Eyes of the Blind Night
Beneath destroying flames of Light overthrown
Remain echoes of a Spring to mortals unknown
A paradise lost where Sun or Moon were born
The waters of its life run in secret veins by evil yet unshom
In Fuinur’s hall the fates of North and South are bound
In that place it may be found
Aldarion’s Karma, the grace that binds
yet in another’s hands, of what will it become the Sign?
Before this realm you will find no Death
For the streams of Ulmo will be your breath
But let those who enter beware
Lest with Fuinur and his court they be ensnared
Into the Abyss hurled
And sleep forever at the navel of the World
Chris Seeman: PO Box 1213, Novate, CA 94948, USA
This adventure was first assembled in the summer of 1992 for play-testing at the annual gathering of the Oxford Tolkien Society on a lonely isle in the Bristol Channel. In its current form, it was conceived as support material for The Kin-strife module, now in its final stage of preparation. In essence, it is a development and concretization of the views set form in the article “A Journey in the Dark” (OH 3: 13 – 18), though the figure of Berúthiel appears only as part of its background.
The adventure, set in Gondor just two years after the conclusion of the Kin-strife, turns upon the culmination of a Sauronic plot to destroy the royal house, and to install upon the throne a pretender secretly subject to the Dark Lord’s will. It is written from the perspective of a group of player-characters attempting to uncover and hinder this design, a quest that will involve travel to settings as diverse as Orthanc, Pelargir, Umbar, and Far Harad. In their struggles to thwart the Necromancer’s evil purposes, the characters will begin to unlock the mystery of Queen Berúthiel and her cats.
Considerations of space have necessitated compressing the extant material for the adventure. NPC stats have been omitted, and the encounters are often presented only in outline. As a consolation, I have tried to include as many illustrations and player-character handouts as I was able. These will hopefully compensate for the other absences by maintaining the atmosphere and texture of the game.
Much of the background for this adventure is already laid out in “The cult of Benish Armon” article in this issue, which covers the legacy of the Kuilëondo and Queen Berúthiel’s lineage down through the beginning of the Usurper’s reign (TA 1437 – 1447). This adventure resumes that tale as it might have developed by the year 1450, two years after the siege of Pelargir and the establishment of Umbar as an independent lordship by Castamir’s family and followers.
A particular course of prior events is presumed by this adventure, events which might have turned out otherwise had the gamemaster already run a group of players through the adventures in the Kin-strife module pertaining to Benish Armon. In that case, much of the plot of this adventure may require some alteration, although certain aspects of it (notably Fuinur’s Well) will retain their validity as they are.
The end of the Kin-strife
In the year 1447, at the Crossings of the River Erui, the rightful heir to the throne of Gondor slew Castamir the Usurper, ending a ten-year reign of tyranny. Castamir’s followers fled before the host of the returning King Eldacar and shut themselves within the walls of Pelargir. A year-long siege ensued; but at the last, the rebels were forced to abandon the haven and withdraw with their fleets to the sanctuary of Umbar in the south. The true Kin-strife had only begun.
Eldacar had not sat long upon the throne when the rebels, led by Castamir’s descendants, began ravaging the coasts of Gondor, reaping a bitter bounty for their reversal of fortune. The King had no hopes of retaking Umbar as long as the rebels held the power of the fleets, but neither could these corsairs hope to depose Eldacar while he had the friendship of the Northmen; for many of these had settled in Gondor at the King’s invitation, thereby strengthening the divided power of the South-kingdom by land. By 1450, it has become clear to all in Gondor that a stalemate has been reached; but things look different to those in Umbar.
Stasis in Umbar
Although the rebels are at one in their cause to regain their homeland from the half-Northman Eldacar, they are by no means in agreement over the matter of leadership. Castamir’s firstborn son and chosen heir Castaher assumed temporary leadership over his father’s forces during the retreat to Umbar; but, after two years of exile, it is doubtful that they can hope for a swift recovery of the South-kingdom, and many of his captains are less content with Castaher’s rule than with his father’s. Matters were complicated when Castaher perished in a mysterious fire at his residence in Umbar.
A polarization of loyalties has taken place in the wake of Castaher’s untimely demise. His younger brother Castarion is too weak-willed to hold the captains to his will, and has become a pawn for the strongest among them — the Usurper’s cousin, Calimon, and Calimon’s father Morlaen. These captains rally around the figure of Castarion in opposition to the Usurper’s widow, Mûrabêth, who has assumed guardianship of her deceased son’s wife, Lóthriel, whose hand is now coveted by many power-hungry captains.
Castaher’s death was orchestrated by an old enemy of the Usurper, who now consorts with dark forces in the hope of gaining dominion over Umbar and, ultimately, of Gondor. Morlaen and Calimon secretly conspire with their former enemy and his allies, oblivious to their own peril in unwittingly allowing themselves to be counted in league with a minion of the Dark Lord. Only Castaher’s murderer knows the truth of the matter, but he has other plans.
The Usurper’s son was murdered by a man named Neithan (formerly Orodreth of Morthond and cousin to Castaher’s wife). Neithan is the son of the last Prince of Morthond and therefore the direct blood-descendant of Queen Berúthiel and King Tarannon. Now under the tutelage of the sorcerer Zimrakhil (namesake to the Black Númenórean prophet of Berúthiel’s time and ambassador to Umbar for the Southron Confederacy), Neithan prepares to meet what he believes is his destiny — the throne of Gondor.
In order for Neithan to attain the kingship in the wake of the Kin-strife, the existing royal house must either be annihilated or brought to the brink of dissolution. Through the agency of the Kuilëondo, which is currently in Zimrakhil’s possession, this grim necessity may be effected.
But more is required of the would-be pretender. Others will press their claims to the succession and another bloody civil war may threaten, unless Neithan produces some indisputable emblem of his worthiness that will outshine all contenders. The reincorporation of Umbar into the realm may play a part in these plans; but much more crucial will be the acquisition of a hallowed artifact of ancient Númenor — the Karma of Aldarion.
Fuinur’s Well and the quest for the Karma
The Karma of Aldarion was passed dawn through the line of Imrazôr (Aldarion’s descendant who founded the haven of the Faithful in Pelargir during the Second Age) until it was stolen by Fuinur when the latter fled with his brother to Umbar in S.A. 3320. From there it accompanied the expatriate Dúnadan to his eternal resting place beneath the Mirror of Fire in Haradwaith. Neithan is aware of the Karma’s location in Fuinur’s Well, but he cannot pass the doors of Fuinur’s watery domain until he obtains the key which opens its doors.
The key to Fuinur’s Well is a circular, metallic tablet of interwoven silver. It functions not only as a key proper, but also as a navigational device designed to guide the seeker through a deadly gauntlet of perils. Without it, the desolation of the Mirror of Fire cannot be crossed, and Fuinur’s Well cannot be entered.
One further obstacle hinders Neithan’s acquisition of the Karma: the key is fragmented into three separate pieces, only one of which is currently in his possession. He murdered Castaher to get it. The second fragment is in the keeping of Castaher’s widow, Lóthriel, who is under Queen Mûrabêth’s protection in Umbar. The third fragment lies hidden in a secret vault somewhere inside the Hall of the Faithful in Pelargir. Both must somehow be recovered in order for Neithan to fulfill his destiny.
The cats and the plot to destroy the royal house
Zimrakhil has contrived a means of drawing upon the power of Tevildo’s thanes to eliminate Eldacar Vinitharya and all his household. In exchange for rendering this service, the sorcerer has promised the Prince of Cats release from his bondage to the Kuilëondo. The cult of Benish Armon, which was originally established by the cats as a cadre of human servants to aid them in their quest for freedom, was itself wiped out by the treacherous sorcerer’s machinations during the time of the Kin-strife. Tevildo must now bargain directly with Sauron’s emissary for his release.
Zimrakhil’s plan for using the cats pivots on their current inability to assume fana (due to their subjection to the Kuilëondo). The sorcerer has learned the Ethir ritual of summoning the cats away from Benish Armon through blood sacrifice, and he believes that the palantíri would in a similar way possess the capacity to guide the cats’ spirits to their royal targets in Gondor. Of course, in order to make use of the stones in this way, Zimrakhil must first manage to steal one of them — a presumptuous task, not to be taken lightly even by a sorcerer of Zimrakhil’s powers.
The plot to steal the Palantír
Although Neithan will not take part in the theft of the Palantír, his erstwhile political allies will. Lord Morlaen, the senior conspirator, knows about Neithan’s prior association with Benish Armon and, while he does not relish the thought of consorting with sorcerers and Maia-spirits, is nevertheless willing to lend his aid if Neithan’s friends prove themselves able to eliminate the hated Northman upstart and his family from the throne. Neither Morlaen nor any his co-conspirators, of course, is even remotely aware of the Karma, or of Neithan’s own claim to the throne. Instead, they view him as a tool for overturning Mûrabêth’s power and for recovering the throne of Gondor for themselves.
With the loss of the Master-stone of Osgiliath in 1437, the South-kingdom holds only three of the lesser Palantíri — two at Minas Anor and Minas Ithil, and one at Orthanc. It is only by virtue of Angrenost’s peripheral location that Zimrakhil is able to conceive of carrying off the Orthanc-stone from what is arguably the strongest fortress in Middle-earth. Once in possession of the stone, Zimrakhil will have it brought to Benish Armon, from which Tevildo’s thanes will be directed by the far-seeing Palantír to strike at the King and his family.
In order to wrest the Orthanc-stone from its tower, however, Zimrakhil must first journey to the Gap of Calenardhon. The sorcerer will accompany Morlaen and Calimon on an ostensibly diplomatic mission to Tharbad, from which he will disembark with his brother and fellow namesake, Belphegor. From Tharbad, the two sorcerers will ride through Enedwaith to the Fords of Angren; and in the foothills of the Angrenost-vale they will await the night of the black moon (which falls on Loëndë).
On that night, Zimrakhil will draw upon the Kuilëondo’s power to summon Nenduhir, the storm-spirit which the original Zimrakhil used to waylay Berúthiel’s ship in T.A. 830. This storm (unusual for mid-summer) will shroud the entire Gap — from Methedras to Aglarond — in impenetrable darkness. Which will make it impossible for the sister-stones of Ithil and Anor to view what takes place there.
