A/N: Okay, so you know the list of 25 ways to annoy Halt I came up with a while earlier? Well, this story is about how it happened. It's set just a while before Will is going to become a full-fledged Ranger. I'd say it's somewhere between books, 4 and 7 (because we all know 5 and 6 are chronologically after 7). It's just a funny little story, so enjoy!

It was a beautiful evening in the land of Araluen, and the sun was still above the horizon line, though it would set in an hour or so. A lone figure rode on horseback, and a less-trained eye would have immediately called it out as a shaggy pony. No one here, of course, would have said that to this particular person because he—for it was a male—was wearing a mottled cloak, which marked him as a Ranger. And not just any Ranger, this was the legendary, famous, Ranger Halt.

Halt rode towards Castle Redmont, which had begun to glow red in the evening light. The Baron had wanted him for something, but he hadn't specified what exactly. As for the boy, Will had all but driven him mad by asking if he could have the evening free, and since Halt could find no legitimate reason why not, he had grudgingly agreed. Whereupon the boy had exclaimed "Halt, you're the best!" Halt was fairly certain that the boy's opinion on that fact would not change anywhere in the near future. Presumably he was off with Horace, Alyss and the Princess (she was here for a short visit) doing crazy things as he always did. The grizzled Ranger couldn't believe that he was about to turn his apprentice loose . . . AndLordhelpthefiefthatgetshim!

There was no way, of course, for Halt to have known the thing that Will was really doing . . .

High atop one of Castle Redmont's towers, five young men and women sat in a circle. They were all old friends and shared the familiarity that came with that. As they discussed many things with each other, the topic turned to the one much loved by all of them—Halt. On this particular evening, however, they all chose to do something they would soon regret . . .

"Let's make a list of things that annoy Halt!" Will said excitedly, looking at his friends.

"That'll take forever! Everythingannoys him." Horace jokingly commented.

"And if Halt finds out—" Gilan started to say, but Cassandra cut in.

"If Halt finds out, I'll say it was my idea. After all, he's hardly going to do anything to me . . . " she trailed off at her friends' skeptical looks " . . . would he? I mean, I am the Crown Princess."

"Honestly, I don't think Halt gives a hoot about whether or not you're the princess!" Before Cassandra could respond, Alyss continued. "Besides, I won't let him find out."

"Are you—" Will asked, but seeing the look on her face he stopped, "Fine, let's get started."

It was evident that there was some tension between the two girls, but none of the males wished to address. Instead, they chose to ignore it.

"I know a good one," Alyss spoke up, and seeing the unspoken question, she went on, "singing your song, GreybeardHalt, all day."

"Yeah, that would definitely annoy him!" Will agreed

"And what about your lute?" seeing that his friend was about to go off on another lecture, Horace hastily corrected himself, "Er . . . I meant mandola. But Halt hates that thing, doesn't he?"

"Even though he's the one who bought it for me in the first place!"

"From what I've heard, you really begged him for that mandola, Will. But there's something that would really get on his nerves. Trust me, I have firsthand experience." Gilan paused for dramatic effect, causing his younger companions to lean forward eagerly. "Three words. Hide—his—coffee."

"He'd kill you if you did that!" Will cried, shocked.

"Well, I'm still alive, aren't I?"

"You mean you actually hid his coffee? But he lives on that stuff!" Horace was equally stunned.

"Yes, I did. Can't say I escaped completely uninjured but hey!—it was worth it! The look on his face . . . priceless, I tell you!"

"Well, I think I know something he'd hate even more." The Princess said, a bit arrogantly.

"Oh, and what, pray tell, is that?" Alyss asked.

Ignoring her tone, Cassandra went on. "Putting him on a ship—a very rocky one at that—and asking him how he's feeling constantly."

And so they went on; coming up with things that annoyed the much-loved grizzled Ranger, which as Horace had stated earlier were certainly many. Alyss wrote them all down and even included a funny little word of warning in case it fell into the wrong hands. Which of course it wouldn't, because they needed to keep it safe. If Halt ever found out . . .

"So who will keep it safe? I mean, we obviously shouldn't do any of these items to Halt, or bad things, really bad things, will happen." Will said, solemnly.

"None of which are as bad as what will happen now to all of you." said a new voice from the dark shadows of the tower . . .

So, how'd you like it? I am going to post another chapter for this soon, don't worry. But I wanted to leave at a good cliffhanger! Hope you liked it, remember the blue button!

~radha24 :D