The Lord of the Rogue

Kassi of Stone Mountain

Disclaimer: Why is the sky blue? Why are people either right-handed or left-handed? Why can't I own all of Tamora Pierce's work?

A/N: First off, I'm going to apologize for this idiotic piece of metal called a computer. In the last chapter, whenever I type Rogue, it would convert it to Rouge. Gah... anyways, sorry for that and keep reviewing! It's so nice to know people like my writing!

And for all who asked, camp was... I can't even describe it. Incredible. Amazing. Absolutely incredibly amazing. I had THE coolest counselor, Marci, and although the girls in my cabin were kinda snobby, the guys were (surprisingly) really nice and fun. Plus Noc and Swanny and Pooka all live near me. Yes, the guys had weird nicknames, but at least there's an explanation for all of them. So although you had to wait an extra week for this update, it was totally worth it to me. And thanks to all who said they hoped I had fun at camp.

chicken-puffs – Thanks!

ApErSoNiNrEvErEnCe – Oh my gosh, thank you for pointing that out... I thought, "But that's how I wrote it!" and then I checked... my idiot computer converted the word rogue to rouge. Thanks so much... and now I feel like an idiot. You're not supposed to know exactly what's up with Joren, at least not yet. And I totally agree. Two enemies aren't going to start sleeping together for no reason whatsoever. And no, I will NOT share with Nolee... she can have anyone EXECPT Joren. Of course, he was hers first and then I stole her fief... but whatever. Thanks for the review!

Imperfectionist ;D – Hmm... interesting idea there... nah, I'm not going to tell you guys what's happening. I'm too mean for that. And no, keep your evil threatening notes away from me! LOL, thanks. Oh, and did you know that Nolee's decided that your name is now 'Imperfecty'? Just thought you'd like to know...

Nolee of Stone Mountain – Aw, c'mon. I've been waiting to get away from my parents and go to camp all summer, so shut up. And I had a great time. So ha. And I never, EVER said Wyldon was sexy... -shudders- Joren is, though. Which is why he's mine. And I'm afraid of those anon. reviews for a reason. Did you know that a few people actually e-mailed me to tell me to take them down? Oh, and 'Imperfecty'? Where did that come from? O.o Yes, 'tis the face. Deal with it. And Imperfectionist and Miranda were perfectly justified in saying what they did. You? Perfect? Umm... excuse me while I go into hysterics. –cough- Oh, and by the way, it's called a palindrome. I don't care if you saw two Neal/Joren guys, because I am living next to Joren's twin. And if you want another review, you can start by not calling me an evil hag in the same sentence, okay? Bah, I think you got the award for the longest answer... ever... evil Nolee. One of these days I'm going to find a way to block your reviews, just to annoy you y'know that?

oceanspike – Thanks! Gods, is it just me or is Nolee incredibly demanding? I mean, look at how long it takes me to answer her review... -sighs- I hope you kept annoying her for me while I was at camp.

Pacem – I was nervous at first, when you said that was the worst chapter... LOL. I'm so glad you got a username! Can't wait to read some of your work.

Alianne of Conte – I'll admit that you're not too far off... but that's not quite it, either. :D I'm going to wait a bit longer to add some romance, but it will eventually get to that point.

sleepy.cat.zzz – Interesting pen name... thanks!

Alenor – I'm glad you like it!

PsychoLioness13 – Erm... I did remember that fief being mentioned, but I didn't remember that he was related... gah, give me something else that I have to work in, why don't you? :P And you'll have to work out what's wrong with Joren yourself... hey, I know, I'm not going to tell ya!

DragonDaine – Aww, thanks for adding me to your fav. stories list!

MysticMoonEmpress – Thank you!

Lynsi – A new reviewer! I love the spelling of your name, by the way - very unique and original. Hmm... I have a story that needs a good name... would you permit me to borrow yours? And of course I don't want you to die from lack of updates! Thanks for the wonderful review!

dracorium – Another new reviewer... thanks!

The Weaving Wheel – Gah, you're probably right... aww, thanks!

BloodyRayne – Wow, another new reviewer... I feel so loved... -bows down to 'the shiny'- There, I updated.

SunMoon,EarthSky – I've had so many reviews for this chapter... you guys are so awesome! And I have to add that you are really quite close to the plot... thanks for the review!

