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Akallabeth in August
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Yet such was the cunning of his mind and mouth, and the strength of his hidden will, that ere three years had passed he had become closest to the secret counsels of the King; for flattery sweet as honey was ever on his tongue, and knowledge he had of many things yet unrevealed to Men.

The Last Temptation by Fireworks

“Physical courage, which despises all danger, will make a man brave in one way; and moral courage, which despises all opinion, will make a man brave in another.”
-Charles Caleb Colton

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"What will you do about this invitation of Sauron's?"

Like every other momentous question he had ever faced, this one settled on every inch of his body until he felt heavy with it, nearly mad. What could he do about it? The reckless part of him urged him to go on, to find out more about Sauron's plans, to expose him. And yet the prudent part of him screamed that he could never receive another word from that mouth, lest he become ensnared and lost. And yet another part of himself, the part he feared, the part he loathed, the part that could not shut away what Sauron had shown him, urged him to try, to go, to listen, to ask for help. Every time he went to the shop and saw the heap of hair pins in the corner by the ink bottles, his stomach lurched and his heart ached and he told himself that he would rush to Sauron and do whatever it took to make his dreams a reality. And, just as fast, his hand would stray to the one hair pin in his shirt pocket--the one that had saved him that night--and he would walk away from himself, horrified at what his dark heart could contemplate doing.

Months passed in this way. Sometimes, the agony settled to a throb, when he was busy, or when he finally collapsed from exhaustion and lack of sleep. At other times, he half-thought that he was mad, already, and would leave his house at night, wander the streets, go close to that place where he knew they met and discussed philosophy and politics and history and who knew what else? He was no fool to think that it was all done in the name of learning, even if it had been intended for that purpose originally. Deep inside, in a place that his darker self wanted to ignore, he knew that there was a purpose to it all, that Sauron wanted something. He had seen enough of the world to know that few people really helped with an utterly disinterested heart, and he had, as of yet, to see Sauron help someone in need, for all that was heard all through the island of his nobility and magnanimity.

Yet, if Sauron was dark, was he not likewise dark, or darker? How could Sauron have shown him what he had inside of himself? That had not been a lie, nor a vision--where else could it have come from but from inside? The thought of his pride and conceit, his twisted nature sometimes tortured him so much that he went out to the eastern wall of the palace where he knew they met, intent on joining them--what else was there for him to do? He could not look his family nor his friends in the eye, could not trust himself with his responsibilities... What was there left for him?

On one such night, Eranion found him stalking the palace, struggling with himself, and at once went to him, seized him by the shoulders.

"By the Valar, Anárion!" he said, drawing him close to search into his eyes. "Is it really you?"

"Do not let them catch you saying that here."

"Do not let them catch you here, period!" Eranion cried as he steered them both away. "What are you doing here, anyway?"

Anárion glanced at him through veiled eyes; it was hard to look at anybody these days. "I could ask the same from you," he said.

Eranion thought for a moment; at length, he gave a tiny shrug, and said, "I will tell you, if you let me take you home and feed you."

"Not to your house!"

"Do you have any food at yours?"

Anárion lowered his head.

"I will not let Elenwë see you; though, it would do her good. We have all been worried about you, what with withdrawing from everything you have always enjoyed, slacking in your projects, not keeping appointments--"

"Not like this, Eranion; I am a mess." And he was; his beard was getting long and his hair dirty, his clothes rumpled. "She would not like to see me."

"We will talk about that later. Come now, brother."

The familiar title made him flinch--he was not a brother to anyone--but he had no will left nor the strength to fight, so he allowed himself to be led along.

They made their way in silence, coming across a beggar every once in a while, or a man rushing home, late from work. Before he knew it, he was devouring an entire loaf of bread and downing more milk than he could keep in his mouth as he sat at Eranion's worktable.

Eranion sat across from him and watched him eat; sometimes he would slide a piece of fruit closer to him, or pour him more milk or water, but never said a word. At first, Anárion was content with this arrangement of things; he had not realized how hungry he felt, nor how nice it was to sit with someone other than his dark thoughts. But, after a while, he began to feel self-conscious and ashamed under Eranion's gaze.

Wiping his mouth, and taking a last, long draft from the milk, he crossed his arms over the table and looked back at his friend. Eranion, in turn, pushed a tea cup at him.

"For your heartburn," he said. "You had better drink it now; it will start bothering you before too long after all that bread you ate on an empty stomach."

