I. The Elder Days
Galadriel was the only daughter of Finarfin Finwë’s son and his wife Eärwen, who was daughter to Olwë of Alqualondë, and Olwë was the brother of Elwë Singollo of Doriath in the Hither Lands. When Fëanor incited the Noldor to exile in the great square of Tirion, Galadriel felt her heart swayed (as she had secretly desired) to the freedom of Middle-earth under the stars, and the realms that she might rule there, and she alone raised her woman’s voice among the princes of the Noldor, urging her people to undertake the great journey. But though eager to be gone, at the Kinslaying she fought alongside her mother’s people against her father’s upon the lamplit quays.
After Finarfin departed with a great part of his people, Artanis (for so was Galadriel then known) and her brothers joined with the host of Fingolfin, with whose sons and daughters they had great friendship. But in the crossing of the Helacaraxë Elenwë the wife of Turgon was lost, and Turgon himself saved his daughter Idril, and Artanis his sister Aredhel, the White Lady, from drowning in the icy seas. For Galadriel was the greatest of all the Noldor with Fëanor, strong in wisdom and in body, in song and in lore. Thereafter there was friendship between Artanis and Idril for this, for they were somewhat alike in stature and perception, save that Idril’s hair was the pure gold of Laurelin, while in Galadriel’s tresses shone the light of the Two Trees together, a glory and a wonder to behold. And indeed it is said that in earnest of a lock of that hair Fëanor made the Silmarils, for desire of which Morgoth broke the world, and the Noldor went into exile.
* * * * * * *
But in later days at the Feast of Reuniting when well nigh all hearts were glad foreboding came upon Artanis of ill days to follow, a foreboding not decreased by the gift she received there. For in sight of all Enerdhil, a smith of Turgon’s house, gave Idril and Galadriel each a sword, wrought with lethal beauty. Blue they shone when any of the Glamhoth were nigh. And Idril’s sword was named Hadhafang, Throng-cleaver, “a noble sword for a noble lady.” Artanis’ sword was Morafang, Dark-cleaver, or Lightbringer.
It is told that to that feast Thingol of Doriath sent only envoys, preferring not to unlock his hidden kingdom. But Artanis and Finrod her dear brother, after speech with these envoys, were reminded of their earlier desire to meet their Unwilling kin, and after the feast they bade farewell to their fellow descendants of Finwë and went in company with Thingol’s envoys to sojourn in Doriath. It befell that some of these partings endured beyond even the great reshaping of the world.
When Finrod and Artanis came to Menegroth Thingol welcomed them warmly (for as yet no word of the Kinslaying had reached Avari ears), and many were the songs there sung. But while Finrod was enchanted by the halls of Menegroth, the Thousand Caves beneath the eaves, Artanis favored rather the forest, the voice of Esgalduin the Enchanted River and the song of birds in the boughs. Long she wandered among them, for in the first days of the rising of the Sun no foul thing dared beyond the darkness, and no evil could pass the Girdle of Melian. And in the beginning the mortality of all things upon the hither shores was not weariness but delight to Galadriel.
Celeborn of Doriath too loved the trees, but whereas Artanis wondering compared them with the haunts of Oromë in Valinor, Thingol’s kinsman loved them for their sake alone. Often Celeborn would wander long in the forests, departing from Menegroth for days or weeks. This had been the case when the children of Finarfin arrived. Now, some weeks after their coming, he drew night at last again to Menegroth. Gloaming lay upon the woods, the time of the mingling lights, and Celeborn was gladdened by this sight, still new to his immortal eyes. Passing into a glade he halted and looked all about him, his heart rejoicing. Yet his heart skipped a beat when turning he beheld across the glade a woman, an Elf, standing amidst the trees. To Celeborn there had never been a sight more enchanting. Golden was her hair, and yet shining silver; it was very long, for she was exceedingly tall. Her voice—rich, measured, deep for a woman—for now she raised it in song, a song in a tongue at once familiar and strange—her voice was to Celeborn more beautiful than the nightingales that sang upon the boughs. He stood frozen, struck dumb, while she sang (though he did not know it) a hymn to the stars beneath the trees, newly devised by the rebel, exiled Elves. Too soon, the song ended, and she began to walk away.
Fear woke in the heart of Celeborn, fearless until then, and he started forward, stumbling in his haste. “Galadriel!” he called, finding his voice; “Galadriel!” For such—Lady of Light—was all he could think to call her.
She stopped and turned, not fearfully but in curiosity, and Celeborn’s breath caught in his throat. The fire in her eyes burned clearer and brighter than in any in Doriath, he thought; there were stars in her eyes. “Galadriel,” he repeated softly, wondering.
Artanis saw a tall young lord, dark of hair and eye, quite handsome, with a light in his eyes, clearer and brighter than the wont of the Moriquendi. She smiled. “What art thou that hails me thus?” she asked, in Sindarin.
“I am Celeborn, kin to Thingol,” he answered. “But what art thou?”
“I am Artanis,” she said, “daughter of Finarfin Finwëion. But Galadriel—that is a fair name.”
“So thou seemed to me,” said Celeborn, taking a step towards her.
“Then I will keep it,” she said, smiling. “Do you walk often in these woods?”
“These wood were once all my delight,” he replied.
“Thy voice is fairer than the wind in the trees, lady, and the stars in thy eyes as beautiful as those above us,” said Celeborn, for it was evening now.
She laughed, and his heart thrilled to the sound. “Though you use a different tongue, you are fairspoken as a Vanya,” she said, and reached out her hand to him, for Celeborn seemed to her like no Elf of Valinor, tall and straight as a great tree. “Will you walk with me?”
“I will,” he said, “Galadriel,” and he laid his hand in hers.
They wandered far beneath the trees, talking of many things, yet at last they drew nigh again to Menegroth, and heard the enspelled voice of Esgalduin the Enchanted River. Upon a knoll overlooking the bridge into the Thousand Caves they halted, and afar off came the sound of singing, of music and delight without care or thought of the darkness in the North, of the Shadowy Seas and Enchanted Isles that lay between them and the Powers of Arda. Galadriel stared at the lights through the trees, and sighed. “I did not come to Ennorath,” she said, “to avenge the rape of the Silmarils. I came to try my own strength, to rule lands of my own beneath the stars. Yet I come under a shadow, as do all my people, and I fear it may ensnare us all.”
“Remain in Doriath,” Celeborn implored, turning to her. “No evil may come here while the Grey King and Queen reign. There is no stain upon bole and branch, and no sorrow in the song of Melian’s nightingales.”
She smiled. “I have not found what I sought in Doriath,” she said, “but I have found something infinitely more precious, being unsought. I would be content, I think, here to remain.”
Celeborn smiled too, and stretched out his hand. “Nothing could be of more delight to me,” he said, “for I find that as thou havst taken my use-name for thee, so thou hast taken my heart, and departing thou would break it.”
Galadriel laid her hand in his. “I could not part from thee,” she said, “for thou hast my heart in earnest of thine.”
He raised her hand to his lips. “I shall keep it well,” he told her, “as thou shall keep mine, and we shall remain in Doriath, forsaking the Shadow.”
“The Shadow may fall upon us, and even upon Doriath,” said Galadriel, “but not by it shall we ever be parted, I deem. Escaping one wyrd we may fall subject to another.”
“It may be so,” said Celeborn. “But I say to thee, Galadriel, that we shall never be overcome, nor our ends go awry, whilst we remain together. I do not know much of Fëanor, or of Finwë’s house—save what thou hast told me, but thee I deem may be the greatest of the Noldor.”
“It is well I came,” said Galadriel; “there is no Elf in all Valinor like thee, and no other would I have. There is a full measure of strength and wisdom in thee, and in me, and we will chance the ages together.”
So saying they went hand in hand to Menegroth, and before the court of Thingol and Melian they clasped hands and were wed.
* * * * * * *
For many years they remained as they had said in Doriath, and from Melian Galadriel’s wisdom grew great indeed. Though Thingol forbade the High Speech of the Noldor in his realm upon hearing of the Kinslaying at Alqualondë, and of the Curse and the Doom, still messengers came to Doriath from the lands without, and Galadriel even sojourned with her brothers in Finrod’s realm of Nargothrond for a time. Yet as the Siege of Angband lengthened her foreboding increased, and at the news of the death of her uncle Fingolfin the High King, fairest of Finwë’s sons, she knew that the Eldar could not war against the greatest of the Powers that were before Arda. She said as much to her brother’s messengers, who offered her a place among the captains of the Noldor in the Union of Maedhros, alone of Elven women. The messengers also begged for the strength of Thingol, saying that all the strength of the Eldar and the Edain, even the realms of Nargothrond and rumored Gondolin, had joined the league. Hearing that Turgon was hoped to come, Galadriel sent them with a message for Idril, which against all odds came to the regent of the Hidden City through wrack and ruin from her father’s mouth: “The time for our swords draws nigh.”
But Thingol refused, shaping perhaps the course of events to come, yet Mablung and Beleg were loath to have no part in the glory of Beleriand, or its ruin as events befell; they alone brought back the grievous tidings of the Fifth Battle to Doriath, which then grew begirt by shadows.
But through those shadows came Beren son of Barahir, following his fate, and beneath the trees in Doriath he and Lúthien Tinuvíel fell in love. To spare his life she brought him before her father, and all the Elves were astounded when Beren asked for Lúthien’s hand, and many laughed when Thingol named a shining Silmaril as Lúthien’s bride-price. But Celeborn and Galadriel remembered their meeting beneath the trees, and did not laugh, and sat as silent as Melian. Yet their hearts also misgave them, for the Silmarils were set not only in Morgoth’s iron crown but also in fire and shadow, avarice and hate, the Curse and the Doom of the Noldor. All these barred the way of Barahir’s son.
From the hour of Beren’s departure music left the woods of Doriath, for Lúthien sang no more. When she was imprisoned in Hirilorn only Celeborn and especially Galadriel would she permit to visit, being fast in friendship. And when Tinuvíel fled neither was surprised.
Beren returned at last, Erchamion, with tidings of the death of Felagund, and Galadriel’s grief for her brother was very great. Yet even without the Jewel Beren and Lúthien were wed, though very soon befell the Hunting of the Wolf, that the eaves of Doriath might again be safe. Beren died, Tinuvíel withered, Thingol fell into winter and foreboding filled Galadriel for the ending of Doriath and the fading of the Eldalië, unforeseen yet inevitable. From that day she resumed rigorous training with Morafang, honing her formidable skill.
After the return of Beren and Lúthien from beyond death, Thingol recovered to rule his realm and to foster Turin Turambar. But eventually, maddened by coveting the Silmaril, the Grey King fell by Dwarf-blades, alone of the Avari to have seen the light of the Trees upon Ezellohar. And at his death Melian summoned Mablung, bidding him defend Doriath and the Jewel for which Thingol had died, and she departed Middle-earth, returning to the gardens of Lórien whence she had once come. Galadriel and Celeborn, with Mablung, led the defense of Menegroth against the sacking Dwarves of Nogrod. But Mablung fell before the treasury doors, and they refused to die for the Jewel and so left the Dwarves to their plunder, fleeing before them into the trees. Morafang slew many Dwarves, and Celeborn was embittered against that race forever for the sack of Doriath, but Galadriel with her maker’s heart forgave them their pride. At any rate Beren and the Green-Elves slew all responsible, and turned the streambed at the crossings of Teiglin to gold with the wealth of Doriath, for it lay under a curse.
