This chapter in honor of
John Edward Moreton Drax Plunkett, Lord Dunsany, for giving us
King Argimenes and the Unknown Warrior


and Willie Yeats for so very much, and not forgetting
The Countess Cathleen

"The storm is in my hair and I must go—"

Click to open a new window with a hi-res version suitable for printing

Act III of The Lay of Leithian
retold in the vernacular as a dramatic script
(with apologies to Messrs. Tolkien & Shakespeare)
(and thanks to M. Moliere & Miss Austen for assistance)

Dramatis Personae & Cast, in order of appearance
[this is how I'd cast them - you're free to supply your own actors, of course.]

    The Human Bard Gower (appearing courtesy of The Rose Playhouse)
        Derek Jacobi (appearing courtesy Henry V)

    Luthien, called Tinuviel, Princess of Doriath
        Claudia Black (appearing courtesy of Farscape)

    Orodreth, Prince of Nargothrond
        Hugh Grant (appearing courtesy Sense and Sensibility)

    Celegorm, Son of Feanor
        James Marsters in suave, charming, and gentlemanly mode (courtesy Mutant Enemy)

    Curufin, Son of Feanor
        James Marsters in sly, caustic and vicious mode (courtesy Mutant Enemy)

    Finduilas, Princess of Nargothrond, daughter of Orodreth
        Gelsey Kirkland (appearing courtesy the Baryshnikov Nutcracker telecast)

    Celebrimbor, Son of Curufin
        Alexis Denisof (appearing courtesy Mutant Enemy)

    Gwindor, a Lord of Nargothrond
        Ioan Gruffydd (appearing courtesy A&E's Horatio Hornblower series)

    Huan of Valinor
        Special guest appearance as Himself

       Assorted Nargothronders of both Houses: Rangers, Citizens, and Knights


                            In longsome time
        fair Luthien to Nargothrond hath fared
        by pathways strange and secret under star
        and light of moon, 'scaping the trammels set
        by love that seeks too hardily to save
        drawn forth from that shelt'ring snare
        by binding far stronger than that rope of hair
        her path sheer straight from Hirilorn's crown
        --a track more steep than scales Gorgoroth down.
            Now as a prize to the Elven city borne
        taken in her hasting flight by the Hound of Celegorm,
        the Nightingale of Doriath with close-pent wings
        rants against her cage; weeping, herself she flings,
        -- having exchanged but snare for snare --
        in futile dread and rage and hot despair.
            Rising her sureness of yet one treason more
        by hours: first Daeron, jealous; then swore
        Elu Thingol, and yet forswore, though formal-true;
        then Daeron again, breaking his vow implied:
        whereon her father cedes wisdom to fear and pride
        prisoning her, whilst mourning her mother stood aside.
            This new betrayal less false than all of these,
        that she, and only she, is purposed to deceive,
        -- not self, in fond disguise of pure devotion.
        Of all her kindred, all whom 'friend' should claim,
        but one, as yet, hath proven true: -- the same
        who clear once called by her heart's true name.

    [The great hall (or probably, indeed, a great hall) of the fortress-palace of
    Nargothrond. A banquet is underway. In the high seats are the Regent Orodreth
    and his household, and in the places of honor, Lords Curufin, Celegorm, and their
    entourage. Especially honored on the royal dais is Luthien of Doriath.  She does
    not look the part of an Elven princess of high degree.  Her hair is bobbed short
    and rather wildly curly, her clothes are defiantly the travelworn white dress
    and blue wrapper, and she is not at all serene, but rather pale and stressed-out
    yet nonetheless determined. (She looks a bit like an older version of Trina
    Schart Hyman's illustration of Ronia, the Robber's Daughter by Astrid Lindgren,
    as a matter of fact, if Ronia were wearing a costume designed by Sir Lawrence
    Alma-Tadema instead.)

        Dear lady, you've not touched your plate at all.  Is our food too rich for
        one accustomed to simpler fare?

        No, my lord Regent -- it's only that I have no appetite when I think of Beren
        in pain and privation.  How long till your army can ride forth?

        Highness, it is not that easily arranged. Such -- such things take time --

        -- It's been two days since you brought me here.  Two entire days!
        He could be dying!

Celegorm: [aside to Curufin]
        We could be so lucky --

Curufin: [low]

        --And I've seen no sign yet of any readying whatsoever. You told me, my
        lord Curufin, that you would expedite the preparation of a rescue mission,
        and I'd like to know what progress has been made. You haven't kept me
        updated at all.

    [Conversation all around drops off to an all-time lull, for a variety of reasons;
     even the background music dies down as the harpers attempt to play low enough that
     they can follow the exchanges.]

Curufin: [very polite but patronizing nevertheless]
        Lovely princess, it takes time as I explained before, to ready such things
        as equipment and provisions and horse and armor and all the equipage of war.
        You can't just grab a spear, a shield, and go, you see.

Luthien: [frowning]
        That's funny, because we never stand down completely.  Are you trying to tell
        me that Nargothrond is so complacent about your secrecy that you're completely
        unprepared for combat?

Curufin: [indulgent patience]
        Planning an expedition to Angband is not like routing a few squads of probing
        Orcs, milady. There are plans to be made, complex preparations, and much work to
        be taken care of, lest we simply run headlong into catastrophe as your friend
        has done.

    [coming to a new level of suspicion]
        I see. Forgive my lack of understanding -- I've never waged a war, you see.

    [to Orodreth]

        You will let me know as soon as your men are ready to ride forth? And if there's
        anything I can do to help things -- mend gear, bake lembas, fletch arrows or
        ready medicinal spells -- I'll gladly work night and day until all's done.

Orodreth: [coolly, but not with obvious sarcasm]
        Highness, we certainly are grateful for your offer of assistance, but
        Nargothrond scarcely needs such further heroic efforts from yourself. But we
        will certainly keep you advised of what progress has been made.

    [Celegorm shoots him a narrow look, displeased. Celebrimbor raises an eyebrow, but
     keeps his thoughts to himself. The Regent's daughter and her fiancee look distressed.]

Celegorm: [changing subject by force]
        Dear Lady Luthien! The voices of Melian and her fair daughter are renowned
        throughout the lands. Surely in return for your welcome and guesting here,
        you could spare us one shortest of songs?

    [Luthien stares at him in disbelief.  Something snaps.]

        Yes. -- I will sing you a song that you have perhaps not yet heard.

    [She rises and gathers herself as if going into battle; the cold gleam in her
    eyes betrays the fact that she is also very much her father's daughter, however
    different their styles of combat.]

        Your Highness, what mode shall the accompanying flow be cast in?
        The primal mode of Starrise, or the threnodic mode of Moonrise, or
        the simpler, yet more vigorous strains of Sunrise?

        None. There's no accompaniment. It should be a duet: I'll take both parts.

    [hums note softly, finds the octave. Takes a deep breath and forges onward.]

                 O fare thee well, I must be gone
                    and leave you for a while --
                  Where e'er I go I will return,
                      if I go ten thousand miles!

               O ten thousand miles it is so far
                    to leave me here alone,
                  While I may lie, lament and cry
                    and you, you'll not hear my moan!

                O the crow that is so black my love
                    will change his color white --
                  I'll never be false to you my love
                      till the day, day turns to night!

                O the rivers they all will run dry
                    and rocks melt in the sun --
                  I'll ne'er prove false to the one I love
                      till all these things be done!

    [There is silence -- the hush of profound appreciation that is Elven applause.]

Orodreth: [at last]
        Superb . . . superb. Is that one of your renowned Daeron's songs? Menegroth
        is justly proud of her sons -- and daughters!

Luthien: [in a small precise voice]
        No. That is one of the songs of Dorthonion. My Beren learned it from his
        mother Emeldir, who sang it with his father Barahir and learned it of her
        father who was also named Beren, who gave it to my Beren's grandmother
        when first she came to dwell in Dorthonion from Hithlum. It is a very old
        song. It was believed that his grandfather's mother sang it first. I am
        glad you like it.

    [She sits down and demurely sips her wine, with no indication in her manner of
    having just suffered defeat, nor that she was attempting any Working in her song.
    There is a different kind of silence in the banquet hall.]

Curufin: [to Celegorm, undertone]
        That is not happening again.

        Confident of their confirméd vic'try now,
        the sons of Feanor count o'er their spoils,
        the full-achieved, as bold they do allow,
        and the newer prize that's taken in their toils --

    [The royal apartments, now occupied by Orodreth's household, and with a much less
    "lived-in" look to them -- though not cluttered before, it's clearly not a place
    belonging to an artist-architect-strategist-explorer-linguist-loremaster-musician,
    now -- merely a central location for government. Curufin and Celegorm are once again
    making free of the place, but the feel is very different when they come in and sprawl
    in the chairs by the fireplace. Orodreth is trying to work at the table, despite their
    presence. Huan is, once again, apparently dozing on the hearth.]

        I never get over how nice these digs are. Cousin Finrod certainly didn't stint
        himself. You've done well by the move, hey, Orodreth?

Orodreth: [flat voice]
        I don't recollect that you were lodged in the kennels prior to and including
        this summer. If you wanted improvements you'd only to make them. That is, after
        all, what everyone else did.

Curufin: [ignoring this, continuing discussion with Celegorm from outside]
        I wonder if they're really betrothed, or if she's only saying that to make it
        sound more respectable?

Orodreth: [dryly]
        Yes, clearly that's of the most tremendous and pressing concern to Her Highness.

Celegorm: [ignoring this too]
        I doubt it -- he wasn't wearing any rings but the signet, and she's certainly
        not got one either.

        Well, naturally -- where would he get any silver to make one? Not that he'd know
        how in any case. And even if she supplied both of them, it would be too obvious
        -- no chance of keeping it secret if she started wearing a ring all of the sudden.

        I didn't get the impression she was trying to be secret about it, myself, but
        rather that she thought it was no anyone else's concern but their own. --Is that
        even a custom of Middle-earth originally? It could well be something our parents'
        generation came up with, back home. I wouldn't know about that myself, of course:
        I was never the one interested in "was" and "might have been" and "could be" --

        --What's the matter with you? Weren't we boon companions before, always with
        the merry jest and the shared glass and the riding to the hunt and the cheer
        of good fellowship, Orodreth?

        Well, yes, but that was before you led a revolution against my . . . House --
        we were all equals, in those days.

Curufin: [sweetly poisonous]
        And now you are ruler, my lord --

Orodreth: [icy]
        Now I am Regent, my lord -- a mere placeholder, and no more. When are you going
        to tell her? Or are you planning on waiting for her to get tired of waiting first?

Curufin: [colder still]
        I thought we had reached an understanding in which you, and your House, were not
        going to interfere with us, and ours. Is that not so? Or am I mistaken, Lord Regent?

Orodreth: [sardonic smile]
        My concern is the well-being of this City, and its realm, and its people. Apart from
        that, and outside of that, is not my concern. How you rule the affairs of your own
        household, so long as you do not risk Nargothrond by it, is your own business.

    [goes back to scanning and occasionally signing parchments. The brothers exchange Looks.]

Curufin: [going back to their conversation]
        Dark-elf or not, it's unbelievable that any of our Kindred, however distant,
        could fall so far--

Orodreth [shaking his head]
        The daugher of Melian, a Dark-elf? Do you actually believe your own -- talk?
        --My lord.

Celegorm: [with the exasperated tone of someone going over something for the nth time]
        Even if he wasn't a mortal, can you imagine anyone -- and of royal blood! --
        being so lost to propriety as to strike up a relationship with a chance-met
        stranger of no estate and think it feasible that an alliance of blood and honor
        should be undertaken between them? Doesn't she, at least, understand that marriage
        is a binding not simply of individuals but of houses and traditions, that there
        are all kinds of implications for everyone else around them, and that no one,
        not least a scion of a ruling House of the Eldar, can act on their own whims
        without regard for these facts?

Orodreth: [as if observing to himself, aloud]
        Oh no, it isn't as though anyone else in that family has ever run into someone
        in the woods by accident and spent time with them exclusively and not told anyone
        about it nor consulted with others nor sought advice before making it final and
        fait accompli, now, is it?

    [nonplussed silence from the brothers]

        --One might, in fact, consider it practically a family tradition . . .

        You know, I don't care for your tone at all -- my Lord Steward of Nargothrond.

Orodreth: [not looking up from the scroll he is reading]
        And unless you're interested in taking over all the mind-numbingly tedious tasks
        of management which now fall to me, with far less assistance, and in which you've
        never shown the least bit of interest heretofore, -- that fact is signally
        irrelevant, my lord cousin. --Unless your brother is perchance planning on forgoing
        some of his own sport to take up the slack . . . ?

    [long silence]

Curufin: [chilly]
        --It's good we understand each other, isn't it?

    [offhand, to his brother:]

        Pass me that lute, will you?

    [testing the strings, to Orodreth:]

        Whose is this? Finduilas'? She shouldn't leave it tuned up, it'll ruin the frame,
        you know.

       --Have you not your own chambers, my lords?

        Yes, but they're not so nice as yours.

    [There is a brief staring contest, before Orodreth shakes his head in disgust and
    gathers up all his parchments and writing equipment in angry, exasperated gestures.]

Orodreth: [curt]
        If anyone's looking for me, I'll be working in the privacy of my own old office.

    [leaves with his portfolio and scribe's case while Curufin plays a cheerful little
    syncopation on the strings, discordantly out of tune]

Celegorm: [sadly]
        I don't think our cousin likes us very much any more.

        You did notice that he wasn't absolutely committed without reserve on the matter
        of noninterference?

        I guess we aren't going to tell him about the Letter, are we? --How's that coming

Curufin: [smiling in anticipation]
        Almost there. I've still got a few phrases that need work, and there are a couple
        of legal technicalities I want to be sure of before I send it off. I'll have the
        final draft done for you to look over in a few days.

        The one bad thing is, we won't be able to see Elwe's face when he gets it.
        I wish there were some way to scry that scene!

        True, alas. That would be -- amusing.


        Ah well, if wishes were horses then -- beggars -- would ride, indeed --

    [They exchange grins. On the tiles Huan, head on paws, gives a soft worried whine.]


        Having crossed the gulf, the narrow bridge (though not sword but hair)
        Tinuviel will brook no longer biding, as caged woodthrush seeks the air--

    [An empty hallway in Nargothrond. It shouldn't be spooky-looking at all, only
    deserted and rather winding, so that you can't see very far along it, because
    it follows the natural contours of the cavern from which it's been carved. Luthien
    appears around a curve, walking very carefully, one hand on the wall as though
    it were pitch-dark not pleasantly lit.]

Luthien: [under her breath, to herself]
        -- I never get lost. I don't understand it -- everything feels jumbled,
        disorganized, I can't find any center to it --I can't find East, I can't find
        West, all I can tell is up from down -- and I'm not even sure about that --

    [she sags against the wall]

        Oh, Beren, I'm no use to you at all! I've accomplished what? nothing -- I can't
        seem to make anyone understand the need for action -- you'd think they'd see the
        need for urgency right off, though -- There's something wrong here, some fog or
        darkness clouding everyone's mind, it seems, that they can't think straight, can't
        keep their priorities straight --

    [even more worried]

        I wonder -- no, surely not -- but -- I wonder if -- perhaps with the King being
        gone the wards are breaking down and Morgoth's managing to influence people somehow?
        I've heard of it, I know he tries it all the time with us and Mom stops him: is
        this what it would look like? Everybody muddled, acting like nothing's happened
        and everything is normal, no matter how crazy it is under the circumstances? Going
        about their daily business when they should be mobilizing like there's no tomorrow?

    [frowns, shaking her head]

        . . . but then I thought we had all the time in the world, too, even though I
        knew better, and now I grudge every hour I wasted this Spring -- so perhaps it's
        just that they can't help it, and I've changed so much that I can't understand
        us now . . .

    [There's a noise behind her and she jumps up straight and whirls around in a single
    movement, facing that way -- never forget that she's been a dancer longer than most
    civilizations have lasted. Sharply:]

        Who's there?

    [There is no answer: she girds up her shawl and strides around the arc of the
    passage, camera following]

        Who is -- Ah!

    [Huan is standing there, looking a bit apprehensive]

        Ohhh! --Hello. Come here--

    [she holds out her hands and claps at him, making chirping noises]

        Come on, don't be scared, good boy--

    [Huan comes closer, shy-dog mode -- though if he were not a Hound one might think
    he was embarrassed instead]

        Good dog!

    [he sniffs her hand, then licks it, and she scratches his ears]

        I'm sorry, I don't have any treats for you. I was wondering where you'd got to.
        --I wish you were my dog. That would surprise them at home, wouldn't it -- you
        wouldn't let them shut me up in a tree if you belonged to me, I'll bet. Where
        have you been? Oh, but you're a working Hound, I suppose you've been out doing
        your job, hunting Wargs.

    [Huan wags tail; she pats him hard on the neck like a horse]

        Beren would like you so much, he used to have dogs -- I wonder if you met him
        while he was here? I'm sure you'd love him too--

    [Huan leans against her and whuffs in her hair: she wipes her eyes against his
    coat. From the same direction as Huan Celegorm comes around the passage and sees them]


    [they are both startled by this]

        --Don't be frightened, my lady, he won't hurt you.

        Oh, I'm not. --I know.

Celegorm: [apologetic]
        You seemed a bit shaken up when you were last around him.

        Well, I was. Literally.

    [Celegorm gives her an awkward smile]

        Yes, I know -- I'm -- I'm sorry about that, Your Highness.

        I think twelve apologies is enough, milord, don't you? No harm was done. And the
        time could be better spent, I'm sure.

        Ah. --Right. What are you doing wandering around all by yourself? Can I help you?

        I don't know. I was trying to find the Regent's office, and someone gave me
        directions -- several someones in fact --  but I think I must have taken a wrong
        turning somewhere. Or several.

        You know, you really shouldn't be just roaming about without a guide -- it could
        be dangerous, my lady.

Luthien: [narrows eyes]

        There's all kinds of stuff goin' on here, you know. Workings you probably never
        even heard of, high-powered security features and maintainance and construction--

Luthien: [dryly]
        I imagine that I can avoid walking into a hot stove or tripping into a cistern
        on my own, Lord Celegorm.

        Where are your ladies? Not slacking off on the job? Shouldn't you have an assistant?

        I sent them away. I'm not used to having so many people around all the time.
        I haven't seen more than one or two people at once for weeks now -- until you
        caught me.

Celegorm: [ignoring the hints]
        Oh. But -- who looks after your things?

        I do. Why?

        I wish you'd accept some new clothes. You -- you shouldn't be obliged to go around
        in those awful old rags.

        I told you, I don't feel comfortable taking charity from Nargothrond without
        having presented myself properly as a guest seeking asylum to the King my cousin,
        given the unofficial and destabilizing circumstances of my arrival. There's been
        enough strife in our families as it is . . .


        . . . and I'm harder to ignore this way . . .

Celegorm: [blandly]
        He wouldn't mind, you know.

    [Huan's tail stops wagging and his head droops under Luthien's hand]

        I know. But I still just don't feel right about it. And besides -- this outfit has
        sentimental meaning for me: it's the first dress Beren saw me in. And I made it
        myself, it isn't something my mother made for me -- I didn't take anything they
        gave me -- so for a lot of reasons I'm rather attached to it.

        But -- the edges, the what-d'ye-call-ems, hems, are all coming off. Getting to be
        less and less attached to it, so to speak.

        It's not so bad. I can just rip the loose bits off.

Celegorm: [embarrased]
        But, well, I mean -- they're going to get awfully grubby, aren't they?

Luthien: [shrugs]
        I wash them in the sink and put them on chairs in front of the fire at night.
        That's what I did while I was on the road. Only streams, of course, not a basin.
        That would have been a little much to carry along.

Celegorm: [distressed look]
        But -- surely -- you weren't just hanging about the woods in the altogether,
        waiting for your garments to dry?!

        Oh, no, I just wore my cape until I finished wringing them. Damp clothes are just
        an annoyance, anyway. They dry out fast enough if you keep walking quickly.

    [Celegorm looks at a loss -- the expression of someone in the difficult situation of
    wanting to say that's barbaric and revolting but recognizing that it would be impolitic
    to say so, and also wanting to find some way to excuse it just because of who the person
    responsible is...]

        Anyway, where is my cape? Surely the Sages can't still be trying to figure out how
        it works? They ought to ask me, if they can't figure it out, though I probably won't
        be able to help them duplicate the results, since I made it all up as I went along.

        Ah. --Yes. You'd have to check with my brother about that, I really couldn't say
        myself. He'll know how they're coming along -- ask him when you next see him,
        all right?


        Which'll be quite a while if he can help it.

        Maybe you can help me find him after we talk to Orodreth, then?

        My lady, I'll be happy and delighted to spend the day with you.

        The day?! Surely it won't take that long to get to Orodreth's office!

        What? Oh -- I mean, it might take a while to get in to see him. He's awfully busy,
        you know.

       Then can we go find Lord Curufin first, and ask him about my cape?

        Oh, he isn't around right now -- he's out with the Border Guard right now.

        So can we go find him?

        Well -- they've ridden a good ways out --


        It's dangerous out there, your Highness . . . besides, what do you need it right
        now for? You're not planning on leaving us so soon, I hope!

        So? It's mine. And I'm not comfortable having it out of my hands. It is part
        of me, after all.

Celegorm: [chuckles]
        Was, you mean.

Luthien: [narrow look]
        My hair is still mine. I didn't give it away.

Celegorm: [grinning]
        So, if you gave me a lock, then --

    [pulls a curl and lets it spring back]

        --would that mean you had a, hah,  split personality?

Luthien: [annoyed]
        Please don't touch my hair. --Can we go and find the Regent's office, now, milord?

    [As Celegorm bows and starts walking leisurely back along the way he and Huan came,
    she steps up the pace so that he has to hurry to stay level with her. Something falls
    from the edge of her blue wrap and hits the floor with a sharp clink.]

        Oh --

    [halts her]

        What is it?

        You lost a star. --Part of a star, at least. A ray, looks like--

    [He bends and picks up the gem for her.]

Luthien: [blankly]

    [keeps walking, disregards it]

        Don't you want it? I can have someone sew it back on for you--

Luthien: [shrugging]
        I can do that. It -- just -- isn't very important, really.

        May I have it?

Luthien: [blinks]
        You've a shortage of quartz, my lord?

Celegorm: [laughs]
        I was going to make it into something else for you, since your mantle's such
        a wreck; I thought it might make the heart of a nice pendant. Though actually
        I'd get my brother to do it -- he's the artist of the family.

    [pause -- Luthien just looks at him]

        What? Don't you wear jewelry in Doriath? Or just things made from natural stuff,
        like, oh, flowers and leaves and all?

    [pause continues]

Luthien: [flatly]
        Aren't there really more important things to be devoting your energy to? --Such
        as getting the rescue mission underway?


Celegorm: [utmost sincerity]
        --We Noldor are good at multitasking, your Highness.


    [Huan's head and tail go lower]

Celegorm: [hurt]
        You don't sound as though you believe me. I'm crushed, Lady Luthien, absolutely

Luthien: [troubled]
        Well, I'm not entirely reassured by what I've seen -- or haven't seen. And you
        still haven't explained why you pretended you didn't know what I was talking
        about when you met me, or why you pretended to be "Lords Atarin and Turcofin of
        Nargothrond" --?

        We weren't pretending. Never said we didn't know what you were talking about,
        did we?

        But -- you know what I mean -- you certainly implied it --?! And you did lie
        about your names and all, didn't you?

Celegorm: [hurt]
   &bbsp;    I wasn't lying. Nargothrond is our home now, ever since the War drove us out
        of the North Country, just like your friend Barahirion.

        And your names?

        We use names from both sides of the family in Aman. The custom's catching on
        here too, I've noticed. One from your mother, one from your father -- plus the
        extras everyone picks up along the yeni. So those really are our names, you see.
        Just not all of 'em.

Luthien: [musing]
        Well, I suppose it saves a couple the trouble of actually having to agree on
        something, doing it that way.

    [Celegorm laughs -- Luthien gives him a frowning look: it wasn't meant to be a joke.
    They start walking again]

        But why did you let me go on like that, like a complete idiot, and not tell me
        you knew all about it or who you were until we reached the City?

        Well, if we'd said, "Oh, hullo, we're some of Feanor's boys, just happening
        through in your direction with an armed party," wouldn't you have taken off
        again like a pheasant breaking? After all the harsh words your father's had
        for us?

Luthien: [very dry]
        Given the way things have been going between me and my family, lately, I'd be
        far more likely to assume gross exaggeration and given you the benefit of the
        doubt -- but I suppose you couldn't've known that. . .

        And how were we to know that you weren't some phantom or figment of the Enemy's
        making, sent to lure us into an ambush or whatnot? I mean, it isn't every day
        that my Hound brings me a gorgeous girl instead of a disgusting dead wolf, you
        know. Not until you were inside the City's defenses and didn't disappear or turn
        into a wraith or something fell like that.

        --I've heard of those . . .

    [the Carillion is heard in the halls]

        Oh! There's that bell-thing again -- it's been another what, four hours? Six?
        Can we hurry, please?

    [She darts on ahead, forcing Celegorm to catch up to her, Huan trailing him with
    tail dragging the tiles until they are out of sight around another curve.]


        Those who venture, forsaking paths, in forests dark and dolesome,
        may well find it harder far, returning to ways wholesome--

    [The royal apartments. Most everything that was Orodreth's is out now. Through one
    of the inner chamber doorways Curufin can be seen -- he goes as if to open a small
    box lying on one of the tables, but hesitates, drawing his hand back before touching
    it. Instead he opens a large flat case next to it and starts to reach in, but stops
    as Finduilas comes stalking quickly into the suite. Hastily he shuts it and turns
    around, coming out into the antechamber.]

Finduilas: [acid]
        So are you just moving in and taking over openly, now?

Curufin: [shrugs]
        Ask your father, Sparkly.

        I did. I want to hear your version.

Curufin: [mild]
        What does it matter, since you've already made up your mind?

        --So you are.

Curufin: [raises hands]
        I didn't say that. You did.

        But you implied it.

Curufin: [surprisingly unsarcastic throughout]
        No, you did. --Did you want something other than to snarl at me, little cousin?

        I'm here for my music things. And the Nauglamir.

        Yes, I was surprised to see he'd forgotten it . . .

Finduilas: [biting]
        You know he won't touch it. If it weren't so valuable he'd leave it on the
        throne with the Crown, but he says there's no sense in tempting people.

        Well, you know where it is.

    [Finduilas sweeps past him and comes back out with the large case under her arm.]

        Is that her cape in that casket beside it? The one that feels like there's
        water or wind coming off of it?

        Why do you ask, when you already know?

Finduilas: [caustic]
        What are you keeping it for, anyway? Shouldn't it be in the Research
        Department for study? Or else give it back to her?

            Little cousin, are you being naive or just affected?

        Oh! I hate you. Don't talk to me!

        I know we've had our differences --

        Differences? You take over our home, and you call that -- "differences"? You
        threatened us with civil war, and those are "differences" --?

Curufin: [holding up his hand, overriding her interruptions]
        --Did I ever do that? No. That was the construction your uncle and his partisans
        put on my words, forcing a confrontation for reasons of their own. Ask yourself
        honestly why, after so long a time without difficulty -- whith everything at
        last back to normal, or as close to normal as we will likely see in Nargothrond
        -- he should put us in such a position, fabricating an incident whereby such a
        clash was made inevitable? If that is not at all suspicious, I don't know what is--


        But that's neither here nor there. I won't argue with you when you've made up
        your mind -- especially when you know you agree with me . . .

        Stop making it sound like I'm the one being unreasonable -- what do you mean,
        "agree with" you?

Curufin: [shrugs]
        --You don't want to hear what I have to say, so what does it matter?

        Stop that! You're treating me like a child -- again.

        I beg your pardon. It's difficult being the one to see what those who haven't,
        alas, the same tragic experience can only imagine, and build opinions based on
        lofty ideals and half-heard facts not fully understood. I'm afraid I tend to get
        a bit impatient, which comes out in sarcasm.

        Don't try to win me over to your side. I'm not stupid.

        I would never suggest it. Merely -- young, and easily led.

Finduilas: [haughty]
        May I remind you, cousin, that I crossed the Grinding Ice, too.

        Indeed. --And why did you have to undergo that ordeal? Who led your group into
        that disastrous adventure? --We didn't tell you to follow us; it isn't my family
        you should be blaming for that expedition, now, --is it?

        Oh, be quiet! You twist everything around --

Curufin: [interrupting]
        Yes -- that's what your sweetheart tells you, and I'm sure it's far more pleasant,
        as well as easier, to listen to him than to me.

        --Gwin doesn't tell me how to think!

Curufin: [clearly disbelieving]
        No? Well, you should know best . . .

    [she does not answer]

        I don't expect you to change your mind about me. But I would request that you
        ask yourself -- you don't have to answer me, either -- just ask yourself,
        honestly, without worrying about what you should think, about permission--
        do you truly think that it's a good thing? --This business of one of us, getting
        romantically involved with a mortal?

        I don't see that it's anyone's business but theirs.

        Oh, you haven't thought about it at all, then.

Finduilas: [tossing her head]
        You're impossible. I don't want to hear your rationalizations.

        Of course not. You might have to actually think, then. --No, don't stamp your
        foot at me and stomp off, these shoot-from-ambush-and-run tactics aren't worthy
        of a Noldor princess. If you really believe I'm wrong, you'll be able to prove why.

    [Finduilas just gives him a Look, but doesn't say anything to contradict him, or leave.]

Curufin: [mock surprise]
        What, you're going to give me a chance to explain myself? I'm staggered by your
        generosity, your Highness! How can I repay you?

Finduilas: [dryly]
        --Don't press your luck, cousin.

    [but she is starting to smile though she fights it]

        Certainly not, I wouldn't dare -- all right, then, how is this? The ex-Lord of
        Dorthonion is undoubtedly a warrior of great prowess in the fight against our
        common adversary. I would never deny that. But is that enough? Does that actually
        mean anything, when you come right down to it?

    [Finduilas starts to interrupt, but he holds up his hand, and she waits]

        Consider the facts -- the inescapable facts of the world -- which you surely know
        far better than she, on a practical level, not an intellectual one, having spent
        so much of the time since the Return actually in day-to-day contact with Men, not
        simply having heard about them secondhand from the extremes of hostility and
        favoritism, as she. You are aware of the brevity of mortal lifespan. You have heard
        more than mere legends and romantic tales -- you also have heard the true and dreary
        stories of petty squabbles and small concerns that involved the Beorings and their
        allied nations over the centuries. But all that--

    [He frowns, looking troubled and reluctant to go on -- she gives him an impatient look]

        All that -- might not matter, were the Lady Luthien not who she is, but a simple
        woodland maiden with no other role in society. Her right to ruin her own life,
        her foolish self-deception as to the inevitable tragedy of such a union, would be
        hers alone. But that is not, unfortunately, the case. --She is, after all, like
        you the heir to a great responsibility, the throne of one of the few Elven dominions
        capable of withstanding the Enemy's assaults in these sorry days--

Finduilas: [interrupting]
        --I'm not the heir to the throne!

        --If not you, then who is? Why else does your father enlist you to do his work
        with him? He, at least, understands the need for prudence, howsoever his
        romantic ideallism wars with his sense of duty.

        My father can't stand you.

Curufin: [raises his hands helplessly]
        We do not always know our friends -- nor, I venture to say, even like them,
        contradictory as that may seem.

Fiunduilas: [sarcastic expression]

        Say, at least, that we have common cause -- that we -- all of us -- value
        Nargothrond and this realm's people above any abstractions of "duty" and "honour"
        and that as a consequence, we are bound to be misinterpreted and misjudged by those
        who let heart rule head. --Have you not experienced that yourself? Are not you,
        and your future father-in-law, made scapegrace for the unwilling recognition of
        that duty by your fiance?

    [she does not answer]

        I see that you do.

    [Finduilas goes as though they had not had this conversation to get her lute and
    folders of sheet music. Her hands are shaking, her knuckles showing on the Nauglamir's
    case  and she drops the portfolios -- while kneeling down to gather them up one handed,
    the lute strap slips off her shoulder. Curufin scoops it all together, puts the lute
    back up for her and hands her the music folios. She glares at him, her expression very
    still now, not scornful, just hostile.]

        Thank you for at least hearing me out, Highness. Just -- think about it, that's all.

    [She says nothing, and walks out with head held high. After she is out of sight,
    Curufin smiles.]

SCENE V.i [mute - no dialogue]

    [The Throne Room. It is deserted and dim inside. Huan enters, very slowly, almost
    plodding, his head and tail still dragging. He approaches the throne and stands there,
    not moving, before collapsing down suddenly with a huff and putting his nose down on
    his outstretched forelegs. He lies on the lowest tier of the dais, not asleep, anxious.]


        Blindly spun, the webs, snares and toils of deceit,
        haply may snare not only purposed prey, but other feet--

    [The antechamber to Orodreth's apartments -- it's more of an indoor formal garden,
    with benches and carved planters integral to floor and walls and some water in raised
    squared channels -- very Amarna in style, in fact. Luthien and Celegorm are sitting
    across from each other on an angle of benches, while an Aide of the Regent sorts
    scrolls from boxes into a rack in an annex on the side which has apparently been
    converted into an outer office. He keeps giving them Looks, covertly. There is a
    definitely closed look to the double doors leading to the inner rooms -- they don't
    look like they're meant to be opened at all.]

Luthien: [earnest]
        So I've been thinking it over, and I think, personally, that we shouldn't rely
        on our forces alone, but ought to send word to your other cousins out West and
        try to get some reinforcements for the assault -- probably keep them for surprise
        and ambuscade on a retreating path, that seems like it might be most effective.
        Of course, you might have already thought of that. Anyway, what do I know about
        offensive missions, and perhaps it's completely foolish?

    [She waits expectantly -- Celegorm is looking at her earnestly, his head a little on
    one side, kind of smiling, but with a bit of a glazed expression. He doesn't answer.]

        --Are you even listening? You look like someone whose next words are going
        to be -- "I think I know why the clouds are white sometimes and why they change
        colors others." Or maybe, "Do you think one could build a flet that would go
        all the way across the river?"

        Eh? What? No, no, I'm paying attention -- I assure you, no one could possibly
        be paying more attention to you than I am right now. --You were saying--?

Luthien: [exasperated sigh]
        I was saying that after we deal with rescuing them I am going to insist on
        a full-fledged plan of attack. I understand why for reasons of propriety and
        the rules governing quests and all, my cousin might have refused your offer of
        assistance, but obviously a small covert-ops mission is too dangerous, and
        we've got to use all the resources at our disposal.

    [Orodreth's assistant gives them a sudden sharp glance from where he is
    working/eavesdropping, with an angry glare at Celegorm afterwards]

        My father might take exception, but so long as the exact words of his demand
        are fulfilled, I don't think it matters one jot who actually pulls the damned
        thing off Morgoth's crown and so long as we show up with enough of an escort,
        I'm not worried. Even if he tries to argue the legality of it, let me assure you,
        no one has ever won an argument with me when I'm right. I just don't think most
        things are worth arguing over, usually -- I guess I take after my Mom more that
        way, along with my hair. --Did that make sense?

Celegorm: [staring into her eyes again]
        Mm-hmm . . .

        And we should take Huan along, I imagine he must be just as good in a real
        fight as in a hunt--

        Oh, he's a terror in battle, death-on-four-legs to Orcs just like wargs, always
        where the fighting's thickest -- Hey, there, you didn't mean "we" when you said
        "we" there, did you? As in you, yourself, did you?

        No, I meant "we" as in us, our side, that's all -- I can't think that I'd be
        anything but in the way, I'm no Galadriel, though I'm better-than-fair at
        patching people up afterwards.


        Though I'm beginning to think I'd better, so that there's one person whose mind
        isn't turned into mush by the Enemy!

        No, I can't see anyone calling you "tomboy", even with that haircut, hah!

Luthien: [frowning]
        Where is Huan, anyway? I thought he was over there by the, I guess it's a
        pond, but obviously he isn't...

        Oh, he always wanders about, shows up when you need him. He'll turn up for
        supper, too, you can be sure.


        You really do like him, don't you?

        I think he's wonderful. I wouldn't mind having a Hound like him at all.

        I warn you, he eats like a horse.

Luthien: [half-smiling]
        Yes, but you wouldn't need a horse with him around, would you?

    [Celegorm laughs]

        I must say I'm still surprised -- but not really I suppose -- more in awe of,
        your courage. I keep expecting you to be terrified of him.

Luthien: [wry]
        What, because he chased me up and down trees and all around the woods like
        I was some kind of giant black squirrel before carrying me back to you
        like a puppy?

Celegorm: [blinks]
        Er, yes?

        Why? I could tell -- once he stopped chasing me -- that he's Good and wouldn't
        ever hurt anyone not on Morgoth's side.

Celegorm: [admiring]
        You're awfully perceptive.

Luthien: [bitterly]

        Hey, did I tell you that Orome himself gave Huan to me?

        Yes, you did. Now--

Celegorm: [oblivious]
        He taught me the language of nature, how to understand animal communication
        and tracking and weather and so forth, you know. That's why I'm such a great
        hunter, y'see.

Luthien: [actually interested for the first time in something he's said]
        Oh, really? That's just like Beren.

Celegorm: [taken aback]
        What? --You're joking.

        No, it's true. --I don't suppose he would have said anything if there wasn't
        a need for it -- it isn't like he brags about his accomplishments, "Oh, I'm
        this great hero and the Terror of the North and all," it's more like --
        "Oh, so you're that Beren?!" and you get back "Er, which one? You mean me or my
        grandad?" It was hours of that before I got him to admit that yes, he was the one
        in the legends Mablung had been hearing, and I can't remember when I heard so
        many qualifications and disclaimers in a single conversation. He used to be the
        best hunter in his homeland, too, before he gave it up.

Celegorm: [chuckling]
        Well, you know how it is, we all say we are, the best at huntin' or fishin' or
        any kind of a sportin' thing!

        Oh, no, I've seen him track things in the dark and charm animals out from cover
        to eat from his hand.

Celegorm: [nonplussed]


        --I don't expect he learned it from a god, all the same.

        No, he's almost certainly self-taught.

    [she stops talking and looks rather fixedly ahead, then sniffles]

        Oh, don't cry -- please don't, I can't stand to see a lady crying--

    [takes her hand]

        Everything's going to be all right.

    [clasps it in his other hand]

        --Trust me.

    [While she is trying not to break down, Finduilas enters with her various burdens.
    She is almost at the impromptu reception office by the time she notices them there,
    to her great and not-too-pleasant surprise. Setting down her music stuff on a bench
    she takes the Nauglamir into the annex and engages in a hasty whispered conversation
    with the Aide, before going over to where Luthien and Celegorm are sitting.]

        Luthien. I -- I understand you've been waiting, to talk to my father.

Luthien: [nods]
        Y--yes. He's been in meetings all day. Or night. I'm not sure which it is now.

        I'm so sorry. He's -- not going to be free for at least another bell. Probably two.

        Oh. Ohhh.

    [She shakes her head, taking a deep breath, and makes an exasperated noise]

Celegorm: [sympathetic but patronizing]
        I did try to tell you, milady . . .

Luthien: [distracted, shaking her head]
        Why--? I don't -- I --

    [she leans against a bit of decorative wall, panting]

Finduilas: [anxiously]
        You look faint -- Have you eaten at all today?

        I -- I'm not sure. I don't know what time it is down here --

Celegorm: [masterful]
        --Why don't we see about having something sent up to your rooms, and I'm sure
        our little cousin here will be happy to look after everything, and as soon as
        our good Regent gets free we'll have someone pop along to let you know, all
        right? No sense in you wasting your time and starving here for no good reason,
        is there?

    [Reluctant, but not really up to arguing with both of them, Luthien allows Finduilas
    to take her arm and lead her outside. Celegorm wanders around, looking at the art
    on the walls with a critical eye and surveying the results of the unpacking.]

        What a mess this place is in! Though I dare say you've made a lot of progress.

    [The Regent's Aide gives him a foul Look; Celegorm keeps poking around the solar]

        So she likes Huan, eh?


Aide: [stiffly]
        Do you need to see His Highness about anything, my lord?

Celegorm: [waves hand languidly]
        No, not at all. Carry on with your filing and whatnot; I've got to see a dog
        about a girl myself . . .

    [He strolls out, whistling; the Aide slams a scroll case into its pigeonhole with
    a loud bang.]


            --Met but with silence, the anxious traveler pursues
        answers -- prevented from her own pursuit, seeks clues
        to the dark mystery wrapped in Nargothrond's fair hues--

    [Interior of Luthien's apartments. The outer room is a small solar, from which a
    hallway leads to the private suite, and has a paneled door opening onto the hallway
    that is meant to stay open. Around the room are arched panels  made to look like
    windows, which are murals made of cut stones set in like stained glass and discreetly
    lit. The decoration is more naturalistic here than elsewhere in Nargothrond, less
    abstract, and it is of course exquisitely lovely. Luthien is standing there with Finduilas,
    looking frustrated as well as tired.]

        Do you feel better now?

        Not really. --I think your dad's avoiding me.

        Oh, no, I'm sure you're mistaken -- he -- he's just terribly busy. I hardly
        see him -- and I'm his assistant!

        Then why can't I talk to him?

Finduilas: [patiently]
        Because he's too busy.

Luthien: [leadingly]

        Well -- Nargothrond, of course.



        The rescue mission--?

        Oh -- well -- of course -- that too.

Luthien: [unconvinced]

    [walks over to the nearest of the artificial "windows" and runs her hand across
    the carvings]

        Aren't those wonderful? That's the view looking west from our house in Tirion.

Luthien: [making conversation]
        The trees are very beautiful. They look almost like real beeches.

        Oh, those aren't beeches, they're mallorns. They only grow in Aman -- they're
        sacred to Yavanna, you see..

        Well, they look like they'd be perfect for climbing. I can see why she loves them.

    [Finduilas gives her a funny look]

        Did you bring these with you? They seem -- awfully -- large.

        No, my aunt made them. These are her rooms when she comes to visit, and she did
        all the decoration for them herself.

        Your aunt is an astounding person. I think she's the only Elf to ever master
        our double-harness loom in a single day.

