Dior sat now in his chamber as a king content with his kingdom, his power at rest & whose people dwelt in gentle bliss.
His two sons & his daughter now sat before him playing at their ease.
He looked upon Elured & Elurin with great pride for they both held the promise of becoming great lords of the Sindar.
Elured was the elder & like his mother in appearance, fair haired, wide eyed & his features delicate & very fair to behold as was Nimloth whom all deemed was the fairest lady in Doriath.
Elurin the younger was like to his father, dark haired & fairer of face.
Yet Elwing the youngest was a child in the very likeness of Luthien, the same dark tresses, the same smile that brought joy to all who were bequeathed its pleasure & the same dark beauty that promised to resemble that which only the elf ministrels could recall in song.
Indeed the flame of Elwings beauty as she wore the Silmaril at such times as Dior adorned her, was the wonder of all Doriath & it eased their hearts knowing a child of Luthiens beauty blessed their land.
Now the king turned to Elured who looked questioningly up at him,
“Father,” he said,
“Please tell me whyI am called Aranhil by many of our people.”
The king smiled.
“You are the eldest of my children Elured & therefore held to be The Kings Heir, the next in line to the throne.”
“Yet why should it be so if you are already king?”
He paused a moment, then a sudden look of distress came over his fair face.
“Unless you are to leave us! Where are you going father?”
Dior smiled gently,
“I am not going anywhere my son, at least not as far as i can see. Yet know that i too was once named heir of Thingol your great grandsire who is now gone.”
“And where did he go?,” asked Elured,
“Did he tire of ruling his realm & so leave it to you?”
Dior looked at his son gravely.
“Nay Elured, he did not tire of ruling Doriath. He passed on to his long home in the West, for once you are called, you cannot refuse the summons.”
Elured remained silent but Elurin stepped forward,
“The West! Lord Haradion has taught something of it to us in his tutorings. Is that not where the great powers of the world who are called the Valar dwell?”
“Indeed Elurin,” said Dior,
“Yet they are not alone for many elves dwell with them, even those who are of our kin. Indeed that is the long home of all the elves of Middle-earth.”
“Is that where the race of men also go father?,” asked Elurin,
“Is that where our beloved grandsire & grandam have gone?”
Dior answered solemnly,
“It is said that there are also halls set aside for the race of men in the west, yet they tarry not for long within the circles of Arda but soon take to ship & cross the sundering seas that lie at the very edge of the world.
Where they sail to is not known, but this doom is said to be the gift of “The One” to men that the fullness of their fates be achieved elsewhere, outside the circles of Ea.”
Here, Elured broke his silence & said,
“So is that where we shall go if we are ever summoned, as we have some kinship with the race of men?”
Dior gazed at his son for a moment, surprised by his grave question.
He answered truthfully.
“Indeed my son, the blood of men flows in our veins yet if truth be told, I do not know under which kindred we shall be judged.”
But Elured replied,
“And if truth be told on my part, I do not ever want to go into the West or over the sundering seas!
Nor do I want you or any other that i love to go. I would have you refuse the summons & stay here in Doriath & always be king!”
Dior looked at his son & sighed,
“That is perhaps as Thingol would have wished for himself also! Alas it was not fated so, though long did he live & rule.
Now I am king & am content as are my people, yet we know not what is fated ahead.
However, even if it were so that i am doomed to swiftly pass away, it gladdens my heart still to know that you two sons of mine shall become the lords of our people,”
“And,” he added with a sidelong glance, “It is hoped that you shall rule with the same prudential wisdom that I see in your questioning.
But come! Do not think overmuch of such things Elured for your young mind should not be burdened by such grave matters. To bed now for it is late!”
He kissed the brow of each of his children & as they left him he blessed them saying,
“May the Valar protect & bless you & the morning lighten each of your hearts thoughts!”
When they were gone he sat back in his chair in deep thought.
Of late a mood of disquiet had settled over him, a forboding of something that now threatened Doriaths horizon.
All seemed well in his realm, indeed there was more joy & prosperity than ever before yet he was beginning to think that the flame of the Silmaril burned too brightly in the land, blinding him & his people to the many perils that now crept outside his borders. He made a point to himself to give urgent thought to the defense of his realm as the Girdle was no more & he knew there were enemies other than orcs who would see Doriaths destruction.
He turned to the great tapestries that hung in the chamber, one on each wall to the left, right & front of him.
That place was named Sammath Ennin (The Chamber of Birth).
Those tapestries were woven by Melian herself & depicted the most joyous moments of Thingols long life.
To the right was depicted the birth of Thingol & Melians love as it was of their ancient meeting deep within the enchanted forest of Nan Elmoth.
