fair maiden he intends to take as his wife. 


 

Second Age 1000, Formenos

Dear Ancalime

Child, are you truly willing to accept Hallacar as your husband?

News has reached the Blessed shores of your impending union. It is quite a shock given the letters you have written to us in the past cycles of the sun. You have made clear your opinion on the institute of marriage and your dislike of your former beau. If you recall our letters to you, we urge caution and consideration in place of haste. You might find someone more deserving. Or have you truly forgiven Hallacar for his ill-advised deception?

As much I would like to advise you in these matters, I fear I am ill-qualified to do so. I have yet to meet Hallacar personally, but my cousin Finrod feels he is a well-meaning romantic with silly notions of pastoral idylls. Perhaps you are not the only noble who likes to play at shepherd? He feels the fool had kept up to the deception for thus long on ill-considered advice from his kinsmen, including his father (who really should have known better). Then again, Cousin Finrod is partial to seeing the good in everyone he meets.

If you are unwilling, please make haste to call off the wedding. Never mind about what your atto, or the council will say. Marriage is a life-long matter and it would be a shame to squander your chance to find your true soulmate.

Mornel Feanoriel

Chapter Text

Second Age 1003, Armenelos

Dear Friend Earlindo

My daughter has been safely delivered of a healthy baby boy. However, she does not seem to greet the birth with as much joy as expected of a new mother. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact she had been preparing a wardrobe in anticipation of a daughter. The marriage between Hallacar and my daughter is all but over. I hope he will continue to play a part in his son’s life even as he leaves the city for his father’s estate of Hyarastorni. We had such great hopes that my daughter’s heart would eventually soften towards him. She did assent to the union after all. Or perhaps she now finds his serenading tiresome.

Now that I have been sitting down and attending to court matters, it has come to my attention that the royal coffers are a little bare after years of costly sea-ventures. Hence we have decided to dispense with the week-long celebration gala for my grandson’s naming ceremony in favour of a one-day festival. I hope your people will understand.

I intend to hand over the sceptre soon, despite my misgivings about my daughter’s ability as a leader. Perhaps I should wait until my grandson is of age before doing so to allow Ancalime a chance to enjoy motherhood. And hopefully do something about those royal coffers.

Your fellow mariner

Tar-Aldarion

P.S. I promise not to increase the harbour taxes to fill the coffers. You can rest assured on that.


 

Second Age 1075, Armenelos

“You are Lady Mornel, aren’t you? Perhaps you could put in a good word for me…” The prince consort had tried to win back the favour of his wife to no avail. Hallacar now lived on the periphery of court circles. 

“It is a little late, isn’t it?” Mornel replied icily as she side-stepped the prince consort. She was already running late. The guards barred him from entering the main ceremonial hall. The rest of the elven delegation had already taken their places within for the ceremony. Tar-Aldarion was now grey-haired although his eyes were still alert. Richly-clad in silks, brocades, and jewels, his daughter mounted the dais with the assistance of her ladies. Mornel thought the dress was a little over the top. Prince Anarion from among a knot of young nobles indifferently watched his mother receive the sceptre.

Once she had secured her position as King’s Heir with the birth of her son, Ancalime had thrown herself entirely into mastering the intricacies of court from her father and tutors. Young Anarion’s upbringing was left to his nurses and tutors. In the months leading up to his abdication, Tar-Aldarion had allowed his daughter increasing participation in the council matters.  

There were some policies Ancalime implemented which caused some controversy. New taxes were levied on all seafaring ships sailing out to Middle-earth. There was a quota imposed on the harvesting of timber on the island, which threatened to stymie the shipyards of Romenna. However, there were also some policies which won her the hearts of her future subjects. There were the new laws on the rights of wives and children. A welfare system had been set up for widows and orphans of seafarers and other workers involved in perilous industries like building and forestry.

The elven delegation applauded politely alongside the rest of the court at the end of the queen’s first official speech. They could hear the prince consort shouting outside the heavy gates of the palace where the guards had probably escorted him to.

“Think she will ever have him back?” Finrod whispered. Mornel shook her head. Ancalime was done with romance and matters of the heart.  That much she had inferred from the letters they had exchanged in the years since Anarion’s birth. Half-baked suggestions from various nobles and ploys to help Hallacar win back his wife only infuriated Ancalime further and turned her heart against her husband. Ending the marriage was out of the question but it was over as far as she was concerned.

As Ancalime grew in confidence as a ruler, her letters to Mornel would trickle to almost nothing. Mornel would later wonder if Ancalime ever regretted her marriage. What a pity… There were friendships and alliances with certain lords of the Council that the queen shared in her letters, but there had never been a single whisper of scandal attached to them. There was always a political aspect to these alliances. The queen would not hesitate to end a friendship should it prove not to be in her, or Numenor’s, interest or benefit.  

The years had hardened little Ancalime indeed. Mornel was hard-pressed to find the wide-eyed child she recalled from that long-ago visit to Emerie.


 

Second Age 1098, Tol Eressea

Dear Tar-Ancalime

We send our condolences on the passing of your father Tar-Aldarion. He was a steadfast friend of the Eldar and a skilled mariner – a worthy descendant of Earendil the Mariner. We hope to continue cordial relations with your people under your rule.

Prince Earlindo

P.S. My nephew Finrod enquires if you will give Hallacar a chance.


 

Second Age 1098, Armenelos

Dear Prince Earlindo

My father took his death in the port-city of Romenna from which he had set off on so many sea-ventures. You will be pleased to know that it was peaceful, so his servants reported. It happened one evening as he was watching the ships at anchor in the harbour. About those harbour tax exemptions, I am afraid that we will have to impose them on all ships from outside Numenor (including those of the Eldar), for the sake of fairness. My coffers are still light and we might need some more funds to keep our ports up and running. 

Yours in friendship

Tar-Ancalime

P.S. Tell Finrod I am done with Hallacar. That moron should consider himself lucky I still allow him contact with his son.


 

Second Age 1175, Formenos

Dear Tar-Ancalime

Congratulations on the arrival of your third grandchild. I send with this letter a small medallion of mithril with the White Tree upon it and wishes for Numenor’s continued prosperity. You have indeed established yourself as a ruling queen of Numenor. However, a matter of concern I (and my hopelessly romantic cousin Finrod) have is your latest decree with regards to your serving-women. A royal decree forbidding them marriage is a bit excessive, don’t you think?

Mornel Feanoriel


 

Second Age 1175, Armenelos

Dear Lady Mornel

What I decide for my serving-women is for their own good. I treasure them and it is a shame to lose them to some man who would probably misuse them. Not that they seem to appreciate it. My interfering husband has been implicated in the elopement plans of at least three of my ladies just this year. They should consider themselves lucky I am just dismissing them from service instead of imprisoning them and their men. As for Hallacar, I am sure someone else put him up to it (he is not particularly bright to start with), someone like a romantically-inclined elf-prince. I have written a diplomatic note to His Majesty Arafinwe regarding this.

I thank you for the gift for Surion. His older sisters have been causing me much vexation, as have his father. Anarion seems to have little interest or drive to manage Numenor’s interests. He is more interested in fashions and theatre. I regret not putting a tighter rein on him when he was younger. His wife has written to me more than once for help to pay off his debts to the tailor. As for my granddaughters, I do have hopes that one of them might succeed me but both seemed to have formed impossibly ill-considered relationships despite their youth. A court musician and a tailor’s apprentice are not suitable husbands for a future ruling queen.

It is not bad enough that my offspring and his vex me with their disinterest in the running of the kingdom, my council keeps expecting me to pass soon due to my Amme’s common blood and urge me to abdicate. I have no intention of handing over the reins of power at the moment given my heir’s ineptness. I will take the Gift in the manner of my predecessors but definitely not in the short term. 

Tar-Ancalime, First Ruling Queen of Numenor

P.S. Do you suppose my son’s weak-mindedness comes from his sire? I am considering outlasting him if that is the case.


 

Second Age 1175, Tirion-on-Tuna

Dear Son

I have received an official complaint from a fellow monarch regarding your interventions in the romantic endeavours of her courtiers. Just because the Beren-Luthien thing worked out so amazingly well does not mean you should go about encouraging young men and women without first considering their circumstances and their mutual sincerity. I heard that of the five marriages you enabled with Lord Hallacar’s aid, one husband turned out to be a wife-beating drunkard and the other a fortune-hunter.

I have also received a request to ban you from entering Numenor to encourage any more marriages. Unfortunately, I have to agree. Although three out of five is a reasonable score, it is not quite enough to justify your meddling in the matters of the Numenorean court. I do hope that rumoured dalliance between the eldest princess and her music tutor was not due to your intervention. It could not possibly work out and the queen will be furious.

Well done on those matches that did end up in happy, loving unions.

Yours sincerely

Arafinwe Noldoran

P.S. You may be interested to know one of the happy couples named their new son Nom in your honour before moving to Middle-Earth, so I heard from your Uncle Earlindo.

Chapter Text

Second Age 1280, Armenelos

Dear Uncle Ara

Please find below my report on recent events in Armenelos. Tar-Ancalime has finally relented to the Council’s demands to hand over the Sceptre to her son Anarion and acknowledge his son Surion as his father’s heir. Anarion has sworn to continue his mother’s policies (at least those made before Year 1270 when she was still of sound mind). Do expect the same rate of taxes to apply to Eldar ships and properties in Andunie. Perhaps I am being cruel but demanding the heads of one’s law-grandsons is a bit excessive after several decades of quiet, if strained, relations. Some noted that the queen’s moods became increasingly capricious after the passing of her consort in the winter of 1211, but I doubt that was what caused them, considering the week-long gala she threw afterwards and that new gown of gold cloth she had made. We seriously doubt that was standard Numenorean mourning practice.

Tar-Anarion has just settled on a modest and long overdue bride-gift for his daughters after confirming his son as King’s Heir. Both received land parcels in Emerie. As for speculation on whether his daughters desire to succeed the newly-crowned Tar-Anarion, I report that from all outward appearances, they have no desire to do so. In fact, the elder sister has made plans to sail to Middle-earth within the year with her husband and children after she has sold off her lands. The younger princess has chosen to turn hers into an apple orchard and remain in Numenor.

Tar-Ancalime has been accorded use of the same rooms in the palace where she has been living for the past decade or so, barely attending council meetings. Some of her loyal serving women have been granted leave to remain with their mistress in her last years. The sheep are another matter. The councillors thank Lord Manwe they won’t have to worry about goats eating their scrolls any more. Livestock have no place within a palace’s halls, unless they are the main course for a banquet.

I believe that Tar-Anarion will be a reasonable ruler, though we should not expect him to live up to the outstanding feats of his forefathers. His love of theatre and pomp should be reined in by the Council. I bet that gold brocade robe he wore for the ceremony cost a fair bit. Still, the festivities of his coronation party were quite a sight. There were dancers, clowns, and jugglers. They even had a fire-eater from the southern lands of Middle-earth. I was not too sure letting those big striped cats pad about the gardens was a good idea (even on leashes). What do the Avari call them? Tigers?  

The King’s Heir Prince Surion was overwhelmed by the entire spectacle. He barely appeared in court when his grandmother held the Sceptre. His guards had to beat off the eager maidens and matrons hoping to win him as their husband or law-son. He sought refuge among our delegation before the end of the party. We spirited him off to the guest wing to allow the poor lad some quiet. We understand that he had been staying with his amme in the city outskirts until quite recently. He seems quite a homebody.

Your loyal subject and nephew

Arakano Nolofinwion

P.S. Tar-Anarion has lifted his predecessor’s ban on Cousin Finrod entering Numenor, on the condition that he tutors Surion on the finer points of courtship. Hiding behind his parents’ robes is not going to win him a wife.


 

Second Age 1310, Tirion

Dear Tar-Anarion

My congratulations on your law-daughter. It certainly took a while to convince Surion of the benefits of matrimony. Not all women are as formidable as Tar-Ancalime, rest her fea beyond the Circles. She was quite a character and certainly left her stamp on the royal court of Numenor, and not just in the tapestries her goats got to.

I am sorry to hear that the night after the wedding feast did not go that well. I guess some things need time, even between loving couples. May I suggest sending those nosey servants away, far away? It is not necessary to have a court scribe outside the bedroom to record what should be a private moment. Even Tar-Ancalime did not meddle in your bedroom matters. I enclose here a list of fragrant herbs the couple may scatter on their bedding to get the mood just right. 

May the Valar bless your House with plenty of grandchildren.

Your friend

Finrod Felagund


 

Second Age 1320, Armenelos

Dear Arafinwe Noldoran

I am writing to announce the births of my twin grandchildren by my heir. It was a disastrous birth which cost the life of my law-daughter. I do wonder if your elvish healers would have done any better than the best healers of my court. I understand that there was a certain queen of the Eldar who died in childbirth despite the much vaunted immortality of the Eldar. Such is the fickleness of the Valar. At least we had the midwives and scribes confirm the times of their births so there is no confusion over that, like in the new play Cuckoo – about mixed-up royal babies. I really recommend that play if you have not seen it yet. Would you believe there are still scholars here debating whether my esteemed ancestor Elros Tar-Minyatur was the elder or younger twin? I do not believe it makes any difference as Elros got Numenor and nothing was heard of his twin. We can only presume what’s-his-name is transcribing manuscripts in some corner of the High King’s library or something if an orc hasn’t got him yet.

Due to the upcoming funeral of his wife, my son has requested that we forgo the customary pomp and celebrations for a royal birth. It is against my advice of course. The last thing our people need is a gloomy funeral, a most inauspicious start to the life of a future King’s Heir and her twin. We have decided to name the elder child Telperien and her younger twin brother Isilmo. If you intend to send us gifts for the children, by all means do so. We can arrange a small ceremony for your delegation to present the gifts. Twenty or so lords in attendance should suffice. Maybe a chorus and a dancing troupe?

Some of the council are suggesting that I pick a new bride for my son once the funeral is out of the way but my son set against it. Waving the Axe of Tuor at the lords is something I thought he never had it in him to do. Lucky he did not chip the heirloom as I just got it gilded in gold leaf.

Tar-Anarion, King of Numenor

P.S. May I suggest you send some of those fancy clockwork toys from Formenos for the royal children? Try to have them done in silver, gold, and with valuable gems. Brass, wood, and copper is so rustic.


 

Second Age 1330, Armenelos

Dear Lady Mornel

I am writing to you for advice on what I should do as future King’s Heir at the suggestion of Lord Arakano. Sorry if my Quenya is poor as I am just starting under my Quenya tutor. What do I need to learn? There seems an awful lot. Grandfather says I am still too young to attend council meetings with him. Atto has arranged a lot of lessons for me with the royal tutors.

Lord Arakano is kind and nice to us. He does magic tricks for us. He pulled out a coin from Isilmo’s ear yesterday. He also brings little toys and candies from the market where we are not allowed to go alone. I gave him flowers from the garden but my nanny scolded me.

Princess Telperien

P.S. My twin Isilmo is not much help. He gets fewer lessons than me. I wish I was not firstborn.

P.P.S Was the ferret biting Lord Arakano on the nose after he pulls it out of an empty bag part of the magic?


 

Second Age 1330, Formenos

Dear Princess Telperien

Being firstborn and your father’s heir brings with it great honour and responsibility. At the age of 10, you are not quite ready to sit at council meetings, which can be very tiresome for a child. Think hours of debate. Your atar is right in ensuring that you have a well-rounded education as the foundation for you to build your future rule on. It is a pity your twin seems to be missing out on the lessons. Try to start small. Learn all you can first about your home island – geography, history, and so on. Next, you may wade into the tangle of politics and foreign relations with Valinor and Middle-earth.

I am pleased that you have met my cousin Arakano. He will definitely look out for young ones like you. Try not to eat too many candies. And there is no need to give him flowers or anything more than your smiles (and do remember to applaud his magic tricks, even if they do not always work out like he hoped).

Mornel Feanoriel

Chapter Text

Excerpt from the private journals of Mornel Feanoriel

I received word from Cousin Arakano that Tar-Surion has succeeded his father. Unlike his mother, Tar-Anarion has decided to pass the Sceptre while most of his wits are still intact. Having witnessed the rapid decline of Tar-Ancalime’s mental faculties, he is not willing to tempt fate. Henceforth, he will retire to a palatial house outside the city limits but close enough for him to indulge his love for theatre. Perhaps in a few cycles of the Sun, he will take his death in private, passing beyond the Circles of Arda. The Council of the Sceptre is greatly dismayed that neither of Tar-Surion’s children have yet to marry. Perhaps they fear the royal line will end with Telperien or her brother.


 

Second Age 1400, the Bay of Andunie

“No, definitely not. Your atto will never approve,” Mornel shook her head vigorously. Finrod frowned and ran his fingers through the golden tangle of his braids. They were on the deck of Earlindo’s vessel, and approaching Numenor.

