The TARDIS console room was quiet. Only the hum of the engines and the sympathetic trill of Humphrey under the console could be heard, even though there were six people – not counting the strange darkness creature – in the room.

Everyone was talking telepathically. They were helping Julia to hone her skills with her psychic brooch. The four former Chrysalids were delighted to bring her into their conversations. Chrístõ mostly left them to it as he attended to their course through time and space. The half term for him and Julia had nicely coincided with the Semester break at Nova Castria university and he was happy to take his ex-students on a field trip to a planet they had been studying in their comparative cultures elective.

“Of course, you realise,” he told them. “There’s no extra credit for actually visiting the planet. I told my old friends, Cassie and Terry, that, when I took them to ancient Egypt.”

It was a little like those days, he thought. Laurence and Angela and Marle and Pieter had formed two couples, living together in a shared house near the university. Looking at them relaxing in the console room it was just like when he travelled with Sammie and Bo and Terry and Cassie. Except now Julia was with him and he was no longer the odd man out.

“It’s cool knowing somebody who can take us nearly a hundred light years in a couple of hours,” Pieter Stein told him.

“You’re still the best teacher we ever had, Chrístõ,” Marle Benning added. “Nobody at Nova Castria comes close. And not just because of the TARDIS.”

“I wish he was my teacher,” Julia sighed. “It’s not fair that they keep him just for the Chrysalids. I’d love to be in that class.”

“It wouldn’t be appropriate,” Chrístõ told her. “You’re my girlfriend. Besides, as smart as you are, you’re not quite up to the advanced curriculum. And we don’t have half as many gym periods as you get in the Sports Excellence stream.”

“You just keep on winning medals for New Canberra,” Angela told her. “We all keep an eye on the Beta Delta championships, you know. The team is always top of the table.”

“It’s not just me, you know,” Julia said. “It IS a team. Not just individuals.” Even so, being complimented by university students on her High School achievements brought a pleased flush to her face and a satisfied smile.

“Mind you don’t get too swollen headed with all the praise,” Chrístõ teased her. “It would make those fancy cartwheels of yours rather tricky.”

“All these years, it’s time you learnt the proper names for them,” Julia responded, laughing. Then to prove she wasn’t in the least hindered by her head or anything else she crossed the console room floor with a cartwheel, forward roll and a mid air full twist, to land gracefully in front of him. Chrístõ reached and put his arms around her waist and claimed a kiss. His friends made appreciative noises, including Humphrey, who copied Laurence’s wolf whistle very accurately.

“Next time you do that, let me get the anti-grav cushions on. The console room floor is much harder than your practice mat if you fall. But it was very beautiful.”

Julia grinned and claimed another kiss. Humphrey repeated his wolf whistle, adding several different octaves to it. Then the communications panel made a sound even shriller than he was. Julia stepped back from his embrace hesitantly.

“It’s all right,” he assured her. “Nothing to worry about. Why don’t you all go and get changed while I take this call.”

He knew the wardrobe would have something special for them all to wear. The girls would be busy fixing their hair and make up to match. That was long enough for him to deal with the incoming communication from Hext.

“I knew it was too good to last,” he said. “It’s been a month since I was press-ganged into the Celestial Intervention Agency. You were bound to catch up with me.”

“Actually, I wasn’t going to bother you,” Hext replied. “But I noticed that you’re heading for Llamissa X.”

“You’re monitoring my TARDIS?” Chrístõ looked and sounded angry. “How? Did you put something in my TARDIS when I was at The Tower?”

“Nothing of the sort,” Hext answered. “You’re using one of the old presets that was in your TARDIS when you took it over. The High Council were monitoring you, then, remember. Don’t worry. I’m the only one with the access codes, now.”

“I don’t even want you keeping tabs on me,” Chrístõ replied. “I'm going to wipe those presets one of these days. Anyway, what’s so important about Llamissa X?”

“Bakarra Cassab Markoviz.”

Chrístõ frowned. The name was familiar, but he couldn’t place it. When he did, he had a stray and apparently random vision of the lacrosse court at the Prydonian Academy.

“You… mean the Arcalian games master?”

“Most of the CIA's work at the moment is rounding up collaborators and traitors,” Hext said. “Markoviz is one of the last. He got away in the confusion of the early days when you and I were busy. He…” Hext swallowed hard. “He betrayed Lord Dúccesci and his son. He gave away their resistance cell to the Mallus. And… He was there when they murdered Malika. He watched them. He heard his screams, listened to his father plead for mercy….”

Chrístõ wondered if Hext had told him that deliberately, knowing it would burn in his soul. Hext certainly ought to know that a CIA operative was meant to be dispassionate and detached from his quarry. But he was ensuring that he was anything but.

“I… still don’t do assassinations,” Chrístõ reminded him. “Not even for that &~@$%^.”

“I don’t want you to. Bring him in alive. The Celestial Intervention Agency have questions to ask him. And we don’t intend to be polite about it. Afterwards… he goes to trial… a public trial, a public execution. Justice will be seen to be done.”

That was the mood of Gallifrey, Chrístõ thought. In the past, when his father and Li carried out assassinations, it was enough for a traitor to disappear and never be heard of again. But right now, the blood spilled needed accounting for. The Arcalian Lacrosse Captain’s murder still had to be reckoned.

“I’ll find him,” Chrístõ said. “Send me his biodata.”

“I know you have civilians with you,” Hext said. “Don’t take any unnecessary chances. If you can’t bring him in, just make sure he’s marked and identified and I’ll send agents to pick him up.”

“Trust me,” Chrístõ answered. He closed the communication quickly and turned to look at the biodata that was transmitted automatically to his console. There were several pages, but his eyes dilated rapidly as he took it all in. The only thing that worried him was the footnote that told him that Markoviz had regenerated before he left Gallifrey. He had no idea what the man might look like. But that was no real problem. He was a Time Lord. He would know him by his psychic ident, no matter how he tried to hide it.

