The Secession War
Copyright Eric Dubourg ©2001
Edited by Joe Mandala for The Guild Companion
THE SECESSION WAR
Ârûkhôr declared the secession of Northern Bellakar with the coming of the new year on 1 Dahlat 1551, and declared himself the rightful King of Bellakar in place of his brother Imruzîr. Assisted by Balakkhâd (his father's advisor, who became the new asapthubêth of Narîk-zadan and the principal advisor to the king), he removed every man who was faithful to his brother, and replaced them with his own at crucial posts in the government and army. Hazaj Tollin was chosen as the new capital of the realm. The army was reorganized in anticipation of an upcoming war with the South. But the new King, Imruzîr II, decided not to initiate hostilities, wishing to find a peaceful solution by waiting. The change of rule in Mardruak and half of Felayja was accepted by the populace largely with indifference, and there was very little unrest against the new ruler.
News came to Nîlûlondê of this usurpation in late Narwain. King Imruzîr II reacted by sending the young asapthubêth of Korlea, Sakalthôr (a distant cousin of the Tumakveh line) to Hazaj Tollin to order his rebellious brother to end his secession. Sakalthôr was received coldly in Hazaj Tollin, and his mediation was completely unsuccessful. Ârûkhôr sent the diplomat back to Nîlûlondê saying, "Tell my brother that I am not his dog, and take no orders from him. Tell him to relinquish the throne, or I will make war on his people."
The preparation for war began immediately in both camps. Military activity was limited, however, to the Batan-an-Sakal line, as both rulers wished to find powerful allies against each other. Balakkhâd was secretly sent to Umbar to create an alliance (ending the neutral policy of his great-grandfather Êruhil) in order to gain the powerful assistance of the Corsair fleet.
In Umbar the Council of Captains was dominated by Castamaïtë, the Admiral of the Ethir Fleet, and the architect of raids against Lebennin and Harondor from his base at Gobel Mirlond. Knowing very little of Ârûkhôr, the Council was at first skeptical. Balakkhâd requested, in name of his king Ârûkhôr, the military assistance of Umbar against the South Kingdom. "And when the upcoming war in Bellakar is won and the realm is reunited, you will have a strong and trusted ally against Gondor, and every successor of King Ârûkhôr will provide you aid against our common foe."
Having Bellakar as an ally was an excellent reason for Umbar to become involved, but the Council of Captains debated for six months, carefully considering the two claimants, before replying favorably to Ârûkhôr. "But be aware, Great King of Bellakar - our foe is for now only your brother in Southern Bellakar, as a truce has been made with Gondor. We are reluctant to break that truce, but still we wait for the glad day when we shall reclaim our home."
Imruzîr II replied by requesting assistance of Gondor on Manjaz 1551. He sent his daughter and only child, young Bêlkali, overland to the court of King Vinyarion, daring the dangers of the Dune Sea and of Urdwan raiders (some in the pay of his brother). He sought both military aid and the protection of his daughter in Gondor. She arrived six months later in Osgiliath, and was promptly received by Prince Minardil, ruling Gondor in place of his father who was leading a campaign in Harondor at the time.
Gondor was currently facing the renewal of a Southron alliance, led by an erstwhile ally of Gondor - the Cosrah. To counter the threat, Vinyarion granted a twenty-year truce to Umbar and stripped manpower from frontiers as far as Eriador to battle the armies of Temer Cosrah in the rocky valley of the Lesser Grave River in Chelkar. He won in that battle the title Hyarmendacil II, "The Second Southern Victor", and returned to Osgiliath on 10 Cerveth 1552, where Princess Bêlkali was waiting.
"Your ally is in grave turmoil", said the young princess, "An usurper is in power in Northern Bellakar, and he is about to sign an alliance with Umbar. He will then surely start a war against my father and our people." In the King's Court, none were immune to the impassioned pleas of Bêlkali, and Prince Anardil, the second son of Vinyarion, was moved more than any. He instantly fell in love with this princess of a far land.
The truce with Umbar, however, prevented any direct action. "While we appreciate the difficult situation Bellakar is in," said the King, "we cannot engage in a war which might throw us into conflict with Umbar. You are yourself welcome to remain with us here until the conflict is resolved." Bêlkali was disappointed by this response, but was not surprised. Anardil was disappointed as well, and begged his father to reconsider, to no avail. In fact, King Vinyarion was sure that Umbarean spies had infiltrated his court, and was convinced that any official action would drive Umbar to open war with Gondor – a situation Vinyarion desperately wished to avoid. He was not insensitive to the princess's pleas, but for political reasons he was forced to reject any official involvement.
