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Forever and Beyond- AKA Kidnapped
by AuroraLass1452- (she didn't give me a title so I named it)
E-mail- AuroraLass1452@aol.com

Kel changed for their little meeting at the Library. As she changed she
couldn't hear any noise outside of her room. That's odd, she thought.
Usually you can hear the boy's footsteps going to the library. She kicked
the thought away. Kel was going to be a sweet 16 tomorrow. Who cared about
about the noise boys made?

As she made her way into the Library she saw her friends, Cleon, Faleron
and Roald gathered around Neal. They were listening intently to what Neal
had to say. Slowly, Kel backed up not wanting them to see her.

Cleon swallowed a lump in his throat. Seeing him, Neal slapped the back
of his head. The 3 friends put their hands up and swore in unison, " By the
Goddess. " Obviously Neal had told a big secret.

" Don't dare say anything to her, " he threatened. " I'd rather tell her
myself. "

" Her? " Kel whispered to herself. She felt lost. " Who's this ' her '? What's the secret about? " Firmly she reminded herself that Neal was her
best friend and he'd tell her about this ' her '.

" We promise won't Neal. " said Roald. He looked at the other sternly,
waiting for them to say something. They nodded their head vigorously.

Immediately Kel resumed her Yamani look. The one where she
felt-nothing-at-all look.

Walking to the door she came face-to-face with Faleron. " Aren't you
going to study? " she asked.

He fidgeted. " We forgot we had errands to do. " he replied awkwardly.

Kel went to the left to let them pass. Instead of taking her usual
seat, which was beside him, she sat a few feet away from him.

She looked through her books. 1 essay needed by Sir Myles and 4 Math
problems. " A piece of cake. " she muttered to herself.

Neal looked at her nervously. " Did you say something, Kel? "

" No. " she replied calmly. A few minutes later she realized 2 things.
1, still no boys. 2, Neal was staring at her. " What? " Neal had said
something.

" Um..." he wiped sweaty hands on his breeches. " Kel, could you come
here, please? "

Was he ordering her around? " No. " she said rudely.

To her surprise he came closer. Taking 1 of her hands, he sat beside
her. " Kel, remember a few days ago when you said you liked me? "

Her jaw dropped and she blushed. When she said she liked him, he never
answered back. She was so hurt that she ran to her room and cried. Only
Jump and the birds were there to comfort her.

She clenched her teeth and looked away. " So what? "

I wasn't sure of how I felt about you then. But then yesterday I
watched you at supper. Since the day I met you I hadn't realized that
Keladry of Mindelan had grown into a beautiful young woman. Except... "

Kel jerked her hand away. This was about to take a big turn. The
'except' and tone of his voice had already shown the reply to her " I like
you, alot. " Tear were starting to fill her eyes until she had to say it. "
I understand if you don't want to be my friend anymore. "

Jearing the softness in her voice, he took both hands in his own. " No,
Kel you took it the wrong way. " he said fiercely. Reaching out he made her
look at him. " I like you too. More than like but I don't think I deserve
you. "

All of a sudden a bell rang through the air. Kel found herself on the
floor with blankets wrapped around her.

She screamed. The bell had only been Crown cheeping in her ear.

Kel punched her pillow, making the birds fly onto her bed. It was a
dream, she wailed. A dream.

She changed into a blue shirt and tan breeches. Getting her books for
their meeting at the Library she was in deep thought. He loves me he said.
But it was only a dream.

At the last minute she decided to stay in her room. To face Neal again
would be heartbreak.

Half an hour later someone knocked on her door.
" Come in, " she said.

In walked Neal with books under 1 arm. His other arm was hidden. "Hello Kel, " he said warmly.

" Hello, "

" These are for you, " From behind his hidden hand, he drew out a
bouquet full of blue violets and offered them to her.

Under the blankets her shook, but she steadied them took the flowers.
Unsure of what to say, she smiled. " Thanks, Neal. "
She put them on her side table. When she looked back, he looked very
tense. " What's wrong, Neal? " she was concerned.

" Kel..."

" Slowpoke, " she teased.

" I like you and love you, dearly as a friend. This hurts me Kel so... I
can't love you the way you want me too. "

It took all her strength to keep her Yamani face on. " Get out. " she
whispered. By being rude she thought he'd leave her alone to cry.

" But Kel, I still want to be friends, " Neal pointed out. " Don't you
like the flowers? " he asked, teasing a little.

Her dreams were being shattered. Didn't he understand? She thought
horribly. Kel picked up a book and thrust it in front of his face. " Get
out, and stay out, " Kel threatened. " Or'll I'll throw this book at you. "
Neal didn't even budged. " Are you yelling at me, Kel? " he demanded.

