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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: January 12th, 2020, 2:51 am 
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Pelagir – Early Winter

Calimir, chief advisor and Halvarin’s father, dismissed his latest visitor. The hour was late, but not so late that he could not inform the Master of Ships. Castimir’s most senior and trusted advisor, though, was in no particular hurry. He rose, joints popping, and went in search of a particular dossier. It was fat with all manner of papers already. Drawings that he hastily skipped over given the subject was someone he still thought of as a girl many years younger. Reports of her health records and the various examinations she had undergone during her time betrothed to a prince. Perfect health, no defects.

His recently dismissed guest had confirmed for him that the young woman now released from her betrothal some months ago now was not with child. An interesting outcome from the summer’s assassination attempt, in many ways, and yet it begat yet more questions. It was well established that the prince had taken her into his bed over a year ago. More than enough time to conceive. Given Aldamir had already sired one child out of wedlock, Calimir thought that care to avoid a repeat could explain it. His most recent guest speculated that the prince had tired of his young bride to be. The Master of Edhellond's Merchant’s Guild had described a proud, temperamental, wilful girl in wont of a firm hand. Wearisome, perhaps, for a prince many years her senior. Yet this was at odds with other reports that described Aldamir treatment of Amarwen as tender. That of a man smitten despite the circumstances that had foisted her upon him.

More likely by Calimir's estimation was the notion that circumstances had simply been against them. It took time and diligence to sire a child. Diligence Aldamir may have had. Time, however, was another thing entirely. Reports from Minas Ithil, where the couple had spent most of their time, indicated that Aldamir struggled with increasing committments and demands. Entire nights spent in his office whilst the woman he was to sire a child upon occupied an empty bed. A week could pass, apparently. And again, their age difference. Aldamir was a good deal older. Less vital, perhaps, than a younger man more of his intended’s age.

Halvarin's father was inclined to set aside suggestions that Edhellond’s heir was barren. Tidings that she remained uncorrupted served his purposes well. If she’d grown fat with that half-breed’s child, then the Master of Ships would have little use for her. Calimir added a few notations to his dossier. Untainted though she may still be, Amarwen of Edhellond would require significant correction if she was to serve the purpose in mind for her.

A more willing bride would be ideal, but there were so few marriageable women of suitable lineage within Gondor. If the Master of Ships was to assure his line, he would require a legitimate grandson within the year of rising to the throne. Both his sons had proven themselves potent. Once they’d broken her of her wilful inclinations, a task not beyond them by any measure, Castimir would have his grandson within a year. And if she survived the delivery, perhaps he’d have another within the next two.

He turned next to the letter that had sat on his desk for weeks now. More than once he had read Farien’s desperate note. The Queen had every reason to be fearful. Two years she had squandered and now it was simply too late. Much had shifted in the wake of the Palace’s decision to end the betrothal. Any arrangement the Queen might seek to reach no longer served them any advantage.

Quote:
Farien,

I do so enjoy receiving your letters. I fear you may not enjoy my reply.

You had two years to deliver Amarwen of Edhellond to us and you failed.

We would rather see Edhellond continue to prosper and trade undisrupted. Whether we will bend them to our will or break them, Amarwen is no longer yours to deliver but our to take.

And so, dear Queen, I urge you to enjoy what remains to you. For there will be no agreement concerning yourself, nor your tainted offspring.

Namarië

C


Last edited by Elora Starsong on January 26th, 2020, 9:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: January 25th, 2020, 11:11 pm 
Dunedain Ranger of Arnor
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Aldamir has spent a lot of time brooding over the events that led to the breaking of the betrothal after Amarwen left for Edhellond. He felt that even though the betrothal was arranged, he found that his love for her had grown, so when the betrothal was ended, he could feel the hurt inside. What was worse was seeing the hurt on Amarwen’s face. The parting was painful for them both.

In the moths afterward, Aldamir worked on preparations of defences and mapping probable defensive lines should open warfare break out. The trouble he determined would be trying to determine how strong their forces are when it wasn’t exactly clear who exactly could be counted on for support. Aldamir threw himself into tending to his father’s business and spending as much time as he could in Minas Ithil. He tried to put Amarwen as far out of his mind as he could…. But he would read her letter at times, usually late at night when he couldn’t sleep… He finally picked up his quill and started to write a letter back…

Quote:
My Lady Amarwen of Edhellond,

It is way past due that I write back to you, as it had been some time since I received your letter. When my brother said he had received a letter from you and asked if I had corresponded with you did I realise I was trying to hide from the fact of the circumstances that separated us. As much as I wished events would have been different and would have been able to call you wife, know that I had no part in the decision of my father. Yes, it has taken me some time to get past the hurt, but mostly I feared the hurt it caused you. Know that though these paths that we had to take were not of our choosing, but ones we were forced to take, I will likely ponder that which could have been. There will always be a part of me that holds to you and know that forever will I consider you as a close friend.

