Chapter 36

AN: heh…been awhile hasn't it? chuckles nervously and scratches head, eyeing mob of angry ppl armed with torches and pitchforks Um, before u kill me, pls accept my apologies and give me a head start. takes off running, angry mob follows DON'T FORGET TO REVIEW!!! EEEEEK! gets hit in the face with tomato

To say King Jonathon was a bit mad would be the understatement of the year. When he was told the outcome of the battle, he was so livid, his face turned purple. One of the servants gulped nervously and managed to duck before a letter opener lodged itself in his head. The end quivered a bit and then was still. The same could not be said of the King who was shaking in rage.

"How could she do this to me?!" He let out an anguished howl. "I'm her father! She's supposed to fight for me and protect my Dominion Jewel, not give it up because she's infatuated with some guy! I always knew women shouldn't be soldiers, they're too weak and sentimental," he muttered.

"I'm sorry, Jon, I didn't quite catch that last bit. Care to repeat it?" He gulped and looked towards the door where a certain Lioness and the Queen of Tortall lounged against the doorframe.

"Uh, hello ladies, you two are looking gorgeous as always…um…new shoes?" The two women looked at each other and advanced upon the nervous king after making sure the door was locked.

Two hours later, a bruised king rode out of Fort Myrna and headed for his daughter's camp carrying the Dominion Jewel in his saddle bags. Thayet and Alanna rode after him, smiling gleefully and cracking their knuckles.

The next night, after a meeting between the people who would be going to the negotiations, Kally decided to go for a walk around the perimeter of the camp. She was behind the mess tent when she heard some bushes rustling. Before she could turn around and investigate, a hand clamped over her mouth.

"Relax, it's me." Her eyes widened and she turned around as the person behind her let go. She pushed him into the woods and made sure no one could see them.

"What the hell are you doing here?!" she whispered, furious and worried at the same time. "If you get caught Chris, I'll-" He held up a hand to silence her.

"I know, I know, you'll never speak to me again. Don't worry, no one saw me."

"Why are you here?"

"We need to talk before tomorrow. Did your father agree to turn over the Jewel?"

"Yes, did your father agree to leave Tortall alone once he gets the Jewel?"

"Yeah. Um...I think you should wear a dress tomorrow…"

"A dress?" she asked, staring at him like he grew another head.

"Yeah, you know. A dress. One of those flowing, colorful things court ladies seem to love."

"I know what a dress is!" She snapped. "Why the hell should I wear one? I'm a Shang Warrior, not some cream puff!"

"Gallans are very conservative. I mean, it's hard enough for my father and his advisors to accept the fact that you, a 'mere woman', his words not mine, defeated some of his best fighters. But, a woman wearing breeches, well…that would be a little too much for him to comprehend. He might have a heart attack and I really don't want to become King anytime soon."

Kally groaned. "Do I gotta?" she whined.

"Yes, you gotta. And if the Lioness is coming she'll need to wear a dress too."

"But-"she was cut off by the sound of footsteps and Roald's voice calling her. She glanced back and saw her brother coming through the foliage, eyes widening, she turned towards Chris only to find that he was no longer there. She sighed, shook her head, and went to meet her brother.

The next morning dawned nice and gloomy, resembling Kally's current mood as she mumbled and put her hair up in a twisty, horsetail-type dealio. Thayet came into the tent as she let out a frustrated growl. The queen sighed, rolled her eyes, and walked over to help her daughter with her hair. Alanna walked out from behind the changing screen just as Thayet finished Kally's hair. Thayet clucked her tongue and attacked Alanna's coppery curls.

"The things I do for diplomacy," the angry Lioness muttered.

Kally sniffed. "The things I do for love." She looked at the array of face paint with disgust before picking up a brush and applying some.

"Don't worry, it'll get better," the queen said.

"Yeah, one day you'll get pregnant and start puking your guts out."

Thayet frowned and placed her hands on her hips. "You're not helping, 'Lanna."

"It doesn't matter," Kally said as she put down a lip brush and surveyed her work in the mirror. She turned toward Alanna and her mother. "We look good enough, let's go."

