Author: Tejana PM
People aren't always what they seem...2nd generation, OCs. NONE of the OCs are in love with a canon and NONE of the OCs are female Rangers. 4th in series, following Lost, Found, and Search. *Spoilers*Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Friendship - Chapters: 57 - Words: 86,348 - Reviews: 229 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 09-17-12 - Published: 02-24-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7867081
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Hello everyone! This is the 4th story in my Ranger's Apprentice series. You DO need to be familiar with the other 3 to understand this one, but I promise it's worth it to go back and read (and if you choose to review chapters from other stories, that would make me super happy!) They are called Lost, Found, and Search. I also have one out there called 100 Themes. 100 Themes is a series of one-shots centered around the characters of these stories. The one-shots fill in gaps, explore minor characters, include histories, and just FYI I do take requests on those.
I am a fast-updating author. It isn't unheard of for me to put up 1-2 new chaps a day. I write ahead of the posts and if it's written, I post it. My only rule is that there MUST be reviews for an updated chapter. I especially love what I call 'epic reviews' (see definition and examples in my profile). 100 Themes usually sees a few new chaps after epic reviews. Sadly, life is hectic at the moment and it will be a bit before you guys get daily updates. However I PROMISE to give at least weekly (anyone who has read my stories knows that only one per week is NOT my style...I just say that to give myself some wiggle room). It may be a week before you see chapter 2 since I am not as far ahead as I'd like at the moment but not to worry. I highly doubt that lasts. Again, just to stress this, I LOVE reviews! Really, I do! Usually reviews (especially epic reviews) inspire me to write more and the more I write the farther ahead I am and the quicker you get your chaps. Just saying...
This story has multiple main characters. I tried this style out in Search and found I really liked exploring more than just 1. However, this will mainly be about the 2nd Generation, meaning OC galore. Just so we are VERY clear: My OCs do not fall in love with canon characters, they do not marry canon characters, they are not female Rangers, and they do not kiss a canon characters.
This next bit's to clear up unnecessary confusion. I mention current ages in the text but sometimes it's easier to simply have a list. So, here are the ages of the 2nd generation main characters in no particular order:
Scout (17), William and Rosalina (25), Daniel (24), Kane (26), Carissa (21), Caitlyn (13), Ace (22), Quinlan (14), David (11), Dalby (9), Elizabet (8)
Disclaimer: I don't own Ranger's Apprentice.
Caitlyn rested her hands on her own thighs as she rode behind her father towards Castle Araluen. His apprentice, Mason, was nearby. She didn't have her own horse so she'd been forced to ride behind Liam. Caitlyn was a competent rider and hoped for a horse soon but right now her parents said no. She got her mother's natural ability with horses and desperately wanted one of her own. Besides, it was a little embarrassing for her to be riding behind her father in front of Mason. The two would be going on to the Ranger's Gathering once she was deposited at the capitol.
Caitlyn's reason for traveling wasn't completely leisure. It never was. Her parents believed in having a purpose for everything and for this trip Caitlyn's purpose was to see Kane, Kineta, Talia, and the new baby. She also wanted a break from her parents. She loved them but without Scout she felt she was under constant surveillance. Scout always rebelled. They were minor rebellions, true, but rebellions nonetheless. Caitlyn had always slid beneath their grasp when Scout was there but now there was only her. She wanted room to breathe.
"Here we are," Liam announced as they arrived at the main road leading up to the city gate. "Have fun, Caitlyn."
Caitlyn swung her leg over the back of the horse and dropped to the ground below. She slung her pack over her shoulder and accepted the small-framed bow from her father. It was Scout's old bow. Caitlyn partly wanted her own…just once to have something that wasn't Scout's hand-me-down. But the bow had been a gift to her sister and Caitlyn was determined to get her next one in a different way. Perhaps even make her own…the best archers did that.
