The next day, the Count arrived.
Count Corran walked with a pompous air, his nose always held a centimeter above everyone else, and his wife, the poor Countess Mira, dragging behind. Count Corran was not ugly-but it would be far from the truth to call him beautiful. His superior attitude was apparent to anyone who viewed him.
It was rumoured that the Queen was not one of his many adoring fans, and neither was the King. However, the people of the court had dealt with his attitude long enough to know that they didn't like the look of him.
He came from a long line of wizards, but they all had a simliar downfall:
They were strong when it came to powers of the mind, but physical powers, eh...
Let's just say that that wasn't their strongest point. In magic and....elsewhere.
Anyways, he came to the castle muttering about how he'd been working for weeks to have his vanishing and reappearing work, and It didn't--
He and Lady Mira had ended up, strangely enough, in a large field, surrounded by cattle, with their carriage and servants nowhere in sight.
And so they had walked, finally finding the carriage and servants on the side of the road, about 3 miles away.
Poor Lady Mira, many in the Court said. How dreadful for such a lady to end up with him.
So, Count Corran was ill, Poor Lady Mira was sick of her husband, and Gabriella was fearing that the Count still wanted her.
At his arrival, the Queen gestured for several of her acquaintances to go with her into the next room, therefore leaving the King of Tawg to deal with the Count.
"Corran!" He said with a small, slightly forced smile. "What a surprise it is to see you here. I did not think you would be coming."
Corran made a small tsk-ing noise. "Of course I'd come! Ah, yes. And here comes the lovely reason I had for coming here. Gabriella, what a fine young woman you are turning out to be."
Gabriella froze. She'd been looking for Hobbie, but she evidently wouldn't find him here.
King Wedge gave her a reassuring look, then gazed sternly back at the Count. "Whatever do you think you're doing, Horn? I believe that you already have a wife."
Corran walked closer to Gabriella. "That witch? Ha. You must know, as well as I do, that I only wanted to lay with her once, and she forced marriage upon me. How horrible, indeed. But Gabriella here, oh, I would want to do much more with her..."
His hand traced along her jaw. She looked up at him, her eyes cold and defiant. The door opened, and a draft blew into the room. The Knights of Wraith stumbled in upon the scene, and Hobbie with them.
Hobbie stepped over to where they stood, his gaze radiating with anger.
"So," he began, his voice showing exactly what he felt for this man, "You're that piece of slime known as Count Corran."
Corran bowed gracefully, his smirk evident as he came back up. "Ah, but I see the little wench has been telling nasty lies about me again. But I'll see about teaching her better later."
"You won't be teaching her at all." came another sharp voice. "Get your hands off of her now before I do you a favor and cut it off." Sir Wes walked up to Count Corran, his gaze deadly.
"Ah, yes." the Count said, his gaze roaming back to Gabriella. "I see your cousin, Dearest, wants to protect you. How noble of him. But, you see, I have every right to have my way with you." he said, his voice sly and soft.
He then spoke in a much louder voice, making it clear to all.
"I hearby claim Gabriella Treton of the house of Jasson as mine. She is claimed by me, therefore evermore owned by me."
Hobbie's eyes widened in shock. "I object!" he yelled, and was shocked when Count Corran laughed at him.
Wes leaned close to him. "Challenge him for Gabriella," he whispered. "It's your only chance."
"I challenge you for Gabriella Treton of the house of Jasson!" he said. Loud gasps were heard from around the room. The Queen, the Duchessa and several others had come back into the room and heard the claiming. Now, all eyes were on the Lady of the Manor.
"I give consent for these two to joust at a tourney for Gabriella."
"I object to that!" Count Corran squealed. "He's not a man of noble blood! Peasants aren't allowed to compete with noblemen for a lady!"
"Enough!" came the yell from the Queen. "I authorize this duel for the Lady. May the best man win!"
That caused cheers from all corners of the room. Gabriella had tears in her eyes when the Duchessa, the Queen, and Fair Maiden Antigone escorted her up the stairs.
Later that night, Katrielle snuck Hobbie up to her rooms so that they could be together. She informed him that she would be staying with Sir Gavin, and she wanted him to look after Gabriella.
He'd agreed in a heartbeat, and Katrielle had left with Sir Gavin, with a single wink and a smile at Hobbie.
Gabriella lay on a small couch-like piece of furniture by the fire, wrapped up in a blanket.
Hobbie sat beside her, watching as her eyes reflected the fire's light, and her hand gripped his tightly.
"Hobbie," she finally said, gazing up at him. "You should not have challenged him like that."
"Pshaw." He said, running fingers through her hair. "Do you really think I'd let that slimeball get you?"
