17. Scene III.vi
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
BELOVED FOOL: BEYOND THE WESTERN SEA
[Beren is about to start a new game, when one of the royal Guard comes over and interrupts them:]
Hey, what's this about someone actually beating Barahirion at mortal chess? That's a joke, right?
Beren: [nodding towards the Sindarin Ranger]
Nope, he took the field last match.
Then it has to be some kind of weird anomaly. Nobody beats you at kingstone.
It wasn't a random occurrence. I've got a strategy.
Second Guard: [tapping Beren on the shoulder]
Here -- let me play this one, will you? I want to see this new set of tactics.
[he moves over and lets the other take his place. To the Warrior, who is next to him, having been watching the last game:]
It sure is a lot easier when you actually have something in front of you, instead of just trying to keep it all straight in your head.
Beren: [wry smile]
Even if it isn't real.
It seems real enough, for the present, and that's all that matters.
You want your coat back?
[he reaches up to work off the other's cape, which he has still kept]
[there is a flicker over his appearance as when Luthien first arrived, and he is wearing his again]
I'm not going to get used to that. Even if nothing should surprise me after I was -- you'd think I'd get over all these mortal reactions.
[shaking his head]
So your weapons seem just as real as this--
[rubbing at the hem of the cloak]
--even when they hit, I take it?
Oh, very much yes. Especially then.
So, how does it work? Or when you get -- killed, here? --Commander wasn't joking about cutting people's hands off for hitting the King, was he?
[the cavalry officer shakes his head]
But it doesn't -- stay that way, does it?
It stays until you let yourself disperse, and reappear again. That was the problem at first, why we had to make so many rules and do so many practices before we could try the Sudden Flame -- people couldn't grasp that it wasn't fair to just reappear and start fighting again after getting run through or decapitated. Or losing something. But finally everyone admitted that it really was more fun to do it the real way.
So you don't have to -- vanish, then, if you've been hit?
No. That's why people who've actually been injured and recovered in Beleriand have a huge advantage over the chaps who just got killed outright. We know what it feels like, and how to keep going. Once you leave the field, though, you're off until the battle's over.
So how . . . ?
It's a matter of remembering how it should go, not what just happened to you. Just the same as this--
[he reaches over and pins the brooch on Beren's copy of his cape correctly]
Beren: [not offended]
You know . . . I should tend to think that it would be possible for you as well. It -- it isn't as if you were--
--born that way--
[he very lightly brushes Beren's wrist -- the other pulls back, gripping his stump tightly with his left hand.]
I wouldn't begin to know how.
Know what? I wasn't paying attention.
Restore himself, so that he doesn't have to do without his hand.
Fourth Guard: [interested and hopeful]
Beren: [shaking his head]
If I . . . let myself go . . . I might not be able to come back. Or stay here.
But why not? It isn't hard--
I'm not like you. If I were able to do that -- I wouldn't be human any more.
We're not supposed to be having new bodies like you. What happens to us in this world happens, and that's just the way it is.
[he gets to his feet -- his companions give him anxious looks]
Please don't be thrown by all this -- we're just talking. I didn't mean to distress you.
Fourth Guard: [very worried]
You're not upset again? Really?
Beren: [patting him on the shoulder]
[he goes over to Finrod's side and sits down next to him, a little away from where the Captain and the Steward are watching the light effects and passing the flask back and forth at intervals.
Captain: [pointing to the flames]
Will we get in trouble, do you think, if we were to put these over all the fountains in the place?
I could have told you that.
Finrod: [to Beren]
Did you want to talk about anything?
Beren: [noncommittal nod]
I want to ask you something -- if it's all right.
Ask away, --kinsman.
All right. So . . . are there any more crazy relatives I have to watch out for?
[Finrod frowns in thought]
They told me about the High King's long-lost daughter being here, and how I probably don't have to worry about Feanor, but how your cousin the Princess isn't too keen on hearing anything bad about Celegorm or even Curufin.
That sounds like a fairly comprehensive briefing.
