(Part IV)

SCENE V.xvii

[the Hall]

[Finrod and his people are looking at Luthien with rather aghast looks;
Fingolfin is carefully looking elsewhere]

You are joking, right?

[she shakes her head]


[she nods]

Perhaps you heard the name wrong, my Lady?

Luthien: [shaking her head again]
Not unless he doesn't know how to pronounce it himself.


[he and the rest glance in utter bemusement at the Captain]

Are you sure it wasn't a -- a jest at your expense?

Orodreth wasn't doing much joking in those days.

But -- Telumnar!?

Captain: [serious]
Perhaps there has been some misunderstanding, gentles. Are you quite sure
that her Highness is speaking of the same individual?

Steward: [aside]
How many arrant fools by the name of Telumnar do we know? --How many are
there, after all?

She didn't say he was being an idiot, though -- my Lady, do you recollect
well the Elf in question? He wasn't by any chance a thin-browed chap with
an annoying habit of smirking knowingly at everything you said, as if he
knew more than you but couldn't trouble himself to correct you?

Luthien: [shrugging]
I only met him once or twice at state dinners -- and I think he was at that
party of Finduilas', now that I think back on it. Pretty much everyone was
acting patronizing and knowing around me, anyway. Sorry.

Your Highness, did he tend to try to keep his profile at a five-sevenths
angle to display his best side at all times, when he was talking to you?

[several of the Ten snicker -- and Angrod works very hard at keeping a straight
face; Luthien frowns]

Now that you mention it, he did seem to be striking poses most of the time.
I thought he was favoring an injury, at first.

[even Aegnor chuckles at that, though the mood quickly turns serious again]

Might safely to presume, then, the youngling did learn but little, else
naught, for all his long travel eke travail?

You might indeed.

[to Fingolfin]

All right, I've been wanting to ask you this for over a yen, now -- and now
you have to tell me the truth, uncle. Did you foist that fellow off on me
because you were afraid you'd have a rebellion all of your own if you didn't
get him out of your own chain of command?

[everyone looks expectantly at the High King's shade. Long silence.]


[grimacing, glaring in a mock-ferocious way at his nephew]

I also had some hope, that your company and that of your companions would
provide him with exemplar and inspiration to improve. --Though, 'tis true,
I had come to fear him incorrigible by that time--

Aegnor: [to Angrod]
Hah! Pay up; I told you so.

[their uncle turns the glare on them]

--and so I judged that your greater wisdom, young Ingold, should find the
best way to set him where he might work the least damage.

Elenwe: [admiring]
Tis deftly done, is't not?

Amarie: [harsh]
--What, pray?

How my lord his father doth turn aside wrath with subtle guile, for his
words they hold them brimful of praises, to make sweet wrath's bitterness
-- yet eke mockery, yet nor so venomous that shall aught but sting, as
salt water's smart, that doth cut when flattery doth 'gin to cloy.

[to Finrod]

-- For none other, I vouchsafe, save thee. Yon thornbrake snares of Noldorin
subtlety be most unpleasing to my soul, do I win through and smite upon's
conscience else turn back in weariest disarray, for defense cometh most
naturally unto him.

[Fingolfin looks mortified at this public deconstruction of his rhetoric; his
brother and sister-in-law appear both interested and embarrassed for him. To
the living Vanya:]

Thy lord, my cousin yet warm --aye, and dauntless -- doth far surpass all
others in such disport.

Amarie: [coldly]
That, I did mark well.

Ambassador: [to Elenwe]
My lady, do you not find this -- unguarded openness, of our present state

Nay; how so?

[he is nonplused by her tone and expression of childlike seriousness, & doesn't
know what to say; she continues:]

'Tis but the way this world is, e'en as without the rains do fall betimes,
nor more sensible to feel distress upon it, than at dew's damp, or droplets'
splash -- dost such trouble one, had best make no journeying, lest find
thyself unexpected wet.

Finrod: [rueful, to the Doriathrin Lord]
My Vanyar kin have a rather -- different -- approach to life than even we
Teler -- much simpler and far more direct. And much less concerned with
appearances and public dignity than we Noldor. It can be -- disconcerting,
even in life.

Ambassador: [looking thoughtfully at him in turn]
Indeed, I think I have seen such truths as you speak before this time,
displayed in Menegroth, your Majesty.

[it is Finrod's turn to be slightly embarrassed]

Elenwe: [musing]
Though in truth I ne'er did think to see yon solid floor of many fathoms
riven o'er wave as 'twere but crumbled bread into wine.

[Fingolfin winces]

Daughter, daughter, have mercy -- I rue thy losses, and I obey thy
bidding now.

Nerdanel: [wryly]
Thou dost not so ill at it thyself, good my niece.

[the Vanyar shade only shrugs]

Long dwelt I amongst thy folk in Tirion to learn't.

Teler Maid
This Telumnar, he is a great fool, I dare to say? For I cannot place him
in memory.

Steward: [bleak]
Much worse than that. He is one that will never admit he has erred, in
any wise. He but changes the matter of his speech, when 'tis shown to him.

Apprentice: [aside]
Another one! I do hope my Master has judged me complete of patience before
he comes along.

[this gets him some rather askance Looks from the presently-dead]

First Guard: [to the Captain]
I still can't believe the Prince gave him your job.

[the senior officer only shakes his head, looking bemused and dismayed at the idea]

Luthien: [correcting]
Not being in charge of your spies -- that went to Gwin, I'm pretty sure.
He and Orodreth were closeted a lot, and there were other hints--

[breaking off]

What? Did I say something wrong?

