The Love and Heroism of Beren & Lúthien

(a retelling for children using free artwork on the internet) 1

Among the tales of sorrow and of ruin that come down to us from the ancient days of the elves there are some that still inspire joy. The fairest of these in the ears of the Eldar, or high elves of the light, is the tale of Beren and Lúthien. Of their lives during the Elven wars with was made , which means the Release from Bondage. It is retold here briefly without verse.

Barahir was a lord of men in the north of , a world in which the high elves and their human allies faced the great evil of Morgoth, Lord of Angband in the far north. Although Morgoth's forces had overrun his lands of Dorthonion, which lay just south of the mountain fortress of Angband, Barahir would not abandon his home. But at last there remained to him only twelve companions, and they retreated to the sacred lake of Tarn Aeluin in the midst of the hills in south Dorthonian, a pathless and untamed area where they could hide. But eventually Morgoth's spies tricked one of Barahir's companions, Gorlim, making him believe they had captured his lost wife. In fact, they had already slain

1 This version edited by John Davenport adapts portions from Tolkien's texts, mainly from . For the earliest version, see Tolkien, vol.II. For a full retelling based on all the primary sources, see 's Beren & Lúthien (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 2017). For the partial Lay of Lethian itself in verse, see the History of Middle Earth vol.III. All rights belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. I make this version freely available as a way of introducing younger children to one of Tolkien's greatest narratives, which stands at the heart of his vision, as is most clear in the Silmarillion .

her long before. Using his spells of deception and guile, , a great evil spirit, tricked Gorlim into revealing the hiding place of Barahir, and then killed poor Gorlim. Thus Morgoth drew his net about Tarn Aeluin; and the (monsters made from elves by Morgoth) came in the hour before dawn, surprised the men of Dorthonion and slew them all, save one. For Beren son of Barahir had been sent by his father on a perilous errand to spy upon the ways of the Enemy, and he was far afield when his father's home was taken. But as he slept, the ghost of Gorlim warned Beren in his dreams, and he ran home to find Tarn Aeluin ruined. After Beren buried his father's bones, and raised a cairn of boulders above him, he pursued the Orcs and slew them all -- for Beren was tall and mighty with a blade, though he was still young. From the Orcs, he recovered the ring given to his father by Finrod Felegund, the Elven lord of Nargathrond, a kingdom hidden in the hills

far southwest of Dorthonion. Thereafter Beren wandered still upon Dorthonion as a solitary outlaw; but Morgoth set a price upon his head, and Sauron, the dreadful servant of Morgoth, brought a host of werewolves to search for Beren. He was driven south into the terrible mountains of Ered Gorgoroth, the mountains of horror. For Sauron had cast shadows upon them under which evil things roamed. In the wilderness of Dungortheb, south of the cliffs of Gorgoroth, the sorcery of Sauron was met and opposed by the power of , a spirit equal in strength to Sauron himself. Maia beings are like embodied in some form on Earth, and Melian's subtlety was great among them. Around the elven forest realm of Doriath, she had set a wall of power that was named the Girdle of Melian. Beren fought his way though Dungortheb, fending off terrible giant spiders that walked there like hallucinations in the madness that arose from the battling powers of Sauron and Melian. Beren never thereafter spoke of that terrible journey, and none save Lúthien knew how he found a way through the barrier into the mazes that Melian wove about the kingdom of , even as she had foreseen; for a great doom lay upon him. Thus it is told in the Lay of Leithian that Beren came stumbling into Doriath grey and bowed as with woe, so great had been the torment of his path. While any other who wandered into Melian's Girdle unguided would have been forever lost in the illusions it created, Beren's sorrow was so deep that he did not perceive the fair seemings and mirages of the Girdle as he passed through into the mild winter of Doriath itself. Then, wandering in the woods of Neldoreth, he finally came upon Lúthien, daughter of

King Thingol and Melian, the fairest of all elves ever born (for she was half-Maia spirit herself), Beren first saw her from a distance in the evening under a full moon,

as she danced upon the unfading grass in the glades beside lake Esgalduin.

Upon seeing this vision, all memory of his pain departed from Beren, and he fell into an enchantment; for Lúthien was the most beautiful of all the Children of God (or Ilúvater as the elves name Him) who ever walked upon this Earth. Her raiment was blue as the unclouded heaven, but her eyes were silver as the starlit evening; her mantle was sewn with golden flowers, but her hair was dark as the shadows of twilight. As the light upon the leaves of trees, as the voice of clear waters, as the stars above the mists of the world, such was her glory and her loveliness; and in her face was a shining light.

