The Nightmare Rider - chapter 19

 

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Chapter 19 of
 
  The Nightmare Rider

 

 

 


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Chapter 19

 
 
 

Phoebe stepped into her chamber. Daalumos stood over in his usual place and Iia sat on the riser.

"The two of you enjoyed the spectacle today," Phoebe asked as she went to the bath.

The Succubus nodded excitedly and followed, "oh YES Mistress! I found myself not able to look away. The Riders looked so very serious and the crowd was almost a frenzy!"

"That's a good appraisal. Tournament is a very big event. Many look forward to it all year," Phoebe informed her.

Iia began to wash Phoebe's hair, "Mistress. Is it more than just a simple game of knocking each other off your horses?"

Phoebe tilted her head back to allow it, "Very much so. There are rules and scoring. I found it fascinating when I began to learn. It is an Art and a Science as the mortals say. As one told me, the whole objective is to take the energy from the ground and return it to the ground."

"I do not understand Mistress," Iia said and began to rinse Phoebe's hair.

Daalumos chuckled, "neither did we at first."

"The horse pushes against the ground to move. From the ground, up the legs to the rider. That energy then goes into the lance and stays until it hits the shield of the other rider. From the shield to the rider. From there it either dissipates or continues to the ground by the falling rider," Phoebe said.

Iia thought about that then shook her head, "I still do not understand."

Phoebe turned around to face her, "The horse pushes against the ground to move. That creates force. This force is then transferred using the lance to the shield. Where the lance hits the shield and the angle of the shield determines what happens. Force and angles. Leverage is what the mortals call it, using force to its most effectiveness. Mortals do not have powers, so they must use their science to do things. Hold your hand up."

Iia held up her hand. Phoebe placed her fist to it then pressed.

"This is force. I take it from the ground when I push with my feet. It transfers to my hand to yours. Now if I change the angle of my push, your hand moves in different directions," Phoebe explained then demonstrated, moving Iia's hand in different directions.

Iia smiled, "now I am beginning to understand Mistress."

Phoebe nodded, "yes. My fist is the lance and your hand is the shield. By changing the angle your shield faces, my lance will be redirected. "

After a few more minutes Iia laughed, "I understand now. How clever of the mortals!"

Phoebe settled back down into the water, "good. So what else have you learned of the mortals?"

"One thing is that appearance makes much of a difference. The more attractive a mortal is, the more others pay attention to them. Mostly though, its the challenge. The more a mortal seems to be unobtainable; the more the other mortals want them," the Succubus said.

Phoebe asked, "so if they can't take them; how do they get them?"

Iia pondered then smiled, "they lure the mortal to them!"

"Very good. How," Phoebe asked.

Iia said, "they entice. Their looks and manner draw the mortals in. Seduction."

"Go into the village and visit a tavern. You may very well see that happen. Go, but do not let them see or hear you," Phoebe instructed.

"Yes Mistress," Iia replied gleefully and rushed out.

Daalumos chuckled, "she is eager to learn."

Phoebe nodded, "good. Iia only knows use. She doesn't know seduction or pleasure. She was never allowed to interact with mortals before."

Phoebe then dipped under the water then lay back to rest. An hour later she climbed out and went back to her throne. Soon she slept. It was almost dawn when Iia returned.

 

~*~*~*~

 

The ready areas were bustling with activity. Third rounds were about to start. The match-up had been set since the end of the contests the day before. Den Irth and Jeffries Talfar. Patrick Fotens and Kern Winnower. Vaan Arento and Goron Favell. Fiona Doucet and Bron Zako. Jessica Weyden and Doril Hunley. Danze Marow and Aruna Moning. Expressions were ranging from serious to intense. Each rider knew the seriousness they now faced.

The Headmaster himself had inspected each lance that morning. Five assistants brought in lances that were inspected then bundled and set aside in the arena. None were tagged, the rider's squires would receive a bundle at random. The first contest went loudly as Irth and Talfar clashed. The fourth lance ended the contest with Den Irth slamming to the ground and leaving Jeffries Talfar the victor. Kern Winnower showed confidence facing the imposing figure of Patrick Fotens in the second contest but was unsuccessful in staying on his own horse three lances in a row.

