Laughter of the Valar
They called Tulkas the “Laughing Vala” because as he entered Arda from the Halls of Eru, he was laughing in joy, anticipating the upcoming battles with Melkor and the forces of the fallen Vala.
Their combat began while Arda was still being formed and before the Valar had taken on physical bodies. Tulkas laughed with the joy of the conflict throughout their battles in those early days. Finally Arda was completed and the Valar, moving to their new world, assumed bodily forms similar to those of the anticipated Children. Tulkas, gazing at their new aspects, laughed with joy at their beauty, and his brothers and sisters laughed with him.
* * * * *
Melkor was laughing at his own cleverness when he fled to the darkest parts of the north and began the great building of his stronghold, Utumno, and his smaller fortress of Angmar. His laughter was fell and poisonous and those creatures hearing it were stricken with fear. The northern lands were branded with his lash of terror and all creatures cleaving to good moved south, away from the desolate lands of his laughing evil.
Now free to continue his war, the vengeful laughter of Melkor leapt unrestrained from him as he caused the great Lamps to be destroyed. The central landmass of Arda was damaged beyond repair, and even the laughter of Tulkas was stilled by this setback. The Valar withdrew from the destruction behind the peaks of the Pelóri, both to escape Melkor while they rebuilt their own home, and to prepare the eastern lands for the arrival of the Firstborn.
Melkor’s edged laughter called creatures of evil to him, and his stronghold and fortress became peopled by many creatures of the Dark. Only Oromë and Yavanna of the Valar braved the dark lands to fight the evil creeping across the wastelands and encourage what good there was to grow and prosper. To aid in their efforts, Varda scattered the stars above and the Valar, looking upon the wonder of her work, laughed together with joy.
* * * * *
On a chance, Oromë was traveling through the northeastern parts of Arda when he came across the awakened Firstborn. He was determined that these precious creatures would not be corrupted by the evil of the northern lands and their Lord; therefore he made haste to return to the West and ask counsel from his brothers and sisters. Then, returning to the east he chose three of the Children to accompany him to the West and be introduced to the Valar. Seeing the three emissaries bowing to them in the Máhanaxar, Tulkas laughed for the pure joy of the sight. Counsels were taken and a plan of action against Melkor was decided. The three ambassadors were returned and reunited with their siblings and the Valar once again prepared for war.
While the Children were guarded from harm, the Valar attacked Utumno. After many deeds of glory and furious waves of battle crashing against the iron gates, they finally hung askew from their hinges.
Tulkas led the forces of the Valar into the uttermost depths of Utumno in search of Melkor. Laughing with the excitement of the battle and the hunt, the Vala led the way down stairways, through vaulted rooms and twisted passageways, and, finally, to the lowest levels of the dungeons. There, cowering in a pit, Melkor was found. Tulkas laughed in triumph as he wrestled the Fallen Vala into submission, and continued laughing as he wrapped Angainor around Melkor’s body, taking him back to the Máhanaxar for judgment.
After his doom was declared, Melkor was brought in chains to the Halls of Mandos. There, he was chained to a chair, immobile for the long three ages of his sentence. The last sound that Melkor heard as the door closed in front of him was the relieved laughter of the one who had vanquished him – Tulkas.
But who will truly have the last laugh? That remains to be determined, many long ages hence in the future.
A/N – The Silmarillion states that, “Greatest in strength and deeds of prowess is Tulkas…He came last to Arda, to aid the Valar in the first battles with Melkor…whereas Tulkas laughs ever, in sport or in war, and even in the face of Melkor he laughed in battles…Melkor fled before his wrath and his laughter…and his hate was given to Tulkas for ever after.