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Akallabeth in August
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Thus it was that a shadow fell upon them: in which maybe the will of Morgoth was at work that still moved in the world. And the Númenóreans began to murmur, at first in their hearts, and then in open words, against the doom of Men, and most of all against the Ban which forbade them to sail into the West.

Mavoinë by Fiondil

Author’s Note: This story takes place in the early years of Queen Telperien’s reign. As she is unmarried at this time (and indeed never marries), her younger brother Isilmo is her heir. At her death, Isilmo’s son becomes the next King of Númenor, taking the throne-name ‘Tar-Minastir’, for ‘he built a high tower upon the hill of Oromet, nigh to Andúnië and the west shores, and thence would spend great part of his days gazing westward’ [UT, ‘The Line of Elros’]. So, for purposes of this story, I have given him the birth-name ‘Isildil’. His son, who will take the throne-name Tar-Ciryatan, is here named ‘Telemnar’. At the time of this story, Tar-Minastir (Isildil) is 160 years old, and Telperien is 314. She has been Queen for the last 78 years.

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Second Age 1634:

“What are you doing, my friend?”

Isildil looked up from laying the next stone of his tower and glowered at the Elf. “What does it look like I’m doing, Arminas?”

The Elf gave him a wintry smile. “Forgive me, I misspoke. What I should have said was, Why are you here? Is not your lady wife about to give birth to your firstborn?”

Isildil shrugged. “My being in Armenelos at this time will only be seen as a hindrance. Better that I while my time doing something more constructive than pacing before the birthing chamber making everyone else’s life miserable.”

Arminas raised an eyebrow at that, but did not comment. Instead, he sighed, gazing westward from the hill where the two of them stood. He could see Andúnië in the middle distance, the ships of the Númenóreans plying the waters beyond the harbor. His own ship was anchored at Eldalondë, further south, to which the Elves of Tol Eressëa were wont to sail. The Elf glanced over to where his Mortal friend was busy directing others in the building of his tower. The sight of the stone edifice troubled him, though he could not say why. He felt a frisson of foreboding as he watched Isildil place another dressed stone upon the growing wall. Whatever one might say about the son of the Heir, he was willing to get his own hands dirty instead of leaving it to others to do all the work for him. Still, this was the last place Isildil should be, Arminas thought with a mild shake of his head at the strange ways of Mortals.

He walked over to where Isildil was lifting yet another stone, and gently took it out of the Mortal’s hands, giving him a piercing look. “You do not belong here, my friend,” he said quietly. “Your wife gives birth to your firstborn, to your heir. You should be in Armenelos, not here, building a tower. And for what? What purpose will it serve?”

“Purposes of my own,” Isildil growled and then looked chagrined at the hurt expression on the Elf’s face. “Forgive me,” he said. “I fear I am not in the best of moods. I build this tower because I must and no other reason will I give you or anyone else.”

“Fair enough,” Arminas said, laying the stone down. “But you have others who will continue with its construction while you are elsewhere. Come. I have horses waiting. If we are lucky we will reach Armenelos before your son is born.”

Isildil sighed but relented, issuing orders to Beregar, who was the foreman of the crew working on the tower. Satisfied that the man would follow his directives, Isildil then allowed Arminas to lead him away and soon they were riding eastward towards Armenelos.

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“Where have you been?”

Arminas watched with hidden amusement the interplay of emotions flitting across Isildil’s face at the sight of Lord Isilmo glowering at his son. He and Isildil had made their way to the apartments in the palace set aside for the Heir and his family as soon as they had arrived in Armenelos after nearly a week of hard traveling.

“Has she given birth, yet?” Isildil asked, avoiding giving his father an answer.

Isilmo snorted. “Niélë went into labor last night,” he said.

Isildil gave his father a disbelieving look. “But, it’s mid-afternoon already! Surely it doesn’t take that long to birth a child.”

