Episode 7 Chapter 11

Conrad’s sword cracked the air like a whip before Theodore was ready. There was only enough time to tumble away, Theodore’s footing ruined. The detective pivoted and launched another attack that flowed into the next, and then another, and another. Theodore could only backpedal as each swipe left him the most breathless windows to evade.

“Stay in the ring, Grayweather!” Conrad said, laughing. “Unless you’re ready to forfeit?”

This was not an exam. Conrad was throwing everything he had into this assault. Years of practiced technique against the years Theodore spent sitting at a desk. He was relentless. Theodore’s heel touched the edge of the ring. He couldn’t let Conrad keep driving him back like this.

The detective’s form was familiar. It was the same as Lance’s. The Hero Champion taught the detective how to fight. They had the same training. That meant Theodore knew what was coming.

Theodore saw through a feint. He caught the real attack with his cross guard, and rammed Conrad with his shoulder. It was enough to push him back and gain ground. No more hesitation. Theodore lunged, striking his opponent square in the chest.

“Point to Grayweather!” Fullhound said.

“He won?!” Oboe said.

“It’s three to win,” Theodore said, panting.

Conrad readied his sword with a flourish. “Impressive. I expected nothing less from the son of Lance, but that is the last point you’ll take.”

Theodore could do this. He had the height advantage. The detective couldn’t use his magic or gadgets in this duel. It didn’t matter how long Conrad had trained under the Hero Champion, Theodore already had all his techniques drilled into him. He just needed to stay focused.


 Conrad hurled himself into another flurry of swipes. Not this time. Theodore dodged to his flank and drove his opponent into a corner by matching his pace. Prodding attacks, testing Conrad’s guard, looking for the chance to take him by surprise. Opportunity came. Conrad lowered his sword, and Theodore reeled back to take his next point.

It was the fool stance. Theodore saw it too late. Conrad hacked at Theodore’s leg and sent him crashing face first into the dust.


“Point to Whitechain!”

“Pathetic,” Conrad said. “He would be ashamed to see what you’ve become.”

Theodore got up, staggered. “I’m not your enemy! We both want to protect Laien!”

“Is that why you smuggled the prince? Because you care about what happens to this country?”

“Percy came back!” Oboe said. “He pardoned us!”

“He took responsibility for his actions. Have you?” He took the plow stance. “I’ve read your reports, Grayweather. The Fair Lady is dead because of you two. Whatever lies you need to tell to justify it, you’re still the one that created this crisis! Why should we trust you to fix it!?”


Theodore needed to focus. Conrad was too fast. Any lapse of attention was dangerous. They paced around one another, watching. Neither was making the first move.

“The Fair Lady was plotting with Feymire to take over!” Theodore said. “We had to stop her!”

“You confessed to being a Feymire spy. Who knows the truth anymore?”

“I lied to protect Oboe!” He slashed, and Conrad caught the strike on the strong of his blade. “You were going to kill her!”

The detective grabbed Theodore and knocked the sword out of his hand. Conrad’s blunt blade thrust to caress Theodore’s bare neck.

“Point to Whitechain!”

“You’re a liar, Theodore.” Contempt seethed across Conrad’s face. “But that doesn’t matter. It only takes a bit of looking to see what kind of Ranger Deputy you’ve been. Shall I count your crimes?”

Theodore said nothing. Conrad pulled away, taking up his position across the ring.

“This wasn’t the first time you used illegal magic to attack an allied creature, is it?”

Picking up his sword, Theodore looked at the copper ring on his finger. He could still sense the Tall Man, miles away in the valley. The ghast was almost killed because of him.


Oboe had dealt the killing blow to Bassoon, but he was still the one who found the vorpal sword and helped her use it. The death of the Fair Lady was in part his doing. He remembered the sting of excitement he felt when he cut open Ella. A chasm opened up inside him.

Conrad lunged, and Theodore just barely jumped out of reach.

“You can do this Theo!!” Oboe shouted. “Don’t listen to him!!”

He couldn’t afford to make any more mistakes. Theodore danced out of the way of the next few attacks, ready to guard. He could still see every technique Conrad was using, but it was harder to connect the dots when blood was pooling in his mind. Focus.

“Please,” Theodore said.

Conrad held the roof stance, bringing it down with overhead chops. Theodore leaned away from each. He knew the answer to this attack, he could see his father speaking wordless in a fog. He couldn’t hear what he was saying. All Theodore could remember was his own crying. His father held the sword with one hand on the blade, and used the cross guard like a hook.

Their swords rang as Theodore blocked the next strike. He snagged Conrad’s sword with the cross guard, and disarmed him with one yank. Theodore leapt forward to claim the round.

Something happened. Conrad grabbed him, pulling him forward into a grapple. Before Theodore knew what was going on, the detective was behind him. A sharp twist of pain in his wrist. Conrad took his sword. He was kicked, staggered, and then the blade came down on his shoulder.

“No!!” Oboe said.

“Point to Whitechain!”

Theodore fell to his knees. It happened. He’d lost. Oboe tried to run to his side, but Conrad pointed his sword at her.

“Stay back, faun. We aren’t done.”

“What are you talking about?” Theodore said. “You’ve won!”

“Then do you give up?” Conrad made a taunting shrug. “Let me hear you say it. Lance’s own son can’t go on. Say it.”

“I can’t give up,” Theodore said, forcing himself onto his feet. “I need to become the Ranger Deputy.”

“Then pick up that sword!” Conrad said. “Show me!”

Theodore bent to retrieve the fallen weapon and felt a sharp pain in his shoulder. He turned to face his opponent, his mind fuzzy.


Conrad held out his sword. “Duke Ambergrail was cursed by a wicked fairy. A fairy YOU brought to the university with the claimed intent to help him.”

Before Theodore could respond, Conrad smashed him in the ribs with his sword.

“Point to Whitechain!”

“You confessed, under oath, to treason against your home country.”

Theodore weaved out of the way of an attack, his head swimming. The next one was too quick for him.

“Point to Whitechain!”

“You were accessory to the assassination of the Fair Lady. Slain without trial or evidence.”

He didn’t have the energy to move. Conrad battered him across the head and let him fall to the ground.

“Stop!!” Oboe said. “Why are you doing this?!”

Conrad pointed his sword at Theodore. “This snake wormed his way into an office he knew he was not qualified for. He abused his power and threatened the balance of the kingdom I serve.” He spat, looking down at Theodore. “Well? Is that it? Do you give up?”

Theodore tried to lift himself off the ground. He needed to get up, but every time he did he was struck down again. He wasn’t strong enough.

Conrad’s eyes were a hanging noose: Tight and final. “If it weren’t for your pardon, I’d have you in chains already. No matter. In a week, I’ll have you stand before the court again. This time Perceval won’t be there to spare you. I’ll make certain you are held accountable for every crime you’ve committed. You are a blight on your father’s name, and I will not stand for it.” He dropped the practice sword. “Don’t come back.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *