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Akallabeth in August
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There was a lady Inzilbêth, renowned for her beauty, and her mother was Lindórië, sister of Eärendur, the Lord of Andúnië in the days of Ar-Sakalthôr father of Ar-Gimilzôr. Gimilzôr took her to wife, though this was little to her liking, for she was in heart one of the Faithful, being taught by her mother; but the kings and their sons were grown proud and not to be gainsaid in their wishes. No love was there between Ar-Gimilzôr and his queen, or between their sons.

Even Roses Have Thorns, Part 2 by Lady Roisin

The words upon Lindórië’s letter blurred from the unshed tears in Inzilbêth’s eyes. The sentiments, fears, and hopes never seemed to settle any easier with the Queen, despite the fact she read the note many times. She thought hearing from Lindórië would help to erase the pain over their separation, yet somehow it only made things more complicated.

The crunch of leaves caused Inzilbêth to shift her gaze up towards the path. Usually no one came to find her when she hid herself in her personal gardens. Much to her relief, Inziladûn’s face peered past a large tree before he slowly walked to his mother’s side. He always approached her in such a manner, almost as if he silently asked permission with his slow steps to come near. It never seemed to be in his nature to intrude in many aspects, at least not until he had been invited to do so. He had grown to become an attractive young man, with his father’s features and his mother’s dark hair and gray eyes. His eyes reminded her of Lindórië’s: gentle and steadfast. Currently they settled upon the piece of parchment held in Inzilbêth’s hands.

“It is your mother’s letter again?”

Inzilbêth’s head bobbed up and down quickly while she folded the letter and put it inside the hidden pocket on her gown.

“What happened, mother? Why is it that I have never met her, and any mention of her name makes you so sad?”

Inzilbêth should have expected these questions to come her way. Somehow the answers poured forth without a great deal of thought. Never before had she felt the need to skirt around the subject when speaking with her eldest son. Why should she start now?

“Your grandmother was among the Elf-friends, and because of that alone your father saw her as a greater danger than even the most ruthless criminals who have murdered and destroyed without thought.”

“I don’t understand why my father finds Elves to be harmful to this land. The royal house of this land is descended from them.”

Inzilbêth offered her son a weak smile while turning to meet his eyes. “Aye, but I would not recommend saying such around your father.”

Inziladûn shook his head with mild disdain. She heard the irritation in his sigh. “He says that peace and prosperity can only be achieved by complete unity, like a well-oiled machine,“ she said. “It cannot perform its necessary tasks when even a single piece goes missing. But we are not machines. Humans were meant to think, thrive.”

Inzilbêth’s eyes followed Inziladûn’s motions as he began to pace in front of her. It was something he often did in order to formulate his thoughts into spoken words.

“If all humans were intended to think the same then wouldn’t we have been created as such?”

“One would think such to be true," the Queen murmured, her eyes shifting upwards to watch her son’s face in an attempt to gather some confirmation of the emotions he felt. “Your father believes peace will be achieved through unity. But how can the people become unified when they are made to fear? Fear destroys peace.”

A sense of understanding crossed Inziladûn’s face. “But why persecute those faithful to the One? Why does Father feel so threatened by them?”

“Because they do not have the same fear that your father carries deep within himself. They have learned to overcome man’s greatest dread, and he knows that he cannot use that fear against them. They have power over him, and it infuriates your father to no end because he is King and a King should have dominion over all things, should he not?”

The question furrowed Inziladûn’s brow and Inzilbêth watched as he inched closer to a conclusion, almost as if he tried to bring himself close to the answer hanging just off the edge of his consciousness--and then he articulated his response to her question: “But a King cannot control all things, like the thoughts and actions of all his subjects, or even death.”

Inzilbêth felt the corners of her lips raise in approval while she drew her son nearer to the answer he sought. “Aye, a King cannot hold dominion over these things, and because your father cannot accept such, he has already died.”

“No,” Inziladûn stammered. “He is not dead. I saw him this very morning!”

Inzilbêth shook head from side to side before laughing softly. “My son, there are more ways for a man to die than just in the physical sense. One can already be dead in his mortal shell if he allows fear to have authority over him. Did you know the Kings of old used to give their lives willingly?”

“What!” Inziladûn’s cry of surprise caught even Inzilbêth slightly off guard. How much had her husband censored their sons’ learning?

“Surely you are mistaken, Mother. That is madness! Who in their right mind would welcome death?”

“A man or woman who did not fear death, and understood that death was the natural passage into the next journey.” Inzilbêth reached out to take her son’s hands and guided him to sit beside her on the bench. Her body shifted so that she could look him in the eye while she elaborated on her initial revelation.

