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Truth and Theology (Three Horses and an Ass TP)

Tags: Arathis,  Menelglir

Short Summary: The knight Arathis approaches the squire Menelglir about the youth's conviction to his oath, and leads in a Socratic dialogue about its truth.
Date (real-life): 2009-10-29
Scene Location: Bree

At the Sign of the Prancing Pony

The Great East Road bends around the southeastern corner of Bree-hill. The Road leads away to the west and southeast, and where it sweeps past the foot of the hill there sits a large three storey inn. The inn is reached by a wide cobblestone pathway, with two wings that run back, away from the Road to the east, on land partly cut out from the hill's lower slopes. As a result, the rear second-floor windows of the inn are level with the ground. A wide arch leads to a courtyard between the two wings. Above the arch is a lit lamp and beneath it swings a large signboard: a fat white pony rearing up on its hind legs.



Obvious exits:

 Cobblestone Pathway leads to Before the Prancing Pony.

 Broad Way leads to Broad Way - North Bree.

 Market Way leads to North Market.

 SouthEast leads to GER: Centre of Bree.

 West leads to Great East Road.



It's the end of what was a long and lazy sunny Sunday in late April, and by now, as the last red rays of the sun form long shadows along the road, few local folk are about. A few hurry about along their road, anxious to get to their home fires and the meals awaiting there--the smell of which drifts through the air here.


And then there is Menelglir, very much out of place, tall and dark haired, clad in his white tunic and wearing his sword and leather armor...and walking along the road lazily, chewing on a piece of grass as if he has not a care in the world. As if the peace and quiet of Bree are rubbing off on the Squire.



A man too of the squire’s company turns a corner, and pauses to observe the back of the departing youth. A gait deliberate, of little leisure and wide-stepped, swiftly carries him behind Menelglir.


So the voice of Arathis rises from behind him, “You have come to enjoy the North, squire? And yet I have brought you because you strode in a manner not dissimilar in the South.”



There's no denying that the squire jumps half a step, that very recognizable voice startling him out of his reverie. He pauses to half turn to the Knight. "I take what respite I can, sir? When duty permits? Though I do not understand--I strolled such in Gondor?" he asks, possibly not catching any reprimand there might have been in the remark.



There appears an angle within the gaze of the knight, and it is not without scheme’s humor. Yet he speaks plainly, no mirth admixed with his words, “Such respite in Gondor is unfound; at least, it is not duty that would permit it. And here too, it would seem, with our Ranger friends, it is hard bought.”


He tilts his head towards the youth then, and his mandible shifts to protrude at him. With narrowed eyes, he continues, “Yea, your duty remains of some curiosity to me, squire. For this meeting with the Breewoman, Muirgheal -- I found myself with questions you ought to have asked yourself, her character being altogether suspicious.”


Again, a hard pause: “I have attempted to be careful, squire, with those who we encounter, lest information should pass to our Enemy unawares. But perhaps I have not yet looked beneath my nose.”





The question, plain and abrupt, comes out as a gasp of disbelief and denial at once. "I said nothing to her of where were are from. I swear it by Eru himself if you would like," Menelglir says, shaking his head again in denail of the implications of the words.


"It is only the other day that the Ranger Hare warned me to be suspicious of her--else how was I to suspect such of a woman who claims to be wife of our kin and who speaks our tongue?"


"Yet even so, I have no disobeyed any of your commands--still I tell her not where we are from, nor what we are doing and why. Such that everyone from the scop of the Rohirrim to ragged local hunters and the odd short people here name me fool for blindly following orders. Insult me, even and -still- I say nothing and do not even ask you to what end I follow you and why, though I may die on this trip."


The squire's expression hardens. "I have no information to pass."



Dark brows arch upon the knight's forehead, broad and noble in the absence of his helm. The response of the squire earns so the widening of surprise across Arathis' features, free of any apparent symptom of contempt or disbelief.


"Must you ask why you follow me?" inquires the Isilrim lord at length, his shoulders broadening before the squire. "Nay even, tell me: for what do you follow me?


"I have led many men; and it is a law among them, that it is easy for a man, be he warrior or not, to sin against that which he does not understand. For all men possess Reason; and if his Reason is not convinced, then it shall, when the time becomes dire, lead him elsewhere.


"So, for what do you follow me, Herald of the Prince?"



There is a pause in which Menelglir shifts his gaze to the ground, sighing ever so slightly as he contemplates his answer. But he looks up again and though there is frustration and confusion in his expression, there is also an underlying conviction lighting his eyes.


"I have sworn to the Order. I have sworn that I would rather die fighting, even a hopeless fight against the Enemy, if need be, than crawl up in a ball somewhere to die. I follow you because you lead that fight. Because you are a Knight and an Officer of the Order and because I did not make my vow lightly or on a whim or out of some foolish idea of what it is to ride as a Knight into battle."


"And more..I follow you now into what dangers you lead us to because our Prince is in need. And you speak for him, and seek counsel or aid or...I know not what, but I know that this trip seems a desperate measure and so the need must be desperate."


"And I follow you not knowing the specifics of our mission and without complaining of that because..whatever it is, I am not here to know the specifics, for whatever reason...because..." He sighs, out of the anger firing his conviction at last, so that the final words are quiet.


"Because you do not trust me yet."



"The Enemy too prefers to fight, has Orders of whatever creed, and men or beasts who would call themselves Prince," retorts the Isilrim lord, his bass hardening in answer.


A guiding question then issues from him: "Tell me then, if your value is in the apparatus of war, shared too by the Enemy, would you not fight for Him, if you found Truth to His cause?


"It is a poor man that would first swear and later keep an Oath, even if he thinks it false. And if this man does not die before the chance, he shall, in time, forsake his Oath."



