January 30, 2012

The Ghost in the Bay of Forochel

The Seamonster in the Bay of Forochel
Volume I, Book 13 of the Epic line takes us to Forochel, and intertwines itself with a lesser-known but very important part of historical Lore.

I briefly mention the overthrow of the Kingdom of Arthedain and Fornost being overrun by Angmar in 1974 of the Third Age in another article.   Arvedui, who was king at the time, fled north after all was lost at Fornost and spent months trying to survive with a small remainder of his men in the dwarf-mines at the far end of the Blue Mountains.  Hunger drove them to seek help from the Lossoth - a people not of the Edain and quite different from the culture and customs of the Men of Númenor, such as Arvedui and his men - and who were just as isolated and wary of outsiders as LOTRO represents them.  But as anyone who has quested in Forochel knows, the Lossoth can be friendly - gradually.  In the Lore, they eventually decided to aid Arvedui and his men (in part due to pity for his gaunt condition, hence we see Saija in Book 13 referring to him as the Gaunt King - this shouldn't be confused with the Gaunt Lords we see elsewhere).  The Lossoth built huts of snow for the refugees from Fornost to help them survive the rest of the harsh winter.
The Last King of Arthedain

When Círdan the Shipwright learned that Arvedui had fled from Fornost to the north, he sent a ship from the Grey Havens to Forochel.  When the ship arrived, the Lossoth warned Arvedui not to mount upon this "seamonster" and instead have the crew give them provisions to help them survive the rest of the winter.  But Arvedui did not follow their counsel.  As the ship attempted to sail from the Bay of Forochel, strong winds from the north drove it back onto the ice (the Lossoth believed the Witch King of Angmar could control the winter weather), causing the hull to rupture and the ship to sink, killing all on board, including Arvedui.  Along with Arvedui and the others on board the ship, two palantíri were supposedly lost forever in the Bay of Forochel as well - the palantír from Annuminas and the palantír from Amon Sûl.

The name Arvedui translates as "Last King," something that was prophesied at his birth by Malbeth the Seer:  "Arvedui you shall call him, for he will be the last in Arthedain.  Though a choice will come to the Dúnedain, and if they take the one that seems less hopeful, then your son will change his name and become king of a great realm.  If not, then much sorrow and many lives of men shall pass, until the Dúnedain arise and are united again."  And we all know what choice the Dúnedain of the south made.

Before becoming king of Arthedain, Arvedui had sought the throne of Gondor in year 1944 when the last king of Gondor and his sons were defeated.  He argued to the Dúnedain of the south that as a direct heir of Elendil, who was initially High King of both Arnor and Gondor before they were given to his sons Isildur and Anarion, that he was in line to assume the kingship.  He had also married  Firiel, daughter of the last King of Gondor and only surviving child of the king.  According to the ancient rules of Númenor, rule could indeed be passed from father to daughter, but this law was not followed in Gondor, and Arvedui's claim was rejected, thereby leading to the route of "sorrow" as prophesied.

Fortunately for all of us, the son of Arvedui, Aranarth, had survived before the decimation of Fornost.  After the death of his father, the Last King, Aranarth became the first Chieftain of the Dúnedain and ancestor to Aragorn.  If you follow the many chapters of Book 13 to the end, you will be able to bring tidings to Aragorn of the his ill-fated ancestor.

Sources:  Appendix A:  The Lord of the Rings

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