The Nightmare Rider - chapter 09

 

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Chapter 9 of
 
  The Nightmare Rider

 

 

 


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Chapter 9

 
 
 

Phoebe rode Daalumos in and out of shadows until they finally emerged in front of the small temple. The Malzeek family stood waiting. The BloodLust felt like indulging his humor. He reared up on his hind legs and let loose an almost ear shattering shriek. After a moment of thought Tam Malzeek came forward and bowed.

"Welcome Goddess," Lord Malzeek said, offering her his hand to dismount.

Phoebe looked at his hand a moment then took it and dismounted. Tam turned to Daalumos and bowed to him as well.

"We are pleased to be greeted," Phoebe said and advanced to the family as Tam escorted her.

Celia Malzeek smiled and curtsied, "My Goddess. Your offering waits inside. May I attend you?"

Phoebe nodded, "yes."

Together they went into the temple. Soon Phoebe's armor was off and sat on a stand by a dark stone throne-like chair. A pair of delicate looking sandals with a high slender heel slipped onto her feet and a long gown was lowered over her. The effect was striking. Black silk tinted with red. Like a shadow tinged with blood or fire. A long slit off center exposed a length of shapely leg.

One by one the family members entered followed by Daalumos who stood off to the side. Sania came up and knelt at Phoebe's feet.

"Do you like it all Goddess Phoebe," the girl asked.

Phoebe leaned forward and kissed her forehead, "I am pleased. You and your new family have done well."

A boy hobbled forward and bowed as he could without falling over.

"Come closer Mica Malzeek," Phoebe commanded.

When he was within reach she slowly passed her hand over him, lingering at the small of his back then his head.

"You were injured as a babe. You fell. Because your body suffered, your mind became strong. I have never healed other than myself. I cannot assure success, only the effort. Do you wish this," Phoebe asked.

"Yes My Goddess," Mica answered. "What must I do?"

"Prepare him and take place on my altar," Phoebe ordered.

Quickly he removed his clothes and and a bucket of water was poured over him to rinse him clean. Tam picked him up and laid him on the altar then turned him over to lay face down. Phoebe stepped close. Sania stood beside her.

"I need a small amount of your blood my priestess," Phoebe stated to her.

Sania took a small knife and carefully cut her arm and let the blood drip into a wine glass then held it up.

Phoebe dipped her fingertip and drew some designs on the boy's lower back then spoke in the language of the Underworld.

" Hurt of old become new," Phoebe said.

A loud crack was heard and Mica screamed in pain.

Phoebe continued, " as you were once become again. Take rightful place and trouble no more. Mend and be as was intended from day born!"

A grinding was heard, like gravel held in hand trying to crush against itself then a final loud snap. Mica lay on the altar breathing raggedly from the pain.

"Stand up young Malzeek," Phoebe ordered. "Stand up for yourself."

Slowly Mica clambered to stand atop the altar. His previous stance was not used. He stood normally, but it was evident he was exhausted from the pain.

Phoebe nodded then gestured for him to climb down, "move about on your own."

Mica slowly shuffled around the room and began to move more confidently. Despite that, it was obvious the boy was exhausted from the pain of the healing.

"Th-thank you Goddess. How may I serve you," Mica asked.

Phoebe looked at him intently, "your body is as it should be now, but your mind is of more import. It is very strong and sharp. Use that. Acquire wealth for your family."

Mica Malzeek bowed slowly, "I will my Goddess."

Several servants had quietly entered the temple. Phoebe pointed to two.

"You two. Attend the boy. See to it he is bathed and put to bed," Phoebe instructed.

"Yes Goddess," the two maids answered and curtsied to her then went to task.

Phoebe looked down to Sania, "when I am not here, only you may sit here."

The girl smiled, "yes Goddess. Thank you!"

Sir Aldo quietly entered. Phoebe took notice and beckoned him to approach.

