The Road to Gondolin – Prologue

This is a long-overdue update of my passion project, “The Fall of Gondolin”. The title of this post has two meanings. First , I decided that the entirety of the story concerning Tuor and Gondolin would need to be divided in three parts, of which “The Road to Gondolin” is the first. Second, for me as a writer, it is a long road merely to get to that halfway point, to Gondolin.

Now, however, I am happy to you show you the script I wrote for the prologue of that first part of the triptych. It runs to 12 pages in MS Word, and it excludes the Tutorial sequence, which would likely last at least another 10 minutes. I have tried to incorporate as much of the source material as I could, but there was no helping it: the language had to be modernized and Ulmo’s long speech had to be condensed. Be sure to let me know your thoughts on the matter!

Edit (02/2021): This prologue is no longer the latest version. My thanks go out to Kim Belair of Sweet Baby Inc for her suggestions and commentary. With her help I found a way to integrate the tutorial earlier than I had first envisioned, as well as adding stronger character development and story development to the tutorial. Tuor (and the player) now has a stronger and personal motivation for getting to Gondolin. Previously this was quite abstract, as you can still see in this version.

                         "THE ROAD TO GONDOLIN"
This document contains the scripting for cinematic cutscenes of
the game “The Road to Gondolin”. The names used for these
cinematic sequences will appear in other documents (flowcharts,
storyboards, story outlines etc.) for easy reference. This
document concerns itself mainly with the dialogue of the
characters, and the circumstances thereof.
NOTE: All instances of English dialogue are actually Falathrin
(a precursor to Sindarin). Whenever particular Sindarin, Noldorin
or Quenyan words are used in writing for emphasis, the
translation will figure in brackets. On screen the translation
will appear as subtitles.
1.  Game introduction cinematic (GIC)
2.  Main screen background cinematic (MSBC)
3.  New game starting cinematic (NGSC)
4.  Ulmo cinematic (UC)
5.  Voronwë meeting cinematic (VMC)
TUOR (o.s.) SINGS in Sindarin (Falathrin).
A)   Angband is under siege by the Noldor. Angband is an
enormous structure fused into or with mount Thangorodrim. A
ceiling of dark  fumes erupts from the mountain’s peak,
casting a shadow on the glittering armaments of the Noldor.
B)   The Dagor Bragollach: Glaurung and Gothmog lead the
armies of Morgoth, decimating the Noldor and their Edain
allies. A single, bright light is extinguished at the
frontline, seen from afar. The armies retreat with the
shrill blaring of TRUMPETS.
C)   Ard-galen (Anfauglith) is changed from an arid grassy
plain to a burning wasteland with fumaroles and steaming
mudpits where orcs roam in gangs. Thangorodrim can be seen
erupting in the distance.
D)   The Nirnaeth Arnoeiad: a last stand against the orcs by
the Noldor and the Edain is thwarted at the shallow river
Sirion. One section of the companies of men can be seen turning
their spears towards their fellows and surprising the flank,
leading to a rout.
E)   A burning mountain of corpses is left to smoke and sputter
amidst the bog of the trodden riverbank; the raucous CRIES of
orcs can be heard off screen.
F)   Long lines of prisoners – men and elves – are escorted to
Angband by orcs. Thangorodrim is still spewing ejecta in the
G)   A human settlement in a forested glade is overrun by orcs
and Easterlings.
H)   Grey-cloaked elves – with humans among them, women and
children – are seen fleeing their settlement which is
indistinguishable from the mountainside at a distance.
I)   Tuor, 16, is cutting down a tree in the rain alongside
other humans. He is dirty and has a grave look. A sneering
man in the background cracks a whip.
J)   Tuor, 19, now taller and stronger, flees through the
forest at night. In a stray moonbeam we see blood on his axe.
K)   Tuor arrives at the caves of Androth where we can see
all manner of elvish household items around a central hearth.
The cave leads deeper in with benches and a waving tapestry
fading into the gloom. A Gallic lyre stands against one of
the benches.
SUPERIMPOSE: the main menu of the game interface.
Tuor, a weather-hardened young man with long blonde hair, is
sitting with his back to us besides a CRACKLING fire. He is
STRUMMING his lyre and softly HUMMING snippets of the intro
We are looking out through the cave entrance onto a dark
green forest with the sun falling to a distant horizon of
snowy peaks.
If the player lingers on this screen, he can faintly hear
WAVES CRASHING on a distant shore.
                                                  CUT TO GAME:

