Tests ended, and the real summer is welcoming us. And the most awaited Royal Battle has started..!
Royal Battle is an annual 3-part tournament, at this Capital Academy.
It is also one of the biggest festivals known in the Doghanik Empire. After all, many well-known people from all around the world have come to see the students participating.
Let me introduce the 3 parts of this tournament. First is Horse-riding, second is chivalry and last is cavalry.
Students are free to either join just one or two parts, and they can also not participate.
There are food stalls outside the arena, which is run by students and some professors that loves festivals.
Well, we are free to either join the tournament or do the food stalls, or even just enjoy the festival, but well I wasn't given such leisure.
"Ed!" Gino called.
This happened just after the tests have ended, and just right before the academy started preparing for the Royal Battle.
"Are you going to participate?" Gino asked. "To the Royal Battle?" I asked, as Gino nodded cheerfully.
I shook my head. "Why?" Gino asked. "It sounds like a pain" I stated. "But, it is fun, you know" Gino stated.
"To you it is, but to some people it hurts. After all, we need to fight and all" I stated. Gino pouted.
He suddenly gasped, as if he just thought of something really great.
"Ed" he spoke, as he sat down the chair in front of me. "W-what?" I asked, as I felt a bad feeling with this.
Gino smiled, "Will you be going back to the Emerald Palace this fall break?"
"Well, yeah" I nodded. "I see. Everyone is going to, you know" Gino stated. "So, what about it?" I asked.
"We were talking about going to each other's houses, right?" He stated, and I nodded. "Just going normally sounds a bit boring, right?" He stated.
No, it's not!
"So, I was thinking how about changing it to like this" Gino stated, before starting to explain the ridiculous thing he had thought off.
I sighed, as I shook my head.
I really don't want to think of it anymore. That guy sure knows how to trick me into doing things, the way he wants me to…
Well, so I was persuaded easily by Gino and had ended up joining the Royal Battle.
I sighed once again.
"Ahem, test…test…" The MC mumbled, as he tested the craft magic, "Echo". It is a craft magic that lets a person's voice vibrate, like a speaker.
"Alright! Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Royal Battle!" He exclaimed, as the audience cheered.
"It is a once a year festival for the students of Capital Academy, and is us adults' entertainment!" He said, as the audience cheered wildly.
Adults' entertainment… Is it okay to say that?
"Today I, Shiro will be your MC for the first day of the Royal Battle. As many of you know today our agenda is Horse-riding" He said.
Three holograms appeared.
This is also a craft magic.
"In the middle, the view of our first trail is seen. This is also the same structure with our fourth trail, which reaches to the Goal Line" Shiro started the explanation of the trails.
"Over your right is the second trail, The Lost Forest. All you can see is fog, fog, fog!" He said, as the audience repeated, as well.
"And lastly, over your left you can see the third trail, the Utopia. It is the paradise which is created by the imagination of a man's happiness!" He continued.
"Now, there's no time to waste. Let us start the Royal Battle's First Tournament, Horse-riding!!" Shiro cheered, as the audience did the same.
They seem to be having a lot of fun. Well, this is hell for me. Horse, huh? Ugh..! When, will this end?
"The first years this year looks good" An old man mumbled. "You're right. You can't just help but choose them all" A young man spoke.
The old man scoffed. "Who will you be choosing?" He asked. "Eh?" The young man mumbled. "You have already chosen one, right?" The old man stated.
"Seems like I can't lie to you" The young man smiled. "I have chosen the third prince" He added.
The old man looked at me. "He looks skinny" he mumbled. "Skinny, you say…" The young man mumbled.
"What?" The old man spoke. "Nothing. I was just about to tell you to not complain once the prince wins" The young man smirked.
The old man snorted, "I will be choosing the legendary knight's son. The bet is on!"
After a lot of introductions and list of rules, the race have started and the audience have started to shout cheerfully.
I looked at the audience, before grinning.
"If I'm gonna do this, I am gonna do everything I can" I mumbled beneath my breath, as my horse started running.
Somehow, the horse feels light unlike how it was 4 years ago. Is it because of my growth or because of being forced to ride horse everytime, by Fiore?
Either one of it sounds possible. Though, the latter sounds the most possible.
Still, riding a horse sure gets the weight off my shoulder, like I can fly free out of this place anytime.
But, the fact that I feel like vomiting any time doesn't change. I must hold it in or I will be a laughing stock.
The MC explained earlier about the course, which will start from the arena and will go over and end back at this place.
First trail, which is at the center of the arena is the trail called, "Beginning". It is just a normal path carved with fences.
The next trail is called "The Lost Forest".
I looked around, as I calmly rode my horse. "Trees are tall, which is making the place look dark. There's fog everywhere and there is this smell that's making me dizzy" I mumbled.
