12. Turambar and the Foalókë (pt. 2)

Therefore in the end did both mother and daughter make them ready for that sore journey, and the guides murmured much thereat. Yet it so happened that the season which followed that bitter winter was very kindly, and despite the forebodings of the guides the four passed the hills and made their long journey with no greater evils than hunger and thirst. Coming therefore at length before Tinwelint Mavwin cast herself down and wept, begging pardon for Turin and compassion and aid for herself and Nienori; but Tinwelint bade her arise and seat herself beside Gwedheling his queen, saying: "Long years ago was Turin thy son forgiven, aye, even as he left these halls, and many a weary search have we made for him. No outlawry of mine was it that took him from this realm, but remorse and bitterness drew him to the wilds, and there, methinks, evil things o'ertook him, or an he lives yet I fear me it is in bondage to the Orcs." Then Mavwin wept again and implored the king to give her aid, for she said: "Yea verily I would fare until the flesh of my feet were worn away, if haply at the journey's end I might see the face of Turin son of Urin my well-beloved." But the king said that he knew not whither she might seek her son save in Angamandi, and thither he might not send any of his lieges, not though his heart were full of ruth for the sorrow of Urin's folk.

Indeed Tinwelint spoke but as he believed just, nor meant he to add to Mavwin's sorrow save only to restrain her from so mad and deadly a quest, but Mavwin hearing him spake no word more, and going from him went out into the woods and suffered no one to stay her, and only Nienori followed her whithersoever she went. Now the folk of Tinwelint looked with pity on those twain and with kindness, and secretly they watched them, and unbeknown kept much harm from them, so that the wandering ladies of the woods became familiar among them and dear to many, yet were they a sight of ruth, and folk swore hatred to Melko and his works who saw them pass. Thus came it that after many moons Mavwin fell in with a band of wandering Gnomes, and entering into discourse with them the tale was told to her of the Rodothlim, such as those Gnomes knew of it, and of the dwelling of Turin among them. Of the whelming of that abode of folk by the hosts of Melko and by the dragon Glorund they told too, for those deeds were then new and their fame went far and wide. Now Turin they named not by name, calling him Mormakil, a wild man who fled from the face of Tinwelint and escaped thereafter from the hands of the Orcs.

Then was the heart of Mavwin filled with hope and she questioned them more, but the Noldoli said that they had not heard that any came alive out of that ransacking save such as were haled to Angamandi, and then again was Mavwin's hope dashed low. Yet did she nonetheless get her back to the king's halls, and telling her tale besought his aid against the Foalókë. Now it was Mavwin's thought that perchance Turin dwelt yet in the thraldom of the dragon and it might fall to them in some manner to liberate him, or again should the prowess of the king's men suffice then might they slay the worm in vengeance for his evils, and so at his death might he speak words of knowledge concerning the fate of Turin, were he indeed no longer nigh the caverns of the Rodothlim. Of the mighty hoard that that worm guarded Mavwin recked little, but she spake much of it to Tinwelint, even as the Noldoli had spoken of it to her. Now the folk of Tinwelint were of the woodlands and had scant wealth, yet did they love fair and beauteous things, gold and silver and gems, as do all the Eldar but the Noldoli most of all; nor was the king of other mind in this, and his riches were small, save it be for that glorious Silmaril that many a king had given all his treasury contained if he might possess it.

Therefore did Tinwelint answer: "Now shalt thou have aid, O Mavwin most steadfast, and, openly I say it to thee, it is not for hope of freeing Turin thereby that I grant it to thee, for such hope I do not see in this tale, but rather the death of hope. Yet it is a truth that I have need and desire of treasury, and it may be that such shall come to me by this venture; yet half of the spoil shalt thou have O Mavwin for the memory of Urin and Turin, or else shalt thou ward it for Nienori thy daughter." Then said Mavwin: "Nay, give me but a woodman's cot and my son," and the king answered: "That I cannot, for I am but a king of the wild Elves, and no Vala of the western isles." Then Tinwelint gathered a picked band of his warriors and hunters and told them his bidding, and it seemed that the name of the Foalókë was known already among them, and there were many who could guide the band unto the regions of his dwelling, yet was that name a terror to the stoutest and the places of his abode a land of accursed dread. Now the ancient dwellings of the Rodothlim were not utterly distant from the realm of Tinwelint, albeit far enough, but the king said to Mavwin: "Bide now and Nienori also with me, and my men shall fare against the drake, and all that they do and find in those places will they faithfully report," — and his men said: "Yea, we will do thy bidding, O King," but fear stood in their eyes.

Then Mavwin seeing it said: "Yea, O King, let Nienori my daughter bide indeed at the feet of Gwedheling the Queen, but I who care not an I die or live will go look upon the dragon and find my son"; and Tinwelint laughed, yet Gwedheling and Nienori fearing that she spake no jest pled earnestly with her. But she was as adamant, fearing lest this her last hope of rescuing Turin come to nought through the terror of Tinwelint's men, and none might move her. "Of love, I know," said she, "come all the words ye speak, yet give me rather a horse to ride and if ye will a sharp knife for my own death at need, and let me be gone." Now these words struck amazement into those Elves that heard, for indeed the wives and daughters of Men in those days were hardy and their youth lasted a great span, yet did this seem a madness to all. Madder yet did it seem when Nienori, seeing the obstinacy of her mother, said before them all: "Then I too will go; whither my mother Mavwin goeth thither more easily yet shall I, Nienori daughter of Urin, fare"; but Gwedheling said to the king that he allow it not, for she was a fay and perchance foresaw dimly what might be. Then had Mavwin ended the dispute and departed from the king's presence into the woods, had not Nienori caught at her robe and stayed her, and so did all plead with Mavwin, till at length it was agreed that the king send a strong party against the Foalókë and that Nienori and Mavwin ride with them until the regions of the beast be found.

