32. Scene IV.x
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
BELOVED FOOL: BEYOND THE WESTERN SEA
[Beside the falls, the Apprentice is happily ensconced in the midst of the Ten, scratching Huan's ears and laughing at something someone has just said.]
Shouldn't you be getting back to work? We really aren't trying to make trouble for you, after all, simply to employ your talents.
[he sighs deeply]
It's so much more pleasant to listen to your stories than, well, to be nagged and insulted by everyone else. I really ought to, I suppose…but it isn't as though the complaints are going to cease, after all. If only you could throw -- I shouldn't say that, should I?
Hah. No, you'll not catch me that way.
Fourth Guard: [shrugs]
Depending on whom you're thinking of, we might have already done them one better.
That's right -- they could be looking for you right now to report us, since the Powers are still in the meeting.
But, of course, we can't be sure, since you won't say.
Confound the lot of you! What have you done to those two this time?
Shoulder-sockets, too, looked like.
[Nienna's student sighs, in an almost-convincing display of sober maturity]
What did they do now?
--That is not why they were forcibly removed from the premises. It was the attempted unprovoked assault on him that got reciprocated in advance.
There's something skewed in your reasoning.
Stick around long enough, it'll all make sense.
I'm afraid that's probably true.
[for just a moment he looks daunted, thinking about what he's gotten into]
So, do you have to stay like--
[the Apprentice raises his hand, in a sudden and very authoritative gesture, silencing him]
Do you recollect what I said earlier, when you corrected me as to the negligible difference between perceive and see? --That circumstance will no longer hold true in a moment.
Uh -- oh. --Oh.
[he nods, doesn't say anything else; the disguised Maia gives him an approving nod]
Apprentice: [standing up and squaring his shoulders]
Duty -- or duties -- call. I'm not sure when it will be, but I'll bring you news as soon as there is news.
Unless you get distracted meanwhile.
That won't happen, I promise you.
I appreciate the frankness.
[glancing at Beren]
--not be good news. --Though--
[with a bemused expression]
I've got to admit I'm feeling irrationally optimistic, since you involved me in all this.
"Irrational" is right.
[at the Captain's Look]
Sorry, sir, but someone's got to give you a hard time while he's gone.
Yes, but are you going to remember to stop when he gets back?
[Nienna's student turns a chortle into a cough and bows extravagantly]
I pledge you, I shall be back anon.
Captain: [with a casual wave]
And we shall be here, most likely.
[as the Apprentice goes jauntily off, the Captain asks Beren:]
Did that confounded dog leave us any ale?
Some. Not much.
[he passes over the drinking horn -- the Captain finishes it and lets the vessel disappear]
Anyone else feel that we've company?
[the rest of the Elven shades look at each other;
several nod, while others shrug]
Is it -- her -- again? His girlfriend?
Perhaps. Or not.
[Beren looks around at them, shrewdly]
You know who it is, don't you?
Second Guard: [correcting]
Who it could be. There are a lot of possibilities.
Captain: [like someone trying to coax a timid animal out]
You really are welcome to join us. None of us will trouble you -- not even the mortal -- not unless you start it first.
[Lady Earwen's former handmaiden appears softly from the shadows, wearing a rather sulky expression]
I know that.
Hey, I was right.
Oh. --Hullo again.
Why were you pretending not to be here, Sea-Mew?
Teler Maid: [haughty]
I do not like that young Elf of Lady Nienna's Household.
He does not understand. He chides me for malingering and is overbold to tell me that if I do not dare to go Without, then I must not blame it upon any other, and also much to say that I ought at the least to go amongst others nor keep so entirely unto myself.
You know, those sound exactly like the sorts of things I would say, if I had thought of them.
I did this once already to tell -- I have had enough of being set down and disregarded in life, by Noldor, that I should wish to meet it more within these walls? I think not!
Now, Maiwe -- be fair. Not everyone treated you badly in Tirion. Didn't the Family do everything they could to make you feel at home and make the most of being in our City?
[she doesn't answer; Beren et al torn between politeness and curiosity, curiosity leading]
And my parents, too?
Teler Maid: [reluctantly]
Everyone of House Finarfin, in fact. Didn't we all include you in things when Lady Earwen didn't need you -- which was most of the time -- and when you'd let us? Short of picking you up and carrying you away like an infant, there wasn't anything more we could do, was there?
I know that you meant well, but it was not -- it was so far from what I was used! You and Suli' and Lady Nerwen and all those big noisy horses and big noisy dogs and big noisy birds with flapping wings!