[Finrod and his chief lords are exchanging looks of rueful humour]

I ought to ask how you knew about that, Lady Luthien -- but I'm rather
afraid of the answer. It's going to be more mystical demigod perception,
isn't it--

[she is shaking her head]

I heard about it from Dad--

[he looks relieved at her words]

--after Mom told him.

Ah. Right.

But I honestly don't know if she figured it out from watching all you
interact, or if she just knew. We were all just used to her knowing
everything. It came up once when Galadriel was pushing Mom a bit about
how to run a kingdom, and she told her that it depended on being someone
worthy of following, so that your followers would be worthy of your trust
-- and then told her to follow her oldest brother's example. Dad said
something about how important it was to have people you could rely on to
both hear and speak for you, to be your senses where you couldn't be,
yourself, and your voice--

[looking from him to the Steward and back again]

--and Galadriel challenged him if he knew which of you was which, and
Mom said obviously, both, it just depended.

[quickly reassuring]

This was a private family discussion, it wasn't as though everyone in
Doriath knew you were more than just military.

Why do people keep underestimating you, cousin?

Captain: [speaking as if to reassure himself]
Gwindor's a good lad -- heart in the right place, if still a little wet
behind the ears.

Finrod: [mild]
He isn't all that much younger than we are, you know.


I suppose he isn't, at that. The next generation just seem so much more
uncertain of themselves than we were. --Not really surprising, given the
hash we made of everything, I suppose--

Aegnor: [cutting]
Speak for yourself.

[Angrod elbows him hard]

[low prolonged growl]

[the Captain stops talking and stares straight ahead; his former colleague
leans around and turns her fiercest glare on Finrod's brother]

Teler Maid:
My lord, I tell you, I shall most assuredly make report of your
unmannerliness to Lady Earwen, when I am alive once again, and let
her for to know of every least rude word I did hear of you!

[Aegnor looks suddenly daunted at this, though he does not apologize or
meet her angry gaze]

Apprentice: [tolerant]
Well, as a matter of fact, Maiwe, that isn't going to be possible.
Once you're rehoused, the memory of this place will fade very quickly.

Teler Maid:
I shall manage it, nonetheless, let you wait, and I vow you shall see!


Luthien: [raising her voice a little, cutting them off]
--In any case, I am certain no one here has done anything approaching the
level of stupidity of sending my father a letter announcing that his nephew
had been done away with and his daughter about to be wed to a multiple
murderer, and advising him not to object if he knew what was good for him.

Oh, yes, that--

[he sighs, shaking his head in disbelief, Finrod leans forward and gives
him a puzzled look]


Third Guard:
Beren told us, Sir -- oh, that's right, you weren't here then. It was--

Finrod: [flatly]
--Let me guess. Curufin.

Writing for the both of them. It's funny, because you'd think that would
have made them even angrier at me, for having got myself into such a
situation, but instead Dad was so furious with House Feanor that he
actually started thinking a little better of Beren--

[to her compatriot]

--isn't that right?

Ambassador: [nods]

[he checks, then goes on with some reluctance at her Look]

That was in part -- in part, not all -- attributable to the fact of the
Lord of Dorthonion's mortality, and your consequent eventual freedom from
any such bad match.

[he flinches under her glare, but this looking-away brings him into contact
with Nerdanel]

I do apologize, my lady.

[she makes a dismissive gesture with her hand, unable or unwilling to speak
just then]

Anyhow, he decided he was going to solve the problem at least partially,
by sending Celegorm West, and rescuing me, so that I wouldn't ever have
to see him again. That got another fight going between him and Mom, over
the morality of offensive warfare and the problem that killing Kinslayers
makes you one just as much yourself, but he went ahead and got an invasion
force together without her approval.

[Finrod and his followers look at each other, completely horrified]

Warrior: [stricken]
The Greycloak invaded Nargothrond?

Fourth Guard:
Don't be silly -- we'd have heard about it firsthand before now.

[but he still looks shaken too]

Luthien: [grim pleasure]
I'm glad somebody takes the possibility seriously.

Finrod: [frowning]
They really didn't think -- what, that your father would react with
devastating decisiveness upon receiving such a missive, or that he
would be capable of carrying out such attempt?

[Luthien raises her hands helplessly]

I don't know. Both, I guess.


It worked out strangely enough, because just as they were getting ready
to go -- Dad and Mablung and Beleg and all our warriors -- they got word
of another Enemy incursion along the frontier, and went to deal with that
instead, and then by the time that was done with, Huan and I were already
long gone from Nargothrond, and then after he found that out he decided
it was useless to try to hunt me down again, after the first time had gone
so poorly, and to try for a diplomatic appeal to Lord Maedhros against his
younger siblings, who after all are nominally under his authority and were
moving back in with him.

[she looks over at the Ambassador, rather sadly]

--Of course, I wasn't there for any of this, and only heard about it after
the fact, so if I'm getting any of it wrong, you ought to correct me.

[he shakes his head, his expression somber.]

Your Highness, how did King Elu discover that you'd flown again?

Beleg sneaked in and listened to the gossip about it all.

[the Captain puts his head down on his knees with a groan]

Ranger: [earnestly]
Sir, this is Cuthalion we're talking about, not some random stranger.

Finrod: [same tone]
Nor would he have tripped the wardings, not being a minion of the Dark Lord.

Teler Maid: [to the Captain, concerned]
What troubles you?

[he only shakes his head, not looking up]

Aye, wherefore this ado of thine?

Captain: [muffled]
Professional humiliation.

