Lúthien was an Elven Princess of a realm called Doriath, in the country of Beleriand (western Middle-earth beyond the Blue Mountains, now underwater), during the Years of the Trees and the First Age of Middle-earth. She was the daughter of Elwë Singollo (Thingol Greycloak), the King of the Sindar Elves and her mother was Queen Melian, a Maia spirit (Gandalf and Saruman were also Maiar). Lúthien was undisputedly the fairest maiden to ever walk the lands of Middle-earth, her like had not been seen before, or since (though it is said that in Arwen Evenstar, her beauty lives again). She was also the first of the elves to choose to die, forsaking her place in the Blessed Realm (Valinor) and thus her immortality. She made this choice for the love of Beren, who was a mortal man. Their's was a forbidden love, a doomed love...
Lúthien's father was furious when he found out about Beren, and was going to kill Beren outright for daring to ''lay hands upon her'', but Lúthien stopped her father from murder. She convinced Thingol to promise not to kill Beren...
"If aught thou hast to say to him,
then swear to hurt not flesh nor limb,
and I will lead him to thy hall,
a son of kings, no mortal thrall."
So instead of death directly by his hands, Thingol decided instead to send Beren on an impossible quest...to take back one of the three Silmarils that Morgoth had stolen from the elves, as the bride-price for Lúthien's hand in marriage. The Silmarils were jewels created from the Light of the Two Trees, crafted by Fëanor while he was still in Valinor, and considered most precious to the elves, they desired them above all things. Most of the elves were only in Middle-earth because they were trying to recover these jewels back from Morgoth the Enemy. So what chance did a mortal man such as Beren have alone, unaided, and against the ultimate evil, the mighty god-like Morgoth? None...
But Beren was proud, and the son of a king. Thingol had threatened and insulted him, and he could not stand for such low treatment from anyone, whether he was a king or not. So for his Love of Lúthien, and his Honor, and the Honor of his House and his Ancestors, he accepted the Quest, knowing it was suicide. He left the Court of Thingol, and though he knew that this Quest was an impossible one, he had no choice but to make the attempt...
"Death you can give me earned or unearned;
but the names I will not take from you
of baseborn, nor spy, nor thrall.
By the ring of Felagund,
that he gave to Barahir my father
on the battlefield of the North,
my house has not earned such names
from any Elf, be he king or no."
Thingol, rightly afraid that Lúthien would follow Beren, had a house for her made in the limbs of a tree called Hírilorn. There he placed her, and he set guards about the tree. Lúthien was a prisoner in her own father's kingdom, and for such treatment of her person and of her Love, she decided to defy her father, and flee Doriath to find and aid Beren him in his Quest.
Now elves were not magical beings. They could perform magic of a sort, such as creating magical rings, but they themselves were not magical. Lúthien however, was different. She had magic of her own, which she had inherited from her mother Melian. With this magic, she caused her hair to grow to a great length, which she then cut to weave a magical cloak. As she wove, she sang spells and enchantments of sleep into it's creation. She then used this cloak to escape Hírilorn by putting her guards to sleep, and climbing down the tree...
After her escape from father's kingdom, Lúthien wandered lost in the lands outside of Doriath, seeking her Beren, when she was beset upon by a large and fearsome hound...
"Huan alone that she ever met
she never in enchantment set
nor bound with spells.
But loveliness and gentle voice and pale distress
and eyes like starlight dimmed with tears
tamed him that death nor monster fears."
Huan was the name of this fearsome hound, but he was more then just a hound, he was The Hound of Valinor. The Valar Oromë had given him as a gift to Celegorm son of Fëanor. Huan was Celegorm's faithful companion and had even followed him into exile in Middle-earth. No enchantments or magic spells could fool Huan, and he found Lúthien with no problem. Huan took her to his master Celegrom, but Celegorm and his brother Curufin mistreated Lúthien. They abducted her and tried to force her to marry Celegorm.
Celegorm knew full well that his king Felegund and Beren had been imprisoned by Sauron. Celegorm purposed to let them both die, and by marrying Lúthien, he could secure his claim with Lúthien's father's support. Huan, percieving his master had turned evil, helped Lúthien to escape. Huan allowed Lúthien to ride upon his back like a horse, and so they arrived at an isle where Sauron had Beren imprisoned.
Lúthien with Huan's aide was able to free Beren from the pits Sauron. Lúthien stood upon the bridge leading to Sauron's isle and sang a song to Beren that no walls could stop, Sauron's isle trembled with the power of her voice. Sauron then sent a wolf to the bridge, in an attempt to abduct Lúthien so that he might hand her over to his master, Morgoth. But when the wolf approched Lúthien, Huan silently killed it. Sauron sent more wolves, and Huan killed them as well. Then Suaron sent Draugluin, lord and sire of all the werewolves of Angband - Morgoth's iron prison. Huan and Draugluin had a fierce battle, but in the end, Huan slew him as well. So Sauron transformed himself into a wolf, and went forth to battle Huan himself...
