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Adûnaphel/Adûnabêth

Adûnabeth

Location(s)
Language(s)
Birth
S.A. 1823
Death
T.A. 3019
Gender
Unknown

The Seventh of the Nazgûl (Q." Ulaire Otsea") was also known as The Dark Messenger, The Knight of Umbar and The Quiet Wraith.

The Wraith's true origin is unknown, but the Parma Úlairion has preserved an old Legend about a fallen Númenórean knight or, as some variants of the legend say, a Lady. However, it is unknown if this legend - or how much of it - is reliable.

Names and Identities

  • Adûnaphel the Quiet - according to Legend, the name of the (female) Bar of Vamag
  • Adûnabêth the Quiet - according to a different variant of the Legend, the name of the (male) Bar of Vamag
  • Ard the Vain - the name of the Ruler of Umbar in the Second Age
  • Ard Once Vain - the name of Ard among the Haradrim
  • Black Specter
  • the Dark Messenger - the name of the Messenger of Morgûl
  • the Knight of Umbar - a name of the fallen Rebel-King of Umbar
  • Númeniel - according to Legend, the (female) birth-name of the Dark Messenger
  • Númendil - according to a different variant of the Legend, the (male) birth-name of the Dark Messenger
  • the Quiet Avenger - the seventh name among the Black Númenóreans
  • the Quiet Wraith
  • Seventh of the Nine
  • Ulaire Otsea' - the seventh name among the High-Elves

The Legend of the Quiet Avenger

Adunabeth2

The Seventh Nazgûl in the Twilight-World

Adûnaphel the Quiet

Adûnaphel was born in her uncle Adunazils home (Bar Forowing) on Númenor's North Cape in Forostar in the year S.A 1823. Her family possessed noble blood and owned extensive lands in Forostar and Orrostar. Even as a young child, she was recognized as being exceptionally beautiful, but her youth was scarred by the death of her very old father (Adunahil) and she dwelled in remorse for many years. She fought with her unstable mother Alcariel, whose ties with the Eldar had disturbed her father and had been the source of marital strife. Adûnaphel's despair over her father’s death and the blame she attributed to her mother contributed to her fervent support of her uncle’s small “Adûnaic” faction in the court of Tar-Ciryatan (r. S.A 1869-2029).

Like Adunazil and his ally Prince Tindomul (Er-Murazor, the future Witch-King), Adûnaphel sought to sever Númenor’s close ties with the Elves, in hope that the Edain could build along their own cultural line and expand their military and economic strength. Her ultimate hope, of course, was to see Númenórean dominion over all Men. This aim drove her to leave Númenor in S.A. 1914.

Adûnaphel sought her own crown, but no such opportunity existed in her homeland. She followed the course of many of her royal allies and went to Middle-earth. Landing with her retainers at the haven of Umbar, then a small Númenórean anchorage, she settled at Vamag  (Har. “Blood Fell”) on the northwestern tip of the great peninsula. There, she erected a citadel that became the focus of her expanding domain.

By S.A. 1939, Adûnaphel overtly controlled much of Middle-earth’s coastal lands between Umbar and the river Harnen, while her agents in Umbar manipulated the growing trade center and the territory to the south. The Lord of Vamag became a major influence among the Haradrim as well, her power and rapacious nature overwhelming the primitive Haradan fishermen and nomads. To them, Adûnaphel was King. She ruled much of western Near Harad as Ard the Vain, preparing for the eventual conquest of Umbar and Far Harad. All seemed well to the Lady of the West.

Tar-Ciryatan of Númenor was a proud King, however, and in S.A. 1987 he demanded that Adûnaphel pay him both homage and taxes. He ordered her to remove her warriors from Umbar and to submit to Númenórean rule. This edict drove Adûnaphel into a rage and she refused to abide by the harsh terms issued from Armenelos. Instead, she sent envoys to Armenelos in hope of reaching a compromise. For the next fourteen years Adûnaphel and her overlord engaged in diplomatic sparring and quiet intrigue, all the while recognizing Númenor’s supremacy.

