Hello! I'm new to the Forum, but I would appreciate feedback from anyone who has the time to read this. If you'd like a brief glossary, a few more of my thoughts, and better formatting, then you can read it on my blog here: http://blasterboltsgalaxylore.blogspot.com/
This fan fiction is dedicated to the memory of J.R.R. Tolkien. My forays into Middle-earth will forever be some of my most precious memories, and each time I read or re-read more of his work, I am awed at the scope and detail of his imagination. He is one of the greatest fiction writers of our age, and I am honored to walk in his shadow. May God bless his eternal soul.
I’ve also created a short glossary of important words. If you aren’t familiar with Tolkien’s writings, or you have only read certain ones, then this may help you understand the story in more detail. The story itself is split into different headings based on subject matter, but is all part of the same plot line. In all of Tolkien’s writings, there are only a few lines about the ‘Blue Wizards,’ and the far East of Middle-earth is rarely mentioned. This is where my fan fiction comes in. Enjoy!
Of History and Lore
As Sauron, most powerful servant of Melkor, strove against the might of Men, Elves and Dwarves at the end of the Third Age, the Valar sent lesser spirits of the Maiar into Middle-earth from the Undying Realms. Called Istari, or the “Wise Ones” in the Quenya tongue, their role was to give strength and wisdom unto all the children of Illúvatar. Common tales tell of three that strove long against the will of the Dark One. First in strength, and in old times of wisdom also, was Saruman the White, as he was named in the tongues of Men. Long he delved into the dark arts and wrestled against the will of Sauron, but in the end his will crumbled and he became a thrall of evil. The second in power was named Gandalf the Grey, who later became Gandalf the White. Of his shepherding role of the Ring of Power there need be no retelling; and through the merit of his contest with a Balrog in the deep shafts of Moria he has earned renown. The third Wizard, so called in common speech, was Radagast the Brown. Radagast had a love for the kelvar and olvar of Middle-earth, and it said that he could utter the speech of birds. He was especially chosen by Yavanna, who of the Valar from the beginning has cared for the living things of Arda. And yea, though he did not much contest the will of Sauron, and turned more towards the will of his mistress, his failure was perhaps not as great as that of Saruman, who fell in part because of his great pride.
Five Istari came bidden into Middle-earth from the Undying Lands at the will of the Valar, but tales tell of two others. These two Blue Wizards were little known to the Edain, yet the Eldar named them Alatar and Pallando. Though they came in twain to the East of Middle-earth, and in friendship undying as only those of the Valar and Maiar might know, their paths were sundered. It is said that Pallando was captured by Sauron, and long strove against his dark will. Even unto the walls of Barad-dûr in Mordor their battle raged, and the Orcs quelled in terror to see the fierce light of the Istari’s brow. Yet in the end Pallando was cast down and his staff was broken, and Sauron servant of Morgoth had the victory. There was yet a deep darkness within Sauron’s spirit that would not be broken until the end of the Third Age. Thus it was written in the lore of Elves and Men that though the Istari might aid in the eventual defeat of Sauron, they were not in themselves to be the instruments of that demise.
Our tale begins not long after the parting of the Blue Wizards. For while Pallando went to the North to espy the comings and goings of the servants of Sauron, and to lay a watch upon that dark land, Alatar remained in the East of Middle-earth. In olden times the bay of Cuiviénen lay nestled against the Inland Sea of Helcar, yet the land has yet been recast after the War of Wrath and the wrestling of the powers in which Morgoth Bauglir was defeated. In these lands also awoke the first Children of Illúvatar, the Quendi, or the Elves, who long stayed there under the shining stars. Some at last departed for the Undying Lands and were known as the Eldar, but the Avari grew to love the lonely paths and open glades of Middle-earth, lit by bright stars, and chose to remain.
This region is not known by many, even among those who are familiar with the little-trodden paths of Middle-earth. Past the land of Rhûn and the Sea of Rhûn, the realm of the Easterlings, there lies a land partly veiled in shadow. Here are the great Mornié Mountains, which in the speech of the Quendi means the Mountains of Darkness. At the base of these mountains, which are often shrouded in mist, there lies the Kingdom of Tumna Cálë, or Hidden Light. Here some of the Avari yet remain in secrecy. They have not deigned to look upon the fate of Middle-earth, and will not come against Sauron with arms. In the Kingdom of Tumna Cálë only Elves have ever lived, for the inhabitants of this city do not mingle with the other races of Illúvatar that were brought into being in the First Age. And yet the eyes and ears of Sauron stretch out over the entire width and breadth of Middle-earth, and it was not long ere even the Kingdom of Tumna Cálë came to be known to him. Yea, many Elves have tried to escape the prying eyes of the legacy of Morgoth Bauglir, but that is perhaps not their fate. Gondolin met the fires of the dragons and the scourges of the Balrogs, and even so Sauron wished every hidden land and people to lie under his dominion, or to perish forthwith.
The Dragon is Summoned
Sauron held the allegiance of many of the Easterlings, not the least being of Ulthel their chief. Thus it was that through his servants Sauron heard rumors of the city of Tumna Cálë, but as of yet he thought that it was populated by Men who must have fled his wrath long ago. He sent a summons to bring Ulthel son of Undiel, the chief of the Easterlings, to Mordor, and there questioned his thrall. And when Sauron commanded him to take a force to the east of Rhûn to destroy all that lived there, Ulthel refused.
