Meet The Relatives by Lynda Williams, is the touching story of very Demish Dela's adventures in Red Reach. Illustrations are by Richard Bartrop.
Fital and Vras fight to the death.
Vras and Fital faced off. She was older. In a highborn, that just meant more experienced. She was long boned and hard muscled. No less capable of fighting than a man was. Some Demish men claimed Vrellish women were more dangerous than their men.
Dela hoped that was a viscous slander.
Someone tugged at her arm. It was just the child, again. A commoner. Clean faced, bold, and clear eyed.
The girl tipped her head towards a mat, a safe distance back off the challenge floor, from which a woman beckoned.
Dela let herself be guided by the wise suggestion. It was only a few steps. She got there, and sunk between two commoners. The child and her mother. They put their arms about her. An act impossibly familiar! But she was glad.
The duel went fast. Which was good, because Dela could not breath while watching the quick, Vrellish fighters on the challenge floor. Vras rebounded off an attack Dela thought would be fatal, whipped sideways and lunged as Fital spun around. Dela saw him jerk his head aside. Fital's sword glanced off his skull.
Fital's sword glanced off his skull.
Dela would have screamed, but all her breath was gone.
Both fighters pitched to the challenge floor.
Dela reared up on her knees, a fist crammed in her mouth.
There was an arm's length of sword sticking out of a half naked back.
Vras still had hold of the hilt. That had cost him his balance when she went down.
But he wasn't moving, either, and there was so much blood!
Dela pleaded with her body to move. But it wouldn't. If he was dead, she did not want to find out.
The hush was shattered by an explosion of motion as a woman tore free of the wedge of Frog's supporters to throw herself upon the wounded nobleborn still under Sert's protection.
Sert was smiling.
That gave Dela hope.
Galvanized, Dela scrambled up, shedding the grip of the girl who'd adopted her, and plunged across the empty challenge floor to drop beside Vras, hauling Fital's body clear as if it was nothing more frightful than a grain sack.
"Vras!" Dela's hands fluttered over him, afraid to touch. Afraid not to do something, fast.
There was blood in his hair. On his naked chest. On the floor. "Vras!" she wailed, hysterical.