10. Scene II - part VI
If he didn't mind before in the same cause, I much misdoubt he'll object now. --Do you, boy?
Huan: [bouncing in place]
[short impatient barks]
Captain: [shaking head]
This still seems wrong. I do apologize--
[he swings up onto Huan's back, and the Hound takes off like a racehorse. The remaining Eldar spread out into a loose circle, fanning out from the waterfall, one of the Rangers scaling up to take a watchpost on top of the rock formation, their expressions worried, but taking the task too seriously to let concern distract them. The fall splashes quite a lot, just like a real one.]
You're getting wet.
So are you.
Steward: [same calming tone throughout]
As I understand it, each thing which exists in the world -- not merely ourselves -- has both its outward and material being, and its inward and permanent essence, the which differs from the former chiefly in that most material fact of matter. And we, that are the essences or principles of ourselves, may no less perceive, and encounter, those essences of other things, even as in life we did, though through the intermediation of our respective bodies, with greater or lesser tangibility, as the ideas of those things are held more strongly, or weakly, in our thought. --Such at least is the King's theory concerning the facts, which are themselves undeniable.
Is that why -- why everything's sort of vague to me? Because humans don't have insight the way you do, and there's no surfaces?
Perhaps. Perhaps not. It might well be that your spirit has been so damaged that, even as one cannot well sense or act when gravely injured, you have not the strength to focus your perception upon our surroundings.
Or perhaps I'm too dumb to think about things properly.
I very much doubt that. You grasped my explanation well enough -- which places you signally ahead of many another resident here.
[puts his hand in the basin]
Do you want some? Even if it is merely the idea of water.
[gives him a drink, obliging him to pay attention and cooperate a little]
You're trying to keep me distracted.
You taught me the Old Tongue. And made me memorize "The Fall of the Noldor."
--Otherwise known as "that really long depressing Quenya poem."
I'm afraid you wasted your efforts, sir -- I can't remember any of it now.
It served its purpose.
Every time I started losing it you drilled me on verb endings and stuff until I was too angry and frustrated to panic.
Do not overcredit me: it was not solely altruism on my part. Such exercises served as distraction not only for yourself. --More water?
Beren: [shaking his head]
I don't belong here.
But you are here. Therefore you must have some purpose to accomplish here.
I'm not supposed to be. I shouldn't have stayed. That's what he said.
All of them. I stayed because Tinuviel said to wait. And I did. And now everyone wants me to go.
Not the Princess, surely?
No . . .
Beren: [very quietly]
Do you miss your family?
Indeed yes. Though whether they in turn regret my absence, I could not dare to say.
I haven't belonged to the world of Men since my father was killed. I don't have a place in Middle-earth where I belong. I destroyed the one other place that was a home for my people. I destroyed Doriath. I should have died where I was born.
Steward: [gently reminding]
Luthien is your family, now.
Beren: [closing his eyes]
And I killed her too. She doesn't need me. You've told me how beautiful Valinor is . . . she could have all that forever. She doesn't belong in here, being harangued yet again because of me. If I was gone, she'd be safe--
That is the word. What does it mean?
That's "yulme." --"Yallume."
That's easy, "horse" -- no, "rider."
Eh. Not an easy one . . . something to do with the sea. --"Gull."
"A year." --One of our years, not a Great Year.
Beren: [smiles a little]
--Not any more. Kind of hard to wield an "eket" with the wrong "mat."
Steward: [dispassionate correction]
"Ma" -- "hand," singular. --"Maruvan."
"They'll bide here--"
Not "they" . . .
"I will --"
[looks up at him]
Of course. "Harma."
[The Steward looks away and does not answer, so Beren does:]
Steward: [successfully hiding embarrassment]
[he wins this round too]
Steward: [clipped tone]
[pause - the next word is hard to pronounce]
Steward: [brief look of exasperation]
"Wise one." --"Nuruhuine."
"Threat of death."
[pause. Narrow look:]
[the Steward closes his eyes.]
Beren: [raising an eyebrow]
--Like in "Eruhini."
"Nukumna" -- for I am indeed humbled, that you would claim me as your kin.
--Unless it was a different word you meant?
Beren: [small grin]
Steward: [shaking head]
Hmph. If "even you" cannot refrain from subtlety, the world's come to a sad pass. --"Arato."
It shouldn't be that hard: the element "ar" is present in many words, and the word itself more than once in "Noldolante" . . .
Beren: [losing this round]
You've grown repetetive, I'm afraid. --"Selma."
If you're going to be forward enough to, as you would say, "cobble together" your own Quenya words, then you ought as well remember that the first and last rule is the taste of the word when uttered forth. "Atandur" is far more euphonious.
