Flavor text: Dream-chaser

Get ready for another long article with the flavor text for this cycle. Dream-chaser increases the narrative even further with different points of view for the story. It also includes a wonderful epilogue about the fall of Númenor at the end of the Second Age. I hope you all enjoy the story that the developers wrote alongside the scenarios.


Voyage Across Belegaer

Start: The road west to the Grey Havens was as peaceful and uneventful as the company of adventurers could have hoped. The horrors they faced in the dread realm were far behind them, and with spring blooming, they were free to enjoy their travels for the first time in what seemed like ages. It wasn’t long before they passed the Tower Hills, and arrived at the gates of the Havens.

They were greeted warmly by Círdan the Shipwright, the Master of the Grey Havens, leading a group of Elves. “Thank you for all responding to my letter so quickly. Allow me to welcome you to Mithlond, the last port of the Elves east of the great sea of Belegaer,” he said to the heroes with a smile. The wisdom of ages past shone in Círdan’s eyes. “Follow me, and I shall bring you to our meeting chambers. There, you shall discover the reason why you have traveled many leagues from Rivendell.”

Eager to assist in whatever manner they could, the company followed the Elves through the gates and were escorted to a tall white tower overlooking the Gulf of Lune. Elegant Elven ships were docked in the harbors, tall and white with the star of Eärendil shining upon their sails. They were as much works of art as they were sailing vessels, beautiful examples of the exceptional craftsmanship of the Elves. Strangely, there were also two Gondorian vessels docked in the port, the White Tree of Gondor emblazoned upon their sails.

The tower’s circular meeting chamber was beautifully decorated. Open arched windows facing the west allowed for a steady breeze of sea-wind that kept the company cool as they waited. Soon after their arrival, a wiry middle-aged man entered the room. He had long black hair, a thinning beard, and high cheekbones. “This is Lord Calphon of Dol Amroth,” Círdan introduced the man, “and he has come a long way by sea to seek our assistance.” Lord Calphon stood and smiled, shaking their hands one by one. His eyes were equal parts relief and worry.

“It would be easier if I started at the beginning,” Calphon explained as he sat down at the table, worriedly fidgeting with his clasped hands. Círdan made a gesture to the nobleman as if to give him the floor, and Calphon told his tale. “It started but a few 3 months ago: I had a peculiar dream, the most vivid dream I’ve ever had. In this dream, I saw a beautiful island in the wide ocean, and I longed with all my heart to go there. I saw ruins of ancient Númenor that sprawled across the island, reaching even deeper below the waves. The moment I awoke, I knew that it was not a simple dream. But that was not the only dream I had.

“I continued to dream of the island and its secrets for months. To this very day, I have visions of its temples and ruins. I did not believe the island could exist, because we in Gondor are taught that Númenor sank beneath the ocean in its entirety. I’d heard of the wisdom and foresight of the Elf-lord Círdan, and thought that if any should know of the great ocean of Belegaer, it would be the Elves who sail its seas. So I took my ship, the Dawn Star, and the fastest ship from the fleet of Dol Amroth, the Silver Wing, and ventured here in the hope Círdan could lend his wisdom.” He nodded to Círdan, who turned to address the heroes.

“I have been assisting Calphon in interpreting his dreams, and have come to the conclusion that the island in his visions is but a sunken peak of Númenor. That land indeed drowned beneath the waves when the Valar unleashed their wrath upon the Númenoreans. But I believe its highest peaks may have survived its Downfall. It cannot be coincidence that Calphon, one of Númenorean blood, dreams of his ancient homeland.”

The heroes listened to Calphon’s story and the wisdom of Círdan with great interest. Once Círdan had finished speaking, one of the heroes stood and politely asked, “Even knowing of the island’s origin, finding it in the open ocean would be quite an undertaking. Of what assistance can we be on this venture?”

Círdan walked to the chamber’s open windows and looked out to the Gulf of Lune and the harbor of Mithlond. “This will be a long journey, and while I cannot see what dangers Calphon should face, I sense that great peril follows in his wake. I have not the power to command you, but should you desire to assist, I would ask that you sail with him and help him reach the island from his visions. I sense the utmost importance in this quest.”

The heroes looked among themselves for a time, but there was no argument or debate. The urgency in Círdan’s voice and his fabled foresight were all the heroes needed. They nodded to one another in agreement. “We shall accompany Lord Calphon on his voyage,” one of the heroes stepped forward and spoke. “But, we have not a vessel of our own.”

Círdan smiled and his eyes shone bright, as though he knew the heroes would accept. He bid the heroes follow him, and exited the chambers with eager steps, the company following close behind. They accompanied the Shipwright down many flights and through white archways, until they came at last to the docks of the Havens. Sunlight danced on the water’s surface, and seagulls sang over the Lune. “Behold!” said Círdan, motioning to the nearest dock.

A beautiful Elven ship lay anchored in port. It was white, with folded wings on its sides, and on its prow was carved a majestic swan. “I envisioned this vessel long before Calphon reached out to us,” the Elf-lord said, placing his hand upon the side of the ship with care. “It was built for a voyage of paramount importance, but has never yet left the Gulf of Lune. I believe this is the journey for which it was built. From here on, this ship shall be known as Oloroitarë, the ‘Dream-chaser.’ I give this ship and its crew to you, the champions of Gandalf and Elrond, to keep you safe in your journey. There is another vessel docked in this port, the Nárelenya, which you may also find useful, should you need it. These ships, and those of Lord Calphon, shall be your fleet.”

The Dream-chaser’s strength and beauty were second to none. The heroes thanked Círdan with all their hearts, humbled by the greatness of the Shipwright’s gifts. “We shall not fail in our quest,” spoke one of the heroes, bowing low. “Nor shall we fail to keep safe the gifts of the Havens.”

“I do not doubt it,” Círdan replied, smiling. And with that, preparations were made for their long voyage…

Completed: “I don’t see any more of them,” one of the heroes shouted, looking out over the great sea for any sign of black sails. The Corsairs had pursued them across many leagues of ocean. To see the horizon with no signs of the enemy was a great relief to the heroes, and to the crew.

“I don’t understand,” Calphon said quietly. “Gondor is a hated enemy of the Corsairs of Umbar, ‘tis true. But why would these Corsairs pursue us for so long, and so far?”

“I’m more concerned with the fact that they were so far north to begin with,” the hero chimed in. “We were only several days out from the Havens when we first spotted them. It can’t be a coincidence,” she concluded. “They must have followed your ships from Dol Amroth.”

Calphon’s eyes widened, and he was stricken with concern. “What? But, I hadn’t seen any signs of them in my voyage north…” He gripped the ropes of the ship tightly, his knuckles turning white. “…It pains me greatly to think that my actions may have put the Elves of the Havens in danger. I hope that Cirdan will forgive me.”

The hero comforted Calphon with a smile. “Don’t worry. All this confirms is that our journey is not in vain. The Corsairs must have pursued us this far for a reason. Our aim should be to discover that reason. Let us find the island from your dream, and see for ourselves what secrets it holds.”