But the others were returning now and he turned off the monitor as he got ready to smile at the three beautiful women who presented themselves for his approval.

Marle was a tall girl, nearly as tall as her twin brother, who was a strapping six footer. She looked like a graceful willow tree in long, fitted sleeves and a figure hugging dress of pale green brocade embroidered in a darker green. Beside her, Angela was in white with gold embroidery and Julia, barely five foot four and petite of figure, wore heeled shoes to gain a few brave inches. Her dress was deep red with black embroidery. Her pony tail was gathered into a gold ring on top of her head to make her look a little taller.

Laurence and Pieter were in loose trousers and thigh length jerkins in the same brocade but in complimentary colours. Laurence was in gold with white embroidery, Pieter in dark green with pale green decoration. They both felt a little overdressed but their women seemed to approve. Chrístõ smiled and went to change into his own outfit. It complimented Julia’s gown, being black with deep red fleur de lis designs. He was satisfied. Black always suited him in any form. Red was the colour of Prydonia. He thought he looked pretty good. Not that he was especially vain about his appearance, but after all, he had to uphold the honour of his race!

“Liar!” his inner voice told him. “You like to look good.”

“Well, ok,” he replied with a laugh. He turned from the full length mirror before he started to get too involved with that argument.

He returned to the console room. Julia looked critically at his outfit. She approved of the colour and style but frowned as she noted he wore a sword belt with it.

“I’m attending as a Lord - Sir Chrístõ de Leon,” he said. “I’m expected to wear a sword. Gentleman on Llamissa do.”

“So what are we?” Laurence asked.

“You’re my retinue,” Chrístõ answered with a wide smile. “My squires and the companions to my Lady.”

“Don’t we get swords, then?” Pieter asked.

“No. You haven’t learnt to use one. And a sword in the hands of an untrained man is a dangerous thing. Anyway, are you ready?”

They were ready. Being Chrístõ’s retinue was perfectly acceptable to them all. He had been their leader in various ways ever since the day he first stepped into the classroom as their teacher. Now, as young adults, they counted him as a friend, but they knew there was still a lot they could learn from him. And they would follow him anywhere.

“I certainly would,” Julia whispered as she caught those thoughts in their heads.

They stepped out of the TARDIS and noted its disguise for today. A small wooden hut by a coppice of trees, the sort of unobtrusive building that anyone would pass without thinking about. Only the small TS symbol on the door identified it as anything but a humble woodsman’s hut.

They walked along a well made road that led to a walled city beyond a wide, meandering river. It was a little after midday and the place looked very beautiful with the golden sunlight glancing off white walls and the turrets and battlements of a castle that was as near to a fairy tale concept of a castle as any of them had ever seen.

“On either side of the river lie, Long fields of barley and of rye, That clothe the wold and meet the sky; And through the field the road runs by, To many-towered Camelot.”

Angela recited the lines from Tennyson, but the other two girls sighed in agreement.

“Caer Llamissa,” Chrístõ said, pronouncing the double ‘L’ as it would be in Welsh, though the pronunciation and the resemblance to any real or imagined period of Earth history was all completely coincidental. Llamissa was the home of a humanoid people, but one that had never been connected to Earth humans. He could have bored everyone with details of how the Llamissan anatomy differed from either Human or Time Lord, but it didn’t really matter. Outwardly they all looked the same.

Llamissa was not, in fact, a medieval society. Its people simply chose not to use advanced technology. There was a space port a few miles south of the walled city where he could have chosen to park the TARDIS if he wanted. They could have travelled to Caer Llamissa – the prefix meaning both the city and the castle - by one of the near silent air shuttles that passed over their heads at regular intervals. But it was more fitting, he thought, to arrive this way, crossing the bridge on foot and approaching the great entrance gates as if they had travelled the roads all day.

They were not alone on the road. There was a steady stream of traffic into the city. Mostly the other travellers were people with something to sell. There was a cart with something like a mobile barbecue on the back, another with packs of sweets of various bright colours. The Llamissan equivalent of a hot dog stand negotiated the bridge and came up to the gates in front of them.

“It’s a tournament night, tonight,” Laurence noted. “These will be making good money selling their wares.”

“Not to us,” Chrístõ said. “We’ll present ourselves at the castle and dine with the Lord.”

There were guards on the gate, but they didn’t seem to be in any way keeping people out of the city. They were just there to make sure the traffic didn’t become congested. As Chrístõ and his party approached, however, one of them bowed respectfully and asked Pieter the name of his Lord.

“He is Sir Chrístõ de Leon,” Pieter answered as Chrístõ prompted him telepathically. “Lord of Kasterborous.“

“I shall send word of your arrival,” the soldier said. “And a man will escort you through the streets.”

“That is very good,” Chrístõ said. A young soldier hurried out of the gate house and fell in step ahead of their party. There didn’t seem any obvious danger to them in the bustling streets but it was less wearisome having somebody part the crowds for them to pass by than having to push through the throng.

The streets were cobbled and ran very slightly uphill towards the castle. The dwellings were sturdy, built of the same strong stone as the outer walls. Most of them were two or three storeys, with living quarters above craftsmen’s workshops or shops full of produce on display. From what they could see the hand crafted goods were very well made, and Chrístõ promised the girls a shopping outing.

Before the castle keep, a huge arena had been sectioned off with barriers made of woven reeds. Within the arena, preparations were being made for the competitions Pieter had mentioned. This was the purpose of their visit, of course. But the excitement would not begin until after sundown when the arena would be lit by rush lights. A wooden grandstand was being constructed up against the castle wall. That would be full of the Lord’s guests while the lesser spectators crowded around the outer perimeter.