Finduilas: [not trying to sound patronizing, but doing a darn good job all the same]
        Well, she is Noldor, after all.

Luthien: [frowning]
        Have you seenthe loom my mother invented? The one that weaves the same pattern
        on both sides, only with different colors? It takes most people two days just to
        set it up. And isn't your family half-Teler, anyway? What does that have to do
        with anything?

Finduilas: [nervous giggle]
        Well, -- obviously -- you understand --

Luthien: [clearly doesn't]
        How long does it take you to set one up? I know she takes the loom she made with
        her, so maybe you've worked on it. Mine was only a quarter-sized version and it
        took longer to make enough width because of that, and it still took me forever
        to warp it all in -- I think I must have spent half the night getting it strung.


        How come you never came to visit us, when your family did?

Finduilas: [awkwardly]
        Oh. Well. So far to go, you know.

        It isn't that far, I've traveled it. And I didn't even have a horse.

        It's just . . . there were so many things to do here, and . . . you know . . .
        nothing really to do, by comparison.

Luthien: [dry voice]
        Yes, that's why your aunt stayed with us all that time, because there was nothing
        to do there.

Finduilas: [condescending]
        Oh, don't be so sensitive. I'm sure it's a wonderful place. You must be very
        homesick for it, I'm sure.

Luthien: [shrugs]
        It isn't my home any more. It was. But my home is with Beren now.

Finduilas: [shocked]
        But you must have some regrets, leaving your family and your home and everything
        you've ever known --

        There is one regret I have, yes.

    [brief pause]

       -- That I waited so long to follow after him.

    [recovering/covering, tapping on one of the mallorn images]

        How tall are they?

Finduilas: [a little thrown by the change and topic]
        Um -- tall -- I don't really know exactly . . .

        I wonder if they're taller than Hirilorn -- you could certainly build a house
        there, all right. Looks a good deal easier to get down from, though. Huh.

    [she shakes her head]

        I can't imagine what you must have been thinking . . .

        Mostly -- I hope I tied that knot properly.

        Oh! No, I meant -- for all of it.

Luthien: [gloomy]
        They can't do this to me -- How can they do this to me? -- Star and water,
        that's a long way down! Not in any particular order.


        --Was that what you were asking about?

        Well . . .

        I mean, really there wasn't a lot of thought, just planning, if you see what
        I'm getting at. By the time I actually succeeded in escaping I'd already done
        all the agonizing over it -- there was just a lag between, unfortunately.

        I more meant, have you really considered it? Do you think it was the wisest
        thing to do? Given the war situation, and your family, and your responsibilities
        to your kingdom and all?

        I'm sorry, are you trying to say I shouldn't have run away, I should have stayed
        stuck in a tree forever?

        Not exactly, but, well, I mean they wouldn't have left you up there forever, really.

        Considering the fact that their preconditions for release were completely
        unacceptable, and considering how stubborn we all are, forever is exactly what
        we're talking about here.

        But can't you see their point of view at all? I mean you can't really blame them
        for wanting you to be safe, especially with what you said they said about those
        Orc-raids having been targeted at you all along--

Luthien: [interrupting]
        I told you I think they were just saying that. Or rather my dad was, because Mom
        didn't say anything, which I think means it wasn't true, though not necessarily,
        because I've never heard her tell a lie in my life -- I don't think she can. Though
        come to think of it I haven't ever heard Dad tell one either. --But I still don't
        believe it, given the situation.

Finduilas: [shrugs]
        Anyway, you can't deny that there are Wolf-riders and awful Things out there --
        it only stands to reason that they shouldn't want you to get hurt by them. Imagine
        how they'd feel if you were captured by the Enemy!

        What, the same way I feel knowing Beren's a prisoner?

        . . .


Luthien: [relenting]
        Look, I gave them every possible chance. If they didn't want this to happen then
        first, they shouldn't have lost it when they heard about Beren -- did you know
        that Daeron was actually hoping the search parties would shoot him, that's why he
        told my father? I was almost angry enough to throw him out of the tree when he
        admitted that -- and secondly they shouldn't have pulled that craziness about a
        Silmaril on us, and then they shouldn't have expected me to just sit there and say,
        "Oh, well," when my mom says he's been caught! What did she think I was going to do
        with that information?

    [she begins pacing back and forth agitatedly, rant gaining power, while Finduilas
    is being a Good Listener]

        So at that point, they could have given me a division and said "All right,
        you win, we're not going to approve, but at least you're going to go about it
        properly," but no -- we get hours of lectures as if I was some stupid little kid
        caught stringing triplines in the house or something dumb like that, and not
        listening to me at all, and then "Well, we're going to have to lock you in your
        room, but you'd get sick, and you'd probably get out anyway, so we have just
        the solution!" --And then thinking that somehow having Daeron lecture me instead
        was going to work, and not only that but make me "get over" Beren? "Oh, we'll
        just substitute him instead and she won't notice"--? "We like him better, so of
        course she will too"--? I mean, really now!

    [she pauses for breath, huffing indignantly]

        But you can understand that, can't you? I mean, from a n-- a -- an outsider's
        point of view, Daeron has a lot going for him. He's even famous at the High
        King's court. Everyone loves his music, and even if the cirth aren't as pretty
        as our writing, they are fast and easy. And they've known him long enough to
        know if he's reliable and trustworthy and Good, after all.


Luthien: [very dry]
        If what my parents meant when they said all my life, that the most important
        things were truth and goodness and right judgment and so on, and I should only
        ever marry someone she saw really embodied all of them, -- was that I should
        really marry the old family friend and world-famous artist, composer, and
        inventor of a unique compressed data-storage system who just happened to have
        never thought of me as anything but a little kid until I finally found someone
        who embodied all those qualities -- then they jolly well should have said
        something before!

Finduilas: [discomfort]
        Should they have to? I mean . . . really--?

        Ah, come again?

        Well, obviously they thought he was suitable for you, if they encouraged you
        to spend so much time together for so long.

        Actually it was because he made a very good babysitter when I insisted on climbing
        into my mother's yarn and trying to crawl through the looms. My father loves music
        but he isn't much of a musician himself, and they could always distract me with the
        flute. And then when I was older they all decided he could teach me too, and that
        would work out well. How was I to know that one day out of the blue he'd stop
        thinking of me as "cute little kid sister" and think "--A tender goddess!" instead?



Finduilas: [shocked]
        But -- he's a genius, Luthien!

        I don't care how many disciplines Daeron counts as a Sage in -- he's still
        an idiot. The fact that he would think that getting my true love killed would
        make me like him better, or at all, just goes to show that lore isn't everything.

        But don't you feel at all sorry for him?

        Of course. I started talking to him again, didn't I?

        Well, yes -- but that was because you need his help again, you said. Don't you
        feel you were just using him, rather?

        No, it was long before that. I listened to his apologies for days before I made
        up my mind to escape and figured out how and enlisted him. But regardless -- are
        you trying to say, that because I needed his assistance, I should not have talked
        to him, but only if I hadn't needed anything of him should I have forgiven him?
        That seems rather cruel, not to mention counterproductive.


        That doesn't make any sense.

        That's what I thought.

    [pause -- she leans back against a "window" and folds her arms]

        I'm sort of getting the impression that you disapprove of what I've done.

        Well -- I did think it was incredibly romantic at first -- but then . . . I
        actually thought about it, and -- Luthien, how?

        Ah, "how" what? That covers an awful lot of territory.

        Luthien, he's a child! He's not even half a yen old, and -- It's -- it's just
        wrong. In so many different ways.

    [long silence]

        Do you know how much older my mother is than my father?


        Neither does she.

        How can you not know how old you are?

        Well -- there wasn't any way to reckon time for most of her life, so it's really
        a meaningless question. But the measurable part -- in the sense of there being
        landmarks, so to speak, is from before there were the Stars, before any of our
        people awoke, and before there were any differences between Elf and Elf in

       All right -- but that's different.


    [Finduilas just gives her an exasperated look, as though she is being tiresome]

        I'm serious -- this is what I keep asking, and not getting answers to.

    [starts pacing again as she talks]

        You're being just like them. "Oh, Luthien's gone crazy--" "He must have put some
        kind of Enemy sorcery on you--" "What's wrong with you? Don't you care about your
        mother and me?" "--You always used to be so responsible!"

    [Finduilas, getting tired of turning around every time Luthien does another turn
    up the room, takes a chair from the octagonal table in the center of the room and
    leans forward, being Very Serious.]

        But don't you think they have a point?

Luthien: [short laugh]
        I'm here, aren't I?


        I mean, really, to just get engaged to some random stranger you met out walking
        in the woods? Did you actually think they wouldn't get upset? Even leaving aside
        the problematic fact that he's a human and not one of the Kindred.

    [Luthien laughs out loud]

        What? Why are you laughing at me?

        That's the family legend, cousin! Don't tell me you haven't heard -- that's what my
        parents are famous for! It's this great romantic story they tell all the time,
        about how they met, how Dad heard Mom singing and left everything behind to follow
        her and when he touched her Time stood still for them and neither she nor he ever
        looked back to Aman after that. I've heard about it all my life from them, about
        how your priorities change when you meet the the right person and not worrying about
        what the world thinks and all. They're being raging hypocrites about the whole thing.

Finduilas: [nonplussed]
        Well, yes, true, --


        -- but that was then. Things were different when they were young. The world is a more
        complicated place, now, and they have responsibilities, and so do you. You can't expect
        them to not be at least concerned, and to have grave reservations about it.

        Why? If they really trusted me to be wise and sensible like they said they did,
        then they would respect my judgment in this too.

        Now you're being naive, on purpose.


        You don't really think that anyone looking at it objectively would consider it
        reasonable or appropriate for you to just enter into a relationship of such
        magnitude without consulting your elders or taking any advice first?

Luthien: [raising eyebrows]
        That's what they did.

        Yes, but you're the Princess now, you're not just some private individual, not
        answerable to anyone. You have to take practical matters into consideration,
        including how it will affect the people around you -- because that's the most
        important decision in one's life, choosing whom one will marry!

Luthien: [dry]
        Then, wouldn't you agree, it's too important to be decided by committee?

Finduilas: [shaking her head in exasperation]
        Gwin and I thought about it for several decades, before we decided to get engaged,
        just getting to know each other and making sure it would be a good thing for both
        of us, and we made sure our families approved first. It's much less trouble--

        --Look, you may be indecisive as all get-out, but I've never been used to living my
        life as a reflection of other people's opinions. I've always gone and done exactly
        as I pleased, and my parents never had a problem with it. Until now.

    [Finduilas blinks at the sheer bluntness of her dismissal, but decides to overlook it]

        But what did you expect would happen when you finally told them about him? Or
        were you even going to?

        I expected that they'd be reasonable and realize that that they'd been mistaken
        about humans all along, I expected that they'd be sensible enough to see his worth
        too and that they'd treat him with the respect he deserves. I meant to introduce
        people to Beren a few at a time, after he wasn't so nervous any more, and have them
        get to know him in a setting where he was comfortable.

    [bitter smile]

        --It never occurred to me that he wouldn't know who I was, which I suppose was
        rather arrogant of me, but I honestly assumed he realized I was the King's daughter
        and I had no idea otherwise until I had to find him and tell him about the problem,
        and he said, "You have parents?" in this shocked voice -- he thought I really was
        completely independent and on my own.


        He wasn't angry though, he just sort of laughed and said, "It figures," in this
        gloomy way, that he hadn't had anyone trying to kill him for over a year and
        he shouldn't have expected it to last.

        But then once you realized they were not going to be pleased, or sympathetic,
        didn't you have any second thoughts about throwing away your position and your
        happiness for a Man?

        Finduilas, he isn't just "a Man" -- he's Beren. Of all the people I know or
        have ever met -- he's the most beautiful.

    [Finduilas gives an astonished laugh]


        Luthien! How can you say that?! Beautiful--?

    [Luthien just Looks at her]

        He -- he's so scruffy, Luthien! Even when he tries, he still looks such a mess!
        I mean, really, his hair -- couldn't you have at least cut it for him?

Luthien: [astounded]
        Is that what you think is important?

        It isn't just that -- he's got scars. And his hair is already going pale the
        way theirs does--

        So? My father's hair is completely that color.

Finduilas: [patronizing]
        You don't know much about Men, do you?

    [Luthien gives her a Look again]

        It means they're getting old.

        Beren's not old, not even by human standards -- you were just complaining about that.

        It isn't just that, it means that their bodies are starting to wear out.

Luthien: [an edge creeping in]
        I heard that Beren made it here from Menegroth half as quickly as I did. And I can
        go without sleep a lot longer than he can. That doesn't sound worn out to me.

        But he was in awfully bad shape when he got here.

        --So was I. It's not much fun travelling cross-country by yourself, without anyone
        to help you and no proper gear. --But you know, you can do it, and -- you still get
        there. He's not "worn out" or old, Finduilas, he just went through a horribly
        stressful time and was very sick for a while afterwards. If you'd ever seen him
        fight you wouldn't even ask.

        When did you see him fight?

Luthien: [shrugs]
        Well, not fight, exactly, but I've watched him practicing lots of times.

Finduilas: [bewildered]

Luthien: [holding out her hands]
        Because it's beautiful. It's like a dance of another kind. Don't you ever watch
        your Gwin at training? Beren's spectacular -- I think he's as good as Mablung
        that way. Oh, and they have these dances with swords, real dances, that they do
        -- used to do -- for Arien, I finally got him to stop being self-conscious and
        show me, and they're amazing. And rather scary. Just the coordination and the
        sharp edges and everything--

        -- Luthien, are you listening to yourself? Do you know how twisted that sounds?
        How -- how unladylike? My aunt is a little wierd that way, but with four older
        brothers encouraging her, everybody kind of expects it. But you -- I mean, you're
        not a warrior, and -- swords, for the gods?!

        What? Just because I don't do it myself doesn't mean I can't appreciate it.

        But -- don't you think there's something wrong with using violence to honor the
        Powers? They don't approve of war and weapons.

Luthien: [raises eyebrows]
        News to me -- my mother doesn't have a problem with them as such. And didn't
        they do an awful lot of it themselves before we showed up? The Wild Hunt and
        the assault on Angband and all?

        How can you have such a neutral attitude towards fighting?

Luthien: [shrugs in turn]
        Maybe because we'd been doing it for centuries before you all arrived. We don't
        have your superstitious attitude about it. Or about weapons.


Luthien: [shrugs]
        Well, you're obviously very uncomfortable with them, in a "we'd rather pretend
        it's not something we really do, just on the side, out of necessity," kind of
        way and I've noticed that before among you Noldor, a lot of you. You just, well,
        make a bigger deal about it than we do.

Finduilas: [superior tone]
        Surely you don't mean to say that you think War is a good thing?

    [Luthien stops pacing and puts her hands on her hips, giving her a very ironic Look]

Luthien: [very dry]
        Considering that there was a very real chance of us getting wiped out by Orcs
        before you ever showed up, and we stopped it only with appalling casualty levels,
        and considering that we still have to deal with incursions -- and therefore
        casualties -- on a regular basis along the borders, and considering that my
        mother, and her assistants, and that includes me, are the ones to deal with the
        consequences -- the chances of that are pretty fair slim, wouldn't you say?
        --How many poisoned arrows have you had to dig out of people lately, cousin?

    [Finduilas gives an incredulous laugh, not sure she's serious]

        What, you've never had to cut metal fragments out of someone before? Without
        letting them bleed to death while you're at it? It's not my idea of fun, either.

        We have trained specialists to do that kind of work properly. Anyhow, you're
        changing the subject.

        No, I'm not. You already did.

        Honestly, Luthien, that's rather childish, don't you think? The point is, that
        he won't live very long, no matter what. Not by our standards. And then what?


        Have you thought about this? About the fact he can't possibly live more than
        sixty years more, at most? And that for most of those -- if he lives so long --
        he'll be decrepit? And afterwards he won't be waiting for you in Aman, either.

Luthien: [wide-eyed]
         --Thank-you for putting it so clearly, I never would have guessed that, despite the
        fact that we rent a quarter of our western frontier to mortals and we've only been
        hearing about them from Finrod since they first showed up in Beleriand.

    [raising her voice slightly]

        Of course I understand that Beren's people are more fragile and short-lived than
        we are! What I don't understand is why you are all so blasé about the fact that
        your King is in prison, isn't it stranger that you don't seem to care about
        getting your people out than that I want to get my true-love out -- and you're
        treating me like I'm the irrational one here?


        You don't have to be so rude. But I understand that you're still exhausted and
        extremely stressed, so I'm making allowances.

    [Luthien only stares at her, then runs her hands through her hair, making it stand up
    even more, and turns away to look at the "window" that shows mountains in the distance,
    putting her palm flat against the carving.]

Luthien: [leaden voice]
        --Yes. I'm that. Thank you, cousin.

        And what if you have children? What will they be?

Luthien: [turning back]
        Er, --people?

Finduilas: [exasperated]
        Please try to be serious. I meant, would they be Elves or mortals? Can you even
        have children together?

        I don't know. As far as we know we're the first mixed-race couple in history.
        Except for my parents, of course.

    [raises her hands]

        --Does it matter?

Finduilas: [still more exasperated]
        Luthien, I'm trying to have a serious conversation!

        Why do you think I'm not? If we can, we can. If we can't, we can't. Worrying
        about it won't change things. Mortals aren't guaranteed children either --
        nobody's actually guaranteed anything in life, are they, really? I mean, look
        at what happened to the gods!

        But what will you do after he dies? I know it isn't the same, but still -- it
        would be awfully strange to marry a second time. I can't imagine what anyone else
        would think of it, how they would feel, knowing . . . It almost seems indecent,

    [Luthien turns around abruptly]

Luthien: [disbelieving]
        Why would I want to marry anyone else?

        But . . . but you'll be . . . you'll be all alone.

        I never wanted to marry anyone before I met Beren. Why should I think that would
        ever change?

        But . . . eventually you'll meet your soulmate, of course, and what then?

Luthien: [gesturing widely]
        Finduilas -- he is my soulmate. I will never love another. --Who could compare?
        It would be unjust to anyone else to set him against Beren.

Finduilas: [nervous laugh]
        You're so melodramatic, Luthien. You can't mean it.

        --Are you so blind that you really can't see past externals? --That fine clothes and
        combed hair are the most important things to you? You'd never make it in the woods.

        It isn't just that, it's everything. The -- the gulf, of background, culture,
        everything that goes with age -- I don't see how it could work. I mean, yes, he's
        certainly a hero, and I do appreciate his valiant efforts against Morgoth, but
        when all is said and done there isn't anything he can actually do except kill
        things, is there?

Luthien: [shaking her head, wry]
        Is that what he said? He's too shy. He sings beautifully. And he has the true
        dancer's grace.

        Now you're sounding superficial. --Aren't you?

Luthien: [looking up at the ceiling]
        No, -- I was just trying to correct your misunderstanding that he has no talent,
        that he's inferior because he doesn't care about art. That's just not true.

        But does he make anything? He said not, to Celebrimbor.

        Finduilas, when would he have had time to make anything, or learn to make
        anything? He was hunted like a wild animal for most of the last ten years, while
        he was hunting down Orcs and trying to defend the last holdouts who hadn't fled
        the North-country already. --Do you know he had to bury his father and family
        and all his friends? I cried when he told me how his dad didn't want to send
        him to find out if it was true that Sauron himself had come out from the Fortress
        to get them, because he was afraid he'd never see him again, and -- it was true,
        but not that way. Can you imagine living that kind of life?

Finduilas: [nodding]
        Oh, so it's that you felt sorry for him. Well, I can understand that, but -- to
        risk your life, your happiness, because of sentimentality is rather excessive.
        Spouses should be equals -- that's what "match" means, after all. Pity isn't
        enough to make a lasting relationship.

        No, I'd been seeing him for some time before he told me about the really miserable
        bits -- I only knew some of the legends of Beren, and frankly I was more than a bit
        intimidated and figured he'd think I was rather silly and useless compared to him.
        --And now you're going to say, "Hero-worship isn't enough to build a relationship
        on." Right?

    [Finduilas gives her a Look, but doesn't say anything.]

        I've got Ages of practice at this -- I only did it half the summer, I can probably
        do both sides of the argument if you want to leave.

        Please don't be so hostile, cousin. I'm only trying to help you, because I don't
        think you've really thought things through. Being sarcastic doesn't help matters any.

        I'm tired of this being treated like a fool. I thought you were on our side, and
        now you're doing it too! Didn't you talk to him while he was here? You must have
        seen how kind and intelligent and noble he is --

        --Luthien. Look me in the eyes and tell me: Do you truly believe he is -- could
        possibly be -- your equal?


Finduilas: [knowing look]
        You're just saying that.

Luthien: [angry]
        No, I'm not! --Well, yes, I am just saying it, but I'm "just saying it" because I
        just believeit. I wouldn't "just say" it if it was otherwise. What's wrong with you?

        I'm just afraid that you've put yourself into the position where you have to keep
        saying and defending what you've started out because you're too proud and too
        committed to keeping your own opinions to actually be objective.  I don't think
        you're being fully honest when you say that you think you're really suited well.
        I think you're rushing into things. I grant completely that Lord Beren is a wonderful
        human being -- but he's still a human, not an Elf.

Luthien: [icy]
        You might have gathered I'm not very pleased with my parents right now, but one
        thing in my father's benefit -- he's at least consistent. He doesn't despise
        mortals but use them anyway.

        You're putting words into my mouth, Luthien! That isn't what I said.

        No? Because it sure sounds like it. That you, at least, think they're good enough
        to fight your war and get killed in it, but not as good as real people.

        You're reading things into what I said that aren't there. I just don't see how this
        can work. What can you possibly have to talk about, for example? How can you converse
        on the same level? --What do you see in him as a potential consort?


        --The world.

    [brief pause]

        Finduilas, the way he sees it -- the way he simply revels in learning about it,
        about everything, about music and trees and the names of the Stars and the stories
        and making things and everything -- it's as though I'd never seen it properly, all
        the things I thought I knew and understood and have taken for granted for centuries,
        and now he's learning them all for the first time, and I'm seeing it new as well--!

Finduilas: [very knowing tone]
        That doesn't sound anything like a match of equals. It sounds like you enjoy
        having him around because he's so much more ignorant than you that he can't help
        but look up to you, and that makes you in turn feel like a Sage, because it's
        incredibly flattering to have such unquestioning respect and admiration.


        --Which is understandable.
        You're quite wrong about that. Beren isn't ignorant, he knows lots of things --
        his mind's like a dark mirror --

Finduilas: [frowns]
        --That doesn't sound attractive at all

Luthien: [exasperated]
        Haven't you ever seen a pool at midnight when it's so black you can't even see
        the trees in it, only the stars are reflected with absolute clarity and it seems
        like it goes on forever, it's so deep--? That's what his thoughts are like, he
        just observes, with this amazing detail, and the faintest light is caught and
        noticed -- and then it's as if it changes, like the same pool freezing over,
        only instead of ice it's silver, and everything's reflected brightly and light
        is cast on all kinds of things nobody else ever saw before, and that's what
        talking to him is like. --Why are you so worried about me when--

        --Well, it is worrying. It's unprecedented, it's very strange, and you just keep
        trailing off when you're asked about him as if you're embarrassed about it all or
        talking as though unable to say anything sensible,  so what else are we supposed
        to think?

        No, that isn't it at all--! Do you -- you don't just talk about your private
        moments in public with everyone, do you? To people you don't know very well at
        all? Especially when everyone's been unsympathetic to it earlier and all your
        friends have deserted you.

        Well, he left you too, so you could say he deserted you as well.

        No, deserting me would have been if he'd said, "--I'm really sorry, it's been
        great knowing you, but I'm going west to see if I can find any of my own people
        left and settle down with a nice mortal girl who doesn't have insane relatives
        giving me the choice between death, life imprisonment or a task that all the Kings
        of Arda and all their armies couldn't manage between them." Which, if he'd said it,
        I really couldn't have blamed him very well, either. Finduilas, Beren and I . . .
        he . . . he's -- I'm doing it again.

    [shakes her head, laughing bitterly at herself]

        All right, little cousin, you want details, you want to know it all, you want to
        understand. I will tell you -- but you have to promise not to be negative about it,
        not make sarcastic remarks while I'm telling the story.

    [she sits down on the bench across from Finduilas' chair, under one of the "windows"]

        So -- what do you want to know first?

        Well, you've never even really explained how you two met -- I thought no one
        could get into Doriath without your mother's permission. Were you outside the
        borders somehow?

        No, he just walked right through them without even noticing them. And Mom never
        knew he was there, either.


        --Which should have told them something right away.

        How could it, if they didn't know he was there?

    [Luthien closes her eyes, rubbing her temples]

        I meant, when they found out.

        Oh -- I see. So you really just ran into each other, completely randomly, without
        any introductions or anything, without knowing who the other one was, and decided
        that you were soulmates just like that. with just one look? Honestly, Luthien, that
        doesn't make any sense! How many people do you really know who haven't grown up
        together, or at least known each other for Great Years, before falling in love?

    [Luthien starts to open her mouth]

        And you're going to say your parents again, aren't you?


Luthien: [deadpan, loftily]
        --It was a very long look.

    [Finduilas glares at her]

        It was a little more complicated than that. It seemed like coincidence at the
        time, but I'm not sure really . . . was it coincidence for my parents? I just
        felt one night that I had to go to the upper reaches of Esgalduin -- I guess it
        was like Beren deciding he had to come down into Doriath, that that was where
        he was supposed to be, except that I didn't have any wargs hunting me, of course.
        I said to Daeron, "Let's go to Neldoreth, we haven't worked in Neldoreth for such
        a long time." And he said, "Because there's no one in Neldoreth," and I said,
        "Except trees," and he said, "Oh, well, trees! That's rather boring, don't you
        think? They're not very appreciative an audience." And I started teasing him about
        being too vain to be a proper Sage, that the truly enlightened don't care about
        applause and that he was just concerned to impress the Singers, and if he was that
        lazy I'd just go by myself, I didn't really need an accompanist-- So he made this
        show of "Oh, the things I put up with for little Luthien, catering to her every
        whim," and we went . . .

    [she stops, looking into the middle distance]

Finduilas: [reminding]
        Luthien . . .

Luthien: [wry laugh]

    [giving herself a little shake]

        Anyway, we went to Neldoreth, and Beren heard us and came to investigate -- and
        that's another sad thing about it all, Daeron hating him and Beren having no more
        idea of it than I, because he simply admired Daeron's performance skills and
        compositional abilities without limit. Daeron couldn't have asked for a more
        appreciative audience, Beren had never heard anything like it -- not that anyone
        has, of course, Daeron really is that good -- but not even remotely similar, their
        music's completely different from ours--

Finduilas: [patronizing]
        Well. In quality perhaps.

Luthien: [checking]
        What do you mean?

        Well, Men don't really have any culture of their own -- they've borrowed it all
        from us, you know, starting with the language.


Luthien: [chilly]
        That isn't what Finrod says. He's always talked about the creativity of mortals
        and their ability to make new things, to adapt.

Finduilas: [uncomfortable]
        Oh. Well. He would.

        Explain, please?

        Well -- everyone knows my uncle is an incurable extrovert, going around talking
        to everybody, Dwarves and the Nandor and the coastal folk and the locals and--

    [breaks off]

Luthien: [very dry]

        . . .

        Sorry -- do go on--?

        . . . but mortals have always been a particular hobby of his. Very likely
        because they are so ignorant and helpless on their own, not like the Naugrim
        or the native tribes.

    [Luthien gives her a shrewd look.]

        --Really. You don't say.


        I wonder where you got that from. Not from listening to him!


        Well, I don't agree with you on the matter of culture. But anyway, you wanted
        to know about the romantic parts, and you were supposed to not keep interrupting
        me and making caustic remarks.

    [looks severely at Finduilas]

        Do you want me to go on, or not?

Finduilas: [contrite]
        I'm sorry. Please keep going.

Luthien: [tossing her head]
        Right, then. --Beren came right out, he had no idea how surprised we would be,
        of course, and Daeron shouted to me that there was a stranger, and took off,
        but I just stood there, I couldn't believe it, until I saw this shadow out in
        the open at the edge of the wood, and I still couldn't believe it, because I
        couldn't recognize anything about it -- I had no sense of any sort whatsoever
        looking at him, and Daeron was calling me like I was an idiot, and then I got
        scared and disappeared into the woods as well -- and he vanished too.


        Completely - there was no sign of him after, and we decided we must have been
        startled by shadows, or an animal, and laughed at ourselves afterwards, because
        we knew that no enemy could have come through the Maze.

    [getting indignant again]

        And there, you see, is the thing that's the crux of this whole stupidity. If
        Daeron really thought that Beren was a danger to us, to Doriath or to me --
        then why did he wait for almost half the year before even breathing a word of
        Beren's presence in the woods? He knew perfectly well that Beren was not evil,
        not dangerous, and not a threat, and any attempt to justify his behavior by
        claiming "good intentions" is just so much nonsense. If he really had them, he
        should have gone straight to my parents and our captains and got them out there
        that night, and not gone sneaking around for nearly two seasons dithering
        about it.

Finduilas: [trying to put the best construction on it]
        Well . . . perhaps he just wanted to be sure . . .

        You don't even believe that, and you're saying it. So -- was it at first sight?
        No, for me: I saw a shadow. One that frightened me -- but not like anything fell,
        not like the fear of hearing a wolfpack on the borders or waiting for casualties
        to come in from a battle or like the sense you get when the wind is blowing
        steadily out of Angband for days. It was like . . .

    [long pause, Finduilas clears her throat politely]

        --It was like the start you get when you're out on a clear day and not a cloud
        in sight and the sun is suddenly cut off, and you realize it's not a cloud --
        that shadow on the ground is wings, and you look up quick in hopes you don't miss
        them before they're past.

Finduilas: [short laugh, quickly stifled]
        Are you trying to say that he was a divine messenger?!

        No, I was saying it was like that, that sense that of something meaningful and
        important -- real fear, not because of anything so trivial as physical danger,
        but because you realize that here is something different: a change, a choice,
        -- a challenge, and you can either accept it or refuse it but you can't not do
        either. --Haven't you ever had anything like that in your life?

    [Findilas looks away nervously]

        Oh, of course -- the Return. That was a decision you had to make, right, not let
        other people make it for you. --Or did you?

Finduilas: [severely]
        You don't know what you're talking about, Luthien, so please stop.

    [forcibly returning the conversation to topic]

        But obviously that wasn't what made you decide you were soul-mates, or Daeron
        betray you -- it doesn't sound like under normal circumstances you'd ever have
        ended up together, from what you've just told me.

        Yes, --obviously -- there's more.


        I couldn't help having this nagging conviction that there really had been
        someone there, and that because nothing evil could get through, I shouldn't
        have been afraid, and that I needed to find out who or what was there. So I
        went back, many times, and I even dragged Daeron into Neldoreth again once or
        twice, in case it was the flute-playing that had been the important part, but
        although I sometimes thought perhaps someone was there, some sort of unknown
        presence, I never saw him again.

    [smiling in spite of herself]

        --Until I decided to call the Spring there, and he came as if from nowhere
        and joined me in my dancing and I was so astonished I didn't even react at
        first -- here I'd been looking, and then when I wasn't, he appeared -- and
        I didn't know what to say or do, and he put his arms around me as if he knew
        me since forever, and I was so startled I just ducked away and ran. And he
        followed me, and called my name, and it was as if the whole silent forest
        called out to me then . . .

    [long silence]

Finduilas: [very strained]
        Was he afraid of you before that? Was that why he stayed hidden?

        No, he wanted to speak to me, but he couldn't manage to do so until that night.


        He didn't know why, he just couldn't. Every time he wanted to approach and talk
        to me it was as though he were bound and gagged, and he could only watch until
        I was gone, and then follow me.

Finduilas: [appalled]
        So not only was he a complete stranger, but you're saying he was crazy as well?
        And you wonder why your parents were upset!

        No! They didn't know about that. And he wasn't crazy. Not much. It was just
        something he had no control over.

        That's part of what "being crazy" entails, Luthien.

Luthien: [gesturing fiercely]
        But you've seen him -- you know he's as sane as I am. It was just circumstances.
        --Not like Feanor, who did it to himself, from what everyone's said. Beren's not

        He's a warrior, Luthien, of course he's dangerous. Add mental disturbance to that
        and -- what were you thinking?!


Luthien: [very softly]
        He called my name. He called my name, and I knew from the first instant I heard
        his voice that he would never ill-wish me, never harm me, and I stopped and waited
        for him, because I had to, and he came running up to me and -- I saw him -- Not a
        shadow, but him, his eyes, he -- he was like the brightest of fire, brighter than
        anyone else I've ever met, and -- he kissed me, and everything . . . just . . .
        stopped . . . we could have stood there for hours, just looking at each other --


        --we did, because all the sudden the nightingales weren't singing, the blackbirds
        were, and the sky was getting light and I panicked because I was so far from home
        and it was the first day of Spring and everything we had to do for it that I hadn't
        even started and I was -- rather -- overwhelmed, and I went dashing off before he
        could call me again or before I even remembered to ask his name . . .


        Finduilas, he called my name --

Finduilas: [coolly]
        How did he know it? Did he spy on you and Daeron talking?

        No, you don't understand, it was my own name, not Luthien, not my old one,
        the first one anyone had ever given me -- except "little" and that's hardly
        a proper aftername, is it?


        He called me "Nightingale" . . .

    [Finduilas says nothing, with visible effort]

Luthien: [rapt]
        I went back home and all that day it was as if I was two people, not one, the
        calm ordinary one on the outside that everyone saw, just plain old Luthien,
        doing her rituals and tasks and practicing and walking around on the earth, and --
        someone new, someone who was soaring through the air, singing, as though the
        nightingale had become a lark, someone who didn't just belong as part of Doriath,
        but who owned the whole world, who could do anything, because a mirror had been
        held up to me and for the first time I saw that I had wings -- and no one noticed.

    [shakes her head, frowning slightly]

        And then at sunset I walked back to Neldoreth, and I was so frightened, I didn't
        know if it was real anymore, or if -- I just wandered around, hardly knowing what
        direction to take -- and I found him, as if I couldn't have not found him, and he
        was so different, not the tireless hunter who'd been following me but someone
        exhausted and sad, just lying there on the ground by the stream --

    [in a rush]

        -- and that's not what drew me, that he was weak, all right? --


        and when I went up to him and touched his face and he looked at me and the
        amazement in his eyes -- I knew he'd been as afraid as I was that it wasn't
        real, that I wouldn't come back, and I knew I hadn't set my heart too high
        or in vain . . .

        Why would you think otherwise?

        I didn't know what kind of spirit he was -- he'd disappeared before, he had come
        through the security system without getting caught in it, you never know who you
        might meet in a forest--

Finduilas: [trying not to smile]
        You -- you thought he was a Power in disguise, like your mother?!

Luthien: [intensely]
        I didn't say that, I only said I didn't know what he might be, I couldn't tell--
        I just knew then that he was real, that he was someone I could never have imagined,
        a strange dominion given to me alone to explore, and know, and understand, and that
        I could never have dreamed such richness existed, and that this was what I had been
        choosing towards since that first glimpse of a strange shadow on a Summer night --
        and so yes, it was a very long look after all.

    [longish silence, Luthien looks hopefully and anxiously at Finduilas, who is impassive.]

        Well. That's a very unique story --if most unconventional.

Luthien: [snapping back into combat mode again just like that]
        You want unconventional, you should listen to my parents when it's really late,
        or early, rather, and the wine's been flowing and they're getting all sentimental
        and reminiscing about the oldest days. Then you'll hear the story about the first
        time my father saw my mother and she was taking a nap in some leaves and he touched
        her hair and got knocked out for probably years before he woke up and went looking
        for her again. I tell you, we've got nothing on them.

Finduilas: [dismissive]
        Oh, well, people are like that.

    [superior tone]

        But can't one sort of see why Daeron might feel justified in spying on you?
        If you'd been encouraging Beren--

        --Don't make me responsible for Daeron's neuroses! If he'd actually used that
        famous mind of his none of this would have happened. --Probably. I wasn't
        encouraging Beren to spy on me, I was trying to encourage him to reveal himself
        -- if he was really there. I didn't know. All I knew was that there seemed to be
        an invisible presence watching over me in Neldoreth -- a benevolent one -- but
        nothing I'd ever heard or sensed before, but still -- familiar, somehow.

        That doesn't sound romantic at all -- it just sounds creepy.

Luthien: [frustrated]
        It wasn't creepy -- it was a little spooky that he was able to sneak up on me
        twice -- only the first time was sort of by accident, and it was really funny,
        actually, because there I was standing so perfectly hidden that he almost walked
        right into me, I must have jumped ten feet -- but that's because he just disappears
        when he's in the forest, he's not just quiet, no one can even sense him, not even
        Beleg -- except I can, now -- his mind just changes and becomes perfectly still,
        like a fox's.

        That still sounds creepy.

        Well, it isn't -- you've met him, he isn't creepy, -- he's Beren. It -- I -- Oh,
        honestly! Do you think Huan's creepy, having him around, having him watching you?

        You're just making it sound worse and worse.

Luthien: [raising her hands for a moment, letting them fall into her lap]
        You're just choosing not to understand.

Finduilas: [thoughtful]
        Wait - you said you hadn't worked in Neldoreth for a while; that means you
        weren't just dancing, you were wielding an awful lot of power, both yours and
        the land's, correct?

Luthien: [wary]
        Yes . . .

Finduilas: [meaningfully]
        So he got caught in a Working. I see.

Luthien: [wary]
        What's that supposed to mean?

Finduilas: [condescending]
        Mortals can't cope with power unshielded and without precautions. Something that
        has only the appropriate effect on one of us has much more drastic and unpredictable
        impacts on them -- though of course you couldn't be expected to know that. If he
        just wandered into the middle of it like that, with no idea even of what was
        happening to him, it would be almost like training the horses, like a yearling
        being calmed for saddle or a foal imprinting -- he wouldn't be able to help it.
        And with the forest's power invoked too, -- no wonder he never wanted to leave that
        area. He was simply bound to it, and you.

        No. That's not true.

Finduilas: [sympathetically]
        Look, I do understand why you wouldn't want to believe that, because well, it isn't
        very flattering to think that someone is only attracted to you because of something
        that might as well be no more than animal instinct, as well as the fact that you must
        be feeling responsible already for the difficulties it's caused, but one does have
        to face facts--

Luthien: [interrupting, shaking her head]
        --No, you don't understand -- perhaps it was like that a little, at first, but
        -- no -- Beren's not under any working of mine, you might as well say he put a
        working on me, with his voice! He really does love me--

        But how could you tell? It doesn't sound like the action of a rational individual
        uncontrolled by anything to be willing to just obey a mad, impossible, and suicidal
        order without even stopping to think about it, does it? It sounds like -- and
        please don't get angry, cousin -- someone who's been brainwashed by the Enemy,
        really. Are you really sure that he's in love with you, or has he only been
        overwhelmed by your aura instead?

        Beren doesn't do anything without a reason -- granted it might be a really horrific
        reason, like taking on Sauron single-handed because there wasn't anyone else left to
        do it -- but he isn't this weak-minded person who just does things because someone
        else wants him to. It might seem like a completely insane decision to you, but if
        it's the only way to do it, like taking on an entire company of Orcs to recover his
        father's hand, or crossing the Ered Gorgoroth, then he figures out the most simple
        way and just starts and keeps on til he's done it. If my father had actually listened
        to me talking about him he wouldn't have expected that asking for the wretched
        jewel would ever deter Beren from claiming my hand. How can I d--

Finduilas: [breaking in]
        --Now you're making him sound rather frighteningly disturbed again.

    [Luthien runs her hands wildly through her hair again, with the suggestion of one
    only barely restrained from screaming]

        Either I'm not explaining very well or you're not listening very well.
        Beren is unlike anyone I've ever met, in the best way possible, and when I met
        him I finally understood exactly why your uncle would want to put so much time
        and effort into working with mortals when he doesn't have enough time to do the
        things he really wants to do anyway, and more than enough work already.

Finduilas: [sharply]
        I don't know what you mean. My uncle always does just what he wants, going
        off wandering about talking to people instead of finishing the projects he's
        already working on.

    [Luthien does not miss her discomfort at every mention of Finrod in the conversation]

Luthien: [rather condescending]
        --You don't know what he does, do you?

Finduilas: [defensive]
        What do you mean?

Luthien: [amazed]
        You really don't. I always wondered when he and your aunt would joke about how
        odd it was that they'd let a dilettante dreamer like him be in charge, whether
        they were really joking or whether it wasn't a bit serious. And now I know I
        was right.

Finduilas: [annoyed out of gentility]
        Would you please explain yourself or stop being cryptic, Luthien?

        Do you have any idea how many minor wars and territorial disputes he's stopped or
        averted, just by "wandering about talking to people?" Do you have any idea how much
        chaos you all threw Beleriand into by just turning up out of the dark and carving
        up the countryside? Cutting down trees and sticking up towers on sacred sites and
        insulting people you didn't even know existed? Not to mention the fact that a lot of
        the Kindred blamed you for the Sun anyway. If he wasn't so good at "wandering about
        talking to people" do you think things would have been so easy for you?

        Why would anyone blame us for the Sun? Do you mean those tribes of nomads in
        the hills? Isn't everyone happy to have the light? --Except for fell things,
        of course. They should be grateful that we came to save them from the Enemy!

Luthien: [sighing]
        Oh, honestly, I'm too tired to try to explain a thousand years of politics and
        cultural upheaval to -- from scratch.


        --to someone who clearly hasn't been paying attention to the last half-millenium
        of them!


        Short version -- Shade is nice. Finding your large familiar boulders chopped up
        and turned into a watchtower isn't. People riding through on big noisy animals
        with lots of other big noisy animals looking to kill other animals noisily is
        very disturbing to people who don't kill anything, ever. Sometimes it's hard to
        see what's so much more preferrable about you lot, and you've no idea the amount
        of damage that a determined bunch of saboteurs can do in a very short time. Part
        of the Singers' frustration with Men, I'm sure, was spillover from having been
        pushed out by Noldor for so long. "Oh no, not more of them, from the other side
        of the world!" and so on.

