Bellakar (Bel. "Great Sea") was a coastal realm south of Umbar, whose northern border was traditionally the Gondeithel river. The lands were usually divided into northern Bellakar or Mardruak, and southern Bellakar, or Felaya and Bellazen. It was largely inhabited by the descendants of indigenous Haradrim; and Númenórean settlers, descendants of the Númenórean colony of Pharazain, which had once existed on these coasts during the Second Age. Other smaller groups of the populance such as the Qarsag or Tedyin descended from Haradrim of the Great Desert, or Easterling intruders akin to the Khyans and Sîranians.
- 1 History
- 2 Regions and Rivers
- 3 Places of Note
- 4 Peoples
- 5 References
Years of the Trees
The oldest human race to walk into Bellakar were the Honnin, relatives of the Drúedain. Their only desire was for solitude and the carving of watch-stones. Bellakar mostly knew peace during this time period, until the War of Wrath was fought in distant Beleriand. Within a few centuries, the vast Forests of Bellakar gave way to desert, with forests only lingering on the coasts. The Honnin moved to these forests in the wake of such destruction. The Elves, Dwarves, and spirits of Bellakar hid themselves in secret places or fled far away.
The Cuind split into two, with one group moving to the oases in the Auz Azunan ("Hills of the Spiritual People"), or to a secret refuge in Urîd an-Abâr where they established flet-villages, and the larger group migrating southwest.
The first Númenórean mariners set foot on the shores of Bellakar around S.A. 1100. They found that the area was named for an Avarin version of the Sea of Belegaer. The fisherfolk of the region were in awe of the Númenóreans, and were eager to learn their lore and to marry with the Númenóreans. Cities were established around the Númenórean colonies, and the Bellakaranî (people of Bellakar) became a people distinct from other Haradrim. In each Bellakarian city-state, councils of elders decided matters of law and justice. In some cities, these councils consisted of the Adûnâi, the wealthy and powerful citizens of pure Númenórean descent; in others the Bellakaze (those of mixed heritage) also held some sway. They spoke a language also called Bellakarin, a hybrid language between the indigenous tongue and the languages of Númenor. The Adûnâi themselves spoke Sindarin, and later only Adûnaic in the later Second Age.
The rising power of the Bellakaze came in spite of the refusal of most of the Adûnâi to recognise any of the "Lesser Men" of Middle-earth as their equals, and also came at the expense of the Bellanarod who had no Númenórean heritage. This population still made up a majority of a city's population, and the vast majority of the rural population.
In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Númenórean Guild of Venturers explored the whole of Bellakar, and ties between the Bellakaze and the Númenóreans grew stronger. Bellakaze women were frequently taken as the concubines of Númenórean men, and at times (though rare) there were fully recognised marriages between Númenóreans and the Bellakaze. Those of mixed heritage would go on to become the predominant Bellakaze population during the Third Age.
In S.A. 1288, Númenóreans under the leadership of Ciryandur, Captain of the Venturers and second cousin to King Tar-Súrion, took a haven at the mouth of a river which they named Rossëhloä. This became known as Hazaj Tollin (a name of Bellakarin origin), and would become the first permanent Dúnadan colony. In S.A. 1487 a significant second foundation was founded at the inland oasis of Ithillond as an outpost of Hazaj Tollin that sought to gain control over the westward caravan trade. The Guild of Venturers founded further settlements in S.A. 1644 at Osto Nórëanarva and in S.A. 1780 at Soronmar.
During this time, the Bôzishnarûd began challenging the might of Númenor. Resultantly, the Dúnedain led the foundation of Korlea in S.A. 1975 to uproot the local tribes and supplant the influence of the Bôzishnara.
