Cassie and Kitty
At last! A long awaited holiday. Crowley had been beginning to think he'd never get away from that dratted paperwork.
Stupid files, complaints, reports, messages; I'm done with ye all!
Smiling in satisfaction, Crowley contemplated where he would go for a nice, relaxing vacation while sipping a fragrant cup of coffee. Ok, I lied. More like gulping and inhaling a scorching cup of coffee.
Well, *slurp slurp* If this is going to be relaxing, *sluuurp* that rules out visiting Halt. That apprentice of his *slurp slurp, slurp* never does shut up. Though he is a remarkable lad, I must admit.
He continued to muse in like manner all morning, until he entirely forgot what the whole purpose of his musings were in the first place!
A knock sounded on his office door.
"Go away! I'm on vacation!"
A muffled reply came.
"It's Horace sir. May I come in?"
Grumbling and growling, Crowley got up and walked to the door, which he'd locked to prevent unwanted visitors (messengers, hint, hint.).
"Well, what is it Horace? Come in, come in; and NO, you can't have my coffee!"
He dived for the coffee pot, clutching it protectively to his chest. Horace held his hands up in a peaceful gesture.
"Alright, I don't want your coffee sir! I just came on the matter of your vacation."
"Ah, yes. Well, I wanted to go somewhere quiet and peaceful, which means I'm not visiting Redmont, or Merick. Gilan and Will drive me crazy alone, but I can't handle Halt and them.."
Shaking his head ruefully, Crowley inhaled more coffee. Horace grinned.
"I thought so. I figured you might be interested in going to seacliff. Very quiet there."
"Yes? Well, what does that have to do with you, Horace?"
"I'm going to survey the battleschool there; I'm doing a tour of the country, visiting the battleschools, and surveying the troops. It's a sort of experiential trip. I'm going to seacliff next, and King Duncan thought you might like to travel there with me."
Crowley raised his eyebrows.
"Hmmm, interesting idea. Well, you are better mannered than either Gilan, Will, or Halt. I'd quite enjoy your company, I imagine. Yes, yes, excellent idea. Thank Duncan for me when you see him next, will you? I've got some preparing to do!"
Crowley bustled about like a fussy housewife, getting ready to leave. This was an exceptional idea! He was surprised he hadn't thought of it himself, seeing as how he always had brilliant (-ly dumb)ideas.
Horace inclined his head politely and exited the office, a strangely devious look (which Crowley entirely missed) on his usually honest face.
The trip was uneventful, enjoyable even. Crowley relished in a leisurely ride, feeling like the old days when he slinked about, loose and carefree of paperwork. When they arrived, and had made the crossing to the island fief, Crowley had been smiling nonstop, so much so that his face hurt. He and Horace chatted amiably, while Crowley continued to overlook the jolly and scheming look of the young Knight. It had been decided, when Crowley was making arrangements, that the Ranger of this fief would take a vacation of his own, and stay at Castle Araluen, while Crowley took over his post in the sleepy backwater. That was Ranger a holiday for you.
They came to the neat Ranger cabin in the woods, reasonably removed from the main town and Castle. It was late in the afternoon, so they would present themselves to the Baron the following day. They were, after all, the Ranger Commandant and the Princess' personal champion and bodyguard. Such people can do what they like, you know.
"Ah! This is going to be a memorable holiday Horace, I can feel it."
"It most certainly will." Said the Knight, stifling a chuckle.
Dismounting, Crowley lead Cropper to the other side, finding the stable there. At the young man's request, he also lead Horace's horse to the stable. Though, he did find it odd that Horace didn't personally see to his animal's comfort.
"I'm taking my pack inside Crowley" Crowley had insisted that Horace do away with "sir".
"I'll see to starting us some dinner."
"Alright Horace, I'll meet you inside."
Crowley carefully tended the horses, giving each a generous measure of oats, and an apple. Walking inside, he glanced around the place: it was standard build Ranger cabin, with one main room, two bedrooms (one for Ranger, one for apprentice), and a kitchen. Of course, the actual layout varied from cabin to cabin. Horace was bent over the stove, heating some stew; his pack had been carelessly slung on the floor, in decidedly un-Horace-like laziness.
