A Call to Destiny - Chapter 7
"What on Arda are we doing here?" She managed to shout across to him amid the din of shouts. He paused for a moment thinking then leaned back over.
Up upon the second highest stair, Glorfindel, Captain of Gondolin raised up a white flag high into the air on the pole he carried and the noise stopped instantly. His famously golden hair was tied back ceremonially, his hammered chest plate shone with a look of new metal and he called out in a voice loud enough for all to hear.
"All hail the High King of the Noldor, Turgon King of Gondolin! All hail!"
"Hail Turgon King!" The voice thousands strong responded back and on one accord the assembly flattened, all bending their knee. The council all bowed at the waist, their right hand in a fist, fixed to the left side of the waist. Cistailé followed suit with the others feeling out of place more then before, and feeling odd not being on her knee like most everyone else.
"Arise first born of Iluvatar!" Again as a whole the crowd picked themselves up at the command of their king who had just arrived onto the stairs and waited for him to continue. Cistailé raised herself up and followed everyone else's gaze to the left. On the top stair stood Turgon, a modest circlet of gold upon his brow, with not so modest stones crafted into it. The circlet was just another place for the wealth and pride of Gondolin to be shown off. Like everyone else Turgon wore deep robes of handsome ebony, fit to his lean figure, and the dipping sash of white and blue. He wept like everyone else, and was one of the rare survivors.
What frightened Cistailé, and by glancing at Galarian him too, was how different Turgon looked from when they had last seen him. Even marching back through the streets at the head of what was left of his army, he looked not so shadowed as he did now. He looked so similar to Tallarin, Cistailé almost gaged back revolt at how far grieved her king had gone. Actually Glorfindel took on the same look too. They all had the same disease.
"Noldor of Valinor, natives of Gondolin, loyal companions from Nevrast; the Nirnaeth is lost. The victory has gone to our enemies, but to what end? Morgoth has seen his foes join into a powerful force as one, in a strong enough attack to justify coming together again and that should be enough to keep victory from becoming sweet to his taste. Many allies were lost, none the least of the casualties Gondolin has sustained. In numbers we have been lessened, but we have not been cut down to a lesser position! Nay, we have grown stronger, wiser, surpassing that understanding which we were birthed with. Indeed, for no more shall the army of Gondolin march out and face the evil death which awaits us past these guardian mountains. The demanded price is too great, all have seen that. The Vala Ulmo has made our refuge safe and secret, so we shall dwell here secret and safe. The black death cannot find us, nor will we seek it out. But rather, we shall shake the iron spear and the hard cast sword in living defiance that the greatest of the Elves will live on! In prosperity and glory! In happiness, love and joy, will the blessed remnant of the Noldor live on this land. But not without hope of redemption.
From the founding of this city, sailors have been sent in supplication across the sea to the Valar. Now once more, there is a contingent of Elves set at my call to sail again. If there is any love left for the Children, the Valar will hear our calls and send help; at the request of those they knew and feasted with. Let the eagles of Manwë, the very same which guard our boarders, send word to their lord of our coming so that the sea will find us true and take pity on those who are cursed and wish to repent."
The King had stopped his speech, whether to regain his composure or to end there, but his audience was captivated. No eye strayed from the top of those stairs and not even the babies gave a cry. It seemed the great lord would say no more, until again he opened his mouth.
`As you have mourned, so have I also expressed my requiem. Those lost were brave without account, and none died without cause or purpose. Each soldier was fulfilled upon the battlefield, none are shamed. They all stood ground in the face of the worst, each and every strike put through was to the glory of themselves. Their family. Their legend. The court inside of the outer gate will house a grand monument for all those whose body is no more upon Arda. Their tale will never be lost. I only wish that I had the power to bring them all back from Mandos myself. May the Valar be with you." Turgon turned to leave, paused for a moment then continued back inside, his delivery complete.
There was a complete silence set over the assembly, and they slowly began to wake from the awe inspired speech, stirring to life again. Cistailé looked beside her to Galarian who's eyes had glazed over, not unlike her own.
"The dust flies wild and stings the eyes." He lied wiping his eyes clear.