‘Lord,’ said he, ‘It is not out of irreverence that I refuse thee. For here in Mordor’s dark dungeons I may face a slow and painful death, but in the mountains beyond the homes of my people there lives an ancient power. It is better that I die today than lead the warriors of my people to certain death. For none have ever returned from the far East that went thither.’
Sauron questioned him closely, but could not gainsay more information. The Dark One might have tortured Ulthel and perhaps learned something more, but his designs upon the Easterlings were yet unfinished and he needed the chieftain to persuade his people to support him in the coming war. Thus he let the Easterling depart, but placed a mark upon his brow that endured for as long as Ulthel son of Undiel lived: for all know that the house of Undiel were forever marked as the servants of the Dark Lord.
Then Sauron servant of Morgoth Bauglir sat for a time upon his throne of darkness in deep thought. He did not count the strength of this hidden kingdom as valiant, and doubted much the prowess of what he thought to be a few Men at arms. Yet inside him there was a burning desire to make every creature in Middle-earth his thrall, and he could not bear the thought of a free house of Men. At this time he could not yet spare a large force from his main campaigns, and Orcs would have to cross a great swath of Middle-earth to come to the far East.
Thus he summoned one of the last of the great dragons of Middle-earth, the winged fire drake Hauthmog son of Ancalagon the Black. The worm issued forth from the lowest dungeons in the fell pits of Mordor and lay before his master. His bulk stretched out the entire length of the throne room, and many of the servants of the Dark Lord fled in terror at the stench of his coming. Long had he waited the call to battle, though Sauron had not yet sent him out on his errands, because Hauthmog was not in full strength, being a young dragon.
Now Hauthmog was surnamed the Cunning, for it is said that of all the brood of dragons his wit far surpassed even that of Glaurung, who with his wiles deceived the Children of Húrin and caused their fall. So while Hauthmog the Cunning had not yet come into his full stature, in guile he was unmatched save for his master, Sauron servant of Morgoth. Sauron spoke to the dragon, and his voice was a dark whisper that made even the shadows tremble. Thus when Hauthmog had heard the edict of his dark Master, he at once took wing towards the Eastern lands of Middle-earth.
The Elves of Tumna Cálë kept a watch on the outskirts of all their land, and if any Easterling strayed thither he was put to the sword. In this way they did not allow their enemies to know their strength in arms. Yet they did not keep a close watch on the skies, for their kingdom was hidden and the rumor of the great dragons of past ages had long ago waned. So it was that Hauthmog the Cunning came to the Mornié Mountains unseen in a great cloud of vile fog, which drifted from the west over the entire region at the bidding of the Dark Lord. Some Elves there were who wondered at this fell fog, and accounted it as a sign of coming evil, but they did not know from whence it came.
Thus Hauthmog came to the realm of Tumna Cálë in secret. He slithered down the peaks of the Mornié mountains, leaving a trail of slime in his wake, and hid in the deep caves of the surrounding region. There for a time he lay quiescent, but if a traveler were to wander the winding mountain roads he may perhaps have seen the dragon’s great head lying half out of some dark hole, spying out the land. For the sight of a dragon is of all the creatures of Eä the most penetrating, save perhaps for the gaze of the Eagles. Then for a time Hauthmog was ever-vigilant with his dragon-eye to know the strength of his enemy.
The Coming of the Blue Wizard
The realm of Tumna Cálë was ruled by King Thirmir son of Téamos, and for many years the Elves knew only prosperity and joy. For King Thirmir was in some ways a wise King; he did not allow his people to leave the Kingdom of Hidden Light save on pain of death, and would not allow any to enter his lands that had not been born there, whether friend or foe. This law was harsh, but Tumna Cálë was saved from the treachery of Men and the fate of Gondolin. King Thirmir did not allow his people to build great monuments or works of art, for he reasoned that such things would only bring ruin and woe upon them. For he said, ‘It is better that my people learn the lore of growing things and of times past rather than the carving and delving of the stunted ones. For if we raise towers, then the Enemy perhaps will espy them from afar; and if we delve deep into the mountains, then we may release a darkness that even our knowledge may not be able to repress. Walls and towers may serve as a defense, but they are not needed unless one wishes to go to the fields of battle.’ So the Elves lived in secrecy and in silence, in humble dwellings at the foothills of the mountains, and did not forge great works of earth and stone.
King Thirmir was of a regal stature, tall and proud as the Noldor of old. He took Eyera daughter of Ithiel as his queen, and ruled his people kindly, and as he thought, justly. Eyera bore Thirmir one daughter, but she herself died in childbirth. And afterwards the King gave his daughter the name Nyérë Úvëa, which in the Quendi tongue means ‘Sorrow in Abundance.’ With the death of his wife he became a shadow of his former self and walked as a wraith among his people. Though he remained King, he often forsook the leadership of his kingdom, and allowed the council to rule in his stead. Oftentimes many would see him sitting on a rock at the base of the mountains staring up into the sky. The people said, ‘Thirmir Téamosyearns for Eyera Ithiel, yet they shall not meet again, unless it is beyond the confines of this world.’ King Thirmir did not often see his daughter, for her laughter only reminded him of his lost love.
