Chapter 10: Reassurance
"We all need reassurance and encouragement. We're human, and that's how we work"
- Richard Templar
Some time later, Gilan and Rea are sitting next to each other. “Ready to explain what is going on?” Gilan asks. Rea nods, telling the tale of everything that had happened since they had come to Arrida, tearing up again when she reaches the part where she sees Alix on the boat.
“Wait, what? They took her!” Gilan looks extremely shocked and angry.
A tear slides down Rea’s cheek, “I know, I should have followed her onto the boat or something.”
“No no, you did the right thing. They could have hurt you, or killed you,” Gilan says, and the distressed apprentice hugs him.
She cries into his shirt, “I was so scared, so lost and… so alone.”
“It’s alright,” he reassures gently. “I’m glad you’re safe.”
“I know I am, but Alix isn’t!” Rea sobs.
“And we’re going to do something about it.”
“What can we do? We have no idea where she went!”
“We are Rangers, Rea. We will find her no matter what it takes,” he says solemnly, worried for the safety of his former apprentice.
Rea looks up, her teary eyes now filled with determination, “We will find her.”
“That’s the spirit,” Gilan nods, smiling slightly.
“I’m glad you’re here with me,” Rea sighs, feeling a bit better about the situation.
“I’m glad you’re here too.”
“Me? But what can an apprentice do?”
Gilan smiles, “You would be surprised. Alix was an apprentice once, as was I.”
Rea gives a small laugh, “I have a hard time imagining that.”
“It’s true. At one point I was only this tall, and clumsier than a drunken fool,” he chuckles, holding his hand up to a certain height.
“Now I believe you even less,” Rea smiles, her mood improving greatly.
Gilan’s smile fades, becoming serious, “Would you believe me if I said Alix saved me when I was in grave danger during her apprenticeship?”
Gilan nods, “Now it’s our turn to save her.”
Later, Gilan and Rea are searching for anyone who may have overheard where the ship was going, but no answers have been found. They’ve tried asking locals, merchants, sailors, and fishermen, but have had no luck. Both are downhearted after so many failures, but unwilling to give up.
“Let’s try here,” Gilan says, gesturing to a group of sailors. After a few moments of discussion, Gilan smiles. “Gallica you say?”
“Yes. Gallica was mentioned by one of their crewmembers. Although, I dunno what you're thinking trying to find people like that.”
“It’s necessary, even if I don’t like it.”
“If you say so. Good luck.”
“Thank you. We will let you be on your way,” Gilan says, stepping away from the group.
Rea looks up at the tall ranger, “So, to Gallica then?”
Gilan nods, “It’s worth a try. We will leave as soon as possible.”
“What about the treaty?”
“Neither of us need to sign it, and the delegation has arrived safely. Selethen will oversee their safe passage to Araluen.”
“We need a boat to go to Gallica on,” Rea points out.
“Let’s go find one.”
Alix sighs when she overhears that they have six more hours onboard until they reach land.
“Disappointed?” Kaden sneers, having heard her sigh. “And I thought you wanted to know your fate.”
“All I want is to get out of here. But I would settle for slapping that stupid smirk off your face,” Alix spits.
Kaden scowls, “You’re awfully feisty for a prisoner, aren’t you?”
“It’s a quality I find to be particularly useful when dealing with halfwits like you,” she growls.
“You’re one to talk. I’m not the one captured and bound,” Kaden says, walking away.
grateful we found a ship. We will be leaving in the morning,” Gilan says as he
and Rea walk through the harbor.
“Can’t we leave now? I’ve already wasted a day trying to find help, and another trying to figure out where Alix went.”
“If we could, we would. The skipper of the ship said he leaves in the morning, not anytime sooner,” Gilan sighs, clearly just as annoyed as Rea.
“Alright. Better that than never.”
Gilan nods, looking out at the sea. “I just hope she’s alright,” he sighs.
Alix wakes up sore from sleeping in a cramped position. She sits up, and starts in surprise when she sees how close Gallica is. “At least I can leave this awful ship,” she mutters to herself, watching as the crewmembers prepare to dock. Soon, Alix is gagged, and forced to shuffle along after Ralph and Kaden, a blade to her throat.
Rea sits alone on the ship, looking out across the water. She sighs, throwing her empty double-scabbard down on the deck in frustration.
Gilan turns at the noise. “You may want this,” he says, picking up the sheath and holding it out to Rea.
“I know,” she says without looking up.
Gilan studies it. “Although it’s much more useful with a knife or two in it,” he says, taking his own two knives out, and placing them in the scabbard.
Rea glances up at him, “No, Gilan. Keep your knives. It’s my fault I lost mine.”
He shakes his head, “I’ve got other ways of defending myself.” He pats the sword at his hip. “You need them more than I do.”
