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  The match continued on as Tucker unleashed his own attack which was aimed at the sword arm of Sir Ty. The young knight was just able to block the strike at the last moment and parried it away. This left Tucker open for an attack which Sir Ty didn’t waste any time in taking the shot. Just before the blow struck Tucker was just able to back away just out of the sword’s reach. It had happened at the last possible moment and he knew that if it had struck he would have most likely lost the match.

  Tucker decided that for now it was best to be on the defensive as he wanted to try and find some kind of opening that he could use to his advantage. Unfortunately from what he was seeing Sir Ty wasn’t leaving any openings for him to strike effectively. He might not like Sir Ty’s attitude but he had to admit that he was a more than capable knight who seemed to have all of his areas properly defended.

  Sir Ty unleashed his own attack but rather than trying to break through Tucker’s defences he was trying to get behind him and attack the back of his knees. Tucker wasn’t making his efforts any easier for him and he had to admire that of Tucker. So far in this tournament everyone he faced hadn’t seemed that much of a challenge. Tucker was the first one who was really testing his abilities, although Sir Ty respected Tucker for this it didn’t mean that he liked him at all. If anything it was making Sir Ty angrier as he felt that he should have beaten Tucker by that time.

  Sir Ty’s rage could be seen as his attacks were coming stronger but Tucker could tell that they were sloppier as well. This was the exact thing that he wanted to happen and he thought that it wouldn’t be long before Sir Ty made some kind of mistake. Then he would unleash a powerful counterattack which he thought would defeat Sir Ty and allow him to progress to the next round.

  Tucker only had to wait as Sir Ty continued to attack but with each strike Tucker blocked it with his shield. He only had to move his arm slightly each time but for Sir Ty he was constantly having to move his arm quickly to strike the blow. All the while he was trying to get behind Tucker so that he could defeat him but the peasant fighter was still proving to be a worthy challenge.

  Lord Tyrone was watching the match with great interest. He had seen his son fight more times than he could count but this was one of the few times that he thought Sir Ty was actually struggling. He had seen Sir Ty struggle against seasoned knights but never a person in the same rank as Tucker. It was amazing to see such a thing in his mind and it just showed that a knight can be anyone regardless of birth. He knew high borns who were completely useless with a sword like his second son Leon and there were some peasants who were more gifted than the most famous of knights. He knew that if there was one thing that Tucker had earned and that was Lord Tyrone’s respect for his skills and he thought that it was worthy of a particular gift.

  Jessica was also watching and she couldn’t really tell just who was in front. She didn’t have the knowhow when it came to a match like this. She didn’t know exactly how the judges were deciding the points but she had a feeling in the pit o her stomach that something was going against Tucker. She thought that his attacks had been exciting but she couldn’t help but feel that Sir Ty was the one who was actually winning the match. She didn’t want to think like that since she knew what would happen if Tucker lost.

  The crowd began to cheer as to them this had been the best match so far in the entire tournament. Many of them had expected Sir Ty to easily win this match but the fact that he was seemingly struggling only added to the excitement of it all. Even a blind man could see that Tucker had skill.

  With each strike there was a louder and louder roar from the crowd. Almost all of them didn’t regret going to the match at all and was well worth the money that they had paid to see it. Some of them were even making bets amongst themselves on who would actually win the match. To many it was too close to call but events in the next few minutes would soon decide that.

  The match continued on and Tucker went for a strong strike, he knew that it would leave him open to an attack but he thought that if he did it right it would win him the match. He lifted his sword high as he went to strike Sir Ty but he was somewhat surprised to feel Sir Ty’s shield thrust into his chest and he fell to the ground. The blow had winded Tucker but it was not deemed to be a fatal blow. He gasped for air and he soon realised that Sir Ty was about to strike him in the chest, he could see the young knight standing over him and he saw the sword in his hand. It looked like Sir Ty was about to plunge the blunted sword into Tucker’s chest if it had not been Tucker’s own ingenuity.

  Tucker was able to kick Sir Ty in the leg hard enough for the young knight to have to take a few steps back. He was surprised that Tucker still had some fight left in him and he watched as Tucker got back up to his feet. He was still gasping for air and he slowly got back up to his feet. He did feel a little woozy from the shield strike but he seemed to be recovering from it. His chest did hurt from where the shield impacted and he really hoped that there wasn’t any serious damage.

