The Nightmare Rider - chapter 08


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Chapter 8 of
  The Nightmare Rider




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Chapter 8


Patrick woke and stood up. A moment later there was a knock followed by a maid entering.

"Pardon me Sir. I came to wake you. I see you're awake already. May I help you with anything," the maid asked.

Patrick shook his head, "nothing for me. Wake up Weyden. Were you given any other instructions?"

The maid nodded, "yes Sir. The cook is already awake and ready for whatever you wish for breakfast."

"Breakfast steak, thick, three eggs, fried potatoes for myself. Prepare the same for Weyden but only by half. Oh and toast or biscuits," Patrick listed. "We'll eat in the kitchen."

"Sir, the Baron is joining your breakfast. You'll have to be served in the dining room," The maid informed him.

Patrick merely grunted and waved her off. The maid rushed to Jessica's room and woke her then offered to help her get ready. She was very surprised when Jessica told her make-up and hair-styling wouldn't be needed and began to get ready for armor. The maid helped her install each piece.

"You assist often," Jessica asked.

The maid shook her head, "No your Highness. I apologize if I am doing something wrong."

Jessica smiled to her, "not wrong. Just a little slow. Speed comes from repetition though. I've gotten used to doing for myself now. Solos don't have anybody to do for them so I had to learn myself. I was rather spoiled."

While Jessica buckled on the sword belt and combat sword the maid ensured all her things were packed away, including the dress and shoes she had been given. Jessica followed her downstairs to join Patrick and the Baron at the table.

"Your Highness, good morning. Right here if you would," The Baron stood and seated Jessica at the head of the table.

Jessica sat, "thank you Baron Larkiel."

The plates of food were brought in.

Larkiel noticed and asked, "I'm rather curious as to why you're having that?"

Patrick looked up, "It lasts longer and doesn't slow us down later."

The Baron, to his credit, was very quick on the uptake to realize the implied meaning. It meant they would be less likely to have to stop to relieve themselves by eating those particular foodstuffs. Also that it would be with them longer, meaning they would not have to eat on the go until much later.

"I understand. Highness, I envy you the knowledge you are receiving. I confess I never had this kind of close interaction with Solos before. I find it very enlightening. I count myself lucky to have have needed the services of Solos only a few times. You see I went to the Academy with Solo Fotens former Commander. He was impressive back then. The consummate professional. I only hired him and those that served under him. That is why I hired Solos Fotens. I knew the results I would be paying for. Money well spent. I'm even more glad that I continued to do so. Professional of the caliber to be educating a Princess in the ways of the Solos is quite the feature for a ledger," Larkiel stated.

Jessica sipped her juice, "That's a bold statement."

Larkiel shook his head, "its a FACTUAL statement Highness. When results matter most, it is best to bring in Solos. I can understand why you are under Solo Fotens charge. Had I a child still at the Academy, I would consider it myself. It will serve you well to learn as much as you can from Solo Fotens. Many make mistakes when they hire Solos, especially the first time. You will have knowledge others will not that will keep from committing offense. Far better to pay a little more to ensure you are getting exactly what you seek than to pay penalties for making mistakes and quite possibly not getting anything at all."

Jessica felt the temptation to comment about tricking a Solo into providing a higher value service at a lower initial agreement. She almost did then remembered Patrick's instructions of not running her mouth off.

"I'll remember that," Jessica said.

They finished eating and left the table. The butler met them in the hall.

"My Lord; their horses are ready and waiting," the butler informed him.

"Thank you," Larkiel replied and led them outside.

A stable-hand stood ready by Jessica's horse. He bowed to her then assisted her to mount Mars. When she settled into her saddle he handed her the lance as well.

"Highness I noticed your lance was damaged. I replaced it. Sir I checked your lance. It only needed recharging. Both horses were cleaned and recharged to Full," the stable-hand informed him.

"Good," Patrick replied. "How much for the lance?"

Baron Larkiel shook his head, "count it as an expense. It was a lance from the Academy wasn't it?"

Jessica nodded, "it was."

"I'm sure they'd rather a new one than a damaged one. If they have any questions please have them contact me directly," the Baron instructed.

"Thank you," Jessica said then turned to Patrick. "All set."

Patrick nodded to the Baron, "Larkiel."

"Good journey to you both," the Baron replied.

With that the two rode out. Outside the gate of the grounds Patrick sped them up to a light gallop. When they reached the edge of town Jessica was confused when he directed them off the roadway and across open fields at a hard gallop.