Then should they seek a high place whence they might see something of the deeds yet in safety and secrecy, while the warriors crept upon the worm to slay it. Now of this high place a woodsman told, and often had he gazed therefrom upon the dwelling of the worm afar. At length was that band of dragonslayers got ready, and they were mounted upon goodly horses swift and sure-going, albeit few of those beasts were possessed by the folk of the woods. Horses too were found for Nienori and for Mavwin, and they rode at the head of the warriors, and folk marvelled much to see their bearing, for the men of Urin and those amongst whom Nienori was nurtured were much upon horses, and both knave and maid among them rode even in tender years. After many days' going came now that cavalcade within view of a place that once had been a fair region, and through it a swift river ran over a rocky bed, and of one side was the brink of it high and tree-grown and of the other the land was more level and fertile and broad-swelling, but beyond the high bank of the river the hills drew close.

Thither as they looked they saw that the land had become all barren and was blasted for a great distance about the ancient caverns of the Rodothlim, and the trees were crushed to the earth or snapped. Toward the hills a black heath stretched and the lands were scored with the great slots that that loathly worm made in his creeping. Many are the dragons that Melko has loosed upon the world and some are more mighty than others. Now the least mighty — yet were they very great beside the Men of those days — are cold as is the nature of snakes and serpents, and of them a many having wings go with the uttermost noise and speed; but the mightier are hot and very heavy and slow-going, and some belch flame, and fire flickereth beneath their scales, and the lust and greed and cunning evil of these is the greatest of all creatures: and such was the Foalókë whose burning there set all the places of his habitation in waste and desolation. Already greater far had this worm waxen than in the days of the onslaught upon the Rodothlim, and greater too was his hoarded treasure, for Men and Elves and even Orcs he slew, or enthralled that they served him, bringing him food to slake his lust of precious things, and spoils of their harryings to swell his hoard.

Now was that band aghast as they looked upon that region from afar, yet they prepared them for battle, and drawing lots sent one of their number with Nienori and Mavwin to that high place upon the confines of the withered land that had been named, and it was covered with trees, and might be reached by hidden paths. Even as those three rode thither and the warriors crept stealthily toward the caves, leaving their horses that were already in a sweat of fear, behold the Foalókë came from his lair, and sliding down the bank lay across the stream, as often was his wont. Straightway great fog and steams leapt up and a stench was mingled therein, so that that band was whelmed in vapours and well-nigh stifled, and they crying to one another in the mist displayed their presence to the worm; and he laughed aloud. At that most awful of all sounds of beasts they fled wildly in the mists, and yet they could not discover their horses, for these in an extremity of terror broke loose and fled. Then Nienori hearing far cries and seeing the great mist roll toward them from the river turned back with her mother to the place of sundering, and there alighting waited in great doubt.

Suddenly came that blind mist upon them as they stood, and with it came flying madly the dim horses of the huntsmen. Then their own catching their terror trampled to death that Elf who was their escort as he caught at the flying bridles, and wild with fear they sped to the dark woods and never more bore Man or Elf upon their saddles; but Mavwin and Nienori were left alone and succourless upon the borders of the places of fear. Very perilous indeed was their estate, and long they groped in the mist and knew not where they were nor saw they ever any of the band again, and only pale voices seemed to pass them by afar crying out as in dread, and then all was silent. Now did they cling together and being weary stumbled on heedless whither their steps might go, till on a sudden the sun gleamed thin above them, and hope returned to them; and behold the mists lifted and the airs became clearer and they stood not far from the river. Even now it smoked as it were hot, and behold the Foalókë lay there and his eyes were upon them. No word did he speak nor did he move, but his baleful eye held their gaze until the strength seemed to leave their knees and their minds grew dim. Then did Nienori drag herself by a might of will from that influence for a while, and "Behold," she cried, "O serpent of Melko, what wilt thou with us — be swift to say or do, for know that we seek not thee nor thy gold but one Turin who dwelt here upon a time." Then said the drake, and the earth quaked at him: "Thou liest — glad had ye been at my death, and glad thy band of cravens who now flee gibbering in the woods might they have despoiled me. Fools and liars, liars and cravens, how shall ye slay or despoil Glorund the Foalókë, who ere his power had waxen slew the hosts of the Rodothlim and Orodreth their lord, devouring all his folk."

"Yet perchance," said Nienori, "one Turin got him from that fray and dwells still here beneath thy bonds, an he has not escaped thee and is now far hence," and this she said at a venture, hoping against hope, but said the evil one: "Lo! the names of all who dwelt here before the taking of the caves of my wisdom I know, and I say to thee that none who named himself Turin went hence alive." And even so was Turin's boast subtly turned against him, for these beasts love ever to speak thus, doubly playing with cunning words. "Then was Turin slain in this evil place," said Mavwin, but the dragon answered: "Here did the name of Turin fade for ever from the earth — but weep not, woman, for it was the name of a craven that betrayed his friends."

"Foul beast, cease thy evil sayings," said Mavwin; "slayer of my son, revile not the dead, lest thine own bane come upon thee." "Less proud must be thy words, O Mavwin, an thou wilt escape torment or thy daughter with thee," did that drake answer, but Mavwin cried: "O most accursed, lo! I fear thee not. Take me an thou wilt to thy torments and thy bondage, for of a truth I desired thy death, but suffer only Nienori my daughter to go back to the dwellings of Men: for she came hither constrained by me, and knowing not the purposes of our journey." "Seek not to cajole me, woman," sneered that evil one. "Liever would I keep thy daughter and slay thee or send thee back to thy hovels, but I have need of neither of you." With those words he opened full his evil eyes, arid a light shone in them, and Mavwin and Nienori quaked beneath them and a swoon came upon their minds, and them seemed that they groped in endless tunnels of darkness, and there they found not one another ever again, and calling only vain echoes answered and there was no glimmer of light. When however after a time that she remembered not the blackness left the mind of Nienori, behold the river and the withered places of the Foalókë were no more about her, but the deep woodlands, and it was dusk. Now she seemed to herself to awake from dreams of horror nor could she recall them, but their dread hung dark behind her mind, and her memory of all past things was dimmed. So for a long while she strayed lost in the woods, and haply the spell alone kept life in her, for she hungered bitterly and was athirst, and by fortune it was summer, for her garments became torn and her feet unshod and weary, and often she wept, and she went she knew not whither.

