40. Scene XXXI
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
TINUVIEL AT BAY: A CACCIA OF BELERIAND
Friendless, imprisoned, fearful and distraught,
Tinuviel awaits in golden cage she knows not what,
--yet not all forsaken, though her own folk heed her naught:
one still heeds her, attends her, still supports her cause,
both lesser and greater than his lord, wrestling with the laws
that set Duty against Duty, for Elf, for Mortal, for those with paws--
[Luthien is pacing back and forth still, running her hands along the carvings on the walls, while Huan lies down in the hallway connecting the solar with the private chambers, watching her alertly with mournful eyes.]
My lady, the Lord of Aglon-and-Himlad is here to speak to you.
Luthien: [very curt]
Er -- Lord Curufin.
Show him in.
[Curufin enters, indicating dismissively that the attendant should close the doors behind him. He looks closely at Luthien, appraising her state-of-mind.
Note: Curufin never raises his voice throughout the following exchange.]
Luthien: [before Curufin has a chance to speak]
--You may tell your brother, my lord, that I will accept his apology only with the tangible mark of his penitence -- that is to say, when he returns my cloak to me. And the best horse in your stables, in reparation.
I beg your pardon? Your Highness, I fear I haven't the least notion of what you're speaking about.
You mean you're not here to bring his apologies, since I forbade him my presence in his own person? Or perhaps you haven't heard--?
I am here on my brother's behalf, yes, -- but I'm afraid you're mistaken as to the nature of my visit. I am here to approach you with formal notice of my brother's suit as claimant to your hand in marriage.
[Luthien stares at him in total shock]
I steadfastly urge you to accept him, without hesitation, as a proposal which will do you honor and increase your estate in Middle-earth, bestowing upon you and your family not only rank and prosperity and widened realm, but a connection with the highest House of the noblest race of the Eldar, -- a fair exchange, for your fair self, your Highness.
Luthien: [slowly and emphatically]
I am betrothed to Beren. I will never love another. --Why is this so hard to understand? Is my accent too strange? I understand your Sindarin perfectly well -- and Beren understands me, even though his dialect is far different from ours. --Or is everyone in Nargothrond just deaf?
Curufin: [just as slowly and emphatically]
Beren is dead. --Deal with it.
No! I would know it, if he were.
Are you so sure of that?
--Would you know if the Sun were struck out of the sky? Even here, even in this buried place where I cannot feel her, I would know. The same way I'd know it, if he was no more beneath the Stars -- Arda being dark and lifeless would tell me!
Curufin: [shaking his head]
Such the romantic, Lady Luthien -- though it is charming indeed. But you are old enough to put aside such childish fancies and face facts, and the facts are thus: Barahirion is no fit mate for such as you, nor will you in any case ever set eyes on him again. Better, then, to take what is available to you, and freely offered, and to your great advantage, and put your mortal folly from your mind -- end this war of yours with your parents, and make in your own person peace between our estranged Houses, and enjoy the rewards of your rationality.
If you have no wish to hazard yourself in rescue of my true love nor your kin, my lord, and don't care to strike at our common foe in deepest insult possible -- then let me go on my way as I've been asking, and I'll do it myself. You have no right to keep me here, and you know it.
What, without your hair-cloak even?
If I must, though I would rather not.
Curufin: [patronizing, extreme "grown-up to little girl" singsong]
And what will you do when you get there?
Whatever I have to. For myself, I fear nothing.
Curufin: [wry smile]
Did you know my cousin Aredhel?
Luthien: [thrown by the change of subject]
No -- she's Turgon and Fingon's sister, right? Didn't they go off somewhere on their own, she and Turgon and the Kindred at Nevrast, and drop out of sight completely? That's what we'd heard.
Almost completely. Some whiles back she came to visit us at Aglon, and stayed a few seasons, but unfortunately we were visiting our brother Caranthir in his province and missed her. We discovered when we came back and found her gone, that she had decided to go exploring and looking for unclaimed territory of her own -- somewhere still perhaps within the whole of Beleriand that your father lays claim to, but beyond the area he actually administers -- and from which his Rangers had prohibited her party's crossing. Now she was an Elf-maid warrior-trained and used to long riding and hard travel, not to say a Noldor lady of high degree, so you would think her far better equipped to journey safely through the wild lands than a Gray-elven girl sheltered in the artificial confines of Doriath, -- would you not?