The Fate of Númenor

Start: The sky was bathed in a beautiful sunrise, the bright orange sun rising over the peak of the mountain just as Calphon had described. “Land ho!” a sailor shouted, and the fleet buzzed with activity. The island was large, dominated in its center by the peak of what must have once been a tall mountain. Deep in the island’s dense jungle were broken towers and ancient ruins.

“So, it does exist,” Calphon whispered as he reached the bow of the ship, looking out to the island with great relief. “I’m glad I did not lead us to the middle of the Belegaer for naught.” The heroes shared Calphon’s relief, but had always suspected the island was real, as the wise Círdan would otherwise not have sent them on such a dangerous voyage. The ships were anchored off the western coast of the island, and the crews lowered small canoes onto the surface of the ocean. The company prepared to disembark and make their way to the shore, arming themselves in case the island proved dangerous, and making sure to take enough rations for several days.

“You should stay here,” one of the heroes told Calphon as they prepared to leave. “You’ve done your part in helping us find the island. Now is the time for us to do ours.” Calphon shook his head and refused, determined.

“No, I must go with you,” he explained. “I may not be able to lead us once we are on the island, but I’ve spent the better part of a year envisioning this day. I need to set foot upon that shore and see the ruins of Númenor for myself.”

The heroes looked amongst themselves with worry, but none could bring themselves to refuse Calphon’s request. “We know not what secrets or dangers the island may hold,” one of them said. “But if this be your will, we shall honor it and protect you.” Calphon nodded without deliberation.

The company boarded the smaller vessels and set forth, rowing in the direction of the uncharted shore.

Completed: Exploring the uncharted island was exhausting, but it was the onslaught of the faithless undead that made the company’s travels truly perilous. Making their way deeper and deeper into the island, they’d finally come to a building of note – an imposing shrine, tucked into the side of the mountain.

As soon as they crossed the threshold of the shrine, they felt the presence of something dark and evil. Tapestries and statues, faded and ruined from years of disrepair, depicted the evil Morgoth as a great and powerful being. “We in Gondor know the tale of Númenor’s glory and downfall; that in the dark days before Númenor’s destruction, many faithless Númenoreans worshipped Morgoth,” Lord Calphon explained, examining one of the foreboding statues. “This must have been one of the temples erected in his worship.”

They searched the shrine extensively, but ultimately it proved fruitless. With many questions unanswered, the company began to lose hope that the shrine was their true destination. Wishing to continue their exploration of the island, they began to leave, but Calphon insisted they stay. “Wait! We mustn’t go yet… I… I remember this place, I think…” He ran his hand along the far wall, as if attempting to remember the secrets the stones themselves held. “I remember… The sound of a hammer upon the anvil… The heat of the forge…”

The company looked amongst one another with concern, approaching Calphon cautiously. The nobleman’s eyes were closed as he placed his ear upon the wall, listening closely. “Lord Calphon?” one of the heroes said after a moment, placing a reassuring hand on Calphon’s shoulder. The nobleman startled as though waking from a dream, and he turned towards the heroes with a shocked expression. “There’s something here!” he exclaimed. He walked several paces to another section of the wall and placed his hand on the stones.

To the company’s surprise, the stones gave way, and the wall opened outwards as if upon invisible hinges, a door leading into a hidden passageway. Wide-eyed and wordless, Calphon entered the passage, the heroes close behind. The corridor was narrow and dank. They soon found themselves descending a flight of steep stairs, deeper into the darkness of the temple. Finally, after many steps, they came to a small chamber with a raised altar in its center. Two candelabras stood on either side of the altar, ancient and unlit. On the altar lay a large key of black iron.

“A key?” Calphon said, taking the key in his hands, a puzzled expression upon his face. “I don’t understand. I sought the answer to this mystery, but all we have found on this island is another riddle.”

“Perhaps the Elves of the Havens will have the answer,” one of the heroes suggested. With no sign of a matching lock anywhere on the island, the company made their way west, to the coast

Raid on the Grey Havens

Start: The voyage back to the Grey Havens was long, but not nearly as perilous as the adventure to find the island from Calphon’s dream. Despite the fleet’s distance from familiar stars, without Corsairs hounding their every move, it was a relatively simple matter to head northeast until they reached the coast of Middle-earth, following it north to the Gulf of Lune. The heroes were constantly on the lookout for black sails, but none were seen along their journey. Finally, they reached the safety of the Grey Havens, and were welcomed by the ringing of bells and elves singing over the gulf.

On the evening of their arrival, they were brought to the meeting hall once more, and they celebrated, for their quest had been accomplished. The Elves bid them tell of their journey, and the company obliged, although Calphon remained silent for much of the tale.

Círdan took great interest in the company’s story, as they told of their voyage to find the island, and of their exploration of the ancient ruins of Númenor. “I’m not sure how I knew where to look,” Calphon said of his discovery in the shrine to Morgoth. “T’was as if… as if I was remembering something from my past, from a long time ago.” He reached into his doublet and pulled out the mysterious black key, which he’d placed on a thin chain around his neck, and set it onto the large table in the center of the council. “This strange key is all we found on the island. We thought that perhaps the wise Elves of the Havens would know what significance it holds.”

The Elves examined the key closely for some time, and Círdan stroked his beard in contemplation. Finally, Galdor, one of the wisest in Círdan’s council, broke the silence. “It is surely Númenorean in design, and yet there is something odd about it. I know not what lock it might open.” Calphon sighed, feeling hopeless. Galdor handed the key to Círdan, and as soon as he took it in his hands, a shudder coursed through his body.

“There is an unwholesome quality to this key,” he said, turning the black key over in his hands and staring at it as though attempting to look through it. Before he could examine it further, they heard a commotion on the watch towers. “The sea-watchers!” Galdor shouted. The heroes rushed to the tall windows overlooking the gulf. To their dismay, they could see Corsair ships advancing from the west, their black sails difficult to see under the cover of night. Arrows red with fire began to fill the sky, and skiffs rushed toward the docks.

The chamber erupted into chaos. “Corsairs! Corsair raiders are upon us!” Elves and Men shouted outside the tower, and the sounds of battle boomed like a storm around them. The smell of burning wood wafted in from outside. Círdan ordered Calphon and the other Elves to make their way to safety before turning to the heroes and asking for assistance. “They’re burning the ships in the harbor!” he exclaimed, distraught. “We must prevent them from destroying the fleet!” Nodding in agreement, the heroes drew their blades and ran to join the fray.

Completed:

The battle was hard fought, and several ships were lost in the flames. But with the heroes’ assistance, the Elves were able to turn the tide of the battle and repel the Corsairs. The Corsair leader, a hardened captain named Sahír, ordered a full retreat, and their ships fled quickly west out of the Lune.

