Sorry about the disjointed chapter. It was needed even if it doesn't flow as well.

I hope you have enjoyed all the chapters I have posted and I apologise for all my errors. They will be fixed soon.


Chapter 26

"May I see you naginata?" a musical voice asked from behind her. Kel turned round to face her mother. Silently she handed it across. Usually she did not like parting with it but it was her mother in the first place who gave it to her.

Ilane turned it around in her hands, and looked closely at it. Suddenly she looked up peering at Kel. Realisation clear in her eyes.

Kel was not unknown to her mother anymore.

Kel didn't know how to respond. Her feelings were mixed and confusing. In one way she was glad someone knew. It was a relief. However her mother knowing about her secret terrified her. What if her mother turned her in? What if she was made to return home and be arranged for marriage? What if she was made to go to the convent? Kel's possible futures passed in front of her eyes.

Yuki watched the scene from a distance, concerned for her friends interaction with her mother. Princess Shinkokami and Lady Haname were distracted by correcting the Queen's technique, neither of them realising the momentous moment that was occurring.

Kel calmed her emotions and shook her head and whispered so only her mother could hear.

"Please don't. I will visit your house in the city this evening"

Ilane nodded and turned to Yuki "Do you fancy a spar?"

The day passed in a blur. Kel was distant and did everything robotically and the people around her were disoriented with her behaviour. So much so that Sarge pulled Kel aside.

"You are not yourself" Sarge said bluntly

"I am fine" Kel replied.

"Take the afternoon off and come back to training tomorrow. You are in no fit state to train"

Kel opened her mouth to argue but was cut off by Commander Buri who had overheard the conversation.

"Listen to your commanding officer. You are to take the afternoon off and get your head back in the zone. You have been training non stop"

Kel started to protest again

"I heard the Queen has recruited you for her pig sticker group and you are already ahead in training. Take a break. That is an order" Buri said in a scary commanding tone.

Kel nodded in submission and headed back to the barracks.

"What are you all gawking at. Back to work recruits" Sarge boomed.

Kel used the baths and changed into a clean shirt and breeches before heading into the city of Corus. It was only early afternoon but Kel was hoping her mother had already returned to the family's dwelling. She needed to sort this out as soon as she could. Kel could not continue with her training until she knew what her mother had planned.

Kel scaled the wall to the house and into her mothers room. Kel was worried slightly that her parents didn't have better security. Her mother was sitting on an armchair reading a book. There was no other servant or person in sight

"Mama" Kel whispered. Her mother's head shot up in surprise.

"Kel" Ilane responded emotion thick in her voice. She dropped the book and swept Kel up into a hug.

It was a long time before Kel and her mother were able to let go of each other. It had been a long five years since they last saw each other.

"Are you alright? Where have you been? Is that you coming home now?"

Kel led her mother back over to the seats and started to explain.

"I can't come home yet. I want to be a rider"

"But you can come home and do that"

"No. I want it under my own merit. Without scrutiny or judgment." Kel said with emotion thick in her voice.

Ilane nodded accepting the fact. "I assume you do not want me to tell your father"

'You can as long as he tells no one else. I wont make you lie to your husband"

Ilane sighed in relief and Kel continued,

" I have been training and exploring Tortall for the past few years with some companions. I am not saying anymore as I am not at liberty to. But they became like family to me. What happened when I left? How is Mindelan? Papa? Anders?"

Ilane smiled "That is all I wanted .For you to be happy. First of all..."

They talked for the rest of the afternoon until a knock at the door sounded and before the door opened Kel was out the window and away into the night.

The relief of seeing her mother after all these years, and be able to embrace her brought up emotions Kel had subdued for years. Tears began to stream from Kel's face in relief and happiness. Kel kept walking oblivious to the people around her giving her odd looks until she found herself in front of the Great Mother Goddess' temple. Submitting her weapons to the guard, Kel made her way to a pew, knelt and prayed. Thanking the Goddess for her family and for reflection.

"Dree" a timid voice called out to her as she left the temple. Kel turned around to see the shy palace maid.

"Lalasa. How are you?" Kel replied with a smile.

" I am good. I have just finished collecting some new fabrics" Lalasa replied quietly

"Got a new project?" Kel asked

Lalasa's eyes brightened as she started to describe her new dress and both of them headed back to the palace leisurely. Kel was surprised at how much Lalasa changed when dressmaking was involved. The shy young maid turned into an enthusiastic confident woman.

When they got to the crossroads where they both needed to head in different directions, Kel turned to Lalasa and asked

"Do you know much about Yamani fashion?"

"I know a bit. All the ladies are starting to wear similar styles"

"Would you be interested in a new project?"

"Yes" Lalasa replied cautiously

Kel smiled.

When Kel made it back to the barracks she was bombarded by her female friends.

"Where have you been?"

"Are you all right?"

"You are far too lucky!"

"I am so jealous you got to miss training. I am in so much pain right now!"

Kel laughed and then said "Don't worry I am fine and it has all been sorted. I am not lucky. I work hard and it is a good thing to be in pain after training. Any more questions?"

"Are you sure you are alright?" Rowan asked. Kel smiled, her heart warmed at her friends concern and replied

"Yes and by the way, I have thought of something we can do at the Beltane celebration."

Well I hope you have all enjoyed these chapters. They will be edited soon enough by my fantastic Beta. I just really wanted to post them. I have been reading some great Tamora Pierce Fanfics and it has really got me back in the spirit of writing. Either that or I really want to procrastinate.

Sorry I am rambling.

Hopefully the next chapter wont take too long to write and upload.