Chapter 2: Meeting Gilan
“Nothing more exciting than meeting new people, hearing their stories, and being inspired.” – Anonymous
“Alix, are you in here?” he calls. “I thought you knew I was coming.”
Rea, shaking with terror, says nothing in response. She hears his steps come closer and looks around trying to find something to defend herself with.
“Who said ‘Who is it?’” he asks, pulling out his larger knife, identical to the one Rea had seen Alix sharpening the night before. “Alix?” he repeats.
Rea hears the sound of the knife being drawn and closes her eyes hoping the end will come swiftly. The man holds still for a moment, trying to listen for any unusual noises. Rea attempt to stay still and quiet but a bird flies into the window, causing her to jump in surprise and knock the plate off the stand. It clatters loudly to the floor.
The newcomer swings open the door to the room, ready to attack any intruders that he thinks may have come into the cabin. Rea turns quickly to face him and is surprised to see a man, rather handsome and about in his early forties, step into the room. He starts in surprise when he sees Rea, who stares at him in terror.
“Who are you?” she whispers.
“I could ask you the same thing,” he says. “Who are you, and what are you doing here?”
“I...my name is Rea...Alix brought me here.”
“Well, uh, I don’t know.”
"So, you mean to tell me, that Alix brought you here and then just left you on your own, and you don’t know why?"
“She said she’ll come back,” Rea replies lamely.
The man frowns slightly. "Hmm... alright then. Well, I'm Gilan. The Ranger Corps Commandant."
Rea’s eyes widen in surprise. “You’re the leader of the Rangers, right?”
"I suppose you could put it that way. I prefer to think of myself as more of a guide," he says grinning.
Rea nods slowly. “Well, Alix isn’t here and I don’t know when she'll be back.”
Gilan grins. "No one ever does. I think I will wait here until she returns." Rea nods and settles back into a more comfortable position, studying the tall, clean shaven Ranger closely.
Gilan spots the platter on the floor and bends down to pick it up. "I must have given you quite a fright," he comments.
Rea smiles slightly. “Yes, you did scare me quite a bit.”
"If it helps any, you surprised me just the same. I didn't expect to come across anyone other than Alix."
Gilan walks back into the main room, while Rea lays back down to rest some more. A few hours or so later, Alix walks in the cabin dusty and dirty. Gilan looks up from where he is sitting.
"What happened to you?" he asks his former apprentice, arching an eyebrow.
Alix sighs, taking her cloak off. "Thieves. Had to chase after them. Then, the fools decided it would be a good idea to turn and fight."
"I'm assuming it turned out badly?"
"For them. I just had to drag them back to the castle."
"Sounds pleasant,” Gilan comments, grinning.
"So, what brings you here?" Alix asks.
"Have some paperwork for you, updates on the fiefs and whatnot," he says as Rea stirs in the other room.
Gilan hands her a stack of official looking papers. Alix takes them and glances through a few of them. "Thank you," she says, setting it to the side.
Alix looks towards the bedroom. "Have you met Rea?"
"Sure did. She gave me quite the surprise," Gilan says, chuckling slightly.
Alix walks into the spare bedroom, and gently shakes Rea awake, "Feeling better? I hope Gil didn’t frighten you too much,"
Rea grins. “Well… I do feel better.”
Alix turns back to the commandant. “How long do you plan on staying?”
Gilan shrugs, “Not sure. I don’t think it will be more than a few days.”
Alix smirks. “I think I can handle that.” Gilan smiles in return.
Rea turns to them. “Alix, can I try walking yet, please?”
Alix shakes her head. “Of course not. You’ll only injure yourself further.” Rea looks slightly disappointed but says nothing. Alix sighs, "I can help you into the main room. Would that be better?"
“Oh, yes please!”
Soon, Rea is seated on a comfortable chair in the main room of the cabin.
“I presume you will be bedridden for a day or two more,” Gilan muses.
Rea grimaces. “How can I be of use to you? How can I help?”
Alix gestures to Gilan. “Entertain this one while I go report to the baron.” Rea looks slightly surprised then bewildered.
“Alright but I’ve never entertained someone before. I don’t exactly how to.”
“I’m sure you’ll do fine,” Alix says, walking over to the door. “Doesn’t take a lot to entertain Gilan. Learned that during the five years I was his apprentice.”
At this, Gilan raises an eyebrow. “Is that so?” he queries, clearly amused.
Rea laughs as Alix leaves after grabbing her cloak.
The week progresses and Rea's health improves greatly. She is soon able to walk and use her injured arm freely. One warm evening, after dinner, Alix and Rea are sitting on the verandah.
“I’m glad you are finally able to walk.” Alix says.
Rea nods. “So am I.”
“And, well, we need to discuss you going to the ward. You can’t exactly stay here forever. You know what the ward is, and it’s purpose?”
“Yeah, for caring for orphans.”
“Right. I’ve talked to the officials there, and they say they have plenty of room for you. Any questions?”
Rea shakes her head but looks up. “Will you come and visit sometimes?”
Alix hesitates, “I don’t know. I can’t promise anything for certain.”
“Alright. I’ll leave today then?”
Alix nods, standing up, “As soon as you are ready.”
“I’m ready now.”
“Okay then,” Alix says helping Rea to her feet. Alix walks slowly so Rea can keep up as they walk out of the forest and to Castle Whitby.