Tuor is still STRUMMING his lyre. A trickle of water bubbles
up next to Tuor’s feet, pooling in front of him. The water
runs down and out of the cave. Tuor stops playing and puts
down his lyre. We see him grabbing items and gathering a pack.
The camera pans through the opening of the cave, giving us a
brief panoramic vision of the landscape: a wild and mountainous
region with evergreen woods. Patches of snow linger on the
forest floor and decorate the flanks of the mountains.
                                ULMO (V.O.)
                 In this, the First Age of Arda under
                 the light of the sun and moon, after
                 the time of the Lamps and the time of
                 the Trees, the Valar sundered
                 Middle-earth from Valinor and chose not
                 to take part in the strife between the
                 Noldor and Morgoth.
The camera tracks the little stream as it skitters down the 
mountainside, joined by other streams. We hear the sounds of
Tuor BREATHING heavily and SCRAMBLING down a mountain. Images
appear before us as if projected on smoke:
IMAGE: two large lamps on high towers far from each other fall
to the ground and their silver and golden light dims and gutters.
IMAGE: Before the light is gone, each hue is sucked into a seed
and both are planted on a grassy knoll in the grove of Yavanna.
A time-lapse shows the two Trees growing side by side:
Telperion with dark green leaves, shining silver beneath and
boughs decked with brilliant flowers that shed a rain of
silver dew; Laurelin with a yellow-brown trunk and
gold-trimmed leaves.
                                ULMO (V.O.) (cont’d)
                 He who was once counted among the
                 most noble, who was once called Melkor,
                 had brought envy and strife to the
                 hearts of the Eldar, the children of
                 Ilúvatar. Morgoth stole from Fëanor,
                 king of the Noldor, the Silmarils, his
                 most prized possessions:
Faster and faster we are drawn alongside the stream as it
courses through a pine forest. In the air, more images
IMAGE: Fëanor, an elven man of regal bearing, draws some of
the light of the Trees into three jewels, the Silmarils.
Crowds of elves look on astonished as the gems start to shine.
IMAGE: on the same knoll, now deserted, a shadow falls over the
base of the trees and a large, dark spider can be seen sucking
them dry, one by one, growing as it does so. A dark, shadowy
figure stands beside it with a long sword in its hand. A shroud
of darkness seeps out of the growing spider, obscuring the image.
IMAGE: the Silmarils are lying on a pile of velvet cloth amidst
other gems, the light that they emit refracting only a little
until it is swallowed by darkness. A hand reaches out for them.
There is a SHOUT off-screen. The hand retracts. A short scuffle
of RINGING SWORDS and CRIES of the dying is heard before the
hand hastily grabs the cloth and covers up the Silmarils.
                                ULMO (V.O.) (cont’d)
                 Three jewels of breathtaking
                 craftsmanship that contained the light
                 of silver-hued Telperion and golden-
                 leafed Laurelin; Morgoth took them away
                 and proudly set them on his brow as he
                 ruled in the darkness that had fallen
                 over Middle-earth.
At last, the forest thins out and we are following the water
– going uphill and downhill – along the terrain until it delves
into a cleft with a pristine lake beside a waterfall. The
camera swoops down into the cleft, hovering over the lake before
it heads straight for the waterfall and the sheer mountainside
behind it. To the right of the waterfall, a door magically
opens in the mountainside to reveal a tunnel. We dive into the
tunnel’s darkness. We hear the SOUND of the wind whipping past.

More images:
IMAGE: by the light of the stars only, we see a great fleet set
sail. A close-up of the lead ship shows an armor-clad and
determined-looking Fëanor accompanied by his kin.
IMAGE: inserts of scene 1, shot A: the siege of Angband.
IMAGE: inserts of scene 1, shot B: Glaurung and Gothmog breaking
the forces of the Noldor and the Edain.
                                ULMO (V.O.) (cont’d)
                 For long ages, the Noldor made war on
                 Morgoth, holding him at bay in his
                 fortress of Angband, far to the north
                 of Beleriand. That long siege was
                 broken at the Dagor Bragollach. There,
                 shadow and flame fell upon Elves and
                 Men alike.
We hear the sound of the WIND WHIPPING past as we race through
the dark tunnel. In the distance, a light appears.
                                ULMO (V.O.) (cont’d)
                 I stand as watcher astride the ocean’s
                 churning depths and weep for the plight
                 of those cast out of Valinor. You are
                 part of this story, Man of the West.
                 Follow my waters and streams and meet
                 your Doom.