The Elves put out the remaining fires and took stock of what had been lost in the raid. “Corsairs have never been seen this far north. What purpose did attacking the harbor serve?” one of the heroes asked aloud. “They had not the numbers to take the Havens.” There was a murmur of agreement at first, until one by one they realized their folly. The heroes thought about their voyage to the island, and how the Corsairs had seemed to know of their plans, pursuing them far into the Belegaer.

“Lord Calphon!” a voice among them shouted, and they ran back into the tall tower overlooking the gulf, weapons still drawn. With haste they flew up many flights of steps, until finally they reached the quarters of Lord Calphon, bursting through the door.

They were too late. The nobleman lay slain on the floor of his chambers, a pained expression upon his face. He had a deep wound in his chest, as though skewered by a sword. Several of Calphon’s bodyguards, along with a few Corsairs, were also killed in the struggle. The mysterious black key, and the thin chain upon which it hung, was missing. A three-pronged hook was latched to the base of one of the open windows, and a long rope trailed down to the sea below.

“We have no time to lose,” one of the heroes spoke after a moment of shock and mourning. “The Corsairs have taken the key. That is why they retreated: they’d already accomplished their goal.” The heroes gave their final regards to the nobleman from Dol Amroth, and went with haste to the Dream-chaser. There, Círdan was assessing the damage done to his greatest work, and to the other ships in the Elven fleet. When they gave him the news of Calphon’s murder, he shook his head with dismay.

“You must pursue them, as fast as the wind can take you. I give to you the helm of the Dream-chaser once more. I’m sure Calphon’s crew would give leave to let you captain his ships, in his stead.” His eyes shone bright as the stars above. “The road ahead will be uneasy, and I know not where it ends. But that key is at the heart of things, that much is certain. Find it, and discover its purpose!” The heroes nodded and departed at once, in search of the artifact, and in revenge for Calphon.


Na’asiyah slid her knives back into her bandolier, disgruntled. They’d accomplished their goal, but Sahír had completely ignored her plan. She and a small team of her best raiders had taken a rowboat and snuck up to the Elven towers under the cover of the evening mist. With their skill in stealth, they should have been able to infiltrate the tower, subdue the Gondorian, and grab the artifact without notice. Instead, the moment they had reached the tower, they heard bells and sounds of battle.

With all of Mithlond alerted to their presence, Na’asiyah’s job had became much more difficult. The nobleman’s bodyguards were well-trained, and several of Na’asiyah’s raiders had been lost in the fray. In the end, they had been forced to slay the Gondorian in order to get the key. She’d hoped to capture the nobleman; to make it look like he had simply vanished, so they could have made a clean getaway. But thanks to Sahír’s attack, that option had been impossible.

As soon as the Stormcaller and its fleet were out of sight of the Havens, she stormed into the Captain’s quarters, arms folded across her chest. “With all due respect Captain, what happened out there? Attacking the Havens was our plan of last resort. I thought we were going to sneak in and retrieve the artifact, not start a damned war.”

Captain Sahír was sitting in his chair, legs raised and crossed on his table. He looked exceedingly pleased with himself, smiling as he turned the black key over and over in his hand. “Na’asiyah,” he said casually, “We are Corsairs. We do not sneak about as thieves in the night. The sea is ours. Those who would share it must tremble to see our sails on the horizon.”

“Captain, did you not choose me to be your first mate? If you were going to ignore my advice, the least you could have done was warn me. Now we have stirred the hornet’s nest. We could have vanished in the night, and been leagues from the Havens before they even knew the key was gone. Now they will surely pursue us with all the speed they can muster.”

Sahír’s smile diminished, and his eyes met Na’asiyah’s with a sinister glare. “My dear Na’asiyah, are you afraid of them?”

“Of course not, Captain,” she said calmly, her eyes narrow. She’d questioned the wisdom of Sahír’s plan, but she had no qualms about spilling blood, if it be her Captain’s will. “I just hope that your prize was worth the lives of the sailors we lost.” She left with a curt nod, closing the door to Sahír’s quarters behind him. The sailors on the deck looked to her for orders, as they often did when Sahír was preoccupied. Seawind coursed through her thick hair, and she felt a moment’s reprieve from strife and anger. “Well? What are you waiting for, you lousy lot?” she shouted to the crew, hotly. “We’ve got ships to outrun! Full sail ahead!”

Flight of the Stormcaller

Start: The Dream-chaser and her fleet departed at once from the Grey Havens, sailing swiftly on a fortuitous wind. Calphon’s men toiled with renewed vigor, filled with fire and vengeance over the death of their lord. Their foe had a considerable lead, but the heroes swore that the Corsairs would not escape justice.

By the time the rising sun was visible on the horizon, the Dream-chaser and her fleet had left the Gulf of Lune and turned south. The Blue Mountains loomed over the coast to the east. “Given the speed of our pursuit, we will surely be upon them soon,” one of the heroes surmised. “Our target is the ship we saw at the Grey Havens – that is where their captain retreated after the battle.”

“But they will not be sailing alone,” said another. The sailors and soldiers in the company nodded in understanding, ready for battle.


“Enemy ship sighted!” The shout came from a raider high atop the Stormcaller’s main mast. The entire crew was now echoing the alarm, taking their positions and preparing for battle.

Na’asiyah made her way to the quarterdeck, pushing through the sailors in her way. “Don’t just stand there, you fools!” she shouted to the crew as they parted for her. “I want three of you on each oar and eyes to the north! Signal the rest of the fleet! Make sure they are ready for battle!” The crew snapped-to and raised their voices in a rhythmic shanty as they pulled the oars.

The captain was at the helm, wearing his usual smile, sea-wind flowing through his dark hair. If he had heard the crew’s shouts of alarm, he did not look worried. Na’asiyah took the narrow steps two at a time, running to the ship’s edge. The raised deck gave her a perfect view of the northern horizon. Sure enough, a white ship was in swift pursuit, its sails bulging with wind at its back. Her dark eyes narrowed.

“Already they are on our tail,” she said with disdain, quiet enough to mask her concern from the crew, but loud enough for the captain to hear.

“They are fierce sailors, I’ll give them that,” Sahír noted. “But they are no Corsairs. Their corpses will litter the sea-bottom before the end.”

Na’asiyah strode to the helm and leaned against the railing, her arms crossed over her chest. She had lived most of her life under Captain Sahír’s command, and she could not remember him this bloodthirsty. Not that he had ever been gentle or soft-spoken, but his brutality had always been… purposeful. Deliberate.

She gave her captain a piercing gaze, and they locked eyes. “When are you going to tell me what the key opens?” she asked, for what seemed like the hundredth time since they sailed from Umbar.

“When you are ready,” he barked. It was the only reply he ever gave her. She took a dagger from her bandolier and ran a finger along its edge, deep in thought. Sahír had taken their fleet far to the north, farther than they had sailed in her entire life. He’d told the crew that they were to follow a Gondorian ship sailing out of Dol Amroth, a ship he somehow knew would be heading north along the western coast, and still she had no idea where he’d learned this information. It wasn’t until they saw the Gondorian ships with their own eyes that Na’asiyah and the rest of the crew believed the captain was telling the truth.