        Surely you're exaggerating. --But you've changed the subject again.

        I'm not and I haven't. Pay attention when people talk, sometime, you'd be surprised.
        They have a word for you, you know. "Swarn" -- it means someone who's so stubborn
        that it's just impossible to work with them. Finrod think's it's funny -- but true.

Finduilas: [sighing]
        We were talking about -- about you and Beren, not about politics.

        I thought earlier you were saying it was the same thing. I agree, I just don't
        see it as a bad thing. It wouldn't hurt Doriath to have his perspective and lore
        to add to our own, how could it?

        But are you being fair to him? Have you thought about it from his point of view?

Luthien: [dangerous]
        --Explanation, if you don't mind?

Finduilas: [voice of reason]
        How could he ever hope to have a normal life with you, even if your parents
        hadn't reacted so badly? Wouldn't it have been better -- from his standpoint
        -- to go to his own kind and find one of them for a mate? At least that way
        he could have had a home and a family and a place where he would have belonged,
        after all. Don't you think you're being rather selfish, even if he wouldn't
        ever say so?

        No, actually not. I'm not so arrogant as to say that no one else could have
        healed him, or that he might not have been able to recover on his own, but after
        what happened to him in Dorthonion all those years, and then the Mountains of
        Terror on top of that, he was not well at all. Even a season in Neldoreth had
        only begun to diminish his stress levels, and you know how peaceful that area
        is --


        -- no, actually you might not, since you've never visited, but it is -- and he'd
        been isolated so long he could hardly talk. As you've so kindly pointed out, I
        haven't your family's experience of mortals, but I got the strong impression from
        Beren's stories that it isn't considered normal among Men to live year-round in the
        woods and on the heath in complete solitude, and that he wouldn't have fit back
        into their society at all. Though in Doriath, if he hadn't been human, no one would
        have blinked at it.

Finduilas: [genteel shiver]
        I still don't understand how you could have dared to let him touch you that night.

Luthien: [forced patience]
        Because I could tell he was Good the way I could tell Huan was Good even if
        I didn't know exactly what he was.

        But you couldn't know that--

        Well, yes, I did--

        But you were taking such a risk--!

Luthien: [giving up, flippant]
        No I wasn't, it's not as though anyone can catch me out in the open.

        Our cousins did.

        That wasn't them, that was Huan.

Finduilas: [shrugging]
        Well, anyway that's irrelevant. The crucial issue is that you're not the same as
        he is, and vice versa, and you never will be. It can't end happily.


        I'm right, aren't I?

Luthien: [matter-of-factly]
        Nope. At least about us being different. That's the irrelevant part. I don't
        expect that things will be easy for us, or that we won't have unhappiness. And
        about endings -- I've seen far too many people die of grief -- though not lately,
        thanks to Mom -- either by fading or going out and getting killed with stupid risks,
        to think that anyone gets a happy ending. Not our Kindred, or his. --Haven't you?

    [Finduilas says nothing]

        And what you said before? That's not any different from my parents, either. My
        mother's not just immortal, she's an Immortal. Since as far as I can tell from her
        nobody knows what's going to happen when the world ends, and since you're so very
        sure that we're all just going to stop, and that's it, then they're in exactly the
        same position we are, by your standards.


        But -- they'll have thousands upon thousands of years together, just like everyone

        So? That's just longer. It isn't different.

        Did you raise that point with her?

        Of course.

        What did she say?

Luthien: [bitter smile]
        What she always says, when you say something she doesn't like. Which is to
        say, nothing.


Finduilas: [rallying & going on again]
        But really, it comes right back to one thing -- the fact that he's mortal.
        He isn't like us, and he never can be. Their fate is different, and it doesn't
        make sense to become so involved with someone who can't belong to Arda the way
        we do, and whom you shan't ever see again after such a short time. You're only
        setting yourself up for misery, can't you see?.


Luthien: [slowly]
        So . . . from what you're saying, the logical conclusion would be . . . that
        the Trees weren't really valuable either, because they died. They shouldn't
        have been loved, either, then, isn't that so?

Finduilas: [shocked]
        Luthien! How can you say such things?

        What? It's true -- it does follow.

Finduilas: [standing up in agitation]
        But that -- that's -- that's blasphemy! You can't talk about the Trees that way!

        Why not? You're saying that Men aren't worth caring about because they don't
        live as long as we do. Well, everyone here has outlived the Trees, and if you're
        going to say it about one then you've got to say it about the other. You shouldn't
        have loved them so much in Aman, since they were mortal, too.

Finduilas: [appalled, gesticulating]
        You -- you just equated him with the Two Trees! Luthien, you -- I'm not going
        to listen to any more of this, you're just too outrageous, -- though I suppose
        you can't help it because you never saw them. But -- it -- it's absurd, ludicrous,
        indecent -- you can't compare any mere person to the Trees, it's an insult to
        the Earthqueen to even think of it, let alone a human!

    [Finduilas is overcome with sputtering agitation, shaking her head and
    looking away at the ceiling. Luthien just waits until she settles down.]

        Finduilas. You've met him. Look at me -- look me in the eyes, and tell me --
        that he isn't as much of a person as you or I.


Finduilas: [stubbornly]
        It's still wrong. It just is.


        Well, you don't have to approve. I'm not looking for that -- only help
        saving him. Which ought to be your top prior--

Finduilas: [over her]
        --You really don't care what anyone else thinks, do you? That's so arrogant!

Luthien: [bemused]
        Arrogant? Arrogant is people deciding that they know better than me what's
        good for me. Arrogant is people telling me what they think I want to hear and
        going and doing something else altogether. Arrogant is -- telling me I'm going
        to be grateful for it somewhere down the road.

Finduilas: [frowning a little]
        I really think you should have given Daeron more of a chance.

Luthien: [shaking her head]
        I feel like I'm walking around in circles. Now that we're back here again, can
        we stop? I'm terribly tired and this isn't helping any.

Finduilas: [instantly solicitous]
        Oh, of course! I'm so sorry. Can I get you anything before you go to bed?
        Something to drink?

Luthien: [sighs]
        No, thank you, cousin. Just -- make sure you get me up as soon as your father's free.

        O--of course.

    [Finduilas leaves; Luthien stands still afterwards for several minutes before going
    over to shut the door. She pulls a pair of chairs out from the inlaid table in the
    middle of the solar to the fire, but then sits down in one of them, staring into
    the flames, instead of preparing for sleep. After a moment she sighs and leans back,
    looking up at the star-gilded ceiling.]

Luthien: [whispering]
        I can't even convince Finduilas now . . . --We're doomed . . .


        Half-mad or horn-mad, the lunatic believes him sober-sane,
        and in his ranting plots perceiveth not the shape of his own bane--

    [The royal apartments -- Celegorm is rocking back in his chair, laughing, while
    Curufin walks up and down before the hearth, reading from a scroll in his hand]

        Oh, that's just too perfect! Oh, I wish I could see his face then -- let's
        have that last bit again --

            Right, then:


        "Since you haven't managed to hold onto your own daughter, it seems you're
        not fit to have care of her, and (just as with the rest of Middle-earth) the
        task of caretaking having fallen to us, we will undertake to defend her from
        the perils of the dubious lands we found her wandering unescorted in -- and do
        (no doubt) a far better job of it. After all, we could hardly do worse, seeing
        as you've been unable to maintain the security of your vaunted borders,
        against even a solitary Mortal. With all due regards -- this by me, Curufin
        Atarin Feanorion of the House of Finwe, for Celegorm Turcofin Feanorion of the
        House of Finwe, of the Dominion of Nargothrond.

        PS: No need to send a present, we're provided for just fine here, and we'd not
        care to deprive you of any of the little you've managed to" -- heh -- "hold on to.
        But we do expect a good dinner when we come to visit next -- Father-in-Law."

Celegorm: [wipes eyes, gesturing]
        He's going to go completely critical -- absolute boilover and meltdown -- where
        do you come up with these things?

        My favorite's the bit where it goes:  "You really should be grateful to us,
        considering that we've taken care of the problem that you carelessly allowed to
        occur, and still more carelessly allowed to continue. Doubtless a little applied
        Noldorin ingenuity would have found a way around such an imprudent promise, but
        don't worry, your trespasser's out of the picture -- permanently -- and you've
        gained not one, but seven, sons-in-law (any one of whom far outranks the least
        of your subjects) so you've come out it well ahead all the same."

        Or, or, what about: "If you'd wanted a Silmaril, you should have talked to us first--

        Oh yes --


        "--having seen your daughter's beauty and heard her voice, we would have rated
        her worthy of three, not one, and you could have joined our family and acquired a
        legitimate stake in them. But no harm done, despite your clumsy efforts to enlist
        our halfwit cousin (half-Teler, and no doubt a connection there) in your intrigue--
        obviously it's time for some fresh blood, fresh thought, fresh power in your House,
        wouldn't you agree?"

Celegorm: [a little worried]
        You know . . . Maedhros is not going to be happy when he hears about this. About
        any of it, actually.

        Well, to be perfectly honest, I don't really care what Maedhros will think about
        it.  It won't be as though he can actually do anything about it.

Celegorm: [more worried]
        You're not -- suggesting -- I mean, he is the head of our family--?

    [he gives Curufin an anxious look, hoping he's misunderstood]

        I love our big brother dearly, but let's be completely frank here -- ever since
        he came back he's been, let us say, a few arrows short of a full quiver. I mean,
        giving up the Succession? Can one even do that? So while I respect and acknowledge
        him as yes, the head of our House, I don't feel obliged to consider his opinion and
        even his orders -- especially potential ones -- as automatically binding on me.
        --Or you.

Celegorm: [relieved]
        Oh. --I agree.

        Once it's a fait accompli, he'll be obliged to accept it, and that it's for the
        best -- the advantages to having Beleriand consolidated into a single powerful
        force under one coherent rule will be unarguable. It's the only way we'll ever get
        them back, after all.

        What about Fingon? A lot of people -- even ours -- do accept him as the High King,
        you know.

        Well, considering as His Highness is high up in his mountains and can't really
        come out of them, he's made himself largely irrelevant for all practical purposes.
        A nominal High King doesn't bother me one way or the other, especially given the
        numbers. If he wants to try conclusions with us, let him -- I'll just point out
        to him that a two-front war with a Dark Lord on his back porch is a really,
        really bad idea.

        That's why I leave the plotting and planning to you. I get hung up on one detail
        or other and you have the gift for going around and making it all fit together

        Yes, we do make a good team, don't we? --So, any thoughts on who we should send
        with it? It'll have to be someone we can trust, people who won't talk out of turn,
        you might say -- but at the same time someone we won't miss too much if Elwe reacts
        as I suspect he might and tosses them in the lock-up.

Celegorm: [frowning]
        That is a problem. Who can we spare for a couple-score years until we've finished
        consolidating here?

        Too bad we can't send Huan -- I can't imagine even Old Shadows would dare to try
        to toss him into a cell! --Where is he, anyway? I haven't seen him about for a
        while now.

Celegorm: [smugly]
        Ah, that's my plot. I've left him with Luthien, who's taken quite a fancy to him,
        thus winning me points in absentia as it were.

        Really? I'd think he'd be the last one she'd want to see. She was terrified when
        we found her.

        Oh, you know, girls and nature and all -- sentimental, don't y'know? -- and he's
        so cute when he wants to be, just like when he was a puppy.

        Doesn't he get bored?

        No -- he can never get enough attention, you know how it is with dogs.

Curufin: [grinning]
        Ah. She has snacks for him.

Celegorm: [grins back]
        That too. Oh, and it makes a handy excuse for coming by to chat with her when
        I collect him.

        Well, I'm glad that's going well. Now we have to figure out how we're going to
        get this out without Orodreth noticing -- or any tattletales noticing for him.

        Oh, pfft -- him!

Curufin: [resting his arm on the back of Celegorm's chair]
        It's just the kind of thing he would kick up a row about. And we don't want that.
        The critical thing is to minimize strife -- let our enemies fight multi-front wars,
        not us.

    [Celegorm nods slowly in agreement.]

        Now, I'm guessing it will take about a fortnight at a reasonable travel speed,
        allowing for at least one autumn storm in there, just to be safe. We can arrange
        with our chaps on the Borders to take care of provisions for the messengers,
        and avoid drawing attention from Household by taking supplies...
   [the camera pulls away from their plotting, fadeout]


        Like to the ghost that sitteth down at table, welcomeless,
        amid the feasting guilty, roameth Tinuviel in her distress.

    [The Great Solar. Luthien wanders through, appearing vague and distracted, looking
    around in rather a lost way. People stop talking briefly and look at her nervously,
    but do not approach her or speak to her. One woman in the robes of a Sage starts to
    get up and then sits down with her few companions in their alcove again. At the
    Carillon's court Celebrimbor is there doing something to the Chronometer; he watches
    Luthien's approach worriedly, but continues with his adjustments.]

Luthien:  [aloud to herself]

    [stopping in front of the fountain]

        That's what I was looking for.

    [She fills her hands and bathes her eyes -- it's clear she's been crying a lot.
    Afterwards she takes the cup and fills herself a drink, and then sits down on the
    edge of the fountain and starts pouring cupfuls of water back into the basin with
    a fascinated expression. In the distance the Sage gets up again, pushing aside the
    hand of one of her companions who tries to hold her back, and moves determinedly
    towards the Princess of Doriath, coming up behind her]

Sage: [sharply]
        Your Highness --

    [But before Luthien has a chance to respond she breaks and flees back into the angles
    of the cavern, disappearing behind a column.]

Luthien: [puzzled frown]

    [She looks around, but does not know who addressed her; after a moment she shrugs and
    goes back to playing absently with the water. Noticing something, she starts looking
    more closely at the ornate carvings and eventually gets up and kneels on the floor to
    see the base of the fountain better. When she doesn't get up Celebrimbor of all the
    people staring or trying not to do so obviously leaves off his work and goes over.]

Celebrimbor: [hesitant but concerned]
        My lady?

Luthien: [offhand]
        I've found another one.

        Another what, my lady?

Luthien: [looking up at Celebrimbor, who kneels down next to her]
        Another serpent. See? He's right there, pretending to be a stem, but look, there's
        his eye, and there's his smile, behind that leaf. They're all smiling -- happy
        little serpents. I've found seven of them so far now. --Finrod made this, didn't he?

    [Celebrimbor nods]

        They're like Beren's ring. --It's such an odd device. Oh look, there's another one,
        eating a flower, or carrying it. What are they? They look like grass snakes a
        little, but the scales are different, they don't have those lines down them.

        I'm afraid I don't know what they're called here, my lady, I -- I think they only
        live in Valinor. "Green-eyed golden house-snakes" I suppose would be the closest

        Do they really eat flowers?

    [Celebrimbor nods]

        They're not -- that big, are they? Or are those supposed to be very small flowers?
        No -- there's one with a flag-iris, pulling it out of the water. Are they real?

        Indeed yes, my lady.

        Oh, my.


        They still look sweet. Not like adders at all. --But surely they don't make things?
        How would they do it? I can see why, I suppose, it would be like making a fancy
        subtlety for them, but still I don't see how they could do it with just their mouths.

    [Celebrimbor looks at her rather anxiously]

        --Flowers. Wreaths. Making things with their food. --But they're serpents.

    [as he still looks blank, with a touch of impatience:]

        --On the emblem.

        Oh. For some reason they struck my great-uncle's fancy. I think there was a story
        about it, something funny--

    [Luthien looks at him with mild interest, and he continues:]

        Oh, yes, now I remember. --Finarfin had made a garland for Earwen, when they were
        courting, and brought it to where she was working, but then he got distracted when
        he saw the project and set it down somewhere, and started, er, helping. Except then
        they got into a bit of a disagreement where the piece should go that she was carving,
        and he wanted to do something to bring out the grain of the wood and she wanted to
        leave it to weather, and they got rather cross about it, and he said something like
        "Don't let's fight -- I brought you flowers."

Luthien: [puzzled]
        --But what does that have to do with finishing wood?

    [Celebrimbor gives her an odd look and laughs politely]

Celebrimbor: [continuing]
        -- but then he couldn't find them, and she said he must have forgotten them, and
        it got a bit sharp again, -- and then they noticed that the pair of house-snakes
        had found them, somehow gotten the wreath off the bench, and were dragging it back
        to their hole. Except they weren't getting very far, because one of them wanted
        to stop and eat them right there, and the other was trying to keep going, and the
        string was slowing the first one down -- and Earwen started laughing and said,
        "Look! That's us!" So they decided to carve it for over the door, to remind them
        of . . .

    [pauses, then goes on with a hint of bitterness]

        . . . well, you know, need for cooperation and compromise and how silly they'd been
        and how easy it was to get caught up in one's own perspective without thought of
        anyone else having a valid point of view and so forth. And it just sort of stuck as
        a family joke, only after a few Great Years nobody even thought about it any more.

    [without changing his tone, quietly]

        --My lady, if you're troubled it would be better to speak to the healers and send
        for music rather than resorting to excess of wine for your spirits.

Luthien: [affronted]
        I'm not tipsy.

Celebrimbor: [regretful]
        Forgive my impertinence, but it's . . . apparent that you've had more in so short a
        time than your stamina will bear.

        I'm not. I haven't touched wine at all today.

        Then what's wrong, my lady?

Luthien: [astounded]
        Is that a serious question?


        I -- I meant anything most particular, right now. That -- I could help with.

    [Luthien sighs]

        I don't think -- I've slept more than half a watch or so a night -- since
        Beren was captured. Sometimes not even that. And I haven't been let go outside
        since I came here, everyone says it's too dangerous.

        Well, there have been more wargs around this season than any time since the
        Fortress fell, so it isn't an exaggeration.

Luthien: [shrugs]
        I didn't see anything. And my people believe it's unhealthy to spend too long
        indoors, and I have to say it certainly seems to be true.

    [splashes her hand in the water]

        Maybe I'll just camp out here. I could probably sleep here all right. The
        fountain sounds so nice, I could almost forget I wasn't outside.

        You're not serious--!

    [realizes she is serious]

        My lady, that's . . . not going to be possible. --You can't just, er, "camp out"
        in the Hall of Hours, as though it were a bivouac in the field!

        Why not? Finrod wouldn't mind if he were here. He lived on our main staircase
        practically all of one visit, copying the friezes -- we just put up extra lights
        and some ropes so no one would trip on him or step on the scrolls if he wasn't
        there, and Lord Edrahil kept bringing him meals and taking the plates way and
        poking him to make sure he ate and checking that he hadn't accidently rinsed
        brushes in his drinking goblet, and we all got so used to it that for months
        after they'd all gone we still were only using the other side of the steps . . .
        I wouldn't even be in the way, over by the wall here.

        That's -- true . . . but . . . His Majesty isn't here and . . . that just isn't
        done, Your Highness.

Luthien: [uneven smile]
        If I do it then it will be, won't it?

Celebrimbor: [dismayed]
        It's . . . beneath your dignity, to sleep on the floor, my lady.

        No, it isn't.


        The other option would be to bring the fountain to my room. Which would be less
        convenient and not very considerate of everyone else. Though I'm sure my cousin
        would give me it if I asked as well. --If he were here.

        Does it have to be this fountain, or would another do? I could probably make or
        find a smaller one, if you would like . . .

Luthien: [shrugging]
        It's the pitch of it. Some fountains just sound hollow, others annoyingly busy.
        This one is properly musical. --That's how I knew it was Finrod's work before I saw
        the snakes on it, because of the tone. He retuned all the fountains at Menegroth,
        which was nice of him, even though it rather annoyed my parents that he started the
        project without asking. I didn't realize how much of a difference it could make --
        did you even realize that, that water could be tuned like a drum?

Celebrimbor: [regretful]
        Yes, I know. We -- discussed it, a few times.

Luthien: [frowning, as if realizing something]
        You're Lord Curufin's son.


    [He looks like he would say something else, sarcastic, but doesn't]

        Your uncle said I should speak to him about getting my cape back from the Sages
        but I haven't been able to track him down.

        He . . . can be a difficult person to talk to.

Luthien: [earnest]
        Will you try to get hold of him for me, tell him I need to speak to him, that
        I need my cloak back, or at least to know when they'll be done with it? I'm
        getting worried about it, and I don't want to be rude or seem ungrateful, but
        I can't find anyone who claims to know where it is, except your father secondhand
        through Lord Celegorm.

        I'm -- I'm afraid I don't have any control over his doings or goings, Your
        Highness, which are -- many.

Luthien: [forcefully]
        I understand these things. Believe me, I do understand about the troubles of
        rulers, and the business of running realms, and the responsibilities of lords.
        --Talk to him for me when next you see him. That's all I ask.

    [long silence]

        I -- I will, my lady.


        Was there anything else you wanted here? Anything you need that isn't being
        provided for you?

    [Luthien stares at him for a moment]

        No. Huan wanted to come up here. I think it's up.

Celebrimbor: [looks around]

        He's not here right now. He went off somewhere while I was getting supplies.

Celebrimbor: [baffled]

Luthien: [a bit frustrated, repeating with emphasis]
        Yes, supplies. See?

    [she unknots a corner of her mantle and shows him a handful of dried fruit and pastries]

        But . . . won't the household bring you whatever you ring for?

        Yes, but you never pass up the chance to grab something when you can. --Beren taught
        me that, though I never expected to have to use the knowledge. I can't walk past
        a hazelnut thicket now without checking, or a tangle of berry canes, or a birds'nest,
        in case there's something I can scavenge.

Celebrimbor: [faintly]
        You don't need to, now, my lady, you're safe and -- and provided-for, here.

Luthien: [shrugging]
        It gets to be a habit.


        I wish I had the canteen I made out of reeds, it was such a nice compact one,
        but I dropped it when I was treed by Huan and forgot to pick it up.

        --Reeds . . . ?

    [realizes too late to stop himself how annoying this is getting]

Luthien: [very slowly]
        The hollow things that grow in swampy depressions and along riverbanks. --And
        resin. The stuff that comes out of pine trees. It's very sticky. It makes the
        water taste odd but it keeps it in. --Did you not speak Sindarin much in Aglon?

    [Celebrimbor blinks, doesn't answer; after a moment she bites her lip]

        Um. That was really rude of me. I'm sorry. I'm just -- so horribly tired.

    [she fights successfully to keep from breaking down.]

Celebrimbor: [gently]
        Shall I escort you to your suite, Your Highness?

        No, I should probably wait for Huan. He might get worried if he came back and
        couldn't find me. I'll just stay here.

Celebrimbor: [still troubled]
        Very well, my lady.

    [He returns to working on his clock, and Luthien watches him for a moment before
    putting her head down on her knees. Curufin enters, obviously looking for his son,
    and stalks over to where Celebrimbor is taking something apart.]

Curufin: [quietly enough not to make a public scene, but not pleasantly]
        Are you still wasting your time with that toy? Shouldn't you move on to something
        else? Or are you going to compulsively tinker with it for the next Great Year, too?

    [Instead of answering, Celebrimbor nods over in the direction of the fountain. Curufin
    following his look sees Luthien asleep next to it and frowns, not expecting or pleased
    by this.]

Celebrimbor: [quietly]
        She's been looking for you to talk to you, Father. Do you wish to wake Her Highness?

    [Grimacing, Curufin turns quickly and strides off. Celebrimbor looks first relieved,
    then disgusted with himself at his stratagem. In the background Huan makes his way
    through the Hall of Hours, sniffing the air, and heads towards them. When he gets to
    where Luthien is sitting he stands in front of her, patient-dog-mode, huffing on her
    feet until she notices he's there and grabs his ruff to pull herself up. Trailing shreds
    behind her, she walks with a handful of his fur, as if they were arm-in-arm, and they
    go out without stopping or speaking to anyone else. A visible relief on the expressions
    of the crowd, save for Celebrimbor, who keeps working with a bitter & self-mocking smile.]


           --Slipped in thus stealthily, poison to the mind
        most subtle, lingering, and potent one shall find--

    [The apartments of Lord Guilin's House -- the style here is very high Noldor, even
    more so than in Orodreth's suite: more geometric and abstract, though still with
    natural and organic themes (more early Dynastic and Assyrian, less Amarna). There
    is a lot of glass in the ornamentation, both blown and cut, both functional and used
    for atmospheric effect of light and color. Finduilas and Gwindor are having an
    animated conversation in the main hallway.]

Gwindor: [arms folded, very abrupt]
        I can't believe you're going on with this. It's completely inappropriate.

Finduilas: [exasperated and pleading]
        It's been planned for months, Gwin. It would be far more awkward if we canceled
        it now.

        It's still inappropriate.

        We talked about it before -- if you were going to object you should have said
        something sooner.

        If you will recall, Finduilas, -- I did.

        Yes, but then you stopped.

        Because you clearly had no intention of listening to anything I had to say.

        Well, I'm sorry. But it's too late, to change it, now.

        It's never too late.

        Gwin, your father isn't going to cancel. Would you just -- oh, honestly--!

    [she breaks off, shaking her head, turns away and folds her own arms. Brief pause.]

        Well, perhaps I won't be here.

    [Finduilas whirls]

Finduilas: [outraged]
        Milord, are you trying to be funny? Because you're failing dismally.

Gwindor: [just as haughty]
        I wasn't jesting, your Highness. If you insist on holding celebrations with your
        snobby Eastern friends, you can just count me out.

        Gwin! They're your friends too.

        Not any longer.

        You're not serious, are you? Do you know how humiliating that would be, for you
        not to be here? You don't mean it really.

        I mean it. If you refuse to use your wits and your sensibilities and mindlessly
        accept things as they are, it's my duty then to think for both of us.

        How dare you!

Gwindor: [offhand]
        Someone's got to -- it might as well be me.

    [not so snottily]

        Please try to look at things rationally--

        Do not try to slip out of this after those words, milord Guilinion! I will
        not put up with such arrogant, insulting, rude behavior without an apology!

Gwindor: [exasperated]

Finduilas: [raising her voice still more]
        Don't you dare call me that right now!

    [Enter Lord Guilin]

        --Children, what's the matter? You're disturbing the whole household with your arguing.

Finduilas: [holding out her hands]
        Sir, your son is being impossible. Again.

Guilin: [sighing]
        Gwin, why must you take out your ill-humor upon your lady? Isn't there enough sorrow
        these days?

    [Gwindor rolls his eyes]

        Finduilas, dear, what is this trouble over?

        He's being hateful about the Gathering tonight. Calling me insensitive and frivolous,
        as if doing nothing instead would help--

Guilin: [reproachfully]
        I'd hoped you were going to be mature about this, Gwin. I -- if you're going to attack
        anyone, attack me. Not the Princess. After all, I'm the one who made the decision; I
        should bear your scorn, not she.

Gwindor: [fiercely]
        Father, if you cared so much for my good opinion, then why haven't you taken it into
        consideration before making decisions? Keeping me sheltered like so much glass isn't
        going to bring back Gelmir. --Or the King.

        Gwin! How can you be so cruel?

    [Gwindor stands still, his expression angry and pained, and suddenly slams his fist
    against the panelling. One of the elaborate sculptures on the wall separates from its
    mount and drops onto the stone floor, shattering. Finduilas covers her ears instinctively,
    cringing, waiting for the breakage, and bursts into silent tears. Gwindor looks appalled
    and ashamed.]

Guilin: [sadly]
        Son. --Did that aid anything?

        Faelivrin, I'm sorry--

Finduilas: [sniffling]
        It doesn't matter, I'll make another one.

    [Gwindor goes over to her and puts his arms around her.]

Gwindor: [whispering]
        I'm so sorry, I lost my temper, I--

    [she shakes her head]

        I'll be here tonight. I promise. I won't say anything. --I'm sorry.

        It's all right.

    [The Carillon sounds -- she starts.]

        Oh! I've got to meet my father for dinner. I need to go change and see about a
        lot of things first.

    [wipes her eyes]

        Please excuse me, Lord Guilin.

        Not at all, my dear. Please give him my regards. --Are you quite yourself again?

Finduilas: [bright smile]
        I will. Yes, I'm fine, thank you.

    [she gives Gwindor a quick kiss and goes off briskly. Her fiancee does not look away
    from his father's recriminating expression, but after Lord Guilin leaves he sighs and
    carefully begins picking up the broken pieces of blown glass.]


        The lessons of an idle hour's gaming may be well-learned,
        by fairest maid no less than him whose scars hard-earned
        befell in fight more worthy than when ship and city burned--

    [Luthien is sitting by the hearth with Huan, both of them watching the flames, him
    behind her rather like a sphinx with his head over/on her shoulder, (the way horses
    like to.) Celegorm, shown in by an attendant, looks around the solar for a moment
    before seeing them on the floor and is surprised. He has an ornate & longish box
    under his arm.]

Celegorm: [hesitantly]
        Er, hullo, I was just looking for Huan -- I see he's there with you still . . .

Luthien: [looking around]
        Yes, he's a little hard to miss.

    [She gets up and comes around the Hound and greets Celegorm with a polite nod as to
    an equal; he takes her hand and bows over it with just short of exaggeration. She does
    not look quite so drugged and haggard as before.]

        Well, how's my little pup doing? Behaving himself?

    [Huan stretches and whines, wriggling, conveying I'm-a-good-dog-but-I-don't-want-to-move]

Luthien: [wistfully]
        Oh, yes. Do you have to take him away so soon?

        No, not at all. In fact, -- I was thinking you might like to play a few rounds
        of chess to divert yourself, so I brought a set and a board along . . ?

    [looks at her with an expression of mild hopefullness]

        There's already one in this room,

    [remembering manners]

        --but that's kind of you. --Oh--

    [her eyes light up]

        -- wait! with two we could play mortal chess.

        Mortal chess?

        Yes, Beren taught me how to play it. It's very interesting. I'll teach you, if
        you like. I find our version rather dull now, to tell the truth.

    [she takes the box and carries it over to the table, grabbing the other set off
    a sideboard as she goes]

Celegorm: [lightly]
        Hm. Wouldn't have guessed he could fit a set in that little kit of his. Or was
        it yours?

Luthien: [serious]
        Oh no. You can play it with rocks and acorns, or bits of stick with the bark
        peeled off some of them. All you need is two colors and one bigger than the rest,
        to be the king-stone. And some flat ground and a twig or a flat rock and charcoal
        to draw the lines.

    [she takes out all the pawns, leaving the rest of the figured pieces in the case.]

        Now if you'll give me the other set--

    [she takes out the red pawns only from this set and sets the pieces up tafl-style --
    the red pawns go in clusters at the centers of the four sides, the white pawns go in
    the middle of the board, and in the center of them one white king.]

        Where do the rest of 'em go?

        That's it. Now we play.

        You're joking!

    [Huan comes over and sits down between them, leaning his head over the table to
    watch the game curiously]


        But you can't win this. Or -- that is, only red can win, all the time. The unlucky
        soul playing center certainly can't.

        Oh, you can -- it's just very hard. That's why I find it so much more mentally
        stimulating than ours, with everything all equal and balanced to start with. Very
        symmetrical, not very realistic. --Unless you could somehow bring out secret ones
        all of the sudden.

    [he is looking at her rather oddly]

        Just like in the Leaguer. This isn't realistic really, having everyone know what
        forces are on each side, since we're all trying to hide ours from the Enemy and he
        from us, and trick each other into mistaking what's what. --But at least this is
        more like what really happened. --And you can win it, which I think is a hopeful sign.

        Even outnumbered. And surrounded.

        Yes. As long as you don't lose your leader. The trick is to keep moving and get free.

Celegorm: [rubbing his lips pensively]
        How do you take pieces, if they all move the same way?

        Any warrior trapped between two enemies is down. And you only move in straight
        lines, ahead, back, or either side. I go first -- see, like that. Now you go.

    [They go through the next few moves carefully]

        Oh, you made a mistake, you just went two squares with him.

        No, that's right: you can go as far as you think safe. Generally you don't want
        to get out ahead of the line, though. Realism again.

        Hey, wait, your chap's down -- he just went between two of my pieces.

        No, you can dash between two enemies already there.

Celegorm: [wry]
        Now you tell me.

        Sorry. It's just if you're engaged with one and someone else comes up behind you,
        then you go down. I believe that's an accurate reflection of how it works in real
        life, reduced to essentials, isn't it?

Celegorm: [heartfelt]
        This is a weird game.



        Eh? What's that?

        I have to warn you -- I have a clear path for escape there. --That's another way
        games differ from real life.

        So . . . if I move this warrior here, your king is blocked, and you don't have an
        out any more.

        Right. But he won't last very long, because I'm coming up alongside of him here,
        and now -- he's down.

        But -- hmm.

    [he scowls at the board, a bit chagrinned]

        That's all right, I lost all the time at first, too. No matter what side I was
        playing. It took a few bouts before I got the hang of it.

Celegorm: [indulgently]
        Oh, you mean before he let you have a win.

Luthien: [sharply]
        Beren didn't let me win.

Celegorm: [nodding in patronizing fashion as he moves]
        Right, right.

Luthien: [snapping her piece down]
        He didn't. --He wouldn't dare, I'd know.

        You really think I'm going to believe this can be won by the defending side?

        When you see it.

    [Celegorm moves, and she moves instantly, taking two of his pieces]

         You can't do that!

        Both of them were flanked. It's just like draughts: as many as are in range.

    [he frowns, moves again, and she counters again]


        What's that mean?

        It means I win. See?


        Even if you could block this side, you can't get your troops over to the other side
        fast enough to stop me from breaking through here.

        I'll be damned. You did win. --Are you sure you didn't cheat?

    [Luthien looks indignant -- his expression and tone change completely to sincerest

        Oh, what am I saying? Of course you wouldn't cheat, you're a lady and far too fair
        and honorable for that. You've bested me in fair fight.

        I've had far more practice at it. Here, I'll set up again and you'll know what to
        do now.

    [she starts rearranging the pieces; after a moment Celegorm catches her first words
    and gives her a wary look

Celegorm: [aside]
        --Did she really say what I thought she said? . . . surely not . . .

    [aloud, staring hard at the board]

        Of course, you realize it's really ironic, dont'ya know, when winning consists
        of turning tail and running for dear life! You can tell no Noldor mind came
        up with this game--

    [he chuckles, but stops at her look and settles down]

        --All right, so I want to prevent you from bracketing my pieces, or they'll all
        be picked off and flattened . . .

    [suddenly stunned with realization]

       --Wait, I know this -- it's a confounded sandastan!


        Hah -- my lady, you won't draw me into this hedge so easily again. Your move,
        I believe, Your Highness?

    [intensely they go through the next series of moves in silence.]

        Well. I think -- I've won. Your warriors can't get out out of that quadrant,
        can they? And your king can't get to the edge with my men there, right? So
        either you surrender now, or, you come out and get cut down one by one. Hm?

Luthien: [nodding]
        Very impressive, my lord.

Celegorm: [smiling into her eyes]
        I'm a fast learner.

Luthien: [not looking away]
        But -- if this were real life, that might not be the end of it.

    [She reaches into a box, takes out the rest of white pawns and sets them in a
    wedge at the opposite corner. Definitely--]

        --Keep playing.

        Hey! You can't do that! --Can you?

        I just did. It's called -- the Serech Variation. Your move.

    [Silence. Huan whines. Celegorm swallows hard, and breaks from her glance to consider
    the board. After a moment, he makes an uncertain jerky slide, and she moves at once
    to counter. He gets back to business, and keeps pulling pieces away from her encircled
    king to throw them in front of her attack, but she just keeps moving, without stopping
    to consider the next move.]

        Path. --And field.

    [Celegorm stares at the board dismayed, and then looks up at her.]

        But you lost just about all of your forces to do it.

Luthien: [coolly]
        And that, too, is more like real life -- isn't it?

    [Celegorm doesn't say anything, although he tries. She reaches around the board and
    catches both of his hands in her own, staring intensely at him]

        --You know what we have to do. You know how to do it. You've told me how it should
        be done. You've told me how Finrod befriended you and took you in and supplied your
        material losses out of his own stores without asking for any return or putting you
        "in your place" over it ever since the Sudden Flame -- and you told me I could
        depend on you. I am depending on you. --We are. Celegorm Turcofin Feanorion, will
        you redeem your pledge to me and your debt to the King and avenge your father all
        in one? --Which may perhaps even help effect a reconciliation not merely between my
        family  and myself, but between our Houses as well, if only you but throw off this
        mirk that clouds all our minds and press forward without further delay!

    [Celegorm stares at her, entranced, visibly torn, struggling to speak]

        I --

    [his expression changes from receptive to baffled]

        --would, -- but--

    [he shakes his head sadly]

        --it isn't entirely in my control --

    [meaningful tone]

        not as though I were Regent, after all--

    [Luthien lets go of his hands, flattens hers on the table and stands up from her chair]

Luthien: [ominously]
        Are you saying Orodreth is a traitor? That he's delaying on purpose--!?

    [Celegorm is intimidated in spite of himself by her expression and backs down]

        I -- I didn't mean to imply that, my lady, only, only, -- only that he -- well,
        it's difficult to say, being friends for many years, but -- he -- he isn't --
        well, you know, about the Fortress and all . . .

        Know what?

        I really . . . shouldn't say . . .

        You've said already -- too much, or too little, my lord.

Celegorm: [sighing]
        He's got no nerve left for fighting. It seemed to happen with the onset of Sauron
        -- who as you might know is a spirit of no ordinary power and ability -- but I'm
        convinced it really all started with the Bragollach --

    [sp reading his hands regretfully]

        not that I can blame him, certainly, not like he's the only Elf to be undone by
        that disaster -- but giving up the Fortress without a fight, running back here
        without even a retreatin' action -- there's a reason why he's never held command
        or even taken the field since then.

        But he is not the only warrior -- soldier or officer -- in Nargothrond!

Celegorm: [more confidently]
        But he's in charge. He's the one who sets the tone, you know, that a command takes
        its lead from the commander, and so on. Without the will bein' there at the top,
        the bottom ranks can't have it either. Morale and whatnot, doncha know.

Luthien: [shaking her head, bewildered]
        But -- but that doesn't make any sense -- if he can't handle the responsibility
        of ruling, then it would make sense to do everything possible to get the one who
        can back safely--

        True -- but, you know -- people don't always behave rationally, what?


        Oh -- Lady Luthien -- you won't mention to him that I told you about this, will
        you? He's very -- sensitive, about the rout -- understandable, of course.

    [he takes her hand and bows over it]

        Are you going so soon?

Celegorm: [awkwardly]
        I -- I must.

    [sudden inspiration]

        You asked me to see what I could do.

Luthien: [taken aback, uncertainly]
        Oh. Oh, good. Thank you. --May Huan stay a while longer? If you please, my lord?

Celegorm: [smiles]
        Of course, my lady.

    [He bows again and leaves, still a bit shaken, though covering it well]

Luthien: [beyond upset]

    [leans on the table, her head hanging down]

        Did I actually accomplish anything? --I don't know--

    [Listlessly she starts putting the remaining chessmen away -- then struck by a sudden
    inspiration she picks up one of the white castles and turns it around in her fingers]

Luthien: [thoughtful]
        So cousin Orodreth was there . . . I'd not realized that. For years. That means
        he knows the area well -- and the Fortress.

    [A look of focussed determination comes over her face. She puts the piece away,
    tosses the end of her mantle over her shoulder like a cape and folds her arms squarely.]

        I need to talk to him. About everything. And the way to reach him is Finduilas
        -- I'm afraid I've got to catch her and not let go, even if I lose what's left
        of my mind as a result. --Oh well--

    [looks at Huan; without irony:]

        --Could I trouble you to find her for me, milord?

    [Huan gets up, wagging his tail slowly, not unwilling, but not enthusiastic, and he
    sounds rather troubled when he replies:]

       [short bark]

        You don't have to stay while we talk, unless you want to.

    [Huan comes over to have his ears scratched before going out on his mission; Luthien
    goes over to a "window" and perches on the frame as if it was a real windowsill.]

Luthien: [musing]
        --He didn't even notice that I let him win the second time . . . it's worse than
        I realized! But I don't know what to do, except talk -- if it's being underground,
        really, I've got no hope -- but if it's being cut off from the sky, you'd think
        it would be the same at home -- hah, perhaps it is! -- but no, nobody stays all
        the time in the Thousand Caves. Or perhaps it's also the fact that Mom's there,
        and her presence counteracts the lack of stars. And then -- that could explain,
        actually -- with Finrod gone there's no one here who's strong enough to make up
        for the absence . . .

    [traces the joins along the edges of the carved trees with her finger]

        I wish Galadriel were here -- she wouldn't allow such a muddle and nightmare to
        go on. She'd know what to do, and do it. But instead -- we've just got me . . .

    [she sighs heavily and leans back on the frame, closing her eyes]


                 A broken faith less easy to repair when riven,
        one finds; yet may the pieces, severally, be truly given--

    [The royal apartments. Celebrimbor enters from one of the farther chambers with a
    small chest and sets it down on the table, where there are a number of pieces of
    carved marble and bronze piping. Taking a piece of cloth from the chest he starts
    wrapping up the disassembled fountain and packing it in the box. One small basin he
    picks up, and blows across it like a flute, with a distant look. Behind him Curufin
    comes in, and he is all business again.]

        So first you sneer at me, and then you go and help yourself to our lamented
        kinsman's belongings. --I do admire your mental flexibility, son.

Celebrimbor: [not looking at him, going on packing]
        I helped with this project. There's a difference -- subtle, but I should think
        you'd appreciate subtlety . . . Father.

        You watch that disrespectful mouth, boy, unless you wish to fend for yourself in
        the Wilds. I could arrange for you to stand a season on the remote watches, you
        know. How much fiddling about, I wonder, could you manage out on patrol or in
        a roundhouse? I doubt you'd get such a dose of fawning appreciation from your
        comrades as you do around here.

    [Celebrimbor flushes but doesn't say anything else.]

        What are you thinking?

    [his son grimaces, but still doesn't answer]

        I asked you a direct question. Your continued silence is insolence. --What are
        you thinking there, Celebrimbor?

Celebrimbor: [looking at him defiantly]
        That -- as usual -- our mothers were wiser than ourselves.