"Thank you," Anárion whispered, even more ashamed, as he complied with the request.

He drank the whole cup under Eranion's supervision. When he was done, Eranion nodded, scooped the tray away, and sat once more for the promised--and dreaded--conversation.

"Would you rather sleep first?" Eranion asked.

It was tempting; he was exhausted, and the fancy entered his head that, with Eranion nearby, he would not dream. But any minute he stayed there, he risked Elenwë barging in on them and finding him, and he could not bear that at present. So, he shook his head. The sooner they were done, the better.

"All right," Eranion said, flattening his palms on the table. "I promised you that I would tell you what I was doing at the palace. I heard rumors that an increasingly large following of Elendili was gathering there, and I wanted to see whether it was true."

"You were spying on them?"

"It was the only way to find out the truth."

"It is a dangerous game, Eranion."

"A game that you are playing also."

"It is different," Anárion said, irked at seeing himself so easily cornered.

"What makes it different? Experience?"

"Hold it right there," Anárion cried, rising from the table, unsure what to do, what to say; surprised at it being Eranion calling him on so directly. "Are you going to accost me like the others? I never expected it from you."

"I am not accosting you. We are simply having an honest conversation, for once."

"I never meant it to be like this! You know how I loathe dishonesty and deception, but there is no other way."

"If you are willing to risk yourself in such a manner, why should it surprise you that any of us be likewise willing?" Eranion said, slightly loud, slightly desperate, but it angered him.

"Have you been talking to your sister?" Anárion asked, "That sounds, surprisingly, like the accusations she threw at me."

"Did she talk about this with you?"

"She did not tell you?"

"Not a word," Eranion said, resuming the seat he had left in the heat of the argument. "I assumed you had quarreled because you did not choose her to be your queen at the Erulaitalë..."


"Yes, that was also her reaction. She said that she never expected you would choose her and that, if that was the only reason I could figure for the argument, I knew neither herself nor you." Eranion looked up at him, pleading. "What happened, brother? I think your falling away from us and this quarrel are related, but I cannot see how. Elenwë will not say anything, and I could not even find you to ask-- Elenwë is so distraught about it... What happened?"

"A distraught Elenwë?" Anárion asked, with a snort. "I cannot even imagine what that looks like."

"Wan. And very quiet."

That gave him pause. He raked hands through his hair and sat back, astride, on the chair.

"I never meant to hurt her... Saving her--that was the only reason why I left her."

"Save her from what?"

"From the danger that lurks behind what I do. You know what that is like; did you not feel it today while you watched all of those people attend this secret meeting? Did it not make your skin crawl?"

Eranion ducked his head, and he knew that he had the advantage, at least momentarily, but he had to press it if there was any hope of keeping this beloved family safe from risk and harm. Leaning forward against the table, he said, "There are things that you must do, that everything within you compels you to do, and you cannot refuse. You know that, do you not?" A nod. Then, "I was faced with one such decision a few years ago, and for good or ill, I made it with my conscience. It has cost me dearly, but it had to be made... I think I would have burst if I had denied what my conscience told me to do, even if the doing of it sometimes contradicts what my principles are. I have had to lie, pretend, deceive, hide, and I hate it."

"Then why do you do it?"

"Because I believe in this cause with all my heart. To deny it would be to deny myself."

Eranion nodded, but said nothing, and a thoughtful silence fell among them. It began to rain outside, and the pitter-patter on the roof and the cobblestones on the floor outside sounded mournful to Anárion, who awaited sentence, and had not been ready to forsake Eranion yet, but could not see a different outcome.

As if coming to a decision, Eranion nodded again, clasped Anárion's shoulder, and said, "I know you, and I can imagine what cause this might be to draw such kind of commitment from you. As you have explained to me, why would you not explain it to Wen? It would soothe her heart--"

"No! I want her as away from this as is possible for her to be."

"So you will forsake the friendship?"

"If it keeps her safe."


"What does it matter why?" Anárion asked, with a thump of his palm on the table. Then, as if recollecting himself, where he was and with whom he spoke, he said, in a low voice, "I could not bear it if harm came to her. At least, this way, I hope she will forget."

Eranion looked away and heaved a deep sigh.

"Tell me that she will," said Anárion, but Eranion shook his head, rose and moved to stand next to the window. "Tell me that she will," Anárion urged once more, moving to stand next to him.

