They had forgotten, in their bliss upon Westernesse, that mortals know all, what none else fathom: the absolute silence of person at death, no more to light one’s day. For on this land death had become wrongly viewed, as punishment otherwise escapable, and rumor often was heard that here or there, men repentant had been escorted embraced, and housed without dying in the West; but all mortals shall die, thus being decreed by Manwë, favored most to Eru. In their forgetting, they broke bonds with other men, despising their rudeness, rather than lamenting or pitying; and to bring a rain of arrows or a fence of swords upon their ugly bodies was in these last days held among the strongmen of Numenorean race or kind, a gift of sorts; for surely their spirits longed to be free of such prisons of flesh as held them? Many laughed in this suggestion, returning from battles unbruised, and by others deemed lesser only, bloodied.
They had forgotten that in death all mortals grieve, for all mortals know also love and hope, seeing in future times the growth of bodies and of homes, plenitude of field or fullness of nets, or of traps; all come to ash, in death.
They had forgotten their kindred men upon all lands, seeking to dominate them, to slave them for no purpose but to treat and breed as beasts, their own kindred mortal wanderers. It was this forgetting which Tal Elmar first beheld, being dragged captive to Numenor, and held in bonds – for no prisons as yet had they on that land – then walked before the King Gimilkhad,12Also called Ar-Zimrathon, distinguished from Gimilkhad the Younger, son of Ar-Gimilzor. grieving as one astonished and also cheated; this king gazed upon the boy, most comely and fair, being wild in their eyes, rude, primitive and also pure, as a shadow-light of the elves, under growing suspicion but nonetheless admired, and for beauty at least, coveted.
Taurin was her name, and she was but thirty years at her death, in their reckoning; a child, yet aglow from immortal realms hardly left before reward upon Arda’s land of Gift. One question alone he [King Gimilkhad] put before the boy:
Tell me, seer, whither my daughter, and how might she be recovered, to be housed in domicile suited for both flesh and spirit, that I may upon her face once more rest my eyes?
And he cast before the boy, as in mockery, a handful of gems, and of crystals, and stones, scooped forth from a cauldron near to him, until it was emptied, and about the boy the floor glittered.
The boy bent and reached for one resting before him, and held it; holding it to eye, and looking upon the king, raised high upon a dais, and a golden bench, lain as one dead, and mourned by funeral-criers. As in vision, flames arose and consumed the halls, the pillars, the furniture, and all that sat or stood there, and being burned away, a behind-scene was revealed; wherein rested upon a bed stacked high with flowers, Taurin; wilted then the flowers crumbled, and the girl was suspended aloft, then her body dropped, and she dangled hanged from a rope braided with golden threads.
The boy looked away, and held the stone in his open hand, to give to the king, but as [he] did so, he understood his grief; and put the rock in his pouch, a homely crafted thing of skin.
“Seer! Whither the soul of one who dies thus?” And the king wept, and Joseph was dragged out and taken to quarters, where he remained under watch for many days. Next when brought by invitation before the king, the man was aged, and his heart, stone. He asked Joseph whether he preferred death or to be a house servant, and the boy was taught to knead bread, and to sew; often he risked torture by spurning advances of strongmen, and of the sons of nobles, yet none dared fulfill their threats, for a protection was upon him, and they feared his sight.
Zimulof Kloshtuz they called him, in fear and mockery, “Kloshtuz” being the name of any “Easterner,” for among them now was taken hostage, a chieftain of those lands, and he was likewise held a lesser man, contemptible, beyond culture by Westernesse. Kloshtuz [this chieftain] was short in stature, taken for the lads of nobles to train their skills upon, and against; being branded by fire, and cut, and yet in this he held himself honored, for was he not upon Westernesse, with its maidens and bread and stocks of fish and wine? But who owns whom, the boys asked their sparring trainer, and he was angered, and bound Joseph, and had him carried by the boys under his charge into the streets, as for a parade. “See here Great Ones, he owns not Kloshtuz! For I shall slay him by command!”
And the signal was given for to end the beautiful servant, consuming him in fire; yet to his aid, and protection, came many of high houses, and Kloshtuz was instead strapped to a longpole, and himself burned, with judgment being foreign, and a guest no longer; for he threatened the servant of Aída, extending his hand upon her, thereby; so ended this Easterner.