On that same night, Zimrakhil and Belphegor will ride to the gates of Angrenost, and cast upon them a spell of destruction (again drawing upon the vast reservoir of power stored within the Kuilëondo by innumerable sacrifices). Following this demonstration of the Kuilëondo’s awesome destructive power, Zimrakhil will display the jewel before the faces of any who offer them resistance, calling forth the Prince of Cats to reveal his naked visage which drives mortal eyes to madness.
Before proceeding to the spire of Orthanc, the two sorcerers will slay the Warden of Angrenost, taking from him the key to the doors of Orthanc. Offering up the Warden’s body as a blood-sacrifice, one of Tevildo’s thanes will be summoned from Benish Armon to infest and slay Edrahil, the Keeper of the Orthanc-stone, while they proceed to annihilate the tower garrison with the horror of the White Face. Having obtained the stone, the sorcerers will mount their steeds and ride with the wings of the storm back to Tharbad, while the garrisons of Angrenost and Aglarond are yet consumed by darkness and confusion.
The raid on Pelargir and the summoning at Benish Armon
From Tharbad, Calimon will bring the sorcerers with the Palantír and Kuilëondo to Ethir Anduin, where the Corsair fleet gathers for a raid upon Pelargir. Zimrakhil intends to use this raid as a cloak for his attempt to obtain the second artifact necessary to effect Neithan’s destiny — the third fragment of the key to Fuinur’s Well, which Eärnil hid within the Hall of the Faithful. As the Corsairs retreat back down the Anduin following the raid, Calimon will bring the sorcerers to Benish Armon in the Ethir.
At the ruins of Benish Armon are found canopic jars which contain the physical remains of the fana worn by the cats prior to their subjection by Berúthiel (vital components to the ritual of their release). Belphegor remains here with these jars and the Palantír, awaiting the next dark of the moon to initiate the attack on the King. Zimrakhil, however, returns to Umbar with the Kuilëondo and Tevildo’s canopic jar (for the Prince of Cats himself can only be freed within the precincts of the Temple of Melkor, whose foundations lie beneath Eärnil’s tower in Umbar). In addition, Belphegor will retain the Pelargir-fragment of the key to Fuinur’s Well (as surety for Neithan’s cooperation with their plan).
It is the intention of the sorcerer that Neithan should seek the final fragment of the key from his cousin Lóthriel in Umbar only after the success of the ritual at Benish Armon is confirmed with Belphegor’s safe return. As the South-kingdom falls into chaos as a result of the King’s infestation by the cats, Neithan will begin his journey to the Mirror of Fire in Haradwaith, to win for himself the Karma of Aldarion and so return to Gondor with the sign of salvation from its present confusion. This, at any rate, is the plan, not taking into account what obstacle the player-characters may pose to its completion.
The course of events
Although the player-characters may enter upon this adventure at any logical juncture, the progression of the plot is fairly linear — and will, in any case, be presented that way for convenience, assuming that the characters will begin at the beginning. The exact circumstances of the characters’ involvement are left unspecified, though some of the settings may require that they be close enough to King Eldacar’s counsel to warrant their direct involvement.
Perhaps the most convenient solution to getting the characters involved from the start is to have one of them play the royal seer of Minas Anor, who keeps watch over the Palantír there. This will lend an immediacy to the communication breakdown with the Orthanc-stone and provide a strong motivation to get to the bottom of things — the security of the realm is at stake! The King will need to entrust the key of Orthanc to someone when he decides to send the player-characters to investigate the problem, so this person might as well be one of the characters.
In the Kin-strife module, the Warden of the Anor-stone is Lórin, son of Edrahil and cousin to Neithan, Estel, and Lóthriel. This would add a dimension of familial concern and tension to the already rather desperate situation. The gamemaster should feel free to conjure up social and/or emotional ties between the player-characters and the NPCs as he or she sees fit for generating the proper atmosphere for the game.
The opening scene (Loëndë)
The characters are gathered together at Minas Anor on mid-year’s day for the Council of Gondor, which convenes during the King’s annual sojourn in his summer capital. The King’s arrival in Minas Anor is always seized upon as an occasion for important events, and this year is no exception. Prince Vidustain of far Rhovanion has journeyed to the Tower of the Sun to be confirmed in his patrimony by the King of Gondor. Vidustain is betrothed to Lady Terieth of Anórien, and their marriage is to be presided over by the King in one month’s time at Amon Hen.
As is his custom, King Eldacar marks his arrival in Minas Anor with a lavish celebration, to be held in the gardens of the Houses of Healing in the sixth circle of the city. All of the player-characters will be present at this event, at which they will have the opportunity to acquaint themselves with each other and with other members of the King’s court. If they are of high standing, the characters will be invited to enjoy the hospitality of the King’s House in the seventh and uppermost circle of Minas Anor.
A cry of distress
At some point during that night, one or more of the characters (especially the royal seer, if he is being played) will happen past the chamber where the Palantír is kept — the door, always securely locked, lies open. Inside, the Anor-stone rests on the floor of the room, tightly clutched by the arms of a young girl who lies shivering upon the stone floor, eyes wide with terror, oblivious to everything around her.
The young girl is Estel, daughter to the late Prince of Morthond (who perished in the Kin-strife). She has looked into the Palantír, and is in shock. She is clad only in her night-gown, drenched in cold sweat. She cannot be revived unless touched by the healing hand of the King.
Any character who chooses to look into the stone (and is possessed of the requisite skill and royal mandate) may attempt to recall what vision the girl may have seen (though how Estel managed to get into the room in the first place is a mystery in itself). Any attempt to make contact with the Orthanc-stone wilt fail, and an area scan will be impossible under the darkness of night (the Palantíri can only function by light).
When recalled from shock by the King, Estel will begin to whisper words not her own, as though repeating what she heard in her mind through the stone:
“Estel… I’ve called you… You have the Sight! You heard my call… Tell them — anyone — that we are under attack… We have shut the gates against them, but I fear it will not hold them… I can see them now! I can see their eyes…) have seen them in my dreams, and now they are come… They are here… sudden gasp of fear, as Estel’s body freezes, her breath labored, and then slowly relaxes, as though a burden were lifted from her.”
Estel will retain no conscious memory of how she entered the chamber of the Palantír. Nor will she recall what she saw, save that she heard her uncle’s voice speaking to her. Estel’s only surviving uncle is Edrahil, Warden of the Orthanc-stone. Characters familiar with her family may deduce that “the Sight” refers to the True-sight of Númenor which the Maia Uinen grants to one member of each generation in Imrazôr’s line (whose descendants have ruled Morthond and Belfalas from time immemorial). If Estel has received the Sight, it is a fair guess that someone has passed it on. Edrahil was known to have possessed it.
A vigil will be kept all night beside the stone, hoping for some reply from Orthanc — to no avail. When the light of morning enables the use of the Palantír, it will be discovered that an ominous storm-cloud has wreathed the Gap of Calenardhon with an impenetrable canopy of shadow. No glimpse of either the Angrenost or Aglarond fortresses will be visible, though a search of the Great West Road running out of the Gap will reveal errand-riders making haste towards Anórien, bearing troubling tidings for the King.
The journey to Orthanc (1st-6th Cerveth)
Thinking it unwise to tarry in Minas Anor for the arrival of the errand-riders, Eldacar will decide upon an armed company to investigate the strange events at Orthanc. The leader of this company (preferably the royal seer) will be given the key to Orthanc, which will unlock its doors. A force of one hundred mounted soldiers will accompany any characters who choose to undertake this potentially dangerous mission for the King.
The company will encounter the errand-riders at the crossing of the Glánhir on the 3rd of Cerveth (the company will be riding hard, covering up to eighty miles in a day, with frequent stops to commandeer fresh horses). From the messengers they will receive news that the strange storm came upon them suddenly out of the Enedwaith on a seabourn wind; and that, soon after its arrival, the beacon of Orthanc was set ablaze, urgently signaling Aglarond for aid. Soon after the beacon’s fire had been sighted, a violent tremor was felt from the earth, followed by a dread silence. Captain Harnastin, the commander of Aglarond, detailed a company to ride for Angrenost without delay.
The storm-cloud, still menacing but beginning to subside, will be seen by the characters by the fifth day of their ride, as they approach the Gap of Calenardhon. If they choose to lead their company to Aglarond first, they will be greeted with great anxiety by Captain Harnastin and his men. He will report that the circle of Angrenost has been breached by some nameless foe who is nowhere to be found, unless the enemy has shut himself within Orthanc itself.
From Harnastin, the characters will learn that the distress beacon of Orthanc had been extinguished by the time his men had reached the gates of Angrenost. The gates had been torn off their hinges (most likely by the earthquake that had been earlier felt at Aglarond). The tower of Orthanc was shut, and neither light nor answering voice issued forth from any of its portals. But the Angrenost gate-guards were afflicted with some madness of which no cure could be found. Those that recovered could not (or, at any rate, would not) remember what had happened, save that they looked into a white face of terrible power.
A new guard has been set at the gates of Angrenost, and about the tower, but none of the patrols Harnastin sent to scour the lands about found any trace of a foe. Harnastin will be grateful for the troops sent to accompany them by the King, as his own men are too few to secure the breach of Angrenost, should it again be threatened. He will send a small escort to guide them to Angrenost.
The empty tower
The characters will be hailed at the entrance to Angrenost, whose twisted metal doors now rest against the wall-towers adjoining the gate. Harnastin’s men have erected a temporary fortification wall around the open gateway of the ancient fortress. Here, the characters’ escort will take their leave, turning the defense of Angrenost over to the King’s company as the characters themselves press on to the tower of Orthanc itself.
The door to Orthanc is locked and can only be opened by its designated key. Inside there will be utter darkness and the stench of decaying flesh. Torch-light will reveal the corpses of the Orthanc garrison lying about the tower floor and stairwells, their pale faces contorted in nightmarish expressions of inhuman fear. Many will have their weapons drawn and still in their clenched hands, yet neither cut nor bruise will be visible anywhere. There are forty-two dead in all.
Characters who enter the chamber of the Palantír will find the stone missing; but in the corner of the room, crouched against the stone wall, will be found a stone effigy of what was once Edrahil, Warden of the Orthanc-stone. He is dead, but his flesh has begun to corrode into some horrible, statue-like substance. It is an unsettling sight.
