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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: November 17th, 2018, 2:28 am 
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Yestarë 1431 ~ Osgiliath Palace (Farien’s Apartments)


Movement at her door lifted Princess Farien’s attention to discover an uninvited, unexpected guest.

”You have a hide,” she declared as she rose from her chair and lifted her chin.

Lord Calimir, absent nearly half the year, barely inclined his head. Insouciant as ever.

”The blessings of the season upon you also, your Highness,” he returned, untroubled by her cool reception.

Farien arched a brow as the man strode forwards. He pulled out a chair and settled into it without pause or her leave. Gondor’s next queen had not forgotten the manner of Calimir’s departure from Osgiliath. Quite the contrary. Nor was he a foolish man, she well knew. His assurance troubled her, for there would be sound reason for such confidence.

The Crown Princess settled into her chair once again and nodded as a lady in waiting materialised at the door. Before long, a second tea setting was provided and Farien was studying Lord Calimir through the fragrant steam that rose from her cup.

The Master of Ships principal aide sipped at his own tea and observed, ”You really should consider bringing up the tea from the southern tribute lands. It is far superior.”

“And in doing so, line your master’s pockets just that little bit better,”
Farien replied.

Calimir nodded calmly, ”The vagaries of commerce know no master.”

She let that pass for Calimir had not planted himself in her private parlour to discuss the merits of importing tea from Harad. Her lady in waiting hovered and Farien dismissed her with a smooth brush of her fingers. The experienced courtier withdrew. She had the presence of mind to close the doors to Farien’s parlour.

”Say what it is you have come to say and be done with it. I’ve not the time for dancing about,” Farien declared.

Calimir’s smile, though small, was clearly discernible despite the tea cup of delicate china he held. ”You’ve had time enough to dance about when it comes to your eldest son’s betrothal.”

Farin’s smile was cold and mocking. ”You are several months too late. There will be no betrothal.”

“No,”
Calimir replied. “But that does not mean that the Master of Ships' position has changed in any real sense.” Farien’s brows lifted, sceptical and Calimir set his tea down. ”The hour grows nigh, Princess. If not this Winter, then by the next. Surely, you are aware that the Master of Ships makes his preparations.”

“Defrauding the treasury like a common brigand,”
Farien snapped, ”I am aware.”

Calimir eyes were as flat as stones. ”What fate do you imagine will meet your sons once the throne passes to Gondor’s rightful King?”

Farien well knew that Castimir would not suffer any of Valacar’s tainted scions to live under his rule. She could sense what Calimir was dangling before her nose. An alliance with Castimir could transform all but certain execution into something more palatable. But there was no reason for the Master of Ships to extend such an offer. As Calimir had already observed, his lord and master only had to wait for the throne to come with him.

Calimir continued. ”Lord Castimir accepts that it is in the realm’s interests to seek a smooth transition, insofar as is possible."

Farien's doubt sharpened and Calimir leaned forwards to impress something upon her. "A small, yet powerful, number of his supporters demand that the realm is spared unnecessary bloodshed, both now and into the future."

This, Farien knew, was new information. If Castimir's supporters were able to place an effective check on his grasp for power, then perhaps her hopes for her children were not entirely scuppered. Calimir, who knew Farien quite well, allowed this to sink in before he pressed on.

"To accomplish this, he seeks Edhellond’s scion.”

“Out of the question,”
Farien replied, well aware of Edhellond’s staunch opposition to just such a notion. ”They will never agree to it.”

“In advance, certainly not,”
Calimir nodded. ”However, Lady Alenna is a pragmatic woman to say the least. Edhellond could be yet swayed, if circumstances were tilted.”

Farien drummed her fingers. It took time for information to travel. In that time, Amarwen could be fetched to Pelargir and married off. There was little to stand in her way, when all was said and done. And once married off, what matter then Edhellond's objections? They would fall swiftly into line, she thought. Such a course would earn Edhellond’s enmity at least in the short term – such that it was. They were, when all was said and done, a commercial port with scant military prowess to speak of.

Still, if Castimir could take the throne then he could swat any understanding aside with relative impunity. Any possible clemency towards her children could evaporate. And there was another difficulty in the form of her youngest son. Aldamir would not lightly give his betrothed up. Not now.

”I will consider it,” Farien replied.

“I urge you not to tarry, your Highness. Deliver Edhellond’s scion if you wish to assure the lives of your children, indeed your own position, beyond the coming secession.”


Last edited by Elora Starsong on November 19th, 2018, 3:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: November 18th, 2018, 4:38 pm 
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It was with nervousness and haste that Almara returned to Amarwen. She brought the news of her and Rie-Zunic’s decision. Of course, Rie-Zunic would need profe prior to his coming in that all his actions would be turned a blind eye to, and that they would be unvexed by the crown. He also left specific details that he would not be re-joining the Gondorian military.

While Almara made her way back to the meeting with Amarwen, Rie-Zunic took the time to hide all evidence of his recent doings. He then took their few belongings, packed them secure, and headed out into the city. He would have seemed like a beggar to passerbys. He would wait, though. Not in their hiding, but in the open where least expected. Just in case it ended up being a trap.

As he waited he could see ships arriving, heading towards the docks of Osgiliath. They looked like guild ships. It took everything in him to mot sneak over by the docks to fish for information on what it was they were bringing in this time. Time wore on, however, and the pull of the sea called to him... or the pull of what the sea brought. He slowly meandered towards the waters, finding some of Gondor’s soldiers.

“What do the ships bring today?” He questioned, gazing out over the waters.

“Not sure,” one soldier said. “There was word of new guildsmen to be stationed but I don’t know if they have arrived so soon.”

Rie-Zunic nodded. It was something he would have to look into sometime down the road.

