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EVEN Ara-non the Merchant can "be saved"


   1 After seven years of wandering, I Ara-non of Gondor came to the west and settled near Mithar, in the city of Lindol.  2 In seeking a simpler life, apart from being a warrior, I desired meaning and purpose above all other things; over the bloodshed and strife which our worn torn lands had become.
   3 Some said it was a fantasy of collected imaginings, and hope filled misstellings; yet, had I not been there myself - maybe even I would not have believed the wondrous tales.  I shall endeavor to pass on to you tales of those days I lived through.  4 But, I Ara-non a weary man from Gondor, once called the Captain of the Third Watch from on the Second Wall; now exhaust my hand in giving an account before the lowly and kings alike.  5 These are the chronicles of Nadan Om’dir and the message he proclaimed to the people of the Mithar’s western lands.
   6 On behalf of King Korale, the son of King Nuthcorlan; the third to reign over Mithar have 7 I transcribed these words into the common tongue of Sinquinto.  8 For many in the West no longer spoke the Gondorian speech, as it was seldom used in those days, 9 of that province of Eriduah.       10 The second King, Legandriel decreed a new tongue for his own people be devised, because he foresaw the rise of those who would follow the Nephilim teachers.
   2 In the days, when all the elves of 2 Middle Earth had fled and only a handful chose to remain behind, they crafted a new society; one toward becoming great teachers unto men.  3 The greatest of those elven forefathers, was not of those who stayed behind, but he who was later called the Last of the True-Born.  4 Even though he had half-twin siblings, they were far diminished from the elven glory of old.  5 That first born after the Great Departure possessed the very presence of God’s grace that was once only seen in the Vala themselves!  6 Nadan was the son of the Watcher Galadir Om’rond, and the Lady Valinada.  7 Nadan Om’dir was the most extraordinary from among men or elves or wizard kind alike.
   8 When most children were at play it was Nadan who could be found sitting on the steps of the Great Hall among its teachers, inquiring of their laws and ancient lore.  9 Asking and answering profound question well beyond his years so that even the most learned among the teachers were most confounded.  10 He had attended their Watchtower, called Varlendur (which meant ‘Tower of Strong Friends), 11 and rose quickly through their five degrees of its Organizational doctrines and practices.  12 Nadan Om’dir was the youngest to ever have done so, at the age of eight years old!  13 Yet his charm was lacking the self-esteem of greatness, for he aggregated the example of humility before his leaders.  14 Some became aggressive and haughtily against the child and constantly reminded him that he was a mere servant.

   15 The day Nadan turned twenty he became a priest of Varlendur for his father, Galadir had bade to him wait out of respect for the old teachers and a greater acceptance of his choices.  16 As all Mitharian priest had done before him; after their fifth degree of training, had become student-scribes, Nadan too became a Caregiver of the Sacred Watcher’s Urn.  17 He was taught somber funeral rites of those who had been so interned.

   3 Seven years after the Great Departure of Elvendom from the world of men, a new area dawned in Eriduah.  2 An envoy of dwarves from Mount Jebul came from the east to the port city of Mithar.  It was none other than Kwandol himself, king under those mountains.
   3 Speaking with that host was Vendumar Swancloak, our own lord and king; who stood chief among those founding fathers.  Before him, Kwandol Ironhammer offered his hand in peace, desiring to cast a renewed alliance between the two peoples.  4 For, said did he, “If a remnant of elven sons could conjure forth the courage to broker peace, the sons of dwarves would bend their knee to that cause as well.  5 The Great Wars of gloom are but things in both our ancient past, and a new area must be forged.  For the time is now ripe for such deeds.”
   4 In honor of that august day, and their acceptance; those dwarves eagerly agreed to craft a Great Hall to mark such an occasion.  2 They quarried stone blocks from the hills of the Blue mountain range.  3 Their masonic skills fashioned a single, chambered dome-house into the likeness of two greeting hands.  With their fingers interlaced, cupped and laying on their side; one dwarven and the other elven, it stood high and fair.  4 Supporting the two touching thumbs were spiral pillars.  Etched in both tongues, about the raised rib were the words, 5 “TWO DIVERSE PEOPLE FORGED BY HARDSHIP TO BECOME BROTHERS OF HOPE.”
  6 Entrance was gained through a single round, divided door which saw a brief hallway lead down into a sunken floor-well.  7 In the middle of that polished floor was the gold-inlaid, seven-pointed star of Mithar.  8 From its center, looking back over three rows of raised, benched-seats were mithrel silver-inlaid vines upon the curved wall.  9 Sprouting like leaves, from the vines, were Ax and Hammer seals of the Dwarven Kingdom.  10 Seven bowls of fire stood raised upon stands, one on each of the points of the star.  11 Two incense altars met the hallway’s entrance, and the domed roof was vented with air holes in-between the interweaving of the carved vine design.
   12 All who entered that noble chamber stood in awe of the workmanship.  Three years in the making.  The dwarves had poured their pride, and hope-filled desire for a lasting peace into all their labors, with Kwandol inspecting every aspect of its detail.  13 It was indeed a thing of beauty, a gift worthy of praise and remembrance.  Upon completion, the Mitharians celebrated for three days with their new friends, one for each year the dwarves toiled in crafting the Great Hall.   
   14 Representatives of both people met in that ornately gifted house, coming together under one roof as a single people.  Deliberating matters of state and mutual trade.  15 For the people of Mithar: the Elven Watchers, the Nasilian Bedouins and their Nephilim offspring; all offered up their lives to the cause of peace.  They freely traded, learned and taught their knowledge of the heavens, the seasons, fishing, and archery skills.  16 Likewise did the dwarven sons of the Blue Mountains offer up hunting rights in their southern forest called Kinderval.
     17 King Kwandol stationed his brother, Lagros as Ambassador to reside near the domed meeting hall.  Lagros would be the eyes, ears and voice of the King; ever sending word of news or call for aid.  So it was, of how that Great Alliance was forged and maintained in the abundance of friendship.  18 Both people gained much from the other, and questioned why true peace had taken so long in coming.

