The newly freed Melkor has made friends with some of the Elves, particularly Fëanor and the Noldor, and he finds the perfect opportunity to get back at the rest of the Valar…
Quenta Silmarillion: Chapter 7
Every once in a while, someone’s creation completely changes everything. Aulë unintentionally did this when he created the Dwarves. And now Fëanor follows in those footsteps by creating the Silmarils.
The three jewels known as the Silmarils are unlike any other gem created before or since. While made of crystal, they are endued with the mingled light of the two Trees of Valinor. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they are described as being alive. The crystal is like our bodies, a housing for something intangible. In this case, the housing for the living light of the two Trees. This explains why they shine bright even in the darkness: because the light is inside of them.
When Fëanor shows them off, everyone is understandably impressed. Mandos, one of the Valar, explains that “the fates of Arda, earth, sea, and air, lay locked within them” (Tolkien 70), though these words are little more than a foreboding prophesy at the moment.
But Fëanor, in his normal fiery way, is very protective of his creation and hides the jewels deep in his treasury where no one will bother them. While most of the Elves and the Valar wouldn’t want to take them for themselves anyways, there is one who cannot resist. Melkor. And he decides that he’ll destroy Fëanor and the friendship between the Elves and the Valar in the process.
Melkor begins his plot this cunningly. His conversations are laced with lies so subtle that the Noldor (the group of Elves to which Fëanor belongs and who have befriended Melkor) unconsciously remember the lies and rumors as their own thoughts and then spread them with friends. Before long, the Noldor have some serious concerns regarding the Valar and their motives. Have the Noldor been brought to Valinor because the Valar are jealous and want to control them? Are these mortal Men — whose coming hasn’t been mentioned to the Elves before Melkor so kindly mentioned it — the perfect pawns for the Valar, who could control them more easily than the wise and beautiful Elves?
The suspicion and secrecy not only does damage to the relationship between the Noldor and the Valar but also the Noldor with each other. And Melkor takes every advantage of it by starting a new rumor about Fëanor. As mentioned before, Fëanor has never liked his half-brothers, so when he hears a rumor that his half-brother Fingolfin plans to take over their father Finwë’s throne and that the Valar approve of it, Fëanor takes action. He threatens Fingolfin in public, with a sword. Fingolfin’s reaction is cool, and he seems unfazed by his moody, brooding older half-brother, who storms off after the confrontation.
Around this point, the Valar realize that the situation is out of control. They’re grieved that the Noldor aren’t happy. After all, the Valar invited the Elves to live with them because they loved them, and they even pulled together what little they had to protect the Elves from Melkor. To see this strife is heartbreaking, especially since Fëanor has taken to openly speaking out against them.
So they call Fëanor to meet with them so that they can talk it out. And it’s during this discussion that they realize that Fëanor isn’t the sole perpetrator riling up discord. Melkor is involved. Tulkas, who wasn’t thrilled that Melkor had been released in the first place, doesn’t tell Manwë and the others that he and Ulmo told them so. He simply marches off to find the weasel of a Vala.
While this lightens the weight Fëanor’s crimes, he’s still in trouble for threatening his half-brother with a sword. Fingolfin is willing to forgive the whole situation and let it go, but Fëanor is ticked off and feels humiliated and angry. Instead of accepting the forgiveness and living in peace with his half-brother,he takes his seven sons and Silmarils and heads into exile without a word. His half-brother probably will get the throne, just like Melkor’s rumors said. But Fëanor is too wrapped up in his anger to realize that he’s fulfilled the rumor himself.
After some time in hiding (mostly from Tulkas, I would imagine), Melkor shows back up at Fëanor’s door. At first, Fëanor sees an old friend. Then Melkor makes a bad move: he suggests that the Silmarils aren’t safe with Fëanor. Though Melkor has been so careful to keep up appearances in spite of his lust for the Silmarils, Fëanor sees right through him in that moment and slams the door in his face.
Melkor leaves in shame and vanishes from Valinor before Tulkas and Oromë can hunt him down. But this isn’t the last they’ll see of Melkor.
Next week, Melkor seeks revenge with the help of a MOAS: Mother of All Spiders.
The above quote is from the second edition of The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien, copyright 1999.