But on seeing him, she vanished from Beren sight; and he became dumb or speechless, as one that is bound under a spell, wandering in the woods like a wary beast, seeking for her. In his heart he called her Tinuviel, that signifies Nightingale, daughter of twilight, in the Grey-elven language -- for he knew no other name for her. Each night he saw her from afar, but when he caught up to her dancing place, she was vanished like a faerie. Then finally, near dawn on the eve of spring, and Lúthien danced upon a green hill under a full moon, and suddenly she began to sing. Her song was keen, heart-piercing, like the lark that rises from the gates of night and pours its voice among the dying stars, seeing the sun behind the walls of the world. For Lúthien was full of her mother's arts and powers, and her song indeed came from beyond this world, releasing the bonds of winter. During her threnody, the frozen waters thawed and flowed, and flowers sprang from the cold earth where her feet had passed. Then the spell of silence fell from Beren, and he called to her, crying "Tinuviel!" And the woods echoed the name. At this, she halted in wonder, and fled no more, and Beren came to her. But as she looked on him, doom fell upon her, and she loved him. She did not immediately understand the love she felt; instead, it made

her afraid, as it was like nothing she had felt before. So she slipped from Beren's arms and vanished from his sight even as the day was breaking. Then Beren lay upon the ground in a swoon, as one slain at once by bliss and grief; and he fell into a dream in which he was like a person stricken with sudden blindness, who seeks with hands to find the vanished light. For he knew that Lúthien, being elven, was undying: her people had no natural limit to their life-span; and though their bodies could be killed by malice or accident, their spirits would remain with this Earth until the End of Time when all things will be remade. Beren had seen a high elven maiden once or twice in his youth, but Tinuviel was greater than these: her eyes expressed a glory within her unlike anything he had ever beheld. For even among the high elves Lúthien was special -- not only because she was the Princess of Doriath, but because in all Middle Earth, only Lúthien had a Maian mother (a being not only undying but immortal, made by God before this world). But Lúthien remembered the rough-hewn human man whose name she did not yet know, and she finally returned to him where he sat in darkness. Long ago there, in the Hidden Kingdom of Doriath, she laid her hand in his and they spoke for the first time. Thereafter often she came to him, and they went in secret through the woods together from spring to summer; and no others of the Children of God, have had joy so great, though the time was brief. But Daeron the minstrel also loved Lúthien, and he espied her meetings with Beren, and betrayed them to Thingol. Then the King was filled with anger, for Lúthien he loved above all things, setting her above all the princes of the Elves; whereas mortal Men he did not even take into his service. Therefore he spoke in grief and amazement to Lúthien, asking what she could see in a mere human being; but she would reveal nothing, until he swore an oath to her that he would neither slay Beren nor imprison him. Lúthien then led Beren into the great underground eleven city of Menegroth where Thingol and Melian had their thrones. He walked in amazement through its halls filled with fountains, jewels, and flowers as if he were an honored guest.

Then King Thingol asked Beren in scorn, "Who are you who come hither as a thief, and unbidden dare to approach my throne?" Beren at first felt too much dread to speak, for the splendour of Menegroth and the majesty of Thingol & Melian were very great. Thus Lúthien said: 'He is Beren son of Barahir, lord of Men, mighty foe of Morgoth, the tale of whose deeds is become a song even among the Elves. But Thingol demanded, ''Let Beren speak! Why have you entered this forbidden land, and why should my power not punish you for such insolence and folly?" Then Beren looking up beheld the eyes of Lúthien, and his glance went also to the face of Melian, and love for Lúthien mixed with the pride of his ancestors. He strode forward before the throne of elves and said: My fate, O King, led me hither, through perils that even most of your elven lords would never dare. And here I have found what I sought not indeed, but finding I would hold forever. For it is above all gold and silver, and beyond all jewels. Neither rock, nor steel, nor the fires of Morgoth, nor all the powers of the -kingdoms, shall keep from me the treasure that I desire. For Lúthien your daughter is the fairest of all the Children of the World, and I would marry her, with your leave, oh king . The whole hall of the King fell silent in shock, as if struck by a thunderbolt, and all present feared that Thingol would rise up that instant to slay Beren. The King's brow darkened like a thunderhead, and he said "These words would have earned you death, if I had not sworn an oath in haste. What are you but a miserable wretch without lordship or honor?" But Beren answered, "Death you can give me earned

or unearned; but I bear the ring of King Felagund, that he gave to Barahir my father as thanks for our aid in battle long ago." Beren held up this great ring, with two intertwining serpents made by elven smiths, and the whole court was amazed. Slowly, Thingol then responded: "I see the ring, son of Barahir, and I perceive that you are proud, and deem yourself mighty. But your father's favor rendered to another elf-lord shall not win my daughter. Since you ask so much, perhaps I might ask for a small token in return." And then the king laughed a scornful laugh. "Since you boast that the threats of Morgoth do not daunt you, bring to me in your hand a Silmaril from Morgoth's crown!! And then, if she will, Lúthien may marry thee!" As King Thingol's dare reverberated through the throne room, his court staggered in shock. The elven lords there gasped in horror, and some of the fine elven ladies even fainted -- so impossible was the task that he proposed to poor Beren, the bold young man from Dorthonion. For the three were the finest jewels in the world, with powers beyond conception. They had been made by Feanor, the greatest of all elven smiths in the most ancient days. In them, he captured the mingled light of the Two Trees of , the giant trees grown by the Valar, the highest of the angelic Maia, whose gold and silver light lit the whole realm of the Valinor. Before they were destroyed by Morgoth, these Trees stood over 10,000 feet high apiece, and every tree we see today is a mere image or minor reflection of their original glory. Yet now their sacred light survived only within the three Silmarils, which were like giant diamonds larger each than a man's hand. None could look upon them without awe and amazement, for the light blazing forth from their cores was like a slice of the primordial Light out of which God made the cosmos.

