Reader deep thought: No wonder this chapter trumped the one on Beren and Lúthien; the Lay of Leithian was also the shorter compared to the Narn i Hîn Húrin. After reading this chapter, it’s beginning to feel like proper measures and superb fortifications against depression are needed to attempt the actual book. Unsurprisingly, the Silmarils again asserted their glittering allure. Still, buried under all the melodrama must be the great wonder of Thingol’s about-face on a core tenant of his belief system.
“Thus was the fate of Túrin woven, which is fulltold in that lay that is called Narn i Hîn Húrin, the Tale of the Children of Húrin, and is the longest of all the lays that speak of those days. Here that tale is told in brief, for it is woven with the fate of the Silmarils and of the Elves; and it is called the Tale of Grief, for it is sorrowful, and in it are revealed most evil works of Morgoth Bauglir.”
More aftermath of the Nirnaeth Arnoediad:
- Rían, daughter of Belegund, was the wife of Huor, son of Galdor
- wedded two months before Huor went to war
- fled into the wild when he went MIA
- Aided by the Sindar of Mithrim who fostered her son Tuor when he was born
- departed from Hithlum after, and laid herself down to die at the Haudh-en-Ndengin
- Morwen, daughter of Baragund, was the wife of Húrin, Lord of Dor-lómin
- their son Túrin was born in the year of Beren’s first encounter with Lúthien in the Forest of Neldoreth
- their daughter Lalaith (which is Laughter), died of pestilence an evil wind blew into Hithlum from Angband. Doted on by Túrin.
- continued to live in Dor-lómin, under the Easterlings’ control, after the War. Túrin was eight years old, and she was pregnant.
- Hooligans that they were, terrorising all and sundry of Hador’s folk and enslaving the kids, the Easterlings were actually afraid of Morwen.
But so great was the beauty and majesty of the Lady of Dor-lómin that the Easterlings were afraid, and dared not to lay hands upon her or herhousehold; and they whispered among themselves, saying that she was perilous, and a witch skilled in magic and in league with the Elves
- In truth, she was scraping by on the aid of a kinswoman of Húrin: Aerin, whom Brodda, an Easterling, had taken as his wife.
- Fearing Túrin’s potential fate as a slave, she sent him to seek refuge in Doriath with accompanied only by two aged servants, in the autumn of the Year of Lamentation, hoping on the mercy of Thingol in the name of Beren, who was her relative, and Húrin’s bestie.
- Then in the first beginning of the next year Morwen gave birth to a daughter, whom she named Nienor, Mourning.
By then, Túrin had made it to Doriath, thanks to Beleg Strongbow, who found him, and brought him into Menegroth. Thingol fostered Túrin.
Then Thingol received Túrin, and took him even to his own fostering, in honour of Húrin the Steadfast; for Thingol’s mood was changed towards the houses of the Elf-friends.
Thingol even sent messengers to Hithlum, to fetch Morwen, but she, unwisely, would not leave the house. But she sent along the Dragon-helm of Dor-lómin, greatest of the heirlooms of the house of Hador, to Túrin.
So Túrin stayed on in Doriath, growing “fair and strong”, but mopey. Over the next nine years he cheered up a bit as he got updates on his mum and sister through Thingol’s messengers. When the messengers failed to return, and Thingol would send no more, Túrin feared the worst for them. And he requested to be put to field duty. Wearing his heirloom helm, he “went out to battle on the marches of Doriath, and became the companion in arms of Beleg Cúthalion.”
After three years in the field, Túrin returned to Menegroth utterly unkempt, and disreputable. Unfortunately, he was seated opposite one Saeros of the Nandor, who happened to have Thingol’s ear and was disgruntled with Túrin’s status, who couldn’t keep from running his mouth.
‘If the Men of Hithlum are so wild and fell, of what sort are the women of that land? Do they run like deer clad only in their hair?’
Túrin responded by throwing a drinking-vessel at him, hurting him badly. The next day, Saeros intercepted Túrin on his way out of Menegroth, and in the tussle Túrin stripped him naked and set him fleeing. So terrified was Saeros he died falling into a stream. Mablung wanted Túrin to return at the leisure of Thingol’s judgment, but Túrin panicked and ran away (joining a band of outlaws who waylaid all and sundry, and raising to leadership).
But when it was all said and done in Menegroth, Thingol pardoned Túrin. In Beleg, who had returned in search of his friend:
‘I grieve, Cúthalion; for I took Húrin’s son as my son, and so he shall remain, unless Húrin himself should return out of the shadows to claim his own. I would not have any say that Túrin was driven forth unjustly into the wild, and gladly would I welcome him back; for I loved him well.’
Beleg swore then to find and bring his bestie back. He was captured by Túrin’s gang in the wooded lands south of Teiglin and tortured. When Túrin, who had named himself Neithan, the Wronged returned, he repented his gang’s evil and lawless deeds, and released Beleg. Then, Túrin swore they would only harry the servants of Angband.
