Gilan slid his cloak off. Neatly folding it, he set it on his bed. Sliding his quiver off, he set the item, along with his smaller recurve bow, on his wooden stool. Hesitating, the apprentice glanced down at his knives. "Should I? She'll most likely insist I take them off..." He mused to himself. Gilan hated being weaponless, and Halt would be thoroughly agitated if he found out his apprentice had gone anywhere without some form of defense. Your weapons are a part of you. Halt was fond of saying. Yes, Gilan decided, he would keep the knives. Quietly moving from his room, he edged toward the cabin door.
"Where are you going, Gilan?" Halt's voice floated across the room from where the older Ranger was sitting with his paper.
Gilan jerked to a stop. "Oh..." He paused, then answered lamely, "Out."
Halt raised an eyebrow. "So I figured. Out where? And where is your cloak? And bow?"
Gilan blinked. "I tore my cloak." The boy answered honestly- earlier that morning his long green and gray cloak had caught on a sharp branch and ripped. "And I'm just going to the village."
Halt continued gazing at his student, who shifted uncomfortably. "Why?"
Gilan unconsciously scraped his boot across the floor. "I'm going to the village," Gilan replied carefully, "to meet with someone. It's really nothing to bother about, Halt."
Halt lowered his eyes back to his report. "If you're sure."
"Yes! I'm positive." Gilan replied, then moved abruptly out the door before his teacher could ask any more questions. Halt looked up again at his student's hurried form. His apprentice had acted too relieved at the end of the conversation. Unfortunately for Gilan, Halt was going to find out exactly what the boy had been trying to hide. Setting his paper down, Halt rose from his chair, and, putting on his cloak and picking up his massive longbow, stepped out the door.
Gilan's energetic walk faltered. "Don't sound so angry, Charlotte. I'm here now." The apprentice replied quickly. Charlotte's face remained angry.
"Today I want you to climb that big tree in the courtyard. And you can't use any of your Ranger magic!" The ginger haired girl said.
Gilan stifled a sigh. "I've told you, it isn't magic; it's skill." For the past three days, ever since Charlotte had recognized him as a Ranger, the young market girl had been challenging him to ridiculous stunts, to apparently "prove that he wasn't a dark magician". She had been keeping her distance, however, and seemed to exist to ridicule him - as long as she thought she was out of reach, anyway. An intrigued Gilan, though nearing the end of his fuse, had decided to play along.
"Prove it." Charlotte taunted. Her eyes narrowed as she caught sight of the double knife scabbard. "You brought your knives! I said no Ranger magic!" She quickly backed away, as if fearful that the weapons would fly at her.
Gilan groaned exasperatedly. "I left the cloak and my bow! And it's not magic!" Unsheathing his throwing knife, he aimed at a close tree, ignoring Charlotte's terrified whimper and frantic backwards stumble. Smoothly, the knife left the boy's hand and was embedded deeply into the trunk of the aimed at tree. "See? That happened from skill, which takes practice. No magic."
Charlotte took a hesitant step forward. "I see. No magic. Ranger... Gilan." She faltered at the last word, sounding almost... shy? "I was really hoping that you would turn out to not have dark magic. I've decided to believe you..."
Gilan, who was watching the girl suspiciously, didn't reply.
"You're very handsome, Gilan." Gilan's eyes widened by a large degree at these words, spoken in a almost adoring fashion.
"Excuse me?" He squawked, his turn to take a frantic backwards stumble.
Charlotte's cheeks reddened. "You're handsome. I've - I've liked you for quite a while. I just had to test you to make sure you weren't a sorcerer."
Gilan's face was set in an expression of shock. "Oh?"
Charlotte took a tentative step forward, and pushing herself onto her tip toes, pressed a gentle kiss on Gilan's cheek. Gilan stood tensely, seriously considering the idea of running away. The situation was awkward and hasty and uncomfortable, and it would be prudent to get some distance on his side, because Halt was going to kill him.
"Well, that escalated quickly. I didn't realize you had a girl, Gilan."
Gilan's already rigid body stiffened. Slowly, painfully, the apprentice turned in the direction of the voice of his mentor. Halt was leaning easily against a tree, with a perfect view of the scene before him.
Charlotte glanced rapidly from Gilan to Halt. "Who is that?" The girl asked fearfully.
Halt took a step forward, his long mottled cloak almost blending in with the forest background. "Most people know me by the Ranger Halt."
Charlotte's mouth opened, but no sound immediately came out. Wheeling towards the village, the girl bolted. "MOTHER!"
Halt shook his head as he watched her leave, then turned to his silent apprentice. "Well?"
Gilan took a deep breath, then spouted off quickly, "It wasn't my idea! Don't kill me. She just took a step forward and before I knew what was happening she had kissed me!" He paused, then added, "She's NOT my girlfriend."
Halt raised an eyebrow. "Then why were you here?"
Gilan shrugged. "Proving that Rangers don't have magic."
"That... Is an incredible waste of time." Halt said after a pause, then turned and began walking back in the direction of their cabin, followed by a sheepish Gilan. "Also, you're much too young to have a girlfriend."
"She is NOT my girlfriend!" Gilan flushed.
"Right." Halt said, smirking to himself in the shadow of a cowl.
Gilan moaned. "You're never going to let me live this down."