61. Scene V.xv
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
BELOVED FOOL: BEYOND THE WESTERN SEA
[there is a certain definite tension in the atmosphere, and a more alert aspect to all the listeners, which might be the consequence of recent events, or of those which are about to be reached in the story being told. Huan is hunkered down at the back, hard up against the footing of the Thrones, trying very hard to be as unobtrusive as possible for a horse-sized canine.]
Luthien: [in a frank, matter-of-fact tone]
The whole thing is very difficult to talk about, because it's very hard even to think about properly at this point. I can't sort out well what were my impressions then, without them taking color from the light of subsequent revelations, and I'm not the same person I was then, either--
--No, you're just a dead one, silly girl. You're still the same person.
Luthien: [with a controlled edge]
That wasn't what I meant, cousin. By the time we returned home finally -- long before that in fact -- it was--
--as if Luthien was another country, and Tinuviel someone who had lived there, once, but long ago and that land so far distant that it perhaps didn't exist and there could be no going back to there in any event.
So, as it happened, where we were when Huan caught me wasn't as far from the City as it seemed, but I'd no way of judging distances out there, away from Doriath where I knew the landmarks, and being carried on horseback instead of walking. I didn't know we were going so much slower than need be, until much later, and then I realized that they must have been working out their approach to dealing with Orodreth and everyone else that was part of the following of House Finarfin.
[with a very edged, lopsided smile]
They just forgot to take into account two other people.
Captain: [frowning to himself]
Now, why were they out there at all? That wasn't part of their normal preferred range -- what were they hunting up in the northern borders for, anyway?
Apparently there were a lot of Wargs up there lately. I don't know, I never saw any. But that's what people said, besides themselves -- when we got back to the City -- I mean, when they got back to the City and I got there -- everyone was asking them if there had been many this time and congratulating them on doing such a good job of defending the Realm.
[the Captain makes a disgusted sound and shakes his head]
Yes, well, the fact that I never saw a Werewolf in my travels made me wonder at first if they'd deliberately gone to intercept me, if they'd Seen me coming, but it seems there was legitimately an increased threat reported by the border patrols, and that was the reason for the hunt they were holding. But I did glean from things overheard and said carelessly, by them and by the guards from their following, that it was partly a deliberate decision to make a good showing, focus attention on how active and proactive the two of them were being -- as compared to Orodreth sequestered in his office and buried under stacks of parchment.
How was he doing, as far as you could tell?
Completely overwhelmed, from what I could see. --Now I really don't know how things were supposed to run, because I know you do them so much more different from Menegroth, but I definitely had the impression that even though things seemed normal on the surface -- not surface, you know what I mean -- nobody was starving, the City still had light and heat and there weren't any signs of want about -- that despite that, it was total chaos underneath and Orodreth was finding it quite beyond him to manage both your jobs at once.
[to the Steward, who is brooding over her words, leaning forward and putting her hand on his shoulder]
--My lord, don't agonize over feeling somewhat satisfied that your Work was finally recognized and appreciated, if too late -- your friends will certainly be doing it for you, and you're not pleased about it any more than about the cause of it.
[he looks somewhat surpassed at her perception and assessment and nods once in acquiescence]
I had hoped that by my according him authority in view of all, he would have had more confidence in doing what needed to be done. He's a very able administrator -- there were never any significant complaints, nothing beyond the usual grumbling on all sides that there never were enough resources or time to meet all expectations, or that expectations weren't being met to satisfaction -- in all the centuries he ran Minas Tirith for me.
Don't feel sorry for him, Ingold -- it was his duty to stand by you, not to take the easy route of non-resistance (again--!) and he doesn't deserve any pity if it turned out to be a tougher job than he'd anticipated.
Finrod: [very gently]
It's much more complicated than that.
[he is looking at their father as he speaks; Finarfin's countenance is as expressionless, and fragile, as a glass mask. Luthien looks over her shoulder at the Princes:]
Why do you blame Beren, and not him, anyway?
Because they don't want to think about one of us standing by and doing nothing to aid or defend the other. Easier to lay all the blame on those outside the family.
Don't speak for us -- you're not me!
