Will we ever see more of Kel as an adult knight, in other series? She's my favourite character.
I would love to write more with Kel. Right now I have Numair’s books, then one about Tris, and then I’m traveling back in time to before the Immortals were sealed away. I may write a short story about her or Tobe in the mean time.
At first, as a young knight, she had no need for one. Plus she couldn’t afford to properly equip one. Her various duties to the Crown often kept her in company of the King’s Own anyway, so even after Tobe had long since begun work in the palace stables she was not often without a pair of extra hands to help her when needed. When things were less hectic, her talents for teaching were put to use and she was often found training new recruits to the Own, or even the Queen’s Riders. Although the recruits were older than the youngsters she had taught at Haven she found she still enjoyed teaching.
When her year-mates began to take squires of their own, they often sought her out for advice, even enlisting her to help with training. Although most of her year mates had a healthy and reasonable aversion to tilting against her, they often asked her to give tilting lessons to their squires knowing she would be an excellent teacher and also that she would hold back for the youngsters as needed (or, conversely, dump them in the dirt occasionally as needed).
By the time Neal and Yuki’s oldest daughter became a squire, a few other girls had successfully made it to knighthood. Although Kel knew that Neal and Yuki would have liked for her to be knight-master to their daughter, Kel still had lingering doubts about whether any squire she took would benefit from having The Girl (who still remained controversial with the conservatives) as her knight-master. Plus she knew their daughter (her goddaughter) would learn more by having a different teacher anyway, since she and Kel still met and trained weekly even once the girl was a page.
Kel continued this way for a while, and if left to her own devices, might have never decided to take on a squire. When Roald and Shinkokami’s third oldest daughter decided to try for her shield, however, nothing would do but Kel be their daughter’s knight-master. (In the face of Roald and Shinko’s stubbornness – not to mention royal influence- what could Kel say but yes?).
The day the princess was knighted was one of the proudest of Kel’s life.
Kel: Being a soldier is not hard. If it was, soldiers would not be able to do it. There is only three things you need to remember, which are: One: obey orders. Two: give it to the enemy good and hard. Three: don’t die. Got that? Right! You’re nearly there! Well done!
What if Kel was executed for treason in Lady Knight? What if it caused a rebellion? Because you can't tell me that what the world will hear in canon isn't that Wyldon ordered her to follow the refugees. Anything else would create resentment. For all Wyldon's pretty talk, surely he noticed that. And if they tried to hush it up? I don't see Raoul and Alanna letting that happen. And if you knew your king executed nobles for rescuing commoners from a fate worse than death, wouldn't you rebel?
No, no, no, no I can’t do it. Kel is my lady, my light, my love–and I can’t imagine a world where the people on that war front would ever have allowed her death. So let’s tell this story–she was found guilty of treason. She was sentenced to death, kneeling on that Tortallan river mud, enemy territory a stone’s throw behind her, hundreds of abandoned souls saved by her stubborn hands.
Dutiful misery was stark in the grip Wyldon used to pull her to her feet and tie her hands behind her. (He would not leave that job to a lesser man.) Rage poured off Raoul, simmering, trapped. The King’s Own protested–when they shut themselves up it was not at their commander’s order but at Kel’s quelling shake of her head.
Wyldon could protect Owen, who was his squire and his responsibility. The King’s Own had technically, roughly, been following orders. The rescued civilians were ushered toward safety with faintly awed hands. Kel, Merric, and Neal were ushered forward, too, by awed hands, but it was with their own hands bound behind them and it was not toward safety.
But the awe was there– these knights had done the impossible. They had gone into enemy territory, after monsters made of death and metal, and saved their people. They had done the impossible– they had put protecting homeless peasants above obeying their lord. Wyldon tied each of their hands behind their backs and they did not apologize. Neal raised his chin like he was challenging Wyldon to demand it of him.
But the Giantkiller fortress was flooded with children and civilians who had been written off as collateral damage. After days of hard travel, the children were no longer unnaturally clean and coiffed; they would always be scared. They would always be brave. They would not allow Kel to be the price paid for their lives.
A pretty young woman who had once stabbed a Scanran slaver to death found out where they were keeping Kel and her knights. Children threw tantrums to distract while the ex-convicts picked the locks on their doors. Tobe got the horses and kept them quiet. When they got to the main gates again, Neal ready to put them all to sleep, the guards turned around the same way they had days before and let them through.
Up in the commander’s quarters, Wyldon slept restlessly. He had told Keladry of Mindelan once that he believed the best thing that could be said of his tenure as training master was that she had been in his care. He still believed that to be true, but he had his orders. When they woke him, he would be stranded somewhere between rage and relief.
Only a handful of Haven civilians came out into the woods with Kel that night. Neal tsked about Giantkiller’s healers and worked on them all while Merric went though their stolen saddlepacks and took inventory. Fanche pulled bread, cheese, and knives out of her bulging skirts and passed them around.
Kel sat, staring at the space they would have put a fire if they had thought it was safe to light one. Neal bullied some bread into her and Merric asked, “What do we do now, Kel?”
She considered saying, “Why are you asking me?” but Kel had always been very bad at lying to herself. She looked up at the trees. Fir. Spruce. “There’s a war on,” Kel said. “No matter what they say back there, we still have a sworn duty. Or at least I do.” Her school friends were looking up at her like she held their allegiances in her callused palm. The Haven people were careful shadows, tired, certain. Tobe looked at her like he was never letting her out of his sight again. “I’m going to keep fighting.”
They took down their first Scanran raiding party the next day, finding them almost on accident. The first Haven dogs and cats skipped and sauntered into their makeshift camp the next night, curling up by the fire and dropping rabbits for the humans to clean for them.
Haven civilians and convicts began wandering in, grinning tightly, bringing stories of Giantkiller all up in arms. After the first week, once she’d figured out they might be there for good, Kel had started looking for clerks.
When Dom and most of his squad of the King’s Own walked into their camp without a single piece of official Crown livery on, Kel seized Dom by one rough, plain sleeve and dragged him to the side.
“You can’t be here,” she hissed. “Neal and Merric are as damned as I am. The refugees have nowhere safer to go, and I’m not going to keep them from a fight if they want it. But you– Raoul needs you, Dom.”
“Raoul needs us to win this war,” said Dom. “And neither of us could think of any better hands for my squad to be in than yours. If we’re going to win this, we can’t keep our best commanders in the dark.” He grinned. “Even if they’re grumpy giantesses of fugitives.”
Though her veins hummed with anger, she made herself smile mockingly as she looked at the Tirrsmont women. “Mistresses, have you ever noticed that when we disagree with a male - I hesitate to say ‘man’ - or find ourselves in a position /over/ males, the first comment they make is always about our reputations or our monthlies?”
One of the new women snorted. Others snickered.
Kel looked at the man, who was momentarily speechless. “If I disagree with you, should I place blame on the misworkings of your manhood? Or do I refrain from so serious an insult” - she made a face - “far more serious, of course, than your hint that I am a whore. Because /my/ mother taught me courtesy, I only suggest that my monthlies will come long after your hair has escaped your head entirely.”