I would guess so -- I've heard a fair bit about the Crossing of the Ice from our cousins over the course of their stays with us, and it's nothing I can even begin to imagine -- though I suppose when one has no other alternative, one can manage almost anything. Or else die trying, of course.
Curufin: [briefly checked]
Quite so. --As a matter of fact, she made it through that part of the country north of you where Ungoliant once stayed -- I believe you are at least generally familiar with its hazards? -- totally alone, since her warrior escort was lost in the web of illusions over the land and she could not find them, and in their honor refused to give up the mission they had died upon, before reaching our domain. So you need not guess at it. And she still disappeared without a trace, for years of the Sun, until one day we discovered that she'd been taken in marriage by Eol of Nan-Elmoth --
Eol? My father's cousin the crazy hermit?
The same. And when I say "taken" I mean just that. My agents spotted her flying cross-country at top speed with a single squire, who we later learned to be her son, because her husband showed up not long after absolutely furious and demanding that we help him track her down. I sent him packing, needless to say -- but nobody knows what happened to them. --Unless you've heard?
[pot::kettle suspicion mode]
Perhaps you know all of this already and you're just letting me talk -- perhaps you knew it all along, and even more of the story, and perhaps the ending? --My lady.
No. That's isn't me.
[loudly unspoken -- That's you--]
Eol never had anything to do with us if he could possibly avoid it, which was basically all the time. We finally got a rumour through the Wandering Folk that he'd up and left without a trace, and we never heard word to the contrary. I hadn't even heard that he had started a family. He never had anything to do with the Kindred except for a few hired hands to help him with his forge -- the only people I ever heard he chose to associate with were the Dwarves, because of their shared hobbies.
Curufin: [stung into momentary distraction]
Metals-technology is not a hobby -- not like the performing arts. It's extremely useful, not to mention being a sign of civilization and culture.
As you please.
--Why was she traveling, anyway?
We of Aman are not obliged to answer to anyone for our comings and goings.
I just wondered because it seems like the kind of thing one would need a good reason to do, if they'd gone to such trouble to disappear, and perhaps she had some important messages for the High King or something like that, but I'd think they would have said so to our Border Guard in that case, and my father isn't -- except this once -- completely unreasonable.
In fact -- being Noldor aristocracy with all that you've impressed me that that entails -- how could she have been kept a prisoner against her will for all those years? Wouldn't that be as unlikely as cousin Galadriel being held hostage? Especially by Eol-the-hermit, who really is a "Dark-elf," and awfully close to the Dark side as well, given that he cursed the lease payment for Nan Elmoth. At least that's what my mother thinks.
[with a challenging look, dropping all masks of courtesy]
--Actually, I'm surprised you didn't get along with him just fine.
[Curufin gives her a sharp glance but does not rise to the bait.]
He acted as though it was a mortal insult for us to request some payment in return for having complete and exclusive title to a very extensive section of Beleriand, and what he came up with was practically an insult in itself -- even before we looked at it closely. One sword, for deed in perpetuity, I ask you, and then to say that we should be flattered because it was one-of-a-kind. Which it wasn't, it turned out, because he'd made another from the same bit of thunderbolt-iron for himself. So given the similiarity of your attitudes towards Doriath, I'd expect you to make common cause rather than fight.
Whatever your opinion, or your family's opinion, of us -- certain facts remain, Princess of Doriath. Your father's laws do not extend here, nor can he protect you past his domain. Beren is not here to defend you -- from what you have said, he cannot even defend himself. In a short while -- short by any measure that our people use -- he will, for all intents and purposes, no longer exist. You have gone wandering alone in the wilds like a stray lamb, and like a stray lamb you are prey for whatever wolfish beast should chance upon you. It would be the part of wisdom to reckon with facts, your Highness, and to accept the realities of your present situation.
Remember the story of my cousin -- the true story, and consider your chances, set against hers. You Dark-elves haven't our resistance to the dark, after all.
I never thought of us like that. I always felt that my mother brought Aman with her wherever she was.
What a delightful notion. But do you really think you're the equal of any of us? Now that you're outside her protection?
I am not without all resources myself, my lord!
Curufin: [tilting his head back to look sarcastically at her]
Indeed. Then might I ask why you haven't left already? --I think we both know very well that such scant power as you had you have no longer, and cannot Work again. The reality is -- that you are one and we are many, and you have no recourse but to accept that fact. Or, perhaps, not to accept it -- but learn the truth of it all the same.