But many others were carried captive to Westernesse, to beguile them by its glory, and some were held captive until a false- rescue was contrived, in play-game; and others put to cruel torments, until dead; the freed-ones were “secreted” back to homelands, given gold and silver cups, and set loose to tell the tale, and to conjure in all the minds of mortals upon all lands, whither the godmen lived, who brought back to life dead men – for it was also part of the drama of rescue that “slain” men returned to aid the captives, and in this depiction, the men of Westernesse kept alive unwittingly an ancient hope, that though all men perish, in some fashion, violent, sudden, or drawn out in misery; yet also some held that by the Gods, new life could be given them, in bodies renewed, or wholly original; perhaps in rocks, or grasses, or beasts.
Thus they had forgotten the most ancient alliance, all men die. And in this end we share what no other race knows: yet the King Gimilkhad did not, and made in Death his true enemy, seeking out all lore concerning spirits, their mode of departure and whither passage might be delayed, or entered upon by the Living; and in time he came to rumor of those Six Undead Men, and in Numenor he founded guilds of smiths and jewelers, driving them to discover the secret of Undying, and of coming to meat with spirits; or his madness ensuing, of breeding with them, and much else his wizards pretended to investigate, and to come to knowledge concerning.
In one thing they succeeded: filling the lands thereabouts with lore of the Dead, of Undying, of vain hopes to delay unnatural demise; or its appearance. Stories and foolish songs they contrived, as in a manner ancient, giving some confused sayings a setting fit for jewels among the king’s court, in the voices resonant and beauteous. Mostly Joseph dismissed these tales, having himself learned such and sillier, as a child, before being told in laughter their sources: rude folk who worshipped pigs, or who ate their own kind, and so on. Now upon the lands hallowed by Gods, in honor of Men and their contribution in the bringing down the most hated enemy of the Gods, he again heard behind all the vain dress and plumage, little more than lies devised to deceive the lazy, those minds comforted in any lie that suits its prejudice.
But no comfort ever did Gimilkhad [“the Elder,” Ar-Zimrathon] gain, and he died, early it seemed, having grieved all his days; then turning to anger for his daughter, called by the records, Katumin, for her true name was spoken only by her father, and he insisted the wise after death name his reign, of On-itas, “Born son of ill-fortune,” or “By evil-fate, bred.”13The king’s declaration of his title and its meaning suggests already their language had devolved, and was slowly confounding; for I would’ve interpreted its meaning other than what is given above.
Joseph too kept an account, and told a history of Westernesse, and of its own lore concerning the Ancient Time, before; and its variations, tracing throughout, the origins and causes; knowing the devising of a single tale was by then, a task impossible. This account he kept in characters whose interpretation was known, at first, only to him; being modeled on those first taught him as a child, under the charter of Hazad, and his house. These tales, and his guesses at their arrangement, and his mode of writing, he taught to Asenath, who likewise made a book, and kept it, teaching to their daughters the strange lore of men, so that they might understand your plight, its dreariness, and confusion; and have pity upon men, should they find one to pity, in their travels among the elves and gods (Asenath reckoned they would never meet any man other than their father, and brother Machir).
And though she knew he had been as a man upon Westernesse, espoused; and that this woman had borne him sons – called in your (loathsome) bibles, Ephraim and Manasseh, she knew not that to her also Joseph had taught the secret of his reading, and its devising. This woman had departed from his heart, in her aging, for she had allegiance to kingsmen, by kin-oath; and would not impeach; nor dared she reveal what was known, by her to Joseph; nor to speak of his record-keeping, for it dangered her house, and sons; at the time of his casting forth into the sea, upon a casket, at the bidding of kingsmen, she (called Verlu) was not known to be living, neither dead, and his sons, heirs only to her father, of minor rank, a soldiering clan useful to get gain in distant lands.
Though he had lost all admirers of his beauty; and many regarded him a mad-fool, none would slay him, fearing perhaps, but more likely being not troubled enough to care to do so; for what honor gains one by such a deed? Yet by decree of oracle, he was put upon a casket, and set to sea, westward; after long while, without water to drink save what clouds poured down; nor food to eat, and being aged, he slept, desiring death, and to take passage with friendly elves to their homes, for resting, and learning; (as a spirit, of course). How he came to wreck, no one can tell, but Asenath supposed that Ulmo’s vassal Ossë bore him thither, in temptation, to see whether the Ban yet was upheld, or without consequence in the breaking; or merely to jest, using the old man to remind his master that not forever would he be restrained; his domain confined to pools of weeds, and shores where piped the Teleri the songs he taught them, on instruments by him devised. Others guess that chance brought him thus, and nothing greater, or by will to purpose.