" Out! " she screamed. Tears were streaming down her face. " Out! "

" I'm sorry, Kel. " he muttered. More to himself or her he'd never know.
He'd have to think about that someday. Correction, sooner.
* * * * *
Lalasa started to run toward Neal's room. On reaching his door, she
stopped to think. Knock, she scolded herself. Now's no time stop.
A banging on his door, interrupted Neal's sleep. He smothere his face
with a pillow. Sleep was all he could think of. Thinking about Kel and what
had upset her last night deprived him of his sleep.

Fed up, he opened the door. No one was there but when he looked down he
found Lalasa. She was edgy and worried-looking. " Isn't it a bit early, Lalasa? " he yawned.

She looked up her brown eyes wide and red. " She missing. "

" Who exactly? "

Lalasa grabbed a fistful of his shirt and pulled. " My lady! " she
cried.
" What? " he asked blankly.

" Sometimes I check on my lady. I did today but when I came her door was
open and her bed was still messy. I think she was kidnapped. " The last
words came out of her mouth as a stutter.
Was Kel that mad at him? No, Lalasa said she was kidnapped. " I'm going
to find Kel. "

" I'll wait here, Master Neal. "

A few seconds later he came out of his rooms in another pair of clothes.
" Lalasa, you go to your shop. I'll find Kel. "

She shook her head but the glare he gave her shut her up. Then she
remembered something else. " I thought you were supposed to take the little
examinations today. " she called.

He stopped, kidding to a halt. " Lalasa, I love her. " Neal's answered
surprised Lalasa, and even him. Although the more he said it, the more he
loved her.

    The 1st room Neal went to check was Kel's.  Lalasa had said she thought Kel was kidnapped.  To be sure he checked her room thoroughly.
    Kel's bed was messed up.  She had probably had the same kind of night he had.  No sleep.  A white night was left on the ground.
    Suddenly he had a horrible thought.  Was Kel abused before she was kidnapped?  No, he couldn't think bad thoughts now.  Kel probably would have escaped already.  But all people had limits.  And Kel wasn't the strongest person in the realm.  Neal shoved it away.
    Lalasa also said the door had been left open.  So... she was right.  Kel had been kidnapped.
    He sat down on her bed.  First of all, why would anyone want to kidnap Kel?  to make her miss the examinations.  Someone had already tried that and still, they hadn't found out who.
    Unless someone want Neal.  He was her best friend and someone had once teased that Kel was the center of his thoughts.  
    Who in Mithros's name would have a grudge against him?  Sure, there were some people he didn't like but it wasn't like he had enemies.  So Kel was kidnapped because someone didn't like her.  Question was, who?
    And how was he going to find Kel? he asked himself logically.  He snapped his fingers.  Balor's Needle!
    No, he sat down.  The King had destroyed Balor's Needle.  Rubble was all that was left of it.
    Suddenly, someone knocked on the door.
    " What are you doing here? " he asked.

    Big Cleon was just as surprised as Neal.  He recovered quicker though.  " I could say the same to you. "
    Seeing his friend's raised eyebrows, he shook his head. " This isn't what you think. "
    The other man smiled.  " Then what is it? "
    " Kel's missing. "
    Cleon almost screamed the word 'what' before Neal clamped a hand over his mouth and dragged him into her room.
    When Cleon calmed down, Neal explained what he thought had happened to Kel.  Cleon listened but every time Neal said the Kel he had a dreamy yet sad look in his eyes.
    " The only thing I haven't figured out is where Kel is? " he finished off waiting for Cleon to answer.
    " Are you sure Kel's kidnapped? "
    " Yes. "
    " I'll look around.  See which of Kel's enemies are here. "
    Neal smiled.  " Thanks, Cleon.  And I better ask around. "
                                *    *    *    *    *
    Cleon had checked all around the palace but Kel was nowhere to be found.  Everyone said that the last they'd seen of her was when she returned to her room after supper.  Well, actually, only the servants were the ones he questioned.  He didn't want to ask the pages and squires, because he'd ruin the little exams which he didn't want to.
    While he was pondering, his eye caught a familiar person.  He followed he/she until he figured who it was.
    Vinson!  Vinson stole Kel.
    Cleon angrily strode up to Vinson, holding the hilt of his sword.  " Vinson, I want a word with you. " he ordered.
    He turned around and smiled evilly.  Slinging an arm around Cleon's shoulders, he drawled, " Cleon, old chap.  What're you doing here? "
    Suddenly his throat met the tip of Cleon's sword.  " Hands off me.  And don't ever call me old chap. "
    " I don't want to fight.  I just want to know where Kel is. "
    Vinson raised an eyebrow, yet didn't look genuinely surprised.  " Kel's missing? " he asked.
    "'Where's Kel, you pig? "  Cleon screamed.
    Vinson made a face, then quickly answered when Cleon's sword met his neck.
    Cleon put his sword down, bewildered.  " You don't know where Kel is?  Where are you cronies? "
    He rolled his eyes.  " Oh, Joren you mean.  He's turned all goodie-goodie now. "
    " Li- "
    " Excuse me, Your Highness, " Cleon was interrupted by a servent bowing to Vinson.  " But we should leave soon. "
    " No wait, " Then he turned to Cleon.  " I've got a surprise for you, my good man."
                                *    *    *    *    *
    He lost his Kel.  Actually someone kidnapped Kel, but Neal felt as if he had to blame someone.  And he was the only person up, other that his horse, Explorer.
    Neal stopped his horse.  Looking out to the Emerald Sea, the sun was 1/4 out.  How he got here so fast, he'd never know.  Usually it took him 1/2 a day.  
    All of a sudden he remembered a day he had spent with Kel last summer.  He had accidentally lost his way to the palace.  Kel was there because she visiting the Sea.  Her exact words were, " Isn't it beautiful?  How the waves crash not the cliffs, like a heartbeat?  No wonder it's called the Emerald Sea. "
    Kel took a deep breath.  " Don't you ever wonder what's underneath the Sea?  Beyond the Yamani Islands.  I once heard that there are mermaids who live under the sea.  Mermaids are half women with fish tails for legs.  They eat men by serenading them then preying on them. "
    " You know, " Neal interrupted.  " You just destroyed the moment? "
    She smiled at him, as sweetly as possible.  " I know.  Want to swim? "
    After that they went swimming.  There was 1 shell that Kel and Neal fought over, for so long that he had to give it up.  But Kind Kel gave it back to him, as an early birthday present.
    He returned to the present. Patting Explorer's mane, he got off.  He wondered if Cleon had gotten a lead.  But probably not.  Not that Neal didn't want one.
    Then his thoughts wandered off to Kel.  And how proud he was of her.  Being a squire at least proved that girls could be knights.  Discouragement and insults provoke her to prove girls, especially her, can be knights.  A conclusion he had made for her.
    Neal wandered the shore.  His verdant gaze flicked to a shape faraway.
    He ran up until he could match the person to an identity.  Who was it?
    Kel.
    Kel admiring the sea.
    