Both true. Friendship and service. I'm winning, by the way. --"Faila."
Steward: [still more acerbic]
"Magnanimous." --The arrogance that could claim victory in a spoken duel with a trained bard after less than a half-season's rough teaching quite sends the mind reeling. --"Faire."
"Ghost." That's both of "met" though -- "t" because it's two of us. Like two hands. But the other way would be true, too -- "me," all of us.
I thought you didn't remember any of it.
Me too. It just keeps bringing more of it, like when you try to remember all the verses of a song. --I'm still ahead. "Axor."
[The Steward flicks some water at his face]
Non-verbal response -- I win. "Axor."
"Bones" -- Holy stars, Beren, you're incorrigible.
--Well, such cleverness should find "The Fall of the Noldor" no challenge at all.
Or -- we could move to declensions instead?
That isn't any better. At least the "Noldolante" rhymes. Sort of.
Declensions "sort of" rhyme, too.
Then "The Really Long Depressing Quenya Poem" it is. Alternating lines? Having lost the last round -- though I do not recall ever declaring a contest -- I suppose I must in forfeit lead off--
[commotion -- Huan dashes in, barking, with passengers.]
[all three skid over to where they are sitting, with emergency dismounts, to kneel on either side of the two, Huan crowding in with as much concern until the Captain draws his head over and rubs his nose. Finrod reaches out to take hold of Beren's shoulder.]
[Beren tries to answer, shakes his head]
He said you were fading
-- Beren, can you tell me what's the matter?
[Beren tries again to find words]
[No answer -- he looks to the Steward, who looks him in the eyes, challengingly]
In general? Being dead; being driven half-mad by Oath, Silmaril, torture, poison, injury and guilt; being treated as an unwelcome trespasser with no right to exist here yet again. In specific -- your brothers came by, and were less-than-civil.
Finrod: [straightening, shocked]
It was mostly Angrod who did the shouting; Aegnor largely confined himself to glaring and unintelligible sounds of disgust.
You're exaggerating again -- no one actually raised voices, merely indulged in caustic reproach and derogative comment.
Beren -- you -- you mustn't -- It isn't any of your fault, truly.
They've been rather -- protective, of me. It's unfortunate you were in the way. You really mustn't--
--No, Sir -- I understand. All of it. --About the Prince, and Da's Granda's sister.
[Finrod gives his commanders stern looks]
It seemed rather late to be worrying about Aegnor's dignity, as it most evidently concerned Lord Aegnor not at all.
And "need-to-know" could
most definitely be proven, in my judgment. Edrahil thought he deserved the truth -- and I concurred.
Beren: [outraged & hurt -- it finally breaks loose]
--Sir, couldn't you have told me? After everything?
How could you have kept that from me?
It wasn't mine to tell.
Besides -- it -- it wouldn't have made any difference.
Beren: [shaking head]
It would. It would have helped me understand.
Finrod: [very quiet]
[Beren nods, but does not speak]
W--where are my siblings now?
I invoked the threat of Amarie and they made themselves scarce, though I could not say for how long it will suffice.
[Finrod winces again]
My lord, he needs her. She is what binds him to this world, and nothing else. You must bring the Princess here as quickly as possible, while we bend our arts to keeping Beren within this Circle. Else he'll fade, and all shall have been for naught.
Beren -- please -- forgive me, I truly never meant to cause you distress -- I never thought--
Sire. What purpose is served by troubling the Beoring with your regrets? You only make it harder for him.
[Beren starts to say something, but doesn't get the chance]
My lord -- you know what you must do, as we shall hold to our task.
[Finrod, his expression of extreme distress, nods abruptly and rises, backing Huan out by his collar like a horse and mounting up without further discussion. Before they ride off, however, he looks over his shoulder at them]
The waterfall was an excellent idea. But music also worked well before. Will you add that, while I go?
[He gives the Steward a meaningful Look]
I have not played since before we left the City, my lord.
I know. --That's why I asked, not ordered.
[they match stares again for a moment, before the Steward bows his head. To Beren:]
Beor. You will stay until we fetch your lady hither. That is an order.
Beren: [crooked grin]
[Finrod gives him a worried smile, and Huan, impatient, barks a warning before charging forward. The Steward shakes his head a little, seeming distracted, and the Captain takes Beren from him quickly, not carelessly, with much more experience moving casualties.]
Did you . . . have to say that to his Majesty? I . . . I could have coped.