In S.A. 2022, King Tar-Ciryatan of Númenor granted the patchwork of settlements a sort of coherence under the Council of Free Cities, a loose federation governed by an elective body. This decree had been initiated by Aldamir II, Lord of Hazaj Tollin, the most predominant city of the league. For the colonists, this new freedom meant exemption from tribute, not independence from Númenor. Tar-Ciryatan, greedy for wealth, began to oppress the Men of Middle-earth, sending his servants to seize gems and precious metals from its peoples. The mixed ancestry of the Bellakarani naturally gave cause for concern, wondering if they would be subject to these decrees. Wishing to preserve his reputation as a benefactor of the colonists, the High King granted immunity to both the Adûnâi and the Bellakaze when this tribute was ordered.
Diplomacy and insurrection
In S.A. 2029, King Tar-Atanamir came to the throne of Númenor, reversing his father's decree and demanding tribute of all of the cities of Bellakar. However, several cities refused to pay this, and the king had no loyal officials or garrisons in the colonies.
Hazaj Tollin and Thorombar, the richest cities in Bellakar, received a royal envoy that declared that the king would use military might to enforce the tribute should it prove necessary. The threat of war had never been levied against the Bellakaranî, and they realised that their situation was hopeless, giving into the king's demand.
Atanamir realised that he could increase his revenues further still by playing the cities against each other, promising a reduction in tribute for those cities that pledged other sources of income to the Sceptre, often precipitating strife: the Dúnadan ruling classes shifted the burden of royal finance upon the Bellakaze and the Bellanarûd, while the more martially oriented cities conducted raids against neighboring territories in order to satisfy the king's treasury.
Ultimately, Atanamir's quest to keep the Bellakaranî in check failed, as repression and wastage eroded the loyalties of the Bellakaranî toward Númenor. The constant threat of war overburdened the cities, leaving them with too many ships and restless warriors. In S.A. 2222, one year after the accession of the new king, Tar-Ancalimon, the new lord of Hazaj Tollin, Ciryandur II, took the title Tar-Heruhyarmen (Q. "Lord of the South") in rebellion against the Line of Elros Tar-Minyatur. Ciryandur declared a campaign against the so-called Tyranny of Armenelos, arguing that Atanamir and Ancalimon were denying their Númenórean heritage by treating the Dúnedain no differently than the Bellakaze. Ciryandur saw the king's refusal of the Valar and the growth of the King's Men as a sign that he had lost the right to rule by the Grace of the Valar, and that rebellion was the sacred duty of all true Dúnedain.
This propaganda was ingeniously formulated and brilliantly timed, but had its flaw in declaring himself king, in effect asking the people to exchange one tyrant for another, and also by ignoring the grievances of the Bellakaze and focusing only on the grievances of the Dúnedain.
The Fifteen Years War
The Fifteen Years War was subsequently fought between Númenor and Bellakaze. In the first year of war, the events favored Ciryandur, for he controlled all warships, cities, and their soldiery, while Númenor only maintained a small, elite royal army.
Following the custom of the King's Men, Mornion II, lord of Korlea, changed his name to Mûrathôr and aligned himself with the king, attacking Hazaj Tollin in surprise. Korlea had been founded as a garrison against the Bôzishnarûd and was always regarded with suspicion by the other cities. Mûrathôr perceived that the King of Númenor would favour him if he proved his part in quashing the rebellion. Some cities in Bellakar not aligned with Ciryandur followed the lead of Mûrathôr, and the king now had ports in southern Bellakar. In S.A. 2237, the fighting came to an end after fifteen years when both sides were too exhausted to continue fighting. The rebellious cities accepted peace terms and were placed under the supervision of Mûrathôr's successors and allies. The Council of Free Cities was abolished in S.A. 2240, and the cities were held in stewardship by the King's Men. The acts of cruelty that followed war and the survivors were left with a bitter taste in their mouths. The victory of Mûrathôr polarized the colonists, as many never wished to align themselves with the King's Men. The city of Najmol was renamed Balkuzôr, the first city to receive an Adûnaic name.
