Reader deep thought: So the only Calaquendi who saw the Two Trees but never lived in Valinor, ruled over his people, the Sindar (essentially the high-born of the Moriquendi), who also did not cross to the West. The intriguing question remains: was it really happenstance that kept Thingol in Middle-earth? With all that happened further down the road, and the connections that tie back ultimately to the Sindar or even Thingol himself, perhaps the Highest Power of them all agreed more strongly with Ulmo’s opinion than anyone realised, and had a plan that CANNOT.BE.DENIED, regardless of the Valar’s suppositions.
“Now as has been told the power of Elwë and Melian increased in Middle-earth, and all the Elves of Beleriand, from the mariners of Círdan to the wandering hunters of the Blue Mountains beyond the River Gelion, owned Elwë as their lord; Elu Thingol he was called, King Greymantle, in the tongue of his people. They are called the Sindar, the Grey-elves of starlit Beleriand; and although they were Moriquendi, under the lordship of Thingol and the teaching of Melian they became the fairest and the most wise and skilful of all the Elves of Middle-earth.”
So in the aftermath of causing the Third Sundering of the Elves, Thingol became King of the Sindar, effectively Elf-lord of Middle-earth. So for missing the Ulmo’s Ultimate Cruise to the Uttermost West because of a little four letter word, Elwë, now Thingol, lorded it over those who started the journey but stayed on the wrong side of the Seas, for various reasons. With Melian as his spouse, things went swimmingly, and continued to do so through the three ages of the Chaining of Melkor.
And at the end of the first age of the Chaining of Melkor, when all the Earth had peace and the glory of Valinor was at its noon, there came into the world Lúthien, the only child of Thingol and Melian. Though Middle-earth lay for the most part in the Sleep of Yavanna, in Beleriand under the power of Melian there was life and joy, and the bright stars shone as silver fires; and there in the forest of Neldoreth Lúthien was born, and the white flowers of niphredil came forth to greet her as stars from the earth.
The second age of the Chaining of Melkor marked the first interaction between Elves and another species with speech: the Dwarves; surprising the Elves greatly, “for they had believed themselves to be the only living things in Middle-earth that spoke with words or wrought with hands, and that all others were but birds and beasts.” I guess no one across the Seas thought to send a memo. That, or Aulë’s memoirs were not available yet.
Hailing from over the Ered Luin, they were christened differently by the Elves from what they called themselves.
Themselves they named Khazâd, but the Sindar called them Naugrim, the Stunted People, and Gonnhirrim, Masters of Stone. Far to the east were the most ancient dwellings of the Naugrim, but they had delved for themselves great halls and mansions, after the manner of their kind, in the eastern side of Ered Luin; and those cities were named in their own tongue Gabilgathol and Tumunzahar. To the north of the great height of Mount Dolmed was Gabilgathol, which the Elves interpreted in their tongue Belegost, that is Mickleburg; and southward was delved Tumunzahar, by the Elves named Nogrod, the Hollowbold. Greatest of all the mansions of the Dwarves was Khazad-dûm, the Dwarrowdelf, Hadhodrond in the Elvish tongue, that was afterwards in the days of its darkness called Moria; but it was far off in the Mountains of Mist beyond the wide leagues of Eriador, and to the Eldar came but as a name and a rumour from the words of the Dwarves of the Blue Mountains.
The Naugrim’s speech the Elves found difficult to master (“cumbrous and unlovely” as it were), though the Dwarves quickly learnt the Elven-tongue. Probably their predisposition to keep Dwarf-speech to themselves had something to do with it as well, since the Eldar needed only apply their will and thought to the matter for the mastery of any skill.
As with the linguistics, tourism and visits were pretty one-sided: “Few of the Eldar went ever to Nogrod and Belegost, save Eöl of Nan Elmoth and Maeglin his son”. The Dwarves, on the other hand, were such frequent visitors to Beleriand, they made “a great road that
passed under the shoulders of Mount Dolmed and followed the course of the River Ascar, crossing Gelion at Sarn Athrad, the Ford of Stones.”
