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 Post subject: Re: Kin - Strife of Gondor: III 1436 onwards
PostPosted: December 21st, 2019, 11:04 pm 
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"CUT AWAY" Carlin demanded.

Silas shook his head, eyes on the watery horizon. "It is too late."

"We can take them yet."

"And the rest?"
Silas swung about to consider his colleague. Behind them, by a narrow margin, the battle raged. Ships alight, men screaming from the waters. For life. For their mothers. For reprieve.

Carlin's jaw knotted. He was not deaf to that blood soaked din.

"Those lives are given in vain if we do not set the chase and run them down," Carlin warned. 'The blockade can not be allowed to fail now."

Silas bowed his head, chest heaving beneath his bandages. No one had escaped this encounter unscathed. He cleared his throat and spat to one side.

"Set the pursuit."

"Aye,"
the First Mate replied and soon these orders, come what may, were bellowed up and down the ship.

Carlin nodded and extended a hand that Silas stepped back from with a grimace. He turned away and disappeared below to have his bandages changed. Carlin turned to the rail to espy his own vessel. It was running out the sheets to catch the wind and set the chase. The others would follow as they could. If they could. Only time would tell if they could catch the usurper's turncoats in time to deny them control of the Anduin.

~~~~~~~~~~~

The map dominated a battered, wide table. Around it clustered men. Prince Aldamir spoke quietly, pointing out the key aspects of their strategy for his father. Eldacar's eyes glittered in the fitful light that filtered into the room.

"The river will hold, this time," Aldamir said, straightening to look to his father. Eldarcar was impassive and so the Crown Prince pushed on. "The coastsare secured. The mouth of the Anduin will be denied to the Usurper, his naval forces depleted and scattered if our own men are able to prevail upon the seas," Aldamir paused, his brow furrowing briefly before he continued. "Father, the ground is set. Castamir's pride has been his downfall, due in no small part to these men, if we can hold our course."

Aldamir gestured to the others gathered around that map. Michas and Halvarin amongst them, bowed their heads. Eldacar, King-in-Waiting gazed at the map.

"Best laid plans," he said quietly and Aldamir nodded.

He glanced to the those gathered and made to reply however a scuff at the door behind them him.

Attention shifted immediately, for Minas Anor was by no means quietened. Only yesterday, an attack had been foiled at the last moment within the Houses of Healing themselves. But instead of would be assassins, Sarael scurried through, her expression worried and embarrassed in equal measures as she hurried after another.

"No, no, no!"

Another woman's voice echoed within the chamber. Halvarin was already moving to intercept this new arrival and it was he Sarael addressed.

"She would not be gainsaid," Sarael said as Halvarin reached his wife.

Amarwen was by no means recovered. Only this morning the healers had advised that further rest was required and yet here she was, pushing past him for the table itself. Short of pushing his wife bodily back she she won past him and bore down upon the map itself.

"What do you mean?" Michas gestured at the map, "Is this not your work?"

A wave of Amarwen's hand dispensed with that question as Sarael and Halvarin converged in Amarwen's wake. As she set a hand somewhere in the midst of Gondor, Halvarin gained her shoulder.

"The interior remains an open question," Amarwen declared and withdrew her hand from the map. "For each we gained," she tapped various settlements sparse and scattered over the northern reaches of the realm, "Others we lost."

Her hand lifted away again and her gaze rose to Eldacar, "'Tis one thing to hold the margins, Sire. We do not yet dominate the field itself."

Eldacar nodded, "We must avoid the folly of pride that has so dogged Castamir." He turned from the map towards Amarwen proper, "Any word yet, from the coastal provinces."

Amarwen hesitated for she had yet to hear from Edhellond and Dol Amroth, much less distant Lond Daer. Halvarin, thankfully, had the answer.

"Not as yet, Sire. It is expected within the week."

Eldacar turned back to the map. "Make no mistake, the power of our southern people has yet to be felt in full. Reinforce and extend further, our watch. If all holds, our armies will land in Minas Anor before the traitor's."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Be off with you and your child!"

"Please!"

"Canna you not see? We already have more foundlings than we can care for!"

"But-"

"Be gone!"


The door slammed and there was little more Larial could do. She gazed down at the infant in her arms. Alenna, named for the girl's true mother, was oblivious. It would be dark soon. Lariel hunched her shoulders and shuffled off, wondering how it was she could return the girl child to her mother. The longer she waited, the harder it would be to slip the city and leave this gathering war behind her.

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 Post subject: Re: Kin - Strife of Gondor: III 1436 onwards
PostPosted: December 21st, 2019, 11:05 pm 
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One thing Eldacar was sure of was it would take a certain amount of luck for them to gain Minas Anor before the Castamarian ships. Unknown to him as he spoke, there approached a messenger that carried news. It appeared some of that luck was coming their way. With a decisive victory over the Easterlings, Rhovania now had more resources to send south. An army of battle-hardened soldiers were marching down from Rhun toward Minas Ithil, and a hardy army from northern Rhovania that King Vidugavia had kept in reserve to fight the threat from Rhun was now enroute to Osgiliath….

Fenhal was a skilled horseman and one of Vidugavia’s fastest riders of his personal guard. He rode tirelessly to Osgiliath without sleep to come to the city as the meeting was going on. Eldacar’s pleas to the Rhovanions for more aid had been consistently met with silence to the point that Eldacar had assumed this war would have to be won but Gondor’s own hand. But when the City Guard captain escorted Fenhal to the King’s war room, the tired dirty rider stood with pride as he was announced to the King…

”Fenhal, messenger of Rhovania with news.” the city guard said. Everyone in the room stood and turned. Fenhal said in Rhovanion, ”Vinitharya my prince! Eldacar the rightful King of Gondor!My King Vidugavia sends me with word that help is coming! He was victorious on the fields of Dorwinion and the Easterlings have been crushed! As soon as they have rested, an army will march south from Rhun to Minas Ithil, and his reserve army marches south even now to this fair city!”

Eldacar was silent. The tiding came unexpected. He nodded, then finally said, “ This news is great indeed! We welcome it! How long before they arrive?”

Fenhel thought for a moment as his sleepless mind was confused as to what day it was. He finally said, ”They were to set out the morning after I left. They will be some few days yet.”

“Yes, of course. I remember the march. It is just time is not on our side.”
he said as he waved to the servants. ”Get this man food and drink and prepare a bath for him.”

Fenhel took a breath as his eyes dropped. He could rest for a time. The head servant ushered Fenhel out where his needs would be seen to. Eldacar looked around the room to all those gathered. ’Within the week it is. We will see where we stand in five days. Now, has anyone heard from Vilmaith and our armies east of the Anduin?”

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Vilmaith had led the eastern army down the road south through Ithilien. When they met a force of Haradian mercenaries that were moving up the road, heavy battle ensued. The Haradians were sent by Castamir as part of his plan to force the Anduin. They were to try and protect the river flank for his ships moving upriver. One thing that could be said about the Haradians, they knew how to fight, and fiercely at that. This force had good leaders and fought exceptionally well.

”Spread!” Vilmaith yelled out. The commander to her right nodded and waved his men to follow. They would try and cordon off any flanking toward the river, leaving only the rough brambles and scrabble toward the Ephel Dúath as a way to try and outflank them. Vilmaith guessed they might try such a move and sent a light screening force of hardy Ithilien Rangers to set watch. It took men away from her main force, but they knew the draws and ridges of Ithilien and the ways they would be able to get through.

After days of fighting, the Rhovanions were able to force back the Haradians, and with the arrival of an army from Rhovania, they had the upper hand and was able to press their advantage if only for a while. The Rhovanion army had arrived in Minas Ithil but needed some time to rest before battle. Still, Vilmaith managed to consolidate a good defensive position and the eastern shore of the Anduin was secured as far south as the reaches of Emyn Arnen. She sent a messenger back to Minas Ithil and one to Osgiliath to inform King Eldacar of their victory!

The Army of Ithilien as they became known as did not tarry. They had pushed out south so they could work to fortify a strong defensive position along a line from the south reach of Emyn Arnen going due east across the Ithilien Road to the Ephel Dúath. It was made all the easier by the continued retreat of the Haradians south through South Ithilien towards the Poros. Vilmaith knew they would be back. It was her hope that the army she commanded could rest and refit and again march south before the Haradians did return. Either way, Castamir would not wait long before another assault was made north.

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 Post subject: Re: Kin - Strife of Gondor: III 1436 onwards
PostPosted: December 22nd, 2019, 1:42 am 
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Back and forth the battles raged. Weeks stretched into months and from there in years. Throughout all this time, the hardship and suffering of Gondor’s people was immense. Despite this, Gondor’s people did not waver this time. Slowly, inexorably, Castimir’s cruel reign was turned against him. It was achingly, frustratingly slow, but league by league and town by town, Gondor’s people rallied behind their only king. Their true King.

And so, after years, the true King finally returned. Eldacar swept down out of the north, driving Castimir’s forces before him with the combined armies of Gondorians loyal to his banner and Rhovanians willing to lay down their lives for him.

By 1446, Eldacar’s forces had secured their hold on Osgiliath, Minas Ithil, Minas Anor and the Harlond. After a bitter winter, made all the harsher by Castimir’s efforts to starve out his opponent and those who supported him, the spring of 1447 came.

And in all that time, 3 years, the fate of the youngest child of Amarwen and Halvarin remained unknown. It was but one amongst a multitude tragedies that the Kin-Strife had brought to Gondor and her people.

As Spring passed into Summer, plans were laid and preparations were made for a final push south to drive Castimir and his treacherous forces from Gondor once and for all. Eldacar, King in Waiting, strode the halls of Minas Anor’s citadel. It was early morning but there was an undeniable buzz in the air. On the morrow, their forces would set out. Already, the forward batteries had deployed. His boots creaked as he walked and his cloak flared at his heels. If this push did not succeed, Eldacar was not sure if they could muster another.

That they were in this position at all was nothing short of remarkable. It had be accomplished at great cost, driven largely by his son. Aldamir had always been the warrior prince and this intercine civil war had proven that many times over. And working at his side, a young woman that no one could have predicted would play such a pivotal role. He had dispatched Amarwen of Edhellond back to her home, sundering the betrothal to his son in the process, in the hopes of sparing her from this coming storm.

In the end, she had placed herself at the heart of it. He supposed he should not have been surprised and yet, he was. This war had taken both her parents and her people from her. It had taken her youngest child too. A war he had failed to stave off. Amarwen of Edhellond had little cause to view him kindly and yet, she served him still. Eldacar rounded a corner and came to a standstill, narrowly avoiding a young boy of no more than five years. He bounded along, dark hair tousseled and still in his bed clothes. The child veered around Eldacar without so much as a sideways glance and disappeared around the corner.