[their sibling nods agreement]
All right. --What would you say different to what I said only now?
[they both look sullen, Angrod more gloomy, Aegnor more tense; but don't actually have anything to add as it turns out]
It's the same problem with facing the fact of their friends' complicity.
[it is Aredhel's turn to glare now as well, but she doesn't say anything yet]
Yet thou dost not hate thy brother?
Finrod: [shaking his head]
No. Oh, no. I understand Orodreth far better now. I admit I was very angry with him at the outset, and -- bitter, for quite some time thereafter . . . and it still twinges, now and then, the way old scars do -- but the anger died when I understood what he'd been up against, and why he couldn't face the thought of conflict again. He was right; I shouldn't have let him follow me from Aman.
[his father shakes his head in turn, very definite]
Nay. In that hour thou couldst no more have stopped him, from staying by side of thee his dearest friend, than I to hold ye back. And he did blame thee for his -- will, he did most assuredly to err.
[Finrod looks uncomfortable, but somewhat reassured]
The fact remains that he broke, and you didn't.
Finrod: [in a patient, we've-argued-this-before tone]
He fell back on a stronger position in order to save as many as he could from the Enemy, rather than stay, and die, and give to Sauron not only the Fortress but casualties we couldn't afford with it.
[before the brothers can raise any more objections]
I must aver that I hold still 'twould have been a better risk, had young Orodreth made the attempt I died in making, and hazarded his own life against that of his adversary, so that the loss of one where one's own side was losing might chance to take the head from the winners and make the field level, if not recover victory thereby.
[this gets him disturbed Looks from their living relatives]
Angrod: [contrarily defensive]
No, that would have been a completely wasted gesture, uncle, you know he isn't a warrior on a level with you or Fingon--
Aredhel: [not quite aside]
That's a very kind way of putting it--
We are interrupting our royal cousin's story once again. --Luthien, pray continue, if you please.
Well. At first I thought they just didn't believe me, and then I thought they couldn't because of some strange Dark influence over everyone's minds -- and then I didn't want to believe for a long time that they just didn't want to believe me. Afterwards I found out that most people were very uncomfortable having me about trying to force them to think about it, but I just thought it was surreal the way everyone was still having parties and enjoying themselves and worrying about trivial things -- and then they'd ask me why I was crying and wouldn't I like to dance perhaps?--!
Then there were some who were, as it turned out, laughing at me all along as I tried to wake the rest of the City up to the crisis.
[back along the dais, the Sea-elf whispers to the Captain, who nods affirmatively]
Nay, seek not to spare my soul from anguish, good Luthien, else thou must needs spend a wearisome longsome time thy tale a-telling, to periscribe all mentioning my sons their names.
[they exchange a look of regret and sympathetic understanding]
I wish I didn't have to.
Anyway, the whole time there is very confusing and strange. I kept getting lost, and everyone kept smiling -- in the politest way -- at the poor native girl, overwhelmed at being out of the woods for the first time. I was dazed, and sick, and felt like I was missing part of me, and I thought sometimes that Beren must already be dead and I was starting to fade, and other times it seemed like I was in some illusion gone wrong and couldn't escape from it--
[she is starting to fray a little again]
Amarie: [weary exasperation]
Nay, let not thy words to melt anew and drown thy tale its telling--!
Luthien: [pulling herself together]
I'm not going to start crying again. I'm just saying that it's hard for me to describe my adventures in Nargothrond, because half the time I don't know where exactly I was any more than I'm sure of what was going on, and a lot of it runs together as if it was the same but I know it wasn't, but I couldn't tell what time of day it was any more than I could tell where I was in relation to where I was -- had been, I mean.
We could construct a model of the City, if that would help, my Lady.
[Finrod gives him a tiny, amused shove]
Luthien: [smiling a little]
Well, it turned out that it was because my power had been taken from me and locked away so I really was only partly there -- as soon as Huan brought me back my cape I was instantly recovered, mostly, and I wasn't disoriented at all. I think I could have found my way out by myself, then, even without Huan's guiding me, but of course it was much faster with-- where is Huan, anyway? Has he gone off again?
He's up here, hiding, behind us, my Lady.
