28. Scene XXII
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
TINUVIEL AT BAY: A CACCIA OF BELERIAND
Masking disappointment with cheerful mien,
Tinuviel pursues gleam of hope half-seen.
[The Great Solar. Luthien -- back to her usual outfit -- comes in with Huan, to the not-surprising lull in conversation. Although she has the red gown folded up in a parcel in her hands, she keeps glancing around even after she's spotted Finduilas, playing with a couple of other luthenists. No luck, however -- though there is a suspicious flurry by one of the farther doors, as if someone has just dashed out upon spotting her.]
Here's your dress, cousin. Thank you for the loan. Oh, and I clipped all the hair ornaments I could find into the neck of the shift. I'm afraid some of them must have come out.
Just -- put it there, please. On that hassock.
You could have had someone bring it to our House, you know.
Oh. You're right, I could have. Should I do that instead?
Finduilas: [rolling her eyes]
It doesn't matter now. Just -- just leave it there, I'll take care of it.
I can't believe you didn't wear the shoes.
They didn't fit.
And you didn't say anything?
It didn't matter, with a floor length skirt. --Besides, then I'd have been even taller.
[another pause, awkward for Finduilas at least, expectant for Luthien]
Where are you going?
Just right here, by that clock thing.
It isn't working -- he's got it apart again.
Oh, is that why he's got all those bits of crystal and wire on the floor around it? --Come on, milord, let's go thank Lord Celebrimbor for the fountain.
[She tugs Huan's collar and they cross over to the Chronometer; Finduilas, chagrinned, tries to ignore her, but keeps on paying attention even while she's playing. Luthien & Huan come up and sit beside Celebrimbor, flanking him -- he looks up and gives her a questioning look but doesn't open conversation]
Luthien: [low conversational tone]
Thank you for setting that up for me. It's helped. If I said that I thought I was being followed today, what would you say to that?
That you were being paranoid--
[her expression darkens]
--but not necessarily incorrect.
[Luthien nods slowly]
I don't suppose you can tell me who. Or why.
Celebrimbor: [scanning the crowd, shakes his head]
--Too many possibilities.
[she looks disappointed but not surprised]
I need to ask you something -- about last night. This one you can answer.
[Celebrimbor nods warily in encouragement]
What did you mean by a "master-word"? Is it like a key? Something to close or open the gates?
The Master Word . . . it's not a "word" of course, but a Word in the larger sense, a saying of power and binding words -- or rather, in this case, of unbinding. A key, all right, but not merely to the gates of a place. I've never seen one used -- never actually heard of one being employed, save in miniature for experimentation, but -- in theory -- it works by reversal, taking the energies of place that are trapped within each stone, indeed any object raised up and set in place, and using that very power to force the stones and structural elements apart . . .
[rapt in speculative imagination]
It should -- as I was taught -- unbind every stone one from the other, in the order of their setting, last to first, so that the structure is unfolded, outwards, opening slowly like an enormous flower, like a rose or a water lily, or more like a snowfall, perhaps, if a snowfall were like a fountain of stone . . . I'd love to see it, it would be spectacular beyond description. --But a great waste and a shame, of course.
[this last does not sound quite as sincere as what preceded it]
Is there a Master Word for Nargothrond?
Celebrimbor: [understanding perfectly what she's getting at]
Not that way. Nargothrond is built upon a natural system of caverns, not built up lfrom the ground. Maker's Words would have been used -- indeed, are, as work still goes on -- to aid in the process, but it is principally cosmetic, or at least not integral, to the city's foundation.
But not all of it is carved in one piece: I know that there are hallways that are not at all natural, and which aren't merely facings. Even the gate pillars are partly added to the living rock.
Celebrimbor: [shaking head, not unsympathetically]
It wouldn't work. The Gates are their own Working entirely. All that invoking a Maker's Word here would accomplish would be massive destruction and damage, but no outside access, I'm almost entirely certain.
Maker's Words -- but what about the Master Word?
Even if there was one, and even if you had it, you couldn't use it. It would require an almost unimaginable amount of power to enforce it. It isn't a matter of merely invoking it, but of Unworking, -- you don't have to understand how it works, according to the theory, but you have to will it, without any hesitation or distraction, and it does help to know what you're doing as well. I would be very reluctant to attempt such a thing, on such a scale.
But the Master Word would open the Gates as well? It opens everything within its compass, you said. And if it took infinite power to wield it, there would be no point to it, would there, so while it shouldn't be easy, for obvious reasons, it shouldn't be impossible either . . . ?
Yes. But it's no good. Assuming that there is one, because this was never intended to be a garrison at all, only two people would know it, so far as I know, and I'm neither of them. Not that either of us two would ever countenance such a deed, of course . . .
Who? Finrod of course, and . . . Orodreth? Being Regent?
So indeed would I assume.
[Finduilas, catching the relevant word in the conversation, sets her lute down and comes over]
I need to get out of here.
--What about my father?
I was just remarking that he's the Regent.
Everybody knows. People are going to think you really are crazy, Luthien.
Luthien: [raises her hands]
It isn't as though I can do anything about that.
What are you doing now?
Going for a walk along the ways Lord Curufin and his brother mapped out for me so that I don't get lost again. Hopefully. But I've got Huan, so I can just follow him back if I do.
[To Celebrimbor, who is frowning over some of the Chronometer's figures]
--Don't worry about getting it exactly right and finishing it. It's more like the world if you don't.
[she drifts off again, followed by the Hound. Celebrimbor frowns]
How did she know that was what I was thinking? I never mentioned the design to her at all.
Finduilas: [shaking her head]
Well. Mortals say madness and prophecy go together. Perhaps it's true.
[they look at each other, both daring the other to say something about prior events. Both decline, however]