“Ah,” he gave a response, then sauntered off mumbling to himself.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: November 19th, 2018, 7:36 pm 
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When Almara found Amarwen again in the palace library, she discovered a flustered and frustrated woman who despite her determination had failed to get anywhere of note. She could not locate Aldamir. Though admittedly, she’d not mustered the necessary confidence to dare his chambers yet. The notion of facing any of his staff after the morning was enough to give her pause. Until faced with Almara, returned so swiftly.

”He agreed,” Almara blurted out, her astonishment mixing with her relief.

”Truly?” Amarwen replied, ushering Almara into a private alcove within the library.

Almara nodded rapidly. ”I can scarcely believe it myself. How have you fared?”

Amarwen grimaced. ”Not as well as I had hoped.” Almara’s face fell rapidly and she rushed to clarify. ”He has not rejected my petition.”

“What then?”
Almara returned, frowning.

Amarwen’s voice dropped to just below a whisper and she spoke so rapidly that it was difficult to make out what she had said. ”I have yet to locate him.”

Almara blinked at her, her brow furrowing deeply. ”Is he avoiding you?”

Amarwen could feel her cheeks heat. ”No,” she replied, almost defensive. Her eyes dropped to the ground and when she chanced looking through her lashes to where Almara stood, she knew that her friend had caught the oddness of her reply.

Almara stood with her weight on one foot, arms crossed. ”Where have you looked?”

”Almost everywhere!” Amarwen said too swiftly.

“Almost?” Amarwen swallowed at the question and Almara pushed out a sigh. ”If you’ve changed your mind, then just-“

“It isn’t that!”
Amarwen’s reply was emphatic. She set a hand on one of Almara’s shoulders and gently squeezed. ”I promise you. I have not changed my mind one jot.”

Her friend eyed her and tilted her head. ”Where have you yet to search?”

Amarwen’s hand dropped away. ”Only a few places now. Well...one really. His chambers.”

“We’ll go there now.”

“I can’t,”
Amarwen was aghast, though the reason for this was not known to Almara.

Almara tossed her head at the objection. ”Very well, if you insist we’ll send word to his chamberlain to request an interview.”

It was Aldamir’s chamberlain that Amarwen was ever so eager to avoid. For the term of her natural life, if at all possible. The humiliation she felt made her squirm uncomfortably.

”Whatever has gotten into you?” Almara exclaimed, exasperated. ”This was your idea!”

“I know,”
Amarwen replied, miserable. She rubbed at her face as she searched for the fortitude she would need. Her shoulders slumped with resignation. She turned away from Almara to set out but the other woman grasped her elbow to check her departure.

”It is you that avoids him, isn’t it?”

“No,”
Amarwen replied and then lowered her head. ”Perhaps a little.” She looked sideways to Almara. ”It is foolishness we've no time for.”

“What happened?”


Again Amarwen’s cheeks flushed. She didn’t know how to answer the question discreetly. Almara tightened her hand on Amarwen’s elbow and this pushed a sigh from her. She turned back to Almara, leaned in and whispered the unfortunate incident that had seen her dispatched through the halls earlier in the day.

”Illúvator only knows what they saw and heard. What they think of me. The doors open!” Amarwen muttered in closing, shaking her head from side to side. ”So careless...and so swiftly did the prince have me scurry back to my rooms.”

Tempting though it was to laugh, Almara discerned Amarwen’s anguish. ”Have you heard anything from him since?”

”Ashamed, I should think,”
Amarwen mumbled as she shook her head. ”I cannot let my pride get in my way now.”

“We will go together,”
Almara said and when Amarwen looked up, Almara nodded comfirmation. ”Rie has questions he wants answered before he agrees, as do I..and just let them try smirking at you!”

The prospect of returning diminished now that she did not face it alone. Comforted by that, the two women set off from the library arm in arm. On the way to Aldamir’s chambers, Almara asked.

”This morning aside, did you...enjoy Mettarë?”

Amarwen shyly smiled at the question. ”It was quite...unexpected. And wonderful. I only hope it does not prove to be another mistake.”

“Have faith,”
Almara counselled and Amarwen nodded. She really was trying to believe that this was different than before.

Upon locating the prince’s chambers, they found Aldamir in his study behind a closed door. Ensuring his privacy remained uninterrupted was his most trusted attendant – the chamberlain.

A man of advancing years who had seen most of those in service to the royal family, the chamberlain did not so much as quiver an eyelid at their arrival. He inclined his head smoothly as if he had never before encountered her.

”M’Lady, I regret to advise that his Highness is not to be disturbed.”

“I have no intention of disturbing the Prince,”
Amarwen replied.

”I must ask you to wait for a more convenient time.”

“You know all about those, do you not?”
Almara added, quietly but not so quietly that the intended target did not hear her.

The chamberlain ignored Almara altogether to address Amarwen. ”I am confident that the prince will send for you when he is ready.”

Send for her? Dispatch and dismiss her and then summon her back again? Amarwen’s spine stiffened instinctively. It would not do to get into an argument here and now but the urge to do so was powerful.

”My Lady is not the prince’s lapdog!” Almara countered, speaking just loud enough to penetrate the door the chamberlain stood before.

The man wore a pained expression as he regarded them and Amarwen came to a decision.

”No, no, the chamberlain is quite correct Almara. The prince is a very busy man. It is unseemly to presume he will drop his duties at a moment’s notice.”

She spoke primly and Almara’s eyes widened until she caught Amarwen’s undertone. The chamberlain, not in the least familiar with Amarwen in that sense, missed it entirely. He nodded and the two women turned away. They went precisely far enough to select chairs in the prince's parlour to settle into.

Amarwen was straightening the folds of her skirt still when the chamberlain inquired, ”May I ask the nature of m’Lady's intentions?”

