She looked around her surroundings. What was she doing here? Where was she? Hadn’t she just been seeing through the eyes of an eagle, looking straight into the face of the king? Why was she blocked in with armed men all around? Why was she walking, not flying? Confused, Cistailé glanced down at herself. She realized the armor of her city had replaced the sleek feathers which had covered her better then a cloak of honor. A helmet was in the crook of her arm, a long sword bounced at her left side, she had a leather jerkin over top of the chain mail she wore, and they were walking, fast. Hadn’t they all been stopped, so they could hear the eagle; her? There seemed to be no trace of such an event in the way they walked and their faces held no tale. Few spoke, even then it was quick and no eagle was ever mentioned. Cistailé glanced ahead of her. For as far forward as she could see, countless heads bobbed with the time of the stepping feet. Looking behind her the same was revealed. There were spears uncounted both in front and rear. They were as a marching forest with glinting stars shining over head. Not everyone carried a spear with them, most of them did, but the company with whom Cistailé was marched only with their side arms.
Trying to look around to take note of her surroundings, proved more difficult then originally thought. She was in the middle of the company, four of her kin on either side, many of them taller then her, and they all carried a pack for food and other necessities which gave little room to see about. There was no hint of any forest, or tree life. A dried brush here or there, maybe other small green vegetation, but it went unseen from all the passing bodies. The ground, although thoroughly trampled by all the feet, wasn’t completely wasted, but still held some green properties, which suggested a source of water near by. Everything was alien to Cistailé’s eyes, even the sun which was still young in the sky looked different. It was still early in the day! The eagle had come during noon, and then there had been much life around, even a rabbit. So this must be the next day, or maybe a few days afterwards. If the eagle had really appeared, it would no longer be a topic to discuss, not with war so close by. But when was she? Many times the Eldar had marched to war, the northern marches were not an uncommon place to wage a battle.
Far up ahead the sound of a great horn could be heard blowing. Strong and sweet like a victory already won, the clear trumpeting of Turgon’s horn rang into the distance, declaring the coming of friends to allies, and the approaching battle to his soldiers. All around determination grew strong, and a nervous excitement could be felt charging the air. They were ready. What seemed like an echo of something much greater began to breath into the ears of those who could make out it’s sound from the clashing metal as they walked. It was a response to some word, and it drifted from the north, where other Elves and men must be awaiting their arrival.
“Auta i lómë! The night is passing!”
A few smiles cracked through the stern faces. Their allies were looking for them!
Turgon’s host continued their trek with a renewed vigor until night fell when the order to make camp was given. It was not much of a camp, for none carried tents, not even the king. It was all extra weight which only made long walks harsher when energy needed to be saved for fighting. Cistailé had tried to find out when she was. There was naught else to do but ask those around her. But that proved as futile as making a sweet hearted dwarf, as the saying went. Those who she had approached while marching ignored her inquiries as much as they had ignored her feminine presence. No one even acknowledged the sound of her voice, or her touch when she tried to jar them from their seeming waking sleep. It was like she did not exist to them. Which could or could not be to her favor. At any time someone could finally awake to find her, and who would be the first to acknowledge her slightly apprehensions.
Now, as she strolled through the camp, she was searching for any faces she could recognize, or a conversation she could listen in on, which could tell her something of her situation. Anyone would normally be tired from the long, hot, fast paced hike from that day, but Cistailé felt neither tired, or anxious about the obvious battle which her kin marched too. And herself with them, but she had a feeling she would not be parted from their path. There was no place to run away to and no one to find her out; yet anyway. And there was a growing knowing deep inside which told her that as smoothly as she had come here to this march, she would not depart without drawing the sword at her side.
Already there were many Elves laying down on the unforgiving ground, their rounded figures turning the flatness to the likes of a leafy top of an tree. Small fires dotted the vast plain, a larger fire was in the middle of the host. Where Turgon and his captains were taking counsel no doubt. She wondered if she could sneak up and hear what they were saying. Without a question what was being exchanged now would help answer her questions. All through the day none had spoken to her, or even looked at her; what would the chances be that right now anything would change? And she had no intention of putting to evil use anything she heard….