    Next Chapter...
    Neal was wondering why Kel was there.  " Kel, " he whispered. " What are you doing here? "
    There was quite a bit of distance between them, so she couldn't hear him call her.
    Instead of  getting up to follow her, he just watched.
    Kel walked over to where the waves met the sand and sat down.  With her fingers she tickled the water, then splashed some on her feet.
    Neal decided it was time for her to go back.  Slowly he said, " Hello, Kel. "
    She patted to a seat beside her and nodded.
    There was something a little weird about all this.  He looked Kel in the face and found that her eyes were closed.  She was breathing with the waves.  
    " What're you doing? " he asked, curiously.
    " Sitting. " was her dreamy-voiced answer.
    He put his arms around her, happy and relieved that she wasn't kidnapped.  Instead he was rewarded with her Yamani skills.
    She flipped him over with her hands, then twisted his pinkies back.  Then, she sat on him.
    " Sorry, Neal, "  Her expression was clearly of surprise, except she didn't get off him.  " What are you doing here? "
    He tried to get up, but the way she sat on him didn't allow him to do so.  " Can I get up? "
    Kel gave a hand and looked around.  " Why am I here?  Why are you here? "
    " I thought kidnapped. " he replied, as if offended.
    Neal hadn't let go of her hand, and she was starting to feel giddy.  She tried yanking it away, but to no avail.  Finally she gave up and demanded an explanation.
    He quickly explained about what Lalasa had said.  She laughed.  " But how did you get here? " he ended.
    The truth hit her like a whoosh, a heap of snow sliding off the roof, that she threw her free hand over her mouth.
    " I figured it out, " she announced proudly.  And began, " I... I was mad over out fight yesterday.  So I cried myself to sleep.  I had a dream that I woke up, changed clothes and walked - no rode Peach blossom here.  I guess I did. " She scanned the road behind the Sea and found Peach blossom with Explorer.
    Neal put 2 and 2 together.  " You sleepwalked. " he told her.  
    She nodded, then quickly yanked her hand away.  Kel made a serious face and said, " We should get back.  Lord Wyldon will kill us. "
    " Kel... I want you. "
    She turned around slowly.  If this was just a dream, this was a bad time to be having one.  Her teeth bit down on her lip.  It felt real enough.
    Neal came closer.  He was just about to kiss her when she pulled back.  A thoughtful look crossed her face.
    He hugged her hard.  " Kel, it might have taken me 6 years to realize it but I love you. "  
    " You love me? " she squeaked.  Partly from being squished and from the surprise.
    He looked into her eyes.  " Keladry of Mindelan, I love you. "
    She broke out of his hold and threw her arms around his neck.  " I love you too. " she whispered, fiercely.  " I love you too. "
    He grinned and slid his arms around her, in which ended with a very passionate kiss.  Kel was beginning to feel the heat of it when someone tapped their shoulders.
    He glared at Cleon.  " You destroyed the moment. " he growled.  Leaving Kel to giggle.
    " And this isn't what I think. " Cleon guessed, his eyes narrowing down to Neal's arm on her waist.
    Kel stopped giggling and took a deep breath.  She looked at Cleon.
    He was limping.  His shirt had stains of blood.  His breeches were dirty and bloodstained.
    " What happened to you? " she asked in horror.
    " Let's just say, I started a war! " he mumbled.
                            *    *    *    *    *
    " No, " Cleon protested.  " King Jon will probably need all the healers and fighters he can get. "
    They all walked back to their horses in silence.  
    Once they were on their horses, Kel broke the silence.  " How did you start a war, again? "
    He sighed and winced.  " I didn't.  After I with Neal I looked in the city.  I met up with a certain Prince named Vinson.
    Kel fell off Peach blossom.  She batted her eyelids at him.  " What did you say? "
    " Well, I thought he kidnapped you, so I sorta threatened him.  Then this guy, came up and asked His Highness if they should leave.  His Royal Highness is Vinson. "
    She gasped and fell off Peach blossom again.  The horse neighed at her with concern.  Her back was starting to hurt with stones poking her back every time she fell.  " Neal, " she pleaded helplessly.
    The guys giggled until she shot daggers at them.  Neal smiled and picked her up.  The strong arms around hers were actually, very comforting.
    " Vinson's a prince. "
    Cleon held up a hand, to pause her.  " Yes, he's a prince.  After the servant left, he said he had a surprise for me.  The surprise were his best 5 swordsmen! " he exclaimed and threw up his arms in the air.  " Kel's a better swordsman that me, so I thought I wasn't to make it.  But I did fight and hurt all of them.  Then Vinson, called them off.  I asked him how he was a prince.  He said it was for him to know and for us to find out. "
    " Then he came closer and said he was starting a war. "
    " Hang on, " Neal cut in, as they turned a corner.  " Vinson swore allegiance to Tortall and it's King.  So how can he betray us. "
    " He never plays by the rules, Neal, " she hissed.  Kel was starting to feel irritated by all the mishaps. " He a good-for-nothing person-of-a-prince.  Did you warm King Jon?  Raoul, or Roald? "
     Cleon slapped his forehead.  What a dolt, he was.  " Let's hurry!  We're almost there. "

