“It’s almost time for the joust!” Hepalonia says excitedly when she finds her cousin.
“Oh, yeah, right,” Tric glances down at the favor tied to his arm, hoping that maybe the woman’s name is written there. It is not, but then he realizes they will probably announce her name at the event. He will make a studied effort to remember from that point on. It is a good thing his mother did not recognize it and think him affiliated with the rider.
“Where were you?” Heppa asks. She notices Tric Manu is holding his travel cup and leans forward to look in it. “Oh, what did you get?”
Tric flings the mug at his face, dowsing it and his hair with the cold water he had just bought from a fair vendor. He shakes his head, sending droplets flying. “Phew! My mom is one tough-as-nails lady.”
Heppa gasps. “Oh, you talked to her?! How did it go?”
“Was she happy to see you? Did she give you a hug?”
Heppa wilts. “Is she like Mother?”
“A little bit,” Tric says. Heppa offers her condolences, and he continues, “And she said some… Do you know an elf named Anador in the forest?”
Hepalonia thinks for a moment. “I’ve heard the name, but I don’t remember where… Where did I hear that?”
“Did your dad ever mention him as another person on the council? Or maybe from another forest?” Heppa shrugs. She will have to think on this for a while. “Don’t stress too much about it,” Tric Manu tells her. “But when we get home, I’m going to ask a few questions.”
Heppa’s curiosity is stoked now, though. As they file into the viewing area around the parade grounds, she again mutters, “But where did I hear that name? Male or female or other? Do you know?”
“It was a male. Is? Was? Recently alive, I should say.” Tric is pretty sure if Heppa heard the name, it would be from Uncle Thran. Mhaev said this Anador was an elvish lord. “And possibly of our forest, possibly not.”
The trumpets sound again, and a herald shouts, “And now, the joust!” The crowds clap and holler, and the elves find a good spot to stand for watching the field.
“All right,” Tric says, changing gears, “I’ve got to cheer for the right person.” He unties the favor and holds it ready. His cousin’s mind, though, still lingers on the previous topic, and she wonders if she heard the name at a ceremony. Maybe an exiling ceremony, Tric thinks grimly.
As each competitor trots across the parade ground, the herald announces their name. The spectators go wild when they find out that Sir Owaec, despite his age, is participating. They get even louder when Sir Gweddry is announced, having set aside the “earl” for this activity. Next to the elves, two humans are chatting about each contestant. One of them expresses surprise at seeing Gweddry in play here, not realizing that he was such a good rider. The other person shrugs and points out that even nobles who do not fight mounted travel around on horses often, so maybe the earl has scraped together some skill at it over the years.
Eventually, a black stallion charges across the field, blue banner waving, and the herald announces Dame Terwaen. Tric shouts and waves his arms enthusiastically, happy to finally have her name again. Heppa’s brain snaps back to the current activity, and she wonders aloud what a joust even is. Clearly, she has not listened to the same stories from Breda that Tric has.
The very first bout leaves Hepalonia speechless. These humans are riding at each other on horses full speed with giant sticks! And they are trying to knock each other off! Sure, they have shields, but still. As the bouts proceed, she finds it fascinating to consider the physics and physiology involved in these high-speed collisions. And such ingenuity, to come up with this all!
In the first round of the joust, Owaec handles his horse like a true master, which should not be surprising for the foremost horse lord on the field. But in a shocking turn of events, despite the ease with which he commands his horse, Owaec loses his bout. His opponent lands a solid blow, while Owaec’s own lance goes wide. He rights himself in the saddle quickly, saluting the other rider as soon as he has stabilized. The crowd, pleased to see him competing at all, cheers in admiration at the sign of respect.
The lance is definitely not Gweddry’s weapon of choice, and he is no master of the horse, but he is participating in the joust as a mark that this is an honorable sport. This particular horse may not be his usual mount either, as it puts up a fair amount of resistance to his commands. His first match is not spectacular, but he comes out ahead. As he clears the field, though, the horse gives him some more attitude that does not bode well for the next round.
When Terwaen enters the lists, she tilts her lance in Tric’s direction. He waves the favor around and starts his section of the crowd cheering, leading them in a chant, “Terwaen of the Plains! Terwaen of the Plains!”
“When did this happen?” Heppa asks, surprised.
“I meet a lot of people,” Tric says casually. Then he elaborates, “I tried to use her armor in the archery competition and it didn’t go well. Long story.”
Terwaen keeps Gloam well in hand, though she does not look as comfortable before the crowds as the more experienced jousters. She lands a solid blow on her opponent, advancing her to the next round. On the sidelines, Tric notices Mhaev watching everything with a sharp eye. She appears grumpy, which dims his mood a little bit. He sighs and then puts more effort into cheering, determined to have a good time.
Following the first round, the field is a trampled, torn-up mess. All the riders have a harder time coaxing their steeds across the rough terrain. Gweddry, dealing with an uncooperative mount, is actually de-horsed by his opponent’s strike. In Tric’s on-going re-writing of events to make them more retellable, this would be when an assassin’s bolt just barely misses the earl. However, no such attack is underway, and Gweddry takes the fall well, easily rolling to his feet. He bears the defeat with grace, giving a congratulatory shout to the man who unseated him. But then he adds, “And I’ll meet you on the field in the grand melee tomorrow!” The crowd goes wild, and Tric thinks that would be a better place for an assassination attempt, anyway.
Heppa imagines Gweddry must ache all over from a fall like that, though he conceals it well while he is visible to the masses. He has a good alchemist, I’m sure, she thinks. His home is right next to the House of Light, after all.
Terwaen is also dismounted in the second round, but she remains in good spirits. She is not a horse lord yet herself, but she is still young by the standards of the Horse Clans, with plenty of time yet to prove herself. She outlasted Sir Owaec, so that in itself is something to be proud of.
The elves spend the rest of the afternoon wandering around the carts and booths, but they do not stay at the fairgrounds too late, as Tric has two appointments at the Parting Glass to get to.