Turning Tides

by Arien-(Valar)
November 9, 2020
Written for the 23rd Anniversary of the Valar Guild

The Inzilmir glided silently out of the port of Umbar and Maldun stood on the bridge shouting orders and watching them executed. He was the captain of the vessel, a sturdy merchant boat that set course due west to master the strait that led away from the bay that had protected Umbar for centuries. It had been home to a fleet that had been the terror of the neighbouring lands for centuries. There the men of the city had built an empire of terror and warfare, on land as well as on sea.

Their main allies in this had been the tall folk with the dark hair and the grey eyes that had come out of the far west. It was they who built the actual city itself, as a base for conquests on the mainland it was said. But they had needed people to populate the new city and invited the local tribes and nomads to move there, promising them food, shelter and gold as payment for their services. And it seemed to work, the two groups melded even though the Numenoreans regarded them as “lesser men”. They contributed a sturdier build and a certain hardiness to their new overlords that made them withstand the harsh weather of the coast and even greater mastery of the sea, for the coastal settlers were great shipbuilders and sailors. On top of that they were experienced and feared in land battles, all qualities appreciated by the new arrivals. And so Umbar had thrived and grown rich and there had been a time where the whole length of the harbour bay was filled with tall ships and small vessels had been travelling forwards and backwards to bring crew and supplies to the ships and it had required great skill to navigate between tides, sea drift and anchored vessels into the open sea.

But now Maldun had straight sailing; no other ship lay there, apart from two or three other merchant boats that were moored to the quay. The rest of the fleet had been called into the big war by the Lords of Mordor. “The traitorous armies of the North and their minions are invading and threaten your lands! Come and join us!” the messengers had said. And the rulers of Umbar had obeyed and sent everything they had had. Bu until now they hadn’t returned nor word had reached the city. Nor had any supplies. It was four weeks now since they had left and the situation grew dire.

So Maldun had decided to take his fathers remaining ship, not fit for military action, and sail himself towards Gondor, towards Pelargir and the fabled and feared city of Minas Tirith to acquire some of the things they needed most – flour, salt, corn, medical herbs and meat - since the fish in the sea grew scarce as they were constantly fished. The fish population needed a break in fishing to recover and Maldun was going to provide it for them.

Maldun found it ironic that he, one of the infamous corsairs of Umbar was setting out not to pillage or raid as had been the tradition in his family for over five hundred years. It would be a first in the history of his family, maybe even in the history of Umbar as a whole. He was not even sure what kind of welcome he would receive in the land that knew his kind only as a plague and infestation, as someone who brought sorrow and pain. He laughed. That description would fit the Inzilmir that had given his name to this vessel for sure. One of Umbar’s finest, Inzilmir had been responsible for several raids on Lebenin, Belfalas, and had even dared into the outlaying lands of Ithilien. Oh well, he would find out wouldn’t he?

With that Maldun focussed his mind on bringing the boat safely to its destination, the handling of the crew and the shouting of orders. A new age had begun.

The End