The Tale of Arien
Here begins the tale of the Battle Star of the Eldar, who had divine fire in her veins as well as the blood of the three Kindreds, Nindriél who was also named Arien after her foremother chosen to steer the course of Anar (the Sun).
She who guided the vessel of the Valar through the heavens was at the beginning a spirit of fire. In the Music of Ainur, she was closely aligned to the music of Melkor, but when he would make fire an instrument of torment and destruction, she left his thought and joined instead to the heights of Manwë and thus brought great light to herself. Melkor feared her because she had understood so much of his desire from the beginning. He could not hide his mind from the light of her eyes and ever avoided her glance.
She clothed herself after the manner of the Children of Ilúvatar even as the Powers themselves did. Through all the battles with Melkor, she sought to check the destruction he caused and when he summoned the fire spirits to him, she refused and went instead to Manwë and Varda and served them faithfully. She took the name of Arien and became as a youthful maiden of the Vanyar, golden and beloved and wise.
After the Eldalië came to Valinor, she was the friend of the house of Ingwë, the High King of all the Elves. Inwë was a close kinsman to the king and his heart was given to Arien and in time hers to him. They were wed and from this union came Anariel and Ilsë, their daughters and Orollë their son. Anariel was the mother of Arien Nindriél and her father was Gelthalië. His father was a kinsman of Finwë and his mother was Isilië sister to Olwë of Alqualondë and Elwë Singollo. Of high blood was Arien Nindriél and many fates were woven into her own.
During the countless years in the Bliss of Valinor, Arien of the Maia grew restless in the frame she had assumed. Although her love for Inwë was great, she felt that she would fade in that form. She would at times leave her family and assume the form of a naked flame and bathe in the waters of Laurelin to purify her spirit.
Her absences became more pronounced as she rediscovered her joy of that light. Yavanna gave her leave to care for the golden tree and she collected the dews and tended the shining vats that held them. In time Inwë and his children, understanding that she was of the Divine race, begrudged her not her heart's desire although they were grieved.
Anariel and Gelthalië were espoused and she dwelt with him in Tirion. In the grievous deeds that after befell the Noldor, Gelthalië had little part, but he was a close kinsman to the sons of Finwë and Fingolfin was very dear to him. Therefore he left Aman when Fingolfin left and Anariel was against this for she did not admire the brash ways of Fëanor, nor did she believe what he would say of the Valar.
She wanted to flee to her mother, but Arien was overcome by the death of the Golden Tree and there was not time for her to reach Inwë, her father. She also loved Gelthalië and knew that she would soon bear children, so she consented at the last. In Alqualondë, the deeds of the Noldor grieved her heart and Gelthalië fought for his mother's people that were so cruelly slain. Yet, he still resolved to go forth with his friend Fingolfin and also because the Noldor were his father's people and he deemed himself guilty of their crimes and submitted to the judgements of the Valar.
It has been told how Fingolfin led his people onto the lands of Middle Earth at the rising of the Moon. As she crossed from the grinding ice, Anariel felt her time come and on the shores of Hither Lands in the cold and icy North, Isilien was born and she named him for the new lamp in the heavens. She knew that she had been with twins, but the other did not come at this time. Against all advice, even that of Fingolfin himself, she continued the journey though in great pain and weariness.
When Isil had crossed the skies seven times a new light arose in the West. It blazed with great light and heat, for in those days the Sun was wont to come closer to Middle Earth to deter the evils of Morgoth. At the rising of the Sun, Anariel felt the other child within her struggling to be born.
You shall call her Arien and she will be
of the Fire even as I am
Even as Gelthalië held her and called her Nindriél, a voice was heard from the sky saying, "You shall call her Arien and she will be of the Fire even as I am."
Anariel marvelled to hear her mother's voice that came from the new Sun and begged to have her children spared the fate of the Noldor. One night she had a dream; in it her mother spoke to her,
"Anariel you are the child of the Flame of Anar and you must not forget this. Put your grief behind you, for I will watch over you and your children. Where does a daughter learn strength but from her mother? If you do not fulfil your part, your children will come to grief. The strands of their destiny have been woven and they must live out their greatness and sorrow."
Anariel had been strong and just before the flight of the Noldor but had suffered much in the crossing and was now impoverished in spirit. She remained doubtful and full of fear despite what Gelthalië or her mother might say. Thus she withdrew her wisdom from her children and Arien took her examples from the soldiers around her. She was great and strong but missed the gentle, compassionate hand of her mother.
