Now let your searching fancy far
across wooded hill and vale
follow upon the track left after
like to the storm wind's ragged trail
of shattered trunk and fallen rafter
where roil and ruin stir and swirl
in the wake of three -- but three, alone
whose deeds, like gods', should hurl
down lord and land, Power from throne,
setting at naught all long-made schemes
of foe and friend alike, all dreams
of conquest, of defense, all surety--
Deeds of renown, fearful purity
of intent beyond any sound constraint,
whether of reason or of reasoned dread,
requiring no conjecture to make faint
the heart where memory in's stead
sufficient proves; recalling these,
the darting course across Beleriand
that ever northward runs, let please
thyself to turn imagining to stand
witness to havoc wrought like rising gale--
increas'd consternation in the minds
that none might formerly assail,
and hear the echoes of those winds
that shake the solid roots of rule,
the hallways mighty of the courts
[Nargothrond: one of the hallways along the throne
room leading to the side
entrances -- Orodreth is striding along at high speed, Gwindor trailing along
in his wake. He flings open the doors and storms through, his expression one
of absolute intensity, talking as he goes:]
I want you to summon everyone in the City, not stopping to discuss why, and at
once. Assemble them here within the quarter-hour. Set the perimeter here first
of all. Make sure my daughter's guards are on full alert. And don't talk to your
father, either. No discussions until I make my statement. Is that understood?
-- Ah, Sir, when you say "everyone," you don't mean--
--Everyone. Awake, asleep, working, playing, loving -- get them up, get them
out and get them in here if you have to drag them by the hair, my lord. Every
last person in Nargothrond.
[he breaks off, it's settling in]
[They share a long, bleak look. Gwindor swallows.]
Yes, your Majesty.
[He hurries off. Orodreth lets out a long sigh
and walks more slowly up to the
dais, still more slowly up it and to the throne. On the topmost step he goes down
on one knee and bows his head.]
I will do my best. --And it will never be enough.
[cut to the now wide-open main doors of the Throne
Room from without, tracking the
Sons of Feanor and their entourage as they enter the now-filled and utterly silent
audience hall, with an armed escort, not of their own providing. They halt in front
of the throne, before which Orodreth stands, holding the crown in his hands. Celegorm
gives Orodreth a vicious Look; Curufin looks around and smiles nonchalantly. You
can't tell if they know or not, from the way they're acting -- but Curufin does have
his hand on the hilt of Angcrist.]
Oh, come on now, was all this fuss necessary?
[he gestures around at the grim-faced guards]
You know we don't just come when you whistle, my lord Regent!
[Orodreth does not speak; Curufin shrugs]
Well, now you've got
us here, why don't you say something, Sir Steward? What do
you want, eh?
[silence -- he raises the crown and places it on his head]
[The Sons of Feanor exchange glances, and then
lock stares with Orodreth --
who stares them down.]
And I want nothing from you. Your tally is up again, -- Kinslayers.
[The Feanorian supporters exchange looks of dismay
and subtly, but distinctly, start
drawing away from their lords. Now Orodreth seats himself on the throne. When the
brothers start to try to interrupt him he just keeps talking over them.]
You will not, however,
make me into one. My people want you butchered. If it
is not unanimous, there are at least no audible dissenting voices. But I am
not you. Be grateful for that, if you have it in you to be grateful for
anything. And I rule here. --Be grateful for that as well. Luthien, called
Tinuviel, has won -- there is no Tol Sirion any more. And my brother has
triumphed as well, for Beren Barahirion still lives. Witnesses here have
attested both. And Huan has returned. Your bags are being packed -- and
checked for valuables -- as we speak.
[he gestures round at the silent, shocked crowd of Nargothronders]
Whoever wishes to go
with you may do so. I don't care where you go, so long as
you're out of the realm by sunset. --Don't ever cross the border again, or you
will be treated as enemies and shot on sight. At which point it will be on your
own heads, being forewarned and far from helpless. There is neither shelter nor
friendship for you or your brothers, anywhere in Narog, henceforth. Please
try to remember that.