“The union of Man and Eldar occur not without a special Doom,” Earlindo added as he came on deck. “As much as we will it, it cannot happen without…”

“It almost happened between Aegnor and Andreth, but I parted them,” Finrod said quietly. The decision of his little brother to remain in Mandos until the Second Music still troubled him.  

“Perhaps that was part of the Music – that the first union of Man and Elf was meant to be Beren and Luthien,” Mornel added.

“Look, it has been many yeni since the Eldar lived on Numenor among the Secondborn but never have there been any union between them in that time,” Earlindo pointed out. “We are just too different in many aspects.”

“If any elf-lord is going to lose a son to the House of Elros, it definitely would not be you, cousin. Celeglass is far too wild to settle.”  

“There are whispers that Tar-Anarion’s health is failing him and he might be taking his death sooner rather than later,” Earlindo added. “The King’s Heir Telperien is beset by suitors, all of whom she has rejected.”

“Arakano reports that Prince Isilmo has turned his attention to the rebuilding of Numenor’s fleet. A navy is needed to protect the Numenoreans who have settled in Middle-earth,” Mornel added as they sailed into the harbour. “Arakano wishes to return to Valinor for it has been many seasons since he was last home.”

“Lord Penlod will be replacing him. Am I right, my lord?” Earlindo called out as a tall elf-lord came out from the cabin.

“Yes, it has been more than a yeni since my return from Mandos. I am eager to serve my liege in whatever way I can,” Penlod smiled. Statecraft was one of Penlod’s many gifts and the Noldoran judged that he would make an excellent replacement for his nephew.

“How does your lady-wife fare?” Mornel enquired.

“Thank you, Lady Mornel, for your concern. She is much better after your wonderful medicine,” Penlod bowed. 

“It was just mint tea,” Mornel smiled. Under his stern demeanour, Penlod hid a warm heart.

“It was the calmer sea. Lord Osse has taken his games elsewhere,” Earlindo laughed and gave the command for his crew to moor their vessel.


 

Second Age 1404, Armenelos

My Liege

I write to inform you of the passing of Tar-Anarion in the early hours of Yestare. He will be lain to rest beside his queen, who has been deceased for many decades. My wife and I have sent our condolences to Tar-Surion’s family. Prince Isilmo is currently abroad administering Numenor’s settlements in Middle-earth. Princess Telperien will preside over the funeral rites alongside her father Tar-Surion.  

There has been much pressure by the Council on both twins to wed but neither has yielded to the many proposals sent. Tar-Surion has allowed the decision to rest with his children, perhaps having drawn lessons from his grandmother’s matrimonial strife. There have been suggestions from the Council to seek a successor from the princely house of the Lords of Andunie should the children of Tar-Surion be without offspring. The current lord Valandil III is not keen on the idea as he feels his children are not up to the job.

Your humble servant

Penlod of the Houses of the Pillar and the Tower of Snow

P.S. On a private note, has my brother Penlin been released from Mandos yet? I would love to hand him back his House.


 

Second Age 1470, Armenelos

Dear Prince Earlindo Olwion

My apologies for the short notice. My son’s engagement was not approved by me or my Council but he has deemed fit to proceed with the marriage while in Middle-earth. I guess we should be thankful he has decided to marry as my heir-apparent is still unwed. The upcoming ceremony in Armenelos is just to make it official before any baby comes along. I have enclosed a separate official invitation with this letter.

The bride seems fair enough and hails from strong Numenorean, if not noble, stock. Her family settled in Middle-earth during her grandfather’s time – shipwrights and mariners, so we heard. We hope that the palace halls will soon ring with the games of royal children once more.

Telperien has started a formal correspondence with High King Gil-galad after much urging by Isilmo. Personally, I do not deem it fit to meddle overmuch in matters outside our island home but since we now have permanent settlements across the sea, it might be wise to keep cordial relations with the neighbours given the threat of orc-attacks and such. I do wish Isilmo would remain in Numenor after his marriage. Someone else can manage matters in Middle-earth on our behalf.

Tar-Surion, 10th King of Numenor


 

Second Age 1474, Armenelos

My Liege

Prince Isilmo’s lady-wife has delivered a healthy baby boy yesterday. However, the good news is tinged with sorrow as Prince Isilmo has passed beyond the Circles of Arda. The palace was disturbed in the early morning hours by a distraught princess Telperien racing to the stables in her nightgown. Your servant was called upon to administer some ‘Elvish’ medicine after the royal healers failed to calm her. Thankfully, my wife is familiar with herbs and made up a calming tisane of chamomile and lavender.

The cause of the princess’ distress was a vision of her twin all covered in blood. The truth of her vision was confirmed when a rider arrived from Romenna that afternoon. Despite the nearness of his wife’s delivery, Isilmo had gone to Romenna to oversee the building of new ships and quays for Numenor’s navy. While on his early morning inspection of a new quay, a wall had collapsed suddenly, and crushed the poor man. We understand from the messenger that he was likely dead before he even knew what happened.

The funeral will be held in Romenna due to the condition of the body. The prince will be buried on a hill overlooking the harbour he has sailed from so many times. His family is deep in their sorrow. Tar-Surion postponed the upcoming council meeting until further notice.

We pray that Lady Nienna will bless and comfort his family in their time of grief.

Your humble servant

Penlod of the House of the Pillar and House of the Tower of Snow


 

Second Age 1474, Armenelos

Dear Brother Penlin

I am overjoyed you are back from Lorien. You may find the summarized accounts of your House in the top right corner of the last bookcase in Atto’s library. I hope I have managed your House to your satisfaction in your absence. Your debts to Lord Rog and Lord Duilin are still outstanding. Rog has agreed to waive any interest. Please settle this matter soonest if Duilin is out from Mandos. He might not waive the interest.

I hope you do not mind but I have taken the liberty of dismissing most of your men (who preceded you in leaving Mandos) along with mine. It is a nightmare trying to manage both Houses without the generosity of Lord Turgon. A number of them have gone to Lord Tulkas’, while a large portion have taken up trade in Tirion with the settlement money I gave them. You owe me for that too.  

Your loving brother

Penlod

P.S. Your cook now runs a nice cafe in Tirion called The Cake House. I really recommend their strawberry cheesecake. 

Chapter Text

Second Age 1500, Armenelos

Dear Lady Mornel

The Eldar ambassador Lord Penlod mentioned to me that you are not only head of your House but also a seer of Lord Irmo. I would like your advice as I have been troubled by visions of darkness. I know that the gift of foresight runs in the bloodline of my forefather Elros Tar-Minyatur to varying degrees. I had witnessed from afar the death of my twin in a vision. Recently I have visions of a rising Shadow in the east. In a city of holly-trees, I see a smith of the Eldar toiling at his forge.  Behind him stands a malicious shadow. I see the Shadow touch the ships of my people in Middle-earth, sailing towards us. Our island is fouled by its taint. The White Tree withers and burns. 

It disturbs me greatly that my nephew has turned his attentions back to his father’s work on the naval fleet. Gil-galad’s letters bear warnings of a great Darkness rising in the east. Despite my friendship with Gil-galad and the ancient friendship with the Eldar, I am unwilling to risk my people. As such I have suggested to the Council that my nephew indulge his interest in construction of new buildings in Andunie, away from the eastern shores. The ambassador Penlod has some experience in city construction and I have extended a strong request for him to act as a consultant to my nephew.

After much careful consideration, I have decided to forgo marriage entirely with its attendant joys and sorrows. The realm shall be my husband and children both. My nephew shall be my successor and heir once I take the Sceptre. I will tend the White Tree through the years of my life and ensure it continues to flourish. My father thinks I am giving too much credence to a mere dream but I do not doubt the truth of my vision. The Shadow is indeed on the move.

Princess Telperien, King’s Heir


 

Second Age 1500, Formenos

Dear Princess

I do not question your visions for I know for one the gift of foresight that runs through your blood. Not all are similarly blessed with the gift but it does show exceptionally strong in some. Your visions of a smith trouble me greatly and I have sought out the wisdom of the Maiar. Sadly, Lord Irmo is not given to sharing his secrets, or those of Iluvatar, so readily. 

I hear that your brother’s son has drawn up plans for a tower on a hill outside the city of Andustar. Oddly, this troubles me as it reminds me much of Tar-Meneldur’s stargazing tower. Perhaps it would not be the wisest thing for you to shut yourself off in the King’s Court, or for your heir to hide away in a tower facing into the West. It is not good for a leader to lose touch with his or her people.

Your friend

Mornel Feanoriel


 

Second Age 1556, Armenelos

My Liege

Tar-Surion has abdicated and passed the Sceptre to his only surviving child – Tar- Telperien. Thus far the Queen has conducted herself admirably in court, and participated in council meetings. However, her decision to swear celibacy has not gone down well with the Council. Based on my assessment, Tar-Telperien is of a contemplative nature. She will listen and suggest, but she will not act. It is my suspicion that she might be a seer and a disciple of Lord Irmo.

Tar-Telperien’s decision to follow the example of her predecessors since Tar-Ancalime and not involve Numenor in matters of Middle-earth has been met by the support of many in the Council, apart from those lords with vested interest in Middle-earth trade and shipbuilding. The Queen has also ruled out sending naval aid to protect the realm’s overseas interests in Middle-earth for the foreseeable future. A diplomatic mission will still be sent every ten years to Lindon to maintain cordial relations with King Gil-galad.  

As for the Queen’s Heir, Minastir has been absent from the city due to construction projects in Andunie. He has purchased land on the hill of Oromet and lain the foundations for a tower facing into the west. He is young and ambitious. The proposal for a tower had not been approved by the new Queen although Tar-Surion did approve it just before he handed over the Sceptre. Court gossip has it that Telperien would like to cease its building but was talked out of it. Perhaps the tower might stir not envy as she feared but serve as a reminder to all of the Valar in the Uttermost West.

Your humble servant

Penlod of the House of the Pillar


 

Second Age 1556, Andustar

Dear Lady Mornel

I am greatly troubled by a recent construction outside the city on the hill of Oromet. Somehow I sense a pall of despair about the site – thwarted ambitions and unanswered prayers. Mind you, they just put in the foundations. I have recently made the acquaintance of Prince Minastir. My impression of him was probably not as favourable as it should be. The main reason being that he was drunk and puking into the gutter outside a seedy tavern.

The prince wishes to travel to Middle-earth but his aunt has denied royal permission to do so. He has taken to heart the tales told by his mother of the riches of the land waiting to be picked. We fear the Numenoreans have lived beyond their means on the island of Elenna. The wealth granted by the Valar has been exhausted and they must seek resources elsewhere. The forests are still recovering from the heavy logging of Tar-Aldarion’s reign. Quotas on timber were not strictly enforced during Tar-Anarion and Tar-Surion’s reigns. Much land had been cleared for farming and construction during this time. Lady Yavanna must be weeping indeed.

For my part, I seriously doubt Middle-earth is paved in gold, gemstones, or silver. The Numenoreans will need to reconsider their current lifestyle and how sustainable it will be in the long-term. The downside about mortality is that they do not consider that they will need the same trees they are cutting down today for tomorrow. Few give a thought for their grandchildren. The Queen tends to her White Tree while the forests are laid bare. I used to spend many a leisurely hour strolling among the trees of Oromet with friends before they cleared the land for Prince Minastir’s tower.  

Yours in friendship

Earlindo


 

Second Age 1556, Formenos

Dear Prince Earlindo

First, allow me to extend my congratulations on your son’s new woodcrafts store in Andustar. He is indeed a credit to your household. As for the Numenoreans, I must confess that I understand their dilemma when it comes to the forestry. I doubt many of them are keen to return to the tents of their forefathers, or the hunting-gathering lifestyle. I have regular headaches trying to find a balance in Formenos with the Noldor smiths and the local Nandor hunters.

Your news of the tower facing into the west troubles me too. Prince Minastir has little reason to face the west, unlike Elros whose parents are in Valinor. However, I think this is a passing phase and his eventual interest lies in the east. I expect he will raise Numenorean cities in Middle-earth when his time comes. That is not to say that tower of his will not cause trouble for the future rulers of his house.

I trust that despite Tar-Telperien’s reluctance to engage with the Eldar in Middle-earth, relations are still cordial in Andunie? Cousin Arakano reported from his last visit that there were new laws approved by Tar-Surion in his later years at the Council’s urging limiting Eldar residences to certain neighbourhoods in Andustar and their travel to other parts of the island. Has this caused any hardship for your people? This segregation disturbs me as rather than reinforcing the ancient friendship, it will give rise to ridiculous ideas of ‘Elvish magic’ and such.

 Yours in friendship

Mornel Feanoriel


 

Second Age 1574, Armenelos

My Liege

After a restful retirement, Tar-Surion has passed beyond the Circles of Arda. A court scribe remarked that unlike his predecessors, his policies have left little mark on the realm, be it politically or culturally. At least Tar-Anarion left behind a grand theatre and appreciation of the performing arts. His daughter seems set to follow in his footsteps in leaving much of the actual ruling to the Council of the Sceptre.

The White Tree is flourishing under the Queen’s care. She keeps herself secluded in the King’s House and rarely leaves the city. Much of the news is brought to her by runners from throughout the kingdom. She does, however, attend Council meetings every other day. I have yet to secure a private audience with her ever since her heir finished his construction projects in Andustar, and promptly took off for Romenna and a ship bound for Middle-earth.  

It has been brought to my attention that Tar-Surion had approved restrictions on travel by the Eldar in his realm shortly before his abdication. I was made aware of this only recently when I tried to leave Armenelos on a leisure trip with my lady to Romenna. There are few Eldar beyond Andunie. I hope to persuade Her Majesty to lift this unnecessary restriction.

Your humble servant

Penlod of the House of the Pillar

Chapter Text

Second Age 1600, Alqualonde

Dear Cousin Mornel

I hope you are doing well. I am sorry to inform you that I will not be visiting you in Formenos anytime soon in the foreseeable future. I will greatly miss the midsummer festivities by the lake. I have been chosen by the Valar to return to Middle-earth, strike a blow against the Shadow, and serve the great-grandson of my lord Turgon – Elrond Earendilion. Travelling with me will be the Maiar Alatar and Pallando. I hope they are able sailors in their physical forms. I do not look forward to sharing the ship with seasick fellow passengers. I do not understand why they chose the fana of mortal men (and old ones to boot). Eru willing, they do not keel over en route.

I know I was to inform you of any decision undertaken by the Valar to aid our kindred on Middle-earth (and help you get a place). Sadly, places are limited and the Valar only agreed to send one elf back. Naturally, I volunteered. Your experience and skills will be sorely missed by all in Valinor, especially those returning from Mandos, as I am sure you will agree with me. I will look out for your nephew Celebrimbor, and dear old Maglor if he is still haunting the shores. I promise not to hurt him too badly about that stunt he pulled on Uncle Ara and you at the end of the First Age.

By the time you receive this letter, I would have long sailed east. Do not bother to give chase. If you wish to blame anyone, try Master Olorin. He suggested I proceed to the Ring of Doom for discussions without waiting for you.

Yours apologetically

Glorfindel of the House of the Golden Flower


 

Second Age 1600, Tirion on Tuna

Dear Cousin

Thank you for leaving me to explain to your family where you have flitted off to. Aunt Lalwen is not pleased at all given what happened to you the last time you were in Middle-earth. I am not even sure if this missive will reach you ever. I have addressed a note with it to Prince Earlindo with instructions for it to be passed to Uncle Ara’s envoy in Armenelos. Hopefully he can find a ship headed from Numenor to Gil-galad’s court in Lindon. Try to avoid any Balrogs. Your amme also requests that you avoid other creatures like werewolves, vampires etc. the Shadow might throw your way.

On a more serious note, Lord Penlod has reported of Tar-Telperien’s disinterest in Middle-earth. Prince Earlindo has also reported a growing sense of discontent among the Numenoreans with the Valar’s laws and the Eldar. I hope Gil-galad is able to hold off the Shadow with your aid as we doubt Tar-Telperien will be rushing to his aid anytime soon.

Yours in exasperation

Mornel Feanoriel

P.S. Your little sister is now being courted by your esteemed colleague Lord Ecthelion. I hope they have your blessings as she seems quite taken with him. Lord Aranwe’s son Voronwe has also been sending her little gifts, as have half the unattached lords in Tirion now they need not face the possible wrath of a Balrog-slayer. The other half are vying for Cousin Finduilas’ favours on the assumption she is easy with them. Cousin Angrod is chasing them off with a big stick and is looking for a fierce guard dog.


 

Second Age 1634, Formenos

Dear Tar-Telperien

It has been a while since our last communication. Though I hate to intrude upon your peace, I have been asked by certain factions to seek your assistance on certain matters pertaining to the Eldar beyond Valinor.