Sauron of Mordor saw the dispute as an opportunity to achieve two goals: first, the defeat of a rival for Haradan favor; and secondly, a means of delaying the expansion of a much more potent potential enemy. Sauron’s minions fought a number of small wars with Adûnaphel for control of Near Harad, and the Dark Lord hoped to seize the initiative in the region. More importantly, Sauron desired a delay in Tar-Ciryatan’s planned expansion around the strategic firth of Umbar. Only Númenor rivaled Mordor for control over the realms of the Secondborn and, after Sauron’s defeat in Eriador in S.A. 1700, he required a great deal of time to rebuild his shattered strength. He saw in Tar-Ciryatan what he had long feared – a prideful and hungry Adan monarch bent on taking Middle-earth.

Sauron’s agents, including a pair of Adûnaphel’s captains, kept him well informed about the Lady of the West. He learned of her vanity and her hatred of the Eldar and discerned her yearning for immortality, so in S.A. 2001 he approached her with the gift of a Ring of Power and the prospect of eternal life. Reviled by her own King and desirous of the gifts offered by the Dark Lord, Adûnaphel accepted the Ring and fell under the sway of the Shadow. She became the seventh King (Ruling Queen) of Men to become a Nazgûl.

Adûnaphel the Ringwraith

Adûnaphel remained at Vamag for nearly three hundred years after becoming a Ringwraith, and it was during this relatively brief period that she became known amongst the Haradrim as Ard Once Vain. Her Black Númenórean subjects called her Adûnaphel the Quiet. While she had once boldly displayed her beauty and strength, the fallen Númenorean lord cloaked herself behind a suit of black armour, never showing her face and never appearing during daylight hours. The woman that claimed kingship over much of Near Harad retreated into seclusion and dealt with both friends and foes through selected minions. Mornings at Vamag no longer rang with the pleasant call from her melodious lute.

In early S.A. 2280, Adûnaphel, ruling as Ard, ordered the tribes of her realm to assail Umbar (then a royal haven of Tar-Atanamir). Although she counted few Númenórean warriors in her fold, her army outnumbered the proud defenders. Quality prevailed, though, when Adûnaphel's forces fell into a trap in the narrow defile at Cirith Glingalas. The well-disciplined Dunedain broke the lightly-armed Haradrim with spear volleys and turned the ensuing melee into a rout. Adûnaphel’s superior cavalry proved of little use.

The Dagor-i-Glingalas (“Battle of the Gleaming Shore”) effectively ended Adûnaphel’s hope of ruling Harad. Two weeks after the fray, she abandoned Vamag and moved northward, leaving the great peninsula to her enemy. King Tar-Atanamir (r. S.A. 2029-2221) ordered Umbar strengthened and expanded, making it the greatest citadel in the region.

For the next 981 years, Adûnaphel ruled the arid reaches of central Near Harad on behalf of Sauron. She established her new hold and capital at Lugarlur on the south bank of the Harnen, about 400 miles from Mordor. The Kingdom of Ard lasted until Ar-Pharazon’s invasion (S.A. 3261) and the surrender of the Dark Lord (S.A. 3262) before the might of Númenor. With the defeat of her mentor, she retreated into the Black Land.

After the downfall of Númenor and the return of Sauron in S.A. 3319, Adûnaphel directed the campaigns waged by Sauron’s troops in Harondor and Near Harad, and she commanded the southern flank of the horde that invaded South Ithilien in 3429. Her fate however, was tied to her Master’s, and she passed into the Shadows when Barad-dûr was broken and Sauron was overthrown at the end of the Second Age.

The Third Age

Adûnaphel returned to Middle-earth around T.A. 1050 and entered her ruined home at Lugarlur just after the armies of Hyarmendacil I of Gondor conquered Harad. The removal of Gondorian strength from the Southland occupied her for the next 590 years. From her base in the upper Harnen valley, Adûnaphel slowly reasserted her power in Near Harad and coerced and misled the Haradrim to rebel. Her machinations were interrupted by the Corsair takeover of Umbar in T.A. 1448, but by 1634 even they unwittingly pursued her goals. In that year, Corsair raiders slew the Gondorian King (Minardil).

