「Wow, she’s pretty strong. Or maybe that Sergey fellow was just weak.」
「Just for the record, there are many who had high hopes for him.」
As Narika tilted her glass of juice about in boredom, the captain of the Imperial Guard Chivalric Order standing at her side responded.
Sergey Carkinos was the second son of the Carkinos viscount family, a family well known for their military prowess.
The eldest was a member of the Shield of Light Chivalric order and thus allied with Narika, and seeing that the second son was participating in this tournament, it sufficed to say that the Carkinos viscount family had decided to swear complete allegiance to Narika.
「You’re right. He kept going on about how strong he was. It’s no wonder the common masses ended up thinking that truly was the case.」
「I wonder if that was an adventurer? It seemed like she was rather used to combat. Not the best match-up for Sergey who has practically no experience whatsoever.」
Narika glared at the captain who appeared to be claiming that the victory was only due to his lack of experience.
「What I need are men who can fight for me right now. I can’t allow that damn half-breed rule the kingdom as she’d like any longer.」
「…I understand. But please consider the future after the subjugation as well.」
Right, the conditions to be a knight were not strength alone.
In these current times, a knight’s role mainly consisted of maintaining order. To that end, not only was the strength to fight necessary, but the knowledge and education needed to make the right decisions as well.
Generally speaking, those who were most well-suited to those aspects were members of the nobility. Even if an ordinary person such as an adventurer were to excel in battle, it was often the case that they did not have the nearly the sufficient knowledge to assume the role of a knight.
Furthermore, the very lack of that essential trait was essentially proof of their ineptitude towards leading the people.
The Imperial Guard Chivalric Order was about to speak of that… but in the end, he chose to hold his tongue.
It would be simple enough to tell her, but Narika was unlikely to show understanding. He knew this from experience.
「Well, in that case, if we’re talking about the future beyond the subjugation, I suppose we would have to find some kind of use for Sergey, right?」
It was then that the next match was about to begin, regardless of the conversation that was taking place.
「Next we have Naughtung versus Kain!」
Ein did not give even a glance to Kain and his opponent headed towards the center of the stage as she was lost in thought.
If the challengers at this tournament truly wished to work as a knight under Narika, that would mean that her forces would become much stronger as a result.
At first glance, this tournament may have seemed to be a silly festival event of sorts, but it was essentially an effective method in gathering those ambitious towards rising to the top all in the same spot.
If she were to hold this tournament regularly, any skilled warriors who weren’t satisfied with their current position would continuously show up one after the other in Narika’s home base.
If that were to happen, would Princess Celis’s side be able to combat that?
「The victor is Kain!」
There was no doubt that the opponents they were facing were on Princess Narika’s side.
Even if they were to take out Mazenda, who was suspected of being behind the Alva attacks, the result would simply be eliminating someone who desired conflict and disorder. Would it truly have any effect on those that sided with Princess Narika?
Regardless, there was still the chance of eliminating the rumors going around about how the Mazoku were attacking the Canal Kingdom. In that case, Ein- no, the Zadark Kingdom still benefited from this.
「Ein! Hey, Ein!」
「…What do you want? I’m busy right now.」
Ein turned to face whoever broke her train of thought and found herself looking at Kain, who had an unsatisfied look on his face.
「What’s with that face?」
「Well, I mean, I won but you weren’t even watching.」
Ein made a puzzled face in response.
「…Well, of course, you would have won. If you hadn’t, I would have given you a good kick. What’s the point of watching a match where the outcome is obvious?」
If they wanted to get closer to Mazenda, then they had no choice but to climb the ranks of this tournament. That was why she believed it was only natural that Kain advanced through the first round.
Considering Kain’s abilities, she thought it would be simple for Kain to easily overcome the first round, so she didn’t bother worrying herself over it, but… it appeared that Kain wasn’t happy about that.
「I tried really hard, you know?」
「I see. Do your best next round, too.」
In response to Ein turning her eyes away from him, Kain let out a sigh while scratching his face.
「Well yeah, of course I’d do my best, but… nevermind.」
The following rounds played out just about how Ein imagined they would.
Those who were truly skilled remained, while those who were mediocre were nearly completely taken out.
The screening would continue the next day, so they decided to head back to the inn.
Ein let out a sigh as she listened to Narika go on about how even the losers had a chance of being chosen to become a knight.
Next to her, Kain began to get on edge.
「…Hey, Ein. Could this be…」
「Don’t let your guard down.」
Ein responded with only those words.
The Knight Screening Tournament.
This simple event that involved people climbing to the top was now about to show its true colors.