Big noisy people too, eh?
[she grins for a second before remembering not to]
We were rather a rowdy lot, I'll admit, and perhaps we tried too hard to put you at ease by being easy ourselves. --But it's noisy enough along the coast, what with the waves crashing on the rocks and under the piers, and the wood creaking, and booms hitting, and the wind in sails sounding like a drum and all -- and I do seem to remember the occasional large white bird shrieking and flapping its wings for a morsel after coming back from hunting for fish.
Teler Maid: [lifting her chin]
It is different, in the harbour.
What you're used to, you mean.
But I had no wish to go dashing about the woods and fields like that!
[playful -- what follows is an old joke, clearly]
--And you do not hunt fish, you catch them, silly. --And it was dull, for me, since I had not skill nor strength for your bows and could not contest with ye.
And we weren't Edrahil, either.
[the way she doesn't answer is answer enough]
You know that if you'd kept with us -- I don't mean going out in the field, if you really cared naught for it -- but with the House, you'd have been far happier, met much nicer people who would have taught you all kinds of things and learned from you, too. But instead you had to go trailing after him like a poor little puppy dog all over Aman, getting stepped on or patted on the head by those who thought far too well of themselves already, and not being sure enough of yourself to show your teeth and make them at least treat you with respect and think better of your people, if not with liking. You did choose a good deal of your unhappiness, Sea-Mew, you've got to admit. Even if he did alternate between encouraging you and ignoring you, or worse.
[she gets more stubborn-looking throughout this lecture, and counterattacks:]
How can you say such hard things of him, if you will call him friend?
That's how. Because he knows my failings as well as I know his, and does me honor regardless.
Teler Maid: [intent frown]
Why? I do not understand how it is that you and he have become friends, far less so fast.
I could tell you it was because he saved my life overseas, but that wouldn't really account for it, particularly because it was largely his fault I got shot in the first place.
Teler Maid: [narrowing her eyes]
Would that not have the effect most opposite, in fact?
That wasn't the important part. What followed was what mattered. And followed naturally from the fact that he'd long since become someone I had come to respect, during the crossing of the Grinding Ice.
Teler Maid: [still doubtingly]
So he did not go upon the Ships, then?
[he shakes his head]
Why did he not?
Captain: [shaking his head again]
You must ask him that, yourself, else you'll have but a friend's guess, whether it be true or false.
[she looks down, and does not say anything. Very seriously:]
--Did you really think he was with House Feanor, that Night, or that he would have joined them, or even stood idly by and not tried to defend you all? For not even the gods can say for certain what would have been, but I would stake my life upon it -- if I had it -- that not even as he was in those Days would Edrahil have done any such thing, though he would mock me for such faith.
Teler Maid: [suddenly and sharply]
--I did not think that any of our people would kill us, nor thieve us of our artistry, as they were robbed of treasures of life and jewel, either!
[awkward silence -- curiosity winning strongly over discreteness among the onlookers]
Teler Maid: [trying not to sound like it's important]
He is gone again, then?
As you see.
To be harangued by Lord Finarfin.
[clearly torn between asking why and being too proud to do so]
Second Guard: [hesitantly]
[he gets the glare]
…how come you've come back to join us again when you said we were disturbing you and you'd rather have peace-and-quiet?
[long expectant pause]
Teler Maid: [folding her arms defiantly, spoiling the effect by absentmindedly standing on one leg again]
'Tis dull to be elsewhere, now that I do know that ye are come, and the Lady Nienna I might not find, for all my seeking, nor any of the Household of this Hall, saving those few who would not stay at my summoning but left in haste with excuse. What great matter is it, that all must be away about it?
Some of it's my fault--
Fourth Guard: [cutting him off]
But most of it isn't. One of Morgoth's Ainur has been spotted prowling about the Pelori, and everyone else is trying to roust out the intruder and reinforce the defenses. Or so we have it on pretty good authority.
That was not much by way of an answer, still, 'tis better than I have had ere now.
So, rather than suffer the pangs of boredom and the worse torments of not knowing what's going on when you know there's something going on, you'll put up with our disreputable and often-over-noisy company?
[she gives him a very scathing Look]
--Aren't you worried about losing your balance and tipping over one of these days?
[she puts her foot down and straightens with rather a definite stamp, and then breaks into an unwilling smile and hops up onto one of the boulders, very much at ease.]
Teler Maid: [teasing]
At the least you have not hawks and horses and dogs about.