To the left were Thingol & Melian in a scene depicting the birth of their kingdom. They stood before all the Telerin elves who had refused to forsake their lord & leave Middle-Earth for the blessed realm. These would indeed become the Sindar of Eglador which would in time be renamed Doriath. Now there stood Thingol with his Maiar queen & he himself transformed into the likeness of a Maiar lord.
Dior turned his gaze to the largest tapestry of the three that spanned the entire front wall from end to end. It showed a starlit sky that cast a silver sheen over the forest top of Neldoreth. Beneath the beech trees stood a mighty throng of elves, many of whom bore gifts while others bore musical instruments & played to the many who were singing & dancing. At the center of the merrymaking was Thingol whose arms were held about Melian who sat on the green grass at his feet. Yet all eyes in that picture were turned to the babe held in Melians arms for there lay Luthien as she had just come into the world & the green forest floor was dotted with the white flowers of Niphredil that first grew in that hour to greet her.
Dior smiled at the memories of his mother that surfaced. The sound of her sweet song to him as a babe, her tender care for him as a child, her wise instruction to him as a young man & her proud words for him as he came to full manhood. He turned again to the tapestry of Thingol & Melian as they stood before their people.
“Much have i done to preserve your ancient realm O Thingol Lord of Beleriand,” he said softly,
“So shall it remain unless an evil greater than our strength comes to destroy us!”
Even as he said these words, there came a knock at his door.
“Enter!,” said Dior.
Authir his doorwarden entered & bowed,
“My lord, one has come who says he has journeyed from Outer Region & brings with him a message of great import.”
“And what is this message about?,” asked the king.
“I do not know my lord,” replied Authir,
“All he would say when questioned was that all that pertained to the message was for the lord of Doriaths eyes & ears alone. However, he respectfully requested that you not delay to see him as those who had sent him yet awaited your answer.”
At that the feeling of forboding waxed the heavier in Dior’s heart & it seemed to him that a doom long feared were now to be visited upon him & his realm.
“Let him enter,” he said, “And let us not be disturbed.”
Authir bowed & exited the chamber.
Soon there came an elf who haltingly entered as one who is fearful & full of awe in the presence of his lord & liege. He fell to one knee & for a moment was silent with bowed head under the kings stern gaze yet he finally sought courage, raised his eyes & said,
“My lord, i am named Haldir son of Falathar & belong to those of your people who dwell in the forest of Outer Region on the eastern borders of your land.”
The kings face softened,
“Then I welcome you to Menegroth son of Falathar. Rise now & sit with me. Indeed it is seldom that we should see one of our folk from Outer Region grace our fair halls.”
“I am truly deeply honoured my lord,” said Haldir as he sat down before Dior, warmed by the kings gracious words.
“I am also aware of the friendship between your folk & the men of Estolad who dwell hard by our eastern borders. Therefore the honour is mine that i should meet with one of Doriath who has aided the race of my father & his kin. How goes it with the Edain who dwell there? Of late my mind has turned to that land & i have thought to bring its people into the greater protection of our forests.”
“Their plight is worse than before my lord,” replied Haldir, “As is all else in Beleriand with the waning of the years. Yet they are a valiant people who still defend that ancient land of their fathers though the enemy would roam about their lands doing harm at every ill chance. Indeed we elves marvel at their hardihood & aid them whenever we can as did the dwarves who before their wicked fall, used to at times come in great numbers as they passed by on the great road. But now the Edain are few for many were slain over the years & more fled to their kin in other lands. However those who were boldest among them remained & their sons have become bolder than their fathers. It is because of this that i would say that though the notion of bringing Estolads people into the protection of the wood is wise & merciful, they would refuse such favour.”
The king frowned, “And why pray tell would any refuse safer harbouring from the perils of Morgoth?”
“Why indeed my lord,” said Haldir solemnly,
“Yet i speak with some authority in this for many times have my folk tried to convince them to seek admittance from you my lord, but their valiance has also made them a proud people, refusing wise council & trusting rather to their strength in arms. However, I would say they are admirably proud for there is none among them who would now forsake the eldest realm of all the three houses of the Edain in Beleriand. They would endure all hardships & fight unto the bitter end when the dark power should surely sweep them away. Yet they fill me & my folk with pity for they have become dear to us & we would only wish for what is best for their wellbeing.”
Dior sat silent, troubled by the news. Finally he said,
“Alas!, now I join you in that concern for I would also have them be as safe as I could make them.”
“Well things will go as they will, yet I would not have us give up hope but rather continue to aid them in all we can until such time as they find it in themselves to humble their pride & accept our counsel.”
Haldir stood & bowed before the king,
“It shall be done my lord!”
“Now,” said Dior,
“We move on to matters of greater import for i have heard that you are come on an urgent errand.”
At that, a troubled look came over Haldirs face & he slowly retook his seat.
“What now ails you Haldir?,” asked Dior,
“Why the look of dismay at my mere mention of your errand?”