Thus it was that Nyérë did not find comfort in the King’s hall, though she was a princess by birth. Many a time she wandered in the foothills of the Mornié Mountains, and King Thirmir did not restrain her. He reasoned that these mountains were safe, for by law none could enter or leave the kingdom. Thus it was that in time she found a hidden path up into the mountains. The path led to a vast lake that was fed by deep springs and the runoff of the mountains. In olden times the Elves had come to these shores to fish, for the lake was full of life, but they came no longer. Nyérë looked out upon the deep blue waters and named them Amanya, which means blessed. For it seemed to her that there was a deep serenity in this lake, and many times she would come to sit by its side and stare across its vast breadth. She would bring bread from the stoves of the Elves and cast crumbs upon the waters, and the birds and fishes would come to feed, so that in time they ate even from her hand.
She would also come to the lake to practice the throwing of Anqualë, her dagger. Anqualë was forged long ago by a great Eleven-smith from a fallen star, and it was said that no metal, rock, or armor was ever made that could not be pierced by its blade. Her father’s courtesans said that knife-lore was not for a princess to learn, but she defied them. Nyérë did not agree with the wisdom of her father, and thought that the Elves should not have abandoned their prowess at battle. For though one may not seek out evil, evil may still seek one out.
One day Nyérë came to Lake Amanya and sat long beside the waters in thought. She was so distraught that she did not notice the waters lapping at her dress or the approach of a stranger until he was nigh upon her. Then she looked up, and for the first time saw one that was not of her own kindred. Fear came into her face, and she stepped back, one hand on Anqualë, which lay in the folds of her skirt.
‘Who are you, errant knave,’ quoth she, ‘that you come upon a maiden unawares and alone in the hidden kingdom? For this perhaps my father will have your head, for he does not abide with the race of Men. The price for entry into Tumna Cálë is Death, and Death is our law. What say you, uncouth Man?’ For she thought that he was perhaps one of the Easterlings that had somehow escaped her father’s snares and come unawares into the Elvish realm.
The stranger smiled and mirth twinkled in his eyes. He was dressed in a dark blue robe, and wore a tall, pointed hat. A great brown beard sprung from his chin, and he held a staff in his left hand, much like one that a traveler might carry if they are going far distances. He bowed to the Elf lady, and spoke. ‘You say that I am of the race of Men, and that in a way is true. I am a Man and I am not a Man, but was sent into this world in part to serve the race of Men. And how do you know that I am a Man? Have you talked with a Man before? If that is true, then perhaps I should tell your father of this.’
Then Nyérë’s words were wroth, and she said, ‘How do you know of my comings and goings, and if I have ever met a Man? Do not speak in riddles, old fool! For if you are a Man, and I think that you are, then you have much to answer for. What is your name, and from whence do you come, and how do you know these things?’
‘My name is Alatar the Blue, and I come from far lands that you have no knowledge of. I have learned many things in my time, but knowing things does not mean that one is wise. I came to these waters because the fishes are my friends, but I knew also that you would come here, Nyérë Úvëa, daughter of the King. For tales of your great beauty travels far, even unto the end of the world.’
Then Nyérë was amazed that he knew her name, and was less wroth than before. For she saw that this odd creature was kind, and that he knew much of her and of her people. An unlooked-for joy in her heart was kindled at the meeting of this stranger, though she knew not why.
‘Well met, Alatar the Blue. If you are a traitor, then you shall soon feel the prick of my father’s sword. If not, and you are the bearer of good news, then perhaps my father will stay his hand.’ Then Alatar followed Nyérë down the secret paths into the town below.
Now it was that King Thirmir sat upon his carved throne of wood, and Alatar came before him and bowed low to the ground. He spoke with friendly words: ‘King Thirmir, Master and King of the realm of Tumna Cálë, I come before you seeking asylum in your peaceful land. I am Alatar the Blue, and my stance towards your people is ever peaceful. It is my wish that you grant me leave to wander the hills and slopes of these mountains, for I come on an errand that must not be hindered.’
‘Your wish!’ cried the King from atop his throne. ‘Your wish shall not be granted, conniving Man! How was it that you entered by stealth into this hidden kingdom, and did not knock at the door? How was it that you found my daughter alone in the mountains? How do I know that you have not laid some spell upon her, or wooed her ear with the treacherous guiles of Men? The Law of this land is Death to all who enter, and so shall it be with you!’
Then Alatar the Blue stepped forth in the glory of his master Oromë, Huntsman of the Valar, who had chosen and sent him into Middle-earth. A blue flame leapt into his eyes, and it seemed that his stature grew and his voice was filled with the authority of the Valar. Many who were there that day claimed that far off they heard the echo of Valaróma, the great horn of Oromë, and the braying of Nahar, his steed. Thus it was that all lowered their heads as Alatar of the Maiar spoke, and King Thirmir groveled on his throne.
‘I come on authority greater than yours, Thirmir son of Téamos of the Avari! For when your people first awoke under the light of the stars I had already wandered this wide land hither and thither, and explored its depths and hidden places. Where were you then, Thirmir son of Téamos, that you should hinder my errand? Perhaps the Dark Lord has worked his evil even here, that an emissary such as I do not gain welcome. Of olden times Men and Dwarves were welcome in these halls, and the people grew rich in knowledge as the three kindreds dwelt in peace, side by side.
