As I began this story I was reading The Sillmarillon, Unfinished Tales and Lord of the Rings and History of Middle Earth. The "Great Lays" really stuck with me and affected the structure of my plot. I thought I might try a "Lay" of my own.
Golden sand and the Blue of the sea. The wind in my hair. The crying of the sea birds. White foam of surf breaking as it rolls in. The sea rack and warm Blessed sands in my nostrils. I walk in silent contemplation of memories deep and heavy.
I sit at the foot of the white seed grown tall, preparing for labours yet to come. Faces from dreams, certain knowledge of the future keep me restless, wondering. Sad and mournful music fills my soul. Yet I am determined to fulfill the mission required of me. For my love and respect of my Lords call me to Duty. Having taken on this body I stand in awe at the weakness and the strength, both at the same time.
The dreams have come again. Heralded by a great horn blowing and vision flowing with great haste over a land vast and wild. There is no doubt in mind or heart where from come these visions. Oromë commands my attentions. I sit before the seed grown of Galathilion reflecting. Loth and loathe I am to leave these Blessed Realms. The messages are clear. No more shall I learn from the Blessed, sitting at the foot of the sacred seed basking in glorious white light. No more to listen to the small life here, to reflect or read their doings. No long introspections of mine talents and skills. Rather it is action required and long danger. It is time to put the knowledge of my fore–seeing to test. To do my small part to guide a nation, Nay!, a world. To shape paths that will resolve in long future ages. These for the benefit of all worlds contained herein and at the biding of my Lord. For a lifetime of toil. It is time to leave these shores.......It is time.
So ....I do not think. I do not feel as my feet head East towards the Golden sand. I go down to the sea. There waits a ship, white grace in the lines. I wrap the cinder grey cloak around the darkly crimson robe as I step to the deck. I raise my hood as my journey to a far shore begins. My eyes see only the East as the light of the Blessed Realms fall away behind us. The calling of the gulls falls slowly behind as the sail billows the rigging creaks with a following breeze.
Bittersweet with longing I find spot in the bows. Far away and dim a great horn blows mighty blasts as if from a different world. At the sound my heart breaks then swells like the sea breeze in a sail. Smiling a little I bow my head. “Ever to your bidding my Lord”.
Valandil sat his horse in silence. A breeze blew in off the waters of Nenuial pushing black, past the shoulder length hair from grey eyes. As his company formed up he gazed about at the city of Annúminas. Here the streets thronged with Men, Elves and some few Dwarves. He knew that as he waved his men forward the streets would become less populated. Since the wars Men were less common in these lands. As the hereditary heir to the throne of Arnor, he had set himself to bring prosperity back to Men. This half empty city was not what he wanted to see. “Men die in wars” passed through his mind. And so it was. Passing through the outer reaches of his capital fewer homes had residents. The streets becoming clearer as the clatter of the horses hooves echoed back at the riders.
As the fourth son of the second King he might never rise higher than Prince. Normally. War had taken his Grandsire, father and three older brothers. Now it was his task, his fate, his duty to lead Men into a new and brighter day. Several years past his majority his reign was just beginning. His people loved him but he felt that they needed to have greater faith in his abilities. Or perhaps they had enough faith. It was he that needed greater faith in himself. There was no one left to lead with the necessary degree of experience or right of blood. Raised in Imladris, warded by Master Elrond and with Dournil of the Elves as mentor and many others besides, he knew he had developed some skill. Who else had the trust of the people? He was the last of House Elendil. Men looked to him in hope. The task before him was long, fraught with difficulties If he could not or would not no one would or could. There were some lines of thought better not to take. He knew, for the sake of his people, he could not afford despair. He could not let darkness or fear master him. He could not afford doubt.
Determined to follow in the vein of his fathers as an effective King of Men, he had grown in a few short years in wisdom and experience. So he ruled with advice from his trusted councillors. He always made the final decisions. Right or wrong. “That,” he pondered was the task of a leader. “Make the best decisions he could. If they turned right did that make a good King? If they were wrong, bad?” The future well being of his people would tell.
On his right rode Captain Gandemere on his beloved mare. Veteran of years of fighting, he was the head of his guard and Marshall of his forces. Another childhood friend , weapons master and more, He had always thought the Captain looked his part. With his long, slightly reddish golden hair and long mustaches of the same colour. It was well known that he dotted on his Mare. He had named her after an ancient mare of old lore. Much of his free time was spent with her. She was truly his ally in war. Men had heard him singing quietly to her
Whence do you come?
Away to the plains so have you run,
Bend back tall grass,
racing the wind safe you have won,
We give thanks to ‘The One’,
The meek are in need, well are you come.
No one dared say anything about it to him. Valandil knew there were some snickers, just not where he could hear. Men had too much respect for his arm.
