~*~*~

A/N  Fanfic is finally online, and in the duration I've managed to write more on every single one of my fics!  That's pretty good, especially for me!  I'm afraid this fic is finished now, and there will only be a sequel if I get both inspiration and reviews (hint, hint).  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you view it), that won't be until I've finished 'Worthy Adversaries' and 'Worthy Friends.'  But, I have done a good deal of work on both.  As I've said countless times, I'm moving very soon, and I won't have a chance to write or put up fanfiction for quite a while.  This is the last chapter in my ECBASS story, and I will put my usual thankyous in a separate chapter, when I have time (which I'm seriously short of at the moment). I'll finish waffling now… R/R!!!

~Stef

Kel came to Inness and found him alone in his tent, reading a book.  When she cleared her throat, he looked up and grinned at her. 

"Kel!  I haven't seen you in while!  Are you looking for Cleon?"

"No, I came to talk to you, actually," Kel told him, smiling. 

"It's been a while!" He put his book down and stood up, his head brushing the top of the tent, as Kel's was.  They were the same height.  In a moment of un-Yamani-like spontaneity, Kel hugged him, and Inness hugged back.  Then they both sat, and Inness grinned at Kel. 

"So how're you doing?" he asked her.  "I haven't seen you since the examinations.  Happy you got Raoul as a knight-master?"

"Very," Kel told him, settling down in her seat.  "I'd actually been hoping that he would pick me, to tell the truth, even though I knew he hasn't had a squire for ages.  Thanks for coming to the examinations, by the way."

"You did well.  Would you like a drink?" He asked.  Kel would, but Cleon would feel very uncomfortable serving her, so she told him no.  "You did well with those unicorns today.  Everyone was awed… not least myself.  Our parents will be very proud."

"We're stopping by Mindelan, aren't we?" Kel asked, to change the subject as much as anything else.  He chuckled, seeing through her tactic, but went along with her anyway.

"Yes, that was one of the reasons why I wanted to take this position.  It meant working with the Own, but it'll give Cleon experience, and I wanted to visit home.  It's been a while."

"When was the last time you saw everyone?" Kel asked. 

"When they came out to your examinations.  It was nice to see everyone again.  And Adie's betrothed!  What do you think of that?"

They chatted for a while, until the sun went down.  The Cleon came in to ask whether anyone had seen Kel, but stopped when he saw her with his knight-master. 

"You're friends with my sister, aren't you Cleon?" Inness asked. 

Kel and Cleon shared a smile.  "Yes, we're friends." Cleon told him.  "Actually, the men are all eating dinner, but we, Roald and I, missed Kel, so Raoul sent me to find her, sir," Then he turned to Kel, "He's pretty worried." 

Inness nodded his head.  "I should have come, but Kel and I were preoccupied," he grinned at his little sister, "We'll come now.'

And they left to eat.

It was dark, but Kel, Roald, and Cleon played cards.  There were more four-player games than three, but none of them felt inclined to invite Joren to join them.  After Kel had won four games, Roald three, and Cleon none, they decided that they had had enough.  Roald, not wanted to face Joren and the prospect of another argument, went to sit closer to the fire and hear the tale of a battle a few weeks ago.  Cleon and Kel went back to their tent.

They changed (each turning his/her back while the other was changing) for bed, and then talked for a bit. 

"I'm so glad you got back in one piece!  Do you know how worried I was?" Cleon asked her. 

"You've already said that three times!" Kel told him, amusement in her voice.  "Besides, I couldn't've done anything.  The only reason I'm alive is because of the unicorns' mercy."

"And because you were honest and noble.  Unicorns can be persuaded by only unselfish truth."

Kel shrugged noncommittally move in closer to him.  Cleon sighed and wrapped his arms around her.  "One day you won't be able to shrug out of recognition.  You deserve it!"

"I'll cross that bridge when I come to it."

They were both asleep half an hour later.

The next day, they were up early again.  Kel began her daily glaive practice, and Cleon requested she teach him.  So Kel made a deal: she would teach him in the evenings, and he would practice in the mornings, with her.  On the journey north, it became routine.  Roald would do staff and sword exercises each morning, and Cleon and Kel would do their glaive work.  It was hard for Cleon, he had to unlearn the ways of the staff before beginning on the glaive, but he wanted to learn and there was an improvement.  Kel doubted if he would be as good as Shinko, or even her mother, but he would be good. 

