15. Scene III.iv
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
BELOVED FOOL: BEYOND THE WESTERN SEA
- [The Hall.]
[The scene has not changed much from before -- there is now a complicated and ever-changing tracery of light on the back wall as various people contribute ideas and erase bits from the sketch, but otherwise the subdued, yet casual ambience remains the same, another chessboard has been set up, Huan is being happily used as a backrest, and Finrod is still seated off a short ways from everyone else, so quietly that he would almost seem in a sleep-trance, if he weren't playing steadily in a very wistful, almost Mixolydian-mode progression of runs and bell-like changes. ("The Last Rose of Summer" and "Scotland the Brave" are both Mixolydian, combining what we think of as major and minor.) His lieges, for all their relaxation, are also very carefully maintaining a perimeter around Beren -- so that when the Princes return, still looking for their brother (now having had time to work up a proper righteous huff about Beren's presence) the alert and defense are instant.] Third Guard: [warning tone]
[the rest of the Ten, and Huan, tense -- all attention goes between Finrod and Beren, as the King gives him a serious questioning Look. Beren, meeting his stare directly, shakes his head, and after a moment Finrod nods in acceptance. Everyone stays "at ease" (on the surface, that is) as the other two sons of Finarfin -- after doing a severe double take at the changes, reorient themselves and come over to the waterfall.]
I don't want to know.
Aegnor: [with a sarcastic smile -- he seems to have gotten hold of himself for the present]
Unfortunately I doubt very much that will be possible for very long. --Finrod, what the bloody blazes is this nonsense? I thought you weren't allowed to do this kind of thing any more.
[Finrod doesn't answer, apparently not aware of them -- Aegnor snorts in disgust.]
Again -- what in Morgoth's name is all this madness about?
[no answer still]
--Are you having a relapse, or what?
[they start to approach his refuge -- the Steward
gets up and blocks them.]
I am afraid I must inform you that King Felagund is not admitting visitors at the present moment. I am certain, however, that as soon as he is no longer preoccupied he will
be most willing to meet with you.
But we're his brothers!
Steward: [bowing slightly]
I believe that I am as aware of that fact as he, or you twain.
You've never blocked us from seeing him in the past!
It has never been necessary to protect him from you in the past.
What do you mean, protect him from us?
Your wrath precedes you like the smell of burning and wraps you like a cloud of smoke. I won't have you harassing him with any of you in your present tempers. There's been enough distressing him tod-- lately.
Angrod: [nodding towards Beren, whom they have been ignoring]
And the reason for it's squatting on the floor right there. We're not the problem -- that one is.
Leave The Beoring alone.
You're still protecting him! Do you know how perverse that is?
Your Highnesses -- I have warned you. Follow this path and the consequences be upon your own head.
[they check briefly, looking somewhat worried at
the vague prediction.]
That remains -- to be seen.
Angrod: [disgusted snort]
You're just being cryptic to make us think you actually know something.
That is a possibility.
[the Princes circle around to where Beren is still engaged in his match, though everyone else -- with the exception of Finrod
-- has left off even pretense of their pastimes and is watching closely]
If it were in point of fact possible to speak one false here, I'd think you made up that story about Amarie. I've not seen anyone who oughtn't be here -- except for that one.
You missed her. She's been and gone again.
[at this escalation they stop in their stalking and halt a little ways off. The Youngest Ranger ducks down almost to his knees, staring at the kingstone pieces as if they might hold a rescue in them. Beren reaches over and pokes his hand]
You forgot to take the other piece.
[distractedly his companion collects the pawn from the board]
I really did expect something a bit more prepossessing, after all the stories and so forth. Not this pathetic collection of rags-and-tatters incapable of buckling his own belt.
[there is a long hair-raising growl from Huan and some metallic noises as blades are drawn, or half-drawn around them]
Third Guard: [iron]
Don't make fun of that.
[there is a very uncomfortable pause -- the Princes only now noticing Beren's disability, and being somewhat abashed at their faux pas]
Fourth Guard: [choked]
You should apologize . . .Your Highness.
Beren: [cool, but commanding]
'Sokay. --Actually, that I can manage by myself. There's a lot of things I can't do one-handed, but I don't need my wife to do everything for me.
What . . . befell your sword-hand?
