52. Claim Denied
"It is intolerable! It is beyond belief that that disgusting heathen creature should ask for the crown!" Pelendur could hardly believe what he was reading! That Arvedui should claim the crown of Gondor!
"Shocking," Ceure said. She was a kind, reasonably intelligent woman who lived in the wealthy section of Minas Anor. Pelendur had met her several years ago and found her an agreeable companion. The two got along very well. Particularly since she agreed with almost everything he said.
"I will, of course, refuse him," Pelendur said. "Do you have some paper and ink?"
"You're going to write it right now?" Ceure asked in surprise.
"But of course. The message must be delivered at once. Those filth in the north must not hear of my second decision first."
"And what is that?"
Pelendur smiled. "I'm going to name that general Earnil as king. He's got some good blood in him, and he's a soldier. He'll be easy to manipulate."
"Oh! You're so clever!"
Pelendur's smile grew wider. "I am, aren't I?" he said. He signed the letter with a flourish of his pen. "I fear that I must take leave of your company. I've got to tell Earnil that he's going to be king."
"He'll be quite surprised," Ceure said.
"Not quite so, I think. The people have fairly been screaming for it. And I, after all, am but a humble servant of the people."
Ceure smiled. "I'll take the letter, if you want."
"Yes, deliver it to some messenger, if you wouldn't mind," Pelendur said, handing her the letter. He left moments later.
This was it. Goodbye Gondor. For good, this time.
Ceure quickly packed her bags and hurried out the door. She found a messenger, gave him the letter, and then took her horse out of the stables near her house and saddled it.
"Time to go," she muttered, casting one last look back at her villa. She would never be returning here. She felt a pang of sadness. I've spent so many happy years here, she thought. But duty calls.
"Excellent job with the Wainriders," Morion said. "And the Haradrim as well. Shame how they all got killed."
Subtle criticism, Khamul thought. "Gondor's going to spend a very long time rebuilding from the invasion. Long enough that we'll be able to destroy Arthedain without them doing anything about it."
Morion nodded. "I suppose so," he said. He didn't look like he entirely believed her. "There are still the elves to worry about though."
Khamul snorted. "Forget the elves," she said. "I've seen the army Vorea's rallied. If they get in the way, the elves will be crushed."
Morion nodded again, but he still had that doubtful look on his face. He was looking a little better than when Khamul had left. Apparently Ringe had done some good for his health. But he was still unnaturally pale and there was the suggestion of dark circles under his eyes.
"Arvedui's going to be the last king of Arthedain," Khamul said. "We'll make sure of that."
"So says a prophecy," Morion said. "And speaking of superstitions, I'd appreciate it if you could have a word with Yanta. She's convinced the people of Harrowdale have turned into ghosts and are haunting their mountain."
Khamul rolled her eyes. "Fine," she muttered and turned to leave.
"I just wondered…" Morion looked at her very hard for a moment. "Never mind."
"What do you mean, nothing?" Khamul snapped.
"Just that, nothing."
Khamul cursed under her breath and walked out of the office, slamming the door behind her.
I wonder what he was talking about, she thought. Probably was about to ask me to do something else and forgot. Yes. That would be just like him.
"How could they be so stupid?"
"It's all right," Firiel said, stroking her husband's hair.
"I could reunite the kingdoms! Our child would have the blood of both Anarion and Isildur in his, or her, veins! They would rule as High King of Arnor and Gondor! How could they be so blind!"
"Pelendur hates Arthedain," Firiel explained. "He would never accept a man from Arthedain as king."
"How can he be so blind?" Arvedui whispered.
"He's a fool. They all are. But it doesn't matter. Arthedain will continue as it's always done."
"No, it won't. I'm the Last King. Malbeth –"
"Stop talking about that stupid prophecy! It doesn't mean anything! There are all sorts of prophecies that never amounted to anything!"
"What about that other one he gave? The one about the Paths of the Dead and all that nonsense? That one hasn't come true."
"Yet," Arvedui muttered.
"He was an old fraud," Firiel said. "He just said what he thought people would react to. Our son will be king of Arthedain, just like you."
Arvedui smiled weakly. Araphant had died last week, and the letter from Gondor had arrived then as well. The same day actually. It was a good thing it came an hour after Araphant's death. The shock would've killed him.
"He could've been king of Gondor as well."
Firiel glared at him. "You can't change the steward's mind. And anyway, Earnil's a good man. He'll help you if we need it. So stop moping around and do something!"
"Like gathering allies! Get the elves back on your side. You've been neglecting them lately with all your talk of High Kingship! If we're going to beat Angmar we need lots of friends!"
"The elves are busy," Arvedui said. "Cirdan is making ships for the elves to sail across the sea, Galadriel has all but sealed herself off from the outside world, and Elrond is fighting off raids from Angmar."
"We have a common enemy then."
Arvedui shook his head. "He won't be able to break through their lines unless they move against us. And if they move against us, we're dead."
"Maybe we can hold them off."
Arvedui snorted. "We can't. We're doomed. Angmar holds all the cards. We live at their mercy."
"They have none."
"So we'll be dead soon."
"Lord king?" A messenger walked into the room. "A message from King Earnil II of Gondor."
"What does he want?" Arvedui muttered, snatching the letter and tearing it open.
"Perhaps he wants to apologize for Pelendur," Firiel said.
"Well, well, well. Apparently he does. And listen to this: 'I do not forget the royalty of Arnor, nor deny our kinship, nor wish that the realms of Elendil be estranged. I will send to your aid when you have need, so far as I am able.'"
Firiel smiled. "I told you he was a good man," she said. "And now we have our allies!"
"They can't possibly come soon enough," Arvedui said. "Even if I sent for them now, they couldn't get here before Angmar attacks. Besides, Earnil wouldn't be able to come. He's got Gondor to rebuild."
"Earnil wouldn't be able to come," Firiel said. "But his son could. Earnur is a great warrior. He's rebuffed raids by Easterlings and orcs. He could save Arthedain."
"Yes," Arvedui said bitterly. "Save Arthedain so we could be ruled by Gondor. I can see his ploy now! High King of Arnor and Gondor! Not Isildur's – the second High King – heir, but Earnil!"
"No!" Firiel shouted. "He wants to be friends! He doesn't want the two kingdoms to be enemies forever! You stupid man! Can't you see that?"
Arvedui stared at her in shock. Never had Firiel shouted at him like this before. "Yes," he said at last. "I understand it."
Arvedui spun around as another messenger entered the room. "What is it?"
"Orcs have been spotted crossing the border in great numbers, my king."
Arvedui closed his eyes and sank into a chair. "So it begins," he whispered. "So it begins."
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.