11. Scene VIII
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
TINUVIEL AT BAY: A CACCIA OF BELERIAND
Like to the ghost that sitteth down at table, welcomeless,
amid the feasting guilty, roameth Tinuviel in her distress.
[The Great Solar. Luthien wanders through, appearing vague and distracted, looking around in rather a lost way. People stop talking briefly and look at her nervously, but do not approach her or speak to her. One woman in the robes of a Sage starts to get up and then sits down with her few companions in their alcove again. At the Carillon's court Celebrimbor is there doing something to the Chronometer; he watches Luthien's approach worriedly, but continues with his adjustments.]
Luthien: [aloud to herself]
[stopping in front of the fountain]
That's what I was looking for.
[She fills her hands and bathes her eyes -- it's clear she's been crying a lot. Afterwards she takes the cup and fills herself a drink, and then sits down on the edge of the fountain and starts pouring cupfuls of water back into the basin with a fascinated expression. In the distance the Sage gets up again, pushing aside the hand of one of her companions who tries to hold her back, and moves determinedly towards the Princess of Doriath, coming up behind her]
Your Highness --
[But before Luthien has a chance to respond she breaks and flees back into the angles of the cavern, disappearing behind a column.]
Luthien: [puzzled frown]
[She looks around, but does not know who addressed her; after a moment she shrugs and goes back to playing absently with the water. Noticing something, she starts looking more closely at the ornate carvings and eventually gets up and kneels on the floor to see the base of the fountain better. When she doesn't get up Celebrimbor of all the people staring or trying not to do so obviously leaves off his work and goes over.]
Celebrimbor: [hesitant but concerned]
I've found another one.
Another what, my lady?
Luthien: [looking up at Celebrimbor, who kneels down next to her]
Another serpent. See? He's right there, pretending to be a stem, but look, there's his eye, and there's his smile, behind that leaf. They're all smiling -- happy little serpents. I've found seven of them so far now. --Finrod made this, didn't he?
They're like Beren's ring. --It's such an odd device. Oh look, there's another one, eating a flower, or carrying it. What are they? They look like grass snakes a little, but the scales are different, they don't have those lines down them.
I'm afraid I don't know what they're called here, my lady, I -- I think they only live in Valinor. "Green-eyed golden house-snakes" I suppose would be the closest translation.
Do they really eat flowers?
They're not -- that big, are they? Or are those supposed to be very small flowers? No -- there's one with a flag-iris, pulling it out of the water. Are they real?
Indeed yes, my lady.
They still look sweet.
Not like adders at all. --But surely they don't make things? How would they do it? I can see why, I suppose, it would be like making a fancy subtlety for them, but still I don't see how they could do it with just their mouths.
[Celebrimbor looks at her rather anxiously]
--Flowers. Wreaths. Making things with their food. --But they're serpents.
[as he still looks blank, with a touch of impatience:]
--On the emblem.
Oh. For some reason they struck my great-uncle's fancy. I think there was a story about it, something funny--
[Luthien looks at him with mild interest, and he continues:]
Ah, yes, now I remember. --Finarfin had made a garland for Earwen, when they were courting, and brought it to where she was working, but then he got distracted when he saw the project and set it down somewhere, and started, er, helping. Except then they got into a bit of a disagreement where the piece should go that she was carving, and he wanted to do something to bring out the grain of the wood and she wanted to leave it to weather, and they got rather cross about it, and he said something like "Don't let's fight -- I brought you flowers."
--But what does that have to do with finishing wood?
[Celebrimbor gives her an odd look and laughs politely]
-- but then he couldn't find them, and she said he must have forgotten them, and it got a bit sharp again, -- and then they noticed that the pair of house-snakes had found them, somehow gotten the wreath off the bench, and were dragging it back to their hole. Except they weren't getting very far, because one of them wanted to stop and eat them right there, and the other was trying to keep going, and the string was slowing the first one down -- and Earwen started laughing and said, "Look! That's us!" So they decided to carve it for over the door, to remind them of . . .
[pauses, then goes on with a hint of bitterness]
. . . well, you know, need for cooperation and compromise and how silly they'd been and how easy it was to get caught up in one's own perspective without thought of anyone else having a valid point of view and so forth. And it just sort of stuck as a family joke, only after a few Great Years nobody even thought about it any more.
[without changing his tone, quietly]
--My lady, if you're troubled it would be better to speak to the healers and send for music rather than resorting to excess of wine for your spirits.
I'm not tipsy.
Forgive my impertinence, but it's . . . apparent that you've had more in so short a time than your stamina will bear.
I'm not. I haven't touched wine at all today.
Then what's wrong, my lady?
Is that a serious question?
I -- I meant anything most particular, right now. That -- I could help with.
I don't think -- I've slept more than half a watch or so a night -- since Beren was captured. Sometimes not even that. And I haven't been let go outside since I came here, everyone says it's too dangerous.
Well, there have been more wargs around this season than any time since the Fortress fell, so it isn't an exaggeration.
I didn't see anything. And my people believe it's unhealthy to spend too long indoors, and I have to say it certainly seems to be true.
[splashes her hand in the water]
Maybe I'll just camp out here. I could probably sleep here all right. The fountain sounds so nice, I could almost forget I wasn't outside.
You're not serious--!
