Cistailé found Galarian and Aulier exactly where her mother said. Both of them were under a tree, by the stream that flowed through, laughing happily at some jest. Cistailé hurried to join her two life long friends resting easily in the long green grass.
“Cistailé! I thought your father had you reserved for the day.” Aulier jumped up at the sight of her friend, her golden hair waving in the slight breeze.
“I was. Until my mother pulled rank and took him back.”
“And so it came to pass that Cistailé, the sword maiden became the most proficient in the use of shaped steel, yet would not yield her skill to the aids of those who needed it most.”
Galarian recited the statement like one learned in lore would do. He had stood up from the sitting position he was so comfortable in before Cistailé had arrived and leaned against the trunk of the great tree. It struck Cistailé how much older he looked from the last time she took notice. His muscles were more well formed and he seemed more like the leader he was doomed to be, then the child hood friend he was. His dark hair was pulled back and his breeches told Cistailé he too had just finished a hard day of arms training. She shook her head at his statement.
“Who said anyone required my skills?” questioned Cistailé. “Beside, it is more of a past time which I enjoy the movements of, rather then keeping death on my mind.” Standing up straighter, Galarian let the quick dig to his honor slid past and dared Cistailé to keep going. So she did. “However, I happen to only be proficient in showing you up every time you happen to want to show off your new `highly learned’ skills.” Cistailé winked at Aulier.
“She has you there Galarian.” Aulier cut off Galarain as he stuttered to defend himself; hopelessly two against one. “And don’t say anything about her having better teaching. Only the best pass on their skills. You wouldn’t want to insult the teacher’s would you? ” Galarain finally got a voice in, purposely ignoring Aulier’s question.
“Ok Cistailé, you are the sword master in this circle, but you’ve yet to win a horse race against me. Even all your sweet talk cannot oust the best to second place.”
“Just wait until I train my own horse, you pampered half royal.” She retorted.
“Oh Varda! Take thy light and blind them both.”
“Relax Aulier. It is all in good fun. Maybe you will have to join in on the experience someday.” Leaning over to gently nudge Aulier in the arm Galarian near fell over when Aulier slid just out of his reach, bringing a cascade of laughter from Cistailé.
“Not when I have to listen to it instead. The day you two stop trading your “friendly” insults about linage and position, is the day we get all three simarills back.”
“Weren’t you supposed to be defending me?” Cistailé pipped up.
“She is; she picked one of your ancestor’s skill with the forge as a deterrent.”
“I’ve heard of people being killed for less then that.”
Galarain gave a small laugh then sat himself back under the tree which no longer sufficed as a leaning post. Not in it the tree Cistailé noted, remembering the earlier words of her father. She took the sitting down as defeat for this round and smiled at herself. He had been giving up on these little arguments earlier then normal, which made her wonder. But it was not something to dwell on and so she changed the subject for the sake of her friend’s sanity. “On the subject of simarills, we now have the one that Beren and Luthien just took-“
“Hiding happily in Doriath.” Scoffed Galarian. “I wonder how long it will stay in our hands before it’s taken again. It should have been brought here. No one knows where we are.”
“And that would be WHY it is not here. Because no one would know where to drop it off at. Not like King Thingol would be exactly dancing over to give the jewel up to someone else.”
Aulier sensibly told him. Figuring another one of Galarian’s long winded, highly opinionated speeches was about to start, Cistailé deprived her friend the chance to continue his ravings.
“Well, the other two jewels must not be far behind right? No one is going to just settle for the one. Fëanor came to Beleriand with the intention of getting all three Silmarills, and there is still his sons to keep the oath; which isn’t going to be forgotten.”
“I hope they are not recovered. At last check, that was the date I would have to start being nice to you.” Galarain gave a sly smile at Cistailé.
“I don’t think you know how to be nice to me.” Galarian laughed and gave a side hug to Cistailé who had joined him comfortably in the grass.
“Of coarse I do. I’m practicing being nice to Aulier first. Once I get it down with her, I will start with you.”
“Well keep practicing on me because I haven’t seen an improvement. Anyway, I heard word passed around the stables that there is another battle in the wind. With the one silmarill just taken, they want to attack Morgoth when he is most shaken up over the loss. And the fact that Beren and Luthien snuck past all the defenses he has up, and walked right up to him, must be rather unsettling.”
Offering up the day’s gossip to the others Aulier also settled back down in the grass completing the circle. Also an apprentice under Linganil, it was Aulier who had first taught Cistailé the language of horses, for she had a most natural great love for all living things. Such a love she possessed that it was said of her that it was the Vala Yavanna who formed her spirit in the likeness of her own. But Galarian scoffed at the rumor Aulier told them.
“Where DO they come up with these ideas? If anything, Morgoth will shake off the loss and focus more strength towards offensive powers.” Here Galarian dropped his voice and made sure no one else was around before continuing. “Like dragons and…. balrogs.”
Cistailé felt a shiver go through her spine at the very mention of the last creature. There were Elves in Gondolin who had survived encounters with those evil creatures. They never came back the same, and refused to even mention their cursed name much less tell the tale of their confrontation.
“Galarian do not ever mention those things around me again!” Aulier chastised her friend with upmost seriousness.
“No use hiding facts around here.” After a swift and directed glare, he quickly repented. A second of quietness passed and Cistailé was still.
“Cistailé, it was not that bad was it?”
“If there is another battle, my father will have to go out again won’t he?” The last battle had happened only 18 years before and the effects of it were still easily felt. It was in that battle in which Aulier’s father had perished.
“He will have to go.” Galarian answered; his voice was not without sympathy but then he had nothing to fear. No one would ask his youthful spirit to go to battle just yet.
“Don’t worry Cistailé, Felinor is a great swordsman one of the best. He will come back; if there is another battle.” Cistailé smiled sadly at her two friends.
“Thanks Aulier. But, it was just a rumor right? Come. The sun has set and I am supposed to be back by now.”
” I will see you tomorrow in the barn then Cistailé? I am being put on ground maneuvers.”
“At the rising of the sun.” Galarian nodded his understanding as the two females started to leave, a star in his eye. When they were out of ear shot, Aulier half whispered over to Cistailé.
“I think he enjoys looking at you dirty and specked in hay.”
“I did not think I could be so amusing.”
“Those who do not understand the horse, enjoy those who do.”
“He should get another hobby. You are still free tomorrow?”
“Yes. I am preparing a lunch for us tonight. And a supper for Galarian.” Cistailé laughed.
“He is going to have to work for that meal. I was able to reserve the new colt for his steed.”
“But that colt is only half trained.”
“Linganil better not know.”
“He’s the one who suggested the match! He said the colt and Galarian would teach each other much. I agree. Both are too opinionated for their own good.”
“It leaves room for no dull moments.” The two friends stopped at a two road intersection with the flower edged street spiraled upwards, and the other continuing on down slowly through the city. By habit, Cistailé’s eyes rested on her own house barely visible through the foliage of the tree encircled outskirts of the fourth and second largest level of Gondolin. A fair sized place, built around the mallorn tree which stood there. No matter how many times she saw it, the sight made her smile. It was here that the two friends parted, as Aulier lived on the other side of the third ring.