August 2022 Newsletter
Vic shook his head, unable to believe this was happening. “Do you have any idea how insane this is?”
Livy put on another helmet but it was so large it spun around her head like a top. “You can keep saying it, but it doesn’t change anything.”
“Are you trying to get killed? Are you suicidal?”
“As long as I protect my head…I should be fine.”
“Should be…you should be fine. That’s great, Livy.”
“I need to do this.”
“Why? Why would anyone in their right mind need to do this?”
All the bears preparing for the joust stopped putting on their armor and focused on Vic. He stared back. “Yeah,” he challenged. “That includes you people.”
“I learned this in the court-ordered anger management class I took. About how to work off your aggression. Yoga, running, boxing, Krav Maga, Muy Thai…nothing helps. But I’ve never tried jousting before. So I’m going to try jousting.”
“But you’re going up against bears, Livy.” He pointed across the tent they were in. “I mean look at that guy over there.”
The eight-foot polar realized that Vic was talking about him. “Hey! What are you pointing me out for? Like I’m some kind of freak? That just hurts my feelings, man!”
“Oh, suck it up,” Vic growled.
“Your feline is showing,” Livy warned.
“Because you’re not being rational and there’s an eight-foot, 400-pound whiny baby over there begging me to claw the holy shit out of him.”
“You are rude!” the polar complained.
Vic was about to go over there and show the idiot how rude he could be when Livy caught his arm.
“Don’t beat him up because I’m pissing you off.”
“Who says he can beat me up?” the polar demanded.
“I could beat you up,” Livy shot back. And when the polar just stared at her, she asked, “Want me to prove it?”
The polar thought on that a moment before he stalked out of the tent.
“Help me find a helmet,” she ordered Vic.
Sighing, he walked over to a row of helmets. “I don’t know why you’re doing this,” he said. He grabbed one of the helmets. “I know you’re upset and I know when you’re ready, you’ll tell me why. But doing something this stupid–” He placed the helmet on her head. It fit perfectly.
She lifted the visor, grinned. “How do I look?”
“Like you’re welcoming death.”
“Your faith in me is heartening.”
“Can’t we just go and sit in the audience and mock people dressed in clothes from another century? You know…like normal shifters do?”
“Most times I’d say yes, but I need to do this. And if I survive, you’ll be really proud of me.”
“And if you don’t?”
“Have me cremated and tell my family I left town. They don’t deserve anything better than that.”
“What about Toni?”
Livy blew out a breath and shook her head. “Yeah, she’ll figure things out on her own and then…yeah, you’re dead.”
“Again…why is this coming down on me?”
Livy shrugged, picked up her sheathed sword and walked out.
“Hey,” a sloth bear said from behind Vic, “don’t you play hockey?”
“No I do not!” Vic roared.
“Wow,” the sloth bear said, backing away from him. “You are one bitchy hybrid.”
Livy stared up at the horse one of the faire employees held for her. She glanced over and said, “You can’t be serious.”
“These are horses bred for two things. Handling the weight of big guys in armor…and not panicking at the scent of shifters. Helping some tiny feminist trying to prove something was not on our list of things to accomplish during the breeding process,” he finished.
Livy looked under the horse and asked, “Huh. What’s this? It looks bad.”
The faire employee bent down to see what Livy was looking at and that’s when she rammed the pummel of her sword into the employee’s tibia. She heard something snap and he went down with a roar onto one knee. Before he could fall back, Livy climbed onto his shoulders and mounted the horse that was way too big for her.
She looked down at the now-sobbing bear. “Thanks for the help.”
Vic walked into the prep area and stopped when he saw her.
“Have you ever ridden a horse?” he asked.
“No. There were horses at the private school I went to. Riding lessons were mandatory and were part of our gym grade, but every time I got close to them, the horses tried to stomp me into the ground. Eventually, I had to be excused.”
“But now you’re going to ride one that’s too big for you so that you can…joust?”
“That’s the plan.” Someone put a lance in her hand. It was heavy and too long, but Livy held onto it. “How do I look?” she asked again.
“If you’re going to be negative…”
Livy moved around in the saddle.
