“Here lieth Elenarian – fairest of Queens, selfless in life, lov’d by all, more gentle than summer. 1206-1277” ~ inscribed upon the tomb of the Queen
I shall turn briefly back to Dol Calantir now. As the two sons of the King and Queen made their names known to the aristocracy of Arthedain in the north, events in Cardolan began to unfold quickly. Rumors throughout the land began to spread that the Queen was seriously ill. I, myself, may vouch that Elenarian looked to be in the pique of health in the autumn of the year 1276, if my memory recollects rightly. She exhibited no signs whatsoever of any illness. I recall her surprise to the wild rumors that were circulating among the folk in southern Cardolan, and particularly Tharbad, by saying, “If I am ill I wish someone more wise than myself would inform me, for I feel as fresh as a new dawn rising in the spring.” To reassure the people, the King sent me out to the nearby towns and into Tharbad to douse the false rumors once and for all.
My stay in Tharbad was prolonged due to inclement weather and the poor condition of the road that lead from Dol Calantir to Tharbad. I was forced to remain in the King’s most hated city for 5 days as I waited for the rains to subside. It seemed plain to me while I was there that Tharbad had already begun its inevitable downward slide from a prosperous and hospitable city to the malevolent oversized slum that it is nowadays. Today it is known more for its spies and thievery than it is for its haven for travelers and merchants. Indeed, during my stay there I was sure I was being followed as I maneuvered through the winding streets and causeways – especially at night, but I managed to elude them. In the end, however, I was able to convince the lords of the city that the Queen of Cardolan was in good health and showed no signs of any illness ere I returned to Dol Calantir.
Shortly after my return to court Vorondil returned from Arthedain, but without the company of Calimendil, who, as he reported to Tarandil, had opted to remain behind at Fornost to “flirt with the maidens there,” as Vorondil explained it. The King was irked at Calimendil’s blatant disregard to his authority and even more so by his son’s lack of propriety and sense of duty as a prince. As punishment, Tarandil rescinded his former offer to fund Calimendil’s construction project at his abode at Metraith upon his son’s return.
During the mid-winter months something happened. The Queen began to show signs of sickness. It seemed like an unwanted, yet anticipated malady that hung over the air of the court and at last descended upon its chosen victim. Elenarian became stricken with fever in the second month of the year 1277 and was confined mostly to her bedchamber during that time. This was an unusual thing to occur among the descendants of the line of old Elendil even in its waning. Her daughter Arriana and Vorondil both attended on the Queen each day as they were permitted. Tarandil went sleepless for days as Elenarian’s condition worsened.
As the Queen grew ever more ill the King became desperate and sent Vorondil and myself into Tharbad to fetch the mayor’s own personal healer and bring him to Dol Calantir. But the healer’s efforts were unsuccessful. During the night the Queen lost consciousness, and on the morning of the eighth day of March Elenarian, Queen of Cardolan, died at last amid a pool of tears and sorrow among all those at court, for she was greatly loved by all.
Tarandil sat alone in the highest chamber of Dol Calantir after his wife had perished and did not speak to anyone. Not even Vorondil or Arriana were allowed to see him. But I at last persuaded the King to speak with me after a great deal of coaxing through his closed door. The anguish upon his face was easily apparent, though his eyes burned with a hidden fire. He pulled me close to him and told me he was convinced that, due to the wild rumors of Elenarian’s illness the previous autumn that she must have been poisoned somehow. He insisted that his wife and Queen had been murdered and his suspicion fell immediately upon the city of Tharbad.
In the days that followed Tarandil sacked nearly half of his servants and sent them away from Dol Calantir for good, for they had lost the trust of the King. Two of them, a cook and a guardsman, he banished from the realm completely. Thereafter he refused to eat a single meal unless his taster had sampled each dish before hand. He was a changed man after the death of Elenarian and he became careless in his conduct as King, at times going about the lands to hunt with only a companion or two. At this time his interest in the affairs to the north at Amon Sul began to wane and his eye became ever more drawn towards the city of Tharbad. He sent his spies out into the city to collect whatever information they could on the many guilds there and even upon the mayor, whose name was Gelharm.
In the late summer of the year of Elenarian’s death Calimendil was still at Fornost spending a great deal of time with Amariel and as yet unaware of the mysterious death of his mother and Queen back home. Yet by mid-summer Tarandil grew wrathful and sent a stern message to his son in Arthedain, telling him of his mother’s death and commanding him to return at once to Dol Calantir. Then Calimendil was abashed for his prolonged absence from Cardolan and made to return home immediately. But he did not wish to leave Amariel and begged her to return with him to Dol Calantir. Her heart yearned to go with him, for by now she had fallen in love with Calimendil. But she refused at that time, not wanting to incur the wrath of her father. Thus Calimendil departed Fornost in early hours of dawn with a heavy heart. Yet before he left Calimendil and Amariel plighted their secret troth, and they withheld their matrimonial plans from all the court of Celebrindor.
