The Valar, who had accomplished great deeds through their union, were eagerly anticipating the arrival of Iluvatar’s offspring. Varda, the Star Queen, adorned the sky with glittering stars, illuminating the realms beyond Aman and arousing the Elves, the Children of Iluvatar. The Elves were distinct from all other living beings in the cosmos, as they were created by Eru’s own thoughts and were bestowed with the gift of immortality. It was Melkor who first became aware of the newly awakened Elves near Cuivienen. He took them by surprise, captured some of them, and subjected them to his manipulative mind games, poisoning their spirits and thus spawning an entirely new breed of creatures known as orcs.
Subsequent to the Elves’ awakening, the dwarves also came into being. Hailing from the east, the Ironfists, Stiffbeards, Blacklocks, and Stonefoots settled on Mount Orocarni. Durin the Deathless, of the Longbeard clan, awoke in the west and established his people in the Khazad Dum stronghold situated in the Misty Mountains. Meanwhile, the Broadbeams and Firebeards founded Nogrod and Belegost in the Blue Mountains. During this era, the Ents, who comprised a significant portion of the forests in Middle-earth, also came into being. The Elves taught them to speak and provided instruction in the fields of learning, research, and development. According to Treebeard, who is perhaps the oldest being in Middle-earth, the Trolls were created as a mockery of the Ents.
Orome, a roving adventurer in Middle-earth, became privy to the heinous acts that Melkor had inflicted upon the Elves. Immediately, he journeyed to Valinor and apprised the Valar of the situation. The Valar, filled with righteous fury, convened and united their forces, launching an assault on Melkor. This conflict, known as the War for the Sake of the Elves, commenced in Angband. The Valar emerged victorious in the epic struggle, which was dubbed the Battle of the Power, causing Melkor to flee to his fortress of Utumno.
Meanwhile, the Valar proceeded to safeguard the Elves. After laying siege to Utumno for years, they eventually breached its defenses with Tulkas’ assistance and apprehended Melkor, placing him in chains and transporting him to Valinor. Though they had triumphed in the War, the Valar were unable to locate Melkor’s minions and creations, which had scattered to the dark recesses of Middle-earth, biding their time for Melkor’s eventual return. Sauron was among the unaccounted-for individuals. Once again, Arda was spared from the nefarious designs of Melkor. Nevertheless, these wars caused significant harm to Arda, necessitating its extensive restructuring.
Journey to Valinor
Melkor was confined as a prisoner in the Halls of Mandos for three ages. During his absence, Arda experienced a period of peace and tranquility, and songs of joy were sung. Without Melkor’s influence, the Elves were now free to roam without fear. However, Valar had other plans for them. Orome was sent to invite the Elves to Aman, the land of the Valar. Taking Ingwe, Finwe, and Elme as the leaders of the Elves, Orome brought them to Valinor to witness the radiance of the Trees. The Elves who beheld this wondrous sight were amazed and persuaded many others to follow them to Aman. However, some Elves were hesitant to leave their homeland, and thus the Elvish race became divided.
Those who remained in Cuivienen were known as the Avari, the “unwilling.” Those who accepted the invitation to Aman were called the Eldar. The Eldar were further divided into three groups: the Vanyar under Ingwe, the Noldor under Finwe, and the Teleri under Elwe. During the journey to Aman, Elwe became enamored with the singing of Melian, a Maia who had come to Middle-earth. When they touched their hands, they both fell under a powerful enchantment and remained frozen for many years. The Teleri were distressed by the disappearance of their leader and stayed behind to search for him, while the Vanyar and Noldor sailed to Valinor across the Belegaer Sea with the aid of Ulmo.
Unable to find their leader, the Teleri also became divided. Those Teleri who eventually arrived in Aman were known as the Falmari. The Sindar and Nandor remained behind, with the Sindar settling to the west of the Blue Mountains and the Nandor to the east. The Nandor were further divided into two groups: the Laiquendi and the Silvan. The Falmari settled on an island called Tol Eressea, just east of Valinor, and excelled in the art of shipbuilding.
Meanwhile, Elwe and Melian eventually awoke from their enchantment and, with the Sindar Elves, founded the kingdom of Doriath, with Elwe taking the name Elu Thingol as its king.
After a prolonged period of imprisonment, Melkor was summoned before the Valar. He expressed remorse for his misdeeds and professed his desire to return to the light of Iluvatar and his brother Manwe. However, Aule and Tulkas were skeptical of his words, suspecting that he was trying to deceive them once again. Despite their concerns, Manwe decided to forgive and release him. Melkor, however, resumed his malevolent machinations, cunningly disguising his true intentions behind a veneer of benevolence. He nursed a particular animosity toward the Elves, seeking to turn them against each other and incite them to rebellion against the Valar.
Melkor found a willing collaborator in Feanor, one of the most illustrious and gifted of the Elves, who had crafted the three Silmarils that would come to shape the fate of Arda. Although Feanor initially distrusted Melkor, the latter managed to deceive him by sowing seeds of discord between him and his brother Fingolfin. Melkor falsely claimed that Fingolfin was plotting against Feanor and seeking to usurp his rightful throne. In a fit of anger and paranoia, Feanor publicly threatened Fingolfin’s life, prompting Valar to exile him from Valinor.
