Leithian Script: Act IV: 49. Scene V.iii

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49. Scene V.iii

A Boy, A Girl & A Dog
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project

BELOVED FOOL: BEYOND THE WESTERN SEA

SCENE V.iii



[the Hall. Luthien is turning the now-empty cup over and around and spinning it in her fingers while she talks, distractedly, until the Steward discreetly reaches up and takes it back, dismissing it without her even noticing]

Luthien:
It seems so long ago -- an Age -- that we first touched in the dark…

[Finrod starts slightly at her words as she goes on sadly]

It's so far away and small now, that time of moonlight and roses, like a pearl -- you can only look at it from the outside now, and never get back into that radiance again.

[pulling herself together]

But wasn't that silly? Saying that he must have had some Dark sorcery to use on me -- me!

[she shakes her head in scorn; her father's advisor bites his lip, but says nothing]

Finrod: [reluctantly]
Well…

Luthien:
Please don't joke. I'm not up to it now.

Finrod: [pensive]
I'm not.

[she looks at him in wide-eyed dismay and paranoia]

Luthien:
No. No. --Don't you turn against him now, too--

Finrod: [gripping both her hands and giving them a little reassuring shake]

Shh. I don't think so in the sense that your parents and people meant it. It's just that there's -- something -- about him -- it isn't just him, his whole family is the same -- was--

[but goes on almost immediately]

--but there's some sort of invisible aura about the Beorings which makes it hard not to do what they want, no matter how impossible-seeming it is.

[Aegnor puts his head down on his knees, as glances are directed his way; Luthien continues to look at Finrod flatly and in silence]

One just gets carried away in spite of all one's better sense, thing which cold logic declare insanity start sounding plausible, and -- Luthien, I'm not saying I wouldn't have gone with him, or that you wouldn't, I'm just trying to understand it myself because it's hard to think clearly when someone that certain of things is defining the parameters of the debate.

[pause]

You noticed he was doing it with the Powers as well. Not just arguing with them, but carrying it on his own terms.

[his father and Amarie shake their heads in residual dismay; Luthien does not say anything still.]

Aegnor:
--Yes, I'm surprised you weren't as upset about that as you were about Bereg doing the same thing.

Finrod: [very definitely]
Bereg didn't do that. He never said anything to me, or to any of us, about his doubts or whom he'd been speaking with of them. He just pretended everything was perfectly fine, said what he thought I wanted to hear, and kept all his discontents for private. I don't know if I could have reassured him -- if anyone could have -- or if things would have turned out the same regardless. --But there most certainly was no hope of any other outcome with him not being willing to question me. The only resemblance between them is that ability to convince others to go along in whatever he came up with, even when it meant going all the way back over the mountains they'd just come over this way, into whatever it was they'd thought worse than mountains to begin with -- or at least which Balan had thought worse than mountains and convinced them all the same.

Angrod:
And Marach -- don't forget, a good number of his people went with Bereg as well.

Finrod:
But more of them didn't. Malach Aradan ruled by popular acclaim -- but he was responsible for getting the tribe's consent in the first place and keeping it. It wasn't ever a settled thing, for him or for the rest of the family--

[with an earnest look from his brothers to his uncle]

--and think how much worse the Battle would have gone, and afterwards, if Bregor and Hador hadn't instilled their convictions not just in their own children but the rest of their folk as well. Not that it's much consolation, but it could have been an utter rout instead of a partial rout ending in a standoff.

[to his cousin, who is still regarding him in rather a chilly manner:]

I'm not saying it's a bad thing, Luthien -- only that this mortal obduracy is a formidable force to be reckoned with, whether it's on our side or not. Beren isn't any more stubborn than the others of his Houses, on both sides.

Fingolfin:
Or -- what was her name, that young mortal woman who caused so much fuss not too long ago?

[the other Belerianders stare at him]

[simultaneously (overlapping)]
Everyone from Middle-earth, native or returned:
--Haleth!!

[there is an embarrassed moment as everyone sort of recollects themselves]

Fingolfin: [defensive]
You must grant, I never met the lady.

Aegnor: [sarcastic aside]
There's a surprise--

Angrod:
Neither did I -- but we still heard about her enough to remember her name, uncle! It wasn't as though there weren't relatives of hers straggling through the realm for the better part of a decade.

