Nydiva and Jackie slunk past the surveillance cameras outside the chancellor’s mansion and began hoisting each other up through the parlor window. [There wasn’t really a proper parlor, but the chancellors called it that to disguise the fact that they had a rec room with a wet bar and a pool table, so that the students would hear “parlor” and immediately think “boring,” and not ask to come in and use the facility.]
“What are you doing?” asked Keleos, and with a start, Jackie hoisted Nydiva too high so that she fell with a loud THUNK inside the window. Muffled cursing could be heard from inside.
“Nothin,” said Jackie innocently. After a moment of torturous silence in which Keleos bent her will by, you know, staring at her, Jackie broke. “Okay, fine. The only chancellor left is ax, and I can take care of him.” She held up her staff. “We want to use the parlor. We’ve got a hot date tonight with a couple of guys from the village.”
“Lumberjacks,” Nydiva said, poking her head out. “Burly. Muscly. Yummy.”
“How do you know about the parlor?” Keleos asked as Daemon came up.
“We’re Vice Chancellors. We’re privy to this information,” Nydiva said loftily.
“You mean you were spying,” said Daemon.
“Same difference,” Jackie stated. “Are you going to give me a boost or are you going to stand there and bother me some more?”
“Who’s bothering you?” asked Castalia, who had heard some commotion and came to check it out.
“You are!” said Jackie. “Bug off, people!”
“Well, somebody’s got pepper in her undies.”
“What were you doing, spying on us?” Nydiva demanded.
“Yeah,” said Cas unapologetically. “So what?”
“Okay, I have everything, boss,” said Mania, running up to Jackie with a few boxes in her arms. “Wow, we got the party started early.”
“Mania, would you please disperse this crowd,” said Jackie.
“You got it.” She pulled a lighter from her pocket and a can of gasoline from a box.
“Wait a minute! I didn’t mean like that. And why did you bring gasoline for our date?”
“Why wouldn’t I? You wanted a good time. There’s never a good time without fire.”
“Your assistant is nuts,” Daemon noted.
“Yeah, well, she’s very organized and meticulous, and that’s hard to find in an assistant, so you take the crazy bits in stride. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, you know?”
All of a sudden there was a loud sound of neighing, and they all looked around expecting to see a horse. What they saw was a tornado that enveloped them without moving them at all, and then disappeared just as quickly. They all stood in a perfectly groomed grass arena surrounded by a white post fence. Several hurdles, bushes and small puddles of water dotted the lawn.
“I like the outfits,” said Nydiva, admiring her leather gloves and coat with black velvet trim.
Several dark Things came up behind them and grabbed them, dragging them off to separate points in the arena. Keleos and Daemon were placed on the ground with an extensive hurdle set-up. Castalia and Mania were tied to the top of a shrubbery. Nydiva and Jackie were set on two very large black horses. A bell rang, and the horses took off through the obstacle course.
“I can’t control them,” Jackie said. “Oh, if only they hadn’t taken my staff!”
The horses trotted through the course, and they soon approached the bush where Castalia and Mania lay. The horses leaped over it, but their back hooves dropped and smacked into the girls. They began to topple over.
“Oh look,” said Castalia as they began their fall. “It’s going to be all right, there’s just water there.”
“With spikes,” said Mania. “Those are top-grade, I’ve seen them in the Torturer Weekly.” Sure enough, sharp metal spikes shimmered at the bottom of the water. They finally tipped and splashed into the water, which turned red as the points plunged through their bodies.
The horses went on, and their riders were getting horse-sick. “Ew, did you see that?”
“Nevermind them. We’ve got more trouble ahead.”
They approached the massive, intricate hurdle that consisted of several posts and puddles. Keleos and Daemon lay at the end head to head, forming a single line. It was so long that they all wondered if the horses could possibly clear it. It was like an equine Evel Knievel event. The girls held on tightly, closing their eyes as they felt the horses’ muscles bunch up and prepare to jump. There was a moment of weightlessness as they soared through the air.
“They’re not going to make it,” Daemon predicted.
“Well duh,” Keleos retorted, just as the horses’ massive hooves came down heavily upon them and ground their midsections into the grass.
“I’m gonna barf!” said Nydiva.
“Shut up, I think we made it, there aren’t any more obstacles.”
The crowd cheered and the horses reared up to accept the accolades. Jackie and Nydiva lost their balance and their grips on the saddles, but did not fall completely, as they had become entangled in the stirrups and straps. The horses took a victory lap with the two Debs dragging behind, and as the majestic beasts leapt over one more hurdle just to show off, the wooden post caught the girls hard on their heads and smashed them open like pumpkins.