My brother tells me that you have decided to take a strong role in Edhellond and you have grave concerns and have made plans for the defence of the city. I wish I could say that my father would defend in force any incursion that may be made against Edhellond but our assessment of strength that can be reliably depended upon in the southern provinces would severely affect the King’s ability to intervene. The highlanders of Ringlo are steadfastly loyal to the King as is the vast but sparsely populated western province of Calenardhon. Most of the King’s strength rests with Anorien and Ithilien, but there too there is division. The sly words of Castamir seems to have their believers most everywhere which could fracture units along political lines. Yet your words do bring some hope as it is clear there remains division within the Mariners Guild as well. It is good to hear of Halvarin though I know his father is known to be, if not yet, an open supporter of Castamir.

Alas, the dark clouds gather on the horizon and already blow over Gondor with Umbar and Pelargir already openly rebelling against the King. There has been reports of incidents in south Ithilien with men of South Gondor and Umbar, and Though Castamir has yet to signal his intentions, I fear that it is only a matter of time. He is a sly manipulator, and with these incidents and the attacks that happened in Osgiliath, he has moved to be more aggressive to appeal to the more radical Numenorean purists. I fear open war is coming, and sooner than looked for, and we are woefully unprepared.

I fear for you and Edhellond, but I do not think Castamir would move with force to seize Edhellond. Be wary of other means Amarwen… of covert infiltration and men within the army choosing to support Castamir. I fear also the integrity of Gondor Post. It is why I send this to you with utmost speed by my personal courier. Be well my lady, and may hope in a new spring for Gondor come without war, and hasten the day when we meet again.


Aldamir set his quill down and read the letter before sealing it in a sturdy envelope and summoning his courier. When he arrived at Aldamir’s door, he was let in and Aldamir held up the parchment. ”Galreth, this is for Lady Amarwen of Edhellond and no other. Ride with haste forthwith and take the roads less travelled. When you arrive in Edhellond, remain to serve Lady Amarwen and follow her orders as if they were mine.” Aldamir went to his desk and quickly penned a note…
Quote:
Lady Amarwen, this messenger Galreth has been a loyal servant of mine for years uncounted. He was not in Osgiliath or Minas Ithil the years you were here as he held a field command in southern Ithilien. Know that I have given him orders to serve you and to so your bidding, even if that has you send him right back to me. May he serve you well.


He rolled it and tied it to the envelope and handed it to Galreth. ”Go now and prepare for your journey.”
“Yes m’lord. I will depart Minas Ithil before first light.”
Galreth said as he took the sealed envelope from Aldamir and took his leave.


This night would not offer any rest though, for shortly thereafter a messenger came from his brother in Minas Anor. Pounding on Aldamir’s door until it was opened, the messenger stepped in and said, “M’lord, news came that Commander Elgord of Lossarnach has been assassinated. Fears the army of Lossarnach will soon fall into open conflict between the King’s loyalists of Elgord and seditious elements that wish Castamir be throned.” Aldamir took a breath and nodded… so it begins…

The messenger went on to say, “Prince Ornendil has ordered a review of any commanders in the Anorien Army who have expressed views critical of the northmen or appraising the Ships Guild. They will be reminded of their oath to Gondor and its rightful king. He suggests you do the same here in Ithilien.”

Aldamir nodded and had already taken steps with a couple suspect commanders. They were sent to command in the north and east where they had to work with the Rhovanions and confront the Easterlings should theytry and make a move. It was for all intents and purposes a form of exile. But Aldamir was fortunate as most of Ithilien’s army … at least the commanders…remained steadfastly loyal to the King.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: January 26th, 2020, 2:09 am 
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Edhellond – Mid Winter 1432


Amarwen sat in her family’s library and watched the rain sheet down through the large windows that lined one wall. Within it was cosy and warm. A stark contrast to the sodden winter without. Mettarë, fast approaching, was one of her most favourite times of the year but this one would be strange. Her father had already sent word that he would remain in Osgiliath despite the court moving now into recess for the season. He said too many nobles had fled this year to their homes instead of staying on. The glittering banquet hall of the palace would see too few revellers.