[looking up, grimacing]

My people let an intruder just traipse through the Guarded Plain and
glean all the private business of the City from their conversing, and
then leave, without ever so much as noticing a blade of grass out of
place throughout. I trained them better than that -- I thought. And
with Captain Telumnar in charge of defenses, everything falls apart
in a matter of months! It doesn't sound like Lord Gwindor was getting
any better cooperation, either.

Steward: [quietly]
You're forgetting another factor, as you judge them -- and yourself --
too harshly.

Captain: [scornful]

Sorrow. You cannot justly expect them to be as keen and alert as otherwise,
when most assuredly the same grief, dismay, uncertainty and guilt afflicted
them as ruled in the City proper, as we have heard recounted, soon and late,
by our shadowy and sometimes guest. They had not you, and that shall have
been no light matter, with all the rest of it.


[checks, with a bitter expression]

No. I can't say that. Though I think they chose wrong, if then they had
stayed faithful it's not unlikely they would have partook of our doom,
too, and--

[he looks across where the Youngest Ranger is dreaming by the water, and then
at his Noldor follower and the rest of the Ten, grimly]

--I couldn't have borne more, and yet I still think their misery both just
and insufficient, and I can't sort it out in my own heart, and I'd like to
scruff them and shake them all until their eyes rattle for being idiots,
the more stupidity I hear about.

[Finrod gives him a very understanding Look, nodding in agreement; Angrod stares
pointedly at his nearest sibling, who stares obstinately into the distance.]

Apprentice: [reasonable]
But you can't do anything to affect what happens there now.

Captain: [bleak]
I know. --I know.

[he rests his forehead on his arms, closing his eyes]

[thin whine]

[the Hound licks the side of his face without getting any response. The Elf
of Alqualonde regards her friend with a concerned expression.]

Teler Maid:
Your City was your ship, your waverunner, for you.

[he nods without looking up]

Then no words--

[she gives the disguised Maia a Look]

--shall e'er truly serve to take the hurt of the loss of your Work
from you.

[she rests her hand on his bowed head and then on his nearer hand, oblivious
to the impressed surprise shared by the Ten and Nienna's student who have been
witness to her self-centered neediness, at this her first gesture of outreach
to another. The Captain straightens and grips her fingers before making a sweeping
gesture of dismissal which also conveys a distinct element of relinquishment.]

Captain: [sighing]
The fate of Nargothrond -- so far as it ever was -- is out of my hands
now. I know that. The regret -- that doesn't end.

[he leans back against the Lord of Dogs, his expression resigned but sad,
indifferent to the varied looks of concern, understanding, or displeasure
directed his way]

Finrod: [neutral]
I'm sure Orodreth will have figured it out by now and appointed someone
more competent and less convinced of it, and found Telumnar an appointment
with a grander-sounding title and no leverage to go with it.

[aside, seething:]

Invading. My City. --Those bloody fools!

First Guard: [frowning, to his companions]
I'm surprised Beren mentioned nothing of this when he talked about
the letter.

Luthien: [carefully]
Beren -- was a little preoccupied in Menegroth, then, and I'm not sure
how much of an impression it made on him at that point, particularly
since it hadn't happened. There were other aspects of that episode which
affected him more, unfortunately--

[a touch sarcastic]

--such as the fact that we'd missed a detachment of Enemy fighters by only
a few -- score -- leagues of rough terrain and I'd not known about it at all.

[addressing Nerdanel, who has given up even pretending to draw]

At least Celegorm was genuinely motivated -- at least in part -- by a desire
to keep me safe in comfort and civilization, as he saw it--


--at least at that point.

For my part, that none of mine own folk e'er did aid thee, nor aught but
suffer thee to stay benighted and imprisoned meanwhiles, the while they
did indulge upon false gaiety, doth trouble my heart full measure with
all the rest of't.

Fingolfin: [indignant]
Indeed, it amazes me beyond words' power to describe, that among all our
kindred there, not one had conscience nor courage to speak truth and stand
beside you in this, Highness. Even in House Feanor's entourage, there should
have been more than a few who did not lack the clarity of thought and
strength of will to hold firm against wrongdoing!

[the Feanorian shade darts a quick, nervous glance at the dead High King]

Luthien: [with a fatalistic shrug]
They weren't very happy about it ultimately either. A lot of Curufin's
picked guards took to hiding where I couldn't see them from the door when
it was their turn to guard me, after I took to haranguing them about their
guest-duty and familial obligations.

[narrowing her brows]

The bit they hated the most, besides my songs, was the riddle Beren taught
me, that one about the cuckoo.

[Aegnor and Angrod exchange silent Looks]

Teler Maid:
What is a -- a cuckoo?

It's what we call a bell-bird, here.

[half to himself]

They wouldn't like that, would they . . .

How does it go, this mortal wit, my Princess?

[she lifts her head defiantly, though he was not being sarcastic just then]

--Myself in that day was given up for dead,
fatherless, motherless. I had no life then,
no friend nor elder to turn to. Then came another.
She guarded me well, giving me garments
and strong protection, held me and cherished
as dearly as her own. Even so in her shelter
I soon grew high-hearted among strangers,
striving ever as my spirit must, though but a guest.
Yet still she sheltered me, until I grew stronger
to set my sights wider. She suffered the loss
of her own sons and daughters for that deed.

[there are mixed reactions -- those of Aman do not understand all the
connotations, while those hailing from Beleriand get it, but the Ten look
more vindictively pleased, while Finrod's kinsmen angry-grim, and the
Warden of Aglon insulted and resentful]

Teler Maid:
How means yon riddle a bell-bird?