Her grandfather Halt was famous among the Rangers for their current bow style. Her father, Liam, had made a few adjustments after the bow he had in his younger Hibernian days and improved the range. Caitlyn thought she could improve it farther if she could get her hands on the right materials but thirteen year old girls didn't exactly have access to good bow-making supplies. She didn't want to turn to her parents because that's what Scout always did…but at the same time she knew she couldn't do it on her own.
That left her with her grandfather himself. In addition to seeing her returning family from Nihon-Ja Caitlyn wanted to discuss her ideas with Halt. Her retired Ranger grandfather who, if they were being honest, was bored would help her get what she needed to start. Halt would be at the Gathering, sure…but Caitlyn had gotten her parents to agree to let her stay at Castle Araluen for a full two weeks. She'd return with one of the Redmont Charmed Ladies who was currently in the capitol posing as a bodyguard while searching for someone leaking Araluen defense strategies to the Wanderers.
Caitlyn waved as her father and his apprentice rode off. She walked the quarter mile road to the main gate and went on into the city. The capitol had always been like a second hometown to her. She went to the castle and showed the soldier guarding the entrance to living quarters a square of cloth with the Ranger's mark sewn into it. Some guards knew her but they rotated through so often it was impossible for them to always recognize her. This way they knew she was related to a Ranger and would let her pass. She went to her grandparents' apartment and let herself in.
Caitlyn went to the spare room and dropped her pack on the bed. She rest her unstrung bow against the wall and then left to find…well, anyone. For the first hour or so she roamed aimlessly. All the Rangers were gone, of course. She didn't see her grandmother in the Couriers' main office nor did she find anyone in Jenny's restaurant. She considered going to the kitchen and asking Jenny where everyone was but knew disturbing the chef would only earn her a hard strike on her head from a ladle.
Gabby. Caitlyn almost ran up to the medical wing. Gabby would be able to answer her questions as she worked and wouldn't hit her with anything upon arrival…at least not on purpose. Her blind friend would also know if the group from Nihon-Ja had truly arrived in the city yet and if so where she could find them. Perhaps Gabby had the morning shift and would be getting off for lunch soon anyway. Caitlyn knew she'd enjoy going to the servants' kitchens with Gabby and eating a quick meal. Her father and Mason hadn't wanted to stop to eat on their journey and Caitlyn had money to buy food in the capitol if she couldn't find her family soon. She was independent enough to provide for herself so her father didn't baby her. She saw how her peers' parents treated them and was grateful hers realized she was more capable of independence than everyone thought. At least, independent enough to enter the city and get to her family herself.
Caitlyn slowed to a more appropriate pace as she neared the medical wing. Apprentices in clean white tunics with green hawks embroidered to the right breast shuffled amongst the maids in simple green dresses with white aprons. Physicians' assistants flitted around as well. They were above apprentice but not masters. Gabby fell into that category. The females wore white gowns and aprons with the hawk-symbol sewn into them while males wore similar colored tunics. They were busy. Caitlyn even caught a glimpse of a midwife wearing her uniform blue gown and white apron directing two apprentices in the same uniform about. All females in the medical wing were to keep their hair braided back out of the way with a square of cloth folded over and tied around their heads. It kept stray hair from getting in the way.
Caitlyn let herself in. Master Jonathan, the Head of Healers, knew her and wouldn't object to her being there. She smiled widely when she first saw Talia talking to one of the midwife apprentices and holding a tiny bundle. In six big steps she joined the elusive woman her mother deeply respected.
"Is this the baby?" Caitlyn asked to make her presence known. Talia turned and suddenly Caitlyn could better see her face. Deep scratches that couldn't be more than a few weeks' old lined her left cheek and a bruise colored her forehead a nasty shade of purple. It was light enough Caitlyn could tell it was an old wound but still...
"Caitlyn," Talia said with surprise. "What are you doing here?"
"Visiting," Caitlyn answered slowly. Talia wore a long-sleeved dress but her swooped neckline revealed more bruises on her chest. "What happened to you?"
"The ship was attacked and overtaken while we were in the harbor. We managed to get into a rescue boat but not without a fight."