[to his officers, a touch sternly]
--Why, then, were my younger siblings omitted from the list?
Sorry, Sir. We've just taken to ignoring those two and their rudeness for so long that we forgot all about them--
--but nobody's used to the idea of Ar-Feiniel being here, I'm afraid.
The fact that all were aware of the Princes' presence here -- and none of the White Lady's -- no doubt contributed to the taking-for-granted of the former.
Being slapped hard enough to knock one into a pillar does tend to work against any taking-for-granted, too.
She did regret it after, though -- particularly because you retaliated before you'd the chance to see who it was.
--I once asked my sister how she -- and her Lady -- could put up with Cousin Aredhel. The answer wasn't very flattering.
Beren: [a bit agog]
Captain: [looking up at the ceiling]
She said that the Lady was like a hot-tempered horse who didn't hold a grudge, great fun when she was in a good mood, and her bad ones didn't last long, even if she was easily vexed.
Sorry about that, Sire.
You could say that my family was full of thieves and murderers and I wouldn't be able to gainsay you.
What about the High King? Is he going to want me -- well, that is -- um, going to be mad at me for -- everything?
My uncle isn't likely to, no. He was troubled, yes, but he looks at fate much more reasonably than certain other persons of our mutual acquaintance. He's been rather downcast and melancholy and doesn't get about much anyway, though I try to draw him out of himself as much as possible. The breaking of the Leaguer -- and the news I had to give him about the consequences of it so far -- combined with the Kinslaying have rather depressed him, I'm afraid.
--He hates being hailed as a legendary hero, as well.
Beren: [digging right back]
They said he was kind of threatened by you getting all kinds of things going here, too.
Finrod: [a bit snide]
It doesn't seem as though they've left much for me to say.
My lord -- you're beginning to sound like me.
. . .
[Beren & the Captain hide their expressions, and the nearest artists on the joint mural project look suspiciously blank.]
It's okay, Sir, we won't hold it against you.
It's all or nothing, isn't it? Either you treat me like a demi-god, or you give me as much grief as these two.
Um, do you mean, as much grief as I give them, or as much as they give you?
I don't think I can deny that, right?
[he glances at the Elf-lords]
It would be an interesting experiment, to discover if a mortal can knowingly speak falsehood in the Halls.
But he already did, when he said he didn't have any idea what I was talking about.
No, a statement contrary to fact made with full knowledge that all present know that it is counter to the truth is not an untruth but merely a jest.
Well, then, this would be the same thing--
[as they are debating this issue--]
Beren: [his expression darkening]
They did have a point, though.
Who did, concerning what?
That I might as well have killed myself before getting you involved.
[Finrod's hand tightens on the harp frame]
I should have let them get soaked.
'Cause it's not like anything I ever did made a real difference -- for the better, at least. Not even my War. I'm not even worth making an example of.
Finrod: [exasperated sigh]
You're not still glooming about that, are you? --You don't think he was telling the truth, surely?
Beren, let me impart, if you'll allow, a brief word of advice: anyone who likes going by the aftername of "The Terrible" is not likely to say, "I'm sorry, but I'm not going to publicly execute you because I don't want anyone to know how much trouble you've managed to cause and if you simply disappear my enemies will be less likely to make a martyr of you." --Wouldn't you agree, eh?
Captain: [putting his head down on his knees in despair]
Oh dear Lady, they're at it again! What is it this time? I don't recognize this one.
Steward: [shaking his head]
I know about this. It's all right.
How come I don't?
Because you have such a hard time staying still and not speaking, if you're not out-of-doors stalking something. It was very difficult for him to talk about the End. And even after we knew about the rescue -- it was still nothing either of us wished to recollect. --Better, perhaps, that he's willing to speak of it now to The Beoring.
--I wasn't trying to keep things from you in some sort of petty triumph.
I didn't think that, actually.
Do you want to play chess?
--Do you want to try scaling the rockface the lads have built?
[the Steward snorts at that. Still looking at the water:]
You did cheat, didn't you?