"We won't make back in time unless we cut across country. It will be rougher but faster. Without the wagon following we can do it," Patrick told her.

Jessica answered back, "you know best. I'm right behind you."

For hours they rode. Passing down game trails and racing across natural meadows. Every now and then they passed over roads. Once a small village had been in view but Patrick ignored it and rode on with Jessica following directly behind. At midday they slowed to a walk.

"THAT was a hard ride," Jessica commented, glad to slow down.

Patrick stopped and dismounted, "we need to walk for a while."

Jessica did the same and walked beside him, "do we have the time?"

Patrick reached into his saddlebag and brought out a map and held it up as they walked.

"We started here. The Academy is here. With the exception of these two rivers, its a straight ride. Now that looks like half a day but its not. Its a full day. We left before sunrise so we'll get back before or just at sunset unless something happens," Patrick informed her.

Jessica looked at the map in wonder, "this is so detailed!"

"Only Solos carry maps like this. They're made by the Fourth Battalion FreeBooters. Its a really big battalion. Most have four or five companies. The Fourth has ten. Four of which are tasked specifically for map making. They create the maps and sell them. Only Solos can buy them," Patrick said.

Jessica looked disappointed for a moment then realized she needed to set it aside. Now that they were going slow, it was a good time to learn.

"Fourth Regiment and Battalion are investigators. Let's say I forget who specializes in what; how do I find out again," Jessica asked.

Patrick put the map away, "any village of a considerable size will have a registry. Big or small depends on the size of the place. You can go there and ask for listings for a fee. Once per month the listings are updated. The list states the units, size and what they do. You can ask the registrar to short-list for you for another processing fee. Most units check in with offices as they travel. When you get the short list you can have it any way you want. They'll list those units by size, price, location; whatever your priority is."

Jessica thought about that but wanted to revisit something else, "ok Baron Larkiel made some comments at the table this morning. He acts like the whole matter of tricking you meant nothing."

"He paid the fees so it doesn't anymore. Once the right total was paid the account was settled and the contract was closed. End of story," Patrick replied.

Jessica frowned, "but you were hired under false pretenses!"

Patrick stopped and sighed, "people lie Weyden. Its not the first time and won't be the last. Everybody wants something and they'll do what it takes to get it or keep it. Some lies are small, some are big. The thing is, what do you do when you've been caught in that lie. Larkiel admitted to the lie right when the job was done. He didn't have to. To him, it was justifiable. The only guilt he felt was that you were involved. However he did confess instead of being caught so he's off the hook. He made the account right, so it doesn't go against him for the record."

"Still though," Jessica muttered.

"Everybody lies about something sometime. Doesn't matter what or why to me. They think they have a reason and I don't care. I generally know when and sometimes I can even figure out what the lie is. The main point is; they always pay for lying to me. I've yet to encounter a lie that can't be settled. Everything has a price Weyden. What you are willing to pay is the question," Patrick said.

For half an hour they talked while they walked then remounted and continued on at the same speed.




Fiona Doucet sat quietly watching the training going on down in the arena. Few knew she was there. The ones that knew where she was sitting was even fewer. She liked her secret viewing spot. Down below the third years were training.

"Dante looks to be recovered," a voice said beside her.

"Hello your Highness," Fiona smiled.

Prince Vaan Arento sat down beside her, "our fickle Fiona. You know you're quite welcome to call me by name only."

Fiona continued to smile, "I know Vaan. So how many girls have you made to blush and how many boys have you terrorized today?"

"Not nearly enough," the flamboyant Prince chuckled. "Oh its a good thing that was a target. Dante would have took a real person out of their saddle with that strike."

Fiona nodded, "textbook form. That's his problem. I pity him day after tomorrow."

Vaan sighed, "ah yes. His rematch with the delicious Patrick Fotens, Solo Extraordinaire! It will be a pitiful sight, but I'll be watching as well."

"He has you THAT worried," Fiona asked with a sly giggle.

Vaan laughed, "oh my wonderful best friend; I would have to be the fool everyone is convinced I am to not be worried. His strength alone is cause enough for concern. Add in his skill and it grows to worry. If his record became common knowledge then many of our underclass would wet themselves in fright to see him opposing them!"

Fiona nodded, "some of the upper-class as well."