Like a guilty spy Cistailé began to side step around the figures on the ground, making her way towards the largest fire at the center of thousands, thinking if she should really listen to what was being said. It would help her find the answer to her questions, but this was the King! Stepping over a particular body blocking her nearness from the king, she could hear faint snitches of the of captains already, as her foot gently grazed over the knee of the golden hair warrior. She stopped mid-stride and held her breath chastening herself in her thoughts. Foolery! She had became careless in her invisibility and desire to reach that council. Just watch and see that fate would play this warrior to be the one who would wreck the trend of ignoring her. She was being so senseless! Thankfully this man seemed like the rest and did not seem to notice her touch. She quietly let out her breath and began to finish her step when suddenly a hand snapped up and grabbed her ankle. Giving a little yelp of surprise, she steadied her now beating heart, noting the warrior she had been stepping over propped up on his elbow, her ankle in his iron hand. There was no real light given off from any of the fires, and the night sky was clouded over, so there was no light to see the face of her captor. Nothing to judge his mood by, whether it be pleasant or not. She did not say anything, only stared at him with wide eyes, hoping her small scream was not heard by anyone else, and that he would not think her a rouge.
“Answer me quickly for your life: Who is the true ruler over Arda?” The golden haired elf spoke quietly yet scathingly up to her.
It was a trick question! No! Not a trick. The question raced through Cistailé’s mind, while she tried to find the right answer which awaited the question somewhere in her mind. Hearing one speak to her startled her, and she knew the wrong answer now could earn her the title of a spy and a quick death, especially since she had been headed in the direction of the king. She hesitated, but as she did so, the hard grip on her ankle grew tighter, and she blurted out another question instead.
“The king or the steward, my lord?”
“Then it would be Ilúvatar, my lord. The same who’s hand is forever with us, and I say his name only because you bid me too.” The grip on her ankle released and Cistailé thankfully placed her foot back on the ground. The warrior stood up from his position grabbing up the sword and cloak he had been resting his head upon.
“Come with me. You gave a wise answer, and unless you are a well restrained spy, and unless my eyes and ears deceive me in this dark, I have many questions for you, my lady. There is a fire near the camp’s edge where we can have some privacy.” The elf’s voice softened and became familiar as he slipped his cloak around Cistailé’s shoulders and wove his way through the many laying figures. Around and not over, Cistailé reminded herself. She thought of her original mission to the king and his confidants and realized how incredibly mad it had been. What if they had caught her? The words of captains of war were never meant for a maidens ears.
It took a fair deal of time to maneuver to the edge of the large camp, and the elf she followed kept away from the fires as best he could, for which Cistailé was grateful. He had noticed her, how many more could now? Surly they would send her away.
True to the elf’s word, there was a low burning fire which was now unattended and a few rocks around it upon which to sit. The rock’s position looked like they had been there unmoved for years, though this illusion Cistailé knew. Elves never left the wild to look habited.
The elf set down his sword he had been carrying and motioned for her to sit on one of the rocks. Throwing a bit of powder from a small pouch into the embers, the elf sat down on a rock opposite her, as small flames began to grow from the coal. She adjusted the cloak around her shoulders and looked across the fire into the face of her captor and almost gasped, shocked with joy.
There grew a smile on Midaehros’ face, though it lasted for only a moment as it was covered with concern again.
“So then I was not wrong in assuming that Felinor’s daughter was before me! I was not sure in the darkness, for I was hardly awake still when you walked by, and I took no chances at your coming. Cistailé how are you here? For I saw you among the crowds as we marched from Gondolin.”
“I do not know how, or why, or anything. I do not even know when I am!”
“Then let me answer that, for when I can tell you. It is the year 473, and we march now to war against Morgoth for the fifth battle.”
Cistailé shot Midaehros a horrid look through the flames.
“The Nirnaeth!” she breathed to herself. “What evil betide! Please, can you take me to my father?”
Midaehros hesitated and took thought of her reaction to his words. What did she know that the rest did not?
“My lady, it seems that you know more of this battle then we do already, I do not think that it would be wise to see Felinor.”
“But he is-!” Cistailé cut herself short.
“He is what?”
“Please, I must see him!” Cistailé leaned forward on her rock and pleaded with Midaehros. He did not seem moved by her plea as he studied the situation before him.
“First tell me more about your adventures with us, then I will decide if I will lead you to Felinor. You make certain suspensions rise up in my mind.”
Cistailé stared out to Midaehros, trying to control the anger which had begun to burn deep inside. Her father was here, right now, she just wanted to look upon him again! This was her last chance to see her father in more then just a memory, to feel the safety which he invoked in her every time he hugged her; as a father who dearly loves his child. She could see Midaehros waiting for her to respond, in that patient way of his. It angered Cistailé more to see him not doing anything, not moving. They could talk while they went for her father, the sun would not stay down forever, time was being lost!
