If you’re new to this story then you can catch up here with the prelude.
Sorry for the short chapter, they say that in editing you’re supposed to cut a story down to make it shorter instead of adding detail to make it bigger. In fact this is the first time I reduced the words instead of added them so I guess that’s good! For those of you who don’t know the word count for this story is (at this time) 56k, which means that cutting things down shorter isn’t such a bad thing!
Anyway here is the story so far: Rick, Kil and Maron have arrived at the kings tournament in Taltree, they wait in anticipation for the tournament to start.
Part 3 – Tournament
It didn’t take us long to find Maron, insistent on checking if she was ok, we searched quickly. Kil promised she’d be alright but I was still as nervous as ever. We found her sitting by herself on the edge of a large field of the tournament grounds; she kept her distance from the large parties of people nearby and single travellers who also hoped to win. It was a sunny day, but she had found a place in the shade covered by a patch of tall trees. She smiled at us and called us over.
We explained everything to her in excited detail. She was amazed at the speed we found a forger and the risks we took to get there. It was great seeing her loving smile light up and her shoulder length hair, a brilliant mix of brown and red, sway as she moved.
I didn’t feel the same attachment for her as I used too, having the confidence to speak with her normally made me realise how human she was. Still, I would find it very difficult to live without her.
No longer mysterious, she was mature, strong and quiet. Perhaps a lot older than I was in fact, I had to find out but I dreaded the answer, if the age gap was too big then my love would always be unrequited. I thought it was better to just ask her.
“Hey Maron, how old are you?” I could see Kil flinch as I brought the question up.
“I’m 24, you?”
“Wow I thought you were a lot younger, like 20 at most!” I said in a forced surprise.
“Well ok” She said confused.
“What’s wrong? Kil asked.
“I’d just like to think I come across as older”
It made sense, 20 was four years ago for her, four years ago I would have been 14 and a complete brat.
Right now we were all just wondering around at night, despite having the money for it we lacked the foresight to prepare a place to sleep. Not wanting to be robbed we decided to just spend our time talking and walking. It didn’t take long to get boring.
As we walked around we could see the group of people who beat us up yesterday and another larger gathering of people in a colossal tent. Was it me or did everyone here seem massive? And I wasn’t even that small myself, I was taller than Kil and Maron as well as most of the people back in the village. But they weren’t just tall, they were huge.
“You know I’ve been thinking, at one point if we make it in this tournament one of us will come to fight the other, which one of us should we let win?” I asked, we had to be prepared.
“Let? The person who beats the other should go through.” Kil said reasonably, though his statement was devoid of all reason.
“Ok think about it, we’ve got a lot of opponents to beat if we want to win; beating ourselves up isn’t going to do us any favours!” I argued and thankfully Maron, the other voice of reason, agreed.
“Yeah true, it’s pointless to attack each other when there are tougher opponents ahead.” She said putting a smile on my face.
“I should be the one who’s put through.” Maron finished.
“What why? It should be me!” Kil said, “If it’s not me then I’ll fight you for it!”
“Maron is the only one with real citizenship, so she’s the only who is officially aloud to win, as well as that she’s been training for a lot longer than we have, in the fighters guild as well!” I said, raising my voice.
“But I’m probably stronger. Maron’s injured!” He said angrily, wanting to resolve the situation I said.
“She’ll be recovered by then, anyway we’ll see whose stronger later when the fights actually start!” I replied.
“Well I’m better” he said smugly.
I left the conversation at that. Maron, being a member of the fighters guild was sure to prove herself later.
“Why don’t we just go and buy a tent?” others had set up tents all around the grounds so it wasn’t such a stupid idea.
Instead of that we just talked and argued even more. Towards the darkest hours of the night we sat down and Maron very quickly passed out, she looked so sweet when she slept. I just wanted nothing more to reassure her that it would be ok. With me and Kil around she would be safe anyway, then Kil drifted off and I thought I’d give him five minutes of sleep before getting him up again but then I drifted off as well.
When I woke something was very badly wrong, I could smell burning, and smoke was coming from a large tent. Maron was awake as well but Kil was still asleep.
“Can you smell that?” I asked.
“Yeah, either a crazy accident or…” She trailed off.
“You don’t think someone did this on purpose do you?” I asked interested to see her answer.
“Well I’m saying it’s possible, there are a lot of bad people in the world, and it might be considered a way to get rid of your competition.” Well I suppose it was possible but it was difficult to see why people would risk doing that.
“In a few days they’re releasing all the fights and when they’ll take place.” Maron said and I felt a sudden nervousness and pit in my stomach. Who would I have to fight? What would it even be like? I suddenly felt like an amateur, because I basically was one. I’d never wielded a blade before and previous fist fights did not count as experience.
We woke Kil up to go and buy a tent, it was stupid not to, everyone else had one and we needed a camp.
Kil had all the money for some reason and he wasn’t happy to lay it off to me who might know how to spend it better. Once we bought a tent we bought new clothes, food, drinks, two swords a dagger and a sharpener from the store, even with all that I was surprised with how much money we still had, when I looked at it I realised we might even have enough for a suit of armour for each of us if we were lucky.
We found a quiet place in the training square and practiced sparing with each other, we realised that we were both terrible and even if we had no fear of cutting the other person we still wouldn’t do too well. There was also no guarantee of survival during the game except if you shouted “I surrender” though it was unreliable.
Maron had said that there was no real rules set up for the tournament and that the rules will be announced soon. It was pretty much a given that we’d have to use swords though if people were there looking to recruit mercenaries.
In this manner, we practiced sparing, ate, and went to sleep until they announced the matchups, which would set into motion one of the darkest and most difficult challenges of my life.
Thank you for reading chapter 10 of this story! The rules of the competition will make or break our adventurers! How will they fare as they face people with years more experience than them?