The Rise and Fall of Calimendil, Fifth King of Cardolan - Comprising the war between Cardolan and Rhudaur, and the subsequent disaster of Cameth Brin - CHAPTER NINETEEN
On the third night after my return to court following the deadly skirmish with the army of Orodril I was awakened late in the night by the sound of women crying and wailing. Rising from my bed in alarm and ran to the chamber of the Queen, but she was not there. The commotion was not from her chamber but rather that of her daughter's. I pushed my way inside and beheld Amariel weeping as she clung to Calime and held her close to her bosom, all the while calling her daughter's name, "Calime! Oh my Calime! What have you done, my child?" The body of Calime was limp and looked to be lifeless. Her eyes were closed and her hands were as cold as ice. Yet no blood was there to be seen anywhere in the chamber. Quickly I searched the room and found a drinking vessel upon the table that was nearly empty, but contained the remnants of strange liquid that was not merely water! Calime had consumed poison in an attempt to end her own life. Very nearly she had succeed, and indeed we thought her already dead upon discovering her upon the floor. But we soon saw that her heart had not stopped its beating within her breast and that Calime still clung to life.
The healers were called for immediately and Calime was moved to another room that contained a great fireplace. There the healers practiced their art upon her as Amariel rubbed her cold hands. But I left the chamber and began my questioning of all the household without delay. I soon learned that Calime had become distraught after hearing of the defeat of Telcaran upon the battlefield, for she had loved him, though we knew it not. She had never spoken any word to her mother concerning Telcaran, save in passing only. Yet one there was who was in Calime's secret confidence: a servant girl at Dol Calantir whom she favored, named Iorweth. From her I discovered that Calime had carried on a private dialogue with Telcaran for some time. They had exchanged messages even before Calimendil had ridden to war in Rhudaur. Following the tragic death of her father Calime had lost what little hope she had left in Cardolan and greatly desired to remove to Arthedain. But her mother would not yield up her beloved husband's realm to any usurper, and now Telcaran, her lone savior and deliverer, was dead. A rumor had been circulated after the victory of Orodril's army that Amariel had at last begun to consider signing a truce with Orodril that would pledge her daughter's hand in marriage to Odhril, or even the prince of Tyrn Gorthad himself, so that further bloodshed could be averted. Even the mere thought of such a dreadful scenario was too much for the daughter of the Queen and alas, she despaired of life.
A week following her attempted suicide Calime began to regain her strength of body, but her mind was broken and nearly overthrown. She would not communicate with anyone: not even her mother, who wept each night for Calime. But in time she spoke at whiles with Iorweth, and through her, acting as an intermediary, we learned that Calime declared that she would again "despair and wither away" if she remained any longer at Dol Calantir, for she no longer found any joy in anything that her life in Cardolan could offer her.
Then at last Amariel summoned me alone to her chamber where she sat alone before the glow of the great fireplace. She looked to me then as one stricken with remorse and who is conquered in the end, and in her eyes was the resolve of some great decision she had made for herself. She turned and looked at me in silence for many moments. She did not need to speak. I knew her mind well enough then, as I had guessed it for some time: Amariel had resolved to leave Dol Calantir and surrender up the crown of Cardolan.
I then suddenly felt overwhelmed with a sense of dejection and miscarriage of duty to this remarkable and courageous woman who now stood before me, broken and consumed with melancholia. At last I broke the silence, "I know now why you have summoned me, my lady. You mean to abdicate the throne."
"It cannot be helped now, Iliandor," said the Queen, who was attired as one who is about to go out into the wild. "I have tried to preserve what my husband has left behind him with all the knowledge and skill I possess. But it has proven insufficient. Whether intended or not I have caused the shedding of blood by the people of Cardolan, and of that I deeply grieved. Calimendil is gone forever. So, too, are my sons. Calime is all that remains to me now, and her I would not lose. But I forebode that she will again seek solace in death if she lingers here. For her sake at the least, I will abdicate my authority over Cardolan to Orodril, who, alas, shall become King."