Perhaps Sahír was right. Perhaps she wasn’t ready. Despite following his orders for years, she’d doubted him. “Do not toy with me, captain,” she said, sheathing her dagger. “I understand you have a plan. I simply want to know what we’re getting into.”

Sahír laughed heartily. “War, my dear.” He grinned. “We’re getting into war.”

Completed: The chase was longer than either party had anticipated. Although the heroes had quickly gained on the Stormcaller, before the voyage was over, the weather had changed for the worse. Harsh winds and rough waves slowed their progress, and other Corsair ships harassed them at every opportunity, blocking their passage and forcing them into battle. With every setback, the Dream-chaser prevailed, much to the dismay of the Stormcaller’s crew, who cursed the heroes each time their white sails appeared on the horizon.

After many days, traveling as fast as the wind could take them, the heroes finally caught up to the Corsairs, sailing around the Cape of Andrast at the southern edge of the western coast. A terrible storm wracked the seas and threatened to sink both fleets. Flashes of lightning splintered across the sky, and waves as tall as hilltops crashed into the bow of every ship that dared to round the cape. When the skies finally settled, the mast of the Dream-chaser had begun to splinter, and its sails were torn. Luckily for the heroes, the Stormcaller was also damaged. Both ships remained sea-worthy, but neither would be outrunning the other for some time.

“Get ready to board the Corsairs!” one of the heroes shouted from the bow of the ship. Those who were in fighting shape lifted their swords high in the sky and began to sing, their voices echoing across the cliffs facing the water.

The Thing in the Depths

Start: With the squall still raging all around them and the Dream‑chaser and her fleet damaged from their long pursuit, boarding the Stormcaller was a risky maneuver, and grappling with the ship would be even more difficult. The heroes decided that their best course of action would be to take control of the Stormcaller, subduing its crew while their other ships remained a safe distance away. Command of the Dream‑chaser was given to Calaerion, an Elven sailor who had journeyed with them from the Grey Havens. Beneath the ship, the sea rumbled, though most of the crew scarcely noticed, and those that did paid no heed, their attentions turned towards the Stormcaller and its crew.

“Remember, we need the key they stole from Lord Calphon,” one of the heroes announced. “More than that, we need to know the key’s purpose. If anyone knows, it’ll be their captain. So we must take him alive, if possible.” United in purpose, the crew took positions on the Dream‑chaser’s starboard side, grabbing ropes to swing across. Their ship drifted into position as the Raiders on the Stormcaller prepared for battle. Blades rose over the Belegaer, and shouts rang out: “For Lord Calphon! For the Grey Havens!”

Completed: The battle against the Raiders had been swift and fierce, but it was the terrifying attack of a monster under the waves that truly set the heroes on edge. Forced to join forces with the Corsairs they had sworn to put to justice, it took all their combined skill and strength to save the Stormcaller from sinking. Finally, the monster succumbed to their blades, a number of its many arms dismembered. Slowly it sank back into the depths of the ocean, never to be seen again.

Turning their attention to each other once more, the Corsairs and the heroes parted slowly, realizing their truce was at an end. “Lay down your arms,” one of the heroes commanded, weary from the battle but still willing to fight. “Give command of this ship to us and we will spare your lives.” Several of the Corsairs who were still in fighting shape spat on the deck of the ship, swearing that they would never surrender. Both sides had suffered losses, and the Stormcaller seemed barely sea-worthy, but the Corsairs were prepared to continue the battle.

But, to the surprise of all, the captain threw his cutlass onto the deck and bowed.

“I fear that we have started off on the wrong foot!” he said with a charming grin. “Please, allow me to introduce myself.” The heroes looked at one another, confused, but allowed the captain to speak. “I am called Sahir, and I am captain of this vessel you intrude upon. This is my first mate, Na’asiyah,” he continued, motioning towards the woman at his side. She had a dusky complexion, with long black hair in twisting, matted locks. A pattern in ink covered her arms and cheeks.

“Captain, what are you doing?” she asked quietly, her dark eyes narrow, still holding her knives at the ready. She’d anticipated the captain to command his crew to fight to the death. The last thing she expected was for Sahir to paylay with the enemy.

Sahir gave her a toothy grin in return. “Aren’t you always advising me to use caution when outnumbered? Now come on, put those toothpicks of yours down and let’s have a friendly conversation.” Confused, Na’asiyah nonetheless followed her captain’s orders, dropping her knives to the ground. The other members of the crew followed suit.

The captain turned his attention back to the heroes, gesturing to his crew, “There, you see? We have laid down our arms. Time to fulfill your end of the bargain.”

The heroes looked at one another, concerned. “I don’t trust him one bit,” one of the heroes said at once. “Neither do I,” another responded, “but he’s surrendered and unarmed. We are honor-bound to take the crew alive and unharmed.” The other heroes nodded in agreement. They began to take the Corsairs into custody, binding their wrists and arms with rope. Many of the Corsairs struggled and cursed the heroes, but none were willing to disobey their captain’s order.

The Dream-chaser circled back and the two ships were grappled together by rope, and wooden planks were lowered to allow the prisoners to cross onto the Elven ship. The Stormcaller was too heavily damaged to sail on its own, but with enough hands on oars, the two ships together could set forth. The Corsairs were brought into a makeshift brig beneath the deck of the Dream-chaser, and much to their surprise, were treated with respect. They were given fresh fruit, and clean water to eat and drink, and their wounds were tended with care. Na’asiyah and the other Corsairs were amazed by the care their hated enemies showed them. No Corsair crew would ever show such mercy, and Na’asiyah expected no better from Gondorians and their allies.

It quickly became clear that they had to find land soon, in order to repair the Dream-chaser’s mast, which made dreadful splintering noises each time the wind picked up, and looked ready to snap at any moment. They debated heading north to the coast, but weren’t sure if they could make it in time. Sahir, who overheard their conversation, was eager to assist. “There’s another way,” he offered. Na’asiyah raised an eyebrow, unsure of the captain’s plan. “An island I know of, to the east. Not far from here in fact. Plenty of trees for lumber, and food enough for both our crews. What say you?” He grinned.

“And why should you help us?” one of the heroes asked, uncertain of Sahir’s intentions.

“Do you not remember the monster that tore apart my ship?” Sahir spat. “I have a stake in this too.”

The heroes debated for a short time. They felt that they couldn’t trust the Corsair at his word, but their options were limited. If there indeed was an island nearby, they could gather supplies and use the time to interrogate Sahir about the artifact he had stolen from Calphon. “Fine,” they decided. “Give us the proper heading and we will follow it. Then, we’re going to have a discussion about what happened at the Havens.”

“Of course,” Sahir replied with a sly grin. “I am looking forward to it.”