Aegnor: [faint amusement]
It was almost like the first years here, where you never knew when you were going to walk into a settlement of strangers giving you funny looks and speaking a language nearly but not quite comprehensible. It was rather hard not to cross Nargothrond and hear the name "Haleth" in the process--

Angrod: [interrupting]
--But he didn't, don't you recall?

[the Princes shake their heads in too-obvious pity, to their uncle's chagrin]

Luthien:
Yes, annexing part of the kingdom and then telling Mablung off for trespassing--

[to the Valinorean Eldar, living and otherwise]

--well, you don't know our Captains, so that doesn't mean much to you, but people listen to them, most of the time -- when he came to try to evict them, does sort of stick in people's memory.

Finrod:
Not to mention dragging half-a-thousand unwilling kinsmen through a vale full of giant spiders and other assorted monstrosities, and her with no natural abilities whatsoever to help her defend them, and most of them increasingly convinced she was insane for not staying in a land already cultivated and partially settled, because there was "too much open" to the northward. Or commanding a successful defense against the Enemy's minions, when everyone else was on the verge of giving up and dying before rescue arrived -- which was partly the reason they didn't kick her out as chief after the business with the Old Road and the mutant beasts. "The spiders were a mistake," she told me, "I thought they were bogles out of tales to frighten bad children -- or Men who might think of going too close to the Shadowking's woods otherwise."

[shaking his head]
The way they talked about her, you couldn't tell if they thought she was brilliant, mad, or both -- and that they weren't sure either. But not being around her wasn't an option, any more than for moths about a lit candle.

Amarie: [caustic]
Aye, my lord, and wherefore didst thou not espouse her, for all thy fellowship of the Secondborn? I am astonish't.

[pause]

Finrod: [giving her a very askance Look]
I'm already married to you.

Amarie: [wide-eyed]
But -- thou didst declare't null, and didst e'en chide me for that I ne'er did take another consort, or hast forgot so swift thine own words so late-uttered?

Finrod: [getting a little bit flustered]
I -- meant for you, that you shouldn't have considered yourself bound when we never completed the ceremony--

Amarie: [tossing her head]
Now there's a fine thing, fine sir! Wouldst have me as thy grandsire, then, seeking one lord here whilst another bideth there, West or east it mattereth not -- for how might it be, that one should be bound, the other not? 'Tis not of reason, that thou shouldst hold it feasible to bide yet spouse to me, yet I not in equal measure thine to thee!

Finrod: [changing the subject without any finesse, lightly]
It would never have worked, in any case -- she wouldn't have had me regardless, even if she hadn't said that five hundred-odd children were enough for any Man.

Nerdanel: [chiding]
'Tis far from the fitting hour for japery, youngling.

Finrod:
Oh, I'm not.

[pause -- the Valinorean relatives look at him strangely]

She and her people expressed rather a dim view of us, I'm afraid. Something about the lunacy of those who thought of fighting as fun and spent so much time over weapons.

Fingolfin: [acerbic]
--Which, you must concede, is most curious when 'tis considered how their lives and livelihoods were thereafter safeguarded in their new homeland by those very weapons and warriors of ours.

Luthien: [aside]
And here I thought it was us. Won't Beleg be surprised--

[the Ambassador also starts to say something, but Finrod makes a pre-emptive quieting gesture]

Finrod: [to Fingolfin]
Well…in a very general way. For a while. And after you died they did a better job of defending the Crossings than what was left of your people -- or mine.

[blandly]

One thing which troubled them a lot, though, was the little bits and pieces they'd heard over the years about Elves fighting Elves and siblings pulling blades on each other.

[Fingolfin rests his forehead on his hand; his living relatives look rather told-you-so at this]

--But mostly the idea of just going looking for trouble in the first place, instead of away from it.

Captain: [rueful]
"I'm betting that's not much use for firewood, and it's mighty unhandy for a dinner knife" -- her opinion of swords.

Teler Maid: [curious]
Did she really say it like that?

Captain: [shaking his head]
No. I can't manage a Brethil accent properly at all.

Finrod: [very dry]
She also had definite things to say on the matter of living in caves, and people who were mad enough to do so. "Underground's for when you're dead, and I'm not yet."

[his relatives think about this, and the several implications of it, with the expressions of people who know they ought not to be amused at the amusing aspect because of the grim]

Warrior: [aside]
On the brighter side -- Nargothrond not overrun with swine and kine.