Now on a time in an opening in the wood she descried a campment as it were of Men, and creeping nigh by reason of hunger to espy it she saw that they were creatures of a squat and unlovely stature that dwelt there, and most evil faces had they, and their voices and their laughter was as the clash of stone and metal. Armed they were with curved swords and bows of horn, and she was possessed with fear as she looked upon them, although she knew not that they were Orcs, for never had she seen those evil ones before. Now did she turn and flee, but was espied, and one let fly a shaft at her that quivered suddenly in a tree beside her as she ran, and others seeing that it was a woman young and fair gave chase whooping and calling hideously.

Now Nienori ran as best she might for the density of the wood, but soon was she spent and capture and dread thraldom was very near, when one came crashing through the woods as though in answer to her lamentable cries. Wild and black was his hair yet streaked with grey, and his face was pale and marked as with deep sorrows of the past, and in his hand he bare a great sword whereof all but the very edge was black. Therewith he leapt against the following Orcs and hewed them, and they soon fled, being taken aback, and though some shot arrows at random amidst the trees they did little scathe, and five of them were slain. Then sat Nienori upon a stone and for weariness and the lessened strain of fear sobs shook her and she could not speak; but her rescuer stood beside her awhile and marvelled at her fairness and that she wandered thus lonely in the woods, and at length he said: "O sweet maiden of the woods, whence comest thou, and what may be thy name?"

"Nay, these things I know not," said she. "Yet methinks I stray very far from my home and folk, and many very evil things have fallen upon me in the way, whereof nought but a cloud hangs upon my memory — nay, whence I am or whither I go I know not" — and she wept a fresh, but that man spake, saying: "Then behold, I will call thee Niniel, or little one of tears," and thereat she raised her face towards his, and it was very sweet though marred with weeping, and she said with a look of wonderment: "Nay, not Niniel, not Niniel." Yet more might she not remember, and her face filled with distress, so that she cried: "Nay, who art thou, warrior of the woods; why troublest thou me?" "Turambar am I called," said he, "and no home nor kindred have I nor any past to think on, but I wander for ever," and again at that name that maiden's wonder stirred.

"Now," said Turambar, "dry thy tears, O Niniel, for thou hast come upon such safety as these words afford. Lo, one am I now of a small folk of the forest, and a sweet dwelling in a clearing have we far from hence, but today as thy fortune would we fared a-hunting, — aye, and Orc-harrying too, for we are hard put to it to fend those evil ones from our homes." Then did Niniel (for thus Turambar called her ever, and she learnt to call it her name) fare away with him to his comrades, and they asking little got them upon horses, and Turambar set Niniel before him, and thus they fared as swift as they might from the danger of the Orcs.

Now at the time of the affray of Turambar with the pursuing Orcs was half the day already spent, yet were they already leagues upon their way ere they dismounted once more, and it was then early night. Already at the sunset had it seemed to Niniel that the woods were lighter and less gloomy and the air less evil-laden than behind. Now did they make a camp in a glade and the stars shone clear above where the tree-roof was thin, but Niniel lay a little apart and they gave her many fells to keep her from the night chills, and thus she slept more softly than for many a night and the breezes kissed her face, but Turambar told his comrades of the meeting in the wood and they wondered who she might be or how she came wandering thither as one under a spell of blind forgetfulness.

Next day again they pressed on and so for many journeys more beside until at length weary and fain for rest they came one noon to a woodland stream, and this they followed for some way until, behold, they came to a place where it might be forded by reason of its shallowness and of the rocks that stood up in its course; but on their right it dived in a great fall and fell into a chasm, and Turambar pointing said: "Now are we nigh to home, for this is the fall of the Silver Bowl," but Niniel not knowing why was filled with a dread and could not look upon the loveliness of that foaming water. Now soon came they to places of thinner trees and to a slope whereon but few grew save here and there an ancient oak of great girth, and the grass about their feet was soft, for the clearing had been made many years and was very wide. There stood also a cluster of goodly houses of timber, and a tilth was about them and trees of fruit. To one of these houses that was adorned with strange rude carvings, and flowers bloomed bright about it, did Turambar lead now Niniel. "Behold," said he, "my abode — there an thou listest thou shalt abide for now, but methinks it is a lonely hall, and there be houses of this folk beside where there are maidens and womenfolk, and there wouldst thou liever and better be." So came it afterward that Nienori dwelt with the wood-rangers, and after a while entered the house of Bethos, a stout man who had fought though then but a boy in the Battle of Unnumbered Tears. Thence did he escape, but his wife was a Noldo-maiden, as the tale telleth, and very fair, and fair also were his sons and daughters save only his eldest son, Tamar Lamefoot.

Now as the days passed Turambar grew to love Niniel very greatly indeed, and all the folk beside loved her for her great loveliness and sweetness, yet was she ever half-sorrowful and often distraught of mind, as one that seeks for something mislaid that soon she must discover, so that folk said: "Would that the Valar would lift the spell that lies upon Niniel." Nonetheless for the most part she was happy indeed among the folk and in the house of Bethos, and each day she grew ever fairer, and Tamar Lamefoot who was held of little account loved her though in vain. Now came days when life once more seemed to contain joy to Turambar, and the bitterness of the past grew dim and far away, and a fresh love was in his heart. Then did he think to put his fate for ever from him and live out his life there in the woodland homes with children about him, and looking upon Niniel he desired to wed her.

