When Calimendil had reached his full manhood he took his leave of the court and removed to his own estate in the north of the realm among the rolling hills and downs. He became prince and lord of his manor, which was known as Metraith. It was there he would set up his own network of spies and cavalrymen to roam the northern countryside from the old road in the west, that ran north and south through the realm, to the Metheithel in the east. In particular he was required by the king to supply fresh steeds to the Cardolani horsemen upon the fortress of Amon Sul. In this way Calimendil learned much about horse breeding and became a skilled rider in his day. During the years of relative peace many a young nobleman would ride to Metraith to compete in contests of skill upon horseback with Calimendil. Most of the time they would lose.
Now it happened that it the year 1191 Calimendil was summoned by his father to appear at Dol Calantir. Yet he tarried on the way thither, halting to visit and dine with local peasants that dwelt along the Nen-I-Sul, which was that river that ran north to south through the mid-section of Cardolan. The river scarcely exists now, for it was dammed up by the orcs that roamed the north at will after the war, for the warriors of Arthedain seldom venture south of Amon Sul now that our two realms are estranged. Yet once it was Cardolan’s main waterway, which ran its course through the court of Dol Calantir ere it joined the Gwathlo. In its day it was a beautiful bubbling stream that was lined on either side by willow trees that were planted by Elendils people long before. Many farmers and sheperds relied on it for water for their herds and flocks. When the orcs fouled its waters and dammed it up the livestock of the people soon perished and the peasantry fled. Many of the stones that were used for the dam were taken from Calimendils own estate, Metraith, which, alas, the orcs of the mountains destroyed during their warpath.
When Calimendil arrived at Dol Calantir he found his reception from the King a cold one. To his surprise, his brother Vorondil, whom he had not seen for some time, had also received the summons. When at last the two brothers stood before the King and Queen they were commanded that they should go both together to the court of Fornost Erain. Now that fortress was where the king of Arthedain made his abode and stronghold. It lay not less than 200 leagues and 20 to the north as the crow flies from Dol Calantir. Celebrindor, King of Arthedain, had sent them an invitation to come and visit their neighbor to the north as a gesture of goodwill and friendship between Arthedain and Cardolan.
Here I must describe in brief the political circumstances of Arnor during that period. Arnor consisted of Arthedain to the north, Rhudaur to the east, and Cardolan to the south. Rhudaur had long since become an unreliable ally. Both Arthedain and Cardolan looked upon that country with suspicion, for Ermegil, King of Rhudaur, sought to break up the alliance over the disputed ownership of Amon Sul, which all three realms coveted. The tower of Amon Sul stood upon the highest hilltop in the land and lay upon the boundary of the three sister-realms. Ermegil was a jealous, impatient, ass of a man who resented the uniform propriety that was expected of him by his irksome neighbors. Ever he would complain to Arthedain and Cardolan that Rhudaur was underrepresented at Amon Sul, and he suspected that if his two neighbors continued to prosper together they would unite and plot to overthrow him. Not long after he began to neglect his ancient duty as king to attend the summits between the three realms, and instead began to forge new and secret friendships with men from strange origins. He was the first ruler to do this. I will mention him again later, yet for now I will go back to my tale.
At that time both Arthedain and Cardolan enjoyed a somewhat warm, though often unstable, alliance. Tarandil had continued to forge close ties with Celebrindor, but their relationship fell under strain over the disputed ownership of the tower of Amon Sul, and especially the legendary seeing-stones that were housed therein. They were called Palantiri in the elven tongue. I, of course, knew of their existence, for I was one of the king’s personal advisors and thus deep in Tarandils confidence. Tarandil rightly claimed that since Arthedain already possessed one Palantir of their own in the city of Annuminas they had no right to claim the seeing-stone at Amon Sul. Rhudaur was far too unstable a country to be trusted with its guardianship. Therefore Cardolan ought to have parental rights to it. But the Palantir housed at Amon Sul was the largest of all the stones and possessed the greater power, and Arthedain would not, under any condition, consent to relinquish its haughty claim to it. Nor would they suffer it to be removed from Amon Sul to Dol Calantir, which many of the nobles of Arthedain suspected Tarandil would do if Cardolan were to possess the stone. They reasoned that Dol Calantir sat within close proximity to the city of Tharbad, and thus bringing it dangerously near to the mischievous, unruly lords that dwelt there. They insisted that the stone remain within the tower where, of old, Elendil had placed it. It was the beginning of the years of quarrels and failed negotiations between the sister-realms of old Arnor; a hopeless paradox that would never be solved, and it tore apart the alliance.
When Calimendil and Vorondil learned of their new errand they were glad indeed, for both desired to see the fortress of Fornost Erain. It was the mightiest of all the castles in the west of Middle-earth and stood as a source of pride, strength, culture and trade among all the Dunedain in the north. The fact that neither of the two brothers had been aware that they would be travelling together was, according to Calimendil, a cunning contrivance of their mother, Elenarian. It was crucial for the future of Cardolan that both the king’s heirs maintain a positive relationship with one another after their parents were laid to rest in the tombs of Tyrn Gorthad.
Therefore, Tarandil proclaimed to his two sons that they would be away from the realm for one year, adding, “‘I have sent word to Celebrindor that you shall be his guests, for he has invited you to his court as a token of friendship; or so he claims. Loath was I to comply with his request by sending both my sons to him at once, but I will not allow my two greatest princes to become estranged, for you are my heirs and are bound to one another by blood. It is for the good of your brotherhood and the future of Cardolan’s survival amid the troubled times ahead, or so I deem them to be.'” It was only later that Calimendil discovered that, in truth, only Vorondil had been offered the invitation from Celebrindor, but Elenarian insisted that Calimendil be allowed to go as well.
