Cardolan ravaged, Arveleg dead, Amon Sul destroyed, Ceure read from her villa on the outskirts of Osgiliath. Well, it seems that someone's getting something done.
As far as Ceure could tell, the only interesting thing that had happened around here in the last thousand years was Hyarmendacil and his massive expansion of Gondor. It had stretched from Mirkwood to Umbar. Now it was shrinking, its power weakening. Oh, this new king was trying to do something about it, but he had inherited a weakened kingdom.
Someone knocked on her door and Ceure hastily hid her letter. "Coming!" she called, hurrying to answer it.
It was the dashing prince who had been taking a fancy to her. Ceure smiled. It was a fine thing to be sought after even when one was perhaps a thousand times the seeker's age.
"My lady," the young man said with a bow, "I bring you flowers."
"How kind of you," Ceure said, taking the flowers. "Please, come in. Is there something you wanted?"
"Actually, my lady, there is," the young man said, walking in and seating himself at Ceure's table.
"What is it?" Ceure asked, setting the flowers in a vase she had ready for just such an occasion.
"I wondered what you thought of this new king," the young man said.
"Eldacar? Why, I think he is a fine king," Ceure said.
"Have you not heard then?"
"Heard what?" Ah! Now here was something that would be interesting!
The young man leaned close. "He is a halfbreed," he hissed. "His mother was of an Easterling tribe! He is not fit to rule descendents of proud Numenoreans! Why, I can see the blood of Numenor in you as plain as day! A lady such as yourself is more fit to rule than him!"
Ceure nodded, not sure whether she was being complimented or insulted. "You do not like Eldacar, Castamir?" she asked.
"Indeed I do not!" Castamir hissed. "He may be my blood-relative by some long-forgotten generation, but I care not for it! He is unworthy of ruling over Gondor, and many others agree with me!"
"That is indeed fascinating," Ceure said, "but I fail to see what part I play in it."
Castamir smiled. "There is something special about you, my lady. You have been here since I was born, and well before that, too. And before that? Why, I think you spent some time in Minas Anor. And Minas Ithil before that. Taking all things into account, you may well be an immortal Vala!"
Ceure laughed, albeit hollowly. "You jest!" she exclaimed. "I am a woman of Numenorean blood, true enough, but see for yourself my age! Look at me! I am no young spry creature, but a dignified woman of late middle-age. I am old, that is true, but I do not think it is a crime!"
Castamir laughed as well. "You are a fine liar!" he exclaimed. "What are you then? Tell me. Maia? Not a Vala, I think. Some other immortal being? Or," And he leaned close, "are you one of the forgotten Nine?"
"What are you talking about, you foolish boy?" Ceure asked.
"The Nine. The Ringwraiths. Nazgul. Are you one? Fear not! I shall not tell a soul. I just wish to know."
"I am not," Ceure said stiffly. "And I find such accusations offensive. Leave my presence immediately!"
Castamir smiled and turned to go. "I warn you, lady whoever you are, blood will run in the streets of Osgiliath tonight. The king shall flee for his life and I will rise to power. Choose your alliance carefully. I have in my heart room for all of the Nine."
Shaking her head, Ceure kept a neutral expression until the door closed behind Castamir.
Exhausted, she sank down into a chair. "What a clever little monster," she muttered.
The blood did run in the streets that night. Castamir led his rebels to victory, ousting king Eldacar and his family, well, most of his family.
"What do you want?" Ceure asked, cracking the door to her villa open.
"My lady," Castamir said, bowing. There was a small squadron of soldiers behind him, and a bound child.
"So you won," Ceure said. "Is that Prince Ornendil?" she asked, glancing at the shivering child.
"Tragically, he and his father became separated," Castamir said. "I think I'll look after him for a while. Or rather, I'd appreciate it if you'd look after him for me."
"Me?" Ceure asked.
"Yes, you. Ruling a city and crushing rebellion is difficult work. Watching a child is far beneath me. Besides, I can think of no better guardian…Ulari."
Ceure frowned. How dare the filthy Man use the elven tongue! He claimed Numenorean ancestors, but he was still a lesser being than the great sea lords. And how dare he call her a ringwraith in front of everyone!
Snaking out a hand, she seized Ornendil and pulled him into the house. "Get out of my sight," she spat at the usurper king, slamming the door in his face.
"What's happening?" Ornendil asked quietly as Ceure cut away his bounds.
"Your family's fled," Ceure said.
"They left me behind?"
"I don't know what happened," Ceure said. "I doubt they meant to."
The prince closed his eyes. He couldn't have been more than ten or eleven, but he seemed a great deal older. "So I'm alone," he said. "And Castamir is king now."
"He won't stay that way for long," Ceure promised. "No one will stand for that bastard on the throne."
"He'll kill Father!" Ornendil exclaimed and made a break for the door, but Ceure caught his shoulder. "No," she said quietly. "You mustn't leave this house, understand? Castamir will kill you." She hoped Castamir hadn't fallen so far that he would murder a child, but you never knew. Power did strange things to a man's mind…
"Burn it! Burn it! Burn it!"
"Yay! Burn it!"
There was a thunderous crash and the great dome collapsed in a spray of molten glass and sparks. There was applause from the gathered rebel audience. The soldiers, now well and truly drunk, roared their approval, while Castamir scowled from a distance.
"Ignorant pigs!" he snarled, spitting. "The Dome of Stars, destroyed!"
"It can be rebuilt," his general said.
"No, never like it used to be." Castamir sighed and turned his face away from the devastated building. "Eldacar used to spend so much time in there. I was looking forward to see what kept him occupied. I guess I'll never know."
As the flames leapt higher into the night, a shadow ran out of the burning building and down the dark streets. It clutched something to its breast, all that it could find. So little, so pitifully little… It desperately hoped its sister wouldn't be mad.
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.