Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin

Tuor was the son of Rían and Huor—who was slain in the Battle of Unnumbered Tears—and fostered by Annael of the Gray Elves. When Tuor was sixteen years old, the Elves set out for Sirion from Androth but were ambushed by Orcs and Easterlings, and Tuor was taken as a slave. After three years, he escaped and returned to Androth and inflicted enough harm on the Easterlings that a price was set on his head.

Ulmo had chosen Tuor, though, to carry out his plans, and Tuor shortly felt a drive to depart from his home and went to Nevrast, the land that had been inhabited by Turgon’s people before they moved to Gondolin. His leaving was marked by no one, and he dwelt in Nevrast until seven swans appeared in the sky, and he knew them a sign and followed them to the halls of Vinyamar, finding the sword and armor that Turgon had left there on the word of Ulmo. Taking these items, he went down to the sea, and Ulmo appeared to him and told him to go to Gondolin, giving him a cloak that would hide him from his enemies.

Tuor also met Voronwë there, who alone of the mariners that Turgon had sent to try to reach Valinor had been spared by Ulmo and washed ashore at Vinyamar. Hearing Tuor’s tale, he agreed to lead him to Gondolin.

On their journey there, they also spied from afar the movements of a tall man clad in black and carrying a black sword: Túrin Turambar.

They reached the gates of Gondolin and were taken as prisoners, but when Tuor revealed the armor and sword he’d found in Vinyamar, it was known that he’d been sent by Ulmo, and he was taken to Turgon, who was then High King of the Noldor. Speaking the words of Ulmo, he warned Turgon that all works of the Noldor would soon be destroyed, and he should depart Gondolin and save his people.

But Turgon was proud and trusted the strength and secrecy of his city. Maeglin also spoke against Tuor, and because his words were what Turgon wished to hear, they seemed to carry an extra weight, and Turgon rejected the plea of Ulmo. Fear of treachery, though, was also awakened in his heart, and the city was shut completely from the world beyond, its entire people forbidden to leave on any errand of war or peace. News came now only from Thorondor, Lord of the Eagles, of the fall of Nargothrond and the ruin of Doriath, but Turgon shut his ears and heart to this.

Tuor remained in Gondolin, and he and Idril, the daughter of Turgon, fell in love, and after seven years, Turgon gave them permission to marry. This caused Maeglin to hate Tuor all the more, for he desired Idril—Turgon’s only heir—for himself. In the spring of the year after, Idril and Tuor’s son Eärendil was born, a beautiful child with the wisdom of the Eldar and the strength of Men, to whom the sea spoke.

Times were joyful then in Gondolin, but Húrin had—unbeknownst to the people of Gondolin—revealed something of their location when he cried to Turgon in his despair, and Morgoth began to concentrate his thoughts on those mountains where his servants could not go because of the vigil of the Great Eagles. Idril, who was wise and had far sight, felt a shadow of dread then, and in secret, she prepared a way out of the city.

At this time, Maeglin—in defiance of Turgon—went beyond the leaguer of the hills and was taken captive by Orcs. Threatened with torment, he revealed the location of Gondolin to Morgoth, and Morgoth promised him kingship of Gondolin and possession of Idril, should his plots succeed, which made him more willing in his treachery. Maeglin was returned then to Gondolin, and the foreboding upon Idril deepened.

When Eärendil was seven years old, the attack of Morgoth finally came on a morning of festival, when all of the citizens of Gondolin were upon the walls to welcome the rising of the sun. With Balrogs, Orcs, wolves, and dragons, the city was overtaken, and many great deeds of valor were done, but the tower of the King fell and Turgon with it.

Maeglin had taken Idril and Eärendil, and Tuor fought with him and cast him off of the walls of the city and into the fire below. Gathering what they could of their people, Idril and Tuor led them to the secret passageway that Idril had prepared of which Morgoth knew nothing, aided by the cover from the smoke of battle. They had to climb high and treacherous passages through the mountains and were there assailed by Orcs with a Balrog. Glorfindel fought the Balrog, and both fell into the abyss and were killed, but the Great Eagles drove back the Orcs and Thorondor bore up Glorfindel’s body, and he was buried beneath a mound where golden flowers always grew.

Tuor led the remnants of the people of Gondolin to Sirion, where they were joined also by the refugees from the destruction of Doriath, including Elwing, the daughter of Dior the king. Ereinion Gil-Galad, the son of Fingon, was named High King of the Noldor.

Morgoth thought then that he was successful, that what remained of the Elves was no threat to him, and Ulmo begged the Valar on behalf of the Elves, asking that they be forgiven and aided in their fight against Morgoth. But it is said that only one speaking on the behalf of Elves and Men could have persuaded Manwë, and the hour for the Valar to lend their assistance had not yet come.

Feeling old age upon him, Tuor felt the sea-longing growing in his heart, and he built a great ship and sailed with Idril into the west, and no tales came of them again. But Tuor’s fate was sundered from that of mortal Men, and he was joined to the Noldor, whom he loved.

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