When the Dwarves departed, being besotted by plunder having neglected to burn the forests, Galadriel and Celeborn led the remaining Elves back to Menegroth, restoring the realm as best they could. They had been some time at this when one day the maiden Nellas, who lived in the woods rather than in the Thousand Caves, rushed into the hall, crying, “My lord and lady! Someone comes!”
Galadriel and Celeborn rose, putting hands to their swords, though Doriath was now poor in both treasure and defenders. But Nellas shook her head. “Not foes,” she said, “but Elves, and the fairest I have seen—save perhaps Lúthien—leads them.”
“Eluchil,” said they together: Lúthien’s son, Thingol’s heir.
“They will soon be here,” said Nellas, “for I was sitting in a tree not far away.”
So saying she departed, and Celeborn and Galadriel went out to the bridge. Presently they heard singing beneath the trees, and Celeborn and Galadriel bent their heads, thinking of the voices they would hear no more. But then Galadriel lifted her head and her voice and sang a song of the Blessed Realm, whither she and her kin might not come, whence only the plight of the Children of Ilúvatar in Middle-earth might be assuaged.
A! Elbereth! Gilthoniel!
Silivren penna miriel
O menel aglar elenath
Na-chaerad palan diriel
O galadhremmin ennorath
Fanuilos, le linnathon
Sí nef aerar, nef aearon!
Even as her song ended the Elves dismounted and approached across the sward.
They were Green-elves all, save their leader and the three children on a palfrey. The Elf-lord who led them was tall, the image of his ancestry, fairest of the Children of Ilúvatar, for he was Dior Eluchil, son of the fairest of Elves, the mightiest of Men, and Melian of the Maia. Galadriel and Celeborn bowed low, for the light of Aman was in his face, as was the cast of wisdom, though he was exceedingly young as the Elves reckon it.
“Lord Dior,” said Celeborn, “be welcome to Doriath thy realm. What of the Dwarves of Nogrod?”
“They are slain,” said Dior gravely; “my father led the Elves of Ossiriand against them. The cursed treasure of Doriath is drowned, but my mother dances upon the grass of Tol Galen, wearing the Silmaril upon her breast.”
“Fair is that gem,” said Galadriel, “but perilous.”
“Much like thee, my lady Galadriel,” said Dior smiling. “Hail, Finarfinion, kinswoman! My mother spoke of thee often.”
“Far less often than I think of her,” said Galadriel. “But be welcome unto thy realm, lord! Yet Melian thy grandmother is departed, and we have only our own strength. It will not avail us against doom, I fear.”
“It may yet be so,” said Dior, “but we will remain. Lord Celeborn! Of you I have also heard much. For your part in defending Doriath, and maintaining it, you have my gratitude.”
Celeborn bowed again. “Doriath is my home, lord.”
“As it shall become ours,” said Dior. “This is Nimloth, my wife, whom I believe you know.” Celeborn and Galadriel bowed; Nimloth was indeed known to them, being a cousin of Celeborn.
Nimloth was quite beautiful, with a look of wisdom beyond the wont of most Moriquendi. “Our sons are Eluréd and Elurín, and our daughter is Elwing,” she said, gesturing towards the three children who stood near her, dark and fair of hair and eye.
“A fair name,” said Galadriel, “and unusual.”
Nimloth smiled. “Star-spray, my lady, the stars in the trees above the house where she was born.”
So Dior took up Thingol’s throne, and for a few years there was again delight in Doriath, though it was guarded, for Esgalduin sang a different song upon Melian’s departure. They survived, Galadriel deemed, only because the Enemy was glutted with his devouring of Nargothrond. For the realm of Felagund and Orodreth had fallen to hosts led by the Great Worm, and Finduilas Galadriel’s niece had been taken (for the Mormegil was not there), some years before the death of Thingol. The Mormegil Galadriel had cursed, guessing rightly that he was Turin son of Hurin Thalion. But in later years, hearing the lay of his and his sister Nienor’s woes, she forgave him the fall of Nargothrond, and much else besides. But though the nightingales still sang in the woods of Doriath Celeborn too was disquiet.
They and Dior sat alone in the hall one eve, talking of many things, when an Elf entered, cloaked in grey, a lord of the Green-elves by his face and garb. The King rose, and his companions, but the messenger spoke no word; he had demanded admittance to the King at the gate, and spoken his piece. Silently he bowed to Dior, placed a narrow coffer before him, and departed.
Dior stared at the coffer as if he had never seen a sight more horrible, and then lifted the lid.
“A! Elbereth!” Galadriel cried, but Celeborn could find no voice for his wonder, and Dior was weeping bitter tears.
The Nauglafring lay inside the coffer, and set within it the Silmaril, shining with holy fire. In the light of that jewel the golden trees in the hall, some hewn by the Dwarves, flashed into a radiance more dazzling than the sun on the sea. So it was that Celeborn beheld again the light reflected in his wife’s eyes.
Dior still wept. “Beren Erchamion and Lúthien Tinuvíel have died indeed,” he said, “and I am sundered from them beyond the end of the world.”
“O Lúthien,” said Galadriel softly. “That would wear away thy mortal flesh, for all that thy beauty as thou wore it was beyond all beauty in Arda.”
Dior straightened, though his tears had not dried. “I will wear it,” he said, “for my parents’ sakes, and for the sake of murdered Thingol,” and he reached a hand out to the necklace.
“No, my lord!” Celeborn cried. “Doriath has suffered woe enough for this gem.”
“Let it be, Dior,” Galadriel pleaded. “Five sons of Fëanor still remain, and their oath endures beyond the breaking of the world. They have shed the blood of their kindred for its sake once already.”
“I fear no Man nor Elf,” said Dior, “least of all the House of the Dispossessed. This is the gem my parents freed from Morgoth’s crown! I will wear it for their memory.”
“No Child of Ilúvatar would assail Lúthien Tinuvíel while she wore the gem,” said Galadriel, “but Dior Eluchil is quite another matter.”
“Bethink thee, lord,” said Celeborn, “that this gem is fraught with the darkness Morgoth has sown in the hearts of Men and Elves. Those seeds will bear fruit if thou don it.”
“What would you have me do?” Dior asked.
“Return it to Fëanor’s fell brood,” said Galadriel; “let us see if their right to it still holds.”
“That I will not do,” said Dior, “for Lúthien my mother. I remember the Leap of Beren,” and so saying he clasped the Nauglafring about his neck.
Wearing that jewel he was Dior the Fair, for in its light his mortal, immortal, and divine parentage was clearly shown, the fairest of the Children of Ilúvatar. Yet Galadriel bowed, and departed silently, her heart filled with dread.
At length there came an embassage from Maedhros and his brothers, demanding the return of the Silmaril, reminding Dior of their fell oath. But Dior refused their demands, and the messenger went away with a black look. From that time Galadriel wore Morafang openly, and donned her armor for long stretches of time. In secret she made what preparations seemed necessary for a hasty departure.
She wore that armor the day the sons of Fëanor fell upon Doriath. Fighting alongside Dior Galadriel herself slew Caranthir the dark, and Celeborn Curufin, and Dior Celegorm, avenging his mother and father, yet he himself was slain, and Nimloth his wife defending Eluréd and Elurín, who were left to die in the trackless woods, though Maedhros after repented of this. He hailed Galadriel in the thick of the fight: “Well-met, my lady! Had you given my father a lock of your hair, none of this would have befallen!”
“Your oath is your own doing, Maedhros, and it will consume you!” Galadriel shouted back. “It is through you and your father that Elves have slain Elves!”
At that moment Celegorm fell, but so did Dior, and Celeborn and Galadriel retreated from the hall. Gathering what survivors they could they led a remnant of their people down Sirion, with Elwing in Celeborn’s arms and the Nauglafring in its coffer in Galadriel’s. And having crossed Esgalduin, with Menegroth and the sons of Fëanor on the opposite shore, Galadriel put forth her power and raised the river against pursuit, calling from afar on the Lord of Waters. Eventually they fled even to the mouth of Sirion, and there established havens, and built ships, with the aid of Círdan and Ereinion Gil-galad who dwelt out in the Bay on the isle of Balar. And Galadriel heard again the Sea.
* * * * * * *
Of all the Elven kingdoms only Gondolin remained, and Morgoth’s thought was bent toward it unceasingly. In but a few short years, when Eärendil Tuor and Idril’s son was but seven years old, Maeglin’s treachery was full flowered and he sold the seven-circled city to the Enemy for fulfillment of his own dark desires. Morgoth put forth his might at the height of summer, and Gondolin fell on a day of high festival, fairest of Elven realms in Middle-earth, fair as a memory of Tirion upon Túna.
Yet by the foresight of Idril a way of escape had been built, and saved from Maeglin she and Hadhafang, and Tuor and Glorfindel with Eärendil, led a company out of the city’s wrack. Glorfindel perished slaying the Balrog, as Ecthelion had slaying been slain by Gothmog Lord of Balrogs, Fëanor’s bane. So knowledge of their escape was kept from Morgoth. At length they came even to the Havens at Sirion, and the desire of Voronwë, who was with them, to dwell beside the Sea was fulfilled.
There came a day in autumn when the wind blew from the West and resounded with a flight of seven swans flying out of the North. To Galadriel this seemed to portend something, and restless at heart she climbed the mast of one of their ships. Far out before her the flats of Sirion stretched in her keen Elven eyes, and upon them she beheld an approaching company. Then her heart misgave her, for she remembered the wrack of Doriath, but the pride of the sons of Fëanor was greater than the weary company’s appearance.
It was led by one with long golden hair, and beside that figure, another, dark of hair and of powerful form, wearing beautiful Elvish armor. Then Galadriel heard, or thought she heard, a voice raised in song of praise to the Sea, an Elven-fair voice, but with the timbre, quick and sweet and lively, of mortal Men. And Galadriel guessed who was coming. Descending she said to Celeborn, who waited on the dock, “The flower of the Eldar is consumed in fire. Gondolin is fallen, and Ereinion is High King of we few who remain, caught between the Shadow and the Sea.”
Celeborn took her in his arms, for in that hour Galadriel first tasted despair, for herself and for her people. “We will fail,” she said into his shoulder. “We will fail and in the Blessed Realm no deliverance will be granted us. The Valar must fear Morgoth, though he is craven. For it is as we deemed, we cannot war against one who is the greatest of the spirits divine.”
“There is hope while there is life,” said Celeborn. “Even now it remains.”
“I cannot see it,” said Galadriel, but she straightened. “Idril comes, with the remnants of Gondolin, and one who is more Elf than Man.”
When the company came to the Havens they found Galadriel and Celeborn and Elwing waiting for them with all their folk. Idril and Galadriel embraced. “We meet again, Artanis,” said Idril smiling, “beyond wrack and ruin.”
“You are welcome to Sirion, and all your people,” said Galadriel. “This is Celeborn my husband whom I wed in Doriath, kinsman of Thingol, and Elwing daughter of Dior, son of Beren and Lúthien.”
“Grievous is the wrack of Doriath,” said the tall Elf beside Idril, “yet great it must have been in its glory, if such princes have survived its fall. Hail, cousin!” he said, bowing to Elwing, who stood next to Galadriel. “For if you are Beren’s granddaughter we are kin by marriage and by blood.”
“It was you who sang the song,” said Galadriel. “You are no Elf.”
He smiled. “No, lady. I am Tuor son of Huor of the House of Hador.”
“Anyone of such noble ancestry is welcome among us,” said Celeborn.
