72. Act IV - Notes
And now we come to the closure and the summation of the whole bizarre project, the resolution that made all the preceding continuations possible,
because I couldn't figure out a way to make it work at first until I realized that I could tell it in retrospect and completely change the tone and focus without it being inappropriate (at least in theory.) Some readers have
understood the subtitle, and have been horrified at the prospect, to which the only answer I have been able to make is, "Yeah, me too."
There are a few brief remarks that need to be made at the outset. First of all, there are a few devices in the technical sense that allow
this to work, which are not strictly canonical. The dedication at the opening, to Lucian and TSE, is not thrown in for looks. In fact, those who know
those authors well might feel some trepidation at those lines as much as at the "disclaimer" that follows them. Eliot invited the Furies home to dinner after a disastrous vacation cruise in The Family Reunion, and Lucian needs to be more widely read throughout the science fiction and fantasy world for having gone far above and beyond in his pursuit of mythological accuracy, visiting Hades to interview Charon and his passengers, ascending to Olympus to interview Zeus himself, and sailing beyond the Gates of Hercules to find Homer himself on the Blessed Isles and ask him that that burning question in an attempt to solve the great literary controversy
— what deep meaning was there in the opening lines of the Iliad,
"Sing, goddess &c"—?
As Homer, in the True History of Lucian's impossible journey, replies over a glass of nectar, that it just happened to pop into his head,
you can gather that his take on the myths in these metafics is somewhat less than ponderous. Riddled with bad puns and biting social commentary, you do not want to read Dialogues with the Dead or Dialogues with the Gods while eating or drinking anything. And Fishers, where the great Philosophers are given a travel-pass by Hades so that they can come up from the Underworld and beat Lucian up for parodying them in his Auction skit, is both hilarious and a great consolation to any student afflicted by academic pomposity.
What has all this to do with Arda? Well, aside from Lucian being practically the patron saint of fanfiction, there's a more than good chance that Tolkien was familiar with his work, being after all a classicist. In fact, it's quite possible that C. S. Lewis who makes use of one of Lucian's devices
and refers to him in The Great Divorce, was introduced to his work by JRRT. And the alternation of flippancy and earnestness is very similar
to the tone of Farmer Giles of Ham, or the dry asides and comments
on the foibles of Shire-folk. But it is not mere mockery, his parodying,
because it provides not only a refreshingly unponderous take on the classical
myths, but also in doing so provides insights into those very legends and
distant figures. —What would it have been like to be Hera, coping with
having Ganymede around the palace, or Paris, being bribed by three Immortals
to fix the judging of a beauty pageant, or the Gatekeeper of the Underworld,
dealing day after day with clueless arrivals who haven't yet realized that
being a famous sports hero Upstairs doesn't mean anything now?
In his interview with Zeus, Lucian notices a complicated amplification
system built into the King of the Gods' study, which proves to be a sort
of prayer-filter, through which the petitions of mortals can come to his
attention. This, and the subsequent discussion of which pleas are answered,
and how, has its reflection in my own device of the Loom. As a device,
it serves a more important purpose than merely being a humorous modernism
— it allows for information to be conveyed in the context of the story
both plausibly and without endless expository dialogues, making it possible
to get to what (I think) are the more important problems. Other solutions
throughout (no specifics for spoiler reasons) which may seem no less dubious,
are also borrowed from Lucian , but can at least be justified if not proven.
(Surely you didn't think the Norns wove with ordinary wool? nor even a
But the most important things (and many of the minor ones as well) can
all be backed up with HOME textual citations — even some of the more surprising
ones. (All of which will be marked in these Notes as appropriate.)
You may also have noticed that there is an homage to old movies, of
which I am a long-time fan, in the noir setting, and the casting of the
Powers. As always, I cast by voice and presence — performers who
have and thus can convey the necessary ranges of strength and nuance, not
merely pretty faces; though again, as always, these are merely my own choices,
and as with any play other casts might be assembled. Obviously this
episode is impossible to stage — though if it weren't, this is where the
special-effects budget would go — and so can only exist in the interface
between "this glassy square" and the readers' imagination. But if it were
to be done (and likewise the entire Script) ideally it would be animated
by a collaboration of the greatest animators, (personally I favor Matsumoto
and Miyazaki) working under the direction of, yes, a Disney artist — the
late, incomparable Kay Nielsen.
It's true: the renowned illustrator — and set designer! — was for a
time employed at Disney's studios, though the only surviving work of his
which actually made it to the screen was the very brief scene at the end
of Fantasia, where candlebearers process into a cathedral to the
"Ave Maria" a sequence which instantly made me think of Nielsen when
I first saw it, without knowing he was actually responsible for it. He
had, however, been working on sketches for a "Ride of the Valkyries" sequence
— and a Little Mermaid feature length film which would not in any
way have resembled the one which was eventually released. Alas, they didn't
happen. But we can imagine what might have been, and since Nielsen was
responsible for popularizing "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," I'd like
to have him helm this production too. (Coincidentally, the famous "Sorcerer's
Apprentice" sequence in Fantasia is taken from an episode in one
of Lucian's narratives, brooms and all.)
Finally, — does it work? It may prove to be an impossibility which should
not have been attempted. this endeavor to steer between the Scylla of mawkishness
and the Charybdis of buffoonery, whilst evading the Clashing Rocks of Canonicity
and Artistic License. Nevertheless — Excelsior!
