Halt's Revenge

This is my first time writing a fanfic so if something doesn't quite make sense, let me know! :) What would have happened if Will had died? How would have Halt responded to it? What about Horace? Alyss? Evanlyn? Let's find out together in Halt's Revenge! [Characters are under property of John Flanagan. All characters used are his.]

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Author's note

This takes place near the end of Battle for Skandia/Oakleaf Bearers. It talks about what would have happened if Will had died during the battle. This has been a story that I've been wanting to write for quite a while but I've never known how exactly I wanted to write it. So I hope you enjoy this!
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5. Chapter 5

"And then he just disappeared." Gilan said.

"He...what?" Crowley asked.

"Simply disappeared. He left on Abelard and I tried to track him but totally lost the trail half a kilometer from the cabin. He doesn't want anyone following him, apparently." They were at the Gathering but Halt hadn't appeared. Crowley questioned Gilan to where he was and Gilan had asked him aside. The two were now sitting around a small fire, coffee brewing as always.

This was so unlike Halt. He wouldn't just...run away from something. He always stood up to it and learned to live with it. Still, his apprentice had died but running away wouldn't fix anything.

"Do you know why he left?"

"Not a clue." Crowley's head was reeling. He had so many questions that he wanted to ask but knew the Gilan wouldn't have a clue.

Crowley was about to ask Gilan something when Andrew, Ranger over the Aspienne Fief, came running to Crowley's side.

"Crowley!" he said, out of breath. "You have to...come see this!"

* * *

The night before

Horace was lying on his back, staring at the ceiling; his mind was restless. Will's death wasn't the issue; it was Halt's sudden disappearance and no trace of where he had gone. Horace was worried. He was worried that Halt was in trouble and no one was there to help him. Horace tried to push the thoughts out of his mind and go to sleep but to no avail. He tossed and turned, worrying, and yet despite his attempts to go to sleep, sleep wasn't there. Finally, at around two in the morning, Horace gave up the idea of sleep and decided to go for a walk. He walked onto the road that lead toward the woods. Once there, he began to let his mind wander, let it think about whatever it wanted. It didn't take long before his mind began to wander right back to the problem he was trying to avoid: Halt's disappearance. Which let right back to the thought of Will's death. Horace let his anger get the better of him right then.

"That SCUMBAG!" He yelled, kicking at a rock beside the path he was walking on. The rock bounded off the path and into a bush, startling an animal inside of it. The animal scampered off into the woods. Suddenly, Horace had an idea. What if he just went off and tried to find Halt?

"Yes, great idea." He thought. He ran back to the stables toward Kicker. Kicker nickered a greeting to him and Horace retrieved his saddle. He hastily threw it onto Kicker's back, cinching the straps. He hauled himself into the saddle and took off on the road, heading toward the forest.

* * *

The next evening

Jenny stepped back again as the bacon grease spattered again. Chubb's was gone for the night and Jenny was left here to attend to the late-night patron's. There were a few still left in the room; two older men in a far corner, a middle-aged man at the bar, an eighteen-year-old at a side table, and a lively conversation at a table closer to the counter. There were about seven men there talking. Jenny pulled the bacon strips off and set them aside on a plate. That was the last order of the night. She put the plate on the counter for the man. He thanked her and moved to a table. Jenny wiped her hands and moved to the other side of the counter to eavesdrop on the conversation, which had grown to include more people, about thirteen now. Everyone was talking when they could. There were so many different questions that if you wanted to voice it, you jumped in at any opportunity. Right now, it was between three men with the rest listening with great intent.

"I don't know, it's like he's just...gone. But that's a typical Ranger for you."

"Yeah, but what about his apprentice? Did he go with him?"

"They usually do." Jenny said. She moved to the table, grabbed a chair and slid up.

"Yeah, but when a Ranger leaves, don't they usually leave another in charge? I mean, it's just unusual. But the Rangers are an unusual people."

"That's true."

"Alright, you said something about an apprentice." That was directed to Jenny.

"No, I just said that apprentice's usually go with their mentors."

"Oh, alright."

Jenny stood and went back into the kitchen. They were talking about Halt's disappearance. But they didn't know about Will's death. The only people that knew was her, Gilan, Halt, George, Horace, Evanlyn and King Duncan. She decided she would go and visit Gilan tomorrow. But there was no need for her to plan the visit.

Just then, Gilan burst through the door. "Where's Horace?" He yelled at her. She was taken by surprise.

"I...I don't know. I haven't seen him all day."

"Come with me!" Gilan said, grabbing her by the arm. They ran out of the bar and into the square where two other Rangers were waiting on their horses. Gilan's horse was standing next to them.

"We have the rest of the Rangers Corp out in the woods." Gilan explained. "Climb up."

Without any questions, Jenny mounted Blaze. She had ridden Blaze many times before so he didn't mind her climbing on his back without a password. Gilan mounted as well and Jenny wrapped her arms around Gilan's stomach. The four of them took off out of the village and out toward the woods.

* * *

Alyss was in Lady Pauline's office. It was a comfortable office, with high ceilings and big, stained-glass windows.

"Do you accept this mission?" Lady Pauline asked.