"You know better than that, and now I see why you would rather not say a word about it. In our defense, I will say that you cannot expect that other people will not be as fervent in their own causes as you are about yours. About Elenwë, I will say that she feels Sauron has something to do with your dark mood, and is determined to find out what it is."

"By consorting with Sauron? And you let her?" Anárion cried, striving hard to curb the urge to shake him.

"With Lassilenwë, which is as close as Wen can get. I do not like it, but I saw no other way about it."

"Lassilenwë... And Sauron?"

"It is all over the city, you have not heard?"

No. He was ashamed to say that he had not, and with that thought he staggered back towards the bed, burying his head within his hands as he sat there, thinking. Fast. He had to think! So preoccupied he had been with his own problems, his own petty concerns, that he had failed to grasp the bigger issue.

"Did you say that Lassilenwë has been seen in Sauron's company?"

"Yes, and the silly girls think that he will make her his bride, but neither Wen nor I--"

"Of course not. Sauron is not interested in Lassilenwë; it is Galador he wants."

"Her father? Why? In all my wanderings, I have not seen them together more than thrice."

"Your wanderings?" Anárion cried, looking up. "Have you been following them?"

"Not stalking, if that is what you mean by the word. Wen was worried about Lassilenwë--since her... tiff... with you, she seems to have taken her as her purpose in life; and I was curious to see why the Faithful were flocking to them, so I offered to help. I have not been caught, I do not see what is so wrong--"

"Everything about it is wrong," Anárion said, rising, grabbing Eranion by the shoulders and looking at him hard in the face. "Galador is a dangerous man, but even more so is Sauron. I doubt that either of them would hesitate to kill if it helps them achieve whatever objective they have, and you do not wish to be caught between them. Galador is mad, but Sauron can drive you mad, look at me! Of late, I cannot even trust myself!" And Anárion tore at his beard as if to emphasize his point. "Keep Wen away from them, by the Valar! Do not let her get involved. Wait until it is revealed what they are after."

"And you, Anárion?"

"I have a little clue as to what that can be," he said, releasing him, standing his hair on end as he had a habit of doing when focused. "I would be a traitor if I did not pursue it."

"Regardless of where it leads?"

Anárion nodded, but his friend's intent look drove home the implications of the question.

"Your sister was right. Lassilenwë is blind. The world is crumbling to pieces. I have to go now," he said, "but, please, to the end of your days know that I was a loyal friend to you, and few things meant more to me than your friendship." He thought to leave the hair pin behind. Should the worst happen, he realized that he desperately wanted Elenwë to have it, to know what she had meant to him, but was not strong enough to part with it. "It would be nothing to die for what I love most," he said, trying to smile. "If you have to, tell her that."

The friends embraced and, strengthened both in mind and in body, Anárion disappeared in the rain to do his duty.

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They had discussed it at the beach that day, all those months ago--how some of the radical Faithful were becoming blind to their true motives and caught up in selfishness. That Galador was one such was more than clear to him, but what part was Sauron playing in the game? In what Sauron had shown him of himself, he had seen enough to know that Sauron was cunning, selfish, unscrupulous, and, most frightening of all, he saw no impediments, cared not for petty humans at all. What was his purpose in playing Galador? Was he staging a rebellion? To his mind came the fey light that he had seen in Galador's eyes and which had given him the idea, but why would Sauron involve himself? And, what was worse, was a rebellion against a wicked King, by an equally wicked madman, justifiable? Isildur's words came to him, with the possibility of such a thing, and Míriel's, as well, that things would get busy. How had he been so wrapped up in his own misery to miss it? Was he too late to help?

He felt that the core of the matter would hinge, for the Faithful, on whether Sauron was for, or against them. With relief, he realized that, for his part, he wished Sauron gone, but principle demanded that he find out the truth. What he would do with the information he obtained... he could leave that awful decision for later.

At the moment, he needed answers, and there was only one place where he could ask those questions.

In the darkest corner of Bright Mariner's Row, there was a tavern, The Five-Pointed Star, where travelers met from the five corners of the island to conduct all sort of business of both legal and illegal nature. It was such a shady spot that, not even dressed as Âmrazil, had he dared venture there, but he had a compelling reason to try now, not to mention the perfect disguise, for he was so filthy and in need of grooming, that he had trouble recognizing himself.