    [it is Curufin's turn to flush]

Curufin: [biting off each word]
        I don't expect you to understand my motives, nor consequently to appreciate them
        -- but you could at least try to make an effort -- particularly when it's for
        your benefit--

    [Celebrimbor's expression hardens -- before things escalate further, Celegorm enters.
    To Celebrimbor:]

        Get out, I want to talk to your father.

        Presently -- I'm almost done.


    [He comes over and starts to grab a component and toss it in: Celebrimbor seizes
    the valve back from him and leans defensively over the table, blocking him.]

        Don't touch any of this!

        Snap at me and I'll muzzle you. --Punk.

    [Glaring, Celebrimbor quickly but carefully puts the remaining pieces inside and closes
    the lid. As he picks up the chest to go--]

        Where are you taking that lot?

        To Her Highness of Doriath. She misses the sound of water. I offered to help.

    [as he is almost out the door]

        --I do follow through, when I make promises.

    [The Sons of Feanor give the grandson of Feanor a dirty parting Look]

        What's going on?

    [Celegorm wanders around the chamber for a minute, not answering right away, leaning
    on furniture and tapping on mantlepieces.]

        Well? Out with it!

        I just had a . . . very troubling encounter with Her Highness.

        Sparkly? Or the other one?

        Her Highness of Doriath, nitwit. Finduilas just looks down her dainty nose at me,
        and I just smile at her, and she just goes off in a huff. She's no trouble.

        What sort of trouble are we talking about, here?

        She was putting some kind of trance on me, something that made me start to forget
        all about our priorities and all. I've never felt anything like it.

    [he looks at Curufin with desperate hopefulness, waiting for explanation and reassurance]

        Was she singing?

        No. Not even humming.


        She just looked into my eyes, and I wanted to tell her everything and grovel on
        the rug and beg her pardon. Five minutes longer and I'd have been arming up to
        head out, I swear!

    [Curufin looks alarmed and angry]

        Oh, and she did invoke my full name.

Curufin: [thoughtfully]
        Well, naming is the second oldest form of power there is, after song -- though to
        hear our cousin go on about it they're the same thing. But if you were able to walk
        away from it without any difficulty I wouldn't worry about it. She isn't that strong,
        it can't have taken that much power to overwhelm a couple of Dark-elven sentries,
        probably already sharing a wineskin and careless with overconfidence. Concentrate
        on impressing her -- though I'd recommend not looking at her eyes.

    [Celegorm sighs regretfully]

        Most prudent thing, I guess. Oh well. Besides, as long as I'm paying attention it
        isn't like she can get anything past my guard. Right?

        I'd think not.

Celegorm: [smugly]
        You'd be proud of me -- I managed to make Orodreth take the fall, and at the same
        time appealed to her delicate sensibilities not to bring it up to him. The way
        he's hiding from her, there's no chance she'll get the chance to, anyhow. Well,
        thanks for taking a load off my mind! --I think I'll go bother our good Regent for
        a bit, now that I think of it. He can give me some pointers on how to achieve
        rapport with Sindarin Elves, eh? Being related to 'em and all.

        Just don't give the plan away to him by accident. He may be unimaginitive, but he
        isn't a complete fool.

        Don't worry, I won't breathe a word. I was thinking I'd make it seem like I'm
        worried about her health, her state of mind and all. I mean, obviously she's not
        quite normal, what?

Curufin: [smiling dryly]
        The "Mad Princess of Doriath." Obviously she needs the best care we can give her.
        --I like it.

    [they share a complicit grin]

        Well, much as I'd never admit it before him that I've overlooked anything,
        'Brim's reminded me there are all sorts of storage areas and work facilities
        about here that I've not investigated. So that should keep me busy for quite a
        while. Good luck on your, er, fishing expedition . . .

    [Celegorm claps him on the shoulder and goes out cheerfully; Curufin begins opening
    cabinets fitted into the marquetry and panelling of the apartments]


        No hits so palpable, so lasting keen, shall e'er be felt
        as they that strike hearts where once friendship dwelt--

    [Orodreth's office. Boxes of scrolls and bound ledgers are lined up along the walls
    and next to his desk, and stacks of them and loose sheets of parchment cover the top
    of it. He is holding a page in his hand as though reading it but not looking at it.
    The door opens suddenly: he looks up, startled, then angry, as Celegorm strolls in.]

Orodreth: [biting]
        It is customary to knock, even if one is too busy and overwhelmed to manage to
        schedule an appointment, you know.

        Oh, come off your high horse, cousin, I've seen you silly with wine too many
        times to take you seriously--

    [Orodreth continues to look around past him]


        Where's your shadow? Or did he finally figure out how to make her invisibility
        cloak work?

        Ha ha. Cur's busy.

Orodreth: [setting down the paper and shaking his head]
        That's a change.

        You could at least be civil, you know.

Orodreth: [sighs]
        I could, I suppose. --What can I help you with, my lord? How may the Regent's
        office be of service to the House of Feanor today?

    [Celegorm grimaces but forges on]

        You've been to Doriath; I haven't. --Don't say "Obviously" or anything like that.
        Just -- answer the question, all right?

    [Orodreth says nothing]

        What's it like there? Is she typical? All this independence and do-it-yourself
        and not seeming to notice the -- the -- grandeur of everything or the honor that's
        rendered her? I mean, it's almost like she's some kind of wild creature that doesn't
        recognize the work of people as being any different from trees!

Orodreth: [drumming his fingers on the desk]
        Typical? No. I would not say that. Not even before. But yes, Doriath is a very
        different place from anything our people have ever built. It has to be. There
        are so many different ethnic groups living there, with separate traditions and
        their own historical soveriegnties, and they mix them all up and swap them around,
        which makes it even more confusing to someone from Aman.

        What do you mean, "swap 'em around" --? How do you do that?

        Oh, Teler using Sindarin names, Singers borrowing Telerin musical instruments,
        Sindar copying Laiquendi pottery designs on leatherwork, and everyone trading
        songs back and forth.

        But -- "sovereignties" --! That can't be what you meant.

Orodreth: [shrugs]
        Then I must have imagined the time that Angrod was arranging a fishing trip down
        to the Confluences and Elu told him to check with our great-aunt about whose it
        was then, as the local tribes had been exchanging it for stories and they'd had
        a Singing recently, and he wasn't sure who would have to grant us permission to
        take fish from the waters.

        What, they gave it away for a song? You're joking!

    [Orodreth shakes his head; Celegorm snorts in disgust]


        And of course there is the fact that the boundaries of Doriath proper are
        impenetrable, so that there is no need for the kind of careful watching and
        intensive security and secrecy that the rest of us must maintain outside.

    [leans back in his chair]

        After all, if no one can get inside, you don't need to worry about the presence
        of Enemy agents or invaders, and after a few Great Years of that I don't think
        anyone from Menegroth would even understand the basis for our policies and rules.
        It may be the model for this City, but it runs on a logic all of its own.

        Is logic even the right word for it, eh?

        Well, if there's no chance of invaders getting near your gates, what do you need
        to have people on them all the time for? The doors just stand open all the time,
        and you haven't wasted anyone's time that could be better spent on creative pursuits.
        And with all the preexisting cultures and lines of authority that converge there,
        there's little of what we would call formality -- does a Sindarin Lord outrank an
        Elder of the Following of Denethor? When a craftswoman of the local village recalls
        the Second Kindling and a war orphan with no name from father or mother is one
        of the foremost warriors of the land -- then best offer the same honor to all, and
        not worry about who ranks whom.

        Sounds like a proper mess.

        It works, though.

        I don't see how.

        No? Well, I have. It just does, somehow. I gather that when you have a minor
        goddess as Queen, many of the ordinary little difficulties of getting people to
        cooperate, and do their jobs responsibly, simply disappear on their own -- they
        don't require alternately bludgeoning and coaxing people into keeping up with
        their duties.

    [shakes head, ironic expression.]

        For instance -- you might find this story interesting -- we heard that in the
        aftermath of the Burning there was a spillover of enemy troops into Brethil,
        which isn't in Doriath but is technically part of their domain . . . as even
        you should concede, since they've managed to hold on to it, so to speak.

Celegorm: [uncomfortable]
        Oh come, don't be such a bad sport--

Orodreth: [impassive, slightly mocking tone]
        It was after I lost Tol Sirion, to put a precise date, and cause, upon it. My
        great-uncle won't have anything to do with the people who live there, they being
        mortals, which suits them admirably, as they're not much for government -- you
        might remember them, they used to stay in your brother's territory until they were
        almost wiped out by a fair-sized army of Orcs, and decided they'd prefer a home
        with a less exposed location, which is another story entirely -- but he still
        sent in Captain Strongbow and a massive relief force at lightning speed to deal
        with it before they were almost wiped out this time.

    [he does not appear to notice Celegorm's glare]

        --Though knowing Beleg, it probably went more like: "Orcs in Brethil -- I'm
        rounding up volunteers and we'll already have gotten there by the time you receive
        this and Her Majesty will already have told you so I'm not sure why I'm sending
        this at all."

        Can't imagine anyone of my people talking to me that way. Or any Noldor ruler.

Orodreth: [bitter smile]
        --Can't you? Never paid much attention around here, did you?

    [Before Celegorm can figure it out]

        Elu really has to be upset to be handing out death threats and locking people
        up -- I can't think of anything to compare to it, except for when he threw us
        all out temporarily as a matter of principle and banned the Old Tongue for good
        measure, after he found out about the Kinslaying.

Celegorm: [frighteningly grim]
        Do not bring that up again, cousin.

    [Orodreth just looks at him, raising one eyebrow, not acknowledging the order]


         Go on, go on, I can't believe you don't have any more to say about it!

Orodreth: [raising his hands]
        What else is there to say? To describe it properly would take -- an Age, and
        then not be done. It's too much, too real, for that. But it's generally very
        easygoing, once you're inside -- Doriath is the sort of place where if you want
        to live in a tree, instead of a cave, no one will mind -- and they won't,
        ordinarily, make you stay there if you don't want to, either.

        So -- is Elwe really a proper King at all? Sounds like anarchy to me.

        Oh yes. Very much so. Make no mistake of that.

        Why? If people just wander in and out, and no one's in charge and everyone
        is equal--

        --Because he is the center of it all -- or rather, they are, for you can't think
        of Elu without Melian -- the axle upon which the Stars revolve, so to speak . . .
        and because all choose to follow, remaining in their Circle.


        --That's the heart of it, isn't it? That's all that matters -- the rest is
        just . . . ornament, when you think about it. It doesn't mean much, if there's
        no holding-to there, nothing to keep one from spinning off into the Void as
        one pleases . . .

Celegorm: [oblivious]
        So what's she like? I mean, really?

        She isn't crazy, if that's what you're getting at. She just sees things . . .
        differently from . . . nearly everyone, that I know of.

        What do you mean?

Orodreth: [shrugs]
        She has a strange way of looking at things, as though from an angle high up,
        or far below, the best I can explain it -- as though someone were to paint you
        a picture of a ship from under the sea -- you'd look at it and wonder what it
        was, before your mind adjusted to it and it would still be the same painting but
        you would understand it, now.

        You're talkin' rot, cousin. Things are things. How you look at 'em doesn't
        change them.

        No? Then perhaps it changes one. Looking at them and thinking about them and
        not being able to go back to seeing them the old way only. But what do I know?
        I was never the Sage in our family -- you are of course free to agree with that
        humorously as you no doubt will--

    [standing up and pacing as he remembers, while speaking]

        What's a good example . . . ? --There are some flowering trees native to Doriath
        similar to summer-snow, but with dark-rose blooms . . . Once I remarked that I
        wished we had them growing around here, and the conversation turned to geographical
        distribution of species and migration patterns and the usual sorts of reasonable
        discourse you'd expect. Luthien was walking backwards practicing pirouettes on the
        gallery railing where we were sitting, by the way.

        Didn't anyone tell her to sit down and take part like a grown-up?

        No. Why?

Celegorm: [nonplussed]
        Well, when people are talking, having a quiet, civilized get-together, you don't
        usually have someone dancing through it at the same time! Time and place for
        everything, and so forth. Nobody thought it was -- well, odd?

        Not in the least. And after a moon or so there, you wouldn't either.

    [Celegorm rolls his eyes, shaking his head]

        Then a while later when we were talking about returning home, she came up to me
        and handed me a little jar, all done up nicely. "Your trees," she said to me, and
        I thought it was a joke at first. "You packed them very well," I said, and she
        answered, "Just don't let them get wet until you're home. There's a grove at least
        in there." I started laughing, and said, "Oh, they're seeds, not trees," and very
        seriously she told me, "No, they're trees, they're just very small right now. I
        can't give you their parents, they'd be unhappy at being sent away, even if you
        could carry them."

    [Orodreth stops pacing and leans on a pillar]

        --At that point I got a bit patronizing and she said very definitely, "No, they
        are trees -- if they weren't already trees, they couldn't become them without
        being changed. Food-and-water is not a change." And then my sister said, "She's
        right. Think about it." And I did, and you know what -- she was. They've grown
        quite well around here, there's quite a grove of them around the Falls now, I'm
        sure you've noticed . . .


        But that's how she is: you think she's totally wrapped up in her art, and oblivous
        to everything going on around her, and in fact she's noticing everything and then
        some, and then she thinks about it, while she's singing or dancing or up in a tree
        somewhere, and then she simply goes and does -- whatever she thinks needs to be
        done about to it.


Celegorm: [catching the subtext at last]
        You don't approve of this mad attachment of hers, surely--

        It is not particularly relevant, one way or another. I have no authority over her.

        Oh, don't be coy -- tell me I haven't the authority either! Be bold!

Orodreth: [unaffected by sarcasm]
        I know very well why you hold her here, and I have forfeited my right to
        interfere -- have pledged it, in fact, unbreakably.

Celegorm: [looks guilty]
        What do you mean?

        You fear she will indeed prove able to rescue her true-love and with him my
        brother and his followers -- and so you dare not let her go, any more than I
        dare let her go, and let open war break forth in the breaking of our unwritten
        accord -- which, by the by, is a figment of your imagination: I am under Royal
        Mandate to keep the peace here, which is the salve by which I staunch my
        bleeding conscience.

        Cousin, cousin, cousin! Can't we at least make peace and be friends again,
        on a personal basis, for old times' sake?

Orodreth: [gravely]
        I'm sorry you're so lonely. But it's you who've isolated yourself, not the
        other way round.

        No? I'm not the one who's too proud to accept the way things are, pretending
        to be independent and honorable and all the while no better than the rest of us!

        Nor am I. But I am not your friend, either of policy or of private choosing.

        Didn't I save you a nasty skewering from that mutant boar up in the North Quarter?

Orodreth: [nods]
        You did indeed.

        --Didn't I stand up for you after Tol Sirion, when everyone was whispering and
        questioning and giving you Looks?

        You did. And I was grateful.

Celegorm: [nastily]
        Short-lived, though.

        Do you really not understand? Can you really not see -- that there is -- can be --
        no going back to what was now? That place . . . doesn't exist now, for us -- there
        is no way back. The time for turning back was then, and you chose to press on,
        to . . . burn your ships behind you.

Celegorm: [sneering]
        So much for "forgive and forget," eh?

        That's not how it works: what -- what happened at Losgar is become of a piece with
        this, and since you are the sort of person who can so casually and thoughtlessly
        betray your friends, I find that there is no one there with whom I can have any
        kind of a friendship -- and that there never was. I was simply deluded.

Celegorm: [upset]
        --That's not it, you don't understand--

Orodreth: [interrupting]
        --Perhaps. Perhaps I would have to be -- someone else, entirely, to understand --
        your kind of treason. You, at least, are loyal to each other.


        If it's any consolation, I don't think you consciously regard your fellow
        Elves as tools, as mere means to further your ends, and not truly your Kindred
        at all -- I judge it's more that no one beside your siblings has any substance
        to you, exists save in relation to yourselves, and so it really is less monstrous
        than . . . others' behavior. I don't put you on the same level as . . . Morgoth,
        for example.

Celegorm: [sarcasm]
        --How generous of you! Well, I'm off to defend your borders from wolf-spies and
        hell-boars -- you can go on flagellating yourself, since you seem to prefer it.

        No, as it happens I'm going to sit here and sort through paperwork, which is far
        worse punishment.

    [Celegorm laughs disbelievingly]

        You try it sometime -- going through leaf after leaf, scroll after scroll, when
        the handwriting's as familiar to you as your own, or in a page of dull clerical
        copy there's a note dashed across that makes you laugh out loud because you can
        just hear the tone of voice -- and then you remember . . . Surely you can
        understand -- What about going through your father's things?

Celegorm: [stricken]
        That -- you -- that wasn't--

    [raising voice]

        We didn't betray him! We tried--

Orodreth: [gently]
        I know. --Goodbye, Cel.

    [Celegorm stares at him, then storms out, slamming the door behind him. Orodreth
    bends to collect the documents swept off by the air, and just stops, standing by the
    desk, closing his eyes with an anguished expression. Then he goes back again behind it,
    sits down and starts going through the Kingdom's records again. After a moment, however,
    he looks up in sudden realization, rises and hurries into the outer chambers.]

SCENE XII.ii [no dialogue]

    [A hallway in the heart of the City, running along a carefully-sculpted channel
    of one of the underground watercourses of the Narog. Huan trots through in a
    businesslike manner sniffing a trail. People stop talking as he goes by and look
    around him guiltily for Luthien.]


        --Nor state nor ceremony shall e'er suffice
        to stand for power, that no more present,
        returns not twice--

    [The Regent's private office -- Finduilas is pouring wax carefully for her father
    to stamp with the royal seal, which is a challenge because a circle large enough to
    take a state seal wants to keep pouring off the page. She blows on it, watching it
    closely from an angle and waves him off when he goes to impress it.]

        --Not yet, not yet -- it's just like molten glass at this stage, hard on the
        surface, pure liquid underneath. You'll ruin it and we'll have to peel it off
        and start over again.

    [He smiles at her officiousness, and she smiles back]


    [Orodreth emblazons the document.]

        No matter how many assistants I have, you'll still be the best.

    [Finduilas tosses her head in mock arrogance]

        Of course I shall.


        --But did you have to shout at him so?

Orodreth: [grimacing]
        Yes, I did. He was supposed to be doing his job. I'm sorry if he got a sudden
        inspiration and wanted to sketch it down right away, but I didn't accept his
        application to mind the door and deal with the small matters and keep
        trespassers out of my office except when he feels like doing something else --
        I took him at his word that he would, in fact, mind things for me and if I can't
        rely on him to do that, then he needs to find me someone who will be responsible
        enough to put his or her own enjoyments to the side for the duration of service
        and go back to his studio. --Grinding Ice, I'm doing it now.


        Anyway, he hasn't bolted yet, so the shouting seems to have done some good.
        --Either that, or he's waiting to assassinate me.

Finduilas: [appalled]

        But I don't think so. I do think it was necessary to get through to him,

        I don't know -- it just seems so -- uncivilized.

Orodreth: [wry]
        Unfortunately, civilization requires a good deal of work to keep it so. And
        sometimes the work is rather rough on one. A good deal of suffering and sweat
        goes into creating any worthwhile performance, on a musical instrument, or out
        of a forge, or -- here.

    [shaking his head]

        I had no idea so much of it. It . . . all . . . seemed to take care of itself.
        Now -- I feel like someone building a city out of sand -- no blocks, only mortar
        -- and dry. Grain by grain by grain . . . I don't know how he did it. I'm beginning
        to think he wasn't joking when he said sleep was a waste of time.

Finduilas: [uncomfortably]
        I do wish you wouldn't keep dismissing yourself, Father . . . He wouldn't have
        chosen if you if you weren't capable of doing it well.

        No, it's only that -- the alternative -- was even more unacceptable.

        But . . . I know you thought that there were things that should have been done
        better, or that didn't get done and should have, that you would have if, well--

    [he doesn't say anything, and she looks away]

        That is -- I mean -- you -- I always thought that people ignored you, that you felt
        relegated to the back ranks, overshadowed . . . by . . . him . . .

Orodreth: [sighing]
        Overshadowed? . . . Yes. As one feels overshadowed by a mountain, or by the forest
        itself, and -- never having known or experienced anything else -- cannot even
        conceive of what absence of same would entail. And now . . .

    [shakes his head, runs his hands along the just-signed proclamation]

        And the diplomatic complications . . . I swear I'd no idea there were so many
        different ethnicities in Narog alone, each with their own completely different
        idea of what's fitting and proper! Even in a single village . . . And they don't
        -- that is, mistrust is too strong a word -- but they don't trust me to understand
        what they're getting at or referring to, not without complicated explanations --
        quite correctly, I'm discovering -- and that just leaves so much open to simple
        misinterpretation, and I hardly dare decide anything for fear of offending against
        someone's legitimate claims.

Finduilas: [frowning]
        Is it true that the natives don't really understand what we did for them? That
        they think we're to blame for all the troubles in Beleriand? That's ridiculous,
        isn't it? I mean, obviously we're not.

        Who said that? Her Highness of Doriath?

    [Finduilas nods]

        I'm not sure that I would agree with the Doriathrin interpretation of history
        in all particulars, but the stance is not entirely without validity and the
        concerns worth bearing under consideration.

Finduilas: [wryly]
        Is that a "yes" or a "no"?

Orodreth: [brief real smile]
        Of course.

    [considering look]

        Are you going to invite her to your Gathering tonight?

Finduilas: [blushing]
        I -- I hadn't -- I didn't think she'd wish it.

Orodreth: [pragmatic]
        It's going to look very singular and undiplomatic if you don't. You've invited
        Lord Celebrimbor, haven't you?

        Yes, but he probably won't come.


        It would be so -- awkward -- if she did . . .

        As would not inviting your cousin and seniormost member of the nobility present.

Finduilas: [grimacing]

        I know. Believe me, I know, dear. There are no good decisions, sometimes.

    [silence -- Finduilas moves things about in distracted "tidying" of the desk]

        Are you coming?

        Most unlikely. I feel guilty in advance for taking the time away from this

    [gesturing inclusively of the office mess]

        to eat dinner with you. Whether Her Highness attends or not.

Finduilas: [doubtful, a bit sceptical]
        There isn't really that much work, is there?

        You haven't any idea, child. --I haven't any idea. But I'm starting to.

        Father! You're not going to slide out of it, are you? You promised!

Orodreth: [snapping out of it]
        What? Oh no. Even if you were willing to overlook such abuse of your patience,
        it would be most ungracious to the chefs and disrespectful of their work. This
        isn't going anywhere, and a few hours won't make much difference, I'm afraid.

    [stands up]

        Would you mind putting out the warmer, dear?

    [Finduilas extinguishes the flame under the wax and takes his arm; as they walk into
    the inner rooms of the suite:]

        You'll have to tell me all about your latest composition over dinner; I'm afraid I
        didn't completely understand what you were trying to accomplish with the variations
        in the fourth movement when you described the idea to me last Summer...

SCENE XIII.ii [no dialogue]

    [Huan arrives at the entrance to the Regent's apartments. He goes into the antechamber
    and lies down rather surreptitiously among the raised beds of waterplants, not having
    been noticed by the Aide, who is working in the files with the rather set and diligent
    expression of someone who has been thoroughly dressed-down in very recent memory.]


            --What would the melancholy heart, of peace,
        of quiet, or songs whose sadness is their beauty,
        will may yet forsake, for sake of duty--

    [Luthien's apartments -- Finduilas enters, looking very exasperated, with Huan beside
    her holding her hand carefully in his mouth the way retrievers often like to do.]

        Huan, what's wrong with you? Do you know how -- why do you want to follow me?

    [he lets go, giving a penitent twitch of his tail; to Luthien]

        I was coming to talk to you and he insisted on sticking to me like a burr -- he
        couldn't have been closer if he'd been sewn onto my skirts! And holding my
        hand -- ugh! I can't imagine why.


        One moment, if you please, cousin -- I've got to wash my hands.

    [Luthien looks mildly guilty but says nothing while Finduilas goes into the private
    part of the apartments. Huan wags his tail, grinning]

Luthien: [whisper]
        Thanks -- I didn't think she'd be so hard to find.

    [He wags harder and flops down on the floor next to her. Finduilas returns, still
    shaking her hands reflexively]

Finduilas: [genteelly peevish]
        I don't know what's gotten into him: he's never been clingy like this before.
        I know some dogs who are given to hand-holding, but it's rather different with
        a Hound that size.

Luthien: [innocently]
        Oh. You, um, were coming to find me?

        Yes --

    [she gives Luthien a funny look, finally realizing she's not sitting on a bench or
    chair but perched on the wall, and sits down in a chair herself, smoothing her skirts

        I'm so sorry, but with everything I'd forgotten to mention it to you earlier --
        we're having a little get-together tonight, at Gwin's -- well, actually his father's
        hosting it, but I'm mostly in charge, and -- it occurred to me very belatedly that
        I hadn't remembered to invite you.

    [her tone of voice throughout is distinctly dismissive of it, oh-you-wouldn't-like-it
    designed to discourage interest, and she doesn't look enthusiastic either.]

Luthien: [neutral voice]
        A get-together.

        --Just a small Gathering, some friends of ours and House Guilin. Perhaps some music,
        discussion of theories, nothing very elaborate -- nothing inappropriate, of course--

Luthien: [musing]
        I've not had much heart for music, since my parents broke us up.

Finduilas: [relieved]
        Well, I was pretty sure you wouldn't want to come, but I didn't want to make you
        think we were leaving you out--

    [starting to rise]

        --Who's going to be there? Your father? Anyone else I might know from Doriath?

Finduilas: [sitting down again, wringing the fabric of her dress nervously]
        Well . . . I'm not sure that Father will be able to make it, but . . . there might
        be some people you'd recognize. Mostly friends of Gwin's, from the army, or mine,
        from here . . .

Luthien: [decisive]
        I'll come. It might do me good to get out and talk to people, take my mind off things.

    [Finduilas looks stricken, though covers well]

        Oh! Oh . . . er, of course . . .

        What's the matter? Don't you want me to come? Isn't that why you asked me?

        Well -- please don't take this the wrong way, but -- I can lend you a dress,
        without too much trouble, since you're tall for being Sindar, but we'll have to
        to start now to accomplish anything with your hair.

        What's wrong with my hair?

Finduilas: [apologetic]
        Well . . . it looks like you cut it yourself in the dark. Or without a mirror.


Luthien: [flatly]
        That's exactly what I did. As you know.

        Yes -- but -- it looks it.

    [longer pause]

Luthien: [ice]
        Well, then, we'll match, won't we.

Finduilas: [sighs]
        Please don't be so sensitive about everything. Nobody takes you seriously when
        you're so touchy and, well, messy. It's as if you're trying to attract attention
        and be unpleasant, and that just rubs everyone the wrong way.

    [Luthien glares at her, and Finduilas looks away in discomfort]

Luthien: [aside]
        No one takes me seriously like this, hm?


        Very well. This is your City, I'll do as you would, then.

Finduilas: [dismayed]
        Oh . . . You're sure about this?

        Once I make up my mind about something, I stick with it.

        Er -- yes.


        All right, then, we'd best go and find something for you now.

    [she stands up, and Luthien jumps down from the ledge]

        I've got one outfit that I think would suit you particularly well, and it wouldn't
        point up your haircut the way most of mine will. In fact--

    [she walks towards the door, sounding a bit more enthusiastic]

        I really think that will work well, because it's a style my aunt designed to wear
        her hair braided up with, and if we can just do something with the ends, then--

    [Luthien, not listening, stops and bends down to scratch Huan's nose]

Luthien: [aside to Huan]
        I don't expect you want to come to this. But thank you for finding her for me,
        and providing me moral support. I expect I'll see you later--

Finduilas: [curiously]


    [aside, shaking head]

        --The things one does...


               --"Faithful as a hound," the adage old,
        yet how shall faith be held with faithlessness?
        Of little use to have a form both strong and bold
        when mind and heart are held in such distress--

    [On the terrace in front of the Gates Huan is lying down like a statue of a lion,
    while the sentries give him uneasy looks, wondering what he's doing there and if
    he senses something they can't. A party of hunters rides up from out the woods,
    Celegorm in the lead, and dismount, some of them leading the horses, others carrying
    the game. Celegorm notices his Hound when the rest of the pack goes up to greet him.
    (Needless to say, it's somewhat loud.)]

Celegorm: [unpleasantly surprised]
        What are you doing here? You're supposed to be entertaining the Princess Luthien.
        If you're not going to do that -- you should have been attending me. We could have
        used you, you know.

    [shakes his head]

        Now, you go back to Her Highness' rooms and stay this time, boy.

    [Sadly Huan gets up and walks in with the rest of the party, while the other hounds make
    worried noises when he doesn't respond to them.]


                  --As well might gild the gold day-lily
        or plate with silver the brighter stars of night,
        as render fair yet fairer still by handwork silly
        changing changeless pattern to accustomed sight--

    [The Regent's apartments, Finduilas' rooms -- Luthien is sitting on the bed looking
    rather ironic and put-upon. She is wearing a sumptuous and graceful gown of deep reds
    while Finduilas sits behind her fussing with her hopeless hair. She still holds on to
    her own dress and wrap, rolled up tightly in her hands, however. A jewelry casket is
    open on a small stand nearby.]

        No, of course you can't wear blue, it's Autumn.

        But you're wearing blue.

        Yes, but I'm blonde.

        --Is there someplace in Arda that that makes sense? Because I never heard anything
        like that from Mom.

    [Finduilas laughs]

        Why does everyone think I'm trying to be funny?


        I'm beginning to think I know why Galadriel never stays here very long -- nor Finrod!

        Do you want the gold earrings with garnets, or the red-enameled earrings that
        I made to go with it? They're both quite nice.

Luthien: [trying not to be rude]
        If you made the enamels to match then I guess they'd go best with it, right?

        Well, I think so -- but then you might want to wear real gems, because of your rank.
        Either set has matching hair ornaments, so it doesn't matter.

        Well that's how I feel about it all.

    [she pokes listlessly through the jewelry in the case.]

        Oh -- no, I think I'll wear these.

Finduilas: [looks]
        Oh, no, those won't do.

        Why not? They have matching hair ornaments too, I see--

        But those are for Summer. You can't wear roses right now.

        But they're made of white enamel and gold. How can it matter when you wear them,
        since they don't fade?

Finduilas: [shaking her head in dismay]
        You just can't. It would look so -- odd.

        Well, they're what I'm wearing. Sorry.

        Oh Luthien, please--!

        Nope, nope, it's that or no jewelry at all.

Finduilas: [humoring]
        Oh, very well, as you please.


        --Does everyone in Doriath talk that way?

Luthien: [defensive]
        What way?

        Oh, you know, --your accent.

        I don't have an accent. You lot are the ones with the funny accents, changing
        all the sounds around.

        No, it's you who have changed the language: we spoke it the original way. --And
        those expressions. "Nope," "Yep" and the like?

        Oh, that's North Country Sindarin. I picked those up from Beren. I got into the
        habit of using them to annoy my parents, it was an ideological thing, before I
        tried to run away and got shut up in the tree. --Now I don't even remember I'm
        doing it.


        I've tried to get him to teach me his old language, the one they spoke before
        Finrod taught them Sindarin, but he says there's no point--

        Well, there isn't, really, is there? I mean, it isn't as though there's anyone
        left to speak it with.

        How can you talk so casually about the death of an entire civilization?

Finduilas: [uncomfortable]
        Well -- it isn't the same as if Nargothrond were destroyed, really.

        Oh, don't start that about their culture being all derivative and all -- I don't
        want to hear it this time, either.

    [Finduilas gives her a worried frown]

        You're not going to be like that all night, are you? Will you at least make an
        effort to be sociable and civil?

Luthien: [wry]
        Don't worry. I will be sure to uphold the family honor.

    [Finduilas gets up and goes out of the room to put away the jewel box. Luthien,
    frowning, looks at the rolls of cloth in her hands; after deliberating she briefly
    sets them down on the bedspread, but after a moment's hesitation picks them up again
    and stuffs them up the long sleeves of her gown, not trusting to still be there when
    she gets back.]

Finduilas: [businesslike]
        Now, let's see if I can't make your hair a little more presentable. Perhaps if
        I use the roses to hold down the worst of these tufts . . .

    [Luthien's expression becomes completely glazed as Finduilas gets more enthusiastic.]


        Fleeing ceremony and the affairs of state,
        the princely artist ne'er can 'scape
        the burdens of his blood, duty, nor fate--

    [Luthien's chamber. Celebrimbor is setting a final piece of coving in place around
    the fountain just installed across from the bed, where it can be seen as well as heard.
    Some trouble has been taken to make it fit into the surrounding decoration, which he
    pauses to admire. When Huan comes in behind him he doesn't look around to see who it is.]

        All right, you can turn the water on again, I've got everything connected up--

    [starts when Huan breathes in his ear]

        Oh! It's you. I thought you were one of the guards. --Don't, don't put your nose
        in that, I had to touch in some of the frieze around it and it's still wet in parts.

    [the Hound gives him a reproachful Look and sits]

        Sorry. I'm just so used to people being careless with my things. I guess the
        fact that you're back means my uncle's back as well, eh?

    [Huan thumps the floor with his tail once and whines]

        I suppose that answers my question -- am I going to this wretched affair tonight
        or not?

    [sighs, gets up]

        Well. I'll check this first, then head on over to Gwin's House. What joy.

    [looks at Huan]

        Aren't you coming?

        [whining, lies down]

Celebrimbor: [lifts his hands]
        If her Highness doesn't mind you underfoot, it's no business of mine what you do.

    [looks around at the room again]

        Superb . . . Somehow between "technical and organzational genius" and Orodreth's
        "terrifying warrior goddess" -- "intuitively brilliant artist" seems to have gotten
        overlooked. Not that I imagine she'd give me so much as a "good day" after this . . .


        It's not as if I had anything to do with it, or as if I could have done anything --
        Can you begin to understand what it's like, being the only person in our family with
        even the barest capacity for empathy? It's hellish. Everyone assumes that I approve
        of Grandfather and the rest of the lunatics without even bothering to ask, and even
        my friends who know better are treating me as though first of all I must have known
        in advance, and secondly as though I must benefit from it. And you know what that
        means? Half of them won't speak to me, and the rest are too polite, and I can't
        figure out which of them want me to put in good words for them--

    [short laugh]

        --as if that would help them! -- and which ones are afraid of me now. Oh, the honour
        of belonging to House Feanor -- it's almost more than I can stand.

    [He turns, realizing that someone has entered the chamber and is witnessing his rant]

Guard: [warily]
        My lord?

    [he looks around the room, confirming that no one besides Huan is present]

Celebrimbor: [savagely]

        Er -- you -- you did want the water turned back on, did you not?

Celebrimbor: [haughty]
        As a matter of fact I was on the verge of coming to do it myself. --Should I?

        No, sir, I'll . . . take care of it.

    [he leaves, but can't help checking one last time. Celebrimbor shakes his head
    and laughs bitterly before beginning to put away his tools.]

        You don't know how lucky you are, being a Hound. No conflicts of loyalty,
        no agonizing decisions for you, just to be happy doing a job you love!

    [Huan sighs, putting his head down on his paws]


        --As though no auguries most solemn should presage,
        lightness and pretense hold sway in Nargothrond,
        where all have else forgot their most solemn bond,
        else pretend, penning self-reproach in pleasant cage--

    [Guilin's House apartments. A long solar with a very high ceiling, set with gold
    mosaic -- very bright effects. Luthien is standing next to Finduilas, the ambient
    light and the dark outfit doing nothing for her pallor. Superficially she looks
    like a model of royal dignity and sophistication, but her eyes are suspiciously wide
    and her smile a little too set -- if she wasn't too proud she'd be hiding behind her
    cousin right now or looking for a corner to lurk in. Despite promises, Gwin is scowling
    off by the wines and not mixing at all, or else his expression is keeping everyone at
    bay. The people who have brought instruments are tuning up and/or having an argument
    about it.]

Finduilas: [aside to Luthien]
        --Please don't look like this is such an ordeal -- you wanted to come, after all--

    [to a newly-arrived guest]

        Oh, I'm so glad you're here -- we'll be able to make up the full ensemble, tonight,
        I think. --I don't believe you've had the honor of being introduced to my cousin,
        Princess Luthien of Doriath?

Bard: [startled, belated recognition]
        Oh! Stars, I hadn't realized how tall you were when I saw you at the feast, the
        other night.

Luthien: [baffled]
        Er, yes -- one often is, if one's parents are . . .

    [she waits for some explanation; the Bard is embarrassed realizing the social blunder]

        Quite . . . so . . .

    [Awkward pause]

        I'd best go find out what tuning they've agreed upon. --If you'll excuse me?

    [Luthien turns to Finduilas, frowning.]

        That's the seventh person to make a comment like that. Starting with our host,
        who at least managed not to laugh about it. What is so -- incredibly fascinating,
        not to say amusing, about my height?

        Oh -- Well -- most of the locals aren't anywhere near as tall as we are. It's, er,
        just surprising.

        But why is it so -- humorous?

Finduilas: [whispering]
        You wouldn't -- I'll explain later.

        Explain what?

Finduilas: [trying to shush her]
        Please, I'll tell you later.

Luthien: [edged]
        Tell me why it's funny -- or I'm leaving right now.

Finduilas: [pleading]
        You won't understand--

    [Luthien turns and walks towards the nearest door, which turns out to be a closet.]

Luthien: [not backing down]
        Where's the exit?

        Luthien -- it --

    [gives up]

        Beren -- isn't.

        . . .

        I told you so.

        I don't believe it. I'd ask why but I'm afraid the answer would completely destroy
        any remaining traces of sanity. --Why? My mother's taller than my dad.

        Yes -- but -- so much?

        Well. No. --So what?

        It . . . just . . . looks awfully strange.

        How would you know? You haven't seen us together.

         Cousin, please, I -- I have to go see to my guests--

    [Flees. Luthien glowers, starts to look fierce and dangerously alert instead of wan
    and overwhelmed.]

Luthien: [aside ranting to self]
        Listening isn't working, since no one's saying anything meaningful to me. But how
        to start a conversation without throttling it in the same breath? If I just say,
        "Don't you all realize that the Enemy has put a forgetting spell on you so that
        you can't think about fighting him?" then won't they just forget what I said? I
        swear this feels more like one of Beren's weird stories from Dor-Lomin than anything
        real at all -- if you throw a stone into a certain pool you turn to stone or kill
        a bird and no one recognizes you after -- Like the world, only a little mad. Perhaps
        I've got to become mad myself, to speak to them? That's rather a frightening idea--

    [The lady of House Feanor's following who was so patronizing to Beren sees Luthien alone
    and approaches, interrupting her deliberations]

        So! You're the famous Luthien of Doriath. Your mother really is a goddess, as they say?

Luthien: [brightly]
        Yes, and I'm taller than you. And your consort.

Lady: [checking, at a loss for the next thing to say, her lines having been stolen]
        Ah, yes, I -- I -- I admit to having been rather -- er, surprised, at that.


        --Is that the fashion in Menegroth these days?

Luthien: [manic cheerfulness]
        Yes, it's quite stylish, being tall, though I don't know what we'll do if it goes
        out. --No, I borrowed it from my cousin.

Lady: [struggling to regain composure]
        No -- I meant -- that is to say -- your hair, Princess Luthien.

        You haven't heard? I cut it off to make a cape out of it. And a rope.

        Truthfully? That -- wasn't exaggeration?


        It truly was that long?

Luthien: [shrugs]
        When I finished with it, it was.

Lady: [shaking her head]
        I still can't believe you did that. Everyone thinks it's completely bizarre.

Luthien: [finds this blunt curiosity rather refreshing, smiles not entirely hostilely]
        Well, one does what one must. Sometimes I find it rather unbelievable myself.

        When are you going to grow your hair long again?

        No idea.

        But don't you miss it?

        Very much. But I'm working on getting it back.

    [her interrogator looks confused]

        You wouldn't happen to know who's got it at present? Supposedly I'm being all
        generous in allowing your Sages to study it, but I'm afraid it's gotten shoved
        off and forgotten, and if that's the case I'd really like to have it back.

        Your -- hair?

        The rest of it, yes.

        Oh, your cloak! --No, I'm so sorry but I haven't the faintest idea. I assumed
        it was still in your possession.

    [The way it often happens at parties, now that someone is talking to her, a little
    knot of conversation begins to form around Luthien. Finduilas drags Gwindor over
    as dubious moral support]

A Musician:
        So -- is your mother really one of the Powers?

        A minor Power, yes; she's Maiar, not Valar.

A Courier: [from Gwindor's old outfit]
        But still a goddess, nonetheless. --I find that very difficult to imagine.

        She looks just like anyone else -- well, not just like, there's nobody quite like
        my mother, but -- she isn't really different from any other Elf, except for what
        she can do.

A Sculptor: [dryly]
        And the fact that people become legendarily tongue-tied upon first seeing her --
        even those born in Aman -- and can't explain what it is about her afterwards.

Luthien: [shaking her head]
        Oh, I don't think it was her, I just think it was the awkwardness of the situation
        and the fact that we'd never met them. --And the effort of editing out recent
        events and all, which rather puts a strain on conversation.

Lord: [yes, this is the same chap who was so snide to Beren, joining his wife now]
        Why ever did Melian come to Middle-earth, your Highness? I've always wondered
        about that.

        The same reason as you, pretty much -- to explore, see the world, get out on
        her own.

        Of course, that all is long in the past, now, that she's settled down and devoted
        herself to looking after one small area.

        Doriath isn't small. --But that does seem to happen, doesn't it?

    [pause -- this begins to register on her audience]

        Or are you really wondering why she married my father? I'm getting the impression
        that that's what you're really trying to ask.

        Er -- as a matter of fact, yes.

        Because she fell in love with him, obviously.

        But why would one of the divine Powers marry so far beneath her? And not only
        a mere Elf, but a Dark-elf to boot?

Luthien: [heated]
        My father is not a Dark-elf. My father was one of the three Chosen ones, just
        like your kings. He went to Valinor, with Ingwe and Finwe, he just stayed here
        with my mother instead of going back. He didn't need to go to Aman again.

    [Perhaps in response to her own informal manner, perhaps not, the crowd of guests
    becomes less and less formal and more direct in their interrogations and opinions --
    she is both very much "at bay" and holding her own, for the moment]

        But then why did he choose to reject High-elven culture?