"Yes." Alyss replied immediately. She was more-than-ready to get out of this castle. Being confined to her room the previous week had almost driven her to insanity. She had been confined because she had punched a servant after accidentally scaring her. She'd knocked him unconscious before she realized what she had done. Unfortunately, of all people, Lady Pauline rounded the corner that instant and saw the servant on the floor with Alyss standing above him. Without any questions and ignoring all protests, she had sent Alyss to her room and had guards confine her there. Alyss was brought meals, water and allowed to leave only to use the restroom.

Now that her confinement was over, Lady Pauline had an assignment for her: a message for Baron Tyler in Drayden Fief. The message was from Lady Pauline herself and she was requesting his presence at her office in two weeks to discuss some troubles that had been popping up in his fief. Lady Pauline thought it would be good for Alyss to deliver the message after being confined."Well, then you must be on your way." Lady Pauline said with a smile. Alyss jumped to her feet and flew out of the door. Three minutes later, she was out in the stables saddling her horse. Ten minutes after that, she'd secured all the saddle straps and she was out of the castle yard.

It felt so nice to be free, to be riding again, breath in the nice cool air again. She rode for about four hours until finally the sun set behind the mountains that loomed behind her. She set up her tent and built a fire just as the last bit of sunlight faded away. That night, she slept fitfully, just excited to out of the castle after that long week. The next day, she packed up camp and headed out again.

After a long day of riding, she finally reached Drayden Fief with less than an hour of sunlight left. She delivered the message then went to the local inn to see if she could hear anything about Halt. After listening for over three hours and finding nothing, she returned to the castle where the Baron had assigned her a room for the night. Again, she slept fitfully, thinking about where Halt could be and what he could be doing.

Finally, at about three in the morning, she got out of bed and headed down to the stalls where her horse was. She passed no guards as she walked down the halls and toward the stalls. She saddled her horse and trotted to the gate. The guards looked down, lowered the gate and after she had left the drawbridge, raised the gate back up again. Alyss took off down the road. She hit a fork in the road, made a split-second decision, and headed down the left fork.

Little did she know that Halt was down the right fork about three kilometers.

* * *

Abelard twitched his ears and snorted softly. He'd sensed something. Halt paused and stood completely still. Very faintly, invisible to untrained ears, was the sound of hoof beats. They stood in their position for about five minutes as both detected the intensity of the hoof beats decrease. Satisfied, Abelard nodded and Halt continued onward. He was currently leading Abelard, allowing him to rest from Halt's weight bearing down on his back.

Halt was pleasantly surprised and relieved that nobody had tried to come and find him yet. He was relieved because he didn't want anybody to be following him around, asking a thousand questions every hour like Will did. It would pain him too much to deal with that. But that wasn't the only reason he had disappeared. The actual reason behind his outburst and sudden disappearance was that he'd thought of something that he hadn't thought of before.

Lost in thought, Halt stared off into space. 'Who could have done that?' he questioned. 'Who, in their right mind, would just poison and kill an innocent kid like Will?' Then he had a thought: who was in contact with Will after he was shot by the arrow? Both Halt and Horace had been there, but neither of them could have done it. But wasn't there a healer there with them? Halt eyes widened in realization then turned to anger as he realized that Thomas, the healer, had been the one to poison Will.

The rest was history. Now here, three kilometers east of Drayden Fief, Halt was headed to the sea. He knew that the Skandia's were still at the shore until tomorrow morning when they sailed back to Skandia. He'd ride aboard with them, something he was not looking forward to, and bring Abelard with him. After all, Abelard was all he had right then. Continuing the Ranger tradition of riding their horse, then walking it, Halt continued his way east.

Two hours later, Halt caught sight of the Skandian ship. As he approached, the sound of snoring got louder. Halt shook his head. Couldn't be quiet even if they wanted to. Abelard shook his head in agreement. With one swift motion, Halt drew an arrow, aimed, and shot. The arrow streaked through the air and landed with a satisfyingly loud TWANG. Erak sat up suddenly and stood up. Not gracefully, mind you. His clambering woke up three others, who woke up four more, and so on until the entire camp was on its feet. By the time everyone was on their feet, Halt was in the middle of the circle.

"Halt!" Erak shouted. "Your blasted arrow could have killed me!"

"But did it?" Halt asked, eyebrow raised.

"Did it what?" Erak asked, confusion obvious in his voice.

"Did it kill you?" Halt asked, eyebrow raised again. Erak thought about it.

"No, but it came this close." he said, putting his gigantic fingers about two centimeters apart. Halt scoffed.

"Oh, you big baby. Remember, I never miss."

"Except when you missed that guy." Halt frowned.

"My arrow went exactly when I aimed it. The guy just moved out of the way. Like I said, I never miss."

"I'm sure of it." Erak said, sarcastically. "So what brings you here? In the middle of the night?"

"Well, I was hoping I could just hitch a ride with you back to Skandia." Erak paused. Then he thought about it for a few seconds.

"Why?" he questioned.

Halt explained what he'd thought and found out.

"Well, we'd better get you going!" Erak exclaimed. "Gundar! Prepare the ship! We leave at dawn!"

Halt heard it before he saw it. The faint twang of a longbow being released to Halt's right. He turned his head to look in the direction of the sound. A streaking arrow came through the tree, sticking Halt in his left thigh. He screamed in pain and fell, the arrow protruding out of his leg.

"Halt!" Erak yelled, running next to his friend. He had no idea what to do. He'd never been trained in first aid. Halt reached a hand up to Erak, drawing his attention back.

"Get...healer...find...killer" Halt said before he spiraled into blackness.

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