Then did he often press his suit with her, yet though he was a man of valiance and renown she delayed him, saying nor yea nor no, yet herself she knew not why, for it seemed to her heart that she loved him deeply, fearing for him were he away, and knowing happiness when he was nigh. Now it was a custom of that folk to obey a chief, and he was chosen by them from their stoutest men, and that office did he hold until of his own will he laid it down again being sick or gone in years, or were he slain. And at that time Bethos was their chief; but he was slain by evil luck in a foray not long after — for despite his years he still rode abroad — and it fell out that a new captain must be chosen. In the end then did they name Turambar, for his lineage, in that it was known among them that he was son of Urin, was held in esteem among those stout rebels against Melko, whereas he had beside become a very mighty man in all deeds and one of wisdom great beyond his years, by reason of his far wanderings and his dealings with the Elves. Seeing therefore the love of their new chief for Niniel and thinking they knew that she loved him also in return, those men began to say how they would lief see their lord wed, and that it was folly to delay for no good cause; but this word came to the ears of Niniel, and at length she consented to be the wife of Turambar, and all were fain thereat.

A goodly feast was made and there was song and mirth, and Niniel became lady of the woodland-rangers and dwelt thereafter in Turambar's house. There great was their happiness, though there lay at times a chill foreboding upon Niniel's heart, but Turambar was in joy and said in his heart: "'Twas well that I did name myself Turambar, for lo! I have overcome the doom of evil that was woven about my feet." The past he laid aside and to Niniel he spoke not overmuch of bygone things, save of his father and mother and the sister he had not seen, but always was Niniel troubled at such talk and he knew not why. But of his flight from the halls of Tinwelint and the death of Beleg and of his seeking back to Hisilome he said never a word, and the thought of Failivrin lay locked in his deepest heart wellnigh forgotten. Naught ever might Niniel tell him of her days before, and did he ask her distress was written on her face as though he troubled the surface of dark dreams, and he grieved at times thereat, but it weighed not much upon him.

Now fare the days by and Niniel and Turambar dwell in peace, but Tamar Lamefoot wanders the woods thinking the world an ill and bitter place, and he loved Niniel very greatly nor might he stifle his love. But behold, in those days the Foalókë waxed fat, and having many bands of Noldoli and of Orcs subject to him he thought to extend his dominion far and wide. Indeed in many places in those days these beasts of Melko's did in like manner, setting up kingdoms of terror of their own that flourished beneath the evil mantle of Melko's lordship. So it was that the bands of Glorund the drake harried the folk of Tinwelint very grievously, and at length there came some nigh even to those woods and glades that were beloved of Turambar and his folk. Now those woodmen fled not but dealt stoutly with their foes, and the wrath of Glorund the worm was very great when tidings were brought to him of a brave folk of Men that dwelt far beyond the river and that his marauders might not subdue them.

It is told indeed that despite the cunning of his evil designs he did not yet know where was the dwelling of Turambar or of Nienori; and of truth in those days it seemed that fortune smiled on Turambar awhile, for his people waxed and they became prosperous, and many escaped even from uttermost Hisilome and came unto him, and store of wealth and good things he gathered, for all his battles brought him victory and booty. Like a king and queen did Turambar and Niniel become, and there was song and mirth in those glades of their dwelling, and much happiness in their halls. And Niniel conceived. Much of this did spies report to the Foalókë, and his wrath was terrible.

Moreover his greed was mightily kindled, so that after pondering much he set a guard that he might trust to watch his dwelling and his treasury, and the captain of these was Mim the dwarf. Then leaving the caves and the places of his sleep he crossed the streams and drew into the woods, and they blazed before his face. Tidings of this came swiftly to Turambar, but he feared not as yet nor indeed heeded the tale much, for it was a very great way from the home of the woodmen to the caverns of the worm. But now sank Niniel's heart, and though she knew not wherefore a weight of dread and sorrow lay upon her, and seldom after the coming of that word did she smile, so that Turambar wondered and was sad. Now draweth the Foalókë during that time through the deep woods and a path of desolation lies behind, and yet in his creeping a very great while passes, until, behold, suddenly a party of the woodmen come upon him unawares sleeping in the woods among the broken trees. Of these several were overcome by the noxious breath of the beast and after were slain; but two making their utmost speed brought tidings to their lord that the tale aforetime had not been vain, and indeed now was the drake crept even within the confines of his realm; and so saying they fell fainting before his feet. Now the place where the dragon lay was low-lying and a little hill there was, not far distant, islanded among the trees but itself not much wooded, whence might be espied albeit afar off much of that region now torn by the passage of the drake.

A stream there was too that ran through the forest in that part between the drake and the dwellings of the woodmen, but its course ran very nigh to the dragon and it was a narrow stream with banks deep-cloven and o'erhung with trees. Wherefore Turambar purposed now to take his stoutest men to that knoll and watch if they could the dragon's movements in secret, that perchance they might fall upon him at some disadvantage and contrive to slay him, for in this lay their best hope. This band he suffered not to be very great, and the rest at his bidding took arms and scoured about, fearing that hosts of the Orcs were come with the worm their lord. This indeed was not so, and he came alone trusting in his overwhelming power. Now when Turambar made ready to depart then Niniel begged to ride beside him and he consented, for he loved her and it was his thought that if he fell and the drake lived then might none of that people be saved, and he would liever have Niniel by him, hoping perchance to snatch her at the least from the clutches of the worm, by death at his own or one of his liege's hands.

So rode forth together Turambar and Niniel, as that folk knew them, and behind were a score of good men. Now the distance to that knoll among the woods they compassed in a day's journey, and after them though it were against the bidding and counsel of Turambar there stole a great concourse of his folk, even women and children. The lure of a strange dread held them, and some thought to see a great fight, and others went with the rest thinking little, nor did any think to see what in the end their eyes saw; and they followed not far behind, for Turambar's party went slowly and warily. When first then Turambar suffered her to ride beside him Niniel was blither than for long she had been, and she brightened the foreboding of those men's hearts; but soon they came to a place not far from the foot of the knoll, and there her heart sank, and indeed a gloom fell upon all.