On the seventh day of the sun, great birds flew down from the sky bearing a sword, a golden shield, a fiery stone, and a bow of silver. Gelthalië accepted these gifts and put the weapons aside for his son and the jewel for his daughter. One night he dreamed that Arien the mother of his wife was before him on the smoking ruins of a charred plain. Her form was like to the one she had assumed in Valinor, yet she was so radiant that he could not look directly at her. She greeted him fairly and counselled him that his daughter would be a great hope for his people.
"Mighty in arms shall Isilien be, yet there will be only one or two of greater valour and skill than Arien. Therefore I say give the sword Anársil, forged in Aman, to which I have added the strength of my own fire and that of the fruit of the Golden Tree, to your daughter who will be the Battle Star for her people.
"To her also give the Stone of the Sun, blessed by Varda and the shield of the smithwork of Aulë that Morgoth may know that the Valar watch. For cursed though the Noldor be, these are children of mine and for my sake are these gifts given and for the fates of those that will follow in the ages of the Sun.
"To Isilien give the bow of Tilion who used it to hunt in the woods with Oromë. Impoverished though this gift may seem in comparison with the others, it is a mighty boon and blessed will he be. Arien will have need of more help for she will be needed at all times and will have to be ready ever to defend those in Middle Earth from the Darkness.
She is the first-born in the age of the Sun and in all things that begin this age she will have a part. As I rose into the sky I saw what you cannot see and the Second Born shall find you soon. To these will she be charged."
The children of Anariel grew to be among the tallest of the Eldar and they were beautiful of face. As Arien grew, the light that was within her increased even as it did with her brother Isilien. Golden-haired and fair with eyes like a summer's eve, he loved to sing and when his father went to Doriath, he followed eagerly because of Daeron who was the greatest of minstrels.
Kind and just were the words and deeds of Isilien and although he fought when called upon, his heart was rather to heal the hurts that war brought upon Elves and Men. His sister was darker than he with eyes of piercing violet and her long hair fell like waves in a tempest. Under the moonlight, it appeared as black with a silver sheen, but in the light of the sun, it seemed a rich, deep brown with glints of copper. The hair of Arien was said to have great powers of healing and often times, she bound the wounds of her comrades with her hair to speed their recovery.
In the blessed land of Aman, Gelthalië had been interested in plants and the growing things of Kementári and from her he learned to revere the living things of Arda and studied their beneficial uses. Thus, when he came to Middle Earth, he taught his children how to use various plants for healing and he marvelled at the richness of life around him. Isilien combined singing with his father's herb-lore believing that song had its own power.
Arien further used the living flame of her gem, which was gold in colour with a pulsing heart of deep purple. They became the greatest healers of the Eldar and from Arien this knowledge and reverence was passed to the men of Númenor.
She was tall and noble - a princess of the Eldalië who loved the silvery coolness of moonlight, but was not wont to sit and weave or sing and dance. She studied the paths of the stars to whom she felt a kinship and believed that in their dance, destinies were written for any who could read them, from which sprang her ability to foresee events. But her heart was the heart of a soldier, a heart of fire and courage.
Her thoughts were given to the protection of the realms of Middle Earth from Morgoth Bauglir. While she was yet very young, she received her sword and pledged to Fingolfin, for Gelthalië had opened his heart and telling of the dream he had, he sought counsel from the king. It was agreed that when Fingolfin deemed her ready, she would swear to him and would serve him in arms.
Her mail appeared as gold yet was harder than steel and some said that the Dwarves had made it from gold mixed with mithril (which was rare and precious to them) after she and her brother healed their king of wounds he received in a battle with raiding orcs. Golden was her sword wrought from some metal unknown in Middle Earth; it never broke, and the blade never dulled.
Anársil it was named and blazed with the fire of the sun. It was inlaid with amethyst, amber, and rubies arranged as the vessel of Anar and engraved with powerful runes. The scabbard seemed as a thin sheath of amethyst engraved with gold, yet was harder than tempered steel and could not be broken, and her shield was made of the same metal as Anársil and fashioned with the same design.
Gelthalië long kept secret his knowledge of the weapons, yet there were many among the Eldar who guessed that here was the work of Aulë and the Noldor in Tirion. Wherever she went in battle, foes fled from the light of her eyes and the hearts of Men and Elves were uplifted. Her appearance in arms was like to a glittering star in the midst of her enemies and earned her the name of Battle Star. No jewel or gem would Arien wear except for the Stone of the Sun and in after years, the gifts of Beleg Cúthalion.
In the twentieth year of the sun, Fingolfin, the High King of the Noldor, held the Feast of Reuniting. For the first time Arien met her kinfolk from other realms in Beleriand. Although he was of close kin to king Thingol, Gelthalië had not ventured to Doriath because of the weight of the Kinslaying on his father's people and the sorrows of his mother's people - king Thingol's people - that lay on him heavily.
