Chapter 20

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The most anticipated match of the day began amidst a light mist that developed into a steady drizzle. Both combatants wore full armor save helmets and used the sword as their weapon of preference. It was soon noted that this would not equal the thrilling show of the previous contest. While Mharkhel was clearly the aggressor, both he and Setryv fought with extreme caution.

They persisted in that fashion for the better part of the match with Mharkhel accumulating the majority of the points and administering the more telling blows. There were those, however, particularly among the knights, that sensed something was amiss. There had been a few opportunities that Mharkhel did not take advantage of. And Mharkhel was known to be a master of exploiting an adversaries' misfortune or weakness.

As the match wore on, the field became muddied and both men struggled with their movements. Soon the inevitable happened. A powerful strike by Mharkhel caused Setryv to lose his footing and slip. He went down on one knee.

Mharkhel stood over Setryv, but did not press his advantage. The two could only look at each other, neither moving, neither uttering a word. Setryv could almost hear Mharkhel's thoughts as he looked upon his face. He didn't know if it was sweat or rain or tears that ran down his friend's face. He could, however, see how difficult this was for him.

The dark knight desperately suppressed the sensations that urged him to destroy his adversary. He stepped back and allowed a stunned Setryv to regain his feet. Loud murmurs passed through the crowd. Mharkhel pressed on and Setryv fought back though confusion clearly showed on his face. He felt a sense of urgency, knowing he was behind with little time left in the match. The blonde knight tried to pick up the pace and began taking calculated risks. But Mharkhel did not falter. Nor did he take advantage of them.

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