                                                   FADE TO BLACK:
SUPERIMPOSE: <TITLE: “The Road to Gondolin”>
SUPERIMPOSE: <short credit scene>
We come out into a narrow ravine where a small stream seeps down
and away to the west, with the sun now lying on top of the
horizon. Tuor steps into the frame from behind, dressed for
travel with his axe by his side and his lyre in a case on his
                                                  CUT TO GAMEPLAY:

A high-pillared hall, vast and airy. On the further end stands a
regal seat upon a dais. Behind the seat hang armor and arms on
the wall, framed in red sunlight that pours in from high window
Tuor steps up to the armor. He pauses before taking down the
shield, which is long and tapering, carrying the emblem of a
white swan’s wing. He observes it in the sunlight.
                         (intoning solemnly)
                 By this token I will take these arms
                 unto myself, and upon myself whatsoever
                 doom they bear.
He takes down Turgon's breastplate – a hauberk that shines like
gold in the waning sunlight –, a helmet and a sheathed sword.
He arms himself.
Tuor steps out of the hall into the fading light of the sun. He
walks taller and more proudly than before.
As Tuor steps out into the waning sunlight and makes for the
steps down to the shore, seven swans alight before him. Each
plucks a feather from its wing with its beak and lays it
before him. They incline their long necks to him. He takes
the seven feathers and sets them in the crest of his helm.
The swans take wing and fly out to the sea, and then to the
Tuor continues on to the shore.
Tuor moves to the edge of the surf, waves CRASHING before him.
In the distance the sun, low in the sky, seems to be overtaken
by great, dark clouds. A stormy wind BLOWS into his face.
Out from under the shadow of the clouds, a large, dark wave
rises and heads for the shore at tremendous speed. Tuor stands
his ground, awed but determined. When the great wave breaks, a
towering figure appears, wreathed in foam and dressed in misty
garb, with a shining crown upon his head: ULMO, the Vala of the
sea. Then, when Ulmo speaks, Tuor falls to his knees, with
head held high.
                 The Doom of Mandos is soon to fall upon
                 the Noldor, and all their works shall
                 be undone. Melkor’s rule of
                 Middle-earth shall be undisputed and
                 woe betide the younger races.
                 Yet, in the walls of Doom there is ever
                 a breach, until the full-making which
                 you call the End. So shall it be while
                 I endure, a hidden voice that gainsays;
                 a light where darkness was decreed.
                 In Middle-earth, I have become no more
                 than a secret whisper on the water.
                 So hearken to me, Tuor son of Huor,
                 when I say only the last hope is left:
                 the hope that Elves and Men have not
                 looked for and did not prepare. And
                 that hope lies in you; for so I have
                 Wing across the plain! Already a great
                 evil creeps upon the Valley of the
                 river Sirion, and a host of foes has
                 come between you and your goal.
                         (calling out, beseeching)
                 What is my goal, Ulmo, you Lord of the
                 No more than your heart’s desire: to
                 find Turgon son of Fingolfin, and look
                 upon the hidden city of Gondolin, the
                 Blessed Realm, for you are arrayed to
                 be my messenger, in the arms which I
                 decreed for you long ago. When you
                 stand before him, my words shall arise
                 in your mind and your mouth shall
                 speak as I would.
In one fluid motion, Ulmo tears off a part of his own grey
mantle and casts it like a net to settle around Tuor's
                                ULMO (cont’d)
                 Wrap yourself in this cloak and never
                 cast it aside, until you have reached
                 your journey’s end. Now go!
                 But, what can I do, Lord, a single Man,
                 of little note?
                 If I choose to send you, Tuor son of
                 Huor, then believe that your sword is
                 worth the sending. Long shall the
                 Elves remember the valor of the Edain
                 as the ages lengthen, and marvel that
                 Men give life so freely of which on
                 earth they have so little. Deliver my
                 message to King Turgon and fear not!
                 Thereafter, let your heart and your
                 valor lead you.
In the far distance where the waves are choppy, where