    Note: Yes, my name is Maria.  Except I thought it was also about time that I told you that Kel and everyone is Tamora Pierce's characters.  But I'd love comments from you guys so e-mail me at AuroraLass1452@aol.com.  

" We can ask Daine to use her friends, " suggested Numair. He was
sitting right beside the King, with Kitten at his shoes.
" For what exactly, Master Numair? " Kel was confused. She didn't
really know all of Daine's friends/powers.
" Daine asks her animal friends to see how many soldiers there are. Then
we sort of have an advantage. " explained Jon. He mused for a moment then
asked where Daine was.
" I believe she's at the stables, sire. " informed a servant.
" Keladry, fine Daine and ask her to find out how many soldiers there
are. "
Kel bowed to Jon and Numair and left for the stables. Still wondering
about Daine's powers.
* * * * *
Kel waited by the door of the Special Room. The Special Room was just a
place where Daine could talk to her animals in private and they could mess
around all they liked.
A scream ripped through the air and her head snapped up. Not another
dream, she pleaded. Mithros, please.
Daine came out of the room as if she had been slapped. She waved a piece
of paper in the air while mumbling to herself. She pursed her lips and
smiled wryly. " Let's go Keladry. I have very bad news, I think. "
* * * * *
" 1,500! " he screamed. Jon paced the floor for what seemed like a 100
times. This Vinson, he thought, is starting to be a pain. " 1,500. "
" We don't even have that many. " screeched Kel. What were they going to
do? They'd be cornered, attacked, and eventually killed. " Don't let us
die, Yama. Please, don't let us die. " she begged. The chair she was
sitting in, was starting to shake. And Kel's knees were starting to tremble.
Neal, who was sitting beside her, heard her whispering plea. He hugged
her around the shoulders, making her ease up a little. " Kel, we aren't
going to die. We've got many knights, mages, the Dominion Jewel, the Queen's
Riders. Who's going to top that? In any case, I'd never let you die. I'd
let myself get killed, first. "
Kel dropped her jaw and shoved him away. After he admitted loving her,
the very thought of losing Neal would make her faint. She slowly looked at
him. " I'm sorry. I just- I just , don't want to lose the people, I've
learnt so much to love. "
" We won't die, Kel. We won't die. " he promised.
Even with all that promising, she just couldn't believe him. There was
just this feeling she couldn't shake off, and the minute he let go of her it
almost made her hurl.
Jon sat down and scratched his forehead. " Attention, everyone.
Attention. I have considered this with much thought and have decided that we
shall use our squires. Lord Wyldon, I'm sure, will agree since he trained
you all properly. " Kel lost track of the next things he said. But it was
something about using all the other soldiers Neal had stated. Including the
King's Own. Also, informing everyone that once summed up, he was sure it was
more than Vinson's 1,500.
Duke Baird stepped closer to Kel and stared at her. It had been so long,
that Kel was starting to feel drowsy. " Keladry, are you feeling all right? "
" No, " she croaked. Her throat was sore, her cough was dry. Her
stomach was groaning except not with hunger. " Not really. "
He put a hand to her forehead and told her to open her mouth. " You have
the flu. " he diagnosed.
" No, " she rasped. Kel looked at Jon, pleadingly. " Please, sire, "
she begged. " Oh, please let me fight. Vinson is my enemy and I should be
the one to demolish him. Oh, please, Majesty. "
Jonathan looked like he was going to consent, though he didn't. " I'm
very sorry, Keladry but you might affect the others. And we cannot stand to
lose even 2 of our soldiers. Will you please check the others here and at
the palace grounds to see if they are with the flu? " he asked Duke Baird.
Note: Ok, maybe some of you are thinking doesn't Cleon have a crush on
Kel? I really have no idea. For this story anyways, Cleon has already
forgotten about Kel and only thinks about her as a friend. Ok.