Beleg then told him about his pardon, and the realm’s need for strength of arms in the north where the Orcs have found a way down out of Taur-nu-Fuin by making a road through the Pass of Anach, which was above the high springs of Mindeb, between the peaks of the Crissaegrim, and the western slopes of Gorgoroth. It was a place far from Doriath’s borders but Dimbar was being overrun, and the troubled Men of Brethil needed help.
But Túrin refused, at the their parting the next morning, as they bid their farewells, Túrin’s plan was to head for Amon Rûdh while Beleg aimed to return to Dimbar.
Beleg brought word back to Thingol, and asked leave to track and protect Túrin. Thingol opened the coffers in the offer of a parting gift in gratitude, and Beleg asked for a sword, to which Thingol assented (with the exclusion of his own sword, Aranrúth). So Beleg chose Anglachel, a sword of great worth, so named because it was made of meteorite metal. Its maker was Eöl the Dark Elf, who had given Anglachel to Thingol as rent for his residency in Nan Elmoth. The sword had a twin: Anguirel which Eöl kept until it was stolen by Maeglin.
Melian warned Beleg about his choice: “There is malice in this sword. The dark heart of the smith still dwells in it. It will not love the hand it serves; neither will it abide with you long.’” She also gifted him with lembas.
… the waybread of the Elves, wrapped in leaves of silver, and the threads that bound it were sealed at the knots with the seal of the Queen, a wafer of white wax shaped as a single flower of Telperion; for according to the customs of the Eldalië the keeping and giving of lembas belonged to the Queen alone. In nothing did Melian show greater favour to Túrin than in this gift; for the Eldar had never before allowed Men to use this waybread, and seldom did so again.
Thus gift-laden, Beleg left for Dimbar where Anglachel had a field day, and Beleg did his duty to drive the Orcs back. By winter Dimbar was secured and Beleg went away.
Meantime, Túrin had gone west from Sirion’s vale in search of a safer lair. On their journey they captured one of three Dwarves who crossed their path: Mîm, who offered the treasures of his hidden home as self-ransom. The other two escaped, but not before one of Túrin’s outlaws shot an arrow at them. As it happened, the Dwarven hidey hole was on a hill, the edge of the moor-lands that rose between the vales of Sirion and Narog. Its bald head was covered in red seregon, looking like a bloody pate. Amon Rûdh it was called, the Dwarf informed the Men, “since the Elves changed all the names.” Mîm led them to his home on the hill, calling it Bar-en-Danwedh, the House of Ransom. There Túrin met his sons: Khîm who was dead from an arrow wound inflicted by his outlaw, and Ibun.
Then pity rose in Túrin’s heart, and he said to Mîm: ‘Alas! I would recall that shaft, if I could. Now Bar-en-Danwedh this house shall be called in truth; and if ever I come to any wealth, I will pay you a ransom of gold for your son, in token of sorrow, though it gladden your heart no more.’
Then Mîm rose, and looked long at Túrin. ‘I hear you,’ he said. ‘You speak like a dwarf-lord of old; and at that I marvel. Now my heart is cooled, though it is not glad; and in this house you may dwell, if you will; for I will pay my ransom.’
While living Mîm, Túrin like walking the greensward before the mouth of the cave in Amon Rûdh, where he could see Brethil in the north surrounded Amon Obel in its midst, which for reasons he could not explain, Túrin’s eyes were drawn. But his homesick heart fancied he could see the Mountains of Shadow in the north-west, “league upon league away on the skirts of the sky”. At evening, westward where the sunset red”turned into the hazes above the distant coasts, the Vale of Narog lay deep in the shadows between.”
They would chat and Mîm shared his background and history. He was a Petty-Dwarf, the last and aged for his kind in fact, and came of Dwarves who had been banished in ancient days from the great Dwarf-cities of the east, and way before Morgoth’s return they had reached Beleriand, and certainly before Nogrod and Belegost. His people “became diminished in stature and in smith-craft, and they took to lives of stealth, walking with bowed shoulders and furtive steps.” Elves in fact hunted and killed Petty-Dwarves (Noegyth Nibin) for a time before letting them be. So they had self-love, and feared and hated Orcs and Elves with equal measure. But the Exiles had a special place in their psyche for they believed the Noldor “had stolen their lands and their homes”, having discovered and worked on the caves of Nargothrond before Finrod took it, and untroubled by Sindar in the vicinity. But his people have died out, “and in his halls the smithies were idle, and the axes rusted, and their name was remembered only in ancient tales of Doriath and Nargothrond.”
In midwinter, a particularly cold season in tandem with Angband’s rise, Beleg came among them.
But in the dim dusk of a winter’s day there appeared suddenly among them a man, as it seemed, of great bulk and girth, cloaked and hooded in white; and he walked up to the fire without a word. And when men sprang up in fear, he laughed, and threw back his hood, and beneath his wide cloak he bore a great pack; and in the light of the fire Túrin looked again on the face of Beleg Cúthalion.
Handing over the Dragon-helm was not enough to move his bestie to return to Thingol, so Beleg stuck around and made himself useful, not wishing to leave without him. Dispensing medical aid and lembas to quicken healing (“for though the Grey-elves were less in skill and knowledge than the Exiles from Valinor, in the ways of the life of Middle-earth they had a wisdom beyond the reach of Men”), Beleg was much appreciated by all but the host for “the hatred of Mîm for the Elf that had come into Bar-en-Danwedh grew ever greater, and he sat with Ibun his son in the deepest shadows of his house, speaking to none. But Túrin paid now little heed to the Dwarf; and when winter passed, and spring came, they had sterner work to do.”