Firstly, the situation with the Shadow in Middle-earth is of growing concern. Though it may be presumptuous of me, may I ask as to whether Numenor will be extending any aid to her people who have returned to the lands of their forefathers? The threat does not lie over the Eldar alone but all the Free Peoples. I trust that Gil-galad has been in contact with you and you are informed of the situation in Endore?

Secondly, there have been complaints about the restrictions on the Eldar’s movements in Numenor. We have been friends for so long and it is sad that our people now stand divided due to some laws passed by your father. I understand that the Eldar of Andunie have been forbidden from raising any more new houses or settling in other parts of town. Also, travel restrictions make it difficult for them to travel beyond the city of Andustar for business in other parts of Numenor. We would appreciate if these unnecessary barriers to the friendship of our people be lifted. 

Fears of Eldar-Edain unions are overrated as they may only occur under a special Doom. And no, there is no truth to the allegations of ellyn seducing Edain maids, or ellyth stealing husbands. Cousin Finrod will attest that all interactions between his brother and Andreth were conducted honourably and beyond reproach. It is the normal practice for Eldar couples to bond for life, until Arda breaks. So I doubt there will be any shenanigans from our people in this aspect.

I send with this message a little token from Formenos to mark the birth of your grandnephew. 

Yours in friendship

Mornel Feanoriel


 

Second Age 1634, Armenelos

Dear Lady Mornel

I understand that recent developments east across the Sea have been of concern to your esteemed uncle. However, I stand by my conviction that Numenor should not intervene in any form other than accepting refugees of Numenorean descent should they sail here. As things stand, there is no need for our intervention. I have heard rumours of a mighty Balrog-slayer and Maiar being sent by the Valar to aid the Noldor King in Exile.

Regarding your concerns about laws restricting the movement of the Eldar in Numenor, I will bring them up for review at the next council meeting. Perhaps my father was starting to decline mentally when he approved that bill. I know we can really do with some Elvish craftsmen in Armenelos. I find my grandfather Anarion’s taste in buildings quite appalling. We might also benefit with more greenery within the city. The presence of more of his kinsfolk might provide entertainment for poor old Penlod and my court. I think he must be tired of all those lords and ladies who wish to hear about glorious Gondolin’s fall.

I thank you on my nephew’s behalf for the naming-day gift for his son. You seem to be quite informed of the matters of my court. Perhaps Penlod has been sending you reports as well? Personally, I find the infant quite a trial to be around. He is forever bawling. Give me the peace and quiet of the King’s Court anytime.

On more mundane matters, Nimloth seems to losing her leaves at an alarming rate recently. I fear this is a sign of the growing Shadow in my visions. Also, I have developed a distaste for jewellery, rings in particular, though I am hard-pressed to explain the reason why.

Yours in friendship

Tar-Telperien


 

Second Age 1695, Armenelos

Dear Prince Earlindo

Thank you for your kind advice on maritime and fleet-building matters. I pray that the Valar will smile upon my venture. It will do my son Ciryatan much good to have some experience leading men into battle. I will listen to your advice and keep his younger brother home, just in case. I intend to follow my son into Middle-earth but only in an advisory position.

I raised a proposal for maritime trade to the Council of the Sceptre. I think the Lord of Andunie might have seen through the ploy but he was overruled by the rest of the lords. My aunt, misguided as she is, will not be pleased should news of my true venture reach her. Thankfully, she seems too preoccupied with her gardening projects in Armenelos to notice the flurry of activity in Romenna’s shipyards, the likes of which has not been witnessed since the reign of Tar-Aldarion.

Yours in friendship

Minastir, Queen’s Heir


 

Second Age 1700, Armenelos

Dear Mornel

My worthless heir-apparent has seen fit to defy my explicit orders not to intervene. Imagine my horror at learning that a naval armada has set forth from Romenna, led by Prince Ciryatan under the rank of Ship-lord. The council was mostly kept in the dark of Minastir’s intentions. However, they have agreed to place his remaining son under house arrest. At least I will have a potential successor should misfortune befall the fleet. I suppose I should expect a thank-you letter from King Gil-galad, if Minastir’s fleet ever gets that far.

I have also requested the Noldor envoy, and all Eldar residing in Armenelos to leave the city within the week. There were allegations by members of the Council of Elvish ‘glamour’ involved in hiding the shipbuilding activities in Romenna. We have our suspicions on who might have assisted my heir on this half-baked venture. Nothing personal, but it might be best if your people remain in their neighbourhoods in Andustar for the time being.

Yours apologetically

Tar-Telperien  


 

Second Age 1700, Andustar

My Liege

I am pleased to inform you that all our people have reached Andustar safely. The Lord of Andunie has been most hospitable in putting my household up on such short notice in his own mansion. Your esteemed uncle Prince Earlindo has drawn up a schedule for ferrying the Eldar gardeners previously employed by Tar-Telperien’s garden scheme back home to Valinor. Due to the short notice, we have had to leave much of our furniture behind. I will greatly miss that peach tree I had been cultivating in the embassy gardens. Thankfully, my lady managed to secure a cutting and it seems to have survived our journey. As a sign of goodwill, I intend to plant it in my host’s garden.

Many of our people have complained of spurious taxes levied en route by our military escort. I had to hand over a pearl just so my household could stop and fix a broken cartwheel rather than have a heavily-pregnant elleth continue on foot. My lady had to intervene with her fists when some drunk oaf decided to harass some young ellyth in our train. Verily, I will like to request that my current duties be lifted so that we may return to Valinor despite the welcome we have received in Andunie. There has been a growing sense of discontent in other parts of the island and I fear for the safety of the ellyth of my household. 

Your humble servant

Penlod of the House of the Pillar

P.S. I have just received distressing news from my host about Prince Minastir’s youngest. It seems the lad has managed to crack open his head falling off a tower in an attempt to flee from house arrest.


 

Second Age 1703, Romenna

Dear Prince Earlindo

Currently I am under house arrest in the harbourmaster’s house. Not sure if the pouch of silver will see this letter safely delivered to you in Andustar. I am starting to seriously regret my decision to assemble a naval fleet behind my aunt’s back. I am still banking on her (or at least the Council) relenting once she sees the riches of Middle-earth I have brought home after we were done smiting the Shadow.

My son Ciryatan has brought home a few dozen lesser men from Middle-earth as bond-servants. It was quite a trial with them kicking up a fuss in the hold throughout the journey. I am not sure if I am mistaken, but did the mighty Finrod Felagund have a system of bondage on the Edain in the early days? Perhaps it is for the best. They work for us for twenty years or so while we educate the savages. After which they could take their place in civilized society as fellow subjects of the realm.

I was naturally upset to learn my younger son has passed during my absence. One would expect my aunt to take better care of her own kinsman. At least we still have Ciryatan. For now, it seems my position as Queen’s Heir is unstable. It is possible my aunt might bypass me entirely. However, Ciryatan is also in her bad books for now. He has been summoned back to Armenelos, leaving me in charge of those bondsmen whom I can barely understand. Will it be reasonable to keep them chained aboard the ship until my son returns?

Yours in friendship

Minastir, possible ex-Queen’s Heir


 

Second Age 1703, Andustar

Dear Prince Minastir

Whatever in Lord Manwe’s name gave you the idea my nephew practiced slavery? Well, a number of chieftains swore fealty to him in the First Age but they were free to leave his service whenever they choose to do so. The only slaves were the poor thralls in Angband.

Slavery is not okay whether you call them thralls or bondsmen. For starters, it might be best to get the communication thing out of the way. Find an interpreter. Let the poor creatures out of their chains and that hold. Find them healers if needed. Have them adequately fed, clothed, and sheltered. If they so desire, arrange to have them returned to their homes in Middle-earth. Otherwise, it may be possible to work out a proper employment contract (with reasonable restitution for their labour).

Yours in friendship

Earlindo Olwion


 

Second Age 1705, Tirion-on-Tuna

“Mornel, you believe me, don’t you? I never held any thralls in Nargothrond…”

On the palace balcony, Mornel and Finrod were playing chess. They were enjoying the morning sunshine as Caranthir worked nearby within the room.

“Relax, Cousin. The rumours will stop once those gossips find something else to talk about,” Mornel smiled as she checkmated Finrod.

“Okay, I did use a bit of the Songs of Power at my first meeting with Beor’s people. Afterwards, we just got along so well…” Finrod reminisced.

“Haleth of the Haladin told me off when I tried to offer her people a place under my protection…” Caranthir looked up from the tapestry he had been working on for the palace. “If we did enslave the Haladin like those Numenoreans claim we did, we wouldn’t have had to pay so much for their horses.”

“To be fair, you showed up too late to save her brother and father,” Finrod added. “At least Amarie believes me…”

“Do ask Celeglass to show some restraint. This is the third time this week he has beaten up someone over calling you a slaver,” Caranthir advised. “Does anyone know what happened to those slaves Ciryatan took from Middle-earth?”

“Based on my sources, a dozen died of illnesses contracted during the journey. Another dozen requested to return home and were placed on the next ship out. The remainder agreed to stay on as part of Minastir’s household or were employed in the palace,” Mornel reported.  The gulls that flew to and from Numenorean shores kept her well-informed of happenings on the island.

“For now, the Council has put a ban on slavery in Numenor but I doubt it will last. Ciryatan seems to be quite interested in this distasteful venture,” Arakano added as he joined his cousins on the balcony. He had just returned from his sojourn in Numenor while a new envoy was sought to replace Lord Penlod. “Tar-Telperien is still furious at her nephew. Though Minastir is still her heir, she will not pass the sceptre to him anytime soon despite her current condition.”

There had been rumours that the mighty Tar-Telperien had started her decline even as she tended dutifully to the White Tree in the King’s Court. Her steps were less steady and her sight failing. It was said that she had fallen asleep during more than one council meeting during the past year.

“I hope Egalmoth finds the climate to his liking,” Caranthir shrugged as he finished a tree in his tapestry. He started to roll up the tapestry to be stored until it could be hung up by the servants. The Noldoran had just appointed the Lord of House of the Heavenly Arch to Numenor as his ambassador.

“Oh, he liked Andustar, but the cuisine took a little getting used to with the Teleri spices,” Arakano grinned impishly. “Moryo, if you are done with that tapestry, what say we go to some lowly tavern, get ourselves into a drunken brawl, and give those gossips something else to talk about instead of our poor, blameless cousin?”

“You better not!” Mornel called out as both neri laughingly exited.

Chapter Text

Second Age 1731, Armenelos

Dear Lady Mornel

After much consideration, I have decided it is time for the Sceptre to be passed despite all my misgivings about Minastir, and more importantly his son. Perhaps I might have to explain my decision to my predecessors beyond the Circles but I know I have done what I can to stem the spreading discontent in the realm. Many of the Council now question the power of the Valar as my prayers to Lady Este had gone unanswered. My health has been deteriorating over the months and I know it is time to pass. Perhaps Minastir will be the last Elf-friend to hold the Sceptre for a long time.

I now regret not yielding to your recommendation sooner and having Minastir return to Armenelos. Perhaps he would have been able to restrain his son but I doubt he has the will to do so. I have heard reports from my people in Romenna that he has been making an attempt to learn more of the native inhabitants of Middle-earth from his servants, many of whom were from there, which I believe will be a step in the right direction for managing our foreign policy not only with Gil-galad’s people but the other inhabitants of Middle-earth.

As my last decree, I have lifted all remaining restrictions on travel by the Eldar within the borders of Numenor. My dear friend, Elatan III, the Lord of Andunie, has also opened up more neighbourhoods for the Elven residents of his city to reside and carry out commerce in. 

Telperien Surioniel, a servant of the Valar


 

Second Age 1731, Armenelos

Dear Lord Egalmoth

When you read this, I would long have passed beyond the Circles of Arda. I do not have long. I know my health has been failing and my sleep is constantly disturbed by dark visions. I fear for Numenor and her people. When Minastir returned from Middle-earth, the Shadow followed both him and his son home. It is to my great regret that there is no one else to succeed me. Perhaps Minastir will be the lesser evil as he still holds your people in high regard. He has also thus far maintained a friendship with Gil-galad. After all, it was this friendship that spurred him into action against the Shadow in the east.

I know the Shadow has rooted itself in Ciryatan’s heart. His talk of slaves and a second armada to reap the riches of Middle-earth unsettle me and many others in the Council. However, I know he has his supporters among our people, and they will grow in strength with the passing of time.

I ask this of you and your people. Treasure Minastir’s friendship. He will be the last Elf-friend to rule Numenor for many yeni. Protect and guide him. For all his action and military accrue, he is a fool when it comes to matters of politics. I fear he will yield too easily to his heir (whom he has spoilt immensely). Lastly, guide any who will follow us, in the faint hope they will return to the way of the Valar and Eru. 

Telperien Surioniel, a servant of the Valar


 

Second Age 1731, Armenelos

My Liege

I am writing to inform you of the successful passing of the Sceptre to Tar-Minastir. It is with much relief that Minastir made it to the city in time for his aunt to hand him the Sceptre of Numenor. He had been under house arrest in Romenna since his return from Beleriand. I sense that despite Tar-Telperien’s best efforts, many of the Council are in favour of her speedy abdication. It has been too long since she was strong enough to lead and darkness has infected the inner circles of the court. The source of the darkness is none other than Minastir’s only living son, who has certain ideas about Middle-earth, her peoples, and her riches. Unfortunately, he has been winning supporters in his father’s absence from court. There were serious concerns he would convince his aunt to pass the Sceptre to him instead of his father.

Despite all the best efforts of the court healers and my own, Tar-Telperien’s health was such that she had been in constant pain over the past year. Passing could only be a relief for her. She asked me to be present to witness the abdication ceremony. Perhaps she feared that her grandnephew has designs on the issue of succession. Elatan III, Lord of Andunie, was also requested to be present, together with his trusted servants.

Simply put, Prince Ciryatan was disappointed when his father arrived to receive the Sceptre. The old Queen tapped him on the shoulder with it and whispered some really ominous words into his ear. Methinks it is likely she distrusts Ciryatan. She warned him about a viper in his nest. Lord Elatan handed Minastir a sealed envelope at her instruction to be opened after his aunt passed. I do not know of its contents.

It may be of interest to you that one of the first bills pushed forward by Ciryatan after his father was crowned was laws supporting enslavement of ‘lesser’ peoples in Middle-earth. Thankfully, Tar-Minastir declined to pass it. The old Queen passed quietly in her garden under the branches of the White Tree she had tended personally even throughout her illness.

Your humble servant

Egalmoth of the House of the Heavenly Arch

P.S. Is there any truth to the rumours about Tar-Telperien being a seer? I do believe I have received a warning letter from her after she passed. I sincerely hope it is nothing but some fevered gibberish.


 

Second Age 1740, Andustar

Dear Lady Mornel

I have been in touch with Tar-Minastir through our mutual friend Egalmoth. Royal duties have kept him away from Andustar but we understand that he has undertaken to sponsor, at his heir’s urging, Numenorean expeditions into parts of Middle-earth other than Lindon. He does remind me a bit of his forbear Tar-Aldarion but Minastir is content to remain in Numenor and leave the explorations to his son. We believe he was wounded during his battle to aid Gil-galad and the old injury makes it difficult for him to sail. I do miss the lazy cruises we once took around the island with our families, in defiance of those pesky travel restrictions.  Who could forget the time we had to stop young Ciryatan from testing if a cat could swim? Sadly, he was a brat even at the age of nine.

There is a small number of nobles who are calling for the return of the restrictions on the movements of the Eldar within Numenor. We hope that this animosity will not be a growing trend. There have been reports of elves being set upon by brigands in the countryside beyond Andunie. Thankfully, no one has been seriously hurt to date. Egalmoth has raised this problem of bandits to the court and we hope Tar-Minastir would do something about the safety of his realm’s roads. Serelinde is urging me to curtail my visits to Numenor and urge our eldest to pack up his rather profitable business selling handcrafted figureheads for Numenorean ships. I fear this will be a blow to our son as his artistic style is too outlandish for traditional Telerin tastes.

Yours in friendship

Earlindo


 

Second Age 1741, Formenos

Dear Earlindo

Apologies for the late reply as we were snowed in over the winter season. Your news about bandits in Numenor worry me. One would expect Tar-Minastir to have imposed the same order his aunt and predecessors maintained throughout their reigns. Open highway banditry was rare, although there was the occasional petty theft and brawling in the rougher parts of town. 

There have been tales gleaned from the gulls of Ciryatan’s wild parties in Armenelos where one of the participants would dress up and play at being the Dark Lord. We hope it is nothing but youthful spirits and poor judgement, but it seems to be almost tempting disaster to befall Numenor. Another rumour has it that Ciryatan has adopted the Easterling custom of multiple wives, keeping women of dubious repute in different cities both in Middle-earth and in Numenor.  We can never understand the flippant manner in which certain Men deal with issues of utmost importance like matrimony.