Only the one.
[she thinks he's joking]
Which? Not a horse, surely--!
[he snaps his fingers at Huan, who sits up from where he was lying with his head on his paws and looks over alertly]
[she leaps off the ledge and stands there staring
at the Hound, not at all happily]
I thought that was another rock!
That's Huan. He--
Teler Maid: [grimly]
--I know who that is. I recollect -- and do well recall when last I saw--!
[not taking her eyes off Huan]
'Twas at your master's heel, before the House of my King, when your lord's father mocked ours, and would not hear any word of Olwe's wisdom, nor any counsel save his own.
[her fists clench]
--Do you not remember, dog?!?
[Huan jerks his head aside, breaking eye contact, and barks sharply]
Deny it now, would you indeed, wretch? I saw you with mine own eyes!
[double barks, rising in pitch, dog-objecting-to-things-as-they-are]
You! Orome's dog, you were, but wicked, and untrue did you become. --Bad dog!!!
[very loud, distraught bark]
Hey! He isn't a bad dog. He saved Tinuviel's life. And mine. Several times.
[she looks briefly at him, then glares at Huan again]
Teler Maid: [through her teeth]
How nice for you. --But he did not save mine. --Did you? Did you, Hound of Celegorm? Bad, bad dog!
[as she speaks, getting louder, Huan alternates between barking and yelping in horribly-unhappy-dog fashion, backing away with his tail clamped between his hind legs. Unfortunately this means he's not looking where he's going...]
Third Guard: [slapping at his paw]
Ow! Huan, stop it!
Captain: [very stern]
Get back here. You're not slinking out of this.
[Huan does the negative yelp-head toss thing again and starts trying to back up once more]
Huan! Stay! [he lunges up and secures a grip on the Hound's collar, since words aren't working, hauling on the other's neck as the Hound pulls back and then skids a bit, stiff-legged, on the stone floor -- very much like someone contending with a stubborn horse.]
Dammit, you Hellhound! --Down!!! I'm not equal to this, you bloody idiot!
[as everyone else scrambles to not get trampled, Huan gives up abruptly at these words and drops into a crouch, the Captain leaning heavily on him and grimacing in pain and exasperation as he recovers from the struggle]
Shut up, Beren, you don't understand -- yet.
I don't care if you're a demi-god, a demon, or King Manwe himself in disguise, Hound, you're going to carry on a civilized conversation while I'm around. You will not go slamming out of here treading on people, and you will not shout and carry on like the Glamhoth if you don't like what's being said. --Is that understood?
[he shakes Huan's collar once]
[repeated pathetic whines]
[a shocked silence follows-- to Beren]
What? You've owned dogs.
Yeah, but -- that's Huan.
I'm well aware of that, trust me.
[Huan whines again, and Beren instinctively kneels down to comfort him, but the Captain fends him off]
Don't interfere. You'll understand -- all too soon.
[he nods a little and the other Rangers move up, not to restrain Beren but as moral support in what's coming]
[the Hound rolls his eyes, but he waits until getting his full attention.]
I'm sorry I called you a Wolf -- that was pain speaking -- but I'm not sorry for calling you a bloody idiot. Now, calm down and behave yourself. I don't like this any more than you do, and it's only going to get worse, I know. But you know you're stuck until you own up, no matter how many times you sneak away.
[Huan whimpers and tries to twist around to lick his hands, but gets another shake for it]
Stop that. Pity won't make me let you off.
[to the Sea-elf, in a very grim and formal tone:]
--Daughter of Alqualonde, self-named Sea-Mew, what complaint bring you against the Hound Huan, for which he shall answer?
[she looks a little wild-eyed, now that it's come to this, but doesn't back down]
When Celegorm his master and his master's brothers did join with their father to steal our ships, and used sword and -- shield? -- shield, all with the tools of the hunt, the spear and the bow and the gutting-knife, to slay those who would bar them from the piers, and drive them from their own works by pain and terror -- this Hound was there, with the other Hounds of Orome's gift, in the following of Feanor.
[Huan starts to make some loud noise, and is preemptively checked with a strong pull on his collar]
Captain: [even more grim]
Are you saying, then, that the Lord of Dogs took part, and led his folk to take part, in the assault on your City? That he is guilty as well of the blood of the Kinslaying? For that I have never yet heard said.