DaughterofDeath – Here's your update...

Leafsea – Thanks!

For All Readers:

In case you have never come across what happens to be one of the funniest websites out there, let me introduce you to The Evil Overlord List. This list was compiled by Peter Anspach, and it is titled 'The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord'. One of my favorites, which definitely applies to almost every K/J fic, is number 98:

'If an attractive young couple enters my realm, I will carefully monitor their activities. If I find they are happy and affectionate, I will ignore them. However, if circumstances have forced them together against their will and they spend all their time bickering and criticizing each other except during the intermittent occasions when they are saving each others' lives at which point there are hints of sexual tension, I will immediately order their execution.'

The URL is on my profile, as it won't show up here. Anyways, it's a good read and (in my opinion) worth your time. Okay, enough of me... here's the update.

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Joren wandered along the crowed streets, trying to regain control of his emotions. A quiet inner voice sneered, What emotions?, but he ignored it, angrily kicking at a stone on the packed dirt. He was Lord Joren of the Stone Mountain fief. He cared for no one and nothing. Especially not the Yamani Lump or any of those tavern wenches.

"Joren!"

He jerked around. Kel was calmly walking towards him. "Joren, dear, wait for me," she said, a small pout on her face.

Not caring what anyone thought, he openly glared at her. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

Keladry shrugged and continued to walk beside him. "Didn't want you doing anything drastic," she said coolly. "I wasn't sure if you would be able to control yourself after that outburst."

The other knight opened his mouth, about to reply scathingly, then quickly shut it and pulled Kel into the nearby alley. "Listen," he breathed in her ear.

Straining her ears, Kel heard a man's rough, uneducated speech float through the air. "Aye, there be a couple at th' Dagger from Tortall. What you be wantin' with 'em?"

Kel gasped softly, and Joren shoved his hand against her mouth. Keladry was certain that the voice belonged to the tavern keeper, Bill.

"Why are they here?" This voice was much unlike the first. It had a soft, fluid tone, and Kel suspected that this man had had a thorough education.

"Dunno. They's to be married soon, least that be what the little whore says to me."

Kel and Joren heard a hard thumping noise. "Don't you speak of Nolee that way again," the younger man said dangerously. "If you hadn't beat her senseless as a child, she wouldn't be as terrified of a raised hand now."

Remembering the maid's reaction to Kel's inquiry about the incident in the stables, Keladry stiffened. No wonder the other woman was afraid of her father.

"I'll be going now. Don't interfere with any of my plans. As long as all seems well, I see no reason to bother those Tortallans... but I advise you not to trust them." A cloak swished through the air and brisk footsteps began to echo in their direction.

Looking around frantically, Kel saw no alcove or place to hide. She was about to tell Joren to run when she felt his cold hand jerking her chin up to meet his lips.

Fire spread throughout Kel's body. This is wrong, she tried to remind herself. This is Joren, not Neal or Dom or, or... a tingling sensation raced down her arms and legs, then met again in the pit of her stomach. Kel lost all control of her thoughts and surrendered herself to Joren. She dimly heard those same boots passing by and fading into the distance, but she didn't care. The burning sensation in her abdomen increased, and she shivered slightly.

They stood there for another minute before Joren yanked away and spat on the ground. Regaining her senses, Kel glared furiously at him. "What in the Black God's name was that?"

"I kissed you, Mindelan," he replied sourly. "Or haven't any of your other lovers wanted to touch their lips to yours?" He shook his head, trying not to think of the unexpected effect Kel had had on him. As soon as he straightened, he felt something hard and painful sting his cheek.

Grabbing her wrist, he shoved her backwards. "What was that for?" he snarled.

"For kissing me," she shot back.

Grinding his teeth, he looked upwards. "Gods, Mindelan, for what reason would I kiss you other than to escape notice?"

Kel colored slightly. "We could have run."

"We wouldn't have made it," he informed her. A slight smirk appeared on his face. "I wouldn't say that you had the right to complain."

"What?"

"Oh, come off it, Mindelan, you enjoyed that."

"You arrogant bastard! I did not!"

Joren leaned forward, and Kel back towards the wall. "Then why were you trembling?" he asked, his face inches from hers.

