The Treasure Hunt
A hand tugged insistently at his arm again. Erestor stared down, his expression as intimidating as possible, and glared at the culprit. "Well? What is it now?" he demanded.
"Please, Erestor – when are Nana and Ada coming home? You said it was today."
Erestor bit back the impatient retort just before it crossed his lips, and swallowed hard. "It will be today," – he glanced quickly at the child who stood at his side – "Elrohir."
"But it will still be today!" he snapped, driven beyond patience.
Elladan gave him a reproachful look. "You said that this morning," he pointed out with infallible logic.
Erestor drew a deep breath. "This morning, this afternoon and this evening are still all today," he explained, unable to believe that he was debating the semantics of chronology with an elfling. "Perhaps you could go to the top of the waterfall and watch for them from there?" he suggested in desperation.
As the twins disappeared from sight, he recalled uneasily that they were not permitted anywhere near the waterfall alone. Water and elflings – especially these elflings – were a potentially disastrous mix.
"Glorfindel!" he bellowed in alarm.
Elladan and Elrohir walked slowly along the track that climbed to the waterfall. "Do you think Erestor knows we aren't supposed to go there alone?"
"I don't know. He probably forgot. What should we do?"
Elladan considered. "Well … he did tell us to go and watch for them. Perhaps if we just climb up and look quickly, and then come back down?"
Elrohir nodded in agreement. "Yes." He hesitated. "I'm glad Nana and Ada are coming home today. I liked us being on our own, but it will be nice to have them back."
Elladan considered the presence of Erestor and Glorfindel, the numerous servants, and the warriors who steadfastly guarded the house. "We weren't exactly on our own," he pointed out.
Elrohir shrugged. "You know what I mean," he insisted.
"Yes. And I'm glad they're coming home too," Elladan admitted.
They were halfway to the waterfall when Glorfindel joined them. He was breathing hard. "Wait," he panted. "I have an idea – an idea for a game."
Elladan looked at Elrohir. "A game?" he asked.
"What sort of game?" Elrohir added.
"Come back to the house, and I will show you. Please," Glorfindel added.
Elladan glanced at Elrohir again, and they both nodded. This could be more interesting than a long wait for their parents to arrive home from Lothlórien. "Very well," they agreed together.
Back at the house, they sat on a wall surrounding Elrond's garden while Glorfindel wrote something rapidly on a slip of paper.
"The game is a hunt," he explained as he wrote. "A treasure hunt. You have to find the clues, and then solve them, which will lead you to the next clue. Do you understand?"
Elladan sighed. "We find the clues and follow them. Yes."
Glorfindel nodded. "Good. But you must wait. You have to close your eyes and count to one hundred before you read the first clue. Both of you," he added hastily. "Promise?"
"Of course," they intoned together, and grinned. Dutifully closing his eyes, Elladan began to count. "One-two-three-four-five-six …" Beside him, Elrohir was counting just as rapidly.
" … ninetyeight-ninetynine-onehundred!" They opened their eyes together and snatched at the first clue, lying on the wall between them. Glorfindel had disappeared. Elrohir grabbed the clue first, and unfolded it quickly.
"A box without hinges, key or lid,
Yet golden treasure inside is hid"
He stared at Elladan, and read it again more slowly. "Golden treasure … does it mean Nana's jewel box?"
"Noooo …" Elladan said slowly. "That's got a lid, and hinges."
"It hasn't got a key, though. She never locks it!"
Elladan shook his head. He was trying to think. The rhyme reminded him of something he had once heard in a story. "Anyway," he pointed out. "She took all her prettiest jewels with her." He thought for a moment longer. "I know! It's an egg!"
Elrohir stared at him with rare, undisguised admiration. "El, that's brilliant! Come on – the hen house is this way!"
They raced off along the wooded paths that led around to the kitchen gardens. Most of the hens scratched peacefully in the yard, but one roosted broodily on a nest. Elladan slid his hand beneath her carefully, and gave a whoop of delight. "It's here! The next clue!" He pulled it free, and blew off bits of straw.
"What lies in bed, and stands in bed,
First white, then red.
The plumper it gets
The better you like it."
Elrohir grinned, and pointed immediately to the long glasshouses built against the wall. "That's easy. Strawberries! Your favourite!" he said at once.
The glasshouses were warm and fragrant, and the berries plump and ripe. They paused to eat a few, and then a few more, before a corner of white poking through the dark leaves recalled them to the treasure hunt. Elladan pulled out the next clue.
"What has an eye open but never sees."
"Is that it? It's very short."
Elladan nodded, and read it again. "That's all. What things have got eyes?"
Elrohir licked his sticky fingers and looked thoughtful. "Potatoes. Peacocks."
"There aren't any peacocks here, and anyway, you've never seen one!"
"I've seen a picture of one. They have great tails that spread out like a fan, and markings that look like eyes!" Elrohir retorted heatedly.
"But there still aren't any here," Elladan pointed out. "What else?"
Elrohir sighed. "I don't know – I'm running out of ideas! A storm. A needle." He stopped, and they gazed at one another excitedly. "A needle. The sewing room?"
"Maybe. Let's look!"
The sewing room was deserted apart from a maid mending a stack of clothes – all theirs, Elladan suddenly realised guiltily. He stared around the room at the piles of sheets and tablecloths. All were white. He sighed in frustration. "El, if the clue's in here we'll never find it! It could be anywhere!" He began to search through a bundle of pillowcases, annoyed when Elrohir drifted away. "El, are you going to help me?" he demanded impatiently.