Despite her disappointment, Bêlkali decided to remain in Osgiliath. There was a chance, perhaps, that there were some in Gondor who would hear her plea and offer their help to her father, especially among the merchant companies that had interests in Bellakar. Then, on 22 Cerveth 1552, the princess was called to meet once again with the King Vinyarion, this time under cover of night and in a shroud of secrecy. Prince Anardil was also present, and King Vinyarion authorized him to begin recruiting for a small secret fleet to aid King Imruzîr II of Bellakar. The squadron was to be commanded by Prince Anardil himself at his own request. Many in Gondor would support this expedition, just as the Bellakarâni had aided Eldacar during the Kin-Strife. The expedition was strictly unofficial, and the Gondorian military was not directly involved.
In the meantime, Balakkhâd officially signed a mutual assistance treaty with Umbar on 22 Kuralid 1552, enabling the small Northern fleet to seize control of the sea-lanes between Mardruak and Felayja. Gondorean spies reported this to Vinyarion, who realized the complications for the secret expedition to reach Southern Bellakar. Nevertheless, Vinyarion, listening to the pleas of his son Anardil, allowed the plan to go forward, but kept the expedition from sailing until they could slip undetected through Umbarean and Northern Bellakarian waters.
Anardil was forced to wait until the next year, when a commercial fleet from the Seven Lands arrived. They reported that the sea was rough, and that most of the Umbarean and Northern Bellakarian patrols had been withdrawn to wait out the stormy season. Seizing this opportunity, the expedition (comprised of 30 small warships) left Pelargir on the night of 15 Girithron 1553 disguised as a Thânî Hazad merchant fleet. Directly commanded by Prince Anardil, the squadron sailed for Ûrêzâyan using roughly the same route as Zagarthôr had during the War of the Last Alliance. Anardil was cautious traveling through the seas controlled by Umbar. The squadron was preceded by a few small scout ships, which steered the Gondorians through several Umbarean patrols who were out despite the season.
Once they reached the seas off of Mardruak, Anardil was forced to attack one of Ârûkhôr's patrols. Disguised as pirates, the Gondorians destroyed the patrol, capturing two ships, sinking three, and allowing two to escape. The crews of the captured ships were left on an island, and Anardil fled southward. The expedition arrived in Ûrêzâyan in 12 Kuralid 1554, under Gondorian colors. The civil war had been raging full-scale for two months.
The city was besieged by the Northern Bellakarian fleet (accompanied by a small Umbarean contingent), which was commanded by the asapthubêth of Narîk-Zadan - Balakkhâd. As the city considered surrender, Anardil fell upon the enemy fleet, crushing the invaders. The defenders took heart, and ten days later they counter-attacked, pouring out of the city and driving their enemies from the walls. Those of Ârûkhôr's men that survived surrendered, except one group that attempted to flee. To a man they were cut down, and the body of the asapthubêth Balakkhâd was discovered among them.
This disaster reached the ears of Akhôrahil a few months later, and he charged Pharuztamar, another warlord of his Thôn an-Khârlôkh army, and the emissary of Balakkhâd to his lord in Ny Chennacatt, to take command of the Sapthîn in replacement of Balakkhâd. Pharuztamar was ordered to support King Ârûkhôr against his brother.
During the siege of Ûrêzâyan, King Ârûkhôr was leading an army of 20,000 into the Felayja hills, burning every farming village and razing important cities (like Kas Torath on 10 Mizir). Informed by his scouts of the incursion, King Imruzîr II took command of the Army and marched to stop his brother in 28 Mizir near the city of Saraj.
This was the beginning of the Battle of the Felayjan Hills, an indecisive battle that lasted sporadically for two months, until the arrival of Ûrêzâyan soldiers and Gondorian marines (commanded by Prince Anardil). The newcomers tipped the scales in favor of the Southerners and helped to drive Ârûkhôr northward out of the hills. The pretender escaped, however, with much of his army intact. After the battle, Prince Anardil was presented to the Tumakveh King.
"The courage of your forefather Zagarthôr during the Last Alliance, as well as the courage of Êruhil's men during our Kin-Strife, are not forgotten in Gondor, and I am glad to be here to repay the debt that Gondor owes to Bellakar. I am Prince Anardil, son of King Vinyarion." He unsheathed his sword, presented it to the King, and said, "My sword is yours, Tumakveh Imruzîr."
Everybody, including Imruzîr II, was greatly impressed by the courage and prowess of the young Elendili, who would less than fifty years later become the surprising new King of a reunified Bellakar.