Rangers of the North
High upon a bleak, windswept hill in southern Rhudaur lies the ruin of Minas Brethil. Dominating the nearby river valley, the castle stands as a testament to the fallen glory of the elder days of Arnor. It commands a great view of the Mitheithel River, the untilled farmlands to the south and the “hedge-wall” of Cardolan, better known as the Hagavorl. Rising approximately one hundred and eighty feet above the sparse trees of the river valley, it can be seen for miles. Now, however, all that is left of the once mighty fortress are a few broken walls and crumbling towers. Ivy covers the stone walls and weeds grow in the courtyard where children once played. An ominous sense of gloom pervades the air, reminding one of the tragedies that occurred here in Ages Past. Yet there is still beauty present, for flowers bloom in the overgrown gardens and small animals can be seen scurrying from stone to stone. Be not deceived, however, for Minas Brethil has become home to an unseen evil. The Dead walk the halls below the decaying edifice.
Minas Brethil was once the ancestral home of the Melosse family. A wise and benevolent House, their Lords ruled much of the area of southern Rhudaur known as The Angle until the Great Northern War. The Aran-onen-Egladil (S. “Lord of the Angle”) was one of the five Great Nobles of Rhudaur and consequently one of the most powerful men in the realm. The Melosse lands, while not as large as the holdings of some of the northern noble families, were the most economically important, since they provided much of the grain and almost all of the wool that sustained Rhudaur. The Angle also saw a fair amount of mercantile traffic and those tolls along with the taxes of the relatively prosperous common folk made the Lords of Minas Brethil quite rich. This wealth and influence manifested itself, for the heads of the Melosse family often counseled the King and served in powerful positions. Frequently the Aran-onen-Egladil also claimed the second most powerful title in Rhudaur, that of Warden.
So it was in the early years of the Fourteenth century when Rhudaur began its descent into depravity and its alliance with Angmar. Celebindel Melosse was Lord of the Angle and served as Warden of Rhudaur. Aldor was his king and a pawn of the Witch-king. Celebindel saw the evil of Angmar for what it was and did not succumb to the subtle temptations it offered like so many of his brethren. Celebindel rebelled against his corrupt King and took with him many of the Northron mercenaries who had served under him as Warden. He repeatedly rebuffed the attempts by the Rhudauri leaders at reclaiming his strategic lands. Constantly skirmishing tribal Dunlendings and mercenaries from the other side of the Misty Mountains, the Lord of the Angle held out until the First Northern War began in 1352. This year saw the largest orcish military presence in Rhudaur since the War between the Elves and Sauron in the Second Age. The Witch-king pushed his main army into Eredoriath all the way to Amon Sul where a great battle was fought. This all had little to do with the Angle except that the Witch-king’s line of supply went over the Last Bridge. Fearing a threat from the southern Angle to his exposed supply line, the Necromancers chief lieutenant sent a small fraction of his army (a few thousand Orcs and Men) towards Fennas Drunin to eliminate this menace to his flank. Celebindel, knowing the futility of resistance, sent the non-combatants of the region south into Cardolan. He then proceeded to fight a delaying action, allowing many of the commoners to flee to safety. Eventually the forces of Angmar, under a general named Urvacs, forced Celebindel and the remnants of his army to retreat to Minas Brethil. The Angmarim and Orcs besieged the castle and began constructing engines of war. The ensuing siege was short and bloody as the army from Angmar destroyed the front gate at great cost and poured through the breaches into the bailey. The survivors holed up in the tower, but within a week and a half the catapults and onagers reduced the defensibility of Celebindel’s last refuge enough to allow a single siege tower to overthrow the defenders on the roof. Celebindel, his sons and a small percentage of his original army were captured and brought before the priests of the Witch-king. The statue of the founder of House Melosse that had for so long stood in the middle of the bailey was thrown down and a stone altar was erected in its place. Over the course of the next few days all of the captives were sacrificed on the altar to the ritual chanting of the warrior-priests of Angmar. The last to be sacrificed were Celebindel’s sons followed by Celebindel himself. Cursing the men who had allied themselves to the Witch-king, the last Lord of the Angle died on the altar by the sacrificial knives of his enemy’s priests.
Over the next two centuries Minas Brethil and the vale it stands in have been deserted. Stories of Undead coupled with the overall lack of population in this region have been more than enough to keep people from returning to this fertile valley. Occasionally shepherds will wander into the valley looking for fodder for their sheep or shelter from a storm. Sometimes those shepherds do not return. These disappearances and the strange lights emanating from the burned out castle are all the proof the residents of the Angle need to spread rumors about its haunting. Everyone living in this area will warn travelers of the tragic history of this castle and advise them to stay away.