The thing within
Still more unnerving will it prove to any character who chooses to touch Edrahil’s remains. The incorporeal cat-thing still lies within him, now nearly finished feasting upon his life-force, and will stir if roused by the touch of a living being. Soon after Edrahil is touched, a glowing red aura will begin to form about his torso, and an ethereal shape will slowly emerge until fully visible to the characters. It will appear as a translucent feline creature of roughly bobcat-size.
Being far from Benish Armon and having now consumed its victim, the cat is effectively blind (though it will be able to sense the movement of nearby life-forces). Because the cat possesses no fana, it cannot be touched by physical objects (though it may be damaged by magical weapons). It realizes that it may be in a hostile environment, and will behave defensively towards whatever threats it may perceive, until it can make a break for a tower-window, whence it will streak away into the night, returning to the place of its binding.
If trapped and cornered, however, it will not hesitate to attack by entering the body of one of the characters and wreaking havoc on their life-force, causing damage each round to the person’s hale until it feels its enemy wounded enough to escape. Although this will not cause any physical damage, the character will feel as though powerful claws were raking through their innards.
The Warden had possessed the True-sight of Westernesse, granted to him by Uinen, which often gave him visions of the future (or amplified the divinatory powers of the stone). Anyone familiar with Edrahil (like the royal seer) will know that he kept a diary of such visions when they occurred. A search of Edrahil’s personal quarters in Orthanc will produce this journal (Handout #I), the most recent entries of which appear to have some relationship to the mysterious events at the tower.
The aftermath of the tragedy
With a chain of inexplicable events behind them and no agents of malice in sight, the characters will be burdened with the reordering of affairs at Angrenost and Orthanc. A mass burial must be prepared for the slain soldiers of the garrison, and messages must be relayed to the King at Minas Anor, arranging for the mustering of troops to re-garrison the fortress.
The theft of the Palantír is a serious matter, but equally grave is the death of Edrahil, a man of high lineage (and, perhaps, a blood relation to some of the characters). A search for the lost stone must be organized, but first Edrahil’s body must be embalmed and prepared for burial on the island of Tolfalas, where the line of Imrazôr keeps its hallows. Prince Aradan of Belfalas will arrange for a ship to meet them at Tharbad, so that Edrahil’s body may be borne to its final resting place with all haste. He will ask that the characters accompany the body (if they are not already planning on doing so).
Journey to Tharbad (8 – 20 Cerveth)
The road from the Gap of Calenardhon to Tharbad will be uneventful. The characters will have an escort from Aglarond, which will dispel any danger to their safety that Enedwaith might hold. At Tharbad, they will be received with honor by a show of dignitaries, among them Prince Argeleb of Arthedain.
Although the Prince’s father, King Araphor, lacks the means to enforce his royal prerogatives in Cardolan, the men of Arthedain nevertheless hold a strong interest in Tharbad, as it is their principal life line to outside aid in time of war. As his father’s emissary, Argeleb does his utmost to maintain good relations with the confederates in Umbar, who had given Arthedain great material and financial support during the Usurper’s reign in Gondor.
This complicates matters in Tharbad, since the confederates are now considered to be outlaws and rebels by the returned King Eldacar. Lord Morlaen of Umbar has come to Tharbad to meet with Prince Argeleb and Eldacar’s legate, Ciramir, in order to discuss the terms on which Arthedain may expect to avoid Gondorian interference in Tharbad while continuing to engage in friendly relations with Umbar. When the characters arrive in Tharbad with Edrahil’s body, these negotiations will still be in progress, and for an evening at least the characters will be staying under the same roof as one of the chief movers of the plot to steal the Palantír.
Ciramir, Prince Argeleb, Prince Aradan, and Lord Morlaen will all be present when the characters enter the gates of Tharbad — present political differences are momentarily suspended as all of these Dúnadan lords gather to pay their respects to Edrahil as a revered scion of the lineage of Imrazôr. Ciramir will insist that they accept his hospitality for the night. All present will be invited to a private dinner with the Gondorian legate to honor Edrahil’s memory.
In the course of their dinner, the characters will have ample opportunity to discuss the events at Orthanc (which Morlaen will be highly interested in hearing about, though he will make a pretense of neutrality). If conversation shifts to the diplomatic proceedings underway, the characters may learn of Calimon’s earlier presence in Tharbad (he departed two weeks before the characters arrived with Zimrakhil and Belphegor with the Palantír, bound for Ethir Anduin). The point of this encounter is to enable the characters to get a close look at Morlaen before they are aware that he is a villain.
If the characters show Edrahil’s diary to Aradan, he will be able to recount what is generally known about the Karma of Aldarion — of its placement in the Hall of the Faithful, of its theft by Fuinur and Herumor, and of its disappearance along with Fuinur following the latter’s flight from the Battle of Dagorlad in the War of the Last Alliance. Aradan will suggest that the characters look to Parmandil, the loremaster who will be presiding over the burial ceremony on Tolfalas, for more information.
Aradan has brought with him embalmers from Belfalas, skilled in the art of funerary preparation. Edrahil’s body must be properly prepared (to the extent that this is possible, given the unnatural aspect of his demise) for burial before the ship leaves for Tolfalas. This process will take a full day to complete, which means that the characters will not leave Tharbad until the 22nd of the month.
Voyage to Tolfalas (22 – 27 Cerveth)
The journey from Tharbad to Tolfalas will be peaceful and uninterrupted, and Aradan’s ship will arrive at Nenmárros Bay amid an even greater throng of dignitaries gathered before the Hallow of Imrazôr there. Eldacar’s eldest son. Prince Aldamir, will be present, as will Parmandil, chief loremaster from the Hall of the Faithful in Pelargir. Parmandil will read some words of dedication, which conclude with a chanting of the prayer to Uinen which Edrahil recorded in his final vision:
“Dear friends, sojourners in exile, we are gathered here today, to this place that is sacred to the Lady of the Waters, to bid our farewell to a great man. Edrahil, son of Tirkhôr of Belfalas, now joins his forefathers of the line of Edhelion, in this hallow that Imrazôr the Númenórean built many years ago. Dear friends, sojourners in exile, know that Death is not a curse, but the Gift of llúvatar to Men. Death may corrupt even the body; but we, the Secondborn, are not bound to this body in death, for beyond the Circles of the World there is more than memory. Lady of the Waters, preserve us in our paths. Blessed Uinen, defend us from the storm and what it hides. Remember the Sign of your covenant. The Karma that heals, the curse repealed.”
If questioned about the prayer, Parmandil will recount to the characters that it was a hymn to Uinen, which — it is said — Eärnil, the thirteenth king of Gondor, composed just prior to his death at sea in the year 936. It is an obscure prayer, though the characters might be able to learn more of it if they returned with Parmandil to the Hall of the Faithful. As Edrahil’s visions are their only lead, the characters had best take Parmandil’s advice.
The Hall of the Faithful (27 – 29 Cerveth)
The characters may accompany Parmandil, who will be traveling with Prince Aldamir on his way back to Pelargir. This brief voyage will take them through the Western Straight of Tolfalas to the Mouths of Anduin (where Calimon and Zimrakhil ready the Corsair fleet in hiding). From thence they will pass on upriver to the haven of Pelargir.
The Hall of the Faithful is the largest repository of Númenórean lore in Gondor (and perhaps in all of Middle-earth). In 1450, the Hall lies beneath the foundations of the tower that King Eärnil built in the center Pelargir’s newly-constructed harbor in T.A. 923 (This was the sister of the tower which the King later built in Umbar over the ruins of the Temple of Melkor ten years later.).
It was Imrazôr who first discovered the grottos that the power of Ulmo had delved into the solid rock of the Sirith-Anduin promontory, but it was Imrazôr’s son Veantur, who completed the construction of the haven, who actually expanded these grottos into a nigh impregnable fastness, wherein could be preserved the lore and memory of the homeland of the Faithful. The Karma of Aldarion was set in the innermost vault of this sanctuary, to protect it from harm. But since the theft of the Karma by Fuinur and Herumor in S.A. 3320, the Hall has been robbed of this divine protection.
No weapons may be borne within the sacred precincts of the Hall. After seeing to it that their gear is tended to, Parmandil will lead the characters down into the Hall, bringing them to the empty vault of the Karma. It is a simple, octagonal chamber with a stone pedestal at its center (which once held the Karma). On the ceiling above the pedestal is a representation of Uinen bestowing the Karma upon Aldarion, carved into the rock.
Parmandil will call for one of his scribes, Aramis, to fetch for him the Annals of the Kings (Handout #2), which details the circumstances leading to his succession to the kingship, his war with Umbar, and his untimely death.
In addition to the Annals, Parmandil will show them the fragment which contained the text of Eärnil’s prayer (Handout #3). The loremaster will point out that, although the prayer itself is fairly well-known, the original document from which it was purportedly derived has never been located (though there was never any great search devoted to finding it, since there was never a pressing need — until now).
Characters who take the clue provided in the fragment may attempt to move the pedestal in the center of the vault. Underneath it will be found a shallow recess holding a dusty tome (Handout #4). Lying next to the tome are two parchment scrolls, written in Adûnaic, which Eärnil recovered from the Temple at the time of its destruction (Umbar Scrolls #1 and 2)
The attack on the Hall
Only a few brief moments after the characters finish reading, a powerful tremor will rock the chamber. As the shock-wave hits, Parmandil will be pinned to the floor by falling rubble. While they were reading, the Corsair attack had broken out against the haven above, creating a distraction for Zimrakhil to draw once again upon the power of the Kuilëondo — this time, to rupture one of the river walls to the Hall of the Faithful, thus creating for him a means of entrance (and causing water to begin flooding the lower levels of the Hall).
Zimrakhil is with Belphegor and ten of Calimon’s well-armed crew, who will begin searching for the third of the key that Eärnil hid in the depths of the Hall. Zimrakhil actually knows where this hiding place is, but they still must make their way through the rubble of the quickly-flooding halls. If the characters venture away from the Karma vault to find help for Parmandil, they will come across his scribe Aramis — slain by Zimrakhil’s men. If they follow the noise being made by the intruders, they will swiftly discover that water is seeping into the lower halls.
Zimrakhil has insured that the tremor caused by the Kuilëondo would seal off all of the main stairwells to the upper halls, but there are air-shafts large enough for a person to crawl through with openings in the ceilings of many of the lower chambers, including the Karma vault. These air-shafts could be used to escape to the upper halls and, finally, to the surface.