The Temple of the Deceived

Start: The heroes weren’t sure what to expect after following the heading given to them by Captain Sahír. But sure enough, just before high noon the next day, an island emerged from a curtain of rain on the horizon. With the exception of the western beach facing the fleet, the island’s coast consisted of steep cliffs and sharp jetties. Dotting the landscape were overgrown ruins peeking out from the cover of the trees, and atop the highest plateau, a grand temple.

“This looks familiar,” one of the heroes said under his breath, and the others agreed – it was all too similar to the island from Calphon’s dream; the island where this all began. “Let’s anchor the ships off the shore, and then we’ll get answers.” They sent a few sailors in skiffs to scout ahead, search the shore for any danger, and set up camp. Then, the heroes went below deck to speak with their prisoners.

The Corsairs were still bound below in a small hold. Some were grateful for the provisions and bandages given to them; others remained spiteful and looked at their captors with hateful eyes. In the back of the hold, sitting with their arms bound, was Captain Sahír and his first mate, Na’asiyah. “I take it from the commotion above deck that you’ve found the island,” Sahír said as the heroes entered the chamber. “Believe me now?”

“We’ll believe you when we know the full story,” one of the heroes responded, holding up the black key. They’d taken custody of the artifact after searching Sahír. “You followed us all the way to an island in the middle of the ocean. An island where we found this.” The hero holding up the key followed the captain’s eyes as he gazed at the artifact. “What does it open?”

Captain Sahír shrugged his arms and smirked. “Was the ancient lore and deep wisdom of the Elves not enough to figure it out?” The heroes shifted uncomfortably, angry at the captain’s mockery of Círdan and the Elves, but unable to refute his claim. “Alas, I was only sent to recover the key and the chest it opened. I know nothing of its contents,” he responded. Na’asiyah turned her head and glowered at her captain.

“So you came all this way, pursued us over the wide ocean, and spilled this much blood… And you don’t even know why?” One of the heroes said angrily, his knuckles white.

“If I had asked politely to hand over the key,” the captain mocked, “would you have obliged?”

The heroes ignored Sahír’s sarcasm and continued with the issue at hand. “This new island you’ve led us to – it is much like the island where we found this key. It bears temples and ruins from an age past. What was your true purpose in bringing us here?”

“Alright, alright,” Sahír appeased the hero. “You win. Come, bring me up on deck, and I’ll tell you what I know.” The heroes brought both Sahír and Na’asiyah upstairs to the edge of the ship. “See that big temple?” Sahír asked, unable to point but motioning with his head towards the large temple to the east. “Somewhere inside lies the chest the black key opens.”

The heroes–as well as Na’asiyah–were stunned. “You’re sure?” one of the heroes asked. “He’s lied before. He could have been lying this whole time, for all we know,” another hero added.

“Aye, and I could have led you into a maelstrom, or a fleet of my best Raiders. But I led you here, instead,” Sahír responded. “All I ask is that you bring me and my first mate along with you when you search the island.”

“And why should we do that?”

The captain smirked. “Because I’m the only one who knows where the chest is inside that temple, and I’m assuming you don’t feel like scouring every inch of the place while fending off the cursed dead. So, if you’ll excuse me,” he said, walking back towards the hatch leading below deck, “I’ll be catching up on some well-deserved rest while you make camp.”

The heroes watched carefully as he was led below deck by one of the other sailors. After a few moments, Na’asiyah broke the silence. “I feel obliged to thank you for saving our ship.” She paused and took a deep breath before continuing, as though the words were difficult to say. “You could have destroyed the Stormcaller and thrown us into the depths of the sea if you wanted. But you didn’t.” She locked eyes with one of the heroes, her brows furrowed with doubt. “Why?”

“That is not our way,” one of the heroes responded, and the others nodded in agreement.

Na’asiyah lowered her gaze in thought, and her fierce exterior diminished for just a moment. Doubt and remorse were etched in her expression. Finally, after seeming locked in thought, she nodded to the heroes in understanding, and turned to follow her captain below deck.

The heroes discussed their options, but in the end they had little choice. If the island was anything like the one from Calphon’s dream, it would be crawling with ancient dead, and Sahír’s knowledge of the chest’s location was too valuable to leave behind. When it came time to explore the island, they cut both Sahír and Na’asiyah’s bonds, and gave them back their weapons. After all, two more warriors as skilled as they would surely come in handy. Grinning, Sahír led the way into the jungle…

Completed: The island was covered in dense jungle, and it was difficult for the heroes to find their way. The ancient overgrown ruins were as dangerous as the jungle itself, inhabited by cursed undead who attacked the intruders with an unnatural malice. Finally they had defeated the guardian who held the key to the eastern temple, and made their way across the island at last to the temple’s vast halls.

Though it was decayed from an age of corrosion and disrepair, the temple was grand and ornate. The adventurers could tell that, at one time, it must have been a beautiful-and terrible-place. Golden candelabras lined the halls, the doors were bejeweled with finely-cut gemstones, and the tapestries that hung from the walls were once bright and colorful. Now, the temple’s chambers were drenched in water, and the deeper they delved, the more crumbled and flooded it became. After traveling through the temple for some time, they reached a chamber with an opening in the wall, a crevasse that served as the entrance to a wide cavern. The walls were no longer worked stone like the rest of the temple, but dripping cavern walls, overgrown with vine, with mushrooms growing at their feet. Not a hundred feet further, they reached a wide precipice overlooking what appeared to be a pool of water. A pillar of light shining from the broken ceiling refracted off the surface of the water and illuminated the chamber in a brilliant blue hue. “Ah, here we are,” Sahir said, taking off his leather coat and his boots, one at a time.

“What exactly are you doing?” one of the heroes asked, confused.

“Oh, did I not tell you?” The captain gave a mischievous smirk. “We’ll have to go swimming, deep underwater, to get to the chest. Well? What are you waiting for? Not going for a swim in all that armor, I hope,” he chuckled, and without warning, leaped into the pool of the grotto.

The heroes sighed and began to disrobe, as well. “I wonder what else he’s neglected to tell us…”

The Drowned Ruins

Start: The water of the grotto was dark, and flecked with ice. With much of their armor removed, the adventurers felt vulnerable and naked in its chilling grasp. The first thing they had done was tie a line of cord to a stalagmite near the entrance, so they would not lose their way navigating the depths of the grotto, but the cord’s length was not infinite, and it would surely run out before they reached the secret chamber Sahír spoke of.

Sahír motioned for the group to follow, and they swam to the opposite side of the chamber. With a deep breath, Sahír dove underwater, and the party quickly followed suit, making sure not to lose sight of him should he try to lose them. He led them down a long tunnel near the floor of the cavern. As the tunnel stretched on, their throats began to tighten and their lungs begged for air. Strange plant life and stranger fish inhabited the caves, sea kelp pulling at their limbs as they swam. At last, they saw the water’s surface as the tunnel turned upwards, and they emerged from the water, shaking from the cold, and coughing for air. Sahír looked about for a few seconds before marching off, threatening to leave the heroes behind if they didn’t keep up.