Orcs and men reportedly from the far South had been harrying along the great road East and South. They struck and vanished only to appear elsewhere. Killed one or two or three, destroyed gear and ran. Quick and dirty. Gandemere and his friend and advisor, Dournil of the Elves, believed there were several companies about. From the Bree–land settlements to the Tower Hills to Tharbad, they struck and ran. A company of Elves patrolled along the Tower Hills and another company of Men – The Great Road around Tharbad. The frequency of attacks had grown rather than waned. Now he led a strong force to find and bring these foul companies to bay. His force would ride the Great Road until they came nigh an attack. Once this happened the chase would begin.
The Guards at the post at the edge of the city snapped salutes as he came abreast. He saluted back with clenched right fist over left breast. His advisors, all men of experience, felt that these raids were building up to some greater evil. This much effort must lead to something greater. As they cleared the city clutter, Valandil stood in his stirrups to get a father view. On the right about three leagues distant rose the last of the Eastward leg of the Blue Mountains. They rose higher to the West turned and ran North as snow–capped jagged peaks. A scan from right to Lake Nenuial on his left showed nothing but shimmering waves of sun drenched heat, rising in the distance.
“ Scouts!” Gandemere called with a wave forward. Four horsemen went forward as four went right towards the Evendim Hills, and two flanked North. Elendil, Grandsire of Valandil and first High King of Arnor, come up out of the sea from Númenor, had built this capital when he had first come to Middle–earth.
With the city behind the company, work began.
As we stood off from the isle there seemed a curtain parting. One thinks not of the “Mists of time” as a real event in this solid and real world. But Lo, it has become all too real for me. This small crew seems wholly able to cope but I find it disorientating. They set their stony faces East and seem to hunker down. Like hewn rock or carved stone. I have no sense of time passing or present. Only changes of shading light under the wide vault of sky. Like a long waking sleep or drowse. Like limbs slowly feeling life return after blood loss, a buzzing numbness, I have become aware of time again. The slow rise of the sun and passing of the moon. now time has steadied, passing in a manner befitting the idea of “Days and Nights”. From my robes I bring forth that which sees far and clear. Placed upon the deck in a coil of rope, I stand a little away and look far forward. Images of interest pass before me as I seek specific vision. After much labour my long vigil is rewarded. The one I seek is aware. In accord we speak over yet long distance. More cycles of passing time. Then one twilight, a shadow on the horizon. With the rising of the sun once more we pass down a long wide channel. Low hills and green lands to either side. finally narrowing to a river mouth. It is the North I seek. There we put in to the dock. They await me on the quay. An Eldar steps forward, with Elvish hospitality greets me as a companion long lost“.
Introduction to evil
Uduthar, Black Númenórean, watched from high vantage in the north end of the southern leg of the Blue Mountains. On the left twilight turned the Firth of Lhûn a ruddy red. To his fore he watched Naga the Silent lead his raiding Orcs across the moors towards the distant Tower Hills. He would lay up there in hiding tonight and move on as far East as the Far Downs. In the dim light before sunrise a few days from now his band would hit the Bree–land villages. Then disappear into the marshes and so to the Weather Hills. There to link with another band. Uduthar had been about sending his raiders harassing all over Eriador for several moons. With raiding parties of Orcs and Men brought up from the Southern lands he had a good idea how the King of Eriador would react. They had hit the man road crews many times. The second phase of his plan was to step up the raids along the Great Road and the cities of Men. Then when the weak boy king came out, he would draw the Elves main force off towards the haunts of Men. He could then hit the tower of Elostiroin in the Tower Hills hard. There was a great prize in that tall tower. It would be his. Then the thoughts of his enemies would lay open to his will. He would know their plans. They would die. But this raid would be weak and quick. The Elves would think this a diversion for the road raids. They would learn the error of that thought.
As light grew weaker it was time to hide up again. Sunlight bothered not the Orc, but chance discovery would be ruination so hence the hidden cave. Once inside the warrens Uduthar sought out darkness and privacy to consider how his plans might be bettered. To consider what whiles, stratagems or game would produce more sure results. After all, with the One Ring still loose in the world his Master would return in time. He intended to prepare the way. Soon strong forces of Orcs and Men would strike at road crews, Tharbad, Bree – land and Fornost. He laughed out loud in mad glee at the imagined slaughter. The stone that covered their hideaway door rumbled into the cave wall with a crash.
His lieutenants would soon be striking at Tharbad. Then that force would go on into the Misty Mountains. He had more Orcs and Southern men coming here to reenforce him. At the full of the next moon, his forces would be gathered here for the strike at Elostirion. The Elendil stone would be a mighty prize. His Orcs laboured in these hidden warrens, opening new passages and rooms. Hunters roamed the Blues to fill his larders. Once his forces brought the stone here, they had to have room for all, supplies laid by. He knew much of the seeing stone lore from his late master. How to set up, shroud and use them. How to bend minds with poison thought and ritual. Restless he went to oversee his Orcs work.