[Translator – goguma]
[Proofreader – yukitokata]
Chapter 61 - Audience (3)
Phillion slowly reared his horse, waiting for Urich to get ready.
‘I’ll leave it to you, Kilios,’ thought Urich while petting Kilios’s mane. When it came to riding horses, it was important to commune with the horse. Urich had continued to learn tips about horse riding from Fahel.
‘Fahel, you might’ve told me that you didn’t do anything for me, but… at the end of the day, I learned a lot from you.’
Fahel was someone who was well read. Not just for his age, but he was intelligent compared to other nobles and royalty as well. Everytime Urich was curious about something, he would ask Fahel and receive an answer from him.
Urich didn’t think Fahel’s request was unpleasant at all. Rather, he was readily willing to accept it. The request moved Urich’s heart more than enough.
‘I will go wherever my heart tells me to,’ thought Urich as he lifted up the lance. It was a massive spear—the size of two adult men combined.
‘The reason that I descended the eastern side of the Sky Mountain Range was because my heart wanted to come here. There was no reason other than that.’
Urich was happy. He saw a lot and learned a lot. Even so, he still couldn’t see the end of the world. The unknown was always waiting for him.
“Urich, hold a firm grip of the lance. If it’s your frame and strength, it’s plenty enough to endure the horse’s full strength. If you properly charge at your opponent, no one would be able to come out unscathed,” said Phillion from the other side. He kicked the sides of his horse and slowly approached Urich.
“Kilios, let’s go.”
Urich also gave Kilios a signal. He and Phillion tapped on each other’s shields with their lances while passing by.
It was a clear, refreshing sound. After switching their positions, they silently bowed to show each other respect—a knight’s etiquette.
“If you’re a knight, you must never forget to show respect to your opponents. Even more so when the battles are ones for honor.”
“But I’m not a knight.”
“You have to at least be a knight in the jousting tournament. Since it is a place to fight with His Royal Highness’s name on the line.”
Urich blew air out of his nose and laughed.
“If a conclusion can’t be drawn even after three exchanges on horseback, it will enter a battle on foot. Both individuals get off of their horses, pull out their weapons, and attempt to subdue their opponent.”
“So if only one person falls off their horse, they will have to fight the other person, who’s still on horseback, in that state. Right?”
“Exactly. If you believe that it will be difficult to win the battle on horseback, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to fight defensively and try to endure. It might be better to drag it out and take it to a battle on foot,” said Phillion. He was explaining jousting strategies to Urich. Truthfully, he had never participated in the jousting tournament himself either. A tournament like this didn’t even exist when he was young. It was something that just started recently.
“Can’t I just throw an axe while on horseback? Or attack their horse?”
Phillion shook his head at the question.
“You can’t. Ultimately, the jousting tournament is a place to test each other’s skills. It’s good manners to refrain from blatantly aiming for your opponent’s life or injuring expensive warhorses. If your matches end up becoming too brutal, the nobles won’t like it. Because this isn’t a gladiator match. You might even be disqualified if they judge that you had malicious intent.”
“How strict. It’s much harder to restrain someone without killing them,” said Urich while twisting his head to the left and right.
“His Royal Highness wishes for you to win the tournament, but… even entering the top four would be a tremendous job. Hamel’s jousting tournament brings out skilled experts from all of the various regions of the Empire. In the end, it won’t be easy,” warned Phillion.
“Haha, Uncle Phillion. In the end, jousting is still just a fight. And I already told you before that I’ve never lost a fight.”
“At least your confidence is reassuring.”
Phillion looked at him. Urich was a warrior that had both skills and confidence. However, as dependable as Urich was, there was doubt in a small corner of Phillion’s heart.
* * *
Translator – goguma
Proofreader – yukitokata
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* * *
Not just anyone could participate in Hamel’s jousting tournament. Only those who had a solid reputation or knights with proven identities could participate in it. The rabble were eliminated in the reception process.