"Goddess. I have brought the shield Mistress Sania will have when she is ready for the Academy," Aldo stated and took the covering of the shield.

The cloth taken off Phoebe could see the Malzeek family crest adorned the front. Phoebe regarded it then stood up and went to the altar.

"Place it here," she instructed. "The other way. Show me the reverse side."

Aldo turned it over for her. Phoebe took her Vulcan sword and very carefully used only the tip. She inscribed the backside of the shield with words and art.

Phoebe rested her hand on the shield and closed her eyes. Her lips moved but no words were heard. Finally she stopped and looked to Sania.

"This shield has a touch of power. Those that smash against it will not readily wish to again," Phoebe cautioned.

Sania tried to pick up the shield but found it too heavy.

"C-can't. Goddess I can't. This means I can't have it? Will somebody else have to have it," Sania asked fearfully.

Phoebe shook her head, "no Child. You are not yet ready. You will grow and garner strength. Shield in one hand, Lance or sword in the other. I encourage this."

Phoebe went over to Daalumos and took two bags that were slung across his shoulders and set them on the altar.

"I have secured your tribute to this Academy they speak of. Only yourself stands in your way now," Phoebe said then turned to the others. "Malzeek. Guard her tribute. You may all go now. The words I will speak are for her alone."

All the adults left after showing their respect. Sir Aldo took the shield and promised it would be in her room.

Phoebe turned to Sania after they had all gone and began to strip.

"Child. You must not forget what is important. The love of the mother whom gave you birth. That love is why you have entered my service. You come from a far away hovel. These mortals have taken you in as their own. Honor them at this Academy. Only in battle against your enemies may you show rage. Keep your anger in check. Through prayer you have gained, only through hard work will you earn and keep more. I do not pray. There is no one for me to pray to. I must earn all I have and all I wish to have. You have prayed to me and I have provided for you. Now you must begin to earn," Phoebe said then began attaching her armor and boots.

Finally she swept the cloak about her shoulders, "the little girl born of a poor hovel was then. That is where you came from. Now you are the taken daughter of a great house and soon to be WarPriestess. Honor is not born, it is earned. You are a mortal and that is your way. I have no need of honor for myself. You will. Ensure that all you have is never disputed. Earn everything. I take my leave now. I will come and go at my leisure."

"Yes Goddess. I will earn everything by getting smart and strong," Sania proclaimed then curtsied as her adoptive mother had taught her.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Patrick walked through the corridor amid constant whispers. That was usual. That no one was stopping as he drew near was new. It wasn't hard to understand why. Yesterday a royal with a reputation for having an extreme hatred for Solos submitted a lengthy report upon the services performed by Solos after being under On-Assignment tutelage of one. Even the instructors gave him subtle nods of approval. None of which mattered to him. Patrick turned a corner and went outside. The urge to frown was hard to resist. Vaan Arento sat on a bench holding a rose up to smell.

"Ah! Solo Fotens," The Prince exclaimed.

He all but jumped up and bounded over to Patrick.

Patrick continued to walk, "you wouldn't ambush me out of boredom Arento; what's on your mind?"

Vaan Arento matched stride, "I read the most FASCINATING report this morning!"

"Everyday Coif and Cravat Styling for the Casual Prince," Patrick asked.

The Prince gawked. He knew Patrick Fotens was fairly quick-witted, but this was a first. He was sarcastic and joking at the same time. Even more, the comment was completely befitting and funny. Vaan laughed hard. So hard tears came to his eyes. He had to wipe his eyes as they walked toward the Ward Rooms.

"Solo Fotens it was such a pity your magnificent comment was only heard by the two of us! It was beyond legendary," Arento chuckled finally. "I must pass over fair coin for it though, never have I been so bested before."

Vaan dug into his jacket pocket and took out several coins and handed them over.

Patrick took the coins as they walked into the Solos' Ward Room. An assistant noticed them come in and nodded. Patrick opened his closet then began to undress.

