Some of this Adventure coincides with Chapter One of The Diplomatic Ranger.
The darn horse just really hated my guts. Gilan watched with a slight smirk as I tried to climb aboard Storm, a silver speckled pony. I coaxed it as I neared the pony and slowly started to climb onto its back. Once my leg swung over on the other side the horse ran forward and buckled, making me stumble and fall on my back for the forth time. Gilan snickered slightly. I jumped to my feet and almost ran forward and demanded for a ne. But I stopped myself and tried to calm my frustration.
"You're doing it wrong." Gilan said jumping down from the fence where he was sitting. I raised an eyebrow at him.
"Really?" I said sarcastically. He chuckled and reached a hand out to Storm.
"You need to give it the code phrase before riding."
"What? You didn't mention any code phrase." I growled. He straightened and looked at me with a serious frown.
"You were too excited to get on the horse that I didn't get the chance to tell you." He murmured. I opened my mouth in a retort but quickly closed it realizing that he was right. I did get too excited that I rushed in. I nodded showing my understanding. His frown disappeared and he smiled slightly.
"Old Bob?" He called. The older man heard the Ranger's call and scrambled over to their side. Gilan smiled down at the older man.
"What is the code phrase for Storm? Nerida is having a little trouble." He glanced at me just in time to see me glare at him. He shrugged and I calmed my glare and turned to Old Bob. The man laughed.
"Ah! I must have missed that step, huh, Ranger?" He said elbowing Gilan's side. The older man seemed to be teasing me. I sighed. Old Bob stepped to my side.
"Don't worry love; this is the whole learning process." He said. I smiled politely as Old Bob continued. "All you have to do is say, 'Black clouds'." He said in a low voice as if it was top secret. I raised an eyebrow and wanted to question him but stopped myself just as the words began to form. I nodded and Old Bob stepped back allowing me to near Storm. As I got closer to the horse I noticed the others taking a small step back as if expecting the horse to trample over them. I ignored them and focused on the silver pony. I got close enough to whisper in the Storm's ear.
"Black clouds…" The little horse grunted and straightened and I glanced back to see Gilan nod in approval. I sighed before trying to climb onto the horse's back again. I closed my eyes waiting for the horse to buck. But I was able to get on its back no problem. I opened my eyes and saw the little horse look at me with intelligent eyes. She gazed at me as if saying, "Are we going to ride or what?" I smiled and then turned to Gilan.
"What now?" I asked. He shrugged.
"Take her for a test run." He said like it was obvious. He walked over and ran his hand across the horse's mane. "Let's start with something simple. Gently flick the reins to get her to go. To stop, pull on the reins. But I'm sure you are already familiar with that." He grinned. It was true. I had seen others ride their horses. A simple movement of the reins and the horse would obey their command. But when Gilan said, "let's start with something simple" I knew there was a little more than just flicking the reins. I nodded and he stepped back. I grabbed a hold of the reins and sighed. I gently tapped them on Storm's neck and the pony lurched forward. She moved in a canter and quickly got to the edge of the clearing before I pulled on the reins to slow her down. I turned back to the others and rode back. Gilan nodded in approval.
After a bit more of talking and work, Old Bob let me take Storm and many of her belongings. He explained to me a little bit of what Storm likes and I happily hopped onto the pony next to Blaze and Gilan, and we both got ready to ride back home.
"Hey Gilan!" A voice called before we took a step. We both turned to see Will and Tug emerge. He noticed me and waved.
"Hi Nerida!" He added. I waved back. Behind Will, Halt and his adopted daughter Sadie pushed into the clearing on Abelard, Halt's horse. Sadie glanced at me before turning to Gilan.
"Hi there." Gilan smiled and nodded.
"What brings you all here?"
"Sadie is going to get a Ranger horse." Will said patting Sadie's shoulder affectionately. Gilan raised an eyebrow and looked at Halt.
"Is that so?" Halt gazed at his former apprentice and nodded. Gilan shrugged.
"We're not in a hurry. Do you mind if we join?" He asked. I almost protested but decided that there was nothing wrong with staying a little longer.
"Not at all." Halt said as he jumped down from Abelard. Sadie followed, petting Abelard's muzzle. I looked to Gilan and he motioned that I could stay on Storm. I looked down at the pony and pet the top of her head, between her ears.
"Hey!" Sadie glared at the horse that just threw her off. She stood up and brushed the dirt off herself, muttering curses under her breath. I glanced at Halt who raised an eyebrow at his adopted daughter.
"Language, Sadie, you know how your mother is about that." He told her. I turned back to Sadie who nodded.
"Yeah I know." She mumbled. "I had to decode a whole MESS of messages when I said 'storm it' under my breath once." I jumped slightly when Will began to laugh.
"Wait, was that the time she pulled you out of the conference room by your ear?" Sadie glared at him.
"Just because I have to listen to you as a senior Ranger doesn't mean that I can't trounce you in races anymore… You have been warned…" I glanced between the two. Will's laughter abruptly ceased as he turned to look at her curiously.
"Is that a challenge I hear?"
"Wait- what are you guys talking about, Will?" I asked, completely confused. No one replied. Halt and Gilan exchanged amused glanced but didn't say anything. Sadie stretched from one side to another, then paused, looking back at the horse still standing calmly behind her.
"You know what, I really want to get to know my horse some more- but I certainly do challenge you… just after I get my code phrase." She turned to Old Bob expectantly.
"Could you please tell me the code phrase I need to I can ride my horse without being thrown head over heels into the air?" Old Bob blinked at her formality. Then lowering his voice he explained to her the phrase. I strained to hear the phrase but Gilan slapped my hand and I jumped back, folding my arms so he couldn't slap me again. Sadie smiled at the horse.
"Sage…I like that." The horse had a name! Sadie walked toward the horse and then whispered the phrase in the horse's ear. When she said it, she stared at the horse grinning as if waiting for something to happen.
"Well, get on her already!" Halt said impatiently. Sadie nodded, not even swayed by her father's brisk voice. She climbed onto the horse's back and gripped the reins.
"Remember, all you need to do is-" Sadie cut Halt off before he could keep telling her things she already knew.
"Dad, I know what I'm doing- I have ridden a Ranger horse before." With a nod from Halt, Sadie flicked the reins lightly and began trotting around the clearing. As she turned from time to time in her saddle to see how far she had gone, we saw the huge bright smile lighting up her face. I couldn't help but smile myself.
Sadie and Sage trotted around the area for a bit before they stopped for a moment. Sadie looked down at her horse, smiled, and flicked the reins again. They shot forward and ran off. I stared open mouthed as the two ran around excitedly. I pulled on my reins making Storm go backward a little and ran after her. Will followed, jumping on Tug and all together we ran around like the wind.
Written by: Nerida Treaty