But Morgoth had stolen the Silmarils, and set them in his terrible Iron Crown, where their glory pierced through the shadows that smothered out hope in his mountain fortress of Angband. This stronghold itself was said to be impregnable; its outer walls were unassailably high, and its deep caverns lying under the Mountains of Shadow in the north could be reached by only two entrances guarded by the most terrifying monsters. And even if one could somehow cross these threshold, a score of ringed round Morgoth's throne room. The Balrogs were terrible Maia spirits turned evil by the dark malice of Morgoth's lies, wielding whips of deadly fire. And beyond this, no mortal could ever dare to challenge Morgoth himself, mightiest of the Valar who turned to evil through his envy of God. He appeared on Earth in giant form and he never removed his crown. Morgoth had already slain the of the elves in direct combat, and no other elf or man could fight him. Thus in his heart, Beren despaired on hearing Thingol's words, but his pride remained. He laughed and replied, "For little price," he said, "do Elven-kings sell their daughters. But if this be your will, O Thingol, I will accomplish it! And when we meet again my hand shall hold a Silmaril from the Iron Crown!" Then Beren said farewell to Lúthien Tinuviel, and after bowing before Thingol and Melian, he departed from Menegroth alone. Lúthien wanted to follow him, but her father restrained her; she was silent then, and from that hour she sang not again in Doriath. Yet Thingol saw that Lúthien's heart might move her to go after Beren to dissuade him from this fatal . So he had Lúthien imprisoned in a high tree house reached only by an enormous ladder, which the guards removed each day after they brought her food and attended to her needs. There Lúthien wept in sorrow, but her mother Melian came to visit her often. Though she could not gainsay the King's orders, Melian began to teach her daughter to recognize and use more of the secret potencies within her; she instructed Lúthien in enchantments beyond the abilities of even to the most lore-wise elves. As Lúthien studied in her tree-house, Beren left Doriath and came at length to the Falls of the Sirion, where the great river plunged. Climbing the falls, he looked westward and descried afar the highlands of Taur-en-Faroth that rose above the kingdom of Nargothrond. And being destitute, without hope or counsel, he turned

his feet thither. The plain he crossed was guarded by hidden elves but he held high before him the Ring of Felagund as a sign and said, "'I am Beren son of Barahir, friend of Felagund." Aforelong the guards brought him blindfolded through the secret ways to King 's realm deep within the mountains, and the King knew him, welcoming Beren as a friend. In private they sat and Beren told him everything that had transpired. Felagund heard his tale in wonder and disquiet; but he remembered an oath he had sworn long ago to Barahir. "It is plain that Thingol desires your death; and yet you seem determined to seek Angband." Beren replied that this was true: "I will go there in search of the Silmarils, even without hope; for Lúthien is dearer than life to me." "Yes," Felagund said, but you shall not go alone! I will accompany you with a few of my most trusty warriors, as far as may be. Hopeless as your cause may seem, I have arts that may yet aid thee." Beren was amazed and thankful but tried to argue that it was too dangerous, that the King should stay with his people. But Felagund was one of the purest and most honorable of the high elven lords in Middle Earth, and he held his promise to Barahir as sacred. So the next day, he gave his crown to Orodreth his brother to govern in his stead. And then, on an evening in autumn, Finrod Felagund and Beren set out northeast again, taking with them the great hound Huan, whose like has never been seen again on Earth. Though his form was like a dog, Huan was twice the size of an ordinary wolf and full of Maia power. He had been given by the Valar themselves to Finrod's family long ago, and was blessed with the power to speak three times in his life, at uttermost need. So they set out with ten companions; and they journeyed beside Narog to his source in the Falls of Ivrin. Beneath the Shadowy Mountains they came upon a company of Orcs, and slew them all in their camp by night; and they took their gear and their weapons. By the arts of Felagund their own forms and faces were changed into the likeness of Orcs; and thus disguised they came far upon their northward road, and ventured into the pass between Ered Wethrin mountains on the left and the highlands of Taur-nu-Fuin on the right. But this way ran right by the Tower of Tol Sirion, upon an island in the midst of the great river. Sauron watched the way from that tower, and he doubted them, because they went in haste and one of them moved more like a dog than an .

