Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Building of the Tower of Orthanc

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There was but one choice for the Master Builder of Angrenost, and that was Curugond of Lamedon. He had overseen the building of Minas Anor nearly thirty years earlier, and though old, was the most cunning builder that the Dúnedain had produced since the days of Númenor. Great friendship he had with the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm, who shared their arts with him, but Curugond gleaned even more from their teachings than they guessed, and as his knowledge grew, so did his pride. Curugond’s thought was fixed on the Barad-dûr, which had been the greatest tower of its age. Why, he thought, should Gondor not build a fortress of such stature, an answer to the darkness of the previous age?



When he travelled to the vale to survey it, he discovered Ciryanar’s vision of a tower within a ring was not mere fancy. Only half-buried beneath the soil deposited by the Isen, was a rough, natural ring of black stone, the lip of some ancient volcano laid low by time and nature. Curugond’s designs were greater than they ought to have been, a mark of pride. He made plans to carve four great slabs of black stone from the centre of the ring, forming the tower’s apartments and chambers from them, and then hoisting them together to fit into a virtually impregnable tower. To carve the sides, he enlisted the aid of the dwarves of Moria, while crews recruited from Dunland performed the task of hoisting the slabs. This latter labour was far more difficult than Curugond had promised, and when the Hill-men attempted to raise the third slab, the lines broke, and many Dunlendings were crushed. Curugond cared not for their misfortune, but fretted about the tower, which was undamaged. This slight was remembered in Dunland, whose people nurse grudges like a dragon’s horde, and the people of Gondor would later come to rue the callousness of their chief builder.



Ten years after the death of Ciryanar, the tower was finally completed. Upon its lofty roof, enchantments were set to protect it from harm, from fire and stone and the natural forces that weather stone to its roots. Prince Thinyarpher, Ciryanar’s son, took the keys of Orthanc and became its first steward, bringing with him a palantír of Elendil. He served Gondor faithfully, as did his descendents, the Angrenostim, for in those days there was trust among the royal houses of Gondor and love between its brethren, and kings did not fear that a rival would use Angrenost as a citadel to supplant them. But such days were not to last forever.



As for Curugond’s fate, one tale says that he promised the Dwarves of Moria a great jewel of Númenor in exchange for their service, but besotted by a pretty granddaughter, he gave her the jewel and substituted a lesser gift in its stead. It is further said that the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm, who had no love for deception, seized Curugond and slew him in the dark.
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Friday, July 13, 2012

Army of Numenor

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The Numenorean army is the mightiest that exists in Arda at this point of time, and one of the greatest in all the ages of the world. It is this military strength which has enabled the Sea-Kings to extend their sway over vast areas of Middle-Earth and protect their dominions from Sauron and others who would oppose them. The strength of this army lies not just in its size, but also in the rigid discipline of its soldiers and their stern loyalty and valour -- all of which combine to make it almost unstoppable.


The Numenorean army consists almost entirely of foot soldiers. The typical gear of the Numenorean 'Narad', or warrior, consists of chain, spear and sword. In addition, the Numenoreans are well provisioned for long campaigns in far places.


The main unit of the arms of Numenor can be found within what is called a Host consisting of some 6000 Men. These are further divided into ten Cohorts consisting of 600 Men apiece. The Host commander is a high position indeed and holds the Adunaic title of 'Attabar' or 'Father of Strength.' The ensignias and badges of the Hosts vary from place to place.


There are two kinds of Cohorts in the Numenorean Host. The most common kind is the Cohort of Men-of-Arms. These are foot soldiers that are armed with spear and sword. In addition, all Numenorean warriors carry with them on their belts a sealed wallet that contains a small phial of cordial and wafers that can sustain life for many days as may be needed. In the classical Host, eight of the ten cohorts consist of this kind of soldiery.