Almara had found a book to thumb through. Its spine cracked as she opened it, for it was old. And likely valuable. Amarwen knew how Aldamir prized his books and the way in which the chamberlain looked upon Almara brought her a distinct, if petty, sense of satisfaction. Fetch her, indeed! Why, next the man would inform her that the prince would bring her to heel!

”We await his Highness’ pleasure.” Amarwen declared.

“He may be some time!” the chamberlain protested and Amarwen leaned back into the chair she had selected.

”You will find that I can be as patient as I can be troublesome, when the circumstances call for it.”

Almara chuckled wryly and the chamberlain drew himself up. “I must object!”

Amarwen set one of her prettiest smiles loose on the fellow. ”By all means,” she purred.

”You cannot lounge about in the prince’s parlour as you see fit!” the chamberlain’s voice had risen.

”These chairs are very comfortable. Made for lounging, I’d say. Why have them here if they’re not to be used?” Almara asked, lifting her eyes from the book she thumbed through to Amarwen’s.

”An excellent observation,” Amarwen noted and Almara inclined her head graciously.

”Why, thank you,” Almara returned, enjoying herself in the moment.

At this point it had become clear to the chamberlain that the two women were not moving. Short of calling the Royal Guard to have them ejected, he’d have to find some other means of getting them out of his thinning hair. Teeth grinding, the chamberlain slid through the door of Aldamir’s study to alert the prince to their presence.

Once left to their own devices in the parlour, Amarwen let out a pent up breath and slumped in her chair. Her bravado had leaked out of her and she plucked at the fine wool of her dress.

”Will it work?” Almara asked, any pretence of interest in the book she held abandoned for now.

Amarwen shook her head, unable to say one way or the other. If it didn’t, she’d find some other way. Perhaps the Prince of Dol Amroth might be a suitable alternative. As for what it might mean for herself, Amarwen pushed that firmly aside as best she could.

Either Aldamir would be furious at the interruption or pleased to see her. She dared not guess at which it would be.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: November 24th, 2018, 3:13 am 
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Aldamir had a very ong and detailed talk with the Counsel-Generals for Valacar and Eldacar and he discovered that most of the Rhovanions had been assigned to the further reaches of the realm. Despite Eldacar’s own connection with his Rhovanion Royal Guard, it was he who had given over on the the advice that it would be best for the realm. The assignment to posts outside the city would keep them as part of the defense of Gondor while giving the appearance that they were not a significant part of the Royal house in Osgiliath.

The orders were for the assignment of fifteen of the thirty-six Rhovanio royal Guards to the western fortress of Angrenost. The twins Vilna and Vidnavi were assigned of this contingent, and they marched off three days before Mettare. The other assignment had been given to fifteen Rhovanions to go to Minas Ithil.This effectively split the Royal Rhovanion Guard in two, leaving Helda with five of the men the only remaining contingent of Rhovanions in Osgiliath.

These decisions were all made without any consultation with, or a word sent to him or his brother about it. Aldamir was of the thought that his father had too easily forfeited their strength in an attempt to appease the Mariners, and he believes Ondoher would concur. With the Rhovanion Guard dispersed, it removed strength from the Royal House in Osgiliath when it was clearly a time when strength would be needed most.This was Aldamir’s assessment of the situation anyway.


Aldamir wasted no time going up to King Valacar’ residence, but he instead found Eldacar on the King’s balcony. Despite it being a chill day, he went outside to talk to him.

“Is it so wise father to have your Royal Guard dispersed around the realm?” Eldacar took a deep breath of the chill air and said, “It is to keep peace. There is much angst toward the Rhovanions in the realm, even in this city. You know that already.”

Aldamir walked a few steps in a circle before saying, “Yes, I know that. You know it as well as I that the MAriners will never accept a Rhovanion-blooded king! There are rogue elements in this city encouraging much of the violence against the Mariners Guild. Very little of it is coming from Rhovanions! This is not the time to weaken the Royal Guard!”

“What is this talk of weakening the Royal Guard?” A firm but weary voice said as King Valacar stepped out on the balcony. Eldacar bowed and said, “Father”while Aldamir bowed and said, “grandfather.” Valacar waved them off and said, ”I want to know that which you speak. Out with it!” The king wanted to know what was being discussed on the palace balcony. Aldamir said, ”Maybe you should ask your own counsel general grandfather.”

Aldamir knew his grandfather was having moments of forgetfulness, but he didn’t expect either his or his father’s Counsel-Generals ruling by proxy. When he looked to his father, he could see on his face that it had all been his idea. The dispersal of the Rhovanions, the payment to the Guild for the ships, the air of appeasement. Did Valacar know that Eldacar had already started making decisions of the realm as a surreptitious regent? If this became known, a full revolt would erupt in the southern provinces.

Valacar could see his grandson was agitated. He stepped over and embraced Aldamir and walked with him back in from the balcony. Eldacar followed and the doors to the balcony were closed.

"I need to speak with my grandson alone Valacar gave Eldacar a nod and Eldacar immediately left the King's chamber without a word. It was probably best to leave what needed to be said to the King.

[i]“I can see you are troubled. But know that I am still king. Anything your father does has my seal of approval. Of course, we can’t announce any of this publicly, but Eldacar has been… assisting me in matters of the realm. I think you can assist me too. As your brother has taken command of Minas Anor, you will take command of Minas Ithil. I myself have signed the orders. You will take your post the first day of Narvinyë”


So Grandfather had all but given over rule of the kingdom to his father! This was grave news indeed. It was only the name of Valacar that still held the fracturing kingdom together, and the stitches were rupturing. ”Minas Ithil? Am I allowed to bring my own people?” Aldamir said. Valacar nodded, but Aldamir knew he would have to press for it. "It is always good to speak with you grandfather., but I must go. He walked out of the King’s chamber thinking about how he would work to get some concessions out of his grandfather. And since it is his father using Valacar’s ring, Aldamir was confident Valacar's ring would find its way into his hand. He wold use it for the greater good of the realm before he had to go to Minas Ithil.

