They cleared the safe zone, to let the next teams, also a mix of Onyxine Razor Fans and Elite begin. There would be ten initial trials, of course, with the Fans and the Mahid children playing parts. The initial teams would have a rest and then become ‘victims’ to be carried through.
Except that Akminchaer, on this end of the course, stepped in front of Ilesias, hooked a finger into his gorget and pulled him down nose to nose. “Tell me, Mahid, why are you attempting to hasten your death?”
Ilesias blinked at him. “I’m not, Haian, truly.”
“Oh? What did I tell you about being sedentary for a while?” He let go and tapped the arm. “This is still broken. You may ignore skin damage on the leg, but things are attempting to harden in here, to connect the ends of the bone. Trust me on this. Vigorous exercise can break pieces off that will go floating merrily through your blood until they come to a narrow spot in your brain and you will fall over with a brain-burst of some kind.”
“Oh. I just thought it was broken.”
Akminchaer sighed heavily. “Every warrior seems to have this... madness. Not only do they train constantly to harm others, they allow harm to themselves. They have this urge to let minor injuries become major, not allow themselves to heal, almost as if they are fighting the Spirit of Life in themselves as much as fighting everyone else! Let me guess. Your bet with the Captain was that you could beat him with one hand restrained.”
Ilesias had the grace to look sheepish. “Yes. I strapped the armour tight around the cast and didn’t use this arm. Much.”
“You are actually injured,” the healer snapped. “You are not to be banged around being ‘pretend’ injured.” He glared around at all of them. “You are all bruised. Take your remedies!”
“We hear, oh Healer,” Inensa said with a twitch of a smile.
“And obey,” Sofonisba added.
“You are all going back into that scrum,” he sniffed. “Except for you, First Ilesias Mahid! I am going to check you, and check that cast and put you through a hot bath and bed!”
“It’s just a broken arm!” Ilesias protested weakly. That was when an arm snaked through his elbow and took hold of him, firmly.
“Irilai!” He twitched, startled. “I didn’t expect you!”
“Naturally. I’m early. I’ll see that he goes to bed, Akminchaer.” Inensa approved of the Yeoli woman. She was almost as impassive as a Mahid, and just as firm. She and Akminchaer towed him back into the Marble Palace over his protests that he wished to see the rest of the Challenge standards set.
“We’ll let you sit for the last ones,” Irilai’s voice faded as the crowd roared for the beginning of round two.
“Dowager Inensa,” Jorasa said quietly. “I have been thinking about our skates.”
“Have you? I trust it is interesting for you.” She found herself with both Joras and Tesha on her lap. The sequins on the dress were smashed flat, bent, ripped off, so a pair of toddlers were hardly going to damage it further.
“Instead of lacing them on, we could have the skate maker put snap-buckles on them.”
Inensa blinked and rapped Joras on the knuckles as he attempted to suck his scraped hand. “That… would make it a great deal less tedious, putting them on and taking them off.”
“With your permission?”
“Of course. Your budget should cover such maintenance, but inform Coach.”
“I will.” They both ducked as a last moment ambush sent a dart skittering overhead as it missed and bounced out of the obstacle course completely.
“Perhaps we should ‘do it again’, as the children keep insisting.” Jorasa caught up Tesha and Joras bounced on his feet.
“I wanna run…”
The team that was saving the Coronet Regal came bouncing up the final ramp, having only lost one member.
“Should he really be participating?”
Inensa shrugged. “He got his brother’s permission.”
“It’s not quite so scary now that he’s going to be an uncle.”
“Indeed. Let us see how they ‘save’ me when I have my own skates on,” Inensa said. "There are a lot of stairs and blind-ends in this course."