Lossiel

From a rec.arts.books.tolkien posting by William Cloud Hicklin <solicitr-aaaaaaat-gamewood-dawt-net>, dated 20 February 1998.

One or two posters have erroneously assumed that the names of the Dwarven Rings I put up last week derive from ICE's Middle-earth roleplaying game. This is not the case. ICE's people do not have access to unpublished materials, the bulk of which are either in Christopher Tolkien's possession or in libraries with restricted access. I don't believe that anyone outside the publishers has yet read the following excerpt from the forthcoming History of Middle-earth Vol. XIII: The Legends of Middle-earth, which Christopher kindly sent to me in response to a letter. The editorial footnotes to the text had not at that time been added.


The Tale of Lossiel

This brief unfinished and untitled narrative exists in two forms, a rough manuscript ('A') and a carbon copy of a typescript ('B'). The top copy of B has been lost, presumably loaned to an unknown person and not returned (see below). B follows A in substance very closely, while varying constantly in detail of expression, characteristic of my father's typescripts. No emendations were ever made to B (save a scrawled note added at the end); a few made to A are included in B and presumably date from about the same time. This was likely late 1936 or early 1937 (see below); there is no reason to think that any great interval separated the draft from the typescript. The text given here is that of B, so far as it goes.

Now in the Dark Years of Sauron's dominion in Middle-earth, when the Eldar clung to their forest fastnesses, or the realm of Gil-galad in Lindon, or Imladris, and Men for the most part turned to the Darkness, save only in the coastlands where the Numenoreans made harbours, the Dwarves abode as they ever had, secure behind their gates of stone. And wealth came to them, and such joy as could be had, for each of their kings possessed a Ring of Power. These rings indeed were given by Sauron, but this the Dwarves did not suspect, believing the fair and false guises in which Sauron had come to them.

And the Rings led their possessors to riches, for the Dwarves desired wealth, and bent their thoughts upon finding it, so that the rich veins of the earth were revealed to them. Gold they found, and silver, and in the realm of Durin the mountains yielded up mithril to the eager picks of the Dwarves of Khazad-dum. But of gems they found few, for they knew not the lore of their finding, and what store they had came for the most part from the Noldor.

Therefore Durin IV Lionheart brooded upon gems, and where they might be discovered, and such was the power of the Ring he bore that the brooding became a lust, and the lust an obsession, so that Durin never slept save to dream of gems. And in a dream a vision came to him by the power of the Ring, clearer and more coherent than any other dream, and rich in color as if drawn by the brushes of artists upon celluloid, of a mine in the earth where gems were: great gems, larger than his two fists, exposed in the galleries for the taking, and already cut and faceted as by a jewelsmith.

So when Durin woke, the vision filled him, and he knew somehow (for the dark thought of Sauron was upon the Ring) in what region the mine lay; and he prepared for a journey, and departed from Khazad-dum with but a few retainers: for indeed he held the secret of his vision close.

And after much wandering Durin came to a deep forest, far south and east of his home, which was called Eryn Morn, for it was indeed black under the trees, save in a few clearings. And there he searched for the mine of his vision. One by one his companions departed, for they were far from the mountains, and it liked them not to dwell in the open; and there was little food, and no beer, and no Dwarf-women, and little hope in finding the great mine of gems. But Durin, driven by the Ring, remained, searching for long months even after he was left alone - until he met a strange Dwarf.

And this dwarf was named Nali, and was from the uttermost East; and was in fact the king of his people, and bore a Ring. For visions like unto the vision of Durin had been sent to each of the ringbearers of the Dwarves, and they each came severally to Eryn Morn, seeking the mine: Nali, Frar and Nar, Snorri and Sturli and Skorr, lords of the Children of Aule. And even as Durin they each remained after their followers had gone, driven to seek the mine.

So it came to pass that the seven Kings of the Dwarf-folk found one another, and formed compact to seek the mine together, and share its wealth; and they built themselves a house, in a clearing in the dark trees. This house was of wood, for there was little stone, but the Dwarves could fashion wood with skill if need be, and filled the house with strange carvings, and instruments of music. Yet the house was neglected, so often were the Dwarves afield seeking the mine, and dust lay thick upon their work.

