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Akallabeth in August
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For Pharazôn son of Gimilkhâd had become a man yet more restless and eager for wealth and power than his father. He had fared often abroad, as a leader in the wars that the Númenóreans made then in the coastlands of Middle-earth, seeking to extend their dominion over Men; and thus he had won great renown as a captain both by land and by sea.

In the days of their youth together Amandil had been dear to Pharazôn ...

The Day the Numenoreans Left by Aiwen

That night there was a feast in the Numenoreans' honor with music and dancing to follow. Pharazon couldn't come, but Amandil soon found himself standing in front of Lord Niluadun with the others getting a last minute lecture on what not to do in elvish society. Lord Niluadun appeared a little haggard as he finished up with "and no oaths, especially any that invoke the name of Eru. Elves take oaths literally and you may find yourself expected to do something you had no intention of ever doing. Oh, and elven ladies are look but don't touch."

"How do you dance with someone you can't touch?" Lieutenant Zimazar asked.

"Not in any way that isn't part of the dance," Lord Niluadun said. "Elves have extremely strict marriage customs and you don't want to run afoul of them. We're here to reopen friendship and alliance, not to cause trouble."

"No parrots," Azare said. Amandil turned to look at Captain Gimlihazid's mistress. She looked the picture of innocence with her wavy red hair and wide blue eyes, but you couldn't let that fool you. He'd come back once to the cabin he shared with Pharazon to find them together in there and had had to back out hurriedly.

Lord Niluadun glared back at Azare. "I suggest you not even mention the word. Now all of you, be back here and ready in one hour."

One hour later, Amandil was back as requested and required. Fortunately, Pharazon had already gone back to the ship so Amandil didn't have to listen to him fuming about being left behind. Lord Niluadun looked them over critically before finally nodding his satisfaction. He led them into the great hall in a long line like uncommonly colorful ducklings following their mother.

The great hall was beautiful enough that Amandil found himself turning his head from side to side trying to take it all in. After the first few seconds he stopped himself, not wanting to look like a complete yokel in front of the Eldar. The great hall in Armenelos was larger and had more gold and precious jewels, but in terms of sheer beauty this one definitely had it beaten.

The vaulted ceiling was painted with many colorful scenes from the elder days. From his brief first looks around Amandil recognized the Lay of Leithian, the city of Gondolin, and the Two Trees. While some of the lighting was candles and a great fire in the hearth at the far end of the hall, there were also strange blue lanterns hanging from the walls at intervals. With a thrill of wonder, Amandil realized these must be the Feanorian lanterns he'd read about but never seen.

He was seated at one of the long tables with most of the other junior members of the delegation and a goodly number of elves of Gil-galad's court. Amandil soon discovered that the elf across from him did not speak Adunaic, so he ended up playing translator for both sides.

The elves asked politely after Numenor and were told that it was getting along very well. The humans asked after the elves and were told that things were as well as could be expected in Middle-earth. Amandil wondered how much the elves were leaving out, considering that none of the Numenoreans had seen fit to mention the continual lower-level resistance of the more rabid King's men to Tar Palanir's reforms. Such troubles were to be found throughout Numenor and sometimes even worse in the Colonies. Umbar was a particular problem.

The food arrived, and Amandil was soon paying far more attention to it than to what his companions were attempting to say to each other. It was beautifully presented, often adorned with flowers or candied fruits, but you didn't really notice the difference until you ate it. It was difficult to put into words, but when you tasted it you understood.

After the feast, the tables were pushed to the sides and there was dancing with musicians playing by the fire. Amandil wandered over to where the musicians were playing to listen more closely. He'd always heard about elvish singing but he'd never actually heard it before. Its reputation really didn't do it justice, unless you counted the wilder tales about active enchantment... it was a long time before Amandil could pull himself away.

What finally did it was Azare insisting he couldn't stand at the sidelines like a complete ninny all night and that he must come dance with her. Amandil dutifully danced. Fortunately the elves explained the steps to all the humans who had never seen it before. After that dance, he was quickly swept up into a rather confusing dance involving about twenty people moving in intricate patterns. He broke Lord Niluadun's rule about not touching ladies: he must have stepped on the toes of at least five by the end of it. Some time later, Amandil left the dance floor looking for something to drink and a place to sit down.

He nearly walked into Azare, who wasn't looking at him but across the room. Amandil followed her gaze to the High King and Lord Niluadun, who were smiling politely at each other and nodding occasionally at something each other said.

Azare walked away from Amandil in their direction. Amandil shrugged and headed for a nearby table where he poured himself a class of apple cider. After a few minutes he struck up a conversation about managing hunting sustainably in forest areas with a tall silver haired elf who said his name was Celeborn.

"We avoid hunting deer during the..." Celeborn stopped, his eyes and attention abruptly elsewhere. Amandil looked and was alarmed to see Azare's red hair at the other end of Celeborn's gaze. She was very close to the High King, who had his back against a wall. The guard next to the King appeared unsure what to do. "If you'll excuse me," Celeborn said absently and got up and left. Out of sheer curiosity, Amandil followed him, although not too close behind. Whatever was happening was not something he wanted to be too close to.

