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Title: Moon Friend: Tales of Isildur (#2763)
Author: ElenaTiriel
Chapters: 6

Archive: Tolkien
Category: The Silmarillion
Description: A series of drabbles about Isildur, highlighting events from his life and death... and even beyond! NEW: The Bane
Published: 10 Jun 2006
Updated: 11 Jun 2006
Type: Drama
Characters: Isildur

Chapter 1 - Moon Devotion

Moon Devotion

'Tis folly, under Isil's full glare, to hazard a foray to defy Nimloth's fiery doom! But urgency prevails, and the moon is shrouded...

I flee into the market-square, concealing the bloodied fruit under my cloak -- only to find throngs of festival-mantled revelers milling about, gathered to witness the moon's creeping blush. They gasp, delighted, as Isil abruptly parts clouds to flaunt the glory of his copper patina.

Sauron's arrogant guards dog my heels... But, unbidden, the citizens of Armenelos casually arrange themselves athwart my pursuers' path. I melt away unrecognized....

Should I survive, I will build monuments to Isil's abetting.


"And Sauron urged the King to cut down the White Tree, Nimloth the Fair, that grew in his courts ...

... when Amandil heard rumour of the evil purpose of Sauron he was grieved to the heart, knowing that in the end Sauron would surely have his will. Then he spoke to Elendil and the sons of Elendil, recalling the tale of the Trees of Valinor; and Isildur said no word, but went out by night and did a deed for which he was afterwards renowned. For he passed alone in disguise to Armenelos and to the courts of the King ... and he came to the place of the Tree, which was forbidden to all by the orders of Sauron, and the Tree was watched day and night by guards in his service. At that time Nimloth was dark and bore no bloom, for it was late in the autumn, and its winter was nigh; and Isildur passed through the guards and took from the Tree a fruit that hung upon it, and turned to go. But the guard was aroused, and he was assailed, and fought his way out, receiving many wounds; and he escaped, and because he was disguised it was not discovered who had laid hands on the Tree."

The Silmarillion, Akallabęth

"An eclipse of the Moon (or lunar eclipse) can only occur at Full Moon, and only if the Moon passes through some portion of the Earth's shadow."

Chapter 2 - Luminosity


The Tower of the Moon stands defiant, light welling through white-marble walls against the darkening hills. I glance back, vowing to return to my proud city, built to honor fair Ithil... now only a diminishing thumbnail.

Again, I have rescued a scion of Nimloth, and the palantír; these I guard closely as I gallop with my wife and sons on the road to Osgiliath. There we will take ship north, to seek my father's aid, now that the lengthening shadow of Mordor threatens fledgling Gondor.

I swear by my patron, the Moon, that I will stand unwavering against the Dark.


When therefore Sauron saw his time he came with great force against the new realm of Gondor, and he took Minas Ithil, and he destroyed the White Tree of Isildur that grew there. But Isildur escaped, and taking with him a seedling of the Tree he went with his wife and his sons by ship down the River, and they sailed from the mouths of Anduin seeking Elendil. Meanwhile Anárion held Osgiliath against the Enemy, and for that time drove him back to the mountains; but Sauron gathered his strength again, and Anárion knew that unless help should come his kingdom would not long stand.

The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

O, swear not by the moon, th' inconstant moon,
That monthly changes in her circled orb,
Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.

Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare

Chapter 3 - The Bane

The Bane

I cannot waver!

Did I not swear by Ithil to oppose unendingly the Dark?

But Sauron is dead! Though at heavy cost — my father, my brother, the Elf-king.

Elrond and Círdan would have me destroy this golden ring, but their urging is misplaced. What harm could come from so innocent a trinket? Hot, heavy — yet strangely reassuring in my hand.

Orodruin's rumbling and the moans of the injured touch my heart. The voices of these meddlesome Elves touch not my reason.

The Dark is defeated. I will take this benign token as weregild for my kin.

I will not waver.


[Said] Elrond gravely. ... 'I have seen three ages in the West of the world, and many defeats, and many fruitless victories.

'I was the herald of Gil-galad and marched with his host. I was at the Battle of Dagorlad before the Black Gate of Mordor, where we had the mastery: for the Spear of Gil-galad and the Sword of Elendil, Aiglos and Narsil, none could withstand. I beheld the last combat on the slopes of Orodruin, where Gil-galad died, and Elendil fell, and Narsil broke beneath him; but Sauron himself was overthrown, and Isildur cut the Ring from his hand with the hilt-shard of his father's sword, and took it for his own.'

At this the stranger, Boromir, broke in. ... 'Isildur took it! That is tidings indeed.'

'Alas! yes,' said Elrond. 'Isildur took it, as should not have been. It should have been cast then into Orodruin's fire nigh at hand where it was made. But few marked what Isildur did. He alone stood by his father in that last mortal contest; and by Gil-galad only Círdan stood, and I. But Isildur would not listen to our counsel.

