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Leithian Script: Act III: 2. Scene I
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
TINUVIEL AT BAY: A CACCIA OF BELERIAND
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)
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 --
--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.
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.
Luthien: [coming to a new level of suspicion]
I see. Forgive my lack of understanding -- I've never waged a war, you see.
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.
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