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Halt stepped out the doors of the council room and yawned, attempting to stifle the gesture with his elbow. A laugh sounded behind him as his dearest friend and secret crush stepped to his side. It was a long day in a room with the baron, she could feel it too; though she was much better than him at hiding this fact. It was something she learned long ago, when starting her apprenticeship as a diplomat. Pauline rest her hand on his shoulder, giving him some pity and then stepped away to walk down the hallway to her offices.

Halt watched ruefully as her graceful, light steps wandered away. He was never good with women, it wasn't his fault they were unpredictable. His thoughts wandered with his feet until he found himself in the courts outside. I guess my feet know me better than I would've thought. The words flickered through his mind making him laugh.

It was a good day, even if he just sat through several hours of the on-goings of the land. Somedays he would rather not be the ranger of such a large fief like Redmont, but only on council days. Halt walked out the gate that surrounded the iron-red/grey castle. It wasn't the most beautiful place, but its strength was undeniable. It would hold up better than most structures. He continued down the gravel road into the town, to make it back to the forest before Will would get back home. He wanted to finish a few things without his energy forcing Halt to go out and shoot with him. I swear, even if we run to the other end of Araluen and back, he would still want to go shooting. Will never ceased to amaze Halt, being even more energetic than Gilan had been.

Stepping lightly down from the bridge he entered the town of Wesley, it was a nice town and Halt was happy to be a part of it; even if the inhabitants found him suspicious. He made it to his cabin rather fast compared to usual in anticipation of Will's return. He had given him permission to go where he wished that day, if he was careful. Halt put trust in his apprentice, after all he was to be assigned to his own fief in a year, if all went well. Why shouldn't it though, he was the one to take down the bridge with the princess, and he led the archers in Skandia without any help but that of Horace. They made a good team, those two. Halt couldn't imagine Will without Horace's steadfast presence that was so strong sense that day of the boar attack. He was happy they had become friends, though it reminded him of his own friendship with Will's father.

He entered the log cabin and found it empty. He wasn't expecting anything different. If Will had gone out, he wouldn't be back till dinner, no later than six he knew. Will had always made it a point to be back before six, as he knew Halt's love for chores and after-dinner practice. Humming to himself (though he would never let Will know he hummed,) he set to cleaning and preparing for the rest of the day.

It was two hours later, roughly 4:30, when Halt started fidgeting calm down old man! He will come, Lord knows I never came home promptly. He busied himself with making dinner, a favorite of his; second to coffee of course.

Two hours later.

Halt had enough, it was past the time that Will would come home, in all these years Will never came home later than six. Halt tried to convince himself he was just running late, but it was quarter to seven, that was too late to be running behind. Grabbing his cloak from the back of the kitchen chair Halt swept out of the room and closed the door quickly. He saddled up Abelard and mounted his horse. The horses' eyes roaming toward his masters and he raised his eyebrow; much like Halt does, it makes me uncomfortable as well, Halt. It was a common thing, for Ranger horses to talk to their masters, a special bond between them. Halt nodded and told him to find Will. He knew that Abelard would be able to sense him better than he could, it's a horse thing Halt convinced himself long ago.

Luckily, Will had left signs only for Halt to read that led him to the rough proximity of the cliff that Will had been taken at. Halt was thankful he put those in place, as he wouldn't have known where to start otherwise. Will always chose new places to practice as to give him a better range of shooting options, today happening to be the forest line next to the only cliff on this side of Araluen. It wasn't the largest cliff, unmentioned on many maps, but the waters were treacherous below. The rocks jagged and the waves crashing unmercifully upon the side. It was here that the trail, which was very light, making Halt proud though there are a few spots he could've done better he thought grimly. It wouldn't do to give him too much praise, nor for him to become sloppy due to that.

Scuffles on the ground led Halt to a particular spot, making his heart stop when he saw the traces from a fight. It was the remains of a fight, the one group obviously having the upper hand. Two eerily familiar daggers lay thrown on the ground along with a ripped cloak; Will's cloak. Halt's heart was in his throat, he swallowed hard trying not to think of what could be happening to his young apprentice. It was hard for him not to think of him as young, he would always be that fourteen-year-old boy he was when he started out as an apprentice. The daggers were covered in blood, with splatters dancing upon the dirt and rocks near the edge. Halt decided this was not Will's, he could not bring himself to think the worst. Scooping up his young friend's belongings, Halt followed the trails that led away from the scene, observing every detail as to not miss anything of importance. His mind was swarming with thoughts and worries. No matter how gruff he seemed, he had a deep longing for this boy; if any harm came to him, his enemies would not see peace in all their soon to be short days.

might post more tomorrow, I will see...

thanks again for reading, Ava Simbelmyne