In the beginning was The One, Eru Ilúvatar, and he created the Holy Ones, the Ainur. And the Ainur were of two kinds: the great Valar and the lesser Maiar. And the Ainur took the mighty theme of Eru's thought and they raised their voices together and they sang the world into being. But Melkor, the mightiest of the Valar, thought to increase his own power and glory and introduced his own discords into the Music.
And then Eru made his Children: the Firstborn, or Eldar; and the Followers, or Atani. The Eldar call themselves the Quendi, or Speakers, but the other races call them Elves. They age until they choose to stop and then they live forever unless they are slain, when they Cross through The Curtain and return to whence they came. At any time, they can choose to sail away into the West and follow the Straight Path that leaves the Circles of the World. Then they will be reunited with all their kindred that have already Crossed. In contrast, the Atani, or Men, always grow older until they die, then they go where none but Eru knows. This the Elves are forever denied, and for this reason Death is called the Gift of Man.
Then Fëanor the Elvensmith created the Silmarilli, The Great Jewels of Light. And Melkor coveted them and seized them for himself. Then was Melkor known as Morgoth, the Enemy. And that race of the Elves called the Noldor sailed east to the land of Middle-earth to contend with him. One house of the Men of Middle-earth, the Edain, aided the Noldor in their war against Morgoth. Still they suffered only defeats until one Man, Eärendil the Mariner, sailed away to the west and Crossed through the Curtain, the only mortal Man ever to do so, and he went to Valinor and sought the assistance of the Valar. In the end they consented and the world was changed. Morgoth was driven from the circles of the world and his fastness of Thangorodrim destroyed, but many of the northern lands of the Noldor were sunk beneath the sea. Valinor was removed from the reach of mortals and Eärendil himself was set in the sky as the Evening Star. Thus ended the First Age of the world.
After the war, some of the Noldorin Exiles sailed away from Middle-earth to return to their homes in Eldamar, near to the shores of Valinor. But many remained in Middle-earth, setting up new realms called Lindon and Eregion and Lothlórien. The Valar rewarded the Edain by granting them the great island of Elenna, between Middle-earth and Eldamar, but they placed upon them the Ban of the Valar, forbidding the ships of Men to travel west toward Eldamar and Valinor. The Men established the kingdom of Númenor there that grew mighty on its sea-borne trade. They became known as the Dúnedain, or Men of the West. Those Men who had remained in Middle-earth were known as the Uialedain, or Men of the Twilight, and they formed petty tribes, often at war with one another.
As the power and wealth of Númenor increased, its kings grew proud and came to resent the Ban of the Valar. The people of Númenor became divided, many sharing their king's envy of the immortality of the Elves and the Valar. But always a minority remained faithful to the Valar and maintained friendly relations with the Elves. The kings ceased to use the Elvish tongues and reverted to the ancient tongue of their ancestors, the Edain of Middle-earth. In the thirtieth century, King Ar-Adûnakhor persecuted the Faithful and they fled into the westernmost province of Andúnië where their party was strongest. Soon after this the use of the Elvish tongues was forbidden by royal decree.
In 3175 Tar-Palantír came to the throne and tried to end the division. He pardoned the Faithful, but feelings by this time were too high against them, and there was rebellion in the land. In 3255, Palantír died and the rebel leader, Palantír's nephew, seized the scepter and took the name Ar-Pharazôn. Palantír's heirs fled to Andúnië.
At this time a new evil arose in Middle-earth in the form of Sauron. He was a Maia, one of the lesser Ainur, and he had been Morgoth's chief lieutenant and student. In the mountain-ringed southeast portions of Middle-earth he had secretly built for himself the realm of Mordor, the Black Land, peopled by orcs, an evil race created by his master. He deceived Celebrimbor of Eregion into teaching him how he had made the Great Rings of Power, and he forged for himself the One Ring to absorb the powers of all the Great Rings. With this new weapon he rose against the Elves and the Uialedain, and he drove them back before the fury of his armies. The Elves were hard-pressed until Ar-Pharazôn in 3262 sent his mighty fleet to Middle-earth to intervene. The overwhelming might of the Númenorean fleet quickly prevailed, and Sauron was taken back to Númenor in chains. But over the years he gradually rose from captive to guest of the court to advisor, and finally to first minister. He fueled the pride and arrogance of the king and urged him to ever greater persecution of the Faithful; but Amandil, Lord of Andúnië, and his son Elendil steadfastly maintained their opposition to Pharazôn's policies. This was the troubled world into which Isildur was born.
Of Isildur's early life we know very little. He was born in 3289 Second Age in Dol Elros, the chief city of Andúnië. His father was Elendil, the Prince of Andúnië and the spiritual and political leader of the Party of the Faithful. In 3285, Elendil married Aldamirë, a woman of southern Númenor, and she gave him two sons, Isildur in 3289 and Anárion in 3296. Amandil was elderly by this time and the people rallied around the handsome and charismatic young prince Elendil, just as they would gather to his eldest son many years later. In 3310, the aging king Pharazôn, urged by Sauron, resolved to assail Valinor to acquire the immortality of the Valar for himself. He began building ships and engines of war to Sauron's designs. The Faithful tried to dissuade the lords and people of Númenor from their blasphemous course, but Pharazôn punished all dissent with death. A religious and patriotic fervor developed against the Faithful and Andúnië was isolated from the rest of the kingdom, an embattled fiefdom.