Oh, and the title? It comes from Lúthien's own description of
Beren, to his face, in a moment of extreme exasperation — the point at
which he is just about to set off on his own to infiltrate Angband, when
she and Huan have finally caught up to him. That passage, from Canto XI
of the first Lay of Leithian fragment, is key — to understanding
not only Lúthien's character, and not only the Lay itself, but also
the entire Arda mythos. And I don't think I'm exaggerating.
"this glassy square" — Gower's speech recalls the intrusive reminder
of the physical setting of the play during the narration of Henry V,
which the theatre is called "this wooden O" and the audience requested
to imagine the fleets of sea-going ships, the cannons being loaded,
the horses and royal panoply of war which 16th-century special effects
units couldn't provide — which, by making such an acknowledgment, that
this is only a play, and a mere homage to events, and nothing really
like, allows the process of suspending disbelief to proceed with an untroubled
"Ainulindalë" and "Valaquenta," in the vernacular: I make
no real apology for the informality and down-to-earth characterization
of the Valar, jarring though it undoubtedly is. After all, the formality
and reverential tone in which their doings are recorded is a necessary
aspect of celestials' doings being apprehended by younger, more limited
beings — but that doesn't mean that that is how they appear to themselves.
On the contrary: the glimpses we get of them "up close and personal" together
with remarks like that in Ainulindalë to the effect that it's useless
going to Tulkas for advice, since he's preoccupied by the present
and doesn't take the long-range view at all, suggest a lively and somewhat
uninhibited bunch, far from stodgy, who don't necessarily behave in the
way that younger races would consider appropriate for deities.
It isn't just that their own original language, invented for use in
a material dimensions, was considered harsh and "like the glitter of swords"
by the Elves of Aman, who endlessly refined theirs to make it more melodious.
After all, the one Power we get to know quite well in Tolkien's
writings is pushy, impatient, sarcastic, appreciative of good food — and
drink! — and lamentably given to practical jokes, like leaving "Burglar
for hire" signs on the doors of unsuspecting homeowners, or making terrifying
pyrotechnic special-effects to shake up a tipsy bunch of partygoing townsfolk…
The reference to the Eagle is a dual one — yet I think the secondary
reference must have been intended by the author as well, and not really
original to me. In the original texts from which the published Silmarillion
narrative of the Geste was harmonized, it is mentioned (HOME:Lost
Road & Shaping) that there were stories that she came alive
to Mandos, either by crossing the Ice alone, herself, westwards (!) or
that her mother had summoned one of the Eagles to carry her while she was
dying over the Sea in a belated gesture of unselfishness, in the hopes
that her daughter might be saved there; however these possibilities were
discounted as unlikely even by the tellers, and the most probable that
Lúthien in fact actually died, "fading" in the words of the various
versions, out of grief, and went to Mandos in the usual manner, "down those
dark ways that all must tread alone." (LT2, "The Tale of Tinúviel")
The reference to her travelling west via Eagle, however, is oddly reminiscent
of another particular class of European folk-tales, most famously represented
by "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," with which Tolkien was of course
quite familiar. One of the sequences in this variant of the "Mastermaid"
stories is the heroine's journeying through rugged mountainous lands, finding
unexpected assistance, and when confronted with the need to make an impossible
journey to the ends of the earth, across the sea, is aided by either the
Winds themselves or by the King of the Eagles, who carry her to her destination
and the rescue of the ensorcelled, sleeping, prince who is her long-lost
husband. (There is something oddly familiar about that last, isn't there?)
So I have played with, or paid homage to, both sources with the
suggestion that Lúthien must in fact struggle to reach the abode
of the dead — and this too is not mere supposition on my part, based on
world mythology and the preceding texture of the story, which has been
far from easy on our heroine, as in one of the outline-drafts for the "lost
cantos" of the Lay of Leithian, it speaks, following the lines, "the meeting
and farewell of Beren and Tinúviel beneath Hirilorn. Burial of Huan
and Beren," of the "Fading of Lúthien. Her journey to Mandos."
That it is described as a journey, and intended to warrant a
descriptive section in the canto, indicates to me that it was not
an easy jaunt. Eagles and other great birds have always been seen as spirit-messengers
and bearers of the dead to the realms of immortality (q.v. the sculpted
images of various Roman emperors being shown in apotheosis) in every culture
around the globe; while the idea that Lúthien's Maiar side might
take over while she was unbodied, leading to all kinds of distractions,
has its inspiration in part in the distractibility of immortals by the
natural world demonstrated by Voronwë in UT, "Of Tuor and his
coming to Gondolin" — which would, as Silm. describes and Act IV
shows, be exacerbated for those who are not only immortal but Immortal.
That the Eagles, being who they are, great Maiar serving Manwë as
messengers, exist in both the Seen and the Unseen realms is hardly to be
For Beren not being among the shades of the Elven dead, I invoke the
the 1930 typescript of the Quenta:
"More frail were Men, more easily slain by weapon or mischance, subject to ills, or grew old and died. What befell their spirits the Eldalië knew not. The Eldar said that they went to the halls of Mandos, but that their place of waiting was not that of the Elves, and Mandos under Ilúvatar knew alone whither they
went after the time in his wide halls beyond the western sea. They were never reborn on earth, and
none ever came back from the mansions of the dead, save only Beren son of Barahir, who after
never spoke to mortal Men. Maybe their fate after death was not in the hands of the Valar." (HOME:Shaping of Middle-earth)
Yes, Huan is present. (Of course he's present — where else would he be?) But this is not mere conjecture, nor the artist's sense of "fittingness," nor sentimentality, that puts the faithful Hound waiting in the Halls with his beloved master for their liege lady. In those outline-drafts for the unwritten parts, after the line, "The wolf-hunt and death of Huan and Beren," follows the line, "The recall of Beren and Huan." So — he was always intended to be at Beren's side in Mandos, and after all, what would else would you expect of him? What he did there, and what followed that joint recalling, are sadly left to our imaginations: this is the result of mine.
