1. 1. The Sibling Princes
"…they have my loyalty, not my love…" ~ Calimendil
In the name of all that I hold sacred I, Iliandor, vassal and advisor to the King, have taken it upon myself to give a written account of the life and death of King Calimendil. Yet I do not do so willingly, for it is a grave and tearful undertaking. Indeed, it is only by request of Amariel, the late Calimendil's widow and rightful ruler of Cardolan, that I have consented to this, for she greatly desired to have the courageous deeds of her husband recorded for posterity. I promised her I would do so and have now completed my book after much trouble and toil. Oh the tears I have shed unearthing old memories that would have been better to remain dormant for the rest of my years! Yet in doing this I have also regained a sense of pride and redemption, for long have I blamed myself for failing to do more to dissuade the king from his path of war and ruin. Alas! What a ruin it was! I, myself was there to witness the King's own death, as well as his two sons within the vastness of Rhudaur. My own death seemed near at hand soon afterwards. Yet by fate or some other contrivance that cannot be explained, I and two others only escaped the horrible tragedy that summer evening of the year 1319.
I have, moreover, dealt with these matters in such a way so as to pay due honor to a remarkably misunderstood man who ascended to the kingship most unexpectedly and with utmost humility. The usurpers who now infest Dol Calantir and sit in idleness as civil war threatens to tear apart Cardolan have succeeded largely in poisoning the legacy that Calimendil has left behind him. The reputation of a fallen king is a thing to be both nurtured and preserved. Yet my king was granted neither love nor loyalty from the greater part of his subjects during his rein on the throne. He was mocked, stabbed and poisoned by his foes and detractors. Yet the great Calimendil endured their attempts to end his life.
The year 1320 marked the year of detriment and degradation for my country. It was the turning point in the final chapter of the fate of Cardolan. The death of the king and his sons, and the subsequent expulsion of the Queen at the hands of the rival princes served as a catalyst to plunge the country into a maelstrom of confusion and corruption. Chaos was a perfection when compared to our present state of order. Nobles from all corners of the realm now call the once magnificent court of Dol Calantir their home as they vie for power with one another. They concealed not at all their mutual hatred for their king and sovereign after his death, for Calimendil succeeded in limiting their influence and authority as no other king before him had done.
Yet they hated me no less, for jealousy breeds contempt. Many of the nobles and princes of the realm had anticipated an immediate promotion among them to fill the vacant post of Advisor to the King. Yet their hopes were dashed. Following the death of King Tarandil, Calimendil sought me out and begged me to remain in my post, as I had been in close friendship with his late father. I accepted his offer on the spot, thus earning many enemies.
Being ten years older than he and having had experience in dealing with meddling nobles under the tutelage of Tarandil, Calimendil was glad to receive my service. He knew full well what danger they posed to his throne in such a troublesome time. Though the war and the brunt of the troubles posed by Angmar to the north were still to come, perils existed aplenty throughout the lands. Arthedain was relentless in their attempts to squeeze out any competition for control of Amon Sul and peppered the estates of Cardolan with her spies. Their king was Celebrindor, a cunning, well-intentioned man. Yet he was callous and over-bearing in his dealings with Cardolan.
Rhudaur was gradually adopting a policy of non-conformity with her two sister-realms. They became increasingly more isolated and often spoke against the intentions of both Arthedain and Cardolan. Yet they persisted in their claim upon the tower of Amon Sul. The Dunedain there had by then dwindled to a small number, though they still held the fortress of Cameth Brin and the village beneath it at the time.
Their king was Ermegil. Tarandil came to detest this man for his unruly behavior and his patronage and fondness for the city of Tharbad, which Tarandil loathed. He charged that Ermegil sought to encourage uprisings and revolts in Cardolan's largest city to distract his attention from the complications around Amon Sul; and he was right. Dunlendings from Dunland began to take up residency in Tharbad, many of them joining the town guilds therein. The traffic upon the river Metheithel began to double during Tarandil's rein. Boats and vessels made their way downstream from Rhudaur to Tharbad bearing heavy loads and they were manned with men from strange origins.