Alanna pulled herself out of Thayet's grasp, smoothed he hair and dress, and followed Kally out the tent. The two walked over to where the horses were saddled and the men were waiting. Gary, Roald, Jon, and the scribe were already mounted on their horses. Gary and Roald hid their smiles behind their hands while Jon merely looked at his Champion and Daughter and nodded his acceptance, gesturing for them to mount. Kally turned her attention towards the horses and the servants waiting to help her mount and frowned. Alanna let out enough curses to turn the servants' faces red. Gary and Roald started laughing, but were silenced with an icy glare from Kally. She muttered about stupid men and stupid skirts as she walked towards Storm who was wearing a sidesaddle. She let one of the servants help her up and rearranged her skirts before glaring at her father. King Jon cleared his throat and they were off. They were at the edge of camp when an out of breath Thayet stepped in front of them and glared at her husband.

"You forgot something, Jon," she said as she held up a small box. The king cursed as Alanna and Kally turned to glare at him again. Thayet smirked as she handed the ornate box to a snickering Gary. Jon slumped in his saddle as they started forward. As he passed her, his wife scolded him and told him to sit up straight and stop pouting. Kally smiled at her mother as she passed and could have sworn Thayet winked.

The company arrived outside of a huge tent half an hour later. Kally reluctantly let the servants help her down but Alanna just snapped and jumped down.

"They're just doing their job," Kally muttered as she patted her hair and smoothed her skirts. Alanna just glared at her. Kally rolled her eyes as they filed in one by one, with her father in front and the scribe and servants in the rear.

The Gallans stood as they entered and the Tortallans arranged themselves behind the chairs on their side of the rectangle table. Alanna was on the far left with Gary beside her. King Jon was in the center and Roald, as his heir, was at his right side. Kally stood behind the first chair on the right side of the table. She met Chris's eyes and they bowed respectfully to each other Shang-style. Introductions were made before everyone took their seats. From right to left the Gallans were: Lord Balthasar of Diamond Crest, Duke Simon of Ducalonia, King Edward of Galla, Chris, and finally, Duke James of Silver Forest.

Servants put fruit and some other food on the table as they all sat and the scribes got set up. Kally sniffed the air and her stomach twisted. She put her hand to her mouth.

"Are-are those strawberries? Heh…excuse me," she pushed herself out of her chair and ran out of the tent, leaving a very puzzled group behind her.

"I thought she loved strawberries," Chris muttered.

"I thought so too. She did look a little green though," Roald said.

King Jon looked at King Edward. "Please excuse my daughter's rude behavior. She usually isn't like that. Alanna, go after her." He waited until Alanna was gone before saying, "Well, now that the women are gone, let's get down to business. Peanuts?" He asked, offering the other man a bowl. Edward nodded appreciatively and grabbed a handful.

"Good, good. I thought we were going to have to talk business in front of them. Pity about your daughter though."

"Yes, well, shall we?"

"Of course, of course." Chris looked at the tent flap worriedly before shrugging and leaning forward to join the negotiations.

Alanna heard retching as she neared some bushes. She frowned and started forward. She came upon Kally a minute later, bent over and puking. Kally straightened and gasped when she saw Alanna. Alanna handed the princess a handkerchief and looked at her considering what the sudden illness might mean.

"How far did you and the Griffin actually go?" Kally stiffened and paled, giving Alanna the answer she feared.

"You won't tell anyone will you?" Kally asked as Alanna cursed.

Alanna raised an eyebrow. "It doesn't matter if I tell or don't. In a couple months it'll be obvious. Goddess, Kally! Didn't you use protection!? And don't say you didn't know there was such a thing, I seem to recall a very interesting conversation you, your mother, and I had."

"Of course I used protection! Why? What makes you think I didn't?"

"Hmmm…let's see…getting sick after just smelling a food you once loved, puking, mood swings, and I seem to recall Kel telling me that you fainted a while back for no apparent reason. Oh, and let's not forget that I am a healer and I can sense these things."

"What things? You don't think I'm…No, that's impossible! I can't be! I made sure every time we-" her eyes widened and she shook her head before she bent over suddenly and started retching again. Alanna held Kally's hair until she was done then handed back the handkerchief.

"Wait here. I'll go get you some water," Alanna turned back towards the tent and felt Kally grasp her arm.

"Don't tell father," she pleaded. "Not yet at least. We need to end this war."

"And we will. Right after your father and I get that lousy son of bitch who impregnated you to agree to marriage."

"Alanna, please! Don't! I-I'll talk to Chris later. Promise me you won't say anything."

"Oh, fine. I'll be back in a few minutes."

Alanna walked back into the tent and the men jumped back. She stared at them suspiciously and was about to question them before she remembered Kally and her predicament. Alanna just shook her head, grabbed some water, and told one of the servants to get rid of the strawberries before she walked back outside.

