Erendis stood at the ocean's edge, the balmy water of late
summer lapping at her bare toes. Though it was a new moon, the stars overhead were so bright that
she could see far off to the horizon. Her long silvery hair, the colour reflective of the sands
behind her in the bay of Rómenna, blew about her head in the breezy night. The sound of waves
crashing near the shore no longer caused her teeth to grate, nor made her eyes shut in distaste as
it had through her life. Indeed, the repetitive ocean song now seemed welcoming,
You shall have your revenge, at the last.
She lifted a blue glass
phial to her lips and drank deeply of its contents, ensuring that she had ingested it all. After
replacing its carved stopper, she leaned forward and gently flung it into the water, a ghost of a
smile flitting across her face as the bottle began its inexorable journey away from
She waited for a few moments until she was sure that the draught was beginning to take
effect, then waded into the water. Soon she found herself floating on her back, the current easing
her from the shore.
Looking up at the stars Erendis formed a last, bitter, dim
Now shall I be true to Aldarion's ill-naming. Uinen, take your new Lady of the
Sea, as I am welcome nowhere else.
Despair had not always been her closest
A man walked down a short corridor, its stony surface mostly void of
decoration. Small torches blazed brightly in the hallway, having been lit earlier as the sun was
setting. He stood for a moment before the sturdy oak doors, five-pointed stars carved into both
sides, representing the isle over which the man inside the room was ruler. Then, he
'Yes, Caltan?' The fifth King of Númenor was surprised when his devoted servant
interrupted him at his solitary meal. His wife, Almarian, knew that he had planned to spend a few
days of respite at his tower in Forostar, but she did not often visit him there, preferring to
remain at the royal city of Armenelos.
The servant respectfully bowed his head. 'I
apologize for the intrusion, my Lord, but you have a visitor.'
Tar-Meneldur nodded his head
to indicate for the servant to continue.
'It is the wife of your son, Lady
'Erendis!' the King exclaimed, dabbing at his beard with a cloth. 'Show her in,
by all means!'
Meneldur was taken aback, and hoped that her unexpected journey did not
portend ill news. He stood back from the table and went to meet his guest. He was almost at the
door when Erendis entered. Though sixty-six years had passed since she had first come to his
court, Meneldur continued to be held spellbound by her beauty, and he was grateful that his
obstinate son had finally wed her after what he considered to be an improper amount of
'Erendis.' He enfolded the raven-haired woman in his arms as she clasped her arms
'Atar aranya,' she replied with affection, then stood back from him.
'How farest thou, father?'
'Well indeed, and pleased to have your company. But Erendis,
what errand brings you hither?' He embraced her hands in his as he looked at her worriedly. 'Does
Aldarion or the Queen send you with unfavorable tidings?'
Smiling, she shook her head.
'No, Tar-Meneldur. Tis nothing that should make you anxious.' A mischievous gleam came into her
grey eyes. 'Well, that statement may not be wholly true.'
Meneldur motioned for her to join
him at his board. 'I will ask Caltan to bring us some more food and wine, but then I must insist
that you tell me what has brought you to this isolated retreat.'
Once the servant had been
summoned and then again dispatched, the King sat down across from his daughter-in-law and looked
anxiously at her.
'My dear atar!' she laughed. 'Please forgive my decided lack of
decorum. I have come here of free will and with warm greetings from the King's Heir. I do bring
news, it is true.' She stopped for a moment to look down at her hands which were intertwined on
She raised her gaze to Meneldur's once more, then said quietly, 'By the grace of
the Valar, Aldarion shall have an heir this spring.'
Meneldur beamed. 'Ah! This is joyful
news indeed!' Then his face grew troubled. 'But surely you did not need to bring such word
yourself, now that you are expecting? What if you had been injured?'
upturned. 'I do not wish to insult the King, but surely he realises that he is speaking to no
child, and the risk involved in travel is miniscule.' She held a hand over her abdomen. 'I wished
to tell you in person, as well as avail myself of your extraordinary view of the heavens. I have
found that the nights come and yet I do not sleep well, and so I hoped perhaps to spend a few days
with you and learn some of your vast knowledge of the star patterns. If I must be awake during
these night hours, most assuredly I could be learning from the wise Star-watcher!' A hardness came
into her voice as she continued, 'Perhaps the granddaughter or grandson of the King will set her
or his eyes to the inky skies above and the wooded plains of this fair isle, rather than being
called away by the Sea.'
Meneldur nodded in assent, though his smile had faded. 'My son has
been always thus called, even to the point of heeding Her wishes over that of his father.' He
sighed, then reached out for Erendis' hand. As she placed it in his, he said more warmly, 'But now
surely he shall remain for long years in Númenor and in your home in Armenelos, assisting in the
raising of his heir. And in his continued cultivation of woods.'
