Reader: The Silmarillion. Akallabêth

Reader deep thought: From the aftermath of the War of Wrath emerged a new landscape in Middle-earth, both literally and socio-geo-politically. The Second Age, the Age of Men had begun. Morgoth may be gone, but this was not a happily ever after tale about the Edain, the three Houses of Elf-friends who fought on the side of the Eldar and the Valar: this was about Men behaving badly, aka the Downfall of Númenor, which began when the Valar took it into mind to “put things in place”, featuring a brand new pad for the scions of the Edain, or as they called themselves after the fancy new pad: Númenoreans, aka Dúnedain.

“For his will remained and guided his servants, moving them ever to thwart the will of the Valar and to destroy those that obeyed them. This the Lords of the West knew full well. When therefore Morgoth had been thrust forth, they held council concerning the ages that should come after.”

 

SUMMARY NOTES

Where Elves accounted themselves awoken in bliss, conveniently ignoring their first encounters with divinity was with Melkor himself, they deemed Men to be tainted by Morgoth’s influence, having awoke “in the time of Shadow of Morgoth”.

But there were a few bright sparks, namely the Edain. And Eärendil, half-elven and married to another, was now called the Blessed by both Men and Elves for successfully bringing news of their collective plight to the Valar, and being the catalyst for the overthrow of Morgoth.

Easterling___LOTRYet, with Elves leaving, or left, in droves back to the Blessed Realm upon spanking new ships purpose-built for their Ultimate Cruise to the West (or growing reticent in Beleriand where the handful lingered), the world was the Atani’s oyster for the shucking. Still, though Morgoth was now banished, his Mannish minions who survived escaped back East and with some hocus pocus, lorded it over their lesser, lawless fellows who had refused summons of the Valar and Morgoth alike.

Then the Valar forsook for a time the Men of Middle-earth who had refused their summons and had taken the friends of Morgoth to be their masters; and Men dwelt in darkness and were troubled by many evil things that Morgoth had devised in the days of his dominion: demons, and dragons, and misshapen
beasts, and the unclean Orcs that are mockeries of the Children of Ilúvatar. And the lot of Men was unhappy.

 

And thanks to his undying diligence and prep in his little garden of evil motive, Morgoth continued his ambitions of empire by proxy, even though he himself was not able to re-enter Arda again while the Valar stuck around.

Well aware of this, the Valar made plans, mapped out the future, and instituted counter-measures:

  • The Eldar were summoned to return to Aman
    • Those who responded were given residency on Tol Eressëa, in the swanky new address of Avallónë, nearest of all the island’s cities to Valinor.
      • the tower of Avallónë was the first landmark for the lucky sailor who was able to make into the region from Middle-earth.
  • The Fathers of Men, aka the Edain, were also well rewarded.
    • Eönwë was their personal tutor, “and they were given wisdom and power and life more enduring than any others of mortal race have possessed.”
    • And they were given a new pad.

      the_second_age_of_ardaA land was made for the Edain to dwell in, neither part of Middle-earth nor of Valinor, for it was sundered from either by a wide sea; yet it was nearer to Valinor. It was raised by Ossë out of the depths of the Great Water, and it was established by Aulë and enriched by Yavanna; and the Eldar brought thither flowers and fountains out of Tol Eressëa. 250px-Numenor_MapThat land the Valar called Andor, the Land of Gift; and the Star of Eärendil shone bright in the West as a token that all was made ready, and as a guide over the sea; and Men marvelled to see that silver flame in the paths of the Sun.

      • Synonyms:
        • Andor, the Land of Gift
        • Elenna, Starwards
        • Anadûnê, Westernesse
        • Númenórë in the High Eldarin tongue
      • Safe passage was made for the Edain, and following the Star of Eärendil, they arrived in their new island paradise.
      • And thus began the Númenóreans, “Kings among Men” aka Dúnedain

        But they did not thus escape from the doom of death that Ilúvatar had set upon all Mankind, and they were mortal still, though their years were long, and they knew no sickness, ere the shadow fell upon them. Therefore they grew wise and glorious, and in all things more like to the Firstborn than any other of the kindreds of Men; and they were tall,taller than the tallest of the sons of Middle-earth; and the light of their eyes was like the bright stars. But their numbers increased only slowly in the land, for though daughters and sons were born to them, fairer than their fathers, yet their children were few.