Rea sighs, taking them, “Alright.”
Gilan sits next to her, going silent.
“I feel like I’ve failed her,” she says finally, in little more than a whisper, “I’ve let her down. I can never be like Alix. I can never be a ranger.”
Gilan looks over, “Too late for that one, you already are. Bronze or Silver, we are all rangers,” he says, “And you haven’t failed her. Why do you think we are on this ship? We are going to save her.”
“Maybe, but my second year assessment and the gathering too. There’s no way I’m ready for that,” she sighs, standing up.
Gilan gets to his feet, “I’m positive you are. You’re one of the best apprentices there are.”
“Which is why I can’t go back! The others get jealous, Gilan. They don’t like that I’m good with a bow.”
“It doesn’t matter what others think. You have skill, which is why you are a ranger.”
Rea looks down at the wooden boards of the deck, “They teased me because of it. They were upset a girl bested them.” Tears fill her eyes as she says, “Please don’t make me go back.”
Gilan gently lifts her chin so she can meet his eyes, “I know Rea, I know. People are always filled with greed and jealousy. They shouldn’t be, but they are. As an apprentice, I trained with a sword, which angered some apprentices and mentors. They didn’t consider it ‘proper’. You are strong Rea, I know you can do it. A few more years and you will have your own fief, and you needn’t worry about them anymore. The only thing you have to fear, is fear itself.”
Rea meets his bright blue eyes, “Alright. For your sake, and for Alix’s.”
Gilan nods, studying Rea a moment longer before turning away.
Rea walks to the side of the ship to admire the sea, “I love sailing,” she says quietly, changing the subject.
Gilan looks over, “It’s certainly a good thing neither of us get seasick like my former mentor, Halt.” he walks over, and leans against the bulwark, facing the sea.
“That’s the truth.”
Gilan is silent for a moment before he speaks, “Alix really cares for you. Even if she doesn’t say it out loud, she does. She saw potential in you when no one else did.”
“I didn’t look like much when she found me, I was battered, bruised, and broken.”
Gilan nods, “I remember.”
Rea is quiet for a moment, “Alix has never told me much about herself, even though I’ve been her apprentice for ages.”
“She will, in her own time,” Gilan reassures. “But you should ask her too, she’s got plenty of entertaining accounts from when she was an apprentice, and I doubt that she’ll refuse if you ask.”
“Alix has always been like family to me,” Rea says quietly, before looking up at Gilan, “And you have too.”
Gilan looks at Rea in surprise, then smiles, “Thank you Rea. Just, promise me something, will you?”
“Be careful. I would never forgive myself if you get hurt or captured as we try to save Alix.”
Alix hobbles along for what seems like years. Thankfully, they had removed her gag on the condition that she don’t speak. Eventually, they reach a small group of men with a cart.
“Prisoner goes into there, she’s slowing us down,” Ralph growls. Within moments, Alix is glaring at him from within it. They continue on their way, at a faster pace.
Alix sighs, worried for the well-being of her apprentice. “I sure hope she found help,” she whispers to herself. She and her captors pass through a few towns and villages as they travel through the land. Alix stiffens as they come to a sudden stop.
“We’re here,” someone says, and Alix turns to see where they arrived. Her mouth drops open when she sees what can only be an arena.
“What in all of Araluen?” she mutters, “What are we doing here?”
“You, Ranger, are going to be a competitor in the Death Games,” Kaden says, walking over to her.
Alix frowns, “A what now?”
“Competitor. A victor. A warrior.”
“This is ridiculous, why would I do such a thing?”
“So you don’t die. People pay good money to see people fight to the death.”
“You can’t do this! Who could be so inhumane!”
“This has been going on for years girlie. You can’t stop it now. The Gallican warlord who governs here, pays us to find fighters like you. No one has ever dared to stop us, and no one ever will,” he laughs. “We heard that an Araluen Ranger would be in Arrida, and we couldn’t resist.”
“Who else have you taken?” Alix demands angrily.
“That, dearie, you will find out,” he smirks.
Alix’s ankles are untied and she is brought through a door into the underside of the colosseum, where many doors and corridors lead of into countless directions. She stumbles along, practically being dragged by her captors before they shove her into a room furnished with only an old straw mattress. The door is locked behind her, and she is alone. She sits up, and looks around for anything to cut the ropes that bind her wrists, but to no avail.
Kaden and Ralph are standing in the center of the arena, the sun setting behind them. “We’ve got them all,” Kaden says quietly to his brother. “All of them.”
Ralph nods proudly, “So we do. The battles shall begin in the morning, just as planned.”
“Many noble Gallicans will be here to see the struggle for victory,” Kaden comments, smiling cruelly.
“And unfortunately for the competitors, only one will live.”