The two brothers arrived at Fornost without incident, despite the long road they took, for in those days the lands were safe and free of brigands and villains. Here they remained for some time, leaving only to visit Annuminas, three day’s ride to the west. That city was renowned in its day; not for its size or strength, but rather for its beauty, its architecture, and it ancestry. It also held great feasts and festivals in autumn that was renowned throughout the land; of these I can attest for myself, for I attended many of them in my earlier years. These festivities drew many travellers from abroad to the city, including dwarves from the mountains and even some elves. It was here that Calimendil’s life would forever be changed.
On the second morning after arriving to Annuminas Calimendil took his leave of Vorondil to make a solo sojourn into the Emyn Uial, the Hills of Twilight. Those hills lie west and a little north of the great Lake of Nenuial nigh the city and were beloved not only by the men of the region, but also by the Eldar, who could be seen roaming the woods under the stars at night by a lucky passer-by. One evening just after dusk, as Calimendil lay gazing into the heavens in a thicket of tall grass upon a hilltop, he was befriended by the Noldor elves. Though they wondered much why a man from Minhiriath would travel alone in a far away country, they nonetheless welcomed him, for Calimendil was an elf-friend. He had always loved the elves, though he had seen them only once before as a young man. Calimendil was the last of the old kings to exhibit a genuine affection for the Eldar. My only wish was that he would have later yielded way to the wishes of his wife, in that he should seek the council of the Eldar ere he undertake his chosen war against Rhudaur.
When Calimendil told the Noldor of his origin and that he was the son of the King of Cardolan the elves smiled, as they already seemed to be aware of his identity. For their part, they took him into their party, saying, “‘Come Calimendil, son of Tarandil! We will show you the wonders of the Emyn Uial. Cast away the burdens and troubles of your mind and rejoice as you gaze upon the wonders of Ea, though this is only a small corner of it to us.'” Calimendil was granted the special privilege of remaining in their company for three days, as he later told me. In truth it is unlikely that he was with the elves for that long, for mortal men are apt to loose all sense of time when in the presence of the high elves from the Old World. Nevertheless, the Noldor sang for him and gave him two gifts ere they departed – a harp of silver and a magnificent long sword crafted by the elven smiths long ago in ancient Eregion. The latter item is now lost, deemed to have been taken by the depraved brigands of Rhudaur after the war. Fortunately, the harp is now in the possession of Calimendil’s widow, Amariel, where it shall remain.
After the Noldor had left him Calimendil fell into a peaceful sleep within the woods of the hills. When he awoke he felt as if he had dreamt the entire episode with the elves, but when he saw the two gifts that had been given him he smiled to himself, realising the actuality of it all. He then collected his gifts and hastened back to Annuminas to his story to his brother.
When Vorondil heard the tale of Calimendil and the elves he nearly laughed. But when he saw the harp and the sword that had been given to his brother Vorondil knew that Calimendil had indeed met the elven folk and, for the first time, Vorondil was envious of his younger brother. Not only because Calimendil had accompanied the Noldor in Emyn Uial, but also due to the elven-sword, for it was superior to any blade that Vorondil or any other Cardolani prince possessed. It would be the last time that either one of them would see or meet any of the Eldar while their lives lasted.
Soon afterwards the two brothers departed Annuminas and returned to Fornost Erain, where Celebrindor received them once again. Here they remained for the rest of the duration of their stay. Vorondil performed his requisite duties as his father’s heir, making acquaintances and forging friendships with the lords assembled there, for one day he would be the king of Cardolan and would thus have to forge alliances with them. He promised Celebrindor that Tarandil had no greater wish than to maintain close ties between their to realms, and unite together, if necessary, to deal with the unruly Ermegil in Rhudaur.
Calimendil spent much of his time there reading and studying maps, along with sharpening his skills with the sword, the bow, and the lance. But most significantly he made the acquaintance of Amariel, a young noblewoman who resided at Fornost. Being the cousin of King Celebrindor, Amariel enjoyed wide favour with the king and the noblemen. Though there were indeed many fine and exemplary young maidens at the court of Celebrindor, few of them matched the delicate beauty of Amariel. Some rumoured that she possessed elf-blood in her veins, but it was not so. She was a wise yet gentle presence wheresoever she went. As she matured she developed all the charms of young womanhood in beauty of figure and form, sprightliness of mind, and of speech and etiquette. She sang sweetly, spoke Sindarin fluently, and wrote poetry that many poets affected to praise. She would have been a prize for many of the gentlemen that courted her, but in the end she found in none of them the ideal mate which her heart yearned for. Calimendil was quickly smitten with Amariel and, though she sought to hide it, she with him.
Now the father of Amariel was Rathmir, a nobleman and kinsman to Celebrindor. Once he had been an expert tracker and warrior, many times doing battle with the Hillmen of Rhudaur in the east. Yet at the time of Calimendils visit to Fornost he had become older and unfit to be a ranger in the wild. Rathmir was as loyal a patriot to the crown of Arthedain as any among him and he greatly desired for his daughter to wed a man of Arthedainindili lineage. Little did it please him to learn of Calimendil and Amariels courtship, for Rathmir held lowly opinions of Cardolan and mistrusted them. He therefore asked the king to intervene by declaring a premature end to Vorondil and Calimendil’s stay at Fornost. He sought to convince Celebrindor that they were performing spy-work for Tarandil. But the king refused him at that time…