Teler Maid: [aside, with a dubious Look]
Ought I wish to know what these your words meant?

Warrior: [rueful]
--Long story.

Luthien: [curiously to Finrod]
Just how much did you leave out of that message to my father?

[pause]

Finrod:
I very much prefer it when your father isn't angry with me. While I can in no way foresee any of this getting back to him, I'd rather not take that slight, unforeseeable chance.

Luthien: [faint smile]
Hmph. That bad.

Finrod:
It was mostly a matter of style -- and the last time I saw her, following the resettlement project -- which Elu discreetly ignored without overt comment, at least to me--

Luthien: [raising her eyebrows]
You didn't notice him asking you how much faster than we, did mortals grow up?

Finrod:
I said "overt," remember? That was just him letting all know that no one was pulling a fast one on him, even if he wasn't going to haggle over every returning formerly-disaffected tribesman -- anyway, she conceded that he was a pretty good king, all told, as kings went, minding his own business and leaving peaceable folk in peace--

[the Doriathrin lord covers a smile at his words]

--and they really couldn't ask for better neighbors after all.

[biting his lip]

I just, ah, polished off a few edges: a herald is worthless who can't be trusted to deliver a message as given.

Steward: [dry]
One of several side benefits of serving as your voice, my lord, and not--

[he catches himself, with a quick glance at Nerdanel]

--anyone else's.

Finrod:
Oh, there were some pretty sharp comments I sent upriver from time to time, I seem to recall.

Fingolfin: [wincing]
Aye, as do I.

Steward:
But not of themselves scathing, saving as the truth hurts.

Finrod: [grim smile]
--Like that damnéd dam project I heard about fortuitously, before Fingon actually got started on his brilliant notion to turn my river into a moat around Barad Eithel. Downstream rights, what? The only worse thing you lot could have come up with was damming up at Ivrin.

Fingolfin: [patiently, as to a child]
It wouldn't have left Minas Tirith "high and dry" or even reduced the levels of Sirion by more than one part in the twelve--

Finrod: [cutting him off]
Well, that was your guess. You really don't know what it would have done. And it would have severely affected the marshes and silting along the main watercourse, regardless. I'm not going to get into this now, it's pointless, but I was right.

Fingolfin: [aggrieved]
You didn't have to threaten to have it brought to your sister's attention -- with a careful breakdown of exactly how long at the longest it should take for your messengers to arrive in Menegroth and she in Eithel.

[Finrod looks down and sideways at his erstwhile Herald with a quizzical expression]

Steward: [looking back innocently]
Thus I…polished your injunction to get up there as fast as I might and tell your "idiot relatives that if they dared dream of blundering about with the water volume--"

[Finarfin raises his brows, glancing at his elder brother, but doesn't interrupt; the Sea-elf stifles a giggle by main force]

--unless you -- or preferably engineers from Nogrod -- were supervising the plans, they'd find out that there were people with less patience and more power than even yourself. Since you had me ahorse and off before I knew whether I had my cloak on right-side-to or not, I was not entirely certain of whom in specific you were thinking, and since I dared not invoke Elu Thingol's power without consultation, nor Lady Melian, (nor dared detour so far as to make such query, nor without your permission) -- still less our great Lord without sign thereto, when for all I knew as yet this rumoured doing was even at his bidding--

Finrod: [snorting]
Oh, right, as if they'd even thought of asking him about it--

[at his uncle's Look]

Sorry.

[to his right-hand Elf:]

--Did I really send you off in that much of a rush? That was an awfully long time ago.

Steward: [shrugging]
I was obliged to purchase my dinners from fishing parties along the banks, at the cost of new songs, before I attained the Tower and so reprovisioning -- or provisioning, rather, so great was the urgency which you successfully conveyed to me, that I did not turn home to pack before setting out.

Captain: [blandly]
And here you were complaining earlier that I'd done your packing for you--!

Steward: [ignoring him]
--Where I also, as per your instructions, Majesty, picked up a sufficiently-impressive escort force from your brother (and a change of clothes) and 'twas there, over breakfast, that Prince Orodreth counseled me to invoke the Lady Galadriel when I reached the High King's castle, for such insult as was rumoured planned to your great-uncle's dear friend through his tributary would surely arouse the indignation of Elu's wife and her own friends, and as your loyal -- if independent -- agent abroad, your sister's duty might be bespoken without prior consulting. --Though I should surely face some pointed ironies, did necessity come to it and oblige me to convey the request to Doriath. But neither your brother nor I thought it a likely outcome, and I judged the advice sound.