He knew for whom to search, and recognized him as soon as their eyes met: a man of such exquisite beauty that he was almost an Elf, except for the scar that marred the left side of his face. It was not even that which alerted Anárion, but the haughty, defiant gleam that rested on him when the man saw him. "A proud Elendili," he had been told, "And as cunning as you will find on the island." He did not have to ask twice to know it, once he had looked at him.

The man nodded at him, and followed his progress through the twilit, crowded room, and smiled when Anárion stopped at his table.

"Well met, stranger," he said, with the merest hint of amusement and a raised brow. "I knew you were searching for me."

"And why would that be?" Anárion asked, slightly terrified, but curious.

The man gave out a laugh. "You walk like a noble man, for all your filth, and look about you with self-importance."

"I could say the same about you," Anárion said, deciding to play the part and sit, though he had not been invited, suddenly curious by one intriguing thought. "Are you a noble?"

"Look around you, does this look like a palace?"

Anárion obliged and turned a smile at the man across from him. "No. This shack looks worse than even I had been led to believe. There is enough dust and sand here for your own little beach, and enough bad smell for a fish market. But there are different kinds of nobility, also, and the best of them does not require palaces, nor cleanliness, as marks of its presence."

The man narrowed his eyes at him, but smiled. "I will speak with you," he said, "if only because I miss intelligent conversation. You do not mind it if I drink?"

"I shall join you," Anárion said, relieved, and intrigued at this interesting man.

"You do not have to, on my account."

"What makes you think I do not drink?"

Another small laughter that, instead of being coarse reminded him of the laughter of rain as it fell on the cobblestones in his grandfather's house. "You seem rather hale for one who indulges often. But, tell me, what do you want? Surely you did not come to gaze upon my beauty," he said, turning on him on his left side, anticipating his repulsion, but Anárion did not flinch.

"Elven-like you are in everything, even your scar, but you are correct. I came to seek for help and, if you are as Faithful as I was told, you will not deny it."

That made the man's smile turn into a tight frown, and that defiant flash lit his eyes again. He leaned forward and grabbed Anárion by the collar, saying, "How do I know that you are Faithful?"

Anárion flinched in surprise. He had not been prepared for such a question, and all his wit deserted him fast. He was Faithful! He had given his all for Númenor, and would give more if she asked for it. Why did he have to answer such a ridiculous question?

"I have sacrificed much--" Anárion began, haltingly, but the man shook his head in a menacing gesture and tightened his hold on his shirt.

"Give me a good reason, or I swear I'll bleed

"I would die for her," he said, the first thought that came to him. He must have said it with conviction, for the man let go, and tilted his head to listen.

Anárion allowed himself to breathe, and said, "I need to find out who Annatar is, and what did he have to do with the fall of Eregion. Eregion is--"

"I know what Eregion is. Why do you want to know?"

"I heard a man say that we were running the same fate, with Sauron posed to become a new Annatar. A man who wants to lead the Faithful in secret combinations. I want to know if he needs to be stopped."

"Who--this man, or Sauron?"

"Does it matter?"

"Would you stop him?"

Anárion's stomach lurched. He had never intended to be embroiled in anything of this nature, had never thought he could. But, with a certainty that surprised--and relieved him--he realized that he would do whatever it took to keep the people safe, not just his Elenwë.

Nodding, he said, "I promise you that I will never stop fighting for Númenor."

The man smiled, drew his hand to his heart, "So be it, my lord. I will find out what you want. See that you use it well."

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Rumors kept coming to the shop thick and fast for weeks--that the Faithful were gaining in strength, that not even Pharazôn himself would withstand them when the stroke fell, yet nobody seemed to know what this stroke was, no matter whom he asked, and he asked a great deal.

His anxiety and despair of ever finding out were such that he contemplated joining these secret meetings to find out more--there lay the answers, he was certain of it. But, every time he was on his way, his hand would stray to the pocket were he kept Elenwë's pin, and he would run away on the opposite direction. A coward he was, perhaps, but he did not trust himself with Sauron and he was determined that, should he lose everything else, he would, at least, keep his honor.

Still, no word came to him of Annatar and, out of respect to the man who was risking himself to find the answer to the riddle, he let the matter be.

