19. Scene III.viii
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
BELOVED FOOL: BEYOND THE WESTERN SEA
[Finrod goes back to his seat, picks up the harp, looks at it, smiles ironically and sets it down again, shaking his head. Despite his apparent nonchalance he's quite aware that everyone is watching to see what he will do, all along; what he does is beckon the Captain over to him, not urgently, but with a resolute air.]
I've been waiting for things to happen, and now they are, and happening too fast and variously for me to manage singly. I can't wait for my uncle to make up his mind about acting, and I need good intelligence to make intelligent decisions.
Of course. We don't want any more of the sort of systemic failures and oversights that helped land us here happening again.
[Finrod gives him a Look]
--Why, Sire, surely if
you can blame yourself for circumstances far past your control, you'll not begrudge me the same?
Finrod: [deep sigh]
Consider the point taken. What we need is inside access to the debates, from someone who's well-disposed to Beren, or at the least not hostile to us, and keen-witted enough to be able to sort out the meat from the shells, so to speak. Can you crack me this nut, then?
Ah, this must be Edrahil's request.
[Finrod gives him another Look]
He said you'd have both a question and a request for me when he saved me from your dad's incipient harangue, and you already asked me what in the name of the Void was going on, then.
There's one individual that springs to mind immediately. I mean, it would be a little inappropriate to appeal to my Lady -- yet. --But. And then again -- but. It's that competitiveness that's going to be trouble.
[he raises an eyebrow -- Finrod nods.]
Yes. That's what I was thinking. The trouble is, I can't afford the traditional methods -- they take too long, for one -- and besides, those usually don't give the best results. I need full, free and proactive cooperation, not devious answers begrudgingly given, even if it's just for the joy of it and not real malice. I don't want to be worrying about whether I've phrased one wrong and wasted it, so that I hardly dare use the other two until it's too late.
So. No riddles, no boardgames.
[he frowns thoughtfully]
Got it. I think I can manage this without actually having to fight His Majesty. And if not -- at least he doesn't have it in for me.
Do I want to hear about this plan of yours?
Probably not, Sir.
--Ought I regardless?
I don't think you need to.
Good. Take as many people as you require.
Oh, I think my backup's already there.
Of course. --Try to pry him loose from that damnéd game of my uncle's when you're finished.
I don't know if I can promise that, Sire. Getting between chess sots and their board is--
--See if you can inveigle my cousin into taking his place. Tell her you'll thrash her husband for her or something. --You did not hear me say that, by the by.
Hear what, my lord?
I should never have introduced either version of it to Eithel Sirion.
If not you, someone else should have soon enough.
[departing, over his shoulder:]
You know she'd rather do it herself, though. --Actually, that gives me a better idea.
I await your results with equal parts eagerness and trepidation. Good luck.
[as the Captain leaves Finrod whistles loudly and Huan comes to him, followed by a curious Beren.]
Stay and look after Beren until I return. If there's any trouble of any sort, please come and fetch me immediately.
Sir, should you really be going off by yourself? I heard about all that, and I think they're right to be worried. How your wearing this--
[reaches up and flicks at Finrod's hair and collar]
-- is as in-your-face as you can get to the Kinslayers without actually calling them that, and how they're fed up with you six ways from Couplesday already.
Didn't they tell you about the latest attempt, then?
I know, but you can't do that with the walls -- or the floor -- any more because you promised, right? And even if they don't know that yet it'll be obvious when you don't.
They put you up to this, didn't they?
No, I just kept adding things up. Two and two and two is six, after all, Sir.
Surely you wouldn't be addressing me so formally still, if I were one of your mortal kinsmen.
You're changing the subject, Sir, and yes I would, if you were one of my senior cousins on Ma's side visiting which is how I can almost make it work by pretending, and I did call them "Sir" and "Ma'am," and if one of them was going to do something dumb like go hiking in an area they didn't know very well by themselves without a guide I did tell them that even if I was just a kid.
I did it politely, like I did at first, though, I didn't tell them it was dumb -- but if that didn't work I would go ask Ma or Uncle Brego for help if they didn't listen on account of me being a kid.
[Finrod just looks at him]
Only there's no one I can go to at this point since you don't listen to them and I don't know your uncle and somehow I don't think you'd listen to him anyway. Or you'd listen but then you'd do it anyway. If I was really unscrupulous I would say something like how if you get beat up by a squad of bandits you won't be helping me and it will make it harder for you to do that, but that would be unfair.
[Finrod sighs, looks away, and then tries very hard to persuade Beren he's overreacting]
Beren, please try to understand. Throughout the entirety of the Return I was obliged to be responsible and level-headed and mediate between all my hot-tempered, justly-or-unjustly-outraged, easily-offended kin and compatriots, and every other free People in Beleriand as well. That gets tiresome after almost half-a-millenium, you know. And I don't have to do it any more. I'm not the King of Nargothrond now.
I can see why you'd want to take risks and have some fun after being serious and in charge all that while, but if you won't consider us -- how we feel worrying about you and not being able to do anything to protect you -- then I will have to guilt you about it.
I don't need to move the walls, though -- the Powers don't bother preventing us from administering lessons in civility and prudence to each other, and I assure you I am quite as much the equal of any here with sword or lance as I am with any form of power.
[he gestures, for an instant brandishing a dangerous-looking blade, before letting it vanish]
And there's still just one of you. At least take Huan.
[Finrod looks around, then leans closer and says very quietly]
Beren, I don't need to move the walls to deal with them. I could make them think they were trapped behind walls, if I chose. I could make them believe far worse. If they truly threaten me, they will wish they had turned back at Araman, if not for remorse then for the sake of fear, since the end result is that they're here in my company.
You'll get in trouble.
Very likely. It won't matter because they'd never dare risk my anger again.
Do you believe me?
They said that people can't lie here -- that what you think is what you say here.
I can't lie to you anyway. --Only deceive you with silence.
Sir -- everyone has their secrets. And yeah, that was not a good one to keep from me, and I think you know that now, so I don't see that you need to bring it up every other minute any more.
Beren: [not giving ground]
--"Sharp as salt," isn't that how the saying goes? Such a diet I get of it from my counsellors -- not even you will give me honeyed words. I am blessed far beyond my deserts to be so served!
I will be careful, and avoid trouble. I promise.
[he starts to leave again -- Beren calls after him:]
What'll you do to them, if they're not?
You don't want to know.
Finrod: [edged smile]
You know me better than that.
[he runs a hand through his braids]
I do wear this guise as a reminder that I haven't forgotten Alqualonde. I will forgive them -- when they repent. Until then -- let them be wary, or else find themselves sorry regardless.
Are you regretting your claiming of kinship as rashness yet?
I know about avenging family -- and guilt.
[he closes the distance between them]
Finrod: [blurting it out]
Please don't kneel to me again--
Wasn't going to.
[he grabs Finrod's arm and pulls him to lean down]
Be careful, Ingold.
[with that he slaps him firmly on the shoulder and strolls back to Huan, while Finrod struggles to stop grinning as he leaves]
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