BBYW Vol. 3 Interlude Part 3 (WN)
Interlude – Royal Martial Tournament
Part 3 – The Black Lion of the West
Echidna and I walked down the arena’s corridor, with her butler in tow.
The arena had been built by the first king of Lamperouge, so it was already over 100 years old: the typical moldy smell of old buildings pricked my nostrils.
As we proceeded down the corridor we eventually found a familiar face.
Golden hair, dark complexion: a young man with an appearance you’d rarely see around the royal capital.
We noticed each other’s presence around the same time. As soon as the young man recognized me, his expression turned into one of annoyance.
“It has been a while, Dyngir Maxwell.”
“Despite frequenting the same academy, we rarely meet, don’t we? Valon.”
The young man’s name was Valon Sphinx. He was the heir of one of the “Four Houses”, like me and Echidna: Valon was the first son of House Sphinx, margrave of the western province of Lamperouge.
He was probably going to fight next: he was wearing armor and carried a sword at his waist.
“I watched your battle. Your sword arm is as rough as always…I thought I was watching a jackal fight.”
“I’m afraid my skills are still immature.”
“I meant that as a compliment. If you keep fighting like that, I suppose you won’t lose until we meet at the finals.”
Valon snorted and glared straight at me. He frequented the royal academy, like me and Echidna, but he was one year above us.
Some time ago, when our year did a mixed martial training lesson with older students, Valon and I happened to spar.
That time, I managed to win, but barely. Our skill with the sword was more or less matched, and I won more because of luck than ability.
Maybe because I was an underclassman, after losing Valon started treating me as his rival and never missed the chance to antagonize me.
“Pleased to see you, Sir Sphinx.”
“The pleasure is mine, Lady Thunderbird…hm?”
Echidna, her arm still wrapped around mine, greeted Valon too.
He gave her a light nod, but then noticed our overly familiar distance and frowned.
“You two…had that kind of relationship?”
Valon looked at us with some disgust, but I laughed at the suspicion and used my free hand to flick Echidna’s forehead.
“We’re just old acquaintances. This woman acts like this with any man, after all.”
“Hey, you should treat a lady with a little more respect!”
Annoyed at my description, Echidna pouted and pinched my forearm.
“Is that so…”
Valon didn’t seem too convinced, but looked away from us, probably not to get dragged in our exchange.
“I believe your turn is next, yes? Who are you going to face?”
“The buffoon son of some central noble house, I believe. Not a name worth remembering.”
Valon replied carelessly, sighed and shook his head.
“This is the royal capital, after all. Even if they hold a martial tournament, the participants are all central nobles who barely even saw a battlefield, but think they became masters through training and sparring. Things should be different in the commoners’ tournament, but alas…”
The royal martial tournament was split in two brackets: the “noble tournament” and “general tournament”.
As the name suggested, only nobles could participate in the first, but the latter mainly saw the participation of mercenaries, soldiers and knights of commoner origin.
The ultimate goal was to show their skill in order to find a patron or spread their fame, so their motivation was far higher than the nobles, who viewed the tournament mostly as entertainment. The battles in the commoners’ tournament were often hot-blooded and riveting.
The reason why the tournaments were separate was simple: the powers that be didn’t want to create the precedent of a commoner winning over a noble. Nobles were superior to commoners, hence they were the uncontested ruling class. In order to maintain this stance, they couldn’t allow commoners the chance to prevail over them.
“A ridiculous reason, I think. Birth and class don’t mean anything on the battlefield.”
I spoke my mind and Valon nodded. There were plenty of examples of nobles falling in battle to the lowliest peon turned soldier.
In a battle to the death, only strength counted: one’s birth, noble or humble, mattered very little.
“I will definitely win my way to the finals. Prepare yourself.”
“I certainly will…but, please allow me just one word of warning.”
I pulled Echidna and started walking again. When I passed next to Valon, I continued.
“There are plenty of people who don’t see the victory of countryside nobles like us with favor. Please remember that our battle is not limited to the arena.”