This story is a prequel to the Lost Kingdon of Cardolan. I also wrote this in high school while playing a role playing game. It is based on characters and places in the LOTR and ICE. I hope you enjoy it and please R&R.

Introduction

The year is 1408 in the Third Age. Our story takes place in the Land of Rhudaur, located in the North of the continent. The Kingdom has been slowly usurped by the power of the Witch King of Angmar. At one time in the past, Rhudaur was united with two other realms into the great Kingdom of Arnor. During this early period the Kings of Arnor constructed the Gondryn (beacon towers) to communicate the defense of the Realm in the event of an attack by the numerous Hillmen. In the year 861, Eärendur, the tenth and last King of Arnor died, dividing his lands among his three sons, thus creating the Kingdoms of Arthedain, Cardolan, and Rhudaur. Thus, Aldarion became the first King of the new land. He accepted a treaty between the sister Kingdoms for the joint use of the watch tower of Amon Sûl, the greatest fortress of the North and the home of the powerful seeing stone, the Palantír.

In time, tensions rose among the realms and after the death of Thorundur, King of Cardolan. Aldarion, his younger brother, attempted to reunite the lands in 949. Several minor skirmishes resulted, but the death of Aldarion in 951 ended Rhudaur's bid for power. The squabble became more serious in 1084 during the reign of King Tarandil. A war of twelve years ensued. Sides shifted, but most often Arthedain and Rhudaur contested Cardolan's attempts to posses Amon Sûl. The war was indecisive.

Over time, the Dúnedain of Rhudaur grew less numerous and their hold over the land grew weaker. Cardolan sensed an opportunity to restore the Dúnedain and expand its borders.

In 1197 King Calimendil of Cardolan launched a protracted war into Rhudaur to overthrow Rhugga, a Hillman "Barbarian" who had usurped the throne of Rhudaur. Rhugga was an effective and popular leader despite his unsavory methods. The war dragged on for thirty-eight bloody years before Calimendil trapped the Rhudaurans in Cameth Brin, the fortress capitol. Finally, in 1235, Cameth Brin was beaten, its lower levels taken by the Army of Cardolan. That night, the exhausted knights and soldiers rejoiced, but unknown to all, an army of Orcs had answered Rhugga's pleas for aid and had secretly marched east. The Orcs fell upon the unsuspecting forces of Cardolan. The Royal Pavilion fell, and with it well nigh all the lords of Cardolan.

In 1276, an evil spirit named the Lord of the Nazgûl came to the far North and established the Kingdom of Angmar. His goal was to destroy the three northern kingdoms. A renewed war between Cardolan and Arthedain between 1284 and 1287 kept everyone's attention away from Angmar and by 1300 the evil kingdom was completed and the Lord of the Nazgûl became the Witch King of Angmar. Over the next fifty years the Witch King's minions infiltrated the Kingdom of Rhudaur through guile and assassination.

In 1307, Aldor the Addled ascended to the throne of Rhudaur, bringing into power a coterie of advisors. Eventually, everyone on this clique discretely went into the service of Angmar. Many of the Dúnedain fled to Arthedain and Cardolan. However, Celebendil Melossë, the Lord of the Angle (Aran-onen-Egladil), one of the five Great Nobles of the Realm, openly revolted against Aldor. Celebendil had long served as the Warden of Rhudaur and had the loyalty of the Northron mercenaries, who garrisoned the central and south Gondryn. Celebendil held off Aldor's attempts to crush the rebellion.

By 1350, Rhudaur was firmly under the iron fist of the Witch King. Soon thereafter, Angmar and its new ally, Rhudaur launched a brutal assault on the lands of Arthedain and Cardolan. The war raged for seven years ending in 1359. One by one, Celebendil and his sons fell before the onslaught of the Witch King and House Melossë was driven from its last outposts. Celebendil's bold granddaughter, the half-Northron Vulfredda, rallied the remnants of the mercenary army and recaptured her ancestral lands in southern Rhudaur, winning renown as a ferocious shieldmaiden. Her efforts prevented a battalion of Easterling cavalry from arriving at Nothva Rhaglaw in 1358, ensuring a major Arthedan/Cardolan victory there.

Victory came to the men of Arthedain and Cardolan only with the help of the Elves of Rivendell. The Witch-King's Armies were slaughtered, but there were not enough forces in the realms to counterattack into Angmar and thus the war of attrition ended.

