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Chapter Two Edit

Splash! The arrow seemed to leap from my bow and into the water, spearing the targeted fish and killing it instantly. I leaned over the stream to grab my kill, keeping one eye on Sage, who had pushed me into the water the past two times I had gone to collect my shots.

"If you knock me in again you'll be reducing your weekly apple rations again," I warned, "And I know how much you love your apples." Sage looked at me with an expression of pure innocence.

What, me? Knock you over? Now why would I do that? I pulled her arrow out of the fish's body, and decided that it could be reused. I slid the arrow back into her quiver.

"Don't play nice with me, Sage. My other clothes are still dripping wet from before." As I spoke I could see Sage looking around for the clothes, and, spying them drip-drying on a tree branch, moving over to them.

"No! Sage- Get away from my clothes! You forced me to wear my nice set of clothes while fishing but you will NOT force me to change clothes twice today! That is final!" Completely ignoring me, Sage gently grasped the still-wet tunic between her teeth and trotted off to the far side of the clearing to drop it on my dad’s cowled head. I had covered my face as I saw what my horse had in mind, but that didn't keep me from hearing his curses as he was awoken by a dripping pile of cloth being dropped on his face.

"Sadie!" I winced. This was NOT going to end well for Sage… or for me… "Yeah Dad?" I made sure to keep my face suitably shocked and surprise, but my voice betrayed me, cracking up as I asked him what was wrong.

"What's wrong? What's wrong?!? Your horse dropped your soaking wet clothes on my head, that's what's wrong." Dad glared at me- or tried to, but his face broke out into a grin when Sage cantered over and administered the same treatment to me before running away.

"I'll have you know that this is the THIRD time today I'll have had to change clothes because Sage got me wet," I informed him. "The first two times were because she pushed me into the stream while I was fishing." Dad shrugged his shoulders philosophically.

"Well, what matters is that you got the fish- you DID get the fish, right?" I sighed. "Yeah, I got it alright, but who's going to cook it? You and I both know that my cooking is terrible, and the last time you cooked you burnt the stew."

"He burnt stew? That doesn't sound like the Halt I know." I spun around to see Will coming across the clearing towards them.

"Will!" I ran over and gave him a big hug, which he returned, by now used to me and my many strange behaviors. "What are you doing here? I thought you were spending the day with your sister."

Will glanced over his shoulder to where Nerida was following him with Storm and Tug. "I am, but you're my family too. May we stay for dinner? I was going to introduce Nerida to Baron Arald, but I'd rather eat out here with you guys- if that's okay with Halt, of course." Dad shook his head.

"I'd say that you're welcome to all that we have, but you seem to have already known that in the past. Of course you're welcome." Will smiled at his old mentor.

"Great! But, if I'm staying for dinner, I get to do the cooking."

***

Sighing with contentment, I leaned back against a tree and licked the remnants of the dinner off of my fingers. Holding true to his word, Will had made dinner, and it was as good as any other time he had cooked. But then I had to reconsider- after all, Nerida WAS eating with us, and Will would want only the best for his sister.

Nerida was sitting next to me, staring up at the sunlight gently streaming through the branches overhead, turning the air emerald green. Noticing that I was watching her, Nerida propped herself up on one elbow and stared across the grassy clearing to where Gilan leaned against another tree trunk. Slowly, she turned her head back to me.

"What's the matter?" I asked her, forestalling the question I knew was coming.

"I was wondering… how would you like to pull a prank on our mentors?" I considered it for a second.

"Make it Will too and you have a deal."

***

Early the next morning, before dawn, the two of us snuck outside to where I had stashed our supplies. Two lemons and two different bags of coffee beans waited underneath a bush. I took one lemon and one bag of coffee, squeezing the juice onto the beans. Nerida let the juice of the other lemon run into the water bucket for the next day.

Hurrying back to bed, we whispered to each other about how we thought our mentors and Will would react to the prank when they found out. The final consensus was that Will would laugh, Gilan would glare and THEN laugh, and Halt would probably just glare.

“What should we do when they wake up?” I asked. Nerida shrugged.

“I don’t know. Probably just act surprised and blame each other for the prank- make then think it was just one of us so they don’t know whose fault it actually was: Both of ours!” I smiled at my friend.

