Hello! Sorry it has been so long, I've been pretty busy, but I suppose that still doesn't change the time its been. I hope you still enjoy this, I don't think its the best, but I needed to get something out for you guys! I'm going to try to get the action flowing next chapter...now that Halt finally ...not finishing that sentence. XD ... Please review, tell me where to go if you have ideas...I have a rough outline, but you know, I LOVE ideas! Thanks again. :) (oh, and I'm serious about the reviewing...it really doesn't take long, and it really does make an authors day!)
The young farm-boy ran up gasping onto the gravel street that started the village of Wesley, clothes travel and work dirty. He continued without much of a stop for breath and continued his sprint to the bridge leading to the castle.
He had raced from the edge of the fief, from a bordering farm with an urgent message from the kingdom's most renowned ranger. It was yesterday that the grizzly old man came charging up the path along their farm house, he was chasing something; but it was only to give the message to the boy that he slowed his cantor for. It was a short letter, a paragraph directed to the baron and Crawley alerting of Will's capture and his chase. Halt wasn't going to wait for permission, not after Skandia; even at that time he had said forget it to rules and regulations. After all, it's better to ask forgiveness than permission.
"He deserves to know Arald!" The exasperated lady exclaimed once again. It has been a long day in the council chambers for the second time that week, and Pauline was ready to burst in frustration. When the young farm-boy came gasping into the castle with an urgent message for the head of the Ranger Corps, both Crawley and Pauline were summoned to the Barons presence. Pauline was adamant that Horace should be informed of his best friends' and companions' predicament, as he would likely be a major asset to the search for Will. Crawley couldn't do much more than Halt already has, so he assigned a replacement ranger to Redmont for the time of his absence.
With a complacent wave of his hands the baron tried to argue his reasoning, "if he finds out, word will spread, the village and he will be in a frenzy and we will lose control; Will is not only Horace's friend but the whole towns as well. How will we be able to control something like that if word gets out?" "I too want to find Will, but we need to remember that he is a Ranger; apprentice or no, he can hold out until Halt finds him."
Pauline spun around, making her white dress twist and smack against her legs in protest. Her straight and silky blond hair flew past her shoulders, giving her a regal look; but her eyes betrayed herself. With forced calm, she gathered her dignity and answered in short, clipped tones, "Arald, you of all people, should understand the need for a friend to know this information. You are right, Will is not only his friend, he is mine as well and I will do what is best for him and everyone who loves him. If you cannot understand this than so be it, but don't hinder those who do." She ended in a whisper, then, barely containing her frustration, she took her leave.
That night Will's best friend received the news. Without hesitation Horace packed his bag, saddled his horse and followed the meager directions toward Will's teacher. He only hoped he would find him in time.
Halt had slowed his cantor to a steady walk and dismounted. The woods along the cliff line allowed little room to run a horse. Not only that but Halt didn't want to risk alerting Will's capturers of his arrival if their camp was found. His previous state of frenzy wore off into something more of a deep foreboding. As in Skandia, Halt couldn't rest knowing the possible dangers his ward was in; but he also couldn't risk allowing his mind to run off in a wild state. He had to trust in his apprentice, and trust that his training would be enough to keep him alive.
It took two days to follow the men, even setting a rigorous pace; he would not let Abelard sprint the full time. The painfully slow walking time ended up paying back that night when Halt finally came across the faint smell of campfire smoke. Letting go of Abelard's reins Halt slowly crawled to the edge of their make-shift camp. He found the men, now he just had to get his apprentice back.
Will deemed it safe to say, his day could definitely be getting better. This was no-doubt, a very bad day. Not to say he hasn't had bad days before…but this was worse than usual. Not only were these men bringing him to some secret place to, with certainty, torture him and taunt him…but now he finds out that his sinking suspicion from before was true; he was being lead to a ship. To the northern tips above Skandia. Cold, un-relentless bitter snow, and harsh masters. He was to be sold as a slave. Again.
The knowledge hit him like a ton of bricks after he caught the trail of the conversation a few days into his captivity. Constant repeats from the first night was a common theme. Will lost count of the bruises and strained muscles, echoing into the background as new layered upon old. He knew the bruises would set deep into the muscle, leaving damage and considerable pain in the near future, but the worst were his hands. The leather straps constraining his wrists were soaked in water and allowed to dry, tightening the restraints within a millimeter of circulation; the amount of damage was a frightening aspect for him as a soon-to-be full-fledged Ranger.
The men appeared to lose interest in him for the day, an aspect he was thankful for. One thing he was thankful for was that he knew Halt would be after him, the cloak and medal was guaranteed to be enough to guide his path. As Will grew accustomed to the beatings he found it easier the recede into himself and wait it out. Stalling only gets one so far until time catches up to you, but if it was stalling that could be the difference between life and death in his case, he would be sure to stall as if Halt was asking him to go to bed before a late-night gathering. Though he was sure his capturer's have been holding back, he would just have to push farther. He would have to hold up his end of the stick, because it was all a waiting game now.