Upon waking, his first instinct was to look to the one who lay at his side. Estel was safely in a deep and untroubled sleep beside him. How innocent, almost childlike, he seemed in his sound sleep, Elrohir mused, though truly, while in the eyes of the Eldar he remained no more than a child, he was a man now as his people reckon the years. His people. The thought stuck Elrohir that the time was short when Estel would remain ignorant of his true identity. Then his life would change forever, and likely his days would be harsh and full of hardship. He realized with great sadness that Estel’s sleep may never be so untroubled again.
Tenderly, Elrohir pulled the blanket higher around the young man’s shoulders, and rising from his bedroll, he made his way easily through the dark to the source of his unease. There, on the perimeter of the camp he found his mirror image, as he knew he would. Even in the dim light of pre-dawn, he could see, or rather feel, that Elladan was extremely tense, as if straining his senses to their very limits in an effort to detect something that eluded all perception.
Silently stepping forward, Elrohir gently put a hand on his twin’s shoulder and spoke softly, almost pleadingly. “Elladan, dawn is almost breaking, you must take some rest while you still can.”
Elladan did not turn to face his brother and he seemed to grow more tense at the softly spoken entreaty. His voice seemed almost bitter as he responded. “You of all people should understand that I can not rest. Or do you too disbelieve me when I tell you that some ill will soon befall us?”
Elrohir moved to stand in front of his twin, and looking directly into the eyes that were a reflection of his own, he spoke earnestly. “It should go without saying that I believe you Elladan, but if you do not take some rest, you will not be at your best to face whatever challenge lays before us. You will be of no aid to Estel if you are half-dead from the exhaustion your constant tension and lack of rest has brought on.”
At the mention of Estel, Elladan’s face became a mask of grief. “Just as I was of no aid to Estel’s father, nor his grandfather before him.”
Elrohir felt Elladan’s sorrow deeply and he pulled his twin into a tight embrace. Pressing his forehead against that of his brother, he whispered words meant only for Elladan’s ears. “The deaths of Arathorn and Arador were tragedies that no one could have prevented. We both fought at their sides and did all that was in our power to protect them, but, sadly, their time had come. Ever do you try to carry the weight of all Arda on your shoulders my brother. You can not master fate, Elladan, no matter how much you may so desire. Some things are not in your power to control. How ever will I convince you to let go your misplaced blame and lay down your needless burdens?”
Elladan remained in Elrohir’s embrace and his voice was still deeply laden with grief as he questioned his brother: “Why then am I able to see tragedy before it happens, but I am unable to do anything to prevent it? Why am I tormented by a foreknowledge that I can not put to any good purpose?”
“It is not our place to question the will of Iluvatar. All we can do is accept gratefully that which we are given and trust that all is unfolding as it should.” Elrohir could feel his brother’s tension ease slightly at his words.
Now Elrohir released his twin to look in his eyes. “I implore you again to take some rest. I will take your place on the watch.”
Elladan tensed once more in resistance to his brother’s plea. “Nay, this is my burden to bear. This duty belongs to no one else.”
Gently Elrohir placed a hand on the side of his twin’s face. “You are me, and I you. I will be our eyes and keep our watch. Ease your mind, if but for short time, and trust me to guard Estel, for I love him too.” Elrohir’s tone was soft but his eyes held a firm resolve and Elladan knew that he had reached the point where his usually pliant brother would bend no more.
Accepting defeat, Elladan averted his gaze and bowed his head. “Very well, I will try to take some rest, and though I do not think I will find it, there is none but you to whom I would entrust this duty.”
With that Elladan returned silently to the center of the camp, and finding his bedroll prepared for him, he lay down to find what ease he could. Elrohir, always true to his word, took his brother’s place and kept his ever vigilant watch until the light of dawn emerged from the east and spread across the early morning sky, painting it with a red glow.
With the lightening of the sky, the camp came again to life, and the elves of the patrol began to busy themselves with the preparations for yet another day of tracking trolls. Through it all Estel remained asleep, and none of the elves had the heart to wake him, for truly it pleased them to see the young one sleep so peacefully.
Glorfindel found Elrohir on the camp perimeter, still keeping his watch. “Does your young charge always sleep so soundly? If so, I wonder that he has not yet found himself as a meal for wargs.”
Elrohir felt the need to defend his foster-brother. “Do not underestimate Estel’s ever-growing abilities, Glorfindel. He sleeps soundly now because he knows he is secure, but ever is he on the alert for signs of danger. See how he keeps his sword close at hand as we have taught him? I have seen him rouse himself from the deepest of human sleep to a state of full alertness in mere moments at the first hint of danger. Grant him this peaceful rest, for I do not believe he will find it much longer.”
Raising his arms with his palms out in a placating gesture, Glorfindel responded with a smile: “Peace, Elrohir, for I was merely teasing. Well aware should you be by now of my penchant for vexing you and your brother first thing in the morning!” At this Elrohir found it difficult to resist his desire to roll his eyes, an action that he had been told on several occasions was very un-elven.
