"So do I," said Gandalf. "And so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."
The trees have fallen and the Silmarils lost. Teleperion bears one last flower of silver, and Laurelin a single fruit of gold, which were taken and put into vessels to hang in the sky as great lamps. With these lamps they resolve to illuminate Middle Earth, bringing light to the people's there and hindering Melkor's (literally) dark deeds.
Good news: the Valar have a solid idea that they need to actually pay attention to Melkor and the danger he poses.
Bad news: with the arrival of humans imminent (plus the waking of the dwarves), waging war on Melkor might take out the life they're charged with preparing the world for.
Isil the Sheen the Vanyar of old named the Moon, flower of Telperion in Valinor; and Anar the Fire-golden, fruit of Laurelin, they named the Sun. But the Noldor named them also Rana, the Wayward, and Vasa, the Heart of Fire, that awakens and consumes; for the Sun was set as a sign for the awakening of Men and the waning of the Elves, but the Moon cherishes their memory.
It's almost shocking to me to see that the waning of the Elves starts so early. But the Sun and the Moon are hung in the sky, each steered by a Maiar. Arien for the Sun and Tilion for the moon. Arien... is kind of amazing, mightier than her hunter counterpart, a spirit of fire, undecieved by Melkor, and with eyes too bright for even the Eldar to look upon. As the Sun Melkor dares not come near her and her might. Like I said, kind of amazing.
The original plan was to have the Moon and the Sun in the sky at the same time, crossing opposed with their lights mingling. Like many myths of the Sun and the Moon, the path the follow now is the result of an attraction between them. In this case Tilion, wayard and uncertain in speed, seeks to come near Arien, drawn in by her splendor while yet the flame of Anar scorches him and the Moon itself. Even when Varda decrees a change in path, a course across and under the world, Tilion's pace remains unsteady.
The withered husks of the trees still stand in Valinor, and while Melkor will not come near the Sun, his failed attacks against Tilion unsettle the Valar. And so they fortify their home and mount continuous guards, closing all egresses save one, for the Eldar must at times need to breath the air from the land of their birth as carried by the breeze, and for their kin they refuse to sunder entirely from.
We change gears for a bit, looking at the Sindar, those that started the "Great Journey," but who stayed in Beleriand instead of crossing the ocean. After all, there's more than just Valinor.
I have to assume if you're reading The Silmarillion you're at least vaguely familiar with The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. But if you aren't, I hope that the fact that Tolkien makes specific mention of the birth of Lúthien stands out. Spoiler, she's kind of a big deal, and not just because she's the daughter of the Maiar Melian and the Elven King Thingol.
The focus here is of the meeting of the Dwarves and the Elves, and what came of that meeting. The
Elves experienced a bit of a shock on learning they were not the only creatures who spoke and crafted (Valar and Maiar excluded, of course). The dirty secret being, of course, that the Dwarves predate the Elves, and were just in forced hibernation for awhile. The Dwarves keep their secrets though, and learn the Elven tongue instead of sharing their own, and a cool friendship between the races grows.
However, having a Maiar to help guide your your King and entire Kingdom proves surprisingly beneficial. I originally didn't include surprisingly... but then thought about the mess of things the Valar have been making, and decided that this did all work out surprisingly well. She had the foresight to advise the building of a kingly stronghold against yet unrealized evil waking in Middle Earth, and to seek the skills of the Dwarves in the building. From this the Dwarves learned knowledge and skills from Melian and gained great pearls from Thingol, and considered themselves well paid indeed. From this a city is wrought from the labor of Elves and Dwarves alike, each bringing their skills together for a single purpose and so created Menegroth.
Time moves on, and during the Third Age of Melkor's captivity the Dwarves bring news to King Thingol that evil still lurks in the dark northern reaches, multiplying and roaming forth. Kudos to Thingol for listening, had he not things would have turned out much darker. So they were able to drive off the creatures of evil, and with a stocked armory against future trouble, and Menegroth became a place gathering of the scattered hosts of people.
The Sindar and the Dwarves knew nothing of the destruction of the trees, but when Melkor cried out in his contest with Ungoliant, they heard and were afraid. Ungoliant comes north into their realm, but Melian provides protection. But meanwhile Melkor rebuilds his stronghold, and Menegroth comes under attack from different directions, and only at a high cost do the Elves prevail at all. The Elves of Ossiriand lose their King, taking no king after him, and many pulling away in wariness and secrecy, becoming the Laiquendi, the Green elves, while others merged with Thingol's people. The shipwrights are driven to the rim of the sea itself. And so Thingol draws all his people within, and Melian spins forth a wall of shadow and bewilderment to protect them.
But Fëanor is coming, changing the shape of Middle Earth with his own host.
For a time Melkor avoids those hunting him, still empowered with the ability to change shape or pass unseen. Meanwhile, Ungoliant, a creature of whom her origins are wondered at by even the Eldar, made her home within Avathar, taking on the form of a giant spider, and consuming any Light that fell within her grasp and spinning it out into shadowy webs. Ungoliant is the progenitor of the Spiders we meet throughout The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Shelob and her ilk, dark creatures in spider form that are burned by blessed Light. Melkor seeks her out, taking on his guise of a Dark Lord he bore in Utumno, a form in which he remains, and strikes a deal. "Do as I bid; and if thou hunger still when all is done, then I will give thee whatsoever thy lust may demand."
Under a cloak of darkness woven by Ungoliant, Melkor strikes at Valinor in the midst of a celebration of thanks giving and forgiveness. Fëanor comes in simple presentation, and reconciles with Fingolfin before the throne of Manwë. Manwë, the Valar, and the Eldar may have wished for a sight of the Silmarils that Fëanor left locked in Formenos, but the triumph of Melkor would have been more complete had he brought them. Melkor strikes down both Trees, and Ungoliant drains any vitality they hold into herself, and then the Wells of Varda, growing and swelling so large that even Melkor fears her. And so darkness falls on Valinor, a darkness imbued with living shadows as our antagonists leave, their vengeance complete.
Troy closed his post off with Voltaire, but I'm going with Blue Oyster Cult, and making a Career of Evil (it was that or Skull Crusher Mountain).
During this time Fëanor creates his Masterwork, the Silmarils, in which he captures the light of the Trees. Varda imbued the rings "so that thereafter no mortal flesh, nor hands unclean, nor anything of evil might touch them," (which leaves me wondering how the Silmarils and the quasi-mortal half-Elves would interact) and Mandows foretold that the very fates of Middle Earth lay within them.
I'm going to assume no one here is surprised that Melkor wants them for himself? I actually find Melkor's desire and frustration regarding the Silmarils backing for his claims about teaching Fëanor being little more than lies. He could make many great and terrible things, but these lay beyond his power. That being said, there's nothing to say how much knowledge from Melkor made its way indirectly to Fëanor. What cannot be denied, however, is how skilled and insidious were Melkor's lies. He spoke to them of favoritism, of ambition, and glory. And, it cannot be denied, Melkor is good at subversion.
Fëanor is called to account for aggression triggered by his own ambition and poisoning by rumor. While this reveals Melkor's influence, Fëanor is not held blameless for his action and is banished, creating a fulfillment of Melkor's words. With his heart tied to the Silmarils and the pain of his banishment, leaves Fëanor ripe for temptation. Melkor tries, but incites such wrath that even he experiences fear, slinking away to lick his wounds and bide his time.
The light of the Two Trees still shines, but now the Valar wait uneasily for the fragile peace to shatter again. The next Chapter is "Of the Darkening of Valinor," so I think we know that shattering comes soon.