Meanwhile, the evil wheels of Morgoth’s schemes turned.
Who knows now the counsels of Morgoth? Who can measure the reach of his thought, who had been Melkor, mighty among the Ainur of the Great Song, and sat now, a dark lord upon a dark throne in the North, weighing in his malice all the tidings that came to him, and perceiving more of the deeds and purposes of his enemies than even the wisest of them feared, save only Melian the Queen? To her often the thought of Morgoth reached out, and there was foiled.
But Morgoth was on the move. Once again, through Dimbar, that Beleg cleared, via the Pass of Anach, the Angband armies swarmed and overrun the north marches of Doriath, and Sirion, past Tol Sirion where Finrod’s Minas Tirith once stood. From there they crossed the land between Malduin and Sirion, and through the Forest of Brethil to the Crossings of Teiglin, onto the road that led to Talath Dirnen (the Guarded Plain), where Amon Rûdh sat upon its eastern edge. But from there, from but the Orcs did not go. For Túrin wore the Helm of Hador and rode against them, and whispers that “the Helm and Bow that had fallen in Dimbar had arisen again beyond hope” spread in the land. Those who were leaderless and dispossessed, but undaunted, took heart and sought the Two Captains. Where they marauded, the region between Teiglin and the west march of Doriath, was called Dor-Cúarthol, the Land of Bow and Helm. Túrin named himself again: Gorthol, the Dread Helm. The deeds of the Two Captains spread, even to Angband, where Morgoth was in glee for the Dragon-helm disclosed Húrin’s son to him, and and ere long Amon Rûdh was riddled with spies.
At the end of that year, Mîm and Ibun were caught by Orc spies while gathering roots. Once again ransoming his own life with the promise of guided passage to his home, conditional to Gorthol remaining unharmed, he betrayed the outlaws living there. In the aftermath, he tried to slay the wounded Beleg but was thwarted by the Elf who though heavily wounded, was a strong healer with the fortitude of one mighty even among his race. Mîm fled, and Beleg deduced Túrin was captured.
Tracking the attackers without rest and with great woodcraft, Beleg passed the Crossings of Teiglin,through the Brithiach, Dimbar and thence to the Pass of Anach, and nigh on caught up with them. In Taur-nu-Fuin he encountered an Elf, Gwindor, son of Guilin, and succoured him with lembas.
Grieving Beleg looked upon him; for Gwindor was now but a bent and fearful shadow of his former shape and mood, when in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad that lord of Nargothrond rode with rash courage to the very doors of Angband, and there was taken. For few of the Noldor whom Morgoth captured were put to death, because of their skill in forging and in mining for etals and gems; and Gwindor was not slain, but put to labour in the mines of the North. By secret tunnels known only to themselves the mining Elves might sometimes escape; and thus it came to pass that Beleg found him, spent and bewildered in the mazes of Taur-nu-Fuin.
Exchanging information, and discouragement alike, finally the two Elves set out together in Beleg’s quest. Finally, they cleared the forest on the high slopes that ran down to the barren dunes of Anfauglith one evening. The Orcs were encamped in a bare dell within sight of the peaks of Thangorodrim, with wolf-sentinels on guard as they made merry. A great storm came in from the west, as Beleg and Gwindor crept towards them.
Clearing the sentinels by bowshot, Beleg and Gwindor found Túrin unconscious and carried him away to safety. With Anglachel Beleg cut his shackles but it also nicked him awake, and enraged, he seized Anglachel and killed Beleg.
But as he stood, finding himself free, and ready to sell his life dearly against imagined foes, there came a great flash of lightning above them; and in its light he looked down on Beleg’s face. Then Túrin stood stonestill and silent, staring on that dreadful death, knowing what he had done; and so terrible was his face, lit by the lightning that flickered all about them, that Gwindor cowered down upon the ground and dared not raise his eyes.
But now in the dell beneath the Orcs were aroused, and all the camp was in a tumult; for they feared the thunder that came out of the west, believing that it was sent against them by the great Enemies beyond the Sea. Then a wind arose, and great rains fell, and torrents swept down from the heights of Taur-nu-Fuin; and though Gwindor cried out to Túrin, warning him of their utmost peril, he made no answer, but sat unmoving and unweeping in the tempest beside the body of Beleg Cúthalion.
Luckily for the grieving Gorthol, the Orcs were so freaked out by the storm they did not venture forth until the storm passed eastward to Lothlann the next morning, a fine sunny autumn day. And they dispersed thinking Túrin fled and his tracks washed away by the storm.
Gwindor managed to rouse Túrin and together they buried Beleg with his great bow, Belthronding. But “the dread sword Anglachel Gwindor took, saying that it were better that it should take vengeance on the servants of Morgoth than lie useless in the earth; and he took also the lembas of Melian to strengthen them in the wild.”
