Ranger Radio and the Path of Life

A/N I noticed that randomly sprinkled throughout this chap was "can I uh, ask you something?" a copy-paste frm 44 that somehow ended up everywhere. Sometimes the DocX thing does that...srry. Also, I changed the ending of 42.

41. Teamwork

A Ranger and coffee. Coffee and Ranger. We make a great team.

Ranger Gilan, resident Halt-annoyer, at your service. Today , we will be discussing the amazing bond between a Ranger and his coffee:

Without it, a Ranger isn't alert, and that's bad. Without a Ranger, coffee has no honorable purpose in life, and that's bad too. We Rangers have drunk coffee ever since the corps were founded over 150 years ago, and each mentor is careful to pass on this vital tradition to their apprentices, and he always regretted it the next morning when said apprentice drank EVERY. LAST. DROP. Believe me, I speak from experience: mentors get desperate when you drink their coffee.

Now, suppose, for whatever reason, that a Ranger is deprived of his beloved companion. That is a miserable day for the Ranger. Bleariness, glaring, cursing, and other drunk behaviors are common side-effects. Don't be drunk. Drink your coffee.

All Rangers know how important teamwork is, and the astonishing bond between Ranger and coffee is truly beautiful to behold. This is definitely a lesson to remember, for all you apprentices out there.

Thank you for tuning in to Ranger Radio, the official radio station of the Ranger Corps in Araluen. Tune in next time for an exclusive interview from Ranger Halt on why apprentices are the bane of the earth. Ranger Gilan, signing off.

42. Standing Still

Will stood, transfixed by stage fright, just inside the massive doors to the Baron's audience hall.
-The Ruins of Gorlan, ch.32 pg.237

All of the ladies and lords, arrayed in their finest, stood between him and the Baron. Time itself stood still, waiting anxiously, with bated breath, for him, apprentice Will, to take the first step. The space between him and Baron Arald seemed to gape impassibly before him, representing the journey he had taken to arrive at this moment. Everything he had done to become the apprentice he was now, and the fight for not only Halt's life, but those of Baron Arald and Sir Rodney, merited him to be standing there, awaiting whatever would unfold.

He felt a shove propel him forward, and he stumbled to a stop in protest, looking behind him pleadingly.

"Get on with it," Halt said unsympathetically.

Turning forward again, Will was yet immobile, blankly facing the countless pairs of eyes that bored into him. His life ever since he became apprenticed to Halt seemed to dance across his mind's eye like so many gilded courtiers at a fancy ball. A flash of color caught his eye, snapping him back to the present as time resumed. Jenny, unperturbed by the officious atmosphere, fluttered a bright yellow kerchief at him; beside her, Alyss quietly kissed her fingertips to him, smiling encouragement.

The bright light flooding from the windows set high up on the massive walls crowded in on him, exposing him to view without the cloak that had become a very part of him in the past few months.

"Get a move on," growled Halt, shoving him again.

"Aren't you coming with me?"

"Not invited. Now get going!"

Will wondered what would change after this. Would life really go on as normal after he made one last journey down that hall, would he still be Will the orphan, Will-nobody? No, that Will was long gone.

He took the first step.

43. Dying

"I think my father would be glad I chose the way I did," Will said, slipping the bronze oak leaf on its chain over his head. Halt merely nodded once, then turned away and went inside the cottage, leaving his apprentice to his thoughts.
-Ruins of Gorlan, pg.249

As the dead leaves slowly dropped off their trees and fell to the ground, Will felt his long-standing dream die and fall with them. Somehow, although he realized that the truth was so much greater than his daydream, so amazing and life-changing, he felt a small part of him die with that dream.

He was truly glad with his decision, and would chose the same again if he had to, but the dream of battleschool had sustained him through long years of not knowing who he was or who he was supposed to be, willing him to honor his father's memory and become a great knight. Gladly, knowing the truth and knowing that he was paying his father the best homage possible by becoming apprenticed to the man he'd died to save, Will let go of his dying dream, finally feeling at peace.

44. Two Roads

Crowley had a secret. An essential secret, because it was one of the main reasons why he finally decided to become a Ranger instead of inheriting his father's fief.

Crowley had horrible stage freight.
Whenever he was faced with standing up and speaking his mind, he froze up and couldn't speak a word. That's why when faced with two choices, to stay at the castle and inherit the Baronship, or to abdicate it to his younger brother and apprentice himself to Pritchard, he knew that he wouldn't be able to handle an office that required public scrutiny and appearance; he simply wasn't cut out for the job. Nonetheless, Crowley at age seventeen couldn't let go of the idea of being a Baron. All his life he'd grown up raised on the ideals of court, believing that being a Baron was the greatest achievement he could aspire to. To hold that office, be the object of admiration, and respect to all the people of the fief, and to hold in his trust their well-beings, to let go of that was hard.