“Nerida, you’re a mad genius sometimes, you know that, right?” Nerida grinned from ear to ear.

“Yes, I do know that!” She said happily, “And I also know that we should pretend we were sleeping before they wake up from all the noise.” Nerida pulled the covers over her head, feigning sleep as she finished her words, and I followed suit.

What seemed like hours later, Gilan woke up and began making coffee. He didn’t even have to measure as he ground the beans and poured in the water. If only he knew that he was using the lemon-soaked beans I had prepared that morning! I smiled under my covers when I smelled the coffee brewing. It smelled the same, but I knew the taste would be completely different.

Moments later, Will and Halt woke up, smelling the fresh coffee brewing. Halt gestured for Will to get water for the day. Will groaned in protest of leaving his warm blankets. Halt sighed, then moved to shake him out of bed. Before he could do so, however, Will was saved by Nerida jumping up to volunteer.

“It’s okay Halt! I can go get the water this morning.” As she passed Will, who was still in his blankets, she kicked him gently in the side. “You owe me one, big brother.” Will nodded sleepily and murmured his thanks.

I waited inside my covers, but it was still a shock when Nerida dumped a bucket of cold water all over me.

“HEY! What do you think you’re doing?!?” I jumped to her feet, indignant. Nerida glared at me. I reflected that Nerida was a very good actor- her face showed only annoyance and anger.

“What am I doing? What were YOU doing? I went over to get the water for the morning, and to my surprise, it was already full- I thought maybe someone else had done it last night. I decided to take a drink, and when I did, it tasted terrible!” I folded my arms across my chest.

“And what in the world does that have to do with me?” Nerida stepped forward, glaring, and form the corner of my eye I could see Will paying attention to the argument. 

“You filled up the water last night!” I rolled my eyes.

“Yeah, of course I did. I do that EVERY night.” Nerida’s eyes flashed in anger.

“So, my theory is that you put something in the water to make it taste bad! You-“ Nerida was cut off by Gilan’s exclamation of surprise. Everyone turned to look towards the campfire, where he had been pouring coffee into cups.

“The coffee has gone bad!!!” Nerida turned to glare at me again, and accused me of spoiling both the water AND the coffee. I was ready for this -after all, we had planned the whole thing together- and responded with the statement that I didn’t even LIKE coffee, and so I didn’t know where it was stored because I never had to make it. I never could have found out and spoiled it as easily as Nerida was suggesting.

“However, I know for a fact that YOU like coffee, and you even make it some mornings. Why don’t we all see if YOU’VE ruined it, huh?” At this point I was beginning to wonder why Dad was just sitting there watching us, so I turned to him and asked what he thought of the situation. He stood up with a smile.

“Nerida, will you please bring me the coffee bag? Sadie, the water bucket?” The two of us complied without asking anything.

“I found something last night that we should check on. Will, will you check under that bush over there?” Will grumbled about Halt’s use of a ‘Will’ joke, while we tensed up. The bush Halt had pointed to was the same bush we had used for a hiding spot for our gear. Will looked underneath. There was nothing. Reporting this back to his old mentor, he came back over and sat down, looking interested.

“Last night I found lemons and coffee beans under there, and an extra water bucket hidden nearby. Would any of you happen know about this?” Nerida and I glanced around, pretending not to know that he was talking to us.

The suspense was incredibly think and heavy, so much that I almost confessed twice, but finally Dad just shook his head, chucking. We all stared at him, unsure if he was actually laughing or not.

"Girls, it was a good effort, but the next time you plan a prank on us you should check that the horses aren’t around before you hide your secret supplies.” Nerida did a face palm while I groaned in embarrassment. Abelard, Tug, and Blaze would have been untethered that night, and they would have been watching as we hid our stuff. Storm and Sage would have known not to tell on us, but the other horses… I groaned again, and looked at my dad ruefully.

“What now? I think we’re both learned our lesson about pranking.” Halt look at Nerida, whose face was still in her hands.

“What about you, Nerida? Have you learned your lesson?” Nerida nodded.

“I shouldn’t prank people…” Here she grinned and looked up. “…When Abelard is around. It’s fine if he isn’t because we won’t get caught!”

CHAPTER FOUR COMING SOON!!! Edit
Written by: Sadie O'Carrick