Yet very fair was that place, for here flowed that same stream that further down wound past the dragon's lair in a deep bed cloven deep into the earth; and it came rushing cold from the hills beyond the woodmen's homes, and it fell over a great fall where the water-worn rock jutted smooth and grey from amid the grass. Now this was the head of that force which the woodmen named the Silver Bowl, and aforetime Turambar and Niniel had passed it by, faring home first from the rescuing of Niniel. The height of that fall was very great and the waters had a loud and musical voice, splashing into a silver foam far below where they had worn a great hollow in the rocks; and this hollow was o'ershadowed by trees and bushes, but the sun gleamed through upon the spray; and about the head of the fall there was an open glade and a green sward where grew a wealth of flowers, and men loved that spot.

Here did Niniel of a sudden weep, and casting herself upon Turambar begged him tempt not fate but rather fly with her and all his folk, leading them into distant lands. But looking at her he said: "Nay, Niniel mine, nor thou nor I die this day, nor yet tomorrow, by the evil of the dragon or by the foemen's swords," but he knew not the fulfilment of his words; and hearing them Niniel quelled her weeping and was very still.

Having therefore rested a while here those warriors afterward climbed the hill and Niniel fared with them. Afar off they might see from its summit a wide tract where all the trees were broken and the lands were hurt and scorched and the earth black, yet nigh the edge of the trees that were still unharmed, and that was not far from the lip of the deep river-chasm, there arose a thin smoke of great blackness, and men said: "There lieth the worm." Then were counsels of many a kind spoken upon that hill-top, and men feared to go openly against the dragon by day or by night or whether he waked or slept, and seeing their dread Turambar gave them a rede, and it was taken, and these were his words: "Well have ye said, O huntsmen of the woods, that not by day or by night shall men hope to take a dragon of Melko unawares, and behold this one hath made a waste about him, and the earth is beaten flat so that none may creep near and be hidden.

Wherefore whoso hath the heart shall come with me and we will go down the rocks to the foot of the fall, and so gaining the path of the stream perchance we may come as nigh to the drake as may be. Then must we climb if we are able up under the near bank and so wait, for methinks the Foalókë will rest not much longer ere he draweth on towards our dwellings. Thus must he either cross this deep stream or turn far out of his ways, for he is grown too mighty to creep along its bed. Now I think not that he will turn aside, for it is but a ditch, a narrow rut filled with trickling water, to the great Foalókë of the golden caves. If however he belie my counsel and come not on by this path, some few of you must take courage in your hearts, striving to decoy him warily back across the stream, that there we who lie hid may give him his bane stabbing from beneath, for the armour of these vile worms is of little worth upon their bellies." Now of that band were there but six that stood forward readily to go with Turambar, and he seeing that said that he had thought there were more than six brave men among his folk, yet after that he would not suffer any of the others to go with him, saying that better were the six without the hindrance of the fearful.

Then did Turambar take farewell of Niniel and they kissed upon the hilltop, and it was then late afternoon, but Niniel's heart went as to stone with grief; and all that company descended to the head of Silver Bowl, and there she beheld her lord climb to the fall's bottom with his six companions. Now when he was vanished far below she spake bitterly to those who had dared not to go, and they for shame answered not but crept back unto the hill-top and gazed out towards the dragon's lair, and Niniel sat beside the water looking before her, and she wept not but was in anguish. None stayed beside her save Tamar alone who had fared unbidden with that company, and he had loved her since first she dwelt in Bethos' halls, and once had thought to win her ere Turambar took her. The lameness of Tamar was with him from childhood, yet was he both wise and kindly, though held of little account among those folk, to whom strength was safety and valour the greatest pride of men.

Now however did Tamar bear a sword, and many had scoffed at him for that, yet he took joy at the chance of guarding Niniel, albeit she noticed him not. Now is it to tell that Turambar reached the place of his design after great labour in the rocky bed of the stream, and with his men clambered with difficulty up the steep side of that ravine. Just below the lip of it they were lodged in certain overhanging trees, and not far off they might hear the great breathing of the beast, and some of his companions fell in dread. Already had darkness come and all the night they clung there, and there was a strange flickering where the dragon lay and dread noises and a quaking if he stirred, and when dawn came Turambar saw that he had but three companions, and he cursed the others for their cravenhood, nor doth any tale tell whither those unfaithful ones fled.

On this day did all come to pass as Turambar had thought, for the drake bestirring himself drew slowly to the chasm's edge and turned not aside, but sought to overcreep it and come thus at the homes of the woodmen. Now the terror of his oncoming was very great, for the earth shook, and those three feared lest the trees that upheld them should loosen their roots and fall into the rocky stream below. The leaves too of those trees that grew nigh were shrivelled in the serpent's breath, yet were they not hurt because of the shelter of the bank. At length did the drake reach the stream-edge and the sight of his evil head and dripping jaws was utterly hideous, and these they saw clearly and were in terror lest he too espy them, for he crossed not over at the spot where Turambar had chosen to lie hid because of the narrowness here of the chasm and its lesser depth. Rather he began to heave himself now across the ravine a little below them, and so slipping from their places Turambar and his men reached as swiftly as might be the stream's bed and came beneath the belly of the worm.

Here was the heat so great and so vile the stench that his men were taken with a sore dread and durst not climb the bank again. Then in his wrath Turambar would have turned his sword against them, but they fled, and so was it that alone he scaled the wall until he came close beneath the dragon's body, and he reeled by reason of the heat and of the stench and clung to a stout bush. Then abiding until a very vital and unfended spot was within stroke, he heaved up Gurtholfin his black sword and stabbed with all his strength above his head, and that magic blade of the Rodothlim went into the vitals of the dragon even to the hilt, and the yell of his death-pain rent the woods and all that heard it were aghast. Then did that drake writhe horribly and the huge spires of his contortions were terrible to see, and all the trees he brake that stood nigh to the place of his agony. Almost had he crossed the chasm when Gurtholfin pierced him, and now he cast himself upon its farther bank and laid all waste about him, and lashed and coiled and made a yelling and a bellowing such that the stoutest blenched and turned to flee. Now those afar thought that this was the fearsome noise of battle betwixt the seven, Turambar and his comrades, and little they hoped ever to see any of them return, and Niniel's heart died within her at the sounds; but below in the ravine those three cravens who had watched Turambar from afar fled now in terrror back towards the fall, and Turambar clung nigh to the lip of the chasm white and trembling, for he was spent.