[silence, broken only by almost subvocal canine whining]
Not of the former -- but yea, of the latter, indeed. For he was there, and stood by, and did naught -- naught! -- either to dissuade his lord, nor his lord's folk, neither to defend us, save to make noise of his distress, and to run to and fro, but what availed that, oh mighty and noble Huan?
[she stares at him, and he cannot meet her eyes, but turns his head away with a small yelp]
What judgment would you have, what recompense, that your accusation is admitted truth?
Teler Maid: [ice]
None. What can give back what is ruined? Life, or honor -- once burnt, they are as lost as any ship. That the truth be admitted is enough. Let him bear the shame, with the knowledge of what was not done, as I have borne the witness of it in my heart all this long time since.
[Huan makes a half-hearted scrabble to get away with his forepaws, but not serious, since the Captain keeps firm hold of his collar and he gives up as soon as it tugs him]
[single sharp bark]
If I let you go, --who are you going to go hide behind? There isn't a one of us whose ignorance will protect you from the truth. And it's a hard, cold truth, as hard as the Ice, and no mistake. If you'd come with us at the first, we might not have been taken by Sauron's werewolves, and the King might not have been killed, and Beren wouldn't have had to live with that. Or it might have all gone wrong, and the Terrible One might have fought you and won, and turned out to be the greatest Wolf the world will ever see, and we might have ended up in chains the same, waiting for death with wrists flayed to the bone, knowing that there was no breaking free and unable to stop myself regardless. --And you'll never know.
[he stares intently at the Hound, ignoring everything and everyone else, including Beren's distress and attempt to curl up hiding his face against his knees, thwarted by the Rangers who compel him to accept a sympathetic shoulder instead]
--And we all know this, even Beren, even if he's never let himself think about it. And we welcomed you back among us, regardless, for what you did do and the choices you did make, even before we knew the end of the story. If I let you go, Huan, you can vanish, and refuse to face what you didn't do -- worse than fire, isn't it? And none of us, nor even the Lord and Lady of the Halls, can stop you -- not even Lady Nia.
[Huan keens a short, piercing note]
Of course, you'll be abandoning Beren, and failing the trust Himself laid upon you, and turning your back on your own liege lady who's relying on you to look after her lord -- but if you truly want that, want to judge yourself more harshly than any of us, then go--
[he turns the Hound loose with a little shove, sitting back with a frown and watching him closely. Huan continues to hunker there, keening, getting louder with each whine until the hint of a yelp is to be heard at the end, trying to look as small as a horse-sized animal possibly can but still very much visible. Beren pulls away from his friends and stands up, looking down at the miserable Hound, his face a mask of grief.]
Huan: [flinging his head back]
[everyone flinches -- the Sea-elf actually covers her ears -- except Beren, who keeps looking at the Lord of Dogs.]
Beren: [voice still ragged]
Come here, boy.
[crawling by pulling himself forward on his elbows, Huan creeps up to Beren and stretches his neck until his head is between the Man's feet, in the most vulnerable and submissive of dog/owner positions, especially for dogs with long floppy ears. Very carefully Beren steps over and kneels down again, putting his arms around Huan's neck and resting his cheek against the top of Huan's own head.]
You're still my good dog. You try to look out for your people, look out, do the right thing, we don't make it easy for you, do we? I know, I know, -- I'm sorry -- I love you too, pup, okay, get up, you're fine--
[as he speaks randomly, almost, crooning reassurances to the Hound, the latter huffs an enormous sigh, carefully and stiffly stretches back and up, and after nosing him gently in the face, goes over to the Captain, still very carefully and in the manner of a dog who's not sure if he's back in everyone's good graces yet.]
Willing to forgive me?
[he reaches out his hand, but before Huan can push his nose under, he catches hold of the Hound's lower jaw and shakes it as Beren did earlier, a gesture not so much of disrespect nor even familiarity but complete trust, as the returning gleam in the Hound's eyes shows. Huan lifts a paw to brush him away, but he lets go first and reaches up to lightly push down the bridge of his muzzle, making the Hound's head nod like a horse's. Huan bounces back like a puppy, stiff-legged on all fours.]
[short, joyful barks]
[he turns around in place, wagging his tail with extreme enthusiasm, and makes short little bounds up to the rest of the Ten in turn, looking completely crazed as only a happy dog can. When he comes up to the Elf from Alqualonde, however, he does not receive any such greeting from her:]
Teler Maid: [biting off each syllable]
Stay away from me, Lord of Dogs.
Beren: [covering the situation]
Hey. Hey! You're being obnoxious, settle down.