But there will be little time to plan an escape, for once Zimrakhil has obtained the key fragment, he will use the Kuilëondo once more to fully open the ruptured wall to the river waters. Should the characters pursue the sounds of his men, there may be a confrontation with the sorcerer. But the characters will be unarmed, and Zimrakhil has the power of the Kuilëondo on his side. Nevertheless, this may be another good opportunity for the characters to size up their antagonists.
The sorcerer may even “gloat” about his plans if they encounter him, thinking that they will perish in the deluge in any case — but don’t let on too much to the players. Setting eyes on the Kuilëondo should be enough for them to make the connection between the stone Eärnil spoke of, and their present adversaries. If the characters tarry too long, they may have to run for their lives or be drowned in the waters exploding into the Hall (which could make escape an interesting challenge).
Pursuing the Corsairs (30 – 31 Cerveth)
By the time the characters will have been able to make their way (with or without the wounded Parmandil) safely to the surface, Calimon’s raiding party will be long-gone. From Prince Aldamir’s soldiers who fought in the defense of the haven, it may be learned that the raid was led by Calimon, Lord Morlaen’s son, and that he had been captaining the Corsair vessel Arangwil, which retreated back downriver with the other ships following the raid.
If the characters choose to pursue the Corsairs, Prince Aldamir will give them access to a small but relatively swift patrol boat, with local maps of the Ethir and the surrounding bay, marking likely hide-outs and staging-posts for the Corsairs. The patrol boat will be captained by one of the Ethir Folk, who knows the waters of the lower Anduin well.
If the characters choose to make for Tarannon’s villa, they will find it to be occupied by Calimon and his men, with the Arangwil laying in wait nearby. If they can defeat Calimon in battle or somehow sneak aboard his ship, they will find a letter from Morlaen lying on the desk in the captain’s cabin (Handout #5). If captured and interrogated, Calimon will claim not to know the location of Benish Armon (though in fact he does, and will make for it to warn Belphegor if forced to abandon Tarannon’s villa.
The ritual of release (1 Urui)
Belphegor will enact the ritual to release Tevildo’s thanes from Benish Armon in order to attack the King on the first night of the month (the night of the dark moon). This will fall on same night that Eldacar prepares to wed Prince Vidustain of Rhovanion and Lady Terieth of Anórien at Amon Hen. If Belphegor succeeds in the ritual, the nine cats will be directed through the line of sight of the stolen Palantír, and they will infest the King and all his family (just as they did to Edrahil). Even with the aid of healers, the royal house will have only a few months to live before they are turned into lifeless statues. From Tarannon’s villa it is a full day’s march through the Ethir swamps to the ruins of Benish Armon. If Calimon has escaped them, the characters may attempt to track him there. Otherwise, one of the Ethir Folk piloting their boat may be able to guide them. The sorcerer will be assisted at Benish Armon by the remainder of Calimon’s crew (How many is up to the GM’s discretion, depending on the strength and numbers of the player-characters).
Both the Palantír of Orthanc and the fragment of the key to Fuinur’s domain are in Belphegor’s possession at Benish Armon. In order for the ritual to take effect, Belphegor must perform a blood sacrifice (one of the Ethir Folk, or perhaps one of Eldacar’s Ethir-guard who had been stationed at Tarannon’s villa but was captured). The victim’s blood must be poured into the well at the center of the ruin (see accompanying map), followed by the contents of the cats’ canopic jars. Once this is accomplished, the ethereal forms of the cats will arise from the well and await Belphegor’s command. The sorcerer will bid each of them gaze into the Orthanc-stone and “lock-on” to their targets at Amon Hen. After doing this, Tevildo’s thanes will abandon visible form altogether and fly towards Amon Hen.
The characters may intervene at any juncture of this process, depending on how soon they arrive and when they choose to act. If Calimon managed to escape Tarannon’s villa and reach Benish Armon before them, he or Belphegor may have caused sentinels to be set around the site to warn of any intruders. If the characters defeat Belphegor, they will have recovered the Palantír and come into possession of a third of the key to Fuinur’s Well. The next move must be theirs.
Deciding what to do next
In the process of recovering the Orthanc-stone from its captors, the characters will have uncovered a deeper conspiracy. Namely, that the minions of evil are searching for the descendant of Queen Berúthiel and King Tarannon, presumably to accomplish some dark purpose. What that purpose is may yet be unclear to the characters, but all of the loose ends accompanying this puzzle appear to lie in Umbar, at Eärnil’s tower that guards the foundations of Melkor’s temple against the return of his servants.
While the characters deliberate as to the most appropriate course of action, Zimrakhil arrives in Umbar with the Kuilëondo and Tevildo’s canopic jar, which he hides in the foundations of the Temple. The sorcerer waits with Neithan for Belphegor’s return to Umbar with news that the ritual of release has been accomplished. If rumor of Belphegor and/or Calimon’s defeat comes to their ears, Neithan and Zimrakhil will have to contrive other plans. Most important to them now will be the acquisition of the Karma from Fuinur’s Well, which means that they will need to obtain the other two pieces (held by Lóthriel and the characters respectively).
The voyage to Umbar (2 – 6 Urui)
If the characters make known their desire to go to Umbar, Prince Aldamir’s boatmen will direct them to Captain Rastarin of “The Calm before the Storm” (the T.C.B.S.), a smuggler-captain who plies the waters between Umbar and the Ethir on a regular basis. Rastarin was a piratess from Eriador who found her way into Belfalas Bay during the Kin-strife. At that time, she became a close friend to Neithan, who was then serving Castamir as Ethir-captain.
Rastarin knows nothing of Neithan’s association with dark cults and the like, but she does keep up occasional contact with him during her visits to Umbar. Because she is a smuggler and not a Gondorian by birth, Rastarin is able to enter and leave Umbar freely (which would be a boon to the characters, who may not wish to make their presence known in the stronghold of King Eldacar’s enemies.
The T.C.B.S. keeps anchor at the nearby port of Fanuilond, only a few hours sail beyond the Ethir on the coast of Lebennin. For a suitable fee, Rastarin will agree to bring them to Umbar. If they choose to divulge anything of their mission, Rastarin may direct the characters to Neithan, whom she trusts and who knows a great deal about current happenings in Umbar.
Investigating in Umbar
The walls and haven of Umbar were unable to contain the mass exodus of Castamir’s family and supporters when these arrived from Gondor in 1448. Accordingly, it was agreed upon that the exiles would occupy the Enclave, a smaller, secondary settlement on the opposite side of the headland of Umbar, which was then the residence for Mûrabêth’s father, Telemnar, who was Governor of the landward territory surrounding Umbar.
Telemnar granted use of his personal domicile, Eärnil’s Tower, to Castaher as High-captain of the confederate forces. Castaher resided in this tower with his wife Lóthriel until Neithan secretly caused a fire to be set within it. Castaher perished in that fire, and Lóthriel has moved into Mûrabêth’s house, leaving Neithan as Warden of Eärnil’s Tower. This is the very same tower which stands over the forgotten foundations of the Temple of Melkor, where Zimrakhil and the Kuilëondo now await the fulfillment of their designs.
The purpose of the fire had been three-fold. Firstly, the oiolairë trees in its courtyard which formed a magical barrier against entry into the Temple had to be destroyed. Only their blackened and charred trunks now remain. Secondly, Neithan needed an excuse to drive away the tower’s present inhabitants, in order that they not interfere with the re-opening of the Temple below. Thirdly, Neithan needed to kill Castaher in order to obtain the remaining two fragments of the key to Fuinur’s Well. Lóthriel escaped with one in her possession, but she has no idea that it was the cause of the burning, nor that Neithan desires it.
Neithan will invite the characters to inspect the tower if they appear on his doorstep (especially if Rastarin is with them). He will be most interested to learn of what they know (or suspect) about Zimrakhil’s plot, and whether they are in possession of one of the three fragments of the key. If approached openly about the cats and the theft of the planter, Neithan will tell them in whispered tones about the minions of Melkor in Umbar, pointing to Morlaen as the most likely candidate for their leadership. He may even admit to knowing about Berúthiel’s descendant, spinning some far-flung theory that the unborn child that Lóthriel now bears in her womb may be the one which the cultists seek — why else would they have burned the tower to kill off her husband?
If the characters show him their fragment of the key, Neithan will contemplate an alliance with them: to journey with him to the Mirror of Fire, and then betray them after they have helped him to enter Fuinur’s Well. All he need do will be to convince them to persuade Lóthriel to surrender her fragment (He will show them his, claiming that Castaher placed it in his care where he perished, lest the cult of Melkor should obtain it.). Neithan can arrange for an audience with Lóthriel, as he himself is still trusted by her and not under suspicion for Castaher’s death. As for the foundations of the Temple, there is but one secret entrance to it from the tower above, and Neithan will insure that searching characters do not find it.
Lóthriel may be quite trusting of the characters, especially if any of them are her kinsfolk (She is of the princely house of Belfalas.). She is ignorant of the workings of the cult and of the location of the Temple, save for its murder of her husband. If they appear trustworthy (and if Neithan vouches for them) Lóthriel will surrender the fragment, enabling them, together with Neithan, to fit all three pieces together, rendering the key functional at last.
Neithan knows that way to the Mirror of Fire, and Lóthriel can arrange for mounts and provisions for the long journey into Haradwaith. Before leaving Umbar, however, Zimrakhil will secretly bestow the Kuilëondo upon Neithan, that its power may aid him in eliminating the characters when the time for betrayal comes. The stone will be concealed around Neithan’s neck during the journey.
The journey to the Mirror of Fire (7 Urui to 7 Ivanneth)
The Mirror of Fire lies in the burning heart of Haradwaith, nearly three hundred leagues south-east of Umbar across the dunes of the Great Desert. By camels, the journey will take a month’s time. The GM may decide to provide the characters with encounters along the way; but this is not essential, as Neithan will bear with him a diplomatic seal of Umbar, which all warlords of the Southron Confederacy will respect. Neithan’s destination will be the caravansary of TûI Póac, a desert fortress-oasis overlooking the edge of the Mirror of Fire.
In 1450, TûI Póac is under the control of a Northman mercenary-warlord named Konar (cf. OH 2: 15 – 19) who, by a strange twist of fate, found himself in the employ not of Eldacar but of Queen Mûrabêth during the Kin-strife, and so withdrew south with the other confederates upon Eldacar’s return to Gondor.
