Silmarillion Writers' Guild Opportunity Discovered and Seized by Lady Roisin

“To the feasting in Armen-elos came one Beregar from his dwelling in the west of the Isle, and with him came Erendis his daughter. There Almarian the Queen observed her beauty, of a kind seldom seen in Númenor; for Beregar came of the House of Bëor by ancient descent, though not of the royal line of Elros, and Erendis was dark-haired and of slender grace, with the clear grey eyes of her kin. But Erendis looked upon Aldarion as he rode by, and for his beauty and splendour of bearing she had eyes for little else.”

-The Tale of Aldarion and Erendis, Unfinished Tales

The excited chatter of the gathered crowd roared like storm-driven waves upon the shore. People lined the streets for as far as Beregar could see. They surged forward, hoping for a glance of the grand royal procession. Word reached Beregar of Tar-Meneldur’s elaborate plans to celebrate the announcement of his heir. The rumors said it was the King’s way of further facilitating reconciliation with his son. Aldarion’s love of the sea and his voyages had been a regular source of ire for his father. Still, even Beregar was unable to resist the urge to chuckle quietly to himself when he learned that Tar-Meneldur had gone so far as to put in place a law that restricted how many trees could be harvested for the purpose of shipbuilding. Surely the King was not entirely surprised by Aldarion’s love affair with seafaring, especially when it was well known that the Queen’s father, Vëantur, raised Aldarion with stories of his day as a mariner and gave the boy the keys to the cage by teaching him how to sail.

Despite the royal family’s escapades, they were counted among the most beloved of all of Númenor’s leaders. When the invitation to the feast arrived at Beregar’s home his young daughter, Erendis, was beside herself with excitement and begged Beregar to take her with him. His wife, Núneth, brought up the subject until Beregar finally caved and gave his consent. He almost regretted the decision when he discovered the expenses Núneth spent on preparing Erendis for this day. There had been tutors, hairdressers, jewelers, and dressmakers dashing through Beregar’s home like a flock of wild birds, making his head spin with all of the activity. He was about to send them away when Núneth let him in on her grand scheme.

Aldarion would soon be officially named as the Tar-Meneldur’s heir, and not too long after that the King and Queen would begin their search for a suitable wife. With all the voyages Aldarion occupied his time with over the years it was highly unlikely he had his eyes set upon any potential matches, at least not yet.

Beregar’s family had incurred a number of debts over the years, many of which were dropped into Beregar’s lap after his father’s passing. Much of the wealth Beregar attained through his service in the royal military and official positions had gone in an attempt to erase the financial mire from his family’s name. Only a miracle, or a royal betrothal, seemed fit to end their troubles. It did not hurt that Beregar was a part of Aldarion’s Guild of Venturers and was on good terms with the future King.

Beregar turned to his right to see a measured smile upon Erendis’ face. There was no doubt that she was one of the most radiant maidens in attendance of this auspicious event. Many surely tried their best with their priceless gowns and array of jewels. But they did not possess Erendis’ natural charm or command. Even as the crowd awaited the royal procession, many pairs of eyes turned to look upon this newcomer to their golden city.

“Where are they?” Beregar sensed the razor edge of irritation in his daughter’s voice and he hoped it would disappear by the time the royal family was in sight. For all her beauty and charm, not all of the etiquette tutors in all of Númenor could rid Erendis of her thorny temper. It was something she must gain control over if their plan to match her with the King’s son succeeded.

The bright trill of silver horns rang out over the roar of the crowd as cheers went up to see the royal procession begin. The King and Queen emerged from the citadel. Musicians, jugglers, fire spinners, and dancers preceded the high-ranked officers in the royal military, many of whom had been Beregar’s comrades back in the days of youth. Next came the King and Queen’s households, each taking their places upon the elevated platform reserved for the highest nobility. A few of them looked towards Beregar and his daughter, surely wondering how they came to join the elite midst. Beregar gave them little heed. It had been his quick thinking and charisma that had earned seats here for Erendis and himself.

The King and Queen were brought forth on a gilded litter and were accompanied to their high seats upon the dais placed at the center front of the platform. Both monarchs looked resplendent in their formal garb. The King’s sceptre glinted in the bright sunlight, further reminding the crowd of the reason for this lavish celebration.

At last the King’s heir came into sight, flanked by guards and standard bearers. Even Beregar was unable to withhold the gasp that rushed past his lips at the sight of him. The cumulative energy of the crowd was easily felt as it focused upon Aldarion. He was every bit the prince one hears of in the old stories as he rode towards the platform on his great black warhorse. One might have mistaken him for one of the great Elvish high kings with his long golden hair and bright armor.

Beregar turned again to his right to ask Erendis what she thought of the King’s son. But the look in her clear gray eyes said everything he needed, and hoped, to know. Beregar murmured Erendis’ name yet nothing turned her attention away from Aldarion. Beregar smiled to himself, glad he would return to tell Núneth of the glad tidings.