He knew that one thing that would not happen was he would not abandon Amarwen and leave her alone in this city. If she could not come to Minas Ithil with him, he would see she had safe passage to Edhellond. It would be a walk along a sword's edge in knowing who to trust. Alsamir knew he could depend on Amarwen’s discernment an a lot of this.

When he returned to his chambers, he walked into the parlour where he found both Lady Amarwen and Lady Almara. He paused and could tell there was more afoot on this new years day. [i]”Lady Amarwen, the best part of my day is seeing you. And a fair day to you as well Lady Almara. Come in, I believe there is much to discuss.”


He opened the door to his offices and waited until the two women came in. He then closed the door after looking around to see who was near.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: November 24th, 2018, 7:38 am 
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Aldamir’s arrival, and not from his office, begged an obvious question. His greeting, proper and courteous, made it difficult for Amarwen to discern the truth beyond his fair words. He was a serious man, she knew, but he seemed ever more so now. Trouble, she wondered, and if so what was its nature? She was all at sea and when she looked across to Almara was struck by how nervous the other woman appeared.

Never had she seen Almara so unsettled as this. Her self-possessed confidence appeared to have slipped and as she offered Aldamir the courtesies his rank required, Almara seemed rattled. Squirming. Amarwen, oblivious to the supposed connection between Almara and the prince, had no way to explain it. She turned to follow Aldamir and her puzzlement increased when Almara hung back. Her friend waved her on, gesture almost urgent. Frowning, Amarwen hurried after Aldamir into his study. Within the prince’s chamberlain blinked rapidly, caught neatly in a trap of his own making. The chamberlain’s eyes darting between the prince and herself.

”Is this the man you wish to speak to,” she inquired of the chamberlain.

”About what?” Aldamir inquired and then changed his mind. ”Whatever it is, it must wait.”

A veteran within the prince’s service, the Chamberlain’s wits swiftly caught up with him. He recovered to bow, murmured discreet acceptance of Aldamir’s wishes and scuttled from the study as if he were a startled crab. No sooner was he through the door did Aldamir seal it. He turned towards her and she saw that Aldamir had dropped his courtly façade. He was worried and, she thought, unsettled.

”Will you sit?” Aldamir swept a hand towards the hearth and a pair of richly upholstered chairs. Amarwen nodded, no intention of seating herself just yet. What she was here to ask of Aldamir was no small thing. For this, she felt she needed to keep her feet under her.

At her nod, Aldamir turned to settle into one of the chairs. He did so with a sigh that sounded, to her, to be weary. Amarwen followed to hover by the arm of the other chair.

”Your Highness,” Amarwen began, offering him a formal courtesy that saw her bend gracefully before him. When she straightened she saw Aldamir had lifted a brow. Her use of formalities had already telegraphed something to him. She drew a deep breath and set about laying out her proposal carefully.

To do so, she had to reveal something she had thus far refused to despite repeated questions from the prince over the month: the identities of her sources and her personal bone fides as to their integrity. As she named Almara and Rie-Zunic both, Aldamir's reaction was discernible to her even if she could not quite identify it. She closed with the recommendation that Almara be housed either on the grounds or nearby with whichever suitable pretext best served so as to secure communications between them.

Finally, when it was done, Aldamir sat in silence. He studied her, chin propped on the arm of his chair. Fire shifted over him and his gaze was penetrating. Amarwen bowed her head before it, searching for something else to say.

"We have reached a tipping point. Without your aegis, we remain as splinters in the Guild's foot - able to be plucked out one by one."

At the sound of movement, she looked up to find the prince on his feet. He approached her, eyes bright and glittering, to run his hand down her cheek in a gesture that was both tender and intimate.

”There are those," he said in a voice soft and thoughtful. "Who would declare such a course of action to be treason. What you propose is dangerous.”

"With your brother and father's support, the risk is somewhat diminished."

"My father's support,"
Aldamir echoed as he moved past her to pace. The floorboards creaked under his feet as he went to and fro.

"I learned today the true author of the King's appeasement policies for the Guild," Aldamir eventually said.

Her brows knitted for the King was responsible for that policy, was he not? She looked to the prince baffled and Aldamir shook his head as he reviewed the day. "My father acts as King in all but name. The consequences, should this be known, are dire. We are not ready for them."

"But it cannot be!"
Amarwen countered. 'Your father is as aware as any of that the Guild cannot be appeased. Not by him. Their teeth must be pulled!"

Aldamir stopped his pacing and turned to her, his jaw tight with tension. "There is more...My father has dispersed Osgiliath's Rhovanion forces."

So appalled was she that Amarwen could not help but drop her jaw. The one force we can rely upon to support their cause scattered whilst Guild coalesced under their noses. Eldacar was creating the space in which the Guild would amass. And once they had, they would strike. A tongue of ice licked at her spine. Was it war then? Had they come to that so soon?

"Is your brother aware of this?"

The prince rubbed a hand over his face and shook his head. "We'd have heard his howl from Minas Anor if he was. And," he sighed, "That is not the last of it either. I am to be sent from the city as well, to Minas Ithil."

Amarwen’s stomach sank like a stone. It was happening again. Abandoned in this cursed city twice over. She turned away as Aldamir continued. "Within the month, by order of my grandfather himself this time."

Again. It was happening again. Were they even now drawing up papers to dissolve the contract and dispatch her back to Edhellond?

”Amarwen,” Aldamir called and Amarwen found that her hand rested upon the doorhandle. ”I...I had hoped you would see fit to accompany me.”