Heartened again, Gwindor led the speechless and dispirited Túrin away, guarding him as they made their way westward over Sirion to Eithel Ivrin, the springs whence Narog rose beneath Ered Wethrin. There Gwindor spoke to Túrin, and told him to drink the waters which was maintained crystal clear by Ulmo. Túrin obeyed, and bawling he was healed.
Sentient now, Túrin composed his ode Laer Cú Beleg, the Song of the Great Bow, in Beleg’s memory. Then Gwindor gave the sword Anglachel into his hands, and though Túrin “knew that it was heavy and strong and had great power; but its blade was black and dull and its edges blunt.”
Interestingly Gwindor noted it was a strange blade the likes of which he had never seen, mourning along with Túrin for Beleg. Then he took Túrin with him back to Nargothrond, after sharing his own history as a POW in Angband during the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. To Túrin’s question about Húrin, he could only say rumours of him, cursed but alive and defying Morgoth still abound in Angband.
In Nargothrond, so bent by his torment that his kinsmen could not recognise him, it was Finduilas, Orodreth’s daughter and his sweetheart, who identified him. Admitted by association, Túrin went by a new name: Agarwaen the son of Úmarth (the Bloodstained, son of Illfate), “a hunter in the woods”.
In the time that followed Túrin grew high in favour with Orodreth, and well-nigh all hearts were turned to him in Nargothrond. For he was young, and only now reached his full manhood; and he was in truth the son of Morwen Eledhwen to look upon: dark-haired and pale-skinned, with grey eyes, and his face more beautiful than any other among mortal Men, in the Elder Days. His speech and bearing were that of the ancient kingdom of Doriath, and even among the Elves he might be taken for one from the great houses of the Noldor; therefore many called him Adanedhel, the Elf-Man. The sword Anglachel was forged anew for him by cunning smiths of Nargothrond, and though ever black its edges shone with pale fire; and he named it Gurthang, Iron of Death. So great was his prowess and skill in warfare on the confines of the Guarded Plain that he himself became known as Mormegil, the Black Sword; and the Elves said: ‘The Mormegil cannot be slain, save by mischance, or an evil arrow from afar.’ Therefore they gave him dwarf-mail, to guard him; and in a grim mood he found also in the armouries a dwarf-mask all gilded, and he put it on before battle, and his enemies fled before his face.
Unlooked for, Finduilas’ heart changed and was unrequited. Gwindor, perceiving her misery, gave her blessing to go where her heart would, but warned her of the curse of inter-racial matrimony with the short-lived race, for the Doom and curse he perceived upon Agarwaen, and that this was no Beren. Finduilas told Turin what Gwindor said.
Now when Túrin learnt from Finduilas of what had passed, he was wrathful, and he said to Gwindor: ‘In love I hold you for rescue and safe-keeping. But now you have done ill to me, friend, to betray my right name, and call my doom upon me, from which I would lie hid.’
But Gwindor answered: ‘The doom lies in yourself, not in your name.’
Still great honour was bestowed on Túrin when Orodreth found out, and he thrived. Yearning for bold moves and open battle he successfully got Orodreth to spurn Nargothrond’s preference for ambush, stealth and secret arrow. They even built a bridge over the Narog from the Doors of Felagund, for faster troop movement. Their success in driving the servants of Angband out from “all the land between Narog and Sirion eastward, and westward to the Nenning and the desolate Falas” brought Nargothrond to Morgoth’s hateful attention. Though Gwindor spoke against Túrin’s policy, “he fell into dishonour and none heeded him, for his strength was small and he was no longer forward in arms.” But at the behest of the fate-dodging Túrin’s his true name was not used, he was only known as the Black Sword of Nargothrond even in the news Thingol heard.
And at this time, thanks to Mormegil keeping Angband east of the Sirion, Morwen was able to find her into Menegroth with Nienor, where learning the ill-news that her son was MIA, they stayed as hnoured guests of Thingol and Melian.
In the spring of the four hundred and ninety-sixth year of the Moon’s rising, two Elves came to Nargothrond. Gelmir and Arminas were Angrod’s people who dwelt in the south with Círdan the Shipwright since the Dagor Bragollach, They brought news of “a great mustering of Orcs and evil creatures under the eaves of Ered Wethrin and in the Pass of Sirion”. They also disclosed that Ulmo had paid a visit to Círdan about a great danger drawing nigh to Nargothrond.
“The Evil of the North has defiled the springs of Sirion, and my power withdraws from the fingers of the flowing waters. But a worse thing is yet to come forth. Say therefore to the Lord of Nargothrond: Shut the doors of the fortress and go not abroad. Cast the stones of your pride into the loud river, that the creeping evil may not find the gate.”’
Orodreth was troubled, but Túrin paid it no heed, and refused to have the great bridge destroyed, “for he was become proud and stern, and would order all things as he wished.
Soon afterwards, the Forest of Brethil was invaded by Orcs, claiming the lives of many Men, including Handir Lord of Brethil, and driving them back into the Woods.