"Oh yes. You wanted to know about our encounter," Vaan stated.

Patrick hung up his sword belt and took off his jacket, "play around too much and I have to charge you for Hold-Over."

"Certainly. I'll get to my point Solo Fotens. Its about Dante. He is wanting to offer up a new armor for the contest today. Would that be agreeable," Vaan asked.

Patrick shook his head, "I'll be acquiring new armor in a couple of weeks. I also have a new sword. I take it this is for the revisit of the contest?"

The Prince nodded, "it is. Well that certainly complicates matters. New Armor was going to stretch his resources as it was. What of a new uniform? I understand your actual status is intentionally in dispute."

"Eighty-Sixth," Patrick stated.

Vaan's eyes narrowed, "as the only member on roster that would make you the Commander."

Patrick shook his head, "no. I'm still a student. There is no Commander."

Vaan had also been paying attention to Patrick's actions. Solos were known to never actually need assistance donning or removing their armor unless injured. Vaan had seen the Solo joust before. Watching the young man put on his armor added more pieces to the puzzle. His hand were sure and quick, without doubt that each piece was secure.

"I see. So a new uniform of the Eighty-Sixth Regiment. Very well," Vaan Arento said then turned to leave.

Patrick stopped him at the door by commenting, "sure you wouldn't have done better to be over encouraging him?"

Vaan smiled, "oh he's being encouraged plenty."

"Doucet," Patrick rolled his eyes. "That's fairly cruel Arento. Armor isn't comfortable to begin with. It can't be any better after her influence."

Vaan chuckled, "now now. Not even I would do that. Fiona is doing other things. There is a young lady trying to inspire Dante though. She would be more suitable than the Countess. In fact I heard he has been quite smitten with her for some time and that it just happens to be mutual."

Patrick nodded as the flamboyant prince left. Finally he took out his helmet and shield then closed the closet and went over to the stable. Daemon stood ready and waiting. The stable-hand held Patrick's shield and helmet while he mounted then handed them up. Patrick rode out of the stable heading to the arena. Patrick entered and was greeted by cheers from the others in the class. Lorenz Dante entered from the other side to be greeted as well. A girl had been walking beside him then after a quick word went back into the tunnel and stood just inside. Dante urged his horse forward, so Patrick did as well. They met in the center.

"I feel fit and ready to revisit Solo Fotens. However I would like to offer up something. Should you be the victor I'd like provide you a new uniform as a bonus of sorts," Dante said loudly.

Patrick nodded and replied loudly as well, "agreeable. You do look fit. I expect the best of you Dante as I see you have no need for care."

Dante settled into his saddle, "Oh I wouldn't dream of insulting you with anything less."

Both saluted each other then rode back. Assistants handed up shields and lances.

"Daemon. Battle," Patrick said.

The robotic horse went into its combat mode and would only be controlled by Patrick's feet and knees. Patrick moved over to his starting position then shifted to settle in his saddle. Dante appeared to do the same as an official moved to the center point and held the flag out. Patrick tightened his grip on the lance.

"GO," the official yelled lifting the flag and running clear.

Patrick's command set Daemon to lunge forward and take stride. At the other end Dante's horse broke from the standstill and raced toward the opposite side. Patrick was sitting square in his saddle holding the shield at a slight in and down angle. He aimed directly for just above dead center of Dante's shield. Both lances connected, Dante's snapping off and Patrick's shattered. Patrick was pushed to bend back but Dante was taken completely off to turn in mid-air and fall face down to the soft sand.

"OH!" the students in the stands exploded, along with several whistles and whoops.

Lorenz Dante grunted then began to move to stand. Applause and several shouted encouragements urged him up. He regained his feet and flipped up his visor. He raised his left arm to signal that he was fit to continue and the clapping and whistles grew. Dante remounted his horse and took the shield from the official and rode back, passing Fotens with a salute. They took their places after taking up new lances.