“We are the second-born children of the One. He gave us the gift of death so that we would be able to rejoin him past the circles of the world, to continue our lives as we see fit, life with no bounds or walls. Not even all the celebrated stories of the explorations of the greatest sea captains could compare to the wonders to be found in the voyage past all knowledge of even the wisest that dwell in this world.”

“If that is so, then why do so many fear death? Is there really anything out there at all?”

The confusion in Inziladûn’s eyes almost caused Inzilbêth to regret the seed she had just planted. But love would not permit her to hide it from him either. Regardless, Inzilbêth knew no matter how much truth she laid at her son’s feet, he had to accept it on his own terms. There were many things she could make him do, but relinquishing the fear that kept his eyes closed would not be one them. From the moment she had laid eyes upon him, Inzilbêth knew that flicker of light burned within him too. She heard it in his first cries as a newborn, and watched it in the eager way he sought to learn and question everything.

There had been times Inzilbêth had grown weary of her young son asking why to everything she said. But even as a man, Inziladûn still asked that same question, just in different ways. Gimilkhâd only ever asked how, when, and where, questions his father was good at answering. True, it pained Inzilbêth to know this, to know her youngest son would be enslaved, just like his father. But if she could save one of her sons, it would do more to ease her heart than saving neither one at all. At least now she could have hope that the future King would be able to turn the wheel forward once more, to help their people find their way to true freedom and the One before they went so far into the darkness that not a single one of them could find their way back.

But man’s greatest fear could not be conquered in a single day. Inzilbêth’s lessons would have to wait until her eldest son reached out to take them of his own will; only then would they take root deep enough within his soul to weather the storm that surely lay ahead of him.

Inzilbêth stretched her muscles, aiding her rise from her seat. She turned slowly so she faced Inziladûn once more.

“I cannot give you the answer to that, my son. But you must learn to quiet the doubts and simply believe what you know to be true in your heart. You must trust your instincts. Rarely will they lead you astray. It shall be one of your greatest assets as a monarch, and it is the foundation of what I am able to teach you. You must grasp it first before I can continue further.”

Her body bent until her lips brushed the skin of her son’s brow. Inzilbêth allowed the palm of her right hand to linger on the side of Inziladûn’s face before straightening her posture once more.

“Tell no one of what we have spoken of just now. What I have said is meant for you alone. We shall speak more when you are ready to do so.”

Inzilbêth sensed her steps being watched while she walked away from her garden. With each rise and fall of her feet she hoped a little more for the next time she spoke privately with her eldest son. By the time she reached the steps leading up into the King’s house, Inzilbêth began to wonder if the soles of her shoes made contact with the ground at all. If only her mother could have seen that conversation. Surely Lindórië would have beamed with pride to see her daughter begin to bring Inziladûn to their side. As difficult as the first years had been in the citadel, Inzilbêth began to understand how truly important it had been that the One had led her here.

No doubt the small measure of joy Inzilbêth had sacrificed would be returned to her tenfold as she watched Inziladûn become the true King that Númenor needed and deserved. Who knew, maybe together she and Inziladûn could save Gimilzôr. He would repent of his misdeeds and allow Lindórië back into court. Then Inzilbêth could allow herself to fall deeply in love with him the way she longed to; they would be happy. All of them would be able to be a family just as it was surely meant to be.

Unfortunately the Queen’s dreams did not begin their manifestation when she pushed open the door to the chamber that sat in between their private quarters. She had half-hoped that Gimilzôr would be just beyond the double doors, waiting for her with arms outstretched. Instead her self-induced illusion shattered when her eyes fell upon the reality that greeted her in its place.

Her husband stood at the left side of the large bed; his eyes met Inzilbêth’s with an almost animalistic glee while he pulled his breeches up over his hips and tied the front laces closed. His female guest did not quite exhibit the same brazen assurance. Inzilbêth saw her maid of honor’s limbs tremble when she leapt from the bed, clasping a rumpled gown against her nakedness. The young woman’s eyes grew wider with each step that Inzilbêth took towards her, but not even backing away stopped the Queen’s descent. Inzilbêth’s hands reached out with a strength that surprised her, pinning her maiden against the wall with a force that caused the girl’s head to bounce and the gown to fall into a limp pile upon the floor. She ignored the sharp cry of pain and surprise that resulted from her forcing her hand roughly between the young woman’s thighs. Inzilbêth removed it just as quickly and held her fingers near her maid’s terrified eyes to reveal the partially congealed, milky fluid that now coated the tips of her fingers. Her husband’s mistress didn’t have a chance to utter a single syllable in her defense by the time Inzilbêth curled her hand into a ball and sent it slamming into her maiden’s face.