  The little confrontation between the pair was all that was needed to get the crowd into a frenzy as they truly couldn’t guess just who was going to win the match. It was simply too exciting for words but for Jessica she almost had a heart attack when she saw Tucker knocked to the ground. With each strike she saw it felt like someone was pulling on her heart strings, it was an emotional rollercoaster for her as like the crowd she didn’t know if Tucker would win the match.

  In her panic she didn’t realise that she had grown slightly making herself a few inches taller than she was before. While she was sitting down no one could really tell the difference but she had to be careful not to increase her size too much. The last thing she wanted to do was cause a widespread panic across the field. She had to keep her emotions in check or else she would be in a lot of trouble.

  Both Tucker and Sir Ty were panting and they glared at each other. The match was taking more out of them than they expected. Sir Ty couldn’t believe that Tucker was still going, he was more than certain that he would have beaten this peasant by now. He didn’t know whether he hated the fact that he hadn’t won but that he was being held by a peasant. One idea did come to mind, it was risky but he thought that it would prove that he was indeed the better man.

  “You’re better than I expected,” said Sir Ty. There was even the hint of a smile on his face. “I wouldn’t of thought that in a million years that you’d stand a chance against me.” For once he wasn’t trying to be demeaning to Tucker but was in fact giving him a well-deserved compliment.

  “Thanks, you’re not so bad yourself,” replied Tucker. He was still catching his breath after the shield strike. It was difficult for him but he could feel himself recovering more and more with each breath he took.

  “Why don’t we settle this like men?” Sir Ty saw Tucker raise an eyebrow at this suggestion. “No swords, no shields, no armour, just the two of us fighting with our fists like real men. Let’s put an end to this spectacle and settle this once and for all.”

  “I’m game as if you are. But let me just warn you, there’s a reason why they call me the ‘Fists Of The West’.” He knew that this wasn’t an actual nickname but instead something he had made up to intimidate Sir Ty.

  “Really?” He dropped his sword and shield to the ground and continued to stare at Tucker. There was a cheeky smile on his face as he was ready to throw down with his fists. “Let’s put that name to the test.”

  With that Tucker also dropped his sword and the two men took off their armour right in front of one another. The crowd were greatly surprised with what they were seeing and even Lord Tyrone had no idea just what Tucker and Sir Ty were up to. He only knew that the match was close to its conclusion. It would only be a few moments before one man stood tall and the other was downed.

  With both men now disarmed they ran at each other Sir Ty was the first to try and punch Tucker who was able to parry the shot away and respond with a strong punch into Sir Ty’s right cheek. The impact had come as some surprise as he didn’t expect Tucker to have such a punch. He didn’t know that Tucker had grown up with two older brothers who were constantly fighting amongst one another along with some of the local boys in Morgan. It had made Tucker pretty decent with his fists as well as his swords. The nickname he had given himself might have been fake but right now each syllable of it seemed to be true as Sir Ty staggered back.

  Despite the first impact Sir Ty was not out of it and stepped towards Tucker who tried to punch him a couple more times in the head. Sir Ty was able to dodge out of the way and punched Tucker in the stomach. Tucker had been expecting it and was able to tense his muscles up enough to withstand the punch without being winded. He also found that Sir Ty was now close enough for him to strike.

  Tucker responded with a strong uppercut and a side kick right into Sir Ty’s chest. It was obvious to those watching that Tucker was the most experienced when it came to hand to hand combat. Sir Ty had lived the life of a high born and hadn’t really been in a fist fight with anyone. He just assumed that his own conditioning and speed would be more than a match for Tucker. He couldn’t of been more wrong as he saw that in this field he was completely outclassed.

  There was one thing that Sir Ty did notice on the ground by his feet. He took a quick glance down to the ground and he felt that things were finally going his way. He looked over to Tucker who was quickly making his way towards him. It was with that that Sir Ty picked up the sword which was right by his foot and slashed it on Tucker’s arm. The impact had been somewhat painful but would only leave a bruise. Since Tucker had dropped his sword and shield along with his armour he had no defence against it. He quickly turned to try and see if he could spit his own sword and shield. He couldn’t see any at that immediate point in time and when he turned to Sir Ty the young knight stabbed his sword right into Tucker’s chest and he did it with a smile.