" Can't you cure me, or something? " she asked, or more ordered.  They couldn't start, be in the middle of, or even end a fight without Kel there.  " Vinson is my enemy, Your Grace.  Not yours.  Or Neal's or the King's.  Mine. " she argued possessively.  " Mine. "
    Duke Baird and Neal looked at each other.  From the way Neal shrugged, it was obvious they were having a mind-to-mind conversation.  " My father can ease the pain but he can't stop it from getting to others. "
    Kel opened her door and dropped onto her bed.  She grabbed her soft blanked and clutched it to her throat.
    Duke Baird's warm hand held her throat.  His magic flowed to her stomach and neck.  Calming them down just enough to make Kel yawn.
    " Drink alot of juice and don't talk too much.  I'll send someone to give you the vile-tasting soup. "  He laughed and left Neal to Kel.
    He reached for her hand and grasped it, tenderly.  After a long while, " I want to give you something. " he said.
    Mysteries.  Intriguing, except when I can never find the answer.  She turned over and to find a bracelet in her palm.
    It was amethyst-colored.  The diamond-shaped amethyst, she meant.  The string was invisible but she could feel it, there.  It was expensive.  Very.  She wondered where Neal got it.
    " This is for me, " she breathed. " I can't.  I mean - I'm not supposed to take something that seems to have such sentimental value. "
    He nodded gravely and turned away.  " Before Grandfather Emry died, he gave this to me.  His best friend was going to give it to his Lady but... he died in a war.  Grandfather said that there was so much love in it, that the Lady should have felt it.  Except the Lady died... Waiting.  Grandfather also said that if I find the right girl.  That I must give it to her. "
    " I did feel the love in it, " she coughed.  Also, feeling stupid.  In the midst of such a moment she had a flu.  The pain in her stomach, still hurting.  " I I'm going to sleep now.  Sorry, honey. "
    He rubbed her warm hand and left.  Sure that he loved her.  And she loved him.
                                *    *    *    *    *
    " NEALLL!! " she screamed.  It was a horrible nightmare.  Neal was thrown off a cliff and she couldn't help him, all because of her stupid fear of heights.
    " Duke Baird's right, " a familiar all knowing voice was acknowledged.  " You've got all the symptoms.  Deliriousness, stomach groaning * Okay, I sorta had a cold when I wrote this.  So I included it.  If they symptoms are wrong, you can always blame me. *
    Kel turned to fine a disgustingly, cheerful, Lalasa.  She was holding a cup with some weird colored water.
    " Drink it my lady, " she insisted.  Thrusting it into her hands.  " It'll help. "
    The sweet water - Ohmygosh it's not vile -  went down her throat.  " Are they still here?  Is Neal still here? "
    " No.  Sorry, my lady. "
    The moment Lalasa turned around, Kel raced out the door.  She was going to kill Vinson.  And no one was going to stop her.
    Note: The sweet water is called Coke.  See, people.  Now you know why Duke Baird couldn't cure her.
    next part...
    The chain mail jingled and was scratchy.  That was Kel's conclusion anyhow.  It was also heavy.  But if she had to wear it to get to Vinson...
    Come Mithros or the Goddess, she'd get to him.
    She reached the battlefield.
    It was so exciting.  Disgusting.  Incredibly made for a knight yet sad.
    So many people with arms, legs, head cut off.  All because of her.  Arrows piercing through chests, hearts.  The chain mail???  You'd think it was strong, but it wasn't.  Couble-headed swords, sharp-piercing axes, pocket knifes???  What did they do?  They were placed in the hands of men to kill someone else.
    The only clear thing through all this fighting, was that she had to kill Vinson and stop the war.
    Faraway, she saw him.  His gray mare's hooves pawing the air.  Once it settled down, the lance in Vinson's arm shifted into the right position.  The point stuck straight at Yancen of Irenroha.
    She held her sword high in the air.  Grabbing Peachblossom's reins, she held them tight.  Falling off now, would be a stupid thing to do.
    " Vinson, " she cried out. " Tortall will no longer be in need of you. "
    He looked around.  There were too many knights to know which one was Kel.  Unless...
    He turned slight, then charged at Kel.  She swung her sword around like a lasso.  " Charge! " she screamed to Peach blossom.
    The roan gelding pawed the air, neighing with command.  Then, it charged forward with a speed Kel could contain, but Vinson could not.
    Kel's sword banged into his lance, and slid alongside it, making that irritating fingernail along chalkboard sound.  Quickly, she brought it back, then did a crescent moon swing.  
    Vinson screamed.  He stopped, then adjusted his lance and rammed at her.
    She gasped for air.  It must've broken her ribcage because something definitely cracked, and poked her lungs.      
