15. Scene XII.i
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
TINUVIEL AT BAY: A CACCIA OF BELERIAND
No hits so palpable, so lasting keen, shall e'er be felt
as they that strike hearts where once friendship dwelt--
[Orodreth's office. Boxes of scrolls and bound ledgers are lined up along the walls and next to his desk, and stacks of them and loose sheets of parchment cover the top of it. He is holding a page in his hand as though reading it but not looking at it. The door opens suddenly: he looks up, startled, then angry, as Celegorm strolls in.]
It is customary to knock, even if one is too busy and overwhelmed to manage to schedule an appointment, you know.
Oh, come off your high horse, cousin, I've seen you silly with wine too many times to take you seriously--
[Orodreth continues to look around past him]
Where's your shadow? Or did he finally figure out how to make her invisibility cloak work?
Ha ha. Cur's busy.
Orodreth: [setting down the paper and shaking his head]
That's a change.
You could at least be civil, you know.
I could, I suppose. --What can I help you with, my lord? How may the Regent's office be of service to the House of Feanor today?
[Celegorm grimaces but forges on]
You've been to Doriath; I haven't. --Don't say "Obviously" or anything like that. Just -- answer the question, all right?
[Orodreth says nothing]
What's it like there? Is she typical? All this independence and do-it-yourself and not seeming to notice the -- the -- grandeur of everything or the honor that's rendered her? I mean, it's almost like she's some kind of wild creature that doesn't recognize the work of people as being any different from trees!
Orodreth: [drumming his fingers on the desk]
Typical? No. I would not say that. Not even before. But yes, Doriath is a very different place from anything our people have ever built. It has to be. There are so many different ethnic groups living there, with separate traditions and their own historical soveriegnties, and they mix them all up and swap them around, which makes it even more confusing to someone from Aman.
What do you mean, "swap 'em around" --? How do you do that?
Oh, Teler using Sindarin names, Singers borrowing Telerin musical instruments, Sindar copying Laiquendi pottery designs on leatherwork, and everyone trading songs back and forth.
But -- "sovereignties" --! That can't be what you meant.
Then I must have imagined the time that Angrod was arranging a fishing trip down to the Confluences and Elu told him to check with our great-aunt about whose it was then, as the local tribes had been exchanging it for stories and they'd had a Singing recently, and he wasn't sure who would have to grant us permission to take fish from the waters.
What, they gave it away for a song? You're joking!
[Orodreth shakes his head; Celegorm snorts in disgust]
And of course there is the fact that the boundaries of Doriath proper are impenetrable, so that there is no need for the kind of careful watching and intensive security and secrecy that the rest of us must maintain outside.
[leans back in his chair]
After all, if no one can get inside, you don't need to worry about the presence of Enemy agents or invaders, and after a few Great Years of that I don't think anyone from Menegroth would even understand the basis for our policies and rules. It may be the model for this City, but it runs on a logic all of its own.
Is logic even the right word for it, eh?
Well, if there's no chance of invaders getting near your gates, what do you need to have people on them all the time for? The doors just stand open all the time, and you haven't wasted anyone's time that could be better spent on creative pursuits. And with all the preexisting cultures and lines of authority that converge there, there's little of what we would call formality -- does a Sindarin Lord outrank an Elder of the Following of Denethor? When a craftswoman of the local village recalls the Second Kindling and a war orphan with no name from father or mother is one of the foremost warriors of the land -- then best offer the same honor to all, and not worry about who ranks whom.
Sounds like a proper mess.
It works, though.
I don't see how.
No? Well, I have. It just does, somehow. I gather that when you have a minor goddess as Queen, many of the ordinary little difficulties of getting people to cooperate, and do their jobs responsibly, simply disappear on their own -- they don't require alternately bludgeoning and coaxing people into keeping up with their duties.
[shakes head, ironic expression.]
For instance -- you might find this story interesting -- we heard that in the aftermath of the Burning there was a spillover of enemy troops into Brethil, which isn't in Doriath but is technically part of their domain . . . as even you should concede, since they've managed to hold on to it, so to speak.