“Though,” said Galadriel, “the ruin of the Two Kindreds is now complete, and we can but suffer together.”
“Not so,” Idril protested. “For upon the field of the Nirnaeth Arnoediaed Hurin Thalion told my father that a new star would arise from their houses. Tuor is my husband, and we have a son, Eärendil.”
She indicated the boy at her side, dark-haired like his father. Elwing smiled at him— she was then little more than twice his age—and he smiled back. He was exceedingly fair of face, with the light of the Eldar in his eyes.
“Hail, Eärendil,” said Galadriel. “What think you of Sirion?”
“It is a long road,” said the boy. “I miss Gondolin. But I am glad to hear the Sea. I have bethought it long.”
“We dwelt some time in Nan-Tathren. It is as fair a land even as my friend Voronwë’s description, when we met at Nevrast,” said Tuor, indicating a tall Elf beside him. “But the sea-longing is in my heart, and there is more safety at the edge of the Sea, for the Lord of Waters told me his power is rolling back from the land. Yet here we may yet be under his hand.”
“I raised the river to save us from the sons of Fëanor, in Doriath,” said Galadriel. “Yet almost it did not heed my call, and I was drained. Morgoth’s dominion is near absolute.”
“But you and all your folk are welcome here, now and always,” Celeborn proclaimed.
“When we have heard your tale, a messenger must be sent to Círdan and Ereinion on Balar,” said Elwing. “Gil-galad is High King of the Noldor now.”
“Diminished as we are,” Idril agreed. She sighed. “Alas for Gondolin that I loved! Very fair it was, Galadriel, fair as far off Tirion in our long home beside the pearl-strewn strands.”
“Tirion is lost to us,” said Galadriel, “by our own choice and folly. Between the hatred of Morgoth and the disregard of the Valar there is no mercy. Only our valour opposed the Enemy, and it is spent. Here we may remain, and you are welcome as kin in kind and suffering, but the Sea is trackless and shoreless, and the Shadowy Seas and Enchanted Isles, it is said, lie between us and the Blessed Realm.”
Voronwë nodded. “It is true,” he said sadly. “I sailed the Sea for seven years, yet came never within sight of Elvenhome.”
So the remnants of Gondolin joined those of Doriath, and the Havens became very fair, due perhaps to the power of the Silmaril. Elwing would don it on festival days, and being in the bloom of youth she was a vision of loveliness. As Eärendil grew older he loved her more and more, and Elwing came to love him as well.
So it came to pass that on a night of spring Eärendil and Elwing were wed with the blessings of Tuor and Idril and of Galadriel and Celeborn, who were as mother and father to Dior’s daughter, and all hearts at Sirion were glad.
Yet Tuor as he reached his old age yearned increasingly for the Sea, and he built at last a ship named Eärramé, Sea-wing. In this vessel he sailed at last with Idril Celebrindal, into the West upon west perhaps, and Eärendil came to the shore only in time to see their sails disappear on the horizon. Thereafter he had little peace, and with the aid of Círdan he built his ship Vingilot, for of Voronwë he had learned the craft of sailing while still a boy.
Eärendil and Elwing now ruled the havens with Celeborn and Galadriel, and their happiness was complete when Elwing gave birth to twin sons, Elrond and Elros. Yet Eärendil’s heart grew ever more restless, for he wished to search for Tuor and Idril, who had left Hadhafang behind. When Elrond and Elros were four he put to sea in Vingilot, taking three companions with him. Voronwë declined a place, saying one uncertain journey had been enough. Hadhafang though his by right Eärendil left in Elwing’s keeping, for there were none in the West, he said, with whom he would need do battle. When they had bid farewell and Vingilot’s white sails dwindled in the West to a gleam soon lost, Galadriel said to Celeborn, “We shall not meet Eärendil the Bright again,” and so it afterwards befell.
Some years since word had reached the sons of Fëanor in the East that Elwing yet lived at Sirion, and with her the Silmaril. But Maedhros, recalling Eluréd and Elurín, did nothing for a while. Yet in the end his oath tormented him, and he sent to Elwing demanding the gem.
“Yield,” Celeborn urged his foster-daughter. “Let this hatred be put to rest, and we will sleep in peace until Morgoth comes.”
“What say thou, my foster-mother?” said Elwing, turning to Galadriel.
“I hated and feared Fëanor, and rightly so,” she replied. “I have no love for his sons, and I fear what their reckless oath will drive them to do. But they have even less right to the jewel now than they did when it was demanded of Dior.”
Elwing’s mouth set. “I will follow my father’s example,” she said, “for the sake of Beren and Lúthien and their travail, for my parents and my brothers. And I do not think it fitting to yield the source of our contentment while Eärendil is gone.” Donning the necklace she sent the messenger away empty-handed.
The sons of Fëanor were roused to wrath hearing this, and they fell upon Sirion with all swiftness. Galadriel and Celeborn were caught unawares but not unarmed, and sent a plea for help to Círdan and Gil-galad just before battle was joined. But there was no time to organize a defense, and in the confusion some Elves of Sirion fought for Fëanor’s sons, and some of their folk for Elwing. Fighting their way to the ships, and escape, Lord and Lady slew Amrod and Amras before Elwing’s house, though sons, lady and Silmaril were gone. Galadriel and Celeborn wielding Hadhafang had gained a ship, and gathered many of their folk onto it, ere they learned what had befallen them.
Galadriel, a great archer, acted as guard while Celeborn and a few others raised the sails. She had just shot an archer on the quay when a tall Elf, fire in his eyes and his sword in his left hand, clattered up. Another Elf of similar feature rode just behind him, and Galadriel’s heart skipped a beat when she saw that he bore Elros before him in the saddle, as his brother did Elrond.
Maedhros looked to their ship and lifted his sword in ironic salute. “We meet again, Lady,” he called, “and again well-met!”
“Your hand is bloodier than before, Maedhros,” Galadriel returned.
“Galadriel!” Elrond cried.
Galadriel ducked a stray arrow and smiled at him. “Maedhros and Maglor are our kin, Elrond, Elros,” she called to them. “Do not fear!”
Maedhros wheeled. “The next who shoots,” he shouted, “I will send to Mandos myself!”
Many Elves formerly of Doriath had learned to swim, and were swimming to the ship; Galadriel leaned down and helped Nellas over the side.
“I may let you escape, lady,” Maedhros called, “out of the mercy of my heart, but I must know one thing ere that mercy is decided.”
Suffering was graven on his face, reminding Galadriel of no one so much as Beren. The sons of Fëanor were fell, not fair, yet even in their ruin she could see glimmers of what might have been. She thought of their mother Nerdanel, who had separated from Fëanor ere his revolt of the Blessed Realm, and wondered what she thought of her sons’ fate, had she known it.
“Speak,” she called, “but I do not promise to answer.”
“Where is Elwing, and our father’s jewel?” Maedhros shouted, fair voice voicing harsh words. “Have you stolen them, in your own pride and ambition?”
“I have no claim to the jewel, and I have never made one!” Galadriel cried. “Even if I did I would yield it now, bloodied as it is. As for Elwing, I was sure you had slain her.”
“We are not brutes,” said Maedhros. The torchlight glittered in his eyes, and Galadriel remembered the light burning in them, all-consuming and unholy, that night in the square of Tirion when he and his brothers leapt up beside their father and repeated for themselves his unconquerable oath. But she remembered as well the tones of her own voice, urging her people to leave the confines of the Blessed Realm for the width of Middle-earth.
Galadriel was about to reply when brightness, a great light, flared further south down the shore, away from her ship and Fëanor’s sons. It was as if the moon had risen and the sun had dawned in the same place, but Sun and Moon together paled beside that blinding radiance.
Elwing, the Silmaril on her breast, ran down the last, empty jetty, whence the messenger to Círdan had departed. Her feet faltered when she saw Elrond and Elros, yet her head lifted when she saw Galadriel and Celeborn, both of whom had dashed to the bow of their ship.
She ignored Maedhros and Maglor. “My mother and father,” she called to Celeborn and Galadriel, “here beside the Sea we part forever in Ennorath. Whether we shall meet again in Aman I know not. Namarië!”
Galadriel could not speak. Celeborn took her hand and raised his other to Elwing, saying, “Daughter, wherever thou go our heart goes with thee.”
“Yield the jewel, Lady Elwing!” Maedhros shouted angrily. “We have your sons. Yield the Silmaril and we will show them mercy!”
But Elwing laughed. “The House of Fëanor is sunk low indeed,” she said, “to robbery, and kidnapping. Would there were no blood between thee and me! But Maedhros, I know thy methods. How shall I expect my sons to be spared, when I remember the mercy you showed my brothers?”
There was silence on the quay. In the wake of her words all seemed frozen save Elwing. “Elrond, Elros,” she called, “you have my love. Farewell!” And so saying she cast herself into the Sea, into the bosom of a great wave that rolled up to swallow her and whelmed the jetty. On their ship, Galadriel and Celeborn stumbled.
Voronwë’s voice broke Galadriel’s paralysis. “Lady,” he called, “whither sail?”
“South and west, to Balar,” Galadriel replied, feeling the wetness of her own tears on her cheeks even as she helped an Elf of Gondolin into the ship. Celeborn tossed another a line, weeping silently.
A wind from the East caught and filled the sails, bearing them away. Their last sight of Sirion was of the sons of Fëanor cursing, while the sons of Eärendil wept bitterly.
Not halfway to Balar they met the ships of Círdan and Gil-galad, come as fast as possible but too late. Sorrowing they returned with them to the Havens and rescued those survivors who had not joined the sons of Fëanor. These told that when they rode away Elrond and Elros yet lived. Leaving the Havens they sailed to Balar, where Círdan and Ereinion greeted them courteously.
“Lady Galadriel,” said the son of Fingon. “Lord Celeborn. Be welcome at Balar for as long as it lasts.”
Galadriel bowed deeply, and Celeborn bowed his head, for he was of the Sindar. “With the same words did we welcome Tuor and Idril and the survivors of Gondolin,” he said. “May Balar meet a different end than Sirion.”
“The power of Ulmo is in the Sea, and he has long loved the Elves,” said Círdan beside Gil-galad. To him both Celeborn and Galadriel bowed low, for since the Awakening and the Journey the Shipwright had dwelt beside the Sea, mighty in wisdom.
“Yet Ossë rules the coasts, and from Tuor I have heard that he has little love for the Eldar, being a servant of the Doom,” said Galadriel straightening.
“You speak the truth,” Círdan said gravely. His garb was blue as a ten-fathom sea, his beard—the first Galadriel had seen on an Elf—long and white, though his hair was dark. “Yet what of the Silmaril, and Lady Elwing, and Bright Eärendil?”
“Eärendil has been gone these three years, sailing West,” said Celeborn. “Elwing cast herself into the Sea wearing the Silmaril. Her sons are in the keeping of the sons of Fëanor.”
“Only Maedhros and Maglor remain,” Galadriel said. “Amrod and Amras we slew ourselves, and many of their folk died also.”
Gil-galad shook his head. To Galadriel’s eye he was the image of his grandfather Fingolfin, beloved by all the Noldor for his valour and his pride. “Only to grief have the Noldor come on this side of the Sea,” he said, “and I fear we will soon come to naught. For we have no strength left to withstand Bauglir, let alone assail him.”
“We came from Tirion in wrath, and sailed from Alqualondë in ruin, and crossed the Helacaraxë in grief,” said Galadriel. “Great was our folly to expect any good from such a beginning.”
