Leithian Script: Act IV: 71. Enteract — Notes

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71. Enteract — Notes

There are two (perhaps three) reasons for dealing with the main actions of the Geste in this roundabout fashion. The first, most basic one is simply that there's no way (for me at least) to do it, that the contrast between the subject matter and the tone is too great.

Part of this, and possibly a separate reason in its own right, is the difficulty noted by The Professor in "On Fairy-stories" intrinsic in  converting fantasy to drama. Logically, it would seem that this difficulty would forbid the existence of the Script itself; but in fact there is very little that is fantasy, strictly speaking, about it. Aside from Huan's presence, the special effects are minimal, and mostly peripheral — could be largely done away with with very little rewriting and recasting into narrative chorus. It is character-driven drama, and the parts of it that are fantastic and not mundane, derive (or should) from the dialogue itself, and the images that those words invoke in the imagination of the audience. Little more disbelief should require suspension, either by work of stagecraft or by (heaven forfend) the audience, than in presenting a production of The Misanthrope or The Cocktail Party, were the Script somehow to be put on. By far the greatest part of the budget would be devoted to the sets instead of the effects; and even those could be sketchily evoked by a skilled production team, as I have seen done with an excellent student production of the Winter's Tale.

But that would not be possible, attempting to dramatize the several battles at Tol-in-Gaurhoth, or the Anfauglith with its transformation scenes, or the wizards' duel between Morgoth and Lúthien, or the Eagles, or the Hunting of the Wolf — those episodes are the imagery, and unless storyboarded,* simply cannot be presented in a scripted format. And so like Shakespeare in Henry V, I leave it to the combined skill of the Narrator and the audience's imagination to make "this glassy square" the contested places of Beleriand, whether the struggles be magical or mundane.

Finally — the ultimate reason for the Script's existence is to bring out that which is hidden, and thus illustrating the ramifications of the Geste, and the widening repercussions of the waves created by it, seems to me the most appropriate way of treating these episodes.

*No. Don't even start. That includes you, NovusSibyl.

Nargothrond:

This is the center of my characterization of Orodreth — this scene as drawn in both of the Lay fragments, each version of which has its own dramatic delights. Again, I feel rather badly, since I can't compare with the originals, which I'm simply translating out here with minimal invention: all the work is essentially done for me, I'm just filling in the gaps.

Very simply, Orodreth has to be the same person who on the one hand didn't argue strongly on his brother's behalf and who lost an undamaged command to the Enemy…yet who for centuries held a castle which was not simply a remote garrison but the capital of a province which controlled the only north-south corridor in Western Beleriand, through which all friendly traffic for much of the First Age was compelled to travel (the alternative being going across Ard-galen, down through Aglon, south through the east side of the subcontinent, then west along Doriath's southern borders to the seacoast, or the reverse — not very practical at all), who enjoyed a friendly relationship with the traitors prior to the coup, — and who, when presented a second time with the alternative of passive non-resistance to the status quo and cathartic violence, held against both strong influences with these words:

                "The kingdom now
        is mine alone. I will allow.
        no spilling of kindred blood by kin,"

when

        "Let us slay these faithless lords untrue!"
        the fickle folk now loudly cried
        with Felagund who would not ride.

In the second fragmentary version of the Lay, this scene is even more fully developed:

            To Nargothrond no more he came
        but thither swiftly ran the fame
        of their dead king and his great deed,
        how Lúthien the Isle had freed:
        the Werewolf Lord was overthrown,
        and broken were his towers of stone.
        For many now came home at last
        who long ago to shadow passed;
        and like a shadow had returned
        Huan the hound, though scant he earned
        of praise or thanks from Celegorm.
            There now arose a growing storm,
        a clamour of many voices loud,
        and folk whom Curufin had cowed
        and their own king had help denied,
        in shame and anger now they cried:
        'Come! Slay these faithless lords untrue!
        Why lurk they here? What will they do,
        but bring Finarfin's kin to naught,
        treacherous cuckoo-guests unsought?
        Away with them!' But wise and slow
        Orodreth spoke: 'Beware, lest woe
        and wickedness to worse ye bring!
        Finrod is fallen. I am king.
        But even as he would speak, I now
        command you. I will not allow
        in Nargothrond the ancient curse
        from evil unto evil worse
        to work. With tears for Finrod weep
        repentant! Swords for Morgoth keep!
        No kindred blood shall here be shed.
        Yet here shall neither rest nor bread
        the brethren find who set at naught
        Finarfin's house. Let them be sought,
        unharmed to stand before me! Go!
        The courtesy of Finrod show!'

