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Maeglin was the son of Eöl the Dark Elf and Aredhel, who was also called Ar-Feiniel, the White Lady of the Noldor. He dwelled in Nan Elmoth for years, learning what his father would teach him of metals, until he and his mother decided to flee to Gondolin.
Eöl pursued the two to Gondolin. When he arrived, he was given two choices, to stay or to die; for Gondolin was the Hidden City, and all that entered were made to stay lest they should tell the whereabouts of the place. He tried to kill Maeglin by throwing a spear at him, but Aredhel threw herself in front of her son and was hit by the spear in the shoulder. She died that night because the wound was poisoned.
Later, Eöl was cast off of the cliff of Caragdûr but before he had cried out to Maeglin saying, "here may you yet die the same death as I."
Maeglin had a secret love for Turgon's daughter, Idril, who was his first cousin. Seeing a darkness in him, Idril did not love him and stayed away from him. Soon, his love turned to darkness; but he kept silent, waiting for his chance.
He grew mighty in Gondolin, fighting by Turgon's side in his battles and teaching the folk there what he knew of metals. He also learned much in the Hidden City.