They watched the preparations going on as they approached the second great door, this one leading into the castle keep itself. The message had obviously been passed on and the doors swung open for a liveried herald to greet them.

“My Lord will receive you, Lord de Leon,” he was told. Chrístõ responded graciously.

“How do you know what to say to people like that?” Pieter asked him telepathically.

“My father was a diplomat,” he answered. “He taught me how to behave in all kinds of social settings.”

“You had servants in your home, didn’t you, Chrístõ?” Angela noted. “You know how to speak to them as well as to Lords and ladies.”

“Yes. I was taught from an early age to treat the servants with dignity and respect. I was taught to thank them for anything they brought to me, and not to make extra work for them by being messy or untidy in anything I did. And if I had been rude to our butler, it would have been a transgression akin to being rude to my father himself. Not that I ever did either.”

“Not like him, then?” Marle said, nodding towards a man who had come into the grand hall behind them. His voice rang out as he cursed his own manservant for dropping one of the pieces of luggage he was managing.

“Not like him, at all,” Chrístõ responded. He turned away. The diplomatic thing was to ignore such scenes. But then the same man uttered a swearword that translated into any language could not be ignored.

“Sir,” Chrístõ said, drawing himself up aristocratically. “I demand you apologise to the ladies within your hearing for the use of that abhorrent word.”

The other man looked at him and scowled. He looked as if he might use another abhorrent word in front of him. Chrístõ wondered if he had got himself into a situation that might lead to a duel. But then the house servants all became very attentive and a commanding voice rang out from the top of the staircase that swept up from the great entrance hall.

“I will not hear such language within my household,” said the middle aged man in a velvet cloak who descended the stairs and approached Chrístõ and the offending gentleman. “Lord Rhys, your apology will be forthcoming.”

Lord Rhys turned towards the ladies who had been present – Marle, Angela and Julia - and apologised. Chrístõ nodded courteously to him.

“Honour is satisfied,” he said. “In my province it is customary, therefore, to shake hands.” He held out his hand. Rhys looked puzzled at first, then reached out and cursorily shook.

“My servants will take your baggage to your chambers,” the Lord of the manor said to Rhys as his manservant struggled to hold all of the luggage at once. That done, and Lord Rhys dispatched up the stairs, he turned to Chrístõ. “Do you not have any baggage with you, sir?”

“It is being brought along later,” he answered. “I am Chrístõ de Leon, Lord of Kasterborous. You, I presume are Lord Llamiss?”

“Sir Geraint Y Llamiss at your service,” he replied. “Let me conduct you and your friends to your own chambers. You will wish to rest before dinner? You have travelled much further than most, I think.”

“Very much further,” Chrístõ answered. “But the fame of Llamissa has spread. And we come to pay our respects to you, my Lord.”

Lord Llamiss seemed convinced of Chrístõ’s chivalric credentials, anyway. He spoke to him as an equal as he conducted him and his retinue to a suite of rooms in the east wing of the castle where, he said, they would have a fine view of the sunset from the solar.

“An eastern setting sun,” Chrístõ said happily as he approved of the solar – a large comfortable sitting room with a big window overlooking the fields beyond the river. Llamiss castle had been built for defence, but in peace time such luxuries as rooms with a view were added.

He turned from admiring the view to see Laurence and Pieter coming from the chamber where the three of them, Lord and squires, would sleep. Girlish giggles and chatter came from the other room with three four poster beds where their ladies were refreshing themselves.

“While they’re are out of earshot,” Chrístõ said. “And seeing as you are acting as my squires… I need to tell you something.” The two young men became attentive as he told them of the manhunt that made this more than a leisure weekend for him.

“Do you know who he is?” Laurence asked.

“Maybe it’s Lord Rhys?” Pieter suggested.

“No, it’s not. When I shook hands with him I would have felt if he was a Time Lord. That’s too easy, I’m afraid. Besides, he was just a bit too rude even for a Newblood.”

“This Markoviz… he was a teacher… and he let the enemy kill one of his students?”

Laurence and Pieter looked at each other, then to their own former teacher. They couldn’t imagine such a betrayal.

“None of you have known war,” Chrístõ said, feeling twice as old as he really was. “The human race has been at peace for at least a century before you were born. You don’t know… nobody knows… how they would behave if they were faced with such an enemy. Most of my people acted with courage and loyalty. A few, a very few, let fear or other base motives rule them. Markoviz… I hope, when I identify him… I hope he has some small sense of remorse for what he did. I would like to hear him say he is sorry for what was done to Dúccesci, if not for the others he betrayed. It might… might soften my hatred of him.”

Chrístõ gripped the hilt of his sword as he spoke. Laurence and Pieter noticed that and were shocked.

“Chrístõ! Do you mean to… kill him?”

”You know me better than that,” he answered. “I may have an assassin’s blood in my veins. But I am my own man and I would not. Besides, he should go to trial. My people should see him convicted of his crime and… punished accordingly.”

He might have said more, but the girls came to them. They had washed their faces and redone their hair. They came to sit with their men in the solar until they were called to dine.

The great dining hall was an experience for everyone. They were heralded as they entered. Julia was nearly as accustomed as Chrístõ was to being introduced as Lord de Leon and Lady Julia. But Sir Laurence and Lady Angela, and Sir Pieter and Lady Marle were a little surprised. They were even more surprised to find themselves near the top of the table as honoured guests. Chrístõ and Julia were beside Lord Llamiss and his wife, Lady Betrys, and his friends beside them. Lord Rhys, was seated opposite along with two other Lords, Aderyn and Cadell who talked enthusiastically about the tournament that would get underway after they had dined.

“I have never seen jousting before,” Marle said to Lord Cadell, who proved an easy man to talk to. He looked at her in surprise.

“You have never seen a mounted joust before? Or a fight with broadswords?”

“They don’t do that where we come from,” she admitted. “Though I have seen pictures. And that is what we came here to see, of course.”