Almarian waved to her people as the litter passed through the endless sea of cheering crowds. Númenor had always been good to them and this celebration was every bit as much for them as it was for her family. The Queen turned to look at her husband when he grasped her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. Together they shared a look of joy mixed with great relief. After all, this day almost was not a reality.

For years Almarian blamed herself for the disaster they barely averted. She had been the one to allow her father, Vëantur, to teach her son about sailing and ships despite the fact Meneldur disapproved. Her husband swore nothing good would come of it, that it distracted Aldarion from what he truly needed to spend his time learning. But Almarian also knew her father’s stories of Middle-earth and of the Elves, Númenor’s longtime allies. She knew the importance of not turning ones back on allies or friends and she would not wish to see Aldarion abandon them either. However none of them anticipated their son taking such a fanatical obsession with his ships and voyages. They should have seen it coming when Vëantur passed on the keep of his beloved ship, The Numerramar, to Aldarion.

The quarreling between Meneldur and Aldarion was terrible, so much so that Almarian often found herself retreating to the quiet chatter she shared with her two daughters, Ailinel and Almiel. The two sisters could not have been any different had one brought them up in separate homes. They had been close as any siblings in their youth. But then the constant bickering between their father and older brother changed their dynamics as well. Ailinel, being the second eldest child, began to grow bitter that her father had not named her his heir instead or changed the laws so that he may do so. It was true; Ailinel had always obeyed her father and longed for his favor. She had spent countless hours studying everything that Aldarion was taught, even succeeding him in her dedication to the various subjects. But instead of a sceptre, Meneldur gifted his daughter with an arranged marriage with his long time friend’s son, Orchaldor. Both Ailinel and her husband refused to attend the day’s ceremonies much to the King’s displeasure. Ailinel claimed she was still weak from birthing her son, Soronto. But Almarian knew well enough that it was likely bitterness and not childbed that kept Ailinel from attending.

However, while a portion of the Queen’s heart remained with her daughter, the other part was filled with joy for the reconciliation between the King and Aldarion. Together Almarian and Meneldur watched from their seats as Aldarion approached the platform. Never before had the Queen felt so proud of her only son. He reminded Almarian so much of her father, both in his appearance and noble carriage. The Queen turned to look at the faces in the crowd, curious to see what they thought of their future king.

As Almarian’s eyes looked over those upon the platform they rested upon a noblewoman she had never seen before. The maiden wore a gold gown covered in intricate beading and embroidery. Her dark hair was captured in a delicate golden net embellished with pearls. But even more impressive was the choker made of clear gems clasped around the young woman’s throat. There was such intensity in the maiden’s eyes that the Queen became even more curious about this newcomer, especially since the woman’s eyes were fixed upon Aldarion. Almarian was unable to resist the fantasies that were birthed from the scene in front of her. Now that Aldarion was to be Meneldur’s heir he would require a bride now more than ever. It was not unusual for a lady to throw flirtatious looks her son’s way. But none had ever stared at Aldarion with such a strong expression filled with desire, almost like a cat narrowing in upon a mouse before pouncing upon it.

“Tell me the name of that lady,” Almarian whispered into the ear of her closest attendant. “That one there with the dark hair and the gold gown.”

The attendant stole a quick glance in the direction the Queen indicated and leaned in to whisper her response. “That is Captain Beregar’s daughter, Erendis. They are nobles from the House of Bëor they say.”

Bëor was an ancient house of legends and heroes. No wonder this Erendis bore such an intense and striking beauty. Whether Aldarion was about to exhaust the list of eligible ladies of the court was no longer a cause of concern for the Queen. Before her stood an opportunity none of them had considered.

The Queen leaned in towards her lady a second time. “Once the ceremonies and the formalities of the feast have passed, I want you to bring Captain Beregar’s daughter to me.”

The cheers of the crowd faded into an annoying buzz within Aldarion’s ears. He would give anything to be aboard his ships instead of here, dressed in stifling armor and velvets underneath a hot afternoon sun. He would be there if his conscience, not to mention his father, had not forced him to be here instead. It was no more his father’s fault for being so different from Aldarion than it was his own fault. He would wear the clothes and endure the drawn out formalities for the sake of his mother and father. As much as the sea captured every fiber of his undying devotion, a portion of his heart still belonged to his family. It was in part for them that he made so many journeys, for Númenor. In time they would see it as he did.

But more than anything, Aldarion did this for his mother’s sake. She was the one who supported him the most, understood his love for the sea and the importance of his voyages. If Númenor was to grow then Númenor must expand her territories, increase trade with the Elves and the Men of Middle-earth. Otherwise Númenor ran a high risk of becoming isolated from the rest of Arda, and such an occurrence had dire consequences for both Númenor’s economy and defenses from outside attack. It was imperative that the isle become a world leader in trade and exploration as well as form strong alliances.