      • Key landmarks and features
        • Andúnië. Ancient chief city and haven of Númenor on its western coasts.
        • the Meneltarma, the Pillar of Heaven. Mountain temple of Eru Ilúvatar. At the feet of the mountain were the tombs of the Kings
        • Armenelos, City of Kings. Fairest of cities. Situated on a nearby hill to the Meneltarma.
          • Royal Tower. Raised by Elros.
    • Elros, the other son of Eärendil, appointed by the Valar as the first King of the Dúnedain ruled four hundred and ten years, and he lived for five hundred, a gift of his heritage (which passed down to his descendents).

 

And while Middle-earth backslided, the Dúnedain flourished under the Valar’s protection and the Elves’ friendship. These Númenórean developmental advantages owed much to the facility of Dúnedain kings and lords with Elvish, and their loremasters’ ability with the High Eldarin tongue used in Valinor, aka Noldorspeak, which was used to set story and song, and scribework. And continuing the Eldarin penchant for synonyms, lords of the Númenóreans also had Elvish names, as did their cities. “And they increased in stature both of mind and body”, and became crafty folk who could have “surpassed the evil kings of Middle-earth in the making of war and the forging of weapons” if they had the mind to. But they were leaning toward pacifist tendencies, preferring ship-building and the related seafaring craft, and becoming the best mariners among Men forever.  Advantage polyglots, basically.

Sadly, these alpha Men were dressed for the party and had the ride to die for, but nowhere to go because the Valar had an injunction against them sailing “so far westward that the coasts of Númenor could no longer be seen”, because Manwë decided as long as they stuck close to home, it was kidglove enough to keep the Númenóreans from trying to for Valinor and changing their Fate, aka mortality.

Still, with Valinor still visible, and the Valar allowed to maintain residency in the World, and the Númenóreans having full awareness, it was a bad policy. Especially since “at times, when all the air was clear and the sun was in the east, they would look out and descry far off in the west a city white-shining on a distant shore, and a great harbour and a tower.”

ted nasmith_the silmarillion_3_akallabeth_the downfall of numenor2_ships of dunedain_medBut the wise among them knew that this distant land was not indeed the Blessed Realm of Valinor, but was Avallónë, the haven of the Eldar upon Eressëa, easternmost of the Undying Lands. And thence at times the Firstborn still would come sailing to Númenor in oarless boats, as white birds flying from the sunset. And they brought to Númenor many gifts: birds of song, and fragrant flowers, and herbs of great virtue. And a seedling they brought of Celeborn, the White Tree that grew in the midst of Eressëa; and that was in its turn a seedling of Galathilion the Tree of Túna, the image of Telperion that Yavanna gave to the Eldar in the Blessed Realm. And the tree grew and blossomed in the courts of the King in Armenelos; Nimloth it was named, and flowered in the evening, and the shadows of night it filled with its fragrance.

 

As long as the Dúnedain didn’t appreciate all this backstory and Manwë’s pre-emptive measure, they were happy to just zip around their Gilligan’s Island or go anywhere but West. And that was how they came into contact with lesser Men dwelling in Middle-earth, and basically did some humanitarian work and got the peasants some level up.

Thus it was that because of the Ban of the Valar the voyages of the Dúnedain in those days went ever eastward and not estward, from the darkness of the North to the heats of the South, and beyond the South to the Nether Darkness; and they came even into the inner seas, and sailed about Middle-earth and glimpsed from their high prows the Gates of Morning in the East. And the Dúnedain came at times to the shores of the Great Lands, and they took pity on the forsaken world of Middle-earth; and the Lords of Númenor set foot again upon the western shores in the Dark Years of Men, and none yet dared to withstand them. For most of the Men of that age that sat under the Shadow were now grown weak and fearful. And coming among them the Númenóreans taught them many things. Corn and wine they brought, and they instructed Men in the sowing of seed and the grinding of grain, in the hewing of wood and the shaping of stone, and in the orderingof their life, such as it might be in the lands of swift death and little bliss.

