Chapter 20

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Vhalkhette's horse eased his gallop into a trot and then came to a halt. She slid off and almost fell to the ground, her leg barely able to support her. She was oblivious to the cheers (mostly from those who made money off of her) as she concentrated on trying not to be sick. Vhalkhette struggled to replace the anguished look on her face with one that was slightly more dignified when she realized all the crowd's eyes were upon her. When she felt she had control of herself, she immediately sought out Mharkhel but came face-to-face with Prince Rhenycyn instead. The Prince attempted to offer her his congratulations but Vhalkhette suddenly pushed him away and moved as quickly as her leg would allow to the nearest bush where she proceeded to retch.

The Prince stood slack-jawed for a moment before he was joined by his sister and Setryv. Ellycyn commented to her brother that it was strange that he seemed to have that effect on women lately. Rhenycyn failed to find the humor in the remark, though the Princess enjoyed it immensely. The knight had all he could do to keep from laughing. He was in a pretty good mood. He had found out that he finished second, not third and earned sixty points, putting him ahead of Mharkhel. His point total was one hundred and ten to Mharkhel's one hundred and five but both trailed Vhalkhette. The blonde mercenary, as she was generally being referred to, had the lead with one hundred and sixty points. Setryv's main difficulty was that both Mharkhel and Vhalkhette had managed victories which qualified them for an opportunity to win the overall trevhette. The blonde knight would have to emerge victorious in tomorrow's jousting competition to win the trevhette. Anything less would secure the victory for Mharkhel or Vhalkhette.

After the awards for the riding event were presented, the crowd dispersed. They would relax and lounge for a short while before gathering again a bit later in the evening. At that time, with the suns still high in the sky, the most grandiose party of the Khaballean year would begin. Casks of ale and mead would be consumed, plates of exotic foods devoured. Everyone was encouraged to share in the spirit of brotherhood, by putting aside their differences and exchanging good wishes and pleasantries and making heartfelt resolutions. However, usually gossip and empty promises were what prevailed.

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