The first test was a horse race, with a last minute darkness/troll cultist entry showing up (the dark horse :-). Our boy had picked out the best horse in the corral (he had a few months to get familiar with the available horses), and ran quickly enough to get there. Our man, the dark lover, and a wild nomad horse rider also got there quickly enough to pick the good horses (except that the darkness guy's horse wasn't so good - it started wheezing as soon as it got moving).
There was some vigorous racing, some cheating (nomad rider used magic but got caught; we set up dead-wood obstacles under the river, asked the fish to pester people not wearing blue boots (they spooked the nomad's horse), and we didn't get caught). There was a fine bit of cooperation between the local boy and our hunter at the get-the-apple-from-the-tree segment.
We couldn't have wished for a better race result: local boy first, hunter second, darkness guy third (amazing riding ability compensated for the slow horse - did it the hard but fast way (like picking up and planting the flag from bareback)), Lunar last and obnoxious neighbours near last and rambunctious nomad disqualified.
The next day's contest is jousting. Some people are looking forwards to the intelligence test on the day after - last one still conscious in a beer drinking contest (it used to be a riddling contest but the riddle part got dropped after a while). Of course, the day after that it is the walk on the village fort wall while having heavy blunt arrows shot at you. Then there's the pain test (everybody holds a pot of boiling water, last one still holding wins, we have hopes that some nerve deadening fish poison could be useful).
Anyway, we were surreptitiously interrogating all the passengers at dinner to see if they were legitimate. Things like checking the details of a fox hunt that the British MP passenger would have gone to (my character's father is in the House of Lords). Or noticing that one of the women passengers was walking smoothly in high heeled shoes.
The most interesting event of the night for you, the audience, was when we went to sleep, with Stan the accountant / artist wannabe on watch. He was supposed to wake up the next guy after his watch was finished, which he did. The wakee, Doctor Champion, said "Do you have a match?", which Stan replied "No, I have a lighter". Champion replied "Better still". Then Stan forgot his response, and started sweating because Champion is the one with a gun under his pillow.
Fortunately Champion was able to use his psychology skill to recognize that Stan had forgotten and wasn't just pretending. Unfortunately, Gattling the social reporter is on the bunk above and heard the exchange. He's the prime suspect...
Copyright © 1997 by Alexander G. M. Smith.