At the time, Konar had become a warlord among the Haradan tribes along the southern shore of the Harnen Estuary; but with the establishment of the Corsairs in Umbar, Mûrabêth invited him to assume control over the southernmost marches of their allies in the desert. Konar has ruled the Covshek nomads who wander the fringes of the Mirror for nearly a year now, but he has maintained close ties with Umbar.
Upon their arrival, Konar will be able to provide them with both information about the Mirror of Fire and its dangers, and to supply them with the necessary clothing and protection for crossing it. It is literally impossible to walk upon the Mirror under the full light of day, because of the heat; so the journey must be made by night, while by day special tents can be erected to cover travelers from the sun’s rays.
More deadly than the heat, however, are the Vetar Vatra, the burning dust-storms that blow across the scorched plain like hungry demons, whose blazing winds are capable of searing human flesh. These storms only occur during the day-time; but this makes them all the more dangerous, since travelers will be unable to move under the sun’s heat at this time. The only way to avoid the Vetar Vatra is by using the key.
The circular key which the characters with Neithan have assembled, when held against the night sky, operates as a navigational star-map, its interwoven silver strands indicating a twisting path that will lead its bearer along the ways of the Mirror where the Vetar Vatra do not blow. Nevertheless, in order to use this map effectively, the characters must already possess some kind of navigational skills (If none do, Neithan alone will be able to use it, as he has many years experience as a ship-captain.).
Crossing the Mirror of Fire (7 – 10 Ivanneth)
The journey across the desolation of the Mirror must be made on foot (Beasts of burden cannot endure the constant heat.). The characters will be given special cloaks used by the Covshek nomads to brave the heats of the fiery plain, which must be worn at all times to avoid dehydration. Metal armor will be discouraged, as it will tend to heat up to the point of burning the characters’ skin, or worse.
The Mirror of Fire is the dead lake-bed of Arda’s first spring, sloping gently downwards like a vast bowl for some thirty leagues. At its center lies what remains of the isle of Almaren: a cyclopean mesa of dead rock. At the very point where the lamp of Ormal struck the island, a deep rift has been torn. A path runs down this narrow canyon to a cave-opening, wherein the domain of Fuinur begins. Assuming they meet with no mishap, Neithan and the characters will reach this entrance at dawn after the third night of travel.
Entering Fuinur’s Well
Inside the cave-opening, the characters will find a set of carven stone steps leading down. These stairs descend some two hundred feet and open onto a large, pillared chamber, at the far end of which is another set of steps that descend into a pool of dark water. On the wall above this pool is a carven representation of the Karma. The pool is twenty feet deep, and at its bottom, opening out from the wall beneath the Karma-image, is the lintel of a submerged passage that continues straight into the rock. At the top of the steps leading into the pool, the characters will find a small leather pouch containing several small nuggets of some translucent stone.
Neithan will be able to identify the nuggets as Desert Amber. The Covshek gather the Amber from their occasional forays into the Mirror, and Southron merchants sell them to the wealthy in Umbar for high prices. The Amber, which can be found in the cracks and crevices of the Mirror, is actually the hardened resin from Ormal’s destroying fires. When such Amber is immersed within the waters of the Well, it emits an inner glow (which will enable characters to see once inside the otherwise lightless passages of Fuinur’s realm.
The water of the pool is part of the living waters of Almaren, which are breathable by mortals. Their breathability, however, only takes effect after the painful and sometimes violent process accompanying the radical change of respiration the character will experience (i.e., the character must in effect “drown” prior to adapting to the new mode of breathing). A character so immersed will lie unconscious — dead, to all but the keenest perceptions — for anywhere between five and ten minutes.
Since the characters will not, of course, know this beforehand, their seemingly futile attempts to figure out “how it works” will most likely be the cause of a good deal of anxiety and doubt (Herein lies the real fun of running this scene in the adventure!). Characters who try to swim down the passage in search of air will either return in failure (it is several hundred yards long), or drown in the process. Once, however, the transition is accomplished, the water will take its effect.
Having one’s lungs filled with liquid (however breathable) will slow a character’s movement down considerably. Damage dealt and taken in combat will be reduced, due to the sluggishness of the water; missile weapons will be ineffective. Although verbal communication will be hindered, the waters of Almaren also possess the property of facilitating the transfer of thoughts. Characters unused to controlling or focusing their thoughts may find communication difficult (and, at times, even embarrassing, since they will be unable to “screen out” from their comrades certain stray thoughts never intended to be verbalized). Finally, the waters of Almaren will heal wounds caused by edged weapons (characters will still take damage, but they will not lose any further hit points from bleeding).
The sleep-inducing effects of the waters are long-term in nature, and will not have any discernible impact for a character immersed for only a few hours. Perceptive characters will begin to notice a physiological changes only after they have been in the water for a number of hours equal to their Constitution (if that statistic is reckoned on a 1 – 20 scale; if your system is percentile based, simply divide a character’s score by five, rounding up). They will notice a slight but enduring drowsiness, accompanied by a noticeable slowing of their heartbeat. At the end of every subsequent duration of hours, the character must make a resistance roll or fall asleep. With each successive period, the character will reduce their chance of resistance by one factor (however that is calculated in a given rule system).
The descent to Fuinur’s court
The passage leading out from the entrance-pool runs several hundred feet in, terminating in a small chamber with a circular “well” in the center of the floor. This shaft drops off into seeming nothingness, descending nearly a mile. The waters emanating from the well will be somewhat cooler than those of the passages. Also, there will appear to be a very slight “current” pulling the water downward into the shaft. This pull becomes stronger the deeper one descends, until it is impossible to resist it.
Characters who choose to leap into the shaft will feel themselves gradually descending faster and faster. Accompanying this will be a greater (though not damaging, since their own bodies are by now filled with it) pressure from the surrounding waters, which will eventually render them temporarily unconscious (again, another red herring to cause alarm and distress). If a character should attempt the descent without first having their lungs filled with the water, the greater intensity and speed of the transition may well kill them.
Unconscious characters will awaken at some point to the “audible” thoughts of their companions. They are all lying flat on their backs on the floor of another chamber. In its ceiling they will see the other end of the shaft opening, though they will have no means of guessing how much farther down they are or how long they have been slumbering. At one side of the chamber they are currently in is another passageway.
This (somewhat larger and more ornately decorated) corridor leads for a few hundred feet to a pair of huge stone doors. At the intersection of the doors is a circular depression into which the key may be placed. Once it is fit into the recess, the great doors will open onto a palatial hall of immeasurable size (900’ long; 300’ wide; 600’ high). Its walls, ceilings and floors are illuminated by living veins of Amber. A stairwell descends one hundred feet to the floor of the hall, and at its far end — almost indiscernible — is a throne.
Guarding the bottom of the entry stairs are two armored figures bearing spears. Their backs are turned to the entering characters, and they will not appear to notice their approach. These are Fuinur’s court guards, many more of which line the far walls of the hall. They were archaic Númenórean plate armor, and carry weapons that have not seen the light of day for centuries. All are lost in sleep, and can only be awakened if brought outside of the waters of the Well. They still stand, leaning on their spears, but they are easily pushed over onto the floor by inquisitive characters. If characters “listen” in close proximity to one of these guards (or any of the sleeping court) they will after a few moments begin to catch mental images from their dreams — all of which will be in Adûmaic.
At the far end of the hall (which will take some minutes to cross), a series of tiers rises up toward the throne, each connected to the others by stairs. On these tiers the characters will look upon the slumbering court of Fuinur — Dúnadan nobility in luxuriously decadent clothing and jewelry. More guards also stand at the recesses of the stairs joining the tiers. At the top tier is Fuinur himself, reclining upon his carven throne, his locks of uncut hair streaming in the water like seaweed. At his feet, beside the throne, lies the Karma, wrought of silver, pearl, and gold. Next to Fuinur is another, smaller throne. It is empty — an awe-inspiring scene, frozen in time.
Neithan, Fuinur, and the Karma
This is the moment that Neithan will choose to betray the characters and seize the Karma. In order to prevent them from hindering him, Neithan will draw upon Tevildo’s power to animate the court guards to kill or restrain the characters, while he snatches the Karma and runs off to lock them inside Fuinur’s throne-room forever. Although not exactly conscious, the devious Prince of Cats will use his divine will to direct the weapons and limbs of the guards for battle. The characters will be outnumbered — there are perhaps a hundred and fifty guards in all — but Tevildo’s control over them will be terminated as soon as Neithan has managed to shut the doors to the hall.
The characters may very well overpower Neithan and thwart his plan, despite the power arrayed against them, but should Neithan escape, there will be no way to open the doors from within — except by the Karma. This may seem pretty hopeless, but in fact it is not, for the Karma Neithan has stolen is not the real Karma, but a decoy! Fuinur has hidden the true Karma in a secret compartment in the floor in front of his throne, which can only be opened by his mental command.
The characters will, of course, have no inkling of this; though if they have perceived that the sleeping court yet dreams, and that these dreams can be made audible by virtue of the waters, they may get the bright idea of trying to communicate in some way with Fuinur himself. This tactic will be particularly apropos if one of the characters happens to belong to the line of Imrazôr (as Fuinur does), which will enhance their ability to make mental contact.
Fuinur does indeed dream, and can (with some effort and concentration) be made semi-conscious of some mental presence, though he will not be able to awaken physically. This is perhaps the most difficult encounter of the adventure to anticipate in writing, since so much will depend on how the characters interact with Fuinur and what they choose to tell him.
Fuinur is in fact aware of the nature of his present fate, and he also knows that “his” daughter no longer rests at his side. He remembers a voice speaking to him, a hateful voice (Zimrakhil), when “they took her from me.” Fuinur has indeed repented of his longing for eternal life, having tasted the horror of endless serial existence, even in sleep. Besides death, his one wish is to learn the fate of his daughter (In this way, the characters may be able to learn from Fuinur all that happened to him and Ancalimë prior to their sleep, thus completing the mystery.).
If the characters are able to recount to him the tragic fate of Ancalimë, and explain to him Neithan and Zimrakhil’s present attempt to fulfill the evil purpose for which she was taken from him, Fuinur may offer to grant them what aid is still within his power, in return for their promise to end his tortured life. If they agree, Fuinur will command the secret compartment in the floor to reveal the true Karma to them. With it, he says, one of Imrazôr’s line (or another person at the GM’s discretion) will be able to effect the re-opening of the doors to the hall, the raising of them up through the shaft, and even the negotiation of the gauntlet of the Vetar Vatra.