He had followed Fingolfin into exile and accepted the guilt for the crimes of the Noldor. Yet, Thingol sent messages bidding him welcome and urging him to come to Doriath and give some news of his kin in Valinor and when the messengers returned to their land, he went also with them and removed his family thither. But because of the curse upon the Noldor, he spoke not to Thingol of the flight from Aman and told only of the events that led to it.
At this feast Arien swore allegiance to Fingolfin and received her sword and shield. Although she was very young, her might and skill were a marvel to all and there was a radiance about her. Glad was Fingolfin to accept her oath and he knew that no enemy would be able to withstand her light. After the feast she stayed in Hithlum when her father, mother and brother journeyed to Doriath. She received training in arms from Fingon, the son of the king and Maedhros (also her kinsman) and fought in the Dagor Agloreb, a golden star in the king's guard.
Some years later Gelthalië wished to see his daughter for rumours of the Battle Star went abroad and many wondered at the report of a maiden fighting beside Fingolfin. He set out from Menegroth with few attendants thinking to ride leisurely and look at the lands about him until he reached Hithlum. Thus it was that orcs found them unarmed in the wild.
Gelthalië they brought to Angband for they perceived that he was a great Elf lord. What torments he suffered at the hands of Sauron and the Balrogs of Morgoth who can say? When the scouts of Fingon found him by the banks of Ivrin, his eyes were blinded and his hands and feet were broken.
None knew how he had reached there and he seemed to know not who he was or who was around him. He spoke in his feverish darkness during the journey back to Dor-Lómin and they perceived that he had been brought before Morgoth and suffered unendurable torments. Arien had scarcely reached her father's side when he breathed his last and knew not that the daughter he loved held his broken hands in hers.
Yet, the name of Sauron he whispered again and again and for the first time, she was stirred to wrath and vowed to bring destruction to those servants of Morgoth. Arien would have ridden to Angband to challenge the Enemy, but Fingolfin restrained her and told her instead to go and give comfort to Anariel. Therefore she left Hithlum and journeyed to Doriath to tell the news of her father's death. She felt pulled by some urgency and did not rest or stop until she reached the gates of Menegroth.
She had sent no word to her mother and brother that Gelthalië was dead thinking instead to bring those tidings herself. Yet, that news reached Doriath ere she arrived. Isilien, upon hearing of his father's death and the manner in which he died arose overcome by wrath and left Doriath and none could stay him. It happened that she approached even as Isilien was riding away. She called out to him and when he answered her not, she pursued him. While he rested his horse, she came upon him but he was fey and gave her no heed.
She dismounted and shook him roughly crying, "Isilien, son of Gelthalië, shall evil win in your father's house? What manner of madness has possessed you so that you flee as a creature in the wild?"
Hearing her, he looked up and pushed her away.
"Shall my father be broken by the craven who sits in the North and laughs while we sing and feast? The rumours of your battles reach even here in Doriath but you do nothing. Will his death not be avenged? What of you sister - do you seek comfort over justice? If you have come to sit at the feet of Thingol, then I will go forth alone."
Arien fell as if she had been struck. In that hour she believed what her brother hinted, that she was a coward who had fled from the Enemy that killed her father. As he looked at her face, Isilien felt remorse but the wrath and sorrow were so great within him that he could not speak.
"Brother", she said, "you are right in what you have said of me. I came to seek comfort while our father's death is yet unavenged. But I have journeyed without rest and weary am I. Come back to Menegroth with me that I may gain my strength and we will set out ere the sun rises."
But Isilien would not listen and her efforts to restrain him proved in vain, for he thrust her aside harshly and mounting his horse, rode off with great speed. Arien had known little of grief until then and it seemed like death to her heart to see her brother thus.
He had been so kind and just but now had lost all reason and went willingly into death. He swore to ride to Thangorodrim and wept in his despair for he had loved his wise and gentle father. Wearily, she mounted her horse and followed him, but in his anger, he rode through the woods quickly and was lost to her. Beside Esgalduin, she dismounted and sank to her knees. Overcome by her grief, now doubled, she sobbed by the banks of the river.
The moon rose above the tall trees and there beside the bank it appeared that a star gleamed on the ground
Beleg, captain of the marchwardens of Thingol was returning through Neldoreth from the northern reaches of the kingdom. He came down beside Esgalduin and heard a sound exceedingly strange. It seemed to him that a girl wept in the woods. He went carefully ever wary of the tricks of Morgoth. Beleg's skill in woodcraft was the greatest that has ever been and Arien knew not that anything was approaching her. The moon rose above the tall trees and there beside the bank, it appeared that a star gleamed on the ground. Gently Beleg came forward.