Considering that the Valar, in no recorded chronicle, are shown to have acted in haste and without deliberation, that there was a prolonged and widening discussion before ever Námo appealed to Manwë for assistance in solving the dilemma, (which as the mortal Bard reminds us was not solely the Doomsman's decision) is not completely implausible.
Tulkas & Nessa, respectively, are the patrons of Husband and Wife (note that they are not the patrons of couples, in the collective, which honor belongs to a different pair of demiurges) as well as being known for fighting (or rather, indeed, brawling), friendship, good cheer, and lively athletics. They are not famous for hard-headed logic or technical skills. This description of them, and the detailed story of Tulkas showing up out of the blue to the rescue during the primordial wars against Melkor and his subsequent marriage to Nessa may be found in Silm., "Valaquenta: Of the Valar" and "Of the Beginning
Finrod: The Grey Annals, the chronicles of Beleriand kept by the folk of Doriath, relate (among other details of the Quest) that Finrod was not long in the Halls of Mandos. Bearing in mind that "not long" does not necessarily mean the same thing for Elves as for mortals, it is still a very significant remark — for it inevitably leads to the question, How did they know? The Grey Annals being what they were, unless the notation is a "later scribal interpolation" it must necessarily predate the War of Wrath — which is the only point in the First Age after the Flight of the Noldor when corporeal, surface-traversing travellers arrive out of the West.
This means there are only two possible sources of this information. The first, least likely, is via the Eagles, who travel freely between the continents — but there is not much indication that they spend a great deal of time bringing news to people in Beleriand, or dealing with any save the people of Gondolin on a regular basis; nor would there be any probable way for the news to arrive from Gondolin between the Geste and the fall of Doriath, since the only significant egress from the Hidden Kingdom was during the disastrous expedition to the battle that would become known as the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, and there was not a lot of time for chatting and catching up for Turgon at that debacle, and the already shattered state of communications and travel in Beleriand post-Bragollach became a nightmare of Enemy occupation. So, barring a post-fall-of-Gondolin rewrite at the Havens, when the survivors of Gondolin united with the remnants of Doriath and Cirdan's following (or even later revision), there is one probable answer — and that is Beren and Lúthien themselves, upon their final return to Menegroth.
Now, this could, logically, have merely been conveyed to them; they might have only asked, and/or been told the news — that, perhaps, he had already been released. My reasons for taking a different tack are again, not mere sentimentality, but as with Huan's presence, a way of exploring a huge number of ramifications, implications, and cultural aspects of Valinorean history in a natural and dramatic manner. Because, after all, if he were still there — does anyone seriously think he wouldn't be meddling, too?
Amarië: the facts of the case are few, but significant: we know that she was Finrod's true-love; we know that she was of the Vanyar, like his grandmother; we know that she did not go with him to Middle-earth, but remained behind in the West, at her family's wishes. From this, and from a few other things, we can however deduce a good bit more. Being of the Fair Elves, she would indeed be "pious and godsfearing" — but in the
rarified, heady way almost of archangels themselves, not any sort of benighted
folk-supersition, because the home of her people is literally right down
the hill from Taniquetil, and so they walk among the gods most of all of
the Eldar, and have the greatest and most direct knowledge of them, since
they and their lord Ingwë were the first and most ready to join the
Valar — and, since they are most concerned with music and understanding,
in a mystical sense, unlikely to sympathize much with the desire for or
interest in things, whether as collectibles or as technology, and
even less likely to sympathize with rivalry, strife, and instability.
So much for generalizations. In specific, one can safely say that her
family took a dim view of the proposed union, since it was in obedience
to their objections that she did not join Finrod in the Return — and that
she was extremely angry with him as well, because she obeyed them. If they had not had such misgivings, it is unlikely, given the deep reluctance displayed to break up or block even the most ill-advised of lovers in Aman, Finwë and Indis, that they would have been so forceful about it. It is essential to remember that Elenwë, the wife of Turgon, who died in the course of the Crossing, was Vanyar as well. (Why might they have objected to Finrod, one might ask, who after all is part-Vanyar himself? There is a very good answer in the fact of his extremely contentious extended family, who by this time were deeply embroiled in feuding and had been for quite a few years.) And if Amarië herself had not been furious with him, it is unlikely, given the generally-intractable nature of the Eldar, male and female, who feature in the chronicles of the First Age, that any parental disapproval would have sufficed to restrain her from going. (Again, I point to the example of Elenwë.)
Why furious? Well, Vanyar or not, the Eldar are proud. Rejection isn't something they deal with well at all, as the stories indicate. And to be set second, below either (in less-rational moments) mere things, like treasure and vengeance, or (in more cool-headed recollection) other people, Noldor friends and relatives, all of whom have forsaken peace and gratitude and cooperation for greed and self-aggrandizement — or worst of all, the lure of far-off lands and strangers, quite incomprehensible to the Vanyar, content to dwell where they are and needing no more from life than what they have — is a hard thing for a relationship.