Long story. You missed that one too. If you want to actually sit down and listen I'm sure someone would be happy to fill you in, but I'm kind of beat right now and I don't really want to go through it all over again. Also, I admit that it's kind of embarrassing that the only time in the last nine years I've had clean clothes that actually fit was after I was dead, but you know, I never planned on having my homeland overrun and everything I owned destroyed or lost or stolen -- "hunted outlaw" was not my first career choice, so far as I had my life planned.
Aren't you ashamed to sit amidst this present company and smirk and speak thus presumptuously?
I'm not ashamed of any of my friends.
It is simply grotesque -- that all of you together should enjoy his favour.
[looks challengingly over at Finrod, who continues as if oblivious to their presence]
One consequence might be to make me reconsider my resolution against challenging you, my lord.
Why are you still protecting him?
Why stop now?
Just to be perfectly clear -- I didn't ask anyone to stick up for me.
Aegnor: [nodding towards his oldest sibling]
I'm surprised he isn't leaping in to defend you again.
Beren: [moving a piece]
I told him not to.
[to his opponent]
You -- told him not to--?!?
[to the Youngest Ranger]
Your move. --Don't let 'em rattle you.
[as the other looks up nervously again and then hunkers down]
Shouldn't that be -- asked, at the very least?
[Beren shakes his head, still studying the board]
No, he asked me if he should and I told him no. --Not in so many words.
Aren't you ashamed to share the same Circle with him? Far less to continue sponging off his good will and sympathies?
[Beren doesn't say anything, only making a move now it's his turn]
--If you really claim lordship
of Dorthonion, then you ought to remember that part of that is submission in the chain of command to Aegnor and myself.
[Beren sighs and looks up at him]
Look, I'm sorry you guys got killed at the Bragollach. And I'm sorry you--
--ditched my aunt An' and never made it up with her and it's too late now. But you know, I didn't have anything to do with all that, and -- guess what, he's right, they're not my problems, really. And I don't feel guilty about them.
--What about our brother?
But it's not like anything could ever stop him from helping me.
You could have not gone to him in the first place. Is that not the truth, --Beor?
--If there was anyone else I could have gone to. But everyone else who owes me favors is either dead and long gone, or long gone and maybe dead.
You were still free not to involve him.
Maybe so. Maybe I should've just walked away from Tinuviel and left her in Neldoreth and disappeared out of her life. But I couldn't do that. Maybe it was mortal weakness.
I'm not you. --I'm not even Noldor, which could be part of it, as my wife has pointed out, since she--
[after the first sentence Aegnor, after a second for this to sink in, starts to lunge for him. The Youngest Ranger, still looking apprehensive and conflicted, stands up and blocks him. As they stand confronted, the others close in a tight cordon and wall between the Princes and Beren. Huan follows them, to stand leaning over Beren's shoulder, panting -- and showing an awful lot of teeth.]
You disgusting parasite. --What have you done to trap so many of your betters into serving you?
[this being unanswerable, Beren just looks at him through the rank of defenders, not giving any ground]
Milords. We've heard this song, and it's getting very boring. If you keep insisting on afflicting us with this tune, we may be compelled to give your thirsty invention some fresh inspiration.
What are you talking
--Or cool your fiery humours, as the case may be.
Talk sense, or don't talk at all!
Captain: [nods towards the waterfall's pool]
I mean, my lords, we'll pitch you in at the deep end.
There isn't a deep end in these little fishless fishponds.
There is now, milord. From erosion caused by the force of water.
It hasn't been that long--!
Aegnor: [nodding towards their eldest brother]
You're all as daft as he is.
Quite so -- and a lot more of us than there are of you.
[The Princes look at the intervening rank and think about it]
Angrod: [to Finrod]
Are you going to stand by and allow this?
Finrod: [sets down the harp, lifting his hands]
What makes you think I have any control over it? This is not Beleriand. Father's King over the Noldor now, and if Grandfather hadn't refused to interact with anyone, he, not I, would be possessed of such shadowy authority as our Lord and Lady are gracious to permit within these halls -- and since Feanor's so crazy that not even his own people here can deal with him, that falls instead to the High King, so far as he cares to exercise it.
You're lecturing us like little kids, --Ingold.
[Finrod shrugs again]
I might not be king, but I am still your older brother.
[pause -- his siblings give him disgruntled glares]
You died because of him!
And with him.
And that should make any difference?
You ought to be able to answer that as well as I.
[edged tolerant tone]
--Why don't you two run along now and find something harmless to amuse yourselves with? Go pick fights with the Formenos lot or play some chess with our uncle, if you can't think of anything constructive to do.