I remember a foolish young Herald who refused to listen to a mere field officer telling him that the Enemy didn't honor the rules of battle that all civilized peoples in Middle-earth obeyed, saying instead, "They can't shoot me -- haven't you ever heard of diplomatic immunity?"
He only said that once, as I recall.
Being shot at rather tends to make it a hard position to maintain.
He did a fair job at not panicking and getting the mission out of range without any further casualties, as I also seem to recall, if only in bits and pieces.
I couldn't let your last words to me be: "Told you, you fool--"
I thought you apologized quite enough to last out forever and then some, four hundred thirty-odd years ago. That's a long time to still be worrying about it.
And -- I notice you still haven't answered the question -- Why? Surely it wasn't still guilt over one stupid mistake and a misplaced instance of verbal superiority. I'd really hate to have your conscience, if that's the case.
Surely if I were going to concede any such thing, I should have done it long since.
Captain: [ignoring this]
The how of it's easy -- obviously you simply foresaw which character I'd choose and named the next tengwa. But I'm not sure of the rationale, since it wouldn't make any difference in the end -- and if anyone had any optimistic hope that Orodreth might discover some courage somewhere and mount a rescue before the end, it wouldn't under any circumstances have been you.
Why do you insist on knowing this now?
Captain: [completely serious]
Because things are about to change, as they haven't before -- I can sense it without benefit of Foresight, like the coming of rain from beyond the hills, or the scent of snow in the air -- and I think for the better, though you'll say that's to be expected -- and I don't know that I'll be able to ask you again, Outside, under broad starlight. --Why did you let me go before you?
It was almost as hard on you as upon him--
[nodding towards Beren]
--you could never bear being under a roof so long, even when the fortress was ours, and the freedom of it likewise. . . . Besides, it was not all unselfishness: I did not See then this meeting, and so I had a little longer while his company for it.
I also knew which words he would choose.
[the Captain glances briefly towards Finrod, and then looks back at the water/fire in silence]
What is it you are thinking?
Wondering what caused the Song to bless me from the beginning of Time with a friend willing to live in my place. I could never have earned that or deserved it.
Steward: [very dry]
--And yet you still won't give me the grace of a chess-match.
There's that problem of staying still in one place indoors for long stretches of time at a go.
You're willing to sit still for long periods of time and watch, and offer astute criticisms of the plays, which would indicate that you don't find it quite so boring as all that, would it not?
--Yes, but that's fun. It drives everyone insane when I do that, in such different ways, and I get to see so many unguarded reactions. And if I were actually playing I couldn't pay attention to everyone else and keep close eye on the bystanders.
If you've not noticed, we're not in Nargothrond keeping track of the movements of Feanorian partisans and possible supporters any longer.
No, we're in Mandos, keeping track of the movements of Feanorian partisans, hadn't you realized that yet?
[this gets him a small but well-aimed splash from the spill-pool]
Beren: [extremely troubled]
--But what I still don't know, is -- did any of it mean anything? Not just our War -- The War, and Luthien saving me, and us getting the jewel, and Huan killing Carcaroth -- since we just lost anyway. So what if we hurt Morgoth doing it? He just comes back and stomps us again, harder this time, kills more people, and things are worse after for resisting! What good are the inspiring songs, if nobody's left to sing them?
[he looks at Finrod unhappily but with hope that somehow the King will be able to make it all right, while Finrod meets his stare quite soberly.]
I'm working on that problem. I still don't have enough information for a complete answer, I'm sorry to have to tell you.
[he startles, looking up as though he has heard something that no one else has yet perceived, and turns to Beren with a stricken expression.]
Change of plan again. Just follow orders -- no questions, no interpretation -- please.
Beren: [seeing how serious he is]
Okay. --What orders?
Finrod: [visibly coming undone, for him]
Stay out of sight -- stay behind Huan, don't -- don't get up, don't -- just -- lie low. Keep-- keep playing chess, act normal, whatever happens -- I -- I'm not sure how I could disguise you as we are and -- just -- please -- obey.