The War of the Renegades
To the south of Bellakar lay the vast Númenórean domains of Ciryatanórë. In S.A. 2250, Herundil renounced his allegiance to the Line of Elros and took the title Tar-Raumoher, the Storm King. He openly declared his alliance with Sauron and revealed his possession of one of the Rings of Power. He was allied to The Seventh of the Nazgûl, who also possessed a Ring of Power. In T.A. 2280, Umbar and Bellakar were called to field armies on behalf of the king, but only Bellakar answered the call. Bellakar helped vanquish the threat, and Herundil was destroyed, or so it appeared at the time.
The New Order
The victory of the king was also a victory for the King's Men. Tulwang and Ciryatanórë proper now lay totally under Ancalimon’s control, ripe for reordering. Ancalimon’s first act was to issue a decree that, in recognition of their loyalty to him, all lands where the Ârûwanâi held sway should abandon their Eldarin names in exchange for names of the Adûnaic tongue. Ciryatanórë was renamed yet again An-Balkûmagân. So too with its southern neighbors: Hyarnúmentë became Khâradûnê, Mírenórë now Zimrathâni. Bellakar followed suit: Isillondë became Nîlûlôni, the coastal road of Falassëmen Batân an-Sakal, Osto Nórëanarva Ûrêzâyaneth, and Sornomar Narîk-zadan. Even rivers changed their names: Rossëhloä became the Rôthurush and Lokosírë the Lôkhurush.
Ancalimon divided the lands under his control into three provinces: Northern and Southern Tulwang, and coastal An-Balkûmagân. The administration of these regions was entrusted to five regents: Ârûzîr of Korlea for Northern Tulwang; Imrazôr, lord of Inzillôni in Khâradûnê, for Southern Tulwang; An-Balkûmagân would be jointly governed by Dâiruzôr of Târik an-Narduvî, Zagarkhâd of Khâradûnê, and Zagarthôr of Zimrathâni. In theory, the king could transfer the regency to anyone he pleased, but in practice the honor became hereditary to certain families. These regents would form a council, the Bâitha’n-Khôrî, that would meet annually at the site of Marto Andúna (to be rebuilt as Zadan an-Adûn) on behalf of the royal interest. The authority of each of the Khôrî would be coeval with the others, and any resolution would require the assent of the majority except in war (during which time they would submit to the rule of an elected chief). A chief regent would function during peacetime as well, but the tenure of their office would be limited to five years and could not be repeated, being rotated according to their country of origin: first Korlea, next Khâradûnê, then Zimrathâni. Korlea thus came to exercise hegemony over both the northern and southern coasts of the Bay of Tûlwang, giving it exclusive control over the maritime trade routes to Bôzisha-Dâr (a privilege which it did not hesitate to enforce, levying substantial tariffs on merchant vessels and winning new political allies through the distribution of exemptions). Korlea soon became the wealthiest city of Bellakar, and its domestic territory continued to grow through colonization or forcible imposition on its neighbors.
In S.A. 2452, Korlea and its easternmost colony of Târik an-Narduvî (now a power in its own right) concluded a treaty defining Korlea and its allies as a distinct and privileged region within Bellakar. This was the last straw for those cities still free of Korlean influence. Korlea was aiming for total mastery over Bellakar, and its victims were bereft of any institutions by which to oppose its strong-handed tactics.
