Kel looked at her reflection in the mirror to make sure there was no sign that she had wept. Even though her hazel eyes were puffy they were still wary of her surroundings like a hawk on the prowl. The dreamy eyes kept staring at her door and back at her packed trunk where all her belongings laid. She went to the window to get some fresh air when one of her many sparrows flew onto her shoulder.

The bird tilted its head in question to her as if to ask what was wrong. The girl who seemed to comprehend what the little bird asked spoke strongly in a quavering voice.

"I can't stay, he--he wouldn't let me stay, after all the work I have done." With that last comment she scribbled down a few notes to the palace guard and all her friends. As she hoisted her trunk up her strong triceps and biceps flexed without any effort. She ran through the room that had been her home for the last year. The room held so many memories. Without another look back she ran through the halls of the pages' quarters and as she swiftly turned the corner she ran into the person she wanted to see the very least, Joren of Stone Mountain. She tried to get away in vain without making eye contact but was pushed down by him.

"So who was right in the end Lump?" Joren sneered, "I was. You were only a distraction to us men, the real fighters. You should just run home to your mommy and forget about your delusional dream of becoming a warrior. You should go to the convent and become a proper lady. Of course I don't know what good that will do with your tarnished reputation and progressive ways."

"Are you quite done now Joren?" she smiled, as sweetly as any lady would have.

"Yes I believe I am so now you can run home to roll around with all the peasants at your fief." With his last comment made she bowed ironically to the page. She turned with a rigid back to continue on her way out of the palace. She ran until she was out of Corus and started to walk when she saw a secluded stream. She looked upon her reflection with her dreamer's gaze that was hazel with flecks of emerald. Her shortly cropped hair was all mussed from running for so long, but her breathing was only slightly heavy from her vigorous training. She looked upon her bedraggled reflection as she sat in the cold grass to stare upon her reflection.

'I am a peaceful serene lake. Lakes don't have feelings so neither shall I, but lakes can't become knights either.' She thought bitterly, 'so yes that's exactly what I am--a lake.' She sat up from her present thoughts to see that she was wallowing in self-guilt, which was unchivalrous for a knight. Why should she care if it was being unchivalrous, she wasn't a knight. She bitterly thought over what had happened that day that had made her cry uncharacteristically and wallow in self-pity.

((()))((()))((()))((()))((()))((()))

She supposed it probably started around when all the pages were together to feast, in the newly made squires' honor. Kel and her year mates had all just become second year pages, which every one of them had celebrated to the fullest. Especially Neal, her emerald-eyed friend was on a teasing shriek after dumping cold water on her and putting a frog in Lord Wyldon's bed. So now he was putting his energy into causing mischief by sending a piece of luscious chocolate cake towards the cold yet very handsome Joren. The icy blond had walked over to Neal about to cause a scene when she heard Lord Wyldon clear his throat. So Joren settled for a formidable glare.

"Finally some good comes from having the Stump around," Nealan of Queenscove remarked. Everyone, except his teachers and least favorite aunt, called him Neal. Kel could get away with it every once in a while, but that was because she was his best friend. Neal was her only friend at the palace who could see through her best Yamani masks that she used to blind everyone from her emotions.

"Nealan don't think I didn't see that! You will have two bells of cleaning at the armory," called out Lord Wyldon.

"But My Lord how can you do that when this is our last day for nearly three months?" Neal asked angelic features etched onto his face.

Lord Wyldon seemed dumbfounded for a moment and momentarily glanced quickly at Kel. As soon as he saw Kel he had a sad and guilty face. Lord Wyldon snapped his attention back to Neal. "Well Queenscove you are already racking up your spare time for next year then." Lord Wyldon replied just as sweetly. "Oh yes, and Keladry of Mindelan report to my office right after you're done eating your supper."

Kel quickly slid her Yamani mask and took a nervous gulp that she hoped none of her friends had seen. Although she had no such luck.