This seemed to me an ill council, and I sought to persuade Amariel to reconsider her decision by all means that I could, for it was arrived at in a state of mental anguish, and that is ever deceiving. But Amariel had made up her mind and would not be dissuaded by any argument I could contrive. "At the least, lady," I begged her, "do not surrender the realm to Orodril! Such a man of low decrepitude will throw us all into a full civil war. Less blood will be shed if you surrender the throne to Arriana your sister-in-law. At the least she is of the royal bloodline of Cardolan, though her husband is a foreigner." But the Queen declined the notion, saying that Arriana had even more foes of old than did Orodril. She added grimly, "Of Arriana and Girwaedh we have heard little from as of late. Doubtless they have received tidings of the defection of captain Daemroth to our enemies, wherever they may be. It may be that they shall have a part to play in the fate of Cardolan yet, but our time is short, my old friend. Few friends remain to us now. Arthedain has forsaken us, that at least is plain."
"Where then will you go?" I asked her eagerly.
"I shall take my daughter to Fornost, my home of old, and beg harborage from Malvegil, the king. There she will, in time, be healed of her woes, and her and I shall begin a new life and preserve our past in our hearts, though we may fear the future." No further councils would prevail with the lady Amariel, despite my arguments. Her mind was resolute on the matter and would not change with the rising and setting of a few suns. The crown of Cardolan would pass to another. But ere I left her chamber she checked me, and added, "Do not fear over much the consequences of my abdication, Iliandor. Whatever my faults I would never give you over to Orodril and Odhril, as they demand. No ceremony or announcement will there be of my departure from Dol Calantir to herald in another sovereign. My daughter and I will leave in secret. But I would beg you to come with us, my old friend, for you know that I hold you entirely blameless in the disaster at Cameth Brin." I looked kindly at the Queen but did not speak anymore of it at that time, and I closed the door behind me ere I left. I slept very little that night as I pondered my uncertain future.
On the third day after my conversation with the Queen Amariel called together the remnants of her council and declared to them her decision to relinquish the crown of Cardolan to prince Orodril in order to preserve Cardolan in tact and spill not anymore blood. Shamefully enough, few of the councilmen raised any objection to her announcement, proving that Amariel had indeed been right all along in doubting their loyalty. But one there was among them who sided with the Queen, and his name was Balor, who had once been a friend of Orodril in their youth. They had both been skilled hunters and traveled far through the lands of Cardolan together in sport. Later they became estranged when both men courted the same woman, with Balor emerging as the victor. Balor spoke heavily against the notion of Orodril as King of Cardolan, but Amariel could not be swayed.
Preparations for the departure of Amariel and Calime commenced at once. The Queen again asked me to come with them, but I declined, saying, "Cardolan is my home and I will not forsake it, my lady. Besides," I added, "I am no longer young by any means. Fornost Erain lies many long leagues to the north. My bones ache even thinking of so long a journey. Nay, whether Cardolan remains intact or becomes sundered in war I shall remain hither and bear it with what fortitude that remains to me. Yet thou at least I will not abandon, for I swore to Calimendil many years ago to act as your protector, and that promise I will not break, in honor of him and you."
Therefore I went before the council one last time and told them that the lady Amariel and her daughter would depart Dol Calantir in two more days time and that she would come before them to lay the crown of Cardolan before them upon the throne of her late husband. I remember as I stood before them that some among them even feigned sympathy for Amariel then and offered to give her sanctuary until Calimendil's old abode at Metraith could be perpared for her coming. On behalf of Amariel I accepted their offer. But I lied to them, just as many of them had done to the Queen.
With the assistance of Balor I prepared four horses fully equipped for a long journey and had them tied up within a thicket of trees just north of the castle where few folk bothered to go. Long after midnight I rose from my bed and quietly made my way out of the castle unnoticed by any. Upon arriving to the wooded area I found the lady Amariel and Calime laying in wait for me. With them was Balor, who pledged to accompany them both as far north as the great East-west road that marked the borderline between Arthedain and Cardolan. Balor was well accustomed to the lands that way and knew better than any how best to avoid unwanted encounters with the soldiery of Orodril (who would have by then certainly had spies and guards stretched through the lands between Tyrn Gorthad and the Gwathlo), and not least wandering brigands and thieves from Tharbad. Then at last all was made ready for our clandestine departure from Dol Calantir. I remember the night well, for it was somehow both sorrowful and satisfying at once. I lamented indeed the turn of fate that had fallen upon us all after the death of Calimendil and his sons. But my heart was gladdened to see the sacrifice Amariel had made for her only daughter, knowing that she would now have an opportunity to grow and mature into a woman of honor and distinction within the safeguarded walls of Fornost.
