34. Scene XXV.iii
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
TINUVIEL AT BAY: A CACCIA OF BELERIAND
[The Regent's office. Luthien is pacing again, her arms folded, and halts leaning against the mantlepiece as the scene opens. Orodreth is looking at her anxiously]
Well. That was worse than I expected. --Which I should have expected. What's the best way to get into the castle unobserved? Are there any secret tunnels through those caves along the cliffs? Or is that too obvious? Probably.
I'm afraid I don't understand what you're getting at.
If I can't get proper help, if you won't go openly against the Fortress, then I've got to try to infiltrate by stealth and trick my way in to get the keys to the dungeons. Since that was your base of operations, I'm assuming you know all the ins and outs of it, and I need to know everything I can so as to minimize the likelihood of actually getting caught while I'm pretending to be a prisoner there.
You're -- Luthien, you're insane.
No, just desperate. There's a difference.
Orodreth: [horrified laughter]
You -- no, you're not being rational. You cannot just trick your way in and walk through the Enemy's defenses as though you were -- were--
Luthien: [raising an eyebrow]
Bluffing my way through here? Through Doriath?
Walking through a place you already know, to some degree, where everything is somewhat familiar, at least, as opposed to a completely-unknown territory full of vigilant hostile soldiery and protected by very-real Enemy magic, without any sort of defenses to assist you? It isn't possible.
You could help me get my Working back.
Frankly, the mere fact that you're talking about trying to challenge Sauron on your own is enough to guarantee that I would never countenance returning your cloak to you, if I could be sure that that would be enough to dissuade you from this folly.
Luthien: [flinging up her hands]
Obviously it would make it much easier. But if I don't have it -- well, if I hadn't had to make it to escape, then I wouldn't have it now either, and I wouldn't know about it so I wouldn't miss it, and I'd still have to do the same thing. So it doesn't really make any difference, unless I let it, I'd say.
[The Regent looks bemused at this rapid assessment. Huan whines quietly.]
Luthien. Believe me. I wish I could have your--
--Don't say "naive"--
--optimism. But there is nothing -- nothing -- about this plan of yours that warrants it. If it can even be called a plan. You're assuming that you will be able to even think clearly and react accordingly when you get there, and you're not taking into account at all the debilitating effects of the Necromancer's aura. It -- it generates a kind of solid, physical, terror that replaces the air itself around him.
Well, obviously it's going to be frightening going into hostile territory. That only stands to reason.
This is entirely another matter. It -- it is as far beyond ordinary, rational apprehension of danger as that is beyond the mild concern one might feel that bad weather might spoil a planned festival. It -- Can you imagine a sound as loud as the Valaroma, which instead of making your heart leap, fills you with the same sort of awe and agitation but with horror, not gladness? Or a wind that fills you with utter nausea, as if it came from a battlefield, but there's neither sound nor smell, only the feeling of a black cloud full of spikes surrounding you, on all sides, wherever you turn? --That's what Sauron's power is like, and nothing like it at all -- for that's nothing but paltry, empty words -- as little to do with the real thing as saying the word "ice" should have--
I live with that every single day. Every night, every hour, every heartbeat, that's the way it is, exactly what you're describing. I simply have to get up and keep going. Otherwise I'd be curled in a corner somewhere, shaking. But I can't let myself -- I have to keep hoping. --And trying.
The courage of ignorance . . . I, too, possessed that, once--
Besides, it isn't as though I'm completely oblivious, the way you make out. I did pay attention when Beren was telling me about his War. Sauron isn't completely invincible, Beren got him once, and tricked his minions until he had to give up.
That -- isn't -- what I'd understood of it--
Luthien: [impatient gesture]
He had to bring in massive numbers of troops and start burning down all of Dorthonion. That isn't invincible, omniscient power, that's just brute force; he couldn't win fairly. So -- he has weaknesses. The trick is using them. And finding them, of course.
[silence. Orodreth sighs.]
--Can you order my escorts to -- be conveniently distracted? Or are they all partisans of the Feanorions?
Orodreth: [shaking his head]
Some are, some not. Regardless of which I cannot give such an order, implicitly or otherwise. Whatsoever direct action I should take, should inevitably be reported upon. The consequences -- I cannot accept them. I have to protect what I can.
They really have you outnumbered, don't they? Just the two of them, against all of Nargothrond, saying "War!" and it might as well be the whole horde of Angband, the way you don't dare stand up to them.
--Not just two. And you weren't at Alqualonde. You weren't at the Breaking of the Leaguer. You do not know what you are talking about, Luthien. War is not something from a song or a story.
What do you recommend? That I close my heart and soul and mind to truth and pretend I never knew otherwise? Let Beren die, let his name disappear from the world and live in the frivolity of the moment the way my parents want me to -- in spite of my loss -- the way you seem to be able to do?
Because I can't. I will not stop, not having come so far, not if it kills me, or worse. With help or without.
What are you going to undertake to do now?
Luthien: [shakes head]
No. Better for both of us if you don't ask that.
Orodreth: [formal again]
I am most terribly sorry I can't help you, my lady--
Luthien: [brittle smile]
So am I.
[she gathers up her mantle around her, defiantly, and sweeps past the desk towards the door -- then stops, and looks back at him with a baffled, pitying expression]
--What was it?
[as he looks blank]
How did he fail you? --Was it because of Angrod and Aegnor? Did you blame him for sending them up there, or was it something else in the War?
I -- I don't understand what you're trying to convey--
[she shakes her head with a wry expession]
Yes, you do. Or you'd not try to deny it.
[long pause. Orodreth lowers his eyes]
You're an only child, cousin. You haven't the experience to -- to understand -- what it was like -- being the last in the family -- and then 'Tariel, bracketed between those two, only ever known as someone else's brother -- with nothing deliberate in it at all, only that none could help following them, doing what they suggested, wanting to be noticed by them, and not noticing one at all -- and not being able to help the same, either--
No? --Are you sure you weren't one of the ones who listened to Melkor before he was Morgoth, too?
[his defiance falls apart and he puts his head down on his hands, stricken. Luthien looks at him for a few seconds in frustration; then sits on the edge of the desk, rubbing his shoulders, her expression sympathetic]
I'm sorry, Orodreth, I really am. --But I can't do anything for your pain, and I can't grant you pardon, because you won't heed my advice, and there's no other way out of this. No one is going to come rescue us this time. No army out of Ossiriand, no Sun out of the West -- we're it.
[she stands and goes out, leaving him there, while Huan hastily scrambles up and trots out after her]
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