Haldir remained silent, sitting with his head bowed.
“Is the true purpose of your coming so not to your liking that you would now repent of it? Come now, what is this message of request that demands my urgent answer? I bid you, say all that you would to me!”
Haldir slowly raised his head,
“Forgive me O king & pardon my silence, yet loath am i to deliver that for which i was sent, as it shall serve only to add to your concerns & may in time become a grief to all your people.”
The kings stern gaze returned,
“Those are grave words son of Falathar,” he said slowly leaning forward,
“Who sent you hither, bearing tidings of such ill omen for me & my people?”
“My lord, the message i bear comes from the sons of Feanor!” said Haldir
“The sons of Feanor you say!,” said Dior leaning back in his chair as his fears were realised. Haldir did not speak & for a moment they both sat in an ominous silence.
The king thought to himself.
“So the doom of Doriath now comes to the final point as i have long feared! They are come to claim their own no doubt yet shall it be the Silmarils fate to return to their house? Or if it be otherwise, shall Doriath hope to stand against the wrath of Feanors sons & prevail!? Are my people prepared for yet another assault, as they are newly healed from their past sorrows of war?”
Finally he stirred, sighed & said aloud, “Alas that this grief should come so soon to disturb the peace of Doriath!”
But Haldir, deeply moved by his kings sorrow said,
“Alas that it should be Haldir son of Falathar who bears this new grief to his lord! May the king forgive him.”
Then the king turned to him,
“Nay! No blame is laid on you for you are but the bearer of this ill news.
It was also a thing long forseen, for how long could we of Doriath truly have hoped to retain the jewel without any word from the sons of Feanor.
Nay! This doom was wrought the very day the Silmaril was delivered to me.
Now come Haldir, tell me of your meeting with those who sent you on their errand to Dior of Doriath!”
Then Haldir related to the king all that had been said between him & the two princes Celegorm & Curufin. When he was done the king asked to be handed the message.
Haldir produced the rolled up parchment & gave it to the king.
Dior opened it & read…
Amon Ereb, Year 506 of the Sun.
To Dior Lord Of Doriath,
News has reached our ears that a Silmaril of our father burns in the woods of your realm. Now our claim over the Silmarils that is bound by our oath of old is known to all in Beleriand. An oath that none can take or break & is binding to the very end of the world & should call the everlasting dark on he who keeps it not! This is the seriousness by which we hold this matter O Lord of Doriath, & we named Manwe & Varda & the very mount of Taniquetil upon which they dwell as witnesses!
Our vow remains thus…
“To pursue with vengeance & hatred to the very ends of the world, Vala, demon of Morgoth, elf, man or any creature good or evil who should so hold, take or keep a Silmaril from our possession!”
This we vowed in the name of Iluvatar himself & so is our oath written in the tale of the world.
Now it has come to us that you keep the Silmaril that was rescued by your father & mother from the iron crown of Angband. We have heard tell of how you have used its power, healing the hurts of your people & land with its light, bringing joy back to your realm. We do not begrudge you your good fortunes as all that is well done by the Silmaril is also a joy to us.
However the time has come to return it to its true heirs who have waited patiently in the dark for it. You have read the words of our grave oath for yourself, yet we would have you know that we have not carried out its harsh edicts in mercy, leaving you awhile to raise again your kingdom. Thus we have honoured those whose great deeds won the jewel from the enemy. Therefore let it not be said that the sons of Feanor are proud & unyielding in all their dealings with the Silmarils for we have shown great restraint & understanding in this. Yet we also have need of our fathers work as we have many hurts that need to be healed as we are also compelled by our oath & our fathers dying wish.
Therefore we ask you Dior Eluchil Lord of Doriath in all devotion to your wisdom, that you surrender the Silmaril to the house of Feanor & so lay to rest our oath as well as give hope for us to raise anew the glory of the Noldor in Beleriand.
We await your answer in earnest…
The seven sons of Feanor,
Maedhros, Maglor, Celegorm, Caranthir, Curufin, Amrod & Amras.
The king looked up from the letter, his face thoughtful as he pondered on all he had read. Haldir looked to him expectantly. Dior finally turned to him,
“When did you receive this?”
“It were yester-eve that i received it my lord,” replied Haldir.
“Then you have travelled through the night with no rest,” said the king,
“I thank you son of Falathar & bid you rest now, for you must be weary.
A council shall be held tomorrow of which you may be summoned. Till then i bid you tell no one of this matter!”
Haldir stood & bowed once again,
“I shall do as you wish my lord,” he said.
The king called out to Authir.
“See to it that this good elf receives the best of food & lodging while he stays with us,” said the king.
Authir bowed & led Haldir away.
Dior turned once more to the tapestry of Thingol & Melian as they stood before their people,
“Unless an evil greater than our strength!…”