And, of course, she ought to be a match for Finrod — in the medieval
sense, that is, where the concept of mate included the notion that both parties were equally matched and appropriate for each other on many different levels — unless of course one takes the view that it was an ill-advised, youthful folly, and they were neither of them suited for each other at all, which is a bit hard to justify, given that Finrod at least was over a hundred at the time of the Return: not exactly a smitten young fifty-year-old with no experience of judging character, his own included. If they are really soul-mates, then Amarië is bound to be just as intelligent, perceptive, good-willed, and energetic as her would-be consort. (Which is rather a frightening thought, actually: not one, but two of them, working in tandem?) But a messy break-up, and four-hundred-sixty-plus years to brood about it, and the conviction of unshakable moral superiority, is a very bad situation to start over from.
—In other words, they're Doomed. (Think Nargothrond, and Finrod's response to rejection before the assembled folk there. Mirror it. —Take cover.)
"daughter of twilight" — Amarië's epithet is actually merely the literal meaning of her given name, Tinúviel, being the etymology of the word for nightingale. The situation becomes particularly ironic if it is borne in mind throughout that Lúthien is the daughter of one of the Ainur.
garment of hair: as well as recognizing the fact that there is something definitely outré about Lúthien's "magic," this is an invocation of later events in Doriath, and the insulting joke that Saeros — a relative newcomer to that realm, as well as seriously lacking in tact and judgment — makes to Túrin about the women of Dor-lomin. If Túrin had only waited a moment longer before hitting Saeros, someone else (once the stunned disbelief had worn off) would very likely have done it for him.
"in trouble" — the idea that
Finrod and his staunchest supporters would be a significantly disruptive force in the Halls of Awaiting is based on the ceaseless energy that the King displayed in his lifetime, from taking charge of the March over the Helcaraxë to maintaining a vast communications network and overseeing
it personally, and the sense that death, and Mandos itself, doesn't automatically
change a person or individual personality. The hazards of having a relentlessly-inquisitive,
adventurous, well-meaning speculative metaphysician famously known for
underground building projects — and ten martial companions absolutely committed
to him — on the premises also make for an amusing contrast with all the descriptions of the Halls in prose and poetry as a place of stillness, profound quiet, tranquility and meditation. (It also provides me
at least with a great deal of diversion, considering the problems posed by the existence of a genuine, honest-to-goodness Philosopher King.)
There should be a noticeable difference between the attitudes of the Ten (with individual variation, of course) now and in their interactions with Beren back in Act II, which were characterized by admiration, respect, and affection, but with a certain reserve — which is now entirely vanished. They have journeyed, fought, been POWs, suffered, and died together; he is no longer an honoured, but essentially-alien ally, nor is their respect for him due to the storied deeds of a stranger, nor their affection secondhand, so to speak, the inheritance of his father and kin.
Meássë: in LT1, she's named as one who brings mead to the guests in the hall of Tulkas, and a warrior-goddess — in other words, she's a valkyrie. Tulkas, however, is no Odin, and Nessa nothing like Erde, so it only makes sense that their followers would also be of more cheery disposition.
does it say that Finwë's eldest son was kept in solitary confinement — what it does say is that "he comes no more among his kin," which could be a poetic way of saying that he can't — but since any number of his kin have also been in the Halls of Mandos during subsequent Ages, and given the usual understanding of a phrase like "So-and-so never comes to visit", a reasonable conclusion is that his isolation is voluntary, though not unconnected with the reasons that he will be there for the forseeable future. (It is also imporant for fellow HOME junkies to bear in mind that at this juncture the Second Prophecy concerning the Dagor Dagorath has not been made: Túrin is still a small child and Tuor not yet born, far less his son Eärendil — and Morgoth not yet exiled to the Void, far less his future return predicted.) Whether it is for reasons of remorse, denial, pride, or combinations of all three, the implication is that until the War is ended, he will not be ready, or willing, or able, to break free of what the Vedic authors call maya, self-maintained illusions about the world and one's role in it, and attain dharma, the state of righteous harmony characterized by clarity of vision and purpose untainted by selfishness.
Glaurung: this is of course an invocation of LOTR:FOTR, "A Long-Expected Party," and just as that sequence has deeper and darker resonances, so too this, since that "golden worm" will ultimately conquer Orodreth and hold power as the last King in Nargothrond.)
Roch: as subsequent lines hopefully make clear, this is just Sindarin for horse.
"Healers" — any reader of Silm. who doesn't think Lúthien's handling of the situation merits awe hasn't spent much time dealing with trauma while violence is still on-going — or thinking about it (or even taking people to the emergency room.)
Beren's comment about the left-over gouges from Fingolfin's duel with Morgoth now some twelve years back come from the Lay of Leithian and the outlines, where the "pitted plain" is specifically noted as they approach the guarded Gates of Angband.
"under Morgoth's seat" — Note what two pertinent facts Beren has omitted, as he describes their infiltration attempt.
Beren's description of the great hall of Angband, Lúthien duelling with Morgoth, the account of the Iron Crown falling like a wheel of thunder, Beren frantically trying to pull the stone off, then remembering the knife, its subsequent breaking, their panicked flight, forgetting their disguises, and getting cornered by Carcharoth in the hallway, all come from LL1, Canto XIII.