"Indeed. I do wonder what tricks your would-be suitor has in store. I'm sure this year will take a dramatic turn for the nasty," Vaan remarked.

"What is his bounty on you," Fiona asked.

Vaan chuckled, "nothing escapes you. Two hundred coins to unhorse me three lances. Six hundred to claim my helmet. I heard one young man say that he was going to challenge you for your panties. Another simply wants a kiss if he can stay on his horse against you."

"Amusing and sweet. Nice combination. I'll probably give the kiss regardless. Its not me I'm worried about," Fiona admitted.

This got the Prince interested, "OH? Fiona what juicy gossip have you this time?"

Fiona checked to make sure no one was around then whispered, "If Patrick Fotens places higher than Jessica Weyden then she will be having a liaison with him after graduation. If he wins she'll be pulled from the Academy for it to be immediately. Queen Lellaa herself negotiated the contract."

"OH MY! And Jessica knows? Where is she by the way," Vaan asked concerned.

Fiona nodded, "she knows. Um, she accompanied him on an assignment. As his apprentice. They're due back this evening."

Vaan sat and listened as Fiona explained the whole situation. Finally he sighed.

"Rather underhanded for her Majesty. I've no doubt it will be effective though. Jessica will be slapped out of her mindset. I believe she will change for the better and be able to buy out of the contract. However she is more than likely too upset over the whole thing to ask about that of Fotens. I'm sad that neither of us can do anything to help her. Only she can do for herself. Its time she did put away childish things," Vaan remarked then leaned over and kissed her cheek. "Just take care not to take your frustration out on me."

Fiona laughed, "I'll be fair. I'll win but I'll be fair to you Vaan. You're my only friend after all."

"Oh. I just remembered. There's a lottery going on among the first and second years to be your squires," Vaan chuckled.

Fiona laughed again, "what about you?"

Vaan smiled devilishly, "I found a lovely set of twins."

The Countess shook her head giggling, "you're absolutely shameless Vaan."

Prince Vaan Arento winked and left.




Down on the ground someone edged back in the tunnel and left. The young man rushed over to the High Nobles' lounge and went in. In the far corner by a bookcase sat a young man. He wore white riding pants and shirt with a red velvet jacket trimmed in gold.

"So. What's going on out there Eaton," He asked.

Eaton Laanower replied, "Dante is looking strong but he's still stupid. You won't have anything to worry about with him Jeffries."

Jeffries Talfar casually turned the page of the book he was reading, "did Fiona see you?"

The young Lord shook his head, "she wasn't there. I didn't see her."

The future Duke of Bergitan smirked, "Fiona was there. She has a very good hiding place to watch from. What else did you see?"

"Not much of anything. I did see a woman dressed like a royal talking to Sir Belvin," Eaton commented.

Talfar nodded, "Lellaa Weyden. The Queen of Lurbourg. Was Jessica training?"

Eaton leaned against another chair, "no. She wasn't there at all. In fact nobody has seen her for a few days."

"She must be still humiliated after losing her family sword," Talfar chuckled.

"Its not lost. That Queen has it. I saw her wearing it down there," Eaton informed him.

Talfar finally looked up, "What?"

Eaton nodded, "That Queen has the sword."

Jeffries Talfar looked confused, "how can that be? The sword was part of the penalty if Jessica lost to that Solo bastard Fotens. The sword and a hundred coins. How can her mother have it?"

"If anybody knows, they aren't saying. Maybe he sold it back," Eaton Laanower proposed.

"Solos don't ransom. Find out. What was he doing down there," Talfar asked.

Eaton shrugged, "he wasn't there either. He's on assignment."

Talfar waved him to go.




It was late afternoon when one of the towns close to the Academy came into view.

"Is that what I think it is," Jessica called out.

"Pendona," Patrick answered. "Ten minutes."

Jessica felt elated, "and the Academy five minutes after!"

"If we hold the pace Weyden. Can you handle it," Patrick asked.

"DEFINITELY," Jessica laughed.

They held the hard pace and only slowed when they could see the gate of the Academy. The two rode in and stopped at the stables. A stable-hand ran out and greeted them as Jessica dismounted.

Patrick however rode his horse after signaling she should follow him. They checked in with the office. Jessica was confirmed to be back then Patrick signed back in.

"So what now," Jessica asked.

Patrick pushed the clipboard back, "whatever it is that you do. The assignment is over. I am no longer in charge of you Weyden."