”Oi!” came the sound of a harried woman’s voice calling from down the hall. Sure enough, one of the serving women appeared and it was clear she was in pursuit of the young scamp that had just raced by. The woman’s frown evaporated into a look of surprise followed by dismay. She hastily offered up a curtsy.

”Forgive me, your-“

“That way,”
Eldacar said, pointing the direction the boy had gone. ”If you hurry, you just might catch him before he gains the kitchens.”

With a groan, the serving woman pushed herself into a trot that built to a jog. She was running, puffing, by the time she passed Eldacar and was soon lost to sight as well.

The King in waiting paused, musing over what he had seen. Life, it seemed, would continue come what may. Gondor’s people had proven themselves resilient. Nodding to himself, he continued on and gained the room they had appropriated as a war room in time to find a healthy debate underway.

His son, Crown Prince Aldamir, stood with his arms crossed over his chest as another of their commanders, a man named Michas laid out his points in language best described as blunt. The Lord Commander of Minas Anor, Halvarin of Pelargir, sat watching on with moderate interest. His wife, Lady Amarwen, was pinching the bridge of her nose.

”What is it this time?” Eldacar inquired as he closed the door after him.

This effectively halted the debate as those in the room took in his presence. It was a temporary abeyance at best.

”Sire, if we do not secure Pelargir, they will slip through our fingers no matter what happens,” Michas stated.

“Secure Pelargir,” Amarwen remarked acerbically. ”Because that’s clearly an easy feat to accomplish.”

“The Lady is correct. We can tarry no longer. If we do not push now, we likely never will,”
Aldamir added.

”And if we lose them?” Halvarin inquired. ”Is that a victory we can be content with?”

And so, it was an even split. Eldacar gained the table upon which their map was laid out. He reviewed the deployments he saw upon it, aware that Amarwen was vigilant in keeping it current as tidings arrived. Her networks and sources of information were redoubtable indeed by now. In essence, Eldacar saw that both proponents were correct. They did have to push now, whilst momentum was in their favour along with everything else. However, the risk of Castimir or his lieutenants slipping out through Pelargir was significant.

”What, then, do you propose Commander Michas?” the King in Waiting inquired.

At that, the man grimaced. ”I’d like to see us shore up the southern passes below Pelargir.”

“That will take months,”
Aldamir observed. ”By then, any chance of waging battle will be played out in deteriorating weather. I think it unlikely we will survive another winter like this last one.”

Eldacar looked to where Amarwen sat, eyes on the floor as her thoughts turned. She must have felt the weight of his study for she looked up after a moment and slowly nodded. She concurred with his son’s assessment.

”If we wait for all to be in hand and in our favour, we will lose,” she said. ”A victory is a victory, at this point, surely? And once driven out, should we prevail, can we not set a pursuit to run down any that seek to elude us?”

At her side, Lord Halvarin’s brows rose. ”Run down those that flee the battlefield?”

Amarwen sighed at that and rubbed at her face. ”Perhaps that is cruel. Even ruthless. Forgive me. I am ill-inclined to show mercy to those that stole my child.”

At that, Halvarin reached for his wife’s hand and took it between his own. This war had taken much from them all, Eldacar thought to himself. Healing these rifts would take a great deal more than victory at battle. He nodded, his decision made.

”We will proceed as planned,” he declared and Commander Michas turned away, clearly disappointed. ”And, you, Commander, will see what can be done to curtail any that might seek to escape their fates.”

Michas turned back at that, surprised and pleased. Eldacar added, ”And on your head will be their fates, Commander, for you are to take prisoners where possible. I will not have slaughter done in my name.”

“Even the Usurper himself,”
Aldamir pressed.

The King in Waiting shook his head. ”His fate, son, is mine to determine.”

Eldacar surveyed those in the room for any further dissent. Finding none, he sent them on their way for he was aware that they each had preparations to make before they set out on their march south. Once he had the room to himself, he studied the map before him anew.

Despite his wishes and instructions, he wondered if there was any way to spare Gondor from wholesale slaughter.

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 Post subject: Re: Kin - Strife of Gondor: III 1436 onwards
PostPosted: December 23rd, 2019, 1:29 am 
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Minas Anor - Spring, 1447

Eldacar glanced out the window. The sun was fast setting and twilight had rolled over the terraces of Minas Anor. It was a beautiful city, scarred by war but still standing. It’s fate, should they fail, would be similar to that of the nation’s capital. Castimir would fall on Minas Anor like a hammer to anvil. It would be sacked, razed, burned and he doubted many of the city’s present residents would survive. Movement in his doorway diverted his attention and once his gaze swung to meet her, Lady Amarwen executed a flawless curtsy.

”Come,” the King in Waiting bade her and once she gained her feet, Amarwen pressed forward until she stood before his desk, hands clasped before her and eyes respectfully lowered.

”Thank you,” Eldacar said at once and this lifted her gaze briefly to his. ”I will not keep you overlong during these remaining precious hours.”

Amarwen nodded at this and the King gestured to a nearby chair. ”Will you sit, your Grace?”

He watched her brow furrow momentarily before she heeded his invitation. Amarwen smoothed the folds of her skirts as she gathered her thoughts. ”All these years, and yet when I hear that I find myself looking for my mother.”

“The loss of your parents was a heavy blow,”
Eldacar agreed, studying Amarwen for a moment. Lady Alenna, were she with them still, would be proud of her only child.

Amarwen nodded and lifted her eyes from her knees to his face. After a pause, she inquired, ”How may I be of service, Sire?”

He leaned back in his chair at her question. ”Do you recall the last time we were seated across from one another.”

A rueful smile faintly curved her lips as she inclined her head. ”Do not tell me you are dispatching me to Edhellond again, Sire!”

“I doubt you’d remain if I did,”
he returned and this time her smile was clearer. ”Rather, your Grace, I have asked you here so that I might impose upon you to remain in Minas Anor on the morrow.”

He watched Amarwen’s brows rise at that, her mind already calculating options. ”To what end?”

Eldacar sighed at the question. ”If we fail, Castimir’s reprisal will be as swift as it is brutal.”

“And do you expect to fail?”

“After what took place in Osgiliath, your Grace, it would be unforgivable if I did not lay suitable preparations now.”


At that, Amarwen inclined her head, conceding the point. Her father, along with his son, had been caught up in that blood bath. The tales borne by survivors of the carnage were truly heartrending.

”The city will have to be emptied. We have not the supplies laid down to withstand another siege. Not after that last winter,” Amarwen stated, the enormity of the task clear in the solemn tone of her voice.

Eldacar nodded. ”I will need someone I can rely upon to oversee it all.”

“Where would we go?”

“North.”

“Rhovanion?”


Again the King nodded and Amarwen pressed out a deep sigh. To quit Gondor entirely, he knew, was no small thing to ask. Still, King Vidugavia would offer the remnants of his people shelter. And perhaps there were others, the Horse Lords for example, that might be moved to pity.

”And what of the rest of us, Sire?”

“Gondor is vast, particularly the western reaches of our land as you well know. Castimir will move first to secure the Great River once again.”

“Allowing our people to seek shelter.”

“I believe so. But Dol Amroth and Edhellond will draw his ire most sharply. He will seek to make examples of them. I have already sent word to make immediate preparations for evacuation to the nearest safe port.”

“Lond Daer,”
Amarwen breathed. What the King described was a pogrom that stretched a bloody hand across the realm.

”If we fail, my line will be extinguished. Gondor, what survives of it, will have need of a Steward until the rightful heir can be found,” he gazed steadily at Amarwen. ”I would have that Steward be you, Amarwen of Edhellond.”

Her eyes widened at that and she shook her head emphatically. ”They will not accept me as Steward. It is not our way.”

“I can think of none better suited to the task,”
he said quietly, calmly. ”You are a daughter of Kings, my girl, who I trust will lead our people to safety.”

Amarwen stared at him with the sort of intensity he had seen in her when last they had met in this fashion. He pushed a piece of parchment forward over his desk.

”The matter is done, isn’t it,” she astutely surmised. Eldacar inclined his head and pressed to his feet.

Amarwen followed suit, though seemed a little unsteady as she gained her own. Curiously devoid of ambition, he thought to himself. Power and thirst for it was not in Amarwen’s nature. Still, he had seen for himself over the years just how well suited she was to such positions. If she could harness and mould a rebellion, she could safe guard his people until they selected a new King.

”You had best succeed, Sire,” she said gravely, gazing at him.

”I intend to, your Grace. However, should battle not go in our favour, I know that all will not be lost.”

Amarwen perceived that she had been dismissed. She curtsied once again, turned for the door and took her leave. Once did she pause, in the doorway, to look back at where Eldacar stood. He thought she might say something but instead, she elected to say nothing further and was soon gone.

He knew that he would not see her again unless he prevailed. Behind him, a wooden screen moved and his son stepped out.

”A worthy appointment, Father,” Aldamir stated quietly of the woman he had once been betrothed to.

”Let us hope we need not burden her so,” he replied and Aldamir nodded his agreement.

Amarwen slipped through the doors of their rooms, introspective and subdued. Mindacil was in the throes of avoiding going to bed. Sarael was chasing the small boy around the parlour in hopes of wearing his energy down. The arrival of his mother prompted Mindacil to dart behind her.

”You are entirely too big to fit under my skirts, Pip” Amarwen said, smiling at Sarael who had folded her arms and rolled her eyes.

”I don’t want to go to sleep, Amme! I’m not tired.”

“And what does your father have to say about this, young man?”

“The Lord Commander has yet to return,”
Sarael explained and Amarwen’s brows lifted at that.

”He’s still with Michas?” she asked and Sarael lifted a shoulder.

”As best I can tell,” she supplied.

Behind her, she heard her son yawn. ”That’s quite the yawn for someone who is not tired,” Amarwen observed. She turned and crouched before her son. Mindacil rubbed at his eyes, defiant still.

”I’m not sleepy,” he declared despite the fact that he clearly was.

”Very well,” Amarwen said, smoothing back some of his dark hair, ”How about I read you a story?”

“Two?”
Mindacil brightened immediately.

”Two,” she agreed and at that, her son flung his arms about his mother in an earnest embrace. After this sweet, all too brief pause, Mindacil raced off in the direction of his bedroom. It was not long before he was calling for her in his high, singsong voice.

”Seek your own rest, Sarael,” Amarwen said to the other woman. ”There’s nothing more to be done this day and tomorrow will come soon enough.”

“But is not the Lord Commander deploying too?”

“I expect so,”
Amarwen said quietly. Halvarin had not said that but given his position in connection with Michas, she thought it unlikely that he’d remain in Minas Anor after the main body of their troops set out.