The pomp of Osgiliath was a far cry when compared to Edhellond. There would be no velvet gowns, bejewelled diadems or princes to grandly sweep her about the great halls of a palace. There were no courtiers ever watching and gossiping here. She could wander into the cellars for a bottle of wine if she wished and no one would think twice of it. Still, though she was content to mark the season in her home, her father’s absence was not the only change.

Prior to her betrothal, Halvarin and his father had seen out each year at Edhellond. Amarwen did not particularly care overmuch for Lord Calimir. He could stay in Pelargir for as long as he wished, with her blessing. Halvarin, though, she keenly missed. It felt strange to be at home without him at this time of year. Yet, if he had gained Pelargir by now he would have to remain there for a time. Amarwen chaffed at this. Patience and discretion her father counselled. How much longer would they have to wait?

”There you are!”

She turned her attention from the rainy day to the library door and found their chamberlain approaching.

”Your mother asks for you to attend her at once, my Lady.”

Puzzled, Amarwen threw back the blanket that lay over her lap to stand. ”What now?”

”A man has arrived for you,” the chamberlain paused. ”He claims to be sent by Prince Aldamir.”

Amarwen fell into step after the chamberlain and followed him from the library. ”Does he have a name?”

“None that I am aware of.”


Amarwen arrived at her mother’s study perplexed. Within, a man she did not recognise straightened his spine at her appearance. He lowered his head respectfully and endured her scrutiny without complaint. Baffled, Amarwen looked next to where her mother sat. Lady Alenna was at her desk, hands clasped upon its polished surface. She arched her dark brows at her daughter.

”This man says he is at your service,” the Lady of Edhellond said by way of beginning. ”He has a message for you and you alone.”

Amarwen’s astonishment was evident. Her mouth dropped open for a moment and then she looked back to where the man in question. He was travel stained. A long journey at a difficult time of year. She suspected the straight line of his shoulders belied his weariness.

”My lady,” he said quietly, eyes lowered. ”I am here at Prince Aldamir’s behest. If I may,” the man continued and slowly reached into his sodden cloak to draw out a tightly folded wad of paper.

”I hope this will suffice?” He extended the square of paper towards her.

Lady Alenna clucked her tongue in disapproval as Amarwen edged cautiously closer. The man remained utterly still, surrendering the note to her possession and then lowering his outstretched arm. He was quite tall, she noticed. Whip lean too. A dangerous man if he wished to be. She edged away, out of reach, and unfolded the note. Reading it swiftly, Amarwen transferred it to her mother and canted her head to one side to study the man anew.

”Galreth,” she said and his eyes flicked up to hold her own. Steady. Calm. He nodded at his name. ”You must be cold and weary,” she said. He paused and then nodded again. ”Then please, take your rest, with our gratitude.”

Galreth’s gaze slipped from Amarwen to her mother. Well aware of her mother’s disposition, Amarwen waited for his attention to return to hers.

”If you are certain, my Lady?”

“Oh I am,”
Amarwen replied. The man inclined his head gratefully. He reached under his cloak a second time and withdrew a package sealed with red wax. Aldamir’s hand was upon it. His duty completed, Galreth promptly took his leave.

The door had barely closed before her mother voiced her objections. ”We have no assurance that man is who he claims to be. He could be anyone! He could have waylaid this Galreth and supplanted him!”

“And that is why we will keep him here until we know one way or the other,”
Amarwen answered and arched a brow of her own. ”I know how you watch our guests, Amme.”

“I do no such thing of the sort!”


Amarwen lifted her eyes to the ceiling at that. ”Mother, you forget who writes the agreements and contracts you negotiate. I know the concessions you obtain.”

“Outrageous!”

“True all the same,”
Amarwen replied, undaunted by her mother’s protest.

The Lady of Edhellond sighed as she considered her only child and heir. ”Increasingly, I find myself regretting the decision to send you to court, child.”

Amarwen smiled sweetly at her mother and made for her own quarters to read Aldamir’s letter in privacy. His words made her heart ache in more ways than one. His anguish and remorse were palpable and there was little she could do or say to ease it. His assessment of Gondor's state was dire. They were on their own. She supposed she had known Eldacar would be reluctant to weaken his northern strength around key installations such as Minas Anor and Osgiliath. Nor could he risk precipitating war by moving troops in any number around. If the Guild did not pick them off on their way through Pelargir and sap the King’s strength, they would point to the movement as an escalation in hostilities.

