1. Beauty and the Beast
Thingol then summoned all his people into the woods of Neldoreth and Region, about Menegroth, and his Queen, Melian of the Maiar, set about their borders an unseen wall of shadow and enchantment with her magic. It was named the Girdle of Melian and none could pass through it without the will of Thingol or herself. But some there were of Thingol’s people, who would not be kept within the confines of Doriath, and they left the forest at the making of Melian’s Girdle and dwelt where they would elsewhere. Among these was Eöl, who had lived in the forest of Region.
Eöl was a great smith, indeed one of the greatest of the First Age, and it was he who devised the black metal, galvorn, from which he made his armor and his two swords, Anguirel and Anglachel. Beside his house, Eöl had his smithy and here he spent most of his time, crafting what he would. But though Eöl was talented, he was well known in Region for being cold and cruel to all, but few of his servants, who were as cold as him. He lived a life of silence, holding no tolerance for any others and loving none but himself and his work.
Now Eöl was ill content in Doriath and so the thought came to him that he should leave and go elsewhere.
“A life of solitude would I rather, and the sound of silence is better than children’s laughter or maidens singing,” he said to himself.
So, gathering all his treasures and possessions, he sought to go elsewhere and as fee for leave, he grudgingly gave Anglachel to Thingol and left that realm with what servants who would come with him. In the wild he and his servants wandered for a short time till they came to the woods of Nan Elmoth.
Upon a time, when the trees of Nan Elmoth were yet young, the woods were fair, for the enchantments Yavanna set upon them still laid mistily in their bows, but in the time Eöl came, their enchantments had long vanished and they were now the tallest and darkest of woods in Beleriand. Here, in the woods of Nan Elmoth, no sun could shine upon the ground, for the trees were thick, and few birds and beasts lived there.
It was dark and quiet, and Eöl liked it, for he said to himself that he could make what he would in his smithy without the interruptions of children or having to listen to the voices of other elves, save his own and those who lived with him.
Here Eöl came and had built a house and smithy, and alone, with silent servants, he lived under the shadow and twilight of stars, loving the night and becoming his own Prince of darkness.
Often he visited the dwarves or Nogrod and Belegost, but other than the stunted folk, Eöl had no friend or family and this was how he liked his life to be. Though he himself was an elf, of the high kin of the Teleri, he had a liking more to the stunted folk than his own kin and if his own kin he liked little than other beasts or Elvenkind he liked lesser.
Of all his dislikes, the Noldor who rebelled and came from the West, ever had the greater share. He shunned the Noldor for he had heard of their evil deeds in Alqualondë and blamed them for the return of Morgoth.
“Kinslayers,” He called them, “invaders and usurpers of the land of the Teleri,”
For when the Noldor came thither to Beleriand and once the crown was passed to Fingolfin, the princes went their own ways and built their own realms for them and their people to live in. But Eöl thought bitterly against them saying that they seized lands that were not theirs to seize or build realms upon and that they set bounds and dealt unjustly with the lesser, rustic Elvenfolk.
And so it was that Eöl lived alone his dark woods of Nan Elmoth, living a life of shadow, loath and bitterness and hatred for all, loving himself only, his smithy his works and those of the stunted folk who befriended him. Slowly as the years passed he began to feel the emptiness in his heart, yet still he filled that loss with more bitterness and darkness, believing that in his solitude he was content.
But for all the lies he told himself, Eöl could not change the will of fate or discolor the threads of time woven by the hands of Vairë and he soon found that his metal work and solitude was not enough to quench the yearning in his heart, for as many sayings go, what is a life without love?
When Fëanor and his sons burned the swan ships of the Teleri at Losgar, they left the remnant of the Noldor, as it seemed, to the hands of death. Fingolfin’s people though were no less hardy than Fëanor’s, struggled through the Grinding Ice so they might too reach the hither lands with bitterness for Fëanor as their fuel. Though their numbers were greatly lessened, at last they came to the eastern shores and they met with the son’s of Fëanor.
