Lindir and Erestor had turned around when they met one of Glorfindel's mounted guardians. They had reached the border of the area they were to search, but had seen no sign of Elrohir. It was getting late. In a few more hours Anor would set. Erestor hated the thought of Elrohir alone in the dark.
As to his current companion, Lindir had been moody and depressed ever since they stopped for lunch and Erestor found the best way to deal with the minstrel was to keep quiet. So, they traveled the path back to the Last Homely House in silence. At least while they were not calling out Elrohir's name.
As to the object of their search, he had finally awakened from his bed of damp leaves. At first he was disoriented, but then the events of the night came back to him and he remembered he was searching for Maethor. "He will have such a head start on me now I will never catch up," Elrohir thought sadly. But he had to keep going.
He brushed the leaves and twigs from his clothes and hair, then set off once more on his trek through the woods. The going was much easier in the light of day and he began to think he might have a chance of catching up with Maethor. After all, his warrior could not walk fast and he had to sleep too. Elrohir was not tired anymore, but he was very thirsty and his stomach was growling from hunger. He would have to find a stream and edible berries. That is what Warrior would do. He rubbed one of his hands across his face, adding a streak of dirt to what was already there. He had just started toward a bush that might contain berries when he heard someone call his name.
"Maethor! Maethor!" he cried, running as fast as his little legs would carry him towards the sound of the voice. He ran for what seemed like hours, although it was only minutes, and suddenly he saw the path before him. He was so happy he did not notice the two elves that broke into a run when they saw him.
"Elrohir!" both Lindir and Erestor called out at the same time. Elrohir looked up, but when he saw whom it was, his face fell. Lindir made it to his side first and hugged him tightly. "We have been looking for you all over!"
Erestor gave Elrohir a hug after Lindir, then gave him some water. Elrohir drank almost all of it. When he had finished, he wiped his lips with his hand, turning the dirt that was already there into a smear of mud. Erestor knelt in front of him and looked Elrohir in the eye. With a stern expression on his face, he began to speak. "Everyone in Imladris has been looking for you since early this morning. Your Ada and Nana have been worried half out of their minds. Glorfindel has a mounted patrol searching from here to the border, and Lindir and I have walked this path for hours. "What on Arda possessed you to leave your bed and go traipsing through the woods in the wee hours of the morning?"
"I am sorry, Lord Erestor." Elrohir said, his eyes at his feet. In a voice that was so soft Erestor had to strain to hear, he mumbled, "Maethor..."
Erestor straightened and stood. Looking at Lindir over Elrohir's head, he silently mouthed the same word that Elrohir had just spoken..."Maethor". He arched his eyebrow when Lindir rolled his eyes, both of them thinking the same thing...not again!
Erestor sighed, then picked Elrohir up and began to carry him back to the Last Homely House. "Lindir, go on ahead and let everyone know he has been found." Lindir nodded and broke into a run, leaving the advisor and Elrohir behind.
His white hair flying, Lindir ran swiftly down the path, eager to tell everyone Elrohir was safe. When he left the woods, he shouted to the first group of elves he saw, "We found him! Elrohir is safe! Erestor is bringing him home now!"
Like a chain reaction, the news spread and soon all the search parties were on their way back. Those just arriving, and those already there, stood at the entrance to the Last Homely House and waited for Erestor and Elrohir to return.