Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad
Beren and Lúthien returned to Middle-earth as mortals, and Lúthien healed Thingol, but Melian was grieved, perceiving her daughter’s fate. They left Doriath then and dwelt upon an island in Ossiriand, where their son Dior was born, and they were never seen again.
The tale of Beren and Lúthien reached Maedhros in Himring, and he perceived that Morgoth was weak and formed the Union of Maedhros with Elves from all realms, Men, and Dwarves. But the Oath of Fëanor and the actions of Celegorm and Curufin proved in part their undoing, for Orodreth would not march at the word of any son of Fëanor and Thingol—having been threatened for his possession of the Silmaril—refused also to serve Maedhros, and few from those realms came, marching under the banners of Fingon the High King.
Under the Union of Maedhros, the northern lands were at last cleared of Orcs, but Morgoth was warned also of the assault of the Union, and he sent forth many spies among the Men allied with Maedhros. Maedhros planned to march out openly upon Anfauglith and draw forth the armies of Morgoth. Then, from the west, Fingon’s army would emerge, upon the lighting of a great beacon upon Dorthonion.
Fingon knew that the challenge had been accepted by the black smoke rising from Angband, but he could not perceive Maedhros’s forces and did not know that they’d been waylaid by the treachery of Uldor, claiming that Morgoth intended to assault them in Himring. Fingon was doubtful, but his fears were assuaged by the surprise arrival of his brother Turgon and his army from Gondolin.
By this time, a camouflaged host from Angband was well on its way to Hithlum, and the Noldorin captains wished to assault the Orcs upon the plain, but Húrin bade them to wait, not trusting Morgoth. The lighting of the beacon, signaling the readiness of Maedhros, did not come. The Captain of Morgoth had been commanded to draw out Fingon’s army in whatever way possible, but they would not come before the lighting of the beacon. Finally, the Orcs brought forth Gelmir, a lord of Nargothrond taken captive during the Bragollach, and cut off his hands, feet, and head last, claiming to do the same to other captives upon their return. Before them waited Gwindor of Nargothrond, the brother of Gelmir, and his rage was kindled, and he rode forth with many riders, and Fingon’s army was at last released. Their strength was great, and they came even to the stairs of Angband before they were stopped and all the host of Nargothrond slain save Gwindor, who was taken.
Fingon’s host was forced to retreat, and most of the Men of Brethil were slain. The host of Gondolin—who had been restrained—came to their aid, and Turgon and Fingon met with joy, even in the midst of battle. At last, the host of Maedhros arrived as well, and Morgoth unleashed his full strength. But it was the treachery of Men who proved the undoing of the Noldor, for Uldor turned on the sons of Fëanor in the midst of battle, and they were assaulted from three sides, escaping with a remnant of Elves and Dwarves into the east.
The last of the eastern force to remain were the Dwarves of Belegost, for they withstood the fire of the dragons better than the Elves, and their lord Azaghâl wounded Glaurung of the dragons and caused his retreat. But he was slain in the attack, and the Dwarves bore away his body, singing a dirge, and none dared hinder them.
The force that then attacked Fingon and Turgon was three times the size of what remained to them, and Fingon found himself faced with Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs, with his guard dead around him, and Fingon was slain. At the bidding of Húrin, Turgon returned to Gondolin, for as long as Gondolin survived, Morgoth would have reason to fear. Tuor predicted then that of Turgon’s line and his, a new star would rise; this was overheard by Maeglin. The Elves retreated then, but the Men of Dor-lómin remained and would not stand aside and lose their homes. From this, the treachery of Uldor redressed the race of Men. They fought until they came to the stream of Rivil and would go no further. Huor was slain and his men around him; Húrin was taken alive, even as he hewed the arms of his captors.
Morgoth had triumph then, for he’d not only won but done so through treachery, creating fear between Elves and Men, save the Three Houses of the Edain. The realm of Fingon was gone, and none who marched beneath his banner or for the House of Hador returned. The sons of Fëanor were scattered and lived wild in Ossiriand. Morgoth shut the Easterlings into Hithlum, denying them their prize for treachery, to plunder and torment the remnants of Hador’s people. The remaining Eldar there he took for thralls, to work in the mines, except for those who eluded him and fled to the wild.
Orcs and wolves passed freely through Beleriand, and many Elves fled to the Havens. But the Havens were laid in ruin, and the only Elves to escape did so by sea, including Gil-Galad, who had been sent by his father Fingon to the Havens. Those to escape took refuge on the Isle of Balar. The others were enslaved.
Turgon sought Círdan’s aid, and they sent seven ships with messengers from Gondolin into the west, to plead with the Valar for help. Of these seven, only one returned: He was called Voronwë, and he was saved by Ulmo from the wrath of Ossë and borne to the safety of the shore at Nevrast.
Morgoth’s fear and wrath were now directed toward Turgon, for he’d always felt that from Turgon, his ruin would come. Húrin was brought before Morgoth, but Húrin would not reveal the location of Gondolin and mocked Morgoth, and so Morgoth cursed him and his wife Morwen and all of their offspring; he bound Húrin to a chair high upon Thangorodrim, where he could watch the curse unfold, but Húrin never humbled himself to ask for death or mercy, for himself or for his kin.
On order of Morgoth, the dead were gathered and piled into a high hill upon Anfauglith, but alone of Anfauglith, grass grew upon that hill, and the servants of Morgoth never dared to tread upon it again.