The other two employ perhaps the most effective of the weapons of the Numenoreans: Bowmen. The bows and arrows employed are wrought of steel, to be sent in hails against their foes. The bows themselves are a full ell long! The commander of a Cohort, holds the Adunaic title of 'Azgaran', which roughly translates to 'Man-making war.'



THE HOST:

The Hosts which make up the Numenorean army fall into 3 categories -- the Standing Hosts, the Reserve Hosts, and the War Hosts.


Standing Hosts These are the elite Hosts, containing the veteran soldiers who are the most highly trained. They are always fully manned and ready to march into battle at a moment's notice. In more peaceful times, there was but 1 Standing Host in Numenor proper, but due to internal strife, there are now 6 Standing Hosts upon the Isle -- a number unheard of in the days of old.


They are the 1st Host in Mittalmar, the 2nd Host in Andustar, the 78th Host in Hyarmenstar, the 4th Host in Hyarrostar, the 5th Host in Romenna, and the 6th Host in Forrostar. In addition, there are several Standing Hosts based in the colonies -- the 7th, 11th, 12th and 16th Hosts in Umbar, and the 8th Host in Tharbad.


Reserve Hosts There come times when the presence of Numenorean might is urgently needed in a troubled place. However, the Standing Hosts are often on duty in positions from which they cannot be spared -- thus, the Reserve Hosts. These Hosts are formed of those Hosts from the Standing Hosts which can be spared at any time(all 6 Hosts from Numenor, and the 7th Host from Umbar), and a number of other Hosts which can be assembled very swiftly.


These latter Hosts are not fully manned at all times, but rather, consist of the commanders and a small number of trained veterans. Those who wish to join them must serve in the Host for 2 years. After this term of service, they may leave, but will have to return every 3 months for battle training. In this manner, these Hosts are comprised of trained soldiers who can be rapidly assembled in times of need, and sent wherever they are needed. There are 22 Reserve Hosts in totality.


War Hosts The Standing Hosts and Reserve Hosts together number 32 -- a mighty force indeed, and one which is well able to deal with the forces of Sauron and petty rebellions of Middle-Earth. However, there may come a time when such a foe threatens Numenor that her entire might shall be needed -- the well nigh invincible Grand Army of 75 Hosts.


The Grand Army consists not just of the Standing and Reserve Hosts, but also of the War Hosts. The latter will be formed of the citizens of Numenor who will be conscripted into service should the need ever arise. The War Hosts are 43 in number. However, this massive force has never been needed in the course of Numenor's history -- and it is extremely doubtful that it ever will be.


Army Ranks:

Attabar Host Commander

Azgaran Cohort Commander

Narad Warrior
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Orthanc

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Orthanc was, according to J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, built during the end of the Second Age by the men of Gondor out of four many sided columns of rock joined together by an unknown process and then hardened. No known weapon could harm it. The Ents themselves could not break the tower, although they could split solid rock into fragments with ease. Orthanc rose up to more than 500 feet (150 meters) above the plain of Isengard, and ended in four sharp peaks. Its only entrance was at the top of a high stair, and above that was a small window and balcony.


Orthanc housed one of the palantíri of the South Kingdom, and was guarded by a special warden. In the days of the early Stewards the tower was locked and its keys taken to Minas Tirith. When Isengard fell to the Dunlendings in T.A. 2710 they were unable to enter the tower.
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The Great Armament

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My inspiration was Tolkien (of course), his Númenórean race. The Shipis my creation, based maybe on some Greek or Roman designs. Done in photoshop, in some 35-40 hours. There is a lot of details which takes me ages to do.


Prompted by Sauron and fearing old age and death, Ar-Pharazôn built a great armada and set sail into the West to make war upon the Valar and seize the Undying Lands, and by so doing achieve immortality. Sauron remained behind. This force was quoted by Tolkien as the 'greatest force ever assembled on Arda'. In the year 3319 of the Second Age, Ar-Pharazôn landed on the shores of Aman. As the Valar were forbidden to take direct action against Men, Manwë, chief of the Valar, called upon Eru. The Undying Lands were removed from the world forever, and the formerly flat Earth was made into a globe. Númenor was overwhelmed in the cataclysm and sank beneath the sea, killing its inhabitants, including the body of Sauron who was thereby robbed of his ability to assume fair and charming forms, forever appearing in the form of a Dark Lord thereafter.