“I am the best horseman in the northern provinces,” Cadell said. “Though it is immodest of me to say so. I hold the title of champion from last year when we met here to compete. Lord Rhys is the sword champion. Which is your Lord competing in?”

“I don’t…” Marle began. Then she felt Chrístõ’s telepathic answer. “He is a swordsman of repute in our own province,” she replied. “He will be challenging Lord Rhys.”

Lord Rhys gave Chrístõ a caustic look. Julia gave him a concerned one.

“Since when were you competing?” she asked him, “I thought we were here to watch.”

“I think it would do Lord Rhys good to have some real competition,” he answered. “I am a very good swordsman, you know.”

“I know you are, in practice,” she answered him. “I’ve seen you in the dojo. You’re good at that. But when was the last time you fought a real person?”

“It’s been a while, but once learnt, never forgotten.”

That wasn’t true, of course. He wasn’t sure he was up to championship standard. But it occurred to him that he needed to get a lot closer than he was so far to some of these Lords. One of them had to be Markoviz.

“Doesn’t have to be one of them,” Laurence said to him under a carefully constructed mental wall. “There are hundreds of people outside, the commoners. What if he’s one of them?”

“No,” Chrístõ said. “He’s a Time Lord. He wouldn’t hide out among the peasants. He would be an aristocrat. Believe me. I am a Time Lord. I know what we’re like. It would be beneath the dignity even of a Renegade to pretend to be a commoner.”

“You do,” Laurence answered. “You live on Beta Delta IV. You’re our teacher.”

“Teaching is an honourable profession on Gallifrey. In any case, I came to you as a refugee, not even sure if the aristocracy of my world existed any more. I might have been the last of my kind. It was a humbling experience. But… this man. He would not have fled Gallifrey to live as a peasant. He will have brought jewels, gold, enough to buy himself position. He might not even be new here as we are. He could have come here twenty or thirty years ago and be well established as a gentleman of Llamissa.”

“What if it is Lord Llamiss himself?” Pieter suggested. “Lord of all.”

“I don’t think it is him, either. But it could be just about any other man within this hall right now. It could be any of the Lords we are eating with now.”

“Can’t you find out?”

“I’ve tried. He will have put up strong mental walls. I will need to be in physical contact with him. That’s why… competing in the sword arena…”

“Be careful,” his two squires warned him. “Even if you don’t find your fugitive, you might be hurt in the arena.”

“I’ll be all right. Just you watch.”

After the sumptuous banquet, Lord Llamiss brought his guests out to the grandstand, lit now with lanterns, where they took their places. Or most of them did. Some went to make ready for the first jousting competitions. Chrístõ sat beside Julia and watched the pre-tournament entertainment. The ordinary people had eaten from the mobile food stalls and warmed themselves at braziers and now they gathered around the arena to watch jugglers and tumblers and fire eaters perform for them.

“I can do that,” Chrístõ said about the fire eaters.

“You can’t!” Julia replied, laughing.

“I can. I could show you.”

“Noblemen of Llamissa do not indulge in peasant entertainments,” Lord Rhys told him. “You would do better preparing yourself for the sword competition.”

There was a short demonstration of sword skills before the jousting began, and Chrístõ realised that Rhys was probably right. He was a good swordsman. But he was good with a foil and rapier in fencing, and with the light, quick Shaolin swords. But it must be fifty years since he last practiced with a broadsword. And he had never fought a real opponent with one.

And he had never done so in armour.

“I may have bitten off more than I can chew,” he said telepathically to Laurence and Pieter.

“What are you going to do?” they asked him.

“When the jousting begins, I’ll slip away.” He said. “I need to go to prepare anyway. “You two meet me at the arena when it’s time.”

He told Julia he had to get ready. She wished him luck and turned her attention to the magnificent horses and riders who prepared to joust with long, blunted lances. There was no equivalent in her modern age. Boxing or wrestling were the closest sports in which two men pitted their strength against each other, and those were nowhere near as fantastic as seeing two horses and riders charging towards each other, either side of the lists, lances shattering off each other’s armour in the attempt to unsaddle for a straight win or score enough hits to win on points.

Chrístõ slipped quietly away from the arena. As soon as he was clear of the crowds he folded time and ran almost unseen to the great gates. The Gates were closed and guarded, but he approached the sleepy and bored soldier confidently, making it clear to him that he was one of the Lord’s titled guests with legitimate business to conduct.

“I need to step outside the gates for a few minutes,” he said, looking into the eyes of the guard steadily. “You have no reason to detain me. Your Lord will be displeased if you do not open the postern for me.”

The guard nodded, his eyes slightly dazed and opened the postern door. Chrístõ slipped through and folded time again as he ran across the bridge and up the rise beyond it. The TARDIS was only a half a mile away. He could run that before the hypnotic influence wore off the guard and he wondered why the postern was unlatched.

“Hi, Humphrey,” he called out as he slipped through the quiet console and into his dojo. He looked at the row of swords and nodded with satisfaction. Usually they were the slim, long, light swords that he preferred to use. But today his need had been anticipated. He picked up a broadsword and tested the weight. It was very heavy and called for a different sort of swordsmanship than he preferred. But he did know what to do. He swung the sword experimentally a few times and then called up a practice hologram. He began with a simple warm up, then a more complicated sequence of fast, hard thrusts and parries. He was rather disturbed to find that he lost the first two matches. If he had been up against a real opponent, he might very well have lost a limb, or even his head. He checked himself and prepared to try again. Four, five more times he faced the hologram and held out for longer before he was beaten. The sixth time he won. He fine tuned the programme and tried again.

He had been fighting non-stop for four hours when he was satisfied he could meet a flesh and blood opponent and make a decent show of himself.