  No sooner had this blow been struck everyone heard the officials shout to stop the match. Sir Ty had inflicted what they saw as a killing blow and thus had won the match. There was a huge roar from the crowd and Tucker just dropped to his knees in silence. He couldn’t believe that he had just lost, not only did he lose his chance of gaining some much needed money but he knew that he had lost his shield but more importantly Juggernaut. It was almost too much for him to bear and he just watched as Sir Ty picked up his armour and shield and began to walk passed Tucker. He inflicted one final insult of his defeated opponent by spitting at Tucker. The broken man didn’t even try to move out of the way and remained where he was sitting. He was on the verge of crying but he was able to keep it bottled in, the world around him didn’t seem to matter as he was coming to realise that he had just lost everything that he owned.

  The next thing that Tucker felt was a hand on his shoulder, he turned and looked up to see Jessica who was kneeling down right next to him. She had a disappointed look on her face but she was nowhere near as disappointed as he was. He was just wallowing in his own self-pity but she gave him a smile that went through his grief. Right now to him she was the shining beacon of hope.

  “Come on Tucker let’s go,” said Jessica. Rather than picking him up she allowed Tucker to get back up himself and the pair walked off the field. She could tell just how disappointed he was and rather than scolding him for giving away his sword and shield instead she wanted to be comforting.

  “I-I lost it all,” replied Tucker as they continued to walk off of the field. If the ground could open up and swallow him whole now would be the perfect time. “I let you down and now we’re completely broke.”

  “You didn’t disappoint me Tucker.” She continued to smile down at him and her mere presence was making him feel a little better. “What you did today was nothing short of impressive. You showed me and everyone today that you are by far one of the best fighters in Angleland. You took down knights and even nearly beat one of the greatest fighters in the land. I can’t see how I can be disappointed in that Tucker, you might not have won today but you’ll always be my champion.”

  “Thanks Jessica that means a lot to me.” He meant every word that he said and he still couldn’t think about how he could even go through life with his larger than life best friend. “But what are we going to do now? We have no money and nothing to our name except the map.”

  “Don’t worry Tucker we’ll think of something, we always do.” They continued to walk although before they left Tucker had picked up his armour since he didn’t lose it signing up to the tournament.

  With the few gold coins Jessica had left she bought Tucker a pie to try and make him feel better. He was definitely hungrier than he would have liked to have admitted and he began to eat the pie quickly. He knew that the tournament was still going but he had no interest in going to watch it. Seeing Sir Ty winning his other matches would be too much for Tucker to bear since he knew that it was supposed to be him fighting those battles. Unfortunately would never know if he could have gone all the way.

  Tucker was contemplating just leaving Indigon right there and then and not even check who would win the tournament. He just wanted to go and leave his shame behind but before he could properly think of what he should do a pair of well armoured men approached both him and Jessica. He didn’t know what to do and he wanted to draw his sword out to defend himself but he realised that he no longer had a sword.

  Jessica would have stepped forward to try and defend him but she could tell something that Tucker just couldn’t. From the body language of the two armoured men they didn’t seem to be all that threatening. For this reason she didn’t think that they were there to cause them any harm.

  “Greetings Mr Martel,” said one of the armoured men. “Your presence has been requested by Lord Howlet to appear before him at six o’clock tonight. Your friend’s presence is also requested. You are to appear outside of the main gates to the castle where you will be escorted inside.”

  “What if we refuse to come?” replied Jessica. Even though the men didn’t seem to be threatening she didn’t want to take any chances. She was ready to grow at the slightest hint of trouble.

  “Your presence is not mandatory but I believe that you will not benefit from refusing. Good day to you both.”

  With that the two men began to walk away leaving Tucker and Jessica exactly where they were. They now had the decision whether to just leave Indigon or go and see Lord Tyrone. So far he had given them no reason not to trust him but they still remembered Lord Nostory. At first he had been a seemingly nice person but in the end he had tried to keep Jessica s nothing more than his mindless slave and have Tucker executed for nothing more than wanting Jessica to be free.

  Of course they knew that not all lords were like that but even so they were cautious. They also considered what would happen if they turned down the invitation. Lord Tyrone would most likely take it as an insult and a slight on him and his family. It took the pair a good few minutes to go through the pros and the cons of accepting the invitation but in the end it was Jessica who stated that if they ran into any trouble that she could just grow and get them to safety.

  Tucker couldn’t help but agree however he was still exhausted from his matches during the day. At the time he had barely noticed but now that the adrenaline had ebbed away he felt very drained. He also began to ache from where had been struck, Jessica had already examined him and discovered that there were bruises on his body. It was nothing for him to be worried about but simply something else that he could show off for a short while to show that he fought in the tournament.