It is Calimendil's quarrel and war with Rhudaur that my tale herein recounts.
Let me not get ahead of myself. In order to understand the complexity of a man's character we must start with his earliest years and go forward. Calimendil was the third child of Tarandil and Elenarian. His brother Vorondil was the oldest followed soon afterwards by Arriana, his sister. The two siblings were very close even from the earliest days of their childhood and were seldom parted. The birth of Calimendil followed most unexpectedly seven years after Arriana in the year 1172. Like his siblings he was born at court in Dol Calantir, though he received scant attention from the people, for he was third in line to the throne behind his siblings.
In his youth Calimendil was generally a reserved boy who sought out the company of his mother more so than his father. From Elenarian he was bestowed with the gifts of humility, compassion and generosity. He soon acquired many interests such as fencing, horseback riding, and music, the latter talent having been taught to him by his mother. Indeed, he became skilled on the lute and harp and possessed a fine voice for singing. It was not for nothing that he was later referred to as the 'Minstrel-King' by his people. As a prince he would often fail to show up at royal meetings of rule and law in favor of going about with the King's musicians to the estates and manors of other nobles. This would often incur the wrath of his father, yet Calimendil did not care much back then. And why should he? Whenever he was chastised for his absenteeism he would chide, "Let my brother look to it! He is the King's Heir, not I!"
Calimendil's relationship with his brother Vorondil was a happy one in their early years. Being nearly ten years the elder, Vorondil was protective of his little brother even from the beginning. He taught Calimendil how to ride his first horse, how to fire an arrow with a bow, how to tell poisonous plants from edible ones, how to track a stag in the wild, and how to predict the weather using old Dunedain methods. Vorondil also taught his brother how to fight with his fists and how to watch his back among the thieves and cutthroats of Tharbad. Yet in the end he failed to follow his own advice and thus he paid the ultimate price for it, which we shall see later.
The two sons' of the king and queen were seldom parted from one another in those years. Their life at the king's court was a good one. Vorondil was overjoyed at Calimendil's birth and would have even been present as his mother gave birth to him had he been allowed to. He had finally received the brother and companion he had wished for. Yet their relationship waned as the years went by, and by the time the two brothers had reached the early stages of manhood they were estranged. When they became full princes they lived on opposite ends of the realm. The reasons for the estrangement are numerous and mostly petty, yet the culprits of the tension lay in jealousy, competition and, more significantly, the rivalry for their sister's attention.
Arriana was always a mysterious character to me. She was as loyal a daughter any parent could wish for, yet she also possessed a mischievous nature. She loved both her brothers dearly in the early days, yet her bond with Vorondil was always the stronger. To amuse herself she would at times play one brother off against the other to achieve her desire. Yet ere long Calimendil became wise to her schemes and tired of the chase. In one instance he betrayed her confidence by informing their father of Arriana's plan to secretly visit Tharbad with some servants. Tarandil hated the city and forbade her from visiting it and took measures thereafter to prevent her from going there. Long did she bear a grudge against Calimendil for his betrayal. For his part Calimendil began to regard his sister with stoic indifference. Their relationship became marred and was never to fully mend again.
As the children of the king grew and matured each of them became engrossed in their own interests. As the eldest child and heir of the king, Vorondil was required to rule over his own province in Cardolan. He chose therefore to make his dwelling within the castle and watchtower that was then called Dol Argond. That tower was constructed many ages before by the engineers of Elendil to serve as an outpost and sanctuary for weary travelers and merchants. It sat upon a tall bank nigh the river Metheithel and commanded a wide view of the river and the lands across from it. Yet when Vorondil settled there he had built anew two tall towers that looked to both the north and west, and between all three towers there was a high wall of stone to protect it from invasion. Thus Dol Argond was transformed from a lone tower into a solid fortress. All traffic upon the river was watched closely by Vorondil and his guard and not a few vessels flowing down from the north were seized by his men and confiscated ere they were able to reach Tharbad. As king, Calimendil would likewise follow suit, yet he went even further by closing off all traffic along the river into Tharbad in order to starve the malicious guildsmen therein.