"Sunshine of my life, what's wrong?" Cleon asked the tall red head's eyes were drowning with sincerity, "You know as well as we do that you'll be staying. You are the queen of the pages and the goddess of mathematical wisdom. "

"Cleon, I have two things to say to that. One I'm not nervous and two I hope I'm the queen of the pages since there aren't any other girls…unless one of you hasn't told me something,"

The quiet black eyed and black haired Seaver quickly put in, "He never asked if you were nervous just asked if something was wrong."

All Kel could do was frown slightly at her astute friend's recognition of her word selection.

She left the hall soon after before anyone else could question her further. She was busy getting ready to see Lord Wyldon when she heard a knock on the door. "Please go away," she replied from the sink. She heard a louder knock and knew that it was Neal. No one else would be that annoyingly persistent.

"Neal please go away." She cried exasperatedly.

"No, what's wrong with you? I'm not leaving till I know." Neal replied stubbornly through the closed door. Kel looked to the ceiling asking the gods if they enjoyed giving her a hard time before opening the door.

"Neal do you even realize why he would send for me at this time of the year?"

"Oh okay let's see I'll guess. Did you put syrup in Joren's hair because that would have gone so well with the cake or did you-"

"Neal I didn't do anything like that," she replied exasperated, "Neal today my probation is up."

"Kel that's great now he won't be able to call you probationary page. So what's wrong?"

"Neal did you even think of the fact that maybe, just maybe, I haven't changed Lord Wyldon's mind at all?"

"Of course not, you can compete with Joren and he's supposed to be the best page in a really long time…I think I heard him say since Kile of Eagle's Point or maybe it was-"

"Okay Neal I get it, you think I'll stay but I still might have to--leave." Kel's mind had dropped her mask and Neal saw the distress that had been hidden from him be revealed before his eyes. He gave her an encouraging hug.

"When you get back from his office we'll go have a party to celebrate." Neal brought his hand to her chin and made her look at him, "I promise." Kel mumbled something incoherent about having to go to Lord Wyldon's office. Before he could protest she had slipped out of the room.

She slowly walked down the pages' hall feeling reluctant to go to her destination. She felt like she was a convict walking up to Traitor's Hill. She had half a mind to turn around when she got to his office, but she told herself she had to go in no matter what. When she looked in Lord Wyldon looked troubled for a reason that Kel couldn't fathom.

"You sent for me, my Lord," she said.

"Sit down Keladry," Lord Wyldon said with a heavy sigh. She sat not wanting to disobey an order even though she would have rather stood.

"Now listen to me. I speak to you as I might to one of my own daughters. Now that you have made your point, consider your future. Soon your body will change. The things you want from life, as a maiden will change. Pursue the course you have, and you might be crippled by an accident." He looked down at his arm and smiled wryly. "What if you fell in love? What if you come to grief, or cause others to do so, because your thoughts were on your heart rather than your duty. This year was the easiest."

'Do you think so? Having boys call you probationer and having you hovering over me whenever I stepped out of line.' Kel asked silently. 'It wasn't your year, was it?' She opened her mouth to retort but was cutoff.

Lord Wyldon raised his hand. "Don't reply now. You have the rest of your life to think about. You are dismissed."

She couldn't believe her ears, had her ears betrayed her? She had to hear him say it. "I can't come back then?"

"No you are to return to your fief immediately. I shall send someone from the palace guard to escort you there. You are dismissed."

Biting back the tears she knew were threatening to come she did a slow bow and walked out with a deliberate pace. She went to her sanctuary where no one would see her mask fall. She landed in a heap on her bed and cried softly to herself until she got herself under control.

I am stone…I am stone…The chant in her head that usually worked so well even when she was getting punched by Joren and his cronies didn't seem to work. She finally gave up and went to wash her tear stained face. She slowly started packing to leave for Mindelan.

Ok well this is my first fanfic so please review so I know how I'm doing and for any suggestions

Edited 7/1/09