Chapter 21: A Noble Duel

Bryson sat down on massive lavish seat and gazed down to the arena. He could see his brother Gareth standing on one side of the stage, outfitted in intricately designed light armour that allowed plenty of movement and offered decent protection with all the enchantments on it. On his side was Gareth’s sheathed rapier.

            What was it called again? The Wing Clipper? Bryson thought. Looking at Gareth’s gear Bryson felt that this was a bit overkill for a simple competition. That was until he saw Gareth’s opponent.

            Lachlan Yulelog, son of Earl Yulelog. He was about the same age as Gareth if Bryson recalled correctly. Lachlan himself was geared in very similar attire, wielding a long spear in his hands, he was giving a few practise swings.   

Bryson looked at the two in confusion, why in the world would these two take an impromptu tournament so seriously. Looking towards his father, Bryson understood what was going on.

Duke Coldwater had surrounded himself with several other nobles and they seemed to be in heavy discussion. This tournament was more than just a little game that would act as a bit of training. This a fight to set the hierarchy in the continent of Wrabuth.

Noble families would never shy away from trying to gain more power or prestige for their family. This tournament was a good and safe way in doing so. No complex politics, no massive battle, just some ‘children’ fighting it out.

If smaller noble family were to do better than expected, then their peers would treat them with more respect, giving the family itself more opportunity. On the other hand, if a bigger family were to have their child fail, they would be likely losing a bit of power.

Gareth was here to represent the Coldwaters and how in the future they will still remain on top. Bryson glanced down and saw a tournament board display who was fighting who.

Reading through the brackets, the fights were rather skewed in the favour of the greater noble families, which wasn’t to much of a surprise. They all got paired up with lesser noble families and tended to fight far less talented opponents.

All except for Gareth, it seemed that his tournament route seemed far more challenging than the others. But conveniently it seemed that he would only meet the toughest opponents until the end.

Bryson looked over to his father, who held a cool gaze on Gareth. Ah, I guess this is a test. He thought. Gareth was suppose to take the mantel of head of the household eventually, so he needed to prove that he was worthy of such title.

These tests had been held for Gareth for as long as Bryson could remember. Dueling with older knights, so many magical tests. Gareth has been honed to be a very dangerous swordsman. Able to combine his swordplay with a fountain of magical power he was dangerous.

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Though Gareth’s opponent was no joke either. Lachlan Yulelog was preparing to be apart of the royal Wrabuth guard. His magic aptitude was lacking, but he more than made up for it with his weapon prowess.

“Would both competitors come to the middle of the stage.” A voice called out.

Looking at the center of the stage Bryson saw an official standing there, beckoning the two noble boys to approach. As they stood next to one another, Bryson noticed just large Lachlan was. Gareth was still growing but was already tall enough to look down at most people. Here, Gareth had to look up at Lachlan standing face to face.

“Those are big arms.” Lila breathed out.

Bryson looked over to Lila with a raised eyebrow.

“What?” Lila asked with a shrug, “I’m just saying what I see.”

The official began to announce the rules, “The rules are simple, no groin shots, no eye rakes, no biting and no lethal magic. You win when your opponent is unable to continue, knocked out of the ring, surrenders or if I have step in.”

Both of them nodded their heads in agreement and returned to their respective sides. As Gareth returned to his side, he gave a curt nod to his father who expressionlessly stared back.

“So, you think your brother is going to win?” Lila whispered.

“Probably.” Bryson replied. As intimidating as Lachlan was, Bryson could see that Gareth was much more ready and prepared for the fight.

“Get him Gareth!” Gilles yelled out. Both Duchess Coldwater, Sable along with the majority of the others cheered on Gareth. Some of the crowd were supporting Lachlan, though it was clear who the favourite was.

In the corner of Bryson’s eye, he saw Viola sit down next to him. Bryson felt Lila tense up upon Viola arriving. Bryson looked over to see his sister, who held a bored expression on her face.

“This is pointless. It’s clear that Gareth’s going win.” She said plainly. Crossing her legs and leaning back onto her seat she then stared back at Bryson.

“I overheard you harassing the staff.” She whispered to him, “Little brother, don’t you know that you shouldn’t be threatening our hard-working staff?” She said with a sweet smile.

“Sister, I simply found their work to be… inadequate.” Bryson replied calmly.

“How so?” She inquired, an edge of annoyance in her voice. Bryson thought it would be best if he were to tread carefully.

