43. Scene IV.xix - part II
Youngest Ranger: [very seriously]
I don't think it's that -- I think it's that you're crazy.
[she gives a hoarse bark of surprised laughter, but he goes on in the same way:]
That's what scares them. There's others have done worse things, you know. Or at least -- more of them. But they're not so plainly daft, as you.
[pause -- she chuckles through her tears]
--Or else they're worse, that they don't see that they should be.
[the Ex-Thrall pulls herself together and looks up at the onlookers around her, first her own kin and people, and then at the watching faithful, living and dead.]
What would you say to me, Finarfin son of Indis? That I should have turned back with you at Araman?
I am King of the Noldor now--
--eke of them that do own me thus, even as them that yet do not--
[the Ten look down awkwardly, a little ashamed; the Feanorian contingent gives him startled looks, some angry, some wondering]
--nor be it meet that I should add one measure to the judgment that hath been given unto thee, presuming to greater wisdom than the Powers thereby. Aye, and thou hadst known less sorrow, hadst indeed returned home in that time, -- but this thou dost even ken, ere didst speak it.
Like son, like father --
[the two Noldor Kings steal glances quickly at each other, before she goes on, this time to Amarie:]
--And you, Fairest One, come down from your mountain -- what word for this bloodstained one? --Or will you turn away in silence as well?
Thou art far from first, nor yet the last, that Feanor hath led astray -- nor indeed the mightiest. Bereft of the heartening strength of this Land, of Light, how might ye help but fall beneath our Enemy's sway in the Shadowed Realm?
[some of the Feanorians bridle at her words, but others look troubled and downcast; the Seneschal remains bent, anguished, where he has turned away]
You speak of him -- but what says she who would not be led, nor driven, but held firm in her resolve despite all persuasion?
[turning her head, she matches stares with Nerdanel, who draws near to her with an untroubled expression and kneels down a short distance in front of her while she addresses her:]
What hast thou done, child, that mine own children did not? --And yet I love them, nor shall ever cease.
[the former Healer bows her head a little, closing her eyes, and then squaring her shoulders looks up coolly at Elu Thingol's emissary.]
Well, lord of the Grey folk -- hold you still with your lord's judgment on us? Or have you learned mercy in your own death?
Ambassador: [in a detached, level tone]
You have acknowledged your deeds, Feanorian. Anything further that I might say would be both needless and cruel.
[they both sigh, recognizing that this isn't enough, and it's the best that he can give or she will get -- and then she turns to look at the shade from Alqualonde.]
And you, Foamrider, who said but a little while ago that such a fate was no more than such as I merited -- what do you say to me, Kinslain?
[the Sea-elf stares at her directly, her eyes very wide, her face otherwise expressionless, for a long moment.]
I think -- I think you have been tortured enough.
[the Ex-Thrall flinches as if the other had struck her instead, shaking her head a little in protest, and then looks at Beren]
Now that you know the truth of me, traitor as much as victim -- will you shun me, mortal?
[he shakes his head, very deliberately]
[the Hound walks slowly over beside her, tail dragging, and puts his head down by hers: she doesn't respond, but doesn't push him away either. Moving softly, as if not to startle a hurt animal, Finrod comes to kneel down directly in front of her, putting his hands on her shoulders and looking her directly in the eyes]
Someday -- you will take up your name again, and it will be true again, and you will sing once more, under the Stars.
I don't know. Someday.
[as he speaks, her father half-turns and looks at them, as torn between hope and remorse and doubt as she]
When you are ready, you will leave the shelter of these Halls, and you will walk under the sky, and your voice will give as much peace to your hearers as presently brings pain.
[The Ex-Thrall sighs . . . and vanishes from under his hands without another word. The Lord Seneschal flinches, bowing his head, and disappears as well, leaving his cohorts in disarray as well as dismay. Finrod gets up and turns to face the remaining Feanorian supporters, addressing them in a quiet, matter-of-fact, but uncompromising tone:]
Why don't you just go now?
[the living Eldar look at him in shock and dismay of their own, while a warrior of Aglon asks his commander anxiously:]
Sir -- what -- what ought we do now . . . ?
