26. Scene IV.v
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
BELOVED FOOL: BEYOND THE WESTERN SEA
[Elsewhere: the council chamber]
[things have settled back into the everyone-talks-at-once, usually with energetic gestures, and nobody listens, mode. Somehow Aule's Apprentice has inserted himself into the discussion, by means of an empty chair and assuming that he must have something to contribute, most likely. Overlapping:]
Even if nothing had transpired to interfere, you wouldn't have had more than a half-yen at the most--
I think that you're simply wrong, dear, in your opinion that his commitment is equal to yours--
Luthien: [interrupting, to Irmo]
--But if you consider how many years many couples spend not seeing each other, then fifty or sixty years all together can come out the same almost--
Thy words cut deeper than any chisel--
Namo: [quietly to his wife]
Excuse me, I need to check on things.
Vaire: [nodding -- to Luthien:]
But he did leave you repeatedly--
Not because he wanted to.
Assistant: [with a slight emphasis on her title, not enough to come across as rude]
Your Highness -- no one forced him to part from you, by means of capture or other duress. I'm afraid that the fact of Lady Vaire's assertion is not open to denial
Yet, sir, nor mayest thou deny, that to go from another for fear of that one's further safekeeping, is far other than to go from one for love of another, or others, or for seeking after property, or vengeance, or to make such departure, and compel choice of same upon another, in manner of test, that one does truly love -- all these be most greatly differing from the former?
And yet this Man too did in fact leave her for the same piece of property, and revenge--
Ambassador: [reluctant both to contradict a Power, and to defend Beren]
But, my Lord, there might indeed be said to be compulsion, in the choice my King set upon him--
[the Apprentice comes in, answering Namo's summons, and looking extremely harried as he goes over to the Lord of the Hall's bench]
All right, what's going on now?
[he looks rather panic-stricken]
The rogue? Remember? That's one of the four things you're supposed to be doing -- waiting for security to check in, taking complaints, forestalling trouble and running errands as needed. How come you're so distracted all the time?
It -- isn't all the time, my Lord: by my calculations it's only fifty-seven percent of the time--
[at Namo's Look]
Yes? --Ah, no -- I mean, nothing is going on, the rogue hasn't been seen again yet, and I did put a stop to the rioting in the halls. That is to say--
[he fumbles around, the Lord of the Halls covers his eyes, and the Weaver is sympathetic in turn:]
Don't worry, dear, we understand. Just do the best that you can -- I don't expect the impossible of you.
Aule's Assistant: [undertone]
And a good thing too!
[the Apprentice looks even more abashed and defensive]
Who was it this time?
Fingolfin's daughter and her recusant husband. At least to start with--
Vaire: [shaking her head]
Whatever possessed that boy to introduce such an appalling pastime? And of all the people to think of it! And he isn't even embarrassed about it.
Namo: [lacing her fingers in his own consolingly]
You must admit, though, they get it over with a lot faster now that he devised swords. At least we don't get the shouting matches that go on until they run out of insults. I think the shortest one went on for a fortnight nonstop.
[they share one of those rueful smiles typical of those who share a longtime work/life experience, like ships' crew, or parents. To the Apprentice:]
Just -- what's that expression
you like to use? -- "keep bringing out the fires," or however it goes.
"Putting out," -- it comes from summertimes in droughty regions, or an alternate possibility is that it derives from the buildup of internal heat in mulch heaps, but in either case it comes from agrarian societies lacking the ability to reliably control the weather, or so Finrod informs me. Ah -- sorry, my Lady, I don't expect you're interested in that.
Namo: [apparently completely serious -- surely not with any wicked amusement?]
Look at it this way -- you may be obliged to spend time with the involuntarily discorporate, but at least you're picking up cultural contexts for your trivia that you couldn't easily get out of the Archives.
What's wrong with being dead?
[he gives her a nervous look and laugh]
I'm serious! Why does he say it like you think it's punishment?
Ah -- please --
[he looks over at the Lord of the Halls, who just raises his eyebrows back at him -- no help there.]
I -- please don't get angry, Princess Luthien, it's -- just -- not normal, for people to be going about without any bodies on.
Mom always said there were lots of spirits in Valinor who weren't solid and lived in the air.
[her compatriot the Ambassador nods agreement; Irmo covers a slight smile, and the Earthlord's aide is far too bland in his expression to be innocent of amusement at his counterpart's discomfiture.]
Manir and Suruli, she called them. Oh, and some who live in the water, and simply are water, or more like waves in the water. No bodies either -- do you act different around them?
Yes, but they never had them -- they didn't have them to start with and then lose them.
What difference does it make?
It's -- it's just creepy. It's not the way things are supposed to be!
[Luthien gives him a narrow Look]
You seem almost scared. Why? Does it make you think it might happen to you? Or have you been listening to too many spooky stories about people getting killed after seeing a ghost or being led into some danger or being possessed? I bet I can tell you plenty more you've never even heard of, about headless warriors and haunted bridges and the ghosts of bulls on the roof, and I bet I can even make up some more just as good as those, too!
From my studies in the Archives I know that not all of those are fiction, your Highness.
Yes, but more of them are than aren't. Maybe you don't sit up late making up stories in Valinor, but trying to come up with an even better story than the next person is something we all do -- mortals and Elves -- in Beleriand. I can see you know I'm right.
