24. Scene XIX
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
TINUVIEL AT BAY: A CACCIA OF BELERIAND
--Conspiracy's full measure, half-unveiled,
hath yet to be revealed; yet now assailed,
shall out, to light -- yet to what avail?
[Luthien is going quickly down a long spiral case, not stairs, but a very wide shallow ramp with an ornate railing that opens onto each floor.]
I know we came up this way, and it was three -- no four -- no it was three floors up, so that means this next one will be the landing, and then I'll just find another side door and hang on to Orodreth like a burr until he gives in.
[goes into the hallway - but it's a circular gallery, going around the width of the spiral]
This isn't right -- but I know I counted it right -- this is lke the Labyrinth at home, it doesn't make sense, I don't believe it -- Oh -- Maps!
[The walls are painted with huge fully-rendered terrain shots in realistic color, divided by ornamental borders and with the lettering artistically integrated into the topography.]
Seven rivers -- that's got to be Ossiriand -- yep, there's the name, so that's Amon Ereb, and that's Aros, and there's Esgalduin -- Oh, that has to be Hirilorn! Star and water, that's a lot of detail -- so where did I come?
[she starts walking slowly around the perimeter, looking at the maps]
Ah, right, there's Amon Rudh. So south from that . . . And that has to be the Gates -- Here we are -- unfortunately! so somewhere in here's where I was caught. I knew it was a long way, but it looks much longer here. So how far is it to the Fortress?
[steps back to look up]
I hope this is not to scale.
Perhaps there's a more accurate one . . . ?
[moves a little farther around the curve]
That doesn't look so bad . . . Oh. That's got to be the ocean. I guess it is to scale after all.
[runs her hands over her face -- when she looks up realizes that there are other people in the gallery as well.]
I'm sorry -- I didn't mean to disturb you, I didn't know there was anyone here. I was looking for the Regent's quarters, but I think I got off on the wrong floor.
[The others don't say anything. They look surprised and worried, at first, before recognizing her. The conspiratorial group consists of the Sage who tried to accost Luthien earlier in the Hall of Hours, and her companions there: a Scribe, the Royal Guard who refused to go, and likewise a Ranger.]
I beg your pardon. Is something the matter?
Guard: [bowing formally]
Sage: [not at all formal]
--Is something the matter, she asks! How nice to be so carefree as to be able to enjoy one's self at festive gatherings!
What are you talking about?
Of course, what else should one expect, from someone who thinks so highly of herself as to demand a Silmaril for her dowry!
What?! I never asked for the cursed thing -- I had nothing to do with that!
Sage: [gesturing disdainfully at Luthien's dress]
Of course not. You never sent anyone on a fatal quest, never started up the Curse again, never blithely accepted the ill-gotten gifts from those hands your thoughtlessness played into, forgetting the people you've destroyed by it -- oh no--!
What are you talking about? I came here to get help for Beren, and I'm still trying to get the help I was promised, and some kind of interference from the Enemy seems to be stopping the people in charge from actually doing anything.
You really don'tknow?
Luthien: [exasperated, runs her hand through her hair, scattering pins and jewels]
How do I know? What is it that I'm supposed to know?
She doesn't. She's no idea.
[flings up her hands]
Luthien: [tight smile]
"She" is also losing her temper.
You really pretend that you've no idea of the devastation you've caused, that you're really that naive as to believe everything you're told? That you've no notion whatsoever of the catastrophe you and your mortal boy have brought to our realm?
Did I ever say I believe "everything" I'm told? You're the first people willing to do anything besides offer me platitudes and meaningless comforts -- but if all you're going to do is make cutting-yet-incomprehensible remarks and melodramatic gestures, I really haven't the time to waste.
[turns to go]
[she looks back over her shoulder]
You said you knew it when the Beoring was captured.
[Luthien nods, her expression closed. Tautly:]
--What's happened to them?
I don't know. I can't scry, I'm not a Seer, I only know that Sauron has Beren because my mother said so, and how she knew that I don't know, and all I knew was that I felt like I've been told being shot feels like, that I was suddenly more frightened than before the First Battle, and it wouldn't go away.
[looks at them for a long moment]
--You know them. They're your family, your friends, your loved ones and what are you doing here instead of moving all Ea to help me get a task force out and underway--
[whirling and stalking down on them as her voice rises]
What, for Nienna's sake, do you know that you're not telling me? How can I work with nothing but lies and silence to spin?
[They stare back at her, guiltily. The Sage looks away, as does the Guard]
Luthien: [through clenched teeth]
Civil war, that's what. Your fiance started the trouble with your insane demand.
[the Guard starts to say something and stops]
Not mine, my father's, and this does not look like a place that's seen fighting, so what are you talking about?
The sons of Feanor threatened it. And the King's honor wouldn't let him back out of this damned quest of yours. And so, thanks to you, those wretches have taken everything that King Felagund made and we've lost the best of our champions to your selfishness.