Sarael came forward to squeeze Amarwen’s forearm. The two women stood together, both quite aware that the battle ahead would be nothing short of pitched. There was no telling how long it would go for. Casualties were expected to be high.

”Courage,” Amarwen whispered and Sarael nodded before the two women took their leave.

Amarwen settled in by her son’s bed and read not two but four stories to the small boy. In all that time, Halvarin still did not return. The hour was now quite late and in the morning, she would have her own duties to look to. Much expanded in light of the King’s recent decision. She took to her own bed and pulled the covers up around her shoulders. It felt so empty without Halvarin. Something she’d have to get accustomed to, Amarwen told herself. Again.

By the time dawn crept over the city, Amarwen found herself wrapped around Mindacil. She had no idea when the little boy had crept into her bed but he was there now, warm and softly breathing. There was movement in the room and her eyes opened to find Halvarin approaching. He smiled down at her and their son and sat carefully on the edge of the bed.

”I had hoped not to wake you,” Halvarin said as Amarwen adjusted slightly.

”You’d leave without so much as a fare thee well?” she chided.

”You two looked so...peaceful.”

Amarwen took Halvarin in. He was clad for travel and war. By the door, his pack and sword stood ready.

”Tell me you will come back to us,” Amarwen said, her gaze returning to his face. ”Promise me.”

“I will do everything in my power, my love,”
he said quietly, reaching to smooth Mindacil’s sleep tousled hair. Just then, in that moment, she had the selfish thought to ask him to stay. They had both lost so much in this war. The notion of losing Halvarin too almost undid any courage she may have had the night before.

Amarwen pushed upright and Halvarin’s attention lifted from their sleeping son to her. He drank her in for a long moment before drawing her lips to his. She wanted to hold him to her and never let go. ”I am frightened,” she admitted, whispering this into his ear.

”As am I,” Halvarin whispered back, holding her face between the palms of his hand.

“I will wait for you Hal. For as long as it takes.”

To be separated now, again, after all this. Her eyes filled with tears that she saw mirrored in Halvarin’s own.

”I will see you soon,” he said.

She nodded and he kissed her again before he pulled back with a soft groan. Halvarin bent and kissed his sleeping son. Mindacil did not stir and slowly Halvarin rose to his feet. They stared at one another for a long moment before Halvarin shook himself, collected his pack and sword and slipped out. Amarwen sank back down and wrapped her arms around Mindacil. She felt like her heart was breaking once again.

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 Post subject: Re: Kin - Strife of Gondor: III 1436 onwards
PostPosted: December 28th, 2019, 3:00 am 
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South of Minas Anor

The day dawned grey with low clouds and mist on the river. Days had passed since the last council at Minas Anor, and now they were gathered at the front. Here south of Minas Anor, the fortifications on each side of the line that had stood statically between the Castamirians and the Eldacarians not far south of Minas Anor were grim. It was here where Eldacar had tried to make his stand so many years before, and now it was where Castamir held a line against him.

The fighting had remained in a lull for some time, so when Eldacar gathered his commanders in his tent and got word that the army of Calenardhon had arrived by the mountain road, he rejoiced and felt the time was right. Conferring with his commanders, it was agreed that they had to act. Before he ordered an all-out offensive, he got word from the Calenardhon commander that some of his hardy men had volunteered to scale over the White Mountain, and when he had word that they had come to the aid of the highlanders of Ringlo, Eldacar knew the time was nigh.

”We will push forth with all our might, and we will have to take no mind of our losses. We will either come through this impending battle victorious or we will perish!” Eldacar said.

Halvarin nodded and motioned to Micas who had selected some men. They were to go and attempt to infiltrate around the line via the river, and the misty conditions were right for it to succeed. They set out well before the attack would start.

The dark eyes and heads were all that could be seen of the men as they floated sown along the bank of the Anduin. They quietly slid by the fort in the stillness of the morn. Finding an outcrop not far past, Halvarin led Michas and the six other men out. There were some river boats moored there and they worked to disable them before moving on to cut the supply lines that led up to the forts.

It was then when the morning mist turned to a steady drizzle where Eldacar stood watch. To his right he had his armies of Gondor amassed, and to his left were his armies of Rhovania. With a signal of the horns, the archers let fly their arrows into the grey skies, and the soldiers all marched forward. It wasn’t long before the shouts and yells of men in the greyness could be heard, and soon after the sound of steel and screams.

”Press! To your right!” Vidnavi called out to her sister Vilna.

A coordinated attack against a weak point between the forts was succeeding, but the Castamirian archers were making it costly. When the breach was forced and the Castamirian soldier broke and ran, Vilna called her forces forward. He sword waved them forward as she made a Rhovanian warcry. But it died out suddenly into gurgles when an arrow pierced her neck. Gasping she waved them forward as she fell face first into the mud.

Vidnavi was pressing to the other side of the fort which they had managed to set on fire. When the wall gave way, she waved her soldiers forward. They found the Castamarians were in confusion and in full flight. The battle was turning, and it appeared the Rhovanions had forced an opening on the left side of the line.

To Eldacar’s right, the Gondorian armies were held at first by precision archery. It wasn’t until the trebuchets with their pitch balls set fire to the forts that they were able to engage. As the noon hour approached, they had broken through! The Castamarian army was in full retreat, and Halvarin and Michas managed to capture the river boats. They would need repairs to be able to be used, but they would need all the ships they could get before too long.

Castamir had been back at the Fords of Erui when word came of the attack. Thinking at first it was yet another ruse, he ignored the first report when more reports came of the line being broken, he ordered the reserve army to set the line at the fords. The wounded and broken men started to flow back in increasing numbers, and Eldacar did not cease his assault to regroup. The Gondorians and Rhoivanions came against the riverbanks to the east and the west of the fords with only a small salient north of the river remaining in Castamir’s hands.

For five days they held this line when Eldacar sent forth an offer of truce. Castamir came forth and stood ready to parlay, and Eldacar approached with his guard.

When they stood about thirty feet from each other, they stared hard at each other. Eldacar called out, ”Usurper, lay down your arms! Too much blood has been shed!”

Castamir’s response was one of contempt and scorn. ”Nay Rhovanion, bloodmaster of inferiority. I am king of Gondor, and you are unworthy of the title of this great Numenorean realm! Go… return to your northern realm half-breed!”

Eldacar sighed as he said, “You have lost the support of all but a few Gondorians. You have robbed them with taxes and starved them with commandeered provision! This is a fight you will not win Usurper!”

Castamir’s answer was one of a drawn sword. His army moved forward to take a line where he stood. Likewise, Vidnavi stepped forth to stand by Eldacar’s right, and the commanders of the Calenardhon and Anorien armies stood to his left.

It was then a runner came from the rear of Castamir’s line with news. The southwestern provinces have rebelled against his rule. They had taken allegiance with Edhellond and Dol Amroth in support of King Eldacar! Likewise word had come that a small army was attacking from Lamdon toward the city of Linhir. Castamir saw he ran the risk of being cut off from Pelargir and his seagoing ships but his pride prevented him from retreating from Eldacar at this hour.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


East of the Anduin


A scout came back with word that he sighted a force of Gondorians loyal to Castamir cross from Pelargir to the east road. Vilmaith didn’t wait for orders when she heard the news of Cartamir trying to muster their forces.

’We move now!” Vilmaith declared with authority when a Gondorian division commander wanted to wait for word from Eldacar. ”If we lose this advantage, it will go ill for us it. We cannot wait!”

Seizing the initiative, Vilmaith ordered a general advance, sending word back to Eldacar when she did. It was a brilliant move as they were able to catch them mustering with the Haradian mercenaries as they took them by surprise. It didn’t seem like the stomach of the mercenaries was into the battle, likely due to they being owed money by Castamir. This, Vilmaith speculated, was why he needed to send Gondorians to the east side of the Anduin.

When the swords rang out as the melee started, Vilmaith ordered her forces to leave the mercenaries to their own means. Her eastward regiment had marched wide and soon had secured the highlands along the Poros and held the fords. They had nowhere to retreat to except back to Pelargir.

As the battle raged, Vilmaith stood and battled the Castamirian who was in charge of the force. They fought hard and Vilmaith was wounded in the thigh, being fortunate her leather armour blunted the blow just enough to keep her artery from being cut. When the Castamirian moved in for the kill of what he saw as an inferior Rhovanion woman, Vilmaith used all her strength to move and thrust, catching the Castamirian under his vest and driving her sword up toward his heart. He fell back and she pulled her sword out of him.

She used it to stand as the blood stained the light soil dark, and she called out, ”Hail South Gondor! This fight can not be won! We have fresh armies while yours dwindle! Come, pledge your allegiance to Eldacar, the true King of Gondor and all shall be forgiven. If you choose no, your fate will be that of the defenders of Pelargir!”

Her call seemed to cause the battle to dwindle, and there were a number who readily agreed to turn their swords against their comrades. Those that threw down theirs swords were taken prisoner. Numbers dwindling, a vanguard of elite Gondorian Marines fell back toward Pelargir. Vilmaith ordered her soldiers not to pursue, but to follow. The east side of the Anduin had been won in the name of Eldacar as the parlay between Castamir and Eldacar came to an abrupt end.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Nobody was sure who shot the first arrow. Some accounts had Vidnavi being hit in the shoulder when she stepped in front of the shot meant to for Eldacar. Likewise, an arrow just missed Castamir, cutting his cheek. The yell of the commanders on both sides erupted and the melee started hard and fierce. For hours the fighting went on and Eldacar’s forces made some headway in pushing the Castamirians back over the fords. They kept up the attack when it was noted that the far side of the Fords were being held by the fanatical Umbarian Guard. They were fresh and was able to stem the press of the Gondorians for a time, but this soon proved to be a rearguard action as they withdrew from the field.

The sons of Castamir having seen their father fall to Eldacar’s sword, ordered a retreat to Pelargir. The battle was lost, with the attack against Linhir threatening their flank and Pelargir from the west.

At first, it was thought that both Eldacar and Castamir had perished in the carnage, but in the aftermath of the battle north of the fords, Vidnavi found her King bloodied but alive. He sat with a stunned silent look on his face, partially from the concussion from a blow to the head that split his helmet. The dead and dying from both sides lay about, the moans and cries an unceasing lament and an ever present reminder that it was their own that they felled.

”M’lord!” Vidnavi cried as she sat by him. Her own wound seeped blood from the front and back of her shoulder but she had broken off the arrow, leaving the shaft and the head piercing out from behind. She took Eldacar’s hand in her own. ”Victory is ours! I can feel it!”

Eldacar took a deep breath and looked at Vidnavi. ”So many dead and dying...all for what?” He struggled to move and used his sword to stand. He had a wound to his leg as well.