Tar-Telemmaitë, Ancalimon’s son and successor, was an avaricious monarch, concerned only with his own wealth. Bellakarian pleas for him to curb Korlean aggrandizement fell on deaf ears when Korlean ambassadors informed the king that their territorial expansion was being made in order to conduct a thorough search of the Auz Bekar for possible sources of mithril (a ruse supported by appropriate testimony from bribed geological experts and surveyors from Umbar). Unfortunately for the Bellakaranî, it took Telemmaitë 74 years after the Korlean expansion to die and be succeeded by a more just and sensible ruler. This was Herucalmo, who from S.A. 2526 governed Númenor and its colonies in the name of his idle wife, Queen Tar-Vanimeldë. While not overly sympathetic towards cities with a history of rebellion, Herucalmo was at least pragmatic enough to realize that, should Korlean power be left free to wax unfettered, the revenues of Bellakar would soon all be flowing into Korlean rather than royal coffers. He accordingly restored the lands of the Sîres valley to Nîlûlôni, confining Korlea’s territory to its pre-2452 boundaries (though allowing it to retain its privileged status as a domain exempt from the laws that bound other Bellakarian cities).
Herucalmo outlived his queen, succeeding upon her death in 2637 as Tar-Anducal. Four centuries had now passed since the War of the Renegades, and southern Middle-earth had become a very different place. The King’s Men had long since ceased to be a distinct "party" in Númenórean politics. By and large, the ideals and mores they promulgated had by this time saturated Adûnaic culture as a whole. Under Anducal’s rule, the shift in power resulting from this change was felt in both Bellakar and its southern neighbors. For the latter it meant the dissolution of the Bâitha’n-Khôrî. Vexed at the irresponsible use of Tulwang and An-Balkûmagân for the selfaggrandizement of their neighbors (and its undesirable effects on the royal tribute), Anducal terminated the Bâitha and reunified its three provinces into a single lordship centered in Anbalukkhôr.
The new lord of Anbalukkhôr, Azrubên of Rómenna, was a powerful King's Man, recently joined in marriage to the royal house, who had proven his worthiness and competence through years of service as Herucalmo’s factor in Southlands. Azrubên shared the king’s attitude towards the political situation on the Realm of Bellakar, and lost no time in curtailing Bellakarian influence there. In this he found an important ally in Abârhîn, the lord of Balkuzôr.
Azrubên’s efforts to break Korlea's stranglehold on the sealanes immediately ingratiated him among the Bozishnarûd, thereby securing his interests in that direction. His actions impressed upon the king that the situation in Bellakar was quite different from that of An-Balkûmagân. There the problem was precisely the reverse: it was the growing power of Korlea that was causing the deterioration of its neighboring colonies. Anducal's solution, prompted by the counsels of Azrubên and Abârhîn, was to reinstate the Council of Free Cities —the Bâitha'n-Kadîr— in S.A. 2638.
In S.A. 2646 a coalition of embittered Southrons fell hard upon Mardrûak and the inland frontiers of Bellakar. Never having experienced a coordinated, large-scale assault from the desert, the Kadîr were unprepared and their territories suffered great loss and destruction. Seeing the straits into which the fledgling Bâitha had plunged, Tar-Anducal commanded Inzilkhâd, one of his trusted captains in Umbar, to crush the revolt. Inzilkhâd knew well the mind of the nomads of Haradwaith, having long dealt with the Ielút tribes on Umbar’s own borders. If the instigators of the uprising were crushed, the desert raiders would soon lose momentum and withdraw from the coastal regions. Inzilkhâd landed a strong force at the mouth of the Sîres late in 2647, just seven miles downriver from Pon Agar’s headquarters at Gull Rock, a granite butte that housed a shrine to Ladnoca the Moon. Deploying auxiliaries from Korlea and Balkuzôr to screen his infantry from the nomads, Inzilkhâd laid siege to Gull Rock and captured its summit by stratagem. Pon Agar and the defenders were massacred, and the rebellion came to an end soon afterwards. The Bâitha’n-Kadîr was here to stay. But so was Inzilkhâd, receiving permission from Tar-Anducal the following year to erect a military colony on Gull Rock. Inzilkhâd named this city Zimrazadan, the House of the Jewel, after the glittering, ruby-walled caves by whose secret passage he had taken the enemy stronghold. The incorporation of Zimra-zadan into the Bâitha definitively set the boundary between Bellakar and Bôzisha-Mîraz. Over the next two centuries, the Kadîr continued to supplant Bozishnara influence along Bellakar’s desert frontier, culminating in the induction of the oasis-town of Khibil Êphalak into the league in 2849. Four years earlier, men from Nîlûlôni had discovered significant deposits of copper near the site of a long-deserted Cuind settlement during an exploration of the inner reaches of the Auz Bekar, and a few years later, a small Númenórean colony sprung up. The inclusion of this distant oasis ensured a constant connection to the caravan routes for Nîlûlôni, since the new colony, even more so than the other cities of Bellakar, did not possess enough arable land to become self-sufficient. Khibil Êphalak also served to counterbalance the unceasing efforts by Korlea to dominate the league economically. More importantly, though, it extended the gaze of the Adûnâi beyond the narrow confines of their seaward lands, opening their eyes to a vast continental expanse, where an old power was rising anew.