Her hand dropped from the door and she turned about. ”You wish me to join you?”

Her question elicited a nod from Aldamir. ”My aegis, if granted, will come from Minas Ithil. Not insurmountable, I should think, but safe guards and suitable measures must be put into place.”

All she could do was nod and stare at the prince as she struggled to catch up. He wanted her with him, she marvelled. At his side. Aldamir slowly walked towards her. "Will you join me, my Lady? Minas Ithil, I must warn you, is a very different place to this. It is no city."

“Good,”
Amarwen declared emphatically and a relieved smile unfurled upon his face. This brought Amarwen to him and the prince folded her into him. They stood together for a span of quiet heartbeats and she listened to the reassuring rhythm of the prince's heart. It had never failed to soothe her.

He shifted against her and she looked up to find him peering down at her intently. She rose on her toes to kiss him, cupping a strong jaw covered by a carefully trimmed beard with one hand. Aldamir tucked loose tendrils of her hair behind her ears. ”Now, this ambitious proposal of yours my Lady. What would you have done with it?"

"It is all the more imperative to proceed,"
she replied and then, "Must we prepare for war outright, my Prince?"

Aldamir considered her and drew back from her with a sigh. ”Let us hear from your counsel, my Lady. Before we do so, how is it that Almara is connected to this Rie-Zunic?”

“They are wed, my Lord.”
Amarwen replied as she watched the prince don his courtly personna. Aldamir nodded once he was ready and she turned for the door.

In the parlour she found Almara waiting on her feet. She beckoned her friend to her.

”Has he agreed?” Almara inquired quietly as she neared.

Amarwen’s head bowed. ”He wishes to hear from you.”

She stepped aside to allow Almara into Aldamir’s study and closed the door after her.

”This proposal is daring, Lady Almara,” Aldamir declared, hands at his back. ”Some might even call it treason."

“What value a realm?”
Almara countered. "What price may be put on peace?"

Aldamir nodded to Amarwen. ”My lady has offered her bone fides for you and your husband both. She would not do so lightly. Still, I find myself wondering what you are willing to offer in return?”

“Loyalty. Honesty and dedication,”
Almara replied and Aldamir rolled his shoulders.

”All easily bought in this day and age.” The prince lifted his chin, his gaze piercing. ”You will have to do better than that if you wish to secure my protection and support.”

Aldamir reached into a pocket and withdrew something small. He unfurled the fingers of his hand to reveal a small ornament. Amarwen frowned at it and then at Almara as the other woman sucked down a breath.

”If I am to entrust you, then tell me how it is you came by this?” Aldamir asked.

”What is it?” Amarwen asked, drawing nearer to peer at it more closely.

”A hair pin of a most unique design,” Aldamir replied quietly. ”One of a set I had made for someone who vanished many years ago, without word or warning.” He held the pin out to Almara.

Amarwen frowned as she turned to Almara and there paused for colour had begun to leak from the other woman’s face. She had no notion of what this was about.

”Study it if it will refresh your memory and then you can inform us both who you really are,” Aldamir declared.

“It could be another ruse of the Guild...one of Lord Calimir’s design.” Almara sounded faintly frantic to Amarwen’s hearing and she did not understand why. It was just a hair pin, even if it was an exceedingly rare one. What did it mean, she wondered. Aldamir beckoned her to him and set a steadying hand in the small of her back.

”All the same,” Aldamir pressed Almara, ”I cannot protect anyone that I do not know and trust.”

As he spoke, Aldamir's hand stroked the small of Amarwen's back. It was as if he sought to soothe her. But for what? A hairpin? She swallowed uncertainly as Almara considered her options.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: November 28th, 2018, 3:49 pm 
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Almara weighed her options... though there was little weighing to do. It seemed if she wanted a chance at this new life, a safe life for her new family, she would have to be willing to tell Aldamir her secret. The very secret that Girdean wanted her to, that she had decided not to tell so the guild could not achieve their own ends with it. Whatever those ends might be.

"It..." Almara hesitated, then placed a hand on her stomach absentmindedly. "It was..." she tilted her head down, eyes gazing at her shoes as a single tear slid from her eye. "My mother's," she whispered so soft that it could scarcely be heard. "She left it with me be- before she died."

She dare not look up at the man. She feigned as though she knew not the rest of the story. She knew Aldamir would put the pieces together, however.

She dared to glance up at Amarwen before darting her eyes back down and trying to regain her composure.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: November 30th, 2018, 4:40 pm 
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"Your mother's?"

Aldamir and Amarwen spoke in unison though for very different reasons. Aldamir turned away, his hand closing around the hair pin. Amarwen remained where she was, struck by how forlorn Almara was. Her mother's hairpin was likely her only tangible memory of the woman, Amarwen guessed. Almara had spoken before of her time in the orphanges of Pelargir. After a moment's thought, she turned to Aldamir and murmured quietly into his ear.

"Surely, it can be returned to her. Please, my prince?"

Though Aldamir did not reply, his fingers uncurled to drop the pin into Amarwen's waiting palm. She whispered thanks before hurrying to where Almara stood. Amarwen pressed it into her hand and then embraced Almara tightly. Already she could feel Almara gathering her resolve.

Amarwen stepped back slightly and turned to face Aldamir from her side. Their shoulders brushed.

"I have no hesitation in vouching safe Almara. She has proven herself beyond question to be loyal and steadfast, aiding me over these past months. Sometimes at considerable peril and cost to herself."

Aldamir nodded, almost absently, but still did not turn back. A bubble of expectant silence expanded for several heartbeats. In that time Almara's hand found Amarwen's. How her finger's squeezed.

"By your leave, your Highness, might Almara repair to somewhere more comfortable?"