 

They never stayed long but the peasants started deifying them.

Then the Men of Middle-earth were comforted, and here and there upon the western shores the houseless woods drew back, and Men shook off the yoke of the offspring of Morgoth, and unlearned their terror of the dark. And they revered the memory of the tall Sea-kings, and when they had departed they called them gods, hoping for their return; for at that time the Númenóreans dwelt never long in Middle-earth, nor made there as yet any habitation of their own. Eastward they must sail, but ever west their hearts returned.

 

Time passed, and as life cycled through the consciousness of the Númenóreans, they looked West and got increasingly restless for immortality and word got out. It probably didn’t help to have their Eldar friends visiting and looking as fresh as ever while they themselves dropped, maybe not like flies, but still no Man was beating their expiry date, however stretched it was for the residents of Númenór. The well-intentioned friends reported what they heard and in typical fashion Manwë took a course of action that was counter-productive. He sent messengers to reinforce the way of the world, and remind them they should not try to get their lembas and eat it. Of course the Númenóreans countered with Eärendil, and asked why not them?

The audience was with Tar-Atanamir, son of Tar-Ciryatan, thirteenth King of the Realm of Númenor. In summary, it did not end as Manwë  intended.

But Atanamir was ill pleased with the counsel of the Messengers and gave little heed to it, and the greater part of his people followed him; for they wished still to escape death in their own day, not waiting upon hope. And Atanamir lived to a great age, clinging to his life beyond the end of all joy; and he was the first of the Númenóreans to do this, refusing to depart until he was witless and unmanned, and denying to his son the kingship at the height of his days. For the Lords of Númenor had been wont to wed late in their long lives and to depart and leave the mastery to their sons when these were come to full stature of body and mind.

 

Tar-Atanamir’s dissatisfaction was inherited by his son and successor, Tar-Ancalimon. Incidentally, the island started factionalising

  • Majority: the King’s Men. Proud, estranged from the Eldar and the Valar
  • Minority: the Elendili, the Elf-friends. Loyal to both King and the House of Elros, and the Eldar. Also, listened to Manwë’s message. Self-titled the Faithful. (Still troubled by the concept of mortality)

 

So unrest brewed beneath the surface of the bliss in Westernesse. Disillusioned and greedy for ways and manners of extending their reach and memory of greatness if not actual lifespan, these lords of Men researched and looked East for answers and solutions.

glory_and_fallen_of_numenor_by_breathing2004-d7txsrlBut the fear of death grew ever darker upon them, and they delayed it by all means that they could; and they began to build great houses for their dead, while their wise men laboured unceasingly to discover if they might the secret of recalling life, or at the least of the prolonging of Men’s days. Yet they achieved only the art of preserving incorrupt the dead flesh of Men, and they filled all the land with silent tombs in which the thought of death was enshrined in the darkness. But those that lived turned the more eagerly to pleasure and revelry, desiring ever more goods and more riches; and after the days of Tar-Ancalimon the offering of the first fruits to Eru was neglected, and men went eldom any more to the Hallow upon the heights of Meneltarma in the midst of the land.

Thus it came to pass in that time that the Númenóreans first made great settlements upon the west shores of the ancient lands; for their own land seemed to them shrunken, and they had no rest or content therein, and they desired now wealth and dominion in Middle-earth, since the West was denied. Great harbours and strong towers they made, and there many of them took up their abode; but they appeared now rather as lords and masters and gatherers of tribute than as helpers and teachers. And the great ships of the Númenóreans were borne east on the winds and returned ever laden, and the power and majesty of their kings were increased; and they drank and they feasted and they clad themselves in silver and gold.

 

Of course the Elf-friends were not part of the colonial master tendencies of the King’s Men, though they too visited Middle-earth. While the King’s Men were busy creating new kingdoms southwards, they called upon Gil-galad in the north, staying at Pelargir above the mouths of Anduin, and helping against Sauron, who had grown strong under Morgoth’s tutelage, and was holed up in his Tower of Barad-dûr, which he fortified in his land of Mordor during the reign of Tar-Minastir, the eleventh King of Númenor. As with Morgoth, he dreamt of dominion, to be “a king over all kings and as a god unto Men”. Except perhaps the Númenóreans, because he remembered “the deeds of their fathers and their ancient alliance with the Elves and allegiance to the Valar; nor did he forget the aid that Tar-Minastir had rendered to Gil-galad of old, in that time when the One Ring was forged and there was war between Sauron and the Elves in Eriador.”