Luthien: [looking round]
What are you hiding for, dog? Why don't you come out here where we can all see you?
[Huan wags his tail, lifting his head from his paws to give her a canine grin, but doesn't get up.]
You don't need to be embarrassed -- all of us made mistakes, after all.
[more vigorous tail-thumps]
[but he still doesn't come to her]
All right, suit yourself.
Why don't you manifest your cape with you, here, by-the-by?
It didn't seem appropriate to show up showing off, or that's how it felt like it would feel, saying "I'm the one who knocked out Morgoth and don't you forget it!" It seemed -- hm, impolite, and as though it wouldn't be particularly helpful.
Though now I'm not sure it or anything would make any difference one way or the other.
[Finrod pushes her hair back where it has fallen in her face again and squeezes her shoulder consolingly, and she manages to give him a wan smile]
Curufin wanted to try to figure out military applications for it, I heard -- but that wouldn't have worked in the end, since there's only one of me, and Celegorm's whole purpose in taking it away from me was to keep me from leaving so that I wouldn't be in danger. So there would have been a collision, ultimately, there.
[as she makes this acerbic remark, Aredhel leans around and glares at her]
Of course, when I say "danger," that only refers to danger-outside-Nargothrond, not to danger from Celegorm becoming besotted with me and abandoning all Elven standards of decent behaviour in his attempts to convince me to return his affections--!
[Nerdanel closes her eyes briefly before returning her attention to her sketching]
What did you do to him?
No, the other you -- of course you.
I talked to him, listened to him, played chess against him -- I didn't use any of my power against him, if that's what you're getting at -- though that wasn't for want of trying! it just wasn't possible to awaken him from delusion when he wasn't deluded -- at least, not that way.
There must have been something else.
What are you talking about?
Aredhel: [scoffing laugh]
Well, obviously. Just look at you.
[shaking her head]
There's got to be some reasonable explanation for why a Noldor prince would be taken by an uncivilized, ill-groomed Dark-elven barbarian he'd never even met before.
[there are several suppressed "coughing fits" around the group at her words]
Sorcery's the only one that comes to mind.
I did at first wonder why the White Lady was ill-at-ease in her brother's City, but no longer.
[Luthien glances briefly at Nerdanel, who is completely preoccupied, to outward appearance, with copying the map of west Beleriand into her sketchbook and allows no flicker to cross her expression at the conversation's turns]
Luthien: [glacially slow]
You're saying it's my fault that Celegorm became obsessed with the idea of marrying me whether I wanted him or not and made that clear not only by word but by deed?
How, exactly, am I supposed to have done that? --And why would I want to? Star and Water, I only went with them because they said they were friends of Finrod and would help me rescue Beren.
Then there must have been some sort of misunderstanding on your part.
No, I don't think so. That isn't the sort of thing one can misunderstand. It's like being shot at repeatedly from no range at all -- in some circumstances you could explain away a stray arrow as a hunting accident, but not that one.
Aredhel: [getting still more definite]
He isn't that sort of person -- he's not an Orc, a monster, he wouldn't do that! Neither of them.
He might not have been the sort of person who would do that when you knew him -- but he certainly was then. And Curufin even Darker.
Then what made him that?
Luthien: [very deliberately]
I think killing people for gain or anger, and not dire necessity, changes you. Even more than hunting, or fighting in defense, does. I think that after you've done that, and after you've spent long enough justifying it to yourself, it becomes impossible to See anything properly. You become like Morgoth, and once that impossible abomination has become possible to you, and righteous to you, then there's no reason you can't justify anything else you want to do -- any kind of taking and tyranny is open, after that theft of another's body -- why stop at a different sort? Insight is useless at that point, I'd guess, because one's vision is too distorted to allow for accurate perspective.
[the Lord Warden of Aglon is shaking his head, but with a somewhat uncertain and dismayed look]
--That's why I stopped Beren from killing Curufin. The Enemy has enough servants as it is. I don't know that it would be impossible to recover from kinslaying, alive -- but it didn't seem advisable to find out.
[Aredhel is gathering herself to respond, but the Doriathrin lord breaks in first:]
But -- they weren't kin, then: he's mortal, and you two weren't -- wed, then.