"Crowley, d'you mind taking my pack into the spare room? It's the smaller one on the left of the hall."
Wondering how Horace knew as much without bothering to take his pack into the room himself, Crowley picked up Horace's pack, and set it neatly on the stool he found in the little room. He was about to take his own pack into the main bedroom, when Horace suddenly called.
"Crowley! Get in here quickly! It's urgent!"
Fearing he knew not what, Crowley dashed into the kitchen…to see Horace standing calmly facing him.
"I dropped my spoon."
Exasperated, Crowley addressed the young man sternly.
"Horace, what's gotten into you? Why are you so undisciplined? Not taking care of Kicker, throwing your pack on the floor, calling me because you dropped your DANG SPOON?"
A whisper issued from Crowley's pack.
You said the dang word again Crowley! Woof! I'm going to tell the King!
Crowley chose to ignore his insistent stuffed dog.
"I'm going to have to have a serious talk with the Knight commandant when we return if this behavior continues."
Astonished, Crowley noticed that Horace wasn't paying him the least attention; he was glancing behind the Ranger, barely concealing his mirth.
An almighty yell filled the cabin as Crowley was hit from behind as if someone threw a sack of flour at him. He was squashed flat on his face.
"Arrrg! Get offa meeee!"
He squirmed around…until he was faced with the grinning visages of Gilan and Will. Halt was standing a ways off, looking grim as usual.
Gilan, Horace, and Will chorused:
"HAPPY GOLDEN OAKLEAF CROWLEY!"
Bewildered, Crowley glanced from one face to the other.
"What are you all doing here?"
"I think it's obvious Crowley; they're here to scare the living daylights out of you as an anniversary present. Or have you forgotten that today is the 50th anniversary of your silver Oakleaf?" The corners of Halts mouth twisted up in a smile.
Will and Gilan chatted excitedly.
"Yes! We wanted to surprise you!"
"It took a long time to be able to get us all free, but we did it!"
"And we're gonna have a party!"
Crowley shook his head in mock disapproval.
"And where are all of you going to sleep, eh? How very nice of you to half kill your commandant, Gilan, Will. And YOU!"
He said, glaring at Horace.
"What about my nice, relaxing vacation?"
Everyone broke into laughter; except Halt, of course. Halt never laughs.
But he did grin widely.
A/N Wow! Rlly long…The rest of this is gonna be a looong chap…
22. Mother Nature
Alyss loved the outdoors. Fresh breezes, greenery everywhere, the warm sun on her porcelain skin. It was lovely. Everything natural appealed to the young courier trainee. Today was her break, Saturday, and she liked to spend the morning simply walking. That's it. She had to run lots of errands in the week, and was constantly going from one part of castle or village to the other, but little time was spent simply enjoying her walk. Looking about leisurely, unhurried. Inevitably, she would be meeting up with Jenny later, perhaps George as well; while she loved her friends, especially the bubbly blond girl, Alyss needed some quiet time in the morning. So, here she was, walking over the bridge, and wandering east of the village.
It's so quiet, except for the birds and other small creatures, there's not a sound to be heard…
Will was doing some early morning practice in the woods: tracking what there was to be found, and silently slipping through the shadows. Even though it was a holiday, he liked to get some practice in during the morning. In a while, he would reach his eventual destination: a clearing in which he had set up a practice range for his shooting and knife throwing. I say a range, but it wasn't your typical target setup. The targets were concealed, up in trees, along the ground, under logs. And they were in the shape of stuffed squirrels, round burlap sacks, or a bundle of twigs. If you weren't a Ranger, or his apprentice, then you would never know it was there. He was nearing the area of the forest east of the crossing.
It looks so surreal, the way the sunlight is coming through the trees, you could almost expect to meet a fairy in these woods.