‘Do you think that Sauron servant of Morgoth Bauglir will deign to let you live in peace? For while his power yet holds sway in Middle-earth he shall not rest until all the Free Peoples are cast down and trodden underneath his feet. Therefore my wish shall be granted, O King. Furthermore, I revoke your unjust commandment that has held these people as slaves to this land. For it was a decision that was made in errant folly, and not in wisdom, as you perceived.’
Then a silence fell upon the hall, and forever after Thirmir son of Téamos was a king in name only, for he had been robbed of his authority. And Nyérë herself was most taken of all, to see this old wanderer transform before her eyes. For he spoke with the voice of one who has true authority. Thus she said to herself, ‘Surely this Man, if he be a Man, is wont to do the will of the Valar. For I see in his eyes a goodness and justice that this world has not known in many an age.’ Though she was moved at the plight of her father, her heart was kindled towards Alatar, and her gaze did not leave his tall frame. Thereafter she did not rebuke him, but welcomed his comings and goings.
The Oracle of the Great Pike
It happened that in Lake Amanya there dwelt a great and old Pike who had darkened the deep places of the world ere any of the children of Illúvatar had awoken. Alatar as a Maia spirit had also walked the land in those days, and wandered by the lakes and streams and inlets of Middle-earth; for he had a love for those fishes that swam in the waters, and those birds that called the sandy beaches their homes. Thus when the great pike was yet a small fry in the vast waters of the deeps, Alatar had sought him out and called him friend.
Kyelek was the name of the Father of Pike, and Ulmo, Lord of the Waters, had christened him thus. For Ulmo said of Kyelek, ‘Thereafter thy name shall be Kyelek, the Swift, and thou shall roam the fresh waters of the lands of Middle-earth under the light of the stars. None shall be thy equal in speed or prowess, and thou shall be a fearsome predator. I give thee a gift, Kyelek the Swift, Father of Pike; for though thou art a beast and utter the speech of beasts, I grant thee leave to speak thrice in thy life with the tongues of Man, Elf, or Dwarf. Do not squander this gift, for of all the other beasts that have ever lived only one other has been given this privilege: and that is Huan the wolfhound, most beloved of all companions, whose fate is yet untold.’
Soon after Alatar had rebuked the King, he came back to Lake Amanya. For it was his thought that he might meditate there, before the calm waters, and perhaps devise what evil Sauron had sent to destroy the land. As he sat beside the lapping waters Kyelek the Swift, Father of Pike, forsook his deep abodes and rose to the surface of the lake. An old fish was he, and large in length and breadth, and marred with battle wounds, for he had dwelt in the waters of the world for many ages of the sun and stars.
And he spoke: ‘Thrice have I been given leave to speak in the tongues of Elves, Men, and Dwarves. This is the first time. Though many an age has passed, and the land has been formed anew, I remember thee, Alatar of the Maiar, and I recognize the presence of thy spirit, though then thou wast both terrible and fair. Thou hast ever been a friend to the fishes of this world, and to my children’s children. Therefore by the will of Ulmo I now tell thee what thou hast wished to know.
‘Of late these waters have been darkened with the filth and slime of Morgoth Bauglir. For thus Sauron the Dark Lord has released his servant Hauthmog the Cunning of the firedrakes to pillage this land and destroy its people. Be forewarned, Alatar the Blue: though thou art powerful, this worm may yet by thy match.’ Then Kyelek sunk beneath the surface once more, and returned to his domain.
This news troubled the Wizard, for he did not reckon that Sauron would send out such a powerful minion to the Kingdom of Tumna Cálë. He did not doubt the words of Kyelek the Swift, but with all his craft and lore he had not espied the dragon or signs of his passing. Thus Alatar thought that indeed a cunning spirit rested within Hauthmog. He left the side of the lake to search the mountains for signs of the worm, but was wary lest he come upon him unprepared.
It came to pass that once more Nyérë Úvëa came to meditate by the shores of Lake Amanya, and to escape the ministrations of her most ardent suitor, Fönin son of Falstag. Before, when she had met the Blue Wizard, it was likewise for this reason that she came to these waters. Nyérë did not love Fönin, though he was fair, for she counted him as ill-tempered and vain. Her father approved of the match, and when Fönin asked for Nyérë’s hand in marriage, he urged her to accept. She refused him, but Fönin did not grow lax in his attention. For Nyérë was the daughter of the King, and whoever married her would one day become Lord in Thirmir’s stead. The beauty of Nyérë Úvëa was renowned, for though she had come into the world in an hour of sorrow, her complexion was as of a flower blooming under the light of the stars. She was tall for an Elf maid, and her skin was milky white and fair. Her hair was raven black and her eyes were the blue of sparkling diamonds, and she carried herself with the grace of the daughters of the Noldor of old. Thus many stood by her side, though she would spend many hours alone weeping for her father and especially for her mother, whom she had never known. But when she did not weep, her mere presence would cause others near her to grow cheerful.