Are you really that afraid of us? Even you Valinoreans?
[she turns to look right at Nerdanel, catching her in a slight flinch]
It seems strange that you'd be haunted without even being haunted, after a manner of speaking!
Nerdanel: [with a wry smile]
Nay -- for in the reality beneath the Moon and Sun, few needs must think upon such matters, when they are not forced upon our recollection. --Or so it is for many, I do believe.
Luthien: [looking back at Nienna's Apprentice]
Why? Have any of us "discorporates" actually done anything to harm you here?
[the Apprentice looks guilty]
Have I done anything to you except "yell at" you? -- which is only what I'd do if I were here in the flesh as well.
Well -- no, your Highness.
So what's the problem, hm? Why are you so troubled by us? You're not really scared, are you? You seem more disgusted and curious at the same time.
[the Lord of the Halls shakes his head]
When you arranged with my sister to take you on, you already knew she spends much of her time here. Did you think she was going to leave you home to sweep out her Halls or something to teach you patience? This is another learning experience. Now either answer Luthien's question, or don't.
[back and forth between Luthien and Vaire]
--Partly. It's also the constant complaining that I have to listen to -- not from you, your Highness -- about how there aren't any bright colors or lights or proper sensations -- though part of that's the decor, begging your pardon, ma'am -- and how dull and boring it is with nothing to do except remember and talk -- at least until your cousin arrived -- though I do agree -- well, think that they have a point, at least -- with the Sindar who say it would be much improved by some potted plants, at least--
If you want plants, you can figure out a way to make them grow in here.
--If you haven't enough to keep you busy, that is.
Apprentice: [getting distracted]
What if we took species that already thrive underground and, oh, sort of changed them to make them look like ones from Outside? I'll bet that--
No! It's hard enough ensuring that fungus doesn't grow in here, given the atmospheric conditions, I won't have you encouraging it on purpose!
Yes, my Lady.
Aule's Assistant: [thoughtful]
What about artificial plants? It seems to me, -- subject of course to your approval, noble ones -- that one might be able to fabricate versions of imperishable materials that would be equal to, or even superior, to the originals in appearance.
[Nienna's student raises his hands]
I don't know that anyone would be pleased by that. It's the absence of growing things, you see. I try to explain that, well, these are the Halls of the Dead, you know.
[the Doriathrin lord gives him an affronted look -- his Princess is less inhibited by reverence]
We are not! We had exactly the same problem in Menegroth, and we solved it in several ways. One's to bring in live plants in vessels, and just keep them in for a little while, and then put them out in the sun again after. Cut greenery also works nicely to embellish a hall seasonally.
But then they dry out, and bits drop off them onto the floor, and have to be cleaned up.
So? Anyway, that's just one thing you can do. What we mostly did, was to make sculptures like he--
[nods towards Aule's aide]
--was talking about. My mother designed a lot of it, and the Dwarven architects built in spaces for the trees and things to go, and some of it was carved out of stone, and then painted, and some of it was enameled metal attached on, and some of it's glass with colors and wire inside to make the leaf-veining. There's all sorts of things one can do.
Myself, I have always favoured the use of stones most aptly colored in themselves, the which possess inherently the fitting sheen, as though nature indeed had intended for the purpose of the work.
But it's very slow, 'Danel. If you can make exactly the hue you need, why not do it? Why waste time hunting about for it?
My thoughts exactly, Sir.
Nerdanel: [obstinate -- an old argument, obviously]
Yet must I aver, my Lord, that never doth the made piece hold full richness, nor true depth nor variety, that stone which hath grown by longsome layering and the free changes of the water, and fire, and weight upon it, shall inevitably compass.
But it's exactly the same process! Only faster, in the workshop. I really do believe that you only think you can tell the difference because you know that one's synthetic.
Well, and of course, they're never exactly the same as real leaves. But they're pretty, and it's fun, in a way, to have something made out of something that it isn't, especially if it's very different. It wouldn't be half as interesting if they were made of wood, even if you could make ones that looked so much like them out of wood, which you can't, because it isn't translucent.
Nor is there translucency in paint!
Luthien: [shaking her head]
You can make it like enamel, in thin layers, and mix mica in with it. Daeron came up with that, to make letters show up on a dark background.
Ambassador: [sadly reminiscent]
--He was so frustrated that people only ever used the ideas for monograms on doors and such.
Or paint over metal leaf and have the shininess show through that way. We put stars on ceilings with that.
I bet you could do that in here. And not as much work as any of the rest of it. [Vaire and the others look up as well, frowning thoughtfully; --maybe, maybe--]
Though it would appear terribly derivative, I fear, as though you were trying to copy Varda's designs for Taniquetil.
But the stars are her designs, so any stars are going to be based on her work. You might as well say that she was being repetitive herself and criticize the inside of the mansion, at that. --I think it would be very attractive, Vaire.
Remind me: how did this turn into a discussion of naturalistic decorating styles?
Very good question.
[he gives the Apprentice a raised eyebrow]
I think I should be getting back to keep an eye on the stone in case anyone tries to report in.
[he makes an unceremonious exit/retreat]
Irmo: [to his brother]
Do you really think Nia has any hope of succeeding there?
Namo: [remanifesting his mug]
If not, she's going to be taking me on next.
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.