And in the autumn of the year, biding his hour, Morgoth loosed upon the people of Narog the great host that he had long prepared; and Glaurung the Urulóki passed over Anfauglith, and came thence into the north vales of Sirion and there did great evil. Under the shadows of Ered Wethrin he defiled the Eithel Ivrin, and thence he passed into the realm of Nargothrond, and burned the Talath Dirnen, the Guarded Plain, between Narog and Teiglin.
The warriors of Nargothrond rode forth but only the tall and terrible Túrin, with his dwarf-mask could withstand the approach of Glaurung, amid the onslaught of the far greater host of Morgoth, that intelligence failed to size properly. Driven back and pressed by the Orcs into the field of Tumhalad, between Ginglith and Narog, the Elves were penned, and slaughtered like lambs; Orodreth foremost in the battle. Fatally wounded, Gwindor was rescued and borne into a woof by Túrin.
There, with his dying breath, Gwindor berated Túrin and rued the day he took the Man into Nargothrond, deeming its fall his fault.
Now if thou love me, leave me! Haste thee to Nargothrond, and save Finduilas. And this last I say to thee: she alone stands between thee and thy doom. If thou fail her, it shall not fail to find thee. Farewell!’
Túrin mustered survivors and hurried back to Nargothrond, but the host of the Orcs and Glaurung the Dragon were already been there, done that. For they, surprising the guards upon the Doors of Felagund, easily accessible thanks to the bridge Túrin caused to be, and which the Dragon proceeded blew apart, had completed the sack, and were herding women and maidens to be entered into Morgoth’s thraldom.
But Túrin was unstoppable, even though the survivors who had come with him had fled, and he hewed his way to a confrontation with Glaurung, past the blasted doors behind that accursed bridge.
There, after a brief set-to, Túrin looked straight into Glaurung’s eyes and was bespelled into immobility.
But Glaurung spoke again, taunting Túrin, and he said: ‘Evil have been all thy ways, son of Húrin. Thankless fosterling, outlaw, slayer of thy friend, thief of love, usurper of Nargothrond, captain foolhardy, and deserter of thy kin. As thralls thy mother and thy sister live in Dor-lómin, in misery and want. Thou art arrayed as a prince, but they go in rags; and for thee they yearn, but thou carest not for that. Glad may thy father be to learn that he hath such a son; as learn he shall.’ And Túrin being under the spell of Glaurung hearkened to his words, and he saw himself as in a mirror misshapen by malice, and loathed that which he saw.
And while he was yet held by the eyes of the dragon in torment of mind, and could not stir, the Orcs drove away the herded captives, and they passed nigh to Túrin and crossed over the bridge. Among them was Finduilas, and she cried out to Túrin as she went; but not until her cries and the wailing of the captives was lost upon the northward road did Glaurung release Túrin, and he might not stop his ears against that voice that haunted him after.
Then suddenly Glaurung withdrew his glance, and waited; and Túrin stirred slowly, as one waking from a hideous dream. Then coming to himself he sprang upon the dragon with a cry. But Glaurung laughed, saying: ‘If thou wilt be slain, I will slay thee gladly. But small help will that be to Morwen and Nienor. No heed didst thou give to the cries of the Elf-woman. Wilt thou deny also the bond of thy blood?’
But Túrin drawing back his sword stabbed at the dragon’s eyes; and Glaurung coiling back swiftly towered above him, and said: ‘Nay! At least thou art valiant; beyond all whom I have met. And they lie who say that we of our part do not honour the valour of foes. See now! I offer thee freedom. Go to thy kin, if thou canst. Get thee gone! And if Elf or Man be left to make tale of these days, then surely in scorn they will name thee, if thou spurnest this gift.’
Then Túrin, being yet bemused by the eyes of the dragon, as were he treating with a foe that could know pity, believed the words of Glaurung; and turning away he sped over the bridge. But as he went Glaurung spoke behind him, saying in a fell voice: ‘Haste thee now, son of Húrin, to Dorlómin! Or perhaps the Orcs shall come before thee, once again. And if thou tarry for Finduilas, then never shalt thou see Morwen again, and never at all shalt thou see Nienor thy sister; and they will curse thee.’
So Túrin hurried away northward through the now desolate lands between Narog and Teiglin, and suffered in the Fell Winter that came snowing in even though it was still autumn, and lasted into spring. He would hear Finduilas’ cries wherever he went, but torn as he was, he kept making his way northward, for being under the enchantment of Glaurung, “seeing ever in his mind the Orcs burning the house of Húrin or putting Morwen and Nienor to torment, he held on his way, and turned never aside.”
Meantime, Glaurung, having blasted the bridge at Túrin’s departure, stopped the Orc plunder and made himself a comfortable bed of hoard to luxuriate upon. Thus was the Fall of Nargothrond wrought.
After travelling without stopping for forty leagues, Túrin reached Irvin where Gwindor helped him regain his senses by commanding to drink of its wholeseom waters, but the pools were frozen, and could not succour him again. From there, he reached at last his childhood home of Dor-lómin. But Morwen was gone. Finally, from an old servant living with Aerin, he learnt she had fled, and only Aerin Húrin’s kinswoman knew to where.