Glorfindel continued, though his tone was more serious now. “Well do I know of Estel’s abilities and great is my faith in him, for had it been otherwise, I would not have allowed him his place on this patrol. Still, his mortal sleep is so deep, I can not help but wonder where he goes in his dream world.”
Clearly remembering the terrified screams of a very young boy, traumatized by the sudden loss of his father and practically the entire world that was familiar to him, in the throes of a nightmare, Elrohir responded somberly. “At times, to some very dark places.”
Glorfindel, familiar only with the wakeful sleep of the elves in which he could walk the path of dreams as he chose, found nothing to say in response, for truly he could not begin to conceive of the idea of a nightmare. However, as he looked around him at the elves of the party each performing the duties assigned to them, Glorfindel did find something to comment on. “Elrohir, why are you on the watch? It was not your duty.”
Now Elrohir found it his turn to be at a loss for words as he did not wish to discuss Elladan’s misgivings with Glorfindel. If his brother wished to speak more of it, that was his choice. Thus, Elrohir settled for a response that was no answer. “There is no harm in an extra pair of eyes to guard the camp.”
An ageless wisdom was reflected in Glorfindel’s eyes as he responded with certainty: “Ah, so your twin is worrying yet again about Estel, and you, worrying yet again about your twin, insisted on taking his place in order to make him get some rest.”
Finding that he could no longer resist the urge to roll his eyes, Elrohir responded curtly: “That would be an accurate assessment of the situation, Glorfindel.” There were times such as this when the ancient warrior had the ability to make Elrohir feel again like a thirty-year old elfling, and at this moment he found himself inclined to agree with Elladan’s opinion that Glorfindel could be exasperating. Suddenly, he felt true empathy with Estel and he could well understand what it must mean to be constantly amongst beings who are your elders by millennia.
Giving Elrohir a small smile and a knowing look, Glorfindel said no more on the subject as Elladan now approached them, seemingly much refreshed and more relaxed from even the small rest he had allowed himself.
Glorfindel greeted him warmly. “Elladan! It is good to see you in better spirits this day. You, and the rest of the patrol, will be most glad to know that I have decided personally to take on the duty of making of our breakfast. Might I suggest that you come along to observe, for you may just learn something.” With a smile and a slight bow of his head, Glorfindel then returned to the camp to begin the meal preparations.
The brothers exchanged a glance as they watched his retreating form and then Elladan spoke softly to his twin. “I owe you an apology for my previous behaviour and a thank-you, my brother, for truly I feel better for having taken some rest. Always you know what I need, even if I may not know it myself.”
“You need never thank me Elladan, for when I act in your best interest, always I act in my own. You have done no less for me on many occasions.”
Unusually, Elladan seemed to hesitate as he looked toward the camp. Then he spoke with a sigh, a slight grimace marring his fair face: “I suppose we must now return, for I seem to be due for a cooking lesson.”
Elrohir could not stifle his laughter at the expression on his brother’s face. “Do not look so downtrodden! Are you not always telling me that we should embrace the opportunity to learn new tactics and skills?” Sharing a laugh, the brothers returned to the camp to rejoin the others and observe the making of the morning meal.
As the elves of the patrol broke their fast, they enjoyed their last few minutes of ease before another long day of scouting and tracking, and soon they were joined by a rather sheepish looking Estel, finally roused from his sleep by the smell of food. He endured the elves’ good-natured teasing about his sleeping habits with a smile, for truly he felt their love and acceptance.
Estel reflected that it had not always been easy growing up the only human boy in a realm of elves many centuries his senior. Perhaps he would remain forever as a child in their eyes, for how could they see him otherwise? Now, however, he knew he had reached an age where he would be considered a man amongst the Edain, and he felt himself well ready to take on the responsibilities of an adult. Through his experiences with this patrol over the last three years he had learned so much and gained greatly in his skills. He had faith in his own abilities, and he was confident that in time he would be able to prove himself as a man to the elves of his patrol. While he knew not what the future held, Estel now came to realize that if he was to spend the rest of his days in the service of his foster father’s realm, then he would be quite content.
Thus, with a soft smile Estel glanced at the elves around him, until his eyes came to rest on the eldest son of Elrond, and then his smile did falter. Elladan remained his greatest source of discontent. Estel remembered well his conversation with Elrohir on his first tour with the patrol and much had he thought over his brother’s words in the three years since. However, despite Elrohir’s assurances of Elladan’s love, the elder twin remained ever harsh with him. For the sake of the love they each shared for their brother, Elrohir, Estel had tried again to bridge the distance between them though Elladan continued to keep him away. With a soft sigh Estel recalled the wish that he had made the previous night, that somehow he could find an understanding and a peace with his brother’s brother.
After the morning meal, Glorfindel met briefly with Elladan and Elrohir in private to discuss strategies for the search and the day’s duties for each member of the patrol. Estel was included in the conversation, for they always took the opportunity to teach him, particularly concerning command decisions.