When Beren saw that servants of Sauron were approaching to challenge them, he sent Huan (in his orc disguise) away with an urgent plea: "Fly southeast towards Doriath and tell Queen Melian that Beren is dead, so that Lúthien may not doubt forever." Huan slipped away but the rest of Felagund's company was brought before Sauron the shape-changer. Thus befell the contest between Sauron and Felagund which is renowned among all elves. For Felagund strove against Sauron's spirit with songs of might, and the power of the King was very great; but Sauron's eye strove to pierce through his web of illusions. As is told in the Lay of Leithian :

He chanted a song of wizardry, Of piercing, opening, of treachery, Revealing, uncovering, betraying. Then sudden Felagund there swaying, Sang in a song of staying, Resisting, battling against power, Of secrets kept, strength like a tower, And trust unbroken, freedom, escape; Of changing and shifting shape, Of snares eluded, broken traps, The prison opening, the chain that snaps. Backwards and forwards swayed their song. Reeling foundering, as ever more strong The chanting swelled, Felagund fought, And all the magic and might he brought Of Elvenesse into his words. Softly in the gloom they heard the birds Singing afar in Nargothrond, The sighting of the Sea beyond, Beyond the western world, on sand, On sand of pearls on Elvenland. Then in the doom gathered; darkness growing In Valinor, the red blood flowing Beside the Sea, where the slew The Foamriders, and stealing drew Their white ships with their white sails From lamplit havens. But the wind wails, The wolf howls.

The ravens flee. The ice mutters in the mouths of the Sea. The captives sad in Angband mourn. Thunder rumbles, the fires burn. And Finrod fell before the throne.

Then Sauron stripped them all of their disguise, but though their kinds were revealed, Sauron could not discover their names or their purposes. He cast them therefore into a deep pit, dark and silent, and threatened to slay them cruelly, unless one would betray the truth to him. From time to time they saw two eyes kindled in the dark, and a werewolf sent by Sauron devoured one of the companions; but still, none betrayed their lord.

When Sauron cast Beren into the pit of despair, a weight of horror came upon Lúthien's heart; from her mother, she learned that Beren lay in the dungeons of Sauron without hope of rescue. For Melian could see this even without Huan's tidings, as Beren did not know. Then Lúthien resolved to go to Beren herself to aid him, and so she planned her escape from her tree house in Hirilorn. Using her arts of enchantment, she caused her hair to grow to great length, and of it she wove a dark robe that wrapped her beauty like a shadow, and it was laden with a spell of sleep that would strike any who saw her on her way. Of the strands that remained she twined a rope, and she let it down from her window; and as the end swayed above the guards that sat beneath the house they fell into a deep slumber. Then Lúthien climbed down from her prison, and shrouded in her shadowy cloak she escaped from all eyes, and vanished out of Doriath to seek Beren.

It chanced then that Huan saw Lúthien just as she was flying out of Doriath through the Girdle of Melian; for nothing could escape the sight and scent of this magic beast, nor could any enchantment stay him, and he slept not, neither by night nor day. Though he had loved only his master Felagund before that day, Huan perceived the noble heart of Lúthien, even through her cloak of magic; and he was struck by the beauty of her desperate will. For the first time then in his life, Huan spoke with human words, declaring, "O Lady of Veiled Wonder, I know not whether we can succour my master Finrod and your beloved Beren. But I will help you, and whether it may be done or no, we shall try to the last!" Then Huan humbled his pride and suffered Lúthien to ride him, as he had never allowed any human person before. They raced together across the leagues towards Sauron's tower on the island, for Huan was swift and tireless. In the pits of Sauron, Beren and Felagund lay alone; all their companions were now dead. But Sauron focused on Felagund, perceiving him to be a high elf of great might and wisdom, who kept the secret of their errand. Thus Sauron sent his werewolf for Beren. But at that moment, Felagund put forth all his power, and burst his bonds; and he wrestled with the werewolf, and slew it with his hands and teeth; yet he was also wounded to the death. Then he spoke to Beren, saying: 'I go now to my long rest in the timeless halls beyond the seas and the Mountains of Valinor. But I bid you not to despair, for new hope may sometimes come from places not yet imagined." He died then in the dark, in Tol-in-Gaurhoth, which once had been the fair tower of Tol Sirion until Sauron made it a den of werewolves. In that hour Lúthien came with Huan, and standing upon the bridge that led to Sauron's isle, she sang a song that no walls of stone could hinder. Beren heard, and he thought that he dreamed; for the stars shone above him, and in the trees nightingales were singing. And in answer he sang a song of challenge that he had