Angrod: [incredulous]
You just threatened to sic Artanis on him, with no qualms whatsoever? On your own recognizance? That's a bit much, didn't you think?

Fingolfin: [wry]
Indeed.

Finrod: [shaking his head]
I don't know why everyone is so intimidated by 'Tari -- there are other people in our family with far less control over their tempers and less discretion!

Captain:
Well, actually, I think that's part of it, Sire -- that, and the fact that unlike some of her siblings, she does little-to-nothing to temper her power and try not to intimidate people around her.

Angrod: [piqued aside]
--I'm sure there was an insult in that -- or three.

Luthien:
Galadriel doesn't try to intimidate people!

Captain:
Exactly, my lady.

Finrod:
Neither do the lords of the Edain, by and large. It's the combination of absolute certainty that this is simply how things ought be done, convincing everyone else of it -- and managing to carry it off five times out of six so they stay convinced.

[Luthien frowns, troubled, but not having anything to say to this -- someone else does, however]

Ambassador:
Indeed, Majesty, one might deem them nearly equals of the Noldor, in that respect.

[long, long pause]

Finrod:


[the expectant pause continues, while people either look at Finrod or each other or the ceiling -- even Huan takes a break from demanding nose-scratching and raises his head with pricked ears to look at the youngest of the Kings present]

Finrod:
My lord, I -- concede your point.

[pause]

What?

[as everyone keeps looking at him]

There's nothing else to say -- except -- guilty as charged.

[this encourages another to make a sally at him]

Fingolfin: [very dry]
Did you not remark, my young nephew, that by his own admission your liegeman has averred him to hold your younger sister a greater than you, his liege? For your words were "those with more power than yourself" --and Galadriel his answer.

[Finrod leans over again and gives his friend an inquiring Look, full of low-key amusement]

Steward: [easily]
Indeed, 'tis true -- considering "more power" in the most narrow of senses, or else to say, who might by virtue of nature and ability and circumstance have been the ablest at accomplishing your set task -- even as the warrior on watch and wakeful has more power than one inattentive, notwithstanding though one be little more than a child and the other of many Great Year's practice. Power -- is a present and transient thing, resting with whomsoever wills to wield it -- I do not speak of potentiality, which some authorities term latent power, but which itself is subject to divisions of kind as in degree, even as set forth long ago by Rumil in "Of Modes and--

[Fingolfin raises his hands for silence, equal parts plea, command, and capitulation]

Captain: [regretful]
Too fast to stake a wager.

Angrod: [patronizing]
Uncle, you should know better by now than to start a duel of words with him. That's as useless as challenging Beleg to an archery contest -- oh, that's right, you never called on Menegroth, sorry--

[the brother and sister-in-law of the High King of Beleriand exchange deploring-but-amused glances]

Luthien: [unexpectedly taking Fingolfin's side]
Oh, give him a break -- at least your uncle was polite when he happened to think of us, unlike some of your family I could name but won't out of respect for the present company since everyone keeps snapping at me to stop being rude--

[she startles and looks down at the Hound, who is being a loyal canine friend and showing his emotional support in a traditional way by licking her foot]

Oh! Huan, stop that, it's disgusting even if you mean it kindly.

[she scratches his ears]

Teler Maid: [insistent curiosity]
Who? Who wasn't polite?

Nerdanel: [resigned]
Mine own offspring.

Luthien:
Anyway, getting back to my story--

[aside]

--and not conceding anything to anyone about anything--

[frowning]

--in retrospect, the part about that time that was truly strange was what didn't happen -- that neither my mother nor Daeron said anything at all for so long. --Did she know? It seems as though she must have, though she won't answer me about that. Daeron thought she did, he said so.

[outraged]

And he acted all perfectly normal to me and everyone, only being preoccupied, while it came out in this pall of silence that gradually filled up all around Menegroth and made everyone wonder what kind of weird supernatural phenomena was going on that summer. Except it was just his internalized gloom and guilt and angst smothering everything subconsciously.

[with an exasperated wave of her hand]

It's -- all so -- so sneakingly dishonest. Looking back on it all, after everything else that's happened -- I'd far rather have to deal with someone who simply wants to hurt me for uncomplicated selfish purposes, instead of justifying it as being for my own good, or insisting that I have to forgive them because they're miserable too, poor things, as if it wasn't their own faults.

