When all the tears had been shed, and Cistailé’s cries stirred the heart of all who would ever hear, she pulled back from Galarian’s now damp sleeve. The sun had fully emerged from over the mountains and the rays glinted off Cistailé’s wet face. Galarian smiled and wiped away her tears.
“Don’t tell anyone. Aulier especially may think I am softening under a royal beauty.” He added with a wink, trying to bring a smile back to Cistailé’s face. She merely nodded dully and turned away, walking slowly towards the descending stairs which led from the wall heights.
“Where are you going?” Cistailé did not turn to answer but continued on.
“I do not know. I do not care.” Gently pulling open the door to the stairs, fresh sunlight washed away the shadows and the gold plated stairwell glimmered strongly against the whiteness of the city’s walls. Floating down the steps as if in a trance, and out into the city streets Cistailé did not give heed to the approaching figure of Aulier who had finally located her friend.
“Cistailé!” Aulier sped up to meet up beside her. “Cistailé!” Relenting, Cistailé stood in spot and waited for Aulier. The face of her friend was creased with such a sadness it jarred her back to remembering that this horrid madness was not her burden alone, but was the same for all the other thousands dwelling in the city.
It was if Aulier had just been dunked into a sea of unhappiness and had just come out again. Had Galarian been so stricken as well, or had he covered it, trying to ease her tears in place of his own? Maybe not so, Galarian had not lost a father to the wars already; Aulier had to live through this twice, only multiplied with remembrance and reality.
The shock of Cistailé’s sharp change was paralleled to Aulier as well. Having caught up to Cistailé’s side, Aulier stepped back a pace to counter the shock to see anything but gladness framing Cistailé to perfection. The two stood facing each other for a moment, trying to glean any comfort left from each other. Cistailé wanted to give up: such an intolerable weight was introduced into their world, and the feather of happiness for which was exchanged.
A strand of her own dark hair flew before her face in the morning breeze; always cool was the breeze coming down from the mountains. Cool and fresh helping to up lift an already happy spirit, but making her tear stained cheeks freeze. The mountains. The mountains were like a cage, trapping her inside. Suffering like a snail being riddled with salt. What was she doing in here? What kind of protection does rock offer when the inhabitants are still sent out to die anyway?
She could hear Galarian’s hurried foot falls on the soft ground beside her.
“Your mother-” Aulier’s began to speak, her voice trembling with fear. Cistailé perked up from her wandering dissatisfactions.
“Speak! What about my mother?” Suddenly her own sorrow and the seeming cage of the did not matter any longer.
“She is…she is grieving horribly.” Cistailé’s eyes grew wide. Grieving…..mercilessly? Suddenly she felt like a conceted fool, thinking of herself when her mother…..she had seen this happen before but had only observed it, hopelessly from a distance. Few of the ones afflicted ever returned from their state of incredible grief. Life mattered no more to them, only a permanent escape.
“Where? Where have you seen her?!”
“Your house, for she has not left it. I discovered her while looking for you.”
Cistailé wasted no more time on words, pushing herself past Aulier, the folds of her dress rustling at her feet leaving both her friends behind. She hastened through the freakishly quiet
streets, maneuvering the streets with perfect ease.
Hauntingly empty. Too stagnant; for good reason. Many who had graced these same walks were gone. And it was unnerving. Coming to a wide stepped stair, which lead to another level in the ascending city, Cistailé began to run up them. A somber guard who’s breast plate was blazoned with the Two Trees, took no heed in her passing but kept a silent vigil. Taking an immediate right, Cistailé worked her way through more streets to find the next stair, staggered eastward from the last set. These she sped up as well, and then a left, and took the quickest way back to the outskirts of Gondolin; where the city’s few trees had the greatest freedom to grow. There the great mallorns grew, one of the few reminders of the West which was brought over during the Exile. Fourth tree in, two over, and there a great house had been fashioned. Just as white as the city itself, and centered around the tree’s trunk, two floors built on top of each other to conserve the small forest floor. Cistailé ran past the trees taking no heed to them, their beauty silvery lost to her eyes, as she ran into the house she had known for all her life.
“Mother?!” Her voice was thick with pain as her eyes began to dart around the foyer searching for some life other then her own. She rushed further into the house not seeing her mother there. Aulier had not said where she seen Tallarin. She should have waited for a second longer and asked! Cistailé moaned in frustration and carried on out to the garden, a place where her father and mother could often be found together talking or just enjoying everything around them. Or that’s how she always found them.
The garden was a beautiful place, a world of it’s own. Sheltered by trees and rose bushes, flowers boarded the walk ways while sweet herbs always scented the air. Cistailé would often sleep out there when she had the mind too, and it seemed probable that it was here that Tallarin would fall down in a strengthless grief. The garden was undisturbed peace inside turmoil, it always had been.
Cistailé exited the house and stepped into the garden. A wave of sweet aromas hit her so that her other senses seemed insignificant, and it would have been well to stand in the entrance and simply smell, had not other matters been more important.
There were three different paths which led into the garden, each meeting one another in the center. In the middle was a circular clearing where a gazebo covered a small fountain of marble which always bubbled happily. There were stone benches placed along the different paths, hidden in the trees and rich flowers, beckoning anyone to sit and enjoy. Along the path which was to Cistailé’s right lay a gold and silver monument to the now dead Two Trees in Valinor, which for so long had provided the light of day and night. It was this path which Cistailé now went down promptly, the dew from the night still resting on the ground, wetting the bottom of her unshod feet. She wove her way through the curving path, knowing every curve, every turn
so well. Her eyes searched frantically for her mother but to no avail.
