Okay this is the last time I am redoing the prologue, I just needed to add something to it and I fixed up a few of Halt's reactions here and there
Disclaimer: I do not own Ranger's Apprentice or any of it's characters
P.S. Braltfan, if you are reading this you made my day with that name you sign your reviews as:D
Halt looked around the command tent where three of his closest friends were gathered. Crowley was seated at his desk with coffee while Gilan and Will were standing across from him. All were looking at Halt expectantly but patient. He had called the trio to the tent under the pretense that he had something important to tell them. The Ranger took a deep breath and looked at the questioning faces.
"Before I left Redmont to come to the Gathering, Pauline and I received some…news," he started. Will went to interject with a question but Halt stopped him with a look. "It seems that Pauline's going to have a kid," he said as if it were no big deal. As the words came, he couldn't help the small grin that came with them.
Crowley, who hadn't expected something like this, choked on his coffee and started coughing uncontrollably. Will looked at his mentor with wide eyes and for once he found himself speechless. Gilan, though shocked beyond words, couldn't help his wide smile. He also couldn't help the mock groan that came out of him. Halt looked at him with a raised brow.
"So now we're going to have a little Halt running around?" he moaned. Will smiled and gave a small laugh.
"So help us," the young man said. This time Crowley gave a laugh as well. Halt looked at them all questioningly.
"And what's wrong with another me?" he asked in a tone that told them not to answer. He was glad to see his voice was a bit menacing.
"Oh Halt, I don't think Araluen can survive another you. Duncan's already got a head of grey from you. Not to mention us; we've had a rough time keeping you out of trouble. You're like a loose cannon and Ranger's shouldn't be that way," Gilan, ever the daredevil, said. The trio laughed again and Halt felt it time to ruin their fun.
"Araluen needs more Rangers like me," Halt stated in a defending voice. "Especially when the Corps has dolts like you all," he said.
After a few more remarks, Will and Gilan decided it was about time to go back to their tents.
"Congratulations Halt, I'm sure you'll be a great dad," Gilan said seriously as he left. Little did he know that his words were comforting to Halt who was a bit concerned about the future prospect of raising a child.
"He's right Halt. Don't worry," said Crowley. He had heard the very slight nervousness in his friend's tone though the others hadn't. And he knew what it was for as well. "With a father like you, that kid is going to be perfectly fine," he added.
"I hope so," Halt responded. "If he ends up anything like Gilan then I'm going to have to retire sooner than I want."
Around seven months later
"Come on Halt; you're just getting in their way," Rodney said from the door to the room.
Halt looked up from his wife at the few people bustling around. To his disappointment, he saw that Rodney was right. The Ranger looked to Alyss who sat on Pauline's right. She smiled reassuringly at him.
"I'll make sure she's fine," the girl promised.
Halt shifted his gaze back to Pauline who smiled at him as well. He kissed her hand softly before rising and following Rodney out the door. Outside sitting in the corridor were Arald, Crowley and Will. Gilan had wanted to be there as well but the event couldn't have been precisely dictated and his Ranger duties had kept him away. Crowley, much to Halt's annoyance and relief, had arrived a month earlier and stayed. Now Rodney joined the tired group sitting while Halt started to pace. It seemed to take forever but , just as Halt was about ready to barge in of his own accord, Alyss came out of the room. Halt was at her side almost immediately. The young courier was smiling and he took that as a good sign.
"Is she okay?" Halt questioned, abandoning his normal unconcerned appearance.
Alyss nodded and motioned for Halt to follow. The Ranger did so, leaving his dozing friends in the hall. Inside the few helpers were standing around the bed, blocking Pauline from his view. A little rudely, Halt shoved past them so he was at his wife's side. She smiled up at him and he released a pent up breath. Something about seeing her happy dismissed his fears. She was holding a bundle in her arms and Halt could hear the small sobs.
"It's a boy," she said softly as she held the wrapped bundle up to Halt. He took it from her carefully. The crying stopped somewhat as the small child saw Halt.
Looking up at the old Ranger was a unique set of eyes. One eye was a deep brown like Halt's whereas the other was Pauline's brilliant grey. The eyes were filled with cheer and the small child's mouth curled into a smile. Halt smiled proudly back and gave an inaudible laugh as the baby grabbed his finger.
"What's his name?" Alyss asked curiously. Pauline looked to Halt who was still smiling down at the newborn.
"Conlan," he said quietly. "Conlan O'Carrick."
Five years later
"Daddy?" Conlan asked from his seat on the grass. Halt looked down from grooming Abelard. The boy was almost exactly like a young Halt in appearance with jet black hair and a small figure. Even his voice was like Halt's, only missing the slight burr of his Hibernian accent. Halt raised an eyebrow. "Do you love me?" Conlan asked.