   19 However, such joyous days are not long endure it would seem.  For, misunderstandings frequently arose between the two cultures.  Arguments subsided.  But their differences always simmered beneath the surface, as one was tall the other stout; one fair, the other ruddy with beards.   20 As the years passed away so too did the original founders of the city.  King Korale was the first son to rule who was not of that elder generation, and the era of his father’s ways was fastly diminishing.  21 For the earlier teachers had become priests, devising new manners by which to control the people they first served.  In time, ninety-seven years later to the very day the Great Hall had opened, that peace was snuffed out.
   5 Six days after the last Watcher, Baal’yick Ravenblack died; his body was cremated, and his ashes added to the Holy Urn of the founding families of Mithar.  2 I, Gilmore, great grandson of the Watcher Beirdan and the Lady Holmath, was alive and bore witness to those events as they unfolded in our midst.  3 For the next twenty-four years the differences we had with our dwarven neighbors was no longer a silent matter, and the truth boiled over.
   4 It was two hundred and sixty-four years after the Great Departure, amidst that growing discord, when a prophet arose teaching the end of days.  5 The great urn of our Holy Dead was placed in the Great Hall, and set in the center of the seven pointed star.  6 Their half-bred sons, those Nephilim lords, did fashion images of their long-dead fathers.  7 For, upon panels of bronze they did beat and shape the shrouded figures of those twenty-one elders, who had once watched over the city.  8 Beloved as the sons of God, their children so desired to memorialize them for all time.  9 The Shrouded Ones, as they were later called, lined in standing order were made to cover the inner walls of the Great Hall.  An enchantment was spelled upon them, when by fire light they did seem to move on their own accord.  10 The overlaid panels of the Shrouded Ones hid well the dwarven seal, and its mithrel-vine from view. 
   11 Two days after the installation of the bronze figures, Ambassador Lagros returned from a trip to Jebul.  Upon seeing the Shrouded Ones in person for himself, and no fore mention of their presence, the dwarf cried out in utter horror and disbelief.  12 Lagros ran out of the darkened chamber tearing his outer garment off, pulling out his beard, weeping and falling to his knees.  When his aid rushed to help him and to know why Lagros was so distraught, the Ambassador cried out all the more.  13 Throwing dirt in the air, and his entire face and body cover he wept saying, “Shame and folly!  Cursed and abomination we have become bastard children discarded and shunned.  The house of hope has become a place for the worship of the dead!”
  14 The Nephilim sons were bewildered and in shock of the dwarf’s reaction.  They tried to tell them it was but a memorial for a season of grief.  15 But, when the rest of the Ambassador’s household went inside to see the cause of such uproar, they too came out doing and crying the same as their master, Lagros.  At night fall they gathered all their belongings and returned to Jebul in haste.
   6 On the fourth day, since their leaving, a great host of dwarves arrived and surrounded both the city of Lindol and Mithar.  2 Leading them was King Kwandol with Lagros as Ambassador at his side, Cho-mak Captain of the guards; standard bearers and warriors were at the ready.  Without a word to anyone, he passed by King Korale in silence.  3 The dwarf lord entered the Great Hall to witness for himself if the deeds told him were spoken in truth or not.  Standing beside the Urn, and in front of the new Nephilim King, the dwarf tore his own shirt crying, 4 “What is the meaning of this unholy desecration?”
   5 Korale replied softly, “There was no ill intent presented here, but to give honor for a season to our precious fathers, who birthed our purpose.”
  6 “This worship of the dead is beyond memorializing, as you have also discarded the great seal of our presence here,” Shouted Kwandol!  Always by his side was his pet lion, which the dwarf king kept in tow upon a chain.  7 At his anger, the beast called Thrombel, roared in his master’s defense.  All, but the two arguing leaders remained in the domed chamber, as fright caused the aids of the Nephilim king to retreat beyond the outer porch.
   8 Seeing their very alliance continuing to unravel, with yet another misunderstanding, and no hope of mending, Kwandol asked, “Shall we strive once more?”  9 He shook his head no, “How shall we return to another thousand years of broken vows?  It was our generation who sought, and found that peace shall never be held in this manner between us.  Even after this – abomination – is removed, the tarnish of your true deeds, done with whispers is now fully known to my sleeping ears.  10 Our eyes have been awakened to your ways indeed, for they are unlike your father’s intent.  I fear that all our days are numbered, as mistrust and lies have been seeded beyond the ability of being uprooted!”
  11 The High Priest, Shayma Redhawk who rebutted from the hallway, “It was not us, but your prideful foolishness that brought calamity here with your gathered host and that starved creature, oh king of dirt!”  12 Thrombel roared again and began to lung forward but, the dwarf’s surprising strength pulled him back.
   13 Suddenly a torrent of angry curses and raised voices flowed out of that chamber.  Like the lion’s thunder, the two races outside were bursting into shouting as well.  14 A civil war was on the verge of erupting.
   7 It was in that very moment that another figure intervened between those two feuding kings.  2 A young man known to all set himself apart, and from that day onward divided everyone to new allegiances.  3 It was Nadan, the son of Galadir and the first of the long-lived Nephilim.  4 Both Korale and Kwandol turned to the silence figure.  He stood with an outstretched hand.  To all their amazement the lion, Thrombel was hushed, lay down, yawned and did nothing thereafter.  5 With a calm voice he spoke, to where even the gathered crowds outside could hear him:
6 “Upon a might hill I saw
covered ‘neath the massive waves,
vast oceans crashing upon oceans;
nowhere for a lone raven,
not even branch to rest came.

