When a Ranger trots down a road on their horse, people feel a shiver run down their spine. They whisper silent questions to each other, wondering what's going on. Rangers are one of the most feared people to townsfolk in Araluen. One of the most feared, but not the most feared. The most feared thing in Araluen sends fear into the hearts of Rangers. The most feared thing in Araluen sends King Duncan to his knees, praying for protection. The most feared thing in Araluen… is the Dark Rangers.
Rangers serve their King faithfully. They do everything in their power to protect him. Their power, though, isn't enough to protect him from the Dark Rangers. Dark Rangers are the devil's servants. Rangers feel pain and suffering, they are human. Dark Rangers feel nothing… they are dead. They are the shadows that creep along the walls, the creak in the floor boards, and the howl of a wolf. Dark Rangers are kind men and women tricked into becoming the devil's servants for one thing in return; life.
Rangers are believed to be sorcerers with their green grey cloaks. They disappear out of sight and come back with no hesitation. Dark Rangers are the best of sorcerers. They have no need for the Ranger's mystical green grey cloak; with the snap of their fingers they are invisible to everyone. Rangers wear their forest attire, different shades of green and brown. Dark Rangers wear nothing but black. Everything from their boots to their gloves is black.
Rangers have uncanny accuracy with the long bow. They practice until they never miss. Rangers are accurate enough to hit a single pebble on a beach. Dark Rangers have accuracy with the long bow that make Rangers look like amateurs. Dark Rangers are accurate enough to hit a single grain of sand behind the single pebble a Ranger can hit. Dark Rangers can hit a single grain of sand behind a mountain three miles away.
Rangers have an amazing ability to track down animals and people. They are expert forest men. Dark Rangers have the ability to track down a Ranger deep undercover. Rangers fear little. They are considered some of the bravest people in Araluen. Dark Rangers fear nothing. They feel nothing. They have no emotion.
Will Treaty lie on his death bed, wondering what lay ahead of him. He knew he was going to die, and he wondered if he would go to Heaven or even hell. His wife, Alyss, and 8-year old son Sean were kneeled beside him, both of which were crying. Halt stood behind the two fighting back tears. Horace was crouched on the other side of Will's bed, letting his tears flow.
Sean couldn't believe what was happening. His dad was going to die and there was nothing that anyone could do about it! He wasn't even sure why his dad was dying; he just knew that his dad wouldn't make it through the night. All he knew was that his dad had been riding Tug on his way home from a mission when he passed out.
Will knew what had happened, but he only wanted to tell Halt. "I-I need to speak… to H-Halt." He croaked. "A-alone," Slowly Alyss, Sean, and Horace left the room to give Halt and Will some privacy. "The… the Dark Rangers… they… they are back." Will croaked. Halt took a deep intake of breath. The Dark Rangers hadn't been seen in Araluen for over 7 years.
"Did… did one of them do this to you?" Halt asked quietly. Will nodded before swallowing. "How?" Halt continued. If the Dark Rangers were back, he needed to know what and how they were doing things this time.
"They attacked Tug… a-after that I don't remember." Will croaked. Halt's eyebrows flustered together in frustration. Dark Rangers were one of the few things that Halt feared. Dark Rangers were responsible for many deaths in the kingdom, including King Duncan's father.
Will could feel himself drifting off. He could hear his heart in his ears… slowing and quieting. He fought the urge to close his eyes. Halt noticed this action. "Don't die on me Will!" He yelled. It was too late. Will Treaty was slowly drifting off to death. He now was unconscious.
Alyss heard Halt through the muffled door. What he said would scar her for life. "Will! Will wake up! Will!" Halt continued his yells. "Dang it Will! Wake up!" Alyss couldn't handle it anymore; she burst into the room to see Will's eyes closed and Halt shaking him. "Will!" Halt was still yelling.
Sean watched as Grandpa Halt (as he called him) shook his dad and yelled his name. His mom was crying. Uncle Horace had his arm wrapped around Sean, comforting him. "Everything's going to be okay, Sean." Horace whispered in Sean's ears. Horace pulled Sean into a deep embrace, telling him not to worry.
"Will!" Alyss was now joining Halt's constant screams. Everyone couldn't hold back the tears behind their eyes. "Will! Don't die, Will!" The screams didn't stop. The prayers didn't stop. The crying didn't stop. Will Treaty's life, though, did stop.
Everything was white. The only thing that wasn't was a man dressed completely in black. Will believed him to be the devil, so he tried to keep his distance. He didn't know where he was going, but wherever he went, the man followed. "Will Treaty, I'd like to make a proposition."
Will didn't respond. The man repeated what he'd said. "Will Treaty, I'd like to make a proposition." Will thought about what he would say to the man. His voice sounded familiar and trustworthy, but Will still didn't trust him. "If you'll listen, there's a way for you to return to Earth." The man said.
Will gulped and breathed in for a moment. "What kind of proposition?"