(A note: **Double asterisks show thought.**)
All night we searched, and into the morning. My brother was allowed to leave but he would rather search. I, on the other hand, wasn’t allowed that luxury, being as it was my fault she was lost. Not that I would have gone back, I was worried sick.
When the sun had risen, tears welled up in my eyes. She hadn’t been found. She could be anywhere. And if she died…it would be my fault. I tried not to think of the latter as we made out way through the endless trees, calling her name.
Finally, sometime around noon my father sighed. “Legolas… you can go back now. We’ll get the hounds and see if they can find her…” I had a feeling he hadn’t finished his sentence, but I also had a feeling I knew how it ended, and I didn’t want to hear it. I trudged back through the trees, finding the path and making my way home. I was exhausted as I had never been before. My body ached, and my stomach was nauseous from being so nervous for hours; every possible lead had been so exciting, we had all rushed to the site of the clue, hoping it would lead us to her- I was ready to forgive every time she had annoyed me, if only she would show her face from behind a tree, or under a bush. But nothing. As I neared home, I thought of nothing more than my bed, and a few hours of good, peaceful rest- though I knew this would be impossible. Her voice echoed in my head, over and over until I was near to crying. And as I went past my mother’s room, those tears came to the surface- she was pacing, mumbling to herself as her handmaidens attempted to console her. She heard my footsteps and looked up in anticipation, hoping for some news of her daughter, and her eyes met mine for a moment- then she looked away and went back to her pacing. I sniffled a few times, attempting to keep from crying, but I couldn’t hold back the tears and the next thing I knew I was in her arms, sobbing. I was ashamed- ashamed for my crying, ashamed that I had been so selfish and now my sister could be dead because of it.
“Legolas… you’re all muddy. And your clothes are all torn up- and you’re tired and hungry.” I tried to shake my head, but she held it firmly to make me look her in the eyes. “Go take a bath. Then put on fresh clothes, eat something, and rest for a while. Promise me.” I nodded, and giving me one last hug she wiped the tears from my eyes and let me go. But as I reached the door, I turned to ask her something.
“You don’t… hate me, do you? For letting her get lost…” She slowly shook her head.
“Legolas- I could never hate you. You are my son- part of me- I would never hate you. I just… miss Vanyalosse. Terribly. And I’m scared for her as well. You have to understand that. But I don’t hate you.” Slowly I nodded- but her words held only false hope. I continued my weary trudge to my chamber- when I suddenly stopped. I was the one who got her lost. I was the one who had been selfish. I was the one who should be out there searching- not the others. It was my fault, and I needed to grow up and fix it.
All weariness forgotten, I dashed back down the corridor, out into the forest. I took my path the same as I had yesterday, retracing my steps exactly, searching everywhere- even places we had already been. Last night when she hadn’t been found in this area, the search party had determined that she wasn’t anywhere nearby and went to search elsewhere. But now I could feel her presence nearby- or at least that’s what I wanted to believe. I shook off the nervous feeling as I approached the last place I had seen her.
“What would I do?” I asked myself- then I shook my head. “What would she do?” Vanyalosse was stubborn, and knowing her she would have continued to follow the path she thought I had taken until she was lost. So I continued straight, pushing through the branches until it became so dense I could hardly move. **She would have turned back here,** I thought. So I turned back and retraced my steps, slowly, trying to imagine how she might have felt.
**Scared. Alone. Abandoned in the woods by her older brother. Lost.** These thoughts ran through my head as I began to ponder where she might have turned, where she could have gone astray. I studied the ground, trying to make sense of the jumbled animal tracks that even my inexperienced tracking eye could pick up on. Some sort of wolf, or large dog…and they all seemed to be running, perhaps even…
“Chasing!” I practically shouted. I began to follow them, fast as I could. Now I could see other tracks, tracks that didn’t belong to animals. And blood. My heart beat faster- but not from running. They seemed to zigzag through the trees as I had been doing to lose her.
**She tried to lose them like I tried to get rid of her,** I thought, guilt overwhelming me. I put on more speed and followed them further off familiar grounds and deeper into unfamiliar forest.