If we were not akin, would we have fallen in love? There is as little distance between Men, and us, as between ourselves and the gods.
[Luthien just Looks at him with one eyebrow raised; he covers his face with his hands, embarrassed]
Amarie: [quiet but fiercely resentful]
Needs must ever boast thy divine descent, Daughter of Twilight?
Only when it seems relevant.
[Aredhel is about to start in on Luthien again, but her husband gets there first]
That's what you get for trusting the Noldor. Elu and I agree on that, at least.
How do you deal with the fact that you're partly Second Host yourself?
Eol: [ominously cold]
What did you say?
You know, about--
[Aredhel breaks in before he can answer]
He doesn't. He won't talk about his parents at all. I only know because I got it out of his servants eventually. --It is funny, isn't it?
Eol: [turning his anger on her]
Who was it who told you? I swear, I'll--
--You'll what? We're dead, in case you hadn't noticed, idiot.
Is that why you hate the Noldor so much? Are you jealous because you think you ought to have been one of them? Or is that why you're so afraid of love, because it made your father stay when your mother was helping to look for Dad? Or both of those, I suppose both could be tr--
[her kinsman sits forward, his eyes blazing, all his cool carelessness gone]
Eol: [quiet menace]
Luthien, stop talking now.
Luthien: [looking at him with disbelief]
Um -- no?
Luthien. You are a child, and you will keep silent among your elders.
Luthien: [smiling sadly]
Eol? That doesn't work. I'm not one of your dysfunctional followers who are willing to put up with your eccentricities for the sake of stable employment and security.
[he grimaces at her, helpless to overwhelm her with his hypnotic aura, and subsides, aloof and haughty, while Aredhel smirks]
Angrod: [shaking his head in disgust]
'Feiniel, why did you marry this loser?
Don't talk to my wife, Outlander.
Aredhel: [to Eol]
I'll talk to whomever I like, Master Smith! --Especially my kin.
[to her cousin]
Don't talk about my husband that way, do you hear me?
Aegnor: [almost pleading]
But 'Feiniel, why, why on the gods' green earth would you choose to take up with some repressive, antisocial, deranged hermit who's always telling you what to do? --And not to do?
Elenwe: [to Finrod, wry]
Dost not wish thou'dst chosen to abide most peaceably 'neath trellis by fountain's edge, in this its stead?
Aredhel: [raising her voice]
That's not how it was, you don't know what you're talking about--
Aegnor: [going on regardless]
It's almost as if you've been brainwashed except you act like yourself in every other way, only more so. It just doesn't make sense to anyone who knows you.
That much peace and quiet, I fear, would drive me crazy--
Though who'd notice -- especially in present company?
Aredhel: [turning to snap at him]
--Ingold, stop acting superior.
[the dead High King looks at his living counterpart]
Shall we go for a walk, my brother, while our children bicker, and see all that there is not to see here, until they have sorted it out for themselves?
Aredhel: [jabbing her dagger into the step for emphasis as she speaks]
You're all judging everything from the outside, and you don't understand.
Eol: [flatly, arms crossed as he leans back on the steps]
You think you'll ever convince one of your people of anything? Trust me, it isn't going to happen.
Finarfin: [bemused, to his sibling]
Was e'en so, deemst thou, for our own parents in that former Day? Such wearisome dismay at folly?
What folly, -- parent of Finrod? For I seem to recall that you were ever busy pouring oil upon troubled fires, while we elders kindled them, you all the while blowing on coals in effort to put them out.
[his younger brother winces -- but with a grin of mutual comprehension, though some of the Ten look a bit nervous at the interchange of jibes between Finwe's sons.]
Angrod: [getting more and more exasperated]
Cousin, you never could stand to have anyone telling you what to do.
As a matter of fact we think that's part of it.
You see, since no one was ever willing to demand anything of her, nor to insist on her compliance in any regard -- or to, what's the phrase, "stick with it"? -- when they did try, it became uninteresting to her, and the continual pushing of boundaries began to find someone who would -- and that's what she found in Master Eol here, someone who wouldn't give in to her, wasn't impressed by her birth or skill or adventures, and who would insist on things. And that makes him very fascinating to her, as well as a challenge to overcome.