Arriana was a silent voice at that time and remained so for some time thereafter, until a scandal thrust her forward into public gossip. For the most part she remained with her mother and father at court, save when she would go about among the fields and woods of Cardolan with Vorondil.
Calimendil enjoyed the court of Dol Calantir and all that it had to offer. He loved its lush gardens and fountains, its tall trees of oak, ash, and maple, and especially its ladies and maidens fair. When the sun was riding high and leisure would permit it he was to be found in the king's libraries or among the king's minstrels. Yet when the moon took its turn in the sky he favored stargazing and serenading. Often he would pluck the strings of his harp and sing under the window of a lovely lass as she slept in offer of his courtship. Calimendil lived a fruitful life in the early years of his manhood. It was a happy time for him, as he would later confide to me as we marched to war together in Rhudaur. His only regret was that he took those joyful years for granted.
When Calimendil had reached his full manhood he took his leave of the court and removed to his own estate in the north of the realm among the rolling hills and downs. He became prince and lord of his manor, which was known as Metraith. It was there he would set up his own network of spies and cavalrymen to roam the northern countryside from the old road in the west, that ran north and south through the realm, to the Metheithel in the east. In particular he was required by the king to supply fresh steeds to the Cardolani horsemen upon the fortress of Amon Sul. In this way Calimendil learned much about horse breeding and became a skilled rider in his day. During the years of relative peace many a young nobleman would ride to Metraith to compete in contests of skill upon horseback with Calimendil. Most of the time they would lose.
Now it happened that it the year 1191 Calimendil was summoned by his father to appear at Dol Calantir. Yet he tarried on the way thither, halting to visit and dine with local peasants that dwelt along the Nen-I-Sul, which was that river that ran north to south through the mid-section of Cardolan. The river scarcely exists now, for it was dammed up by the orcs that roamed the north at will after the war, for the warriors of Arthedain seldom venture south of Amon Sul now that our two realms are estranged. Yet once it was Cardolan's main waterway, which ran its course through the court of Dol Calantir ere it joined the Gwathlo. In its day it was a beautiful bubbling stream that was lined on either side by willow trees that were planted by Elendil's people long before. Many farmers and sheperds relied on it for water for their herds and flocks. When the orcs fouled its waters and dammed it up the livestock of the people soon perished and the peasantry fled. Many of the stones that were used for the dam were taken from Calimendil's own estate, Metraith, which, alas, the orcs of the mountains destroyed during their warpath.
When Calimendil arrived at Dol Calantir he found his reception from the King a cold one. To his surprise, his brother Vorondil, whom he had not seen for some time, had also received the summons. When at last the two brothers stood before the King and Queen they were commanded that they should go both together to the court of Fornost Erain. Now that fortress was where the king of Arthedain made his abode and stronghold. It lay not less than 200 leagues and 20 to the north as the crow flies from Dol Calantir. Celebrindor, King of Arthedain, had sent them an invitation to come and visit their neighbor to the north as a gesture of goodwill and friendship between Arthedain and Cardolan.
Here I must describe in brief the political circumstances of Arnor during that period. Arnor consisted of Arthedain to the north, Rhudaur to the east, and Cardolan to the south. Rhudaur had long since become an unreliable ally. Both Arthedain and Cardolan looked upon that country with suspicion, for Ermegil, King of Rhudaur, sought to break up the alliance over the disputed ownership of Amon Sul, which all three realms coveted. The tower of Amon Sul stood upon the highest hilltop in the land and lay upon the boundary of the three sister-realms. Ermegil was a jealous, impatient, ass of a man who resented the uniform propriety that was expected of him by his irksome neighbors. Ever he would complain to Arthedain and Cardolan that Rhudaur was underrepresented at Amon Sul, and he suspected that if his two neighbors continued to prosper together they would unite and plot to overthrow him. Not long after he began to neglect his ancient duty as king to attend the summits between the three realms, and instead began to forge new and secret friendships with men from strange origins. He was the first ruler to do this. I will mention him again later, yet for now I will go back to my tale.
