Title: Prologue to Sacrifice
Summary: Sacrifice-verse history of Middle-earth. I know this is AU with the book timelines/family trees, this is MY version.
In the year 2724 of the Third Age of Middle-earth, a terrible curse was put upon the people of Rohan. At this time the line of Kings still ran strong in the lands of Gondor, and the threat of Mordor was no more than a faint shadow. It was a time of peace throughout the lands. Yet despite all this, Aradin, son of Arathor, the King of Gondor, was troubled. His Queen, Halean, was gravely ill. The healers said she was beyond help, and that she would soon die.
The King was not troubled by the immanent death of his Queen but was devastated in the knowledge that he would now be left with no means of gaining the heir he so desired. She had given him three daughters, but no son. With Halean’s passing, the line of Kings would surely fail. None of his daughters were married, and even if they had been, Aradin would not have allowed anyone as lowly as a Gondorian citizen take up the throne to his kingdom. Neither he nor Halean had any living male relations – nephews or cousins – to whom the kingdom would naturally fall under such circumstances.
As expected, fair Halean passed away within the week, and in desperation Aradin sent word to the King of Rohan, Théomer, begging counsel. For over a month, no answer came, but then a horseman was seen from the battlements, riding across the Pelennor Fields, flying the banner of the Rohirrim.
The rider was brought before King Aradin, and announced himself to be Théodrin, the eldest and favourite son of the King Théomer, and had been sent in his stead. His father was, at present, engaged in talks with the people of Dunland on the subject of their territory and boundaries.
King Aradin was not reassured by this youth who stood before him in his halls, but he was desperate for guidance and so explained his problem to the Rohan prince. Théodrin could only suggest a marriage of one of the King’s daughters to a man of suitable esteem to take the throne after Aradin’s passing. The King knew in his heart that the young man was right; that this was the only option left for him now. He thanked the prince, and bid him stay in the Citadel as his guest for as long as he required.
That night, Théodrin accepted an invitation to dine with the King Aradin and his daughters. He arrived in the Great Hall to be greeted by the King in all his splendour, adorned in black evening dress, embroidered with the white tree of Gondor. His daughters, all tall, slight, and dark haired, wore beautiful dresses of varying shades. Aradin sat at the head of the table, and placed the prince on his right hand side, next to his eldest daughter Livia. Her sisters sat across the table from them. At first, the conversation was little and strained, but as the food was consumed and the wine began to flow, the voices of the company rose and laughter filled the halls.
Théodrin was particularly taken by the princess Livia. He was enraptured by her stories of life in Gondor, and of her heroic ancestors. Her beauty also astounded him; he had never seen a woman like her in his native land of Rohan. Rohirrim woman tended to be built sturdily for a life on horseback, with their hair perfectly flaxen. But Livia was delicate and dark. Everything about her fascinated him.
When the meal was over, King Aradin lit Théodrin’s pipe before reclining back in his throne and lighting his own, both pipes filled with the finest Gondorian weed. He then asked his daughters to entertain them with a song. Again, Théodrin was enthralled by Livia; this time by her sweet voice in perfect harmony with her sisters’. When she was dismissed from the halls later that night, she held the prince’s gaze, many unsaid words reflecting in her eyes.
Weeks passed, and Théodrin remained in the Citadel of Gondor. The King of Rohan had not sent word declaring a need of his son’s assistance, and Théodrin was in no hurry to leave this idyllic city. He became well acquainted with the King, and with the princess Livia. In fact, he and the princess were often seen together, walking hand-in-hand across the gardens by the Houses of Healing.
When the time came for his departure, Théodrin went back before the King. “Before I leave for Edoras, I now in turn seek your help, Aradin King.” The Rohirrim prince spoke, his head bowed. The King bid him continue. “I am destined to one day become King of Rohan, and with that duty I must take a wife. Your daughter Livia has captured my heart, and I know now that I could take no other to be mine. I beg you for your daughter’s hand.”
King Aradin listened patiently to the prince’s words, before falling deep into his thoughts. “You have brothers, do you not?”
“Yes, my Lord, two. Both younger than myself.”
“And do either have the capability to become King in your stead?”
“Should I, for any reason, not be able to take up my father’s mantle, and be made King, then yes, one of my brothers would take my place.”
King Aradin rose from his throne, pacing the hall as he spoke. “You ask me for my daughter. You are a good man, Théodrin, son of Théomer, and Livia knows it too. You are noble, and a line of Kings runs in your blood.
“However, when you first entered these halls, you bid me keep my daughters and find my heir in their suitors.” He paused, thinking carefully through his words and measuring the weight of them. At length, he continued. “You have brothers, brothers who share your blood. I would not hinder the line of the Rohirrim Kings should I ask you to indeed, take my daughter for your own, but choose to dwell instead in the halls of Gondor, as my son and heir.”
Théodrin stumbled over his words, and then fell silent. He looked at King Aradin long and hard, whilst considering the offer placed before him. After an age of deliberation, he dropped to one knee at the King’s feet. “I accept your offer, Aradin King. I would be honoured to be considered your heir, and I will do all I can to aid the people of Gondor”.
Within a week the news of King Aradin’s final finding of an heir, and this said heir’s betrothal to the fair princess Livia, was spread throughout the people of Gondor. In Rohan, a messenger had reached the Meduseld and the Golden Hall of the King, bringing tidings of Théodrin’s actions.
Théomer, King of Rohan and father of Théodrin, was furious. His favourite son, his heir, had ignored his wishes and had been lost to the province of Gondor, deserting his family, duties and honour. The prince’s message to his father spoke of strengthening the old alliance between Rohan and Gondor, of King Aradin’s more than generous offer, and of the radiating beauty of this Gondorian princess to whom he was now affianced. None of these words and promises made King Théomer any more contented with the situation.
He immediately sent word back to Théodrin, informing him of his anger, disappointment and disapproval. He made it quite clear that he had no desire to see Théodrin again; mentioning his brother Théolen’s acceptance as heir to the throne of Rohan, and Rohan’s independence from the domain of Gondor.
What he did not mention, however, was the strength of his hatred that was now radiated towards King Aradin and his people, especially his own son. In secret to everyone except his loyal advisor and right-hand, he started reading through the great tomes written by the dark, feared forces of old; tomes kept safe and hidden by his family for generations, but never read or used.
But read and used now they were. In secret, Théomer learnt of spells and curses that would cause pain, suffering, torment and death. And so strong was his rage towards his son that he cursed his own people; he cursed the Rohirrim for evermore, subjecting any Rohan man or woman to anguish and torture should they leave their homelands for a life in Gondor, be it through reasons of love or business. Should any of the Rohirrim ever dare to repeat Théodrin’s actions, their lives would become filled with misery, and they would suffer a slow and excruciating death.
This part, and the next one or two, are set before and during the books, but the bulk of the fic will be after the books, which is why I am posting here.