“My daughter. Arise and be brave to the world.” The open, blank eyes of Cistailé blinked to life slowly at the quietly gentle sounds of Tallarin calling out to her, she sounded miles away. Cistailé winced at the bright outside light shining off the mountain snow, sending dancing shapes before her eyes. “Come, there is shame which comes with hiding. It is not proper for one as you to be driven by troubles into solitude for days. You have duties to your people.” Tallarin lent down her hand for Cistailé to grab. It was cold, but still soft as it had always been.
“Days? Has the sun not set but once?” Standing up off the floor with her mother’s help, Cistailé stretched the sleep out from her limbs and sat back down on her bed concentrating on the words being spoken to her.
“Nay daughter. It has set thrice since you last called to me. You breathed steadily so I did not worry that you had fled to your father’s side. But now you must come. King Turgon has called an assembly to all who can attend, an address. You must go to this.”
“And you? Will you not go to this meeting? Send me not from your side mother, so you can die!”
Tallarin tried to smuggle out a teasing laugh at Cistailé’s overly prompt reaction, but the attempt only made a twitch on her lips. “You are much too quick to assume! No, to quit now would only show Felinor had chosen a weak spirit to join with and I will not disgrace him like that. Rather, you are left to be the heir to this family and must take his place of standing among the remaining nobles of the Noldor. You have a place with the city’s delegation now. I can do not do it, I can not do more then breath as half a body as it is.” Tallarin’s normally engagingly bright eyes had dimmed even more then they had been before, and had sunk lower into her skeletal face, an echo only of her famed beauty. Her dark clothes shadowed her frame and despite a strong attempt to cover her physical weakness, it was as apparent as a withering flower. Tallarin’s last remark sparked concern into Cistailé and she stood up again, deciding she no longer needed the support of the bed to cater to her awoken body.
“But I have no wish to be a voice to the captains and lords of this city. I do not know-“
“You know enough. With the wisdom of our people you will be great. You are a princess of Finwë’s house and should be heard as one. Go now.” Tallarin reached out and grabbed Cistailé’s two hands in each of her own, trying to get her to understand. She would, eventually. Strong, beautiful and of the high house of the Noldor, Cistailé had more in her future then she knew. And planned. She could take up where Felinor had left if she would only let herself be the leading fighter she had shown herself to be in the simple games of youth. But fear of change had always frightened her. And now, whether it was being given the opportunity to rise up, or the fact of replacing her father, sweet tears were forming a glossy pane of glass over Cistailé’s beautifully deep brown eyes. It wrenched a deep wound even deeper.
“Cistailé, Cistailé my beautiful child, it was his fate to die, and now this is yours. It is an honor to serve with the great men of this land. The year has been given to us to weep him as we see fit, but now the future of this city will be told by the King. It would be to your benefit as Turgon’s kin, and as citizen of his city to go and listen, along with everyone else and the others who are on Gondolin’s delegacy. To go is also now your duty. If you will take up the position. Daughter, take up Felinor’s name and be, when he is no long able.” The darkened head of Cistailé dropped to her chest, shaking.
“What can I bring to anyone? I have not even been out side of the mountains.” Already wearied from three days no rest nor food, Tallarin began to wonder for how much longer she would be able to stand and convince Cistailé of the doom placed upon her. She raised up her daughter’s head and looked hard into her eyes. Endlessly deep they were, with a small light hid behind them. They were her father’s eyes.
“Most haven’t been. You don’t have to be a traveler to be wise.”
Tallarin was feeling sorry for her daughter, springing this responsibility on her so quickly, knowing how little of the legalities of ruling she enjoyed at any level. But Cistailé was their only child and taking her father’s place was one of Felinor’s last wishes he had told her before he hardened his illustrious face with a grimness and marched off with the others. Were it be that he did not return, his daughter was to take his place in the city. Cistailé could not be told this just yet though. No, the origin of some requests were best left until they were fulfilled.
“You will not be the only one there. Galarian will have been called to fill one of the lost seats by now. Many others have been called to this task. You will have to do nothing today but listen and accept the responsibility by showing up. I will not leave you ever. Through it all, you will never be alone. Now go! Go to the citadel and hear what Turgon has planned to say.” Cistailé was silent for a moment, the tears drying away before responding.
“I will go. I will go and let it never be said of me that I would do nothing to keep my father’s spirit alive in all ways.” Cistailé grabbed back her hand from Tallarin and sped out of her room, running her fingers through her long hair smoothing it out.
As soon as her daughter was out of the room, Tallarin collapsed upon the bed at hand, her legs weak. There was a time when Felinor would have come to her, kissed her lovingly and helped her back up in his sword strengthen arms. At the thought of her lost husband Tallarin’s innards twisted sickingly remembering all that she had lost. She reached shakily for the goblet she had beforehand placed on the small ledge underneath the carved guardian above the bed, put there while watching over her daughter the last few days. A hasty drink of the berry wine calmed her for a moment, and gave her time to move outside while her stomach began to prepare for the retching it would do, a result of the wine on a empty gut. It had become a nauseating routine.
