Quenta Eluwë - Chapter Three: The Coming of Oromë and the Battle of the Powers
High King Eldarion could not speak and neither could Alcarin, for a while after Eluwë stopped speaking. Silence reigned as Eldarion pondered Eluwë and his mention of the ancient names from the Elder Days that he knew so well from his father, King Elessar. Ingwë, High King of all the Eldalië; Finwë, King of the Noldor, slain by Morgoth Bauglir; Elwë Singollo, the Lord of Beleriand who was surnamed Elu Thingol and slain by the Naugrim for a Silmaril of Fëanor; Olwë, King of the Teleri in Valinor; and finally Elmo, little of which was known besides that he fathered Celeborn of Doriath, betrothed of Galadriel. And now, here was Eluwë, eldest of all the Eldar, here in Middle Earth, in Gondor! He had heard but whispers of the ancient Elf Lord in the old legends.
Finally, Eluwë spoke. "My Lords, it is late in the hours of the stars. The fire dies down. Perhaps the King Eldarion and the Ranger Alcarin should lay themselves down to tender dreams of long lost Ages? If you would have it so, I can continue my story if you will meet me outside under the signs of Varda that she set in the sky so long ago."
Alcarin replied eagerly, "Yes, m'Lord! I should be glad to hear the rest."
Eluwë laughed indulgently. "I should warn you, son of the Atani, that my story is long. It shall take many nights by starlight and firelight to tell the endless Ages I have seen. It stretches forth from the Awakening to the Battle of the Powers to the Great Darkness in Valinor to the Fall of Thangorodrim to the Making of the Rings of Power to the Fall of Sauron, the bondservant of Melkor."
`Four ages it has been, my mortal friends. I have kept my story in my fëa, untold to no one but one son of Fëanor. I found him walking on the shores of Beleriand, which is lost now, singing a lament of his misfortunes. I told him my story to comfort him as I told him when he was a small winë. Now, I tell you my story for soon the memory of it will be gone from Arda which I have loved so much and for so long. Valinor beckons to me once again. I grow weary of the mortal world."
King Eldarion spoke, "Then I am greatly honored, Eldest. I shall ask the greatest of Gondor's scribes to come and hearken to your story to record it for all time. In fact, I would like very much for you to speak with my scribe tomorrow at midday and recall what you have related to us."
"I shall do that gladly, my Lord. Now I shall retire for the coming day. Night and I await you, my Lords," Eluwë exclaimed. With that, the tall Elven Lord rose and strode out of the Hall of Kings.
Night had fallen to see Eluwë sitting in the Courtyard of the White Tree beneath the stars with King Eldarion, Alcarin, and a bearded scribe with many gray hairs named Belen.
Eluwë asked, "My dear Belen, are you ready to begin?"
"Yes, my Lord. You may begin." And Eluwë did.
I took in the orphaned sons of Imin, Tata, and Enel. There was great love between us and they were as sons to me and they also loved each other. They might as well have been blood brothers. Ingwë, the eldest, was always aloof with his `siblings', but I know that he harbored great love for them and felt their every hurt and joy. He was as my firstborn. In fact, I can recall one moment with great fondness of me and the young Ingwë.
I had been ministering to yet another Quendi who had lost their spouse to the Dark Rider. Ingwë was with me as I desired for him to learn what it meant to be a good leader. Strong, but compassionate was my refrain. I was making small headway with the bereaved when a messenger came and I had to leave for perhaps half an hour.
Lo and behold, I came back to find the mourner laughing gaily with Ingwë in the course of a game that Ingwë had learned from Finwë. Ai, nothing is quite like the ability of young Quendi to heal hearts! After the griever had left in high spirits and a happy tear in their eye, I came into the room and took stock of the now serious Ingwë, engrossed in something outside the window. I stood for a minute and was overcome with great love and emotion for the fair haired child of Imin, so I strode over to Ingwë and grasped him in a fierce hug. "Ai, Eluwion! One of the greatest of Gifts given to me by Eru!" was my exclamation.
After a moment of that warm embrace, I suddenly remembered that he was truly Imin's son, and I lowered him aghast, wondering what he thought. Nay! I should not have worried. Ingwë loved me! This serious son of Imin looked up at me and suddenly broke out in a great smile and blurted, "I am your Eluwion, Atar!" With that, he wrapped his small arms about my waist and returned the fierce hug. Much later, in the time of the Great Darkness, did Ingwë tell me that that day was his most treasured memory and that he will remember it to the end of days.