[he tugs Huan down on the floor, where the Hound presses up next to him as closely as possible, a little forlorn, but not wretched any more. The Sea-elf does not weaken, even when the Captain gives her a meaningful Look.]
Teler Maid: [coldly]
You are kinder and more gentle of heart than I. For myself, --I cannot forget, and do not wish to give up my wrath, merely because another justly suffers sorrow for mine own anguish.
Youngest Ranger: [hesitant]
I understand, a little.
[she turns on him, but he keeps going, stronger as he continues:]
It was hard for us all when we found out. About the Kinslaying. My people, I mean, for I wasn't born yet then. Even knowing…or believing, rather -- that the King had nothing to do with it -- and couldn't have, one way or the other -- a lot of folks couldn't deal with it. A few tribes who'd never done so in a thousand years, went and gave their allegiance right to the Greycloak instead. Even almost sixty years ago, there were still people in my village who weren't happy when they heard about me wanting to go to the King's War, not just work on the City and study there.
[she looks at him closely]
You are one of us.
And yet you are with them.
[everyone nods, not just him]
And you are a warrior.
One of the best. Better than me.
[his Sindar colleague looks away, abashed, and mutters something unintelligible except for the word "swords"]
Yes, but you know your weak points and work on them and around them.
Teler Maid: [to the Noldor Ranger, narrowing her brows]
You are conceding that one of us Latecomers is better at any single thing, save for boats, than you?
[he gives her an embarrassed smile]
Stranger things than that have happened, Sea-Mew. --Not just one thing, either.
--I don't think that was what she was remarking on, though -- was it, Maiwe?
[she shakes her head, slowly; to the other Teler]
You are not foremost in skill with the sword -- but you carry one none the less. And your bow is no light implement for catching marsh-fowl or fish, -- unless it is that ducks and trout in the Old Country have grown very large and fierce since my family left there?
Youngest Ranger: [simultaneously, dead-pan]
[the Youngest Ranger is indicating with his hands as they speak]
--Bigger than swans.
My cousin spent a fortnight wrestling one out of the river, once.
No, that was my cousin.
Are you sure? Perhaps it was its nest-mate.
I don't think trout have nest-mates, strictly speaking.
I was talking about a duck.
I thought you were talking about your cousin.
Ranger: [snorting, to the other Ranger]
It was so much less annoying for the seven-twelfths of a day that you were too much in awe of The Terror of the Northlands to actually say anything to him.
Shouldn't have dropped your whetstone, then.
[the Sea-elf has been regarding them dubiously with a not-altogether successful attempt to keep from smiling]
What means that? --Is this yet more of the strangeness of speech that followed on the dividing of our peoples, that you have brought hither with you?
No, I -- was upset and distracted and when we made camp the first night, I dropped my whetstone, and both of them said at once, "Look out, it's trying to rejoin the herd," without knowing the other was about to, and it sort of kept on from there. Turns out that someone--
[nudging his younger colleague]
--is a lot less serious and quiet at heart than he ever let on all these years. We now think there's some sort of cultural shift to silliness that goes along with the quesse-parma and sule-thule changes, and that explains much of mortal humour too.
Youngest Ranger: [stiffly]
I was trying to behave appropriately among the High-elves and not embarrass my family for being a yokel. And you're not supposed to elbow a superior officer, I don't think.
We aren't on duty, Lieutenant.
Yes, we are, we're guarding Beren.
But if we're in the field, on duty, and someone spots something, and is right next to another, one always elbows them to get their attention. Because it would be stupid and a waste of time to go through the hand-signals to point out them that there was something they needed to know about, when you're right there. Right?
Teler Maid: [dryly]
If your theorem is correct, then the condition must come about when you begin to use our dialect as well. But I think it cannot be so, I think it is more a state to be passed from one to the other like damp or paint, for--
[pointing at the Captain]
--he was ever so, and so I can well assure you who did not know him well in Tirion before.
That's why he went native so quickly over there.
Really? And here I thought it was the chance to live out-of-doors most of the time without being considered completely daft for wanting it.
Teler Maid: [narrowing her eyes]
Silly -- and most deviously endeavouring to distract me from my questions and mine outrage.
Nope, that was just a useful consequence. Mostly we're kind of upset and stressed right this moment and my people tend to make dumb jokes that some people don't even recognize at times like that.
What was it you were asking, anyway?
See? Useful -- but complete coincidence. --I think she was trying to ask how come we don't just let the violent warmongering Noldor look after all the fighting for us back home.