[pause -- the Sons of Feanor look around and
see that their retainers are relegating
them to the "unlucky and cursed" category too.]
Curufin: [smiling through his teeth]
Oh, we will. We most definitely will.
[spots Celebrimbor in the crowd]
You going to remember your family duty at last, boy?
I don't have any immediate family in Middle-earth. So I'm doing the best I
can with the nearest I have left. --Does that answer your question, milord?
[Curufin shakes his head in an expression of
contempt. Celegorm, face flushed with
growing rage, goes as if to step up on the dais and accost Orodreth, and is met with
the barred spears of the Guard. Speechless, he too turns away after his brother.
Out of the shadows Huan rises and goes after Celegorm, head and tail low.]
Ha, so now you come skulking back to me, you traitor! A little late to be
remembering your duty--
[Huan follows them sadly, the escort respectfully
parting for him, not jostling
him like the Sons of Feanor.]
Orodreth: [raising his voice to the guards]
Enough! Remember my commands: do not shame my brother with discourteous action!
[chastened, the escort snaps to professional
dispassion and escorts the Sons of
Feanor out the doors without further rough handling. The King reaches up with a bitter
smile to adjust the unfamiliar weight of the crown, and his daughter puts her hand
on his shoulder, moving closer to the throne]
Finduilas: [softly - she has clearly been crying recently]
--What will become of her now? Of -- them?
Only they can choose that, child. --It isn't Luthien Tinuviel I worry for, but
[she looks at him uncertainly; he stares off at the vaulting.]
For now he, too, has
left the Island behind him. --May the Powers send him
better rest than mine has been these years.
[she takes his hand rather desperately in her own, as he whispers:]
The question is -- what will become of us now . . . ?
[Southwestern Doriath: an armed camp, in the
greenwood, Thingol in full armor
coming from his command tent with Captain Mablung as Beleg enters the clearing,
accompanied by a small crowd of warriors, in camo and looking absolutely grim.]
--You want the report in public, or privately first, Sir?
Might as well give it right here and now -- we've done everything else as a
public show, why stop now?
[Beleg gives a short nod, goes on]
The good news is, you don't have to worry about the Sons of Feanor showing
up to dinner and drinks. Luthien suborned one of their agents and broke out
on her own.
Mablung: [not-quite aside, innocent look]
Again . . .
[Beleg catches his eye, shakes his head]
There's more. And worse.
She will not come home again. She's thrown her lot in with him for good,
and no one knows where they've gone. No sign or word of Master Daeron.
[he starts to speak and stops abruptly]
Don't try to spare me, Strongbow. --Or soften the blow.
--Orodreth is King in Nargothrond.
[Thingol closes his eyes, turning his face away.]
I'm so very sorry--
Thingol: [holding up his hand to stop him]
--I guessed that was the burden of your message. It does not make it any
easier. --Are there details?
Thingol: [not asking]
They're very bad.
Captain Strongbow, could I ask you to keep them until we get home again?
I'm not ready to deal with so much news right now, for such a long ride back.
And that way you will only have to tell it once.
No trouble, Sir.
Sire, what do we do now?
Thingol: [eerie calm]
--We go home. We go back to work. --What else can we do? She clearly does not
need our help any more, nor, apparently, ever did. --And if she does, we have
no hope of finding her, to be of any use. No: we will return, and see if our Lady
will consent to advise me again, now that I am willing to listen, or if that is
lost to us too.
At least he's not a Kinslayer, Sir. You said so yourself, remember . . .
He might as well be. Don't speak of him again in my hearing. We will never see
her again. --Or at least, not as long as he lives. Perhaps she'll come back to
us after. Until then -- my daughter might as well be dead, thanks to him.
You don't think -- he seemed a decent sort -- that he'll bring her back home,
after she's calmed down and gotten over her temper?
If he does, I'll kill him, and I'm sure he knows that perfectly well.
--Unless you think he's
actually going to hold up his end of the bargain and
come back with a Silmaril in hand--?
[he slams his fist against the trunk of the nearest
tree and sighs bitterly.