No one else was there, not even the birds were amid the bushes rejoicing as the sun rose ever higher. The path rounded a curve and emptied out into a high bush wall which made a perfect circle around the center piece. Cistailé continued her rapid pace towards the gazebo before heading on towards the next path. Stepping inside to rapidly glanced behind the fountain, she gasped as she beheld her fallen mother on the floor, head cast down on the seat which ran the entire curcumfrence of the structure. Her wave riddled dark hair was cast over her face, and her silvery gray dress made her almost blend with the work around her. But she did not move, her body was not shaken with tears, nor did any words of utterance leave her lips.
Cistailé began to fight the tears that threatened to fall again as the realization came that maybe she had come to late. Her mother had left already, and all that was remaining was her cold body. She knelt slowly beside the body, afraid to disturb what was laying there as a perfect painting. Tallarin’s hand was still cast upon the chiseled stone, so for this Cistailé reluctantly reached for, pale in the bright sun. It was soft and cool, though not devoid of all it’s warmth. Her mother gave no response to her touch, and it seemed that her back did not rise and fall with breath. Cistailé’s own breathing became caught up in a sticky web as she bit her lip, a vain attempt to keep the tears back. She was alone now and the two whom she loved the most were gone. A shuddering wave of hit her and she began to weep bitterly, still grasping the hand of her mother, her tears carving jagged paths down the grooves in both their hands. She slumped there for a few moments, until a small twitch of life was felt in her hand. Automatically Cistailé gave a little squeeze back to her mother’s hand, but paid no attention to it. Until a stronger flexing was felt. Cautiously Cistailé turned back around to face the body of her mother choking back the tears. Had she been only cast into a deep sleep then? Almost in a whisper Cistailé called out.
“Mother?” No reply came but for another wring between the hands, and Cistailé firmly gripped her mother’s hand in her own, now convinced she had not departed, and a new faint hope inside of her began to swell up. Wiping the tears away with her other hand, Cistailé watched her mother’s figure unsure of what to do now. Wearily, Tallarin’s head began to rise from the stone on which it was set. As her head lifted, the long, beautiful hair fell away, revealing her face. Cistailé almost jumped back with fright when she saw what had been hidden underneath. Looking into her mother’s eyes, was like looking into those of a dead man. Devoid of any life, and vacant, looking at nothing, although she stared right at her child. Her skin was ashen grey, her cheeks seemed to be deflated, and her pale lips completed the almost grotesque complexion. She really did look as if she had been dead for days already and yet but one night only had passed since that news had been received. Not wanting to see her mother in such a way as she was, yet loving every moment looking at her living face, Cistailé had no choice but to not turn away. The pale lips began to part as a far away sounding voice began to barely audibly speak.
“My child. My flesh and blood.” Cistailé quivered internally. Her voice was so reminiscent of something so much more beautiful and greater then what it was now. Once again tears began to form. They knew as little limit as the sorrows of the day.
“My mother. Most treasured and loved.”
“Strength flows out of me like the day I bore you. I will find restoration in the Halls of Mandos. Your cries broke the rest of my heart, and my love is gone. I had not the strength to answer you before.”
“No!” Cistailé gasped. “If you leave I will surly follow for I am torn. You alone now can help tenderly sow all the pieces back together.”
“I am half gone. Can you not see it? I lived for him, now I will die for him.”
“Father will wait for you, can you not wait for him? At the expense of your daughter?” Cistailé pleaded earnestly. Losing one parent was almost unbearable, but to lose both, that would certainly bring more grief then she could deal with. Tallarin’s barren eyes began to fill with anguish which made her more haunting then before.
“Sighing has come to me instead of food and my moans pour out like water. What I have always feared, every time he set out in arms, has come upon me; what I have dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace any longer, no quietness. All my rest has gone and I am left with only turmoil.”
“And the others who share the same loss, don’t feel the same way? They will not all die away, for they still hold a deep hope! Life is still here to take for yourself. The flame to which we live by is not hidden. Is that not why many still fight, and father went away willingly, because they, he, knew they had stopped evil from taking all we have left. Father went away trusting that what he fought to keep, we would take.”
“So is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for a hidden treasure. I cannot bear this burden of life any longer.”
“And I cannot bear the thoughts which haunt me, the visions which plague me and the knowledge which has mortally wounded me.”
“You are still young in this world Cistailé. Live it in remembrance of Felinor and I.”
“How can I live when those who gave me life lost their own life. How?!”
“The endurable spirit of Felinor will live on in you. It is strong and will overcome much when not held back.”
“What about the unforgettable spirit of Tallarin then?” There was a stint of quietness from her mother as she cast down her eyes like a chastised child.
“It will finally been forgotten. Cistailé my child, leave now so you will only have to know the passing of one, and not see it.” Cistailé could tell that it pained her mother to speek such a thing, but the fierce devotion she felt to her mother refused to let her leave. Even now there was still a chance to change her mind.
“I will not leave you to depart alone. Not while we can still live together.”
“There is no hope for that.”
“Then I hold on to a false hope and so does everyone else. You will not have to wait long until I follow you and reunite with father and my existence in Beleriand shall be forfeit.” There was silence for a few moments, the babbling fountain coming back to life in Cistailé’s ears. Tallarin’s head fell back down to the stone seat as if it were too heavy for her to hold up. Her hair once again fell around her ghostly face covering it over. A small pool of tears began to stretch out from under the dark veil as Tallarin’s body began to convulse with weeping. Cistaile stood up now, understanding her mother’s new resolve. The mind was set and that resolve would be the strength she would live by. Tallarin’s husband, her own father was dead but destinies would not change because of it. They would only be fulfilled.