Well, there weren't enough of us, for starters, not even before the Bragollach.
And you didn't come along until after we'd already almost lost once and had been fighting for a long time before and after. --Only not me, because I wasn't born yet then either.
And it would just have felt wrong to sit around enjoying ourselves and looking after our stuff, and not helping, when they gave it all to us in the beginning to start with.
You said that twice.
"In the beginning," and "to start with," for those are entirely the same.
[Beren just shrugs, with a rueful smile]
If you correct Beren every time he says something that sounds weird, you're going to spend an awful lot of time doing it, --and you'll miss a lot of things you'd have done better to hear. Oh, and you've changed the subject this time.
You are all ganged up against me.
On the contrary. You are all against us, and have driven us back together.
But there are many of you, and only one of me!
And--? Still all of you, right?
Cease this! You are making me laugh, to think of you mighty warriors fleeing before me like a school of fish before a dolphin.
Oh, not fleeing -- but definitely at bay.
[he pats the stone next to him, inviting her to sit down again]
Teler Maid: [glaring at Huan]
I am still much wroth with him.
Beren: [nodding, reasonably]
Yeah, that figures. I bet you will be for a long time.
[he thumps Huan's withers gently as he speaks, and the Hound sighs]
Teler Maid: [frowning at him]
You are not quite so ill-favoured as first I had thought, though indeed very untidy and unkempt.
[he raises his eyebrows at that]
But of that -- a great part is your devotion to your friends, even in despite of me, and for all that I am unfriends with them. I am much confused, for it seems me that I should like you less, that you defend the lords Edrahil and Huan counter to me -- and yet it inclines me to your part.
Um. Okay. I--
[sees behind her the Steward returning, alone]
--heh, guess we'll test it out some more.
[she senses the Steward's presence at almost the same moment and turns, tensing up very obviously, with a flicker like wind going through her visible manifestation as though she were about to disappear again, but changed her mind. He sees her a moment later, and looks if possible more drained and disheartened than a moment ago, but resolutely comes up to them. Huan whines in a distraught way, but quietly enough not to be obnoxious.]
The Hour's joy to thee, Maiwe.
Teler Maid: [brittle]
There are no hours here, milord.
I know. But I could not remember any other of the old greetings that should be fitting.
Why, do you hold that one fitting, then?
Teler Maid: [caustic]
What then, you'd not have me joyful?
[he starts to say something, cannot, gesturing -- the Captain breaks in, rescuing]
--What passed with his father? And how?
Much, and ill, yet not so ill as might have been.
How did Lord Finarfin take it?
Badly -- yet, again, not so ill as he might. He--
He was far kinder to me than he wished to be, -- or than I merited.
Not true, sir.
Is he coming back again, or does he return to the council with their Lordships?
As to that, he knew no more than I or you, himself. He would walk longer, and think--
[the Sea-elf is getting more and more tense at each exchange, until she finally snaps.]
Teler Maid: [fiercely]
Will you now again pretend I am not present, that you are among your friends, and do not know why I am hither even as I did come hence with you?
[all of them stare at her]
I tell you, I shall not longer be quiet! No, not though you should mock at my fashion of speech, nor yet be silent when your companions do so!
Captain: [mildly exasperated]
Maiwe, none of us here is going to say anything about your accent. Firstly, we're not Maglor's following, and none of us ever did, at the House or anywhere else, and second, we've been speaking Telerin, the way they do in the Old Country, practically since we left Aman.
[gesturing at the Youngest Ranger]
One of us is Teler, for that matter, you do recall.
'Sides which, he hardly even blinks when I say things, and my accent's way stronger than yours.
Teler Maid: [frowning]
That is true.
[glowering even more]
You would dissuade me from my anger!
Um -- yeah.
I tell you you will not!
But you're not really angry with him.
You're angry with the guy who left you without even saying good-bye. But this isn't him any more. So he doesn't deserve to be treated the same way.
What nonsense is this? But of course he is the same who left this shore!
Not exactly, just on account of being dead. But more important, from what you were saying, the Elf you knew wouldn't have put his life on the front lines to try to help an Aftercomer like me. So because you didn't recognize him in that description, he can't be the same person.
If not he, then who is to blame for it? If it is not he who belittled me, and stood by while others belittled me, then how is it that he does remember it and admit to it?
Okay. But you're talking to him like he's gonna do it again, when five hundred years ago --
--Whoa. Five hundred years of being angry. Definite disadvantage to being immortal. Anyway--
[shaking his head in disbelief]
--five hundred years ago, when you were both alive he wouldn't have admitted that it was his fault, right? So you both admit that there's something different about you now. Right? Besides being dead.