She sat up at that, her face worried. "Hobbie, you don't understand! The Count's not a fair fighter!"
"What do you mean?" He asked, suddenly suspicious.
"Look, he has a little bit of magic that he can use. He messes with your mind, Hobbie. He doesn't fight fair at all-that's why nobody challenges him." Her eyes leaked a few tears now, her hands feebly wiping at them.
It was then that he noticed that her face was tear-streaked-that her eyes were tired and weary.
"Gabby," he said, as he pulled her into his arms. "I'll be fine--trust me. I'll get it to be a fair fight-I promise You'll see, Gabby. Everything will work out just fine, hon."
She cried onto his shoulder, her body tense and her eyes frightened. "What would I do if you hadn't come, Hobbie?" He shushed her and held her close.
"Hobbie?" she said, her voice slightly muffled by his shoulder. She eased away from him, and laid back on the couch, pulling him with her.
She kissed him gently, and then said the words to him that he'd hoped that she'd say to him.
"I love you, Hobbie. I don't know who you are, or where you came from, or anything, but I love you." He grinned like an idiot and kissed her hard, but she pulled back from him.
"And all I want right now, Hobbie, is to be with you."
He felt like all the oxygen had fled from his lungs. Like there was nothing in the universe except for her, and he wanted her.
Hobbie kissed her lips gently, then pulled back and nodded.
She crawled out from under his comforting weight and led him into the spare bedroom of the Duchessa's quarters.
Once the door was closed, things started happening in a blur. Their clothes were shed-and hers were slightly torn- in the rush to be together as soon as possible.
She wrapped her arms around his neck and squealed in delight as he picked her up and she put her legs around his waist. Their lips met and thier tongues intertwined as he led her to the large, comfortable looking bed.
Gabriella could tell, just by the look in his eyes, that he had no intention of stopping. He lowered her to the mattress, then proceeded to nibble a path down her throat, causing her to shiver in delight.
Hobbie looked up at her, his gaze intense. Then, his lips fastened to a nipple, teasing and making her writhe and groan in perfect agony. He continued his ministrations on the right, her reactions spuring him on.
Finally he slipped down, past her belly button, which he teased for a moment, then proceeded to make her yell with a pleasure she'd never before known. Her fingers tangled in his hair, loving every minute of it, and then she fell over an edge of bliss.
When she opened her eyes, he was looking down at her, kissing her face gently. "Oh, Hobbie," she breathed. "That was amazing."
He grinned and kissed her lips. "Can we do it again?" she asked, a mischevious grin on her face. He laughed aloud for a moment, then pulled her close to him. "Maybe later," he murmurred. &quto;But now, it just might get even better."
"Better?"she breathed. "Oh, this I have to see." But his face looked worried for a moment, and she stroked his cheek.
"What is it, Hobbie? What's wrong? Did I do something wrong?"
"Oh, no, no. Of course not. It's just that..."
He sighed gently, then ran his fingers over her cheek. "It may hurt, love. Just relax, and the pain will be over soon, I promise."
At her solemn nod, he kissed her, then gently pressed himself against her folds, watching her gasp as she wrapped his fingers around him.
Hobbie looked as if he was concentrating hard, and that her stroking wasn't helping matters. She reached up and placed her arms around his neck again, surprised by the dark blue that his eyes had become.
"Just hold on," he begged. "It might hurt some, but It'll be over soon, I promise."
At first, it was mildly painful. She shrugged it off, and gasped when he thrust deeper and she felt something tear. But then he kissed her,and it was as if there had never been any pain.
Gradually, she felt the pained feeling wear off and a new and even greater feeling enveloped her. Hobbie was beautiful, thrusting into her gently, kissing her, making sure she felt pleasure, always.
Gabriella felt his thrusts began to come faster, and it felt as if the pleasure level kept on climbing to new heights, when all of a sudden, she felt waves of ecstasy, and then a moment of ultimate pleasure. She heard him call her name before spilling himself inside of her and collapsing onto her.
Too soon, it was over and Hobbie lay on top of her, his own breathing ragged. He looked up at her and grinned, and she trailed a finger over his jaw.
"Hobbie," she said, her voice barely above a whisper. "You were right. That was even better."
He smiled and rolled gently off of her, cradling her in his arms. She sighed and laid her head on his chest, feeling, at last, completely content.
A few minutes later, he looked back down at her. She was sound asleep, her hair fanned out around her face, a pleased smile on her lips. He kissed her forehead gently, then enveloped them both in warm sheets.
A gentle shake on his shoulder awoke him, and he gazed up, sleepily, to see the Duchessa smiling.
"What time is it?" He asked, yawning hugely. "It's almost sunrise, Mr. Klivian, " she said, smirking gently. "I see you two have been busy."
