Copyright Eric Dubourg ©2001
Edited by Joe Mandala for The Guild Companion
After his defeat at the Felayjan Hill Battle, Ârûkhôr returned to Hazaj Tollin beaten but unbowed. He was not yet ready to accept defeat. A reorganization of his realm was in order, and real military support (instead of just supplies and a small support fleet) needed to be cajoled out of Umbar. His spies in Southern Bellakar soon reported that his enemies had a powerful new ally – Gondor, in the person of Prince Anardil. On 22 Ishat 1555, Ârûkhôr sent his son Nîlûzagar (with Balakkhâd's replacement, Pharuztamar) to negotiate with the Umbareans.
The council of Captains learned very soon of Gondor's intervention in the Ûrêzâyan siege and the Felayjan Hill Battle, and upon Nîlûzagar's request, they re-established firm control of the sea-lanes from Umbar to Felayja in order to prevent further Gondorian intervention. When it became apparent that this was an expedition of opportunism, and had no official backing, the Council decided to leave Gondor alone for a time, and further their plans in Bellakar. With the renewed blockade of the northbound sea-lanes to Gondor, Anardil had no way to return home, and no way to let his father know how the campaign had gone. He consequently remained in Bellakar with his ships and men (and with Bêlkali), continuing to fight.
Ârûkhôr was to pay a high price for Umbarean support. In exchange for active sea patrols and the involvement of the Umbarean Battle Fleet in Mardruak, the Council of Captains demanded both that the new asapthubêth of Narîk-zadan (since Balakkhâd was slain) be appointed by Umbar, and that Umbareans should have the freedom to settle in whatever numbers they wished in Mardruak. If the conditions were not met, not only would Ârûkhôr not receive substantial military assistance, Umbar would withdraw completely from the conflict.
Nîlûzagar reported the conditions to his father, who reluctantly accepted them. On 12 Tamun 1555, Abârzagar of Umbar (a relative of Castamaïtë's family) became the new asapthubêth of Narîk-zadan, and with him came many Umbarean settlers.
Three months later, the Corsairs began a campaign against Southern Felayja and Bellazen. They were supported by the full Northern Bellakarian Fleet (which now had Umbarean officers distributed throughout its ships). The campaign was a great success, resulting in the pillage and razing of several coastal cities including Saraj, Tarkhesh, and Sulaj Dar.
To confront this new danger, King Imruzîr II requested that Prince Anardil command the garrison of Ûrêzâyan, and to stop at any price the Corsairs' raids. This was the first time that a Gondorian had ever been asked to take command of a Bellakarâni city, and he was well received due to his reputation for saving the city in the previous year.
This Corsairs' campaign lasted two years (with occasional land war in the villages of Felayja between Hazaj Tollin and Saraj), and was indecisive, because of the skill and the energy of Prince Anardil who was able to secure the Felayjan coasts. He was aided in part by the orders of King Ârûkhôr, whose real goal was the taking of Nîlûlondê – many resources that could have been poured into this campaign were withheld in anticipation of this larger campaign. But the raids drastically weakened the manpower and resources of the Southern realm, in spite of the courage of Prince Anardil's men.
All the while, Ârûkhôr gathered his strength in secret in Hazaj Tollin, preparing for the masterstroke against Nîlûlondê. And soon King Ârûkhôr saw his opportunity to attack. By maintaining strong raids in Felayja and Bellazen, he could led a strong army to Nîlûlondê and take the city before the eventual counter-attack of Prince Anardil's host. Beginning with small probing raids, Ârûkhôr gauged the strength of his enemies. When Southern Bellakar became unable to respond to these raids, the Pretender judged the time to be right.
The offensive against Nîlûlondê began on 12 Kuralid 1558. The raids on the coast and the interior became more intense, in order to drain more and more resources from the defenses of the capitol, while a powerful army, commanded by King Ârûkhôr himself, set out for Nîlûlondê to "liberate" the city from his brother. Imruzîr's scouts, however, marked the movement of this large army immediately, and sent word to the King of the peril at hand. Preparations for a siege were immediately began, and messages were sent to Prince Anardil and to the Lords of the Katredala. The rulers of Bozisha-dar immediately assembled an army of 2000 picked Visi to strengthen Nîlûlondê, and 200 Gusar clansmen to support Anardil in Bellazen
Ârûkhôr met little resistance in his march through the heart of Bellakar, and the siege of Nîlûlondê began on 27 Kuralid 1558. A herald for the Pretender announced that, "If Imruzîr II will abdicate his false claim to the throne of Bellakar, and give himself over as an abased prisoner to his brother the rightful heir, and if the citizens of Nîlûlondê recognize Ârûkhôr as your rightful King, the war will end." The demand was, of course, promptly refused, and Ârûkhôr swore to tear the city to the ground.
As the first battle began, Imruzîr addressed his captains: "Remember the courage of Eruzagar the Warmaker and of Arphazan! Our upcoming victory is dedicated to their memories. Recall the words of King Arphazan – 'never will Nîlûlondê fall again,' - and most especially not to a Usurper!" he added vehemently. Strengthened by his words, the defenders fought bravely, and slew many Northern Bellakarâni while suffering few losses themselves. Two months passed, and the defenders held while Ârûkhôr's army repeatedly threw itself against the walls. Anardil was kept informed of the situation in Nîlûlondê, but could do nothing – the Umbareans has reopened their coastward campaign with furious abandon. Finally, on 12 Sumat 1558, the reinforcements from the Katredala arrived.
Another two months passed before the siege could be broken. With the help of the Gusar, Anardil was able to drive the Umbareans from the coasts. His small squadron of warships harried the remains of the Umbarean expedition northward, then turned back near Hazaj Tollin. Meanwhile, the joined forces of the defenders of Nîlûlondê within, and the Katredala's Visi without, eventually destroyed Ârûkhôr's hopes of taking the city. The invaders were forced to retreat back toward Mardruak again.
Unknown to Ârûkhôr, however, Anardil's small army composed of his remaining Gondorian marines, The garrison of Ûrêzâyan, and the Gusar clansmen made a forced march to the north of Uríd an-Abar, while the defenders of Nîlûlondê and the Visi chased the fugitive invaders. By the time Ârûkhôr arrived near Ayal Coyren, Anardil was already entrenched. All three armies met on the field of battle on 29 Dahlat 1559 in what came to be known as the Ayal Coyren Massacre. It took only four days for the invaders to be destroyed, and Imruzîr himself slew his brother Ârûkhôr on the field of battle as Anardil stood by his side. Indeed, it is said that Anardil saved the life of the Bellakarian King, who was wounded badly in the final fight.
The King was then conducted in safety to Nîlûlondê, while the army under the command of Anardil secured the Felayja Plain. On 12 Ishat 1559, Anardil came to Nîlûlondê, and asked to see the King privately. In that meeting he asked Imruzîr for the hand of Bêlkali in marriage.
"You have my blessing, Prince of Gondor," said the King. "I cannot imagine a more suitable match for my daughter." Prince Anardil married Bêlkali that very day in secret, and renounced any claim to the throne of Gondor, planning never to return to his homeland. He pledged to remain loyal to King Imruzîr II, and returned to Ûrêzâyan to rule in the name of the King.