In 3319, the Great Armament sailed for Valinor. Elendil believed that all of Númenor would be destroyed when the Ban was broken, and he began preparing for a hasty evacuation. His father Amandil attempted to repeat Eärendil's feat by enlisting the aid of the Valar, but his expedition was never seen again. Pharazôn landed in Valinor and the Valar enforced their Ban by withdrawing their gift of the island of Elenna. The island crumbled and sank forever beneath the waves. Of the Great Armament, its hundreds of ships and thousands of men, no trace was ever found.
Elendil and his sons and hundreds of their followers escaped the destruction in a fleet of nine ships, taking with them the treasured relics of their ancient line: the Scepter of the Lords of Andúnië; the Ring of Barahir; a seedling of Nimloth, the White Tree; the nine Palantíri or seeing stones; and the great sword Narsil -- all gifts of the Eldar to the Lords of Andúnië.
Isildur was a young man of thirty as he stood in the prow of his ship and watched the domes and towers of his homeland torn asunder and cast beneath the waves. The forlorn little fleet was borne away by a terrible storm and became separated. Elendil at last reached Mithlond, the Grey Havens of the Elves of Lindon, and was taken in by his friend Gil-galad, King of the Noldor. Later he was granted land east of Lindon and he and his people removed there. They founded a realm with its capital at Annúminas beside lake Nenuial, and named the land Arnor, the Royal Land.
Isildur and Anárion landed near to the one haven of the Faithful in Middle-earth, the port city of Pelargir near the mouth of the Great River Anduin. They began the ordering of a great realm along the Anduin. They built their capital Osgiliath, Citadel of the Stars, where the mountains drew close to the river on either side. The fair lands along the River became dotted with farms and vineyards and orchards and the rocky land soon began to yield its richness. They named their new land Gondor, the Land of Stone, and divided it into two provinces separated by the River; Ithilien on the east under Isildur, and Anórien on the west ruled by Anárion. Isildur built a fortress city high in a pass of the Ephel Dúath and named it Minas Ithil, the Tower of the Rising Moon. On the slopes of Mindolluin, the easternmost peak of the Ered Nimrais, Anárion built Minas Anor, the Tower of the Setting Sun. For many years Arnor and Gondor, the Realms in Exile, prospered and grew in power and wealth, and the Great North Road was busy with many travelers and wagons bearing produce and goods between the sister kingdoms. In 3409 Isildur married Vorondomë, daughter of the Captain of the Ships of Ithilien. She gave him four sons between 3412 and 3429: Elendur, Aratan, Ciryon, and Valandil.
The future looked very bright for the young lord Isildur: a fair land to rule; a beautiful and loving queen; a growing family; and the prospect of one day becoming King of the Realms in Exile and ruling the greatest kingdom in Middle-earth. Then in the autumn of 3429, disaster struck. A huge force of barbarians, trolls, orcs, and many other fell creatures swept over the mountains out of Mordor. They were led by Sauron, in a new and even more powerful form, dead and yet not dead. All had thought him killed in the fall of Númenor, but he had escaped with his hatred for the Dúnedain unabated. His savage hordes swept across Ithilien and besieged Minas Ithil. After a brief but bitter struggle, the gates were breached and the enemy spread through the city, destroying all in their path. The defenders formed a wedge around their families and drove desperately through their attackers, eventually reaching Osgiliath.
The wave of the Black Host pursued them and swarmed around the walls of Osgiliath. The city withstood the siege, though the eastern portion was much damaged. That night, with Minas Ithil lost and ringing to the harsh cries and foul revelry of the orcs, Isildur stood helplessly on the walls of Osgiliath and watched the crofts and villages of his kingdom going up in flames. His wife Vorondomë was so shaken by the loss and horrors of that night she became a frightened, broken woman, never again in her life to laugh. Isildur looked out on his suffering realm and vowed to avenge the evils done that day.
Leaving his brother to hold the River and defend what remained of their kingdom, Isildur and his family fled down Anduin to the sea and eventually to his father at Annúminas. There they secured the help of their old ally, Gil-galad of Lindon. Uniting the armies of Arnor, Gondor, and Lindon, and drawing many volunteers from other neighboring realms, they formed the Army of the Alliance and marched against Sauron's hordes. Slowly they pressed their foes south and east, driving them back to the very doors of Sauron's own land of Mordor. There, in the wide fenny plains known as Dagorlad, was fought perhaps the greatest battle of ancient times. Tens of thousands fell on both sides, but eventually the allies prevailed and the Morannon, the Black Gate of Mordor was broken and taken. Sauron and his forces withdrew to the south and took refuge in his impregnable fortress of Barad-dûr. The Úlairi, the Nine Kings of Men turned into Ring-wraiths by the Great Rings they wear, ruled in Minas Ithil and launched frequent raids into Anórien. The allies besieged the Dark Tower but could neither force the gates nor draw Sauron out. Unable to prevail and unwilling to depart, the vast Army of the Alliance remained camped about the Tower for seven long years. Many attempts had been made to take the Tower, but all had failed. Finally, the Lords of the Alliance formed a bold new plan; one last desperate attempt that would end the stalemate and ensure either victory or total defeat.
[Acknowledgements]; [Preface]; [Introduction]; [Chronology];
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[Glossary]; Colophon (Still unavailable.)
This story was inspired by Tolkien's work.
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