The Great Armament was the armada of warships and military forces prepared by the last King of Númenor, Ar-Pharazôn, for the purpose of invading the land of Aman to challenge the Lords of the West.


In S.A. 3261 Ar-Pharazôn invaded Middle-earth; by the following year Sauron submitted to him and was taken as prisoner to Númenor. Over the course of the next 48 years Sauron gradually seduced and corrupted the King and the majority of the Númenóreans. Feeling the coming of death, in S.A. 3310 Ar-Pharazôn initiated the construction of the Great Armament.


When preparation of the Armament became apparent, Amandil became dismayed and attempted to sail into the West to beseech the Valar for mercy and deliverance from Sauron. His mission failed and he was never heard from again.


For nine years Ar-Pharazôn amassed his strength in the havens of western Númenor while Elendil, Amandil's son gathered a small fleet of ships in the east that held the wives and children of the Faithful as well as their heirlooms and a store of goods. In secret the ship of Isildur, Elendil's son, also held a scion of Nimloth, the white tree.


As the Armament proceeded, omens appeared from the West – at first great clouds appeared in the shape of vast eagles, spreading darkness upon the land. As men hardened their hearts the clouds issued lightning that slew men, with one bolt smiting the dome of the Temple that Sauron had caused to be built in the city of Armenelos. Earthquakes shook Númenor and smoke poured from the summit of the Meneltarma, yet Ar-Pharazôn pushed all the more to complete his Armament.


Finally, in S.A. 3319, the King boarded his flagship Alcarondas and led the armada into the West. So vast was the Númenórean fleet that it surrounded all of Tol Eressëa. Coming upon the silent shores of Valinor, Ar-Pharazôn almost wavered but his pride won out - he landed and claimed the land for his own. Manwë then called upon Ilúvatar who put forth his power: The world was changed with a vast chasm rending the sea between Númenor and the Deathless Lands. The ships of the Great Armament were swallowed into the abyss while Ar-Pharazôn and his followers upon the shore were buried under falling hills.








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Culture

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The inhabitants of Númenor, usually called the Númenóreans or Men of the West, were descended from the Edain, a group of Men that dwelt in the north-west of Middle-earth and became the most advanced mortal culture. After their settlement in the isle, their knowledge and skills were further developed through the teaching of the Valar and of the Elves of Tol Eressëa.


The majority of the Númenóreans, descended from the original Folk of Hador, were fair-haired and blue-eyed. The settlers of the western regions, especially of the Andustar, came mostly from the Folk of Bëor, resulting in their darker hair and grey eyes. It is also recorded that a few remnants of the Folk of Haleth had journeyed to Númenor, and that they were accompanied by several families of the Drúedain. The latter, though at first increased in number, departed back to Middle-earth over time.


As a result, the common language of the Númenóreans — Adûnaic — was mainly derived from the speech of the Hadorians. According to some of Tolkien's writings, the descendants of the people of Bëor spoke an accented form of Adûnaic, while in others it is stated that they had dropped their own tongue before coming to the island and used the Grey-elven Sindarin as daily speech in Númenor. All texts, however, agree that Sindarin was known to the majority of the Númenóreans, and was widely used in noble families; the latter also knew the High-elven Quenya, employing it in "official documents", works of lore and nomenclature. The situation changed when the friendship with the Elves was broken. The usage of both Sindarin and Quenya gradually lessened, until at last King Ar-Adûnakhôr forbade to teach them, and the knowledge of the Elven-tongues was only preserved by the Faithful.