After a moment -- to Beleg:]
Thank you for undertaking
this mission, Strongbow; I'm glad you're back
safely. Mablung, can you make sure that everything is struck properly and
that we're ready to start back as soon as possible?
[Thingol ducks back into his tent and closes
the flap behind him. Mablung exchanges
looks and brief hand-signals with several of the troops standing round and they go
off to get things underway. Beleg sinks down to sit against another tree, rubbing
his hand over his eyes. Mablung kneels down beside him, looking concerned]
You all right, old chap? You look pretty beat -- nobody winged you, did they?
--Not to be insulting or anything.
Beleg: [shaking his head]
I am beat -- not physically, though.
[pause. looking up at Mablung, bleakly:]
--Place is a ruddy mess.
Us? Or them?
I know. --I know.
[pats the other officer sympathetically on the shoulder]
--"back to work--"
[he rises and goes off to assist in the packing,
while Beleg folds his arms and
leans his head against the tree, closing his eyes.]
--and the lowest low--
[Angband - the great hall. Behind a column of
appalling design and construction,
two Orcs are carrying on a muttered conversation]
--All right, give! Is it true the Eagles took Fangs away to eat him?
Nobody knows! He's just gone, like the spies. The downdraft blew away any tracks
that might have been left around the entrance, and then farther out the stinking
wolfpacks went charging all the way out over the Plain, so even casting around's
been a waste of our time.
Hah! So much for "superior wolf senses"! Pack of slobbering idiots. They should
never have taken my crew off the Gate.
So what exactly happened? Anyone figure it out?
As far as we can tell, old Sauron wasn't telling the truth -- not the whole of it,
anyway -- in his reports to HQ. Big surprise there, of course. Yes, there was a
batch of spies disguised as us that he caught sneaking through his territory. Yes,
that Dog was involved. But the kicker is -- get this -- his whole cursed defense
system was blown through, apart, and away, not by the stinking Hound, not by the
warriors, but by that Elf-chick he's been trying to snag for the past eight-nine
years, you know, the one whose supposed to be some kind of demi-demi-goddess or
something. She was the one who did it all, and our prize Sorcerer, I'm-so-scary,
everyone-trembles-at-my-name -- he somehow forgets to put this little fact in his
You mean all those spot-checks of IDs that we've been having, and the random
interrogations, the flay-one-in-every-hundred and all, that's all been wasted?
Come on, were you spawned
yesterday? If you don't think there's just as much
screw-up-and-cover-up at the top as down the lines, you need to start thinking.
--And she was the one who just traipsed in here, la la la, "Oh my, is this
Angband? I had a fight with my parents and ran away from home and I'm looking
for a job," playing all stupid and naive, and -- The Boss buys it. Hook, chain,
and thumbscrew. Never occurs to him to ask why this Princess just walks in --
how she got through the desert, where she got the wings, and why in the name
of the Void she would come here of all Middle-earth. Or -- who else might be
with her. Huh. And they call us stupid!
So then what happened? And weren't they in disguise too? I heard it was two
of them, or maybe three. Wasn't the Hound disguised as a warg or something?
Nobody's sure. But yeah, she came in pretending to be one of Sauron's little
delivery-girls from the old fort, and a bunch of people say there was a wolf
with her, which is interesting, 'cause usually those freaks can't stand each
other, and a few of the lads say it was even Old Long-Tail. Which would be
really interesting, 'cause that was in the reports that he was dead, and
if it was the Hound disguised as Fangs' sire, and Ugly didn't even know the
difference, well, all I'm saying is it's a shame Fangs disappeared, so we
can't interrogate him.
All we know is, somebody got hurt at the Gate, 'cause there was a fair puddle
of blood there, but there weren't any bodies left. And nobody knows what all
happened after the lights went out. Except maybe The Boss, and He ain't telling.
When the Elf-chick started singing, everybody went nighty-night -- even The Boss,
I guess. --Hey, didja know that Balrogs snore? Kinda sounds like bubbling mud.