Essentially, Aldamir confirmed that the King was all but a hostage now. Fenced into the north of his realm whilst the southern provinces rebelled. She wondered who he feared might seek to infiltrate them and when it came to Galreth she was uncertain what to do with him. The Prince had sent him to her for a reason for Aldamir was a man who did not act on impulse. It seemed that he hoped she would find some other purpose beyond sending the man back to him. A protector, she wondered?

Tucking the letter into her bodice, Amarwen padded downstairs to their guest quarters. She knocked on the door that she knew Aldamir’s man to be behind and waited. The door opened to reveal Galreth in his shirt sleeves, a towel thrown around his shoulders. The hair around his face was damp and he surveyed her with some weariness.

”I apologise for the intrusion,” Amarwen began as the man raked fingers through his hair and straightened.

”I am at your service, m’Lady,” he replied.

”I have but a question.” Galreth nodded and so she asked him, ”Have you any experience with birds?”

He blinked, clearly anticipating a different inquiry. ”Falconry is a sport I leave to my betters, my Lady.”

Amarwen shook her head impatiently for she needed no further instruction in falconry. ”Messages, Galreth!”

He nodded his understanding. “We used ravens in South Ithilien. They are cunning, difficult to train at times, but the best.”

“We have hawks. Will they suffice?”
Galreth shook his head at the question and so Amarwen sighed. ”Then the best we have at hand are pigeons, I fear.”

Galreth lifted a shoulder under his towel in half a shrug. ”Ravens are better.”

Amarwen nodded at this thoughtfully and hastened from his door without further explanation. Galreth peered after her for a long moment and then withdrew back into his assigned rooms.

Up in her room at Amarwen’s own desk, she wrote to Aldamir.

Quote:
My Prince,

I bear you no ill will. We are caught in a web far bigger than our own wishes. It seems to me that we should be grateful for what we had. So many in similar straits are not so fortunate as we were. And though this is not what we wished for, we have a friendship that would otherwise never have come to pass.

I thank you for sending Galreth to me. It is kind of you to do so when you are beset by so much strife. I will keep him as close to hand as circumstances permit. As caution will be required in our future correspondence, I intend to send him to fetch suitably trained ravens for we have no such here at Edhellond.

My father remains in Osgiliath. He may be relied upon, my Prince, to serve loyally and honestly. We will continue our vigilance.

May the coming season of renewal bring you hope, my Prince, and some measure of healing and peace.

Joyous Yestarë to you.

Ami.

P.S – I have it on solid authority that Pelagir and Umbar conspire to restrict supply to the northern provinces. To us the Guild extends a more temperate hand. It would impolitic for them to do otherwise, given their connection to the assassination attempt. They allow our ships to pass unhindered and that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. The Anduin must be held, my Prince, lest Castimir starve the northern provinces out. The civil unrest in the southern provinces must be contained lest it spread.


Ultimately, Amarwen's letter went with Galreth within a week.


Last edited by Elora Starsong on January 26th, 2020, 10:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: January 26th, 2020, 6:13 am 
Dunedain Ranger of Arnor
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Halvarin’s voyage was fraught with delays from the time they arrived in Lond Dear. They spent longer than anticipated getting the timber downriver, and once they had arrived back in Lond Dear, the logistics of making a flotilla of the logs that would withstand a coastal voyage took much longer than anticipated as well.

“Ye be long in returning young Halvarin. Dorian said when they returned. Silas quickly went to confer with Cailanore at the tavern. ”Aye, we’re well behind schedule. Now I don’t mind a port of call but I can surely say this one wore out what allure it had a month or more ago. You have put us into the storm season, so getting the timber south will be hazardous in the best conditions.”

“Yes, I know.”
Cailanore said as he sipped his ale. "And I have some things I will need to attend to here so I won’t be going back to Pelargir with you. I’ll trust Therald will keep my pay in trust for when I do return.” he said as he drained his tankard. “Oh yes, Silas, I won’t be charging him the extra. See to it you get these logs back.”

“Aye we will. And we’ll be off tomorrow.”
Silas said as he got up, leaving half his Lond Dear Draught behind. He stood up and called out. ”Drink up men and get back to the ship. We have an early day tomorrow!” There was little grumbling except from those who had gone upriver. They weren’t sick of the local brew yet.