The small crowd were divided in their support. The louder support seemed to be in Lorenz Dante's favor though the support for Patrick Fotens wasn't silent. The Official checked both sides then took his own ready position again and the crowd softened their calls.

"GO," the official yelled and ran clear again.

Daemon went up on his hind legs and hopped once then launched himself to race forward. Dante's horse bolted forward into a dead run. Dante leaned forward into his saddle, but held his lance back to his side. They closed on each other at a fast clip. Patrick's lance made the first contact just down and left of center. He felt the shock of impact and flexed to hold it. Dante rammed his lance forward to slam just below center of Patrick's shield. Both lances shattered from the impact. Patrick twisted in his saddle to stay mounted as did Lorenz. It was all the Gentry could do to keep from being ripped from his position.

Again the crowd exclaimed. Both lances had shattered but neither rider was unhorsed. Points went to both. At the end of the lanes they flipped up their visors and trotted back. Lorenz rode with his broken lance held high prompting his supporters to cheer louder. The damaged lances were discarded. Dante drank from a bottle of water then took up a new lance and moved to his starting position. Patrick had already exchanged lances and sat ready. A few members of the crowd began to stomp and clap in tandem while some whistled as the official checked both then held the flag ready.

"GO," he yelled and ran clear.

Daemon launched himself forward and tore down the lane. Dante's horse lunged into a full run. The two raced for opposite ends. Lorenz sat leaning slightly back this time holding his lance just forward of his line aiming below and left of center of Patrick's shield. Patrick aimed dead-center and rode straight in the saddle. Just as they crossed; Daemon lunged for a longer stride, Patrick leaned forward and rammed his lance forward. Both lances shattered but Dante had tensed at Patrick's tactic and was pushed completely over. One thing that couldn't be argued, Dante knew how to hit the ground safely. He had twisted slightly at the last instant of leaving the saddle to land on his back, instead of face down.

"OOH!" The crowd exclaimed and immediately began to yell for him to recover. "UP! C'MON DANTE GET UP!"

Lorenz Dante struggled for a moment to breathe and shoved the visor up. The impact had knocked the wind out of him. Quickly he forced himself to cough and that broke the effect. Dante sucked in air loudly then rolled over and coughed again.

"Dante are you alright," the official asked after running over.

Lorenz nodded then coughed again before saying, "wind knocked out of me."

"Can you continue," the official asked.

Dante forced himself to his feet, "I am definitely FIT TO CONTINUE."

The stands cheered even louder. Many began to alternate stomping and clapping to encourage him. Lorenz leaned the broken lance against his horse and hung his shield on the side then climbed up. He took the lance first then shield and nodded to Patrick as they returned to starting positions. Dante drank deep of the water again then snapped his visor down and took the new lance.

The girl in the tunnel ran forward, "Lorenz! Are you sure? Really sure?"

Lorenz Dante nodded, "I'm good Nia."

Dante eased his horse away and took his starting position. The loud cheering, stomping and clapping suddenly stopped. The Official checked both sides as the arena became silent as a tomb. The flag was held ready.

"GO," the official yelled and ran clear.

Both horses lunged forward and ran the length of the lanes. Dante leaned forward in his saddle and angled his shield down slightly while tucking his lance to hold position tight. Patrick also leaned forward, shield angled inward and his lance held even with his line. As they drew close Patrick nudged Daemon who again lunged forward for a longer stride as the lances crossed. Dante's lance broke as it slid to the side. Patrick had thrust his lance forward as contact was made aiming low on the shield. The lance shattered as Lorenz was lifted out of the saddle and thrown back. The crowd held its breath watching as the Gentry practically flew backwards to land in the sand.

"LORENZ," the girl cried out and ran for the downed rider.

The official and Sir Belvin rushed out as well, along with the assistants for both sides. Patrick brought Daemon to a stop.