[provides helpful imitation; both Orcs snicker]
When I woke up, me and
some of the lads was first, and there we saw it -- the
Iron Crown, right in the middle of the floor, with this broken knife next to it,
and only two of the curséd jewels left -- and you know some idiot just has to go
and cut his fingers off saying "This doesn't look sharp enough to cut through metal"
and his yelling gets the wolves going and that was when we realized that The Boss
Himself was -- had been -- asleep too, cause He jumps up going "--Whuh? Eh? Where
is she?!" and kinda looking around squiggle-eyed like He was completely stinking
drunk after a good looting spree, ya know?
[leans closer, conspiratorial whisper]
So then He gets a look
at the stuff on the floor, and then -- get this -- He
actually feels on top of His head to make sure it ain't still there! And then
-- He sees the blood on His hand from the broken-off bit where it hit Him, and
starts screaming so loud spit's comin' out of His mouth, completely loses it
-- I tell ya, nobody's heard anything like it since that sore loser stuck Him
in the foot after we won. Remember that?
Arr! Yeah -- somebody's gotta do a cadence on this. Y'know, have the drum-beat
for the crown falls off His head--
Huh huh huh -- "Thump!"
[sfx - the amusement is interrupted by a sudden
fiery CRACK as a Balrog-whip snaps
at them, knocking them out of sight beyond the column. The shadow over there deepens--]
Morgoth: [slowly and ominously]
--So. You vermin think it's funny, do you?
cast anew upon the coals of war; reports
gaining in stature as they lose in truth
--yet in truth still less, than simple fact
plainly told, of odds impossible, forsooth,
yet accomplishéd, hazards dared and met, act
and choice, folly indeed, yet shall one say
greater than that first folly, striving again
to break the Iron Lord's iron hold, --nor slay
Kindred in the doing?
What followed then
all know, have heard the legends, tales
sung or half-recounted, how the stolen gem
retaken was, and then again by sharper tooth
than any e'er forged by hand or hammer, cut
with the hand that held it, neither ruth
nor reason to restrain, ere jaws shut
in capture vain, that availeth not taker
nor Master of the same, deadly prize
that giveth aye power, but withal pain,
scorching the vessel caught with lies
and promises of glory, wrought by strain
of Song unholy to guard rebellion's home,
mightiest of all that ever was, or shall
on this sad earth mad-ranting roam.
Those who had seen the
hopeless Quest assigned,
the mocking promise made, the vaunting boast
returned, as deemed, in vain, anon did find
that never word lightly-uttered did dearer cost,
when Carcaroth the Red-Jawed -- the dreadful Thirst
whose panting desire nothing in life alleving
that inburnt stone should ever inflame anew -- burst
the bonds unbroken of great Melian's long weaving
against all beings dark and fell, being both Light
and Darkness blent together, two workings of Powers
earthly and divine: living, Undead, ancient melded might
newly fashioned into unholy whole, from the towers
of Angband where long were held--
In those sad hours of
in weary shame and hangdog penury,
return the rescued two -- yet now are three,
with Huan beside, faithful unforsaking,
knowing not what to find, yet thinking never
to meet the strong amaze, the outcry making
hope as of prophetic sign, the crowds ever
growing in much-garrisoned Menegroth, where
all needs must gather from the unsure shelter
of Doriath, seeking defense against a fear
forgotten for so long a year.
vaunt of the Quest accomplished, yet undone,
of fatal mystery unfolded, of admiration won
yet half-unwilling, yet wholly given;
of the great Hunt upon the borders riven
of the enchanted wood, of the foe driven
by furious hatred and tormenting inward fire
--the tale was told, and told will be in Ages hence;
as too the last: how Beren took Doom still higher
upon himself, ceding his life in the King's defense,
handless to stand battle between his hand's thief
and his love's father, though hopeless contest
it should be, and the Deed in ending bring but grief
to Thingol, that Man despised should prove best
of friends -- too late, alas! the learning,
the victory sore tainted with bitter rue
that mortality win but Death in's earning.
Nor him alone, before or after, for then too
Huan at last went to his foretold fate, laid
dying at slayer's side, and Luthien the Nightingale
died of heart's breaking like a mortal maid
in an old song half-forgotten, a foolish tale.
They judged the file ended, the archive closed.
Notes for the Enteract