Choice Once Made, A
1. A Choice Once Made
The quotation that ends this story has always been one of my favorite images in Tolkien's work, and I have wondered how Tar-Míriel saw herself. This story is an attempt to discover that.
Since the Elder Days it has been said that hope arises with the dawn, but in the hour that precedes it I see little hope. For I have been enchained by my own choices, and if such was not my desire, still it was in part my doing. And I recall my failures, and tell them over so that I may not forget.
When Tar-Palantir my father knew that death drew near, he summoned me to him and asked if I had given thought to the future, when I should be Queen. For my cousin Pharazôn, he said, could be a threat to my rule, being esteemed a great captain and lord by many. Would it not be wise for me to choose a husband for my aid and support, should I need it? And Elentir the son of Númendil Lord of Andúnië had sought my hand.
But I rejected this counsel. Had not Tar-Telperien ruled alone and unaided, and could I not do likewise? I wanted no husband who might supplant me.
And so matters stood, when my father's grief at the dishonor of his people became too great for his spirit to bear, and he laid him down to die.
For three years I ruled alone, and ever I heard the murmurings of the people. They liked not that I continued to go to the Hallow on the Meneltarma as my father had done, nor that I tended the White Tree, but named these deeds superstition and foolishness. For the Faithful were few in number, and dwelt mostly in Rómenna, though some also remained near Andúnië, where Amandil was now lord. And Pharazôn was the leader of those who spake against me, but he was cunning and did not then declare himself, but ever claimed to support my rule.
Then I bethought me that it might now be wise to heed my father's advice, and I sent a courier to summon Elentir to Armenelos. But my messenger was intercepted by my cousin Pharazôn, who came to me instead. With honeyed words he persuaded me that a union between us would end this civil unrest. And I looked at him, and he was tall and fair and proud, and I agreed to his proposals. Alas that I did! For even as I prepared to wed, he prepared to seize my throne from me. Of my twelve chief councilors but one remained loyal in the face of Pharazôn's promises to them, and they agreed to accept him as king.
I can say little of our marriage night; the very memory of it darkens my mind. As I lay like a beaten animal he took the sceptre and sat on the throne of Elros, naming himself Ar-Pharazôn the Golden, king of Númenor, and me he called Ar-Zimraphel. Perhaps it was intended as a kindness, that he did not strip my title from me. If so it was the last time he was ever kind to any.
Men say that his reign is great, that he has brought power and wealth and glory to our land. He has claimed not only the throne of Númenor, but the rule of all the earth, and has called himself the King of Men. Such is his pride that after the wars in Middle-earth he brought back his chief enemy Sauron as hostage, who has persuaded him to many ill deeds, not least the felling of the White Tree.
But before that impiety was done, a fruit of the Tree was preserved, and thus perhaps there is hope for some of my people, though there may be none for me. For Isildur, son of Elendil, son of Amandil came to me, having heard of the Tree from his grandfather, and wishing to see it before the King gave in to Sauron's urging. And I disguised him, that he might steal into the court unrecognized. By chance a fruit was ripe, and Isildur carried it safely to Amandil, though assailed and wounded by the guards.
I have heard in secret that the sapling thrives in the keeping of the Lord of Andúnië. I trust it may be so. My father once prophesied that the ending of the White Tree would prove the ending of the line of kings; it seems it will be the ending of my line, at least, for I have borne no child.
The Tree once destroyed, Sauron persuaded his captor that a temple should be built for the worship of the Dark, and to his true master Melkor it was dedicated. And the temple was a great circle domed in silver, but the silver turned to black when they burned the Tree on the altar. The purpose of their worship was to escape death, and to this end they chose victims for sacrifice, believing perhaps that by cutting another's life short they might thereby lengthen their own. Although my heart is sickened within me that I should live to see such deeds done in my time, a yet worse design is lately come to pass.
For now the usurper, my husband, having grown aged despite the teachings of Sauron, thinks to assault Valinor itself, believing that thus he shall have life eternal. He has caused to be built ships enough to darken all the waters of the ocean, and purposes to seize the Blessed Land from the Valar as he seized my land from me. At the time of his departure the sky burned like a crimson flame, and the wind died to nothing, and the clouds took the form of the Eagles of Manwë; but these omens only increased the hardness of his heart. It is now eight-and-thirty days since the fleet set sail. No word of events has yet come from the east, and my heart forbodes what may happen.
Who can say what might have been, had I in my pride not refused my father's counsel? Or had I been strong enough, wise enough, to resist my cousin's persuasion? I desired to bring peace to my people, and instead they have known little but war. For myself I can accept the ill consequences of my decisions, but I regret greatly the evils I helped bring to them. Must a choice once made endure forever?
I see little hope, but recognize my duty. Though it might seem I can only wait in the great tower built by Elros my forefather until some news reveals what the future holds, yet I name myself with my own name again, which has been unheard these hundred years and more; I name myself Tar-Míriel, the Queen. And whether or no he who is called king succeeds in his mad plans, he shall not return here unchallenged. Though the life remaining to me may be short, I choose to return to the loyalties of my father, which were those of Elros himself, and reclaim my throne. The dawn comes soon; I will wait for it, and then I will begin.
"But the land of Aman and Eressëa of the Eldar were taken away and removed beyond the reach of Men for ever. And Andor, the Land of Gift, Númenor of the Kings, Elenna of the Star of Eärendil, was utterly destroyed....
In an hour unlooked for by Men this doom befell, on the nine and thirtieth day since the passing of the fleets. Then suddenly fire burst from the Meneltarma, and there came a mighty wind and a tumult of the earth, and the sky reeled, and the hills slid, and Númenor went down into the sea, with all its children and its wives and its maidens and its ladies proud; and all its gardens and its halls and its towers, its tombs and its riches, and its jewels and its webs and its things painted and carven, and its laughter and its mirth and its music, its wisdom and its lore: they vanished for ever. And last of all the mounting wave, green and cold and plumed with foam, climbing over the land, took to its bosom Tar-Míriel the Queen, fairer than silver or ivory or pearls. Too late she strove to ascend the steep ways of the Meneltarma to the holy place; for the waters overtook her, and her cry was lost in the roaring of the wind." (1)
(1) J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion, p. 279.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.