"No, Kara, you're insane!" Winn shook his head and stepped back. "No, no, no. You can't do this, it's not worth it."
"Winn, I'll do it either way; but with your help I stand a better chance of triumph." Kara looked at him pleadingly. "And I would really love to have my best friend's blessing."
They were standing in Winn's shop, surrounded by an abundance of weapons and armours. Kara often spent her free time here when Winn wasn't too busy with work. They would talk about their unfortunate affections for unobtainable people, their masters, and their hatred for the Luthors. Well, except for one Luthor - Lady Lena. Ahh, Lady Lena, Lady Lena...
"You can't even sign up, you're a woman! They won't let you do it." Winn desperately tried to find a way to talk Kara out of making this huge mistake.
"They won't know! I'll sign up with my cousin's name. And I can wear my helmet the entire time, no one will notice."
Winn went back to polishing the barbute that he made before Kara stormed in and ruined his day. "You can't do that." He looked up to meet her gaze. "You don't have one."
"I know! That's why I need you. Please, Winn. Please, please, please!" She pouted. Kara knew that Winn can't resist the pout.
"Oh, damn you, Kara Zor-El. But what if they find out? You could be beheaded!"
Kara snorted. "Please. Incarcerated at best."
"But what if you lose?"
"Then it won't matter."
"You could get killed!"
"Exactly. Then none of that will matter."
But Kara smiled to herself, thinking of the possibility of what could happen if she won.
"But, father, you can't do this! It's not fair!"
"Lena, we've talked about this already." The king said, rubbing his temples. "We need to find you a good suitor, and this melee is a perfect opportunity for it. All the finest knights will be there. Princes, even. Many want to win a favor with our kingdom, and they know that your hand in marriage is a way to do that."
Lena was on the verge of tears. "Lex doesn't have to marry yet!"
"Lex will rule this kingdom and he will have his queen, when the time comes."
"But father, I don't want to get married!" Lena was crying now, she was desperate.
She never wanted any of this. She didn't want the luxurious dresses or the servants or the gold. She just wanted to be free. Her chest was aching every day at the thought that soon enough she'll be given away to a complete stranger, probably twice her age; and she'll have to smile and nod and spend her entire life locked away. Just a pretty face on a coin, with a good name to trade in for favors. She dreaded the thought of having to live like this forever.
Running away wasn't an option. She tried that once when she was 14, but the guards found her and brought her back. They locked her in a tower for a month after that. Not to mention that she barely escaped a band of hooligans.
No, running away, unfortunately, wasn't an option.
"I don't know what made you think that this was some sort of parley, but I've had enough of it! The winner will escort you to the feast, and we will decide the rest after that." The king said and left the room.
Lena spent the rest of the day on her bed, crying.
"You know I wanted this since I was a little girl. I'd train with Kal every day, dreaming of winning the tournament some day.And now I finally have a chance to do it, and I have even more reasons than ever before. You knew I wanted to sign up; I don't see what a big deal it is now."
"The big deal is that I never thought you'd actually do it. Women aren't allowed to compete."
"Well, this woman can, and will." She sighed. "I feel like I'm not living up to my full potential. I wasn't put on this Earth just to be a someone's servant for the rest of my life. I want to create my own path, my own destiny. Can't you understand that?"
"Look, Kara, I understand, I really do. But putting yourself in harm's way is not the way to do it. Especially not for some girl."
"She's not just some girl and you know it. Besides, I'm not doing this for Lady Lena, I'm doing it for myself."
"I don't like it."
"I know you don't. But you'll help me anyway?" She gave him her best innocent, pleading look, and waited for his reaction expectantly.
Winn groaned "Ughhhh, okay, yes. I'll make your armour."
"Yes!!" She jumped up and down and clapped her hands in excitement. "And then you can come to the melee and watch me defeat your beau, and win the lady's affection." She giggled and winked at him.
Kara was already at the door and Winn shouted after her "HE'S NOT- he's not my beau!" And then he added shyly to himself "Unfortunately."
"My lady, is everything alright?" The lady's maid slowly opened the door to Lady Lena's chambers and came in to find her lying on the bed.
"I'm fine, leave me be." Said the voice, muffled by a pillow in which Lena buried her face.
"You missed lunch and dinner. Are you sure that I can't get you anything?"
"I said I'm fine!" She shouted.
A short pause followed, and the maid sighed. She was worried. The princess often had her bad days, but this is probably the worst one so far.
"I'm sorry." Lena said as she slowly turned around and got up to sit on the bed.
"It's okay, my lady."
"No, you shouldn't put up with the backlash of something that you didn't cause." Lena sniffled. "Can you find me a handkerchief, please?"
"Here you go. Why don't we clean you up and then get you some Strawberye? It always helps me feel better."
"That would be nice."
"Could you stay here, just for a while, until I've gone to sleep?"
"Of course, my lady." The maid smiled.
"Thank you, Kara."