"fireballs" — all this sequence, as described by Beren, is actually canonical, coming from an outline for the unwritten Cantos (the bracketed words are somewhat smudged in the penciled original and conjectural):
"Carcharoth goes mad and drives all [orcs] before him like a wind. The sound of his awful howling
causes rocks to split and fall. There is an earthquake underground. Morgoth's wrath on waking. The gateway [falls] in and hell is blocked, and great fires and smokes burst from Thangorodrim. Thunder and lightning. Beren lies dying before the gate. Tinúviel's
song as she kisses his hand and prepares to die. Thorondor comes down and bears them amid the lightning that [stabs] at them like spears and a hail of arrows from the battlements. They pass above
Gondolin and Lúthien sees the white city far below, [gleaming] like a lily in the valley."
Yup, they were those Eagles — old Thorondor and his two kids Gwaihir and Landroval. For some reason still obscure to me, Christopher Tolkien decided that having them be the same as in LOTR was somehow wrong,
and edited out their names from the published Silm., along with other small asides, important and less-so. (The story-within-a-story about
Lúthien's tears falling to the ground during their flight and causing a spring to well up, a legend of Beleriand which might be true, evocative of various classical myths, is charming, but not crucial; the bit that refers to the Eschaton is not the first, but definitely the latter.) This rescue-under-heavy-fire is more than deserving of a DFC, I should think.
Beren's recovering in Spring, as told in Silm., has suggestive similarity to the end of the Bragollach offensive at the close of that winter (to the extent that fighting cooled down at that time, if you will excuse the pun.) It is merely my conjecture that his awakening came with equinox, when the amount of sunlight becomes greater than the duration of darkness, however.
His being trapped in an unpleasant dream world is also described in the Silmarillion, but earlier in LL1, Canto X, he has had a similar experience, if much shorter, during the night when he was being healed of the arrow-wound by Lúthien:
The shadows fell from mountains grim.
Then sprang about the darkened North
the Sickle of the Gods, and forth
each star there stared in stony night
radiant, glistering cold and white.
But on the ground there is a glow,
a spark of red that leaps below:
under woven boughs beside a fire
of crackling wood and sputtering briar
there Beren lies in drowsing deep,
walking and wandering in sleep.
Watchful bending o'er him wakes
a maiden fair; his thirst she slakes,
his brow caresses, and softly croons
a song more potent than in runes
or leeches' lore hath since been writ.
Slowly the nightly watches flit.
The misty morning crawleth grey
from dusk to the reluctant day.
Then Beren woke and opened eyes,
and rose and cried, 'Neath other skies,
in lands more awful and unknown,
I wandered long, methought, alone
to the deep shadow where the dead dwell;
but ever a voice that I knew well,
like bells, like viols, like harps, like birds,
like music moving without words,
called me, called me through the night,
enchanted drew me back to light!
Healed the wound, assuaged the pain!
Now we are come to morn again,
new journeys once more lead us on—
to perils whence life may be won,
hardly for Beren; and for thee
a waiting in the wood I see,
beneath the trees of Doriath,
while ever follow down my path
the echoes of thine elvish song,
where hills are haggard and roads are long.'
And they pick up fighting right where they left off the day before… (Beren's arguments to her as he has reported them to the Ten, as to why they cannot just camp out in the woods forever are almost exactly as they are given in the following verses of the Canto, by the way.)
chaos in Doriath: this is described tersely but clearly in the outline-drafts:
"The embassy meets the onslaught of Carcharos who by fate or the power of the Silmaril bursts into Doriath. All perish save Mablung who brings the news. Devastation of the woods. The wood-elves flee to the caves."
This is followed by the note that the three travelers find the woods eerily silent and empty as they proceed towards Menegroth.
The story of Beren aiding Finrod in the earlier verbal combat with Sauron derives from LL1, Canto VII, where the Eldar are commanded to swear a terrible oath of fealty to Morgoth which curses all life and creation along with the Powers — something which if they were true minions they would not balk at, but which they cannot bring themselves to utter — so Beren leaps into the breach, so to speak, by mouthing off to the Lord of Wolves in a diversionary attempt:
'…Whom do you serve, Light or Mirk?
Who is the maker of mightiest work?
Who is the king of earthly kings,
the greatest giver of gold and rings?
Who is the master of the wide earth?
Who despoiled them of their mirth,
the greedy Gods? Repeat your vows,
Orcs of Bauglir! Do not bend your brows!
Death to light, to law, to love!
Cursed be moon and stars above!
May darkness everlasting old
that waits outside in surges cold
drown Manwë, Varda, and the sun!
May all in hatred be begun,
and all in evil ended be,
in the moaning of the endless Sea!'
But no true Man nor Elf yet free
would ever speak that blasphemy,
and Beren muttered: 'Who is Thû
to hinder work that is to do?
Him we serve not, nor to him owe
obeisance, and we now would go.'
Thû laughed: 'Patience! Not very long
shall ye abide. But first a song
I will sing to you, to ears intent.'
Then his flaming eyes he on them bent,
and darkness black fell round them all.
Only they saw as through a pall
of eddying smoke those eyes profound
in which their senses choked and drowned.
