Of the Beginning of Days
Of the Beginning of Days is the first chapter of the Quenta Silmarillion section within The Silmarillion.
Following the entrance of the Ainur as the Valar, Arda was still lifeless and had no distinct geographical features. During this time, the First War was fought between Melkor and the rest of the Valar, and Melkor had the upper hand. But Tulkas, a great spirit of strength, was sent to Arda, and Melkor fled before him. Thus there was peace for a time.
The initial shape of Arda, chosen by the Valar, was of a symmetrical continent lit by two lamps wrought by Aulë the Smith, filled with light by Varda, and hallowed by Manwë: Illuin in the north, and Ormal in the south. Seeds of growth were planted by Yavanna which grew to fruition over Arda as greenery, grasses, and trees. The lamps illuminated all the Earth, with both lights mixing in the centre at the dwelling of the Valar: the isle Almaren in the middle of the Great Lake.
But as the Valar rested from their toils, Melkor delved, in secret, the fortress of Utumno beneath the mountains in the north. He came forth suddenly, taking the Valar at unawares, and destroyed the lamps. Thus the symmetry of Arda was marred, and Almaren was laid to ruin. Melkor fled to Utumno before the wrath of Manwë and Tulkas, and the Earth groaned in their wake. The might of the Valar was then put towards saving their labour, and they feared to put forth their power like so again, for they knew not where or when the Children of Ilúvatar would awake.
The Spring of Arda ended; the world was darkened, and split into two main continents: Aman in the far West, and Middle-earth to the East, separated by the Great Sea. It was in Aman where the Valar made their new abode, and they raised up the Pelóri mountains as a fortification against Melkor, across the Sea of Belegaer, in Middle-earth. Manwë, chief of the Valar, set his throne upon the highest peak of the Pelóri: Taniquetil. Thus the Valar made for themselves a home in the utmost West, in Aman, which is called Valinor, and established the city of Valmar.
Melkor hid himself from the Valar in Utumno, which, after the marring, was in the north of Middle-earth. He surrounded himself with beasts of terror, many of them Maiar in the form of Balrogs. These were to remain some of his most faithful, and dreadful, servants.
At this time, all was dark. So, upon the mound of Ezellohar in Valinor, Yavanna, with the aid of Nienna, brought forth the Two Trees: the elder Telperion, with fluttering leaves of shining silver, and the younger Laurelin, from which shone forth a radiant, golden light. Thus began the Days of Bliss of Valinor, and the Count of Time.