What is it? --Who -- is it?
? ! ?
[Finrod reaches out and grips his shoulder in attempted reassurance]
Don't panic. Everything will be all right.
No it won't.
Finrod: [sadly agreeing]
Probably not. --But leave it all to me. Please.
[Beren nods, and getting up goes quickly over to the further side of the pool where the games are ongoing, hastily explaining to a resulting general consternation and gestures of alarm equal to his news of Amarie, while the two chief counsellors answer their unofficial liege lord's summons for a hasty briefing and consultation.]
[By the time a Messenger of the Halls' resident staff enters, looking far more vague and brilliant than anyone we have yet seen (rather like a personification of the Northern Lights), and ushering in Finarfin, King of the Noldor in Aman (he might be played by Peter Davison, in All Creatures Great And Small, Dr. Who days) -- everyone has settled down into very preoccupied harmless pursuits again, and Beren is completely screened behind giant Hound and friends. Finrod does not leave his nook beside the falls, doing an excellent imitation of someone completely oblivious, and the Captain has taken point, as shall be seen in a moment, at the closest edge of the spill-pool towards the door, leaning on his elbow and ostensibly taking it quite easy.]
If it please you wait a moment, while I admit your Majesty's companion -- I'm afraid we're very short of people available right now. --Not entirely coincidentally, I've heard.
I shall wait, then, gentle spirit.
[the Messenger vanishes. Finarfin looks around with a controlled awe and restrained apprehensions -- and as perception adjusts he sees the ghostly grouping, and his face changes from wonder to dismay to equally-controlled anger -- the last especially as Finrod continues to disregard him. After a brief hesitation he walks slowly over towards the waterfall, and stops to look down at the Captain with a particularly disgusted expression. The Captain gets up and bows with a pleasant smile.]
Captain: [tone matching his smile]
Good day, my lord -- meaning day in the most general sense, for we haven't any way of telling the time here.
[Finarfin glares at him]
Thy former post I have given to another -- nor shalt thou have it again, when thou dost depart these halls.
Of course not -- I wouldn't expect you to take it from my replacement and give it to a rebel. Who's chief huntsman now?
I did award it unto thy sister.
Captain: [genuine cheerfulness]
Well, that's good -- keeping it in the family, what? At least the job's in competent hands.
I'll not have thee hanging about the place like wasp to fallen fruit, seeking for undeserved bounty.
I beg your pardon, my lord?
Nay, is't not the very trouble, that thou dost not? --I mean thou shalt have no welcome within my doors, nor admittance within my gates, nor any admit thee within the walls of mine own house. Thou hast chosen thine own way in the world: do thou make it, then.
[this sinks in]
And what of my kin?
Do they choose to see thee, let arrangements be made -- but not upon the lands of my holding, nor upon the hours of their employ; an they'll the hours of their idleness squander on thy ingratitude, let them do so elsewise and in other venue.
What wouldst thou say, sir?
[the Captain is clearly hurt and troubled by this proclamation]
That you are within your power, and have every lawful right to bar whomsoever you wish from your property.
Finarfin: [baiting him]
Thou dost not say I am unjust, then, else cruel?
Freedom answers all complaints, my lord.
[before this can escalate further the Steward comes over in a preemptory way and addresses his colleague equally abruptly]
Go attend upon our sovereign lord: he shall have question and request for you. --At once.
[the Captain snaps to attention and bows before leaving with the same alacrity; the Steward gives Finarfin a cool half-bow, as between near-equals, and turns to go without speaking -- but Finarfin calls him back.]
I encountered thy father at court not long since.
Steward: [politely formal]
[pause -- when it is apparent Finarfin is not going to be more forthcoming:]
--And how fares Lord Enedir?
Uncertain as to whom he should most direct his wrath -- thyself, myself, or mine eldest son.
This is nothing new, we often speak of our children who have lost them.
Is there any message, that thou'dst have me bear unto thy parents?
I should not wish to put any burden upon my lord's father.