Kel tore her gaze from his eyes and studied the dirt. "It's cold out," she muttered defensively. "Hurry up, I want to get back to the tavern." She slid away from Joren and began to quickly stride back to the main street.

Joren allowed himself to stand there for another moment. Why the hell did I do that? He wondered.

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Both Keladry and Joren were subdued that evening when they met in the tavern for supper. Kel cleared her throat hesitantly. "Joren? Can we please just – forget about this afternoon?"

He smirked. "There's nothing much to remember, is there?"

Ignoring the barbed insult thrown in, Kel smiled slightly. "Relax," she whispered. "You need to calm down."

Joren was about to reply when a loud crowd of people suddenly flooded into the room, laughing loudly and grinning widely. Kel noted that the women wore revealing dresses and most of the men were clothed in peasant's garb. Her eyes roaming, she noticed that one of the men wore fine garments, nearly as nice as a noble's, and many seemed to be following his movements.

She kicked Joren's foot lightly underneath the table. "That's him," she murmured "Ryan."

Joren nodded slightly. "I thought he wasn't going to arrive until tomorrow."

"Well, he's here now," Kel hissed, exasperated. Obviously, she nearly added, but she didn't quite dare say that to Joren and expect a calm reaction.

Kel continued to examine the man from under her eyelashes as he sat down and a maid poured him a tankard of ale. Thankfully, the table he had chosen was fairly close to their own. Almost as soon as the maid had returned to the kitchen, Keladry saw Nolee fly out of the kitchen. Laughing, Ryan stood to embrace her and to give her a passionate kiss. When he returned to his seat, she slid herself on top of him. "I'm so glad you're finally home," the girl murmured.

"We got held up by bandits partway through the trip, but we made surprisingly good time after that," he replied easily. Forgetting her pretense of eating her stew, Kel jerked her head up. She noticed that Joren had done the same. Meeting his eyes, she nodded slightly. Ryan was the man that had been asking Bill about them in the alleyway.

Kel dropped her eyes to her food again, listening carefully. Nolee was laughing over something as she stood. "I'll be back," she promised. "I just need to attend to some of the other patrons as well." She sidled off, her hips swaying enticingly.

Joren leaned closer, as did Kel. "So he's been asking after us," he murmured. "I wonder who alerted him."

"Does it really matter?" Kel wanted to know. "Ryan will be keeping an eye on us. As long as we're careful, we'll be fine."

They were interrupted by Nolee. Flashing them a smile, she said, "I'm sorry, I was busy. More supper? Drink?" At their refusal, she whisked away their empty plates, thanking them.

Through quiet observation, Kel noticed that the other rogues treated Ryan as a true lord or noble. They lowered their voices when he spoke and offered him the finest of the food brought from the kitchens.

"Keladry?"

Kel turned to look at her 'beloved'. "Yes, dearest?"

He raised one eyebrow slightly. "Would you care to accompany me on a walk?"

Catching his signal, Kel agreed. Once they were outside and well away from the Silver Dagger, Joren turned to her and said briskly, "One of us needs to get closer to him, and my offer of friendship would not be nearly as... enticing as what you could offer him."

Keladry glared at the other knight. "Are you suggesting I seduce him?"

Joren smirked. "Why not? You told me yourself that he'd slept with every woman that came through there, and I'm sure you'd appreciate it, after being gone so long from your other lovers."

Cursing to herself silently, Kel had to pause to control her anger. Aloud, she said mildly, "I'm engaged, Stone Mountain, or had you forgotten?"

He snorted. "So?"

She struggled with words, knowing that what he said was true. "It's not... proper. I don't care if I'm a merchant, I'm not willing to ruin the reputation I've built here."

Joren shrugged. "Fine." He turned and began to return to the tavern.

It wasn't like Joren to give up like that, and Kel knew it. "What are you doing?" she asked warily.

"I'm going back to our room to write a report to Myles. I feel that he ought to know you aren't willing to do what's necessary for this mission."

Grinding her teeth, Kel ran to catch up. Grabbing his tunic, she stopped him. "Listen, Stone Mountain, I'm not about to lose my virginity to a thief unless there is no other possible solution."