I do hope this is only idle gossip. Gulls can be gossips too, you know. They can be as bad as any Noldor noble. One impetuous feather-duster even claimed that my nephew Celebrimbor was married to a Dwarf, and had ugly children. Had to stop Caranthir from wring his neck in Elwing’s parlour. The bird did poop out of fear and Caranthir had to gift our hostess a new rug. Perhaps teaching Caranthir gull was not a good idea.  

About your son’s propensity for carving figureheads other than swans, it may be advisable for him to consider setting up shop in Formenos. His carvings are quite exquisite and I believe they will be appreciated by several tribes as lodge posts or doors. Take it from me as a fellow woodworker. He might wish to extend his repertoire to creatures of Lord Manwe’s and Lord Orome’s realms. I know Silvan elves who would love to have a stylish eagle atop their lodge entrance. Or perhaps an antlered stag.

Do send Serelinde our good wishes from Formenos.

Mornel Feanoriel

P.S. Amme writes she is rather pleased with the decorative door lintel Serelinde gave her for her new workshop. Was it your son’s fine work?

Chapter Text

Second Age 1800, Andustar

Dear Sis

We received a warm welcome in Armenelos, almost fiery in fact. Seems there is some new political faction that is really anti-Eldar. Not amused some drunk tried to paw our wives. More so when said oaf is the King’s Heir. Tar-Minastir gave us a casket of gems from Middle-earth by way of apology. Not that they are that pretty to look at. We gave them to our host in Andustar to fund some sea ventures to Middle-earth and support the local orphanage. We were perturbed to learn that the last of the Druedains had fled Numenor for Endore during the last years of Tar-Telperien’s reign. We think something is definitely up in Numenor, knowing how canny those folk are. A pity we could not let them sail with us into the West, being mortal and stuff. We did enjoy their hospitality very much the last time we visited back in Tar-Surion’s time.

The following night, someone set fire to Egalmoth’s place while we were in reverie. Seems that was a step up from broken windows and flying stones he had been subjected to in recent weeks. Let’s just say we sorted out our differences from Sirion by working together to put out the fire and catch the arsonist. Turned out he was one of Ciryatan’s lackeys. Egalmoth was offered a wing within the palace to stay in while they patch up the embassy. He wisely declined in favour of hauling his entire staff to Andunie where we have a consulate.

At least Andustar is still friendly and Lord Valandil IV has a great cook on his staff.  The rest of Numenor is no fit place for the Eldar. We are heading back to Tirion to decline Uncle Ara’s offer to act as his envoys, sorry about disappointing him. Feel a little sorry for Lord Egalmoth but he has no wife to worry about as yet.

Oh yes, we almost forgot. We managed to present your handcrafted rocking-horse for the new prince to his father, only to have it go up in flames in the palace courtyard for not being gilded enough for little Atanamir. We know you put a lot of work into that horse and it was a real beauty. We think it would have been better spent gifted to the orphanage in Andunie.

The Ambarussa Feanorion

P.S. Our twin jewels send their love, while happily emptying our purses at the Andustar City Bazaar. We have picked up a bronze Numenorean vase for you. Let Fearocco try breaking that.


 

Second Age 1800, Tirion

Dear Brothers Ambarussa

Received your letter at Uncle Ara’s and fully agree with your sentiments on the current developments in Numenor. Although Numenorean power is still rising, its moral decline has started. Please warn Valandil IV and his sons to watch themselves. There seems to be an alarming spate of accidents among the Elf-friends in Armenelos in recent years according to my feathered friends.  

I intend to appeal to Uncle Ara to consider sending me as his envoy as I really need to have a word or two with Tar-Minastir and his heir. Non-interference be damned. Perhaps we should meet up with Caranthir for a little discussion. If Helwien could spare him, it might be in everyone’s best interests to have him set up shop in Armenelos selling those gaudy practice pieces from our apprentices in Formenos to the tasteless nobles while sending the bulk of the proceeds to charitable causes. We trust he is canny enough to bail out before things turn really ugly.

Your sister

Mornel Feanoriel

P.S. Your bronze Numenorean vase did not survive. Fearocco kicked it into the city foundry where they were melting down ore for a set of new shields for the palace guards. The additional bronze might have messed up the alloy a bit but I think it should not affect the 1,000 new shields too much.


 

Second Age 1869, Tol Eressea

Dear Friend Minastir

We have heard of your decision to hand over the Sceptre to your heir in the near future. Are you not being over-hasty? You still have many years ahead of you! I seriously question if Ciryatan is ready to take on this responsibility given the recent fisticuffs with Lord Egalmoth which had him tendering his resignation as the Noldoran’s representative. The next envoy is expected to be to Lord Rog of the House of the Hammer of Wrath and we seriously fear a diplomatic collision. Lord Rog is not one to tolerate fools lightly. I am recommending that my law-brother consider sending his niece the Lady Mornel in his place but given recent reports of ellyth being harassed in Armenelos, I doubt the Noldoran would risk it. He looks on her as another daughter.

Please, for the love of the Valar, reconsider your decision! You still have a chance to get your son sorted out before he takes over the reins of Numenor. You do know that there are rumours of Numenorean slave traders operating in Middle-earth, don’t you? And rumours have it young Ciryatan is in the thick of it. To be honest, he needs to understand all is not some big orgy of feasting and other stuff I am not going to detail here. My atto will recommend a few years scrubbing decks and hard labour alongside dock-workers and sailors to give the lad a new perspective on things.

Your Friend Earlindo

P.S. Do consider my suggestion. Have Ciryatan work on those shrimping boats off Romenna, alongside Middle-earth workers, not as a prince but a fellow fisherman. Life can be tough for those men and it might just teach Ciryatan some respect.


 

Second Age 1873, the Bay of Andunie

“What do you make of it, Sis?” Pityo asked as Mornel scowled at the ivory-white tower rising from the hill. A poor sailor, he sat listlessly against the bulwarks, looking slightly green despite the calm waters of the bay.

Telvo and Arakano made a show of hauling their fishing nets while Earlindo held the tiller of their nondescript fishing vessel. All had their ears carefully hidden beneath their hair or caps. Disturbing news had flown like a flock of geese to Aman, reaching all the way to the hallowed halls of Manwe atop Taniquetil. Tar-Ciryatan had proven himself an energetic ruler. He had set off on a massive ship-building project, shadowing even his father’s armada. However, these were ships with deep holds for cargo – riches pillaged from Middle-earth, including slaves.

“If he is in there, he is nowhere near the windows,” Mornel conceded.

Tar-Minastir’s retirement to his tower outside Andustar was no surprise. His reluctance to meet with his friends, including Earlindo and the Lord of Andunie was.

“They have a guard set on him. They turned us away when we tried to call on him, none too politely I must say,” Earlindo added. “However, Valandil’s grandson notes that deliveries are made regularly. Two slaves wait on his needs. He could not speak with the poor wretches when they go to market as they are mute. Seems they lost their tongues in Middle-earth…”

“A bad oyster, was it not? That did for the previous lord of Andunie? It would be wise for the lad to avoid seafood in Armenelos and the fate of his grandsire,” Pityo added wryly. “Did they not threaten to thrash our lordling when he insisted on meeting with his one-time liege?”

“The guards are no Elf-friends for sure,” Earlindo added.

“Ho, there’s something!” Mornel called out.

A man came to the window. Weariness was etched on every line of his frame. Spying the lone ship in the bay at so late an hour for fishing, he waved weakly to them before retreating within.

“He is alive and well, as well as he could be,” Earlindo conceded with relief. “Haul up the nets. It is a poor catch but we must return this vessel to a friend whose livelihood depends on it.”

The first stirrings of unease started when Minastir failed to appear on the docks for the strolls he enjoyed in his younger and more carefree days. Earlindo had expected his friend to be itching for a sail after discarding the mantle of kingship. Now he wondered how long Minastir would linger as a prisoner in his own tower.

Lord Rog had been unceremoniously expelled from Armenelos after surviving a clumsy attempt at assassinating him. He had taken great offense when Tar-Ciryatan presented him with a half-dozen slave girls from Middle-earth as a welcome gift and told him so before the entire court. The poor girls would no doubt have been shifted off to some brothel or lord’s harem by now. Mornel thought it was a pity Rog had not bitten his tongue, accepted the girls as a courtesy, and freed them afterwards on his way through Andustar.

“I could send a local gull to check on him, but mind you, some Numenorean seabirds could be real scatterbrains,” Mornel volunteered. “It will be a sign of Lord Manwe’s mercy if he remembers to report back.”


 

“So he chose to take his death?” Earlindo enquired. Mornel nodded sourly as she dismissed the gull with a sardine. They had been guests of the Lord of Andunie for a week since they caught a glimpse of the former king. Now their feathered messenger had brought sad news.

No doubt there would be a fast horse sent to the Golden City of Armenelos. A period of mourning would be decreed and Tar-Minastir buried alongside his predecessors with all kingly fanfare.

“Four years stuck up there, watching his son ruin everything he believed in…” Arakano whispered thoughtfully. “Praying that the Valar will intervene…”

“Well, we know they wouldn’t,” the Ambarussa replied as one.

Mornel held her tongue. The Valar were always reluctant to involve themselves in matters of the Eldar after the War of Wrath and even less so the business of the Secondborn. After sending two Maiar and Glorfindel back to Endore, there were no further actions to aid the peoples of Middle-earth.

Chapter Text

Second Age 1900, Tol Eressea

The guests in Prince Earlindo’s dining hall toasted the newly-appointed ambassador to Numenor. Laurelosse giggled as her husband tipsily feted her with an ode to her beauty and grace. Mornel poked listlessly at her pudding with her spoon. It was not that she envied Lord Ecthelion’s appointment, but that her uncle had deemed her unfit for the post. Someone needed to speak to Tar-Ciryatan. No, she was needed in Formenos, Arafinwe had insisted. So the newly-wed Ecthelion and his bride would be moving to Numenor to hopefully turn back the tide of discontent in island. Aunt Lalwen was not pleased about letting her little girl leave Valinor but Ecthelion would need all the support he could get, Laurelosse had insisted.

“I hear that Tar-Ciryatan’s daughter is a patron of the performing arts…” Earlindo ventured. Mornel perked up at this morsel of information. If true, it would explain how Laurelosse had convinced Aunt Earwen and the Noldoran to support her decision to accompany her husband.

 “Why, I believe the wife of the King’s Heir used to dance before she married…” Serelinde added as she topped up Laurelosse’s goblet.

“What a shame to have to give up the craft of Lady Nessa!” Laurelosse exclaimed. She still danced and performed despite unkind remarks that it was unseemly for a wife to behave thus. Some forms of dance had yet to achieve respectability in the eyes of more pious-minded elves but Ecthelion never begrudged his wife her chosen craft. Laurelosse’s belly dance was always a delight. It always astounded Mornel how she could achieve such flexibility without falling face on her face. However, her cousin had often confided that she wished to be known for something other than her beauty and grace. Perhaps as wife to an ambassador…

“What a shame to have to decline the chance to head the Tirion Academy of Music,” Mornel tossed carelessly at Ecthelion, who grinned good-naturedly. She murmured a hurried apology, knowing that the Lord of the Fountain had been looking forward to an academic appointment rather than an ambassadorial one far from home.

“Our lives are the Noldoran’s to command, my lady. Do not fault your uncle. Methinks your strength lies in your name – Mornel. The daughter whose future eluded even Nerdanel the Wise.”

“You speak truly, Ecthelion,” Mornel smiled. “Before the Moon and Sun, there were the stars. Not all lights need to shine so brightly.” There were ways to continue watching over the House of Elros and his people without their notice.


 

Second Age 2029, Romenna

Dear Sis

I do not understand how you persuaded me to undertake such ill-thought through venture (even if the pickings from our gullible Numenoreans are rich). Missed the entire Passing of the Sceptre ceremony thanks to my travel papers not being in order to enter the Golden City. I was not the only one, though. Our cousin and our minstrel-ambassador Ecthelion were also turned away. Made a pile selling that shipment of watered silks that were turned down by King Ingwe’s court for being sub-standard. The ladies here could not get enough of them. At least some good came out of our twin brothers’ latest experiment in the dyehouse. It was enough for rooms at an inn run by an Elf-friend.

We overheard some interesting rumours that Tar-Ciryatan may have followed in his father’s steps in more ways than he would prefer. Seems his eldest got tired of waiting after two yeni. There was a dark carriage seen leaving for the estate in the countryside where Tar-Surion retired to after his abdication.

We decided not to call on Tar-Ciryatan given his past run-ins with Ecthelion and his colleagues, much to our cousin’s dismay as she was on good terms with his youngest daughter - both having a keen interest in dance and all. I believe Losse must have mentioned that dance academy they set up in Armenelos in her letters. Lady Silmalosse was also sent packing with her sire from what we understand. Perhaps she was lucky. Her brothers were given marching orders out east from Romenna – to govern the new colonies there. Instead, we took the scenic route back west. In the eastern port, ships laden with precious items attest to the rise of Numenorean power in the east.  

Keeping an ear out for news of our brother but no joy from Middle-earth so far. Almost tempted to ask Lord Ulmo for a favour and have him snatched off the shore. But I know Amme will be upset and so will Kano – let him play the martyr if he wants. For me, I prefer doing something more useful. I did not agree with Losse’s friendship with the princess but I suppose they hit it off as fellow artistes. At least we had one Elf-friend in the royal family, not counting the Lords of Andunie. Ecthelion calls it tea party diplomacy. Whatever works, methinks. The princess did manage to convince Ciryatan to roll back some laws limiting Eldar-Numenorean interactions. He had less luck convincing the King’s Heir, especially with that band of rascals about Prince Atanamir, now King.  

Lord Ecthelion intends to request a withdrawal from Numenor, for his wife’s sake. I can’t blame him. Like Glorfindel, Losse is rather conspicuous. Without the princess’ patronage, we fear she might be an easy target for certain persons. I promise on our amme’s name I will not cause any permanent damage to any Numenorean hassling our cousin.  

Caranthir

P.S. Don’t you dare suggest to the Noldoran that I be sent as his envoy to Tar-Atanamir’s court. I fear that I might be inspired to commit a kinslaying. The prig is of Turgon’s line, right?

P.P.S. Suggest we send Tuor or Earendil to talk some sense into his descendant. 


 

Second Age 2029, Andunie

Dear Uncle Ara

I have really enjoyed our stint here on Numenor, even if my poor darling didn’t. I am perfectly capable of dealing with certain annoying persons, thank you. It is a pity we would to leave Armenelos and the dance academy we helped set up. There were a fair number of promising students we hope would continue serving Lady Nessa’s art. My husband and Tar-Atanamir never really got along, unlike Lady Silmalosse and me. I had also cultivated a passable friendship with the new queen. With her husband so distracted by his new duties, we hope the academy would be a fine opportunity for her to engage her time now all her children are grown.

Do not fret. Cousin Caranthir has already made arrangements for us to sail back to Alqualonde. We have imposed on the current Lord of Andunie’s hospitality long enough, ever since we departed from Armenelos after a rather heated exchange with Tar-Atanamir over Lady Silmalosse’s house arrest. I know, I should have held my tongue instead of raising the issue at the ambassador’s banquet – you know that annual event to reaffirm the goodwill between the Eldar and the island? Well, it was only with Lord Elatan VII’s intervention that His Majesty did not end up being the shortest reigning monarch after Tar- Vardamir.

Perhaps we have really outstayed our welcome on Numenor. Poor Ecthelion is exhausted. I imagine a long rest at Amme’s place will do us both good – and he can get round to finishing that epic poem about Tar-Ancalime he has been working on since S.A. 1880.

With much love

Laurelosse


 

Second Age 2035, Alqualonde

Dear Caranthir

Please shut up your store and move back to Aman. Your amme and I are both in agreement on this. We have been hearing things about the Numenorean expansion into Middle-earth from returning elves and it is not all good. Your sister is appealing to be sent to Numenor as an envoy but the Noldoran is not budging on this issue despite there being no willing and capable elves to take up the post for the past five years. Lord Turgon refuses to budge from his little piece of Valinor (not that we are surprised). Earendil could not be spared from his duties and Tuor was ruled out after he expressed some rather undiplomatic ideas about dealing with Tar-Atanamir. I doubt a spanking would solve the issue here. Arakano flatly refuses on the grounds that he did not wish his pleasant memories of the island to be marred.

We believe that your uncle is seriously considering you as a potential candidate for his envoy. Just a recap on what that means for both of us – stuffy official banquets, uncomfortable robes, and boring or annoying company. There is no way I will be your gracious wife of an ambassador.

We have heard news that Cousin Losse might be expecting. Do come home soon as I would like to provide the new baby with a cousin his or her age as a playmate. Also have acquired a new bearskin coverlet courtesy of your little brothers we should really try out. Get the hint?