In S.A. 2280, Sauron judged that his strength was not yet sufficient to challenge Númenórean supremacy in Middle-earth. But now, nigh on a millennium later, his strength had grown great indeed. At first, the Dark Lord contented himself with clandestine attempts to goad the colonies into renewed rebellion against their king. He essayed this through spies sent to subvert influential individuals to his worship, all the while deflecting attention from Sauron’s machinations by preying upon Númenórean distrust of the increasingly oppressed Bellakaze and Bellanarûd.
Númenor's overweening pride of race caused the Bellakaze to be gradually stripped of political power, while its increasing decadence and greed crushed the Bellanarûd with taxes and tribute. Both groups showed increasing bitterness toward their rulers, bringing a dark fear to the Dúnadan masters of the cities. If some leading Númenórean citizen was murdered, or a conflict born—in short, if any evil befell the Kadîr—blame was subtly shifted to the natives.
When Sauron's efforts to shake the loyalty of the Adûnâi failed, he reversed his tactics, appealing instead to the increasingly stigmatized Bellakaze and Bellanarod. This time Sauron succeeded, since the grievances his emissaries cited were real. Blocked from an open invasion of Bellakar due to its natural defenses of desert and sea, Sauron’s agents inspired the populace to revolt against their Dúnadan overlords. This uprising, called the Nelegaje or “Grievance Revolt,” involved mainly the Bellakaze, with Bellanarod and Aukuag allies. It was dragged out by prolonged guerilla warfare throughout the Bellakarian hinterland.
The Nelegaje broke out in concert with a number of other intrigues and more direct assaults by allies of the Dark Lord, all aimed at Númenórean coastal dominions during the late 3100s and early 3200s. Because of its strategic insulation from Mordor and its position astride the sea passage between Endor and Númenor, Bellakar was one of the first theaters of action for Angor son of Gimilkhâd, kinsman of Tar-Palantir the king, who led the Númenórean reprisal against Sauron’s incursions. With the assistance of this daring captain, the Bâitha’n-Kadîr managed to suppress the Bellakaze and their Bellanara allies beginning in 3240, enabling Angor to use Bellakar as a secure base of operations for his campaigns further north and south.
Angor ingratiated himself with the Bâitha by setting its affairs in order and restraining his troops from despoiling colonists. His harsh treatment of the rebels, on the other hand, won him little favor from that quarter. They had been humbled but not reconciled, and not long after Angor withdrew his forces in 3243 they revolted again, seeing no hope of restoring their fortunes by peaceful means.
The resumption of hostilities, though in harmony with the Dark Lord's designs, scarcely required his prompting at this point. This second insurrection, however, proved less of a threat to the Kadîr, since the strength of the rebels had been greatly weakened in the Nelegaje. No appeal for royal military assistance was required. Defeated, the Bellakaranî that still held out withdrew into the hinterland and occupied defensible positions that lay far from the zone of Númenórean hegemony; the Adûnâi, content with having rid themselves of the most troublesome element of their subject population, made only token efforts in 3260 to dislodge them from their fastnesses in the mountains and hill country.