[darkly]

I should have set my own conditions, called down Fate on my side, before going back home -- made them do some impossible task before I'd give in -- maybe then they wouldn't talk so lightly about how much they were suffering--

[the Ambassador bows his head in apology]

Finrod: [deadly earnest]
Don't even joke about such things.

Finarfin: [aside]
Nay, thus have they learned, most bitter and full, or Time hath sundered more than speech betwixt us!

[there is an awkward moment, with neither Luthien nor the Finarfinions quite knowing what to say, far less anyone else.]

Elenwe: [looking at Nerdanel thoughtfully]
--Thus the course of nature, that love should e'er will self's cessation, ere that of them belovéd -- but dark rumour, that hath entwined even through the 'stices of my dreams, though of's truth I ken nor more nor less than ye, hath muttered of a burning shame; whose occasion, for all that 'twas set upon that Shore that ne'er I saw, save as a shadow undersetting distant flame, was yet kindled on this side -- nor hath regretted it.

[the moment that follows this observation is even more awkward. Abruptly Huan lifts his head, with a few restrained tail thumps]

Huan:
[quiet almost-bark]

[Nienna's Apprentice comes in, alone this time again, his shoulders rather slumped and no spring in his step as he comes towards the dais.]

Finrod: [sharply]
I think they're all at the Mahanaxar now.

Apprentice: [glum]
I know they are. He took all the information over there because it made more sense than walking and wasting all that time -- and coincidentally, all the credit as well. I guess it isn't really important who gets it, but it still stings.

Finrod:
Then what are you here for?

[with a grimace and snort of restrained anger]

Couldn't you have mentioned
what you were up to before, so that we weren't completely blindsided by it?

Apprentice:
I -- what--?

Finrod: [flinging up his hands]
That you were gathering a dossier on Beren, what else?

Apprentice:
Oh. I--

[he looks at the Captain with worry]

Was that the sort of thing you wanted to know?

[the Ranger shakes his head in disbelief, while his commander sighs.]

Captain:
Yes. But--

[he looks at Finrod]

It didn't actually make any difference, one way or another, Sire. Not on the outcome of the debate. It just added details.

[to the disguised Maia]

Something concrete to be used against our efforts, or against our covert aim, that was very much the sort of thing you should have been bringing to our attention as a double agent. Unless it was utterly against your conscience to do so. But I think you were just naive.

Apprentice:
Used against…?

[he looks baffled and upset]
I thought -- that knowing all the facts about your friend in such detail would be a good thing, since everyone would be able to see the things I saw in our conversation, not just being a useless, incompetent oaf with an insolent mouth.

[hastily]

--Not my words. Curumo's.

Finrod: [to the Captain]
You're right. As usual. --Naive.

[he sighs]

So what are you doing here?

Apprentice:
I wanted to offer my sympathies to her Highness, it -- seemed appropriate, since my Master isn't present to to do so herself -- on the loss of your husband.

[he bows his head to Luthien]

Luthien: [dangerously]
He's staying with me. I know it--

[putting her hand to her chest]

--here. He'll come back.

Apprentice:


Finrod: [short]
All right, you've done that, so why don't you go now?

[Huan lifts his head and gives the youngest Elf-King a reproachful look]

Apprentice:
Actually, I was going to stay here and keep an eye on the stone again. There's nothing else for me to do now.

[he sits down cross-legged on the upper tier of the dais, close to the Thrones, and rests his chin on his hand, watching the still-quiescent palantir, quite oblivious to (or ignoring) Finrod's piqued, over-the-shoulder glare]

Captain:
Aren't you supposed to be looking after things generally for Themselves?

Apprentice: [shrugs]
After that screech -- which must have shaken windows all the way to Taniquetil -- and the shouting that followed it, everyone's showing remarkably good sense in having apparently decided to lay low for a bit, that now is not the time to be complaining to the Lord and Lady about someone looking at them sideways seventy-two years ago--

[from the hallway outside an angry voice can be heard raised and coming nearer quickly]

Aredhel:
Isn't there anyone here with authority? I demand to speak to Lord Namo -- at once!

[Fingolfin winces. The rest of the company exchange looks alternately bewildered, amused, or resigned]

Apprentice: [glumly]
Of course, there are always exceptions.