Once again, Elladan seemed restless and tense and he spoke insistently to Glorfindel. “I wish to be included amongst the primary scouts this day for I am not content to sit upon my horse and wait to hear them report their findings. If we are to engage and destroy these fell beasts then I wish to be amongst those who seek them out, not to wait passively for them to be led to us.”
Glorfindel regarded the elder twin seriously for a moment before responding. “Ever are you hasty with your decisions, Elladan. You would best serve the patrol by remaining with the warriors in the main party.”
Elladan tried to reason with his commander. “My tracking abilities are second to none in this patrol, Glorfindel, and well do you know it. My skills would be a great asset to the scouting party.”
Though his expression remained serious, there was a glint of humour in Glorfindel’s eyes as he responded. “Your ability at tracking is not in question, it is your ability to move swiftly and silently through the trees that concerns me.”
With these words, Estel noticed that Elladan was now frowning outright and Elrohir was trying unsuccessfully to hide a smile beneath his hand. Once again Estel was struck by the all too familiar sensation that he was missing an important part of the conversation.
Elladan’s short temper was clearly nearing an end as he responded testily: “I was a mere eighty years old! Are you never going to let me live that down? Surely you understand that my abilities are much improved since then!”
Glorfindel showed no outward signs of anger but there was a steely resolve in his tone as he answered: “Truly do I know that you have changed much since then, Elladan, but your rashness and your tendency to rush into danger without due thought and consideration has remained unaltered.”
Elrohir and Estel exchanged slightly nervous glances, for they were both knew where this discussion could be leading. Over the centuries, Elrohir had seen this conversation played out many times as Glorfindel and Elladan often had differing perspectives and both had strong personalities that frequently clashed. Estel, too, with his keen, quick insight and his natural intuition, was clearly beginning to understand the pattern of their interactions.
Elladan attempted to keep his temper in check, for he too understood the typical course of his dialogue with Glorfindel. Ever would he take the opportunity to try to persuade, though in this case he believed it to be futile. “I am not rash, I simply do not take years to ponder each decision I make. Certainly, I have changed, and glad I am for it, but you, Glorfindel, have changed little since a time long gone. Still are you ordering your patrols as you did two millennia ago! You are never willing to try new strategies that may be beneficial to all.”
Glorfindel now seemed to be amused outright as he shook his head and answered with a smile. “Ah, young one, never have I seen one amongst the Eldar who is so restless, so driven by the need for change. Always do you seek to fix that which is not broken.”
While seemingly aware that this was an argument he would not win, Elladan, yet remained defiant. “Ancient one, always do I try to improve where there are improvements to be made.”
In a tone that made clear the conversation was now over, Glorfindel responded: “Be that as it may, this is an ‘improvement’ that we will not make this day. Your tracking skills can still be put to good use on the ground with the main patrol, Elladan.”
Thus, the day began much as the day before it, and as the patrol continued its usual search pattern, there was again marked tension between the leader and the second in command. Also as in the previous day, there continued to be no obvious signs of troll activity through the noon hour, though all remained highly alert. However, as the day wore on and the shadows were lengthening in the late afternoon hours, the whole party, including Estel, began to notice a change in the air, a sense of deep foreboding that hung around them heavily.
The scouts began to report back to their commanders that increasingly they were detecting the malevolent signs of large, ferocious beasts in the forests surrounding them. There were scars upon the living woods; trampled bushes, broken tree limbs, and in some cases, giant mature trees recently uprooted from the places where they had grown in peace for centuries. Also were they finding many fresh remains of such large forest animals as deer, wolves and even bears, all of whom had died of unnatural causes, gutted and desiccated, with little sign left of their previous existence but their bare bones stripped of all flesh and marrow.
As the sun was beginning its descent behind the horizon, Elladan signaled without sound a halt to the slow forward progress of the patrol and leapt gracefully and silently from his horse. Motioning for Glorfindel, Elrohir and Estel to follow, he knelt and studied the ground beside the trail, and finding what he sought, he carefully moved aside some dense bushes to reveal enormous tracks made by the giant feet of what could only be a troll. Having never seen one of the beasts live, Estel could scarce believe the evidence before his eyes of the mammoth tracks and the enormity of the creature to which such feet must belong.
Elladan spoke, his voice urgent, but no more than a whisper. “So fresh are these tracks that I can still feel the heat of the foot that made the indent in the soil.”
Glorfindel promptly rose and without speaking, signaled for the patrol to prepare for the inevitable battle that was imminently to come. Almost instantaneously, the well-trained warriors were ready to face the fearsome enemy that long they had sought. Minutes passed and though the warriors remained in their alert battle stance, all was quiet. Too quiet, Estel realized as he strained his senses to the forest around him, his sword ever at the ready. Suddenly, Estel felt the ground beneath him shake and at first he thought that he must be experiencing some great tremor emanating from beneath the earth. Then he heard such a great bellow of unadulterated rage, a seemingly unnatural sound so loud that he could feel it in his bones, and Estel realized with more than a little apprehension that they must have indeed found their quarry.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.