Many tales are told of the fall of Fëanor and how Fingon, son of Fingolfin, valiantly rescued Maedhros from the shoulders of Thangorodrim and how afterwards in the crown of Finwë was passed to the line of Fingolfin. After this the princes of the Noldor took their people with them and dwelt in separate places, building their own realms and for a time living in peace.
At Nevrast dwelt Turgon, the second son of Fingolfin, with his people, and they lived by the sea in unison with the Teler-folk of those parts. Among those who came from the West and dwelt in Nevrast was the lady named Aredhel.
Aredhel was fair, even among elves, and she was only ever arrayed in white and silver. Her hair was a raven black and her skin was snow white, but Aredhel was no cinder maid, as most tales tell of. Aredhel was the younger sister to Turgon and Fingon, the daughter of Kings and a High Princess among her people.
Ar-Feiniel, The White Lady of the Noldor, she was called by her people and while she yet dwelt in Valinor, she loved much to ride and hunt in the forests with the sons of Fëanor, though her heart’s love was given to none, unless it were her brother, Turgon. Of all her kin, Aredhel loved Turgon most and she dwelt whither he would.
Now though the Noldor had rebelled against the Valar’s will and the path to Valinor was closed to them, Ulmo, the Lord of Waters, still had mercy upon them. He came to Turgon through a dream and told the prince of the strife that was to come and advised Turgon to build himself a city that was shielded and secret from both friend and foe.
When at last this kingdom, Gondolin, was built Turgon and his people, in secret, journeyed to the hidden entrance in the mountains, and with them went Aredhel Ar-Feiniel.
There she dwelt with her brother and his daughter, but soon she wearied of the guarded city. A longing came within her to ride wide lands and walk forests as she did in her youth long ago and she felt like a bird held within a cage, which has not been at flight for long years.
So it was that when two hundred years had passed since the building of Gondolin, Aredhel asked leave from her brother, the King, to go from Gondolin and travel wherever she willed. Long did Turgon deny Aredhel her wish, but at last he yielded and gave her leave to go.
He appointed three Lords of his household to ride with Aredhel and he told them to lead her to Hithlum where their brother Fingon dwelt, it they could influence her, for Aredhel as all the children of Finwë was proud and strong of will, and it was in her mind to go not to see Fingon, but to Celegorm and his people.
Then in the morn Aredhel left Gondolin, bidding farewell to her brother, her niece and all others whom she was close with.
The Three Lords Turgon appointed led Aredhel out of the encircling mountains and made to take her to Hithlum as they were told, but when they came to the Ford Brithiach Aredhel stopped them and she said: ‘Turn now south and not north, for I will not ride to Hithlum. My heart desires rather to find the sons of Fëanor, my friends of old.’
‘But Lady,’ one of her companions said, ‘it is the King’s wish that you go only to see your brother Fingon in Hitlum.’
But Aredhel only said, ‘I am the King’s sister, not his servant and beyond the bounds of Gondolin I will go as seems good to me.’
Her companions tried to change her decision but Aredhel was unrelenting, so as she commanded, they turned south and sought admittance into Doriath.
As it has told been told before in this tale, none were allowed to pass through the girdle of Melian without Thingol’s consent. So it was that when Aredhel came to the borders of Doriath she and her companions were denied entrance by the March wardens, for Thingol would suffer none of the Noldor to pass through the girdle, save his kinsfolk of the House of Finarfin and least of all those who were friends with the sons of Fëanor.
Therefore the March wardens said to Aredhel, ‘To the land of Celegorm, Lady, you may by no means pass through the Realm of Thingol. You must ride beyond the Girdle of Melian, to the south or to the north. The speediest way is by the paths that lead east from the Brithiach through Dimbar and along the north-march of this Kingdom, until you pass the Bridge of Esgalduin and the Fords of Aros, and come to the lands that lie behind the hill of Himring. There dwell, as we believe, Celegorm and Curufin, and it may be that you will find them; but beware, the road is perilous.’