And the battle begins in earnest…
"Great Chief" — the "name" Boldog which causes so much confusion in the examination of the draft versions and outlines of the Lay in LB may not actually be a proper name at all, but a title, like Khan or Imperator, and thus might not have been intended to refer to any one orc-chieftain, but to whichever of them was acclaimed leader (no doubt after surviving rounds of challenge first, like Uglûk in LOTR:TTT) of the battle-group instead. This solution (another "yes" to an-either or, I'm afraid) occurred to me after finding the word means "powerful" + "slayer" which strongly evokes a ritual epithet, rather than a personal name, (though it could of course be both.) Thus, the Boldog sent to capture Lúthien after Morgoth discovers rumours of her flight, and who is killed in combat by Thingol while the Northern forces are destroyed by the army of Doriath on its way to Nargothrond, doesn't have to be the same Boldog whose was earlier killed testing Doriath's borders, the lack of current information concerning which event caused such disastrous results.
letter: that the infamous missive concerning not only Lúthien but Beren and Finrod sent to Thingol by Celegorm and Curufin was afterwards returned to Orodreth by his great-uncle, is found in the outlines; the method, that there was a river path along Esgalduin that was a regular line of communication between the two kingdoms, is mentioned in UT, "Narn i Hin Húrin," where Morwen, threatening to attempt her own crossing of Sirion, is taken to it by Mablung:
"Will you not return?"
"No!" she said.
"Then I must help you," said Mablung, " though it is against my own will. Wide and deep here is Sirion, and perilous to swim for beast or man."
"Then bring me over by what ever way the Elven-folk are used to cross," said Morwen, "or else I will try the swimming."
Therefore Mablung led her to the twilight meres. There amid the creeks and reeds ferries were kept hidden and guarded on the east shore; for by that way messengers would pass to and fro between Thingol and his kin in Nargothrond.
It is an irony that doubtless did not much amuse her parents, that while they were looking for her, and after they had given up hope of finding her, Lúthien was in fact inside the borders of Doriath, fending not only for herself but the convalescent Beren, with Huan's help.
Beren's wretched Sindarin accent grating on Thingol and conveying the impression of deliberate disrespect is not only to be found in HOME but intriguingly mirrors a conversation reported in Letters between Professor Tolkien and an officer from New England during WWII — the young
Yankee rather obstreperously challenged JRRT's British accent as phoney and put-on, and was somewhat surprised to learn that not only was it quite
unaffected, his own "normal" American accent sounded, to his interlocutor, equally affected, as if he were deliberately trying to sound uncouth. (They
also had a bit of a heated discussion on the matter of feudalism, not too surprisingly.) After this eye-opener (if such can properly be used of a matter strictly aural) however, the American became much less obnoxious, according to JRRT, and willing to look at such subjective impressions from a more objective and technical light, and they parted on good terms. (Myself, I wonder where in the Northeast the kid was from: up in the northern hills and to the west, the accent is surprisingly "southern," being part of the original Appalachian farming culture — this is undoubtedly how Gen. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, from Maine, was able to convince a group of Southern soldiers he was one of their officers, and so escape capture during the Civil War. But some of the Boston-area dialects are so gruesomely distorted as to cause physical pain in out-of-state listeners: if you get the for-me-many-years-incomprehensible joke, "I'm outta here like a bald guy," you will begin to gather why.)
Daeron: it's unlikely that they would have learned about the bard slipping off during the chaos of the initial searches for the escaped princess, though remotely possible that Huan might have heard from his avian contacts. My assumption is that everyone had more pressing things on their minds than wondering about someone presumably safe at home.
Melian & Thingol honeymooning in Dorthonion is mentioned almost at the very beginning of the second Lay fragment, in what is surely not a coincidence, as well as in Silm., "Of Beren and Lúthien,"
— "But the waters of Tarn Aeluin were held in reverence, for they were clear and blue by day and by night were a mirror for the stars; and it was said that Melian herself had hallowed that water in days of old."
Beleg: as Thingol's chief Ranger, and given his exploits at infiltrating Nargothrond to bring back the news of Lúthien's further flight and the exile of the sons of Fëanor, he would be the most likely candidate for such an intelligence mission.
That Carcharoth was intended and put in place as an anti-Huan device is not in question — post-disaster (at least from Morgoth's viewpoint it was a disaster) investigations indicating the presence of Huan at the debacle of Tol Sirion, a panicked Dark Lord took quick and urgent steps in the following weeks to set up an effective (hopefully) defense system against Giant Sentient Invincible-Except-By-Prophecy Hounds of Valinor. This is stated in the rough drafts: "Morgoth…thinks it is Huan and fashions a vast wolf—Carcharas—mightiest of all wolves to guard his door," and in slightly different wording,
"Morgoth hears of the ruin of Thû's castle. His mind is filled with misgiving and anger. The
gates of Angband strengthened; because of the rumour of Huan he
whelps of his packs, and feeds him on flesh of Men and Elves, and enchants him so that he becomes the most great and terrible of all beasts that ever have been—Carcharos."
Canto XII goes into it at some length, detailing the rationale behind it and the morbid processes by which one force-grows a super-werewolf, which I will quote here again.
Then came word
most passing strange of Lúthien
wild-wandering by wood and glen,
and Thingol's purpose long he weighed,
and wondered, thinking of that maid
so fair, so frail. A captain dire,
Boldog, he sent with sword and fire
to Doriath's march; but battle fell
sudden upon him: news to tell
never one returned of Boldog's host,
and Thingol humbled Morgoth's boast.
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 no guile beset; and spies
he feared, till each Orc to his eyes
was half suspect. Still ever down
the aisléd forest 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;
and ever wild their voices rolled
in cave and mountain where they housed
and endless snarling echoes roused.
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. Many a ghastly feast
he held beneath that awful throne,
rending flesh and gnawing bone.
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,
with breath like vapours of the grave,
than any beast of wood or cave,
than any beast of earth or hell
that ever in any time befell,
surpassing all his race and kin,
the ghastly tribe of Draugluin.