But -- what of yon poor maiden?
--What of her?
[the Lord Warden makes a helpless gesture to his follower, struggling for articulate speech]
Aglon: [shaking his head, struggling against tears]
I -- I -- ah--!
Finarfin: [with a perceptive look at his son]
Such trouble is not strange to thee, but oft thou must give thy counsel to the broken of heart, is't not so?
Not infrequently. Sometimes we talk. More often I listen. Generally they just want to be seen by someone who won't dismiss them, and then we just sit quietly, or I play--
[glancing over where the harp rests on the stones]
--until they're ready to speak to someone higher. That was a tremendous improvement -- usually you can hardly tell she's there.
[as the four lawful Elves look at him, and each other, and the stunned Feanorians, with lingering shock and distress, Nienna's Apprentice comes in through the doorway in determined haste, sees the gathering and flings up his hands in disgust.]
Oh, threnody, not this again! Would you people go away and find something constructive to do?
[he makes a sweeping, dismissive motion with his arm. Afterthought:]
[the Warden of Aglon turns, welcoming this new challenge as a replacement for prior emotions, as do his companions]
Aglon: [extreme haughtiness]
You will not address me in that fashion, boy.
Actually . . . I will. --Ghost.
[the Elven warrior shakes his head, standing his ground, his lip curling at the retort]
You -- can't compel us to do anything. Can you?
[he sneers over at the Captain]
--That's what you were getting at, trying to be cryptic.
[to the Apprentice again]
No, I can't. --But I can
make things unpleasant enough that you'd wish you'd cooperated in the first
Erm . . .
You can't even bluff properly, you fool.
[his followers and associates grin savagely at the put-down]
Apprentice: [shakes his head, reasonable tone]
I wasn't bluffing, I was considering which option was the more appropriate one. I know which one I'd like better, but I don't think my Master would like it at all. So -- I'm just going to annoy you by pointing out certain hard truths in the presence of people you're trying to impress, one of which is the fact that you feel you have to impress them demonstrates that you in fact respect them enough to care about their respect, deny it as you may. You can't just walk away from them, or leave them alone -- can you? But they're indifferent to your good or bad opinion of them, and that's a second hard truth.
[ticking the points off on his fingers, and beginning to pace restively in front of them -- in the background several of the would-be combatants quietly fade from view]
Thirdly, you're blinded by your self-importance to the fact that you thereby make yourself ridiculous in the eyes of most of your fellow-dead, by pursuing these personal grudges beyond reason.
[he frowns, trying to remember, and more of the rival faction discreetly slip away]
Oh, yes -- and the fact that you always come off the worse in these little exchanges and yet you keep persisting in the same course says a great deal for your tenacity and even courage, -- but not a lot for your intelligence, I'm afraid.
I have better things to do than waste my time listening to your chatter.
[he spins about with a flourish of his cape and stalks off, followed by his remaining partisans.]
Success! Without having to hit anyone, either. Though I don't know I'll agree with his definition of "better."
I thought about the way you usually manage to dissipate things without recourse to violence, and decided to try it myself, since people just ignore me when I ask them nicely, and laugh when I get angry.
[noticing that both Finrod and Amarie are both standing there glaring at him with identical expressions, arms folded.
[to Amarie, brightly]
There you are -- I was obliged to leave for just a moment, and when I came back, you were nowhere to be found.
[she raises an eloquent eyebrow; he flinches.]
Have you got anything for me?
Erm -- oh. Right. That. Ah -- hm -- becalmed. Lulled, so to speak.
Circling on a thermal. Stable. Static. Or stagnant.
Finrod: [piqued, to the Captain]
Have you any notion what he's getting at?
[the Elven officer shakes his head, amused]
Apprentice: [looking conspiratorially from them to the newest arrivals, who are giving him very strange Looks]
But -- I mean, we'll be overheard--
Just say it. I'm tired, annoyed, and out of patience--
[the other looks alarmed]
[as the Apprentice glances meaningfully at the four bystanders]
Go ahead -- they're all my family, after all, to greater or lesser degree.
After all, if you can't trust your kin, whom can you trust?
