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Jollity

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"Look, I wouldn't ask you, but I have a surfeit of squires and not enough knights to take them," Alex says.

Thom eyes him suspiciously. "There are plenty of knights in Corus," he points out waspishly. "And besides, Master Oakbridge is always happy for the help."

Alex rolls his eyes in exasperation. "I'm supposed to be training fighters, Thom, not glorified administrators."

"I dare you to tell Gary that."

"Besides, I'm fairly certain that if he gets stuck with Oakbridge, he'll take the palace apart. In a very jolly way."

That catches Thom's interest. "Okay, fine."

Alex smirks. "You haven't even met the lad."

"D'you want me to take him or not?" Thom demands.

"Jesslaw! Get in here!" Alex bellows in response. Thom jumps, and Alex's smirk returns full-force. "You have an overdeveloped startle reflex, you know that?"

Thom makes a rude gesture at him, just as Squire Owen enters the office.

Alex gestures at Thom. "Jesslaw, meet your new knight-master."

Owen gulps.

Thom rolls his eyes. "I'm not going to eat you, you know."

The boy's head bobs rapidly. "Yessir. I mean, um, nossir. Um."

Alex, damn him, is laughing his fool head off.

Thom crosses his arms and regards his shiny new squire warily. "D'you want to be a fighting knight, or not?"

"Yes, sir!" Owen says with great exuberance.

Thom glares daggers at the training master. "C'mon, then, boy," he snaps, and moves to leave the office. Thom is mildly surprised when Jesslaw actually follows.

This is going to be interesting.