Their first stop, for one day, was at Blue Harbour.  The Own was allowed two weeks to reach the Scanran border, so they wouldn't arrive weary, so Raoul allowed them to travel at an almost leisurely pace.  At Blue Harbour the Own did most of their shopping for Midwinter, Kel included.  She bought things for her family, which she would give to the servants at Mindelan to give to her family on the appropriate day.  Then Roald excused himself, of the flimsy pretext of having to clean his armour and see to his mending, leaving Kel and Cleon alone.  They spent the rest of the day wandering around together, and Kel enjoyed it thoroughly. 

The next day they were off again, it would be four days to Mindelan.  When they arrived at Mindelan, the Own was given a warm welcome, and Kel and Inness an even warmer one by the family.  They all ate together in the main hall, a meal prepared by the Mindelan chefs.  The next day, Raoul gave the squires off, and would be spent at Mindelan.  Kel immediately showed her friends all around the Mindelan property, Joren having disappeared after breakfast.  She showed them where she had fought the spidrens, and all of her favourite haunts, before Kel's nieces and nephews found them and demanded to be played with.  A good many piggyback-rides later, Kel, Cleon, and Roald snuck away to amuse themselves until dinner, not a long time. 

Afterwards, Raoul found Kel and told her that it was time for her to learn to joust against real opponents. 

"Against you, sir?" Kel asked despite herself.  Raoul was, well, big

"Yes, against me," Raoul told her.  "Of course, once you've got it figured, we'll give you a try against other knights and squires, but first, you learn with me."

"I'll try, sir." Kel told him, not a quiver in her voice.  Joust with Raoul?  As Neal would have put it, she might as well lie down in front of an elephant!  But, if she did learn to beat Raoul, other opponents would seem easy.  Raoul was very, very good.  Yes, she would try. 

A few minutes later, in the field, seeing Raoul charge at her, she nearly changed her mind.  But this was what squiring was all about!  Kel went flying.  It didn't surprise her.  Twenty minutes, and ten times that in bruises, later, Kel was dismissed to bathe and sleep.  Two minutes out of her bath, and there was a knock on her door.  Kel hastily put on her tunic, and called out, "I'll be right there!"

She opened the door to find Cleon, grinning at her. "Glaive lessons?" he asked her.

"Do you mind if we skip them tonight?" Kel asked him plaintively.  "I've just been jousting with Lord Raoul."

"With Lord Raoul!  And you're not in the infirmary!  Wow, Kel!  Are you okay?"

"Just about," Kel told him, smiling slightly.  "Why don't you search out my mother.  No, I'll find her for you, and then I'm going to bed." 

Kel walked, trying not to limp, to find her mother.  Ilane was in her bedroom, reading, when Kel knocked and came in. 

"Mama, could you help us, please?"

"What can I do, Kel?  And Cleon?" Ilane asked, smiling pleasantly.  Her smile turned to a frown, however, when she saw Kel's bruises.  "Goddess, Kel!  What happened to you?"

"Jousting with my lord," Kel told her.  Seeing her mother's face, she added, "It's okay!  It's part of squiring lessons, I need to know it!  But I was wondering… I'm trying to teach Cleon the glaive.  He's doing pretty well, but you're much better than me, could you show him more?"

So Ilane took Cleon in, watching him do the things Kel had taught him. 

"Not bad, for only a few weeks.  You'll need to practice a few of the basic patterns, but your footing and hold of the weapon is good.  What about if I do this?" Ilane said.  Suddenly, she lunged at Cleon, who found himself falling.  Kel watched with apprehension… it was a test all the teachers used, to find how their pupils would respond, but ultimately, whether they would drop the weapon.  Cleon didn't.  He rolled, stood up immediately, and held the glaive in the 'ready' position.  Ilane smiled approvingly.

"Good!  Squire training is paying off.  I'm glad Kel has found someone willing to learn and adept his ways, with an open mind.  It's a good trait in a prospective husband." Ilane smiled wickedly, and sat back to watch both Kel and Cleon go red. 

She grinned more broadly as neither of them could find anything to say.  "Go on, shoo.  Oh, and Kel, come and talk to me before you leave!"

"I will, Mama," Kel promised, her face still red.  And as Cleon had gone through the door, she looked back and said, "and that last was mean!"

"I know, dear.  Just doing a mother's duty!"  Kel felt like sticking her tongue out, but settled for a Yamani face, and in Yamani,

"It wasn't appreciated!" Before relaxing, smiling, and closing the door behind her.

