Masked Knight – Chapter 55

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Horseback Archery Examination

 

Three days had passed. The days before the inheritance ceremony, Rody could not sleep. After all, he is just a boy. Although he had experienced a lot of strange things and no longer had a normal outlook on life, waiting for the big day still made him nervous.

 

Nicole sent away the maid and was in Rody’s room for a long while personally helping to dress Rody up. Nicole carefully selected a specially ordered silver colored warrior clothing. The clothing was tailor made by one of the most famous tailors in the Imperial Capital. It fitted very well and exposed Rody’s robust body, making him look heroic.

 

The two of them stared at each other from time to time and turned red in the face. When Rody was completely dressed up, Nicole carefully looked at Rody’s ears to make sure that there were no flaws.

 

Rody remembered his ears and felt disappointed. He could not help but ask, “Nicole, when are you going to remove these ears?”

 

Nicole no longer dared to keep it a secret and smiled. “I am trying to find a way but Dandong’s notes are too difficult to understand. When this is over, we will slowly study it.”

 

Rody opened his mouth and wanted to tell Nicole that he had already found the method to use it but could not because he was not a sorcerer. He thought that Nicole should be able to control the mask as she was an extraordinary sorcerer. However, when the words reached his mouth, he remembered Andy telling him not to let anyone know about the last words of Dandong. Rody immediately gave up. Before leaving, Nicole gave Rody some advice.

 

Rody looked at Nicole in close proximity and his heart beat faster. He wanted to bend forward and kiss her cheek. Nicole was shocked and immediately dodged to escape. She showed a strange begging expression and said softly, “Rody, don’t be like this. Wait for next time … alright?  Your appearance right now … I really cannot. When I look at your face, I think of my brother…”

 

Rody sighed and did not dare to show how upset he was. He could only follow Nicole and board the carriage.

Fortunately, the carriage was not just occupied by Rody and Nicole. Instructor Carter, who was wearing an officer’s uniform was also sitting inside the carriage. Nicole had already publicly declared Instructor Carter as Seth’s official instructor. Following the tradition of the Empire, when the noble inherits the title, the instructor would also receive a commendation from the Emperor. That was why Carter was wearing formal clothes and even meticulously combed his beard. As a show of respect to the instructor, Nicole did not let him ride on the horse but invited him to sit together with them in the carriage.

 

One side of the palace hall had already been decorated. According to tradition, all the Royal Guards, wearing distinctive suits of armor, were standing respectfully around the hall. The hall also had a lot of young nobles waiting for quite a while.

 

In accordance with the tradition of the Empire, the inheritance ceremony was held several times a year. Every time, there would be a lot of nobles taking the examination. However, since this examination was brought forward by His Majesty, there were fewer candidates in comparison to that of the regular examination. Some of the young nobles looked at Rody resentfully. They knew that the heir of the Tulip Family was the reason that His Majesty moved forward the date of the examination.

 

Rody did not care about them so much and followed Nicole into the audience hall with his head held high. One of them was an attractive beauty while the other was a handsome guy. When they entered the audience hall, they immediately attracted attention all around.   

 

All the young noble participants of the examination were in their best attire. In front of everyone, they were putting up their best side.  Although the Empire had declined since it was founded several hundred years ago, they still retained their martial spirit. All of these young nobles had the title of warrior. Their ranks were all different and no one knew whether they truly deserved their titles.

 

There were at least 20 tables in the middle of the hall. Without a word, Nicole directly brought Rody to a front table and sat down. She looked indifferent but occasionally had a gentle expression when she looked at Rody. On the other hand, because of his status, Instructor Carter could not enter the hall and had to wait outside.

 

A few moments later, Gordon appeared from behind and walked in large strides as he shouted, “Radiant Empire’s Mighty Emperor, His Majesty, has arrived!”

 

All whispering immediately stopped. Everyone stood up. In the silence, a large door, from the back of the hall, opened and Emperor Abbas XI slowly walked out. That day, the Emperor did not wear the white robe but a gold colored light armor.On his back was a large red cloak. His face also looked neat and dignified.

 

Everyone in the hall bowed and knelt down when they saw the Emperor. Rody also knelt down but he could not help but froze for a moment when he saw the person behind the Emperor.

 

It was not just Rody who was dumbfounded but the other nobles were also shocked.

 

That was because, in such a formal ceremony, the person who should accompany the Emperor is Her Majesty the Queen. However, the woman who was standing at his side was not the Queen!