Young sir, were I not willing, I should not have asked. --What message wouldst thou give them?
Then, if you will, -- convey to my family my condolences upon their loss.
Art mad, or dost thou jest?
Neither, sir, or so I do believe.
Condolences? What reply, thinkst thou, thy father'll make to that?
I will not speak untruth. My heraldic office forbids it, even if my conscience were not sufficiently strong, to say there's aught that I regret, or would do other, when it is not so -- and yet to say as much were a far crueller thing, I think, than nothing at all. Moreover -- would not any conciliatory phrase be manifestly not of my making? At least they'll have no doubt this comes of me.
--Indeed. --Who else should answer with such insolence in such courteous form?
It is not insolence -- though no doubt they'll see it so as well.
And I must bear the brunt of it.
If you will recollect, my lord, that follows but upon your insistence. I wished no such trouble -- for you -- or them.
And sparest not to mind me of't.
Not oft -- I shall say it but this once, in fairness.
To whom? Thyself or myself?
Why, to whom does justice belong, my lord?
Finarfin: [dry chuckle]
--Thy wits, perhaps, --but not thy wit. As edged as ever, I do perceive.
The extremes of ice and fire set a keen temper.
Finarfin: [as one stating a fact]
Thou hast not forgiven Araman.
Steward: [deliberate emphasis]
Said I so, my lord?
Dost deny thou dost accept me not as king?
Are we in Tirion?
[looks around exaggeratedly]
We are not. Till then -- I have a lord already.
Thou kennst he doth lay claim to no such title now?
We allow him to maintain that fiction, the more so since all know full well it is just that.
Finarfin: [startled again]
Thou dost allow--?!
[Finrod comes up to them, and with a polite but brief nod to his father sets a hand on the Steward's shoulder.]
--Edrahil. Would you be so good as to see if my gentle kinsfolk are done with their chess-game yet? Do not let my uncle draw you into another round.
Of course, your Majesty.
[bows to Finarfin]
I rest my case, my lord. [he goes away into the shadows. Finarfin gives his son the raised eyebrow]
A rescue seemed in order. Again.
And of whom, pray?
Whichever most needed it. --One ought not begin an endeavor which one has not the will to finish.
Aye . . . As, for example, --to wed.
Finrod: [folding his arms]
So. --Why have you come here? I assure you I have not nor shall not change my mind, and this cannot do either of us any good.
And art thou the heavens' center, that all must turn about thee? It is not on thy behalf that I am come.
Finrod: [bowing his head slightly]
Finarfin: [shaking his head]
Such presumption sovereignty hath bred in thee, since thou didst wrest from me full half our House and alliegiance thereof. And yet . . . it seemeth that hence all kings must come at last.
Here I am but one among many bound here by our folly. My time as lord beneath the Sun is ended with my days in Middle-earth, and never shall I reign again, for good or evil. --You need not fear that I shall usurp your authority again.
[Finarfin looks away, tight-lipped, as though trying to bite back some really caustic retort. Shrewdly:]
--If you've hope of getting some affirmation from Grandfather, I'm afraid you've come in vain. He will neither see nor speak with any of us. Not even your brothers.
[Finarfin stares at him -- this has hit home in turn. Before he can recover, another pair of newcomers enters: the Assistant of the divine Smith we met previously, and a woman whose dark, plain and practical clothes contrast strikingly with her flaming hair. (Zoe Caldwell, Medea, might represent her.) Her posture expresses extreme unease and apprehension, and she looks around without any pretense of being unimpressed, pulling her cloak around her as if chilled. Aule's Assistant bows to her and vanishes, which does not seem to surprise her in the least.]
Nerdanel: [to Finarfin]
[she crosses quickly and embraces him, with a quick kiss on either cheek, and they clasp hands tightly, letting go with reluctance like worried relatives in a hospital ward.]
Thy mother is much troubled over all this ado, I confess.
Finarfin: [smiling despite the stress]
Didst assure her, then, by thy coming, to give me wisest counsels?