The next day they set out and secured their flotilla of timber and made their way out and down the coast, hoping they would not get dashed into shore or have to cut their precious cargo free in high seas.


The ship made slow progress with contrary weather and little wind and a lot of fog. When they rounded the cape of Anfalas, it was just in time as a severe gale came up and pummelled the western shore. Had they left a day later they would have surely been caught out in the middle of it. As it turned out, they managed to ride out the southern edge of the storm without losing their load. They only suffered damages to the main sail and mast which made their progress from there even slower.

It was the eve of Mettarë when Captain Silas said ”Junior navigator Halvarin. What is your report?” He looked over at Darion who took a big breath as he wrote. He was leaving it in Halvarin’s able hands. Halvarin checked his charts then stepped out of the bridgehouse to check his star chart. The skies were clear, and a chill breeze was building from the north. ”Contrary winds once again.” He said to himself. There was the smell of ice in the breeze and he looked around some more and noted the clouds to the north and the intermittent illumination of lightning. He took a deep breath and went back in the bridgehouse.

Sir.. he said, his face strained. ”we are now passing the shoals of Anfalas as we make our way east across the mouth of the Bay of Befalas. Winds are northerly and rising, and I think that storm we missed is turning south driven anew by hard icy winds from the far north. The high mountains of will buffer a lot of it but I fear with our crippled sales we could be damaged even more.” Darion nodded his head silently but it didn’t go unnoticed by Silas. After a moment Silas gave Halvarin a nod. ”Very well lad. We will steer north and make for Edhellond to ride out this storm and make some repairs. Set a new course then Take watch.”

Halvarin nodded and went to give new coordinates and the sails they had were turned to try and make way into the bay. It was nightfall of Mettarë by the time they limped int the port of Edhellond.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: January 26th, 2020, 9:42 pm 
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Edhellond – Yestarë 1433


Amarwen paused in the early morning hours, roused from any hope of a quiet start to the first day of the year dashed. She peered at the reason they were scurrying about so early on Yestarë. A ship had put in, under a Guild flag, very late on Mettarë. The precarious lean of its main mast was clearly evident despite the dim morning light. Edhellond prided itself on its reputation as a safe harbour. Not once had it lost a ship. If it lost one now, and a Guild vessel at that, their trade relations with the Guild would be strained. That would bode poorly for those north of Pelargir. If the Guild elected to extend their embargo to Edhellond ships, they’d not be able to continue to supply Harlond, Minas Anor and anywhere further north up the Anduin.

Given the lean of the mast Amarwen studied, she deduced it would have to come out entirely. Cracked, if she was not mistaken, or in very real danger of becoming so. That meant dry docks. Would not do for the ship to founder and the vessel looked as though it had sustained a battering. It sat heavily in the water too. The crunch of the harbour master’s boots on the frosted ground drew her attention to his approach.

”Assemble a team,” Amarwen said and the man nodded brusquely.

”Done and done, m’Lady. They’re aboard now.” The harbour master turned to look briefly to his office. ”The Captain awaits you to discuss arrangements.”

“His name?”
Amarwen asked.

”Silas.”

Amarwen studied the ship anew. Somewhere on that vessel was Halvarin. Six months and now he was here again. She’d have to be careful, though. Discrete, as her father advised. Nodding, she took her leave from the harbour master and made for his office. It was a modest building of wood that occupied a position that offered a clear and unimpeded view of their harbour and the stretch of water past the headlands beyond it. As she walked, wet snow began to fall. It was sticky stuff that would not last long. Amarwen hunched her shoulders, grateful that she’d thought to bring her gloves and scarf with her when setting out.

It was a relief to make the harbour master’s office. It was here he and his clerk dealt with the operations of a busy mercantile port. It was a simple structure, divided into two rooms. The first was the domain of the clerk. It held a desk that was neatly ordered. One wall was lined with wooden shelves, precisely divided and each one labelled for what was to be placed where. Amarwen had learned not to tamper with their clerk’s methods for organising his reports, forms and records. Her father had expressly warned her against it before setting out, well aware she had several ideas of her own as to how they could consolidate if not eradicate the endless shuffling of paper.

It was this room she slipped into first, for the harbour master’s office sat behind it at the rear of the building. Her efforts to keep the chill of the morning out were hampered when her scarf caught on the door frame. Frustrated, Amarwen hissed an Elvish curse as she pulled it free and firmly closed the door.

It was relatively warmer within despite the draught that arrived with her thanks to a small brazier. Amarwen pulled the scarf off as she turned around and it was then she saw one of the chairs was occupied. Master Navigator Darion rose to his feet and nodded to her.

