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.]


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!

3. Chapter 3

Two weeks later

The arrow was flying low. Will knew that before the arrow hit the ground. The arrow struck the ground two-and-a-half meters in front of the haybale. Tug snorted. That’s not how you aim. Will snorted in return, humorless. Tug shrugged and went back to nibbling on some grass. Will sighed. Seven out of ten arrows had hit the target. It was his first day back on the shooting range. The last two weeks had been horrible for Will. After Will woke back up, Halt took him back to Araluen as the Skandian's were now safe from the Temujai. The Temujai had retreated, leaving the Skandian's as the 'winner' of the battle. As soon as the legal side of things were mostly taken care of, Halt had Erak take him, Will, Horace, Evanlyn, and Alyss back to Araluen as fast as possible.

There really wasn't any reason for Halt to go back so fast other than the fact that Halt had had enough of Skandia. They were greeted with a warm welcome and Halt's banishment was lifted by King Duncan and Halt returned to Castle Redmont. Will, Horace, Evanlyn and Alyss were also in tow, Halt and Horace carrying Will when the other got tired. The first thing that happened when Will got back, was Halt ordered Will to stay in bed. As a Ranger, this was extremely boring for Will. He tried to simple things every day but Halt insisted that he rest. And that's where he'd been since then. Earlier that morning, Will managed to convince Halt that he could at least go and shoot his bow. Halt agreed but on one condition: he went back to bed afterwards. Will agreed, happy that he could finally get out of bed, even if it was just for an hour.

Will could almost hear Halt's disapproval of the terrible outcome. But he had tried with speed that time. He still had that, his natural sense of aiming was not quite there. But that was to be expected. Will went and retrieved the arrows for more practice. Halt sat on the porch, watching silently and drinking the ever-present coffee. He knew that Will was hard on himself; these last two weeks had shown that. He could tell that when Will walked, he had a limp in his right leg. It wasn't anything major but still noticeable.

He'll get rid of that. He's stubborn enough. Halt thought. And it was true. Over the next few days, Halt let Will get out of bed for one hour to practice. Will, anytime he could, worked on getting his limp to go away. His instinctive aim was also coming back, though not quite all the way there yet. Will still missed three for every thirty arrows he shot. It wasn't a huge miss, just an inch too far to the left, too low or high of a release. Halt watched all these events with great care, keeping a very close eye on Will's wound as well. It was almost healed, although he would have a scar there.

Two days later, Will and Halt are sitting around the table, drinking their coffee as usual. The sun had set about an hour and a half before, forcing Will and Halt to light the lanterns. It was about 10:00 pm and Will was exhausted. He had spent the last part of the day trying to reduce his limp. He had succeeded, reducing it to barely noticeable. He had accomplished this by running, jogging at first and moving up to sprinting. The exercise for his leg helped tremendously; the pain was almost gone now.

Will yawned. He stood, said goodnight to Halt, and went to bed. Halt sat at the table for another hour, thinking aimlessly about random things. A road-side robbery, a poacher, some criminals that were being tracked by Gilan right now. Nothing in particular. At about 11:30, Halt finally stood and put out all the lanterns but one. He turned it way down so it only gave off a very faint glow, taking Halt's shadow and exaggerating it. Halt yawned. He was getting too old to stay up this late.

As he went to his room, he had an uneasy feeling. Something wasn't quite right. But he couldn't quite place it. It wasn't anything outside; the horses would have alerted him. He didn't think too much on it, slipping into the bed. Still, he couldn't shake the feeling. Something was going to happen. Something very bad.

After spending thirty minutes tossing and turning, Halt gave up on the idea of sleep for a little bit. He went to the front door, slipped his boots and cloak on then slipped outside, making sure to lift the door so it didn't scrap across the floor. It was a little cold outside but not unpleasant. After picking a direction, Halt took off walking at a slow pace, letting his mind wander. He went about two kilometers, turned around, and walked back. He had managed to shake the feeling but now, as he opened the door, it was back. This time, it was really strong.

Something was definitely wrong.