You are giving to me a headache.
Nope, just sharing.
[she snorts angrily]
Steward: [very quiet and carefully]
I'm sorry, Maiwe. You were not pleased to have me greet you, and the matter we were speaking of did not concern you, and for that, and for the second, and for the fact that I am much distracted by it, I did not think to include you in the discussing of it.
Teler Maid: [raising her voice]
Ah, now you will call me and use mine own name, but to quiet my dissatisfaction and defer my anger at your disrespect!
Did you not demand that I acknowledge your chosen-name?
Must you ask? or are you but speaking in twists to snare me in a net and make me contradict me for your satisfaction? I know this dance, milord!
Steward: [crystal-clear emphasis]
How would you have me bespeak you, then? How might I address you, that will not awake either your wrath or your suspicion of mockery or of manipulation? --What should I do?
[she flings her hands out in a wild frustrated gesture]
Nothing. Nothing at all. --I wish I had not known you were dead! I wish I might not have to know it now, and then I might have peace yet!
[she spins about and starts to walk off -- not, however, vanishing]
Steward: [loud enough for her to hear]
And I the same.
[she does not turn nor answer, but stops at the closest pillar and leans against it, hiding her face, her posture both furious and forlorn. He bows his head, accepting her rejection -- but his friends don't.]
Go over and embrace her, you idiot!
She doesn't want to have anything to do with me. You heard--
--If she didn't want you to go say something, she wouldn't be staying around waiting for you to do it.
He's right, sir.
I should be most surprised if she did not strike me for the effrontery of such a gesture.
From what she and you said -- you deserve it.
He's right about that, too, sir.
[the Steward looks at them, sighs, then braces himself and goes over to where the Sea-elf is standing beside the column.]
[she does not answer -- he puts his hands on her shoulders, leaning over her a little]
Sea-Mew, please hear--
[in a flash she turns and shoves him hard, flinging him away and back with such violence that he stumbles and falls to his knees, not trying to catch himself]
How dare you! How dare you think that you might come and call me after all that's passed, and I to answer to your song like an errant breeze charmed to your sail, for so long as you fancy my small strength to buoy your spirits, and then forget, or shun me, when stronger winds lure you to higher, swifter joys! No, I say, I will not be yours to disdain ever again!
[he does not answer]
"Maiwe," you say now, but do you not remember the times in Tirion when your friends would make jibing turn upon the word, and you allow it, or do the same even, that I was but a whining beggar, shrilling for your attention? How you should urge me to take some finer name, as I would not yield to your wish that I should give up my own House's way, to take a name when we should come of age, of that beast or bird most near to our own hearts? And would not hear me when I told you Swan and Heron were not for me, but only the dancing gull that silvers all the air?
Would you now caress me, that would ever turn from me when I would take your hand and walk beside, nor let me set my arm about your waist when we were anywhere but Lady Earwen's halls, and did I make so bold, you may likewise hold in memory, then would you walk along the streets and square with such long and great strides that I must ever hasten to keep pace with you, nor might we talk, for the haste of your going no less than the silent trouble of your mind -- else you should grip my hand so fast that I take pain of it, nor ever admit that there was aught of deliberation in it, nor failing saving of mine own weakness?
Steward: [not looking away, in the same low-voiced manner throughout]
Do you not recall how you disdained my gift to you, that I had gathered all of myself, and fashioned by my hands, and crude it was, perhaps, but my Lady praised it and thought it fine, and when I gave it you, you frowned, and but said that no bard should wear a wristlet, for that the beads would strike against the sounding-board, or 'gainst the strings, and so I should have known, nor asked me to fashion of it but armlet or collar that I would have done, had you but spoke the least, the least word of pleasure at my gift! Not so many pearls did I scatter that Hour in the gardens as I did tears--
I do recall.
Teler Maid: [tossing her head]
But what should I know of music, that did but sing simple songs, knowing naught of the forms and sciences of it, the modes and mathematics and the harmonics of the heavens that should order all? What was my melody, made but on a reed pipe, that I did cut with mine own knife and give back to the water when it had served its time, but the whistle of the wild breeze in the grasses and no art at all, rough and unshaped as the winds or my namesake's cry? But a buzzing, as of the blue-black shore bee, a silliness to divert children at their skipping -- or so did one say, who would be known as harper full great as his reverenced companion was at song! Do you not remember him, and the words he said one twilight Hour, when I would have given a tune to the Silver One?
