Finding a Rose in the Briar

A/N: This isn't intended to be a copy of EsotericWhim's "By Any Other Name"; I actually thought I'd get what I was wanting to read there, but the author has yet to get back to it. So here's my version of Fable: the Lost Chapters, focusing on the relationship between Briar Rose and Ranger/Paladin (the Hero). Along the way, I've invented some stuff to explain or add to previously established stuff, like "Chicken Chaser".

Disclaimer: I don't own it; blah, blah, blah, legal mumbo-jumbo…you get the idea.

Ch 1 – Meeting again for the First Time

The young Guild Hero was sore, bruised, and a bit tired as he pushed the massive door out of his way and entered the Map Room. He'd set out to answer an emergency – a Wasp attack on the Picnic Area by Lookout Point. Quite frankly, it had been only a half step up from the Apprentice Quests he was used to, though he would confess that the Wasp Queen had given him a little trouble. But his sword and Longbow had proven better than Wasps could handle. Already, he'd been nicknamed by the surviving townsfolk.

After basking in their attention and the ensuing Renown, he'd almost literally stumbled over some fool lady complaining about the mushroom she had. Three times dancing like a Cossack tended to leave even the most practiced in Albion sore, so one could only imagine how he now felt after such activity. She'd felt he deserved the mushroom after making her laugh so hard (though he suspected she'd imbibed another one earlier, making many things funnier than they ought to be). Then he headed back.

It still befuddled him that a trip over a distance so short could take so long. First, he'd met two more 'shroom-heads near the old statue in Lookout Point; they had quickly requested his aid in re-acquiring a mushroom they'd left somewhere in the Guild grounds. The act of trying to get some distance from them brought him to an old beggar being harassed by a bully in one corner of the intersection. He smiled as he considered that the bully would likely not ever forget the admittedly gross means by which he'd been driven away. The bully had, in appearance and personality, reminded him all too much of his dealings with Rexus, a bully back in Oakvale. Then, as though none of this was enough, he'd had the wonderful idea of picking, chopping, and slashing his way through some nearby brambles to retrieve a silver key a little way into the woods. All in all, he'd been through a lot for so short a time.

As his eyes adjusted to the dimmer lighting in the Map Room, he spotted a familiar figure, most assuredly of the feminine variety, leaning over the Map Table. He quietly stepped up behind her and waited until she turned around, at which point she jumped in surprise. Of course, a snappy comeback was rarely far from the lips of Briar Rose, and this occasion was no exception. "If you're looking for Quests, you're too late. All the good ones are taken…'Chicken Chaser'." She was unable to keep from snickering at the nickname she'd given him a couple years before.

He chuckled back and ran one hand through his unruly hair before replying, "Actually, it's Ranger now. The townspeople were apparently rather impressed with the bow-work I did fighting the Wasps."

"Well, Ranger, I'm sure the Guild will find something useful for you. I hear the kitchens need cleaning…" This last was spoken with a teasing lilt to her voice and a smirk on her lips, which remained as she sashayed to the Cullis Gate platform and teleported away to…wherever.

Some of the newer Apprentices had gathered to watch the two Heroes interact. One finally mustered the courage to approach him. With a stammer Ranger suspected was born of a bad case of nervousness, the young man asked, "Ranger, we've heard that you once were called 'Chicken Chaser', but none of us knows why. How did you get a nickname like that?"

Ranger glanced over at the group, then back to their spokesman. Then he gestured further into the Guild Hall. "Tell you what – let's go to the dining hall, and I'll tell you all about how Briar Rose gave me that name."