Interestingly, when his hatred grew at the Númenorean increase in power and splendour, he did not challenge them, fearing instead an invasion and losing his “dominion of
the East”, and so he actually withdrew from the coasts. But that didn’t mean he stopped plotting world domination. He actually scored big time: “among those whom he ensnared with the Nine Rings three were great lords of Númenórean race. And when the Úlairi arose that were the Ringwraiths, his servants, and the strength of his terror and mastery over Men had grown exceedingly great, he began to assail the strong places of the Númenóreans upon the shores of the sea.”

And in those days,  the lives of the wayward Kings of the House of Elros waned, and the Shadow grew deeper upon Númenor. Still, “they hardened their hearts the more against the Valar”, and began a downward spiral with their diminishing faith.

A brief outline of the happenings:

  • the Lords of Andúnië were highest in honour except for the house of the kings, being of the line of Elros, and descended from Silmarien, daughter of Tar-Elendil the fourth king. They were loyal to the kings, and were chief councillors of the Sceptre. But they were also friendlies of the Eldar, and revered the Valar. So when the Shadow grew they provided aided to the Faithful secretly while attempting to “amend the hearts of the lords of the Sceptre with wiser counsels.”
  • The twentieth king took the name of Adûnakhôr, Lord of the West. With his ascension, the Númenoreans abandoned the use of Elvish. “Yet in the Scroll of Kings the name Herunúmen was inscribed in the High-elven speech, because of ancient custom, which the kings feared to break utterly, lest evil befall.”  The Faithful’s loyalty was sorely tested by the title since that was the Valar’s.
  • Ar-Sakalthôr, father of Ar-Gimilzôr, was the twenty-second king. Eärendur was the Lord of Andúnië during his reign.
  • Ar-Gimilzôr the twenty-third king was the worst anti-Faithful to be enthroned. He took to wife Inzilbêth, daughter of Lindórië, who was sister of Eärendur. During his reign, the White Tree was left untended, and the use of Elvish was completely banned. Those that had dealings with ships of Eressëa that still visited secretly were punished. Those of the Elendili who lived in the western regions of Númenor were rounded up and relocated to the east, under surveillance. The Faithful came to be mostly found near the harbour of Rómenna. From there many sailed to ME to seek out Gil-galad kingdom. As long they too one-way trips, the kings were fine with it, being determined to end all contact with Elves, who they called the Spies of the Valar. Still, nothing escaped the awareness of Manwë, and the disappointed Valar stoppoed all contact, and even Elves no longer visited from Eressëa.
  • Inziladûn, the elder son of Ar-Gimilzôr succeeded him. He was inclined to the Faithful, as with his mother’s side. He had a brother, Gimilkhâd who was like their sire, and “to him Ar-Gimilzôr would have yielded the sceptre rather than to the elder son, if the laws had allowed.”. He resumed the old practice of taking a title in Elvish: Tar-Palantir, and he was “far-sighted both in eye and in mind, and even those that hated him feared his words as those of a true-seer.” Through him, the Faithful had peace for a spell, and he “went once more at due seasons to the Hallow of Eru upon the Meneltarma,” and even tended the White Tree again. He prophesied too that the line of the Kings would end if the Tree died. But it was too late an atonement to the Valar in his forebears’ name. Especially when the King’s Men were the majority, with even his own brother opposing him both openly and secretly where he could. He died of grief, two years after Gimilkhâd passed. But he left no sons, only a daughter Míriel.
  • Ar-Pharazôn, Gimilkhâd’s son, succeeded Tar-Palantir. This was Tar-Calion in Elvish. This he was able to achieve by taking Míriel, Tar-Palantir’s rightful successor, to wife. Her name he changed Ar-Zimraphel. (The union was against her will, and he did “evil in this and evil also in that the laws of Númenor did not permit the marriage, even in the royal house, of those more nearly akin than cousins in the second degree.”) But he had the people’s hearts, being flush with wealth he was free in giving, having success as leader in wars the Númenóreans waged in Middle-earth to extend their dominion over Men. Amandil was lord of Andúnië during his reign.
    • Ar-Pharazôn declared war on Sauron, who in his absence, had gained somewhat of the coastline and declared himself “King of Men, and declared his purpose to drive the Númenóreans into the sea, and destroy even Númenor, if that might be.”
    • Umbar, the mighty haven of the Númenóreans in the South of Middle-earth, near Gondor, was his staging area.