Halt frowned. He knew it was a question that children asked at least in once in their life but he was caught a bit off guard. Halt scooped the boy up in his arms. Despite his age, Halt was still considerably strong from his life as a Ranger. Conlan giggled and struggled to get free but Halt held onto him.
"Why are you asking something like that?" Halt asked, mostly because he didn't want to respond.
"Because you never here," Conlan answered with a bit of a sad face. Halt felt uneasy at that, he didn't like seeing Conlan upset but it was true, Ranger duties took him away from his family for substantial periods.
"Yes. I love you Conlan. Don't ever forget that," Halt said in a serious tone. Conlan was perhaps the only person he knew that could get him to admit something like that. It surprised Halt how soft he was when it came to the youth.
"Really daddy?" the child persisted.
"Yes," Halt answered and jokingly held the boy upside down. It was odd for the grizzled man to be so playful and loving but that was just what a kid could do to you. Pauline smiled from nearby where she had watched the exchange. The two were about as close as they could be.
Six years later
Conlan watched as Halt rode away from the castle. Halt had only been home for around a month from his last mission and Conlan was just getting used to how things were with his father back. He was even enjoying Halt's company again. Today they were going to go out to the forest and, against Pauline's wish; Halt was going to teach him how to shoot a bow. They had been about to leave when Halt had received an urgent message and had had to leave. Conlan was still angry about it. He hated when Ranger duties got in the way and forced Halt to leave. It had happened all too often.
"He'll be back soon," Pauline said behind him. Conlan turned.
"Yea, just so he can leave again," Conlan huffed as he started back towards their apartment.
Five years later
Halt walked up behind a thirteen year old Conlan who sat on the bank of the river that ran by Wensley village. He had just come home from a visit with Will at the cabin and Pauline had told him of how Conlan had been acting odd. It had taken a while but eventually Halt had found him. Halt took a seat beside his son who gave no sign of acknowledgement. Conlan just continued to stare into the water that rushed by. Eventually Halt spoke.
"Your mother said you've been acting weird lately," he said.
"How would you know? You're never around. Always off chasing bandits or fixing up some old treaty. And if you're not doing that then you're with Will," Conlan answered acidly after a pause. Halt suddenly realized what this was about. He didn't know how to reply though.
"It's my job. I can't help it," Halt replied reasonably, choosing to ignore the comment about Will.
"Of course it is," Conlan said gruffly. Halt stayed silent. "You only came down here to see me because mom told you about me," he added.
"I came down here because I was worried about you," Halt said back.
"You didn't seem to worry before she told you," he shot back angrily.
"That's because I can't read minds." Conlan had heard enough. He stood angrily and started to walk away. "Wait," Halt said as he stood up.
"No!" Conlan shouted as he turned back. "I've waited for you to come back all my life. Just leave me alone!" he yelled and stormed off towards the village. Halt caught up with him after a few steps and spun him around.
"Watch who you're talking to," Halt snarled. "I was just trying to help."
"And how did that work out?" Conlan spat and sprinted away.
One year later
Conlan stared at the older boys laughing and having a good time underneath a nearby tree. It was market day and Halt was off on a mission. Again. Pauline had made him get out of the apartment because he had been in a grouchy mood. Deciding that it was pointless to stand there and stare at the boys, he made his way towards them. When they saw him, the laughter died and they watched as he made progress towards them.
"Well if it isn't the leprechaun," sneered one of the boys. He was tall and muscular with brown hair and green eyes. Conlan recognized him as one of the nobleman's sons. Being a nobleman's son, he had started training to be a knight a year before. Conlan stopped when he was a meter away from him. Many of the boys that mocked him had taken to calling him leprechaun because of his size and Halt's heritage. "Why aren't you running around with daddy in the shadows?" he teased. Conlan felt his easy temper rising. The other boys had gathered behind the talker and were watching with interest. A few were farmer's kids and they looked uneasy.
"He's not here," Conlan replied curtly. He was starting to regret coming over to the group.
"Oh, he left did he? Didn't want to be around you?" he teased. Conlan tensed and one of the boys stepped forward.
"Stop it Jason. He could lock us all up in a tree and nobody would know," the boy said quietly. He was a farmer's child and his father had been sure to impress upon him that he was to stay away from Conlan. Jason laughed.
"You don't honestly believe that? He's a little leprechaun. There's no such thing as magic," he scoffed. The other boy stepped back into the group. "So why'd he leave huh?"
"He had to go chasing off some bandits," Conlan replied angrily.
"Is he gonna lock the baddies up in a tree?" Jason asked sarcastically and burst out in laughter. Several of the other boys followed suit. Conlan turned around angrily and stormed off.