“Do you know who I am? I was the runner-up at Lehrmann’s jousting tournament. My name is…”
A knight was yelling at the reception desk.
“And where is Lehrmann? Runner-up or whatever, please bring a noble who can testify your identity. Are you looking down on Hamel’s jousting tournament?”
“Y-You! How dare you talk that way to a knight?!”
The knight was on the verge of pulling out his sword. The officials at the reception desk were used to such things, though.
‘Not only are knights imbeciles, they’re arrogant.’
Knights were stupid and had no manners. Especially the lower-ranked knights. The lower their rank, the less dignity they had. Knights that knew about chivalry and manners were few in number, and those without a master to serve were practically just thugs that had a sword and armor.
“Out of the way.”
A gruff voice was heard from the back. The knight that was causing a commotion was already glaring.
“Out of the waaaay? If you don’t take back what you said to me just now, I will challenge you to a due—”
The knight shut his mouth. The man, a head taller than he was, stood behind him.
“Challenge me to a duel. Hurry up. Challenge me. I’ll send you to Ru’s arms before you can even blink,” growled Urich. The knight was scared by his overpowering pressure.
The knight walked past Urich, looking down at the floor to avoid eye contact. Urich smiled as he walked to the reception desk.
“What is your name?” asked the official. He was also smiling back at Urich.
“Urich. My patron is Prince Varca anu Forlcana.”
Urich handed the official document that Fahel drew up. After confirming the document that had a seal on it, the official then handed it over to the next person.
The seal of Forlcana’s royalty had a herring and a fishing boat. It was a design that was expected from a coastal kingdom.
“I have confirmed that this is the seal of Forlcana’s royalty. Forlcana’s prince is also staying at the Swallow Palace.”
The receptionist nodded after hearing that and wrote Urich’s name down on a separate document.
“Let us go this way. There will be a basic test.”
Urich followed their lead.
‘The reception process is boring like Phillion said.’
There was an overwhelming number of people registering for the jousting tournament. However, there were only thirty-two spots available at the most. If they were to accept every participant, the matches would never end, and the nobles didn’t want that either.
Hamel’s jousting tournament was the greatest in the world in terms of scale and level. The participants had to be judged and chosen before they participated.
Urich entered a training ground that had been separately prepared. Knights of the Order of the Imperial Steel Knights were choosing the participants.
“Urich? Hm. I feel like I’ve heard of that name before. Are you a barbarian? How did a barbarian get sponsored by a royal? What sort of relationship do the two of you have?”
The imperial knight who was in charge of Urich was shaking his head. It was a combination that didn’t go together at all. Even if the Empire had an appeasement policy, it was rare for a barbarian to participate in the jousting tournament. Even more so because it was Hamel’s jousting tournament.
‘If it weren’t for his royal patron, he would’ve already been disqualified at the reception…’
Urich tapped his foot on the ground while looking at the imperial knight.
“Well, Prince Varca and I are friends,” he said after getting impatient.
“What nonsense. But since the seal is real, I will test you.” The knight tossed Urich a sword with a dull edge.
“Hah, we should’ve started off with this. Let’s do it.”
Urich excitedly grabbed the sword. He was prepared to fight right away. He could already feel his muscles starting to tense up.
“Get into the Owl Stance,” said the imperial knight. Urich tilted his head.
“The Owl Stance?”
He didn’t hear about anything like that from Phillion. But this was because Phillion also didn’t have any experience participating in a jousting tournament. The tests and selection criteria were different for each region, and this specific jousting tournament happened to look at the participant’s Knight Swordsmanship stances to judge their skills.
“You don’t even know the Owl Stance?”
“Why would I know something like that, dude? Just fight me.”
“Really, what a decrease in standards. I can’t believe someone who doesn’t even know about the basics of knight swordsmanship received the support of royalty and is trying to participate in the jousting tournament.”