~*~*~

A/N Well, I'm going to write a sequel, once I get everything else in my life sorted out.  That includes finished Worthy Adversaries (give it a week), posting a new L/J (take about 2 weeks), and then I'll start on this one.  With one thing and another, hope for this in about a month or so, when I'll also begin sequels to 'A Different Story' and I might even start a Snape/Hermione.  We'll see.  Anyway, here are my thankyous, as promised, even if they are slightly late:

Chloë/Words of Wonder:  What can I say?  Thanks for reading this even though I know you hate Kel/Cleon (No, it's not as wrong as Roger/Faithful, as you might be about to see…).  Thanks for unofficially beta-ing it for me, thanks for being encouraging, thanks for reviewing every chapter, thanks for being there.  :D No, I won't go all sappy- this time.  I admit some of this was sappy, and that's no reason to get all smirky!  I try!  Ooh, and thanks very much for you Raoul praise… characterisation is so hard for me!  Thankyou for everything!!

Squire Kali:  Thanks for your reviews!  I'm glad you haven't forgotten me, even though this one can't be Kel/Joren.  It just wouldn't fit.  I am, however, thinking of a sequel to Journeys and Horses… but a long time in the future. 

FlyingFire:  Evil is fun!!  But thanks for your review, and I hope the rest of the story satisfied you.  :D

Mandarin  Huntress:  Thankyou!!!  I'm sorry, no Kel/Neal is going to be coming, and I doubt it'll come in any other story I write, except the ones I co-write with Chloë.  If you want a Kel/Neal, I suggest you check us out at Oxymorons. 

Princess Sanidaylene:  Thanks!  I really have tried to make my characters constant… characterisation is one of my weak points, though.  I did consider making Kel not be a virgin, but it just didn't seem right.  It would have been funny, though… *sigh* Anyway, thanks for your reviews!!

Glaivegirl:  Thanks!!!  I love praise!!!  :D

Lilnotrightinthehead:  Thanks!  Sorry about my erratic chapter postings… but that's just kinda the way I right.  Anyway, hope you like what I did to Joren (well, he was asking for it!).

SailorCheron:  Thankyou!!!  I'm really glad you like it!  *Grin*

Penfin:  Thanks!  I'm not going to stop writing anytime soon… torturing characters is fun~

Someone:  Thankyou!!  I have absolutely no desire to change the Kel/Cleon pairing.  Who needs Neal or Dom, anyway?? 

Katie:  Thankyou.  I know it has flaws… but I'm pleased you liked it regardless!  Thanks.

Rogue:  Yes, the Kel sleeping with Joren had crossed my mind… maybe in a sequel?  I was thinking of doing something along those lines… like if Roald isn't there when… oops.  Giving away idea again.  :D  Thankyou for your reviews!!

Theo:  Thanks!  I tried… hope you liked the ending!

Emily:  Thankyou!  K/C forever!!!

Kalika:  Thanks!!  I'm really happy you liked it!  My humour is generally unseen by most people…  and thanks for sticking with the story, too!  Roald needs some attitude, I agree!  :D

Tiffie101:  Thankyou for all your reviews!  I'm considering have a Kel/Joren tent episode sometime in my sequel… yes, I will write a sequel, but until then, you'll have to wait.  But leave out a really interesting chapter idea?  Never!!  The reason I ended it the way it was, was so that if I didn't write a sequel, it was pretty open-ended, but you all knew that a) Kel would probably marry Cleon, and b) she wouldn't have any trouble from her parents.  But you're right, more would be preferable, and I'm working on it.  Slowly… it might be a while in coming.  Thanks for your constructive review, and I'm definitely thinking about what you suggested!

DeadlyBlackRose:  Ooh, I love being evil!!!  Mwahahaha!!!  Well, I wrote more, so hopefully avoided your torture, plus all the other death threats I've been getting.  :D  Thanks for reviewing! 

Ahiruchan:  Your wish is my command *bow*  I hope the rest was satisfactory!

Melissa:  Thankyou sooo much!  You've been added to my emailing list… and I hope you liked the ending!

QueenoftheWorld:  Thankyou!  Parts of it were meant to be like Squire- if some actions weren't similar, then the characters wouldn't seem right somehow… so yeah.  Thanks!

pen master:  Oh yeah!  K/C rule!!!  Thanks!

Cai – Dragon Saviour:  Good thing I wrote more, then! Thanks for your review, I really hope you liked the ending!

The Angel:  Thanks!  I've been trying…

Sunkissed643:  Um, mushy fluff?  Um… uh… I'll try?  My mush is kinda, well, not mushy.  Hey, I'll try!  I promise.  :D  Thanks for reviewing!

Hollie:  Thankyou, but I beg to differ.  Alanna is called both 'Sir Alanna' and 'Lady Alanna' depending on the occasion in the books, and (I think) sometimes even both.  Anyways, thanks!