made in praise of the Seven Stars, the Sickle that Elbereth, queen of the Valar, hung above the North as a sign for the fall of Morgoth. But Lúthien heard his answering voice, and she knew then that Beren was still alive in the dungeons. And she sang then a song of greater power. The wolves howled, and the isle trembled, but Sauron stood in the high tower, wrapped in his black thought, and sent a werewolf over the bridge to meet this new enemy. Huan slew it silently. Hearing no report, Sauron sent other werewolves one by one; and one by one Huan took them by the throat and slew them. Then Sauron sent Draugluin, a dread beast, who was sire of all the werewolves of Angband. His might was great; and the battle of Huan and Draugluin was long and fierce. Injured to death, Draugluin finally escaped, and fleeing back into the tower, he died before Sauron's feet; and as he died he told his master: 'Huan is there!' Now Sauron knew that his enemy was the Hound of Valinor. Therefore he took upon himself the form of a werewolf, and made himself the mightiest that had yet walked the world; and he came forth to win the passage of the bridge. So great was the horror of his approach that even Huan leaped aside. Then Sauron sprang upon Lúthien; and she swooned before the menace of the fell spirit in his eyes and the foul vapour of his breath. But even as he came, falling she cast a fold of her dark cloak before his eyes; and he stumbled, for a fleeting drowsiness came upon him. Then Huan sprang. There befell the battle of Huan and Wolf- Sauron, and howls and baying echoed in the hills. But by no wizardry nor spell, neither fang nor venom, nor 's art nor beast-strength, could Sauron overthrow Huan without forsaking his body utterly. Finally, Huan pinned Sauron to the ground, and Lúthien said to him: "Now we will slay your mortal body and send your naked spirit back to Morgoth, to endure the torment of his scorn, pierced by his eyes, unless thou yield to me the mastery of thy tower."

Then Sauron yielded, and Lúthien took the mastery of the isle and all that was there; and Huan released him. And immediately Sauron took the form of a vampire, great as a dark cloud across the moon, and he fled, dripping blood from his throat. Lúthien stood upon the bridge, and declared her power: and the spell was loosed that bound stone to stone, and the gates were thrown down, and the walls opened, and the pits laid bare; and many thralls and captives came forth. But Beren came not. Therefore Huan and Lúthien sought him in the ruins; and Lúthien found him mourning by Felagund's body. So deep was his anguish that he did not believe it when Lúthien spoke to him. "Beloved," he replied, "how can your voice come to me in a dream in this dark place? My mind is lost in grief." Then Lúthien shook him and Huan howled in sorrow for the loss of his noble master, and Beren finally looked up in

wonder, and the sun rising over the dark hills shone upon them. They buried the body of Felagund upon the hill-top of his own isle, and it was clean again; and the green grave of Finrod Felagund son, fairest of all the princes of the Elves, remained inviolate. Now Beren and Lúthien Tinuviel went free again and together walked through the woods renewing for a time their original joy; and though winter came it hurt them not, for flowers lingered where Lúthien went, and the birds sang beneath the snow clad hills. As winter deepened, though, Beren took thought of his vow; Lúthien perceived his heart and said, "You must choose, Beren, between these two: to relinquish the quest and your oath and seek a life of wandering upon the face of the earth; or to hold to your word and challenge the power of darkness upon its throne. But on either road I shall go with you, and our doom shall be alike." Beren was awed, yet feared too much for her. Accepting his own death, he wanted Lúthien to live. So finally, as she slept, Beren stole away northward on a horse they had found, and came through the pass of Sirion, to the borders of wastes that

lay before Angband. There he sung Song of Parting, in praise of Lúthien and the lights of heaven; for he believed that he must now say farewell to love and light:

"Farewell sweet earth and northern sky, for ever blest, since here did lie and here with lissom limbs did run beneath the Moon, beneath the Sun, Lúthien Tinuviel more fair than mortal tongue can tell. Though all to ruin fell the world and were dissolved and backward hurled unmade into the old abyss, yet were its making good, for this- the dusk, the dawn, the earth, the sea that Lúthien for a time should be.

And he sang aloud, caring not what ear should overhear him, for he was desperate and looked for no escape. But Lúthien heard his song, and she sang in answer, as she came through the woods unlooked for. For Huan, consenting once more to be her steed, had borne her swiftly hard upon Beren's trail. Thus Beren and Lúthien met again on the borders of the northern wastes; and for a while he was silent and was glad; but after a space he strove once more to dissuade Lúthien from this fell journey. "Thrice now I curse my oath to Thingol," he said, "and I wish that he had slain me in Menegroth, rather than I should bring you under the shadow of Morgoth." Then for the second time Huan spoke with words; and he counseled Beren, saying: "From the shadow of death you can no longer save Lúthien, for by her love she is now subject to it. You can turn from your fate and lead her into exile, seeking peace in vain while your life lasts. But if you will not deny your doom, then either Lúthien, being forsaken, must assuredly die alone, or she must with you challenge the fate that lies before you -- hopeless, yet not certain . Disguise yourselves as well as now may be, and I will go with you to the very gate of Morgoth's Hell." Then Beren perceived that Lúthien could not be divided from the doom that lay upon them both, and he no longer sought to dissuade her. At Huan's direction they put on disguises. By Lúthien's arts, Beren was arrayed now in the hame of Draugluin the wolf, and she took on the winged shape of a bat, wheeling and flying

