Aranost, the Royal Citadel of Westil, capital of Hisra
We turned a corner and saw, gleaming in the distance, the golden roofs of the Potala… We felt inclined to go down on our knees like pilgrims and touch our foreheads to the ground.
Then Pippin cried aloud, for the Tower of Ecthelion, standing high within the topmost wall, shone out against the sky, glimmering like a spike of pearl and silver, tall and fair and shapely, and its pinnacle glittered as if it were wrought of crystals; and white banners broke and fluttered from the battlements in the morning breeze, and high and far he heard a clear ringing as of silver trumpets.
Their arrival having been proclaimed by gong, they made their way to Aranost. The place teemed with ilin. Lords from all over the empire were arriving for this important state event. It wasn’t often that a people got to bury the nephew of their God and the ilin of the Empire had recently missed the opportunity to bury his last remaining son. Their embassies to Westil had been renewed in anticipation of this time. Where Cam-Gil and his shield man from the PWOC, Tinulé had slipped quietly away, Celegorm would receive the full pomp and circumstance of an imperial state Jukp?dhar.
A thousand years ago Aranost and indeed the city of Westil about it had been designed and built to encamp and then supply the Celebrinoth. The prefects who worked for the Lauver and Kanzler had been toiling for a number of years to provision the caverns under the citadel with preserved foodstuff for this time. Old wells had been uncapped and the plumbers of Westil had three years of un-interrupted work as the saan of the citadel was replaced and augmented.
The Lords of the Empire were billeted above their ilin in the quarters that for centuries had been used by the patrol leaders and Hedgelords of Hisra. Their horses were pastured in the sheltered gentle valleys to the North and West of the city as they had been a thousand years ago. There were too many farms to the south now to allow the empires finest to loose their rocca on next year’s spring crops. The Gwathló themselves are crammed into the royal apartments.
The ilin of the Gwathló are billeted with the ilin of Hisra itself. That is to say, they are crammed in where ever there is space for them. Many are sent north to Fairyford Carey to wait out the state occasion at the agadir there. Lodd’s border wardens, to those aware of their existence, were conspicuous by their absence – doubtless all long the Howling Marches, as were most of the Brandenheer. There appeared to be only one Battle left in residence. That is one company on duty as door openers at any one time whilst one sleeps and the other readies itself for its next shift under the watchful gaze of all the empire. Fortunately the Brandenheer are the same warband who guard the Golden Hill and are used to the standard of turnout required when the emperor is at large.
Discussing this disposition later, Tûd and Kamilata persuaded Thranduil that the warders were most likely on the east bank of the Bruinenwassë, with the other two Battles encamped at crossing points between here and Eru Travar. They all noted that the Seregon, the emperor’s ilin, were not getting too much spare time. They had become the de facto police and organisers of the constant stream of ilin in and out of the fortress to tend their rocca. So much for guarding the emperor. That duty appeared to fall to his nieces, “the emperor’s pets”, Tûd named them. Not part of his Sairon’s staff, they were Blackrobe Isenwarian princesses who hardly ever left their cousin alone. Thranduil thought them attractive as a trio and was working out how to arrange an introduction for himself (for the purpose of courting one of “the emperor’s pets” not meeting the emperor) but something in Tûd’s manner dissuaded him from pursuing the idea.
Later, when Thranduil had become sudden busy (honoured, by the nature of the task and inconvenienced by the need to polish everything to a high shine at short notice). Tûd again noted to Kamilata (champion armour shiner amongst the ilin, having once been jalee) that “the emperor’s pets” had a reputation for obsessive single-mindedness. He was of the impression that they took their (self-appointed ?) task very seriously and might not take too kindly to the suggestion of a quick dalliance from a disgraced Falliarochben.
Along with the ilin who accompanied Jadhrim (mostly Nostir of each of the kindreds) and Asion (who is Carnc of Amburn in Northern Hisra), they were billeted in vacated space in the dwarf-built jalee barracks. Having Kamilata with them made this process a little swifter and less of an exploration than it had been for some of the ilin billeted there (from Ard Rhassë, Ket and Uleck). The place was soon warm and lit, the winter shut outside for the night.