So, there we were in the Numenorean colony of Ciryatanore.
Prince Irimon, the second in line to the Numenorean throne, looked a bit like his ancestor Elros (I'd met him, of course). He invited us to a banquet, which was excellent, and then we attended the Council of Ciryatanore. There were concerns expressed about the kingdom of Ibavi, which had suddenly decided to develop territorial ambitions and a professional army. Irimon wanted to respond to this by creating a voluntary League of Ciryatanore against them. Numenor seems to be getting a bit military in its approach to the rest of Middle-earth. Better Numenor than Sauron, I suppose.
Irimon then decided to take us to his tower where he likes to greet the sun. He has a palantir there, a huge one, one of the early Feanorian prototypes.
We agreed to visit Ibavi, as a 'diplomatic mission' to the king, Akrad, and in return, Irimon offered us military help against Ren the Unclean. Irimon felt that the intercession of Elvish and Dwarvish emissaries might impress them, as very few of the Eldar have travelled so far East.
We went to a mithril workshop to collect the gift that Irimon had prepared for Akrad king of Ibavi. There was something a bit odd at the workshop and it turned out that the official maker of Mithril Gift Items had got a bit old and his daughter Azrazimril was actually doing the work. Angruin thought she was very talented, which is quite a compliment, coming from him.
Azrazimril and Irimon had a bit of a Moment, but since Irimon is a prince, it's probably not going anywhere, which seemed a little sad. Irimon would be much better off with a talented mithril-worker than some floaty elf out of a dream that he's never actually met, I reckon.
So we hied off to Ibavi (it's very pretty, quaint fishing villages and the Palace City of Simna, but I'd mislaid my pencil) , where we presented a very beautiful model in mithril of the latest ship in the vast Numenorean fleet to king Akrad, and Thrandin was careful to drop a few hints about the might of Khazad Dum, Belegost and Lindon. King Akrad took the point at once, but he also took the mithril ship, and the cause of peace, or at least probably-fairly-benign Numenorean hegemony, was advanced.
Back to Ciryatanore and Prince Irimon was adamant that he must meet the River King's Daughter of his dreams. So we went off back to Ralia, and introduced him to the River King and to his daughter Ellanna. They hit it off at once, and the River King held a sort of celebration festival thing, at which their strange imitation Valar played a major role. Ecthelion wrestled with the Valarkri known as Tulko, and won. Angruin imagined Ecthelion trying to wrestle with the actual Tulkas, and was overcome with giggles again.
Irimon, who fancies himself as a minstrel, decided that he would try to convince the River King to look favorably on his interest in his daughter by singing the Lay of Luthien. He did it quite well, too, and we were all nodding and tapping our feet and thinking that this was a reasonable enough way to convince an Elf-king that his daughter could marry a mortal man who was, after all, descended from Beren, when the River King decided to spring a surprise on us.
He said that yes, he would be fine with Irimon marrying Ellanna... but that precedent suggested that in that sort of situation, the suitor should present the father of the bride with a Thing of Power. We were just thinking 'OH NO! ' and then 'well, there are no Silmarils available, never mind'. when he announced that a suitable item in the circumstances would be a Ring of Power. Angruin was not impressed.
Angruin tried talking to the River King about why demanding ownership of a Ring of Power would be a really bad idea, given that Sauron had the One Ring. Angruin got rather cross. The River King also got cross. Fortunately, Thrandin the Diplomatic Dwarf was there to discourage another outbreak of kinslaying, but the River King was adamant that he wanted a Ring, and Irimon is adamant he wants Ellanna's hand in marriage. Unless Ellanna gets some gumption and talks her father out of it, or just elopes with Irimon, this is not going to end well.
But we had done enough to convince Irimon to lend us his Numenorean Army of Awesomeness, so we could attack Angren province, where we had heard that Ren the Unclean, probably owner of the Ninth Ring, was lurking. But they needed a bit of time to load up all their siege machinery, trebuchets and things, and we had agreed to meet Paparimo the Blue Wizard by the Lake of Then, among the Thennish men. We were rather late for the meeting, so we decided to go over there to catch up with him while the Numenorean forces prepared.
Paparimo had got bored of hanging around the Lake of Then, and had wandered off again, but he HAD left us a message, with one Banik, a Thennish Man who lived by the lake. Paparimo has monumentally poor handwriting, but the two Dwarves managed to puzzle it out eventually (Ecthelion was entirely puzzled by it. But then Men have terrible eyesight, whereas Dwarves are all about the encrypted messages, so that fits).
Angren was planning an invasion of the Land of Chey. What is it with all these invasions? I bet Sauron is at the bottom of it all, we thought, and this seemed all the more likely once we had had a good look at the map that we'd been given of Ren the Unclean's mountain fortress in Angren, which featured a Temple to Morgoth quite prominently. We decided that while the Awesome Numenorean Army, led by the drunken wastrel brother of Irimon, Fealasse, carried out a frontal assault on Angren, we would follow the map and go in the back way, to catch Ren by surprise.
Last time we had to deal with Morgoth Remnants, we had a definite morale problem. Poor old Thrandin, in particular, got very upset. So before we set off I decided to do some artificing and magic, and set runes on the weapons belonging to Ecthelion, Thrandin, Thrar and Irimon to reduce the chance that they would be overcome with fear. (I would have done the same for Thorofin and Thingolodh, but doing magic artificing is hard work and I ran out of energy. It seemed likely that the Elves would have more resistance to that sort of problem anyway, so I did the mortals first.) I had to have a very long nap after that, but fortunately nothing much was happening, so the rest of the party was able to have a pleasant afternoon swimming in the Lake of Then, fishing, picnicking and that sort of thing, while I slept it off.
So there we were, all ready to carry out a secret back-door invasion of Ren the Unclean's fortress through the Mines of Mount Maan, while the Numenorean armies kept Ren busy by pelting him with trebuchets. Which I shall detail in the Next Part.