[he picks up with the music again -- this time it's a lot quicker and brighter: closer to "The Minstrel Boy" instead of "Last Rose of Summer."]
Stop treating us like children!
Stop acting like them, then. I expect better of you than this.
[there is a brief staring contest, before the younger Finarfinions break off and turn to leave, still indignant]
Angrod: [parting shot mode]
Are you sure he really is a Beoring? He doesn't look much like one.
[Finrod scowls, but shakes his head when several of the Ten silently offer to go after the Princes for that. There is a general sigh of relief and nervous humour, once they are gone, and everyone settles back down.]
Captain: [sitting down on Beren's other side, scratching Huan behind the foreleg]
You were very restrained when he insulted your mother. Most mortals I've known wouldn't have been so detatched.
He wasn't really.
[to the Youngest Ranger, who is frowning hard at the board now]
Did you go yet?
Er -- they rattled me. Sorry.
Me too. Take your time.
[to the Captain]
Verbal attacking when you feel guilty doesn't seem to be just a human trait, huh?
[he sighs again]
That's why they never visited Dorthonion in my lifetime, isn't it? It wasn't just that it didn't seem like a long time between visits to them.
Ah . . .
I take it that's a yes.
[he grimaces, shaking his head a little, looking off into the distance]
Would it make you feel better if I yelled at you some?
[the Captain raises his eyebrows, and Beren gives him a quizzical look back for a moment, then shakes his head]
Sorry, I just can't make myself do it.
I'll try to forgive you.
[Beren holds out his hand]
Don't joggle me this time, okay?
[the Captain opens and passes him the flask. Deliberately, with a wicked glint:]
--To your very good health, my lord.
[he drinks and hands it back]
And to your own, my lord.
[he toasts Beren in turn, laughing gently at them both.]
Shall we be singing comic songs, next?
Maybe later. If we feel like it then. --You know, I didn't realize that wasn't just wine until I finally had some in Menegroth. Then I remembered what wine was supposed to taste like, and I figured out that what he'd given me must have been the magic cordial of the Elves.
You and "magic"--!
--Are you . . . all right, now?
Captain: [equal honesty]
Beren: [nodding toward Finrod]
Why did he call him Ingold?
Because it's one of his names.
Yes, but he said it like it meant something. --Particular.
[pause -- the Captain looks over his shoulder to Finrod]
Do you want to explain it yourself, Sire, or shall I?
[Finrod nods towards him, without breaking his play, but with a look of barely concealed amusement]
"Ingold" is an after-name -- you know about those.
Beren: [nodding in turn]
Like Tinuviel. Or me calling myself "Empty-handed." --Or Felagund.
Yes, but Ingold is different from those examples. It -- it's the name Lady Earwen gave to him.
There's something about mother-names, isn't there? They're supposed to say something about you, or something, right?
Put with admirably-vague conciseness.
[he is amused by all this too]
Such as their mother's oft-repeated remark in answer to congratulations on a daughter at last, that no, really she had five sons, only one of them happened to be female. Of course, you can never be quite sure if things like that only reflect the future, or shape it, what with people's expectations.
So what's it mean? His nickname, I mean.
[Finrod's chief counsellors exchange a sly look, and the Steward starts to speak, but then Beren interrupts]
--Wait, wait, I think I figured it out.
[he looks rather smug]
It's the same as the word "ingole," isn't it? -- that means lore, right?
"Ingole" means lore, yes.
But am I right about how it's the same?
Mainly. They are close akin. Ingole is more general, ingold more specific.
[at Beren's frown]
It's a personal form, but it's essentially the same as the singular of "Noldor."
[Beren nods in satisfaction]
Beren: [sudden direct look to Finrod]
She called you the same thing we did. --Basically.
[Finrod nods again, with a rueful smile.]
No wonder you said it freaked you out when we called you "Wisdom." I bet you weren't expecting that.
Be fair -- I was still rather unsettled from having been told, somewhat insistently, that I was a god -- as if I might be mistaken about it, somehow.
Are you sure about that, Sir?
[there is a loud jangling discord, and Beren grins, if a bit shyly still]
Um -- "Field," -- I think. --Sorry.
Beren: [after looking at the board]
Hey, that's good. Set 'em up again?
[behind them all Finrod carries on his music, looking over his band of loyallists with an expression that is at once proud and considering, calm but very serious in his composure. Yes, he is still very much the King, whether he likes it or not.]
[to be continued...]