It seemed like a good idea at the time, there were two road to take and two people to take them. It seemed only logical to split up.
But I can’t shake the feeling that you, all alone on the other road, out of my sight, out of my reach, are somehow in need of my help.
Elrohir?... Where are you?
It has been four days since I parted from Elladan, but I still look sideways from time to time and expect him to be there. Even though I know (I do know) that he went the other way, the concept is somehow impossible to comprehend.
I find myself talking to him, sometimes, and I can see the people of the villages look at me as if I am insane. I don’t blame them.
They can’t know… that the experience of a thousand years cannot be erased by a few mere hours.
How long do I have to continue on this road? We promised each other to go on until we found Estel, but how would I know when you find him?
What if you found him on the first day, and I am still here searching?
What if you are somehow hurt?
How do I know?
I have a mirror with me. It is nothing like having you beside me, but at least it shows me your face. At least when I look into it I get the feeling of being complete again.
It doesn’t matter that the people in the streets laugh at me when I do.
They can laugh all they want.
They don’t know how lonely it is to be only half a person…
I think it was a very bad idea to let Estel join the rangers, I think. He should never have allowed to be able to hide his tracks this well.
It is not fair.
We are elves.
We deserve to be better.
Alright. That was childish.
We always expected that our little brother would be good. We knew that we would be proud of him. I guess I should be glad that he managed to surpass us in something, when it seemed for so long he would never be able to.
But why hiding?
Why not baking bread, or singing or archery or..? Something he cannot use against us. Something he cannot use to close himself off when he is hurt.
He was always far too good at that.
He did not need to improve those skills.
And right now, I am not even paying attention to the tracks. I passed last village without remembering to enquire after him. He could have been sitting in the pub with a large sign on his head saying "Here I am" in three different languages and I would not have spotted him.
I am still searching for a lost brother… but it is not the ranger I look out for.
It is not that I don’t love my little brother, for I love Estel very much.
He is the best brother I could have wished for, and I hope he knows that. I hope he did not run because he thought otherwise,… not again.
But Elrohir is different. Elrohir is a part of me, and without him, I feel as if I am walking on one leg, seeing with one eye, hearing with only one ear, and the world looses it’s depth. Without him, I cannot be myself.
I started this journey urgently, wishing to find Estel as soon as possible, and neither the wish nor the urgency has grown any less.
Am I betraying my little brother when I admit that part of that wish is now connected with the fact that I can start looking for Ro again when I do?
Alright, Estel, show yourself.
I am not a wood elf. Bushes hardly ever speak to me.
And when they do, they don’t call me by my brother’s name. Nature never confuses us. Plants at least respect our individuality. Even if we don’t.
The bush that called out to me is large enough to hide a man, and I passed it without noticing. It is a perfect ranger hiding place.
"Estel?" It has to be him. "Estel? It is me… Ro."
He didn’t come this way.
This road is was ranger-proof as any. There are many places to hide, many towns to protect, but whatever way Estel went, this was not it. But it is clear now he never came this far.
No human could have crossed this cliff, for it is tricky even for elves. Estel, knowing his luck with heights would not have dared try it.
I hate that he still remains lost, but at the same time I feel better. I can return to Ro now. Things will be right again.
No. This cannot be right.
Valar…I am no a healer!
Why didn’t Dan take this path! Why..?
AND WHERE IS ADA WHEN YOU NEED HIM?!
Don’t do this to me, Estel… come on…
Estel, come on… tell me what to do. Come on, little brother. Wake up. Speak! Come on!
The road behind me stretches out forever.
We separated four days ago.
Going back to where we came from will take me four more days, and Ro will be eight days from there.
Eight days of walking away from me.
Eight days; days that separate us, and as we walk the same speed, I will never catch up.
Unless I cross the swamp.
The two roads we are travelling on are parallel to each other, two ways around the bog.
I look back at the road I travelled before, and then once more at the swamp.
Eight days… or…
Walking through a swamp has never seemed this attractive before.
Honey… Honey works well on wounds.. and.. and.. camomile.. and.. and.. Come on! Remember! I know these things, honey and matricaria and…
My hands shiver.
I was there when Ada thought us healing; I might not have been paying attention… Valar, why wasn’t I paying attention!.. but I was there.. come on.. Ada raised me too..
Honey and matricaria. And .. and..
Valar, Estel looks bad.
I need… I need…
Dan knows this…
I need Dan.
I need Ro.
My boots are knee-deep into the mud and every pool of black stinking water looks the same.
Elrohir knows how to find his way in this kind of mud.
He knows his way about anywhere. He loved those lessons Glorfindel used to give us. He could guide us back home from wherever the Balrogslayer left us.
All I did was follow him.
Valar how did he manage?
I have seen that before.
I remember, the way that bush grows… it looks like an archer and I have seen it before.
I am going round in circles.
How does Ro do it? What does he looks at on the ground that helps him find his way?
What does he see that I don’t?
Honey, Matricaria and Arnica Montana! That is it!
Hold on Estel, I figured it out..
I remember the cure.
Arnica… Arnica… Where did I put it?
That is it, that is the answer.
Some plants grow only where the ground is dry; others grow only beside the road.
Plants. Ro looks at the plants.
I can do that… I can find my way out…
Here, little brother.
This will ease your pain.
It should, at least.
Are you feeling any better?
Come on, Estel, open your eyes!
You know how it worries me to see you like this…
I did everything right, didn’t I?
Estel, wake up!
Somehow I had expected that if I just reached the other road, Ro’s road, that he would be waiting for me.
In my mind I know the odds to that are almost impossible.
In my heart I know that is the way it should have been.
Now I stand here on Ro’s road and it stretches out endless in both directions.
Did Elrohir pass this point?
Is he behind me?
Which way to go?
You could have left a sign for me, Ro.
You should have left a sign.
No , Estel. I am not Elladan. I am sorry. You are right. Elladan should have found you. He is the one with the healing skills.
You deserve him, not me.
I never paid attention to the healing classes…
Dan…Where are you?
I am not a wood elf and bushes hardly ever speak to me. And never in my brother’s voice.
It takes me only seconds to be with him, even though he lies hidden very well.
My hands move to his wounds instantly but I find them cleaned. Treated with honey, Matricaria, Arnica, to stop infections, and cure bruises…like I would have done myself.
And then, only then, I spot the dark haired elf sitting beside me.
"I .. I didn’t know…"
I hug him.
"You did well, Ro. You did very, very well. He will live."
I look at how my eldest brother treats my youngest over the next few days. How he cleans the wounds and dresses the bandages, and I try to learn.
I try to keep my eyes open, I try to know what he knows; I try to do what he does.
I know now how important it is that I learn too, and yet my attention slips away.
I look at Dan’s muddied shoes and I start planning our journey home.
I have heard of a shortcut through the marshes…
As I look at Elrohir, his attention drifting away, I know that though my brother would be able to heal, he will never be a healer.
And though I am able to trace, there is not a tracker inside me.
Estel will properly learn to be both and overshadow the two of us with all of his abilities.
I say: let him.
I would not care if I were blind enough to miss an