Vidnavi stood and supported him as she called out, ”The Usurper is dead! King Eldacar Lives! Long live King Eldacar!”

It seemed anyone within earshot let out a cheer, some were followed by coughs. The cheer was repeated by others, and soon the remnants of the armies gathered and lifted and carried Eldacar forward. When they came to the fords and crossed, there was no more resistance. The Unbarian Guard had stemmed the push of Eldacar’s armies, but the victory was decisive if a bloody affair of carnage.The Castamirians were running like rats to the confines of Pelargir.

It was not long before runners came from Vilmaith in the east informing him of their victory, and from the west informing them of the taking of Linhir. Ehdacar nodded as he called for his commander to gather at the Ford of Erui. He sent word back to Minas Anor with the news, but he sensed that Amarwen already knew for he had left in her keeping the city’s palantír.

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 Post subject: Re: Kin - Strife of Gondor: III 1436 onwards
PostPosted: December 28th, 2019, 3:30 am 
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Minas Anor


Amarwen found herself the guardian of all of the King’s various plans and Aldamir’s associated preparations. They had entrusted her with Minas Anor’s palantír along with a dire warning that she was to protect it at all costs. To that end, one rather irritable shieldmaiden had also been left behind. Helda was vastly underwhelmed with the decision that saw her kept off the field of battle to watch over a woman and an Elvish stone.

She followed Amarwen around, scowling and barking at anyone that came near. Most had the good sense to avoid crossing paths with the shieldmaiden. Mindacil, however, found the warrior utterly fascinating. He was impervious to her various attempts to discourage his rapt study and endless questions.

Tasked with keeping the palantír, Amarwen found herself considering using it. She hesitated, reluctant to take such a liberty. She was Steward, after all. Not a member of the royal house itself. Yet, in her veins flowed the blood of kings. And what if Eldacar required aid she could not send, all for wont of using what had been entrusted to her care.

Thus, within a week, Amarwen had begun to use the scrying stone and thus she found herself in possession of a vast and powerful store of information unrivalled by any other source.

She knew the location and strength of Castimir’s forces in the field. She knew their disposition and how they compared with their own. She could see which battle grounds were more suitable than others. This was particularly salient as their supply lines continued to stretch with each league Eldacar pushed south.

Amarwen knew, therefore, when and where battle was finally met north of the fords of the River Erui. It was not the ideal location. It was entirely too close to Pelargir and the city’s considerable defences. Their lines were stretched, vulnerable, whereas the Usurper’s were easily defensible. Sometimes they gained ground, sometimes they lost it. It was brutal, bloody and exhausting. And in the midst of that was the man she loved more than life itself. The spectre of losing Halvarin haunted her, making sleep all but impossible in the few hours she had for it. Yet the stone, for all its power, could offer her nothing of Halvarin’s fate.

Each day, as night fell, she looked for the standards that yet flew on the killing grounds. Eldacar’s remained aloft and when it became clear in the early days that the battlelines were becoming entrenched, Amarwen took a gamble. She weakened the forces that had been left with her in Minas Anor to mount a rearguard and sent reinforcements south. These left seven days after Eldacar had set out.

Their one clear advantage, near as Amarwen could discern, was that they had a Palantír and Castimir did not. This advantage was not lost on those Castimirians still within the city. For at last, the stone was largely unprotected and beckoning to any that might take it.

It was late in the afternoon, almost night, and Amarwen was in the war room again gazing into the scrying stone for tidings from the field of battle. The doors slammed, alerting her to the arrival of another. Helda hurriedly dropped a heavy crossbar across them and turned. Her eyes were bright, blazing blue and her cheeks were flushed with exertion. There was blood on her leathers.

”You have it,” the Shieldmaiden said, eyes for the Palantír still in Amarwen’s hand. ”Do you know how to get to the royal chambers from here?” Amarwen nodded and the shieldmaiden straightened. ”Go to Aldamir’s rooms and lock yourself in. Do not open the doors for anyone other than I.”

“What is afoot?”
Amarwen asked.

”We must quit the citadel.”

Helda was scant on detail and in that moment, all Amarwen could deduce was there was some sort of incursion. How large, of what nature, and led by whom she could not yet ascertain.

”I will not leave without Pip,” Amarwen replied.

”Where is he?”

“With Sarael.”


The shieldmaiden grimaced. ”That might prove...difficult. Sarael leads them.”

“No,”
Amarwen whispered, her heart skipping a beat. It couldn’t be right, surely. She’d dealt with their traitor years ago and since then, there had been no further....but wait...who had led her to Beregond? Amarwen felt sick to her stomach. All these years, right under nose...and Sarael had her son.

”The stone must be protected at all costs. Await my arrival and should I fall, flee. Up the mountain, your Grace.”

And with that, Helda threw back the crossbar and vanished through the doors again. Shocked, Amarwen hastened after her to secure them. The urge to wail for her son was thick in her throat. She stared down at the now dark stone in her hand and then shook herself. Aldamir’s apartments. She thought she knew where they might be.

Amarwen crept, cautiously, through the royal chambers. Elsewhere, within the citadel, she could hear strife. Boots running, the sound of men shouting. Steel. Sarael. She found what she thought to be the Crown Prince’s rooms and slipped through the door. This, she also locked and secured by dragging a heavy sideboard and a chair across it. She backed away, panic clawing at her.

If she lost Pip as well it would be the end of her. She knew this. She could not bear to lose another child. Amarwen looked about. From what she could recall, this seemed to be Aldamir’s rooms. She recognised a set of books set on his desk. These she had read, lounging across the prince’s bed years ago. Something bright, hanging in the corner caught her eye. A silken robe. Hers, she realised with no small degree of surprise. So that was where it had gotten to.

Anxious and unsettled, all Amarwen could do was hope that her son survived Sarael. She paced the room she was in. Round and round. Escape up the mountain and then what? Remain up there? Seek another way down? Where were the forces that remained in the city to mount a rearguard? Surely they’d come. How long would they take? Sarael’s...Amarwen shook her head as she tried to comprehend the enormity of Sarael’s betrayal....Sarael’s resources would be scant. Seasoned, likely. Formidible certainly. And remarkable as Helda was, all Amarwen had to hand was one shieldmaiden, one Palantír and hopefully, a frightened but very much alive child.

How could she be so foolish, Amarwen asked herself more than once. So blindly trusting. If she was honest with herself, Amarwen knew she had not properly examined Sarael’s background. A servant in the household Halvarin inherited upon his father’s death. Who had told Castimir that Halvarin had taken ship and left her to her own devices in Pelargir all those years ago? Who had she sent to the White Tree Inn, seeking Aldamir, only for it to be razed? Who had betrayed her to have her arrested and almost publicly executed? Who had helped raise and care for her son? Who had ordered her household affairs?

It was galling. Sweet faced, innocent Sarael had infiltrated all but her most intimate affairs almost from the outset of her marriage to Halvarin. And all this time, Amarwen had thought that their traitor had been successfully contained and dealt with. She could not make sense of it no matter how hard she pondered it and grasping the enormity of the betrayal now would not see help her bring her son and the Palantír to safety.

Even at this time of year, the heights of the mountain Minas Anor perched upon could remain cold. She opened Aldamir’s wardrobe to see what she could find. Mindacil was her primary concern. There’d be no time to pack suitable clothing if Helda managed to win him away. Amarwen found a cloak, serviceable if a little worn. Far too large for Pip but, if she tore it just so, it might serve for her son and herself. She set about modifying the prince’s old, grey cloak and was just finishing when Helda popped up seemingly out of nowhere.

The shieldmaiden strode out, blood spray on her face. And under one arm was Mindacil, similarly gruesome in appearance.

With a soft cry, Amarwen flew forwards to claim her son. He was shivering, eyes glassy. In shock, she saw with anguish and she gathered the child into her arms. How fiercely he clung to her.

”We have to move,” Helda said. ”Now.”

“The mountain?”
Amarwen asked, still on her knees comforting her traumatised son.

Helda nodded. She espied the torn cloak and quickly deduced Amarwen’s purpose. The shieldmaiden stooped to collect them up and held them out to her. With some difficulty, Amarwen managed to untangle her son to wrap him in part of Aldamir’s cloak. His little face peeked out from its folds, aghast and horrified at what was happening.

Helda freed a long knife from her belt and held it out to her. ”I presume you still know what to do with this?”

“Had I forgotten your instruction, I’d not be standing before you now,”
Amarwen replied as she tucked the knife into her belt.

”I only wish I’d taught you what to do with a sword,” the shieldmaiden remarked as Amarwen deposited the palantír into a small satchel that she looped across her body. Lastly, Amarwen wrapped what remained of Aldamir’s cloak about her shoulders and picked her son up to rest on her hip.

”How do we do this?” she asked.

At this, Helda flashed her a brief grin. ”There’s a reason Aldamir chose these rooms,” she replied and soon Amarwen discovered what the woman referred to. And how she’d managed to appear out of thin air.

In Aldamir’s rooms there was a concealed entrance in one of the walls. To this, Helda led her charges and soon they were padding through the darkness with a shieldmaiden muttering to herself in Rhovanion ahead. Though it seemed to Amarwen that they were lost somewhere in the bowels of the citadel, Helda found the way instead to the new gardens that had been planted.

Through them they raced, for there was no cover to be had there and then they started to climb the slopes of Mindolluin in hopes of eluding their attackers.

Yet those that pursued them were desperate. With nothing to be gained and everything to be lost, they were not inclined to simply allow this prize to slip through their grasp. Thus, through the night there was no rest to be had and it was only through cunning and fortune that Helda was able to keep them ahead of their attackers.

That lead diminished, for Amarwen carried little Mindacil with her until ultimately, they found themselves forced to consider meeting their attackers.


”Halt! There is no escape that way unless your deaths you seek.”

It was not yet dawn and they had gained no rest nor surcease. Helda spat a curse as they turned and sure enough, on the trail below them, three men stood. All had swords in hand and one held a torch aloft. The wind made it dance wildly against the black, pre-dawn sky.

”Give us the stone and we will spare the child.”

Mindacil’s little body shuddered against Amarwen’s own. He was terrified, as indeed was she. There was no way off this mountain. If their pursuers did not kill them, the mountain surely would.

”They lie,” Helda hissed in her ear.

”I know,” Amarwen murmured as she tightened her hold on her son.

”How much will you sacrifice, Lady? Your parents, your daughter...your husband in battle. Do you know his fate? And now, your son. For what?”

Amarwen crouched to set her son down. Mindacil whimpered for he did not wish to let go. She unhooked the satchel and gave it to her son. Slowly Amarwen stood to her full height and drew the long knife Helda had given to her.

“Take Pip and protect him, Helda. Bring him to his father or, failing that, Prince Aldamir.”

