Tale of Niphredil, The: 1. The Tale of Niphredil

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1. The Tale of Niphredil

In the time of Lúthien there came into Arda an elf maid from an unknown land. None knew from whence she had come for she would speak aught of her origin. In truth she hailed from a distant reach of Eä, where there were other worlds and peoples, and she had already there a name and a history. But when she set foot upon the shores of Arda she took upon her the name of Niphredil, for she was a pale beauty; and she wore a magic veil as it were a cloak to mask her loveliness. In her own home she was the most beautiful woman ever to have lived, but in Arda was that true already of another.

So it was that Niphredil came to be in Beleriand, and she made her way to Doriath, where she offered herself to be a lady to Lúthien Thingol’s daughter. Thus she passed many years in Doriath beneath the stars of Varda, and she came to know Arda, and to love it. Yet there was about her a sadness, and an anger, of which none knew the cause; and she would give her heart to no man.

But when Beren son of Barahir came to Doriath, and won the love of Lúthien, and all that followed led to the eventual downfall of Doriath, Niphredil was sorely wounded in the fighting and was left as dead in the caves of Menegroth. She drew about her what enchantment she yet possessed to cling to life. Thus she was when a traveler wandered through the wreckage and found her lying as one dead within the once-glittering halls.

The traveler was an elf lord called Galamîr Dursul, and he was bound by a dark curse of which this tale can not give the full account. But he was constrained that he should tarry in no place longer than a night and a day, on pain of death. Therefore was he ever wandering, searching for the key that might undo his fate. His was a brooding disposition, melancholy, though he was fair of face and in his eyes shone the light of Varda. When he cast his gaze upon the near-lifeless form of Niphredil, stripped now of her enchanted veil, he knew at once that his heart was given to this maid.

His heart was heavy, for he thought her dead; but when he knelt in sorrow at her side he beheld that her breast yet rose and fell, and her cheek was yet warm. He bore her from the ruin then, to the bank of the Esgalduin, where he bathed and bound her wounds as best he could, but she did not stir from her swoon. Galamîr then was in a black state, for he knew that he soon must depart and tarry not, but Niphredil still only barely clung to life and would need his care; and he was loath to leave her side. So he bore her in his arms and journeyed through what had been Doriath when Melian had woven her spells there but was now a land of ghosts and shadows. Three days did he travel thus; but on the fourth day did she stir, and she opened her eyes which were green as a forest pool, and she looked upon Galamîr and felt in her heart a strange foreboding.

He told her of his finding her in the ruins of Menegroth, and she was filled with despair to hear of those that were slain, and knew not that aught had fled. But not a word did he speak of his love for her, or of his doom. She thanked him then for his rescue and care of her; but she was grieved and soon fell into a dark sleep.

Galamîr, knowing that he must needs move onward, made a terrible decision against his heart; and he left Niphredil as she slept. Though it sore pained him to do it, yet he knew that his fate was too dark for one so fair.

When she awoke and found herself abandoned, Niphredil was filled with rage. But she was well enough at last to care for herself, and she cast enchantments about herself again and veiled her beauty. Her one thought was to seek out the elf who had left her, for her heart foreboded she knew not what and she feared he had done her some evil. His trail, however, she soon lost; and she knew not whither to go. She wandered then for a time in the wild and was healed in body, but not in mind. For she remembered the horrors of the kin-slaying at Menegroth; and moreover she was filled with fear of the fate she felt portended by her meeting of the dark Galamîr Dursul.

It happened then in Dimbar that she came upon a band of outlaws, of which there were many at that time. These were mostly men of Beleriand whose homes had been destroyed by war and now sought to do what hurt they could to Morgoth in hiding. When she met with them, one of them, a man called Duesgal, wished to bind her captive and force her to be their slave. But their captain was Celebdil, a man of noble line; and he would not suffer her to be harmed in any fashion but offered her what welcome he could to their lair.

Little did she trust Duesgal or the score of others, but she saw honor in Celebdil’s eyes and she knew that his words were fair. She was in need of food and rest, so she followed him to their hideaway. The night they passed in laughter and song, but Niphredil joined not in the merriment. They called her Diniel, for she did not speak, and kept her own counsel. And Duesgal watched her.