Not so much as a nod this time. Amarwen drew a breath and set her hand under Almara's elbow. Together the two women hurried from Aldamir's chambers and into the hall.

"What now?" Almara whispered as they pressed along.

Amarwen shook her head. She'd never seen the prince in such a state. "I am sure all will be well," she instead said as they came to her doors. "Stay here for as long as you like. Overnight. It is warm and comfortable and dinner will be along shortly. The prince may not decide tonight, or he may. Treat my rooms as your own. Use them as you see fit." She frowned, uncertain what else to add. "I remain confident, Almara."

Baffled but confident. Hardly reassuring, Amarwen thought, but Almara squeezed her forearm and slipped through the doors of Amarwen's chambers all the same. She lingered in the hall, debating whether to follow Almara or return. In the end, she opted to return to Aldamir.

She found the prince sitting in a chair. His elbows were on his knees and his head hung between his shoulders. Again Amarwen hesitated. Something weighty clearly preoccupied Aldamir and she was loathe to distract him. And Almara needed her. Or at least, she thought that she did. The prince's head lifted far enough that she could make out the gleam of his eyes.

There was something about the way he studied her before his head dropped again that drew her into his study once more. He shook his head slowly from side to side as she neared his chair.

"You returned," Aldamir said quietly. Solemn.

Amarwen's brow knitted. "Of course."

She sank to her knees beside the chair and tentatively placed a hand on Aldamir's arm. Another sigh issued from him at this and he shook his head to punctuate it. Slowly he turned his eyes from the floor to hers and studied her face.

Aldamir smoothed back a strand of her hair. "You were betrothed to me for your safety. And now, this. War...and Almara."

"A war we may yet fend off with people like Almara."

"Almara may well be my daughter."
He said it so quietly, so sadly, that Amarwen wondered whether she had heard correctly.

"Her mother?" she asked, hesitant and regretted it immediately when she caught Aldamir's reaction.

He very nearly flinched yet he answered all the same. "A chamber maid. My mother took particular exception but...without her I would have been claimed by my grief for my first wife. No sooner had I begun to emerge did she vanish. Had I known she was with child..."

Aldamir's voice trailed off and his gaze returned to the fire. All those years in orphanages, her own father unaware of her very existence. How much would have changed, Amarwen wondered, if Aldamir had known earlier and what happened to Almara's mother? A chamber maid - disposable to someone like Farien. A tongue of ice licked Amarwen's spine and she shivered at her dark ruminations.

"I dare not imagine what you must make of all this," Aldamir observed.

His statement cut through her thoughts and she found him gazing at her. She saw sorrow and resignation in his eyes.

Amarwen sank back onto her heels. "On the day we were betrothed, I was a broken woman. My heart scattered in tiny pieces to the four winds. I scarcely knew myself." She plucked at a fold in her woollen skirts and looked up to find Aldamir watching her. "Since that day, you have been kind and patient with me and I have found such purpose and hope. I am remade and whole and I will remain by your side for as long as you wish it."


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: December 4th, 2018, 10:13 am 
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Amarwen’s words were just what he needed to hear to lift the burden of this day. He didn’t have any words to say but he stepped over and wrapped his arms around her and kissed her cheek. He looked into her eyes and said,

”You will remain by my side m’lady. I have come to depend on you. If it is to be that you are not by my side, it will be because the realm has collapsed and the Mariners crown Castamir king. Then your only haven will be in Edhellond, or maybe far to the north. Come, sit with me.”


As they went to sit, everything seemed to come crashing through the wall all at once this day. The Rhovanion dispersal, a daughter of his indiscretions with a chambermaid appears, the crumbling rule of Valacar and by extension, his father Eldacar. He shook his head as it ached with a pounding of a drum.


”Lady Amarwen, rest assured that I will honour our bond for better or worse for us both. Because of that, I will not be willing to see you in harms way. Also, there needs to be a place for Almara here at the palace. As she is your counsel, can you see that she has all she needs. When she is ready, I will declare her to my father, for I am sure he does not know of her.”

He paused and rubbed his temples before he went on, ”Again, I know it is all so mixed up. This realm is all mixed up.”

He reached over to Amarwen. "There are tumultuous times coming for Gondor. Be discerning on who to trust. Now I ask you Lady Amarwen. Will you come to Minas Ithil with me, and will Amara come as well? I will need you both close. We will have to gather our strength there, for I fear we have lost Osgiliath already.”

He set his head in his hands as his elbows propped him up. He looked to her and asked, “If you were I, what would you do in my stead?


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: December 4th, 2018, 9:28 pm 
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Amarwen bowed her head in thought, a thousand disparate notions tumbling and rolling about in her mind. Yet turn them about as she did, she could find no alternative to what Aldamir had already stated. Hardly surprising, she mused, given he was born a Prince of the realm many years before she had come to her present position.

"You doubt yourself, my prince, but it is uncalled for in my view," she replied slowly, raising her head to regard Aldamir. "I will join you in Minas Ithil but I cannot answer for your daughter. Almara has a husband and a child to consider in all this. I will put your offer to Almara but it is she that must decide. As for informing your father, the sooner the better. It may well be that others are in possession of this knowledge. Their capacity to cause mischief will be removed if it comes from you first."

Amarwen did not give voice to her concerns at how the Court would respond. Aldamir could and likely would open acknowledge Almara as his child, but she thought this would not be enough to sway the Court to accept Almara was also his heir. There would be inevitable scandal, the usual rumours. But once it died down, then what? And, would publicly acknowledging Almara as his own impact on their covert work? A delicate, thorny matter, she thought and one best left for now.