The two Peoples were not BFFs, though Dwarven friendship was more readily availed upon the Noldor in later times, since they were kindred in spirit, if not in form or thought, “because of their love and reverence for Aulë; and the gems of the Noldor they praised above all other wealth.”
As it turned out, having Dwarves around was handy. At the end of the second age of the Chaining of Melkor, Melian (utilising her Maia senses) advised Thingol the good times were not going to last forever. Wisely, and perhaps with a dash of vanity in the mix, he thought of building a stronghold, and contracted the Dwarves of Belegos as consultants and builders.
And they gave “aid and counsel”, most “willingly, for they were unwearied in those days and eager for new works; and though the Dwarves ever demanded a price for all that they did, whether with delight or with toil, at this time they held themselves paid. For Melian taught them much that they were eager to learn, and Thingol rewarded them with many fair pearls. These Círdan gave to him, for they were got in great number in the shallow waters about the Isle of Balar; but the Naugrim had not before seen their like, and they held them dear. One there was as great as a dove’s egg, and its sheen was as starlight on the foam of the sea; Nimphelos it was named, and the chieftain of the Dwarves of Belegost prized it above a mountain of wealth.”
In fact, “the Naugrim laboured long and gladly for Thingol, and devised for him mansions after the fashion of their people, delved deep in the earth.”
Seemed like a great win-win situation all around. Thingol had pearls to spare, and the Naugrim loved them, plus they got to learn from Melian.
So, “where the Esgalduin flowed down, and parted Neldoreth from Region, there rose in the midst of the forest a rocky hill, and the river ran at its feet. There they made the gates of the hall of Thingol, and they built a bridge of stone over the river, by which alone the gates could be entered. Beyond the gates wide passages ran down to high halls and chambers far below that were hewn in the living stone, so many and so great that that dwelling was named Menegroth, the Thousand Caves.”
Menegroth must indeed be a place of beauty, wrought by both Elven and Dwarven hands.
But the Elves also had part in that labour, and Elves and Dwarves together, each with their own skill, there wrought out the visions of Melian, images of the wonder and beauty of Valinor beyond the Sea. The pillars of Menegroth were hewn in the likeness of the beeches of Oromë, stock, bough, and leaf, and they were lit with lanterns of gold. The nightingales sang there as in the gardens of Lórien; and there were fountains of silver, and basins of marble, and floors of many-coloured stones. Carven figures of beasts and birds there ran upon the walls, or climbed upon the pillars, or peered among the branches entwined with many flowers. And as the years passed Melian and her maidens filled the halls with woven hangings wherein could be read the deeds of the Valar, and many things that had befallen in Arda since its beginning, and shadows of things that were yet to be. That was the fairest dwelling of any king that has ever been east of the Sea.
And when the building of Menegroth was achieved, and there was peace in the realm of Thingol and Melian, the Naugrim yet came ever and anon over the mountains and went in traffic about the lands; but they went seldom to the Falas, for they hated the sound of the sea and feared to look upon it. To Beleriand there came no other rumour or tidings of the world without.
Perhaps their fear of the Sea enhanced the value of what pearls the Dwarves could procure. It is interesting that subsequently the Dwarves were the ones to tell Thingol that “the Valar had not rooted out utterly the evils of the North, and now the remnant, having long multiplied in the dark, were coming forth once more and roaming far and wide.”. That fell beasts roamed ‘in the land east of the mountains,” and the Sindar’s “ancient kindred that dwell there are flying from the plains to the hills.”
Of the many sorts of evil creatures that marauded their way into Beleriand, perhaps the most intriguing and horrifying ones were “the Orcs, who afterwards wrought ruin in Beleriand: but they were yet few and wary, and did but smell out the ways of the land,
awaiting the return of their lord. Whence they came, or what they were, the Elves knew not then, thinking them perhaps to be Avari who had become evil and savage in the wild; in which they guessed all too near, it is said.”
So Thingol began to build an amoury and to equip his people, weapons the first of which “first the Naugrim smithied for him; for they were greatly skilled in such work, though none among them surpassed the craftsmen of Nogrod, of whom Telchar the smith was greatest in renown.”