Now there was a certain sorceress who dwelt in a tower nigh unto Eryn Morn, and she claimed to rule all that land. She had wedded the lord of that region, a noble Man of that people from whom also the folk of Beor had descended, and he had turned from the Darkness, though he knew not the truth as it was taught in the West. But he had died (some say she slew him with poison), and the sorceress gathered into her hands the rule of his folk.

This sorceress was indeed the wizard Alatar, who had come from Aman on the errand of the Valar. But Alatar fell from his task, through love of his companion Pallando. For Alatar was one of those Ainur whose nature was neither male nor female, but partook of both; and the visible forms he took upon himself could be of man or of woman. Indeed the name Alatar was derived from that of Alatariel, fairest of the Noldor, for he envied her great beauty. And in Middle-earth his form became increasingly feminine, and he pined for Pallando, whom he had indeed brought with him for love; but Pallando did not return it. And although Alatar took a form young and fair, and with costly raiment, and jeweled ornaments, and appeared comely (albeit somewhat tall and with an Adam's apple), Pallando spurned her love, saying, 'Get thee hence, ya pervert!' Wherefore Alatar fled into the wastes, and her heart was turned to the Shadow.

It was in the days of Alatar's dominion that the Dwarves came into Eryn Morn, unknown to her, for she thought the forest uninhabited save by the woodland creatures (who were indeed abundant, and tame to the hand). And still she reigned in vanity and cruelty when the Dwarves found the mine. For it existed, and was found, and the Dwarves rejoiced, and danced, and made merry in their house in the woods. And thenceforward they spent their days collecting the gems, of every color, and great size, and exposed, so that the merest tap would free them. And the Dwarves sang at their work, for the gladness that was on them, and sang as they returned, and sang in the morning; for all of their waking hours they now spent in the mine, and neglected their house, dusty and forlorn. So it was that Lossiel found it.

For Alatar, who named herself simply Ala, that is Garland, had borne unto her unhappy husband a daughter, who was exceedingly fair, her hair raven-dark but with clear grey eyes, and fair skin, so that she might have been a maiden of the Noldor, and she was called Lossiel. And as she grew she increased in beauty, so that Ala hated her, and feared her true blood. Yet she bided her time, treating Lossiel evilly, until Lossiel reached her sixteenth year. For Ala had much lore of reflections and basins, and in still pools and smooth glass saw many things, and gained much knowledge. And one mirror she fashioned that had an imprisoned soul, and which spoke with voice, and she asked many things of it. And especially she asked assurance in her vanity that she was the fairest of all the dwellers in Middle-earth, and this the mirror affirmed, until a day in Lossiel's sixteenth year. On that day the mirror named Lossiel fairest; and Ala's wrath rose to choke her, and she screamed, and broke the mirror, and resolved to destroy an innocent whom she deemed her rival.

Therefore she called to her an huntsman, and commanded him to take Lossiel into the forest, and there slay her, and bring back her heart as warrant of the deed. . .


The manuscript A breaks off at this point, at the bottom of the page. If it went any farther, the remainder had been lost by the time the typescript B was made, since it ends in the same place. That B was typed no later than 1937 is supported by the penciled note Lent to Walt 2/13/37. The identity of Walt is unknown, but a loose slip found among my father's papers, torn from an Oxford lecture list for Trinity term 1939, reads (in a large and hasty scrawl) Cut Walt out of will!!!!!! Nothing more can at present be said of this matter.

At the bottom of the last page of B a penciled note in fearsomely difficult handwriting reads:
Barash-Umskad Joy
Barash-Izrandu Healing
Barash-Ugrik Sleep
Barash-Zinbar Abashedness
Barash-Grok Ill-temper
Barash-Chu Allergies
Barash-Duh Foolishness

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Hm. Sounds oddly familiar.
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