He turned to the secretary, "I'll be back in the morning to resume courses."

"Certainly Solo Fotens. Have a good evening," She replied.

Jessica nodded to him, "Solo Fotens. Oh, before you go. Do both towns have a registry?"

Patrick nodded, "yes and both close in three hours."

"Thank you," Jessica said and rushed off.

Patrick left. He remounted Daemon and rode out. Twenty minutes later he stopped in front of the shack and began to take his things inside. Daemon was brought inside and shut down to save the battery. Patrick hide everything carefully, including the armor then went into the darkened room.

"Welcome back my Mistress," Daalumos said with a chuckle.

Phoebe padded forward on her bare feet, "I felt you leave us when the town came into view."

The Lust followed her to the bath and stood talking while she began to clean up, "there was no need for me to be there so I returned. No mortals have invaded our place."

After rinsing off Phoebe sighed as she settled into the deep bath, "tonight should be quiet. Tomorrow night we visit our little priestess."

"That should be interesting. If we are staying in then I am going to rest," Daalumos remarked.

Phoebe nodded and waved the demon away. Thirty minutes later she sat on her throne and let herself drift off to sleep.




Jessica all but burst into her room and began quickly taking off the borrowed armor. It was more like she was flinging it off. In moments she was naked and jumping into her shower. Many long minutes later she came out toweling off and squealed in surprise.

"MOTHER! Oh Mother you almost gave me heart failure," Jessica complained.

Lellaa gestured to the discarded armor and clothing, "you seemed to be in quite the hurry."

Jessica nodded then began to brush her hair, "I have to hurry! The Solo Registry closes soon and there are some things I need to get."

"OH? Like what," the Queen asked.

Jessica was using a hair drier so had to speak louder, "I need to get the current listings. I have to submit a report about Solos, remember? I can't do a half measure!"

Lellaa knew that her daughter wouldn't be able to hear her so waited until she was finished. Quietly she sat while Jessica styled her hair in a simple fashion and applied basic make-up then dressed.

"My my. You certainly look bent on a mission," Lellaa remarked watching Jessica put on her clothes.

"I am Mother," Jessica replied then called down to the stable. "This is Princess Jessica Weyden. Has my horse charged enough to go into town and back? Excellent. Could you please saddle him for me and have him at the front entrance. My Ladies' saddle please. Thank you."

"Mine as well," Lellaa said quickly.

Jessica added, "Queen Weyden's horse as well. Thank you."

Lellaa switched her shoes to riding boots while Jessica put on her own then buckled on the plain sword. She wanted to chuckle to herself when she saw Jessica adjust the belt to sit similar to those favored by Solos.

"Hurry Mother! They'll close soon," Jessica urged.

Lellaa did her best and held back a laugh, "yes yes Jessica. I'm coming. There, I'm ready."

Quickly they went down to the front entrance, pausing for Jessica to sign out, then mounted their waiting horses. Two hours later they returned. Jessica held a clutch of papers and wore a new sword.




"Class. I'm suspending the normal lesson today. Princess Weyden has a special report and will be presenting it to the class," Dame Ayalla announced.

Everyone quieted and watched as Jessica left her seat and went to the front. The Headmaster and Queen Lellaa sat in the back. Outside the door Countess Fiona Doucet listened.

Jessica nodded to the teacher, "thank you Dame Ayalla. I've been absent the past few days for some very special lessons. I was under the tutelage of Solo Patrick Fotens. You see, for quite some time my view of Solos has been very inappropriate. I could put it a different way, but that would be wrong. I was wrong. My mother learned Solo Fotens was undertaking an assignment. She thought it would be educational for me to accompany him and learn the ways of Solos. My mother was right. In Solo Fotens charge I learned many things that are not taught here in the Academy. In short, I was posing as his apprentice. My instructions were fairly simply, though the task was not. Please indulge me as I present this report of my experiences."

The class, except Patrick, sat shocked to hear where she had been. They sat paying rapt attention as she held her paper and began to read.

"There are many that view Solos in a harsh light. Unfortunately there are many more that view Solos in an incorrect light. I was one of those. My view was that Solos were nothing more than thugs for hire. I was so very wrong. A Solo has only the terms of the contract. No home, no country, no allies, no friends, no politics and no ego. They are frequently heaped with insults and disrespect. I should know, as I did so myself and I am ashamed of myself for it," she had said all that without looking at her papers but began to now.