I guess those are the reason why this place is called the lost forest.
The fog will make you lose your path, if you're not focused. And the trees only help with making it hard to escape. While the smell makes you sleepy, resulting to you being lost.
Gino thought of a rumor that was like this.
"In this old forest, lives the ghost of the fallen warriors. They are hunting people to make them their troops to fight the wars.
Once you stray away from the path you will become their target, which will result to you being lost forever and ever…"
He did thought of such thing for a few days, but I guess these are all magic casted upon this place to be a hurdle for the race.
Well, I am focused on not vomiting, so the smell can't bother me even for a minute. I close my eyes, as I try to gobble up my puke back rather than spitting it all out.
Soon, I felt a gentle wind, in front of me. As I opened my eyes, I saw the sunset and a flower field surrounding the path.
"It was still morning, yet the sun is already setting. Is it one of the magic casted upon this place?" I mumbled, as I nearly puked.
After getting out of the lost forest, I arrived at the third trail. "Utopia" or it was called a replica of the Garden of Eden.
The sunset seemed so fleeting. Somehow, seeing this reminds me of a certain image. An image I've forgotten long ago, a memory of a distant past.
"Now, now! We can see the figure of Prince Edward ahead. It looks like he is the first one to get out of the Lost Forest" Shiro shouted.
Shiro gasped, "You guys there no changing your bets, kay?"
"So, I am the first one…" I mumbled, as the images I suddenly remembered faded like fragments of crystals.
I hastily rode my horse.
Why? I thought it had disappeared. Then, why..? Why are the memories with me losing someone important coming back, slowly?
Liassa's death, Fiore's departure and Elia's disappearance…it all came back to me.
Is it because of this trail? "A paradise won't be perfect, if the person who came there didn't suffer". Is that what this lap is telling me?
Damn, this thing sucks. This is harder than the second trail!
This was also part of the rumors Gino told me. Utopia, the third trail will remind you of your bad memories.
The fourth trail was just ahead. Yet, it looks so far that I couldn't seem to arrive there, any minute now.
My lungs are hurting. I can't breathe properly.
The reason of this trail is to tell us, "By losing something, you can gain something. To gain something you must lose something, as an equivalent exchange"
My body's getting heavier. I can't maintain my posture.
Everything isn't like a paradise or a dream. So, we must wake up from it, no matter how hard it is, no matter how scary it is, no matter how…sad it is.
Really, what kind of experiences are they expecting from a 12 year old kid?
As I blinked, I soon arrived at the last trail. "Prince Edward has reached the last trail!" Shiro exclaimed.
"But, look! Gino is chasing over him like a furious ostrich" Kuro added. "Hahaha!" The young man laughed, as the old man clenched his fist.
I continue to hold back my puke, as I wiped down my tears.
I soon reached the goal. As I won, the audience cheered and Gino came after me. I fell out of my horse.
It wasn't fatigue of trying to hold back myself from puking that made me fell. It was the weight of memories…
The struggling I felt seemed to have loosened, but it is still there. "Hahah…" I bit my lips, as I cried silently while the audience continued to shout.
Gino carried me out of the arena, as the next batch was to start their race. "Sorry to bother you like this, Gino…" I mumbled.
"It's okay! Aren't friends there for these kinds of bothers?" Gino chuckled.
I sobbed behind him. "Ed…" Gino mumbled. "I don't know what you saw at the third trail. I'm sure you wouldn't want to tell me. After all, it hurts just remembering it, right?"
"I won't tell you what I saw, as well. But, that's just for now" Gino continued. "Ed, until the time… No, even after you tell us about it, we're here for you.
Russell, Anna even if she's a bit shy, Kirt even if he's a bit lazy, Forth even if he's a pain in the ass, Reina even if she's kinda stubborn.
And me… we're here for you, Ed" He smiled, as I giggled. "Thanks..!" I sniffed, as I wiped my tears.
"Puu!" Lux greeted us, while he is carried by Mr. Gustav. "Lux, Mr. Gustav" I mumbled, as Gino put me down.
Mr. Gustav patted me, "Great job out there Ed-kun"
"Thank you sir!" I said, as Lux rode on my shoulder. He licked my cheeks. It looks like he was trying to wipe my tears. "Thanks Lux" I smiled.
Utopia. I kinda hated that trail for making me remember everything. But, I guess it was necessary.
After all, you can't just run away from things you need to overcome.
To help us overcome our fears, our nightmares. It was there to remind us about the happy end that is waiting us.
I think that "that" was the intent of that path.
It was like it is saying, "No matter how long the journey had been, no matter how hard things were, there is always hope!"
By losing something, you can gain something. To gain something you must lose something, as an equivalent exchange