In the woods back home, the cuckoos lay their eggs in the nests of
unsuspecting thrushes and warblers when the parents are foraging, and
then go off, leaving their nestlings to hatch and be reared by the
other birds.

Teler Maid: [outraged]
Why, that is most unfair, and cheating, indeed!

[the Feanorian lord sneers at her naivete]

Gets worse -- they're not content to skive off the parents and take some
of the other chicks' share, they go further and fling out the real young
ones, so that they can get all the food and care for themselves. Then
after they've destroyed their hosts' family, they fly off and do the same
thing themselves to some other victim.

That's disgusting.


And it does fit, in a peculiar sort of way.

[Finarfin takes his sister-in-law's hand in a gesture intended to comfort,
if not effective]

Luthien: [forlorn]
Yes, but it didn't work.

Not the way you intended, but certainly it had some influence after,
or else our cousins would still be in power there. Probably in authority,
too, if not legitimate, since it sounds as though they had designs against
Orodreth, if Celegorm was talking about making himself King over all
southern Beleriand. Undoubtedly your exhortations were very much in
everyone's hearts when the counter-coup took place.

Luthien: [unhappily]
But is that really a good thing? What with you being dead, mightn't it
be more practical to have a strong leadership, at least, regardless of
the justice of it, simply for the common good? Because of the War?

[a distinct chill settles upon all present, except Finrod himself, who reaches
out and takes firm hold of both her hands]

A King and his Steward who didn't know enough not to antagonize --
further -- their largest and longest-ruling neighbor, whose support
covers a broad ethnic base and whose territorial integrity alone has
not been compromised during the recent defeats? To put it bluntly --
and insulting nobody present -- Celegorm has less political awareness,
I'm afraid, than does Lord Huan, who hasn't any obligations of diplomacy
nor would any reasonably expect him, as pack leader, to have. Close
contact with those our cousins over an extended time made it increasingly
clear to me why Maedhros chose to sequester them prudently a long ways
from civilized society, where they weren't likely to antagonize any other
Elves outside their own followings.

[his siblings bridle at this, but check when they see he is teasing them,
with a slight twinkle in his expression as he gives them a sidelong Look]

Aegnor: [very gruff]
It isn't funny.

Parts of it are, nonetheless.

[turning back to Luthien]

--Had our kinsmen remained in charge, your father would have invaded
Nargothrond, would he not?

[Luthien nods grimly]

And that wouldn't have been a good thing.

Luthien: [almost whispering]

[the Sea-elf has been frowning to herself in concentration, and finally
speaks out again]

Teler Maid:
Why make your bell-birds yonder such fell murder, when they need not
kill to feed themselves, where 'tis fodder free-growing for all the
birds of the wood?

It's the Marring, Sea-Mew. Everything fights itself to some extent,
in Middle-earth, needful or not. And they'd rather not work for what
they need, when others will do it for them.

Teler Maid: [wrapping her arms around her knees and leaning her chin on them]
Like our ships.


Amarie: [very sadly]

Finrod: [lecturing]
Luthien, none of this is your fault. No more than it's Beren's -- you
happened to wander into the way of our Doom, just as he did, and you're
no more to be blamed for what followed on that than you are for falling
in love in the first place. You wouldn't blame the Sea-Mew here, any more
than your uncle my grandfather, for the fact that those vessels were
coveted and appropriated by our cousins? The uncoerced behaviour of other
persons in or out of Nargothrond is not attributable to your own.

I know that. But--


--I heard a great deal of the opposite of that, in and out of Nargothrond.

[heavy silence]

Soldier: [somewhat shyly]
My Lady--

[as she turns to look directly at him he loses his hesitancy]

--could you perchance tell us of our own kin and other friends we left
behind back home?

Of course--


I mean -- as best I can -- but I'm afraid it might not be very well
at all. I -- met some of your nearest there, more than I know, probably,
but -- they didn't all identify themselves as such, and those who did--

[getting quieter and more unhappy]

--tended to blame all of you as much as they did us.

[the Apprentice straightens where he is sitting, watching with a somewhat
detached interest, as might be expected of a friendly onlooker at a family
reunion, and his expression grows graver]

Soldier: [shaking his head]
I wouldn't expect any different, given what I left to, and the same for
nigh us all, I think--

[his friends also nod, their expressions bittersweet as his]

--but still it's home, and hearth, and memory of better days, better
than naught--

[Luthien nods in answer, reaching out her hands towards the Ten]

Luthien: [a little choked up]
Give me their names and manners, and I'll do my best to give report of them--

Apprentice: [in a worried, responsible tone]
I don't think that's really a good idea.

[she turns sharply to gaze at him]

Luthien: [short]
Why not?

Well -- because -- you're supposed to be leaving the conflicts of the past
behind here. It's--

Luthien: [cutting him off]
Isn't it about healing?

Apprentice: [defensive, responsible, and increasingly harried]
Yes and reopening old wounds and resentments won't assist that, now will it?


Finrod: [talking right over her]
I don't see anyone putting a stop to our asking -- or even giving stringent
warnings against it.

Yes, but--

Finrod: [going on regardless]
In fact, I've never heard of anyone being forbidden to send their dead
relatives messages -- even if they don't often get answered -- so by
extension it doesn't seem as though there'd be any problem with us
asking after our living ones--

--there's no one else here to--

Finrod: [still talking over him]
-- as much as we want. No one told me I couldn't send an apology to my
lady, after all -- except for her, that is--

[Amarie clenches fists and teeth on a retort]

No, it's just you, you get exceptions made for you all the time--

No. I merely do things nobody else does, and then the Powers that are here
have to come up with some way to deal with them. --You should try it some time.