It may be worth noting that Alyss wasn't wearing her usual courier's gown; it would get ruined walking in the woods like this, she reasoned. So, she had donned a plain light green dress that fell to her ankles, and had a brown sash that tied in front, the ends trailing down to the hem of her dress. The neck scooped wide across her shoulders, just below her collar bone. On top she had a warm short blue cape, because of the early spring chill. As she walked slowly, holding the edge of her dress in one hand, her golden hair streaming out behind her, with a few fanciful braids circling her head, an imaginative observer could very well have taken her for a fairy…
Will halted abruptly when he reached the clearing. It couldn't be…but it was! As sure as his name was Will, there before him stood a fairy. Tall and slender, clothed in an enchanting shade of green, with thin golden circlets on her head, was a beautiful fairy. Crouching in the shadows, Will waited to see if she would face his way. When she did, he almost gasped. Her eyes, her gorgeous grey eyes. Unconsciously, he stood up. So….pwettyyyyyyyy… The vision spoke!
"Will! I didn't see you there! How wonderful,"
She approached, a beaming smile on her face. But why was Will standing still like that? He looked kind of dazed.
"Will, are you alright?"
Somehow, Will still didn't recognize her.
"Are you a fairy?" He drawled, actually leaning forward, jaw slack. Alyss was sure there were little stars in his eyes. She laughed a little, somewhat apprehensively.
"No Will, it's me, Alyss."
Suddenly, Will snapped out of his daze as she said her name. He flushed scarlet.
"O-oh, ah, you see, um," he trailed off miserably, rubbing the back of his neck. Mentally, he kicked himself.
You idiot! Now she probably thinks you're some stupid halfwit. Huh, I can't say I disagree.
"Um, I just think you look like, like a fairy." He winced, hearing the words come out of his mouth. Alyss looked at him, a quizzical smile playing about her lips.
Great. That sure helped. You dolt, what are you thinking? He glanced back at her, once more taking in her appearance.
Well, she does look very nice just now, I guess it's only natural.
A/N Wow, NOT where I thought that would go. Ok, so I realize this scene is straight out of Lord of the Rings, when Aragon first meets Arwen. I didn't intend to copy it! Honestly! I only thought of it when I was looking for pix of Arwen for inspiration on Alyss' clothes.
This is for Luvergirl of books' lil' sis.
Apprehensively, Horace watched the creature from a safe distance.
"Horace, don't be a baby. Come see my kitten!" called Princess Cassie. The young Knight shook his head. He newly knighted champion of the princess, fighter of Skandians, Wargals, evil lord Morgorath, and Temujai, would not, WOULD NOT, go near any kitten.
"No thanks. I'm good right here."
Cassie huffed in exasperation. "It's just a little kitty cat. Cassie and kitten. Neither of us bite, you know." She smiled winningly. But Horace was adamant.
"I'm not sure about that. For either of you."
Cassie flared up. "Oh come on Horace. Is this the Knight in shining armor who fought the capital enemy of the kingdom, and defeated him single-handedly?"
"I don't like cats."
"Why ever not? Look at him. He's so cute, and soft, and furry. Look at his dear little whiskers, and his soft little paws." She cooed at the kitten, rubbing her nose against his as the little fellow purred and rubbed his cheeks on her. "Isn't he so sweet?" No response. "Horace?" She glanced around, to see him cowering behind the couch, holding out his sword defensively. "Horace! What are you doing? For pity's sake, it won't hurt you!"
"It was trying to eat your face! I saw it licking your cheeks. It's dangerous."
"Sure, more dangerous than a Wargal?"
"At least the Wargals didn't live in this very castle! That thing will hurt you!"
"Nonsense Horace. By the way, that reminds me. I'll call him William. See how his fur is all patchy? Brown and grey, and so little, little, little." She hummed into newly christened William's fur.
"William! That monster is nothing like Will!"
"Yes it is. His little claw are like Will's knives, his little paws as quiet as a Ranger, his little nose so inquisitive, his little tail makes him so nimble." She listed off his adorable dangerousnesses to an ever worrying Horace.
"K-knives? Yes, exactly, his dangerous knife-like claws."
"Look, just watch him play. You'll see how sweet he is." She set William down, and pulled a miniature yarn ball from her pocket, and threw it across the floor temptingly. The kitten shot after it, springing up in the air, claws wide, mouth open, and tongue sticking out roguishly. He mewed and gamboled, tossing the yarn in the air and catching it, twisting around until he was tangled thoroughly. Cassie laughed on the floor next to William, rolling the dear kitty around. Horace, however…
"Arrrg! It's going to kill something! Stop it Cass!" He stood up on the chair, frantically calling for her to subdue the heinous beast.