Caitlyn frowned. "Is everyone alright?"
"A great deal of Skandians were lost but their jarl already departed to inform the Oberjarl. I understand they'll be given great honor. The ship sank and its attackers with it."
Caitlyn allowed a small grin. And that's why nobody messes with Skandians, she thought. Winning a physical match with them was hopeless. Her parents always taught her that…and the way to truly defeat people from that region was with wit.
"So is this the baby?" Caitlyn repeated as she peered down at the bundle. Talia nodded.
"This is Russ."
She smiled as the baby yawned. "Hello, Russ."
Master Jonathan came over from the patient he'd been with on the far side of the room. Shirtless men were lying on almost all the beds. Caitlyn tried not to focus on them and felt herself blush. Her mother's experience as a field medic and general upbringing squashed out her sense of modesty. Lina didn't run around in revealing clothing but nudity of either gender didn't bother her…especially with patients. Scout was the same way. If someone needed stitches, no matter where the injury was on their body, she'd strip them down, wash the area, sew them up, and then prepare a meal without flinching. Caitlyn, however, got her father's modesty. Liam even always told Mason, "Never let the girls see too much of you and don't let you see too much of them. It will do nothing but distract both of you."
Every maid, apprentice, and physicians' assistant on duty and then some seemed to be cleaning wounds. Caitlyn even spotted Gabby hard at work with a soft sponge and bowl of water. A bottle of nasty-looking black liquid sat on the bedside table. Every so often she dipped her fingers in it and plunged her fingers into a wound. The man she worked on had either been given a sleeping syrup or too much liquor because he tensed hardly at all. The one he was given pended on his nationality…Master Jonathan knew better than to waste good syrup on a Skandian who would curse to no end until he was given strong spirits.
"Caitlyn," he said evenly, "I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to wait outside."
Caitlyn nodded. "Alright…if one of you would point me in the direction of the others I'll be on my way."
Talia and Jonathan shared a glance that made Caitlyn shift. "Caitlyn…why don't you take Russ to the garden? He needs some fresh air and I have business here," Talia suggested. Caitlyn narrowed her eyes.
"I'm not a child. What are you hiding?"
One of the private room's door on the far side of the wing opened and a little girl with blond hair and black eyes ran out. She went straight to Talia and tugged on her skirt.
"Elizabet," Caitlyn beamed. Elizabet jumped at her name and hid behind Talia's legs. She peered at Caitlyn warily. Suddenly she remembered the Hibernian girl's anxiety issues.
"Elizabet you remember Caitlyn, right? She's Scout's sister. You've been asking about Scout…remember?"
Caitlyn knelt down to Elizabet's level. "Remember that really pretty Flynn Masque book you had?"
Elizabet's face softened. She leaned away from her hiding place.
"I saved it for you. It's in my pack at my grandparents'. We can get it later and…"
Elizabet stepped away from Talia, took Caitlyn's hand, and began tugging.
"She wants it now," Talia said. "Go get it and read her a few stories. She's shaken from the attack."
Caitlyn frowned. "But…"
Caitlyn realized the midwife's apprentice Talia had been speaking to rushed to the still open door of the private room. A woman with flaming red hair lay in the bed. Caitlyn narrowed her eyes to focus better and felt her heart skip a beat. "Is that Kineta?" she asked.
Talia stepped over to block her view. "Go and remember that you are responsible for Elizabet until I come to collect her."
Jonathan put his hands on Caitlyn's shoulders. His grip was firm. "Come, I'll see you out."
The healer pushing and Elizabet pulling Caitlyn had no choice but to leave. She held Elizabet's hand and they walked back to the apartment. Why would Kineta need a midwife after an attack? Caitlyn was young but mature beyond her years…not to mention quick. She felt her heart skip a beat. Women only needed midwives for one purpose. Kineta shouldn't need one. Wasn't that why Scout was taken to be their heir? Caitlyn gulped as pieces fell into place.