That, as well.
Teler Maid: [jeering]
No more to say than that? Where is your skillful debate, to set me at a loss, and make all my thoughts and words seem but the chattering of a tiny babe, and turn my sorrow and my righteous anger into folly before all these your friends, as ever did?
Against the shafts of truth there is no shield strong enough, nor mail fine enough, to withstand its pangs. Be it enough that I can answer you at all, for even that is almost beyond my enduring. Knowing what has befallen you, and what part I had in it, is grief enough I think to kill me, were I yet living.
Teler Maid: [slowly, softly]
I wanted to see you before me humbled and broken-hearted, as I have wept over your coldness to me. And now I have my wish -- and -- I do not much care to have it.
[she makes a slight, half-turning motion, looking briefly at the rest of the Ten, and then away into the shadows, poised as if about to take flight]
Beren: [approaching them, carefully]
[she gives him a sharp glance as he comes to stand protectively over the Noldor shade, guarding, yet without projecting any menace towards her.]
Don't run away again. It's not gonna help. Trust me on that.
Teler Maid: [returning to the fray with a vengeance]
And what, pray, shall help? Words, that he has ever used to tangle me and bind me into such confusion that I might not speak, or silence, that left me becalmed and moorless and far from harbor, finding no way to follow him nor homeward fly instead? I am no fool, I know how it shall end, as ever it did, with my self alone and in tears and a fool in the sight of all for loving him!
You wanted him to be someone else. And he is. But now you have to deal with this Edrahil, not the old one.
For what shall I trust this change, that I shall risk my heart again, as in past Day, to find that it should last only until we again should leave my Lady's House for other halls?
Because you're not a fool. Because I'm here, and you know how much that means by way of changes, because you said so. Besides, what have you got to lose?
Mine own valuing, that I be not the same poor silly child that could not help but cling to one who loved me not.
But you do still love him, so that's just an illusion you're holding on to.
But I did promise myself that I never again should yield so!
Did you swear an oath?
[she gives him a puzzled look]
How much is that worth to you?
[he lifts his wrist]
Your hand? Your life? --Forever? Pride's a damned expensive prize. I know.
[she looks away, then sidelong at the Steward, before meeting Beren's gaze again]
What have you got to gain by risking it? --'Cause that's the question.
Teler Maid: [very softly]
I am not sure…I am not sure--
You came back…I think you're brave enough to find out.
[she looks at the rest of the Ten, doubtfully and very defensive, to find that all of them are troubled, anxious, and none of them enjoying her discomfiture at all.]
Teler Maid: [to the Steward, suddenly]
It is said by sundry and by all that you are no longer the same proud, vain soul that was so uncaring to me when we were yet alive. Perhaps 'tis true -- yet there is this as well that you have likely not to thought of, that I might not care for this stranger that you have returned, that bears your same name. What of that, my lord? What say you to that chance of a chance?
Steward: [with the merest hint of his normal manner]
I'll chance it.
[they lock stares]
Teler Maid: [suddenly very sad and quiet in turn]
Perhaps it shall be the other way about, and it is he who shall not care now for one who stayed perforce and by her will to stay and never see the changes of the world nor to take part in any of their making, but only to hide in shadow--
No chance of that.
[she stares at him, warily, for another long moment]
Teler Maid: [sharply again]
One chance you shall have, Edrahil, for I cannot spare you any more than that, to prove your change of heart, that before your friends and mine -- but more yours than mine! -- you will not be ashamed of me, nor wish me changed, nor silent, nor away.
[abruptly she turns back and takes a place by the waterfall, next to the edge of the spill pool, closest to the Sindarin Ranger, and waits with a very challenging expression as the Steward accepts Beren's (unnecessary) help to rise.]
Beren: [undertone, but intense]
Whoo boy, this is not good--
Steward: [as quietly]
How many chances does one require? If one does not fail.
[he doesn't exactly sound cheerful, but…]
This isn't a fair setup.
Such is the way of the world.
[still leaning on Beren's shoulder, he goes back and sits down beside the Captain, who presses the flask of miruvor on him without objection. Huan slinks over from where he was lying and drops down behind them, rather absurdly trying to keep as much of himself hidden from the Sea-elf's angle as possible.]
Now. --Tell me about the world, and what it is like in these days, and the other Children who dwell in it now, and your War against the traitor-god, and everything else I am ignorant of--!
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.