“We come to it at last … the Great War of our time”
Believe it or not, we’ve come to the end of the ‘Quenta Silmarillion’ account that brings with it the end of the First Age.
Cataclysmic events are about to unfold and one of the greatest characters in Middle-earth will make his introduction.
Chapter 24 – Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath
With the disastrous events at the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, and the fall of Doriath and Gondolin, factions of Elves, Men and Dwarves are scattered across the vast lands of Beleriand. With their strength severely weakened, Morgoth prepares for his final assault before claiming certain victory.
Eärendil, son of Tuor and Idril, becomes a skilled mariner under the supervision of Cirdan the Shipwright. As the years lengthen and the threat of Morgoth increases, he decides to carry out what many others have failed to do: sail the Great Sea into the West and seek help from the Valar.
Building his ship, Vingilot, he sets sail together with Elwing, his wife, and three other companions. Battling the seas, but destined to do so, he arrives on the shores of Aman. Alone, he heads inland into Valinor where he pleads to the Valar for help and succour from the suffering of the people in Beleriand.
Eärendil’s request is granted, but he himself must never return to mortal lands. He is set within Vingilot to traverse and guard the skies, and bear a Silmaril on his forehead like a shining star in the night sky: as a sign of hope to all inhabitants in Arda.
Meanwhile, a large host under Eonwë – herald of Manwë – passes over into Beleriand and wages a cataclysmic war that scars and alters the geography of the lands. Mountains are destroyed, valleys widened and cracks and fissures rip the ground apart, as countless armies under Morgoth battle the hosts of the Valar.
The War of Wrath
In the final moments of the War of Wrath, Morgoth unleashes Ancalagon, the mightiest dragon to ever live. Eärendil challenges the dragon to an intense and prolonged combat, where the Mariner finally slays Ancalagon and destroys the fortress of Thangorodrim in its fall.
Most of the dark lord’s hosts and servants are destroyed, while others flee to the East. Morgoth himself is taken captive and thrust into the Void through the Door of Night, where Eärendil’s vigilance never ceases.
Eärendil battles Ancalagon
The remaining two Silmarils end up lost; one is thrown into the Great Sea and the other consumed by the Earth.
The end of the First Age brings about the destruction of Beleriand and victory for the Valar and the Free Peoples of Arda.
Now when first Vingilot was set to sail in the seas of heaven, it rose unlocked for, glittering and bright; and the people of Middle-earth beheld it from afar and wondered, and they took it for a sign, and called it Gil-Estel, the Star of High Hope. And when this new star was seen at evening, Maedhros spoke to Maglor his brother, and he said: ‘Surely that is a Silmaril that shines now in the West?’
And Maglor answered: ‘If it be truly the Silmaril which we saw cast into the sea that rises again by the power of the Valar, then let us be glad; for its glory is seen now by many, and is yet secure from all evil.’ Then the Elves looked up, and despaired no longer; but Morgoth was filled with doubt.