At this, Erendis blanched,
but said nothing.
'Do you not accompany Aldarion to his ever-growing forests? From our
discussions over the years I know how fond you are of wooded glades and the peace that they bring
Erendis shook her head, then turned quickly as Caltan entered, carrying a small
platter of smoked fish, herb-roasted vegetables, and a flagon of sweet white wine that was
commonly served in the royal home.
'Ah! Thank you, Caltan!' the King's baritone voice
boomed as the servant placed the items on the table. As Caltan bowed to leave, Meneldur reached
out and put his hand on his servant's arm. 'The Lady Erendis brings with her most happy tidings,'
he said, then raised his cup. 'Eru be praised - she is with child!'
Caltan smiled as he
looked at her, placing his hand to his chest above his heart. 'By the Valar, long may the line of
Elros, son of Eärendil, continue on these blessed lands.'
Erendis nodded in return. 'To my
eyes, this is a most beautiful land. The rolling hills, bays teeming with fish, the joyful
bleating of lambs - ' She stopped for a moment, then continued on defiantly, 'these should prove
more than satisfactory and restrain even the most wilful of hearts from constant sojourning from
our silver-sanded shores.'
An almost imperceptible glance flickered from servant to King,
then Caltan said, 'I am most happy for the King's Heir and his wife. And now, if I am no longer
Meneldur nodded, and Caltan left the room. Erendis busied herself with a glass of
wine, then took a few delicate bites of fish. Putting down her utensil, she said heavily, 'Father,
I have not joined your son at his tree-harvesting for some years. I find what he does there
distasteful. Seeing him grow trees only to cut them down for his ships leaves me in a wretched
state. So I go there no more.'
In the silence that followed, Meneldur chose not to look at
her, but instead at the fire blazing across the room in its hearth. He knew well of the fiery
personalities that both his son and daughter-in-law possessed, and while he intended to command
respect from the two, he knew also that the bounds of a marriage were held alone by the husband
d wife. Though he ached at his daughter-in-law's obvious pain at his son's actions, he was
resolved not to be party to the taking of sides in such matters.
And so, even-handed and
wise ruler that he was, he changed the subject.
'Your white sapling, the gift of the Eldar
- that flourishes in our garden, does it not?'
Erendis nodded in assent, her bright grey
eyes shining with hope and happiness. 'Yes, my Lord, however even after two years it looks to
remain a sapling forever. Though to those who are immortal, its growth must seem quick indeed.'
She laughed at this, though Meneldur knew his daughter-in-law well, and could hear the
undercurrent of sadness in it. For all of her beauty, Erendis was of the line of Bëor, and not
Elros, and thus her lifespan would never reach as long as that of Tar-Meneldur and his
'The birds, also, atar, they sing contentedly the days long and are
pleasing to all who hear them.'
Meneldur smiled, grateful that despite the many ill-advised
sea journeys and years of waiting, his son had finally married, and his wedding had been blessed
by the Eldar themselves. Full of joy with the news that within the year he would have a
grandchild, he told Erendis, 'Come! Let me show you to the top of this tower, and there you shall
behold the work of Varda in her most splendid glory.'
As Erendis stood, he took her by the
arm, saying, 'Your visit was opportune indeed. I have made many calculations of the stars in their
courses since my youth, and I believe that tonight will be an evening of particular beauty. Tis
why I made this visit myself, though my dear Queen begrudges every night that I am away from her
The pair left the room, leaving one of the doors ajar, then went to another thick
wooden door, set back into a rounded archway. Tar-Meneldur released Erendis to reach under his
cloak for a small gold chain to which a rather ornate key was attached. He unlocked the door, then
pulled it open, its hinges silent.
Erendis had only been to the King's star watching tower
on a few occasions, but it had always felt welcoming and comfortable her. As Erendis followed
Meneldur, climbing the dozens of stairs that spiralled to the top of the tower, she reflected that
despite its very rustic qualities (for a lodging-place of the King of Númenor, it was very
undecorated indeed!), it was an appealing place. The daylight views of the island were splendid,
but it was at night when the ingenuity of the builder was most apparent. From the top of the
tower, on an unclouded night, the firmament of stars blazed overhead, the air at the northernmost
spur of the isle being the clearest of all.
Erendis had begun to regret her decision to
accompany the King up so many steps, not only because it was taking place at the end of a long day
of riding, but also since she was into her fourth month of pregnancy, but then she saw with relief
the stone door that opened out onto the tower landing. Meneldur grunted, jerking the door open
which appeared to wish to remain stubbornly closed.
'I have not been here in many months!'
he exclaimed, then extended his arm to Erendis. She grasped it, and after five more steps, she
found herself once again on the smooth stony floor of the high tower of Tar-Meneldur Elentirmo.