"Maiden, what is your sorrow? I have not heard that there is aught to grieve for in the realm of Thingol."
Startled, she sprang up and drew her blade.
"Who are you that approaches me thus in secrecy whilst I am grieving and unaware?"
Beleg was amazed for never before had he seen a maiden wield a blade.
"I am Beleg chief of the wardens of the King of Doriath. I keep watch along the king's borders. But come, who is the stranger who draws a sword and demands questions of me in my own land?"
"I am Arien who is also called Nindriél, the daughter of Gelthalië and Anariel who dwell in Menegroth as kinsmen of the king and queen. I sought to bring news of the death of my father, but I see that I am overlate. My brother has departed in wrathful madness and I am spent without the strength to go after him."
Beleg stood as though made of stone. It was strange to hear her speak like a soldier and he was confounded.
"Are you a shadow to hover in the trees thus? Even a foe might do me the courtesy of letting me look upon him. Or does the warden of Thingol fear the daughter of Gelthalië?",
her voice was softer and though he could not see her face, it seemed to him that she smiled as she sheathed her sword.
"Please madam, I beg your indulgence."
He stepped into the moonlight as she came forward and they looked on each other for the first time.
Then Arien felt the blood drain away from her face and yet it seemed to rush into her cheeks. For when she looked into the eyes of Beleg she perceived that his heart was open to hers. Frightened, she turned to run but stumbled and he moved to catch her and they stood thus. They did not move and each gazed on the other's face with the innocent wonder of a child. Beleg felt that there had never been anything more beautiful in Middle Earth. He had known the beauty of Lúthien from her birth, but Arien moved him to core of his being.
Wandering the trackless paths, he had been content to be alone, but now he felt that he would never again know happiness in that solitude. Her sorrow pierced his heart and in one so young and courageous, it seemed all the more grievous.
She could neither speak nor move and felt as if she had been newly born and knew not the names of anything around her. It was as if she was taking her very first breath and it was a breath she shared with him. Her mind was full of the death of her father and now her brother's wish for death; she even believed that she deserved death for fleeing her enemy. Her heart was breaking, but she saw in Beleg's eyes something greater still - Life.
And there by Esgalduin, they made a silent pledge each to the other with their eyes and hearts.
Beleg laid her gently down to rest by the river while he traced the path of Isilien, but there was not much to tell her. Isilien had ridden as if possessed by some insane force that drove him forth to his doom or destiny. When he returned, Beleg told her that he had ridden north out of the bounds of Thingol and Melian. She was in despair but deemed it better to go and comfort her mother rather than track him through the vast open lands. Therefore, she went with Beleg through the woods to Doriath and they walked in the starlight and her heart was eased of its grief for a while.
In time they came to Menegroth and brought the sad tidings to Anariel. Heavy were the burdens of her heart. She tried to be strong because she was the daughter of the Sun, yet, even the counsels of Melian could not bring her peace. She remained in Menegroth and never again went abroad, for the cares of the Noldor were not hers and she longed for the land of Aman where her kin dwelt upon Taniquetil in the radiance of Varda and Manwë.
However, in that time Arien was a comfort to her mother. Although Anariel little understood the ways of her wandering daughter, she was gladdened to have her company. In Arien, she recognized more of her mother than herself. Distant had they been since Arien pledged to Fingolfin. Anariel did not want her children involved with the Noldor and would have spirited them away to Doriath from the beginning had Gelthalië allowed it. But Arien served Fingolfin with great love and loyalty even as her father had done and her joy was to go to battle with him.
This was the cause of much grief for Anariel. She had hoped to be a companion to her daughter such as was denied her by her own mother. Yet, she was to have this more from her son than her daughter. Arien was wont to go wandering in the trackless wilds and her thoughts were given to battle against Morgoth and the destruction of Sauron.
Arien stayed in Menegroth as oft as she could to lessen her mother's grief. She knew that Anariel wished to be close in her counsels but this was not possible for her. She felt a fire within and being young, she needed all of her self-control to restrain it. Indeed in her youth she was quick to anger and action.
She desperately wished to please her mother but it was to no avail. Arien felt that she could never be the daughter that love would require; being hard in judgement, keen in sight and swift in action. She could not sit quietly when her father and others were tormented without reason or mercy, and such as gentle folk as her mother and brother were reduced to fear and madness.
After a time, she took to wandering once again, though now she went ever with Beleg. In his company, she gained wisdom and learned that her fiery energy could be used to strengthen her will.
"Now are you fond of your sword and shield Nindriél", he counselled, "but my heart tells me that ere the end your mind and will shall be your greatest weapons."
