2. Act IV, Scene I.i
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
BELOVED FOOL: BEYOND THE WESTERN SEA
This finale is dedicated with much gratitude to the authors
The Homecoming of Beortnoth
A Winter's Tale
(with special thanks to Lucian of Samasota
and T. S. Eliot
for concrete inspiration)
Valhalla is not mine, either.
The hour nighs, of this our task
its ending -- and of ye we ask
but thy patience, lending, till 'tis done --
--Then to say, if we have won
or, overbold, must make redress
that have so forwardly transgressed
and in this glassy square presumed
to bound, as 'twere the Ring of Doom,
the very gods--
--With eagles' wing
outmatching falcons royal, venturing
our fancy's flight doth mount on high
to pass the bord'ring sea, and sky,
and withal Time -- for naught of wealth
nor fame, nor glory, nor by stealth,
nor war to grasp at deathlessness,
seeking but mercy's sweet largesse
we dare the holy shores of Westernesse--
[Note: There are two settings -- this Hall, and elsewhere. Most of the action takes place here.]
[A cozy family room in Aman, even if it is rather vast and all carved stone with tall ceilings, decorated in soothing shades of grey with discreet silver-white concealed lighting. There is a fountain at one side which is of the kind that is a sheet of water running down a shallow wide channel in the wall, almost invisible and inaudible, to silently fill a wide, shallow, rectangular basin the border of which is almost flush level with the floor.
[Most of another wall is taken up by an enormous structure that somewhat resembles a harness loom, and somewhat resembles a system of barrel vaulting, and mostly resembles something built out of raw cosmic energy, and betrays a long history of tinkering and loving use. At the moment its main central section is alive with an expanse of shimmering light. A majority of the Powers are seated around it watching in rapt attention.]
[Tulkas (who might be played by Massimo Serato from El Cid and sundry Italian swashbucklers and sword-&-sandal epics) leaps to his feet]
NO!!! IT CAN'T END THIS WAY!!! THAT'S JUST WRONG!!! THAT'S NOT HOW THE STORY'S SUPPOSED TO END!!!
[The rest of the Powers wince at the volume of his outrage. Across from him Orome is watching with a sardonically critical expression, his arms folded, leaning slouched way back in his chair. Lawrence Olivier from Hamlet (or possibly equally Kirk Douglas from Spartacus) might stand in for the Lord of the Wild Hunt]
Orome: [bitingly sarcastic patience]
That's because it's reality, not a story, Tulkas. Stories can end happily, because they're not true. In real life, there's no Power capable of preventing people from making idiotic choices and suffering the consequences.
[from the chair next to him, his wife, the Lady of Spring -- who could be depicted by Claudette Colbert in Cleopatra -- reaches up and pats his cheek.]
Don't be obnoxious, Tav' darling. --Nia dear, why do you make us watch these depressing stories? All of your favorites turn out this way.
[to the left of Tulkas, the Lord of Dreams, Visions and Inspirations, (aka Irmo, aka Lorien,) sighs deeply and rests his chin on his hands. Leslie Howard (The Scarlet Pimpernel, Gone With The Wind) could play the part]
I tried. I did try. I shan't attempt to conceal the fact that I don't care for her father at all, but I did my best, for her mother's sake, -- and for hers, too -- she really is a sweet child, and not in any way to be blamed for that confounded miscreant's actions--
[On his left the Lord of the Earth shakes his head, grimacing. He is leaning back, but not as much in the sullen critic mode as in the thoughtful critic pose, his legs crossed and one elbow resting on the arm of his faldstool, ready to lecture. He is played, of course, by James Mason from 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea]
You couldn't have done anything, he was Doomed from the start. Look at how he threw away every opportunity he had for survival. If someone tries that hard to destroy themselves, the most that anyone else can do is -- get out of the way and look for cover.
[on the floor, sitting in front of the chairs with her knees drawn up and her arms wrapped around them like a child, Nienna (who really should be played by Merle Oberon, also of Scarlet Pimpernel renown) looks up at Yavanna, who is seated rigidly on the other side of her little sister Vana; the Earthqueen could be well-portrayed by Sophia Loren from El Cid.]
Are you going to be all right?
Yavanna: [biting off the syllable]
[At equal distances from the Loom and the fountain is a nook with a sconce, two chairs, and a small breakfast table. This is occupied by Namo, Vaire, a pair of teacups and a dark, glossy sphere. The Lord and Lady of the Halls should be portrayed respectively by Gregory Peck (To Kill A Mockingbird, Captain Horatio Hornblower) and Virginia McKenna BThe Cruel Sea, Waterloo).]
I don't mind your sister inviting everyone over to watch the Loom, but really, she could have chosen better timing. But I don't like to say anything because she does so much to help.