Then Túrin strode to Brodda’s table, and seizing him he drew his sword, and demanded that he be told whither Morwen had gone; and Aerin declared to him that she went to Doriath to seek her son. ‘For the lands were freed then from evil,’ she said, ‘by the Black Sword of the south, who now has fallen, they say.’ Then Túrin’s eyes were opened, and the last threads of Glaurung’s spell were loosed; and for anguish, and wrath at the lies that had deluded him, and hatred of the oppressors of Morwen, a black rage seized him, and he slew Brodda in his hall, and other Easterlings that were his guests.
Of course he had to flee. But he was aided by some of Hador’s people with woodcraft skills, and reached an outlaws’ refuge in the southern mountains of Dor-lómin. From there, Túrin returned to Sirion’s vale. The irony of the gladness of his people in Dor-lómin in seeing the back of him (for the trouble he caused) against Mormegil’s efforts in opening the way for Morwen’s passage to Doriath was not lost in him. Rationalising matters in his mind, he decided against reuniting with his mother and sister, and turned his mind to Finduilas’ rescue. Unsuccessfully following (and marauding) cold trails from Ered Wethrin to all the roads that went north to the Pass of Sirion, he went south past Teiglin, and there rescued some Men of Brethil beset by Orcs, calling himself “Wildman of the Woods”.
From their leader, Dorlas, he learnt they had waylaid the Orc-host leading captives of Nargothrond at the Crossings of Teiglin, hoping to free them. But the Orcs killed all their prisoners, including Finduilas who was speared to a tree. Her last words were ‘Tell the Mormegil that Finduilas is here.’
The Men led Túrin at his behest to the mound where she lied, Haudh-en-Elleth, the Mound of the Elf-maid. There he fell into a grief coma. By his black sword, Dorlas knew him to be Mormegil, who was rumoured to be the son of Húrin of Dorlómin. So the Men bore the unconscious hero to their homes, set in a stockade at height within the forest, Ephel Brandir upon Amon Obel.
These remnants of the diminished People of Haleth were ruled by Brandir, son of the slain Handir. Covetness was his policy, and he had misgivings with Túrin in their midst. Still, Brandir took him in and healed him. Thanks to Brandir’s healing skills, he recovered in the next spring, and hoping to again dodge his fate, adopted a new name: Turambar, which in the High-elven speech meant Master of Doom. He requested the woodsmen to forget he was ever a stranger or even his other names, but he continued doing what he was best at: making the Crossings of Teiglin and Haudh-en-Elleth places of dread for the Orcs. But prudently, he laid aside Anglachel, wielding instead the bow and spear.
Doriath had just learnt of Nargothrond’s fall, and with Mormegil’s true identity the revelation of the times, Morwen freaked out. Leaving Nienor behind, she rode forth against Melian’s advice to find news of her son, so Thingol sent Mablung to guard and accompany her.
Yet the fearlessness of her house was hers; and in an evil hour, in hope that Morwen would return when she saw that her daughter would go with her into peril, Nienor disguised herself as one of Thingol’s people, and went with that ill-fated riding.
Mablung’s party reached Morwen by the Sirion’s banks. And with both mother and daughter not yielding, he decided to bring help the, First to Amon Eithir via three days’ journey from the hidden ferries at Aelin-uial. There on the Hill “that long ago Felagund had caused to be raised with great labour, a league before the doors of Nargothrond”, he forbade them to proceed any further, but went himself down to the Narog to scout.
Unfortunately, Glaurung was aware of them, “and he came forth in heat of wrath, and lay into the river; and a vast vapour and foul reek went up, in which Mablung and his company were blinded and lost. Then Glaurung passed east over Narog.”
The guard on Amon Eithir attempted to escape with Morwen and Nienor but confusion caused by mists and Glaurung caused disaster among them. Morwen was lost forever, but Nienor was thrown from her horse, and got back to Amon Eithir, hoping to reunited with Mablung, but she “came thus above the reek into the sunlight; and looking westward she stared straight into the eyes of Glaurung, whose head lay upon the hill-top.”
Her will strove with him for a while, but he put forth his power, and having learned who she was he constrained her to gaze into his eyes, and he laid a spell of utter darkness and forgetfulness upon her, so that she could remember nothing that had ever befallen her, nor her own name, nor the name of any other thing; and for many days she could neither hear, nor see, nor stir by her own will. Then Glaurung left her standing alone upon Amon Ethir, and went back to Nargothrond.
The greatly daring Mablung, who had been exploring Nargothrond in Glaurung’s absence, managed to escape further attention from the returning Dragon, and making his way back to Amon Eithir, found Nienor. He led her away, and they would have perished if not for three of his companions who met her. Then it was a slow journey back, “northward and eastward towards the fences of the land of Doriath beyond Sirion, and the guarded bridge nigh to the inflowing of Esgalduin.”
Nienor, who’d been in a waking comatose state regained enough of her senses just as they were being attacked by an Orc-band to be so freaked out she ran away. The Elves killed the Orcs before they could harm her, but in turn she also fled out of their reach. Mablung returned to Menegroth with the sad news to Thingol and Melian and continued to look for both mother and daughter, in vain.