“What?” Vic asked.
“I wish I didn’t have to wear this armor. It’s making my skin itch.”
“Take that armor off, female, and still try to joust, and I’ll beat you to death myself.”
Livy nodded. “Subtle.”
“I’m not subtle. Never said I was subtle. Worried you’re about to do something stupid? Yes. That is accurate.”
“Honey badger’s up!” someone called out.
“I’m up.” Livy stared at the back of the horse’s head. “You can go now,” she told the beast.
Vic dropped his head into his hands.
Chuckling, she tapped the sides of the horse’s flanks with her heels and rode to the field. True, she might not have ridden the horses at her fancy private school, but that didn’t mean the gym teacher wasn’t a bitch who hated Livy so much she made the fourteen-year-old sit and watch the others for the entire period. At the time, Livy hated Mrs. Webb, but at the moment, she’d discovered a newfound appreciation.
Once Livy was led into position, she looked around at the crowd. The faire was surprisingly big and had a lot of attendees. Even the cats from the town next door came to the Honeyville Annual Renaissance Faire.
And apparently the joust was the most popular attraction; the makeshift arena was already packed, with the audience continuing to grow.
A seven-foot older grizzly stood next to her, his face obscured by an enormous beard and long brown and grey hair. Another hippy, she was guessing. Like Rita.
Livy took the offered honey stick, bit off the tip, and sucked out the honey inside while the grizzly studied her a moment before asking, “I know you honey badgers are tough and all, but you do know that we’re going to crush your tiny little body into the dirt, don’t ya?”
“Yeah. I know that.”
“You don’t mind?”
“Not as much as I probably should.” She shrugged. “Trying to work out some issues.”
“Ahhh. I see.” The grizzly leaned in. “Well, me and the guys had a thought. You see, the reason we have this first night of jousting is because we always have to work through the cats from next door before we can get to a good rousing joust with the rest of us. The felines bring a lot of money to this faire, so we put up with ’em. But it gets a bit boring.”
Livy again looked around at the audience, which was still growing…with bears.
“You want me to take out the cats…don’t you?” Livy asked.
“Cat humiliation and bear entertainment all rolled in one. Think you can do that?”
“What do I get out of it?” Because at the end of the day, Livy was still her mother’s daughter.
“Year’s supply of your favorite honey from Rita’s store?”
Livy immediately thought of the cinnamon-infused honey and she sort of shuddered. A good shudder, though. A delicious, honey-filled shudder.
The grizzly patted her leg. “Have fun, sweetie.”
Livy planned to…
Vic rested his forearms against the wood barriers used to block off the jousting area from the crowd surrounding it, and watched Livy.
He didn’t know what the hell she was up to. Why was she doing this? What had happened when she went into that damn woman’s apartment?
“Is she your girlfriend?” Rita asked him.
“Who? Livy?” He shook his head. “No. No. Just a friend. A good friend,” he quickly added. “I’ve got her back or whatever. But just…um…we’re just…ya know…”
Rita placed her hand on his shoulder and rested her head against his arm. “Breathe, sweetie. Breathe. It’s going to be okay.”
“Don’t start, Rita.”
She laughed. “You always get so flustered over the strangest things.”
“Livy isn’t a strange thing. She is currently, however, suicidal.”
“She’ll be fine. She’s just going up against the cats.” Vic glanced at Rita and she quickly added, “No offense.”
Yeah, the bears did like to forget that he was half feline, but that was still more than most cats were willing to do for him.
Livy hefted her lance like she was trying to get used to the weight.
“This is crazy,” Vic growled. “Stupid and crazy.”
“I’ve never heard honey badgers called stupid before.”
Vic waited for Rita to say more. When she didn’t, he looked at her, and she shrugged. “Really. I haven’t heard them called stupid.”
Sighing, Vic returned his focus to the field just as the signal was given and the joust was on. Livy lowered her lance and spurred her horse into a full gallop. At least this time she didn’t try to talk the horse into going.
The two riders charged toward each other until their lances rammed into the other’s shield. Livy fell back against her horse, but she held her seat. Her opponent, however, didn’t seem to even flinch. Hard to tell, though, with that helmet on his head.