"So great was the horror of his approach
that Huan leaped aside.
Then Sauron sprang upon Lúthien;
and she swooned before the menace
of the fell spirit in his eye
and the foul vapor 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,"
After Huan defeated Sauron, Lúthien and Huan helped Beren to escape, and the three then traveled on to the North, toward Angband, Morgoth's foul and evil dungeon-fortress. Beren was afraid for Lúthien, so one morning he bade Huan to guard and protect her, and he left her sleeping upon the grass, continuing the way without her.
"Farewell sweet earth and northern sky,
for ever blest, since here did lie
and here with lissome limbs did run
beneath the Moon, beneath the Sun,
more fair then mortal tongue can tell.
Though all to ruin fell the world
and were dissolved and backwards 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."
Beren knew it was suicide to enter Angband and directly confront Morgoth, he could not bear the thought of Morgoth destroying Lúthien along with him. Lúthien however heard his song of lamentation and went after him. But Beren was afraid of her, for Lúthien had disguised herself as the vampire-messenger of Morgoth's - Thuringwethil - and Huan was the horrifying werewolf Draugluin (whom Morgoth did not know was dead yet). Yet from such a foul creature came Lúthien's fair voice! They halted before Beren, and cast aside their disguises, thus they were reunited, but it was here that Huan had to part ways with them, as they needed his Draugluin-disguise for Beren.
With Lúthien, disguised as Sauron's vampire messenger, Thuringwethil, and Beren the werewolf, Draugluin, they entered Angband. Lúthien approached Morgoth and Beren went to lay beneath his throne. Morgoth saw through Lúthien's disguise, but he desired her with an "evil lust", so he avidly watched as Lúthien danced before him with her magic cloak. All of Morgoth's court soon fell asleep from the magic of her cloak, Morgoth included. The Silmarils upon his Iron Crown then did blaze forth, and Beren pried one of them from the crown. After Beren had the Silmaril, they fled for their very lives...
But as they fled from the gates of Angband, Beren and Lúthien met with Carcharoth, Guardian of the Gates of Angband. The greatest of the evil wolves, Carcharoth never slept. He saw them coming and Beren attempted to fight Carcharoth....whereupon he lost his hand to the wolf, it was the hand clutching the Silmaril. The jewel was a burning agony in Carcharoth's belly and he went mad, running away into the surrounding lands, destroying all in his path trying to relieve the searing pain. Beren, now badly hurt and Lúthien made their escape from Angband, and went back to Doriath.
"Against the wall then Beren reeled
but still his left he sought to shield
fair Lúthien, who cried aloud
to see his pain, and down she bowed
in anguish sinking to the ground."
Huan met up with Beren in Doriath and they went hunting after Carcharoth, for it was Huan's destiny to fight this evil wolf. The Silmaril Carcharoth had swallowed not only caused him intense pain, but it also made his powers greater. When Beren and Huan found Carcharoth, they battled long and fierce, but in the end, Huan won over the wolf, but at the cost of his life, for the fangs of Carcharoth were venomous...
Beren cut the Jewel from Carcharoth's belly and returned it to King Thingol, but his doom was written, and Beren also died from his wounds. Then Lúthien, in her grief, began to waste away. She decided to confront the Lord of the Dead, Mandos and ask for a second chance. She sang songs of such sadness, that she persuaded Mandos to give her and Beren that second chance at life, but he had a price, Lúthien had to give up her right to immortality in the Grey Havens, the place that elves go when they die, or when they tire of life on Middle Earth. She would be dead in truth, just like a mortal human.
Upon their return to Middle-earth, Beren and Lúthien settled down in the quiet land of Ossiriand, upon the isle of Tol Galen. They had only one child, a son - Dior Eluchíl - who eventually became the King of Doriath after the murder of his grandfather King Thingol by the Dwarves of Nogrod *. Lúthien and Beren lived their second time around in Middle-earth for forty years. When they died the second time, the Valar took pity on them and so they were placed in the skies as stars for all to see...
And so ends the Tale of Lúthien and Beren.
* The Dwarves of Nogrod murdered Thingol after he contracted with them to make the necklace Nauglamír to set the Silmaril in. The Dwarves desired to keep the jewel instead, and killed the King in their treachery. The Elves did battle with the Dwarves and recovered the jewel; which Dior inherited after Lúthien and Beren's death, when he ascended to the throne. But the damage was done and the elves would not trust the dwarves ever again...not until the Dwarf Gimli Elf-friend, Son of Glóin and the Elf Legolas Greenleaf, Son of King Thranduil (see The Hobbit), became great friends at the end of the Third Age. - See the book The Lord of the Rings
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