        In scorn stood Celegorm, unbowed,
        with glance of fire in anger proud
        and menacing; but at his side
        smiling and silent, wary-eyed,
        was Curufin, with hand on haft
        of his long knife. And then he laughed,
        and 'Well?' said he. 'Why didst thou call
        for us, Sir Steward? In thy hall
        we are not wont to stand. Come, speak,
        if aught of us thou has to seek!'

            Cold words Orodreth answered slow:
        'Before the king ye stand. But know,
        of you he seeks for naught. His will
        ye come to answer, and to fulfil.
        Be gone forever, ere the day
        shall fall into the sea! Your way
        shall never lead you hither more,
        nor any son of Fëanor;
        of love no more shall there be bond
        between your house and Nargothrond!'

            'We will remember it,' they said,
        and turned upon their heels, and sped,
        saddled their horses, trussed their gear,
        and went with hound and bow and spear,
        alone; for none of all the folk
        would follow them. No word they spoke
        but sounded horns, and rode away
        like wind at end of stormy day.

I hardly had to do anything. It's all there in the original, and a little consideration of the geopolitics and alternatives, (along with first- and second-hand experience of sibling and group dynamics) unfolds the whole messy interpersonal aspect of the setup of the situation, leading stage by stage inescapably yet not with absolute inevitability to the prophesied Doom.

Doriath:

This scene, like the next, I had to build, and not merely re-present in modern unrhymed form; but the scene itself is merely gapfilling. The outlines of the unwritten cantos in LB describe the "meanwhiles" in Doriath, the sorrow at the flight of Lúthien, how "Thingol's heart was hardened against Beren despite words of Melian," and relate how during the unsuccessful search for Lúthien, Daeron splits off from the rest of the seekers and disappears, with only rumors left through history of him wandering far in the East, where his flute might yet be heard. Celegorm's embassy shows up, and the letter, and the ambassadors, are so obnoxious, stating that "Beren and Felagund are dead, that Celegorm will make himself king of Narog, and while telling him that Lúthien is safe in Nargothrond and treating for her hand, hints that she will not return," and also warning him against troubling the matter of the Silmarils, that "Thingol is wroth — and is moved to think better of Beren, while yet blaming for the woes that followed his coming to Doriath, and most for loss of Dairon." And so he prepares an army to invade Nargothrond.

Subsequently, however, things get even more complicated."Melian says she would forbid this evil war of Elf with Elf, but that never shall Thingol cross blade with Celegorm." The army sets out, but before they get too far they hit another invading Orc-host, sent out by Sauron in hopes of catching Lúthien, as the rumors of her wandering have reached the Enemy. Thingol's forces are victorious, and the King slays the Orc-chieftain himself, fighting with Mablung at his side.

(It is not clear whether it was the leader of the first Orc-raid, as in the completed portion, or the second raider captain, who was to be finally named Boldog, as in the outline; I'm going by the former, as that's the only instance where the enemy commander's name is relevant. I'm also going with the assumption that there were two raids, and that these were but the latest of many attempts on Doriath, not only on the basis of the LL fragments but also of the Lay of the Children of Húrin, where it is said of Sauron,

        Thû who was thronéd      as thane most mighty
        neath Morgoth Bauglir;      whom that mighty one bade
        'Go ravage the realm      of the robber Thingol,
        and mar the magic      of Melian the Queen.'

