One of the traditional seven Hirdyr of Cardolan, Girithlin was founded towards the end of the Eriadoran Wars in the 27th century of the Second Age. One of the founders of its noble house was among the Numenorean sorcerers who successfully used magic to drive the Awakened trees out of Minhiriath and into the Eryn Vorn. The Girithli had always led the Cardolandrim in the campaign to keep the evils of the Eryn Vorn confined to the peninsula, and the Beffraen held a special grudge against them.In the 15th century of the Third Age the friendship between the folk of Harlindon and Girithlin was broken by the crimes of Orchaldil of Girithlin. Thereafter there was no traffic between the immortals and the Dunedain of the region. The pressure on Girithlin intensified throughout the 17th century. In T.A. 1670, the last legitimate Baron abandoned Minas Girithlin, leading a stream of refugees up the Baranduin to Tharbad and thence south to Gondor. The lord fled some unnamed fear, rather than the pirates who had actually overrun his last riverside holdings. The pirate leaders who enteed the keep perished mysteriously, and the Arthadan expedition that cleared the pirates off the river simply sealed the doors shut, leaving behind a collection of strangely mutilated bones. In the next century, a Girithli cousin, a soldier long resident and much respected in Fornost, came south with a band of retainers and reclaimed Minas Girithlin. He succeeded because the Beffraen and Orcs had weakened one another badly by constant warfare. The soldier carved out and protected a small territory around the keep and plowed again the fields abandoned almost a century before. He told his friend, the commander at Iach Sarn, little about what he had found in the tower, but he did say that "fire keeps things down" and "a little drink clears out the dreams." Eventually he confided one of these dreams to his friend: himself lying helpless on a bed, while around him man-like shadows, their eyes burning red with hatred, held him down, and flames flickered all around. The final Beffraen attack came, several years later. About 1709 the fortress of Minas Girithlin was destroyed by the Beffraen.The Girithli soldier was immobilized with a fever; without his leadership his people were helpless. The last servant to escape over the walls, as the torch-bearing tribesmen poured in, reached Tharbad a month later, still babbling and insane, raving about dead men stalking him through the hallways and his poor master trapped and helpless in his bedchambers, awaiting the end. The Beffraen who burned the interior out of Minas Girithlin sealed the door and put a warning sigil on it. They had no use for such places. For the next thousand years, through war and peace—eventually blending so much into the hillside as to resemble a natural spike of rock— the tower stood as a mute witness to the fall of the Dunedain. Not until the Fourth Age did Men again cross its threshold.
The Doom of the Girithli
"Some two centuries ago, a Hir of Girithlin thought it prudent to make better acquaintance with the Elves of Lindon. He was basically a just and decent man, and gained several friends among the Lindon border wardens in his youth. With patience and cleverness, he expanded his friendships and became one of the few Lords of Men permitted to travel in Harlindon and to meet with the Elvish Wandering Companies who still crossed Cardolan regularly under the cover of night. "He grew quite fond of his Elvish friends, and so did two of his four children. The older sons, like many powerful men, were jealous and uneasy around the First-born, who had so much that the Girithli's wealth and privilege could not buy. Eventually the Hir grew old and died, and his sons were reminded of that most important thing the Elves possessed. While they did not act on their jealousy, they did pass their resentment on to their children. "It came to pass that one of these children, known as Encaldil, became the heir of Girithlin. His was, in his youth, taken secretly by his uncle to Parth Ainatir, an Elvish camping glade. There he became enamored of the First-born, much as his grandfather had been. He returned regularly and secretly to the glade thereafter, and his uncle hoped that he might be influenced to sense and wisdom by these encounters. "But Encaldil was his father's son, selfish and proud. When one day the Hir criticized him for not seeking out a wife of such quality as to improve the family's blood-line and position, Encaldil fled Minas Girithlin and went to Parth Ainatir. He found a large party of Elves there; the foulness of his mood and manner offended them, but out of respect for his grandfather they tolerated his presence. Wine seemed to calm Encaldil, and a Elven maiden for whom he felt affection strove to lull him to sleep with song. He attacked her, mixing obscene suggestions, offers of marriage, and threats of violence—and she fled from the glade. "The glade's lanterns darkened instantly; Encaldil, sobered by the sudden wave of anger rising around and against him, drew his sword. He threw a challenge into the darkness, announcing an apology for his display of temper and threatening to cut his way out of the glade if it was not accepted promptly. When only silence answered him, he struck about him, calling the Elves cowards, and suggesting that they would, themselves, benefit from a mixing of their blood with that of a mannish warrior. "As these words left his lips, a blinding flash of light struck Encaldil like a blow and held him in its glare. He jerked his sword upward to protect himself, but far too late; a hand darted out of the shadows, seized his wrist, bent it downward, and broke it. As the weapon fell from his grasp, a tall, broad-shouldered figure was revealed. '"Do you know me?' the Elf-lord asked. I am Glorfindel o Imladris, child! Do you know that name?' "Encaldil made no answer, but his arm was in a grip of iron, and he cried out in pain and spat an obscenity. "'Fool!' cried Glorfindel, 'Fool and fool again! I need not punish you for your insolence. Born in murder and madness was your line, and by murder and madness your line will end! Beware the red fires of vengeance!' "With that, Glorfindel threw Encaldil to the ground. When the boy rose again, the Elves had gone. Never again did the Fair Folk return to Parth Ainatir, and never did they speak again to the Lords of Girithlin, and never again did their Hiri sleep in peace, for wondering ever how the prophesy would be fulfilled."
Settlements and points of note
- Jeff J. Erwin:A Traveler's Guide to Lindon