written for a challenge on fiefgoldenlake dot proboards dot com! Go check it out :D

"Your majesty, I am honored deeply by your offer, but I thought you would want Prince Roald to be your squire." The king is sitting in Lord Wyldon's office, but Zahir is standing. He has not been invited to sit yet, but it is acceptable. His hands, lying loosely at his sides, are clenched.

"I will not be taking my son for my squire," the king replies, deep voice resonant and slightly amused. "I would like you for my squire. I truly believe you will serve me well."

"Thank you," Zahir responds, eyes darting to the door. "Sire, I feel as if I must accept, but- I would like some time to think upon it first."

"Take all the time you need," Jon had said, but Zahir knows he must answer soon. His family back in the desert will be honored by this. To be the squire of not only the king, but the Voice of the Tribes- that is true recognition indeed, and his family and tribe will be the better for it.

And yet. To be the squire of the Voice... it crosses almost into uncomfortable territory, to be that close to a man of that stature. Giants are clearly giants when they are far away, are they not? Up close, the details could be the difference.

Besides, Zahir wouldn't want to take Roald's father away from him.

"Of course my father's asked me," Roald says, idly turning the page of a book of Yamani poetry. Zahir recognizes it as one that Page Keladry has lent to the Crown Prince. "I turned him down."

"I'm sorry?" Zahir leans back in his chair. "You turned him down?"

"I wouldn't be able to do it. Lord Imrah of Legann's asked me. I think Uncle Gary had a word with him. That'll suit me much better. If I'm with my father too much I'll turn into him, and I would never want that to happen." Roald shrugs. "But you should be fine. He likes you."

"He does?"

"Of course. He thinks you're worthy, that's why he's asked." Roald smiles at Zahir. "You should say yes."

King Jonathan finds Zahir two days after the first initial meeting. "Have you considered my offer fully?" the king inquires gently, blue eyes inquisitive.

"I have, your majesty." Zahir gulps. "I would like to accept your offer to be your squire."

"Excellent." Jonathan clasps his hand and shakes it. Zahir returns the gesture, feeling a little shell-shocked. "I'm glad. We'll have to set you up with rooms in the Royal Wing, and you will of course need to know all your new duties. I'm afraid I'll have to turn over some parts of your instruction- for example, I haven't jousted in years."

"Yessir," Zahir says, and follows him out of the pages' wing.

"We do need to talk about the conditions of squirehood," Jonathan says seriously. "I would like to know what happened between you and Page Keladry. Lord Wyldon has told me there were more fights than normal her first year, and I am aware of the perpetrators Zahir."

"That is finished, your majesty." Zahir's throat is dry as sand. He wonders if Joren knows that these important people know of his trouble-making.

"Is it?" An stern, inquisitive stare is fixed firmly on him. "You must be positive."

"I am positive," Zahir repeats. "I may not agree with the Girl- with Keladry's place, but I believe she has adequately proved herself worthy to serve."

"Very good," Jon says finally. "That is all that I ask, that you be open. Now. Let's find you a horse."

"Roald turned you down," Zahir says en route to the stables. "He told me so himself, if you'll excuse my saying so, sire."

"This is true," Jonathan responds. "But I had been considering you since some time before my son refused my offer. I might bow to tradition when it is fitting, but I also recognize that Tortall must have a future with the Bazhir."

"And so you picked me."

"Yes, and so I picked you." Jon carefully steps over a crack in the cobblestones. "You will be a Bazhir knight. I believe that has the potential for great things."

"Thank you, your majesty," Zahir murmurs.