Chapter 20

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All the riders easily passed through the shallow water and thundered into the streets of Bhel'Ehzz. The streets of the city offered their own obstacles in the form of loose gravel, debris, merchant carts and people wandering around who did not know better. Setryv had closed the gap slightly between himself and Khavhad through the water and was holding his own while Vhalkhette maintained her lead over the breeder.

At the halfway point they lost the fourth place rider when he unsuccessfully tried to go inside of Setryv on a turn. Other than that, there was no change as they headed back towards the Royal Commons. Vhalkhette rode at a strong pace and led Khavhad by a few lengths. The breeder had been keeping pace with Vhalkhette, picking it up only when he felt threatened by Setryv. The knight pressed Khavhad on several occasions but could not overtake him. The fourth rider trailed well behind, content to wait for the others to make mistakes.

As the group approached the Commons, the riders were forced with a difficult decision: choosing which of three routes to take. The first route took you through a very narrow passageway, only wide enough for one rider, followed by a precarious succession of three jumps. Although it was the shortest route, it was by far the most difficult. The second route was a good distance longer but the passageway was not as narrow and there was only one jump as opposed to three. The third route did not offer any hazards but was much longer than even the second. In essence, it was a conservative option for the weak of heart.

There was no doubt in Vhalkhette's mind which route she would take. The first one was the shortest and if she emerged from it, she was guaranteed victory. Frustrated at following a woman the entire race and sensing his time running out, Khavhad put his heels to his Royale's flanks and urged him on towards the first route. Setryv knew only one rider could get through the narrow passageway of the first route which meant either someone would be left behind or someone would take a spill. His chances of getting through were slim, therefore, he opted for the second route. The remaining rider played it safe as he had throughout the race and selected the third route.

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