written for Goldenlake's (fiefgoldenlake dot proboards dot com) Wyldon Winter

"I would like to talk to you about Keladry of Mindelan," Jonathan says. It is dinnertime. They are in a dining room off of the pages' one, him and the training master. The noise from the boys eating supper in the next room over drifts in. Wyldon can pick out the pitch of Nealan of Queenscove by now perfectly, along with the distinctive cadences of Joren of Stone Mountain. Hard as he listens, though, he is not able to find Keladry's voice within the ruckus, and assumes that she is most likely sitting listening to whatever madness Queenscove is currently spouting, egged on by perhaps Hollyrose and Jesslaw (the hellion).

Wyldon's fingers are wrapped around a goblet filled with mulled wine. He squeezes slightly, enough for his knuckles to whiten, and then releases. "What about Keladry?" he murmurs.

"We need her," the king states. "At this point it would not matter if she were a boy or if she were Carthaki. I need people like her loyal to me."

"And?" The training master lifts his eyes from his plate.

"I do not believe she is loyal to me."

"She is barely a teenage girl," Wyldon points out, the goblet loosely ensconced in his hand. He lifts it to his lips. "I do not know how heavily loyalty to the Crown weighs on her mind yet, except that it is required of her due to her training and therefore if I understand Keladry like I think I am beginning to, she will take it to heart."

"She blames me just as much as she must blame you for the terms of her probation," Jonathan says, his eyes fixed firmly on Wyldon. "I am sure of it. Doubtless by now she's head of why Lady Alanna is not allowed to visit her, and there is nothing in my mind that leads me to suspect she finds you at fault for that. You saw what she did with the bandit attack, how she led that group."

Wyldon acknowledges this with a chilly nod.

"We need commanders," says Jonathan plainly. "The country needs Keladry much more than she needs it." He smiles crookedly, traces a finger around the edge of his wineglass and brings it upwards to tug at his lip. "I believe I am done with this conversation."

"Very well," Wyldon says, and meets his king's gaze. Jon's hand is reaching up and over the table to touch and then trace the pathway of his scar, the trail it makes down his body, the constant reminder that marks him and binds him to the Crown.

"Thayet is away with the Riders," Jonathan says, blue eyes bright against his white shirt. "I trust we will continue this meeting after the meal."

"If I can find the time away from my charges," Wyldon responds. "I will meet you in your study, then, in two bells' time."

"Very good," Jon says. "I shall count on it."

He stands and calls for a servant to clear away the remains of the meal.