"My dear friend. Find no dishonor in tears." Nodding his gleaming dark head in acknowledgment, Galarian quickly recovered and began absently fingering the edge of his cloak.
"Could I speak to you later this afternoon Cistailé?"
"I am not much in the mood for speaking, and I labor to do so now."
"Promise. I will not warp your mind with deep thoughts." He tried to give a small smile of comfort, though the grin became distorted in the translation and wavered.
"You seem preoccupied." Cistailé commented.
"Only with what we just heard."
"As is everyone I think. You are still honored in my father's household Galarian. Come when you will."
"Thank you. Now, get as comfortable in this impenetrable city as you wish. Not a thing worse then what has happened already will happen upon us."
"Of Gondolin's defenses-"
"They will only be strengthened and increased. Trust the fiery diligence of Turgon to not let a cricket pass into Tumladen's vale without knowing it's purpose."
"But our presence in the Nirnaeth will only make Morgoth more furious to fling us out like a badger flings dirt from his hole! He's not going to rest so easily." Passing by, the one called Saerar patted Galarian on the shoulder, catching the young lord's attention.
"If anyone dare breath of The Nirnaeth and not be reminded of what was just said, I shall be astonished. Are you and the lady coming?"
"We were just on our way. I will meet you there." With a courteous nod of his head to Cistailé Saerar kept on his way, up towards the same dais of stairs Turgon had just left. Leaning down close to Cistailé's ear Galarian's sweetly breathed a whispered into her ear.
"Speak no more of those thoughts ere you begin to breed fear in the city." Swiftly Galarian began to follow after his friend, while giving a brief account to Cistailé who hurriedly followed behind.
"There is a meeting for us to attend now. See, everyone around us files past us and goes inside Turgon's halls. We would do well not to be late and we seem to be running that already."
"Wait!" Grabbing a hold of Galarian's velveted arm, Cistailé stopped him in the middle of a moving mass and spoke quickly to him if only to get an answer.
"What meeting do you say we go to? I am being shuffled about from here to there and have naught an idea what I am to do, well all the while you persuade my mind that you know everything which commences. I have no desire to stumble around in the dark and be catered around without having a chance to realize what is presently going on and so if you will Galarian. Any form of explanation I will accept, so long as the next step I take is an informed one."
Sighing with impatience, Galarian looked off into the distance, shaking his head to himself, before returning his eyes to the frank, anaemic face before him.
"Cistailé learn to take a few risks. If you demand to know now, then for you will I quickly tell you. The council is set up as a sort of governing tool; made up of captains, leaders, members of Finwë's house, mostly all of whom possess experience with and of wars or ladies of great might and strength of mind. They advise the king when he calls for the council. Since most of the previously formed council went to war and did not return it is up to those who stayed behind to make a new council and thus form a sort of ruling party. Where we go now is to the king where he will actually make us one of the council. Normally this would be done one to one, but considering the situation we are all to be accepted together. Satisfied?"
"Great." Taking off again, Galarian caught up with the trailing end of the council stepping up deeper into the rock halls of Turgon. "Let it never be said of the Quendi that they are too hasty to learn before acting." Taking the steps by two, Galarian stood by the open door to let Cistailé pass through first into the cool marble interior before the door was shut behind them, the echoing sound dulled by the elaborate tapestries which hung off every wall.
Cistailé gently fingered the raw surface of the silver inlaid gem now pinned atop her shoulder and carved with the insignia of the House of Finwë: the first king of the Noldor and Turgon's grand-sire. It was no less then beautiful with budding vines wrapping themselves around the center piece ruby and placed on the back of a large swan, wings outstretched to wrap around and secure the gem. It was apart of a family of 36, now all pinned accordingly to shoulders of 36 other council members.She had seen her father's laid gently in a silken box in times past, but now she had her own. "I feel like I'm leaving Aulier behind Galarian."
"But I don't think she will feel that. Long has she known of the separating paths that would come. If nothing at all she will give her congratulations to our new found favor amidst the highest lords of this land."
"Favor." The word rung irate in the still air, hanging with the coolness of her tongue. He seemed to care not at all for the feelings and dreams of one so ambitious as Aulier. Of coarse never would Aulier offer anything less then high enthusiasm for her friends, but her words often appeared to be second nature rather then genuine. Much like Cistailé's own excitement when it came to living a more elevated life whether it be in due respect or in.....favors.
