Chapter 2

(A/N: So guys, I enjoyed writing the first chapter soo much, however short it was, that I have decided to update this before I update my other stories. Next week however don't expect to see another chapter for this as I will be updating probably both of my other stories. I wish I had time to update all of them more frequently but sadly I do not so I have to choose which I update. Anyways enjoy!)

I do not own The Ranger's Apprentice, or any of its characters.

Crowley, Halt, and Will sat around a campfire as they all talked with Gilan and filled him in on Will's outstanding victory about outwitting the great Halt. Halt, naturally, sat brooding as Crowley explained in awe his version of the days ealier proceedings. They had run into Gilan heading towards the gathering shortly after Will's apparent victory, which made Will's victory all the more hilarious as they found him setting up traps for halt in a VERY thought out plan to outwit Halt again. When they found him he was instantly busted and quickly rounded up his set traps and resaddled Blaze and set off with them. Crowley hinted at Will's antics to Gilan who hadn't quite caught on to what he was saying until finally Crowley promised to fill him in on the details when they made camp that evening since the gathering was at least another three days ride.

"So, here I was following young Will here, thinking that he was up to something. I soon found my suspicions correct when I saw him dismount Tug and set off on foot, cautiously slinking through the woods setting traps as he went. When he remounted Tug he rode past Halt's cottage a little too closely and Abelard instantly picked up the scent of Tug and Will. With Abelard's warning, Halt set off after Will in hopes of deflating Will's ego by proving he hasn't lost his edge. Halt had been sure he had caught Will with his pants around his ankles when he shot his arrow into the ground in front of Tug and Will. You should have seen it Gil, Halt stepped out of the trees and Will was pure poetry how he baited Halt so effectively. The boy knew Halt would find his traps so he set a second trap for when Halt let his guard down. He played the part of innocence perfectly when he admitted his defeat and urged Halt to ride with him. Sure enough Halt stepped forward and was launched into the air by his ankle by the rope trap taught to all new apprentices. He not only fooled Halt, he did it with using the basic traps and such ease I'm telling you it was all poetry in motion. I myself thought I had bested them both by following behind undiscovered until Will gestured for me to shoot Halt down. It was Will who gave me my idea for the games." Crowley explained in great detail much to Will's and Gilan's amusement and Halt's dismay.

"I see, all these years I've tried every trick in the book and Will got him with a simple rope snare. Damn, why didn't I think of it? Will I believe some congratulations are in order because you have also put me to shame since I have never bested Halt." Gilan said appreciatively.

"It was nothing, just a little prank for good old Halt. I do believe he is in dire need of some amusement in his life." Will said earnestly as he grinned ruefully.

"Yes, well, I believe you have proven yourself worthy of a more…difficult fief. I guess it isn't a promotion since we do not have ranks in the Ranger Corps, but you have proven yourself worthy of a better assignment. I was thinking Greenstone Fief. Does that suit you Will?" Crowley asked.

"That's right next to Redmont Fief." Will stated excitedly.

"Why so it is. I do believe that would put you and Alyss in only a short rides distance wouldn't it? What do you say Will?" Crowley asked again this time grinning at Will.

"I accept, but wait, what about the Ranger for Greenstone Fief?" Will asked curiously.

"Oh, I guess he will have to take over Seacliff Fief then." Crowley responded.

"But wouldn't Makail take that as an insult being sent to a Fief lower then his current one?" Will asked.

"Always with the questions with this one, you picked a good apprentice Halt. No Will, while it may be an easier assignment within the Fief itself, all the Fief's of the Kingdom are important in some way or another. Seacliff Fief is a very strategically placed Fief. It was placed there so if an invasion were to come from the sea, it is close enough to Castle Arulean that a messenger can be sent immediately and ready the entire Kingdom. It's a very important Fief to look after." Crowley explained yet again to the onslaught of Will's never ending questions.

"Yes, well now that THAT is settled, what pray tell do you plan for the games to include. You still haven't clued us in on that." Gilan shot in.

