Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath
Eärendil, the son of Idril and Tuor, was the lord of the people at Sirion, and he married Elwing, the daughter of Dior who had escaped the attack of the Fëanorions at Doriath, and they had two sons called Elrond and Elros. With the help of Círdan, Eärendil built a ship called Vingilot and with it went on many journeys, always seeking to find his parents Idril and Tuor or to reach the western shore and plea with the Valar for help. Elwing did not go with him and sorrowed on the shores of Beleriand, and Eärendil was confounded by the enchantments set around Valinor. With dread in his heart, he set to return to Beleriand.
Elwing still held the Silmaril that had caused the deaths of both Thingol and Dior, and though Maedhros—repenting of his oath—left her in peace for a while, soon the oath returned to haunt the remaining four brothers, and they sent letters of friendship but with stern demands that the Silmaril be returned. Believing that the blessings upon them were because of the Silmaril and with their lord Eärendil at sea, they refused, and the Fëanorions marched on Sirion and executed the third kinslaying. Sirion was destroyed and two of the Fëanorion brothers also killed—leaving only Maedhros and Maglor—and the few survivors went to live with Círdan and Gil-galad on Balar, telling the tale that Elrond and Elros had been taken captive and Elwing with the Silmaril had cast herself into the sea.
Elwing was borne out of the sea by Ulmo and given the form of a bird with the Silmaril upon her breast, and she flew to Eärendil returning upon his ship. They grieved for the destruction of Sirion and the capture of their sons, believing that they would be slain, but Maglor pitied them and fostered them as his own, and love grew between them.
With the Silmaril bound to his brow, Eärendil, Elwing, and his three loyal mariners sailed into the west, passed the enchantments of Valinor, and he set foot first of all mortal Men upon the western shores. His companions, he bade to stay behind, preferring to bear alone the wrath of the Valar. But Elwing would not allow them to be parted and leapt from the ship to run after him. He allowed her with him, but when they reached the pass of Calcirya, he went forth alone, for it was his fate to do so. He had come to Valinor on a day of festival, and many Elves did not remain in Tirion, but those that kept guard on its walls went with haste to Valimar, seeing the Silmaril. Finding Tirion deserted, Eärendil feared that evil had come even to the Blessed Realm, and he turned back for the sea.
But Eonwë, the herald of Manwë, came to him then and bade him to come before the Valar. Before them, Eärendil pled for forgiveness for the Noldor and pity and aid for Men and Elves both, and the Valar sat in counsel, and it was Manwë’s decision that Eärendil's prayer be granted, but that he and Elwing should never walk again in Middle-earth and—being half-Elven both—would have to choose to be counted among one of the kindreds, either Men or Elves. On their sons, this choice would also fall. Elwing chose to be among the Elves because of Lúthien and Eärendil chose the same, not wishing to be parted from her, though his heart lay more with the kindred of Men. The three mariners of Eärendil were given a boat and borne back to the east upon a strong wind, and Vingilot was hallowed and passed through the Door of Night and into the heavens.
Alone upon Vingilot, Eärendil journeyed, appearing as a star in the heavens with the Silmaril upon his brow. Elwing was given a tower, and she learned the language of the seabirds and they taught her to fly, and when Eärendil on occasion returned to Valinor, she rose to meet him.
In the east, the new star was seen by all and the Elves were given hope, naming the star Gil-Estel (the Star of High Hope). Morgoth was filled with doubt, but in his pride, he never expected anyone to come against him again in open battle, and he believed that he’d sundered the Noldor forever from the Valar, who would be content to sit in paradise and do nothing. But the Valar came with the Vanyarin Elves and the Noldor who had stayed in Valinor. The Teleri would not go, but they listened to the pleas of Elwing—who through Dior was of their blood—and sent mariners enough to sail into the east, though none would step from the ships and onto land.
The armies of the west and the armies of the north met upon Anfauglith, and the whole north was aflame with war. None of the Elves of Middle-earth marched in that battle, but those remaining of the three Houses of the Edain did and so gained vengeance for the cruelties done by Morgoth to their ancestors. Some of the Men of the east—possibly the same who had betrayed Maedhros at the Battle of Unnumbered Tears—fought on the side of Morgoth, and the Elves would never forget it.
Most of the Balrogs were destroyed—though some fled to deep recesses in the earth—as well as most of the Orcs. As a last effort, Morgoth unleashed dragons, and the host of the Valar was driven back. But Eärendil came from the sky upon Vingilot with the birds—Thorondor of the Great Eagles their captain—and there was a battle in the air that ended in the morning, when Eärendil slew the Ancalagon the Black, the greatest of the dragons, and his falling body crushed the at last the towers of Thangorodrim. Soon, little was left of Morgoth’s realm except for Morgoth, hiding in the deeps of Angband.
Morgoth fled to the depths of the earth and sued for pardon, but he was captured and the Silmarils taken by Eonwë and his iron crown beaten into a collar for his neck, bound again with the great chain Angainor. The captives of Angband were released. So great had been the force of battle that the sea flooded some places, the courses of rivers were changed, hills crushed, and valleys raised in upheaval.
Eonwë summoned the Elves of Beleriand to leave Middle-earth, but Maedhros and Maglor would not answer the summons, for Eonwë held the Silmarils and their oath still haunted them. They sent a message to Eonwë, but Eonwë claimed that their ruthless deeds had nullified their claim, and the Silmarils must go into the west. Maglor—being wearied and saddened—wished to answer Eonwë’s summons and stand judgment before the Valar, but he was persuaded by Maedhros. Disguised, they crept into Eonwë’s camps and slew the guards and stood alone against all of the camp, prepared to die for their treasure. But Eonwë let them escape, and each took a Silmaril.
Maedhros’s Silmaril burned his hand with unbearable pain, and he knew that his deeds had indeed voided his right to his father’s heirloom. He cast himself and his Silmaril into a fiery chasm.
Maglor also could not bear the pain of his Silmaril, but his he cast into the depths of the sea, and he wandered ever after upon the shores of Middle-earth, singing in lament.
The Elves of Beleriand were pardoned by the Valar and the Teleri whom they’d wronged long ago, and the curse of Mandos was laid to rest. The newcomers dwelt upon the island Tol Eresseä. Some of the Elves remained in Middle-earth, though: Círdan, Galadriel and Celeborn, Gil-galad and Elrond with him, who had chosen to be counted among the Elves. His brother Elros chose to be counted among Men.
Morgoth was tossed into the Timeless Void beyond the Doors of Night and a guard set around him, including the watchful eye of Eärendil. While his realm had been destroyed, the hatred that he’d sowed in the hearts of Elves and Men both had taken root, and that would never die.