[while Nienna's student gives him a very askance Look, there is a great deal of sudden throat-clearing and turning aside of faces among the Ten; the law-abiding contingent bridles somewhat at this, but manage to refrain from comment]
Well, if you say so -- your cousin suggested that recourse be made to the highest authorities, and was met with resistance -- but the subject of debate shifted again to other things, and . . . they're still arguing again over whether it was a mistake for our divine King and Queen to heed my Master's plea and release His Majesty's brother--
[in a rush, very forcefully]
--and please nobody start arguing about that now, all right? -- and that's where things remain.
[Finrod looks at the Captain, frowning]
Captain: [shaking his head]
That hardly seems worth the trouble of reporting, now.
[the disguised Maia shrugs, giving Finrod an apologetic look]
Sorry -- I'd actually come back to ask if you'd mind -- much -- doing me a favour.
You're asking me a favor.
Just a small one. Not you specifically.
[encouraged by Finrod's silence, he hurries on:]
I -- I've been given another errand to run, and I'm supposed to be keeping an eye on things, and I thought I had that situation under control, but then something unpleasant occurred to me: what if the system I set up to do that simply wasn't working at all, and that's why there hasn't been any alarm? And so I thought I'd better check.
[blank, suspicious looks from all around -- hastily]
You know the, um, the remote viewer over at His Lordship's throne -- that stone sphere, well, it's made of stone -- you haven't noticed it, well, doing anything, have you?
No. --Of course, I've not been here.
I know. That's wh --
[he glances around]
--if anyone had happened
to see, I was hoping . . .
[the Ten share looks, headshakes all round]
We've not noticed anything.
Would -- would you, let me know if you do? If you wouldn't mind keeping an eye on it?
We can try -- but I don't know that we won't get distracted and forget. Things have been rather -- well, distracting, lately, to put it mildly.
No. Never mind.
I was going to try to argue that you owed me assistance in return, but that isn't true, even considering the rather-underhanded way you obtained mine. And this -- having several tasks assigned at the same time, each one having top priority -- that's something that preceded it, anyway, and it's quite apart from it. So I really can't claim any, erm, claim on your time as a result of that, either. It isn't as though it's your fault. And you did promise to do your best.
[raising his hands in a resigned gesture]
Just have to muddle through somehow, I suppose.
[frowning, noticing something about the falls]
I say, somebody's put that all wrong again.
[the apparent-Elf gestures towards the flame-illusions over the shallow end of the spill-pool, lowering them.
Stop that! That's someone else's work.
But they're all wrong--
So? You don't just come and change others' Art without leave.
You used to do it all the time, I recall.
Yes, but I learned better.
[pause -- frank admission]
After the villagers complained to the King and it was explained to me. At some length.
[he looks at Finrod, who raises his eyebrows bemusedly]
Thank you, Sir.
[to Nienna's student]
I understand how tempting it is to remake something you think is flawed, but you really ought to ask first. And if they don't want to change it, you can't just correct it for them. That's just like Morgoth, really.
[the disguised Maia looks quizzical, but doesn't say anything]
Nay, 'tis false -- the Dark One would but to break, and not to build.
Yet dost thou not recall how our High King hath spoken of the Enemy's wish to shape all according but to his will, nor only after did so strive to wreck, that was not given over unto him? Of such matters Lord Ingwe hath most deeply questioned the gods, and hath knowledge most profound and widesome of us all, Vanyar, Noldor, or Teler, in truth.
[Finrod can't help but cast a curious glance at the Apprentice, who looks suspiciously blank]
Yet is't not true as well, that such ill-making should be most rightly named destruction?
Finarfin: [smiling slightly]
Thou art most resolute, my lady.
[she gives him an unamused Look]
Ranger: [ignoring their argument]
Anyway, you shouldn't. It's our project, not yours. Go make your own light-display elsewhere, if you don't like this one.
But I haven't time, and I'll probably get in trouble for it.
That isn't our problem.
Actually, it is -- only you don't care.
[to the Ten, cajolingly]
But don't you want
it to be right? Surely you can see it's all wrong the way it is!
But it looks right.
