In our last article, we explored the peoples of Haradwaith and how they came to find themselves under the Golden King's black banner. In this article, we'll be taking a closer look at one of the heroes of the faction - Berúthiel, the Black Queen.
Berúthiel, the Black Queen
Long ago, early in the Third Age, Tarannon Falastur, King of Gondor, wed the beautiful Berúthiel, a noble daughter of a Black Numenorean lord that who hailed from an estate near Umbar. The marriage was arranged as an attempt to quell generations of hostilities between the Men of Gondor and Umbar.
As far as looks go, they can be deceiving; for the outer shell does not always match that what is within. Berúthiel, now Queen, turned out to be deceitful, a condition that, according to the Annals of Gondor, was a result of her Black Numenorean heritage. It is written that she acted as the catalyst of many dishonorable rumors around the King's Court, setting advisors against one another, whispering of treason, slowly weakening Gondor's resolve from within. The Annals of Umbar hold a different view: they make mention of Tarannon's tyrannical nature. How he kept Berúthiel locked up in a high tower, forbidding the visiting of Umbarian relatives or friends.
There is one thing both sides of the story agree upon: Berúthiel was fond of cats, ever surrounding herself with them, speaking to them in whispers, sending them out on errands. It is told that through her cats, she gathered the news that she sought, using it to her advantage, and passing it on to further her family's fortunes.
Nilûphêl was born in the year 2987 of the Third Age, the third daughter of Îrpân, a diluted scion of a Black Númenórean family of Umbar, long ago brought low. Her father had been rejected time and again in his attempts to marry off his prior two daughters, refusing to marry downwards, only wishing to go up. When his third child was born a girl once again, unable to further his name, he despaired. In the end, he sold her into slavery soon after little Nilû's sixth birthday. Nilû's mother did not object. She had never felt any love towards the girl.
But Nilûphêl possessed a strong spirit. Her father's Númenórean blood, flowing so thinly in his veins, flowed strong within hers. No master could tame her, and she was sold from workhouse to workhouse, never staying in one spot for long, for she was dangerous, and ever attempted to set her environment to her own hand. She had a penchant for intrigue, recruiting other children to do her work and conjuring various advantages for herself, until she would inevitably be found out when her ambitions grew too fierce.
As Nilû got older, a fire began to rage within her. Often she thought of the injustice she had suffered, and of the man responsible for her misery, whose name she had by now forgotten. For two years she starved herself to save up enough gold to buy herself free. Eventually she managed to track her father down, only to find out that Îrpân had died soon after he'd sold her, and that her mother and sisters hadn't been heard from since. Perhaps they had travelled north, she was told. For a while Nilû continued searching, but no trace of her family could be found.
The Corsair-city of Umbar is a strange and dangerous place. Nilû spiralled down its many alleyways, drinking herself into a stupor on most nights, employing whatever methods she needed to in order to see the bleak, hopeless mornings that followed. One night, when she was at her lowest, sitting near the docks at the city's lowest district, she heard a strange voice. When she turned around, she saw a thin, white cat, its eyes blazing red, staring her down. She chased it off, thinking it was after what scraps of food she had left, but it kept returning, day after day, night after night. Each time it would speak to her: of the family that had cast her out, so unjustly, and of her future: so bright, if she only did as the white cat told.
Nilû's despair grew. The specter of hunger occupied her mind at all times. Whenever she turned a corner, the white cat appeared. Now he would speak of the finest foods, the like of which she could not even begin to imagine. She could come into possession of all of this, if she only listened to what he had to say. One night, when she hadn't eaten the previous two days, she gave in.
'Follow me,' the white cat said. Its voice was hoarser than usual. 'Do not stop to think.'
Then it ran. She kept up with great difficulty, often losing him until she found him again, sitting on some ledge in the distance, shining beneath the Southern stars. After what seemed like hours of climbing up and down the narrow streets and alleys of Umbar, they came upon a great dock, with a great, walled pier running out from it. At the very edge Nilû could see an enormous vessel, its silhouette blacker than the night that lay behind it.
'That is the ship of the Lord of Waves,' the white cat whispered. 'The great Corsair-lord. He has returned to challenge his brother.'
The cat darted off along the pier, passing its gate, and disappeared from her sight. She lingered. She had been here before, long ago, accompanying her father on some business with one of the Lord's lieutenants. She remembered the heavy air of dread that had covered the docks: giant guards in black armor carrying silver swords, slaves screaming under seething whips, the heavy clanging of metal, and the smell of sulfur. That seemed a lifetime ago. Now things were quiet. Deserted. A single brazier flickered somewhere far away. Her stomach growled. 'Do not stop to think,' she said to herself.