“No less than the folly of thinking the Eldar could overcome one of the Valar, and the greatest of the Aratari at that,” said Celeborn bitterly.
Círdan sighed. “Alas for the Two Kindreds!” he said sadly. “For Morgoth’s dominion is complete, as is the indifference of the Valar. Soon enough he will send messengers demanding we submit or be destroyed, I deem.”
“Soon enough,” said Gil-galad, “but not yet.”
* * * * * * *
Yet when the new star first rose in the West they knew it for the light of the Silmaril, and rejoiced knowing that Elwing had been saved and Eärendil lived, having come even to Valinor. They sang many songs of the Blessed Realm that night, and many nights after, for the return of hope after their despair was like drinking deep of the wine of Valinor: fiery and sweet.
When the hosts of the Valar and the Vanyar came out of the West the people of Balar answered Eonwë’s call, and the isle was emptied. In those wars Galadriel and Celeborn fought alongside Finarfin her father, and as kinsman of Thingol Celeborn was acclaimed captain of all the Sindar who answered Eonwë, and many came for Celeborn’s sake. They were soon reunited with Elrond and Elros, who though being but youths led all the wandering folk of Maedhros and Maglor to the battle, though the brothers themselves came not. Yet Elrond told that he and his brother had grown to love Maedhros as a father, and he them as sons. Celeborn then surrendered Hadhafang to Elrond, and in those wars he wielded it well.
In the last battle before Thangorodrim almost did the Noldor and the Vanyar despair, for hell was emptied and Balrogs poured forth, and with them came the winged dragons, led by Ancalagon the Black. Yet beyond thought and hope Eärendil came, leading the birds of the air, and shining with white flame he slew Ancalagon ere the rising of the sun, and falling the winged worm crushed the towers of Angband into ruin. Upon the field Elrond looked up at Vingilot and cried in a mighty voice, “Father!”
Faint but clear he heard the longing reply, “Elrond! Elros!” And Eärendil and Elros met no more within or without Arda, for Elros chose to be accounted among Men, and his spirit passed beyond the confines of the world.
Upon the new shores of the Sea there was a great building of ships in those days, for the Vanyar and the Teleri and the Noldor of Valinor led by Finarfin the High King would return to their homes, and with them went many Eldar and Sindar, for the Blessed Realm was thrown open to all Elves who desired sanctuary and rest from Middle-earth, the lands of weeping and of war. Among those who would go were Voronwë and Nellas, for great love had grown between them and they were eager to dwell by the Sea amongst trees that do not die.
But though many departed many were unwilling to go, chief among them Círdan, Gil-galad, and Celeborn and Galadriel, who remembered now the ambitions that first had urged her forth from the Blessed Realm. Too she was minded not to return to Valinor humbled before the Powers of Arda (who, her father said, were especially wroth with her), but on her own terms, having done a deed worth songs.
There was one day a great stir in the camp, for Maedhros and Maglor had come, demanding of Eonwë the gems that were theirs, the Silmarils. But Eonwë would not yield, bidding the brothers return to Valinor to be judged by the Valar, for their oath had done much evil.
But it became apparent that this they would not bide, for disguised they crept back into the camp and slew the guards, seizing the gems. They were soon discovered, and all took arms against them, until at last they stood at bay in a circle of swords, Finarfin, Celeborn and Galadriel at the front with Morafang drawn. “We meet again, Maedhros,” she said quietly.
He smiled. “For the last time, I deem, Lady.”
“Hold!” a new voice cried. “Do not harm them!”
Elrond pushed through the crowd, followed by Elros, though Hadhafang remained in its sheath.
Maedhros smiled at him sadly. “And with your grandmother’s sword will you spill my blood, Elrond?” he asked.
“No,” Elrond said in a low voice. “I will not.” Galadriel and Celeborn stared. “Kinsmen,” Elrond cried, “for the sake of the love these two showed my brother and I, I beg you, stay your hands!”
“The sons of Fëanor have done you the most wrong, Elrond,” said Finarfin.
Elrond looked into Maedhros’ eyes. “For my part I have forgiven it long since,” he said.
“Hold!” another voice shouted—Eonwë. The crowd gave way before him. “This is a poor end to your oath, Maedhros,” said Manwë’s herald.
Maedhros smiled thinly, shifting the case holding the Silmarils in the crook of his right arm. “All the roads of my House have been ill since we came to the square in Tirion,” he said, “and mayhap even before that. You may not pardon me, Eonwë; I beg you do not judge me.”
“That is so,” said Eonwë unwillingly, “but I will not permit your blood to be spilled. Hear all ye Elves!” he cried, raising his voice. “The sons of Fëanor are to go free, and face the fate that awaits them.”
At his words Galadriel sheathed her sword, and slowly everyone else did likewise, including Maedhros and Maglor. The one-handed Elf licked his lips, and permitted his brother to take the case from him. “Elrond,” he said softly; “Elros. If I have known aught of happiness in my days, or earned any paltry redemption for my evil deeds, it is only through the love you have given me. I did not deserve it.”
Elrond smiled sadly, and reached out to clasp Maedhros’ hand. “Namarië, Father,” he said, and so the sons of Fëanor departed.
II. The Second Age
So the Second Age began bittersweetly, as are all things in Middle-earth. Galadriel and Celeborn dwelt for a time with Gil-galad, who was acclaimed High King of the Noldor in Middle-Earth, in his new Elf-realm at Lindon: the Noldor built it strong and fair, for no shadows remained in Ennorath, they thought, to sully it. With them dwelt Elrond, growing ever greater in lore and wisdom, and Elros though he was mortal, and Celebrimbor Celegorm’s son, who had long ago broken with his father. Ere Turin came to Nargothrond foreboding had grown on him, and when Beleg’s black sword was forged anew he took his leave of Orodreth, and departing with a small company he came to Círdan and Ereinion at Balar, and so escaped that realm’s absolute wrack. He loved Galadriel, and though she knew this, they did not speak of it.
Yet soon Eonwë returned, bearing tidings that as reward for their fealty the Valar would make a new land for the three houses of the Edain, nigh unto the Undying Lands. Elros was offered the kingship of this new land, and he accepted. Hearing this Elrond as a memorial of his lineage gave his brother the ring of Barahir, which had come to Dior with the Silmaril and which he had given to Elwing; she had given it to Elrond just before Sirion’s destruction.
Yet some there were among the Edain, in particular of the golden-haired House of Hador, who were unwilling to depart Middle-earth. “This is our home,” their leader said to Eonwë; “we will not leave it.” And taking their goods and horses they departed into the north and east, and were lost to knowledge for many a year.
But at last Eonwë’s instruction of the Edain was complete, and their fleets built, and they prepared to leave Middle-earth, forever as they thought. Galadriel and Celeborn rode with Elrond to see Elros depart. The fleets of the Edain seemed great white birds in the early evening, and glimmering low in the west was Eärendil, leading the Edain to their new home; from this it was called Elenna, land of the star.
Galadriel and Celeborn kissed Elros on both cheeks and bade him farewell. “Remember,” said Galadriel, “that the hearts of men were ever fertile ground for Morgoth’s lies. He is gone, but his seeds remain.”
He smiled. “I will remember, aunt-cousin,” he said. “Namarië.”
Elros and his brother embraced. “Namarië,” said Elrond, for there was nothing more to say. A parting beyond the end of the world was come upon them.
“Namarië, brother. I will remember thee in the Second Music.”
“And I thee to our kin,” said Elrond, “when I come at last to Valinor.”
So Elros went aboard ship, and the wind filled the sails, and the hosts of the Edain began their voyage over the great waters. All too soon they were lost to the sight of those who remained on the Hither Shore. The Elf-lords rode back to Lindon, heavy-hearted, but none with heavier heart than Elrond.
Galadriel and Celeborn soon grew restless in Gil-galad’s city, remembering their freedom in the forests of Doriath. They took their leave of the High King and with his blessing led out a company of like-minded Elves. After some wandering they settled on the shores of Lake Evendim. They were joined there by companies of wandering Sindar and Green-elves and were soon acclaimed the Lord and Lady of the Eldar. It was well-known that Galadriel was the fairest of Elves, and that she was also the mightiest, for she remembered the Day before days in Valinor and had learned her wisdom of the Valar in their own realm, and of Melian in Ennorath. The only prince of the Moriquendi greater than Celeborn was Thingol, who was gone.
While they abode there a daughter was born to them, Celebrían, their only child. She was exceedingly fair, though dark of hair like her father. Though spirited her disposition was not harsh, but gentle, recalling Eärwen her grandmother.
Yet as the years lengthened a chill grew in Galadriel’s heart, nameless and formless, and she perceived that some particular evil must be orchestrating the growth of all the lesser, which was troubling her. Thereafter she had no peace in Nenuial, and at length she and Celeborn returned to Lindon. Many of their folk went with them; others formed wandering companies.
In Lindon Gil-galad welcomed them with honor and relief, for there was much to discuss. The High King too had begun to perceive the shadow, and the Númenóreans had recently returned to Middle-earth. This disquieted Gil-galad even as he welcomed them, for the Valar had created Elenna as a haven from Ennorath’s woes.
Yet in Lindon Galadriel and Celeborn, and especially the Elves who had followed them, again began to feel confined. Celebrimbor too had felt the walls of Lindon closing in on him, and at length he spoke of this to Galadriel, and of his hopes for founding a new realm, and surpassing even the fame of Fëanor among smiths. Hearing this Galadriel smiled, for he seemed greatly like her dear brother Finrod, telling her of his plans for the caves beside Narog. Being a Noldo she had great hope of delight in what Celebrimbor might bring into being. (His desire to surpass Fëanor she greatly approved.)
With this idea in mind they bethought of where this new realm might be founded, and Galadriel remembered the country of Eregion, famous among the Nandor for its holly trees. At the dawn of the Second Age the Dwarves of Belegost had removed thither to their mansions of Khazad-dûm beneath the Misty Mountains, and it was said their realm had grown great in splendor. Celebrimbor, who had traffic with Dwarves even in Lindon, had heard that the greatest of treasures, mithril, had been discovered in Khazad-dûm, and he could not conceal his eagerness to work it. It was not in Valinor. And though Galadriel did not speak of this to Celebrimbor, but to Celeborn and Gil-galad, and Elrond and Círdan, she felt that the shadow lay somewhere nearer Eregion, in Eriador or the Misty Mountains, and that from Eregion the fight could be taken to the enemy.
For these reasons, having consulted Celeborn, who longed for open forests, they bespoke Gil-galad. But Círdan, whose foresight was as great or greater than Galadriel’s, neither approved nor disapproved, but said only, “In Eregion more may be wrought more than mithril.”
With Gil-galad’s blessing they led a great company of Noldor out of Lindon and thence to Eregion. There they were joined by Celebrían, who had remained at Nenuial with some of their folk, who now came under their banner again.
The Dwarves were not so hostile to the Elves, for they soon perceived the true delight the Noldor had in all craft, nigh as great as their own. Indeed the friendship that grew between the two realms was the greatest Elf-kingdom and Dwarf-realm had ever known, and both were equally enriched by it. With the aid of the Dwarves the chief city of Eregion, Ost-in-Edhil, grew fair, fair almost as Menegroth, which had also been built with the help of Dwarves. But the heart of Celeborn had been turned against Dwarves forever with the sack of Doriath, and he was ever cold to them.