But, he could not always ignore the suspicions that filled his mind at night, that urged him to follow on Galador's trail. There was something about that man, something about the things he had said to them, that filled Anárion with dread. Opportunities... To redress wrongs. Whose wrongs? What duty is Lassilenwë going to see through? That defiant, mad gleam of the eyes reminded Anárion of the pictures he had seen of wolves ready to pounce on a prey and, as the whispers kept coming of Faithful and their bravado, Faithful wrecking stores, hurting people on the streets, he could not help thinking that Galador was behind it.

He was awed by Elenwë's foresight, her grasp of the situation, when she spoke to him about the Faithful. "In the name of the Valar she insults and ridicules those who do not think like her. I fear that, before long, she will cease to see the error of her ways and then not even the Valar will be as important to her as her being right." What would it take for them all now to repent? What would it take for Lassilenwë? And Galador?

One evening, after days of struggling with the thought, he decided that he could not have this in his conscience, as well as everything else he kept there. Principle and humanity demanded that he try to warn Lassilenwë. She had lived under too much indulgence and, perhaps, her faults were not as much of her own making as her father's. Elenwë cared for her enough to try to help; so should he.

So he made his way to the hall where they held these meetings now. They had moved from the eastern gate of the palace and were now convening in an old playhouse near the armsmasters' headquarters. He arrived there early and sat outside, a little ways away, under cover of a few trees that had been planted there by order of the Queen, to try to preserve green areas where the wild were fast fading before progress.

It was difficult to sit there and watch the crowd come in. The camaraderie going on between them all made him jealous as he contemplated his own loneliness, and the stab of regret was sharp when he remembered what Sauron had shown him. It could have been him, waiting inside to greet these men, to discuss their ideals, to plan how to help each other... Or was that what they were doing?

A sudden heat that came to his face made him aware that someone was watching him. When he looked up, Lassilenwë herself was regarding him from under the shade of her hood, a few paces away from the small grove. He rose when he saw her, but did not move to her, and neither did she move to him. But, the sardonic nature of her twisted smile bothered him, and he finally moved a couple of steps closer to say, "I thought you were not fond of philosophical discussions."

"I thought you were," she said, lowering her hood to reveal that perfectly shaped face and long neck that she always exposed by wearing her hair up. Another smile, teasing, this time, "Have you come to join us? Or have you brought me a present?" and her eyes rested, briefly, on the hair pin with which he had been, absently, playing.

As soon as he noticed it, he put it back to his pocket and out of her sight, but it was enough to steady him. The gesture made her laugh in a scornful manner.

"It would only occur to you to come in search of a woman, while carrying another woman's token."

"I did not come in search of a woman."

"Oh?" she asked in a whisper, blushing for the first time that he could remember.

"I came to warn a friend."

"Who might this person be? I will not fetch him for you."

"You already have," he said, and watched her brows knit as realization came upon her. "Lassilenwë, do you know what you are doing here?"

"I am preparing."

"For what?"

"Why, silly Anárion, what do people prepare for? Responsibilities, tasks. A new order is coming, and you would be wise to learn of it now that you can still take part."

"I do not take part in deeds of darkness," he said, alarmed, but hoping to provoke her into revealing more of their plans.

"Do not be a fool. Dark is the so-called-king and his minions; dark the queen for not standing up to him. Dark you are, and blind, for not aiding us when you could."


"Yes! And let him enjoy it while it lasts. Númenor need not be defiled by his polluted ways."

"What are you doing?" he repeated, advancing yet one more step.

"I do my duty, which is more than you ever did."

"Terrorizing women and children, vandalizing other people's property--"

"They had it coming."

"Who are you to pass that kind of judgment?"

"Who are you, Anárion?" she asked, a smile filling her face when she realized her question had discomfited him. "Who are you? And, whose side are you on? You toy too much between both and will be burned if you keep it up. At least I know where I stand, but you? If you do not step into the light, you are in darkness, even if you do not step to it. But, I feel you know what you want and are afraid. We can show you how to get it."

"Who taught you to repeat those ridiculous words?"

"The same person who told me that you would join us soon and, see, here you are."

That made his heart skip a beat, when he realized that even his coming here today had been playing into Sauron's trap for him. He took a step back, then another one, while he retrieved the pin from his pocket as if to draw strength from it. He realized that he had been shaking his head like a madman when her laughter penetrated the fog of his thoughts.

"Frightened, boy. You came to save me, but I will save you instead. I will show you where you stand."

"I know where I stand," he said, and turned away.

