Of old Morgoth walked the earth, wounding and destroying all that was fair in the world. Of all his cruelty he poured out most on the firstborn, for they were fairer than he. He wandered among them, as one of them so that his identity might be hidden from their sight. He detested them and lavished his malice on their kind. For he was jealous, and his jealousy would be his undoing, but that is another tale…
Here I will tell you the lesser-known story of Dimarion and Vanyul. It went unnoticed when the great songwriters searched for a muse, for they lavished the greater tale of Beren and Luthien with their talents. But it is a beautiful tale, all the more touching for its simplicity…
Vanyul was alone. She wandered the wild places of Alqualondë, free and happy, needing neither rest nor nourishment. She ran laughing over fields, or sat by rivers, sending her sweet voice into the waters where Ulmo played. He delighted to hear her voice, and so he appeared to her.
They spent a great many days in her favorite spot; a shallow pool into which a fall tumbled. Ulmo loved Vanyul as his own, and she loved him as a father. Together they played in the waters, and together Vanyul and Ulmo strayed from all eyes, excepting two pairs, Morgoth’s and another’s; deeper, fairer, full of longing.
These eyes belonged to Dimarion, who wandered also, but he had no happiness. He followed after Vanyul, hidden from her sight. He adored her, and he worshipped her as his love, though she did not know. He watched her in mourning, for he could not take her for himself without destroying her happiness, which he so delighted in seeing. For he was under the curse of Morgoth, who would beat him down and do with Vanyul what he willed if she gave her love to Dimarion.
A day came where Vanyul played by herself in the water, for Ulmo had been called by Manwë to a council. The light from Laurelin covered all in golden warmth, and Vanyul splashed and sang in the river with the swans.
Seeing his opportunity, Morgoth cast an evil spell on Dimarion; black lightning shot from the sky and struck the Elf. Dimarion cried out in pain, and fell upon the soft leaves.
Vanyul heard the cry, an agonized sound that pierced her like a knife. Ulmo had warned her not to leave the river, for there his protection lay; she cast aside all caution, and raced towards the sound.
She found Dimarion lying where he fell at the base of a mallorn tree. She dropped to her knees next to him and whispered in his pointed ear:
“Lasto beth nin, tolo dan nan galad.”
He stirred and looked with his dark eyes into her beautiful green ones. His face filled with fear for her, fear that Morgoth would ensnare her next. He crawled backwards, shying from her hand. Slowly she reached out to him, her own fear filling her, but quite different from his, for she was afraid that he might flee. He was the most beautiful creature she had ever seen. His face was like the light of Teleperion, covered in a silver rain. His eyes were great dark pools of night. His hair was shorn off, a shade of the deepest brown. She inched closer, and he did not bolt. She cautiously stroked his cheek. He closed his eyes, reveling in her touch, and for the first time in his ageless life, his heart sang.
Vanyul led him by her gentle hand to the place by the river where Ulmo had left her. He would be gone for many days; she would tell him that the Elf had wandered to her, so that he would not think that she had left his protection. Morgoth watched her as she led Dimarion into the water. He growled low in his throat, for there he could not touch them with his hands, neither could he call to Dimarion. Ulmo’s protection lay in all waters, and from them Morgoth was banned entrance.
Vanyul waded out into the middle of the river, but Dimarion lingered near the edge. He had never seen water, for Morgoth feared Ulmo, and would not go near him, nor would he allow Dimarion near any river, lake or stream. He even avoided the mists that watered all growing things (for in those days there was no rain, nor cloud).
Vanyul turned to Dimarion, puzzled by his fear of water. She held out her hand to him.
“Tolo,” she said. “Come.”
He stepped toward her, drawn by her beauty, a beauty like the golden daytime of Valinor. He went to her, awed by her fair face, for indeed, “Vanyul” means “Fair Rain”.
He stopped an arm’s length from her. He put out his hand and touched her shoulder. He ran his hand down her long arm, gentle and wondering. He lifted her hand and held the back of it against his heart. She stepped toward him, and the water swirled about their feet. Dimarion reached for her other hand. Vanyul delighted in the feel of his hand on her bare arm. Ulmo had touched her before, but his fingers were scaled and clawed, and they were not as gentle as Dimarion’s. She looked into the strange Elf’s eyes, big and dark, full of adoration. He bent his head and pressed his forehead to hers. Before he knew what came about, Vanyul had taken his hands in hers and they were dancing, circling around each other in a beautiful dance in the center of the river. Morgoth snarled as he watched from afar. But his wrath passed, and he awaited his chance to torment them both.
For three days Dimarion and Vanyul danced. They played in the water, never leaving it. Sometimes they splashed, laughing loudly in boisterous games. At other times they stood quietly in the gentle currents, wrapped in love for each other. Dimarion’s spirit soared, and he forgot about Morgoth.
On the third night Vanyul again left the safety of the river. Dimarion followed her, and she led him to a field. She looked up into the sky, in the glory of Varda she rested her eyes. Dimarion followed her gaze, and he, too, stared, enraptured by the stars that danced in the silver light of Teleperion, the light that he so resembled. He enveloped Vanyul in his arms, and she rested her beautiful head against his chest. He bowed his head so his face was close to hers.
“Im mel le,” he whispered. “I love you.”
Vanyul looked up at him. She turned to face him, her heart singing at his words; yea, the first words he had spoken to her. She kissed the corner of his mouth. He gazed at her, then slowly he returned her kiss.
Morgoth, in blackness and hatred watched them from the edge of the field. His time had come. He called Dimarion to him, commanding him to come to his master.