As we gathered round and readied the horses under the shadows of the trees I bade the Amariel wait, saying, "Lady, if you will, I have something that rightfully belongs to you ere you depart. I think it fitting that you receive this and take it with you where it shall be safe within the guarded walls of Fornost." With that I brought forth from a carefully folded cloth of silk the silver gem-incrusted crown of the Queen of Cardolan, which Amariel had returned to the council following her declamation of abdication as Queen. "I beg you to take this, as it will surely be too small a fit for Orodril and his inflated head. Usurpers such as he have no just claim upon such heirlooms. It should stay within the royal bloodline of old Thorondor, whose wife wore it upon her head long ago. It will doubtless be missed soon, so pray do not wear it until you have made your exit from Cardolan proper." The Queen wept as I presented the gift to her and accepted it humbly with many thanks.
Ere we parted ways that night Amariel paid homage to me by giving me her blessings and good wishes. Then she kissed my forehead, saying, "I regret that I have nothing fitting to give you on such a parting of ways, my friend and advisor of old. You deserve no less than a treasure chest overflowing with gold and silver for all you have done for me and my late husband."
"Nay, lady. All I have done for you have been out of love and honor, and not merely out of obligation to duty. Nothing would I receive from you save your lasting friendship to the end of our days."
"That you already have. But where then will you go?" asked Amariel.
I looked long and hard at the Queen and her daughter ere I spoke, and at length smiled as one who is content, "Do not worry yourselves about me, for you have a long journey to undertake now and you should do so with one care the less. Yet if it will ease your mind, know that I will now flee the pleasantries of Dol Calantir and seek refuge at Tharbad where I can stay hidden for a while. I still have the friendship of the mayor there and he will provide me with the necessary lodgings as other more secure arrangements can be made."
Then Calime suddenly took forth from her pack a folded cloak and presented it to me, saying, "If you will not come with us, lord, I beg you to accept this as a gift from the King's daughter at our parting. It was made by the elves of Lindon. It will not turn away the sharp steel of enemy blades or shafts but it will conceal you from unfriendly eyes, as it will change colors to match your surroundings when worn. I deem you shall need it more than I in the days ahead." I was very touched by her gift for I knew that her father had given it to her many years ago. But I could not refuse her generosity then, and I accepted the cloak gratefully.
Then we all mounted our steeds together for the last time. We looked back once more from our hiding spot to the fair castle of Dol Calantir where all was mostly dark, being well after the midnight hour. Being confident that none had espied our secret rendezvous we said our final farewells. Balor was to escort them first eastwards across the fields of Dol Calantir before turning at last northwards, where they would make first for Metraith ere they followed the slow and winding course of the river Nen-I-Sul northwards again until they struck the great East-west road. There it would be an easy task to find the soldiers of Arthedain, who would escort them up to the North Downs where stood the fortress of King Malvegil. But I took the south road under a moonlit sky that night until I came upon the great walls of the Rath Formen, and paid the heavy toll to the guardsmen there ere I was admitted into the city of Tharbad - and here I remain still.
Ten years have passed since I left Dol Calantir. I have not returned since then and doubtless never will. Alas! Orodril is now the new King of Cardolan and many of his inequitable followers from Tyrn Gorthad have come to swell the numbers of Dol Calantir. His court is a corrupt one, just as I assumed it would be. He has amassed much wealth during his short reign as King, and at this many marvel at. Though he had never been short of money during his day as a prince it seems most unlikely that he could have acquired all that he now has without assistance from the other princes of the realm. But most of those that remain (and they are now few) have grown to despise him. Therefore one may only conclude that he has taken to robbing the sacred tombs and graves of the dead! The very same barrow downs that he once swore to King Tarandil that he would guard and protect from thievery! And now Orodril has gathered his strength and threatens war against Prince Haldar of Greenrock, son of Telcaran, for I recently learned tidings that Haldar had slain none other than Odhril, the craven cousin of Orodril, in a duel of swords. It seems that Odhril was unable to elude justice in the end. He had deserted King Calimendil during the war in Rhudaur and has now paid the price; and that I deem to be a good thing.
The lady Amariel and her daughter Calime succeeded in reaching Fornost Erain in Arthedain with Balor as their guide, though it took them well nigh a month to complete the journey. Three months after their arrival I received a message from them informing me that King Malvegil had consented to grant me sanctuary at Fornost with them if I could arrange transportation thereto. Yet also they warned me of the hidden agendas of Orodril, who eagerly desired my death. I sent them my thanks but replied saying that Cardolan was my home. I had spent the entirety of my life and childhood here; where also I lost my beloved wife to the fever long ago, and I would not be so far parted with her, though she had been laid in earth many years before. But I received no further messages from Amariel for many long years afterwards. As the years lengthened I wondered much at this: until I at last received word from her two years ago, asking me to compose this record and testimony of the life of her late husband, which I have now completed.