At that time both Arthedain and Cardolan enjoyed a somewhat warm, though often unstable, alliance. Tarandil had continued to forge close ties with Celebrindor, but their relationship fell under strain over the disputed ownership of the tower of Amon Sul, and especially the legendary seeing-stones that were housed therein. It was not until recently that these artifacts were even known to exist, save among the wise. They were called Palantiri in the elven tongue. I, of course, knew of their existence, for I was one of the king's personal advisors and thus deep in Tarandil's confidence. Tarandil rightly claimed that since Arthedain already possessed one Palantir of their own in the city of Annuminas they had no right to claim the seeing-stone at Amon Sul. Rhudaur was far too unstable a country to be trusted with its guardianship. Therefore Cardolan ought to have parental rights to it. But the Palantir housed at Amon Sul was the largest of all the stones and possessed the greater power, and Arthedain would not, under any condition, consent to relinquish its haughty claim to it. Nor would they suffer it to be removed from Amon Sul to Dol Calantir, which many of the nobles of Arthedain suspected Tarandil would do if Cardolan were to possess the stone. They reasoned that Dol Calantir sat within close proximity to the city of Tharbad, and thus bringing it dangerously near to the mischievous, unruly lords that dwelt there. They insisted that the stone remain within the tower where, of old, Elendil had placed it. It was the beginning of the years of quarrels and failed negotiations between the sister-realms of old Arnor; a hopeless paradox that would never be solved, and it tore apart the alliance.
When Calimendil and Vorondil learned of their new errand they were glad indeed, for both desired to see the fortress of Fornost Erain. It was the mightiest of all the castles in the west of Middle-earth and stood as a source of pride, strength, culture and trade among all the Dunedain in the north. The fact that neither of the two brothers had been aware that they would be travelling together was, according to Calimendil, a cunning contrivance of their mother, Elenarian. It was crucial for the future of Cardolan that both the king's heirs maintain a positive relationship with one another after their parents were laid to rest in the tombs of Tyrn Gorthad.
Therefore, Tarandil proclaimed to his two sons that they would be away from the realm for one year, adding, "I have sent word to Celebrindor that you shall be his guests, for he has invited you to his court as a token of friendship; or so he claims. Loath was I to comply with his request by sending both my sons to him at once, but I will not allow my two greatest princes to become estranged, for you are my heirs and are bound to one another by blood. It is for the good of your brotherhood and the future of Cardolan's survival amid the troubled times ahead, or so I deem them to be." It was only later that Calimendil discovered that, in truth, only Vorondil had been offered the invitation from Celebrindor, but Elenarian insisted that Calimendil be allowed to go as well.
The two brothers arrived at Fornost without incident, despite the long road they took, for in those days the lands were safe and free of brigands and villains. Here they remained for some time, leaving only to visit Annuminas, three day's ride to the west. That city was renowned in its day; not for its size or strength, but rather for its beauty, its architecture, and it ancestry. It also held great feasts and festivals in autumn that was renowned throughout the land; of these I can attest for myself, for I attended many of them in my earlier years. These festivities drew many travellers from abroad to the city, including dwarves from the mountains and even some elves. It was here that Calimendil's life would forever be changed.
On the second morning after arriving to Annuminas Calimendil took his leave of Vorondil to make a solo sojourn into the Emyn Uial, the Hills of Twilight. Those hills lie west and a little north of the great Lake of Nenuial nigh the city and were beloved not only by the men of the region, but also by the Eldar, who could be seen roaming the woods under the stars at night by a lucky passer-by. One evening just after dusk, as Calimendil lay gazing into the heavens in a thicket of tall grass upon a hilltop, he was befriended by the Noldor elves. Though they wondered much why a man from Minhiriath would travel alone in a far away country, they nonetheless welcomed him, for Calimendil was an elf-friend. He had always loved the elves, though he had seen them only once before as a young man. Calimendil was the last of the old kings to exhibit a genuine affection for the Eldar. My only wish was that he would have later yielded way to the wishes of his wife, in that he should seek the council of the Eldar ere he undertake his chosen war against Rhudaur.
