Disclaimer: I do not own Ranger's Apprentice or any of its characters
Okay so here is the final chapter I believe, I would like to thank all of the reviewers, followers, favoriters, and just random readers for reading this and all, you are epic:D Sorry for my abscence, I went to a friend's house. My bad, seven people voted 1 and nine 2 so not EVERYBODY :D
Crowley stood in front of a headstone. But it wasn't any headstone; it was that of his friend, his comrade and above all else his brother. The commandant was completely still. Halt's funeral had ended about an hour ago. Will and Gilan had stayed for a while but they couldn't handle it. It was too much for everybody. Pauline had wanted to stay as well but had been coaxed into leaving by Rodney and Arald when it was obvious that she couldn't handle it either. Crowley wouldn't soon forget the tears that spilled down the face of one of the most honored diplomats in all of Araluen. And it was because of him. Crowley hadn't moved a muscle since the end of the service. He couldn't bring himself to. The sun was beginning to leave and shadows dotted the Ranger's Clearing. It was a special spot in the forest that was reserved for the burials of Rangers. Crowley felt tears well up and spill down but he didn't move to stop them. Clenching his fists, he sat down by the stone and continued to stare at it. Ever since it had happened, Crowley had tried to deny it. Trying to pass it off as a dream, saying to himself that Halt would show up as soon as some mission was done. But the gravestone seemed to make the unbelievable a harsh reality.
At the top of the stone was an oakleaf, the Ranger's symbol. Crowley trailed his fingers over Halt's engraved name and his dates of birth and death. He stopped when he got to the inscription. It read:
A Ranger, a husband, a father, a friend.
May your aim stay true and your heart strong.
It was simple as most of the Ranger's inscriptions were but it held much meaning to those close to Halt. Though in Crowley's troubled mind it didn't even begin to cover what Halt was to him. Crowley removed his hand and reached into his pocket and pulled out a chain with an oakleaf on it. Halt's name was on the back. Crowley had kept the chain and as they were searching the corpses of the dead assassins he had found it in one of their pockets. It was made of metal and Crowley supposed the brigand thought he'd get a fair price for it. The commandant had brought it back to Araluen and had the chain repaired. Now he dug his hand into the soft dirt that had just been placed an hour before. When he deemed the hole deep enough, he dropped the necklace in and covered it up.
"There Halt, it's the least I can do for you," Crowley whispered and resumed his staring. "You don't know how sorry I am," he added and his voice cracked. He looked back to the inscription and read it over and over again, there was something missing. Slowly Crowley drew his saxe and brought it to the stone. At the end of the list of Ranger, husband, father and friend, Crowley began to add. The sharp saxe knife cut into the stone fairly easy and he finished what it said by the time the sun no longer remained in the sky. "I don't know what I'm going to do without you," Crowley said and stood up, it was time to go, the drawbridge to the castle may already be up but he didn't care. He wouldn't be falling asleep anyways; he'd just be plagued by nightmares. No, he didn't even want to go to the castle. He needed to leave. Perhaps for a short while but maybe a long while. He just couldn't stay in Araluen now. Not with this weighing him down. Almost all over the country there was something to remind him of Halt and he couldn't be around any of that now. Outside the country were things as well but not as bad.
The commandant took one last look at the stone before turning his back and walking out of the graveyard to a horse that stood ready to leave with its saddlebags packed. Crowley mounted and tapped Cropper's sides and they started off. Not in the direction of the castle but in the direction of the far off coast. Every step away got harder and harder but Crowley kept on. By the time the sun had risen the next morning there was no sign of the Ranger. They would check the graveyard first, he knew they would. And when they got there they wouldn't see the old inscription. They'd see a stone that now read:
A Ranger, a husband, a father, a friend and above all, a brother.
So not that good of an ending...anyways, please review, I'd love to hear your thoughts on how this went and all.
For those who are going to read/already started Ruined Relations, I might be a few days or so in starting that so just bear with me all right?
Oh and I will be doing an alternate ending so keep your eyes open for that
Have a nice life and remember the snuggies are always watching