Luthien: [slightly manic tone and expression]
I am.

Fingolfin: [pained exasperation]
Might we please leave the rest of our family out of this?

[his nephews don't notice]

And actually that isn't true, because people who don't stop pestering
their dead relations are told off to give them peace and quiet to decide
in, and stop hounding them with pleas meanwhile.

Fingolfin: [grimly]

But that's only temporary--

Fingolfin: [raising his voice loudly for the first time]
--Grinding Ice!! Will you boys leave your grandfather's memory in peace?!


Sorry, Father -- Uncle -- Aunt 'Danel.


[Aegnor bows his head in stiff apology, while their elders share Looks of mild exasperation]

Fingolfin: [offhand]
You see, my brother, they're not irreverent because they are dead,
but because death of itself suffices not to diminish overconfidence,
unmindfulness, obstinacy, pride, or--

[glancing from his nephews to pass with a slow cool gaze over their followers]

--a twisted sense of what is deemed humorous.

Captain: [innocent]
I beg your pardon, Sire, but surely you're not referring to any of the
present company?

Aegnor: [aside, exasperated]
Is there no end to your stupid jokes?:

Fingolfin: [equally wickedly bland]
But of course not, friends.

[the Apprentice shakes his head helplessly, and settles down again leaning
his chin on his hand as he gives up trying to excercise any control -- while
behind him the orb of the palantir flashes again, quite unnoticed.]

SCENE Vb.xviii

[Elsewhere: the Corollaire]

At the risk of sounding awful sorry for myself -- I've gotta say you
must be pretty disappointed in me. And hard up for Servants.

Why would you think so?

Beren: [staring out over the plain]
Because it didn't matter in the end. You try, and you try, and you do the
best you can -- and some bastard comes along and smashes down everything
that you built up over the years, and you fight him off and put it back
together again, and it just happens all over again, and you can't defend
it all, and each time there's less to fix, and whatever you manage to save
means that there's something else that you're not protecting, and eventually
there's nothing left because it's so much faster to burn things down than
to build them. And nothing can grow when everything's being burned and
trampled and no one's there to look after things. And finally you have to
go, and whatever you did is lost and ruined.

[he is struggling to keep from breaking down, his voice unsteady as he finishes]

Yavanna: [a bit sniffly, but proud-sounding]
Yes. Yes, that's it exactly. I knew you'd understand.

[he gives her a strange Look]

It doesn't stop hurting even after thousands of years.

Beren: [surprised]
I was talking about -- myself. About us.

[smaller voice]

And you. --Not just you. --Ma'am.

[she looks intensely into his eyes, until his embarrassment and self-
consciousness fade leaving behind only the earnest effort to understand]

I never realized -- that you saw us that way. It seems -- like we'd be,
be just too small for you -- for you to notice.

[wordlessly she closes her hand and then opens it, like a conjurer doing a
trick, with something tiny -- a pebble perhaps, lying in the middle of her
palm. As he frowns at it, she folds her fingers shut and then opens them
again -- and something bright, like a dragonfly-sized metallic green-and-
gold bumblebee buzzes forth, remaining in a kind of orbit around her --
Beren stares, amazed, trying to figure out what it is, while the Earthqueen
smiles, and beckons it closer, until it settles on her forefinger, briefly
at rest. Recognizing the avian nature of it, he gasps in amazement, and the
hummingbird takes flight again, attracted to the flowers now rising high
over the grass where Vana left them.]

That -- is that real?

[laughs at himself, shaking his head]

What is it? I guess it must be one of those creatures that there's only
Quenya names for because they don't exist back home. --But that one -- was
it real, or did you just make it to show me that? And the vole, only they
don't usually have ears like that -- I mean, are they just going to disappear
when you stop thinking about them? Or are they real like me, at least?

Yavanna: [amused]
You're worried about little animals that might be imaginary. Do you still
wonder why you're my Champion?


Even hummingbirds dream, though they don't rest much.

So when a -- hummingbird -- dreams, it dreams about you.

Yavanna: [shrugging]
About being a hummingbird. I simply called it over. Very few people pay
much attention to us, you know. Even here. Quite properly -- this isn't
for us, after all.

[as he still looks confused]

The Song. Arda. It's for all of you.

Oh. Okay, I see. --Are their eggs really the size of small beans?

[she nods]

That's hard to believe. All right, I get that if you care about a bird
that's not much bigger than a big bug, then it's not impossible for you
to know about or care about any of us, but that just leaves me even more

And you're quite correct. There's too much of Ea for any one of us to attend
to every aspect of all parts of it. That's why it goes without requiring
interference, mostly -- why we made it that way. You don't think that I have
to come and pollinate every seed and ripen every grain and berry by hand, do
you? As if there's enough time for that! We're much better artists than that.
Things look after themselves, except when Melkor breaks them.

Beren: [noncommittally]
That seems to happen a lot, though.

That's why we specialize. If I were to allow myself to get as upset about
everything of mine that's been wrecked -- let alone everyone else's Work
-- as they deserved, I wouldn't be able to function. None of us could.
And that would be very bad for the world.

Beren: [neutral]
I thought you didn't do everything yourself, though.

You were never lord in your own hall, with your lady at your side -- but
your experience and wits should still suffice to tell you, what happens
when those who order the moving of others cease to attend.

[after a second he looks down]

Yeah. It can't go on very long. After -- after my aunt died, my folks did
what needed to be done but if my uncle hadn't pulled himself out of it,
he wouldn't really have been Beor any more, even if we still would've
called him that out of politeness. 'Cause somebody had to make decisions
and get stuff done.

But your parents did not do all those tasks themselves, surely?