The Dwarves were able to to craft weapons because they were an ancient race familiar with strife, who “would fight fiercely against whomsoever aggrieved them: servants of Melkor, or Eldar, or Avari, or wild beasts, or not seldom their own kin, Dwarves of other mansions and lordships.”
While the Sindar learned their smithcraft, they could not do hack it without the Dwarves, for “in the tempering of steel alone of all crafts the Dwarves were never outmatched even by the Noldor, and in the making of mail of linked rings, which was first contrived by the smiths of Belegost, their work had no rival.”
What a project, but ultimately, every project ends. Finally, well-equipped, the Sindar cleared out the creatures of evil, and there was peace again. After which, the weapons were stored in Thingol’s armouries, so well-made and of such quality that “they rusted not but shone ever as if they were new-burnished.”
The peace won by the Sindar enticed some of the Nandor (their Teleri kindred who followed Lenwë down south on the western banks of the Anduin, instead of crossing the Hithaeglir with the main body of the Teleri host on the Great Journey), having “no weapon of steel” themselves, to seek the protection of Thingol. Led by Denethor, son of Lenwë, “they were welcomed by Thingol, as kin long lost that return, and they dwelt in Ossiriand, the Land of Seven Rivers.”
In the following years of uneventful peace, “Daeron the Minstrel, chief loremaster of the kingdom of Thingol, devised his Runes”, named the Cirth. These the Dwarves learnt, valuing his skill higher than did the Sindar themselves, and through them the use of the Cirth spread to other peoples. And yet, “they were little used by the Sindar for the keeping of records, until the days of the War, and much that was held in memory perished in the ruins of Doriath.” But at this time, Doriath was not yet called by this name. It was Eglador until the Girdle of Melian was raised at the end of the third age of the Chaining of Melkor.
Truly, “bliss and glad life there is little to be said, before it ends; as works fair and wonderful, while still they endure for eyes to see, are their own record, and only when they are in peril or broken for ever do they pass into song.”
While peace endured, “still at times rode Oromë the great, passing like a wind over the mountains, and the sound of his horn came down the leagues of the starlight, and the Elves feared him for the splendour of his countenance and the great noise of the onrush of Nahar; but when the Valaróma echoed in the hills, they knew well that all evil things were fled far away.”
Finally, even the third age of the Chaining of Melkor ended, and he and Ungoliant returned to Middle-earth after the evil deed of the Two Trees’ death. Ungoliant blighted Thingol’s realm, squatting in Ered Gorgoroth but could not advance further south, by the grace of Melian’s power. Still, peace ended, violently, when Morgoth’s multiplying evil forces of Orcs assaulted Menegroth. A great battle ensued: Thingol was cut off from Círdan at Eglarest, and “called upon Denethor”, who with his Laiquenqi “came in force from Region [Forest of Region] beyond Aros and from Ossiriand”. This was the first battle in the Wars of Beleriand. Though the Elves were victorious, there was heavy casualties, and many things changed.
The light-armed Ossiriand were decimated, and lost Denethor, their king. Some survivors became wary and secretive, the Laiquendi, the Green-elves, they were called because of their raiment of the colour of leaves and took no more king. These were the hippies of hippies if you will, for not longer were they no longer a monarchy, these were vegetarian Elves.
Others were merged with the Sindar. Thingol, meantime, returned to Menegroth, only to learn the Orc-host in the west had driven Círdan to the sea’s edge.
… Therefore he withdrew all his people that his summons could reach within the fastness of Neldoreth and Region, and Melian put forth her power and fenced all that dominion round about with an unseen wall of shadow and bewilderment: the Girdle of Melian, that none thereafter could pass against her will or the will of King Thingol, unless one should come with a power greater than that of Melian the Maia. And this inner land, which was long named Eglador, was after called Doriath, the guarded kingdom, Land of the Girdle. Within it there was yet a watchful peace; but without there was peril and great fear, and the servants of Morgoth roamed at will, save in the walled havens of the Falas.
At this point, Fëanor had just landed in the Firth of Drengist, and burned the ships at Losgar. Things were going to start getting interesting.
(Relevance: read-along schedule)