Kally took the water and tried, with little success, to rinse the taste of bitter acid out of her mouth. She wiped her mouth with the handkerchief and put it in one of her father's saddlebags as she walked by the horses.

The sight that met the two women was very puzzling. A document was being signed by the two kings and their advisors. Kally frowned as she took her seat, surprised and a bit disappointed that they were done already.

"Oh, Kally, good. You're back. I trust everything was taken care of?" She nodded at her father, very confused.

"Sign this," her father ordered as he handed her the document; it was a peace treaty. A scribe rushed forward and handed her a quill and ink bottle. She held up her hand when he tried to show her where to sign.

"Let me read it first," she murmured. She frowned as she read the terms and glared at Alanna who had, by that time, heard from Gary what the treaty asked for. Alanna shook her head and shrugged. Kally looked at Chris, who was slumped in his chair looking very disappointed, and raised a brow. He met her gaze, winked, and mouthed the words, 'act disappointed' before going back to his pouting. Kally caught on and hid a grin. If her father wanted to think he was punishing her, she'd let him. She frowned at the paper once more before turning to Jon who was watching her with interest.

"I refuse to accept these terms," she said petulantly.

Her father smirked and his eyes gleamed in triumph before his face went blank, void of any emotion.

"Too bad. You're going to have to."

"But-but," she sniffed, hoping her father thought she was holding back tears. "I don't wanna get married to him!" She let out a wail.

Jon raised a brow. "Why not? I thought you loved him. That is why we're here isn't it?"

"That doesn't mean I want to throw my life away by marrying some idiot you think is 'acceptable'," She frowned. "I'm still trying to get over the last guy you betrothed me to and I refuse to be trapped in a similar situation."

"Well, that's just too bad because I am the king and your father. You have no choice but to agree to the terms stated and sign the damned treaty." Kally pouted and picked up the pen. She was just about to sign, or so they thought, when she looked up and stared at the King of Galla.

"You did make sure it was the real Jewel didn't you? Because I know my father, and he was very reluctant to give it up. He even tried to leave it at the camp this morning. I will not get myself trapped in an undesirable situation if the war starts up again because papa gave you a fake." King Jon glared at his daughter and Edward looked between them. He cleared his throat.

"She-uh- has a point there, Jon. I would like to see the Jewel."

Muttering under his breath about headstrong daughters and how he'd like to kill them all, Jon motioned for Gary to open the small box. The Jewel lay on a satin pillow of sapphire blue that had the Conte crest stitched in silver silk.

King Edward reverently reached toward the Dominion Jewel and picked it up. It lay there, the sunlight coming through the open tent flap making it shine dully. Nothing happened. Edward frowned and shook it. Still nothing. The Duke of Ducalonia, a skilled mage, took it from his King's open hand and examined it.

"It's either real or a very good fake. Of course, with a black-robed mage living in your palace it shouldn't be too hard to make a false stone. Isn't that right, Your Majesty?"

Jon opened his mouth in outrage, but before he could say a word, Kally spoke quietly.

"Let Chris see it."

Everyone looked at her weirdly, but did as she said. The Dominion Jewel barely touched Chris's fingertips before it blazed to life and rose in front of his face. His eyes widened as he reached up and held it in his hand.

"A king by nature as well as birth," Alanna said. The others nodded dumbly.

"Well, I guess it is the real thing then," Edward said, a bit disappointed that it hadn't worked for him.

Kally smirked as she signed the treaty. "Maybe this marriage thing won't be so bad after all." She reached towards the Jewel and Chris handed it to her. The inner fire kept burning as the Jewel flew circled lazily around her head.

"You always did have a way with that thing," Roald muttered.

Jon nodded his assent. "I swear the earth shook and that thing came to life when you were born."

Kally rolled her eyes and handed it back to Chris who cocked an eyebrow at her. She shrugged in response.

"Well, now that that's over with…let's have lunch," Gary said.

"Oh yes, let's!" King Edward agreed.

As the servants brought in trays lined with food and one huge thing of pork, Kally's eyes widened and she turned a bit green. She was out of the tent before anyone could even blink. They all stared at the swaying tent flap before turning toward Alanna. She shrugged and started piling food onto her plate. The others happily followed her example and were to busy to notice the other royal Shang leave his seat and walk out.

AN: I don't really like this chapter. I might revise it or something. Well, review please. I'll try to get the next one up b4 Monday. I'd also like to thank Andrea, PurpleNinjaWarrior, CatsoGirl, imogenhm, falcon, and Destiny Hunter for reviewing. You guys are awesome!