  After a small amount of convincing from Jessica Tucker did go back to the field of play. This time it was not to compete but merely be a spectator for the final. It gave him a low feeling but he at least wanted to see who won the tournament. Not surprisingly he heard that Sir Ty had reached the final and he was going up against a seasoned knight named Sir Darren Large who despite the name was quite a small man.

  Unfortunately since it was the final the pair didn’t get very good views due to the fact that so many people had come late purely to watch the final. It was not a problem for Jessica who still towered over everyone. Tucker wasn’t so fortunate but he was able to find a box to stand on so that he could see over the crowd. Both of them knew that Jessica could have held him high enough to see but it would be demeaning to Tucker so this plan had been scrapped completely.

  From where they were standing they could see Sir Ty and Sir Darren beginning to tussle and fairly quickly it was clear who had the advantage. Sir Ty was simply more than Sir Darren could handle. The match was short and sweet as Sir Ty won what to him was a routine win and he didn’t seem to have put that much of an effort. From where Tucker was standing he thought that he had put up a much better fight than Sir Darren. He realised that if he had not been drawn against Sir Ty so quickly he would have likely made it to the final. Fate had not been too kind to him in this respect. He also thought that if he got a rematch he would have learned from his mistakes and win.

  This was all a fantasy however as he knew that there was almost no chance of any kind of rematch and he would just have to live with the fact that he had been beaten. It was not as crushing as some men would have believed but it was still one of the biggest disappointments in his life.

  Jessica could see the disappointment in Tucker’s face as he saw Sir Ty basking in the glory of victory. Glory that Tucker felt should have been his but rather than being angry at Sir Ty for beating him he was angry at himself for faltering. One positive thing he could take from it was that he had something to aspire to. To train himself until he could defeat Sir Ty in an honourable manner. Before this he had thought himself to be practically unbeatable and the defeat had been a clear wakeup call for him.

  Lord Tyrone had mixed feelings about his son winning the tournament. He was of course proud of his son for going all the way and winning the tournament. If Sir Ty had lost Lord Tyrone would have seen his son learn the lesson that Tucker had just learned. He had also noticed how Sir Ty had spat at Tucker after beating him and he knew that it was something that a knight should do to a defeated opponent. Even in defeat a knight should show some respect to his opponent. This was respect that Sir Ty sorely lacked and his chance of learning seemed to have been squandered.

  Nancy was disappointed to see her brother winning the tournament. She more than anyone wanted to see Sir Ty get taken down a peg or two but unfortunately it hadn’t seemed to happen. One thing she did take some comfort in was the fact that he had really struggled against Tucker and that she would be seeing him again soon. She knew that her father had invited both he and Jessica to the castle.

  Almost as soon as the tournament was finished the crowd seemed to dissipate. Some of them wanted to meet with Sir Ty but he didn’t really want to see anyone and just walked away back to the castle where no one could enter without permission of the Howlet family. He wanted celebrate his victory in private but he would probably hire some of the women of the night to keep him company.

  Later Tucker and Jessica slowly made their way towards the castle when darkness was almost upon the land. They were somewhat nervous with having to go but they kept themselves composed as they made their way towards the main entrance which was a large pair of oak doors. There were a couple of guards standing there but Tucker and Jessica were allowed inside since they were expected. One thing that he did find odd while he was walking around was the fact that he no longer had Juggernaut or his shield. It felt like two of his limbs had been chopped off and he didn’t know if he could continue on with the quest with these two items.

  Rather than being allowed to move freely the pair were escorted to the banquet hall where Lord Tyrone, Sir Ty and Nancy were having supper, there were a few other guests there but rather than having a full on banquet it was more like a small gathering. Lord Tyrone would have liked his other son Leon to be there but he was still at Royal City and would likely stay there for a considerable time.

  Tucker and Jessica were given a seat that was the furthest away from the Howlet family. There was an obvious class system in place and since Tucker and Jessica’s parents were of low birth they weren’t permitted to sit close to the Lord or his family. Lord Tyrone would have preferred for Tucker and Jessica to sit closer but he knew that it would be insulting to the other guests who were of a higher class and would most likely remember such an insult later.