Celebrimbor was Lord of Eregion, but Galadriel and Celeborn were so close in his counsels that they ruled together. Yet as the glory of Eregion waxed so did the shadows grow in the hearts of Galadriel and Celeborn, and of Gil-galad and Elrond; yet Celebrimbor, if he perceived, refused to speak of it.
But despite their foreboding Eregion prospered, and Lindon, and the Númenóreans who built around this time great havens far to the south of Middle-earth, in Harad.
Yet even in the noontide of Eregion Celebrimbor’s heart was not at peace, for in his eyes he had not surpassed Fëanor in deed or fame, and would not while the scope of his craft remained the same. Therefore the arrival in Eregion of one calling himself Artano or Aulendil, "servant of Aulë," was a great boon to him. Artano and his servants had been shut out of Lindon entirely by Gil-galad, and it was the counsel of Celeborn and Galadriel that he should be treated likewise in Eregion, but—eager to learn what Artano could teach—Celebrimbor paid them no heed, and the Gwaith-i-Mírdain, the fellowship of smiths held in the realm’s highest esteem, followed their chief’s lead.
Artano’s envoys came also to Lórinand, the Telerin realm nigh to the East-gate of Khazad-dûm, but by the counsel of Galadriel, Amdír its king rejected Artano utterly.
Artano was ever courteous to Galadriel, though she treated him with a frostiness previously reserved for Fëanor alone. As the years wore on she said louder and louder that ‘Aulendil’ had not been in Aulë’s train in Valinor; the Nandor and Sindar heeded her, and grew gradually more disaffected with the Noldor, who heeded not Galadriel but rather their own learning, which (being incomplete) led them to doubt her.
Eventually there came a day when Galadriel, seeking to enter, was shut out of the great house of the Mírdain; though she was not a member they had formerly permitted her entrance with goodwill. So she perceived that her continuing presence in Eregion was bootless, for none were disposed to heed her.
Taking counsel together she and Celeborn decided that she would pass through Khazad-dûm to Lórinand, thence to oppose both the shadow and Artano, for Amdír had extended his welcome to her. But Celeborn would not set foot in the Dwarf-realm, and they deemed that someone should remain, for Eregion their creation might yet be shepherded. Therefore Galadriel and Celebrían with most of the Nandor and Sindar departed through Khazad-dûm to Lórinand, where they were welcomed warmly.
After a few years word came from Celeborn that the Mírdain had begun a fearful endeavor: under Artano’s tutelage they were forging rings. These rings they called Rings of Power, for by Artano’s art they sought to imbue them with dominion over Elves, Dwarves, and Men: all the races of Arda. This news both disquieted and excited Galadriel, for it seemed to her a dangerous thing, but she was ambitious, and above all, these rings were tangible power.
At length the news was that Artano had departed Eregion none knew whither, and Galadriel sought in vain to discover where he now abode. Celebrimbor sent word that he had begun his most famous work, which he called the Three Rings of the Elves; with Artano’s aid he had already forged the Seven and the Nine. The Seven were meant for Dwarves, and the Nine for Men.
But unknown to any Sauron had cast off his fair guise of Artano and returned to his stronghold of Mordor, where he was at work in the depths of Orodruin the Mountain of Fire, forging as he had planned a master ring, by which he could control all who held any Ring of Power.
And so it befell. For in the same year that the Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower, was at last completed so was the forging of the One Ring, and into it Sauron put forth the greater portion of his power, deeming that only thus could he overcome the Elves, whom he particularly desired to subdue, remembering Felagund’s near-victory in their contest, and Lúthien’s easy triumph over him.
But Celebrimbor was great among the Eldar. Moreover the rings had bound him to Sauron, and when the Enemy donned his Ring Celebrimbor perceived who he was, and what he had done, and what he intended to do: the Elves had been betrayed. Then in fear and anger he removed his rings, and all the smiths of the Mírdain did likewise. Sauron knew this, and his wrath was aroused against the Eldar.
But Celebrimbor in fear and doubt told all to Celeborn, who counseled him to speak with Galadriel, for she was a Noldo, with an understanding and love of craft. It was Celeborn’s thought that the rings should be destroyed immediately, but this Celebrimbor would not do, for he loved the things that he had made.
Celebrimbor went immediately through Khazad-dûm to Lórinand, where Galadriel welcomed him. Having learned all she was aghast, and she and Celebrimbor considered Celeborn’s counsel in deep despair. But they failed to find the strength to destroy the rings, and thus wrought the fate of many in Middle-earth.
It was Galadriel’s thought that each of the Three should be bestowed in the keeping of a guardian, never to be worn or used while Sauron lasted. Celebrimbor agreed, and at his behest Galadriel accepted Nenya, the Ring of Water, wrought of mithril and adamant. Because she believed the Three must be dispersed, Galadriel remained in Lórinand, though her inclination was to bear the Red and Blue Rings to Gil-galad herself.
When Celebrimbor returned to Eregion he sought out Celeborn. Hearing Celebrimbor’s tale of what had befallen in Lórinand Celeborn was exceedingly wroth, for this course seemed to him filled with folly and anger. He was the angrier because of Celebrimbor’s love for Galadriel, which Celeborn thought should have kept him from imperiling her. In anger he cursed Celebrimbor and all the house of Fëanor, saying that all their works would fail and be dispossessed even as their House had been, but Celebrimbor only laughed.
“There is no curse you can lay upon me,” he said, “more terrible than the doom I face. For behold! My wisdom is not so great as thine, Celeborn, but foresight is upon me. I say to you that what of mine is not stolen will be destroyed, and what is not destroyed will fade away even as the sunset in the West, leaving only a memory and a sadness.” Celeborn could only stare at his fey face, imagining that so Fëanor had looked in the square in Tirion. Celebrimbor’s messenger to Gil-galad left within the hour, carrying with him Narya and Vilya.
In Lindon Gil-galad and Elrond took counsel together as soon as the messenger arrived. They both loved Middle-earth dearly, and these tidings were grievous to them, for they perceived that within the Rings worked the Doom of Mandos concerning the Noldor, which had not been laid to rest with the Curse. It was Elrond’s judgment that the only way to deliver the Elves from their power was Sauron’s destruction, and maybe not even then. For this reason he refused the Ring of Air that Gil-galad offered him, saying he would take it only when he must, and moreover that it was Gil-galad’s by right as High King. But following Galadriel’s counsel Gil-galad gave Narya to Círdan at the Grey Havens. With the ring Gil-galad sent a message to the Númenóreans, now ruled by Tar-Telperien, asking them to prepare to lend the Elves aid, for he had begun to fear (perceiving perhaps some of Sauron’s designs through the latent power of Vilya) that Sauron would attack Eregion and Lindon.
So it proved. In the year 1695 of the Second Age Sauron gathered a great force and drove through Calenardhon, invading Eriador. When the first news of this came Gil-galad called on the Númenóreans, and Tar-Telperien, advised by her admiral and heir Minastir (sometimes called Tar for his influence with his aunt), sent out a great navy. It was delayed, however.
In the same hour that the envoy left for Númenor Gil-galad began gathering a host, and under Elrond’s command it departed with all the speed of Elves, but their journey was very far, while Sauron drove his armies with all the cruelty of his hate.
Sauron had immediately turned north, towards Eregion, and learning this Celebrimbor knew the Enemy intended to destroy the realm utterly. There was little enough time to arm, let alone plan, but to plan Celebrimbor refused; neither he nor the Mírdain would consider leaving the city or their works, and refused to join the sortie Celeborn suggested. Looking at Celebrimbor Celeborn’s heart softened, for to the Elf of Doriath Celebrimbor seemed not a little pitiable, and he beseeched Celebrimbor’s pardon for his harsh words at the bestowing of the Three. Smiling sadly Celebrimbor granted it, and so they parted in Middle-earth.
Indeed this was the attitude of many of the Noldor; ever great was the love of that people for the works of their hands. Nonetheless Celeborn managed to gather a sizable force, composed of Noldor and all the Nandor and Sindar that remained. They rode out under the Star of the House of Fëanor and the Trees of the High Elves, and though the size of Sauron’s host dismayed them they made a brave accounting, and Sauron’s armies were briefly driven back. Celeborn was able to join forces with the just-arrived Elrond, but Sauron outflanked them by sheer size and prevented them from returning to Eregion while besieging it.
Yet at last Eregeion was broken and Ost-in-Edhil stormed, and Celebrimbor himself fought with Sauron on the steps of the House of the Mírdain. But he was captured, and in torment he revealed where the Seven were hidden; the Nine had already been seized. But of the Three he would say nothing, and having been executed Sauron hung his body on a pole as his new standard. So ended the last of the House of Fëanor. With him perished many of his folk, and an end was come to them in Middle-earth.
All the escaped Elves of Eregion had joined Elrond and Celeborn; they (guessing correctly that Sauron would attack Lindon next) had remained in Eriador, waiting. Yet despite their valor they would have been overwhelmed were it not for Sauron being attacked in the rear by a host of Dwarves of Moria and Elves of Lórinand led by Amroth son of Amdír and Galadriel in disguise. She could not bear her idleness in Lórinand, yet knew that to appear within Sauron’s grasp was to risk her own—and Nenya’s—capture.
By their valor Elrond, Celeborn, and mayhap Lindon and the Eldar too were saved, for Sauron was forced to turn and deal with the threat to his rear. There was fighting along the Sirannon before the West-gate, but in the end the Doors of Moria were shut, and no power would avail Sauron against the craft of the Dwarves; they also were Aulendil. By this the Dwarves earned Sauron’s eternal hatred, and much grief was wrought on them because of it, though none greater than that caused by their own greed.
Although they were driven back, in turning upon them Sauron had abandoned his pursuit of Elrond, who extricated himself and fled northwards. Deeming it folly to attempt a return to Lindon he established Imladris the hidden valley, the Last Homely House east of the Sea and the last new Elf-realm in Middle-earth, as fortress and refuge. But he and Celeborn were straitly besieged and could not escape, though their numbers were swelled by those Elves who formerly had wandered Eriador and now found themselves hunted relentlessly by Sauron. Indeed some of those who came to Imladris Celeborn had bade farewell at Nenuial a millennium before.
Sauron was soon master of all Eriador save Imladris, and purposing to take Lindon he gathered his companies and turned west.
At Gil-galad’s first message of foreboding the Númenóreans had begun building up ships, and men, and supplies for war at their havens in the north. These Gil-galad called on in defense of the Grey Havens, for he was amassing his forces along the River Lhûn which Sauron was fast approaching. The battle was strait, and victory seemed within Sauron’s grasp when the navy of Tar-Telperien sent by Minastir under Ciryatur sailed up the Gulf and into battle.
Sauron was driven away south and east, and there was a great slaughter of his Orcs at Sarn Ford, the crossing of the Baranduin. Thence the Enemy fled to the crossings of Tharbad, where a reinforcing army awaited him—but this was assailed and routed by the second Númenórean army Ciryatur had sent to Lond Daer at the mouth of the Gwathlo. Escaping very narrowly Sauron was attacked again in eastern Calenardhon, and at the last only he and his bodyguard reached what would be known as Dagorlad and thence to Mordor. Had he been vigorously pursued things might have been different, but Gil-galad and his Elves were destroying the siege of Imladris, and the Númenóreans did not quite grasp the Enemy’s capacity for ill.