'"This I will have as weregild for my father, and my brother," he said; and therefore whether we would or no, he took it to treasure it. But soon he was betrayed by it to his death; and so it is named in the North Isildur's Bane.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond

Chapter 4 - Cold Comfort

Cold Comfort

He was Sun-scion to my Moon-friend. 'Tis in Anárion's honor that I plant the sapling of Nimloth, rescued from Minas Ithil, here in Minas Anor.

People thought us different -- day and night -- yet we sprang from the same root and shared much: Gondor's reign, pride in our sons.

Gondor's new king is young by our reckoning -- though older than we when first we sat our thrones side-by-side in Osgiliath's splendor. I find him reserved, and wary of my counsel.

Tonight, I remember my brother and contemplate his Tree, its fountain twinkling under Ithil's last smile.

Tomorrow, I depart for Rivendell.


In Minas Ithil was the house of Isildur, and in Minas Anor the house of Anárion, but they shared the realm between them and their thrones were set side by side in the Great Hall of Osgiliath.

The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

'All know in Gondor that [Isildur, after the Last Alliance] went first to Minas Anor and dwelt a while with his nephew Meneldil, instructing him, before he committed to him the rule of the South Kingdom. In that time he planted there the last sapling of the White Tree in memory of his brother.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond

Meneldil was the nephew of Isildur, son of Isildur's younger brother Anárion, slain in the siege of Barad-dűr. Isildur had established Meneldil as King of Gondor. He was a man of courtesy, but farseeing, and he did not reveal his thoughts. He was in fact well-pleased by the departure of Isildur and his sons, and hoped that affairs in the North would keep them long occupied. [Author's note.]

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields: Notes, Note 10

[Year 2, Third Age:]
Isildur plants a seedling of the White Tree in Minas Anor. He delivers the South-kingdom to Meneldil. Disaster of the Gladden Fields; Isildur and his three elder sons are slain.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age

Chapter 5 - Shadow of Fear

Shadow of Fear

It haunts my sleep.

We creep closer as the river-water near the islet roils. My claws tighten on my bow, but I see no target. Then it rises from the mud, towering high: a piercing eye, burning like the demon sun, spears me from folds of dark wings.

Urgruk and I loose our poison-darts, emptying our quivers. Still the one-eyed horror lurches towards us, arms outstretched. We turn and flee.

Later, we agree never to speak of it -- to swear we saw nothing.

For us Orcs, there's only one thing worse than being thought afeared: to be known a coward...


Isildur turned west, and drawing up the Ring..., he set it upon his finger with a cry of pain, and was never seen again by any eye upon Middle-earth. But the Elendilmir of the West could not be quenched, and suddenly it blazed forth red and wrathful as a burning star. Men and Orcs gave way in fear; and Isildur, drawing a hood over his head, vanished into the night. ...

[He] plunged into the water. ... There suddenly he knew that the Ring had gone. ... His feet found the river bed, and heaving himself up out of the mud he floundered through the reeds to a marshy islet close to the western shore. There he rose up out of the water: only a mortal man, a small creature lost and abandoned in the wilds of Middle-earth. But to the night-eyed Orcs that lurked there on the watch he loomed up, a monstrous shadow of fear, with a piercing eye like a star. They loosed their poisoned arrows at it, and fled. Needlessly, for Isildur unarmed was pierced through heart and throat, and without a cry he fell back into the water.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields

Chapter 6 - Moon Shadow

Moon Shadow

The white-clad master paces, lordly, in his brooding tower.

Someone to lay my bones honorably to rest? But why would a noble treat with such abominations as now approach?

"My lord, we found the jewellery you sought!" The loathsome creature dumps a sack of mouldering bones, a golden locket, and a sparkling circlet.

My Elendilmir!

"Was there no ring?" The white-robed lord frantically paws through the filthy jumble.

"No, my lord."

Enraged, he hurls the empty locket against the moon-shadowed wall.

Sullen silence.

"And the bones?" ventures another orc. "There's no meat worth gnawing on."

"Feed them to the fires!"


Saruman begins to search near the Gladden Fields.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age

'But King Elessar ... began the re-ordering of his realm.... Then all the secrets of [Orthanc] were searched. Many [jewels and heirlooms] were found.... Saruman in his degradation had become not a dragon but a jackdaw. At last behind a hidden door ... a steel closet was revealed. ... In a casket on a high shelf two things were laid. One was a small case of gold, attached to a fine chain; it was empty, and bore no letter or token, but beyond all doubt it had once borne the Ring about Isildur's neck. Next to it lay a treasure without price...: the Elendilmir itself ... that ... had been taken by [Elendil] as the token of royalty in the North Kingdom. Every king and the chieftains ... in Arnor had borne the [second] Elendilmir...; but though it was a jewel of great beauty ... it had not the ancientry nor potency of the one that had been lost when Isildur fled into the dark and came back no more. ...

When men considered this secret hoard..., they were dismayed. For it seemed to them that these things ... could not have been found, unless they had been upon Isildur's body when he sank ... Why then ... were there no traces of his bones? Had Saruman found them, and scorned them -- burned them with dishonour in one of his furnaces? If that were so, it was a shameful deed; but not his worst.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields: The Sources of the Legend of Isildur's Death

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