When she passed the gates, she saw that there were no guards. There sat the cat, beneath an unfurled banner displaying a single Eye, its golden embroidery catching what little light there was, illuminating the strands of its white fur.
'Go on,' said the cat. 'To the ship. Tell him you are his Berúthiel. He has dreamed of you. I have made sure of it.'
As if in a dream of her own, she boarded the black vessel at the edge of the dock, and made her way to the chambers of the Lord of Waves.
From then on, Burôdapân was rarely seen without his newest advisor, whom he named his Queen Berúthiel. Having found a way back to prominence and newfound power, Berúthiel embraced her new identity by erasing her former one: using an army of black, silent-pawed agents, she plotted out the silent assassinations of those that thought to have owned her in years past. She managed to find her mother, who she enslaved and shipped to the distant lands of Nâfarat, where she spent a few months working for some cruel warlord before she perished beneath the unforgiving sun. Her sisters she left to their own devices.
A new hunger awoke in her. The white cat continued to appear to her, whispering into her ears the beginnings of new plots that would further elevate her status amongst the elite of Umbar, ever at the cost of others. Seducing Câssimir, the Lord of Stones, elder brother to Burôdapân and ruler of Umbar's Black Númenórean remnants, was an inevitable consequence of her lust for power.
Her desire for power knew no bounds. And so, the white cat directed Berúthiel's gaze north, towards Gondor. She could sense conflict looming upon the horizon, as well as the opportunities that would surely come with it. Before long, she had convinced both brothers to rekindle the flames of war.
Berúthiel is an early-game support hero that is able to gather intel through her feline allies, and affect the flow of battle through her various powers.
Rank 1: Rise to Power
Berúthiel manipulates her way into the higher echelons of Black Númenórean society. Allows Berúthiel to rank up
Berúthiel does not attack enemies directly, considering herself far above the filth of battle. Instead she summons Black Númenórean wardens onto her targets to dispatch them from afar. This means, however, that she cannot easily gain experience through combat. To counter this, she has been given her Rise to Power ability.
Rank 1: Eyes and Ears
The Black Queen summons one of her cats to spy upon the enemy
Berúthiel's cats are stealthed, move quickly, and cannot attack. Use them to find out what your enemy is up to, and place them in strategic locations to keep vision on their movements in order to mount a timely counter.
Rank 3: Disdain
Enemy units near the Black Queen suffer -50% experience gain
Berúthiel's air of clear superiority disparages even the most confident of enemies, causing them to rank up at a lower rate. Keep Berúthiel near the edge of battle to help your units gain a level advantage more quickly.
Rank 6: Feigned Hysteria
Nearby enemy units temporarily lose all leadership and -25% armor. Berúthiel becomes invisible, allowing her to escape
Berúthiel has a natural ability to manipulate situations to her advantage, including those that unfold on the battlefield. Use Feigned Hysteria to obtain the edge in battle, while keeping Berúthiel safe and able to continue using the rest of her powers.
Rank 10: Queen's Escort
The Black Queen summons a fully upgraded battalion of Wardens of Umbar
Berúthiel never goes anywhere without the safety of her own personal cadre of bodyguards. These Wardens of Umbar are powerful elite swordsmen that will make short work of those that dare threaten the Black Queen. Use this power to quickly reinforce your army.
That's all for now. We'll be doing more articles dedicated to each of Haradwaith's heroes, as there's a lot to introduce and say about these AotR Canon characters.
Thanks, and take care!
The Age of the Ring Team
Cool, sounds like a more aggressive scouting hero than a lot of other ones.
Well-written and well-designed, as usual. But who or what is the white cat?
Your friendly neighborhood Lord of the Rings.
Tevildo, Prince of Cats.
Thanks. I was suspecting the big S himself since Tevildo was, if I recall correctly, described as a black cat.
Hola buenas tardes, espero que esten bien...por lo que veo se viene una version 8.0, hace un tiempo les escribi para ver si agregarian la sengunda edad y mas, pero sus respuestas fueron q no, ahora les queria pedir si es posible que arreglen a los arqueros del bosque negro(me refiero a los arqueros q tienen armadura) , seria bueno q le pusieran mas vision, mas alcance, ya que en la version 7.1 estos arqueros no disparan automaticamente si ven a los enemigos a unos metros de ellos, tienen q estar al lado practicamente, los arqueros haradrim de mordor tien mas alcance q de los elfos, muy extraño..ojala lo arreglen.