“Still need armour,” he told himself. He went to the wardrobe, knowing there would be something there for him. He was impressed. There was a full chain mail shirt and a breastplate lined with leather, gauntlets and a helmet and shield, too. He picked up the shield and looked at it. At first he thought it was plain. But then he saw the symbol of his House, the silvertrees of Lœngbærrow, etched into it. The image imprinted on the shield as soon as he touched it.

He brought the armour to the console room and checked the clock. Five hours of hard practice it had taken him. His muscles ached from the effort. But he knew he was ready. He reached for the temporal manifold and turned it manually back until ten minutes after he had left. He materialised the TARDIS beside the grandstand disguised as a closed sweetmeat seller.

He went back to his seat beside Julia. He could rest for a half hour or so and see how Lord Cadell was doing in the jousting.

He was doing very well, in fact. Julia, Marle and Angela were all cheering him on, though they all admitted it was only because Chrístõ wasn’t in that competition.

“I can ride, or I can fight,” he admitted. “I can’t do both at once. That’s not a skill they teach at the Prydonian Academy. But just you wait.”

He missed seeing Lord Cadell win the last of the heats. He had to go out then and get ready. His two squires met him in the practice arena. They helped him into his armour. It was lighter than the armour worn by most of the men who were competing. He had only a breastplate and helmet in plate metal. Most had articulated shoulder and arm protection, as well as the chain mail. But he knew the lighter armour gave him more manoeuvrability. It would be his advantage, as long as he avoided taking hits where he was exposed.

“You look good, Chrístõ,” Pieter told him. “Like something out of a holovid.”

“Do they still make holovids about this sort of thing?” he asked.

“They’ll make one about you if you win.”

“They’ll make one if you lose,” Laurence said. “Only it’ll be a tragedy, not a comedy. So come back alive, won’t you?”

“I’ll have to,” he answered. “Julia will kill me if I don’t.”

He laughed at his own slightly pathetic joke. Laurence and Pieter laughed with him. Then they walked from the practice arena to the edge of the main arena. The jousting was done for now. The jugglers performed again while the lists were moved aside and a space created for the sword fights. The names of the competitors were on pieces of parchment in a silver bowl, and Lord Llamiss picked two at random to go first. Chrístõ was slightly relieved that it wasn’t him and watched as Lord Aderyn and Lord Gwilim stepped forward. He watched them fight and noted that they were rather faster than his hologram programme had been. He would have to take that into account.

He was still reasonably confident, though, as he saw Lord Aderyn defeat Lord Gwilim by five clear hits to three. The two men bowed to each other and then left the arena as the names of de Leon and Idris were called. Chrístõ took a deep breath. He felt Laurence and Pieter touch him on the shoulder and wish him luck telepathically as he stepped forward. He turned beside Lord Idris and bowed to Lord Llamiss and his Lady. Then they stepped into position and bowed to each other. The next moment Chrístõ was defending himself desperately. The pace was much faster than he expected and the hologram did not reproduce the vibration that ran up his arm as his sword hit against his opponents, or the breathlessness when the broadsword hit against his breastplate and drove the air out of his lungs. His own efforts were easily parried by his opponent, and he was almost afraid that he would go down in a matter of minutes. Three hits in a row was enough for a win if he could not get one back.

For the honour of my House,” he told himself and rallied. He stopped Idris’s attack and responded with a lunge of his own that was declared a hit by the referees. He again defended himself and managed a second hit without conceding. He felt more sure now, and even though Idris got the next hit, another powerful blow that sent him reeling, he recovered enough to score an equalising hit straight away and he went on without another qualm or doubt to score two more. Idris conceded himself well and truly beat and bowed graciously to him. Chrístõ pulled off his gauntlet as they went off out of the arena and shook hands with his beaten opponent. Idris was surprised. That gesture of friendship was not known to him. But he did not object.

It certainly wasn’t Idris, Chrístõ told himself. And he was relieved. He really didn’t want it to be him. He felt in his hearts that Idris was a worthy man, who had fought him with honour and accepted his defeat gracefully.

That wasn’t the coward who sided with their bitterest enemy, and who stood by and let an innocent man die in agony.

Nor was it Lord Aderyn or Lord Gwilim. He felt both of them clap him on the back, and even though there was chain mail and an undershirt between their flesh and his he was still able to make a brief mental contact. From them he saw only good will towards him as they congratulated him on his success.

“You’ve never fought with a broadsword before, have you?” Aderyn asked. “Your technique… you learnt with lighter swords, I think?”

“Er….” He looked around as the last but one pair of swordsmen went up into the ring. Lord Rhys was fighting Lord Yorath.

“You’re perfectly right,” Lord Aderyn said. “Revealing any weakness in front of Rhys is a mistake. You fight well. You have stamina and agility. If you get through the heats, you might well prove a worthy challenger.”

“A novice against Rhys?” Gwilim looked doubtful as he turned to watch the fight that was going on in the arena now. Lord Yorath was having a very bad time of it. Chrístõ was far from an expert in broad sword fighting, especially in competition. But he could see that Rhys was a strong, powerful and fast competitor. Yorath was too slow for him and took two hits in quick succession. He managed to hold out for a little while, rallying slightly, but it was almost inevitable that Rhys was going to get his third hit and be declared the winner.

“I’m almost glad to have gone out in the first round,” Gwilim admitted. “I don’t think I want to meet him.”

Chrístõ wasn’t sure he wanted to meet him, either. But Lord Olwyn was beaten in another very fast match by Lord Meuric. That completed the first round and reduced the field to just four competitors. Chrístõ caught his breath as he waited for the names to be drawn and the shields placed . Lord Rhys’s shield with a rampant lion upon it was placed alongside Lord Meuric’s shield bearing a sword and helmet. Chrístõ’s Silvertrees were placed beside Lord Aderyn’s bird of prey symbol.