I also find it logical that these would be chronic attempts over the First Age, but significantly stepped up in the past decade following the breaking of the Leaguer and most particularly the acquisition of the Gaurhoth as forward regional command.)

"Though victorious Thingol is filled with still more disquiet at Morgoth's hunt for Lúthien. Beleg goes forth from the camp on Doriath's borders and journeys, unseen by the archers, to Narog. He brings tidings of the flight of Lúthien, the rescue of Beren, and the exile of Celegorm and Curufin."

This sentence is what I've expanded into the second scenelet of the Enteract — though much of the matter of it has indeed been made present already in Act III through Lúthien's warnings regarding the likelihood of such actions. It shows a far greater level of maturity, both in terms of strategy and restraint, than was shown by the Noldor under Fingon at Alqualondë, despite outrageous provocation — exactly what one would expect of a successful leader with many embattled centuries of experience — as well as the quality and loyalty of his people. There's no sense that there is anything terribly exceptional (aside from the fact that it would likely be impossible for any one else in Beleriand) about Beleg ghosting into the heart of potentially-hostile territory and staying long enough to hear all relevant facts so that Thingol will be informed enough to act as prudently as possible: he's "the chief of his scouts," it's simply his job.

Even though the Lay does not set out the familial connections between the House of Finwë and the sovereign of Doriath (which may well not have been fully defined at the time of its inception) the outlines make it clear that it is both offenses, and not merely that against Lúthien, nor the personal insult of it, which put Elu quite literally up in arms. "He is roused to wrath by the hints of the letter that Celegorm will leave Felagund to die, and will usurp the throne of Nargothrond," and there is an intimation of weregild in the demand for "recompense," in additionto material support in efforts to locate Lúthien, that was later sent to Maedhros et al as Thingol's considered response to the news. This is quite in keeping with the ancient views of kinship whereby siblings' children were (in ideal at least) considered to be no different from one's own; q.v. Théoden's adoption of his niece and nephew in LOTR. Plainly the friendly relations between the two Elf-kings, revealed in detail in Silm., (where after the revelation of the Kinslaying has blown over, as Thingol said it would, Finrod not only has his friendship, but the ability to persuade him against his inclinations and better judgement in the matter of the Haladin) are background, even as the Kinslaying, from the earliest development of Nargothrond as a City proper.

The increased demoralization of Doriath, which began with Daeron's revelation and the assigning of the Quest, and Lúthien's subsequent contagious despair, is inevitable, given the succession of losses and bad news; it also is in keeping with the interconnection of leadership and populace, and the complicit responsibility for bad decisions and consequent Fate in the ancient worldview.

Finally, Thingol's closing words are not incompatible with the statement in the outlines that "He renews his vow to imprison Beren for ever if he does not return with a Silmaril, though Melian warns him that he knows not what he says," in harking back to the earlier part of the Lay, when his first inclination is to execute Beren, and only the reluctant recollection of his promise prevents him. It is also in line with the ancient patterns of bad decisions progressively interfering with the ability to heed or perceive divine warnings, despite all best intentions, seen equally throughout the Silmarillion as the works of Aeschylus.

So while the specifics of the dialogue are my own devising, the substance and the scenario are entirely canonical.

Angband:

This third is the most conjectured, but no less necessary or grounded in canon. It is noted in HOME (I think it's in Shaping of Middle-earth) that Morgoth was mocked behind his back by the Orcs after his loss, and given the caustic and sullen attitude of the rank-and-file in LOTR towards Sauron, it isn't much of a stretch, I think, to guess how it would have sounded. It's also possible thus to reconcile the apparently contradictory statements in Silm that no songs were made about Fingolfin's Fall on either side, with the Lay's that "Orcs would after laughing tell" of the Duel — the answer being, —only when there was no chance of him overhearing! Dark Lords tend not to be the sort of easy-going commanders willing to turn an indulgent eye to such things as "morale checks" or the ribald songs that even Julius Caesar tolerated from his armies.