One week later
Conlan sat in one of the chairs by the fire and stared into the flame. Halt was supposed to get back at any moment. Earlier in the day they had received a letter from Halt saying he was about half a day north of Redmont. Now it was almost midnight and Conlan was debating going to bed. He stood up and as he did so he heard the door open behind him. The teen turned around and saw Halt drop his packs by the door and hang his bow and cloak on a hook. Conlan gave a small smile despite himself. Over the year, things had been tense and easy between them. Halt looked exhausted as Conlan approached him.
"Welcome home," he said cheerfully. Halt grunted in reply and Conlan felt his smile fade. "How was the mission?"
"Fine," Halt said as he removed his boots. He was spent after a day in the saddle and all he really wanted now was to go to sleep. Through his drowsiness, he didn't see Conlan's disappointed look. "I'm going to bed, see you in the morning." With that, Halt ruffled Conlan's hair and made his way to his shared room. Conlan watched angrily as the door to his parent's room closed.
Halt had forgotten it was his birthday.
One year later
"Aim higher so you allow for the drop," Halt instructed as he watched a fifteen year old Conlan shooting at a target set fifty meters away. His tone was lacking of emotion as had become the custom when he spoke to his son. Over the year Conlan had increasingly separated himself from Halt. Pauline had reassured the old Ranger that it was just a phase brought on by the teenage years but something inside Halt doubted that. Something else was going on.
Conlan felt his anger on the rise but took a deep breath and did as Halt had said. The arrow landed a hand's span beneath the bullseye. Conlan angrily threw the bow to the ground and ripped the quiver off his back so it joined the bow. Halt had taken him for an apprentice almost half a year ago and he hadn't been making any progress. Mostly due to the fact that he wasn't all that eager to learn and he held a grudge against his father. Halt watched calmly.
"Pick it up and try again," Halt said. Conlan turned to him angrily.
"No! I'm done with this!" he shouted. Halt kept his calm face on though he felt agitated. He had no clue what had happened between them.
"Pick it up. If you're going to be any sort of Ranger then you need to practice," Halt ordered, barely keeping his voice calm.
"No! I'm sick of this!" Conlan roared. He was fed up with being Halt's son. Everybody expected him to become a Ranger. And not just any Ranger but the best when the reality was that he didn't even want to be a Ranger. Not only that, but he was tired of Halt not being around all the time and of how the apprentice knights treated him. Or of how any kid treated him really. All of the village and farm kids were too scared to talk to him because they believed the black sorcery rumors that surrounded the Rangers and the knights mocked him for his size. And he blamed it all on Halt. To say the least, he was ready to give up. "I don't want to be a damn Ranger, I don't want to be like Will or Gilan and I don't want to be your son!" he exploded. Halt raised an eyebrow at the outburst, Conlan had said many things before but never had he said he didn't want to be Halt's son. The grizzled man was surprised to find that his words hurt him a bit. Conlan ripped his cloak off and threw it at Halt's feet as he stormed towards his horse, Breaker.
Halt had learned from experience to let Conlan cool off at times like these. So instead of chasing after him, Halt simply watched as his son galloped towards the castle. Little did he know that that was one of the biggest mistakes he ever made.
Halt raced through the forest, the pouring rain beating against him and his vision blurred. He had arrived home an hour or so before dark only to find that Conlan had taken his personal items and left. Halt had raced out to Abelard and quickly mounted. Promptly, he had taken off into the forest where the guards had seen Conlan heading. Now it was almost midnight, pouring rain and thundering. Breaker's tracks were basically gone from the downpour but Halt persisted on, searching for anything. In his head Halt had convinced himself that he could find his son but in his heart he knew it was just fancy thinking. And so went the night. A father searching for a son he knew he'd lost.
Two months later
Halt looked at the grave before him. Will was in that grave. Only one month ago he'd gone on a mission to Skandia and a few days ago he'd returned like this. Posing as a Skirl on the ship, an assassin had slipped the young Ranger a poison in his food. Halt didn't know the specifics of who had sent the assassin and why. He was too disturbed to really care at the moment. In the end it all added up to the same thing. The fact that Will was gone and never coming back. After losing Conlan, Halt had fallen into a gloom. He'd only recently been dragged out of it only to be rewarded with this news that Will was gone. The Ranger, not able to stay there anymore, walked out of the graveyard and to a local tavern. He knew it wasn't the best solution, in fact he hated drunks but he couldn't come to any other conclusions. He didn't want to remember this. He didn't want to remember that not only was Conlan gone but so was Will. He ordered his whiskey and sat in a corner of the bar and drank the night away. It was just the first time of many.
Okay, so that is the real prologue and I will not be changing it again. What happened was I had like three prologues on the other one and I couldn't delete one because it messed it up and everything...so yea...please review