[appealing to the bystanders]
Doesn't it look better the way it was?
I fear I did little mark the difference.
'Tis a curious amalgam of sundries, the which might eke be little changed for better as for ill.
I must say that I prefer the brighter display myself.
Nerdanel: [consolingly to Nienna's Apprentice]
Nay, I do confess thou hast belike the right of it, and most aptly so, for being of the coasts and seeing therefore most frequent th'effects of light on water. Yet, naytheless must I alike hold with all who hold it finer to the eye, to give thereto the greatest expanse of scintillation, the tallest of flames thereby.
Oh, all right.
[he nods, putting the flames back as they were. Reluctant:]
They do look prettier that way . . .
Teler Maid: [muttering to herself in bewilderment]
--He is not Teleri. He sounds not like to us at all! Why say they so, when clearly he is Vanyar?
Captain: [aside to her]
People find what they expect to find. And don't find what they don't, either.
Your riddles are as poor as ever.
[she frowns, tossing her hair back, and stares critically at the Apprentice, who feels it and looks over to see her]
Apprentice: [reacting with pleased surprise]
Oh! How nice to see you out and about, talking to people finally.
[she folds her arms and looks very prickly and put-upon]
Despite what reservations some might have about your choice of company. Will you be going home soon, then?
Do not slight my friends!
[she is joined in her glowering by Finarfin, whose glare is perhaps more daunting due to recent events]
I was only joking.
Good try, bad timing.
[Huan makes a sudden attempt to ambush the disguised Maia but is successfully thwarted and fended off, being obliged to remain at arm's length, held by his collar, grinning and panting -- next time, perhaps!]
Apprentice: [mock sternness]
There you are, you -- wretched mongrel! Lady Vaire's quite put out with you, and so am I, because I've been wasting my time looking for you to tell you to stop. What were you racing around the Halls making such an uproar for?
I told him to.
Why in the Music would you do that?
He was acting kind of crazy in here so I told him to go run around outside for a bit. --I didn't tell him to bark, though. I don't know why he was doing that.
[to the Steward]
--Remember when he first came to Nargothrond and the tunnels unnerved him?
[wincing, the Steward nods; Finrod explains to those who were not there for it:]
He'd never been in such a large enclosed space, with such echoes, and they'd startle him, and he wouldn't stop barking until Cel took him out in the forest for a while. He was still rather unsettled in those days.
Everyone was, then.
I think he rather enjoyed the ruckus as well, though, -- and the extra runs and treats it won him, until the newness wore off and he got bored of it and used to the City.
Beren: [nodding agreement]
That sounds like a dog. We had one that got scared as a puppy by Ma's hand-mirror, used to bark like crazy whenever she saw her reflection, even after she was full grown, so we were always sneaking it out and bringing it to the dinner table or the hearth and trying not to get caught with it.
I mind me of like happening, though indeed Huan swiftly grasped the illusion's truth and no more did raise alarm 'gainst the glass. But hounds do greatly take joy in singing, and oft and easily and with light excuse do lift voice in it.
How did we get back to talking about the habits of dogs? Isn't there anyone in Aman who can keep to the subject at hand?
And now that I've managed to annoy everyone - I really must be going. Good-bye.
[spinning on his heel, he all but dashes out of the Hall, leaving the remaining company shaking their heads and staring after him.]
Nerdanel: [half to herself]
Who is he? Ever and anon he doth put me in mind of another one, but which, I cannot tell . . .
[she, Finarfin, and Amarie turn their attention now to Finrod]
Finarfin: [beginning very low key, switching tone abruptly halfway through]
I trust and have no doubt of it, that I shall speak for us all, to enquire of thee -- Finrod, what matter is this, and what dost thou take upon thyself to meddle amidst, that seekst to interfere e'en with the deliberations of the Powers?
The Song, Father.
Amarie: [slow emphasis]
--Thou art full as mad as all do say--!
Oh, I doubt that. I don't think any dozen Elves together could manage to be as mad as report would have me.
All of us together, however -- that's another matter.
[there is a nonplused silence as the lawful Eldar struggle for meaningful expression of their thoughts/emotions . . .]