Now Isilmo actually smiled and Arminas couldn’t help snickering at his friends expression. “You took two days, as I recall. The first birthing is usually the hardest on the woman, or so I am told.”

“Who is with her?” Isildil asked.

“Your mother, her mother and my sister, as well as the midwife and several ladies of the court,” Isilmo answered. “All others are unwanted and unneeded.”

“It is different with us Elves,” Arminas said, giving Isilmo a brief bow in greeting. “The father must be present at the birth to help sustain the fëa of his wife, for much of her own fëa has been given over to sustaining the child within her and she often has no more strength left for the birthing.”

Isilmo nodded. “So I have heard. At any rate, among the Edain the birthing chamber is forbidden to the menfolk, never mind that we had something to do with creating the child that is being born.” He gave them a sardonic look and Arminas chuckled.

“How long do you think it will take, Ada?” Isildil asked, now looking concerned. Until that moment, Arminas suspected he hadn’t really thought about what his wife might be going through with the birthing.

Isilmo put a comforting hand on his son’s shoulder and gave him a sympathetic look. “It will take as long as it will take, son. Niélë is in the best of hands. Do not worry until and unless there is need to do so.”

Isildil sighed and gave Arminas a rueful look. “You see why I prefer to be in Oromet building my tower.”

“You should be concentrating on building your family, mellon nîn,” Arminas countered. “A tower for no purpose is of less importance than your wife and child. They should be your focus.”

“I don’t understand this need for you to build such a tower where none is needed, either,” Isilmo said with a shake of his head. “What purpose will it serve?”

“From its crown I hope to see the sails of the elven ships coming from Tol Eressëa and perhaps even the island itself.”

“And why would you want to do that?” Isilmo demanded.

Isildil shrugged, looking mulish. “I just do.”

Before either Isilmo or Arminas could respond to this, the door opened and a serving-woman entered, giving them a deep curtsey. “My lord Isildil,” she said, “your lady wife has finally given birth. Will you come to greet your son?”

Isildil went suddenly white and both Isilmo and Arminas had to grab him, Isilmo’s expression one of fond amusement. “I... I have a son?” Isildil whispered.

“Did I not say so, mellon nîn?” Arminas whispered back, his eyes dancing with delight. “Come. Let us not keep your beloved Niélë or your son waiting.”

Isildil nodded and Isilmo and Arminas led him to the Queen’s apartment. At the entrance they were met by Telperien herself, the queen looking as regal as ever in spite of the fact that she had never gone to bed the night before. She gave her nephew a considering look. “It is well that you are here, Isildil,” she said, “else I would have had to call out the guard to haul you back to Armenelos and that would never have done.”

“You can thank Arminas for my being here, Aunt,” Isildil said meekly enough. “He practically had to drag me back.”

Telperien shook her head. “I have to wonder whom you love more, Nephew, your lovely wife or the Elves.”

Isildil blushed at the sting of her words. Arminas kept his thoughts to himself, though he was in complete sympathy with Telperien over Isildil’s actions of late. He loved the Mortal dearly as a friend and brother, but he did not like what he was seeing in the young Man. It was not healthy.

“May I see her?” was all Isildil said.

Telperien nodded. “She’s been asking for you for some time now. I’ve had to assure her that you were nearby. Glad I am that I was not proven a liar.”

“Yes, Aunt,” Isildil said.

Telperien gave a light snort and stepped aside. “Go greet your wife, Isildil, and your newborn son.”

Isildil turned to Arminas, giving his friend a shy look. “Will you come with me and give my son your blessing?”

Arminas raised an eyebrow in surprise and glanced at the other two Mortals, gauging their reactions to Isildil’s request. Isilmo gave him a slight nod and Telperien’s expression was one of approval. “I would be honored, my friend,” he said with a bow and followed Isildil into the chamber where Niélë lay in the Queen’s bed, demurely covered as she fed the writhing bundle in her arms. The Elf watched with some amusement at the awed look on Isildil’s face as the young Man came closer to his wife and son, oblivious to anyone else in the room.

