After speaking to both teams, Andorra took a seat on an impromptu elevated stage to the left of where Prince Liam was going to sit. I still don't understand why I had to do that, she thought, smoothing her old priestess dress.

Most days she wore pants for practice, but at the end of the week, on the Holy Day, she wore the dress she came to Gefford in, although it felt extremely different without her apprentice cord. The Sisters at the Gefford temple removed it the first Holy Day after Andy's training had begun. It had been a very sad day for her but she knew what she had chosen to do and Andy was ready to accept the consequences, even if it meant never becoming a priestess.

It felt a little odd wearing the dress two days after Holy Day, on Bal, but it was a nice change. And Prince Liam had ordered her to dress nicely for the tournament and the old dress was the best se had. As the tournament drew near, the sidelines filled with the training soldiers, lesser nobles, and a few lucky commoners. The noble's filled out the elevated platform on either side of King Neapore's, Prince Simon's and Prince Liam's chairs. Finally a trumpet sounded, everyone rose, and the royal family took the stage. As they sat, Andy examined King Neapore and his son; she was certain King Neapore had lost weight and was wearing flesh colored powder on his face and Prince Simon looked pale as well.

Prince Liam turned to her, interrupting her thoughts, and said gruffly, "I told you to wear something nice.

Andy flushed, partially annoyed but mostly embarrassed, "It's the nicest I have, sire."

"Hmph," he huffed and turned back around

Neapore was addressing the challengers who were lined up on the field, giving them words of encouragement and thanks before they began.

"Is that a Nymian?" one of the nobles beside her whispered to his wife. "I didn't know we let anyone in the army."

"Desperate times, I suppose," his wife answered in a nasally voice.

The order was given and the fight began. On the Nymians team, the small girl (Andy only knew who they were because she had given them instructions) had a small wisp of a sword, the burly young man was swinging an axe, the Nymian carried the standard issue sword and shield, and the other man had strange dagger like weapons with an odd handle that positioned the blades above his knuckles. On the other team, two soldiers had the same shield and sword as the Nymian woman, one had a mace and shield, and the last person, a small girl, had a long thin sword similar to the girl on the Nymian's team.

Immediately after the start, the Nymian almost appeared at the largest opponents side. They clashed swords and shields while her large, axe wielding teammate faced the comparatively tiny girl. She was as Andorra had suspected and quite swift, but he surprisingly was too. The two danced back and forth while the Nymians other teammates took on the last two opponents together. Back to back the two shuffled about, keeping their opponents at bay.

At almost the same time, the Nymian managed to knock her opponents shield from his hands, quickly followed by his sword, as her large burly teammate took a swipe from the small girls sword on his left arm.

Andy looked at Prince Liam for instructions as the two disqualified soldiers walked off the field. "It's a scratch," the prince said nonchalantly. "You can attend to him at the end.'

Nodding, Andorra returned her attention to the competition. The Nymian was facing the quick girl now, her own small female companion walking weaponless to the side of the arena, head hanging down in defeat.

Two opponents were on the Nymian who still managed to hold her own, but the last man on her team was sliced across the cheek.

Andy and many of the nobles were at the edges of their seats as the remaining soldiers surrounded the Nymian. Andy found herself rooting for the Elf while the calls rose from all areas of the arena against her favor.

The Nymian did her best to block each blow with her shield and sword, but she was overwhelmed. One of her burly opponents knocked her sword aside, but not down, while the other two pushed her back by striking her shield repeatedly. Metal clanged as the Nymian tried to regain her footing. She'd managed to get her sword up, but only briefly as the same soldier knocked it back again, this time out of her hand.

The crowd erupted in a mixture of cheers and groans, Andy included. She was surprised to see Prince Liam clap, almost enthusiastically.

A crier stepped onto the field and directed the participants to line up; they were announced and applauded then escorted off the field as several soldiers and castle staff began to set up the targets for the second part.

Prince Liam turned and looked sternly at her. "Go check on them," he ordered.

Andy rose and bowed, hurrying past the nobles before muttering "Would it kill you to say please?"