As for the substance of the griping — there's no guesswork about that at all. It's horribly yet hilariously clear that Sauron didn't make anything like a full, free, and frank disclosure of the circumstances surrounding the loss of his command. What he left out, and what he did say, can be reconstructed from the events that followed and the words of the Lay:

        Then his heart with doubt and wrath was burned:
        new tidings of dismay he learned,
        how Thû was o'erthrown and his strong isle
        broken and plundered, how with guile
        his foes now guile beset; and spies
        he feared, till each Orcto his eyes
        was half suspect. Still ever down
        the aisléd forests came renown
        of Huan baying, hound of war
        that Gods unleashed in Valinor.

            Then Morgoth of Huan's fate bethought
        long-rumoured, and in dark he wrought.
        Fierce hunger-haunted packs he had
        that in wolvish form and flesh were clad,
        but demon spirits dire did hold...
        From these a whelp he chose and fed
        with his own hand on bodies dead,
        on fairest flesh of Elves and Men,
        till huge he grew and in his den
        no more could creep, but by the chair
        of Morgoth's self would lie and glare
        nor suffer Balrog, Orc, nor beast
        to touch him...
        There deep enchantment on him fell,
        the anguish and the power of hell;
        more great and terrible he became
        with fire-red eyes and jaws aflame...

            Him Carcharoth, the Red Maw name
        the songs of Elves. Not yet he came
        disastrous, ravening, from the gates
        of Angband. There he sleepless waits
        where those great portals threatening loom...
        and none may walk, nor creep, nor glide,
        nor thrust with power his menace past
        to enter Morgoth's dungeons vast.

So, the reports — sent from a safe distance by airborne courier — clearly contained no mention whatsoever of Lúthien, and quite possibly none of Beren, but plenty about disguised Noldor warrior-mages, and most of all about Huan. After all, which sounds better?

    "We apprehended a dozen hostiles attempting to infiltrate
the DMZ disguised as our troops, and following routine
processing discovered that the mission was comprised
of not only one of the four top enemy commanders-in-chief
but also that rebel human we thought had been napalmed
a year ago. Subsequently the Valinorean Wolfkiller arrived
on scene in company with Target Number Two and the
two of them proceeded to sucker all my elite guard into an
ambush and me to surrender at fangpoint, following which
she used the information I had to give her to buy my life to
demolish the base. We haven't yet determined if the two
events were in any way connected, or what the adversaries'
rationale for the attacks was. Please furnish more troops
and a new HQ,"


or

    "An elite enemy strike team led by the CIC of Nargothrond,
disguised as one of our own units, and supported by the
Valinorean Wolfkiller, made a stealth assault in an effort
to retake the fortress. We took heavy casualties and
although I swiftly detected their presence, successfully
negated their mind-control attempts and survived personal
combat on both physical and magical levels, I was unable
to maintain control of the area and was forced to take
steps that ensured the complete destruction of the base,
thereby denying it to our adversaries. Unfortunately none
of the Noldor unit survived for interrogation, but we are
reviewing the after-action data and scrutinizing it to
determine the rationale and timing of the attack. I am
presently reorganizing my remaining forces in a secure
location and will personally report to you as soon as I have
avenged my honor and made the enemy pay for this."


The second summary is a whole lot more plausible-sounding, in every sense, and in Primary World terms as well, as anyone with any close experience of actual (non-Hollywood) military matters will aver. It's amazing what can be finessed in reports in terms like "routine replacements" or "inadvertent contact" — though the consequences, if and when the facts get out, can be far more unpleasant than owning up in the first place.

And this coverup worked both for and against Morgoth, because nobody outside Angband had any idea that Carcharoth had been rapidly force-grown as a fail-safe defense against the Hound of Valinor, which made for an extremely nasty surprise when discovered — but Morgoth had no idea that the most dangerous part of the equation was in fact that scared, unarmed, 1300-something Elven singer he'd been trying so long to acquire for personal as well as political reasons. Another example of the danger in getting what you've wished for…


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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