"She understands Cistailé. Yesterday she had told me so when I told her of this ceremony."
"You asked to ease your conscience?"
"No! I told her because she deserved to know." They were walking through the secondary streets for a reason neither could pin down, avoiding the main street by which most traveled by. The private ceremony had been completed and both Cistailé and Galarian were now joined in ranks with the same as Saerar- Galarian's friend, Glorfindel, Maeglin Turgon's newphew, Linganil and so many others. They were personalities of renown and now she would be counted among them. How would she ever compare to them?
"You had never told me Turgon was well acquainted with you Galarian."
"What? Oh, well he knows us all now."
"But he recognized you well and called you off to the side. It was not much to see your conversation was easy."
"So we have met and talked somewhat before. He doesn't stay stocked up inside all day surrounded by stacks of documents and courtiers, seeing no one of his kingdom."
"You never told me!"
"So you know now. He was very well pleased to see you in attendance. I could see in his eyes he had held many great encounters with Felinor in his memory. But so long as he does not start to show you a greater love then what Maeglin wishes to be seen. That dark haired, spoiled relative will be the downfall of many mighty elves of this city. Mark me on that. He makes me crawl whenever I lay eyes on him."
"He has too many eyes and they're all laid on the lady Idril."
"Ai. If he showed as much love to improving this city as to his cousin then we would be assured to stand for ever."
To this Cistailé had nothing to say, for it was a fact everyone kept in their minds. Maeglin's failed hidden love for Tugon's only child many kept in contempt, for not only did she not return his lusty affections, but Maeglin's shadowy upbringing from the outside world left him as an awkward, outsider with a dwarven skill at the forge which would often go un used. He was the result of a contemptuous forced marriage, his extremely skilled father having committed suicide, killing his mother with a poisoned dart made for him. Turgon welcomed his sister's son into his household readily enough, and encouraged his people to do the same and they did, for love of their king. Until Maeglin began to weight around power which was not his, voice his opinion as the only choice to be had and in general try to secretly rule a people who would not be ruled by him. Legally he was heir to the throne and despite the immortality of the reigning king and the few who genuinely liked Maeglin, most, including Cistailé would not hesitate to show their dislike and concern for the future of Gondolin if ever the dark day arrived when Maeglin would have the chance to ascend the throne. He was a good leader and fighter with some wisdom behind his thoughts, but too often would the good be over shadowed by a too harshly spoken word. He was his father's child.
And now Cistailé would be sharing a table with the elf and entreating his quiet, calmly spoken words. Her spine crept with the thought of his cold eyes drilling into her, as he had done at the ceremony. He had quickly laid eyes upon her from Tugon's side, as she paced beside Galarian to take her place along the high pillared hall leading to Turgon's throne, now lined with the darkly clad figures of solemn bystanders. He never once smiled though he showed his approvement clearly enough, to the point which made Cistailé fuss with the awkwardness of it. Maeglin relented quickly enough when Idril also strode into the hall, as beautiful as a elven princess could ever be, taking her place on her father's other side wishing to give her own blessing.
Galarian continued to walk beside Cistailé in silence until they had taken their journey and came to the paved trail which led into the small planted forest which held the dwelling of Tellarin. The earthy floor danced with the sunbeams which shone through the mallorn and beckoned young maidens and full hearted elf-children to dance and play with flowers in their hair and sing of the beauties of the world. Instead Cistailé gently wiped clean the already spotless brooch on Galarian's shoulder with her long sleeve.
"Your parents would be proud of you."
"Thank you. Now to prove myself worry of their approval you say they give."
"I am sure, to them you already have." He mulled on this momentarily, then reluctantly nodded his assumed agreement.
"Cistailé, I will speak to you some other time then this afternoon. Your spirit has lessened and dimmed even more since I first requested your time, and it is nothing that cannot wait until later."
"You are sure?"
"Truly. Go now, you and your mother need each other more then ever."
"Thank you." She gently whispered, her head suddenly swimming with a tiredness that would never be repressed. Slipping into her house, her only desire was to lie down and shut out the world.