13. Scene III.ii - part II
[Amarie whirls and stalks towards him -- simultaneously Finrod backs up and Beren starts to move in between them again]
--But I did not want to wed any other consort!
Finrod: [very quietly]
Hold, thou prating wretch!!!
[she resumes her trajectory and sweeps out again. There is a long, awkward silence -- the Ten try obviously not to be obviously present.]
Finrod: [brightly, to Beren]
So now you've taken her side too.
Beren: [shaking his head]
There's no sides in this.
But you think I'm wrong.
You thought you were wrong too, that's what you used to say.
Why is it any different now -- or why does it appear differently now -- than at the beginning of the conversation?
It -- it's just different. It isn't like any other kind of breaking up or contract-ending or anything. You just have to take my word for it.
What you did to her -- that kind of a cut -- it was the same as Nargothrond.
[pause -- deceptively light tone ]
So you're saying it's hopeless.
Beren: [shaking head]
No. She's talking to you. Even at second-hand -- that's a good sign. If it was really hopeless she wouldn't have come to tell you it was hopeless. Means there's room for negotiations.
Negotiations don't always end satisfactorily -- for anyone.
I know. I'm just saying, there's a chance. You could end up the same, or you could make it worse even. You can't -- I can't believe I'm telling you how to deal with people -- but you're taking this very superior, very haughty tone, putting all the distance to cross on her, and you don't have that high ground. I mean -- Sir, you betrayed her and publicly humiliated her after she had already taken grief for marrying beneath her, and declared for you regardless, and now you're asking her to risk it again for a pardoned rebel.
I'm not asking anything.
I know. That's what I'm trying to say, only it's confusing and I'm muddling it worse. I know it seems like she's being unreasonable right now, but you've put her in an unreasonable situation. No wonder you're both stuck -- you're making her come and bend the knee without giving anything in return.
Finrod: [more haughty]
You ripped her heart out and threw it in the mud! And stomped on it a couple times. You don't just say, "Sorry about that, I'm willing to forget about it if you are" --!
[someone quickly stifles a nervous laugh; long pause]
So you're saying that I ought to abase myself thoroughly, grovel even, spare no opportunity to castigate myself before her . . . ?
No, Sir. That would just be doing the same thing another way. If you aren't sincere -- don't you think she'll be able to tell? If you're just acting like she's being cruel but you're willing to suffer and put up with it, that's just claiming you're in the right as much as the other. Only you'll make it worse, because you'll make it look like she's being unjust.
What else could I have done? You remember the stories about that insanity, the outcry, the chaos, even before Feanor showed up to throw flames into spilt oil -- how should I have acted? What should I have done?
Something that wasn't what you did.
[Finrod glares at him]
I -- I'm sorry, I -- it's beyond arrogant for me to lecture you about your own folk. I really -- don't know that any of this is true for anyone besides Men . . .
Your people have a word for it. The wise listen to experience.
--Cut off, pinned down, and no high ground -- can you get me out of this Fen, Beor?
[Beren looks dismayed]
If you can break us free of the trap we've driven ourselves into, you'll render me a greater service than did your father.
Because I can't. I keep saying the same damned things -- or thinking them -- and we just repeat the measure again and again. Even when it's only in my imagining -- and then it plays out exactly as I've Seen it, right up to the point when you jump in between and change it all.
Sir -- my own relationship has not been the smoothest, to put it bluntly.
You two are still speaking to each other, last time I checked. --I'm not asking you to do the impossible, Beren -- no, I am rather, at that -- Only to try.
[Beren laughs helplessly, shaking his head]
Of course. If you're sure. --You know what happens to my projects.
--Expansion of scope far beyond any reasonable assessment, followed by utter chaos, culminating in divine intervention? --I'm counting on it.
New plan. You do whatever
you want. I'm not going to tell you what to do or what not to do. Save this -- if you need help, summon me. If you think you might need help -- summon me. If you're not sure -- likewise.
[He turns back to the fountain and washes his face before picking up the harp again. Sitting down on one of the boulders along the margin he begins to play quietly again, ignoring -- apparently -- everything else. Beren looks after him, worried]
Is he going to be okay?
He needs time alone. It's been a difficult thing to come by, these past ten years.
That was impressive, you getting in between them like that.
Beren: [shaking his head]
Dumb, you mean. It didn't even occur to me that -- well, that we're just ghosts and she couldn't've done anything to him.
Then that only makes it more courageous.
But she couldn't really touch us, right? That's what she told Tinuviel.
In theory, no. It's never been put to the test, though.
--So far as anyone knows. Not here. And no one's asked the houseless in Beleriand what it's like to have someone walk through you. It -- it just wasn't the sort of thing one asked.
--Not to mention the fact that on such rare occasions the mind was occupied in fighting or trying to free them.
--Yes, but wouldn't it have seemed crass in any case?
Steward: [nodding agreement]
One assumes there could be no contact at all, but it doesn't seem as though it could be anything but disturbing.
--And we're not really sure what might happen if the soul of someone living collided with someone discorporate. There's speculation that it might be like getting hit by lightning, only without the subsequent discorporation--
--When did you get hit by lightning?
No, really, how else would one know it was like getting hit by lightning, if one hadn't experienced that?
