1. The Elder King
Manwë Sulimo stood upon Taniquetil, tallest of the mountains of the world. He remembered that fateful night, a millenia and half ago:
He had looked out and seen the approaching fleet of Númenorean ships, headed by the monstrous Alcorondas, Ar-Pharazon's "Castle of the Sea." When the Númenoreans had been undergoing the Great Armament against the Lords of the West, Manwë had sent them signs to urge them to stop.
Clouds had taken the shapes of Eagles and unleashed storms upon the isle of Númenor. The lightning from the storms had struck the Temple they had built to worship Melkor. Aule had caused the earth to shake in warning, but the Númenoreans had steeled their hearts and went to wage war on Aman.
They came with a fleet so large it had surrounded Tol Eressëa on its journey to Valinor. The Valar had sworn to each other not to wage war again, in fear of a destruction like the ones they had caused in their fighting with Morgoth, both before the Elves had awoken and in the War of Wrath.
Manwë had seen Ar-Pharazon land his fleet. When the Númenorean king gazed upon the dwelling of the Elder King, he stood still in awe, wavering in his resolve to attack the Undying Lands. Then the man's face hardened and he strode ashore, claiming the Undying Lands as his if none should do battle for it.
It was then that Manwë called out to Eru, the Father of All, asking him to intercede, laying down his guardianship over Arda. A great chasm opened in the sea, between Aman and Númenor, drawing into the fleet of Númenor, releasing smoke that reached into the heavens and the earth shook as the fleet sunk into the abyss. Hills fell onto those Númenoreans who had set foot on the Undying Lands, imprisoning them until Dagor Dagorath.
Menelmarta erupted and the earth shook, destroying the foundations of Númenor. A great wave washed over the island, sweeping it into the sea along with the men, women, children, and even Tar-Miriel the queen who had been forced to marry Ar-Pharazon.
But Sauron also was destroyed as Morgoth's Temple fell into the sea. Yet the Deceiver was a Maia, and upon the destruction of his fair body his spirit rose and fled to Middle-Earth.
The Elendili who were on the ships Elendil had prepared were rushed away from the land by a great wind that destroyed their sails and masts until the arrived in Middle-Earth.
Aman was removed from the world, even as Númenor was destroyed. Iluvatar bent the world so that Valinor could no longer be reached, but for the Straight Road which would stay open to the Elves.
Yet Manwë sensed this was not all, two large lands now joined Middle-Earth. One lay north-south, going from the far north to center of the bent world. The other lay at a right angle to the first, and south of Middle-Earth, where the Hitherlands south of Harad had once been.
As the lands settled, he felt Eru's presence,
"Manwë, you have laid down your guardianship of of Arda, and now I lay upon you the guardianship of Middle-Earth and Adanardhon. When you descended upon Arda, others descended upon other worlds. Adanardhon was one of these worlds, a world made for Second Born. Alas, those who had claimed guardianship of it have not been good stewards of it. They have become pretty, each believing themselves to be gods. They have fought amongst themselves marring the world even more than Morgoth had to Arda. Their seasons now last for years on end and they each have their own followers who worship them. I task you with restoring a balance to the world, though you can interfere no more in the affairs of men than you did in the Years of the Sun of Arda."
Now he stood upon Taniquetil once again, looking out to the world, seeing the word he had slowly been attempting to balance with the help of the Ainu who had come from Arda. He had seen many things happen in the millenia and a half that he had resided above this world.
He and the others had weaved an enchantment akin to the Girdle of Melian to protect what was left of Arda by preventing the People of Middle-Earth from venturing out into the twisted world in which they now lived. More importantly, it prevented those from this world, both mortal and Ainu from reaching Middle-Earth. Thankfully, within Middle-Earth the Valar were able to maintain the regular seasons, but all this had cost them.
They had not been there to prevent the battle between the Ainu of this world that had destroyed Valyria. The Valyrians had worshipped many Ainu, including Balerion, Meraxes, and Vhagar. They had ruled over much of Essos until the other Ainu, who had called themselves gods, had united to destroy the Valyrian gods and people. They attacked the gods of Valyria, killing them and destroying the once great empire, leaving only a small family for the powers of gods of this world was tied to the dragons of Valyria as the Valyrians last vengeance upon the rest.
Yet Manwë still tried to mend the world, occasionally calling upon the gods of this world to establish some order. There was an uneasy peace for many years even as occasional fights erupted between the various gods, but he felt that some wished to undermine the Valar, for he felt many forces work their will upon it, slowly breaking it down. It almost seemed that their worship empowered them and the protection began to fall.
In Middle-Earth, evil was growing. The kingdoms Elendil and his sons had established were falling apart. Arnor had fractured into three kingdoms. Rhudaur was now ruled by followers of the Witch-King, Cardolan was in ruins, and only Arthedain remained. Gondor had fallen into civil war, casting out its King, Eldacar, in favor of his second cousin, Castamir. Eldacar was now in exile, attempting to gather forces to him to take back his throne.
The Istari he had sent to Middle-Earth were doing what they could to protect it both from the returning Sauron and from the gods outside. Curumo helped the Elves and Men preserve their knowledge, Olorin advised and guided northern Dunedain against Angmar, Aiwendil tended to the beasts and birds, Allatar attempted to unite Rhun, and Pallando guarded the southern part of Middle-Earth, that which was closest to Essos.
Manwë looked for Pallando to see the state of the warding, for Eldacar was now attempting to sail westward, in hopes of finding new allies in the rumoured new lands. The protection would lead him in a circle, until he returned to Mithlond if it held. But now was a trying time, with R'hllor beginning to exert his influence in the realm of the Seven, the gods who were most willing to assist the Valar and the Great Stallion of the Dothraki attempting to extend his influence.
Manwë saw Pallando struggling against the horse god, but holding his own within the protection of the Valar. Then he saw a face that seemed to shift and change. The face seemed to whisper something and Pallando fell. Manwë quickly added his strength from afar to the protection. The gods would not pass, but he could no longer divert the power of the Valar to preventing mortals from crossing the protection. He realized what the words of the face had been: Valar morghulis
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