Namo: [sets down his teacup and takes her hand in his]
No, it's fine. I just wish they wouldn't be so loud. I come here to get away from people shouting at me. --Of course, they're not shouting at me, to be fair about it.
[he lets go of her hand and picks up his cup again -- over it, in a very dry tone:]
[she gives him a wry smile, which turns to a grimace at the next high-volume exchange:]
Orome: [raising his voice and dropping the bored facade for a moment]
Yes, it WAS his fault. He didn't give her a chance to use her powers again, he just flung himself in the way without even the preliminaries of thought crossing his brain.
Tulkas: [to Vana]
--You'd better hope you're never in danger when he's around. Sounds like he'd let you fend for yourself if a rampaging demon comes along!
My valiant friend, I realize that your generous and sympathetic nature prompts you to defend all instances of courage and loyalty, but not every self-sacrifice is equally meritorious. When it is unnecessary, as in the situation under debate, it is simply at best a mistake and at worst histrionics. --I'm still not entirely sure about the next occasion, myself: I'd need to review it before reaching a decision.
I really don't think she could have done anything further at that point. Binding all the denizens of Thangorodrim within the immediate vicinity, not to mention resisting and overcoming the Powerful One in combat, would be a severe drain upon even my own abilities--
Tulkas: [all innocence]
--You mean to say you can take Morgoth out, and you haven't done it yet? What's wrong with you!?
Yavanna: [standing up so suddenly that her chair goes over backwards with a crash]
Oh, you're all horrible. Horrible, HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE!!!
[Everyone looks up at her, and is very quiet]
Aule: [after a moment]
Where are you going?
Yavanna: [very tight control]
Out. For a walk. Someplace where I can break things without hurting anyone--!
[she strides off into the distant shadows and there is a resounding crash as of someone flinging a very heavy door violently open so that it rebounds off the wall, with breakages. A moment of utter silence follows.]
Ah. I forgot.
Oh, that's right -- he's one of hers.
Vana: [rolling her eyes]
Well, of course! Whose else would he be?
[silence. Everyone looks at Orome]
Yes, but I am more rational about these things.
Tulkas: [to Aule]
Go after her and tell her you're sorry, you dolt!
Aule: [shaking his head]
That would be a very bad idea right now.
[this builds up into a double argument, as the focus moves back to the tea table]
I didn't recall there being a door over there.
[pause -- they look at each other, and say together:]
--"it wasn't a supporting wall--"
Did you ever get an explanation of all that?
An explanation? Yes. --One that made sense? I'm afraid the answer is no.
You weren't being mocked, dear?
No, not at all -- it was offered quite sincerely. I just don't believe it's possible, but I'm not sure what the real alternative would look like.
[Her husband shakes his head, snorting]
I made the mistake of asking one of them to show me how it was done, and I forgot it was the one who doesn't want to be noticed, so I had to pretend that I didn't realize it, or how nervous he was. --It really is disproportionate, isn't it? By comparison, I mean. You wouldn't think, considering who else is here, the amount of trouble so few could cause . . .
I'm afraid I lost my temper rather the last time someone started in about the usual, "Why are they permitted to carry? Why is no one else allowed a retinue?" and was very cross about it -- I actually said, in far too short a tone, "Because we're capricious and we enjoy playing favorites, that's why." Now I'm rather afraid it won't be recognized as sarcasm. What I should have said--
[another rueful smile]
--was, "It's an experiment of my sister-in-law's; she's trying to see how many idiotic questions it will take to completely destroy all vestiges of my patience."
[After a moment Namo lifts his eyebrows and gives a short chuckle, before patting her hand.]
Who knows? It might even be true.
No, I . . . I think she'd mention it, if she were doing anything of the sort.
[from the other side of the room]
But look, you've got to take into account all the things going against him--
[the Lord and Lady of the Halls share another wince as the camera shifts back to the raging debate by the Loom]
On the one hand you've got the rebels giving up defending his homeland, so does he give up? No, he keeps on trying even though there's nothing in it for him any more -- and does a smashing job of it, too, I want to make known. And you know I'm hard to impress when it comes to fighting--
--Easily impressed when it comes to pretty much everything else, though.
--On the other hand you've got him making a decent go of it with no help, and no resources whatsoever -- and sticking to his ideals, too, all the way up to when they were betrayed. None of this, "Oh, we're the great Lords of the West, here to save you, so give us dinner and why don't you bake us a cake while you're at it," Returning nonsense.
You're exaggerating grossly again--
Tulkas: [ignoring him]
And on the other hand, he's just a Man. Not even an Elf! And look what he did!
What other hand?