There's more, isn't there? Why didn't you put a stop to it? This is your City, your Kingdom, and you just let them take it away from you? They're two Elves, even if they are great warriors -- what can two do against thousands?
They invoked the Oath.
Oh yes, the famous Oath. The one that makes any means justifiable. So what? Let them. Then lock them up.
You don't un--
[stops at her Look]
They have a large number of supporters here, and -- there's already been one Kinslaying, your Highness.
Then if you're not of that number -- what are you still doing here? If you're on Finrod's side, why aren't you with him? Where are the rest of you -- there must be others -- and why didn't you go too?
To Angband . . . ?
And yet -- you'll blame me, blame Beren, blame your King, blame your friends -- all before you blame those whose fault it is -- my bloody-minded cousins -- and yourselves.
You don't seem at all surprised.
Surprised? At being betrayed and waylaid by my relatives? What in Arda's surprising about that? --Or that the sons of Feanor are just as bad as ever the rumours painted them way back when? Not that either.
[narrowing her eyes]
--So I take it that means it isn't, in fact, a public service on my part and an act of gratitude that I allow you tech people to keep my cloak.
Sage: [checking in surprise]
We don't have it.
Who's got it, if you're not working on it?
Lord Curufin. That's what my cousin, who's married to one of their Healers, said. No one can handle it, you know. They've given up trying to figure out how it works: whenever anyone touches it it makes them all sleepy and stupid.
Stupider, you mean. How can they think to rule a country they neither know nor care anything about? A throne's more than a fancy chair, to put here or there or forget about when you've something else to amuse yourself with. All they've done is destroy Finrod's power; they've done nothing to consolidate their own.
On the contrary -- your Highness -- I would say that they have succeeded quite well at that.
No, they've not. It's only that no one cares enough to do anything about them, because you're all insane.
No, you don't understand the circumstances--
Luthien: [tossing her head]
Yes, so everyone keeps saying. I suppose I could have said, "because you're all cowards," but that would have been redundant.
Your Highness, that word is unacceptable--
Quiet. The fact remains, Princess Luthien, that you are here, and the lords of Aglon-and-Himlad are here, and they are in power and you are not, and rumor has it they mean to use you as a pawn against your father, and what are you going to do about it?
Go find Beren.
How? By yourself?
If I must. Which increasingly seems to be the case.
You'll be killed. Or captured.
Not possibly -- certainly.
Then your Foresight's better than mine. I'm only mostly sure it's hopeless. But I'm still going to try.
[she glares at them one by one]
Or you could come with me. We would have a better chance that way, right? It would be less hopeless. You--
[to the Sage]
--could get me my cape, and I could hide our activites from observation, the Enemy's -- and the enemies', and --
[to the Scribe]
you can get hold of the plans of the Fortress and any information in the archives about Sauron, about his weaknesses and whatever else might be relevant, while you two can get us gear and provisions and horses, and make yourselves useful if we end up having to fight. Though I hope we don't. I'm thinking I could disguise myself as a slave -- everyone keeps telling me I look like one as it is -- and sneak inside, but we really, really need good maps for that--
Ranger: [shaking his head in dismay]
Your Highness -- you can't -- seriously mean to go against the Abhorred One and his wolves by yourself.
If you come with me then it won't be by myself, will it?
But if -- if even His Majesty couldn't do it -- what chance have any of us?
Then at least we will have failed trying to accomplish something. Can you live with yourself, not having done that? --I can't.
If we meet you at your apartments it will be obvious that something is afoot and we will be prevented.
Where's a better place for it? Here? I can wait here.
No, someone could come through at any time. That's why we come here, because it can look like a chance encounter on the causeway.
Somewhere near an outside door? Then we would be right there to go at once.
Scribe: [shaking head]
That would be too obvious.
Well, it can't be anywhere too far, because I'll get lost and have to ask directions. --Which would be rather unhelpful.
What about the Hall of Morning? It would be very hard to get lost going there, and no one will be there for almost two bells.
Ah. That's a good idea. An excellent idea.
? ? ?
It's right at the very top of the ramp. The gallery ceiling is a system of prisms and reflectors so that sunlight from the hills over us comes down through the crystals and illuminates the chambers. There's nothing to see at night, though, so it's deserted.
Very well. But be quick about it. We need as much time as possible, so that we can make as much time as we can before we're discovered. I don't know how well I'l be able to conceal us in broad daylight.
Are you certain you'll be able to extend the working to all of us?
Yes. --Well, reasonably certain.
That does not inspire much confidence, your Highness.
I'm sorry for being so honest. Subterfuge doesn't come naturally to me, I have to work hard at it. Would you rather I tricked you into helping me? I'll try that, if you'd prefer.
Sage: [shaking her head]
I confess you're far from what I'd expected.
My parents would undoubtedly agree with you there.
[giving them all a stern Look]
Do not fail us. I will be waiting for you.
[the conspirators part ways, leaving the Hall of Maps, some down the ramp, some up -- Luthien continues upwards to the top story]
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