”Is that you, Therald?” Silas asked as he pulled open the door to the harbour master’s office.

”Not quite,” Darion remarked, folding his arms over his chest.

Captain Silas considered Amarwen for a moment. ”I’m late enough as it is. All I need is some sail cloth and rope and we’ll be on our way.”

Amarwen lifted a brow at that. ”You do not need to be a shipwright to see that mast of yours is cracked, Captain. It will have to come out.”

“If it were cracked, I’d know it,”
Silas declared, suspicious that the young heir to Edhellond was contriving reasons to delay them, or more specifically a certain junior navigator, in port. ”Where’s your father?”

“My father is in Osgiliath and I am his proxy. Further, the Harbour Master is agreed with me. Your ship sits too low in the water with its current cargo. It’ll have to come out. Once that’s done, dry docks until such time as the repairs are made.”

”That will take weeks,”
Silas objected.

Amarwen nodded. ”Of course, if you wished, we could transfer the cargo to an alternate ship whilst we repair your own. By the time you returned from Pelargir, the repairs would mostly be done.”

Silas weighed this up, reluctant to leave his beloved ship. He looked to where Darion stood. The Master Navigator scratched at his jaw. ”I could remain to keep an eye on work, Silas.”

The Captain grunted at this, well aware that if Darion remained then so too would his student. He turned back to find Amarwen of Edhellond patiently waiting for a reply. Her expression was smooth, professional. Determined. If she was her father’s proxy, she could technically detain his ship.

”What’s it to be, Captain: stay or go?” she asked.

”If a new ship can be provisioned and the cargo transferred, I will be on my way on the morrow.”

Amarwen nodded her agreement. ”Done and done, Captain.”

She waited until the two men had taken their leave of the harbour master’s office before she let the excitement bubbling within her free. A faint whoop was all Silas and Darion heard.

”Your ship will not be the only thing I keep an eye on,” Darion remarked. ”I’ve no intention of wasting the time and effort I have invested in the lad.”

“I do not think he intends to squander it. Halvarin’s proven himself diligent and sensible. He’s worked hard, Darion, without any of the typical mooning about you might expect to find.”

“At sea, yes. At port and idle?”
The Master Navigator shook his head slowly. ”I’ll do my best to keep the boy busy...”

“And I’ll do my best to return within the fortnight,”
Silas replied.

By the time they gained their wounded ship, work was already underway to unload the timber in its hull. Fortunately for him, Halvarin had remained at his post to oversee the delicate operation instead of wandering into Edhellond in the hopes of encountering a certain young lady. He scrutinised the swing of the current batch of timber aloft. Should the present breeze kick up into something more, it would become too dangerous to continue, delaying them further.

At Silas’ nod, Darion moved towards his student to apprise him of their arrangements. The student was carefully considered in his response. He nodded calmly at all the appropriate junctures and when Darion dismissed him to gather their belongings, he proceeded at a seemly rate below deck. That said, Silas heard the young man’s boots clatter as he shot down the stairs below deck and along the passage to the cabins. The Captain shook his head for Darion would have his work cut out for him if he did not miss his guess.


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: February 8th, 2020, 12:40 am 
Dunedain Ranger of Arnor
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Edhellond – Yestarë 1433

Their port of call for now was Edhellond. Darion was Keeping a list of duties for Halvarin along with studies, but truth be told, he knew he would make Navigator well before his class due to his varied experiences he’s already had. He also knew he would want to at least get some free time to seek out the Lady Amarwen. Still, there was much to do to get the ship back in first-line condition and there were long hours needed. Preparations for the dry-docking of the ship had to be made and quickly with accommodation made for the crew. Halvarin as part of his duties saw to it that an old inn was sequestered by the Crown for the billeting of the crew. It was an account he would bill to his father as surely Lord Calamir would not deny his contribution to the Kingdom of Gondor. Halvarin was also fairly good at forging his father’s signature…

When the morning came for the ship to be lifted, Darion considered excusing Halvarin from his duties for the day. Afterall, he had done most of the work overseeing the ship’s timely preparation for repair. Darion also knew that Lady Amarwen was foremost on his mind after his duties, and he had been steady at it and staying aboard ship through this time. He had proven his dedication and kept his focus on his work, which was more than Darion could say about himself at that age. Also, the weather was going to be a rare calm day if cold. A light dusting of fresh snow had made everything white, but the sun was rising, and it wasn’t quite freezing so it was very soggy and the sound of dripping water could be heard.