You'd think we could have managed to give him a little more help, couldn't we? Couldn't we? Like something useful, like messages -- and messengers -- that get there in time--
-- not that I'm saying it wasn't kind of you to help his friend find him, but it's not like it actually made any difference, eh? Or how about something specific, like Don't Go On That Hunt, Dummy, -- instead of more nightmares about overfed rogue Ainur?
[as if remembering something unpleasant, Aule shakes his head and snaps his fingers]
I told you, don't blame me -- it's hard enough without the Trees, but there's nothing I can do with people who simply refuse to sleep. If they won't rest long enough for me to reach them, or keep creating so many images of doom on their own that they can't tell them apart -- I can't give them any guidance.
So basically, what you're saying is, you can only help people who don't really need it.
That isn't fair--
[An elegant, confident individual, perhaps played by Sir Alec Guiness from Kind Hearts and Coronets, appears discreetly beside Aule's chair and gives him a graceful bow]
Yes, my lord?
Would you go and make sure all the storm-doors and shutters are closed around the place? I don't want the firepits getting flooded out again this time.
Of course, sir. --Ah, are you anticipating a recurrence of last year's gales this season, or is it merely precautionary, milord?
Anticipating. Very definitely anticipating.
If I may make so bold, my lord, the Lady's temper can be quite trying at times.
Aule: [shaking his head with a gloomy look]
Eh. It's partly my fault again. --I just hate it when she gets together and commiserates with Uinen. They encourage each other in this pointless emotionalism, and the electrical storms and the flooding make it so blasted difficult to get anything done. --Do you know what that project is they're working on together?
Something about salt. That's all the information I have, sir -- she asked me for information about materials that would combine well with salt.
--Oh, that's right. They're studying "toxicity levels and self-sustaining filtration systems in marginal areas," as I recall. I should ask her how that's coming along. That would be a nice thing to do.
A noble and conciliating gesture, sir.
--Have you seen my wife's
secretary around anywhere?
[his aide gives a derisive laugh]
He's probably off watching frogs turn into tadpoles or talking to potato-beetles or something like that.
Isn't it the other way 'round?
[shaking his head]
I don't remember. Anyway -- tell him to tell her I'm sorry, all right?
Very good, sir.
And don't forget the skylights!
Of course not, my lord.
[he vanishes as quietly as he came]
Tulkas: [loudly offended]
Yeah? Well, -- none of my champions have gone over to the other side!
Orome: [ice -- not quiet, either]
Celegorm Feanorion has NOT been my responsibility since the Rebellion.
Good try, but you can't wiggle out that easy. If you'd done your job right he wouldn't have rebelled now would he? Huh? Got a snappy comeback for that one?
Orome: [shaking his head]
What my sister sees in you I will never know.
That's pretty good, actually. --I need a drink to clear my mind.
You always need a drink, if that's the case.
Irmo: [raising his voice]
--Can we please at least endeavor to keep this discussion both civil and to the point?
I do hope you didn't mean that as a serious question, Irmo.
[Back at the tea table, the Weaver rests her forehead on her hand, laughing in spite of herself, and in dismay]
Are you sure you don't want me to stay here and you go on the floor? Though it won't be any quieter, I'm afraid. I do wish it weren't against the Rules to manifest corporeally in several places at the same time. I wonder how one would go about doing so . . .?
It -- seems like the sort of thing that would be very inadvisable. Which is very likely why there's a Rule about it.
[frowns still more]
--Which you would your mind be in? Wouldn't the rest just be puppets then? Or would you divide your concentration among all of you? I'm not sure either.
And a divided concentration is just the problem. So do you want me to stay by the stone while you take my shift?
[Her husband shakes his head]
No, I really don't have the patience for any more complaints right now.
Did I tell you about my last conversation with that fellow, the one who's always going on and on -- inaccurately -- about being the First Casualty in Beleriand?
No, I don't believe you did.
We talked -- and talked, and talked, and he agreed with complete sincerity that yes, murder was a terrible thing, and yes, there is a moral responsibility as well for actions which, though not directly causing the deaths of specific individuals, nevertheless are both freely chosen and known in advance to be likely to cause casualties -- such as, for example, shooting fire-arrows into adjacent buildings to distract the defenders from their efforts, regardless of the fact that people are almost certain to be in those buildings, and not necessarily able to get out of them in time. And we talked about how Morgoth regards people as chattel in a similar way, and how persons are not things to be used and/or discarded for one's own purposes, and about the irony of performing such actions in a reaction against the behaviour of the Enemy.
And after all that, he said to me, "But they deserved it."
[the Weaver sighs, and raises her eyebrows with a wry expression]
That does sound familiar, doesn't it?