[gesturing with his hands animatedly]
So she can't just walk away from him -- it isn't only that they're soulmates, it's a kind of magnetic thing where sometimes they pull together and sometimes they push apart, you see. --That's what my Master thinks, at least, and Lord Namo tends to agree, though of course nobody except them can be sure, and not even them probably, given how oblivious they are to everyone else's feelings but their own. Even each other's, except as one manipulates the other by them. --Though the Weaver thinks they're just selfish brats who deserve each other, and that she's as stubborn and self-destructive as Miriel without any of Miriel's excuses . . .
[he trails off -- Aredhel is glaring at him with a very lethal expression, while the rest of her family look carefully elsewhere, except for Eol, who seems caught between wanting to laugh at his wife and to explode with indignation; the disguised Maia glances around at the Ten, concerned.]
That wasn't a very diplomatic thing to say, was it?
[the Captain shakes his head solemnly]
--Threnody! When will I learn to keep quiet sometimes?
[Aredhel stands up, sheathing her dagger with a snap]
Aredhel: [setting her right hand on the hilt of her sword]
If you're going to talk about me in such an insulting fashion, infant, you're going to give me satisfaction for it.
I don't think I'm supposed to get into fights with the patients while I'm supposed to be keeping the peace.
Aredhel: [tossing her head]
I'll be happy to trounce you regardless.
Aglon: [looking more cheerful at last]
This is going to be good.
Apprentice: [same bland tone]
I'm pretty sure, however, that I'm allowed to defend myself if I must.
[with a dangerously-pleasant smile]
I'm willing to chance being wrong and a reprimand.
Captain: [reluctantly to Aredhel]
Highness, I really wouldn't if I were you -- he's not half bad, and you haven't any real combat experience against armed opponents, either.
Aredhel: [whirling on him]
How dare you insult me that way!?
Captain: [raising his eyebrows]
How is a fact an insult?
Ingold! Make your people stop slandering me -- I am not a Kinslayer!
Fourth Guard: [aside to one of his comrades]
How can she say that?
She believes it.
Captain: [with a very askance Look]
I was talking about the giant spiders, Princess. I don't think they've developed tool-using skills, at least. --Though it is interesting that you assumed I was talking about Alqualonde, when actually I was trying to spare you from being badly thrashed.
[the Lord Warden of Aglon gives him a dubious frown at that last statement]
Fourth Guard: [getting louder as he gets more agitated thinking about it]
But how? --Denial about the fighting, or that we're all kin?
[his friend nods]
The latter, I think.
Aredhel: [turning aggrievedly to face the dead High King]
Father! Make them stop it!
Fingolfin: [edged patience]
'Feiniel child, you know I can't do that. I could request that they cease, and your cousin's folk would very likely honour that for their kindness to me, but I cannot bind any spirit here to anything. My kingship here is entirely honorary, and I have no power here whatsoever.
You're the best warrior in the Halls.
Fingolfin: [very stern, approaching angry]
You wish me to fight those who utter only the truth, and punish them for that? Daughter, I am ashamed for you.
See, my dear? Not even your own family wants you about. You should have stayed with me, I'm telling you -- again.
Shut up, Orc-spawn!
Now I never called him that, but I get in trouble with her for being rude to him.
You shut up too. --You're nearly as much of a Dark-elf as he is, anyway.
Ambassador: [shaking his head]
It really is a good thing that your father's marchwardens refused to bring her into the Kingdom, I must say, my Princess, given such violence and recklessness of nature -- can you imagine what would happen at a banquet with her in attendance?
Luthien: [trying very hard not to laugh but failing]
That isn't very kind, but you do have a point--
Elenwe: [to Amarie, wonderingly]
I do vow, she hath full so froward a temper as Lord Osse in his ragings.
[Amarie checks, not wanting to agree with the rebel Vanya, but fighting a smile and losing]
[the Noldor princess is half frantic with anger and hurt feelings, beset on all sides and unable to fix on a target to vent her fury upon]
I hate you all!