Meanwhile, Nienor ran until she was so tired she fell asleep. Then waking to “a sunlit morning”, she was delighted by the light and everything for she was as a newborn babe, with her memory blocked by Glaurung’s spell. But of her run of misfortune, she only remembered it as “a darkness that lay behind her, and a shadow of fear; therefore she went warily as a hunted beast, and became famished, for she had no food and knew not how to seek it.” Finally, she made the Crossings of Teiglin, seeking the shelter of the great trees of Brethil, spooked by an oncoming thunderstorm from the south that felt to her as if “the darkness was overtaking her again from which she had fled.”
She flung herself upon Haudh-en-Elleth in terror; the sleeting rain drenched her such that “she lay like a wild beast that is dying”, and that was how Turambar found her.
But the woodmen lifted her up, and Turambar cast his cloak about her, and they took her to a lodge nearby, and warmed her, and gave her food. And as soon as she looked upon Turambar she was comforted, for it seemed to her that she had found at last something that she had sought in her darkness; and she would not be parted from him. But when he asked her concerning her name and her kin and her misadventure, then she became troubled as a child that perceives that something is demanded but cannot understand what it may be; and she wept. Therefore Turambar said: ‘Do not be troubled. The tale shall wait. But I will give you a name, and I will call you Níniel, Tear-maiden.’ And at that name she shook her head, but said: Níniel. That was the first word she spoke after her darkness, and it remained her name among the woodmen ever after.
The next day they made their way toward Ephel Brandir. Passing by Dimrost, the Rainy Stair, where Celebros fell into the Teiglin, Níniel shuddered, and it was renamed to Nen Girith, the Shuddering Water.
She ran a fever before they reached their destination of Amon Obel. Sick for a long time, she was tended by the women of Brethil who taught her to speak, as a baby would be. Finally, Brandir’s healing skills once again proved great, and she was healed by autumn. But she could not recall anything before her meeting with Turambar. Incidentally, Brandir loved her, but she in turn had eyes only for Turambar. Things were peaceful for a time, and Turambar reciprocated, and proposed. But on Brandir’s altruistically-driven advice, she demurred. He even told her Turambar was Túrin son of Húrin, and though it rang no bells, she was troubled by the revelation.
But three years since the sack of Nargothrond, Turambar asked Níniel again, vowing to either have her to wife or return to his guerilla life. So Níniel agreed, and they wedded at the midsummer with a great feast. But before year end, Glaurung sent his Orcs against Brethil. Turambar sat out the action, because he promised Níniel he would go to battle only if their homes were attacked. But when the Orcs gained the advantage, Dorlas “upbraided him that he would not aid the people that he had taken for his own.” So Turambar led a great host of woodmen, wielding his black sword, and routed the Orcs utterly.
But Glaurung heard tidings that the Black Sword was in Brethil, and he pondered what he heard, devising new evil.
In the new year, Níniel conceived, but was mopey. Rumours also started of Glaurung’s emergence from Nargothrond. Turambar was ordering things to his liking, for he held power now, and Brandir was sidelined. As summer neared, Glaurung did indeed come to Brethil’s borders, laying near the west shores of Teiglin. This freaked the woodfolk out. So Turambar decided to meet the Dragon himself, and “bade the rest of the people to remain at Ephel Brandir, but to prepare for flight, as Glaurung would destroy their homes if he had the victory, but scattered, the people might be able to escape with their lives.
With only Dorlas and Hunthor (a kinsman of Brandir who volunteered to go in his stead after Dorlas gave everybody a dressing down for keeping quiet) with him, they proceeded to Nen Girith. But Níniel set out after him, with a great company following her. After failing to dissuade her, Brandir, who loved her, renounced his lordship and arming himself, tried to follow. But he fell far behind, thanks to his disability.
At sundown, Turambar reached Nen Girith, only to find Glaurung was lounging on the high shores of Teiglin, and was probably going to move after dark. To him it was good news, because the dragon lied at Cabed-en-Aras, “where the river ran in a deep and narrow gorge that a hunted deer might overleap” and if he made the correct moves, he would come at Glaurung from below and catch him off his guard.
Dorlas chickened out of the danger at the Crossings of Teiglin in the dark, and only Turambar and Hunthor made it, helped by the falls’ noises. But at midnight, the sleeping Dragon suddenly lunged awoke “and with a great noise and blast cast his forward part across the chasm, and began to draw his bulk after.” The heroes were overwhelmed by the heat and the stench, as they tried to wound Glaurung. Hunthor was killed by a great stone dislodged from on high by the dragon, and fell dead into the river.
Then Turambar summoned all his will and courage and climbed the cliff alone, and came beneath the dragon. Then he drew Gurthang, and with all the might of his arm, and of his hate, he thrust it into the soft belly of the Worm, even up to the hilts. But when Glaurung felt his deathpang, he screamed, and in his dreadful throe he heaved up his bulk and hurled himself across the chasm, and there lay lashing and coiling in his agony. And he set all in a blaze about him, and beat all to ruin, until at last his fires died, and he lay still.