[the High King's daughter comes striding into the chamber and over to the dais, anger crackling all around her like wet wood on fire -- Huan lifts up his head, pricking up his ears, and wags his tail, but she ignores him along with everyone except the High King her father. Amarie makes an exclamation of disgust, looking as though this is pretty nearly the final straw, and very obviously refuses to grant Aredhel her attention.]

Aredhel:
Where are they? Why can't I find anyone? This is ridiculous!

Fingolfin: [pleading in the weary tone of one who knows it's useless]
'Feiniel--

Aredhel:
I refuse to put up with this any longer! I want an injunction against him! You do something about it, Father--

Warrior: [aside to the Fourth Guard]
He must have gotten her again.

[his friend nods]

Fingolfin: [patiently]
Daughter, I haven't authority over your husband -- I hadn't in life, and not in here either. Besides, you know--

[in the background Eol enters, the embodiment of cynicism in black armour, and comes up quietly to stand a little ways behind her, relishing the negative Looks from those who notice his presence.]

Aredhel: [cutting him off]
No, you just don't care about anything except your blasted board-games!

Nerdanel:
Niece, thou dost most discourteously disrupt thy kinswoman's tale--

Aredhel: [impatient]
I'm not talking to you.

[back to her father again]

--You're so insensitive and selfish! It's all your fault anyway: if you hadn't insisted on dragging us with you on your revenge quest, none of this would have happened, and I'd still be alive!

Angrod: [dry]
Really? You mean you'd have gone back with him if he'd joined my father at Araman? Because I seem to remember you saying we three were idiots for not taking Cel up on the offer of a ride -- not that we should have turned back from the Crossing.

[she lifts her head defiantly and ignores him, going right on]

Aredhel:
I'm going to insist that Lord Namo give me an injunction against him, and that he enforce it this time--

Eol:
Against you, you mean? You'll just break it again.

[she spins around and glares at him, while he just stands there with folded arms, head cocked to one side, sneering.]

Aredhel: [giving him a dark, undershot Look]
You--

[at a loss for insults, she clenches her fists as he chuckles]

Luthien: [to her other cousins]
Do they do this all the time?

[answering nods; Finarfin and Nerdanel exchange Looks while Aredhel's father sighs]

Soldier: [undertone]
--Six.

Second Guard: [same tone]
--Four. --Which?

Eol:
You know you can't stay away from me.

Soldier: [still quietly]
--Him. Love.

Aredhel:
Don't flatter yourself, Moriquendo.

[Fingolfin stares up at the ceiling, clearly humiliated but not able to flee in front of his brother and sister-in-law, far less his nephews.]

Warrior: [aside to his companions]
I say hate.

Finrod: [deadpan]
Isn't family a wonderful thing?

[Luthien stifles an edged snicker, as their relatives, living and dead, give them wary looks]

Eol: [maddeningly patronizing]
Let's just look at your record, why don't we, dear? What'll this be, number two-hundred-eighty-seven? Soon to be a double gross, in fact.

Aredhel: [savage]
Shut up.

Angrod: [getting annoyed]
I want to hear the rest of the story. --Not this rot again.

[the quarreling spouses ignore him]

Eol:
Why, if you'd only been able to control yourself, we might not be in this absurd mess you've gotten us into.

Aredhel:
I!?!

Eol: [smug]
Of course. You couldn't resist the thought of seeing me again, and so you put yourself in the middle of what didn't concern you.

Aredhel:
Didn't concern me?!

Eol: [haughty]
My son's punishment properly being my concern.

Aredhel: [furious]
He's more my son than he is yours, since you never cared to do your part while he was young -- you always had more important work to do--!

Eol: [getting really angry]
Don't start that again -- you kept parental authority to yourself with such jealous control, I hardly got to know him at all. Just another example of Noldor aggression, taking not only our land but our very children from us--

[the two lunge for each other's throats like predators battling over a contested kill--]

Huan:
[agitated barking]

[--but though they collide simultaneously the motive is not quite the same; Aredhel cuffs her husband so hard across the side of the head that he is staggered a little, but he is in the process of grabbing her to him in a passionate "Gone With The Wind" style kiss and isn't deterred. This clinch goes on for much more than an instant, with the White Lady showing no signs of pushing the Dark Elf away, while their audience reacts in a spectrum from embarrassed resignation to awed amusement -- the gamblers are rather nonplused]

Soldier:
Whoa, that's never happened before. I -- don't know how to call that one.