"Lady Azare," the High King was saying, "I am sure there are many of your own people here who would love to dance like that with you, but in my culture it is not considered seemly to dance in such a manner, nor do I wish to dance so with you."

"Gil-galad, might I have a word with you about the state of Cirdan's ships?" Celeborn asked.

"Certainly," the High King replied. "If you will excuse me," he said to Azare, pushing past her when she failed to prove out of his way. "Yes, Cirdan's latest experiment," he said to Celeborn as they walked away.

Amandil found himself faced with a pouting Azare. "What did you think you were doing?" he asked her. "You don't corner the High King of the elves of Middle-earth and harass him into dancing with you in what his culture considers an 'unseemly manner'! This is supposed to be a diplomatic mission."

"Oh, he's just shy," said Azare. "I could have persuaded him if that rude elf hadn't interrupted."

Amandil shook his head. The woman obviously had a poor grasp of reality. Where was Captain Gimlihazid? She was his mistress, so surely he must be able to restrain her disgraceful behavior. He looked around but couldn't see the Captain.

"Well, I guess I'll just have to dance with you instead." Before Amandil knew what was happening she dragged him back onto the dance floor. As they whirled around the the floor, Amandil caught a brief glimpse of Captain Gimlihazid. Unfortunately, he had his head on the table and an overturned wine glass beside him so he obviously wasn't going to be any help at all. Now what? Where was Pharazon when you needed him? Pharazon would talk Azare into dancing with him for the rest of the night and then she wouldn't be free to cause diplomatic incidents.

As that dance ended, Lieutenant Zimazar walked over to them and requested Azare's hand for the next dance. Azare smiled and accepted, leaving Amandil free to go and search for Lord Niluadun.

As he passed the sleeping captain Gimlihazid he heard some rather unpleasant comments. "Passed out drunk with his head on the table. That is in addition to the sword and the parrot. These modern Numenoreans have no couth whatever. Do you think we should try and sober him up?"

"You needn't trouble yourselves," Amandil said. "I can deal with the Captain. I fear he is unused to Dorwinion wine."

"Perhaps so. I'm sure you know your own kind best, so we'll leave him to you." The elves turned on their heels and walked away, leaving Captain Gimlihazid to Amandil. Amandil shook Gimlihazid's shoulder, but he did not wake. Amandil then tried splashing some water on his face. The Captain woke. "What," he said, slurring the words heavily. "There's no call for that."

"You need to wake up, Captain," said Amandil. "You're in the middle of an elvish great hall and you don't want to be fast asleep in the middle of a hall full of elves do you?"

"No. Bunch of wizardly cowards, the lot of them. Can't stand elves."

Amandil watched in horror as some nearby elves turned interested expressions their way. "Bush of whizzish..." one said, obviously trying to puzzle out what the captain was saying. "What's a whizzish bush?" he asked.

Amandil thought frantically, and decided that a little white lie was the best part of valor here. "The whizzish bush grows only in Numenor," he said. "We make a special alcoholic drink from the fruit and he thinks he's had too much of it."

"He does appear very drunk," the elf said. "Would you like some help taking him back to his quarters?"

Amandil took one last look around for other Numenoreans but couldn't see any close enough for him to get hold off easily. "Yes, please," he said. Hopefully the Captain wouldn't say anything else unfortunate that that elves would repeat to someone who spoke Adunaic fluently.

Together Amandil and the elves took Captain Gimlihazid back to his quarters and laid him on the bed to sleep it off.

"Thank you very much for your help," Amandil said. "I would have had a terrible time getting him back by myself. I am called Amandil. Who are you?"

"I am called Gildor," the blond elf said, "and this is my friend Galador who runs the hunt. I understand you like hunting."

"Yes I do," Amandil said, wondering how that little piece of information had gotten around so quickly. "But I should really go to inform Lord Niluadun of what has happened to the Captain."

"I suppose you should at that. In that case, we will leave you to it." The elves waved casually and walked off down the corridor. Amandil leaned against the wall, exhausted. How did he get into these situations? They never seem to happen to his father and Pharazon always managed to wriggle out of anything he didn't like. He sighed and pushed himself away from the wall. He really should go look for Lord Niluadun.

He went looking, but on the way out of the Numenorean area he met Liutenant Zimazar and Azare coming in the opposite direction. Lieutenant Zimazar informed him that everything was winding down and ordered him to go to bed since there would be a tour of the city in the morning. Amandil obeyed, hoping that he be able to to speak to Lord Niluadun in the morning.

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A/N: Amandil has grown up in a very dangerous society. Being able to lie convincingly is a very useful skill in such a society and one I think he would have been forced to practice given the fact that he will be one of the Faithful, dear to Pharazon, and a member of Pharazon's Council. These things would have been very difficult to reconcile even before Sauron turned up.

The names of all Numenoreans present except Amandil are Adunaic. I used Lalaith's Guide to Adunaic Grammar as a source for name elements. I am not a linguist or anything close, and any mangling of names is my own fault.

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