above the werewolf shape. In these grim guises, they crossed the wastes of Morgoth's realms with Huan, and came on the road towards the Gates of Angband. Black chasms opened beside the road, whence forms as of writhing serpents issued. On either side, the cliffs stood like embattled walls, and upon them sat carrion fowl crying with fell voices. Before them was the impregnable Gate of Angband, an arch wide and dark at the foot of the mountain; above it reared a thousand feet of precipice. There dismay took them, for at the gate was an unexpected guard. Rumor of plots against him had come to Morgoth, and he had heard the baying of Huan, the great hound of war, whom long ago the Valar unleashed. Then Morgoth chose one werewolf pup from the race of Draugluin; and he fed him with his own hand upon living flesh, and put his power upon him. Swiftly the wolf grew huge, until he could creep into no den, but lay huge and hungry before the feet of Morgoth. There the fire and anguish of hell entered into him, and he became filled with a devouring spirit, tormented, terrible, and strong. Carcharoth, the Red Maw, he was named. And Morgoth set him to lie unsleeping before the doors of Angband, lest Huan come. When Huan saw this dread enemy from afar, his fir bristled as he prepared himself for the challenge. But Beren forbade it, warning that such a fight at the gates would alert all of Morgoth's city to their presence. Lúthien agreed, and the bade Huan return some leagues across the wastes and wait for them. He agreed with a heavy heart, and slunk back while the disguised pair crept closer to the fearful gate.

Now Carcharoth espied them from afar, and he was filled with doubt; for news had long been brought to Angband that Draugluin was dead, yet here Beren appeared in Draugluin's form. Therefore when they approached he denied them entry, and bade them stand; and he drew near with menace, scenting something strange in the air about them. But suddenly some power, descended from of old from divine Maia, possessed Lúthien, and casting back her foul raiment she stood forth, small before the might of Carcharoth, but radiant and terrible. Lifting up her hand she commanded him to sleep, saying: 'O woe-begotten spirit, fall now into dark oblivion, and forget for a while the dreadful doom of life.' And Carcharoth was felled, as though lightning had smitten him. So Beren and Lúthien went through the awful gate, and down the labyrinthine stairs; and then together wrought the greatest deed that has been dared by elves or men. For they came to the very seat of Morgoth in his nethermost hall that was upheld by horror, lit by fire, and filled with weapons of death and torment. And the light of the three Silmarils pierced through the gloom like rays of gold and silver. There Beren slunk in wolf's form beneath Morgoth's throne; but Lúthien was stripped of her disguise by Morgoth's will, and he bent his gaze upon her. She was not daunted by his eyes; she declared her own name, and offered her service to sing before him, in the manner of a minstrel.

Then Morgoth looking upon her beauty conceived an idea more evil than any before: to make her his wife, in spite of the elves his enemies. Thus he was beguiled by his own malice, for he watched her, leaving her free for awhile, and gloating over his capture and his new plan. But suddenly Lúthien eluded his sight, and out of the shadows began a song of such surpassing loveliness, and of such blinding power, that he listened perforce; and a blindness came upon him, as his eyes roamed to and fro, seeking her. Then all Morgoth's court were cast down in slumber, and all the fires faded and were quenched; but the Silmarils in the crown on Morgoth's head blazed forth suddenly with a radiance of white flame; and the burden of that crown and of the jewels bowed down his head, as though the weight of the world were set upon it. Then Lúthien catching up her winged robe sprang into the air, and her voice came dropping down like rain into pools, profound and dark. She cast her cloak before Morgoth's eyes, and set

upon him a dream, dark as the outer Void where once he walked alone. Suddenly he fell in sleep, as a hill sliding in avalanche; hurled like thunder from his throne, he lay prone upon the floors of hell. His iron crown rolled echoing from his head. All things in Angband were still in the dreadful silence of that moment. Then Beren cast aside the wolf-hame. and he drew forth the knife Angrist, given to him by his father. Swiftly he took up Morgoth's massive crown and from its iron claws, Beren cut a single Silmaril! As he closed it in his hand, its radiance welled through his living flesh, and his hand became as a shining lamp; but the jewel allowed his touch and hurt him not. For several moments he and Lúthien were overcome

with wonder. But it came then into Beren's mind that he would go beyond his vow, and bear out of Angband all three of the great Jewels of Fëanor. But this was not fated: as he tried to cut the second Silmaril from the crown, the knife Angrist snapped, and a shard of the blade went flying, smiting the cheek of Morgoth. He

groaned and stirred, and all the host of Angband started to move in their sleep. Then terror fell upon Beren and Lúthien; with their rescued Silmaril, they fled, heedless and without disguise, desiring only to see the light once more. They were neither hindered nor pursued, but the gate was held against their going out; for Carcharoth had arisen from sleep, and stood now in wrath upon the threshold of Angband. Before they were aware of him, he saw them, and sprang upon them as they ran. Lúthien was spent, and she had not time nor strength to quell the wolf again. But Beren strode forth before her, and in his right hand he held aloft the Silmaril. Carcharoth halted, and for a moment was afraid. "Get you gone, and fly!" cried Beren; "for here is a fire that shall consume you, and all evil things." And he thrust the Silmaril before the eyes of the wolf. But Carcharoth looked upon that holy jewel and the devouring spirit within him awoke to sudden fire; gaping, he took suddenly Beren's hand within his jaws, and he bit it off at the wrist. Then swiftly all his inwards were filled with a flame of anguish, and the Silmaril seared his accursed flesh. Howling he fled before them out the gate and across the wastelands, with cries of torment. So terrible did he become in his madness that all the creatures of Morgoth that abode in that valley fled far away, for he slew all living things that stood in his path, and burst from the North with ruin upon the world. Of all the terrors that