He taught her how to move as a creature of nature so that not one other being should be alarmed, even to the smallest mouse. Indeed Beleg Cúthalion understood the language of the birds and beasts and his skill was the greatest that ever was.
She brought him joy and peace for though she had the heart of a soldier, she seemed to hold a wisdom beyond her years and he loved the fire within her. They were companions-in-arms and the Battle Star and Strong Bow were the bane of the servants of Morgoth that dared trek so far from Angband.
Many saw this new bond and wondered for these two spoke mainly of battles and warriors' feats. Anariel was unsure if her daughter had the nature to yield to love, although she could be kind and gentle. She told them to be careful - that perhaps they were only companions-in-arms who merely admired each other's strengths, but this was not so.
They found love in each other, which seemed to them to be a thing miraculous for it had been so unexpected. They were soldiers and thought not to find such room in their hearts for the softness and comfort of love. Theirs is not the story of Beren and Lúthien but the love within it is not diminished.
They were sworn to different kings and the mind of Thingol was not to aid any of the Noldor, but Arien stayed in Doriath with Beleg until summoned by Fingolfin and then they were apart for a time. Yet, oft would Beleg seek her when she was in Hithlum and if there was battle, he fought with her. Many were their pursuits and together they braved many perils, for Morgoth never tired of testing Elves and Men. Only fate separated them and all the years of their life together were as a handful of days to Arien who remained in Middle Earth for three ages of the sun.
During her stay in Doriath, she and Beleg explored the lands outside Thingol's kingdom looking for news of her brother. She sent a message to Fingolfin and the messenger returned saying that Isilien was in Dor-Lómin.
Fingon returning from a visit with Maedhros espied him nigh to the banks of Sirion. He was stricken with some madness and refused food and aid although it was plain that he had not eaten for many days. When he did not come willingly, Fingon set bonds upon him and brought him as a prisoner before Fingolfin.
He took pity on Isilien and laid a peaceful sleep on him and when he awoke, he was overcome with grief but was no longer mad. Thus, Arien left him to the care of those in Hithlum. She tried to coax her mother into travelling to Isilien's side, but Anariel would not hear of it; she wanted no pity from the Noldor and ever held the princes (and Arien) responsible for what happened to Gelthalië and after to Isilien.
Fingolfin let Arien be for a time after the death of her father and he deemed it a blessing that she had found love in one like Beleg. He would summon her to the councils of his captains, both for her education and to listen to her. Her quiet words often held more wisdom than his captains and the effects of the teaching of Beleg could be felt in her just instruction. She became great among the Noldor although she lived apart from them and oft was sought by the captains and princes for her advice.
Fingolfin offered her captaincy but she refused saying:
"Sire a common soldier am I. I do not relish killing but deem it a necessary evil. For in Hither Lands, Morgoth would wage war unceasing if we met not his challenge. But for my service to you in this vein, I am willing to accept neither rank nor praise. I serve you out of love and the duty of my house and in this I am not alone. I would also be free to traverse the realms of Beleriand to glean a better understanding of that which I seek to protect. For I shall be here long after my people are gone back to Aman. The Valar will not fence you out forever."
To that land there is no returning, save in death
He was amazed at the sound of her voice and the nature of her prophecy. He replied to her:
"Daughter of Gelthalië, you see with vision other than mine. From Aman we have been cast out - and rightly for the folly of our rebellion against the Holy Ones. To that land there is no returning, save in Death; perhaps you see our destruction?"
He looked at her at but she made no reply for she knew not from whence those words had come. He continued:
"Yet, you are no common soldier however you would like to make it so. I would see you receive the rank of captain for your courage and valiant actions. Your service to me is a thing wondrous and beautiful being borne of the pure love of your steadfast heart. I will not deny you this request. No order shall you be given but praise you shall have whether you will it or no."
It was during this time that Beleg Cúthalion asked Fingolfin for the hand of Arien (having already Anariel's permission he knew that Arien would want him to consult her king).
"Lord", said Beleg, "ill are the chances of this world and it may be that in times to come we will know less peace than today. Yet, I deem that Arien is not yet of the fullness of mind that her destiny requires and I do not ask to wed right away. Rather I would wait until she is ready and understands what her role shall be.
"I would not have her make a choice with the fervour of a young heart only to come to regret after. A soldier must be ready to make necessary sacrifices. Who understands this better than I? I ask for your permission now so that if we are sundered after today, I should have satisfied her conditions."
Glad was Fingolfin to give his permission and a token also he gave to Beleg. A great gem of his house that had been wrought in Aman - of deep glowing violet shot through with golden light, on a slender chain.