He saw Gabriella, whose eyes were barely open, blush, and he himself turned a little scarlet. "Nah, it's alright. It's what I thought should happen. Now, you need to go before Count Corran finds out about this and makes trouble."
Hobbie looked longingly back down at Gabriella. She squeezed his hand gently, and nodded. "Katrielle's right. He'd make the situation worse."
Kat snorted. "Oh, but he's good at doing that."
Then, seeing the intimate look pass between the two, she decided to leave them alone. Gavin peeked his head through the door, throwing her a small smile. She looked at the two of them meaningfully, then closed the door, and headed back to her own quarters.
Gabriella sighed. "I don't want you to go and face him, Hobbie."
"But I have to, Gabby." She smiled at the nickname. Then, she frowned slightly as he sat up and started to pull on his clothes.
He looked over at her,and saw her unhappy gaze. "I have to go, Gabriella. You heard what she said."
She nodded,and looked up at him. He finished dressing quickly, and pulled on his boots. Hobbie sat by her for a moment longer, wishing momentarily that he could stay and be with her once more.
"I'll be careful, Gabby. Don't worry about me. "
Gabriella surprised him by pulling him onto the bed for another kiss. Then, she crossed his fingers and kissed them gently, "For luck," she said. that, he strode out of the room, looking back at her once, then went to go and face the day ahead.
Hobbie looked around at all of the occupants of the castle gathered to see the duel. Gabriella stood with the Duchessa, who was telling her reassuring thoughts. Gabby looked pale, he thought, as he gazed up at her. He crossed his fingers, as she'd done earlier, and she nodded gently.
He looked down at his outfit. The Duchessa certainly liked glittery materials, he thought to himself. His jousting uniform was sparkly blue and glittery purple, and glitter was spread on his armor. Sorceress Glim, who had helped him prepare, had called him a "very pretty boy". Then, of course, she had snerked and went over to confer with Wizard Luke.
Hobbie was sure he'd done the right thing, when he saw Count Corran scowl at Glim and Luke. His jousting attire was much more amusing than Hobbie's, however. It was red and lime green plaid, and he looked simply....ugly in it. Even King Wedge was having a hard time trying to contain his laughter.
Finally, Corran mounted Whistler, and Hobbie got onto Ferdinand. He checked over his equipment one last time, and watched as King Wedge announced the match and the lovely prize, which was a slightly quivering Gabriella.
When the King announced that the duel would now begin, there was a roar from the audience. Hobbie looked over at Luke, who nodded at him. Corran, a mean glaze in his eye, lowered his faceplate. Klivian lowered his as well, looking at Gabriella one last time.
He lowered his faceplate and gathered his reins.
He only hoped that the Force would be with him now.
At the sound of the trumpet, the horses surged forward. They collided hard- Hobbie hitting Corran just below his neck, and Corran's stick running noisily into Hobbie's armor.
They both jumped off their horses, and had their swords at the ready. Corran struck first, but Hobbie parried it back, and struck back at Corran.
They continued on swordfighting for some time, but then Hobbie heard Gabriella scream his name and he looked up at her, immediately worried. But when he looked up, she was exactly where she'd been before, and she didn't look like she was screaming at all...
Count Corran swung at Hobbie while he looked back up at Gabriella, but then felt himself being pushed back by an unseen force--hard. He looked accusatorily over at Luke, and the Wizard returned his gaze, obviously not amused with the Count's misuse of Magic.
But Hobbie was angry at the Count for trying to use his Magic unfairly. He struck back harder and harder again, until he finally managed to fling the sword out of the Count's hand. Hobbie circled him, debating. He looked up at the King, who stood up and spoke.
"Count Corran--It is your choice. You may concede or be killed by Mr. Klivian. It is your choice, Count. Choose Wisely."
Corran looked up at Hobbie, anger seething in his eyes. "I concede to you," he finally choked out between gritted teeth. The crowd cheered, and the Duchessa hugged Gabriella, who smiled happily for the first time since that morning.
Hobbie nodded and turned to speak with Sir Wes, of the Knights of Wraith. However, Count Corran had other ideas.
He went for a last-ditch effort and swung at his back. Before his blade could make impact, though, he was pushed to the ground by the Wizard and Sorceress' combined powers.
"You shouldn't have done that, Horn," he heard the Wizard Luke say. "Now everyone has seen it, and you'll be going to the dungeons for a very, very long time."
Several burly-looking men carried him off, and then Hobbie finally saw her.
She smiled and ran into his arms, not caring if everyone else was watching the emotional display. He kissed her thoroughly, causing many whistles from their appreciative audience. He twirled her around, and smiled as he heard her laugh with glee,and kissed her again.
Continued in Part Four