came ever into Beleriand ere Angband's fall the madness of Carcharoth was the most dreadful; for the power of the Silmaril was within him. Now Beren lay in a swoon within the perilous Gate, and death drew nigh him for there was venom on the fangs of the wolf. Lúthien with her lips drew out the venom, and she put forth her failing power to staunch the hideous wound. But behind her in the depths of Angband the rumour grew of great wrath aroused. The host of Morgoth were awakened. Thus the quest of the Silmaril was like to have ended in ruin and despair; but in that hour above the wall of the valley mighty birds appeared, flying northward with wings swifter than the wind. Among all birds and beasts the wandering and need of Beren had been noticed, and Huan himself had bidden all things watch, that they might bring him aid. High above the realm of Morgoth Thorondor, King of Eagles and his kindred soared; and seeing now the madness of the Wolf and Beren's fall they came swiftly down like a meteor from the sky. They lifted up Lúthien and Beren from the Gate of Angband and bore them aloft into the clouds. Below them suddenly thunder rolled, lightnings leaped upward, and the mountains quaked. Fire and smoke belched forth from Thangorodrim, and flaming bolts were hurled in Morgoth's infinite rage. But Thorondor took his way far above the earth, seeking the high roads of heaven, where the sun daylong shines unveiled and the moon walks amid the cloudless stars. Thus they passed swiftly over the ruined lands, and looking down Lúthien saw far below, as a white light starting from a green jewel, the City of Gondolin, most beautiful of all that have ever been built encircled in its ring of protecting mountains. She wept, for she thought that Beren would surely die, he spoke no word, nor opened his eyes, and knew thereafter nothing of his flight. Yet he still lived when the eagles set them down on the borders of Doriath, where Huan found his beloved masters once more.

Handmaidens of Melian came to aid Lúthien then in secret. But Beren's spirit wandered upon the dark borders of death, knowing every an anguish that pursued him from dream to dream. Then suddenly, when her hope was almost spent, he woke again, and looked up, seeing leaves against the sky; and he heard beneath the leaves singing soft and slow beside him Lúthien Tinuviel. And it was spring again. Thereafter Beren was named Erchamion, which is the One-handed; and suffering was graven in his face. But at last he was drawn back to life by the love of Lúthien, and he arose, and together they walked in the woods once more. Doriath had fallen on evil days since her departure; Thingol barely spoke or ate in his grief, and Melian would not counsel him, saying that his choices had driven Beren and Lúthien towards their doom. The king sought news of his daughter and heard rumors from Nargothrond, but his messengers returning with news of Felagund's death were imperiled by the sudden onslaught of Carcharoth. In his madness he had run ravening from the north, and passing at length over Taur- nu-Fuin upon its eastern side into the inviolate woods of Doriath where he raged like madness north of Menegroth. Even in that dark hour Beren and Lúthien returned to Menegroth, and the news of their coming went before them like a sound of music borne. Then Beren led Lúthien before the throne of Thingol her father; and he looked in wonder upon Beren and joy on seeing his daughter again. "What of your quest, and of your vow?" the king

asked. Beren answered: "It is fulfilled. Even now a Silmaril is in my hand." But when the king asked to see this miracle, Beren held up his right arm where his hand had once been. Then Thingol's mood was softened; and Beren and Lúthien sat with him and told all the tale of the Quest, while all the court listened in amazement. And it seemed to Thingol that this Man was unlike all other mortal Men, and among the great in Arda, and he perceived that his daughter's love for him might not be withstood by any power of the world. Therefore at the last he yielded, and Beren took the hand of Lúthien in marriage before all the court. But they had no time for peace, because daily Carcharoth drew nearer to Menegroth. Therefore the king and Beren prepared an armed party to go hunting for this terrible wolf, worst of all that ever lived. To that chase went Huan the Hound of Valinor, and Mablung of the Heavy Hand, and Beleg Strongbow, and Beren Erchamion, and Thingol King of Doriath. They rode forth in the morning and passed over the River Esgalduin while Lúthien remained behind at the gates of Menegroth. Following the course of the river north, they came at last upon Carcharoth in a dark valley where the river Esgalduin fell in a torrent over steep falls. At the foot of the falls Carcharoth drank to ease his consuming thirst, and he howled, and thus they were aware of him, But he espyied their approach and waited while they set a ring about him. Beren stood beside Thingol, and suddenly they were aware that Huan had left their side. Then a great baying awoke in the thicket; for Huan becoming impatient and desiring to look upon this wolf had gone in alone to dislodge him. But Carcharoth avoided him, and bursting form the thorns leaped suddenly upon Thingol. Swiftly Beren strode before him with a spear, but it only glanced through the wolf's side, and Carcharoth felled Beren then a second time, biting at his breast. In that moment Huan leaped from the thicket upon the back of the Wolf, and they fell together fighting bitterly; and