Now Elenarian was buried in a high tomb within those downs that are called Tyrn Gorthad that lie to the north and west of Dol Calantir. Calimendil sped on by horseback through rain and wind and went straightaway to those mounds. He had no difficulty in locating it. It had been a family burial site for many years and was the largest of the tombs among the many barrows. In great sorrow he remained next to the great steel door of his mother’s tomb for some time and he wept. The door was shut, barring any from entry. But ere long Calimendil collected himself and rode the remaining distance to the court of the King, where he was coolly received by his brother, his sister, and especially the King.
I had always been fond of Calimendil ever since he was a youngster, wistful dreamer though he was. When he announced to his father of his plans to marry Amariel I was glad indeed, assuming, as did everyone else, that he had already asked for her father’s permission before hand. But it was not so. In the beginning Calimendil neglected to tell anyone, including myself, that Amariel’s father had not even been notified of the betrothal. It had been a poorly kept secret, and probably one of Calimendil’s biggest mistakes at the time. When Tarandil asked his son how he purposed to pull the wedding off without the knowledge of Amariel’s father Calimendil retorted, “I said not that I wished to conceal it from her father. Rather it is my desire to proclaim myself openly to Rathmir and make him see things my way. At any rate it is for the common good of both realms that this union take place.”
After many more months passed Calimendil sent a messenger to Celebrindor asking once again for permission to visit Fornost Erain. Many weeks had come and gone without a reply from the king of Arthedain. Calimendil passed the time in a state of great uneasiness at Dol Calantir, all the while spending his time making preparations for his return journey to Fornost so that he could again court Amariel. He made a genuine effort to reconcile with the King and his siblings during his stay at court. Though Vorondil quickly forgave his brother for his long absence Arriana would not, and refused to see him. Tarandil was glad indeed to see Calimendil again but refused to nullify his son’s punishment of a royal grant to fund construction on Calimendil’s estate. This angered Calimendil greatly and he announced he would depart Dol Calantir as soon as possible.
One unfortunate incident must now be recounted here ere I go on with the tale, as it had an enormous impact on the future events of Cardolan, though no one, not even myself, could have foreseen it. On the night before Calimendil was due to leave Dol Calantir he was awakened in the night by the sound of a commotion outside his bedroom window. Rising up to see what it might be he opened the shutters to his window and looked out and lo! He beheld two shadowy figures emerging from a thicket of wood near one of the courtyards. By the moonlight Calimendil could see that it was Vorondil and Arriana. They seemed to hold each other’s hand tightly as they stealthily maneuvered through the King’s gardens until they disappeared out of sight around a stone corner.
Looking back and forth among the adjacent windows near his own it appeared that not a single light was on among the rear of the castle. He knew his father had always maintained a guard upon the ramparts at all times, but no one seemed to notice the two shadowy figures outside in the dark. No one knows what thoughts or suspicions ran through the mind of Calimendil at this perplexing sight, but one might easily guess. But he buried it deep in his mind and spoke of it to no one. Yet the ramifications of it would be felt all too deeply, as was later seen.
The next morning Calimendil made ready to depart and would wait no longer for Celebrindor’s permission to enter Arthedain again. Instead he had a fanciful letter drawn up that was laced with kind words of flattery that he would present to the King of Arthedain himself, asking for admittance and quarters where he might stay while he was abroad. In return Calimendil offered his humble services to the crown of Arthedain in whatever fashion Celebrindor saw fit. The letter was even signed by Tarandil.