I am sorry, Beren, I did not mean to embarrass you. One cannot mindspeak here -- no, that isn't it--
[looks to the Steward, who has manifested a harp somewhat different in design from the King's, and is frowning abstractedly at it]
Can you explain?
All is thought here, and mind, and will, so one cannot speak otherwise. One can remain silent, refuse answer, but one cannot speak to some and not to all who are present. Nor can one conceal the truth, to most, by speaking falsely knowingly -- certainly not to the Lord and Ladies of this Hall.
[runs a simple pentatonic scale up and down the strings]
My invention is sadly worn.
[plucks a minor, unresolved chord]
I cannot think of any but sad songs lately -- I fear that would serve us little.
There's strength in grief. It's caring for nothing that's truly fatal.
My lord . . . give me your sorrow.
Will it not weigh your heart past enduring?
In exchange for my own. It can't be heavier.
[the Captain anxiously brushes his hair back from his eyes, and touches some water to his temples]
That seems but a poor bargain. How will it aid you?
Why did you make me tell you all about the fall of Dorthonion? Repeatedly?
[cuts him off before he can answer]
--And don't say it was all for my own good. You already admitted otherwise just now -- remember?
I remember also that you must always have the last word. --You must tell me if the balance is unequal and the sum too great before the scale tips and the beam crashes.
[without further ado he starts playing -- despite his disclaiming, it would be hard for any mortal listener to tell he's out of practice and in an inventive drought. Since there's no transcription of what early bardic performance actually consisted of, I'm conceiving it in the manner of extant English settings of poetry from the 12 and 1300s -- free-flowing and varied according to the length and nature of each line.]
--Oft should I, alone each dawn,
my cares lament: now living is none
that I to him the mood of my heart
dare disclose. I know full well
that for a leader 'tis lordly strength
that he his locked counsels shall fastly bind,
hold close his coffered thought, howso other he would.
--No more may heartwearied Doom stand defying,
nor shall troubled musings bear with them help--
for they most earnest of others' respect, tears oft
in their breast's chamber shall bind away fast.
So should I oft my soul make safe--
beggared by care, bereft of my House,
far from my home -- fettering my soul
since I left him, my lord gold-joyful, generous,
in earth's dark depths -- and I unwillingly,
winterweary, was bound hither over the waves.
Where might I find, living, friend or lord now
who shall in meadhall name me their own?
or my friendlessness would turn to friendship,
win me to joyfulness? --This do we know
how cruel a comrade is sorrow to him
whose true friends have all been taken,
wandering in exile -- worthless the worked gold,
ice-cold his inmost thought, worthless the flowering fields.
He minds him ever how all joy is broken,
for that he knows that his joyful lord
and his dear counsel shall long be forgoing:
then sorrow and sleep ever together
pitiful, solitary, oft are binding
him in mind that he his liege-lord
clasps and kisses and on knee lays
hand and head, as he did betimes,
vassal in spear-hall, at the gift-dealing--
yet, then awakened, the joyless man
sees before him the fallow waves,
as sleet and snow and hail fall mingled.
Then all the heavier be heart's wounds,
sorely yearning after. Sorrow's made new again,
when comrades in mind and thought return:
he greets, joyfilled, earnestly looks on them--
yet swiftly their souls swim oft away,
floating forth, nor bring their spirits
the cheerful harpsong. Cares are made new
to him that shall send ever anew
over waves binding the wearied soul.
For this I may not in this world think
of aught that my heart might darken not
when I name noble lives all gone thence,
brave horsemen and vassals. So Middle-earth
and all upon it daily fades and fails.
For this a warrior may not name him wise
who has not dwelt winters in that worlds-realm.
--Such a one knows how soul-shaking shall be
when all this world's wealth stands bestrewn
as now likewise upon Middle-earth
the wind bewails where walls are standing
ice-enameled, ruined the fortresses,
fallen the wine-halls, dead the defenders,
lying by walls. Some the war took from us,
faring in faroff ways: that one fed the carrion fowl
far from harbour, to that one the ice-grey wolf
dealt out death, -- that one the faithful friend
hid in earthen grave, mourning for lord.
[He stops the strings abruptly.]
Now you must give me yours, in return.
I can't, sir -- you've stolen it from me already, and I don't know how to get it apart from yours now.
Forgive my theft.
Beren: [shakes his head]
You've repaid it and then some, given it winged words where it crawled in the weeds, or slept, earthbound.
. . . I thank you, my lord, for such generous praise . . .
[silence -- the Guard hesitantly puts a hand on the Steward's shoulder, endeavoring to comfort him. In the background, where a slight change in illumination reveals one of the doors, a dim figure is standing, listening, but we cannot see who it is in the shadows.]