When the camp was dark and all slept, Duesgal crept from his place and made to come at her and assault her. But Niphredil was wary, for she trusted him not; and when he was close by she sprung from her pallet with a knife in her hand, and she slew Duesgal.
The noise awakened the others and, seeing what had befallen, Celebdil was filled with sorrow. Duesgal had not been well-liked yet his sword had been invaluable to them. He said as much to Niphredil, whereupon she staunchly offered to take his place. Celebdil stared in wonder, but she did not falter, and he accepted her offer.

So Niphredil joined with the outlaws, and they waylaid orcs as they could; and it was soon found that she possessed as much skill at swordcraft as any of the men, and more valor than most. She often volunteered for tasks that the men of her band shrank from, and she came to be known as Nimbrangariel . Before long word came to Morgoth of the dauntless elf-maiden who had carried out the ruin of many of his orc raids, and he began to devise how best to put an end to her.

Celebdil soon found that his heart was lost to her, for she much amazed him with her courage and strength. But he feared to speak his mind, lest she might believe she had not his respect among the band, which she had. So he bore his love in silence, and it grew with each day, and he became grim.

After a time, Morgoth’s spies discovered their secret lair by chance, and set up an attack, and they were ringed about with orcs. The fight that followed was bitterly waged, for the outlaws knew there was no hope of escape, and death was a brighter fate than capture to be taken into Morgoth’s keeping. All were slain, except at the last Celebdil and Niphredil. And when there was no longer any hope for him, he threw himself before Niphredil and took a sword blow meant for her, crying: "Thus do I die. But let it not be in vain. For I love thee, Diniel, and would die again if you could but escape alive!" Then he fell, and was slain. She called upon her powers of enchantment, and it became dark as moonless midnight, and she fled.

Now she was again alone and without home, and her thoughts again turned to Galamîr, but of course she knew not whither he could be found. So she wandered friendless and alone a while, in hiding ever from Morgoth’s agents who were in search of the White Sword Maiden of Dimbar. She came one night to the Pools of Irvin, and the starlight was upon the water. Then she espied a figure upon the brink, and he was looking up at the stars of Elbereth; and as she watched he began to sing a keen, heart-piercing lament. She knew then that it was Galamîr, and she drew her sword and came at him in wrath. But when she drew near him he turned and looked upon her, and the sorrow in his eyes halted her, and it seemed a spell came upon her and she dropped her guise.

"I feared our ways would meet again one day," said Galamîr with a solemn light in his eye, "and yet I prayed for it above all things else."

She recovered some of her anger, though she understood not his words, and she said: "Thou wert right to fear it. It were better thou hadst left me to die in Menegroth rather than waken me to a shattered life. And then thou didst leave me." And she advanced a little closer with drawn sword.

"Thou knowest not the doom I face," Galamîr said, unmoving. "I thought to heal thee, but I myself am sick in soul. I judged it best to depart ere causing further hurt."

And she looked into his eyes and she perceived his meaning, and she was struck with fear such as she had never known; for she saw that he loved her. And then her foreboding came clear to her: her fear of him was fear of losing her heart, her self. For there were black wells in Galamîr’s soul, but they were enthralling and beautiful, and she felt she could drown in him with pleasure. But even as she saw her doom it closed upon her, and she loved him. Her sword fell from lifeless fingers.

"What black enchantment is this?" she gasped as one stricken, but she looked at Galamîr, and a light was in his eyes. He took a step toward her and said: "What meanest thou?" But she would not say, and retreated from him. "Niphredil, stay!" he called. "I love thee!"

She stopped then, and she was trembling with fear. "Who art thou?" she asked. Looking at him she felt her heart leaving her breast. But she did not await his answer and she said: "Why do I love thee?"

And when she spoke, a look of wonder crossed his face, and it seemed he stood taller as it were a great weight had been lifted from him, and he smiled. "Thus is the curse ended," he said. Knowing that she understood him not, he said: "Such was my doom, fair maiden. To wander the world with never a friend, permitted in no place to tarry longer than a night and a day, on pain of death. Unless someone could hold me in her heart." He smiled again. "Flower of Doriath, thou hast freed me of my doom," he said. And he took her, wondering, in his arms and he kissed her.

And thus was Galamîr Dursul at last freed; and so also was the hard heart of Niphredil Diniel softened. But their fate was not all joy, as after stories tell. For the war against Morgoth was not yet won, and both had a part yet to play ere all was done, and Illuvatar alone knew the theme sung for them.

Thus ends the tale of Niphredil.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Loralíenasa

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 1st Age

Genre: General

Rating: General

Last Updated: 03/25/03

Original Post: 03/11/03

Go to Tale of Niphredil, The overview


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