Calimendil set forth with two companions and rode hard to the north where he arranged to stop at Metraith in order to fetch a bag of gifts he would present to Amariel. But when he arrived back at his estate he found a small company of horsemen waiting for him. They were from the north and bore the emblems of Arthedain on their attire. They were grim, yet mighty men who had been sent from Fornost bearing a message for Calimendil. An entry in Calimendil’s own diary recounts the scene:
“…The company of five men were dress’d in the standard garb of Arthedain and wore helms and chain shirts. They also possess’d long swords at their belts, which they kept one hand on at all times in order to intimidate me. They did not come in token of friendship, as I had at first surmised, but rather to serve me a warning from Amariel’s father, Rathmir. One of the men, who call’d himself Girwaedh, stepp’d forward and gazed at me with unkindness. He proceeded to inform me that word of my matrimonial aspirations with Amariel had reached the ears of her father, and he was not pleased, as Amariel had been pledged to marry Girwaedh of Annuminas…Furthermore, an official ban had been placed upon me that would prohibit me from entering Arthedain until the King will’d it otherwise. If I were caught violating the ban I would be apprehended and treated as a spy…At this I fear I lost my temper, for the love that Amariel and I bore one another was more sacred than anything in Middle-earth to me and I would take any measure necessary to preserve it. Thus I immediately call’d for my guards to seize Girwaedh and his men and imprison them until I would speak with the King of Arthedain on the matter. The men were not easily restrain’d and they drew their swords on me. But straightaway my archers had their arrows fix’d upon their hearts and they saw that they were outnumbered. After I had them put away I took the clothing of one of the men and array’d myself in their garb so as to gain admittance into Fornost without fear of molestation. Before I left Girwaedh cursed me and swore that he would kill me as soon as he had the chance…I admit that it was perhaps not the wisest course of action for me to take at the time, but I have no regrets about it really… O Amariel, my love! I am coming and we shall be together as Eru surely wills it!…”
Calimendil’s actions regarding Amariel and his treatment of Rathmir and Girwaedh would later go on to be Celebrindor’s main motive in refusing to send aid to King Calimendil when he most needed it in his war against Rhudaur. Both Kings would later rue their decisions. Then Calimendil mounted his horse and galloped away towards Fornost Erain to rescue Amariel from the clutches of her father while his guard was still down.
When King Tarandil learned that Calimendil had imprisoned Girwaedh and his men at Metraith and had rushed off alone to the north to steal away Amariel he was furious, for he did not desire any quarrels or friction with the king of Arthedain at the time. Therefore he immediately sent word up to his son’s estate that the royal horsemen from Arthedain were to be set free and compensated for their ill treatment at the hands of Calimendil. If that were not enough Tarandil ordered that Metraith be cleared of all personnel and left open and abandoned until his son’s return. This was one of a series of poor decisions taken by Tarandil after the death of his beloved wife, and I sought earnestly to persuade the king to rethink his decree. But the King had already entered the early stages of his decline by then and could not be swayed. He had been obsessed with the goings on at Tharbad since the death of Elenarian and now his youngest son was making troubles for him with Cardolan’s neighbor to the north. The external flames from without were fanning the internal fires of his conscious, and soon they would boil over to his own detriment.
A word or two regarding the said Girwaedh of Annuminas ere I go on with my tale; here was a man of Arthedain who possessed the ancient blood of the Númenoreans. Yet his behavior often resembled that of orcs rather than of men. I had the misfortune of making his acquaintance myself several years ago when I made a visit to Annuminas. There is no denying his skill as both a horseman and a ranger of the wild, but he was also a man whom hungered for power and would stop at nothing to rise high in the favor of the nobles in his home city. Though being relatively popular with the folk there, he was known to have courted a number of women in mischievous ways before he set his sights on Amariel, daughter of Rathmir, who dwelt with the King of Arthedain at Fornost. It is true that in the beginning Amariel had received Girwaedh as a welcome suitor and were seen together at times. But ere long she learned his true nature and refused him. He did not take it well and thus made a secret arrangement with her father to have Amariel’s hand in marriage.
Now by the time that Girwaedh and his men were allowed to depart Metraith and go whither they would Calimendil was far away. He had ridden hard to the north and entered the fortress of Fornost Erain disguised as one of the guards. He hid himself among the crowds and in the corners of narrow streets until dark, whereupon he made his way to Amariel’s chamber. She awoke with a start, but Calimendil threw off his disguise and she threw herself in his arms amid tears of joy. Thus after a long period of separation Calimendil and Amariel were reunited and they plighted their secret troth.
They wasted little time and immediately made to exit the city at first light. Calimendil again wore his disguise while Amariel arrayed herself as a poor peasant woman and cut the length off of her hair. Thereby they were not hindered as they left the gates of Fornost, where folk made their way in and out each and every day back then. Together they fled by horseback down the steep hills and bluffs that led away southwards from the North Downs until Fornost was far behind them.
But even as Calimendil had made his way into Fornost Girwaedh was released from his prison at Metraith by order of King Tarandil. The guards of the King ordered the entire estate cleared of its staff and they were commanded to remove to Dol Calantir. Metraith itself was ordered to be left standing alone and open as punishment to Calimendil for disobeying the King. In remaining true to his contemptible nature Girwaedh seized the opportunity to steal many items from the estate ere he departed. Afterwards he and his men hastily made their way back to Fornost in hope of discovering Calimendil and Amariel together, but they were too late. Calimendil and Amariel had gone and returned hence to Cardolan…