Niélë looked up at her husband and gave him a weary smile. “My lord,” she said in a soft voice, “will you greet thy son?” She lifted the bundle towards him and Isildil hesitantly took his son in his arms, his mother, Almiel, standing beside him, showing him the proper way to hold the babe.

Isildil gazed down upon his firstborn with wonder in his eyes. “What name will you give him?” Arminas asked as he came to stand on Isildil’s other side, looking down at the wrinkled face of the newborn with a gentle smile.

“Telemnar,” Isildil said without hesitation, turning to the Elf and holding the babe out to him. “Will you not give him your blessing, mellon nîn?”

Arminas glanced at Niélë who gave him a smile before taking the babe from Isildil. He hid his own smile at the careful looks of the Women to make sure he knew the proper way of holding a newborn. Turning his attention to the babe, who was still fussing, he crooned a lullaby and gently rocked him until he became quiescent, sticking a fist in his mouth and closing his eyes. “Telemnar you name him,” Arminas said softly, his eyes going blank as foresight came upon him just then, “but I see a different name, one to do with ships. I think he will be as great a mariner as his forefather, Aldarion, and equally as restless.” Then he blinked a couple of times as the foreseeing left him, ignoring the looks of awe and concern on the faces of the Mortals around him. “Nai le cuivuva alya, pityaquen,” he whispered as he bent down and kissed the babe on the forehead before handing him back to his mother.

“Are you pleased with thy son, my lord?” Niélë asked shyly as she accepted the sleeping bundle.

Isildil nodded, sitting on the edge of the bed to run a calloused finger down Telemnar’s cheek. “Yes, Niéliccilis, I am well pleased with him and with thee,” he said, then leaned over and planted a loving kiss on her brow. “Tye-melin, meldanya,” he whispered.

Lady Almiel then gestured for everyone else to leave them and Arminas followed them out, casting a backward glance at the little family and sighing, wondering if Isildil would calm his own restlessness by concentrating on his wife and newborn son and leave the tower at Oromet to languish.

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That hope failed within two weeks after the birth of Telemnar. No sooner was the celebration for the naming ceremony done with than Isildil began speaking of returning to Oromet to see how his tower was coming along. The royal family was gathered in the queen’s closet where Telperien was holding court. It was a small, intimate room off of her bedroom where the family often met when they wished for privacy. As an honored guest, Arminas had been invited to join them. The Elf noticed the looks of anger on Telperien’s and Isilmo’s faces at his friend’s announcement. Almiel looked resigned, but it was the hurt look in Niélë’s eyes that struck him as she sat in a rocking chair nursing her son who suckled with oblivious bliss to everything else but his own gratification.

“Your son is but two weeks old and you are all ready to hie to your precious tower?” Telperien demanded, her voice imperious and her eyes flashing with barely suppressed fury. “And if I were to forbid it, what then, Isildil? Will you defy your queen?”

There was a tense silence for several long minutes before Isildil answered. “Yes,” he said softly, keeping his eyes to the floor.

Telperien snorted. “Typical. Your father was much the same when he was your age. I don’t know why I am surprised.”

That got a bark of laughter out of Isilmo, though Arminas did not detect any real humor. “Your aunt is correct, my son,” the Man said. “Your place is here with your wife and son.”

“Why do you want this tower built, Isildil?” Arminas asked. He truly could not fathom the reason behind it. There was no strategic reason for it that he could see.

Isildil sighed. “For years there has been a great longing within me.”

“A longing for what?” the Elf pressed.

Isildil grimaced. “To be immortal,” he whispered.

“What!?” Telperien nearly screamed in disbelief, thereby upsetting little Telemnar who suddenly began to cry. Niélë tried to hush him but to no avail. Finally, calling for one of the maids waiting nearby in case the family needed anything, she directed her to take the child to the nursery. When the din of the baby’s crying faded into the distance, Telperien turned to her nephew with disgust.