“Halvarin my lad, you have done exemplary in your abilities of navigation. I have marked you highly, and I see also you show some leadership skills watching over the ship these last several days.” Darion said as he walked with Halvarin on the ship. The hoists were getting put in place by the shipyard crew and Darion and Halvarin observed the progress for a moment.

“Thank you sir. I wish to do my best for the Crown.” Halvarin said. Darion nodded. He wasn’t political and it was good to see young Halvarin wasn’t technically political either. Yet his closeness to the daughter of the House of Edhellond made him more political than he may realise. Darion went on, ”You have earned a day for yourself. Now disembark and go. If you haven’t sorted yourself any accommodation then do so, and report back to the dry-dock at first light tomorrow.”

Halvarin on the outside remained stoic as he listened to Darion, but inside his guts jumped. He had a day to find Lady Amarwen and to spend time with her. It was something he had buried in his mind “Yes sir, tomorrow morning.” Halvarin said and gave the Master Navigator and officer in charge a salute. He went to his quarters and loaded his duffle bag and slung it over his back and disembarked the ship. He immediately started walking through the slush and water toward the inn he had sequestered where he stowed his bag in his room and cleaned up. He put on his best dress blues before walking out to make his way to House Edhellond.

When he arrived at the door, the house servant answered. Halvarin gave her a smile. “I am calling on Lady Amarwen, is she free to talk?”


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: February 8th, 2020, 3:20 am 
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Edhellond - 1433

Amarwen’s initial excitement upon Yestarë had met with the stark and immovable realities of her situation in the days since. All the reasons that Halvarin might reconsider had landed in Amarwen’s thoughts. She had grown up with the knowledge that she was expected to marry and produce heirs. Halvarin had not. They had hardly discussed the matter and for all she knew, perhaps he did not wish to marry at all. Perhaps he had no desire to take on the various responsibilities that came with being the Lord of Edhellond. All of that, before the politics of their parents were considered. Theirs was a long and difficult road ahead and it all might yet come undone despite their efforts.

Halvarin’s father cast a prominent and long shadow. One her mother could not and would not set aside. The Lady of Edhellond would not countenance anything that might call into question their fealty. Amarwen did not know where she stood with Halvarin and was utterly unsure what she might do about any of it. Nor was she certain she was ready to find out and yet he was at her door.

”Very dashing too, m’Lady, in his best blues,” said the servant that had informed her of Halvarin’s arrival.

Amarwen released the hair she had been trying to pull back. It fell in a heavy, thick stream down her back. She shook her head at herself. Nothing she might wear could protect her from her fears. Nor could she send him away.

”He is in the sitting room?” she asked the maid who stood behind her.

The woman nodded. ”Perhaps some hot chocolate?”

Amarwen nodded and returned her scrutiny to her reflection. She gathered her hair up and brought it forward over her shoulder. She sighed at what she saw and pushed back to stand. ”I suppose that will have to do,” she said, unconvinced.

Her palms were slick and her mouth dry as she left her rooms and made for the sitting room. It was a less formal setting than the great hall or their dining room. Indeed, they’d passed many hours in this place together as children and Amarwen found Halvarin reacquainting himself with the books that sat in one of the shelves by the fireplace. Though his back was to her, she saw that he did indeed cut a fine figure as she paused in the door.

Her heart leapt into her throat and Amarwen closed her eyes to make a heartfelt wish that she dared not utter. Then, she crossed the threshold and settled the fall of her skirts. The firelight nearby picked out the steely blue thread that had been woven through the dusky rose of her kirtle. It created a subtle sheen. A log popped in the hearth. Amarwen flinched as Halvarin turned about. It was then their eyes met.

They stood like that for a long moment, gazing at each other. Yearning mixed with trepidation. Distantly, Amarwen heard the approach of footsteps. She moved aside as Marece, their cook’s wife, appeared with a tray in hand. Halvarin recovered himself by falling into an all too familiar stance. He clasped his hands at his back, straightened his shoulders and lifted his chin.

”Hot chocolate,” the middle aged woman announced into the tense silence. She smiled warmly at Amarwen as she set the tray on the low table that sat between the fireplace and the couches. ”And some of those little seed cakes that I know you must still enjoy.”

She dusted her hands on her apron as she studied them. Half a knowing smile appeared before Marece was on her way once more. She slipped out past Amarwen with a wink that drew her about, and closed the sitting room door with a click. She turned back to face Halvarin.

