This is the first book in the Outlaw Ranger series
Three riders pulled their horses along the ridge.A piebald,a dappled gray,and a jet-black,each with barrel-like bodies.The rider on the dappled gray scanned the horizon,ready to grab the saxe knife from its scabbard.
“See anything?"Maddie asked.
“No,let's make camp here.It might be a while till we reach a village."Jacob replied.He moved his hand away from the hilt of his saxe,but still warily watched the horizon.
“Not sure if that's a good thing or not."Maddie said,dismounting from Bumper.Rebecca hopped off Thunder and began helping Maddie set up camp.
“Well,either way,we're probably far from a town."Jacob stated.
“We shouldn't be too far from Valley Ridge in Caraway Fief."Maddie said turning to him,“Unless you got us lost."
Jacob snorted.“I don't get lost."He pulled a map from his bag,then looked at it.“See,no villages."
Rebecca looked over his shoulder and tried to supress a giggle.“According to that map,We're in Gallica."
Jacob glared at her,then studied the map.“Cheatin' map-maker sold me the wrong map."
“That,or you bought the wrong one."Maddie joked.
“Whatever.Just help me get camp set."
The three riders trotted along in the standard ranger march pace for over an hour when they reached a village.
It wasn't a big village,but it wasn't small either.It had a tavern,an inn,a tannery and a blacksmith.Most of the houses were one-story buildings.Some on the edge of town had small barns or stables nearby.
The rangers went to the inn and unsaddled their horses.They walked into the building and Jacob asked for rooms.
Looking at them,you'd never know they were rangers.They had a single scabbard,not the ranger double-scabbard and they only carried the saxe.They had no bows,and Maddie didn't carry her sling.
They had no cloaks,the most obvious mark of a ranger.They still carried the ranger gear, though.They stuffed it into saddle bags that the horses carried.
Rebecca pushed her hair out of her face as she walked down the road.She sat down by a small pond on the edge of town.
“Hey."Rebecca turned around to see a girl walking down the path.She had blond hair pulled back into a pony tail.She had a green tunic and blue leggings,and was wearing riding boots.
“Your new in town,aren't you?"She asked.Her face was kind and smiling.She was about a year older than Rebecca.
The girl sat down next to her.“I'm Emily.You?"
They sat in silence for a few moments,then Emily spoke.“How long are you staying here."Rebecca looked at her a few seconds before she responded.
“I dunno.Probably a few days.Maybe more."She turned her gaze the the pond in front of them.The sunset shimmered on its surface.“I should be going."
Emily nodded.“I should too.Will you be here tomorrow?"
“I would like to meet you again.But it's up to you.Bye!"She ran up the path,her blond hair streaming behind her.
Emily jogged down the path.Her hair was in a ponytail, same as the day before.She still wore the riding boots,too.Her tunic was grey and her leggings brown.
“Hi."Rebecca said shortly.
“Hey."Rebecca noticed she was carrying a fishing pole.Emily cast the line into the water and sat down by Rebecca.“While I'm here I may as well catch dinner."she explained.
Rebecca nodded.She pulled hair out of her face and leaned back on her hands.
“Do you hunt?"Emily asked,casually.
“Maybe we should do that sometime.I have a bow back home that I'm pretty good with."Rebecca looked up.
“You shoot a bow?"Emily nodded.
“I can show you sometime,if you like."She smiled.“It'd be fun."
“I've shot one before."Rebecca responded.
“Oh,cool!"She felt a pull on her line.She reeled it in and a plump fish dangled from the line.“I'll take this home while it's fresh.But,see you tomorrow?"
“I don't think I'll be here tomorrow."Rebecca said.
“Ok."Emily replied,looking disappointed.“But we should go hunting sometime soon."She grabbed her fishing pole,waved with her free hand,then turned to leave.
A week later,Rebecca and Emily walked into the woods near the village.They both carried bows.
Suddenly Rebecca knelt down.“Quiet."she whispered.
Emily had a curious look on her face as Rebecca nocked an arrow to her bowstring.
Quickly,a pheasant dove from a tree.Moments later,an arrow whizzed through the air and hit the pheasant.The bird dropped to the ground.
“How'd you see it so fast?"Emily breathed.
Rebecca shrugged.“I got lucky,I guess."
“That's not luck."Emily laughed.“It's skill."She smiled at Rebecca as she went to retrieve the pheasant.“One other thing,too."
“I know your a ranger."
Rebecca felt her mouth go dry.“What do you mean?I'm no ranger."
“It's ok.I'm not one of the crazy, superstitious people who think rangers are traitors."Emily laughed.
What's so funny about anyone who carries the title of a ranger having to hide?Rebecca thought.
“Rebecca,I should've told you earlier that I knew.But I wanted to be sure you really were a ranger first.I'm sorry."
Rebecca didn't respond.She grabbed her bow,which she had dropped,and ran.
She didn't stop till she reached the inn.She raced up the stairs as quickly as she could.
The door to one of the rooms opened,and her mentor poked out her head.“Yeah?"
“What is it?"Maddie asked.
“Who knows what?"
“Emily knows I'm a ranger."
Maddie stared at Rebecca.“How?"
“I don't know...she said she doesn't believe rangers are traitors,but I have no way to know if she means it."
“We need to leave here.As soon as possible.I'll tell Jacob later."Maddie sighed and sat on the foot of the bed.“Your sure you didn't tell her anything?"
Rebecca shook her head.“She did most of the talking anyway.She said she didn't tell me she knew because she wanted to be sure..."
Maddie shook her head.“We can't stay.Let's just hope she doesn't tell anyone till we're gone."