Listening to the march-warden’s words, Aredhel and her companions sought the dangerous road between the valleys of Ered Gorgoroth and the north fences of Doriath and as they drew near to Nan Dungortheb, they became enmeshed in shadows. Here Aredhel strayed from companions and was lost.
It is said that they long sought for her in vain, fearing that she had been ensnared or had drunk from the poisoned streams of that land. They searched long for her until the fell creatures of Ungoliant pursued them out of their lands. When they returned to Gondolin and when they told their tale there was a great sorrow in Gondolin and Turgon sat long alone, enduring grief and anger in silence.
But Aredhel had not drunk from the streams or become enmeshed by the darkness, as her companions had thought. In the shadows she searched for her companions and when she could not find them, she continued on her way, following the directions of the march-warden till at last she came to the land of Himlad, where Celegorm and Curufin dwelt.
At the time she came they were gone from their homes, riding with their brother Caranthir in the east, but she was welcomed by the people of Celegorm and they bid her to stay until their lord’s return.
So there, among Celegorm’s people, Aredhel stayed for a while and she was content for she could wander free in the woodlands as she willed. But as the year lengthened, Celegorm did not return and Aredhel became restless and took to riding further abroad. Thus it chanced that she wandered further than she had expected to, and before she was aware, Aredhel had become enmeshed in the dark forests of Nan Elmoth.
In the darkness she wandered without food or horse and though she searched for her way out, the further she wandered, the deeper she went to the woods. For days she wandered and she did not know it, but slowly in her weariness she drew near the dwelling of Eöl and this did not happen by chance.
While Aredhel was yet close to the eaves of the wood, Eöl saw her in her white raiment through the shadows, like the brightest of stars in the night sky. From her raven hair and her determination he perceived that she was of the Noldor, the slayers of his kin, yet he saw that she was fair and he had not yet beheld a beauty as great as hers, unless it was the beauty of Melian, the Queen of Thingol, or their daughter Luthien. So it was that Eöl set his enchantments about Aredhel in the shadows and she purposely wandered deeper into the woods, closer to his dwelling.
Aredhel continued to wander and at last, weary from her walking, she found the dark halls of Eöl and as she walked to the door, Eöl opened them and for the first time she saw him.
Though she had never seen Eöl before, she recognized him at sight, for in her time with the people of Celegorm she listened to the tales that mothers told their children. Of those tales she heard of one whom was named the Dark Elf. The Dark Elf was named Eöl and the children were warned not to associate with him for he hated the Noldor and he was their enemy in those parts. The Dark Elf dwelt in the shadowed woods of Nan Elmoth alone, for he was sun shy and it was said that before the coming of the sun he was banished from his homeland because he was evil and malicious.
Another name this elf had, and it was Beast. As the tale went, where he had once lived was the woods of Doriath and the Queen of those people was an enchantress, a Maia Queen, who placed a horrible curse upon him for his evil doing before he was banished. The spell she placed made the Dark Elf hideous to look upon and he was truly a beast among elves, not only in appearance but in heart.
Aredhel never believed these tales, for they were only told to the children but she looked upon Eöl and was amazed for in him she saw the Beast of these tales, the Dark Elf who lived deep in the shadows of Nan Elmoth. But though Eöl’s back was stooped from his metal work Aredhel saw he was no beast but an elf, who was fair, but grim of face.
Eöl called to Aredhel from his doors and he welcomed her into his house, offering her food and rest from her weariness. Hearing these tales, Aredhel thought it odd that Eöl was as hospitable as he was, since he knew that she was of the Noldor, but nevertheless she was grateful and she stayed there and talking much with Eöl she learned of his past and he of hers.
In the morning when she awoke, she readied herself to depart from Nan Elmoth and coming to the table to join Eöl in meal, she said to him, “I thank thee, Lord Eöl for your kindness. I ask but one more favor and that is that you allow me leave to depart, for I am expected back in the lands of Celegorm, my kinsman.”
Eöl only smiled and Aredhel saw malice within his eyes.