[her husband shakes his head pityingly]
Haven't you realized yet that I'm the only person in the entire world who's willing to put up with you, my love? Though--
[with a partly-feigned bewilderment]
--I'm really not sure why I do.
Aredhel: [voice shaking with rage]
Oh, you are truly going to regret that--
[she starts towards him, stalking through the map which curls about her ankles like mist before re-coalescing]
Many, many, many years now, my own, many years--
[as she stomps up to where he is reclining lazily, reaching as if to drag him upright by the gorget of his armour, he sweeps her ankles out from under her with his own foot and jumps up as quickly as she does, recovering, and both of them draw their swords. Before anyone else can interfere, Luthien also springs to her feet, very agitated, and shouts at them:]
Stop it! Stop mauling each other and listen!
Eol: [mock sincerity]
Ah, Melian's daughter is going to bestow some of her vast wisdom and understanding upon us -- my, what have we done to be so blessed?
Luthien: [ignoring his rudeness, passionately]
You could have chosen to be awakened by her to a world so much wider and brighter than Nan Elmoth and your heart.
You could have chosen to learn stillness and contemplation of things you'd thought beneath you, from him, for your part. Both of you could have striven to heal each other's lacks, and been strong where the other was weak or wounded, and grown -- but instead you stayed where you were, giving nothing, grinding and tearing each other down like the Enemy's minions--
Aredhel: [snarling, starting towards Luthien]
How dare you -- you apologize to me, you barefoot savage, or I'll--
[Luthien raises her hand, palm outward, towards the Noldor lady]
Luthien: [her voice echoing loudly with power]
[Aredhel is stopped in her tracks -- as Eol moves forward, his kinswoman lifts her other hand and makes him halt as well. As she speaks the following lines in an icy declaration, the memory of her shadowcloak appears around her, the folds stirring like finest silk in a restless draft. They cannot interrupt her, or even look away.]
--Well-matched indeed are you, who have neither hope nor mercy in your love, but only selfishness and greed.
Lady, rest now from your discontent and have peace, for so long as you will--
--And you, kinsman, from the memory of your grievances, in hopes that you may learn grief instead--
[before her upraised hands they vanish, both wearing near-identical expressions of disconcerted astonishment. As she seats herself again her cape disappears once more; her matter-of-fact attitude markedly in contrast to the others around her, particularly the dead, though only two give any audible sign of surprise -- most are simply too shocked to do more than stare, though a few among the ghostly following of House Finarfin look somewhat smug.]
[short surprised bark]
[wide-eyed, looking at the Captain]
Was that what you meant, when you said 'twould soon be better sport than setting a sudden blaze about her knife?
[he nods once, solemnly]
--But how did you know that would follow . . .
[she trails off, frowning thoughtfully at the Doriathrin princess; on the other side of the steps the Princes look at each other]
How can she do that?
[his brother only shrugs, as astounded; to their eldest, rather manically:]
Ingold, you can't do that -- why can Luthien?
[Finrod only shrugs in turn; when Aegnor addresses his cousin it is warily and very respectful, now]
Luthien, how did you do that?
That's my power. That's what I do. Dreams and visions and healing, all mixed up together. It's easy, once I figured out how to focus it.
[the Princes look at each other with rather wild expressions and not a little dismay, and are very quiet]
But where did they go?
I was going to say that.
Wherever they wanted to be most. I didn't pry.
That's -- what my Master does, only -- you did it rather differently.
[she raises her hands, deprecating his praise]
That's the only way I know how. It wasn't that hard -- by comparison, at least; the part of them that was crying out for help wasn't very deeply hidden.
[there is still a distinct awe over the gathering, if not unmixed with resentment in some quarters]
Twelve feet tall -- and a battle-aura brighter than his--
[he nods towards his uncle, and Luthien elbows him lightly, trying not to smile]
Fingolfin: [softly, but very earnest, to Luthien]
--Thank you, your Highness. --Would you be so good as to continue in your reminiscences, if it please you?
[she nods, pausing to reflect a moment]
Nerdanel: [managing a dry, if somewhat brittle, humour despite all]
Nay, belike thou'lt have thee something less of interruptions, hereafter.
Luthien: [straight-faced innocence]
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