The crowd cheered as Livy and her opponent rode to the end of the barrier and turned to face each other again. Livy’s helmeted head tilted to the side and Vic knew she was sizing up her opponent. She re-adjusted her grip on the new lance that had been handed to her and moved around a bit in her saddle. Then she nodded.
The signal was given again and the two riders charged toward each other. Livy lowered her lance just a bit seconds before it hit her opponent, sending him flipping off his horse so that he landed hard on the ground.
The bears in the crowd went wild. The cats…not so much. But at least they had the decency not to hiss.
Sadly, as the joust progressed into the evening that decency didn’t last. Not with Livy knocking each and every cat that came along off their horse. Leopard. Bobcat. Cheetah. Bengal tiger. Cougar. On and on it went. Finally, it was down to a massive lion male who had openly shown his dislike of Livy when he’d walked by her at the end of a break and roared in her face, baring large fangs.
Livy didn’t even look at him. She just let one of the bears pick her up and put her back on her horse.
The signal was given once more. The riders charged and their lances hit each other at the same time, knocking both off their mounts. Vic figured that meant a re-do of the ride, but to his horror, this particular Renaissance Faire seemed to like the old school rules of jousting.
Livy and the lion were given weapons. The lion swung the mace he now held, ripped off his helmet, and roared again at Livy.
Livy looked at her own mace, then back at the lion.
“Uh-oh,” Vic said.
“What?” Rita asked.
But Vic didn’t bother to answer. Not when Livy answered for him by throwing down the mace, jumping onto the wood barrier, and throwing her small, armored body at the surprised lion. He stumbled back as Livy wrapped herself around the lion’s head, tossed off her helmet, opened her mouth wide, small but sharp fangs glinting in the torch light seconds before she dug those fangs into the top of the lion’s massive brow.
“Owwwwww!” the lion screamed. “Get her off me! Get this crazy bitch off me!”
Rita giggled into her hand. “Oh, I love her!”
The lion ripped Livy off his head and threw her across the field. Livy rolled a few feet, stopped, jumped up, and came at the cat again. He stumbled back, Livy tackling him. Now she was biting his face, her claws dug into his big mane of gold hair, the cheers of the crowd nearly drowning out the cat screaming, “My hair! My beautiful, beautiful hair! Get her off me!”
Two of the jousting judges, one a cheetah—who were never fans of lions anyway—the other a sun bear, looked at each other and the bear suggested, “Screaming like a three-year-old girl about his hair? That seems like an automatic loss to me.”
The cheetah nodded. “I believe I agree with you on that.”
The sun bear stepped forward and called out in ridiculous-sounding old English, “Ye Honey badger wins this challenge!”
As soon as the words were spoken, Livy pulled her fangs out of the lion’s face and dropped to the ground. She spit out blood and calmly walked away, not even glancing at her opponent. It was as if he no longer existed to her.
“She is fabulous,” Rita told him.
“But fabulously insane.”
Vic briefly closed his eyes. “Shut up, Rita.”
Livy’s next opponent turned out to be a black She-bear. And Livy did all the things she’d done before with the cats, but when the black bear’s lance rammed into her, Livy flew off her horse, past the judges, and into the wood barrier surrounding the field. The portion she hit was destroyed on impact, and Livy disappeared under a pile of broken wood.
The crowd grew silent, all eyes on where Livy had gone down. For a full minute, no one moved. No one said a word. Even Vic. He was just too stunned. Too horrified.
But then the wood moved and Livy’s arm suddenly shot up, one thumb raised. The crowd lost it; the cheers, roars, and stomping shook everything around him.
Vic let out a breath seconds before he ran over to her. He and several others pulled the wood and debris away until they reached her.
Crouching down, Vic lifted the nose shield of Livy’s helmet. Her face was covered in blood but her eyes were open and alert—and she smiled.
“Crazy,” Vic admonished. “You’re crazy.”
“Yeah, but we’re still gettin’ free honey for a year. And isn’t that what’s important?”
“As a matter of fact, Olivia…no!” Vic finished on a healthy yell.