Eagerly awaiting your return

Your Helwien


 

Second Age 2210, Alqualonde

Dear Uncle

Things cannot continue as they are in Numenor. I have heard disturbing news of its inhabitants starting to question the Ban of the Valar from my winged sources. If you do not put much stock in the word of seabirds, surely reports from Prince Earlindo must carry some weight. As he walks towards the sunset of his life, Tar-Atanamir’s greed and arrogance has grown rather than be tempered by the years. Now he has openly questioned the Ban, we fear that his people might be inspired to break it. The Lord of Andunie has reassured Earlindo they would deny any suspicious vessel the right to leave his harbour but there are anchorages aplenty along Numenor’s coast.

We have spoken on this matter many times and I will bow to your decision.

Your loyal subject always,

Mornel Feanoriel

P.S. Seriously, Uncle? You are leaving it to Lord Eonwe to set things straight?


 

Mornel groaned as she lay back against the warm bulk of her steed. Fearocco twisted his head over to nibble at a stray braid. They were resting by a quiet mountain lake somewhere near Turgon’s city – a copy of the lost Gondolin for most part. The Noldoran had kept her busy riding up and down the entirety of Aman’s interior. There were various chieftains to meet with and events she was charged with attending as his representative.

Perhaps Arafinwe feared she would involve herself with Numenorean politics. A reluctant Arakano had been dispatched to accompany Lord Eonwe and a small contingent of Maiar to Numenor. Members of the House of Feanor had been scattered far and wide across Valinor. Caranthir’s incognito stint in Numenor had been revealed after he had one too many drinks and shot his mouth off about the Numenoreans in front of Cousin Finrod. The two sons of Arafinwe and their sons were also prohibited from any contact with the Numenoreans.  

Caranthir and Cousin Angrod had been sent to do an audit of some iron mines in the south. The twins and their wives were sent to Valmar to visit their law-parents. Orodreth was delighted to have a chance away from Tirion to visit his daughter and law-son. Finrod had disobeyed his instructions to join his son in the Woods of Orome and headed to Taniquetil to appeal to the Valar. Mornel wondered if there were any grounds to his fears of Lord Ulmo sinking the island.

Well, there had been no one willing to test the Valar’s patience yet by breaking the Ban. But if one ship were to come west with mortals…

“How did the meeting go?” Mornel wondered aloud.

“Utter disaster! Never met a more pompous creature – save Morgoth…” a voice piped.

“Master Olorin!” Mornel greeted her friend.

“Had to hurry back. Could not wait to get away from that island… Lord Eonwe was about to suggest thunderbolts and stuff but we can’t do that, can we now? They are Eru’s Children too…” Olorin grumbled as he tossed an apple to Fearocco as a gift.

“That bad, eh?”

“Aye. Atanamir demanded the Choice. Would you believe his nerve? Claimed Earendil was given it but that was a different matter entirely… Elros already made the Choice for himself and all his descendants when he chose to take the Path of Men.” 

“Is everyone else alright?”

“Well, he had enough sense left not to strike Eonwe. We did manage to return to Andunie where your cousin and the other elves would be under its lord’s protection. Eonwe has already conveyed the Valar’s displeasure with the entire situation in Numenor to Atanamir but one could never be sure if the people got the message. Don’t you worry, child. No one’s going to drown that island, as much as Atanamir and his supporters deserve a ducking.”

Chapter Text

Second Age 2222, New Gondolin

For a Noldo, Cousin Turgon lacked originality. Despite all his talk of remaking his city, he had sought comfort in the familiar. The guest dining hall they were in was a copy of the one in in Tirion’s palace. It was too easy to imagine one was back in the White City where it not for the subtle variations in the décor Elenwe insisted on. Still, their hostess’ hospitality was flawless. Turgon had agreed to board not only his colleague Salgant and his brother Arakano, but Mornel and Caranthir as well.

“So they banned all Elves from the palace?” Arakano asked incredulously. “So how did His Lordship get you an invitation?”

“Technically speaking, I was not supposed to even be there… but lo, someone just could not throw a banquet without some poor envoy of the Eldar to insult between every other course,” Lord Salgant drawled lazily. “His teeth had all fallen out, his hair too. They had to bear him in on a sedan chair as his legs stopped working by then. Spent most of the meal drooling or cursing the Valar while trying to persuade me into sharing the secret of eternal life… Kept forgetting I was not Ecthelion…”

Mornel and Caranthir exchanged glances. The frailty of his mortal years had hit Tar-Atanamir hard, yet he had clung onto his power and his obsession with eternal life to the very end. They had travelled here to Turgon’s mountain city to speak with Lord Salgant for more details on the passing of the Sceptre in Numenor in S.A. 2221. His report to the Noldaran had been worryingly terse. Now Mornel was relieved none of her brothers or her had been assigned that post after Salgant resigned.

“Then he tried to bribe his way on a ship to Valinor, convinced just setting foot on Aman would automatically give him endless years… What would you know happened then but his eyes to roll up in his head and him falling face-down into his dessert! He had the Sceptre with him at the table, waving it about and stuff. So his heir-apparent leaps up and tries to take it away from him so the servants could get him cleaned up,” Salgant chuckled and took a sip of his cider.

“What would you know but our King of Numenor started screeching and cursing at his son. There was a tug-of-war over the Sceptre before Prince Ancalimon won out and they carted His Majesty off to his bedchamber. Well, that was the end of the dinner and the rest of us were told to leave immediately. We heard the next morning Tar-Atanamir was no more and his son would be crowned king. For that ceremony, I was regrettably absent.”

“What do you make of Ancalimon?” Mornel asked. Turgon had non-categorically washed his hands of his descendants in the House of Elros and wanted as little to do with things outside Aman as possible. By seeking employment in his city with such haste, Arakano and Salgant were forestalling any further attempts by the Noldoran to dispatch them on further missions to Numenor.

“I had little to do with the royal house, what I heard from the House of Andunie did not bode well. The son has inherited his father’s love and desire for material wealth and power. Numenor is a fair jewel for now but the flaws are showing. There is a definite schism between the Elf-friends and those who question the Valar. For many years, Ancalimon has been forced to assist his father in completing the Three Prayers as his body and mind started failing. Many believe misfortune will descend on the island if they reject the Valar outright. Mind you, I have not had further contact with Tar-Ancalimon after that dinner and cannot determine his faith in the Valar.”

“I heard from Idril that Tuor made a visit to Numenor a few months back. So far Tar-Ancalimon has not made any changes to his father’s laws on the Eldar,” Caranthir mused. “Loads of nonsense about Elf-magic and immortal years… Tuor was not pleased he had to save some poor elfling from some thugs in Andunie. Slave trade through Romenna brisk with so-called lesser peoples brought in via the Numenorean ports of Middle-earth.”

“Finrod’s boy landed the thankless job of being Uncle Ara’s envoy to Numenor this round…” Mornel added. “Prince Earlindo promised to keep an eye on his grandnephew,” she added at looks of alarm from her companions. Celeglass was not known for his diplomatic tact.

“Celeglass, his own grandson?” Arakano started. “Uncle Ara must be getting desperate. Still, a toast to him.”

“I heard the lad was leaping at the chance to get as far from Valinor as he could without breaking the Valar’s laws, wasn’t he?” Turgon cut in as he entered the room with a tray of freshly-baked cookies, which his guests eagerly snatched up.

“A gift of cookies from my wife. A new recipe – nettles, oak leaves, and acorns,” he glared as Caranthir choked on a cookie and spat his mouthful out on the carpet. Salgant grimaced but forced himself to swallow his mouthful. He had eaten far worse in Angband. Arakano was chugging the jug of cider to rid himself of the taste. Mornel nonchalantly dropped her still-uneaten cookie onto the carpet and kicked it under the table.

“You could have warned us, brother…” Arakano retorted after he had emptied most of the cider on himself and the floor.

“It’s still better than what we had on the Ice,” Turgon shrugged. “You did not have to test out her mushroom and oyster bread.” His wife had taken to experimenting in the kitchen to deal with the boredom of their unchanging days.

“Perhaps you should have allowed her to have her shrine to Lady Nienna, even if no such shrine had ever existed in Tirion on Tuna or Gondolin,” Salgant added. “Times have changed, my liege. It would give many solace to have somewhere to appeal to the Lady of Mercy for the friends and family still lingering in Mandos or across the Sea.”

“Either that or consider giving Idril a little sibling!” Caranthir chuckled.

“How does your wife, Moryo? Have your efforts borne fruit yet?” Turgon tossed back a barb at his cousin. Caranthir snarled. Their continued childlessness was a sore point for both him and his wife. Mornel placed a restraining hand on her brother’s knee to keep him from getting up and doing something regrettable to their host. She glared at Turgon, who wisely retreated.

“Ignore him, he is still trying to adjust to being simply a prince instead of a king,” Arakano replied. “You should have seen all the funny faces he made when Amme told him he had to swear fealty to Uncle Ara. Weren’t you there?”

“And I thought his collar was stitched too tight,” Caranthir laughed, his sour mood forgotten.


 

Second Age 2280, Andunie

Dear Grandfather

I know I am supposed to write in code but I believe no one is that interested in Elvish letters by now in Armenelos with the King’s Men rising in power – that’s the anti-Valar faction I mentioned previously. Moreover, I know my handwriting is comparable to bird-scratches. You probably need one of Lord Orome’s Maiar on hand to decipher what I am writing. The fact that I have yet to be recalled to Aman or kicked off the island probably means I am doing something right for this diplomacy thing. His Lordship of Andunie a true friend but many of his colleagues in the capital less so. Quenya no longer used in the King’s House apart from official ceremonies, tradition you know.  

Apart from the initial presentation of gifts to the king and the rare state banquet, I have not been in the palace. Had the honour of seeing the King’s Heir and his family from a distance when they visited Andunie. Telemmaite’s lady wife is a real beauty. They say she was a dancer from that academy Cousin Laurelosse helped set up. Tar-Ancalimon is a patron of the academy as was his late mother. There was some scandal about the marriage but Tar-Ancalimon relented to the wishes of his only son. There was some rumour that his own marriage was set up by his father for political purposes and none too happy, so I suppose there’s one redeeming point for him. Just wish he would stop believing those idiotic superstitions about the Eldar. Tar-Ancalimon is amazingly dim for someone named “Most Bright”. I suppose it refers to that dazzling gold and jewel brocade robe he wears for all official events.

Back to Telemmaite – the prince imagines himself as a smith and has this obsession with mithril and silver. His carriage was plated with the stuff when he came to Andunie with his wife. He has a daughter, Vanimelde, so I hear from His Lordship. There are already arrangements to wed her off to some distant cousin once she is of age to strengthen the bloodline of Elros Tar-Minyatur on account of her mother being of lesser stock.   

So far my attempts to extend the hand of friendship to Tar-Ancalimon and his heir have been rebuffed. Fears of Elf-magic and stuff. Tempted to try reaching out to the princess (despite your advice not to interfere overmuch). Still cannot understand this obsession with Valinor and immortality. The whole reason I pushed for this mission is for a change. Awake, hunt, eat, sleep, and then repeat the next day. Lord Orome’s Woods was a great place for the first few yeni but one does get bored. I suppose I could get on the wrong side of a boar and end up in Mandos but all that waiting would be even more boring. Tempted to ask the Maiar if it is possible for me to hop over to wherever Elros is now to give him an earful about his descendants.  

Pleased to announce that the consulate in Andunie has not been subjected to any broken windows or acts of arson since that fire in S.A. 2250. That might have something to do with the guard-dogs Atto sent over. Tell Amme not to worry, I do have contingency plans for a hasty escape with Granduncle Lindo if it comes to that. It is a foolish hare who does not have another exit to his burrow.

Your loving grandson

Celeglass

P.S. Do you think we could convince the next King’s Heir to return to the Valar? I don’t suppose we can get Lord Ulmo or someone to make a visit to Numenor personally to convince folks the Valar are not some mere children’s stories? The Witnesses of Manwe are a great reminder during the Three Prayers but they are just big birds. 


 

Second Age 2280, Tirion on Tuna

Dear Celeglass

Please do not make me question my wisdom in entrusting you with your post. In addition to your report, I have also received complaints from Prince Earlindo about your heavy partying in less-than-reputable parts of Andunie, the latest of which resulted in the razing of a tavern and several dwelling houses. Also will be making reinstitution to the Lord of Andunie for the damage done to his study. Whatever possessed you to start a bonfire indoors when there is a perfectly good beach within walking distance?  

Also do stick to using the code the next round. We got one of Lord Manwe’s Eagles to help decipher your bird-scratches. He is not pleased with being referred to as just a big bird. Do not be too surprised if the Witnesses of Manwe decide to take a potty-stop on you the next time they are in Numenor.

After more than 2000 years, can’t you at least try to work on improving your penmanship?

Your annoyed grandfather

P.S. NO interfering in the lives of the House of Elros outside your assigned official, diplomatic capacity. That means no assisting princesses in eloping as your father did.

Chapter Text

Second Age 2280, Andunie

Dear Grandfather

Please note that I am writing in the prearranged code. Forgive me for any errors in spelling and grammar. Have greatly curtailed my visits to the taverns as promised despite them being a key source of information much like a well-worn game trail in the woods. It would seem that our Silver Prince has regretted his choice of bride rather soon as the lady has been stricken by some mortal ailment. Prince Telemmaite has sent his wife and their daughter to Andunie in hopes the sea-air would ease her suffering. 

His Lordship of Andunie has kindly offered them the hospitality of his house and the services of the best physicians in Andunie bur methinks Telemmaite has grown weary of his wife as judged by the haste in which he departed the city after depositing his family in the care of His Lordship’s household. One might also note that his magnificent silver carriage was looking a little tarnished. As a concerned neighbour, I paid my polite little visit to the ladies. I fear the mother is not long for Arda. Her looks had faded and she has become rather haggard. She had to be carried about as her legs no longer worked, a sad fate for a dancer.

It is alleged in the taverns that despite having an heir in his daughter, Telemmaite desired a son to carry on his name. The marriage fell apart after several attempts to beget a son ended in stillbirths or miscarriages. His Lordship has heard whispers that Telemmaite has been paying court to several young ladies in hopes of having a legitimate son by one of them upon his wife’s demise. If true, this will be the first instance of a remarriage in the House of Elros (if I got my history right).

Meet the little princess and I do believe I have quite charmed the little lady. Sadly, her education has been much neglected and all she cares for are the music and dance she had learned from her mother as soon as she started toddling about. His Lordship promised to try and correct that deficit in her education – poor mite has never even heard of Lord Orome! Perhaps Granduncle Earlindo could visit and give her a bit of history via poetic ballad. You know I only picked up those drinking ballads in the local tongue.  No one bothered to teach her Quenya. Methinks we have our work cut out for us, a real challenge. Seriously regret not paying more attention to my tutors. Could you please send Master Rumil over? Seems her sire intends to keep the little one uneducated so that she might be passed over as heir in favour of a son.

Current lord not musically inclined in the least, so he is trying to keep the child occupied with books from his library – all words and no pretty pictures. So we will have to teach her to read first. Cousin Glorfindel taught me complex angles using a rather risqué ballad. Do you suppose we could take a leaf from his book?

Celeglass

P.S. Do hurry if sending Master Rumil over as we believe Telemmaite would send for his daughter once her mother passes. Then we will not hear from her in whatever glided cage they intend to shut her away in until she could be married off.


 

Second Age 2280, Tirion on Tuna

“Dearest…” Arafinwe felt his wife snuggle up to him with a soft sigh under the bedclothes. “What’s troubling you? Was it that report from Celeglass?”

There was little he could keep from his queen. Arafinwe inhaled the summer-sweet scent of Earwen’s hair. In hushed whispers, he shared the contents of the report with her. Earwen reaffirmed several points from what she had learnt from her brothers who had dealings with Numenor.

“The House of Elros is faltering… Is it alright if we turn a blind eye to their decline?” Earwen asked.

“Who’s to say this is not a part of the Music. They are mortals and must go beyond the Circles…” Arafinwe replied. A little nugget of information in the report bothered him. “Did Glorfindel really teach geometry to Celeglass using naughty drinking songs?”

“Aye, and he was not the first… Did my father not chew my second brother out for teaching the history of the Great Journey to Finrod via cheeky drinking ballads? Our Angrod taught Nerwen Tengwar characters using a rather saucy poem he came up with,” Earwen’s laughter twinkled in the dark.

“Oh dear, you don’t suppose Celeglass is teaching Quenya to a Numenorean princess now using some highly risqué ballad, do you?”

“Don’t be silly, it’s well past moonrise and the little one should be asleep,” Earwen yawned.

“Wait, is Mornel still in Tirion?”

“I believe so. She promised Anaire to stay for the opening of the new library gardens… Where are you going?” Earwen sounded peevish as her husband slid out of bed and threw on his robe.

“Sorry, I have a letter to write,” Arafinwe replied. Mornel would not be happy but it was the lesser evil.


