A/N: Yet another revision to this chapter. I moved the time frame back to be concurrent with the Hobbit, and fixed the spacing. Please review, if you have the time and the inclination. Thanks.

Celegorm was an elf, but there was something not quite elf-like about him. He didn't like danger (does anybody?). He was no coward, he just preferred to stay at home and read. (He lived in Imladris. Celegorm's grandfather had been one of Cirdan's people.) So this was how he lived for several thousand years. Until...

One day, Elrond master of Imladris found Celegorm in the library.

"I thought I might find you here," he said.

"I wonder why."

"I have a quest for you."

"I hate quests."

"I have an important quest for you."

"What is it?"

"I need you to find a Ranger."

"But isn't there a group of them here?"

"It has to be a specific Ranger," Elrond said patiently.

"Who is it?"

"His name is Halgalfin. He is taller than most men and has light hair. His sword is silver with a black hilt, and bears the legend of Earendil."

"Why?"

Elrond looked at Celegorm. "Why is the hilt black?"

"No. Why do I have to find him?"

"I received a message from him saying he had news of orc movements. It has been some time since, and I worry that he has been ambushed. Now, I need that information. The orcs are about to march."

"I am not the best person for this task."

"You are better suited for it than you know."

There was no getting around it. "When shall I leave?"

"As soon as you can."

So it was that Celegorm found himself outside Imladris for the first time in years, wearing a sword and carrying a bow. He was not really happy about this, but without weapons he would be a sitting duck in the wilds. His horse was a sleek brown mare. The elf-groom had assured him she was fast. He didn't have any direction in mind, either, other than north. All in all, he was not a happy elf.

By nightfall he had reached the river. He decided to follow the river to the foothills of the Misty Mountains and then cut back southwest. Celegorm made a small fire to cook his food and tethered his horse to a tree. Then he slept.

A twig snapped. He jolted awake and drew his sword a little awkwardly. No one stood in the clearing. No one lurked in the shadows. His horse was sleeping. Then he saw a small creature scamper away through the woods. Celegorm sighed. It was going to be a long trip.

The next day he made good time but found no sign of any human. The wilds covered a lot of distance. Halgalfin could be anywhere. Or dead, or captured by orcs. Celegorm vowed that if Halgalfin was a prisoner of orcs, he would free him.

Riding, Celegorm found his mind wandering. He'd been in the middle of a tale of the First Age. Sometimes he wished he'd been there to see it. More often he was thankful he had not been. Dark days, those. Elf-king after elf-king fell to the hordes of Morgoth while the exiles--

Celegorm saw a small clearing with no grass in the center. He dismounted and poked through the dirt with his dagger until he found ashes. Still slightly warm. Someone had camped here last night. He spent an hour examining the clearing before he found the tracks leading to the north. Had Halgalfin come this way? Few besides Rangers frequented the wilds. It was as good a start as any.

He followed the tracks slowly, leading his horse. They were very light and several times he almost lost the trail. By nightfall, he was five miles from where he'd found the ashes. Celegorm had to stop or risk losing the trail in the dark.

He was feeding the fire when he realized something was moving outside the circle of light. Even his elvish sight could not distinguish more than a shadow. Celegorm stood and drew his sword. He was getting better at it.

"Show yourself," he said in Westron. The shadow stopped. He could barely see the outline. It was not tall enough to be the Ranger.

"Who are you?" said the shadow in halting Elvish with a Westron accent.

No evil men spoke elvish. "I am Celegorm of Imladris," he replied in the same tongue. "Who are you?"

The shadow stepped forward. A slender figure was wrapped in a dark cloak and hood. It carried a longbow with an arrow strung. The weapon was pointed down.

"You may call me Kentarre." The mortal unstrung his bow with practiced ease. "Forgive my weapon and lurking in the shadows. I wished to warm myself at your fire, but first wanted to discover who you were." He shook back his hood, or rather, she did. Kentarre was a mortal woman, young by their standards. His surprise kept Celegorm from saying anything. "It wouldn't do to become orc food."

"No, indeed," Celegorm murmured finally.