“Perhaps I shouldn’t have revealed so much about my inexperience to you,” he said to his opponent as they waited and watched Rhys and Meuric enter the arena and bow cursorily to each other. “I am now at a disadvantage.”

“I shall expect a fight of it, all the same,” Aderyn answered. “I know you have been watching the matches closely. I have no doubt you have learnt something from the mistakes of others.”

“And my own. Will one of us meet Rhys in the final match, I wonder?”

Lord Meuric put up a good fight. He matched Rhys hit for hit. Each had scored five against the other and it went to what was called ‘sudden death’. The next to score a hit was the winner.

Sudden death WAS a euphemism, of course. Nobody was supposed to get hurt. But the broadswords were still edged weapons and bloodshed was possible.

Nobody quite saw what happened. One moment Meuric was lunging forward, almost certain to score the winning hit. The next he was on the ground and Rhys’s sword had pierced him at the point where his shoulder armour was weakest. When he withdrew his sword there was blood on it.

Chrístõ blinked and looked at the scene thoughtfully. If he didn’t know better he would have sworn that a time fold had been used to gain advantage. The very thing he knew he would never do in a fair competition.

Rhys held up his sword triumphantly. It was, after all a hit. He had won the first of the semi-final matches. But he did not receive applause or cheers. Meuric lay bleeding. The audience was murmuring quietly, and an honourable man ought to have shown concern for his wounded opponent.

“Let me see,” Chrístõ said as he ran to the stricken man’s side. He pulled off Meuric's armour and ripped away the undershirt. The gash was wide and painful, but it could have been worse. It missed the major arteries. If the wound was dressed at once he would recover. He called for assistance. One of the heralds came to his side with a box that contained ointments and bandages. He attended to Meuric before a stretcher was brought to take him to the castle. He would be taken care of there.

“Are you ready to fight, Lord De Leon?” asked Lord Llamiss of him. “We shall continue the contest.”

“Yes,” he said. “Yes, I’m ready.” He looked around. Rhys was standing by the edge of the arena. He was scowling. He deeply resented not receiving the plaudits for winning his match. Instead, Meuric had the sympathy of the crowd. He was cheered and applauded as he was carried from the arena. And Chrístõ, when he stood and took up his sword had a fresh round of applause. A fighting knight who also showed mercy and charity to a wounded man was already the champion in the eyes of the crowd.,

“One of us will face Rhys in the final,” he said to Aderyn.


“May the best man win,” Chrístõ continued. “It…is a cliché where I come from. But let it be true this day.”

Was he the best man? Chrístõ wondered that as he and Aderyn made their formal bows to Lord Llamiss and to each other. The next moment the fight was on. He and Aderyn hardly knew each other. They had met only briefly in the practice arena, but he thought they had respect, even liking. That, however, counted for nothing now they were placed against each other in competition. Both fought fairly, and honourably, but they fought hard. Aderyn got the first hit. But Chrístõ came back quickly and his blow against Aderyn’s breastplate was declared a hit. They nodded to each other and Aderyn lunged forward. Chrístõ moved agilely and turned his defence into an attack, taking the lead in the points.

“Your training with lighter swords is not useless after all,” his opponent told him in a quiet voice. “I would not have expected such agility. But you will tire with a broadsword and such exertions.”

“I’m surprisingly resilient,” he answered. “This match could take a while, my friend.”

And it did. Chrístõ’s agility was a match for Aderyn’s skill and experience and for nearly twenty minutes neither scored against the other. Then Chrístõ got in another hit with the flat of his sword across Aderyn's breastplate and he came back to the fight with renewed vigour and lunged towards him. Chrístõ would have been able to defend himself, but at that moment he felt a flash of pain in his head as if something had stabbed at his mind. It distracted him for a fraction of a second and he let down his guard long enough for Aderyn to lunge at him. He felt the sword slice through his chainmail and into his upper arm. The referee declared it a hit, and it certainly was. Any part of the body below the neck and above the swordbelt was a fair hit. But Aderyn was horrified to have injured him.

“It is nothing,” Chrístõ assured him. “Your sword merely ripped my chain mail. I am slightly grazed, that is all.”

He had to say that. He could feel the wound beginning to mend already. He didn’t want anyone to know he was capable of repairing himself so easily. It would appear to be an unfair advantage in the competition, and he had wanted to fight Aderyn fairly. Besides, it would give away to whoever his quarry was that he was a Time Lord with regenerative properties.

In any case, he didn’t want to retire from the match. It was two all and both had the strength to carry on. Aderyn got his second wind in the few moments respite when he backed off fearing that he had injured him. Now they were ready to face each other again.

Chrístõ’s shoulder ached, it had to be said. Repairing deep wounds that bruised the bone and severed nerves was not something that happened easily. He would feel the after effects for a day at least, and it made it harder to hold a heavy sword steady. He forced himself to ignore the dull pain and make a good show of himself as he and Aderyn again matched each other well. The crowd were enjoying themselves. The other matches had been over too easily and too quickly. This was entertainment. There were cheers for Aderyn, a man known to the spectators. There were cheers for De Leon, the new man in town. Many of the cheers came from women who had seen him with his visor up and noted how handsome he was. The loudest cheers of all came from the three young women in the grandstand who knew that Chrístõ was more than just a pretty face.

“Chrístõ!” He heard one of their voices in his head. It was Marle, the strongest telepath of them all. “Chrístõ, I can feel somebody… a psychic mind. And it seems to be directed at you, as if it was trying to hurt you.”

“I know. It got through before. That’s why I slipped. I’m trying to hold it off, putting up barriers.”

“You can’t do that and fight a physical match, too. Let us help. We’ll hold him off.”

“Be careful,” he said. “If he gets too strong for you, stop. I don’t want you burning out your minds. And don’t let Julia get involved. Make her switch off her brooch. She’s not a real telepath. I don’t want her in a mental battle.”