Vaan Arento was merciless against Goron Favell. The solo held firm but lost to the Prince. Bron Zako suffered the same result when he faced Fiona Doucet. The Countess gave no quarter to the Solo and brought him down hard. Jessica Weyden rode against Doril Hunley and lost. The Princess showed her respect to him by saluting when she regained her footing after all three lances. Aruna Moning proved to be rather clever and managed to bring down Danze Marow.

Sir Belvin called a break in the Tournament for the remaining members to lunch then announced the match-ups. Aruna Moning against Fiona Doucet, Patrick Fotens against Vaan Arento, Doril Hunley against Jeffries Talfar. This unintentionally helped the bookmakers immensely. The odds so far were even for the contest of Hunley and Talfar. Two to one odds in favor of Patrick Fotens over Vaan Arento. Aruna though was holding at ten to one against Fiona.

 

~*~*~*~

 

"Mother, Father; I'm sorry. I just couldn't go any further," Jessica apologized to her parents.

Lellaa Weyden shook her head and smiled at her daughter, "you did well though. I am not disappointed."

Korvus Weyden nodded in approval, "You rode against very tough opponents and showed honor with each run. We are very proud of you, Jessica."

"What I do, what I don't do. It all comes back. I understand it all now," Jessica said solemnly. "I am Jessica Weyden. Princess of Lurbourg. I have a family and Kingdom. Any honor I earn or shame I fall to, is not my own."

The King of Lurbourg schooled his expression, "is that right? Go on Jessica."

Jessice nodded then stood straighter, "it is Father. I must do my best, at all times. But I must do so on my own. My skills and strength. My knowledge. I am not a Solo. Things do not start and stop with me. Things involving me also involve the family and Kingdom. Failing is not enjoyable. Failing because of lacking is acceptable."

"Acceptable," Lellaa asked in shock.

Jessica nodded, "yes Mother; acceptable. I accept that I must train harder. I will only be better if I BECOME better. To become better, I must train harder. That is the only way. Anything else would UN-acceptable. I am a Princess. The standards I am held to are higher."

The Queen smiled at her daughter, "and now I will stop calling you 'little girl', my daughter. Now come along; we'll get you cleaned up and have lunch."

Jessica smiled and went with Lamia to the Royals' Wardrobe.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Fiona had rushed through a quick clean-up and donned her alternate set of armor then joined her father for lunch.

"So," he prompted her.

Fiona sighed and looked over, "with a couple of exceptions things are going well."

The Count kept an even expression, "which translates to?"

"Oh Daddy, you're so transparent. I know what you want. You are SO convinced that Duke Talfar will agree to your terms if Jeffries and I marry," Fiona stated in a bored tone.

"Wrong my dear. He WILL," Count Doucet corrected.

Fiona shook her head, "no he won't. He never did so before and would have no reason to now. Not that it will matter."

"And what makes you say that," he asked.

Fiona leaned in, "Jeffries will have to face either Vaan Arento or Patrick Fotens to get to me. Neither one will show him ANY mercy. Provided he gets past Doril Hunley."

"Hunley? Isn't he a Solo with First Regiment," the Count asked.

"Yes. Patrick Fotens is the Commander of the Eighty-sixth Regiment," Fiona stated.

Count Doucet mulled that for a moment then asked, "let us say he does. He makes it to the finals with you. Will he win?"

Fiona sat back in her chair, "absolutely not."

"Oh," the Count asked.

Fiona went over to stand behind her father and hug him, "certainly. I'm going to utterly destroy that lecherous whore-monger. Too bad for your deal; DADDY."

Fiona kissed his cheek and smiled sweetly then walked out confidently, humming to herself.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Vaan Arento sat at a table with his family smiling as they talked.

"Well son; have you finally decided," King Brell Arento asked.

Holt Arento chuckled, "of course he has Father. Big brother will collect himself a bevy of girls!"

Raena swatted her younger brother, "shush Holt! Vaan must have his eye on one girl, and I'm sure she's wonderful. Isn't she Vaan?"

"Just one, sister? Is that all I'm allowed," Vaan asked slyly.

The Princess gave him a haughty glare, "of course! There can only be one BEST."

"She got you," Queen Veya chuckled.