“Is he always like this?” One of the heroes asked Na’asiyah, who had lingered behind, not knowing the way as Sahír did.

“The captain believes in inner strength, not help from others,” she explained, coldly. “If one is too weak to survive alone, help is not deserved.”

The heroes walked beside her, with Sahír leading the way ahead. “That must be a hard and lonely way to live, unable to seek assistance from others,” one of the heroes said. Individually, the heroes were strong and capable of great feats, but many times they had relied on the leadership of great captains, the wisdom of the Elves and the Istari, and the skilled hands of healers. Without this aid, they might have perished long ago.

Na’asiyah looked at her feet for a moment, her jaw clenched. When she spoke, her voice was harder. “It is the only way I have ever known. To fight. To sail. To be free.”

One of the heroes shook her head. “I am sorry, but you will never truly be free, not while the Corsairs live under the thumb of Mordor.” Na’asiyah glowered back, eyes narrow.

“We do not do the bidding of Mordor,” she said sharply, “We fight the Gondorians because they are our enemy. They want nothing more than to stamp us out like a nest of ants.”

“That is the will of Mordor, not Gondor,” the hero responded adamantly. “It is the servants of Sauron who breed war, death and hate.”

Na’asiyah considered the hero’s words, trying to understand. Her whole life, she had been told that the Gondorians and their allies were cruel and terrible, that their only love was in war, and that the Corsairs must be strong if they wished to remain free. But in just a short time, she’d experienced something very different. Those she’d met were skilled in war, but did not relish battle. They enjoyed each other’s company, and fought to protect those they cared for. They mourned the loss of Lord Calphon, and yet they spared the Corsairs’ lives and even saved them from certain death.

A few minutes later, the tunnel opened up into a larger cavern. Sahír stopped in his tracks, looking about. “What’s wrong, lose your way?” one of the heroes called ahead.

“Ah, shut your trap,” the captain snapped back. “It’s not as if I’m going from memory here.” Before the heroes could protest, a low-pitched wail echoed throughout the chamber, and the sounds of splashing and scraping surrounded them.

“We’re not alone,” one of the heroes said quietly. They drew their weapons and forged on.

Completed: The escape from the grotto was a blur. Angry, lost, and set upon on all sides by the cursed undead, it was a wonder they all were able to make it out at all. They struggled to find their way, running and swimming as fast as they could to try and catch up to Sahir, but he was too far ahead. Worse yet, the captain had removed the cord they had used to mark their passage, and they were lost in the grotto for some time. By luck or fate, they finally found the entrance. Without discussion, they took a moment to rest, kneeling and leaning against one another to catch their breath and dry in the sunlight outside the grand temple.

“I knew we should not have trusted him!” one of the heroes gasped, repeating what was on all of their minds.

“Now what are we going to do?” another asked, looking towards Na’asiyah. “… And what about her?”

“What about me?” Na’asiyah snapped at the hero, angrily. “Need I remind you that he left me to die back there?”

There was a long pause before Na’asiyah spoke again, softer this time. “I knew there was something wrong about this voyage from the beginning. Sahir knew about the Gondorian nobleman, but did not tell us how. He said we were to follow him, but did not tell us why. He knew what the key was for, but he did not tell me what it opened.” She took a deep breath, and added, “And he told you that he was ‘sent’ to retrieve it, but I have never known the captain to serve anyone but himself.”

The heroes considered her words carefully. “Na’asiyah, I don’t know what your captain is plotting, but please, help us stop him. Cirdan warned us about that key. Whatever is in that chest must be of great value, to go to these lengths to retrieve it.”

Na’asiyah nodded, although she remained unsure. “I’ll help you get to Sahir. I owe you that, at least. And besides, I have some questions to ask him myself.” She rose to her feet and started walking back towards the western coast, and the heroes followed.

When they broke the treeline, they saw that the Stormcaller was gone, and their camp on the beach was destroyed. The bodies of several sailers who were cutting down trees for wood to repair the mast lay dead on the ground. All but one of the canoes they had brought to the shores had cracks punched through their hull, and the last was missing entirely.

“He really did us in,” one of the heroes said after they’d examined the camp. “But at least our fleet is still afloat. And look there!” she exclaimed, waving out to the west. A skiff was rowing towards them, led by Calaerion, the Elf they’d put in command of the Dream-chaser.

As they rowed back to the Dream-chaser, the Elves reported what had happened. “We saw him taking one of the canoes from the shore and heading this way, but before we could apprehend him, several of the Corsairs we’d taken prisoner broke their bonds and attacked us,” he explained. “Fortunately, none of our crew were slain in the struggle, but they managed to escape on the Stormcaller. We didn’t want to leave you behind, so we stayed in the hope that you would arrive. We were about to send a search party when we spotted you on the coast.”

“Sahir must have sent one of his birds back to the ship once he reached the jungle,” Na’asiyah explained. “I’ve seen him do it before, when we were stranded on an island off the coast of Harad. He always has a trick up his sleeve.” She looked to the eastern horizon as the sun began to set. “The Stormcaller can’t be far, as damaged as it was. But there is a Raider fleet gathered nearby – we’d planned on meeting up with them once we’d recovered the artifact. He’ll have signaled them by now. Even if your ships were in top condition, you wouldn’t be able to take them. You’re going to need help.”

The heroes agreed with Na’asiyah’s advice, and took command of the fleet. “Alright then,” one of them ordered resolutely, “We’ll repair the ships as fast as we can… and then, we head to Dol Amroth.”

A Storm on Cobas Haven

Start: The heroes were beyond relieved when they finally entered the inlet of Cobas Haven. Tall lighthouse towers guided their path through the bay as the dawn sun painted the sky with shades of orange and pink. The castle of Dol Amroth loomed over the coast to their starboard side, on a high promontory that overlooked the bay. It was a beacon of hope to all who looked upon it. Even Na’asiyah seemed in awe of its strength and beauty, struck in silence for much of the voyage.

The bay was filled with Gondorian ships – some simple fishing vessels, others built for war. Horns and bells sounded in the towers around them as the Dream-chaser docked. The sailors immediately set to work, continuing the repairs on their fleet, which became a much simpler task when docked in friendly waters. The heroes asked to speak with Prince Imrahil, and they were brought into the castle at once. The prince was eager to hear their tale.

The heroes entered the grand hall of Dol Amroth, a large chamber with many open windows and a balcony that overlooked Cobas Haven. The walls were decorated with banners depicting a silver ship with a swan-prow on a blue sea. Servants brought them fresh food and water, and tended to their wounds while they rested. Na’asiyah half expected to be treated with disdain or contempt, but–to her surprise–the moment the heroes told the knights that she was an ally of theirs, she was given the same respect and courtesy as any other in the heroes’ company.