Jessica read, "Solos are able to provide a variety of services beyond supplementing fighting forces on the battlefield. They can be hired to escort persons of importance. Security for goods in transit. Some even provide information in the form of investigations. There are Solos that can maintain or even establish order in places that lack lawful authority. Specialized combat units are available as well. Solos are known for performing their service and when the assignment has concluded they collect their pay then leave. We all know this, but exactly what does that mean? Unlike sponsored armies, such as those of a kingdom or house; Solos only take their pay. They don't collect spoils or take prisoners for ransom and so forth. ONLY the pay that was establish PRIOR to the service they render."

She looked over to Patrick, who gave her a subtle nod that she was correct.

"To do otherwise would imply a personal involvement. A Solo does NOT take personal involvement. They do not engage in altercations outside a contract's terms. We; as Royals, Nobles and Gentry, have attachments to houses and kingdoms. What we do reflects upon those we represent. We take offense when slighted, or perceive to be slighted. Solos do not. The only offenses you can commit against Solos are those of business, to which penalties will apply," Jessica explained.

For twenty minutes she went on about specialized and general services that could be provided by Solos along with the benefits of doing so. She also included some of the more common infractions made against Solos and the penalties associated. Some students gasped when she revealed to them how she had been able to go on the assignment and the measures she took to conceal her identity. Queen Lellaa noted the number of people that had ended up taking notes of Jessica's lecture. She also had the distinct feeling that several times Jessica went 'off-script' to add insight that she had overlooked when writing the report.

"So you see; at the end of the day there is nothing personal. Only the terms of the contract. I had no understanding of that prior. Please understand that my previous views of Solos had been influenced negatively. I have since changed that perspective. Under professional tutelage I have been corrected and hope that my understanding improves more. The way of Solos is not what we think it is. Its never simple. I would not be up to the challenge of living as a Solo," Jessica concluded and placed the papers on Dame Ayalla's lectern.

Jessica was about to go back to her seat but stopped and frowned then regarded the class, "my classmates. Previously I disrupted the class. What I did was unacceptable, not just as a Princess, but more importantly as a STUDENT. The class paid for my indiscretion by having rushed lessons to make up for a day missed. I sincerely apologize for that. With my promise that I will NOT do so again, I hope you will forgive me. As a student I should be focused on my education. As a Princess, I should be more encouraging to you for your own. This is what I shall strive to do from now on. Again, my deepest apologies. Thank you for this time you've given me."

With that, Jessica curtsied then returned to her seat.

Dame Ayalla took her place at the lectern, "Very well said Princess. Your report was quite enlightening. Even I learned some things I didn't know before. Perhaps there should be the suggestion of some type of workshop about the services and hiring of Solos. Perhaps even some guest speakers."

"If I may, Dame Ayalla. I'd be happy to speak with Countess Doucet about submitting a proposal to the Headmaster," Jessica replied. "Of course this would be contracted as a consultant service."

From there the planned lessons took place. Queen Lellaa and the Headmaster left. Fiona Doucet had already slipped away when Jessica had finished. After classes for the day Jessica and Lellaa sat in the visitors' lounge.

"Well Jessica, I was very impressed today. Your report was very good. I believe accompanying Solo Fotens on his assignment did you a lot good," Lellaa commented.

Jessica nodded, "I was childish and stupid. If nothing else Mother, I came away at the very least; respectful."

"And so you learned more about contracts with Solos," Lellaa remarked.

"Yes Mother. Terms are upheld or penalties will apply. Penalties that are severe," Jessica said. "Especially in my case. I understand the penalty."

Lellaa regarded her daughter intently, "quite. I take you are still unhappy about the liaison."

"As I said; I was childish and stupid. Solo Fotens is the consummate Solo. He did no wrong, I did. My objection is not against him. Its against the contract. Mother I would very much prefer to have my first child as part of love shared with a husband instead of the calculated result of rendered services," Jessica admitted.

Lellaa looked as if she was pondering that statement, "the problem with wanting that my dear daughter; you've done nothing in effort to find an agreement, much less love. Many things have been coming to me while I waited for your return. The kindest rumor is that you may be a lesbian. The most popular is that you believe yourself too good for anyone."

Jessica looked down, "that was how I felt. As I said, I was being childish and stupid. I will not be so any longer. I understand the penalty clause Mother."

"I take it Solo Fotens only answered your questions about the contract as it pertained to your involvement," Lellaa asked.

