Disclaimer: I don't own Ranger's Apprentice or anything therein as it all belongs to Saint John Flanagan. *bows before Saint Flanagan* Anyhow, here's this hopefully cool idea I had that sprung to mind one day. Do take note that it's set in Book 1 – The Ruins of Gorlon – and Book 2 – The Burning Bridge. It might also have parts of Book 3 in it but that's yet to be determined. Within this fanfic, Will is the Crown Prince and his sister (Cassandra/Evalyn) is captured in Celtica. Will attempts to run away to rescue her but bumps into Halt. How will the grizzled old Ranger react? What will Halt decide? Read and find out! Don't forget to comment if you like it!
Chapter 1: A Dangerous Decision
I was furious!
Much to my tutor's aggravation, I drummed my fingers none to quietly on the table in demonstration.
The old man sat on a high-backed chair opposite me wearing fine robes of purple and black. His bald head was crowned by a wreath of thin white hairs.
He wore no beard but it was evident that he was older in years. His eyes portrayed that.
"Prince William, please!" Marvin begged. "Your father will have my hide if your grades continue to droop. You must pay attention."
"Damn attention and everything to do with it!" I growled, banging a fist suddenly on the table.
Normally, I would hate to upset my private tutor as he was a kindly old man but today I was furious.
"And how many times must I tell you to refrain from calling me 'Prince William'?" I hissed in annoyance. "My name is Will."
"Prince or not you must persevere in your history lessons," Marvin said, his eyes flashing from frustration. "How many Rangers currently reside in Araluen?"
"Fifty!" I snapped.
"Good," Marvin smirked. "Who is the most famous out of them all and why?"
"His name is Halt," I said mechanically. "And he is famous for leading an army against Lord Morgorath. Without his help, the battalion would have been slaughtered."
"Vague, but correct," Marvin said nodding approvingly.
And so the rest of the afternoon passed as I was taught the history of Araluen amongst other things. But my heart was not with it.
My younger sister Cassandra, princess of Araluen, was missing. No one knew the exact details but apparently she had gone to Celtica as an ambassador.
Three days ago, one very battered, bruised, and blood-stained servant had returned with only one working leg, a broken nose, a black eye and dratted news. The envoy with my sister had been ambushed by Wargals in the dead of night once they had crossed over the border.
Mass chaos erupted. The servants and guards fought bravely but they were outnumbered ten to one. The Wargals cut them down like a scythe harvesting wheat. The servant wanted to fight to the death but Cassie told him to warn our father, King Duncan, about the news.
The Wargals were marshalling their forces around the banner of Rain and Night – the flag of Lord Morgorath, sworn archenemy of Araluen. He was a disgruntled baron of Gorlan years ago who led a rebellion against my grandfather.
The uprising was cut down and Lord Morgorath fled back to the Mountains of Rain and Night, so called because they were always dismal, bleak and gloomy. It rained constantly in the Mountains and an eerie, white mist prevailed throughout all seasons.
It was the perfect place to hide since no one would be able to brave the elements let alone packs of Wargals and...worse foes. It was no wonder that I fretted for my sister, my only true friends amongst the stuffy barons and nobles who came to court.
You see, I was short for my age of fifteen and thinner too. I would never last as a knight or any kind of warrior as far as anybody reckoned. Thus, I was a disappointment as prince and firstborn son of King Duncan who had hoped for a strong child as heir to the throne.
So it was that I had taken to ghosting along the many hallways and passages in Castle Araluen. There was one abandoned cellar that I had claimed as my 'den'. I would go there frequently when depressed and lonely.
The darkness helped me in that way. It was so thick and *there* that it was like a companion to me. I would talk to it when lonely and it would answer back in daydreams and visions of the glory and splendour I would earn if I became a knight or some warrior of great prestige and renown.
Sadly, that was not my fate. It was my fate to become a scholar prince and not even a good one at that for I could not sit still for more than half an hour or so. I had a problem of always asking questions (unless I was worried) and this bothered my tutor to no end.
Finally, Marvin realized it would be futile for me to learn anything when the castle was in chaos as the kingdom prepared for war, not to mention my sister missing. I hoped she wasn't dead.
"Fine!" Marvin said suddenly causing me to start. His eyes twinkled knowingly. "You are excused for the day but try not to get in trouble. Also, do not pester your father with questions about Princess Cassandra's disappearance. Your sister is a strong-willed and smart young lass as I ever knew. She will by far be able to take care of herself out there. Why do you think she constantly practiced with that sling of hers?"
I couldn't resist a dry grin as that memory flashed before my eyes. Cassie was always playing around the castle with a crude sling she made by herself. She would sneak up on the castle sentries at night and nock their spears from their hands with a single, smooth pebble. Marvin was right. If anyone could survive Celtica alone it was her even though I hated to admit it.
"Thanks, Marvin," I said, getting up eagerly from my seat.
"No worries," Marvin chuckled. "Just do not let your father get wind of this or it'll be my head next on the chopping block. I was young once too you know!"
"Really?" I asked in mock surprise.
Marvin laughed good-naturedly and stood up, tucking his manuscripts and scrolls under his arm.
"Off with you now!" He said, feigning a stern demeanour. "Never let it be said that the Crown Prince got bored to death under my jurisdiction. It would be the end of my hard-earned reputation."
Grinning, I pulled off the cloak that had rested on the back of my chair and slipped into the grey cloth. Due to its colour, I was able to blend in with my surroundings while I used the shadows to help retain a fairly invisible state of being.
It was a unique habit I developed as I enjoyed walking unseen. Little did I know that I would depend on this and more in the dark days to come and come they would as I set off to enact a secret agenda of my own.
I was fed up with the hulking and incompetent scouts of the kingdom mucking around in Celtica while my sister could be in the iron fist of Morgorath for all anyone knew.
I had to act now while my father was distracted with devising strategy and making preparations for the war to come.
I had to rescue Cassie.
It was a dangerous decision but what did I have to lose?
To be Continued in Chapter 2...
Author's Note: Well, that about sums it up for now. Will should bump into Halt by Chapter 2 and we'll see how the grizzled old Ranger reacts to the Crown Prince running away on a quest of rescue and revenge. Will Halt help him out or hand him over to King Duncan? Looks like you'll have to wait and find out in Chapter 2! R&R please!