At length did those noises of horror cease, and there arose a great smoking, for Glorund was dying. Then in utter hardihood did Turambar creep out alone from his hiding, for in the agony of the Foalókë his sword was dragged from his hand ere he might withdraw it, and he cherished Gurtholfin beyond all his possessions, for all things died, or man or beast, whom once its edges bit. Now Turambar saw where the dragon lay, and he was stretched out stiff upon his side, and Gurtholfin stood yet in his belly; but he breathed still. Nonetheless Turambar creeping up set his foot upon his body and withdrew Gurtholfin hardly with all his strength, and as he did so he said in the triumph of his heart: "Now do we meet again, O Glorund, thou and I, Turambar, who was once named brave"; but even as he spake the evil blood spouted from that wound upon his hand and burnt it, and it was withered, so that for the sudden pain he cried aloud. Then the Foalókë opening his dread eyes, looked upon him, and he fell in a swoon beside the drake and his sword was under him. Thus did the day draw on and there came no tidings to the hill-top, nor could Niniel longer bear her anguish but arose and made as to leave that glade above the waterfall, and Tamar Lamefoot said: "What dost thou seek to do?" but she: "I would seek my lord and lay me in death beside him, for methinks he is dead", and he sought to dissuade her but without avail.

And even as evening fell that fair lady crept through the woods and she would not that Tamar should follow her, but seeing that he did so she fled blindly through the trees, tearing her clothes and marring her face in places of thorny undergrowth, and Tamar being lame could not keep up with her. So fell night upon the woods and all was still, and a great dread for Niniel fell upon Tamar, so that he cursed his weakness and his heart was bitter, yet did he cease not to follow so swiftly as he might, and losing sight of her he bent his course towards that part of the forest nigh to the ravine where had been fought the worm's last fight, for indeed that might be perceived by the watchers on the hill. Now rose a bright moon when the night was old, and Tamar, wandering often alone far and wide from the woodmen's homes, knew those places, and came at last to the edge of that desolation that the dragon had made in his agony; but the moonlight was very bright, and staying among the bushes near the edge of that place Tamar heard and saw all that there betid.

Behold now Niniel had reached those places not long before him, and straightway did she run fearless into the open for love of her lord, and so found him lying with his withered hand in a swoon across his sword; but the beast that lay hugely stretched beside she heeded not at all, and falling beside Turambar she wept, and kissed his face, and put salve upon his hand, for such she had brought in a little box when first they sallied forth, fearing that many hurts would be gotten ere men wended home. Yet Turambar woke not at her touch, nor stirred, and she cried aloud, thinking him now surely dead: "O Turambar, my lord, awake, for the serpent of wrath is dead and I alone am near!" But lo! at those words the drake stirred his last, and turning his baleful eyes upon her ere he shut them for ever said: "O thou Nienori daughter of Mavwin, I give thee joy that thou hast found thy brother at the last, for the search hath been weary — and now is he become a very mighty fellow and a stabber of his foes unseen"; but Nienori sat as one stunned, and with that Glorund died, and with his death the veil of his spells fell from her, and all her memory grew crystal clear, neither did she forget any of those things that had befallen her since first she fell beneath the magic of the worm; so that her form shook with horror and anguish.

Then did she start to her feet, standing wanly in the moon, and looking upon Turambar with wide eyes thus spake she aloud: "Then is thy doom spent at last. Well art thou dead, O most unhappy," but distraught with her woe suddenly she fled from that place and fared wildly away as one mad whithersoever her feet led her. But Tamar whose heart was numbed with grief and ruth followed as he might, recking little of Turambar, for wrath at the fate of Nienori filled all his heart. Now the stream and the deep chasm lay across her path, but it so chanced that she turned aside ere she came to its banks and followed its winding course through stony and thorny places until she came once again to the glade at the head of the great roaring fall, and it was empty as the first grey light of a new day filtered through the trees.

There did she stay her feet and standing spake as to herself: "O waters of the forest whither do ye go? Wilt thou take Nienori, Nienori daughter of Urin, child of woe? O ye white foams, would that ye might lave me clean — but deep, deep must be the waters that would wash my memory of this nameless curse. O bear me hence, far far away, where are the waters of the unremembering sea. O waters of the forest whither do ye go?" Then ceasing suddenly she cast herself over the fall's brink, and perished where it foams about the rocks below; but at that moment the sun arose above the trees and light fell upon the waters, and the waters roared unheeding above the death of Nienori. Now all this did Tamar behold, and to him the light of the new sun seemed dark, but turning from those places he went to the hill-top and there was already gathered a great concourse of folk, and among them were those three that had last deserted Turambar, and they made a story for the ears of the folk. But Tamar coming stood suddenly before them, and his face was terrible to see, so that a whisper ran among them: "He is dead"; but others said: "What then has befallen the little Niniel?" — but Tamar cried aloud: "Hear, O my people, and say if there is a fate like unto the one I tell unto thee, or a woe so heavy. Dead is the drake, but at his side lieth also Turambar dead, even he who was first called Turin son of Urin, and that is well; aye very well," and folk murmured, wondering at his speech, and some said that he was mad.

But Tamar said: "For know, O people, that Niniel the fair beloved of you all and whom I love dearer than my heart is dead, and the waters roar above her, for she has leapt o'er the falls of Silver Bowl desiring never more to see the light of day. Now endeth all that evil spell, now is the doom of the folk of Urin terribly fulfilled, for she that ye called Niniel was even Nienori daughter of Urin, and this did she know or ever she died, and this did she tell to the wild woods, and their echo came to me." At those words did the hearts of all who stood there break for sorrow and for dread, yet did none dare to go to the place of the anguish of that fair lady, for a sad spirit abideth there yet and none sets foot upon its sward; but a great remorse pierced the hearts of those three cravens, and creeping from the throng they went to seek their lord's body, and behold they found him stirring and alive, for when the dragon died the swoon had left him, and he slept a deep sleep of weariness, yet now was he awakening and was in pain.