 

Second Age 2280, Andunie

“Why is that star so important?” Vanimelde frowned as Celeglass pointed out the rising Gil-Estel.

“That is your forefather, Earendil the Mariner,” Mornel explained gently. The trio were seated on a balcony overlooking the port. As much as she had been reluctant to step foot on Numenor again, it was heartening to see that the Lord of Andunie and many there remained faithful. It was not her place to defy a direct command from her king.

Thankfully, Celeglass had more common sense than his grandfather gave him and did not teach the princess any naughty poems. Only common Numenorean children’s songs, further vetted by their host, were used. Mornel added some old songs from the early days of Numenor.

“Sleepy…” the princess murmured and rubbed her eyes. Celeglass and Mornel exchanged looks over her head. The week had been frustrating to say the least. Being warned against the Eldar, it had taken some time for Celeglass to win her trust after his first visit. Mornel had been treated on her arrival to the sight of her cousin doing a sailor’s hornpipe in the hall to amuse the princess.

Telemmaite had indeed taken his wife solely for her looks. On attempting to strike up a conversation with her, Mornel had found her almost simple-minded and concerned only about the latest fashions in the capital. Their daughter appeared to have inherited her mother’s vapid nature. The only time she expressed any desire to learn was when Mornel started playing her harp. Only then would there be some expression of interest from the princess.

Vanimelde had declared she had no need to learn to read and write, or do sums as she was a princess and would have others to do that for her. As for being future King’s Heir, she did not wish for that burden and would hand it over to any brother who might be born.

“It’s too hard!” the little girl had burst into tears when the Lord of Andunie tried to teach her about the basic geography of their island. Mornel had bit her tongue as she recalled other princesses who were also King’s Heirs and how they had soldiered through the rigours of their lessons, tools their fathers were glad to equip them with to negotiate the perils of court life.

“I think all she wants is to dance and sing…” Celeglass whispered as he scooped up the sleeping child. Mornel noted how weary he looked in the moonlight. Finrod’s son had matured in his role as the Noldoran’s envoy.

“What plans do they have for her if Telemmaite fails to beget the son he wishes for?” Mornel asked as their host came onto the balcony.

“There are many lords of the Council who desire a royal law-daughter…”

“Would you be one of them?” Celeglass asked bluntly. Their aged host shook his head.

“My sons are all wed and I refuse to force an unwilling match on my grandsons. Moreover, they would be a little old for the princess here, being long of age.”

“Well-said,” Mornel replied. “Any notion as to who the potential groom would be?”

“Between the jockeying, bribes, and occasional mishap – nay. Telemmaite is stringing the hopefuls along, accepting rich gifts in exchange for possible consideration of betrothal. They say she has already been betrothed twice on paper. Sometimes, forgive me, I believe it better for her to remain blissfully ignorant of her status as a pawn in the games of others or a royal mare.”


 

Morning brought news that Telemmaite’s lady-wife had passed beyond the Circles of Arda. as commanded by her father and grandfather, the princess was to be brought back to the capital to be raised within the king’s household.

Mornel’s sojourn in Andunie had reached its sad conclusion, much to her relief.

“It was worth a try, wasn’t it?” Earlindo tried to reassure Mornel as they sailed away from Numenor. Celeglass would continue his duties in Andunie as an envoy of the Eldar.

Mornel glanced eastwards where dark clouds had started gathering over the island. With a mighty scream, three great eagles glided overhead towards the island. It was the festival of Erukyerme – the Prayer to Eru. Mornel whispered her own little prayer to Eru to protect a certain little dancer.

“You wouldn’t be returning again, wouldn’t you?” Earlindo noted. Mornel shook her head.

“I am done with Numenor.”

“Not even those who remain faithful to the Valar like the Lords of Andunie?”

“Nay, the Secondborn can fend for themselves.”


 

Second Age 2280, Tol Eressea

Dear Uncle Ara

Here is my report on my week-long visit to Andunie. Student unwilling and stubborn. Doubt even Master Rumil could get anything across to her. Uncertain if she was brought up to think that way by her parents or is simply not academically-inclined. Only interest is in music and dance. Unable to lever on those interests to give her a crash course in reading and writing before her father had her whisked back to Armenelos. Probable she would get an earful from her minders for indulging in Elvish music and dance.

About Celeglass – please credit him with more sense. I am pleased to inform you that Celeglass has matured and he is no longer as reckless as he once was. Fear for those who still remain faithful to the Valar and urged our host to recommend his people move east over the sea. Not sure if the advice will be taken.

I will be leaving for Formenos direct from Tol Eressea to attend the opening of that new elementary school for local elflings. I am done with Numenor. So are the other members of the House of Feanor.

Your niece

Mornel Feanoriel

Chapter Text

Second Age 2300, a quiet valley in Aman

Gwindor and Finduilas’ humble cottage was cosy and comfortable though it was a bit of a challenge fitting all their guests in their tiny sitting room. Angrod and Eldalote were perched on the small settee. Orodreth and Finrod took up stools by the fireplace, ceding the four chairs around the small table to their wives and their hosts. Beleg had to share the window sill with Mornel. Plates of quince tartlets and dainty game-filled pastries were passed round. The decision for the couple’s move to this lonely corner of Aman was no surprise given that Eldar memories are long and there were many who simply would not let that unfortunate episode with Turin be. Though the nearest village was a good twenty miles away, Lady Yavanna had blessed the couple’s garden and fruit trees while Lord Orome bestowed his favours on Gwindor’s bow and spear. They only visited the village to trade for what they could not grow or hunt for their own.

“Simply put, the Eagles had it with Numenor,” Finrod remarked as he passed his nephew his goblet to be refilled. “They upped and left Armenelos as soon as their latest chicks were old enough. We heard Thorondor was most put out about Ancalimon’s oversight… Sure the weather was a little wet but he should have had faith it would clear…”

“A pity none thought to bite someone’s head off on the way out,” Angrod added with an uncharacteristic smirk.

“Do you seriously think his son would be an improvement?” Lady Eldalote rebuked. 

“One of the younger Eagles did relieve himself right on the lawn outside the king’s bedchamber, so Uncle Earlindo said,” Finrod shrugged.

The Eagles had nested on the roofs of the tallest towers in the king’s palace since the days of Elros Tar-Minyatur. Despite the growing tide of discontent against the Valar and the Eldar, no one was foolish enough to raise a hand against Manwe’s representatives. The last straw had apparently been the failure of Tar-Ancalimon to observe one of the Three Prayers atop Meneltarma. 

“The island will fall,” Finduilas declared with an air of solemn finality, her eyes were unfocused as if looking into another plane. Many whispered that after her return to Aman, the former princess had been marked by Lord Irmo as a seer. As she filled with her first child, there were concerns that her visions might have adverse effects on the elfling, hence the visit by friends and family to cheer her up. With a frown, Mornel took up her harp and started to strum a merry song to dispel the pall that had descended over the party.

Whatever was Lord Irmo thinking to lay such grim visions on an expectant mother?

Gwindor dropped a kiss on his wife’s brow and patted her belly. Finduilas’ face lit up with heartfelt joy. The conversation turned to the latest developments in Tirion and Lady Anaire’s new interest in orchids.


 

Second Age 2387, Alqualonde

Dear Nephew Finrod Fenugreek

We are writing to report that your boy has made his safe return to Aman. Lindo and I hauled him out by the skin of our teeth. You so owe us one. It must be the charming good looks that run in our family. The lady was fair and willing, but unfortunately wedded to an imbecile prone to jealousy. Good thing we were there to haul Celeglass’ ass out of town. With a swift ship and the wind behind us. Rest assured we did not wreck the place, too badly at least. The Lord of Andunie still had his roof up when we last checked. Though your sire might want to let the uproar die down a bit before dispatching a new envoy.

Your uncle Raumeldo (who is still the handsomest bachelor in Alqualonde)

P.S. Whatever possessed you to name yourself after a vegetable?


 

Second Age 2387, Alqualonde

Dear Ada

Please kindly ignore whatever nonsense my granduncles might have written about my latest misadventure. It was a huge misunderstanding involving a drunk guest who mistook me for her husband. There were punches thrown and furniture too. Wish I could apologize to our host in person but guess that will be impossible. Grandfather would probably ground me until the Second Music.

In case Grandfather is too mad at me to read my latest letters, here is the report on the new King and Council. Tar-Telemmaite – no change from his youth, but at least he made an effort to carry out the Three Prayers over the past year. His only surviving child grown into adulthood and betrothed. Wedding expected soon. Despite Telemmaite’s best efforts, his younger children failed to thrive or met with some misadventure. Methinks Armenelos is unhealthy for royal children. Council of the Sceptre now split between Elf-friends and King’s Men. Believe Telemmaite still has hopes of siring a son at his age by observing the customs of his forefathers to appease the Valar.  Doubt his newfound piety will last.  

Your obedient son

Celeglass

P.S. Could you put in a good word with Grandfather? I don’t want to be stuck copying scrolls in the library until Arda breaks.


 

Second Age 2387, Tirion

Dear Uncle Raumeldo

The name is Finrod Felagund, and fenugreek is an herb. I am pleased to inform you that my son has safely returned home and will be heading off to the Woods of Orome at his earliest convenience. Would strongly advise you and my uncles not to visit Numenor for a while.

I have requested Grandfather Olwe not to allow you and your elves anywhere near Numenor for a bit, until things cool down. There are great fishing grounds down south, so I heard from Tuor. Perhaps your fleet can head there for some tasty codfish? I have enclosed a Numenorean recipe for breaded cod-cakes.

Your nephew Finrod


 

Second Age 2390, Formenos

“Sis, you are not concerned at all?” the Ambarussa asked as one. They and their wives had just returned from a periodic trading journey to Tirion. It was an established practice for trade caravans to leave Formenos for the major Eldar cities of Tirion and Valmar in spring and summer.  

“Why should I be?” Mornel as she worked on a new bow. She turned round to pick up the bowstring and tried to ignore the four pairs of eyes boring into her back.

“They say Uncle Ara might send Finrod there as his envoy. Shouldn’t we go back him or something, given what happened the last time he went off with some mortal?” Pityo said. The actions of their older brothers against Finrod in Nargothrond during the Quest for the Silmaril still bothered them. 

“Look, it’s not as though he is going against Sauron and his werewolves… Cousin Finrod can handle himself against mortals,” Mornel replied. 

“That island will fall for all its hubris and rightly so,” Isilmire and Lomire added. “But we don’t want to see Cousin Finrod caught up in it.”

“His uncle will help him out. Earlindo still maintains contact with the Lords of Andunie, doesn’t he?” Mornel asked.

“Aye, Earlindo even gave them a few of Atto’s seeing-stones. Those palantirs… on top of what they got from their foremother Silmarien as part of her dowry…”

“Oh, that fool…” Mornel grumbled. She never liked the idea of Feanor’s palantirs being handed out all over Aman and Numenor like trinkets.

“It may not even come to pass – Finrod going to Armenelos,” Telvo said. “There has been no reply received to the letter Uncle Ara forwarded to Armenelos via Andunie. There may not even be an official diplomat sent.”


 

Excerpt from Mornel’s journal

Uncle Arafinwe is still hoping to re-establish diplomatic ties with Numenor. Cousin Finrod is willing to act as his envoy despite it being highly unusual for a Crown Prince to be sent as an envoy to a foreign city under any circumstances. I know Prince Ingwion was sent to Alqualonde in his youth as his father King Ingwe’s envoy but that was with the hopes he would fall for his host’s daughter Earwen. Their optimism is sadly misplaced based on what we have heard from Celeglass. I do not know if an indifferent ruler like Vanimelde is an improvement from her more militant predecessors. Perhaps the Numenorean expansion into Middle-earth would slow under the regency of her consort. Or perhaps that is just wishful thinking on my part. Wonder if Elros is turning in his grave. He did do his best to raise his children and grandchildren right. Earendil has taken up knitting on his nightly journeys, so Elwing mentioned, just so he can avoid looking on the mess his descendants are making of Numenor. 


 

Second Age 2526, Andunie

Dear Earlindo

We are much blessed and pleased that you and your nephew have chosen to visit us, though we wish it could have been in better circumstances. His Majesty Tar-Telemmaite has passed and his daughter now wields the Sceptre, or rather her husband does. As we have discussed, she has little interest in the kingship. We do not fear political strife as Herucalmo has proven to be a brutally efficient leader in his own right in the short time since his wife took the Sceptre. More worrisome is the trend for successors to the Council of the Sceptre to be among the King’s Men rather than Elf-friends.

For now, Andunie is a haven for all Elf-friends and the Eldar but I can foresee a day when this haven will be no more. I intend to build a new house by the shore with a private pier at which you may moor your vessels when you visit, till then.

Your friend always

Lord Manwedil of Andunie

Chapter Text

Second Age 2700, Alqualonde

“My friend Aulendil is worried,” Earlindo said quietly as he regarded the wine in the Numenorean cut-crystal goblet he was holding. It was a craftily made piece of art, and a gift from Andunie. Eleven other matching goblets stood on the great table on the King’s Terrace overlooking the Swan Haven. The family had gathered for an informal dinner. Mornel was also present having accompanied her Aunt Earwen in her uncle’s stead to visit her parents. Her brothers and their families were also present at the dinner and Mornel was more than happy to entertain them alongside Serelinde with their harps.

“What tidings does the Lord of Andunie send?” Olwe asked his youngest son. Mornel had noted that her friend had been subdued since his return from Andunie but did not wish to press him.

“Prince Calmacil has long sought to escape his father’s control by extending Numenorean power on the Hither Shores. Tar-Alcarin is now slipping into his dotage and his son has returned. It is feared that the son might seek to unseat his father sooner rather than wait…”

“You feared the same with Alcarin after Tar-Vanimelde’s demise and her husband took the sceptre. Yet he bided his time for nigh twenty cycles of the Sun,” Earwen smiled as she passed a bowl of grapes to her law-daughter.

“They say Alcarin tried to walk the middle-path between the Faithful and the King’s Men as far as he was able despite his questioning of the laws of the Valar, showing favour to neither party. His son is more warlike by nature and a staunch member of the King’s Men. What’s more, his conquests in the east have surely drawn attention…” Earlindo’s eyes darted to Finrod and the pair had a silent exchange in osanwe.

“Do you fear the Numenoreans’ activities have drawn attention from Sauron?” Mornel drawled as she popped an oyster into her mouth. Finrod flinched at the mention of the fallen Maia. Amarie instinctively reached out to reassure him.

“I have spoken with elves who arrived recently from the Hither Shores. They tell of the powers of Shadow gathering in the east and south even as Numenorean might forces them from shore…” Eareldo added quietly. There was always the lingering fear that the malign forces that plagued Middle-earth might reach across the Sundering Sea. Hadn’t Morgoth struck a mortal wound against the House of Finwe in the safety of Valinor?  

“Come now, leave such gloomy thoughts!” Queen Falmiril urged and clapped her hands. “Mornel, if you please, one of those merry Silvan songs!”

Mornel picked up her harp anew and thoughts of Numenor and the world beyond Aman’s shores were forgotten.


 

Second Age 2900, Tol Eressea

“It was obvious when he took the throne as Ar-Adunakhor,” Raumeldo retorted as he and his brother disembarked from their vessel. He glared at the grey clouds overhead that threatened a storm. “Lord of the West indeed, an ill-omened name…”

Earlindo shook his head, too weary to argue with his brother. Mornel glanced up from where she had been working on a sail with Serelinde on the wharf.

“How fares our friend in Andunie?” Serelinde asked her husband. Like Mornel, she had long ceased to track the succeeding generations of the House of Elendil through his daughter. 

“He stands alone for the Faithful in that nest of vipers they call the Council of the Sceptre. His younger children have already sailed for Pelagir on the Hither Shores,” Earlindo replied tartly. “His eldest remains out of love and duty to the Faithful.”

“Shouldn’t he urge his son to flee for greener pastures?” Serelinde wondered aloud.

“Nay, the lad feels his duty as strongly as his father. They will try to protect their remaining people as long as they can. Even if the Elven tongues are no longer welcome in Armenelos, they will teach them in secret to their children, along with the Valar’s teachings,” Earlindo replied.

It would be a long time before the sons of Olwe return to Numenor, if ever.


 

Second Age 3000, Tirion on Tuna

The festivities were in full swing with dancing and music in the streets. Mornel lounged on a divan by the window, nursing a posset of mulled wine. Her leg was trapped in an unwieldy plaster cast after an accident in the stables when she got on the wrong side of her own horse. Fearocco was most apologetic afterwards but the damage was done. The healers gave strict instructions for almost total bed-rest for two weeks to allow the bones to knit properly.

She leafed through a book - one of many Arafinwe had sent her from the library to keep her amused during her convalescence. It was a book on the island written by Tar-Elendil himself and illustrated by the best Numenor artists. She put it aside for a later book on the same topic, commissioned by Tar-Telperien. She marvelled at how much the Numenorean capital had grown over the years. Within Tirion’s walls, buildings often remained unchanged for Ages.