In the aftermath of the war, a Dúnadan puppet, Argil the Great, was placed on the throne of Rhudaur. Having recovered from the lashing of the last war, the Witch King was ready to try his hand again in 1408.

THE HALL OF THE WITCH-KING, Spring, 1405

Deep within Carn Dûm, the fortress-capitol of the Realm of Angmar, evil plans were being developed to extend the power of the Kingdom. In the year 1276, the Witch-King, chief servant of the Necromancer, came to the north to establish a realm in which to destroy the Dúnedain Kingdoms. The Witch-King brought with him minions of trolls and orcs and other evil beasts, but found the land ruled by Dwarves. Within a few years, the Dwarves had been routed and the refugees brought tales of a great stronghold of dull red stone.

The fortress was actually two strongholds: one sitting upon the base and shoulders of a huge mountain, and the other, delved within the rock of the mountain. The outer walls were fifty feet high and twelve feet thick. Crossbow loops were placed at regular intervals and portcullis could seal off sections of the interior at will, creating killing zones. From there, a series of complex and deadly defenses would pose a serious problem to any attacker.

Deep within the mountain, the Witch King, and his High Priests, the Gulmathaur, ruled the land and plotted the conquest of the North.

A striking middle-aged man wearing well cut, dark brown robes walked along a dark corridor within the depths of Carn Dûm, tapping the floor with his staff. The staff, the sign of a user of essence, was topped with a gilded skull vomiting evil-looking vines from its mouth and eyes. The man's brown eyes glinted, reflecting the light of the wall torches as his breath came out in steam. His dark skin was wreathed in white hair and a white beard.

As he strode confidently forward, his pace was interrupted by a deep voice. "The Master is waiting. Proceed..." The man, a mage by trade, nodded slightly to the huge sentry, an 11-foot tall troll. This monster was one of the elite Hoerk Tereg, personal guards to the Witch-King himself. The plates of its armor reflected the dancing torch fires. Undaunted, the man passed through the doors of the Hall where few men have ventured.

Sinews and ligaments of red porphyry stretch from floor to vaulted ceiling in patterns resembling those of the bowels of some sea monster. At the center of the Hall was a pool of blood in which floated a huge pink swordfish. The man focused his eyes on the fish.

Is that a throne? In the mouth of the fish?

The man stood in awe of the horrific sight before him, glancing at the six glassy figures flanking the pool.

"Approach Ethacali," an eerie, ethereal voice instructed the man.

The man walked forward until he could see a robe in the shape of a man and a crown floating above the shoulders of the robe.

"The Lord of the Nazgûl," Ethacali whispered under his breath.

The crown nodded. "Indeed. You have risen rapidly in my service and your success in the East has come to the attention of the Necromancer. It is time for you to join the inner circle."

Ethacali gasped quietly. The mage was not one to exhibit much reaction, but this was the culmination of all his life's work: his hopes and dreams.

"However, you must show yourself worthy of this honor. I command you to journey to Rhudaur where you will awaken a long-sleeping force. Take this tome and learn it well. It will provide you with the information and powers you will need to complete the task. I will give you command over thirty warriors of the Trûpalog Tribe and five of my trackers. Above all, restrict any overt use of your power so as not to show its source. You must depart tomorrow. Until then, enjoy the hospitality of Carn Dûm."

A thick book appeared before Ethacali and he stooped to pick it up. He bowed low to the Witch-King and backed away, slightly shaken despite his earlier confidence. As he departed the Hall and walked past the massive troll, a man and a woman in priestly robes met Ethacali.

"Come with us. We will show you to your chambers," they said.

Ethacali's journey to Carn Dûm was difficult. He had passed through the mountains through the torrential spring rains and then into the forbidding cold of Angmar. As a native of Logath in the east, he was unaccustomed to cold weather despite his reputation for being tireless and of iron constitution. He would be glad to get some rest and a hot meal. His first encounter with The Lord of the Nazgûl had gone well.

Soon he was soaking in the hot baths of the fortress. Lounging near the side of the bath, he began to read the tome. It was an ancient text bound in a light metal. As Ethacali scanned through it, he noticed some newer writing.

What's this? Runes... written by... by the Necromancer himself... What could possibly be so powerful as to warrant this much attention?