Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor
Middle-earth remained under the evil influence of Melkor while the Valar stay safe in Aman. Melkor gathered to him other corrupted creatures in Utumno and built a stronghold in northern Beleriand called Angband, where Sauron was made commander. During this time, however, all was not forsaken, and Yavanna and Oromë continued to visit Middle-earth, and they encouraged their peers to make war against Melkor, in preparation for the arrival of the Elves.
It was told by Mandos, though, that the Elves would awaken under the stars, and so Varda made new and brighter formations of stars in the sky to give light to Middle-earth and serve as warning to Melkor. Shortly after she finished her task, the Elves awakened by Cuiviénen and beheld first the light of the stars.
Sometime after, Oromë rode into the eastern realms of Middle-earth and heard the sound of singing and came upon the Elves. He went to them and many fled, afraid, but the most noble among them took courage and—seeing the light of Aman in his face—approached him and discovered him to be benevolent.
It is believed, however, that by Melkor’s watchfulness, he was the first of the Ainur to become aware of the Elves, and many of them he captured and took to his prisons, where they were made into the first Orcs. He also spread rumors of Oromë, telling the Elves that they should fear him, and for this reason, many fled from him and were also captured by Melkor.
When Oromë brought news of the Elves’ arrival to the other Valar, they rejoiced and decided to make war against Melkor. The siege of Utumno was terrible, and many of the lands were damaged and reshaped, and even the Elves perceived the shaking of the earth and the light of fires to the north. At last, Melkor was wrestled to the ground by Tulkas and bound in chains and taken to judgment in Valinor, where it was decided that he would abide in the halls of Mandos for three ages.
The Valar did not discover all of the depths of Angband and Utumno, and many foul creatures remained there or fled from the siege; nor did they find Sauron, and so evil—while lessened—remained in Middle-earth.
The Valar then sat in council again, deciding what to do about the Elves. Many of the Valar desired the fellowship of the Elves and to keep them safe and wished to bring them to Valinor; others opposed. At last, the final decision was made to summon the Elves to Valinor, and of this decision, much grief would arise.
The Elves, though, having seen nothing of the Valar save their aggression, were reluctant to heed the summons, and so Oromë invited three ambassadors—Ingwë, Finwë, and Elwë—to come with him to Valinor. Enamored by the light of Valinor and the splendor of those lands, the three ambassadors convinced many of the Elves to follow them to Aman.
Nonetheless, all could not be convinced, and some remained behind or forsook the journey along the way. Those who did journey to Valinor were then sundered into three groups: the Vanyar, under the guidance of Ingwë, King of all the Eldar; the Noldor, behind Finwë their king; and the Teleri, the largest and most reluctant host, who followed Elwë. These Elves are called the Eldar or the Calaquendi (Elves of light), while those who remained behind are the Moriquendi (Elves of darkness).
The journey of the Elves to Valinor was long and tedious, for there was no road and many of the Elves remained fearful and reluctant, and when Oromë on occasion had to leave them, they would stop until he returned to guide them. Eventually, the host reached the Anduin and the Misty Mountains—lifted to terrible heights by Melkor to hinder the riding of Oromë—and the Teleri dallied long on the shores of the Anduin and became separated from the Noldor and Vanyar, who were more eager to follow Oromë. Some of the Teleri remained at the Anduin and became the Nandor, but Elwë eventually led the majority of his people over the Misty Mountains and, from there, northward into Beleriand.