Nyérë was also known for her sorrowful voice. It is said that when she sang, the grief of all the woes of the Elves could be heard in her voice, and it had caused more than one stalwart Elf lord to weep. Often she would sit beside the waters of the lake, or in the foothills of the mountains, and she would sing. All the birds and fishes would come to listen, and the Elf maiden counted them as her friends. Thus now she sat beside the waters of Lake Amanya and sang to ease her troubled heart.
Beyond the twinkling of the moon, far from this dark abyss,
Past valleys deep, and hillocks fair, and mountains veiled in mist;
Over winding streams, and oceans deep, and Fangorn’s dark floor,
There lies in endless beauty fair the land of Valinor.
I long to go and dwell in this land of undying bliss,
To feel the warmth of Summer and forsake Winter’s cold kiss;
To wander in the gardens fair and climb the mountains steep,
To hear the flutes of brethren Elves and visit Manwë’s Keep.
O Valinor! Too long have I dwelt upon these bleak shores,
Beset by doubts, beleaguered and worn, weary of all wars.
O Valinor! I feel your breeze from the Shadowy Seas;
I hear the song of blissful birds from all your wooded leas.
To this place I must go, to join my sundered kindred there,
Though none may take me to this hallowed land so dear and fair!
Many times Kyelek the Swift would come to listen to the Elf maiden’s fair voice, and so he now drew near to hear her song. He revealed himself and Nyérë was amazed at his great size and strength. She did not fear him, though, for she was friends with all the fishes that dwelt in Lake Amanya. He heaved his bulk up from the water and spoke.
‘Thrice have I been given leave to speak in the tongues of Elves, Men, and Dwarves. This is the second time. I am Kyelek the Swift, Father of Pikes. I speak not with mine own wisdom, but with the wisdom of my masters, the Valar of Eä, servants of the will of Illúvatar. Long have I listened to thy song, Nyérë Úvëa, daughter of Thirmir. To these ears it is as beautiful as the songs of the Maiar and the Valar when they walked these lands; and there is an added depth that perhaps they lacked, for they cannot tell of the sorrow of those that have suffered in this Middle-earth.
‘But I do not speak thou praise alone. I come to give thee advice and to steer true thy heart. For well thou doest to think long on matters of the heart, for those who are immortal should not cleave unto one another unless they are bound soul to soul. If thou dost not love this Elf who seeks thy hand in marriage, then thou shouldst not marry. It is better to wait and hope than to enter into alliance with one who only seeks thy hand for power and glory.
‘By the powers of Ulmo I see thy heart laid bare, and know perhaps even that which thou dost not yet know thyself. Thou lovest the Wizard Alatar the Blue, friend of fishes, who with his staff shall perhaps save thee from ruin. There have been few unions among the different kindreds, and fewer still among the Maiar and the Eldar. I do not count the union of Elf and Man as wise, for either one must bear the long halls of eternity alone until the sundering of Eä, or both must be brief and fading flames in this world. But the union of Elf and Maia I count as good, for as the years pass neither shall grow old or weary, and their love may be ever renewed. Thus it was between Elu Thingol and Melian, and so could it be between Nyérë Úvëa and Alatar.’
Then Nyérë stood astonished, and did not know what to say. For though she was kind towards the Wizard, she did not yet think that she loved him with such a love, for she still thought of him as of the race of Men.
‘Great fish, strange are your words! Though this Wizard has stirred an unlooked-for kindness in my heart, I do not yet love him.’
‘Dost thou then know love? Whom hast thou loved? In his true guise Alatar the Maia is fairer than any Elf lord, and thou wouldst perhaps be a fool to defy the fates of Arda and deny thy heart. I go now to seek the depths of my domain, but I will tell thee one more thing before I depart. In the hour of Alatar’s need, look to thy own hand if perhaps thou might gainsay the courage to do so.’ Then he disappeared beneath the gently rolling waves and left the Elf maiden alone upon the shore.
From this time forth Nyérë gave much thought to the words that she had heard, but did not yet give in to all of the desires of her heart.
So it was that after a time Hauthmog the Cunning came forth in full might to taunt the Kingdom of Tumna Cálë. His bulk issued from among the caves and hidden places of the Mornié Mountains, and he flew seven times around the King’s city in a cloud of black smoke, and then returned to his lair. Then the courage of the people waned and all save one cast down their heads in fear. For Fönin son of Falstag stood among the assembly of the Elf lords and spoke.
‘Do we of Elven blood then cower at the feet of this dragon? We are many, and he is one. Let us then assail his lair and put his foul carcass to the sword. Indeed, in this hour I, and all that come with me, shall prove our worth in front of the King. And where now is this Alatar the Untrustworthy who came before our gates and pledged allegiance to our cause? In time of our greatest need, he has abandoned us.’
Then some hearkened to his call and a few brave Elves pledged troth to Fönin son of Falstag, and said, ‘Ere death we shall slay this fell beast, or he shall slay us.’ Now Fönin spoke against Alatar because he had shamed the King, and often he saw the gaze of Nyérë following this Wizard, and he was envious of him. He reasoned also that if it was by his hand that the dragon was slain, then the princess could no longer refuse his betrothal.