“You can’t take three men with nowt but a long knife!”

“I had a very good teacher,”
Amarwen said, adjusting her grip. ”And this trail is narrow. Too narrow for three men to stand abreast.”

At this, the shieldmaiden grunted. It was an astute observation.

”I will only slow you down. We both know this.” Amarwen continued. ”You can defend Pip and the stone in ways I cannot.”

“You go and allow me to stay,”
Helda countered.

”If they get past you, I will not be able to stop them. I can, however, slow them down.”

Helda stared at Amarwen and saw that the woman was immoveable. Pip clutched at his mother. Growling, Helda unlimbered a spear and sent it whistling towards their assailants.

”Evens the odds,” she said before she bent down to scoop Mindacil up and sprinted further up the trail and out of sight.

Helda’s spear had sent one man screaming over the side of the mountain. The remaining two remained in place. There were no more negotiations to be had. Protect the Palantír at all costs had been her instruction. A duty given to her and her alone. And Sarael had been her mistake. Hopefully one that did not swing the war back in Castimir's favour. The man holding the torch cast it down and Amarwen gathered herself.

Further up, Helda paused at the sound of a terrible cry that came from below. She was torn. Amarwen was no shieldmaiden and perhaps there was another option provided she could find a way to hide the boy and his prize. The shieldmaiden searched frantically for somewhere suitable. She found a notch between two large rocks that she stuffed the boy into. With stern instructions to remain there, Helda raced back down the mountain trail with her heart in her mouth.

Stones skittered from her boots as she sprinted. Just as well it was too dark to see down, Helda told herself as she careened lower and lower. Her foot caught on something lying across the trail and sent her sprawling with an oath. She collided into something else. A man. Over her another crawled. Amarwen, Helda realised with a start as she tried to untangle herself. By the time Helda righted herself and turned back, Amarwen was a dark shape atop the prone man. And all she could hear was the woman softly grunting with each fall of her long knife.

Carefully, Helda reached and caught Amarwen’s arm. ”It is done,” she said even as Amarwen strained to release herself. ”Amarwen, it is done.”

The noblewoman shuddered and then sagged. Helda carefully removed the blood slicked knife from Amarwen’s grip and pulled her back. Dawn had just started to break. In the murky light, Helda could see what she had first tripped over. The other man lay sprawled on his stomach. At their feet, the other man that she had found Amarwen stabbing. Amarwen herself was coated in blood. No shieldmaiden, Helda amended, but a mother defending her child was not to be underestimated.

She gathered Amarwen up to push her past the bodies and up the trail again. ”Let’s get Pip,” Helda said and this seemed to pull Amarwen along.

With Mindacil and the palantír retrieved, Helda watched Amarwen sink to the ground and clutch her son to her. The pair were a frightful sight to behold. The shieldmaiden weighed her options. Aside from the three men that had pursued them, there appeared to be no others. She knew Sarael to be dead for hers had been the hand to fell her. It was Sarael’s blood that Mindacil wore.

If Sarael was their leader, their options now were slim. They had failed to capture the palantír and once a cordon was established, hopefully on the fifth level as she had hastily ordered before seeking Amarwen out, any remaining would soon be mopped up.

Still, Helda was not so confident as to be sure that returning to the citadel now was advisable. There was one place and one place only that the shieldmaiden could be certain of at this point in time, presuming Eldacar had prevailed. Her decision made, Helda pulled Amarwen to her feet.

”Come on. Let’s get off this cursed mountain,” she said. Amarwen said nothing. She had retreated into herself. Helda sighed at this and set off, leading them to what she hoped would prove to be safety.

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 Post subject: Re: Kin - Strife of Gondor: III 1436 onwards
PostPosted: December 30th, 2019, 3:28 am 
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Pelargir

The first part of their mission worked well and when the front collapsed, Halvarin and Michas gathered their small team and found Castamirian uniforms to wear to carry out their next objective: take one of the river ships to Pelargir and weaken their foes however they might accomplish. Managing to get one such boat ready, they covered by recruiting some more Gondorians that had come to fight nearby. Once they were underway, they made the best attempt to appear as Castamirians, and they headed north to Pelargir to infiltrate the defences.

The rush of retreating Castamirians covered their approach well as it seemed that chaos had ensued at the port with the spreading news of Castamir’s death at the hands of Eldacar. Halvarin and his men were able to dock without a check and disembark into the old quarter without so much as a glance. People were scrambling, fleeing for whatever safety they might find. Halvarin led them to a tenement that he knew. He would either find Kerina still there or someone else. There was nobody. In fact the whole block seemed to be deserted but for some poor starving souls. Halvarin shook his head. He hoped that Gondor would again arise above this hurtful poverty.

The confusion would not last indefinitely, as Halvarin well knew. There was no time to linger if they hoped to make full use of the chaos around them. It would not be long before the sons of Castamir would organise defences and restore some semblance of order. Halvarin did want to try to infiltrate the main Guildhouse. That was folly, for he been listed as a supporter of Eldacar. Instead, he set a more achievable and useful target: the burning of the quays.

After three days they had sabotaged seven ships and destroyed three caches of food stores. But the sons of Castamir were quick in regaining their resolve in the wake of their father’s death. With the fearsome Umbar Legion, it was clear that the time had come to quit.

Their plan was to ferry across to the western shore in the early hours, but Halvarin, Michas, and the men could not find a way to do so without being detected. What a difference three days makes. The chaos and panic that had allowed them in had all but evaporated now. Pelargir was fast becoming ever-tightening fortress.

”We’ll have to split up.” Michas said. Smaller parties will have a better chance. We’ll go six each.”

Halvarin agreed and silently he tapped five men to accompany him back into the old quarter. Michas set out south to where a supply boat was going to the mainland. A few hours later, Halvarin found himself with his men on the east side of the Anduin. They had managed to get across undetected, but the walls were held tight against a Gondorian army of Eldacar. They had to wait until the next night before they found a way out. Killing a guard by an old rubbish gate, they managed to slip out quietly. Halvarin and another man sat the dead guard down and propped him up with his sword, so it looked like he was upright. The ruse would not endure close scrutiny but it was the best they could do.

Once they were outside the walks of Pelargir, they made their way east. ”Unhh..” Halvarin groaned.

He fell onto his back. An arrow sailed through the night embedding itself in Halvarin’s right shoulder, and soon many more came.
“Hail armies of Eldacar! Eldacar is King!” a man cried out with his hands up before he was felled. Thus was the true horror of this strife. For foe could be friend and not.

Vilmaith heard the commotion and hastened forward to the position. The commander said, “Raiders have slipped out!” To her, however, the voices of these supposed raiders did not sound as they should.

Vilmaith called an immediate cease to firing. ”Send men out to help them!” she commended and so men came out to gather up the wounded.

Once they were safely within their own lines, Halvarin soon discovered that of his six men, one had perished and a further three were wounded, including himself.

They were taken to a busy tent, filled with the wounded and harried, overstretched healers. As he was tended, Vilmaith lingered.

”I apologise, Lord Commander. We did not recognise you swiftly enough and our foes have raid our lines regularly.”

Halvarin waved this aside as he struggled to sit. ”Castamir may have fallen, but his sons prepare for siege. We destroyed much of their stores and damaged several ships yet Pelargir’s defences are considerable.. I must get word to Eldacar”

Michas and his band fared well to get to the west, but as they made their run for the Eldacarian lines, an arrow struck Michas in the back and pierced his heart. He fell as the rest of his men made it to safety. The siege of Pelargir had begun.

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 Post subject: Re: Kin - Strife of Gondor: III 1436 onwards
PostPosted: December 30th, 2019, 3:35 am 
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Minas Anor

A day passed before Helda found a way off the mountain whilst avoiding Minas Anor. They were, all of them, utterly spent. Amarwen had said nothing at all. Her son was worrisomely listless. Helda knew that if she did not sleep soon, she’d simply fall where she stood. And so, she took the nearest shelter to hand. The trio passed a solemn night in a livestock shelter, disused in summer months when the weather was more benign.

Helda was the first to rise in the early morning and when she did so, she took sober stock of their predicament. They’d be out of water by midday and they had no food or coin. No horses or means of travel save by foot. Her own boots were serviceable enough but she could see that their time on the mountain had taken a heavy toll on the shoes of Amarwen and Mindacil. Additionally, the state of their clothing was not made to withstand the hard use it had seen. They were, in short, in no fit state to travel anywhere of any significant distance and Helda was not sure just where Eldacar’s forces were aside from somewhere to the south.

She eyed the leather satchel that was still looped around Amarwen. In her sleep, she had pushed to her back and Helda could see the shape of the orb within. She wondered if it might serve her. She had no Gondorian blood to speak of but she was not sure the Elvish sorcery cared overly much about such concerns. Almost as if she sensed Helda’s scrutiny, Amarwen stirred. The noblewoman rolled to her back, blinking at the weathered timbers over head.

Helda shifted her weight and the creak of her boots drew Amarwen’s attention. She returned Amarwen’s gaze, wondering just state what the woman was in now. A woman that she had encountered years before. Little more than a beautiful, sheltered flower she had been then. Outmatched, overwhelmed and appalled to her delicate core that the world was a harder, crueller place than she might like it to be. Aldamir, though, had perceived her potential. That had been years ago and the woman that gazed at her now was much changed.

Stiff after a night of sleeping on the hard earth, Amarwen winced as she pushed herself upright. ”We have to go back,” she said, her first words in over a day.

Helda scowled at the notion. ”We have no way of knowing whether the city is safe.”

Amarwen pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes. ”In hindsight, I should not have sent those reinforcements.”

The shieldmaiden grunted at that and crouched. She gestured to the satchel Amarwen wore. Amarwen pulled at the strap, reluctant. She eyed the satchel hard. Helda pressed, ”I will not return you to the city if it has been taken.”

“I cannot not turn my back on a city I was charged to watch over!”

“Use the cursed thing!”


Amarwen glared at Helda and muttered something in Elvish that sounded like some sort of curse. She pulled the darkened orb from its satchel and heaved a deep sigh. Then she closed her eyes.

Helda stared at this, curious to see what happened for she had not observed its use before. Yet, for all of her attention, nothing much seemed to be happening at all. The orb did not light up. There was no surge of wind. Amarwen simply sat with it in her hands, eyes closed. After a reasonable span, she lowered the orb to her lap and opened her eyes.

”Your cordon worked. There is a small band holding out in the Lord Commander’s residence. They are well contained.”

“And Eldacar?”

“His banner stands and he has not changed position. That is all I could see.”


Amarwen’s voice had lost what little colour she had woken with. Helda frowned at the orb, wondering just what the cost of its use was. As she straightened to her feet, Amarwen swiftly tucked the palantír away again. She seemed almost eager to be rid of it.