No. They just had to -- be there, mostly, so people could know that
everything was okay enough for them to do their own work and not worry
about -- well, everything. They had to do it while my uncle was in
mourning and being with my cousins, because he couldn't focus on anything
else then.

[pause -- he looks at her very seriously, working his way through it:]

That's -- that's Her job, isn't it? Because somebody has to. Because the
world deserves it. Because -- we deserve it.

[she nods]

But the day's work still has to be done and somebody has to make sure
there's enough food in the barns and the cellars for winter. Somebody
has to greet travelers and make the little ones toys and teach them
stories even if you feel like it doesn't matter if the sun comes up
ever again. It has to keep going.

Yavanna: [meaningfully]
You do understand.

Beren: [wistful]
Is -- Is it true it would destroy Beleriand, for you all to go there and
fight Morgoth up in the far North even? I mean -- I'm not trying to say
they were lying to me, but -- are you sure they're not wrong? Maybe?

You do know that the mountains of your birthplace were made in the course
of the last war? I mean really know, not just one more strange thing that
you've heard the Eldar say that sort of skates past your self's awareness
the way a leaf might drift past you in a stream, there and then gone from
your mind the next moment?

Um . . . yeah . . .

[giving her a sidelong Look]


[she shrugs]

Unfortunately that part of the earth isn't my field, if you'll excuse the
joke -- such a curious thing, using words as toys, I still don't understand
how the Eldar came up with it -- but my husband's, and when he starts talking
about subduction and transverse faults and so on, my mind starts glazing over.
The best way I can explain it is that mountains have to come from somewhere,
and something has to go in where they used to be; you can't just have nothing,
not within the World. Look--

[she spreads out the hem of her skirt in front of her and manifests a handful of
fine sand, sprinkling it over the fabric so that it fills up between where the
grass makes rises in the cloth]

This is water. It goes wherever the ground is lowest, you know that.

Because it's always trying to get back to its home.

[she nods. Sprinkling a handful of small flower petals in between, covering the
rest of the cloth]

This is everything else. Now--

[she pinches up part of the hem]

--this is what happens when you lift up a mountain in the middle of it.
Sort of.

[as she pulls the tented cloth higher, all the sand and organic matter pours
together and starts running into the grass]

Aule would laugh at me and tell you this was all wrong, and then go into
an explanation that would leave you thinking that the earth was really
made out of numbers instead, but as analogies go, it's pretty accurate
really. You have to imagine that it's happening in fits and starts and
that the fabric of the crust is more brittle in places and so it rips
and the hot melted parts that keep everything going are coming out through
the holes.

[he points to a place where some of the biomass has caught in a fold]

Beren: [very quietly]
There's still a little bit left.

How is it doing?


It looks all mixed together to me.

[Beren doesn't say anything]

Something would survive. It did the first time, and last time as well. But
the ocean will move in where the ground pushes in--

[she presses down the edge of her skirt into the grass, which dips over the
hem as the remaining sand spills off]

--and the fires which come up will burn what is near them, and that will
cause storms much worse than the seasonal ones--

[she blows at the flower petals, which drift away]

--and what was done to Dorthonion in the course of trying to chivy you out
will seem like nothing by comparison.


Do you really want that to happen to Middle-earth? Even if it does come
as the price of Melkor's defeat?

[he shakes his head, not looking up. She smoothes his hair and rubs his back
in a consoling gesture]

--Neither do I.


[The Hall]

Finrod: [gently chiding tone]
You should have come to visit us before the War broke out.

Luthien: [bittersweet smile]
That's what I said to Finduilas . . .

[looks around]

Where is that dog? Huan, you have to come here, you're the hero of this
part -- come down where I can praise you properly.

[reluctantly the Hound gets up, still skulking rather, and squeezes his way
through the company, who edge aside to make room for him. He hunkers down
behind Luthien on the other side, (since the space in front of the steps is
now full of map) and puts his head across her lap. She gives him a quick kiss
on the forehead and uses him quite casually as an armrest during the following
exchanges. During all this movement Aredhel and Eol reappear, silently and
somewhat tenuously, off to one side of the dais. They look about, hackles
raised, daring anyone to notice or comment. There is something slightly
different about their appearance, but hard to say what. Only now do they look
at each other, with closed expressions:]


--Don't say anything.
--Shut up.


--It means nothing--

--It doesn't mean anything--

[they stop and glare briefly (but curiously) at each other, then look
determinedly away]

Some sort of Ainur trick, that's all.

[she nods shortly; they sit down on the steps, at a distance from the rest
but on the same side, though at arm's length from each other. After a moment
the Noldor princess gives her husband a sidelong Look.]

Aredhel: [amused]
So . . . that's what you really want--

Eol: [interrupting, through clenched teeth]
--Shut up.

[by now it might have been noticed by viewers that neither of the couple is
armed, and Eol though still dressed in all black, is no longer wearing his
armour beneath his cloak. The Sea-elf leans over and whispers to her former

Teler Maid: [impressed]
How knew you, that 'twould surpass the setting of false fire about her
blade for diversion and mirth, to let her gain the Lady's notice?

Just insight, lass, just plain old tercen. And deduction.

[shaking his head]

She'd not be warned by me. And Master Smith has trouble discerning his
own best interests, no less. They were bound to fall foul of her soon enough.

