After Melkor's part in the unrest of the Noldor was discovered, he escaped from Valinor and travelled in secret to the dark southern lands of Aman, where he encountered the monstrous spider Ungoliant. Allying himself with this creature, he returned to Valinor at a time of festival and, as he had planned, found the Two Trees unwatched while the people of Valinor celebrated on the slopes of Taniquetil.
Descending from the mountain of Hyarmentir, Melkor and Ungoliant sped across the plain of Valinor to the base of the Trees, and Melkor struck each of them with his spear. Then Ungoliant, whose thirst for light was unending, consumed the glistening sap as it flowed from the dying Trees. So the Light of Valinor failed, and the entire land was darkened. Melkor and Ungoliant left the ravaged Trees, travelling north to Fëanor's stronghold at Formenos, where they slew Finwë and stole the Silmarils before escaping from the darkness they had brought down on the realm of the Valar.
Yavanna, who had brought the Trees into being when the Valar first came to Valinor, had hope of rekindling their Light through the power of the Silmarils. It was not known at that time that Melkor had taken the Jewels, which carried the last glimmer of the Light of the Trees, but nonetheless Fëanor refused to give them up. Learning of the loss of the Silmarils, he led his people out of Valinor on a quest of vengeance against the Dark Lord.
Meanwhile the dying Trees gave out the last of their Light: a single silver flower of Telperion and a glowing golden fruit of Laurelin. The Valar created vessels for these last remnants of the Two Trees, and sent them aloft into the high airs to create the Moon and the Sun.
The Annals of Aman date the Darkening as happening in YT 1495 (that is, the 1,495 Valian Year since the Trees first bloomed - 'YT' stands for 'Year of the Trees'). The first rising of the Moon, marking the beginning of the First Age, is dated on the same system as YT 1500. One Valian Year is equal to about 9.6 solar years, so the period in question was forty-eight years in our terms, though this must be something of an approximation. (The Annals of Aman are to be found in volume 10 of The History of Middle-earth, Morgoth's Ring).
Aldudénië, Aman, Aredhel Ar-Feiniel, Celegorm, Corollairë, Coron Oiolairë, Days of Bliss, Doors of Angband, Eldest Days, Elemmírë, Elves of the Light, Exile of the Noldor, Finwë, Golden Tree, Grinding Ice, [See the full list...]
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