That day remains as one of my happiest memories of my long life. From that day forward, I was no longer just an adoptive foster parent to the orphan royals. All were my sons. All were my Eluwion! From that day forward, Ingwë, Finwë, Elwë, Olwë, and Elmo were henceforth recognized by all Quendi to be sons of Eluwë. So it was.
After that great day, the years passed swiftly. Ingwë, Finwë, and Elwë grew to become greatly loved and revered by the Quendi. Olwë and Elmo were still young, but quickly growing to full stature. One fateful day came, which dealt a blow to me. I shudder to consider what could have happened if Ingwë, Finwë, and Elwë were not there by some unhappy circumstance.
It was a beautiful night under the stars. Unbeknown to us, a lone Quendi was running from the thralldom of Melkor and taking the enemy along with him. The woeful figure entered our camp under the shadow of the Orocarni quite suddenly and interrupted our singing. The man could not speak; such fear was written in his face. Foresight came to me, of fire and shadow and I grew disturbed. So then I ordered all able young male Quendi to come to me and sent swift messengers to my three sons who were afield hunting.
The onslaught came suddenly. There were many Urqui, the likes of which we had not seen or heard of since the slaying of our Eldest and their spouses all those years ago. Fortunately, they were weak and inexperienced so many an Urqui fell to a spear. Then came on Kosomet and three Valaraukar on their heels. They slew many a vibrant son of the Quendi before I, Eluwë, Lord of the Quendi was able to come forth. Kosomet, in fact, laughed and slew a path threw the Urqui to reach me.
That battle is not sung of for it was hard and long and it was grievous for both combatants. The Urqui did not boast of it and we did not sing of it. We were evenly matched. I, the High King, had a great spirit of fire that could contest with this Maia that too was a spirit of fire.
Finally, the great Kosomet felled me by a thong of flame wrapped around my knee. I was pulled to my knees before the Lord of Balrogs laying supine for the killing blow when suddenly a great Horn blew. Now that I can compare, it was akin to the Valaroma in power and strength and even Kosomet quailed upon hearing it. It was the horn of Ingwë and was soon followed by the horns of Finwë and Elwë. Quite suddenly, my sons burst forth from the trees with spears at the ready with the sole exception of Finwë.
Nay, Finwë would not be happy with a simple spear so he had to forge the first sword. Never do I regret it. It was by that sword that I was delivered. It was that sword that drew fiery smoking blood from Kosomet and caused the Valaraukar to retreat. It was by that sword that we slew all Urqui in our settlement.
It was many hours of the stars before we could finally be at peace. We had fought and slain the enemy in battle for the first time. The Quendi were exuberant with victory. I, however was not so sure we could claim victory. So were my sons. The valiant Finwë said to me, "Atar! I do not believe this will be the end of the conflict."
Elwë concurred. "Yes, Atar! I counsel that we should make the Quendi, henceforth, ready for battle at any moment. Remember our slain parents, my Lord!"
Ingwë then spoke for the first time. "Atar, these counsels are well and good. However, we should go speak with the Quendi that the Urqui were pursuing. We must not forget him. He needs help, perhaps counsel, and perhaps he can give us some counsel himself."
So we did. I came forth and cared for the injured Quendi with the assistance of my great sons. It was Finwë who first broached the question, "Why were you running from the Urqui?" We did not expect the answer that he received.
The first thing he said is, "My Lord, I have been under the thralldom of Melkor!" It was as if he expected us all to know who Melkor was. Ai! Melko did his job all too well of disguising himself to the Quendi! As we all stared at the unknown Quendi, he realized we did not know of the accursed Vala directly.
`My lords, I am Rámanumo of the host of Enel and Enelyë. It was perhaps a year after we had awakened that the Dark Rider of the dark god, Melkor, captured me. There they tortured me and tried to twist me into one of the evil ones...that is, those who raided this camp."
Elwë exclaimed, "What! Those are Quendi? The Urqui?"
Rámanumo sighed heavily and said, "Yes, my Lord. They are, it is sad, but true. Melkor has used long slow cruel arts upon them. They descend, all of them, from one female Quendi. She is a terrible sight and her twin sons are even worse. They are the Lords of the Urqui. For you see, Melkor has outbred the Urqui from that original bloodline and infused their blood with other Quendi. However, the new generations lack the strength and ferocity of the very first ones. Ai! I remember the woman when the Rider brought her into Utumno. She was beautiful with hair of shining gold and a tenacious spirit that never quailed or wavered. Alas, Melkor broke the shining maiden Eluwën despite all her valiant spirit and her twin sons were even more helpless. Indeed, they were born right into the hands of cruel Kosomet."