"Give her this when you are betrothed that she may know her king consents. She will know it for oft have I called this stone the Spirit of Arien. When you are betrothed if you be not in my halls, you will say to her:
"'The King of the Noldor salutes thee and blesses thee and whithersoever thou goest, there also is part of my heart. Be at peace Arien Nindriél, kinswoman, soldier and true friend to the king.'"
Thus was she free to come and go while the Siege of Angband lasted - for well-nigh unto four hundred years. Thingol and Melian did not deny her entry into Doriath. She was kinswoman to the king and even to the queen for her foremother was Arien of the Maia. She did service to them with the other captains of Doriath and thus became great among the Sindar as well.
But in the four hundredth and fifty-fourth year of the Sun, she was once again summoned to Hithlum there to take counsel with Fingolfin and his captains regarding the movements of Morgoth. Beleg sought to go with her and Thingol granted his request. Although he was loath to have his greatest captain abroad, well did he understand the love they shared.
To this counsel came also Isilien being healed in his mind. He had long made amends to his sister and mother for the grief he had caused them but did not go back to Menegroth. He desired instead to be with the Noldor who were watching Morgoth and ever took thought as to how he might be destroyed.
Arien was of the same mind as Fingolfin that the peace they had known would not last forever. She spoke to the council saying:
"Does the Black-hearted one sleep? Do you princes believe that he is content to have you watch him nigh to his own domain? Surely he will not be happy until all of Middle Earth is destroyed. He yet bides his time in the hope that the evil he sowed aforetime will ripen and divide us. Do not be complacent in your seeming strength.
"Deep devices has the enemy that we do not see and what ruinous multitudes he breeds or recruits we know not. Do not feast while he prepares for war. Heed to the words of your king. Let us strike a blow and draw him out while he is unprepared for the circle of the Siege is not complete."
The plans of Fingolfin came to naught as the princes were mostly inclined to spare their folk the agony of war and believed that prolonging the peace would be to the benefit of all. Other tales have told of the cold, dark night wherein the vermin of Angband overtook the Ard-Galen and changed forever its name to the Anfauglith, the Gasping Dust.
The Noldor were taken for the most part unaware by an enemy that had long laid the plans for this attack. The fire and smoke of that night gave the battle its name of Dagor Bragollach, Battle of the Sudden Flame.
In the confusion the Noldor were sundered and unable to come to the aid of one another. Fingolfin had no aid and was alone with those around him. Arien fought valiantly for him as did Beleg but Isilien being on an errand to Angrod was not able to reach his lord. Alone, she saw him valiantly trying to cut his way through to the fortified outpost.
Swiftly she mounted her steed and rode out thinking to clear a way for him, but even as she left, he was surrounded alone within sight of her. She called to him and as he looked to her, a Balrog came from behind and threw a thong of fire about him.
In that moment Arien raised her hand and from it came a beam of gold that scorched the foe in front of her. But she was too late and when she came to Isilien, the Balrogs were beating him into the ground.
Fearless daughter of the Sun, she turned and gave them battle. Overcome with wrath, she gleamed as a white-hot flame and those with Fingolfin stared in amaze at her as she slayed the demons. There alone she stood with Rąthdun the captain of Gothmog, Lord of the Balrogs. He gloated at her with one foot on the head of her brother.
"Well met daughter of Gelthalië!" he laughed as she started, "Do not think I do not know thee or thy worthless brother, so feeble of mind, very like to thy father who was not long with us before he became as one fey and witless. I deem thou would give Sauron better sport."
"Foul flame of Ūdun! Get thee back to thy master. The flame of Anar shall be thy death!"
The Balrog paused,
"Why not come willingly Arien? For in the mansions of the Dark Lord thy light would stand out; Captain of the Hosts shall he proclaim thee. Why waste the fire within thyself to protect the weak? The great captain Sauron would greet thy coming as that of a hero. Surely that is better than to be dragged to Angband in disgrace as a thrall?"
She thrust her sword at him,
"Thou dare to entreat with me, murderer and evil tormentor of the innocent? Dost thou imagine me so besotted with grief as to believe the words of a liar? Nay, slave of Morgoth, no such satisfaction will I give to thy master who is himself but a thrall of the Valar and this great Sauron but a craven and greater liar than thou art. Drag me if thou hast the greater fire!"
Enraged, the Balrog brought down his dread mace upon her shield and though no hurt was done to her shield, her arm was broken. Again and again he beat upon her shield and Beleg stood stricken next to Fingolfin, fearing her dead.
Ráthdun too believed her to be dead and paused, but she raised herself up and cut him deeply across the middle with Anársil. He howled and threw his mace at her. She stood and cut him again with her sword,
"Now shall thou foul craven feel the wrath of the daughter of Gelthalië!"