In Formenos, construction was more haphazard and repairs and renovations often necessary to keep the place habitable due to the harsh weather and creative endeavours of the residents. She had enjoyed a good chuckle at Grandfather Mahtan’s letter, which also detailed the spectacular success of a new device for burrowing. The device worked too well and burrowed its way into the vaults of the keep before they could stop it. Now they had to have engineers repair the damage done unto its foundations lest the entire keep collapsed.    

Idly, Mornel browsed through the book before picking up one on the Numenorean settlements in Middle-earth. This one was written by a noble who had accompanied Tar-Minastir on his armada. There were other books too – gifts from the Lords of Andunie over the yeni. The wine made her drowsy.

An armada. From across the sea. A great wave. Many children lost. Lord Ulmo’s, no, Eru’s judgement was harsh indeed… 

Mornel shook herself back into wakefulness. Feeling greatly annoyed, she reached for the bell beside her. She needed the aid of a servant to help her to the privy across the hall to answer nature’s call.


 

Second Age 3035, Elwing’s Tower

“The prince of the House of Elros took a wife from the line of the Lords of Andunie of the Faithful and she bore him a son,” Elwing mentioned offhandedly as she offered her guests apple pie. “He would be king someday as the eldest…”

“Do you still hope for the tide of discontent to be turned and lost sheep returned to the fold?” Eldalote asked as she sipped at her tea. Elves no longer called at the ports of Numenor but Elwing’s tower was often visited by the same seabirds that frequented the western shores of Numenor.

“One does always hope…” Elwing murmured. “Elros is lost to us until the Second Music. We do hope that his bloodline will endure…”

“Don’t fret, Elwing,” Mornel replied. “I am sure there are descendants of Elros among the Faithful, who might yet endure…”

Three ships racing across the sea into the east…

“Who’s to say that his sire’s influence would be the stronger one and the lad turned to the ways of the King’s Men?” Angrod murmured darkly. Eldalote glared at him. She wanted reassure their younger kinswoman and her husband was not helping.

An old man walking with a young daughter on a lonely shore. The father is tired… The royal line of Elros is weakening. A smiling Lady Uinen scatters pearls and shells for the young girl in the sand to distract her. The father gazes into the West, seeking something. He then looks over his shoulder at another father and his child standing in shadow… Brothers following different paths…  

“Elwing! I bring you gifts!” Earendil’s hearty greeting snapped Mornel out of her vision.

Laughing, Elwing hastened out to meet her husband. Her worries over the line of Elros forgotten for now.

The line of Elros will endure through the Lords of Andunie… Mornel sipped her tea and looked at a painting of a soaring falcon on the wall.

Chapter Text

Second Age 3227, Tol Eressea

Caranthir watched wryly as his sister tried her luck finding a gull to speak with at their nesting colony on the cliffs of Tol Eressea. Few elves were as well versed in the language of the sea-birds as Mornel and Elwing. More likely, few were blessed with the patience to maintain a prolonged conversation without being overcome with the urge to wring the neck of said gull. Most sea-birds were simple-minded creatures, interested only in things that concerned them directly – the weather, where to nest, and where food is to be found. Most were easily distracted and likely to take off mid-conversation on some utterly unrelated tangent.

Finally with the sun setting, Mornel returned to her brother.

“So how goes the war in Numenor?” he asked. They had heard of a war being fought in Numenor from Elwing about a yeni ago, caused when a new king tried to return the island to the ways of the Valar. The details were sketchy at best, the harbinger being an aged hawk that had been blown across the sea to Aman by a storm. The old bird had lived out the rest of her days as Elwing’s companion. Only the gulls and sea-birds regularly made the crossing but they were unreliable at best. Lord Manwe might have sent out his Eagles but they were not beholden to share what they had learnt of Numenor with the Children.

“No war now, but they speak of a grand celebration, possibly a coronation,” Mornel shrugged and fought the feeling of unease in the pit of her stomach. Had the island repented like their former king? Or had the throne been usurped by another? She could not help feeling something had gone wrong as she stared at the darkening skies in the east.


 

Second Age 3262, Tirion

“An armada returned from Middle-earth with Sauron as their prisoner,” Arafinwe confirmed the gossip that had spread like wildfire from the shores of Aman. Lord Osse and his lady kept the royal house of Alqualonde informed of any comings and goings from the island of Numenor. The expedition by Ar-Pharazon to Middle-earth had been met with trepidation by the inhabitants of Aman.

Across the table, Mornel gave her uncle a dark look which distinctly reminded him of his eldest brother when confronted with something that vexed him. Thankfully, it was a fleeting thing which soon passed. She poured out a cup of tea for her aunt Earwen.

Almost all the members of the House of Finwe in Aman were gathered in the palace of Tirion. Most of the womenfolk had gathered in the dowager queen’s sitting-room for an embroidery session, save for Earwen, Idril, and Mornel, who had participated in the War of Wrath or had been responsible for defences in Beleriand and were thus included in the discussion.

Angrod reached over the table for a pastry, exchanging a silent look with Finrod as he did so. Celeglass stopped his rough-housing with a large wolfhound on the floor. Arakano glanced out the window uneasily. Ill at ease, Turgon fidgeted in his armchair. Idril and Tuor moved closer to each other on the settee they shared with Caranthir, who had suddenly taken an interest in the carpet at his feet. The Ambarussa stopped their chess game and watched their sister expectantly. Orodreth had declined the invitation, pleading his inexperience in such matters of war, much to his father’s disgust.

“How can it be that Morgoth’s right-hand Maia would just surrender to the Numenoreans?” Mornel asked aloud, giving voice to the doubts of all present.

“Indeed, they do not have the Valar’s might behind them…” Arakano added. “What reason could he have to give himself up?”

“Did he not trick your nephew Celebrimbor some ten yeni past?” Finrod glanced at Caranthir and the other Feanorions. The circumstances of Celebrimbor’s demise had caused much sorrow to the House of Feanor. “Methinks he intends to try the same with the Numenoreans.”  

“Does he mean solely to corrupt the Numenoreans, or use them to strike against Aman? That is the question,” Mornel surmised. She tented her fingers with her elbows on the table and fixed everyone present with her intent gaze in turn.

“Does he mean to bring about the prophesised Dagor Dagorath to end this world?” one or both of the twins called out.  

“Don’t forget, the prophecy also states that Morgoth must break through the Doors of Night and the ever-vigilant Earendil has yet to raise the alarm,” Arafinwe pointed out.  

“I suppose we could ask those Eagles to keep an eye on things…” Celeglass suggested as he fended off licks from his canine playmate. “If they see an armada heading our way, it would be a sign of imminent attack…”

“Ships must be built first. With the current armada available, I doubt our enemy will risk an all-out attack. Watching the shipyards, especially those in the west of Numenor would give us more warning,” Tuor added. Mornel suspected that Tuor had ventured further with Lord Ulmo’s blessings on the waves than any of the Eldar gave him credit for. The Maiar of the waters might have given him news of happenings in Middle-earth and Numenor that his wife failed to learn from newly-arrived elves on Tol Eressea.

“In the meanwhile, we could prepare our defences…” Idril patted her husband’s knee fondly.

“Can we not ask Lord Ulmo to put up his enchanted islands again to fence Aman?” Turgon suggested.

“Nay, it would not work. Sauron will easily dispel any spells to confound his armada,” Finrod disagreed. He strode over to where a large map of Aman hung on the wall and ripped it off, casually spreading it on the floor. “Now, would the Valar have us fight or flee?”

“Either way, it would be wise to have the civilians evacuated from the coast,” Mornel pointed out.

Soon everyone was on their hands and knees, poring over the map and discussing the best strategies for both offense and defence in the raucous way the Noldor were known for once a debate got underway.

A half-turn of the hourglass later, Helwien and Eldalote were invited by their husbands to provide their inputs on the logistical aspect of moving a large population inland. Arafinwe then invited his sister Findis to provide suggestions on what arrangements should be made for dealing with any injuries during the evacuation. The Ambarussa’s wives also joined in with suggestions from their experiences as healers during the War. Concerned the family members at the meeting would be hungry, Elenwe dropped by the kitchens to fetch them some refreshments. Tired of waiting for their companions, Lady Indis and Amarie soon joined them and the room was decidedly now crowded.

Finally, King Arafinwe crafted a proposal to be presented to the Valar, written down in Amarie’s elegant hand and with any necessary corrections in the formal phrasing put forward by Lady Indis.

Chapter Text

Second Age 3315

The atmosphere was tense as the five remaining elves of the island of Tol Eressea were evacuated. From the Great Eagles, the Three Kings had learned that the Numenoreans were undertaking a massive project of building an armada and they were fast running out of time. King Olwe was amendable to the plan put forward by his law-son. However, his people were reluctant to leave the shores they so loved. Surely Lord Ulmo will protect us! They had cried. Lord Ulmo promised nothing despite the King and Queen’s prayers. Lord Osse volunteered to raise a storm the likes of which had never been seen to delay any invasion should the need arise.

Families with young elflings were the first to relent and make the move to the mainland. It took five years of coaxing before the last civilian, a stubborn fisherman, was pried out of his hovel like a limpet off its rock by his three utterly annoyed nephews. Earlindo had insisted on remaining on the island until the last elves left. Avallone and the settlements on the outlying islands were to be abandoned until the storm passed. Elf-ships were ordered to remain in harbour at Swan Haven or sail far south, out of the path of any invading armada from Numenor.

The refugees had picked their way inland to Tirion first, then the open plains of Valmar when the city became too crowded. It was a hard time for the Lindar, many of whom relied on the sea’s bounty for their livelihoods. Some made their way southwards by ship under Tuor’s lead to Turgon’s city deep in the southern fjords, after Arafinwe wrote to his nephew insisting he opened his city gates to the refugees. Mornel believed it was Idril’s impassioned pleas to her father that moved him to mercy rather than their uncle’s letter. More headed northwards to Formenos and her now-legendary mountain lake that was said to be a twin to the lake on which shores the First Elves awoke.

A handful of warriors volunteered to remain in Alqualonde to slow the enemy should it come to pass. Prince Raumeldo, Olwe’s second son among them. His younger brother Earlindo would join him there instead of heading to Formenos where his wife and family had sought refuge. King Olwe and his queen were currently staying with their daughter and law-son in Tirion.

“Why do they not speak to us?” Raumeldo had asked Mornel when she arrived in Alqualonde to check on the defences. “Even Osse and Uinen seem to have abandoned us…” It was a sore thing to see the once-bustling quays of Alqualonde and Avallone so empty and still. Even the sprawling palace was quiet where an army of servants would have been going about their chores in days past. The remaining Teleri were subdued in their mood. No tricks or pranks had been pulled on Mornel this time. More disturbing was the Valar’s silence.  

The stillness perturbed everyone as they rowed back to Alqualonde, the ancient elf they came to the island to retrieve weeping and cursing them for rousting him from his home. It was tedious going but there was no wind to aid them. Perhaps Lord Manwe sought to slow the armada by becalming the winds.

“Don’t you worry, grandfather. You may stay in the palace and have a fine view of the sea,” the prince tried to reassure the elf. “The palace is up on a hill…”

“They will burn down my beautiful house! Just like those Noldor burned Swan Haven!”

“Then we will rebuild, better than before!” Earlindo declared. Raumeldo grinned. The fisherman’s hovel was a crude pile of old driftwood in the dunes topped by a sagging roof. It would be an easy thing to improve on.

Arakano had volunteered to remain in Alqualonde with his messenger birds, all the better to act as a scout should the invaders advance inland. He was there to greet his cousin when they returned.

“Dinner’s seaweed salad and baked herring on rye bread, which we are running out of,” he announced.

“We still have laver bread, right?” Raumeldo asked hopefully, only for Arakano to shake his head. Mornel made a note to have some supplies sent out from Tirion. Without bakers, grocers, and such tradesmen in town, re-provisioning the palace guards was tricky. Arakano would probably make a check of the stores before drafting her a list.

“I shot a wild duck, but it wouldn’t go far,” Arakano added. A skein of plump swans lazily glided across the harbour. Arakano gave a mischievous grin, licked his lips, and raised his brow at the graceful birds. That earned him an elbow in the side from the Master of Ships and glares from the princes.

“Don’t even think of it,” both princes said as one.  

Even if they were starving, the Teleri would never consider swan for their cooking pots.  Mornel grinned and went to check on the crab pots they had set the night before. There was a small crayfish in one but that was all. Lady Uinen had not seen fit to bless them with a sumptuous seafood dinner, much to their disappointment. The fisherman and his nephews had a few meagre provisions with them, but none to add to the low stores of the palace. The nephews intended to travel inland to Tirion and would need provisions for the road ahead, having failed to join Tuor’s fleet in time for the long sail south as they originally planned. 

Everyone in the House of Finwe was pitching in where they could, supported by their Vanyar, Teleri, and Sindar allies. Mornel was concerned that Elwing insisted on remaining in her tower despite her family’s urging her to move away from the headland on which it was perched. The tower was highly defensible, Elwing assured her. There was no easy way anyone could approach it from the sea. Some of the old watch-towers along the Pelori had been pressed into service, manned by the best warriors from Lord Tulkas’ House.  

Prince Ingwion wrote requesting more tents as the refugees in Valmar exceeded the city’s capacity to house them. Some of the Teleri there were unused to being so far from the sea and had taken ill as a result, necessitating travel to Lorien. Those who could not travel were nursed by healers of the Eldar, including Prince Orodreth, who had earned his qualifications as an herbalist and healer.

Seashells were gathered from the coast and sent to Valmar and Lorien as the sound of the sea in these shells seemed to soothe the afflicted elves. This influx of seashells seemed to have sparked a craze among the Vanyar for all designs and things nautical. A trend the craftspeople of Tirion and Formenos were quick to catch on to.

Everyone’s waiting for something to happen, Mornel mused as she followed Earlindo into the bowels of the palace. In the cellars, she beheld the palantir that had sat in the Tower of Avallone for so long. It sat swaddled in dark cloth but still throbbing with faint power.

“Amme insisted we move it somewhere safe,” Earlindo explained. “Not even Raumeldo knows it is here. We have not spoken with the Lords of Andunie for quite a while now…”

“A wise decision,” Mornel concurred. Queen Falmiril was wise and far-sighted. Perhaps she foresaw the danger in the palantir’s use. They did not know if any of the other palantir gifted to the Numenoreans so long ago had been corrupted to Sauron’s use. Despite rummaging through their creator’s notes, they had found no sure way of deactivating the seeing-stones. Instead, the order was given out to shield any remaining stones and hide them away in places of safety, if not buried in the earth or sunk in deep water. The temptation to use them might prove too great if the invasion happened.


 

Second Age 3315, Formenos

Dear Sis

We found another proto-palantir behind a wine cask in the cellar. Doubt it works but we are sinking it into the lake in a leaden chest just to be sure. The Ambarussa are taking great care of the flock of messenger birds you had sent up with the seashells. We have written to Uncle Ara to request we include more of our followers from Beleriand in the watch along the pass to Tirion, but those stuffy Vanyar are having none of it. What actual fighting have they done? I doubt I can send them off south to Turgon’s place without causing a diplomatic incident (most of the Telerin navy headed that way, right?), so we sent them to the landward side of the northern Pelori instead to boost the watch there. Of course, I did not get a chance to wait for Uncle’s approval but I hope the casks of wine sent with the troops will smooth any ruffled feathers. The guards there are mostly Noldor, right?

I do wish our other brothers are here instead of in Mandos. Curufin’s a genius when it came to weaponry and Maedhros was a master strategist (if you overlook a certain disaster on the battlefield). Celegorm’s even better as a scout than the Ambarussa.

Caranthir

P.S. Have you heard anything from the Valar yet? There isn’t even a Maia in the woods here to ask, and we are normally tripping over Masters Olorin and Aiwendil. I am doing my needlework outside the dovecote lest Aiwendil drops by for a chat.


 

Second Age 3315, Tirion

Dear Caranthir

Thank you for almost causing an incident. There was a change in the guards assigned, had you waited for Uncle’s letter to reach you. The Noldor were re-assigned to the pass and the Vanyar who fought in the War to the outer Pelori. Which unfortunately left the inner Pelori to be guarded by Vanyar warriors fresh out of Tulkas’. I know it is a bad arrangement having only young, inexperienced elves there. At least the wine (and accompanying victuals of venison and cheese) worked like a charm and we seem to have won over the boys, though their parents might have a word or two to say about it. What do the Vanyar expect their warriors to live off up in the mountains? Lembas and wild ferns? Uncle Ara is rather pleased by how things worked and would like the more experienced Feanorion warriors to remain there to supervise things. 