The Lord of the Dark
The Bâitha’s dilatory response to the Second Revolt stemmed less from negligence than from necessity. Twelve years after Angor’s withdrawal from Bellakar, Tar-Palantir died and was succeeded by his daughter, Tar-Míriel. The ambitious Angor, relying upon his influence among the Ârûwanâi, his popularity with the people of Númenor and, above all, the armed might of his fleet and soldiery, claimed the Sceptre and forcibly took Míriel to wife in 3255 declaring himself Ar-Pharazôn. In that same year, Sauron named himself “King of Men,” this time with vaster resources and manpower to defend the claim. A great war was brewing on the horizon, and the Bâitha knew that it must prevent its military forces from becoming embroiled in the suppression of local rebels while the fate of the world lay in the balance. It was the Dark Lord who struck the first blow, concentrating his assault upon the haven and hinterland of Umbar, Númenor’s strongest foothold in Middle-earth. The Bâitha dutifully sent troops to aid their northern brethren while the king prepared his fleets. Support, however, was minimal, since the Bâitha had disarmed most of its Bellakaze auxiliaries and militia following the revolt, and feared to weaken the league army at home, lest the rebel Bellanarûd exploit the situation to their advantage. Fortunately for the Kadîr, the conflict with Sauron proved unexpectedly short-lived. In 3262 Ar-Pharazôn elicited the Dark Lord’s surrender at Umbar and bore him back to Númenor as a hostage for the complaisance of his subjects and allies in Middle-earth. Within three years, however, Sauron had won the king’s trust as a counselor and persuaded him to turn to the worship of Mulkhêr, Lord of the Dark, in pursuit of immortality. The ramifications of this event for the history of Bellakar were profound. Massaging the already inflated arrogance of the Númenóreans, Sauron led the Dúnedain to regard other Men as nothing more than slaves—to be burned alive in sacrifice to Mulkhêr if they should in any way displease their masters. Not all the Dúnedain of Bellakar embraced this belief with equal enthusiasm. Many, having lived out their lives in “the lands of swift death and little bliss,” were less affected by their homeland’s obsession with deathlessness—yet none were unmoved by it. Some of the more practical-minded citizens of Nîlûlôni, Hazaj Tollin and Narîk-zadan saw no point in giving further provocation to rebellion among the Bellakaranî. The fanaticism of the king, however, all but guaranteed involvement in the cult as the new road to royal favor. Carrying favor with the king had, throughout Bellakar’s history, proven itself the most potent ingredient in fueling rivalries among the Kadîr. The city of Korlea, traditional stronghold of royalist support in Bellakar since the Fifteen Years War, was the first member of the league to adopt the cult as its official religion. A temple to Mulkhêr was erected in Korlea in imitation of the one that now stood in the midst of Armenelos, and through the representations of its asapthubêth (backed up by the encouragement of the king) the Bâitha declared relentless war upon the intransigent Bellanarod still holding out on the desert frontier of the league. The Bellakaze of Nîlûlôni, Hazaj Tollin and Narîk-zadan that submitted to the Bâitha following the Second Revolt were granted protection from the cult as a matter of civic integrity—the constitutional framework of the league still provided some check against the arbitrary encroachments of Korlea—but in conformity with the king’s new law his non-Dúnadan subjects were deprived of all political rights within the Bâitha. In these cities, the Bellakaze received better treatment than in southern Bellakar, and many of the Adûnâi continued to privately regard them as allies. The other asapthubêthî approved the war vote less out of a desire to exterminate the rebels than in hopes it would occupy the belligerence of Korlea and prevent its ambitious citizens from using the cult as a pretext for eroding the authority of the other Kadîr. The campaign of subjugation that followed in 3280 might have been swiftly concluded had royal forces been sent to strengthen the league army—the king being eager to feed the fires of Mulkhêr’s altar with Bellakarian blood—but Korlea begged Ar-Pharazôn to allow them space to prove