"But...that's not possible," Menelglir bursts out in surprise. "Truth to the Enemy's cause! Was I not taught--am I not still taught over and over that the Enemy lies. Always a twisting of the truth, a twisting of men's minds?"


"How is it then even possible to say that there is truth and righteousness enough to swear to a known deceiver? What truth could there possibly be in the words and deeds and promises of one who goes against the light, one instrumental in twisting men's minds to Numenor's fall, ultimately."


The knight's further words bring a shake of the squire's head. "I'm sorry, Sir Arathis. I try...I say what is in my heart, but it is never what you seek from me. I'm not sure what to say, only that it is not war for war's sake. It is war only to save what is good and light in this world--that is the only reason there could be for something as horrible as war."



A nod, so as to reassure the squire against his doubts, answers first from the knight. “I desire no more than what is in your heart,” he states firmly, “yet most men -- yourself among them, squire -- do not themselves know.


“Now, you have been taught that the good is true; and in support you show that the good is good, and, aye, that the evil, by deception and destruction, is evil; but I have asked only of the Truth.


“You have been taught too your lore, Menelglir. I suggest that you reflect upon it. Tell me who in lore embodies the Good, and who the Evil; and then we shall consider the claims of both, and judge the True and the False.”



"In lore..." Deep lines crease Menelglir's forehead. "The Valar. Ulmo..Manwe. And Eru, above all..." he says slowly. "And evil...the enemy who broke from the Valar and his servants, from the most powerful to the least so. I shall not name them?" he says with a sudden shudder.


"But the claims...do the Valar make claims as such? I thought not. But...the enemy...claimed that death was not Eru's gift to man, but a curse...and that the men of Numenor should lust for what they did not have, that they were entitled to set foot on the western shore. So that now we are forever denied even a distant view of it and we diminish in power and ability ever?"



“Numenor let us forget,” says the Isilrim lord, the words perhaps odd for those familiar to him. “You need not name our Enemy, for the unfree are nameless. Suffice to know that His claim is to be the Lord of Power.


“The Valar, on the other hand, have dominions less abstract: wind, water, plants, beasts -- the elements that together comprise this earth.


“But what then could this Power be, if it is not to be found among that which constitutes the earth?”



"Power...I suppose the ability to change things? Though it can be for light or dark? To shape this world by motivating men toward a goal...or manipulating the minds of men if you will. I think for good it is an opening to the light. And for the Enemy, a twisting of the mind toward hatred and greed and jealousy." The Squire answers carefully, taking his time. "But dominion over the less abstract--wind, water, plants...that is a power as well. It shapes thsi world, too. And too those things can affect the mind of those that dwell here."



The knight listens with intent to the words of the squire; and when he finishes, a hand rises to grasp his shoulder.


“Should power then belong too to those who battle the Lord of Power, of what truth is His lordship? The wind may topple a tower of stone, and the sea may batter a ship, if not engulf an island; but what may Power alone do? It is no more than a shadow of a thing that acts, itself neither thing nor actor; for a wave shall first strike, and only then we shall know it as powerful.


“Thus we name the Enemy too the Shadow: it is not only that He deceives to further his cause, but that his cause is itself deception; with lies of His Power does He bid the acts of men and beasts to His will, whereas his Power lies only in their acts, and none to Himself.


“Power cannot belong to any Lord, you see; wherever there are hands, there is power. And should any claim otherwise, whether slave or master, his claim must be false.”



For a long time Menelglir just stares at the Knight, mouth dropped opened. "The False..." he nods, finally, agreeing.


"But then the Enemy's power is only what we give it over us. If the Enemy's only power is lies and deception and deceit to twist men's minds...then it is no power at all as you say. And even the most terrifying of its servants--then they have no power over us either, unless we give them the power of terror over us."


The Squire looks up, expectant.



“No,” answers the knight quickly, and with a darkening of his visage, “you have misunderstood, in part. The power of the Enemy subsists in the acts of His servants, albeit that He enslaves them first by claiming Himself the Lord of Power. So we have said that His is the false: He offers men what He does not have, only to then take it from them.


“The power of the Enemy over us is thus twofold: it is the extent to which we serve Him, which we of the Swan do not; and it is the acts of His servants slated against us, of which there are many.


“Know then that Truth resides with the Good, so that you may carry your Oath in conviction; but know too that there are many Slaves to the False, whose acts we must combat, if they are to prove in the end powerless against us.”



"I understand," Menelglir answers, having fallen quiet.


"And the woman Muirgheal?"



“The woman is conflicted, somehow, or torn in spirit, as seen too upon her skin,” judges Arathis, removing his hand from the squire’s shoulder. “Those conflicted are weak, and so shall crave power, and fall then with ease into the lies of and service to the Enemy.


“But I cannot say, for I have met her only once. There is scheme about her, that much is sure. Let it be said too, however, that many serve the Enemy unwittingly, forwarding His designs solely through their acts, their thoughts aside.


“Be wary of her, then, but do not forsake her: if she is Free, then we as knights are sworn to her.”



"I will...though I hope in the end such caution will not have been warranted. Her daughter, at least, likes me," the squire smiles a little. "The mother...full of questions. And boasts of swordmanship, though she has the scars to show for it. But her questions I'll evade."


Menelglir glances toward the inn. "We leave soon? The wagon--it comes with us?"



“Speak in full sentences, squire. You are no buffoon, and have had, as a Swansman, the advantage of education. Befit yourself.”


The reprimand flies sternly from Arathis. He then turns to leave, paying little heed to the substance of Menelglir’s final questions.



Behind the departing knight, the squire sighs very quietly, then mutters to himself, "Never an answer." He resumes his walk, though this time it is with purpose and toward the inn.

Date added: 2009-11-01 15:19:35    Hits: 44
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