”The city it is, then,” Helda said, relieved insofar as that was concerned. Amarwen woke her son and lifted him to her hip again. Whilst small, the child was not an insignificant weight to bear for a sustained period of time.

”Do you wish me to carry him?” the shieldmaiden asked. Pip clutched at his mother and buried his face into her shoulder.

”No,” Amarwen replied and so the trio set out for Minas Anor.

In doing so, Helda took every effort to conceal themselves from those that passed had been made. The outcome of the battle was uncertain to her and it would not do to have a marauding band of Castimir’s supporters scoop Amarwen and the plantír up. Those they passed, however, were too concerned with their own troubles to pay two women and a child much heed.

By mid morning, a passing farmer espied them and kindly offered them a ride to the city’s gates. He chatted amiably and it became clear that the man thought Amarwen one of a number of the realm’s displaced citizens who was fortunate enough to have retained a protector. Given their shabby, worn appearance, Helda was content to have the man think her a mercenary. He was not the first Gondorian who had no understanding of Rhovanion and their ways and she had no appetite for further unpleasantness.

They gained Minas Anor’s gates just before midday much faster than if they had been forced to walk. The guards there immediately recognised Helda for what she was, much to the farmer’s surprise. It took them a moment, however, to identify Amarwen. If the farmer was surprised to have a shieldmaiden rattling about in his wagon, he was shocked to discover the Lady of Edhellond had been.

The guards immediately whisked them off and into the nearest garrison house at the city’s gates. It emerged that the city’s soldiers had been searching for them with increasing consternation and so Helda had the garrison officer immediately send word that they had been located.

”Food, water, a bath and rest,” Helda then demanded as they were ushered through the barracks and past curious soldiers. ”Not necessarily in that order. A healer too, if one can be gotten down here. That boy...”

“At once, Shieldmaiden.”

“And his mother!”
she called as Amarwen and Mindacil were herded out of sight.

She heard a door close and she was on her own. Helda turned about to consider the few men that had been in the barracks upon their arrival.

”How did you get off that mountain?” one asked.

Helda waved the question off as she appropriated the nearest bunk. She sank onto it with a weary sigh and threw an arm across her eyes.

”We flew,” she muttered through a cracking yawn and was soon asleep.

Late afternoon found Helda blinking awake, still in the barracks. There was a great din going on which proved to be a very weary messenger.

”And I am telling you that I must speak with her at once,” he snapped. ”I cannot dally here on the city’s doorstep!”

The shieldmaiden rolled to her feet, a curious sight given the barracks she stood in. The messenger blinked at her. ”You! You will take me to Lady Amarwen at once!”

Helda opened her mouth to respond just as the door she had last seen Amarwen vanish through opened. The noblewoman emerged, hair still wet and recently combed. They’d found her clean clothing and her general state was much improved. She was still weary though. The palantír, she guessed.

The messenger, flummoxed again, recovered enough to execute something that could have been a bow if the man was not already so weary he could barely stand.

”Forgive me, your Grace.”

“You have tidings from the King?”
Amarwen inquired. The man nodded and Amarwen gestured at the man to follow her back through the door and once again, it closed.

Helda scratched at a braid. She had grit and stone dust all through her hair and it itched horribly. ”Wonder what that’s about, then,” she murmured to herself. Whatever it was, it was brief for soon the messenger and Amarwen reappeared.

Amarwen addressed the garrison commander. ”See this man is as well cared for as I was. He will return to the lines as soon as he is able.”

“Very good, your Grace,”
the officer said.

”Has there been any change regarding the Lord Commander’s residence?”

“No. All is in hand, of course, but they are quite dug in.”


Amarwen’s eyes narrowed as she considered. ”Then let it be known throughout the city that the usurper and tyrant, Castimir, has fallen. Slain in battle by the true and rightful King. Long may Eldacar reign.”

Helda could not help herself. She threw back her head and laughed for this surely meant that this war was at an end. It was over. Her laughter broke the shocked silence and soon men could be heard cheering, laughing, singing.

Amarwen’s expression, though, was strangely impassive. Unmoved, almost, which was hard to believe given the terrible things this war had brought to her. Helda wiped tears of joy aside as she studied this but before she could ask, Amarwen returned back through the door.

As jubilation spread through the garrison and into the city itself, the shieldmaiden followed Amarwen.

”That is not the whole of it, is it?” she asked as she located the noblewoman again.

Amarwen bent over her sleeping son and adjusted the covers. ”It is enough, perhaps, to inspire those fools currently holed up to cast down their swords.”

“Is any of it true?”

“Yes. Castimir is dead. His forces have largely capitulated or been taken captive. Which reminds me, I want any lingering traitors captured.”


Amarwen turned to consider Helda, her expression grave. The shieldmaiden peered at her wide, grey eyes. ”What are you not saying?”

“It is not mine to tell, Helda. Will you see to what I have asked? I will understand if I must task another with this.”

“I will see it done, your Grace,”
Helda replied and set about this undertaking.

And come the morning, whilst the city rejoiced still, the messenger Eldacar had sent north raced south with a brief report.

Quote:
A small, determined, band of traitors attempted and failed to take the Palantír. They have been contained and will be captured should they allow it. Tidings of the tyrant’s death may prompt them to abandon their futile course.

I will send additional reinforcements south now that the chief peril has passed. I will also send word to Dol Amroth and Edhellond of the usurper’s defeat.

Minas Anor stands ready to welcome its King.

I beseech you, Sire, for word on a personal matter. What is the fate of my husband, Halvarin of Pelargir?

_________________
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 Post subject: Re: Kin - Strife of Gondor: III 1436 onwards
PostPosted: December 30th, 2019, 5:42 am 
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Triumphant was the return of Eldacar to Minas Anor. The city rejoiced at the banishment of a spectre that had gripped them for a decade. Citizens lined the streets, laughing and cheering and singing. Flowers were thrown before Eldacar’s retinue. The city’s taverns and inns were filled with revellers, giddy in their liberation from Castimir the Tyrant. And waiting in the forecourt of the citadel atop the White City’s shining tiers stood Amarwen of Edhellond. Aside from the cuirass, she stood in noble splendour along with the various knights that remained still in the city.

Amarwen’s heart was in her throat and her palms were slick with sweat. There had been no word from Eldacar as to her husband’s fate and as the King’s escort came at last into view, she could not see Halvarin amongst the riders. Or Michas. The battle worn state of their clean armour she saw, however, made one thing clear. This victory had been hard won, at great cost that she herself had beheld even from this distance. Yet, still the palantír denied her any sight of her beloved husband.

Dismayed by Halvain’s continued absence, Amarwen’s excitement soured in her belly as she curtsied before her king. Eldacar swung down from his saddle and acknowledged, first, the Knights that flanked her. Each saluted crisply, heads held high, and then the King came forward. He reached out a hand which Amarwen kissed, a symbol of fealty, and then he lifted her to her feet again. The king lightly kissed each cheek and then her brow, her hand clasped firmly within his.

”The city and its Palantír are yours, your Majesty.” Amarwen said, anxious to get through the formalities.

”And gladly do I accept both. You have done well, my Lady. We are now, and will remain, forever in your debt,” Eldacar replied and passed her hand to his son.

Aldamir raised her hand to his lips, his green eyes intent upon her own. ”Come,” the Crown Prince said as he lowered her hand again. ”There is much yet to discuss.”

And so, once again, Amarwen found herself in the war room. Gone was the map of southern Gondor’s terrain. It had been replaced by a detailed chart of the city of Pelargir. Over it, the commanders that had ventured back with the king debated on what was to be done.

Amarwen, though, had no appetite for any talk of siege. She stood at the window, gazing at the river, her thoughts elsewhere. Where was Halvarin? It was all she could think of.

”We are at an impasse. Surely, you have something to say on the matter, your Grace.”

She turned at this to regard the King. Did he not know or was he holding something back from her? Eldacar gestured at the map and Amarwen marshalled her thoughts, such as they were, to address the council gathered.

”Our forces are weary and any action we might take is likely to cause heavy casualties. Most of them civilian. This, I think, is why his sons have taken shelter there. They know we will hesitate where their father would not.”

“There. The impasse is broken,”
declared a hatchet nosed man of middle years. ”To hesitate now is to play into their hands. Even the Lady of Edhellond can see it.”

“If the Lord of Anorien thinks I advocate for breaking the siege by force, then perhaps I have not been clear enough,”
Amarwen interjected. ”Our objective, lords, is not victory but peace! A peace we will never have if we set to the tyrant’s slaughter.”

At this, the Lord of Anorien and good number of others scowled. One, the Lord of Lebannin jabbed at the map where a number of buildings had been marked. Each were known supply caches, a number of them established by Amarwen herself.

”If the assessment of the city’s resources is accurate and I have no reason to believe otherwise, Pelargir can hold out for months...with hard rationing, a year if not longer. We have endured this cursed war for ten years. We can end it and we are obliged, for all those fallen, to do so.”

“And in doing so, sow the seeds for the next one,”
Amarwen replied. ”Surely, we can wait a little longer for a peace that endures.”

The Lords of Anorien and Lebannin eyed Amarwen for a long moment. ”It strikes me, Lady, that your counsel is quite strange given your husband’s fate.”

Amarwen’s hand tightened on the window’s balustrade for a moment and then she pressed forward. ”Explain yourself. At once!”

The Lord of Lebannin turned to where Eldacar stood with his son and grandson. Both Aldamir and Vinyarion looked pained.

”Where is Halvarin of Pelargir?” she nearly shouted, her patience snapped.

Eldacar considered her for a long moment. ”Reports conflict, your Grace. There is much still to be confirmed.”

“He’s in that damn city,”
the Lord of Anorien stated. ”And so, Lady, what now is your counsel?”

All she could do was stare at the map. If Halvarin was in the city, he’d be trapped there until the city rose up to end its siege. It was a perilous position indeed. One he’d have to survive for months, if not a year. Her heart ached in her chest. She loved Halvarin deeply...but she could not set his life above lasting peace for the realm. And so, Amarwen was forced to make a terrible decision and one that she knew she would likely never forgive herself for.

”My counsel remains unchanged,” she whispered, voice hoarse with emotion.

Prince Vinyarion shook his head and murmured to his father. ”You know, of course, what she will do now.”

Troubled, Aldamir nodded. ”She will have to be stopped.”

“Ha,”
Vinyarion returned, not in the least confident such a feat was possible.

”The matter, then, is decided. We will show restraint and allow Pelargir to determine its own fate,” Eldacar declared.

One by one, the council quit the war room until only Amarwen remained with the King and the Crown Prince.

”I regret I have not more to hand to tell you,” Eldacar said. ”I know how you must yearn to know.”