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
his red eyes smoulder in the gloom,
his teeth are bare, his jaws are wide;
and none may walk, nor creep, nor glide,
nor thrust with power his menace past
to enter Morgoth's dungeon vast…
There is moreover a weird parallel between the clash/combination of Light and Dark powers in Melian versus Ungoliant, which results in the blighted area between Dorthonion and Doriath, the "Mountains of Terror," where the "poison of Death" that was in the Spider-demon and her lethal aura which has corrupted that region wars and merges with the healing, life-giving power of the Maia who was once part of the original domain of Lórien and a companion of the Vala of renewed life, Vána — and the situation of Carcharoth-plus-the-Silmaril. On the one hand, the entire physical being of Carcharoth is so corrupted on so many levels that contact with the Varda-blessed jewel sears him, just as it did Morgoth; yet on the other hand, containing the primal life-energies, undiminished, of the universe, it gives him inordinate power even as it burns him, so that he is maintained in a permanent state of destruction and renewing. In a way, he is but another casualty of the war, like Nan Dungortheb itself, since whatever pride and attraction to violence lured him to follow Melkor, this fallen Ainu can hardly have had any notion what he was getting himself into: if he weren't mad to begin with, such a grisly ordeal would certainly have made him so.
Melian telling Lúthien that Beren is still alive but captive, for,
'The Lord of Wolves hath prisons dark,
chains and enchantments cruel and stark,
there trapped and bound and languishing
now Beren dreams that thou dost sing'
is found in LL1, Canto V, when she asks the Maia what has become of him and gets the bad news. (There's so much elegant, understated sensuality in the Lay of Leithian fragments that I'm surprised they're not more widely known; I guess it's the understatement.) The differing attitudes towards sex, implicit and embodied in the fact of Elves celebrating the date of conception, not of birth, as age-marker, follow naturally from the greater unity with the natural world that is theirs (including body-mind, which makes conception a controllable and voluntary action on the part of parents) and spiritually Unfallen state (unlike mortals, their Fall is the rebellion of the Noldor, a much more limited corruption, though certainly no less devastating in its consequences.)
A reverential but entirely neurosis-free and non-aggressive attitude towards reproduction is the natural result — "seldom is told of any deeds of lust among them" — and although Beren coming from a much more "primitive" society as well as one whose culture is heavily influenced by Eldar beliefs and attitudes (and being for all practical purposes a devout pantheist) would be far less afflicted by the neuroses of "modern civilization," there is still a world of difference between regarding something as Mystery and therefore not casually or irreverently spoken of, and not regarding it as any different from the rest of everyday life at all. The affectionate teasing his comrades subject him to, born of their incomprehension of his embarrassment, is intended not only to point up this fact (and contrast it with contemporary attitudes in our world), but to illustrate the confusion that mortals in turn experienced while dealing with the Eldar, the apparent contradiction between their vast knowledge and sophistication, and the apparently-childlike "naiveté" which doesn't understand (as Men see it) the seriousness of things ("Athrabeth") — whereas to the Elves it appears that Men are both troubled and troublesome, and the recipients of "strange gifts." (Silm., "Of the Beginning of Days.")
It's not entirely unrelated to their differing approaches to the Powers, as well, and the cognitive dissonance that Beren has mentioned earlier when trying to cope with statements like "And then I asked Varda…" which also follows from the difference of their respective backgrounds, which only gets worse the more deities he encounters.
The Nargothrondish scholar's theory (it is safe to assume she is the same one who didn't end up helping Lúthien in Act III) about mortals being lesser spirits incarnated by Morgoth is a variant of a common Gnostic tradition: the idea that the spirit world alone is the creation of God, and the physical world that of Lucifer; this form of Duallism necessarily requires that procreation, and life (as we think of it, organic and biological) itself, be regarded as intrinsically evil, since both serve to imprison pure souls in a corrupt material plane.
The going-to-ground of Carcharoth as described in Silm. and the Tale of Tinúviel represents the big-game hunter's worst nightmare — even apart from sentience and demonic ferocity plus enhanced, off-the-scale size, to have a wounded, angry, invisible predator lurking in impassible territory as the sun goes down is one of those situations that no one trying to deal with a maneater ever wants to find one's self in.
"Then Mablung took up a knife and ripped up the belly of the Wolf; and within he was wellnigh
all consumed as with a fire, but the hand of Beren that held the jewel was yet incorrupt. But when Mablung reached forth to touch it, the hand was no more, and the Silmaril lay there unveiled, and the light of it filled the shadows of the forest all about them. Then quickly and in fear Mablung took it and set it in Beren's
living hand; and Beren was aroused by the touch of the Silmaril, and held it aloft, and bade Thingol receive it.
'Now is the Quest achieved,' he said, 'and my doom full-wrought'; and he spoke no more."
"tarrying" — There are several different ways to tarry, and in a place where one isn't technically supposed to be. One can do so loudly, challengingly, demanding of one's rights, and asserting of them — which sometimes works, but isn't pleasant for anyone involved, whether it works or not. Or, one can do so unobtrusively, not making an issue of it, for as long as possible; this will often be overlooked, and sometimes not even noticed, by the earthly powers-that-be. (This is different from hiding, note, which only works as long as it is successful, since once discovered the authorities will take an extremely dim view of further tarrying.) How do I know about staying in places technically off-limits? Erm . . . Ahem. All we are told by the texts is that Beren — unlike any other known mortal, before or since — tarried there as per Lúthien's instructions, so we must imagine for ourselves what said tarrying would be like. Given his behaviour in Neldoreth, I tend to the second option as most likely — and followed by the same utter stubbornness that outstayed welcome in Dorthonion for eight years; though nonviolently, as it seems highly unlikely to me that the policy strictly maintained by the Valar of non-coercion and non-interference would suddenly be changed.