"Coward!" he heard her cry as he walked away. "If you knew where you stood, you would stand with me!"

That made him run faster.

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For weeks afterward, he was tormented by his foolishness in seeking out Lassilenwë. Her words to him haunted even his waking hours: had he gone to see her because he wished to help her, or because he wished to join her? Was there reason to be afraid? If Sauron's path was the right one, why did his whole body rebel against it? Was he rotten beyond salvation--and, if so, why keep suffering? Was it not time to join the society of others like himself?

He soon had to try to put all his cares aside into a pretense of normalcy, for he was hardly fit to be seen and the Eruhantalë was fast approaching, bringing with it his family back into the city for the celebrations. He just managed it, though he felt nervous and fidgety and his only escape--working at the shop--was unavailable when his family were in town.

The peace between himself and Isildur was brittle, at best. They all noticed the change in his mood and the thinness and paleness that had come over him. The women thought it was because of his projects with the guildmasters. His father knew that was not it, though he could not see what else it could be and, after a while, stopped asking, but the frown would not leave his face. His grandfather dared to ask if he had joined with Sauron--that put a frown on his own face. Only Isildur did not ask, but watched, and waited, for him to slip and expose himself, which made it unbearable to be near him.

On the evening before the festival, Arandar came to see him while he was staying at Nuriandil's house along with everyone else. From the tight smiles and the constant keen glance at himself, Anárion knew that Arandar was in distress, but his family would not leave them alone to talk.

Finally unable to keep the anxiety at bay, he announced, "It is late and we are all tired. I will see Arandar to the door," and, leading his friend away with a hand round his shoulders, they left to a chorus of protests and outrage at his uncivil behavior. But, instead of going to the door, he led Arandar to his room and shut the door.

"Next time, send a message, and I will meet you elsewhere."

"I did not have the wits to wait," Arandar said, seizing his arm to stop him from pacing. "This came to the shop," he said, handing him a folded parchment, "from your man. I saw him deliver it, though he did not see me."

And Arandar proceeded to tell the account of what he had seen, but Anárion had stopped paying attention in his eagerness to read the contents of the letter.

The parchment had been hastily folded, and the script was just as hasty but, even in carelessness, the hand looked firm and elegant. Anárion read, in Quenya,

You were right to fear, and I knew as much from the moment all my efforts to find out what you asked became thwarted, but I managed to find something, though mayhap I will pay dearly for it. Eregion fell to treason from this Annatar, and I hear the Elves were always so tight about it that I doubt even your source knows the truth. Greed was at the heart of it. Greed, and lust.

I kept my promise. Now keep yours.

Anárion finished reading with trembling hands and sat on the bed to think. Arandar knelt beside him and snatched the parchment from his fingers.

"Lust for what?" Arandar asked once he had done.

"Power, I would guess," he said, thinking of the feelings that Sauron had opened to his heart, the desire to be a master and to have people obey. If only with the aim to do good, it was a corrupt wish.

"Government? Do you suppose Sauron is after the government of the island?"

That made Anárion sit up. "That is why he wants Galador! But--Sauron does not strike me as one who would make this kind of alliance. Sauron does not share."

"How do you know?"

Anárion remembered that fateful talk, the hints Sauron had given him of absolute power, the hate he had injected into being second and not first. "Believe me," Anárion said. "Sauron aims for the top in everything."

Arandar's brows knit together, but he shook his head as if remembering something. "Speaking of Galador--Lassilenwë is missing."

"What?" Anárion asked, dropping the parchment that he had reclaimed from Arandar.

"Vanished. She had been missing since Tuesday, but they had kept it hushed because they wanted no trouble. Well, it is out now."

Anárion had already risen, heart hammering, and was fetching the rope he kept hidden under the bed to climb down.

"What are you doing?" Arandar asked, trying to seize him, but Anárion shrugged him off to secure the rope in the way he always did when ready to escape.

Clasping Arandar's shoulder, he put their foreheads together and said, "You have been a light in a tunnel of darkness for me, Arandar. Promise me that, if anything should happen to me, you will not try to find me, and you will burn anything to do with The Star. If this rebellion prospers, it might be all in vain."

With a final squeeze of his friend's shoulders, he prepared to climb down.

"What will you do?" Arandar asked, an edge of despair to his voice.

"Elenwë is in danger and, by the Valar, I will die before I see her hurt by anybody, be him King's Man or Faithful."

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