Ai! I have never felt so alone and sad when I heard of the sad fate of my betrothed. If not for the strong supporting hands of Ingwë, I should have collapsed upon the floor in despair. I felt the hot tears well up in my eyes as they had so long ago. Finwë and Elwë then swiftly moved to assist me into a chair and held me tight as I silently cried for my beloved and my sons! My sons! Ai! Long have I mourned over them, even Ages after they were slain by Elwë, by then Elu Thingol, in long lost Doriath.
It was Ingwë who finally led me out of the room and laid me upon my bed as if I were a child. As I mourned in silence, I spoke to Ingwë, "Hail, Ingwë! You are beyond all my dreams. You have matured so much. I am proud of you, my Eluwion!"
After the questioning of Rámanumo was complete, all my other sons came into the room to comfort me: Finwë, Elwë, Olwë, and Elmo. They all formed a circle around me and connected fëa to fëa with me. Ai, my sons! Again I say, what would I have done without them? I should have perished of grief from all Arda long ago, but for my strong sons!
Yet more decades passed swiftly. Ingwë, Finwë, Elwë, and even Olwë and Elmo were grown to full stature. We, the Quendi, were stronger then in later Ages and so it was a tremendous thing to see the sons of Imin, Tata, and Enel in the strength of young adulthood. Not even the Valaraukar of Melkor would threaten Ingwë, Finwë, or Elwë lightly, yet however they were a great threat.
Despite the coming of Rámanumo decades earlier, we still knew naught but whispers of Melkor. He was as a shadowy dark god to the Quendi who lived in Utumno in the far north where no Quendi dared to go.
With every passing day, the Great Darkness got ever more oppressive. I do not know how we would have fared but for a happy accident. It was late in the hours of the stars when the Quendi took up singing. We sang of joy, hope, and deliverance. Lo! It did appear.
Out of the darkness, came a horse that shone as if it were shining silver in the starlight. At the horse's appearance, some of the Quendi hid and some indeed were lost. However, I stood straight and tall before the horse and swiftly perceived that this was no face of evil, malice, or cruelty that belonged to the rider. Nay! This was a being of light! The light of Aman! The light of the Trees! I loved Oromë's face from the very first.
And Oromë loved us. The following days in which Oromë abode with us as our protector and guide were a blur of bliss and joy for the Quendi. After he had lived amongst us for a little while, he named us anew as the Eldar, the people of the stars. At this, there was much singing and joy in our little camp by Cuiviénen.
There came a time, however, that Oromë came to me and spoke to me of the West, west of west, where the Valar, the powers of the world, dwell. He said that he must go for a little while to tell the Valar of the Eldar and the shadow of Melkor that oppressed us so. At his leaving, the spirits of the Eldalië were dampened, but Oromë assured us of his soon return.
And return he did. He told us of the meeting in Valimar and of how the Valar rejoiced at knowing that the Children of Ilúvatar had finally awoken and were walking the starlit lands of Arda. He also told us of the doubt, amidst joy, about recourse that must be taken regarding Melkor. Even though Oromë never stated explicitly, I do believe he wished for war to be waged upon Melkor.
Finally, Manwë Súlimo summoned him back to Máhanaxar, the Ring of Doom, in Valimar and he hasted there. Upon hearing what the Elder King had to say, he hastened back to Cuiviénen to tell us of the tidings. The Valar would come soon, ready for war.
In three days, the forces of the Valar and Maiar came over the Sea. All of the Eldar were amazed at the strength that came over from Aman. We were full of love, terror, and amazement at seeing the Ainur embodied, especially the Aratar. There was Manwë, Varda, Ulmo, Aulë, Yavanna, Mandos, Nienna, and Oromë. Ai, what beauty we saw that day! Yet Manwë, himself, told all the Eldalië that they were surpassingly fair; even beyond the Ainur themselves.
In these heady days, I remember one Ainu clearly and he was one that I would come to honor very much. He was one of the Maia and is called the Greatest in Arms of all Arda. You know of his name: Eönwë. He came to me as the Herald of Manwë. Over the next few days, we became friends and spent much time together. He has remained one of my true immortal friends throughout the Ages and in later years, I became his brother in arms.