Nerdanel: [managing a brief smile]
[she gives a very brief, anxious glance towards Finrod -- it's clear from her manner that she would rather pretend that he is not there, if he'd be civilized enough to allow it]
She tasked me to restrain thy more impetuous urges, and thee to give me heart.
[Finarfin pats her arm in gesture of reassurance]
Finrod: [bowing very politely]
--'Twould be indiscreet, so I am given to know, to enquire of thee the news I'd have most willingly.
Finrod: [without resentment]
When last I saw them, or had news of them, their stars were in the ascendant, or at the least maintaining above the tide of War.
All of them, sayest thou?
All that I have seen.
I have not yet seen any of them here. --Though that does not mean as much as it might: I haven't seen their father, either, though some few others have of your former household.
Thou seest too much. --E'en as thou dost deny it.
I am truly sorry to have no better comfort to offer.
Thou dost speak as comfort might be given, that's no more to be had, saving the past be undone. --Nor shall that be. Shatter the alabaster, then mend it as thou canst -- still it doth remain cracked and withal flawed for ever and aye.
Then one might do better to carve another, and make the work over anew.
And that new-fashioned one is not the first, nor shalt ever be the same.
It might be better.
Thou and thy mad follies. Is't not enough to leave Valinor atilt with thy departing, that must unbalance more upon thy coming home? Must shake Taniquetil with this heresy of thine, and set all Valmar's tongues to ringing e'en as their bells, as the clamor on the hill of Tun' doth blow stormwise through the White Tree's leaves, for the tale of thy mortal Doom?
[Finrod looks both intensely embarrassed and unshakably stubborn]
Of course I could be wrong.
[this sounds like formal politeness]
Well, thou'lt learn the truth of't for thyself in little while, shalt thou not? When thou hast thy flesh again, must tell us all, of whether this second sculpting be equal to the first.
[nonplused, he can think of nothing to say to that -- while he is still silenced Finarfin rallies]
When shalt rejoin us, son? Thy mother cannot fathom wherefore thou dost abide here, when thy rooms stand empty in Tirion for thy reclaiming.
That's up to Amarie, Father. There's no way I can avoid running into her -- or friends of hers -- Outside and out-of-doors, and I'm not going to come home and skulk around the house. You've already got enough problems as it is, without the neighbors deluging you with sympathy for another insane relative.
Mad or otherwise, we would yet have thee to home again.
Would you please tell Mother for me--
Finarfin: [cutting him off]
Thy mother shalt yet hear no apology of thine, save thou dost give it her thyself, and in the flesh.
You know, I'm not the only one in the family who can "outstubborn stubborn."
Indeed, far other -- I find it most amusing, that Earwen doth aver it cometh of my parentage, this obduracy and headstrong will of our offspring.
Finrod: [same offhand, and patently-false, tone]
Oh, I've met Mother's relatives overseas. We haven't an inch of vantage on them.
So I am adviséd. Thou didst ask wherefore I am come hither. 'Tis thus: Lord Namo has requested that I might lend my authority as chief of our folk to convince the daughter of her uncle Elwe -- with whom I believe thou art in some small wise acquainted -- to see reason and to release withal her Secondborn spouse -- whose acquaintance I believe thou also hast -- from his mortal toils within this world, speaking haply more in tune with her own mind and nature that are akin to our own, than the great Powers, that are stranger to her -- and that have eke known both the joys of Aman, and--
[nodding sympathetically to Nerdanel]
--the sorrows of wedlock and husband's love that cools upon longsome time.
[Aule's Assistant manifests again and joins them, ignoring Finrod completely]
Aule's Assistant: [very deferential to the King of the Noldor and Mahtan's daughter]
--Gentles, if you'd please to come . . .
Finrod: [raising an eyebrow]
So they expect that you and Aunt 'Danel will be able to talk Luthien into staying here alone in Aman.
Indeed. --I cannot begin to fathom why.
[with this parting shot he follows the waiting messenger and his sister-in-law, as Finrod winces again.]
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.