“You ask leave of me to go?” he asked laughing. “Lady my hall is not an inn which you may come and go as you will in your weariness from traveling. No! No leave shall I grant thee for as none may leave the Kingdom of Gondolin where you are from, so none shall leave my woods of Nan Elmoth. Here shall you stay now and here shall be your home,” and he stood and left the table.
Then Aredhel became angered, for never had she been spoken to like that, even when living in a royal house filled with influential men. She too stood and left the table and in the room given to her she locked herself in and when night came she, by stealth, she sought to run away from Nan Elmoth.
She knew not, though, that Eöl was watching her from his halls and he laughed at her foolishness, for he knew that she would try and escape, though he only had known her for a short while. Again he set his enchantments about her so that wherever she might turn and no matter how long she wandered, in the end she would only go in a circle and return to his dwelling.
Again wearied, Aredhel returned bitterly to her room in Eöl’s halls, knowing him to be the victor of his game, and there she stayed, for Eöl now set a watch on her door and she could not come out unless she was to eat with him.
“Rightly have the tales called this elf Beast for truly he is, in his heart,” she said to herself with anger.
In the darkness, a bitterness grew in Aredhel as she spent her time as Eöl’s prisoner. She despised him and in her loneliness she called him names and thought of fell things against him.
Now though Eöl kept Aredhel as his prisoner, he granted her freedom about his halls and she was free to wander as she would. In the woods of Nan Elmoth, too, she could fare as she would, so long as she was accompanied with one of his servants to keep guard on her.
For this freedom Aredhel’s hate for Eöl, waned only a little and she still shunned him when she could and she spoke crudely to him, when she saw him. This happened only in the evening at the table and Aredhel wondered what Eöl did in the day. Asking one of his servants she found that he spent all the time he could in the dark rooms of smithy, which was some way down a path from his house, creating and crafting new things of metal.
Aredhel’s curiousness got the better of her and one day she awoke early and followed Eöl down the path to his smithy, where none but himself he allowed to enter, and in secret she watched him as he worked.
In her youth she had watched her friend Curufin work with metals many times, but Eöl seemed different as he forged his weaponry. Eöl’s face was in its norm grim and his watch harsh, but as he worked with the metals and the tools, he seemed to be at ease and not at all as his normal state.
Many days Aredhel followed Eöl to his smithy and she watched him as he worked, learning soon that Eöl had a passion for metalwork and his smithy was his hideaway. She then revealed herself to Eöl and he grew angry and wrathful at her and he did not allow her to leave her room at all.
Aredhel was sly though, and found ways to escape the confines set to her and again and again she came to Eöl as he worked in his smithy, laughing at him when he was angered.
Then it was Eöl who gave in, not Aredhel, and he allowed her to watch him. He granted Aredhel her freedom and slowly the too became friends and they talked as he worked.
Slowly a love began to grow in Aredhel’s heart for Eöl in those days. She began to see in him a side that she had not suspected. She learned more of his past in Doriath and she noted that before her Eöl had not had any friends and she guessed it was because of this that he seemed cold and cruel, a beast of heart.
But the beast she no longer saw in him and in Eöl, Aredhel finally found a soul to match her own and together they walked far under the shadow of the woods.
Eöl too fell in love with Aredhel and for one whom he had earlier thought to be a fair yet pompous, overproud and arrogant Noldor; he learned much of what he had not known before. Eöl love Aredhel more though chiefly because she understood him without his need to explain and she accepted him as he was which none did in Doriath.
Then in the twilight of Nan Elmoth, Eöl the Dark Elf and Aredhel Ar-Feiniel plighted their troth to each other and were wed.
The Beauty, Aredhel Ar-Feiniel, was not seen again by her people for a very long time, but her reunion with her them and her brother does not come into these tales. In a happiness that she had not felt since her childhood, she lived, with Eöl Dark Elf, he whom was unfairly named Beast.
We all know that Aredhel and Eöl did not have a ‘Happily-ever-after’ scenario, but for fairytale’s sake, let’s just end the story here as happily as it can be ;)
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.