When Calimendil told the Noldor of his origin and that he was the son of the King of Cardolan the elves smiled, as they already seemed to be aware of his identity. For their part, they took him into their party, saying, "Come Calimendil, son of Tarandil! We will show you the wonders of the Emyn Uial. Cast away the burdens and troubles of your mind and rejoice as you gaze upon the wonders of Ea, though this is only a small corner of it to us." Calimendil was granted the special privilege of remaining in their company for three days, as he later told me. In truth it is unlikely that he was with the elves for that long, for mortal men are apt to loose all sense of time when in the presence of the high elves from the Old World. Nevertheless, the Noldor sang for him and gave him two gifts ere they departed – a harp of silver and a magnificent long sword crafted by the elven smiths long ago in ancient Eregion. The latter item is now lost, deemed to have been taken by the depraved brigands of Rhudaur after the war. Fortunately, the harp is now in the possession of Calimendil's widow, Amariel, where it shall remain.
After the Noldor had left him Calimendil fell into a peaceful sleep within the woods of the hills. When he awoke he felt as if he had dreamt the entire episode with the elves, but when he saw the two gifts that had been given him he smiled to himself, realising the actuality of it all. He then collected his gifts and hastened back to Annuminas to his story to his brother.
When Vorondil heard the tale of Calimendil and the elves he nearly laughed. But when he saw the harp and the sword that had been given to his brother Vorondil knew that Calimendil had indeed met the elven folk and, for the first time, Vorondil was envious of his younger brother. Not only because Calimendil had accompanied the Noldor in Emyn Uial, but also due to the elven-sword, for it was superior to any blade that Vorondil or any other Cardolani prince possessed. It would be the last time that either one of them would see or meet any of the Eldar while their lives lasted.
Soon afterwards the two brothers departed Annuminas and returned to Fornost Erain, where Celebrindor received them once again. Here they remained for the rest of the duration of their stay. Vorondil performed his requisite duties as his father's heir, making acquaintances and forging friendships with the lords assembled there, for one day he would be the king of Cardolan and would thus have to forge alliances with them. He promised Celebrindor that Tarandil had no greater wish than to maintain close ties between their to realms, and unite together, if necessary, to deal with the unruly Ermegil in Rhudaur.
Calimendil spent much of his time there reading and studying maps, along with sharpening his skills with the sword, the bow, and the lance. But most significantly he made the acquaintance of Amariel, a young noblewoman who resided at Fornost. Being the cousin of King Celebrindor, Amariel enjoyed wide favour with the king and the noblemen. Though there were indeed many fine and exemplary young maidens at the court of Celebrindor, few of them matched the delicate beauty of Amariel. Some rumoured that she possessed elf-blood in her veins, but it was not so. She was a wise yet gentle presence wheresoever she went. As she matured she developed all the charms of young womanhood in beauty of figure and form, sprightliness of mind, and of speech and etiquette. She sang sweetly, spoke Sindarin fluently, and wrote poetry that many poets affected to praise. She would have been a prize for many of the gentlemen that courted her, but in the end she found in none of them the ideal mate which her heart yearned for. Calimendil was quickly smitten with Amariel and, though she sought to hide it, she with him.
Now the father of Amariel was Rathmir, a nobleman and kinsman to Celebrindor. Once he had been an expert tracker and warrior, many times doing battle with the Hillmen of Rhudaur in the east. Yet at the time of Calimendil's visit to Fornost he had become older and unfit to be a ranger in the wild. Rathmir was as loyal a patriot to the crown of Arthedain as any among him and he greatly desired for his daughter to wed a man of Arthedainindili lineage. Little did it please him to learn of Calimendil and Amariel's courtship, for Rathmir held lowly opinions of Cardolan and mistrusted them. He therefore asked the king to intervene by declaring a premature end to Vorondil and Calimendil's stay at Fornost. He sought to convince Celebrindor that they were performing spy-work for Tarandil. But the king refused him at that time...
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.