Aldamir nodded slowly, his gaze on the hearth and the fire dancing within. Likely lost in memories of days long past, before she was even born. Though it was beneath her, Amarwen could help but feel a pinch of something akin to jealousy. Not one but two women, brought together with this prince for no other reason than love. What did she have by comparison aside from political expediency. Even in their most private moments, Aldamir was reserved with her. He did not speak to her as a lover might. Perhaps, she inwardly mused, he never would.

With the prince lost in thought, Amarwen set about taking her leave.

"It is late and you have been sorely pressed this day. Come the dawn, and some much needed rest, you may judge these matters differently. Should you be of the same mind come the morning, I suggest that we continue from Minas Ithil. Secure it and move boldly for without such action the Mariners will sweep over us at a moment of their choosing."

Little wonder, she thought to herself as she heard her own words. She spoke to him in precisely the same way Aldamir did. As allies. It cast the events of the previous evening in a new light. Transactional. The thought deflated her but she shook it off as best she could and studied the prince.

Had he heard her? Was her counsel poorly advised? She did not know and as the silence stretched, Amarwen rose to her feet.

"I will convey your offer to Almara."

Aldamir nodded absently. Distracted. Amarwen bowed her head at this dismissal and quietly took her leave. It was only a short distance to her rooms but Amarwen took her time. She needed to steady herself before she embarked upon her next task. Aldamir was a good man, even if he could not bring himself to love her. She had landed on his doorstep, uninvited, and he had been kind enough to make room for her. The need to lay suit had been dispensed with on the day of their betrothal. Their fates were set for a very clear, very political purpose and this she knew. Whether she loved him or he her was neither here nor there, she told herself firmly. Such concerns were childish, foolish and frivolous.

The fault, she decided, was her own. Again, Amarwen had allowed her heart to become entangled where it ought not have been. It was a bitter pill indeed. What, she wondered as she pushed through the doors of her chambers, would it take for her to learn this lesson. First Halvarin and now Aldamir. She sighed with grim exasperation at herself and looked about her parlour. It was empty but Almara could be sleeping in the bedroom.

"Almara," she called as she walked towards her darkened bedchamber. "Are you here still? The Prince has offered to take you to Minas Ithil with him. We could work from there, perhaps easier than here, if Rie was agreeable. Almara?"


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: December 8th, 2018, 11:03 pm 
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Almara sat up with a start, having sat against the wall near the fire. She had dozed off, sitting in the dark.

“Amarwen?” She called out as she heard her voice. “I am here.”

Almara struck a match and lit a lantern. She could see Amarwen was quite unsettled and she hoped no remnants of the tears she had shed were evident. The longing for her mother, the mixed emotions of the reality of Aldamir being her father, the worries of how Amarwen would react... it all weighed heavy on her mind. Of course her emotions had been slightly more open these past few months. She seemed to succumb to tears in moments she typically would stand stalwart.

“Almara,” Amarwen replied as she entered the room. “Aldamir has offered provisions.”

Almara listened as Amarwen explained the situation, nodding slowly. As Amarwen came to a finish, however, Almara spoke not of the decision to be made.

“Amarwen... I’m so sorry I didn’t tell you sooner.” Almara looked to her feet and sighed. “I didn’t even know until recently... and at that I only discovered this possibility through a foul scheme of the guild. They said this was my parentage and they wanted to exploit it to their own gain. I wasn’t even sure if the claim was legitimate!”


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: December 9th, 2018, 12:32 am 
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"It would seem that it is, dear Almara," Amarwen replied, folding her legs under her as she came to the floor beside Almara. "The Prince would not even now be considering acknowledging you if he harboured reservations."

The two women considered each other eye to eye. Each studied the other and then bowed their heads. Gently, Amarwen allowed her shoulder to brush against Almara's. A gesture of solidarity and friendship. Though she dared not utter it, she was again struck with sharp sympathy for Almara. The women sat, each staring at the nearby fire, in companionable solitude. Despite the fact that there were perfectly good chairs nearby, softly upholstered and far more forgiving that the floor they had taken to. Reluctant as she was to end this moment, Amarwen pressed out a sigh and considered Almara regretfully.

"Have you given any thought as to the Guild's aims in this?" she hesitantly inquired.

Almara nodded and set about laying out her notions regarding the Guild's intentions over her parentage. Destabilisation seemed to be the key theme, and so in that regard more of the same. Consolidating their stolen position. Again, nothing new. The betrothal to one of Castimir's son struck Amarwen as curious. What possible gain could that bring when the Guild was little more than the Master of Ship's long arm?

"I see," Amarwen nodded slowly, thinking as best she could. "Do you think they're hoping for...legitimacy through such a match? An alliance to support the transfer of the crown?"

"Possibly,"
Almara replied and then rubbed at her face. "I'm so tired, I can hardly think straight any more. And I must get back. It's late and Rie will have gotten himself in a fine state by now."

The doors to the bedchamber's balcony rattled at that opportunity. An icy wind held sway beyond them and likely worse still. Walking the city streets at dark in that weather, alone and with child? Amarwen was aghast.

"I cannot, in good conscience, send you back out there tonight. Stay, just for one night, where it is warm and dry. That bed, I assure you, can accommodate you as easily as it has I."

Almara shifted away from her with a toss of her head and pushed to her feet.

"I really must go," she insisted.

Amarwen followed her to stand and reached out a hand after her. "Almara."

"I'll be fine,"
Almara declared. "You needn't worry after me."

"Of course I worry after you. Especially now that you're-"

"I need to speak with Rie,"
Almara declared as she drew herself up. "Isn't that what you want? Answers?"

"I'll take your life and safety over answers, any day or night!"
Amarwen replied, but she could not sway Almara. She was determined to depart.

"I'm sorry, I must go."

"Almara!"
Amarwen's voice lifted in flight after her but it was too late.