There's also speculation that it wouldn't have any result if the corporate didn't believe in the discorporate's, hm, presence? --reality?
But how can you be trying to hit someone if you don't think they're really there?
That's probably not the best description. I'm not sure that you've got the concepts to understand the terminology, sorry. --Mind you, I'm not sure that I've got them, myself.
And then there is also the corollary, which is that if someone believed that one was, er, real, or enough, then the reverse would be true.
So what you're saying is that if someone alive didn't have doubts like Amarie said about it being possible, maybe they would . . . um . . . stop, at the . . . edges? "Mental boundaries" maybe?
[reaches over and taps the Warrior's arm]
--Like we do?
[nods all round]
But it could be that having someone living walk through you or bust your jaw for that matter -- might be like having a pail of ice water thrown at you or something.
It might only be like a mild breeze.
Under the circumstances one can but fervently hope so.
But nobody knows because you haven't tested it.
--Wow, I'm surprised.
Well, how would we?
The staff already think we're lunatics as it is. Can you really see asking Lord Namo or his Lady to not walk around us because we want to see what an intersection experience is like?
Lady Nia might oblige.
Do you want to ask her? I'd be embarrassed.
Besides, it might not mean anything anyway. The gods already walk in this plane, so it probably wouldn't be a valid test.
What about that kid who's working for her?
Same problem, anyway.
We think, at any rate.
So we're just going to have to wonder, since it hasn't happened yet, when two spirits -- intersect? -- what happens then.
But it's possible--
Don't -- he'll come undone again.
It's possible you already have. We don't know if they drift aside like a leaf in front of a boat's prow, or -- or not. The ones who won't come out of hiding at all. We don't even know how diffuse their consciousness is. Since we can't ask them -- we're left to speculate.
That's not true, Sir, the King's asked them, they just won't answer.
That's what I just said, isn't it? "The ones who won't come out of hiding at all."
Please -- don't snap at each other.
We're all on edge because we're worried for you.
And the ones who have left off moping don't want to talk about being dissipated either. Or they don't remember. Even Himself isn't sure if he really stayed in the corner all that time, or if it's an imagining and not a memory of being in a haze of grief.
So what you're saying is I could have walked through who knows how many other ghosts already.
--Please don't get upset again.
Beren: [half-smiles at them]
[he sighs, shakes his head, and looks away.]
Second Guard: [helpfully]
Do you want to try working on your combat skills? We can help you with the retraining.
Waste of time, if I'm just going to be kicked out of the world.
You don't know that it will work out that way. We're hoping for the best.
It'll be great to have you on our side for the next one. There's been talk about doing the First Battle, and it's starting to sound like it might happen finally.
Besides, it'll make the time pass quicker.
--That is to say, it may make it seem to do so.
Beren: [tearful frustration]
No. I've tried. I can't do it.
[He looks down, thoroughly embarrassed, while they look at him helplessly -- long pause]
Fourth Guard: [intensely]
[he touches Beren's shoulder.]
[Beren nods, still not able to speak]
Do you want to play chess?
Beren: [after a moment]
Do you care what we use?
I was just wondering . . . pebbles sometimes roll off their places. You don't mind if I make a set, do you?
That's fine -- go ahead and do it the way you want.
[he watches in bemusement as the other manifests a tafl board and pieces, setting them down on the floor by the edge of the pool on a convenient bit of the "ledges" that now make up the vicinity, and picks up one with a wondering smile]
It even feels heavy.
That's because you know how heavy stone's supposed to be. You can't fool yourself here.
Other people, though.
Youngest Ranger: [nods]
Sometimes. It depends. You want to go first?
Soldier: [to the Youngest Ranger]
You know, I'm not trying to denigrate your work -- it's very fine and naturalistic, but it really doesn't fit just jammed up there against the flat wall like that. It looks strange.
It wasn't done for looks. Go ahead and fix it if you think you can come up with something better. It'll have to be taken down eventually anyway.
What about some kind of surround or framing device to gradually bring it to the level of the facing?
I'm playing chess. I don't care. Just remember that you'll find out what your fate is that's worse than death if another pipe gets broken. And I won't take the blame for that.
Who was it vanished when the sconce broke?
Yes, but I came right back. You only noticed because you were trying to hide behind me anyway. --You know that only makes it more obvious that you're trying not to be noticed.
Ranger: [to his colleague]
You want to make a bet on whether he breaks something?
Youngest Ranger: [patiently]
No, I want to play mortal chess with Beren. I think I've got a workable strategy I want to try.
Ranger: [to the Soldier]
Why don't you make a frieze around it, really low-relief, that has a scene of a forest, and then it wouldn't look like rocks coming out of nowhere? Soldier: I thought a semi-naturalistic surround, like a doorway, myself.
Won't that just look as though you've got three incompatible things grafted together?
No, see, if I do this--
[they go over & start sketching on the wall surface in the background, while the others settle down to watch them (and give more advice) or to watch the chess game, all very carefully not intruding on Finrod's privacy.]
You know, you could have some of you . . . vanish, and see what happens if somebody walks through you, and then compare observations after. Couldn't you?
I don't think any of us is really that curious. Not even him. --Your move.
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