For the second time, the archer took Celegorm by surprise.

"Go with me? Why?"

"Because I want to help!"

Celegorm looked at Kentarre in surprise as she raised her voice. Then he contemplated her request. She might slow him down, traveling on foot. But he thought that he should dismount anyway, to follow these mysterious tracks. If she carried a bow, the odds were good that she could use it. Another person would be helpful in a fight. But he still balked at placing a woman in danger.

Then he thought that she was in danger anyway, living out here. She might be safer with him. Celegorm looked up and found Kentarre watching him. Her gaze was steady and calm; something about the way she held her head made him think she would seek out Halgalfin herself if he did not allow her to accompany him.

He had an idea. "Do you know the way to Rivendell?"

She nodded.

"Would you be willing to go there and tell Lord Elrond what you know about the orcs?"

"What little I know, you mean? And then stay there, safely out of the way, until this is over?"

Celegorm, elf though he was, winced. "You have valuable information. If I cannot find Halgalfin, Elrond will have no other knowledge of this save from you."

"Lord Elrond is the Master of Rivendell and foresighted. I cannot believe that he does not know of this already. You yourself said that he already knows something is happening." She looked him in the eye. "I can be of more help to you finding this Ranger."

Did he have a choice, save knocking her over the head and bundling her on his horse? "You place yourself in grave danger if you come with me."

"By traveling in the wild? This is my home. I know its perils."

Perhaps better than I do, Celegorm thought. Why did Elrond send me of all people? Stubborn mortal women.

"Since I cannot prevent you from looking for him on your own, you might as well come with me. We'll be more efficient that way." And you'll be safer, he thought.

Kentarre inclined her head. "Thank you. You won't regret it."

"I hope you won't, either," Celegorm said.

Kentarre did not respond. She was watching the darkness. Celegorm strained his ears, but heard nothing. He was night-sighted, but he saw nothing.

There should have been noise, he realized. Kentarre had noticed the absence of the night noises first. He quietly drew his sword, laid it by his knee, and put an arrow on his bow. Kentarre had strung her bow and nocked an arrow to it.

Celegorm heard a noise far off in the brush. "Over there," he murmured. It was large enough to be a man or orc. But there was only one.

Kentarre stood and melted into the shadows near the trees. Celegorm did the same on the other side of the fire. Now the noises were loud enough for Kentarre to hear; he saw her turning her head to the side to listen.

"It's injured," she whispered. He listened and realized she was right. He saw something moving out there...

The crashing noises stopped.