An Archer: [from Gwindor's old company]
        Especially after we saved you all from the Dark Lord and taught you how to fight.

        No, you didn't. You all showed up at the last minute, after we'd been fighting
        for Great Years, and acted like you invented warfare. We watched you relearn
        everything we knew for centuries.

        But if it wasn't for us rescuing you, fortunately before it was too late, you'd
        all have been thralls speaking the Black Speech in Angband long ago. We might not
        have "invented warfare" but we certainly improved upon it. Our weapons and armor
        protected you from invasion, Princess, whether you wish to believe it or not.

Luthien: [getting hotter]
        No, actually, it was Denethor and his people who did that, long before you arrived.
        And then my mother set up the Labyrinth around and made a haven where the Enemy's
        powers can't come, though he keeps trying anyway. And again, that was completely
        without any Noldor help. The Singers didn't have your arms or horses, but they kept
        their pact with my father anyway -- why do you think we gave them complete freedom
        of our realm? They earned it with their blood!

        Oh, I think I'd have heard about that if it were so, your Highness.


Luthien: [shrugs]
        Well, it's like the old saying goes -- "Talks much, listens little." Hard to hear
        when you're making noise, or when you think there's nothing of value to be heard,
        or when everyone around you simply agrees with you.

Sculptor: [aside to Gwindor]
        I think she just insulted all of us.

Gwindor: [dry]
        You don't say.

        This is becoming a disaster.

        You'll note I've refrained from saying -- I said as much.

Finduilas: [sharply]
        Until now.

    [Enter Celebrimbor unobtrusively. He drifts up in the background, nods to Gwindor]

        But don't you think, your Highness, that you ought to show some gratitude for
        all the benefits that we brought you from the West?

        What benefits? All the benefits of Aman that we've got came from my mother,
        before you were even born. All you did was go off and make your own closed
        societies up north and out east and ignore the rest of us, until Morgoth
        trounced you and you had to find people to take you in.

        But if you're going to talk about closed societies, shouldn't you turn your
        mirror upon yourself, first, Highness? After all, it's your House that sealed
        off a quarter of central Beleriand and banned not only us but our very language
        from popular usage.

        That was symbolic--

        It seemed entirely real to myself, at least.

Celebrimbor: [breaking in]
        I always assumed it was a particularly clever way of protecting local cultural
        differences and dialects, myself. Who could argue with a gesture of grief? Far
        more effective than any encouragements or logical arguments to that effect.

        No, it was completely sincere, sir!

Celebrimbor: [placating (but rather lecturing  he can't help it)]
        I didn't mean that it wasn't, my lady, I only meant that there could well be
        more than one reason for a ruler to do something. I know that our cousin for
        instance was quite troubled by the rapid abandonment of native art forms and
        linguistic variations for imported ones, and was quite helpless to do anything
        about it, since any attempts to encourage the, er, retention of older forms were
        regarded with suspicion. Attempts to withhold those benefits of Aman, you know.
        We talked about it on several occasions.

Luthien: [a little doubtful]
        I still don't think you're right, I don't think Dad would do things for ulterior
        motives like that.

        But you yourself talked about how subtle and underhanded his way of getting around
        his promise to you was, Luthien. And then locking you up afterwards.

        That wasn't just an exaggerated rumour, then? Your family really did keep you
        as a prisoner?

        Well, it was house arrest, not a dungeon -- but thirty-odd fathoms of airspace
        is an extremely good barrier to leaving.

        Why did you escape that way? It sounds like utter insanity.

Luthien: [raising her eyebrows]
        What better way would you have recommended?

        But -- your hair? That's just so -- unspeakably peculiar.

Luthien: [shrugs]
        I didn't have anything else. It wasn't like I could have carved steps down the
        trunks without anyone noticing, or, in all likelihood, killing myself. So I just
        thought: what am I best at? --Music; healing; fibre arts; making things grow.
        --What have I got to work with? Not much. But if you can make a bowstring out
        of hair, why not a longer cord? It's sort of like a cape already, it's dark,
        I want to be invisible in the dark -- I just need more. So what do I need? Tools.
        What could be more natural than for me being bored to ask for some harmless
        crafts projects to keep busy with?

    [raises her hands]

        I guess I could have asked for a potted plant, some kind of creeper like flowering
        bindweed, and grown that down to the ground -- but it would have been hard to make
        camouflage out of it. So I just -- made enough of it to go round and made it strong
        enough to work.

Bard: [expert opinion]
        I'm afraid I simply don't see how that's possible. You shouldn't be able to
        change the fundamental nature of anything.

        I could try to explain what I did, but if you're convinced it won't work it
        probably won't make any sense to you. Essentially -- I just channelled every
        comparable thing out there into it, and combined their qualities with my own
        power to, hm, encourage it to imitate them. It wasn't a change so much as an
        -- oh, enhancement.

        Ah, I do understand the "sympathetic principle," your Highness; I'm simply
        unconvinced that so great an -- enhancement -- could be accomplished.

Luthien: [amazed]
        The fact that I did it isn't enough?

        I would never deny that, but I feel certain that some other interpretation of
        the process must be looked for. Quite possibly some conjunction of forces aligned
        between Arda and the nearer stars, occurring simultaneously, might have been
        responsible for the results, do you not think more likely?


        Well, I for one cannot imagine even attempting such a ploy.

Luthien: [nods]
        I suppose I could have asked for a rucksack and camouflage and a compact tent
        and so forth, but that would have been rather obvious, wouldn't it? --Not that
        it wouldn't have been more comfortable, but I can't imagine no one would have
        commented on it. Besides, I'd have had to ask for rope to get down with, and
        none of that would have solved the problem of what to do about the sentries.

        But weren't you frightened? A bowstring is one thing, but a lifeline!

        More like terrified out of my mind. But I'd done all the calculations, and it
        should have been strong enough for the tension.

        But what if you'd been wrong?

Luthien: [shrugs]
        Then we wouldn't be having this conversation, would we?

    [the meaning of this occasions some rather dismayed looks, when it sinks in]

Archer: [admiring]
        I say, you're fabulously brave, Princess Luthien -- no wonder the Enemy's never
        been able to conquer Doriath, if you're typical of its people!

        Hm -- they wouldn't say I was typical, because they think I'm a complete lunatic.
        And I didn't feel very brave.

        Well, we could have done with more of your sort of "terrified" in the Leaguer,
        without a doubt.

        Oh, were you at Serech too? Did you know Beren's family?

    [extreme embarrassment all around, especially among the veterans]

        No -- that is -- not at the Fen, but -- I -- I did know the Beorings, of course,
        from the siege, and -- over the years, you know, here -- and at our other forts.

        You were stationed at the Fortress?

    [awkward looks]

        We were there -- sometimes. Rotation.

        Were you there at the end?

Finduilas: [hissed]

Luthien: [ignoring her]
        I understand that the Fortress was abandoned intact. Wouldn't that mean that
        the defenses would be the same as when you left them -- so they'd be more
        vulnerable to you, since you know their strengths and weaknesses?

        That -- would only be the case if the Enemy hasn't made changes. It's far from
        a safe assumption that he hasn't, your Highness.

        Couldn't you tell?

        Well, by that time, it would be too late.

        I don't mean when you're actually fighting there. I mean spying on their
        headquarters over the years.

        I'm afraid there haven't been any definitive reports since we were forced
        to retreat--

        --You haven't kept it under observation?

Courier: [even more patronizing]
        The entire region is under the Enemy's control--

Luthien: [annoyed]
        --Yes, I know--

Courier: [less superior, more defensive]
        I meant, your Highness, that it's too dangerous to try to infiltrate. It would
        just be wasting lives. We've concentrated on a strong front line of defense to
        prevent further encroachment.

    [she frowns]

        I don't understand why they left the bridge and the gates intact, if nothing
        else. I know that the ones we use are wood, but still, can't you pull down
        stonework with enough horses? Or dig under it, or something?

        You weren't there, your Highness. There was -- wasn't time for that.

Celebrimbor: [curious]
        What about the Master Word? Or was there not one used there? And hence it
        left standing? That would explain why no counterattack was ever mounted.

    [uncomfortable silence]

Gwindor: [embarrassed & rushed]
        Anyhow that would have been the first thing to have been changed.

        But still, even if they have changed things about the defenses, they can't have
        changed all, right? There must be posterns, or, or, ledges in the rock that you
        know about, or what about for the water to go through? Aren't there conduits going
        into the castle from underground? You wouldn't want to have to go out for water
        while under attack. Wouldn't it be easier to make a culvert under the surface
        than try to drill down farther for a well?

    [more silence]

        I mean, I know I don't really know what I'm talking about, but I'm trying to look
        at it rationally. It almost seems as if you've got this idea of Sauron as invincible
        and of the castle as impenetrable, and so you're not even able to think of ways
        around it.

Finduilas: [undertone, grabbing her arm and very severely]
        Luthien. This is hardly the proper time nor place to bring that up.

        Well, if I'd ever been able to talk to your father today, I would have asked
        him instead.

Finduilas: [outraged]
        Holy Stars! Have you no sense of propriety whatsoever? Don't you dare persecute
        him about the Fortress, he doesn't need any more stress and that's the most
        tactless thing you could say or do--

Gwindor: [tersely]
        --Faelivrin. Stop making a scene. You're behaving worse than anyone right now.

        Do not tell me what to do--!

        Instead of fighting with each other, shouldn't we be fighting with the Enemy?
        Is there anyone here who disagrees with that?

    [turns, holding out her hands]

        Surely all of us, together, cannot be daunted so easily? Don't tell me that
        the best and brightest of Nargothrond can't with all the resources here manage
        to overcome the confusion of your leaderless state and recover our people --
        and the advantage in the War! -- by concerted effort?

Musician: [blurting it out & instantly regretting it]
        But they wouldn't be allowed back in any case.

Luthien: [whirls]
        What do you mean?

    [everyone tries to avoid looking at her -- or each other, which complicates things]

Guilin: [finally]
        No one taken by the forces of Morgoth is permitted to return to any of our
        Cities, Highness.

        Why ever not?

        Well -- of course -- the Enemy's power -- to permanently turn people into agents
        of his side --


        Surely even you in Doriath know about that --

        We've heard about it, yes -- but what barbaric custom is this, and when did it start?

        Not custom, Highness, but the Law -- yet one more consequence of the War, made
        in response to unhappy discoveries too often repeated.

        But he's your ruler!

        Not even Kings may be above their own decrees -- among our Kindred, at least.

Luthien: [horrified]
        You mean Finrod wouldn't let prisoners-of-war come back?

Celebrimbor: [grave]
        He had to; he had no choice.

    [she gives him a severe Look]

        --No legitimate choice, being ruler. Personal liking or distaste come not into it,
        my lady, -- only the good of all.


        That's terrible.

        War is terrible. But the rest of us do not have the advantage of an impenetrable
        barrier surrounding our domains.

    [Luthien puts her hands to her temples, shaking her head]

        --But what about your uncle?

        --My uncle?

        Yes, Maglor, the one who was captured and had his hand cut off.

        That wasn't Maglor, that was Maedhros--

        And he wasn't maimed by the Enemy -- it was during the res--

Luthien: [agitated]
        --That -- that isn't important, none of it, it -- that -- but he was caught
        and kept in Angband for months, right? That was the story we heard. You said
        none of you allowed prisoners to come back to your holdings.

        He -- he wasn't brainwashed, only punished.

        How do you know?

        He -- couldn't have been. You would realize that if you met him.

        You don't know that, though, for certain, if the only way you've found out before
        is when they turn out to be working for the Enemy, and that's why you've had to
        make a preemptive decision. You're just hoping you're right.

        But he's -- he was the High King, and the head of our House.

    [Luthien raises an eyebrow, says nothing]

        You don't understand--

Luthien: [fierce]
        What don't I understand? Explain it to me. Explain why you're willing to hide
        behind this rule of yours to justify not trying to save your own King, your own
        family and friends, and pretend that they don't exist any more! My cause is
        personal, nothing to do with my country's good one way or the other, but yours
        is both. Do you really believe that it's the better course, that it's even
        permissible -- not just for you, but for Finrod, to leave Nogrod leaderless,
        I can't believe that anyone would seriously think that, law or no law.


        Nothing is that simple, your Highness--

        You all seem to think it is. So tell me.

Finduilas: [answering almost in spite of herself]
        It isn't that -- easy, you've no idea, you're not Noldor, you can't understand
        it and you don't want to--

        Because your father wants the throne for himself? I've heard that rumour.

        No! That's not--

    [breaks off]

        I doubted it rather, myself. What then? You're afraid of going to war again,
        and you've deluded yourselves into thinking that you can hide from it altogether
        here? We can't even do that in Doriath.

Lord: [stiffly]
        No one who's spent her entire life hiding behind a maze should put the name of
        coward to another.

Gwindor: [half-aside, ironic]
        Not entire.

        I want to know -- Who's in charge here?

Bard: [wildly]
        You can't ask that, Your Highness--

        Why not?

Celebrimbor: [into resulting silence]
        Because then they'd have to answer.

Guilin: [severe]
        My lord, that is unseemly -- such mockery is unfitting the times--

    [Celebrimbor bows, doesn't say anything]

Luthien: [fierce]
        What, sir, would better fit these times? You hold the rank of Counsellor -- what
        counsel of rescue have you given, what cunning plans to save your dear lord and
        mine are underway, what forces of arms are readied, what spies sent forth to get
        the lie of the Enemy's lands before setting forth?

        Highness, it is only to be expected that your ideallism and inexperience would
        make simple all matters of state--

Luthien: [with a cutting gesture of her hand]
        None. I know. I've guessed it.

    [she wheels, looking around at them all.]

Finduilas: [pleading]
        . . . Cousin . . .

Luthien: [voice shaking but not weak]
        --There is a darkness that fills this City for all the brightness of your
        illuminations and no torch, no lamp, no flame you can light will serve to brighten
        it while your Sun is gone from here -- you stay underground, where Elves were never
        made to stay, and the cloud of our Enemy's will darkens your minds without wind and
        light to disperse it, and you paint the sacred stars on your ceilings but you can't
        hear them, you're deaf and blind because Finrod was your vision, your senses, and
        without him you're lost -- can't you see it, can't you break free for an instant
        and think, act, do what has to be done?!

    [she pauses for breath, panting, and waits for response. No one will meet her eyes.]

        --Doomed. All of us.

    [looks around, with an expression of extreme concentration, remembers and fixes on one
    of the doors to the outside halls. Curtseying to Lord Guilin, but without any polite
    words of excuse, Luthien turns and sweeps out of the apartments. The strained silence

Gwindor: [awkwardly, aside to Finduilas]
        Should I go after her?

Finduilas: [tightly]
        --And then what? You won't get any thanks from her more than I have. Don't worry --
        she'll just press someone into guiding her around again.

    [tossing her head with an exasperated noise]

        I knew it was a mistake from the beginning. It's all very well for my father to talk,
        when all he does is hide from her.

        What's worse -- empty gestures, or nothing at all?

Celebrimbor: [ironic]
        Or deception and interference -- surely worse than either, wouldn't you say?

    [Gwindor's expression locks down]

        Well, if I can't say it, who can?

Guilin: [low voice]
        My lord, it would probably be for the best were you to depart now.

Celebrimbor: [not angry]
        At once, sir, but I can do better than that: I'll remove hence with any of
        our people that are present and leave you in such peace as remains -- though,
        regrettably, nothing but a most limited removal. Gwin, I expect I'll see you at
        the pels?

    [Gwindor nods stiffly]

        Until then. My lords -- my lady --

    [bows to the three of them. To the guests:]

        Gentles of my House, let us retire to our own devices, and not burden our hosts'
        graciousness further this evening. --Though phrased as a request, you'll note that
        was not a suggestion. I'd rather not be obliged to imitate my seniors' style, but
        if I must, I certainly shall. --Shall we?

    [gesturing to the assembled visitors, gathering up the ones from the following of
    Feanor. Over his shoulder:]

            By the by, you do realize that Her Highness is entirely correct --? We are,
            in fact, all Doomed.

    [The remaining company react silently to this parting shot in a frozen tableau.]


        --Conspiracy's full measure, half-unveiled,
        hath yet to be revealed; yet now assailed,
        shall out, to light -- yet to what avail?

    [Luthien is going quickly down a long spiral case, not stairs, but a very wide
    shallow ramp with an ornate railing that opens onto each floor.]

        I know we came up this way, and it was three -- no four -- no it was three
        floors up, so that means this next one will be the landing, and then I'll just
        find another side door and hang on to Orodreth like a burr until he gives in.

    [goes into the hallway - but it's a circular gallery, going around the width
    of the spiral]

        This isn't right -- but I know I counted it right -- this is lke the Labyrinth
    at home, it doesn't make sense, I don't believe it -- Oh -- Maps!

    [The walls are painted with huge fully-rendered terrain shots in realistic color,
    divided by ornamental borders and with the lettering artistically integrated into
    the topography.]

        Seven rivers -- that's got to be Ossiriand -- yep, there's the name, so that's
        Amon Ereb, and that's Aros, and there's Esgalduin -- Oh, that has to be Hirilorn!
        Star and water, that's a lot of detail -- so where did I come?

    [she starts walking slowly around the perimeter, looking at the maps]

        Ah, right, there's Amon Rudh. So south from that . . . And that has to be the
        Gates -- Here we are -- unfortunately! so somewhere in here's where I was caught.
        I knew it was a long way, but it looks much longer here. So how far is it to
        the Fortress?

    [steps back to look up]



        I hope this is not to scale.

    [looks around]

        Perhaps there's a more accurate one . . . ?

    [moves a little farther around the curve]

        That doesn't look so bad . . . Oh. That's got to be the ocean. I guess it is
        to scale after all.

    [runs her hands over her face -- when she looks up realizes that there are other
    people in the gallery as well.]

        I'm sorry -- I didn't mean to disturb you, I didn't know there was anyone here.
        I was looking for the Regent's quarters, but I think I got off on the wrong

    [The others don't say anything. They look surprised and worried, at first, before
    recognizing her. The conspiratorial group consists of the Sage who tried to accost
    Luthien earlier in the Hall of Hours, and her companions there: a Scribe, the Royal
    Guard who refused to go, and likewise a Ranger.]

        I beg your pardon. Is something the matter?

Guard: [bowing formally]
        Your Highness.

Sage: [not at all formal]
        --Is something the matter, she asks! How nice to be so carefree as to be able
        to enjoy one's self at festive gatherings!

        What are you talking about?

Sage: [caustic]
        Of course, what else should one expect, from someone who thinks so highly of
        herself as to demand a Silmaril for her dowry!

        What?! I never asked for the cursed thing -- I had nothing to do with that!

Sage: [gesturing disdainfully at Luthien's dress]
        Of course not. You never sent anyone on a fatal quest, never started up the
        Curse again, never blithely accepted the ill-gotten gifts from those hands
        your thoughtlessness played into, forgetting the people you've destroyed by
        it -- oh no--!

        What are you talking about? I came here to get help for Beren, and I'm still
        trying to get the help I was promised, and some kind of interference from
        the Enemy seems to be stopping the people in charge from actually doing anything.

Scribe: [astounded]
        You really don'tknow?

Luthien: [exasperated, runs her hand through her hair, scattering pins and jewels]
        How do I know? What is it that I'm supposed to know?

        She doesn't. She's no idea.

    [flings up her hands]

Luthien: [tight smile]
        "She" is also losing her temper.

        You really pretend that you've no idea of the devastation you've caused, that
        you're really that naive as to believe everything you're told? That you've no
        notion whatsoever of the catastrophe you and your mortal boy have brought to
        our realm?

        Did I ever say I believe "everything" I'm told? You're the first people willing
        to do anything besides offer me platitudes and meaningless comforts -- but if all
        you're going to do is make cutting-yet-incomprehensible remarks and melodramatic
        gestures, I really haven't the time to waste.

    [turns to go]

        Princess Luthien!

    [she looks back over her shoulder]

        You said you knew it when the Beoring was captured.

    [Luthien nods, her expression closed. Tautly:]

        --What's happened to them?

        I don't know. I can't scry, I'm not a Seer, I only know that Sauron has Beren
        because my mother said so, and how she knew that I don't know, and all I knew was
        that I felt like I've been told being shot feels like, that I was suddenly more
        frightened than before the First Battle, and it wouldn't go away.

    [looks at them for a long moment]

        --You know them. They're your family, your friends, your loved ones and what
        are you doing here instead of moving all Ea to help me get a task force out
        and underway--

    [whirling and stalking down on them as her voice rises]

        What, for Nienna's sake, do you know that you're not telling me? How can I work
        with nothing but lies and silence to spin?

    [They stare back at her, guiltily. The Sage looks away, as does the Guard]

Scribe: [whispering]
        Your Highness--

Luthien: [through clenched teeth]
        Tell. Me.

Sage: [savagely]
        Civil war, that's what. Your fiance started the trouble with your insane demand.

    [the Guard starts to say something and stops]

        Not mine, my father's, and this does not look like a place that's seen fighting,
        so what are you talking about?

        The sons of Feanor threatened it. And the King's honor wouldn't let him back out
        of this damned quest of yours. And so, thanks to you, those wretches have taken
        everything that King Felagund made and we've lost the best of our champions to
        your selfishness.

Luthien: [icy]
        There's more, isn't there? Why didn't you put a stop to it? This is your City,
        your Kingdom, and you just let them take it away from you? They're two Elves,
        even if they are great warriors -- what can two do against thousands?

        They invoked the Oath.

        Oh yes, the famous Oath. The one that makes any means justifiable. So what?
        Let them. Then lock them up.

Guard: [desperately]
        You don't un--

    [stops at her Look]

        They have a large number of supporters here, and -- there's already been one
        Kinslaying, your Highness.

        Then if you're not of that number -- what are you still doing here? If you're on
        Finrod's side, why aren't you with him? Where are the rest of you -- there must
        be others -- and why didn't you go too?

        To Angband . . . ?

    [trails off]

Luthien: [snorting]
        And yet -- you'll blame me, blame Beren, blame your King, blame your friends --
        all before you blame those whose fault it is -- my bloody-minded cousins -- and


Sage: [quietly]
        You don't seem at all surprised.

        Surprised? At being betrayed and waylaid by my relatives? What in Arda's surprising
        about that? --Or that the sons of Feanor are just as bad as ever the rumours painted
        them way back when? Not that either.

    [narrowing her eyes]

        --So I take it that means it isn't, in fact, a public service on my part and an
        act of gratitude that I allow you tech people to keep my cloak.

Sage: [checking in surprise]
        We don't have it.

        Who's got it, if you're not working on it?

        Lord Curufin. That's what my cousin, who's married to one of their Healers, said.
        No one can handle it, you know. They've given up trying to figure out how it
        works: whenever anyone touches it it makes them all sleepy and stupid.

        Stupider, you mean. How can they think to rule a country they neither know nor
        care anything about? A throne's more than a fancy chair, to put here or there
        or forget about when you've something else to amuse yourself with. All they've
        done is destroy Finrod's power; they've done nothing to consolidate their own.

        On the contrary -- your Highness -- I would say that they have succeeded quite
        well at that.

        No, they've not. It's only that no one cares enough to do anything about them,
        because you're all insane.

        No, you don't understand the circumstances--

Luthien: [tossing her head]
        Yes, so everyone keeps saying. I suppose I could have said, "because you're all
        cowards," but that would have been redundant.

Guard: [angry]
        Your Highness, that word is unacceptable--

        But true--

Sage: [impatiently]
        Quiet. The fact remains, Princess Luthien, that you are here, and the lords of
        Aglon-and-Himlad are here, and they are in power and you are not, and rumor has
        it they mean to use you as a pawn against your father, and what are you going
        to do about it?

        Go find Beren.

        How? By yourself?

        If I must. Which increasingly seems to be the case.

        You'll be killed. Or captured.


        Not possibly -- certainly.

        Then your Foresight's better than mine. I'm only mostly sure it's hopeless.
        But I'm still going to try.

    [she glares at them one by one]

        Or you could come with me. We would have a better chance that way, right? It
        would be less hopeless. You--

    [to the Sage]

        --could get me my cape, and I could hide our activites from observation,
        the Enemy's -- and the enemies', and --

    [to the Scribe]
        you can get hold of the plans of the Fortress and any information in the archives
        about Sauron, about his weaknesses and whatever else might be relevant, while you
        two can get us gear and provisions and horses, and make yourselves useful if we end
        up having to fight. Though I hope we don't. I'm thinking I could disguise myself
        as a slave -- everyone keeps telling me I look like one as it is -- and sneak inside,
        but we really, really need good maps for that--

Ranger: [shaking his head in dismay]
        Your Highness -- you can't -- seriously mean to go against the Abhorred One and
        his wolves by yourself.

        If you come with me then it won't be by myself, will it?

        But if -- if even His Majesty couldn't do it -- what chance have any of us?

        Then at least we will have failed trying to accomplish something. Can you live
        with yourself, not having done that? --I can't.


Sage: [slowly]
        If we meet you at your apartments it will be obvious that something is afoot and
        we will be prevented.

        Where's a better place for it? Here? I can wait here.

        No, someone could come through at any time. That's why we come here, because
        it can look like a chance encounter on the causeway.

        Somewhere near an outside door? Then we would be right there to go at once.

Scribe: [shaking head]
        That would be too obvious.

        Well, it can't be anywhere too far, because I'll get lost and have to ask
        directions. --Which would be rather unhelpful.

        What about the Hall of Morning? It would be very hard to get lost going there,
        and no one will be there for almost two bells.

        Ah. That's a good idea. An excellent idea.

        ? ? ?

        It's right at the very top of the ramp. The gallery ceiling is a system of
        prisms and reflectors so that sunlight from the hills over us comes down
        through the crystals and illuminates the chambers. There's nothing to see
        at night, though, so it's deserted.

        Very well. But be quick about it. We need as much time as possible, so that
        we can make as much time as we can before we're discovered. I don't know how
        well I'l be able to conceal us in broad daylight.

        Are you certain you'll be able to extend the working to all of us?

        Yes. --Well, reasonably certain.

        That does not inspire much confidence, your Highness.

Luthien: [shrugs]
        I'm sorry for being so honest. Subterfuge doesn't come naturally to me, I have
        to work hard at it. Would you rather I tricked you into helping me? I'll try
        that, if you'd prefer.

Sage: [shaking her head]
        I confess you're far from what I'd expected.

        My parents would undoubtedly agree with you there.

    [giving them all a stern Look]

        Do not fail us. I will be waiting for you.

    [the conspirators part ways, leaving the Hall of Maps, some down the ramp,
    some up -- Luthien continues upwards to the top story]

SCENE XX.i [no dialogue]

    [Luthien's apartments. Huan gets up from beside the bed with the impatient heave
    of a bored dog and starts to go down the hallway, but stops in the solar and whines
    in distress, furrowing his brows, and circles around the room. He moves towards the
    outer door again, but can't bring himself to disobey and flops down in front of the
    fireplace, ears drooping, to wait for her.]


                            --Hope doth flame brightly, yet
        absent further fuel, like straw outburneth swift, to let
        dark despair return, as the sun forever shall be set--

    [The Hall of Morning. It's very dim -- only a bit of discreet artificial illumination,
    with some scattered white light coming through the prisms overhead from the not-quite-
    full moon. Luthien is pacing, arms tightly folded around her, but stops as the camera
    nears and sits down heavily on a bench with a tense expression.]

Luthien: [decidedly, gloomy]
        --Not coming.

    [she shivers]

        That leaves me one option. Of course that only makes it more hopeless than
        before . . . But then, that isn't really so, is it? It always was hopeless --
        I was just wrong about it. As usual.

    [shivers again, rubbing her arms]

        Well, if I can't get my cape back, I can take whatever I need in exchange. It's
        worth at least a horse and some heavy clothes, I should think.

        [shaking her head]

        By rights I could take anything I wanted, for the purpose of rescue, but I've no
        idea what besides my cape would help. --Well, Finduilas' dress won't, that's for

    [Starts to pull hers out of the sleeves, but stops when she hears something
    outside. Stands up at once, looking alert]

        No, I really don't think we should send to any of the others until it's all --

    [breaks off]

        --Who's there?

        I am.

    [The sons of Feanor come the rest of the way around the curve of the ramp and stop
    when they see her, very surprised]

Curufin: [surreptitiously taking his hand off of his knife]
        Your Highness? What are you doing here all alone in the dark?

        Are you lost?

Luthien: [hiding her disappointment]
        Thinking, my lords. I like to do that, sometimes, up high. --One might ask
        the same of you--?

Celegorm: [ignoring her question]
        I'm glad to see you've taken my advice and gotten some decent clothes for yourself.
        Much better.

        There was an affair tonight that Finduilas talked me into going to. Hence all this.

        Well, good for you! Good to get out and enjoy yourself.

    [looks around for anyone else]

        --But surely they didn't throw you out, what?

        No -- there were too many people there and it got rather overwhelming.

        Was my son there, did you notice?

        He was still there when I left, but I've no idea if he's there now, my lord.


        My lord, I've been looking to ask you for -- for a long time, now: do you know
        when I will be able to get my cape back?

    [Throughout the following exchanges she watches them both closely for any sign of guile]

Curufin: [shrugging apologetically]
        I'm afraid it's rather out of my hands at the moment, though I assure you I'll
        certainly check on the progress of the researchers for you. --But you don't really
        need it, anyway, correct?

        Whether I need it or not is irrelevant: it's mine.

Curufin: [carefully, as to a child]
        I don't believe that anyone has challenged that, your Highness.

        But no one seems to know who's got it, or where it is, and it's extremely valuable
        to me, at least.

        Nargothrond is a very large place, with a great number of people in it.

        So I have noticed. How is that relevant?

        I meant, my lady, that these things take time.


    [glances around, worried and torn]

        Well, my lords, I suppose you would prefer to have the peace and quiet to
        yourselves, for your own conversation, so I'll bid you good evening and
        return to my own apartments now.

        Oh no, you can't go gettin' lost again -- we'll take you that way and make
        sure you're home safely.

Luthien: [defensive]
        I'm not lost, I just don't know where everything is. --No one's ever taken me
        through it all and explained how it connects up, or drawn out maps for me. I
        remember some of the plans that Finrod showed us, but those weren't complete
        and changes have been made since then.

        A lamentable oversight, I'm sure -- one of our people would be able to remember
        it all from the first, and so we forget that it might not be that easy for an
        outsider, and fail in our duty.

Luthien: [aside]
        What a backhanded insult!


        But I don't want to be an inconvenience to you . . .

        Not at all, my lady.


Luthien: [doubtfully]
        Well, if it isn't any trouble--

        Good! That's settled.

    [takes her arm and leads her down the circular causeway]

        Impressive place, what? But you need to see it properly in the morning. Perhaps
        you'd like to come up and see it tomorrow?

    [Curufin looks around suspiciously one more time to make sure no one else is about]

Curufin: [catching up to them]
        Of course it's nothing to compare with Formenos, but for Middle-earth Nargothrond
        isn't bad at all. --Not that it couldn't stand improvement.

        That's true of most things, though, isn't it?


        And this is one that could have gone far worse. There's still a chance.

        So would you be so kind as to show me how the layout of the City goes? And
        perhaps I'll even be able to remember it, with your capable instruction? Then
        I'll be able to feel a bit more at home here.

        Well, this, right here's the southernmost vertical shaft that goes all the way
        through all the levels--

        No, there's one more farther south than this, you're forgetting about.

        But that's only an air-shaft, Cur, not a proper access . . .

    [they go out of sight, the sons of Feanor correcting each other. No one arrives
    to rendezvous with Luthien as the scene fades to darkness]


        Small waves and winds may mark a passing gust, soon oe'r;
        --or signify the coming of a gale-wind's flood and roar--

    [The Regent's office. Orodreth is standing with hands clasped behind his back, listening
    to Gwindor, and looking at a painting over the fireplace showing a seascape with sunset
    castle (which is probably Barad Nimras, not imaginary view. )]

        So she knows.

        I'm afraid so, sir.

        Well. In a way, it's a relief, I must confess. --Do you know what she means to do?

        I -- couldn't say.

        I'm not asking you to betray any confidences.

        Truly, sir, I don't. I -- my guess is that she would take independent action,
        again. But I don't think it would be feasible, because of their orders, and their
        partisans among the Guard--


        --unless you were to intervene, sir.

        You know I can't do that.

Gwindor: [lightly]
        You know, this time they didn't even have to raise a hand to profit by others' work.
        Well, if guile and coercion are what it takes to rule, along with ruthlessness, then
        they're as fit to be sovereigns as the Enemy himself.

    [Orodreth gives him a sidelong glance, and he reddens]

        Sorry, sir -- I meant no disrespect.

        You did. But that's all right.


        Whatever one may truly say about a somewhat casual and proprietary attitude evinced
        towards their own followers, it's true that during the chaos of the battle their
        primary concern was to effect the safe retreat of the greatest number of their people,
        with little regard for the salvage of property and possession.


        --Of course if your attitude towards property is that you can always acquire
        more of it from someone else, so long as you have a sword, then that isn't
        perhaps so creditable after all...

    [turns to face Gwindor]

        Stay attentive. Let me know what you hear, both what's reported and -- what isn't.

        Yes, my lord. --There's far more of the latter than the former, I'm afraid.

        Do your best. It isn't your fault that you're resented -- I had to put someone
        in charge, Gwin, and I'm sorry it was you.

        It isn't that, sir -- not only that. It's also that there are things I don't know
        to ask, or that I'm expected to understand, that Intelligence doesn't even think
        to tell me because I should already know. --Quite apart from the fact that no one
        trusts anyone else these days.

Orodreth: [grim smile]
        How can they, when we cannot even trust ourselves?

    [Gwindor bows and leaves, wearing a frown pretty much permanent now]


        Masking disappointment with cheerful mien,
        Tinuviel pursues gleam of hope half-seen.

    [The Great Solar. Luthien -- back to her usual outfit -- comes in with Huan, to
    the not-surprising lull in conversation. Although she has the red gown folded up
    in a parcel in her hands, she keeps glancing around even after she's spotted
    Finduilas, playing with a couple of other luthenists. No luck, however -- though
    there is a suspicious flurry by one of the farther doors, as if someone has just
    dashed out upon spotting her.]

Luthien: [brightly]
        Here's your dress, cousin. Thank you for the loan. Oh, and I clipped all the
        hair ornaments I could find into the neck of the shift. I'm afraid some of
        them must have come out.

Finduilas: [wary]
        Just -- put it there, please. On that hassock.


        You could have had someone bring it to our House, you know.

        Oh. You're right, I could have. Should I do that instead?

Finduilas: [rolling her eyes]
        It doesn't matter now. Just -- just leave it there, I'll take care of it.


        I can't believe you didn't wear the shoes.

        They didn't fit.

        And you didn't say anything?

Luthien: [shrugs]
        It didn't matter, with a floor length skirt. --Besides, then I'd have been even taller.

    [another pause, awkward for Finduilas at least, expectant for Luthien]

Finduilas: [finally]
        Where are you going?

        Just right here, by that clock thing.

        It isn't working -- he's got it apart again.

Luthien: [bland]
        Oh, is that why he's got all those bits of crystal and wire on the floor around
        it? --Come on, milord, let's go thank Lord Celebrimbor for the fountain.

    [She tugs Huan's collar and they cross over to the Chronometer; Finduilas,
    chagrinned, tries to ignore her, but keeps on paying attention even while she's
    playing. Luthien & Huan come up and sit beside Celebrimbor, flanking him -- he
    looks up and gives her a questioning look but doesn't open conversation]

Luthien: [low conversational tone]
        Thank you for setting that up for me. It's helped. If I said that I thought
        I was being followed today, what would you say to that?

        That you were being paranoid--

    [her expression darkens]

        --but not necessarily incorrect.

    [Luthien nods slowly]

        I don't suppose you can tell me who. Or why.

Celebrimbor: [scanning the crowd, shakes his head]
        --Too many possibilities.

    [she looks disappointed but not surprised]

        I need to ask you something -- about last night. This one you can answer.

    [Celebrimbor nods warily in encouragement]

        What did you mean by a "master-word"? Is it like a key? Something to close or
        open the gates?

        The Master Word . . . it's not a "word" of course, but a Word in the larger
        sense, a saying of power and binding words -- or rather, in this case, of
        unbinding. A key, all right, but not merely to the gates of a place. I've
        never seen one used -- never actually heard of one being employed, save in
        miniature for experimentation, but -- in theory -- it works by reversal,
        taking the energies of place that are trapped within each stone, indeed any
        object raised up and set in place, and using that very power to force the
        stones and structural elements apart . . .

    [rapt in speculative imagination]

        It should -- as I was taught -- unbind every stone one from the other, in the
        order of their setting, last to first, so that the structure is unfolded,
        outwards, opening slowly like an enormous flower, like a rose or a water lily,
        or more like a snowfall, perhaps, if a snowfall were like a fountain of stone
        . . . I'd love to see it, it would be spectacular beyond description.
        --But a great waste and a shame, of course.

    [this last does not sound quite as sincere as what preceded it]

        Is there a Master Word for Nargothrond?

Celebrimbor: [understanding perfectly what she's getting at]
        Not that way. Nargothrond is built upon a natural system of caverns, not built up
        lfrom the ground. Maker's Words would have been used -- indeed, are, as work still
        goes on -- to aid in the process, but it is principally cosmetic, or at least not
        integral, to the city's foundation.

        But not all of it is carved in one piece: I know that there are hallways that are
        not at all natural, and which aren't merely facings. Even the gate pillars are
        partly added to the living rock.

Celebrimbor: [shaking head, not unsympathetically]
        It wouldn't work. The Gates are their own Working entirely. All that invoking
        a Maker's Word here would accomplish would be massive destruction and damage,
        but no outside access, I'm almost entirely certain.

        Maker's Words -- but what about the Master Word?

        Even if there was one, and even if you had it, you couldn't use it. It would
        require an almost unimaginable amount of power to enforce it. It isn't a matter
        of merely invoking it, but of Unworking, -- you don't have to understand how it
        works, according to the theory, but you have to will it, without any hesitation
        or distraction, and it does help to know what you're doing as well. I would be
        very reluctant to attempt such a thing, on such a scale.

        But the Master Word would open the Gates as well? It opens everything within
        its compass, you said. And if it took infinite power to wield it, there would be
        no point to it, would there, so while it shouldn't be easy, for obvious reasons,
        it shouldn't be impossible either . . . ?

        Yes. But it's no good. Assuming that there is one, because this was never intended
        to be a garrison at all, only two people would know it, so far as I know, and I'm
        neither of them. Not that either of us two would ever countenance such a deed,
        of course . . .

        Who? Finrod of course, and . . . Orodreth? Being Regent?

        So indeed would I assume.

    [Finduilas, catching the relevant word in the conversation, sets her lute down
    and comes over]

Luthien: [intense]
       I need to get out of here.

        --What about my father?

Luthien: [innocent]
        I was just remarking that he's the Regent.

        Everybody knows. People are going to think you really are crazy, Luthien.

Luthien: [raises her hands]
        It isn't as though I can do anything about that.

    [gets up]

        What are you doing now?

Luthien: [mildly]
        Going for a walk along the ways Lord Curufin and his brother mapped out for me
        so that I don't get lost again. Hopefully. But I've got Huan, so I can just
        follow him back if I do.

    [To Celebrimbor, who is frowning over some of the Chronometer's figures]

        --Don't worry about getting it exactly right and finishing it. It's more like
        the world if you don't.

    [she drifts off again, followed by the Hound. Celebrimbor frowns]

        How did she know that was what I was thinking? I never mentioned the design
        to her at all.

Finduilas: [shaking her head]
        Well. Mortals say madness and prophecy go together. Perhaps it's true.

    [they look at each other, both daring the other to say something about prior events.
    Both decline, however]


        --Striving to ordain in plots and scheming dark,
        both strong and subtle eke shall miss their mark--

    [The royal apartments -- Celegorm is trying out several different bows and equipment
    cases. Curufin is reading.]

Celegorm: [dissatisfied]
        Eh, I think I like my own better. This one's too long, this one's not springy enough,
        and the grip's all wrong for me on the other one. Which is a real pity, because it's
        got a simply beautiful case -- but it wouldn't do to break up the set. --Maybe I'll
        keep the quiver though; I really do like the closures on it, and it hangs well.

        You talking to me or yourself, Cel?

        Oh, both. --Too bad it's so wet out, I'd like to go for a ride but no chance of
        raising a decent chase, what?

Curufin: [absently]
        Probably. Why don't you go and work on cheering up Her Highness some more? You
        seemed to get along well with her last night. She actually smiled a few times
        that I saw.

        Yes. --But I'm worried about her, wandering like that. Sometimes she seems all
        there, and sometimes she really doesn't. I mean, what's to stop her from taking
        off in another crazy fit? Apparently she made some kind of scene at Finduilas'
        party, embarrassed herself and went off in a tizzy, though I didn't hear exactly
        what it was all in aid of.

        Well, I doubt that there's much in the way of elegant manners in Thingol's backwoods
        palace. It wouldn't be hard to make a social gaffe, even if she was paying attention.

Celegorm: [frowning more]
        And then -- and she would have been all right, if no one had stopped her, because
        Huan was with her -- but she was drifting around the water-gates, and had no clear
        idea of what she was doing down there when the guards asked her. I shudder to think
        what might've become of her, if she'd slipped out and Huan hadn't been along to
        bring her back!

Curufin: [sighing]
        Yes, I heard. It's taken care of -- I spoke to the staff and arranged that she's
        to be accompanied at all times about the City. Honor guard, you know. She is a
        Princess, after all, and should be treated with all due respect. No need to worry
        about our little bird taking flight into the forest again.

        You don't suppose--

    [A knocking at the outer door. Irritably:]

        --What now?

        Sirs, someone from the Regent's office is here with -- a request . . . ?

    [Orodreth's Aide comes in and tries to hand Celegorm several sheets of parchment; the
    elder son of Feanor, weighing quivers, gestures to give it to the younger, which the
    Aide does, with every sign of distaste]

        Milords. My master requests that you peruse these and return the answers to him
        as promptly as you possibly can without sacrificng accuracy. Both accuracy and
        speed are of the utmost importance. Good day.