Showdown in Umbar (11 Ivanneth to 15 Narbeleth)
With the true Karma in hand, the characters will be free to pursue their antagonist to Umbar, where Neithan plans to release Tevildo at last from the Kuilëondo and make his bid for the kingship on Gondor. This ritual will take place in the foundations of the Temple beneath Eärnil’s Tower, both of which will be heavily guarded by Neithan’s supporters. Lóthriel will be abducted and used as the sacrificial victim whose blood will provide Neithan with the means to reverse Berúthiel’s binding on Tevildo and the other cats. If they succeed in this, Gondor may well be in for another Kin-strife. It is this that the characters must now work to stop. That, however, is another story.
The powers of the Karma
The Karma of Aldarion carries with it the blessing of Uinen and the protection of Ulmo. To begin with, the Karma will enhance the mental powers of its user (as the line of Imrazôr enjoyed the Truesight of Westernesse). It may also provide magical protection against Zimrakhil’s sorcery, especially that which is worked through the Kuilëondo (E.g., The White Face may be ineffective against someone wearing the Karma.). Finally, the wearer of the Karma may grant its user the power to exorcise the cats from the bodies of those whom they infest. Although it will not instantly cancel the corrupting effect of their presence, it may enable healing or reversal to occur over time.
As stated in the introduction, this is not an adventure but a campaign of some magnitude. Consequently, the description of the encounters is rather uneven, with some given greater detail and attention than others. This is partly, as we said, a consideration of space; but a great deal of material pertinent to this campaign will be published in the Kin-strife module (particularly as regards NPC backgrounds, motives, and statistics). A few details of background and setting may be at variance with what appears in the published module, but they may be easily rectified should the GM wish to link the present plot to that module.
The Tale of the Karma
It came to pass on an evening of spring, when Aldarion was in Rómenna with his companion, Hallatan of Hyarrostar, that the two mariners were walking upon the quays. And looking out across the bay, it seemed to Aldarion that he espied a small islet which he had never seen before. He pointed his finger towards the rock and asked his companion if he had set eyes on it: for the friends had sailed the waters of that bay many times.
‘I marvel that your keen eyes have not marked that place afore,’ said Hallatan. And still more that you do not know its name; Tol Uinen it is called, and men say that it was raised by the Lady of the Waters when the Valar made this land. Mariners often go there to gain her favor, or to take counsel beside the pool that is said to lie there.’
Aldarion spoke. “Verily I say to you Hallatan, my friend; if my eyes have not marked this place until now then I deem it to have been the will of the Lady herself, and that Uinen sends to me this night a sign. Let us make for the islet without delay.”
Then Aldarion and Hallatan took a boat and rowed out to the rock. And setting foot upon it, they came to a path of stone steps cut into its side which climbed to the height of Tol Uinen. where they found a pool of clear water.
The lights of heaven were mirrored upon its calm surface, and Vingilot shone brightly. Then Aldarion looked in wonder, for it seemed to him that he saw the image of a woman, whose dark hair lay spread through the waters of the pool. And she spoke to him with a voice like to the gentle currents of the open sea, when Ossë is at rest.
Anardil Aldarion; hear now the voice of the sea that you love, for I am Uinen servant of Ulmo. The Valar do not plant desire to no purpose, nor does the Lady of the Waters. Those whom I call are those who love me; the unwilling do not hear my music.
‘Behold! In the armour of Fate there is ever a rift, and in the walls of Doom a breach, until the full-making, which ye cal the End. So it shall be while I endure, a secret voice that gainsayeth. and a light where darkness was decreed.
‘So spoke the Lord of the Waters to Tuor your forefather at Vinyamar, where the waves of Belegaer washed upon the shores of Middle-earth, before all was drown beneath sundering seas. So he speaks now to you Aldarion, child of a new age, and I am his messenger.
‘For many years have you laboured in the building of ships, and always you have sought out the friendship of the Eldar; and though you did these things freely out of desire, a time may come when your works will turn back the tides of doom. For this reason I have called you.
Then Aldarion spoke. ’I do not understand these things which the foreknowledge of divine race causes you to speak. Blessed Lady. But I hear your call, and come willingly to your summons. For if Men cannot presume to serve the Valar, they may perhaps arrogate themselves to seek the friendship of even the least of the Maïar, though Uinen of the Waters be far from the least of that great people.
The voice of Uinen answered. “Alone of all Men you, Aldarion, shall have my friendship: and any who call you Captain will receive my grace in all their ways. As the heir of your father you will one day bear the Crown and Scepter of Elros Tar-Minyatur; but as the lover of Uinen you and your descendants will bear another token. Behold, a rift in the armour of Fate, a breach in the walls of Doom!”
Then it seemed to Aldarion that the waters of the pool began to ripple, and out of them was raised a helm of wondrous design. It was crafted in the likeness of a sea-crest, forged of pearl and encrusted with precious stones.
The Lady of the Waters spoke. “Behold the Karma! Keep it well. Aldarion, for this thing is a mighty treasure from the deeps of Ulmo’s realm; it will aid you and any to whom you choose to pass it on when you are in need.”
Aldarion took then the Karma into his hands and bowed in reverence towards the pool, and the image of Uinen faded into the water. For a long while he sat in silence upon the hill of Tol Uinen, barkening to the music of the waves upon the rock, wondering to himself what this gift portended for the future.
Handouts and letters
Handout # 1: Edrahil’s Visions
At Arien’s rising the Sight came to me. I stand on a rocky, windswept shore — the roar of the surf, the sting of salt upon my face, the harsh cries of gulls. The resounding thud of hooves on the beach, the snorts and whinnies of horses, the footsteps of men dismounting.
They gather around the shape of a woman, lying face down upon the beach — her fingers sunk deep into the wet sand. She is breathing-l can hear her labored heartbeat. The hands of a healer reach out, recalling her from the memory of dark waters.
At Arien’s soaring the Sight came to me. I stand atone in a barren house, empty and abandoned. Beneath its stone arches the sleepy waters of a great river wander. She was here once, but now has departed. She was not alone, but the burden she bore was hers alone. A sad tale, but its end lies elsewhere.
At Arien’s setting the Sight came to me. I stand in the house of the King — the time is before the war, for the Dome of Stars still stands. The red light of the setting sun strikes the Tower of the Dome, kindling it’s silver roof like flame.
I hear the dancing water of a fountain — I stand in a garden courtyard. She was here once, beneath the eaves of yew and cypress, but now has departed. Tormented sculptures encircle me — the faces of men once living, the faces of men I once knew.
They know in themselves the corruption of Death — and yet multiplied, concentrated into the agony of a thousand years. They know her pain, though not by choice. Her memory lives on, but the memory of Men is not wholly shut in books. An infant cries.
At Arien’s dying the Sight came to me. It is dark — a blind night — but a fire bums beneath a tower. A jar stands beside an alter of stone, a red jewel lies covered in blood — the jar is opened. Now they are all come, nine and one. A storm approaches.
Lady of the Waters, preserve us in our paths
Blessed Uinen, defend us from the storm and what it hides
Remember the Sign of your covenant
The Karma that heals, the curse repealed
Handout #2 Excerpt from The Annals of the Kings
With Tarannon, the twelfth king, began the line of the Ship-kings, who built navies and extended the sway of Gondor along the coasts west and south of the Mouths of Anduin. To commemorate his victories as Captain of the Hosts, Tarannon took the crown in the name of Falastur “Lord of the Coasts”.
In his day. war was first kindled with Umbar. The great cape and landlocked firth of Umbar had been Numenorean land since days of old; but it was a stronghold of the King’s Men. who were afterwards called the Black Numenoreans, corrupted by Sauron, and who hated above all the followers of Elendil. After the fall of Sauron their race swiftly dwindled or became merged with the Men of Middle-earth, but they inherited without lessening their hatred of Gondor. Umbar, therefore, was only taken at great cost, remaining unconquered until the days of Eärnil, the nephew of Tarannon, who succeeded him.
Tarannon was the only heir of Meneldil’s line who was childless and without a son. For it is said that Berúthiel, Tarannon’s wife and Queen, was a loveless and wicked woman. Now Berúthiel lived in the King’s House in Osgiliath, hating the sounds and smells of the sea and the house that Tarannon built below Pelargir upon arches whose feet stood deep in the wide waters of Ethir Anduin; she hated all making, all colours and elaborate adornment, wearing only black and silver and living in bear chambers, and the gardens of the house in Osgiliath were filled with tormented sculptures beneath cypresses and yews.
She had nine black cats and one white, her slaves, with whom she conversed, or read their memories, setting them to discover all the dark secrets of Gondor, so that she knew those things that men wish most to keep hidden, setting the white cat to spy upon the black, and tormenting them. No man in Gondor dared touch them; all were afraid of them, and cursed when they saw them pass.
Her name was erased from the Book of the Kings, but the memory of men is not wholly shut in books, and the cats of Queen Berúthiel never passed wholly out of men’s speech. King Tarannon had her set on a ship with her cats and set adrift on the sea before a north wind. The ship was last seen flying past Umbar under a sickle moon, with a cat at the masthead and another as a figure-head on the prow.
Eärnil repaired the ancient haven of Pelargir, and built a great navy. He laid siege by sea and land to Umbar, and took it. Eärnil made Umbar into a great harbour and fortress of the power of Gondor, and he caused the Temple of Melkor to be razed to the ground. But Eärnil did not long survive his triumph. He was lost with many ships and men in a great storm off Umbar. Ciryandil his son continued the building of ships; but the Men of the Harad, led by the lords that had been driven from Umbar, came up with great power against that stronghold, and Ciryandil fell in battle in Haradwaith.
For many years Umbar was invested, but could not be taken because of the sea-power of Gondor. Ciryaher son of Ciryandil bided his time, and at last when he had gathered strength he came down from the north by sea and by land, and crossing the River Harnen his armies utterly defeated the Men of the Harad, and their kings were compelled to acknowledge the overlordship of Gondor. Ciryaher then took the name of Hyarmendacil “South-victor”.