She closed her eyes for a moment, greedily breathing in the heady air of the northlands. As her
heartbeat slowed to its less strained rhythm, she opened her eyes, and gasped.
stars seemed close enough to touch, hanging low in the sky. She tipped back her head, drinking in
the impossibly bright swaths of lights twinkling in the placid ocean of night, forcing herself to
blink to ensure that she was in no dream.
'Aranya,' she murmured, 'you are a
strong-willed man indeed if you are able to tear yourself away from such a vision as
Meneldur chuckled from a near distance, then said, 'Come this way,
Erendis walked carefully along the edge, holding onto a waist-high edging which
ran the perimeter of the tower. Meneldur was standing with his back to a small torch, its
flickering light casting dim shadows on the walls.
'Look that way, to the east,' he
suggested, raising his arm in that direction.
Erendis scanned the heavens, then said, 'The
Valacirca! It is so bright - and there is Helluin, as well!' She shook her head in wonder. 'Would
that when I lie awake at night, I could see such visions as clearly from my window.'
gazed at the Sickle of the Valar for so long that she began to feel a bit drowsy in spite of the
vividness of the sparkling patterns suspended in the black sky. All of a sudden, a quick movement
caught the corner of her eye, and she turned her head to look past Meneldur, who was nodding his
Thinking perhaps that she had imagined it, Erendis began to look again at the
semi-circle of stars when she saw it again: a searing flash of light, streaking down as though to
join them on the earth.
'Father!' she cried in confusion, 'What are they?'
draped his arm around her shoulder. 'They are éli lántala - falling stars.' Embracing her,
he spoke softly, 'My calculations have proven correct! Keep your weary eyes open for just a few
moments longer, and you shall see quite a display of them, blazing their quick journeys from Eru's
The pair stood silently for a while, Erendis placing her hands on her belly as she
snuggled closer to her father-in-law, grateful for his warmth in the chill air. Above them, stars
darted across the skies, a veritable shower of cascading celestial lights.
The King turned
his gaze from the showy spectacle to look down at Erendis, noting his son's betrothal gift bound
around her head.
'You are aptly named, Tar-Elestirnë,' he said quietly.
smiled softly to herself, even as she held her eyes to the stars' dance in the heavens.
do not think on it often, though I suppose that is true. Now that I bear a new soul of the line of
Númenor, I must think of her - or him - and decide how to hand down both things and
She was suddenly overcome by anxiety for the future, and clenched her eyes shut,
so tightly that tiny, unreal phantoms of light danced before her, then she snapped her lids open
again. Only the benevolent dark sky greeted her as she continued to gaze upward, an occasional
shooting star providing a unique backdrop to the more common and yet still humbling vision of the
'Are you ready to depart, my daughter?'
Tar-Meneldur's resonant voice
echoed through her, and with a start she realised that she had accidentally begun to fall
Vigorously shaking her head, she replied, 'I would stay here as long as I could. I
have never seen such glories, and I am loath to depart.' After shivering in the cold for a few
moments despite huddling under Meneldur's cloak, she continued, 'Yet, perhaps your suggestion has
The wise King nodded his head in understanding, and taking Erendis by the
hand, they leisurely made their way back to the door that would take them back to the base of the
tower. Erendis went first, holding tightly to the stair rail, but the Star-watcher turned his head
and tarried at the top step for a few lingering moments before closing the door, his eyes
sparkling as he saw yet another brazen light streaking across the sky.
The seventh ruler of Númenor bore an irate expression even as she accepted the
small package and parchment scroll. It was late, and she had not wished to be bothered. She
scowled at the messenger, and he bid a rapid retreat from her chamber.
What is this,
that is could not wait until the morn? she mused, then looked idly at the seal.
sat up straight.
It was from her mother. Brows furrowed angrily, she almost tore the scroll
apart, wondering what under Eru she could have to say to her after so many years.
scanning the words, she found that
the hair on her arms stood up straight, then despite herself,
tears unbidden came to her eyes.
High-language, of course! Ancalimë thought
bitterly, quickly restraining her emotions as she read the words again, more deliberately this
time, the Old Elvish having been taught to her as a child.
To Ancalimë, my dear daughter
I am, at last, had by the Sea.
Keep this diamond as your legacy
and as a
reminder of the mother who loved you above all
With pale, trembling fingers, Ancalimë unbound
the expertly wrapped parcel. Delicately she pulled out a thin, silver chain, a bright diamond
fillet bound to it. Almost idly, she pulled the chain between her fingers, causing the star-shape
to chase from one end of the necklace to the other.
Then she hurled it across the
All italicised words are in Quenya
atar aranya- Father
Tar-Meneldur Elentirmo- Star-Watcher
Tar-Elesterinë- Lady of the Star-brow
"Celestial Quartet" Chapter 2
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