"Daemon. Ride," Patrick said, switching back to normal riding mode then dismounted.

Sir Belvin flipped up Dante's visor and looked, "he's out. Give me a capsule."

One of the assistants reached into a pouch and handed over a white tube-like thing. Sir Belvin snapped it at the middle and waved it under Dante's nose.

"C'mon Dante. Wake up," Sir Belvin said waving it back and forth.

A moment later Lorenz groaned and began to stir.

Sir Belvin nodded to the others then cautioned him, "easy there. Just relax. Are you hurt?"

"Ow. Fotens got me good. Didn't he," Lorenz asked.

Patrick had joined them and was looking down, "I did. Are you hurt?"

Dante gave him a lopsided grin, "I gave you all I had. I didn't hold back."

Patrick nodded, "I know. You didn't let me down. You want to get up or should I charge you for making your new girlfriend get clingy and caring?"

The girl glared at Patrick angrily but Lorenz Dante laughed.

"I think I should get up before I get accused of milking this," Dante grinned.

Patrick offered his hand and the Gentry took it and together they got him to his feet. The stands cheered as they saluted each other.

"I know a great place in town. I'll talk to the tailor tomorrow," Dante said.

"Save for the weekend. Have her look after you for a while first," Patrick said, turned away and took a few steps then stopped. "I'm satisfied Dante."

Lorenz Dante nodded and let his girlfriend escort him away as Patrick went over to Daemon and collected his shield.

"Daemon. Follow," Patrick ordered.

The robotic horse followed dutifully and entered the tunnel. At the middle a figure lounged against the wall.

"Nicely done," Jeffries Talfar said with a cold smile. "Quite the favor. Weeding out the Lessers before Tournament selection."

Patrick stepped closer, "favor."

The future Duke chuckled. Patrick's fist moved like lightening and slammed into Talfar's gut, making him double over and vomit then collapse.

The Solo grabbed the noble and yanked him back to his feet and rammed him back to the wall hard enough to daze him before letting him fall to the ground again.

"So you're saying that I performed a favor for you," Patrick asked blandly as he advanced again.

Jeffries Talfar began to crawl away trying to wave him off, "n-no. No. No favor! N-never say anything again!"

Patrick practically towered over the obnoxious noble. A bit of power slipped. Talfar's mind was invaded with the image of himself having his helmet ripped off by a lance and his face scarred. Patrick seized back the the power and left the cowering Talfar's mind.

"You think too highly of yourself Talfar. I could change that. You implied personal involvement. Maybe we should be. PERSONALLY involved," Patrick growled.

Talfar scooted back towards the arena end of the tunnel shaking his head, "No Fotens! No! I didn't mean it! I was just mouthing off about that being a favor!"

They had re-entered the arena. Unfortunately for the future duke, there were still a lot of people milling about in the stands talking about the match. They turned to see what was happening.

"No Solo Fotens I was just mouthing off! I didn't mean to say that I considered defeating Dante a favor! I was just running my mouth off," Talfar protested.

Patrick stayed on the advance, "No Talfar. You said I gave you quite a favor for weeding out a lesser before Tournament selection. The problem with that is; I am a Solo. I don't do favors. You're claiming I did one for you. That is a problem Talfar. A big problem."

"I DIDN'T MEAN IT! I WAS JUST MOUTHING OFF," Jeffries Talfar pleaded.

He then noticed where he was and people could see. They could see and now knew he had crossed the line. The big problem for him now, was that the angry Solo wasn't backing down. What happened in the tunnel hadn't been seen. Or so he thought until Fiona Doucet and Vaan Arento stepped out into the arena from the same tunnel. He had no doubt they had heard and seen everything.

Sir Belvin called out, "is this a challenge issue?"

"No," Patrick answered stalking closer to Talfar. "I'm just going to tear his face off. That will satisfy my PERSONAL involvement."