    [With the shallowest bow possible he leaves; Curufin looks at the pages and snorts]

        --Is this some kind of joke? He demands "The amount of resources consumed by your
        Household for the past three winters, with projected use for this coming season,
        as itemized on the accompanying lists, titled and ruled for your convenience"
        --Does the fool have nothing better to do than harrass us with paperwork?

    [He crumples them up and flings them into the fireplace.]

        What were you saying, there?

Celegorm: [shakes his head]
        Nothing. Just -- silly notion. Never mind. Hey, do you think if I kept this quiver
        you could make a matching bowcase to go with it?


    [Luthien's chamber. She is washing her face in the fountain, and is still crying
    a little. Huan is watching her with his head on one side ]

        I suppose that was stupid of me. I should have guessed there'd be sentries on duty
        even at the river, even if it is inside the City -- it's still a gate. I'm going
        to have to think this through more carefully.

    [suddenly struck]

        --I shouldn't have involved you, either. I didn't even think of that -- but you
        have to obey your master, don't you? This is just as bad as it was at home. Only
        he wouldn't kill you for helping me, would he? You're immortal, aren't you? That's
        what he said when he was telling me all about you. Except for the Prophecy.

Huan: [whining]
    [thumps tail twice]

        But you didn't bark at the guards or anything when I was trying to find the
        controls for the wicket. Thank you.

    [shaking her head]

        I wonder how long it will be, before I really do go crazy here? Not long, I'm


        All right, starting from scratch -- what have I got to work with now?


        None hath guessed how, desperate, Tinuviel should try
        E'en without her work of power, from Nargothrond to fly --

    [The royal apartments -- Curufin is working with a largish device on the central
    table, something made of polished metal that is hinged in many different ways and
    seemes to be composed equally of flat plates and curved bars -- it looks a little
    like vines growing over a pile of sheer-plane rock, in its current folded state.
    Celegorm enters; his brother only nods absently at him.]

Celegorm: [abrupt]
        We have to do something else. She nearly walked out of here. Seems I was wrong.

Curufin: [suddenly attentive]
        What about the guards?

        She called them in to look at her fireplace, said it was smokin' and could they
        see if the system was jammed up -- and while they were working it over she walked
        out right behind them.

Curufin: [ominously]
        I'll have their names for that -- how could they be so unobservant, they're
        guards, dammit!

Celegorm: [shrugs, half-admiringly]
        They swore that she was standing there right next to them, making admiring noises
        all the while. Turns out it was jammed -- only she'd done it herself -- bent it
        all up so it took a third of a bell to fix it. By that point she was already down
        in the stables, where she'd manage to convince everyone that she was just another
        kid looking after the horses -- only reason it didn't work is that the horses
        didn't recognize her and got all jumpy.

Curufin: [looking at the closed, locked casket on a small table by itself]
        And no one saw her in the halls?

        Oh, they saw her all right -- they just had this idea that she was "someone
        who was supposed to be there doing something" no matter where she was. So --
        question is -- what are we going to do about it? Just a bunch of little illusions,
        and a few folded baffles -- kids' tricks -- but all together it adds up to --
        no bird in our hands. Nearly.

Curufin: [tapping his lips]
        If she can work that kind of game upon that many people, sequentially and at once,
        then we need something that cannot be fooled. I wouldn't rely on any kind of a
        mechanical lock at all -- too easy to fox, and too easy to make it look fixed --
        and I wouldn't rely on any lock alone, but in conjunction with a redoubled guard,
        I would think that a name-boundary set for her only should do the trick. You want
        to do it, or shall I?

        No, that's all right, I thought that's what you'd say but I wanted your input
        first. I'll go take care of it right now. --What is that?

        I don't know . . . yet. Where is she? It might be awkward -- if you had to explain.

Celegorm: [smiles broadly]
        I sicced her on Orodreth -- you know how he can't stop talking when he gets
        nervous. I figure they're good for another bell at least.

Curufin: [looking up in alarm]
        You're not worried about what he might say to her?

Celegorm: [snorts]
        Him? He's not going to say anything that will make his job any harder. And the
        more nervous he is the less he actually says in all those words. I'm not worried
        -- you think he wants to explain his role in the affair to her?

Curufin: [relaxing]
        True. --Aha -- that's how that goes --

    [unfolds the device into a huge openwork array]

        --But what is it?


    [shaking his head, he hurries off to set up the security system on Luthien's apartments]

              --'Gainst Time's all-consuming power, pleads
        Beauty in vain; likewise fair Justice, where the seeds
        of rivalry in rank Discontent hath flowered, and needs
        must go begging -- finding Law and Rule but broken reeds.

    [The Regent's office. Orodreth is seated behind his desk, looking rather at bay
    himself, but not saying anything. Luthien is standing in front of him, arms akimbo,
    frowning; Huan is standing with her, looking a bit at a loss; he circles halfway
    around and lies down in front of the fireplace, muzzle on paws]

        You've been avoiding me, cousin.

    [He raises his eyebrows but doesn't bother denying it.]

        --All that wierd formality and distant behavior, when I arrived, as if you'd never
        gone on hikes with us or spent the night dancing at Menegroth, and I thought you
        were just worried, and not knowing how to act in your new role, and trying to be
        proper about it -- But then I recognized it. I might have sooner, if you'd not
        hid from me so well, but eventually I remembered where I'd seen it before.

    [narrowed Look]

        In everyone who was ordered to look after my wants and needs whilst I was under
        house-arrest. It's guilt. Not quite as bad as Daeron's, but -- very near to it.



    [he doesn't answer -- she leans over the desk, fiercely:]

        --Level with me, Orodreth.

    [He gives a sudden nervous laugh, and she glares at him]

Orodreth: [apologetic]
        I'm sorry. It's just so -- so very unexpected, to hear mortal expressions like
        that, coming out of your mouth. Please forgive my levity.

Luthien: [severe]
        There is nothing remotely amusing about our situation.

Orodreth: [completely somber]

    [she looks at him expectantly, but he keeps looking at her without saying anything]

Luthien: [sighing, runs her hand through her hair]
        --Shall I spin this tale for you, then, and warp it too, I dare say, and leave
        the gaps and doublings for you to fix instead? It might be faster, at this rate.
        --Not that time matters to you, of course.

Orodreth: [upset]

Luthien: [ignoring]
        The only question is, where do I start? How long ago shall I begin? Don't worry,
        I'm not going to start at the Song -- but I do wonder how far back your part in
        this strain goes, and was it a trio, or merely a resting measure? If it was the
        former, they seem to have written your part out rather definitely as well--

    [He understands what she's getting at and looks shocked, shaking his head in denial]

        So you weren't part of it in advance. Not knowingly, at least. --That's something.

    [Finally she takes the chair placed for her, not as a supplicant but as if she were
    conducting the interview by rights. With her head on one side, slowly (not hesitantly

        I think -- this discord begins in the Sudden Flame, then -- but only as the
        resumption of a theme long played. I remember a dinner-table story -- as should
        you, since you told it -- about swords being drawn on family members way before
        Morgoth resumed his old tune. --How long in any case, would it have been, would
        you like to bet, before one or another began to rehearse the burden of "We are
        the eldest, it should all be ours"--?


        And once again many voices joined in the chorus -- but how many, or how few, were
        raised against them this time?

    [Orodreth looks away -- but has to meet her eyes again. Huan, on the floor, keeps
    looking anxiously from one to the other of them, not taking his head off of his paws.]

SCENE XXV.ii [no dialogue]

    [The halls outside the royal apartments: the Sage is reading in an alcove far down
    the corridor, but at just enough of an angle to allow visibility of the doors from
    where she's sitting. Nervously she takes a small casket out of her sleeve, as if
    checking to make sure it's still there, and then tucks it into the stack of books
    on her lap. After a moment she takes it out and puts it back into her sleeve again.]

    [Curufin leaves the chambers with a small entourage; the Sage gets up and slowly
    approaches the door after they're out of sight. We see her engaging in a conversation
    with the guards at the door, explaining something about the manuscripts, and they
    gesture her to bring them inside -- but she hesitates, and after a brief pause hands
    them over instead and takes off.]

    [Out of sight around the hallway she stops suddenly and slams back against the wall,
    eyes closed, biting her lip and clenching her hands -- she takes the box out,
    looks back over her shoulder, torn -- and puts it away again.]


    [The Regent's office. Luthien is pacing again, her arms folded, and halts leaning
    against the mantlepiece as the scene opens. Orodreth is looking at her anxiously]

        Well. That was worse than I expected. --Which I should have expected. What's
        the best way to get into the castle unobserved? Are there any secret tunnels
        through those caves along the cliffs? Or is that too obvious? Probably.

        I'm afraid I don't understand what you're getting at.

        If I can't get proper help, if you won't go openly against the Fortress, then
        I've got to try to infiltrate by stealth and trick my way in to get the keys
        to the dungeons. Since that was your base of operations, I'm assuming you know
        all the ins and outs of it, and I need to know everything I can so as to
        minimize the likelihood of actually getting caught while I'm pretending to
        be a prisoner there.

Orodreth: [aghast]
        You're -- Luthien, you're insane.

        No, just desperate. There's a difference.

Orodreth: [horrified laughter]
        You -- no, you're not being rational. You cannot just trick your way in and
        walk through the Enemy's defenses as though you were -- were--

Luthien: [raising an eyebrow]
        Bluffing my way through here? Through Doriath?

Orodreth: [rallying]
        Walking through a place you already know, to some degree, where everything is
        somewhat familiar, at least, as opposed to a completely-unknown territory full
        of vigilant hostile soldiery and protected by very-real Enemy magic, without any
        sort of defenses to assist you? It isn't possible.

        You could help me get my working back.

        Frankly, the mere fact that you're talking about trying to challenge Sauron on
        your own is enough to guarantee that I would never countenance returning your
        cloak to you, if I could be sure that that would be enough to dissuade you from
        this folly.

Luthien: [flinging up her hands]
        Obviously it would make it much easier. But if I don't have it -- well, if
        I hadn't had to make it to escape, then I wouldn't have it now either, and I
        wouldn't know about it so I wouldn't miss it, and I'd still have to do the same
        thing. So it doesn't really make any difference, unless I let it, I'd say.

    [The Regent looks bemused at this rapid assessment. Huan whines quietly.]

        Luthien. Believe me. I wish I could have your--

Luthien: [interrupts]
        --Don't say "naive"--

    [brief pause]

        --optimism. But there is nothing -- nothing -- about this plan of yours that
        warrants it. If it can even be called a plan. You're assuming that you will be
        able to even think clearly and react accordingly when you get there, and you're
        not taking into account at all the debilitating effects of the Necromancer's
        aura. It -- it generates a kind of solid, physical, terror that replaces the air
        itself around him.

        Well, obviously it's going to be frightening going into hostile territory. That
        only stands to reason.

        This is entirely another matter. It -- it is as far beyond ordinary, rational/tt>
        apprehension of danger as that is beyond the mild concern one might feel that
        bad weather might spoil a planned festival. It -- Can you imagine a sound as
        loud as the Valaroma, which instead of making your heart leap, fills you with
        the same sort of awe and agitation but with horror, not gladness? Or a wind that
        fills you with utter nausea, as if it came from a battlefield, but there's neither
        sound nor smell, only the feeling of a black cloud full of spikes surrounding you,
        on all sides, wherever you turn? --That's what Sauron's power is like, and nothing
        like it at all -- for that's nothing but paltry, empty words -- as little to do
        with the real thing as saying the word "ice" should have--


Luthien: [earnest]
        I live with that every single day. Every night, every hour, every heartbeat,
        that's the way it is, exactly what you're describing. I simply have to get up
        and keep going. Otherwise I'd be curled in a corner somewhere, shaking. But I
        can't let myself -- I have to keep hoping. --And trying.

Orodreth: [aside]
        The courage of ignorance . . . I, too, possessed that, once--

        Besides, it isn't as though I'm completely oblivious, the way you make out.
        I did pay attention when Beren was telling me about his War. Sauron isn't
        completely invincible, Beren got him once, and tricked his minions until
        he had to give up.

Orodreth: [bemused]
        That -- isn't -- what I'd understood of it--

Luthien: [impatient gesture]
        He had to bring in massive numbers of troops and start burning down all of
        Dorthonion. That isn't invincible, omniscient power, that's just brute force;
        he couldn't win fairly. So -- he has weaknesses. The trick is using them. And
        finding them, of course.

    [silence. Orodreth sighs.]

        --Can you order my escorts to -- be conveniently distracted? Or are they all
        partisans of the Feanorions?

Orodreth: [shaking his head]
        Some are, some not. Regardless of which I cannot give such an order, implicitly
        or otherwise. Whatsoever direct action I should take, should inevitably be
        reported upon. The consequences -- I cannot accept them. I have to protect
        what I can.

Luthien: [snorts]
        They really have you outnumbered, don't they? Just the two of them, against
        all of Nargothrond, saying "War!" and it might as well be the whole horde of
        Angband, the way you don't dare stand up to them.

Orodreth: [grim]
        --Not just two. And you weren't at Alqualonde. You weren't at the Breaking of
        the Leaguer. You do not know what you are talking about, Luthien. War is not
        something from a song or a story.


        What do you recommend? That I close my heart and soul and mind to truth and
        pretend I never knew otherwise? Let Beren die, let his name disappear from
        the world and live in the frivolity of the moment the way my parents want
        me to -- in spite of my loss -- the way you seem to be able to do?

Orodreth: [agonized]

        Because I can't. I will not stop, not having come so far, not if it kills me,
        or worse. With help or without.

        What are you going to undertake to do now?

Luthien: [shakes head]
        No. Better for both of us if you don't ask that.

Orodreth: [formal again]
        I am most terribly sorry I can't help you, my lady--

Luthien: [brittle smile]
        So am I.

    [she gathers up her mantle around her, defiantly, and sweeps past the desk towards
    the door -- then stops, and looks back at him with a baffled, pitying expression]

        --What was it?

    [as he looks blank]

        How did he fail you? --Was it because of Angrod and Aegnor? Did you blame him
        for sending them up there, or was it something else in the War?

Orodreth: [pale]
        I -- I don't understand what you're trying to convey--

    [she shakes her head with a wry expession]

        Yes, you do. Or you'd not try to deny it.

    [long pause. Orodreth lowers his eyes]

Orodreth: [whispering]
        You're an only child, cousin. You haven't the experience to -- to understand --
        what it was like -- being the last in the family -- and then 'Tariel, bracketed
        between those two, only ever known as someone else's brother -- with nothing
        deliberate in it at all, only that none could help following them, doing what
        they suggested, wanting to be noticed by them, and not noticing one at all --
        and not being able to help the same, either--

Luthien: [sad]
        No? --Are you sure you weren't one of the ones who listened to Melkor before
        he was Morgoth, too?


    [his defiance falls apart and he puts his head down on his hands, stricken. Luthien
    looks at him for a few seconds in frustration; then sits on the edge of the desk,
    rubbing his shoulders, her expression sympathetic]

        I'm sorry, Orodreth, I really am. --But I can't do anything for your pain, and
        I can't grant you pardon, because you won't heed my advice, and there's no other
        way out of this. No one is going to come rescue us this time. No army out of
        Ossiriand, no Sun out of the West -- we're it.

    [she stands and goes out, leaving him there, while Huan hastily scrambles up and
    trots out after her]


            --Hot-wielded in needful time, words
        may cross purposes no less than swords--

    [Luthien's suite -- she is sitting on the floor looking up at Huan and talking to him,
    and does not apparently notice when Finduilas walks in behind her, having tapped a few
    times on the open panel but not gotten an answer]

        So then I told him that I could accept that that was how he felt, but I couldn't
        really see where he was coming from at all, and that since he couldn't explain it
        any better himself he could hardly expect me to understand it either. And then
        I asked him -- again -- why he didn't just come up and say something to us, or
        to me, privately, even, and what was up with the lurking off in the distance and
        watching us from hillsides like some kind of spy, and he got all twitchy again.
        --At that point I just gave up because it was clear that I wasn't going to get an
        answer because he didn't have one, and that my guess was as good as his.


        Which so far as I can tell comes down to a combination of pride and embarrassment --
        though actually that's the same thing, really -- too proud to admit that he hadn't
        been able to see me as a grown-up and a person in my own right, not just "Elu and
        Melian's little girl," until someone else from outside had first, and then too
        embarrassed to admit that he'd spied on us--


        and so logically he just kept doing it, and moping about hoping someone would notice
        and solve his problem for him. --Which happened --

Finduilas: [worried]
        Luthien, what are you doing?

Luthien: [looking up but not getting up]
        Explaining about Daeron to Huan.

Finduilas: [remaining standing]

        Because he wanted to know.

        But -- he's a Hound!

Luthien: [narrow look]
        If you really think he's just a dog, and no more, then you're blinder than
        I thought.

        Well, obviously he's different -- but he's still an animal, Luthien.

Luthien: [staring hard]
        That's funny, I don't see anything wrong with your eyes.

Finduilas: [ignoring this]
        If you need to talk to someone, there are people here who can help you. I'm here.

        But I don't want to talk to you. If I have to talk to anyone in this horrible
        place, I'd rather talk to Huan.

Finduilas: [exasperated]
        Luthien, this is not a horrible place. You make it sound like Angband or

        Even if I didn't need to save Beren I couldn't stay here. It's making me
        physically ill.

Finduilas: [patient but strained]
        No, you're making yourself sick with your unreasonable behavior.

        I need to get out of here. I'm suffocating! I've never been underground this
        long in my life!

Finduilas: [a bit patronizing]
        Oh, you wouldn't really rather be outside in the cold and the wet. It's
        practically Winter.

        Before I was brought here I'd been living in trees for the past month. They're
        much better when you can get out of them, by the way.  And my cape works perfectly
        well at keeping the rain off me.  --I really don't understand why you expect me
        to be grateful for being kept in a beautiful prison rather than a gloomy one. At
        least in a dungeon there's no pretense of hospitality, and no one expects anything
        of the prisoner but escape!

Finduilas: [sighs]
        You're not a prisoner--

Luthien: [interrupting]
        No? Then I can go? All right then, let's--

        Don't be tiresome -- you know that's impossible. You can't just leave--

Luthien: [interrupting]
        That would, I'd say, be the exact definition of a prisoner.

Finduilas: [reaching down to touch her shoulder]
        It's for your own good -- we're simply concerned for your safety, cousin.

    [Luthien impatiently shakes her off]

Luthien: [very slowly and forcefully.]
        I've heard that one before.

        Well, it's true, you--

Luthien: [interrupting]
        Cousin, if your fiance was taken prisoner by the Enemy and you knew it, would
        you just stay here making bowls and earrings in your studio? Or would you take
        your torches and your chemicals and your iron rods and do whatever you could
        with what you had?

    [Finduilas laughs nervously]


        Don't be silly, Luthien.

        Silly? You mean you wouldn't?

        Not that it could ever happen, but -- what could I do? I couldn't just go
        traipsing across the wilds singlehandedly to attack the Enemy, that's absurd--

    [longish pause]

        You know something? I'm going to make myself very unpopular with you by saying
        this, but -- I don't think you really love him. Because if you did, you wouldn't
        be able to imagine that possiblity without getting upset. And there wouldn't be
        any question in your mind about the necessity of doing whatever it takes to
        save him.

    [Finduilas gives a short laugh, shaking her head in dismay]

Luthien: [relenting]
        Look, I'm not trying to hurt your feelings, just to get you to think--

        Oh, I'm not upset. Everyone goes through stages of romantic idealism and juvenile
        fixation in their lives. Eventually one grows out of it, though.

    [Luthien gives her a Look]

        Finduilas -- I'm older than your parents.

Finduilas: [kindly]
        Yes, but you don't act like it.

        . . . !


        --Besides, it could never happen, anyway.

        Oh, that's a principle to run your life on! "It can't happen so I won't worry
        about it" --? Wasn't that what they used to tell your High King about Morgoth
        breaking through the siege? Your uncles complained about that to my parents lots
        of times, how nobody listened to them -- especially your precious "Lords of
        Nargothrond" here -- and unfortunately, they were right, weren't they?


        I can't believe you're so callous.

        Oh! Honestly! Just go away, I can't take this any more. If my time's going to
        be wasted in prison, I shouldn't have to put up with being treated like an idiot
        on top of it.

Finduilas: [sighing]
        Can I bring you anything else? More books? Some music?

Luthien: [deadpan]
        How about a pick-axe?

    [The Regent's daughter gives her a sympathetic look and leaves.]

Luthien: [shouting]
        Shut the door behind you, please!


        If I'm a prisoner, let's not pretend otherwise, all right?

Huan: [getting up and pacing]
        [several short whines]

Luthien: [shaking her head, amazed]
        I just don't get it. What's wrong with her? --But -- well, I suppose -- I mean,
        given that everyone in her family did that, just up and walked out on each other,
        not knowing if or when they'd ever be coming back -- perhaps it doesn't seem
        irrational to her. I wish I hadn't been too polite to ask Galadriel about it,
        after. I mean, it might not be any of my business, strictly speaking -- but then
        we are family after all, so on another level it is. I'm beginning to think that
        all the Noldor are crazy. --Or maybe it's just everyone who left Aman.

        [short loud bark]

        I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings either. But I'm not used to things
        that make absolutely no sense at all.

    [jumps to her feet and runs to the door]

        I have to get out of here!

    [she flings wide the hallway entrance and shouts at the Guards:]

        What in Morgoth's name is wrong with you people?

    [She tries to slip past them but they stop her, gently but firmly, and lead her back
    into the parlor. She yells after them as they close the outer door again, panting:]

        Damn you to Angband! Let me go!

    [As soon as the door is shut she stops looking distraught and helpless -- though
    still crazed. Feral grin:]

        --That'll put them off their guard for now.

    [She gathers up her mantle and starts knotting fruit and biscuits from the bowls
    on the table into the corners before going over to the door. To Huan, whispering:]

        --You won't tell anyone, will you?

Huan: [worried look]
        [thumps tail, twice]

Luthien: [touching the door, sings very slowly]
            I love my love and well he knows--
            I love the ground whereon he goes
            and if my love I no more should see
                my life would quickly fade away--

        [opens the door quietly and walks out without any fuss]


                         --Her fears full-formed,
        the captive guest of welcome well-outworn
        herself would free, her hopes stillborn--

    [The Armories. Celegorm is coming back from the practice area, grinning broadly,
    helm under his arm, while various warriors give him wary and/or dirty looks. All
    are a bit disheveled. Curufin shoves through in the opposite direction, grabs
    his brother, and drags him behind a rack of spears.]

Curufin: [urgent whisper]
        You're not going to believe this--

Celegorm: [hand jumping to swordhilt]
        --They came back?!

        No. She got out again.

        I swear I worked it properly!

        I know you did. --Don't worry.  The main security system stopped her, at the
        Gates -- not the guards, though. They didn't notice her until the alarms started
        up -- seems she isn't any good at guessing passwords -- and then they brought
        her back inside to her rooms.

        So how did she do it?

Curufin: [grimly]
        Apparently -- by whatever rules govern the rules of Arda -- an aftername given
        by a human is just as good as any other. --I wouldn't have thought of that either.

        So . . . she just . . . walked right through it?

        Didn't even realize it was there, apparently. Didn't stop her at all.

Celegorm: [frowning]
        I don't like that. Mortals shouldn't be able to have anything to do with power.

        I agree. One more oversight on the part of the gods for the list. But -- one good
        thing's come of it, now everyone realizes that she's -- eccentric -- trying to run
        out barefoot and coatless with no provisions into the woods at this time of year.
        So I didn't even have to look responsible for suggesting that she be -- politely --
        restrained; someone else already suggested it to the Master of Defensive Illusions
        and he took care of it. I removed all trace of your working before he got there,
        by the way.

Celegorm: [apprehensive]
        Do you think she'll be angry about it?

Curufin: [shrugs]
        Probably. But not at you. What I wonder is if she'll say anything, or pretend she
        hasn't noticed it. Given her family's pride I'm guessing the latter. --Hey, want
        to go a few rounds? I could do with the exercise.

       Sure -- I'm not tired at all. This was childs' play.

    [They come out into the floor and Curufin starts taking down practice gear.]

Celegorm: [to bystanders]
        Anyone else up for some more bruises? No takers? Oh well--

        Oh, you don't want to fight children, you want real competition!

    [They head off towards the pells; the native Nargothronders scowl after them]

First Warrior:
        Someone needs to flatten that lout.

Second Warrior:
        Which one?

First Warrior:
        --Both of them.

Third Warrior:
        You up for it?

    [Bitter looks all round]

        Not for the first time nor the last, recalling words hard-spoken,
        Tinuviel rueth yet again the fact of them unwitting broken,
        ne'er to trust repose in kindred souls, whose loyalty's but token--

    [In the solar of her private wing, Luthien looks at the artificial Northern 'window'
    and leans on the stone frame as if it really overlooked a landscape.]

Luthien: [hardly more than a whisper]
        The trees they do grow high
        And the leaves they do grow green
        Many is the time my true love I've seen
        Many an hour I've watched him all alone
           -- He's young but he's daily growing

    [She sighs, dispiritedly tracing the carved ornament with her forefinger.
    Behind her Celebrimbor enters the solar and watches her in silence; sensing
    his entrance, she gives no sign of awareness.]

        Oh, what's the use? I can't sing underground, where's no air, no light,
        no wind or stars to give me voice. And even if I could -- I set so much
        of my power into my Work, heart and soul and song and love -- it's as much
        myself as these my hands are now.  I could not go far from it, or far
        without it, or do much after if I did, I'm afraid.

    [After a moment she begins to sing again:]

        Father, dear father, you've done me great wrong --
        You've married me to a great lord's son --
        I am twice twelve and he is but fourteen!
           -- He's young but he's daily growing

        Daughter, dear daughter, I've done you no wrong
        I've married you to a noble lord's son --
        When he's grown, he'll make a lord to wait upon
           -- He's young but he's daily growing

        One day as I was lookin' o'er my father's castle wall
        I spied all the boys a-playing at the ball
        My own true love was the flower of 'em all
           --He's young but he's daily growing

        At the age of fifteen he was a married man
        At the age of sixteen the father of a son
        At the age of seventeen his grave it was green
           And death had put an end to his growing --

    [speaking without looking around to Celebrimbor]

        That isn't how it was, of course.  Quite the opposite, in fact. But there's
        something in their story that calls to my heart. I don't even know if they
        were real people: it might have happened long ago in the Forgotten East, but
        mortals often tell stories that are about no one real, and yet they seem to
        be about everyone. I've learned so many, many stories about mortal Men that
        are nothing like what our sages believe.

        --When will the host of Nargothrond be ready to set forth?

        I cannot say.

        Then why did you bother to answer my message, if you haven't any news?

        I only wanted to tell you -- that you should not let your hopes
        soar too high -- lest the fall be too much for you.

        You could come with me. You could help us. You're good at technical stuff,
        everyone says: you could figure out how to get past the security systems.
        I've never done anything like that.

        But you escaped from Doriath, in a rather . . . complicated and . . .
        technically involved way, I understand?

        That was just talking people into doing what I wanted, people who don't
        stop to think about what you're asking, or why, or know they shouldn't be
        obstructing you in the first place. The rest was easy.

Celebrimbor: [pained smile]
        -- As you're doing to me at this moment, my lady.  Congratulations:
        it nearly worked.

        But I'm asking you -- as a friend -- or one who could be a friend --

        I'm afraid, Your Highness, if you're looking for friendship -- you will not
        find it here in Nargothrond.  Not now.

Luthien: [slowly, chillingly]
        Then it is true -- that there is something dark in Nargothrond, something biting
        at its roots, draining out the Light from its soul. I've felt it, but told myself
        it was just my own fears, and the oppressiveness of the hills over us.

        My lady --

        Don't "my lady" me!

        I can't -- my father, my uncle, they would --

        Join us.

        But duty to my kin--

Luthien: [savagely]
        --What's "kin"? What's the word worth, if it doesn't mean friend first? What does
        it add, to friendship? I have no kin.

        You don't understand -- it's the Curse, the Doom, it cannot be denied --

        I deny it. I will not give my beloved and my friend to an undeserved fate,
        because you ex-Valinoreans are fools, and the Sons of Feanor mad, wicked, and
        beyond all help. --Choose, Lord Celebrimbor, choose -- before it's too late.

    [He goes out again, silently; she bows her head against the stone mural]


        --Her simple efforts foiled to fly,
        the Princess-prisoner turns to guile;
        Simplicity she feigns, maintains, sly
        allowing all to judge her fool this while . . .

    [In the antechamber. Luthien is seated at the table, with Celegorm across from
    her. Huan is drowsing beside his master's chair, his head on his outstretched
    forelegs. Luthien wears an expression of somewhat strained politeness, but she
    would be polite to Morgoth himself if it might get her out of here. Not knowing
    her moods, perhaps, Celegorm does not seem to notice the strained
    atmosphere at first.]

        So we thought to find wolves on that day as well, but instead we found
        something amazing. --Guess what it was.

        A boar?

    [Celegorm shakes his head]

        A bear?

    [Celegorm again shakes head in negative]

        A wild ox?

    [Again the negative response. He is smiling guilelessly.]

        I give up.

        A deer.

        But aren't there many deer hereabouts? Why is that amazing?

        It was a white one. Don't see too many of those -- wolves get 'em all first,
        because they show up like a star in the dark woods.

        And did you catch the white hart?

        Doe. It was a 'white doe, white as snow, shining bright as she did go--'

    [as if to say: See? I can give you poetry too...]

        Led our hounds and horses a merry dance, she did.

Luthien: [not liking where this seems to be going.]
        Poor thing!

    [deciding to play along for the sake of information/confirmation]

        Did you catch her?

        Mm . . . not yet.  She still is wild for to hold, though I think she could be tamed.

        What will you do when you catch her?

        Why eat her, of course! --Only joking, dear lady, I would never harm such a
        rare and lovely beast, but keep her safe in a walled garden filled with every
        manner of flower and tree she could long for, where no wild animals could ever
        come near to injure her.

        But she is a wild creature too, is she not?

        Only because she hasn't met a worthy master. Her nature is far too gentle
        for the wolf-haunted wilderness and the harsh winters of the world beyond.

Luthien: [frowning decidedly]
        I don't think that wild animals should be trapped and held. My mother's
        nightingales are never caged.

Celegorm: [looking at her with sad eyes]
        You don't seem to be amused by my company. I am crushed, positively crushed.

Luthien: [apologetic]
        My lord, the hour grows late, and I grow weary -- of waiting.

    [before he can make too much of her last words, she adds in a piqued tone,
    and much lighter:]

        --Besides, you laughed at me about that -- that bug, the other night.

Celegorm: [smiling indulgently at her]
        Oh, but you've got to admit it was funny.

        It was in my clothes, and it was not funny at all.

        Well, at least I killed it for you.

        I didn't want it killed, I just wanted it off me.

        I don't see how you can be so scared of a little beetle -- well, all right,
        not so little -- but still, there have to have been beetles in Doriath.
        Whatever did you do, traveling through the forest?  Trees are full of 'em,
        don't you know?

        I'm not scared of them, I just don't like their claws and feet and the
        pointy armor on them and the oily way they move.  They make me think of
        how I imagine Glaurung, or those monsters that roamed around in the Outer
        Darkness before the Sun. And I'm always afraid their legs will pull off
        when I try to get them loose.  Anyway, I expect them outside -- not indoors,
        in a place supposed to be impenetrable by invasion!

    [brief pause]

        Beren never makes fun of me about beetles.  He just moves them someplace
        else, usually before I notice them.  --At least that's what he thinks,
        and I let him go on thinking that I haven't noticed. He's very kind.

Celegorm: [his smile unchanging, and his voice still pleasant]
        You know, I don't really want to hear about Barahirion any more.

Luthien: [in the same manner]
        You know, I'd rather gathered that.

        So where does that leave us?

        With nothing more to talk about, my lord.

        Oh, I'm sure we can find something. Your eyes -- your lips -- your hair --

    [He reaches out and takes her hand as he speaks. He does not hurt her, but his
    grip is fast.]

Luthien: [tersely]
        My hand, my lord --

        --is lovely.
    [lifts and kisses her fingers]

Luthien: [pulling back to no avail]
        Let go.

Celegorm: [earnestly]
        Let me first convince you that you deserve no less than the best, and will be
        satisfied with no inferior thing, by disclosing to you the currents of my heart--

        -- Lord Celegorm, let go of me!

Celegorm: [smiling widely]
        Say 'please.'

Luthien: [through her teeth]
        Let. Go!

Celegorm: [pulls her closer, so that she must rise from her seat and lean towards him]
        You don't really want that, you know you don't --

    [Luthien braces her left hand on the table edge, puts her foot on the arm of
    his chair and kicks hard, sending him over backwards with a crash. When he
    involuntarily lets go of her in reaction she flings herself spinning across
    the table with the momentum and braces herself to fling that over at him too.
    She may not be a match for a warrior who spends his free time hunting big game,
    but her arboreal upbringing and art haven't left her a lightweight either.]

Celegorm: [panting, grinning, a mad light in his eyes]
        --Not a shy nightingale at all, but a falcon she is! Foot me, will you? You'll
        pay for that strike, milady, with a softer touch. Ah, but you'll fly to my
        hand soon enough --

    [He moves toward her, and she moves sideways along the table, keeping maximum
    distance between them]

        Stay back!

        Else what?

    [A huge grey wave crashes between him and the table, knocking him backwards.
    Huan half-turns, blocking all access to Luthien, his fangs bared.

Huan: [loud snarling growl]
        ! ! !


        [series of short, imperative barks]

        Down, I say! Down!!!

        [drawn-out growl, ending in a sharp, reproachful bark]

    [He continues to block his master's efforts to flank him. It is a standoff, as
     Celegorm is unwilling to go hand-to-teeth with a dog the size of a horse.]

Luthien: [her voice a bit ragged, but cold and tearless]
        Lord Celegorm, you will leave now, and not return until you have learned
        better than to assail a guest in her own chambers.

    [Celegorm stands still, his face growing ashen, his breathing growing unsteady
    with something like fear now.]

Celegorm: [shaken at his own bad behavior and loss of control]
        Y-your Highness, please underst--


    [There is no relenting or uncertainty in her expression. The Noldor lord accepts
     his dismissal, turning his anger on his dog instead of himself.]

Celegorm: [savagely]
        Huan. --Heel.

    [Huan drops down to an alert crouch between Luthien and Celegorm. He is clearly
    not going anywhere just now -- but just as clearly able to go anywhere fast if
    he needs to]

        You treacherous Hound!

        [angry bark]

        You'll follow anyone who gives you sweetmeats, you wolf-at-heart!

        Please. Leave. Now.

    [Celegorm cannot think of anything else to say.  As he stalks out, Huan rises and
    trots over to push the door all the way shut with his nose. Safely shielded behind
    it, Luthien at last dares to give in to stress and sinks down to the tiles, shaking.
    Huan returns and sits beside her, and she hugs him, leaning against the Hound's massive
    shoulder, crying into his coat.]


     Conscience belated in full weight returning as of boulders,
     Lord Celegorm seeks to shift this burden from his shoulders--

    [The royal apartments. Curufin is rummaging through chests and caskets, having covered
    the table with boxes and their contents. Opening yet another he takes out a handful of
    gold chains and links, and jingles them before tossing them casually into a pile with
    other ingots and piecemetal. Celegorm enters looking distraught, shuts the door hard
    behind him]

        What's wrong?

Celegorm: [looking around warily]
        Is this place secured?

        Of course -- always. What's the matter?

        I went to visit the Princess again.

        Things didn't go well?

        I've ruined it. I -- I don't know what came over me -- I've ruined everything.

        You didn't tell her!?!

        I didn't need to, she'd already guessed. I -- I frightened her, Cur.
        I rushed her -- rushed at her, not like I was a person but like some damned
        unreasoning brute of a two-year-old colt just turned loose with the herd--

Curufin: [dryly]
        And did you get your jaw kicked in for it?

        Close enough. Now she won't even let me apologize to her.


        I don't understand! I'm Eldar -- not some animal, or Man hardly better than
        animal -- how could I be overcome, how could my reason be overthrown by passion
        in such a -- a counter-productive way? Because things were going so well -- she
        really seemed pleased to see me, to talk to me, --right up until I terrified her!

Curufin: [musing]
        Well, there's always 'Brim -- I think he's intoxicated with her, too. . . perhaps
        we should steer that way, eh? I don't think he's ever done anything incautious in
        his life--

        No! -- No, I think we should stick with our original plan.

Curufin: [dawning realization]
        You've fallen for her. Hah!

    [Celegorm scowls at him]

Curufin: [frowning]
        She can't really prefer Survival Boy to you, can she? Obviously old Shadows is
        right and she's under a spell. But who could put a spell on one of the Kindred?
        Even if she is a Dark Elf. Could he have been an Enemy agent after all...?

Celegorm: [uncomfortable with this self-deception now]
        She's hardly that -- and he's as shallow and obvious as they come. That's not
        Morgoth's style at all in turning double-agents. He's not twisted, just insane.

        Are you really in love with her? Not just the illusion going out of control and
        the act taking on its own reality? I mean, I know all the advantages and reasons
        -- I thought of them myself -- but she's hardly the equal of one of us, regardless
        of the almost-blasphemous lineage she claims.

        Act? The act was -- that it was ever an act. How can I begin to describe what it
        is about her -- that queenly way of going and the flashing look in her eyes when
        she gets angry  -- she -- she glows almost, like silver hot in the mold, and she
        stands there in that ratty old dress of hers with her hair chopped off like a
        slave's, and -- laugh not, but I tell you it's as though one of Them stood there,
        as though Varda walked in disguise, standing an arm's length away. --And yet she
        seems so approachable, with that cute little half-skip in her walk and that quaint
        old-fashioned accent of hers . . . Don't tell me you're unaffected by it, little
        brother! Everyone watches her -- no one can help it!

Curufin: [shrugs]
        She's aesthetic enough -- or would be if she took care of herself -- and the
        kingdom she will inherit should any, ah, tragic accident befall Elwe is more
        than charm enough for anyone. But the fact that you feel this way obviously
        means that you're meant for each other. "Soul mates" and all that.

Celegorm: [sarcastic]
        Only she doesn't know it, somehow--

        She hasn't thought about it carefully. I'm sure that once I've talked things over
        with her and forced her to look at facts, to think carefully about the realities --
        the impossibilities -- of her obsession, then she will realize how flattered, and
        and how honored, she is, and ought to be, that you've stooped to notice her. You
        know that I can make anyone see reason, you mustn't worry that I can't deal with
        this, too. Now -- sit down and tell me what happened, exactly, so I know what I
        have to work with . . .


        Friendless, imprisoned, fearful and distraught,
        Tinuviel awaits in golden cage she knows not what,
        --yet not all forsaken, though her own folk heed her naught:
        one still heeds her, attends her, still supports her cause,
        both lesser and greater than his lord, wrestling with the laws
        that set Duty against Duty, for Elf, for Mortal, for those with paws--

    [Luthien is pacing back and forth still, running her hands along the carvings on
    the walls, while Huan lies down in the hallway connecting the solar with the private
    chambers, watching her alertly with mournful eyes.]

        My lady, the Lord of Aglon-and-Himlad is here to speak to you.

Luthien: [very curt]
        Which one?

        Er -- Lord Curufin.

        Show him in.

    [Curufin enters, indicating dismissively that the attendant should close the doors
    behind him. He looks closely at Luthien, appraising her state-of-mind.
    Note: Curufin never raises his voice throughout the following exchange.]

Luthien: [before Curufin has a chance to speak]
        --You may tell your brother, my lord, that I will accept his apology only
        with the tangible mark of his penitence -- that is to say, when he returns
        my cloak to me. And the best horse in your stables, in reparation.

Curufin: [innocent]
        I beg your pardon? Your Highness, I fear I haven't the least notion of what
        you're speaking about.

        You mean you're not here to bring his apologies, since I forbade him my
        presence in his own person? Or perhaps you haven't heard--?

        I am here on my brother's behalf, yes, -- but I'm afraid you're mistaken as
        to the nature of my visit. I am here to approach you with formal notice of
        my brother's suit as claimant to your hand in marriage.

    [Luthien stares at him in total shock]

        I steadfastly urge you to accept him, without hesitation, as a proposal which
        will do you honor and increase your estate in Middle-earth, bestowing upon you
        and your family not only rank and prosperity and widened realm, but a connection
        with the highest House of the noblest race of the Eldar, -- a fair exchange, for
        your fair self, your Highness.

    [long pause]

Luthien: [slowly and emphatically]
        I am betrothed to Beren. I will never love another. --Why is this so hard to
        understand? Is my accent too strange? I understand your Sindarin perfectly well --
        and Beren understands me, even though his dialect is far different from ours.
        --Or is everyone in Nargothrond just deaf?

Curufin: [just as slowly and emphatically]
        Beren is dead. --Deal with it.

Luthien: [alight]
        No! I would know it, if he were.

        Are you so sure of that?

        --Would you know if the Sun were struck out of the sky? Even here, even in this
        buried place where I cannot feel her, I would know. The same way I'd know it, if
        he was no more beneath the Stars -- Arda being dark and lifeless would tell me!

Curufin: [shaking his head]
        Such the romantic, Lady Luthien -- though it is charming indeed. But you are old
        enough to put aside such childish fancies and face facts, and the facts are thus:
        Barahirion is no fit mate for such as you, nor will you in any case ever set eyes
        on him again. Better, then, to take what is available to you, and freely offered,
        and to your great advantage, and put your mortal folly from your mind -- end this
        war of yours with your parents, and make in your own person peace between our
        estranged Houses, and enjoy the rewards of your rationality.

        If you have no wish to hazard yourself in rescue of my true love nor your kin,
        my lord, and don't care to strike at our common foe in deepest insult possible --
        then let me go on my way as I've been asking, and I'll do it myself. You have no
        right to keep me here, and you know it.

        What, without your hair-cloak even?

        If I must, though I would rather not.

Curufin: [patronizing, extreme "grown-up to little girl" singsong]
        And what will you do when you get there?

        Whatever I have to. For myself, I fear nothing.

Curufin: [wry smile]
        Did you know my cousin Aredhel?