"That's it!" Cassie stood up formidably, and strode over to Horace. "I'm going to go take care of something. I'm leaving William with you," She said, holding up a finger to quell Horace's rising protest. "and you will take care of him. Do not leave him unattended, and be nice Horace. Hopefully you two will bond. Ta ta!" With a merry wave, she left the room, heedless of Horace's frantic pleas.
Left alone, Horace sat in a corner, one eye on William.
"You stay there, and I'll stay here. We're all good. Just, don't come over here."
William, however, had other ideas. He trotted over to Horace, rubbing his face against the boy's knees.
"Ahh! N-no, nice kitty, go away!" Bunching in horror, yet not daring to move much lest the creature attack him, Horace eyed the cat warily. It mildly blinked at him, purring curiously. He circled Horace's legs, eventually settling at his feet. Cozily curling up, William was soon sleeping. Horace watched him, gradually relaxing. He even ventured to stroke it lightly once, and seeing that the kitten didn't immediately kill him, he soon was petting it comfortably. After a bit more, he picked up William, settling him on his lap.
Cassie peeked into the room. She didn't see anyone.
That's not good.
Stepping in, she looked to her left. There was Horace, smiling to himself, William snuggled on his lap. She grinned, silently giving a big Awwwww! Quietly, she walked up to them, smiling triumphantly as Horace looked up at her.
"Guess you were right. I don't know why I didn't like cats before." he whispered. Suddenly, he felt an uncomfortable tickling sensation in his nose.
Cassie laughed as kitty sat up, blinking at them.
"Maybe that's why." sniffed Horace.
A/N there ya go! Hope you like it.:)
24. No Time
She ran up to him with a pleading look.
"Can we have picnic? Pleeeeease?"
He stroked her hair apologetically. "I'm sorry Cassie, I'm very busy right now."
She marched, off disappointed. The next day, she ran to him with the same earnest look as before.
"Can we take a ride today? You haven't gone on a ride with me in a really long time you know," she scolded. He sighed.
"I have important business today Cassie, maybe tomorrow."
"That's what you always say," she sulked. Nonetheless, the next day she came up to him and smiled demurely.
"Daddy, I don't even want to go on a ride. But would you have some tea with me Sire?" Instead of responding to their little game of mock formality, he rushed off with a distracted little pat for her golden head.
"Not now Cassie, there's no time." Frustrated and hurt, she slumped onto the ground, right in the main hallway, and crossed her arms sulkily.
"No time: there's never time! Not to ride, not to picnic, not to have tea with my own Daddy!" Cassie grumbled in spite of her nurse's attempt to pacify her.
"Princess, I will have tea with you, if you like. You can dress in your finest frock, and- "
"No! I don't want my finest frock! I don't want to have tea with you! I want Daddy!"
The next day, Cassie was determined to have time with her Daddy.
"Daddy, can you-" She didn't even have time to say her piece.
"Not now sweetie," he said with a harried look. "I'm terribly busy. Later."
That night, in the his office, King Duncan was interrupted from his paperwork by a determined little face poking in. Resolutely, she marched up, clambered into a gigantic chair, and stood in it, hand on the desk.
"You NEVER have time!" Startled, Duncan looked up.
"Not now Cassie, Daddy is very-"
"Busy. I know. Always busy: too busy for a ride, too busy for a picnic, or tea. But you're really too busy for me! I know what you're up to Daddy," she shook a stern finger in his face. "Well, if you're too busy for your own little princess (and you ought to be grateful you have one!), then I'll go live with Grandma in Meric! So there!" Feeling she had made her point, Miss Determination plopped down and crossed her arms.
Despite his heroic effort, King Duncan could not suppress the grin from breaking out. With an un-kingly snort, he started to laugh. Oblivious to the scandalized expression on Cassie's face, he laughed and laughed, until tears ran down his face.
"Daddy! You are being absurd!"
With another huge effort, he subdued his hilarity. "I'm sorry dear, but you are too funny." Seeing her expression, he sobered. "I know I've not had time for you lately, I'm terribly sorry Princess," he said with a courtly flourish. Delighted, Cassie responded in kind.