Now Gurthang had been wrested from Turambar’s hand in the throe of Glaurung, and it clave to the belly of the dragon. Turambar therefore crossed the water once more, desiring to recover his sword and to look upon his foe; and he found him stretched at his length, and rolled upon one side, and the hilts of Gurthang stood in his belly. Then Turambar seized the hilts and set his foot upon the belly, and cried in mockery of the dragon and his words at Nargothrond: ‘Hail, Worm of Morgoth! Well met again! Die now and the darkness have thee! Thus is Túrin son of Húrin avenged.’
Then he wrenched out the sword, but a spout of black blood followed it, and fell on his hand, and the venom burned it. And thereupon Glaurung opened his eyes and looked upon Turambar with such malice that it smote him as a blow; and by that stroke and the anguish of the venom he fell into a dark swoon, and lay as one dead, and his sword was beneath him.
Those with Níniel at Nen Girith took Glaurung’s screams to mean he had the victory. Níniel was motionless, bespelt again by Glaurung’s voice. But Brandir had just caught up, and he thought perhaps she would now take to him. He led her away but at the Crossings, she regained her senses and made instead for the battleground. There, she washed Turambar’s injured hand with her tears and dressed his wound.
Thereat Glaurung stirred for the last time ere he died, and he spoke with his last breath, saying: ‘Hail, Nienor, daughter of Húrin. We meet again ere the end. I give thee joy that thou hast found thy brother at last. And now thou shalt know him: a stabber in the dark, treacherous to foes, faithless to friends, and a curse unto his kin, Túrin son of Húrin! But the worst of all his deeds thou shalt feel in thyself.’
Then Glaurung died, and the veil of his malice was taken from her, and she remembered all the days of her life. Looking down upon Túrin she cried: ‘Farewell, O twice beloved! A Túrin Turambar turun ambartanen: master of doom by doom mastered! O happy to be dead!’ Then Brandir who had heard all, standing stricken upon the edge of ruin, hastened towards her; but she ran from him distraught with horror and anguish, and coming to the brink of Cabed-en-Aras she cast herself over, and was lost in the wild water.
Then Brandir came and looked down, and turned away in horror; and though he no longer desired life, he could not seek death in that roaring water. And thereafter no man looked again upon Cabed-en-Aras, nor would any beast or bird come there, nor any tree grow; and it was named Cabed Naeramarth, the Leap of Dreadful Doom.
Brandir returned to Nen Girith, killing Dorlas on the way – his first (and last) murder. As he finished telling them all that had happened, even the news of Níniel and Turambar’s relationship, Túrin himself had just turned up. A heated argument followed, with Dorlas’ wife calling Brandir a liar for saying Turambar had died. Turambar was in disbelief at the revelation as Brandir recounted all he saw and heard, including the incendiary final words of Glaurung. In those words, “he heard the feet of his doom overtaking him”, and flying into a rage, killed Brandir for spreading the lies of Glaurung.
As before with Saeros, he fled after the deed, and ended at Haudh-en-Elleth, floundering, and calling on Finduilas for guidance – to seek his kin in Doriath or go into battle and hope for death. So Mablung appeared at this time, led to Brethil by news of Glaurung and the Black Sword. From Mablung Túrin learnt of his kin’s fates, and that Brandir in speaking truth, died unjustly. His Doom was fulfilled.
And he laughed as one fey, crying: ‘This is a bitter jest indeed!’ But he bade Mablung go, and return to Doriath, with curses upon it. ‘And a curse too upon your errand!’ he cried. ‘This only was wanting. Now comes the night.’
Then like the wind he fled, and worried about him, the Elves followed. Túrin out-ran them, and coming to Cabed-en-Aras, “he drew forth his sword, that now alone remained to him of all his possessions.”
‘Hail Gurthang! No lord or loyalty dost thou know, save the hand that wieldeth thee. From no blood wilt thou shrink. Wilt thou therefore take Túrin Turambar, wilt thou slay me swiftly?’
And from the blade rang a cold voice in answer: ‘Yea, I will drink thy blood gladly, that so I may forget the blood of Beleg my master, and the blood of Brandir slain unjustly. I will slay thee swiftly.’
The Elves first, then the Men, reached the scene, and even without benefit of CSI, the story was clear. Poor Mablung, who saw the part he played in the in the doom of the Children of Húrin.
A pyre was made, burning the Dragon to ashes. but Túrin they buried in a high mound with the shards of Gurthang by his side, with the Elves singing a lament for the Children of Húrin. A great grey headstone was set on the mound, and on it was carven in runes of Doriath: “TÚRIN TURAMBAR DAGNIR GLAURUNGA” and “NIENOR NÍNIEL” was inscribed below that, although her body was never found. (More than a year later, upon Tol Morwen would stand the Stone of the Hapless in commemoration of the place where Húrin’s kin passed, made into song by a seer and harp-player of Brethil.)
This was a such depressing end for the children of a great hero of Men. Goes to show, no matter how creative one got with names, Morgoth’s hex was not easily dodged. After all, he was an ex-Valar, and was even an Aratar. All Túrin seemed to have done was to delay and exacerbate the inevitable, no thanks to capable evil minions like Glaurung adding his own creative bit to the plot. Túrin might have done better to take a leaf or two from the Noldor book, especially the Fëanor section, on taking Doom in stride.
(Relevance: read-along schedule)