He made no response and fled screaming. She heeded him not and turned to Isilien, looking for something of her brother to bury but he had been trampled and his mighty bow broken. His helm she took back to Fingolfin and the shards of his bow to Beleg who had been his tutor in that skill.
None withstood her as she made her way back to the outpost of Fingolfin. She fell into the arms of Beleg, nigh unto death so grievous were her hurts. Long would she have wandered in that darkness but for the efforts of her king and her beloved. She was renowned for her greatness in healing but they were masters in that art as well. Yet, the fire of her spirit seemed to falter under the weight of her grief and the wounds inflicted by the demon of Morgoth.
When she awakened, she found that the Noldor had suffered much and were no longer a power to deter the evils of Middle Earth. They had been broken and scattered. She went to the King and found him distraught beyond comfort for he deemed that his people were destroyed. He spoke of the crossing from Aman and told her of the birth of her brother and the difficulties her mother had endured. He spoke of the wakening of treachery among the Eldalië in Aman and of the choices he had made.
"This is the hour you had foreseen Arien," he whispered.
Laying her hand on his shoulder, she tried offer him reassurance,
"Nay lord. It was a time of redemption and forgiveness that I perceived, not the end of your folk."
On the day he rode off to Thangorodrim, she alone was permitted to speak with him. In vain did she try to dissuade him but he would not hear her and sped away over the Dor-nu-Fauglith. She tried to summon some of his knights to ride after him, but it was difficult to find those who had not been injured and such as there were, feared beyond reason the dark gates of the Enemy. Also there were some who feared the king for he had ridden in great wrath, his eyes on fire, even as one of the Valar.
She set out alone, for Beleg had been injured in battle. As she crossed the ruined plain, the rumour of that great battle between Fingolfin and Morgoth was all around. The very earth groaned and shook under the blows of Grond and the rocks split with the cries of the Dark one.
She came upon them even as Fingolfin, in his dying strength hewed his enemy though the mountainous weight of Morgoth was upon his neck. Her cries were lost in the stones amidst the noise of Morgoth as he picked up the body of Fingolfin and broke it. She saw the rushing attack of Thorondor and shouted with joy as he bore her lord away. Morgoth, overcome by pain, did not see her and his servants paid her no heed as she stumbled back to Hithlum in grief.
She returned to tell the news to Fingon who took the lordship in sorrow and wrath. She went among the Elves and Men healing them as she could. Many a wound could she repair but for the despair and sadness of their hearts she had no cure. She pledged anew to Fingon and took leave of him when Beleg was healed and returned to Doriath. Seldom did they come forth until the Fifth Battle for there was now work aplenty for sword and bow.
When summoned to the council of Maedhros, she was wary saying:
"Indeed we are not as we were aforetime. I foresee great destruction and death if we do this now. Yet, it must be done and my heart will not rest until he is defeated. Let us make a solid defence and strategy and know you well your allies for I do not see truth in the eyes of some of these new Men."
She spoke to them of the words of Fingolfin regarding the betrayal and deceit they had had suffered. Celegorm and Curufin, the sons of Fëanor - feeling that she was speaking of them - ridiculed her counsel crying,
"Too long has Arien been in the midst of the Wood Elves. Always they speak of the treachery of the Noldor. Yet without the Noldor, their kingdom would have been little more than ashes and rubble long ago. Speak no more of this cowardice. We will trust whom we deem trustworthy and no one shall dare to question it!"
She turned upon them in anger but her eyes fell on Beleg and she uttered not a word and left the council. Fingon reproached them and with Maedhros sought her out after. Maedhros asked that she forgive his brothers their rash words saying,
"Ever shall the curse of our oath follow us and in such as those is it made worse."
Arien yielded to his plea and agreed to help as she could. They knew that battle was inevitable but they had to decide who would move first and in the end, all agreed that the first strike should be theirs. Arien was weary when she returned to Beleg and told him of their discussions. He too agreed with Maedhros but was disturbed by his brothers.
It seemed ill of them to speak thus of his king when the captains of Doriath were at hand. Arien soothed his temper and turned instead to strategy and warfare lest Maedhros lose yet another ally. Wroth was Thingol at the claim of the brothers upon the Silmaril and refused to send aid, sparing only his two captains.
What allies were left to Maedhros had sent their legions. But of the great number assembled in Hithlum on the eve of the battle, only a piteous few returned to their homes. Arien walked among those who would fight with Fingon and she tried to bring hope to them. Across the plains, they could see the black smokes of Angband and many wondered if they would ever return to their fair lands again.