”My mother is on her way to Dol Amroth. I do not expect her return until tomorrow, at the earliest.” Halvarin nodded at that and Amarwen found herself smoothing her skirts again. It was a nervous habit. ”You look well. Are you well?”

“I am,”
he answered quietly. ”Are you?”

Amarwen nodded, unwilling to trust herself further. So many questions writhed and she did not know if she was ready for any to escape her just yet. Not until she knew what the answers might be. Instead, she gestured to the heavy earthen mugs that steamed upon the tray. At this, both edged forward to claim a mug. Amarwen seated herself self consciously. She could feel her cheeks heat and she wrapped her hands around her pottery mug and blew across the surface to cool it slightly.

Halvarin sipped at his and so they sat there in silence until Amarwen managed to gather her courage somewhere towards the bottom of her hot chocolate.

”Six months is a long time. Time enough for hearts to cool and minds to change.”

Halvarin leaned forward to return his mug to the tray and shifted so that he sat, facing her. One arm rested along the arm of the couch and the other along its back, extended towards her. The firelight glinted in his eyes but she could not discern his thoughts.

“It is,” Halvarin agreed. ”Has yours?”

Amarwen drew a breath to steel herself. Though she felt quite unprepared, she knew it was time to be honest. ”No, and I doubt that it ever will." Slowly she looked up and into Halvarin's eyes. Still, she could not read his thoughts. "And you?”


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: February 8th, 2020, 11:28 pm 
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”No.” Halvarin answered without hesitation. His eyes softened as he looked into hers. He took a deep breath, for he had missed her badly… he missed looking into her eyes and seeing them looking at him. He said, “M’lady, of that which we spoke of, my mind will never change.”

He picked up his mug and drained the last of the drink thick with chocolate. He moved slightly closer to Amarwen as he set it back down. reached out to take her hand as he said,. ”Know that what we spoke of remains foremost in my mind. Though I have been six months away, I wavered not in my dedication to our future. If the seas break the land, or the mountains fall into fields of rubble, I will traverse it all to take your hand…. Even if Gondor itself falls into ruin around us.”

Halvarin left no doubt how he felt about Amarwen, and his eyes hoped she could see that. It appeared she softened her questioning gaze as he spoke, and Halvarin moved closer and leaned in and gave her a soft, light kiss….


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 Post subject: Re: The Waning Days of King Valacar
PostPosted: February 8th, 2020, 11:52 pm 
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Tempting, oh so tempting to lose herself in this moment. Amarwen had done it before, beneath the Dome of Stars, and what had followed had left her on her knees. But still, she was badly tempted. She did not understand how he did this to her but she could not deny that he did. She pressed herself against him and her embrace tightened. She was still that starstruck girl and then, she was not. For the pain she had endured over the course of the previous years could not leave help but leave her changed. Different.

She pulled Halvarin’s weight with her as she leaned back upon the couch. His gaze filled her with a need that she struggled against. A treacherous thought beckoned at the back of her mind. What do you wait for, it taunted. You are free now. Unencumbered. Released. And yet, if she wished to build a future that could endure with this man, there were matters to consider.

”You would take on all that accompanies the mantle of Lord of Edhellond?” she asked, adrift in the heat of his gaze.

Halvarin nodded solemnly and then a smile flickered to life. Amarwen’s back arched as he lowered his head to kiss her jaw. ”If you would have me,” he whispered against the delicate skin of her throat.

”Ours will be a long and difficult road,” Amarwen gasped, long dark lashes fluttering as Halvarin pressed himself against her.

”A worthy one,” he countered. ”There is no other I would seek. No other I desire.”

Her eyes flared open and Halvarin felt her still beneath him. He lifted his head to peer at her. Amarwen set a gentle hand against his cheek. There was nothing but earnest, heartfelt tenderness in his gaze. In truth, she had seen it before and held it at arm’s length as protocol and good sense required of her. At the inn at the Harlond and again, within the Palace the very night she learned she was to be dispatched. It was then she perceived something of the road Halvarin had walked to reach his moment. The knowledge humbled her.

”I was betrothed, against my desire or will, to a good man. But you, Halvarin, I choose before all good men. I bind myself to thee, come what may, and I will hold true to you and you alone.”

Halvarin’s eyes widened as he whispered, ”Truly?”

Amarwen answered by pulling his lips to hers and there was nothing gentle in it.


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