“What nonsense do you speak, boy?” she asked scathingly. “You are Mortal and there is nothing shameful in that.”

“Indeed, there is not,” Arminas interjected, giving his friend a hard glare. “Your ancestor, Elros, never regretted his choice. He lived every day given to him fully and with gratitude. You should do the same.”

“Gratitude?” Isildil retorted with a scowl. “Gratitude for what? For having to die? Why should we be grateful for that?”

“Because it is Eru’s Gift to you and it should neither be despised nor rejected,” the Elf said with some exasperation.

“Easy for you to say, Arminas,” Isildil said. “You will continue to live while my bones turn to dust.”

Arminas’ expression became immediately unreadable to the Mortals around him. When he spoke it was so softly that they had to strain to hear. “Child, you will never know the grief I bear within me for all the Mortal friends I have lost over the years, including Elros. It is a grief the likes of which you cannot ever comprehend. Do not envy us too much, child. It will only lead to sorrow.”

“Elros should never have chosen as he did,” Isildil said, his expression still angry.

“If he had not, Isildil,” Arminas said, his voice now cold, “neither you nor any of your family would be alive today. For that gift of life alone, you should be grateful and show your gratitude by living each day of your life fully and completely, instead of pining for what can never be yours.”

“Lord Arminas is correct, son,” Isilmo said. “You have a wife who loves you, who has given you a son. You should be content with what Eru has given you.”

“You owe it to Niélë and to Telemnar to stay here and be with them,” Telperien said, not unkindly. “Your tower isn’t going anywhere and with winter nigh there will be little if any construction.”

“The children of Men grow so quickly, mellon nîn,” Arminas interjected, his tone more conciliatory. “Would you truly want to miss his first steps or his first words? Those moments will never be repeated and to miss such moments in your son’s life would be a shame.”

For a long moment silence stretched between them as they waited for Isildil to speak. Finally, Niélë, who had remained quiet all this time, spoke up, her eyes and her voice pleading. “Please, Isildil, for your son’s sake, if not for mine, abide with us for a time.”

Isildil sighed and nodded. “For your sake, as well as for our son’s, will I stay here in Armenelos... for a time.”

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Arminas watched in the ensuing days and weeks as Isildil tried conscientiously to be attentive to Niélë and little Telemnar and it seemed that the Man was beginning to settle down. Yet, every once in a while, the Elf caught his friend staring at him wistfully, or standing on the parapet of the palace looking westward and feared that Isildil would never find peace. Autumn was nearly done and the brilliant display of color faded to brown dead leaves. Arminas had been contemplating staying on through the winter. He was fascinated by Telemnar, watching as the babe learned to crawl and explore his little world. His special delight was when he was permitted to hold the boy and when the child fussed he would sing one lullaby after another as the night deepened while his parents slept.

His plans changed, however, on a day when Isildil could not be found. A quick search and several enquiries among the servants informed them that Isildil had left during the night, riding along the west road out of Armenelos. When he heard the news, Arminas looked down at Telemnar lying in his arms cooing and gurgling in innocent delight at the Elf and felt a deep sadness. A sudden longing for his own family smote him and he knew it was time for him to leave and said as much to Telperien and the others.

Most were distressed to hear that he was leaving them and Isilmo even begged him to reconsider, but Telperien merely nodded. “I think it best that you go, Lord Arminas,” she said with a sigh, “considering that my nephew has seen fit to desert, not only his family, but his guest.”

Niélë placed a hesitant hand on his arm and he gave her an encouraging smile. “Wouldst thou do me one favor, lord?” she asked. “Wouldst thou go to my husband and... and tell him that his wife and his son will still be here when he is ready to return.”