Dimarion pulled away with a start. He heard Morgoth, calling to him, demanding that he return to the dark life he had known before those three dream-like days. He backed away, his fear and constant pain returning. He looked wildly about him, and his eyes came to rest on Vanyul. She stared at him, confused and afraid. Dimarion backed away, willing himself not to obey the call of the Dark Enemy, but his will was not enough. He ran, and Vanyul followed.
When Dimarion saw Morgoth at the edge of the clearing, he whirled around, his mind a blur of pain and fear.
“Stay!” Morgoth commanded. “Crawl like the animal you are!”
Dimarion dropped to his knees and crawled, for he had no power, and no strength to fight his master. Tears streamed down his face, for he had drawn his love into a trap.
Before Vanyul could run the other way, Morgoth had grabbed her roughly. He jerked Dimarion to his feet and forced him to look into her eyes. Her look of pain and distrust rent his heart. Agonized sobs escaped his lips, and he collapsed onto the ground.
Realizing that Dimarion had had no part in her capture, she reached a reassuring hand out to his tormented body. But Morgoth stopped her. He gathered them both up, and swept them off to Rhûn, a wide desert, for where water is not there is the place where Ulmo cannot follow him.
There he chained Dimarion to a spot on the ground; a great way off he chained Vanyul. And then he left them to suffer, Dimarion in his useless guilt, and Vanyul in her bewilderment. For one thousand years he cursed them, that at every full moon their chains would grow longer, and at the end of that time, their chains might permit then to touch, and then he would return.
And so for a thousand years Dimarion reached for her, but he could not ever touch her. And Vanyul wept, for she loved him, and she knew Ulmo could not come.
Those were dark years. Vanyul sat, her chains growing longer every month, confused and bewildered. Her mind could find no way around the mystery of why she was there, and where the happy night filled with love had gone.
Dimarion’s pain was more cruel. He stretched his chains to their very limit, pulling at them until his wrists bled with the effort, and he had no longer the strength to speak with intelligence. His guilt tormented his mind, and there was no one to hear his anguished cries save Vanyul, and she could not help him.
In the 563rd year, Ulmo discovered where Morgoth had taken his precious love, who had disappeared all those years ago. But he could not travel in the desert, for he is water, and there water does not go.
For one hundred years he cursed Morgoth, seeing no way to save Vanyul, and he so went to Manwë, for he knew the King of the Valar would find a way.
“Let us join our forces, together we may defeat Morgoth and they would be free,” he begged of the King.
But Manwë was cautious, and he would say naught but that he could not take Ulmo to Rhûn, and if he could, he would have by that time.
For another hundred years Ulmo pleaded with Manwë, and always the King of the Valar was silent. So Ulmo returned to the river, and there his tears ran into it.
His friend Nienna came to him, and she whispered in his ear.
“Patience, my Lord, have patience,” she said.
“When they are in pain?” Ulmo asked.
Nienna covered his webbed hand with hers. She looked at him with her watery eyes, ever sad, ever weeping.
“Manwë has sent you a message, he is coming to you, he has found a way.”
The King dropped from the sky in front of Ulmo.
“I will take you to them, for the time has come. Varda has agreed to shine down on you so that you may become light, and therefore rise up into me. I will take you to Rhûn, and you will rain down on them and their dry chains will melt”
So Ulmo rose high and fluffy white into the sky, and Manwë swept him off to Rhûn. There Ulmo fell as drops on the chains of Vanyul and Dimarion, and the chains melted, and the Elves were set free.
Now Morgoth cursed Ulmo and all the Valar for hating him and ruining his revenge on the firstborn. So he waited by the river, and when Ulmo returned with the Elves, he was ready.
In joyous reunion that flowed from their love for each other they laughed and splashed in the river. Dimarion took Vanyul’s hand, bringing her close to him he kissed her, for he was free, and he could love her with all the passion he had carried with him in the years that he had wandered after her.
Suddenly the black shape of Morgoth flung itself from the dark under the trees. He howled and thunder roared about him.
“Now taste my wrath, she-elf, for your torment is in seeing his!” Black lightning possessed by the evil of Morgoth flew down from the sky and struck Dimarion through his heart. His mission finished, Morgoth flew away in a cloud of fury and darkness, followed closely by Ulmo.
Vanyul gently bore Dimarion’s body to the riverbank and laid it down on the soft grass. A bloody wound had opened up where he had been struck. His breathing was ragged and uneven. Silent tears rolled down Vanyul’s cheeks. She kissed his forehead, where beads of sweat formed.
“So a life filled with pain and anguish ends,” he whispered. “I am sorry I was so weak.”
“Nay,” said Vanyul. “I will follow you one day, and we will wander the halls of Mandos together.”
“Im mel le,” they said in unison. Dimarion reached up and stroked her tear-stained cheek, smiling amid his own tears. He leaned his head back, and slowly his breath stopped altogether. Vanyul looked her last into the deep pools of darkness, free forever from pain and suffering, but also, sadly, free from happiness and joy. She closed them and stood, grief-stricken. Ulmo returned, and he led her into the river, but she would not laugh with him, nor would she play.
Nienna came and mourned over the mound that Ulmo had created at Vanyul’s request. White flowers sprang up where her tears fell. One of these Vanyul took with her as she went wandering into the woods. Far off Ulmo heard her voice lift in song, and then it faded.
“Im mel le, dim er,
I telep elenath thil
Im mel Nienna
Im mel le,
Im hil le,
“I love you, sad one
The silver stars shine.
I love Nienna
I am empty
I am lost
I love you
I follow you
She never returned.