Aderyn got in a hit while his mind was occupied. He blocked their voices so that he could give his full concentration to the match. It wasn’t important in the scale of things, of course. He could have conceded and let Aderyn fight Rhys in the final. But something made him want to win. He had so rarely lost any competition he had been in. He fought hard to be the Prydonian champion in martial arts, in fencing. The Lacrosse team he was captain of beat the other academies. It was a matter of honour with him. He didn‘t want to lose this match.

And he didn’t. With his friends holding off the psychic mind that was interfering with his concentration he was able to score two more points in quick succession. Then Aderyn fought and held him for another ten minutes before he managed one last blow against his opponent’s body and it was over.

They were exhausted. They tried to bow to each other but found the weight of their helmets too much. They knelt, facing each other, supported by their swords. The cheering crowds deafened them.

“That was a good fight, my friend,” Aderyn said. “You learnt well. Youth and agility wore down experience. I concede to you the right to contest the championship.”

“We both learnt from the experience,” Chrístõ said as he rose and waited until Aderyn got to his feet, too. They both faced the grandstand and bowed. Then as one they turned and bowed to the crowd as well. They turned again as Lord Llamiss rose and called for silence.

“We have a noble and fitting contender to meet the champion in the sword arena. But this match went on so long. It would be unfair to expect him to compete again straight away. We will see the final of the jousting championships while our sword contender rests and takes food and wine.

“I… think I could carry on,” Chrístõ began to say. But the Lord of Caer Lamissa had spoken. It was decided. He saw Laurence and Pieter come forward to help him remove his helmet and put a leather jerkin over his chain mail against the cold. They brought him back to the grandstand. Julia was almost exploding with excitement, pride and apprehension as he came to sit beside her. He took off his gauntlets and slipped his hand into hers. His hands actually felt sore from holding the sword and shield for so long, but the softness of her touch was refreshing.

“Are you all right?” she asked him. “What’s happening? The others made me turn off my brooch. I didn’t know what was going on.”

“He’s stopped attacking now,” Marle told him telepathically. “She can talk to us again.”

“Yes, all right,” he conceded. “But if there is any danger of a fresh attack Julia must be taken out of the equation again.”

“Who was attacking you?” Julia asked as she joined in the telepathic conversation while at the same time paying close attention to Lord Cadell’s bold efforts in the jousting arena. “What’s happening?”

He quickly told the three girls about Markoviz. They were indignant that he had told Laurence and Pieter and not them and called him a few choice names for his chauvinism. He admitted the charge and apologised.

“So, do you know who it was?” Julia asked.

“Yes, I do,” he answered. “And he knows me.”

“Who is it?” they all asked.

“You’ll know soon enough,” he answered. “This will be finished tonight.”

“Are you going on with the tournament?” Julia asked him. “You look tired.”

“I’m all right,” he answered. “I’m a Time Lord. I have stamina.”

“I hope Lord Cadell’s opponent keeps going for a bit longer, all the same,” Julia said. “You’ll get a bit more rest before you have to go on again.” She touched his shoulder and noticed the rip in his chain mail. “Take care, won’t you? I know your body can mend. But… only if it’s whole. Rhys… look at him. He’s about ready to hack you to pieces to win the competition. He resents being pitted against you. And the fact that you’re everyone’s favourite, now.”

“I’m all right,” he assured her. “I really am. But… since you’re my lady… do you have a favour for me to wear? A token of your love? That’s traditional.”

She laughed and then unfastened the brocade tie belt from her gown. She wound it about his arm over the place where the chain mail was ripped. Marle and Angela looked at him and then took their belts off, too. They, too, wound their favours around his arm. Julia smiled and reached to kiss him.

“That’s my special favour to you,” she said. The other two girls conceded her that right.

Lord Cadell won the joust and was presented to Lord Llamiss, who rewarded him with a gold trophy. Then the jugglers performed while the arena was again made ready for the sword and Chrístõ and Lord Rhys prepared for the final. In Chrístõ’s case, that meant simply donning his helmet and gauntlet and making his way to the arena with his two squires by his side. Rhys was seen in the practice arena attacking a straw dummy with ferocious intent.

“He could kill you, Chrístõ,” Laurence said. “Is it worth it, for a trophy you don’t even need?”

“It’s worth it,” Chrístõ answered. “Besides, I’m not fighting for a trophy. I’m… I’m fighting for the Captain of the Arcalian Lacrosse Team.”

Pieter and Laurence didn’t know what he meant by that. He wasn’t ready to explain it.

“God luck,” they both said as he stepped forward into the ring. They stood aside as Lord Rhys passed them with a surly and derisory look.

“Did you feel that?” Laurence asked. “The psychic attack. Somebody is trying to hurt Chrístõ again. We need to…”

“We’re on it,” He felt his sister’s telepathic voice and the four of them concentrated hard to protect their teacher and friend from unfair attack as he prepared to fight.

“Who is it?” Marle asked. “I can’t pinpoint him, It’s as if the psychic energy is coming from behind a mask.”

“Just hold on,” Pieter said. “At least until Chrístõ has won the match.”

Chrístõ didn’t look as if he was going to win any time soon. As soon as a cursory bow had been exchanged Rhys attacked and he defended himself valiantly. He felt the power of the champion’s sword arm in his own muscles as the sword came down on his own. There was no hit, though. He deflected the blow.

His own thrust might well have made contact with Rhys if he hadn’t swung his shield arm and hit him in the stomach. The illegal move was subtle and it went unnoticed by the referee, though the crowd obviously knew something was wrong. Chrístõ groaned and mistimed his step. He stumbled backwards as Rhys’s sword came up and made contact with his shoulder.

“I know who you are,” Chrístõ said as he pressed his own advantage and managed to just brush Rhys’s breastplate long enough to be awarded a point. They were equal again. “Markoviz…. Traitor.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Rhys answered him. “I know nobody called Markoviz.”