Prince Imrahil came to the heroes as soon as he was given word of their arrival in the castle. Although he greeted them with joy, he grew concerned when he did not count Lord Calphon among them. “Where is Lord Calphon? I was given word that he had met with you and Círdan at the Grey Havens, but no message has come since. When I was told of your arrival, I expected he would be with you.”

“Alas,” one of the heroes said mournfully, “Lord Calphon is not among us. He was slain during an attack on the Havens.” Na’asiyah could see the pain and mourning in Imrahil’s face, and she felt naive and ashamed to have contributed to the battle at the Havens. Clenching her fist, she met Imrahil’s gaze with her own.

“Tell me everything,” Imrahil said. “Spare no detail.” The heroes obliged, and together they explained to the prince everything that had led to their arrival in Dol Amroth – their discovery of the black key, the attack on the Grey Havens, their pursuit of the Stormcaller, and their exploration of the undersea grotto. Imrahil listened carefully, especially to Na’asiyah’s story, for it was one of the first times he had ever spoken to a Corsair as an ally. Both Imrahil and the heroes were surprised to hear that Na’asiyah’s original plan did not involve the killing of Lord Calphon.

“So you believe that Sahír has summoned the Corsair fleet?” Imrahil asked at last, and Na’asiyah nodded with certainty.

“Sahír is a cunning pirate, but whatever is in that chest has him obsessed. He will seek to protect his prize through whatever means necessary.” Na’asiyah now understood the kind of person her former captain truly was. “He never really did care for any of us. It pains me that I never noticed. He stoked our anger with lies, told us of crimes against our people that were never committed, tricked us into thinking we fought for our freedom,” she explained, her words sharpened with anger. “In truth, we only ever fought for him, to solidify his dominion over Umbar.”

Prince Imrahil nodded, placing a hand on Na’asiyah’s shoulder. “He has not won yet,” he said. “We will muster our fleet and head south at once. If it is a battle Sahír wants…” Imrahil began, but his sentence was interrupted by the sound of horns over the bay. Shouts erupted from outside: “Corsairs! Corsairs from the south!” The heroes ran to the balcony and saw an approaching host of black ships.

“He’s sent his fleet to intercept us while he escapes to Umbar,” Na’asiyah said. “It’s what I would have done. Ironic that the first time he would heed my advice would be after I have left his service.”

Imrahil commanded his captains to prepare for battle before turning once more to the heroes. “Aid me in defending my city, and I will make sure your ships have a clear path to catch Sahír.”

One of the heroes clasped arms with Imrahil, concurring. “We would have defended Dol Amroth either way.”

“I’m coming with you,” Na’asiyah declared, her expression purposeful. “I believe the Corsairs are in need of a change of leadership.”

The heroes were beyond relieved when they finally entered the inlet of Cobas Haven. Tall lighthouse towers guided their path through the bay as the dawn sun painted the sky with shades of orange and pink. The castle of Dol Amroth loomed over the coast to their starboard side, on a high promontory that overlooked the bay. It was a beacon of hope to all who looked upon it. Even Na’asiyah seemed in awe of its strength and beauty, struck in silence for much of the voyage.

The bay was filled with Gondorian ships – some simple fishing vessels, others built for war. Horns and bells sounded in the towers around them as the Dream-chaser docked. The sailors immediately set to work, continuing the repairs on their fleet, which became a much simpler task when docked in friendly waters. The heroes asked to speak with Prince Imrahil, and they were brought into the castle at once. The prince was eager to hear their tale.

The heroes entered the grand hall of Dol Amroth, a large chamber with many open windows and a balcony that overlooked Cobas Haven. The walls were decorated with banners depicting a silver ship with a swan-prow on a blue sea. Servants brought them fresh food and water, and tended to their wounds while they rested. Na’asiyah half expected to be treated with disdain or contempt, but–to her surprise–the moment the heroes told the knights that she was an ally of theirs, she was given the same respect and courtesy as any other in the heroes’ company.

Prince Imrahil came to the heroes as soon as he was given word of their arrival in the castle. Although he greeted them with joy, he grew concerned when he did not count Lord Calphon among them. “Where is Lord Calphon? I was given word that he had met with you and Círdan at the Grey Havens, but no message has come since. When I was told of your arrival, I expected he would be with you.”

“Alas,” one of the heroes said mournfully, “Lord Calphon is not among us. He was slain during an attack on the Havens.” Na’asiyah could see the pain and mourning in Imrahil’s face, and she felt naive and ashamed to have contributed to the battle at the Havens. Clenching her fist, she met Imrahil’s gaze with her own.

“Tell me everything,” Imrahil said. “Spare no detail.” The heroes obliged, and together they explained to the prince everything that had led to their arrival in Dol Amroth – their discovery of the black key, the attack on the Grey Havens, their pursuit of the Stormcaller, and their exploration of the undersea grotto. Imrahil listened carefully, especially to Na’asiyah’s story, for it was one of the first times he had ever spoken to a Corsair as an ally. Both Imrahil and the heroes were surprised to hear that Na’asiyah’s original plan did not involve the killing of Lord Calphon.

“So you believe that Sahír has summoned the Corsair fleet?” Imrahil asked at last, and Na’asiyah nodded with certainty.

“Sahír is a cunning pirate, but whatever is in that chest has him obsessed. He will seek to protect his prize through whatever means necessary.” Na’asiyah now understood the kind of person her former captain truly was. “He never really did care for any of us. It pains me that I never noticed. He stoked our anger with lies, told us of crimes against our people that were never committed, tricked us into thinking we fought for our freedom,” she explained, her words sharpened with anger. “In truth, we only ever fought for him, to solidify his dominion over Umbar.”

Prince Imrahil nodded, placing a hand on Na’asiyah’s shoulder. “He has not won yet,” he said. “We will muster our fleet and head south at once. If it is a battle Sahír wants…” Imrahil began, but his sentence was interrupted by the sound of horns over the bay. Shouts erupted from outside: “Corsairs! Corsairs from the south!” The heroes ran to the balcony and saw an approaching host of black ships.

“He’s sent his fleet to intercept us while he escapes to Umbar,” Na’asiyah said. “It’s what I would have done. Ironic that the first time he would heed my advice would be after I have left his service.”

Imrahil commanded his captains to prepare for battle before turning once more to the heroes. “Aid me in defending my city, and I will make sure your ships have a clear path to catch Sahír.”

One of the heroes clasped arms with Imrahil, concurring. “We would have defended Dol Amroth either way.”

“I’m coming with you,” Na’asiyah declared, her expression purposeful. “I believe the Corsairs are in need of a change of leadership.”

Completed: The battle was fierce and the Corsairs relentless. Driven by hatred and malice, the raiders spared none in their thirst for blood. Many Gondorian ships were destroyed in the battle, rammed by cruisers with iron serpent-prows, set aflame by fiery arrows, or crushed by heavy stones thrown by trebuchets.

In the end, however, Dol Amroth stood triumphant, as it had many times before. The Dream-chaser and her fleet broke through the Corsairs’ blockade, heading south with all of the speed they could muster. One way or another, this game of cat-and-mouse would end soon.

