Garf jerked the horses onward and into the woods, searching the area as he went, for the campfire which signaled the entrance to Duskwood. He found it a few miles in. He brought the carriage to a stop when he spotted the Rangers keeping guard. There were four of them, resembling your typical travelers for those who didn't possess the eye of a Ranger. They approached the carriage with weapons drawn.
"State your business." One of them said.
Garf called out to Aden. The Ranger stepped out of the carriage to meet his fellow comrades. "Its me, Ranger Aden of Duskwood. "
The Rangers sheathed their swords, apologizing for the misunderstanding and greeted him with open arms. "Welcome back." One said. It was the female of the group. She smiled, recognizing Adan's face. "Its been awhile."
"It truly has." Aden agreed. "My sister and I return with a gift to Master Tolwing."
Sarah followed the Rangers blindly through the woods. She tried to examine her surroundings closely to try and make out where she was, but through the darkness, she was only able to spot trees. She did noticed the odd shapes among the branches though. Something had been built on them. Or was it around them? She wasn't sure. But something did look strange.
Torches in hand, the Rangers walked for about a mile, leading her into a large building. The inside of what Sarah realized was a Mead Hall, was illuminated by wall-torches. At the far end of the hall, slouched on a throne, was a dark and tall man with white semi-long hair. He looked old, around his late fifties, Sarah guessed. No doubt this old man was the leader of this group of Rangers.
To his right, looking much younger, stood a shorter, less intimidating man wearing a gray cloak. He had been saying something to the old man when they walked in. "Master." Aden stepped forward and bowed to the old man on the throne. As did Adria.
"Adria, Aden, my children, you finally return to us." The Master Ranger said, standing from his throne and greeting the siblings with open arms. "It had been so long. And who is this beauty you've brought with you?" He asked, looking at Sarah.
"Sarah." Aden introduced her.
"And where are the Travelers?" Asked the cloaked Ranger. "Or did you take over ten days to bring us a helpless little girl who looks like she hasn't eaten in days?"
"She's one of the Travelers." Said Adria, giving the ranger a scornful look, then to the Ranger Master, she said; "The reason we took so long is because we had to rescue her. She was kidnapped by Vlad before we could introduce ourselves."
"Vlad?" Echoed the Ranger Master. "My brother?"
"Yes." Said Aden.
"And how is he?"
"He serves the Hunters now as one of their lieutenants." Adria said. "I am truly sorry, Master, but we had no choice. We had to fight him to rescue the Traveler. He had taken her to one of their hideouts near Duskwood for interrogations. We couldn't let him have his away..." As Adria told the story, Sarah couldn't help but think of her interrogator: The hooded man. "We fought to kill him." Adria finished.
The Ranger Master got up from his throne and walked up to Adira. He placed a consoling hand on her shoulder and smiled. "I do not blame your decision, child. Although Vlad is my blood brother, he has betrayed us all. Betrayed the Rangers. He has been corrupted by the Hunters and is no longer the man I - We knew. Is he dead then? Has his soul finally been cleansed?"
Adria shook her head. "We wounded him fatally, but he escaped before we could land the final blow."
"Do not trouble yourself with this further, girl." The Master Ranger said. "What's done is done. If he is alive, he has already learned the prowess of the Rangers of Duskwood. Think of the future, not the past. You have brought us a Traveler. Let us revelry in that."
"Thank you, Master."
The Master Ranger walked up to Sarah and looked at her in the eyes. "Sarah, was it?" Sarah nodded. He bowed and introduced himself: "My name is Tolwing, Master Ranger of Duskwood. A pleasure to meet you, Sarah. I know you may have many questions about us, and I shall answer the ones I can. But not tonight. You look hungry and tired. Eat and rest. Tomorrow will be a new day. And do not worry, you are safe here."
Sarah wasn't sure of what to do or say at that moment so she just nodded again. She was glad to be rescued and finally away from those vicious men though. She cried herself to sleep that night. She thought about home, about her parents, and friends. She will not seem them for a long while.