Amarwen had little option but to watch Almara depart. She did so swiftly, pausing barely to shoot Amarwen a final look before she winkled through the door and was gone.

Amarwen stared at the space Almara had lingered in briefly. Her ears strained for the sound of her return in the hall beyond. Nothing. Would Almara return? Would she accept the prince's offer? Again the balcony doors rattled hard, jerking in their frames as the wind sucked at them. A chill prickled her flesh as she listened to it moan. Almara would soon be pushing her way through that.

She felt like weeping but she could not find the tears required even for that task. Useless. That's what she was today. A day of occupying the wrong place (Aldamir's bed) at the wrong time (morning) and saying all the wrong words (all day) whilst she was at it. It was a sharp moment of unrestrained self pity but even that wasn't enough to tip her over the edge. She perched on the edge of her bed. Slowly, she kicked off her shoes one by one and then flopped back to stare up at the canopy overhead. She'd spent quite some time studying this canopy, wide eyed and sleepless these past six months.

Six months of waiting. Hoping against hope that things really weren't as they seemed. The truth: that she had been contracted into marriage to strengthen the realm and failed at both. She was still held at arm's length by a wary prince who guarded his heart at least as well as she did her own and the realm crumbled around them.


Last edited by Elora Starsong on December 9th, 2018, 11:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: December 9th, 2018, 9:13 am 
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He ws sitting and rubbing his temples as his headache showed no sign of relenting. He thought for a time after Amarwen left, and he felt a pain in his heart. He was too caught up in the state of the realm and the news of Almara that he was neglecting Amarwen and his own feelings for her. He must seem a cold old man to her.

He thought about Amara and how he was to handle the situation, and he agreed with Amarwen’s advice. Not only was she his beautiful betrothed, she was his best advisor. He shook his head and got up. He left his chamber and went to Amarwen’s door. It hadn’t been too long since she left, so he hoped he would not disturb her. He did consider she may be with Almara. Aldamir had to consider that as well. He would go to Valacar first, then his father. His grandfather was so much more understanding about these things. He debated on going there first, but instead would go see Amarwen.

When he stepped out of his chamber, he signalled to the guard that he need not accompany him. ”I’m calling on Lady Amarwen.” The guard, a member of the Royal Palace garrison who has served Aldamir for many long years, nodded. He would watch an empty chamber and be sure to note anyone coming around.

Aldamir paused as he walked toward Amarwen’s chamber. The door had opened, so he remained in the shadows between torches. It was Almara leaving, seemingly in a hurry. He wanted to talk to her, but that would be another day. He had to address one thing at a time, and it was Amarwen who was foremost in his mind. He waited for a few moments until only silence could be heard before he stepped over to Amarwen’s door.

“Ami, are you there?” he said as he tapped on the door. When she opened it, likely expecting Almara’s return, Aldamir reached for her hand and brought it up to his lips. He said, “I have forgotten myself and you in all that has come to pass this day. I was cold and distant, and did not show my true feelings for you dear Amarwen.”

He took a deep breath seeing her, and though he still had his headache, he wanted to talk with Amarwen. He trusted her as his advisor, and his wife to be. He looked her in the eyes and said,

“Know that I sit and think that if times were different and we were betrothed, all would be well. But if the times be different, I don’t know if I would love you so, betrothal or no. It is these times that make us, and even if it were not to be that we were betrothed, I would try and find ways to pursue you, to be with you, and to have your counsel.” He held her hand and kept his eyes on hers. ”It brings me much joy to know you and to fall in love with you Ami. I hope I cam measure up to do the same for you.”\

Aldamir had made a few decisions this day. One was to show Amarwen his feelings for her. Another was to announce Almara tomorrow to his grandfather. A third was to stand with the realm and the Northmen, making Monas Ithil a stronghold for the realm. There would be no appeasement of the Mariners. they will undermine toe realm until one of their own sits on the throne... Castamiir of PelargirPelargir, the King's Master of Ships.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: Yesterday, 12:04 am 
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Lost for words, Amarwen could only return Aldamir's gaze. Had he said what she thought he had, or was this a new way her treacherous mind had found to deceive her? A dream, she thought. One summonsed to ease the sharper edges of her life in waking. And yet, the tenderness in the way he gazed down upon her. Dare she believe? She had been so wrong before.

Aldamir had caught her completely off guard. He cradled her hand in his, his eyes softly focused on her own. She could feel the prick tears and she sucked in a breath that trembled. What if she had misheard?

"Again," she whispered. "Please, my love, my prince, say it again."

He bent his head to bring his mouth to her ear, nuzzling briefly. Her breath caught in her throat. "I love thee, Amarwen of Edhellond."

Her hands closed against his chest and she pulled Aldamir through her doors in an inkling. Aldamir kicked her doors closed and the slam echoed down the hall to the guard watching outside his doors. The man nodded and settled in for a long night. It seemed to him that the prince would not soon return.

Further along, just at the end of the hall near Amarwen's rooms, one of Farien's few trusted ladies lingered as she weighed how to report what she had observed to her mistress.

Prince Aldamir's heartfelt declaration of love and the faint sounds that managed to find their way out to where Lady Merawyn stood, what was already difficult became an immeasurably so. The rumours were true. The betrothal consummated but not out of a sense of obligation or duty. Farien's hopes in that regard had been dashed. If Merawyn was not mistaken, this meant that they'd have to work against the very individual's Farien hoped to save. Her sons, Aldamir in particular, would be prove difficult to oppose.

The only way to do what was needed was to pry Amarwen of Edhellond from his arms. He'd not give her up easily nor willingly. Together, the pair were formidable. They'd have to be separated. Distanced in some way. It was all Merawyn could think of in the moment, but how it might be accomplished she did not know. She reflected on this as she glided away to report to her mistress.


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