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In S1E5 of The Rings of Power, King Gil-galad and Elrond tell a story about an elf and a balrog fighting over a tree on top of a mountain as they tell the backstory about the origin of mithril. They mentioned the light of The Silmarils.

Gil-galad: Are you familiar with The Song of the Roots of Hithaeglir?
[...]
Elrond: An obscure legend regarded by most to be apocryphal.
[...]
Elrond: It speaks of a battle, high among the peaks of the Misty Mountains. Not over honor or duty. But over a tree. Within which some claim was hidden the last of the lost Silmarils.
On one side, fought an Elven warrior, with a heart as pure as Manwë, who poured all of his light into the tree to protect it. On the other, a Balrog of Morgoth, who channeled all his hatred into the tree to destroy it. Amidst their duel unending, lightning ensnared the tree... Forging of their conflict, a power...
Gil-galad: A power as pure and light as good. As strong and unyielding as evil. They say it seeped down the roots into the mountain depths, where for centuries now, it has waited.
[...]
Gil-galad: The ore containing the light of the lost Silmaril.

screencap of above-described scene

What was the significance of that tree? Who was that elf?

Is that story hinted at in any of the texts?

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    The notable Elf-Balrog fight was Ecthelion vs Gothmog, but that was in the middle of Gondolin. Regarding mithril, it was the Dwarves who discovered it, and awoke Durin's Bane in Moria.
    – OrangeDog
    Oct 1, 2022 at 20:13
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    In short: it appears to be an invention of the TV show - mithril had no connection to the Silmarils
    – OrangeDog
    Oct 1, 2022 at 20:18
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    The other famous Elf-Balrog fight was between Gothmog and Fëanor, the latter bring mortally wounded. This was in front of Thangorodrim. I haven't seen E5 yet so I can't confirm that this is the fight just yet. However, the "connection" between mithril and the Silmarils is part of an off-the-rails theory, not appearing in Tolkien's writings, explained by Gil-Galad in E4.
    – Spencer
    Oct 1, 2022 at 20:40
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    One other Elf-Balrog fight was Glorfindel upon the pinnacle of Cirith Thoronath as the refugees of Gondolin were escaping.
    – Stevko
    Oct 1, 2022 at 21:35
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    Possibly the show is using images of in-universe fictional things to give a visual reference to unlicensed material from the Silmarillion. The philosophical idea of the good and the evil being fused in the mithril is very far from Tolkien's themes, and given what I know of the showrunners, I'd be very surprised if this was meant to be 'real' in the story the show is telling. Oct 3, 2022 at 6:42

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There is no way to tell. Elrond never says his name; he's just "An Elven warrior". But I've added a theory just for fun.

In the TV show, Elrond recounts a story, "Song of the Roots of Hithaeglir", that Tolkien never wrote. It exists only within the show. "Hithaeglir" means the Misty Mountains, nowhere near any of the famous Elf-Balrog battles of the Silmarillion.

This story is called "apocryphal" but Gil-Galad and Celebrimbor are desperate to believe it. There's a subplot (again having nothing to do with what Tolkien wrote) about an early waning of the Elves that mithril just might possibly stem.

In Tolkien's actual writing, the three Silmarils are (sort of) all accounted for.

  • Eärendil has one bound to his brow as he steers Vingilot across the heavens,
  • Maedhros stole one but jumped with it into a fiery chasm out of despair because it burned him.
  • Maglor stole the last one and (for the same reason) threw it into the Sea.

There they will remain until the world is broken after Dagor Dagorath.

In canon continuity, Gil-Galad and Elrond both would have known this, and so the only way we could justify Gil-Galad's belief (given the silly subplot from the TV show) would have to be an exceedinly desperate clutching at straws. It probably isn't true, even within the show.


Now, if we're seeking to minimize the violation of Tolkien's vision while letting the story be true (which isn't even certain within the TV show's continuity), the only possible candidate among Tolkien's named Elves must be Fëanor's son Maglor. (This is just me trying to fit it into the existing story elements, unsupported by anything).

Tolkien didn't say Maglor killed himself, and what happened to him is a subject of fan debate. Tolkien simply says he never came among the Elves again. The simplest assumption is that he starved to death wandering on the shore after tossing the Silmaril into the sea.

Maglor was driven by the Oath he took to keep everyone away from the Silmarils. This is why he and his brother stole them after the War of Wrath.

If there were really a Silmaril in a tree on a summit of the Misty Mountains, it would have to be Maglor's, and if Maglor was still alive, you can be sure his Oath would drive him to guard that tree.

But the story's probably just a porkpie Sadly, events in Episode 6 have borne out the manufactured subplot.

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    Tolkien did say Maglor killed himself, but also that he didn't. Published Silmarillion says he lived, based on the 1937 Quenta, but the 1951 letter to Waldman says he didn't, similarly with the 1964 Concerning ...The Hoard, see eg reddit.com/r/tolkienfans/comments/vrroh1/… Oct 5, 2022 at 10:39

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