Upon the bridge, the Trial of the Seven seems to be turning in House Woodhull’s favor. Jardon and Philip yield and remove themselves, and it isn’t long before Cortnay himself is thrown from the bridge, limbs splayed, not breathing. The gods have spoken! Cortnay is found guilt of his crimes. Though just as the crowd gathered begins to relax, thinking justice has been served to House Elesham, commotion erupts. The mystery knight charges onto the bridge and pushes Rancis down to the ground. Ser Darron shocks us all when he removes his helmet to reveal he is the mystery knight, and I hear him shouting obscenities and threats to the outlaw. What in seven hells….this will not end well for House Jasper.
Rancis jumps up and hurls himself at Darron with undeniably impressive athleticism. As Dolins and Jardon spring into action to help the old knight, I find myself irritated with his recklessness, and the opportunity it may bring for our house’s secrets to surface. I like the old man, but not enough to risk the house’s reputation and status I’ve helped to carefully craft should Rancis prevail in a fight against the very people who agreed to send him safely to Paps to wreak havoc there. Besides, the man is a stone wall!
While considering my options, Rancis erupts, and shouts “Yeild!” followed by something mumbled under his breath. The crowd is suspended in anticipation when Darron’s body relaxes and steps away, indicated he is yielding, on what I assumed is Rancis’ suggestion. But once again, fate twists in unexpected ways, and Jardon charges Rancis, hacking off his ugly head. The sound of the man’s enormous body crumpling into the cobblestone bridge is the only thing that can be heard, and everyone is stunned in silence.
“He yielded, “ James Woodhull says quietly, “He yielded and you killed him.” A dark disgust towards Jardon befalls the crowd gathered. It is only at this moment that I realize with horror that it was Rancis who was yielding, rather than giving the option to Darron. Despite this terrible stain on Jardon, the tournament and inevitably the house, I am secretly overjoyed that our secret plot with the outlaws will follow Rancis to his grave.
One final realization strikes me as the day is wrapping up, and we are all washing the grey gloom off of ourselves. James Woodhull, the man we thought we were sending Rancis and his comrades to terrorize, seemed to grieve Rancis’ death. And Rancis was fighting for the Woodhulls. What happened on Paps that united a band of outlaws and a noble house?