Vaan regarded his younger sister warily then grabbed her into an hug and cuddled her, "just so CUTE! Alright. I'll introduce you after Tournament."

"Vaan! Off," Raena squealed and tried to push him away.

"But you're just so huggable! and ADORABLE! I have to keep you just like this," Vaan cooed then made loud smooching noises at her ear.

The young Princess struggled while demanding to be freed amid laughter by her younger sibling and parents.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Duke Talfar glared at Jeffries, "all your schemes are paying off."

"No idea to what you mean. Father," Jeffries stated.

Duke Talfar paused a moment then stood up straight and clasped his hands behind his back, "oh you are INDEED lucky. Tournament is still ongoing and you are still in competition."

Jeffries stayed silent. He knew he had the advantage for the moment. However, its was only for the moment and he knew that as well. His father couldn't express his true displeasure, lest he risk Jeffries having to withdraw because of it.

The Duke leaned directly in and hissed, "I advise you not to lose. For YOUR sake. I hear that your lackey, Laanower, is taking up a new residence. Perhaps you too, could do with a change of locale?"

"You wouldn't," Jeffries glared back.

"Well now. You see I want this deal with Count Doucet. Which I will only get if you marry Fiona. Fiona will only marry you if she loses Tournament. I see three people definitely in the way of that. One of whom has good reason to put you down hard. Another that would do so just for the sheer enjoyment of it and one that has a personal stake. Fotens, a Solo COMMANDER. Arento, a Prince with peculiar tastes. A Doucet herself, for obvious reasons; she hates you. No more lackey, no more tricks. You had better be as good as you think you are son. Otherwise you are going to find yourself in a new situation," Duke Talfar said grimly.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Over in the Solos' ready area discussion was about everything but Tournament. Commanders were looking over records of the unaffiliated Solos and making notes. The subject of the new barracks at the farm was still being discussed, even though that was where all the Solos had made their camps. Workshops over the break were being scheduled.

"Commander Fotens," one of the other Commanders spoke up. "Who will be in charge while you are away on assignments?"

Patrick pointed to another, "Rassan has no official affiliation. I believe he should hold the rank of Captain of Second Platoon. When he graduates and is recruited to an official Regiment, the ranking unaffiliated Third year Solo may take up the rank for the following term. The Captain of Second Platoon will be in command after my graduation."

Many were nodding their approval and it was agreed to. The bells began to chime to signal the competitors to return.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Fiona and Aruna had the first match-up. Much credit had to go to Aruna. She had been studying the Countess intently. The first lance went to Fiona, but Aruna managed to sneak in a clever feint and took the second lance in surprise. The smile on Fiona's face was evident as she remounted with her visor up. The Duchess suddenly felt as if she had just stirred a hornets' nest. That became evident when Fiona then brought her down twice in a row.

Vaan Arento sat firmly in the saddle wearing his gold-tone armor with purple accents gleaming in the afternoon sun. Opposite him sat the imposing black-armored figure of Patrick Fotens. They ran for all five lances. The first went to Patrick followed by the next two for the Prince. Patrick took the fourth on points and the fifth he brought Vaan down.When the Prince regained his feet, not only did he salute Patrick; he shook hands with him. Vaan rode out waving to the stands amid cheers.

Doril Hunley rode against Jeffries Talfar for four lances. The First Regiment Solo claimed the first lance but the remaining three went to Talfar. One by points and two unhorsed him. Jeffries kept to the seriousness of the level they were at and refrained from his usual trash-talk. He did however completely ignore the Solo unless running the lanes. He also had utter disregard for the crowd in the stands

Sir Belvin then called the three out.

Loudly the instructor announced, "the three of you will draw lot. Two will compete first with a second chance for one against the third. The two victors will go to Finals after sunset!"

Fiona being the student president insisted the two boys draw first. Patrick drew and held up a stick with a red end. Jeffries reached forward and pulled one as well. Fiona was given the stick with a blue end.

"The match up will be; Commander Patrick Fotens against Jeffries Talfar. The victor will go on to the final against whomever wins in the contest against Countess Fiona Doucet," Sir Belvin announced. "Contest will begin in ten minutes!"

 
 
 
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