As for Calimendil, my friend and king of old, I have sought to portray his personal semblance and bearing as truthfully as memory allows. For all that knew him well know that he was a remarkable man who possessed all the finest traits and qualities of the Dunedain lords from ages past, and I think it not unfitting that his memory be preserved in their likeness. He was never warlike in nature and had little love for the glory that comes with the defeat of a foe, as did his two sons and his brother Vorondil, but fancied rather to walk far afield together with his wife among the wild hills and grasses of Cardolan. But when pressed to do so he was able to wield the sword and spear as skillfully and deftly as any warrior in the realm. As a policy-maker he was wise and shrewd, and could penetrate the hearts of his detractors ere they were aware of it. But he was never manipulative in his stratagems with the other princes. Had he been so his woes and burdens during his time as king would have been the less for it. But it was not in his character. But for the ill fated war with Rhudaur he would no doubt have lived on to be Cardolan's greatest king since old Thorondor. Yet the result of the war is not to be laid at his door; nor the poor state of the realm today. For only now do we know the full threat that Angmar poses to all of old Arnor, and we all live in peril. We must also remember that it is not difficult to find fault with the actions of the dead, for they cannot rise from the grave to defend themselves. But if Calimendil must be faulted for any failure on his part in the long war with Rhudaur it might only be in that he shunned the council of Arthedain. A fatal error that I must share with him, for I was his most trusted advisor. Alas for Calimendil and Amariel! And alas for Cardolan! Not much longer shall it stand as a realm made whole, I deem. The usurper who now calls himself king threatens to plunge all of Cardolan into civil war with his greed and hunger for power. Arthedain will send us no aid, for Orodril openly scorns King Malvegil. And now I am old - even for one of the Dunedain in its waning bloodline. I know not why Eru has yet to summoned my spirit to the designated resting-place of Men, beyond the Sea. But long after I am spent in both body and mind my story shall endure long afterwards, and may it shine a bright and unclouded light upon the true character and valor of the deeds of the fallen and vanquished heroes of the troubled times of our past. ~ FIN. ~
Iliandor, once-councilor-to-the-King-turned scribe, and the author of this carefully drafted epic, labored long over this tale of the life and times of King Calimendil and completed his narrative in the Spring of the year 1332, after having spent more than two years in the undertaking. With the cooperation of the mayor of Tharbad, Iliandor acquired the services of a young servant who copied out the entire document in full and made arrangements to have it sent to the lady Amariel in Arthedain, where she received it with joy. But it was said that the widow of the late Calimendil was ill pleased with the author for having divulged her daughter's attempted suicide to the general public, for condensed drafts of the manuscript were copied out and distributed throughout the city of Tharbad and elsewhere. But word of the new book of Iliandor soon reached the ears of King Orodril at Dol Calantir, and he was enraged with the author's accusations upon him of theft and impropriety. The King immediately ordered that all copies of the book that could be discovered be publicly burned in the courts of Tharbad, and Iliandor arrested and brought perforce to the court of the King. Thus in his old age Iliandor, former captain and war hero, and councilor to King Calimendil, was forced to go into hiding, darting from one dark lodging to another under cover of darkness. In this he received aid from the mayor, who had been sympathetic to Iliandor. But ere long he was removed from his office by order of the King and replaced with one whose loyalties were sworn to the crown. Then at last, fearing his impending capture, Iliandor fled Tharbad in disguise. Alone with his servant he began the long trek to the barrows of Tyrn Gorthad in the north of the realm, where he purposed to lay himself down to die beside the grave of his beloved wife, for he no longer desired life. But he was discovered along the road by spies from Dol Calantir and brought before the King as a vagabond. Orodril did not have him executed, seeing Iliandor now as little more than a helpless old man nearing the end of his days. But he had him locked away in the dark dungeons of the estate, where he died soon thereafter in the year 1333. Too late did Amariel send forth men from Fornost down the long lengths of Gwathlo to seek tidings of her old friend in Tharbad, and no certain word of Iliandor's final fate ever reach her ears.