Elrohir nodded. "Yes. Watch," he whispered. He approached the girl sewing, and smiled at her. "Excuse me, Aelin. El and I are looking for Glorfindel. Have you seen him?" He smiled again, and fluttered his eyelashes.
Elladan gaped at him.
The girl smiled in response, and stopped her sewing. "Lord Glorfindel? Yes, he did come in – though I have never seen him here before! He said he was looking for a tunic he ripped on patrol."
Elrohir smiled again. "Where was he looking, Aelin?"
She put the sewing down, and ruffled his hair. "I will show you. Over here." She led them to another stack of laundry. "Oh! There is a sheet of paper here – a message for someone."
"That's what we're looking for! Thank you, Aelin!" Elrohir gave her a kiss on the cheek, slipped the paper from between her fingers, and fled. Elladan followed him in a daze, and bumped into him when he stopped to read the next clue.
"El! Look where you're going!" Elrohir reprimanded.
Elladan scowled at his twin. "Well, don't stop like that!" he snapped, regaining his wits. "What does it say?"
They settled into a window seat to study the next part of the treasure trail.
"Alive without breath,
As cold as death,
Never thirsty, ever drinking,
All in mail never clinking."
Elrohir read the rhyme over again, then again. He sighed. "I don't know, El. What do you think?"
"Hmm?" Elladan was distracted.
Elrohir elbowed him hard. "What's the answer? You won't find it by staring out of the window!"
"Fish. Goldfish. The fishpond."
Now it was Elrohir's turn to gape in amazement. "What? How did you …? How do you know that?"
Elladan grinned. "You look a bit like a fish yourself, little brother! Shut your mouth. I know because I just saw Glorfindel put something under one of the edging stones by the pond. Come on!"
They tumbled down the stairs together and raced across the hall, barely managing to skid to a halt as Erestor came out of his study. He stopped abruptly, clutching a sheaf of papers to his chest protectively. "Elladan! Elrohir! How many times have you been told not to run across the hall?"
"Sorry, Erestor!" they chorused unrepentantly.
Erestor sighed. "I thought Glorfindel was supposed to be looking after you?" he asked. "Where is he? Have you lost him, or has he given up?"
"Of course we haven't lost him."
"Of course he hasn't given up."
"We're playing a game, and …" Elladan stopped. Informing Erestor that he was in their way would be impolite, and would probably earn them both a long essay on good manners.
"And we're looking for him now," Elrohir finished. Elladan cast him a grateful look.
Erestor closed his eyes, muttering something inaudible under his breath. "A game. Of course," he sighed. He stepped back, still clutching his papers. "Then you had better go and find him. Off you go."
He sighed again. "Yes?"
"Do you think Nana and Ada will be home soon?"
Erestor nodded. "I hope so," he agreed fervently. "I really do hope so."
Outside, Elladan went straight to the stone where he had seen Glorfindel hide the next clue. He pulled it out, and read it through.
"I cross the river but do not move,
Follow me to the end, and you will find your heart's desire."
"That doesn't make sense," he complained. "How can anyone cross the river without moving? You can cross it by jumping, or swimming, or riding, or swinging across on a rope, but you have to move. And I don't know what my heart's desire is!" He thrust the sheet at Elrohir in disgust. "How does Glorfindel expect us to answer all these riddles?"
Elrohir touched the paper with his fingertip. The ink was still wet. "We could just follow him," he suggested. "He's not far ahead."
Elladan frowned. Following Glorfindel seemed somehow deceitful. "Wouldn't that be like cheating?" he asked doubtfully.
Elrohir looked shocked. "Of course not! We'd be using our initiative, and …"
"… and improving our tracking skills," Elladan agreed, easily convinced. "Come on, then!"
They followed Glorfindel through the woods and down into the valley, reciting the riddle as they went and throwing ideas to each other.
"If the game is a treasure hunt, then our heart's desire should be some treasure at the end," Elrohir mused as they tracked him through the trees. "A brooch …"
"A jewel …"
"A pot of gold …"
"That's at the end of a rainbow, silly!"
"Well, a golden coin then …"
"Two golden coins – one each!"
As the trees thinned and the track widened, they saw Glorfindel ahead, sitting on the stone parapet of …
"The bridge! Of course – 'I cross the river but do not move.' It's the bridge!"
Elrohir stopped, and clutched at Elladan's arm. "Look!" he cried. "Do you see – crossing the bridge …"
Forgetting Glorfindel and his treasure hunt, they raced forward, and were swept up by Elrond and Celebrían in a great four-way embrace.
"I knew you were coming back today! Erestor said!"
"Oh, my boys! I missed you both so much!"
"Welcome home! Welcome home!"
"Well, Glorfindel. I hope they have been behaving themselves?"
Elladan held his breath and gazed hopefully at Glorfindel, wondering if the pillow fight that had left their bedroom buried under a snowstorm of feathers had been forgotten.
Glorfindel unfolded slowly as he stood, and winked at him. "They were no trouble at all," he declared, though Elladan noticed that he had his fingers crossed as he spoke. "No trouble at all!" He grinned at the twins. "Well? Did you find your heart's desire?"
Elladan looked up at his mother, laughing as Elrohir told her about the hunt, and tightened his grip on Elrond's hand.
"Yes," he agreed. "We did."
Author's Notes: I am sure you will recognise some of the riddles from The Hobbit. Others are taken from: http://ancienthomeofdragon.