[realizes she is serious]
My lady, that's . . . not going to be possible. --You can't just, er, "camp out" in the Hall of Hours, as though it were a bivouac in the field!
Why not? Finrod wouldn't mind if he were here. He lived on our main staircase practically all of one visit, copying the friezes -- we just put up extra lights and some ropes so no one would trip on him or step on the scrolls if he wasn't there, and Lord Edrahil kept bringing him meals and taking the plates away and poking him to make sure he ate and checking that he hadn't accidently rinsed brushes in his drinking goblet, and we all got so used to it that for months after they'd all gone we still were only using the other side of the steps . . . I wouldn't even be in the way, over by the wall here.
That's -- true . . . but . . . His Majesty isn't here and . . . that just isn't done, Your Highness.
Luthien: [uneven smile]
If I do it then it will be, won't it?
It's . . . beneath your dignity, to sleep on the floor, my lady.
No, it isn't.
The other option would be to bring the fountain to my room. Which would be less convenient and not very considerate of everyone else. Though I'm sure my cousin would give me it if I asked as well. --If he were here.
Does it have to be this fountain, or would another do? I could probably make or find a smaller one, if you would like . . .
It's the pitch of it. Some fountains just sound hollow, others annoyingly busy. This one is properly musical. --That's how I knew it was Finrod's work before I saw the snakes on it, because of the tone. He retuned all the fountains at Menegroth, which was nice of him, even though it rather annoyed my parents that he started the project without asking. I didn't realize how much of a difference it could make -- did you even realize that, that water could be tuned like a drum?
Yes, I know. We -- discussed it, a few times.
Luthien: [frowning, as if realizing something]
You're Lord Curufin's son.
[He looks like he would say something else, sarcastic, but doesn't]
Your uncle said I should speak to him about getting my cape back from the Sages but I haven't been able to track him down.
He . . . can be a difficult person to talk to.
Will you try to get hold of him for me, tell him I need to speak to him, that I need my cloak back, or at least to know when they'll be done with it? I'm getting worried about it, and I don't want to be rude or seem ungrateful, but I can't find anyone who claims to know where it is, except your father secondhand through Lord Celegorm.
I'm -- I'm afraid I don't have any control over his doings or goings, Your Highness, which are -- many.
I understand these things. Believe me, I do understand about the troubles of rulers, and the business of running realms, and the responsibilities of lords. --Talk to him for me when next you see him. That's all I ask.
I -- I will, my lady.
Was there anything else you wanted here? Anything you need that isn't being provided for you?
[Luthien stares at him for a moment]
No. Huan wanted to come up here. I think it's up.
Celebrimbor: [looks around]
He's not here right now. He went off somewhere while I was getting supplies.
Luthien: [a bit frustrated, repeating with emphasis]
Yes, supplies. See?
[she unknots a corner of her mantle and shows him a handful of dried fruit and pastries]
But . . . won't the household bring you whatever you ring for?
Yes, but you never pass up the chance to grab something when you can. --Beren taught me that, though I never expected to have to use the knowledge. I can't walk past a hazelnut thicket now without checking, or a tangle of berry canes, or a birds'nest, in case there's something I can scavenge.
You don't need to, now, my lady, you're safe and -- and provided-for, here.
It gets to be a habit.
I wish I had the canteen I made out of reeds, it was such a nice compact one, but I dropped it when I was treed by Huan and forgot to pick it up.
--Reeds . . . ?
[realizes too late to stop himself how annoying this is getting]
Luthien: [very slowly]
The hollow things that grow in swampy depressions and along riverbanks. --And resin. The stuff that comes out of pine trees. It's very sticky. It makes the water taste odd but it keeps it in. --Did you not speak Sindarin much in Aglon?
[Celebrimbor blinks, doesn't answer; after a moment she bites her lip]
Um. That was really rude of me. I'm sorry. I'm just -- so horribly tired.
[she fights successfully to keep from breaking down.]
Shall I escort you to your suite, Your Highness?
No, I should probably wait for Huan. He might get worried if he came back and couldn't find me. I'll just stay here.
Celebrimbor: [still troubled]
Very well, my lady.
[He returns to working on his clock, and Luthien watches him for a moment before putting her head down on her knees. Curufin enters, obviously looking for his son, and stalks over to where Celebrimbor is taking something apart.]
Curufin: [quietly enough not to make a public scene, but not pleasantly]
Are you still wasting your time with that toy? Shouldn't you move on to something else? Or are you going to compulsively tinker with it for the next Great Year, too?
[Instead of answering, Celebrimbor nods over in the direction of the fountain. Curufin following his look sees Luthien asleep next to it and frowns, not expecting or pleased by this.]
She's been looking for you to talk to you, Father. Do you wish to wake Her Highness?
[Grimacing, Curufin turns quickly and strides off. Celebrimbor looks first relieved, then disgusted with himself at his stratagem. In the background Huan makes his way through the Hall of Hours, sniffing the air, and heads towards them. When he gets to where Luthien is sitting he stands in front of her, patient-dog-mode, huffing on her feet until she notices he's there and grabs his ruff to pull herself up. Trailing shreds behind her, she walks with a handful of his fur, as if they were arm-in-arm, and they go out without stopping or speaking to anyone else. A visible relief on the expressions of the crowd, save for Celebrimbor, who keeps working with a bitter, self-mocking smile.]
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