Talfar scrambled to his feet finally and ran, but not before those that had stayed saw that his usually immaculate uniform was soiled with dirt, sand and his own vomit.

Patrick made to go after him but was stopped by Sir Belvin.

"That's enough Solo. Do not pursue him," Sir Belvin ordered.

Fiona and Vaan had joined them.

"Please Solo Fotens. Let us deal with this. I assure you it shall be resolved to satisfaction," Fiona stated then went after Talfar.

Patrick glared, "he said Favor."

Vaan Arento said quietly, "please let Fiona deal with Jeffries Talfar. If she does what I think she will, not only will you be satisfied; you'll be amused. I swear to you Solo Fotens, this will not go without retribution. In fact if Fiona does not offer to pay you to claim the offense I will. Please state a price."

Patrick regarded the royal. It was very rare that Vaan Arento put aside being a fop to be actually serious. This was one of those times.

"Three hundred and you own him," Patrick said flatly.

Vaan nodded, "You'll have it by mid-day tomorrow."

Patrick turned and walked away.

Vaan sighed in relief, "that was close."

"You're not kidding. I was beginning to think Fotens wasn't going to stop or at least listen to reason," Sir Belvin remarked.

"Fiona and I saw Talfar skulking about and thought it best if we were close by. We were right. In the tunnel he said that he considered it great favor that Solo Fotens defeated Dante. He called it 'weeding out the Lessers before Tournament selection'. That's what enraged Solo Fotens, remarking that it was a favor to Talfar. Solo Fotens actually is within his right as Talfar crossed a very serious line," Prince Vaan informed the jousting instructor.

Sir Belvin grew angry, "DAMN! I have to go to Headmaster with this Prince Arento. Inform the Countess she is to bring Jeffries Talfar to the Headmaster's office immediately!"

Both left the arena.

 

~*~*~*~

 

The Headmaster shook his head, "This could get further out of hand than it already is Ren."

Ren Belvin nodded, "very and it is within Solos' rights to take action. Prince Arento made a purchase offer for Talfar's punishment from Solo Fotens. I have the feeling that Solo Fotens didn't really want to agree to it. The prince more than likely has the money and would pay but that gives him a superior position. I strongly advise you to get ahead of this, FAST!"

A moment later there was a knock on the door.

"Come," the Headmaster called out.

The door opened and in walked Countess Fiona Doucet. Behind her were two members of the student council pulling Jeffries Talfar between them roughly as Prince Vaan Arento calmly followed the procession.

The Headmaster nodded, "the subjects of our conversation."

"Take your hands off me," Talfar protested and struggled for release.

"The two of you may go. Thank you," The Headmaster instructed the two young men who promptly turned and left.

Talfar glared, "when my father hears about THIS!"

The Headmaster stood up quickly, "SILENCE!"

He walked out from behind his desk, "Prince Arento. I understand you negotiated the purchase of Jeffries Talfar's punishment from Solo Patrick Fotens. Correct?"

Vaan smiled charmingly, "indeed I did. Not my usual financial pursuit, but one I can find quite interesting for a while."

"It is the view of the Academy that the purchase should be made by us instead. Punishment will be met through the Student council but only after approval by myself. Sir Belvin. Should Solo Fotens still be on the grounds inform him of this and to see me first thing in the morning to collect his fee and submit a ticket," the Headmaster stated.

Vaan frowned but nodded, "very well Headmaster."

The Prince then leered at the future Duke, "such a pity. I was already starting to think of some rather AMUSING things for you Jeffries."

Talfar glared at the Prince. Had they been anywhere but the Headmaster's office, he would have showed more defiance. As it was though, he could do nothing. To defy the Headmaster would be grounds for expulsion and denial to be re-admitted. Talfar also knew that even with the influence his father had, there was no disputing the authority of the Academy's Headmaster. If he even protested then his father would get involved and he would face more than just the punishment.