Oh come, don't be such a bad sport--
Orodreth: [impassive, slightly mocking tone]
It was after I lost Tol Sirion, to put a precise date, and cause, upon it. My great-uncle won't have anything to do with the people who live there, they being mortals, which suits them admirably, as they're not much for government -- you might remember them, they used to stay in your brother's territory until they were almost wiped out by a fair-sized army of Orcs, and decided they'd prefer a home with a less exposed location, which is another story entirely -- but he still sent in Captain Strongbow and a massive relief force at lightning speed to deal with it before they were almost wiped out this time.
[he does not appear to notice Celegorm's glare]
--Though knowing Beleg, it probably went more like: "Orcs in Brethil -- I'm rounding up volunteers and we'll already have gotten there by the time you receive this and Her Majesty will already have told you so I'm not sure why I'm sending this at all."
Can't imagine anyone of my people talking to me that way. Or any Noldor ruler.
Orodreth: [bitter smile]
--Can't you? Never paid much attention around here, did you?
[Before Celegorm can figure it out]
Elu really has to be upset to be handing out death threats and locking people up -- I can't think of anything to compare to it, except for when he threw us all out temporarily as a matter of principle and banned the Old Tongue for good measure, after he found out about the Kinslaying.
Celegorm: [frighteningly grim]
Do not bring that up again, cousin.
[Orodreth just looks at him, raising one eyebrow, not acknowledging the order]
Go on, go on, I can't believe you don't have any more to say about it!
Orodreth: [raising his hands]
What else is there to say? To describe it properly would take -- an Age, and then not be done. It's too much, too real, for that. But it's generally very easygoing, once you're inside -- Doriath is the sort of place where if you want to live in a tree, instead of a cave, no one will mind -- and they won't, ordinarily, make you stay there if you don't want to, either.
So -- is Elwe really a proper King at all? Sounds like anarchy to me.
Oh yes. Very much so. Make no mistake of that.
Why? If people just wander in and out, and no one's in charge and everyone is equal--
--Because he is the center of it all -- or rather, they are, for you can't think of Elu without Melian -- the axle upon which the Stars revolve, so to speak . . . and because all choose to follow, remaining in their Circle.
--That's the heart of it, isn't it? That's all that matters -- the rest is just . . . ornament, when you think about it. It doesn't mean much, if there's no holding-to there, nothing to keep one from spinning off into the Void as one pleases . . .
So what's she like? I mean, really?
She isn't crazy, if that's what you're getting at. She just sees things . . . differently from . . . nearly everyone, that I know of.
What do you mean?
She has a strange way of looking at things, as though from an angle high up, or far below, the best I can explain it -- as though someone were to paint you a picture of a ship from under the sea -- you'd look at it and wonder what it was, before your mind adjusted to it and it would still be the same painting but you would understand it, now.
You're talkin' rot, cousin. Things are things. How you look at 'em doesn't change them.
No? Then perhaps it changes one. Looking at them and thinking about them and not being able to go back to seeing them the old way only. But what do I know? I was never the Sage in our family -- you are of course free to agree with that humorously as you no doubt will--
[standing up and pacing as he remembers, while speaking]
What's a good example . . . ? --There are some flowering trees native to Doriath similar to summer-snow, but with dark-rose blooms . . . Once I remarked that I wished we had them growing around here, and the conversation turned to geographical distribution of species and migration patterns and the usual sorts of reasonable discourse you'd expect. Luthien was walking backwards practicing pirouettes on the gallery railing where we were sitting, by the way.
Didn't anyone tell her to sit down and take part like a grown-up?
Well, when people are talking, having a quiet, civilized get-together, you don't usually have someone dancing through it at the same time! Time and place for everything, and so forth. Nobody thought it was -- well, odd?
Not in the least. And after a moon or so there, you wouldn't either.
[Celegorm rolls his eyes, shaking his head]
Then a while later when we were talking about returning home, she came up to me and handed me a little jar, all done up nicely. "Your trees," she said to me, and I thought it was a joke at first. "You packed them very well," I said, and she answered, "Just don't let them get wet until you're home. There's a grove at least in there." I started laughing, and said, "Oh, they're seeds, not trees," and very seriously she told me, "No, they're trees, they're just very small right now. I can't give you their parents, they'd be unhappy at being sent away, even if you could carry them."