The City of Corsairs

Start: It took several days before the Dream-chaser and her fleet arrived at the coast of Umbar. With the fleet’s sails restored, they were able to harness the full strength of the wind. By the time they spotted the first watchtower off the coast, they were exhausted. But they knew they had no choice but to press on, for they were deep in Corsair waters, and there was no turning back.

“There!” one of the Elven sailors shouted from the bow of the ship. He pointed to the south, his keen eyes spotting something through the night fog. “The Stormcaller! We’ve caught it!” The crew prepared for battle, and a surge of adrenaline coursed through them. They gained quickly on the Stormcaller, and could hear the ruckus shouts, cries and curses coming from its raiders.

It wasn’t long before alarms sounded from the coast. The watchtowers had spotted them. It was now or never.

Completed: Sahir staggered in pain as he was dealt the final blow, leaning against a stone pillar for support. He clutched the black sword in his hands with surprising strength for one so mortally wounded. “No… The sword… is mine…” the captain stammered. The words came slowly for him, every breath wracked with pain.

One of the heroes approached Sahir warily, the captain’s blade was different from the cutlass he’d carried before. it was etched with runes and forged from a black metal the heroes did not recognize. Judging from its size and material, it was clear that this blade was the object in the black chest – the artifact Sahir was after all along. He turned towards Sahir with pity in his eyes. The captain had never been a good man, but the heroes could see now that his obsession for power had been warped by the artifact. Having traveled with the captain for a short time, they could see the madness had changed him. “What is this blade, truly?” the hero asked. “How did you know where to find it?”

Sahir laughed, as he always had in the face of death, although this time it didn’t seem like he would escape his fate. “You’re asking the wrong question,” he croaked, his sentence interrupted by bloody coughs. “Not what, but whose.”

“Whose?” The hero repeated. he recalled Calphon’s visions and looked upon the blade once more, examining its dark runes. “This blade was not forged by Elves, Dwarves, or Man. Who forged it, then? Was it forged in old Númenor?”

Sahir grinned, backing away to the edge of the balcony overlooking the sea. “Aye, it was forged an age ago, by one who was very wise, deep in the counsel of the King, and skilled in the art of smithing.” The heroes’ eyes widened, as Lord Calphon had recounted to them the tale of the fall of Númenor. “It was forged by Sauron.”

The heroes finally understood. The Dark Lord’s power corrupted all it touched, and Sahir was no exception. “We cannot let the Enemy get ahold of this,” one of the heroes said, stepping forward and motioning to the blade. “Sahir, hand it over.” The captain shook his head and inched further backwards, leaning dangerously close to the edge of the balcony.

“No!” he barked, clutching the blade closely. “I will not hand to you the instrument of my doom,” he said, grimacing. He leaned over the edge of the balcony and looked down to the sea and the sharp rocks below. “I am a Corsair. I shall have a Corsair’s death,” he exclaimed, grinning wickedly. “And I shall take the sword with me into the depths!”

With that, Captain Sahir closed his eyes and threw himself over the balcony, falling into the ocean below. The heroes ran to the edge, but they were too late.

“So ends Captain Sahir of Umbar,” one of the heroes declared in pity for the fallen captain. Neither the captain’s body, nor the sword he carried, could be seen below the waves crashing against the rocks. They pushed the black chest over the edge of the balcony, and threw its matching key into the ocean as well, so as to remove all traces of the artifact from the city.

“The voyage of the Dream-chaser is at an end as well,” one of the heroes added. The shouts of the Corsairs were still near, and they were deep in enemy territory with little hope of escape.

Epilogue: The Downfall of Númenor


Aearon ran as fast as he could down through the temple halls, his greaves pounding against the stonework. The knight had been tasked by Elendil with a sacred duty, and had little time to carry out his mission. The agents of the Deceiver would be at the temple shortly, and he needed to reach the chamber Elendil had spoken of before them. He kicked open a pair of wooden doors and continued through the temple, revulsed by the statues and tapestries of Morgoth that lined the halls. How had his people fallen so low? How had they turned so arrogant that they turned their backs upon the Valar and declared was upon Aman?

There was little time left. The ships of the Faithful would be leaving soon, before anyone knew what fate awaited the King’s men. Finally, Aearon descended into the lower hall, slowing to a halt when he saw that he was not alone.

The robed figure was closing the lid on a long black chest. Aearon could see the shimmer of a black blade just as the chest closed. He then heard it clasp and lock. The robed man turned to Aearon and smiled, holding the chest under his arm. Beneath the smile, Aearon could see something sinister.

“You should not be here,” The knight said, drawing his long blade. The other man shook his head.

“I am an acolyte of the King’s royal advisor,” the man said, placing a long black key into the pouch on his belt. “You are the one who has come to this holy place without permission.” His smile became a scowl, and he drew his dagger from his sleeve. “Trespassing upon this sacred ground is treason.”

Aearon was running out of time. The chest-and its contents- had to be destroyed. The vile artifact could not be allowed to leave Númenor. Aearon blocked the passage upstairs with his body waiting for the opportune moment to strike as the man with the dagger approached slowly. Then, the world shook to its core.

Both men were startled by the quake, but Aearon used it to his advantage, lunging at his foe in an attempt to take him by surprise. The scuffle ended quickly.

Despite his skill in swordsmanship, in the chaos of the shaking earth, the robed man was able to slip his dagger underneath Aearon’s chain shirt, stabbing him in the gut. The rolled and grappled on the ground for a few moments before the quake ceased and the man was able to stand again. He picked the chest up off the ground and ran for the exit.

Aearon cursed his fate. He was unable to destroy the artifact, and his wound was bleeding profusely. But not all was lost. Opening his clenched fist, he examined the black iron key the robed mad had placed in his pouch. Aearon had been able to rip the pouch from the man’s belt during the brawl. The acolyte seemed none the wiser. Wounded, but able to walk, Aearon climbed the steps to the main chamber and started back to Elendil’s ships. They were anchored off the eastern shore, far enough from land that he would have to take a canoe and row out to sea. Perhaps Elendil would know what to do with the key.

It was then that Aearon saw the punishment of the Valar from the temple’s open balcony.

The world shook again. The sea churned and the wind became a torrent that collapsed buildings in its wrath. From the west, waves as high as mountaintops crashed into the island, obliterating the city below the temple, at the base of the mountain. He could hear the screams of men and women as the city flooded and the island began to sink beneath the waves.

The knight knew he wouldn’t be able to make it to the ships in time. So, he decided on another course of action. Running back into the chamber where the black chest first lay, he placed the key upon the pedestal and prayed to the Valar with all his heart: “Let none discover this key save for one of the Faithful, of true Númenorean blood. Let its whereabouts be forever shrouded from the servants of Morgoth.”

Hoping the Valar would hear his plea, he sealed the entrance to the chamber and watched as Elendil’s ships sailed to safety in the east.

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