7 The dead were washed asunder
till the lands reappeared,
and the waters receded;
only then did a handful remain,
they shall bury the waste of thousands.

8 For the world had turned ‘round
beholding the face of their own arrogance;
and a grave shame unto itself,
as pride and vanity were all about.

9 Eating without care or want in lust,
and drinking the filth of such wine,
beyond gluttony’s ripe pleasure
was in everything they did.

10 For disrespect of Eldar ways or peers
fearless in the face of gross sin;
eager to way-lay the innocent,
even among the weak of kin.

11 The Land will be without love
and natural affections – meaningless;
right living will be laughed at
in the face of sick perversions.

12 Men will lie with animals
as if alongside a woman;
and they will neglect their own,
for the forgetfulness of blissful herbs.

13 The world will stumble into the arms
of greed and lust of glory;
all men’s folly will be praised
no shame of your example this day!”
   14 In that moment he became the Prophet Nadan, just as mysterious as the wizards of old.  When he finished speaking, the lion lay on its side dead and the wide-eyed crowds parted without a word for explanation. 
   15 Seeing Thrombel deceased, the dwarf king shouted, 16 “Forgive us oh Lord!”  17 Yet, King Korale’s heart was hardened against such things that day, and banished forever dwarves forever from his city.
   18 As if defeated in battle the gates were opened to the fleeing dwarven people, cursed and exiled.  Kwandol took the body of his pet and bewailed his loss before his bewildered host.  19 Just beyond the statued gate’s shut doors, Kwandol sliced his own throat and bled-out, lying atop the dead lion.  Both beast and fallen king were returned to Mount Jebul and the dwarves were never seen in the Bay city of Mithar again.  20 Thus ended the Great Alliance and began the ministry of the Prophet Nadan Omdir.