Arminas held her face between his hands and gently kissed her brow. “I would be happy to do such a favor for you, child.” Then he turned to the others and gave them a respectful bow. “Namárië,” he said and left to make ready for his departure.

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The tower, he saw, was complete, overlooking the land around Oromet, its walls shining white in the sun. Arminas made his way up the hill and found the entrance to the tower, climbing the spiral staircase that hugged the wall and making his way to the top. He had spied Isildil looking over the parapet staring westward. The Man never glanced around at his approach.

“If you’re here to take me back,” he heard Isildil say just as he reached the top, “you’re wasting your time.”

“Furthest thing from my mind, my friend,” Arminas said. “In fact, I am here to say farewell.”

Isildil turned to face the Elf. “You’re leaving?” he asked in shock.

“Why are you surprised?” Arminas countered. “You leave me behind in Armenelos without saying a word. You may do that to your family, but not to a guest.”

Isildil had the grace to look chagrined. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I tried, Arminas, I really did, but I... I couldn’t stay. I couldn’t stop thinking of what it must be like to live in the Undying Lands and never die.”

“Isildil, the Undying Lands are undying only because the undying abide there,” the Elf retorted with some exasperation. “The land itself does not imbue one with immortality. That is intrinsic to the Valar and the Firstborn. If you were to go to Tol Eressëa you would eventually die, for that is your doom.”

“My doom! My doom!” Isildil suddenly raged. “One that I was given no choice over.”

“Nor have I been given a choice, nor have any others,” Arminas pointed out.

“Except one,” Isildil rejoined. “Elros had a choice and he chose wrongly.”

“No, child!” Arminas insisted. “Elros chose wisely. Do you think it was easy for him to choose as he did? I assure you it was not, but when the choice was made, he embraced it with all his heart, with all his soul. He accepted the Gift which Eru has given to Mortals for himself and his descendants.”

“Meaning me,” Isildil said with a scowl.

“Your wife asked me to give you a message,” Arminas said then, deciding to change the subject.

“What message?” Isildil asked, his expression suddenly wary.

“She asked me to tell you that she and your son will be there when you are ready to return.”

Isildil sighed and turned away to look west again. Arminas came to stand beside him. His elven sight allowed him to see the white shores of Tol Eressëa just at the horizon. He very much doubted his friend could see them. “Go home, Isildil. Go home to your wife and son. Live your life. Do not waste it staring at the horizon. Your destiny lies eastward in Armenelos, not west. That way is forever closed to you.”

Isildil turned to look at him. “I love you, Arminas, as my brother, but I envy you as well and I think I always shall.”

“And for that I am deeply sorry,” Arminas said, embracing the Man and giving him a kiss in farewell. “I think it is well that I leave. I fear my presence has darkened your spirit and I would not wish to be the cause of such grief as you are experiencing.”

“Will I see you again?” Isildil asked and Arminas sensed the sorrow and regret in the Mortal’s voice.

“I do not know,” he answered honestly. “All is as Eru wills.”

“Namárië, then,” Isildil said, then turned his attention back to the west.

Arminas sighed, wanting to say more but knowing his words would fall on deaf ears. Without another word he turned and made his way back down the tower. He never looked back.

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Eönwë opened the door leading to one of the audience chambers in the Elder King’s mansion in Valmar. “Lord Arminas of Tol Eressëa,” he announced, then stepped aside to allow the Elf to enter before shutting the door behind him.

Arminas saw that all the Valar were present and gave them his obeisance. Lord Manwë gestured him forward. “Be welcome, my son,” he said. “To what do we owe your visit? What news do you bring us?”

“Disturbing news, my lord,” Arminas said sadly. “I have just returned from Númenor and I fear....” He paused, not sure how to explain the foreboding in his heart.

Manwë gave him a sympathetic look which was mirrored by the other Valar. “Sit and tell us what you will,” the Elder King said kindly.

