A bit of history on the story
Will was James' best friend. They both grew up in the Redmont Ward where Halt chose Will as his apprentice. Knowing that Halt couldn't take James also, his friend, Daniel, took James as his own apprentice. However, Daniel disappeared a year into James' training, leaving James on his own. Not knowing what else to do, James rode Mika to Redmont to seek Halt's advice. They quickly set out on a search for James' mentor, but the search was in vain. With Crowley's permission, Halt agreed to take James as his apprentice and train him along with Will. Four years later, the two young fully-fledged rangers were as close as brothers, and they were like Halt's sons.
James stood up as he heard unsteady steps near his cabin. No one ever came around his cabin unless they knew him. His reputation as a ranger was impressive, and he was thought to be a powerful black magician. So who was it on his porch? Slipping silently to the side of the door, he waited with saxe knife in hand. To his surprise, whoever was on the other side knocked. James laughed quietly to himself. There was no danger, but it never hurt to be too careful. Slipping the knife back into its leather scabbard, he opened the door and jumped out of the way as a young man stumbled into his cabin.
"Will?" Will stumbled through the open doorway past a very surprised James, and dropped into one of the chairs in James' cabin.
He was exhausted. Leaning his head on both hands and covering his eyes, he mumbled, "Halt's been captured." He said this so quietly, that James' highly trained ears almost missed it.
"What?" James hissed, "How? Will, what happened?"
"I know!" Will sighed in frustration. "Halt and a group of soldiers were out on a mission escorting the King and Evanlyn back to Araluen. Halt never saw them coming. Abelard wasn't able to warn Halt in time, and they were ambushed by...I don't actually know who, I should find out...anyways they were ambushed. Completely surrounded and outnumbered by crossbow men, the leader threatened to kill the King and his daughter unless Halt surrendered himself. He had no choice, James. Once they had Halt, they let the soldiers and the royals go. That's all I know. What are we going to do?"
"Who else knows?" James' quick mind had begun to form a plan.
Will looked up at his friend who was still standing in the open doorway, "Just me, the King and Evanlyn, and the soldiers from the escort. Why? What's your plan?"
"I'm going after Halt, and you are going to tell Crowley."
James held up a hand to stop him. "You are going to meet up with me after you tell him. I'm just going ahead so the trail doesn't get cold. How long has he been gone for?"
"It's been three days. I was in Redmont because I was the replacement while Halt was on his mission. A messenger brought me a letter with the king's seal explaining what had happened. Halt's alive but captured, so the next day I rode the three day journey in two to reach you."
James glanced at the setting sun before finally shutting the door. The rusty hinges squeaked; a habit learned from Halt. "Alright. We will leave in the morning."
"We need to leave now though!" Will stood up and swayed on his feet.
James hurried over to help him, and Will leaned on him gratefully, "You're exhausted, Will. You should leave in the morning."
"But what about Tug?" He asked, already trying to go towards the door.
James pulled him towards his second room, "I'll take care of him. It's okay. You need to rest." A sudden thought occurred to him at the mention of Tug, "Will, what happened to Abelard?"
"He's okay, James. He's with the king and Horace,"
"Horace? Was he with the escort?"
"Mmhm," he nodded.
When they reached James' spare room, he hung up Will's cloak and quiver and laid his weapons by the bedside. Will nodded his thanks, and he was asleep as soon as his head touched the pillow. James smiled slightly at his friend before he left to go help Tug.
Tug looked just as tired as his master. His head drooped, and everything about him said, 'My master is safe. Can I lie down now?'
James led him to the stables where his own horse was. Mika, a light brown horse with dark patches, lifted her head and neighed a greeting when her own master approached. Seeing the exhausted Tug, Mika looked back towards her master. 'What's wrong?' James gently put his hand against Mika's nose before taking care of Tug. He brought food and water, removed the saddle, and brushed him down until his coat shown. "Everything's alright, Mika. There you go Tug. You can sleep now." Tug neighed his thanks softly to his master's friend.
Once back inside, James prepared for the journey that was lying ahead of them. Of course, he remembered to pack extra coffee.