Flustered at her dire request being snubbed, Cistailé stood up.
“I am glad to see her here, friend of my father, but time which has yet to stop, is flying away. I do not have time to tell you tales.” Stepping around the fire, Cistailé began to move back towards the bivouac.
“You won’t find him Cistailé.” Spinning around, Cistailé was but an arm’s length away from Midaehros. His green eyes reflected the dancing flame as he fingered a piece of a weed he had plucked from the scant ground. “There are more of us here then you have the time to check. I know where your father is, and I am most likely the only one who is in the mind to help you, without stationing you far away from this forsaken place. Which I should be doing right now. Forget the anger you hold, sit down and answer my question.”
Knowing he was right, Cistailé slowly, and gracefully sat back down on the rock making an effort to show that she was no longer the child Midaehros had known. He took note of the change in presentation and smiled to himself. She still had much to learn and know, he thought. Years would teach her that and much more. With the years she had become more beautiful then he remembered with pride, she could only become more so. He waited for her to begin to talk.
Resigning Cistailé deftly began telling Midaehros about first the flight of the eagle, and standing before Turgon, then suddenly finding herself among the ranks and no one acknowledging her and that he was the first. She braved the explanation as to why she had been caught stepping over him, knowing that he would ask about it anyway. He was silent through the tale and nodded to himself as he took in the facts. When Cistailé had finished telling of the events, Midaehros stood up from his side of the fire and sat down beside Cistailé leaning his elbows on his knees as he leaned forward towards the fire, the light of the flames licking at his face.
“It is good for you that I caught you before you made it to Turgon. I am sure you realize the folly of your plan so I will not mention it anymore. As for everything else, I think…. I think I may know, `what’ you are in, because there is no way that slipping off in a sleep would led you to this reality by chance. The Valar have ways even we cannot understand.”
“Nor will we ever, but what of this thinking that you are toying me with? Tell me!”
“What you have said brings back a memory of something which I had heard even before Godolin’s foundations were laid, though I did not believe it at the time. If I am right in associating you and this story together… by favor granted to you Cistailé, you have been sent to witness some event here; Cistailé Thuramo, blessed of the angelic powers.” Midaehros drew in a breath and continued his conclusion. “This story I speak of, a great lord, long ago told me his experience, knowing how hard I sought any and all knowledge. He began by saying that as a very young elf child his parents were taken away as slaves in Morgoth’s mines, and he was left to die by the enemy. However a wandering group of Green Elves found him, and they nurtured him until he grew strong, noble and restless. He began to inquire of his past, not knowing anything of his heritage or linage or even his parents’ names but only found out what the Nandor knew, which amounted to virtually nothing. One night as he cast himself down to rest, a dream came over him so real, it was like it truly was. He saw who he was, the son of a powerful representative of one of the Teleri, he saw what had happened to his parents and himself, he saw it all. He was even able to speak quickly to his father just before the enemy took his away. When this lord woke up, he left the Nandor, who had been so kind to him, and went out in search of the king his father had represented, and he now follows the destiny put before him. I did not really believe that all was true when he told me, but now it seems it could very well have been.” He added with a small grin, “Lorien the Vala must keep these dreams only for the most deserving.”
Cistailé was quiet for a moment before she responded. Although the night was warm, she shivered and pulled the cloak Midaehros had given her closer around her body.
“All this around me then, is a dream. It is not real.”
“To you maybe not. For me this is my reality.”
“Before I met up with you, it was like I did not subsist to the others; Becuase I do not exist.” Cistailé mumbled to herself, then looked up at the face so close to her. She had always thought it handsome. “Why can you see and talk to me, and none else?” Midaehros shrugged his unknowing.
“That brings up the question of your father.”
“I do not think there is a question to him. You will bring me to him now?”
He wavered at that question, still unsure of what to do. Cistailé had quickly gotten over her anger, and now her brown eyes shone out to him with eagerness. He, Midaehros was the first to be able to see Cistailé, as though he was meant to be with her now, to help her. What if Felinor could see her? It was clear by her reactions his daughter knew of the future, and this now was the past to her, if she were to meet him… He took another look at Cistailé then made up his mind. Knowing the close relationship the two of them had, he would take the chance.
“I will take you to your where you father is. There are a few things which I will tell you about any conversation you might have with him, as we go.” The grin which appeared on Cistailé’s face was enough to make the decision worth it already, the hug which he received sealed his contentment for the moment. He stood up and grabbed his sword on the ground.
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.