Eriador was free of evil but lay in ruins; no victory in Ennorath was ever wholly sweet. At that time the first White Council was held in Lindon, and Gil-galad, Círdan, Elrond, Celeborn, Glorfindel, and Galadriel, who had journeyed from Lórinand with Celebrían, were part of it. It was agreed that Eregion should not be rebuilt, but rather Imladris strengthened and made fair, as the Elven stronghold in Eriador. Of the Three little was said, but much of Sauron and whether to attack him in his own land. But this the Elves had not the strength to do, and as the Enemy was reported to have turned his attentions eastward, it was decided to let him be, although the Three could never be used, for their intended or for any purpose, while he wore the Ruling Ring.
It was at this Council that Elrond first beheld Celebrían, and he began to love her without knowing it. Yet he spoke of this to no one.
Also at the Council Gil-galad made Galadriel a gift, the seeds of malinorni, the trees of Erresëa that are gold and silver through the year. The seeds had been a gift of Tar-Aldarion, but had not grown well in Lindon. Great was Galadriel’s delight in this present, for of all trees she loved the mallorn most, and had not seen it since her depature from the Blessed Realm. But as she and Celeborn purposed to remain in Lindon with Gil-galad (for the Silvan Elves of Lórinand, and of Oropher in the Greenwood, now had little love for the Noldor), she hoarded them until they might be used best.
So she and Celeborn remained in Lindon as the age wore on and the Shadow fell on Númenór even as it grew in the South of Middle-earth. Soon the Númenóreans, grown jealous of the Elves and the Eldar, sailed no more up the Gulf to the Grey Havens.
The Elves heard that Sauron had been taken as prisoner to Númenór itself, and they were aghast, for by this they knew that the folly of the King and the pride of Sauron were grown great indeed. This saddened Elrond, Galadriel and Celeborn in particular, for the line of the Kings of Númenór was the line of Elros whom they had loved, and his heirs had fallen into hubris and folly. Almost Gil-galad sent messengers to Númenór counseling that Sauron be killed or cast out, but Galadriel and Elrond counseled against it, and Celeborn, for they knew more of Men, and of Men’s pride, and Sauron was still of the Blessed Realm.
It was not long after that even by the reckoning of Men that the folly of Ar-Pharazôn the Great, the Golden, the Usurper, waxed complete and he built his great fleets to sail against the Undying Lands. This he did, the first and last of mortal Men to walk upon the strands of Aman, and the shape of the world was changed by Eru Ilúvatar, and Númenór met its downfall. Sauron the Deceiver sat on the high seat in the King’s house and laughed to think of Ar-Pharazôn’s fate, for he underestimated the Valar, and their lord.
He was still laughing when Elenna fell into the sea and waves whelmed it utterly. They whelmed too Tar-Míriel the rightful Queen even as she sought the Meneltarma, and perhaps deliverance or forgiveness.
Even in Ennorath the Elves felt this great upheaval, and Elrond said, “It is done,” and Galadriel spoke, “The doom of the Elves is complete even as Mandos foretold.” And the storm that loured over the Sea where Númenór had been was the greatest the world had known, and it reached even to Middle-earth.
But out of the wrack were borne on the wings of the storm all the Faithful, and Elendil the Tall was their leader, with his two sons Isildur and Anarion. Landing in Middle-earth they founded two kingdoms in exile, Gondor in the South ruled by Isildur and Anarion, and Arnor in the North ruled by Elendil as High King, nigh to Lindon. The Númenóreans built cities and fortresses, and scattered the palantiri among them, and planted in one the seed of Nimloth the White Tree that Isildur had stolen from the courts of the King.
A great friendship grew between Gil-galad and Elendil, and for his friend Gil-galad built the towers of Emyn Beraid that looked ever towards the Sea, for Elendil’s longing for the Sea and his drowned home was very great. There Elendil placed the chief of the palantiri, in which by his grace Gil-galad looked, and bent to his will, and so gazed over the waters even to Tirion in Eressëa, where abode the Masterstone, and abides still. Only then, though he had dwelt near the Sea all his life, did the High King feel the sea-longing of the Eldar in his heart. For Gil-galad the way to his long home was ever open, but for Elendil the way was lost, and the heart of the Elf-king was greatly saddened, for finally he understood Elendil’s yearning.
It soon became apparent that Sauron had not perished in the Downfall, as some had thought, though his fair form was lost forever, and he could no longer hide his evil behind a handsome mask. Scarcely a century after the arrival of the Númenóreans in Middle-earth Sauron attacked the realm of Gondor, taking Minas Ithil upon the marches of the Mountains of Shadow and burning the White Tree. But with a seed of Nimloth Isildur and his family escaped down Anduin and so to Elendil in the North, leaving Anarion to defend Gondor from Minas Anor. When Isildur and his tidings arrived in Arnor Elendil rode immediately to Gil-galad, and so it befell that a union was forged between the Men of Númenór and the Elves of Lindon, the Last Alliance between the two kindreds.
Galadriel remained behind as regent of Lindon and the Havens when the gathered hosts marched east to Imladris, for Círdan marched with Gil-galad and it was deemed that all the Three should not be brought so near to Sauron, though they were hopeful of victory. But Celeborn went to war as one of the captains of the host, and he bore Morafang from his wife’s hands. With him went Celebrían, for Elrond had sent word that he wished her to rule Imladris in his absence, if she would. She accepted, for she had grown to love Elrond Half-elven, though she too held her silence, after a fashion: “Do not fail to return, Lord Elrond,” she told him smiling, “for Imladris and I shall be at a loss in thy absence.”
Smiling Elrond bowed to her. “Lady,” he said, “I have no fears for Imladris in thy hands. But for thee to be disquieted is a thing not to be borne. I will come back to thee when I can.”
From Imladris a call went out to all the free peoples of Middle-earth, bidding them join the host. Many came. From Lórinand a company came led by Amdír and Amroth, from the Greenwood companies of Silvan Elves under their Sindarin King Oropher and his son Thranduil, both once of Doriath. Dwarves too came, from Moria and the Iron Hills, but though all creatures fought on the fields of that war, even the birds and beasts, only the Elves were undivided; they fought for Gil-galad alone.
When the muster of Middle-earth was complete the hosts marched forth from Imladris with Elrond at their head as Gil-galad’s herald, and he bore Hadhafang his grandmother’s sword. Hadhafang and Morafang were wielded again together on Dagorlad, the Battle Plain, where the Alliance had the mastery, for Aiglos and Narsil, the spear of Gil-galad and the sword of Elendil, none could withstand.
Victorious the hosts then passed into Mordor, and the Black Gate was thrown down, and Barad-dûr besieged. This lasted for nine years, and in the seventh Anarion son of Elendil was slain by an arrow. But eventually the siege was so strait that Sauron himself came forth and challenged Gil-galad and Elendil to single combat. Then the captains took counsel, and they agreed to answer, for this was a chance to destroy the Enemy. But Gil-galad then gave Vilya to Elrond, saying, “Let the Ring of Air pass to one who may use it better than I, for his wisdom is greater.” And also he considered that the greatest of the Three should not come within Sauron’s reach. Elrond could find no words, but embraced his king whom he loved, for they had grown close as brothers over the long years. In the last struggle Círdan and Elrond accompanied Gil-galad, and Isildur Elendil, leaving Celeborn and Glorfindel, with Meneldur and Elendur the eldest sons of Anarion and Isildur commanding the hosts, for they expected only treachery from the Enemy.
It befell that Elendil and Gil-galad had the mastery over Sauron, but Gil-galad perished and Aiglos was broken, and Elendil met his death and Narsil snapped beneath him when he fell. But Isildur seized the hilt-shard of Narsil and cut the One Ring from Sauron’s hand, and the Enemy passed away and Barad-dûr was shaken to its foundations. The hosts of darkness were destroyed utterly, and so the Second Age ended even as the First, in battle with the Enemy, but Sauron did not truly perish.
The Númenóreans exulted in their victory, despite the loss of Elendil and Anarion, but the Elves were greatly saddened. Nearly all the company of Lórinand had perished save Amroth and a few others; they returned to their realm sorrowing. Oropher had perished, and many of the Silvan Elves, but Thranduil took up his father’s crown and returned to Greenwood more friendly to the High Elves for having seen the evil and the terror of Mordor that they opposed.
But Gil-galad had perished, and many of the Elves, and the High Kingship was thrown into doubt. Having returned to Lindon Círdan determined that the crown should be offered to Elrond, for he was of the House of Fingolfin on his father’s side, and of the House of Elwë on his mother’s. But Elrond refused, on account of his mingled blood and his great love for Gil-galad, saying that if any in Middle-earth were royal enough to claim the title it was Galadriel, though such was not Noldorin law.
It was ambition that had led Galadriel forth from Valinor ages before, and then she would have accepted the office and the honor without thought, but her sojourn in Middle-earth had changed her. Though she still desired to rule a realm of her own her wisdom told her that the fading years of the Eldar were come, and their winter drawing nigh, and it seemed to her fitting that the last Elven heir of Fingolfin should be the last High King. And though Finarfin her father ruled the Noldor in Aman she did not think the youngest house had a claim to the crown in Middle-earth. Too the Elves were sadly diminished in number; when the forces of the West returned to Lindon it was seen that too few remained to maintain that realm.
All these thoughts she spoke, and so the Noldor left their High Kingship empty in memorial and tribute to Ereinion Gil-galad, last and greatest of all the line of Fingolfin save its founder.
As has been said, too few of the Eldar remained to people Lindon, and so they joined Círdan at the Havens, or removed with Galadriel and Celeborn to Imladris, or sailed over Sea.
III. The Third Age
For long years in the Third Age Galadriel and Celeborn dwelt in Imladris with Elrond, who wedded their daughter Celebrían; Galadriel’s bride-gift to her daughter was the Elessar, forged for her in Eregion by Celebrimbor as he had forged the first for Idril Celebrindal at Vinyamar. In time was born to them twin sons, Elladan and Elrohir, and a daughter, Arwen, called Undómiel, the Evenstar, for her beauty, which recalled that of her foremother Lúthien Tinuvíel. And these children were subject also to the doom of the Peredhil, that one day they must choose the kindred to which they would cleave, Elves or Men.
But as the years passed Gondor waxed and divided Arnor waned, and evil crept back into the north and west of Middle-earth. Soon after a shadow fell on Greenwood the Great, so that it was renamed Mirkwood, three ships came in succession out of the sunset in the West: the first bore two old men, one wearing white, the other brown; the second, two men sorely grizzled, robed in blue; and last came one who seemed least, clad all in grey. Him Círdan welcomed as he had not welcomed the Ithryn Luín, or they who took the names Curunír and Rhadogast. Then the Shipwright did a deed he told only to Elrond and Galadriel: he gave Narya, the Red Ring of Fire, to Mithrandir, that by it he might rekindle hearts in a world grown chill. The Grey Pilgrim was ever a friend of all peoples, but the Eldar especially, though he had no home.
It was only a little after the arrival of the Istari that the wise learned of a new danger, for out of Lórinand to Galadriel came word from Amroth that some evil had built a stronghold at Dol Guldur in southern Mirkwood. Now Galadriel with Amroth’s consent put forth her power, as Elrond’s power lay over Imladris, that Lórinand might be in some wise guarded from this new menace. In token of this, she herself made a visit to the realm and there planted all the mallorn seeds Gil-galad had given her, and by the power of her voice the forests turned gold and silver, so that Elves began to call it Lórien or Lothlórien, after the gardens of twilight in Valinor. But by the power of Dol Guldur (whose lord was thought to be one of the Nazgûl) evil things began multiplying again; Orcs attacked the Dwarves of Moria, and the Nazgûl came openly to the North to found the evil realm of Angmar.