Handout #3: The Prayer Fragment
Now the death of my beloved master came about in this way. As our ships were approaching the coasts of Umbar’s peninsula, a dark storm came upon us, suddenly and at unawares. My Lord Farm exhorted his captains to sail towards the land at once, rather than to attempt to weather the storm where we were. But to myself, Targil his servant, the King spoke these words:
“Targil, my loyal companion, heed me when I say that this is my last voyage, for I perceive now that it has been fated that I never reach land again. But I charge you to deliver the oiolairë seeds safely to my tower in Umbar, and there to plant them, est Uinen’s protection be denied to that place which it is necessary above all others to seal off from our foes!
Then my Lord thrust into my hands a leather pouch, which contained the blessed seeds, and laid his hands upon me, chanting:
Lady of the Waters, preserve us in our paths
Blessed Uinen, defend us from the storm and what it hides
Remember the Sign of your covenant
The Karma that heals, the curse repealed
Then I asked of my Lord what these words meant, but Eärnil would say only that the sign of the Karma would conceal their import, until the right time should be fulfilled. These were the last words my Lard spoke to me, ere he caused me to be flung overboard, to brave the perils of Ossë’s wrath while the ships of the King were drown beneath the waves.
But I have brought the oiolairë seeds to Umbar, for I alone survived the wreck of the storm, and planted them in the courtyard of my Lord’s tower, that the prophecy of the dark seer might not come to pass.
Handout #4: Tarannon and Eärnil’s Remembrances
Upon the occasion of my death and your succession, I present to you, my nephew and chosen heir, these remembrances of my departed wife and Queen; that you, Eärnil — and you alone — shall know the truth of these things, or at least such truth as has been revealed. Her tale remains unfinished, and I deem that it has fallen to you to solve its mystery.
I need not recount the tale in full, for you yourself were present for a large part of it; yet I fear that there may still be many blank pages to this strange book, and I have resolved to write them down in the hope that they may guide you in your quest. These things I have kept long in my heart, but have revealed to no living man save yourself. Keep them well!
I, Eärnil, received these memoirs from the hand of Gundor, my late uncle’s Steward, upon my ascension to the kingship in the year 9 13. I present them now with additions from my own hand, joining to Tarannon’s words my own testimony concerning the Queen — the circumstances of her coming, the events surrounding her death, and my determination to understand her fate.
The answers have been in my hands for nearly three winters now, but the needs of war have hindered me from pursuing them to the end. Indeed, I fear that I may never undertake the final journey. Therefore, lest her name fade forever from memory, I have set to writing these things concerning the woman whose true name I alone have known.
It was during the reign of Siriondil, the eleventh king, that the heirs of Anárion first turned their thoughts toward the sea. But they perceived that the power of the Black Númenórean lords of Umbar and the kings of the Harad, whose dominion of the coastlands drew nigh to the Ethir, would hinder their designs.
Therefore the King appointed his elder son Tarannon to the office of Captain of the Hosts, and laid before him the task of extending the sway of Gondor west and south of Anduin. Tarannon won the coasts of Harad as far as the River Harnen, and gave to these the name of Harondor; but he was unable to advance further south due to the strength of the ships of Umbar and the men of Harad.
It was at this time that Prince Thorondur of Arnor, son to King Eärendur and master of Tharbad, forged an alliance with Tarannon, betrothing to the future king of Gondor his own daughter Berúthiel, and promising to send him ships to aid him in the war against Umbar. And when Siriondil breathed his last and the time for Tarannon’s ascension had come, Thorondur sent Berúthiel on a ship to wed him. But her ship foundered in a great storm off the isle of Tolfalas, and all of her crew were lost. Of the fate of Berúthiel, the King himself has written in his memoirs, but I shall keep that until its proper time.
The strange storm had vanished the next morning, almost as swiftly as it had arisen, and I rode along the island shore at Tarannon’s side, searching for any sign of Berúthiel or her vessel. The ship had been wrecked on the perilous shoals of the Western Straight, and its remnants lay strewn upon the sandy beach of Nenmárros Bay. There was only one survivor — a woman.
We never doubted that it was Berúthiel, for she was clad in royal garments, but she was in a swoon and could not be revived until she had been brought back to the safety of Caras Tolfalas, the haven that Tarannon had fortified when he became Captain of the Hosts. I was present with the King when the woman awoke.
At first she was unable to speak, as though stricken with dumbness; but in time she began to form words. She spoke in the Adûnaic tongue, and did not appear to understand the Common Speech. The woman could recall neither her name nor her ship, but suffered herself to be called ‘Berúthiel” by the king.
I remember the first time you were parted from us, Eärnil; that was when you captured the Black Númenórean lord, Belphegor, while patrolling the Western Straight after the storm. Berúthiel had grown strong enough to ride; and I brought her to Nenmárros Bay, for I thought that the ruin of her ship would return her memory to her.
As we searched amid the wreckage for anything that she might recognize, Berúthiel bent over and drew out of the tide an amulet — a red jewel strung upon a leather thong. She looked at me and said: “I remember now, my father gave this to me.” Her words were cut short by a violent seizure. She cried out, clutching her breast as though she had been stabbed, and fell to the ground. I bore her to the safety of the Hallows, and made a fire for her warmth.
When she awoke, Berúthiel said that she remembered her name and who she was. She recalled now the events of her voyage, and how the storm had seized her ship before it could reach Tolfalas. But the memory of the storm itself eluded her. She would only say that there was malice in that storm, and that it had pursued her ship as a wolf stalking its prey. She shivered, for she believed that someone was trying to kill her.
When Berúthiel had recovered from her seizure, Tarannon departed the island, bringing her to Osgiliath as his betrothed. I, Eärnil, remained behind to command the garrison at Tolfalas. Of my capture of Belphegor, I remember only that when he was brought in chains to Caras Tolfalas, he had looked upon Berúthiel and smiled. Tarannon took the crown in the name of Falastur, and took to wife and Queen the woman whom all now believed to be the daughter of Thorondur of Arnor.
The events at Nenmárros Bay continued to haunt my wife in Osgiliath. A veil of shadow covered her remembrance of what had happened inside the storm, and she could not penetrate it. Therefore, I instructed her in the use of the Palantír, for the stone is able to view things that lie in the past. But it proved of no avail.
Then it was that the Queen experienced a vision or dream unaided by the Palantír: At Arien’s setting, Berúthiel stood in the courtyard of our house. She saw the red light of the setting sun strike the Tower of the Dome, kindling it’s silver roof like flame. But then she saw the storm approach.
From the south it came, and its pinions wreathed the city in a red darkness. Then she saw the silver Dome smoke and blacken, as though a fire burned beneath it, and streams of blood began to flow down its sides, staining and corrupting it. Berúthiel awoke from her dream suddenly, so that I too was roused from sleep. She reported to me what she had seen, and after she had finished the tale, your arrival in Osgiliath was heralded.
Tarannon speaks here of my coming to Osgiliath, bearing ill-tidings of Umbar. For forty days the watchers on Harnen had espied a constant trail of smoke rising from the direction of the Black Númenórean stronghold, and we feared that these wicked lords of necromancy were slaughtering victims to Melkor, in whose Temple they still served gladly even after the fall of Númenor.
It was a harbinger of war as we had guessed, and Tarannon returned with me at once to Caras Tolfalas to muster our forces in the defense of Gondor. He would not suffer the Queen to be brought into a place of war, however well-guarded, for she was with child; but Berúthiel would not be parted by so great a distance from the King, and could not bear to remain in Osgiliath after her vision. Therefore, Tarannon consented to her accompanying him as far as the Ethir, where she could dwell in the safety of the villa he had built there.
The war was renewed for several months, and I held the garrison of Tolfalas while the King led the fleet against the Umbarean forces south of Harnen. Then it was that Prince Thorondur promised us timely aid to our cause, having prepared seven strong ships of war at Tharbad and bidding me sail there to take command of them. I deemed that it would be safe to leave Tolfalas in the hands of one of my lieutenants, for the war was now many days voyage south of the island; but evil came of it, despite my judgment.
For after I had left for Tharbad, it happened that Belphegor, the Umbarean lord whose ship I had captured, broke out of his imprisonment at Caras Tolfalas and escaped in his ship, bound for the Ethir. Whether by purpose or fate, I do not know. There is more to tell of this, but first I must relate what happened when I arrived in Tharbad.
When Thorondur received me, he inquired as to the health of his daughter (for he had not seen Berúthiel since her departure for Gondor). In the course of our conversation, the Prince made reference to his daughter’s golden hair (for that is a rare thing among the Dúnedain). This troubled me greatly, for unless my eyes had lost their sight, the woman whom Tarannon and I had found upon the beach of Nenmárros Bay had had hair dark as the night.
I did not speak of this to Thorondur, because I did not yet know the truth of the matter; but I took my leave of the Prince at once and returned to Tolfalas in haste. I would have waited for the King’s return from Harnen, but the news of Belphegor’s escape multiplied my fears. The island garrison had been unaware of the Queen’s presence in the Ethir (Tarannon having resolved to keep her whereabouts a secret), but now it seemed that the King’s precautions had turned to our undoing.
I arrived to find the King’s villa empty and abandoned. The Queen had returned to Osgiliath, but she did not return alone. She had left behind a diary recounting all that had befallen her since her coming to the Ethir. I have reproduced those sections of it that seemed to shed light on and interpret the events which were to follow. The entries were not dated, so it is sometimes difficult to guess how much time has passed between them. I sometimes wonder whether it would have mattered.
More than three weeks have passed since I have heard aught of Tarannon my husband, and the birth of our child draws near. But the passage of Time has become strange to my eyes — moments slip away like tears, the days seem to lengthen into years, the world around me has grown silent and empty. I, too, am changing.
Hold me close to you, Memory: for I could not bear to be torn from you a second time! And yet you drift away from me like the waters that pass beneath the arches of this house. Will you be lost again at sea? Will I ever know peace? I feel as though I should be driven to madness but for the life that grows within me — the only thing that means anything to me now…
The walls of this villa close in upon me like a prison. Eryn my maidservant has offered me the hospitality of her village, and Anborn the King’s guard has granted me leave to visit the Ethir Folk there. He knows that I have grown weak, but he cannot understand the cause of it. I fear that I perceive all too well what is happening to me. But why was I chosen to suffer? What crime have I committed that I should pay so terrible a price? I cannot say, and that is the cruelest part to bear…
Something terrible has happened at the villa in my absence. Anborn came struggling into Talain by foot just before nightfall. He was wounded, and his whole body was burning with a fever. He was too exhausted to tell what evil had befallen him, but the village headman told me that he had seen Anborn’s condition before. The red stone that my father had given me began to glow with an inner fire when I drew near to Anborn’s body. Unable to endure waiting for Anborn to recover, I commanded the Ethir Folk to bear me back to the villa in their boats. Eryn accompanied me.