“What is known?”
she asked, voice low and fists clenched in her skirts.

At this, the king looked to his son to answer.

”Halvarin accompanied Michas south, down the river. They were last sighted taking a boat north, towards Pelargir. Further word was not to hand. But, my Lady, if you think to seek him yourself...it is a foolhardy. The Legion of Umbar is with Castimir’s sons and they hold Pelargir. There is no way past them. Not even for you.”

“If you stop me, I will never forgive you. In any case, there is not a cell to be had in this city that I cannot find my way out of.”

“Consider,”
Aldamir countered, ”Your son.”

“My son,”
Amarwen echoed, voice remote and chilly. ”In time, my son will discover what I have done. How I dragged those I loved into this ruin. My parents. His sister. How I abandoned his father. And he will know his mother for what she is. A coward. Better,” she continued. ”That I had perished with my mother than this!”

“No! Never that,”
Aldamir countered, urgent.

Amarwen drew herself up and curtsied before King and Crown Prince alike. ”Your Majesties.”

The prince threw his father an imploring look as Amarwen turned about. The King shook his head.

”I have not given you leave to depart, your Grace.”

The look Amarwen turned on them next was nothing short of furious. She stopped, all the same.

”You may remain in Minas Anor or you may return to Edhellond. Those are your choices, Lady Amarwen. I trust you will choose wisely.”

Helda had to scramble out of the way to avoid Amarwen. The woman sprinted, skirts in her hand and a dire expression on her face, through the halls of the citadel. It was an expression the shieldmaiden had seen before. It usually accompanied a course of action that Amarwen was already regretting or soon would. Puzzled, the shieldmaiden weighed up the merit of pursuing her. Then she heard the sound of another running and soon, the Crown Prince came into view.

”Where is she?” he demanded, his voice ringing. Helda pointed and Aldamir cursed. Now, Helda simply had to follow.

She trotted along after Aldamir until she came to the rooms Amarwen had taken. Within, the prince was demanding to know the whereabouts of the Lady of Edhellond.

”We have not seen her Grace since this morning,” replied a baffled chamber maid.

Again, Aldamir cursed, startling the woman further.

”Stables,” he hissed and set off again. Sure enough, this is where they found their quarry.

As soon as she saw Aldamir, Amarwen threw the saddle she was carrying down between them.

”No, Al! No! I will not!”

“You cannot do this.”

“I will not leave him there! I can’t!”


Aldamir stepped around the saddle and Amarwen backed away, wary. To Helda’s eyes, the woman looked almost a little wild.

”I cannot let you do this, Ami,” the Crown Prince said, his voice carefully pitched and low.

Amarwen backed into the wall of the stables. Trapped. The only way out was through the Crown Prince. Helda was not sure if the woman would attempt it. Not after what she had seen on the mountain nearly two weeks ago.

”I will never forgive you!”

“A risk I must accept.”


When Amarwen bared her teeth at Aldamir, Helda drew out a spear.

”I will do this, whether you permit me or not. Get out of my way, Al. I have no desire to hurt you.”

“Nor I you,”
Helda sternly declared, ”But I will if I must. Stand down, your Grace.”

Helda watched Amarwen size her up. Aldamir edged closer again as the noblewoman’s hands closed into fists. She launched herself from the stable wall with astonishing speed. Aldamir, a seasoned warrior more than a little familiar with his current opponent, was ready for this. He caught Amarwen as she passed and wrapped his arms around her torso. The prince then lifted her, holding tightly as she kicked and struggled. Amarwen writhed mightily and this was the scene Prince Vinyarion discovered, puffing and cheeks red.

”What are you doing here?” Helda asked him plainly.

”I have further tidings,” Vinyarion replied, considering Amarwen carefully. ”Would you hear them?”

“At once!”
Prince Aldamir grunted, easing Amarwen back down to the stable floor.

“Halvarin has been found,”[/i] Vinyarion held up a hand as Amarwen whipped her head up. ” Injured, but alive.”

“Where is he?”
she demanded through her teeth.

“Under the care of healers. He is unable to travel.”

“Then I will go to him. How can you or the King gainsay me that?”[/i] Amarwen glared up at Aldamir.

The Crown Prince inclined his head. ”Indeed. Make your preparations, Lady, and we can be on our way this very day.”

Elsewhere in the citadel, the King sighed a short while later. ”This is welcome news.”

“Yes, father,”
Aldamir said quietly. ”I trust you have no objections to allow the Lady to travel to his side?”

“Of course not, provided she is escorted. It would not do to lose such an ally through complacency now.”

“Of course not,”
Aldamir replied, bowing to his father.

”Son,” the king called, halting him just before the door. ”I understand that this is...perhaps not the outcome you may have hoped for.”

“Only a scoundrel would hope for that.”

“Perhaps,”
his father said and allowed his son to leave.

When Amarwen sighted the crown prince striding across the forecourt before her, she scowled at him.

”No! Al! Not again!”

“Indeed,”
he observed. ”I am not here to obstruct you further.”

“No?”
she asked, wary as she considered him from the other side of her mount.

”No,” Aldamir confirmed. ”Rather, I would see you safely escorted to our lines.”

This only served to inflame Amarwen’s suspicion. ”Why?”

“Do you recall, perhaps, an oath I gave to you all those years ago?”
Amarwen was silent and so Aldamir continued. ”Before all else, I swore to keep you safe.”

He nodded to Amarwen, who had nothing further to say, and went inside to ready his own mount. In that time, Helda sidled up to her.

”Word of advice, your Grace? Do not come betwixt that prince and his honour. For he is as steadfast in it as, say, your love for your husband.”

They travelled swiftly, moving south at speed until they gained their lines. Once within, Amarwen pushed ahead, moving from one healer’s tent to another until she located her husband. The woman was, Aldamir thought to himself, relentless. He admired that singular focus of hers. The Crown Prince hung back so as not to intrude upon the reunion of husband and wife. Halvarin clasped her to him with no small degree of ferocity. Almost as if he had feared never holding her again.

Tender though this was, their banter was anything but.

”You should not be here,” Halvarin told her. ”You said you would wait.”

“Well you went and got yourself shot!”

“By one of our own, no less.”

“What? Who!”

“A misunderstanding, soon remedied. How fares the city and our son.”

“It has been difficult,”
Amarwen answered. ”But Pip is safe.”

“Safe, you say, but not well?”

“Are any of us, Hal? It will be some time before we heal from the ruin we wrought.”


Amarwen folded her arms around her husband and tucked her head under his chin. Halvarin closed his eyes. When he opened them again, he saw Aldamir leaning against a tent pole. Slowly, the man inclined his head. Gratitude. Aldamir returned the gesture and turned away. Nothing to be gained by pawing over what might have been, could have been, his.

He made for the command tent and issued the orders his father had decided upon.

”Above all else, restraint. Pull back beyond bow shot, watch and wait.”

“For how long?”

“As long as it takes,”
Aldamir said as he eyed the city walls ahead.

_________________
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 Post subject: Re: Kin - Strife of Gondor: III 1436 onwards
PostPosted: January 3rd, 2020, 4:53 am 
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Outside Pelargir

“No… none in Gondor are well… and it will be a very long time before much is healed…” Halvarin said as he thought of all the dead and maimed.

He embraced Amarwen and felt it had been way too long for them to have a moment such as this. A short discussion with Aldamir, however, briefly interrupted their reunion when he returned to the healer’s tent.

“Take this time,” he said. ”But know the King will have need of you both for his war council. You will be summoned when he is ready.”

Halvarin gave him a bow and the prince was swiftly away, other matters to see to. Alone again, and eager to avoid another interruption, Halvarin looked back to where Amarwen stood.

’There is really nowhere to go that is private my love, but we can walk. I have so missed you!” He wrapped his arms about her again and kissed her slow and gently. He flinched a little when he strained his shoulder. The two walked away from the medical tents arm-in-arm, for a moment of peace and calm.

As the evening grew near, Halvarin and Amarwen were summoned to the King’s command tent. Gathered there were all the generals and leaders of Eldacar’s court that were still fit for duty. The tent had a large table in the middle and maps of Pelargir and the surrounding terrain were on it. Eldacar looked strained and one could see the age lines around his eyes as he stood and looked grimly at the map. With a nod, Vinyarion called the meeting to order and the king stood up straight and started to pace around the table.

He looked grimly at the faces gathered and said, ”This has been a long hard fight going back as far as my father’s death and before. Here we stand, my kingship restored, yet the war is not over. We have won a significant victory, and we will prevail against those that have fled to Pelargir and there shelter.

“Our losses have been heavy. Weary though we be, I must now assign duties to each and every one of you so we remain strong!”


King Eldacar went on to lay out their short-term goals and name duties. He appointed Aldamir to oversee Gondor’s reconstruction. The Crown prince was to oversee rebuilding the realm’s much deteriorated infrastructure and restore the very machinery that kept a realm stable and prosperous.

Halvarin was named as Eldacar’s Master of Ships. In this role, he would marshal what ships remained in their possession. Most of the sea-going ships were in Pelargir with only a few moored in Edhellond and Dol Amroth. They had many of the low draft river ships and some of the coastal ships, but their naval strength was no match to what the Castamirians had in Pelargir, Umbar, and those on the High Seas.

Halvarin could not yet know what the loyalties of the individual captains were, but he had to assume they all would side with the Usurpers. He did know that some only barely favoured Castamir, and once they learn that he had perished, their loyalties to his sons would be tested if not non-existent. Yet, he deemed it unwise to count on that.

King Eldacar looked to Amarwen next for she stood at her husband’s shoulder. He glanced to Halvarin, then to Aldamir before returning his attention to Amarwen. By now, she had lifted a curious brow and yet no answer would be forthcoming.

“For you my lady,” the king said, ”I will discuss this privately before any announcement will be made.”

Halvarin looked to his wife and saw her calculating already. She inclined her head, ”Very good, Sire.”

This left Vinyarion. King Eldacar turned and looked at him and said, ”To you, Vinyarion, do I give the most difficult task. You will be the Field Commander over all the forces around Pelargir.”

He set his hand on his shoulder and looked him in the eye. He remembered how well Vinyarion did in the wargames they played when he was a child. His eye for not only tactics but also strategy was impressive, exceeding that of his father and even his uncle. Young though he was, Eldacar perceived that it would be Gondor’s youth to rebuild their realm. His decision declared, Eldacar prevailed upon his grandson to lay out his plans.

Vinyarion considered the maps before him. ”I appoint Vilmaith to command all armies east of the Anduin, reporting to me. This will ensure our forces are prepared for what may prove a long siege.