"Well, I was hoping to reveal that to the entire Ranger Corps at the gathering but seeing as how Halt and Will inspired it, and you being one of our most distinguished Ranger's Gil I guess I see no harm in telling you." Crowley paused for dramatic effect.

"Well?" Gilan asked.

"It's all simple really. Anyone who wishes to participate may, but we shall not be making anyone compete against their will. This is just to let some of the Ranger's let loose a little from duty and have a little fun while at the same time testing their skills as a Ranger by trying to best a fellow Ranger. In short, it's a game of who can best who by way of traps, concealment, and trickery. Anyone who doesn't wish to play can become a target however, and that may prompt a few more to join in the games just for the sake of revenge."

"So you plan on putting Ranger against Ranger in an all out war of who's the best at besting the best." Gilan said.

"That's too many best's." Will shot in grinning at Gilan.

"Well, I for one will not degrade myself to such tomfoolery." Halt said, speaking for the first time since they set up camp.

"That's the best part Halt. You already have!" Crowley said, gaining a grin from everyone but Halt.

"Very well, I guess I will go along with this, if only to show both of my former apprentices that it isn't wise to mess with a senior Ranger." Halt said curtly.

"That's the spirit Halt." Crowley said slapping the small cloaked figure on the back a couple of times to rough for Halt's tastes.

"Now lets get some sleep, we have a long day of riding tomorrow. Will you take first watch. When your watch is over Gilan will take over, then Halt, then I myself will take the final watch."

With that each respective Ranger rolled into their camouflaged cloaks by the fire they had set up and fell promptly asleep. All but Will, who was still grinning about the events of the day.

All the Ranger's of the Ranger Corps were present in a meeting tent set up for the gathering. They all shared any information they had obtained recently about the goings on in their respective Fief's. Earlier in the day Makail had been briefed of his transfer to Seacliff Fief and how Will was to take over at Greenstone Fief. He took the news with indifference as any Ranger would until they explained that they wanted to test Will on a more difficult Fief, which coincidentally happened to be only a few hours journey from Greenfield Fief where Gilan was stationed, and half a days journey from Redmont Fief where Halt, as well as the distinguished Alyss of the Diplomatic Corps were both stationed. Mikail seemed like a very understanding and goodhearted, as well as cheerful fellow, to Will.

"No doubt he will compete in the games." Will thought to himself.

As every Ranger finished discussion about their respective Fief and all had gathered to the eat as they discussed Crowley decided now was the best time to capture all of the Ranger's and explain about the games.

"Fellow Ranger's, may I have your attention." Crowley's voice rang out with authority and everyone quieted instantly before he continued. "We have all gathered here to organize all the gathered information from the Kingdom's fifty Fief's. As it seems business has been settled and matters of more personal interest are now being discussed I myself would like to address all of you with a matter of personal interest of my own."

Crowley paused for dramatic effect again, however it was lost on all the Ranger's as they waited patiently to hear what their commander was trying to say. Eventually Crowley continued saying, "An idea has recently dawned on me that I find quite amusing as well as a way to test the waters of all our fellow Rangers. I have decided we shall now be holding, as of today, will be known as The Ranger Games."

Instantly a bunch of muttering broke out among quite a few tables. Some wondered what he meant by Ranger Games while the majority sat quietly and waited for their commander's explanation. Eventually the muttering died out and all were quite again, prompting Crowley to continue.

"You do not have to compete if you do not wish, however, everyone here is a target. Young will here, not but only a few days ago bested our most senior Ranger Halt by baiting him into a trap set. It was merely a practical joke, but it has spurred in me the desire to let you all cut loose a little and not be so worried about duty all the time. Not all Ranger's may be away from their Fief for the games so I shall set rules about such at a later time. You may pick up a copy of them at the end of the gathering as you head to your respective Fief. The purpose? To test your skills in silent movement, concealment, trap setting and concealment, even your skills at the throwing knife and Longbow. Naturally you are not allowed to kill a fellow Ranger. This is to see who can best who in a no holds barred war of strategy and trickery. I wish you all Good Hunting!" Crowley smirked at the end of his speech as the muttering broke out.