  At first all that Lord Tyrone did for Tucker and Jessica was give them a greeting before the food was brought out by the servants. Despite the seemingly warm atmosphere the pair were still on edge, they did eat the food since they were very hungry. They could taste it the juiciness of the meat and the freshness of the vegetables. It was a meal that was common amongst the lords and other high borns and it definitely beat anything that a lowly peasant could hope to eat.

  The small banquet went on for a good hour before everyone had finally eaten their fill. The plates were then taken away by the servants and with the dining finally over Lord Tyrone felt that it was time for him to speak. He had a few things that he needed to say that he felt were important to his lands.

  “My friends and honoured guests,” said Lord Tyrone as he stood up from his chair. He easily grabbed the attention of everyone in the room. “I thank you all for attending tonight on such short notice. The first thing that I would like to do is to congratulate my son and heir for winning today’s tournament.” There was a small round of applause from those present for Sir Ty’s victory. The young knight remained in his chair and glared over towards Tucker. He couldn’t believe that his father would have invited them since they were nothing more than peasants to him.

  “May your son continue to bring your house glory,” stated one of the guests. He was a minor lord who lived close by but he respected the Howlet name was nothing short of a friend to the house.

  “Thank you but I also wanted to throw this little get together to celebrate the completion of Indigon. Just a few minutes ago the last brick was officially laid which means that the castle that will be the seat of House Howlet from now until the end of time is complete.” There was a round of applause from everyone there as they had to admit that they were glad that the castle was complete. It had taken years for the castle to be completed but now that it was it could truly be added to the map. Already I have invited my dear sister and her husband our King Percy, the Third of his name to attend a grand celebration. Today’s tournament was the first step but there is plenty more to come.”

  There was another round of applause from everyone there. Tucker and Jessica still didn’t know why they had been invited here. They were definitely not noble enough to ever be invited here without a decent reason. It made Tucker feel a little uneasy but he kept his composure and continued to listen to Lord Tyrone’s words. He didn’t see them as being threatening but he knew how a Lord could turn his words in an instant.

  “But before I go any further has Tucker Martel arrived?” asked Lord Tyrone. He looked around and saw Tucker stand up. This was just so that he could be seen and he responded with a simply ‘I’m here my Lord.’ Everyone turned their heads to look at Tucker and he felt somewhat embarrassed. “Good I knew that you would come, if you would be so kind to step here.” There was low level chatter amongst those attending since they all knew that Tucker was a mere commoner. He did do as he was told as he stepped forwards passed the other noblemen. Lord Tyrone stepped in front of his dining table so that everyone could see them clearly. The guards inside the room were ready to strike if Tucker so much as breathed the wrong way towards Lord Tyrone. “This man here is the only man I saw today who truly challenged my son and heir. This man was able to go toe to toe with him in a way that no one here could have expected. All here know that there was a good chance that things could have gone differently and it might even have been Mr Martel here who was crowned champion.” He then looked at Tucker who was happy with the compliment but he still felt nervous in front of these noble people. “For your efforts I would like for you to receive this reward.” He made a quick hand signal to a couple of his servants who quickly brought forward what seemed to be a sword and shield. Tucker watched them approaching and he noticed that the sword and shield were the same ones that he had put down as collateral to enter the tournament. “I believe that you sacrificed these items for your opportunity to become champion. After such a performance as yours you have more than earned them back to your services.” The two servants placed the sword and shield on a small empty table that was nearby but for the moment he wasn’t allowed to pick them up.

  “Thank you my Lord,” replied Tucker. He bowed his head as a sign of respect towards Lord Tyrone. “I will further put them to good use.”

  “I know that you will but there is one more thing I need to do for me.” He cleared his throat for a moment. “Get down to your one knee.” Tucker thought that this was an odd request but he did it nonetheless. Lord Tyrone signalled another of his servants who quickly brought forward another sword. This one seemed much grander and older than Juggernaut, it looked to be hundreds if not thousands of years old. It had a firm grip and a polished blade that looked sharp enough to cut the very air in front of it. Lord Tyrone grabbed the sword and everyone stared in wonder over its beauty. Jessica was getting somewhat worried and even considered stopping what was happening but something inside of her told her to stay put. She watched as Lord Tyrone placed the blade onto Tucker’s left shoulder before doing the same again to his right shoulder. “In the name of Percy Kent, the King of Angleland, third of his name the Lord of Men I Lord Tyrone Howlet, fifth of my name and Lord of Indigon do by dub thee Sir Tucker Martel of Morgan.”


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