The Great Plague that ravaged northwestern Middle-earth in 1635-37 weakened Gondor and led to the abandonment of the Watch on Mordor. Sauron, residing in Dol Guldur, sent Adûnaphel and the other Nazgûl (except the Witch-King in Angmar) into his ancient kingdom so that they could surreptitiously prepare the land for his return. Adûnaphel, like Uvatha and Akhorahil, went to Nurn, in the south of the Black Land.

With the arrival of the Witch-King in Mordor (T.A. 1980) the Ulairi gathered for the attack on the stronghold that served as the last vestige of Gondor’s guardianship over the Black Land. The surprise assault through Cirith Ungol in T.A. 2000 and the subsequent two-year besiegement of Minas Ithil ended with the taking of the fortress city that served as Ithilien’s capital and housed one of the prized Seeing-stones. Renamed Minas Morgul, the marble-shrouded town became the new home of the Ringwraiths.

In T.A. 2941, Sauron returned to the Dark Tower, leaving his threatened hold at Dol Guldur in Rhovanion. Ten years later, however, he felt that the fortress was once again safe. Leaving six of the Nazgûl at Minas Morgul, he commanded Khamul the Easterling and Adûnaphel to reopen the fortress in Mirkwood. Uvatha the Messenger served as the link between the two Wraiths and their Lord in Mordor. Adûnaphel’s return to Dol Guldur in T.A. 2951 marked her last permanent move, for she resided there until her demise.

In T.A 3018, she rode into the Anduin valley, Rohan, and then Eriador during the Black Riders search for the Shire and the One Ring. Her journey took her past Isengard and through Tharbad across the Stone Ford, and into the land of the Hobbits. Riding with Khamul and Hoarmurath into the Bolger enclave at Crickhollow, only to be turned to flight by the horns of the Bucklanders. Joining Uvatha on the road to the east of Bree, the group rejoined their brethren (who had assailed the company on Weathertop) in the Lone Lands beyond the Weather Hills. The Rider’s pursuit culminated at the Ford of the Bruinen, where Elven magic and the valor of Glorfindel enabled the wounded Ringbearer to escape. The skirmish by the riverside ended when the flood-waters claimed the Nazgûl’s horses. Like those of her brethren, Adûnaphel’s steed perished in the foam summoned by Elrond.

During the months that followed, she resumed her residence at Dol Guldur and prepared for the attacks against the Elven Kingdoms in Lorien and Northern Mirkwood. Adûnaphel led part of the army of Orcs that assailed Galadriel’s realm across the Anduin, but her assault proved futile. Her retreating horde fled south into the Wold, where they were destroyed by the Ents. The Nazgûl went north, joining Khamul’s host and the onslaught against Thranduil’s woodland domain. Once again, the forces of Darkness lost the day, compelling Adûnaphel to retire. Events at Pelennor Fields and in North Ithilien forced her recall to Mordor.

The Witch-King perished before the gates of Minas Tirith, and the eight remaining Nazgûl engaged the army of the Free Peoples at the Battle of Morannon. Attacking atop Fell Beasts only ten days after Adûnaphel’s return, the Ringwraiths duelled the Great Eagles above the raging battle before the Gates of Mordor. Their melee invoked images of the great skyborn warriors of the Elder Days, but the fight was short. As Frodo, Sam, and Gollum stood upon Mount Doom and threatened the destruction of the Ruling Ring, the Dark Lord sent his Nazgûl into a wild flight southward, hoping that they could stay the loss of the One Ring. They failed, and Adûnaphel passed out of Ea.

Artifacts


References

  • MERP:Lords of Middle-earth Vol II:The Mannish Races
  • Games Workshop - The Lord of the Rings: Strategy Battle Game

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