Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin
Fingolfin, High King of the Noldor, desired to test the Noldorin strength again against Morgoth, feeling that the peace would not last, but while the sons of Fëanor, Angrod, and Aegnor supported his wish, the people were not convinced, desiring the peace to last upon the land. But Morgoth had wrought designs in secret, and after many centuries of peace, poured forth smoke and fire from Thangorodrim and many Noldor perished in the onslaught of fire. As well, the land of Ard-galen was utterly destroyed and the slopes of Dorthonion and Ered Wethrin that faced Angband were burned, causing confusion in the thick smoke.
The fourth battle, the Battle of Sudden Flame (Dagor Bragollach) broke the leaguer around Angband, and many Noldor, Sindar, and Men were slain; others fled to the south of Beleriand, Doriath, and Nargothrond; others crossed the Blue Mountains entirely. Angrod and Aegnor were slain in the battle and Finrod Felagund nearly so, but he was saved by Barahir of Bëor’s house. In his gratitude, Finrod swore an oath of friendship and aid in every need, giving to Barahir a ring as proof.
Also killed was Hador, lord of Dor-lómin, and his son, and while Hithlum could not be conquered, Fingolfin was sundered from his kinsmen. Of the sons of Fëanor, only Maedhros held his land, doing deeds of great valor upon Himring, although all seven sons lived. Later, the most valiant among Elves and Men would return to Himring and guard the northern road. Himlad was overrun and Celegorm and Curufin fled to Nargothrond to take shelter with Finrod Felagund.
When news came to Fingolfin of the loss of Angrod and Aegnor and the defeat of the sons of Fëanor, he believed the battle lost for the Noldor and rode for alone to the gates of Angband, challenging Morgoth to single combat. This was the last time that Morgoth would pass his gates, for he alone of the Valar knew fear, but after being called a coward by Fingolfin, he agreed to the duel and came forth. He tried to crush the Noldorin king with Grond, Hammer of the Underworld, but Fingolfin always leaped clear and wounded Morgoth seven times, and seven times Morgoth cried in anguish, dismaying the hosts of Angband.
But Fingolfin wearied and stumbled into one of the pits that Grond had made and Morgoth put his foot upon the King’s throat. But with his last effort, Fingolfin cut the foot of Morgoth. After Fingolfin died, Morgoth sought to cast his body to his wolves, but Thorondor of the Great Eagles swept down and marred Morgoth’s face and carried Fingolfin’s body to a mountain overlooking Gondolin, where Turgon built a cairn over the body of his father. Fingon then took the high kingship and sent his youngest son Gil-Galad to the relative safety of the Gray Havens. The pain of Morgoth’s wounds would not heal and he went lame in one foot with scars upon his face.
Barahir held Dorthonion against Morgoth until all but twelve of his men were slain; those who remained included Beren his son, two nephews, and nine servants. They were hunted like beasts and hid among the moors of the region, as far from Morgoth as they could. The women and children had followed Elmeldir, wife of Barahir, to Brethil, amid great loss.
Two years after the Battle of Sudden Flame, Sauron—the chief servant of Morgoth—drove Orodreth for from Minas Tirith upon the River Sirion and made the watchtower and its island foul, afterwards called the Isle of Werewolves (Tol-in-Gaurhoth). Orodreth fled to Nargothrond and his brother Finrod Felagund.
Morgoth’s servants wandered Beleriand and captured many of the Elves or spread lies between them. Morgoth tried to ensnare Men with lies and pity, though few of the Three Houses of Edain would listen to him. At this time, the Swarthy Men came into Beleriand; many were already servants of Morgoth. Maedhros forged friendship with their two leaders, Bór and Ulfang, which was just as Morgoth intended.
The Haladin meanwhile guarded the forests of Brethil and—with the help of Beleg Strongbow and the strength of the Sindar—secured that region and Nargothrond behind it. Dwelling with the Haladin were Húrin and Huor, and though they were young, they went into battle with the Orcs and would have been killed but for the protection of Ulmo. Under the cover of mist, they wandered to the Crissaegrim and knew not how to return; Thorondor of the Great Eagles then bore them into the hidden city of Gondolin. Turgon welcomed them and they learned much of the Elves, and Turgon desired to keep them there, not only for his law, but also for love.
Huor and Húrin, though, desired to return and fight alongside their people, and because they had not seen the way to Gondolin—borne high in the air with their eyes veiled—and knew not its exact location, then Turgon allowed Thorondor to bear them back as they came, though he grieved their loss. Maeglin, however, was glad to see them go, though he took care to remind them of their fortune, for the law decreed that they remain in Gondolin until their deaths. They both swore oaths to him then to keep secret all that they had seen and learned in the last year, and when they returned to their people, kept their oath and would not speak of Gondolin, though many of their people discerned where they had been and eventually the tale reached Morgoth’s ears.
When Turgon learned of the breaking of the Siege of Angband, he would not send his armies forth, knowing that Gondolin was strong but not yet ready to be revealed. He did send ships and mariners in secret into the West, to ask the Valar for pardon and aid, but none could navigate the enchanted seas into the hidden realm of Valinor, and few returned from their attempt.
Morgoth heard of these things, and he feared Finrod Felagund and Turgon for he knew them to be alive yet not where they had gone or the strength of their realms. Of Turgon and Gondolin, he knew the least and so feared them more. The strength of the Noldor was returning, and with the help of Men, they were recovering the lands that they had lost to Morgoth. Morgoth recovered the main hosts of his Orcs and sent spies abroad, trying to regain his strength.
Seven years after the fourth battle, Orcs assaulted Hithlum and killed Galdor, lord of Dor-lómin and might have overtaken Fingon’s army as well if the ships of Círdan did not sail up the Firth of Drengist in the hour of the Noldorin need, driving back the Orcs to be pursued by Fingon’s archers to the Iron Mountains.
Húrin was then the lord of Dor-lómin and the head of the House of Hador, and he wed Morwen, who had escaped with Elmeldir to Brethil. The outlaws living in Dorthonion had been killed by this time save one: Beren son of Barahir, who escaped and came to Doriath.