To any one insane enough to read this: Hi guys! This is my first fic, or any kind of real writing, so please be nice. Constructive criticism is welcome, and if you would like to flame, go ahead. I'm in the mood to roast something over the fire. If you have an idea for a better name, please, share it. I was in an uncreative mood at the moment. Anyway, please give me and tips you have and please, please, PLEASE review. If you do I will love you forever. First reviewer gets a hug from me, and from their favorite RA character. They will also receive a cookie, and my profuse thanks. Anyway, without further ado I present…

The Ranger's war

"I still don't think that was fair."

Halt sighed and tried to ignore his annoying, and absolutely un-ignorable used-to-be-apprentice.

Will persisted.

"This is a riddle contest. 'What won't shut up and go away' does not count as a riddle."

"I think it should count," Halt replied, finally giving up on trying to pretend Will didn't exist. "You won't shut up, and I don't see you going away."

There was a silence for exactly eleven blessed seconds, the best eleven seconds of Halt's life.

"So that's what it was," Will said in wonder.

Halt snorted quietly to himself and wondered how late the ex-apprentice had been up. Or maybe he just hadn't had his coffee yet.

"Here's another riddle!" Will said. Halt wondered how that boy still managed to be excited, especially with himself around. Imagine trying to be Will. Halt shuddered. He would rather die. Even imagining it was too painful to bear.

"What's old an ugly and has a haircut like a sheepdog?" Will asked.

Halt got a sneaking suspicion he knew the answer. He pushed the thought to the back of his mind. Even Will wouldn't be that stupid, at least Halt thought he wouldn't.

"A sheepdog?" Halt guessed.

Will smirked.

"Was that a question or an answer?" he asked.

Halt gritted his teeth and fingered his longbow. Will saw the action and shut up. Momentarily. But nothing good lasts forever, especially not silence.

"Are we there yet?"

Halt managed to maneuver his body so that he was partially facing Will.

"NO!" he yelled.

Will nodded.

"I see. Well, will we be there soon?"

Halt stooped Abelard and turned him so he was facing Will.

"If your apprentice is anything, anything, like you, whatsoever, Redmont is doomed."

Will shrugged.

"We'll only be gone for a few days," he replied nonchalantly. "We deserve some time off to visit Gilan. Morgan is perfectly capable of handling things while we're gone."

Halt mumbled something under his breath.

"I'm sorry, could you repeat that?" Will said, grinning at his mentor.

The grizzled old ranger lightly cued Abelard to walk.

"I said, not if he's anything like you."

Will smiled again.

"Thank you, Halt. I care about you too. By the way, did you give up on the riddle? The answer is you."

Will urged Tug to his fastest pace. He wanted to live through this visit to Gilan.

The sound of hoof beats alerted Gilan that someone was coming. He heard Blaze call a greeting, and he knew that whoever it was obviously was a ranger. Two rangers actually, Gilan mused, hearing the answering whinnies. He went to the door and opened it.

Both the horses were sweaty and breathing hard. Gilan stared in surprise at Will and Halt.

"Did you run those poor horses all the way here?" he asked.

"No, just…most…of…way," Will replied, panting even harder than Tug.

Gilan looked from one horse to the other.

"I believe it," he said.

About an hour later, Halt, Will, and Gilan sat around a table talking, and of course, drinking coffee. Both Tug and Abelard had been cooled off and stabled with Blaze.

"Who's watching Redmont while you're gone?" Gilan asked curiously.

Halt shrugged casually.

"No one, actually. We decided Redmont could manage itself for a few days."

Gilan choked on his coffee. Staring at the other ranger, Halt raised one eyebrow.

"I'm joking, Gilan. I had hoped you would see that."

The young ranger coughed a few more times before he managed to reply.

"With you, Halt, it becomes difficult to tell when you're serious or joking. Who is watching Redmont while your gone?"

Will smiled.

"Morgan. He's my apprentice."

Gilan copied Halt and raised an eyebrow.

"I didn't know you had an apprentice."

"He's been my apprentice for about a year now. I truly am surprised you haven't heard yet.

"You haven't visited much," Gilan replied. "But I suppose what with trying to train him you haven't had much time. Are you sure he can handle Redmont all by himself?"

"Confident," Will stated.

All three suddenly turned as hoof beats pounded toward the house. The three ranger horses neighed. It was a warning, not a greeting. A frantic knocking began at the door.

Gilan stood so suddenly he knocked his coffee to the ground. No one noticed. The young ranger rushed to open the door. When it swung open the young boy who had been leaning on the door for support fell inward. Will caught him and laid him on the floor.

The boy raised his head and coughed weakly. His messengers tunic was slick with blood. Red fingers grasped the shaft of the arrow that protruded from his side. Gathering all his strength, the messenger managed to speak.

"Castle Araluen…captured. Ranger there…shot me. The king…the king…is…dead."

Hee, hee. Dead king. I laugh. Anyway, please review. I refuse to update until I have at least three reviews. Be honest about the chapter. I know it was painfully short. More of an introduction, really. I shall try to do better next time. Anyway, StormHorse signing out.