He looked up as the party emerged and nickered a soft hello to his master, who was dressed in an unfamiliar green cloak and had dirt plastered on his face. Halt glanced at him, brow furrowed, and silently mouthed the words 'shut up'. Abelardshook his mane, which was as close as a horse could come to shruging, and turned away.'My horse recognized me,' Halt said accusingly out of the side of his mouth to Horace.Horace glanced at the small shagging horse, standing beside his own massive battlehorse.'Mine didn't,' he replied. 'So that's a fifty-fifty result.''I think I'd like odds better than that,' Halt replied.Horace suppressed a grin. 'Don't worry. He can probably smell you.''I can smell myself,' Halt replied acerbically. 'I smell of tea and soot.'Horace thought it was wiser not to reply to that.
But what if I make a mistake?' Will asked.Gilan threw back his head and laughed. 'A mistake? One mistake? You should be so lucky. You'll make dozens! I made four or five on my first day alone! Of course you'll make mistakes. Just don't make any of them twice. If you do mess things up, don't try to hide it. Don't try to rationalize it. Recognize it and admit it and learn from it. We never stop learning, none of us.
George!' [Horace] said, the relief evident in his voice. 'Are you all right?''No! I am not!' George replied with considerable spirit. 'I have a whacking great arrow stuck through my arm and it hurts like the very dickens! How could anybody be all right in those circumstances?'...'You saved my life, George,' Horace said gently...George grimaced. 'Well, if I'd known it was going to hurt like this, I wouldn't have! I would have just let them shoot you! Why do you live this way?' he demanded in a high-pitched voice. 'How can you bear it? This sort of thing is very, very painful. I always suspected that warriors are crazy. Now I know.
What was that, Kurokuma?' asked one of the escorts riding near him. The others chuckled at the name.'Nothing important,' Horace said. Then he looked at them suspiciously. 'What's this Kurokuma business?'The Senshi looked at him with a completely staight face.'It's a term of great respect,' he said. Several others within earshot nodded confirmation. They too managed to remain straight-faced. It was a skill the Nihon-Jan had perfected.'Great respect,' one of them echoed.
Halt eyed them balefully. They were all being so obvious about not mentioning his sudden reappearance that it was even worse than if they had commented on it...'Oh, go on!' he said. 'Somebody say something! I know what you're thinking!''It's good to see you up and about, Halt,' Selethen said gravely...Halt glared at the others and they quickly chorused their pleasure at seeing him back to his normal self. But he could see the grins they didn't quite manage to hide. He fixed a glare on Alyss.'I'm surprised at you Alyss,' he said. 'I expected no better of Will and Evanlyn, of course. Heartless beasts, the pair of them. But you! I thought you had been better trained!'...'Halt, I'm sorry! It's not funny, you're right... Shut up, Will.' This last was directed at Will as he tried, unsuccessfully, to smother a snigger.
How do we get there? How did you get here, by the way?' [Will asked].He heard Halt's deep sigh and knew he'd done it again.'Do you ever,' the older Ranger said with great deliberation, 'manage to ask just one question at a time? Or does it always have to be multiple choice with you?'Will looked at him in surprise. 'Do I do that?' he asked. 'Are you sure?'Halt said nothing. He raised his hands in a 'See what I mean?' gesture...'Halt,' [Selethen said], 'I could be wrong, but I think you were just guilty of the same fault. I'm sure I heard you ask two questions just then.''Thank you for pointing that out, Lord Selethen,' Halt said with icy formality.
Easy climb, Kurokuma. You do it easily.''Not on your life,' Horace said... 'That's what we have Rangers for. They climb up sheer rock walls and crawl along narrow, slippery ledges. I'm a trained warrior, and I'm far to valuable to risk such shenanigans.''We're not valuable?' Will said, feigning insult.Horace looked at him. 'We've got two of you. We can always afford to lose one,' he said firmly.