So, anyway, we discussed several possible approaches to dealing with Enemy
minions, and Huan definitely didn't think my idea of trying to sneak in and
get work working as another slave in the kitchens or something would work,
but then I wasn't sure if his idea of pretending to be sick or injured out
in the woods beside the river bank away from the bridge and me going and
pretending to betray him to Sauron out of revenge for him capturing me and
giving me over to the Kinslayers would work. After all, the Terrible One
might just keep me there and send a minion out to look for him -- though
I was willing to try -- and then we came up with the idea of me luring him
out, and Huan jumping on him from behind when he came to try to capture me.

[through this narration Finrod and his relations, most particularly Nerdanel,
are giving her extremely and increasingly strange Looks]


[he is giving her a baffled smile, which only succeeds in spreading the confusion]

? ? ?

You, and Huan . . . ?

Luthien: [frowning]
There wasn't anyone else there -- Celebrimbor had already gone away and
didn't come back.

. . .

[the Steward leans back, looking faintly amused]

The answer, my lord, is "yes."

Finrod: [still looking confused]
But when did you learn to speak with kelvar, cousin? Or is that something
you've always been able to do, like understanding trees, and never
mentioned ere now?

Luthien: [worried]
I'm sorry, I don't understand what you're asking, Finrod.

Finrod: [flatly]
You and Huan were discussing things.

[she nods]

Third Guard: [earnest]
The Hound does talk, Sire.

[as the High Kings, living and dead, and the other Eldar, lawful or otherwise,
stare at him]

Beren said so.

[biting his lip, Finrod looks at Huan, then at Luthien, still not knowing quite
what to say. The Lord Warden shakes his head with a look of annoyance and scorn]

Aglon: [intending to be heard]
Dogs aren't quendi, you fools.


What, dost claim yon gangling rebel hound be more and greater nor any whelp
other of Lord Orome's breeding?

[she and the Warden glare at each other, momentarily, both furious at having
shared an opinion in public, and ostentatiously look away from each other; Huan
whines sadly]

Luthien: [shrugging]
I don't know. I don't know if he's any different from the rest of Tavros'
pack. All I know is, he's the best dog I've ever had or heard of.


And a better friend I've never had, either.

[the Ambassador turns his head away, hiding a stricken expression behind his hand]

Angrod: [not quite aside either]
We always did say he understood every word we said . . .

Are you--

[closes his eyes, starts over again. Carefully:]

Has anyone besides yourself heard him?

Luthien: [straightfaced]
Well, -- Beren.


And my father. And Mablung. And Beleg. And a whole lot of other people who
were there when he died.

[stroking the Hound's ears gently as she finishes]

Finrod: [blankly]
All right.

[leaning back to look at the Captain]

You weren't making a joke about it, then, earlier.

No, Sir.

Nerdanel: [resigned, though her brothers-in-law still look dubious, as do others]
Nay, I do confess me much astonisht withal -- yet truly, ever did we say
him wise, clever, and cunning in wit nigh as any Elf, about the House,
in lost Day.

Huan: [grinning]
[happy tail thumps]

Ow! --Huan!!

Aredhel: [very aside]
What utter rot.

Eol: [just as obviously not intended to be heard by Luthien]
Obviously. I told you my royal family were mad.

Apprentice: [generally, smug]
Oh, there'll be far stranger things than a talking dog before this
is over--!

Finrod: [struggling to not be incredulous]
So . . .

[he covers by reaching over to scratch Huan's nose, but is plainly rattled]

. . . ah, you came up with a plan to draw Sauron out and trap him,
between the two of you. I mean, between the two of you, you came up
with a plan . . .

It works the other way, too.

It . . . sounds very . . . simple.

[aside, aghast]

--And completely insane--!!

Luthien: [crossly]
Well, I challenge you to come up with a better one on short notice--

[breaking off]

Oh -- no, I -- I didn't mean to say that, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry--

[she clutches her temples, grimacing, (fortunately at this point nothing she can
do one way or the other can make her hair any worse) while Finrod shakes his head,
trying to reassure her -- but not able to get through until Luthien experiences
again for herself the dampening consequences of being distraught around a large
friendly canid, as Huan takes advantage of proximity to snuffle in her ear and
under her chin]

Finrod: [rubbing her shoulder]
Shh -- I understand.

[Luthien pulls herself together, not entirely over her attack of remorse]

It's still insane.

[as she gives him a wary Look]

--What did Beren say about it, I wonder?

[she glares at the ceiling arches]

That's what I thought. So -- I gather you rode Huan, then, like a horse?

[the Lord of Dogs wags his tail again before remembering that there are other
people about]

Well, there isn't--

[checks -- wryly, glancing over at the Apprentice]

--wasn't -- a faster mount in my stables, so that part at least was
sane, in my judgment. And he'd be better than any warsteed for dealing
with any enemy patrols you might have run into.

[melancholy whine]

Luthien: [concerned]
Are you going to be all right with me telling this?

[her cousin nods, smiling just a little; she looks around at the rest of his
relatives, and continues rather acerbically]

Just to warn all of you, I'm not -- and I'm probably going to start crying
again at some point.

[to Finrod, anxious again]

--Are you sure?

[he nods again, not looking away from her]

It's over for us.

Teler Maid: [very abruptly]
I do not wish to hear this part again.

[she gets up and goes to the Falls, a little way from where the Youngest Ranger
is lying down, and kneels down to watch the water too.]

Elenwe: [considering Finrod's kinfolk with a piercing Look]
Not for self alone doth the child speak, I deem.

Thou seest overmuch, good my niece. Yet tales there be, that rehearsal
doth not lighten, nor the passing time dull their most hurtsome edge
upon the heart.

Luthien: [very quietly]
I'm sorry, my lord -- but what happens after doesn't make much sense, if
I leave this out.