    Vinson had fallen off his saddle, and was on the ground, dragging his cut-to-the-bone arm with him.  In his hand he clutched a knife, big enough to go through a chest.  
    Kel half gasped for air and slid off Peach blossom.  Trying to get Vinson on a saddle, was preposterous.  She'd have to fight him on the ground.  Squire to knight.
                            *    *    *    *    *
    For the past 2 minutes that they had been circling each other, she had heard him insult her mother, father, sisters, brothers, Neal, Cleon, Roald, her other friends and Lalasa.  How Lalasa got into the subject she didn't know.  And at the moment didn't care.  And if she wasn't going to kill him soon, she'd probably die for lack of oxygen.
    She circled him 1 more time and ran.  A jab from her sword going right throughout the flesh of his upper leg.
    He bit his lip hard, until small amounts of blood came out of it. Savagely, he licked it.  Also, noticing that any moment Kel would collapse and let her guard down on Tortall.
    Except in her mind, Kel was praying to all the gods and Goddesses she knew.  Yama, Mithros, the Goddess and so on.  But so far... no answer.
    How could he still live.  She had slew his chest, jabbed his leg.  From all the blood loss, shouldn't he be dying now?
    Neal had defeated one knight.  None were around.  He glimpsed at two people in the center.
    Kel.  That dumb girl of his disobeyed his father.  He frowned.  She was hunched over.  Definitely fighting for air.  Vinson... VINSON!
    Vinson charged.  His limp legs carrying him over the small distance.  His sword right above his head, showing to mercy at all.  It had no shine to it, either.
    Kel dropped her jaw.  As much as she was afraid to admit it, she needed help.  Yama.  The sword dashed down to...
    Something gushed through her.  All of a sudden she found her strength.  Immediate her Yamani skills took over.
    Her right foot gracefully slipped in between him and her.  He fell down.  Now, it was her sword that was right above him.  Then it shot down.  Into his chest.
    Oddly, Kel felt no regret.  A little maybe but other than that.  Justice.  The source of her strength vanished, leaving her to collapse.
    The thundering of hooves rang nearby.  She had no strength, for sure she'd die.
    Only, it was Neal.  A grin, broad across his handsome face.
    Painful as it was, she stood up.  Triumph, glowing across her face.  She was smiling, radiant as the Goddess.  " We made it, Neal, " she whispered.  " We made it. "
    He jumped off Explorer, and stood there.  His open arms so inviting that Kel ran to him.
    All of a sudden, a red arrow shot through the air.  It arched then, flew down with great speed.  Towards Neal.  From what she remembered, Neal never saw the death arrow.  His face and actions, so happy, were crushed, moments after the arrow went through his shoulder.
    Her memory was as clear as day.  At first he flinched not realizing the pain.  Then he froze, and fell onto his side.
    When she finally understood what was happening, she ran to him as fast as her hurting legs could take her.  She reached him, still on the ground.  Crying, she shook him, plucked at the chain mail then dragged him into her lap.  Kel hugged him, fiercely, sadly feeling no breath or tears at all.
    Immediate she sang a song that she was almost perfect for the moment.
            " From this moment.
              As long as I live, I'll still love you,
              I promise you this.  
              There is nothing, I wouldn't give,
              From this moment,
              I'll still love you, as long as I'll live,
              From this moment...
              On. "
    Her voice was perfect yet wavering.  " He's dead, Kel. " she told herself.  " He's dead.  But I'll still love you. "  She hesitated, then broke into tears.  So, this was why he had given her the bracelet.  He knew all along that he wouldn't survive.  Holding Neal as close as possible, she kissed his oddly, warm cheek.
    Then something exploded. And Kel fainted, lying beside Neal.
        Note: The song ' From this moment on ' is by Shania Twain.  It inspired me and that is the last verse.  I suppose now would again be a good time to put my address up so... well, it should be there.  
next part....
    AY!!!!!
    " You're so sure? "
    " Yes. "
    " How much? "
    " I'd've given up my life. "
                                    *    *    *    *    *
    Narration changes to Neal
    She will.  She won't.  She will.  She won't.  As I rock in my chair back and forth, I argue with myself, whether Kel will make it through or not.  When I rock forward, she'll live.  Back-50 percent chance of that happening.
    Holding the part where the arrow hit me, doesn't hurt anymore.  Father did it so there wasn't a hole in my chest.
    I looked at Kel, who was across the room, in my bed.  Father put her there, because I requested.  Though puzzled, he did it.