Then Elémdris son of Eléner spoke. He was old even by the reckoning of the elves, and was renowned as one of the most knowledgeable in history and lore. ‘Do not be over-hasty, Fönin son of Falstag. You know little of dragons and their ways. Few there are who can stand against the breath of the firedrakes, save for the metal helms of the Dwarf-lords. But since we have forsaken all ties with the other kindreds, we must face our plight alone. And it is not only by might that the great worms of Morgoth Bauglir have triumphed, but by cunning and treachery. Beware the dragon-spell, lest it fall upon you! For Men of more worth have fallen prey to a dragon’s cunning than you, Fönin son of Falstag.’
Then Fönin was extremely wroth and walked up and down the throne room with great strides. ‘Old fool!’ he said. ‘Pray continue to stick your nose in ancient parchments and scrolls, while Elves of true valor protect this kingdom! Let us depart at once, for a great task lies before us, and this scoffer would only hinder our errand.’
Fönin gathered his companions, and besides himself there were six others who pledged their swords to his cause. Then Fönin was glad, for he reckoned many of these to be the most stalwart and mighty among his brethren. He purposed to come upon the dragon by stealth, and slay him in his own lair while he yet slept. They departed in the waning of the evening, and it was Nyérë who guided them to the place of the secret path that led into the mountains, even though it was against her will. For Fönin had many times followed the Elf princess from a distance to keep watch over her, and whether for good or for ill he knew that she often left the leas of the foothills for higher ground. By edict of the King Nyérë was forced to show them the secret paths. When they had come to the region of the lake, Fönin turned to Nyérë and spoke.
‘Elf princess, when my eyes fall upon your beauty my whole being rejoices. Truly a portion of starlight is captured in your eyes, and the scent of your hair is sweeter than the gardens of Yavanna. You have thwarted my advances thus far, but know that when I succeed against this dragon, you may perhaps accept my love. I would be proud to serve as King, if you would stand by my side as Queen.’
Nyérë spoke. ‘Do not be a fool, Fönin son of Falstag! For though I do not love you, I would not see you die in vain. Seek first the council of Alatar the Blue, and perhaps he may aid you in your endeavor. Life is too long to throw it away in such a short time. Lessen your pride, and perhaps then you may achieve the victory.’
Fönin did not heed her words but drew her to himself and kissed her, though she struggled in his arms. The others around them stirred uneasily, for though Fönin was leader by edict of the king, they did not like what they saw. When Fönin released Nyérë, she fled down the hill in tears, and the Elf warriors averted their eyes in shame.
But Fönin gave a rousing speech, and said, ‘Let us proceed! For when the dragon is dead our kinsmen will rejoice and shower us with many gifts. There will be ale and food for the taking! And it may be that many an Elf maiden will pine after us for the deeds that we have done, we who are accounted among the mighty of this world.’ His words encouraged his companions, and they climbed until they came to the dragon’s dwelling-place.
The dragon dwelt in a series of dark caves, and all was dark within. Fönin commanded two other Elves to light lanterns so that they could find their way. They drew their swords and advanced through the caverns, cautious lest they awake the dragon.
Suddenly a great wind blew through the cavern, and the lanterns of the Elves were extinguished. For Hauthmog had seen their advance from afar, and waited until they were inside his lair. Then with the powerful beating of his wings he created a strong gale that put his foes in the dark.
Fönin commanded his companions to stay together, but none could hear his voice over the roar of the wind. Thus the companions were sundered, and thereafter it was never known what became of them. Some perhaps were killed by the dragon, and others fell in the dark places of the caves, and still others wandered in weariness seeking the light of day until their strength waned. But Fönin son of Falstag alone came to the dragon’s lair, whether by chance or by fate.
He could see nothing, and could only smell an unbearable stench. Then the dragon, which lay on a ledge above him, let a puff of flame and smoke rise from his nostrils, and Fönin saw his enemy.
‘Well met, Fönin son of Falstag,’ quoth the dragon. ‘Thou hast come to slay me, Hauthmog, last of the great firedrakes. Who now stays thy hand? Where art thy companions?’ Then Fönin was speechless, and he looked up at the dragon into his great eye and fell into a swoon. Many who were greater than he had tried to fight that baleful gaze, and had failed, as he did now. Under the spell of the dragon-eye he fell speechless, as one who is mute, and he could not move. Then Gauthmog mocked him, saying, ‘How easy is it to defeat the greatest servant of Sauron, Elf-lad? Thou knowest nothing of evil and its ways, and perhaps thou art even more a fool than thy king.’ Then Gauthmog heaved his bulk past the Elf and slithered out of the caves, leaving him frozen under the spell.
A Game of Riddles
Hauthmog the Cunning purposed to destroy the town and its inhabitants ere the light of day, but as of yet he knew nothing of the Blue Wizard. Thus as he flew down the mountain he espied a lone man standing at the edge of the lake, and he landed on a great boulder that was upthrust near the shore.
Now Alatar cast his gaze downward upon the sand, and would not look at the dragon or meet his gaze. For he knew of the dragon-spell, and did not wish to fall under it.
‘Well met, son of Man!’ quoth the dragon. ‘Thou art worth many of these Elves, who know not of my power and my strength. Who art thou, and from whence dost thou come?’
‘Well met, Hauthmog the Cunning of the firedrakes, spawn of Ancalagon the Black, servant of Sauron the Dark Lord. I am Alatar the Blue, and have come to fell the evil in these lands that has lingered with the stench of Morgoth Bauglir, the curséd one. And you shall not pass this lake, or harm the inhabitants of this city, lest my body be broken on these rocks and my spirit return to the lands beyond the four corners of this world.’
