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56.25% Tales of the Legendary Scholar / Chapter 8: What Could Be Harder

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Chapter 8: What Could Be Harder

"My second riddle. You can swallow me, but I can consume you too. What am I?" said Freidrech.

"Hmm, I can swallow food but can't swallow me. But pride can. Am I right?" Theo said with ease.

Freidrech returned the smile and nodded. The nobles and the students went into cheers.

"You're a worthy opponent, Freidrech," said Theo.

That informal address perked the ears of the nobles and other princes. It was a shocking revelation to know this ambitious young Prince Theodrech had befriended this boy from a lowly background. This gave them a hint to investigate Freidrech's identity.

"I'm honored, Your Highness. It's your turn," said Freidrech.

"Okay, ready Freidrech? Here's my second riddle. For now, I must stay under the man who made me, but when he dies I'll be as powerful as he. They will watch and listen to what I say and some of their money to me they'll pay. Who am I?"

"Your Highness, are you talking about yourself, a prince?" replied Freidrech.

"Haha, great. Your turn," said Theo with a smirk.

The commoners and soldiers made a loud noise. Some stomped their feet while the others whistled or shouted, "Yes."

Their support gave a relaxing mental massage on Freidrech. He was also enjoying the prince's playfulness and thought it was time to use his harder riddles to win this battle.

"Be ready, your highness. From this riddle onward, the difficulty will go one step higher."

That declaration was a laughable one for Theo. Last night, he did an eleventh-hour study with the royal librarians. They brought out the hardest riddles they could find, and he memorized them one by one. What else was there which could be considered harder?

"Go ahead. Let me hear these difficult riddles of yours," said Theo, unflustered.

"Third riddle. The rich needs it, the poor have it. The foolish have it, the wise discard of it."

Theo went silent. Indeed, he had to admit this one was difficult. He had not read this one. Even if he did, he couldn't recall it at all.

'Not all rich people have everything but what else do they need that the poor have? And to think, the foolish has it but the wise chose to discard?

'Foolishness is what the wise discards but the rich do not need it. The poor might have it but no rich man needs foolishness?'

The crowd was also having a hard time coming up an answer on their own. Everyone was in deep contemplation.

The time was moving fast but Theo couldn't think of an answer. He had no choice but to give up on this one.

He looked straight at Freidrech, who showed a 'told you' smile at him.

This fired up Theo. 'This guy, he's really enjoying my frustration. You watch out, I'll get you in my next riddle.'

"I pass. It's your win this time," said Theo.

Ohs and Ahs echoed in the stadium. They couldn't believe the prince passed. The commoners erupted with resounding shouts, cheering for their contender Freidrech.

"One point for the guest," announced a man sitting beside the headmaster. The people on the lower bleachers' clapped lifelessly out of politeness.

"Your turn then, Your Highness," Freidrech said.

"I'm at the beginning of time and part of the past, present, and future. I'm part of history, but not of here and now. In a moment you'll find me if you know what I am. What am I?"

At this moment, Freidrech's face became serious as well. That riddle was new to him.

He had been studying riddles since young for enjoyment with the village people or to win a plate of his favorite food from the owner of a tavern. Some customers also enjoyed such games and gambled. He even won a few coins for himself.

However, this one was absolutely hard for him.

"The prince is wise for choosing that riddle. I pass as well."

"One point each," said the scorer.

"Waaa!!" The crowd cried and followed by loud applause. The excitement grew. Who would win?

"Oh, I never expected that but I'm glad." Theo waved his hand to Freidrech a cue that it was his turn. Somehow, deep inside, he sighed in relief. He thought he would constantly lose.

"Fourth riddle. It is worth a life but also cheap. It has freedom but enslaved," said Freidrech.

'Come on, another hard one? Can you give me some slack?' thought Theo, but his face gave a slight smile. He lowered his head to cover his irritation.

"Pass," Theo said to hasten the pace, hoping he could answer the following riddles.

"Two for the guest, one for the prince," said the scorer.

At present, the high-spirited contenders' felt the urgency to beat the other in the shortest time possible.

"I look east and I couldn't find it. I look west and there it is. What is it?" asked Theo.

Freidrech smiled, enjoying knowing the prince was not that easy to topple. This was the first for him for not having a winning streak.

"I admit, this one is tough. Your point, Your Highness."

The pro-Theo cheered aloud.

The scorer was also happy for the prince. "Yes, the prince also got two points."

"I have seas with no waters, coasts with no sand, towns without people and mountains with no land," said Freidrech.

Theo smiled. "That is a map."

Freidrech nodded.

"Guest, two points. Prince, three points."

Gasping resonated from the commoner's side. Cheers from the pro-Theo side.

'This can't be happening,' thought Freidrech but his mouth said another thing. "Congratulations, Your Highness."

"What is as light as a feather, but even the world's strongest man couldn't hold it more than a minute?" Theo was on the roll. He couldn't wait for more, and he needed to win this.

"Your breath," said Freidrech. He was happy to get another point, while Theo was burning to recover the lost point.

"Both, three points."

"My sixth riddle. I began walking and completed a downward path in six steps but every step took me longer than you would think. Afterward, I walked another curve but upward this time and, the same way, it only took me another six steps but how much further I walk, I'll always go back to where I began. What am I?"

Theo screamed inside his head. 'Whaaat? Give me a break.' But his mouth said, "You've really prepared yourself for this. Or perhaps, is the battle of riddles common in your village?"

"Probably, probably not," said Freidrech with a sly smile.

"Anyway, I pass again." Theo's anxiousness rose higher. The cheers from the lower seats paused but those at the top became louder.

"Thank you, Your Highness."

"Don't thank me. It's not I'm skipping on purpose." Theo's voice had a slight sign of irritation.

"I apologize. Your turn, my prince."

While they were talking, the scorer looked at them back and forth, waiting for them to pause for him.

When they'd settled, the scorer hurriedly spoke, "Guest, four points. Prince, three points," and wiped his head from perspiration.

At this point in time, the students began considering Fredrech's background and had a bit change of heart.

"He seems educated."

"His manner of speaking and the way he carried himself are quite the opposite of what the rumor said."

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"I can bring tears to your eyes and a smile on your face. I form in an instant and last for a lifetime, but I can be forgotten. What am I?" said Theo.

Unexpectedly, Freidrech felt a pang of pain in his chest when he heard the riddle's wordings. It brought back the tragic incident months ago. He breathed deep to ease the pain.

Theo and the rest who knew Freidrech's background felt his pain as they saw his reaction. It shamed Theo for his insensitivity.

"I'm sorry, I don't mean to…," said Theo as he was about to move forward but Freidrech looked up and smiled.

"I'm fine, Your Highness. The answer is a memory."

"Guest, five points. Prince, three points," said the scorer.


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