On that midsummer's morn, she stood beside Fingon and Beleg and for a while there was hope in their hearts. They perceived that their force was strong and they could have the victory, but it was not to be. Ill proved the chances of the Eldar that day and the treachery of Men was their ruin. The seeds of darkness sown long ago came to fruition in that battle and Morgoth had the victory, utterly destroying the Noldor.
No tale or song can contain the tragedy of the Nirnaeth Arnoediad - the Battle of Unnumbered Tears. At the last, Fingon was separated from his brother by legions of orcs and fell beasts and fought Gothmog alone. Arien fought desperately to reach the side of her friend and lord but a grim sight greeted her. Once again, there was naught to bury or burn but his helm, cloven in two. It had been kicked carelessly aside and this she brought to Turgon, now the High King saying,
"Friend, kinsman and now my lord. To you does the daughter of Gelthalië swear fealty. Leave this slaughter now that some remnant of our people be left to know beauty and peace."
He replied with tears in his eyes:
"Arien my heart tells me we shall meet again. You will always be welcome in my halls."
To this she said,
"When next we meet I fear the doom of your fair realm will be nigh. Morgoth has not forgotten you and today he had seen your power and knows that you have grown in greatness. Have a care that the treachery we have suffered here does not awaken in your fair halls."
She looked long upon Maeglin who was next to his lord and listened. Húrin and Huor also counselled that he should leave and in the end Turgon took their advice and retreated to the mountains and passed therein. Then Húrin said to Arien,
"Lady, to you also shall I give the same advice. Save the light of your eyes for other days. There is only death here and I should be glad to die knowing that I have left such a mighty adversary to Morgoth behind. Please leave while there is time and we will look to the rest."
She looked on him in amazement for he spoke to her as an Elven prince, and said,
"Húrin Thalion they cannot slay you in battle, mightiest of the warriors of Men! Whithersoever I may be, there you and your kin will find refuge and comfort always."
He smiled and she left with Mablung and Beleg escaping southward.
At last they reached Doriath and gave such tale that all the Sindar wept. Anariel fearfully looked at her daughter seeing her grim visage and her mail, begrimed and bloodstained. She had retreated from Arien's life upon the death of Isilien saying the wars of the Noldor had caused it and Arien served them too readily.
Their parting had been bitter when she accepted the summons of Fingon and left for the council of Maedhros. No longer did they speak as mother and daughter but Arien did not take time to grieve or heal this breach and turned instead to the incessant battles upon the borders.
There she found release from the sorrow in her heart and Beleg was there to comfort her. But she was no longer the shining daughter of Gelthalië who was quick to laugh, with a smile that warmed the hearts of others; no more the gentle healer. She had become grim and fell - a warrior who forsook peace for death.
She was still beautiful to look upon but her countenance was now stern and forbidding. Only to Beleg did she show any tenderness and oft she was too careworn even for this.
Both Beleg and Mablung understood her grief for the destruction of the Eldar upon the battlefield had been beyond their darkest imaginings. Arien felt the blow strike her deep within her heart; all she fought for had come to naught. Only the secret kingdoms of the Noldor remained and even these were in dire peril.
Her father and brother were dead, her king was slain and his son after him, and many of her friends and kin had been killed in the battles of Middle Earth. Her mother had turned away from her and indeed passed much of the blame to her for the sorrows of their family.
She could hardly have been blamed for her change of mood and Beleg understanding much of her mind, cared for her as best he could. Thus, she became as a fire of bitter anger and regret and she shone ever brighter in battle. But she was learning from her grief.
No more would she be a young soldier quick to anger and action. Her words, ever quiet, were spoken carefully and with great thought. She weighed all things to a fine balance before she gave counsel, knowing the peril of careless action and she looked into the hearts of all whom she met for she could not easily forget the treachery she had seen. She remained distant and unfeeling until even Beleg began to wonder if he had lost his beloved to grief and wrath.
Thingol and Melian could not counsel Arien and her mother refused to speak with her. The words of Beleg seemed to make little difference in her mood and mind but one day, out of the wild there came a boy into Doriath. Beleg found him and, in pity, brought him to Arien that she might tend the hurts of he and his companions.
In his eyes, she saw innocence unshattered and the sting of new grief. Then her heart opened and the lessons of her sorrow became clear. She began to speak with a compassion that had been hard bought and in time became gentle and loving, even as a mother. Thus was Túrin, son of Húrin Thalion welcomed into the abode of Arien Nindriél and her promise to Húrin was made good.
She and Beleg tended to the boy and his companions and took them to Thingol who accepted Túrin as his foster son. In this way, they came to care for him and her heart was saved for she loved Túrin as her own son.
Yet, in the end, would he also help to write her destiny and doom.
This story has previously been published online at fingolfin.com
By the same author