In time the power of the Witch-King grew so great that the realm of Arnor was destroyed, though the line of its kings did not perish. But when this befell Círdan summoned to him all who would fight from Arnor and Lindon, and united with the fleet of Eärnur newly arrived from Gondor to attack Angmar. The forces of Gondor and the Elves of Rivendell led by Glorfindel drove him from the North, but the evil had been done.
The Ring of Barahir was ransomed from the Ice-Men of Forochel, and the heirlooms of the North Kingdom were committed to the keeping of Elrond at Imladris, for he was kin to the line of Elendil from afar. Arvedui’s son Aranarth took the title Chieftain of the Dúnedain, and the men of Númenór took up a new role as the Rangers, the silent guardians of the North.
Just a few short years after the destruction of Arnor another realm of the free fold was whelmed, for a Balrog, a fire-demon of the Elder Days, appeared in Moria and slew its king, Durin VI. Soon Náin his son was also slain, and the Dwarves fled Moria their ancient home, for they could not withstand that hideous strength.
Rumor and destruction grew on the borders of Lórien, and Amroth its king determined to go south down the river Anduin to Belfalas, whence the Elves of Lórien set sail over Sea. Nimrodel his lover agreed to go with him, but as King he must lead his people, for many Elves had fled or planned to flee. So Amroth departed first, and Nimrodel with a company of her maidens after. Chief among them was her dear friend Mithrellas, who became the mother of the Princes of Dol Amroth. But the sorrows of the age pursued even these twain. Amroth and his Elves reached Belfalas and boarded the ship that awaited them, but Amroth would not sail without Nimrodel who came not. It was afterwards known that she and her company strayed from their road and were lost in the White Mountains. Some few of her companions, among them Mithrellas, eventually came out of the Ered Nimraís, but of Nimrodel no tidings were ever heard, and nothing remained of her but the echoes of her voice singing in the stream that bore her name.
In Belfalas there arose a night of storm, and Amroth’s ship was caught in the winds and borne far out to sea. But he was unwilling to leave Middle-earth without Nimrodel, and cursing the ship he leapt overboard into the storm. Folk aboard saw him strike out for land, swimming powerfully, but he never reached the shore.
When word of this disaster came to Imladris all the Elves (and Galadriel especially) were greatly grieved. To the heart of the Lady of the Eldar Lórien was very close, for its forests were her gift from Gil-galad, its peace the progeny of the ring she bore, for Celebrimbor had wrought the Three not to dominate but to preserve.
But many Elves still remained in Lórien, yet beset between the Balrog to the west and Dol Guldur to the north the easternmost outpost of the Elder Kindred could not long endure, even with Galadriel’s ward from afar. Knowing these things Galadriel and Celeborn took council with Elrond and Glorfindel, and with Mithrandir who was passing through. They agreed that Celeborn and Galadriel should go East, and take up the rule of Lórien if its people were willing. So the mightiest of the Eldar might counter the shadow that dwelt in Dol Guldur (though as yet it was thought to be merely one of the Ulaíri, the Ringwraiths).
There was great rejoicing in Lórien at Galadriel and Celeborn’s arrival, for by their power Lórien might evade the dooms that hedged it about. But Celeborn and Galadriel refused the titles offered them, keeping to Lady and Lord, for they were (they said) but the guardians of the realm. Nonetheless by the power of Galadriel wielding Nenya the beauty of Lothlórien grew, until it seemed that some corner of the Elder Days lived again West of the River and East of the Mountains and the Sea.
But misfortune continued to plague the free peoples of Middle-earth. Too soon the folly of Gondor was revealed, for the watch on Mordor had lapsed and the Nazgûl came out of it and besieged Minas Ithil, which they took and was renamed Minas Morgul. Upon the accession of Eärnur Minas Anor was renamed Minas Tirith, the Tower of Guard.
When the Witch-King abode again in Minas Morgul, he challenged the childless King of Gondor to single combat. Eärnur’s pride was great, and he accepted the Witch-king’s second challenge and none saw him again. So the last King of Gondor perished. Had the suit of Arvedui, Last-King at Fornost, for the winged crown been accepted, things might have been different, and many ills averted. Mardil became the first of the Ruling Stewards, and the line of Anárion failed, while the line of Isildur yet endured in stealth.
The power of Dol Guldur only increased, and Galadriel and all the Wise began to fear what they had dismissed, that its master was not a Ringwraith but Sauron himself. At length Mithrandir, having spoken to Elrond, and consulted with Galadriel and Celeborn, took the burden of the truth upon himself: departing Lórien he went alone to the stronghold of the Shadow, and pierced the shadows which veiled it. There he discovered that the fears of the Wise were all true; Sauron had arisen again. The One was lost, so the Enemy had no true form, and he fled before the Grey Pilgrim, to the East.
So began the Watchful Peace, a time of wariness, but also of growth. Though the Elves faded, and the might of Gondor waned, other peoples prospered. Durin’s folk gathered in the Grey Mountains, and made again fair things, though the vaults of Khazad-dûm were ever in their thoughts. In the Shire the hobbits grew many and happy, and lived the lives they wished. Gandalf in his wanderings soon learned of them, and came among them, learning all he could of their ways. They were wary of him at first, being one of the ‘Big Folk’ as they put it, but he soon won their trust (and indeed in the Long Winter they would have perished without his aid). Yet of the Wise he alone held them in his thoughts, along with many other things discounted.
But in Galadriel’s thought grew the idea of a Council of the Wise, containing all those who could best fight the Shadow that might yet return and plague the West: the Elf-lords and the Istari. Yet she held her tongue until the Watchful Peace ended with the return of a shadow to Dol Guldur, a dreadful power named the Necromancer. From this time the southern borders of Mirkwood, and the northern marches of Lothlórien, had peace less and less, and there was work for the archers of Lórien under Haldír their captain, and for the guards of Mirkwood, led by Legolas Thranduil’s son.
The White Council met for the first time but three years later, and its Elven members were Elrond and Círdan, Celeborn and Galadriel, Glorfindel and a few others. Of the Istari were Gandalf, Rhadogast, and Saruman, who was chosen to head the Council over Galadriel’s objections and designs; her choice had been Gandalf. But he indeed would have refused the office, for he would be bound to nothing.
The White Council met many times almost until the end of the Third Age, and it is certain that existing it averted much ill. But still the world darkened.
Indeed, soon after the final ruin of Osgiliath and the breaking of its bridge Celebrían was waylaid in the Redhorn Pass on a journey to Lórien to see her parents. She was taken by Orcs, and endured many days’ torment in their dens, until her rescue by Elves of Imladris led by her children. Having received a poisoned wound, she was taken to Lothlórien, but the power of her mother did not lie in healing. Not until Elrond himself came with Arwen did her body heal, but Celebrían’s joy in Middle-earth was spent. Bidding farewell to her children and her parents, and to Elrond, she departed over Sea the next year. But before she left she gave Arwen the Elessar as a memento, saying it should remain in Middle-earth where it was forged.
The years of Middle-earth lengthened, and the grass grew, and as time passed the sea-longing in Galadriel’s heart grew ever greater, quickened by her Ring of Water. But duty bound her to Middle-earth, duty to oppose the Enemy, as did love, for Celeborn was still loath to leave the trees of Ennorath. Therefore Galadriel said little of this to her husband, but nonetheless he understood the movement of her heart.
It was thought by some that, because Sauron had no part in their making, were the One destroyed the Three would be free of its dominion, and might be used in the fullness of Celebrimbor’s purpose, to heal the hurts of the world. But Elrond, and Galadriel, and many of the Wise thought that the end of the One would also be the end of the Elves in Middle-earth, for then the Three would fade and the dominion of Men begin. But though she had little hope for the One’s finding, let alone its destruction, Galadriel determined that should the hopes of the free peoples come to pass and Sauron be destroyed she would make the exile’s choice, and depart into the West, diminishing in the peace of Valinor rather than in the oblivion of Middle-earth. For all the Elves who remained on the hither shore must eventually fade beneath the sun, until naught remained of them but a trick of the light, a gleam out the side of the eye.
By the time of the Long Winter the Orcs had renewed their incursions into Eriador, and save in the country between Imladris and the Havens—the Rangers’ preserve—all the wandering Elves gave up their freedom and joined the last Elf-realms, or departed. But though Orcs multiplied in the mountains, they never set foot in Lórien proper, or near Rivendell, for the vigilance and valor of Haldír the captain of Lórien, and of the sons of Elrond, warded those places, for the strength of the rings were in those warriors. Even after the Battle of Nanduhirion, the last of the War of the Dwarves and Orcs, fought before the East-gate of Moria, no Orc who fled into the Golden Wood survived the arrows of Lothlórien’s archers.
After the end of that War, in which the Dwarves had the victory, the Folk of Durín were dispersed, and word came to Galadriel that the last direct descendants of Durín, Thráin II and Thorin his son, had wandering settled in the south of the Ered Luin nigh to the Grey Havens. At this her heart was troubled, for she guessed that at least one (and the mightiest) of the Seven was still held by Thráin, and might so endanger him. For even if the ring had, as the Dwarves told, been given to Durín’s line by Celebrimbor as a token of friendship (and not by Sauron as was the provenance of the rest), even then it fell under the dominion of the One, and though the One slept it might awaken. Also evil might be drawn to Thráin’s ring, for it had power. Sympathy and compassion Galadriel also felt for Thráin and his folk, dispossessed first of Moria and then of Erebor, laid waste by Smaug, but she did not send messages to Thráin, for few Elves of Lórien would go so far as the Havens, and none would go beyond them for the sake of Dwarves. But to Círdan Galadriel did convey her suspicions.
Her fears proved true. Ere many years had passed word came out of Lindon that Thráin had departed his halls, to return to Erebor it was said. This news indeed had been given to Gandalf by Thorin, but of Thráin nothing was heard for more than five years. But then Galadriel learned that Thráin was imprisoned in Dol Guldur. Ever had her will striven with the dark power that dwelt there, and she perceived much of its mind that day, and feared truly that it was Sauron returned. This she told to Círdan and Elrond, and messengers went out from the three Elf-realms seeking Mithrandír and bidding him to come as soon as he might. But nought was heard of him until his grey light was seen on the marches of Lórien, seen from afar before by Celeborn and Galadriel, nigh on four years later. Such was ever his way.
Speaking with the Lord and Lady of the Wood the wizard agreed that it must be learned who was Dol Guldur’s master, and the last of the Seven be taken beyond the Necromancer’s grasp if such were possible.
The Elves did not request Mithrandír do this, for such was not their way, but after a short silence he smiled at his hosts and said, “Well! If you will give these old bones but one night to rest, and some elvish waybread to live by, I will depart tomorrow.”
Celeborn smiled. “Whatever thee ask will be yours,” he said, “and with it the thanks of all free folk.”
Galadriel smiled also. “Stay as long as thou wish,” she said. “Thou are ever welcome here, Mithrandír.”
Gandalf bowed low. “Elvish hospitality,” he said, “is not freely given, but it is beyond price once received. I thank you.”
So Mithrandír remained some time in Lothlórien, that land upon which no shadow lay, fortifying even his doughty spirit against the terror and peril he must endure. At Galadriel’s urging he looked long into her Mirror, and for a long time he remained bent over its surface. Galadriel was accustomed to seeing as viewers saw in the Mirror, but what Gandalf perceived was hidden from her mind, save that he inhaled once, sharply, and upon his hand there flashed a red gleam, like the eye of a dragon awakening from slumber.