One night, as he lay awake thinking about his two paths, Crowley sat up and dressed, making his way down the dark passages to his father's study. Light filtered under the door, so he knew his father was still up. He knocked tentatively, and entered when a strong voice commended imperiously.

"Enter."

Obeying, he closed the heavy door behind him, taking a moment to adjust to the brightly lit room. Seated behind the massive oaken desk, Baron Markus sat, poring over legal papers. Markus was a powerful looking man, broad of girth and fitter than most Barons of his forty-two years. The exact opposite of his father, Crowley was a slightly built youth, without much muscle to speak of. Soft spoken and timid, he was a constant puzzle to Markus, who couldn't imagine how he'd fathered such a son. But, he still stood by Crowley's decisions, knowing that he couldn't force his son into an occupation he wasn't capable of serving.

"Uh, dad? Can I, uh, talk to you?" said Crowley. "It's alright if you're too busy…" he added quickly.

"Sit down," said Markus, gesturing to a huge chair and stacking his papers preliminary to setting the aside to view his son scooting awkwardly into the chair, his legs sticking out beyond the edge. Crowley stared at the desk, unable to find the words he was looking for.

"Well, go ahead son," prompted Markus.

"Well, I can't…I don't know what to do about this decision. I…I want to be Baron, but I don't think I'm equipped for the role. I can't fill the office of Baron, I don't even look like a Baron. But, I don't know if I qualify as a Ranger either…" he trailed off uncertainly.

"Master Pritchard already said he would accept you as an apprentice. Do you doubt his judgment?"

"N-no, not exactly…But I'm not very strong dad. I just want to do something, commit everything to it, and be able to do it well."

"Whether or not you can do that is up to you alone Crowley. This choice is yours to make, and no one else can make it for you."

"What do you mean by whether or not I can do it being up to me? How can I be sure I choose the right path?"

"Crowley," Markus leaned forward seriously and looked Crowley straight in the eye, forcing his uncertain son to face him squarely. "Whichever road you choose to take, it won't matter a straw if you doubt constantly. Only you can decide to commit, only you can determine what you are capable of, and that won't be worth anything if you make a choice based soley on what you want. You must choose what is right."

"How do I know what is right?" said Crowley, finding a sudden need to whisper.

"Listen carefully, because this is the most important thing for you to remember, no matter which you decide on: your office is to serve the people of this country. A Ranger and a Baron serve in very different ways, but your highest interest is the people. If you don't think you are capable of being Baron, how many people are going to be better served by you messing up?"

"N-not many."

"Exactly. Now think about that, and tell me your decision tomorrow. It's time for you to begin you training, you are well old enough for either job. Goodnight Crowley," finished Markus, shaking hands with his son.

"Thanks dad, I will, goodnight sir."


The following evening, Crowley returned to Markus's office, entered as before, and stood infront of the desk resolutely.

"Dad, I'm going to be a Ranger."

45. Illusion

Dang! Where did that sneaky hound get to?

Crowley roamed around suspiciously, looking under wooden boxes of toys, under the bed, behind the curtain, and behind the door.

"I know you're here somewhere Growley, don't think you can hide from me! I know you're the one who stole my cake you gobbler!"

Despite his searching, the mysterious hound was no-where to be found. Remembering that he'd taken Growley hunting earlier that afternoon to hunt monsters and goblins and cows, Crowley snuck out the front door as his unsuspecting mother prepared dinner. Rushing into the woods, Crowley searched around for tracks.

"Ah ha! This is where we encountered the terrible crikey-dill, I know he's not far off. Growley! Cone on out!" he charged off after the tracks of a fat badger.

He searched high and low, shimmying up small trees to see whether or not her left the flop eared creature up in one, and turning over mossy logs. All to no avail. Just as he was giving up hope and wondering when his mummy would rescue him from the gathering shadows, Crowley spotted the corner of his brown cape poking out from behind a tree. He rushed around the tree to find the culprit-puppy staring smugly at him, one button eye covered by a fold of the cape. It was covered in leaves that had been stuck to it with honey.

"No wonder I couldn't find you, you were wearing the magic Ranger cape!"

Woof! Crowley, you didn't do a very good job of making a Ranger cape. But you still couldn't find me. Grrroof! He laughed doggily.

"No fair Growley! You took my cake! How can you be so mean."

I didn't eat your cake, you left me out here to fight off the angry crikey-dills and purple cows!

"That's right!" said Crowley, "I threw my cake at the crikey-dill, and forgot to take you with me when I escaped! Hurry, we better get home before they come back."

Crowley picked up the hound, cape and all, and ran home before the night set in and he was left in the dark, leaving behind him his game of illusions.

A/N I know I wrote Crowley in two different settings, but the book never says how he grew up, so this is creative licence.;) Enjoy your chap, and plz read and review. As always, let me know which was your fave!:3