    Kel is all wrapped up in blankets.  Father said her fingers are icy cold and so is her skin.  That's why she's shivering violently.  Though, I don't think that's the case.    Doesn't she have the flu, I protest.  Then wouldn't her fever warm her up?
    Her fear has vanished, answered Father.  For the thousandth time I've told you.  Her flu has vanished.
    Me and father have had this conversation a million times.  I know it all by heart.
    Kel whispers something.
    I get up and stroke her back.  She even shivers at my touch.  Again, she whispers something.  I lean down to hear her.  
    " Help me! "  she begs.  " Help me! "
    Salty tears go down my face.  Kel's needs help and I can't give it to her.  
    Then tears go down her pale cheek.  She has lost so much blood.  I wipe them away, and I swear at that moment that her tears were like frozen ice.
    " Neal? " her voice, wavering. " Neal? " she panics.
    " Kel, I'm here. "  I was right there and she didn't know it.
    Without opening her pretty eyes, she grabs my hand and holds it to her chest.  " You won't leave will you?  I can't bear it.  You know, I can't. "  Again she starts crying, but silently.
    "No!  Never.  Now, hush.  Go to sleep.  It'll do you good. "
    And she drifted off to a happy dream.  At least that's what I hypothesize from her beautiful smile.  
    Note:  See, peoples.  * I think that's my favorite word *  Kel is not dead.  Anywise, did I say she was?   Maria only said she 'fainted.'  And Neal did not die.  I only said 'he was sure, he wouldn't survive!'  You people, take this thing too seriously.  Kidding.  Anywise!  Happy, y'all.  Lady Ainet?  People * There's that word again. *  out there.  
next part...
    Back to my narration
    Kel's eye flew open to find a white ceiling.  It was white, all white but strangely not hers.  And she was warm.  A little too warm.  She carefully flung the blankets off.  So many blankets!
    Where was the battlefield?  Where was the fighting?  Her friends?  Neal?  This was a dream, right?  Right now, she wanted it to be a dream because if it wasn't...
    Neal.  He was- he was dead.
    " You're awake. "
    She turned around to find a sleepy-eyed Neal.  Kel choked, then hesitantly touched his chest.  Her fingers stroked his cheek and followed his jaw-line.  Real or not?  She asked herself.
    Then she buried her face in his muscular chest.  It was too much.  All too much.  From finally finding out he loved her to believing he was going to die.
    Neal, on the other hand was smiling.  Immensely glad that Kel made it through.  He wanted to spend at least a few moments with her.  
    Kel finally looked up into those verdant eyes.  " Are you really here, Neal? "  Her fingers were still numb.  " Tell me. " she begged. " Please. "
    Neal caught her wrist, just when it was going to touch him again.  He squeezed it.  " Didn't that feel real? "
    She sniffed and looked away.
    " Doesn't this? "
    'This' was a kiss.  Sweet and passionate.  Kel was out of her misery, for a moment and in paradise.  The 1st time Neal had kissed her she felt the ember.  Now she felt the fire.
    He broke away and just stared at her.
    " That felt real. " Giddy!  She was giddy!  She was starting to feel her fingers.
    He slid his arm around her shoulders.  It had been one whole week that Kel was out.  During that 7 day period he had not seen Kel's eyes.  He had not seen her move but for a stir when she slept.  Her laugh at his jokes and her voice.  She had talked to him but it was only dreamy and always worried.
    Kel took his hand again and stroked it.  " Do you really love me? " she asked in a low voice.
    He kissed her hand. " A few days ago I was talking with Cleon.  He had asked me how strong my love for you wa-"
    " And what did you say? "
    " That my heart longs for you.  Not Lady Uline's.  Daine's or Queen Thayet's.  Not even Princess Tristane's. "
    He pulled her close and whispered in her ear.  " I love you.  I love Keladry of Mindelan.  Is that what you wanted to hear? "
    She kissed his cheek. " yes, it was.  I was so afraid you'd leave me.  You weren't even going to say bye.  I love you Neal.  And I don't want you to ever leave me. "
    " I won't. "  A strange silence passed between them.  " Sing again. "
    " What? " she was puzzled.
    " You have the most beautiful voice.  I heard you singing, right after... Sing for me, Kel. "
    Still hesitation. " Why? "
    " I think it'd help both of us. "
    Note: Okay, I know she's dead but I'd like to thank her.  
    Thanks, Miss Joan of Arc.  There are tons of French people and young children out there who are really impressed with your leadership.  I am one of the kids.  I really admire the way you handled things and did not even lose faith in God during your burning.  You died at, so a young age of 19.  But you used it pretty well.  Congratulation, for being a patron of France.
    Don't make fun of me. * pleads on her knees *  I am just an admirer of women and men who did things.  Mostly things for the good.
next part...
    