Luthien: [thrown by the change of subject]
        No -- she's Turgon and Fingon's sister, right? Didn't they go off somewhere on
        their own, she and Turgon and the Kindred at Nevrast, and drop out of sight
        completely? That's what we'd heard.

        Almost completely. Some whiles back she came to visit us at Aglon, and stayed
        a few seasons, but unfortunately we were visiting our brother Caranthir in his
        province and missed her. We discovered when we came back and found her gone,
        that she had decided to go exploring and looking for unclaimed territory of her
        own -- somewhere still perhaps within the whole of Beleriand that your father
        lays claim to, but beyond the area he actually administers -- and from which his
        Rangers had prohibited her party's crossing. Now she was an Elf-maid warrior-
        trained and used to long riding and hard travel, not to say a Noldor lady of high
        degree, so you would think her far better equipped to journey safely through the
        wild lands than a Gray-elven girl sheltered in the artificial confines of Doriath,
        -- would you not?

        I would guess so -- I've heard a fair bit about the Crossing of the Ice from our
        cousins over the course of their stays with us, and it's nothing I can even begin
        to imagine -- though I suppose when one has no other alternative, one can manage
        almost anything. Or else die trying, of course.

Curufin: [briefly checked]
        Quite so. --As a matter of fact, she made it through that part of the country north
        of you where Ungoliant once stayed -- I believe you are at least generally familiar
        with its hazards? -- totally alone, since her warrior escort was lost in the web of
        illusions over the land and she could not find them, and in their honor refused to
        give up the mission they had died upon, before reaching our domain. So you need not
        guess at it.  And she still disappeared without a trace, for years of the Sun, until
        one day we discovered that she'd been taken in marriage by Eol of Nan-Elmoth --

        Eol? My father's cousin the crazy hermit?

        The same. And when I say "taken" I mean just that. My agents spotted her
        flying cross-country at top speed with a single squire, who we later learned to
        be her son, because her husband showed up not long after absolutely furious and
        demanding that we help him track her down. I sent him packing, needless to say
        -- but nobody knows what happened to them. --Unless you've heard?

    [pot::kettle suspicion mode]

        Perhaps you know all of this already and you're just letting me talk -- perhaps
        you knew it all along, and even more of the story, and perhaps the ending? --My

        No. That's isn't me.

    [loudly unspoken -- That's you--]

        Eol never had anything to do with us if he could possibly avoid it, which was
        basically all the time. We finally got a rumour through the Wandering Folk that
        he'd up and left without a trace, and we never heard word to the contrary.
        I hadn't even heard that he had started a family. He never had anything to do
        with the Kindred except for a few hired hands to help him with his forge --
        the only people I ever heard he chose to associate with were the Dwarves, because
        of their shared hobbies.

Curufin: [stung into momentary distraction]
        Metals-technology is not a hobby -- not like the performing arts. It's extremely
        useful, not to mention being a sign of civilization and culture.

Luthien: [shrugs]
        As you please.


        --Why was she traveling, anyway?

Curufin: [haughtily]
        We of Aman are not obliged to answer to anyone for our comings and goings.

        I just wondered because it seems like the kind of thing one would need a good
        reason to do, if they'd gone to such trouble to disappear, and perhaps she had
        some important messages for the High King or something like that, but I'd think
        they would have said so to our Border Guard in that case, and my father isn't --
        except this once -- completely unreasonable.

    [gesturing emphatically]

        In fact -- being Noldor aristocracy with all that you've impressed me that that
        entails -- how could she have been kept a prisoner against her will for all those
        years? Wouldn't that be as unlikely as cousin Galadriel being held hostage?
        Especially by Eol-the-hermit, who really is a "Dark-elf," and awfully close to
        the Dark side as well, given that he cursed the lease payment for Nan Elmoth.
        At least that's what my mother thinks.

    [with a challenging look, dropping all masks of courtesy]

        --Actually, I'm surprised you didn't get along with him just fine.

    [Curufin gives her a sharp glance but does not rise to the bait.]

        He acted as though it was a mortal insult for us to request some payment in
        return for having complete and exclusive title to a very extensive section of
        Beleriand, and what he came up with was practically an insult in itself -- even
        before we looked at it closely. One sword, for deed in perpetuity, I ask you, and
        then to say that we should be flattered because it was one-of-a-kind. Which it
        wasn't, it turned out, because he'd made another from the same bit of thunderbolt-
        iron for himself. So given the similiarity of your attitudes towards Doriath, I'd
        expect you to make common cause rather than fight.

Curufin: [smiling]
        Whatever your opinion, or your family's opinion, of us -- certain facts remain,
        Princess of Doriath. Your father's laws do not extend here, nor can he protect
        you past his domain. Beren is not here to defend you -- from what you have said,
        he cannot even defend himself. In a short while -- short by any measure that our
        people use -- he will, for all intents and purposes, no longer exist. You have
        gone wandering alone in the wilds like a stray lamb, and like a stray lamb you
        are prey for whatever wolfish beast should chance upon you. It would be the part
        of wisdom to reckon with facts, your Highness, and to accept the realities of
        your present situation.

    [grimly serious]

        Remember the story of my cousin -- the true story, and consider your chances,
        set against hers. You Dark-elves haven't our resistance to the dark, after all.

        I never thought of us like that. I always felt that my mother brought Aman with her
        wherever she was.

        What a delightful notion. But do you really think you're the equal of any of us?
        Now that you're outside her protection?

Luthien: [defiantly]
        I am not without all resources myself, my lord!

Curufin: [tilting his head back to look sarcastically at her]
        Indeed. Then might I ask why you haven't left already? --I think we both know
        very well that such scant power as you had you have no longer, and cannot Work
        again. The reality is -- that you are one and we are many, and you have no
        recourse but to accept that fact. Or, perhaps, not to accept it -- but learn
        the truth of it all the same.


        It could be worse: Nargothrond is a rich realm, and shall be richer yet under
        proper governance, and you will lack for nothing here -- and my brother is
        overwhelmed by your radiant beauty, and honors you as highly as any Noldor maid,
        and will let no harm come to you . . . and he is even among the Foremost acounted
        handsome, and his prowess in the field unmatched, and his temper most gracious
        so none do cross him. You could do far worse, my lady.

Luthien: [speaking very fast and nervously, her eyes fixed on Curufin]
        There is a story of Marach out of the Forgotten Days, my lord, in which a
        mortal lady was born under a Doom to be the most beautiful of all her age,
        and so she was promised to a mighty sovereign from before the hour of her
        birth, and held in a lonely place where none might see her before she was
        of an age to be given to him, as was the custom in those days of the East,
        but a hunter whose Doom it was to find her came singing upon the house where
        she was held in secret and she heard his song and fled with him, and his
        brothers defended them, and there was great war as was foretold in the lady's
        Doom --

    [weighting the next words particularly]

        -- but at last they were betrayed to their deaths by a lesser lord whom
        they had trusted, and the lady was taken by the lesser lord to be his slave,
        and then to win favor with the great king the lesser lord made gift of her
        to his master, but when they rode to meet the mighty sovereign's emissaries,
        the lesser lord mocked her, and cast all her weakness in her face, and as he
        laughed she laughed at him in turn, and faded as mortals fade -- that is to say,
        she cast herself down from the high place of the mountain where they rode into
        the stones, and her body was broken, and she died, and so escaped her Doom to
        find her love again.

    [as though discussing textual variations in a symposium]

        We do not know if it be true, or if the mighty sovereign and the lesser lord
        be truly Morgoth Bauglir and Sauron his servant, and the lady a sacrifice to
        the Dark Ones as dim rumor has it, but it is a very old story, my lord, and
        one that is often told, though it is sad to tell.

Curufin: [sounding mildly confused]
        I beg your pardon, Your Highness, but why do you relate this lamentable
        chronicle of mortal woes? Were we not speaking of the state of Beleriand's
        polity and future prosperity?

        I am not sure of what you were speaking, my lord.

Curufin: [smiling]
        Of the folly of such a fair one as you venturing the wilds, and risking your
        life, your health, your happiness and peace amid rough places and rougher folk.

    [He steps closer, not touching her, but backing her up towards the wall, and blocking
    her with his hands set against the wall on either side when she tries to dodge past
    him. Angry but cold, she folds her arms and stares back at him, unimpressed.]

        Barahirion might worship you as a goddess too high for anything save veneration
        and abject obedience -- but not all mortals are so . . .  docile, so . . . easily
        enspelled. Easterling chieftains like the ones in your story will not consider
        either your race or your noble blood as grounds for fear in their dealings with
        you; nor will Orcs, wolves, --Balrogs, or soul-destroying Undead phantoms regard
        you as anything other than -- tasty.

    [He leans close to speak softly in her ear, weighting each word dramatically]

        You really . . . should . . . consider . . .  your options . . . very, very
        carefully. Your Highness.

Luthien: [pale but calm]
        If you're trying to intimidate me, my lord, rest assured -- I am intimidated.
        If you're not trying to intimidate me -- or rather, whether you are or are not
        -- you should stop right now.

Curufin: [tipping her chin up to make her look at him in a less-haughty way]
        Because you don't like it?

        Because Huan doesn't like it.

    [Behind Curufin's ear there is a loud growl.]

        You should really learn some manners, Lord Curufin. It's sad that four and a
        half centuries' experience here hasn't taught you the courtesy of a Mortal. One
        tends to think that what mere living hasn't managed to convey, yet might be
        learned in a very sharp lesson -- rather quickly, I dare say.

    [Curufin looks slowly over his shoulder, confirming the hostile situation]

Curufin: [trying the masterful approach]
        Down, boy! Down--

        Huan, would you be so kind as to show milord to the door? And through it as well?

    [Huan shoves between them and edges over enough to stagger Curufin backwards;
    Luthien gives him a grateful pat on the withers before he moves in and starts
    herding Curufin with irresistable force out into the hallway]

        I'm sorry, my rustic Doriath accent must have confused him -- did I say "show"
        or "shove," milord?

Curufin: [patronizing]
        Your Highness, I hope that you will carefully consider, in cool rationality
        and mature calculation, what we have discussed -- rather than placing your
        faith in dumb brutes of uncertain loyalty.

Luthien: [defiantly]
        Only my relatives' loyalty has ever been in doubt, Lord Curufin . . . of

Huan: [blocking the opening, looks at Luthien and barks]

        Yes, Huan, please close the door as well.

    [She waits until Curufin can't see her before sagging back against the wall -- but
    only for an instant, before she pulls herself together and resumes frantically, if
    uselessly, pacing the rooms, checking the ventilators and chimneys again to prove to
    herself that she hasn't overlooked any avenue of escape. Huan follows her, hovering,
    with a worried expression.]


        --Hence, and spurnéd hither, Lord Curufin soon hath proved
        that Elves, no less than Men, hold well the power to self-delude . . .

    [The royal apartments -- Celebrimbor is here, as well as Celegorm, who keeps giving
    his nephew wary, hostile looks. The younger Elf is calmly perusing a notebook, while
    his uncle paces; there is the air of a recently concluded argument and momentary truce
    about the room. Curufin enters, looking a bit as though he has a bad taste in his mouth.]

Celegorm: [nervously]

        It's a start -- progress was made. I'm sure she'll see reason, once she's been
        left to think it over in peace and quiet for a bit.


        You didn't say anything about -- Huan.

    [silence -- he looks sharply at his brother]

        Did you know he's defected?

    [Celegorm makes a gloomy noise]

        He menaced me, you know.

    [His brother does not answer]

        --You too, eh?

Celebrimbor: [turning a page of the book he's reading]
        Perhaps the fact that two who could be said to represent the Powers most closely
        on this shore are dead set against you might just perchance to indicate something.

Curufin: [rounding on him]

Celebrimbor [wilfully misunderstanding]
        Oh, I'm not completely certain, but something along the lines of -- this is a very
        bad, bad idea --

        This is for your benefit, boy, don't forget -- your fortunes are as much at stake
        as the rest of our House, and you stand to gain no less by consolidation of our
        resources and the realms of the Eldar in Middle-earth.

Celebrimbor: [vague smile]
        My benefit? I had all the benefits I required before your -- rebellion.

Celegorm: [hotly]
       -- Look, you ungrateful whelp, you can just betake yourself to the kennels if you're
        too good for --

Curufin: [icy]
        Oh, I know very well that you can be bought like that damned Hound with gifts
        and flattery: that fool cousin of ours gave you unlimited workspace and raved
        over every least thing you made as though he'd made it himself, and you lapped
        it all up -- never thinking about how it looked to his credit, having a Feanorian
        artist at his beck and call --

Celebrimbor: [disgusted]
        You really do see everything through your own unique, bent prism, don't you, Father?

    [he makes a marginal note in his book, shaking his head slightly]

        You're part of this family, and you're just as bound by the Oath as your uncles
        and I are. Do not forget it.

Celebrimbor: [ironic smile]
        Am I? I suppose I am, at that.

    [gets up to leave]

Curufin: [suspicious look]
        Where are you going?

        I've got a class to teach in half an hour -- I need to get ready for it.

Curufin: [meaningfully]
        I do trust that that is all you are planning on doing?

Celebrimbor: [bitter]
        Don't worry -- I can no more stand to think of her Highness wandering barefoot
        and helpless in the wilds than you can.

    [as he goes to leave the suite Celegorm gets in his way and blocks him, giving him
    a glower and making him go around, in a little dominance display, calling after
    him scornfully:]


Curufin: {pouring drinks for them both]
        Don't let him get to you. I don't know -- this younger generation. They don't have
        our nerve. I'd almost prefer it if he'd defy me, you know. At least that would be
        something. He's just too much like his mother, all pious disapproval and no
        willingness to do anything. --Here.

    [hands his brother the glass; they share a look of mutual support and frustration]

        Someday -- they'll be lining up to apologize to us. All of 'em.

        Here's to then!

    [They toss back the liquor in toast.]

        So . . . what do we do now?

Curufin: [smiling]
        You -- do whatever you like. I've an idea of mine to follow up on.


        Subtlety well-practised surer may, like water under stone,
        unset secure foundations than shall be easily o'erthrown
        by merest force, with but misdoubt--

    [A conservatory, so to speak, with sculpture gardens in beds of indoor plants and
    lots of water. Finduilas and her fiance are there, having made up, sitting next
    to a pond feeding fish. Curufin enters on the farther side and begins walking along
    the paths, apparently oblivious or unconcerned by their presence. Gwindor notices
    him and begins to get angry.]

Gwindor: [quietly]
        Come on, Faelivrin, let's go.

Finduilas: [normal voice]
        We only just got here, Gwin, what are you talking about?

    [he glances significantly over at Curufin]

        It's getting crowded.

Finduilas: [quiet too]
        You can't change things by refusing to accept them. Or by letting yourself be
        controlled through your reactions.

        I can determine my own circumstances.

        Well, so can I.

        I'm going to the pels. --Won't you come along? and inspire me?

    [she shrugs, looking frustrated]

        I don't like the Armory. It's loud and it smells of oil and there's nothing
        for me to do there.

    [he raises an eyebrow]

        Well, except watch you.

        I always come to all your musical affairs.

Finduilas: [tiredly]
        But it bores me, Gwin.

    [pause -- smaller voice:]

        And I don't like seeing you get hit.

    [Gwindor's expression changes from annoyed to indulgent. He gives her a quick kiss
    and picks up his cloak, managing to combine slinging it over his shoulder with the
    bow of courtesy to the Son of Feanor, thus spoiling the effect of the gesture entirely.
    Curufin however only returns it without seeming to notice the slight. After the other
    lord has left the cavern he strolls over to where Finduilas is tossing crumbs to the
    goldfish rather more emphatically than necesary.]

Finduilas: [sharply]
        Don't say anything.

        About what?

    [Finduilas gives him a Look, but his expression is as innocent as his voice. She still
    watches him suspiciously. Putting one foot on the bench he leans over, frowning at the
    surface of the pool for a moment, before speaking, guaranteeing her attention.]

        I wanted to talk to you about our cousin of Doriath.

    [her face becomes even more wary]

        --Have you noticed signs of increasing instability in her behaviour?


        I -- I know you're loyal, and I know you care about her, and I'm not asking you to
        betray any confidences. I'm only remarking on what I've noticed, and others . . .
        and wondering if your concern for her shall not outweigh your distaste for me.
        Because -- regardless -- we are both committed to the good of our families and our
        people, and both matters are united in the person and problem of her Highness, and
        your greater closeness to her may well give you the information, and the ability,
        that is needed to assist her.

    [Finduilas looks troubled]

        You do grant that she's in need of help, don't you?

    [shedoesn't exactly nod agreement, but her silence answers]

        Have you -- found a -- certain wildness, a lack of touch with reality, in her
        speech lately? I -- I have to ask, because I've just come from talking with
        the Princess myself, and . . . she doesn't seem to be speaking the same language
        as the rest of us at all. --And I'm not making asinine jokes about her accent.

    [Finduilas sighs heavily, shakes her head]

Finduilas: [ironic emphasis]
        Where to begin?

    [As the camera pulls back, Curufin takes a seat on the bench without any sign of
    offense from the Regent's daughter, who is declaiming with animated gestures.]


        Contending with her fair cousin's soft disdain,
        Tinuviel strives to prove, as doth complain,
        that Elf no less than Man in that domain
        may smile and smile, and yet a villain remain --

    [Luthien's apartments. Finduilas is sitting in one of the chairs of the solar,
    looking sympathetic-yet-sceptical as Luthien strides up and down in front of her,
    gesticulating as she speaks]

        And then he says, not outright, but just as clearly as if he had, that they'll
        never let me go--!

Finduilas: [frowning]
        Do you think you could sit down perhaps?

Luthien: [stops &  stares]
        ? ? ?

        Or at least stop walking back and forth? It's very distracting.

        Finduilas! Celegorm would not let me go, told me I'd not only like it but wanted
        it, and his brother instead of apologizing for him, told me to be grateful for
        the attention. --Are you sure they're not possessed? Maybe they got caught after
        the Battle and nobody's realized they've been brainwashed. But -- no -- I'm sure
        Finrod would have seen it right off. I guess they're just evil without any
        assistance from Morgoth.

        Oh, I'm sure you must have misunderstood. They're highborn as well as
        High-Elven -- they wouldn't do such things.

Luthien: [incredulous]
        You're not listening to me again. You're just ignoring everything
        inconvenient and unpleasant -- as usual. Don't you hear what I'm saying?
        Or am I not real to you, either? Because I'm not one of you exalted Noldor?
        Do you see us native Middle-earth people as somewhere above trees, and perhaps
        above animals, but not necessarily, depending on whether they're your animals
        or not? Because that's what I'm getting from you.

        How can you say such things! You really, really have no--

    [breaks off at a loss for the right word]

        --Shame? Respect? Manners? No. I have wisdom. Which is not a comforting or
        easy or light burden at all. Now, let's get this straight: your cousins have
        menaced me with the threat of being forced to become Celegorm's bride, willing
        or not -- with that my sole choice. If that happens, there will be bloodshed --
        and lots of it. You cannot imagine how much will follow. If my father was upset
        enough to threaten any of us with death who would help me escape from Doriath to
        join Beren, he will not stop at disapproving words when he finds that the sons
        of Feanor are now his sons-in-law. You've never seen him go to war. I have. He
        hasn't needed to for a very long time but he hasn't forgotten how. Trust me.

    [brief pause]

Finduilas: [sharply]
        Well, that would rather put an end to his superiority about kinslaying, wouldn't
        it? He would hardly be able to look down on the Feanor clan after that.

        I rather suspect he would consider it poetic justice. Regardless -- the only
        thing Beren ever did to my father was have the misfortune of attracting my
        attention and affections. He never killed any of his family or friends, never
        annexed any of our property with the threat of further invasion and the hint
        that we should consider ourselves lucky to keep what we had, never disdained
        to address him directly -- and my father was still angry enough to have him
        killed for his presumption in wishing to marry me, if I hadn't intervened.

    [frowns thoughtfully]

        --Though no doubt a good deal of that was the fact that he wasn't willing to
        get angry at me and had to take it out on the next-best target. Now -- add to
        everything else the fact that Lords Curufin and Celegorm have taken over
        Nargothrond and dispossed your uncle, who's the only one of your lot who treats
        us with appropriate respect and despite everything has remained a close friend
        of my father's, which I fully admit is not always easy, and the rest of you don't
        seem to give a damn that he's almost certainly a prisoner of the Enemy and may be
        dead -- and ask yourself, why my father should balk at sending Captain Mablung
        in with everything he's got, to smash this place open like an anthill?


Finduilas: [defensive-hostile]
        ...He couldn't, anyway.

Luthien: [bluntly]
        Do you really want to stake everything on that? I've not seen anyone here to
        match our best. I'd not set any of your guards against Beleg Cuthalion -- nor
        would I pit them against Mablung, either, Noldor or not. I'm not very impressed
        at all, except for Huan -- Oh, but I forgot! all of your best Elves did go
        with your King. And Beren. I would be very afraid, if I were you.

        You don't understand.

        I note you're not contradicting me -- not about any of it.

Finduilas: [rises]
        I can't talk to you when you're being like this. Please try to understand -- we're
        only concerned for you, for your well-being. We're not trying to make you miserable,
        we're trying to help you.

Luthien: [earnestly]
        Finduilas, have you ever had an original thought in your life?

    [Finduilas sighs and shakes her head, going towards the door]


    [the other Elf-princess stops and waits]

        If it were Gwin -- would you sit here and pretend you didn't know?

    [With a look of sisterly exasperation, Finduilas leaves. Luthien resumes pacing.
    After a few turns she stops, snaps her fingers, and goes to get the basket of
    embroidery supplies. With the small scissors she cuts out a hank of hair from
    one side and quickly begins knotting the short strands around the door handle,
    humming quietly as she does so:]

            Had I the gold in yonder mountain
               where gold and silver is there for countin'
            I could not count for thought of thee --
               mine eyes so full, I could not see

           I love my father, I love my mother,
            I love my sister I love my brother,
            I love my friends and relatives too --
               I'll forsake them all, and go with you

        --Huan? Would you come here, please?

    [She cuts some of the longer hairs from his coat and ties them into her Working.]

            Come all ye fair and tender maidens
               take a warning how you court young men:
            They're like a star on a summer's evening
               first they'll appear and then they're gone

            If I'd of known before I courted
               that love it was such a killing thing
            I'd of locked my heart in a silver casket
               and pinned it shut with a silver pin --

    [At the last she sticks an embroidery needle into the knots, almost like the pin of
    a latch. She tries the door, and as she expects can open it but cannot pass through
    from her side.]

        Crazy, is it? I'll give them crazy --

    [loudly down the hallway:]

        What ho guards! Make haste!

    [They come warily up, remembering the last time she pulled something on them.]

        Yes, your Highness?

Luthien: [thinks for a moment]
    I don't like the firewood that's been given me. Take it away and bring me better.
    This is . . . much too noisy --

Guards: [dubious looks at each other]
        Er, yes, of course, my lady --

    [One of them approaches to come in, the other remaining to obstruct the doorway.
    The first guard finds that he cannot come within two paces of the threshold, as
    though a high wind (or a force field) were driving him back.]


    [She closes the door, indicates that Huan should try it, and watches wistfully
    as he paws open the panel and goes through, and then comes back into the suite.
    Luthien nods in satisfaction at this test of her Work, and slams the door very
    loudly. Oblivious to -- or rather unconcerned with -- the growing disturbance in
    the hallways outside, she goes to the northern wall of her solar and springs up
    to stand on the bench in front of the stone "window" on that side, resting her
    right hand on the surface of the carved horizon:]

            What hills, what hills are those, my love?
               those hills so dark and low?
            -- Those are the hills of hell, my love,
               where you and I must go --


        Small, soft, and weak the feathered singer seems, yet let not one forget
        far-ranging flights 'cross the wide world, above the winds, nor yet
        the strength to stand the weather out, in storms, nor withal be overset--

    [The outside of Luthien's apartments, leading into the solar, where the Sons of
    Feanor are just coming up the hallway with two of the door guards in tow.]

        --What do you mean, it won't open?

First Guard:
        No, milord, it will open -- it's just that no one can go through it.

Second Guard:
        --Except for Huan.

    [Celegorm glares at him]

        Sorry, sir, but it's true.

    [They demonstrate by opening the door to the solar.]

        So what's the problem?

    [Without waiting for an answer he strides forward -- and encounters the same
    resistance effect that they hit before.]

        ? ? ?

Curufin: [frowning]

    [Luthien enters and sits down for a moment in the chair, then gets up and
    lays more splitwood on the fire before going back to work, apparently laying
    out the colors of embroidery silk that have been provided her for comparison
    across the table.]

        What nonsense is this, Your Highness?

    [she does not answer, just keeps working]

Curufin: [sharply]
        My lady Luthien!

    [again no response]


Second Guard:
        Er -- that doesn't work, milord.

    [Curufin gives him a daunting glare]

        And what does?

    [Embarrassed, the Guard beats loudly on the door panel, making a very undignified
    racket -- it gets worse, too, since she doesn't respond at once]

Guard: [trying to act as though he's not yelling at royalty]
        Hey! Hey, you!

    [Obviously anyone going by in the halls outside will not be able to ignore this.
    Luthien gets up and walks to the door, slowly, as though there were nothing unusual
    about any of it.]

Luthien: [glancing around]
        Were you looking for someone, my lords?

Curufin: [sarcastic]
        Ah, yes -- for the Princess of Doriath, Thingol's daughter, one Luthien.

Luthien: [serenely]
        There is no one here who answers to that name, my lord.

        You're standing right there, you crazy girl!

Luthien: [calm]
        That is true. I am standing here.

Curufin: [sighing]
        Your Highness.

    [Luthien looks around the solar]

        Damn! What game are you playing, my lady?

        Oh, I am not playing. Not at all, my lords.

Curufin: [suspicious]
        Who are you, then?

        I am -- she that Beren loves.

        You can't expect anyone to call you that!

        Then call me by my right name.

    [pause -- the brothers look at each other]

Curufin: [sourly]
        Luthien -- Tinuviel.



        What -- what's this nonsense with the doors?

        Surely you can explain that as well as I can -- or if not, your brother
        certainly should be able to.

    [Celegorm is overcome with confusion]

        Oh, now, let us be honest -- I have it on the noblest authority that you've no
        objection to being caught and held --

Luthien: [shaking her head, sighing]
        Finduilas. I suppose she didn't tell you -- or perhaps you're not any better at
        listening than your elder brother -- that unlike either of you, Beren asked me,
        and never held me against my will or spoke me disrespectfully or made demand
        or gave command but was always patient and grateful of my presence--

    [she breaks off; behind Curufin's back Celegorm winces and looks away]

Curufin: [ironic]
        Sounds more like a tame dog than any proper lord, eh, brother?

Luthien: [recovering]
        You're very brave to mock him when he's far from you.

        You can't do this forever, you know.

        I certainly should not need to.

        You'll give it up in a bit, you'll get bored and regret this, believe me.

Luthien: [shrugs]
        Well, we'll find out, won't we?

Celegorm: [desperately]

    [She turns away and walks back to the table and sits down. As she goes back to what
    she was doing the camera reveals that she is copying the map from the round gallery,
    with different colors of thread for different geographical features, pinning them
    into the tabletop as she goes. Huan comes out of the private rooms, and seeing the
    Sons of Feanor, raises his hackles, growling in a low voice.]

Celegorm: [shouting]

    [Luthien uses one pin as a compass and plots out a radius, folds the thread and
    compares it to other distances, shaking her head with a bitter expression. Curufin
    grabs his brother by the arm and hauls him away.]


        The thing demanded, it may hap, may haply prove to be
        Not all that deemed it, of good fortune -- yet too late too see . . .

    [Orodreth's private chambers -- he is occupied with something that looks a bit
    like six abacuses fitted together three-dimensionally and several sets of writing
    tablets, and not looking at all happy about it: this is not the kind of task that
    is sufficiently enjoyable in itself to be worth anything as a distraction from care.
    An attendant enters the room, very apologetically]

Orodreth: [abruptly]
        Did you find them?

        Er -- no, sir, not yet, unfortunately.

        Doesn't anyone know where the original records were kept? It has to have been
        written down somewhere -- it can't all have been only in Edrahil's memory, can
        it? So where are the scrips and tallies?

    [he is angry enough to break the unwritten rule against speaking of the Exiles,
    and not to notice his aide's discomfort, or to care.]

        Highness, we're still looking -- but the Lords Celegorm and Curufin are here
        to see you. About -- about that business ...

        What do they expect me to do about it? Grinding Ice, am I to be given no peace
        nor place of my own to do this work? How are we to keep them furnished with lights
        if I don't know how many we have, do they think?

        I'm sorry -- but they do insist . . . they won't take "no" for an answer.

        Have they ever? Let them come.

    [He leans back in his chair, sighing, and flicks scornfully at one of the markers on
    the abacus, shaking his head. His assistant returns with the brothers and goes to the
    side of his master's chair, defensive]

Orodreth: [bleakly bland]
        I understand that the Princess Luthien has locked herself in her suite of
        apartments from the inside, as you've locked her into them from without, and
        that the Hound Huan is the only individual she will permit free entry to,
        and that he permits no one entry with him. Is there in fact a state of siege
        obtaining in my sister's quarters, or am I misinformed?

Curufin: [huffy and a bit defensive]
        Well, it's not a siege, exactly -- the suite has all the amenities, including
        water, and she still allows room service to bring her meals, and we're not
        starving her or anything, of course!

Celegorm: [muttering to himself]
        No, she just eats almost nothing and won't talk --

Orodreth: [grim smile]
        Ah. So it's a Leaguer.

    [long, long silence]

        I'm sure you'll continue to keep me as well appraised of the situation. Do feel
        free to go on wasting my time, though, since you always do. Or did you want
        something from me besides approval and moral support this time?


        Cousin, stop right there. If you want my job, then as I've told you, show you
        know what it entails and start doing some work. I don't think you have a jot
        of a clue as to what is involved in it, and how much needs to be done. The former
        Steward seems to have found it easier to keep track of everything the old-fashioned
        way, evidently due to the fact that the people he assigned the task kept deciding
        to reorganize everything by some new-devised system of their own, which they then
        abandoned through boredom halfway through.

    [flings his stylus down on the table]

        You wonder why I'm not the same cheerful soul I used to be? Really? Why I'm not
        grateful for this honor, this sudden ascencion to power? Because I am aware of
        what power entails. You want one small, negligible example of what I'm contending
        with? Apart from the personality clashes, and the fact that my daughter's future
        father-in-law is one of the people I'm going to have to rail at over this mess?
        There are only half the year's lighting requirements in stock -- as far as we can
        tell. So I ought to go and set people quickly to making up the difference, which
        means taking them off other tasks and diverting a great deal of resources. But I
        can't believe that, because my predecessor was nothing if not thorough and I cannot
        accept that either Lord Edrahil or my brother would have allowed things to get to
        such a state, and that means that they're somewhere, only due to the Sindarin-style
        record keeping no one here is certain where!

    [full rant mode]

        I know you think that I'm dull, the way you think that everyone who merely
        supports your lifestyle of leisure and doesn't participate in it is dull -- but
        you know, you know what's going to be really dull around here is if we don't
        have enough lighting this winter -- and that is just the beginning! I've got
        schedules missing for every storehouse in the City. Do you see these tables? Do
        you see these figures? This is what I'm having to reconstruct, while you play at
        being Orome or fiddle around making knick-knacks with my brother's tools -- or
        kidnap native royalty for your perverse amusment.

    [gripping the edge of the desk to keep from throwing something]

        I am trying to keep this City alive -- and I am so far out of my depth I can't
        see shore. I though it could be little different from managing a garrison --
        evidently, however, I was much mistaken. What are you here for, anyhow? You've
        told me to leave your House's personal affairs alone -- surely you're not coming
        to me now to ask me to interfere, are you?


        Just what, in any case, could you possibly expect me to do?

        You could tell her you'll have the surrounding walls taken down--

Orodreth: [standing up]
        Starless Night of the Gloomweaver! You are not meddling with the structural
        supports of the City, and if I so much as hear a whisper of covert demolitions
        and walls being touched -- there will be a Kinslaying on this side of the family,
        I promise you. You really have no notion at all, do you, of what you're dealing
        with? This isn't Tirion, dammit, the rules of architecture you studied at home
        don't mean a thing when you're working with natural formations of integral stone,
        the stresses and counterweights and bracings--! You don't know which walls are
        supporting and which aren't, and you haven't spent Great Years studying them --
        or studied with those who have instead. Touch the walls, and you touch Nargothrond,
        and then -- our understanding is at an end.

Curufin: [warningly]
        And what exactly do you think would happen then?

Orodreth: [smiling through his teeth]
        Very expensive damages all round.

Curufin: [back to light tone]
        You're beginning to sound like your great-uncle, you know.

        I'm beginning to understand my great-uncle much better these days. Now please
        leave me to my lofty role as Regent, unless you'd like to be working in the dark
        come Sun-return. Solve your own self-created problems for once.

    [Orodreth goes back to comparing tallies and tablets, scratching off duplicate entries,
    and ignoring the brothers. Disgruntled, the Sons of Feanor leave, saying as they pass
    through into the outer hallway, loudly:]


        --Pathetic to think we're related to him.

        That too.


        When will is set, on course far-fixed, howsoever rash it be,
        no Power that reigns may check, of Earth, of under, or amid the Sea--

    [The brothers, not happy, enter, still discussing from outside in the halls]

        Do you think that things really are that bad as he says?

Curufin: [headshake]
        No, he's just being melodramatic again. It can hardly be more work to run than
        a couple of provinces, after all. And that certainly never took such full-time
        investment as he's claiming.


        --Unless, perhaps, it does -- for him.

        So what are we going to do? This is -- ridiculous. And it's not the way I wanted
        it at all... This stupid business with her refusing to answer to her real name
        now -- we didn't even tell Orodreth about that.


        "Leaguer" --!

        We could break through it if we wanted to, of course.

    [Celegorm slumps down in his favorite chair]

Celegorm: [glum]
        No. It's a lost cause. Even if she would listen to me, she's so locked herself
        into this melodramatic pose of hers that she has to defend and believe what
        she says, her pride won't let her do otherwise.

    [jumps up abruptly and folds his arms, scowing at the fire]

        Damn! but you can tell she's Thingol's daughter, no question.

Curufin: [thoughfully]
        No, I don't think that's it. . . I think she's more reasonable than Elwe, when
        it comes down to it. All right -- say she has some mystical bond of telepathy,
        from her mother's side perhaps, and she really can sense Barahirion halfway
        across Middle-earth. Well, then -- she'll know when he's dead. All we have to
        do is -- wait.

        What good would that do? She's being so bloody stubborn I'd not be surprised
        if she means to wait to the end of Arda --

Curufin: [grinning]

    [Celegorm frowns at him]


Celegorm: [delighted realization]
        Oh! Right! I'd forgot all about that -- he won't be there, he can't, and she'll
        just have to Face Facts then, won't she? Hah! --How long do you think it will
        take? I don't fancy, what, another fifty years of this namecalling and moping
        and making outrageous Scenes--

        --Fifty? You're joking. As a prisoner of the Enemy? You've seen what slavery
        does to the Kindred -- I'd be shocked if it was even a year. And then -- it'll
        be up to you to console her.

Celegorm: [residual sanity intervening]
        Do you think I've really a chance? Or will I just be blamed for it?

Curufin: [shaking head]
        No, once she's free of whatever bizarre mental influence such an unnatural
        betrothal has created, I'm sure she'll be grateful --- though she'll never
        admit it: she does have Elu's pride, I grant you. She won't want anyone to
        remember her embarassing foray into madness, most like.

        And . . . Huan?

    [gloomily angry]

        --I still can't believe that he turned on me. He saved my life at the Sudden
        Flame, remember that? It's really strange that a mortal would prove more loyal
        than a Hound of Valinor . . .

        How can he object, when she has no objections?

    [pats his brother reassuringly on the shoulder]

        And needless to say, with you to distract her she'll have no reason to think
        about it all. Tell you what -- I'm so confident I'll go ahead and start on the
        maquettes for the rings, hmm? Something to symbolize both Houses, the most
        elegant things you can imagine, and of course she'll be overwhelmed, never
        having seen the like here.

        --Sublime, meaningful, exquisitely-crafted and staggeringly beautiful?

        --You got it. Now why don't you go off for a ride while the weather's still clear
        and clear the cobwebs from your soul, and by the time you get back I'll have the
        rough drafts ready for you to look at. Sounds good?

Celeborn: [smiles]
        Sounds like an excellent plan. --See you in a bit.

    [He leaves. Curufin goes to the reorganized shelves and starts getting down items
    for sculpting, humming a simple melody as he does -- then checks, as he realizes
    what tune it is -- "Ten Thousand Miles", stuck in his head. He snorts, and goes on
    working in silence.]


    [The great solar, in the alcove near the fountain]

    [Celebrimbor, surrounded by acolytes, suddenly gets up and walks away from the circle
    without explanation -- all stare after him, and share perplexed looks when he does
    not return to the session.]

        Captive and disarmed, the Dancer of Doriath yet concedeth not defeat--
        lacking her Work, still she holdeth, wieldeth will and power to entreat --

    [Luthien's suite. She is sitting on the floor with her feet on one of the jambs of
    the open door, her back against the other, talking loudly though no one can be seen
    except Huan, whom she is not addressing, though he is lying next to her with his
    head on her lap as she brushes him.]

        --So first they started trouble all up and down Aman, and then there was the
        business with nobody getting to see the Silmarils because Feanor was trying
        to punish you for not appreciating him, and then there was the Night of Darkness
        and the Kinslaying and then you got abandoned on the other side by him and his
        sons and then you had to cross the Helcaraxe on foot which is personally the
        most insane thing I ever heard of but I heard that you lot insisted, and you
        wouldn't have made it over without my cousins going with you and looking after
        you and so of course! when the Sons of Feanor move in and start doing the same
        old thing, bullying and shoving and insisting on getting all their own way, you
        think they're just wonderful, and you give them everything that Finrod worked to
        give you and you pretend that it was that way all along. Oh yeah, that makes
        lots of sense!


        --You can hide around the corner, but I still know you're there!

    [nomal voice:]

        It's easier to say -- the girl from Doriath is crazy, than to say -- We're
        faithless traitors.

    [There is a sound of muffled exclamation and movement from down the hall, as though
    someone started to respond and then stopped -- or maybe was stopped.]

        -- Perhaps I'm not being fair. Maybe you were with the House of Feanor all along
        and only came here as guests yourselves, and that's why they put you here to watch
        me and why you think you can't pay heed to my rights. But you're just wrong, if
        that's the case. You can't claim that you get to ignore the obligatons that bind
        even the gods themselves, of justice and honesty and hospitality and not standing
        by in idleness as someone else does something wrong and pretending you don't know
        and aren't involved -- all in the name of honour. How is that "honorable"? Why don't
        you explain it to me, being just a poor simple Dark-elf out of the woods and all?


        I know you can hear me!

    [There is no answer. Shakes her head. Warningly:]

        All right, then.


            There were three ra'ens sat on a tree
               and they were black as they might be
            Said one of them unto his mate --
               Where shall we our breakfast take?

                    --In yonder greening field,
            there lies a Knight slain under his shield.
                --His hawks they do so fiercely fly,
            there's nary a fowl does come him nigh--

            His hounds they lie down at his feet --
            His hounds they lie down at his feet --
            His hounds they lie down at his feet
               so well they do their master keep!

Huan: [interrupting her]
        [loud sharp barks]

Luthien: [kissing the top of his head]
        --Yes, you're a good dog too.


            Then there came a fallow doe,
               as great with young as she might go --
            She took him up upon her back
               and carried him beside the loch

            She buried him in morning-time
               and she was dead ere evensong-time --

        [more barking, louder]

        I know, I know -- I know it's no good, but I have to try. I don't know if
        they really don't care, or if there really is a spell like Celebrimbor said,
        or if this is some kind of madness or poison from living too long underground.
        --And it doesn't really matter, whatever it is. I mean, they did all leave their
        families back in Aman, so maybe they can't understand what I feel for Beren --

    [sings to herself:]

            Oh the leaves they will wither
              -- Roots will decay
            And the beauty of a young maid
              will soon fade away --
                Oh, will soon fade away --

        [small, nonstop whines]


        In these days of order overset, of Misrule's rule,
        the City's lawful lord is reckoned only fool.

    [The Regent's Office. Gwindor is standing much less truculently (but if possible
    more worried) before Orodreth's desk. The Regent looks exhausted and grim -- or
    angry but in control of it, perhaps.]

        What have you discovered?

        Aside from the fact that Curufin's so paranoid that half the time he hardly
        seems to trust himself -- which, added to the usual overconfidence and assumption
        of cowed awe at the aura of the family name, manifests itself in some rather
        erratic behavior patterns?

Orodreth: [sharply]
        I was referring specifically to the question of this reported -- marriage
        alliance -- purposed between the Lady Luthien and Lord Celebrimbor.

Gwindor: [chastened]
        Yes, sir. --According to fairly reliable sources, the Lords of Aglon-and-Himlad
        did send messengers east, under the pretext of assigning liaison staff to the
        watchtowers. However, there is no way to ascertain that they were sending to
        Doriath, and not to their brothers, although there are suggestive indications
        from various overheard cryptic remarks and careless talk among their Household.


        To put it bluntly, sir, I don't think that her Highness of Doriath is insane.



        Sir, what are we going to do?

        For the present -- nothing, but observe.

Gwindor: [outraged]

Orodreth: [dry]
        At the present instant, her Highness -- and Huan -- have the situation in hand.
        Unless you believe that you and your following can do a better job of defending
        her than the Hound of Valinor?


        For the present, you will maintain your staff's unobtrusive presence among her
        guards, monitoring the situation constantly and reporting to me, unless the
        situation changes, and not until then.

        And if that should happen?

        Then -- I will be compelled to take action.

    [long silence -- Gwindor looks hopeful]

        I would prefer to trust that it will not come to that, that sanity will reassert
        itself over the grandiose ambitions of our -- guests, and that affairs will shortly
        return to such normality of state as formerly obtained.

        Do you really believe that your cousins will behave with either reason or good
        will? --Sir.

