AN: This is a really short chapter, and I'm so sorry for that. But I haven't updated in a while, so I might as well just put this up.
Also, I'm introducing a new character :) Hopefully you'll like him. And Ranger Camen is making another appearance in this chapter :D
Disclaimer: John Flanagan, I am not.
Seth saw the cottage at the top of the small hill. Thane headed in that direction with a gentle tap from his master's foot.
As Seth rode closer to the cottage, she could make out two horses in the pen. One of them, she could see, was bigger than the other, but both were relatively small compared to the battle horses ridden by the kingdom's knights.
Thane nickered to the two mares and after a moment of silence, they tossed their heads in acknowledgement.
Seth climbed down from the saddle, not bothering to tether Thane, knowing that he wouldn't go anywhere, and walked up to the small porch and knocked.
She waited a few seconds and soon the door opened. Standing there was a handsome young man of eighteen, a head taller than Seth with dark brown hair and shocking blue eyes.
This young man's name was Alexander. Seth knew him from her first gathering when she had been assessed by Merron and Camen. Alexander was Camen's apprentice. He had been a third-year apprentice then. At the moment he was nearing his fifth and last year of apprenticeship.
He had been really nice to her and welcomed her openly in the Ranger Corps and spent their days during the Gathering together. Alexander was always glad to give her tips and help her with her double knife training.
It had been a while since Seth had last seen him and smiled warmly at his shocked expression.
Alexander, in return, was confused. Happy, but confused as to why Seth was suddenly in Aspienne fief which was days away from Redmont. He saw her smile at him and felt his heart beat faster.
He had become enthralled with Seth's beauty and became even more bewitched by her personality. Even though she couldn't speak, whenever she signed, he felt as if she was speaking in volumes; her eyes holding a fiery passion for whatever it was that she discussed. He admired Seth in many ways: she had been the first female to be accepted into the ranks of the Ranger Corps; was mute, but she found a way to communicate with others which ended up benefiting the Rangers. He had also learned of her hardships of getting into the Ranger Corps and knew that she had a lot to live up to.
"Alex? Who's at the door," said a voice from within the cottage.
Alexander quickly turned to his mentor and friend, "It's…it's Seth…Seth's here."
Camen appeared behind Alexander and rapped the boy on the head, "Well don't just leave her standing there! Invite her in!"
The young apprentice rubbed his head and shyly turned toward Seth, "S-sorry Seth. Come on in."
She silently laughed and walked inside the cottage. Once she was inside she noticed that it was very similar to Halt's cottage. Some of the only differences that she could see, was the placement of the furniture.
"I didn't think Halt would be sending you along," Camen said as Seth turned toward him. "And I didn't expect to see you here so soon."
She smiled and signed: A change of plans.
The older Ranger nodded, "I had the impression that you were to go with Gilan as messengers to King Swyddned."
A sharp throb ran through Seth's head. She clutched it suddenly as Camen and Alexander looked at her in worry.
"Seth, are you okay?" Alexander asked.
She smiled shyly and nodded. It's okay. Just a headache.
Camen looked like he didn't believe her but dropped the subject, "Do you have the dispatch?"
She nodded, grateful to him that he wasn't questioning her, and handed over the scroll.
After reading it through, Camen closed it and walked toward what Seth believed was his room and called out to her, "Wait there while I write back to Halt. Alex, serve her some coffee."
Camen then shut the door and the two young apprentices were left alone. Alexander quickly set off to make her some coffee, "Go ahead and sit if you want, Seth."
She nodded and sat at the kitchen table. After a while, Alexander came over with two mugs of coffee and handed one to Seth. She nodded her head in thanks and drank deeply, smacking her lips at the rich taste.
Alexander grinned at the action, "It's good, isn't it?"
She nodded her head rapidly and set the mug on the table.
How have you been lately, Alex?
Alexander could feel heat rise to his cheeks and quickly looked down so that Seth wouldn't see, "I've been well. There's nothing much left to learn, so I've been practicing…a lot of practice."
She smiled warmly. Alexander looked up once his heart settled, "What about you Seth? You're about to start your third year of training. Halt must be working you pretty hard."
So-so. I was sick recently, so I haven't had any training.
"Is that why you couldn't go with Gilan?"
"But you wanted to go, didn't you?"
He laughed, "I thought so."
Seth took another sip of her coffee then signed. After another moment in silence, Alexander asked hesitantly, "How's your memory coming along? Have you remembered anything?"
Seth shook her head sadly.
No, but there have been some situations where things seem familiar to me.
I...I haven't spoken about this to anyone, not even Halt.
Alexander nodded, "Then you don't need to tell me, if you don't want to."
Seth shook her head. No, it's something that I shouldn't keep to myself and you might be able to help me make sense of some of the things I've seen and heard.
Alexander felt a wave of smugness wash over him, thrilled to learn that he would be the first person Seth would reveal something important to.
I'm sure you've heard about our run-in with the boars?
The male apprentice nodded, remembering being told what Seth had done to save Will's life.
The first boar, continued Seth, was killed by a knight. The boar had run straight into the spearhead. Its blood was dripping onto the ground, and for some reason, it was familiar sight.
Alexander rubbed his chin thoughtfully, "Maybe you had an accident before you lost your memory. Most likely that you cut yourself."
Seth nodded, the explanation was certainly plausible, but it didn't ring any bells. In any case, she continued.
And I've been getting headaches.
This perked the other apprentices' interest, "So when you said you had a headache…"
"What triggered it?"
I'm guessing that certain names trigger my headaches.
In this case, I believe it was the name Swyddned.
Alexander's brows furrowed. "Just one isn't enough to go on, are there any others?"
She was about to sign when the door to Camen's room opened. He looked at the two apprentices and nodded, "Having a nice chat?"
Seth smiled while Alexander nodded.
He walked over to Seth and handed her a letter, "My response to Halt. From what I read on a side note, you have other deliveries to make?"
She took the letter and nodded.
Camen looked over to Alexander, "Alex, accompany Seth, half of the way, please."
Alexander stood at attention, trying not to jump in excitement at the prospect of spending more time with his object of affection, "Sure thing, Camen."
The older Ranger eyed him knowingly then turned back to Seth, "I'm also sending him with you to make sure the letter gets to the other messenger. Not that I don't trust you Seth, but just as a precaution, should the letter go astray."
Her smile widened and nodded. In these times, there were always those who used the excuse of war to cause harm to others, and messing with the mail would have been at the top of the list of "causing harm."
Alexander moved toward his room to get ready while Camen accompanied Seth outside.
AN: Once again, I'm sorry that it's so short, and I'm sorry that I didn't update sooner :(
I hope all of you had an awesome Thanksgiving week and hopefully all of you were grateful for the things in your life, whether they be good or bad. I just want to say that I'm immensely grateful to all of you that take their time to read this fanfic and especially those of you who review. All of you make my day with your reviews :D
I also want to say welcome to Memmola! I'm very glad to have you with me and I'm so happy to see that you enjoyed the last book. I hope you'll stick with me in the long run!
Review please, lovely people~ Constructive criticism is most welcome! Ideas for future chapters? Put'em in the review, I'm open to ideas and speculations!
May all of you have a fantastic day! Much love~