    " You have the most beautiful voice.  I heard you before... that.  Sing for me, Kel."
    Hesitation, again.  " Why? "
    " I think it'd help us both. "
    Short, huh?  It's just 'cause the webpages I e-mail this to haven't caught up with you.  And I sometimes e-mail the wrong person the wrong thing.  So, as soon as I e-mail Athena the next part I'll e-mail you.
next part...
    The explosion, Roald explains was one of the packets thatblow up sleeping smoke when it hits the ground.  That my I fainted, I say.  Or more slept.
    Duke Baird did Neal's explanation.
    " When we found you two, Neal had fainted and you were losing alot of blood, my dear.  We had to patch you up and split the arrow in two.  And it was very risky.  It might have broken inside his chest and caused more blood to come. "
    My eyes widened.  It could have!  It probably would have.  I try to imagine Duke Baird doing it while he explains.
    Neal was probably under a sleep spell.  A grim look on his face.  Duke Baird would make Neal it up, then disinfect the area where the arrow still was.
    If he pulled it through, Neal would get hurt and the barb would pierce him, alive.  I shudder.  That's scary.  Very scary.  
    But Duke Baird didn't.  He took the risk of splitting the arrow.  And it didn't break inside his chest!  He saved Neal.
    But I couldn't go up and hug Duke Baird.  It would just be revealing a hyper, emotional, non-Yamani, Kel.  And anyways, what would he say back?  You remind me of my daughter.  Hah!
    Roald also explained, with quite a few interruption from Merric, that Tortall won the war.  Vinson was thrown int some other sea and his soldier retreated to now find a new king.
                                *    *    *    *    *
    Summer holidays have just started.  My parents are in Mindelan so I have the whole summer to myself.  As well as the Corus House.  Tragedy, though.  Got to leave Neal and the others behind.  
    I grab a book and swing my legs over the armchair.  It's called 'Little Knights.'  How small are they, would come to Owen's mind.
    " My lady, there's someone at the door. "
    One of the maids. New, too. I nod my head and get up. The walk from the library to the front door is a bit long so I knew it would take me awhile.
    Reaching the stair rail, I brush my fingertips over it. Squit. Dust.
    "What have the maids been doing all year?" I ask myself.
    Obviously outloud, since a voice from the bottom of the stairs yelled, " Probably off with their lovers! "
    I laughed and peered down. Neal!
    I slid down the rail. A fun and joyous thing I hadn't down in ages.
    Neal caught me at the bottom. He smiled his handsome smile and whirled me     around a couple of times.
    "Ooh... gettin' dizzy, Neal. "
    He put me down, then strangled a laugh. I patted my hair and smoothed the wrinkles of my shirt and breeches.
    " You weren't scared. " he jokes.
    I snapped my head. " I what? " I ask indignantly. I blink a couple of times then jump up and down. " You're right. Coming down the rail. NO MORE FEAR! " I yell.
    He grabs my shoulders and kisses me. He's a good kisser too. Though, he's the only one who kissed me other than Jack so how would I know.
    Man, I like - no love this guy. I wrapped my arms around his neck until he had to pinch me, to let go.
    " Ow! " I said as I rub my arm.
    Then, he grabs me, pushes me out the door and I'm on Peachblossom.
                                    * * * * *
    " So... Why are we here? " I throw my hands up. I mean drag me outta my house and bring me to the Emerald Sea. Neal? What's wrong with you?     
    I stare at him, with his back towards me. " No, you're not going to say... "
    Neal embraces me and kisses me again to shut me up. " I-kiss-would never-leave you. I-love you-kiss-forever and be-kiss-beyond. "
    Shutting him up with kisses obviously doesn't work. He holds my waist and kisses me. And I'm happy until...
    "Look Neal! A shell. A very beautiful one, too. "
    And the 1st thing to come on his mind is - " Not this again! "
    I kiss him. " Of course this fight again. You start! " I demand.
                            FINEE
    Yeah! I finally am finished Forever and Beyond. The title sounds corny, I know. But I got it off somewhere. Not sure at the moment.
     The only thing that kept me writing this is the part where Neal supposedly dies! From which St. Joan gave me. Thank you very much. Whew, it took me 30 looseleaf papers. Or lined paper, depends on what country you're from. And a ton of editing. Anyways, there are 2 sequels to this. And somewhere I'll try and introduce a new character. Me, or my other character. Not Seph, though. Well, actually maybe. Hope you guys, liked it. Comments are most welcome. AuroraLass1452@aol.com