“A perimeter will be established, beyond the range of Pelargir’s trebuchets, manned first by those Lady Amarwen kindly dispatched to relieve us.”
Vinyarion nodded to where Amarwen stood but she remained impassive. He looked next to the commanders gathered. They were fatigued and the prospect of a long siege did not best please them.

”Those units that had seen the worst of the fighting will be given relief. Some of you will be assigned as reinforcements to Vilmaith who will assign you to the quiet vales of the upper reaches of the Poros River.” He pointed to the map and Vilmaith nodded, confirmation that the prince’s orders would be enforced.

Vinyarion pressed on. ”More men from Rhovanion will soon arrive from the north and Vilmaith will establish a fortified line along the Poros River from the Ephel Dúath to the Anduin. We will have to guard against Haradian attacks. The Umbar Legion is certain to attempt to break the siege once supplies run low enough.

“ Most of our strength will be encamped on the northwest side of the Fords of Poros with a small force set in positions on the southeast side. A strong screening force will watch the banks of the river in case they try to make a crossing somewhere else. The rest of the eastern army will be entrenched in an arc outside Pelargir.”


Vinyarion let his finger trace the Poros to the Anduin. There were few places any force of strength could cross swiftly. Vilmaith would ensure that none would. He took a few steps and put his finger on the on the west side of the Anduin, ”I will set a line around Pelargir, and we will build a makeshift road and a bridge over the River Sirith. This would allow our free movement outside the range of Pelargir. We will also look into diverting the Sirith as much as possible in hopes of supplying our armies with fresh water, depriving Pelargir in the process.”

Food caches were one thing. A lack of water, if possible, would hasten matters considerably. As the commanders stepped forth and considered at the maps for where they would be deployed, Vinyarion stepped over to pull Halvarin aside. He raked a hand through hair almost stiff with battle grime.

”We’re in it now, aren’t we?” Vinyarion observed, a faint whisper of his roguish youth emerging. Halvarin looked to his old friend and nodded. There was little else said between their weatherworn faces except a deep comradery. Their moment was only broken by King Eldacar as he spoke in closing.

”My friends and comrades, These years have taken its toll on all of us. Let us spare time for the lost. I hereby decree that burial grounds to be prepared to lay the dead to rest. We will remember those who perished in this long struggle, and be glad that they in death have found peace. Take time to mourn the lost.”

With his decree, barrows were made near Poros Crossing, the high downs by the confluence of the Celos and Tumladen rivers where they formed the River Sirith, and in Lossarnoch near the south side of Mindolluin. There, Gondorian and Northmen alike would be laid to rest memorialised for their sacrifice to uphold the true lineage of the crown of Gondor.

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 Post subject: Re: Kin - Strife of Gondor: III 1436 onwards
PostPosted: January 3rd, 2020, 5:38 am 
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It was nightfall as Halvarin slowly pushed back the canvas. He was fatigued following the King’s council for many had sought him out in light of his new position. Within, Amarwen stood with her back to the tent’s opening. She had divested herself of her field garb and stood in a soft, simple robe of translucent cotton.

It shifted with the breeze, flattening and billowing around the curve of her limbs. Her hair was unbound, a thick river of midnight that fell to the small of her back. In her hands was a bowl of was water. Steam rose from its surface. Amarwen looked past her shoulder to him.

”You do not wish to know what I had to do for this water.” She smiled at him and then looked to a cot that had been set nearby. ”Would be a shame to waste it.”

A breeze pushed through the canvas of the tent and peeled back her robe to bare a leg. Behind him, the jingle and stomp of a unit jogged by. Aware at how scarce privacy was in such settings, Halvarin shook himself from his reverie and pushed into the tent proper.

”Please sit, Master of Ships.”

The frame of the cot creaked as he sat upon it. Amarwen came forward with the water. She set the bowl upon the ground nearby and knelt between his knees. Then she took his face between her palms and studied his eyes for a long moment before she kissed him, softly. Gently. Instinct made him want to close his arms around her but the sharp pain in his right shoulders made him flinch.

”You must keep that shoulder still,” Amarwen chided. ”I promised the healers that you’d not burst your stitches.”

“Then stop making it so difficult,”
he replied, at which she kissed him again.

”You’ll just have to behave yourself, Halvarin,” Amarwen said, looking up through her lashes and smiling to herself.

She busied herself with removing his boots and for this Halvarin was grateful. One armed, dealing with boots was beyond him at this point. Amarwen set to work on his tunic next. With considerable care, she freed him from it. Amarwen paused, then, to study his bandaged shoulder. Her fingers whispered over his skin and he considered the long expanse of her throat. Before he could kiss it, though, Amarwen bent for the water and drew a cloth she had been soaking within it. She squeezed the water over his arm and began to bathe him.

It was almost hypnotic after a while. Amarwen worked slowly, diligently and thoroughly until he was stretched out and dozing. She smoothed his hair as he slipped deeper asleep. The following morning, he awoke to find himself alone and without a stitch of clothing.

It was not long before Amarwen returned, freshly folded garb in hand. She smiled at him as she ducked through, clad herself in something far more serviceable that the gown she had worn last night. He’d dreamed of that gown. He was sorry to see it had gone.

”How are you feeling, love?” Amarwen asked as she set the new clothing down.

”Better,” he said, reaching for her.

She read his intentions and wagged a finger at him instead. ”You are to rest, my love. No vigorous activity of any kind.”

“I have just the thing in mind, Ami,”
he smiled at her, suggestive.

Amarwen laughed. ”Two days. If you continue to improve at this rate, we can be on our way.”

“Has the King spoken with you?”
he asked, curious.

”Perhaps,” she replied, elusive. She turned away for the clothing she had set on the table.

”What is it he asks of you?”

Amarwen shook her head as she came towards him with trews in hand. ”This is for another time,” she declared, shaking the garment out.

”If you want me in those, I will have my answers,” Halvarin declared.

She peered at him. ”You’ll put these on or stride out of here naked.”

Halvarin shrugged. Amarwen canted her head to study him, muttered something in Elvish about mules, and sat on the cot beside him.

”A good number of Houses now scramble and reposition themselves now that they have capitulated to the King. The divisions, however, that created this war will be a long time in closing. If, indeed, they close at all.”

Halvarin frowned for a moment. ”He wants them watched.”

Amarwen nodded, ”Can you blame him? Never again can Gondor be reduced to civil war.”

Yet, for all of that, Halvarin heard hesitancy in her voice. He took her hands in his and gently rested his brow against her own.

”You are reluctant,” he said and Amarwen sighed heavily.

”This war has hung over our heads since...since the moment I set out for Osgiliath with my father. And then there is Mindacil. He does not know what a childhood is!”

“Then refuse the King. I am sure, given all you have done, they cannot refuse to grant your request to be released. Another can take up this task. Sarael...


Halvarin paused as Amarwen drew in a shivering breath. She turned away, hands pressed now between her knees. ”Sarael...betrayed us.”

All he could was stare. Amarwen wiped a hand over her face. ”She was the traitor, Hal. Right under my nose. All those years.”

“What happened?”
he asked, voice low and so she told him.

”She made her move once you had deployed south. She took Mindacil, made a play for the Palantír. Had it not been for Helda...” Amarwen shuddered as she recalled how close it had been.

Gently, Halvarin pulled her to his left shoulder. In time, he said, ”You will decide as you think best, my love.”

Elsewhere in camp, Aldamir sat with his father in the king’s tent. ”Master of Ships and Mistress of Spies, husband and wife. Is that wise?”

“You doubt their loyalty?”
Eldacar replied.

Aldamir shook his head. ”Of course not. History, though, is a cruel mistress and we have seen what happens when a Master of Ships rises too far.”

“Indeed,”
the King said, considering his son. ”Or is it, perhaps, something else entirely.”

“Such as?”

“Son, you imagine yourself more discreet than you are. I know what hangs in your room. And I have seen-“

“Nothing. You have seen nothing.”

“She is more than that to you.”


Cursing inwardly, Aldamir rose from his chair to pace. ”I loved her, Father. Was that not what I was to do? Surrendering her was...but surrender her I did. And that is an end to it!”

“I cannot afford still more division in my court,”
Eldacar warned. Aldamir lifted his gaze to his father’s.

”You will not have it, your Majesty. Not from me nor by any action I take,” the prince replied. Aldamir wiped a hand over his face.

The king nodded. ”She would have made a fine Queen,” he said.

Aldamir nodded. ”Yes. And a fine Mistress of Spies she will make.”


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Halvarin had fallen to dozing but he stirred, on dusk, as Amarwen pushed into the tent.

”I did not mean to wake you,” she said as he slowly rolled upright.

”You have spoken with Eldacar?” he asked, rubbing sleep from his eyes.

”I have,” Amarwen said, setting down a tray with what he presumed was dinner. His stomach growled in anticipation. ”I am to be his special Envoy.”

“Hmph.”
Halvarin replied as she lifted the cloth over the tray. ”What does that mean?”

Amarwen looked over her should at him. ”It means that Gondor will not accept a woman as a Steward unless it really, really has to. And in any case, it is sufficiently vague.” She turned, plate in hand. ”Can you manage this with one hand?”

“That,”
he replied, grinning as he considered her. ”And a good deal more.”

A matter of days later, Gondor’s new Master of Ships set out with Gondor’s special Envoy to accompany the King and his son to Minas Anor. There they tarried, lingering as long as it took to get through the various formalities of Eldacar’s new court. There was the coronation, of course, and the reconstitution of Eldacar's court and Council. Filled with a good number of newly repentant nobles, all of them under the careful scrutiny of Gondor's Envoy.

Anxious to see what had been preserved by way of ocean going vessels, Gondor's Master of Ships soon set off overland for the long journey back to Edhellond.

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 Post subject: Re: Kin - Strife of Gondor: III 1436 onwards
PostPosted: January 3rd, 2020, 6:12 am 
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So ends our tale of Gondor’s Kin-Strife. A tale of grief, betrayal and sacrifice. A tale of courage, loyalty and above all else, love.

King Eldacar lived to be 290 years old, despite fears that his father’s marriage had diminished his offspring. His son, Aldamir, succeed his father in the year 1490. Ever the warrior prince, Aldamir fell in battle in 1540. His reign was brief, ended by the very strife that had seen his elder brother fall and pass the mantle of Crown Prince to him. The ill-will that engendered the Kin-Strife lingered between its factions, never to be extinguished.

Yet, whilst Gondor would never recover the vaunted spirit inherited from Númenor, much of her military might recovered. Under the kingship of Aldamir’s son, Hyarmendacil II, victory was at last won over Umbar in 1551. Finally, then, did Halvarin and Amarwen lay down their duties. This time, for good. They retired, fading into obscurity and grateful for it.

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