Then the dragon hissed, and a belch of smoke poured from his mouth. ‘Alatar the Blue! I have not heard of thee, but I see that thou art not of the race of Men, to make such claims. For many are the Men in these lands, and all have fallen under the dominion of my Lord and Master. But if thou must have death, then I shall give it to thee.’
Hauthmog might have then destroyed the Wizard, but Alatar held up his hand and spoke. ‘Do not move so quick to your doom, great worm! Oft times I have heard of your cunning, and it is said that even Glaurung and Smaug did not have your wit. Would it be not better if we were to solve this by a battle of wits? Then one of us would emerge victorious, and the other would be cast down into this lake to his doom.’
It is said that if dragons have a weakness other than gold, that it is pride. Therefore Hauthmog the Cunning lay his bulk back down upon the rock and pondered this challenge. ‘Thou wouldst try to battle me in a game of wits? I am not a fool, O Alatar the Mysterious. This battle of wits may be to my liking, but in direct combat I would ever be the victor. Nevertheless, let us then fight with our minds rather than with claw and steel, and perhaps thou may emerge the victor.
‘I shall pose to thee a riddle, and thou shall answer. Then thou shall get thy turn. Three times I shall pose a question, and three times thou wilt answer. And if thou dost not know the answer, thou wilt be cast down into the deeps. ’
‘Very well,’ Alatar said. ‘But why should you get the first riddle, and therefore be at an advantage?’
The dragon laughed, a great roaring laugh that shook the mountains. ‘Well met indeed, Alatar the Blue! Thou art no fool. The first riddle is mine because I have agreed to your game. I could eat thee where thy stand instead, if thou dost not think it fair.’
‘It is fair enough. Proceed, great worm,’ Alatar said. Then the dragon hissed his first riddle.
‘Its hide is strong,
Its spear is long;
Its tongue is dumb,
Its wit is numb.’
Alatar thought for a moment and then answered. “A cave-troll! You will have to do better than that to defeat a Wizard, dragon! Now answer my riddle.
‘Shadow, stench, and stone;
Rubbish, filth, and bone;
Silver, gold, and jade;
Mithril, helm, and blade.’
The dragon let loose a cloud of smoke and pondered the riddle. ‘A dragon-hoard!’ he answered. ‘Thou might mark something rubbish which to me is treasure. Perhaps I may yet make a dragon-hoard in this mountain, and use the plunder of the Elves. Now it is my turn, Alatar the Blue. This time, I shall truly test thy wit.’ Then the dragon spoke his second riddle.
‘Its teeth are jagged,
Its top is ragged,
Its tramp is loud,
Its carriage is proud.’
Then Alatar sat by the lake and ran a hand through his great beard. ‘This one is more difficult it seems, but not impossible. Is it an army marching to war?’
‘Yes,’ hissed the dragon.
‘Now you will answer my second riddle. Listen carefully, Hauthmog son of Ancalagon the Black, or you may soon meet your demise.
‘It eats and eats, but hungers still;
It has no life, harbors no will;
It does not hate, wishes none ill.’
The dragon lifted his bulk off of the stone and flapped his wings. He belched a narrow swath of flame into the air, and then landed again. ‘Thou had me for a moment, Wizard. It is a fire, whose appetite can never be sated or controlled. Now hearken to my third and final riddle, and see whether thou canst answer it.
‘What has white hair,
Is void of all air,
Down, down it goes,
Where, no one knows?’
‘It has white hair?’ Alatar muttered. “These are difficult words, dragon.’ Then he strode up and down the length of the shore while the dragon mocked him.
‘Surely this is an easy riddle, protector of the Elves. Thou hast no wit if thou canst not answer it.’ And the dragon made ready to cast the Wizard into the lake.
‘Aha!’ Alatar said. ‘The white hair is foam! The answer is the ocean.’ Then Hauthmog rent a deep furrow in the ground in rage, but Alatar lifted up his staff and spoke once more. ‘You have sworn to uphold this game to its end, fell dragon. It is time that I spoke my third and final riddle, and it is as follows.
‘A tool without handle, wheel, or blade;
For both poor and rich men is this thing made.’
The dragon sat a long while in thought, the smoke rising from his nostrils. Alatar watched him closely, holding his staff ready. Hauthmog finally reared his great armored body up and said, ‘This was a hard riddle, for I shall never have use of this thing. But it is a shoe, or boot, and now we meet a stalemate in our game, Wizard.’
Hauthmog drew his great body into the air, and released a vast swath of dragon-breath that scorched all of the land in-between him and the Wizard. But Alatar swept his staff upward and spoke words to the waters of the lake. Then a multitude of rushing water swirled in a torrent and met the fire in the air. A great volume of steam was released by this meeting of elements, and when it had cleared Alatar found that the dragon had circled around him.
Then Hauthmog the Cunning dove downward with great speed, and with his claws he rent a wound in Alatar’s side and knocked his staff from him. Then all would have perhaps been lost, and Hauthmog might have had the victory, but for the Elf-maid Nyérë Úvëa. For after leaving the ill-fated adventurers, she had circled around and came back to the lake.