Jessica nodded.

Lellaa nodded back, "I see. So he didn't tell you about escape clauses."

"Escape clause? What's that," Jessica asked.

"Oh that's there in case one party wants to back out before anything is done. Essentially its buying out the contract," Lellaa answered airily.

Jessica's jaw dropped, "buy out the contract? That can be done?"

Lellaa frowned at her, "yes. You sound like you may be interested in doing that."

Jessica stood up and faced her Mother and curtsied, "Mother. What must be done for the escape clause?"

The Queen stared intently at her daughter then finally answered, "The maximum settlement in full. A Paladin model Warhorse, complete Voyager Campaign outfitting, custom armor and seventy-five thousand coins. The sword he has was the deposit and is non-refundable. If you want to use the escape clause then YOU must make the settlement. I will allow you to do so, but its all on you. Are you angry you weren't informed of that?"

"I didn't ask and he said he had no problem fulfilling the terms of the contract. I'm only disappointed in myself for not thinking of asking Mother," Jessica admitted.

Lellaa pointed to the door. Jessica understood she meant her to go to it. Jessica opened the door and found Fiona Doucet standing with Patrick Fotens in the corridor.

"Please come in," Jessica invited.

Patrick followed Fiona inside.

Fiona curtsied to the Queen, "I've brought Solo Fotens as you asked your Majesty."

Lellaa nodded to her, "thank you Countess. If you would be so kind."

Fiona stepped over to the side as Patrick came forward.

"Weyden," Patrick nodded to her.

Lellaa nodded back, "thank you for making time. My daughter is now aware of the escape clause. She has expressed her desire to buy out the contract. Would you object to my granting her permission to do so?"

Patrick answered, "She would have to meet the terms of the clause. If she can meet the terms and you have no objection, then I have no objection."

Lellaa nodded to Jessica. Jessica stepped forward and addressed Patrick.

"Thank you for allowing the contract buy out. I will order the equipment first thing tomorrow. I can have an armorer here after classes at the end of the week to collect the measurements and color selection," Jessica said.

Patrick nodded then looked to Queen Lellaa.

Lellaa smiled, "I did not forget. We can settle the contract for the assignment right now if you like."

Patrick nodded and took out his battle ledger, "There was an inaccuracy in the contract that was revised."

"Ah yes. Jessica told me about it. She also informed me that you were aware they were trying to deceive you. Indeed your experience just lends more credence that I was right in your ability to educate my daughter. Solo Fotens I have no objection to revising own our contract to honor our agreement. I also understand there were some expenses incurred. Please add that to the total," Lellaa said.

Patrick went through the revised contract and added the expenses. He corrected the contract and send it to her tablet and passed over the tickets. Lellaa signed off and send it back then counted the money and passed it over. Patrick deposited the coins into a pouch.

Patrick put his ledger away, "the account is settled and concludes that contract."

Lellaa smiled, "It was very good doing business with you Solo Fotens. I've passed the contract to Jessica and she will conclude it when the settlement has been taken care of. I still look forward to seeing you at Tournament."

Patrick nodded then turned to go.

"Just a moment. Solo Fotens do you have any information pertinent about Jessica in Tournament," Lellaa asked.

Patrick nodded, "ten coins worth."

Lellaa counted out the coins and passed them over.

"Laanower is going to target your left arm using a personal lance on the first run. The plan is to make you more vulnerable to everyone else so that you won't get near Talfar," Patrick said.

"Money well spent again. Thank you Solo Fotens," Lellaa said.

Patrick simply turned and left. There was nothing left to discuss.

After the door closed Fiona looked over, "that was something I wasn't aware of. I seem to be slipping."

Lellaa shook her heard, "If he knows the plan for Jessica then I think its safe to assume that he knows any plans concerning himself as well. Jeffries Talfar isn't so foolish to overlook any threat, no matter how remote. If Solo Fotens is as you both have claimed then I have no doubt that There is some plan that is in motion for him as well."

"He's not going to show me any quarter next week. I almost pity Lorenz Dante. Its seems as if everybody already knows he can't win but has to ride against him anyway," Jessica commented.

Fiona said gently, "The fact that Dante understands he will be defeated yet will still sit in his saddle tall and proud isn't a sign of foolishness. It is a sign of character. He has the strength to face his shortcomings and accept the outcome. Good day my Ladies."

With that Fiona curtsied to the two royals and left.
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