First Guard:
Me neither. Sir?

[they look towards the Captain, who only raises hands and eyebrows in bemusement]

Eol:
!!!

[he flings her off of him and himself away from her, his expression contorted in self-contempt]

--What Dark magic makes me unable to resist you, you sorceress?

Aredhel:
You spiderling -- how dare you--!

[she draws her sword and starts for him, her eyes blazing with fury; groans and expressions of exasperation from the Ten and their hereditary lords. Luthien stands up and scowls at her combative relations]

Luthien: [crossly]
All right, that's enough!

[there is a slight echo of power to her words, but the two stop and stare at her at once.]

Either go away now, or sit down, be quiet and stop acting like you're thirty.

[in the shocked silence, Elenwe gives a sudden laugh. Aredhel tosses her head angrily]

Aredhel:
You can't tell me what to do. You're not Queen here.

Luthien: [narrowing her eyes]
Funny, I seem to be doing it all the same. --Put that sword up now. And you--

[turning her attention to Eol]

--what is wrong with you, cousin? We always knew there was something seriously askew, but nobody dreamed you were a secret Kinslayer and slave-taker!

Aredhel:
Don't call me "thrall," you hick!

[Huan growls, while there is a collective wince from their onlooking families]

Luthien: [ignoring her]
Why are you so -- so messed-up? Did you swear service to the Lord of Fetters? What is it that makes you so Dark-hearted? You've got a lot to answer for, Eol!

Eol: [looking her directly in the eyes]
Ah, the little princess fancies herself all grown up, does she? Finally realized that the big world out there isn't all sweetness and light? The answers aren't as simple as Mum and Dad would like them to be?

Luthien:
Don't change the subject. You've done appalling things and you don't seem to have the slightest idea how horrible they are.

Eol: [his voice and stare mesmerizing, edged with power]
So little Luthien is still the know-it-all darling of Doriath…or is she? We've been betrayed, haven't we? Seen a few things we wished we hadn't, I fancy. --Learned that the people we trusted to have all the answers haven't the slightest clue, can't lead us out of the trap by its threads, and that there's no escape -- except being strong, and alone.

Luthien: [wry]
No actually, that's not the conclusion I came to at all.

Eol: [ironic & patronizing]
So you still think that everything's good, that "whatever comes is for the best," and the roaring chaos of the Sun is just as pleasant as the peaceful shade our land once knew -- and the people who brought it with them by their misdeeds?

Luthien:
I'm as much Eldar as you, Eol, and prefer the stars and moon to broad daylight. So does my husband, as it happens. But you never liked music. In all the years I remember you, you never once made any song. --Was there ever any harmony in your house, cousin?

[Aredhel smiles bitterly]

I've asked you questions, Eol. Don't try to put me off with your superior manner, I'm not impressed.

[he glares more fiercely at her, and she gives it right back]

Eol: [bewildered aside]
You're a child, and no mighty "Elf of Aman" Why isn't it working?

Finrod: [mildly]
Perhaps the fact that she's also half-Ainur has something to do with it?

[Eol and Luthien continue to match stares -- it is Luthien who is holding her elder kinsman now, very definitely, and his expression growing more and more strained under her fixed gaze.]

Luthien: [sad]
I'm sorry.

[tears are starting down her face again, but there is no uncertainty or weakness in her voice]

You should have asked for help.

Eol: [clipped]
I neither wanted nor needed your parents' pity.

Luthien: [matter-of-fact]
I wish I could help you.

Eol:
I won't take yours either, girl.

Luthien: [same tone]
I know.

[she releases him from her stare and looks at Aredhel]

That isn't how love works. You've got it all twisted up between you, like the things that live along the Edges of the Labyrinth. You've got to untangle this poisoned chain, or you'll never be able to love, either.

Aredhel: [scoffing]
As if you know anything about it!

Luthien: [calm]
Listen and learn, then, if you will.

[she sits down on the steps again, disregarding them; but although the couple glare warily at each other, like strange dogs circling for a fight, they do not go after each other again, but stiffly find places on the steps of the dais, far apart. Luthien is unconscious of the awed character of the silence that surrounds her on all sides as she resumes]

--Okay, where was I?

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.

Story Information

Author: Philosopher At Large

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: 1st Age

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 08/11/03

Original Post: 12/24/02

Go to Leithian Script: Act IV overview

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