66. Scene V.xx
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
BELOVED FOOL: BEYOND THE WESTERN SEA
[Elsewhere: the Corollaire]
You're not saying as much, but for some reason it's making more sense when you explain these things to me.
Of course. My family means well, but sometimes they can be a bit overwhelming. And you're mine, so naturally you understand me more clearly.
Beren: [gesturing widely at the distant eastern horizon]
The thing I still don't understand is how anything good can come out of what Morgoth does. It would be nice to think that in spite of himself he ends up doing some good, even if it doesn't make up for the rest, but I don't see how that's possible, 'cause all he does is destroy stuff and hurt people.
The best way I can explain is to tell you a story. --And yes, it's real.
[he grins, abashed]
Once there were creatures in Middle-earth like pigs, but different. And the King's greedy brother stole them from the Lady who owned them, while they were foraging on the plains for food, because he said they were on his property. And he turned them into monsters, and made them bigger, and gave them round flat feet, and made their tushes as long as spears, and sent them back to trample on her gardens and dig up the roots of them and knock over the trees she had planted there.
How did he do that?
I'm afraid I can't tell you.
Mysteries of the gods. I understand.
No, you don't. That's the trouble. I would if I knew how, but it's so different from anything in your life, from your perspective, that I don't think it will make any sense.
Can you try?
Yavanna: [slight frown]
Yes, but I don't know that I'll be able to succeed. --Do the words "transposable element-induced
mutations" convey anything to you?
That's what I was afraid of.
[pause -- slowly]
You know about breeding ungulates, right? How you can change the herd by coupling the hardiest, or select for more milk, or heavier coats, or smaller horns, or calmer temper?
Like cows and sheep and goats, right? Are they like -- ungulants? Because I don't think we have them back home. Since obviously you're not talking about spiders.
Yes, you do -- that's what they are, all of them. And others as well. It means the ones with hooves, not paws.
Yavanna: [tossing her head, dismissive]
Silly word, really. I know what they are, and they know what they are, but it means so much to the Eldar to be able to organize them with names. Anyhow, Melkor did something like that to them, only because he's a god he can do it far more effectively and in ways that would never occur to most people to think of -- thankfully! -- but it takes a very long time, even for us, to change things, and while he was so pleased with himself for making creatures that could destroy my trees, he completely missed something else that was happening at the same time.
[she smiles, rather scarily -- her tone is triumphant]
They became wise. They live in tribes, of a sort, now, and they have lore of a fashion, and they teach their young to mind the old ways, and the oldest females are always their leaders. And they do knock down and eat trees, but they also make it possible for many other creatures to live, on them and around them and because of them. So -- those ones are still mine, even though he tried to take them away from me.
You did that? You -- can do that?
Of course. But not the same way. Not as you're thinking of it, like that game your friends are so mad for, the one with little bits of stone -- as though Melkor moved one, and then I moved another to counter him. And it isn't just me, either. It's all of us.Nia and dear Este and Tav', and my kinswomen, Vana and Nessa and little Melian, and my husband, and Irmo and your friends Tulkas and the one you've never met, but know as well as me, Ulmo, and his people, and Vaire, Namo and Manwe and Varda, and all of us, everywhere, the ones you know of and the ones no Elf or Man has ever guessed at.
You mean the Song.
It pours out across the emptiness, and he tries to block it, and he can't -- all he can do is hold it for a little, or change it from what it was trying to be, but it's like trying to stop a river -- only instead of a river, it's the whole ocean.
[he is frowning]
Have I made things hopelessly confusing?
Beren: [quick headshake]
No -- not really. What -- When you said "trees," you weren't thinking about orchards or hawthornes or junipers, were you? Small trees?
[she shakes her head in turn]
That's…what I was afraid of. --What kind of trees?
I don't know what names have been given to them -- but they're probably most like oaks, of all the ones you're familiar with, though the roots are different. But they look somewhat like a particularly thick-boled and gnarled oak tree.
But -- not that tall, right?
Oh yes. Easily.
With their foreheads.
How big are they?
[the Earthqueen shrugs]
[wide-eyed, he doesn't answer, except with a quick shiver, and an appalled smile -- she looks at him curiously]
What are you thinking?
[for some reason this embarrasses him]
Oh. I -- I was -- and this is just, um, hypothetical, even if it wasn't anyway already, because I don't want to, you understand -- but -- I was wondering how you'd go about taking one. Sorry.
Yavanna: [not offended in the least]
But of course. You're his also. You could hardly help but wonder about it.
Beren: [frowning still more]
--Mostly about what you'd do with it after. A whole village could hardly eat an animal big enough to plough over an oak tree like it was a shrub! And you couldn't make it into hams, either, not easily. I'm just croggled thinking about the technical problems of skinning something as big as a cottage. And what would you do with the bones? Make houses out of 'em?
[she looks pensive for a moment]
Ye--es, I believe they do.
You mean -- somebody has?
Your people are very stubborn. And ingenious.
Yavanna: [raising her hands]
Hunting is not my Art. I gather it's quite dangerous, however it's done, and often the price is the hunter's life, so it isn't frequent -- a dire emergency, when the certaintyof famine makes the likelihood of sacrificing a leader worthwhile. --Which is a fair bargain.
Okay, what I really want to know is, where do they live, and is it any way near Beleriand, or could they get there? Because this is really scary, even if it doesn't affect me directly.
[she shakes her head, amused]
They only thrive where it's hot all year round -- that's where they were made for, since things grow there without a break. It's very far from where you lived -- beyond several Barriers, and a long ways south besides. And it's very unlikely that they would ever cross a Barrier -- they're not designed for climbing, but crushing, and they haven't much interest in traveling out of their own lands. --Another thing he failed to notice until it was too late.
[the Earthqueen sounds very smug -- Beren gives a relieved sigh.]
That's good to hear. I guess if it were different they could've used them to knock down the Nightshade instead of trying to burn me out.
You know, I'd still kind of like to see one. From a safe distance.
I wonder if you could domesticate them…and what you'd do with them if you did, and how you'd feed them.
[looking at her wryly]
Now I'm trying to think how big of a barn you'd need to put them in.
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