Halt didn't like this feeling. It was unnatural for him to feel it; he was always aware of his surroundings. And yet, this feeling was catching him off guard. As Halt slipped his boots and cloak off, he heard something. He froze. The sound of a sigh died away, followed by another sigh. The last sigh was from Halt as he breathed it out of relief. It was just Will sighing in his sleep. With the feeling significantly reduced, Halt slipped back to his bed, shutting the door behind him softly. Sleep overcame him in a matter of seconds and, before he knew it, Halt was fast asleep.

*     *     *

Halt awoke. Something was off. Not quite right. Halt slid out of the bed and opened the door. He expected the smell of coffee to hit him but it wasn't there. Halt's brows furrowed in confusion. Then he noticed something else: where was Will? Will always got up before Halt and made breakfast and coffee. He'd never missed a day since he'd started. Even when he was supposed to be in bed, he would get up and make breakfast much to Halt's disapproval. But today was weird. Maybe he'd gotten up early? Halt went and opened the back door. No. He'd gotten up at the correct time. Maybe Will was so exhausted he just forgotten about it.

That could be it. Halt thought. He shrugged. It was a little weird but he'd have to get used to Will not getting up and having breakfast ready when he woke up. After all, Will was on his last year as an apprentice; ten months before The Gathering where Will would receive his silver oakleaf. Without much thought, Halt busied himself with the morning chores.

An hour passed and Will still hadn't emerged from his room. Just let the boy sleep. Halt told himself.

Two hours and it was almost 9:00. This is a little bit ridiculous. Halt thought

Three hours and nothing. Halt became concerned but he didn't want to show it when his apprentice woke up. Halt went and banged his fist on the door twice.

"Geez, ya gonna just sleep the entire day away in there? Let's get a move on!" Halt shouted through the door. No response.

Halt was getting tired of this. He threw the door open. What he saw next, he will never forget.

Will was there but as Halt looked closer, he noticed that his chest wasn't moving. Halt hurried over to his side, putting his fingers against Will's neck, looking for a pulse. It was there, but very faint. Halt started to panic, something that he'd never done before. But this was to be expected; his apprentice was dying!

"No! No! No!" Halt said over and over again. He didn't know what to do next. Should he go get a healer? Alert Baron Arald? No. He should stay with his apprentice. Halt ran to his room and grabbed his med kit. There was necessities in there but nothing to save a life. Still, he had to try. It was Will's only hope. He rushed back, still in a blind panic. He burst back into Will's room, still not sure what to do now.

"Please, Will, just stay with me for a little bit. Just until I can get you a healer." Halt said. He hoped Will could still hear him.

Alyss walked down the road, not a worry bothering her. It was her off day and Lady Pauline had allowed her to do whatever she wanted. So she'd decided that she'd go and see Will. After all, they hadn't seen each other since they got back to Araluen. She had gotten a lot of paperwork from Lady Pauline and hadn't been able to get away. By the time she got out of the castle at night, the sun was already setting and it became too dark for her to visit Will. But she'd finished all the paperwork the day before and Lady Pauline agreed to let her take a break for a day.

So here she was, walking down the road to the Ranger's cabin. Her thoughts wandered as she walked and before she knew it, she was twenty meters away from the cabin. Smoke curled from the chimney as she approached it. Suddenly, she heard stomps from the cabin as someone ran across the boards. That was weird. Ranger's didn't have a need to run in the cabin; there wasn't anything that needed done so fast as to provoke running. Maybe someone got into the cabin and was running around. Alyss' eyes narrowed as she thought of someone harming Will.

She crept carefully around the back of the cabin. That was where someone would escape, right into the woods ten meters away. Abelard and Tug neighed a greeting to Alyss and she glared at them. Both of them were really content with everything; they weren't concerned about the going-on's inside the cabin. So it wasn't an intruder. What could it be? Alyss stood and walked to the door. She opened it and slipped inside. She heard someone muttering something in a frantic tone. She frowned. It wasn't Will's voice. Perhaps Halt? No, it couldn't be. Halt didn't just let his emotions show like that. Or ever, for that matter. She rounded the corner to the hallway and went to Will's room. The door was open and Halt was inside, kneeling beside Will's bed. Alyss gasped as she realized what was going on. She began crying immediately. Halt turned and beckoned her over to him. She complied, still crying. Together, they both cried for hours.

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