lightning strikes the crests, and where the storm rages
violently, a fireworks display of lightning bolts suddenly
coalesces on a single cresting wave and it looks like a star
has been set in the sky in the shape of a swan, until the
flash passes.
                                ULMO (cont’d)
                 Out of the wrath of Ossë shall I pluck
                 a guide for you. Look for him in the
                 morning, this last mariner of the last
                 ship to seek into the West until the
                 rising of the Star.
                 Go now, lest the sea devour you!
Ulmo recedes from view, like a wave sinking into the sand.
                 I go, Lord!
                         (to himself)
                 Yet now my heart is filled with
                 yearning for the sea. But first, I will
                 meet my doom.
Standing on the first embankment, Tuor turns back to the sea.
We see him in mid-close-up, his hair streaming out and his
new cloak billowing, as the hauberk shines in the
incandescence of lightning. He gazes out over the water,
longingly, for a few moments, before the wind tears at him.
A)   The clouds overtake the land. Rain comes pouring down.
B)   Tuor flees up the lanes, inclines and stairs of Vinyamar,
back to the hall. He is buffeted by the wind, pushed in many
C)   We see his boots slipping through the wash of rain.
D)   Behind Tuor, great waves crash against the embankment,
slamming into the houses closest to the shore.
E)   Tuor turns a corner into the open square before the hall
of Turgon.
F)   A bolt of lightning comes down in the city, shattering a
barren tree. The branches fly off and the remaining stump flares
up before being doused by rain.
G)   Tuor enters into the hall, drenched.
With the coming of the storm, night has fallen and deep shadows
obscure the hall. Tuor flees to the farthest corner. The wind
HOWLS and rain PATTERS wildly against the walls outside. We
hear the CRACK of thunder and the flash of lightning through
the hall’s entrance.
Tuor rests his head against the wall with the cloak of Ulmo
cast over his body and we can see him falling asleep, fitfully
at first, and then fully.
                                                   FADE TO BLACK:
The WAILING of the wind morphs or melds into a clear clarion
From a point of view high over the hall of Turgon, we see the
storm raging.
We are launched forward, plunging into the ocean, seeing all
manner of shadowy denizens of the deep flash by, before coming
out in front of a wall of water, crashing down. As the swell
goes down, we see a nimble and elegant ship set adrift,
pummeled by waves, spray and rain. With one last wave it is
Our vision moves on past the thunderheads, across the ocean,
rising above a large island and gazing upon a distant mountain
range. The vision is centered on the highest peak. A cloud
shines brightly around the top.
                                                   FADE TO BLACK:
A grey light seeps in through the high windows. Tuor wakes up
and sees that a multitude of sea birds has taken shelter in the
hall just as he has. They CLUCK and CHIRP and CROW and CAW
                                                  CUT TO GAMEPLAY:

As the player comes out onto the lowest embankment, we go to a
cut scene. Around the corner, coming into view, VORONWË, a
young elf with sea-gray eyes, is up against the wall among the 
stones and the wreckage of the sea’s turbulence. He sits there
in sodden leathers and a grey cloak. His eyes are open and he
stares dully at the sky. We hear the SURF in the background
and the CAWING of sea gulls.
                 Hail, friend! I have been awaiting you.
Voronwë stands up and bows to Tuor.
                 Who are you, lord? Long have I labored
                 in the unrelenting sea. Tell me: have
                 great tidings befallen since I walked
                 the land? Is the Shadow overthrown?
                 Have the Hidden People come forth?
                 Nay. The Shadow lengthens and the
                 Hidden remain hid.
                 But who are you? For many years ago my
                 people left this land, and none have
                 dwelt here since. And now I perceive
                 that despite your raiment, you are not
                 one of them, as I thought, but are of
                 the kindred of Men.
                 That I am. Tuor, son of Huor, is my
                 name, of the house of Hador. And are
                 you not the last mariner of the last
                 ship that sought into the West?
                 Aye. Voronwë, son of Aranwë, am I. But
                 how come you to be here, and how know
                 you of my fate?
                                           CUT TO DIALOGUE MENU:

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