It could be worse: Nargothrond is a rich realm, and shall be richer yet under proper governance, and you will lack for nothing here -- and my brother is overwhelmed by your radiant beauty, and honors you as highly as any Noldor maid, and will let no harm come to you . . . and he is even among the Foremost acounted handsome, and his prowess in the field unmatched, and his temper most gracious so none do cross him. You could do far worse, my lady.
Luthien: [speaking very fast and nervously, her eyes fixed on Curufin]
There is a story of Marach out of the Forgotten Days, my lord, in which a mortal lady was born under a Doom to be the most beautiful of all her age, and so she was promised to a mighty sovereign from before the hour of her birth, and held in a lonely place where none might see her before she was of an age to be given to him, as was the custom in those days of the East, but a hunter whose Doom it was to find her came singing upon the house where she was held in secret and she heard his song and fled with him, and his brothers defended them, and there was great war as was foretold in the lady's Doom --
[weighting the next words particularly]
-- but at last they were betrayed to their deaths by a lesser lord whom they had trusted, and the lady was taken by the lesser lord to be his slave, and then to win favor with the great king the lesser lord made gift of her to his master, but when they rode to meet the mighty sovereign's emissaries, the lesser lord mocked her, and cast all her weakness in her face, and as he laughed she laughed at him in turn, and faded as mortals fade -- that is to say, she cast herself down from the high place of the mountain where they rode into the stones, and her body was broken, and she died, and so escaped her Doom to find her love again.
[as though discussing textual variations in a symposium]
We do not know if it be true, or if the mighty sovereign and the lesser lord be truly Morgoth Bauglir and Sauron his servant, and the lady a sacrifice to the Dark Ones as dim rumor has it, but it is a very old story, my lord, and one that is often told, though it is sad to tell.
Curufin: [sounding mildly confused]
I beg your pardon, Your Highness, but why do you relate this lamentable chronicle of mortal woes? Were we not speaking of the state of Beleriand's polity and future prosperity?
I am not sure of what you were speaking, my lord.
Of the folly of such a fair one as you venturing the wilds, and risking your life, your health, your happiness and peace amid rough places and rougher folk.
[He steps closer, not touching her, but backing her up towards the wall, and blocking her with his hands set against the wall on either side when she tries to dodge past him. Angry but cold, she folds her arms and stares back at him, unimpressed.]
Barahirion might worship you as a goddess too high for anything save veneration and abject obedience -- but not all mortals are so . . . docile, so . . . easily enspelled. Easterling chieftains like the ones in your story will not consider either your race or your noble blood as grounds for fear in their dealings with you; nor will Orcs, wolves, --Balrogs, or soul-destroying Undead phantoms regard you as anything other than -- tasty.
[He leans close to speak softly in her ear, weighting each word dramatically]
You really . . . should . . . consider . . . your options . . . very, very carefully. Your Highness.
Luthien: [pale but calm]
If you're trying to intimidate me, my lord, rest assured -- I am intimidated. If you're not trying to intimidate me -- or rather, whether you are or are not -- you should stop right now.
Curufin: [tipping her chin up to make her look at him in a less-haughty way]
Because you don't like it?
Because Huan doesn't like it.
[Behind Curufin's ear there is a loud growl.]
You should really learn some manners, Lord Curufin. It's sad that four and a half centuries' experience here hasn't taught you the courtesy of a Mortal. One tends to think that what mere living hasn't managed to convey, yet might be learned in a very sharp lesson -- rather quickly, I dare say.
[Curufin looks slowly over his shoulder, confirming the hostile situation]
Curufin: [trying the masterful approach]
Down, boy! Down--
Huan, would you be so kind as to show milord to the door? And through it as well?
[Huan shoves between them and edges over enough to stagger Curufin backwards; Luthien gives him a grateful pat on the withers before he moves in and starts herding Curufin with irresistable force out into the hallway]
I'm sorry, my rustic Doriath accent must have confused him -- did I say "show" or "shove," milord?
Your Highness, I hope that you will carefully consider, in cool rationality and mature calculation, what we have discussed -- rather than placing your faith in dumb brutes of uncertain loyalty.
Only my relatives' loyalty has ever been in doubt, Lord Curufin . . . of Nargothrond.
[blocking the opening, looks at Luthien and barks]
Yes, Huan, please close the door as well.
[She waits until Curufin can't see her before sagging back against the wall -- but only for an instant, before she pulls herself together and resumes frantically, if uselessly, pacing the rooms, checking the ventilators and chimneys again to prove to herself that she hasn't overlooked any avenue of escape. Huan follows her, hovering, with a worried expression.]
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