It was not so difficult riding in the woods as Eodred had feared. The trees towered overhead, but it was not hard to wend one’s way between the stems and tubled roots below, though it made for a rather circuitous route, and it would be a while before they reached the River Isen.
Eodred passed the time trying to make conversation with his companions. Anorhene was hopeless: he couldn’t speak the Common Tongue. Avor had not yet said a word that Eodred could hear. So he was left with Eadil to talk with.
“How far to the Isen?” he had asked her earlier, more to break the heavy silence than from impatience. “I know the hills and fields of Rohan well enough,” he continued, “but this forest upon the northern marches is strange to me.”
“Not far, as the crow flies, nor long,” she answered him, “but twice that for us; there is no direct route for those who walk on Middle-earth. An hour, perhaps less.”
He looked about. Fangorn was indeed strange to him, strange and perilous if the tales were true. Suddenly he remembered a thought that had been nagging him for some time. “Eadil, you told me you and your brothers are the children of Elros, son of Elrond Half-Elven. But Elladin and Elrohir are his only two sons, are they not?” He was more confused than angry by her apparent lie, and suddenly glad of the hours he had spent learning the history of Middle Earth, though he had regretted them sorely at the time. If only I remembered Quenyan half so well!
Eodred thought he detected a faint red tinge to Eadil’s neck, but the light beneath the trees was chancy and he couldn’t be sure. “Elladin and Elrohir are Elrond’s only two sons, blood for blood,” she replied reluctantly at length. “Elros, my father, was one of the Grey Elves who never passed into Valinor–or so it is said. He is more of a legend now. It is said that he was there, in Imladris, before it was built, living in the woods above the falls. That he was en Elf was apparent, but he could not speak–not, at least, any tongue of Men or Elves or other Free Folk they knew. Perhaps he was there alone, since the foundation of hte world, alone of the Children of Illuvitar untouched.
“Whatever the reason, he had no name that any could understand. But Elrond saw something in him, something, perhaps, of himself. And so he called the lone Elf ‘Elros’, after his brother.” She paused.
“‘Son of Elrond’ is perhaps a strange name, considering their respective ages. But there could be no denying their kinship, if not in flesh than in heart. Elros became like a third son to him.
“Elros never learned Quenyan, nor any other tongue. He neer had the chance. He went to war against Sauron, following Elrond to the Black Land when the Half-Elven Lord was herald to Gil-Galad. But he never returned from under the Shadow, and left his wife among Elrond’s kin, bereft, though she had three children.
“Only battle and grief can kill an Elf, and both have visited upon the kin of Elros. We three alone are left.”
She stopped suddenly, as if unable to go on, and spurred ahead. Eodred was left behind with Avar and Anormene, very much wishing he had kept his mouth shut. Anormene looked at him questioninly, unable to confer in the same tongue, but Avar rode on, giving no sign.
Then ahead Eodred heard a rushing, crashing, tumbing roar: they had reached the Isen.