Chapter 20

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Vhalk had all he could do to defend himself, even against the half-hearted attacks by Mharkhel. The first blow that landed sent him to his knees. The knight waited for Vhalk to struggle to his feet. That brought loud comments from the crowd to the judges who now began to be sympathetic to Mharkhel's plight. It took only a glancing strike to bring Vhalk to the ground on their next encounter. Without looking to the judges, Mharkhel thrust his sword into the ground and began to leave the field. The judges, already feeling the pressure of the crowd, declared the match over and Mharkhel the champion of the first trevhette event.

The cheers for the knight turned to gasps of astonishment as Vhalk, now on his feet, threw his helmet down in disgust. Actually, she threw her helmet down in disgust. Long, golden locks fell about her shoulders and she angrily called out to Mharkhel, "Were it not for this leg…"

Mharkhel turned and was stunned when he realized that his opponent had been a woman. Then shock gave way to chivalry and he ran back to help her. He was speechless for a moment as he looked upon her. She was very pretty and her delicate features contrasted sharply with the persona of the warrior he had just been battling. "I am sorry. I had no idea… had I known…" Mharkhel was fumbling badly. "Here, let me help you, Vhalk."

"Shut up. And get your hands off me." Her dark brown eyes flashed a warning as she pushed the big knight and began limping away. Then she stopped and turned back to him. "And my name, Sir Knight," she said with a touch of sarcasm, "is Vhalkhette and tomorrow you will not fare as well in the riding event. Tomorrow you will be leaving the field in defeat. Tomorrow, the day will be mine."

And Mharkhel did not doubt it.


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