    • Then he set up his throne upon a hill and commanded Sauron to attend to him. And Sauron did indeed come from Barad-dûr, but he abased himself, because he “perceived that the power and majesty of the Kings of the Sea surpassed all rumour of them, so that he could not trust even the greatest of his servants to withstand them; and he saw not his time yet to work his will with the Dúnedain. And he was crafty, well skilled to gain what he would by subtlety when force might not avail. Therefore he humbled himself before Ar-Pharazôn and smoothed his tongue; and men wondered, for all that he said seemed fair and wise.” And agreed to be taken hostage. “And Sauron passed over the sea and looked upon the land of Númenor, and on the city of Armenelos in the days of its glory, and he was astounded; but his heart within was filled the more with envy and hate.”
    • Within three years, Sauron went from hostage to trusted councillor, spreading the gospel of “Darkness”. Amandil lord of Andúnië and the Faithful were troubled and harassed.And Ar-Pharazôn said: ‘Who is the Lord of the Darkness?’ Then behind locked doors Sauron spoke to the King, and he lied, saying: ‘It is he whose name is not now spoken; for the Valar have deceived you concerning him, putting forward the name of Eru, a phantom devised in the folly of their hearts, seeking to enchain Men in servitude to themselves. For they are the oracle of this Eru, which speaks only what they will. But he that is their master shall yet prevail, and he will deliver you from this phantom; and his name is Melkor, Lord of All, Giver of Freedom, and he shall make you stronger than they.’
    • So began Ar-Pharazôn’s worship of the Dark, and Melkor, secretly at first, then openly. The Faithful continued to look to Amandil (whose friendship with Ar-Pharazôn was supplanted by Sauron, who hated Amandil), his son Elendil, and his sons Isildur and Anárion, for guidance.
    • Amandil withdrew to Rómenna, and summoned those that he trusted to be faithful there in secret, worried as he was for the safety of the Elf-friends. Meneltarma was abandoned, though “not even Sauron dared to defile the high place, yet the King would let no man, upon pain of death, ascend to it, not even those of the Faithful who kept Ilúvatar in their hearts.” But Sauron succeeded in urging to cut down the White Tree, Nimloth the Fair.
      • But before that happened, Isildur, who heard about the plan from Amandil, snuck into the courts of the King in Armenelos, now forbidden to the Faithful, and brought away a fruit, after fighting his way out.But Isildur came at last hardly back to Rómenna and delivered the fruit to the hands of Amandil, ere his strength failed him. Then the fruit was planted in secret, and it was blessed by Amandil; and a shoot arose from it and sprouted in the spring. But when its first leaf opened then Isildur, who had lain long and come near to death, arose and was troubled no more by his wounds.
    • After Nimloth was felled, Sauron got Ar-Pharazôn to build Armenelos the Golden, an opulent temple upon a hill within the city itself, and the first fire was kindled with Nimloth’s wood, and thereafter, smoke rose always from its louver. It was fuelled by “spilling of blood and torment and great wickedness, men made sacrifice to Melkor that he should release them from Death. And most often from among the Faithful they chose their victims; yet never openly on the charge that they would not worship Melkor, the Giver of Freedom, rather was cause sought against them that they hated the King and were his rebels, or that they plotted against their kin, devising lies and poisons. These charges were for the most part false; yet those were bitter days, and hate brings forth hate.”
      • Matters continued downhill – neither longevity nor civil society improved. And in the amassing of power and wealth was where the lords and nobles found solace, with avarice helpfully fuelled by Sauron and his minions. The practice of sacrifice was extended to the strongholds they built in Middle-earth. As the prevalance of their cruelty increased, so the memory of glory and goodwill  of “the kindly kings of the ancient days faded from the world and was darkened by many a tale of dread.”
      • So Sauron ruled from behind the throne of Ar-Pharazôn, King of the Land of the Star, and mightiest tyrant since Morgoth. And when in his old-age Sauron whispered of the Valar’s deceit in denying entry to Valinor and thus immortality to Men, Ar-Pharazôn was goaded to seek and seize the Blessed Realm from the Valar.
        • Despite Ar-Pharazôn’s covert plans, Amandil knew about it. So after speaking with Elendil, he set off in what he hoped would be a mission of mercy to seek Valinor, deliver the message, and seek help and absolution – and was heard of no more. Elendil meantime was to prepare his people (for escape from Númenor if need be), and not take part in Ar-Pharazôn’s plans. And between him and his boys, Elendil’s luggage included the sapling of Nimloth, and “Seven Stones they had, the gift of the Eldar”. Then he waited, though all he could see were the ships of Ar-Pharazôn’s amassing in the harbours.