Thus it was that Nyérë saw Alatar lying wounded on the ground without his staff, and the dragon coming around for the final assault. In that moment Nyérë remembered the words of the Great Pike, who said thus: ‘In the hour of Alatar’s need, look to thy own hand if perhaps thou might gainsay the courage to do so.’ Therefore she took Anqualë her dagger and ran towards the field of battle.
Now Hauthmog was wholly focused on the Wizard, and he did not see Nyérë running towards him. Thus Nyérë threw the dagger Anqualë at the belly of the great beast when he was above her, and fate guided her aim. For though the armor of dragons cannot be pierced by sword or axe, their belly is soft and may receive a wound. Then Hauthmog shrieked his death-cry when he felt the dagger enter his lungs, and fell from the sky as a burning star. It is said that those who heard the death-cry of the dragon would ever remember it, for in it was both suffering and evil that cannot be measured.
Then Nyérë ran to Alatar, who lay wounded upon the shore of Lake Amanya, and cradled his head in her lap. Great is the knowledge of healing lore of the Elves, and Nyérë had been trained some in that craft. Thus she cleaned Alatar’s wound, and wrapped it in a piece of cloth torn from her skirt. Then she also wept, and her tears fell into the wound. It is said that the tears of the Elf-maiden may also heal, for in their sorrow they hold a great power. Not far from there, in a wooded area, she found the plant Athelas, commonly called Kingsfoil, and she used this to drive away the darkness in the Wizard’s wound. For without this plant the wound would have rotted with the stench of the dragon, and Alatar would have died.
Then Nyérë would have gone to the dragon, and recovered her blade, but Alatar stopped her. For he said, ‘Beloved Elf-maiden, do not worry about the fate of your blade. For the black blood of dragons is poison, and it is better that both knife and victim go down to the grave together.’
Then Nyérë sat for a time beside the Wizard, and her gaze was both loving and kind. Alatar was amazed, both that she would look upon him thus and that she had slain the dragon. And he said, ‘You have slain the evil worm, Hauthmog the Swift. Where greater powers have failed, the power of your hand has conquered. Thus name anything, Nyérë Úvëa, and if it is in my authority to grant it to you as a boon, I shall do so.’
Then Nyérë said, ‘I require no boon save thy love, my lord. For it was out of love for thee that I slew this fell beast. Perhaps it was not my hand that guided the dagger, but fate’s.’ Then forever after the two were knit in one spirit.
While she tended Alatar, Kyelek the Swift once more rose to the surface of Lake Amanya, and spoke thus: ‘Thrice have I been given leave to speak in the tongues of Elves, Men, and Dwarves. This is the third and final time. Of all beings I perhaps know you both best, blessed of Maiar and Elves. For in the early days I was comforted with thy presence, Alatar the Blue of the Maiar. And long have I listened to thy song, Nyérë Úvëa of the Elves. Therefore I put my blessing upon thy house forever, so that no shadow of the woes of this world shall lie upon thee. Be blessed forevermore, until the sundering of this world.’ Having thus spoken, the pike swam back down to the depths of the lake.
Now Hauthmog lay for a time on the ground, but then his evil spirit departed and he lay dead. Thus it was that Fönin was released from the dragon-spell, and knew then how he had been shamed. Thinking that all the rest of his brethren must have been slaughtered, and the city ravaged along with Nyérë Úvëa, princess of the King, he cast himself into a deep hole. So ended Fönin son of Falstag, in part by the dragon’s guile, in part by his own hand.
Journey to the Undying Lands
For threescore days Nyérë Úvëa cared for Alatar the Blue, and was ever-faithful and stayed by him. Ever she wept or sung by his side, and her voice and tears helped to heal the Wizard of his wounds. They burned the body of the dragon and a foul stench arose from his carcass, and forever after no green thing would grow in that place. And when this time had passed, the Wizard was once again strong and hale. The Elves held a great feast, and Nyérë and Alatar were wed amidst great joy. Then the king and the other elders took council with Alatar, and he spoke to them.
‘These days are evil, and you must decide the fate of your people. For either you must join your standard to the cause of good in these lands, and fight against the evil of Sauron, or you must seek the light of Valinor, where most of your brethren now dwell. It is not decreed that Elves should stay in Middle-earth forever, for it has been given to the kindred of Men. But some Elves shall stand with Man ere the end, and whether they perish together or defeat the powers of evil in this world, I know not. But my task in this Middle-earth is finished. Therefore take council with your people, King Thirmir, and choose together what course you deem wise.’
Then all of the people gathered together, and the majority was for journeying to the Undying Lands. For they knew little of the plight of Men in this age, and did not wish to perish in that fight, as they thought. Then Alatar led the people of Tumna Cálë up out of the East, and they took only what they could carry with them. He guided them through the deep, dark places of the world, beyond the gaze of Sauron, and the journey was not without peril. For it is told of how King Thirmir son of Téamos perished in an earthquake, and some of his people with him.
But after a long journey under mountains and across seas, the Elves came at last to Valinor, and were welcomed in that land. Alatar the Blue then took on his true form, of a pure and mighty Maia spirit strong in wisdom and in kindness, and lived in peace and love with Nyérë Úvëa, daughter of the Elves, until the sundering of Eä.
Thus ends our tale