Soon though, the days of peace and beauty were shattered when the Valar and their forces went off to war in the far North. We heard little rumor of the Battle of the Powers except for the great upheavals and their noise in the North. There was rending of the earth, the sea roaring, and great glows as of great fires on the Northern horizon. We were much afraid, but the Maiar, Ilmarë and Olórin, stayed with us and gave us much comfort. In those days of war, the fashion of the world was much changed, even in protected Cuiviénen.
Long was that siege of the greatest fortress that was and will be. Finally, we heard tidings of hope and joy that Melkor had been captured and bound with that great chain forged by Aulë surnamed Angainor. He then was taken back to Valinor to stand judgement before Manwë, for his great sins against the Valar and the newborn Eldar. These tidings were soon to be dampened by the Herald of Manwë, however.
It came to be that perhaps a week after the news of victory had arrived to Cuiviénen that Eönwë and his host returned. It was the dear lass, Silmë, who again brought sad news to me. At the very least for the girl's sake, it was indirectly. For years, the poor nissë thought she was cursed with bad news. She told me that our outlying sentinels had espied Eönwë's host marching slowly back to Cuiviénen. Naturally I went out to go greet the Maia, and was met with one of the worst sights in my immortal life.
I cried, "Hail! Hail to Eönwë, herald of valiant victory in the North. Hail to the greatest in arms of all Arda beneath the Stars!"
And Eönwë cried, "Hail, Eluwë, High King of the Eldar! I bring sad tidings!" Immediately after his last word, I began to notice the shape...it was a man's...nay, woman's shape in his arms wrapped in fine cloth. Eönwë then exclaimed, "My King, here is your beloved Eluwën! I caution you, do not look lightly upon her face. It is a heavy burden to see what Melkor perpetuated upon her."
I quickly snapped, "Yes! I want to see my Eluwën! Show me."
Eönwë sighed and uncovered her face and I moaned and was so weak kneed, I almost collapsed. Ai! What horror Melkor must have done to her, to mar her so. Eluwën's hair that I remembered as a veritable shower of gold was almost gone and what remained was black. Her skin was mottled between fair white of the Eldar and ash grey of the Urqui. Countless scars marred her face. A trickle of black blood dripped forth from her slightly open mouth which revealed also slight fangs. Eönwë spoke again. "Eluwë, your betrothed is still barely alive, but I warn you, her fëa is gone to Námo Mandos. What remains is a foul shadow of Melkor's will that keeps her hröa alive.
"This is a great abomination and Melkor shall answer for it; my Lord, Manwë, shall see to it. This is an act reprehensible even to Ilúvatar. The stink of it goes up to his halls outside of Eä. The marring of the Firstborn will not be borne!"
I was as in a daze. At the time, his words had scarce impact on me. All I could think of was my scarred Eluwën. Finally, a thought pierced the mist that was my mind. "What of my sons? That is, my sons with Eluwën?"
Eönwë replied solemnly, "They cannot be found. They may have been slain in the battles but I have no tidings whatsoever of them. It is rumored that they were in the Guard of Kosomet ere that rogue spirit escaped out of Utumno, so I surmise they may have survived."
For a while, Eönwë and I stood there, silent as timeless statues as Eluwën's life ebbed away. I knew there was nothing that could be done for her and who was I to attempt to draw her spirit back from Mandos to torment in this marred body. Finally, it came to be that the life of her hröa perished. Yet we stood.
After a while, I felt the presence of my sons beside me. I heard a faint voice. It was Ingwë. "Atar, come. Come to our dwelling and mourn there. Eönwë will care for Amillë. When all is ready, we will have the proper funeral. Until then, come." I think I murmured some assent and then Ingwë, Finwë, and Elwë led me to our home. I think Olwë and Elmo stood solemn like silent sentinels beside the door as I walked in as one bereft of fëa.
Glossary for `Awakening'
fëa- soul; spirit
winë- baby; children; little one
neri- male elf
Minyar- early name for the Vanyar
Lindar- early name for the Teleri
Tatyar- early name for the Noldor
Glossary for `The Coming of Oromë and the Battle of the Powers'
Eluwion- son of Eluwë
Aratar- `the High Ones of Arda'; Valar of chief power and reverence who surpass in majesty and power beyond all compare; there used to be Nine, but One is removed from that number, so Eight remain
nissë- Elvish girl or woman; maiden