I agree that both the silence of the Valar and the absence of the Maiar are troubling. Grandma Indis insists that we have not been abandoned and we should have faith. Grandfather Mahtan reminded us of how long it took for them to decide on a course of action during the Darkening. I suppose they might be holed up in the Ring of Doom, though I pray they reach a decision before Sauron makes his move. Seriously, does that rogue Maia think he can best the might of the Valar?

Mornel Feanoriel

 

Chapter Text

The Breaking of Arda

Second Age 3319, somewhere on the outer Pelori

The day had started off harmlessly enough. Weeks of waiting for invasion had turned into months. Some of the Eldar were hopeful that the Numenoreans were having second thoughts about defying the Ban. Mornel was not so sure. Away from the sea, the Teleri grew restless. Many petitioned their king to be allowed to return home. The warriors posted to guard the pass to Tirion and the slopes of the Pelori grew restless too. Troops were reassigned to keep them fresh. The patience of the cities hosting the refugees grew thinner by the day. Something had to give and it finally did.

“And Cousin Turgon was so mad, he ordered Tuor to take the entire Telerin navy and haul their ships off to the Southern Ice!” Celeglass reported. They were on an inspection tour of the defences to ensure they would be ready when the invasion came.

“So did he?” Mornel gasped.

“Nay, Ada was there to smooth things over,” the prince reported. “The navy could stay, but they had to haul their ships into the forests or find a bay nearby to anchor in so as to keep from cluttering up the inlet.”

“I am glad to hear your father is doing… Caranthir, what’s up?” Mornel glanced up as a flustered Caranthir came bounding into the room, his face redder than was the norm.

“Follow me,” her brother said curtly. Mornel and Celeglass followed him hastily through the warren of tunnels in this particular fort. Mornel had long learned that the Pelori watch-towers had no fixed plan but seemed to have been constructed by the whims of whichever Vanyar lordling was put in charge by Ingwe. Many were simply too unsound or frivolous to be of use, even in the First Age before they fell into disrepair. At least the fort they were now residing in had had its plans approved by Lord Aule. Rumour had it that Ingwion himself had designed and built this fort under an assumed name. The fort straddled the ridge of the Pelori, with its beacon tower located on the landward side of the mountains.  

It was always a start when turning a sharp corner, they suddenly found themselves in full sunlight. The lookout point was so well-hidden, it was all but invisible from below. Yet it offered unparalleled view of the sea, a sea over which the dark sails of a mighty armada was approaching fast.  

“Sir, what shall we do?” the young sentry who had raised the alarm fretted. He was barely into his hundredth year.

“Light the signal beacons, and send a message to Tirion,” Mornel responded. A pair of soldiers were quickly despatched to light the beacon fire.

Judging by their approach, the ships had no intention of stopping at Tol Eressea and they were too far north for a landing at Alqualonde. Perhaps they hoped to make a landing on the open and desolate beaches of Araman to assemble their forces before the push into Valinor? There were so many sails. Mornel’s heart sank. The few warriors at Alqualonde would never be able to hold them back. Perhaps those at the pass would fare better.

“Why doesn’t Lord Ulmo stop them?” Caranthir grumbled.

“Perhaps he couldn’t.” There had been no word from the Valar, or their Maiar.

“We can’t just let them land, can we?” Without waiting for his Feanorian cousins’ reply, Celeglass took off running, shouting to all the other warriors to follow him.

“Come back here, you fool!” Caranthir bellowed and raced after him. The prince’s enthusiasm was infectious and he was soon joined by a mob of the fort’s residents. Mornel trusted Caranthir had the clout to rein them in even as they clamoured to be let out onto the beach to face their foe.

“Don’t! You’ll jam the mechanism!” Caranthir roared. Mornel groaned as her fears were confirmed by an ominous creaking followed by a muffled crash. The vertical cart that provided them with a quick and safe descent down the steep outer Pelori had been acting up of late and they had yet to send for an engineer to take a look at it. She hurried to the hall where a dozen elves were staring down the empty shaft.

“Anyone hurt?” If anyone had been in that cart, there was little doubt they would now be exchanging greetings with Lord Namo.

“Thankfully no,” Caranthir glared at a shamefaced Celeglass. The only other way down to the beach was a circuitous trail that would take two hours even at a brisk march. Exposed against the bare cliffs, they would make a tempting target for any enemy archers. Mornel sighed. They were already badly outnumbered based on the number of ships she had counted from the lookout post.

“We go up. Perhaps we can roll some boulders down if they get close enough,” Mornel exchanged a glance with her brother. It was a faint chance.

She was calling a retreat to the beacon tower where a small pass led into the inner Pelori. If the signallers had done their work, the rest of the watch towers would be alerted to the danger by now. However, it was doubtful any of the other forts could engage the enemy before they reached Alqualonde. There was an ominously strong wind blowing in from the sea, which would wreak havoc for their archers.


 

Above their heads, Vingilot hung lower in the sky than was normal and too far west. No doubt Earendil was worried about the armada now making landfall. For the first time since Tuor, mortals had set foot upon Valinor. Mornel urged the stragglers onwards. She had a nagging feeling she had to get everyone up to the upper fort. There was no tell-tale smoke to signal that the beacons had been lit. No one had gone up to check the wood in a while, and she feared the wood might have gotten wet thanks to their complacency. Hurrying onwards, they lost sight of the armada as they crested the ridge.

In the upper fort tucked behind the rise of the ridge, they encountered the two warriors who had run on ahead to light the beacon fire. They were struggling to get the hopelessly wet wood alight.

Then it happened.

The ground beneath their feet tilted and there was an almighty roar. There were screams of fear and shock. Mornel almost stumbled into a chasm that had opened up before her and was only saved by Caranthir yanking her back from the abyss. Elves were tossed about and thrown onto the ground by the violence. It seemed forever before the shaking stopped. Strong arms were holding her tight.

“Moryo, you can let me go now…” Mornel mumbled into the front of her older brother’s tunic.

“An earth-shake… There has never been one so bad in Aman…” Caranthir muttered as he released his sister. All around them, their warriors were picking themselves off the ground. Most were shaken but otherwise unhurt. One elf had fallen over a log and twisted his ankle. Another two unfortunates were pinned down by a fallen tree.

“Is everyone alright?” Earendil’s voice called out. The Vingilot had broken from her routine and now hovered low over them. A rope ladder was dropped for Voronwe and another crew member to reach the warriors.

Caranthir flinched visibly at seeing the Silmaril so close in his still-shaken state, a painful reminder of the Oath that had marred his first life. He scurried off to help lift the tree off the injured elves. Fortunately, it was not a large tree but the ellyn might have a few broken bones from the impact.  


 

“What happened?” Mornel asked as she surveyed the damage from the deck of the Vingilot.

Caranthir had declined to board the ship when Earendil offered to lift their wounded off the Pelori. Some of the warriors accepted the offer, eager to avoid a long trek off the mountain. Others like Caranthir opted to make their way off the Pelori on foot. Celeglass was not one to let such an opportunity pass him by and was now trying his hand at steering the vessel under Earendil’s watchful eye.

“I don’t know. Maybe the Valar… The stars have shifted…” Earendil was also struggling to make sense of it. Something definitely felt different. Mornel turned to the two more seriously wounded elves laid out on the deck. The elf with the twisted ankle was tending to them and she set her mind at ease, knowing he was a trained medic. Earendil had judged it best they set a course for Alqualonde first, then Tirion.

“What happened to the armada?” It was Celeglass who first spotted the much-altered coastline as they crested the top of the ridge. The entire side of the mountain where the greater part of their fort once stood was gone. “Looks like half the Pelori dropped down on them!”

“You are right, young one,” Thorondor’s mighty voice boomed as he swooped by them. “Eru Illuvatar has judged them,” the messenger of Lord Manwe added. “Aman has been removed from the circles of Arda.”

“What does this all mean?” Mornel blurted in astonishment but Thorondor did not reply.

Instead, he reassured Earendil that his wife was quite safe, visiting her maternal grandparents on their farm when the earth-shake demolished her tower. He also assured Mornel that the other watchtowers along the Pelori had survived with few casualties. A mighty wave had caused some damage to Alqualonde but stopped short of the palace where the few remaining residents dwelled. The far south where the Teleri ships had sought shelter was untouched thanks to Lord Ulmo’s protection. The few mariners who had been caught out in open water and thus scattered were now being guided back to Aman by Great Eagles and Lord Ulmo’s Maiar.

Escorting them part of the way, the Great Eagle then flew off in the direction of Lord Manwe’s mountain. Earendil set his vessel down in the ruined harbour of Alqualonde to pick up any wounded who might need transportation to Tirion, among them was Cousin Arakano, who had tumbled down a flight of stairs in the palace and broken his arm thanks to the earth-shake.

What does Thorondor mean by Aman has been removed from the Circles of Arda? Hopefully the Valar would be more forthcoming in answering their questions this time.

Chapter Text

There was to be a great council for all the Eldar leaders hosted by the Valar in the Circle of Doom. Such a meeting was not lightly called. Mornel had to remind herself of that when her circlet weighed on her brow or the collar of her formal robes pinched. The three kings of the Vanyar, Noldor, and Teleri were in attendance, as were the lesser lords who governed the distant settlements on their behalf (and their entourages). Mornel was attending as Lady of Formenos but had foregone a large entourage, taking with her only Caranthir and his wife as her advisors. The presence of a Feanorion drew some consternation from the gaggle of Vanyar nobles attending to King Ingwe but there was little they could do about it.   

Mornel was glad to see that none of the chieftains of the Nandor and Avarin tribes had been omitted from the meeting. These clung close to Lord Orome’s Maiar for reassurance. Even the reclusive Elwing had deigned to make the journey as nominal Queen of the Sindar, with her husband at her side. The Vingilot was moored at the hill where the Trees once stood in their glory. It was quite a turnout and made even more impressive by the presence of all the Valar and a good many of their Maiar in physical form. To Mornel’s eyes, the Ring was little more than a circle of standing stones but it allowed room for everyone. Others alleged it was built differently but this was the realm of the Valar and none could be certain.

Most impressive of all were the regal forms of Lord Manwe and Lady Varda, whose thrones rose in the centre, overlooking all. Mornel had had few occasions to meet the King and Queen of the Valar previously. Mawe was clad in billowy robes of blue and white, bringing to mind the open skies and the winds of which he held sway. His wife was clad similarly in silver and deep blue, reminiscent of the night skies. It was Lord Manwe who addressed the assembly.

He explained that their Father had broken the world and sunk Numenor, reshaping Arda into a sphere and removing Aman in its entirety from it, so that no ship may across the sea to the Undying Lands. At this proclamation, an outcry arose. From across the Ring, Arafinwe seemed to stagger, his face pale.  

“What of my grandson Elrond who still remains in Endore?” Idril’s distressed voice rose above the clamour. “Will they who remain be doomed to fade until the Second Music?” 

“The Straight Road remains for the Eldar who will sail,” Lord Ulmo declared. “Do not fret!”

“The Power of the Eldar is fading… Soon Arda Marred will be falling under the dominion of Men,” Lord Namo added solemnly.

“What shall we do about that section of the Pelori, now that the Numenorean army is buried there?” Caranthir screwed up his courage to ask the Lord of Mandos. “Are they all past the Circles of Arda?”

Mornel stole a sideways glance at her brother, thankful he had dared to voice her concerns. There was always that niggling doubt that perhaps a few of the Numenoreans had survived and now lurked in the wilds of Araman. Caranthir was already renowned for his blunt manner, so such a question would not seem surprising from him.

“Leave them all in the Caves of the Forgotten, where they will await their part in the Dagor Dagorath,” an icy smile touched Namo’s lips as he addressed the assembly. “If you wish, you have leave to rebuild the towers there, even mine the earth for gems and mithril, but you will never intrude on their prison.”

A collective chill ran through the Ring at his words. This was a pointed reminder of the Valar’s, nay, the powers of their Father. The Halls of Mandos appeared endless within though it appeared as nothing more than a nondescript building of grey stone without. The living who visited the Halls of Vaire to view her tapestries could never find their dead kin, though many had tried. Once on a dare, a re-embodied Arakano had even tried counting the rooms and doors within, to locate the path to find his father in Mandos to no avail. He was certain there were more rooms inside than was physically possible.

Emboldened by Caranthir’s query, more questions were aired and answered by the Valar the best they could. Idril was reassured by Lord Ulmo that a few of Elros’ bloodline, still faithful to the Valar had managed to flee the Downfall of Numenor and made landfall in Middle-earth. Finrod was dismayed to learn that his nemesis Sauron had also survived and fled to Middle-earth.

 “The time of the Eldar is passing in Arda… as of this new Age, its matters no longer concern us,” Lady Vana yawned in her languid way when she was bored.

“They should!” Mornel could not help her outburst. “We still have kin on the Hither Shores. Eldar or Edain. We have seen what Sauron could do in Numenor. Will we allow him to corrupt the Peoples of Arda unchallenged?”

Her words were met by an initial murmur of rebuke from the Vanyar delegates, but it died down amidst quiet applause from Prince Ingwion in defiance of his father. The applause was echoed by Uncle Ara and his envoys, then Olwe’s small Teleri delegation. The Silvans and Nandor chieftains beat their ceremonial shields or thumped the earth with their staffs or spears in approval.

Lord Tulkas put forward an impassionate plea to march on Middle-earth to smite Sauron with the Valar’s might but his suggestion was overridden by the rest of his colleagues. They had sunk Beleriand in the First Age and learned from their mistakes since.

“Surely there is some other way we can aid them?” Mornel ventured. “Other than open war? Cousin Glorfindel was sent back with two Maiar…” Perhaps she could be sent back to Middle-earth herself.

“Very well, Serelanye Mornel Feanoriel. We will think upon your words,” Lord Manwe chuckled. With a sweep of his mantle, he transformed into the likeness of a Great Eagle. Spreading his wings, he soared above the open Ring of Doom and towards Taniquetil.

“Let it not be said that the Peaceweaver is naïve in the ways of the Shadow and war,” Lady Varda said solemnly as she transformed herself into a kestrel and followed her lord. The council was dismissed and the Valar took their leave singly or in pairs. Mornel could have sworn Lady Vana gave her a wink as she mounted Nahar behind her husband. With a spirited neigh, the mighty horse trotted out of the Ring, followed by many of the Sindar, Avari, and Nandor hunters who swore fealty to Lord Orome.

“Your place is here in Aman, child,” Lord Irmo murmured as he passed her on his way out of the Ring. “We will send no more Eldar back across the Sea.”

“What of my brother Makalaure? Will he be allowed to take the Straight Road and return?” Eonwe had stated that the Ban was lifted for the Exiles, but she feared her brothers’ actions in the theft of the Silmarils would weigh against him ever returning.

Lord Irmo did not reply. Taking his lady’s hand, both dispersed into a dream-like mist, shedding physical form for ease of travel to their Gardens. Mornel looked around her. The Valar and most of their Maiar were gone.

“Perhaps he will return by his own choice, or circumstances will force his return,” Olorin patted Mornel on the shoulder before following his master’s example and vanishing into thin air.

There was much work to be done. The earth-shake had caused sizeable damage to many cities of the Eldar. Much of Alqualonde had to be rebuilt, so too Avallone. The Teleri will need the expertise of the Noldor’s best builders. Even houses in Valmar had suffered broken windows or cracked walls.

Turgon was aghast when his Great Dome commemorating the brave deeds of his fellow lords with its stained glass windows was damaged. All the windows had shattered, which might not be a bad thing – Ecthelion had found the depiction of his demise in poor taste and added that the feeling was shared by many of his colleagues. Cousin Laurelosse quipped that her brother might take a hammer to the window depicting him being dragged to his demise by his hair, had he been present at its unveiling. Elenwe had volunteered to design the replacement windows, having taken up art as a hobby after her less than stellar culinary attempts.

Formenos had several outbuildings collapse but the main fortress escaped serious damage. There had been a fire when one of the workshops fell apart. A spring of hot sulphurous water was reported to have emerged from a hill near the settlement. Some enterprising elves had dug a pool and channelled the spring water into it, forming a soothing bath for ridding one’s aches and pains after a hard day of forge work.

New maps of the coasts and seas had to be made, now that the seas surrounding Aman no longer joined that of Middle-earth. Tuor had volunteered to lead the expedition and already reports were coming in on how the seas seemed to have expanded past where Numenor once stood. New islands were spotted. One vessel even braved the Southern Ice and found itself on the Outer Sea of Aman. Earendil’s vessel continued on its assigned task in the night sky, sailing among the stars. Whatever changes wrought in Arda did not alter the skies or the paths of Tilion and Arien.

“Mornel, Grandma Miriel is expecting us for tea!” Caranthir urged, snapping her out of her musings.

“Coming!” Mornel removed her circlet and hastened out of the Ring of Doom to join her family. They would spend the rest of the day discussing dyes and embroidery techniques. It was not a topic Mornel was well-versed in but she was still glad to have the company of her grandmother.