You know, it's one thing to know intellectually that this is going to go on -- and on -- and on, for the foreseeable future, and -- quite another to experience it day after day after endless day.
[his wife smiles sadly at him and gives his hand one last squeeze before getting up and leaving the table. The crystal ball on the table begins to glow.]
Oh good, someone's checking in. Perhaps they've got him.
[He sets down his tea and pulls the palantir over to him eagerly. Vaire walks across to the Loom, weaving on mostly unobserved by the debaters]
Is anyone still watching this?
[nobody except her sister-in-law even notices her question]
Please leave it open, would you?
Not a problem, just fold it up when you're done.
[she leaves, stopping to patch up the irregular hole in the wall -- which looks rather like what happens when a tree grows through a slab, only fast enough that the edges are still sharp and not eroded away -- with a wave of her hand, on her way to the tall pointed arch that is the actual door.]
Well, I thought he was rather cute, even if he was rather stupid --
[to her husband]
--rather like one of the puppies, hm?
My dear, puppies usually don't manage to leave scores of casualties behind them as a consequence of their mistakes.
[she gives him a little swat and makes a face at him]
CONSEQUENCES?!? If you're going to talk about consequences, what about the consequences of us not catching Morgoth? Huh? Huh? Before you start throwing big words like "consequences" around, what about the consequences of not providing adequate inspiration? In the Song, do I have to do it ALL myself to get anything done RIGHT?
[the Lord of the Halls winces and puts a hand to his temple]
I'm sorry, I didn't hear you. What was that again?
Irmo: [raising his voice too]
I'm getting tired of hearing you talk about something you don't and can't possibly understand--
A dog? What do you mean, a dog? Kelvar don't belong here, they don't need to come here, they can just start right over again -- you know that! Tell it to go home. --I don't care what size it is, it still doesn't belong here. Unless it's that rogue in disguise. Of course I'm joking. No, we haven't got him yet. --Yes, that's why I'm in a bad mood. --Just take care of it, will you?
[he leans back, closing his eyes and shaking his head]
Aule: [cool voice of reason -- and sarcasm]
Thank you for letting us know how you feel about it, Lord Astaldo. --Getting back to my earlier point -- I don't believe you can legitimately give someone credit for what they can't help. If the deed's done under any kind of a compulsion, it's invalidated to some extent. Obviously there's a compulsion operating here to fling one's self between other individuals -- regardless of longevity or depth of personal attachment -- and danger. If one cannot prevent one's self from getting in harm's way, the correct response -- and again, I'm going on logic here -- isn't admiration, but rather pity.
Oh, come on! He practically slaps Morgoth upside the head, and you can't even manage a "Good job, what!"
Well, he did hit Morgoth in the head, only it wasn't exactly on purpose . . .
Hey, Aule -- what's that you always say about using the right tools for the job?
Yeah? Well let me tell you, your fancy tools wouldn't help either of you very much out in the Void! You should try it sometime, fighting like real gods with nothing but your bare power--
--Speaking of which, don't you get chilly running around in just a skirt?
It's not a skirt, it's a kilt, you dimwit! How many times have I told you that?
[Vana giggles and hides it by snuggling against Orome's shoulder]
Irmo: [sternly and loudly]
These insults are utterly pointless! Can we have some intellectual discussion, please?!
Namo: [shouting louder than any of them]
Irmo! Nienna! Everybody!
[when he has their attention -- normal tone:]
Would you all please either stop acting like Eldar or go someplace else and argue? If you can't keep your voices down I'm going to have to ask you to take it to the Mahanaxar. You're not even watching the Loom any more.
[there are guilty looks among his colleagues and kin -- considering glances are exchanged. Consensus -- No, they can't keep it down. They start getting up to leave]
Vana: [rolling her eyes]
"Acting like Eldar," indeed! --Honestly--
[they vanish, leaving the chairs behind]
Namo: [muttering to self]
I suppose there's a certain logic to it, but I hate it when catastrophes happen in cascades like this. They seem to bring on unrelated incidents, as though chaos has come back into fashion all of the sudden.
[he gets up and starts pacing up and down restlessly, obviously not happy at not being able to do anything -- then notices Nienna still curled up in front of the Loom]
Nia, I could really use a little help right now. We have a crisis situation going on, the trauma department is overwhelmed with new arrivals, there's a discorporate rogue Ainu out there it looks like I'm going to have to track down personally, now I hear some kind of bizarre bureaucratic foul-up is giving my security people fits -- and you're watching the news.
Nienna: [patient annoying-sibling mode]
-- Don't worry, I'm on it, I've got the situation in hand.
Namo: [flings up his hands and walks back to his chair]
Fine. I give up. It's not as though anyone ever listens until it's too late.
[sinking down with a sigh]
What next . . . ?