The imperial knight clicked his tongue. The three most prominent stances of Knight Swordsmanship were Overhead Owl, Middle Wolf, and Sweeping Snake. Every other form was derived from those three. It was to the point where it became a saying that squires spent a year only practicing those forms.
“I don’t know anything like that. Test me on something else.”
The imperial knight shook his head at Urich’s request.
“You didn’t make the cut. Go along now.” The knight didn’t even give it a second thought. There were an overwhelming amount of high-quality entrants. Nothing would really change if Urich didn’t participate.
“Are you kidding me? You’re going to fail me after looking at a single stance? Huh?” yelled Urich, walking towards the knight.
“That isn’t something a man who couldn’t even learn that single stance should be saying. Do you think that becoming a knight is easy? Countless nobles watch Hamel’s jousting tournament. It is also a place that decides who the best knight is. I will not send out someone who doesn’t even know the basics of a knight.”
It was a situation that was outside of Urich’s expectations. Fighting was something that he was extremely confident in.
‘It’s going to end without even a fight? What kind of fighting tournament is this?’
Urich grabbed the imperial knight, who only glared at him in return.
“I have to win this. Pass me, you bastard.”
“Let go of your hand. Before you get hurt.”
The knight warned him. However, Urich’s patience had hit its limits.
‘Please. Win for me, Urich.’
Fahel’s words echoed in his head. If it weren’t for those words, he would have thrown a punch by now.
“Test me on something else. I won’t say it again. I’m okay with whatever it is as long as it’s a fight,” said Urich, grinding his teeth.
“We are selecting knights, not warriors. Farewell.”
The knight swatted Urich’s hand away and turned his back on him. Urich couldn’t hold his words back anymore.
“...Hold it. Before I twist off that stiff head of yours.”
“You dare insult me?”
The knight stopped in place. Urich raised his blunt sword.
“My name is Urich. Reveal your name.” Revealing one’s name to each other and fighting with honor on the line. It was a dueling custom that worked anywhere for any warrior, not just for the civilized.
“How ridiculous. I have no name to tell you. You aren’t a knight. Just some rabble. I will show you the difference between us, right here. Prepare to have a broken limb or two,” the knight responded as he grabbed a dull sword. A fierce tension was in the air.
“Uhoho, what an interesting fight.”
An elderly man hopped out from the outer areas of the training grounds with his hands behind his back. For an elderly man, he had quite a burly body. He took long strides to approach them in an instant.
“He insulted me,” complained the knight. The eldery man seemed to be his superior.
“Hoho, is that so? Then you should settle it in a duel, of course. That’s it. If you are someone that lives off the sword, it’s obvious.”
The elderly man nodded multiple times. He then looked at Urich with slitted eyes.
“An interesting duel. A member of the Order of the Imperial Steel Knights versus the ‘Armor Destroyer’ Urich.”
The elderly man already knew about him. He even recited Urich’s recent nickname.
“Ar…mor… Destroyer,” echoed the imperial knight.
There was a change in his expression after repeating the nickname.
‘No wonder I thought I heard his name from somewhere! Damn it.’
Urich the Armor Destroyer. The knight was more used to Urich’s nickname than his actual name. That was why he wasn’t able to immediately recall it after hearing Urich’s name.
‘Normally, one would mention their nickname as well!’
However, Urich didn’t claim his nickname and only told his name. Other warriors would have mentioned their famous nicknames first to lead with their reputation.
‘If I knew he was the Armor Destroyer…’
He wouldn’t have looked down on Urich as much. If even half of the rumors about the Armor Destroyer were true, Urich wasn’t a warrior that should have been looked down on. The knight would have passed Urich through another exam.
Nevertheless, the hand had already been dealt, and it was impossible to take back what had already been said. The imperial knight focused. He finally noticed Urich’s muscles that were hidden under the hem of his clothes. He could see Urich’s exceptional muscles tensing up.
‘But I can’t back down in front of General Perjen.’
The white-haired elderly man was the living legend of the Empire, Blademaster Perjen.
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