"Well, I am greatly vexed at your inattention, but I shall graciously overlook this transgression, so long as it is not repeated."
"Your Majesty, I'm afraid that a king is very busy, and cannot help it sometimes."
"That is no excuse Sire! Am I not your daughter? I think you would do very well to make a little time for me, at least." Forgetting her majestic self, she leaned forward earnestly. "I don't want to be selfish Daddy, but I love you so much, and you are always too busy." Duncan's eyes softened.
"I know Cassie. I love you too. Tell you what, tomorrow I have important emissaries coming,"
Cassie frowned in disappointment.
"but I shall tell them I have even more important business than them and go on an excursion with you. We will have a picnic tea, and go riding, and do whatever you like all day. Furthermore, we shall do this once a week." Jumping up, Cassie clapped joyfully.
"Thank you Daddy! Thakyouthankyouthankyou!" She ran around the desk, and flung herself into her daddy's arms. Hugging her, Duncan thought reproachfully.
No time indeed!
25. Trouble Lurking
A/N This one is a bit OOC, kinda crack:P(I hate that term btw, but idk how else to put it)
Gilan pounded his fists on the desk formidably, facing the crowd.
"Too long have we endured his wrath unprovoked."
The crowd, Horace and Will, roared approval.
"Too long have his wrongs gone un-avenged!"
"TOO LONG HAVE WE BEEN ASLEEP! I TELL YOU NOW, AWAKE!"
Will and Horace jumped up screaming blood and vinegar.
"My brothers," said Gilan, dangerously quiet. "It is time, that we annoy Halt!"
They worked themselves into a frenzy.
"What has he done to us?" asked Gilan rhetorically. "Dyed my hair red, he did! Salted my coffee!" the others gasped in horror. "Made me catch an angry goat single-handedly. What of you Will?"
"He made me sleep in a tree for playing a lullaby to Crowley!" Gil and Horace roared at the injustice. Horace put in his word:
"He told me that French couriers wear tiny skirts! He's a LIER!" Gilan calmed their outrage.
"Now, now, it's not as if we didn't deserve it- wait, no, no we didn't. Funny," he said, pretending to think seriously on the matter.
"LETS GET HIM!"
Halt had a sneaking suspicion that Gilan was up to something. But then, when was he not? But he had been acting strange, even for Gilan, at dinner; glaring at Halt as he sipped his coffee suspiciously, eyebrow raised higher than Halt would've thought possible. And the evil cackling coming from the back porch. Despite himself, Halt couldn't shake the feeling of trouble lurking. His suspicions were confirmed when he saw torches coming his way, and saw pitchforks being waved, blood, vinegar, and Halt's blood being screamed on the night air.
"THERE HE IS! GET 'IM!"
Screaming in terror, Halt fled for his life.
Crowley watched amusedly from the shadows.
My plan has worked, I knew Gilan would get drastic. Just the right words, at the right time.
Halt yelled at him.
"This is your doing Crowley! I'll get you for this!"
The mobsters halted.
"Wait, this was Crowley's idea?" that was Will.
"Hmm, I guess so; he told me Halt was always laughing at us behind our backs because we never got him back," mused Gilan.
"Yeah, and Alyss did tell me that Halt lied for my own good. Besides, aren't Crowley's ideas always bad?" said Horace.
"Wait! NO! It's not like you think! HE told you that!"
Gilan ignored him. "It's BOTH their faults! GET THEM BOTH!" Halt and Crowley looked askance.
"This is your fault Crowley! You and your stupid ideas!"
"It's not my fault you have an your apprentice takes me too seriously!"
About fifty tomatoes rained down on them from behind.
"Ah! Tomatoes!" screamed Crowley. They dived for cover in the bushes.
Halt shook his head ruefully as they heard Gilan instrucing the others to go prepare "plan b" while cakleling evilly.
"With Gilan, there's always trouble lurking."
A/N edit: I didn't like the ending, so I changed it. Srry for all you peeps who already read it. That was pretty funny, if I do say so meself. XD Srry this was so long in coming, I was working on other stories :P btw, the references Gil makes are frm my story, Gilan Goats and a Grey Hair. I think u know the others.;) Enjoy!