Chapter 24

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Both horses anxiously pranced a bit, instinctively aware of the importance of this battle. And then King Nherycyn dropped the white silk which signaled them to begin. Both horses thundered down the field towards one another, kicking up clods of turf. The collision was earthshaking as both lances struck and broke. Neither knight was aware of what befell the other. Setryv, who was unhorsed, got up quickly (as quickly as one can when wearing heavy armor) and looked across the fence, hoping to see Mharkhel on the ground. Which he was. The other knight barely stirred and took a long time getting to his feet, needing the assistance of a squire to do so.

Both knights returned to their horses, mounted and prepared themselves for the second joust. Once again Nherycyn dropped the silk and the knights urged their horses on. This time it appeared Setryv was moving faster when they met. The blonde knight struck Mharkhel's shield perfectly in the center, broke his own lance and unhorsed Mharkhel in the process. Mharkhel's lance held, however, as it glanced the upper right corner of the shield. But fortunately for Mharkhel, the strike was powerful enough to knock Setryv off balance and off his horse. Setryv, while he was winning two breaks to one, cursed his misfortune. Mharkhel was again slow to rise, down on his hands and knees.

"Get up cur!" Setryv's voice rang out, the noises of the crowd dwindling to whispers. "Do not dare to quit on me! Do not deprive me of beating you outright, you bastard son of a whore!" he shouted.

Mharkhel slowly turned his helmeted head in the direction of Setryv's voice. He pushed himself up, roughly thrusting aside the squire who was trying to help him up. Though his visor was down, Setryv could feel Mharkhel staring through the narrow slits. They stood that way for long seconds before Mharkhel's brown eyes went colorless, getting that strange distant look to them. Then the dark knight made his way back to his horse.

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