Aldarion turned to wave to the crowd, raising the volume of their exuberant cheers. Ladies cried out to him and threw flower petals in the path of his horse. He made sure to turn his head towards them and smile. The maidens blushed and cried out in joy while outstretching their hands towards their future king. No wonder his father seemed to believe being the king was the most privileged position in Númenor. But not just any young and eager lady would draw Aldarion’s attention. She needed to be strong and wise like his mother as well as beautiful and graceful like the Elvish women of Gil-galad’s household, namely his lovely daughter, Almárëa. She was the most beautiful maiden Aldarion had ever seen, at least until his eyes turned towards the platform where the King and Queen were seated.

An unfamiliar lady stood near Aldarion’s mother, drawing his gaze towards her. Maybe it was the brilliance of her gown and jewels, or maybe the intensity in the way she looked upon him. Her bright eyes were like hooks, pulling Aldarion’s attention towards her and allowing him to look at little else. There was doubt she was one of the most striking woman Aldarion had seen in his days, but that was not enough to permanently capture his attention. For as lovely as she appeared, beauty alone was not enough to inspire Aldarion to seek her out.

The King’s heir turned to look upon the man standing next to the young woman in the golden dress and Aldarion smiled when he recognized Beregar, a fellow captain in the Guild of Venturers. Ah, it was good to know friends were present to help lighten the burdens of this overwrought celebration. And the woman next to Beregar must certainly be his wife. There were many who claimed that the lady Núneth was of a rare and special beauty.

Aldarion dismounted from his horse and walked towards the platform. As he approached the King stood from his seat and Aldarion could tell from the look on his father’s face that he was preparing for another one of his long-winded speeches. Of course Tar-Meneldur would squeeze this moment for everything it was worth, especially since it was his chance to lord over Aldarion in front of all of Armenelos. Aldarion would tolerate it for now and plan to leave on another voyage at the soonest opportune moment.

Erendis held a hand above her eyes to shield them from the sun. It seemed like forever until the procession began and her father had already chided her once with a warning glance when she enquired why the procession had not begun yet. The afternoon was warm, almost too warm to be wearing all of the brilliant raiment her parents had paid a fortune for her to wear on this day. Erendis had been especially proud of her gown and jewels.

Before leaving for Armenelos Erendis’ mother instructed her to win the Queen’s favor, that it was the key to sorting all of their woes. She had overheard her parents murmuring late at night on more than a few occasions lately. There were no doubts in Erendis’ mind that the family debts were on the forefront of their thoughts. She would do anything to help her family and it seemed that she was close to achieving those means. Once the King and Queen processed to their royal seats the Queen turned her eyes towards Erendis a couple times before leaning in to whisper to one of her attendants. Hopefully their conversation was the one of an approving strain.

But a very different matter entirely pulled Erendis’ attention away from the Queen. The crowd cheered for a tall man riding upon an almost monstrously large black horse. The gentleman’s long blond hair flowed freely past his shoulders, complimenting the handsome chiseled features of his face. It was as if one the old heroes and Kings from her childhood stories were brought forth from words into flesh and blood to ride before her. He was the most noble and handsome creature Erendis ever laid eyes upon and she was unable to take her eyes away from him. When he looked her way and smiled she thought her heart might burst with joy.

Erendis watched as the man dismounted from his horse and approach the platform. For a brief moment she dared to hope that he might approach her, instead he knelt in front of the King and realization of who this handsome stranger was set in. This was far better than anything she might have dreamed up herself. Her mother had instructed Erendis to win over Queen Almarian, but she tried to imagine her mother’s shock and excitement if she managed to also gain the favor of the future King of Númenor.

The wheels already rolled swiftly upon the road headed for Erendis’ goals once the feast reached its festive peek. Erendis was doing her best to carry on witty and polite conversations with those around her when the attendant with whom the queen spoke earlier sought her out. Almarian appeared more interested in Erendis than she had first thought. Her audience with the King and Queen ended with Almarian inviting Erendis to join her household. It was a move that surprised both Erendis and her father, yet the pride in her father’s eyes made Erendis wish to cry out in delight for all of the court to hear.

But she did no such thing. Instead her eyes turned towards Aldarion to find he looked back at her over the rim of his goblet. Erendis turned her head away slowly as if to give the impression that their met gaze had been unintentional on her part. She made her way towards the dancers near the place where Aldarion sat and joined the assortment of formally clad bodies as a graceful melody was brought forth by the musicians. Erendis turned to face Aldarion as she moved through the steps of the dance her instructors had drummed into skull. All the hours and blisters were worth it to receive the inquiring stares Aldarion threw Erendis’ way. She gifted him with a modest smile and watched as his face turned red and quickly buried itself in to contents of the goblet held up to it. Unfortunately the King’s heir turned his attention away from Erendis before the song ended. He now stood with his back turned towards her as he became engrossed in a conversation with his comrades. It would be far too obvious if Erendis sought him out now.

Erendis’ heart sank, knowing she would have to be patient and bide her time. Just as she was about to return to her father’s side, Aldarion looked over his shoulder, passing a quick glance Erendis’ way. It was all she needed to cast her net. She was already well on her way to winning over the Almarian and if all went along with the plan Erendis was forming in her head at that very moment, then she would soon be Aldarion’s Queen.

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