Arminas complied and after being handed a goblet of wine, began to speak of his concerns for his Mortal friend. “The tower he has built serves no other purpose but for him to gaze across the waters to Tol Eressëa, pining for what can never be,” he ended his tale, giving a sigh before taking a sip of wine.

For a long moment, there was only silence as the Valar contemplated his words. Finally, Manwë spoke. “You did well to come to us, Arminas, and tell us this. Rest assured we will address this situation. You have our thanks and our gratitude. I know it was difficult to come here and tell us about your friend and your concerns.”

“I almost did not come,” Arminas confessed, “for I did not want to impose....”

Varda shook her head. “It is not an imposition,” she said. “We are glad you came to us.”

“Go now,” Manwë said gently. “My brethren and I have much to discuss.”

Arminas rose and gave them his obeisance just as Eönwë returned to escort him from the room. When the Elf had left, the Valar sat in silence until Manwë finally nodded and spoke aloud. “This malaise I think will not be limited to just Isildil,” he said, “for where there is one suffering such a malady, there are bound to be others. Isildil’s tower is merely the most visible manifestation of this.”

“What then, do you propose?” Námo asked for all of them.

“I think I will send messengers to the people of Númenor reminding them of the Ban and their oaths to us,” Manwë replied.

“They should be reminded also of the Doom which is theirs,” Námo said. “They are Mortal and must abide by the limits set for them by Ilúvatar.”

Manwë nodded. “It is a pity that we must do this, but I think that too much time has passed for these Children and they have forgotten much that their ancestors knew and accepted.” He then dismissed the other Valar, wishing for a time to be alone. Eventually, he thought himself to Ilmarin and stepped out onto the balcony that overlooked the Pelóri. By now, it was night and Isil had risen. Casting his mind outward to Númenor, he concentrated his thoughts on a single tower where a lone figure stood staring out to sea, a hunger and a longing darkening his eyes. Isil’s light touched upon the tower, casting a long shadow that stretched ominously towards Valinor. Manwë shook his head in dismay, then sent his thoughts further east to Armenelos. There, in another tower, sat a young Woman, rocking a babe and gently singing a lullaby, her eyes sad and wistful, looking out the window that faced, not west, but east.

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Mavoinë: (Quenya) Great Longing.

Fëa: (Quenya) Spirit, soul.

Ada: (Sindarin) Hypocoristic form of Adar: Father.

Mellon nîn: (Sindarin) My friend.

Niéliccilis: (Quenya) Little Niélë. Both the name and the endearment are attested.

Nai le cuivuva alya, pityaquen: (Quenya) ‘May you lived blessed, little one’.

Tye-melin, meldanya: (Quenya) ‘I love thee, my beloved.’

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Excerpted from ‘The Line of Elros: Kings of Númenor’, Unfinished Tales:

X: Tar-Telperien

She was the second Ruling Queen of Númenor. She was long-lived (for the women of the Númenóreans had the longer life, or laid down their lives less easily), and she would wed with no man. Therefore after her day the sceptre passed to Minastir; he was the son of Isilmo, the second child of Tar-Súrion....

XI: Tar-Minastir

This name he had because he built a high tower upon the hill of Oromet, nigh to Andúnië and the west shores, and thence would spend great part of his days gazing westward. For the yearning was grown strong in the hearts of the Númenóreans. He loved the Eldar but envied them....

XII: Tar-Ciryatan

He was born in the year 1634, and ruled for 160 years; he surrendered the sceptre in 2029, and died in 2035. He was a mighty King, but greedy of wealth; he built a great fleet of royal ships, and his servants brought back great store of metals and gems, and oppressed the men of Middle-earth. He scorned the yearnings of his father, and eased the restlessness of his heart by voyaging, east, and north, and south, until he took the sceptre. It is said that he constrained his father to yield to him ere of his free will he would. In this way (it is held) might the first coming of the Shadow upon the bliss of Númenor be seen.

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