Even as those three stood by he spake and said "Niniel", and at that word they hid their faces for ruth and horror, and could not look upon his face, but afterward they roused him, and behold he was very fain of his victory; yet suddenly marking his hand he said: "Lo! one has been that has tended my hurt with skill — who think ye that it was?" — but they answered him not, for they guessed. Now therefore was Turambar borne weary and hurt back among his folk, and one sped before and cried that their lord lived, but men knew not if they were glad; and as he came among them many turned aside their faces to hide their hearts' perplexity and their tears, and none durst speak.

But Turambar said to those that stood nigh: "Where is Niniel, my Niniel — for I had thought to find her here in gladness — yet if she has returned rather to my halls then is it well", but those that heard could no longer restrain their weeping, and Turambar rose crying: "What new ill is this — speak, speak, my people, and torment me not." But one said: "Niniel alas is dead my lord," but Turambar cried out bitterly against the Valar and his fate of woe, and at last another said: "Aye, she is dead, for she fell even into the depths of Silver Bowl," but Tamar who stood by muttered: "Nay, she cast herself thither." Then Turambar catching those words seized him by the arm and cried: "Speak, thou club-foot, speak, say what meaneth thy foul speech, or thou shalt lose thy tongue," for his misery was terrible to see.

Now was Tamar's heart in a great turmoil of pain for the dread things that he had seen and heard, and the long hopelessness of his love for Niniel, so did rage against Turambar kindle suddenly within him, and shaking off his touch he said: "A maid thou foundest in the wild woods and gave her a jesting name, that thou and all the folk called her Niniel, the little one of tears. Ill was that jest, Turambar, for lo! she has cast herself away blind with horror and with woe, desiring never to see thee again, and the name she named herself in death was Nienori daughter of Urin, child of woe, nor may all the waters of the Silver Bowl as they drop into the deep shed the full tale of tears o'er Niniel." Then Turambar with a roar took his throat and shook him, saying: "Thou liest — thou evil son of Bethos" — but Tamar gasped "Nay, accursed one; so spake Glorund the drake, and Niniel hearing knew that it was true." But Turambar said: "Then go commune in Mandos with thy Glorund," and he slew him before the face of the people, and fared after as one mad, shouting "He lieth, he lieth"; and yet being free now of blindness and of dreams in his deep heart he knew that it was true and that now his weird was spent at last.

So did he leave the folk behind and drive heedless through the woods calling ever the name of Niniel, till the woods rang most dismally with that word, and his going led him by circuitous ways ever to the glade of Silver Bowl, and none had dared to follow him. There shone the sun of afternoon, and lo, were all the trees grown sere although it was high summer still, and noise there was as of dying autumn in the leaves. Withered were all the flowers and the grass, and the voice of the falling water was sadder than tears for the death of the white maiden Nienori daughter of Urin that there had been. There stood Turambar spent at last, and there he drew his sword, and said: "Hail, Gurtholfin, wand of death, for thou art all men's bane and all men's lives fain wouldst thou drink, knowing no lord or faith save the hand that wields thee if it be strong. Thee only have I now — slay me therefore and be swift, for life is a curse, and all my days are creeping foul, and all my deeds are vile, and all I love is dead."

And Gurtholfin said: "That will I gladly do, for blood is blood, and perchance thine is not less sweet than many a one's that thou hast given me ere now"; and Turambar cast himself then upon the point of Gurtholfin, and the dark blade took his life. But later some came timidly and bore him away and laid him in a place nigh, and raised a great mound over him, and thereafter some drew a great rock there with a smooth face, and on it were cut strange signs such as Turambar himself had taught them in dead days, bringing that knowledge from the caves of the Rodothlim, and that writing said: Turambar slayer of Glorund the Worm who also was Turin Mormakil Son of Urin of the Woods and beneath that was carven the word "Niniel" (or child of tears); but she was not there, nor where the waters have laid her fair form doth any man know.'

Now thereupon did Eltas cease his speaking, and suddenly all who hearkened wept; but he said thereto: 'Yea, 'tis an unhappy tale, for sorrow hath fared ever abroad among Men and doth so still, but in the wild days were very terrible things done and suffered; and yet hath Melko seldom devised more cruelty, nor do I know a tale that is more pitiful.' Then after a time some questioned him concerning Mavwin and Urin and after happenings, and he said: 'Now of Mavwin hath no sure record been preserved like unto the tale of Turin Turambar her son, and many things are said and some of them differ from one another; but this much can I tell to ye, that after those dread deeds the woodfolk had no heart for their abiding place and departed to other valleys of the wood, and yet did a few linger sadly nigh their old homes; and once came an aged dame wandering through the woods, and she chanced upon that carven rock.

To her did one of those woodmen read the meaning of the signs, and he told her all the tale as he remembered it — but she was silent, and nor spoke nor moved. Then said he: "Thy heart is heavy, for it is a tale to move all men to tears." But she said: "Ay, sad indeed is my heart, for I am Mavwin, mother of those twain," and that man perceived that not yet had that long tale of sorrow reached its ending — but Mavwin arose and went out into the woods crying in anguish, and for long time she haunted that spot so that the woodman and his folk fled and came never back, and none may say whether indeed it was Mavwin that came there or her dark shade that sought not back to Mandos by reason of her great unhappiness. Yet it is said that all these dread happenings Urin saw by the magic of Melko, and was continually tempted by that Ainu to yield to his will, and he would not; but when the doom of his folk was utterly fulfilled then did Melko think to use Urin in another and more subtle way, and he released him from that high and bitter place where he had sat through many years in torment of heart.