"wrath of Ossë" — that mercurial and hot-tempered deity is usually the one responsible for ocean storms and deadly waves, but there is at least one notable exception in the chronicles.
dew: excess energy from Telperion (in essence, small amounts of raw starlight) saved up in liquid form illuminates the Halls according to one legend.
That Beren was "reserved for torment" after Finrod's death is found in the Lay and the outline-drafts, as well as being implicit in the warning Sauron gave them, that if no one gave in, the last one would be tortured (in cruder, less psychological ways, that is) until he broke. However, since Finrod had accidentally given away their identities already while
trying to convince Beren that it was a futile idea for him to think that he could save Finrod by turning himself in, and Sauron had already dismissed Beren as not knowing enough to be worth keeping alive, the only obvious remaining motive is vengeance, which is a pleasure the Lord of Wolves is willing to put off, while dealing with the present ongoing disturbance at his gates.
This casual disregard of the mortal as mere muscle, and not any longer a major player with Dorthonion effectively "pacified," is of course fortunate (and not indeed too uncommon in so-called intelligence services today, who all too often overlook key figures in conspiracy) as what would have happened, subsequently, had Sauron known, when Lúthien arrived, that it was her own true love he had in the dungeon, does not bear thinking about.
"Wild Man" — although there is no reference to the Druedain in the published Silm., this does not mean that they were not present in Beleriand, as is revealed in UT, where we find that they, although few, shy and solitary, were beloved by the Elves who encountered them for their gifts of mirth and laughter, and also were honored and in demand for their skills as trackers and ferocious enemies of the Orcs. (Readers may recall that in Act II, the sons of Fëanor have mockingly suggested that Beren might be one of them.) However, they (prudently, perhaps) preferred to keep to themselves, by and large, although there is a story about one shaman of the Woodwoses who protected the family of a close friend among the Haladin, at considerable cost to himself; this story, "The Faithful Stone," is interesting as well in that we find yet again in Arda the concept of imbuing an inanimate object with one's essence, to focus (in this case remotely) one's power so as to be effectively in two places at once.
Like everyone else in Beleriand, they were driven south by the successes of Morgoth and eventually forced to resettle in the eastern, remaining parts of Middle-earth after the Dark Lord's defeat. However, some of them even took advantage of the gift of the Valar and journeyed to Númenor, where they lived until that realm began its decline, returning to Middle-earth with the cryptic (yet prophetic) statements that the place was no longer stable. (Now there are potential stories that would be interesting to tell, and hear, about those adventurous deep-woods tribesfolk crossing the Sea and living on what would become Atalantë!)
Halmir: this was originally the name of a son of Orodreth killed by Orcs (as mentioned in LB, "The Lay of the Children of Húrin," Canto III) who disappears out of the later versions, though not it must be said necessarily out of history. I didn't include him in The Script because I felt that it would be too much of a distraction, too diffusive of the familial and social energies already at play in Nargothrond, and would weaken the dynamic of the Finduilas-Gwindor-Turin triangle. However, it would certainly be possible to do a fanfic set in Nargothrond, which would include the unfortunate Prince, and could quite effectively use, as is implied in LB, his capture and death while out on patrol as further reason for Orodreth's unwillingness to engage in offensive measures, and could also make quite effective use of his loss as yet another son-replacement factor in Turin's instant adoption as Young Champion of the King, against all rational probability. (If I were to do it, I would follow the friendship of Gwindor and his brother with the Prince's children, and emphasize Gwindor's role as a first son-substitute, after his friend Halmir's killing, in Orodreth's affections — which would make his defiance and subsequent loss at the Nirnaeth all the bitterer to Orodreth and make even more inevitable his own displacement by the Adanedhel as tanist. I don't have that story to write, myself, unfortunately, poignant though it would be.) But I have given his name to a fallen warrior of Nargothrond in tribute.
Beren saying he should have died and been buried with his dad comes from LL2, the Canto X fragments, where just before getting run down by the exiled sons of Fëanor he and Lúthien are having a heated argument over what they are going to do next:
"My word, alas, I now must keep
and not the first of men to weep
for oath in pride and anger sworn.
Too brief the meeting, brief the morn,
too soon comes night when we must part!
All oaths are for breaking of the heart,
with shame denied, with anguish kept.
Ah! would that now unknown I slept
with Barahir beneath the stone,
and thou wert dancing still alone,
unmarred, immortal, sorrowless,
singing in joy of Elvenesse.'
To which she, unimpressed, returns:
'That may not be. For bonds there are
stronger than stone or iron bar,
more strong than proudly spoken oath.
Have I not plighted thee my troth?
Hath love no pride nor honour then?
Or dost thou deem then Lúthien
so frail of purpose, light of love?
By stars of Elbereth above!
If thou wilt here my hand forsake
and leave me lonely paths to take,
then Lúthien will not go home—"
Considering this exchange in the light of what they've both just been through, here is all the warrant needed (if it should be needed) for the characterizations of Beren as a guilt-ridden depressive and Lúthien as sarcastic, impatient, and absolutely indomitable.
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.