The citadel was full of Elves already, mostly women and children and the few men not asked to go to war. The white tower of Turgon rose high into the air, challenging even the height of the clouds, the proud banner caught up in the wind. The two giant fountains, one on either side of the entrance to the palace shot up their water in a waterfall of translucent gems, wetting anyone standing nearby with it’s spray. There was a semi-circle of large trees around the courtyard, though the wondrous marble designs of the court was covered by those standing on it. Cistailé began wedging herself into the crowd, trying to find a familiar face, and ultimately to get a view of the stairs which Turgon would appear on to give his address. It was not long before a hand grabbed her shoulder through the crowds and the familiar voice of Galarian was giving her what greeting he could.
“I was told you could be coming here to take your place among the lords and ladies of Gondolin today. I was sent to find you.” He had taken her arm in his hand and was guiding her back through the crowd she had wrestled with already. Most everyone was dressed in their darkest clothes, the white and blue sash of the mourning around their thin mid sections. Cistailé realized she must look out of place and disrespectful in her leaf green she had not yet replaced after the wearied frenzy of three days ago. Galarian had also forgone his normal colors, though he had lost no one immediate, and the late dusk blue of the mantle around his shoulders did plenty of favors for him, not just the clasps telling of his new status.
“Have you seen Aulier in this crowd?” Cistailé called forward to him.
“To the right of the far side of the trees beside her mother, no more then 150 paces from where Maeglin, nephew of the King, will be.”
“And are we bereft of being able to stand beside a friend then?”
“Those of the council are your friends to stand beside now. Did Felinor teach you nothing of his position? We are no longer simply citizens but representatives of the King and are to be amid his entourage. Can a colt grow up to be a great stallion and still play like a foal?”
“He would be no great stallion were that to happen!”
“And so it is now. Not all change is for ill times.”
“But it often comes at such bad times that the change goes unwanted; for those whom change affects.” She returned. They broke through the last of the crowd and turned to walk around the mass of those assembled, making a quicker approach to the front of the courtyard. Galarian dropped back from his leading, as he seemed to know where they were headed too, and eased his voice from the spotted irritation at her small ignorance on a matter she had had no intention of ever being a part of. Having not have had gotten a good look at him when he had picked her up she saw now how rueful he really was for all that happened. There was no smile, no kid on his face and his constantly observing eyes were sad as he paced beside her.
“I have heard no word of you, nor seen trace since you ran to find your mother those days ago, until now. Tell me, how do things fare? I wish to know so I can put at least one part of my mind to rest.”
“There is no fair thing happening at all. Though Tallarin lives and so does her daughter and that alone was feat enough. I have never known death before Galarian.”
“Few have at this degree. Death is breeding death and it is at the point of consuming from the inside out. And still I feel guilty that I should have had a greater part in this tale of woe then I have now.”
“Shamed for living? Galarian had you too been lost in some way… “
“I had asked to go with them. To march out with them. The Captain Glorfindel came and declined my help. I was too young to know what battle brought. I wish I could have been there and saved him for you Cistailé.” Her mouth dropped open for response, being touched deeper by his desired wish then ever he would know, but the crowd began to buzz louder with expectation and suddenly Galarian cut her off.
“Come. We will be late if we do not hurry.” He quickened his stride to a slow jog forcing Cistailé to keep pace so as to not lose sight of his direction. They sped around the fair court and stopped at two armored guards holding their spears proud and unflinching at the entrance to a stone tunnel, running along side the King’s palace.
“The lady is with me. The lord Felinor of whom you knew is lost and I present his daughter Cistailé along with myself to the service of the lords before us performed. May the Valar have mercy and grace upon us and bless Turgon, King of the Hidden City of which Ulmo of the wide seas found and made ready for our use against the evil one.” As one unit the two guards split apart and Galarian resumed his rushed pace, dragging Cistailé behind. The tunnel was not but fifty yards in length and had no roof, but once they emerged, Cistailé found herself starring out at the vast crowds of Gondolindrim and herself being joined into a new crowd of lords and now a few ladies; nobles of the court. Half an arrow shot to her left, rising twelve and three were the stairs which led into the house of Turgon, each step made from a different precious substance of the earth and each bouncing their color off the white walls surrounding it. She remembered coming to assemblies like this one before, and looking upon the council in front of her, looking at her father so serious of face among the others. So many of those faces were missing now, so many replaced. Casting glances about her, she realized she knew many of the new, young Elves standing around her at the back, looking proud but lost and out of place. The council must have been busy the last few days asking remaining children and relations of the dead to take their place.
We return to the forests again. Our hobbit friend has lost all faith and finds the true meaning of apathy by the end of this chapter. He is taken captive by a band of elves and one human. This chapter suggests that some of his past will be revealed soon.