Finarfin: [resolutely]
Nay, say on: aught that hath been shall ne'er be made naught, by ceasing
to speak thereof.

[Finrod steals a concerned glance at his father -- it is only now beginning to
sink in for him what the other Elf is going through. He does not however notice
Amarie's frozen expression; Nerdanel holds out a hand to her, but the Vanyar
lady either does not or chooses not to notice, keeping hers firmly folded on
her knee as though posing for her portrait. The camera cuts over to the waterfall:
by the spill pool, the Sea-elf has already gotten bored of silence and tosses
something accurately at the unsuspecting Sindarin warrior. He startles, reaching
up to snag it out of the air and sitting bolt upright in one quick motion, then
looks bemusedly at the bracelet he has caught for himself.]

Youngest Ranger:
Rains jewelry here, eh?

Teler Maid:

[she does not sound particularly contrite, though -- he smiles at her, and
she giggles]

Youngest Ranger: [straight-faced]
What are these?

Teler Maid:
Those are pearls, which come of oysters, which are akin to snails, though
they do not look it. One finds them underwater.

Youngest Ranger:
Are you sure? They look like polished white glass to me.

Teler Maid:
Of course I am sure! I brought them up myself, and we had them for supper.
The oysters, I mean. When I was alive of course. The ones I am dreaming of.

Youngest Ranger:
How do beads come from snails?


Teler Maid:
I am not quite sure.

Youngest Ranger: [still deadpan]
Are you sure you're not making fun of me?

Teler Maid:
Yes. No, I am not, I mean.


Oh, but you are making sport of me! For you are known of Lord Cirdan, and
the havens of the Land of Morning!

Youngest Ranger:
Not I, I'm afraid. I lived my life inland, always -- I was never stationed
on the Coast.

[she makes an exasperated noise, tossing her head]

Teler Maid:
If not you, then all of you -- and indeed you must know something of them,
for there are pearls on the very image of your cloak-pin there!


Do you also know the way of it that pearls are fashioned, then?

[he shakes his head]

I must ask my Lady someday, that is all.

[when he goes to give her back the bracelet she makes a "keep it" gesture, and
looks at him thoughtfully with her head on one side.]

Are you afraid of Lady Uinen?

Youngest Ranger: [at a loss]
I --'ve not had the honor -- never been introduced--

Teler Maid: [probing]
But would you, if you were to chance to meet her?

[he starts knotting the pearls into the end of his braid]

Youngest Ranger: [very busily not looking at her]

Teler Maid:
But you are are a warrior, you have fought demons and do not fear to wield
weapons! And you are clever, you even know how to call things out of rocks!

[she waves towards the Falls]

Youngest Ranger: [dismissive]
I learned that from the King. I don't understand what I'm doing enough to
teach anyone else, and I think that's part of doing anything properly. And
I grew up always knowing that there were creatures of the Enemy out there,
and that people I knew had fought them, and might have to again. I didn't
grow up knowing the gods as neighbors.

Teler Maid: [even more dismissive in turn]
Yes, but you have met them now, have you not? So why do you yet fear them?


Youngest Ranger:
I think when you and I look at things, we see them differently.

Teler Maid:
Of course! Or we should not be different people.

Youngest Ranger: [patient]
I mean, more differently than most differences. --When I look at the gods,
it's like standing by the smeltry and watching them cast ingots for the
forging. That level of raw energy, even if it's completely controlled,
scares me more than I can tell. I trust the smiths, but I don't like being
around so much power. I don't think it's the same for you.

Teler Maid:
You do not like the gods.

[worried and scolding]

Are the words of those proud Noldor true, then, though they should not
mock anyone for Turning, that you do reject the Powers of our land?

Youngest Ranger:
That wasn't what I said.

Teler Maid:
But it was in your thought.

Youngest Ranger: [correcting patiently]
I don't like being around them. It frightens me.


Though a lot of that was my own fears, about being sent back. Now that
I know they were right, that no one has to leave before he's ready, the
idea of the Lord and Lady doesn't make me sick with anxiousness.

Teler Maid: [with a sulky but self-directed humor]
That, you might indeed have known, did you but consider me -- even were
you not willing to trust your friends' wisdom!

Youngest Ranger:
But I didn't know it. Not until I was willing to ask Them and risk the answer.

Teler Maid:
Are you afraid of Nienna, too?

Youngest Ranger: [surprised tone]

Teler Maid:
Why? Or not, as it rather were.


Youngest Ranger:



[she gives him a Look, and he sighs and goes on]

--Because when She looks at you, you know that nothing you've done,
nothing that was done to you, nothing you could ever do, and nothing
you didn't do, could ever make Her look at you in any other way. --Or
look away from you. How could I be frightened by Love that doesn't
demand anything of me in return, doesn't judge me, has no conditions,
and won't ever stop?


I'm not sure why House Feanor is so afraid of her, myself.

[the other shade looks away, subdued, and slumps down to lean on the rocks
and watch the flames on the water for a while]

Teler Maid: [very quietly]
Because it makes one to wish to become worthy of that love.


[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

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?

Yavanna: [sadly]
I'm afraid I can't tell you.

Beren: [nodding]
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.

Beren: [embarrassed]

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.


--Huan, too.

You mean the Song.

Yavanna: [nodding]
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.

Beren: [hopefully]
But -- not that tall, right?

Oh yes. Easily.


Beren: [apprehensive]

With their foreheads.

[longer pause]

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]

Beren: [flustered]
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?

Yavanna: [sad]
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 certainty of famine makes the likelihood of sacrificing
a leader worthwhile. --Which is a fair bargain.


Beren: [wide-eyed]
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.

To be continued…