The Elves and the Nazgul engage in a little epic-being smack talk. "Depart, foul wraith, you have no power here!", he tells the Nazgul. Elves are always saying silly things like this. The Nazgul is up on a horse, he's got a sword, and you can't kill him. I don't know how you're measuring power here, but I think he's got us outclassed.
The Nazgul might be immortal, but I guess his feelings get hurt easily, because he leaves. Maybe he really doesn't have any power, somehow. Maybe he's just a big crybaby. I dunno.
The good news is that I'm not going to die horribly. The bad news is that Boffin is going to go on sniveling. Call it a wash,
We greet Gildor the Elf.
Oh! And there's a new Hobbit here as well. No wait. That's just Boffin. I didn't recognize him not surrounded by spiders.
Gildor and the rest of them offer to take Boffin off my hands. Yes! Very yes! Thankyouthankyouthankyou. And have fun with him. Try not to let him lead you into any spider nests.
But... they leave me alone with Amdir the Ranger. This doesn't seem so bad at first. Rangers are a secretive group who are descended from kings. They're grade-A badasses, skilled trackers, masters of lore, and cunning huntsmen. Well, that's what the stories say, anyway.
Amdir explains that he suspects there is a connection between the ruffians and the Black Riders, and that maybe they're working together. Keep in mind that we both just witnessed a fight where they were doing exactly that.
I suddenly realize that Amdir is an exceptional ranger. That is, he is an exception to the rule that rangers are strong, skilled, smart, and useful. He wears a look of befuddlement about as regularly as another person might wear, say, pants. Which is whenever they're awake and doing something more complicated than going to the bathroom. His hood is down over his eyes. Not in a mysterious and secretive way, but more in a "oh bother, who turned out the lights?" sort of way.
He also tells me that some ruffians have captured my friend Celandine Brandybuck. Who was the person I have been trying to reach. So my entire journey has been for nothing.
My shoulders sag, "Alas. I was traveling to Archet to bring her this letter."
Amdir thinks on this for a long moment. I think he's gone cross-eyed trying to look at his hood as it hangs in front of his face. "As you wish. I shall take you the rest of the way to Archet."
"Uh, no? If Celandine has been captured, then there's no reason for me to go to Archet, is there? She's gone. So I might as well go home."
There is another epic pause while he works on this one. Finally he replies, "So... you want me to rescue Celandine, first?"
"No offense, but I don't think you should attempt that particular job all by your lonesome."
"So you want to come with?"
"Not as such," I say guardedly. "Fighting isn't really my forte."
"I see. So we should both go to Archet. Got it!"
"No! Listen, you fumbling clodpole. I only wanted to deliver her this letter..."
"You want me to take the letter to the bandit camp?"
"Of course not."
"Because you want to go to Archet first?"
"You know I'm a minstrel, right?" I ask while brandishing my lute. "Do you want me to write an epic ballad about how thick you are? Because that's where this is going right now."
He stops and considers this for so long that I start to wonder if he's stopped paying attention. Finally he says, "I'm a ranger."
"Yes, I know."
"I don't do ballet."
"Not ballet, you ninny. Ballad. A song."
There is another long pause, "I like songs."
"Let's get you to Archet. Then I'm going to attack the bandit camp and rescue your friend."
"Yeah. Good. Do that. You can just drop me off at the besieged town that I no longer have any reason to visit, and then run off and assault the bandit camp and the Nazgul all by yourself. Don't let the fact that you're alone, on foot, and not immortal stop you from picking a fight with Satan's nephew."
I thought Gildor left him here to take care of me, but now I see it's actually the other way around. When he took Boffin off my hands, he was really just letting me trade up to a more useful dunce. Which I guess I sort of appreciate?