Feanor’s father, Finwe, accompanied him into exile to the fortress of Formenos, located north of Valinor. However, Feanor eventually realized that he had been duped by Melkor and sought to return and make amends. But by then, Melkor had already set in motion his grandest scheme yet.
During the spring celebrations of Valinor, Melkor and his gluttonous companion, Ungoliant, crept into the land and laid waste to the two magnificent Trees that illuminated the island. With his spear, Melkor pierced the Trees and watched as Ungoliant consumed their life-giving essence. They then proceeded to Formenos, where they murdered Finwe, Feanor’s father, and pilfered the three Silmaril jewels which Feanor had crafted from the Trees’ sap. Consumed with fury at the loss of his father and the stolen jewels, Feanor branded Melkor as Morgoth, the “Black Enemy.” He mustered an army of Noldor, including his seven children, who swore to pursue Morgoth to the ends of the earth to reclaim the Silmarils.
Departing to Middle-earth from the island of the Teleri, Feanor requested ships to carry his army but was refused. Enraged by their rejection, Feanor initiated an atrocity known as the “Kinslaying,” attacking and seizing the ships of the Teleri. However, their actions resulted in a curse from Mandos, forbidding the Noldor from ever returning to Valinor.
Fingolfin and the remaining Noldor were shocked when they arrived at Tol Eressea, believing that the Teleri had assaulted Feanor, and they responded in kind. Yet, their actions fell short of Feanor’s ambitious plan, as he had promised to return the ships he had taken. As a result, Fingolfin and his Elves were left waiting, but Feanor never sent the ships back. Without hesitation, Feanor burnt the ships and led a group of faithful followers toward Angband. The conflagration of the burning ships could even be seen from Valinor.
War in the Middle-Earth
In the meantime, Melkor and Ungoliant had made their way back to Middle-earth. However, a disagreement arose between them on the journey. Ungoliant demanded that Melkor keep his promise and hand over the Silmaril stones, but when he gave his imitation gems, a fight broke out between them. After draining the sap from the Two Trees, Ungoliant attacked Melkor with full force and overpowered him, trapping him in her webs. Balrogs came to his aid and barely managed to save him from certain death. In contrast, Ungoliant disappeared into the darkness, consumed by her insatiable hunger, and was never seen again.
Upon returning to Angband, Melkor raised a brand new army to establish his dominion over Arda. This time, however, he faced the Elves who had remained in Middle-earth. The War of the Great Jewels began with the First Battle of Beleriand, with Sauron and Gothmog, the Balrog leader, as Melkor’s commanders. The Sindar Elves responded by joining forces with the Laiquendi and the dwarves of Nogrod and Belegost. Although the forces of good managed to push back the forces of evil, the War did not end well at every point.
In the Havens of the Falas, Lord Cirdan’s army was under siege for an extended period. Thingol refused to participate in the War, stating that he had seen enough battles and remained in Doriath. His wife, Melian, cast a spell and created an invisible barrier around Doriath called the Girdle of Melian. This mystical wall protected their city from outsiders, preventing them from entering. The dwarves, as well, had withdrawn to their mountains. After seeing their king Denethor slain in battle, the Laiquendi, also known as the Green Elves, returned to their forest in Ossiriand, vowing never to participate in wars again and hiding themselves away in secrecy.
Amidst the fray, unexpected aid arrived from the west, bringing hope to save Cirdan and his people. The Noldor arrived by sea at Lammoth and immediately attacked Melkor and his army. Their assault lifted the siege of the Heavens of the Falas and forced evil to retreat. The Battle under the Stars, known as Dagor-nuin-Giliath, was a fierce clash in which the elves repulsed the malevolent force. Despite being outnumbered by their dark foes, the Noldor fought valiantly, with individual elves slaying at least 10 orcs.
The battle was going so well for the Elves that Feanor, emboldened by the situation, recklessly led a small group to the gates of Angband, hoping to defeat Melkor. However, at the gate, he was confronted by the Balrogs. Though Feanor’s sons later arrived to fight the Balrogs, it was too late to save Feanor. He was mortally wounded by Gothmog’s final blow and cursed Angband thrice before expiring. His wrath was so intense that it completely consumed his body, leaving it nothing but ash as his spirit departed. Thereafter, Feanor’s sons, led by Maedhros, united under an oath, swearing to take the three Silmarils from Melkor at any cost.
Meanwhile, Fingolfin and the remaining Noldor faced a more arduous route when the expected ships did not arrive. They were compelled to traverse the treacherous Helcaraxe, where they suffered severe losses due to the harsh weather. However, they eventually reached Middle-earth but found that everything had changed, and with Feanor’s death, the Noldor was already scattered throughout Endor.
Melkor was defeated but not vanquished. Retreating into Angband, he concealed himself for many years. In the meantime, the Elves took advantage of the respite to spread throughout Middle-earth and establish their own settlements. The Valar utilized their last resources to position the moon and the sun in the sky, following the destruction of the Two Trees. This act restored light to the entire universe, and with the arrival of light, humans arose in Hildorien.