  8 Ara-non visited a.....[  8 - 10 WHY are you "trolling" me?]......As she turned and left, the merchant noticed something strange happen.
   11 Several of the Mitharian priest began arguing with a man.  2 Someone said he was a nobleman’s son, another said he was a beggar from the Oasis of Orid.  Whoever he was, he was a teacher of some sort with a following of his own.  3 He was teaching the people with stories of how to live their lives free and unlike the Tower followers and the Pagans of Lindol.
   4 “Nadan is no charmer of words nor a slave driver, like your masters,” was what Ara-non overheard one of his followers admonish a priest with in return.
   5 Then the man spoke up for himself saying, “Men are easily led astray by the greatest deceiver.  For their own hearts mislead them, down paths that the light of day would alarm even a sparrow to take flight.”  6 Such was the manner of his speech.  Because of the murmuring of voices in the crowd and the man’s distance from him he was unable to hear or understand everything that was going on, 7 but Ara-non knew something different was occurring in his lifetime.
   8 Ara-non had never before heard such bold words from anyone before.  Suddenly everyone was pointing at the skies overhead, screaming and running for shelter, even the cover of his merchant’s cart.  9 As birds were falling dead from the heavens like a flooding rain!  They burst upon the ground in pools of blood everywhere, all at the behest of the pointing teacher as he taught his followers.
   10 Ara-non, like everyone else was greatly perplexed by the bewildering events that unfolded in the market that day.  In the frightening silence of the moment, Ara-non heard the man say something like, “ – only a few shall survive that day of God’s great wrath…”  11 Then the prophet Nadan pointed to the skies overhead, in the direction of the tent city of Slavath.  To their great dismay a few of the dead birds came back to life.  Two birds, that lay at Ara-non’s feet, stood up from their own pool of blood and at the man’s word, they flew away unharmed to where he pointed. 
   12 After a few more words, lost to the murmuring crowd, the angry priest summonsed the Tower guards, yelling for the great gates to be closed.  13 The merchants knew then that the disruption had caused the market to be closed early that day.  The Mitharians disliked not being in control of their city.
   14 In gathering up his belongings, Ara-non was ushered along with the flowing mass of people.  Back through the cobbled streets and through the Adjoining Gate to Lindol.  Along the way he caught various parts of conversations as many passed ahead of his cart.  15 It seemed the man called Nadan was indeed a prophet of some report, a healing story teller who condemned the ritual system of Mithar and their every changing doctrine.  Ara-non had never really given their religion much thought before as he was content with just earning coin enough to live.  16 But after today’s events the jewelry maker began to see his world differently for the first time.
   17 Some people passing Ara-non said the man’s ideas were worse than a court jester and others that he had placed a curse upon the king all for the sake of making a name for himself.  Ara-non saw a man of Lindol he knew and called out to him, “Dayiel, Dayiel – what you make of the things that happen in the square today, my friend?”
   18 Helping to push his cart along through the crowds, Dayiel answered, “Oh he is harmless sort, misunderstood by these weak minded fools running like rats.”  19  Dayiel was a sailor and he scoffed, “Nada is very wise Ara-non.  But I fear he is not wise enough to escape the anger of those, petty-priest someday.  His lofty words will be his undoing, I tell you.”  With that they parted ways.

   12 Three days later, the market at Mithar’s main gate was busier than it had been in a long time.  Buying and selling, music and noise, people and livestock abounded much like any other day at festival.
   2 After Ara-non had finished bartering a necklace for a turtledove with an old woman, he turned around and looked into the face of Nadan the prophet.  Ara-non stood speechless.
   3 Nadan said to his followers, while looking at the merchant before him, “Behold, one who shall tell the whole world how God saved him from his sorrows.”
   4 Then, Nadan turned to the quieting crowds about him.  “Illuva-Eru, the creator of all our imaginings and thoughts, did manifest them through his angelic Vala.  For it was, the Vala who sang the music of Eru’s very thoughts into being as it became the world we call Eriduah.  5 Yes - all these things are what we believe.  We are taught these things in both the temples of the city Lindol, and from the Watchtower of Mithar.
   6 “But – that great tale has been greatly twisted in both; for one would have you to worship the Vala with idols, and the other would have you enslaved to their ever changing rituals.  7 No brother should enslave another’s mind or body!
   8 “Listen well when I tell that The One And Always will not always suffer truth to become a lie.   9 For he shall come upon the world with great wrath, like a purging flood shall he wash his creation clean.  With mighty earthquakes and consuming fires shall the wicked maters be cast low,  10 and the slave who seeks Eru alone, shall find him in the still small voice of love.“
  11 By now the city guards and priest were gathering and listening to the teachings of Nadan.  12 Then he added, “Leave all your distractions of this world behind you this day, come, and follow me.  None who follow the manifestation of Eru’s will, shall ever falter in his love.” With that, Nadan passed through the parting guards and priest as his men followed him out the southern gate.

   13 In that moment, even Ara-non abandoned his merchant’s cart, and never once did he ever look back with regret on that day.           14 Thus it was, that even a foolish sinner the likes of Ara-non Om’shular was given hope, for he became the eighth follower of Nadan Om’dir, the healing prophet, who was the manifested Will of Eru.

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