Klane Kalonia and the Great Burning (26) by DMFW ()
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Verindu declared the format of the day’s competition. Rather than the series of short races which Klane had been expecting there was to be one extended cross country marathon. The Master Of The Flame sketched out a map in the dirt and explained that all Riders would need to pass a series of marked checkpoints where marshals were waiting to confirm their passage. There was no set route. Riders could make their way between the fixed points however they liked and were expected to return to Ironhope in about four hours.
The winner (once their correct registration at each checkpoint had been confirmed) would be awarded two whole icosahedrons worth forty faces in total, with an icosahedron and dodecahedron for second place worth thirty two faces and a single icosahedron for the Rider placed third. These were higher value awards than anything given out in yesterday’s athletics events.
There was time for a brief conversation with Gillan before the race started. The blacksmith looked thoughtful when he saw the layout of the checkpoints and he gave Klane some useful advice based on his local knowledge of the surrounding lands.
It was crowded to begin with. As many as thirty horses jostled for position, waiting on the signal to begin the race. At first it was just a question of avoiding collisions and finding space through the narrow defile that led in the direction of the first checkpoint. Inevitably, the Riders began to separate. A wide grassy slope took them down to the beach and an exercise in early pace as a breakaway group of seven horses galloped over the damp but firm sands uncovered by the retreating tide. It was ideal ground for speed and the horses relished the opportunity to run hard. At one point, Lyr carried Klane into fourth place, and he let the stallion power ahead on instinct for a little while. But by the time they left the beach, Klane had eased his horse down to a trot with soft words, content to slide back down the field. The race would be unlikely to go to the swiftest to reach the first checkpoint. Endurance and marshaling of energy was as important as raw speed. Cunning would play a part too.