their unassisted zeal for the Lord of the Dark. It was Ârûwanâ politics as usual, and the Kadîr could illafford to oppose this demonstration of religious fervor. Nor did they yet feel impelled to dissuade Korlea from its crusade, buying time to counter its newfound influence by other means. Like the revolt that preceded it, this was to be a drawn-out affair of hill and mountain warfare. But the novel opportunities for Other Hands to royal favor afforded by the legalization of slavery which it offered altered the character of this conflict. The goal was no longer the restoration of order, but the provocation of further fighting. The Bellanarûd fought valiantly, realizing the implacable nature of the foe, and on several occasions they were victorious due to their mastery of the terrain; but ultimately they were always forced to withdraw or face utter destruction as the Bâitha’s steel-clad soldiery gathered before their strongholds. The fighting dragged on intermittently for a generation until all remaining pockets of resistance along the coasts and in the adjacent Bellakarian hill country had been annihilated. The surviving Bellanarûd retreated deep into the Auz Bekar, so that the Korleans could no longer pretend to be “liberating” the league territories from “heathen aggression.” The costs of the war were beginning to weigh heavily upon the Bâitha, so that eventually even the most moderate of the Kadîr were forced to participate in the wanton trafficking in plunder and human life to finance their military obligations to the Bâitha. Korlea, however, remained always at the forefront of the slaughter and the profit, until it recovered the economic supremacy it had once wielded following the War of the Renegades. The prominence of Korlea propelled its rivals (especially Hazaj Tollin) to emulate Mulkhêr’s followers. Not that the cult ever took hold publicly in any of the other cities. Certainly no temple to Mulkhêr was raised to vie with that of Korlea—the Men of Korlea would see to it that they alone enjoyed that distinction. But in this time of doubt and distrust it was inevitable that many ambitious individuals would fall prey to the promises of the Lord of the Dark. Factions arose within the Kadîr, some urging official adoption of the king’s worship, others opposing its emulation, either out of genuine principle or from fear of its consequences for law and order. But Korlea had only begun to taste power. Chafing for more glorious triumphs, the Korleans strove to provoke a war with Bôzisha-Mîraz. Contending that the merchant princes of the Dar dominated the caravan and sea-ways at the king’s expense, the Korlean asapthubêth urged the Bâitha in 3300 to levy exorbitant tariffs on all traffic passing into Bellakar from Rây and all shipping passing out of the Bay of Tulwang through “Bellakarian waters,” meaning the entire bay. To add injury to insult, Korlea alleged that the constitution of Balkuzôr, once a Bozishnara colony and still a center for trade with Rây, unjustly discriminated against its Númenórean citizens, its government corrupted by powerful mercantile interests. They demanded that Balkuzôr be allowed to become a “true” Númenórean city, purged of its heathen degeneracy under the protection of Korlea and Mulkhêr. Such proposals were designed to elicit Bozishnara opposition—and royal approval, since they would enhance the king’s revenues and encourage the worship of the Dark. This placed the other Kadîr in a difficult position. The Korleans were playing the same card they had in the campaign against the Bellanarod, only this time the consequences of joining in—or of refusing to do so—were dangerous. To victimize local recalcitrants was one thing; to enter upon an unprovoked war against a major foreign power was not only risky, but detrimental, since the economic stability of the league depended upon commerce with the city of Bôzisha-Dâr. Such a conflict could only benefit Korlea—to the peril of the other Kadîr, as Korlea’s designs for hegemony over Balkuzôr clearly revealed. The only viable alternative the Kadîr had was to stall for time. The Bâitha prescinded from putting the issue to a vote, ruling instead that a delegation be sent to lay the matter before the king in Armenelos. The Bozishnarûd did likewise, anxious to stymie Korlean belligerence by negotiating a peaceful settlement.