“I think you’re telling the truth,” Chrístõ answered. “But nevertheless, you ARE Markoviz. They said you had regenerated. They didn’t say you used your chameleon arch to change your whole identity. You haven’t improved. Still a coward and a bully.”

“I am Lord Rhys of Caeroddya,” he said. “And you are an upstart who will be taught what it is to lie on your back in the mud and look up at a true champion.”

Chrístõ was on the point of responding when he felt his friends all cry out telepathically. A psychic blow stronger than he could have expected any of them to withstand made them all withdraw. He felt the tail end of it himself and winced. He knew he was on his own now. He couldn’t ask them to help him further. He steeled himself against the mental as well as the physical blows and held off Rhys’s challenge for several minutes while he gathered his own thoughts about the matter.

Rhys was the persona the chameleon arch had created. He didn’t know he was really Markoviz. But when he was angry, or jealous, he had a latent ability to direct psychic energy. That was what had attacked him while he was fighting Aderyn. Rhys had seen that he was an opponent capable of challenging him and had subconsciously tried to eliminate him. Now, all the mental power was directed towards him. So was his physical strength. Chrístõ defended himself against both and looked for a way to press an attack.

Despite his youth, despite his inexperience before this night, Chrístõ was good. As Aderyn had said, he had learnt quickly, from observing the others, and from fighting his own corner in the heats. He was better than Rhys. He blocked the psychic attack and lunged forward to claim a hit against him. That made it two to one. Another hit would be enough to win the match as long as he didn’t take another himself. He moved quickly and avoided Rhys’s lunge and turned it to his advantage. His arm ached as the flat of his sword clanged against Rhys’s breastplate. He heard the referee declare it a hit and proclaim the match over.

He stepped back. Rhys didn’t. Chrístõ saw his rage at being beaten and got ready to defend himself against a murderous attack with the blade of the sword aimed at his neck. He raised his shield and at the same time brought his own sword down on the gauntleted sword arm of his opponent. He heard a metallic sound as the edge went through the metal of the gauntlet sleeve, then a more visceral noise at it cut through flesh and bone. Almost in slow motion he saw the severed hand fall away, the sword dropping to the ground with a clatter a few moments before.

Then he saw something else happen. From the severed wrist, instead of blood, Artron energy poured, enveloping Rhys‘s body. He screamed with pain and confusion as he was engulfed. Chrístõ bent and picked up the gauntlet and examined the severed hand inside it. There was a ring on the index finger. It was gold with a red jewel set into it. Close up, Chrístõ could see the engravings on it that told him this was a ring forged on Gallifrey. It was the key to Markoviz’s chameleon disguise. When the hand was severed from the body, it failed. Lord Rhys’s personality was being stripped away now, and as the glow faded from around him, Chrístõ looked into the eyes of a Gallifreyan traitor.

He raised his sword and pointed it towards the traitor’s neck.

“In the name of Rassilon, you are under arrest,” he said in a commanding voice. “Kneel before me with your hands upon your head.”

The traitor had two good hands to do that with, Chrístõ noted. The restoration of his Gallifreyan persona had also restored his body. But Markoviz was just what Chrístõ had called him before. A coward. And Chrístõ’s sword was not the only one pointed at him. Everyone had seen his attack after the match had been declared won. Aderyn and Idris both stayed him with their own weapons. Chrístõ felt the presence of Laurence and Pieter, unarmed, but determined to stand by his side.

Then Lord Llamiss was there, demanding to know what was happening.

“Lord Rhys… is an impostor and a criminal who is wanted in my province,” Chrístõ said. “He revealed himself by his cowardly and unchivalrous act. If you please… have him removed to your own dungeon. I will explain myself fully to you in the privacy of your council chamber and tomorrow I will make arrangements for the removal of the miscreant to stand the trial he has evaded.”

Lord Llamiss nodded and Idris and Aderyn took him away. Then Llamiss nodded to his herald who declared Lord De Leon champion of the sword.

“Come and be presented with your prize,” Llamiss said to him. “The crowd want to acclaim you. Afterwards we will deal with other matters.”

Chrístõ nodded and went up to be presented with his trophy. By that time, it was too much for the women of his party. Julia had broken ranks and run to his side. Marle and Angela came, too. He held onto Julia and let the others surround him as he held his trophy aloft and received the cheers of the crowd.


Later, he explained everything to Lord Llamiss. He told of the war and the traitorous behaviour of a few men, including the one who pretended to be Lord Rhys. Llamiss was appalled.

“I am ashamed to have given hospitality to one such as he for so long. I can have him beheaded at dawn, or hung from the battlements if you prefer. Let his carcass be carrion for the birds of Llamissa.”

“That would be too easy a death for one such as he,” Chrístõ answered. “Besides, he must go back to my own people and be tried before them. Justice must be seen to be done. And it will be.”

And it was. In the morning, Chrístõ contacted Hext, and within an hour agents arrived to collect the criminal. Chrístõ watched them take him. He knew that Markoviz was destined for a cell in The Tower. He knew that painful methods like the notorious mind probe would be used to extract his confession from him. Ordinarily, he wouldn’t approve of those methods. He was appalled by the atomisation chamber that was the inevitable end of Markoviz. He opposed the death penalty and hated its implementation.

But he wasn’t sure he would be sorry this time.

“For the Arcalian Lacrosse Captain,” he whispered as he watched the Gallifreyan prison ship dematerialise.

“I still don’t know what you mean by that,” Laurence Benning said to him.

“Doesn’t matter,” he answered. “Come on. It’s a beautiful day and Lord Llamiss asked us to go riding with him and his lady. Our ladies are falling over themselves with the thought of a morning in a side saddle with their arms around our waists.

“Sounds like a good way to ride a horse, to me,” Laurence answered with a smile. Pieter agreed.