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Kalnargil

Kal Nargil (Orc."Castle of Nargil") or older Lugarlûr (Nur."Gloomward Tower"). Inside the rocky gorge of the Kres Lugal of the Upper Harnen river, near the mouth of the Nargil Pass lay the fortress of the former Queen of Near Harad and one of the Nazgûl, Adûnaphel.

Description

As one passed up the River Harnen on the Rak Chelkar, far above the lush fields of the Aten Amrún, beyond the more modest valley around the river crossing of Oud Ilaz, one entered a rocky and foreboding canyon, the Kres Lugal. Some fifty miles above Oud Ilaz, the headwaters of the Harnen flowed in from (Cirith Núrn in the Ephel Dúath. Surrounded by the stark, gloomy red and black sandstone and granite of the Harnen gorge, one could see the fearsome ruins of Lugarlúr, the Tower of Gloom. Even Haruze who worshiped and respected the memory of the Dark Lady, Ard Once Vain, felt oppressed and fearful on seeing the ruins of her famous sanctuary. Lugarlúr was the fortress and residence of the Autarb Ard, Queen of Near Harad, known to the Wise as Adûnaphel the Nazgûl, between the years 2280 and 3262 of the Second Age. Unbeknownst to most mortals, she also dwelt among the ruins from 1050 to 1640 of the Third Age, mistress of her own cult and leader in a conspiracy to spread terror among any of the Dúnedain and Haruze who might be considered a threat to her master, Sauron the Dark Lord.

An ancient trail, the [Irit Núrn]], came down the west side of the Harnen from the Cirith Núrn. Ancient stone bridges dating from Númenórean times connected the Irit Núrn with the Rak Chelkar on the south bank of the Harnen and the ruins of Lugarlur, which lay above and north of the junction of the two rivers. The Kres Lugal was too narrow here to support a town, but several small villages were hidden in the gorges around the bridges. The Lugalim, the goat-herders who dwelt here, were Núrnian by blood. Since they were devout worshippers of dark and ancient powers, both Haruze warriors and Gondorian soldiers had persecuted them in the past; they had little to say to the merchants and caravans that passed Lugarlur on their way to Núrn, Al Amrûn, or Chelkar. The Kruk Ard, the neck of land caught between the torrents of the Harnen and the Ode Auchel, was a great crumbling wedge of red sandstone surmounted by slabs and pillars of rough black granite. The highest cliffs of the Kruk stood some eight hundred feet above the junction of the two rivers. The castle was originally carved out of the middle layers of the sandstone, with tunnels and a cave cut into the stone just above the river and towers built up on the highest of the pillars. A bridge, itself arching some sixty feet above the high-water mark, plunged directly into a carved gate-tunnel in the cliff face. The rock face above the gate was faced with unfinished slabs of dark granite, decorated with a few ill-wrought bas-reliefs of Númenórean scenes. The effect, magnified by the shadows of the deep gorge and the eerie tainted left by the long presence of the undead, was that of a dark stain on the side of the cliffs. Through most of its later history, the crumbling of the castle's walls worsened its foreboding appearance. Lugarlur, while small for a monarch's citadel, nevertheless loomed large in the history of late-Second Age Harad. When Ard Once Vain was defeated by Umbarean colonial forces in S.A. 2280, she fled north and eastward with the survivors of her court. The Númenórean rangers sent to hunt her would not approach the frontiers of Mordor. Adûnaphel soon established a new realm, among the clans of the Ausk Dubat and the Ausk Chelkar, the foothills of the Ephel Dúath, With Sauron as its patron, the dominion ot Ard served as a buffer state, neutral ground lying between Mordor and Númenórean-held Harnendor. Flourishing on the trade between the two powers, it served this purpose for a thousand years. In the aftermath of Sauron's surrender to Ar-Pharazôn the Golden in S.A. 3262, Adûnaphel escaped over the mountains into Núrn as the hosts of Al Amrûn, led by Taskral Akil the Great, overran her realm, slew most of her supporters, and sacked her palace. Lugarlur lay deserted throughout rhe first millennium of the Third Age. At the time of Númenór's Downfall a Núrniag clan moved into the Kres Lugal to replace the followers and slaves of Ard slaughtered by the army of Al Amrûn.They kept their arcane religious practices to themselves and seemed little troubled by the curses and haunts left behind by the Nazgûl and her minions.

Eventually the Cult of the Dark Lady returned to Lugarlur, followed by the Ringwraith herself after T.A 1050. The Lugalim soon turned to worship this new and powerful goddess. Adûnaphel and her priests and guard made a haven and temple deep in the ruins of the old palace, their secrecy protected by the loyalty of the Lugalim. The few officials and adventurers suspicious enough to visit Lugarlur in this time sometimes found cause to arrest and execute the villagers, but the secret Temple remained inviolate for six centuries and more. Adûnaphel departed for Mordor in T.A. 1640. and Thereafter her secret temple dwindled in importance to other plots of the Dark Lord. Ironically, the fell reputation oft the ruins worsened after her passing. The Lugalim, desperate to regain the Dark Lady's favor, became more brutal in their worship of her. Travelers were captured and sacrificed to a bloody idol hidden amid the ruins. From time to time, the Lugalim grew careless and failed to keep their crimes a secret. When this happened, the Haruze lords of Oud llaz and Chelkar were obliged to send troops into the rift. However, no Haruze wished to dwell in this ill-starred district, and the surviving Lugalim eventually drifted back to their homes, While the Lugalim provided a distraction for the forces of law and peace, the temple and sanctuary hidden beneath the ruins continued to serve the needs of the Dark Lord. Messengers passed in and out of the Kres Lugal by secret paths, bearing letters written in cursed tunes and hiding poisoned sweetmeats under their tongues to keep them silent in case of capture. Acolytes trained in the Temple of the Dark Lady continued her work of subversion and murder. With the passage of centuries, many in Near Harad came to suspect the location of the Dark Lady's haven, howeVer, the passage of time also saw the slow triumph of Darkness among the Haruze. By the time the truth became known, late in the Third Age, the Dark Lady was triumphant. Evil shadows walked among the crumbling towers of Lugarlur and no living man dared stand against them.

References

  • Fanmodules:MORDOR GAZETTEER
  • MERP:Southern Gondor:The Land

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