The Queen felt cartilage and bone give way under the force of closed fist. The result of her fury flowed bright red down the other woman’s face in a rush. Inzilbêth’s arm reared back in preparation to deliver a second hateful blow. Instead her voice screamed forth in rage as a pain radiated from her wrist. Inzilbêth turned to see her husband’s teeth grit while he tried to stop the motion of her arm.


Gimilzôr’s voice roared above Inzilbêth’s second enraged cry. His other hand sought her free wrist before it could do any more damage. Even so, Inzilbêth continued to fight back like a cornered beast. The trepidation in her husband’s expression served to only spur her on. Alas, his masculine strength took advantage of that small window of opportunity once Inzilbêth began to tire. He lifted her forcefully from her feet to carry her across the room. Inzilbêth’s fury replenished to a degree once she felt the soft mattress underneath her back, but Gimilzôr’s weight pinned her down in an attempt to limit her movement.

Hot tears burned the inner corners of Inzilbêth’s eyes, yet she refused to let them defeat her also and squeezed her eyes closed against the building moisture. No, he wouldn’t be allowed to see a single one if she had anything to do with it.

Not even all the venom Inzilbêth could muster forth from her vocal cords could hide the pain that gushed forth like the blood upon the face of Gimilzôr’s mistress when the words burst from her mouth:

“Blind fool! Could you not see how badly I wanted to love you?”

Inzilbêth felt her husband recoil and for a brief moment she truly feared he would strike her, and she squeezed her eyes shut. Instead she felt Gimilzôr slink away until his weight had fully removed its hold on her body. Once Inzilbêth dared to open her eyes she saw her husband seated on the edge of the bed, his back turned towards her. His hand reached up to wipe across his eyes as he spoke in a hushed tone:

“All I ever tried to do was earn your love.”

The words shot deep into the broken and bleeding core of Inzilbêth’s heart. For a split second she dared to hope but quickly snuffed the few sparks of longing that tried to ignite. Even if she stayed, held him in her arms, and reassured him, nothing would change. Gimilzôr had thoughtlessly brought women to his bed in the days before their betrothal, and what took place today would happen again.

Inzilbêth rose from the mattress with a calm that seemed to come from somewhere else outside her being. As much as he wanted to love her, Inzilbêth knew Gimilzôr could not, at least not in the way she needed of him. True, he had shown her just about every pleasure the flesh could know and then some. But her heart needed more than the satisfaction her loins craved to be able to place itself permanently within Gimilzôr’s grasp. It could never be, at least not in the way either of them hoped for. Inzilbêth would learn to accept it now.

A sigh of relief left Inzilbêth’s body after the door leading to her side of the vast royal apartment clicked shut. Not even the crash of shattering porcelain stopped her from turning the lock before she withdrew into the darkness of her rooms.

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The small flame within the lamp popped and sputtered as the fuel within neared the place where it would soon be entirely spent. Regardless, Inzilbêth remained fixed in the center of her bed. A dim glow managed to slip through the tiny open space between the heavy curtains over the window. Whether it was dusk or dawn, Inzilbêth did not know, nor did she care. It didn’t matter if only a couple days went by, or an entire week elapsed. She knew she would be safe within her bedchambers. The solitude quickly became a welcome change; so did the silence that enabled her to sort her thoughts a bit easier.

The servants left food and water outside the door, but Inzilbêth found little interest in it and only sought it out once total quiet resumed on the other side. She did not want any of them to see the puffy red circles underneath her eyes or the wild tangles in her hair. Even Gimilzôr tried to coax his wife from her safe, little sanctuary. Twice she felt tempted, but her pride quickly took over and rendered Inzilbêth as silent as the dead.

Even now Inzilbêth heard the faint scuffling on the other side of the door. Gimilzôr would eventually understand her message loud and clear if she remained still. He might bang on the door again if he liked, but she would not move. A soft hiss pulled Inzilbêth’s eyes from the ceiling and towards the crack underneath the door. Something white sat just past the entry of the room, perking the Queen’s interest even further. Her feet swung over the side of the bed and touched the ground gingerly before tip-toeing across the room to fetch the object. She carefully unfolded the paper and placed it near the lamp after returning to her bedside.

Inziladûn’s familiar script scrawled across the torn page, the dark ink hardly stood out in contrast to the golden hue of the paper in the light of the weak flame. The simple words caused Inzilbêth to suck in a sharp breath.

I am ready to believe.

This time her steps covered the distance between the bed and the entry to the room with eagerness. She opened the door a crack to see a pair of familiar gray eyes peering back at her, full of concern and hope. It was all Inzilbêth could do to swallow the sudden lump in her throat as she allowed Inziladûn to push the door open wide enough to reach his arms out to her and pull into a tight embrace.

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