But Melko went to him and spoke evilly of the Elves to him, and especially did he accuse Tinwelint" of weakness and cravenhood. "Never can I comprehend," said he, "wherefore it is that there be still great and wise Men who trust to the friendship of the Elves, and becoming fools enough to resist my might do treble their folly in looking for sure help therein from Gnomes or Fairies. Lo, O Urin, but for the faint heart of Tinwelint of the woodland how could my designs have come to pass, and perchance now had Nienori lived and Mavwin thy wife had wept not, being glad for the recovery of her son. Go therefore, O foolish one, and return to eat the bitter bread of almsgiving in the halls of thy fair friends." Then did Urin bowed with years and sorrow depart unmolested from Melko's realms and came unto the better lands, but ever as he went he pondered Melko's saying and the cunning web of woven truth and falsity clouded his heart's eye, and he was very bitter in spirit.

Now therefore he gathered to him a band of wild Elves, and they were waxen a fierce and lawless folk that dwelt not with their kin, who thrust them into the hills to live or die as they might. On a time therefore Urin led them to the caves of the Rodothlim, and behold the Orcs had fled therefrom at the death of Glorund, and one only dwelt there still, an old misshapen dwarf who sat ever on the pile of gold singing black songs of enchantment to himself. But none had come nigh till then to despoil him, for the terror of the drake lived longer than he, and none had ventured thither again for dread of the very spirit of Glorund the worm. Now therefore when those Elves approached the dwarf stood before the doors of the cave that was once the abode of Galweg, and he cried: "What will ye with me, O outlaws of the hills?" But Urin answered: "We come to take what is not thine." Then said that dwarf, and his name was Mim: "O Urin, little did I think to see thee, a lord of Men, with such a rabble. Hearken now to the words of Mim the fatherless, and depart, touching not this gold no more than were it venomous fires. For has not Glorund lain long years upon it, and the evil of the drakes of Melko is on it, and no good can it bring to Man or Elf, but I, only I, can ward it, Mim the dwarf, and by many a dark spell have I bound it to myself."

Then Urin wavered, but his men were wroth at that, so that he bid them seize it all, and Mim stood by and watched, and he broke forth into terrible and evil curses. Thereat did Urin smite him, saying: "We came but to take what was not thine — now for thy evil words we will take what is thine as well, even thy life." But Mim dying said unto Urin: "Now Elves and Men shall rue this deed, and because of the death of Mim the dwarf shall death follow this gold so long as it remain on Earth, and a like fate shall every part and portion share with the whole." And Urin shuddered, but his folk laughed. Now Urin caused his followers to bear this gold to the halls of Tinwelint, and they murmured at that, but he said: "Are ye become as the drakes of Melko, that would lie and wallow in gold and seek no other joy? A sweeter life shall ye have in the court of that king of greed, an ye bear such treasury to him, than all the gold of Valinor can get you in the empty woods." Now his heart was bitter against Tinwelint, and he desired to have a vengeance on him, as may be seen.

So great was that hoard that great though Urin's company might be scarce could they bear it to the caves of Tinwelint the king, and some 'tis said was left behind and some was lost upon the way, and evil has followed its finders for ever. Yet in the end that laden host came to the bridge before the doors, and being asked by the guards Urin said: "Say to the king that Urin the Steadfast is come bearing gifts," and this was done. Then Urin let bear all that magnificence before the king, but it was hidden in sacks or shut in boxes of rough wood; and Tinwelint greeted Urin with joy and with amaze and bid him thrice welcome, and he and all his court arose in honour of that lord of Men; but Urin's heart was blind by reason of his tormented years and of the lies of Melko, and he said: "Nay, O King, I do not desire to hear such words — but say only, where is Mavwin my wife, and knowest thou what death did Nienori my daughter die?" And Tinwelint said that he knew not.

Then did Urin fiercely tell that tale, and the king and all his folk about him hid their faces for great ruth, but Urin said: "Nay, had you such a heart as have the least of Men, never would they have been lost; but lo, I bring you now a payment in full for the troubles of your puny band that went against Glorund the drake, and deserting gave up my dear ones to his power. Gaze, O Tinwelint, sweetly on my gifts, for methinks the lustre of gold is all your heart contains." Then did men cast down that treasury at the king's feet, uncovering it so that all that court were dazzled and amazed — but Urin's men understood now what was forward and were little pleased. "Behold the hoard of Glorund," said Urin, "bought by the death of Nienori with the blood of Turin slayer of the worm. Take it, O craven king, and be glad that some Men be brave to win thee riches."

Then were Urin's words more than Tinwelint could endure, and he said: "What meanest thou, child of Men, and wherefore upbraidest thou me? Long did I foster thy son and forgave him the evil of his deeds, and afterward thy wife I succoured, giving way against my counsel to her wild desires. Melko it is that hates thee and not I. Yet what is it to me — and wherefore dost thou of the uncouth race of Men endure to upbraid a king of the Eldalie? Lo! in Palisor my life began years uncounted before the first of Men awoke. Get thee gone, O Urin, for Melko hath bewitched thee, and take thy riches with thee" — but he forebore to slay or to bind Urin in spells, remembering his ancient valiance in the Eldar's cause. Then Urin departed, but would not touch the gold, and stricken in years he reached Hisilome and died among Men, but his words living after him bred estrangement between Elves and Men. Yet it is said that when he was dead his shade fared into the woods seeking Mavwin, and long those twain haunted the woods about the fall of Silver Bowl bewailing their children. But the Elves of Kôr have told, and they know, that at last Urin and Mavwin fared to Mandos, and Nienori was not there nor Turin their son. Turambar indeed had followed Nienori along the black pathways to the doors of Fui, but Fui would not open to them, neither would Vefantur.

Yet now the prayers of Urin and Mavwin came even to Manwe, and the Gods had mercy on their unhappy fate, so that those twain Turin and Nienori entered into Fôs'Almir, the bath of flame, even as Urwendi and her maidens had done in ages past before the first rising of the Sun, and so were all their sorrows and stains washed away, and they dwelt as shining Valar among the blessed ones, and now the love of that brother and sister is very fair; but Turambar indeed shall stand beside Fionwe in the Great Wrack, and Melko and his drakes shall curse the sword of Mormakil.'

And so saying Eltas made an end, and none asked further.