To the Talfar family Solos were disposable weaponry. Use them then discard. Solos paid well never created problems, they solved them. A future Duke that insulted Solos would be a problem. A problem that the Solos would solve and charge heavily for. With that in mind, Jeffries Talfar kept his mouth shut.

"Well Countess. What do you have in mind," the Headmaster asked.

Fiona walked over and whispered into his ear then stepped back smiling.

"That's rather dramatic. It can be argued," the Headmaster countered.

Fiona shook her head and produced a small recorder. She activated it and the entire exchange between Talfar and Fotens could be heard clearly. That eliminated any and all doubt of Talfar's guilt. He knew his choices; accept whatever punishment the Academy doled out or face a Solo's fury. If he took the first there was the off chance his father would not be made aware. If he faced Fotens then its was a sure thing his father would be made aware when he received the ticket; for more than what had been negotiated to Arento. One thing Talfar did know for certain, the regiment Patrick Fotens had come from had a solid reputation. A negative report from such a regiment would affect the Talfars' abilities, especially his, to hire Solos in the future. Without Solos the family's army would have to fight for themselves. That was not they way they fought. Why risk their own men when hired fighters were available?

The Headmaster could see that Fiona was dead-set on her idea, "Talfar return to your dorm and report my office first thing in the morning. Go. Countess stay behind."

Jeffries Talfar left. Outside all heads were turning to watch him. Word had spread fast. Now he knew how that brat Jessica had felt somewhat. In truth, he had done worse. It was evident when he reached the main corridor. It was full and students moved to the walls to glare with disapproval as he approached. Basically he was taking a walk of shame.

In the office the Headmaster sat down behind his desk, "you could be going too far Countess to want this."

"Contact the Duke Talfar. He will not refuse if I issue the punishment and charges," Fiona said coldly.

Slowly the Headmaster reached and put through the call. It was answered immediately and within minutes the Duke came onto the line.

"Duke Talfar. Apologies for interrupting you," Fiona said.

Duke Talfar asked, "Countess Doucet? Fiona? This is a surprise. I thought the Headmaster was calling."

Fiona cleared her throat, "he placed the call. There is a problem with your son Duke Talfar."

"Oh my. This is in your official capacity as the Head of Student Council. Very well Countess. What has he done," Duke Talfar asked.

Fiona spoke clearly and carefully, "after a contest between a Solo and a Gentry that was a revisit due to injury. Your son said to the Solo that he considered the defeat of the Gentry a favor. As he put it; weeding out the Lessers before Tournament selection. Naturally the Solo has taken offense for the allegation. This Solo is the only remaining member of the Eighty-Sixth regiment."

Duke Talfar sighed, "the Eighty-Sixth. Impeccable record for that regiment. The fact that only one remains speaks volumes to me Countess. It sounds like a Solo not to be taken lightly."

"Indeed. Very professional. Duke Talfar there is no doubt at all as your son's actions. Two witnesses and a record. I have to inform you that one of those witnesses is myself," Fiona admitted.

"I see. Jeffries has done things up completely I gather. What are the options," Duke Talfar said tightly.

Fiona and the Headmaster both could tell he was doing all he could not to lose his temper.

"The Solo will allow the Academy to administer a punishment for a penalty fee of three hundred coins. The punishment would involve a degree of humiliation," Fiona stated.

Duke Talfar ground out, "very well. So be it. I will reimburse the penalty fee. Do as you see fit Countess. Good day."

The call was disconnected.

The Headmaster shook his head, "he didn't even ask what you had in store."

Fiona shook her head, "it doesn't matter to him. The Talfars can't afford a respected Solo speaking against them. No matter what I do to Jeffries Talfar, his father will do much worse later on."

Fiona Doucet turned and walked out, closing the door behind her.

"One day Countess; you may actually go too far. I have the feeling though that you would still be justified. Humility goes a long way. Must you go so far as to use humiliation to teach it," the Headmaster mused in the now empty room.
 
 
 
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