Joren smirked. "That would only apply if you were still a virgin, Mindelan." She didn't answer, and the expression on his face changed. "But – you can't be - gods, you're serious, aren't you?"

Her cheeks were becoming steadily redder. "At least I don't lie down and spread my legs for every man I see! You've slept with every lady at Court, not to mention the Lower City!"

He rolled his eyes skyward. "I'm pretending to be engaged to my worst enemy, not to mention sharing a bed with her every night, and she's a virgin. Can this get any more ironic?"

"I'm not sleeping with Ryan," Kel said stubbornly.

"Fine," Joren snapped. "But if nothing else works, you'll have to." He stood and resumed walking back to the tavern.

Kel remained where she was. Well, at least he doesn't think I'm a slut anymore, she though humorlessly. Sighing, she tugged at her dress and followed him.

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When they had returned, the thieves were still seated at the same table. Kel noted with disgust that many were drunk, and she noticed that not only were there less thieves, there were less maids bustling around.

Ryan, however, was still sober. Kel had the feeling that he knew the dangers of getting drunk and that he would refrain from consuming too much ale. There goes one idea, she thought grimly. It would have been so simple if we had only caught him alone when he had had one drink too many.

Nolee had returned to her former position and was leaning against Ryan. Kel observed that the pair was holding a whispered conference, interrupted by frequent kisses and touches.

Kel kicked Joren slightly underneath the table. He jerked to attention. "What?"

"What did I tell you about leaving the maids alone?" Kel asked in an exasperated tone. "You're a reputable man from the merchant class who is betrothed. Not that any of that's true, particularly the reputable part."

Joren rewarded her with a sneer. "My reputation is far better than yours, Mindelan."

She smiled slightly. "I'm not a slut and I'm the first Lady Knight after the Lioness. Explain how my reputation is ruined."

The other knight leaned over and spat on the floor. "Your precious Lioness did sleep her way to her knighthood, even if you didn't." Kel didn't reply. "Surely you knew that," he said bemusedly. "She started sleeping with her knightmaster – who, I might add, happened to be our very own King Jonathan – when she was still his squire."

"I know," Kel replied evenly. "She also surpassed all the physical tests and the Chamber. And she wasn't on probation." Joren thought he detected a hint of bitterness in that last part, but you could never be quite sure with Kel.

A commotion behind them drew their attention back to their surroundings. A tavern brawl had broken out, and the men were knocking over tables and splashing ale on the floor. The splintering of wood could be heard over their yells.

Within moments Ryan had stood and strode over to the men. He roughly grabbed one of the men by the shoulder and thrust him to the side. The other man he hauled to the door and threw outside.

Kel watched the man in surprise and a little admiration. Few men were able to break up a fight quickly and effectively without injuring the fighters or getting hurt themselves. The former noble returned to his seat and resumed his conversation as if nothing had happened.

Keladry unsuccessfully tried to suppress a yawn. "I'm so tired, dear. Shall we retire?"

Joren nodded and offered her his arm to stand. Surprised, Kel glanced at him under her lashes. I must remember to let him sleep more, she thought bemusedly. He's too tired to realize what he's doing.

Up in their room, the pair silently prepare for sleep. Kel carefully crawled underneath the covers, trying not to disturb the already sleeping Joren. She too fell asleep in a matter of minutes. Neither was conscious to notice that they were a good deal closer than they usually would be, or that Kel had leaned against Joren, who had his arm around her.

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A/N: So there's a bit of K/J fluff... I can hear several of you mumbling 'About time', but I wanted to wait a bit. I mean, two enemies aren't going to start making out for no reason. The entire smut thing is a bit overused, in my opinion... but if enough of you ask for more sexual tension, I'll consider adding a little. There will definitely be more K/J action in later chapters, I promise.

I have some bad news... actually, a lot of bad news... mother's decided that I spend too much time writing and not enough on my 'social life'. Not that I have one, other than hanging out with the guys, but she doesn't see it that way. So she's severely limited computer access, and it will be taken away once school starts (September 1).

In other words, don't expect frequent updates – at all. I'll try to work on this during study hall, but I won't be able to often. I'm truly sorry, and I'm really upset about it as well. It might be another month before I can update. So until then, please bear with me. You all know that I'll update as much as is possible.

Until next time,

-Kazzy-