“All I am saying is that they’re causing me an inconvenience. So it would be better if they stopped.” Bryson said.

Viola then glanced over to Lila, who was doing her best to hide behind Bryson’s chair. Speaking to Bryson she says, “If you had better personal staff, then maybe you wouldn’t have these issues.”

Viola pointed a finger towards the cowering Lila Frost, “Look at her! She’s not even acting properly!” She sneered.

“Who cares about her?” Bryson asked, “She’s not going to do anything. Just ignore her, pretend she doesn’t exist. She won’t be a problem. Besides, father chose her, I can’t just say no, can I?”

Bryson saw Viola’s cheek twitch and she hissed out, “No… I suppose not.”

“What? What’s wrong?” Bryson asked in confusion, unsure why his sisters mood had turned for the worst.

Viola began to open her mouth to speak before a voice interrupted her.

“Would be quiet? I trying to watch our brother.” Sable snapped at the two of them.

Bryson and Viola looked over and saw their sister with an angry expression on her face. They then looked around and realized that this conversation was not suited for this situation. The two sheepishly fell silent and looked back down on the arena. Viola gave an annoyed exhale and didn’t bother looking at Bryson nor Lila. Bryson gave an awkward scratch of his head before staring back at the arena.

Just as they returned their attention back towards the arena field, the fight was about to begin.

“Fight!” The official yelled and the two competitors were off.

Lachlan Yulelog charged forward towards the center of the stage, claiming the center of the stage he began to jab at Gareth with his spear. Gareth gave annoyed click of the tongue as he avoided the attacks, side stepping and bring his blade up to parry occasionally.

Gareth then took a step back, now out of Lachlan’s longer began to circle around his larger opponent. Lachlan rotated around trying his best to keep Gareth in front of him, stepping forward to try and get a few more jabs at Gareth.

Gareth continued to circle around, and Lachlan kept spinning, stopping Gareth from flanking him. The crowd continued to cheer for the two as they danced around in a circle.

“Get him Gareth!” Gilles shouted, leaning over the barricade.

“Gareth’s having trouble.” Viola said surprised.

“I don’t know if that’s true…” Bryson mumbled out loud, something was off.

“What?” Sable asked.

Before Bryson could explain, they all heard their father Duke Coldwater rumble out.

“Stop fooling around.”

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Gareth quickly glanced up and gave a nod in recognition. Suddenly Gareth’s speed quickened, and he easily side-stepped a thrust and rushed in. Lachlan eyes widened in surprise Gareth closed the distance.

Swinging his spear, Lachlan tried to swat Gareth away before Gareth could reach him. Gareth simply ducked down, the spear swing harmlessly over his head as he reached striking range.

With a confident smirk Gareth gave a simple thrust of his rapier, Wing Clipper. The tip of Wing Clipper only barely touched Lachlan’s chest piece, giving a light tap. Bryson however, noticed a sudden surge of magic flow through not just the blade but Gareth himself.

Gareth’s legs as he rushed forward were suddenly filled with magic. More energy erupted far more violently through the blade of his sword. The moment the blade touched the armour, the magic welled up inside Wind Clipper shot out into the chest of Lachlan.

The whole crowd along with Bryson stared in disbelief as the force of the blow shattered Lachlan’s armour and sent him flying through the air. Soaring across the stage, Lachlan flew right off it and slammed into a barricade that held the crowd back. After impacting the metal barricade, Lachlan flopped forward, faceplanting the dirt floor completely unconscious.

For a moment everybody simply stared in silence at the unconscious Lachlan in shock. Before they erupted in applause and cheers.

“Yeah! That’s it Gareth!” Gilles cheered.

Duchess Coldwater happily clapped along with the crowd while Duke Coldwater gave an approving nod before turning away and leaving. A proud smile appeared on Gareth’s face once he received the recognition of his father and happily waved towards the crowd giving a few bows.

“What… what was that?” Lila muttered in disbelief.

“Oh please, don’t tell me you were surprised by that. It’s Gareth we’re talking about.” Viola said coolly. Though Bryson noticed the shock in her eyes, clearly like him, she was not expecting that.

What in the world has Gareth been doing? Bryson thought in disbelief. That magic control was scary, better than anything he had ever seen. Was he always that powerful? Bryson wondered as he continued to stare at his brother in disbelief.

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