no battle of wolf and hound has been like to it, for in the baying of Huan was heard the voice of the horns of the Valar, but in the howls of Carcharoth was the hate of Morgoth and malice crueller than teeth of steel; and the rocks were rent by their clamour and fell from on high and choked the falls of Esgalduin. There they fought to the death; but Thingol tended Beren, seeing that he was sorely hurt. Huan in that hour slew Carcharoth; but there in the woven woods of Doriath his own doom long spoken was fulfilled, and he was wounded mortally, and the venom of Morgoth entered into him. Then he came, and falling beside Beren spoke for the third time with words; and he said farewell, bidding Beren to love Lúthien as long as this world shall last. Beren spoke not, but laid his hand upon the head of the dying hound, and so they parted. Mablung and Beleg came hastening to the King's aid, but when they looked upon what was done they cast aside their spears and wept. For Beren was also badly wounded, lying close to death next to Huan. Then Mablung took a knife and ripped up the belly of the Wolf; and within he was well nigh all consumed as with a fire, but the hand of Beren that held the jewel was yet incorrupt. But when Mablung reached forth to touch it, the hand was no more, and the Silmaril lay there unveiled, and the light of it filled the shadows of the forest all about them. Then quickly Mablung took it and set it in Beren's living hand; and Beren was aroused by the touch of the Silmaril, and held it aloft, and bade Thingol receive it. "Now is the Quest achieved,' he said, "and my doom full-wrought."

They bore back Beren son of Barahir upon a bier of branches with Huan the wolfhound at his side; and night fell ere they returned to Menegroth and Lúthien hurried to meet them. She sensed that Beren was dying, and knew that on his death they would be sundered until God remade this world anew. For it was the destiny of human souls to leave this world until the hereafter, while the spirits of fallen elvenkind would remain with it in Valinor among the Valar (archangels). But Beren's spirit tarried, and Lúthien at last appealed to Mandos, the of Fate. While she grasped the Silmaril in Beren's hand, Lúthien's spirit appeared also before Mandos. He told her that fate was absolute and cannot change. But she sang to him, and the song of Lúthien before Mandos was the song most fair that ever in words was woven, and the song most sorrowful that ever the world shall ever hear. Unchanged, imperishable, it is sung still in Valinor beyond the hearing of the world, and the listening the Valar grieved. For Lúthien wove two themes of words, of the sorrow of the Eldar and the grief of human beings. And as she knelt before him her tears fell upon his feet like rain upon stones; and Mandos was moved to pity, who never before was so moved. Therefore he called on his brethren and it was decided that Beren could return to Lúthien, but only if she gave up the immortal life of the elves and joined Beren's human fate. When Beren awoke in Menegroth, King Thingol perceived that Lúthien was changed. Though her beauty was greater than ever, she had become human, joined in fate forever with Beren her soulmate. In token of her sacrifice, Thingol caused his smiths to make a necklace of finest silver, into which the Silmaril was set. In thanks for their great service, Beren and Lúthien were given a land east in Thingol's realm, where the light of the Silmaril on Lúthien's chest made a land without darkness and sorrow, where ever broken hearts were healed by the sacred light of the Two Trees shining from that sacred jewel. There Beren and Lúthien's son Dior was born and raised, and he carried the Silmaril after his parents passing.

For both were now mortal, and they grew old in joy and peace. But no one on this earth marked the moment of their death, and not even Dior found their bodies. Some say, when they passed together beyond this life, like Beren's lost hand, their bodies were absorbed into that eternal crystal. Just as the light of the Trees mingled therein, so their spirits are joined together now in the heart of the Silmaril.

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

Endnote : my thanks to all the work of anonymous artists borrowed from the internet and used here to bring this great romance to life for all. Tolkien believed that human persons were created to be artists who would offer their wonders freely to all (as much as the need for a living might allow) -- recognizing that none of us create anything absolutely from nothing, but owe our debt to the divine owner of everything. It would be worth the effort, in my estimation, to make new paintings and drawings depicting Beren and Luthien in different skintones and features. While this kind of fairy tale romance is a genre originating in European cultures, and thus tends to feature persons with more Caucasian features, there is nothing essential about that and it should be varied widely as romance becomes a global genre. Indeed this story, from which so much of later derived, is centrally about the transcending of racial boundaries, and overcoming fears and doubts that have divided the opponents of evil to their ruin. Finally I should emphasize that in effort to make a narrative readable by children as young as age 10, this version shortens some of Tolkien's prose and leaves out some aspects of his story, including the subplot with the sons of Fëanor trying to steal Lúthien away. I have also simplified the ending in which Lúthien's spirit apparently leaves her body and travels to the Halls of Mandos to seek after Beren once more. I am solely responsible for any infelicities that result and may try to improve this version in time. For now, share it freely with all. John J. Davenport ([email protected])