There was a ship moored next to the villa when I arrived — it was the vessel of the Black Númenórean whom Eärnil had captured near Tolfalas just after the storm. There had been fighting between these rogues and Anborn’s men, but not one on either side was left alive — save Belphegor, and he shared the same affliction as Anborn; but Belphegor had not been wounded by steel, and had enough strength to speak words to me.
Whether fate or choice had brought him to me, I cannot guess, but from his lips I learned the secrets that the storm had veiled from me since I was washed ashore — terrible secrets. Even the thought of repeating his words fills me with loathing, but I fear that in a very short time I may never be able to recount them again to anyone.
Berúthiel is dead. They killed her, and I have been cursed to bear her memory to fill my own emptiness. But now the burden is worse, for alien memories that once were mine have returned to me, and I understand now the evil purpose for which they were hidden from me until now. No longer can I be Berúthiel, but neither can I return to who I once was, before the storm. I, too, will soon be dead, but not by their hands.
They seek my child, the one thing that I might still have called my own. That is why Berúthiel had to die. That is why they have murdered my sleep; and the day will come when they will seek to make my child a tool for their evil designs. They must not succeed, but neither will I decide my child’s fate, for it would be their way to dominate the choice of another. This I will not do.
I remember a time — an abyss of time that now separates me from my life. I remember the red stone, and the cats … Oh, yes; the cats! Those eyes that could find their way home in a blind night. Those eyes that preyed upon the living. And I remember how Fuinur saved me from death at the hands of their master; how he loved me as the daughter he never had; how he gave me the stone to protect me; how he said we would live forever — it was a lie, and I must suffer the penalty.
But I have the stone; and soon I will have the cats, for they fear this thing and are bound to the will of the one that wields it. I will bind them to this tortured soul, and they will receive my pain. They will not save me, but they may be able to help me save my child. There are many dark secrets in Gondor, windows that look into the uncertain future or into the dark past.
Time is not deceived, but if there is a way to hold on just a little longer, perhaps I will live to see the birth of my child. I have nothing more to hope for in this hateful dream. Eryn will guide me through the night’s labyrinth, to this den of fear where they dwell. Now, follow me to the end.
I followed the Queen to Osgiliath, and found her in the King’s House with a newborn infant cradled in her arms. Gundor the Steward was with her, and he spoke to me of the circumstances of the Queen’s arrival and of the strange events that followed.
He told me that the Queen had arrived by night, and that she was borne up the river by a ship of Umbar (though it was manned by the Ethir Folk). Belphegor was with her, but he was too weak to move of his own accord, and the Queen ordered him brought to the courtyard of the King’s House. The Queen was herself weakened by the travail of labour, and was carried to a bed in the house; but with her came ten cats — nine black and one white — such as are common to the Ethir, and each was carried in the arms of one of the Queen’s attendants.
Now Gundor was present at the birth of the Queen’s child, and he told me that Berúthiel had lain near to death for many hours. But the cats encircled her as though protecting her from some unseen enemy, and she lived.
It became known that the Queen had returned to Osgiliath; but she refused all visitors, and Gundor instructed the servants to keep silent about the matter of the child. But a shadow of fear fell upon the people of Osgiliath during the following days, before my arrival; for it was reported that these cats were seen in many places of the city, and even as far as Minas Anor and Minas Ithil. How they were able to travel so swiftly was never discovered, but Gundor had heard from the King’s seers that these creatures had made their way into the chambers of the Palantíri and were gazing into the stones.
The fate of Belphegor and Anborn the Queen’s guard is better left unspoken, but rumor of the foul end to which their condition had brought them soon spread uncontrollably throughout Osgiliath; and people cursed the Queen, naming her Berúthiel,’ that is “Woman of Malice.” Anborn and Belphegor had been infested by these cat-things which, it seems, only wore the fana of cats, and when their flesh had been corrupted beyond humanity, the creatures rose out of them and disappeared.
Whether these things were sent by the Queen was never learned, but Berúthiel was so weakened that she could barely speak. When I found her she was like a candle flickering in the wind. Overcome with pity for her anguish which I did not understand, I took her hand and in my desperation asked her who in truth she was. Ancalimë, daughter of Fuinur,’ was her answer; and those were the last words that passed her lips.
I bore the Queen with her child in great haste to the King, who had returned to Caras Tolfalas from the war. The cats followed, as though bound to her (though the red stone of which she spoke in her diary was nowhere to be found). Tarannon was overcome with grief for his wife’s death, but commanded that her body be set upon a boat and surrendered to the grace of Uinen. The cats would not be parted from her.
The fate of Ancalimë’s child is a secret known only to myself and a few others (lest the Queen’s fears about the dark designs she wrote of should prove true); but I shall pass this knowledge onto Ciryandil my own son when the time comes for him to succeed me. In my quest to discover the truth about the Queen (to which I now, at last, turn), this secrecy has been well-vindicated.
I succeeded Tarannon Falastur upon his death in the year 9 13, and resolved to renew war against Umbar; for I perceived that the answers to my questions would lie there in the end. And in the year 933, I led the hosts against the Black Númenórean haven by land and sea, and took it in that same year. I destroyed the wicked Temple of Melkor, whose alter had seen great evil, and slew its warden, who prophesied to me in these words even as his life flowed out of him:
Hear me, faithful shoes of the West!
And know that the hour of thy doom draws nigh;
For though ‘reft of life, my words shall not perish.
Nay, for already thou knottiest the sign that was hidden.
Its seed has been planted in thy midst.
And ten lives of Men shall not pass ere its fruit be revealed.
And should set foot upon these stones,
And raise up this Temple from its ruin.
Then will thou know this one, for it is a mortal name;
And will call upon the Lord of the Dark,
That those who serve him should be redeemed at last,
And taste within themselves the cup of deathlessness.
And the name of Melkor will overshadow the ashes of their foes.
These words will I ever remember. But I have razed that Temple to the ground, and have built a strong tower over it, and have caused to be set about it a circle of oiolairë trees that are sacred to Uinen, to ward off any evil that should try to realize the prophecy.
Lady of the Waters, preserve us in our paths
Blessed Uinen, defend us from the storm and what it hides
Remember the Sign of your covenant
The Karma that heals, the curse repealed
Handout # 5: Letter found on the Arangwil
You are to proceed with the Arangwil to Ethir Andutin, where you will meet a company of ships from Umbar. Together you will continue upriver to Pelargir and assist Zimrakhil and Belphegor in obtaining the artefact from the Hall of the Faithful. From thence, you will return to a place in the Ethir that is called Benish Armon.
Zimrakhil will join the other ships on their return to Umbar, but the Orthanc-stone must be surrendered to Belphegor. He will see to the awakening of these things against Vinitharya and his house. When that is achieved, you will return to Umbar at once.
22 Ceeveth, 1450, III
Umbar Scroll #1
IN THE NINE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-FIRST YEAR OF THE EXILE, THE LORDS OF UMBAR SAT IN FEAR, FOR THE ELENDILI WERE PRESSING UPON THEIR COASTAL DOMINIONS IN HARADWAITH, AND WERE ADVANCING WITH FIRE AND WAR EVEN UNTO THE CAPE OF UMBAR. IN THAT TIME WAS HEARD A VOICE OF PROPHECY, THAT SPOKE THE PROMISES OF MELKOR TO THE REMNANT THAT STILL HELD TO THE OLD WAYS, SAYING THAT THE LORD OF THE DARK HAD NOT ABANDONED HIS FOLLOWERS, BUT WAS PREPARING TO GRANT THEM AN UNENDING LEGACY FOR THE CONTINUANCE OF THEIR BLOODLINE.
MANY DOUBTED THIS VOICE, WHOSE NAME WAS CALLED ZIMRAKHIL, FOR THE KING’S MEN HAD DWINDLED, AND NO WOMAN OF PURE LINEAGE NOW LIVED TO BEAR SONS TO THEM. BUT THE PROPHET MOCKED THEIR UNBELIEF, ‘FOR’, HE SAID, “BENEATH THE SURFACE OF ARDA, FUINUR YET SITS UPON HIS CARVEN THRONE, AND BESIDE HIM ANCALIMË HIS DAUGHTER, WHOSE VEINS PUMP WITH THE BLOOD OF AR-PHARAZON.”
THEN MANY BELIEVED, AND IN THEIR DESPERATION THE LORDS HEEDED THE WILL OF ZIMRAKHIL AS ONE SENT WITH AUTHORITY THOUGH THEY DID NOT WHOLLY UNDERSTAND THE DESIGNS OF MELKOR. ZIMRAKHIL BADE THEM JOURNEY INTO THE GREAT DESERT TO A PLACE THAT WAS CALLED THE MIRROR OF FIRE. THERE, IN DARK WATERS OF NENDUHIR, LAY FUINUR’S WELL. AND ZIMRAKHIL GAVE TO THEM THE KEY THAT WOULD OPEN THE DOORS OF HIS HALL, AND THEY BROUGHT FORTH ANCALIMË, FOSTER-DAUGHTER OF FUINUR, UNTO A GREAT DESTINY
Umbar Scroll #2
LET IT BE KNOWN THAT IN THE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-SECOND YEAR OF THE EXILE I, FUINUR, LORD OF BOTH FAR AND NEAR HARAD, DEFIED THE CURSE OF DEATH, NAMING FOR MYSELF AND FOR ANCALIMË MY DAUGHTER THE FULFILLMENT OF MELKOR’S PROMISE. FOR BY THE POWER OF THE KUILËONDO I HAVE SUMMONED OUT OF THE LIVING WATERS OF NENDUHIR THOSE NAMELESS THINGS THAT GNAW AT THE FOUNDATIONS OF ARDA, COMMANDING THEM TO PREPARE FOR ME A MANSION WHERE THE STING OF DEATH SHALL NOT TOUCH ME. TO THIS, MY ETERNAL SEAT OF DOMINION, SHALL ALL HARADWAITH DO HOMAGE, UNTIL THE LORD OF THE DARK IS PLEASED TO BESTOW MY GIFT UPON ALL THAT SERVE HIM.
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