    [The Regent reaches over to flick a bead on the abacus-construct, with a lopsided smile]

Orodreth: [ironic]
        No, my lord. Hence your orders.

    [Gwindor bows and strides out; Orodreth remains staring into the distance for a moment
    before turning back to his paperwork with a sigh.]


tt>    Gower:
        Like a lasting storm, the world's travail
        about Tinuviel doth whirl, her peace assail
        and all that's hers of rightful honours owed
        whir away, as fallen leaves along the road.

    [Celegorm is standing outside the door of Luthien's solar, still dressed in his
    outdoor gear, fresh from the hunt. Huan is couchant inside, like a sheepdog just
    waiting to hear "Coom by," and Luthien is standing behind him, though one has to
    assume that it's her because she has her blue mantle wrapped all the way around her
    and pulled so far forward that her face cannot be seen, rather like one of the famous
    Mourners statues on John of Burgundy's tomb. The effect is extremely creepy. The elder
    son of Feanor doesn't seem to notice: when the scene opens he's talking away quite

        . . . And then you'll be queen of greater Beleriand, forever and ever, and we'll
        have the grandest times together, go anywhere in the country without worrying
        about wolves or worse, and I'll have the Silmarils set for you to wear and
        no one in Arda will compare with you, you'll be like Varda herself and we'll
        make Middle-earth better than Aman ever was, I promise. I'll give you the whole
        world, and you'll never be unhappy or afraid or hungry again. What do you say to
        that, hey?

    [she does not answer]

        Come on, Luthien, don't pretend you're deaf, it just makes you look the proper fool!

Luthien: [sings]
            A North Country maid to the City had stray'd
                although with her nature it did not agree
            O she wept and she cried and most bitterly she sighed--
                I would I were home in the North Country--

    [Celegorm tenses, but no mysterious compulsion kicks in and he smiles]

                --Oh the oak and the ash and the bonnie ivy tree,
                    They flourish at home in my own country--

        It won't work, I'm not one of your weak-minded Grey Kindred. Listen, Luthien,
        you know you're being outrageous and stubborn and everyone thinks you're a silly
        girl and half-crazy on top of that. Now I understand it's hard to admit you're
        wrong -- I wouldn't like to do it -- but please just -- be reasonable, would you,
        and look at the facts. First, there's the prestige. Can't get away from that.

    [Throughout this exchange, Luthien continues answering his rhetoric with verses of
    "North Country Maid," while Celegorm carries on as if she hadn't replied.]

            But still I do see that a husband I might wed,
                if I to the City my mind I would tame--

        And going with that, the cachet of House Feanor, there's the tangible benefits.
        What could he offer you? An empty title, the ownership of a little snippet of
        mountainous lands held completely by the Enemy, and no likelihood of ever gettin'
        it back, what with no army, no people, and no luck. Now, granted, we've suffered
        some setbacks, but my family still holds large strategic areas of Endor and massive
        resources, completely apart from Narog.

            But I'll only have a lad that is North Country bred,
                or I will not marry but stay as I am--

        And then, when we unite your people and ours, we'll form an alliance that will
        finally be able to coordinate properly and tackle the problem of the North in a
        rational manner, not all this nonsense of independent commands and whatnot.

                --Oh the oak and the ash and the bonnie ivy tree,
                    They flourish at home in my own country--

        So there's the common good aspect all covered, and then there's you to think of,
        you can't really be happy traipsing about in rags and working yourself into a
        fret, going off your feed -- you really want looking-after, and I will make sure
        that everything you could possibly desire is yours.

            A maiden I am and a maid I'll remain,
                until the North Country once more I do see--

        And finally, not to be arrogant about it or anything, but -- who else is there
        who matches up, just on a personal basis? I mean, we complement each other
        perfectly, and not just in looks -- you've got courage, too, and the strength
        almost of the Noldor. There's no two ways about it. It's meant to be.

            For here in this place I'll never see the face
                of him that is meant my love for to be--

Celegorm: [tolerantly]
        Oh, you're not still sore at me for gettin' a bit forward the other day, are
        you, Princess?

                --Oh the oak and the ash and the bonnie ivy tree,

Celegorm: [tolerantly]
        You know I didn't mean anything by it, you know perfectly well I wouldn't
        ever do anything -- improper -- to you.

                    They flourish--

    [breaks off at once: when she speaks it is in a very stern and austere manner,
    without any hesitation or emotion, as one speaking in full royal authority --
    or, possibly, even higher.]

        You yourself did not know what you would have done, Celegorm son of Feanor, so
        do not try to unsay the past with untruths. I am only speaking to you now that
        I may appeal to whatever is left of your true nature. Release me and give me
        what I demand, and you may avoid full-out war with my House, and mitigate the
        greater Curse that grows with every treason you commit.

        But I can't -- you don't understand, just -- please, give me a chance--

        You lied to me. You don't get a second chance.

Celegorm: [hotly]
        I didn't lie to you!

        Worse, then -- you deliberately used the truth to deceive me. How can you even
        call yourself one of us, then, if you misuse the gift of speech so?

Celegorm: [defensive]
        But one isn't obliged to tell everything to everyone -- it's perfectly all right
        to keep secrets, from strangers, or to mislead the Enemy.

        So I am an enemy. Thank you for stating that plainly.

        --That wasn't what I meant, dammit--

        It's far too late for stranger, and clearly you are not my friend.

Celegorm: [winningly]
        I could be, if you'd let me.

Luthien: [sings]
            The hart he loves the high wood,
            The hare he loves the hill,
            The knight loves well his bright sword --
                The lady loves her will.

Celegorm: [cajoling]
        Come on, Luthien, don't sulk and carry on in this -- this ridiculous fashion,
        hiding yourself like some kind of freak--

        You look at me and you do not see me, Celegorm Turcofin Feanorion, because you
        have never seen me as I am -- only as a rough stone to be polished and made fit
        for your tastes.

        I see . . . a beautiful Elf who deserves far better than a backwoods reserve,
        who deserves the finest things that civilization can give her, who deserves
        to be protected from fell things, not exposed to every risk and danger in
        Middle-earth -- and at the same time to be celebrated throughout the land, not
        hidden away like a dusty mathom in a storeroom!

Luthien: [passionate for the first time]
        That's what I mean! You refuse to understand that I am Sindar, that I belong
        to this land, to these woods, that they are real and powerful and not some
        worthless wastelands fit only to serve as a place for you to go hunting in,
        and that we have built a civilization in them that may not be the same as
        yours but is no less its equal! You don't know me, you cannot know me, you've
        never seen me in my own dominion, in my own home -- you never risked life and
        limb following the forest's call to find me--

Celegorm: [interrupting her]
        --Well, not much of a chance of that, what with your father's Ban on us!

Luthien: [half angry, half exasperated pity]
        Before that. You could have come directly to Doriath and paid your respects to my
        parents like the Finarfinions. You could have done us homage, and learned from us,
        and not alienated half the country with your arrogance.

    [reluctant but honest as always:]

        And -- you would have met me. And perhaps -- perhaps things might have gone
        otherwise, between -- all of us.


        And what would have happened, when Sha -- when your father found out about the
        unpleasantness back in Aman?

Luthien: [shrugs]
        Who can say? It would have been different from what did happen. Wisdom can say
        no more than that, ever. But you chose a different path, and a different self,
        and now -- it's too late.

        But it isn't too late. That's what I'm trying to tell you.

        It was too late before you set eyes on me. It was too late -- the instant you
        betrayed your Kindred a second time, and Beren with them. It was too late long
        before I entered the Gates of Nargothrond. I would tear down this whole City,
        if I could, to escape from here.

Celegorm: [indulgently]
        Silly girl, that's what the Enemy would do. Whose side are you on, anyway?

        Beren's. And anyone else who's with us.

Celegorm: [cold -- the true iron showing through for the first time]
        Beren's a goner. Your future lies with me. With us, not that rabble of half-Noldor
        and humans and illiterates who refused the Call that's let Beleriand go to wrack
        and ruin.

        You will never win me, body or soul. My heart is with Beren, not here, even as I
        hold his, and you can't divide us, Celegorm Turcofin!

Celegorm: [grinning]
        Don't you get it? For someone who prides herself on being so clever you're
        being awfully dense, Luthien. He's mortal. All we've got to do is wait.


        [Low deep growl]

Luthien: [distant and oracular]
        --That is why I could not touch you. Your outward form is still fair, but there
        is nothing left of Eldar within. Refuse the Call? You cannot even hear it!

Celegorm: [confident]
        It'll just be a little while, and then you'll be free of this spell, this
        madness that's got hold of you, and everything will be fine. --You'll see.
        --And you, dog, are going to have to work to get back into my good graces.
        You missed a really excellent chase today, you know.

    [He turns and goes off, whistling. She remains there, standing perfectly still like
    a statue, while Huan looks up at her panting, until finally he gets off the floor and
    starts nudging her to try to get her to move.]


    [The Hall of Morning: the late afternoon sunlight barely makes its way down the
    prisms of the roof to the gallery, giving it a strange subdued and reddish light
    Despite the sunset hour there are several people gathered there -- our seldom-seen
    (but sometimes glimpsed) not-quite-conspirators, or most of them. The Sage is
    standing, with a nervous air, and the Scribe has just risen from the bench across
    from the one where the Ranger is still seated; the Guard is nowhere to be seen.]

        Did you succeed?

Sage: [shakes her head]
        I -- the security was too tight. I couldn't get in.

    [pause. They look at each other, and the Sage looks away.]

        You didn't make the attempt. After all the work I went to making the duplicate--

        --You didn't even try?

Sage: [ugly tone]
        --How many horses did you secure for us?

    [he shuts up]

        What could they have done, if they'd caught you making the switch? Complain
        to the Regent? I told you I should have handled it--

        What you said, may I remind you, was that you were too closely connected through
        your cousin's consort and you'd be immediately associated with any loss--

Scribe: [nonplussed]
        Well. Anyway, that's neither here nor there.


        What were you afraid of? The public humiliation? Surely you don't think they
        could actually do anything to you?

        No, it isn't as though they've has ever killed or injured another of the
        Kindred -- what a ridiculous notion!

Scribe: [hurt]
        You needn't be so sarcastic.

    [They both look around for their missing fourth associate; the Ranger shakes his head.]

        She was right . . . we're worse cowards than either of the sons of Feanor.

    [No one disagrees with him; the light continues to dim on the malcontents of Nargothrond]


        --Though memory a monument outlasting even hardest stone
        eternal may endure, recollection of what once was known
        is sharpest goad: a path of thorns ever freshly sown--

     [Luthien is sitting on the side of her bed, still with the shawl wrapped around her
    like a long veil, looking at Huan, who is lying in front of her with his chin on her
    knees. All the doors of the suite are opened, facing towards the main door, which
    is closed.]

        It's hopeless. I can't dig my way out of here with embroidery needles, I can't
        work stone, I can't even command hearts now without access to my Power -- I've
        exhausted every scrap of possibility and I can't see any way out of here but
        divine intervention at this point. But the best I've ever been able to get has
        been divine nonintervention -- and that made no difference whatsoever, to my
        thinking, except to spare my mother one miserable scene out of more than I can
        count. They're going to die, and I'll never see Beren again, and I can't live
        without him. I've done my best -- and that's no consolation whatsoever.

        [short distressed whines]

Luthien: [taking his face in her hands]
        I'm not blaming you. It wasn't your fault, and I can't begin to tell how
        grateful I've been for your friendship. I just don't know what to do, and --
        I can't bear the waiting --

    [she breaks off, her teeth clenched, breathing hard as she tries not to cry]

Finduilas: [calling through the door]
        --Luthien?  Luthien, you can't lock yourself in there and not see anyone -- it's
        not healthy! We're trying to help you. Luthien!

Luthien: [grimly ferocious]
        That's not my name.

Finduilas: [exasperated]
        Luthien! I'm not going to call you "Nightingale".

        What do you want -- Sparkly?

Finduilas: [resigned]
        Tinuviel. You've got to talk to someone.

        [single bark]

        And Huan doesn't count!

        Go away, Finduilas, I don't want to talk to anyone -- I'm too upset to do
        anything but cry, or sleep.

    [laughs quietly. To herself:]

        Only this time -- it's true.

    [after a few moments she sings very softly:]

            My love said to me -- My mother won't mind
            and my father won't slight you for your lack of kind --
            Then she stepped away from me and this she did say
            -- It will not be long, love, till our wedding day --

    [as the verse ends she shakes her head, smiling bitterly and crying at the same
    time. She lies back on the bed and curls up on her side, sheltering her head with
    her arms and does not move. The lights of the City dim in accordance with the hours
    of darkness outside. Huan gets up and pads out of the room and out of the apartments,
    surprisingly quiet for such a huge creature.]


                         --'Gainst the rising tide of fate some strive
        to stem the flood with sticks, with sand: as well with straws --
        no more than such their efforts shall give pause.

    [Orodreth's Household apartments -- in the Regent's private office, his two nearest
    and dearest are gathered around, Finduilas on a low hassock by the fireplace and
    Gwindor standing behind her, gently rubbing her shoulders. Orodreth looks at them
    with an expression tired and sad but fond; the young people keep looking, inevitably,
    up to the desk behind him where a second mega-abacus has joined the first, and there
    is a shape suspiciously like that of a third on the floor behind it in the shadows of
    the ornamentally-pierced lantern hanging overhead.]

        Were you able to do anything for her? Convey our concern for her? Would she talk
        to you at all?

Finduilas: [shaking her head]
        She still won't answer to any name but the one he gave her, either. You have to
        call her Tinuviel or she doesn't listen. She doesn't listen anyway, though . . .
        I don't understand why she can't compromise . . .

    [the others stare at her, bemused. Defensive:]


Orodreth: [very dry]
        What, exactly, would a compromise look like, under these circumstances?


        Between going and staying there isn't much of a third route, is there?

Finduilas: [exasperated]
        Father. I meant, in principle--

Orodreth: [sighs]
        I'm sorry, my dear. It's been a long couple of bells --

        You look so tired . . . Can't you get someone to help you with all of this?

        I'm afraid that's the problem, not the solution to it.

        I meant . . . us . . . ?

        No, thank you anyway. But I couldn't explain what I've got going on here in
        any way that would easily make sense to you -- I barely grasp it all myself,
        and it would just confuse matters worse if I tried to pass it over right now.
        It's like your glasswork, when it's still soft enough to work with -- if you
        tried to show me what you were doing with it and let me take it on, it would
        be ruined before I'd grasped the situation. --But I do appreciate you offering.

    [Finduilas nods, sadly]

Gwindor: [profoundly apologetic]
        Sir -- I -- I'm so very sorry. I -- my father -- he, well, he hasn't been
        the same -- since my brother . . .

        It -- Gwindor, I'm the last to blame anyone for what his relatives did --
        or didn't -- do. There's more than enough blame to go around right now.

Finduilas: [almost whispering]
        She -- she compares him to the Trees, Father. That can't be right, that
        can't be allowable, can it? What would they say, what would the Powers say
        to that--?

    [Orodreth does not answer -- he has covered his face with his hand, turning his
    head away]

        Sir -- what else could you have done?

        That is what we said after Minas Tirith, is it not? Now -- I do not know.

Gwindor: [thinking aloud]
        But -- there must be something -- someone -- someone else -- thus official
        deniability -- could defy them, could help -- her...

        Do you dare? Will you go, then, down to her door and order aside the guards and
        take horse and ride with her to the Bridge of Sirion and challenge the Master of
        Wolves there, like a knight in one of her mortal songs? What do you think will
        happen to you, then? --But do it, if you dare: how can I forbid you, any more
        than give command?

    [long pause. Gwindor frowning, as though to speak several times -- his expression
    becomes anguished and his posture shifts subtly -- he knows he cannot do it. Abruptly
    he turns, knocking a small table aside impatiently with his foot as he strides towards
    the doors]

Finduilas: [panicky]
        Gwin -- where are you going?

Gwindor: [bitter sarcasm]
        To train in the defense of the City -- is that not my duty?

    [Breathing hard, he goes quickly from the apartments. Finduilas half-rising to follow
    him, sits down again.]

        Should you -- do you need to go talk to him?

    [she shakes her head, definitely]

        It wouldn't do any good right now. It's better just to ignore it and let him work
        it through. You know how moody and impulsive he is sometimes.

    [Orodreth nods]

        Is it really that bad? Surely we'd have noticed, wouldn't we, if things were really
        so disorganized? I never encountered any sign of anything like that . . .

    [she sounds a bit incredulous, a defensive response.]

        And what did you do if you couldn't find something, some needful bit of
        information or necessary item?

Finduilas: [shrugs, not seeing where this is going]
        I asked Gwin if he'd seen it.

        And if he hadn't?

        Then we asked around.

        And if no one knew where it was?


    [her voice goes very quiet]

        --We asked Edrahil.

Orodreth: [nods]
        That is, evidently, what we all did. It's an excellent system, going directly to
        someone who knows precisely what it is you need and where to find it, instead of
        wasting time trying to sort through far more information than you need or know
        how relates or have time to study. Unfortunately -- it's predicated on being able
        to ask that person, and when that is not possible then the system simply does not
        exist. Which is why I am endeavoring to reconstruct it from such small and
        contradictory fragments of information as I have been able to lay hands on.

        But -- wasn't anything written down?

Orodreth: [shaking his head, gestures sweepingly around the room]
        Oh, lots! That's the other half of the problem. Look at all of it, only the visible
        portion of the floe, and think about what could be buried inside. There's
        a surfeit of information there, and I can only assimilate so much of
        it, so quickly. And I keep discovering things that -- had I known earlier --
        might have caused me to decide other than I have done. For example --

    [he picks up a large notebook with a well-worn tooled leather cover and lots of small
    pieces of parchment attached to the pages inside]

        I didn't realize, until I found this, that Finrod kept condensed notes on every single
        conversation relating to the governing of the state, no matter how minor an issue
        it might seem. This is a great help -- or would be -- if it wasn't in chronological
        order. So my only option has been to begin at the most recent date and work through
        backwards, trying to make all the connections myself, since I don't know when anything
        that might prove helpful happened.

    [points across to the half-unpacked chests and shelving]

        --There are many, many more volumes like this.

    [shaking his head]

        Some of them have yet other manuscripts bound into them. Fortunately, some of
        the entries have a sort of indexing, a note referring back to previous relevant
        conversations and the dates, so I've not been working at totally blind random.
        But I might as well.

    [he opens to a bookmarked folio]

        You might remember that I put Lord Telemnar in charge of the Borders, thinking
        that as he was originally of the High King's following, and distant kin to Fingon's
        mother's family, that would avoid any of the problems involved in choosing someone
        from either our side or theirs.

Finduilas: [nodding]
        It made a good deal of sense . . .

Orodreth: [wry]
        Well. Only yesterday did I encounter this set of entries concerning the former
        Lieutenant, whose abilities did not, apparently, reflect his age or seniority
        in terms of time-in-grade and signally failed to endear him with his superior.
        The pith of the discussion is summed up in the lines: "Recommended: Can we give
        him back? Suppose not. Oh well. Allow several more seasons to grow out of it;
        if he doesn't, shunt to Armory desk where arrogant nitpicking rulemindedness
        won't hurt anyone." The note appended to this is only two words: "Agree, sadly."

    [flips back to a later folio]

        Now, here, in another entry, I have the summary of a report concerning a lad from
        one of the local villages, saying "Recommended: Instead of fifth citation for
        above-and-beyond, why not promotion? Five past coincidence, indicates either
        extremely good or extremely lucky; in either case, valuable asset for commander.
        Interviewed: Everything said borne out, yet still uncertain of own authority and
        shy of contradicting superiors. Counter-recommendation: Allow a few more years
        getting used to idea of giving orders to elders, then give own command." If I had
        found that before I promoted Telemnar . . .


        . . . it still wouldn't have done any good.

Finduilas: [whispering]
        Because -- because he went with them . . .

    [Orodreth nods, tosses the notebook aside and leans back, sighing; she is still

        But it doesn't seem possible that so few individuals could make such an enormous
        difference to a -- a whole Kingdom!

        It doesn't seem so -- but like water, one takes such people for granted, until
        they're no longer present. The same few individuals who possessed the fortitude
        requisite to withstand the temptations of fear and sloth alike in adherence to
        their duty now prove -- not entirely surprisingly -- to have been the same who
        took upon themselves additional duties, and to set aside their own self-will
        and goals and recreations to see those duties through to completion. --And we
        who are left muddle along half-blindly, trying to recover from the ruinous
        darkness we have brought upon ourselves, but unwilling to dare the necessary fire--

        That's almost what Luthien . . .

    [trails off]

Orodreth: [attentive]
        What did she say?

        She says there's a cloud over the City, but it's in Nargothrond instead of
        outside. She thinks it comes from living underground . . .

        I'm not surprised she can feel it. But it doesn't come from the caves
        themselves. It began when we betrayed him.

        Please -- don't, father. It -- it wasn't like Alqualonde.

        The fact that it was a bloodless coup doesn't make it any less of one, nor
        does the fact that we said nothing against it change the fact that -- we said
        nothing. Finding no one at your back where you counted on reinforcements can
        be quite equally as bad as finding enemies. No, we chose not to fight, and
        with that we chose the consequences, Sight unseen.

        But what would it have done? Except give the sons of Feanor control over us
        completely, and openly? That wouldn't have been good, would it?

        If I had stood beside him then -- even I, who fled my post and left everything
        our brothers died to save for ruin -- if even such a coward as I could do that,
        -- who can tell who might have followed? -- what might have followed? I cannot.

Finduilas: [strained]
        You're not a coward, father.

        That day -- I was. And worse. --And so Lord Beren goes in my place, at my brother's
        side, and bears my duty and my fate, and I have fled to safety, once again, abandoning
        all. And I tell myself that it is better than the blood of Alqualonde on our floors
        and walls, and it may well be true, and is no comfort at all. And I tell myself that
        Finrod forgave me in that hour, seeing that I could do no else, and know it is the
        truth, and that is worst--

        But it was for the greatest good--

        The greatest good? To send our foremost off undefended, the one of all of us who
        alone knows everything that there is to know about the Realm, about its defenses,
        its workings, of all the myriad connections between this kingdom and the other
        Noldor domains, the strengths and weaknesses of each of us, into danger, and as
        we now know, captivity?

        I don't understand.

        There is nothing about Beleriand, about the War, even after the end of the Siege,
        that Finrod does not have critical information concerning the which, the Enemy
        could never acquire elsewhere and singly. It is not just our safety alone that
        is at risk, however selfishly our first concerns may center there.


        But -- why then haven't they thought of that? Why hasn't it occurred to Lord
        Curufin, at least?


        Or to us . . .

Orodreth: [shrugs]
        I don't know if it's the madness of the Oath at work, or some residual sanity
        preventing them from so much self-deception.

        --Or Luthien's cloud?

    [increasing agitation]

        No one else seems to have realized it either. If -- he --

    [she can't say it]


        --won't we be under attack -- here?

    [her father shakes his head]

        Why? Why not? What do you mean?

        He can't. He doesn't know how. When he's losing -- he doesn't change the rules,
        he changes the game. Not like 'Tariel, going about it with brute force until
        whatever's in the way breaks or moves, willy-nilly --

    [absolute certainty]

        He won't betray us.

        Do you think -- do you think he might escape . . . ?

        I don't know. No one ever has. But if it were anyone--
    [he breaks off]

Finduilas: [frowning]
        But . . .

Orodreth: [guessing her train of thought.
        No, of course I would not prevent them from returning, though I doubt that even the
        gods could say what would come as a result. But in any case -- I think -- he would
        almost certainly leave us to our own devices, to continue on the path we have
        chosen -- just as we were let before.

Finduilas: [slowly]
        This is what he said -- this is what he Saw -- to Aunt 'Tariel, isn't it?

        I am afraid so. If Nargothrond is annexed by the House of Feanor, then what,
        indeed, remains of the realm he built?

Finduilas: [shaking her head]
        --Is there any way that things could have turned out differently?


Orodreth: [flat]
        We should never have let the Feanorions into Nargothrond.

        But -- we couldn't turn them away. He said that himself -- what else could we
        have done?

        It would have been better to give them Minas Tirith and let them hold that province.

        But that was yours!

Orodreth: [shrugging]
        Perhaps they would have done better than I, perhaps not. --Certainly, no worse.
        But the idea of uniting their strength with ours was a foolish one -- the alloy
        not stronger at all but flawed and brittle, weakening all of us. Yet--

    [opens his hands]

        I would not make the suggestion, though it was but the rational decision, being
        too proud, too weak, to give up what I held, and Finrod could not suggest it
        where I would not, could not betray me nor belittle me before the world -- and
        thus -- thus left himself open to such betrayal in turn, relying on whom he must,
        trusting us to return that trust, and -- we have all broken beneath that weight
        of responsibility, fallen, under that freedom, and now -- I think perhaps we are
        doomed to betray each other and ourselves, over and again, until not one of us
        has not forsaken the other--

Finduilas: [distressed]
        --I shan't betray you, Father!

        I'm sorry, child. I didn't mean that you would. I'm -- I'm just talking. Dark
        thoughts, night thoughts. It's always night here, truly; she's right about that.
        --As well.


        Do you remember when you were young, and you'd say the stairs were too tall for
        you to climb going up to the house in Tirion?

    [she nods, wary]

        How you'd sit down and refuse to move, and Finrod would pick you up and put you
        on his shoulders and run you up them with you screeching like a peacock all
        the way, and then pretend he'd forgotten about you while you laughed the whole
        time that you were taller than we, to your mother and myself?

    [Finduilas hides her face in her hands]

        When I was as little as that, he'd carry me like that as well. And the rest of
        us too, before I was born, and my sister . . . We pestered him until any normal
        soul would have lost patience six times over, but he never got angry with us for
        invading his study or touching his things, and when we nagged him to show us
        how to make things he never grew tired of teaching, or impatient if any of us
        grew bored, and ran off. I'd . . . almost forgotten those days; what I didn't
        realize was . . . that he'd never stopped.

Finduilas: [almost whispering]
        If -- if we -- if the Ban is ever lifted, and we go back home -- what will you
        say to him?

Orodreth: [not harsh, smiling a little]
        You mean, "If we die?"

    [She does not answer, just looks at him. Calmly:]

        The only thing possible -- the one thing I did not say.

    [Finduilas stares at him, not understanding]

        --Thank you.

    [Miserably his daughter flings herself at him, holding onto him for comfort as much
    as to give it; he holds her close but will not say anything to console her.]

SCENE LXIV.i (mute)

    [Levels of Nargothrond between Luthien's rooms and the royal suite]

    [Huan slinks through the hallways, head and tail low but not dragging -- this is
    guilty-but-determined-dog mode. He keeps to the smaller corridors and byways, ducking
    through accidental passageways formed by the natural shapes of the rock when possible,
    skulking along out of sight of people occupied in conversation, music-making, dancing
    and various diverse arts.]

SCENE LXIV.ii (mute)

    [The Armories of Nargothrond. Gwindor stalks through, grabbing a helm and shield from
    the racks as he goes by, people moving out of his way as they notice his expression.
    He does not take armor, only a hefty two-hand practice broadsword. He storms his way
    into the training areas, warriors vacating the area before him as if swept aside by
    the shock of a bow-wave. The training area itself is set up as a ravine near High
    Faroth, with deep rocky gorges rising on one side and the dense green of the forest
    all around and overhead.]

    [Celebrimbor is here, hacking at a far more realistic and active quintain than mortals
    have ever succeeded in making. As he dispatches the Orc-simulacrum, Gwindor taps him
    on the shoulder and dodges the automatic counterstroke. Panting, Celebrimbor gives him
    a questioning look. Gwindor raises his sword in salute, raising his eyebrows. Celebrimbor
    nods; they face each other and square off.]

    [The forest ravine blurs around them, to be replaced by a smouldering field under a
    red-clouded sky, its tumbled surface mercifully blackened into indistinguishable charcoal,
    in places lava-flows still slowly rolling and cracking open to reveal molten insides,
    mountains on two sides of them in the distance and a forest-fire on the slopes of one
    of them. On this brutal terrain the two Elven-lords go at each other mercilessly,
    taking and receiving punishment without effort to evade the blows.]


        Pride goeth gaily, astride on charger tall,
        headlong rushing, recking of never a fall--

    [In the royal apartments, the Sons of Feanor are bent over a workbench on which a
    dramatic lighting assembly constructed of angled and movable reflectors positionable
    so as to obviate cast-shadow problems has been placed. Curufin has been busy for some
    while, and is showing off the results of his work to his elder brother.

Celegorm: [gesturing at the array of reflectors]
        So you finally got that all figured out?

Curufin: [nods]
        I thought it was rather daftly overdone, but once you get the hang of it, it
        really makes a tremendous difference in terms of enhancing the levels of relief.

        Are the different colored waxes just to help distinguish the separate design
        elements, or are you going to work them in different colors of metal as well?


        Ah. Gold for the flames, silver for the leaves. --Very apt.

Curufin: [smiles]
        Neat, eh? I thought so.

        I also approve the placement of the dual bands of flames around the inner single
        band of leaves. Very, ah, symmetrical.

    [Curufin grins sleekly -- they are in perfect understanding]

        Now, what do you think about . . .

    [as they discuss design possibilities, Huan creeps in behind them and pads silently
    across the chamber in the deep shadows cast by the glare of the reflector. The other
    hounds look up at him, and respectfully put their heads down or return to gnawing.]

    [Huan goes into the inner rooms and takes down the casket containing Luthien's cape
    in his jaws. He crushes it very slowly, but there is still some noise.]

        What was that?

    [The hounds on the hearth wag their tails and one of them makes a loud toothscrape-
    grinding noise of the spine-chilling sort.]

        Just the dogs chewing. --Could you fit a sunburst in the middle of mine, do you
        think? Or would that be too much?

    [Huan lays down the shattered box from which CGI darkness is beginning to spill like ink
    in water, and paws it apart. As he stoops again to pick up the cloak, the light seems
    to dim slightly, as though twilight from outside were falling, though that is impossible.
    He pads out with it in his jaws, and as it trails past the other dogs lay their heads
    down and close their eyes, and the Sons of Feanor slide forward onto the worktable as
    though they'd been very tired for a very long time.]

SCENE LXIV.iv (mute)

    [The hallways near the throne room and the great solar]

    [Huan glides through again, a cloud of shadow and haze drifting around him from
    his muzzle. Darkness like twilight follows him, spreading out in a widening tide,
    and everyone it touches goes into a trance, caught in pleasant dreams and memories,
    oblivious of the Hound passing, whether they fall asleep actually or not. The twilight
    continues to pool slowly through the City and drift down its halls, carrying with it
    a faint sound of night breeze in leaves, running water, crickets, owls, & nightingales.]

SCENE LXIV.v (mute)

    [Luthien's bedroom]

    [Huan enters, and the drifting cape fills the entire room with nightfall -- Luthien
    sits bolt upright, shocked awake by the change of atmosphere, looking around wild-eyed
    and dazed. For a moment she looks at the Hound and doesn't recognize him or understand.
    He drops the cloak on the floor next to her couch, and Luthien gasps. She springs to
    her feet and snatches it up, clenching it in her arms fiercely. Then she hugs Huan,
    tears running down her cheeks, and kneels before him, attentive.]

SCENE (mute)

    [The main corridors of Nargothrond]

    [The tide of Eveningspell flows down the stairs and ramps, spilling like water into
    lower levels of the city, even as it ascends like drifting smoke to the levels higher]

SCENE LXIV.vii (mute)

    [Luthien's bedroom]

    [Luthien stands up very straight, her chest heaving, her eyes wild. With a sudden
    gesture she flings out the cloak in her arms, so that it carries wide all around her,
    and spins it back over her shoulders. Huan drops down couchant before her and she
    pounces onto his back rather like a kitten, and bares her teeth in a snarl-smile.
    He stands up and she pats his shoulder as though he were a horse needing reassurance.
    They go through the apartments at a careful walk -- when they reach the door Luthien
    leans over as though opening a gate from horseback and takes out the needle, tossing
    it behind her. Huan pushes the doors open and they walk through as though there were
    nothing to hold them back. The camera follows them past the ensorcelled hall-guards,
    who doze or gaze past them without noticing them at all.]

SCENE LXIV.viii (mute)

    [In the Armories]

    [The Spell trickles down and pools over the flagstones past the ranks of weapons and
    barding and helms towards the training area.]

SCENE LXIV.ix (mute)

    [The Gates of Nargothrond.]

    [Luthien and Huan pace softly through them onto the terrace, unseen by the entranced
    guards. Evening pours through the pillars of the threefold gate behind them to merge
    with the true nightfall outside. Huan halts for a moment, sniffing the wind, then
    looks back over his shoulder, anxious, and whines. Luthien bends over and whispers
    into ear, petting his neck and he turns back to the trail. He wags his tail once, as
    if in reassurance, and then springs forward at a run now that they are free of the
    power of the City. The darkness of the cape follows behind them, hiding his gray coat
    entirely from view in the moonlight.]

SCENE LXIV.x (mute)

    [The great solar, near the fountain]

    [The twilight-like shading of the ambient light evaporates, like diluted ink, as the
    Carillon unfolds and runs through its sequence unobserved.]

SCENE LXIV.xi (mute)

    [The training area of the Armories]

    [Celebrimbor standing with blank eyes -- wakes up and looks at the sword in his hand,
    frowns.  Gwindor, also standing with his arm hanging by his side, starts and stares
    around, then looks up towards the ceiling, frowning at the direction. They exchange
    looks of dire alarm -- then turn and run through the armory as one hastening up the
    stairs to split off in different directions at the landing.]

SCENE LXIV.xii (mute)

    [Sirion River Valley]

    [High angle -- full moon shining down a long stretch of the river northward.
    Silhouette of towers just to be seen on horizon between mountains and forest.]

SCENE LXIV.xiii (mute)

    [The royal apartments.]

    [Asleep on the worktable, Curufin stirs, lifts his head groggily and looks around
    blinking. Something is stuck to his face, and he fumbles it off -- the wax model
    for one of the wedding rings, crushed and melted by the heat of his skin. As he
    grimaces, a confusion in his expression that is on the verge of turning into worry,
    a pounding on the door causes the hounds on the hearth to waken, leap up and start
    barking. This makes Celegorm spring bolt upright, tipping his chair over sideways
    and causing him to, if not exactly trip, still collide with the table rather hard
    and involuntarily. Recovering, he rushes over and flings the doors  open -- revealing
    one of their Household, wearing a look of Doom, outside...]


        Shattered now, at the tolling of the hours,
        fadeth the sweet tranquility of Lorien
        cast upon the City's folk, the scent of flowers,
        the dreamlike peace and dreaming then--

    [Luthien's apartments. The door stands open, the guards stand about in defensive
    clusters trying not to look at all responsible for anything. A few poke through the
    back rooms of the suite as though she might possibly be hiding somewhere, they just
    missed her somehow. Celebrimbor is sitting on the bench beneath the North-facing
    window that Luthien used to haunt. Disheveled and rather bloody in his combat togs,
    he looks at the hilt of his sword musingly, tracing out alternate designs for it with
    his fingers as he waits for the inevitable entrance of his family -- now happening.]

Curufin: [white-hot rage]
        --What do you mean, "The door was open and she was gone"? That just can't be --

    [sees his son]

        What are you doing here? Is -- this your doing? If it is, so help me --

Celebrimbor: [pleasantly]
        --Who? I'd be interested in hearing who the patron of Kinslayers is, Father --
        though I think I know already.

Celegorm: [breaking in]
        What happened? Where is she?

    [His nephew laughs wildly and hilariously]

        --Dammit, answer me, you little punk!

        It seems -- that your nightingale has flown. The rooms were thus when I awoke
        downstairs at the pels.

        She can't have gotten far -- get the horses saddled and we'll track her --

        Do you really think you'll catch up now, Uncle? It's been more than a bell now.

        What, is she going to fly? She's got no horse, you idiot.

        --Do you think she needs one?

    [they look at him like he's insane]

        Oh come now -- you don't see Huan about, either, do you?

Curufin: [scornful]
        He's a Hound, not a horse, 'Brim.

        --Who happens to be as big as one, and faster than any courser we've owned.
        A horse would just slow them down, I expect.


Celegorm: [doubtful]
        He wouldn't stoop to being ridden . . . she wouldn't dare, surely.

Celebrimbor: [deadpan]
        He's her friend and she loves him and trusts him with some justification.
        It's plainly inconceivable.

        --Leave the room.

        No, thanks, I think I'll stay here for the time being.

        Be careful of defying me, boy.

Celebrimbor: [grimaces]
        Unfortunately, I am . . .

    [enter Orodreth with entourage, foremost his daughter and her fiance, the latter
    standing protectively next to her, still carrying his sword as well.]

        My lords. This is -- a surprise, I gather?

    [wary Looks all round the Feanorians]

        So -- your Leaguer has been breached, I take it. --Once again, putting trust
        in the strength of pales without to hold within a determined and unmeasured
        force has proven to be -- ah, inadvisable. It seems The Beoring was right,
        after all, as to the repetitive nature of strategy and offense.

        [inarticulate growling noise]

Orodreth: [glancing around the room, as though sniffing the air]
        Very impressive. Entirely constructive in its nature, too. What an amazing use
        of Healing principles to unblock barriers as well as to foil observation. And
        strangely self-maintaining, too, to linger so long afterwards -- What, didn't
        you know what her Working could do, my lords? You had it to study long enough.


        What extraordinary forbearance, as well. I really -- well, unfortunately I can
        imagine only too well what my sister might inflict on those who had served her
        the same way. It would be . . . memorable. --Quite unforgettable, I should say.

    [The Sons of Feanor stand shoulder to shoulder, scowling at the Regent's party, the
    rest of the people in the room standing between them in uncertain alignment except for
    Celebrimbor smiling mockingly at his folks from the sidelines, one hand on his updrawn
    knee, one on the hilt of his sword, where he leans back on the bench.]

        Did you know she could do this?

        No more than you.

Curufin: [turning on the rhetoric]
        You're remarkably blasé about all this, cousin. Has it not occurred to you
        that the Lady Luthien is presently hastening to destruction, alone and helpless,
        while we stand here deliberating technicalities of Art?

        Hardly helpless, by the look of it, nor -- where is Huan, by the by? -- I should
        guess alone. She can hardly do any worse than has been done so far.

Curufin: [icy]
        You may think this but touches our Household -- but I would remind you, Lord
       Steward of Nargothrond, that she -- they -- must go with certain knowledge of
        this City's location and the ways back to it, which now must all be trebly
        obscured and guarded, and still the jeopardy will not be entirely removed!

    [The Prince Regent only stares at him, arms folded, with a slight, one-sided smile]

        It is, as the mortal saying has it, far late in the day to be thinking of that.


        What will come, will come. What has already happened, has happened. Nothing of
        your will, nor of mine, can change either in the slightest. All we can do is wait,
        and be ready. --My lords.

    [In the middle of another angry glare Celegorm's eyes suddenly widen -- he has
    remembered something else.]

Celegorm: [aside to Curufin]
        --The letter!

        . . .

    [Shocked realization followed by mutual dismay]

Curufin: [recovering, sneering]
        Well, my lord Steward, such passivity is only to be expected of you. My brother
        and I, however, are not content with that, and we at least will set ourselves to
     &bbsp;  such countermeasures, defenses, and contingency plans as our combined wits and
        the resources of our House can concoct. I trust you'll not object, seeing as our
        end is the good of the City?

    [The Regent shakes his head, smiling faintly]

        Are you coming with us, son?

    [Celebrimbor shakes his head.]

        --Stay with these losers, then -- but don't expect me to take you back without
        a full apology. I promise you, you'll soon think better of your stupidity!

    [turns to go, barely under control. Aside:]

        --I'm going to kill her, I swear--

    [Stalks out, followed by Celegorm. Some of the guards follow them, some start
    to,  then stop guiltily, others look at each other, the Regent and his assistants,
    the floor. As Finduilas takes hold of his hand, Orodreth looks anxious, afraid
    to hope, yet unable to help it.]

             --Now for the nonce, for little while
        Nargothrond yet remains in habits false-secure,
        choosing to refuse the fearful intimations that rile
        the surface of the current, Time's stream a lure
        illusory, that seemeth ever same and changeless,
        and yet is ever other, ever changes, ever bears
        burdens small and great within its mirrored dress;
        But the Doom, their Doom, is already loosed
        and sweepeth down within the sky-reflecting flood
        like to a baulk of timber to shatter the unwary used
        to calms, driven 'gainst water-gates on tide of blood,
        it comes, and all effort to stave off shall turn
        but to a hastening--
                 Of this unknowing, too, but too well aware
        of fate general and dark, for her heart doth spurn
        its confines like rush of wings, the Nightingale no more
        on Narog's selfish shores doth bide -- freed
        of her soft confines by love unmarred of greed,
        Northward she hurtles like a driving storm to fare,
        horseless and needless, fleet Huan her faithful steed,
        swift as swans' flight or the forces of the air
        launched from steam-catapult in the van of war.
            For herself no thought of harm, no terror,
        no more than long-doomed Huan ever of the fate
        anciently set upon him, that "wolf more great
        than ever walked the world" shall be the bearer
        of his destruction, nor the King her kin,
        whose words self-spoken centuries past
        work to their full completing now at last--
            Tinuviel upon the trail doth fly: behind the din,
        the hue-and-cry, mattering naught beside the path
        she follows to its dread sentinel of stone, more dark
        in cruelty and power than twisted shade of Delduath.
        --Like unto fire-arrow loosed against its mark,
        --like the fast falcon falling in fell dive,
        --like to a star that shoots across the vale,
        her soul and self she sets complete to strive
        'gainst Morgoth's haughty servant, though mail
        nor bow nor sword nor helm hath she,
        nor aught of gear of war, or the grim travail
        in years of Leaguer to learn their ways -- only free
        the given heart to raise in challenge high,
        her sword her song, her shield of main-wrought dreams.
            Pitiful to wield, and her only choice to go, it seems
        from prison to prison, and there as thrall to live, or die
        even as her love, far from the fair woodlands where they met.
                      --Forward her face like adamant is set
        and backwards looks she never--

On to the Enteract…

Notes for Act III
Leithian Script Project TOC