When he stepped back his mien was serious, but Galadriel did not press him. At last he looked at the Lady of the Wood. “I saw many things,” he said, “and I will not darken the daylight by speaking of them. But drowned Númenor I saw, in the noontide of its happiness it seemed, and a white sapling tree in a white dell. There was a line of Men, tall, dark of hair and grey of eye, and last came one with a star on his brow…and other things besides.”
Galadriel bent over her Mirror, motioning Gandalf to stay. Her brow furrowed, and at last she stepped back with a sigh. “My sight has been confused of late,” she said. “My vision is filled with a golden ring, turning amidst flames, marked with fiery characters… I am certain Sauron is returned, Mithrandír. I am perceiving his thoughts.”
“He is seeking the One if he is returned, then,” said Gandalf. “But Saruman is convinced the One will never be found.”
“My people,” said Galadriel, “were convinced they could defeat Bauglir. But that is the other thing I see, Gandalf, that troubles me: two small people, children perhaps, in a reed boat on a river. One dives off, and emerges again, something clutched in his fist. The other draws near…”
Gandalf was blowing smoke rings; he watched them as they dissolved. “I do not know what it portends. But I say to thee, Galadriel, that help may come from the hands of the weak when the Wise falter. For few things in Ennorath are known before they come to be.”
Galadriel bowed her head. “Tell me,” she said after a moment, “has the gift of the Shipwright…” She faltered.
“It has been a great aid,” he said, “and will be more so in future, I deem. But I will not speak of it even here. And I do not relish bringing it within the Necromancer’s grasp, whether it be Sauron or no.”
“All my power will bend toward veiling his sight,” said Galadriel, “I swear.” Gandalf bowed low. The next day he departed, and to their eyes afar Celeborn and Galadriel saw his grey light glimmer in the shadow ere it was lost, a star in the darkness.
The days lengthened, but at last at twilight the archers of Lórien detained an old man in a grey cloak, leaning heavily on his staff. Mithrandír was admitted to the presence of Celeborn and Galadriel in Caras Galadhon immediately. Spent though he was, the wizard stayed only to tell them what he had learned before setting out for Imladris.
The White Council met in Imladris, and there the Wise learned what Gandalf knew: Sauron was lord of Dol Guldur and of the Seven besides, for in torment Thráin had yielded his ring, and died in Gandalf’s arms. Gandalf urged an attack on Sauron then, when he was yet unprepared, but though Galadriel agreed and seconded this it was not so decided. Saruman spoke against an attack, and the Council heeded his silver voice, for Elrond spoke no word, and the dearest wish of the Elves was to preserve their lives in Middle-earth, although they might not have admitted it. But from this time Saruman had Galadriel’s mistrust.
So the world began its final slide into the Shadow. Sauron’s power in Dol Guldur grew and when, not a year after the White Council’s meeting, word came out of Gondor that the White Tree had died, leaving no seedling behind, the Elves were greatly sorrowed, both for the death of the Tree, last child in Ennorath of Telperïon the Silver, but also for the waning of the blood of Numénor. In truth it was nearly spent, but when Galadriel expressed this to Elrond, he said, “I fear that the greatest of the race since Isildur and Elendil may be yet to come.” It had long been his presentiment that the Heir of Isildur would be bound up in the downfall of the Enemy, if such came to pass, and so he might avenge downfallen Akallabéth. For this reason, and for kinship, Imladris had ever been the haven of the line of the Kings of the Kings of Men.
Indeed, but a few short years before Gandalf led thirteen Dwarves and one hobbit with no pocket handkerchief on a quest into the Wild, Aragorn the last Heir of Isildur was taken to Imladris by his mother, being but one year of age and Chieftain of the Dunedain. Elrond looked long on the child, so that even Gilraen the courageous feared the Elf-lord would not harbor them, but then Elrond kissed the babe and said, “Let him be called Estel in this house, and he shall be as my foster-son. But none shall speak to him of his ancestry, for if he elects to meet his destiny it shall be of his own free choice.” But as Estel grew older he grew only more like Isildur his forefather. And to Elrond this boded the end of the Third Age.
Not long after Galadriel summoned the White Council, for as Sauron’s power grew so did her weariness at striving with him. Gandalf, having abandoned the Dwarves and the hobbit mid-quest (an escapade most of the Council found amusing or silly, but proved anything but), spoke with her, and so did Elrond, and Saruman consented. Sauron fell back before them and Dol Guldur was abandoned, and with the death of Smaug and the Battle of the Five Armies in Dale the North had more peace than had been its wont for many years.
But ten years later Sauron declared his presence openly in Mordor, to which he had long since returned. Barad-dûr began to be rebuilt, and three of the Nazgûl reoccupied Dol Guldur. Arwen Undomíel returned to her father from Lórien, bearing these tidings from her grandmother, and she met the young Estel in the woods of Imladris. But for the light in his eyes she would have thought him an Elf.
To Estel Arwen seemed a vision of beauty beyond the world, out of the Blessed Realm or the Elder Days, second only to Lúthien. Though she spoke but little to him he soon fell silent, and Elrond perceived the drift of his mind. Then he revealed to Estel his true name and parentage, and gave him the Ring of Barahir and the shards of Narsil, for (Elrond said) the Sceptre of Annuminas and the Star of the North, and the hand of Arwen Undomíel, might be taken only by the King of Gondor and Arnor. Girding himself for war and travel Aragorn departed into the Wild, but when Elrond spoke of this to Galadriel she smiled sadly, saying, “Often have the greatest of Men aspired to the hands of the daughters of Elves. And from those unions thou thyself were born, Elrond.”
“No such blessing will be granted to the children of such a union. Arwen is of the Peredhil,” said Elrond blackly. “If she wed a mortal she would become mortal herself, and we should be sundered beyond the end of the world.”
Galadriel remembered Lúthien, her shadowy hair and silver wit, and said, “Let us speak no more of this.” For she recalled how Tinúviel had wilted without Beren, and in Arwen, and in Elrond himself, she perceived the heritage of Beren and Tuor as well as of Lúthien and Idril.
As has been told, Galadriel was at this time the mightiest and fairest of the Children of Ilúvatar in Middle-earth. As the bearer of one of the Three, as well as wielder of all the power of Doriath and the Blessed Realm, she brought all the marshaled might of Elvenessë against the Enemy. With Gandalf and Elrond she was his chief foe, and moreover she was co-ruler of Lothlórien, fairest of Elf-realms, in her own right. But Galadriel had little peace at heart, for she deemed it her duty as she had before to remain in Middle-earth and to oppose Sauron, but her heart boded both that the One Ring would be found, and that there would be no hope once it was. Also her longing for the Sea had increased as the years lengthened, for she bore the Ring of Water. Yet she recalled Finarfin’s words to her concerning the anger of the Valar, and she doubted that she would be received back into the Blessed Realm.
Troubled in mind she summoned the White Council again, not long after the rebuilding of Barad-dûr was begun. There the talk soon turned to the Rings, their provenance and their fate, and Saruman divulged all he knew of them, he said, to his fellows. He also said that he had discovered the whereabouts of the One: it had rolled down Anduin into the Sea long since. Galadriel’s heart misgave her when she heard this, for matters of Middle-earth, she thought, would not be so easily resolved. Gandalf lighting his pipe questioned this aloud, and Saruman repeating his assertion mocked Gandalf’s pipe-weed. Gandalf merely regarded Saruman for a long moment before blowing smoke rings at Saruman. The White Wizard reached out to brush them away, but they dissolved before he could reach them. The Elves laughed, but Galadriel—and Saruman—did not forget it.
Afterward Galadriel pressed Mithrandír about this, but he shook his head. “I merely recalled,” he said in a low voice, “that Curunir was of the train of Aüle in Valinor. The smoke rings seemed fitting. I’m but an old man who takes what small comforts he can.”
Galadriel raised an eyebrow, but said seriously, “At times it is my fear that the Lords of the West have abandoned us to the Enemy.”
“Lady Galadriel!” said Gandalf. “Curunir and I are here! We have been abandoned to our fate perhaps, but not to the Enemy.”
So they parted. The next year Mount Doom burst into flame again.
After long years of wandering and labor a grim, tall Man with dark hair and grey eyes was halted on the borders of Lórien. He answered the archers in Elvish, and at length Aragorn son of Arathorn was presented to the Lady Galadriel and the Lord Celeborn in Caras Galadhon. They rose to greet him.
“My lady and lord,” he said kneeling, “forgive my presumption. But my travels have left me sorely taxed, and Imladris my home is yet far from here.”
“Thou are welcome in this realm as long as it lasts, kinsman from afar,” said Celeborn.
Aragorn rose and bowed. “Estel,” said the Lady softly. “The only peril thou will find in Lórien is that thou bring thyself. Have thy years away from Imladris changed that which drove thee thence?”
“Lady,” he said, “they have not.”
Galadriel lifted a hand, and for the first time the Heir of Isildur perceived the ring she wore upon it. “Arwen Evenstar,” she said, “is also a guest in Caras Galadhon.”
Aragorn’s countenance changed; immediately years of hardship were wiped from his face. In that instant he looked to Galadriel exactly like Tuor, Elven in all but mortality. He shook his head. “Lady,” he said, “the peril I would bring is to you and your kin.”
“Arwen is my daughter’s daughter,” Galadriel agreed, “but it must be that every Child of Erú makes his or her own free choice. For thee, Aragorn, and for Arwen Undomíel, and even for I, Galadriel, that choice is yet before us. Our choices, I fear, may rule the fate of the world.”
“That is indeed,” said Aragorn in a low voice, “my fear.”
“Do not fear that thou must choose,” Galadriel said gently. “That is part of the Gift of Men, not given to those who exist beneath the Shadow or the Twilight. They are both terrible, in their way.”
Aragorn bowed again. “The wise of my race,” he said, “must renounce both; of old my ancestors, desiring one, fell beneath the sway of the other. But my memory of your kindness, Lady, will last beyond the Circles of the World, whatever my fate. As will my gratitude.”
Galadriel smiled at him. “We are kin from afar, Elendilion, and I am proud to own it. I would do all I have done for thee even if aiding thee did not thwart our Enemy.”
“Thy words have given us much to consider,” Celeborn added. “Go now and refresh yourself from your travails. Our Elves will guide thee.”
But when Aragorn had gone Celeborn turned to Galadriel, saying, “Shall mortal Man aspire to so great a height? Shall the Evenstar of her people set and shine no more?”
“Will thou say to me that Aragorn’s worth is no less, in these fallen times, than that of Beren or Tuor in theirs?” said Galadriel. “Indeed, it may be greater. And Arwen is not fully Elf, but Peredhil. To her is granted the free choice between a mortal and an immortal life.”
Galadriel turned to her husband, the light of Eärendil gleaming on her glorious hair and on the ring she wore. “Do thou not sense, my dear lord, the weariness of the eternities that stretch before us? Art thou not perturbed by our unknown fate? Mortality may be as sweet as the wine of Valinor, save that Morgoth turned the cup bitter.”
Celeborn took her hand and kissed it. “We are Elves,” he said. “Can we ever truly comprehend the Gift of Man?” Galadriel said nothing, and he took her in his arms. “If nothing else,” he said, “we shall face eternity together.”