I was going to wait a little longer before starting this fic, but the plot bug bit me and I was really impatient to get started on this thing. Thank you to all who reviewed the story 'Flashback', all new authors need people like you. So, here's my new fanfic. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: I don't own Ranger's Apprentice, or any of the characters. Not even the main character in this fanfic that you won't recognize… Yet! *evil grin*
She sat inconspicuously in a corner of the inn, eating her meal and keeping to herself. And listening intently, though no on else noticed. In the past few years, she'd become a fairly decent eavesdropper, able to seem to be doing practically anything while listening in on a conversation. She'd also learned how to stop the obvious reactions to shocking news. Not that she'd been able to put the last skill into effect lately. She had yet to hear what she was listening for. A normal Araluen could probably simply ask for the information without seeming too suspicious, but her Gallican accent marked her out as a foreigner, therefore, not privy to that information.
She withheld a smirk. Her Gallican accent was completely fake, to throw anyone who might be looking for her off her trail. It wouldn't pass by a native Gallican, but it was passable to anyone without an expert ear. She could do a decent Araluen accent as well, but surrounded by natives as she was, her own native tongue would undoubtedly push through in a vowel or consonant here or there, showing her own language, if only remotely.
And she did not, even remotely, want to be connected to her native land. Well, at least not until she found what she was looking for.
Which, due to the close-mouthed nature of the townspeople when the wanted topic arose might not be ever. She'd been in Araluen for three months and had only eliminated nine fiefs from her mental list of where her prize might be. Only forty-one fiefs to go. Hurrah.
She suppressed a sigh of frustration and went back to eavesdropping, listening around for any talk that might tell her what she wanted. A few old farmers two tables away were talking about the lack of rain that spring. Some women were complaining to each other about the increasing prices of buttons. Putting her skills to work, the rifled expertly through several muddled conversations, she finally found one that might hold what she was seeking.
Two men were talking at the table coincidentally right next to her own, something that had to do with a dispute in a town near the northern border of the fief—Araluen Fief, to be exact.
"Heard that old Ranger went up to sort it out," one man said, his words slurring somewhat. He looked to be about thirty-five, with a ragged, short beard. She noticed he was holding a tankard of ale; it had to be his third that night, hence his slight slurring of speech.
She nearly yelled in frustration. 'Old Ranger' was hardly a description to go by. She needed a name! She was about to finish up her meal and go outside to vent, but then the conversation took a turn for the better.
The second man shushed the first hurriedly, glancing around like they thought someone was listening. Which she was, but she was careful not to broadcast the fact. "You shouldn't go around calling Rangers 'old'," he muttered quickly. "They're black magicians, after all." She highly doubted that, from what she knew of the Ranger Corps. Which, admittedly, wasn't much, but all the same. "And," he continued in the same hushed tones, "Ranger Crowley is their leader. He, least of all of them, would take kindly to being called old."
She settled back, a contented smile threatening to break out onto her lips. So, she'd finally struck gold. She amended her thought. She'd struck silver. Not exactly what she was looking for, but close. Now she could get out of this heaven-forsaken fief and be on her way. Maybe she'd go to Whitby Fief next; it didn't honestly matter to her as long as she could get away from here. Then she heard something else in the continued conversation.
"Did you hear about those two Rangers from Redmont traipsing off to Hibernia or somewhere?" The first man asked.
She perked up and listened. What on earth did any fief need two Rangers for?
The second glanced at him nervously, then his curiosity won out. "No, I didn't hear about that. I hardly even knew Redmont had two Rangers." The unspoken question was nonetheless evident, and the other man was happy to oblige him.
"Well, there's definitely two of 'em there. Though you have to wonder why. It's not like Ranger Halt is an amateur. I'm surprised they need someone like Will Treaty to back him up."
She kept her eyes carefully trained on the tabletop, still absently scooping food into her mouth. It was all motion, though, with no thought behind it at all. Her thoughts were going a hundred miles an hour, racing through her head and tumbling over themselves. She couldn't believe her luck in gathering information tonight. Bag Whitby, she was going to Redmont.
After shoveling the last two and a half bites into her mouth all at once, she stood abruptly. Swallowing as she walked, she strode over to the counter where the innkeeper stood, observing the traffic of his inn. He saw her coming and turned to face her, a slightly forced smile on his face.
"And how may I be of help to you, Miss Kietleen Arratez?" he asked her amiably, butchering the Gallican name. It was only a pseudonym, but no one here was to know that.
"I only came up here to inform you that I will be departing in the morning," she replied, her fake accent plastered over the true one. 'Kietleen' was ready to leave right then, but a good night's sleep would be necessary before she began the journey to her destination. "Here is what payment you have required," she added, sliding some gold coins across the table. The innkeeper nodded.
"Very well, I hope you have a good night's rest, and a fortunate journey when you go on your way." Kietleen nodded absently, already walking towards the stairs, her thoughts far away. She had much to plan, much to do, plenty enough to keep her busy. Finally, after months of waiting, searching, watching and listening, she'd done it.
She'd found him.
A smile touched her lips, a true one, reaching her eyes and lighting up her face. She enjoyed what she was doing, she enjoyed it very much.
DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN. So, who's she looking for? Why is she looking for them? Who is she? Heh, this is gonna be fun! I will not update until I get a few reviews—I have to know someone's reading this. And liking this. I have no clue how long this is going to be, but I do have a main plot that I will keep to myself if I don't get reviews. So, review! I need your input! Anything you have to say, any suggestions would be great. Criticism's fine, I want to know what I did wrong, but don't be completely rotten about it.