Chapter 20

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Calculated risks soon turned into gambles and a second misstep combined with a thunderous blow from the dark knight sent Setryv sprawling. He scrambled for his weapon, did a roll and struggled awkwardly to his feet in a bad defensive posture. But it was all for naught. Mharkhel had remained where he was, content to grant Setryv a second respite.

The crowd, Ellycyn and her brother included, was in disbelief. Rumor was widespread concerning the strange love triangle and it was generally thought that if Mharkhel had the opportunity to inflict serious bodily harm on Setryv, he would. Some went so far as to say that one less knight would certainly simplify the matter. And the point could be well argued that Mharkhel had the opportunity to bring to fruition any or all of those notions. But to the dismay of the crowd, Mharkhel was satisfied to continue to just score points and not make any mistakes until the match ended.

Which it eventually did. A trumpet sounded signaling the end of the match. It was only the second one of the day to be determined by points and clearly Ellycyn and Rhenycyn were solitary in their gratitude for it. Setryv, a slight smile on his face despite his labored breathing, lowered his sword and reached a hand out to his friend. After studying the hand for a moment, Mharkhel turned his back and awaited the decision.

There was little anticipation as the judges tabulated their scores. It was quite evident who the victor was and there was no surprise when it was announced. Mharkhel left the field less than enthusiastic. He had deprived himself of Ellycyn and had squandered an opportunity to take his misguided revenge on Setryv. Looking at him trudge slowly away, one might have thought that he had been beaten instead of emerging victorious. Setryv would have argued that Mharkhel actually had lost. After all, Mharkhel was really fighting himself and whatever the outcome, one part of him would be lost. Setryv just hoped it would be the right one.

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