The Númenóreans were extremely skilled in many arts, but in later centuries their chief industries were shipbuilding and sea-craft. They became great mariners, exploring the world in all directions save for the west, where the Ban of the Valar was in force. They often travelled to the shores of Middle-earth, teaching the men there the arts and crafts, and they introduced farming to improve their everyday lives.



The Númenóreans, too, became skilled in husbandry, breeding great horses that roamed the open plains of Mittalmar.
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Numenor History

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The island was brought up from the sea as a gift from the Valar to the Edain, the Fathers of Men who had stood with the Elves of Beleriand against Morgoth in the War of the Jewels. Númenor was meant to be a “rest after the war” for the Edain. Early in the Second Age the greater part of those Edain that survive their defeat from Morgoth journeyed to the isle, sailing in ships provided by the Elves. The realm was officially established in S.A. 32, and Elros Half-elven, son of Earendil, and brother of Elrond and descendant of all the royal houses of Elves and Edain, became the first King of Númenor. Under his rule, and those of his descendants, the Númenóreans rose to become a powerful people. The first ships sailed from Númenor to Middle-earth in the year 600 of the Second Age.


The Númenóreans were forbidden by the Valar from sailing so far westward that Númenor was no longer visible, for fear that they would come upon the Undying Lands, to which Men could not come. For a long time, Númenor remained friendly with the Elves, both of Eressëa and of Middle-earth, and between S.A. 1693-1700, they assisted Gil-galad in the War of the Elves and Sauron, which broke out after the forging of the Great Rings, in particular the One Ring. King Tar-Minastir and the forces of Númenor were without peer in war, and together with the Elves, they were able to temporarily defeat Sauron. Over time the Númenóreans became jealous of the Elves for their immortality, and began to resent the Ban of the Valar and to rebel against their authority, seeking the everlasting life that they believed was begrudged them.They tried to compensate for this by going eastward and colonizing large parts of Middle-earth, first in a friendly manner, but later as cruel tyrants.


Soon the Númenóreans came to rule a great coastal empire that had no rival. Few (the “Faithful”) remained loyal to the Valar and friendly to the Elves. In the year 3255 of the Second Age, the 25th king, Ar Pharazon, sailed to Middle-earth and landed at Umbar. Seeing the might of Númenor, Sauron’s armies fled and Sauron surrendered without a fight. He was brought back to Númenor as a prisoner but he soon became an advisor to the king and promised the Númenóreans eternal life if they worshipped Melkor. With Sauron as his advisor, Ar-Pharazôn had a 500-foot (150 m) tall temple to Melkor erected, in which he offered human sacrifices to Melkor (those selected to be sacrificed were Elendili, Númenóreans who were still faithful to the Elves). During this time, the White Tree Nimloth, which stood before the King’s House in Armenelos and whose fate was said to be tied to the line of kings, was chopped down and burned as a sacrifice to Melkor at Sauron’s direction.


Isildur heroically and at great personal risk, rescued a fruit of the tree which became the White Tree of Gondor,  preserving the ancient line of trees. Prompted by Sauron and fearing death and old age, Ar-Pharazôn built a great armada and set sail into the West to make war upon the Valar and seize the Undying Lands, and by so doing achieve immortality. Sauron remained behind.


In the year 3319 of the Second Age, Ar-Pharazôn landed on the shores of Aman. As the Valar were forbidden to take direct action against Men, Manwe, chief of the Valar, called upon Eru. The Undying Lands were removed from the world forever, and the formerly flat earth was made into a globe. Númenor was overwhelmed in the cataclysm and sank beneath the sea, killing its inhabitants, including the body of Sauron who was thereby robbed of his ability to assume fair and charming forms, forever appearing in the form of a Dark Lord thereafter. Elendil son of the leader of the Faithful during the reign of Ar-Pharazôn, his sons and his followers had foreseen the disaster that was to befall Númenor, and they had set sail in nine ships before the island fell. They landed in Middle-earth and founded the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor. The downfall of Númenor was said to be the second fall of Men, the first being when Men first awoke and fell swiftly under the dominion of Morgoth.


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