          Now aforetime in the isle of Númenor the weather was ever apt to the needs and liking of Men: rain in due season and ever in measure; and sunshine, now warmer, now cooler, and winds from the sea. And when the wind was in the west, it seemed to many that it was filled with a fragrance, fleeting but sweet, heart-stirring, as of flowers that bloom for ever in undying meads and have no names on mortal shores. But all this was now changed; for the sky itself was darkened, and there were storms of rain and hail in those days, and violent winds; and ever and anon a great ship of the Númenóreans would founder and return not to haven, though such a grief had not till then befallen them since the rising of the Star. And out of the west there would come at times a great cloud in the evening, shaped as it were an eagle, with pinions spread to the north and the south; and slowly it would loom up, blotting out the sunset, and then uttermost night would fall upon Númenor. And some of the eagles bore lightning beneath their wings, and thunder echoed between sea and cloud.ted nasmith_the silmarillion_3_akallabeth_the downfall of numenor3_the eagles of manwe_medThen men grew afraid. ‘Behold the Eagles of the Lords of the West!’ they cried. ‘The Eagles of Manwë are come upon Númenor!’ And they fell upon their faces.

          Then some few would repent for a season, but others hardened their hearts, and they shook their fists at heaven, saying: ‘The Lords of the West have plotted against us. They strike first. The next blow shall be ours!’ These words the King himself spoke, but they were devised by Sauron.

        • Bad weather and strange geological events continued.

          Now the lightnings increased and slew men upon the hills, and in the fields, and in the streets of the city; and a fiery bolt smote the dome of the Temple and shore it asunder, and it was wreathed in flame. ted nasmith_the silmarillion_3_akallabeth_the downfall of numenor5_medBut the Temple itself was unshaken, and Sauron stood there upon the pinnacle and defied the lightning and was unharmed; and in that hour men called him a god and did all that he would. When therefore the last portent came they heeded it little. For the land shook under them, and a groaning as of thunder underground was mingled with the roaring of the sea, and smoke issued from the peak of the Meneltarma. But all the more did Ar-Pharazôn press on with his armament.

        • So arrayed the mighty fleets of Ar-Pharazôn faced the West as the Eagles of the Lords of the West came truly at them, while Sauron kept busy with sacrificial burnings.Thus the fleets of the Númenóreans moved against the menace of the West; and there was little wind, but they had many oars and many strong slaves to row beneath the lash. The sun went down,and there came a great silence. Darkness fell upon the land, and the sea was still, while the world waited for what should betide. Slowly the fleets passed out of the sight of the watchers in the havens, and their lights faded, and night took them; and in the morning they were gone. For a wind arose in the east and it wafted them away; and they broke the Ban of the Valar, and sailed into forbidden seas, going up with war against the Deathless, to wrest from them everlasting life within the Circles of the World.
        • The fleets of Ar-Pharazôn passed Avallónë, and Tol Eressëa itself, and reached Aman, the Blessed Realm, “and the coasts of Valinor; and still all was silent, and doom hung by a thread.” Ar-Pharazôn actually wavered, seeing the soundless shores and Taniquetil “shining, whiter than snow, colder than death, silent, immutable, terrible as the shadow of the light of Ilúvatar.” But his pride drove him and his host was encamped about Túna, where all the Eldar were.

