Estel felt better and clearer headed than he had for the past 4 months. He had talked with Eru about his feelings and this time he allowed it to help him. As he thought about his feelings he realized how impossible it was for him to be able to prevent what happened. It was still hard to understand why it had to happen. He still felt sad but he realized that most of that sadness was because he knew how it much it had affected his mother and not so much that he lost his sister. He knew he would miss being a big brother but he also knew his hurt would have been far worse if it had been Sermë that had died.
The days were spent in lessons that were vital to woodland survival. Elladan and Elrohir were good and patient teachers. Estel was a quick learner also. The boys were out for a almost a whole month and Estel could tell the difference between a raccoon and badger tracks, Deer and antelope tracks, and Bear and Warg tracks. They had come across warg tracks quite by accident as they were tracking the bear. Elladan determined that the warg had not been there in the past 6 months, but his prints were still there because it had been a huge one and had left deep impressions. Just from the tracks Estel decided that he would not want to have to fight one of these animals, Ever.
Elladan taught Estel how to take in his surroundings, and mark his trail. Elrohir taught him how to listen to the forest for clues that could help in almost any situation and about how to find his way out of a forest even if he had never been there before. They also taught him to search for plants that were used for medicines and food.
The last three days were used as test days and Estel passed all tests with such accuracy that Elladan and Elrohir were convinced that he was ready for the ultimate test. The next day they took him to a whole new patch of woods. These were old woods. The brush was thick and there was hardly any sun able to penetrate in some of the thicker parts. They walked in together and they saw no signs of too much danger so they sent Estel to pick some raspberries for their lunch dessert. As he picked they quietly walked off, not too far but far enough away that Estel could not see them. They were so quiet about it that Estel kept picking for half an hour before he noticed their absence. He looked around and did not see them and he thought they were playing a game with him.
He called, “Ok very funny you guys. You can come out now.”
They did not come out. Estel searched the area but there was no sign of them. He looked for footprints but there were no prints but the ones that were made by all of them as they came into the woods. He called and ran through the forest but still no sign of them. He started to panic but suddenly he stopped. He started to talk to himself.
“Ok Estel stop panicking. The first rule of the forest is don’t panic. The second rule is to know your brothers.” He was quiet for a minute but then he started talking again. “Ok you two I know what you are doing. This is a test and up until now I have failed it.” He took a deep breath and cleared his mind. “I am ready now lets see if I can find them.”
Elladan and Elrohir were up above him and they heard his whole dialogue and they smiled to each other. They kept close eye on him and moved silently through the trees as he fulfilled his quest.
First thing Estel did was getting his direction straight. Once he figured out that he needs to be going south and where south was he started off. Soon he was back at the berry bushes and this had made him proud. Here he knew he had been correct and that now he need to go east. It was easy to find east in this area because the sun could get through here. This is of course why the berries were able to get ripe. Then he went into the part of the forest that was dark. It was so dark that it seemed to be night. It was not so dark that he could not see but it was dark like a night with only a half moon. He went slower and he thought that he was never going to find his brothers but he seemed to be finding all the signs that he had either left or that he had observed. At one point the was off the trail, and he never would have known except that he came to an area where the sun was shining through. He found that he had started going north instead of staying east. It took him awhile get his direction straightened out but somehow he managed.
Elladan and Elrohir were very impressed with his ability. They got the edge of the forest before Estel and they set up camp. They wanted it to look like they had never left him on his own. He came out of the woods and looked around him. He smiled at them, one of his I am good Smiles.
“I made it,” he said triumphantly. “You tested me and I passed.”
“Tested you? I don’t know anything about that.” Elladan said innocently.
“Why did you go into the woods?” Elrohir questioned. “I sure would not have gone in there all by myself.”
“Would you two quit teasing me? I know what you did and you know I did good.”
“Ok I admit it we took you in the forest, and left you there.”
“I know you did” Estel hollered laughingly.
“Actually you were in no danger because we were right above you the whole time.” Elrohir commented.
Estel’s mouth fell open. “But I looked for you even in the trees. I did not catch a glimpse of you at all.”
“We are elves my dear brother. We know how to make ourselves invisible if need be.” Elladan laughed.
“I wish I could do that.”
“You can but it takes practice. It took me 100 years to get really good at it. In fact it wasn’t until I spent time with Grandmother’s guards in Lothlorien that I became excellent.” Elladan responded.
“Yeah I was quicker at learning it than you.” Elrohir teased. Elladan threw a stick at his head, which Elrohir easily dodged.
Estel interrupted his brothers, “Hey lets get back to me please! Did I pass? Are you proud of me?”
“Well we were worried for a bit, but once you got it together you did an excellent job. We are always proud of you Estel.” Elladan answered seriously.
Estel was so glad he threw himself into Elladan’s arms.
“Thanks you two you are the best brothers a guy could ask for.”