The New Shadow: The Cult
While Éowyn Fairbairn and Thorondir apprehended Qusay eb Hannad at the Harlond, Dwalin, Garivald, and Nawfal ambushed the cultist who met with the young “orcs” terrorizing the streets of Minas Tirith. He came with a morgul blade, intent on sacrificing one of their number to turn him into a wraith bound to their service. This terrifying revelation meant that the cult had dug up artifacts from Angmar, and may have any number of wraiths already bound to them.
Afterwards, the fellowship sought out Saelon, son of Duilin at the Old Guesthouse. He offered to bring them in to a cult ceremony that night. Before that could happen, though, Éowyn was summoned by Hallas, son of Halbarad, who lay in the Halls of Healing after being attacked. The guard were looking for Gilraen for information about the assault. An attack on one of the king’s counsellors was taken very seriously, and Hallas worried that the king would resort to having Gilraen tortured for information. He asked Éowyn and her fellowship to find Gilraen before the king’s men did. They eventually did find her, hiding out in the basement of the shop owned by her suitor, Finduilas. Dwalin used his runes to help hide her.
As night fell, they met with Saelon and went to a manor on the sixth tier of the city, where the congregants gathered in the basement to sacrifice an elf. They stopped the ritual, though, and defeated the cultists, revealing Finduilas among them. Saelon intended to torture him, but the fellowship urged him to let them try a different way. They persuaded Finduilas to reveal everything he knew. He was the go-between for the cult. Through him, they had infiltrated the anti-monarchist movement and the growing rebellion within it. They hoped to defeat this movement, and give credit to one of their own number: Hallas. As Gilraen’s suitor, Finduilas could gather information on the rebellion, and as Hallas’s furrier, he could bring that information to him. With each victory against the rebellion, Hallas advanced in the court. Melkor and Sauron both yearned to be called “lord” more than anything else, but for Herumor, the goal is power, not vanity — even if he must rule from the shadows.
Dwalin had previously discovered the name of the new “dark lord,” Herumor, in ancient records — he and another Black Númenórean lord called Fuinur, had become great lords among the Haradrim after the fall of Númenór, and spread the faith of Melkor among them. Dwalin had presumed that this new Herumor had picked up the name from Haradrim histories, but when Thorondir revealed the existence of dark rites whereby a man might extend his life by bathing in elf blood, the fellowship realized that they may indeed be dealing with a Black Númenórean lord over three thousand years old.
The discovery also revealed again the extent of Herumor’s power: the cult regularly paid bandits near Greenleaves to kidnap wood elves and send them south to Minas Tirith for these dark ceremonies, meaning their influence stretched from the far north and west of Angmar, to the far north and east of Greenleaves, south even to King Eldarion’s court in Minas Tirith.
That last, however, the fellowship put a stop to. Saelon revealed himself a secret agent of the king working to uproot the cult and the rebels. Though much of the rebel conspiracy remained, with the fellowship’s help, they managed to stop the Melkorist cult in Minas Tirith, sending Hallas and Finduilas into exile in Rhûn.