          ted nasmith_the silmarillion_3_akallabeth_the downfall of numenor4_tar-miriel_medThen Manwë upon the Mountain called upon Ilúvatar, and for that time the Valar laid down their government of Arda. But Ilúvatar showed forth his power, and he changed the fashion of the world; and a great chasm opened in the sea between Númenor and the Deathless Lands, and thewaters flowed down into it, and the noise and smoke of the cataracts went up to heaven, and the world was shaken. And all the fleets of the Númenóreans were drawn down 250px-John_Howe_-_The_Drowning_of_Numenorinto the abyss, and they were drowned and swallowed up for ever. But Ar-Pharazôn the King and the mortal warriors that had set foot upon the land of Aman were buried under falling hills: there it is said that they lie imprisoned in the Caves of the Forgotten, until the Last Battle and the Day of Doom.

          • Also, Aman and Eressëa were made inaccessible forever to Men. And Númenor was sunk on the thirty-ninth day of Ar-Pharazôn’s campaign, taking Tar-Míriel the Queen along with it. And evil forever stalked the Earth.

            For Ilúvatar cast back the Great Seas west of Middle-earth, and the Empty Lands east of it, and new lands and new seas were made; and the world was diminished, for Valinor and Eressëa were taken from itinto the realm of hidden things.

          • But Elendil, his sons and the people they protected were safe aboard ships.

            Nine ships there were: four for Elendil, and for Isildur three, and for Anárion two; and they fled before the black gale out of the twilight of doom into the darkness of the world. And the deeps rose beneath them in towering anger, and waves like unto mountains moving with great caps of writhen snow bore them up amid the wreckage of the clouds, and after many days cast them away upon the shores of Middle-earth. And all the coasts and seaward regions of the western world suffered great change and ruin in that time; for the seas invaded the lands, and shores foundered, and ancient isles were drowned, and new isles were uplifted; and hills crumbled and rivers were turned into strange courses.

            • Elendil and his sons founded kingdoms in Middle-earth, and continued their struggle against Sauron.
          • Incidentally, the happenings put fear into Sauron “at the wrath of the Valar, and the doom that Eru laid upon sea and land”. He had enjoyed himself at the wrath and ruin of Númenór, but when his mortal form was destroyed along with it, “his spirit arose out of the deep and passed as a shadow and a black wind over the sea, and came back to Middle-earth and to Mordor that was his home. There he took up again his great Ring in Barad-dûr, and dwelt there, dark and silent, until he wrought himself a new guise, an image of malice and hatred made visible; and the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure.”

So ended the Akallabêth in typical epic fashion of the early Ages, but there was still an epilogue. Men yearned still, and hoped for sightings of Avallónë and the Land of Aman.

Among the Exiles many believed that the summit of the Meneltarma, the Pillar of Heaven, was not drowned for ever, but rose again above the waves, a lonely island lost in the great waters; for it had been a hallowed place, and even in the days of Sauron none had defiled it. And some there were of the seed of Eärendil that afterwards sought for it, because it was said among loremasters that the farsighted men of old could see from the Meneltarma a glimmer of the Deathless Land.

Lore among the Dúnedain held that the blessed, even were they mortal, could behold “other times than those of their bodies’ life; and they longed ever to escape from the shadows of their exile and to see in some fashion the light that dies not; for the sorrow of the thought of death had pursued them over the deeps of the sea.” So ever the search for Meneltarma continued.

But they found it not. And those that sailed far came only to the new lands, and found them like to the old lands, and subject to death. And those that sailed furthest set but a girdle about the Earth and returned weary at last to the place of their beginning; and they said: ‘All roads are now bent.’

Still they knew the Eldar could reach “the Ancient West and to Avallónë.” And myth endured of “mariners and men forlorn upon the water who, by some fate or grace or favour of the Valar, had entered in upon the Straight Way and seen the face of the world sink below them, and so had come to the lamplit quays of Avallónë, or verily to the last beaches on the margin of Aman, and there had looked upon the White Mountain, dreadful and beautiful, before they died.”

 

(Relevance: read-along schedule)

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