 

Jojo, who was wearing a brightly colored red robe, stood like a raging fire. Her beautiful face should be calm, but she looked excited, searching around for someone among the crowd.

 

“You may stand,” Abbas XI spoke in a resounding voice. “We don’t need so many customs. Let us start.” When he said that, his eyes casually looking at Rody’s face. Rody immediately looked away from Jojo.

 

Gordon immediately stood forward and announced the start of the assessment.

 

Following Gordon’s order, all the young nobles stepped out from where they were and gathered in the middle of the hall. Rody was naturally standing right in front.

 

The Emperor nodded and said a few motivating words. Rody did not listen to any of those high-sounding words. Although he did not raise his head, he could feel Jojo’s gaze. He felt awkward but did not dare to raise his head.

 

The first examination was horse riding. In front of the audience hall was a public square with about twenty horses. All the horses were snow white and there were no mixed breeds, looking exceptionally eminent.

 

The young nobles went out of the hall and listened to Gordon announce the content of the assessment. The square was, earlier, arranged as a military drilling ground. On the saddle of every horse was also a bow and ten arrows. In addition, there was also a lance hanging on the horse’s body. However, the tip of the lance had been removed. At a distance were 3 targets, each about as high as two people.

 

In the Radiant Empire, martial arts was of great importance. All the nobles must learn to fight. The successors of titles must have a warrior ranking. That was why the examination also placed a lot of importance in martial arts.

 

The examination was not just a simple horseback archery but was according to the pattern of an actual battle. When the participants get on the horses, they were still far from the targets. They would need to ride closer, within a certain range, before they can shoot. During that time, they were allowed to attack each other and force the others to dismount. Everyone would be attacking one another and would also need to defend themselves. After all, there are only three targets! If they could hit a target, they are considered half successful and if they were knocked down, they were considered eliminated.

 

Of course, to ensure fairness, the examination was conducted in groups. Only warriors of the same level would be assessed together. Otherwise, in the assessment, the Grade 1 swordsman would forever not be able to defeat a Grade 3 swordsman.

 

The young nobles were immediately divided into three groups. Among the Grade 1 swordsman was Rody and that group had the most participants. That was because these nobles wanted the best chance to inherit their title. Obviously, before the succession of the title, for many whose strength were better than the Grade 1 level, they would conceal their real strength so that they could be grouped together with other Grade 1 swordsman in the assessment. In this case, although there were more opponents, their odds would be greater by relying on their true strength. Only a small number of people with more confidence in their skills would bother increasing their warrior rank.

 

The first examination consisted of Grade 3 swordsman.  Among the young nobles warriors here, none exceeded Grade 2 swordsman. When Gordon gave the order, four of the participants got on the horse. Ordinarily, the four participants would just need to shoot the three targets. Even if they did not attack each other, they could pass just by shooting the arrows. However, the four crazy participants did not even pick up the bow. The moment they got on their horses, they immediately took the lance and rushed at each other.

 

The young nobles were confident in their own skills and were full of vigor. They wanted to display their martial prowess in front of the Emperor. In their proud minds, the simple archery was unable to satisfy their glory. Only by dismounting their opponents could they show their bravery as a warrior!

 

These four participants fought forcefully at one another. Rody watched, with interest, the four participants clash. After all, he was also a true warrior. The four participants also had real talent and were bold enough to use that occasion to display their prowess. For most nobles, their entire future relies on that day. If they displayed extraordinary skills, His Majesty would be happy and they would have a bright future.

 

The four warriors fought for a long time before there was an outcome. Finally, the sturdiest looking warrior was knocked down by another two participants that had joined forces. On the other hand, the frail looking warrior was already knocked down much earlier. The final two participants looked at each other and came to an understanding. They raised their bows and hit their targets. They both hit the bull’s eye.

 

There was a thunderous cheer. Abbas XI also looked happy and stood up to clap his hands.

 

The following Grade 2 swordsman examination, on the other hand, was not spectacular. Out of a total of seven participants, some of them were impatient and rode forward to shoot their arrows the moment they got on their horses. There were also some that attacked others fiercely and there were some that hesitated, unsure as to whether they wanted to use the lance or the bow.

 

At Rody’s current level, he was no longer interested in the match at the Grade 2 level. He yawned and closed his eyes. He did not notice Jojo looking at him from beside the Emperor. Her pair of beautiful eyes flashed a trace of different color.

 

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