[Orodreth stops pacing and leans on a pillar]
--At that point I got a bit patronizing and she said very definitely, "No, they are trees -- if they weren't already trees, they couldn't become them without being changed. Food-and-water is not a change." And then my sister said, "She's right. Think about it." And I did, and you know what -- she was. They've grown quite well around here, there's quite a grove of them around the Falls now, I'm sure you've noticed . . .
But that's how she is: you think she's totally wrapped up in her art, and oblivous to everything going on around her, and in fact she's noticing everything and then some, and then she thinks about it, while she's singing or dancing or up in a tree somewhere, and then she simply goes and does -- whatever she thinks needs to be done about to it.
Celegorm: [catching the subtext at last]
You don't approve of this mad attachment of hers, surely--
It is not particularly relevant, one way or another. I have no authority over her.
Oh, don't be coy -- tell me I haven't the authority either! Be bold!
Orodreth: [unaffected by sarcasm]
I know very well why you hold her here, and I have forfeited my right to interfere -- have pledged it, in fact, unbreakably.
Celegorm: [looks guilty]
What do you mean?
You fear she will indeed prove able to rescue her true-love and with him my brother and his followers -- and so you dare not let her go, any more than I dare let her go, and let open war break forth in the breaking of our unwritten accord -- which, by the by, is a figment of your imagination: I am under Royal Mandate to keep the peace here, which is the salve by which I staunch my bleeding conscience.
Cousin, cousin, cousin! Can't we at least make peace and be friends again, on a personal basis, for old times' sake?
I'm sorry you're so lonely. But it's you who've isolated yourself, not the other way round.
No? I'm not the one who's too proud to accept the way things are, pretending to be independent and honorable and all the while no better than the rest of us!
Nor am I. But I am not your friend, either of policy or of private choosing.
Didn't I save you a nasty skewering from that mutant boar up in the North Quarter?
You did indeed.
--Didn't I stand up for you after Tol Sirion, when everyone was whispering and questioning and giving you Looks?
You did. And I was grateful.
Do you really not understand? Can you really not see -- that there is -- can be -- no going back to what was now? That place . . . doesn't exist now, for us -- there is no way back. The time for turning back was then, and you chose to press on, to . . . burn your ships behind you.
So much for "forgive and forget," eh?
That's not how it works: what -- what happened at Losgar is become of a piece with this, and since you are the sort of person who can so casually and thoughtlessly betray your friends, I find that there is no one there with whom I can have any kind of a friendship -- and that there never was. I was simply deluded.
--That's not it, you don't understand--
--Perhaps. Perhaps I would have to be -- someone else, entirely, to understand -- your kind of treason. You, at least, are loyal to each other.
If it's any consolation, I don't think you consciously regard your fellow Elves as tools, as mere means to further your ends, and not truly your Kindred at all -- I judge it's more that no one beside your siblings has any substance to you, exists save in relation to yourselves, and so it really is less monstrous than . . . others' behavior. I don't put you on the same level as . . . Morgoth, for example.
--How generous of you! Well, I'm off to defend your borders from wolf-spies and hell-boars -- you can go on flagellating yourself, since you seem to prefer it.
No, as it happens I'm going to sit here and sort through paperwork, which is far worse punishment.
[Celegorm laughs disbelievingly]
You try it sometime -- going through leaf after leaf, scroll after scroll, when the handwriting's as familiar to you as your own, or in a page of dull clerical copy there's a note dashed across that makes you laugh out loud because you can just hear the tone of voice -- and then you remember . . . Surely you can understand -- What about going through your father's things?
That -- you -- that wasn't--
We didn't betray him! We tried--
I know. --Goodbye, Cel.
[Celegorm stares at him, then storms out, slamming the door behind him. Orodreth bends to collect the documents swept off by the air, and just stops, standing by the desk, closing his eyes with an anguished expression. Then he goes back again behind it, sits down and starts going through the Kingdom's records again. After a moment, however, he looks up in sudden realization, rises and hurries into the outer chambers.]
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