“And now at last it comes. You will give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Aelindur the Queen of Shadows
In the Second Age, Sauron came to the Elves of Hollin as Annatar, Lord of the Gifts, claiming to be an emissary of the Valar. Many believed him, among them Celebrimbor’s sister Ariel, whom Sauron seduced. Soon after his final departure from Eregion, she bore a daughter, Aelindur. Ariel died and the child was brought up by her uncle.
Many years later, when Sauron’s armies seized Celebrimbor’s smithy, Aelindur was captured and brought to Mordor, where she was given a mansion to dwell in by the shore of Nurnen. In its garden she cultivated evil herbs and studied Nature’s lores.
She fled to the East at Sauron’s defeat at the end of the Second Age, and went into hiding. Over the centuries, Aelindur has become almost as evil as her father, if not as powerful. Since she is part Noldo, she is bound to her physical body.
When Sauron fell in the War of the Ring, Aelindur saw an opportunity coming. The most powerful foes — Galadriel, Elrond and Gandalf — departed from Middle-earth. The only current serious opponents are the three remaining Istari, but of these only Radagast resides in northwestern Middle-earth, and his interest is mainly directed to the nature. Pallando and Alatar long since departed for eastern lands. Hence Aelindur would have no significant competitors, or at least so she thought. She also possesses greater knowledge of and talent with of magic than any Elf (save perhaps Lúthien, another Maia-Noldo child). Therefore it is probably appropriate to consider her to resemble a “fallen Galadriel”.
Aelindur possesses the immortality and patience of the First-born, and resides in the ruins of the ancient Númenórean harbor of Lond Daer at the mouth of the Gwathló (a location chosen so that both Dunnish and Southron agents can reach it easily), pretending to be an eremetic Elf. She radiates so much power that she cannot pretend to be a mere mortal. She has hidden most of her abode very well and seemingly lives in a modest cottage. Unlike most of Sauron’s servants, she does not fear the ocean. (Perhaps Ulmo no longer interferes with the events of Middle-earth.) She knows how to sail and she has gone to many places by sea. Here Aelindur prepares her schemes and ponders on reports from her trusted underlings. Occasionally, she has to travel to some important place, since there are vital actions that her henchmen are unable to perform.
Link to the Ballad of Aelindur >>>
Aelindur’s Dark Dreams
Unlike her father, Aelindur possesses neither a state nor an army, but instead relies on her black arts and cunning to compel loyalty in mortals. [The gamemaster can use another literary source as inspiration when preparing this campaign: the Mule in Isaac Asimov’s original Foundation trilogy is to some extent comparable to Aelindur and certain of his methods and talents can easily be moved to Middle-earth.]
Aelindur intends to influence the thoughts and actions of individuals by fell means. She knows some very powerful mind-bending spells. Aelindur desires to throw Gondor into domestic chaos and then seize control over the remnants, using discontent Southron and Dúnadan noblemen as her primary tools.
Aelindur has clandestinely established a variant of Sauron’s old Melkorian cult among Gondor’s nobility. It preaches the coming of a Moon Princess, who will save the Dúnedain from their current decadent ways, reestablish their ancient Númenórean powers and might, with deathlessness for loyal followers. The message is fundamentally the ideology and dreams of the King’s Men of Númenor seven thousand years ago. Aelindur has not forgotten how her father used those ideas to topple the mightiest Mannish realm ever.
Another variant of the cult is successfully preached among the Haradrim, speaking of opposing the Dúnedain and returning to Southron traditions. Eventually, the Southrons would “break the shackles of the Northmen under the leadership of the freedom-giving Great Queen” and “retake what was lost one and a half century ago”.
When the Haradrim revolt under the leadership of her priests, many Gondorian nobles will turn against the King and civil war will ensue. The royal line will perish and many contenders will vie for the throne, causing much hardship for the realm. Aelindur intends to appear as Gondor’s “savior”, usurp the throne, and begin a long-lasting reign.
Rohan’s éoherë is a serious problem for Aelindur, because it is the most powerful cavalry unit in northwestern Middle-earth and the Haradrim are unable to field a matching force. It must be neutralized, and Aelindur pursues several strategies to achieve this. One is to develop a incapacitating horse disease, a scheme which Aelindur would pursue from Lond Daer. She is well-versed in animal and plant lore, and knows some of the secrets behind the Great Plague that the 1630’s of the Third Age devastated much of Middle-earth, so she will probably not have to work for long before finding what she wants.
Another move is to entice the Dunlendings to once again strike at western Riddermark to regain their ancient possessions. She uses Saruman’s method: political machinations and propaganda to ignite the Dunlendings’ ancient hatred for “the Strawheads”.
Aelindur also tries to invent gun-powder weapons. [This idea may feel too modern to suit many gamemasters’ and players’ conception of Middle-earth. It is not important for the plot so feel free to remove it.] Saruman was working on it before he perished and Aelindur has learned of his ambitions when visits to the ruins of Isengard. She believes that muskets and guns will have good effects on battle formations and fortified positions, especially if they appear as a surprise. That research project is undertaken by some discontented Dwarves that have been recruited by the lure of wealth and power, who work in an abandoned settlement in southern Ered Luin.
Troubles in Arnor
Arnor lacks the strength to decisively intervene in a Gondorian civil war because of its small population and the hostility of the Dunlendings in southern Eriador. Aelindur nevertheless seeks to divert the attention of any potential northern allies (including the Beornings of the uppermost Anduin vale and Thranduil). To this end, she has attempted to strengthen the Orcs of Mount Gundabad, in order to make them appear as significant a threat to deter Arnor’s Viceroy from sending an army to the aid of Gondor.
Aelindur has also dispatched agents to look for Dragons in the far north beyond Mount Gundabad. If she could establish contact with such a beast, she might persuade it to strike Fornost Erain at an opportune moment and create a grand diversion for her.
Link to part III >>>